We all know teenagers can be difficult: they operate on a different time zone to other humans, have the attention span of a gnat and really only like hanging out with other teens—much less Mum and Dad. So is it mad to plan a safari holiday with teenagers? Absolutely not! Get it right and it’s a wonderful family adventure full of excitement and laughter.
Richard Smith is a co-owner of family safari specialist Aardvark Safaris and has been planning tailor-made holidays for over 20 years. He shares his top tips for planning the perfect family safari with teens.
Choose your destination carefully
Even the most fanatical wildlife fan will tire of endless hours in a vehicle. Some destinations offer more variety than others with quad biking, horse riding, canoeing, walking and mountain biking on offer, alongside traditional vehicle-based game viewing. Pick a destination like South Africa, Zambia or Kenya and you’ll be onto a winner.
Mix it up
Combine traditional safari with the likes of the Victoria Falls where you’ll find plenty of adrenaline fuelled activities or Cape Town for fab shopping, bars and restaurants. With clever planning an African holiday can provide teenagers with all the action and adventure they need.
Time on the beach
Recharge your batteries on the beach. Mauritius has some great family hotels, or choose a relaxed lodge on one of Mozambique’s coastal islands. For something a bit off the wall, head to 350 mile long Lake Malawi, where sandy beaches, clear waters, PADI scuba courses, fishing, kite surfing, kayaking and star-gazing are all on offer.
Make room for downtime
Dragging teenagers out of bed at dawn day after day isn’t going to be fun for anyone. Although a safari holiday is likely to see them more eager to get up than a school morning, if they want to sleep in one day, let them.
Consider booking a private vehicle
Some safari camps offer private vehicles free of charge or at a reduced rate for families. As it is the iconic African species that are likely to grab teenagers’ attention having your own car avoids the conflict that could arise from sharing with keen bird watchers.
Find out beforehand where they can plug in
Though parents might want to get away from it all, cutting teenage social media communication is akin to disappearing off of the planet. Updating the outside world with news of their African exploits now and again will work wonders. Some may even surprise themselves and become so immersed in the wonders of Africa that they give the digital stuff a break.
Try something unique
Though walking isn’t exactly a beloved teenage pursuit, it’ll take on a different perspective in the company of camels. Mainly there to carry luggage on these Kenyan walking safaris there’s no problem hopping aboard for a quick ride now and then. Also, following lion and elephant on foot will get everyone’s hearts racing.
Likewise, sailing around a string of remote islands off the Mozambique coast will offer an unforgettable experience. If you’re feeling really adventurous with older teens (16+) how about a private family trip up Mount Kilimanjaro?
Take a private safari house
With your own private accommodation, guide and vehicle you can do exactly what you want, when you want – so no worrying about fitting your family in with others’ plans. Some of the very best private safari houses are found in Zambia’s South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi national parks, and in the Masai Mara in Kenya.
Best time to travel?
Africa is a truly vast continent with varied seasons and weather patterns. Planning a family safari with sunshine and great wildlife is possible year round. The most popular times for family travel are Christmas and the summer holidays. Easter is excellent too and a good way of avoiding the ‘high season’ costs. For those with two weeks off in October, the weather and wildlife are excellent pretty much anywhere.
To book the family holiday of a lifetime give the team at Aardvark Safaris a call on 01980 849160. They are offering School Notices members a range of fabulous safari offers. Click here to find out more.