Katy Holland: Watching wildlife on a family safari – that's just half the story

Are We There Yet? Family-friendly safaris these days are all about getting children to engage with their environment

If you thought family safaris were all about hanging out in 4X4s ogling animals, think again.

Things have moved on so much for kids that the bit where they go out wildlife spotting is merely the icing on the cake. Family safari specialists, increasingly aware that children don't like sitting still and being quiet, are offering more extra-curricular adventures than ever before.

As Tim Best, associate director of Original Travel, says: "Perching in a vehicle all day hoping to spot a lion can be tiring for kids. Family-friendly safaris these days are all about getting them to engage with their environment – from playing sport with local children to learning how to be a game tracker. The emphasis is on fun, education and getting involved. Kids love it."

Original Travel's new family safari, Luangwa Lion Cubs, at Kapani Lodge in Zambia (020-7978 7333; originaltravel .co.uk), ticks all these boxes. Children can learn how to be game rangers for a day, meet local tribespeople, attend bushcraft classes, make traditional clay pots and even take lessons in playing African drums.

Other good family safari specialists include the Adventure Company (0845 4505316; adventurecompany.co.uk), which is also offering an increasing array of new experiences. Managing director Claire Wilson says: "We want to ensure our younger travellers get a feel for the place they're visiting – not just its wildlife. Wherever possible, we find interactive ways to explore, from safaris by traditional dug-out canoe in Botswana to the chance to spend time with the Himba tribes of Namibia."

The Adventure Company's newest family safari, the Botswana Wildside trip, which takes in Victoria Falls, combines exploring the Okavango Delta by mokoro and camping out with San Bushmen, who teach the kids how to survive in the wilderness.

Oh, and I nearly forgot – you also get to see some of the most spectacular wildlife in the world.

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