Why Nature is the Best Place for Your Kids To Learn

We loved the blog, Why Nature is the Best Place for Your Kids To Learn, from Londolozi and had to share it with you here… Written by Josephine Benecke, it reveals just why a wilderness like Londolozi in South Africa is the best classroom for our little ones.

Waldkindergarden is a word that was brought to my attention by my friend, Amy Attenborough. The definition is forest kindergarden, where school is always outside. More than 1000 of these schools in Switzerland and Germany have taken off. Children are taught to make fire and tools and they get dropped off and hike about a mile up to school. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, school is always outside. Amy and I were talking about how fabulous this must be for the children and their development and how their senses are stimulated through this lifestyle.

Ranger Sean Cresswell uses the environment around him to teach one of Londolozi’s youngest guests. Apart from game drive though, we also have a Cubs den programme here at Londolozi, to keep young visitors learning and entertained.

The general consensus from parents and teachers of children in Waldkindergardens is that the children’s confidence, social interaction, creativity (ability to use natural resources around them as toys), physical strength and co – ordination is developed from a young age and stands them in good stead for future schooling. They’ve found that it has improved their concentration because they’re excited to pay attention to what is going on around them and helped to build their confidence because they’re encouraged to explore their surroundings by picking berries, climbing trees and building shelters.

Upon reading an article on Waldkindergarden it became apparent that one of the best way for kids to learn is outside – something we’re seeing with Cubs Den here at Londolozi too.

Jo Benecke, Cubs Den leader, draws in the sand at a bush dinner out under the stars.

Children who have to be encouraged and persuaded by their parents to join the outdoor activities on offer are at first reluctant but once out in the bush they end up having an amazing time. Numerous parents have mentioned how their child has learnt more in their short stay here than a month or two in school.

Throwing a ball to each other, in the extreme shallows of the river, on a warm winter’s day, encourages bonding amongst the kids immediately. They are a team. They realise this by seeing that how they throw the ball affects how their teammates are able to catch it. If they throw it short, their partners will be splashed with cool water. The result – a lot of giggling and smiles all round.

A friendly game of boules alongside the Sand River.

This is one of many examples where being out in nature with peers immediately enables one to develop an understanding of teamwork, coordination and spacial awareness. This is the start of understanding maths and physics in a sense – how far I throw the ball (maths) at what velocity (physics). Concepts that are not usually verbally taught at a young age but by the time they are, the kids will have already experienced the concepts of distance and velocity.

Other examples the children learn from are tree climbing, fishing, soccer and track moulding. The children improve their physicality and strength by climbing the tree, casting the line, running on the field and walking to identify tracks. They enhance social awareness by making space for peers, taking note of their peers’ whereabouts before casting, practicing sportsmanship and working as a team. They are also educationally stimulated when they work out the height of the different branches of the tree, the weight of the fish on the line, the length of the soccer field, or learning the sizes and identification of animal tracks.

Art time in the Cubs Den at camp. Children come to Londolozi from all over the world, which encourages kids to interact with and learn from many different cultures during their stay here.

Two Londolozi guests enjoy an evening sun downer on the banks of the Sand River.

At the end of the day one can see a golden glow on the faces of the children and hear the level of excitement of their chatter as they race to tell their parents of their day’s adventures. Although it may be a short visit to Londolozi, hopefully they will go home not only with some new skills and knowledge, they will also have an enhanced love for nature which we see shaping how they move forward in life.

The Making of an Explorer on the Zambezi

T & Sons at Royal Chundu 7

Travel necessitates a surrendering of control. Of routine, the familiar, the habits that we create for comfort and convenience and that inevitably close us off from new things – new people, places, customs, foods. The habits that cut us off from the flow. When we travel, we return to the flow.

Just as everyone needs solitude – in the words of Jack Kerouac, “No man should go through life without once experiencing healthy, even bored solitude in the wilderness, finding himself depending solely on himself and thereby learning his true and hidden strength” – every man and woman should give in to a voyage where the control lies in another’s hands at least once in life. When transport, meal times, accommodation and the like are provided for you by another.

To grow as individuals and to experience the joy of the unexpected, of new horizons, we need to hand over control. To go with the flow – something that one of the greatest rivers in the world – the Zambezi River – can teach us plenty about.

Royal Chundu

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At Royal Chundu, on the banks of the Zambezi, the opportunity presents itself in countless ways – on a sunset boat cruise, a river guide at the wheel, leading you through the channels, over hippo and crocodiles; walking beneath the trees on the wild Katombora Island, right to the river’s edge, trusting wholly in the knowledge and experience of the guide – as you do when he leads you by canoe over rapids. Or, on a helicopter ride to the lodge, flying over the Victoria Falls, tasting the traditional food of this part of Zambia and meeting the locals whose way of life is so dissimilar to what you might be used to.

All of this requires a laying down of arms. Such is travel. And such is the making of a true explorer.

Below are a few images from our latest adventure at Royal Chundu with little explorers in the making – from afternoon canoe trips and picnics to sunset boat cruises and catch-and-release fishing.

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T & Sons at Royal Chundu

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Boat Trip

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Boat Snacks

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Madagascar For Kids

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In our Relais & Châteaux online magazine, Instants, we featured a piece, entitled, Water Babies: Indian Ocean Islands For Kids, an introduction to the beautiful island getaways between Africa and Asia that welcome young ones of various ages.

You can read the full article here. But we still had a few images to share – from one of our travellers, Royal Chundu Owner & MD, Tina Aponte, taken on a recent family holiday on the island of Madagascar. Here they are below – from learning to surf on upside-down kayaks and head massages with lemurs to sunsets so beautiful they won’t be lost on you or your little ones…

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Where to stay:

IN A NATURE RESERVE ON THE NORTHWEST COAST OF THE ISLAND, Anjajavy l’Hôtel welcomes kids from one year of age. Its rosewood villas stretch out over the beachfront beside the Mozambican Channel in the otherworldly Moramba Bay. Little ones are encouraged to join the family on catamaran and snorkeling adventures, fishing trips, splashes in the pool or water-skiing out in the open seas.

Read below: for our list of five kiddie favourites at Anjajavy l’Hôtel

Best time of the year to visit Madagascar: April to October

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5 Things Kids Can Look Forward To At Anjajavy l’Hôtel…

1. The Indian Ocean only a few sandy footprints away…


2. Meeting animals they might never have heard of before…

Lemurs, chameleons, tortoises, humming birds… “There are probably few places on earth that offer such an authentic, up-close contact with nature. You might discover a new, as-yet unknown native species yourself, like several visitors each season do!” –  RADO RASOLOFOSON – Anjajavy l’Hôtel, HEAD OF GUIDES AND MOUNTAIN PATROLMEN


3. Getting in touch with their inner explorer…

Madagascar is one of the last remaining unspoilt oases on the planet. A world of wonder to curious little minds with virgin forests, savannas and tiny islands to explore and new plants to discover – cocoa, vanilla, ylang-ylang, papyrus and other carnivorous species…


4. Making new friends…

during visits with the local community that work closely with the hotel and on festive nights at Anjajavy l’Hôtel.


5. Countless “that one time” stories to go home with…

Whether fishing, swimming, water skiing, mountain biking, nature hikes, catamaran cruises or otherwise.


Should you be interested in finding out more or travelling to Anjajavy l’Hôtel with your own brood, feel free to contact us.