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Tailormade family holidays: 8 destination ideas

In today’s fast-paced world, what better way to spend quality time with close family and friends than on a wildlife holiday in tranquil natural surroundings … and, better still, a wildlife holiday tailored to your family’s own requirements and needs! Our tailormade team of wildlife travel experts know that every family has a different travelling pace and agenda, which is why every family holiday we design is unique! We can work to a specific budget, incorporating special requests or that special occasion, be it a birthday, a celebration of exam results or a special family Christmas away. There are many destinations that we arrange family wildlife holidays to; here we suggest eight excellent options, including several that are closer to home if you would prefer not to take a long-haul flight. We hope you like them and look forward to being able to help you soon, especially if you are keen to get away over the summer half-term or during the long summer break that lies ahead.

Wildebeest, Masai Mara, Kenya

Wildebeest, Masai Mara, Kenya

Kenya – The Great Migration

Kenya has proved to be a firm favourite for Tailormade Naturetrekking families! The country is at its very best during the school holiday period from July to September and is also surprisingly good value for money at this time. During this period the Great Migration into the Masai Mara occurs, sometimes in quite spectacular fashion as the herds cross the Mara River! One of the main ‘plus points’ of a Kenyan family safari at this time is that the wildlife is so easy to see, ensuring that your family, especially the children, are kept excited and engaged. In addition to the vast hoofed herds of Blue Wildebeest and Plains (Grant’s) Zebra which spread out across the Masai Mara, there are large numbers of expectant predators including Lion, Leopard and Cheetah which are sure to excite all members of the family! If you want to cut down on travel time, but would like to visit another contrasting Kenyan location, we suggest Lake Nakuru, where you can enjoy peaceful lakeside wildlife and the possibility of thousands of Greater and Lesser Flamingoes which can line the shores of the lake in a quite spectacular sea of pink!

Brown Bears, Finland

Brown Bears, Finland

Sweden & Finland – Brown Bears & other wildlife

If you are looking for an exciting family wildlife adventure that doesn’t involve long-haul travel, then a visit to one of the Scandinavian countries of Sweden or Finland should be a high priority! Within just a couple of hours of leaving the UK, you will find yourself in a wonderfully scenic and enchanting forest setting. Our Bear Lodge in Sweden overlooks a stunning lake, where swimming, boating or fishing, followed by a soothing sauna, is the order of the day. Your hosts will attend to your every need, ensuring all the family are well looked after… and well fed! Wildlife activities focus around a small hide where you have an excellent chance of viewing Brown Bears in their natural habitat. Nature walks are also extremely popular, with possible highlights being Beaver, Elk and a variety of woodland birds. Should you wish to extend your holiday to perhaps a week away, there are excellent family-friendly activities which can easily be incorporated within your itinerary. Canoeing is a family favourite, or why not try a Beaver safari or an evening deep in the Swedish forests listening for the howls of the local Wolf pack! Finland, too, offers excellent Bear-watching opportunities and, with sightings virtually guaranteed, it makes a particularly attractive holiday destination for families with younger children (minimum age 8 years). Here you stay in a friendly, comfortable and cosy guesthouse, where activities are centred on nights in the Bear Hide. During the summer months, mothers with playful cubs are a common sight, whilst Elk (Moose) may also pay a visit to the forest clearing which, in May and June, is also alive with the sound of birdsong.

Leopard, India

Leopard, India

Southern India

India may not strike you as an obvious choice for a family holiday … however, India’s strong family-oriented culture ensures that children (and older family members!) are received with smiles and open arms throughout the country. We think that the south of India is best-suited to a family adventure since it is a little more relaxed (perhaps thanks to the sub-tropical environment!) than the north. Nargarhole and Periyar National Parks are two of the standout wildlife locations, each offering the chance to see Tiger as well as plenty of other mammal species, amongst them Leopard, Asian Elephant and Gaur (Asian Bison), plus a host of colourful birds. Combine this with a relaxing rice-boat cruise along Kerala’s famous backwaters, a few nights on a tea plantation and some quality time relaxing on the beach and you have a truly diverse and richly flavoured family adventure!

Iberian Wolf, Tino Garcia

Iberian Wolf, Tino Garcia

Northern Spain – Montaña Palentina

The mountains of ‘Montaña Palentina’ in northern Spain, wedged between the Picos de Europa National Park to the north and the vast cereal-producing belt of Castilla y Leon to the south, are stunningly wild, virtually uninhabited and seldom visited. Living in these mountains we find some of Europe’s top predators: Cantabrian Brown Bear, Iberian Wolf and Wildcat, as well as innumerable birds, plants and butterflies. Local guide and passionate naturalist, Tino Garcia (and his wife Rosa), along with expert bilingual local naturalist guide, Laura Benito, host Naturetrek Wolf-watching groups at their three cosy terraced farm cottages, plied with Rosa’s tasty cooking and delicious local wines each day. Thankfully they are open to visits from families and are happy to adjust the activities to suit all age groups, ensuring that all the family enjoys this enchanting destination with such varied wildlife possibilities, as well as stunning walks, jeep safaris and, depending on the time of year, al fresco swimming, snow-shoeing or even informal Spanish lessons or a sunset barbecue and bivouac! Suffice to say, this area is perfect for a short wildlife break under expert leadership where all the family share either one or two of Tino and Rosa's quaint cottages, and can delight in the wildlife and stunning surroundings!

White Pelicans, Danube Delta, Romania

White Pelicans, Danube Delta, Romania

Romania – Count Dracula, Werewolves & other wildlife!

What child would turn down a family holiday to the mist-shrouded mountains of Transylvania and the chance to immerse themselves in the folklore and legend of this beautiful region of Romania? Although werewolves are difficult to locate these days, children will love the chance to explore the catacombs of Castle Bran ̶ the alleged haunt of 'Vlad the Impaler' on whom the Dracula stories are based ̶ and then join their wildlife-watching parents in search of Brown Bears and 'real' Wolves from specially constructed hides in the forest. Transylvania is a wonderful destination for parents and their children alike, but Romania also offers many other attractions ... amongst them the abundant birdlife of the Danube Delta (best explored from a floating hotel, or luxury island lodge if you'd prefer) and the nearby steppe wildlife of Dobrogea and the Babadag Plateau.

Giraffes, Zambia

Giraffes, Zambia

Zambia (or Zambia & Malawi)

For those parents or grandparents wishing to take their family on an African safari, Zambia's South Luangwa National Park is one of the most perfect destinations. Free from the crowds that blight some other African parks, the Luangwa Valley is home to a wonderful variety of 'big game' such as Lion, Hippo, Buffalo, Crawshay's Zebra, numerous Elephant and Thornicroft's Giraffe. The birdlife is equally superb, and includes dazzling colonies of Southern Carmine Bee-eaters from August to November. Children will love the night drives, which open up a whole new world of nocturnal wildlife ... and the chance to enjoy Leopards, African Civets, Honey Badgers, genets, bush-babies and a range of owls and nightjars. Families with children over the age of 12 should also consider joining a walking safari, the ultimate game-viewing experience and one that was pioneered in the Luangwa Valley. Finally, we would recommend rounding off your time in Zambia with a few nights in Livingstone, home to the spectacular Victoria Falls, one of the 'Seven Natural Wonders of the World' ... or, best of all, you could complement Zambia perfectly with an extension to Malawi to experience its special mountains and the sparkling and clear waters of Lake Malawi filled with tropical fish and ideal for snorkelling, swimming and kayaking.

Peru

Jaguar, Madre de Dios, Peru

Jaguar, Madre de Dios, Peru

From May, when British Airways will be offering a direct service between London and Lima, it is going to be far easier to whisk the entire family off to Peru for an exciting wildlife holiday there! Even better, the weather in this South American gem is at its best during our summer holiday period. Several outstanding lodges in the Amazon rainforest of Peru make it possible to experience this special environment in comfort, with outstanding guides offering a window into this mysterious world in which such exciting creatures as Jaguars, Brazilian Tapirs and Black Spider Monkeys may be found. The colourful gatherings of brightly coloured macaws and other parrots attracted to ‘clay-licks’ are another attraction, as are myriad smaller birds, insects and reptiles. Most family holidays that we design to the region tend to visit only a few locations (rather than packing too much in). However, it's worth also spending a few nights in Cusco – a city with plenty of cultural delights, as well as Andean paramo habitat nearby – while a visit to the world-famous archaeological site of Machu Picchu is a must! If you are travelling with adventurous teenagers, we would recommend walking a ‘mini Inca trail’ to allow those family members who choose to, to effectively walk the last day of the classic Inca Trail trek without the need to camp. Others may prefer to hike the full Inca Trail or to take the train, which winds its way through the mountains and offers breath-taking views on its way to the famous citadel! As ever, our team of tailormade specialists will be flexible to your needs, ensuring that every member of the family enjoys a wonderful holiday that will live long in the memory!

Other destinations

Other destinations ideal for families include Nepal, Sri Lanka, Costa Rica and Ecuador. Contact: please call Robin Smith to discuss any of the above options on 01962 733051 or email robin@naturetrek.co.uk