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Dion Bisa from East Hotel Canberra shares her favourite African adventure

Over the last ten years, Dion Bisa, Brand Director & Owner of East Hotel Canberra has created a family-friendly paradise at East Hotel in Canberra, with everything from free lollies in the lobby to kids’ mini bars, cubbies with bunk beds, Xbox One consoles, and dress-up clothes. When it comes to her own holidays, she loves heading overseas with her partner Cath and their sons Gianni, 14, and Luca, 17, as often as she can.

Luca Gianni Dion and Cath at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
Luca, Gianni, Dion and Cath at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

My ideal family holiday is…

A mix of new and engaging surroundings, great food opportunities, nature, shops and cool hotels!

My fondest family holiday memory is…

Probably our last holiday before COVID hit. We headed to Africa for the second time! Previously we had explored South Africa together and were totally captured by the people, the landscape, and the remarkable wildlife. So, we headed back, but this time we headed east and started our adventure at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. It was beyond breathtaking. From there, we cruised along the Chobe River in Northern Botswana for three nights, waking every morning to the most stunning birdlife, elephants bathing by the riverbank, hippos yawning and rolling in the mud, and monkeys playing. From there we headed to a game reserve in Sable Alley for days and nights of animal safaris, which we couldn’t get enough of! Then we jumped into a light plane to arrive at a completely different landscape of salt plains, Baobab trees and the migration of the dazzling zebra at Makgadikgadi Pans National Park in Botswana … did I also mention it’s a breeding ground for meerkats? Camp Kalahari was so unique, special and memorable. We stayed in large nomadic tents and dined on one long table at night, sharing tales of our day with people from all over the world. The boys absolutely loved it. The epic trip ended in the magical waters of Mozambique, at the White Pearl Resort, Ponta Mamoli where we rode horses across the island, had cooking lessons, met the local tribespeople, ate enormous Mozambique prawns and relaxed! The entire time we were on this incredible adventure, we were so remote and so off the grid that it gave us time to completely disconnect from the internet and share experiences as a family that were extraordinary, to say the least. We all also became very savvy 500 card game players!

Dions sons Gianni and Luca on safari in Africa
Dion's sons Gianni and Luca on safari in Africa

Family travellers may not be aware that…

Every time you take your kids somewhere new and different, they grow and mature. They must talk to people they would not normally engage with, whether it be other adults they sit with over dinner, tour guides, locals, non-English speaking people … all of which can be challenging and fun.  I guess travel puts kids into unfamiliar situations and this builds creativity, resilience, and great social skills.

Dion and her family with their guide Jack at Sable Alley in Botswana
Dion and her family with their guide Jack at Sable Alley in Botswana

Every family should experience…

Dare I say … an African adventure!

My top tip for travelling with kids is …

Be prepared for things not to go to plan! Something will go wrong at some stage and those are the days that make the best memories.

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