Family Travel

Traveling as a family can be a great opportunity to spend quality time together away from hectic schedules that tie up our everyday lives. It can provide children with unbelievable, "hands on" learning experiences and inspire young minds to understand, respect, and appreciate other cultures and environments.

However, traveling as a family is not without its hazards and can create added challenges for the safety, health, and enjoyment of everyone involved. With this in mind, we have created a family suggestion sheet to help you make the most out of your experience abroad. Below are some general tips that apply to any of our adventures and some tour-by tour comments to help you decide if a specific trip is right for your family. For more information, please contact us anytime. We look forward to helping you create the perfect adventure for your family!

Country By Country Recommendations :


Some helpful tips…

Choose an adventure as a family. Include your kids of all ages in the decision-making process. Show them pictures, talk about what you are hoping to experience, and don't forget to discuss some of the challenges you might encounter such as people who don't speak their language, strange foods, long walks, unscheduled time, etc.

Research the area. Make it a family project to learn about the country you will be traveling to. Encourage children to read books and/or watch films before the trip. Help your children think up questions that they would like to ask while they are there.

Consider health precautions. Contact your pediatrician to find out minimum age recommendations for suggested immunizations. Don't forget to discuss any specific health concerns for your child that might be aggravated by the stresses of overseas travel. Pack a basic first-aid kit including Band-Aids, pain relievers, anti-itch lotion, and anti-diarrhea medication.

Pack the essentials. Make sure all children pack their favorite book or portable game, along with travel games to keep them entertained during long flights or airport layovers. Bring crayons, pens, paper, etc in your carry-on so that kids can quickly access these items.
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Amazon Tours

Amazon tours are a great choice for families interested in wildlife and nature. Adventure Life offers a variety of rainforest tours, each with a distinctly different flavor. Tours range from extremely remote and rustic to quite comfortable.

Sacha Lodge, in Ecuador, is probably the best Amazon travel option for families with younger children, as the well-trained staff has a lot of experience with children and school groups. Sacha Lodge offers a variety of activities to interest kids of all ages including a canopy walk, butterfly house, canoe trip, parrot lick, and a lake for swimming. It has Western-style facilities with private cabins, high thatched roofs, shaded terraces, and an excellent mix of local and international cuisine, and a well-trained staff.

Our shorter Peru Amazon Extension is also a great choice for younger children as the lodge is comfortable, transfers are relatively short (~1 ½ hours), and this extension can be as short as 2-3 days (a nice option for kids with limited attention spans!).

Most of our other Peru and Bolivia rainforest tours tend to be better options for older children, as these lodges are particularly remote with long transfers and relatively rustic accommodations. Families that don't mind the extra transfer time and simpler facilities are rewarded with some of the best wildlife viewing in the Amazon. Lodges such as Tambopata, Manu, and Chalalan are world famous for their authentic rainforest locations and eco-friendly policies. These tours are an excellent choice for the families who enjoy getting away from modern distractions and want a pure "back to nature" experience.

For all Amazon options, the weather can commonly include heat, humidity, and rain during your stay. Please pack appropriately and don't forget the insect repellant!

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Antarctica Cruises

Antarctica offers dramatic landscapes, stunning wildlife, and exciting adventure activities such as kayaking and ice camping. These experiences can provide once in a lifetime travel memories to delight the senses of travelers of all ages. However, these unique sea voyages are not a good choice for every family. Parents should carefully consider the interests and limitations of their own children before deciding on an Antarctica tour.

Getting to Antarctica takes much longer than traditional cruise voyages and the relatively small boats have much fewer facilities than a typical cruise ship. These long voyages at sea can become tiresome for even the most hearty child traveler. Entertainment options onboard are often limited to educational lectures, wildlife viewing, and whatever you pack along. Be sure to bring plenty of books, arts and crafts materials, puzzles, or other age-appropriate entertainment options. You may also want to consider upgrading to a larger room or suite to give kids more room to spread out. A few of the larger luxury vessels do offer additional facilities such as swimming pools, cinemas, or in-room television that can also help keep kids occupied.

Since family travel to Antarctica is a relatively new concept, it is unlikely that there will be other children onboard for your kids to play with. Talk with your kids in advance to prepare them for this situation and for the trip demands in general. The more that your family researches and selects options together, the more fun everyone will have!

Since there is no access to medical facilities, children with chronic conditions such as severe asthma, diabetes, etc are not advised to visit. Some vessels have minimum age requirements ranging from 6 to 12 (see below). Other vessels leave it up to the parents to decide whether or not the cruise would be appropriate.

Minimum Age : varies

Vessel Min. Age Comments
Polar Pioneer 12 Kayaking and camping available on some journeys; Exceptions to minimum age possible
Professor Molchanov 12 Exceptions to minimum age possible
Professor Multanovskiy 12 Kayaking and camping available on some journeys; Exceptions to minimum age possible
Aleksey Maryshev 12 Exceptions to minimum age possible
Grigoriy Mikheev 12 Exceptions to minimum age possible
Akademik Shokalskiy 12 Kayaking and camping available on some journeys; Exceptions to minimum age possible
Akademik Ioffe 7 Kayaking and camping available; Small Pool onboard
Akademik Vavilov 7 Kayaking and camping available; Small Pool onboard
Polar Star 7 Child Discounts available
Clipper Adventurer 7  
Orlova 8 Exceptions to minimum age possible
MS Endeavour 7 Child Discounts available; Has small pool onboard
Corinthian II 8 Exceptions to minimum age possible; All rooms have TV and mini-refrigerator
Explorer II 10 7 years of age minimum age requirement on the Special Family Departures with Child Discounts; Gym, Cinema, and Pool onboard
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Argentina Tours

Our Argentina tours offer a mix of dramatic landscapes, challenging treks, stunning wildlife, and unique cultural experiences. Most are recommended for older children and active families, though Iguazu Falls is sure to delight most ages. These tours generally fall into three categories- sightseeing, trekking tours, and boat-based trips.

Sightseeing Tours: Minimum age = 6

Our sightseeing tours, including Iguazu Falls and Northwest Culture and Landscapes, promise dramatic nature features and breathtaking scenery. Families may particularly enjoy the Iguazu Falls tour that is based entirely out of one lodge. Jungle wildlife, short transfers, a rainforest canoe trip, and over 275 separate waterfall cascades are sure to delight children of all ages.

The Taste of Argentina tour is a better choice for older children as it includes longer transfer times, full day hikes on multiple days, and more remote/ austere scenery. Consider your own family's travel experience and preferences. Our Argentina travel coordinators would be happy to provide additional details to help you decide if these tours are right for your family.

Trekking Tours: Minimum age = 12

These tours include multi-day treks, glacier walks, and our most challenging desert trek where temperatures can vary upwards of 60 degrees in a 24-hour period. They can be great choices for older children and active families. Prepare your family for trekking tours by planning weekend day hikes or overnight camping trips before you go. Keep in mind that some days the distances hiked each day may feel much further due to the rugged terrain and altitude variance. Each traveler should bring a daypack with essentials such as a camera, waterproof jacket, water bottle, and snacks. Tours with the Perito Moreno Glacier have a minimum age of 12 because ice-hiking equipment is not available for smaller children. There is also a maximum age of 65 for this hike, although exceptions may be available.

Boat Based Tours: Minimum age = 6

Our boat based Via Australis tour traverses Patagonia's waterways with a focus on dramatic glacial scenery and wildlife. Kids of all ages are welcome, but relatively rare. Onboard entertainment options (such as educational lectures, a library, and wildlife observation) may not hold the attention of younger children. These tours are not a good choice for children who can be easily bored, crave high intensity activities, have rigid schedules/ food preferences, are prone to motion sickness, or are not able to swim, etc.

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Belize Tours

Belize is endowed with lush jungle, rainforest, wildlife, and beautiful tropical rivers. Additionally, Belize has a spicy diversity of cultures, mystical ancient Mayan ruins, the second largest barrier reef in the world, and an English speaking population. Despite the grand scale of beauty, Belize is roughly the same size as the state of Massachusetts. That translates into less time spent traveling, and more time for your family to explore and enjoy the sights. Activities on our Belize tours range from rigorous to relaxing, and can almost always be adapted to suit your family's preferred pace. Belize offers two different styles of tours:

Lodge-based tours:

These trips involve staying at one lodge throughout the duration of your Belize vacation. Day trips leave in the morning, and by mid-afternoon you return to your "home base" in time to relax before dinner. An advantage of this type of tour is that you avoid the hassle of unpacking and repacking your bags. For families with young children, these "stationary" tours can feel much more relaxing than being on the move every few days! The Hamanasi Adventure is a great choice for families wanting to stay at the beach but still experience the interior jungles of Belize. If your family would rather stay in typical Belizean thatched-roof cottages in the jungle, the Beautiful Belize tour is an excellent choice as well.

Multi-segment tours:

A number of our Belize trips are of the "roving" variety, incorporating different accommodations throughout the tour. These can allow your family to cover more ground, and are great choices for families who tire of bedding down in the same place every night. Tours to consider if this appeals to your family are Belize Explorer and Ultimate Adventure.

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Bolivia Tours

Bolivia is an isolated country with extreme geography including high altitude deserts, lowland rainforest, and jagged mountain peaks. Spartan facilities and a limited transportation infrastructure often discourages all but the most hearty of travelers. For those families who are not daunted by these challenges, Bolivia travel offers some of the most authentic Andean markets, welcoming locals, awe-inspiring landscape, and exquisite pre-Incan ruins in Latin America. Contact an Adventure Life representative for more information on whether or not this destination would be a good match to your family's interests.

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Chile Tours

Chile is the most geographically diverse country that we visit. The land area of Chile encompasses magnificent Andean mountain ranges to the east, desert in the north and the vast wonderland of Patagonia in the south. Our tours focus on the geology of Patagonia, the immenseness and wild beauty of the place, and the culture of the area. These tours generally fall into three categories- sightseeing, adventure tours, and boat-based trips.

Sightseeing Tours: Minimum age = 6

Our sightseeing tours, including Easter Island and the Atacama Desert, provide unique glimses into the different landscapes and cultural heritage of Chile. Children are welcome on these tours, but kids with limited attention spans may not be interested in geologic formations and ceremonial sites. Consider your own family's travel experience and preferences. Our trip coordinators would be happy to provide additional details to help you decide if these tours are right for your family.

Adventure Tours: Minimum age = 12

These tours include challenging Chile travel adventures such as multi-day treks or whitewater rafting. They can be great choices for older children and active families. Prepare your family for trekking tours by planning weekend day hikes or overnight camping trips before you go. Keep in mind that some days the distances hiked each day may feel much further due to the rugged terrain and altitude variance. Each traveler should bring a daypack with essentials such as a camera, waterproof jacket, water bottle, and snacks. Whitewater rafting tours have a minimum age of 12 for Class II-III, 15 for Class IV-V.

Boat Based Tours: Minimum age = 6-12

Our boat based tours include Patagonia by Sea and the Mare Australis tour. Both options focus on experiencing Chile's unique ecology and offer limited entertainment options onboard for kids. The Patagonia by Sea tour is culturally focused, providing a unique view of the folklore and cultural center of the Isle de Chloe. Due to the confined space and sea conditions, it is a good idea to try your family's seaworthiness before heading off! This is a great tour for a family charter. If joining other groups we require a minimum age of 12. The excursions are educational and give families the chance to try new foods, see a living example of a different culture, and experience boat living.

The Mare Australis cruise is on a much larger boat so children as young as 6 are welcome. However, the focus is primarily on experiencing Chile's incredible scenery. Onboard lectures add an educational component and glacial hikes help satisfy your wanderlust. Because of the limited child centered activities, families with young children are still relatively rare. Make sure to bring plenty to entertain your young one.

These tours are not a good choice for young children who can be easily bored, crave high intensity activities, have rigid schedules/ food preferences, are prone to motion sickness, or are not able to swim, etc.

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Costa Rica Tours

Of all places to experience the rainforest, Costa Rica comes to mind as one of the best choices for families of any age. Small rainforest lodges with excellent guides and creative cooks dot the country and travel times are rarely longer than three hours. Some of these lodges have developed special programs for families traveling with children. For tours including whitewater rafting, the minimum age for rafting the Revantazon River (class II - III) is 10 and the minimum age for the Pacuare River (class III-IV) is 14. A great alternative for families with younger children is an upgrade to the Rainforest Aerial Tram.

A few suggested tours…
Turtles and Rainforest: As the name suggests, this tour is a great choice for families who enjoy wildlife and outdoor activities. At the turtle reserve, children have the opportunity to participate in the turtle breeding programs- catching the turtle eggs as they are being lain or helping the turtle hatchlings dig their way free to the surface. The rainforest offers educational walks, horseback riding, canopy tours, and more. Both lodges are relatively remote and do not have electricity. Prepare your children that these lodges do not have TV, music, video games, etc.

Beaches and Rainforest: This tour has a multi-sport focus with a flexible itinerary that allows your family to choose from a variety of activities to fill each day- horseback riding, swimming, snorkeling, hiking, mountain biking. It is a nice Costa Rica vacation choice for families with varying ages and interests as each traveler can choose the activities that interest him/ her most. Again, the lodges do not have electricity so prepare the kids for outdoor fun instead!

For more information on this tour, check out the article "Costa Rica: A Family Adventure Mecca" in the Fall/ Winter 2002 issue of Family Adventure Magazine written by Adventure Life's director, Brian Morgan.

Earth, Fire and Water: This tour is a great choice for families with younger kids who still want to experience a variety of Costa Rica environments- beach, rainforest, volcano, cloudforest, etc. in a relatively short time. Transfers are not especially long and Tiskita, the rainforest/ beach lodge where you will spend the first half of the tour, has a number of activities designed especially for kids.

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Ecuador Tours

Ecuador tours offer stunning wildlife, diverse activities, and relatively short transfer times, allowing parents to find a tour that is appropriate for children of nearly any age. Some offer high intensity multi-sport adventures while others have a relaxed, unstructured pace. The family-friendly Sacha Lodge in the Amazon and unparalleled wildlife of the Galapagos make Ecuador travel one of our first choices for family adventures. These tours generally fall into three categories- sightseeing excursions, multi-sport activities, and wildlife adventures.

Sightseeing Tours:

The Andes and Amazon tour provides an opportunity for families to try new foods, see amazing sites, and stay in small, bed and breakfast style hotels that each has a distinctive flavor. The primary focus of this tour is sightseeing so it is not a good choice for young children who can be easily bored, crave high intensity activities, or have rigid schedules/ food preferences, etc. This tour can be divided into shorter segments that can be added as extensions to Galapagos or Amazon adventures.

Multi-sport Tours:

The Ecuador Adventurer tour provides a mix of activities including a multi-day trek, whitewater rafting, biking, and camping. Prepare your family by planning weekend day hikes or overnight camping trips before you go. Keep in mind that although the distances hiked each day are not especially long (6 to 9 miles typically), the altitude of this trek may make it feel almost twice as difficult as the same distance at home. Each traveler should bring a daypack with essentials such as a camera, waterproof jacket, water bottle, and snacks. This tour can be divided into shorter segments that can be added as extensions to Galapagos or Amazon adventures.

The Galapagos Multisport tour offers a similar adrenaline rush, with an additional wildlife focus. Enjoy hiking, snorkeling, sea kayaking, and horseback riding. No experience is necessary but an active mindset is a must!

Wildlife tours:

Galapagos, Wildlife Odyssey, Amazon Adventurer, Islands and Incas

These adventures are a great choice for families interested in Ecuador travel with a focus on wildlife and nature. Some, like the Islands and Incas tour, also blend in a cultural component.

The Galapagos Islands provide one of the most quintessential wildlife experiences on the planet. Children can snorkel with sea lions, step across giant land iguanas, admire newly hatched birds, and marvel at 200 year old giant tortoises. Some yachts have special family departures that include additional guides and activities for kids. Others offer suite accommodations, onboard swimming pools, games rooms, and more flexible meal options. Because of this wide range of options, children of nearly any age can be accommodated. Safety and limited facilities onboard can be concerns for very young children so most yachts have a minimum age of 6 or 7.

Sacha Lodge, one of the most comfortable jungle lodges in the Amazon, also provides a wonderful alternative (or addition for young children). It has Western-style facilities with private cabins, high thatched roofs, shaded terraces, an excellent mix of local and international cuisine, and a well-trained staff that is used to accommodating families and school groups. It can be a nice option for kids as young as six years old. The weather can commonly include heat, humidity, and rain during your stay. Please pack appropriately and don't forget the insect repellant!

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Falkland Islands Tours

The Falkland Islands offer remote landscapes, stunning wildlife, and exciting opportunities to experience both. These experiences can provide once-in-a-lifetime travel memories to delight the senses of travelers of all ages. However, this unique destination is not a good choice for every family, particularly young families. Parents should carefully consider the interests and limitations of their own children before deciding on a Falkland Islands tour.

Visiting the Falkland Islands involves a fair bit of travel--small planes between islands and occasional 4x4 off-road driving over bumpy terrain to reach ideal wildlife-viewing spots. These long transfers, as well as hours of wildlife watching, can become tiresome for even the most hearty child traveler. Not many young children travel to the Falklands, so it is unlikely that there will be other children for your kids to play with. We recommend a minimum age of 12 for all of our Falklands tours. Our trip coordinators would be happy to provide additional details to help you decide if these tours are right for your family.

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Galapagos Cruises

The Galapagos Islands provide one of the most quintessential wildlife experiences on the planet. Children can snorkel with sea lions, step across giant land iguanas, admire newly hatched birds, and marvel at 200 year old giant tortoises. Some yachts have special family departures that include additional guides and activities for kids. Others offer suite accommodations, onboard swimming pools, games rooms, and more flexible meal options. Because of this wide range of Galapagos tour options, children of nearly any age can be accommodated. Safety and limited facilities onboard can be concerns for very young children so most yachts have a minimum age of 6 or 7. *Because of the difficultly of activities, our Galapagos Multisport 9-day tour has an age limit of 10.

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Guatemala Tours

Guatemala is the most culturally intense country we visit in Central America. The warm and welcoming Maya population lives in the forested mountain highlands among splendid volcanoes and azure lakes. Some of the Guatemala tours we offer include a homestay with a local Maya family. Participating in the daily life of another culture can be fascinating and rewarding for your family, if everyone is adequately prepared for the experience. Although younger children are welcome on most of our Guatemala vacations, parents may find that the cultural focus does not hold the interest of young travelers as much as some of our other tours. Contact an Adventure Life representative for more information on whether or not this destination would be a good match to your family's interests.

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Panama Tours

Panama travel offers amazing diversity in a relatively small area allowing families to experience incredible variety without the hassle of long transfers. Panama tours offer a mix of activities to interest most kids including rainforest hikes, wildlife, watching boats traverse the Panama, canal, and relaxing at the beach. Some tours include whitewater rafting or all day hikes, but alternatives to these activities can be arranged for younger children- ask your trip coordinator for more information!

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Patagonia Tours

Our Patagonia tours offer dramatic landscapes, challenging treks, and stunning wildlife. Because most include multi-day treks and/ or adventurous whitewater journeys, these tours are generally recommended for teens and adults, though we do have a couple of boat-based tours that can be managed by younger children.

Boat Based Tours: Minimum age = 6

Our boat based tours include the Patagonia by Sea and the Mare Australis tour. Both options focus on experiencing Patagonia's unique ecology and offer limited entertainment options onboard for kids. The Patagonia by Sea tour is culturally focused, providing a unique view of the folklore and cultural center of the Isle de Chloe. Due to the confined space and sea conditions, it is a good idea to try your family's seaworthiness before heading off! This is a great tour for a family charter. If joining other groups we require a minimum age of 12. The excursions are educational and give families the chance to try new foods, see a living example of a different culture, and experience boat living.

The Mare Australis cruise is on a much larger boat so children as young as 6 are welcome. However, the focus is primarily on experiencing Patagonia's incredible scenery. Onboard lectures add an educational component and glacial hikes help satisfy your wanderlust. Because of the limited child centered activities, families with young children are still relatively rare. Make sure to bring plenty to entertain your young one.

These tours are not a good choice for young children who can be easily bored, crave high intensity activities, have rigid schedules/ food preferences, are prone to motion sickness, or are not able to swim, etc.

Trekking Tours: Minimum age = 12

These Patagonia tours include multi-day treks, glacier walks, and our most challenging desert trek where temperatures can vary upwards of 60 degrees in a 24-hour period. They can be great choices for older children and active families. Prepare your family for trekking tours by planning weekend day hikes or overnight camping trips before you go. Keep in mind that some days the distances hiked each day may feel much further due to the rugged terrain and altitude variance. Each traveler should bring a daypack with essentials such as a camera, waterproof jacket, water bottle, and snacks. Tours with the Perito Moreno Glacier have a maximum age of 65 and a minimum age of 12 because ice-hiking equipment is not available for smaller children.

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Peru Tours

Peru tours can be an excellent choice for children interested in history, culture, wildlife, and sightseeing. Some offer high intensity multi-sport adventures while others have a relaxed, unstructured pace. These tours generally fall into three categories- sightseeing excursions, hiking tours, and rainforest adventures.

Sightseeing excursions:

These tours (Machu Picchu by Train, Panoramic Peru, Islands and Incas) can be a great choice for kids of most ages. The excursions are educational and give families the chance to try new foods, see amazing sites, and stay in small, bed and breakfast style hotels that each has a distinctive flavor. Since the primary focus of these tours is sightseeing, they are not a good choice for young children who can be easily bored, crave high intensity activities, or have rigid schedules/ food preferences, etc.

Hiking tours:

These tours (Machu Picchu Pilgrimage, Inca Pathways, Cordillera Blanca Trek, Salcantay, Cachicatta Trek, Ausangate Trek) all include a challenging multi-day trek. They can be a great choice for older children and teenagers who enjoy hiking and camping. Prepare your family by planning weekend day hikes or overnight camping trips before you begin your Peru travel. Keep in mind that although the distances hiked each day are not especially long (6 to 9 miles typically), the altitude of these treks may make it feel almost twice as difficult as the same distance at home. Each traveler should bring a daypack with essentials such as a camera, waterproof jacket, water bottle, and snacks.

Amazon Rainforest tours:

(Wild Tambopata, Manu Biosphere, Manco Multisport, Peru Amazon Extension). These adventures are a great choice for families interested in wildlife and nature. Adventure Life offers a variety of rainforest tours, each with a distinctly different flavor. In general, our Peru rainforest tours tend to be better options for older children, as these lodges are particularly remote with long transfers and relatively rustic accommodations. Though Sacha Lodge (in Ecuador) is probably the best option for younger kids, children of all ages with an interest in wildlife and the outdoors are certainly welcome on our Peru Amazon tours as well. Our shorter Peru Amazon Extension is also a great choice for younger children as the lodge is less rustic, transfers are much shorter, and this extension can be as short as 2-3 days (a nice option for kids with limited attention spans!).

By contrast, Tambopata Research Center and Manu Wildlife Center are decidedly more remote and rustic. These lodges have no electricity (kerosene lighting), shared bathrooms, and longer travel times (Tambopata is located 8 hours downriver). Their remote locations offer the very best opportunities to view rainforest wildlife in their natural environment. These tours are an excellent choice for the families who enjoy getting away from modern distractions and want a pure "back to nature" experience.

For all Amazon options, the weather can commonly include heat, humidity, and rain during your stay. Please pack appropriately and don't forget the insect repellant!

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South Africa Tours

Effective June 1, 2015, parents traveling to South Africa with children will be required to provide an original birth certificate of all traveling children under the age of 18 years. This applies even when both parents are traveling with their own children. When children are traveling with guardians or with a sole parent, affidavits from the parents proving permission for the children to travel are required. Please contact the South African embassy or consulate for further details.