Africa is a hugely disparate and diverse continent with the potential to offer a family holiday like no other. There are loads of options for parents travelling with babies and toddlers. Planning is vital when travelling to Africa as some countries are unstable and dangerous and there are health risks such as malaria in other areas. Some countries popular with families include South Africa, the Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia and Zanzibar in Tanzania. If you are going on safari, it is best to bring older kids as there is a lot of sitting still and bumping around which would not appeal to most babies and toddlers.
Egypt is a firm favorite for Western travellers but be aware that there are currently security issues surrounding flights to the Sinai Peninsula and until these have been resolved it would be best to delay booking for this region to avoid disappointment. Tourists are also advised to be vigilant when travelling to Tunisia due to the risk of terrorism. There are certainly other parts of Africa which are no go areas due to political and civil unrest. Kenya was a favorite for holiday makers in the 90s but there has recently been an increased threat of terror attacks. Malaria is another issue when travelling with a baby or toddler and it is advisable to avoid areas where malaria is prevalent. When planning a trip to Africa it is vital to plan well and research your destination thoroughly.
When to Travel to Africa
As a general rule, Africa is warm and sunny throughout most of the year but certain countries and even regions within a country experience a variety of climates. If you plan on going on safari, do your research or ask your travel agent the best time to go. Different seasons bring different weather but also different sightings. The wildebeest migration is one of the most incredible things you will see but go at the wrong time of year and you might not see many animals. The best times of year to go on safari in East Africa differs from the best time in South Africa.December to March are the best time for a beach holiday in Cape Town and the rest of South Africa and beach holiday destinations in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Mauritius and the Seychelles are generally considered year-round destinations.
Baby and Toddler Essentials
Outside the main cities, you can assume that disposable nappies, powdered formula and baby food that your child is used to won’t be available, so bring everything you need with you. Child car seats, high chairs in restaurants and cots in hotels are rare except in top-end hotels in tourist areas. Bring a car seat if you will be travelling a lot by car or taxi and a fold away high chair for eating out. A sling or baby carrier is also a must if you will be travelling around historical monuments or visiting temples or local markets which can be crowded and difficult to manoeuvre around with a stroller.
A visit to a GP with travel vaccination experience is a must and you can check on the health situation in various countries on the WHO and NHS Fit for Travel websites.
Africa’s most popular tourist destinations cater well to families and good hotels will offer high chairs, cots and food suitable for younger children. Buying your essentials may be more difficult in certain countries and you should be prepared to set aside a good portion of your baggage allowance for nappies, formula and food. Visa requirements and vaccinations vary depending on the country that you are travelling to so research your trip well in advance of booking.