Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Family Travel in Namibia

Namibia is an awesome family safari destination! At Ultimate Safaris, we don't look at family safaris as a lesser form of safari, or ‘watered down’ in any way. Our family safaris offer the same amazing Namibian destinations, top guides and excellent experiences but with the high degree of flexibility that families need.

Those families who choose to book a family safari in Namibia always have their own private vehicle with their own guide who will look after them from the moment they land in Namibia to the moment they leave. The guide will accompany them throughout their stay, moving with them through every camp/lodge/hotel. Caring for the children is a full time job and continues beyond the exciting game drive, but also back in camp, thereby allowing the parents some well-earned rest!

The programs vary for each family and are based on the ages, sexes and interests of the children. Our guides’ aim is to not only keep them entertained but ensure that they learn a great deal under their expert guidance. Generally, activities include mammal, bird and plant identification, identifying night sounds and tracking some of the smaller creatures such as lizards and beetles.

Below are just a few of our favorite family-friendly safari destinations in Namibia:
  1. Sossusvlei: Playing in what must be the world’s largest sand box! And kids are free to climb and roam, without restriction as there is nothing that can eat you here! After climbing up and down the amazing sand dunes, parents will appreciate the afternoon break at the lodge as the exhausted kids nap!
  2. Swakopmund is an epic family destination – whether you are 6 or 16, it’s awesome for all! There's sandboarding for all kids, kayaking in Walvis Bay for teens and the dolphin/seal catamaran cruise where the grownups can enjoy fresh oysters and champagne while the kids prepare yummy sandwiches and watch finding Nemo in the movie room! There's also the Living Desert Tour featuring the creepy crawlies that kids love - spiders, snakes, geckos, lizards, skinks and some weird chameleons! Top this off with a Namibian BBQ/Braai followed by a night walk in the Swakop river looking for “glow in the dark creepy crawlies” like scorpions! 
  3. Damaraland: Play a game of soccer with the local kids in the Ovahimba village and visit Grootberg School (pending school holiday season).
For family safaris we also choose to stay in camps/lodges/hotels where staff are accustomed to children and also involve the children in duties and they are often found preparing snacks in the kitchen with the chefs! In essence, the children are either busy or asleep and always happy – busy children ultimately mean a relaxing holiday for their parents!

Our favorite family-friendly Namibia accommodations, most of which offer discounted rates for kids depending on age:
Bush walk on the Mushara Reserve
  1. Mushara Bush Camp, Etosha NP – One of the most family-friendly camps in Namibia. This is the only camp with its own playground which sports a jungle gym, old tractor, sandpit as well as a kiddie’s pool! And they have a very cool curio shop, just for kids (no bland khaki shirts here, actual African toys and fun stuff for kids). Meal times and menus are arranged according to children’s needs and every endeavor is made to accommodate children. 
  2. Damaraland Camp has a spacious family room which sleeps four in two separate but connected rooms and the staff love having kids around (minimum age of 6). Great cultural activities with the local communities. They also have a pool. 
  3. Doro Nawas, Damaraland has one family unit, consisting of two connected chalets each with its own en suite bathroom, and sharing one verandah. They welcome kids of all ages. It is located a very short 5 minute drive from the airstrip, making it a convenient option for families. 
  4. Andersson’s Camp – Amazing underground hide where you may have a warthog sniff you right in the face! The lodge is fenced and they have a great pool. Only downside is the lack of proper family units. They do have two tents which are joined by a 20m boardwalk, so best for older kids. 
  5. Naankuse – Just twenty minutes from Windhoek International Airport, a great way for families to start or end their Namibia adventures. They offers several 2, 3 and 4 bedroom villas, perfect for families. Kids love the orphaned animals sanctuary, where they can view lions, leopards, cheetahs, African wild dogs, caracals, and chacma baboons among others. 
  6. Okonjima’s Villas  – a great exclusive use option for families, though there is still the 12+ restriction on certain activities such as cheetah tracking.
Author Birgit Bekker is the Sales and Marketing Director for Ultimate Safaris in Namibia. 

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