INSPIRATION • April 2018
School’s nearly out and you’re still stuck for where to take the kids this Easter? Let travel writer and mum of four Amanda Morison be your guide
You can’t base an entire family escape on an enjoyment of ham and staying up late, but it’s a good start. Both are available in abundance in the Spanish city of Salamanca, an easy two-and-a-half-hour drive west of Madrid. Famed for its Jamon Iberico made from acorn-fed pigs, and its university that dates from the 13th century, the best way to enjoy the city is on foot. You’ll be serenaded by Las Tunas – students dressed as 16th-century troubadours touring the streets playing mandolins – and you can stop for ice cream or chocolat con churros when you need a pick-me-up. Start in the largest square, Plaza Mayor (above) and in the tourist information office invest in the Salamanca Card for free access to the city’s museums and discounts at many restaurants. Stay a stone’s throw from Plaza Mayor in the Salamanca Suite Studios. Each has a kitchenette and space for up to five.
Marrakech is an overload for all the senses, and if you head into the Atlas Mountains it provides a great family fitness workout too. Atlas Morocco organises tailor-made trips from half-days to as long as you’ve got, with eco hotels, visits to Berber villages and even mules to trot along with your luggage. Back in Marrakech, hole up at the Beldi Country Club, a 38-suite resort built in the style of a traditional village, with intricately carved doors, shaded courtyards and a spa with two hammams. Contemporary touches include a mini home cinema, heated outdoor pool and clay tennis court.
There she blows! San Diego’s sculptural coastline is one of the world’s best places for whale watching. You’re likely to spot orca, blue whales and, from December to April, even some of the thousands of Pacific grey whales that migrate along this coast every year to Baja California. Dolphins are a regular sight, and if you’re really lucky, manta rays and whale sharks. If the children are old enough, take a trip by kayak, or simply enjoy the laid-back SoCal way of life on the golden sands of Mission Bay or Pacific Beach.
There’s so much to love about a family holiday in South Africa, not least the two-hour time difference between it and the UK. South Africa’s Eastern Cape region is malaria-free and the Shamwari Game Reserve (pictured), the largest in the area, ticks all the boxes: incredible wildlife, pristine conditions and a location only 50 or so miles from Port Elizabeth and its white-sand beaches. The reserve also has guides that know little ones get as much from watching a dung beetle rolling its cargo as seeing giraffes nibbling the tree tops. The reserve’s conservation endeavours include running the Born Free Big Cat Rescue and Education Centres and the Ian Player Rhino Awareness Centre, with lots of activities for children aged four and older.
Hotelier Sigurlaug Sverrisdottir, owner of award-winning Ion Adventure and Ion City hotels sums up the popularity of Iceland for its ‘Instagram appeal – our visitors’ photographs do the marketing for us’. With its moon-like topography, steaming geysers and hot pools, it’s easy to see what she means. Visit in the Easter holidays and you stand a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights (above). Children find the sulphur-scented smoke effects, fermented shark on restaurant menus, and the fact that most of Iceland’s population believe in trolls and elves, brilliantly hilarious. They also might find themselves feeling strangely at home: scenes from Game of Thrones, Interstellar and Star Wars: The Force Awakens were shot here. Don’t miss a safari on an eight-wheeled tractor jeep – a bouncy way to enjoy the views.
See how many Avios you need to get to all of these destinations by clicking here