Travelling to Botswana with toddlers & babies
Travelling to Botswana with toddlers and babies on safari may seem a daunting prospect but with a bit of planning it is much easier than you think. For a safe and rewarding Botswana safari with activities for the whole family, it’s simply a question of when you go and where you go.
To set the scene: Botswana is perhaps the most politically and socially stable country in Africa; border-crossings are trouble-free, crime is very low, and natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornados are unheard of. Your main concerns as a parent of a toddler or baby travelling to Botswana are probably – in no particular order – the weather; malaria; dangerous animals; and the safety of safari transport and your accommodation.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT TIME TO TRAVEL
Two of these concerns – malaria and the weather – can be dealt with right away. Travel to Botswana in winter – between the beginning of May and the end of August – and you’ll enjoy the year’s mildest and driest weather. It barely rains at all during this period, humidity is very low (down to 20%) and you won’t have to deal with the baking heat of summer. In fact, winter nights are cold – it can drop to below freezing in the Kalahari – and you’ll need warm clothes for your morning game drives when temperatures average 6°C (42°F). Things warm up quickly however to around 25°C (78°F), making the lodge’s swimming pool an afternoon option.
The cold weather and lack of rain mean also that the risk of malaria is at its lowest of the year. Indeed, malaria is always a fairly marginal risk for travellers to Botswana since safaris are always set far from urban centres which are the main centres of malaria infection. And now, without standing water to breed in and the chill of winter in the air, malaria-carrying mosquitos are in the dormant stage of their life cycle, leaving behind a mostly insect-free winter landscape. Nevertheless, it is still recommended that you consult a medical practitioner about malaria before you travel.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT DESTINATION
Only a few safari lodges accept toddlers and babies on safari so your options are always going to be a little limited but the available accommodation is located in Botswana’s best wildlife destinations and are happy to welcome families of all ages.
The easiest destination in Botswana for a young family to go on safari is the Chobe River area. It’s where you’ll find hotel-type lodges as well as some of the best game viewing in Africa. Back at the lodge you’ll enjoy hotel comfort and convenience – air conditioning, kids’ menus, baby-sitters and activity centres – while out on safari you’ll be marvelling at elephants, hippos and giraffes by 4X4 and boat. You’ll need a private guide and vehicle – that’s easy to arrange from the lodge – and this will give you flexibility and independence when it comes to your safari activities.
Another good destination for families with toddlers and babies is Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and especially the delta’s dry-land fringes – the Moremi Game Reserve and Linyanti area. It’s excellent game viewing during the winter season and there are camps with family accommodation available in the form of large, insect-proof tented suites, raised above the ground and inter-connected for peace of mind. Complete with their own bathroom and lounge, these suites have the added bonus of electric lighting – useful to have in the middle of the night!
SAFETY ON SAFARI
Botswana is rightly famous for its abundance of wild and potentially dangerous animals but there are very few incidents involving them and safari visitors. Some of our recommended accommodation for toddlers and babies is fenced to keep out large animals, but even those without fences rarely have a problem. Animals tend to steer clear of the lodges and even those that do wander through are uninterested in people. The lodges are extremely well-run with experienced local management: dealing with wildlife at camp is part of the daily routine; you’ll be briefed on arrival and escorted to and from your accommodation if you wish.
And although you may safer in a conventional hotel room, the tented suites of Botswana’s bush camps are seen as large, solid and immovable objects by animals – you are as safe in your tent as in the hotel room!
Travelling on safari in Botswana generally means small aeroplanes and 4X4 vehicles: you’ll fly from lodge to lodge – a journey of typically between 20 minutes and an hour or so – in the hands of some of the most experienced bush pilots in the business; you’ll travel on land in open-sided but canvas-topped game drive vehicles. Roads are usually bumpy and can be dusty at this time of year but drivers are professional and speeds are low – especially on game drives. Safety equipment for toddlers and babies such as car seats and cots can be arranged as can dietary requirements – just make sure you give plenty of notice beforehand.
- Botswana Family Safaris – Main Page
- Children’s Activities in Victoria Falls
- Travelling to Botswana with children
- Travelling to Botswana with Teens
- Kids Activities In Botswana
- Is Botswana Safe for Children
- Botswana Malaria Risk For Children