Top 5 Christmas Trips for Wildlife Lovers and Families with Animal-Crazy Kids

Created: 22 October 2013

September 8, 2013

If you're thinking about traveling to a wildlife destination for Christmas, you can avoid the masses while maximizing your chances for exhilarating wildlife encounters with a little help from the wildlife experts at Wild Planet Adventures. Here are our Top 5 wildlife destinations for Christmas season:

HIDDEN THAILAND - 11-Day & 14-Day Wildlife Safari - Remote Rainforests & Islands

As featured in the New York Times. Stay at a floating aqua-lodge and enjoy wildlife safaris by boat and kayak on a 185 sq. km lake, surrounded by 3,000 ft. tall limestone karst and teeming with wildlife. Safari by jeep and foot in Kaeng Krachan, the largest and least visited national park in Thailand. Track wild elephants in Pa La-U, and snorkel the turquoise waters of Ko Tarutao archipelago and relax on its world-class beaches! Plus Doi Inthanon Cloudforest, Buddhist temples, night bazaar, Chiang Mai, award-winning elephant camp and more!

Best for: Couples or families with teens and adult children who will appreciate the peace and joy instilled by the Buddhist culture, and everyone will love the fun and sensuality of the Thai people best experienced through the extravagant Thai cuisine, unique Thai massage, and the simple beauty of the Asian aesthetic found at many of the lodges.


INDIA & NEPAL - 13-Day & 19-Day Ultimate Wildlife Multi-Safari: Leopards, Tigers & Palaces

Selected by National Geographic Adventurer for "Best New Trip" in 2009. Track tigers, leopards, rhinos and more by jeep, elephant and camel in 5 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, including 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Taj Mahal, plus cultural sites of Jaipur and Jodhpur. Our expert guides rely on advanced skills, not radios, to track tigers. Listen for warning cries, track pug marks and look for residue of kills. Discover the excitement of real tiger tracking!

Best for: Couples or families with older teens and adult children who want their kids to have the inescapable spiritual experience of traveling in India, seeing how people with so little can have so much joy, and appreciating how fortunate we are, a message underscored by the privilege of getting to see tigers and other extremely rare animals in their natural habitat.


COSTA RICA - 9-Day & 14-Day Ultimate Wildlife Safari

Chosen by Fodor's as a "Top 10 Must-Do Trip". Costa Rica has 6% of the world's biodiversity, but the vast majority of travelers never see more than 5% of that. To see any more than that requires an itinerary like our Ultimate Wildlife eco-tour, which visits numerous diverse ecosystems with specially designed activities run by highly trained naturalist or biologist guides who have extensive knowledge of localized migrations, nocturnal animal activity, and little-known wildlife hot-spots. Our itinerary blends beaches and lowland rainforests on both coasts, cloudforest canopy tours, whitewater rafting, volcanoes, hot springs, sea-kayaking with dolphins, snorkeling at night in the bioluminescence, a scarlet macaw migration, sloth sanctuary, and a hands-on wildlife rescue center. The Ultimate Wildlife eco-tour offers nearly twice the value of any other tour in Costa Rica!

Best for: Adults and kids 8 and older, especially those with less time, needing to stay closer to home, or families with highly active kids. A wildlife-focused trip like ours is especially suited to families with animal-crazy kids who want to take the next step and inspire them to become biologists, work with animals or start a green business.


BORNEO 12-Day Weird and Wonderful Wildlife EcoTour

It may come as a surprise to you that Borneo is an ideal Christmas destination, since its more popular season is March-Oct. However, in Borneo the differences in seasons are very minimal, since its hot, humid and rainy year-round. It typically rains for about an hour a day every day as opposed to constant rain all day long, so travel in Borneo is usually unaffected by rain, regardless of time of year. Better still, in December there are fewer travelers and some of the best flight availability of the year. The ancient primeval rainforest here harbors an Orang-Utan sanctuary, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys with huge noses, and Bornean Gibbons who sing to each other, among countless other rare and endemic species. Highlights include a special expedition to see Borneo's unique flying and gliding mammals, and a night excursion to view tarsiers and slow loris, two of the world's smallest and cutest primates. Borneo's rainforest is disappearing at alarming rates due to palm oil cultivation, making it the world's #1 "see it while you can" destination.

Best for: Adventurous or experienced travelers, who can appreciate Borneo's extraordinary wildlife. Borneo shares a rare commonality with the Galapagos, as its wildlife evolved in highly unusual ways due to its isolation, including gliding frogs and snakes, flying lemurs and lizards and much more. Snorkelers and scuba divers will also appreciate the incredible coral reefs of one of the world's top 5 barrier reefs.


GALAPAGOS 8-Day Ultimate Wildlife Cruise

Most quality First Class yachts are sold out 1-2 years in advance for Christmas and holiday weeks, so this is the time to start thinking about Christmas 2014, if you're lucky, but more likely for Christmas 2015, or consider a non-holiday week if you'd like to go sooner. Wild Planet Adventures works with over 30 yachts in the Galapagos to offer travelers a wide variety of options. Our most popular yachts are the M/Y Eric, Letty & Flamingo, which are specially designed with wildlife viewing as the priority. These yachts, as well as other yachts we regularly work with, are 20-passenger yachts, which are better than a 16-passenger yacht. It may seem counter-intuitive, however 16-passenger yachts will have only 1 naturalist guide for a 16:1 passenger-to-guide ratio, the maximum allowed by law. 20 passenger yachts will have 2 guides, (one of which will usually be a biologist) for a much more attractive 10:1 guide ratio. Additionally, our yachts have these little-known and overlooked advantages: you are less likely to get sea-sick on single-hulled yachts (catamarans rock front-to-back which is why there are fewer of them in the Galapagos); they carry kayaks on-board, which allow for silent approach to wildlife for more up-close moments (kayaks are rarely carried by most yachts because they take up valuable space); finally, the captain is perhaps the most overlooked, under-appreciated, and yet most important determinant of the quality of your cruise. We only work with captains with the best safety records, and favor those who offer activities like deep-water snorkeling, which require advanced knowledge of currents and coordination between multiple pongas and other yachts in order not to loose track of any passengers who are floating the current.

Best for: Adults and children 6 and older. Note that the Galapagos is also excellent for those who are less adventurous or less active, as the activities aren't strenuous. However, it's not a good fit for those who get seasick easily or small children who would feel cooped up on a small yacht for eight days.


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