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.

A Sanctuary For Man and Elephant

It’s a story that has reached people near and far, because it speaks to the heart.

Perhaps it is because of the heart that we detect in them, the subjects of the story, the elephants of Africa, that pulls us in.

Perhaps this is what bonds the groomsmen, the carers of the herd living in the Camp Jabulani orphanage, with these gentle giants.

This is a story not without challenges, but it is one that has survived generations, of both man and elephant, and one that continues to change.

The 1st of April 2017 saw the launch of the new elephant experience at Camp Jabulani, in the Kapama Private Game Reserve of South Africa, after the decision was made to end elephant-back safaris.

We recently featured the launch in our blog, but wanted to share the lodge’s new video with you. Take a look at this cinematic show of the heart of Camp Jabulani below and find out more about the new elephant interaction here.


What Happens On The Water Stays On The Water

“There’s nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as messing about in boats.” – Kenneth Grahame, The Wind In The Willows

It has to do with the freedom of it all, this attraction to boats. As the vessel slips out of the dock and the jetty moves further and further out of sight, so does any sense of connection to duty. And wifi. What happens on the water stays on the water and it does so in a dream that can’t be broken for as long as your pontoon keeps floating.

In the middle of the Zibadianja Lagoon, the source of the Savute Channel, in northern Botswana, we lounged on a couch on the HES Zib, Zarafa Camp’s special pontoon boat, a 275 sq. foot deck with couches, a dining area and bar. We brunched with the hippos and elephants of the 320,000 acre Selinda Reserve, an area linking the Okavango Delta and the Chobe/Savute corridors. We were miles from home, from the familiar. And like the birds sailing through the stillness of the morning air around us, we felt free.

The open-billed storks soared on thermals overhead. The pelicans cruised low over the lagoon. The Barred Owlets, Jacobin Cuckoos and Arrow-marked Babblers, all went about their day, their wings taking them upward and onward.

We had spent time in the thick of the bush around Zarafa Camp, the intimate tented camp from the Great Plains Conservation. We’d sat in the game vehicle beside two male lions and a lost cub and trailed the female pride trying to sniff them out. We had witnessed a long tail of elephants wading through shallow water, slowly but with purpose.

But now we were in the water ourselves. Or at least on it. With none of the sea’s fierce tides pushing us around, only the sweet hush of a lagoon in the African wilderness. A little wilder than the average Lake Placid, with crocodiles and hippos sidling below. But their daunting presence only further instills the sense of freedom. In the words of Jim Morrison, “Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”

Taking it a step further, the freedom you feel at this hideaway is enhanced by the “off the grid” approach to the camp. Not relying on outsiders, you feel even more… away from it all.

Zarafa Camp was created to be the best and most environmentally innovative camp on the continent, a green luxury safari camp. Along with the recycled hardwoods and canvas used in the construction, all the camp’s electricity comes from its solar farm while ‘bio gas’ plants recycle waste into usable cooking gas.

And isn’t that why we travel? To feel free? Free and wild. To claim our positions as captains of our own pontoon.

Discover more about Zarafa Camp in Botswana on the Relais & Châteaux website and in our blogs:

Safaris and the Things That Really Matter in Life

How To Dine In The Wild

The Secret Life of Cats