A holiday with teenagers has to be the right mix of adventure, entertainment, and relaxation - with the first two really aimed at the kids, the last one definitely for the parents! Making sure that there is something for everyone is key when planning your family holiday, and these itineraries will hopefully give you some ideas. Plus the inner hope that you will deliver the best holiday your teenagers have even been on and as a result you become the coolest parents ever in the history of mankind.
Africa can offer all of the above, and you will hopefully return home having had the most amazing holiday filled with fun and laughs throughout. Of course, we are not saying that there won't be any teenage tantrums at some point - let's face it, that is probably a given - but you never know, miracles may happen! As John Hemingway said "If I have ever seen magic, it has been in Africa" - so maybe this magic will work and result in a blissful argument free holiday!
Going on a family safari will tick the first two boxes immediately. Tracking a lion through the bush in one of South Africa's Greater Kruger Park private game reserves, and having to duck right down as your ranger expertly manoevers the open safari vehicle under low-hanging tree branches is a great adrenelin rush and beats anything that can be achieved sitting in front of an X-Box.
Or what about canoeing along the riverbanks on the Zambezi River and seeing a crocodile basking in the sunlight, or a pride of lions or herd of elephants coming down to the water's edge to drink - not something you would normally do on a daily basis! Wherever your safari destination, you will certainly come away from these nights with a bucketful of memories and shared family experiences.
Many lodges will have a family room set up, where two children can be in an adjoining twin bedded room or both parents and kids rooms are separated by a lounge area or a walkway which is accessed by both rooms. Either option will give parents peace of mind knowing that the children are not too far away - but with enough space for everyone to have some privacy when needed.
You will need to warn your teens that being on safari does mean some early morning wake up calls - but the thought of maybe seeing a pride of lions enjoying their breakfast under the bushes may inspire them to leap out of bed - if not, the temptation of having a tasty muffin before heading out on the morning drive may equally work!
Many of the lodges now do have Wi-Fi in and around the main lodge areas for those teenagers who cannot bear to be parted from the outside world, but during game drive time you can enjoy some quality family time together without Facebook or Snapchat interrupting the experience, as Wi-Fi coverage is pretty much non existent when away from the lodge.
You can consider mixing your safari up with some iconic African experiences - such as walking along in front of the Victoria Falls and getting soaked by the spray and bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge; enjoying the vibey atmosphere of Cape Town's Waterfront and going shark cage diving or paragliding down the slopes of Table Mountain; or visiting a traditional Masaai village and learning more about this fascinating culture and the people.
Whatever their age, what child still does not want or enjoy a beach holiday. A few nights at the beach before you hop on the plane home might just be in order - but again, ensuring that there are enough activities to keep the teens happy! What teenager would not want to windsurf, snorkel, kayak, learn to dive, paddleboard, swim, or play tennis - while the parents endulge in some serious sun lounger time with a good book.
Just do be warned - your children could love the holiday so much, they may pester you to return again the following year...and the following year...and the following year...
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Big 5 Kruger Safari, Cape Town and Mauritius
Nkorho Bush Lodge
Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Southern Sun Waterfront
Destination: South Africa and Mauritius.
Beginning with a Big 5 safari in Kruger, spending time exploring Cape Town, and ending with 5 nights on a beach in Mauritius at a popular family-friendly hotel, this family holiday will leave you wishing you didn't have to come home at all.
This is a 15 night itinerary including Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Cape Town and Mauritius.
Based on 4 Star Accommodation:
3 Nights at Nkorho Bush Lodge
5 Nights at Southern Sun Waterfront Cape Town
7 Nights at Canonnier Beachcomber Golf Resort & Spa
For the wildlife-mad family, this safari holiday gives you the chance to explore Tanzania's Northern Circuit with a private driver-guide, taking in 4 different National Parks, before heading to Zanzibar for some R&R at the end of the holiday. If you are looking for a family holiday which gives you some of the best wildlife viewing imaginable, then this is the one for you.
This is a 14 night itinerary including Arusha, Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, The Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Zanzibar.
This 10 night itinerary will make you the best parents ever - as you are giving your teenagers the chance to do a bungee jump, canoe alongside crocodiles, elephants and maybe even lion, head out on game drives to search out leopard and cheetah, and go snorkelling or scuba dive, wake boarding, water skiing or even tubing. In return for such a marvellous holiday, you can ask them to keep their room tidy for the rest of the year!
This is a 10 night itinerary including Victoria Falls - Zambia, Lower Zambezi National Park, South Luangwa National Park and Lake Malawi.