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Igloos, zip wires, elephant safari and whitewater rafting should keep intrepid children — and their parents — happy
Colombia may not be the first place that springs to mind for a family jaunt, but Families Worldwide’s new trip could be a brilliant choice for intrepid over-tens. Led by Mark Wright, the company’s founder and Colombia fanatic, it includes a steam train journey to one of the contenders for eighth wonder of the world — the Zipaquirá salt cathedral, a few nights sleeping in hammocks in a wooden beachside lodge at El Matuy nature reserve, wallowing in the bizarre mud “volcano” of Totumo and exploring the walled, colonial city of Cartagena, where all of the gold plundered by the conquistadors was stored en route back to Spain.
Details The holiday starts at £3,099 per adult and £2,949 per child and includes all flights and transport, nine nights’ accommodation and most meals. It departs on August 9 (0845 0514567).
Off the beaten track in Sri Lanka
If you’d like to give your teens some real cultural immersion, staying with a local family in a remote part of Sri Lanka will get them away from their iPads. It’s part of an epic off the beaten track trip in August which also includes stays in small eco-hotels, white-water rafting, kayaking and camping in the jungle, a safari in Minneriya National Park to witness the gathering of the elephants, trips to some of the island’s main cultural sights such as the Sigiriya rock fortress, plus four days in a villa in Galle with plenty of time to relax on the beach.
Details The 20-night trip with Experience Travel (020-3411 1995,) starts at £2,649pp including flights, transport and some meals.
Camp in the desert in Dubai
Ditch the soulless Dubai five-star and stay in the desert instead at Bedouin Oasis, a luxury tented camp in the desert at Umm al-Quwain — less than an hour from Dubai. Desert safaris by Jeep, guided nature walks through the dunes with a naturalist and evening camel trekking and falconry are all on the agenda. You can dine out under the stars and cool off in the pool.
Details Tots Too (020-7284 3344,) has five nights at Bedouin Oasis from £3,850 per family half-board, based on two adults and two children sharing two tents and including BA flights from Heathrow.
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Ski from your igloo in France
Learn to ski en famille — but pep it up with an igloo stay and zipping down a thrilling toboggan run. The French ski resort La Plagne has a new floodlit 2.9km (1.8 mile) toboggan run which ends 500m downhill at Plagne Bellecôte. The village has also added extra igloo rooms this winter so you can feast on a fondue before bedding down for the night with an Arctic-weight duvet in a family-sized igloo (if your kids are 7-plus). For the rest of the trip, stay in a family room at the four-star Hotel Le Cocoon in Plagne 1800.
Details A five-night stay starts at £323pp (based on a family of four sharing) including four nights’ B&B at Hotel Le Cocoon and a night at the igloo hotel with dinner. Flights to Lyon start at £83 with easyJet. Book via La Plagne tourist office (00 33 4 79 09 79 79,).
Sail around the Caribbean
Sign up with other sailing-mad families and island-hop around the British Virgin islands in the Caribbean, on an eight-berth skippered yacht. It’s the stuff of childhood dreams — from exploring Norman Island, the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, to swimming with sea turtles at Deadman’s Bay, hiking around Jost Van Dyke island and exploring a shipwreck near Salt Island.
Details The Family Adventure Company (0845 287 1198,) has departures during February half-term and the summer holidays. Nine days starts at £2,227 per adult and £2,049 per child including flights, transfers, accommodation in twin or double cabins, breakfasts, lunches and excursions.
If you fancy some adrenalin-pumping action a new family holiday based on the spectacular Plitvice Lakes National Park — made up of 16 lakes and waterfalls — should do the trick. You can whizz across a canyon on a zip wire, go white-water rafting along the Croatian-Bosnian border, explore vast caves on foot, kayak through a canyon and negotiate rapids in a canoe safari. There are swimming stops, farmhouse lunches and a day off to recover.
Details The Plitvice Lakes family trip with Activities Abroad (01670 789991,) starts at £995 per adult, £945 per child (8-14), including flights, transfers, seven nights’ B&B in a wooden bungalow, six other meals, all activities, equipment and tuition.
Skateboarding school in Puglia
Long gone are the days when hotel children’s clubs offered only colouring books and bead stringing. Skateboarding school, treetop walks and an amazing adventure playground are on the agenda this summer at the Gattarella Resort, Vieste, in the north of Puglia. In the heart of a national park and surrounded by 15 acres of grounds and coastline, it also has a large pool, tennis courts and a five-a-side football pitch. Windsurfing, canoeing, tennis and archery lessons are available for both adults and children. The three children’s clubs cater for ages 4-9, 10-13 and 14-18.
Details Half-board doubles cost from £52-£66pp per night (01223 460100,). EasyJet flies Gatwick to Bari and Ryanair flies Stansted to Bari, both from £200 return.
Kayak and zipline through Belize
Springwatch fans can join a family trip to Belize this summer led by presenter Nick Baker, his wife Ceri and their ten-year-old daughter, Elvie. Visiting Maya ruins, exploring wild rivers, riding zip lines through rainforest canopies and canoeing inside limestone caves will be followed by a six-night stay on a coral island, with snorkelling, swimming and kayaking and the chance to learn about tropical marine ecology.
Details Reef and Rainforest (01803 866965,) has a 14-day holiday, August 16-29, from £2,996 per adult, £2,185 per child under 12 (minimum age 6) and £2,497 per child 12-16. The price includes flights, transfers, guides, tours, excursions, accommodation and most meals.
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