Ker & Downey President David Marek reflects the first family safari his family went to Botswana over 26 years ago.
Whenever my friends ask me if I want to take their family on safari, I remember the first trip to Africa with my wife and daughters. My girls were nine years old at the time.
I remember the anticipation we all had; Setting up the trip, arriving in Maun and then driving to our camp in the Okavango Delta. Today I would not recommend my friends to go with their families. Instead, they should do the “normal” thing these days, namely to bring a small plane directly to their first camp. I would like to see their children’s faces pressed against the window of the plane as they search for wildlife like my girls in the life-giving waters of the Okavango.
Twenty-six years ago there were not many opportunities for photo safari camps. But we were able to book one in the off-season and had the little tent jewel to ourselves. The camper staff was fantastic with our daughters and taught them 20 ways to make a napkin in the shape of an animal. They had a great first experience in the bush. I hope that every family can experience the camper staff like our children. One of the great advantages of traveling abroad is that barriers are dismantled and misinformation is eliminated.
There was this gem of a water hole right in front of our camp; Less than 30 meters away, that brought the most amazing bird and animal life. We could sit and admire the nature that unfolds before us … pigeons and capercaillie come into the water in the late afternoon, guinea fowl take their daily loud walk to the water’s edge and who can forget the red-billed Francolin that wakes us up? every morning dawn. We saw groups of Kudu come to water as well as waterbuck, impala and occasionally bushbuck. I hope that every family traveling on a safari needs time to sit, relax, watch and watch.
Safari is not just about going from animal to animal and deleting them from a list. It’s also about the smells, the sounds, the fresh coffee in the morning, the coolness of an early dawn and the beauty of an African sunset. It’s about finding new friends with fellow travelers, connecting with the locals and finding out how their lives connect with ours.
Children should go on safari. Mine have been back many times since this first trip. Every trip is always an adventure. A new friend is always found and always … you get away as a better person for the awareness that we as a creature receive on God’s green planet.
I look forward to taking my grandchildren on safari. I want to experience Africa as a child. I can do that best with them and with them.
A Botswana family safari
At a time when you seldom find children and teenagers without electronic devices, it is nice to get away as a family and reconnect. There is no better place for it than in Botswana, where the waterholes are active and lively, and wild animals come for a drink. Ker & Downey also has access to some of the country’s best kid-friendly guides, so you can be sure they’ll stay engaged and won’t want to check out on a device – unless you take some incredible photos on your family safari.
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