Best Adventures You Can Have With Your Teenage Children
Families come in different shapes, sizes and budgets. Today's family adventure travel market caters to all comers, offering anything from private lodges to guided cycling tours or camping under the stars. You can take cookery classes, learn bush tracking or brave the kind of thrills and spills – dune buggies, abseiling and river tubing – that should rouse even the most recalcitrant teenager.
And however wild the wilderness, a refreshing pool or beach is seldom far away. An adventure, embarked upon together, offers escape from the pressures and challenges of daily life; a moment to focus on the family. And the season for extraordinary travel – for family trips that will form lasting memories – is about to begin.
Adventures such as these are not for very young children. They also take a bit of planning, both for you and for the operators, which is why you should be booking them now, ahead of the January rush. The following are just a few ideas for how your family can build memories together in the coming year.
1. Animal Education
A safari in South Africa usually means Kruger Park. But the smaller reserves of KwaZulu-Natal province offer a perfect wildlife playground for the nature-loving family – a chance to get hands-on as well as ticking off the big game.
2. Camping in the Wild West
The towering canyonlands of America's south-west provide the stirring backdrop to this family adventure, which includes four nights camping under the stars.
3. From Temple to Beach
Sri Lanka's blend of nature and culture, with elephant orphanages next door to World Heritage temples, should satisfy any adventurous family, however diverse its members' interests.
4. Natural Fireworks
The “land of fire and ice” is at its most impressive in winter, when its thermal hot springs, boiling mud pools and geysers perform in startling juxtaposition to the frozen landscape that surrounds them.
5. Cycling Through History
Bicycles are integral to life in the lush green countryside of northern Vietnam.
Bikes do have their limitations, of course, so you will dismount to enjoy other adventures, including one night on a houseboat among the limestone islands of Halong Bay and another in a traditional tribal longhouse.
The trip also includes water puppet shows, raft trips, a train journey and a cookery class – with ingredients fresh from a shopping trip to the local market.
6. Culture, Sport and Nature
Few countries offer a more original mix of family activities than Argentina. Culture-wise, there's colourful and cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, where you can stroll the historic Plaza Mayo, tour Bombanero Stadium – home to football club Boca Juniors – or saddle up on an out-of-town estancia for a polo lesson in the noble sport of polo.
7. Mountain Trek
There's more to Morocco than lounging by a pool or haggling in a souk: the snow-capped peaks of the High Atlas form the heart of this small-group guided family adventure.
8. Hiking Through History
It takes a particular kind of family to hike the Inca Trail, involving as it does four full days of hiking – reaching altitudes of 4,200m – and camping on mountainsides. But for active, adventurous types with older children, Peru will thrill.
9. Tigers and the Taj
Northern India can be a daunting prospect for the first-time visitor, but in a relatively small circuit you can get to grips with some of the country's most impressive attractions – from gawping at the Taj Mahal or Jaipur's Amber Fort to tracking down the wild tigers of Ranthambore to watching the sun rise from a boat on the Ganges.
10. Wildlife Bonanza
Costa Rica crams a rich variety of wildlife adventures into one conveniently small geographical package. From cruising the canals of Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast to trekking the primary rainforest of Corcovado and surfing the reefs of Caño island on the Pacific, this two-week private family tour affords ample evidence of why the country is hailed as the most biodiverse on earth.