“Africa is a place that, like nowhere else I know, can get you out of your own head,” said Peter Godwin in Condé Nast Traveler. For 15 years, I’ve lived in New York City and returned to my homeland only as a reporter. But my boys, Hugo and Thomas, had never been when my wife and I finally arranged a trip that would give them a deep draft of the continent. My native Zimbabwe wasn’t an option: I’d written too much about Robert Mugabe’s cruel regime to risk entering. Still, that left the rest of southern Africa—a place where “life feels more vivid,” because to walk this land is to be “surrounded by predator and prey.”
Our first stop, an island off the coast of Mozambique, delivered a view that Thomas instantly deemed the best he’d ever seen. We had climbed a giant dune: To our east lay “a palisade of churning surf” and the Indian Ocean; to our west, a narrow turquoise channel and the tree-lined mainland. We would spend our next days acclimating to a world in which six fish could be pulled from the water on a single cast and a dinner table could be laid out in the shallow ocean water as the sky darkened. And when our beach idyll ended, we braved the crowds at glorious Victoria Falls. Walking a narrow pedestrian bridge, we were soaked by spray and “wreathed by multiple rainbows.” The boys whooped in delight, “awed at the sheer power of the mighty Zambezi plunging over the abyss.”
I chose Botswana for our safari. We slept in tents at the edge of a lagoon, listening to “the great tuba blasts” of hippos. In the Moremi Game Reserve and neighboring Chobe National Park, you can get “ridiculously close” to wild elephants, and we did. Our guide taught the boys to see with new eyes every creature from the praying mantis to the laughing hyenas. Thomas correctly identified lion tracks one day and followed them for hours. Finally, as we rounded a corner, we found two large males resting in the open before us. “The look on Thomas’s face made the entire trip worthwhile.”
Uncharted Africa (unchartedafrica.com) offers all-inclusive group safaris from $7,500 a person for five nights.