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Part 5: Adventure Vacations for Families

In Adventure, Family Fun, Travel on July 13, 2012 at 10:05 am

Closing out the week with the last of the Top 10 adventure vacations for families are, the Galapagos Islands and Costa Rica! But be sure to read to the end, because Laura couldn’t stop at just 10. She included even more ideas to inspire you to get out and travel!

9.  Get Up Close in the Galapagos

Location: Fly into Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Then fly 600 miles over the Pacific to the Galapagos Islands.

Accommodations: Small ship (16-100 passenger) on sailing trips (recommended).

Small inn or boutique hotels on land based trip.

Activities: Hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, wild life, bird watching, exploring by panga, beach fun

Go eye to eye with wild animals.  Snorkel with sea lions, swim with penguins or wade with stingrays.  Meet a giant tortoise or tiptoe around hundreds of marine iguanas.  (Honestly, if you get too close, they will spit.)  Climb to the top of a volcano or hike along black lava fields.  Watch a comical blue footed booby do it’s mating dance or peek in on a mama bird tending her babies. The Galapagos is a cluster of islands, each with its own unique terrain.  The national park, beautifully preserved by the people of Ecuador, is like a journey back in time.  This means no mass tourism, crowds or large cruise ships allowed.  All visitors take boats with trained naturalist travel guides leading the way. They provide a wealth of information on history, geography, and animals of the islands.  You will find yourself inches away from a collection of creatures unlike anywhere else in the world…Wildlife is unbelievably approachable in these islands made famous by Charles Darwin with his theory of evolution.

10 night cruise starts at $3849 per person, all inclusive.

There is a huge variety of choices for this region with trips customizable to your interests.

10.  Go Beyond a Vacation in Costa Rica

Location: Starting in San Jose, Costa Rica

Accommodations: Small inns, cabins, huts and boutique hotels

Activities: Hiking, whitewater rafting, zip lining, swimming, beach time, farm visits, hangin’ with the locals

Pura Vida!  This charming Central American country is a haven for active adventurers, and ecological-minded families. Costa Rica has amazingly diverse terrain, weather, activities and culture.  This is a place to challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone.  There’s so much to see and do here, you will be hard pressed to take it all in.  Zip-line over the cloud forest canopy, ride the rapids of thePacuare River through the rainforest, or hike around an active volcano.  Look for howler monkeys and sloths as you teeter across a suspension bridge, or slip into the jungle on a night hike in search of the ever-elusive poison dart frog.  Pick fresh exotic fruits at an organic farm and press your own sugar cane.  Sway in a hammock at an off-the-grid eco-lodge and make your own chocolate for dessert.  Swim in the surf of the Caribbean at dawn.  Soak in the local hot springs or play soccer with friendly villagers.  Big action and exotic wildlife may be what brings you here, but the warm, genuine nature of the Tico people is what you will remember most.

Cost: A typical 10 day trip starts at $1850 per person.

Note: All prices above are starting prices (subject to change) and do not include taxes, tip or airfare.

Honorable Mention: OK, it was painful to limit this list to just 10 places.  The world is a wonderfully big place and we’re just scratching the surface…  Here are a few other faves:

11.  White Water Rafting out West: Pulse pounding fun right here in the good ol’U.S.A.  Trips for any skill level from beginners to adrenaline junkies.

 12.  Paddle Impossibly Blue Waters of Belize: Stay in rustic cabanas or canvas cabins with no electricity on remote barrier reef islands. Snorkel, kayak, paddle board, fish, play volleyball, hang in your hammock or dance with the locals. On the mainland, float into the darkness of an underground river cave, hike the jungles and climb ancient Mayan ruins.

13.  Sailing Croatia: With just a handful of guests, a cook, a captain and a guide, set sail on a sweet little yacht. Explore remote islands, secret beaches and coves, and take in this Mediterranean gem. Hike, bike, swim, snorkel or kayak.

14.  Biking Europe: You name the country and there’s a great guided biking trip available.  Mix local culture and cuisine with great scenery, history, exercise and family bonding.  Plenty of down time to swim or just relax.

15.  Hiking the Dolomites: Northern Italy’s Alps areEurope’s best kept secret.  Escape the crowds and get away. Everywhere you turn, the scenery is postcard perfect. This mountain range of steep limestone cliffs, peaks, spires and gorges, borders Austria,Switzerland andItaly. The region is a melting pot of art, architecture, people and food. Meet the locals at cozy inns, on a cable car or at mountain cafes with edge-of-the-world views.

Give Back; you’ll be glad you did.

Pack with a purpose: Tote a little extra and bring clothes, toys, school or medical items for the locals. Use available space in your luggage to provide much-needed supplies. You can make a big impact on the lives of children and families in the community you visit.

Volunteer: Ask how you can give your time and energy on your trip. Reach out and spend a few hours or a few days doing a service project. There’s no better way to learn about a culture and earn respect than to work side by side with locals. Make friends and make a difference. Pick a project you’re passionate about and leave your destination a better place.

Financial Aid: We all know cash counts.  Make a monetary donation, sponsor a child or champion a fundraiser for a reputable charity.  Ask your agent for ideas on how to help.

 “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

We would love to hear comments on your favorite adventure destinations too!

My husband Ted and I own Go Custom Travel in North Bend, WA outside of Seattle.  We specialize in active vacations and off-the-beaten-path adventures… Basically, we dream up cool getaways for families and groups.  Every now and then, we get to jump out and experience some of the things we conjure up.  For more information, visit: www.facebook.com/GoCustomTravel

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