Travelling with children can be as fun as it can be challenging, with some tour operators and accommodation facilities going all out to cater for the younger ones, while others have a strict no under-12s policy in place. It really depends on what the travelling family is seeking in their journey, and the budget that they have available for the trip.

While some industry players see no increase in demand for luxury travel with children, others such as Chris Anagnostellis, CEO of An African Anthology, say it has more to do with the market growing organically “as discretionary spend in high-end LSM individuals increases – admittedly though, as more luxury adventure opportunities come on to the market, so too will the market grow”. “A definite factor that will influence luxury adventure travel as an option would include favourable exchange rates where a substantial benefit on currency will entice the travel to ‘upscale’ the experience.”

Dean Cherry, Director of Nhongo Safaris and Vice Chairman of the Gauteng Chapter of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa), however, says he has noticed that many adults are opting to experience a luxury journey without the children, due to the high expense of this type of travel.

But, for those who are able to bring the children along, accommodation, transfer and activities service providers are creating innovative ways to include children in the itineraries and offerings, and keep them entertained in their own right. “Accommodation providers ensure that children are entertained with babysitters, child minders, kiddies’ welcome packs (this could include games, toys, books and other fun but educational activities), bush bumbles (mini game drives) and programmes that are specifically designed for children of different ages. An example of this would be the kiddies’ programme at Impodimo Game Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve, where there are numerous educational activities for the younger children at the lodge and its surroundings, and a junior ranger programme for the older children where they go on a guided bushwalk around the lodge to learn about the different fauna and flora, dung, animal tracks etc.,” says Anagnostellis.

Barriers to travelling with children

Some of the barriers to bringing children along on a luxury excursion to southern or East Africa are limitations from properties. “Certain properties do not allow children under the age of 12, and offer a different type of luxury for couples that do not have children,” says Cherry.

Anagnostellis says there is a wide spectrum of offerings when it comes to luxury travel that caters for the most discerning of travellers. “As the market for luxury travel grows, so will the offerings for accommodation, amenities and activities evolve. It is a very exciting segment of the market that will always grow with the demand.”