Choosing where to go for your next family holiday with teenagers isn’t an easy task. Just like deciding what to cook for dinner each night, both involve catering to all tastes – or in this case, different travel styles that satisfy everyone from the youngest, to the oldest family members.
If you’re not afraid to dig a bush toilet and skip a shower or two, why not whisk the family away to explore a destination filled with wildlife encounters that’ll leave you speechless? Somewhere that showcases the best sunsets in the world, and boasts cultural encounters you won’t find anywhere else. Only in Botswana will you find all of this (and quite a bit more).
1. Watch herds of elephants pass by
In Botswana, it’s all about elephant sightings as you travel through some of the most breathtaking and diverse ecosystems on the planet. Take Chobe National Park, for example, which is home to the world’s highest concentration of elephants and where herds – some 50,000 strong – have a run of the place. Or, better yet, you can spend the night at Elephant Sands and watch as these magnificent creatures flock to the pool at sunset to splash around right before your eyes.
2. Unite the family by working together as a team
When you’re surrounded by picture-perfect scenery, a mundane task or chore – such as washing the dishes – magically transforms into a memorable experience. Growing up, I always rolled my eyes in protest whenever I was asked to help dry the dishes after dinner at home. However, when we were camping, I never batted an eyelid, and secretly loved having one-on-one chats with my mum as we dried the pots and pans together (just don’t tell her I admitted to that!).
On a small group tour, everyone works as a team to put the tents up and down, chop a few vegetables, and to pack everything back onto the truck before settling around the campfire to relax together. While I’m not promising that your family will return from Botswana with a new-found love for chores, you never know what might happen…
3. Discover everything you need to know about Botswana – without Google or Wikipedia!
Forget about Google or Wikipedia; the best place for your family to learn about the world is from your local guide by asking a million questions as you bump along the dusty roads of Botswana in a purpose-built, overland truck. My only true regret from my last trip to Africa was not asking our guide, Sammi, more questions about each of the places we explored during our safari experience.
As for genuine and insightful encounters in Botswana, there’s no shortage of experiences that are sure to be far more interesting for the whole family, compared to an all-inclusive beach holiday. In the Okavango Delta, there’s the chance to visit a rural village while learning how local traditions have continued to shape the identity of the community, and in the Kalahari Desert, a visit to the Khama Rhino Sanctuary is the best way to gain a greater understanding about conservation and endangered species.
4. A camping experience will create memories to last a lifetime
One of my favourite childhood memories involved a race against my younger sister to see who could put up their tent the fastest, and camping in Botswana – like any grand adventure – is an experience where memories are sure to be crafted at every turn.
From learning the art of ‘poling’ as you float along the Okavango Delta in a traditional mokoro (a dugout canoe), to bush camping under the stars and sharing the experience of spotting the Big Five, are just some of the stories your family will treasure for years to come.
5. Enjoy bonding time and a chance to reconnect
Don’t even think about packing a laptop. Leave your iPhone in your locker at the back of the truck. Ditch the tablets and smartphones. As you travel through Botswana, the whole family will enjoy the chance for a digital detox and master the art of having meaningful conversations that don’t often get any airtime at home. Despite pretty regular access to Wi-Fi at some campsites, it’s by no means a strong (or reliable) connection, so you won’t be bothered by pesky push notifications that pop up on your phone.
There’ll also be plenty of long drive days, which actually creates the perfect chance for families to bond over a game of cards, and to reconnect without any significant distractions – except for the stunning scenery that passes by.
Feeling inspired? Round up the family and check out Intrepid’s Botswana Family Safari with Teenagers – details here.
Feature photo by Nathan Landers.