An African Adventure

The trifecta of travel to Africa—adventure, wildlife and culture—has hit new heights with products aimed at families. Even tried-and-true pros such as Collette Vacations are going after this market with specifically designed products, rather than one-size-fits-all trips.

In the case of Collette Vacations, its Family Vacations brand, less than a year old, has dipped into multigenerational travel with hotels and activities that really are family-friendly and child rates of up to 50 percent lower than adult pricing. With the 10-day Kenya Family Safari, travelers spend a couple of nights in Nairobi before heading into the wild, reveling in the wildlife and culture around Aberdare National Forest, the Kigio Wildlife Conservancy and the Masai Mara. They’ll get an eyeful of hippos, flamingos, zebras and quite a few others, given that Kenya is home to 11 percent of the world’s animal species. They might also be able to scratch off all Big Five animals from their bucket list.

“Our Kenya Family Safari is designed to bring the magic of Africa to life for the entire family,” says Allison Villasenor, senior project manager for Collette Family Vacations. “Families will roam the African plains on numerous game drives, searching for mighty lions, wandering elephants, towering giraffes and so much more. Culturally, they will fall in love with Kenya as they visit a local school supported by the Collette Foundation, a traditional Maasai village and local artisan center. Excellent guide service and top quality lodge accommodations allow for stress-free travel and a once-in-a-lifetime family adventure.”

The package starts at $3,269 per adult and $1,734 per child.

southern escapes Terry von Guilleaume, president of SAA Vacations, explains that family options are very popular, “…as many of the properties/lodges used in all of the vacation packages afford under-18 child discounts. We have also been careful to try and include activities that appeal to both children and adults.”

One of the biggest standouts for families is a collection of safaris that bear the name of one of the world’s most famous animal experts. “Jack Hanna, SAA and The Mantis Collection had looked at creating a relationship together, purely out of Jack’s love for Southern Africa…. SAA Vacations jumped at the opportunity and launched these exclusive safaris early in the year,” explains von Guilleaume. “Being in malaria-free game reserves, they have naturally been appealing to families with younger children, especially families who wish to take their children on a more exclusive game and bush experience, as the safaris themselves allow for tracking, an activity rarely offered to the public.”

The Jack Hanna Shamwari Safari to South Africa lets clients choose between five lodges in the private Shamwari Game Reserve for a 3-night stay. Here they can participate in wildlife presentations and the Ranger Training Program, go on photo and night safaris, have a bush dinner under the stars and view white rhino, cheetah and more. It starts at $2,699 pp for adults and $1,799 pp for children, domestic and international flights from JFK or IAD also included.

With the “highly inclusive” Ultimate Family Safari to South Africa, families enjoy a 2-night stay in Sun City’s grand Palace of the Lost City, which has its own water park. They can go wake boarding, jet skiing, take a cruise in a private lake, play around on bumper boats and more. They’ll also spend two nights at Jaci’s Safari Lodge in the Madikwe Game Reserve, where adults go on a game drive while those 4 and under get their own kid-friendly jungle drives. Then it’s off to Cape Town for three nights at Table Bay Hotel in the convenient Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. They can take a boat ride to Robben Island or a cable car to Table Mountain on their day at leisure after a full day of exploring the Cape Peninsula and Cape Point, spotting penguins at Boulders Beach and visiting the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Rates for October are $5,699 pp dbl for adults and $1,499 pp dbl for kids 12 and under; May 2012 rates drop down to $4,999 pp dbl for adults. The rates include international flights from JFK or IAD as well as domestic flights.

South Africa, says South African Tourism President Sthu Zungu, is an ideal family destination, combining both educational enlightenment and discovery for parents and children alike. “Museums are filled with culturally rich stories and ancient fossils that date back to the dawn of mankind, while safaris offer an intimate look at wildlife in its natural habitat,” she explains. “It’s a place where learning occurs through experience and travelers return home with an expanded outlook on the world.”