With more than 20 percent of Earth’s land mass, Africa is the second-largest continent in the world and home to 54 countries. (History and geography buffs, look here for the list and why that number is often disputed). It makes sense each country should have a different feel and experience, and indeed they do.
Most popular for families are South Africa – at the southern tip of the continent – and Tanzania to the east. Located 2500 miles apart they are each a perfect family destination but for very different reasons; you’ll want to keep both on your travel list.
In South Africa you’ll find sophisticated cities, breathtaking wild landscapes, dazzling marine life and any number of luxury lodges set on private game reserves for up-close game viewing.
Go for a walk through the deep history of Nelson Mandela’s struggle for freedom, in a township and on Robben Island. Stand atop Table Mountain with Cape Town and all its sights spread out before you, mountain ranges and ocean all around. Walk through the blooming fynbos in the floral kingdom of the Cape region. Sail into the South Atlantic to find pods of whales migrating from Antarctica and seek out a shiver of sharks (from the safety of a cage!).
Wrap up your adventure with yet another kind of experience. Immerse yourself in a relaxing safari lifestyle with scrumptious food, pool time and naps in between morning and evening game drives watching for the Big Five in their protected home.
In Tanzania it’s the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and all the vast protected lands where wildlife still lives in its natural environment as it has for thousands of years – no fences, no developments, just an unfettered circle of life.
The known attraction in Tanzania is its wildlife — more than you will find in any other African country. You’ll behold incredible migrating herds of wildebeest and zebra and large prides of lion. Feel the excitement of tracking leopard, elephants and rhino! But your family just may be forever changed by how the quiet culture of Tanzania touches you. Your guide might be Suuma, Luo, Ikoma or any one of the 120 different tribes in Tanzania. They all have a way of working themselves into the heart of your family so that saying goodbye is a sweet sorrow you might carry forever. You’ll meet a group of Maasai in their boma and talk about their warrior society and the tradition of adumu, the “jumping dance.” Meet the head of a local school and try your best to keep up with the kids at soccer. You’ll discover storytellers and crafters, people living traditional lives and villages uplifted by community projects. Tanzania is a peek into a pristine landscape and a peaceful way of life barely touched by tourism and modern commercialism.
Both countries offer different, wondrous things to discover with your kids and grandchildren, things you’ll see for the first time together. Since both deliver a deep experience to share with your loved ones it’s not a question of “which should I choose” but, “which do I go to first”!