Back in February, we took the kids to South Africa and spent about two weeks on game drives during an African Safari.
Which means we completed number five on our 30 before 30 list!
Here is a recap of our trip:
Madikwe Safari Lodge
Our First Game Drive
Aram’s Epic Illness During the Trip
Kids’ Safari Fun
Cape Town Escape
My Cape Town Birthday
Back on Safari at Sabi Sands
The Magic of Safari
Here are my tips for a stress-free (or at the very least, less stressful) family African Safari:
Use a travel specialist located in your country.
When we initially contacted Robert More of Lion Sands Safari Lodge, he was happy to host us and arranged our rooms. However, he said our trip would be impossible without a country specialist. The travel specialist has the ability to arrange lodge accommodations (although, in our case we contacted the property directly) and they also arrange land and air travel. Robert recommended working with DSA Vacations located in Arizona and specializing in family travel. The owner, Terry Von Guilleaume is originally from South Africa, and provided us with all of our air and land travel to and from the continent as well as in-country. It alleviates a lot of stress that can come with international travel, and also, frankly, is safer. The specialists are familiar with the area, and many, like DSA Vacations do consider themselves responsible for you while on your journey.
One location per week.
That should be the general rule when going on a big trip. We chose three locations in 15 days and that was a bit too much in-country travel. (We flew from Los Angeles to New York and spent the night there. From New York we flew directly to Johannesburg where we stayed overnight. On the third day we drove from Johannesburg all the way to the border of Botswana (a 6 hour drive) where we finally reached our first game lodge. We spent five days there and left early to drive back down to Johannesburg and caught a flight to Cape Town. After Five days in Cape Town, we flew back to Johannesburg (with a crazy layover) and caught another hour flight, then drove another hour to finally reach Sabi Sands.
Although it was an amazing experience to see that much of South Africa in one trip, we would probably have extended our stay or shortened it to two locations if we could do it all over again. If headed to South Africa, I would say pick one Safari Lodge and then either stay in Durban or Cape Town depending on your interests.
Pack with purpose.
Lion Sands has a program called Pack for a Purpose that keeps an updated website listing needs of the community in the area by the Game Lodge (run by Thembi, a Lion Sands employee born and raised in the Lion Sands community area). Many other safari lodges in South Africa offer similar programs and they will happily provide you with a list of needs, when asked. Pack a suitcase with items to donate to the local community and fill it back up with locally made souvenirs. A win-win.
Go beyond the safari.
Many of the safari lodges take on projects within the local community. Don’t miss out on visiting the local projects and communities. Traveling and experiencing wildlife and the terrain of a new area is wonderful, but I think one of the best and most exciting aspects of traveling is getting to spend time with people who live in a vastly different area and culture than the one I am most accustomed to. What a gift to be able to give our children, to allow them to spend time with others and learn from them.
Choose your group wisely.
We hit the jackpot with traveling companions. We went with two other families (one we knew well and the other family we didn’t know very well at all) and we enjoyed each person in our group. Brian and I were discussing how having the two other families on the trip made it even better because we were able to experience something so special with others and share the excitement with one another. We understand that is probably not the case when you clash with some of the people in your group, but in our case everyone was happy, relaxed, and didn’t need to be entertained or expect much out of anyone else. We were happy to be in the presence of one another, but also were independent enough to go off on our own when need be.
Those are my tips! Have Fun!
For more information about Madikwe Safari Lodge please visit: http://www.madikwesafarilodge.co.za/
For more information about More Quarters in Cape Town please visit: http://www.morequarters.co.za/
For more information about Lion Sands Safari Lodge please visit: http://www.lionsands.com/
And for more information about DSA Vacations please visit: http://www.dsavacations.com/