NEVER TOO OLD
In the walnut tree outside my window is a life-size leopard, fashioned out of chicken wire and an old shower curtain. There it lies, all four legs and tail dangling, to remind me of the big cat country I am missing so desperately.
Having spent the 86th year of my life in lockdown, I can’t wait to go back. But my age begs the question: am I getting too old for Africa? For sure, my bush-bashing days are over. No more walking safaris in the Luangwa; not with my creaking joints. But if you are faced with the same concerns, provided you are still fit enough to climb into a Land-Cruiser there is no reason why you can’t still enjoy a safari with a little careful planning. My advice would be to keep long-haul travel to a minimum. Kenya is only eight hours away, meaning that you can land in Nairobi at first light, board a light aircraft at Wilson Airport and be in the Mara in time for breakfast. Once you are in the bush there is nowhere healthier, and nothing more arduous than a morning game drive – followed by lunch and a long siesta!
Taking your children on safari is educational. Not all classrooms have walls, and they are likely to come home with newfound interests, not to mention memories for life.
To ensure your children will remember the experience, age five and above is ideal. However, there are factors to consider to ensure the trip is fun and enriching for the whole family.
Where to go? For children under 10, we recommend Kenya or South Africa, as the wilderness areas are most accessible and there are direct flights from UK. Once children enter their teens, the continent is your oyster. Most safaris are accessible for over 12s, except for some specialist activities such as gorilla trekking (15+).
Besides your destination, what else should you bear in mind? The number of locations and travel times is something to consider. Long days on safari can be tiring; it’s better to get to know one or two places and travel slowly. Anti-malarial medication is advised in many regions and easy for young children to take – don’t let this put you off.
Adding beach time? Choose a destination that combines well with Indian Ocean islands, such as Tanzania.
Where to stay? Most camps and lodges have at least one family unit. Book a private vehicle for ultimate flexibility without disturbing others. Your kids will thank you for choosing somewhere with a swimming pool.
Tess and Mike Kelly
Coral Tree, Unique Family Safaris
Over the last 20 years, we have taken hundreds of people with disabilities on safari. This includes safarigoers with mobility issues, hearing and visual impairments, invisible disabilities, oxygen users and even those requiring dialysis.
While parks and camps in East and southern Africa are generally more accessible for people with disabilities, nowhere should be off limits. Indeed, later this year, we are running a canoeing safari in the Okavango for travellers with paraplegia.
The key, as always, is in the planning. Having chosen where you want to go, and what you want to see, talk to your safari provider about who can best cater for your requirements once there. For example, you may need to consider whether there are wheelchair ramps at the lodges or specially designed game-viewing vehicles? But even if there isn’t, there will always be friendly staff on hand to lift you into the vehicle or up to your room.
Specialist tour operators and disability-friendly facilities are available in more places than you might think – and this is improving all the time. But even if such offerings are inaccessible in your desired destination, there is, more often than not, a solution. Just ask!
CALLING ALL WOMEN
“10 days, 10 women, in the Namibian wilderness, tracking desert elephants, having an adventure, dawn yoga, inspiration and singing round a campfire, sleeping out under the stars, meeting Namibian women and hearing their story….”
This is the inspiration behind The Matriarch Adventure, a safari that seeks to connect women with nature, each other and themselves.
I realised that there are times when either too many demands or a crisis in confidence means that women rarely give themselves permission to take time out to enjoy the world, so decided that there was no better way to do this than to immerse oneself in the African bush.
All-female group safaris are becoming increasingly popular, and it’s a great thing. Going on safari is often seen as ‘something you do on your honeymoon’ or with your partner, but how liberating to feel that you – as a single mother of three, or a strung out businesswoman, or a woman whose children have flown the nest – can jump into a 4×4 and go and track elephants with like-minded women. This kind of experience is life changing – realising that you can move out of your comfort zone whilst being cared for by a team of trackers and expedition leaders, and certainly gives confidence and a new zest for life. The memories of a safari where you laugh with newfound ‘sisters’ under a full African moon are priceless.
A safari is a wonderfully rewarding holiday for anyone travelling alone – engaging and entertaining with endless opportunities to enjoy new experiences and meet new people. Whether you want to join a small group of like-minded travellers or have a tailor-made safari planned just for you, there are numerous possibilities.
If you are looking for company, then one of the best things to consider is to join a small group, of typically no more than eight people, on a set departure itinerary. These safaris operate on frequent departure dates throughout the year and vary in length and style. There are some particularly good ones in Namibia and Botswana. Other group trips focus on a particular activity – riding, canoeing or walking, for example – and are excellent options for solo travellers.
If group travel doesn’t appeal and you’d prefer a tailor-made safari, you can still expect to enjoy lively company on safari. Game drives or bush walks with other guests are fun, and sundowner drinks around the fire are a good place to chat about the wildlife sightings during the day. Meals are taken with other guests and the atmosphere is similar to that of an informal dinner party. Managers, guides and camp hosts are a hospitable bunch and are experts when it comes to making sure no one feels left out.
If you like more ideas and help with planning your next safari, you’ll find loads of the good stuff in Travel Africa magazine so why not consider a subscription today? Pick the option best suited for you by clicking on this link: https://travelafricamag.com/subscriptions