It is a trend for people to travel with their family. Combined with this is the growing tendency of the younger generation to define themselves by what they have done and experienced, rather than by what they own. With both generations more inclined to share their experiences with family, there is a growing need for holidays that allow families to engage not only with each other but also with their environment in a new and stimulating manner that changes the way they see the world.
With African safari providing the ideal blend of activities for both young and old, luxury experiential travel company &Beyond’s WILDchild programme is especially designed for children visiting the company’s lodges.
WILDchild is designed to do more than just keep children occupied while their parents enjoy their safari with careful thought and well present. While it is essential that the programme remains entertaining enough to capture youngsters’ imaginations, it also has a strong conservation message at heart.
&Beyond has provided additional facilities for families at its East African lodges, with almost all of them boasting specially designed family suites that allow families travelling together to stay close while retaining an element of privacy.
For example, &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara has three family suites made up of two interconnecting tents. Guests can opt to keep the passageway adjoining the two tents open or closed, meaning that children can get to and from their parent’s tent safely without going outside. When left closed, it still provides complete privacy for guests, with each tent boasting its own private entrance as well. Two family suites include a private outdoor area where guests can unwind and the third family suite boasts Mara views and close proximity to the main guest area.
As part of &Beyond’s WILDchild programme (which is offered at an additional cost at this lodge), younger guests experience fascinating animal encounters and, under the care of their ranger, are encouraged to explore their surroundings, getting to touch, taste and interact with a captivating new world. When arriving at their first &Beyond lodge, each child receives a specially designed backpack containing a branded scrapbook, as well as a safari themed gift. Each subsequent &Beyond lodge where they travel adds a gift to their collection, with collectable WILDchild dog tags handed out at each stop.
The activities that form part of the WILDchild programme attempt to tie in with the lodge’s environment, as well as the local heritage of the region. For example, children staying at &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania, which boasts a similar family suite, may enjoy excursions to an authentic Maasai village where they can learn about the tribe’s fascinating traditions through local folklore. Dressed up as Maasai warrior, young guests set off on walks that explore the lodge grounds, where they learn to identify plants and animal tracks. Children also get the opportunity to try their hand at colourful traditional beading with the local Maasai ladies, as well as planting seedlings in the lodge’s nursery.
At nearby &Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge young adults set off on a butterfly trail through the natural forest, stopping to enjoy a game of table tennis at the local village before exploring the lakeshore by bicycle.
Young travellers to Tanzania’s most famous game reserve are taught to recognise as many animal species as possible at &Beyond Serengeti Under Canvas, a semi-mobile camp that features extra spacious tents big enough for parents to share with a child. Here children are taught the bush lore of the Maasai, including how to distinguish the unfamiliar constellations of the southern sky.
The family suite at &Beyond Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp consists of two tents that share an enclosed entrance lobby and caters for up to two adults and three children. Adventures here begin after the morning game drive, with a guided walk in search of the tracks and signs of the many small animals found around the camp. Lunch provides the perfect opportunity for youngsters to create their own pizzas under the watchful eye of the camps chefs and children are kept busy with arts and crafts while the adults enjoy their afternoon siesta, decorating oversized sunglasses or making beaded animals.
At &Beyond’s Klein’s Camp the challenge continues with specially designed obstacle courses that require children to master skills such as making their own bows and arrows or building a fire in the traditional method.
The themed adventures continue on private and secluded &Beyond Mnemba Island, where a bottle washed up on shore contains the key to a thrilling treasure hunt.
Drawing on Africa’s rich wildlife and culture while encouraging a sense of curiosity and wonder, adventures such as these create unforgettable holiday memories for young and old alike.