Wildlife vacations for families


Wildlife watching en famille divides people into two camps. One that gets nervous at the mention of children, assuming that they will get bored, rowdy or upset the animals. Because adults always behave around wildlife perfectly, right? These wildlife vacation companies totally avoid school vacations because of the presence of Ďkidsí Ė as if they were like a plague of biting insects. And then you get the wildlife vacation companies that will bend over backwards to welcome families, young and old on their tours (although always check the minimum ages). They appreciate how bonding wildlife vacations for families can be and, ultimately, they understand the most important issue. That children are the conservationists of tomorrow, and so we need to share the wonders of nature with them now.

Top family wildlife vacations


Safari and seaside
There are few places that segue from safari to seaside so smoothly as Tanzania, with Saadani National Park a creature filled coastline. You can have elephants one day, and green turtles the next, all interspersed with swimming and snorkelling.Family wildlife vacations to the Galapagos and Costa Rica arenít short of a beach or two either.
See tigers while you can
Seeing a tiger in the wild is very emotional, but spotting one with your children is something that goes way beyond words. But itís not just a love thing. The tiger is highly endangered and may not even exist when they are adults. So given that our children are the future conservationists, showing them that tigers are more than tiggers, is vital.
Born to see Borneo
Borneo is brimming with wildlife surprises and family welcomes. The endemic orangutans are a treat, but little monkeys will also love proboscis monkeys, elephants and crocodiles along the banks of the Kinabatangan River. Other activities include climbing Mount Kinabalu with a local mountain guide, taking you through tropical rainforest and cloud forest, and then back down to sea level to
the beaches of
Mataking Island.
Madagascar (12a)
Donít be fooled by the cosiness of the movie. The real thing is suitable for over-12s only, and the A is for Active. Extreme temperatures, horrendous roads, basic conditions and bugs can be testing, but teens will have a blast. As well as the endemic lemurs, there are incredible hikes for all abilities, plus camping, kayaking, river expeditions, snorkelling and even kite surfing. Roll cameras.

Wildlife vacations advice for families


Amanda Marks, mum and also managing director of our supplier Tribes Travel, shares her advice for those seeking a wildlife vacation for families: ďI first took my children to Tanzania when my youngest was five. In the north itís quite easy to have your own driver guide and your own vehicle; if you have that then you can do what you like. I travelled with children aged five, eight, eleven and thirteen plus their parents Ė a group of ten. We had two vehicles and did what we wanted. You can do that in Kenya as well, but I think that Tanzaniaís northern circuit has more places to stop, so itís easier to break up the journey without traveling for miles and miles.
If you have the right guide youíll have a brilliant time. Ours had my youngest sat on his knee and he was driving the vehicle through the national park! Itís all about picking the right way to do a safari and choosing accommodation that has a pool. But if you choose the wrong places to stay and a guide not prepared for children, you wonít have a brilliant time, you wonít be able to let off steam at the end of the day and it can be quite boring if the children choose to tune out of the wildlife and are just sat in a car all day.Ē
Tom Brown from our bear watching specialist supplier, Natural World Safaris: "I recommend bear watching for families, especially in somewhere like Brook Falls, Alaska, where you might see 20-30 bears at one time fishing for salmon. A week-long trip of pure bear watching for kids, maybe not so much. But if you are building a bespoke trip with other activities such as kayaking, whale watching, and so on, then it definitely would be an attractive option for families".
Photo credits: [Safari & seaside - landscape: Michael R Perry] [Madagascar - landscape: Frank Vassen] [Tom Brown quote: Katmai National Park and Preserve]
Written by Catherine Mack
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