A wildlife vacation is inspirational and it can impact how people move through life long after they have returned home. So forget about the computer games and cell phones – international travel can be the best possible gift that you can give a child of any age. Here are five of our top picks from Wild Planet Adventures...
1. Thailand – Remote Rainforests & Islands: Thailand tours are best for couples or families with teens and adult children who will appreciate the peace and joy instilled by the Buddhist culture. Highlights include excursions seeking elephants, guars, tigers, gibbons, langurs, macaques, barking deer, flying foxes and a plethora of unique birds; wildlife safaris by boat and kayak based from a floating aqua-lodge; jeep and walking safaris in Kaeng Krachan, the largest and least visited national park in Thailand; tracking wild elephants in Pa La-U; and snorkeling the turquoise waters of Ko Tarutau archipelago.
2. India – Exotic Wildlife & Rich Culture: India is best for couples or families with older teens or adult children. Two in-depth Wild Planet itineraries include India's top national parks, wildlife reserves and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, along with opportunities to see wild leopards, rhinoceros, elephants and tigers.
3. Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife: Cost Rica is best for adults and kids eight years old and up. The country has six per cent of the world’s biodiversity, but the vast majority of travellers never see more than a fraction of that. To go beyond the norm requires a specially designed itinerary like Wild Planet’s ‘Ultimate Wildlife’ eco-tour, which escapes the mainstream and visits a variety of diverse ecosystems. Guides with extensive knowledge of localized migrations, nocturnal animal activity and little-known wildlife hot-spots guide travellers through the widest variety of eco-systems to expose travellers to the most possible wildlife. The itinerary includes eight national parks, beaches on both coasts, cloud forest canopy tours, whitewater rafting, volcanoes, hot springs, sea-kayaking with dolphins, snorkeling at night in the bioluminescence, a scarlet macaw migration, a world-famous sloth sanctuary and a visit to a hands-on wildlife rescue centre.
4. Borneo’s Weird & Wonderful Wildlife: Borneo is best for adventurous or experienced travellers who can appreciate its extraordinary wildlife. Borneo shares a rare commonality with the Galapagos, as its wildlife evolved in highly unusual ways due to its isolation. Think gliding frogs and snakes, flying lemurs and lizards and much more. Snorkelers and scuba divers will also appreciate one of the world’s top five barrier reefs. The ancient primeval rainforest there harbours an Orang-Utan sanctuary, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys with huge noses, and Bornean gibbons who sing to each other, among countless other rare and endemic species. Night excursions reveal tarsiers and slow loris, two of the world’s smallest and cutest primates.
5. Galapagos Wildlife Cruise: The Galapagos Islands are best for adults and children six years old and up. The islands provide excellent experiences for travellers who are less adventurous or less active, as the activities aren’t strenuous. However, it’s not a good fit for those who get seasick easily or small children who would feel cooped up on a small yacht for a week. Because most quality, first-class yachts are sold out one to two years in advance for the holidays, now is the time to start thinking about Holiday 2014 and even 2015; or consider a non-holiday week if you’d like to go sooner.