013: Luxury Family Travel In Africa with Kirsty Perring of Traversing Africa
Is luxury family travel just a fantasy? Is Africa safe for families? In this episode, I speak to Kirsty Perring from Traversing Africa about luxury family travel in Africa and the middle east. She shares what to look for in a safari, safety considerations, and her favorite countries to visit in Africa!
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Who is Kirsty with Traversing Africa?
Kirsty was born in the UK, grew up in South Africa, and now lives in Canada. She spent her life traveling the globe both for work and pleasure. At the tender age of 22 on the island of Mauritius, She married her amazing husband Darren. And 2 years ago they celebrated their 20th anniversary with a vow renewal where it all began.
She has one son, Travis, who is 7 going on 27 and she loves exploring the world through his eyes. She is also mom to two adorable Yorkshire terriers and the only downside of traveling internationally is that she can’t take them with her.
After working in the travel industry for over 20 years, she recently founded her own company- Traversing Africa. Which specializes in but is not limited to, luxury travel to Africa and beyond.
When she’s not planning African adventures she spends her time as a Sunday School coordinator at her church teaching 3-6-year-olds. She is also the ambassador for the Boss Moms meet-up group in Toronto where a community of like-minded mompreneurs get together to help each other make decisions about business and family life.
Kirsty is passionate about Africa, travelings, wildlife, children, and running and has managed to successfully combine all of these elements into her career so that it’s more than a job, but something she loves waking up to every day.
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In This Episode with Kirsty Perring of Traversing Africa we cover Luxury Family Travel in Africa:
Why Africa and the Middle East? Aren’t They Unsafe?
Kirsty shares her passion for Africa and the Middle East and why you need to travel there with kids despite the bad press these areas get in the news. She doesn’t deny that there are some less safe places, but the truth is any place can be dangerous these days from bombings to acid attacks to shootings, if you look you’ll find it’s happened pretty much everywhere. All you can do is plan well, research the area, set up precautions, and then just enjoy your trip.
There are so many reasons to “take the risk” though. From cultures you only would experience through books and documentaries, to amazing food, and of course, the wildlife. Seeing these animals in a rescue zoo or even on a reserve like Lion Country Safari in Florida isn’t even going to come close to the experience you would have in their home habitat and in the wild.
Age Restrictions on Safaris:
Her son has been on game drives since he was two, but she recommends waiting until your child is about 5 for this experience. Often lodges will have their own age restrictions. Some will restrict the ages that can stay at the lodge period, but others only restrict for the type of safari activity you want to participate in. The typical age restrictions are 5 for a game drive and 16 for a walking safari. This isn’t ageist, just rules set in place to protect everyone involved. The lodges take great care in not only giving you an amazing experience but in keeping you safe.
Her Top Two Family-Friendly Places in Africa to Visit:
While she may be a bit biased as a South African, South Africa has a lot to offer families. If you’re wanting a trip to be about more than just the wildlife than South Africa has a lot to offer. From varying cultures, cosmopolitan cities, breathtaking views, boat tours, heritage sites, and lots of child-friendly activities, South Africa has it covered.
At the time of writing this, the Rand has a great exchange rate making it more budget friendly. Paired with their combination of fabulous accommodations you can have a budget-friendly luxury family travel experience. So visiting Africa may not be as expensive as you think!
If wildlife is your main goal and you want to visit a place you know is mindful of conservation, then Botswana is your place. The government and the people are investing a lot of money into the protection of their wildlife and reserves. Eco-tourism is their goal. And there is a great variety to choose from. With the delta as the main feature of this country, it gives you a completely different type of safari experience. Much of which is in the water. However, water safaris aren’t your only option in this beautiful country, Kirsty says each reserve is unique and you could make a tour of the different lodges and experiences something new with each one. So Botswana tops the list of best countries in Africa to travel with kids!
What’s the Ideal Amount of Time to Visit South Africa and Botswana?
With so much to see and do in these two countries, how long do you need to reserve in order to make this trip worth it for your family? Of course, this is going to be slightly different for each family, but she says two weeks is about the ideal time to spend in order to get to experience all these two countries have to offer.
When is the Best Time for Luxury Family Travel in Africa?
While it does vary from region to region, and you can go at different times of the year for different types of experiences her recommendations are to go during the spring and fall times (keeping in mind Northern hemisphere spring is their fall and vice versa). She says the temperatures are milder and it makes the overall experience more enjoyable. However, this is what you can expect from the other seasons (Southern Hemisphere):
- Winter (Nov-March)- Also known as the ‘Green Season’, is the cheaper time to go. Rainy, but a great time for game drives because the grasses are shorter so visibility of the animals is better. They also are gathering at the watering holes more often so you may see more than another time of year and predators are easier to see.
- Summer- Animals are hiding from the sun and so more difficult to spot.
Your goals and interests are of course going to determine when the best time for you to go. Kirsty is well experienced in all of Africa and will help you plan the best trip for you.
What is Luxury Family Travel? How Can Families Have Luxury and Small Children?
Luxury is defined differently for everyone. It could be the actual lodgings and food or it could be you have some child-free time to get a massage. Her tip is to find a lodge that welcomes children vs tolerates them. You can find the best ones by seeing which ones have well-developed kid’s clubs. Not just tv and video games, but nature walks, learning about footprints and animal poop to cultural activities. While many may see these types of things as the opposite of the point of a family trip, they can actually provide your child with further educational and cultural experiences that you couldn’t on your own. Plus it gives you time to fill your own cup so you can enjoy the rest of the experience.
Finding the Lodge That’s Right for Your family:
You can still travel in Africa no matter the age of your children or the size of your family, you just have to find the right one. Many lodges are family friendly and will have spaces ranging from suites to whole villas available. This is perfect for those who want to make it a multi-generational trip. You may be limited as to the types of safaris you can take, but often if you can even set up private drives so you can better work around your family’s needs.
Look for ones that give activity or safari packs that help kids feel special and become more connected to the safari. There are also many that will not only ask about food restrictions but even ask what some of your favorite foods are to try and make sure there’s something for everyone.
What Does a Typical Day at a Lodge in Africa Look Like:
Want to know what you can expect from these luxury lodges? Kirsty says you can expect to wake up very early to go on safari during the time the animals are starting to also wake up. Then you come back and eat breakfast which is included with your stay. Often these lodges are small establishments so you could be eating with just your family or a multi-family affair. Great for getting to know new people and socializing for the kids!
In the afternoon you would then have some free time to do kid’s club, swimming, get a massage, or just relax as a family. Because then before dinner, you go back out for another game drive before all the animals settle down for the night. Remember animals are often most active at dusk and dawn so that’s when they go!
For dinner, it’s often a big affair where each night is different and often all together. It’s the best time to share with others the experiences of the day and developing deeper memories.
How to be Safe While Traveling In Africa?
While booking a trip to Europe or Asia can be done on your own, Kirsty recommends booking through a travel agent for Africa and using tours to help you not only see everything but staying in safe areas. Also, lodges have rules to keep you safe. So follow the rules.
How You Can Help The Local Communities in Africa and Beyond:
Kirsty supports an organization called Pack for a Purpose to bring much-needed supplies to local communities she visits around the world. Basically, you pack extra clothes, toiletries, school supplies, etc and then leave them for the organization. Kirsty has more info on her website or you can find them at https://www.packforapurpose.org/
Have you heard about the family volunteering trip Mags from The Family Freestylers took with her daughter?
Where to Find Kirsty and Traversing Africa:
Email: [email protected]