Engaging kids on a family safari to Africa

  • July 20, 2018
  • engaging kids safari children family life changing moments memories engagement africa botswana okavango African

    The cheetahs that our 11yo daughter spotted in the Okavango Delta.


    Engaging kids is the key to a successful family safari to Africa. A safari ebbs and flows between searching and finding and it only takes one moment to change the course of a whole safari, and possibly even a young person’s life.


    The moment where the searching ends and the viewing begins is a special one. There are so many ways in which the finding takes place. Sometimes the animal presents itself in an obvious way (a gift from the wild). More often, the animal is hidden. In these instances the finder is normally the guide, who has had years of experience in these areas and understands the movements of the animals, as well as how and where and when to look – a significant advantage!


    It’s very special if one of the family is the one that sees a hidden animal first. ‘The finder’ has had to pay attention. They have had to tune in and listen to the guide as well as the wilderness. You would think that everybody else benefits from the finders hard work. They all do, but ultimately it is the finder that reaps the most significant rewards. The acknowledgement of the others in the vehicle is great, but it’s the internal buzz that gets you most excited. You spotted it – you! Nobody else found it.


    It’s an empowering and enabling moment.


    If you hadn’t been paying attention, if you hadn’t been engaged then we would have all driven straight past. An experience, and possibly a significant family memory, would have been missed.


    This is what happened for our 11 year old daughter as we drove through a grassy floodplain near Mapula Camp in the northern reaches of the Okavango Delta. She spotted three cheetah sitting on a termite mound. It was a very good spot. There was a serious chance that if she hadn’t been paying attention, we would have driven straight past. She spotted them – it was her moment.


    “There they are, there they are!!!” she cried, half squealing, half shouting.


    The cheetahs were hunting. We spent the whole morning with them watching them unsuccessfully stalk a herd of impala. She made our morning, and she knew it!


    It was more than just acquiring a memory though. It was a moment where she realised she didn’t need to rely on the guide to find the animals. Or her Dad or Mum. She could do it. So long as she was engaged and looking and paying attention then anything was possible. She grew a few inches that day.


    Sometimes the moment that changes a safari can be the same moment that changes a life.


    At African Family Safaris we understand how special these moments are, and we work with families (and kids in particular) to help them become the finders. In the lead up to a safari we will send through short video clips from each of the areas that you’ll be travelling too, so that you all get a sense of what the experience will be like. We also send each of the kids their own bit of secret safari information. This is high level (but kid-friendly) information that enables them to interpret the wilderness and potentially be ‘the finder’. They might need to connect with the guide and ask for a little help. Ultimately though, it’s all about being engaged.


    The more involved they are in seeking, the more likely that they will have an empowering and enabling moment of their own. We want to help make that happen!

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