As multi-generational travel takes off, luxury safari operators are having to tweak their offering to ensure they cater for the needs of small children too. Dave Marsh chats to Wilderness Safaris about how the operator is creating experiences for different age groups.
There was a time at high-end lodges when the presence of children was frowned upon.
Problems cited were that they often spoiled the experience for other guests, there were safety concerns in camps not geared for them and some children were simply frightened of sleeping away from their parents in the wild.
No longer. With the growth in multi-generational travel, many safari operators have now embraced family travel and turned it into a fine art.
Holidays do more for a child than toys, and apart from giving children the prized gift of time, the London Telegraph reports on the science of how family holidays actually make children smarter.
Roberto Viviani, Business Unit Manager for UK and Europe at Wilderness Safaris, told Tourism Update that they are continually refining their product so that it is more family friendly.
The operator has focused products for children of different age groups.
For the 6-12 age group, Wilderness Safaris has just published a new activity-packed booklet called My Wilderness Journey. It is handed out to the children on arrival at family-friendly camps with the Bush Buddy bag. The aim was to create exciting experiential family safaris that educated, as well as entertained, said Viviani.
The booklet is designed to be an interactive and illustrative work book that features interesting and fun information about animals, plants and the wilderness to encourage younger guests to explore the natural environment that they are visiting. Interspersed with activities and games throughout, the three-part booklet also features a mammal and bird checklist and a map on which children can plot their journey.
The Bush Buddy bag also includes other interesting safari keepsakes, such as a bug viewer, crayons, pen, branded hat and an eco-friendly wind-up torch.
Teenage Packs include a mini-Maglite torch and branded cap, and are given to all teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17.
Entertaining activities led by Wilderness Safaris guides subtly encourage children to learn about and fall in love with the wildlife and natural environment around them. Each family-friendly camp offers different activities suited to its own particular environment.
Spacious family rooms are available at many camps to ensure that parents can sleep near their children without being too cramped in one tent. There are several styles of family rooms, some with shared facilities and others with separate bathrooms.
Other features of family friendly camps include:
- Childminders at some of the family-friendly camps (at extra cost) so that parents can enjoy dinner and relax knowing their kids are well looked after.
- Flexibility in activities allows for early meals for younger children.
- Arts and crafts are geared towards acquiring traditional skills.
- In Botswana an experienced ‘Bush Buddy’ can be requested to join the family at each camp to be the mentor and friend of younger guests (aged 6-12) and show them the highlights of the bush.