Wildlife adventure holidays are a great option for families with kids of all ages. Few children, no matter their age, can fail to be excited by seeing a herd of elephants in the wild of spotting a tiger lurking in the jungle. Going on a wildlife holiday brings focus to the trip and can get the whole family excited as they try to spot whale sharks swimming alongside their boat or multi-coloured birds hiding in the trees. We’ve taken a handful of holidays that have definitely enjoyed a wildlife focus; we searched for Black bears in Canada, released baby turtles back into the ocean in Sri Lanka and saw the migrating Monarch Butterflies in Mexico. All were amazing experiences and ones that the kids still talk about. Here are some of our favourite wildlife adventure holidays that we’ve done and others that are on our list!
Amazing wildlife holidays for families
Sri Lanka is one of Asia’s great wildlife destinations; the only country in the world where you can see the biggest land animal, the elephant, and the largest marine mammal, the blue whale, in one day. The island boasts 22 national parks and is home to the largest population of leopard in the world. The parks of Minneriya and Uda Walawe are home to huge herds of elephants, Yala is the best place to spot leopards, Sinharaja is home to hundreds of brightly coloured birds and the elusive sloth bear is best sighted at Wilpattu. The waters surrounding Sri Lanka are equally rich in wildlife; on the north west coast you can watch dolphins surf the waves and leap from the water while the waters off the southern coast is where you’ll find the might blue whale swimming. For something a little less dramatic but equally thrilling for young kids, visit one of the turtle conservation centres along the south coast for a chance to help release baby turtles back into the ocean. If you want to concentrate on two of the country’s stars, NatureTrek Wildlife Holidays organises a trip that focuses on Blue whales and leopards.
Nepal might be famous for its mountains and trekking (we went on a brilliant family trek in the lower Annapurnas when the kids were little) but it’s also home to a large variety of wildlife. Chitwan National Park, in the Terai Lowlands of south-central Nepal, was the first National Park in the country and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s home to over 50 mammal species, 525 bird species and more than 50 reptiles and amphibians. If you’ve got the next David Attenborough in your family then they’ll be thrilled to find elephants, pythons, crocodiles, deer and Technicolor birds that call this park home. What will really get them talking to their friends back home, however, is spotting the endangered one-horned rhino or the elusive Bengal tiger. For years, by far the most popular safari here was on elephant back but the park has now stopped this practice and the elephants are now being used as walking guides through the jungle. For the chance to spend more time with these gentle giants, book at stay at the Tiger Tops Elephant Camp located at the edge of the park.
Magical Malawi is a wonderful destination for a family wildlife adventure. There are few places in Africa where you can take young kids on a game walk, however you can here. One place that offers daily ranger-led game walks is Game Haven Lodge where the absence of any dangerous animals nearby (such as leopards and lions) means that even the youngest of kids can wander along looking for wildlife. Amazing animals that you might spot include zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and the country’s rare antelopes – the Sable, Roan and Nyala. Malawi’s star attraction, Lake Malawi, also makes for a brilliant wildlife destination. Here, the waters of the third largest lake in Africa, teem with over 500 species of fish. The surrounding areas are home to bird species including the fish eagle, hornbills, kestrels and nightjars as well as other animals such as hippos and monkeys.
Away from the cities and the beach resorts Mexico offers some brilliant wildlife adventures for families. One completely unique wildlife experience is the Monarch Butterflies who embark on their annual migration to Mexico every October through March before heading back to North America. Every year the butterflies arrive en masse to the same forests and same trees in the highlands of Michoacan and the state of Mexico, turning the leaves into a fluttering, orange show.
Another once-in-a-lifetime experience takes place just off the Yucatan Peninsula where docile whale sharks gather every summer for feeding. A short boat trip from the coast takes you to place where you can swim and snorkel alongside these gentle giants. For whales of a different kind head to the Baja Peninsula where every year, from late December to late March, hundreds of whales migrate from the frozen waters of the Arctic for some winter sun. Of the 11 species of whale in the world, eight can be seen in the waters surrounding Los Cabos including minke, bryde, fin, humpback and gray whales.
Few countries can boast the variety of wildlife that India has. India is famous for its elephants and tigers, obviously, but this country is home to a veritable smorgasbord of animals from Europe, Asia and ancient Gondwana. The country boasts some 400 species of mammals, 1250 species of birds, nearly 700 species of reptiles and amphibians and thousands of fish. Some of the best national parks for wildlife spotting include Ranthambore National Park where leopards, wild boar, sambar, cheetal, sloth bears and tigers roam the grounds. The park itself is a fascinating to explore with a large fort standing centre stage and old hunting pavilions dotting the grounds that were once used by the royals of Jaipur. Another great wildlife park to visit with children is Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The park requires some effort to get to but once you’re there you’ll be rewarded with wild elephants, swamp deer, wild buffalo, gaur and the great Indian rhino.
Canada is a wonderful wildlife destination. Its huge size means it enjoys a large diversity of habitats and ecosystems home to an incredible variety of animals from the Narwhal and the Beluga to Black bears, caribou, moose and beavers. One of our favourite wildlife experiences in Canada was seeing the Vancouver Island black bear during the summer but you have 39 national parks and 8 reserves in Canada to choose from, each with its own story to tell and its own unique residents.
Grasslands National Park in south Saskatchewan is best known for being the only place in the country where you can see the comical prairie dog and in central Saskatchewan is Prince Albert National Park, home to a free-ranging bison herd. The oldest national park in Canada, Banff National Park, is where you can spot elk, deer, black bears and grizzly bears, moose and even mountain sheep. For something completely different, venture to Churchill, a town of less than 1,000 people on the shore of Hudson Bay in Manitoba. If you make this journey north in the summer you’ll be rewarded with thousands of beluga whales who arrive in surrounding waters between July and August – you can even swim with them if you like. Visit in late autumn and the Belugas will have gone but the polar bears will have arrived, a decent trade off don’t you think?!
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