Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Cruising in higher latitudes



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

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

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




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


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

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

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

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





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


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

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

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




North Europe: Spectacular scenery for cruising yachts to enjoy.



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

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


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

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Wildlife safari in South Africa.


Recently voted Africa's best safari destination.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Gear up for Summer in Colorado


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




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

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




Rappelling Ouray's waterfalls, credit Canyoning Colorado

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




Rafting the Cache la Poudre, credit Richard Haro

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




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

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





Biking in Telluride, credit Visit Telluride

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

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

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

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

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











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

Upcoming Events

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












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

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Why Manitoba is Canada’s top destination for freshwater adventures


The secret is out: Canada's central province of Manitoba is the place to be for Aussie travellers who want to live like a Canadian on their summer holiday. Picture the quintessential lake-life culture, complete with lakeside lodges and lazy days filled with kayaking, swimming, windsurfing and fishing.

Read on for our top five freshwater adventures beckoning this summer.

  • Manitoba's remote, wild north is Canada's final frontier. In the midst of roaming bears, moose, caribou and wolves, crystal-clear lakes and pristine forests, lies Gangler's Wilderness Lodge on the shores of Lake Egenolf. Learn about the diverse habitats of the area at this fly-in wilderness lodge, check out an authentic trappers' cabin and take a tour of the glacial 'erratics', huge granite boulders that adorn the landscape.
  • Try your hand at catching your own lunch in one of the many lakes in this this prime fishing region. When night falls, turn your eyes skyward for the shimmering, dancing aurora borealis – the perfect end to an unforgettable day.
  • Less than 100 kilometres east of Winnipeg is the stunning lakes region of Whiteshell Provincial Park. Check into a hand-crafted, lake-front cabin at Falcon Trails Resort, nestled in a boreal forest on the shores of Falcon and High Lakes, where canoeing, hiking, fishing and biking is high on the agenda.
  • Spend days (or weeks) hiking the wilderness trails, explore the numerous glittering lakes throughout Whiteshell, and immerse yourself in the local culture and majestic nature that has inspired so many artists, singers and athletes.
  • Take a road trip 200 kilometres north-east of Winnipeg to breathtaking Nopiming Park. The Anishnaabe word 'noopiming' translates to 'entrance to the wilderness', and the moment you dip your paddle into your first lake you'll see why. Nopiming is the crown jewel of paddling in southern Manitoba, and one of the wildest backcountry areas in the province.
  • Book a two-night Twin River Travel canoe trip, taking in the Seagrim Lakes chain within the Park. This is the perfect introduction to canoe camping, traversing easy, small lakes and staying at comfortable camp sites. Keep your eyes peeled for the boreal caribou that call this beautiful place home, as well as extraordinary bird life.
  • There's no doubt about it, Manitoba has more than its fair share of beaches. Soak up the sun on the shores of one of the world's largest freshwater inland lakes, Lake Winnipeg. Make a bee-line for the east side of the lake, where pristine beaches within a one-hour drive of Winnipeg beckon, and the sparkling water offers itself up for swimming and wind-surfing.
  • Grand Beach, next to the historic La Vérendrye Trail, boasts powdery sand and grass-topped dunes that make it one of the top beaches in North America. Keep your camera poised to capture the birds that live in the nearby lagoon. Alternatively, soak up the sun on Patricia Beach, with its natural white sands, a quiet alternative to the busier beaches further north.
  • Why settle for a day trip to the beaches of Lake Winnipeg? Stay a while longer, discover the fertile marshlands, teeming with birdlife, that surround the rugged western shorelines of the lake. Spend a few days at Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park, home to Gull Harbour Marina and Lighthouse Inn and the high-end Hecla Lakeview Resort, the latter boasting its own waterpark, day spa and golf course.
  • Rent a boat to cruise around the Hecla Island, or spend the day kayaking around the breathtaking limestone cliffs. With its pretty beaches, outstanding fishing and endless hiking trails, one thing is certain: you'll never want to leave.

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.

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