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How to improve holidays with children

Hey mum. let's go into the wild

My friend Sarah reckons she was nearly eaten by a hippo when she was sitting by a camp-fire on safari last year. The children never tire of hearing her story.

Apparently, she got away by climbing up a tree in the nick of time, although she always forgets to mention that there was a 20ft fence between her and the furious animal's gaping mouth.

Her near-death experience has got my little darlings chomping at the bit and on occasions like these, you have to call in the experts. SoI'm thankful for companies such as CC Africa (00 27 11809 4314; ccafrica.com), which is more than willing to give advice and, if necessary, work out all the logistics for you, right down to essentials (en suite bathrooms, infinity pools, private viewing decks ...).

Pick one of its family trips, such as a stay at the Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa, and trained staff will be on hand at all times to amuse and inform your tribe. Even the chefs welcome children's assistance, so once your mini-adventurers have tired of scouring the landscape for the Big Five, they can bake cakes for afternoon tea. Highlights include private rangers, day and night game drives, boat cruises, canoe trips, bush walks, bush sundowners and dinners on the reserve.

If you fancy being a bit more independent, check out the new Kenyan Family Adventure from Wildlife Worldwide (0845-130 6982; wildlifeworldwide.com), which supplies you with your own vehicle. Stay in some fantastic child-friendly lodges, take in the joys of Nairobi's giraffe sanctuary and have your heartstrings pulled at an elephant orphanage before going big game viewing at Lake Nakuru.

Wild about Africa (020-8758 4717; wildaboutafrica.com) also has a new family programme this year. Its Tamboti Safari is reasonably priced, easy-going and there are lots of extras for the kids to get involved in, from game drives in the Etosha National Park (home to black rhino, lion and elephant), canyon trips, quad-biking and 20,000-year-old Bushmen rock paintings.

All my kids need now is a disgruntled hippo to run away from and I'll have found them their dream holiday.

Katy's top tip

Check out Families Worldwide (0845-051 4567; familiesworldwide .co.uk), a new operator which concentrates on child-friendly holidays. Its safaris include interesting offerings in Botswana, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia and Tanzania.

Katy Holland ( k.holland@independent.co.uk) is associate editor of 'Mother and baby' and 'Pregnancy and birth' magazines