September 1, 2015

Be an Explorer in the Sea of Cortez

One of the most magical, bio-diverse, and unimaginably beautiful places in the world is the Sea of Cortez. While there is much to love about Baja, Mexico, the Sea of Cortez is definitely something that stands out. It sets a scene that anyone who lays eyes on it won’t ever forget. What is so captivating about the Sea of Cortez isn’t the beauty on the surface, but the wonder below it. It’s a body of water that has been explored in the past and will continue to be explored in the future. A few expeditions have become more well known than others and hearing about two of these famous journeys will make anyone excited to book a family vacation out to Baja and dive head first into the Sea of Cortez.

John Steinbeck

dolphins bajaIn 1940, author John Steinbeck went on asix-week expedition in the Sea of Cortez to collect marine specimens. What was an author doing on a marine biology expedition? Good question! Essentially, Steinbeck was looking for a new start after he gained fame for Tortilla Flat and The Grapes of Wrath. He was interested in marine biology and his friend, marine biologist Ed Ricketts, was looking for a new adventure. Steinbeck’s exploration of the Sea of Cortez served as an important journey. You can read all about this expedition in Steinbeck’s book The Log from the Sea of Cortez. Steinbeck was not just a fan of the Sea of Cortez, but of the Baja peninsula as whole.

Jacques Cousteau

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One of the most famous modern day explorers, the Frenchman Jacques Cousteau led more than one expedition to the Sea of Cortez.  He did much of his exploring in the 1960’s and felt strongly enough about what he saw that he called the Sea of Cortez the “Aquarium of the World.” It’s no secret any more that the waters in the sea are full of rich and biodiverse marine life. Many locals refer to Cortez as the “whale highway” because of the migration path of whales during the winter months (visitors during this time can normally see dozens of whales at a time!). Whales aren’t all that can be found here. People should keep an eye peeled for dolphins, sea lions, manta rays, and over 900 species of fish that come in all colors and sizes!

You don’t need to be a famous author or explorer to enjoy the natural treasures of the Sea of Cortez. All you need to do is go!



August 26, 2015

4 Reasons Panama Is Great for Kids

Some places in the world are great for you to travel to and some are great to for you travel to with your kids. Panama is definitely the latter! Panama is rich with history, culture, innovation, wildlife, and adventure. There are plenty of opportunities for fun and education while on a family vacation in Panama. What we find kids love about Panama, you will too!

Wildlife

Bird in Panama

There is nothing kids love more than seeing wildlife up close and personal! Panama is home to over 900 species of birds, making it somewhat of a must-visit destination for bird lovers. Being able to watch as colorful toucans or quetzals leave their perch in a tree to take off and glide and streak through the sky is nothing short of amazing. White-faced capuchin monkeys stare as you make your way through jungles and down rivers because they are just as curious as your kids are! Seeing animals in their natural habitats create an excitement that no screen or device can.

Adventure

Nothing says family vacation like a little adrenaline pumping fun! Panama is a great place to let out your inner daredevil (in a safe and organized fashion) and make some memories. The Chiriqui Highlands are a playground for nature lovers and adventurers alike. Kids won’t ever forget seeing streams and waterfalls beneath them as they fly through a treetop canopy on a zip-line! Another fun adventure in the highlands is white-water rafting. Your kids will love taking on Class II and III rapids with plenty of breaks for swimming!

Meeting an Embera Tribe

Embera Canoe

No trip abroad is complete without a chance to meet the locals and Panama has some of the best. Imagine a scene where you take your kids into a dugout canoe and slowly begin to paddle up the Charges River in the middle of a jungle. Along the way you pass thatched houses that blend perfectly into the fabric of the environment. This is what a journey to an Embera village looks like. This journey back in time to when things were simpler and technology didn’t rule the day will be an education your kids won’t soon forget and can’t get anywhere else!

Visit a Panamanian Farm

Visiting a Panamanian farm is a great way to show your kids how a modern day rural Panamanian family lives. Boquete is an exceptionally beautiful region and nothing proves this more than the local farms. Try your hand at milking cows and feeding pigs and chickens while taking in sweeping views of mountains and fields. Learning to make jams from rare tropical fruits and traditional tamales is a life skill that will stay in your family forever!

Take the family vacation you deserve and call us to visit Panama today!



August 18, 2015

20 Reasons Not to Go to Peru

Peru is obviously a terrible place to take a family vacation and we don’t know what good things to say about it, if there are any.

1. There’s nothing beautiful or magical about Machu Picchu

beautiful Machu Picchu - a perfect family vacation destination

2. Really, there isn’t anything worth seeing

Machu Picchu

3. Everything is old, who likes finding ancient Incan ruins anyway?

Incan Ruins

4. Llamas aren’t cool or fun animals at all

Llamas in Peru

5. And why would you ever want to meet one?

up close with llamas on a family vacation to peru

6. The weaving isn’t colorful or artistic

Peruvian art

7. There isn’t anything good to buy in the markets

shopping at the markets while on a Peru family vacation

8. The fruit doesn’t look appetizing either

delicious looking fruit at a market in Peru

9. San Blas seems like a drag and unoriginal

San Blas

10. All of the cities seem pretty bland

Peru City

11. The churches aren’t beautiful by any means

a church in Peru

12. Or unique

Peru churches

13. Nothing exciting, fun, or different ever happens

a performance in Peru

14. No one ever has fun river rafting

a family river rafting while vacationing in Peru

15. Or taking mountain valley train rides

riding the train while on a family vacation in Peru

16. All of the birds are boring

Colorful birds in Peru

17. And who would want to see this?

Peruvian reed boats

18. Or hike here?

hiking in Peru

19. Or sleep next to this terrible view?

a family camping in Peru

20. There is also no way your family has fun

family having fun while on vacation in Peru

Check out these Peru itineraries to see what you won’t be missing out on!



August 11, 2015

Where Will You Be This Winter?

A great way to spend the winter and the holidays is off on an adventure. If you’re a Northeast Coaster like we are at Thomson Family Adventures, there is nothing we understand more than wanting to escape the snow (especially after last winter!). If you’re from the warmer regions of the country, there is no way to make the holiday season more memorable or special than spending it in an exciting new place with the ones you love. Lucky for you, we have four great destinations for a winter and holiday time family vacation!

Galapagos

galapagos sea lions

The holiday season is full of wonder and amazement, but nothing will compare to the wonder or inspire the amazement that the Galapagos Islands will for your family. This is one of the few places in the world that has sustained its pristine natural biodiversity and charm with minimal change from human intervention. The conservation efforts on the islands are top of the line and allow you to see beautiful beaches, swim with playful sea lions, find old giant tortoises, and explore picturesque islands. This will be the best gift you can get your kids for the holidays!

South Africa

One of our new family vacation destinations, South Africa has an unrivaled country spirit. With a deep history producing revolutionary figures like Nelson Mandela, South Africa is a cultural and historical adventure like no other. It is a country dedicated to social empowerment and development that will inspire you and your children. There are also great intimate family safari opportunities in South Africa. You can see the Big 5 up close and enjoy magical evenings as the sun slowly sets, casting dark hues of oranges, reds, and yellows, over the South African bush.

Baja

There is something in Baja for everyone. It has plenty of active sport options, good for all ages, from surfing and kayaking to hiking and horseback riding. Or you can saunter around the cultural beach towns of La Paz or Todos Santos taking in the local art and food scenes. Escaping the cold for a beach town sounds just about perfect to us, even more so after remembering the average temperature in December is a cool 80 degrees!

Costa Rica

CR waterfall break

A destination that is perfect for multigenerational family vacations is Costa Rica. The National Parks of Corcovado and Manuel Antonio offer exciting opportunities to explore this amazing tropical land. you can sit by waterfalls in the jungle and enjoy fresh, juicy, and delicious fruit or relax on warm secluded beaches! It’s easy to fall in love with Costa Rica and sharing the experience with your family will make it even more unforgettable.

The holiday season is a great time to travel since everyone will be under one roof. Use this this time for a family vacation and have a holiday adventure your family will talk about forever!



August 5, 2015

7 Reasons To Bring Your Older Kids to Thailand

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Finding the right place to take your older kids on a family vacation can be challenging. You want them to have fun and learn without feeling like kids(although they will always be kids to you!). One destination perfect for this kind of adventure is Thailand. Here are seven reasons why Thailand is great for older kids!
Islands and Beaches
The beaches in Thailand are the epitome of tropical beauty. There is no island that encompasses this like Phuket. Famous for its white sand beaches that disappear into emerald teal waters and sandstone islands that tower out of the bay. There are stretches of untouched and private beach on small islands like Koh Yao Noi or Koh Yao Yai that are perfect for quiet and relaxing family time. Not to mention fun activities like snorkeling and diving!
The Temples and Palaces
Thailand is a country with beautiful temples and architecture. Some temples are intricately and delicately decorated in strong bright colors with golden spires and sparkling mosaics. Others are more modest and may be set atop a mountain. Visiting the Royal Grand Palace and Wat Pho in Bangkok are sites not to be missed.

thailand
Markets
Both Bangkok and Chiang Mai have unique markets where you can find almost anything! Visit the floating market in Bangkok where 10,000 boats cover the canals to create an incredible market where you can pick out fruits and vegetables for snacks throughout the day! The night markets in Chiang Mai are a true adventure in the art of haggling!
Arts and Culture
Learning about the culture of Buddhism is a really sophisticated discussion to have with kids. It’s great to discuss hot the art and architecture is so beautiful and inspiring or how the peaceful friendly people are eager to talk about their lives and philosophies.
Natural Wonders
Spending time in the natural wonders of a place can be the best part of traveling. You can search for waterfalls, wild plants, and the rare green-tailed sunbird while hiking in Doi Inthanon near Chiang Mai. Being the national animal of the country, elephants are a major part of Thai culture. You spend an entire day with an elephant and learn to care for it which is a lesson in responsibility and respect. It’s also an unforgettable experience to share with family!

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Time to Experiment
Have unique experiences like a Thai massage, fish spa, eating roasted grasshopper, and riding in a tuk tuk. With an extra day in Bangkok you can try the incredibly clean and organized city rail system or have a custom suit made for the coming job interviews. Take a class in the martial art of muay thai or attend a professional fight. The chances to try something new Thailand are endless; you just need to be there!
Food
One of the things that Thailand is most known for is its delicious cuisine. The spicy and flavorful dishes will wake up your taste buds like no other food ever has. A few favorites are papaya salad, pad thai, tom yum soup, and phat kaphrao. Take a Thai cooking class to learn how to create these incredible flavors. This is a lesson your older kids will learn to love even more after moving away from your home cooking!
While Thailand is great country for all ages to visit, older kids are able to dive deeper into the culture of the country for a more sophisticated and thoughtful experience. Take your older kids on a family vacation they’ll never forget!



July 28, 2015

What Makes a South Africa Family Vacation so Magical?

South Africa is country that begs to be explored. It’s a magical place from its cities to its bushveld. South Africa has something for everyone, history lovers, wildlife explorers, sports fans, and everything in-between. With a troubled past and bright future, thanks to a strong and warm people, South Africa becomes more than just a destination for vacation or a trip. It becomes an experience that can be trans-formative for travelers. To begin to understand what makes South Africa a magical place, you need to understand its history, current strides toward progress, and a bit about what makes it unique.

History

It wasn’t until 1994 that apartheid, state enforced racial segregation, was officially disbanded and South Africa held its first fair and democratically held presidential election. In the first election under the new constitution, Nelson Mandela won the presidency. Nelson Mandela’s victory did not come easy. It took decades of social activism by a majority of the country and Mandela himself spent 18 years in a political prison on Robben Island. Visiting Robben Island is one way to see South Africa’s history up close. Although apartheid isn’t too far in the past, it’s the dedication and outlook toward a better future that is inspiring and kids and adults alike will have an unmatched learning experience while in South Africa.

Social and Cultural Development

Music is a great way to spur social and cultural development

Music is a great way to spur social and cultural development

When Thomson Family Adventures sends families to South Africa we make sure that it is not only educational but fun! As mentioned earlier, the past of South Africa is troubled. The effects of apartheid have not yet all been eradicated. The good news is that there are several programs that are dedicated to bettering the communities and people of South Africa. By visiting youth development programs in Cape Town’s Langa Township you can meet the people and kids working towards a better South African future through dance, music, and the arts. When staying at the Grootbos Reserve it’s rewarding to see how your travels can positively impact a community, not mention its location in the beautiful fynbos. There is no feeling like making new friends and giving back to the world while in the midst of an adventure!

Unique Wildlife

Cape buffalo spotted on safari!

Cape buffalo spotted on safari!

It isn’t just the people in South Africa that are magical and inspiring, it’s also the wildlife. You may know that South Africa is one place that you can spot the Big 5 animals in Africa. Going out on a safari to see lions, elephants, Cape buffalo, rhinos, and leopards can be life changing. Not only can you find the Big 5 in South Africa, but also the Marine Big 5: bottle-nose dolphins, African penguins, fur seals, whales, and the great white shark. This is the only country in the world where you can find the Big 10! You’ll also get to see zebras, wild dogs, giraffes, and gazelles. These are the types of animals that most people only see on TV or in a zoo. Seeing them out in the open and in their natural habitat is a completely different feeling and will inspire awe and wonder in you and your child.

Feel the magic of South Africa on your next family vacation!



July 21, 2015

6 Things You Have to See in Brazil to Understand

Brazil is a wonderful country that has been a regular stop on the travel circuit for some time now. The great weather, beautiful beaches, scenic views, adoring people, and exciting culture are just a few of the reasons why this is the case. There is a lot of information out there about Brazil given its size, fifth largest in the world in area and population, and being the host country for major global events, the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. But no matter what you read (yes, including this article!), there are a few things that you can only truly understand by going to Brazil and seeing them for yourself!

Spot a Jaguar

A jaguar sitting on a log in the Pantanal.

A jaguar sitting on a log in the Pantanal.

The jaguar is a truly majestic creature that prowls the jungles of South America. There was a time when jaguars were abundant in the wild but that is no longer the case. The jaguar is elusive, stealthy, powerful, and one of the best places to spot the big cat is in the jungles of Brazil. Seeing the jaguar in its natural habitat is a rare experience that not many people have.

Experience the Pantanal

A large area of Brazil is jungle and one of the most fascinating parts of that jungle is the Pantanal region. If you mixed the Amazon rain forest with the Serengeti of Africa and sprinkled a bit of Florida’s everglades on top, you’d have the Pantanal. This is one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet and is home to wildlife such as capuchin and howler monkeys, jaguars, giant river otters, caimans, extremely colorful and diverse birds, and thousands of fish species. It’s hard to imagine until you see it with your own eyes.

Stand with Christ the Redeemer

Christo Blanco

One of the new Seven Wonders of the World is the Christ the Redeemer statue. This impressive sculpture overlooks the brilliant city of Rio de Janeiro. It sits atop Corcovado Hill and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. There is a certain feeling that only comes with standing next to the statue and overlooking Rio.

 

Enjoy a Churrascaria

A favorite for all travelers, this Brazilian style BBQ gives a new definition to all you can eat. In this style of BBQ, the meat is brought fresh off of the grill to your table and sliced directly on to your plate. It’s hard to find anything as fresh as that! Not a fan of meat? That’s all right too. These meals are usually full of fruit and vegetable dishes that have made Brazilian cuisine famous.

See The Beautiful Game

Brazil has won the FIFA World Cup a record of five times. No other country has done that and it may be because Brazil plays the game more beautifully than anyone else. The style of play is unique to Brazil and was even the source of a Nike campaign almost a decade ago. The passion that Brazilians have for football is unmatched and seeing a game in Brazil is enough to get anyone, even the most passive fan, excited about the beautiful game!

Learn About the Golden Lion Tamarin

golden lion tamarin

There are only about 1,500 Golden Lion Tamarin monkeys remaining in the wild in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. These tamarins are dapper and under severe threat. Take a trip to the Golden Lion Tamarin Project outside of Rio and learn about the conservation efforts in place to save these animals from extinction. Actually seeing the Golden Lion Tamarins in their natural habitat will be an unforgettable education that you can only get there!

All of these are great options for families that want to have a memorable, educational, and truly Brazilian family vacation. We’ve just updated our itinerary to make this the best possible trip for your family, call today and book your Brazilian family vacation!



July 14, 2015

Explore Italy’s Volcanoes

When you think of Italy what comes to mind? Is it pasta, wine, Shakespeare, the Vatican, pizza, gelato? While these do all shout Italy— you may not think to say volcanoes. Interestingly enough, you should! Southern Italy and especially the islands are a hot bed (no pun intended) for volcanic activity. Italy is home to over a dozen volcanoes, most of which are dormant. Currently there are three active volcanoes in Italy: Mount Etna, Stromboli, and Mount Vesuvius. Since they are the only active volcanoes in the country they are by far the most interesting! These volcanoes are fun, filled with activities, and offer unique education experiences making them great places to visit on a family vacation!

Mount Etna

After a hike on Mount Etna! Photo: M. Tomasello

After a hike on Mount Etna!                Photo: M. Tomasello

On the Eastern Coast of Sicily, between the cities of Catania and Messina, sits Mount Etna. At just under 11,000 feet tall, this is not only the tallest active volcano in Italy but on the entire European continent. To add to Etna’s ambiance, it is also the one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Staying in Catania and hiking the slopes of Mount Etna is a great way to learn how volcanoes play an integral role in their environments. The volcanic ash from Etna has made the soil incredibly fertile, boosting the agricultural output of the area, specifically, enhancing the production of vineyards and orchards. With all of its recent activity and because of the nearby population, Mount Etna has been named one of 16 Decade Volcanoes by the United Nations and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013.

Mount Stromboli

A Stromboli Eruption Photo: C. Migeon

A Stromboli Eruption Photo: C. Migeon

For the last 2,000 years, Stromboli, one of the eight Aeolian Islands, has been in a continuous eruption. This isn’t as scary as it sounds. Stromboli regularly erupts in intervals that can last as long as minutes or hours. These are small bursts of lava fragments, ash, and stone blocks that spray a few hundred meters into the air. These eruptions are almost always explosive but there are times when a lava flow occurs. You can hike on Stromboli to see the “Stairway of Fire,” the path that lava takes to the sea, an incredible opportunity that no one should miss. Another great feature of Stromboli is its picturesque coves that are perfect to go swimming in!

Mount Vesuvius

Vesuvius from the coast Photo: E. Cali

Vesuvius from the coast  Photo: E. Cali

 

Probably the most famous of Italy’s volcanoes is Mount Vesuvius. Vesuvius reached international and everlasting fame after its eruption in 79 AD that buried and destroyed several Italian cities, including Pompeii. The eruption in 79 AD spewed molten rock and lava upwards of 20 miles into the air which caused much of the destruction. The ruins of Pompeii are well preserved and a popular destination for travelers to mainland Italy. The last major eruption of Vesuvius was in 1944, making it the only volcano in mainland Europe to have erupted in the last 100 years. Vesuvius is to be respected and admired. There are great trails on its slopes and it’s a great fixture to have in the backdrop of a picture!

Italy’s volcanoes are only part of the country’s beauty and personality. Taking a vacation to the islands and volcanoes of Italy is educational, fun, and exciting. Take a look at our Italy family vacation itinerary or give us a call today to plan the next amazing vacation that your family will have!



July 10, 2015

Four of Our Favorite Family Vacation Destinations on Four Different Continents

One of the toughest parts of planning a family vacation is deciding where to go. With so many places to travel for your next vacation we understand that choosing a destination can be a little overwhelming. Is the place kid friendly? Will my kids have fun? Will they also learn? Will I be able to have fun and relax? The answer to all of those questions should be a resounding YES. We have a few destinations that are a firm yes to all of those questions across the globe. Here are four (each on a separate continent for variety) that are a good place to start looking to plan a family vacation!

Africa: South Africa

A view of Cape Town from the water

A view of Cape Town from the water

One of the premier destinations in Africa for all things fun, educational, and family friendly is South Africa. After holding its first democratic election in 1994, the country has come a long way. Just off of the coast of Cape Town an important spot to visit is Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner for 18 years. Apart from the political history of the country, there are also incredible sites. From the view of the magnificent Table Mountain to the wild fynbos of the Cape Floral Kingdom, you will always be left in awe. This isn’t even to mention what you’ll see on a South African safari (here’s a clue: think Big 5 and then way more). Also for mom and dad, South Africa has an amazing selection of locally produced wines to make for optimal evening relaxation!

 

 

Asia: Thailand

Having some fun with an elephant!

Having some fun with an elephant!

Exotic? Check. Exciting? Check. Exhilarating? Check. Other adjectives that start with ‘ex’? Check! Thailand is a great family vacation destination that offers families a great cultural experience. The streets of Bangkok are a constant hustle with tuk-tuks, food stalls, and people darting in and out of shops and work. While it is a site to see, getting around can be a bit easier and more fun on a boat! The khlongs (canals) in Bangkok are a great way to see the sites without getting caught in the traffic of the city. Thailand also has a wonderful northern region full of hiking opportunities and chances to care for elephants all day. That’s right— all day! No conversation about Thailand would be complete without mentioning the cool emerald and teal waters of the islands like Phuket and Koh Yao Noi where relaxation is not only encouraged, but guaranteed!

Europe: Ireland

A classic destination that all types of travelers want to visit and it isn’t hard to see why. Ireland is known for its friendly people with talkative personalities but the real pull to Ireland, is its rolling green hills in the countryside and its fun historical cities. Dublin is one of a kind as it can immediately transport you to medieval times as you walk through the heart of the city stopping in the famous places such as Temple Bar, O’Connell Street, and Trinity College. Crossing the country west to Connemara is one of the most beautiful rides that your family can take as you wind through the scenic hills and quaint farms out to the Atlantic. With a friendly reputation and plenty of activities for kids, Ireland family vacations are great!

South America: Brazil

A jaguar resting in the Pantanal.

A jaguar resting in the Pantanal.

This is a country that can speak for itself. Rio is impressive and fun for travelers of any age with unlimited venues for entertainment and gorgeous beaches that stretch for miles. This is s a passionate city full of life and excitement! Although, many may argue that this isn’t even the most exciting area of Brazil. Heading out to the amazon and trekking through the lush and diverse Pantanal region is nothing short of unforgettable. With thousands of plant species and hundreds of animals you’re sure to see something in the Pantanal that you can’t see anywhere else. This includes the quiet and mysterious jaguar! Kids will love a nighttime jeep ride to try and spot the magnificent creature!

At Thomson Family Adventures we always have you on our minds. This is just a sample of a few places that families love to visit. Call us today to hear about them or feel free to explore our site and see the other destinations that we can help you see on your next family vacation!



July 7, 2015

What I’ve Seen: South Africa

We are getting ready to launch a new family trip to South Africa and thought it would be a good idea to let you in on the experience! A member of our team, Claudia, went to Cape Town and out on safari to learn all she could about South Africa. We asked her a few questions about her trip to give you an idea of what your next family vacation might look like!

Here's Claudia and her friend Ivy at the Cape of Good Hope

Here’s Claudia and her friend Ivy at the Cape of Good Hope

Can you give us an overview of your trip to South Africa?

I spent two wonderfully busy weeks there in late April, early May. We stayed 5 nights in glorious Cape Town, one night at Grootbos in the scenic Western Cape, three nights in bustling Johannesburg (a.k.a. Joburg) and four nights in the bush. We drove six-and-a-half hours from Joburg to Timbavati Game Reserve, which provided great perspective from the Highveld to the Lowveld.

South Africa has a troubled history that’s not too far in the past; could you still signs of this as a traveler and did it affect your trip in any way?

I was amazed how far the country has progressed since apartheid. For example, in 1950, the South African government banned marriages between whites and people of other races. The Population Registration Act of 1950 provided the basic framework for apartheid by classifying all South Africans by race, including Bantu (black Africans), Colored (mixed race) and white. A fourth category, Asian (meaning Indian and Pakistani) was later added. In some cases, the legislation split families; parents could be classified as white, while their children were classified as colored. In December 2006, South Africa became the fifth country in the world, the first in Africa, to allow legal marriages between same-sex couples. Pretty impressive! (The ban on interracial marriages was lifted in 1985.)

What was the best part of this trip for you?

Wild dogs spotted on Safari

Wild dogs spotted on Safari

It’s difficult to pick my favorite part of the trip, as there was something special in each location. Cape Town is unbelievably beautiful and the bush (safari) is tough to beat with opportunities of being a stone’s throw away from rhinos and wild dogs. For me, Joburg was an unexpected highlight. I had the opportunity to visit a few inspirational museums that exhibit and display the hardships of apartheid in a way that leaves you craving to learn more about this tumultuous period. In addition to perusing the museums, I was able to explore two townships – Soweto and Kliptown – two very different communities all striving for the same thing – a better life. The people of Johannesburg are prosperous people and the spirit of entrepreneurship is everywhere.

What part did you like the least?

Flying. I’m not a big fan.

South Africa isn’t typically thought of as a safari destination but you went on one there. How was it?

Stopping for a sip of water!

Stopping for a sip of water!

Actually, South Africa is a popular destination for safari-goers. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to experience a handful of safaris in Tanzania, which is completely different than the safari experience in South Africa. In Tanzania, it’s like stepping into Noah’s Ark. You’ll see hundreds and hundreds of wildebeest, zebra and antelope and the vastness of the country is grand; whereas, in South Africa, the experience is intimate. You’ll see a few rhino, wild dog and lion in an up-close and personal way. The experience is quite exhilarating! I truly feel like people seeking a 10-plus day trip filled with extraordinary wildlife viewing should consider our family safari to Tanzania. If you and your family are seeking a little bit of everything – including marine life – family South Africa is the trip for you.

Would you take your kids or niece and nephew on this trip?

You betcha! I have a poster pinned on my cork board at work that reads, “Seek Adventures That Open Your Mind”.  South Africa will open your mind! South Africans are strong, curious and aware people. The older generation had to be this way in order to survive, and it’s places like South Africa that the next generation must experience to understand how history has shaped the world we live in today. Apartheid cannot be forgotten.

What about your parents or grandparents?

You betcha! South Africa is very diverse. Come learn about the Land Big 5, the Marine Big 5, South Africa’s turbulent history, its vibrant cultures, and tasty wines all while being awed by its surrounding natural beauty!

Did you feel culture shock at any point, why? If not, why do you think you didn’t?

I did not and that’s probably due to my trips to Tanzania and other underdeveloped countries in the world. There are considerable differences between the US and South Africa, but I never felt inconvenienced. I could connect to WiFi at the hotels, I could easily access money at ATMS and I had no problems conversing with people in English as is commonly spoken throughout Africa, along with 11 other official languages.

Did you feel safe in South Africa? Whether it was your time out on safari or walking around Cape Town?

The Gardens at Kirstenbosch in Cape Town

The Gardens at Kirstenbosch in Cape Town

Truthfully, I never felt unsafe or in harm’s way. I may have had my adrenaline rise as a pride of lions walked by our safari vehicle, but I never felt unsafe.

How were the flights getting to and from South Africa?

My international flights were smooth. I flew roundtrip on Delta Airlines. On the outbound flight I flew from Boston to Cape Town via Amsterdam, a flight I’m very familiar with. On the return, I flew from Joburg to Boston via Atlanta, the largest airport hub in the world. The flight from Joburg to Atlanta was slightly under 17 hours long.

Is there something about South Africa that you could really only know from being there? Something you won’t find in a guide book?

The entire experience. To learn, read a book. To experience, go travel.

The view from famous Table Mountain

The view from famous Table Mountain

There you have it— South Africa in a nutshell! If you have any lingering questions just give us a call and we’ll be happy to answer them for you and set your family up with an incredible vacation experience!