If you’re looking for a place where you can take your entire family on a wildlife-watching vacation, there are several great destinations to choose from.
For example, South Africa is an excellent choice for family safaris because of its diverse mammal population. The country also boasts malaria-free areas and scores of family-friendly attractions.
Yellowstone National Park
If you are interested in wildlife and are planning a family vacation, Yellowstone National Park is a great choice.
This park is home to over 300 different species of birds, 67 types of mammals, 16 kinds of fish, and five different types of amphibians. The park also has 98 miles of trails and pathways that are perfect for kids to explore.
The park is also home to over 10,000 geysers. These geysers are an important source of water for the animals that live in the park.
Some of the geysers in Yellowstone National Park are active, while others are only active during specific times of the year. Old Faithful, for example, can erupt as high as 180 feet!
The park is also perfect for families with young children. It offers stagecoach rides, which can be an unforgettable experience for kids.
The park also hosts an Old West Cookout most summer evenings, which features steak, baked beans, corn muffins, and other classic chuckwagon fare. Hiking in Yellowstone can be done on boardwalks or traditional hiking trails.
Summer is the busiest time for Yellowstone National Park. However, the park is much less crowded during the fall season. During winter, all roads to and from the park are closed. The weather in the park is also cooler during the fall months.
However, summer and spring have less predictable weather, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly.
Yellowstone is also known for its wildlife. With over two million acres of habitat, Yellowstone is a great place to watch wildlife.
Visitors will be able to find many different species of wildlife in the park, such as wolves and bears. Some of the most popular activities in the park include horseback riding and fishing.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is open year-round, but the dry season is the best time to visit.
During this time, the weather is warm and dry, so the animals are more active. However, the park can become extremely busy during certain times of the year, so plan your visit accordingly.
If you plan to camp, make sure to reserve a campsite ahead of time.
The park contains 1.5 million acres of protected habitat. The park was named for conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas in her 1947 book, and it is home to many animals, including endangered species.
You can view wildlife in the park’s coastal marshes, hardwood hammocks, cypress swamps, and low-lying watery bastions.
The park is known for its abundant wildlife, including alligators, pythons, and white-tailed deer. Its diverse ecosystem supports hundreds of species, including Florida panthers, West Indian manatees, black bears, Key deer, and hundreds of species of birds.
If you’d like to get closer to the ‘Glades’, you can take airboat tours. The airboat tours take you deep into the ‘Glades, and are usually filled with gators galore.
Three airboat operators are available east of the Shark Valley Visitor Center. Coopertown Airboat and Gator Park Airboat tours are nearby.
Kayakers and canoers will love the Everglades National Park. Although not for the faint-hearted, these activities will ensure a unique wildlife watching experience.
Besides kayaking, there are also guided boat tours. For those who are interested in nature walking, there are a number of trails you can hike or take a bike ride.
Visitors should plan for two hours at a time. You should also factor in the heat factor, as the park is often quite hot in the summer months.
If you’re traveling with young children, consider renting bikes, taking a tram, or taking a boat ride.
The Cataloochee Valley is one of the most scenic regions of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, featuring 6,000-foot (1,800-meter) mountains, scenic overlooks, and numerous hiking trails.
This region of the Smoky Mountains offers a wide variety of wildlife, including the majestic elk.
The valley is a great place for springtime and summer hikes, with thousands of species of wildflowers and over two hundred species of birds and trees. The valley also has nine historic buildings, including a church and a school.
The National Park Service has preserved several of these buildings, and five are located along the Little Cataloochee Trail.
Taking a guided tour of the area is a great way to see wildlife. Visitors can also get an overview of the elk reintroduction program, which is ongoing in the Cataloochee Valley. Tours are offered year-round.
A guided tour takes four hours, including plenty of time for wildlife viewing.
Visitors can see elk grazing in the fields early in the morning and late at night. Park regulations require visitors to stay 75 feet away from wildlife, but it’s still possible to observe these creatures.
There’s a primitive campground with 27 camping sites, and group camping is available with advance reservation.
Visitors to the valley are encouraged to bring their cameras to capture wildlife and nature in its natural habitat. Wildlife viewing is especially popular during the fall “rut,” when elk make their bugling calls to attract mates.
In addition to elk, other wildlife, including wolves and black bears, can be observed. Visitors must be careful to stay at a distance from the animals, as these creatures can be dangerous.
Hiking is another great way to enjoy the park. There are several hiking trails in the Valley, including the Rough Fork Trail, which follows a cascading stream.
The trail also crosses log footbridges, and is a two-mile round-trip hike.
Madikwe Safari Lodge
If you are looking for a family-friendly vacation destination for wildlife-watching, the Madikwe Safari Lodge is a wonderful choice.
Located in Madikwe’s Madikwe Game Reserve, the lodge offers three types of accommodation: a traditional bush lodge, a contemporary lodge, and a family-friendly lodge.
The Madikwe Lodge is especially good for families, as it provides plenty of fun activities for children.
Guests can take advantage of the wildlife-watching opportunities from a private vehicle. The lodge has a rambling deck with a private plunge pool. Elephants sometimes come to drink from the pools, and antelope roam freely on the grounds.
The lodge also offers walking safaris and river cruises. In addition, guests can combine their safari experience with a day trip to nearby Sodwana Bay.
The Madikwe Game Reserve is South Africa’s fifth-largest game reserve and is one of the most pristine conservation areas. It covers 680 square kilometers, including newly incorporated private land. It has community-owned lodges and luxurious lodges.
It is about 4.5 hours from Johannesburg. The lodge offers free safaris for children under 6 years of age.
The Madikwe Game Reserve is malaria-free and offers an intimate atmosphere for families to enjoy a safari. There are fewer vehicles on the reserve, which means better chances of spotting wildlife.
It is about four hours and 45 minutes from Oliver Tambo International Airport. The Madikwe Safari Lodge offers game drives in the morning and evening. There is also the option of boma dinners and bush breakfasts.
The safari lodge’s luxury suites include claw-footed tubs, outdoor showers, and a private deck or lounge. Family-friendly suites are available for families with small children. The lodge also offers a private safari vehicle for families.
South Africa is a great place for family vacations if you love seeing animals in their natural habitats.
With 19 national parks and private reserves, South Africa offers a vast range of wildlife. Apart from the Big Five, the country is also home to a huge number of bird species.
Bird-watching opportunities are excellent throughout the year, though spring and summer are considered to be the best times.
The weather in South Africa is generally mild all year long. Temperatures range from 75degC in the summer and 93degC in the winter. The summer season is a perfect time to visit South Africa, while the winter months are less popular but may still be cool in the mornings.
Depending on which tour you choose, accommodations can range from luxury lodges to tree houses and even tree houses.
In addition to wildlife viewing, South Africa has a number of child-friendly attractions. In addition to the Nairobi National Park, visitors can visit the Giraffe Center and feed giraffes.
Children can also visit the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which rehabilitates orphaned elephants.
South Africa’s Garden Route offers scenic views and optional excursions. You can take a cable car to the summit of the iconic Table Mountain. From there, you can get a panoramic view of the Atlantic seaboard.
Other attractions in Cape Town include the Iziko Slave Lodge, a museum dedicated to the history of slavery in South Africa. Another attraction is the Two Oceans Aquarium, which features a wide variety of marine animals.
Lastly, Cape Town is the gateway to the famed Kruger National Park.
Families can also visit Boulders Beach, which is home to a penguin colony. This pristine white beach is also home to wooden walkways that allow you to observe the African Penguins up close.
Boulders Beach is a great location for watching the penguins, as it is a semi-private beach.
Bonus – Alaska: Cool Family-Friendly Wildlife Watching Destinations
If you’re looking for a family-friendly vacation destination with plenty of wildlife-watching opportunities, you might consider taking a trip to Alaska.
This state is home to some spectacular national parks and wildlife reserves, such as the Denali National Park, which is home to the resident “big five” – grizzlies, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, and wolves.
There are also plenty of wildlife-watching opportunities available on the state’s shores, including an Alaska SeaLife Center, where visitors can see playful sea otters and colorful puffins. And you can visit Kenai Fjords National Park to see icebergs and other fascinating wildlife.
While in Alaska, you’ll be able to see a variety of species from bald eagles to whales and polar bears. You’ll also have the opportunity to experience Alaska’s culture firsthand, with opportunities to meet local Tlingit and Haida people, as well as see the state’s iconic wildlife
In addition to wildlife-watching opportunities, the state is home to a variety of family-friendly activities. You can tour glaciers, kayak, and take a bus or train tour. If you’re looking for more activities, you can even go wildflower or berry picking.
There are many bird species to see in Alaska, including eagles, puffins, and moose. The region is also home to a multitude of animals, including sandhill cranes, which migrate from eastern Siberia to the southeastern United States.
Grizzly bears and Dall sheep are also plentiful. There are several national parks in the state where visitors can observe these animals up close and personal.