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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

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Friday, April 5, 2013

My Top 3 Budget Family Holidays to a Lesser Known Europe

Beat the crunch in style with my early-bird guide to budget sun, sea and sand in 3 of Europe's classic but often overlooked family travel spots... 



Holiday specialist Eurocamp is offering seven nights on the Venetian Riviera from just £140 ($214) (accommodation only) – ideal for enjoying the best of Italian culture without the high price tag to match. Staying at Pra' Delle Torri is the perfect gateway to the region beyond. Close by, the quaint fishing town of Caorle, the popular resort of Jesolo and the buzzing area of Bibione, with its many shops and restaurants, are all high on the must-see list. Meanwhile, for a taste of city life, Venice is within easy day trip distance, packed with sights and sounds from the Grand Canals and St Mark’s Basilica to glass blowing on Murano Island and the grandeur of the Doge’s Palace. The city of Trieste, with its extraordinary history, magnificent food and the local Carso wine, also offers a great day out. 

A seven night break at Pra’Delle Torri arriving 4 May 2013 costs from £140 ($214) per party, staying in a 2 bedroom Horizon Midi mobile home (sleeps seven, maximum four adults) with decking, accommodation only and including a May discount of £35 ($53). Ferry crossings and fly-drive packages can be arranged through Eurocamp at a supplement. Back on-parc direct access to a sandy beach makes Pra’Delle Torri an ideal retreat after a busy day’s exploring. Meanwhile, an almost endless list of activities including cycle hire, tennis, archery and badminton, plus facilities including Europe’s largest outdoor swimming pool, an 18-hole golf course and a lively entertainment programme, make for an entertaining stay. 




Malta has an extraordinary, 7, 000-year history that has left a remarkable legacy. Its little-known Neolithic temples are the oldest sophisticated stone buildings in the world (older even than Stonehenge). These, combined with the remains of Roman occupation, opulent churches and massive fortifications of the Knights of St John mean that the tiny country has one of the highest densities of historical sites anywhere. And it's all bathed in warm Mediterranean sunshine. Example family packages from Malta Direct include:

  • 3* Sunseeker Apartments from just £1094 ($1678) per family. Price includes direct flights from Gatwick on Easyjet, 7 nights self-catering accommodation in a one-bedroom apartment, return transfers, a mini guide and complimentary entrance to one of the island’s attractions. Based on two adults and one child sharing and valid for travel on 14 July 2013. These family-run apartments are situated in a quiet residential area only 300 metres away from the town centre and close to the seafront. The apartments are simple yet comfortable and appeal to both families and couples alike. Regular buses to Sliema, Valletta and the northern sandy beaches stop nearby.
  • 4* Solana Hotel from just £1234 ($1892) per family. Price includes direct flights from East Midlands Airport on Monarch, 7 nights accommodation with breakfast in a standard room, return transfers, a mini guide and complimentary entrance to one of the island’s attractions. Based on two adults and one child sharing and valid for travel on 25 May 2013. Upgrade to a junior suite from £1339 ($2053) per family of three. Built in traditional Maltese Limestone, the Solana sits right in the heart of the village of Mellieha, where a host of bars, restaurants and shops are close by. The beautiful sandy beach of Mellieha is only three minutes' away by bus or car. The professional, friendly staff and great leisure facilities make the Solana a popular choice.
  • 4* Cornucopia Hotel from just £1489 ($2283) per family. Price includes direct flights from Heathrow on Air Malta, 7 nights accommodation with breakfast, 3 days car hire, return airport transfers in resort, a mini guide and complimentary entrance to one of the island’s attractions. Based on two adults and one child sharing and valid for travel on 13 August 2013. Perched either side of a hilltop road in the village of Xaghra, the delightful 'farmhouse style' property offers a relaxed atmosphere with lots of character. Opposite the hotel the Cornucopia Maisonettes boast 11 delightful self-catering apartments, which have impressive views of Marsalforn Bay.


Families are spoiled for choice in the Black Forest. Glide up mountains on cable cars and zoom back down on alpine slides; enjoy watersports on and around lakes - such as Titisee lake - where the Badeparadies water park has a fantastic array of waterslides, a huge indoor pool with palm trees –and a spa for Mum! Making it wallet-friendly is the SchwarzwaldCard that saves money at more than 130 attractions in the region; you can even get a special deal at EUROPA-PARK. Family packages start from £408 ($625) for a week at the Steinwasen theme park for 2 adults, 2 children. Included are 7 nights in an apartment, children's holiday programme and more.

In the pretty Black Forest village of Baiersbronn, hiking is more than putting one foot in front of the other. With the Kids Hiking Passes, it becomes a path of discovery. Included are free Discovery Vests, with everything that a budding naturalist needs (tweezers, magnifying glass, compass and more) to learn about the Black Forest flora and fauna. Find beetles and deer, spot fir trees and ferns – and win cool prizes! Using GPS devices, children can follow special trails and participate in treasure hunts. At the end, they receive a certificate as a Baiersbronn Hiking Expert.  Family packages start from £477 ($731) for a week for 2 adults, 2 children. Included are 7 nights in a holiday flat, GPS hiking device, entry to local attractions and more. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Four Top Tours to Take Your Teens from Angst to Thanks!

In one respect, I am my teenage son's worst nightmare. My idea of a dream family holiday revolves around a secluded rustic farmhouse in deepest Corsica. My son’s, of course, bears no resemblance to mine. My 17 year old respects fast, furious and way, way over the top.

If - like mine - your teenager reckons he's seen it, been it, done it.... here's a shortlist of four guaranteed over-the-top top teenage tours to give you ultimate cred and to lift that eternal cloud of pubescent indifference.

Learn the skills of a cowboy, acquire bush tracking skills, swim in lakes, take part in fun games, enjoy thrilling pony rides and become a young wildlife photographer on this family riding safari through South Africa. The horses are extremely well natured and sure-footed and the expert riding team at the Horizon Safari Lodge are well-seasoned in looking after all levels of riders, from those that have never touched a horse to those who have been riding all their lives. 

Shane the bushman will take your teens out for the day on foot to teach them how to track animals and demonstrate his bushman’s skills in order to utilize natural resources as valuable survival aids. Other skills they'll learn include; billy boiling, fire building and cooking, how to muster, cut and draft cattle on the ranch and lasso from horseback. Guests also have the chance to learn advanced horsemanship skills and simple dressage manoeuvres and jumping. The trip includes a two-day wilderness adventure deep in the bush at Camp Davidson, where you will sleep in luxury safari tents surrounded by nothing but nature and the sounds of Africa. Here guests can learn photography, take their horse swimming in the lake bareback, fish for bass or learn how to build rafts. 

With plenty of teen-orientated activities on offer the Big Apple is a great option for any family looking for action, adventure and discovery. First stop the instant gratification of the wham-bam mega screens of Times Square. Check-in at The Hotel @ Times Square. Its top floors provide added space with deluxe family suites including two connecting rooms with one king and one queen bed and a shared bathroom plus complimentary continental breakfast and wi-fi.

Throughout May New York Ghost Tours offer fun spook-themed walking tours of the city, with ghoulish stories of New York’s most popular ghosts. Starting from Fifth Avenue,  just five-minutes walk from the hotel, the tour guide is dressed in Victorian costume and leads the group by lantern light. By day a set of shady East Village stairs lead to the inconspicuous second floor store, Toy Tokyo.  Savvy young shoppers head to this Mecca for imaginative, collectible Japanese toys. Teen nirvana.
For thrill & spills take a spin on 
The Beast, an action-packed 30-minute speedboat ride, which start at the beginning of May. Every Saturday in August the annual Summer Streets festival opens up miles of the city’s streets to allow people to walk, bike and play. Last year’s festivities included a climbing wall, zip line, picnic spaces and a whole foods market. For an all-American family day out, take the team to a baseball game at the New York Yankee Stadium. It’s just a short subway ride from the hotel, and with more hot dogs and flag-waving than you can shake a baseball bat at. For a high energy treat, take a stroll from the hotel down Fifth Avenue to Max Brenner on 841 Broadway, for a host of chocolate-themed delights including sugar star landscape waffles with chocolate asteroids and Yumminummiwoopdidoohoo Chocolate Bagels.  

Get up close and personal on a offer a once-in-a-lifetime 25 day tour of Rwanda & Uganda   Aimed at teenagers 15 years and and above, it is full of abundant wildlife, gorilla and chimpanzee tracking. This tour will expose you to Uganda’s unique National Parks ranging from Mountain Elgon National Park famed for its hiking, Murchison Falls National Park for fantastic game viewing, Kibale forest National Park with it is chimpanzee tracking safaris, Semuliki National Park for unique hot springs not found anywhere else in Africa, Queen Elizabeth National Park with the wonderful launch drive along the Kazinga channel, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for a gorilla tracking experience and onto Rwanda for golden monkey tracking, a cruise across Lake Bunyonyi, game drives through Lake Mburo National Park, as well as the culture of Kampala.

The Brazilan Pantanal, a vast area of wetlands in Brazil is an incredible place to see a wide array of flora and fauna. There are very few lodges dotted around this incredible environment and a firm favourite is the family run fazenda of Barra Mansa in the southern area of the Pantanal. The charm of this place is all about the owners, their lifestyle and their intense knowledge of the area. There are an excellent variety of horse related excursions including getting involved in the cattle management and helping with exhilarating round-ups to experience the cowboy way of life. Best of all are the endless amount of trails to take riders through fields, golden savannahs, forests and lakes on horseback in the armchair-like traditional saddles for an even better view of the wildlife all around. For a real ‘in the wild’ experience, guests can ride and stay overnight in the forest, sleeping in hammocks in a specially built casita with the bonus of hot water washrooms.

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Top Six wildlife and nature vacations offering unparalleled access to the most remote regions on earth


Now family adventurers can push their physical boundaries even further ... and encounter wild animals in wide open spaces. From grizzly bears in Canada and wolves in Sweden, to gazelle in Mongolia and the king penguins of the Falklands.

 I got an insider's view from the people who put these inspiring tours together. Patrick Coyle, Sales Director for The Mighty Fine Company told me, “Lazing on a sun lounger or snoozing by a pool isn’t for everyone... combining the thrill of proximity to wildlife - real wild animals, in their own habitats - with some of the most spectacular scenery in the world has inspired us to create hearty summer holidays for those who have a passion for travel with a difference.” And from Edwin Blythe, Zegrahm's President, who told me, "as with all of our small-group land programs, we will bring travelers as close to the wildlife as possible..."

Bring it on ...

1. A Wild Mongolia adventure explores the world's largest intact prairie to search for herds of argali sheep, Siberian ibex, and Mongolian gazelle, as well as the corsac fox, Pallas's cat, and cinereous vulture. Among the many highlights of this trip, adventurers will spend two nights on the banks of the Onon River in a private ger (yurt) camp with opportunities to river float, fly fish, ride horses, hike, and search for birds. Departures August 20 until September 8 2013.

2. Wildlife Watching in British Columbia promises to bring adventurers as close as possible to brown and grizzly bears in Canada. The expert guides - escorting small groups from Vancouver into the remote mountains - know best how to maximise every safe opportunity to spot bears, beavers, bald eagles and elks. This seven-night adventure includes four nights in Vancouver, allowing plenty of time for whale watching and for exploring the cosmopolitan city. With Departures from 20 May until 11 October 2013, including room only accommodation in Vancouver for four nights, floatplane transfers to Bones Bay Lodge for three nights with meals, and six to eight-hour guided wildlife tours each day in the mountains.
3. The Ultimate Namibia expedition will be led by Jonathan Rosssouw, a medical doctor turned wildlife guide. Having identified over 7,000 bird and 700 mammal species during his career, adventurers will be in good hands while seeking out zebras, wildebeest, Damara dik-dik, white and black rhinos, and over 340 species of birds. Also an accomplished photographer, Jonathan can give guidance on how to best capture Namibia's captivating landscapes from Sossusvlei's red dunes to Damaraland's dramatic wilderness. Departures from September 17 until October 2 2013.

4. Tackling The Big Five in Norway is not for the faint hearted: some treks take up to ten hours… but the sense of achievement is worth the effort. Boasting some of northern Europe’s most spellbinding views across glacial valleys and mountain ranges, this seven-night hiking adventure takes you right to the edge - yes literally, the edge: the eight-hour hike to Troll’s Tongue, for example, provides unrivalled views from the 1,000 metre-high rock promontory. “The Big Five Hiking Holiday in Norway” highlights the Pulpit Rock, Kjerag Rock, Folgefonna Glacier, Troll’s Tongue and Langfoss Waterfall, all of which offer breathtaking views and postcard-perfect moments. Departures from 1 April until 28 September 2013, that take advantage of the lightest days of the Norwegian summer: in mid-June, the sun is visible for up to twenty four hours each day.

5. The Falkland Islands - named one of The New York Times' Top 46 Places to Go in 2013 - is a birdwatcher's dream. Thanks to the rich surrounding seas, the Falklands boast no less than six breeding species of penguins: king, gentoo, rockhopper, and on occasion macaroni, royal, and magellanic.  With such an array of flora and fauna in the Falklands, Quark Expedition's team of lecturers and specialists provide enriching discussions on the history and fascinating wildlife of this remote island. Quark Expeditions have six departures to the Falkland Islands during the 2013 -2014 Antarctic season. The voyages vary from 17- to 23-days and are available on three different Quark vessels, offering passengers a variety of cabin styles and prices.
6.  Howling with Wolves a three-night expedition in Sweden to discover some of Europe’s last remaining wild wolves in their own territory. With departures from London Stansted Airport from 27 June until 25 September 2013, this adventure takes advantage of the bright days and nights of the Swedish summer to maximise time spent outdoors, including an overnight camp, complete with campfire dinner. Marvel at nature up close without intrusion, including opportunities to encounter moose, beavers and other Scandinavian wildlife.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Top Six Up & Coming Bonding Vacations that will stay with your Family Forever

I'm not one for sacrifice, but when it comes to planning family holidays I, like most parents, buckle under the pressure of satisfying my child's every perceived need. When endless theme parks, water parks, zoos and museums no longer cut it, these six adventures may just send you packing.
As more and more accessible and less expensive modes of travel – along with increasing international co-operation – have opened up the globe to families seeking fresh challenges, new possibilities seem endless. River rafting, abseiling, wilderness hikes, jungle boating, rock climbing, cattle drives, staying on a mozzarella farm, swimming with sea lions, trying-out as a bush tracker, chef, cowboy, or dog-sledder. These sort of trips will inevitably test your family's abilities and endurance. At the same time they will help to promote independence, a willingness to try something new and a sense of achievement – all so important to children and (more importantly) your sanity.

People have been coming to the Bay of Naples from far and wide for thousands of years to build cities, farm the volcanic soil or just to enjoy the incredible beauty of the place. With Classicist Rupert Smith as your guide, this family journey designed around 11 to 14 year olds, will inspire and captivate the imagination of eager young minds. This family trip will travel from the 8th century BC when the Greeks headed west and founded their first Italian colony at Cumae to the 1st century AD when Vesuvius destroyed the port towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii. 

This May sees the launch of the ‘Smile Club’, a tailored facility for children at Villa San Michele, Florence. 
Housed in a former chapel with terrace, in a quiet part of the hotel grounds, the ‘Smile Club’ will be a complimentary service for young guests aged 4 – 12 years. Qualified staff will oversee carefully planned activities including jewellery making, pizza and cookie baking, Italian lessons, Florentine crafts, treasure hunts and nature trails, all designed to immerse children into Italy’s rich and vibrant culture. Open from May – September, Monday to Saturday from 10.30 to 17.00, Villa San Michele’s ‘Smile Club’ will cater for a maximum of 10 children at any one time. Complementing the new children’s club, a dedicated Kid’s Concierge will be on hand to help plan activities, advise on kid friendly restaurants or the best place in Florence to buy ice cream, treats or toys.   

Treasure Hunt: An adventure for the whole family, kids and parents can discover Florence with a lively and professional guide who will lead guests on a treasure hunt around Florence’s most famous museums, the Uffizi Museum and the Palazzo Vecchio Museum. Fun quizzes and games will lead children from one treasure to the next. The minimum length of the tour is three hours and the aim is to encourage children (and adults!) to learn about the abundant history and art in Florence while having fun.

Young Chefs Academy: The hotel's renowned cookery school is offering children a chance to develop their culinary interests through special classes with the hotel’s chef, Attilio, who will go through the basics of Italian cuisine and pasta making, even picking some of the ingredients from the hotels own herb garden. As part of their class children will receive a cookery school apron, chef’s hat and folder with the recipes so they can recreate the dishes at home. The ‘Young Chefs Academy’ is available from June – August for a minimum of four children, aged between 6 – 14 years. Also available are exclusive private cooking lessons for the whole family to enjoy together.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Top Two New Family Travel Adventures to Asia

Steer clear of the usual family travel tourist traps this year with an off-the-beaten-track adventure the entire family will remember forever.


Offering parents and kids alike the chance to get right into the heart of rural Thailand, a new Elephants & Rafts tour promises adventure, education and a multitude of once-in-a-lifetime moments. Starting in Bangkok, the itinerary takes in Chiang Mai by sleeper train, jungle treks, local markets, an elephant ride through untouched forest, a bamboo river rafting trip as well as two nights in remote hill-tribe villages learning the ways of life in rural Thailand, before heading back to Bangkok for a long-tail boat trip. Thailand Uncovered is offering a nine-day private Elephants & Rafts tour from £900 ($1360) per person. Suitable for children aged seven years and over and valid for selected private departures throughout 2013, the price includes transfers, varied accommodation (five-star hotels, basic village huts and an overnight sleeper train) on a mixed-board basis and the services of an expert guide. 


This off the beaten track vacation provides a doorway to a forgotten culture which traces its origins to ancient tribal history. Greener Pastures, an ecotourism enterprise based in Northeast India - that promotes responsible tours to exotic destinations around the region - has just launched a first ever tour to the Aoling Festival in Nagaland, considered to be one of India's remotest regions. Celebrated by the Konyak Tribe during the first week of April, the festival marks the coming of a new year and of spring season.

Once upon a time one of the deadliest headhunters in all of Asia, the tribe today lives peacefully, spending most of their farming, fishing and hunting. But come April, the tribe comes together to celebrate the traditional Aoling. Wearing vibrant tribal clothing, elaborate dances are performed which tell of Konyak culture and bravery. Invitations are not needed and visitors to the festival are often overwhelmed by the hospitality of the locals.

The director of Greener Pastures, Vaivhav, tells me "The inhabitants, the tattooed warrior Konyaks, are unarguably one of India's most fascinating tribes. This makes the Aoling Festival a truly unique and offbeat experience...with the launch of this tour, we wish to showcase this incredible culture to the world and hope that awareness will benefit the tribe."

The tour begins in the town of Dibrugarh in Northeast India. Known as the 'tea country of the world', from Dibrugarh, the tour crosses the medieval ruins of the Ahom Dynasty at Sivasagar heading for the hill town of Mon in eastern and remote Nagaland.  Apart from participation in the festivities, the tour also provides visitors with an opportunity to visit various Konyak villages, visit their houses, interact and learn about their way of life.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top 3 Tours That Not Only Feel Good - they Do Good

When it comes to family travel, finding an authentic way to immerse your kids in another culture is always a challenge. But if the thought of sitting on yet another theme park tour bus rates L for Lame, then a no-holds-barred, cultural adventure could just fit the bill. As less and less of us are temped by a 'fake break' where our kids are charmed away by nannies and nurtured in a corner of the resort well out of ear-shot, I'm offering a round-up of the best specialist led environmental tours that won't scar and pollute the natural beauty you come looking for - a visit with your kids might even help. 

1. South Africa Sacred Sites Hikes
Southern Africa's San Bushman - 'the Khomani'- are genetically linked to all the peoples of the earth. They are the First People. Yet Southern Africa's ancient & prehistoric Sacred Sites are being degraded at an alarming rate. Now The Sacred Site Foundation of Southern Africa (SSFSA) is setting out to protect ancient & prehistoric Sacred Sites around Table Mountain, the Western Cape & Southern Africa. And they do this by organising Sacred Site day hiking tours lasting from 2 hours to several days. The Sacred Site Foundation of Southern Africa - led by author & researcher Dean Liprin - is working hard to advise, research, protect, develop and raise public consciousness about the prehistoric sacred sites and heritage of South Africa. The culural hikes are a big draw for visitors interested in more than sundowners and simply topping up their tan.
2. Whale Watching

Whales Worldwide specialises in small group excursions and each whale watching adventure includes first class accommodation and private transfers as well as the services of a qualified and experienced guide throughout. 
With over twenty five years' experience of observing marine wildlife Nic Slocum combines his expertise and passion for adventure, wildlife and the environment by offering exclusive, fully guided whale watching adventure tours worldwide. "From swimming with Humpback Whales off the Dominican Republic or Tonga to close encounters with Pacific Gray Whales in Mexico or Southern Right Whales off Patagonia...our sole objective is to achieve, quite literally that 'once in a lifetime' encounter." Nic told me. An authority on the threats facing these unique marine mammals, Nic Slocum has reviewed whale watching guidelines around the world and established one of the most comprehensive codes of conduct for boat based whale watching operations. His education and first-hand knowledge of the animals make him a simply outstanding environmental and educational leader. 

3. Phillipines Home Stays
A new and fast growing homestay network, run by Flip Flop Tours Inc., provides adventurous travellers with a front row seat into this unique and welcoming culture. FlipFlop's aim is to give visitors an experience very different to what they might find in their own country. For only 600PHP (that's just £9.50 or $15) per night, travellers get to live like a local, staying with a Filipino family, experiencing their way of life. Homestays can be booked online and are located in the islands of Malapascua, Bantayan, Palawan and Bohol around the Philippines. The Filipino-New Zealand team who operate Flip Flop Inc. is led by Anna Cleal, who first travelled to the Philippines for civil engineering work in 2008, and was amazed that so little was known about this tropical paradise. She has made it her mission to encourage more travellers to hit the Philippines shores in ways that benefit local communities. "Often beach resorts have serious environmental impacts and pop up in areas where the average income is $1 per day," Anna Cleal told me. "The homestay program aims to direct money into the heart of some of these communities, as well as hoping to provide travellers with more of an experience."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bucket List Trips to Tanzania


My good friends at small group tour operator Encounters Travel today launched a selection of eight brand-new tours in Africa, which offer a wealth of once-in-a-lifetime experiences... from gorilla trekking and white water rafting in Uganda, to searching for big game in remote Zambia and kayaking on Lake Malawi.

Another destination they tackle extensively is Tanzania - a country famed for Mt Kilimanjaro, tallest mountain in Africa - as much as its wildlife, and especially during the great migration. Here are my two top tips for exploring Tanzania. Both options offer a combination of raw, bucket-list adventure with the comfort of staying in quality hotels and lodges. And if - like me - you care about leaving a positive impression and impact on the countries you visit, it's worth knowing that every project you book contributes to local projects on the ground.

Explore East Africa 

Encounters Travel is offering a brand-new Savannah & Sands tour of Tanzania (with a touch of Kenya thrown in) Available for travel throughout 2013 from £1399 ($2910) per person, the price includes airport transfers, 11 nights’ varied accommodation in hotels, lodges and safari camps on a mixed-board basis, all entrance fees as well as a local tour guide throughout. Flights are excluded. Offering a perfect mix of wildlife and relaxation, this tour provides a great introduction to East Africa. Arriving in Nairobi, head south across the border to Arusha, gateway to the wildlife heart of Tanzania, followed by a Serengeti safari, making stops at the Ngorongoro crater, home to an unrivalled density of wildlife, and Olduvai Gorge - said to be the birth place of man! After the wildlife experience head towards Zanzibar, via the mountain town of Lushoto. Visit historic Stone Town and its spice markets, then relax at the beach and enjoy a spot of swimming and snorkelling, before finishing in Dar es Salaam.

Climb Africa’s Tallest Mountain

Experience stunning panoramic views on one of the world’s most renowned walking routes, on a Classic Kilimanjaro Trek with Encounters Travel. The adventure specialist is offering this iconic climb of Africa’s tallest mountain from £1099 ($2290) per person in 2013. The price includes airport transfers, seven nights’ varied accommodation in hotels and mountain lodges on a full-board basis, all entrance fees as well as a local tour guide throughout. Flights are excluded. This trek takes guests on the popular Marangu route, which steadily climbs through rainforest, heath and moorland, stopping at Zebra Rocks, so-called because of its distinctive black and white stripes, before reaching alpine desert in the saddle of Kilimanjaro. After six hard and breathless days, the group finally reaches Uhuru Peak (5,895 m) - nicknamed the ‘Roof of Africa’.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hassle Free Mallorca for Family Travel

Great holidays in Europe don't have to stop when you have children. Scattered around the Mediterranean are breezy alternatives to the lemming-like tourist route of dusty B&Bs, stuffy museums and stately homes. One of my all-time favourite family travel destinations is the beautiful Balearic island of Mallorca.   





The stunning Sierra Tramuntana mountain range here was recently awarded Unesco world heritage status. And it's here across the plains and pine-clad hills of Mallorca that traditional fincas are being transformed into 'agroturismos' which offer everything from five-star glamour to family-friendly apartments, all with delicious R&R as standard.

Celebrating their 25th anniversary, Mallorca Farmhouses have perfected the family holiday over the years and now offer a variety of add-ons to ensure a hassle-free and fun-filled time is had by all. Each of its properties come with a private pool, maid service and starter pack, and nearly all have complimentary internet connection. Private catering, babysitting and a ‘pamper by the pool’ mobile spa treatment service can be arranged on request. For playground-weary parents in need of a much needed Easter break Mallorca Farmhouses have got some fantastic rates on rural retreats starting from just £517 ($814) per week (which equates to just £86 or $135 per person) 



These include: 


Burgues (sleeps six) is a quaint three-bedroom villa in the seaside town of Pollença offering dramatic cliffs, scenic countryside and golden beaches. A comfortable family villa with modern kitchen, garden terrace and large pool surrounded by a sweeping south facing lawn, guests will feel at home in this relaxing suntrap setting. Children will enjoy competing at outdoor table tennis and with horse riding and a water park within easy reach, there are plenty of activities to keep them entertained. With meandering paths leading into rural paradise and Puerto Pollença just a short drive away, Burgues offers families the best of both worlds. Prices in Easter 2013 start from £517 ($814) per week, which equates to £86 ($135) per person.

Cas Teuler Petit (sleeps nine) is a beautifully restored four-bedroom farmhouse nestled in the Son Van valley and just minutes from the beaches of Cala d’Or. Cas Teuler Petit is perfect for parents seeking family-fun in a relaxed environment, boasting plentiful outdoor space with floodlit gardens, a shaded area for children to play in and an inviting pool with Roman steps, ideal for little ones attempting their first paddles. The outdoor dining and barbeque area is great for family meals while the spacious living room and modern kitchen provide a comfortable haven from the sun’s warm rays. Prices in Easter 2013 start from £694 ($1093) per week, which equates to £78 ($123) per person.

Hortets de s’Horta (sleeps six) is a three-bedroom stone-clad cottage set within easy reach of the sandy coves in Cala d’Or and against a backdrop of distant mountains. With a private pool beckoning to be splashed in, a brick-built barbecue for lunch alfresco and table tennis, the whole family will enjoy hours of outdoor fun. Featuring exposed beams, a fully-fitted kitchen with large dining table and pristine bedrooms, Hortets de s’Horta is an ideal choice for parents in need of a little luxury. Prices in Easter 2013 start from £779 ($1227) per week, which equates to £130 ($205) per person.


 For further information and bookings, contact Mallorca Farmhouses

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Doing Good & Having Fun: Holidaying in Tanzania

travel with children tanzania orphanage
You know that when it comes to travel with children I'm huge on encouraging families to 'travel with a purpose' and to help put the money you spend back into the pockets of those who need it most
travel with children kids tanzania safari eco sustainable
Now my friends at bespoke agency Shadows of Africa - who arrange sustainable safaris and tours throughout Africa - have launched their own dedicated 'Traveling with Purpose' package, combining four of its most popular itineraries with time spent at a local orphanage.

With a unique focus on making a positive contribution to the destinations visited and lasting impact on local people en-route, the new Traveling with Purpose packages are designed to sate a thirst for adventure with the chance to spend time giving back. Combining an exploration of majestic Tanzania with the opportunity to meet new people, become immersed in a vibrant new culture and help those who need it most, Shadows of Africa's 2013 Traveling with Purpose itineraries will benefit the Kibowa Orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania.

Natasa Fras, CEO told me, "Our new Traveling with Purpose itineraries are a unique chance to see Tanzania through the eyes of an explorer, an adventurer and an individual whose little act of kindness means the world to the people encountered. Anyone can book a place on a Traveling with Purpose package and help by spending time with the children, sharing their skills or simply engaging in a daily activity. It is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to volunteer without the luxury of taking six months off work and to see Africa up close and personal, delving beneath the façade to discover what really makes the iconic landscape, cultures and people tick."

In addition to volunteering at the orphanage, a proportion of the cost of the trip is devoted to the centre, helping to cover the daily cost of food for Kibowa's 44 children as well as schooling, shoes, housing and supplies. Shadows of Africa has already placed each of the 44 children in a private school, which provides classes in English, and purchased books, clothes and daily meals.
Holidaymakers can choose from eight, 13 and 18 day tours. Option one couples two days at the orphans centre with an awe-inspiring Kilimanjaro climb, safari and several days relaxation on Zanzibar's spice island. Set over 18 days, this itinerary can also be enjoyed over an eight day stay.

Ms Fras added, "All of those who have enjoyed a Travel with Purpose itinerary so far are still connected with us, helping to raise funds and promote the orphanage. Travel to Tanzania could be life changing. Whether you are planning the trip of a lifetime, a gap year abroad or simply need a holiday, you can make a difference when you travel, not only for yourself but for the people and places you visit."