After almost two years of lockdowns, home-schooling, limited overseas travel opportunities and lost holidays, families are relishing the chance to get away again. For many, priorities have shifted, and travellers are now looking for more enriching escapes; the days of sun loungers and water parks have been swapped for trips that are educational, immersive, sustainable and, of course, fun. These adventure-packed itineraries promise all this and more in some of the world’s most breathtaking destinations.
1. Discover the wildlife of Namibia
Perfect for families keen to stay in their own bubble, this 13-night, self-drive adventure is designed for those with children aged six and over. It includes a visit to the Okonjima Private Reserve’s AfriCat Foundation, a charity dedicated to the conservation of the continent’s big cats, along with superb wildlife-watching opportunities in Etosha National Park — elephants, lions, leopards, black rhinos, giraffes, Burchell’s zebras and wildebeest to name just a few — and stops in the sweeping dunes of the Namib Desert and Skeleton Coast with its seals and shipwrecks. Nights are spent in atmospheric lodges and glamping tents. From £2,895 per adult, £2,195 per child, full board, including all transport and some activities. familiesworldwide.co.uk
2. Journey through Laos by rail
This two-week, tailor-made itinerary can, from this winter, include part of the new China-Laos railway connecting the Laotian capital Vientiane with destinations across the country’s northern border. Travelling on state-of-the-art modern electric bullet trains, it offers an eco-friendlier alternative to bone-rattling road journeys or domestic flights and is ideal for families keen to explore Laos at a gentle pace. The trip takes in the country’s temples, markets and historic sites, while activities include hands-on rice-growing experience at a community-run enterprise. Two weeks from £12,975 for a family of four, based on shared family accommodation, half board and all transport. stubbornmuletravel.com
3. Farming for the future in Denmark
This Copenhagen-based experience — one of luxury operator Black Tomato’s new Field Trip collection, aimed at families with older children (ages 14-plus) — includes the chance to learn all about chemical-free contemporary farming methods with Søren Wiuff, one of Denmark’s most forward-thinking farmers and a supplier to the likes of Noma, which was crowned the World’s Best Restaurant earlier this year. Wiuff will lead the way in an inspirational, hands-on class where the concepts of food waste and sustainability are very much at the fore of this eye-opening itinerary. Indeed, sustainability is a hallmark of many of Black Tomato’s Field Trip escapes, which are all tailor-made to suit the individual family. Think joining an anti-poaching patrol in Kenya or learning about waste production and its environmental impact in busy, bustling Cairo. Other topics including the arts, language and culture, and earth sciences. The Copenhagen trip starts at £5,995 per person for five days at the Nimb Hotel, including a half-day Field Trip experience with Søren Wiuff, private transfers and breakfast.
4. Explore a hidden side of Patagonia
This family adventure (best for children aged 12-plus) takes in parts of the Route of Parks, the world’s largest-ever conservation project, protecting 24 different ecosystems and 60 communities in Chilean Patagonia. Families will spend more than two weeks in the great outdoors, exploring southern Chile’s awe-inspiring landscapes by foot, kayak, bike, raft and on horseback as well as four wheel drive vehicle. Guided walks in the mountains of Cerro Castillo National Park might also throw up sightings the seriously endangered national animal, the South Andean deer. Weather-wise, this is a fantastic trip to take during the Easter school holidays — cooler temperatures and lighter winds make April the ideal time to visit Patagonia. From £3,880 per person based on a family of four, with 13 nights’ B&B accommodation, some meals, all transport and some guided activities. pura-aventura.com
5. Arctic glamping in Sweden
Complete with an aurora-viewing window and even a floating sauna, your fantasy snowy wilderness retreat awaits on this thrilling new five-day trip created for families with children aged four-plus, travelling in a group of eight. Two nights are spent in a lavvu (a traditional tepee used by the nomadic Sami people), while the remainder of the trip is spent in a luxury log cabin in the woods. Activities include wildlife-spotting, with the chance to see moose and reindeer, learning how to make Sami flatbread and heading out on both a snowmobile safari and a dog-sledding adventure. From £6,699 (under-11s price to come) including two nights at the Arctic Safari Camp and two nights at the Arctic Retreat, full board, with activities. offthemaptravel.com
6. Adventure in the Scottish Highlands
Fresh air and epic scenery abound in this active family adventure through the Highlands, with highlights including paddling a stretch of the Caledonian Canal, discovering the legends of Loch Ness and a private lakeside castle visit for the ultimate in Scottish history lessons. There’s also a folk museum tour in the Cairngorms National Park and several hikes of up to four hours each — lace up your boots to summit Creag Bheag for glorious national park and loch views. Optional extras include horse-riding, gallery visits and a trip to Aviemore, Scotland’s best-known ski resort. From £1,360 per adult and £1,224 per child, including five nights B&B, some dinners, transport and some activities. intrepidtravel.com
Published in the January/February 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)