Recorded: 20th July 2021. Listen time: 4 minutes 38 seconds
I really enjoy arranging family safaris for two reasons, mainly. One of them is I have my own family; I take them on safari every year. The other thing is, of course, that I come from Africa… and what a playground to actually arrange a trip like that in!
The first thing is that I think a lot of parents are slightly concerned with younger children about the malaria issue. Two very easy answers on this one, for me. These days, doctors have a half-dose of anti-malarial tablets that are given to children. My children have certainly never, ever had any side effects.
But the other thing is that if one is that concerned, there are always non-malarial areas, both in Kenya and in South Africa, primarily, where you can go to the coast where, for example, one of my favourite places when I used to visit my family each year is in Plettenberg Bay in South Africa, and this place is just gorgeous.
It is a Relais & Châteaux, so it means that one is looked after supremely well. They've got ponies and horses; you are very close to some of the most beautiful beaches I've ever come across, with hardly another soul there. And this place is just so relaxed.
Even though it is a Relais & Châteaux, it’s not the sort of place where you have to plump up the cushions, you're free to run around, do exactly what you like: there are mountain bicycles for the children, as I said, there are horses and there are just so many things to do, plus, for example, for the smaller children that gives them buckets and spades and you can arrange picnics on the beach. Or there's Monkey World and Birdland and so many things to do. So that's Plettenberg Bay for you in South Africa, perfect for children.
Otherwise, for slightly older children, I would say anything from about six years upwards: the absorption level, of course, children's minds are just like a sponge, and I think that from six years of age, that really starts to kick in and they start to take into consideration the information that the guides are giving.
The other thing is we pay really strong attention to the guides because a lot of guides are very, very good with their scientific information, but they don't actually relate to children, often they're so young, they've never had children themselves.
So, the guides that we look for, we actually ask them to do various things for our children to ensure that they have the most superb holidays, like, for example, they get little rucksacks, and they go out and they check out the poo, as it were, and they see what faeces and what animal tracks there are.
They go off and they make bread and all sorts of bush cookies and things like that. They learn about the night sky, they learn how to fish, and they just learn about the homoeopathic properties of plants and trees, what one uses various plants for, and the children just absolutely love this.
For example, in Kenya, we've got a couple of places where you go out with the warriors, the Maasai warriors or the Samburu Warriors, and they teach them, for example, how to make fires with sticks. They teach them how to make a bow and arrow, how to use them, and they learn all about their own tribal influences, which I think is part and parcel of the whole educational aspect.
One of the best experiences I ever had was my own family going into the Masai Mara, and my daughter went into the bomas or houses with all these Maasai children, and they were teaching her the songs that they knew and she was teaching them the songs that she knew, they were dancing together. This was just absolutely magical, something completely uncontrived and unforgettable.
Then also in Botswana, we've got some wonderful examples in the Kalahari Desert where you can go out, you can sleep out underneath the stars. You can go out on quad bike. We've got a lovely guide in the Okavango Delta.
He teaches you absolutely everything, again, learning how to identify all these spoor marks in the sand or the bush tracks. He spends time with your family, and you get your little certificate at the end of the day saying this is what you've done, this is what you’ve seen... and the kids just absolutely love it!
Please do feel free to contact Nicola directly or at The Explorations Company for more information about anything you’ve heard in this episode, or for further inspiration and unforgettable safaris and holidays to Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
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