Ten things to do before you’re 10


By Harriet Cooper

Yoho National Park, Canada by Getty Images

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January 2017

By the grand old age of ten, your little darlings can probably ride a bike, do their times tables and beat almost everyone on the games console. But what if they could add sandboarding in the desert, gladiator training in Rome or climbing the Rockies to this list of achievements? Here are the ultimate travel experiences every child should do in their first decade.

1. Sleep under the stars in the Omani desert

Lawrence of Arabia has to be the ultimate adventure story, but nothing beats the real thing. Venture deep into the Omani desert and bed down in one of the Bedouin-style tents at the 1000 Desert Nights Camp. Set in the golden Wahibi Sands, the camp is the perfect base for kids to marvel at the awe-inspiring landscape by day and the big skies at night. There’s also dune bashing, sandboarding and sand skiing, not forgetting that camel ride you promised them…

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Set in the golden Wahibi Sands, the camp is the perfect base for kids to marvel at the awe-inspiring landscape by day and the big skies at night

2. Explore alien worlds in Florida

No trip to Orlando with children would be complete without a trip to Disney. From the Magic Kingdom Park (Mickey, Minnie et al) to the more cerebral Epcot theme park via a Star Wars adventure at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, imaginations will run wild. But if you only do one thing, head to the Animal Kingdom where The World of Avatar is due to open in time for summer 2017. Be one of the first to soar on a Banshee over the alien world, as well as navigate the Na’vi River Journey through Pandora’s bioluminescent rainforest.

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  • Find clownfish in a coral garden when you snorkel in the Indian Ocean © Getty

    Swim with the fishes

    If snorkelling isn’t your thing, take a glass-bottomed boat tour to Blue Bay Marine Park and see if you can spot the angel fish, parrotfish and clownfish dancing beneath your feet.

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  • Take in a miniature world of colour at LEGOland Dubai © LEGOland

    Brick by brick

    20 million LEGO bricks went into the making of miniland at Dubai’s new LEGOland featuring all the UAE landmarks. Guests who want to build their own iconic skyline can create it in ‘Build A City’, a 10m play table with white Lego bricks.

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  • Take a break from the Big Apple and soak up some culture in Central Park © Patti McConville / Getty

    Curiouser and curiouser!

    Thousands of years ago, the area where Central Park now stands was covered and surrounded by glaciers. To see the proof, go and find the large boulders dotted around the park, which were left there when the glaciers receded around 12,000 years ago.

    New York with kids

3. Take a night-time safari in Singapore

This isn’t just any old safari, this is the world’s first park dedicated to nocturnal animals. As dusk falls, follow one of the walking trails or hop on a tram, which will transport you across seven geographical zones of the world. Either way, as the kids’ eyes adjust to the darkness they’ll be greeted by over 2,500 resident animals. With over a quarter of the park’s inhabitants a threatened species, including the Asian elephant and Malayan tiger, this is an experience worth staying up late for.

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4. Join Alice in Wonderland in New York

Curious young minds will be fascinated by the sights and sounds of the Big Apple – the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty, riding the subway, Manhattan’s neck craningly-high buildings, the bustling neighbourhoods of Little Italy and Chinatown and, in the midst of it all, Central Park. It’s here you’ll find a statue of Alice in Wonderland and her storybook friends – the 11-foot bronze statue was commissioned in 1959 by philanthropist and magazine publisher George T. Delacorte Jr. for the kids of the city and, to this day, you’ll find children clambering on it.

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5. Be like Bear Grylls in the Canadian Rockies

Where better for mini explorers than the natural adventure playground of the Rocky Mountains? Most of the mountain range – which stretches from Alberta down to New Mexico in the USA – is protected by National Park status. In the Canadian Rockies alone there are five National Parks, all with snow-capped mountains, Alpine lakes, and spectacular wildlife. Head to a visitor site, pick up a map and set off on the hiking and biking trails. There’s also fishing, rafting, horse riding and climbing, while in winter you can do skiing, dog sledding, or ice walking.

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6. Go theme park crazy in Dubai

Dubai threw open the doors to some seriously impressive theme parks in 2016. The indoor IMG Worlds of Adventure, which cost £758m to create, boasts a Marvel Comics themed zone and a 3D ride with 18 IMAX projectors. Not to be outdone, Dubai Parks and Resorts is now welcoming guests to its three parks – the Hollywood-inspired Motiongate, Bollywood Parks (a celebration of the Mumbai film industry) and Legoland. Will you dare to try the Dragon roller coaster, which is 16m high and reaches speeds of 60km per hour?

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  • A child whizzes down the mountains in the Pyrenees © Getty

    Baby it’s cold outside

    On a clear day you can see 300km of peaks from the observatory at the top of the Pic du Midi summit – indeed experts have used the spot to study the sun and stars for over 135 years.

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  • Wahiba Sands in Oman at night © SeppFriedhuber / Getty

    All is quiet

    Around 60km away from the Wahiba Sands Desert Camp lies the best-known wadi (oases) of the Sharqiyah region, the Wadi Bani Kalid where you will find the Kahf Maqal, one of the Sultanate's underground chambers. Reaching this cave takes effort but it’s well worth the journey.

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  • A child takes a pottery class in Shanghai © Nancy Habbas / Getty

    The art of learning

    Some of the world’s acrobatics can be found at Shanghai Circus World, where every weekend you can see breathtaking shows and stunts, lions and tigers and clown performances better than any others.

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7. Train to be a Roman Gladiator for the day

Bring those history lessons to life by enrolling the children in gladiator school on the ancient Appian Way. During the two-hour lesson – given by members of the historic Roman Group – they’ll dress in full gladiator garb, master hand-to-hand combat, learn how to fight with authentic weapons (don’t worry, the swords are fake), and take part in an optional tournament. Afterwards, reward your little Spartacus with pizza and gelato. When in Rome...

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8. Learn to ski in the Pyrenees

With its gentle slopes, good snow record and friendly resorts, Andorra is ideal for first-time skiers. The three main resorts – Soldeu, Pas de la Casa and Pal-Arinsal – all offer a kid’s circuit with a themed run, as well as an abundance of English-speaking instructors at the ski schools. Should the smalls need a rest and you a restorative hot chocolate, there are kindergartens at mid-mountain which you can book for full or half days.

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  • A night safari, Wildlife Reserves Singapore

    Nightlife

    Watch the night sky come alive every night in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands. A water and light show runs every night at 8pm and 9.30pm at the Event Plaza along the Promenade where you can watch the water transform into scenes and images thanks to the dancing fountains and jumping lights, accompanied by music. On Friday and Saturday nights, there is an additional show at 11pm.

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9. Get arty in Shanghai

From hand-built clay pots to sophisticated porcelain pieces made for the imperial court, pottery has been a tradition in China for more than 11,000 years. So how cool would it be to enrol the family in a private class to learn about this ancient Chinese art form? During the two-hour workshop, which takes place in the centre of bustling Shanghai, a local artist will show you how to shape clay, craft intricate decorations and make your own piece of pottery to take home.

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10. Find Nemo and swim with dolphins in Mauritius

Mauritius isn’t just for honeymooners. The soft sandy beaches and warm turquoise sea are a children’s paradise too. The island is surrounded by coral reef, which in turn creates crystal clear lagoons and calm conditions – ideal for learning to snorkel. One of the best spots to don a mask and flippers is Blue Bay Marine Park, where you’ll spot a rainbow-hued collection of fish. Once the kids are confident, take them snorkelling in the open sea with the spinner and bottlenose dolphins.

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