Sunday, July 30, 2006
Once upon a time, staying at a caravan park or campground was a hit-and-miss affair. Musty cabins, smelly shower blocks and grumpy caretakers are what many of us remember of caravanning in the '60s, '70s and even '80s.
Every parent has to deal with children's "tanties". Yelling, screaming and the occasional foul language are bad enough at home, but a nightmare scenario when travelling. Unruly children will spoil your own holiday and if you're travelling with a group, can have adverse effects on your companions.
The bane of any travelling parent has to be travel sickness. Some adults seem to be acutely susceptible to travel and motion sickness but it is especially so with children, mainly because they are unable to recognise the symptoms and do not know how to respond.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Adventure cruising, and its almost seamlessly interchangeable appellation, “expedition cruising”, has its roots deep in the human psyche. It stems from our innate desire to inquire, explore and expand the boundaries of our environment whilst deriving intellectual rewards from the experience. Expanding on this, one could name great navigators like Magellan, Cook, La Perouse and Pytheas as some of the best known “adventure cruisers”. Often travelling under the veil of commerce, military expansionism, geography or science, these iconic sailors were driven by a desire to expand their own personal knowledge quite apart from obligations to their respective bankrolling empires.
The 21st Century adventure cruiser is transported in vastly different vessels. Complete with state-of-the-art satellite navigation, first rate medical facilities, gourmet cuisine and comfy bunks, gone are the days of deprivation, scurvy and mythical sea monsters.
Just as cruise travel is enjoying a very healthy resurgence despite the woes of the planet, adventure cruising, as a significant sub-set of the segment, is booming. This assertion is backed up by figures and concurs with findings from studies such as the Cendant Corporation's 'The World of Travel in 2020' where their findings indicate travellers are more and more in search of "experience-driven travel".
But how do you tell an adventure or expedition cruise from the regular fun-afloat type?
That which separates adventure cruising from the regular, big ship, variety is a number of factors, namely;
- Flexible and adjustable itineraries to take account of changing conditions and opportunities.
- Products driven by destination and experience rather than the allure or cachet of a particular vessel.
- Destinations often have little or no tourism infrastructure and focus on natural, cultural and ecological attractions.
- Smaller, more manoeuvrable vessels able to navigate narrow and shallow waterways inaccessible to regular cruise ships.
- Fewer passengers, enabling operators to better deliver a more personal and fulfilling experience. Typically less than 500, but often as few as just a dozen or so.
- Extensive shore excursion programme, often with several disembarkations per day.
- Cruise staff includes lecturers drawn from academia and science able to impart enriching interpretation during a voyage or shore time.
- Premium pricing.
See: Adventure Associates
See: Adventure Associates
Monday, May 1, 2006
Monday, April 3, 2006
Imagine a place where thousands of square miles of untouched tropical rainforest spread to the horizon, rising up to blanket solemn mountains capped by taffeta cloud crowns. Wildlife rustles through the undergrowth, occasionally emerging to give the casual observer a fleeting glimpse of brightly-coloured plumage and the prehistoric.
Ancient trees dip down onto deserted beaches, invitingly brushing fine white sands strewn with conch shells and palm fronds, and the opalescent gateway to the reef sparkles under the gaze of the sun just a coconuts throw away…
No, this isn’t the pitch for a Bounty commercial, but is Cape Tribulation as I found it – a destination gem that has to be the jewel in Australia’s crown.
Beneath the lush canopy and looped lianas the city hustle melts to a distant memory, and the sounds of car engines, tooting horns and shouted conversations are replaced by intermittent birdsong and bush turkeys scratching through the scrub.
Cape Trib is unique in that it is one of the few places in the world where two World Heritage listed sites – the rainforest and the reef – are found together, and a visit to the area isn’t complete without a day trip to meet some of the more colourful locals.
Everyone - but everyone - goes to the tropical north to see the Great Barrier Reef, but unlike other big tours where I’d had to scramble for ancient fins and a leaking snorkel, there were just 24 people on board the Odyssey H2O as it sped out to sea.
The commanding figure of Mount Sorrow dwindled to nothing in the distance, and when we anchored after just 45 minutes I could see nothing except cool blue water shimmering up to the horizon. With so few people sharing the open ocean, as I pulled on my mask and flippers and plunged into the vibrant world beneath the waves I really felt like I had the whole reef to myself. Sheer magic.
And enjoying such natural beauty doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice little luxuries. After backpacking for two months I would’ve been happy to find a serviceable toilet in this unfettered land-before-time, but was amazed by the opulent and affordable accommodation cocooned in the canopy. Ferntree Rainforest Lodge had all the modern comforts the discerning traveler comes to appreciate (and which until then I had sacrificed). After sleeping bags, 12 bed dorms and mad bathroom dashes along chilly corridors, the sheltered pool oasis, plump downy pillows and en suite bathrooms immersed deep in the jungle were almost too good to be true.
The only difficulty in this hedonistic haven of relaxation is trying to fit everything in – eco-tours, 4WD expeditions and beach horse rides are just some of the many activities on offer if you make it away from the beach. With so much to see and do it is impossible to fully appreciate the breathtaking beauty of Cape Trib on a day tour, and I feel sorry for anyone that tries. Eight hours just isn’t enough, and despite what Captain Cook christened this slice of paradise, the only tribulation of a trip to the Cape is having to leave.