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Digital Subscriptions > Travel Africa > January-March 2019 (85) > Teenage ki cks

Teenage ki cks

If you have children or grandchildren who are soon to fly the nest and head to university, go travelling or venture into the workplace, you might want to have one last big expedition with them beforehand. And Africa is a pretty perfect playground for such an adventure. Here’s what such a road trip might look like. By William Gray

Our twins were four when we first took them on safari in a small, malaria-free game reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. It was safe, simple and sensible. A short game drive, pancakes in the bush and a kick-about with a dried-rhino-dung football and they were happy. It was so easy to please them — with or without the big five.

Fast forward fourteen years to August 2018 and we were about to embark on a very different African adventure. With Joe and Ellie approaching 18, we wanted to do a ‘grown-up’ trip with them — a ‘final hooray’ before it was too late and they flew the nest and went to university.

A road trip across Botswana bubbled to the surface above countless other ideas — from touring the Garden Route to hiking the Drakensberg. There was no way we would have even contemplated a 3,500km self-drive (from Johannesburg to Maun and back) with very young children, but as any parent of older teens will tell you, car journeys can be quite rewarding for engaging with ‘distant’ adolescents.

Then there was the sense of purpose. I liked the idea of the Okavango as a goal. Having been there with my wife, Sally, long before our twins were born, taking them somewhere that had inspired our lifelong love of Africa’s wild places seemed fitting. All we had to do was sell the idea to Joe and Ellie and then find a way of doing it that meant we could still afford to pay for them to go to uni afterwards!

Flying in and out of Johannesburg was the cheapest way of getting within striking distance of Botswana. Self-drive would also save us money and we’d stay in self-catering guesthouses and cheaper hotels between more extravagant ‘mini safaris’ at all-inclusive camps.

We settled on a route east from Johannesburg to Hazyview and Blyde River Canyon, heading north to the Limpopo, crossing the border into the easternmost corner of Botswana and working our way west along the A14 Highway to the Makgadikgadi Pans and Okavango Delta, before returning to Johannesburg via the Martin’s Drift border crossing.

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About Travel Africa

Africa's changing cultural landscape • Safaris for body and soul • Top spots for you to go this year • Nature's Best Photography • Likoma Island • Jackals • Travelling with teenagers • Skeleton Coast lions... and much more!