A South African Safari
|A safari jeep tries to get a better look at a lioness in Sabi Sand Game Reserve.|
This is no trip for kids who can't be weaned from electronic toys and TV sets, nor for those who must travel on a limited budget. But for parents and yes, definitely, grandparents who can afford it, a safari with children over 12 will be fascinating and very rewarding.
Where to go: South Africa's best known safari destination is the vast Kruger National Park. There are other game reserves, but Kruger is where the family on safari for the first time will be rewarded with exciting game viewing and a range of accommodations.
When to go: The best time to visit is in the warmer, drier season, the southern hemisphere's late spring and early summer, Oct.-Jan. In spring, when grass is shorter, undergrowth thinned and trees not yet fully in leaf, visibility is better and the weather at its best. During months of significant rainfall, don't go.
Where to stay: Experienced tour operators recommend smaller tented safari camps, which are often quite luxurious. Families often look back on their contact with camp staff, rangers, and guides as well as other guests, at meals and on the daily safaris, as one of the best parts of the trip. Traditional safari lodges tend to be larger, often with up to 100 people, which affects the intimacy of the game-viewing experience.
What's best for your children: A family safari may well be the trip of a lifetime, both for its exotic, adventurous nature and for its considerable expense. Many families choose to wait until their children are older (above 12 years) and so better able to "appreciate" the trip, but those who've done it with younger children also claim a wonderful experience.
Plan together: Involve the entire family in planning the trip and before you go read about the country's history, places you will visit, the wildlife and other things you expect to see. It makes it much more interesting while you're there. Adults and children should take photographs, keep a family diary, collect scrapbook items and afterwards make an album together. You'll keep family memories alive and create an heirloom at the same time.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication