Ker & Downey President David Marek reflects on the first family safari his family took to Botswana over twenty years ago.

A great friend of mine is taking a family safari in Africa this summer. Murray and his wife Charlyn have been on several safaris, but none with their children. Their daughters are ages 13 and 15. As their departure date draws near I reflect on the first trip to Africa with my wife and daughters who were both 9 years old at the time.

Botswana Family Safari - Ker Downey

I remember the anticipation we all had; the buildup of the trip, the arrival into Maun and the subsequent drive to our camp in the Okavango Delta. Murray and his family will not be driving to camp, but will be doing the “normal” thing these days which is taking a small plane directly into their first camp. I’d love to see the girls’ faces pressed against the window of the airplane as they search the life-giving waters of the Okavango for wildlife.

Twenty-one years ago there were not a lot of options as far as photo safari camps to choose, but we were able to book into one during the off season and had the little tented gem to ourselves. The camp staff were fantastic with our daughters, teaching them 20-something ways to fold a serviette into the shape of an animal. They had a great first experience in the bush. I hope Murray’s daughters get to experience the camp staff as our children did. One of the great benefits of overseas travel is that it breaks down barriers and kills any misinformation that exists.

There was this gem of a waterhole just in front of our camp; not 30 yards away, that brought in the most amazing bird and animal life. We were able to sit and admire nature unfold in front of us…doves and sand grouse coming into the late afternoon water, Guinea fowl making their daily noisy walk to the water’s edge, and who can forget the red-billed francolin waking us up at the crack of dawn every morning. But we saw groups of kudu come to water as well as waterbuck, impala, and the occasional bushbuck. I hope Murray and his family take time to sit, relax, watch and observe.

Safari is not just about going from animal to animal and ticking them off. It’s also about the smells, the sounds, and the fresh coffee in the morning, the coolness of an early dawn, and the beauty of an African sunset. It’s about making new friends with fellow travelers as well as connecting with the local people and discovering how their lives intertwine with ours.

Children should go on safari. Mine have been back many times since that first trip. Each trip is always an adventure, always a new friend is made, and always…one comes away a better person for the awareness we receive as a creature on God’s green planet.

I look forward to taking my grandchildren on safari. I want to experience Africa as a child and the best way I can do that is through them and with them.

A Botswana Family Safari

In a time when you rarely find children and teens without electronic devices, it’s nice to get away as a family and reconnect with each other. There’s no better place to do that than in Botswana where the waterholes and active and lively with wildlife coming for a drink. Ker & Downey also has access to some of the best child-friendly guides in the country, so you can be sure they’ll stay engaged and not feel the desire to check out on a device –  unless it’s to snap some incredible photographs on your family safari.

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