As far as luxury safaris go, Botswana is an easy destination to love. Committed to conservation, some 40 per cent of the land area is protected. Within a nation smaller than Texas, a dizzying diversity of landscapes is represented: the UNESCO-inscribed Okavango Delta, Linyanti wetlands, a Kalahari heartland, and the lunar-like Makgadikgadi Salt Pan. Uncrowded by design, it’s a slow travel enthusiast’s dream.
However, for all that Botswana and its luxury lodges are, child-friendly is not always the case. Between unfenced, water-adjacent camps to activities with minimum age requirements and scaled-back amenities, our family safari experts collectively agree: 12 and older is the ideal age to best enjoy “the elephant capital of the world.” That said, parents of grade-schoolers need not write off Botswana entirely. At these three best family safari camps, family-friendly doesn’t just mean “all ages accepted”—rather, a warm hospitality hug embraces young, curious minds.
The Best Family Safari in Botswana’s Okavango Delta
Young Explorers at Shinde Footsteps, Okavango Delta
Imagine having the entire run of a fully serviced safari camp all to yourself and your kids. There are no other guests to accommodate or bother, so you set the schedule according to naps and interests. A knowledgeable, specialist family guide leads your brood on bush bumbles and game drives that aren’t too long, aren’t too short, but are just right for little’s abilities and attention spans. A smattering of activities like primitive fire making, bushcraft, and animal track identification disguise learning through fun. Welcome to Young Explorers, a three-night, four-day exclusive-use program for adventurous families hosted at Shinde Footsteps Camp set within a private concession in the Okavango Delta. The camp features three Meru tents, each with an ensuite washroom and flush toilets, to accommodate as many as six guests. Picky-eater-approved meals are prepared by a chef in the bush kitchen. Upon completion, each child receives a certificate, T-shirt, and cap. Those seeking a more upscale experience can request a Young Explorers upgrade to the nearby five-star Shinde Enclave.
Machaba Camp, Okavango Delta
Shaded by riverine trees and looking upon the Khwai River, all ages welcome Machaba is styled as a classic, mid-century, under-canvas safari camp. Located in an 86,000-acre concession in the northeastern Okavango Delta, consistent year-round game viewing is guaranteed to tease squeals of delight from kids and parents alike. Elephant, giraffe, hippo, zebra, lion, and hyena are reoccurring cast members. Families take sanctuary in one of two luxury Family Suites, each accommodating four persons across two bedrooms (configured either as a king or two twins) spanning a generous 1,076 square feet. The sleeping spaces are separated by an indoor living room and obscured by roll-down walls. One of the Family Suites is wheelchair accessible. Amenities aside, it’s the generosity and warmth of Machaba’s staff, management, and guiding team who make the camp feel like home for roving families. Laid back and unfussy, young guests aren’t just tolerated, they’re embraced. Note: Families with children younger than six require a game vehicle be booked on a private-use basis. It’s an added expense (frankly, we feel private vehicles offer a better safari experience for kids), but overall, the camp is pleasingly positioned as affordable luxury.
The Best Family Safari in Botswana’s Kalahari
Camp Kalahari, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
A visit to Botswana’s otherworldly Makgadikgadi Salt Pans might as well be a trip to the moon. Seated at the edge of this sublime, sunbaked terrain, fully fenced Camp Kalahari offers 12 Meru-style tents scattered among a grove of acacia and mokolwane palms. Dedicated Family Tents accommodate two parents and two children in separate bedroom tents connected by a washroom. A communal thatched swimming pavilion offers kids—and sometimes elephants! —a mid-day reprieve from the sun. Meals are without pomp and circumstance, served family-style at the long table. When not enjoying a game drive, Camp Kalahari guests spend their time horseback riding, quad biking on the pans (seasonal), enjoying up-close encounters with a charismatic family of habituated meerkats, and in the company of Zu/hoasi bushmen on interpretive walks and other guided experiences. With its lower price point and all-ages-welcome child policy, Camp Kalahari is a popular choice for families.
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