Travel experts will tell you to take your kids to South Africa, where the ample activities—from safaris and surfing to wine tasting and museum hopping—promise something for every age group. But for a pure family wilderness experience, nothing beats Botswana.
Rife with exceptional safari lodges, the sparsely populated southern African country is one of the continent’s safest destinations and arguably its best for game viewing—a real plus when traveling with children. “The ability to hold children’s attention is a priority, and with such a high-density wildlife environment, you stand a good chance of keeping them engaged most of the day,” says Will Jones, owner and founder of the safari outfitter Journeys by Design. “But Botswana also makes the ideal family safari destination due to the diversity of activities on offer between both wet and dry-land activities. When not on game drives, there are plenty of water-based canoe experiences, as well as tracking wildlife on foot with bushmen.”
Indeed, in addition to being ideal habitat for elephants, hippopotamuses, and other big-ticket species, Botswana’s floodplains deliver amusement-park-like adventures by jeep, motorboat, canoe, helicopter, and foot. Some activities are better for older children—12 and up—but younger kids can partake in several of the perspective-altering experiences that Botswana has on offer.
Families also have plenty of options when it comes to luxury safari lodges in Botswana. Tops on our list are the Great Plains Conservation lodges in the wildlife-rich Selinda and Duba Plains concessions. The latter is a 190,000-acre private reserve in a section of the Okavango Delta known for its lion-versus-buffalo battles—clashes that are sure to hold any safari goer’s attention.