Family vacations with an educational twist
The big wide world is a classroom. It gives you so much scope for inspiring children and awakening their curiosity. Here are some suggestions for educational family vacations to stimulate young minds; vacations where they can experience different cultures, broaden their horizons, expand their interests and learn new skills. Our family travel specialists understand what works best for children of different ages and can recommend experiences that you and your young adventurers will never forget.
Sydney’s Taronga Zoo is the perfect start to your Australian adventure – we can take you behind the scenes to get up close to the indigenous wildlife and learn about it from the experts. Head into the bush and encounter wild wallabies, cockatoos and wombats in the heart of the Blue Mountains at Wolgan Valley. Travel to Kangaroo Island, often dubbed Australia's Galapagos or ‘the zoo without fences’. Marvel at kangaroos, echidnas, fur seals and sealions in their own environments and learn more about them from the in-house naturalists.
Don a cowboy hat for an unforgettable experience in Western style riding. First you will be paired up with a horse picked especially for you, then you’ll learn how to approach, groom and look after your horse and get to know them. When it is time to saddle up and head off toward the horizon you'll be under the watchful eye of Allyson and her team who will give tips on good riding technique along the way.
A stay at San Camp in the Makgadkgadi Pans opens visitors' eyes to the ecology of this beguiling corner of Botswana. Your expert naturalist guide will explain the history of the area – from its beginnings as a giant superlake, to its current incarnation as miles and miles of dazzling white pans, covered in a fragile salt crust. A quad-bike excursion onto the pans reveals their secrets – from Stone Age arrowheads and tools to the salt crusted skeletons of flamingos. As the sun sets, the moon rises simultaneously – a phenomenon seen only on areas as flat as this.
The underwater realm is a fascinating place, and while snorkeling can be a great way to get a glimpse at this world, the best way to truly experience it, is by being totally submerged. Learn to scuba dive with Aquanauts Dive center located right next door to Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada. They offer introductory PADI ‘Bubblemaker courses’ for children from the age of 8 years old upwards. For something unique, dive or snorkel at the Underwater Sculpture Park where 65 sculptures create an artificial reef.
Whoosh, a sea lion glides past you blowing bubbles as he elegantly turns somersaults, a lava lizard does energetic press-ups and a blue-footed boobie is doing a courting dance. One of the most enthralling wildlife havens in the world, this archipelago of islands straddles the equator 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. The variety of sub-species here inspired Darwin to write his ground breaking book The Origin of Species and this wildlife utopia may just inspire you to think differently about the world too.
There can be no better way to view game up close than on horseback – at Horizon Horseback in South Africa’s Waterberg area, you’ll do just that! After being introduced to your mount, you will saddle up and head out – the horses are responsive and easy to ride – perfect for all abilities. A highlight of the trip is taking a dip with your horse, saddles are removed and the horses will plunge into clear water to cool off, with riders still on board! Come for a week as a beginner and leave as a riding aficionado, with some wonderful experiences under your belt!
For older children, the strange and curious landscapes of Iceland are a living laboratory. Watch them marvel at volcanoes and erupting geysers, hide behind waterfalls and climb magnificent glaciers along Iceland’s rugged southern coastline, all of which is within easy reach of the dynamic capital Reykjavik. Go whale and puffin watching, horse-trekking across lava-fields, play hide and seek in the steam at the Blue Lagoon and discover the myths and legends of Iceland’s magical hidden people.
Steeped in history, culture and tradition, Japan is the perfect destination for an educational vacation to Asia. With direct flights from London it is easily accessible and our guides can immerse your children in this spectacular nation and its stark contrasts between ancient and modern. Visit a sumo stable, learn about the history of the Samurai warriors and soak up the modern phenomenon of Manga and Anime in downtown Tokyo.
Jordan combines culture, adventure and relaxation making it perfect for a family vacation. This fascinating country is home to one of the seven modern wonders of the world; the stunning ancient city of Petra. As well as Petra there are a number of Roman ruins including Jerash, where you can settle into watching the Gladiators race round the ring before exploring the sites of one of the best preserved Roman cities. Continue your vacation with an adventure through Wadi Rum in a 4 wheel drive, en route to finish you trip with some relaxation at the Dead Sea.
A trip to the world-renowned Fugitive’s Drift Lodge and Guesthouse is not only a wonderfully relaxing trip to one of South Africa’s most picturesque regions; it’s also an education in itself. With battlefield tours on offer to all guests, you can visit most of the Zulu war battle sites in the region, in particular the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. The Battlefield tours are led by Andrew Rattray, the son of the legendary David Rattray and are a fascinating insight into the history of the Zulu war from both Anglo and Zulu perspectives.
Visit exotic Kerala, a land of spices, elephants and ideal for a fun packed family adventure. Your children will explore a spice plantation and learn where those magical spices that end up in their kitchen come from. Then head inland to wander through a rubber plantation on your own elephant and maybe learn a few elephant commands! Finally to the backwaters, where you can board a houseboat and discover the rural countryside quite different from anything they would have seen before.
With customized surf instruction and all the equipment you’ll need right on site, the whole family can hit the waves off the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island. At Long Beach Lodge, they really know their stuff and will ensure the children and adults alike have the thrill of taking to the surf in safety. There's even a welcome hot tub and sauna to warm up in afterwards if it gets a little chilly out there.
Why not take yourself on an Inca adventure? Take in Cuzco’s Spanish and Inca architecture and its melting-pot of influences, then wander round the terraced walls in the Sacred Valley, discover traditional textiles in colorful indigenous markets, pay a visit to the fortress of Ollantaytambo and explore the unmissable ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. Climb Huayna Picchu mountain for the view of the gods and marvel at the exquisite empire in the clouds built over 800 years ago.
Saruni Mara’s “Warrior for a Week” program is a wonderful introduction to the Samburu warrior way of life – guided and accompanied, you will explore the incredible habitat of the Kalama region in Northern Kenya. During the week, you will learn wilderness skills such as how to track animals from spoor and scent, how to build a comfortable bush camp using just natural materials and how to use bows, arrows, spears and pangas. Go on patrol with the rangers, visit their villages, learn about their way of life and how to see the environment through the eyes of a warrior.
The Valley of the Temples is a splendid archaeological park of eight temples (and various other remains) built between about 510 BC and 430 BC. Apart from the Temple of Asclepius (the God of Medicine), which is to be found on the banks of the Akragas river, all are situated in the same area on rocky crests south of modern day Agrigento (not really in a Valley at all!). Kids can learn to be mini archaeologists as they venture for treasure at the site and learn about restoration. Stay at Verdura Resort, just 40km from the site.