My family and Other Animals
Conservationist and wildlife photographer Peter Chadwick regularly travels for work and has lost count of all the places he’s pitched a tent.
“Go camping at Addo!” was the instantaneous answer when I asked my daughters, aged seven and nine, what they felt we should set as a family resolution for 2012. The decision was so obvious to them that we soon had our bookings in place for 10 days’ camping during the next school holidays.
When probed further why we should go camping as opposed to booking into one of the cottages, again my daughters' responses were immediate and again given with a “come on, the answer is obvious” tone. For them, camping brought the family much closer together and the feel of the outdoors could be experienced to its full with the constant coming and goings of birds and vervet monkeys; the nightly visits by small-spotted genet and porcupine; and being able to listen to the lions, spotted hyena and black-backed jackals calling in the night.
Best of all for them were the picnic lunches and sitting around the camp fire, toasting marshmallows while drinking steaming mugs of hot chocolate. After dinner we would watch the vast night skies, try to count satellites and make wishes as shooting stars streaked across the sky.
I left the packing list to my daughters. First were things to keep them busy in the quiet times: colouring books and crayons, together with field identification guides. Beanies, gloves and scarves were needed for early morning game drives and their two bikes for riding around the camp when their boring old parents took their afternoon snooze. Snacks, including lots of biltong, mini-chocolates and fruit, were packed into containers for game drives and while waiting patiently for the perfect photograph.
When it came to the actual camping trip, it was amazing how quickly the time flew. The eagerness of my daughters had us up before sunrise and heading out for a morning game drive that was followed by a late breakfast and shower. Addo had a great holiday programme for the kids that kept them occupied until mid-afternoon when we again headed out on the afternoon game drive. Before we knew it, the day was over and we were sitting around the fire as a family, recounting the day’s excitement.
Must-haves for Camping with Kids
1) Re-chargeable spotlight to point out constellations and satellites.
2) Bird book to be able to identify all the campsite birds.
3) Binoculars to watch the camp monkeys and birds.
4) Flask with hot chocolate for early morning game drives.
5) Games to play in quiet times and to help brush up on bush knowledge.
This article was first published in the spring issue of Wild 2012.
Posted on: February 23, 2013, 6:54 PM
Posted on: February 23, 2013, 6:55 PM