Memories of family holidays are always held close to the heart because it is time well spent with the people you love the most in the world. A Uganda safari with your family will definitely be that kind of holiday, the kind none of you ever forgets about, the adventure that you will all be glad you went on.
Although there are some risks and challenges when travelling in Uganda with kids, the numerous great national parks and water-based activities mean that Uganda can be a lot of fun for children. On the city side of things, Kampala isn’t exactly bursting with activities for young people, but Entebbe and Jinja have plenty on offer.
In general though, Uganda is a very child friendly place and your children will be good ambassadors/ice breakers for you. Some Lodges may have a minimum age limit for children but not many so do. Globetrotters Travel and Tours will definitely get you the matching offers for the composition of your travel lot.
There is NO danger in the different parks or the many Ugandan safaris you can choose from because most have guidelines and we as Globetrotters will be able to lay them out for you or even guide you through them.
Africa will always be one of the most exceptional destinations, rich in beauty and lots of places to explore. For many, it’s unexplored, wild and beautiful. So going along with your children to an African safari, let alone a Ugandan safari will definitely get your kids forever indebted to you after its conclusion
For some, travelling to Africa can be a daunting experience without proper planning. Backpacking with kids can be an even more challenging experience; but hey, adventure waits, so who says you can’t do it? At Globetreotters, we make sure it is done!
With planning and a few compromises here and there, backpacking with kids can be the most rewarding experience of your life and here’s why
Wraps as backpack carriers
Africa is big! And good African safaris consist of walking for long distances from time to time. Of course, children get tired quite quickly, especially when it is sunny. You need to have reliable ways to carry them comfortably for long hours because there’s nothing worse than having a kid who refuses to walk, and a few hours to the next pit stop.
The most common solutions for carrying children when backpacking in Africa include backpack carriers and traditional African cloth wraps, kikois or lessu. Wraps are appropriate as many Africans use them to carry babies and young children. They certainly make you blend into African society too on top of being very light.
Quality backpacks for all
A quality backpack is needed for any kind of fun travelling to reflect. Moving from place to place can be hectic, and the last thing you need is a bag that tears or splits because of wear and tear or poor quality.
Remember to get bags that match the kids’ sizes and yours too. The backpacks should also contain enough pockets though that shouldn’t mean that you pack more than you should. Travelling light with the right backpack improves mobility. I’m always amazed how much a good quality bag and tent improves the trip. Remember this is a Ugandan safari, a lot of pictures will be taken and this kind of small equipment needs a quality bag to ensure being safe from damage.
Backpacking is challenging given the different places that are unknown to you being on the agenda. Uganda or most African countries being poor, hygiene is not the best, mostly in regard to water.
Take some precautions and always have wet wipes or a damp cloth with you. You won’t always be served food you are used to, so you have to try out the street food delicacies. Many backpackers have reservations about eating street food but it’s better to keep a close look at how they prepare the food and you are the judge of whether it is clean or not. Muchomo (roasted meat), rolex, gonja are the main delicacies that you have to try out to have a lasting impression of Ugandan street food. A busy food stall is usually a good sign. You’re less likely to get a tummy bug from food that is cooked and sold promptly
Is the meat left out? What do they do with utensils once they’ve used them? Does the cook wash his hands? Does he look clean overall? Is the water fresh? Keep an eye on what your kids eat and come into contact with, and take steps to ensure that they maintain high standards of hygiene. Alcohol gel is a great help too!
The best tip is to eat at the busiest place where the locals go. If the food is popular with the, then you should be fine. Also, a busy restaurant or stall has to keep preparing fresh food. Food that seems to have been sitting around for a long time should be avoided.
Africa is a beautiful continent, full of loving and welcoming people; however, this does not mean that bad people don’t exist here. Many travellers have been victims of robbery and occasionally assault, and that does not exempt you and the kids. Please pick safe areas for visiting. Remember to set a few personal security measures, especially for the kids, since you will interact with many people as you travel.
Ensure that your property and valuables are out of sight. No child should have their travel documents with them since there is a high chance that they will lose them. All the kids should stick together; teach them to check in from time to time whether everyone is present. Setting some ground rules is very important because it ensures that you and your kids are safe.
As it happens, more and more people are discovering the magic of going on safari with their families. It is a great and exciting way to introduce your children to other cultures and ways of life, and to discover places beyond the borders of their home country.
There is of course a lot more to consider when travelling for an African safari with your family compared to when you’re travelling alone. You need to consider the length of the journey, the age of your children, which activities would be good for the whole family, the long drives through Africa, and so much more. But an African safari experience will be well worth it.
Yes you might have zoos back home that the children have visited, but the wilderness of Africa just cannot be replicated. Coming to Uganda and seeing the animals on a game drive, or enjoying a boat ride on the Murchison falls, or if they are old enough to track gorillas and see them up close, these are extremely unique experiences.
What should you keep in mind as you plan a Ugandan safari for your family?
First there are some activities that have an age limit. Gorilla trekking and chimpanzee tracking can’t be done by anyone under 15 years of age. So you cannot go gorilla trekking in the Bwindi Impenetrable forest with your children who are below 15 years old.
Some activities are just to tiring and exhausting for children, either because they take a long time or need a lot more strength and resilience than children can master. Volcano hikes for example take up to 8 hours. Most children would be tired before the four hour mark. So perhaps alternative activities for them such as guided walks and visits to the zoos, and game drives are might be friendlier.
Kibale forest has some alternative activities for children that they can do while you the adults go on your gorilla tracking expedition. They will be supervised by trained park staff and the children will be perfectly safe. At the end of the day you will all have stories to tell.
There are park entrance fees for both adults and children in Uganda. So if you are visiting one of the many national parks in Uganda, budget for park entrance fees for each of your family members except those below 5 years of age. Entrance fee for children below 15 year is usually about 15 dollars or less, children under 5 years get in for free.
Is there accommodation for an entire family?
Many of those do exist. There are hotels and lodges and tented camps that accommodate families very comfortably. Many of these have discounted prices for children, or when children stay in the same room.
Age limitations vary from one lodge, guest house or sometimes hotel to the next. Some do not mind children of any age, while others do have an age limit of some sort.
Most lodges and hotels have facilities such as swimming pools which will provide the both children and adults a chance to relax in the water, and to cool off from a day under the African sun.
Safari vehicles that can carry a family
There are safari vehicles that can carry large groups of people. Some safari vehicles are vans and can therefore comfortably carry a family. Safari vans are spacious and comfortable. So be sure to inform your tour operator to get you a vehicle that carries all of you, preferably a safari van.
Food and snacks:
There is a lot to eat in the lodges and hotels and as you travel through the country. There are very many fruits to choose from such as bananas, apples, and some snacks like chips and cookies, and fast foods like chips and fish, or burgers, pizza and so much more or there but there is also Uganda’s cuisine to look out for.
There is a variety of soft drinks for you and the children to enjoy. There is juice such as Splash, sodas like coke, fanta, Pepsi, and bottled water. Fresh juice is also available, and there is tea, coffee, and various other drinks. It is advisable to carry cool drinks and snacks if you are going out game viewing with the children.
What are some of the interesting and fun things that children can enjoy on a Uganda safari?
A Uganda safari with the family is the perfect opportunity for you and your children to learn about other cultures. There are so many opportunities to learn about the cultures in Uganda. You can visit a village with the help and guidance of your safari operator and watch and listen to local entertainment groups perform traditional songs and traditional dances, learn how to play a Ugandan musical instrument, or to prepare a local dish. The children can interact with Ugandan children in nearby school and the cultural exchange and education will be an amazing experience because Ugandan children are so friendly and hospitable.
Visit the game parks:
Uganda has about 10 national game parks and each one of them is unique. There is a variety of wildlife and birds to see, crater lakes, rivers, waterfalls, all of this beauty can be enjoyed by your children. There is Queen Elizabeth national park, Kibale national park, Murchison falls national park, and many more. You will see everything from elephants, to zebras to lions, tree climbing lions, and gorillas and chimpanzees. Some parks such as Murchison falls national park even offer interesting boat rides.
Children like to go camping, so they will most probably enjoy the tented camp lodging that is available near most of the national parks.
If you visit Jinja with your older children you can enjoy the River Nile in ways you hadn’t hoped to before. You can go white water rafting, or bungee jumping or enjoy a sunset cruise on the Nile and have an exciting adventure as a family. You could also go horseback riding.
Who to contact to help plan and prepare for the trip
Get in touch with us at Globetrotters Travel and Tours to get the best advice on how to effectively plan and book the right safari facilities for you and your family. We will help you plan a family friendly Uganda safari holiday that you will not regret.
A family safari in Uganda is a very good way to bond and strengthen family bonds and just have fun together with unbelievable memories to keep.