7 activities to engage with your kids this summer

Summer vacation - those magical few weeks - is drawing near and every kid's mind is a jewel box resplendent with pictures of the wackiest of adventures and the prettiest of locales. In this era of time constraints when family holidays have taken a backseat, we end up taking kids to one of those glitzy amusement parks or video game parlours instead of an experience of the real world. Our immersive holidays help travelers engage with their environment and explore - this is something you could gift your kids. Travel brings them closer to nature, stirs their empathy, widens their horizons and educates them through action. When they participate in an activity together, they learn the values of teamwork, resilience, patience as well as leadership. This not only keeps them healthy but also teaches them a variety of life skills. Having your kids around, with all their bizarre questions and tireless happiness, will make you rediscover the joys of being a kid again. While adventure tourism presents an endless list of activities to engage in, we list the 7 top activities every kid will enjoy.

#1. Wildlife Safari:

This ranks first in every child's wish list- to see the fiercest of wild animals up close- and India with her 90,000 living species that includes elephants, big cats, rhinos, wild dogs, bears and crocodiles is amazing! Treat your kids to a wildlife safari in one of India's many national parks. Most safaris tend to be all about spotting the big cats and Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore, Satpura, Pench and Periyar offer some of the best tiger trails in the country. For a more off the beaten track experience, go on a cruise through the narrow creeks of the Sundarban National Park. The Kaziranga Wildlife Sanctuary is dedicated to conserve the endangered one-horned Asian Rhino and offers one of the best elephant safaris. Or introduce your kids to the curious and vibrant world of birding - Hop off to Mangalajodi, Bharatpur Sanctuary, Pong Wetlands, Binsar or the Rann of Kutch. Although most of the migratory birds will have flown home at this time of the year, India with her 1,250 "pet" species of birds will nevertheless astound you!

 Wildlife Safari in Satpura National Park

#2. Trekking & Camping

The Himalayas and the Western Ghats present some of the best trekking opportunities worldwide. You can choose to go on a longer trek or a shorter one over the weekend. Clamber along steep inclines, walk over rickety wooden bridges and flower studded meadows, negotiate snowfields and moraines, wade through icy streams- what better way to explore the bountiful beauty of the mountains? Not only is the view of the surroundings but the glint of success in their eyes at the summit priceless. Camp in remote areas - on the shores of a lake, on a pretty grassland, along a river- and arrange for a bonfire. Not only is trekking very good for health but it also strengthens family ties as being totally cut off from the rest of the world makes you more sensitive to each other's needs.

 On the Kedar Kantha winter trek

#3. Rafting

Tackling frothy rapids and ruthless currents is one incredible adventure! Rafting is one of the few activities that you can undertake with your family. The kids will enjoy the rush of adrenalin as they hold their breath with the raft maneuvering dangerously over the white waves. The spray of cold river water on your face feels wonderful. You can go on mini-rafting trips or on a rafting expedition. Most of India's rafting destinations are in the north with the Ganga at Rishikesh, the Zanskar at Ladakh, the Bhagirathi and the Kali in Uttarakhand and the Teesta in Bengal & Sikkim taking the top spots. For a more intrepid adventure, go rafting in the Tons River in Garhwal or in the Brahmaputra in Arunachal Pradesh. In South India, Kolad on the Kundalika River and Barapole in Coorg offer excellent rafting opportunities.

 Rafting on the Kali River

#4. Snorkelling

This one is for all those Nemo fans! Strap on a breathing tube and dive into the Neptune's kingdom. Colorful coral reefs in the most indescribable shapes greet you into the warm tropical waters. Watch schools of fishes in rainbow hues swim past you. The sunlight falling in through the turquoise-green waters creates a surreal setting. Not just shoals of fishes reflecting light off their silvery scales, the shallow waters are home to different types of starfish, sea anemones and aquatic plants. Be warned that some creatures like the stonefish or the stingray can be extremely poisonous. Lakshadweep and the Andaman & Nicobar islands offer the best snorkelling opportunities in India. However, if you want to stay on the mainland, you can go snorkelling at Tarkarli, Malvan and Murudeshwar.

Snorkelling in tropical waters (Photo Courtesy: Conwaysailors)

#5. Angling

Angling is the kinder twin of fishing, one of the oldest forms of recreation in history. India being the land of rivers, you'll find water bodies aplenty to try your hand at this sports. Take your fishing rod and bait and off you go! India is one of the best destinations for catching the Mahaseer, a beautiful brown trout. The remote Tirthan Valley has a designated angling reserve. Other places to go angling in India are at the Ramganga & Kosi Rivers in Corbett National Park, Pancheswar which hosts the International Angling Competition in March every year, Jia Bhoroli River in Assam, the Kaveri in Karnataka, the lesser known Barot in Himachal Pradesh and the many lakes and streams of Jammu & Kashmir.

 Angling in the Jibhi-Tithan valleys

#6. Cycling

Cycling expeditions are a fun and healthy way to engage in an immersive holiday. India's varied terrain presents countless varieties of landscapes to go pedaling. Choose from short one day trips like the Pune-Panshet Dam or longer adventures like the Manali-Leh trip. The Mysore to Ooty via Bandipur route takes you through the tiger reserve where you can chance upon deer, elephants, and peacocks. You could even have an offbeat Mussoorie holiday - bike downhill to Kempty falls and Yamuna bridge. For the more culturally inclined, take the Chennai-Puducherry route and explore the rich architectural heritage of Puducherry. The Tour of the Nilgiris and NH17 from Mangalore to Goa will take you through some of the most picturesque locales in South India. In the east, the Darjeeling-Gangtok route is one of the prettiest. Dotted with monasteries and quaint villages, the strenuous ride takes you along wooded slopes and tea gardens sloping down to the Teesta.

Cycling with family (Photo Courtesy: Tuttogreen)

#7. Community Tourism

One of the best ways to educate your children is by stirring in them empathy towards nature. Tourism in itself can be exploitative. Community Tourism seeks to engage tourists in sustainable activities like organic farming and tree planting. In places like Dehna and Purushwadi, visitors get to join the locals in rice cultivation and other livelihood activities like spice grounding, bhakri making and the like.

Rice cultivation in Dehna

We understand that in most households, time plays Captain Hook - parents are inundated with work and getting even a single day off sounds like Mission Impossible while the wide world stands beckoning with her arms spread open. We at Gypsy Shack urge you to spark their curiosity, to inspire these little minds to open up and look around, and what better way to interact with your kids than by travelling together?

Article By: Mohana Das

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