Kids on safari!

Perhaps some of the most rewarding safaris I’ve led have been those during which families are brought together in novel experiences here in Africa. Having brought up my own kids here, with so much time on safari, and seen many other youngsters immersing themselves in the great outdoors, I feel it has such wonderful effects on their developing minds. Their curiosity is immediately piqued, and they can never ask too many questions. It really is the ultimate classroom.

There is such a range of new sights, and so many exotic and wild things to smell, touch, and explore. And every day we witness the great diversity of animals feasting and chasing and swimming and sleeping – all those storybook creatures, including the colossal frames of the elephants and graceful gaits of the giraffes, to the ever-interesting dung beetles, superb butterflies, and everything in between.

Sometimes we view this from our safari car, and sometimes we experience it as we walk through the wilderness, or ride horses, or catch a train of Samburu camels. Seeing the wide-eyed joy of children riding their sturdy Ethiopian ponies alongside a herd of wild zebras or their pride when they catch a Mara River catfish on a hand line are always the best moments on a family safari – for both me and their parents! 

The personal interactions we have with Maasai and Samburu people can also have a significant impact. Our friends in the communities we visit continue to live traditionally in many ways. For kids growing up in the fast paced 21st century, the grounding insights from time amongst such proud and noble people is as valuable as ever. And this isn’t a stand back and watch experience; kids jump right into soccer matches with the locals and learn how to throw spears and clubs in the Maasai Olympics in camp. Everyone always enjoys the singing and dancing, and we have had plenty of attempts to jump as high as the infamous Maasai warriors!

As a parent, I believe we have some special windows of time with our children, to share with them some of the wonders of our precious planet. Africa provides such a magnificent space in which to be a kid, and the impact of this kind of journey lasts a lifetime.