South and to the left – Australia
Cairns, Australia is a long way from a North American White Christmas but well worth the trip. Small World Journeys organizes holiday vacations with fun family activities for all ages. Their 7-Day Cairns Family Tour includes a Find Nemo! Excursion. Which is unlimited snorkeling in The Great Barrier Reef plus a semi-submarine, underwater observatory and glass-bottom boat visit (and a talk by a marine naturalist on the boat ride to the reef). Your young one can become Tarzan, riding a jungle canopy zip line in the famous Daintree Rainforest. There’s a night trip to search for “Forest Dragons,” Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroos and the Northern Brown Bandicoot. And you can all spend the day creating art with Aborigines. They’ll give instruction on how to catch crabs, mussels and other seafood the traditional way, then help you cook up what you’ve caught! Kids can come close to crocs, hold a koala, and feed a kangaroo! Lodging is at a family-friendly caravan park in en suite cabins and a Cape Tribulation beachside cabin. Another super cool gimme on this trip is a gift of a 5-metre square plot of Daintree rainforest adopted in your family’s name.
Half a world away – Africa
On the other side of the planet Wilddog Safari’s has a special winter break 13-day Family Adventure in Nambia. It is specially designed for families with small children 5 years and older. You and your family can visit the Africat Foundation at Okonjima to meet and learn about Africa’s Big Cats. Then go on to Etosha National Park for some concentrated Big Game viewing. Next there is a visit to Himba village steeped in ancient traditions. Next you and your family will travel into the desert proper to spend the night at The Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain and an ancient Bushman spiritual site. Swakopmund on the Skeleton Coast is an adrenaline junkie’s dream come true offering every type of high energy water sport you can imagine. Finally, you will all spend two nights visiting the sand dunes at Sesriem & Sossusvlei, the world’s tallest dunes in the world’s oldest desert.
While in Namibia you may want to make a side trip to two of the world’s known natural wonders, the Okavango Delta in Botswana or Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.
Right down the middle – On the Equator
How about having your Christmas family photo taken right on the center of the world? In Quito, the capitol of Equador, you can visit the Mitad del Mundo complex which is – in theory – located right on the line of the Equator. In fact, the French survey team responsible got their measurements got it wrong. The actual line of the equator is 200 yards farther north! Nevertheless, on this spot a fun, kid friendly, museum lets you do all sorts of activities that only work on the Equator itself: like a movable sink so that you can see for yourself which way water goes down the plughole on one side of the Equator than the other. And of course what happens right on the line. You might also like to take a side trip to a climbing school. Heading away from the Equator you and yours can visit the Valley of the Volcanoes, where you all can take dinghies out into the huge crater lake of Mt Quilotoa. Then travel down into the Amazon basin and enjoy a traditional Amazonian Christmas with roast suckling pig and spicy peanut sauce.
On the Equadorian Coast stay at the Hosteria Mandala on the edge of Machalilla National Park, it has special family beach cabins. In the mountains, Hacienda Umbria has a working farm for younger children to visit. And in Quito the Cafe Cultura has a really great family suite.
Of course some families can never get enough snow, and if yours is one of them then Antarctica could be this years highly anticipated Christmas vacation destination. Two options are Quark Expeditions and Oceanwide Expeditions. Both offer a range of activities from information talks to adventurous hikes. Visit Oceanwide Expeditions website to review the various 10 and 12-day voyages available on specific dates throughout the winter holiday vacation season. And check out Quark Expeditions’ Black Friday sale for 50 percent off rates at select sailings.
For more holiday family travel ideas, both conventional and unconventional, check out:
- Our travel tip, How to Sit Together on a Flight
- Sarika Chawla’s 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Traveling with an Infant
- our Family Travel section
By Kerri Zane for PeterGreenberg.com. Kerri Zane is a family travel expert and author of It Takes All 5: A Single Mom’s Guide to Finding the REAL One, on sale now, For more advice on health, beauty and travel, visit her on the Web at KerriZane.com.