The Big Family Adventure: Exploring the Zambezi Wilderness
By Marita van Rooyen
Namibia is a country as diverse as the people that inhabit it. Boasting wide expanses of untouched – and well-protected – natural surroundings, it is the ideal backdrop for teaching children about its unique fauna and flora: a nature-based school ground for environmental education.
But exposing the brood to this extraordinary world is not always as simple as packing the car and making sure the kids are kept busy on the back seat as you traverse the country’s network of expansive roads. It can be hard to find establishments that cater to making the whole family feel at home.
Luckily family-friendly lodges and campsites do exist, and we kick-start the big adventure in a far off corner of our country, at a lush, riverside paradise on the border to Botswana: Camp Chobe.
Beauty Mbala Namangolwa is the friendly receptionist at Camp Chobe, who proudly explains that child-friendly activities include river cruises and canoe trips on the Chobe River, “to see animals migrate between Botswana and Namibia”; as well as walking trips to nearby villages, where the family can learn about the Masubia culture. As part of the village-visit, kids are shown how locals make a cattle whip out of palm leaves, which is similarly used to chase problem elephants away. “The rope makes a big noise, and the young ones love it!”
“This is the perfect place for kids to experience the diverse animal population of the Zambezi – hippos, crocodiles, buffalo, giraffe, impala, waterbuck, and of course everyone’s favourite, the mighty elephant. You can come with your children, and we will make sure they enjoy themselves. Even when they are grown up, they will remember the good time they had here.”
Other activities include catch-and-release fishing, bird watching – with more than 400 species, it can hardly get better than this – and game drives. There is also a swimming pool and a large lawn for getting rid of extra energy. And if all else fails, have the kids count fireflies, it’s a most magical site as they light up the darkness with their fiery little lights.
If the family is hungry for more adventure, make sure to pack the passports and hop across the border to visit either the Victoria Falls, or the world renowned Chobe Nature Reserve in Botswana, home to one of the largest concentrations of elephant on the African continent.
Accommodation is offered in luxury safari tents, or at the nearby campsite, which caters for ‘bush-adapted families’.
Note: Many of the camp activities are limited to the dry months between August and December, when the chances of finding creepy crawlies amongst the tall grass is limited, and hippos don’t come so close to the camp. It is recommended to plan your family visit around this time. Due to the wild nature of the camp and surroundings, it is also suggested that parents with kids younger than six enquire about safety aspects with the lodge before booking.
Camp Chobe is part of the Gondwana Collection and discounted rates apply for Gondwana cardholders. Children up to 5 years old stay free of charge, while children between the ages of 6 and 13 are charged at 50% of the B&B rate.