The Top Five Family Adventures for 2012

Most people enjoy a good adventure. Not everyone, however, thinks that they are capable of embarking on one.  When most people think of adventure travel an image of a single unshaven man in the jungle with a machete (or a fedora and a whip) comes to mind. Conversely, the term “family travel” conjures images of  all inclusive vacations to theme parks like Universal Studios and Disney World where adventure is simulated by tricking the senses with complex machines that actually employ intricate safety measures.

The truth is, not all adventure travel is dangerous. Most of it is actually quite educational. In the 21st century little of the world remains unexplored and families are just as capable of going on a good ol’ fashioned romp into the unknown as the bearded explorers of days past. These trips also provide an opportunity for parents to broaden their children’s knowledge of the world in a way that’s exciting and contribute to a life-long curiosity in other cultures and the natural world. Here are five trips from top-tier adventure companies designed to do just that.

Top Family Adventure #5: Madagascar

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After seeing any of the popular Dreamworks animated movies based on this exotic island, what child would not be excited about visiting the world’s fourth largest island? Madagascar is a cornucopia of exotic fauna and flora including seven of the ten varieties of the iconic Boab trees, the endemic lemur, and the exotic colour-changing chameleon. Smaller wildlife highlights include the hissing cockroach, Dracula ands, and the Giraffe-necked weevil–enough to satisfy the appetites of even the most entomological-mined youngsters.

With a reputation as an educational destination that will keep even the most distracted child entertained, family-oriented tourism has become well-developed. Reef and Rainforest Adventures, a company specializing in family wildlife adventures, offers several itineraries from departing from London for around  $4,800 USD per adult and $3,900 USD per child to $7,000 USD per adult and $4,800 USD per child.

Top Family Adventure #4: Thailand

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Floating markets, golden-roofed temples, white-water rafting, cave-kayaking, elephant riding, jungle trekking, ancient ruins, and world-class zippiness are all on the itinerary for a good visit to Thailand. That’s before even thinking about the incredible cuisine and white-sand beaches. A boom in tourism over the past two decades has enabled this country of exotic adventure to develop more and more resources for family-oriented travels. Now, the best of both worlds is available; Mysterious ancient culture and Indiana Jones-style jungle tours with all of the comfort and amenities necessary to cater to the needs of young children.

Thomson Family Adventures, a family travel company once dubbed by National Geographic Adventure Magazine to be one of the best adventure tour operators in the world, operates a family tour to Thailand (they prefer children 11+ for this tour) for around $4,190 USD per adult and $3,990 per child (prices very depending on the booking date).

Top Family Adventure #3: Utah

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One need not travel far to find epic landscapes for epic family adventures. The United States has its fair share of stunning geography, but few places can compare to Utah’s canyons–especially the otherworldly Zion Narrows. Spend your days hiking, biking, and picnicking in Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, and, at night, return to the familiar comfort of your hotel (and its hot tub).

With 38 years of experience behind them, Austin Lehman Tours has been recognized by Forbes, Travel+Leisure, National Geographic Adventure, and National Geographic Traveller for excellent service. Austin Lehman offers family-focussed tours to Utah for $2,098 USD per adult and $1,678 to $1,888 per child.

Top Family Adventure #2: Egypt

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Few destinations have the romance and cultural intrigue of the Pyramids of Giza. Explore these wonders of the world, sail the nile, and swim in the Red Sea during the day, and return to the comfort of a western-style hotel in the evenings.You can tour cities by horse-drawn carriage and, when it’s time to move to a new destination, travel by night on a sleeper train.  Educational and exotic, Egypt is fascinating for children and adults alike.

In recent years G Adventures grown to become one of the most prominent names in adventure travel winning several awards, including recognition from National Geographic Adventure Magazine. They offer a unique family tour starting from $1,749 USD per adult to $1,669 USD per child.

Top Family Adventure #1: Galapagos

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After Darwin’s fabled trip to the archipelago that he called “a little world within itself,” the name Galapagos began to conjure in people vague ideas of exotic life and natural science. This holds as true today as it did when Darwin first visited, thus the Galapagos may be the most popular destination in the world for family nature tours. Here your children can be exposed to incredible sea life, flora, and fauna, as you cruise between islands on a yacht, snorkel and kayak in the sea, and walk among some of the best-protected and most distinct ecosystems in the world.

Geographic Expeditions has long been a favourite company of mine. Their trips are authentic, and their commitment to ethical and sustainable travel is unrivalled. They have been recognized by the likes of Travel+Leisure, Outside Magazine, and Conde Nast Traveler. Their Galapagos family package for 11 days costs $6,975 per adult and $5,510 per child.

Lead Image by Stuck in Customs

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1 thought on “The Top Five Family Adventures for 2012”

  1. I would love to visit Madagascar and Thailand, and our trip to the Galapagos Islands was definitely among the coolest trips we’ve ever taken. But, after reading Theodora Sutcliffe’s latest series on Egypt, I’m not sure I’d want to take my daughter there. The aggressiveness of the louts there sounds a bit much for my 10-year-old to handle…


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