Where the Wild Things Are

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Sri Lankans love kids and that makes traveling on the island easy for parents.
Sri Lankans love kids and that makes traveling on the island easy for parents. ( Gonzalo Gil Laved)

How do your clients define family travel? Well, Gonzalo Gil Lavedra, general manager for Sri Lanka, Khiri Travel, defines it as, “Having fun with your loved ones while exploring and living new experiences. “Traveling gives kids a chance to see how people live in countries different than theirs; it’s all about the balance of immersing in a new culture while at the same time getting together and sharing and creating memories.” Shirley Rourke, senior general manager, Pacific region, Goway Travel, adds that another important component is “an itinerary that entertains and educates children and parents of all ages.”

Whether your clients are traveling with young kids, teens, or college-aged kids, we’re highlighting tours that get them up-close and personal to the local wildlife.

All Ages
“Sri Lankans love kids and that makes traveling on the island easy for parents,” points out Lavedra. “For example, when we were climbing Sigiriya with our 3-year-old daughter and she got tired, right away our guide offered to carry her to the top and she loved it!”

After recently becoming the general manager for Khiri Travel Sri Lanka, Lavedra designed two exclusive 15-day trips—not hosted on the company’s site, although available for bookings—Immerse in Nature and Wild Trail itineraries, showcasing the destination’s culture and plethora of wildlife.

“On the sightseeing part, kids love to be engaged and they love animals so we suggest to our clients a visit to Sri Lanka’s many national parks,” says Lavedra. A few of the animal-viewing highlights on the Wild Trail itinerary include a stop at the Mutherajawela Marshes in Negombo, where guests can view fish, birdlife and butterflies, as well as the Yala National Park, to spot elephants, peacocks, black bears and leopards while on safari. At Sinharaja Rain Forest Reserve, guests view mixed-species bird flocks, and while on a nighttime safari through Minneriya National Park, they’ll spot wild elephants. The tour even includes the opportunity for whale-watching in Mirissa. There’s also a train ride to Nanu Oya; a climb at the Rock Fortress of Sigiriya; and a visit to Paramakanda Rock Temple, with its ancient frescoes, rock inscriptions, and Buddha statues. Chena Huts’ tented accommodations in Yala, and The Mudhouse in Anamaduwa are just the icing on the cake for kids. Agents, e-mail sales.srilanka@khiri.com to book.

School-Aged Kids
Goway’s 6-day Kangaroos and Koalas itinerary is an obvious choice for those traveling to Sydney with young kids. “We have created our family packages based on highlights to see in Australia, as well we have included educational elements to learn about the history, heritage and the unique wildlife,” says Rourke.

The highlight for animal lovers is a day excursion to the Blue Mountains where guests meet Sydney’s local inhabitants at Featherdale Wildlife Park while hand-feeding kangaroos, wallabies, and emus, plus come face-to-face with koalas.

The itinerary starts with a sightseeing cruise of Sydney Harbour; and a tour of the Rocks district, where guests learn about Sydney’s early settlers. Guests can explore the Botanical Gardens, Darling Harbour, the Sydney Aquarium, showcasing over 11,500 animals, the Powerhouse Museum or the complimentary Maritime Museum at leisure. They can also opt to swim at Bondi Beach or hop on a ferry to Manly. There’s also time to explore the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games home, the Three Sisters rock formation, and the Scenic Railway, Cableway and Skyway at Scenic World. Rates start at $727 pp.

Rourke points out that, “Although we do have our family packages, we can also mix and match itineraries and travel ideas to completely customize a vacation. If it’s a multigenerational family, we can include different activities on a day where the grandparents may want to do something less active. Plus, children under 8 receive a free kids’ backpack when booking one of our family packages.”

Teenagers and Millennials
Thomson Family Adventures’ 15-day Wonders of China itinerary combines ancient history and stunning landscapes while keeping active families entertained. The big wildlife perk is the panda-breeding center in Sichuan Province.

Starting in Beijing, guests hike the Great Wall, visit Tiananmen Square and Olympic National Stadium, take a Pedi-cab tour of Old Beijing, and view an acrobat show. In Xi’an travelers see the Terra Cotta Warriors, take a Xi’an City Wall bike ride, and visit the Tang Dynasty Art Museum. Guests also hike the Bifengxia Gorge; visit the Reed Flute Cave, the largest karst cave in Guilin; hike Elephant Trunk Hill; see limestone formations at Fubo Hill; and take part in a tea ceremony.

Teens might enjoy the tai chi class in Guangxi Province; a hike up to the top of Moon Hill; or a stroll through the trendy Xintiandi neighborhood in Shanghai.

Rates start at $6,990 pp for groups of two to five guests. If your clients have traveled with Thomson before, they get a $500 discount per family.

Contact Information
Goway: goway.com
Khiri Travel: khiriusa.com
Thomson Family Adventures: familyadventures.com