Invariably South Africa also offers upscale safari lodges but they have some brilliant family programmes too – which are uncontrived and simply perfect for family safaris to Africa. We have equally had some amazing safaris on friends’ ranches in KwaZulu Natal, where we ride, camp out beneath the stars and see fantastic wildlife. In December, one can see turtles nesting which is also sensational.
There are some fabulous canoeing and white water rafting trails along the Orange and other rivers in breathtaking scenery. I am also often surprised to see how well the battlefield tours go down with older children too – especially as they might have studied the Anglo Boer war, or even simply be immersed into our past wars - certainly the centenary has sparked a lot of interest – I don’t know if you have found that too?
Cape Town always goes down well and we have not only an excellent choice of family oriented hotels, but some beautiful villas located right on the beach. Plettenberg bay is another real must, although home to the polo world, it offers elephant back rides and the chance to see wild animals in close proximity as well as canopy walks 150 ft into the air!
For those seeking a greater cultural influence, then look to East Africa. Kenya and Tanzania are simply perfect and offer the very best family safaris, with so many tribes that are still true to their own cultural beliefs. Learn how to make a bow and arrow from certain bushes and trees and how to use them; learn how to make fires without matches, lean what its like to be a warrior in the 21st century and the problems they face; learn about conservation; visit a school and perhaps a clinic if you are interested, visit the local villagers and see the young girls making beadwork and jewellery which they sell, whilst the young boys tend the goats and the older ones tend their cattle.
See the most phenomenal wildlife with the wildebeest migration, when 2 million animals cross over the plains of the Masai Mara and Serengeti eco systems. Go on a walking safari with the local Samburu people, learning all about them, assisted by camels that you can ride, camping out beneath this huge vista of stars each night; or have a private tented mobile camp erected just for you and your family, or spend time in a villa in the Laikpia plateau, amongst gentle wildlife. Stay at a private ranch with a Kenyan family, horse riding during the day, walking, camping out for a night, going tubing down the rivers – literally doing just as you please!
You then have an extraordinary coastline with a variety of places to stay, from small luxury lodges, to private villas complete with their own skipper and boat, so you can go snorkelling and water skiing or chic, Robinson Crusoe style retreats for that barefoot luxury. Swim with dolphins and whale sharks. Take a fully crewed catamaran for few days and sail around the islands.
I am completely biased, but my favourite family holidays are always in Africa. There is simply so much to do, in the most extraordinary and beautiful environment – and if mum simply wants to lay next to a swimming pool with a good book and a glass of wine, dining on fresh crab and lobster – then that is perfect too! Somehow the mention of France or Spain doesn’t quite have that same ring to it….!
Where else are the best family safaris?