5 Exotic Eco Family Vacations

Nov 2013
Looking for family travel ideas? Considering a family trip abroad?

Forget the local zoo and city walk.  Consider a family trip where the kids will learn about endangered wildlife, animal conservation, and how to support local communities in exotic locations around the globe. It’s an excellent option for families who want who want to experience a sense of eco-volunteerism and adventure off the beaten path – as well as make memories that will last a lifetime.

1. The Elephant Nature Park – Thailand

An elephant never forgets. If you’ve ever gotten up close and personal with this animal, you know their eyes appear to be pools you could swim in forever. Perhaps they are truly windows to the soul. The Elephant Nature Park outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand is a wildlife refuge that harbors injured and abandoned elephants. Many have been working the logging industry until near death or taught to beg on the streets of the city. Here ,they can roam freely on the large property surrounded by forested mountains and a natural valley. Guests can stay overnight, participate in the feeding and volunteer for a week or more to assist with the care of these giant, gentle creatures. The park has been featured in National GeographicTime Magazineand the US Humane Society.

2. Jalan Bali Bird Park – Indonesia

The Jalan Bali Bird Park is a sanctuary to more than 1,000 birds, and 250 species from all over the world. Located in Sukawati, Indonesia, traditional Indonesian architecture is combined with beautiful grounds, with plenty of places to stretch your legs and interact with macaws, parrots and other large jungle birds. The park is divided into regions that mimic the original habitat and appropriate plantings give the visitor a real sense of the environment. A kid-friendly restaurant overlooks the park and the day can be combined with the nearby Monkey Forest. More than 40 species of protected Indonesian birds are found in Bali Bird Park and the environment plays a key role in conserving indigenous wildlife.

3. Camp Leakey – Borneo

Camp Leakey is one of the largest wild orangutan populations in the world. It will leave you captivated by the purity of the air and the beauty of the evening sunset. Because of the travel involved, this would obviously be a trip of a lifetime for older kids.  The facility houses over 330 of the orphaned primates, and you will come away with privileged insights into one of human’s closest living relatives. This is an up close and personal experience for visitors to see the primates being readied for release back into the forest.

4. Tortuguero National Park – Costa Rica

Originally established to protect the nesting areas of the Atlantic Green sea turtle, Tortuguero National Park has evolved into one of the most biologically rich tropical rain forests in Central America. Despite its remote location, it is the third most visited park in Costa Rica. Within the park, eleven natural habits are the home to three species of monkeys, otters, lizards, frogs, three toed sloths and over 320 species of birds. Kids will love the opportunity to name their own turtle. Featured in National Geographic Tours of a Lifetime, the nearby Tortuga Lodge combines rustic elegance with the jungle and is well suited for families. The pool provides a good spot for downtime and delicious family style meals will satisfy everyone after a day of exploration in the jungle.

5. Tanzania Family Safari – Tanzania, Africa

If you’ve always had a desire to see the big five-lion, leopard, African elephant, Cape buffalo and rhinoceros, Thomson Family Adventures has a great trip to one of the planets most remarkable landscapes.  The Tanzania Safari is recommended for families with children over 6. The itinerary takes you to a private nature refuge in the Serengeti ecosystem, a stay at a beautiful organic working farm, off the beaten path interaction with the Maasai in a local school and village and an unmatched viewing of wildlife. This company is committed to age-matching the children in the group to enhance the adventure for everyone and has a wonderful pen pal experience to continue the adventure from home.
Tanzania safariI’ve just scratched the surface with a few trip of a lifetime ideas that you could take with your family. I hope this has inspired you to think about that bucket list destination that would be a travel experience with memories to last forever.
all photos courtesy the respective wildlife parks