One of the biggest thrills of an African safari experience is sharing the joy of what you are experiencing with the ones you love, especially children, where almost everything they are doing during their safari is for the first time.
Africa, being the huge continent that it is, has many places where a family can enjoy the magic and joy of a safari in a safe, friendly environment, with education and fun aplenty – here are five of them.
We have said it before but this is truly a ‘world on one country’, South Africa offers its visitors something to please everyone, from stunning scenery to deserted sandy beaches. Stunning golf courses, from bustling cities to vast wide open spaces, fantastic culinary experiences and a huge amount of culture at every turn.
We have the pleasure of offering such packages as the luxury Rovos Rail train itineraries across this great country. However, the place though that we have chosen as a great example of a family safari is in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. This province borders the Indian Ocean and is known as Phinda, and proudly run by a safari company called &Beyond
Located a few hours’ drive north of Durban, Phinda has two child-friendly lodges (Zuka and Homestead), where families can truly relax knowing that the dedicated lodge staff have activities to suit children of all ages.
Moving slightly north but still in Southern Africa is the landlocked country of Zambia, known for the rugged terrain and diverse wildlife, this is a great country for many a family safari.
In the middle of the country and set in the heart of the Luangwa Valley in central Zambia at the end of Africa’s Great Rift Valley is a gem of a property offered by Robin Pope Safaris. This is a family run business who know from years of experience the needs and wants of a safari family. The property is called Robin’s House and it’s a two bedroom private house that allows families to have quality private time together to rediscover themselves as well as their new environment. The house comes with its own staff team including a private chef and highly qualified game ranger. Activities take place at your pace and nothing is too much trouble.
Robin’s House is an indulgent way to experience Africa but comes highly recommended.
One of Africa’s most stable countries, sparsely populated yet protecting some of Africa’s largest areas of wilderness. This land locked country consisting mainly of desert, Botswana has one of the most amazing wonders of the natural world; the Okavango Delta. A network of channels spreading out from the main river, the region floods in the dry season and drains into the Kalahari Desert, the only delta in the world not to drain into the sea. This lush animal habitat during the seasonal flood has now somewhat defined safari in Botswana and after a short time there it would be difficult to disagree.
Hidden away on the islands created by the flood are a small number of mid-range to luxury camps and lodges that offer families accommodation designed specifically with children in mind. Huge ‘tents’ each with two bedrooms (and en-suite facilities so don’t for one second think this is a standard form of camping), offer the space and security that families need. Time spent here is a hugely educational experience for all the family and Game viewing can be arranged on a private basis – it is mandatory at some camps depending on the age of the children – to ensure a quality safari experience.
Try Xigera Camp for the perfect place to launch into the awe-inspiring Okavango…
Safaris can be as diverse as you and your family want them to be. They certainly do not have to be all about the wildlife and a great example of this is one of the most strikingly stark yet beautiful countries in Africa, Namibia. This is a country in south-west Africa, is distinguished by the Namib Desert along its Atlantic Ocean coast, it certainly has much to offer families looking for adventure off the beaten track. The country is home to diverse wildlife, including a significant cheetah population. However, it is a land of extremes with huge sand dunes, deep canyons and seemingly endless vistas. Sunsets are just incredible and the stuff of lasting memories for all who witness them.
Getting around Namibia is best by light aircraft if time is against you, or by vehicle if you want to see more and your kids are a little older allowing you some time to linger. Many lodges have family accommodation with two interconnecting rooms each with en-suite bathrooms. Activities are arranged to suit children – an evening spent star-gazing is a great way to end the day and let their imaginations run wild.
One of the most extraordinary camps is one of our newest properties in Africa, Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp which is sure to wow even the most demanding of visitors.
At the far southern end of Africa’s Great Rift Valley, Malawi is a superb destination for a safari and beach holiday. Although land locked much of Malawi consists of its fresh water lake, one of the largest in Africa at 365 miles long and 53 miles wide, providing families that stay here with the perfect way to keep children occupied with the best of both “beast” safari and beach.
It is now home to the famed Big 5 but not being as well known as Tanzania, its northern neighbour, has its advantages as visitors are not as numerous which is a big plus to those looking for some quality time together without distraction.
At Signature Safaris we offer two top-class lodges that combine the ‘beast and beach’ concept superbly with a lodge, Mkulumadzi, in the Majete Wildlife Reserve and one, Pumulani, on the southern lake shore. As family experiences go, this is one you will all be talking about for the rest of your lives.