TOP 20 ULTIMATE KIDS EXPERIENCES
Children grow up very quickly, so here are twenty must-do experiences to enjoy with your kids before they leave home on their own travels.
WORDS Sheriden Rhodes IMAGES Peregrine Adventures
SMELL THE WHALE'S BREATH, ALASKA
Imagine getting that close to a whale you can smell its breath. Un-Cruise Adventures’, 'Discoverers' Glacier Country expedition' gets kids up close and personal not only with whales but grizzly and black bears, mountain goats, bald eagles and wolves in the United States’ largest national forest. Kids can watch porpoises swimming in the yacht's wake, get drenched by the spray of a roaring waterfall, smell a whale's breath as it surfaces and hear them sing underwater, and hear the thunder of glaciers calving ice into the sea aboard the upscale, 36-guest yacht Safari Explorer in remote Southeast Alaska. With the line’s Family Discoveries program, children eight to 13 years old receive a $500 savings off regular fare.
TOBOGGAN DOWN THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA, BEIJING
Watch as your kids tear down the Great Wall of China, one of the new 'Wonders of the World'. The family can ride a cable car, take a walk along the impressive ramparts and toboggan down the Mutianya section. The tour also sees kids try their hand at kite making and flying, take calligraphy lessons and hug a panda in Chengdu.
SNOWBALL FIGHT ATOP A GLACIER, BRITISH COLOMBIA, CANADA
The exclusive Nimmo Bay Resort offers the ultimate kid's adventure with 40 thousand square kilometres of wilderness smack bang in the middle of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. So remote you need to chopper in, this luxury resort sees small guests kayaking to watch baby bear cubs and their mums along rocky beaches, swimming in waterfall plunge pools, taking fly fishing lessons, joining late night kayak trips to see the phosphorescence and choppering to the top of a glacier for tobogganing and snowball fights.
FOLLOW IN COUSTEAU'S FLIPPERS, FIJI
Imagine the look of wonder on your children's faces as they explore underwater dive sites with whimsical names like Chimneys and Alice in Wonderland with its mushroom-shaped corals, sea fans, clown fish, vivid crinoids and intricate sea sponges. Fiji is known as the soft coral capital of the world, and thereâ‚¬s arguably no better place for kids to learn to dive than Jean Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort (JMCFIR), named after the son of famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. Padi Dive Courses are offered for kids 10 years and over, children as young as eight can learn fun bubble making in the pool, while littlies can get started by snorkeling. As they progress kids can join parents diving Namana Marine Reserve, considered by Cousteau to be one of the world's top 10 dive sites. Parents meanwhile can dine by lantern light, enjoy picnics on their own private island safe in the knowledge their kids are in the best possible hands with dedicated nannies and the South Pacificâ‚¬'s best kids club.
Main image: Exploring Uluru
Above: Lunch on a glacier at Nimmo Bay
WALK WITH LIONS; CASELA NATURE PARK MAURITIUS
Kids can take the king of the jungle for a walk along the banks of Riviere du Rempart at the 1000-acre Casela Nature Park. In the company of experienced handlers, children (1.5m and over 14 years) gain an insight into the lives and habits of these regal creatures as well as interact with cheetahs and tigers. Afterwards relive the encounter back at your four-bedroom pool villa at the beachfront Club Med Plantation d'Albion, which serves up contemporary Creole cuisine and spa treatments with waves crashing beneath the treatment rooms.
ATTEND GLADIATOR SCHOOL AT THE COLOSSEUM, ROME
Children can don tunics, belt and a wooden sword and be instructed in the techniques of gladiatorial sword fighting as part of an Italian family adventure. On a private tour, families are shown the gladiator's barracks and have access to the incredible network of tunnels underneath the stadium, where wild animals, performers and gladiators were gathered before going into battle. Other highlights include pizza making, Rome in 3D at the Time Elevator and a behind the scenes tour of a Florentine gelateria.
TREK THE ELUSIVE KIWI, NZ
Kids can join Kiwi expert Dr John McLennan and his team in tracking the elusive native bird at the luxurious Cape Kidnappers in Hawkes Bay. On small, guided tours with Dr McLennan, radio tracking and monitoring devices allow kids to get up-close to one of New Zealand's most endangered and rare birds.
POOH WALKS, AFRICA
Nearly all kids at one stage or another are fascinated with bodily waste so you can imagine how popular andBeyond's 'pooh' walks and safaris are with children. AndBeyond operates 33 private game lodges in five African countries including 12 renowned for their children's programs. While parents enjoy the morning and evening game drives, kids are sent on their own special safari where they learn why a giraffe has a long neck, how to make elephant dung cookies, bug collecting and tracking for beginners. Parents are also spoiled with surprise picnic breakfasts in the middle of nowhere, sunset drinks, bush banquets and candlelit baths drawn and waiting for guests returning from safari.
BECOME KING OF YOUR OWN SNOW FORT, VAIL COLORADO
Pint-size snow bunnies will love the chance to sit atop the Kidtopia throne at Keystone's famous Snow Fort. Located on Dercum Mountain, children can play in a maze, climb atop snowy towers and lord it over the incredible man-made ski fort. Kidtopia is held throughout the season with festivities ranging from face painting, The Lost Circus Production, through to ice skating lessons and fireworks at the fort. Stay at luxury ski in, ski out condominiums or the Keystone Lodge and Spa.
HUNT FOR TRUFFLES, UMBRIA
Experience one of Italy's true delicacies when you and the kids join a traditional truffle hunter and his dog and discover the fun, authentic methods used to cultivate truffles. Afterwards see how these delicacies are used in many fabulous Italian recipes.
Above: Walk with lions
BECOME A MAASAI WARRIOR, KENYA
Walk with a Samburu Masai on an escorted luxury camping safari through Samburu National Park. Here the famous Maasai tribes still live a traditional life: clothed in red blankets, walking with no shoes, residing in huts made of cow dung and practicing their customary dance which includes high jumping. Visit the Rhino Sanctuary and stay at Elsa's Kope Meru National Park in the five-star dedicated family cottage.
WALK THE RED CARPET, BEVERLEY HILLS
Future stars can dazzle the paparazzi with sunglasses, boas and top hats as part of the Beverly Hills Hotel 'Little Legends' package. Child guests receive a photo taken in front of the famous hotel's paparazzi wall, a 'Little Legends' t-shirt, chocolate star amenity, 'V.V.I.P' card good for sodas throughout the hotel, and an ice cream sundae or milkshake in the Fountain Coffee Shop.
DRIVE A THREE-TONNE BEAUTY, THAILAND
There are no rear lights, no windshield wipers and you won't get much in the trunk except water, but at northern Thailand's luxurious Anantara Golden Triangle Resort and Spa, young guests (eight and over) can pass their driving test in three days - on the back of an elephant. The mahout (elephant driver) training course at the onsite Elephant Camp includes 32 elephants, all of whom have been rescued from the streets of Bangkok and other Thai cities. On passing their test, trainees receive an elephant dung paper certificate of competence and a monogrammed mohom mahout shirt.
SCALE 500FT DUNES, SOUTHERN MOROCCO
Channel Lawrence of Arabia as the family explores the stunning desert of Southern Morocco with a private tented camp. The experience includes camel trekking in the desert, climbing huge dunes in Erg Chebbi and nights spent under a blanket of stars. Watch as the kids tumble down the magnificent caramel colored dunes - a magical way to arrive in your luxury camp.
HANG OUT WITH ORANGUTANS, SUMATRA AND BORNEO
See orangutans up close and personal in the wild jungles of Borneo and Sumatra on exclusive expeditions led by expert guides, knowing you are also contributing to help save the awesome red ape from extinction. Kids get to ride on elephants, trek remote jungles, and travel and stay on klotoks (river boats) and at eco lodges.
Above: Kids learing from the Maasai
Riding the ships of the desert
From above: Nimmo Bay
Releasing a turtle at Vomo
Santa's Resort, Iceland
TREK TO THE EDGE OF A VOLCANO, CENTRAL JAVA
Make the adventurous trek (three difficulty levels available) with the family to the summit of Mt Telomoyo. Enjoy a table service lunch as you survey incredible views of the surrounding volcanoes and villages. Afterwards celebrate back at your sprawling villa at MesaStila, a leading Javanese wellness retreat. The 22-villa property is located on a centuries old coffee plantation, which still houses the former residence of a Javanese prince.
VISIT FATHER CHRISTMAS, FINLAND
Take wide-eyed children to see Santa, the elves and reindeers preparing for Christmas. As part of this incredible experience, families stay in wilderness cabins and go dog sledding through a winter wonderland – with mum and dad driving the dogs and the kids snug in the sled.
SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS, ICELAND
Explore the rugged beauty of Iceland and watch the skies come alive at night with an astronomy expert on-hand. The new Icelandic Northern Lights – Astronomy Kids tour, for children eight and above, takes families away from pollution zones to get a fantastic view of the phenomenon, with expert commentary from astronomers. The tour also visits the active volcanoes and lava fields of Reykjanes peninsula, the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, and the spectacular Great Geyser in the Haukadular Valley.
RELEASE TURTLES BACK INTO THE WILD, VOMO ISLAND FIJI
Young guests learn how to protect the turtle’s traditional breeding grounds and save these gorgeous creatures from extinction as part of Vomo Island Resort’s Hawkesbill Turtle Awareness program. If the timing’s right, children can also help release these special creatures back into the wild. Vomo’s Turtle kids club is soon to become a five-star, year-round facility, allowing parents to relax by the pool, snorkel and indulge in heavenly Senekai Spa treatments.
EXPLORE A TOMB UNDER THE GREAT PYRAMID, EGYPT
As part of Abercrombie & Kent’s Egypt program, kids can go on a treasure hunt in Cairo’s Khan El Khalili bazaar, ride a donkey to the Valley of the Kings, see Tutankhamun’s treasures and explore a tomb under the Great Pyramid.