Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Guide to Hong Kong's neighbourhoods



Dive into Hong Kong’s diverse and exciting neighbourhoods with Trip.com and you’ll be guided into experiences in places you never knew existed, and where you’ll gain a new understanding of local Hong Kong life, up-close and in detail.

Each is a destination in its own right. Like tiny cities within a sprawling metropolis, each has its own culture and personality, shaped over time by fascinating people, foods, communities and stories, as well as rich and varied histories.

Use Trip.com’s handy guide below to show you how to explore all these neighbourhoods like a local, with deals to match and you’ll discover the Hong Kong that is missed by most guidebooks.

With hotels on offer from under $100 per night and return flights from around $680 with Qantas and Virgin, Hong Kong never looked so enticing.

Sign up online too, as Trip.com’s loyalty members can benefit from deals available only to them, in Hong Kong, during this campaign launched this week, designed to encourage travellers to explore beyond the same old tourist haunts.

TripPLUS members who have accumulated loyalty points called “Trip Coins” whenever they have booked flights and hotels or written a review on Trip.com platforms, can use them to gain exclusive discounts on future purchases.

Central

Take a quick glance at Central’s glittering skyscrapers and it would be easy to dismiss Hong Kong’s financial hub as boring. But beneath the canopy of this concrete jungle lies some of the city’s most exciting (and exclusive) bars, restaurants and modern-art galleries. Perched on the north shore of Hong Kong Island, the district’s transport links are as good as you’d expect from a place named ‘Central’ – this is where you’ll find the Victoria Peak Tram, the Mid-Levels Escalator and the Star Ferry.

Sheung Wan

If suits own Central, then hipsters control Sheung Wan. Sitting in the shadow of Central’s high-rises just west of Hong Kong’s towering business district, Sheung Wan was a typical residential neighbourhood until it began to modernise rapidly in recent years, welcoming a wave of trendy coffee shops, bohemian vintage stores and cutting-edge eateries to its streets. Here, you can shop for antiques on Hollywood Road; visit Man Ho Temple, one of the oldest in Hong Kong; and take photos of the street art in PoHo, the area around Po Hing Fong and Tai Ping Shan Street.

SoHo

SoHo is another spot favoured by Hong Kong’s arty crowd. Sandwiched between Central and Mid-Levels and sitting next door to the craziness that is Lan Kwai Fong, SoHo is short for South of Hollywood Road and covers the area between Staunton and Elgin Streets. All along the Mid-levels Escalator route are where cool new bars, restaurants, boutiques, comedy clubs, galleries, design stores and cafés seem to spring up every day.

Lan Kwai Fong

Welcome to Hong Kong’s party central. Home to more than 100 bars, Lan Kwai Fong has a venue for everyone. Young professionals, expats, backpackers, cashed-up locals, yuppies and anyone else thirsty for a drink or three converge on this part of town on the weekend, flooding legendary nightspots like Club Qing, Levels and Cé La Vi.

Mid-Levels

This district might be mainly residential, but the Mid-Levels boasts some of Hong Kong’s best views from the slopes of Victoria Peak. Hop on one of the 20 escalators or three ‘travelators’ snaking between the glitzy apartment blocks to escape the Central smog and enjoy some fresh air in one of the mountainside parks, then climb even higher to the summit of Victoria Peak for peerless vistas over Hong Kong. On the way back down, make sure to stop off in one of the many boutiques, bars and bistros that line the escalator route.

Wan Chai

Wan Chai used to be infamous for its red-light district, but the sleaze and smut has made way for stylish hotels and cultural centres. Occupying the waterfront east of Central, Wan Chai has traded raunchy sailors and boozy bars for the avant-garde Hong Kong Arts Center, the world-class Academy for Performing Arts, and the iconic Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. Just east of Wan Chai sits Causeway Bay – an area teeming with department stores – and to the south is Happy Valley, home to one of the most famous horse-racing tracks on the planet.

Tsim Sha Tsui

Jump on the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour to reach one of Hong Kong’s liveliest neighbourhoods on the southern tip of the Kowloon Peninsula. Tsim Sha Tsui is one stop that every visitor should add to their Hong Kong itinerary. Take in Nathan Road’s neon-lit Golden Mile, the Avenue of Stars – China’s answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame – and gargantuan shopping malls such as K11 and Harbour City. This neighbourhood has a veritable smorgasbord of upmarket dining options: visitors can choose from Michelin-star fine dining, traditional Cantonese cuisine and international fare from pretty much everywhere around the world.

Mong Kok

Mong Kok is all about one thing: markets, and lots of them. The air here is filled with the smells of food wafting from the stalls on Sai Yeung Choi, Dundas, Fa Yuen and Soy Streets – perfect for satisfying your hunger after a long day exploring the Ladies’ Market or the district’s specialist markets dedicated to birds, flowers and even goldfish. Hipsters should venture further north to Sham Shui Po, an up-and-coming food and shopping hub.

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Sydney's Celebrity Hot Spots



Wonder where celebrities like actors, singers, and models hang out during their Sydney holidays?

After all, Sydney is known to be one of the Southern Hemisphere’s cultural capitals, favoured by the glitterati of Australia and beyond.

In this article, we will reveal the best locations in the Emerald City for a celebrity sighting.

But before you go stargazing, here’s some good news: visitors to Sydney may soon enjoy a long-awaited extended nightlife scene, if shops, eateries, and other businesses in central Sydney are finally given the go-ahead to operate at all hours of the day. Currently, the city’s “lockout laws” prohibit entry into bars, pubs, and clubs after 1.30am. There is also a stipulated time for last drinks—3.00am.

"It's not going to all happen at once, but it will slowly start to build," says Sydney councillor Jess Scully. "It's setting Sydney's nightlife up for the future, and for how we live now."

Thankfully, there’s already plenty to do in Sydney. If you need quirky Sydney activities to fill your day, or ideas for fun things to do in Sydney at night, take your cue from Sydney’s celebrity visitors, and make a stop at the city’s hippest spots. Put on your glamorous togs and read on to find out more.

1. Have Breakfast at Bills Restaurant

Bills
Address: 359 Crown Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia
Telephone number: +61 2 9360 4762
Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 7.00am to 10.00pm
Saturday to Sunday: 7.30am to 10.00pm

Why begin your day at Bills? It’s run by Bill Granger, Aussie celebrity chef and the “egg master of Sydney.” Bills at Surry Hills was pop superstar Taylor Swift’s first stop—fresh from the airport—when she arrived in Sydney for an awards show some years back.

At Bills, the scrambled eggs are creamy to a fault, the sweet corn fritters have been proclaimed the city’s best, and the ricotta hotcakes have earned a devoted following too. Yet Granger remains charmingly modest about his culinary talents. "It's not complicated. It's not science. I'm not… out there in the kitchen devising. I'm very much a domestic cook," he once said.

Surprisingly, the passion for food doesn’t run in Granger’s family—cooking was even viewed as a chore to rebel against. But, following his parents’ separation, Granger began to change his perspective. "We never sat down together as a family, so for me, food was a way of bringing the family together,” he told The Telegraph. “Food is a conduit to good relationships."

Last year, Bills at Surry Hills celebrated a fresh start, by reopening at a site next door to its original location. This was the restaurant’s first update after 23 years. Its breakfast classics are still there, along with newer dishes (seared duck breast) and a delectable wine range sourced from South Australia’s Riverland region. (Click here to see where else you can find Bills in Sydney, and around the world.)

Get directions to Bills

2. Scale the Sydney Harbour Bridge

You might not spot a celebrity at the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but if you conquer the BridgeClimb Sydney—by reaching the bridge’s summit—you would most certainly be following in celebrity footsteps. Which celebrities, you may ask? Recent star climbers include actor Luke Evans, musician Sam Smith, retired Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe, and Hollywood megastar (and Sydney native) Hugh Jackman.

There’s an even better reason to put this on your list of things to do in Sydney today: the BridgeClimb was named Australia’s top experience by TripAdvisor last year. It also clinched the No. 4 spot on TripAdvisor’s Top 10 list of the best experiences in the world.

Not exactly a fan of heights? Here are some tips by the BridgeClimb experts for staying on course: slow down your breathing to relax naturally, steer your mind towards positive thoughts (“I’ll love the view!” or “This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!”), look horizontally instead of downwards, and most importantly, trust BridgeClimb to bring you safely up and back.

As for what to wear, those who’ve done the climb recommend comfortable casual wear, such as a t-shirt and tights.

Note: the Sydney BridgeClimb does come at a price, with some packages costing as much as AU$388 per person. If you’re keeping an eye on your spending and don’t mind doing a shorter version of the climb, try the BridgeClimb sampler for AU$174 (adult price).

Get directions to Sydney Harbour Bridge | Buy tickets

3. Chill Out at Bondi Beach

Icebergs Dining Room and Bar
Address: 1 Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach NSW 2026, Australia
Telephone number: +61 2 9365 9000
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: 12.00pm to 12.00am
Sunday: 10.00am to 10.00pm

“Definitively Sydney, Bondi is one of the world’s great beaches,” says Jeroen Meijer, general manager of PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney. “It’s the closest ocean beach to the city centre (8km away), has consistently good—though crowded—waves, and is great for a rough-and-tumble swim.”

If you’re looking for calmer waters, Meijer’s advice is to “try the child-friendly saltwater sea baths at either end of the beach.” To enjoy warm sea temperatures, the best months to visit are from December to March. But rest assured that people still visit the beach during the winter months of June to August.

To spend a full day at Bondi, you could begin with a morning or midday surf lesson, and cool off at the Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, where luminaries such as Oprah Winfrey, model Alexa Chung, and actress Sienna Miller have been spotted. Post-lunch, you can check if any festivals or celebrations are happening in the vicinity, or go shopping along the nearby Gould Street, where you can find international labels as well as homegrown designer fashions.

Hungry again? If you haven’t had a chance to sample Australian cuisine at Bills (see above), there’s a branch at Bondi Beach you can visit.

Get directions to Bondi Beach

4. Explore Sydney’s Classiest Neighbourhood

Chargrill Charlie’s Mosman
Address: 884 Military Road, Mosman NSW 2088, Australia
Telephone number: +61 2 9969 7107
Opening hours: 9.00am to 9.00pm daily

Taronga Zoo Sydney
Address: Bradleys Head Road, Mosman NSW 2088, Australia
Telephone number: +61 2 9969 2777
Opening hours: 9.30am to 4.30pm daily

In 2017, pop sensation and former bad boy Justin Bieber rented a home on Coronation Avenue, in the Sydney neighbourhood of Mosman. Today, Coronation Avenue has been named the lower north shore’s most desired street for buyers, according to an Australian real estate site.

Mosman is reputedly one of Sydney’s most affluent and prestigious suburbs, and it’s worth a drive there to see how the city’s well-heeled live. Use the Sitchu guide to explore the restaurants, cafes, and bars in the area, or simply head to Chargrill Charlie’s, as Bieber himself did.

From here, the Taronga Zoo Sydney is within easy reach. “[T]his bushy harbour hillside is full of kangaroos, koalas, and similarly hirsute Australians,” quips Jeroen Meijer. “Highlights include the nocturnal platypus habitat, the Great Southern Oceans section, and the Asian elephant display. Feedings and encounters happen throughout the day, while in summer, twilight concerts jazz things up.”

Get directions to Mosman
Get directions to Taronga Zoo Sydney

5. Party at The Ivy

Address: 330 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Telephone number: +61 2 9240 3000
Opening hours: Hours vary, check website for details

Looking for things to do in Sydney at night? If you fancy running into the likes of reality star Kim Kardashian or English comedian Russell Brand, The Ivy is where you need to be. This urban playground features intimate lounges, as well as dance floors and plenty of food and drinking options—essentially, all your party needs under one roof. (Did we mention that there’s a rooftop pool bar too?) The Ivy tends to attract those who want to be seen, so go ahead and make the extra effort.

Sadly, it appears there are redevelopment plans afoot for The Ivy, with no closure date given as of now. Your best bet is to visit The Ivy while it’s still around!

“I've been to nearly every club in Ibiza. I've been... to Miami Music Week and several festivals. [The Ivy] is one of the best clubs I have ever been [to],” raves a satisfied clubber. “It's not only this really great venue…. the people you're going to party with [are] perfect!”

Get directions to The Ivy

Looking for a celebrity-worthy place to call home during your Sydney holidays? Book a stay at PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney, where all rooms and suites have been furnished to create a luxurious residential feel. (Read this interview with PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney’s Jeroen Meijer to find out more.)

More reasons to book us: kids stay and eat free, and early birds enjoy savings on our Best Available Rates. View our room offers or get in touch with us today!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Philippines: Ten great things to do in Cebu



Located in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, Cebu draws almost 2 million foreign travellers each year with its white-sand beaches and spectacular diving. Consisting of over 7,000 islands, the Philippines is filled with lots of places for travellers to explore, and with so many destinations on offer, many travellers only plan a couple of activities in Cebu before heading onto another island. The Philippines Department of Tourism has compiled a list of 10 things for travellers to consider doing in Cebu before moving on.

Ms Norjamin Delos Reyes, Tourism Attaché at Philippine Department of Tourism Australia and New Zealand said,

“Tourism to Cebu is really booming at the moment. From cultural and heritage sites to natural destinations and more active activities, Cebu has so much on offer. The capital of Cebu City alone is filled with lively bars, emerging eateries and shops to explore, there really is so much to do. Travellers do not often realise that they can enjoy a full adventure-packed week and more in Cebu alone.”

1. Sirao Flower Garden
This so-called “Mini Amsterdam” is attracting tourists from far and wide to view the stunning range of flowers within. Located just a few minutes from Lahug, Cebu City, the 8,000-square-meter piece of uphill land is filled not only with flowers, but bicycles, a windmill, fountains, and picket fences to resemble the fields of Amsterdam.

2. Osmena Peak
The Highest Mountain in Cebu, Osmena Peak forms part of a range of green jagged hills, similar to the Chocolate Hills of Bohol. Set amidst limestone cliffs, the hills offer the perfect hiking trail; a relatively easy 700-metre climb which can be done in around 20 minutes, with incredible views out to sea from the top.

3. Kawasan Falls
A stunning three-tier waterfall in the South of Cebu island, Kawasan Falls is one of the Philippines most famous waterfalls; a tropical oasis surrounded by turquoise natural water to swim in. Bamboo rafts are also on hand to take travellers around the blue pool and under the waterfall.

4. Heritage of Cebu Monument
The Heritage of Cebu Monument is located at Parian in downtown Cebu and is amongst one of the most visually interesting sights in the Philippines. Consisting of sculptures made from concrete, bronze, brass and steel, the monument shows scenes about events and structures related to the history of Cebu.

5. Basilica of Sto. Nino
The oldest Roman Catholic church in the country, the Basilica of Sto. Nino is a basilica in Cebu City which was founded in 1565. The church itself is built on the spot where the image of the Santo Niño de Cebú was found during the expedition of Miguel López de Legazpi.

6. Sea of Clouds at Mt. Mago in Carmen, Cebu
Mount Mago is one of the easiest hiking and camping destinations in the Philippines, with gently rolling hills and a well-established trail to explore. Travellers may also be lucky enough to witness a surreal natural phenomenon whilst on the trail – a sea of clouds appearing right before their eyes.

7. Taoist Temple
Built in 1972, the Taoist Temple is located in Beverley Hills and is one of the many highlights of Cebu. Located on a hillside and offering views over Cebu, the temple is a place for meditation and is beautifully designed with carved dragons, a variety of colours and topped with a pagoda-style roof.

8. Oslob Cebu, Diving with the Whale Sharks
Swimming with the whale sharks is one of the top attractions in Cebu, and one not to be missed. In Oslob, travellers have the opportunity to get in the water and snorkel or dive with these gentle giants and watch them swim by, offering a unique and unforgettable wildlife interaction.

9. Sardine Run, Moalboal
Moalboal is widely considered to be a scuba diving mecca, with easy shore diving and numerous dive sites located along the beaches. The sardines are easily the main attraction here, forming huge clouds and creating different shapes in the water, providing incredible underwater photography opportunities.

10. Mt. Manunggal Eco-Adventure
Located in Baguio City in Northern Luzon and surrounded by pine trees, this stunning mountain view destination offers spectacular natural sceneries. With a range of adventurous activities on offer, travellers can choose from an exhilarating sky bike attraction, horseback riding, trekking and mountain climbing, and a soon-to-be-opened zip line.

For more information, visit Tourism Philippines. Follow Tourism Philippines on Facebook and Instagram. #itsmorefuninthePhilippines #Philippines

Monday, June 10, 2019

When is the best time to visit the Southern Serengeti?



Tanzania is a veritable wilderness extravaganza. From the snow-capped summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to the game-rich Ngorongoro Crater and the endless plains of the Serengeti, this vast and sparsely populated nation hosts some of the greatest wildlife experiences on earth. Throw in 14 national parks and numerous game reserves, home to some of the largest animal herds on the African continent, and it’s no wonder it’s the safari insider's hot tip.

It is also offers up amongst the best opportunities to take in one of the world’s most spectacular wilderness shows – the Great Migration as millions of wildebeest and zebra make their way around the Masai Mara and Serengeti – especially in the autumn, when the herds make their dramatic crossing of the Mara River in the Serengeti’s north.

But like all hot tickets, the autumn migration can come with its share of hassles, including higher prices and traffic jams as safari vehicles jostle for space near the best sightings. So when and where to go if you want to experience some great game viewing without the crowds?

Well, according to Michael McCall, Sanctuary Retreats’ Director of Sales Australia, NZ & Asia McCall, the Green Season in the Southern Serengeti from late January through to mid-March is seeing an increasing number of visitors heading to the region, where an estimated 400,000 wildebeest calves are born during the six-week period each year. But he says the winter months in this part of the Serengeti can be equally rewarding, offering up extraordinary opportunities to experience the Great Migration, in exclusive wildlife locations well off the tourist track.

Swahili phrase Baridi Nzuri means ‘the beautiful cold’ and it is an apt description of the Southern Serengeti in winter. By the June Solstice food is scarce; cold winds blow across dried golden grass; and the pastel colours of the sky give light to majestic days. It is also a time of considerable hardship as animals are pushed to their limits in the quest for water; with predators lurk at the watering holes, ready to pick off thirsty antelope, zebra and wildebeest.

Sanctuary Kusini is the only permanent camp in this unspoiled and remote part of the Serengeti, providing front-row seat to Tanzania's spectacular wildlife. According to McCall Kusini's location was specially selected after extensive research by the company’s guides and the local experts.

“The Camp overlooks the plains where game are a common sight pretty much all year round and every year wildebeest congregate on the camp's doorstep. It’s also built around a spectacular rocky outcrop and on the path of the wildebeest migration, which make it ideal for seeing wildlife on the grassy plains nearby.”

The park is also noted for its lion and cheetah populations and leopards and there is the chance to contribute to the cheetah watch project that is taking place in the region.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Cruising in higher latitudes



As the Med. gets increasingly crowded, and with much attendant hassle in the day to day logistics of operating amidst such overcrowding, more and more large yachts are heading to higher latitudes in the summer season.

Alternative summer destinations such as Ireland, Scotland the Faroes, Scandinavia and the far north towards Svalbard offer absolutely stunning cruising. The added benefit of increased amounts of daylight, usually of a beautiful quality of light in itself, add to the amazing cruising potential of these higher latitudes.

There is already an initiative in place to help promote cruising in these higher latitudes called “The Cool Route.” It is aimed at smaller craft as well, but the concept is great. http://www.sailcoolroute.eu and covers Ireland, Scotland, the Faroes and Norway.




M/Y “Lady M” 65m Palmer Johnson, sailing up the river Clyde past Port Glasgow into Glasgow city center.


Many owners are possibly put off by the fact that if their boat is based in the Med then it’s a bit of a hike and will cost them a fair sum in fuel to get further north. Not so relevant however for sailing vessels that can often enjoy exhilarating passages in these higher latitudes with fair winds. One objective for Captains can be to consider such cruising grounds in long term planning of the vessel’s schedule and research the best price fuel stops. Another option for sailing and motor yachts, as an offer to owners who have an appetite to explore, is to plan cruising routes of these northern grounds in conjunction with yard time.

Many of the world’s finest yachts were born or attend refits in the Netherlands or Germany, with smaller numbers also in the south of England, so to plan a high latitude cruising itinerary immediately after initial launch, (subject to proper sea trials and shake down of course), or when finishing a winter refit project or prior to such a winter yard period is very easy to do. You are basically there already at the gate to northern paradise.

Logistical supply and provisioning is good throughout northern Europe and this starts in the English Channel. If transiting directly to or from the Med pre or post visiting higher latitudes, bunkering of high quality fuel for example can be taken care of on a very competitive basis here by Rubis Channel Islands who will bring peace of mind to ensuring quality supply and service. Products include wholesale low tax/duty paid Premium FAME free ULSD/AGO and Jet A1 for explorer vessels with aircraft.

Rubis Channel Islands is part of the Rubis global group and has the advantage of prime location on the yacht transit routes at the western end of the English Channel and offers some of the lowest fuel prices across Europe. As more Captains and Owners hear of the significant benefits listed on their Superyacht Bunkering Factsheet available here http://www.rubis-ci.co.uk/superyacht the number of vessels using the Channel Islands as a stopover destination has rapidly increased with a superyacht on average every two weeks through 2018.





Two Superyachts at Rubis Channel Islands, St. Peter Port Guernsey


I could write volumes alone on the amazing benefits of cruising these slightly more alternative but stunning destinations, but within my constraints here, will just touch on them.

The destinations themselves are breath-taking and you will experience, many more subtle attributes that will enchant you like the amazing array of wildlife that can be seen off the coasts of Ireland and Scotland. The clarity of the waters will astound you and one of my personal favourite attributes of these amazing cruising grounds the intoxicating clarity of the air. You can just get up early and take in deep breaths of crystal clear air that you can instantly feel revitalise your inner self. Do not underestimate the tranquillity that you will experience, true peace can be found in many of the countless hidden gems that lie within these areas.

In Scotland there are stunning sea lochs to explore and extremely good cartography to ensure safe passage, as is the case around most of Scandinavia. Beaches that you could only imagine exist in the South Pacific are in abundance in Scotland, along with amazing history and culture. The countless islands that are dotted around Scandinavia, and the stunning fjords and waterfalls of Norway. Keep going north to the wilderness of Spitzbergen, the largest and only permanently populated island of the Svalbard archipelago in northern Norway and experience 24 hours of daylight in the summer.




North Europe: Spectacular scenery for cruising yachts to enjoy.



The opportunities are endless and with improved technology, careful planning and best arrangement of logistics and fuel stops, these beautiful destinations are more than ever in reach for well found yachts with adventurous owners. If you plan your trip properly, you will be truly taken in by these enchanting destinations.

What are you waiting for, head north and prepare to be amazed.


Article written by Iain Flockhart,a Superyacht Captain. Sponsored by Rubis Channel Islands. For more information please visit rubis-ci.co.uk

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Wildlife safari in South Africa.


Recently voted Africa's best safari destination.

Renowned for its vast array of wildlife, South Africa has long been regarded as one of Africa's most accessible and popular safari destinations and has recently been named 'best safari experience in Africa' by the Safari Awards Africa 2019.

But with an embarrassment of riches to choose from, working out where to go on safari here can be daunting. While most people head straight to mainstream game parks like Kruger National Park and Sabi Sabi Game Reserve, for the savvy traveller looking to stay ahead of the curve – and the crowds, there are still plenty of places to go that still are largely untouched by commercial tourism. Of these, Madikwe Game Reserve is a standout according to Michael McCall, Director of Sales Australia and NZ for boutique luxury safari specialist, Sanctuary Retreats.

"Madikwe is extraordinary. It is literally spread out over 75,000 hectares of stunning – and diverse, African wilderness. The terrain also varies widely from rocky peaks and open grasslands right through to lush valleys. This means that each area boasts its own distinctive inhabitants, which in turn means that visitors to the Reserve are all but guaranteed to see a huge and very diverse range of wildlife."

There is no doubt that Madikwe offers up some spectacular game viewing. The Reserve is home to a fantastic host of game species including the 'Big 5' (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard), cheetah, giraffe and hyena. The birdlife is also spectacular, with over 360 bird species found there. Plus, it's also one of the best places in Southern Africa to watch the elusive and rare wild dog, thanks to a world-renowned breeding program being run in the Reserve.

Driving through Madikwe's game-rich grasslands, travellers could be forgiven for believing this area was always an ecological haven. However, up until 1991 the land was utilized largely for intensive farming, which had almost completely destroyed indigenous flora and fauna. Confronted by degrading fertility and productivity, and a bleak outlook for agriculture, local communities and South African government looked to tourism to revitalize the land.

Developed as a three-way partnership between the South African government, local communities and the private sector, Madikwe Game Reserve was established with the primary objective of stimulating ecological, sustainable economic activity in the region. The key impetus for change was to create viable long-term employment and business opportunities, which in turn would generate much needed revenue to conserve the biodiversity of the area. And so, in 1991 Operation Phoenix, one of the biggest and most ambitious wildlife trans-location programs ever seen on the African continent, got underway.

Over the next seven years, over 10,000 animals were relocated into Madikwe. The 27 species released into the newly created reserve all occurred historically in the area and included lion, elephant, buffalo, black and white rhino, wild dog, giraffe, zebra and a host of antelope.

Madikwe Game Reserve is strictly protected and self-drive or day trips are tightly restricted in the area. This means that the best way to see the Reserve is during a stay in one of the area's exclusive bush hideaways. Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge is situated on private ground within the Reserve overlooking the Marico River. Catering to just sixteen guests, eight secluded and luxurious suites each boast spectacular glass-walled bedrooms, offering uninterrupted views of the surrounding forest and the River. Add in exceptional cuisine, welcoming service and thrilling game viewing, and the result, according to Michael is an unforgettable luxury safari experience.

But to really treat someone special in your life, he suggests spending a night in the Star View Sleep-Out Hide. Says Michael, "The two-level hide is tucked away in a secluded part of the Lodge's ground overlooking a waterhole. Falling asleep surrounded by lanterns while listening to a lullaby of roaring lions, crying jackals and laughing hyenas – it's the perfect retreat for romantics with a sense of adventure." There's also plenty of time to enjoy morning and night game drives, guided walks and intimate bush dinners. Or for those simply wanting to relax, Michael recommends booking in for a massage at the Lodge's Spa.

Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge is priced at ZAR9,900 per person per night for 1 – 3 nights twin share. Or enjoy further savings if you stay 4 nights or more at one or more of Sanctuary Retreats' properties including Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge, depending on your season of travel.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Gear up for Summer in Colorado


After the snow melts each spring, Colourful Colorado can be experienced, and adventures abound across the wildflower-dotted mountains, lush forests, flowing rivers and rock formations. Colorado’s adventures throughout summer deliver an adrenaline rush for all ages – whether you prefer to raft the rapids or take a historic rail journey into the mountains – while a stacked festival and live music line-up provide a great holiday soundtrack.

Views from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, credit Colorado Tourism Office


Here’s some of our top picks for the ultimate Colorado summer adventure:
Explore the canyons: Ouray is known for its ice climbing in the winter, but from May to October the same rocks and waterfalls can be explored by canyoning. Canyoning entails rappelling down waterfalls and exploring river canyons, andCanyoning Colorado is offering guided descents with training for all abilities this summer. Priced from US$99 for a half day course and from US$199 for a full day course.

Rappelling Ouray's waterfalls, credit Canyoning Colorado


Feel the Whitewater thrill: This summer, Colorado will debut two Whitewater rafting parks – Eagle River Park, a new world-class Whitewater park geared up for hosting competitions and events, which wraps along the Eagle River, and Poudre River Whitewater Park, which will include a boulder-lined boat chute, rock features, holes for kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, tubing and shallow play along the shore. For the more daring, Colorado’s only nationally designated Wild and Scenic River, the Cache la Poudre, carves down Poudre Canyon through narrow sections flanked by alpine mountains and natural rock cliffs west of Fort Collins. The triumph of paddling over a rapid named Devil’s Staircase is second only to the views and the chance to spot bighorn sheep and deer along its rocky hills.

Rafting the Cache la Poudre, credit Richard Haro


Scale the rocks on a Via Ferrata adventure: The excitement of climbing vertical canyon walls with amazing views makes for the ultimate Colorado adventure, with two new Via Ferrata locations in Cave of the Winds Mountain Park and Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, both accessible from Colorado Springs. A two-hour guided rock-climbing adventure at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park, is open from 24 May – 2 September for thrill-seeking visitors – including inexperienced climbers – to scale limestone cliffs and mountains that are miles above the canyon floor. The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park will also debut a new Via Ferrata along the granite walls of the Royal Gorge for Summer 2019, with mountain guide accompanied climbs starting from halfway down into the gorge.

Cave of the Winds Mountain Park introduces Via Ferrata, credit Visit Colorado Springs



Take a bike ride in Telluride: Locals will argue there’s no better way to see Telluride in the summer months than by bike, with dramatic vertical terrain and old mining roads leading to rugged mountain scenery and historic sites. New for June 2019, Telluride Ski Resort – partnering with Gravity Logic – will debut a new bike park in June 2019. The bike park will showcase miles of gravity-fed flow trails, sweeping turns and arching bridges. The terrain will include new freestyle trails and enhancements to the existing technical and cross-country trails.


Biking in Telluride, credit Visit Telluride


Summer is also the perfect time to ride the rails on a scenic rail journey, many being along the tracks first laid for the mining pioneers of the 1800s. Following the recent announcement of the Pikes Peak Cogway re-opening in 2021 – which has taken thousands of people to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak since it first opened in 1891 – we’ve rounded up Colorado’s top historical rail journeys that can take you back in time this summer:
Steam along with Brews, Views and Adventure on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

In continuous operation since 1882, the D&SNGRR was constructed to haul gold and silver from the San Juan Mountains and is estimated to have carried more than $300 million (USD) in precious metals over its history. Today, visitors can take a ride on a steam locomotive through spectacular canyons in the wilderness of the San Juan National Forest on the same tracks taken by the mining pioneers over a century ago. Full day excursions can be taken between May and October to and from the historic town of Silverton, with the option to extend a trip back in time with a stay at Silverton’s Grand Imperial Hotel. Adventure packages are also available, combining a historic steam train ride with a 4WD drive trip in the Colorado backcountry, a rafting trip on the Arkansas River or ziplining. To satisfy all senses, Summer Brew Trains, which blend Colorado craft beer with live music, steam through the mountains on select days between June and August.
Solve a Murder Mystery Aboard The Royal Gorge Route Railroad

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad is located in Cañon City and takes travellers on a scenic 2-hour train ride along what is considered to be the most famed portion of the former Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, described by President Theodore Roosevelt as “the trip that bankrupts the English language.” Special events are hosted on board throughout the year, including The Wine Express from 24 June – 8 August 2019, where visitors can marvel at the Royal Gorge views with a charcuterie board and four-wine flight tasting from Cañon City’s own Holy Cross Abbey Winery. The Murder Mystery Dinner takes place on selected dates between March and October, with different murders for travellers to solve each time, from the Murder in Buffalo Chip to the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.
Channel Indiana Jones on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad

A movie star in its own rights, featuring in 20 films and documentaries, such as Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade in 1989 and A Million Ways To Die In The West in 2014, theCumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad explores the unspoiled Western scenery of Colorado and New Mexico. The route takes passengers across the state border 11 times throughout its 64-miles, which are mostly off-grid with views into canyons, over ridges and wildflower-filled meadows that can’t be seen in any other way. Visitors can take full or half day trips aboard the narrow-gauge steam trains, with daily excursions from 25 May – 20 October 2019, or choose from a range of special events taking place throughout the summer, including a Geology Train, 4th of July Dinner Train, a Speakeasy Sunset Dinner Train and a Wildflower & Botany Train.
Experience Colorado’s Mining History on the Georgetown Loop Railroad

Opening for the season on 27 April 2019, the Georgetown Loop Railroad is located just 45 miles from Denver and takes passengers high into the Rocky Mountains. With a number of departures each day, visitors can combine their train journey with a hike, alternatively, mine tours and gold panning provide a fun throwback to Colorado’s mining days for the whole family.











Left: Royal Gorge Route Railroad, credit Matt Inden; Right: Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, credit Denise Chambers

Upcoming Events

Colorado has more than 300 festivals each year, with the summer schedule for 2019 delivering music and cultural experiences to attract all travellers. Highlights include:
The Red Rocks Summer Concert Season, Morrison (2019 line-up includes Grammy-winning Australian EDM Producer, FLUME; Snoop Dog; The 1975; Stevie Wonder; Norah Jones; Diana Ross; Weird Al Yankovich with the Colorado Symphony and more) April – September
Mountainfilm Festival, Telluride – 24-27 May
Denver Day of Rock, Denver – 25 May
Larimer Square’s Denver Chalk Art Festival, Denver – 1-2 June
FIBArk – America’s Oldest Whitewater Festival, Salida – 13-16 June
The first Boulder Beer Chase, Boulder – 15 June
Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Telluride – 20-23 June
Greeley Stampede, Greeley – 26 June-7 July
Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, Crested Butte – 5-9 July
Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, Steamboat Springs – 13-14 July












Clockwise from top left: Red Rocks Amphitheatre, credit Steve Crecelius; Denver Day of ROck, credit Visit Denver; Greeley Stampede, credit Colorado Tourism Office and Hot Air Balloon Rodeo, credit Noah Wetzel

So what’s new in Colorado for the 2019 summer season? Here’s just a sample:
  • A new Glenwood Gondola debuts this month at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, which will transport 1,000 guests per hour to and from the mountain-top theme park.
  • Cheyenne Mountain State Park’s Dixon Trail is now open to the public, after nearly a decade of planning. The trek to the top of Cheyenne Mountain navigates 914 metres elevation gain with a challenging upper section hike.
  • ColorRADo Adventure Hostel opens in Colorado Springs, the city’s first hostel.
  • Denver’s newest foodhall, Broadway Market, to open in Denver’s Golden Triangle Neighbourhood.
  • Mesa Verde National Park receives Rockefeller's Native American art treasures, including 115 works of art purchased from living artists during Rockefeller family trips in 1920s and 1930s.
  • The first ever Southwest Chief Bicycle and Comedy Festival follows the route of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief and will stop at the route’s center station in Trinidad, Colorado, 2 – 5 May.
  • Solar-powered backcountry lodging, Thelma Hut, is now open in the San Juan Mountains for off-grid adventurers.

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