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Grandma and Grandpa want to take the grandkids to Africa and don't know where to begin!

Grandma and Grandpa want to take the grandkids to Africa and don't know where to begin!

Old Apr 11th, 2007, 02:14 PM
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Grandma and Grandpa want to take the grandkids to Africa and don't know where to begin!

Hi-
My fabulous active parents are considering taking their 6 grandchildren (age 10-23) on a "trip of a lifetime" next year. My husband and I would likely go along as well.

At this point Africa is at the top of their list. Although, none of us have ever been to Africa. Other considerations if Africa doesn't work out are New Zealand or Costa Rica.

Our biggest concern is will the younger kids (2 10 year olds, and 1 12 year old)find it boring? They love wildlife as much as the next kid, but I can already hear "are we there yet?" or "I'm bored".

I'd like to ask those that have traveled to Africa (S. Africa, Kenya, Botswana, ?) with children, did your child find it exciting or do you think 9-12 is too young to really appreciate the beauty and wildlife of Africa. What else did you do besides view the wildlife?

I'd love to hear any opinions. What worked and didn't work with your kids. Do you think my folks should be looking at their other ideas: New Zealand or Costa Rica?

Sorry for the vague post. I've read many threads and trip reports already, and my head is spinning.

Thanks so much!
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 02:58 PM
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Wow! this Christmas we took my 13 year old grandson and his parents to Tanzania using Journey to Africa as our tour company. It was the most fabulous trip we have ever been on. Great flights, great food, wonderful places to stay, the best guide ever, and 1000's of animals up close. Call me at 805-474-0402 Pacific time for lots more info. Floyd
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 03:05 PM
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We took our (then) 14yr old son to Botswana and V.Falls and he was never bored and he was the only child at each camp. I think if he had been younger, we would've chosen Kenya since there seem to be many camps there with lots of activities for younger children such as cultural visits with the Masai, along with wonderful game viewing. I have read several reports from people who have taken children even younger than yours and have had a fun and enriching experience and I'm sure you will get a lot of good advice on this forum. With an offer like that from your parents, you should definitely choose Africa-it will be an unforgettable trip for all of you.
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 03:36 PM
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Though a few who have posted here have taken young children (Heather, w/ her 5/yr old twins) and who had a blast; by the time youngsters are 8/yrs old, they're ready. And, they love it. Don't recall anyone posting hearing "are we there yet?"

Some distances can be long, but there's always something along the way to excite them. If flying between locations, those small planes are also fun for youngsters.

There are many threads on this board, even a post about 1/yr back written by the granddaughter (or daughter) of a traveler... a 13/yr old, who raved and gave her own impressions throughout.

Lucky kids to have such wonderful grand parents. Go for it.

Suggestion - as your plans progress, have questions, etc. keep them together under this same thread so we can follow along and assist in your planning.
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 03:54 PM
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Thanks so much for the prompt replies. This is encouraging!

I've got some more homework to do now. Sounds like perhaps Kenya might be a good place for the kids, so there will be a mix of wildlife and cultural experiences. Agree?

Is 2 weeks (total travel time) reasonable? Don't know if we can do much more than that. Ka-ching, ka-ching!
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 04:08 PM
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My responses are not based on having traveled with kids. They are just generalizations from having visited all three destinations under consideration and continually returning to Africa.

Africa boring for kids? No, not at those ages if they enjoy wildlife. Plus there are safaris designed particularly for kids, which are listed below. The adults will enjoy these safaris as well.

Africa vs. Costa Rica or New Zealand? The disadvantage of Africa is you will get these youngsters hooked on it at an early age and turn them into Africa addicts before they are teenagers.

Depending on where you are located, you could evaluate the travel time and travel cost of these destinations. No travel vaccines or malaria prevention is needed for New Zealand. If a malaria-free area was a requirement, there are spots in South Africa and Namibia that are malaria-free and here are links.

http://www.uyaphi.com/accommodationMALARIAfree.htm
http://www.go2africa.com/malaria-fre...is/default.asp

Some Fodors posts on malaria free areas
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=34927087
http://fodors.com/forums/threadselec...4&tid=34923279

Most families with kids venture into malarial areas, but just take precautions and use preventive measures.

When are you going? If I assume June-August (summer vacation), then New Zealand is in the middle of winter (I’ve been snowed on in July in Milford Sound), Costa Rica has its rainy season about May-Oct and Africa has some of its best mild winter weather and wildlife viewing during the dry season. Note this link that shows what parks in Africa are best at what time. Best also equates to most expensive, unfortunately.

http://www.africa-adventure.com/dsp_besttime.html

Of the 3 locations, I think Africa would have the biggest impact on the children and offer the best bonding experience for everyone on the trip. It would probably be the most expensive destination of the three, not even including the costs to get there.

These are links to family safaris.

http://www.africa-adventure.com/prog...safaris00.html
http://safari.go2africa.com/tours/fa...fari-tours.asp
http://www.kiboguides.com/safariShow.php?safId=58
http://www.thomsonsafaris.com/sa_family.shtml

Each of these companies has been used with success by Fodorites in the past. You could also design your own safari with some of these family friendly elements. With the size of your group and ages of your children, unless you joined a family group, you’d be on a private safari.

I vote for Africa!
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 04:21 PM
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I took my 10 & 12 yr olds to Africa in June 06. We spent 5 nights at MalaMala in South Africa and then we met up with my husband and another family of 4 at a private cattle ranch in Namibia. We all had a great time and the kids were never bored. They never even got out their gameboys. What a wonderful treat for your whole family!
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 05:15 PM
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Kenya for 2 weeks would be wonderful for the kids and everyone else.
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 08:37 PM
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Personally, my kids would be bored with cultural adventures and visits. They want to see the animals, and I know that the exoticness (if I can coin a word) will enchant them once we are there. I have planned big trips far from home before for us and I have found that a mix of activities (I have three very active boys and my sister has 1) works for us. So, we will be walking, mokoroing, going on wildlife drives at different times of the day and night, and - Very Important! - hanging out in camp for a little down time. I cannot stress the importance of just chilling. Especially since some of the tented camps look beautiful and exotic, like something we have never done. Also, the two younger boys, my soon to be 12 year old twins, absolutely love watching "Meerkat Manor" I think it's on the Discovery Channel, so they are beside themselves with excitement about seeing meerkats. Who knew meerkats were cool?

I cannot imagine a child being bored there. I can imagine them being too rushed to really fully appreciate a place, so we will stay at least two nights everywhere we go. I can also imagine them being too stressed to take it all in because of trying to squeeze in too much. But bored? No way!
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 11:01 PM
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I'm so glad to hear about all of your wonderful adventures in Africa. It makes me much more confident that this would be a good option for everyone.

Floyd and atravelynn- thanks for the links and recommendations. I appreciate it very much.

Atravelynn- we will be traveling from California and Washington state. No doubt, Africa will be the most expensive. We would probably go there in the summer. If we ended up with Costa Rica or NZ, we'd go over Christmas break (peak time, I know). Cost Rica would be the easiest/cheapest, but my folks really want to pursue Africa first. Who am I to argue?
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 11:13 PM
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I vote for Kenya (What do you expect from the Africa forum?). Best value for your money. Check out the East Africa Trip Report Index here:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...4&tid=34860283

We went last August, took our two (semi-)adult children. Some of you hard core Fodorites might be interested to hear daughter works at Disneyland now, just got promoted to be a VIP tour guide. Sorry back to the thread.

Let me get the ball rolling with what seems to be the classic Kenya itinerary and we can begin arguing, I mean discussing:

Day 1 Nairobi
2 Drive to the Ark or Mt. Lodge
3-6 Samburu
7 Sweetwaters
8-9 Lake Nakuru
10-12 Masai Mara
back to Nairobi and fly back to U.S.

My humble opinion,

Kevin from California
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 11:15 PM
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P.S. booking with and staying at Serena lodges as much as is possible will give you the lowest prices (I believe). However, I believe better to use a tour operator for better variety.
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Old Apr 11th, 2007, 11:37 PM
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Hello,

First things first. If you come to Africa, you will come back again and again and again.

Personnally I think the best place to go with children is South Africa. I say this because everything is quite close to one another. This means that you won't have to drive or fly a lot. If you have to drive or fly, it should not be longer than 1 to 2 hours.

Secondly. South Africa has the Big 5. But not only this, you will be able to get up close and personal with the animals. This will intrigue your children and they'll will fall in love with this beautiful country.

Your best bet is a private game reserve. I hope you have heard of the Kruger National Park. If not, its a game reserve bigger than the Netherlands with a great diversity of animals and birds etc. On the Eastern edge of the Kruger Park is a smaller game reserve called Sabi Sands Reserve(no fence between Sabi sands and Kruger). It consists of +-34 privatly owned game lodges(no fences). This is where you will be treated to argueably the best big 5 sightings in Africa. One reserve stands head and shoulders above the rest: Mala Mala. www.malamala.com

It's about $500-$650 per person per night, which seems a high but is worth every penny.

Regards,

Jacques-Pierre Joubert
Hermanus
South Africa
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Old Apr 12th, 2007, 02:31 AM
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Howdy issy -

I remembered a similar thread from a few weeks ago - and Afrigalah posted a suggestion regrding an area or destination that was good for children (ie.. involves, educates, fun) I have searched out the thread topic and you might want to visit and read the various responses. keep a look out for Afrigalah's comment; here is the thread
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=4

and here is the link to the destination he mentioned
http://www.abercrombiekent.com/yexpl...obal/index.cfm

This is not a reccomendation! I have puppies not kids and would'nt have a clue about what young humans might enjoy - still... worth a look
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Old Apr 12th, 2007, 03:59 AM
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I travelled to South Africa last year (during Easter) with my parents, me and my wife, my brother and his wife and our children (aged 6,7,7,9,9,and 11). We visited Cape Town (4 days) and Sabi Sands (3 days). No doubt the children were not bored and I think it is the most memorable trip we have ever done. Do not doubt, South Africa combining Cape Town and any Sabi Sands lodge would be the trip of a lifetime for your group. By the way we stayed at Nottens Bush Camp in Sabi Sands and it is reasonably priced and game viewing is phenomenal.
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Old Apr 12th, 2007, 06:25 AM
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Boring? Safari life can be truly exhilarating for young and old alike with adventure and new experiences around every bush. It is important to make everyone as comfortable as possible. Pack the right clothes, sun protection, two hats (just in case one gets lost), and stuff to repel insects, proper medication just for them. Africa is a great leveler and a place which brings us all “down to earth,” a place where the greatest and smallest among us feel a sense of mystical divine. It is a place of awakening and education, of understanding and comprehending, of growing a little taller in ourselves. Here are some of my thoughts:

Children especially remember things much better if “doing” as well as seeing. Give them their own camera and binoculars. Show them the little things that are so fascinating – like dung beetle rolling dung to its nest. Activities could include a treasure hunt, Maasai jewelry, learning bush skills such as tracking, bow and fire making, or interaction with Maasai children. Everyone loves the excitement of a “celebration”…first Leopard spotting, etc.

Stress from too much activity is more likely to have an effect. Make an effort to give the younger children time for “themselves” each day. With such a large group you can easily make arrangements to stay in some mornings (or afternoons) for camp/lodge activity time (board games, playing cards, surprise paperback book, painting, drawing paper, swimming).

For teen-agers, free time to pursue their own interests and to give everyone a breather from the in-your-pocket living. Occasional dinners apart, separate safari vehicles, late nights around a campfire for stories or astronomy (with the professional guide, of course for their protection).

Children may be given a certain amount of independence on their safari, but their safety is ultimately the responsibility of the parents. Parents must tell them of dangers around them, but must balance “hypothetical dangers” vs situations that must absolutely be shared. You will apply a certain amount of logic to each situation.

With luggage restrictions, you might find it helpful to Federal Express some entertainment items in advance to hold for your arrival.
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Old Apr 12th, 2007, 04:15 PM
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stakerk- thanks for the link to the East Africa trip report thread.

We've got some homework to do, but I will come back with questions as they arise.

Thanks again everyone for providing me with some very good, concrete information to get started; as well as sharing your personal experiences. You've been a tremendous help.
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 10:57 AM
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After contacting a few agencies, my head is spinning.

I think we've decided on East Africa as opposed to South Africa. We can leave anytime between mid-June and mid-July, and have approx 2 weeks total travel time.

My dilemma right now is that I'm not sure if we should just do Tanzania OR Kenya, or if we should do some of both.

One travel agent recommends the entire time in Kenya (Tsavo West - Finch Hattons x 2, Samburu - Larsens Camp x 3, Masai Mara - Kichwa Tembo x 4). Any thoughts on this? Given the time of year, shoud we do the Serengeti (or other areas of Tanzania) instead of Masai Mara?
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 11:43 AM
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my mother took her first grandchild on safari when he was 8. Micato did a specific family safari at that time and it was geared towards the kids. he still talks about it 6 years later. Mom has now decided to take all of the grandchildren (ranging from 15 - 8) on safari next june. (luckily she is including her children as well) It was such a great experience with the first one that she thinks it is important for all the rest to have the experience. Go and enjoy. The kids will remember this for the rest of their lives and what a special memory to have with their grandparents!!
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Old Apr 24th, 2007, 11:49 AM
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my 8 year old nephew absolutely loved "chasing" the warthogs at kitchwa tembo.
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