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Thursday, November 29, 2018

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



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

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

Sign Post Forest

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

Carcross

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



Whitehorse

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

Haines Junction

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

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

Beaver Creek

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

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

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

Getting to Yukon Territory

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

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

Monday, November 12, 2018

Expert advice on family holidays



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

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

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

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

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



David Goldman, Joint Managing Director, The Goldman Group

Iceland

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

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



Anthony Goldman, Joint Managing Director, The Goldman Group

Mongolia

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

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



Tom Goldman, Founder, The Goldman Group

Galapagos Islands

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

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

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

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