Well know as one of the best places in the world to see tigers, it is also a fabulous place to see many other types of wildlife. Easily accessed from the main Delhi to Mumbai train at Sawhai Madhopur, you can take an independent safari through the park and the chances of catching a glimpse of a tiger are high. You can also see leopards, leopard cats, caracals and jungle cats and a vast variety of birds, mammals and reptiles.
Stay at Ranthambhore Bagh a very appealing mix of rooms and tents where you meet up with other families before you plan your day’s safari.
Or try Explore’s award-winning ‘Tiger, Tiger’ holiday, which is a 6 day holiday to India, mostly based in Ranthambhore Park. It is very reasonably priced, has a low carbon footprint and travellers are encouraged to bring out unwanted items to give to a local orphanage.
Tragically nearly all big cats are endangered in the wild and tigers and leopards, critically so. Make a difference and go on a holiday that will contribute to their future. Responsible Travel offer accommodation in an eco lodge in the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, where children are well catered for and educated by experienced naturalists on the animals they will see before they set off on safari in the morning. The owners have a long history of conservation in this area and run the Tiger Trust, which trains local people to be guides in the park and helps the villagers live peacefully with the tigers.
Not only a very good place to see lions but also one of the easiest to do with a family. There are many excellent tours on offer many of which combine a safari with balloon trips and a rest of the beach at Mombasa. Try Mahlatini’s Family Safari.
Combine a visit to South Africa with a safari in Kruger National Park. Leopards are supposedly the most common of the big cats, but can be notoriously difficult to spot. Put yourselves in the hands of experts and book a safari and accommodation in Kruger. One of the best of these must be the ‘Exclusive Family Lodge Safari’, which includes sleeping in luxury tents, night drives (for the older kids), bush walks and sleep -uts in game hides.
ELEPHANTS AND RHINOS
The safaris on offer to view rhinos and elephants in the wild are many and varied and it can be difficult to choose between them. Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Namibia and Zambia all offer fabulous safari options. Try going partly independent and book into a lodge which offers safaris; many lodges are situated inside the national parks and therefore you get to experience the thrill of lying on your bed listening to far off animal noises as well as the luxury to pick and choose which safari you go on and when. Many lodges offer special children’s activities and most have a pool that you can relax in afterwards.
Kruger National Park is one of the largest national parks in Africa and home to an amazing number of species, including large herds of black and white rhinos.
Isibindi offers some beautiful eco lodges and some of the best safaris to be found here. Try booking a week in their Rhino Post Safari Lodge. Many large safaris leave from here and you can also go on evening trips after the gates have closed to everybody else. They offer 50% off for children under 12
Udalwalawe in Sri Lanka is a very good place to see elephants. On a much smaller scale than some of the large African and Indian reserves, Udawalawe offers a more intimate experience and several orphanages for you to visit. Try the Elephant Heaven Trip, organised by Responsible Travel. On this holiday you get to not only visit the park, but travel through the jungle on the back of an elephant, watch dolphins from a catamaran and visit the famous Elephant Transit Home.
Tragically by the time our children have grown up, elephants and rhinos may have vanished from the wild, a few inbred survivors in zoos may be the only chance your grandchildren get of seeing these extraordinary creatures. Play your part in educating the next generation and take them on a conservation holiday or safari where you will be putting money into the hands of the people whose job it is to preserve them for future generations.
A wonderful way of doing this might be to go on a conservation volunteer holiday with Africa Conservation Experience. Their Tutuka Family Conservation Project for families with children over the age of 8, will give you all the chance to experience life as a ranger in a southern African reserve near Kruger National Park. You will assist for example, in monitoring elephant movement and behaviour, work out the extent of rhino territory and learn bush craft and survival techniques. You will also get the chance to work with the local community helping with environmental education, while at the same time giving your own children an education of their own. The projects are from between 2 weeks to 6 weeks and costs cover all flights, accommodation and meals.
Or there is GVI, an organisation which finds volunteers for projects overseas and offers a range of family conservation projects including, an elephant care and wild release programme in Thailand and a project in Sri Lanka monitoring elephants. On both these projects your children will experience at first hand working with these wonderful animals and your money and effort will go into helping conserve them. These projects are definitely no-frills however, so maybe better for older children who are at an age to cope with squat toilets and spicy, non-western food. You can volunteer for 2 weeks up to 12 weeks if you felt very dedicated, so easily fitted into school holidays.