At Stubborn Mule we are all about family. With adventure, action and some occasional R&R. We are not just part of a large organisation claiming to be family specialists. We know what it is like to try and organise an exciting family holiday whilst juggling rugby matches, Dress Down days and the school run. We are here to offer advice (warts and all), personal knowledge of our destinations and create memorable itineraries so that you can get on with day to day life.

What makes Stubborn Mule different, genuinely different, from other operators, is that we know our ‘stuff’ – we have the battered, ice-cream-smeared ruck-sacks to prove it.  We know first-hand that it is possible to survive on a diet of rice and noodles for two weeks in Asia (fussy eaters anyone?), that a 17-hour flight is manageable (with lots and lots of snacks and electronic assistance) and that showering with a gecko in a jungle lodge is not the ‘Psycho’ experience one might fear…

This year we have scoured the globe to find some of the most exciting, family-friendly activities out there, managing to tick off 10 countries between us. Hey, it’s a tough job (no current vacancies…)

We know what is possible, whether it is introducing a 5 year old to white water rafting or getting a High School teen out of bed for a dawn safari. With over 20 countries and oodles of activities, Stubborn Mule can offer you some truly adventurous holiday ideas. For single parents with a toddler, large groups of families, experienced travellers or first-timers, we can tailor something in every one of our destinations to suit.

See what YOU could be doing in 2018. We’d LOVE to have you with us.

1 – Go Bush in Namibia

Making a bow and arrow at Okonjima on a family adventure holiday

Bushman Trail at Okonjima

Step back, Ray Mears and Bear Grylls! Children (and adults) can channel their inner survival skills by taking part in the Okonjima Bushman Trail, learning how to make a bow and arrow, knowledge that has been passed down through the generations here in Namibia. It truly is a fascinating and engaging few hours, and you get an unusual souvenir out of it, too.

Other experiences our kids have loved on our Namibia family adventure holidays:
– Taking a self-drive jeep through Etosha National Park, spotting the Big 5
– Fat-biking down the world’s largest sand dunes in Swakopmund
– Trekking through Fish River Canyon (like the Grand Canyon without the crowds).

How to get there?
Highlights of Namibia, 15 days from £1,250 per person, flights from £750 per person.

2 – Lake Titicaca, Peru – far from the tourist trail

Family Adventure holidays in Peru - family at Lake Titicaca

Find authentic Peru at Lake Titicaca

Think of Peru and Machu Picchu instantly comes to mind. Whilst wandering an ancient Inca Citadel IS an awesome experience, younger children (even older children, actually) can only be engaged by stones and llamas for so long. We’ve just come across a new homestay, accessible only by boat, on the shores of Lake Titicaca which, unlike those on the island of Amantani, are not overrun by tourists, offering instead a completely authentic experience.

Other activities your kids will love on our Peru family adventure holidays:
– A night walk through the Amazon jungle
– Zip lining or cycling through the Sacred Valley (one of our favourite cycle rides in the world)
– Watching condors soar the thermals at Colca Canyon.

You might also want to read Peru with kids – top ten things to do with the family.

How to get there?
We offer two itineraries, a two week option Highlights of Peru (14 days from £2,250 per person ex flights)  or Highlights of Peru – 3 weeks, 21 days from £3,000 per person ex flights. Return flight start from £600 per person.

3 – Swim with sharks in Belize

snorkelling with benign sharks in Belize on family adventure holidays

Snorkelling in Shark Alley is a lot of fun

Recent new flight links means travelling to the tropical, Central American country of Belize has never been easier – or more appealing to the family traveller. Hanging out on tropical beaches, learning about local remedies from a traditional medicine man and taking a crocodile safari at night might tickle the fancy of most children but for the ultimate in wildlife adventure, snorkelling with sharks (and rays and turtles) in Shark Alley takes some beating. (See our Belize photo blog)

Other experiences kids have loved on our Belize family adventure holidays:
– Taking a dawn jungle walk, listening to howler monkeys
– Watching whale sharks. They’re MASSIVE!
– Learning to dive.

How to get there?
Belize Adventure Highlights, 15 days from £1,895 per person plus flights from £650 per person.

4 – Climb a live volcano in Indonesia

Climb Mt Bromo on a family adventure holiday

Climb Mt Bromo and claim top family bragging rights

Whilst the paradise island of Bali is perhaps the best-known and most visited island in the Indonesian archipelago, Java, its much larger neighbour (and where the capital, Jakarta is located) has just so much to offer the adventurous family traveller, too. Borobudur, for example, is the world’s largest Buddhist temple yet you can clamber up its (rather steep) stairs, pose amongst the bell-like structures and meet the Indonesian pilgrims and tourists who come to visit. Our favourite activity is climbing Mt Bromo, a still-active volcano, to watch the sun rise over the horizon. The kids won’t believe they’re next to a real volcano, and, trust us, you won’t forget the experience either. Our advice: combine a trip to Java and Bali. See how, below.

Other experiences kids have loved on our Indonesia and Bali family adventure holidays:
– Taking a dolphin watching cruise in Bali 
– Visiting a Javanese spice plantation to learn how palm liquid is turned to sugar
– Strolling through the Tegallalang Rice Terraces in Ubud.

How to get there?
Most people like to combine an active adventure in Java with a more chilled out Balinese experience – do both on our Active Java and Bali, (16 days) from £1,500 per person. For a Bali trip only, our 14 day Highlights of Bali, from £1,350 per person is just the ticket! Flights from £650 per person.

5 – Experience a timewarp in Cuba

Cuba street scene on a family adventure holiday

Take a ‘classic’ Cuban selfie…

With Castro’s death and American tourists set to flood into ‘the island that time forgot’, Cuba will soon be changing – economically and socially – faster than it has in the last fifty years. Go now, to wander through crumbling colonial streets, to tour Havana in a classic car or go cycling in Vinales before it changes too much! Check our Cuba with kids blog and Helene’s family travel tips in her blog post Postcards from Cuba.

Other activities your kids will love on Cuba family adventure holidays:
– Going zip lining
– Learning how to make a cigar!
– Relaxing in Caribbean waters and uncrowded beaches.

How to get there?
Cuba in 2 Weeks 15 days from £1,375 per person plus flights from £550 per person.

6 – Come face to face with an orangutan in Borneo

Face to face with an orang-utan on a family adventure holiday

An orangutan encounter at Sepilok Sanctuary is a must

They are the ‘face’ of Borneo, the wildlife experience that draws increasing numbers of families to experience, learn from and help conserve these endangered animals: orangutans. Join us as we visit an animal sanctuary in Sepilok or seek them out in the wild on a dawn boat tour along the misty waters of the Kinabatangan River. Other highlights in Borneo include learning how to use a blowpipe and experiencing headhunter culture in a traditional village in Sarawak. Also see our Borneo with kids blog.

Other experiences our 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.

Energetic families might be interested in our Climbing Mt Kinabalu with the kids blog.

How to get there?
Borneo In Depth, 21 days from £2,225 per person plus flights from £800 per person.

7 – Cycle through the backstreets of Hoi An

Vietnam itineraries - family adventure holidays - exploring Hanoi by bike

Get off the beaten track ‘on your bike’ in Vietnam

Vietnam’s popularity has soared in recent years amongst family travellers, particularly now there’s direct flights from the UK. Top of the list of experiences is a cycling trip through the back streets of Hoi An, probably the most picturesque town in Vietnam, packed full of character, history, sights and smells. Stop off for shopping, slurp your way through steaming bowls of pho, wave back to the locals. You’ll LOVE it! Read the Wanderlust blog for 7 exciting things kids will enjoy in Hoi An. And if Vietnam appeals, check our our Vietnam with kids blog.

Other experiences kids have loved on our on Vietnam family adventure holidays:
– Making traditional Chinese lanterns
– Staying in an Eco Lodge amidst the rice terraces of remote Pu Luong National Park 
– Staying overnight in a traditional stilt house in a hill tribe village.

How to get there?
Highlights of Vietnam, 15 days from £1,350 per person. Flights from £600 per person.

8 – Explore the desert in Jordan

Exploring Wadi Rum - Family adventure holidays

Explore on foot, by camel or four-wheel drive

Name an experience that blows kids’ socks off and it often includes experiencing the desert for the first time. Jordan, a Middle Eastern destination which is safe yet crowd free, is one of our absolute favourites. Here, you can take a camel out into the awe-inspiring landscape of Wadi Rum and make like Lawrence of Arabia. WOW!

Other experiences kids have loved on our on Jordan family adventure holidays:
– Exploring the awe-inspiring ‘lost’ city of Petra
– Covering yourself in mud and washing it off in the Dead Sea
– Cycling from Mt Nebo to the Dead Sea (see our Top 10 bike rides).

How to get there?
Highlights of Jordan, 9 days from £950 per person plus flights from £400 per person.

9 – Bushcraft like a boss in Tanzania

Learning bush craft skills on a family adventure holiday in Tanzania

Bush skills tuition on safari

We’re going to say something which may shock you: going on safari, even in the well-known national parks of the Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater, will only keep your kids’ attention for a matter of days. Instead, it’s best to mix it up. Go canoeing on the beautiful waters of Lake Duluti, relax on the white, sandy beaches of Zanzibar or, our favourite, learn survival skills (like making fire) from the Maasai. They’re memories which will last a lifetime and something they can show their friends back home. You may never need matches again…

Other experiences kids have loved on our Tanzania family adventure holidays:
– Learning how to track a rhino or spot an elephant spoor
– Cycling through the picturesque coffee plantations around Arusha
– Going to sleep in tented lodge to the sound of animals.

How to get there?
Tanzania Safari and Beach, 15 days from £2,250 per person, flights from £650 per person.

10 – Learn to surf in Costa Rica

learning to surf in Costa Rica on family adventure holidays

Costa Rica has some wonderful beaches on the Pacific coast

It’s one of the most bio-diverse locations on the planet and has exploded into the family travel market as a popular destination over the past two years. Whilst a rainforest canopy walk, white water rafting trip and zip-lining are the most popular adrenaline fuelled activities, learning to surf comes pretty high up on the ‘how cool am I?’ barometer. So much fun and well worth trying as a family. (See our Costa Rica with kids blog)

Other experiences kids have loved on our on our Costa Rica family adventure holidays:
– Spotting sloth….well just about everywhere!
– Taking a starlit dip in the hot springs at La Fortuna
– White water rafting down the Sarapiquis River.

How to get there?
Active Costa Rica, 15 days from £1,375 per person plus flights from £600 per person.

11 – Get soaked by elephants in Burma

washing elephants in a sanctuary in Burma on a family adventure holiday

Bath time all round in Burma

Amidst the lush hills of the Shan Plateau is one of our favourite eco-projects, the wonderfully run Green Hill Elephant Camp. Set up to provide a home for elephants no longer able to work in the timber industry, the camp cares for a number of disabled elephants. You can spend the day helping to care for the animals and accompany them into the nearby river to help give them a scrub. Bathtime has never been so much fun!

Other experiences kids have loved on our Burma family adventure holidays:
– Taking a hot air balloon ride over the temple complex of Bagan
– Exploring Inle Lake by long-tail boat
– Climbing the Golden Rock with Burmese pilgrims.

How to get there?
Burma in the Summer, 15 days from £1,250 per person, flights from £650 per person. Please note, Stubborn Mule also offer a Christmas and Easter Itinerary.

12 – Go ziplining near Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Flight of Gibbon at Angkor Wat - family adventure holidays in Cambodia

Grown ups will love it too!

If you check out TripAdvisor, nearly every single report rates the ziplining at Angkor Wat, a.k.a. ‘Flight of the Gibbon’ as excellent. It’s not for the faint hearted, being so high up in the forest canopy, but we’ve had lots of children do it and report it was the highlight of their entire trip, the perfect match to the more sedate wandering around Angkor’s temples. Check our Cambodia Photo Blog for pictures and February holidays – Why Cambodia.

Other experiences kids have loved on our Cambodia family adventure holidays:
– Taking the bamboo railway at Battambang
– Staying in luxury in the only floating tent camp in South East Asia
– Spotting Irrewaddy river dolphins in the Mekong.

How to get there?
Cambodia Highlights, 15 days from £975 per person plus flights from £650 per person.

13 – Hang out with penguins in South Africa

Family adventure holidays - boy and penguin on Boulders Beach, South Africa

Making friends on Boulders Beach

Yes, South Africa is one of the best places to watch whales in the world (head to Hermanus), but for the cute factor, kids of all ages can’t fail to be wowed by the African penguins that gather in a sheltered bay, Boulders Beach, near Cape Town. You’ll be amazed how close you can get to these little fellas. Our tip? Stay down wind. They’re smellier than we ever expected, too. (See our South Africa for families photo blog).

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

How to get there?
Classic Cape & Garden Route, 14 days from £1,350 per person plus flights from £600 per person.

14 – Explore Kerala’s back waters on a converted rice barge, India

Rice barge Kerala - family adventure holiday favourite

A sleep-over on a rice barge is a top family favourite

The colourful state of Rajasthan, in the north of India, can be very hot and crazy busy – which, of course, is part of its appeal. For younger kids, though, or a more relaxed India holiday generally (or even, just a more relaxed section of a longer holiday), navigating the backwaters of Kerala on a converted rice barge takes some beating. Slow travel, at its finest. You sleep on the boat, too!

Other experiences kids have loved on our India family adventure holidays:
– Feeding and washing elephants in Jaipur
– Searching for tigers, leopards and sloth bears on safari
– Scooting around Old Delhi on a rickshaw – HUGE fun!!

How to get there?
Kerala Family Holiday, 15 days from £1,550 per person, flights from £600 per person or Wonders of Rajasthan, 15 days from £1,050 per person, flights from £450 per person.

15 – Swim with seals, penguins, turtles, marine iguanas or…sharks in The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Family adventure holidays in the Galapagos with sea lion taking a nap on a bench

Well you can swim with seals… once they’ve finished napping

It’s the ultimate in wildlife adventure: an island that has been inspiring people since Charles Darwin’s Evolution of the Species. We can’t begin to explain just how unique the experiences are here: you’ll come face to face with everything from Giant Tortoise to the comically named Blue Footed Booby (yes, your kids won’t stop sniggering). But the ultimate of the ultimate wildlife encounter? Taking to the seas to swim with the rich and quite untouched marine life. In a word: WOW.

Other experiences kids have loved on our Ecuador and Galapagos family adventure holidays:
– Learning how to use a blow pipe in the Amazon jungle
– Driving through the ‘Avenue of Volcanoes’, surrounded by 5,000m snow-capped peaks
– Standing with one leg in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere in Quito.

How to get there?
Ecuador and Galapagos Highlights, 14 days from £3,729 per person plus flights from £600 per person.

16 – Stay with monks in a monastery in Nepal

family activities in Nepal - visiting a monastery

Walking in the hills near Neydo Monastery

After the devastating earthquake two years ago, Nepal is firmly back on the travel map. Whilst many people choose to trek (longer treks for older kids, just a couple of days for younger ones), there are a huge number of non-trekking options in Nepal. Mountain biking, searching for rhino in Chitwan or learning how to cook momos are all near the top of the list but our favourite? Staying with monks in a monastery. If you need a family re-boot or just want to remind your children what life might be without constant technology, this could be just what you need. No ipads allowed.

Other experiences kids have loved on our Nepal family adventure holidays:
– Whitewater rafting amongst spectacular scenery
– Wildlife spotting in Chitwan Naitonal Park
– Watching sunrise over Everest.

How to get there?
Nepal Highlights (no trek), 14 days from £975 per person, flights from £500 per person or Active Nepal (with 3 day trek), 12 days from £850 per person, flights from £500 per person.

17 – Overnight in a Berber Beach Camp in Morocco

Berber Beach Camp - camp fire - family adventure holidays

Nothing beats an evening around the campfire on the beach

We’ll ‘fess up now: this isn’t a new experience – hard as they are to find given Morocco’s understandable popularity with families (short flight / exotic quality). It is, though, perennially voted as ‘kids’ favourite’. Not far from Essaouira, on the Atlantic coast, is a glorious, authentic Berber camp with stunning views of the ocean. After heading out on a camel trek along the sands, you return to a traditional Moroccan feast, lounging on colourful rugs and cushions before spending the night around the campfire.

Other experiences kids have loved on our Morocco family adventure holidays:
– Taking a donkey ride in the High Atlas Mountains
– Running around the magnificent Kasbah of Ait Ben Haddou
– Exploring Fes, the best preserved medieval city in the Arab world.

How to get there?
Highlights of Morocco, 12 days from £1,250 per person, flights from £150 per person.

18 – Hang out with a Giant Panda, China

China family adventure holidays - panda meets a boy at a sanctuary

Lending a hand at Dujiangyan Panda Centre near Chengdu

It’s funny how wildlife nearly always gets top billing when it comes to kids’ trip highlights. Giant Pandas, though, take some beating. In Chengdu, China, there’s the world’s largest panda research centre where you can get up close and personal with these incredible creatures and, by visiting, also help with their conservation.

Other experiences kids have loved on our China family adventure holidays:
– Learning Kung Fu in Shaolin temple
– Visiting the vast army of terracotta warriors in Xi’an
– Taking the funicular up to ‘The Peak’ in Hong Kong for stunning harbour views.

How to get there?
3 Week China Highlights (it’s a vast country), 21 days from £2,800 per person, flights from £650 per person.

19 – Go camel trekking in Kenya

Camel trekking in Kenya on a family adventure holiday

What better way for the kids to experience the Kenyan wilderness than a camel trek

Kenya is classic, ‘Out of Africa’ territory, a place which most people equate with world-class safaris, seeing the Big 5, the annual wildebeest migration and endless grasslands interrupted only by the odd acacia tree. It’s quintessential stuff, for good reason. Whilst we’ve found that kids are undisputedly ‘wowed’ by watching animals, there is a limit. This, though, a camel trek through a family-owned, private 5,000-acre conservation area in the traditional homelands of the Samburu tribe offers not just an exclusive experience but a landscape quite unlike anywhere else in Africa. Make it your must-do and you’ll not be disappointed.

Other experiences our kids have loved on Kenya family adventure holidays:
– Enjoying the beautiful beaches at Mombasa
– Feeding the giraffes at Langatta
Learning bushcraft from the Maasai.

How to get there?
Highlights of Kenya, 15 days from £2,470 per person, flights from £500 per person or Kenya Safari and Beach, 10 days from £1,850 per person plus flights from £500 per person.

20 – Take a 4WD jeep safari on Oman’s ‘sea of sand’

Family adventure holidays in Oman - jeep safari

Buckle up for some serious dune bashing…

Oman has only just started to gain popularity on the family travel scene and is all the less touristy for it. There’s beach, desert, mountains, turtles, souqs and forts. For bragging rights, though, taking a jeep safari across the Wahiba sands, a giant stretch of desert where dunes reach 100 metres and are constantly shifting, makes for an unforgettable experience.

Other experiences kids have loved on our Oman family adventure holidays:
– Watching the sun set over Oman’s ‘Grand Canyon’ Jebel Shams
– 
Jumping into a giant sinkhole at Bimmah, into bright green emerald waters
– Visiting Ras al Jinz turtle reserve where endangered green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.

How to get there?
Highlights of Oman, 12 days from £1,350 per person plus flights from £400 per person.

21 – Stay in a treehouse in Thailand

Tree house in Thailand, perfect for a family adventure holiday

Older kids will love a sleep-out in a Thai treehouse

If you’ve never been away on a long-haul family adventure holiday, Thailand is a great place to start. The tourism infrastructure is well set up, transport easy and English widely spoken. That said, you’ll still find hugely exotic adventures and activities on offer – along with unusual accommodation. Top of the list of favourite accommodation is a jungle lodge in Southern Thailand where, along with sleeping in a treehouse, you’ll be cooked traditional food and be able to explore the karst scenery of Thanbook Koranee National Park, by foot and kayak. (Other stays include a floating bungalow and hilltribe village).

Other experiences kids have loved on our Thailand family adventure holidays:
– Visiting an elephant sanctuary in Kanchanaburi
– Taking a long-tail boat ride through Bangkok, visiting floating markets
– Staying overnight with hilltribes in Northern Thailand.

How to get there?
Highlights of Thailand, 15 days from £1,550 per person, flights from £650 per person.

22 – Jump on board a tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka

Family adventure holidays in Sri Lanka - fun on a Tuk Tuk

Fun on a ‘pimped up trike’

Sometimes, it’s all about the journey rather than the destination. We are yet to meet a child who isn’t thrilled at the opportunity of using local transport, in the case of Sri Lanka, a tuk-tuk. Open sided, more of a pimped-up trike than a car and coming in a kaleidoscope of colours, you’ll whizz around local streets soaking up the sights, sounds and smells accompanied by your driver. So. Much. Fun.

Other experiences our kids have loved on Sri Lanka family adventure holidays:
– Swimming in waterfalls
– Spending two nights in an African-style safari camp
Looking after elephants with a local mahout.

(Also check out our Sri Lanka with kids blog for photos and more things to do)

How to get there?
Both Sri Lanka Christmas or Easter or Sri Lanka Summer tours take 15 days and cost from £1,500 per person, flights from £550 per person

23 – Come face to face with an Egyptian mummy. Really!

Egyptian mummy casket - Family Adventure holidays

Gruesome yet fascinating…

We’re not going to lie: if you’re going to Egypt, you want to see the highlights, not something obscure. Pyramids! The Sphinx! Camel rides into the desert! An overnight trip along the Nile in a felucca! Abu Simbel! The Valley of the Kings at Luxor! Yes, we can arrange for you to take dinner with a Nubian family or give you some top trekking tips, but any visit to Egypt would be incomplete without the must-dos of which there are SO RIDICULOUSLY MANY! Kids (surely not just ours) are amazed by all of the above. Their highlight? Seeing the fascinating if gruesome remains of the mummified Pharaohs in the Egyptian museum in Cairo.

Other things your kids will love on Egypt family adventure holidays:
– Honing haggling skills in Khan El Khalili bazaar
– Visiting the tomb of Tutankhamun
– Taking the obligatory ‘kissing the Sphinx’ picture. Cheesy, but got to be done.

How to get there?
Highlights of Egypt, 9 days for £950 per person with flights from £400 per person. Alternatively, why not take in Jordan, too in our 15 days ‘Highlights of Egypt and Jordan’ trip from £1,400 per person, with flights from £500 per person.

These are just some of the wonderful travel experiences we can offer you and your family. For advice and ideas, just get in touch. Many of our customers write detailed feedback about their experiences and this can be a good place to start… visit our Destinations page for an overview of our main destinations and which ones work best for each of the school holidays. You can always email me at info@stubbornmuletravel.com.

Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel