‘You are never too old or too young, to fall in love with Africa’
With the hectic pace of life and demanding schedules making for days packed with commitments as we balance work and home life, it’s no surprise that the travel industry is seeing a move to family focussed holidays.
Not only are parents wanting to spend relaxed quality time with their children, but also to share their annual leave with the grandparents, maximising on the value of time together and turning it into a bonding opportunity that compensates for an otherwise hectically paced living.
Multi generational travel is particularly popular in Africa where being off the grid, enjoying conversations and activities without the apps and gadgets on which we have come to rely, makes for a rich and real experience.
Actually ‘off the grid’ itineraries are being requested in a bid to put people back in touch with the basics. It has them sharing stories as they gather around the dinner table to reflect on the events of the day. Or around the open fire while on safari, where khaki clad bush wise rangers tell mesmerising tales of African encounters and the grandparents relate anecdotal accounts of their early travels and memories.
In this way revelations are being made and dreams realised. Perhaps it is the maternal notion of Mamma Africa that denotes a sense of care and is making this kind of group travel ever more popular here.
There’s much to suit every generation, an educational understanding of the cycle of life so clearly depicted in our game reserves, the hierarchy of nature, cultural appreciation and the breaking down of barriers, both within the family group and with the destinations they visit.
When planning, the best way to design a holiday for a family group is to break it into 2 or 3 areas, a city and safari or city, safari and Victoria Falls, for example. The option of Hotels vs. serviced Villas, and activities that can be split within the group – or jointly shared.
The trend is seeing adventures for the parents while the grandparents hang out with the children, or relaxed time for the grandparents while the parents and children head off on excursions. Either way, the options will flow naturally and suit all and you come together over meals.
If a safari is the plan, a group of 6 pax would be entitled to a private vehicle, which is a great advantage and offers more flexibility. Although some of the best family holidays are shared by more than 6 people.
Accommodations both in the city and at safari lodges are designing and adding family rooms, offering children’s programs and even have babysitters available. It’s recommended that you check with your tour operator the difference between ‘accepts children’ and ‘child friendly’ when booking.
While selecting an area for your trip do bear in mind that areas such as Cape Town, the Eastern Cape, Kruger National Park and Victoria Falls are wonderful family friendly options. Whilst Botswana and Kenya less so. Factors such as malaria free areas, age requirements for game drives and room configuration should be checked in advance.
It’s very special to have quality time for the family, taking in first time experiences together and building memories that will be relived again and again.
Rewarding for parents and grandparents, is that children really “see” Africa, the animals, the creatures, birds, rocks, colours and night sky. Each day can end as you mark off the things you’ve seen on the species list provided by the lodge, take notes in a journal, colour-in pics of animals or read an African fable as a bed time story.
Climbing the sand dunes of Sossusvlei. An activity for the whole family.
Consulting a bird book with the game ranger guide works at any age.
Tips for travelling with children – and adults.
– Let choosing the destination be a joint experience. Talk about the places and options, and what they will do and see there. It helps built the anticipation once the decision is made and the countdown to departure approaches.
– Look at a map or guide book to help them understand where they are in relation to home. Invest in a journal, themed story book and be sure to take some time each evening to recap on the events of the day.
– Encourage them to learn a little about the people and culture that they’ll be exposed to, maybe a couple of words for ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ in the local language would go a long way.
– Support the ‘whys’. We know that travel brings many lessons and the sooner children are open to benefiting from these lessons, the better. Let them ask about the places they visit. How far, how long, names of the antelope and how much an elephant eats each day. You’ll find that the lessons will reach all in the group – as Africa teaches through it’s beauty.
– Give them a camera and encourage them to take photos of whatever interests them, whether that be buildings, cars, food or the animals on the game drive. At the end of the day, or at the end of the trip, have them tell you about the photos and consider creating a photo book once home.
– Encourage your children to try new things, new food, and be respectful of the cultures that they will encounter as they go.
– Teach them to be good travellers, with open minds and open hearts. This would be a gift they will carry always.
African safari holidays offer many fun and meaningful opportunities for wholesome family bonding. Both adults and children will return relaxed and enriched, cherishing shared memories forever.
To book your own holiday, be it for the whole family or as an escape break from it all, connect with Southern Destinations who can design an itinerary to suit your interest and family dynamics. Learn more here www.southerndestinations.com and AfricanSafaris.com for more information.