Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Summer sights at NSW's Lake Macquarie

Lake Macquarie is a hotspot for silly season hangouts, where visitors can enjoy the sand, sea, sun and so much more! Although known as a year-round destination, Lake Macquarie is in its prime during the warmer months. Only 90 minutes north of Sydney, it’s the perfect weekend destination for anyone looking for a festive season escape.

With plenty to see and do, it’s hard to know where to start, so here are some of the top spots to visit in Lake Macquarie this summer:

Santa’s Spot: Speers Point Park

On 8 December, catch the Lake Mac Carols in Speers Point Park and enjoy an evening of fireworks, entertainment and special guests (including the one and only Santa Claus!) in the countdown to Christmas. During the day, Speers Point Park will keep the kids entertained for hours with a top-notch variety playground – featuring a flying fox, water play and a bike circuit with two intersecting tracks. There’s even a huge fenced dog park for the fur baby that’s sure to get tails wagging!

Serene Spot: Gap Creek Falls

The Watagans Mountains are always a firm favourite for nature lovers, dotted with a myriad of walking trails, lookouts and campgrounds. Wander from the Gap Creek picnic area at the end of Bangalow Road through lush rainforest, past regal red cedars and a massive Illawarra flame tree, to the majestic Gap Creek Falls. Featuring a sheer 40-metre drop over a cliff face, the beauty of the falls will help you to reconnect with, and get back to nature.

Swim Spot: Belmont Baths

Belmont Baths is the perfect spot for a splash during a sunny weekend. Recently reopened at the end of last year after a $850,000 renovation, the Baths now feature a new jetty (perfect for practicing big splash bombs), a large, netted swimming area, a brand-new amenities block, change rooms and foreshore landscaping. If all that swimming gets your tummy rumbling, just a short walk down the road you’ll find Deck 56, known for its stunning lake views and fresh, delicious cuisine.

Secret Spot: Glenrock State Conservation Area

Escape to Glenrock State Conservation Area and enjoy your breathing space in this secret hideaway. This place is nature’s playground, and if you pay it a visit, you’ll soon understand why. Enjoy beach activities, bushwalking, mountain bike riding, hang gliding and horse-riding, all while feasting on spectacular coastal views along the way. Spanning over 500 hectares, this stunning landscape boasts headlands, beaches, rainforests and the picturesque Glenrock Lagoon.

Safe Spot: Caves Beach

Lake Macquarie’s iconic Caves Beach and its extensive network of sea caves and rock pools are ideal for low-tide exploration. Crawl through tight holes, hang out in shady caves or soak up the sunshine on the beach’s sandy shores. Home to the Caves Beach Surf Life Saving Club, a kiosk, bathrooms, barbeques and picnic tables, it’s easy to see why Caves Beach is a firm family favourite.

Sensational Spot: Lake Macquarie Sand Islands

Is your idea of heaven bobbing around beautiful blue waters, hopping from one white sandy island to another? And no, this is not Fiji we are talking about – it’s lovely Lake Macquarie. The Lake Macquarie sand islands are a firm favourite with the locals and it’s easy to see why. Whether you explore by boat or choose to swim, just clock onto island time and get lost in the tranquillity.

It’s easy to see why Lake Macquarie is a favourite for family, friends, adventurers and anyone in between. To learn more about what’s going on in Lake Macquarie this silly season and find where to stay when you visit, please visit:

Samui On the Tip of Your Tongue

The Blue Fire Cooking School at Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort has proved very popular since opening last year. Guests learn to make mouth-watering Thai classics such as Som Tum (Thai papaya salad), Tom Yum Goong (spicy and sour prawn herb soup), and Tom Kha Gai (coconut chicken soup with lemongrass). Curry lovers can learn the art of Beef Massaman, Chicken Panaeng and Thai Green curry. Outrigger can also organise dining experiences at acclaimed local outlets such as Pepenero (Italian), The Social Samui (sunset bar & kitchen), Chi (cocktails), and Tamarind Spa. More:

Coral Care and Stargazing at Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort

Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort offers great and varied experiences for guests. Situated in a pristine southern atoll, there is little light pollution, so a guided stargazing cruise is a must. The resort has its own house reef and marine biologist, Amelia. Go snorkelling with her to discover sea life. If you don’t swim or snorkel, take the glass bottom semi sub to see underwater nature at its best. Afterwards, on land, Amelia explains to families about marine conservation such as coral rehabilitation, part of Outrigger’s OZONE initiative. The full Konotta activities guide is here.

Outrigger: The Gateway to Top 10 Ecotourism Activities in Mauritius

The range of ecotourism activities available from Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort is mind-boggling. Located in the green and spectacular ‘authentic’ south of Mauritius beside the Bel Ombre nature reserve, the resort's hosts recommend these top ten ecotourism activities. For man-made attractions, museums, golf, handicrafts, dining and discovering Mauritius’ rum, tea and sugar industries, there are many options. Here is a sample of cultural activities available from Outrigger Mauritius.

Blue Tree Water Park and Porto de Phuket Open Near Outrigger Phuket

The opening of Blue Tree Water Park (pictured) 15 minutes from Outrigger Laguna Phuket Beach Resort has added an amazing choice of daytime outdoor family activities for Outrigger guests. Other great local activities within a 15-minute car ride include Fun Friday Boat Avenue, Bangtao Night Market, and the Cherngtalay Night Market. Central is also developing a large-scale community mall named Porto de Phuket at the entrance area of Laguna Phuket. Within the resort, Outrigger offers no shortage of organised pool activities, badminton and tennis. Or let the kids express themselves at the Koh Kids Club. Adults meanwhile can enjoy Outrigger Signature Experiences such as cooking classes, vow renewals, batik making, fruit carving and more.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

10 reasons to holiday on Mykonos in 2020

From its whitewashed buildings, cobbled streets, world- famous sunsets, delicious seafood and lively local tavernas, to luxurious boutique accommodation, glamorous beach clubs and genuine Greek hospitality - there’s a raft of reasons to tick Mykonos - and the Myconian Collection - off your travel bucket list in 2020.

Here are 10 reasons to give you a taste of the magic of Mykonos…

1. Getting there is easy

Thanks to new direct flights from Sydney to Mykonos (via Doha) with Qatar Airways, Australian travellers can now start their Greek getaway in record time. Trade the Australian winter for a gorgeous Greek summer between June and August; or visit during May or September to ‘live like a local’ and avoid the crowds.

2. Food, glorious (Greek) food

Food is a serious business at the Myconian Collection Hotels & Resorts. Blending the skills of internationally trained executive chefs with fresh ingredients sourced exclusively for the hotels through time-honoured ties with farmers and fishermen nurtured by the hotel group’s founding family, the Daktylides.

The farm-to-table philosophy is alive and well in Mykonos. The Myconian Collection chefs are committed to encouraging guests to experience authentic Mykonos through its cuisine, including lamb and pork hand-reared on Daktylides family land, locally-grown herbs and vegetables, and the island’s best octopus, caught just for the Myconian Collection by one of the islands most iconic fisherman.

There are more than a dozen distinctive restaurants across the Myconian Collection portfolio of boutique hotels, many boasting spectacular ocean views. Must-visit restaurants for your 2020 bucket list include: Cabbanes at the Myconian Villa Collection; Panorama at Myconian Avaton, and Pavilion - Relais & Chateaux at the Myconian Utopia.

3. Explore ancient history

Offering a fascinating contrast to Mykonos’ cosmopolitan vibe, the nearby island of Delos - feted as the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis - was once at the heart of ancient Greek life as a hub for religious pilgrims, trade and multiculturalism.

These days, Delos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to intriguing ruins which are a must-see when staying on Mykonos. Myconian Collection guests can join a day trip to Delos aboard a private yacht to explore the island’s statues, preserved houses and temples – all with the expert insights of an experienced tour guide.

4. Experience laidback luxury

Mykonos has become a magnet for cosmopolitan travellers who flock to enjoy the island’s unique brand of laidback luxury. Having evolved from its ‘party-island’ past, today Mykonos attracts couples, families and groups of friends attracted by the island’s blissful beaches, crystal clear waters, stunning sunsets, unique Greek hospitality, delectable dining and new breed of boutique hotel accommodation – such as the gorgeous guest-house style villas at the Myconian Villa Collection.

5. Hit the beach

From a privileged position above Elia Beach on the southern coastline of world-famous Mykonos reside five Myconian Collection properties: Myconian Utopia Resort Relais & Châteaux; Myconian Avaton Resort a member of Design Hotels; Myconian Villa Collection, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Legend Collection; Myconian Imperial Resort and Royal Myconian Resort, both eminent members of the Leading Hotels of the World.

Guests can enjoy access to a pristine, private stretch of beach complete with bar service for snacks and creative cocktails - all served to your sunbed.

6. Join the jet-set

South of Elia Beach, live like the rich and famous on Mykonos’ stunning south coast, home to a chic, cosmopolitan crowd, luxury yachts galore, fabulous five-star dining and perfect people watching on the famous beaches of Psarou and Scorpios. Stay at the Myconian Ambassador Relais & Châteaux for panoramic views and easy access to Mykonos’ best-known beaches.

7. Get lost in the laneways of Mykonos Town

The labyrinth-like cobbled streets of Mykonos Town are made for getting lost. Designed to be chaotic in order to confuse pillaging pirates, it’s easy to lose a day or two meandering through boutiques, discovering tiny churches, lingering at local cafes, dining at traditional tavernas, exploring Little Venice, and watching the fishing boats come and go at Alefkandra harbour.

Boutique hotels for those who like to be closer to the action include: Myconian Kyma, a member of Design Hotels; Myconian Naia Luxury Suites, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, LXV Collection and the Myconian Korali Relais & Châteaux.

8. Genuine Greek hospitality

Authentic Greek hospitality is at the heart of the Myconian Collection, where guests are often personally welcomed by members of the founding Daktylides family in a tradition which began with the family’s first hotel back in 1979. Staff at the Myconian Collection’s nine boutique properties provide warm, discreet, attentive service and take the time to discover your preferences and personal experiences.

9. Sensational sunsets

It’s little wonder guests flock to the water’s edge to experience Mykonos’ stunning sunsets, and the Myconian Avaton enjoys a prime position. The hotel’s two-tier infinity pool lights up when the sun goes down, creating an alluring ambience for sharing post-sunset cocktails and canapes in serious style.

10. Serious specials – save now on 2020 stays

Book your Mykonos getaway to stay between May and October 2020 to enjoy a complimentary buffet breakfast, one complimentary Thalassotherapy spa treatment per person per stay, complimentary shared transfers and FREE Wi-Fi.

For more information, please visit:

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Where to travel 2020 - top 12 destinations revealed

G Adventures announces next year’s hottest destinations for adventure travel
From fascinating, emerging destinations and countries on the rebound, through to places where global events are making it more exciting to visit, the experts at G Adventures have analyzed their data and coupled it with travel trends to forecast the 12 hottest spots to visit in 2020.  

Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, says that as well as highlighting lesser known gems, this year's list includes a number of destinations where tourism can truly be a force for good for local people in the communities travellers visit. 

“In a world that's becoming increasingly divided, travel can be a vehicle and force for good to unite us as a global community. As pioneers of community tourism, our mission is to change people's lives through travel, going beyond the lives of our travellers to the locals we visit, particularly people who are marginalized. When we return from a transformative travel experience, we can then bring back what we learnt to make a difference in our own communities. That’s what we call the ripple effect,” says Poon Tip. 

G Adventures’ top 12 destinations for 2020 are as follows: 

  1. NEPAL - Travellers experiencing a mindful trip in the peaceful home of Buddha next year will find it hard to recall that 2020 marks five years since the April 2015 earthquake hit. The country has been busy rebuilding and is now encouraging tourism to return with the launch of its ‘Visit Nepal 2020’ campaign, which aims to attract two million visitors in the calendar year. G Adventures has experienced a 90% increase in travellers since 2017, and is offering a new Wellness Nepal tour which immerses travellers in local culture while they enjoy a blissful introduction to the place and its people. Priced from AUD$3,999pp* for a 13-day trip from Kathmandu return. 

  1. GEORGIA - It’s safe to say Georgian food and wine are both having a moment with the media spotlight highlighting delicacies such as khinkali (soup dumplings) and the country’s traditional winemaking process. G Adventures has witnessed a 44% increase in travellers over the past three years, and Georgia’s profile as an international tourism destination will continue to build with the UNWTO selecting the country to host its June 2020 board meeting. New budget flight routes through Europe will also help open up this emerging destination. An eight-day Best of Georgia & Armenia trip is priced from AUD$2,049pp, travelling from Yerevan, Armenia to Tbilisi, Georgia.   

  1. MADAGASCAR - This gem off the coast of southern Africa has continued to attract adventurous travellers with a 33% increase for G Adventures in the past three years. This has led the company to expand into Northern Madagascar for 2020, where travellers can spend time on Nosy Be, known as ‘lemur island’. There’s also a new Planeterra community tourism project - G Adventures non-profit partner - launching, which aids reforestation of the habitat around Ranohira for native species, such as the endangered lemurs. Pope Francis visited Madagascar this year where he expressed support for the creation of new jobs aimed at securing the country's rich biodiversity. An eight-day Northern Madagascar Explorer trip is priced from AUD$1,849pp travelling from Antsiranana to Nosy Be. 

  1. SRI LANKA - After a meteoric rise to become 2019's hottest travel destination with its kind people, rich culture and stunning shoreline, Sri Lanka’s tourism was heavily impacted following the Easter attacks last April. According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, arrivals fell 71% in May; the lowest number since the civil war ended a decade ago.  With all foreign advisories lifted, now is the perfect time for travellers to return to experience all Sri Lanka has to offer and to support this return, the government is offering a free online visa for travellers from 48 countries. A 14-day Sri Lanka Encompassed trip is priced from AUD$2,659pp travelling from Colombo to Mirissa.  

  1. IRELAND - 2020 is a leap year, so where better to visit than the country with its own leap-year tradition of reversing the traditional engagement proposal to having women asking for a hand in marriage! Additionally, Galway has been named as a European Capital of Culture for 2020, and G Adventures has a new National Geographic Journeys with G Adventures Iconic Ireland trip for those wanting to join the craic. Priced from AUD$3,799pp for a nine-day trip from Dublin return.  

  1. NICARAGUA - With its beautiful beaches, world-class surf and stunning classic colonial architecture, Nicaragua is back on its feet and ready to welcome tourists following a period of unrest, making this the perfect time to visit. G Adventures returns in November, just in time for the dry season which begins in December   . The Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism reports that during 2018 tourist numbers dropped 28% but now calm has returned the friendly locals are hopeful the tourists will follow. A 32-day 18-to-Thirtysomethings Central American Journey is priced from AUD$3,629pp travelling from Playa del Carmen, Mexico, to San Jose, Costa Rica. 

  1. BRAZIL - With a 10% increase in G Adventures travellers in the past year, the first increase in the past few years, Brazil appears to be firmly back on traveller’s hotlists. Rio de Janeiro has been named the World Capital of Architecture for 2020 by UNESCO, and G Adventures has a new National Geographic Journeys Explore Brazil trip launching next year. Priced from AUD$3,999pp for a nine-day trip from Rio de Janeiro return. 

  1. SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES - travellers looking for an instagrammable Caribbean holiday, with few tourists to photobomb their pictures, need look no further. G Adventures’ new sailing trip cruising the untouched islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is just the ticket. travellers will sail from hidden coves to secluded beaches in a comfortable catamaran, with time to snorkel some of the Caribbean's best sites and indulge in tasty local Creole cuisine. Priced from AUD$2,499pp for an eight-day Sailing Saint Lucia & The Grenadines trip from Rodney Bay return. 

  1. LAOS - Often overlooked on a Southeast Asia adventure, travellers on this G Adventures trip will arrive into the calmness of this small but perfectly formed country by boat, sailing the Mekong into the heart and soul of Laos. According to the Ministry of Tourism, traveller numbers to Laos for the first half of 2019 have increased five percent compared to the same time last year, and to encourage more tourism, as of June 2019 all international visitors to Laos are eligible to apply online for a single entry visa for a maximum stay of 30 days. A Classic Thailand and Laos Adventure is priced from AUD$1,969pp for a 14-day trip from Bangkok to Hanoi. 

  1. JAPAN - Appearing for a second year, Japan is on roll. Hot on the heels of hosting the Rugby World Cup this year and an iconic visit from the Fab Five, 2020 has them keeping busy hosting the Summer Olympics. G Adventures travellers to the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ have been steadily increasing with an additional 23% growth in the past year.  With the launch of its new National Geographic Family Journeys programme, G Adventures is extending experiences to include children aged seven and up. A Japan Family Journey tour is priced from AUD$6,799 per adult and $6,519 per child for an 11-day trip from Tokyo return. 

  1. SOUTH AFRICA - It’ll be 30 years next year since Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and G Adventures has been experiencing double-digit growth in South Africa for the past few years. Their recent 2019 Rugby World Cup win is sure to bring fresh tourism interest as well.  As a result of increased footfall, and the opportunity to change more lives through travel, a new Planeterra project has been launched to help educate travellers about the Indigenous San culture. G Adventures is also launching a new National Geographic Family Journeys trip, the Southern Africa Family Journey, priced from AUD$5,299 per adult and $5,019 per child for an 11-day trip from Cape Town to Victoria Falls. 

  1. GREENLAND - Greenland hit the headlines earlier this year with search results doubling after President Trump claimed he wanted to buy it. See what attracted him to this pristine piece of the world aboard the G Expedition ship, as it traverses Greenland’s coast. A 15-day Arctic Highlights voyage from Longyearbyen to Reykjavík is priced from AUD$9,299pp. 

For more information or to book, head to your nearest travel agent or visit  

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Five Magnificent Ways to See the Northern Lights in Canada

The greatest light-show on earth, the aurora borealis, is taking centre stage in Canada as the winter months provide a perfect dark-sky canvas for their spell-binding display.  
This enchanting natural phenomenon, best witnessed between October and March, can be viewed from Canada's northern destinations, where cosy wilderness lodges provide the perfect setting for this magical performance. Or, for something a little different, consider these five unique ways to weave aurora viewing into an incredible winter wonderland experience.
  1. Fat biking under an aurora sky
Combine two of the most exhilarating experiences imaginable: pedal through snow and ice on bikes designed for the conditions. As you careen through the Narnia-like forest, pause for a break, and turn your eyes skyward to take in the splendour of the northern lights dancing and shimmering overhead. Catch this latest winter craze in two of Canada's best aurora viewing points, Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories.  Boreale Lodge in Yukon and Borealis Bike Tours in the Northwest Territories offer unforgettable fat biking experiences.
  1. See the northern lights – from the inside!
The only experience of its kind in North America, winter visitors to Yukon Territory may now view the northern lights from 36,000 feet in the air, taking off from Whitehorse with Aurora 360 from 23 – 27 January 2020. Once airborne, the pilot will follow a custom flight path, determined by a team of scientists to optimise aurora viewing potential. The full Aurora 360 package includes outstanding cuisine, an evening of Yukon First Nations stories and dance, scientific presentations and a special 'nature day' showcasing Yukon's unique land, water and sky. With only 70 seats available, Aurora 360 comes with serious bragging rights!
  1. A spiritual experience
Many cultural groups hold their own spiritual beliefs about the aurora borealis, involving everything from dragons to dancing souls. Some Inuit believe that the lights are the souls of the departed on their way to the afterlife, while others believe they are the souls of unborn children. Immerse yourself in Indigenous culture as you witness the rippling, whirling spectacle
at the Aurora Village in the Northwest Territories. You'll gain a deep understanding of Indigenous heritage as you feast on home-made soup, bannock, and delicious desserts, before relaxing in a traditional tee-pee to await the magical light show. 
  1. Step back in time
Get off the grid in one of Yukon's remote wilderness lodges, where you can combine crystal-clear aurora viewing with a spot of ice-fishing or snowmobiling. Want more? Step back in time in a prospector-style wall tent, formerly used by gold seekers and trappers, just 20 minutes outside the capital city of Whitehorse. Marvel at the ribbons of colour blazing overhead in the night sky, then warm up inside over a wood-fired barrel stove, a mug of hot chocolate, and home-made maple syrup taffy. 
  1. Understand the science behind the wonder
Nature's most spectacular phenomenon can be viewed 300 days per year in Churchill, due to its position directly under the aurora oval in Canada's central province of Manitoba. At the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (CNSC), take advantage of the 360-degree glass aurora dome and observation deck that offer ideal vantage points to marvel at the glowing streams of light as they cascade across the pitch-black sky like shimmering Christmas garlands. By day, participate in the Winter Skies: Aurora & Astronomy in Churchill program and learn all about this atmospheric wonder during expert-led presentations at this active research facility.
Air Canada offers direct flights to Vancouver from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, with connecting flights to the eastern provinces and northern territories.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Traditional safari experience in Tanzania’s Serengeti

African safaris are usually top of most people’s bucket list when it comes to wildlife viewing. And it’s no wonder when you consider the richness of this type of travel experience. However, travellers often struggle to decide on which type of safari to go on and where, with so many destinations and different options available.

Well, for those seeking a truly traditional, safari experience that pays tribute to the classic safari of old, Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp in Tanzania provides the perfect solution.

One of the newest properties is the Camp rotates between set locations across the Serengeti, offering guests an unrivalled, front-row experience of the movement of a million-plus wildebeest and zebra as they follow the fresh grasses across the Serengeti plains during the annual migration season.

Kichakani is a Swahili word meaning ‘in the bush’ and the Camp features ten luxury tents, which are packed up and moved along in a style evocative of the pioneering explorers of the 19th century, yet with all modern comforts.

An elegant and contemporary take on the classic camp style, five-star tents offer distinct and stylish accommodation under canvas. Handcrafted luggage, easy chairs and characterful cabinets and desks, have all been designed to be perfectly portable. Each tent has a personal attendant and a private wooden deck on which to enjoy a just-brewed cup of Tanzania’s finest coffee, while en suite bathrooms feature authentic bucket showers. And for more energetic guests, gym and yoga kits are provided for workouts in the natural and peaceful surroundings.

A central canopied main tent with lounge and dining areas also opens up completely on all sides offering incredible views out over the surrounding landscape. Here, the Chef and his team are skilled in preparing a range of international flavours, which can be enjoyed alongside kachumbari (traditional Tanzanian salsa), coconut beans, paprika, cinnamon and chilli from nearby Zanzibar. Evenings are spent gathered by the traditional fire pit exchanging stories under starry skies and listening to fascinating tales of wildlife encounters from the passionate guides.

Importantly, the sand-coloured canvas-constructed camp has also been designed to leave as little impact as possible on the environment, casting a lighter ecological shadow.

The Camp’s two set locations throughout the year are based on the migration path offering wildlife viewing from open plains, sweeping grasslands and rocky kopjes. The stars of this seasonal path are wildebeest, zebra, Thomson’s gazelles, and the predators that this migratory journey attracts. The Serengeti is known for having the Big Five; cheetahs are a highlight, along with wild dog, giraffe, waterbuck and impala.

Sanctuary Kichakani Serengeti Camp is located in the Southern Serengeti 

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