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Explore and Experience

If you have an adventurous spirit and are looking for a holiday everyone will talk about for years to come, be inspired by some of these great family experiences. Compiled by Amarlie Foster.


Discover Vietnam
Treat your kids to a mix of modern and ancient history as you explore Vietnam together. This fascinating cultural tour starts underground in Vietnam’s renowned claustrophobic Communist Chu Chi tunnel system; you’ll experience the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City by cyclo; travel down the Mekong Delta and wind your way through floating villages and markets; climb Sam Mountain for panoramic views of Vietnam and neighbouring Cambodia; and visit the famous Angkor temples of the ancient Cham civilisation. An elephant ride, traditional Apsara dancing, and perhaps even a hot air balloon flight also await. www.kumuka.com

Unravel Egypt
Intrepid Travel’s nine-day felucca tour takes in the ancient, iconic Pyramids of Giza, where you can discover the mysteries within the Egyptian Museum, including treasures from Tutankhamen’s tomb. Specially designed for families, this tour will have your kids riding camels and donkeys, exploring the villages along the West Bank and into the Valley of the Kings, Luxor and the tombs of the pharaohs. www.intrepidtravel.com

Explore India & safari!
Since 1993, Travel Indochina’s philosophy has been to capture the essence of Asia without the tourist traps. So get on board your rickshaw and explore vibrant and dynamic India on its 10-day ‘Pappadams and Palaces’ tour visiting Delhi, Agra and the Taj Mahal. Most people don’t think ‘jeep safari’ when they think of India, but safari you will on your dusk and dawn game drives through the Ranthambore National Park, the biggest national park in Northern India. This wildlife paradise is home to tigers, sloths, monkeys and even leopards, along with more than 30 other mammals and 300 bird species. Exploring local villages and the countryside, you will be accompanied by that iconic Indian animal – the elephant and his mahout! www.travelindochina.com.au

Costa Rica bound
See a sloth in the wild, perhaps spot caimans, ocelots and sea turtles on Trafalgar’s Costa Rican ‘Monkeys, Jungles and Volcanoes’, one of a select handful of Trafalgar’s newly introduced Family Experiences for 2012. From the wildlife haven Tortuguero National Park to the jungle zip-line experience at the coastal Manuel Antonio National Park, you will get close to rare and endangered birds and animals as well as visiting local families, tasting the fruits at banana and pineapple plantations, snorkelling with dolphins, kayaking through mangroves, horse riding, white water rafting and more. www.trafalgartours.com.au

Panda warriors
If your kids have been inspired by the culture of China as seen in Kung Fu Panda, try the 10-day Great Wall & Pandas trip from Selective Tours. This journey will have your kids flying kites at The Temple of Heaven and experiencing the best of modern and ancient Beijing and Shanghai. Visit Mutianyu, one of the lesser-known but no less spectacular sections of the Wall, free from the hordes of other tourists. From here, see first-hand the impressive Terracotta Warriors from the Tang Dynasty in Xi’an. Most importantly, have the chance to get up close and personal to the most endangered species on our planet, the giant panda, in their home of Chengdu. A fascinating experience for parents and children alike. www.selectivetours.com

Jungle fever
From dense rainforests to tropical islands, Borneo offers exotic wildlife spotting in abundance. Peregrine’s 10-day ‘Orang-utan-go Family Adventure’ offers village lodging with locals. Forty metres above ground, the canopy walk at the base of Mount Kinabalu is perfect for spotting birds and other wildlife. Meet the delightfully gentle residents of Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre and witness the morning feeding. Journeying via boat along Sabah’s longest river, see if you can spot all 10 of the primate species that inhabit this area, and maybe even the wild Borneo elephant! Leave your family’s mark in the beautiful Borneo wilderness and contribute to a better future through conservation tree planting. www.peregrineadventures.com

African exclusive
Go wild in untamed southern Africa while still enjoying luxurious accomodation. Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve is an exclusive, ecologically unspoilt reserve 500km east of Johannesburg. A wildlife oasis, Africa’s Big Five are regularly out and about, and completely uninhibited. At an arm’s distance and mere jaw-drop away, watch a herd of elephants feeding in the sunset or a pride of lions lounging in the grass. Take an excursion to a neighbouring village and explore the culture of the Shangaan people. Smaller kids are well catered to with the recent opening of the resort’s Elefun Centre. Providing animal talks, bushwalks, mapping, tracking and bushveld games, Sabi Sands will amaze and fascinate. Discover all this in first-class accommodation in the spectacular African wilderness. www.sabisands.co.za

White water in Waitomo
Cross off one of TripAdvisor’s 2011 Top Ten Adventure Tours in the World when you and your family experience white water rafting at its best in New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves. Spend a morning bounding down waterfalls, plunging into white water, rafting and cave tubing, or drift peacefully along the underground Ruakuri Cave. There is time for a walking exploration of this subterranean masterpiece, and a gallery of glow worms to light your way. Jump on board and explore New Zealand’s unique underground landscapes in one of the most exhilarating ways possible. Suitable for children 12 years and older. www.waitomo.com

Go Dutch
It’s not hard to be inspired by Cadel Evans and the picturesque European countryside. If you like cycling and want a family-friendly environment in which to give it a go, UTRACKS has designed a tour that’s perfect for families with kids aged seven to 11. You’ll cycle through Holland’s countryside at a relaxed pace, discovering towns such as Vianen and Gorinchem, as well as the famous cheese town of Gouda, with a visit to the spooky Castle Loevestein – used as a prison in the Middle Ages. Then it’s all aboard to try your sea legs as you sail to Kinderdijk and its 19 windmills. If you’d like to disappear for a week into Dutch-flavoured tranquillity with a dash of adventure, visit UTRACKS and get planning, www.utracks.com

See Everest and Nepal
Want to share a rite of passage with your teen? The Everest Teen Trek could be what you’re looking for. Imaginative Traveller has designed a family-friendly exploration of the Everest region over an 11-day tour including Kathmandu, Lukla and the holy ground of Thyangboche. The tour incorporates six days of steady walking, along with rest days so you can soak up the sights and glorious, fresh air in mountain villages like Namche Bazaar. From the hubbub and happy confusion of Kathmandu’s labyrinthine streets and Buddhist temples, to marvelling at the beautifully remote Everest and surrounding Himalayas, this is sure to be a bonding experience. www.imaginative-traveller.com

Riding in Wyoming
Giddy-up and mush! your way through Wyoming and America’s mountainous Mid-West. Your ‘Wild West, Cowboys and Buffalos’ tour will see you skirting the Great Salt Lake on horseback, floating down Snake River and exploring the world’s first national park, Yellowstone. True tastes of the wild west await you and your family when you stay overnight at a working dude ranch. Visiting these December holidays? Don’t let the mountains overshadow the winding Wind Rivers of Wyoming – this region sees far fewer crowds and can’t be beat on expedition dog sledding! Under expert guidance your family will learn the basic commands and techniques of sled control. Fall in love with those puppy-dog eyes and get hooked on winter wilderness. For more information about Wyoming adventures visit, www.trafalgartours.com.au and ww.dogsledadventures.com



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