From learning kung fu with Shaolin masters, jumping into a sinkhole in Oman, walking with llamas in Peru or taking a river bath with elephants in Sri Lanka, we urge you to put the bucket and spade to one side and browse our family adventure holidays. Here’s what you and your family could be doing on your holidays in 2017…

1 – Learn Kung Fu in Shaolin (China)

There’s no better place in the world to learn Kung Fu. Make your way across China to the foothills of the Song Shan mountains where you will find the Shaolin Monastery. Over the centuries the Shaolin Monks have become masters in Kung Fu and now they run classes where you can learn the basics of this martial art. Prepare for your own little Bruce Lee. (See our 3-week China Highlights itinerary which visits the Shaolin Monastery).

Other experiences kids have loved on our China family adventure holidays:
– Taking a cable car to the top of Jade Dragon Mountain to see glaciers in Lijiang
– Learning how to make dim sum in a Chinese home
– Making your own traditional Chinese fan in Yangshou.

Family adventure holidays - learn kung fu in China

Kung Fu with the masters in China

2 – Hone survival skills in Borneo

Bear Grylls, eat your heart out. Deep in the Borneo jungle and under the expert tutelage of a local guide, kids are taught how to survive in the wild, what plants you can eat to survive – and how to cook them. Learn how to use a blowpipe, the traditional head-hunter weapon on our Borneo in Depth itinerary.

Other experiences kids have loved on our Borneo family adventure holidays:
– Sharing tea and banana bread (!) with a local chieftain
– Watching turtles lay their eggs on Selingan Island
– Going rubber tapping in a plantation at the foot of Mt Kinabalu.

Family adventure holidays - learning to use a blow pip in Borneo

Blow pipe practice in Borneo

Number 3 – Kayaking with seals in Hermanus, South Africa

Situated on South Africa’s garden route is the seaside town of Hermanus, famous for offering the best land based whale watching in the world. Sure enough the children will be mesmerised by the sight of whales just a few metres from the shore. But for an even more exciting wildlife experience, take to the sea in a kayak and head to a marine reserve. Here you will get up close and personal with seals, dolphins and penguins, watching as they frolic around you. You may even catch a glimpse of a whale.

Other experiences kids have loved on our South Africa family adventure holidays:
– Greet the dawn with a troop of friendly meerkats
– Track lion, cheetah and rhino in Kruger National Park
– Snorkel in the pristine waters of Kosi Bay.

Family adventure holidays - kayaking in Hermanus

Kayak in Hermanus

4 – Go zip-lining in Cuba

THE go-to destination at the moment, but be warned, if you want to see the ‘untouched’ Cuba, while Castro is still alive, go now! Adventure tourism is also opening up and although the infrastructure may not be as well developed as other areas in the region (Costa Rica, for example) zip-lining is a recent addition and, families tell us, their favourite adrenaline fuelled activity there. See our Cuba in 2 Weeks itinerary.

Other activities your kids will love on Cuba family adventure holidays:
– Cycling through the tobacco plantations around Vinales
– Taking a classic car ride through the streets of old Havana
– Relaxing in Caribbean waters and uncrowded beaches.

Family adventure holidays - zip lining in Cuba

Fly through the air in Cuba

Number 5 – Jump into a sinkhole in Oman

As parents look for safe destinations in the Middle East, Oman ticks all the boxes. With great infrastructure but less expensive and touristy than Dubai, Oman is an adventurous family’s paradise. The kids favourite, though? Bimmah Sinkhole, a circular limestone hollow about 500m in from the coast that boasts the most incredibly clear turquoise waters. Swim in the cool pool or dip your toes in, fish pedicure FOC! See our example Highlights of Oman itinerary which takes in the Bimmah Sinkhole.

Other experiences kids have loved on our Oman family adventure holidays:
– Taking a camel ride across the Wahiba sands
– Climbing up then galloping down sand-dunes
– Seeing endangered green turtles at Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve
– Taking a catamaran off the coast of Muscat.

Family adventure holidays - swimming in an azure sinkhole in Oman

Cool off in an Omani sinkhole

6 – Look after elephants in Sri Lanka

There’s a reason Sri Lanka was the most popular destination for Stubborn Mule families in 2016. Untouched beaches, a climate that makes it perfect to visit even during the summer months and direct flights that take just over 10 hours, making this a bearable long haul option for those with young children.

There are so many great activities for children but one of the most popular is the ‘Elephant Walk’. This involves spending a morning accompanying an elephant and its mahout on a beautiful hike through the jungle to a river. Here it’s time to get wet as you wade into the river to help wash the elephant. Just wait for the squeals from the kids as the elephant squirts you with jets of water! Visit the Millennium Elephant Foundation on our Sri Lanka Christmas or Easter family itinerary.

Other experiences kids have loved on our on our Sri Lanka family adventure holidays:
– Dinner around the camp fire in an African-style safari camp in Wilpattu National Park
– Take a boat ride in search of blue whales and dolphins
– Ride a bullock cart around a traditional coconut plantation
– Join a local family on a village homestay and help prepare dinner

Family adventure holidays - washing elephants in Sri Lanka

Bath time for everyone, Sri Lanka style

7 – Cycle through the backstreets of Hanoi

Lots of tourists visit Hanoi but very few venture off-the-beaten-track to the narrow and enticing streets of the Red River district. Here traditional courtyard  houses are hidden behind high walls, peaceful Buddhist temples welcome you in and lively markets tempt the children. Take a bike ride through this local area (tagalongs and child bike seats available) and stop for lunch with a local family – see our example Vietnam itineraries. The children will love helping to make the spring rolls… a great introduction to Vietnamese cooking.

Other experiences kids have loved on our on Vietnam family adventure holidays:
– Making traditional Chinese lanterns in Hoi An
– Taking a cycle rickshaw around the ancient capital of Hue
– Staying overnight in a traditional stilt house in a hilltribe village.

Family bike ride abroad - cycling in the back streets of Hanoi

Off the beaten track in Hanoi

8 – See turtles in Costa Rica

From July to September, you can watch the incredible sight of pregnant turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs or watch baby turtles emerge and take their first swim. An experience you won’t forget! (See our example Costa Rica family itineraries which include time on the turtle coast at Tortuguero.)

Other experiences kids have loved on our on our Costa Rica family adventure holidays:
– Zip-lining and canopy walkways through the rainforest at Monteverde
– Walking over the lava fields of the Arenal volcano
– Taking a starlit dip in the hot springs at La Fortuna
– White water rafting down the Sarapiqui River.

Family adventure family - Costa Rica with kids - turtle on beach in Tortuguero

Turtles return to their place of birth to lay their eggs

9 – Dine with a Maharajah in India

There’s a little place we know, Karauli, where you can stay the night in a Maharaja’s palace. If he’s home, he will join you for dinner under the watchful eye of the stuffed animal trophys that line the walls. The following day take a camel cart ride through the village, haggle over brightly coloured bangles in the Bazaar and get lost in the labyrinthine City Palace. Few travellers know of this little gem, which is what makes it all the more special.

Other experiences kids have loved on our India family adventure holidays:
– Searching for tigers in the wilds of Ranthambore National Park
– Dawn cycle ride through the streets of Jaipur, watching the markets come to life
– Spending an afternoon looking after elephants
– Staying at friendly homestay in the shadow of the Taj Mahal.

Family adventure holidays - delicious bowl of curry

Try an Indian feast

10 – Walking with Llamas in Peru

Children can be notoriously difficult to persuade to go on a hike but it’s a completely different story if there are llamas involved. Head to the Sacred Valley in Peru and spend the day walking through dramatic mountain scenery accompanied by a friendly, fluffy llama. The children will be entranced, and all the more enthusiastic when the guide manages to conjure up a huge picnic for a welcome lunch stop.

Other experiences kids have loved on our Peru family adventure holidays:
– Playing hide and seek in the ruins at Machu Picchu
– Spotting tarantulas and piranha fishing in the Amazon Jungle
– Watching the magical water fountain show in Lima

Family adventure holidays - taking the llama for a walk

Take the llama for a walk…

These are just a few of the wonderful travel experiences we can offer you and your family. The continents and regions we cover – Asia, Africa, Arabia and Latin America – are brimming with opportunities for exciting and engaging family adventure holidays, so just get in touch if you would like to discuss an adventure for your family. Many of our customers write detailed feedback about their trips and experiences so this can be a good place to start if you know which countries you’d like to visit.

Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel
I’d love to hear from you about your experiences of adventurous holiday activities with your family. Email me at info@stubbornmuletravel.com.