This is the perfect trip for adventurous parents… Great animals, lots of biology experiments seen up close… and confidence-building for youngsters 🙂 There’s nothing like seeing a lion attack a gazelle to experience fear and awe in the same moment, AND understand the circle of life…
WSJ: Despite all the warnings, a trip to Tanzania with a toddler and an 8-year-old turned out to be a dream vacation for the whole family
Months earlier, when we’d told friends that we planned to take our children to Africa, they mostly admonished us. The water’s not safe. The bugs are vicious. The kids will get bored on long drives. They won’t remember any of it.
Their doubts only emboldened us. We’d lived in India through my eldest daughter’s toddler years and considered ourselves seasoned travelers. The three of us horsebacked across Kashmir, rode elephants into the grasslands of Assam, took a palanquin into the caves of Ajanta. Then, in 2008, we moved back to the U.S. We bought a house. We had a second child. Vacations became three-day weekends in the Catskills or Berkshires, beach rentals up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
I missed adventure and wanted to expose my children to more. Tanzania felt like a logical destination. Its pleasant dry season runs from June through October, overlapping with the kids’ summer holiday. My college roommate lives in Dar es Salaam, so we had an in-country contact in case of an emergency.
Plus, African safaris are attracting a lot more families these days, including some with very young children, according to tour operators. When planning our trip, which included stops in Istanbul and Zanzibar, I requested safari quarters where little ones would be welcome (many lodges bar children under 12). To our surprise, we were offered high chairs, baby cots and special kid-friendly meals as we made our way around Tanzania.
“I was not getting very young kids on safari until this year,” said Stacy Readal, founder and director of Duma Explorer, the Tanzania-based travel company that planned our trip. She recently set up around-the-world itineraries for three American families whose kids were mostly under 15, and had a 3-year-old on safari in October. She sent a booster seat for our younger daughter to the camp her company operates—and intends to keep it there. Duma also provided baby blankets and a travel playpen.