The news from Etosha all relates to the first seasonal rainfall. The great pan itself remains bone dry but there are pools of standing water along the roads and in the bush. The distinctive pale clay of the pan is starting to turn into the celebratory body paint that many species like to welcome the coming rains with. Black rhino turn white, the huge Etosha elephant bulls get zebra stripes, tar black Land Rover tyres get white walled and there are some excellent photo opportunities to be had. It will be a while before the pale pans are ringed with a sea of fresh grass but the change is approaching. As the rains continue over the coming months the most obvious wildlife movements in the park will be herds of elephant who head north and the permanent waterholes are less critical for the local wildlife. Today though, muddy puddles aside, it is very much business as usual for Mushara’s guides.
Petrus reports that on one drive with his clients last week he found, ‘a black rhino looking very white just before Fort Namutoni…before that we quickly stopped at Klein Namutoni where there was a huge male lion relaxing (they went on to see another 3 lion and another black rhino), 80 elephant at Chudop waterhole, lots of male kudu, springbok, a leopard tortoise, black backed jackals, zebra, giraffe and Kori Bustard.’ Petrus also mentioned that over two days he has been seeing a cheetah and her four cubs. They watched a failed springbok hunt and the following day spotted her again minus two cubs. We are hoping to hear shortly that they were just keeping a low profile that day.
Mushara offers the perfect base for exploring Etosha either as a self driver or with their guides who were all born in the area. From the family friendly value of Bush Camp to the luxurious fully inclusive Outpost Marc and Mariza have created a fabulous Etosha solution.
Going on a family safari can and should be an amazing experience. It will hopefully go down as one of the best family holidays that you have been on. However, there are also a lot of things that could go wrong and mistakes that you should try and avoid so that your holiday does not end in a disaster or memory that you would rather forget.
The first thing is to make sure you book with an established tour operator and although it is tempting, going for the best ‘deal’ is not always the option. Be very careful who you trust to plan your holiday for you as this is vital to success. A good tour operator will know exactly where to place you, when to go and they will have been to the properties they are suggesting.
The enjoyment of your trip can often depend on the time of year. If it is important to you to have hours and hours of sunshine your tour operator will ensure that this is a facet of the itinerary. Seasons will have a strong influence on where you are travelling. As many parents will agree, a happy medium is usually best, standing in rain all day, being boiling hot or freezing cold is no fun for the individual traveller, let alone those with children in tow.
Of course, your choice of camp is also important, going to a child friendly camp or lodge is very important, guides will specifically be experience in catering for children, knowing how to interact with them so that they get the best out of their safari. Guides can help children learn about the world in a fun way. Additionally child friendly camps and lodges often have separate catering for children and babying sitting services, there are also plenty of ‘non-safari’ activities for them also, such as arts and crafts, baking and nature trails around camp, and often there is a camp swimming pool. Being realistic when selecting your camp is important although staying at a very remote small camp might sound adventurous, it is not for everyone and children might become bored if there are not facilities specifically for them. Obviously, everything depends on what your children and you as a family prefer, and a good tour operator will be advise you on a selection of properties.
Additionally with children it may be more acceptable for you as a family to choose a Malaria Free destination to save any concerns over taking anti-malarial tablets. A safari in South Africa might be the best option for young children as there are many attractions in Cape Town and the Garden Route and also a few Malaria Free Game Reserves in which to enjoy a few days on safari.
Once the skeleton of the itinerary is set, the next questions usually arise regarding what activities to do when, especially when visiting South Africa with its many attractions. Ultimately the best advice here, is to not rush into booking tours and trips, but rather than to reflect and research and to ask your operator for assistance. Opulent Africa are able to suggest all sorts of tours and activities that can either be booked prior to departure or one arrival through your hotel or lodge.