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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Alaska Highway road trip: 5 show-stoppers along the way



Aussie road trippers seeking the ultimate driving holiday can’t go past the renowned Alaska Highway in Canada’s Yukon Territory. The term ‘scenic drive’ doesn’t begin to describe the rugged beauty along this wilderness route, with snow-covered mountains, spruce forests, ancient glaciers and abundant wildlife making this a driving paradise.

As this iconic route winds through historic communities and soaring mountain ranges, you won’t want to miss the key photo opportunities along the way. Read on for five unmissable stop-offs on this unforgettable journey.

Sign Post Forest

As you cruise through Watson Lake, east of Yukon’s capital city of Whitehorse, keep your eyes peeled for a road-side collection of more than 77,000 signs from around the world. This unique time capsule dates back to 1942 when US Soldier, Carl K. Lindley erected a sign marking the direction and distance to his hometown, Illinois. The trend caught on, with locals and visitors from across the globe continuing to add their own sign posts. You can BYO or make one at the Watson Lake Visitor Information Centre to contribute to this peculiar, colourful collection. If you’re travelling from late August to mid-April, you’re in the prime location to witness the mystical aurora borealis. During summer, head to the Northern Lights Centre, where you can experience the magic of the northern lights through some high-tech panoramic video and surround sound.

Carcross

Just 72 kilometres from Whitehorse, the historic town of Carcross is well worth a pit-stop. Check out some incredible First Nations’ artwork and stop for photos at the staggering totem poles towering overhead. A couple of kilometres outside the village, you’ll find the Carcross Desert, affectionately known as the world's smallest desert. 10,000 years ago, this was the bottom of a large glacial lake. Today, the sand dunes run to the shore of Bennett Lake, known for its beautiful beach covered in fine, white sand. Take a walk along the lake shores and discover the fascinating tales of Klondike gold stampeders who carved a treacherous trail on their way to Dawson City more than 120 years ago.



Whitehorse

It’s time to stretch your legs in the friendly town of Whitehorse. Stroll the Millennium Trail past the impressive Whitehorse dam and along the Yukon River to tour the regal S.S. Klondike sternwheeler, the last of its kind to operate on the river, now a National Historic Site. And don’t miss the Beringia Interpretive Centre, where you’ll meet the beasts that roamed Beringia before the last Ice Age, from mammoths and the giant short-faced bear, to the steppe bison, and the scimitar cat. Stop for lunch at one of the many funky cafés dotted along the main street, including Café Balzam, a creperie inspired by French cuisine based on locally produced fare.

Haines Junction

You’ll want to stay awake as you approach the friendly town of Haines Junction. We’re talking jaw-dropping panoramas of epic mountains that stretch beyond your windscreen to the horizon. Haines Junction, surrounded by the magnificent Saint Elias Mountains is the gateway to UNESCO site Kluane National Park and home to abundant wildlife, including the highest concentration of grizzly bears in North America. Check out the Da Kų Cultural Centre in the village and join a ‘campfire talk’ to learn more about the rich culture of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations.

Being half the size of Switzerland, Kluane National Park deserves more than a pit-stop to fully appreciate its splendour. Hundreds of hiking trails beckon, abundant lakes offer wonderful canoeing, and the Tatshenshini-Alsek river system, fed by ancient glaciers, is the ultimate white-water destination for thrill seekers.

Beaver Creek

The four-hour drive to Canada’s most westerly community of Beaver Creek is peppered with unmissable stops. Watch the mesmerising Dall sheep through the telescopes at the Tachäl Dhäl Visitor Centre in the Slim’s River Valley as they graze on the mountainside. Better still, climb the park range to Soldier’s Summit for a closer look.

Head on to Destruction Bay, a picturesque town that belies its name, with the glittering turquoise Kluane Lake and abundant wildlife. Cruise along the shores of the lake all the way to Burwash Landing where you can visit the Kluane Museum of Natural History, featuring no less than 70 species of Yukon wildlife and artefacts from the area’s Southern Tutchone people. A little further along, you’ll reach your final stop of Beaver Creek, on the Canada-US border, home to the White River First Nation for the past 10,000 years.

The good news is your road trip doesn’t have to end here. Follow the Klondike/Kluane Loop drive over the Top of the world Highway to Dawson City and then back to Whitehorse. One thing is certain: your unforgettable Alaska Highway road trip will create stories you’ll be sharing for years to come.

Getting to Yukon Territory

Air Canada has direct flights to Vancouver from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, with connecting flights to Whitehorse and Dawson City available on Air Canada and Air North.

For more information about Yukon visit www.travelyukon.com.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Expert advice on family holidays



Experts at booking bespoke travel experiences for families, The Goldman Group outlines bucket list destinations for their own families in 2019

With so much insight and experience organising other people’s holidays for over 30 years, how do the Goldmans choose where to travel for their next family holiday?

Australian travellers are always keen to experience ‘the next big thing’ when it comes to travel, so what are the new trends for 2019? Multi-generational travel is increasingly popular, with extended families seeking immersive cultural experiences, exploring beyond the beaten path, and developing authentic connections with locals in far-flung places across the globe.

According to Anthony Goldman, joint managing director of The Goldman Group, new destinations which will top the charts for families in 2019 include Iceland; Galapagos Islands; Cuba; Antarctica; Botswana; and Mongolia.

From sleeping in a traditional yurt, catching the Northern Lights, or spotting a blue-footed booby, here’s a taste of where the Goldmans would love to go in 2019.



David Goldman, Joint Managing Director, The Goldman Group

Iceland

Visiting Snæfellsjökull National Park, taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon and seeing the Northern Lights has long been on my bucket list, and I plan to tick it off in 2019. Iceland seems like a nature lovers paradise, from roadside waterfalls, to hidden hot springs, to camping by glaciers it has all the components of a healthy family trip where natural wonders, history and culture can be explored.

Where I would stay: Hotel Rangá offers fantastic views of the Northern Lights, as well as renowned continental suites, decorated and themed after the seven continents.



Anthony Goldman, Joint Managing Director, The Goldman Group

Mongolia

The Orkhon Valley is saturated with history, and home to many ancient states, making it a fantastic excursion for the entire family to enjoy. Recognised by UNESCO World Heritage as a cultural landscape, you can discover old Turkish Orkhon inscriptions from the 8th century, the Tuvkhun Monestry and the Erdene Zuu Monastery.

Where I would stay: Mongolian gers, or yurts, are the traditional nomadic style of housing in the country, allowing you to get closely acquainted with the way of life and culture of the Mongolian people. Manly locals still live in gers – even on the edges of Ulaanbaatar, the capital city. You can find sprawling ger districts full of families who want to live in the classic style while still enjoying all the conveniences of life in the capital city.



Tom Goldman, Founder, The Goldman Group

Galapagos Islands

Arguably the most famous wildlife spotting destinations in the world, the Galapagos Islands is home to the most unique wildlife in the world - including 30,000 giant tortoises. From the opportunity to spy blue footed boobies, to a lagoon filled with pink flamingos, to snorkelling the reefs off San Cristobal Island - visiting the Galapagos Islands is a family adventure like no other.

Where I would stay: Red Mangrove Hotel, an eco-luxury oceanfront hotel located in the heart of Galapagos on Santa Cruz Island in the town of Puerto Ayora. You can share the deck with sea lions, marine iguanas and numerous species of seabirds and even Darwin’s finches.

As far as other destinations on the family’s buckets lists, Cuba, Antarctica and Botswana are the pick of the bunch.

“Destination diversity, and the creation of bespoke itineraries is a specialty of The Goldman Group. We receive requests for customers to explore far flung places around the globe on a daily basis, and are constantly inspired for our own family travels,” says Anthony Goldman. “The only problem is – sometimes it’s hard to choose!”

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Top 2019 travel predictions


From cultural exchanges and eco activism, to virtual agents and a 'less is more' mentality – here are the biggest travel trends for next year

Leveraging its unique position as a travel and technology leader, Booking.com, a global leader in connecting travellers with incredible places to stay, has delved into its insights from over 163 million verified guest reviews and research from 21,500 travellers across 29 countries, to reveal eight travel predictions for 2019.

Where to Travel in 2019 - the Annual Adventure Edition



From destinations on the rebound, to places where events and political changes are making it more exciting or accessible to visit, the adventure experts at G Adventures have mined their data and married it with customer insights, as well as topical world events, to forecast the 10 hottest spots to travel to in 2019.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Experience Traditional Markets in Korea


Exploring the loud hustle and bustle of the markets in Korea is a great way to get a taste of the local life. With some markets being up to 700 years old, they offer visitors a glimpse of the history and culture that has taken place to establish what they are now.

Through the labyrinth-like streets, the markets have everything from electronics, fresh produce to steaming stalls selling all kinds of food. These markets are tucked away throughout Seoul and gives visitors a chance to escape the modern city life and experience traditional Korea. So, here are few of the must-see markets when visiting.

Starting with the largest and oldest, Namdaemun market has over 10,000 stores and is constantly buzzing with locals and tourists alike. The market offers shoppers a comprehensive array of clothing, fabrics, jewellery, toys, housewares and appliances all at affordable prices. A crucial part of visiting any market would be trying out the famous street foods. At Namdaemum market you can visit two famous food alleys kalguksu alley (Korean handmade noodles) and galchijorim alley (braised hairtail fish). Both alleys are only a few metres long but specialise in their signature dish and is a popular option for lunch. The lively atmosphere and the warm generosity of these street vendors are guaranteed to leave you satisfied and full.

 

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Next up, Gwangjang market was established back in 1904 and is said to have over 65,000 people visiting each day. This market is most well-known for its large variety of food stalls and is a must-visit for any foodie travelling in Korea. All the dishes are freshly made with local produce and visitors can watch the action happen as the meals are prepared right in front of them. The market particularly prides itself on its famous bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), dumplings and bibimbap (mixed rice). But a trip to Gwangjang markets wouldn't be complete without trying its 'Mayak Gimbap' which translates to 'narcotic rice rolls'. Although this is not a literal translation it gains its title from its addictiveness and returning customers. For the brave-hearted, a walk down yukhoe alley (raw beef) is another must. Buchon yukoe is a Michelin recommended restaurant (Bib Gourmand 2018) that serves up fresh beef tartare topped with sliced pear, sesame oil and a raw egg.

 

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If the food wasn't enough reason to go, on the second floor you'll find one of the largest collection of fabrics in Asia and an opportunity to custom design your very own traditional Korean outfit known as Hanbok. This is a perfect way to bring a little bit of Korean culture back home with you from your trip. Moreover, palaces in Seoul give free entry to anyone wearing a Hanbok, so it might be a good idea to visit the nearby Changdeokgung Palace after exploring the markets.

 

Last but definitely not least, rapidly rising in popularity is Tongin market. Compared to Namdaemum and Gwangjang market it is smaller in size but has been drawing attention with its interesting 'Dosirak' Cafe (lunch box system). Here you can trade in your wons (Korean currency) for olden day Korean tokens and a plastic lunch tray, which will allow you to explore the markets like a buffet. 5,000 won (approx. $6 AUD) will get you 5 choices and is a convenient way to try a little bit of everything. A popular dish among locals is the "Gireum teokbokki"(oil rice cake), this is a dish that has been unique to Tongin market since the 1950s and is a must-try when visiting.

 

3010070201803001k_Tongin+Market3010070201610029k_Tongin Market

 

To see a more comprehensive list of markets in Korea visit: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SH/SH_EN_7_1_6_3.jsp

Email: visitkorea@knto.org.au 

Web: www.visitkorea.org.au

Web: www.visitkorea.org.au

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SeeKorea


Monday, October 1, 2018

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park: Uganda's Oldest Forest


The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park offers more than just gorillas in the mist.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park lies in the southwest corner of Uganda on the edge of the Rift Valley. Uganda's oldest forest, it boats a truly theatrical landscape of volcanoes, jagged valleys, waterfalls, lakes and dramatic mountain ranges and is internationally famous for its endangered mountain gorillas. Less well known, it's also a haven for bird watchers, home to an astonishing array of endemic bird species that are rarely found in any other part of East Africa. And the star attraction? The globally threatened African Green Broadbill (Pseudocalyptomena graueri) aka Grauers Broadbill.

Only found in south-west Uganda (Mubwindi Swamp), Itombwe Mountains (Democratic Republic of Congo) and mountains west of Lake Kivu, Bwindi is by far and away the safest and most accessible place to catch a glimpse of this beautiful leaf green bird. But be prepared to work hard for the privilege as its preferred habitat, at an altitude of around 2,300m, ensures sightings are the preserve of a chosen few.

Located deep inside Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp is an ideal base for encounters with both gorillas and the African Green Broadbill. Featuring just eight luxuriously appointed tents, the Camp is one of the most secluded and atmospheric in Africa and is the only luxury camp within the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Offering birdwatchers an unrivalled location, including the best bird and wildlife viewing in the Bwindi area, the camp often receives regular visits from the gorillas themselves, delivering guests a chance to engage with these awe-inspiring primates without even leaving the Camp!


Monday, September 24, 2018

Five of the Best Winter Wilderness Lodges in Canada


Australian travellers are making the most of early bird specials to experience Canada's untamed wilderness from December to March, when it transforms into a quintessential winter wonderland.



Read on for five of Canada's best winter lodges, offering an idyllic, immersive experience, from wildlife encounters and outdoor adventures, to log fires, charming villages and fine dining.

Blachford Lake Lodge, Northwest Territories
Fly on a bush plane – equipped with skis in winter– and land alongside Blachford Lake Lodge, an oasis of rustic luxury in the Northwest Territories' wilderness near Yellowknife. Skate on the frozen lake, mush huskies, stomp off on snowshoes or hop on a snowmobile and experience the wide-open northern backcountry. Sit down to fresh, local cuisine like bison and pike, then slip into the hot tub and watch curtains of colourful northern lights shimmer and loop across the horizon like fireworks on a cosmic scale.

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Alberta
Bedding down in a remote wilderness lodge doesn't mean you need to rough it. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge maintains its 1920s appeal, with its cozy communal lounge area and cedar chalets, and combines it with award-winning cuisine, a luxury spa and all the trimmings you'd expect at a prestige Fairmont resort. Wrapping around the shores of pristine Lac Beauvert in Jasper National Park, you're spoilt for choice when it comes to epic winter adventures. Ice skate on the lake, go cross-country or downhill skiing, or simply stroll the snow-covered forest and say hello to the elk, goats, big-horned sheep, wolves, and moose, who call this beautiful place home.

Tagish Wilderness Lodge, Yukon Territory
 Tagish Wilderness Lodge in Yukon Territory in north-west Canada, is an authentic wilderness retreat. With no road access, you'll arrive by dog sled or ski plane and be treated to crackling campfires, howling wolves, winter adventures and, of course, the unforgettable aurora borealis. Learn how to mush your very own team of sled dogs, witness the magnificent northern lights, try your luck at ice fishing, relax in the herbal sauna, or just curl up with a book by the wood-burning stove. It's your very own magical Narnia.

Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge, Manitoba
The sheer remoteness of Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge in Canada's central province of Manitoba means you'll be treated to some of the most pristine wilderness in the world. Strategically located on the Hudson Bay in close proximity to polar bear dens, and directly under the aurora oval, it's one of the only places on Earth where you can encounter polar bears and other Arctic animals by day, and unobstructed views of the shimmering northern lights at night.

Featured in the prestigious National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge serves up the ultimate winter wilderness experience, with large picture windows overlooking the coast and passing wildlife, as well as incredible food, prepared from the lodge's famous cook book series, Blueberries & Polar Bears.

Skoki Lodge, Alberta
High in the alpines of Banff National Park, at the end of an eleven-kilometre trail from Lake Louise, Skoki Lodge is the gateway to breathtaking mountain ridges, valleys and crystal lakes. This backcountry Lodge is only accessible by hiking or skiing and has a true back-to-nature mentality. Just ask Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, who stayed at the rustic lodge in 2011. Chef, Katie Mitzel, hovers over the wood-fired creating gastronomical masterpieces from local ingredients and seasonal fare. Think seafood chowder, Alberta beef, Canmore coffee, cheese and wine.

GETTING THERE

Air Canada offers daily direct flights to Vancouver from Sydney and Brisbane, with direct flights from Melbourne available three times per week. Year-round direct flights from Melbourne to Vancouver are also available, with connecting flights to the eastern provinces. Direct flights from Sydney to Vancouver are also available on Qantas.

www.keepexploring.com.au
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