Dreaming of a luxury safari? You aren’t alone. Just last year I packed up my family and took us all on a trip to Tanzania, the heart of Africa. It was a bit difficult to get the family unplugged, but once we were out in the open-air jeep, with the sun blazing and the giraffes close enough to touch, everyone agreed that maybe I was capable of a good idea after all.
There’s only one thing I regret about our trip, and that’s our lack of research before we took off. We could have saved ourselves so much trouble by knowing certain things in advance! If you’re at all interested in luxury family holidays, here are a few things you’ll want to know before you go.
Sometimes there’s a long trip from the city to the plains. Sometimes the lions just don’t want to come out. Even the best luxury safari can suffer from a dull hour or two, so anticipate them in advance to keep yourself from headaches and endless “are we there yet?”.
Books are a great way to keep your kids occupied. Audiotapes are the same, with the bonus of being hands-free. Personally, I tried to keep my kids focused on the trip at hand – I brought travel pamphlets and National Geographic’s magazine featuring the chimps we were trying to spot, so they’d have something to do that was fun and appropriate for the setting. I left the PSPs back in England, because those should be played at home, not on luxury family holidays.
Children aren’t known for their silence, but that’s exactly what was required on a pre-dawn trip through the hills of Mikumi. Our guide repeatedly warned us that any loud sounds would scare away the animals, and at times I was tempted to tape my daughter’s mouth because she didn’t seem to get it! Make sure your children know the value of quiet and still observation. Make a game of it if you have to.
You might also want to teach them about “leaving no trace,” a movement among travellers to reduce their impact on native environments. Litter is just an annoyance at home, but in African grassland it can mean affecting the entire ecosystem.
Take multiple cameras! Take more cameras than you think you could possibly need. I promise you’ll use them all and then some. Your luxury family holiday might just be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so make sure you don’t miss a moment.