Itineraries to inspire…
From toddlers to grandparents (and everyone in between), trying to navigate and coordinate between family members’ activity and dietary preferences can be challenging, to say the least. Travel company, Jacada Travel, has worked to curate 10 itineraries for 10 sensational destinations – ideal for families who are looking to truly experience the best of travel in 2018. We’ve selected all sorts of destinations, including shorter getaways within Asia, a Lord of the Rings inspired trip to New Zealand, thrilling safaris in Africa, tropical explorations in South America and a majestic look at Finland’s winter wonderland. As a Travel Designer, the part that I enjoy most about my job is throwing in little surprises for our clients and seeing all of the special photos they send me after their trips with their incredible feedback. It’s time to let us take the wheel, and help you create lasting memories with your loved ones… here are our favourites to get you going!
Read more: Ski Trip for Families: Everything You Need to Know About Niseko
Sri Lanka is a wonderfully diverse and fascinating country packed full of ancient ruins, hilltop temples, sandy beaches and national parks (home to elephants and leopards!). It offers pristine coastlines with white sand beaches and has everything you need for a perfect getaway.
This itinerary is a grand tour of 13 days beginning with a night in colonial Galle Fort on the southern coast, heading into the rural hinterland for an authentic taste of everyday life here. You’ll then follow the shoreline around to Yala National Park where you can enjoy two days of safari in search of leopards, elephants and more in this vast protected area, staying at an immersive camp with excellent guides.
Next, you’ll venture inland to the rolling plantations of Sri Lanka’s Tea Country for a hike among the hills and pickers from the wonderfully relaxing Ceylon Tea Trails before two more days of safari in Gal Oya National Park, a truly off the beaten track wilderness (which you’ll have virtually to yourselves).
Return to (ancient) civilisation in Kandy and the Cultural Triangle, spending two nights at the eco-chic Vil Uyana, where you can head out at night to spot wide-eyed Loris in the trees, witness the world’s largest gathering of Asian elephants in Minneriya National Park and meet the monkeys of Polonnaruwa’s 8th century ruins.
From mid-March onwards the Hot Air Balloon Festival runs on the Cultural Triangle, giving you a unique perspective of the landscape and historic ruins from above. It also provides a mesmerising palette of colourful hot air balloons dotted in the sky – so get your cameras ready.
When to go: Year-round destination. We recommend Easter Holidays (the end of March) for the Hot Air Balloon Festival.
How to get there: Daily flights with Cathay and Sri Lanka Airways.
Only a short flight from Hong Kong is Borneo, bursting with wonderful nature and wildlife. Orangutans, sun bears and pygmy elephants are some of the fascinating animals you can encounter. Island hopping with water activities like rafting, snorkelling or simply lazing on sun-drenched beaches are other Bornean treats to enjoy. This is perfect for children interested in animals and families looking for a short getaway.
Discover the magical Orangutans of Borneo, both at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre and in the wild, at the Kinabatangan River. This spot is home to a wealth of wildlife, including Proboscis monkeys, macaques, Pygmy elephants, lizards, crocodiles, and birdlife such as Kingfishers and Hornbills. Daily safaris with your expert guides and comfortable jungle lodging will ensure you make the most of this thriving wilderness.
After two nights here, you’ll fly south to relax on the idyllic coral island of Gaya at a luxury eco-resort. Spend three more nights relaxing on the beach or snorkelling and scuba diving in the azure waters. If you want to further explore the tropics, jungle trekking is available.
When to travel: March to October for dry season.
How to get there: Cathay Dragon flies direct to Kota Kinabalu.
South-east Asia never fails to impress. With welcoming people, mouth-watering cuisines, temples, stupas and mesmerising landscapes. This 13-day adventure takes you through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and lets you experience its jaw dropping highlights as well as off-the-beaten track spots.
The discovery starts in Bangkok, where temples and pagodas sit side by side to skyscrapers. Take to the water and explore a different side to the city as you make your way along the canals, or klongs. Visit the city’s famous Grand Palace, and witness the morning chanting ritual of the monks at Wat Pho.
You’ll then fly to Chiang Rai for beautiful landscapes where you can interact with Asian elephants and witness the wonderfully ornate temples. Crossing into Laos is a real adventure as you travel down the Mekong River in a traditional boat, stopping at some of the Hmong, Yao and Khmu tribal villages. Spend a night in Pakbeng before heading to Luanag Prabang, via the remarkable Pak Ou Caves. This is better with slightly older kids!
In Luang Prabang, you’ll join the monks during their early morning alms giving procession, and take part in a traditional Baci ceremony before heading out to the beautiful Khouangsi Falls. You’ll also visit the MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary and spend time with these beautiful animals.
It’s then off to Siem Reap to discover the incredible temples of Angkor Wat, both the famous and the unfrequented ones (all picked specifically for family’s by Jacada). Head out to the forest for a temple hike, and catch a glimpse of life in rural Cambodia outside Siem Reap.
When to go: October to April. Visit during the Festival of Lights in Luang Prabang (the date is yet to be confirmed, but it’s likely in October 2018).
How to get there: Daily flights from Hong Kong to Bangkok or Chiang Rai if you wish to fly direct there.
From bubbling geysers, cycle tracks, tranquil beaches and dune sandboarding in the North Island, to glaciers, jet boating, whale watching and hiking in the South – New Zealand delivers fun-filled activities for the whole family in a safe and easily accessible environment. We have planned this fun Lord of The Rings itinerary for families who are interested in fantasy adventures.
Follow in the footsteps of Bilbo, Frodo and their companions as you explore New Zealand and the breath-taking locations that doubled for some of the most iconic places in Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films.
Stroll along the winding pathways of the delightfully quaint Hobbiton near Matamata, and explore the magical Gloworm Caves at Waitomo. In Taupo you will get to admire views of the imposing Mount Doom or Mount Ruapehu, and walk to the edge of an active crater lake. You’ll go on a Weta Cave Workshop tour in Wellington where you can see some of the props, weapons and armour that were created specifically for the Lord of The Rings, King Kong, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia and more.
In the Bay of Many Coves you’ll see more work by Weta Workshop at the Omaka Aviation Museum where Peter Jackson’s collection of aircrafts and artefacts from WWI are on display as part of the Knights of the Sky exhibition.
Finally, you and the kids can make the most of your stay in Nelson where you will be free to enjoy the beaches and national park. Breathe in crystal clear air and enjoy views of snow-capped mountains and the brilliant blue waters of the Dart River as you recall the scenes that played out in Isengard. Complete the trip by strolling beneath the trees of the Forest of Lothlorien (Paradise Forest).
When to go: October to April; head there for Christmas or CNY but book early as this sells out fast.
How to get there: Daily flights from Hong Kong to Auckland
Brazil’s variety makes it a fantastic place to take your family. From the nature of the Amazon Rainforest to the stunning sight of Iguassu Falls and the many wonderful beaches, this 13 day trip to Brazil has been carefully put together to guarantee that no time is wasted. With only two internal flights, travel is kept to a minimum, whilst you still see and do plenty during your break.
Begin at the beach town of Buzios, where you can unwind on one of the beautiful tropical beaches in the area and enjoy many of the activities on offer. Next stop is at the stunning, thundering Iguassu Falls, where you can stay at the new Awsi in Iguazu Argentina. As one of the most anticipated hotel openings of 2017, we’re excited to see how it measures up to expectations once it opens in February 2018. To minimise environmental impact, this hidden paradise is set high above the forest floor, even though it’s located right at the banks surrounded by the Atlantic Rainforest. Each villa has a high level of privacy amongst the canopies. Stay for a few nights to explore the fascinating diversity of the Argentine Misiones rainforest. Your final destination is Rio, where you can be guided around the city by a local carioca and relax on the beaches of Copacabana or Ipanema, before flying home.
When to go: September to March. December Feb can be rainy but the falls are at their peak.
How to get there: Connecting flights with Emirates; or fly to NYC for second leg.
Galapagos Islands are on top of the list of animal lovers. Blessed with an abundance of unique marine wildlife and land animals, you can easily get up-close with giant turtles, marine iguana, penguins, sharks and rays.
For Ecuador, its compact size, wealth of natural habitat, wildlife, history and small country charm makes it an easy adventure for families. In August 2018, Quito will celebrate the Festival of Lights, where stunning light images project onto the city’s buildings in the Old Town. Not far North West of Quito lays the cloud forest. High up in the mountains where the weather is milder, you and the kids will come across colourful hummingbirds.
This 15 day itinerary is perfect for those looking to make the very most of their time in Ecuador. Offering plenty time to explore the huge diversity of traditional culture, exotic wildlife, unique flora and physical wonders.
Begin your adventure in the Andean region of the Otavalo, staying in an authentic hacienda and exploring the area on privately guided excursions before heading to the beautiful colonial capital, Quito. Then it’s on to discover the teeming wildlife and winding waterways of the Ecuadorian Amazon, based at a remote eco lodge deep in the forest. Finally, to enjoy a luxury discovery of Ecuador, embark upon a seven-night cruise of the Galapagos Islands, getting up close and personal with the fascinating wildlife on land and underwater.
When to go: All year-round destination, Jacada recommend August for the Festival of Lights in Quito.
How to get there: Fly to LA before connecting to Quito
From snowy adventures and wildlife experiences, to snuggling up in front of crackling fires and gazing up at the night sky, there are so many memories waiting to be made on this family trip to Helsinki and Saariselkä in the Finnish Lapland.
This exciting trip begins with a few days of exploring Helskinki as you visit some of the most well-known sites, buildings and monuments. From there, you will head over to Saariselkä where you and the little ones can settle into a cosy log cabin in a forest for the rest of your stay.
Once the sun has gone down, bundle into a sled and go out looking for the Northern Lights pulled along by (a real life) reindeer. Enjoy a Lappish dinner in a kota (log hut) at the reindeer farm. Your guide will also talk to you about Sami culture and reindeer herding. Another memorable experience is the husky safari. Mush through the snowy landscape taking turns to drive and be a passenger (the husky’s are stronger than you’d think, so kids will need to be sat with a parent in the sleigh). Don’t miss your chance to spend some time with the huskies back at the farm afterwards.
Younger members of your party between the ages of 4 and 13 will jump at the chance to learn to drive their own mini-snowmobiles around a track, while their parents keep an eye on them. There will be a guide on hand to show them the ropes and ensure everyone has fun. Later, you’ll be taken to the longest slope in Finland for an afternoon of tobogganing. And finally, the highlight for young adventurers will be the chance to go in search of the real Santa Claus. Head through the snowy forest and see if you can spot elves and reindeer before you meet with the jolly man in red himself.
When to go: Christmas to meet Santa Claus!
How to get there: Direct flight to Helsinki 5 days a week.
South Africa is the top destination for families at Jacada Travel for a reason. Explore the vibrant city of Cape Town, discover Africa’s famous wildlife on safaris that have been planned in great detail, enjoy effortless transfers and baby-sitter services while sipping on some of the world’s finest wines. The dream!
This trip offers a wide array of activities, making it suitable for every member of the family. 2018 Summer is a good time to visit South Africa with the opening of Morukuru Beach Lodge, a new luxury boutique eco lodge located on the pristine coastline dotted with towering white sand dunes, rock pools and coastal fynbos – it is here that you can easily go whale watching. Summer is also a perfect time for Oyster lovers; Knysna Oyster Festival is back with over 100 activities spread over 10 days, perfect for family, kids and even sport lovers.
This 10 day itinerary is a classic trip for first time visitors. Begin with four nights in Cape Town where you can explore its coastal scenery, Western Cape wildlife, culinary and its lively cosmopolitan metropolis – all with our private guides and tours.
Next up, travel to the exclusive Sabi Sabi reserve on the edges of the Kruger National Park to spot the world’s famous Big Five. Optional activities on offer include hot air ballooning, cultural excursions, bush picnics and sleep-outs in between relaxing at your luxurious lodge.
Finally, for your final two nights at one of Africa’s greatest wonders, the mighty Victoria Falls, on the banks of the Zambezi River. Parents can dive into the Devil’s Pool or Angel’s Pool (depending on the season), and there’s also a calmer pool for kids to enjoy.
When to go: Year-round destination, we suggest early July for Oyster Festival and a stay at the brand new Morukuru Beach Lodge.
How to get there: Daily flight from Hong Kong to Johannesburg with Cathay, and connecting flight to Cape Town.
This is the ultimate wilderness playground for a family with teenagers, looking for a jaw-dropping, once in a life time summer holiday in 2018.
With over 2 million animals migrating from the Serengeti to Maasai Mara in Kenya every year, the Great Migration is a guaranteed thrilling drama in a race for life. On the cultural front, you can feel the adrenaline rush as Maasai warriors compete in a jumping contest over a boma fire, get goosebumps hearing the chanting cries of the Samburu warriors and the maidens at courtship dance ceremonies and visit the Turkana’s home to learn about their nomadic lifestyles.
This 9 day itinerary begins with a night in Nairobi, before flying into the famous Maasai Mara National Park, where you’ll enjoy morning and evening game drives. Watch as thousands of wildebeest thunder across the plains and across rivers, creating not just an incredible sight but an awe-inspiring sound as well. Your guides and trackers will drive you into the reserve daily and position you at the best vantage points for the infamous river crossings and thrilling wildlife action. For something different, witness the action from a hot air balloon or a helicopter and soak in the diverse landscape too.
You can then head to the Mara Conservancies for more game viewing and finally onto the fabulous Chyulu Hills area, a stunning landscape (on a clear day, there are views of Kilimanjaro) where you can engage with the local communities of Maasai in an authentic and engaging way.
Landscape, thrilling migration and authentic cultural encounters – Kenya has it all.
When to go: July to October for migration.
How to get there: Connecting flights with Qatar Airways or Emirates.
Located off the southeast coast of Africa, this isolated island is home to unique animals such as lemur, chameleons, tomato frogs and aye-aye. About 75% of the species found in the country live nowhere else on the planet. This unique land is also home to about 12,000 plant species, including the famous baobab tree.
Since the arrival of humans over 2,000 years ago, the country has lost more than 90% of its original forest. As of 2012, over 1,000 species including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians became extinct, however the island still has plenty weird and wonderful things to offer and should be on top of anyone’s bucket list.
One of Jacada’s Travel Designers has just come back from Madagascar and is in the process of consolidating various tours and activities, identifying suitable hotels and lodges and crafting sample itineraries to roll out in 2018. Stay tuned!
When to go: April to November
How to get there: Connecting flights from Johannesburg to Antananarivo.
All images courtesy of Jacada Travel