The greatest luxury on a family safari is privacy - the space to be yourselves and move at your own pace. A private tented expedition through wild, game-rich country may sound like the preserve of oligarchs but it really isn't...
It is possible to fly in to Dar es Salaam and head straight down to the Selous Game Reserve - Africa's largest Game Reserve, where the opportunity to explore the beautiful lagoons left by the mighty Rufiji River on foot shouldn't be missed. The Selous is incredibly beautiful and far more water rich-than most of East Africa's other top wildlife areas.
From the Selous you can head east towards Ruaha National Park, climbing the Great Rift and breaking your journey in either Mikumi or Udzungwa National Parks. Udzungwa is a fascinating patch of remnant forest in the Eastern Arc Mountains dating back to a time before the savannahs took over great swathes of Africa. Hiking in to find a group of habituated Sanje-crested Mangabeys (endemic to this forest), highly social monkeys that spend a huge amount of time on the forest floor, provides much entertainment as does swimming in the picturesque waterfalls - a real break from the conventional safari routine.
Ruaha is Tanzania's largest National Park (and the second largest in Africa) and maintains a wonderfully wild edge. The landscape is completely different to the Selous and the contrast could not be greater with thousands of baobabs sprinkled across large dry plains. Ruaha is incredibly mammal and bird rich (574 species and counting) and marks the convergence of East and Southern African flora and fauna - the park hosts the most southerly populations of Lesser Kudu, Striped Hyena and Grant's Gazelle. Elephants are particularly plentiful and all the other start attractions such as lion, leopard, buffalo, hippo and giraffe can also be readily found here.
We use a small tented camp deep inside the park and tucked well away from any other human activity. The camp is small and may be shared, but all game driving is in your own private vehicle with a highly experienced guide. This means you can plan the day entirely to suit yourselves without having to worry about other guests whose interests may not chime with yours and your kids. The emphasis here is very definitely about being in the bush and not the unnecessary accoutrements that can creep in to safaris, although that said it is perfectly comfortable with proper beds, an en-suite bucket shower & chemical loo - and plenty of wholesome, if not gourmet, food.
To fit with the holidays
Southern Tanzania has plenty to offer that coincides with school holidays - the summer (June, July and August) is wonderful time to visit as is the October half term and the Christmas New Year period. After journeying through southern Tanzania you may want to consider a few days of R&R on the beach along the coast or on Zanzibar, Pemba or Mafia Islands.
A proper journey
There is a danger on safari that it all becomes about parachuting in from one game-rich area to another and really not spending any time on the ground other than in national parks and hence garnering very little about how the country works and how the wilderness areas fit in with other parts of the country. The beauty of a road trip accross southern Tanzania is that you can spend time in wildly contrasting areas and see how one merges is to another - a real journey through a wild land.
If you'd like to discuss some ideas we'd be happy to put together some ideas and prices for you to look at - say the word and we'll get the ball rolling.