Hubert Burda Media

Three Kid-Friendly Vacation Ideas

Travelling with kids in tow doesn’t have to be dull or predictable.

THE SAFARI ADVENTURE

From lions and zebras, to elephants and wildebeests, nothing beats seeing every child’s favourite African wildlife in their natural habitat. The majestic savannah landscape, replete with the sounds of animals in the wild, is more thrilling than any man-made theme park.  

Where to stay

Camp Jabulani, a Relais & Chateaux luxury lodge, is located in the private Kapama Game Reserve in malaria-free Hoedspruit, South Africa. The palatial Zindago Villa is a sprawling, 424-sq-m family complex of two bedroom suites, living areas and wooden viewing deck with a heated plunge pool that’s perfect for unwinding after a day in the African bush.

Kids will love

The resident herd of trained elephants that wander freely about the lodge’s grounds, having been rescued and rehabilitated by the Hoedsruit Endangered Species Centre, which was established by Camp Jabulani’s founder Lente Roode. Children above six who are staying at the Zindago Villa have round-the-clock access to the exclusive Team Tusker children’s programme, which includes educational and fun activities such as dung-throwing, animal tracking and basic camping and survival skills — great for when mummy and daddy relax at the spa or are way at a night-time game drive. 

Family fun

The guided safaris on elephant back are truly the most unique way of observing the plentiful wildlife in the game reserve, including the usually elusive Big Five. Hot-air ballooning and game drives in open safari vehicles are also available for families with young children, and they can also get up close with cheetahs and wild cats at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, where an intimate lesson in wildlife conservation awaits.

How to get there

Camp Jabulani is a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Johannesburg, or a domestic flight into Eastgate Airport in Hoedspruit. Private charter flights are also available. 

THE WINTRY RETREAT

There’s nothing more magical than catching the surreal spectacle of the Northern Lights. Go in the winter and the icy landscape is the stuff that every child’s Christmas fantasies are made of.  

Where to stay

The Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finland is the perfect base from which to catch the Northern Lights, as well as to soak up the other-worldly atmosphere of the Lappish wilderness. There’s a wealth of accommodation options here, including luxuriously appointed log cabins, but the famed Kelo-glass igloos are worth splurging out on. These combine the comfort and space of a log cabin (complete with a kitchenette, private sauna and fireplace) with a glass-roofed bedroom, so that you can fall asleep to the enchanting view of the Northern Lights above — pure magic.

Kids will love

There isn’t a kid’s club or babysitting services available here yet, but with so much to do outdoors, keeping the kids occupied is a cinch, whether skiing, or going on a husky- or reindeer-drawn sleigh for an Arctic safari. Finland in the winter is nature at its purest and exploring it is guranteed to be an unforgettable experience. Top it off with a visit to the “real” Santa at his red cabin home on the resort’s ground. In the summer, there’s gold panning, midnight sun-watching, white-water rafting and kayaking, as well as mushroom- and berry-picking.

Family fun

All the activities mentioned are excellent for the whole family, but for something extra thrilling, there’s also three smoke saunas (one of which is the largest in the world). You can also jump into the pure spring waters at the end of the jetty for an icy dip to cool off.

How to get there

The nearest airport is the Ivalo International Airport, which is a 30-minute car ride to the resort. Finnair and Norwegian airlines offer regular domestic flights to Ivalo from the capital city of Helsinki.

THE DESERT ISLAND HIDEOUT

Playing out their ultimate Robinson Crusoe fantasies in a gorgeous tropical island setting, away from technology and gadgetry, may just be the ultimate family-bonding experience.

Where to stay

Six Senses Yao Noi is set on a small island in the middle of Phang Nga Bay, an area between Phuket and Krabi that is famed for its scenic limestone karsts and teeming ocean life. The resort boasts 56 pool villas, including the Hideaway, a four-bedroom villa that boasts two infinity pools, an alfresco dining area, Bose sound system and a specialised wine fridge.

Kids will love

Although there isn’t a dedicated Kids’ Club here, the list of curated kids-friendly activities is all that’s needed to delight the little (and not so little) ones. Nature lovers will adore getting acquainted with the mangrove ecosystem while on the Mangrove Walk. Culture lovers can indulge in batik painting, a bicycle tour of the island and a visit to a nearby rubber tree plantation. Budding chefs can master pizza and cupcake making skills at a fun cooking class. To top it off, there’s an ice-cream sampling session where the grown-ups are welcome to join in as well.

Family fun

The family that exercises together, stays fit together. And the multitude of physical activities available in this island paradise ensures a fun workout for all — from kayaking and rock climbing, to muay thai and team sports with the resort staff. Slow down the pace with island-hopping on board a longtail boat, snorkel above the vibrant coral reefs and end off the day with a private family barbecue on a secluded islet.

How to get there

Private car and boat transfers can be arranged by the resort from either Phuket International Airport or Krabi Airport. Helicopter transfers from Phuket International Airport are also available upon request.