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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

Monday, September 17, 2018

Five Tips to Enjoying Switzerland for First Timers






In order to help first-time travellers to Switzerland make the most of their stay, Switzerland Tourism has shared five hot tips.

Use the Swiss Travel Pass

The Swiss Travel Pass gives users unlimited access on all of country's public transportation including buses, trains and boats; up to 50% off mountain rail and cable ways and free access to more than 500 museums. Also, children under 16 years of age travel for free when accompanied by an adult using the pass.

One of the most incredible experiences one can have in Switzerland is to take in the sights via a panoramic train journey. For example, the Bernina Express goes from Chur to Tirano crossing 196 bridges and through 55 tunnels; the GoldenPass Line goes from Interlaken to Montreux; the Gotthard Panoramic Express links Lucerne with Ticino via a boat and train journey; and the Glacier Express is the world's slowest express train ride between Zermatt and St Moritz. Swiss Travel Passes come as e-tickets and can be purchased from www.myswitzerland.com/rail.

Take a Hike!
The Swiss love their nature surrounds and all sorts of outdoor activities, especially hiking. On any given day, be it spring, summer, autumn or winter, there will be locals hiking along the endless trails around the mountains, lakes, hills and pastures. To really get a sense of this local hobby and appreciate the natural assets of the country, a hike or walk will expose first time visitors to some of the most spectacular sights of the country that may otherwise be missed. There is more than 65,000 kilometres of waymarked trails across the country catering to all levels waiting to be explored.

Visit a Museum
In a country two-thirds the size of Tasmania (yes, Switzerland is pretty small), it's home to more than 900 museums! That's one museum per every 7,500 inhabitants. Luckily for Swiss Travel Pass holders, more than half of these museums are free to enter. Unlike many museums around the world, most of the Swiss museums are interactive, featuring the latest high-tech innovations that help to better engage with and educate their visitors. From art, history and textiles to sports, transportation and technology, there is a museum for everything. The most visited museum in the country is the Swiss Museum of Transport located on the shores of Lake Lucerne. Castles can also be accessed using the Swiss Travel Pass.

Keep it Local
Switzerland has four distinct languages regions serving up equally distinct flavours - Swiss German, French, Italian and Romansch; and even within these regions, dishes will vary between towns, cities and villages. That goes for cheeses and wines, too. The Emmental and Gruyeres cheeses, for example, come from two different language regions and feature very different textures and flavours. As with wines, most cantons produce their own wines, so accompanying any local traditional dish with some local drops will give one the full experience. Apart from these top restaurant picks, Taste my Swiss City, a series of foodie trails designed by locals, is the latest initiative that will suit the urban explorer.

Know When to Visit a Mountain
Visiting a mountain peak might be a must-do, but knowing when to go is key. The best time to ascend any mountain is early in the day preferably by mid-morning, before clouds form obstructing the views.

The highest mountain railway in Europe is the Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe at 3,454m asl, accessible via Interlaken and Kleine Scheidegg. Mt Titlis, home to Europe's longest suspension bridge and the country's largest igloo village (only available in winter) sits at 3,062m asl and is accessible via Lucerne and Engelberg on the world's first rotating cable car, the Titlis Rotair. And over in Zermatt, getting up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise which is home to Europe's highest cable car station at 3,883m asl takes 45mins in the cable car.

For more information on Switzerland, visit www.myswitzerland





Sunday, September 2, 2018

English Earl wrote off six Jaguars






David Ellis

CLASSIC car buffs in the UK are eagerly waiting to see what will be paid for an "ultra-rare" 1966 Jaguar E-type when it goes to auction in mid-October.

Because it is one of just three E-types to feature a unique "quad headlamp, shark gill bonnet" created by Abbey Panels that specialises in premium car body re-panelling for well-heeled bespoke customers, plus it also has a competition-capability engine and racing wheels as well.

And more bizarrely, it is the only remaining E-type of no fewer than seven owned by the Sixth Earl of Cawdor, who unbelievably crashed and wrote-off every one of the other six.

Which was such a good effort that His Lordship's daughter, Lady Liza Campbell wrote of it in her autobiography 'A Charmed Life: Growing up in Macbeth's Castle,' a book in which she told of living with her father in Scotland's Cawdor Castle, the centuries-old family seat of the Campbell's and which featured in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

And of how her father "fuelled by drink, drugs and extramarital affairs after being overwhelmed by the enormous responsibilities associated with owning and running Cawdor Castle," managed to write-off those six Jaguars - and yet miraculously survive all half-dozen prangs.

"Pa typically crashed at night, after dinner," she wrote. "His philosophy being that obeying a red light after midnight was a waste of precious time.

"And instead of spotting any correlation between drinking and the crashes, my father came to an altogether different conclusion: That E-types were rubbish. and after the seventh crash he took to driving Ferraris."

His family had that last E-type repaired after his death in 1992, and eventually sold it in 2003.

Now those circa-2003 buyers are putting it to sale again on October 17 through H&H Classics Auctions, with expectations that with its colourful history, it could fetch up to 50,000 British pounds (around AU$88,000.)

PHOTO CAPTION:

[] THE only remaining Jaguar E-Type of no fewer than seven owned by the late Sixth Earl of Cawdor - who crashed and wrote-off all other six - will go to auction on October 17. (Image: H&H Classic Auctions)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Popular Vegan locations around the world


TOP 5 COUNTRIES FOR TRAVELLING IF YOU'RE VEGAN

Veganism is growing in popularity, and if you're new to the dietary movement, it can be a scary prospect for when you're travelling.

Trying to find delicious, nutritious and easy vegan food can be a struggle at the best of times. Add in a totally different culture, new language and different cuisine and it can be enough to make anyone want to pack their passport away and stay at home.

Exodus Travels is passionate about exploring the world in a way you've never seen before – this means immersing into cultures and experiences that are true to the region you're discovering. Thankfully, a lot of countries have been borne on vegan and vegetarian fundamentals, which means travelling and exploring these regions is a breeze.

Here are our top vegan destinations:

INDIA

Even though all these spots are great for vegans, India takes out the number one spot with flying colours. With more than 500 million people (nearly half the population!) being vegetarian, it's no wonder the region is a bustling hotspot for vegetarian and vegan travelers. Get your fill of spicy rice dishes and mouthwatering curries, or snack away on dosas as you make your way through tiger safaris, Taj tours and cycling through Kerala. India's cuisine is naturally gluten-free and packed with lentils, chickpeas and rice. Which makes India easy and tasty for celiac travelers to indulge in the food scene.

Discover Highlights of Northern India – 9 days from $1,285

THAILAND

From quick street food to world-class restaurants, there are plenty of Thai vegan options for any budget. While Thai food abroad is very different to Thai food at home, you can still get wonderful options that are sure to whet the palate.  In Thailand the local language is your friend - ensure you learn the words 'jay' for vegan and 'mangarawirat' for vegetarian. Thai dishes like phad thai phak (fried noodles with vegetables) will keep you going between temple-hopping and jungle safaris.

Explore the north and south of Thailand – 14 days from $2,405

BALI

What is best known as a paradise for honeymooners, beach lovers and adventurers alike, Bali is also the home to some of the best vegan food you'll find abroad. The whole island has a very strong plant-based diet, so you'll find yourself in an abundance of scrambled tofu, hummus, smoothie bowls and tempeh at every turn. We're even seeing a trend of local chef-created, mouth-watering cashew cheese! Perfect with a chilled glass of rosé if we do say so ourselves.

Try our Bali Coast to Coast tour – 13 days from $2,195

COSTA RICA

Costa Ricans are known for their healthy, all-natural lifestyle. So it is no surprise that Costa Rica is a haven for vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free eaters alike. Traditional dishes consist of rice, plantains, beans, fruit and veggies. This means that anyone and everyone can enjoy the local flavor. Costa Rica is a mecca for gut health gurus from around the world. You'll find plenty of restaurants specializing in a vast mix of cuisines, all vegan-friendly.

Enjoy your days surfing on iconic beaches, soaking in thermal baths or trekking through the Costa Rican rainforest. Then hit the local markets and restaurants worry-free.

Discover the natural highlights of Costa Rica – 8 days from $1,935



Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Safari glamping comes to the Barossa



Roderick Eime

You've seen them in the high-end African safari camps and the remote Australian eco-outposts, but now you can enjoy a 'safari' glamping experience right in the middle of South Australia's Barossa Valley – albeit without the megafauna.

Discovery Parks – Barossa have just launched their own mini safari camp in a secluded section of their Tanunda park. The private enclave within the park contains 12 eco-friendly safari tents set 'outback style' among mature native redgums. These are no 'pole and peg' tents either. Steel framed and wrapped in galeproof tarpaulin, they are permanent, sturdy structures.

The central firepit is a natural meeting point in the common 'hub', adjacent a resort-style lap pool and undercover picnic and BBQ area with dedicated equipment.



When Vacations visited, we were quite likely the first guests in our tent, already pre-warmed with reverse cycle air conditioning against the brisk mid-winter weather. Inside there is a couch, occasional table and narrow sideboard. Meals are best enjoyed on the covered patio where there are folding director chairs and a sturdy wooden table.

There's a full hotel-style bathroom with quality amenities and a decent galley kitchen to prepare your own meals complete with microwave, fridge and all the utensils. At the moment the tents are without TVs (and may well stay that way) and are best suited to singles, twin share or couples. The expansive park has numerous quality accommodation options for families and those seeking more modest digs.

So while you're daydreaming about your African safari experience, whet your appetite at this authentic 'glampsite' just a short walk from Tanunda's main street.

For more information and to book visit www.discoveryparks.com.au or call 1800 356 801.

What’s for lunch?



Even in the Barossa Valley, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better lunch spot than Elli Beer’s new ‘the eatery’ located in her mum’s ‘The Farm’ on Pheasant Farm Road at Nuriootpa.

Opened last October, Elli has teamed with and renowned chef Tim Bourke, formerly of Kangaroo Island’s Southern Ocean Lodge, to create a bright new dining experience in what was the function centre.

Tim’s daily menu derives from his favoured charcoal grill and is open for lunchtimes only, 7 days a week. There’s a wood-fired oven on the decking turning out super pizzas too. Plus you can book a private dining experience for up to 24 guests with an ever-changing ‘Feed Me’ menu.

Get stuck in!

Pheasant Farm Road Nuriootpa 5355
Monday - Sunday: 12 pm - 3 pm
tel:+61885621902

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Brief history of Seattle


SEATTLE HISTORY:

FROM TALL TIMBER TO HIGH TECH

What might have happened if Seattle had retained the original name bestowed by its first pioneers, "New York - Alki?" Would we now be nicknamed "The Little Apple" instead of the "Emerald City?"

The little party of pioneers from Illinois who landed on Alki Point on a cold and rainy November 13, 1851 had thought to bestow lofty ambitions on their tiny community of log cabins when they named it after New York. They soon changed the name to Seattle, after the local Indian Chief Sealth, and moved it to its present location on the deep waters of Elliott Bay.

British Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver had explored Puget Sound more than a half-century earlier when he sailed to its farthest reaches aboard the sloop H.M.S. Discovery. Giving just about everything in sight an English name (Mt. Rainier, for example), Vancouver honored many of his friends and paid many a political debt.

During the last half of the 19th century, the soggy little city on Puget Sound gradually grew beyond its tide flats waterfront and its mud streets to become a major port of call for ships plying the Pacific Coast. The surrounding hills and islands furnished thousands of shiploads of lumber for a growing San Francisco and the California gold mines. The term "skid road," meaning an unsavory part of town, originated in Seattle from the route (Yesler Way) down which logs were skidded from the hills to the waterfront.

Looking west on Mill Street (Yesler Way) from Second Ave.
The Occidental Hotel is on the right and beyond it, Yesler’s Mill with the smokestack.


South of the road, brothels and saloons thrived; the respectable part of town began north of the road. The Northern Pacific Railroad was completed to Tacoma in 1887, connecting Puget Sound to the East. The competing Great Northern Railroad arrived in Seattle five years later.

In 1889 a disastrous fire burned most of the city to the ground. Seizing the opportunity for urban renewal, city engineers raised downtown streets several feet above the high tide level, leaving intact store fronts below street level. Today's Underground Tour explores these old ruins.

The arrival of the steamer Portland in 1897 with a "ton of gold" from the Klondike signaled Seattle's metamorphosis from grubby little waterfront town to primary commercial, shipping and marketing center of the Pacific Northwest it is today. The city served as outfitter, ship builder and transshipment port for the thousands of prospectors and millions of tons of goods heading north to the gold rush.

Seattle hosted the first of several world's fairs held in the Pacific Northwest when the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exhibition opened in 1909. Much of the present campus of the University of Washington is a legacy of that event.

During the next three decades, strikes, labor unrest and a strong union movement kept Seattle in the national news.

With the advent of World War II, Seattle boomed, as did most cities in the U.S. Puget Sound became a major naval base; tens of thousands of troops received their training at nearby Fort Lewis and shipped overseas from Seattle's waterfront. The Boeing Company, a small airplane manufacturer founded in 1910, grew to become the primary manufacturer of heavy bombers flown by the U.S. Army Air Force, the B-17 and B-29. The Museum of Flight, part of which is housed in the original Boeing factory building, traces this story.

Boeing figured prominently in the post-war era, introducing America's first passenger jet (the 707) to commercial aviation in 1959. By 1957 The Boeing Company and its suppliers accounted for nearly half of all the jobs in King County. In the 1960s the company gained its leadership as the world's leading manufacturer of commercial jet aircraft, a lead it still holds.

Famous monorail, built for the world's fair (R Eime)

The 1962 Seattle World's Fair signaled a renaissance in the Pacific Northwest that saw it emerge as a major tourist destination and one of the country's most livable cities. The economy changed as well. Forestry, fisheries and agriculture gradually declined in importance while computer software manufacturers, bio-medical industries, and aerospace came to dominate the economy. With its proximity to the Pacific Rim, extensive port facilities, high-tech and communications industries and educational institutions, Seattle has assumed the role of a primary participant in the trade and commerce with Asia that will lead the economy into the 21st century.

Supplied by Visit Seattle

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Great Migration - what you need to know



There is any number of amazing sights and attractions to see and do on an African safari, but witnessing the Great Migration is usually high on most travellers' wish lists.

And this is hardly a surprise. The Great Migration is undoubtedly one of Nature's most unforgettable spectacles: 1.5 million wildebeest accompanied by 200,000 or so zebras engaged in a never-ending journey, following the rains in a circular 1,200-mile route, through a wilderness that takes in the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and Kenya's Masai Mara Game Reserve.

For anyone thinking of undertaking an African safari to Tanzania or Kenya, a luxury boutique safari operator has put together a quick checklist of everything you need to know about the Great Migration to make you get the most out of your trip.

What is the Great Migration?

First of all, it's important to understand that the Great Migration is an on-going event, which doesn't ever really end. Basically, it's a circular grazing path determined by the availability of food. Literally, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra start in Tanzania's Serengeti in January where they give birth to their young. The grass is still short in this part of the Serengeti, making it safer for the new-borns to stay protected from lurking predators. As the rains end, the herds start to move westwards, following the rivers on their way to the Masai Mara in Kenya. In summer they finally arrive, crossing crocodile-infested rivers to get there. And in the late autumn and winter, the herds move back towards the Serengeti, chasing the rainy season, and the process begins again. In essence, it's a year-long search for food, water and safety, and there are countless opportunities for safari-goers to witness all the beauty and drama along the way.

The Wildlife

The major players on the Great Migration are undoubtedly the wildebeest, almost 1.5 million of them. And if you head out on safari in the first few months of the year, you'll be guaranteed to see an awful lot of them.

Travelling alongside the wildebeest are hundreds of thousands of zebra. And it turns out there's a very good reason for this: zebra eat the longer grasses leaving wildebeest the shorter grasses, which they prefer. Zebra are also helpful in remembering the course of the Migration, and keep a look out for hungry river predators. Wildebeest return the favour by employing their incredible sense of smell to locate water sources almost every day of the Migration. But of course, there's plenty other game to see as well including gazelles, elephants, lions, leopards and cheetah – all part of the migratory entourage.

So, if you go on safari during the Great Migration, as well as witnessing this incredible natural wonder, expect to see all of the animals typical to the African savannah.

The best way to see the Great Migration

One commonly held misconception is that all the wildebeests and zebras migrate together at the same time. Clearly given the huge numbers of creatures involved, the reality is quite different.

One of the best ways to see the Great Migration is from the safety of a safari vehicle. And depending on the time of year, expect to stop and watch as hundreds, if not thousands, of animals run across the road, spurred by a primal need to move and eat. But to fully appreciate the immense scale of the Migration it's hard to beat a hot air balloon ride at dawn across the Serengeti, with endless herds of migratory wildebeest and zebra spread out below as far as the eye can see.

Lodges and Camps

Another important element that can really elevate any safari experience is where you spend the night. So much more than just a place to lay your head, tented camps and lodges are an integral part of any safari. Stay at one of the remarkable properties located in some of the most beautiful and remote parts of Tanzania and Kenya, which make an ideal base from which to explore the local wildlife and to observe the Great Migration at close range. One of these, Sanctuary Kichakani Migration Camp, is a special mobile-tented camp devoted entirely to the Great Migration, which moves as the herds move, transitioning from the Western to the Northern and finally the Southern part of the Serengeti throughout the year. This means that you won't miss anything, no matter what time of year you choose to travel.


Main pic: Shripal Daphtary @shripald 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Grab a mini-break in tropical Port Douglas





Don’t want to burn all your annual leave in one go? Head to tropical Port Douglas for a short refresher. It’s a breeze.

Words: Sonia Lal
Images: as supplied


The inflatable yellow raft bobs excitedly in the water beside me while my hand firmly grips the rope handle on the front, ensuring it won’t slip away and escape down the rapids. Just an hour ago I was stepping out of an airliner onto the hot Cairns tarmac. Now I am in a full body wetsuit knee-deep in the Mossman River of Port Douglas.

Our group of six are embarking on a river-drift snorkelling adventure in the Mossman River, situated beneath the Mossman Gorge. The freshwater river is so pure, our guides Glen and Will inform us, is so pure it can be drunk. In fact, they encourage it.

Mossman River drift snorkel

Zig-zagging down rapids and snorkelling when the water is calmer is how we spend the next three hours. Translucent fish the size of my thumb swim in large schools beneath the surface and large rocks cover the river bed.

When the water is tranquil our rafts transform into makeshift lounges and we sit atop them, our legs dangling over the edge as we let the current lead us down the river.

During these serene moments, Glen and Will relate the history of the vegetation surrounding the river. The trees, ferns, and other plant species, we’re told, date back to Gondwanaland and are believed to be around 300 million years old. With the pride in their voices and the knowledge they possess about the ecosystem, it’s clear no two other people could love the Mossman River as much as they do.

It’s as if we are floating through prehistoric times.

To the Outer Reef


Aqua Quest on the outer reef

The AquaQuest lurches in the swell as it makes its way towards the outer perimeter of the Great Barrier Reef. Many of us are sitting outside on the upper deck in the hope of warding off seasickness and the fresh air proves helpful for some..

The rocky two and a half hour journey across the Coral Sea comes to an end at the first dive site - St. Crispin’s - and any thoughts of seasickness are quickly forgotten as excitement fills us.

“All divers to the bottom deck please!”

That’s our call and all introductory divers, including me, make our way down to the bottom deck. The much-anticipated descent to the Great Barrier Reef is about to begin.

Our instructor, Kai, gives us an in-depth safety briefing and talks us through the use of our scuba equipment. Sundresses and board shorts are quickly swapped out for wetsuits, weight belts and tanks. I find my tank a bit heavier than expected, but what did I expect? This is my first scuba dive and we all wobble comically, laughing nervously as we attempt to get to our feet.

Diving underwater for the first time can be frightening and some our group get a bit panicky the second our heads go beneath the surface. After several practice goes, we’ve overcome the instinct to rush back to the surface and breathing underwater becomes slightly less terrifying. Kai assesses us individually and gives us the thumbs up (down actually, which means, ‘let’s dive’).


Diving on the outer reef with Divers Den

Initially, the water is murky, thanks to recent storms, and not much can be seen. However, at three metres and below visibility improves and we begin to see coral in pastel hues of green, yellow and purple. The coral isn’t as bright as you see in the brochures, but Kai says that this is actually a good sign because when coral is stressed it releases algae, which causes it to become brighter in colour. So, the slightly subdued colours we see indicate a healthy reef.

Tiny bright blue damselfish skirt past us while clownfish weave in and out of the coral and rock hollows. A large cod glides inches above the ocean floor and not far behind it is a wrasse, distinguishable by its trademark thick lips. Schools of zebra-striped surgeon fish flit by and disappear further down along the reef. The marine life of the Great Barrier Reef is on full display.

Once back in the boat we remove the heavy diving gear and Kai starts to tell the story of how this dive site got the nickname Gone Again. It is a homage to the American couple who went missing in 1998 in the very same waters we’d just emerged from. We turned to each, mouths agape, glad he hadn’t mentioned this before.

To market, to market

Port Douglas Markets License (Flickr user variationblogr)

On our third day in Port Douglas the sun had definitely come out to play and the temperature nudged 30 degrees. After a magnificent tropical breakfast at the Sheraton Mirage Hotel, it was time to visit the Port Douglas Markets.

These markets are renown for their wide variety of fresh produce and that is exactly what immediately greets us. Colourful stalls are filled with bargain-priced fresh fruits and vegetables like avocados at just $4 a bag as well as more exotic foods like flavoured coconut chips, vanilla bean and cacao ice-cream, and pomegranate teas - all there for anyone with slightly more adventurous taste buds.

Food, however, isn’t the only feature of the markets. Stalls displaying all sorts of peculiar trinkets and salves like ‘magic’ crystals, crocodile facial oil, handmade ukuleles, pom-pom earrings, conical rainbow candles and silver turtle rings are there to tempt eclectic tastes.

When the adventure is done, spending some relaxing time at the markets is the perfect way to wind down a wondrous and thrill-packed weekend in Port Douglas. Easy does it.


FACT BOX

All these activities and more can be booked at:
www.visitportdouglasdaintree.com
or phone 07 4099 4588

Shortlink: https://rodei.me/TPDD

TAGS: Great Barrier Reef Drive #GBRDrive | Tropical North Queensland @tropicalnorthqueensland
#exploreTNQ | Queensland @visitqueensland #thisisqueensland | Australia @Australia
#seeaustralia

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Shennongjia Natural Reserve – China’s spectacular wilderness




As the world's most populous country, you may be forgiven for thinking that truly wild China no longer exists. However, you'd be wrong.

Just north of the Yangtze River lays the Shennongjia Natural Reserve – one of China's most spectacular and dramatic wilderness areas, which has inspired myths and legends for centuries.

Mingled in amongst the primeval forest that makes up much of Shennongjia are dense swathes of bamboo, creeping vines, and an assortment of shrubs, flowers and fruits. This thick covering of vegetation has made some areas completely inaccessible, and it is this inaccessibility that has protected the area from significant human development and destruction. It has also helped the region retain an element of mystery – especially surrounding China's 'Wild Man'.

Known locally as Yeren, various sightings of China's answer to Bigfoot have been recorded for over 2,000 years, and still continue today. This red-haired ape-man is said to stand well over six feet tall, living in the caves that scatter Shennongjia's rocky landscape, and coming down from the mountains only to feast on local villagers' dogs and chickens.

Despite numerous expeditions to the region, China's Wild Man has yet to be found. And the question of whether he really exists is one which has captivated the hearts and minds of adventurous Chinese travellers for generations.

Today the Reserve is becoming increasingly popular with Western visitors too. However, they come with the hope of catching a glimpse of something else entirely – the golden snub-nosed monkey. Known for their thick, golden fur and appealing bright blue faces, these unique and charming creatures are undoubtedly Shennongjia's star attractions. They are also one of China's greatest conservation stories, with the population having more than doubled in recent years.

Visitors can watch entire family troops swinging through the canopies overhead or visit the Golden Monkey Protection and Research Base to get up close and personal with these enigmatic primates.

Along with the golden snub-nosed monkeys, the area is home to an astonishing array of other protected wildlife including macaques, golden eagles, deer, and black bear. The Reserve is also famous for its unusually high percentage of albino animals, and there are even plans to relocate panda to the region.




Whether you're hoping to be the first to capture the Yeren on camera, or simply want to spend time hiking through this primeval wonderland, a trip to Shennongjia will not disappoint. This year for the first time, Sanctuary Retreats will be running three special 4-night sailings in July aboard the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer, which will include a day trip to Shennongjia Natural Reserve.

The elegant riverboat sets the standard for luxury cruising in China, with strong environmental commitments. Friendly and intimate, onboard service is a highlight with an atmosphere more private club than cruise ship.

Occupying four decks, the ship boasts the largest and best-appointed cabins on the river. Each has floor to ceiling picture windows, private balconies and ensuite bathroom. Dining is also a delight, with a team of internationally trained chefs delivering innovative à la carte menus featuring the finest of Chinese and continental cuisine.

China Tours


 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Samoa’s only island resort, in honour of a legend



Words Roderick Eime

If you look on Google Earth, you may still see the empty little island a few hundred metres from Apia’s deepwater port, just sitting there waiting for something to happen.

Well, wait no more, because that tiny oasis not much bigger than a football field, now plays host to arguably the most modern, contemporary resort in Apia, perhaps even Samoa.

Named after the legendary Polynesian beauty, Sina, the resort grew from the sand much like the famous coconut trees of the timeless folktale.

Taumeasina (Landing place of Sina) Island Resort opened in 2016 and has continued to grow in reputation and popularity and has already risen to number 3 on TripAdvisor’s list of top traveller-ranked hotels in Apia. The resort has also won the Samoa tourism excellence and best hygiene awards as bestowed by the Samoa Tourism Authority.

Close to the port and some of the waterfront nightspots, it’s still remote enough to be private and away from the downtown hubbub, just a five-minute drive away across the resort’s dedicated causeway.

With 80 hotel rooms and a mix of two and three bedroom self-contained villas on an island, Taumeasina Island Resort is the only resort of its type in Samoa and brings a new level of 4.5-star sophistication to Apia.



Beyond the swish accommodations, there is ample scope for meetings and conferences as well as weddings or private functions for up to 800 guests or delegates. There are smaller breakout rooms for board meetings and committees plus an outdoor wedding venue, delightfully located overlooking the ocean and also ideal for stunning evening events.

When it’s time to relax, swim in the waterfront pool in between cocktails, or indulge in a treatment or session at Fofo Spa & Sauna. The Spa uses both locally made Mailelani Samoa and the world's leader in professional marine cosmetics; Thalgo.

If you’re feeling a bit more energetic, or want to burn some calories, hit it out on the tennis court or the gym. There’s even an outdoor exercise circuit with gym equipment stationed around Taumeasina Island.

Dining can be either casual or formal depending on your mood or occasion. Lapita's Restaurant serves both continental and cooked breakfast, café style lunches and dinner in a casual dining atmosphere. There’s live entertainment every night and a themed buffet depending on demand. You can catch Taumeasina's famous Fia Fia night every week in this venue.

Sina’s Restaurant, on the other hand, is where Executive Chef, Bradley Martin loves to show off. Martin began as a kitchen hand 35 years ago and worked all over Australia, at numerous Hilton, Sheraton and Novotel hotels. Diners can choose either indoor or out from the seasonal menu featuring both traditional Samoan and internationally inspired cuisines.


Taumeasina Island Resort
Taumeasina Island
Beach Road, Apia
Samoa

Phone: +685 61000
Email: Info@taumeasinaislandresortsamoa.com
www.taumeasinaislandresortsamoa.com

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Wildlife spotting: Africa's Big Five


Tips for the best places to see them.

African safaris are usually top of most people's bucket list when it comes to wildlife viewing. Its multitude of national parks, reserves and conservation areas number amongst some of the most beautiful places on the planet and are home to an astonishing variety of wild animals, ensuring that a wildlife safari will undoubtedly be a major highlight of your trip.

And with so many exciting wildlife experiences to be had at in different destinations and indeed, different times of the year, any visit to Africa is guaranteed to be full of close encounters of the animal kind. But for many travellers, coming face to face with Africa's 'Big Five' – lion, leopard, elephant, black rhinoceros, and African buffalo, remains the pinnacle wildlife experience.

Originally a term coined by big-game hunters to describe the five most difficult African species to track and hunt on foot, today a 'hunt' for the Big Five is typically with camera and binoculars only.

But where are the best places to see them? Well, while animal viewing possibilities abound, the reality is there's no guarantee you'll see each one while on safari. Knowing animals' habits – as well as where to stay and what to do while on safari – will greatly increase your chance of success. Expert suggestions for where visitors to Africa are most likely to tick off their Big Five wish list.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

First on the list is the inspirational Serengeti, a classic Tanzania safari destination and one of only a handful with populations of all five species.

Lying in a high plateau between the Ngorongoro highlands in northern Tanzania and the Masai Mara Reserve in neighboring Kenya, Serengeti National Park is considered one of the best places for safari for one very specific reason – the Great Migration. This annual event sees hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra pass through the park in search of food – and with the herds of grazers, come the predators. One of the best times to visit the park is in May when the grass becomes dry and exhausted and the wildebeest and zebra start to mass in huge armies offering a spectacular wildlife show.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Next up, is the Ngorongoro Crater, another classic Tanzania safari destination. The breath-taking Ngorongoro Crater is a geographical wonder in its own right, with the caldera's high, steep walls looming steeply over the valley below. And it's these steep walls that also lead to the incredible abundance of wildlife in the crater, as they trap a rich assortment of large and small safari animals within.

With two rainy seasons – the long rains fall in April and May (into early June) and the short rains fall in October and November, the best times to visit are December, January, February or late June through to early October.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

With a well-deserved reputation as one of the best all-round safari destinations, the Okavango Delta forms part of the Kalahari Basin, situated at the southern periphery of the Great Rift Valley, and covers a massive 22,000 square kilometres. Although the periphery is semi-arid, the Okavango Delta itself is a patchwork of cool clear streams, lagoons, floodplains and forested islands.

Covering almost a third of the entire Okavango Delta, the Moremi Game Reserve comprises a diverse habitat where the desert and delta meet, comprising forests, lagoons, floodplains, pans and woodlands. Because of its unique terrain, the area contains the full spectrum of game and birdlife including all of the Big Five, as well as cheetahs, hippos and crocodiles and plenty of bird life, and offering up superb game viewing.

Moremi is best visited during the dry season, from July to October, when seasonal pans dry up and vast numbers of wildlife flock to where the floodwaters infiltrate the Delta, providing one of the world's most spectacular sights. June to August is peak season for most safari areas within the Okavango. But September and October when temperatures really start to climb, leads to even higher concentrations of game around the few available water sources.

Masai Mara, Kenya

The final destination on Sanctuary Retreats' list is Kenya's most popular game park, the Masai Mara. The Kenyan extension of the Tanzania's famed Serengeti, the Mara is one of Africa's most famous safari destinations and also plays host to the famous Great Migration. Considered the birthplace of safari, Kenya offers up amazing game viewing experiences, not to mention plenty of opportunities to experience Africa's Big Five.

The migration is usually present in the Mara between July and October each year. During this time, dramatic river crossings are the order of the day, with crocodiles lying in wait for wildebeest and zebra.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

New foodie trails for Autumn in regional Victoria


Vineyards come to life in Victoria
As the leaves of the trees begin to take on Autumnal hues, regional Victoria’s culinary hotspots offer up exciting new flavours of the season. Award-winning food writer Dani Valent has created a series of food trails around Victoria, especially for gourmands.

These self-guided road trips take in the hidden foodie gems of Australia’s most exciting culinary region.

Beechworth Bounty

Lunch at Provenance, a visit to the Beechworth Honey Shop and afternoon delights at the Moments and Memories Tea Rooms before stops at two breweries and Pennyweight Winery.

Bellarine by Mouth

Enjoy mussels caught that morning, delicious goats cheese and hand-picked berries all before a crisp cider at Flying Brick and a glass of wine from the cellar doors of Scotchmans Hill and Jack Rabbit.

Bendigo Feast

Journey through the streets and laneways of this historic city before tasting the delectable treats of Masons of Bendigo, Mr Beebe’s Eating House & Bar, El Gordo and The Woodhouse, among others.

Daylesford Wander

Wombat Hill House, a café among the trees at the Botanic Gardens, launches a walking trail that captures fine food, wine and whiskey, with visitors encouraged to consider the Farmer’s Market on the first Saturday of the month.

Geelong Jaunt

From the waterfront to the heart of the city centre, the day begins with coffee and seafood by the pier before visits to hip bars and cafés as you approach the famed Little Creatures Brewery in the south of Geelong.

Gippsland Dairy Trail

Cheese, cheese, a glass of wine, and more cheese. This is a trail for lovers of all things brie, camembert and blue, as they meander through the region famous for its creamy and aged delights.

Goldfields Gulp

Wood-fired pizza by the fire at Mount Buninyong is followed by brewery and winery experiences that will tantalise the tastebuds. Gin comes to life at Kilderkin Distillery and consider an overnight journey by breaking up this adventure with accommodation at Captains Creek.

Great Ocean Road Bite

From Torquay to Apollo Bay, this coastal extravaganza takes wanderers to Blackman’s Brewery, Bellbrae Estate, Captain Moonlite, a la grecque, IPSOS, Wye General Store, Chris’ Beacon Point and the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse.

King Valley Drive, Bike and Taste

Journey by bike and by car as the very best Italian hospitality comes to life at Chrismont, Pizzini Wines and Dal Zotto Vines, the latter a pioneer of Italian varietals in Victoria. Smoky ribs await at Gamze Smokehouse before a cheeseboard at Milawa.

Kyneton Crawl

Get ready for gluttony. This trail is only one kilometre long, but it packs a punch as you dine-out on something sweet, French bistro fares, wood-fired pizza and locally produced charcuterie.

Mornington Peninsula Meander

Jackalope, Pt. Leo Estate, Gourmet Paddock, Foxeys Hangout and St Andrews Beach Brewery, it’s the very best of both sides of the peninsula as travellers make your way from coast-to-coast

Yarra Valley Small Wineries

Experience the boutique wonders of the Yarra Vallery as you traverse through Payne's Rise Wine, Brumfield Winery, Five Oaks Vineyard, Elmswood Estate, Morgan Vineyards, Killara Estate, Badger's Brook Winery, Soumah of Yarra Valley and Boat O'Craigo

Not done yet?

Consider a food trail in Melbourne’s city centre, with one-day experiences in Richmond and St Kilda complemented by opportunities for those that love after dark adventures.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Foods, Festivals and Facelifts



News Tidbits from the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory is set to turbo-charge its way into 2018 with an unprecedented $103 million investment to increase visitation; to stimulate the Territory economy by accelerating infrastructure and tourism experience development including the implementation of a Visitor Experience Enhancement Program which will provide grant funding for existing infrastructure and tourism businesses.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ten Tips for Canada Travels in 2018



With Australian visitation to Canada rising exponentially each year, more Aussies than ever are expected to make 2018 the year they explore this diverse North American country. Read on for our top ten tips for planning bucket-list adventures in Canada this year.
  • Don't be fooled by unauthorised websites when you apply for your electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA). Use the official website to register for an eTA at a cost of $7 CAD. Beware of 'scam' websites charging up to $122 USD for the application. Australian citizens require an electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) before flying to Canada.
  • Peak tourist months in Canada are July and August, when flights and accommodation are more expensive. Consider travelling outside peak season during autumn for spectacular foliage in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, or winter and early spring for the ultimate winter wonderland.
  • Heading to Whistler? Make sure you experience the epic Peak 2 Peak Gondola and the new Peak Suspension Bridge, the tallest in North America, for mind-blowing panoramic views in every season. If you're there during winter, spend a day skiing or snowboarding with an Olympian, learning expert techniques, and hearing their stories of success. 
  • Head to the Maritime province of New Brunswick to witness the highest tides in the world at the incredible Bay of Fundy. Walk the ocean floor during low tide at the Hopewell Rocks or abseil down cliffs into the bay at Cape Enrage. Jump on a zodiac with Red Rock Adventure for a memorable Fundy Trail Tour, where you'll explore the longest stretch of coastal wilderness on the eastern seaboard, meeting seals and porpoises along the way.
  • For a true 'bragging rights' experience, road trippers can now drive the road made famous through the Ice Road Truckers television series. The 137-kilometre Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road, two hours from Inuvik in Canada's Northwest Territories, forms part of the famous Dempster Highway, allowing travellers to drive all the way from Whitehorse, in Yukon Territory, to the Arctic Circle in Northwest Territories on a sealed bitumen road, rather than sheets of ice!
  • Discover Banff Tours is now offering small group tours taking travellers from Vancouver to Banff and vice versa. This is a great option for those who catch the Rocky Mountaineer one way and would prefer to drive back rather than fly. It's also ideal for those wishing to explore the Rockies by road. The tour includes lunch in Revelstoke and accommodation at the Plaza Hotel in Kamloops. 
  • Who wants to stay in a conventional hotel when you can bed down in a house boat? From May 2018, visitors to Canada's capital city of Ottawa in Ontario can cruise the Rideau Canal on a state-of-the-art Horizon cruiser by Le Boat. Glide effortlessly through the charming downtown precinct, enjoying tranquil views of Parliament Hill the rolling green banks.
  • EdgeWalk at the CN Tower in Toronto holds the Guinness World Record for the “Highest External Walk on a Building” at 116 storeys high. This is an epic bucket-list attraction for thrill-seekers.
  • Visiting the east coast during summer? Get to know the salt-of-the-earth characters of Newfoundland and Labrador during the George Street Festivalfrom 26 July - 1 August 2018. George Street has been a magnet for musicians for decades and is famous for comprising two blocks of bars, pubs, restaurants – and nothing else.
  • If you're travelling to the US east coast, consider a road trip to Quebec. Make the 500-kilometre journey from Boston to Montreal via the picturesque Eastern Townships for an authentic French-Canadian experience. We're talking sparkling lakes, wineries, and chocolatiers, where the welcoming locals speak their native French.

GETTING THERE

Air Canada offers daily direct flights to Vancouver from Sydney and Brisbane. Additionally, Air Canada will commence year-round direct flights from Melbourne to Vancouver from June 2018. Direct flights from Sydney to Vancouver are also available on Qantas.

www.keepexploring.com.au

Thursday, February 1, 2018

How to rub shoulders with Manitoba's famous residents



They're dazzling, beautiful and permanently trending on social media.

Manitoba's famous inhabitants are household names, attracting travellers from around the world whose greatest desire is to merely stand in their presence.

Read on for the inside scoop on where to find seven of these wild celebrities. 

Polar bear: best viewing time July to November

Should you ever come face to face with these Arctic royals, you may wish to curtsy – and then back away quickly. In Churchill, you can safely view the largest land carnivore in the world from a tundra vehicle or from a fenced wilderness lodge. You can even walk among them with a guide or see them from on high during a helicopter tour.

Bison: year-round

Perhaps Manitoba's most iconic resident celebrity, the bison reflects the province's First Nations' heritage, still as relevant today as it ever was. These majestic beasts are the largest mammal in North America and can run up to 60 kilometres an hour. Riding Mountain National Park and FortWhyte Alive are ideal locations for a personal encounter with these famous giants. 

Belugas
Belugas: July – August

Hearing the beluga whales sing their sweet 'canary' chirps and whistles is a spine-tingling moment. Thousands of white beluga whales congregate each summer in the mouths of the northern Churchill and Seal Rivers that empty into Hudson Bay. Jump in a zodiac for a closer look. Better still? Swim with the belugas! They're among the friendliest of whales and are just as curious about people as you are about them. 

Canada lynx: year-round

In Riding Mountain National Park cat-lovers might just be lucky enough to spy the elusive Canada lynx. Warning – these guys are paparazzi-shy so keep the camera ready to capture its gleaming eyes and over-sized paws.
Caribou: October migration season

Witnessing a caribou migration is the stuff of dreams. As the winter begins, Manitoba's boreal woodland, coastal, and barren ground caribou embark on an epic journey across the tundra. You'll be mesmerised by this incredible wildlife spectacle and the wild beauty of these creatures, resplendent with antlers and huge, kind eyes.


Arctic Fox

Arctic fox and hare – Year-round

There is something infinitely fascinating about snow-white foxes and bunnies frolicking in the chill, blending in with their surroundings, like cotton balls dancing on ice. Despite their small size, Manitoba's cutest creatures are widely sought after for their photogenic qualities. They're found year-round, but their coats only turn white when the snow begins to fall.
Bald eagle: May to September

Here's a tip for bird-loving travellers on the look out for the regal bald eagle: stay close to the water. The famous white feathered heads of the bald eagle will most commonly be spotted swooping near the rivers and lakes in search of fish. Try Whiteshell Provincial Park, Riding Mountain National Park or Pembina Valley Provincial Park.

Getting there

Air Canada has daily direct flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Vancouver, with connecting services to Winnipeg. Alternatively, VIA Rail, the national Canadian rail service runs from Vancouver to Winnipeg. The two-day journey spans British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan before reaching the Manitoba, the heart of Canada.

www.travelmanitoba.com

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Top tips for exploring Australia


This Australia Day highlights for some of the best domestic journeys that showcase our sunburnt country. Choose between the Twelve Apostles Eco Walk, the Bay of Fires walk and the Arkaba Wilderness Safari.

Twelve Apostles Eco Walk

Experience the iconic Great Ocean Road and traverse the most picturesque sections of the Great Ocean Walk with expert guides. This six-day journey allows you to witness the stunning diversity of flora and fauna amongst the rock pillars of the Twelve Apostles. Travellers will meet like-minded hikers at the eco-chic walking lodge and have daily walking itineraries tailored to their particular needs. Meander through tunnels of forests, climb up ridges and feast your eyes on rewarding coastal views. There will be scenic locations for picnic lunches, as well as a 10-minute scenic helicopter flight over the Apostles. Return to Melbourne and relax with a private tour to the Yarra Valley – Victoria's premier wine region.

Bay of Fires & Beyond

Tasmania offers plenty for the active traveller and this journey kicks off with a round of golf at on of the world's top golf destinations: Barnbougle. Enjoy 18 holes with cart hire at The Dunes, rated #2 golf course in Australia and #11 in the world, this course has been designed to emulate the courses of Scotland and Ireland. Next venture to the East Coast – one of Tasmania's most breathtakingly beautiful locations. Pristine beaches, bushland and coastal wilderness provide the backdrop to this well-paced and varied walking tour. A range of accommodation from an ecologically-designed lodge set in outstanding coastal wilderness to the luxurious modern comforts of a picturesque country estate brings each day's activities to a delightfully comfortable conclusion. Gourmet meals prepared by expert guides are another highlight.

Arkaba Wilderness Safari

Combine a professionally guided outback hiking adventure with the natural beauty of Kangaroo Island. The luxury hike offers both deluxe swag camping under the stars and gracious hospitality at renowned Arkaba Station Homestead. Your guide and camp assistant will prepare a three-course alfresco camp dinner.  Walks, which include a section of the famous Heysen Trail, are graded moderate to challenging, and your luggage is transferred by vehicle between camps: you carry only your lunch, snacks and water. Afterwards, reward yourself with a luxury two-night stay at Southern Ocean Lodge with the opportunity to explore Kangaroo Island - the Galapagos of Australia. The 21-suite escape features an environmentally-sensitive design, eco-chic interiors, premium lodge facilities, personal service, contemporary dining and a signature space retreat. You'll also discover the magnificent coastal scenery and abundant wildlife for which the Island is renowned. It's the ultimate fusion of nature and luxury.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

10 travel hacks every solo traveller should know

#lonelyplanet



You’re bound to make mistakes on your first solo trip, but you can learn from previous travellers. Monica Stott, founder of thetravelhack.com, has learned a fair bit. Here she shares her top ten hacks.

Order special meals on planes

Pre-order a special meal, such as a vegetarian or vegan meal, on flights. Special meals are served first so you’ll get your food faster, allowing you to nod off sooner than your seatmates if you’re keen to get some rest. The vegan meals are usually healthy, light and delicious, which helps you to avoid that groggy, bloated, post-flight feeling that tends to be a by-product of indulging in a rich plane meal.

Dress up for airport check-in

Did you know that solo travellers are more likely to get upgraded on flights? You’re also more likely to be upgraded if you look the part, so wear the smartest clothes you’re travelling with to the airport (you can always pack a more comfortable set of clothes in your hand luggage to change into after you check in). It’s also worth asking at check-in if any upgrade opportunities are available. While it is more difficult to score upgrades these days unless you’re a frequent flyer, if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Use airport lounges

Airport lounges aren’t just for first class passengers; you can often buy yourself into them for a bargain. In the UK, airport lounge passes start from around £25 and include perks such as unlimited snacks and alcohol, wi-fi, magazines, and a quiet and comfortable space to relax before your flight. Using lounges during long layovers offers particularly good value, as it doesn’t typically cost much more than you’d spend on food and drink elsewhere in the airport.

Pack a portable charger

You’ll undoubtedly use your phone a lot while you travel, so pack a portable charger. Make sure to have a way to contact someone in an emergency, and use your phone’s GPS for directions. Portable chargers are cheap and lightweight and you’ll thank yourself when you’re trying to call a taxi at 3am with only 2% battery remaining!

Disguise your gadgets

Flashy new devices with crisp, clean cases attract thieves, which is the last thing you want when you’re travelling solo. Avoid unwanted attention by making your expensive gadgets look less pricey than they really are – cover your camera in stickers, and buy cheap cases for your smartphone and your tablet and scuff them up.

Mark your baggage as fragile

Slap a 'fragile' label on your luggage to prevent it from being handled roughly in transit. Adding this label will typically also see your luggage delivered to the baggage carousel - it's often the case that special luggage and equipment is the last to be placed in the aircraft's hold, which means it will be the first to be taken out again.

Always carry a business card from your hotel

As soon as you arrive at your hotel or hostel, grab a business card from the reception desk with the hotel's address and phone number. If you get lost, you can jump in a taxi and give the card to your driver to ensure you get back to your hotel safely. If a business card isn't available, ask a member of reception staff if they could write down the address in the local language for you. Make sure to then keep the information somewhere handy when you head out to explore.

Travel with an unlocked mobile phone

If you have a contract phone, ensure it is unlocked before you travel. This means you’ll be able to use any SIM card from any mobile network across the world. Pick up a local SIM once you arrive and you’ll avoid roaming fees and enjoy cheaper calls and texts – you can find SIM cards at the airport and convenience stores in touristy areas.

Keep your travel essentials in your suitcase at home

Adopt this travel hack if you’re a frequent traveller and don’t want to forget those all-important essentials. When you return from a trip, leave key items in your suitcase. Items such as your passport, plug adaptors, miniature toiletries and insurance documents can stay in your case because you won’t need them at home, and leaving them in your case means you’ll never forget to pack them.

Use free walking tours to help you ease into a new city

Most cities have free walking tours, and these tend to attract other solo travellers. Solos usually stick together once the tour is over and go for drinks or dinner together, so it’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded travellers while simultaneously avoiding the anxiety of dining alone on your first night in town.

Extract from The Solo Travel Handbook

To find out more and get top tips for travelling solo, visit www.lonelyplanet.com/explore-every-day.




Lonely Planet’s Solo Travel Handbook

Published January 2018 / 168pp, full colour / H210 x W165mm, paperback / AUD $29.99

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Where to Scuba Dive in NSW



With more than 2,000 kilometres of stunning coastline, NSW has an abundance of impressive scuba diving spots. Dive with sea turtle in warm tropical waters in the Tweed region, discover the world’s most southerly coral reef at Lord Howe Island, and swim with seals at Montague Island on the South Coast. NSW has many licenced dive operators that offer dive training courses, dives, tours and equipment hire. Dive sites up to 18 metres are good for beginners and up to 40 metres are recommended for advanced divers.

Sydney sites:

Shelly Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches near Manly is a great beach dive, perfect for beginners, and is home to giant cuttlefish, wobbegongs and weedy sea dragons.

For experienced divers, The Leap in Botany Bay National Park at Kurnell is a thrilling shore dive that includes a 22-metre drop-off, populated with boulders and overhangs, some of the clearest water in Sydney, large schools of fish, lots of seahorses and some magic swim throughs.

Bare Island in Botany Bay (pic above) is a popular dive site for beginners; you might spot sea dragons, gropers and turtles in shallow water of between seven and 12 metres

Gordon's Bay near Clovelly is an underwater 600-metre nature trail marked by a chain connected to concrete-filled drums. There are information signs along the way as well as friendly gropers. 

Shelley Beach (diveplanit)
 
Up the Coast:

Broughton Island near Port Stephens has several spectacular dive sites. The popular Looking Glass is a narrow channel through the centre of the island that opens up into a natural fishbowl. Look for large rays, blue groper, red morwong, bullseye and bream. Nearby at Nelson Bay, the main feature of the Fly Point-Halifax Park Aquatic Reserve is a 100-metre sponge-covered ledge with schools of bream, nannygai and blue groper.

The Solitary Islands Marine Park in Coffs Harbour is home to a unique mix of more than 550 fish, 90 corals and 600 molluscs.

South West Rocks on the North Coast is home to Fish Rock Cave, running 125 metres through Fish Rock, teeming with sea life including black cod, black rays and giant cuttlefish.

At Byron Bay, in the Cape Byron Marine Park, Julian Rocks Marine Reserve is often ranked as one of Australia’s top dive sites with its fish, turtles, eagle rays and corals. During the Winter, whale song can be heard underwater.

Lord Howe Island is one of the best dive locations in the world with over 60 dive sites. The most spectacular is Ball’s Pyramid, where advanced divers can go on drift and cave dives, and follow a coral wall. Expect to see massive schools of violet sweep, amberjack, kingfish, silver drummer, rainbow runners, trevally and occasionally marlin, dolphins and wahoo.

The island’s shallow lagoon is great for snorkelers, novice divers and underwater photographers keen to see anemone, lionfish, slipper crayfish, the rare Coleman’s pigmy seahorse, spotted snake eel and beaked leatherjacket.

Down the Coast:

Jervis Bay, on the NSW South Coast, is a Marine Park with more than 20 shore and boat dive sites. The area has an abundance of kelp beds, large boulders, small caves, drop-offs, shear coral walls, sponge gardens, ship and plane wrecks, and swim throughs. Between May and October, you can dive with seals.

Bass Point, at the southern end of Shellharbour, is a marine aquatic reserve and one of the South Coast’s dive and snorkel hot spots. Good for beginners.

Off the coast of Narooma, Montague Island Nature Reserve is renowned for its 1,600-strong seal colony. You’ll also see stingrays, bull rays, blue gropers and wobbegongs. Divers can expect water visibility of between 20-30 metres year round, and it’s also a great place to see humpback whales heading south to Antarctica in October.
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