Tanzania has much to offer families - excellent wildlife in seven of its parks and plenty of variety of activities from wonderful flycamps under the stars to private houses with swimming pools. Here's our pick of the bunch:
1. A Light Tented Safari
Combine the highlights of the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti with quieter, lesser visited areas of Northern Tanzania. Travelling with your own private guide and landrover to ensure that game drives happen at a pace that suits you and the children, stay in simple tented camps set up in unspoilt and wildlife-rich areas. Many people experience only the melee of the tourist hotspots, escape all that and stay in tented splendour beneath the Rift Valley escarpment; walk up waterfalls and watch quietly as herds of elephant come to drink beneath you. Or escape to a remote wilderness zone in the Serengeti where vehicles aren’t allowed. See Manyara Light tented Camp and Serengeti Light tented camp
2. Your own private safari house
As a family, one of the things you’ll value most when you get to Africa is flexibility to plan your days as you go. You'll want to make or change plans according to how you feel each day. Get up early one day and be out before dawn. Take a picnic and return to camp at dusk. Other days, sleep-in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast in camp heading out for a gentle bit of game-viewing before returning for lunch and a glass of cold white wine and a swim. Private safari houses like Kiba Point in the Selous of Mkombe’s House in the Serengeti are all about this approach to safari. You’ll have a highly experienced private guide and vehicle at your disposal and meals can all be planned to suit you.
3. Mix it up: Boat, drive, walk
There’s nothing like a bit of variety to keep children engaged on safari. Selous and Ruaha in Southern Tanzania offer the ideal combination for families. Both have fewer visitors than the north and both are home to prodigious wildlife. Safaris are in open-sided 4x4 landrovers. Ruaha is known for very large herds of buffalo, a strong elephant population and it’s an excellent place to see lion and leopard. Early morning game drives along the Mwagusi or Mdonya Rivers often turn up large cats soaking up the rays on a crisp morning air. Selous is bisected by the massive Rufiji River where boat safaris are a great contrast to days spent in a vehicle. Throw a line in and try to catch a tigerfish while gently drifting past phalanxes of hippo and of crocodiles.
4. Strike off on a walking safari
For families with older children (at least 12 years old) there are few experiences as memorable as a walking safari. Supported by a lightweight mobile camp and lead by a highly experienced armed guide, this is not only an exhilarating experience, it’s also one of the best ways to unplug and leave facebook and the internet behind. Learn to identify the sound of ox-peckers that betray the presence of dangerous game like buffalo – or how to read tracks and the wind, to creep up unseen on elephant. By night sleep under the stars in simple mosquito net tents. Safaris like this in Ruaha are genuinely life-changing experiences.
5. Beach and bush
The great thing about Tanzania is that it not only offers world-class wildlife including most of the major African mammal species in seven of its National Parks, it also has some of Africa’s best white sandy beaches. Zanzibar is the best known of the beach destinations with pristine white beached on the east coast in particular. If you like the idea of somewhere a little more off the radar then consider Pemba Island, just to the north and originally at the heart of the global spice trade. Mafia Island to the South is an excellent place for keen snorkelersand divers, while those looking for the ultimate desert island escape could do a lot worse then trying Fanjove Island with it’s beguiling 19th Century lighthouse built from coral stone.