The school holidays rotate four times a year, and each time you want to entertain your kids and treat them to something really special once in a while. Well, here today I present the best school holiday treat for the whole family! Most of the time, family trips focus on a destination suitable for kids, but it can be a little tiring for parents. East Africa is NOT such a destination – it offers plenty of choice for everyone from your primary school-aged son to his grandmother.
East Africa has so many activities for all ages. Many people think of a typical safari looking at the animals from the safari vehicle. Spending days in the car doesn’t sound very appealing when parents are considering vacationing for their young children. But there is so much more! At Lake Naivasha, you can cycle through Hells Gate National Park. You can take a hot air balloon ride in the Masai Mara and the Serengeti. Many cottages have swimming pools to set aside for a big day of game drives. In most places you can be in the area, you can take a beautiful view for the sunset. Walking safaris are available in Central Kenya, Lake Naivasha and Lake Eyasi in Tanzania. Or maybe a boat ride on Lake Baringo, Lake Victoria, Lake Kivu (in Rwanda), or the Nile River in Uganda. At the source of the Nile in Jinja, Uganda, youngsters can raft downriver while seniors relax on an upriver lunch cruise!
Earlier I mentioned that parents tend to worry about their young children spending all day in the car. What if they get bored? What if they need the toilet? Ah, it could just be a disaster. Wrong! There are ways to make game drives fun and entertaining with games or scavenger hunts, or have them fill out a field guide if they’re a little older. This will keep them busy and interested in finding the next animal. You could have rewards for the most obscure find of the day. Anyway, the animals you see are lions, elephants and giraffes! A family took their two children, aged 3 and 5, on a safari, and they prepared their guide that they might have to cut it short if the kids get irritable. But it never happened. The kids were so excited to see the animals and drove all day!
Meeting local people and learning how they live is a wonderful experience for all generations. But East Africa has a lot of problems and life is really different from what we’re used to in the West. We have witnessed a profound impact on young people, especially when they interact with children their own age living in slums or a Maasai village. Visiting community-based organizations and seeing their projects can inspire young people to start thinking about how they can make a difference in this world. Family groups visited schools and donated books. Other families have visited traditional villages and it’s great fun to see the kids playing together despite the language barrier.
So, if you started to think that finding something to do would be okay, but now you’re starting to think about logistics. Where will you stay? How do you travel? Again, East Africa has you covered. Many accommodations have family rooms. We also understand that traveling with a family can be expensive, so if you’re traveling on a budget, consider a camping trip. Camping in national parks at night listening to the sounds of bushes around you is really exciting! As for transport, there are a number of vehicle sizes depending on how many people you are. A typical safari van or Land Cruiser can seat 6-7 passengers, but if you want to bring the extended family for a multi-generational trip, you can rent a land truck.
The biggest concern of families considering coming to East Africa is safety and security. When you book through a reputable tour operator, you will be accompanied the entire time by knowledgeable local guides. By booking a full safari package and prepaying for everything, you don’t have to carry around a lot of cash. And remember that national parks are never the target of terrorists or criminals – big cities are much more profitable for them. On a safari, you will spend most of your time in national parks and minimal time in cities, so your risk of encountering these bad guys is reduced.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to create great memories together. You can use it to celebrate a special occasion – for example, a family group of us reunited in Kenya to celebrate grandfather’s 70th birthday. Regardless, a family vacation to East Africa is a to-do list activity that no one will forget.