Top 10 family wildlife vacations

Wildlife vacations specially designed to suit families make introducing the kids to all creatures great and small easy and fun. Family wildlife vacations combine spotting animals and birds with active adventures and exciting accommodation, all divided into bitesize chunks that keep kids of all ages engaged and entertained. From the Big Five in Tanzania to tiny frogs and fireflies in Costa Rica, there’s a world of wildlife to discover en famille.

1. Big Five & beach, Africa

The dream combination for families, a safari and beach vacation teams wildlife watching with wind-down time on the beach. In Tanzania, see huge quantities of game in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, then fly to Zanzibar to laze on the beach, snorkel and explore Stone Town. Alternatively, enjoy a few days spotting game on a malaria-free reserve in South Africa, before relaxing on the beaches of Mozambique or Mauritius.

Best time to go: The school summer vacations for the Great Migration in Tanzania; in South Africa, summer or Easter vacations
Our top selling trip: Exciting family vacation in Tanzania and Family luxury safari and beach vacation, South Africa and Mozambique
See all our trips: Family safaris
Read more: Safari and beach vacations travel guide

2. Tigers, India

There’s often no minimum age for tiger safaris in India, and children usually pay discounted rates, making this a good family option. Kids should be briefed that a tiger sighting can’t be guaranteed, but even if Shere Khan doesn’t show up, there is lots of other wildlife to see – from sloth bears to monkeys and deer – plus nature walks, village visits, friendly guides and immersion in a Jungle Book setting.

Best time to go: Christmas vacations
Our top selling trip: Tiger watching vacation in India
See all our trips: Tiger safaris in India
Read more: Tiger safaris travel guide

3. Turtles, birds and sloths, Costa Rica

A biodiverse gem, Costa Rica is a treat for families – easy to travel around, relatively compact and home to a host of exotic animals, birds and marine life. See turtles, crocs, tiny red frogs and howler monkeys in the jungles of Tortuguero, accessible only by boat, snorkel off the Caribbean Coast and explore the cloud forest on a canopy tour, looking out for the 400 bird species living here.

Best time to go: Christmas vacations until the end of the summer vacations
Our top selling trip: Costa Rica 13 day family vacation
See all our trips: Costa Rica family vacations
Read more: Costa Rica wildlife travel guide

4. Orangutans, Borneo

Orangutans are Borneo’s most famous animal resident, and family trips take you to meet them at rehabilitation center such as Semenggoh in Sarawak and Sepilok in Sabah. If you’re lucky, spot them in the wild, too, and enjoy a host of other wildlife: game drives to see Sumatran rhinos and pygmy elephants; river cruises for crocs and proboscis monkeys; and fireflies and frogs from fantastic jungle treehouse and riverside accommodation.

Best time to go: Easter and summer vacations
Our top selling trip: Borneo family vacation
See all out trips: Borneo family safaris and wildlife
Read more: Orangutan watching travel guide

5. Animals & active adventure, Namibia

The wildlife in Namibia’s Etosha National Park is abundant and easy to see, particularly during the dry winter months, when you can simply sit by a waterhole and wait for it to come to you. Elsewhere, spot gemsbok and ostriches, see seals on the coast and keep active, too, climbing giant sand dunes and camping in the Namib desert.

Best time to go: Christmas, Easter or summer vacations
Our top selling trip: Family safari in Namibia
See all our trips: Namibia family vacations
Read more: Namibia family vacations guide

6. Big game & coral reefs, Southern Africa

For families eager to see Africa’s famous game, but in search of more than a straight safari, South Africa is the answer. Game drives in Kruger or Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park deliver the Big Five, while Kosi Bay Nature Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal has hippos and coral reefs for snorkelling. Adventurous teens can also kayak through mangroves and raft down Blyde River Canyon.

Best time to go: Christmas, Easter and summer vacations
Our top selling trip: South African safaris for families with teenagers
See all our trips: Family vacations in South Africa
Read more: South Africa wildlife

7. Wildlife & wilderness, Botswana

Botswana is a true wilderness destination where wildlife, not humans, reigns. The sheer quantity of animals in parks such as Moremi and Chobe will blow tiny minds, while the chance to stay on a houseboat in the Okavango Delta moves the trad safari towards something more fun and family friendly. Start or end with a visit to Victoria Falls, too, where its drenching spray will be the most exciting shower your kids have ever had.

Best time to go: Summer vacations
Our top selling trip: Botswana and Zambia family safari
See all our trips: Botswana family vacations
Read more: Botswana travel guide

8. Giant tortoises & marine life, Galapagos Islands

Children aged five and above can make like Darwin and discover the Galapagos’ incredible wildlife. Family wildlife trips here vary, but all explore a handful of islands and those aimed at older children are the most active, with hiking, biking and snorkelling. Highlights include snorkelling with sea lions, turtles and manta rays; spotting dolphins, whales and the famous marine iguanas; and meeting the iconic giant tortoises.

Best time to go: Christmas, Easter or summer vacations
Our best selling trip: Galapagos family vacation
See all out trips: Galapagos family vacations
Read more: Galapagos travel guide

9. Elephants & more, Thailand

Meet the residents of one of the best elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, as you interact with them in their natural habitat. Leaving Chiang Mai behind the tour heads south to Khao Sok National Park (you’ll sleep in a treehouse!) where you’ll float down the river as guides point out colourful birds and reptiles in the tree branches, and spot nocturnal beasties on a night safari in the jungle. Then move on to an east coast island such as Koh Samui, where you can spot marine wildlife too in a world-class scuba diving destination.

Best time to go: All year-round
Our top selling trip: Thailand tailor made vacation: elephants, jungle and beach
See all our trips: Thailand wildlife vacations
Read more: Thailand travel guide

10. Whales & dolphins, Azores

The Azores are one of the best places in the world to see whales and dolphins and family trips give flexibility on the number of trips to sea, plus fun learning opportunities with marine biologists, finding out how to photo ID whales and listening to underwater acoustics using a hydrophone. When not seeking cetaceans, explore hot springs and bubbling mud pools, or get active on sea kayaks, paddle boards and mountain bikes.

Best time to go: Easter, May half term, summer vacations, October half term
Our top selling trip: Family whale and dolphin watching vacation, Azores
See all our trips: Azores whale watching vacations
Written by Joanna Simmons
Photo credits: [Page banner: Nadezhda1906] [Intro: Tim Williamson] [1. Big Five & beach, Africa: jean wimmerlin] [4. Orangutans, Borneo: Christopher Michel] [7. Wildlife & wilderness, Botswana: Michael Jansen] [10. Whales & dolphins, Azores: El Coleccionista de Instantes Fotografía & Video]