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Top Family Trips and Tours
Top Family Trips and Tours


Photo by Fiorenza Ferretti, courtesy of Harmattan

Like many kidscantravel.com readers, I am not fan of organized tours. Yet there are some trips that are best done in a group and occasions when it makes sense to let someone else organize all or part of the family vacation. And there are times when, as a parent, we simply need a break from playing tour guide, teacher and animator. An organized family tour can take the stress out of traveling with kids to remote locations and provide a refreshing change of pace, if just for one day.

Here's a list of our favorite guided tours and fully-outfitted family trips.

Egypt's Western Desert is remote, rugged and extreme. Water, not to mention road signs, is non-existent making an organized tour the only practical way to travel here. Harmattan, an Italian outfitter, knows North Africa like no other. Their guides - trained archeologists, paleontologists and geologists - are first and foremost professionals in their fields. Many have lived in the region. Most have guided groups in the Sahara for over 20 years. And they have traveled extensively in North Africa with their own children. Harmattan has two catalogues, one standard and one luxury.

Touring ancient ruins can quickly become boring. Not with Kids Adventures. Here, kids are the protagonists. A treasure hunt in the Roman Forum and orienteering in Piazza Navona are but a few of fun family activities offered on Kids Adventures' 1 and 3-day guided tours of Rome. Say goodbye to traditional guided tours and relax while someone else makes who, what, where and why fun. Tours are offered in Italian, English and Russian.

Museo dei Ragazzi offers guided tours of Palazzo Vecchio and other Florence attractions as well as medieval activities. One tour takes children aged 3 - 7 on secret tour of the palace and holds court with a Duchess. Another tour is all about the reign of Cosimo. One activity introduces children aged 8 - 88 to the art of frescos. Food is the focus of another activity.

Jaci's Safari Lodge goes out of its way to make an adult experience work for kids. The professional guides excel at entertaining kids on the sometimes long search for game. Animal tracks and bush brushes are but a few of things curious kids will learn about. The children's meal is balanced adult food in a child's portion. And the Madikwe Game Reserve, one of South Africa's best-kept secrets, provides the perfect setting for a wildlife safari with kids. It is home to all of the African Big Five and it is situated in South Africa's malaria-free North West Province just a 3.5-hour drive from Johannesburg. But take note, Jaci's takes safety seriously; children aged 7 and under are interviewed onsite and their participation on adult game drives is at the discretion of the lodge manager. The children's program is designed with kids aged 3-12 in mind.

PaleoWorld Research Foundation's Dinosaur Adventure is more than a dinosaur dig. This paleontology research expedition, near the fossil-rich Hell Creek Formation in Eastern Montana, provides families with an opportunity to participate in a hands-on scientific outing and introduces kids to actual field techniques. Assist PaleoWorld's field research crew and lead paleontologist Joseph Hatcher excavate dinosaur bones and learn while having fun. Spend a night or two at 'base camp' and enhance the experience - share meals with the research team, work in the field lab, and converse about fossil finds. Yet whether you sign-up for the dig-for-a-day program, spend a week or entire summer, PaleoWorld expects both adults and kids to contribute.

The Fiery Furnace in Utah's Arches National Park may not be home to the monoliths for which Arches National Park is best known but this labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons and fins is one of the park's most spectacular places. Even for families that regard guided tours with trepidation. Not only is Fiery Furnace next to impossible to navigate without prior experience - there are no marked trails and GPS devices are all but useless in this maze of geological formations - the knowledgeable guides make the experience interesting and fun for both adults and kids. Natural arches, fins and bridges are but the start. Potholes, biological soil crust, self-pruning juniper trees and the mysteries of pack rat debris are but a few of the intriguing things you will learn about on a ranger-led hike in nature's jungle gym.

The rapids may be the biggest draw on Western River's 3-day Grand Canyon rafting trip but they aren't the only. Arresting landscapes, rumbling water, remote camping and hidden gems from waterfalls to side canyons are but a few of the sights and sounds accessible only from the river. And the experience isn't lost on the kids. The professional guides work hard to ensure each rafting trip is memorable and carefree for the adults as well as the kids.

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