December 8, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are

Ok, maybe you think traveling with your kids is all the wildlife you need. But honestly, there is almost no better way to ensure kids have fun on vacation than to take them where they can see cool animals up close.

Here are some of our most memorable animal encounters:

Riviera Maya – The jungle extending from Puerto Morelos to Tulum is home to not only dozens of great family-friendly resorts, but also to many lizards. At the Fairmont Mayakoba, we couldn’t take two steps without seeing a gecko or iguana, and there was even a resident alligator in the canal! And Akumal Bay will always have a special place in our hearts, after hours spent snorkeling with manta rays, turtles, and even the occasional barracuda.

Alaska – While grizzlies have the most fearsome reputation, we had more encounters with black bears, including a very persistent guy who kept following us around on a backpacking trip in the arctic. Watching bear cubs tumble down a hillside in play (from a safe distance via spotting scope) was adorable. But one of my favorite experiences was kayaking in a small arm of Glacier Bay alongside seals that delighted in surfing with the incoming tide. San Juan Islands – One of the highlights on our Backroads family cycling trip was a wildlife-watching cruise. There are resident orcas in the waters off San Juan Island, which can also be observed from land at Lime Kiln Point State Park, along with the occasional minke and gray whale. It’s also a great destination for bird-watching.

Yellowstone - A visit to our nation's first national park is like going on a safari - wide open spaces and lots of big game. The kids squealed in delight as a bison practically stuck his (her?) head through our car window. And a bear foraging alongside the road was a real traffic stopper. We also saw moose, bald eagle, antelope, and heard there were also some wolves in the area, though we didn't get a chance to see them.

Canada – Near the top of my list of amazing animal experiences was during a trip to the Canadian Rockies one year around Labor Day. Fall is the elk breeding season when these beautiful creatures literally can be found walking the streets of town. But the real treat was when a bull decided to make the lawn of our cabin along the Athabasca river home to his harem. Every evening we had a herd right outside our door, and we listened to the haunting melody of the elk bugling, one of the most unique sounds I have ever heard in my life.

There are many other great family vacations that offer amazing opportunities to view, and sometimes even interact, with wildlife. Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, Africa, just to name a few. These are the kind of vacations that not only create memories to last a lifetime, but can also change your life.

For more information about planning your next family vacation, contact Suzette Mack at suzette@family-treks.com.

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