If you have ever planned a holiday with children, you know how critical it is to have something of their interest in the daily itinerary for the holiday to be fun for the whole family. I have the most feisty three-year-old boy one can ever meet, I am willing to bet on it. So, a lot of our holidays are made to accommodate beaches, pools and Disneyland. But more often than not, the really fun holidays turn out to be the ones around wildlife. And, since kids aren’t allowed on most safaris internationally, here’s our little list of child-friendly wildlife experiences for kids under six.
Swimming with the penguins: Boulders Beach, South Africa
While we thoroughly enjoyed the Kruger National Park sans kids, Boulders beach is the perfect place to enjoy with toddlers. We visited the place when our daughter was two. A few hours drive from Cape Town, inside the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area lies Boulders beach. Surrounded by boulders, the beach has soft white sand and warmish waters, making it a great beach for kids. But the larger attraction are the African penguins that roam freely and swim along with the tourists!
Bathe the elephants: Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Sri Lanka
Home to the largest captive herd of elephants in the world, Pinnawala has close to 90 elephants and offers activities like feeding and bathing the animals. Since it was a longish drive from Colombo, we made it to the Pinnalanda Hotel Restaurant just before noon and watched the entire herd walk down about 50 feet from the orphanage to the Ma Oya river for a bath. The children watched wide-eyed as the never-ending herd went one by one into the river. Getting to pet the elephant calves as they dried themselves was the cherry on top.
Breakfast with kangaroos: Kangaroo Island, Australia
Australia’s third largest island off the coast of Adelaide, Kangaroo island is a protected nature reserve housing sea lions, koalas, penguin colonies and, most importantly, wild kangaroos that greet you in your backyard! We decided on renting a small apartment facing the sea, a short distance from Kingscote, for three days. While the Remarkable Rocks and Admirals Arch were great, the highlight was the Seal Bay Conservation Park where we saw lazing sea lions and, of course, the kangaroos. The first morning itself, we were greeted by soft hopping sounds in our yard, and the kangaroos were most delighted to be fed peanuts.
Pet giant tortoises: Prison Island, Zanzibar
Zanzibar has some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world. But that apart, there is Prison Island, just a boat ride away. It is home to giant tortoises, some older than 100 years. One can roam around freely watching, petting and even feeding this endangered species, imported from Seychelles.
Pooja Sardana is a marketer by day and blogger by night. She blogs at thebackpackingmama.com.