The company Luxury Action is offering teepee accommodations that, while not quite up to glamping standards, are remarkable given the harshness of the Arctic terrain. Even more unusual: They're movable and can be pitched far from city lights, increasing your odds of viewing the elusive night show.
Each is outfitted with two twin or double beds and comes with butler service, a private chef who whips up eight-course meals that might feature juniper-smoked local game, and heat thank God , so you'll be well fed and warm as you and the kids huddle to watch the inky sky start to dance in waves of otherworldly color.
Come daylight, there are wood-fired saunas, reindeer sleigh rides, husky sled safaris, and snowmobile excursions over the tundra. We have the Northern Lights, we have darkness, we have silence. Those are the elements we are rich in. Nappies and subzero temperatures, we're told, are something you don't want to combine. When to go Christmas or midwinter vacation, to catch the light show.
Wow moments Mush across the ice, then work out the kinks by repeatedly hopping between icy lake and wood-fired sauna. Bonus for parents Frozen souvenir choices are minimal, since Elsa comes from Norway. Just miles from the Russian border, Helsinki, Finland's under-the-radar capital, is a quirky East-meets-West charmer with food and architecture to match.
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Even in the depths of winter the focus is on the outdoors, with residents strolling the frozen Baltic and swimming in open-air pools—heated and not. For the kids: An ice rink with rental skates is a snowball's throw from the hotel.
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Remember the flight scene in Out of Africa where Kenya's savanna landscapes unfold in frame after exquisite frame for three solid minutes? What sets these trips apart from most other safari-by-air offerings is that the company uses aircraft that carry just six to 12 passengers, which means it's pretty easy to take over the entire plane and customize your route down to the very last detail.
If your son fancies gorillas, off you'll go to Rwanda. There are plenty of sundowners in the meantime mocktails for the kids , even when the sun is blazing. Most nights you'll be bunking down at one of the company's lodges, which are known for combining understated luxury with serious conservation efforts. Best ages Twelve and up, as some activities are not available for younger children. When to go Summer vacation for southern Africa; midwinter vacation for East Africa.
Wow moment Leaving the past behind during your helicopter flight to Cape Town after a tour of Robben Island with Ahmed Kathrada, an anti-apartheid activist who was imprisoned there for 18 years. Bonus for parents There's only so much Snapchatting kids can do on a small private plane.
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Cost Price on request. La Residence , an suite Tuscan-style villa filled with antiques, oversize chandeliers, and Persian rugs, is a great base for exploring the vineyards and historic towns of the Cape Winelands, South Africa's culinary capital. Families with children under 10 stay at nearby Vineyard Suites. For you: The huge bathrooms alone are reason enough to go. For the kids: Frequent guest Elton John's over-the-top bedroom is downright goals translation: awesome. One of the most beautiful superyachts to launch in recent years, the Dunia Baru also happens to be ideal for families.
With just seven staterooms, 18 crew members who can babysit if your nanny can't make it , and, most important, gunwales high enough to keep the kids from falling overboard, the teak and ironwood ship slips among the 17, islands that comprise Indonesia, making stops at remote villages, secluded coves, and Raja Ampat, the richest coral reef on earth.
The two chefs can prepare almost anything, from nasi goring for the kids to sashimi made from the tuna you caught earlier in the day.