South Africa

March 16, 2017

Best Destinations for your Next Family Vacation

Are you struggling to figure out where your next family vacation will be? Not sure you’d like to leave it up to the “fate” of “close your eyes and stick a pin on the map, that’s where we’ll go!”? With over 18 years of experience in the family vacations game, we’ve been to some of the best destinations in the world for families, some more exotic than others but all with something really special to offer. Below is a quick snip it of some of the best destinations for a family vacation!

Baja

Baja may be “close to home” but for many of us, will feel worlds away! Bright blue skies, crisp clear turquoise waters, rugged, pristine coastline and an eclectic group of locals make Baja a truly unique destination. In Baja you can also go glamping, which is basically the best and most comfortable form of camping that you could imagine. Add in swimming with sea lions and whale sharks and everyone will have a good time!

kayaking on a baja family vacation

Panama

Panama may be small in size but there is no question the country is bursting with adventure and flavor! From exploring the monumental giant, yes the Panama Canal, to spending an afternoon with a local indigenous tribe, relaxing on white sandy Caribbean beaches and even hiking through the jungles teeming with wildlife. Panama has something special to offer any adventure seeking family.

Thailand

The home of bustling Bangkok, quiet countryside, and picturesque beaches- there is something for everyone. Visit the night markets, spend a day caring for Elephants, give alms to Buddhist Monks, and snorkel alongside James Bond Island. Action, culture, oh and did I mention delicious, authentic Thai cuisine? Whether you have a family of older kids, millennials, or pre-teens; the long flight is well worth it to experience Thailand, an amazing country.

South Africa

It’s quite the commute to get here, but trust me; it’s totally worth it! A family vacation to South Africa is bursting with cultural differences, varied economic backgrounds, breathtaking scenery, and incredible wildlife viewing. The history within Cape Town, the stories of the struggle, and the vibrant, flourishing metropolis it is today provides a humbling feeling as you walk through the streets. The beautiful private nature reserves, the hospitality, and the flora is just “wow!” And finally, who doesn’t want to see elephants, lions, leopards, and the rest of the Big 5 up close and personal? The private game reserves allow you to see some of the most incredible animals at a distance where you don’t need to zoom in on your camera. It’s an experience like nothing else!

Croatia

Any history buff would appreciate the elegance and colorful beauty steeped within this amazing country. From architecture dating back to the 15-century Gothic-Renaissance era to 12th century churches. The charming cities of Dubrovnik and Split tell beautiful stories of the past, present, and future. For those that appreciate that perfect Instagram backdrop will have so many options here! I mean, you are exploring the Dalmatian coast, the epitome of the Mediterranean dream – bright blue waters, old stone fortresses and buildings lining the edge of the sea, and big dramatic cliffs overlooking white sandy beaches. Croatia is truly an amazing destination.



October 13, 2016

5 Reasons to Visit South Africa on a Family Vacation

South Africa is one of the most expansive, educational, far reaching, and culturally exciting places in the world! There are a lot of reasons to go and visit this amazing place. It was difficult, but we were able to break down 5 of the best reasons for a family vacation to South Africa.

Natural Beauty

beautiful views as seen on a family vacation to south africa

From Table Mountain, to the dramatic coastlines and rocky inlets, the scenery in South Africa is absolutely stunning. There’s no shortage of these views either. There’s an options to take a cable car, which rotates 360 degrees, to the top of Table Mountain. This is one way to see a lot of breathtaking views in one short ride!

Diverse Cultural Experiences

a group experiencing diverse cultures as part of a family vacation to South Africa

South Africa, also known as the Rainbow Nation, celebrates its diverse people. You can go almost anywhere in South Africa and experience the many different cultures meeting people that all have very unique backgrounds. If you’re lucky you may even pick up one of the 11 official languages of the country!

Adventure

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In-between cultural exchanges and wildlife viewing, there is always an adventure waiting in South Africa. Your family can take jeep rides through the bush passing by beautiful and brightly colored flowers that you won’t believe grow on right next to the rugged terrain you just crossed. From exhilarating mountain hikes and jeep rides to shark cage diving and whale watching, there is something for everyone!

Wildlife

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South Africa is the only place in the world that is home to both the Big Five and the Marine Big 5: whales, sharks, dolphins, seals and penguins! Be careful though, once you start watching the wildlife, it’s hard to stop! Going on safari and sea safari provide families with chances to see incredible wildlife up close during their family vacation! Seeing these animals in their natural habitat is special and something your kids will never forget.

Freedom Struggle

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It’s important to know and understand the struggle the people of South Africa went through to get where they are today. Learn about the nation’s struggle for freedom while hearing stories about Mandela, Pieterson, and many other heroes, from people who lived through it all. It’s guaranteed that these stories will inspire you!

Learn more about this amazing country by joining us on Voices of South Africa!



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

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

 

A destination that is perfect for multigenerational family vacations is Costa Rica. The National Parks of Corcovado and Manuel AntonioCosta-Rica-Girl-Butterfly 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!



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 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!