Safaris, as we’ve said before, may not smack as family-friendly but, in some excellent cases, they are both accommodating and welcoming of children, as well as adults. The fact that safari suites can be mind-blowingly luxurious (not to mention eco-friendly), has made safari much more appealing to previous travel cynics. And today, parents shouldn’t write them off just because they are holidaying with children. This is a far greater way to introduce children to wildlife than in a zoo and the following two are particularly family-frendly.
Victoria Falls Safari Suites, Zimbabwe
Newly opened in April this year, the Victoria Falls Safari Suites offer sumptuous boutique accommodation from Africa Albida Tourism (AAT), the experts in Victoria Falls. Zimbabwe really may not reign top of your family travel list, but I’m assured by those in the know that Victoria Falls is the one part of the country totally unaffected by the politics and social strife of Zimbabwe, a place where tourism has remained steadfast throughout the years.
The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge is an iconic property and the six new stand-alone suites now make it an ideal stop for families. Each offer stunning views of the bush, water holes and lots of impressive wildlife. You can choose from either two or three bedrooms; each suite has floor-to-ceiling glass doors that slide open to a patio where sundowners can be sipped before the sunset after a day exploring the Falls. All have en-suite rainfall showers which, let’s face it, may not be a big seller for the kids, but you’ll love such touches. And for the children? Well, there is more than enough to chose from: crocodile farms and supervised bush walks, boat rides through Chobe National Park to Lion walks and elephant back trails, canoeing the upper Zambezi to fishing trips on the Zambezi river – this is the stuff of legendary family holidays.
Abu Camp, Okavango, Botswana
The Okavango Delta, one of the most incredible wilderness sanctuaries in Africa, is no less than 15,000 km² of water channels, lagoons and islands. Each year, floodwaters flow from the central African highlands over 1,000 kilometres away straight into the Delta, the result of which is this wondrous wetland within a desert. And nestled at the heart of it all is Wilderness Collection’s Abu Camp, which offers the ultimate experience for elephant lovers, or those wanting to get to know them better. Proudly offering guides who are specially trained for children (aged 6 and upwards), Wilderness Collection has introduced the ‘Bush buddy’ programme, which is available at Abu Camp. Upon arrival, children up to the age of 12 are given a unique Bush Buddy Bag filled with safari keepsakes, (one such example being a bug viewer), ‘My SafariGuide’ booklet, a water bottle, a cap and an eco-friendly wind-up torch. Teenage packs include a mini-Maglite torch and branded cap for those aged between 13 and 18. Activities arranged by guards for the children are always designed around the natural environment and are, of course, absolutely supervised and totally safe.
The Elephant Experience
The Elephant Experience is one of the highlights of Abu Camp and offers a rare glimpse at these stunning creatures within one of the few remaining wetland wildernesses on the African continent. Aside from walking with these stunning creatures, you’ll be able to watch them mud-bathing and training and, if your children are up to it, enjoy elephant-back safaris. And after a day in the Delta, the intoxicatingly gorgeous accommodation on offer makes for the perfect place to unwind and relax as a family. Who says safaris and kids don’t mix!?