Written by CLAIRE VOLKMAN
When it comes to choosing a family vacation spot, there's many things to consider. From travel time to family-friendliness, it can be daunting trying to narrow down the right place to go.
If there's one thing that's universal, it's that kids love wildlife and even more, love the element of surprise. So this year, skip the beach and amusement parks and head out in nature.
These destinations offer opportunities to learn about the dangers to wildlife species, and will educate you and your kids on ways you can help protect and conserve these amazing creatures.
Here are 5 destinations to see wildlife with your kids.
Siplock Nature Reserve, Borneo
Boasting tropical climates, lush vegetation and dense forests, Borneo is rich with wildlife. It’s also one of the few places on earth where tigers, rhinos, orangutans and elephants live together.
For families, a trip with Borneo Eco Tours offers a visit to Sepilok Nature Reserve, which touts an incredible collection of orangutans in their natural environment.
Beyond orangutans, Borneo is home to many other spectacular species, including proboscis monkeys, bearded pigs, clouded leopards, marble cats and pygmy elephants.
You can also book a special expedition with Wild Planet Adventures to view the famous Sunday flying lemurs and the gliding frogs, which move at lighting speeds.
National parks and reserves throughout Africa
Home to some of the world’s most coveted and endangered wildlife — like elephants, rhinos, lions, giraffes, zebras and cheetahs — a safari at one of the many National Parks in Africa is a dream.
A safari lets families witness animals your kids may have only seen in zoos in the wild, which helps further their understanding of both the species and their habitat.
Safaris also offer unique and exciting activities and accommodations for kids, including camping beneath the stars, staying in lodges and private guides who serve as teachers on the ground.
See the Big 5 at Tanzania’s famed Serengeti or Kenya’s Maasai Mara. To get off-the-beaten-path, visit Liuwa Plains National Park in Zambia and witness one of the largest wildebeest migrations.
Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
This wildlife-rich archipelago off the coast of Ecuador is home to an amazing collection of rare wildlife — from sea lions to blue-footed boobies to bioluminescent plankton, sea turtles and penguins.
Additionally, Sanibel Island, Santa Cruz, Florena and Santiago Island are home to bright pink flamingos known for standing on just one leg and eating upside down.
Kids will also love snorkeling and diving in the waters of Wolf and Darwin islands, exploring for sharks, and hiking near Tagus Cove in search of the Galápagos penguins and giant tortoises.
For wildlife viewing and a truly intimate experience, vacation with Quasar, who offers 7-day all-inclusive cruises designed specifically for families on Grace Kelly’s restored honeymoon yacht.
The Cayman Islands have long been a popular vacation spot for families. Beyond the beaches, however, is a vast wildlife population that lives on both land and sea.
Bring the kids to one of the world’s most preserved coral reefs with a dive off Seven-Mile Beach, which will highlight vibrant coral heads, fish and sea turtles — and over 100 shipwrecks.
Spotts Beach is a popular public beach and favorite feeding spot for turtles. People snorkel and swim with them, but please don't touch them.
Visiting Santa Claus’s homeland in Rovaniemi will entice kids, as will the chance to see elusive lynxes, grey owls, massive brown bears and reindeer.
In summer, you can catch and release Arctic char and rainbow trout in one of the country’s 200,000 lakes. In winter you can meet native huskies and then ride on sleighs through the snowy wilderness.
Wild Finland offers safaris that’ll introduce your kids to the native wildlife, give them expert photography tips and may even show them the breathtaking aurora borealis, or the northern lights.
Animals are all around. Take a look at this new book to get ideas.