Etta Parker experiences Africa through the eyes of her grandchildren

A mother and sons pose with a tame cheetah.
Vantage Travel Team September 23, 2018

For years, Etta Parker had been wanting to go on safari in Africa with her family: her husband Dave, her daughter Amanda, and her two grandsons, Jack and Zerick. “It’s been on my bucket list for a long time,” she said. And her experience on Vantage’s Best of Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe & Botswana lived up to her dreams of it. So, what was her favorite part?

Was it the animals? Well, she did love seeing the wildlife, she said. “Seeing all the different animals in the natural habitat was incredible. Everyone, from the little ones on up, loved seeing them. I was amazed at how close we were able to get!”

Maybe it was the accommodations? “I didn’t expect such luxurious hotels in Africa. We had traveled with Vantage before, so we knew they would take care of us,” she said.  “But we were staying in really nice accommodations.” That wasn’t her favorite part either, though.

So, what was the best part of her safari?

“Watching the expressions on their faces,” she said, a smile in her voice. “My favorite part was sharing this with my family.”

When she was watching the animals on safari, she would also be looking at the members of her family, specifically her grandsons Zerick (8) and Jack (12). Seeing their faces light up made her day. “Zerick’s favorite animal was the mongoose. And they both loved getting up close to the cheetah and feeding the elephants” during the optional Elephant Encounter at the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, she said.

Yet the cultural experiences delighted the family as well. “There were just so many cultural differences,” she said. “Jack found out you could barter. So he asked to go to the Victoria Falls market, because he wanted a slingshot. He bartered his airplane pillow, a pen from the hotel, his blanket, and a bottle of hand sanitizer and got his slingshot. He loved it! Later, our safari guide taught him how to use it using some cans for targets.”

As a multigenerational group, Etta and her family weren’t sure how they would fit in with the other travelers on their safari. As it turns out, it worked out great. “Everyone on this trip as so nice and so congenial and kind. It was perfect for families. I was grateful there was another family with young folk — our two families got along great. I’m sure we will stay in touch.”  

She was proud of her grandsons for how they interacted with the rest of the group.  “The others on the trip complimented us on the behavior of the kids,” she said, before adding with a chuckle: “Jack and Zerick became so fond of one of the members of our group that they started calling him Uncle Jim.”

Etta said that she has talked about her safari with so many people since she got back — not only because she enjoys recalling it, but because she wants others to experience a safari with Vantage as well. “I would just love to see other people experience what we did,” she said. “I want everyone to see what I saw.”

She adds with a laugh: “If you have any travelers who aren’t sure about taking a safari, have them call me. I’ll convince them!”

Interested in a Vantage Safari? Check out our video on what these adventures offer.