Kids on Safari - the best bush schools and warrior academies
Relaxed family fun in the wilderness
19 Feb 2019
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Africa is where time slows down. It's a place where you can reconnect with nature, and each other, as well as develop new relationships and make everlasting memories with your family.
From family holidays in Botswana to Kenya and Namibia, we've picked out some of our favourite child-centred safari programmes, from bush schools to warrior academies, so you can enjoy wilderness adventures with your little explorers and give them a trip they'll never forget
Be an Explorer - Okavango, Botswana
Discover the secrets of the Okavango Delta with a family stay at Footsteps Camp in one of the most beautiful areas of Botswana. You'll have exclusive use of the six-bedded camp, as well as your own guide and camp staff. The Young Explorers programme here is all about having fun with your children in the wilderness at your own pace. Aspiring explorers can have a go at bow and arrow making, camp crafts, and bushman skills - catch your own fish and cook it over an open fire. And of course you get to eat the results! There's also game tracking, learning how to make small animal traps and discovering how to start a fire using nothing but a couple of sticks. Children also love identifying animal dung, having a go at poling a Mokoro (traditional canoe), and shooting air rifles at tin cans. Big 'kids' can join in too! At the end of the trip a ceremony is held where the children are tested on their bush knowledge, and presented with a certificate, t-shirt and a cap to remind them of their time as bush explorers extraordinaire.
A family home away from home on a cattle ranch, El Karama Lodge is perfect for exploring with children, and teaching them the way of life in the bush whilst having lots of fun at the same time. This is no ordinary safari experience. Here you have complete freedom to enjoy the wilderness with bush walks, night game drives, 'poo safaris', footprint plaster casting, and of course the glorious solar-powered eco pool to cool down in during the afternoons. But the adventure doesn't stop when night falls. If you're feeling brave, there is camping out in the bush in unique 'tree tents', or back at the ranch there's a rondavel cottage, a hobbit house, and glamping tents to sleep in.
At Madikwe Safari Lodge they know what it's like to travel with young children, which means a stay here is less about schedules and more about having the freedom to play, explore and enjoy spending time together as a family. It's a home away from home, with added safari activities that the kids are going to love.
There's dung tracking, rock painting, cookie and pizza making in the boma, scavenger hunts, pool games, making paw print plaster of Paris, stargazing, crafting in the specially designed eco-house, and of course toasting marshmallows over a campfire. And for those who want to learn more about creepy crawlies, there's 'Bug CSI'. Parents can join in with their children, or escape for a few hours to themselves. It really is a magical place for families to come together, with the added bonus that the Madikwe Game Reserve is malaria free!
Be a Wild Child - Sossusvlei, Namibia
&Beyond offer an exciting WILDChild programme at most of their African properties, and one of our favourites is Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in Namibia. Each child taking part in this extraordinary adventure will receive a special backpack with a scrapbook and essential explorer goodies such as a solar torch, magnifying glass or compass. Here it's all about interaction, and the ranger or guide will unravel the mysteries of the African bush as well as teaching the children about local traditions. Each day the children receive 'assignments' which can involve tracking animals, crafting and beading, making traditional bows and arrows, as well as having fun in the kitchens and gardens. At the end of a thrilling day, young adventurers will find the next day's assignment waiting for them on their pillow. Maybe they'll be playing bushman games, learning how to find water and food in the desert, or perhaps stargazing beneath the twinkling night sky. All these incredible memories can be recorded in their personal scrapbooks with notes, drawings and stickers to illustrate what an amazing time they had on safari.
Be a Warrior - Masai Mara, Kenya
If you're looking for something a little different for your Kenya family holiday then check out the Warrior Academy at Saruni Mara, a great way to combine fun and learning with wildlife and culture, and perfect for all the family.
This interactive experience gives a fascinating insight into the Maasai tribe, and guided by the 'Moran', or warriors, participants will find out about the lives of these colourful people, and take part in activities such as learning how to use bows, arrows and spears, how to bead traditional artefacts and hearing some tribal stories and songs. Study the giant crocodiles and hippos of the mighty Mara River, and explore the vast plains and forest valleys around camp, as well as learning about traditional plants used for medicine, and how to clean your teeth out in the bush, Maasai style!
The Warrior Academy can be easily combined with regular Masai Mara safari activities, and can last from half a day up to three days.
Be a Safari Expert - Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
The Selous is Africa's largest game reserve, packed full of fauna and flora that will fascinate every child, young and old. Family stays at Azura Selous are highly personalised, and you'll have your own guide and vehicle wherever possible. The expert guides will teach the children about the bush, including how to track animals, how to make bow and arrows, the names of animals in Swahili, and the fascinating medicinal values of the plants that live here in the wild.