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7 reasons to take your children to Africa

Are you a parent or grandparent who dreads another week at Disneyland? Does the mere thought of trawling around Universal Studios, or of subjecting yourself to a family resort in the Mediterranean, make you feel slightly green around the gills? Well, here is a solution for you! Just because you’re travelling with children in tow does not mean that you have to give up your wanderlust, or put aside your sense of adventure. We have no fewer than seven reasons to take your children to Africa for your next family vacation, and saving your sanity is only one of them! 1. See animals in the wild It’s all very well watching animals on TV, but nothing beats seeing them in their natural environments. On a luxury family safari you might meet meerkat in the Kalahari, wildebeest in the Serengeti, or elephant in the Okavango Delta. Getting up at first light, you can track wild animals on foot, stopping to breakfast by the waterhole. Professional naturalists will teach and inspire you, and whatever your age you’re guaranteed to catch your breath when you first hear a lion roar or see a cheetah take down its prey. This is The Lion King — live action version. 2. Spend time together How much quality time do you get to spend with your family? For most of our guests, caught between work, the school run, and all the other obligations of everyday life, the answer is just not enough. Out in the bush, far from WiFi and with no mobile phone signal, you can switch off from the rat race entirely. Try something new together, share an experience, and talk about how you feel. 3. Appreciate what you have In the UK we live in a bubble, sheltered from most of the troubles of the world. It’s easy for our kids to grow up unaware of how challenging life can be, and how lucky they really are. In Africa you can gently, sensitively introduce them to communities with rather different experiences of life. You might visit a tribal family in their village, or spend a few hours in a local school. It is possible to work with proven development projects which have a positive impact on communities, so it’s a win-win for all concerned. 4. Create lasting memories You won’t remember anything about the hours spent at your desk, other than that you’d rather have spent that time elsewhere. Your children will remember nothing about it at all. But think instead the impact half a day at Stanley’s Camp playing with orphaned elephant will have. What if your kids had the chance to become a junior warrior with the Maasai? Or if you spent a night camping beneath the stars? Those memories become ingrained on the mind, priceless and unforgettable no matter how many years have passed. 5. Teach respect for the natural world When you are out in the middle of the Namib Desert, or standing beside a dry riverbed in the plains, you feel very small. On safari you’ll see the impact of changing weather on the landscape, how human encroachment threatens other habitats and the creatures living there. Even on a week-long safari, you’ll learn about the interdependence of each life form in an ecosystem, and how what we, as individuals and as communities do, has far reaching consequences. 6. Increase your ‘cool’ factor If your babies have grown into teens, you might wonder what has happened to them! Perhaps the close bond you once shared no longer seems so close. Build rapport with your teenagers by sharing an African experience which is undeniably cool. It might be quad biking across the Kuene, tracking gorilla in the Rwandan rainforest, or swimming in the Devil’s Pool. You win serious parent brownie points for giving your kids such opportunities, and they have unrivalled material to share with their friends on Instagram and Snapchat. 7. Save your sanity! Travelling with children doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dream destinations. In fact, it’s even more exciting if you share them. A good Africa travel specialist will know exactly which areas and properties are family-friendly, and take the stress out of your holiday planning. Leave the tiresome preparations to them, and once you’ve arrived be sure to take time out for yourself: arrange a spa treatment to relax, or a romantic dinner for two at one of our luxurious safari lodges whilst someone else watches the children. Laura Burdett-Munns is Managing Director at Africa Exclusive. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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  1. I watched a movie today and they’re also describing the beauty of Africa. It is a must if you’re a nature and wildlife lover. I’d love to visit there.

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful guide.

  2. Why are you writing about Africa as if it is one country?? It is such a diverse and huge place – sure you can do whatever you are mentioning or you could do the exact opposite – it simply depends on where you go.

    Do you really suggest to go just so you can appreciate what you have and help out a bit while you are there?! Maybe the author didn’t mean it like this but it just reeks of white savior complex and is just really presumptuous.

    1. I have to say I completely agree with you Annika. I was also taken aback by the ‘appreciate what you have back home’ sentence. We have lived in different countries around Africa for the last 20 years and have brought up our children here. Every time we visit home (UK), I tell them to appreciated what they have here in Malawi! They are always so happy to come back here.
      I thought the rest of the article was good though.

  3. Calm down, Annika… we try to keep things friendly here! :)

    I don’t see any suggestion that the author is claiming Africa is one country. Sure, there are many differences across the continent – as there are across other continents – but I think it’s fair to say that it’s a place that many people might not consider for a family vacation when really there are many interesting opportunities out there.

    I also don’t think the author is suggesting you visit simply in order to appreciate what you have. That appears to be your implication by saying “just so you can…”. Rather, I think the inference should be that one of the things your children might take away from a trip to Africa is an appreciation for what they have back home. That’s something they’re unlikely to get from a trip to Disneyland.

    I really do feel you’re misinterpreting the sentiment of the post which to my mind is simply highlighting some benefits of a family holiday in Africa, of which I believe there are many.

  4. Calm down?! Lol…okay.

    Well, I think it is an issue that travel site continue to portray Africa as one entity and while the author didn’t explicitly say that I think the connotation is a problem. I think you either need to say – travel in general – or make it specific to a country, because quite frankly a lot of similar experience you could have in countries in Asia or South America.

    And by saying that kids would appreciate would they have back home, it does apply that what people have in Africa is less. To me that is the wrong approach to travel.

    Not being unfriendly, just my two cents…

  5. Yes, you could have unique family experiences in Asia or South America as well, and there are many posts on this blog that allude to that. But since the author’s own interests lie in Africa, I don’t feel it’s unreasonable for her to write about that, and to write about it as one entity, even though there may be many differences within.

  6. Hi Annika,

    Thank you for your comments and we do take them on board. Our company has been creating bespoke holidays to 15 countries within Africa for over 27 years. The article was meant as a general guide about travelling with children and so to mention specific countries or regions for travelling with children would just be an impossible task as there is simply so much to choose from! With your comments you have inspired us to go into more detail in different countries within Africa and highlight some of the incredible experiences that are available. So please watch this space as we will be bringing you more in the coming weeks.

  7. Thank you for your comment, Laura! I understand where you are coming from, I just think it is a problem that mostly Africa faces in the media (unlike the other continents) – that it is grouped together as one entity and not as individual and very diverse countries. All of those are then stereotyped as this one ‘Africa’ and I think that is a problem, doing the different countries and the whole continent overall a disservice. I would just hope that a travel site doesn’t enforce stereotypes like this but rather tries to break them up.

  8. I think my son is a little too young for a trip to any part of Africa right now – but once he is a little older (he can barely walk!) then I would definitely consider it. Whilst Disney has it’s appeal – experiencing nature and different cultures is a much better holiday in my opinion, and gives little ones so much to learn. Safety and security would definitely be my foremost concerns, which is why I guess it’s important to book with a family friendly travel agency and have a knowledgeable tour guide.

  9. If you’re considering a safari, I think it is definitely worth waiting a while. Our boys took their first safari when they were aged about 10 and 8 years old. They were young, but old enough to take things in, learn a lot, and have some lasting memories from the trip.

  10. No children for me lol! But I see myself as a child, and all of these reasons are quite applicable to me sort of ahahaa. This is a beautiful guide and really represents Africa as a natural paradise. It is so important to teach children to respect the natural world, I’m glad that point was involved here

  11. Awesome article, Laura! I also work in the travel industry, and we’re slowly seeing a lot more people recognise Africa (especially Southern Africa) as a great family-friendly destination.

  12. I would have loved this as a kid. It’s a shame the focus is on ‘stuff’ and beach holidays and expensive tourist attractions when there’s so much more in the world you can expose your children to. It’s expanding their horizons, showing them kindness of heart and the importance of nature, appreciating what you’ve got like you’ve said here. I also think it gets everyone out of their comfort zone a bit by doing something so different. It’s good to know there are family friendly places kitted out to make this possible for families as I’m sure it’s a concern for many parents as to what facilities are available and how they’ll get on with a child or children in tow.

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