Top Ten Family Vacations for Wildlife - Page 2
|WELL-DRESSED: Sea World’s Penguins Encounter, San Diego (courtesy, Sea World San Diego)|
10. Kruger National Park, South Africa
We debated long and hard about the best family-friendly place for a safari. Although the political situation in Kenya seems to have stabilized, we erred on the side of caution and chose Kruger. It's the largest game reserve in South Africa and covers 7,332 square miles of land. All the "Big Five" animals are found in the park (buffalo, leopard, elephant, lion, and rhino), plus hippos, giraffes, cheetahs, zebras, and African hunting dogs. The park boasts more than 11,000 elephants—kids will be especially enchanted with the babies. Kruger National Park has 21 rest camps, as well as seven private lodge concessions, and 11 designated private safari lodges, so there is something for almost every budget.
South Africa Vacation Guide
9. Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve sits in the southern part of Alaska, just west of Juneau. The park is huge, with more than 5,000 square miles of protected wilderness. You can take a boat tour to see killer and humpback whales, sea lions, and seals swim among the glaciers. The Dall's porpoises are especially fun when they "surf" the wake behind your boat. On land, bear and moose stroll to the fresh-water streams for a drink, or dog paddle across the bay. The official park entrance (and neat Glacier Bay Lodge) is about eight miles from the town of Gustavus, with well-priced lodging and family-friendly restaurants.
Alaska Family Vacation Guide
8. Tortugero National Park, Costa Rica
The park protects about 51,000-plus acres along Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast. It includes miles of beachfront that is nesting ground for the Atlantic green sea turtle and jungles that host three species of monkeys (howler, spider, and white-faced), three-toed sloths, river otters, iguanas, parrots, and toucans. The park protects 51,870 acres of tropical rain forest. Most of the wildlife viewing is done by boat, so this is a good place for small children—they are easily contained and don't have to walk. To reach the park, take a boat along the canal from the port of Moin (near the town of Limon).
Costa Rica Family Vacation Guide
7. San Diego, California
Despite a dense population and too much traffic, San Diego has some of the best wildlife-viewing opportunities in the country. Sea World and the San Diego Zoo are classic family-friendly destinations, but a lesser known, often less crowded option, is the Wild Animal Park. This 1,800-acre park is run by the San Diego Zoo Organization. It is one of the few places in the States where wild animals are raised—and over 3,500 animals live in conditions that very closely reproduce their natural habitat. The park is home to the endangered California condor, as well as cheetahs, giraffes, lions, and elephants. Safari trucks take you into the heart of our large field exhibits, where you get an up-close-and-personal look at the free-roaming animals of Africa and Asia. Families should consider the three-for-one Pass that provides five-day admission to the San Diego Zoo, the Wild Animal Park, and SeaWorld!
San Diego Family Vacation Guide
6. Everglades National Park, Florida
This is the last remaining everglades on the planet. Here you'll see crocodiles and alligators, along with turtles, deer, manatees, and bobcats—as well as the endangered Florida panther (which you might need a guide to see). And of course there are plenty of American crocodile in the mangrove swamps. In Florida Bay look for heron, ibis, and egret, as well as manatees and otters. The park has large viewing towers built especially for wildlife watching. More daring visitors will take a canoe ride in croc-infested waters. For bird watchers, the Everglades is a veritable paradise, with 350 species calling the park home. Families will find plenty of affordable lodging; another option is camping at Long Pine Key and Flamingo.
Florida Family Vacation Guide