Croatia has emerged as the brand new jewel of the Mediterannean (well, Adriatic, if you want to get technical), and arguably the best in recent years, and it is only getting better. Apart from the hedonistic EDM festivals that light up the country all through summer, and the mandatory tour of GOT's King's "Dubrovnik" Landing, here are a few more reasons to head out there with the kids and family for a vacay experience that can't be beat. 1) CHARTER A BOAT AND LEARN SAILING. Flash news: Croatia is the new European Riviera. Of course you have heard that before, but have you tried it? Go on, there are few more soul-satisfying experiences than learning how to navigate your own little (or big) tub, using only wind. Sail the unbelievably beautiful 5800 km of coastline on a chartered yacht, and have the whole family pitch in with sails and ropes and knots. You’ll never want to step on a motorized boat ever again. 2) TAKE A GUIDED TOUR OF CROATIA'S EUROPEAN HISTORY. Again, move over Italy, sorry ol’ chap. Croatia, your little neighbor on the bluer-than-blue Adriatic, simply bursts with towns full of Roman history. Expose the young ones to the ancient, medieval and Renaissance lore of Pula; check out Zadar, a city 3000 years old, dating back to Egyptian times (the Sphinx of Zadar, though, is only a 100 years old, a homage to its ancient trade connections). Definitely do not miss Korcula, with its charming winding cobblestone streets – it also doubles as the birthplace of Marco Polo! 3) LEARN TRADITIONAL WOODEN-TOY CARVING AND OTHER SKILLS. How about learning some skills that have been recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritages? They probably won’t have any practical use for you, jaded adults, but think of the positive effect of this on the impressionable minds of the kids: Enjoy immersive workshops for the family in gingerbread baking and wooden toy carving; yup, that’s what we mean by Intangible Cultural Heritages. Good enough for UNESCO, good enough for the modern millennial kid. 4) WATERFALLS AND WILD HORSES. Get your teens to dump their smartphones and head out to Starigrad Paklenica, designated a UNESCO-protected biosphere, for its sheer virgin forests and surreal landscapes; swim under the beautiful Skradinski Buk waterfall in the Krka National Park.............and see wild horses frolic on an exclusive jeep safari. 5) A CHILDREN'S FESTIVAL THAT IS GREAT FOR ADULTS TOO.Do not miss the International Children’s Festival in Sibenik right through June and July, with its craft workshops, music, dance, children’s theatre and puppetry; we have heard it is super fun for adults too. Check in with our local experts for more great vacation ideas with the family and kids in Croatia; there is something for all ages in this wildly beautiful Adriatic country.
Aloof, mysterious, colorful, and shrouded in ancient myth and legend, Peru is so much more than just ruins and some of the world's best food (although we'd recommend you go there just for that!). Before you make any plans to pack off the kids to grandma's, take a look at how special Peru can be for the little (and not so little) ones. 1) GET A CRASH COURSE IN CHOCOLATE-MAKING! Candy for the kids? Yes, you may have some strict rules about it, but it’s certainly okay if they make their own, isn’t it? Have the young ones become experts in the art of chocolate making from cacao bean to ready-to-eat bar at the CHOCO Museo in Cusco! We’ve all heard of Swiss and Belgian chocolates; why not hand-make your own delicious chocolates in a country known for its cacao? Healthy, too. 2) LEARN THE POTTERY SKILLS OF THE ANCIENT INCAS.More on the theme of DIY, join a unique ceramics workshop in Lima, Nazca or Cusco, and let your kids get their hands dirty, unleash their probable pottery skills and make their own souvenirs, which they will proudly carry home with them. And dazzle the extended family with these perfect creations (well, not that perfect, perhaps), at holiday gatherings. 3) HIKE ONE OF THE WORLD'S DEEPEST CANYONS AND SPOT THE CONDOR. If you are feeling a little adventurous and wish to stretch those legs, let our local experts plan a carefully guided hike through the magnificent Colca Canyon (suited to any fitness levels). Colca is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, with vertical drops of a mile from cliff-face to river bottom. The bonus? Massive herds of llamas bounding free, colorful Andean folk and a sighting of the magnificent Andean Condor! 4) MINGLE WITH THE ANDEAN FOLK AND LEARN THEIR WAYS. Bond with the family and the Hulloc community, gentle folk that live off the land down in the Sacred Valley, one of Peru's must-see highlights. The men of the family can roll up their sleeves and help to work the land, while the ladies get a crash course in cooking delicious farm-to-table food with the locals! Or flip the gender stereotypes, why don’t you. A brand new experience for the family, with the warm fuzzy feeling of giving back to the community. 5) WILDLIFE SPOTTING, CANOEING AND PLUMBING DEEP MYSTERIES. It’s wildlife time (and no, we don’t mean llamas and condors). Let an expert give you and your kids a lesson in nature and conservation in the 1000 sq mile Tambopata Natural Reserve; the canoe ride around the pristine Lake Sandoval is considered one of the most beautiful of circuits. Try and spot the noisy and wildly colorful Hoazin bird (pictured above), aka the Shansho, the Stinkbird and the Canje Pheasant around the lake.Only marginally more exciting than that would be a boat ride to Islas Ballestas, aka the Galapagos of Peru (above). Amidst all the wildlife, check out the massive and mysterious Candelabra geoglyph (above), 150 m high and 50 m wide, thought to be linked to the equally mysterious Nazca Lines, one of Peru's most enigmatic not-to-be-missed highlights.Yup, definitely more fun than they'll ever have at Grandma's.
If your impression of Brazil is that of an 'adult destination' (and it would be if you watch a lot of movies; all those hot, steamy beaches and grungy favelas and that strangely upbeat calypso soundtrack), then think again. In the hands of a local expert, this most iconic of South American destinations can transform into something marvelously kid-friendly as, say, Disneyland, but with real animals and true-to-life happy endings (read: memories the family will share over dinner tables for a lifetime). Here are just some of the highlights of Brazil you can enjoy with the whole family: 1) CLIMB A GIANT AMAZON TREE AND CAVORT IN THE CANOPY.Make sure our Brazil experts hook you up with a giant Amazon Tree. Like, literally hook you up. Head out to the rainforest and race your kids up one of these gigantic wonders (it’s all mostly wires and pulleys, so you won’t be doing any heavy work). The flora, fauna and life in general is startlingly different up in the leafy canopy, and trust us, even though you’re fifty feet above the ground, you’ll never feel safer. And what a rush! 2) GET ACTIVE ON BRAZIL'S GOLDEN BEACHES.Forget Stairmasters and Ellipticals, you are in Rio, often considered to be the world’s finest open-air gym! Get your sweat on under that beautiful Brazilian sky. Learn new skills like surfing and paragliding; test your skills (and stamina) at beach-volleyball. Go for a leisurely bike ride along its coast, why don't you.If all of this sounds just too hectic, and you are more the song-and-dance kinda family, why not burn those calories with a Samba lesson; will be great for those future, fun evenings back home when there’s nothing good on the telly. 3) JAGUARS AND HUMPBACK WHALES.Brazil = wildlife, and we mean the real four-legged and flippered kind. Go Jaguar spotting in the Pantanal, one of the last virgin areas on the face of earth, and visit Praia do Forte where the gigantic Humpbacks come in from the endless Atlantic Ocean to breed and spawn in the safe confines of the bay. 4) GO FOR A SWIM IN A DESERT!A desert in the middle of Brazil? You bet. Right after the rainy season, when the skies are bright blue and the days dry (from April to October), grab your swimming gear and travel to the beautiful Lençóis De Maranho Desert. You heard right. Massive lakes have filled up between sand dunes right through the rainy season; by that we mean the finest outdoors pools to frolic in! The downside? That hotel pool might lose its charm when you get back. 5) GET WET IN THE IGUAZU FALLS AND VISIT JERICOACOARA (THE BRAZILIAN MALDIVES).Get wet in the Iguazu Falls in a twin-engine boat, as an expert pilot maneuvers through the falls themselves, giving you and the family a thrill to remember. And after you’ve had your fill of the legendary Brazil coastline, beach upon beach strung together like they invented the concept, take the family to Jericoacoara aka The Brazilian Maldives; fancy name, and a bit of a misnomer, because these are actually the bluest-green freshwater lagoons, aka none of that post swim salt-itch! If you still need convincing about a) the dangers of the Hollywood cliche and b) 'damn, that's gonna raise the bar on kid-vacations forever', talk to our experts and find out for yourself!
There is a school of thought that this 49th state of the Union is a land, a region, a continent unto itself. 3000 salmon-rich rivers cut through the landscape, and Lake Iliamna is as large as Connecticut! Did you know that Fairbanks has on average 243 nights of the magnificent Northern Lights per year? Alaska has 17 of USA’s 20 highest peaks, including Mt. Denali, the country’s highest. That's a hell of a lot of superlatives; when planning your next family vacation to Alaska, make sure you include these 5 great things to do with kids.1) TAKE A GLACIER TOUR WITH A PARK RANGER IN KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK. When in Alaska, you don't want to miss the Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward, one of the 49TH state's grandest and must-see highlights. You and the kids will get a glimpse of what the Ice Age looked like, as you sail past the endless glaciers. While you get lost in the beauty of the landscape, a Park Ranger enthralls the kids (and you, if you consider yourself one, deep down) with activities and nature games. Kids walk away with Junior Ranger Badge! We won’t judge you if you want to get yours too. 2) SALMON FISHING, GOLD PANNING AND MUSHING WITH HUSKIES. Unleash the outdoor enthusiast in the young ones in the Chugach Mountains. Even if you don’t get up to much, you may get some serious exercise with just jaw-drops and continuous head-swivels; yup, the landscape of glaciers and alpine lakes is simply that beautiful and raw. Try your hand at salmon fishing, or gold panning (just, y’know, for ol’ time’s sake). Mush with huskies on the Idatrod Trail, once used by miners. Top it off with an incredibly serene boat ride with the family on Spencer Lake and down Placer River, past the immense beauty of the mountains, as you learn all about the wildlife in the area. 3) MEET AND GREET RESCUED DEEP-SEA CRITTERS.Visit the Alaska Sea Life Centre, also in Kenai, for the closest and best touchy-feely encounters with great and exotic creatures your kids will only ever otherwise see on Discovery Channel. Hands down, nothing has given kids greater joy than ‘shaking hands’ with a baby octopus, or marveling at the other rescued sea-life like seals and dolphins from that deeply blue ocean that washes these shores. Curb that tree-hugging reaction to ‘animals in captivity’. These critters are unabashedly joyous at simply being alive. Win-win for everyone, kids and animals. 4) ALASKA FROM THE AIR - THE GREAT FLIGHT-SEE TOUR. Admittedly, the one disadvantage of Alaska is that it can be mostly flat. Hop into a sea-plane and fly over it, why don’t you. It’s way more fun being a bird, any day, over some land mammal that cannot see more than 3 miles in any direction. In spring, particularly, the sight of thaw setting in all over the immense landscape and fresh, fertile earth peeking shyly through, with a profusion of early flowers, is a sight for the books, we are told. Stick your head out, and you might actually inhale the loamy aromas of the Tundra-melt. 5) GO KAYAKING, BEAR-WATCHING AND WHALE-GAZING.Wrap up your Alaskan experience with a Halibut fishing expedition with your kids. Kayak the South Alaska Seas. Observe the great grizzlies up close on a carefully conducted Bear Tour specially organized by our experts. Have the kids feed a real life Rudolf the Reindeer. Watch Humpbacked Whales leap out of the water. Go nuts! You’re in Alaska!
The Mongols revere their eagles almost as much as they revere their most famous ancestor, Genghis Khan. Well, perhaps not as much, but this magnificent bird does have a whole festival named after it.If you are ever in Mongolia in the first week of October - in fact, we highly recommend it, as it is one of the best times to travel - be sure to head on out to open steppes of Bugat Soum in the Altai Mountains and enter the world of eagle-love at the Golden Eagle Festival. Eagle Hunters, a breed of humans unto themselves, bring their feathered buddies and flaunt their skills, much like a dog show, except this is not some eager-to-please waggy-tailed critter, but an apex predator that rules its domain.Started in 1999, and growing regularly since, it typically opens with introducing the participants and their human keepers, followed by an eagle snatching a fox skin that is being dragged behind a galloping horse at 60 kmph. Watch and learn, how this magnificent bird might be the best athlete in the entire animal kingdom. If there is only so much bird-action you can stomach without yawning, switch your attention to the camel races. If that tires quickly, you can get your kicks from the Kazakh game of Tiyn Teru, which involves snatching up a coin from the ground while on horseback. Even more fun is the Kyz Kuu, which translates as ‘girl chase’, a vaguely misogynistic but misleading title, because the girl can lash at the man with a whip as he demonstrates his ardour, while both tear over the ground at breakneck speed on horseback.The first night comes alive with traditional music under the stars. Prizes are given to the best-dressed man, woman, and child. The festival ends with a live hunt of a fox or a cub wolf, which, as a bleeding-heart human you may consider cruel, but the eagle loves it, and that is what it would be doing anyway if you weren’t watching. That’s a lot of bang for buck for just 40 dollars (USD).
You just can’t keep a good nomad down. Back in the day, if he got the sudden itch to move, he took his city with him.In 1639, Ulan Bator (nee Urga), wasn’t much to look at; just a collection of yurts, little dwellings made of yak pelt and wood. Easy to knock down and put back up, the medieval Ikea model, if you wish. Every time the pack, over drinks and dinner, got the collective itch to move, they woke up early next morning, packed up their homes and moved their entire city to another location.Eventually, progress, technology, and a swelling human population began to tell on that delightful practise. As society gets fatter, there are always a couple of lazy ones who will say, no, damnit, to hell with your travelling-pants-itch, I’m staying put. After a remarkable 25 shifts, from 1639 to 1778, the entire city of Ulan Bator finally dug deep roots and settled down in what is its current location.The traveling instincts of its citizens continued, however, first by horse-drawn carriages, then by automobiles, and now by the aviation industry, to various corners of the world. Except, now they have discovered a new dimension to their nomadism; it is called ‘coming back home’.Today, you will probably only use this iconic capital city as a spring-board for Mongolia's more exotic highlights, but it's certainly an experience to walk around Ulan Bator with a guide (arranged by our Mongolia experts) and catch all the unique insider experiences the city has to offer.