As a parent, there is no better way to experience the magic of Africa than through the eyes of your children - and there is no better way to show them that magic than by taking them on safari. Whether you choose to visit the great plains of Tanzania and Kenya; the arid desert of Namibia or the sprawling South African veld, there are plenty of lodges and reserves that specifically cater to children and teenagers. These places recognise the many lessons that Africa has to teach its youngest visitors, and dedicate themselves to providing an experience that is as meaningful as it is unforgettable; and as educational as it is enjoyable.
Perhaps the most obvious benefit of an African safari is its power to instil in young children an appreciation of the natural world. At Tswalu Kalahari Lodge in South Africa, for example, children are encouraged to take part in their Junior Ranger programme which allows them to experience the wonders of the South African bush first-hand. As part of the programme, children are invited on dedicated bush walks designed specifically for younger guests, during which they learn how to track animals by identifying and making casts of the spoor that they find en-route. Through this children gain a true understanding of the environment surrounding them, as well as of the importance of preserving it for future generations. Junior Ranger programmes like the one offered at Tswalu teach children to care about the wildlife that they see during their time in Africa - and in doing so, create the conservationists of the future.
The educational benefits of an African safari are almost endless, and sometimes serve to directly reinforce concepts connected to the school curriculum. Out in the bush, topics that children touch upon in the classroom are brought vividly and unforgettably to life - affording them the greater understanding that comes from personal experience. &Beyond lodges and camps throughout South Africa, Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia emphasise the educational value of an African safari through their Wild Child Programme. The children’s activities offered at each lodge tie in with the specific environment and heritage of the surrounding region, in the dunes of the Sossusvlei, for example, children might learn about the culture of the San people by playing traditional games; or about astronomy by picking out constellations in the unpolluted skies of the night-time desert. In Africa, children learn important lessons about history, geography and biology without even realising they are doing so.
Of course, Africa is made unique not only by its incredible wildlife and breath-taking natural spaces; but also by the people that live there. The continent is home to an incredible diversity of different cultures, and as such an African safari that encourages interaction with the local community can teach children invaluable lessons about the way in which other people live. Kwandwe Private Game Reserve in South Africa runs a children’s programme called the Blue Crane Conservation Club, which encourages families to get involved with a series of initiatives designed to assist those living in the villages that border the reserve. These initiatives include a gardening project in Mgcamabele, and the knitting of blankets for distribution to nearby townships. Similarly, Singita Boulders Lodge in the Sabi Sands offers families the opportunity to visit a local school whilst class is in session. Through interaction with young people of a similar age, children gain an appreciation of the richness of other cultures, as well as empathy for the issues that affect those less privileged than themselves.
As much as African safaris offer the opportunity to connect with other cultures, they also offer the opportunity to reconnect with one another away from the distractions of work and school. On safari, the magic of life in the bush is something that families can discover together - creating shared memories that will last a lifetime. Through travelling, exploring, and experiencing new things together, children and adults alike are reminded of the importance of family - which is, ultimately, the most valuable lesson of all.
Thinking about planning a family safari holiday? Check out our safari packages to find out more about the range of activities and the types of animal you can expect to see in each region. To begin planning your own safari holiday, visit our safari page or contact one of our experts on 020 7843 3500.
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