Five ideas for nature-inspired family trips in 2021

With big family trips off limits, now’s the perfect time to plan your next adventure — and enjoy wild escapes on your doorstep in the meantime.

By Maria Pieri
Published 15 Mar 2021, 06:07 GMT, Updated 15 Mar 2021, 14:11 GMT
With its rich wildlife and vast, open spaces, Kenya is a popular choice for adventurous families ...

With its rich wildlife and vast, open spaces, Kenya is a popular choice for adventurous families looking for a wild escape.

Photograph by AWL Images

You might come for the theme parks, but no family trip to Florida is complete without a visit to the Everglades National Park. This subtropical preserve offers a range of activities, from hiking and canoeing to kayaking and freshwater and saltwater fishing. But to really get closer to what the park can offer, take an eco-tour safari with trained naturalists who’ll guide you through the Everglades in search of alligators, birds, snakes, plants and mammals.

Nothing quite compares to a traditional safari experience, however, and the chance to spot the likes of lions and elephants is always a winner with curious-minded kids. Conservation-focused eco-tour company Great Plains has three new offerings at Mara Nyika Camp in Kenya: two family suites, a two-bedroom villa located in the trees and the Mara Jahazi Suite, available from mid 2021. Children aged five and upwards can also join The Young Explorers Program, where they can learn basic survival and conservation skills, track animal prints and head out to learn about vegetation and wildlife. For every family hosted, Great Plains sets funds aside to host local children in its Conservation Camps. 

Cookson Adventures has seen a rise in demand for ‘educational travel’ with an emphasis on trips where specialist adventure guides double as tutors, keeping children entertained while parents try their hand at intrepid activities such as ice climbing or scuba diving. One such multi-generational trip was organised to the Antarctic Peninsula, with an adventure guide invited along to manage a separate itinerary for the children. The parents hiked along the peninsula with climate scientists, while the children set off in kayaks on educational treasure hunts, admiring the resident penguins and looking for chunks of thousand-year-old black glacial ice to put in their drinks. Founder, Henry Cookson, said, “Our clients are often successful businesspeople taking time out to explore with their families, investing in teaching their children powerful lessons through travel. That’s why we often weave activities with educational value into their handcrafted itineraries.”

You don’t have to go as far as Antarctica, though, with stays in Jura, in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, also available. Luxury travel company Black Tomato can organise a trip to recently opened Ardfin, a hotel set in 12,000 acres of beautiful, stag-dotted wilderness. Families can don their walking boots for a host of outdoor activities, including foraging, fishing, sailing and hiking. There’s also the chance to swot up on the local wildlife and learn about their habitats in the company of naturalists. Puffins, whales, seals and gannets are all found here. Adults can explore whisky trails and distilleries or indulge in a round of golf. 

In June, the Wildlife Trust launches its 30 Days Wild programme, which aims to get young travellers excited about wild adventures. The idea? Find a different wild way to spend each day and help the trust in its goal of raising £30m to help protect 30% of land and sea by 2030. Activities in the month-long challenge include the Big Wild Breakfast, where you can record how much wildlife you can spot in 30 minutes outdoors with your morning coffee. An estimated 650,000 people joined last year’s programme, so why not download the app and get involved? 

Published in the April 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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