1
1

We can all recall the freedom of our youth when we were outside all day, making forts, catching tadpoles and climbing trees. We were all explorers of some kind, even if just in our suburban garden. We explored, we discovered, we might have even gotten lost, but we always returned the wiser and more enlightened. Safaris with kids are much the same – a time to stimulate all the senses. Safaris open up a whole new world to us all, but for kids that world is even more enchanting. Exciting new animals are a huge part of a safari experience, but delving deeper and more personal into what lies in heart of the land and its people while learning and experiencing gives great satisfaction and interaction to kids (and parents). Stepping away from everyday life for treasure hunting and practicing your newly learnt traditional bush survival skills is an experience we would all cherish. For kids, it is magical.

Children on safari are a joy, as they bring to light many of the questions, which adults are “afraid” to ask and they incite a level of discovery which adults rarely touch. It’s a time to connect with family, like any vacation is, but there’s something extra special about sharing the first sighting of a favorite animal together, or mountain biking amongst the giraffes, and reliving it around the fire together each night. The freedom and purity of Africa is the ideal way to escape the “everyday” and bond with the land and with each other.

BOTSWANA

The Young Explorers Programme in Botswana blends fun with becoming Conservation Ambassadors. Our guides and staff are each trained by Botswana Government approved trainers in a one-week children awareness programme tailored to Great Plains Conservation’s conservation principles. Communicating conservation principles to children is critical of course they are our hope for the future of Africa’s wildlife and wilderness.

Botswana is an ideal family safari destination as the private concessions and low guest numbers allow us extreme flexibility to exploring by foot, canoe and vehicle, day and night.

On arrival each child will receive a Great Plains Young Explorers pack full of all that is needed for them to become a Conservation Ambassador. The pack includes an activity book, traditional game boards, buff, torch and compass and a letter from a Motswana pen pal! The activity book is full of interesting information and games including animal tracks, seTswana vocabulary, facts on flora, fauna and stars, word games and a safari journal. On completion of the activity book children will be ready to complete the Conservation Ambassadors quiz in order to receive a certificate confirming their Conservation Ambassador status.

A Snapshot of Young Explorers Club Activities

  • Take a ‘’Walk on the WILD side’’: Learn some Bayei survival skills including animal tracking and even how to make traditional bangles and rings from grass.
  • Plaster casting tracks: It’s easy to miss Africa when back home, so these plaster casts of favorite animal tracks are a perfect memento to share with friends.
  • Tools & Fire: Craft a traditional bow and arrow, and cook a meal over a fire made from just sticks and dung.
  • Conservation savvy: What is this word poaching, why is it so bad and how can it be stopped.
  • Get glamorous: Just because we are in the bush, doesn’t mean we don’t have flair! Make jewelry from local beads, and share it with new friends.
  • Enjoy the ‘’Night life’’: Look up, look down, there’s lots to see by moonlight. Bring a flashlight and see what happens to a scorpion at night – surprise!
  • Art all around: Nature is full of resources for loads of art projects.
  • Bush Breakfast with the Birds – Test your bush cooking skills and make your folks breakfast over an open fire under the guidance of a bush chef!
  • National Geographic Kids: Link with the Cause an Uproar campaign, interacting with kids around the world on conservation issues.
  • Gone fishing: Hop in the boat or canoe and let’s cast the rod while learning how the Bayei people live off the land here.
  • Binoculars: These handy devices take a bit of learning; our guides will share the tricks.

Sample Itinerary
This is merely an idea of the Young Explorers Programme based on a 3-night stay. Some camps will offer more walking and canoeing while others will offer more game drives. There is always flexibility based on child’s age and interests.

DAY ONE

  • Arrive at camp, greeted by the Great Plains Young Explorers guides who will welcome the children and excite them for embarking on the Great Plains Young Explorers programme.  Each child will receive their Great Plains Young Explorers pack, filled with fun tasks and projects.
  • After Lunch:
    Whilst the parents are settling into camp and unpacking the children can get acquainted with the guide over a game of Morabaraba, a great icebreaker for meeting the camp’s staff. The guide will also offer an educational walk around the camp, getting to know the trees, plants and birds and starting to look for animal and bird tracks and signs.
  • Late Afternoon:
    Introductory game drive or walk with parents to discover tracks and signs of wildlife, starting to work on the species checklist, how to use binos, and share knowledge to answer the quiz questions. Make an animal footprint to take home from plaster of paris; this can be turned into a piece of art with a bit of colourful paint. Whilst the parents are having sundowners, burn off a bit of travel energy with a game of ele dung soccer!
  • Evening:
    Begin to discover the southern skies, finding the Southern Cross. Don’t forget a torch; we will be looking for some night time creepy crawlies too. Hear some African bush legends around the fire with hot cocoa and marshmallows.

DAY TWO

  • Morning:
    Off into the bush first thing at daybreak, either by foot, boat or 4×4. Whilst out today, we start gathering items from the bush for a later art project.
  • After Brunch:
    Make a poster with a conservation message using the items collected in the morning. Later, we will send the art to our new pen pals in the local villages. Begin the Survival Skills course, and learn from the guide how to make a fire from sticks and how to make a traditional bow and arrow and fish trap.
  • Late Afternoon:
    Board canoe, motor boat or HES Zib (at Zarafa) for a lesson in Bayei fishing. The local people in this region were primarily subsistence fisherman, and now’s a chance to learn how to among the wildlife and incredible birds. Be gourmet and try some tasty Papyrus root. Or get fancy with a Water lily necklace. If it’s in season, then have a go at trying to catch a fish.
  • Evening:
    It’s movie night. Watch one of the Joubert’s National Geographic documentaries in our bush theater, complete with popcorn. Watch and learn and see if you can find some more answers to your Big Cat Quiz.

DAY THREE

  • Morning:
    Set out on morning activity. While on drive, learn from the guide what vegetation edible and some traditional use methods. Test your newly acquired tracking skills and track “your” animal.
  • After Brunch:
    Time to write a letter to a new pen pal and share stories from home and this safari, sharing conservation messages. Alternative activity is a tour of the back of house of camp, see how the camp actually runs behind the scenes, have a look at the bio-gas and solar systems – what other ‘green’ technology is possible?
  • Late Afternoon:
    Game Drive Bingo – Test our bush-eyes against everyone’s in the vehicle, who can be the first to spot all the wildlife on the bingo card and shout it out!?
  • Evening:
    Tonight (weather dependent) we will have a bush dinner. Learnt to cook over an open fire. Here, the guide will present each Young Explorer with his/her certificate for completing the Great Plains Young Explorers programme and become a Conservation Ambassador.

KENYA

Led by our guides Elijah Marika and Daniel Kasaine, ol Donyo Lodge’s Great Plains Young Explorers programme is designed to enhance both a child and a family’s overall safari, weaving themes of conservation and culture into each fun activity with the intention of giving children tangible examples and moments to bring back to their peer group. The future of conservation is, after all, in the hands of these young ambassadors.

Ol Donyo Lodge is the consummate family safari destination; hosting children aged 5 to 15 and modifying the level of activities according to age.

A Snapshot of the Young Explorers Club Activities:

  • BIKE RIDE ON THE PLAINS: Safari Cyling! Cycle across the plains among animals such as giraffes, zebra and impala.
  • PAINTING: Picasso Painting! Paint on canvas and easel in ‘the hide’ with wildlife and Mt. Kilimanjaro as the inspiration.
  • MAASAI BEADING: Bush Beading! Bead traditional Maasai bracelets and necklaces with the Maasai ladies at the nearby village while learning the cultural relevance of the beautiful artwork.
  • KITE FLYING: Let’s go fly a kite!! The plains in front of ol Donyo were meant for this fun activity.
  • ANIMAL TRACKING: Hiking the Chyulu Hills! The volcanic soil provides the perfect medium for tracking. Hike with a guide to discover what’s been sniffing around.
  • BUSH SURVIVAL SKILLS COURSE: The Warrior Way! Living and thriving in the bush is no intuitive task for a city kid. Learn the Maasai’s traditional livelihood techniques, from fire starting, shelter making, cooking, catching water to making bows and arrows.
  • LIVING LIKE A WARRIOR: Putting survival skills to the test! After the in depth training and completion of the Bush Survival Skills Course, try it all out including the opportunity to sleep out in the bush whether it be on top of the kopjes, at our local tree house or in pop tents on the crater.
  • DANCE LIKE A WARRIOR: How high can you jump? Time to learn the impressive ceremonial traditions of the young Maasai. What is the meaning behind their formidable jumping, the reason behind the traditional dress and the celebration that accompanies both?
  • SCHOOL FOR A DAY: Don’t worry, there’s no homework! Ever wondered what it might be like to attend school in Africa? Here’s a chance to visit with local kids, and even maybe a pick up soccer match.

On arrival each child will receive a Great Plains Young Explorers pack complete with animal tracking tools, Swahili vocabulary, puzzles and coloring books. Upon completion of the programme, children will receive a badge and certificate.

Sample Great Plains Young Explorers 3-day itinerary (subject to change based on kid’s ages and impromptu opportunities). Everything is flexible so this merely a concept itinerary.

DAY ONE

  • Arrive at ol Donyo Lodge greeted by the Great Plains Young Explorers guide Elijah or Daniel who will welcome the children to ‘the hide’ for juice and cookies and excite them for embarking on the Great Plains Young Explorers programme.  Each child will receive their Great Plains Young Explorers pack, filled with fun tasks and projects.
  • Mid-Morning:
    It’s time for a hike!  Let’s stretch those travel legs with an introductory bush walk designed to softly introduce the Young Explorers to the area around the lodge, and begin to look for spoor and wildlife.
  • After lunch:
    It’s time to SPLASH in the pool and cool off whilst watching the elephants congregating at the watering hole below. And walks down to the log-pile hide to get, safely, a bit closer.
  • Late afternoon:
    Introductory game drive/horseback/walk with parents where children have a head start on the parents and show off some of the knowledge learned in the morning.

DAY TWO

  • Morning:
    After breakfast kids are offered the chance to take part in a half-day bush survival course, taking them through skills and knowledge required for living in the bush. Under careful and safe tutelage from the guides, kids are taught to make shelter, fire, bows & arrows from all local materials. They also try their hand at Maasai spear throwing for prizes. The Young Explorers must then use their new fire making skills for tea and snack, boiling the water and toasting the bread on their own fire. (Kids who do not wish to take part in this can also join their parents on their safari activity).
  • After lunch:
    The plains in front of the lodge are just begging for kites. Let’s go out there among the giraffe and fly a kite. Or, for those interested in soccer instead, we head to the airstrip for some practice with the staff.
  • Late Afternoon:
    The Young Explorers once again show off their new talents on mountain bike/walk/horseback or game drive.

DAY THREE

  • Morning:
    For the Boys- The Young Explorers go to meet the locals and head to a local Maasai village to meet with the warriors. Here, they will learn the traditions and their relevance, including their impressive jumping, and beautiful attire.
    For the Girls- The Young Explorers join up with the Maasai ladies to bead traditional jewelry, learning its cultural significance.
  • After lunch:
    Elijah and/or Daniel join the Young Explorers down at the log-pile hide for some inspirational time painting the elephant (and other wildlife) and hopefully Mt. Kilimanjaro. This take-home piece will be a constant reminder back home of the beauty and experience at ol Donyo Lodge.
  • Late Afternoon:
    The grand finale!  Having nearly successfully completed the Great Plains Young Explorers course, it’s time for a bit of a celebration. Horse riding with the family (or walk or game drive) to the tree house, where families will be met by Maasai warriors for sundowners, an early bush dinner and bush fire. Impromptu stories will be exchanged, and Young Explorers will show their new Maasai jumping dance and give beaded jewelry to their parents. Here, Elijah and Daniel will present each Young Explorer with his/her badge and certificate for completing the Great Plains Young Explorers programme.