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Safari Stories

Personal Guest diaries from Guided Safaris® handcrafted journeys throughout Africa.
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Family Safari with young kids

Family Safari with young kids

Safari Journal and Photography by Mrs. Miller. Presented by Guided Safaris®

Grandparents Mr. & Mrs. DuBusc planned their very first safari to Africa with their children Rob and Lisa Miller – and of course, the very excited grandchildren: Emily, Jeffrey and Audrey. Guided Safaris® tailored a 4 night stay at the wild and authentic Singita Lebombo Concession in Northern Kruger, bordering the rugged Mozambique mountain range for an action packed adventure with game drives, archery sessions (non-game based, of course!) and a lesson in the Circles of Life in the great African wilderness.

Dubusc-Miller family from New York,
All pictured here together on safari with Guide Jani & Tracker Daniel.

 

What We Loved…

“For those who are contemplating pulling the kids out of school for travel abroad…
 
Carry-on bags were crammed with textbooks and laptops. And the “I’m gonna fail all my classes” theme song was sung. Parental retort was “this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip kids, it’s gonna be great” But yes, unspoken worries of “are we totally insane to pull them out of school like this?” did dance like sugarplums in our heads…
 
We arrived pleasantly disoriented. Our safari lodge was an oasis in the middle of the brutal African bush, just near the Mozambique border. There we were being treated like royalty with amazing food, wine, and comforts from home… We saw so many animals on our Game Drives that I began to hallucinate them. We loved the plethora of impala which our guide Jani told us are nicknamed “Bush burgers” because they are the fast food of the bush. We felt towards the end that they were like pets, leaping around us.
 

The whole experience of being out on Game Drives in the bush is really so very Lion King. In fact, all the animals of the African bush are the real majesty. Yes, we were getting the royal treatment in our comfy secluded lodge, but the true royalty are out there in the bush, fighting for survival in their natural habitat. Life lesson #1 kids: As Darwin put it: “it’s Survival of the fittest”. The good genes go on. They are the real deal. They ARE the kings and queens. We were mere subjects grateful to share their space for a while.

 
And share we did: 3 generations of our family, in awe of the majesty. And best of all we had the best Tracker (Daniel) and best guide (Jani) in all of South Africa. As our ‘teachers’, they kept the lesson plans flowing and kept us on the edge of our seats each day we went out into the bush. They were our temporary ambassadors of South Africa, link to our new surroundings and our personal connection. That feeling is what lingers, lasts and matters. The connectedness is what we bring home with us (along with a rock from the bottom of Africa and about 3000 photos)…
 
They made us feel connected and informed while they shared their love and enthusiasm with us. They brought South Africa to life.
 
Jani imparted her wisdom and excitement, speaking Afrikaans and Shangaan and telling us tales of growing up in South Africa. She taught the kids Afrikaans sayings and handshakes and joined us for dinners and bonded with the kids over memories… Her love of the outdoors and for the animals was contagious. Definitely a free spirit, but also a walking encyclopedia of wildlife knowledge, she had all of us transfixed and wanting to learn – we were ALL students of hers, willing and eager to learn together in this open-air classroom.
 

What family bonding to experience this big learning curve together. How lovely to all be Freshman again, in spite of an age range of 11-72.
Travel tends to do that–to level the playing field and make us more open to adventure and exhilaration. What an amazing gift to share this with my husband, my parents and my kids.

 
So, yes our kids were missing school, but they were learning about the world in meaningful ways that will never be replicated. Those pre-trip ‘sugarplum fears’ nearly evaporated by now…
 
The Life lessons learned were worth way more than a few missed math classes. So our 6th grader was struggling and fretting over her Greatest Common Factor homework on safari day#2….saying “if I was in school right now I’d know how to do this.” But then on day #3 she witnessed the REAL greatest common factor as we drove across a river bed in our off-road safari vehicle to watch the Circle of Life unfold before us: vultures were tearing into the carcass of an impala. A young male lion then came upon the scene, only to have a full knock down drag out fight with another young male over a bone. The fight was mesmerizing for us all as we sat just a few feet away. The wind picked up suddenly and the lion got a whiff of the carcass and quickly ran over to attack it. Jani said “kids you are watching real wildlife in action”. This impala was now nourishment for so many. Not a bit was going to waste thanks to the lions, the vultures and the bone eating hyenas who would come by later on. Oh dear… So kids, Life Lesson #2 is: Nothing is wasted in the wild.
 
Tracker Daniel’s piercing perception astounded us. He learned all his animal tracking skills from his grandfather who was a hunter with a bow and arrow. And as he sat in the jump seat on the hood of the truck, he appeared to hover in front of us as he spied tracks and led us fearlessly to find the lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards, cheetahs, hippos and even baby hyenas! He also had the sweetest disposition – so grateful and genuine. We knew we were in good hands.
 
The kids definitely grew up on this trip (and as Emily pointed out, never slept in once). They were more aware, informed and way less fearful of the animals and of Africa in general. I could actually feel all our horizons widening.
 
Yes, it was a crazy decision to take the kids out of school to go to Africa, but sometimes the craziest decisions turn out to be the best ones—the ones you don’t regret and can’t believe you ever questioned at all.”
 

Where We Stayed…

Singita Lebombo
Singita Lebombo Concession
Singita Lebombo Lodge
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