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10 reasons to take your kids on safari

Contrary to many misconceptions, Africa is an eye-opening, stimulating and educational playground for children. Will Gray tells us why the continent is the place to take your family

The first time we took our twins on safari, they were six years old. Our guide commanded instant awe in them by scooping up girafie droppings as if they were chocolate-coated raisins. He showed them lion tracks in the dry sand near a waterhole and taught them how to make pancakes on a camp stove in the bush. Joe and Ellie are nearly 18 now. Following that first wide-eyed brush with Africa, they’ve become seasoned safari-lovers, tracking Kenya’s Great Migration, canoeing the Orange River and foraging with Kalahari Bushmen. The thrill of an African safari still fires their imagination — later this year, we’re travelling to Botswana and they’re behaving like six-year-olds again. Even the prospect of long periods without Wi-Fi hasn’t dulled their enthusiasm.

That’s not to say, however, that the grandparents haven’t been tutting and clucking again at the mere mention of the words ‘family’, ‘holiday’ and ‘Africa’. “Is it safe? What about malaria…?” You can’t blame them for being concerned. Africa has its fair share of challenges when it comes to travelling with kids. But, equally, there are plenty of reasons why an African safari is the ultimate family adventure.

1Their guides will become their new best friends

It’s not hard to see why guides are quickly elevated to hero status in the eyes of most children. If your child is of a certain age, the realisation that your guide is obsessed with animal dung and bugs is nothing short of an epiphany. They are also magicians. They can make plant seeds rotate with a dab of saliva and read animal tracks in the dust. Older kids silently think their guides are cool (even if they won’t admit it). They drive big 4WDs, talk about lions and stu_, and probably know how to use a gun. Ultimately, though, no matter how shy your child, or how much they’re su_ering from Snapchat withdrawal symptoms, a good guide at a family-friendly safari camp will engage, enthuse and inspire.

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About Travel Africa

A wildlife lover's guide to Kenya • How to plan the ideal holiday to Zimbabwe • 10 Reasons to take your kids on safari • In Mandela's footsteps • Great bush dining: how they do it • Uganda, for the love of birds • Surprising Liberia • Southern Namibia • Lake Malawi • Awesome Okavango portfolio • Ethiopia's highlights... and much more!