Maybe you used to dream of travelling to exotic places, perhaps even going on safari in darkest Africa with your partner. Now, though, you're married with kids, and holidays consist of theme parks, fairgrounds and sand castles, with a visit to the local zoo or animal park if you're lucky. If the names Zimbabwe, Kenya, Namibia still conjure that longing for adventure, why not take advantage of some of the packages on offer designed specifically for younger children and take the whole family on safari?
The world's second largest continent, Africa is the cradle of human life, and it's a playground for adults and children alike, just waiting to be discovered. You could stay in a Massai-style village alongside a volcanic crater, hunt for big game, explore the African savannah in an off-road vehicle...
In South Africa, Kirkman's Kamp, located in the Sabi Sand game reserve, on the edge of the Kruger National Park, is world famous as one of the best places to see Africa's Big Five – the elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo and leopard. In the past, these great beasts were named by white hunters as the most difficult and dangerous game to hunt on foot, and although today they have become the target for shooting with cameras rather than guns, their tracking and discovery remains the highspot of many safari expeditions.
Kirkman's Kamp is a paradisiacal location where the daily activities focus on learning about nature and life in the African jungle in fun and informative ways. Helped by a park ranger, children spend the day identifying the different species of animals they see around them, participating in kiddies' safaris, making expeditions to discover interesting trees, searching for animal droppings and identifying the beasts that left them... There are treasure hunts, too, and cookery activities, where the children can get creative in the kitchen and make animal-shaped cookies, as well as a thousand other adventures that they'll relive again and again when they get back home and tell their friends.
The Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in Namibia is a perfect place to disconnect and enjoy one of the planet's most spectacular natural habitats: the Namib Desert. This seemingly endless space offers absolute peace and an extraordinary quality of light; here, the whole family will enjoy star-gazing through the skylights of their rooms or getting behind the lens of a telescope to admire the sheer immensity of the world around them. Adults can take a balloon flight, a helicopter tour or explore the highest dunes in the world by quad-bike, while the children get to live their own adventures in the desert, catching insects, collecting seeds as souvenirs of their African safari, observing the local flora and fauna, or improvising a picnic on the desert sands.
Sleeping in a thatched hut, discovering why the elephant has a trunk and the giraffe has a long neck, watching the sun set over this ancient land... these and other dramatic experiences await the young explorers and their families who head off in search of adventure to one of the selection of lodges catering specifically for family safaris: Ngala Safari Lodge, Uplands Homestead, Melton Manor, Ecca Lodge at Kwandwe or Madikwe Safari Lodge in South Africa; the Matetsi Water Lodge in Zimbabwe, and Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp in Kenya.