A family safari in Africa is a bucket list trip for many people.
However, the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere, when most children are out of school, is peak travel season in Africa. This means bigger crowds and higher prices across the continent.
As a result, families are increasingly opting to take their kids out of school for travel to Africa during off-peak times instead.
If this is something you’re considering, but you are concerned about building in learning experiences throughout your safari, here are three exciting and unique ways to work education into your family’s African adventure.
Lend a Hand in Wildlife Conservation
While it’s not always practical for families to offer meaningful value as one-day volunteers for wildlife conservation programs, this doesn’t mean kids can’t get directly involved.
The African Wildlife Foundation is an extraordinary organization that supports wildlife across the continent. One of their programs is dedicated to protecting the 2,000 Grevy’s zebra left in Africa. Most of these are located in northern Kenya.
Before you depart for Africa, have your kids do some research about this unique species of zebra. They can then educate their classmates about the challenges these animals face. Perhaps through a bake sale, lemonade stand or odd jobs, the kids can work together to raise money in support of the work that conservationists are doing here. Instead of sending the funds away by mail, though, we can organize for your family to make a donation in person and see the work firsthand.
Walk with San Bushmen in Botswana
Safari in Africa often means long days sitting in the back of a Land Rover while spotting wildlife and enjoying the landscape. Most adults find this thrilling, but kids often tire of it after a few days.
I loved the opportunity to walk in Botswana with a San Bushmen clan. Joining them on a genuine foraging expedition is a totally unique, fun and educational experience that will surely thrill your kids. Plus, exploring the bush on foot is a great way to enhance the traditional safari experience.
Kids get right into the mix of things, seeing the important role each member of the family plays. Because this is an active cultural encounter, the engagement is more meaningful and natural too. Of particular interest to kids, members of a San family start making significant contributions to the group from a very young age. Kids have an opportunity to witness what their age-mates do during this cultural encounter.
Plan Around a Cultural Festival
We’ve long loved the dreamy island of Lamu, off the coast of Kenya.
The annual Lamu Cultural Festival is a celebration of both the heritage of the Arabic-influenced island and the current culture of the area. During the festival, families can watch competitions and races designed to encourage local activities that are central to Lamu life. Things like traditional Swahili poetry, henna (an indelible dye) painting and a Bao (Swahili board game) competition are some of the most popular events.
The week is capped off with a dhow (small sailboat) race that works to preserve and encourage the art of dhow handling, now threatened by the increasing availability of engines and prefabricated boats. Lamu’s finest dhows are selected to race through a complicated series of buoys. It is a lively and fun event for the whole family.
Combining time at the beach with this cultural festival is a great way to work culture and history into your family’s African safari.
Sarah Fazendin is on the team of Rothschild Safaris, an award winning, luxury travel company based in Denver, Colorado, with offices in Australia and South Africa. The company provides memorable guest experiences across the globe with an emphasis on wildlife, culture and conservation. An outspoken advocate of family travel, Sarah is regularly featured in the media sharing family travel advice, inspiration and tips to help busy families travel more. She also covers the topic of travel as education on her blog at A Family Travel Blog.
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