Family travel – especially big or extended families travelling together – can prove a bit chaotic and more costly, but there is something so special about experiencing and sharing superb safari experiences with your children and partner. Most safari camps and lodges also have one or two family suites where adjoining rooms or tents allow mom and dad their own space, while still ensuring the kids are close by and safe, because you can move between the family tents or rooms at night without having to step outside and worry about wild animals. From a family perspective, it is also worth emphasising that Tanzania is a largely safe country where violent crime against foreigners is incredibly rare.
Tanzania’s northern safari circuit is prime wildlife-viewing country. Although not renowned for its affordability, kids will love seeing the well-habituated animals, as well as the vibrant Maasai culture. A good selection of child-friendly lodges, camps, hotels and restaurants ensures that there is plenty of choice. The southern safari circuit is definitely a more adventurous option and should probably be restricted to families with older children who will better appreciate longer and wilder safaris in open-top game viewing vehicles.
The mellow beaches of Zanzibar and the other Spice Islands are reason enough to recommend the Indian Ocean islands as ideally suited to families and children. Many Zanzibari hotels also have swimming pools (ideal for swimming with kids in a controlled environment when seas are rough or while the tide is out) as well as spacious hotel grounds where kids can run wild and burn off energy in a safe place. Because many families visit Zanzibar, there is also a wide choice of child-friendly cuisine on almost every menu.
Families travelling with small kids and tighter budgets might find it easier to base themselves in major centres like Arusha (where there are shops, medical facilities and other support services) and do shorter excursions from that base. An example of an easy and rewarding daytrip would be to nearby Arusha National Park where there is plenty of wildlife, but for the full experience a trip further afield to Ngorongoro Crater, Tarangire or Lake Manyara would be more impressive.
Ngorongoro Crater with its nearby family-friendly accommodation is especially well-suited to families and young children, while the extremely relaxed and abundant wildlife should keep even the most restless children engaged and excited. Furthermore, children under eighteen also get sizeable discounts on daily park fees and permits to climb Kilimanjaro.
It would be unfair – almost cruel – to bring your children to Tanzania and not finish off with at least some time to explore the Spice Islands and enjoy the surrounding warm-water and white-sand beaches. Zanzibar Island has an abundance of lovely east-coast beaches with soft sand and calm seas, while most resorts also have a swimming pool. For families with more of a sense of adventure, or looking to get away from the crowds, Mafia Island with its little beaches, exciting dhow rides and top quality snorkelling is the place to head with your children.