Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Switzerland, a Land of World Record Breakers

Switzerland might be a small country that is roughly two-thirds the size of Tasmania, but this country is big on breaking world records. Here, Switzerland Tourism has rounded up 12 of the country's most amazing world-record breaking attractions.

1. World's Steepest Cogwheel Railway

With a 48-degree gradient, this cogwheel railway is one of the biggest attractions on Lake Lucerne. Ascending 1,635m from Alpnachstad (where the ferry stops), the railway travels 4,618m up to the fun park of Mt Pilatus. Operating between May and November the ride takes about 30 minutes passing through rugged rock faces and lush vegetation.

2. World's Longest Suspension Bridge

Stretching across 494m, the Charles Kuonen Bridge offers adrenaline seekers an unforgettable thrill. Connecting a hiking trail between Grachen and Zermatt, views from the bridge are equally thrilling, being set against the world's most recognisable mountain peak, the Matterhorn.

3. World's Longest Tunnel

With a long and legendary history dating back to the 13th century, the Gotthard Base Tunnel took 17 years to construct. The 57km tunnel runs through the mountain at a depth of up to 2,300m. Apart from being an engineering feat, the Gotthard Base Tunnel also leads the way in ecological evolution being powered by hydroelectricity.

4. World's Oldest Covered Wooden Footbridge

Dating back to the 14th century and as part of the original fortifications, the Chapel Bridge in Lucerne was destroyed in a fire in 1993, but quickly restored back to its original form. A major highlight in Lucerne, the bridge is decorated with pictorial panels initially installed in the 17th century, depicting historical scenes of the city and country.

5. World's First Revolving Cable Car

Not far from Lucerne is the 3,062m high Mt Titlis, home to Europe's highest suspension bridge and the glacier chairlift 'Ice Flyer'. To get up there, one must take a thoroughly scenic 30-minute ride on the Titlis Rotair, the world's first revolving cable car travelling above the spectacular alpine landscape.

6. World's Highest Consumption of Chocolate

Given Switzerland is well known for its high quality chocolate, it comes as no surprise that the Swiss enjoy indulging in their country's sweet treats, consuming an average of 8.8kg per person in 2017. Switzerland's most famous chocolate brands include Nestle, Lindt, and Toblerone.

7. World's Highest Density of Michelin-Starred Restaurants Per Capita

2019 recorded a total of 128 Michelin starred restaurants in Switzerland, resulting in the country having the most number of top-rated restaurants per capita. The latest Swiss restaurants that landed in the Michelin guide include focus in Vitznau and Pavillon in Zurich.

8. World's Longest downhill ski race 

Attracting an average of 30,000 spectators each year, the history of the Lauberhorn-Wengen FIS Alpine Ski World Cup dates back to 1930 and takes place every year in mid-January. With the downhill course stretching over 4.4km, run times are usually 2.5mins where top speeds reach about 160km/h.

9. World's Longest Staircase 

Located in the Bernese Alps, the pyramid shaped mountain peak of Niesen over looks Lake Thun in Interlaken from 2,362m asl. Ascending the peak can be done via a funicular, which departs every 30 minutes from 8am to 5pm, or by the impressive 11,674 steps.

10. World's Only Peak-to-Peak Suspension Bridge

Boasting spectacular views of more than 24 snow-capped peaks of at least 4,000m asl including the Eiger, Monch, the Matterhorn, Jungfraujoch, and even Mont Blanc, the Peak Walk at Glacier 3000 is the world's first suspension footbridge linking two mountains peaks. To get there,

11. World's Oldest Vegetarian Restaurant

Holding the record of the oldest continuously opened vegetarian restaurant in the world, Haus Hiltl in Zurich has a history dating back to 1898. With a buffet offering more than 40 varieties of salads, an Indian buffet and fresh food juices, Hiltl is today a popular dining venue that is all about healthy indulgence.

12. World's Best Tennis Player

Apart from incredible natural assets, impressive engineering feats and talented chefs, Switzerland is also home to the world's best tennis player, Roger Federer, who was born Basel. The nation's art and architecture capital, Basel is located on the River Rhine and borders France and Germany.

See for for more information on travel in Switzerland.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Africa’s ‘Magical Beasts’ and where to find them.

African safaris are usually top of most people's bucket lists when it comes to wildlife viewing. Its myriad 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.

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 'magical beasts', the fabled '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. Michael McCall from luxury safari specialist, Sanctuary Retreats, offers up his suggestions for where visitors to Africa are most likely to tick off their Big Five wish list.

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

"The Serengeti is definitely at the top of my list. Not only is it a classic Tanzania destination, but it's also just 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 neighbouring Kenya, the Park is justifiably regarded as being one of the best places for safari for one very specific reason – the Great Migration. This annual event sees, literally, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra pass through the Park in search of food. And of course, with the herds of grazers, come the predators. I always tell guests 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 really spectacular wildlife show.

"In terms of where to stay, Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp moves between three different locations across the year, which means guests can follow the migration as it travels across the Serengeti. Plus, we operate the permanent Sanctuary Kusini Camp where wildebeest congregate on the camp's doorstep every year.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

"Number two on my list is the Ngorongoro Crater, another classic Tanzania safari destination. The Ngorongoro Crater is a geographical wonder in its own right. The caldera's vast, steep walls loom over the valley below, and are what lead to the incredible abundance of wildlife in the crater, as they trap a rich assortment of large and small safari animals inside it.

"With two rainy seasons – the long rains fall in April and May (into early June) and the short rains fall in October and November, we recommend visiting in December, January, February or late June through to early October for the best game viewing opportunities. Our Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp is located right in the heart of the Park on the crater rim and is a fantastic place to catch all the action as it is home to one of the largest populations of animals in the Park including zebra, buffalo, warthog, wildebeest, hippo and elephants – not to mention an amazing assortment of predators – lions, hyenas, jackals, cheetahs and the even elusive leopard.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

"With a well-deserved reputation as one of the best all-round safari destinations, no list would be complete without the Okavango Delta. The 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 mix of cool clear streams, lagoons, floodplains and forested islands.

"Covering almost a third of the entire Delta, the Moremi Game Reserve comprises a diverse habitat where the desert and delta meet, with plenty of 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, which all adds up to superb game viewing!

"Moremi is probably 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. June to August is peak season for most safari areas within the Okavango. But September and October when temperatures really start to climb, often deliver even higher concentrations of game around the few available water sources.

Sanctuary Retreats operates three luxury camps in the Okavango Delta – Sanctuary Stanley's Camp. Sanctuary Baines' Camp, and Sanctuary Chief's Camp, all of which offer great game viewing experiences, and which can be either booked alone or in combination with each other.

Masai Mara, Kenya

"The final destination on my list is one of Africa's most famous and popular game parks, the Masai Mara – the Kenyan extension of the Serengeti. Many people consider Kenya the birthplace of safari, and there is no doubt the Park offers up amazing game viewing experiences, not to mention plenty of opportunities to experience the Big Five.

"The Great Migration usually passes through the Mara between July and October each year, which is when travellers can expect to see dramatic river crossings, where plenty of crocodiles lay in wait for wildebeest and zebra.

"Our flagship property, Sanctuary Olonana, is situated on a private stretch of the Mara River right in the heart of the reserve, the Masai Mara and is the ideal base from which to explore the Park, with a range of activities on offer including game drives, cultural visits, bush dinners, sun-downers, scenic flights and balloon rides."

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Good On Ya Gippsland: new food destinations in rural Victoria

Recently touted as one of Australia's 10 Most Underrated Destinations, Gippsland continues to advance as Victoria's best-kept secret for a soul-and-stomach-nourishing weekend escape. Here are just three new venues which have opened since Christmas.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ten Must Visit Attractions in Seoul - plus 90 More

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Korea Tourism Organisation announced the top "100 Must-Visit Tourist Spots" for 2019. Ten of these tourist spots are located in the heart of Seoul and brings together a mix of historical sites and new attractions that are rising in popularity. So for anyone who is planning a trip to Korea here are some locations to lock in your itinerary!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Small Packages: Tiny Homes to Stay in across New South Wales

by Marsha Rodram / Destination NSW

Holidaying in a unique dwelling has long been a travel trend from treehouses to yurts and glamping. In 2019 some of the hottest holiday stays are in tiny homes — cabins with a minimalist aesthetic that are small in size, but big on character.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Hidden Italy Weekend: Matera and Carnivale in Basilicata

by Simon Tancred

There are places in Italy where times truly does seem to have stood still, where a symbiosis between nature and ancestral rhythms still exists. Aliano, in the heart of Basilicata in southern Italy, is one such place. A town of fewer than one thousand people, Aliano spreads along a ridge surrounded by ‘calanche’, deep clay ravines.

Until two generations ago, the people of Aliano lived in deep and isolated poverty, those who hadn’t migrated to the factories of the north or escaped overseas, eked out a living as shepherds. Their relationship with their animals and the land was so profound that Carlo Levi, an intellectual from Turin who spent two years in exile here in the 1930s, believed that they were still pagans and that Christianity had never penetrated this dark and remote area.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Getting High in New England #NewSouthWales

If you are a driver, rider or caravaner, the glorious highways and backroads of New South Wales’ New England region are calling you. Who knows what you’ll discover?

Words: Roderick Eime

When I first started driving around the country not long after I earned my licence, there wasn’t a lot to see along the way. Or that’s what I thought. Service stations dished up ‘burgers and steak sandwiches washed down with ‘truckers’ blend’ instant coffee or maybe a Coke. The mission was to get from A to B - via C and D - and ASAP!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Philippines is Southeast Asia’s centre of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

#itsmorefuninthePhilippines #Philippines

The Philippines is Southeast Asia’s centre of UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The 7,641 islands in the Philippines are widely recognised for their world-renowned, far flung, award winning beaches, however did you know that this picturesque destination is also home to some of the highest numbers of UNESCO World Heritage ‘cultural sites’ in Southeast Asia? The Philippines has three ‘cultural sites’ in addition to three ‘natural sites’, offering travellers a unique and exceptional holiday destination in this stunning part of the world.

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

“The Philippines offers a hugely diverse range of attractions for a wide variety of travellers, from backpackers to luxury, discerning travellers, it is a destination which has something for everyone. We encourage everyone to visit the Philippines and look beyond our world-renowned beaches to discover some of our tourism gems. The Philippines is teeming with exotic wildlife, quaint fishing villages and also UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which provides a truly unique holiday option, all located only eight hours flight time from the east coast of Australia.”

Monday, January 14, 2019

Hidden Italy Weekend: suspended among the peaks of the Dolomites

by Simon Tancred

The doors of the red cabin clicked shut, the cable car jerked and began its rapid ascent. Unsupported by pylons, the rising cable car seemed about to slap into the bare face of the sheer cliff, eliciting squeals and nervous laughter from the crowded passengers. It took less than three minutes to climb over seven hundred metres from the Falzarego Pass to the Lagazoui station.

At the top, relieved passengers spilled out onto a metal platform and jockeyed for position on the surrounding terrace, fighting to admire one of the most jaw-dropping sights in the European Alps: a 360-degree view that stretches across the Italian Dolomites to the Austrian border and beyond. It takes in over one hundred and forty peaks, including some of the most famous: to the Adamello, Le Tofane, glacial-capped Marmolada and the Cinque Torri, five crags that cast long shadows over the nearby town of Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Swoop in for new tours in Patagonia

Specialist tour operator, Swoop Patagonia, is adding a raft of brand new treks and accommodation to its offering for 2019.

New Treks

Tierra del Fuego: Two new, guided three-day treks, both of which start and finish in Ushuaia, provide seasoned hikers with the opportunity to experience technical routes and wild camping in remote areas that, while they are easily accessible from the city, are frequented by very few people.

The Torres del Rio Chico Traverse features a challenging trail from sea level up to high altitude lagoons, where spectacular views of the Andes are an impressive reward, while the Mountains to Sea Trek takes in the iconic Mount Olivia, ice hiking on the Albino Glacier, the emerald lake and the shores of the Beagle Channel.
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