Family Fun in the Wild

Wild Zambezi travel network partners • 11 July 2021

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In the age of the internet and the smartphone, when people's lives (including those of children) are dominated by a screen and a virtual reality, getting out into the wild and making contact with the real world of Nature is becoming more important than ever in order to maintain some meaningful perspective on life.  

A family safari (or even just a weekend trip to somewhere out of town) is a wonderful thing.  It provides the opportunity to connect closely with family members, to unwind, to relax and to feel in touch with a more fundamental reality.  We need to do it MUCH more often.  

For this Feature Blog, Wild Zambezi asked its travel partners to tell us about all the wonderful things in store for families visiting camps, lodges and resorts in the Zambezi’s wild places – from Victoria Falls, through Lake Kariba, to Chirundu, Mana Pools and beyond.  We asked them to share their creative ideas, activities and  fun projects specially designed to keep children occupied, interested and happy while out with their families in the bush or on the lake.  

Here's what they came up with:-

INDEX (click to link, or scroll down)

1. Africa Albida Tourism  (Victoria Falls)
2. African Bush Camps  (Lake Kariba & Mana Pools)
3. Off 2 Africa  (Family fun in Victoria Falls, Mana Pools & Lake Kariba)
4. Ra-Ikane River Cruises  (Zambezi River, Victoria Falls)
5. Safaris 4 Africa  (Family fun in Mana Pools)
6. Simwenge Fishing Lodge  (Zambezi River, near Deka)
7. Spurwing Island (Lake Kariba)
8. Tiger Safaris - (Zambezi River, Chirundu)
9. Travel Portfolio (Family adventures countrywide)
10. Victoria Falls River Lodge (Zambezi NP, Victoria Falls)
11. Wilderness Safaris (Ruckomechi & Chiwenya Camps, Mana Pools)
12. Zambezi Cruise & Safaris (Lake Kariba & Mana Pools)

 

1. Africa Albida Tourism (Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Lokuthula Lodges, The Boma Dinner & Drum Show)  Family Fun in Victoria Falls 

There is no shortage of activities for kids to do in Victoria Falls, starting with a tour of the Falls themselves where, as well as enjoying its unparalleled beauty, they get to skip through a rainforest, get soaked to the skin, and spot monkeys, baboons and bushbuck! Then there is the Vulture Culture Experience, a supplementary feeding program at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, where hundreds of these remarkable, but endangered birds swoop down spectacularly to feed on meat scraps daily, while the audience is also educated on their plight. The Boma - Dinner & Drum Show, the only restaurant-based interactive drumming show in Zimbabwe, offers kids and adults alike an evening of endless entertainment. This “feast of fun” also features a four-course African themed dinner where there are so many new and exciting dishes to try. The nearby Lokuthula Lodges are great for families, and facilities include a swimming pool (with a paddling pool) and playground, with warthog frequently seen nibbling the lush grass. Other unmissable child-friendly activities in Victoria Falls include ziplining through the Batoka Gorge on the canopy tour and a visit to the crocodile farm where highlights include holding a baby croc, as well as seeing snakes and lion.

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2. African Bush CampsCrayons, Crafts and Ngwana Kids Club

From Big Five spotting, nature walks, cultural excursions to sunset boat cruises, there is something for everyone on an African Bush Camps Family Safari. 

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge’s family-equipped, Baobab Villa is the perfect safari pit-stop, where authentic safaris meet laid-back luxury. Here you can reconnect and recharge with endless views of Lake Kariba. Or escape to our family-suite at Nyamatusi Mahogany alongside the Zambezi River in Mana Pools.

Our camps boast family-oriented tents with interleading walkways and connecting bedrooms, creating an ‘under-one-roof feeling’ ideal for the whole family. 

A day in the life of a family on safari is fluid, exciting, varied and full of special moments that will live on in family history. Our child specialist guides tailor their safaris to families, taking into consideration the children’s ages, promoting a philosophy that embraces families in the wild. Children are welcomed into camp with a special Cub Club starter kit. This includes a book bag, a colouring book featuring the animals they are likely to see on safari and colouring pencils.  The range of education filled kids itineraries delight every generation, incorporating tailor-made activities for children of all ages, including: Bush Walks; Cub Club Cooking Classes; Story Telling; Arts & Crafts - Beading and Bracelet-making and Fireside Story-telling after Dark. 

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3. Off 2 Africa (Destination Management Company based in Harare and Victoria Falls)

2021 continues in the same somewhat unpredictable manner that we have grown used to, with not only the ever-changing regulations but also school terms and holidays!  So, we wanted to share a few of the beautiful places that not only take families of all ages but in fact celebrate them! 

Take a look at a few of Off2Africa's top spots for family quality time:-
In Victoria Falls, the luxurious Victoria Falls River Lodge  Set on the banks of the Zambezi River above the Falls this family friendly lodge will adapt each of their activities to you from game drives and boat cruises to the famous Bush Wackers walks around the camp. Led by their experienced guides they will discover innumerable natural wonders. 

Mana Pools is home to Nyamatusi Mahogany
where the staff go out of their way to make sure your stay is filled with family fun. How about a game of beach soccer or volleyball set on the soft sand bank? Or see who can catch the littlest fish with a spot of catch and release fishing? 

Finally on Lake Kariba, the phenomenal Changa Safari Camp where after a day spent enjoying the infinity pool or an exciting boat cruise, Mum and Dad can treat themselves to a spa treatment while the little ones are in the capable hands of the camp child minder. 

For other ongoing special offers, contact us at Off2Africa for details! 

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4. Ra-Ikane River Cruises - Zambezi River, Victoria Falls

As Africa’s Adventure capital, Victoria Falls is well-known for its variety of activities that are fun for the whole family - be it on land, sky or water. One of the best ways to soak in the wild surroundings of this vibrant destination is on Ra-Ikane River Cruise along the Zambezi River.

Perfect for all ages and stages of life, the Ra-Ikane fleet offers a variety of luxury cruises, including breakfast, lunch, birdwatching and sunset cruises. Each boat is guided by an experienced and knowledgeable boat captain, fully trained with onboard safety and equipped with extensive knowledge of the mighty river and the wildlife and birdlife that can be seen during this two-hour cruise. 

Children can expect to spot elephants grazing along the river’s edge, hippos wallowing in the shallow waters, crocodiles gliding with the flow of the current and a range of exotic birdlife – so don’t forget to pack some binoculars!

The monohull design of the river boats enables them to navigate further up the Zambezi River, through shallow river channels and closer to the wildlife on the riverbanks, while maintaining a safe vantage point on the calm waters of the river. 

Guests of the Palm River Hotel and Ilala Lodge Hotel receive discounted rates on all Ra-Ikane breakfast cruises. Visit the Ra-Ikane website for more details.

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5. Safaris 4 Africa (Destination Management Company based in Harare)

Nyamatusi Mahogany in Mana Pools is a camp that we highly recommend for families.  This camp has a philosophy of embracing families into the wild - younger children are welcomed with their special Ngwana Club starter kit.  They have specialist children’s guides who include nature walks close to camp, traditional storytelling, cooking classes, arts and craft beading.  The range of activities allows for great flexibility for the perfect family safari. 

The lodge comprises two standard suites and two family suites. The family suites are the closet to the main area so giving added peace of mind.  They rest beneath ancient mahogany trees on the lush shores of the mighty Zambezi River and consist of two en-suite tents linked by a short corridor.   

Children of all ages are welcome at this wonderful camp in Mana Pools. At Safaris 4 Africa we can help you create those special family memories by arranging a safari for the whole family.

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6. Simwenge Fishing Lodge (Zambezi River, Deka (between Victoria Falls & Lake Karibia)   

From fishing off the boat or at the lodge, Simwenge offers a fun environment for any family wanting a
unique getaway. If you don't feel up to a full day's fishing, we can organise a relaxing beach lunch
upstream, walks through the bush, swimming in rock pools or having a bit of fun in the local hot
springs!

or.. Fancy a chilled day at camp? Our stunning infinity pool and bird life will keep you occupied!

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7. Spurwing Island - (Lake Kariba)   Bush Therapy- Family fun filled adventures in the Wild

The positive power of nature on the human psyche is unattested. So take the plunge into the wild, get your kids outside for outdoor adventures and let them connect with nature.

Spurwing Island on Lake Kariba gives kids a safe space to discover who they are and provides them with the opportunity to experience and spend time in the outdoors, whether it be fishing or watching and learning about wildlife from one of knowledgeable guides. At Spurwing, we create treasured memories for children of all ages!

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8. Tiger Safaris - (Zambezi River, Chirundu)

A few years ago we at Tiger Safaris made the decision to upgrade our camp at Chirundu from a `mens` fishing camp to a family `friendly` camp.  We started by renovating all our chalets to make them more comfortable. Two of them now have air conditioning which is popular with mums with toddlers..

Since then we have built a playground near the pool and secured our fish pond. The little ones now have great fun feeding and catching nice size bream and barbel without the worry of them being harassed by jumbo, crocs and monkeys.

Big open lawns are well used for ball games while the jetty is a popular spot for catching all species of fish.
Very popular with families is spending hot afternoons picnicking in the shallows of a sand bank ... kids playing in the sand or parents having a game of boules. Gazebos are available for use on the sandbanks.

By popular request we have constructed accommodation for clients' child minders... giving parents the opportunity to relax.

Tiger Safaris always looks forward to school breaks to hear kids laughter and see the excitment of them catching a fish or just seeing the animals in the camp.

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9. Travel Portfolio (Family adventures countrywide)

The best way that we at Travel Portfolio can think of to highlight what we can offer for family fun in the wild, is to share these words from the Barclay family from USA who recently spent two weeks on safari in Zimbabwe:-

"Every member of the family had their preference for the safari experiences - but one element that was consistently expressed on the safari around Zimbabwe was that NOTHING IS EVER TOO MUCH FOR THE FABULOUS ZIMBABWEAN PEOPLE.  

They are incredible the way they will always endeavour to go the extra mile and never say no to any request – even difficult requests they will try their best to fulfil.  Very few people anywhere in the world have this attitude to hospitality and endeavouring to ensure that clients have memories for a lifetime.

In addition to a fantastic few days at Chilo Gorge in the south of Zimbabwe, we also visited Kanga Camp and Nyamatusi Camp in Mana Pools. Both were fabulous – leopards were spotted at Kanga Pan which was a highlight!  The panoramic vista of the flood plains from Nyamatusi was fabulous as well as the rooms and the staff!  Seeing the large pride of lion twice during the stay was a highlight.   The canoeing experience was fabulous – besides seeing hippo and watching elephants swimming across to the island, the fishing was fun too! 

Going out one day and leaving the youngest family member in camp turned out to be no problem for the staff and a fabulous experience for him, doing all sorts of fun things with them, including watching a Mana bull elephant standing on his back legs eating!  The rest of us didn't see this. Game viewing was great, as was the cuisine, guiding and hosting…..

Every element was perfect from the start getting through the queues onto the charter – right through to the end . . .   We are now back and still reeling from a magical trip.  Thank you Hayley and Travel Portfolio for everything”

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10. Victoria Falls River Lodge (Zambezi NP, Victoria Falls)

At Victoria Falls River Lodge, guests travelling as a family can enjoy an adjoining tented room with either one single (3/4 sized) bed and one bunk bed, or twin 3/4 sized beds - where up to three sharing children younger than 17 years old can sleep comfortably. This allows parents a bit more privacy whilst still keeping their children close at hand.

We have an extensive children’s programme that will keep the entire family entertained.  This is all included in the accommodation rate.   

JUNIOR DISCOVERER’S DRIVE: for children aged 4-7 years accompanied by at least 1 parent. Includes snacks & soft beverages. Subject to vehicle capacity and conducted outside of standard game drive times (unless using a sole-use game viewer).  
 
YOUNG BUSHWACKERS:  Children aged 4-11 years can take a walk on the “wild side” with a qualified guide and discover innumerable natural wonders within the camp surrounds and river banks immediately in front of the lodge. Older siblings and parents are welcome too.
 
FABLES BY FIRELIGHT: End off a day of epic adventuring with traditional tales from Africa whilst toasting tasty treats over the bonfire (weather permitting).
 
VARIOUS BOOKS & GAMES: For indoor entertainment.

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11. Wilderness Safaris (Ruckomechi & Chiwenya Camps, Mana Pools)

Wilderness Safaris offers a complimentary Bush Buddy service at all its family-friendly camps, including Chikwenya and Ruckomechi in Mana Pools. The service pairs children with a dedicated and highly-trained mentor for the duration of their stay, offering an experiential and life-changing journey that aims to inspire them to love and conserve Africa’s pristine natural heritage.

After meeting the family when they arrive in camp, the Bush Buddy will discuss the wide range of entertaining and educational activities available, tailor-making each experience to suit the children’s ages and individual interests.

Daytime activities may include nature walks, where the Bush Buddy will explain the minutiae of the natural world often missed during game drives, tracking lessons, bird- and animal-call identification, treasure hunts, creating natural sculptures out of collected materials, painting with natural dyes, and jewellery making. In the evenings, children are introduced to frogging, star-gazing and storytelling. All activities are supervised by the Bush Buddy, to ensure that children get the most out of their Wilderness journey – learning about wildlife and the natural environment while still having fun.

Whatever the age and personal tastes of the children, the kaleidoscopic spectrum of activities on offer, as well as Wilderness Safaris’ well-trained staff and family-friendly accommodation, is guaranteed to ensure that a family safari is enjoyed by all. 

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12. Zambezi Cruise & Safaris (Lake Kariba & Mana Pools)

We can think of many reasons why you should travel the to the Zambezi with your children.

The Zambezi is what it should be – wild!  A great place to give your kids a real experience of how nature and man combine.  People have been living and working along the Zambezi for thousands of years. And, we are proud to say that a sizeable percentage of the children raised in the Zambezi area continue to join the conservation and hospitality industry.

But the Zambezi River and its magical wilderness, wildlife and cultural heritage can spark more than that.  It can inspire real wonder and excitement in young minds. From the UNESCO world heritage site of Mana Pools to the monumental Kariba Dam through the culturally rich shores at Binga, to the roaring Victoria Falls; Zambezi Cruise and Safaris’ expert guides will let your kids ‘catch’ the love of the wild, while you get to catch a breath, catch a fish or probably just catch a gin and tonic at sundown, another true Zambezi pleasure. 

We need more young people to join the noble cause of protecting our natural spaces and their wild inhabitants.  When they travel with Zambezi Cruise & Safaris, we hope to inspire them. 

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