Disconnect to Reconnect
Growing up in a family that loves nature and wildlife, I have a long history of travelling for leg-numbing hours in the back of the land-rover. We kids had special beds and an assortment of books and games to keep us entertained. And let’s admit, quiet too. All as we headed for some new and suitably adventurous destination to go camping.
Our arrival at the camp would be a mix of excitement and groans. No scampering to a pool. We had to get set up first before it got dark, or before we could go out for an activity. But there were evenings around the campfire with stories until late into the night. Then we would head to bed – only to lie awake listening. And sometimes being terrified of the noises around us. But that’s invariably part of the excitement and good for new stories for the next day! These are still some of our fondest memories growing up.
These days, of course, there is the option of coming to a safari lodge, where everything is organised ready for you. Families on safari have much less to think about, let alone do. We take care of your welcoming tent, your meals and your game drives, giving you much more time to relax.
And that’s what one should get out of family trips away – an opportunity to make memories, have fun. And, most importantly, reconnect as a family. All the while, having a safe environment for kids to relax and be kids. And for adults to have a little pampering.
Families on Safari – the crucial question of age
So what age should your kids be for a safari? The ideal age to safely appreciate game drives on safari is from around 8 years or older. That’s why we chose to set the limit at Amani and Camp George to eight years old. However, we are a little more flexible at River Lodge and have happily hosted kids of all ages. The same goes for Homestead where there’s no minimum age either. One does need to consider exactly where you go, though. Many safari lodges have a minimum age limit, mainly for safety reasons. If you have young kids on a game vehicle, the guide will not go as close to some predator sightings for obvious reasons. Plus remember that in the Kruger, malaria is a consideration, especially in our summer months.
For game drives, children need to be over 6 to take part in shared game drives at River Lodge. Sometimes it is possible to pre-organise a private game drive vehicle (at an extra cost per day). This gives more more flexibility to a family safari as you can go for shorter drives, which really helps for little ones with a smaller attention span.
How do the kids stay amused at Simbavati?
Our family-friendly lodges try to be flexible and tailors activities according to the kids – their ages, interests and weather. The options are varied, both indoors and outdoors, ranging from crafts, nature hunts, track mouldings, elephant dung cricket, card and paper making. All the way to seasonal delights of frogging and mud wallowing – yes dirt equals fun!
For older kids, there are nature walks, baking with the chefs, macro photography, learning local languages to a junior tracker or ranger course. Which of course comes with a badge or certificate.
At River Lodge in the Timbavati, there’s even a Cubs Club. This is equipped with TV, DVD’s, games, archery practice area, books, maps and a discovery nook with bugs, bones, dung & identification tools. So everyone gets something! But each lodge has a refreshing swimming pool and some can even do spa treatments. Camp George and Amani have fenced in gardens which means that kids have space to play, without anxious parents.