An African family safari is on the once-in-a-lifetime end of the holiday spectrum.
Thousands of wildebeest trundling across Kenya’s Maasai Mara, paddling a mokoro past hippos on the Okovango Delta or getting right up close to dozing leopards from the safety of your safari vehicle – adventure and wildlife are not in short supply here.
Want to see Africa for yourself? Here are 6 reasons why you should make this the year of the family safari.
1. World-class wildlife
An obvious one to start with, but it can’t really be overstated. Africa is the world’s wildlife capital. There are the obvious icons (Tanzania’s Serengeti NP and Ngorongoro Crater to name a couple), but don’t discount the slightly more obscure parks. Namibia’s Etosha NP is known for huge concentrations of wildlife, lions, elephants, springboks, gemsbok that gather around central waterholes. And the undulating granite kopjes (hills) of South Africa’s Kruger NP make a unique backdrop to some world-class game viewing. For animal-loving kids, this is pretty much heaven on earth.
2. Culture shocks
Seeing the world through someone else’s eyes is probably the best education the real world has to offer. Luckily there are plenty of opportunities in Africa to interact with local tribes, to get a glimpse into a way of life that hasn’t changed much in the last thousand years or so. The kids can visit a Maasai manyatta (village) in Kenya, go walking with local warriors, meet San Bushmen in the sands of Namibia and chat to famers on a working Zanzibar spice plantation.
3. Unexpected accommodation
A lot of people think safari means roughing it, which isn’t really the case. Tourism in Africa’s national parks is pretty well established these days, which means there’s an excellent range of family friendly accommodation, from fancy safari lodges (swimming pools included) all the way to glamping on the savannah. On our Tanzania Family Safari you can even stay in a two-storey converted Land Rover suit, complete with bathtub. It’s all down to the facilities you want and how much you’re looking to spend.
4. Something for everyone
Another preconception about Africa is that, if you’re not into animals, it’s not the continent for you. But there’s more to a safari trip than trying to tick off the entire cast of The Lion King. All families love a beach break: we’ll set you up in a camp beside Tanzania’s gorgeous Kipepeo Beach, just outside Dar es Salaam or sail you across to the spice island of Zanzibar. Or if you’ve got any budding photographers in the family, the windswept dunes of the Namib Desert near Sesriem make a pretty spectacular backdrop.
5. Raw nature
Even without the wildlife, Africa would be a stunning destination in its own right. No-one who has walked the mist-soaked footbridge beneath Victoria Falls and heard that liquid roar could deny it’s the equal of any Iguassu or Niagara. South Africa’s Blyde River Canyon, a 30km-long scar that winds its way through the mountains down to the Lowveld below, is one of the continent’s most spectacular sites, along with being the third biggest canyon on earth. It’s a good reminder that you don’t need a safari jeep to make the most of Africa’s raw natural beauty.
6. Lots of inclusions
Because a lot of Africa’s natural icons are fairly remote, most group trips come with plenty of great inclusions, including entry to the game parks and conservation centre tours. Intrepid no longer use trip kitties in Africa either, so the price you see online is exactly what you pay. Tours come with expert safari guides who know the game trails and have years of experience in getting kids excited about the wilderness. Most people think an African safari needs either a lot of money or a lot of planning to do properly, but you can save a lot of logistical hassle by booking the family on a small group adventure.
Got your Jumanji-style safari helmet all ready? Check out our range of African family adventures here.
Feature image c/o James Gray-King, Flickr