Wildlife vacations fit for families

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of June 11-17, 1998
Exploring the Outer Cape: Activities galore
Selecting a trek in Nepal
Finding summer bliss in Vermont
Wildlife vacations fit for families

Wildlife vacations fit for families
Question: My 11-year-old son and I are looking for an interesting vacation at the end of June/beginning of July. Important features would be wildlife (possibly rainforest or marine), some archaeological or historical significance, maybe other family or kids, and an informed, pleasant guide.

Labriola Richton
Park, Illinois

Hands-on fun at the Dolphin Discovery Camp in Roatán, Honduras
Adventure Adviser: If budget is no issue, I'd suggest the Dolphin Discovery Camp (800-444-0099) on the bay island of Roatán, Honduras. Conducted at Anthony's Key Resort, 40 miles off the Honduran Coast, the camp is designed for kids age eight to 14. For six days, your child will have the opportunity to become a virtual biologist. The program includes hands-on feeding and training sessions and classroom seminars, climaxing with a session where the students can swim with the dolphins. If the kids ever tire of dolphin-related activity, they can opt to snorkel, hike, horseback ride, play beach volleyball, or picnic, reuniting with you at lunch and dinner. Parents can join the flurry of activities or take a little time of their own to scuba dive the gin clear 80-degree water. The adult packages run $750 to $825 per person for seven nights. Children's fees are $500, including all meals and activities.

A bit closer to home is Island Institute on Orcas Island, Washington, one of the many islands in the San Juan chain in Puget Sound. Not only will you have the opportunity to see killer whales, you'll learn everything there is to know about porpoises, harbor seals, and sea birds. If the naturalist bend gets tiresome, take advantage of the myriad other opportunities the Institute offers such as boat tours, snorkeling adventures, sea-kayaking trips, beach hikes, and after-dinner lectures. The one downfall of this program is that the beach house, where guests stay, only sleeps 12, so you would need to make a reservation pretty quickly. The seven-day Marine Life Adventure camp is $1,195 for adults and $825 for kids age 12 and below. The price includes lodging, meals, boat tours, guides, and all activities. Call 360-376-6720 for more details.

If you're looking for an adventure with an alpine twist, consider the Great Plains Wildlife Institute's Yellowstone Wildlife Safari based in Jackson, Wyoming. Nicknamed the American Serengeti, Yellowstone's Lamare Valley is stomping grounds for pronghorn, bison, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep. During the weeklong safari, you'll help your guides with their ongoing research projects by counting wild horses, tracking trumpeter swans, observing newborn spring lambs, or checking in on the gray wolves that were recently reintroduced to Yellowstone. The age restriction is 12 years old, but if your son is a mature age 11, they may reconsider. The cost per person is $1,485 and includes lodging and most meals. Call the Great Plains Wildlife Institute at 307-733-2623 for more details.

To cover the "historical significance" aspect of your question, you may want to consider a camp where most of the animals have been dead for millions of years. Family Dino Camp in Fruita, Colorado is a five-day exploration of the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in western Colorado. You and your son will have to split up during the classroom hours, but then you can do lunch together, hike along the river to study fossils and discuss your finds over dinner. The big thrill is on the final days of camp when everyone gets to participate in excavation day at the prehistoric boneyard. The cost is $800 for adults, $575 for kids age six to 12. Call 800-344-3466 for more details.

Search the archives | Ask the Adventure Adviser

©2000, Mariah Media Inc.

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

What You Missed

Our most important headlines, sent to you every weekday.

Thank you!