Learning about wildlife and spending time together are just some of the joys of going on a Safari as a family. At home, you try to carve out time for the kids, perhaps have dinner together. On a Safari, you’re thrown together for breakfast, lunch, dinner, elevenses and tea! The physical closeness creates a deep bonding experience, one in which everyone has fun and learns many interesting things at the same time.
Old enough to go?
Many lodges only take children who are 12 or older so they can observe proper safari etiquette, while others are more flexible. We’ve taken ours from seven on, encouraging them to cope with early hours, remaining silent around game, and staying alert and interested.
Once out there, Most city-slicker kids will soon be able to tell with their eyes closed if there is a sage thicket or a geranium bush nearby. They’ll know whether elephants have just passed or if it’s about to rain. Spotting skills will be honed as they recognise silhouettes, listen to alarm calls and read animals’ expressions — A giraffe staring intently at a bush could mean there are lions dozing in the shade of the thicket. They’ll understand that real luxury is proximity to nature, and learn to be happy under canvas, protected by a zip with feeble lighting and chemical loos. They’ll tolerate midges, bugs, spiders, scorpions and unknown critters. Well, maybe.
A great learning experience
The plethora of wildlife in Africa is truly astounding. Daniel Sopia of Rekero camp, Masai Mara, tries to find as many species as he can. “Children come there already familiar with several animals and get to know many, many more. Within a couple of days they’ll be identifying the hyena, warthog, topi, baboon, monitor lizard, waterbuck, reedbuck, genet, civets, honey badger and be able to tell the difference between Grant’s and Thompson’s gazelles. They often ask the best questions,” he says.
If Africa is a step too far, the Indian jungles are equally blessed, and our guides just as informed. Family time spent in the bush is truly rewarding, and though the kids may delay the start, babble when you’re trying to listen and get a bit impatient, you will come away with a memorable experience with the added joy of having seen things through their prism.