Think of Sicily and most people will immediately say Mafia and Etna and then hear the haunting strains of Nina Rota’s ‘The Godfather’ theme in their heads; I profess to falling for this clichéd image as I arrived at Catania Airport.
As a travel expert at Activities Abroad, i’m often asked for holiday inspiration... Here are some great ideas for family winter holidays.
For younger families there may only be one chance to meet the ‘real’ Father Christmas in Lapland.
Credit: Marko Junttila & Hotel Gulo Gulo
Our Father Christmas and Arctic Animal Encounters ensures a memorable and magical experience for both children and adults alike. The focus of the holiday is of course the Santa visit......Travelling as a family by snowmobile pulled sleigh through the snowy Lappish Forest, the trail leads to a cosy cabin where you will be welcomed by Father Christmas himself. If you like the idea of a private Santa Claus experience, this is perfect, with the children getting around 20 minutes to talk with him about his most important of jobs!
Borneo, just a mention of the name conjured up thoughts of Sunday night in front of ‘Wildlife on One’ watching Sir David Attenborough explore the wonders of the natural world in the rain-forest. This was a destination which I had longed to visit for many years and having finally found the right partners to work with I was on my way!
The place is wonderful, I have travelled in South East Asia before and Borneo is certainly different. There was no hassle, no overpowering cities, no maniacal driving that you encounter in some places, just a friendly and relaxed atmosphere from the moment I stepped off the plane.
Borneo did not disappoint me on any level. The accommodation was fabulous with the best breakfast I have ever encountered anywhere in the world at the Shangri La and the flora and fauna surpassed my expectations.
The scuba diving off Kota Kinabalu is wonderful and the perfect place for novices like me to learn as well as satisfying those with experience. The other activities do not disappoint either, jungle mountain biking was a huge thrill.
I have a problem with rafting on the River Soca (pronounced “sotcha), basically, I find it very hard to concentrate on the actual job in hand i.e. paddling.
The reason is that the Soca and indeed, the Soca Valley are as beautiful as anywhere I’ve ever travelled.
I’ve visited this peaceful and idyllic valley with its towering mountain scenery, alpine meadows and fast-flowing emerald green river more than 20 times and it has only once disappointed. Unfortunately, on that occasion it poured with rain all weekend just when we were accompanied by a BBC crew who struggled valiantly to capture the timeless wonder of this striking river valley.
The first time I saw the Catalan Pyrenees was 04 January 2002. It was three days after the birth of the European single currency and I was stood on the edge of Lake Maurici in the Aigues Tortes National Park. The call back to the office simply said ‘We have struck oil’ and so was born our Catalan Pyrenees family activity holiday which has been our flagship summer option ever since.
The town of Sort is located just over 3 hours from Barcelona and has not changed in the 13 years since.
The town of approximately 2000 inhabitants lies on the fast flowing Noguera Pllaresa river which is the centerpiece for most of the activities we feature – whitewater rafting, kayaking, hydrospeeding as well as exciting canyoning.
I have done so many of our family activity holidays so picking one favourite activity is pretty tough.
Ultimately however, 40km of whitewater rafting in Spain’s Pyrenees has to be the winner. Rafting rivers in summer in Europe can sometimes just have enough water to be called true rafting, but the Noguera Pallaresa always delivers in July and August as it always has the fallback of a quick call to the dam for the release of water.
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