Africa has a lot to offer families, but it's important to visit places that actively welcome children, rather than simply accept them. Africa isn't ideal for babies or very small children, who should avoid areas with malaria. However for interested children, who are old enough to understand what they see, Africa can be an amazing and inspiring place.

Private houses and villas can be ideal for families. In recent years, we've seen more families travelling together, and a rise in small groups of like-minded friends sharing a trip. Both work best when they have their own space and flexibility in their meals and activities. Often a private villa can be an ideal solution, and many of these come with their own private chef and even a private safari guide.


Family holidays in Tanzania

South Africa's Cape is free of malaria and the obvious choice for families with small children – so many, many places welcome children. What's more, self-drive trips here (and in Namibia) enable you to travel at your own pace and stop where you like to explore – so the Cape is the first Africa stop for many families.Picking the best family options is difficult because of the vast choice, but a few stand out. In Cape Town the Vineyard Hotel is very comfortable, and has all the facilities for children that you'd expect in a large hotel like cots available and a child-minding service, plus large gardens in which to play, a great swimming pool, etc.On the Cape's southern coast, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is an outstanding option for families because of its dedicated activities for younger visitors – which vary from early-morning pony-feeding, to petting sessions with small farm animals, pony- and horse-riding, and guided beachcombing and bug-collecting.Further east, Hog Hollow is a great-value option for families, with a friendly team; fun, funky family rooms; and it's close to some lovely self-guided walking trails around the forests and beaches of Tsitsikamma National Park.In the game parks of the Eastern Cape, the fairly economic Elephant House makes a comfortable base for self-drive trips including Addo Elephant Park – it's close to the gate and very family-friendly. For guided game-viewing experience, Ecca Lodge welcomes children and is a good choice, whilst its sister-camps on Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, Uplands Homestead or Melton Manor, are usually booked for exclusive occupancy – ideal if you're looking for the flexibility of a private villa, and don't mind a fairly high price tag.(See more of our top places for family holidays in Tanzania

Family trips to Kenya

In Namibia, many smaller guest farms and lodges welcome children. New Bushmen playmates at Nhoma can be wonderful, whilst active children will relish the hands-on approach at Mundulea. Sand-boarding and kayaking near Swakopmund are tremendous fun and Sossusvlei is perhaps the world's largest sandpit! Meanwhile, the national park restcamps in Etosha have four-bed bungalows suitable for self-driving families – and many of the countries lodges have 'family rooms' where parents and children have adjoining bedroom, sharing a bathroom.For great privacy and flexibility, both Okonjima and Mushara have excellent private villas, whilst Wolwedans also has a 'private camp' that can be booked by small parties.(Read more about the best spots for family holidays in Namibia.

Family holidays in Uganda

Many of Zambia's safari camps are small and run directly by their owner – some of whom will have children, or at least have brought up their own children there. Because of this, these can be very welcoming to families. This would include smaller, family-owned camps, like Tafika, Chiawa Camp and Chongwe River Camp.Across Africa, there are relatively few lodges in big game areas which are really family-friendly, but Zambia's 'safari houses' are. They run with their own guide, activities and chef and they stand out for offering not only great safaris for small groups of adults, but also for opening up some of Africa's wilder areas to families. There is nothing 'toy' or 'cut-down' about these safaris; they offer great areas, top guides and excellent game, but with the high degree of flexibility that families need.