Luxury Botswana for families

Botswana is one of my favourite safari destinations, for its glittering selection of wildlife and the equally glittering water world of the Okavango Delta. Elephant, giraffe and zebra roam the plains, and hippo and crocodile lounge in lagoons – there isn’t much wildlife you won’t encounter here. If you’ve the added consideration of a family to keep entertained during your safari, it also gets a big tick for being reassuringly child-friendly. It’s possible to stay in family-geared yet luxurious camps and be escorted by local guides who’ll make sure your little ones see the animals they’ve dreamed of, and also teach them how to become a mini animal tracker themselves.

I’ve picked out five of the camps with the most to offer families on safari in Botswana.

Abu Camp

You’ll remember the luxurious and pristine accommodation and the high-quality service, but your kids will have long-reaching memories of riding and walking with African elephants (Abu Camp is the only camp in Botswana where you can do this). You’ll stay in select company, in one of just six tents (complete with en-suite facilities) that are pitched under a shady canopy in an ancient riverine forest, and set in the backdrop of the Okavango Delta. It’s your family’s base for viewing the animals on game drives, night drives, walks and from mokoro (dug-out canoe) safaris.

Abu Camp

Lagoon Camp

Your little ones will be able to get truly hands-on here, giving you more “me time” to sit back and relax. The camp’s guides aim to keep them entertained, and will teach them the ropes of animal tracking and camp life. They’ll have the chance to fish, learn to pick out night sounds and prepare for game drives, and they’ll come home knowing the names of the animals and plants they’ve spotted. You’ll feel spoiled by the luxury of the camp, the piece de resistance of which is its fantastic family room overlooking a lagoon in one of Botswana’s very best game viewing areas, famous for its number of predators.

Lagoon Camp

Zarafa Dhow Suites

I’d put Zarafa on the pedestal as Botswana’s most exclusive camp. It’s also one of the smallest, with just four tents, giving you a very personalised and exclusive service. The kids will love star gazing through the old-fashioned telescope that’s set up in each tent and splashing about in your personal plunge pool. The camp looks out towards a lagoon in a renowned game viewing area within the Okavango Delta, from where you can depart on day and night game drives. It’s now offering a two-bedroom family suite, so you and the kids can stretch out in your own space.

Zarafa Camp

Kanana Camp

Set among wetland scenery, Kanana is the place to enjoy water-based activities – including boat trips and fishing – and game in the privacy of Nxabega Concession, in the Okavango Delta. It has a spacious family tent, one of just eight. You can open up your tent completely, letting in the breeze and keeping the kids in sight while they play on the shaded veranda. There’s also a small pool for cooling off. Night time is particularly magical: lanterns and fires are lit and you can sit out under a blanket of stars and challenge the kids to who can count the most hippo grunts.

Kanana Camp, Nxabega Concession

Camp Kalahari

This relaxed, family-friendly traditional safari camp takes you away from the Okavango Delta and to the acacias and Mokolwane palms of Brown Hyena Island, on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Plans. It also offers you very different experience. Family-pitched activities will find you exploring the salt pan (it’s the size of Switzerland) by quad bike, relaxing with semi-tame meerkats (what child can resist these?) and walking with local Bushmen trackers. Your kids will get an adventure they’ll always remember without you trading in any luxury. The ten simple but spacious tents have en-suite bathrooms, and the family tent comes with two bedrooms and a large shared bathroom.

Makgadikga

Craig Burkinshaw is a Founder Director of Audley Travel.

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