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Why do educational safaris and holidays have such a positive impact on the entire family?

Nicola Shepherd By Nicola Shepherd
03 Mar 2022
South Africa Eastern Cape Family Malaria Free Safaris Kwandwe Kids Walk Med

So what makes the perfect family safari or holiday? Taking my own children on holiday provides a good barometer, and so I would only recommend places I have experienced firsthand with my own family, that have passed the litmus test!

We have discovered through experience on our own travels that one of the most important aspects of a family vacation, apart from the fun element, is education! What your child takes home, apart from great memories and perhaps some tacky souvenirs (!), is the knowledge they have gleaned whilst having an amazing vacation. This knowledge then continues to become a platform from which they build on in life, and where opinions and perceptions are formed. Indeed, I have several examples where even careers are formed.


Whenever I receive feedback on a family vacation with an educational or philanthropic slant, the group have unanimously declared that they will never go on an ‘ordinary’ family holiday again. The experience is enriching, uplifting, informative and rewarding; that incredible dopamine feel-good factor that we get when doing something beneficial for somebody else! It’s about giving as well as taking.

There is such a range of options available, across the whole of the world and a plethora of different types of experience, so it’s possible to arrange something that will truly connect with you and your family and speak to you on a deep level. Some of my top recommendations for educational family vacations are included below, but anything is possible!


How can you take an enriching safari or vacation?

  • Learn about the environment and how we can protect it.
  • Learn about sustainability and reforestation and reducing our carbon footprint.
  • Learn about conservation of wildlife and insects for the benefit of our planet.
  • Visit a school and witness the different attitudes and behaviors from the western world to emerging continents.
  • Engage with other children of the same age.
  • Help to build a school/classroom/dormitory.
  • Build a well.


  • Visit women’s self-help projects.
  • Visit micro financing projects.
  • Visit a clinic (a perfect example would be a medical student that sat in on various consultations at a clinic in Africa during her vacation – she is now an incredible surgeon!).
  • Spend time with scientific researchers and join them in their work. The Explorations Company has built an extraordinary network of researchers specializing in conservation of lion, elephant, rhino, zebra, cheetah, wild dog and more.


  • Spend time with marine biologists in the ocean, learning about whale sharks, dolphins, whales and a variety of fish.
  • Visit a variety of philanthropic projects tailored to your individual interests which could include rehabilitation of wildlife, sustainability projects, engineering projects, building sand dams (which allow access to fresh water for people and wildlife alike year round in arid regions), or many more.


  • Learn bush survival skills such as how to make bows and arrows and use them, make fires without matches, track wildlife and understand the signs and the different footprints and how to navigate at night by the sky. These are just a few examples.

It is possible for anybody to incorporate an educational element to your travel, whether that means simply a couple of hours, or learning about various aspects over the course of your vacation in different locations, all the way through to taking ownership of a project, for example physically building part of a classroom for a new school or getting involved in the construction of a sand dam or well.


Others are enthralled by chartering a yacht and spending some time with a marine biologist on the ocean, learning and conserving at the same time (a percentage of the proceeds goes to a marine charity).

Or perhaps visit a local community and learn all about how they live alongside the wildernesses they are the guardians of. You could spend time and have a meal with a local family where you can interact, chat, engage and learn in an uncontrived, relaxed environment.


One of my own favourite vacations in Africa is a walking safari taken for a few days, led by local guides and accompanied by pack mules or camels. Here one learns about the cultures of these various African tribes, how they become a warrior in the 21st century and how they have both adapted and adopted western ideology and traits to assist their own lifestyle, whilst remaining true to their own cultures. This is fascinating and interactive.

Where can you undertake educational travel in Asia?

In Asia, considering its vast cultural diversity as well as issues related to overpopulation and socio-economic divide, our efforts are hugely focused on community empowerment and nature conservation, which creates unparalleled opportunities for children (and adults) interested in learning about:


  • literacy and education
  • social sciences
  • religion
  • sustainability
  • nature conservation
  • waste management
  • pollution control
  • grassroots level management and organizational skills


Bhutan has become a global benchmark in sustainability and conservation-led development that is entirely driven by conscious governance aimed at preserving communal and natural harmony, so a vacation to Bhutan offers a world of life-changing educational experiences, such as:

  • learning about ancient Buddhist heritage and traditional arts,
  • understanding the impact of global warming on the Himalayan range,
  • attending a school or college for a deeper insight into Bhutanese way of learning and education
  • experiencing how Bhutan emphasizes sustainability and heritage conservation,
  • engaging with remote tribes,
  • learning about the unique concept of Gross National Happiness.


If you are interested in social sciences, there could not be a more interesting region than India with its social, cultural and economic diversity and complexity. There are fantastic organisations in large cities as well as rural regions that deal with grassroots level issues that can provide amazing opportunities for learning and development.

In Mumbai in Western India, you could spend time with the dabbawalas – the city’s pioneering tiffin deliverymen – whose extraordinary management and operations have been studied by some of the biggest institutions and entrepreneurs including Harvard Business School and Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson.


In Nepal, you can spend time with Everest summiteer sherpa guides who can provide training and guidance in mountain climbing.

It is also possible to arrange ranger training programmes in acclaimed wildlife reserves of India and Sri Lanka and more specific programmes focused on tiger conservation, ornithology, botany, and entomology.


Another firm favourite amongst younger travellers is Japan, which is widely considered to be the pinnacle of science and technology, spirituality, and fine arts. You can have some of the most avantgarde and immersive experiences in Japan.

Whether you are keen on landscape and garden design, fashion, animation, automobiles, architecture, interior design, studies in the fields of volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, or history including the tragic aftermath of the atomic bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the whole family will return home enriched from a holiday to Japan.


For children interested in marine conservation, I would highly recommend exploring Indonesia and the Maldives – both boasting incredibly rich marine biodiversity and in fact Indonesia has the highest reef fish diversity on the planet! You can spend days snorkeling and diving and spend time learning about ongoing ocean conservation initiatives from expert marine biologists.

Wherever you decide to travel, make sure it counts this time! You’d be amazed at just how rewarding it truly is! If you would like more information about luxury and private travel, please do feel free to get in touch with me. Or, if you just want to dream for now, you can do so at our Video Library.

Images by kind courtesy of Madikwe, Gangtey Lodge, Cottars 1920s Camp, Salaam Balack Trust, Karisia Safaris, Ol Malo, Kwandwe, Uganda Carnivore Program, Ride 4 a Woman.