Tag: Sri Lanka

Malawi itinerary with kids

Family adventure travel ideas for 2019

I’m frequently asked, ” What’s the best country you’ve ever visited?” and always fail to answer with just one country. Every country offers something different. We love to get off the beaten track and take our boys on true adventures, pushing the boundaries of family travel, yet we still love a good European camping holiday or city break. But our favourite travel memories as a family are always amongst epic landscapes or bustling Asian cities where we have stepped out of our comfort zone.

So I’ve decided to compile this list of our top 5 countries from our own experience. I’m sure this will change over time and I plan to update it if we ever visit a country that tops one of these. But hopefully this may provide you with some family adventure travel ideas for 2019.

1. Namibia

Read: Our Namibia itinerary with kids

If your crave epic lunar landscapes, affordable and rewarding safaris, and a true African adventure, Namibia gets our vote as one of the best places for intrepid family travel. Don’t do an organised tour. Hire a 4×4 with roof tents and go it alone! The quality of roads in generally very good and the campsites are seriously fantastic. Add to this a low malaria risk and an amazing climate, and it’s a definite winner in our books.

2. Sri Lanka

Train to Haputale, Sri Lanka

Read: Our Sri Lanka itinerary with young kids

We fell head over heels in love with Sri Lanka. We visited whilst we were living in Bangalore and although there were many similarities with India, we found it to be cleaner and less chaotic. It’s a relatively small country so travelling between places is easy, yet it still offers enough activities, must-see sights, and fun to keep the whole tribe entertained. Indeed, for a country roughly the same size as Ireland, it manages to offer so much variety – both natural and cultural – that we’re sure you’ll fall in love with it too. Our favourite experiences in Sri Lanka were the incredible beaches and spotting wild elephants.

3. Iceland

Iceland itinerary with kids
Read: Our 5 day Iceland itinerary with kids

We had put off visiting Iceland for so long, as we thought it was too expensive. But we were tempted by cheap easyJet flights and photos of those dramatic landscapes. Admittedly the car hire and accommodation are going to be your biggest outgoings, but self-catering will keep costs down, and if you travel independently, exploring Iceland‘s natural wonders and hiking through it’s expansive landscape is totally FREE! Check out these other tips to save money on a family trip to Iceland.

On our 5 day Iceland itinerary we explored the classic Golden Circle, but also ventured off the beaten track and over to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. If you’re a family who love the great outdoors and wild landscapes, Iceland is a perfect destination for you; just ensure you pack layers as the weather is extremely interchangeable.

4. Thailand

Bangkok with kids

Read: Ten day Thailand itinerary with young kids

We love the energy, the ornate temples, the colourful markets, the polite people and the food… oh my THE FOOD! Oh, and of course the incredible beaches! Don’t rush straight to the islands though, enjoy your first few days in bustling Bangkok. It has to be our favourite city to explore with our boys (check out our Bangkok with kids itinerary).

Thailand is one of the most accessible countries we’ve visited with the boys. Many restaurants, even along the once backpacker enclave of Th Khao San, have highchairs, and we found that some beach restaurants in Ko Lanta have toys and kids’ play areas. Also, kid-friendly food is available everywhere; think sticky rice, banana pancakes, and tropical fruit aplenty. Throw in tuk-tuk rides, exploring mystical temples, and jumping in the waves crashing on to tropical islands, and you have the perfect mix for a fantastic family adventure holiday.

5. India

India with kids

Read: Our Northern India itinerary with kids

Now India isn’t everyone’s cup of chai. It’s loud, chaotic and confronting. But, it was our home for a year and it feels wrong not to include it. Admittedly, it’s not a place to visit with kids for a first visit to Asia. But if you are ready to take on the challenge, India will be one of you most memorable family adventures ever. The tourist dollar goes far here, so you can spend a little more on accommodation to create an oasis away from the chaos. Allow time to drink in the vibrancy and energy of this magical country, and once you’ve finished exploring the temples and spice markets, head for some downtime on the beaches of Goa.

And the runners up are…

It was honestly so tough narrowing it down to our top five countries, but Malawi, Nepal and Morocco are close behind…

Would love to hear what your favourite family adventure travel destination is! Let me know in the comments 🙂


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Udawalawe National Park with kids

Udawalawe NP with young kids: meeting elephants in the Sri Lankan wilderness

Are you looking to visit Udawalawe NP with young kids? We were only twenty minutes into our safari, when a Mummy elephant and her calf appeared from behind a bush and stood just a few metres away from us. Watching such a majestic and powerful creature in their natural setting was incredible and her peaceful nature created a serene atmosphere in the early morning light. Even our two boys (aged two and three years old) instinctively knew to whisper, so as not to disturb the magical moment.

Udawalawe with kids - elephants

Sri Lanka is one of the best destinations in the world to see elephants in the wild, and all at a fraction of what it would cost in Southern or East Africa. We loved our visit to Udawalawe National Park where you are pretty much guaranteed to see them. If you ask my three year old for the highlight of his Sri Lanka travels, he answers straight away: Mummy Elephant. Read here why Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids.

Udawalawe with kids - boys on safari

The details

The safari was just three hours long, the perfect length of time for little ones.  We were provided with our own private jeep (including driver/guide). Half the fun of the safari was actually bouncing along in the open jeep through the bush with the wind rushing past.  And it didn’t feel busy; much of the time, there wasn’t another jeep in sight!

Kids under 5 are free, so the total price for entrance fee, private jeep and safari driver/guide was LKR7500 for our family of four. We booked through our accommodation (see below) and we had a choice of a 5:30am or 2:30pm safari. We went for the early morning to embrace the morning light and avoid the daytime heat. Our accommodation provided snacks of banana, biscuits and chocolate bar each.

Udawalawe with kids - jeep

Other animals to see

There are plenty of peacocks and colourful birds to see. Your safari guide will point them out to you. There are also monkeys, water buffalo, crocodiles, and if you’re extremely lucky and look very very hard, a leopard. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t our day to meet a leopard but you may have more luck.

Udawalawe with kids - bird

Udawalawe with kids - crocodile

Where we stayed

We stayed in glamping tents at Kottawatta Village just outside the National Park. The tents (£19 per night at the time of writing, including breakfast) come with a double bed (which the four of us shared – cosy!), mosquito net, a large industrial fan (there’s electricity!) and an ensuite bathroom with hot shower. There’s a veranda overlooking the rainforest and expect to see a lot of monkeys. If camping really isn’t your thing and you need sturdier walls, you can pay a little more to stay in a bungalow.

Udawalawe with kids - Kottawatta Village

We opted to stay for two nights as the resort is a lovely place to relax. There’s an onsite restaurant serving Western, Chinese and Sri Lankan dishes, a swimming pool with separate kids’ area, and some comfy hammocks for chilling.

Udawalawe with kids - Kottawatta Village swimming pool

Udawalawe with kids - Kottawatta Village hammocks

How to get there

Udawalawe isn’t on the train network. We chose to get a tuk-tuk from our accommodation in Mirissa. The 3 hour journey cost LKR5000. Otherwise you could take a car, which would take 2 hours and cost a little more. You can easily organise a tuk-tuk or car through the accommodation you stay at prior to arriving at Udawalawe. We then organised a tuk-tuk to Arugam Bay through Kottawatta Village (4.5hrs, LRK7500, 3hrs by car). We always opt for a tuk-tuk over a car as we love the sense of freedom they provide; open sides, air rushing past as you drive through the countryside.

Where else can you see elephants?

You can also hang out with the elephants at Minneriya National Park, Yala National Park, Kumana National Park and the lagoons around Pottuvil. However, Udawalawe fitted in nicely with our Sri Lanka itinerary, breaking up the journey between the Southern beaches of Mirissa and the Eastern beaches of Arugam Bay. Also, research advised us that Udawalawe provides the best chance of seeing the elephants. However, Minneriya is famous for ‘The Gathering’ which takes place during the dry season (July to November), when hundreds of elephants gather around the shores of an ancient reservoir – although expect there to be A LOT of tourists.


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Udawalawe with kids. Pin for later.

Pin for later

Where would we be without our trusted Lonely Planet guide. The Sri Lanka edition was invaluable to our travels.

You may also wish to read:
Why Sri Lanka is fantastic for young kids
Sri Lanka Itinerary with young kids
Arugam Bay SRI LANKA with kids

Tin Box Traveller


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