The rocking, thermal-surfing little bush plane had the children whooping and giggling as we glided over a magic new world: the Okavango Delta. So far removed from anything these children have ever known: pristine, vast, pure… and far, far, far from the madding crowd. Away from screens, soccer matches and daily schedules – just us, together!
From above, the water-filled fissures that appear as rivers and lakes gleamed against the sun, and the endless space simply left us speechless. The true richness of this would only be revealed at eye-level, but even now the excitement was immeasurable for each of us.
While the thrill of travel will always lift our spirits, travelling with children, especially in today’s COVID-world, can feel overwhelming for any parent. More than that. Questions around the over-enthusiasm of three young children floated around in my head? What of the other guests? Will some be on honeymoon or in couples basking in the romance of Africa? Will some be taking a respite from their own children? Will my kids disturb the serenity and cause chaos?
Surprisingly gently, we touched down on a dirt strip, and the anxiety of my thoughts fell away as soon as we met Lettie, our guide. With the warmest smile in Africa, Lettie had us fall in love with him over and over again during our stay at the gorgeous, newly renovated Vumbura Plains. He fascinated the kids with the wonders of this diverse and wild area, he captivated their minds when speaking of his own local childhood and, at the same time, held us adults mesmerised as he led us on our adventures.
From game drives – in and on the water – he showed us the beauty of the wildlife, from enormous eagles to tiny chameleons, reed frogs and kingfishers, also stately sable, giraffe and zebra. He tracked lions and a beautiful male leopard, and showed us elephants and their immense prints in the sandy ground. He took us on boats and mekoro, for picnics, and sundowners with awe-inspiring backdrops. He led us to the helicopter, and at treetop height we marvelled at wild dogs, red lechwes and hippos from a thrilling new perspective.
And then there was Polly. Our beautiful in-camp Bush Buddy, who spent hours playing games, decorating biscuits, putting wildlife puzzles together and revealing her culture and local customs through fun activities. A real blessing for my husband and I, who sometimes want to soak up the immensity of Africa on our own – as well as indulge in an afternoon siesta.
As the saying goes, children should be seen and not heard! The camp so vast – and rooms so beautifully spaced apart – we seemed to be magically avoiding other guests. Such is the proficiency of the camp’s operations and consideration towards other parties, guests who did not seek us out may have never known we were there.
No matter how we wanted to eat, from lunches or early suppers on our expansive suite’s deck – with our own private plunge pool – to dinners in the main area, the spaciousness of camp did not let me, my children or the others guests down.
And the food offering, which is sourced locally from farmers and artisans, was as sublime as the setting. The children lacked for nothing – a little adventurer can eat local and the fussy eater will literally have his Western cake and eat it. All is accounted for, nothing forgotten.
The only tears that fell were during our departure. Tears that we were leaving our new friends Lettie, Polly, Raz, Nadia, Tilly, Mocks, Speedy, Mike… too many to name. Everyone so warm and generous that we easily felt part of a great big family.
I’m so grateful to these incredible people who made our adventure so accessible, and for giving my kids the gift of joy and wonder as they learned about this fragile and exceptional ecosystem. Certainly a memory they will treasure – and an impactful lesson about the true value of Mother Nature.
Let’s plan your next journey
When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.