Teenagers are reputed to be a notoriously difficult group to please, and reckoned to be inseparable from their smart devices. Neither of these things seems to be true on safari, however. It could be the lack of Wi-Fi out in the bush, or the impact on young, curious minds of the beauty and mystery of the bush.
With the scheduled end of elephant-riding by guests having taken place at the end of 2016, Abu Camp now focuses even more closely on offering Africa’s premier elephant interaction experience – an experience that is very firmly set in the context of efforts to understand and conserve this most iconic of animals.
“In our experience, our teenage guests are typically reaching an age where they are very much more conscious of the world around them, and of their place in it. This explains why they are so concerned about environmental issues, and, combined with their natural empathy, means that they bond immediately with the Abu herd,” commented Abu Concession Manager, Roger Carloni. “When you factor in their interconnected modern lifestyles, this makes them the ideal ambassadors to spread Abu Camp’s message of hope around the world,” he added.
Tania Ackerman visited the camp with her 13 year old son in 2014. “To be honest I was a little worried that my son Ethan would be a bit bored being away from technology. I am sure all parents can relate, but he was even more blown away by the experience than I was; totally absorbed by his surroundings and the activities we could do. The highlight, of course, was the interaction with the Abu herd. Warona, also known as ‘Dennis the Menace’, would tease us – disappearing under the water only to reappear and spray us! To be able to see these majestic animals in their natural habitat interacting with one another was simply life changing. There was never a moment that he felt that he would rather be somewhere else. Even now, three years later, Ethan still asks, ‘When are we going back?”
With several of the Abu herd elephants being ‘teenagers’ themselves (in the sense of an elephant’s lifespan and reproductive behaviour) there seems to be a natural bond. Tablets and phones are soon forgotten with the opportunity to walk with the elephants and see the bush through their eyes. Perhaps more than any other guests, teenagers really enjoy spending time with the Abu herd, watching them feed, swim, and just be themselves.
There’s no app for spending time with elephants – perhaps that’s the secret?
NB Please note that certain Abu Camp elephant activities have age restrictions designed to ensure the safety of our younger guests.
- Minimum age requirement for mokoro excursions and walking is 13 years – this includes walking with the elephants.
- Children between 6 and 16 years of age may sleep on the outdoor star-deck provided an adult accompanies them.
- Private activities must be booked for children between the ages of 6 and 12 years. At Abu, this is specific to game drives and boating only as elephant activities cannot be booked on a private basis.
- Children between the ages of 6 and 16 years may be present at the feeding of the elephants.
Written by Nick Galpine
Photographed by Caroline Culbert