How Grandma and Grandpa Grabbed the Trip by the Horn(s)

How does a family that spans two continents and three generations plan a journey that everyone can enjoy? With careful planning, some expert help, and a close encounter with an endangered species…


Rhinoceroses are incredible creatures to see up close.

For one thing, they’re critically endangered – conservationists estimate that the black rhino population decreased by a whopping 96% between 1970 and 1995 – making an in-person sighting all too rare. For another, they’re enormous: 13 feet long, six feet tall, and weighing in somewhere around 4,000 pounds.

And then, of course, there’s the horn, a pointed protrusion of rock-hard keratin, measuring anywhere between 20 inches to three feet in length, designed by evolution to help rhinos break through whatever needs breaking: thick branches; solid ground; a predator’s bones.

All of which is to say that although rhinos are herbivores, you could be forgiven for feeling a little intimidated in their presence.

“We were in awe,” says George Butterfield.

B&R’s intrepid co-founders George and Martha found themselves face to face with rhinos last year when they took their entire family – their son David and his wife Juliette, their daughter Nathalie and her husband Niall, and all eight of their grandchildren – on a trip to southern Africa, where they could not only be together, but share an adventure that would leave the typical “family vacation” in its dust.

Revelling in the rhinos’ imposing presence in Matobos National Park, they kept a respectful distance as they marvelled at the majestic creatures. Well, most of them kept their distance.

“We’re standing there in awe, and little Ellie wants to run up and pat the rhino!” George says with a smile as he recalls the reaction of his fearless 7-year-old granddaughter. “And we’re restraining her and telling her, ‘This is a wild animal, you must stay away!’”

“She wasn’t scared at all. She was thrilled!”

***

Juggling everyone’s schedules, preferences and interests can make family vacations tricky to plan, even for a family of three – and especially for a family that spans three generations.

But with open minds and a little creativity, the format can easily be turned into an adventure that thrills family members of all…


Want to read more? Email Michele to get the full story: michele@theslowroad.com

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