Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

This week marks the official start of summer, and families looking for new adventures and ways to distract their kids from their myriad devices have plenty of options.

From luxurious spins on traditional vacations through America’s national parks to education-oriented African safaris and building rafts in Thailand, travel companies are responding to the growing demand for unique trips that offer adventure for all ages.

For families intent on staying unplugged, Audley offers a chance to live like the bushmen in Botswana with a private safari for up to six in the Okavango Delta. With no cell service and limited electricity, each day is focused on learning something different about the bush, including how to track wildlife, making pizzas on old termite mounds and making natural bows and arrows.

In Kenya, Audley also offers an option for families to give a little back with a visit to the Bogani Cottages and Tented Camp in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, a community-run lodging that is part of a global initiative called Me to We, which brings in limited numbers of tourists to learn about and help with community programs. Families can help with school maintenance, take a mile-long trek to fetch water for the village, even engage in weapons training with Maasai warriors.

In Southeast Asia, the Smiling Albino, has a number of family-oriented itineraries, including a trip to the Mae Taeng mountain range in Thailand, where visitors  can learn how to care for rescued elephants, trek through the jungle and learn how to build bamboo rafts that they can then float down the Mae Tang River and donate to local fishermen,

For families seeking more traditional and closer-to-home summer road trips or camping experiences, Under Canvas at the end of June is opening its latest safari-inspired luxury tented resort at Grand Canyon National Park. Situated on 56 acres near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the resort offers accommodations in wood and canvas tents with amenities that include cast-iron bathtubs, wood-burning stoves and Adirondack chairs for nighttime star gazing. Daytime activities include horseback riding to whitewater rafting, jeep safari tours and ziplining.

In California, El Capitan Canyon, one of the pioneers of luxury camping or “glamping,” summer has opened some new luxury cabins at its resort just north of Santa Barbara, including the Meadow Suite, which is actually two separate cabins that offer plenty of space and privacy for large or extended families.

And for the ultimate American road trip, Exclusive Resorts is again offering a variety of itineraries with GMC Yukon Denali and luxury airstream trailer rentals, including a special trip this year in honor of the National Park Service’s 100-year anniversary. The 13-day trip through  Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Zion and the Grand Teton national parks, includes seven nights in an Airstream trailer, guided hikes through the national parks, historic towns and rafting on the Snake River.

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