Laid up in bed day 3 after my ACL knee surgery, I'm enjoying the peace and quiet of my two girls being on back to back playdates. My leg feels like a tree trunk, heavy and clumsy. In fact it almost feels like a cadaver's leg and no part of me at all. The pain fluctuates and apart from my hourly physio exercises, I'm left with only stillness and an incredible view of the Alps. With seemingly unlimitless time on my hands, I turn to what I do best - travel planning. I'm unsure yet as to the limitations placed on me now this Summer with the intense rehab required after this major surgery but what I do know is in a few short weeks we'll be bidding farewell to this beautiful Chamonix Valley and excitedly making our way sea bound to Devon.
Whilst we are looking forward to seeing our friends, being back in our own beds and for me, to potter in my beloved garden, we also have Summer holidays to think about. We Airbnb our home during the rammed 6 week Summer holiday so where to go? Stay local, travel back to Europe or to head long haul?
Here are my 5 epic locations perfect in August for adventuring families.
Many far flung destinations are out of bounds in August down to hurricane and monsoon season but both Bali and Borneo are game on in August so firmly on our radar.
Captivated by early Attenborough footage and the many documentaries made since, I've longed to visit the Orangutans in Borneo since I was a child. With Minnie, our soon to be 9 year old, an avid naturalist obsessed with animals and conservation, I've earthed out a brilliant organisation, The Great Projects, that includes a number of family volunteering projects. Their Borneo Orangutans Project takes children from as young as 8. With August being the perfect month to visit Borneo, this would be an epic Mother - Daughter trip. I've been mindful of trying to spend more time one on one with my eldest as she bounds towards double digits and this might just be the trip we're looking for.
Hang with these gorgeous creatures when family volunteering in Borneo with The Great Projects
This project involves observing wildlife on the Kinabatangan River, guided jungle treks, habitat restoration and cultural and community interaction. On this project we would go in search of wild orangutans and pygmy elephants and also visit the world famous Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre to observe orangutans that are in the rehabilitation process after having been rescued who are learning vital skills so that they may one day be released back into the wild.
An affordable £595 per person per week (excluding flights), this project is definitely within our reach financially. Physio talk required to see if jungle treks are viable in 3 months time!
For more info contact Natalie on +44 (0) 208 885 4987 or check out their website for other family volunteering projects
The Great Projects
2. North & East Coast of Sri Lanka
August in Sri Lanka? Isn't that a no no? Well that's what I thought as legions of our surfing buddies head to Sri Lanka's famous West coast from Christmas to Easter. In fact Sri Lanka has two monsoon seasons so whilst the 'Yala' monsoon may still be pelting rain across the south and west coasts, the north and east coast, has fantastic weather.
Another amazing reason to visit during August is to watch the miraculous annual migration of elephants called The Gathering. In north-central Sri Lanka's Minneriya National Park, hundreds of elephants migrate to an ancient resevoir during August and September's drought to feed, socialise and mate. It's been labelled No 6 in the Lonely Planets Guide to Wildlife Spectacles.
Hideaway Villas (middle photo above) in Arugam Bay on the East coast of Sri Lanka has beautiful family bungalows from $205 a night
So Sri Lanka could be the perfect destination for us this August. Relaxing on beaches, thrilling safari's plus Sri Lanka's pumping shores to satisfy my other half's surfing obsession.
Bali holds a special place in our hearts as we got hitched here. This popular island, just a stone's throw from Oz, has taken a beating of late in the travel press with tourist overload and Kuta exploits. Surprisingly, there are still pockets of Bali that are untouched and pristine. Get out of Kuta and explore the more remote areas, the padi fields, temples, and surrounding islands of Bali for an amazing family friendly destination. We would love to go back to this special island and take the girls to see where we made our vows! Catch the boat to some of the slower islands such as Nusa Lembongan or from Lombok to the stunning Gili islands.
Treat yourself on arrival in Bali with a stint of luxury at Poppies Cottages for a few days of paradise amidst crazy Kuta (far right). Rates are £115 per bungalow plus kids under 12 are free! Thoroughly recommended - we spent our first few days of our honeymoon relaxing in this epic pool!
4. Sail around the Greek Islands
Europe is a no brainer in August and where better for a family adventure than sailing around the Greek Islands. We've been gearing up for a family sailing adventure for some time practicing dinghy sailing locally but haven't yet taken the plunge. Sunsail do some pretty impressive itineraries throughout the whole of Europe and offer newbie sailors the chance to sail independently as a flotilla with the safety of a lead yacht never being too far away.
Anchor in Spartahori, a stunning bay on the island of Meganissi, in the Ionian Sea. Take a family of 4 on a 7 day sailing flotilla with Sunsail from £2,487 mid August (flights not included)
One of your group will need the day skipper or ICC qualification and your first mate will need their Comp Crew qualification. Sunsail offers all of these qualifications on one week courses from their major bases. Consider a two week break spending the first week hotel based with the kids enjoying shore based water sports, while one of you spends 5 days onboard getting your quallies - you can then spend the 2nd week of your holiday sailing with your family onboard a flotilla holiday.
Alternatively charter a catamaran big enough for two families if you've got friends who have already got their tickets!
I've been hanging to go to Iceland for some time now - haven't we all? Another record year is underway for Icelandic tourism, with tourists outnumbering inhabitants nearly 5:1 in 2016! With dramatic landscapes, glaciers, hot springs, volcanoes and lava fields, Iceland has a rugged raw beauty that is perfect for outdoor families to explore.
August is the peak season in Iceland so it's definitely an option for the UK Summer holidays BUT Iceland is expensive, so travelling on the shoulder seasons of May and September are more sensible if you want to get more for your pound.
Find freedom and hire a car to drive around Iceland. Whilst hiring a car, like everything else in Iceland is pricey, it's cheaper for a family of four than catching tours to places. Plus it means you can get out of the touristy areas and fall in love with the real Iceland. If you're still nervous of getting out on the open road, take a look at Nordic Visitor who arranges a whole host of family self drive itineraries and accommodation to take the stress your Icelandic family holiday.
Have you booked your August family holiday yet?
If you've visited any of the above places, do let us know with your tips. I'd love to hear from you.
The Family Freestylers are us - the Nixon family, who relish travel adventures both near & far