Spine-tingling excitement comes with the territory on the African savannah. Spotting an elusive leopard; seeing a lion stalk its prey in the gathering dawn; a camp fire under the vast night sky; suppressing nervous giggles while listening to the big beasts of the plains letting out a night-time roar or two – safaris come packed with moments that take the breath away, that linger long in the memory.
But where to go on safari? There are some superstar sights, justifiably celebrated – the staggering concentration of Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater is unparalleled, for example, while South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park is as diverse as you can imagine, with spotting the Big Five merely the tip of the iceberg. Some places and moments, however, stand out as extraordinary both for the experiences involved and because they’re simply not things you can do elsewhere. Unusual, magical and utterly memorable.
Strolling with Dumbo
A walk with a difference. Strolling, trunk-in-hand, with residents of the Elephant Sanctuary at Hartebeespoort Dam is a heartbeat-skipping joy, every heavy thud of the step beside yours accompanied by an involuntary giggle and a growing appreciation of these wonderful creatures. These young African elephants are being taught the ways of the wild, preparing them for life beyond the sanctuary’s boundaries, so a walk in the nearby bush, alive with birdsong and home to many smaller mammals, is not only a thrill for human visitors but an important part of the animals’ development. Afterwards, lunchtime, and the chance to help the elephants munch on some of their favourite snacks – cue photo opportunities to beat all others. Part of our 7-day Walk with Wildlife tour.
A remarkable conservation success story and a wonderful educational resource, the Langata Giraffe Centre is also great fun. The resident giraffes are ready for their close-up, and are a gregarious, inquisitive bunch. Our 12-day East Africa Family Safari gives you plenty of time with them at close quarters – help them nibble at their lunch, and for the brave, a probably-not-often-to-be-repeated chance to kiss a giraffe! Bet not many ‘what I did on my holidays’ stories back at school will include that kind of anecdote.
Dancing with the Masai
Think Africa and the mind might immediately leap to images of animals, but encounters with the locals often make for some of the most stirring, enlightening moments of any adventure, and chief among these must be taking part in a Masai dance. Join the circle and sway, bob the head in time – stick your head out as you breathe out, then tip it back while breathing in – and get ready for your turn to jump. A compelling experience for you and your tribe. Part of our 12-day East Africa Family Safari.
Searching for animals, on foot
There’s no doubting the buzz one gets from game drives, but searching for animals on foot is off-the-chart-excitement for kids. Your guide leads you, instructing you to remain silent as you progress slowly through the bush. The blood thumps in your ears, your breathing seems loud, your senses alert. A crack and a clatter and a sighting – an elephant rumbling nearby, perhaps, or a solitary startled springbok making for cover. Nothing immerses you in Africa like a walk among its wildlife, no experience in Kruger quickens the pulse quite like getting out of the vehicle and onto your feet. Kids love it, adults too. Part of our 7-day Walk with Wildlife tour.
Dinner on the river, with the locals
It’s difficult to top seeing Victoria Falls, the crashing cataract gives a roar louder than any pride of lions can muster and emits a smoke worthy of a volcano. Best to relax after getting a close-up of one of the world’s great sights with a relaxing evening – how about taking to the Upper Zambezi River as the sun goes down and having dinner onboard your boat as you cruise past the local wildlife? It’s got to be some of the most sedate, quietly rewarding wildlife-spotting you’ll find anywhere – drifting past wallowing hippos and keeping your eyes open for white rhinos having their evening feed as you tuck into yours. A bonus: the animal-spotting is guaranteed to keep the kids busy for hours. Part of our 12-day Kruger to Vic Falls tour.
That’s a taster. African adventures are too big sum up in a short article. Take a look through our family brochure or browse our trips online to get a more in-depth feel for the adventures awaiting your family on safari.