Child Friendly Sa­faris

Tourism Tattler - - HOSPITALITY - By Ver­non Wait.

Many par­ents dream of tak­ing their chil­dren on a once-in a-life­time sa­fari ad­ven­turen­ture hol­i­day, but most South African Big-5 game re­serves and lodges have a min­i­mum m age re­stric­tion rule for chil­dren. For­tu­nately there are ex­cep­tions to this and Lal­i­bela Pri­vate Game Re­serve in the malaria-free prov­ince of the East­ern

Cape is one such ex­cep­tion. Mark's Camp at Lal­i­bela wel­comes fam­i­lies and was specif­i­cally con­structed for fam­i­lies with young chil­dren un­der the age of 12 years. The other two lodges on the re­serve, namely Lentaba Lodge and Tree Tops (with a fourth lodge cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion) have been kept for guests who would pre­fer not to have the sound of young voices dis­turb the peace of the bush.

Child-friendly Game Drives

Chil­dren aged 8 years and over are welcome to join the adults on the adult game drive. Chil­dren aged be­tween 2 and 7 years en­joy their own game drives and that's where the fun be­gins for these Gen­er­a­tion-Z* 'Rain­bow Chil­dren' – af­ter all, what 2-year-old wants to sit still and keep quite while adults zoom their cam­eras at a slum­ber­ing pride of lion? The chil­dren's game drive has been spe­cially de­signed for young chil­dren, with their own game ranger, Chil­dren's Pro­gramme Co­or­di­na­tor, and game-view­ing ve­hi­cle. The game drives are shorter than those of the adults. Due to the un­pre­dictabil­ity of small chil­dren, care is also taken to avoid get­ting close to dan­ger­ous an­i­mals. Chil­dren may still see the Big-5 from a dis­tance but the pri­mary fo­cus of the chil­dren's game drive is on plains game (an­te­lope, giraffe and ze­bra), bird and in­sect species. It is a sen­sory sa­fari and ex­poses the chil­dren to the sights, smells, sounds, feel and taste of Africa. Child-friendly Ac­tiv­i­ties

In be­tween meals and game drives, chil­dren over 2 years of age are kept busy with a num­ber of fun and ed­u­ca­tional ac­tiv­i­ties, such as rhino T-shirt paint­ing, mak­ing African masks, paint­ing, mak­ing photo frames, mak­ing wind mo­biles, and a lot more. While the chil­dren's pro­gramme is run sep­a­rately to that of the adults, par­ents and older sib­lings can join in on the chil­dren's ac­tiv­i­ties, al­though the par­ents would most likely want to en­joy the peace and tranquillity of the lodge and sun­bathe on loungers be­side one of the two swim­ming pools while their chil­dren are be­ing en­ter­tained. Ex­pe­ri­enced child min­ders and nan­nies are avail­able to take care of chil­dren un­der 2 while adults are on game drive, as tod­dlers aren't al­lowed on any of the game drives.

Child-friendly Fam­ily Ac­com­mo­da­tion

Mark's Camp has sev­eral stone and thatch fam­ily chalets (ideally suited to fam­i­lies with chil­dren aged 2 to 11 years), which have a large bed­room with two sin­gle chil­dren's beds sep­a­rated from the par­ents' lux­ury king-size bed by a par­ti­tion, a bath­room with bath and shower, and sep­a­rate toi­let. There is also a fam­ily suite, which has 2 en-suite bed­rooms and a lounge with 2 day beds. All fam­ily chalets and the fam­ily suite have pri­vate out­door decks with se­cure balustrades over­look­ing the ver­dant bush and birdlife, and are equipped with tea/cof­fee sta­tions, and a desk and chair. Com­pli­men­tary guest bath­room ameni­ties are also pro­vided in each chalet, as are light snacks. Meals are served for the adults at ei­ther the lodge din­ing room or around the open-air boma. Chil­dren un­der 8 have spe­cial meal times (ear­lier than the adults meal times), with food more suited to young palates. Mark's Camp is the only lodge to be fenced to keep preda­tors at bay – wildlife at Lal­i­bela is free to roam through­out the re­serve.

Child-friendly Fam­ily Rates

Chil­dren un­der the age of 12 pay 50% of the adult rate. This rate in­cludes ac­com­mo­da­tion, all meals, game drives as ap­pli­ca­ble, chil­dren's ac­tiv­i­ties as de­scribed and any child-mind­ing or baby-sit­ting dur­ing the above times. For book­ings visit www.lal­i­

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