Nurturing a love of nature through the lens

Taking your children on safari opens the door to so many amazing things, especially where photography is concerned. Put a camera in your child’s hands and watch the magic unfold…

We’re often asked what there is to do for children on safari and whether there’s enough in the African wilderness to keep youngsters enthralled and away from their devices. The simple answer? Absolutely!

We take our own kids (and their cameras!) on safari, and because we specialize in creating itineraries especially for families, one of the things we focus on when putting them together is carefully selecting camps and lodges that are most renowned for engaging with younger safari‐goers, and giving them plenty of options to do all sorts of exciting age-appropriate activities while on safari.

From learning about tracking and going on guided bush walks, to even studying animal scat, dedicated ‘kids on safari’ programs are designed to actively connect children with the African wilderness, and the plants and animals that call it home.

A great way to get them truly hooked on the great African outdoors is to let them focus on it through the viewfinder of a digital camera!

Bush, camera, action!

There’s one thing we’ve noticed on our travels that engages children with fascination while on safari, and that’s taking photographs. Putting a digital camera into a child’s hands and encouraging them to capture what they see in pictures or video creates a portal through which most kids jump with both feet!

It’s the challenge of learning about the camera and mastering the technology combined with the thrill of looking for exciting things to take pictures, and creatively capturing these moments in their own unique way that often leads to them wanting to pursue photography more seriously as a dedicated hobby.

Children love their smartphones with their sophisticated cameras that take fabulous photos and videos. Just look at TikTok if you don’t believe us! But while smartphones are sufficient on safari, there’s nothing like a state‐of‐the‐art bridge camera or fully-fledged digital SLR to get young creative juices flowing on safari!

Your next family safari could give your kids the chance to discover their inner photographer! But what camera should you give them as an entry-level introduction to the art of photography? Let’s have a look at some popular options.

The hardware

At this level, cameras are divided into two camps:

  • Digital bridge cameras offer a great range of features without having to change lenses
  • Digital single‐lens reflex (DSLR) cameras require you to change lenses to suit the kind of image you want to take.

Bridge cameras

When it comes to bridge cameras, you’re combining the convenience and portability of a compact camera. They’re lightweight, easy to carry around, and offer superb zoom capabilities and amazing 4K video capabilities for vlogging, TikToking and whatever it is that kids do these days to stay hip and trendy in cyberspace.

Incredibly versatile, bridge cameras are excellent for taking wildlife and action shots, and can equally capture amazing landscapes and dramatic wide‐angle images that make them perfect for safaris. The camera settings allow budding photographers to easily learn about the more technical aspects of photography such as apertures, exposures and shutter speeds, all the while developing their eye and honing their skills through practice.

Our favorite bridge cameras:

  • Sony RX10 IV
  • Nikon P1000
  • Panasonic Lumix FZ82
  • Canon PowerShot SX70 HS

DSLR cameras

Where DSLRs are concerned, there are a great many entry-level cameras out there designed specifically with beginners in mind. They all offer excellent image quality and enable your child to try out more technically advanced techniques and shooting styles through their experimentation with light, shade, angles, and subject matter – which, on safari, offers every kind of subject matter imaginable in just a single day’s adventure: wild action shots, zoomed in wildlife portraits, macro-captures of tiny botanical specimens, vast sunlit plains, and happy humans! The possibilities are endless – and brand new with each safari day!

The fact that these cameras are dubbed ‘entry-level’ definitely doesn’t detract from the quality of what’s available, with many professionals rating these cameras for the excellent little workhorses they are.

Our favorite DSLR cameras:

  • Canon Rebel SL3/EOS 250D
  • Nikon D3500
  • Pentax K‐70
  • Olympus OM‐D E‐M10 Mark IV
  • If your kid has a keen interest in video: Panasonic Lumix G100 or Sony A6000

And then there is the mirrorless camera!

The future of digital cameras is, of course, more expensive but definitely worth the investment, as the new and ever-evolving technology of mirrorless cameras provides an even more safari-friendly camera experience: smaller, lighter and without a doubt, the best choice for video and vlogging. Though you won’t quite get the battery-life of a standard DSLR, you get completely silent shooting.

  • For entry-level mirrorless cameras, have a look at the Sony ZV‐E10

Who knows, on your next safari, you could just have a future NatGeo Wild documentary-maker sitting next to you!

Whichever camera you choose for your child, rest assured that taking both into the African wilderness on safari is the ultimate way to ignite a lifelong love for nature and an exhilarating and beautifully fulfilling creative hobby. Who knows where it will lead?