Q. We would like to take our children on safari for a week during autumn half term. We are keen to keep the trip fairly independent and would like to know if there are any companies offering flexible safari holidays for families, perhaps with some other activities. Our children are aged four and nine and our budget is £5,000.
J Martin, Rochester

Q. We would like to take our children on safari for a week during autumn half term. We are keen to keep the trip fairly independent and would like to know if there are any companies offering flexible safari holidays for families, perhaps with some other activities. Our children are aged four and nine and our budget is £5,000.
J Martin, Rochester

A. Finding a suitable family safari is not as problematic as it once was, although there are still a number of camps where children are not allowed, mainly because they are open to wild animals which wander through.

South Africa is a good option for a safari with children as certain regions have been declared malaria-free, resulting in a boom in safari camps and private resorts. It is increasingly possible to find safari operators that offer flexible packages to suit a range of family needs.

It is also a good place to go in October - the end of the dry season, when game viewing is at its peak. The shortage of water forces a huge variety of wildlife to congregate at waterholes.

Bushbaby Travel (020- 8780 0363; www.bushbabytravel.com) specialises in bespoke family holidays in South Africa. Most of its featured regions are malaria-free, with the exception of a handful of areas including Kruger National Park and parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

Generally speaking, children under eight are not permitted on adult game drives due to the length of the drives and potential danger in approaching large game. However, Bushbaby offers shorter safari drives specifically for children, with games and activities before and after.

An eight-day package based at the Winchester Mansions Hotel in Cape Town and Mark's Camp in the Lalibela Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape offers a good combination of safari and marine activities. October in Cape Town is peak whale-watching season and your children could also see African penguins and seals, which congregate around Boulders Bay at this time of year, as well as "the Big Five" - rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo - in the Lalibela Game Reserve.

The package would cost £4,980 for the four of you, departing on 21 October. This includes return flights with South African Airways from Heathrow to Cape Town, transfers, four nights bed and breakfast in a family suite at the Winchester Mansions Hotel, and three nights all inclusive in a family suite at Mark's Camp, as well as car hire and camp activities.

Facilities at Mark's Camp include a playroom and programmed activities with two daily children's game drives, which adults can also join.

Other activities could include a trip to Table Mountain, Cape Point or the many beaches at Camps and Hout Bay. Having your own car would also mean you could explore the area independently should you wish.

Aardvark Safaris (01980 849 160; www.aardvarksafaris.com) also specialises in family safaris throughout Africa. Its packages take into consideration children's ages, interests and concentration levels. Groups of four to six people are assigned a private guide and host on game drives. Accommodation ranges from luxury hotels to mobile camps. Aardvark also offers private houses in South Africa and Kenya, whilst several new houses in Zambia are due to be up and running by September.

One of Aardvark's destinations is Kenya - another popular option for families, though you will need to protect your family against malaria. October is usually dry, and temperatures should not be too uncomfortable for your children.

One week would cost £4,995 for the four of you, departing on 22 October. This includes return flights with Kenya Airways from Heathrow to Nairobi and transfers. The accommodation comprises four nights half-board in a family room at Hemingways Hotel on the beach in Watamu, and three nights all inclusive at Kicheche Camp - a secluded bush camp with 11 tents looking out on the grassy plains of the Masai Mara. The camp also provides free crèche and babysitting facilities.

Safari activities include family game drives, walking safaris and educational activities for children, such as learning the medicinal uses of plants.

An October safari would also give you a unique opportunity to witness the wildebeest and zebra migration from the Serengeti. Both the camp and hotel are small with game drives taking groups of only four to six people at a time. Hemingways Hotel also has a white sandy beach, from which you could go out snorkelling on the nearby coral reef.

The one remaining issue to consider is the flight time to Africa. Nairobi is over eight hours from Heathrow, while the 6,000-mile long haul from Cape Town to London takes nearly 12 hours - perhaps not the most restful way to end a half-term holiday.

Send your family travel questions to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or e-mail crusoe@independent.co.uk

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