• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton
    Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

Escape to Canada’s Maritime Provinces

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Vicki Tester

 

Think of visiting an area of Canada that is really quite close to the UK – a 6 hour flight from London brings you to the compact little city of Halifax Nova Scotia and from here opens up a wealth of just about everything one possibly want of a holiday.

Nova Scotia is one of four Atlantic Provinces – the others being Newfoundland (and Labrador), New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.  Each Province has its own trademark and its difficult to decide which is the best!

The overwhelming feature that binds all four together are their people – there are few places in the world where one would feel truly comfortable talking to anyone and everyone, from the assistant in the fuel station, to the waiter at your table, from the fisherman tending his nets, to the keeper of the little craft shops that line the roadside, from the casual passer by, to the person sitting on the next table in the pub.

NS Lunenburg Harbour Fall

Picture courtesy of Kelley Keefe Atlantic Canada Holiday

Let’s add in a second feature – music! These Maritime Provinces were settled in the 17th Century by the Scots, the Irish, the English and French.  There were ensuing battles between the French and the English, mostly it seems to secure the fishing rights of the Grand Banks. The Scots and the Irish brought with them their very distinct brand of Celtic music, bagpipes, fiddles – the whole nine yards – and today, ceilidhs and concerts abound in most villages.  Music is the very life blood of these areas, and its not uncommon to see a fiddle casually laid on the side just in case someone fancies a little tune.

The seafood in the Maritimes is, without doubt, the best in the world. So fresh, and so delicious.  If you have never tasted lobster – this is the place to do it.  In the early days of these Provinces, lobster was caught in such abundance that it was eaten much as we might eat mince. It was not regarded as a delicacy or a treat at all.

One of the key features is the landscape itself. From the richly wooded interior with Autumn colours to rival anything New England can offer, to the rugged Highlands of Cape Breton Island, from the quaint farmlands and gorgeous beaches of Prince Edward Island to the fly-fishing opportunities of the Miramichi River in New Brunswick and the Margaree River on Cape Breton Island.  From the extraordinary geology that has created Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, to the extraordinary sight of icebergs the size of apartment blocks.  This is an ancient land, sculpted by the forces of plate tectonic movement, ice and the mighty ocean.  What remains is a variety and depth of experiences that rivals anything in the world.

Explore Canada’s best kept secret for yourself, and return a reformed and enlightened being, with the ability to smile at everyone, chat with anyone that cares to chat back.

A quick call or email starts your journey to Atlantic Canada please contact us.

Picture courtesy of Kelley Keefe Atlantic Canada Holiday

NL Western Brook Pond Fjord.

Picture courtesy of Kelley Keefe Atlantic Canada Holiday

A Hidden Gem in Botswana

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Vicki Tester

 

The Mashatu Game Reserve, in the Tuli Block, Botswana has a wealth of experiences to offer the adventurous traveller and has just become easier to get there. They now sponsor connecting flights from Johannesburg and Maun every Wednesday and Saturday. Just one hour from Johannesburg has you landing in “the Land of the Giants”.

The name comes from the locally revered Mashatu Tree that frame the Limpopo River, the big herds of elephants and iconic baobab trees. You have the choice of staying in a lodge or tented camp, both with active waterholes that will keep you entertained. The guides also offer you different ways of experience Africa unchanged.

 

Picture courtesy of Jackie Appleton

Picture courtesy of Jackie Appleton

 

You can opt for the traditional game drive in 4×4, take to a mountain bike for a closer contact with the wild or perhaps go for the walking safari with sleep outs. Whichever way you choose your guide will ensure your safety, comfort and tailor the safari to the fitness of those involved. For those that are competent horse riders then there is the chance to ride along with the plains animals.

For lovers of history then there is evidence of pre-historic man, the Great Zimbabwe period and the more modern times of colonial rule through to now. Find out from the locals with a trip to a nearby village to learn about life in the Tuli Block.

A different African experience within an hour of one the hub airports of Africa, Johannesburg. For more information please contact us.

Picture courtesy of Jackie Appleton

Picture courtesy of Jackie Appleton

Picture courtesy of Jackie Appleton

 

The Best of Madagascar….

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Madagascar is the Earth’s fourth largest island, geographically isolated for some 80 million years. It is known to Westerners today as one of the most species-rich places on the planet, it is also one of the world’s most humanly impoverished countries. Madagascar holidays are best spent exploring the island, visiting the attractions, shopping and trying the many activities available here such as snorkelling, fishing, kayaking, bird watching and so much more…..

Some of the must do’s are………………

 

 

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Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

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Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whale Watching
Every year between July and September, Baie d’Antongil, just south of Maroantsetra, is the site of the migration of hundreds of humpback whales. The whales make their way from the Antarctic northward to the warmer waters around Baie d’Antongil, where they spend the winter months breeding and birthing before the long journey back to Antarctica.

Underwater Beauty
Diving in Madagascar is a real treat; the warm Indian Ocean is attractive to both people and marine life. In these turquoise waters diver can see up to 30m ahead. And what a sight awaits you! A dazzling variety of pristine coral reef, as well its many colourful inhabitants like tropical fish and the rare turtles are a definate highlight. The best times are between December and April. For snorkelling, Nosy Tanikely is great and for diving Tulear, Nosy Be and Sainte Marie are ideal! Either way snorkelling or diving in Madagascar is something that shold not be missed.

Exploring on Foot
Hiking is one of the best ways to explore any area, and in Madagascar it’s probably one of the best ways to experience the magic of this often overlooked holiday destination. The Andringitra Mountains, located in the South East of Madagascar, are a breathtaking feast for the eyes. When hiking you can expect to see many natural wonders. The Andringitra National Park boasts an impressive assortment of wildlife. Over 100 species of birds, 54 species of mammals including lemurs and bats, as well as many reptile species call this area home. The higher lying areas of the park are blanketed by tropical rainforest. The lower lying areas are home to some local settlements. Hiking is the only way to reach the more remote areas of the Andringitra national park. Few hikers attempt to summit the impressive 2600m peak, but the surrounding area is so beautiful its well worth a try!

 

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Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

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Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glimpsing the flying beauty

Madagascar’s uniqueness is legendary and this is well reflected in its birds. Of the 280 species known from the island, an incredible 100 plus are entirely endemic to Madagascar and a further 20 or so are shared only with neighbouring South West Indian Ocean islands. Some of the best spots to observe the water birds are along the remote areas of the western and south western coast such as Lake Tsimanampetsotsa. For anyone who loves bird watching then this is an amazing getaway and a truly fantastic destination.

So if Madagascar sounds like that place for you or you would like to build your own bespoke, tailor made holiday with any of the above included, please contact us on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Holidays Closer to Home

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Vicki Tester

 

Did you know we also offer holidays closer to home?

Whether it is a short break to a classic European city or a week in the Mediterranean sunshine we can help you create your perfect holiday.

We work with a variety of well established companies giving us the ability to offer our clients a wide choice of destinations including the Channel Islands, Croatia, Greece, Iceland and Spain, to name but a few. If a journey on the Orient Express or a cruise along the Norwegian Fjords on an expedition ship is more your cup of tea we can help you plan all of these amazing trips.

Our expert staff can create the perfect holiday tailored to your own personal requirements, arranging travel by any combination of air, rail, car or ferry. So, if you are considering a holiday nearer to home this year please do get in touch so we can start planning your next trip.

Contact us here

Picture courtesy of Sue Riggs

Picture courtesy of Sue Riggs

Picture courtesy of Sue Riggs

Picture courtesy of Sue Riggs

 

Tijara Beach – Kenya Coast

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Tijara Beach has a Certificate of Excellence from Tripadvisor. As this is an award that is solely in the hands of their clients, it reflects the outstanding service and location of one of our favourite places on the Kenya Coast.
There is an belief that the Kenya Coast is all about big hotels and busy beaches, but Tijara (and others we know about) can give you an experience second to none for a tropical beach holiday.

If you like wildlife and have been on a safari, then a few days unwinding at Tijara will be the perfect end to a holiday to remember. It is not just lazying on the beach as you can join a guide to show you the colourful coral and fish on the reef and explore the caves on the coral headlands.
A day trip to Mombasa is always interesting and if you need to top up your wildlife viewing, then a day or two at the Shimba Hills National Park will give you another chance to see the animals, birds and flora of the region.
With only 4 double rooms, Tijara fills quickly, so get in touch now on Tel: 01232 446550 or Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

 

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Caves – courtesy of Tijara Beach

Kenya – the ultimate safari destination!

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Vicki Tester

 

The word ‘safari’ is synonymous with Kenya, and with good reason. Not only was it the first safari destination for tourists, but it’s also one of the best with phenomenal game viewing opportunities, breath-taking landscapes and fascinating people. Combine this with the soft white sands and turquoise seas of the coast, and you have the perfect recipe for an unforgettable holiday.

With such a fantastic reputation, it’s easy to think that Kenya would be expensive and in truth, there are certainly some luxurious, exclusive options that don’t come cheap. However, there are also options for those keen for the exclusive experience, but without the exclusive price tag.

Our partner in Kenya offers two excellent Adventure Camps, which bring all the benefits of staying in a Wildlife Conservancy teeming with animals but at a small fraction of the price that you’d normally pay to stay at the main, more luxurious camps. All activities are included and conducted at the same standard as is in the main camps.

Their conservancies are vast areas of pristine wildlife-filled terrain where you enjoy day and night game drives in 4×4 vehicles, bush meals and guided walks and stay in comfortable small and exclusive camps. Here guests can observe the wildlife – including elephants and all the Big Cats – where the animals are completely safe, in their natural environment and in a near exclusive setting. No Crowds.

Picture courtesy of Gamewatchers Safaris

The Adventure Camps are designed for those for whom the wildlife safari experience is more important than the accommodation and who are prepared to sleep in basic tents – 10 feet square and 6 feet tall – with sleeping bags and a foam mattress on the floor. (Private safari shower and flush wc are behind each tent). All meals are included, prepared by the camp cook. Mineral water is provided in camp and on game drives and the camp bar has wine, beer and soft drinks available for sale at reasonable prices. The Adventure Camps ensure you get all the premium activities and game-viewing normally associated with only the most expensive camps and lodges but at a fraction of the price.

A six night safari with three nights in Selenkay Conservancy (Amboseli region) and three nights in Ol Kinyei Conservancy (Maasai Mara) starts at £1755.00 per person sharing in the peak season for 2018. The single tent supplement is just £108.00. Prices include Full Board accommodation, flights from and back to Nairobi, day and night game drives in 4×4 vehicles, a visit to Amboseli National Park or the Maasai Mara National Reserve, all Conservancy fees and educational nature walks with Maasai guides. These camps are open between July and October – spaces are limited as the camps are small and personal, so please do give us a call to enquire!

Picture courtesy of Gamewatchers Safaris

Prices are subject to availability and change. International flights are not included – there are plenty of airlines offering flights between London and Nairobi, some direct and others with a stop en route. For information on international flights, please do let us know your preferred dates and we can provide a price for the most appropriate option.

Consider also spending time in Nairobi prior to the tour, and perhaps time on the coast at the end to relax – anything is possible!

For more information on putting together your own bespoke tailor made Africa Safari please call us on Tel:01323 446550 or email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

 

Platinum Pebble – Top 10 Things to do in Provincetown, Cape Cod, USA

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Vicki Tester

 

One of our favourite boutique inn’s Platinum Pebble based in Cape Cod USA has sent us their list of the top 10 things to do whilst visiting them which we would like to share with you:-

TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN

Provincetown is high energy, great people and people watching, and authentic Cape Cod.  While it is only an hour from the Platinum Pebble Boutique Inn it can feel worlds away at times!  Welcome to one of the best spots on Earth, Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod.

 

Cape Cod

Photos courtesy of Mike Sankey

Photo courtesy of Mike Sankey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#1 THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN, EAT!

RESTAURANTS IN PROVINCETOWN

Photo provided by The Canteen

Provincetown is known for being a foodie town.  A number of great chefs started their careers here probably due in part to P’town always having been on the edge.  Think Anthony Bourdain and most recently Michele Ragussis.  You are unlikely to go wrong on your journey for outstanding food in Provincetown with everything from treats and sweets to fine dining.  As you enjoy big views, great boutiques, people, and energy do so with something you can only find on Cape Cod in your hand.  That could be a malasadas from the Portuguese Bakery or a Lobster Roll like only The Canteen can do.  We hope you enjoy discovering one of the best things to do in Provincetown, eating your way through a bucket list vacation!  Stay tuned for some of our favorite foodie stops and a couple do not miss eateries.

#2 THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN, RIDE!

PROVINCELANDS BIKE TRAIL

Picture courtesy of Platinum Pebble

Built when codes may have been a bit more lenient, the Provincelands Bike Trail is an incredible path through the dunes that surround the tip of Cape Cod.  Big hills, tunnels, shifting sand, and sharp turns make this an exhilarating way to see parts of Cape Cod most people miss.  Be careful, of course always wear a helmet, and slow down on turns to safely enjoy this amazing bike trail.  Experience at least 3 distinct ecosystems as you peddle your way around this 6 mile loop.   Take up to three different short spurs out to beaches and ponds and enjoy discovering part of what makes Cape Cod one of the best places on Earth.  Click here for more information on the Provinceland Bike Trails.

#3 THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN, SHOP!

COMMERCIAL STREET

Picture courtesy of Platinum Pebble

If you are looking for things to do in Provincetown, you can’t miss Commercial Street.  It is the tiny two lane Main Street that runs down Provincetown’s shoreline.  Just off the water are some of the best boutique shops, eclectic art studios, tattoo parlors, foodie stops, and pure history.  There is no doubt that you will enjoy the creative, colorful, people that make P’town home.  Click to read more about a Day Trip to Provincetown | Candy for the Senses.

#4 THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN, EMPTY YOUR BUCKET LIST!

WHALE WATCH

Photo from video footage taken by Captain Darren Saletta

This is a bucket list item for many and there is no better place to Whale Watch then right off Provincetown, on Cape Cod.  Multiple whale species make this their home for part of the year and almost every Whale Watch sees whales.  They are there and the captains know how to find them.  Experience the joy of these majestic giants, seemingly within arm’s reach.  If you are staying at the Platinum Pebble Boutique Inn, it is as easy as letting us know you are interested in a Whale Watch and we will have tickets waiting for you.  We are here to help you empty your bucket list one great experience at a time.  Click to read more about Cape Cod Whale Watching.

#5 THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN, TOUR!

ART’S DUNE TOURS

Picture courtesy of Platinum Pebble

Tour the dunes of the Provincelands in comfort with Art’s Dune Tours.  Family owned and operated since the 1940s, this is a rare chance to drive through the dunes that make this area so special.  Add in a beach bake at sunset and you are living like a local on Cape Cod!  Affordable and worth the time, this is an experience that will stay with you.  See some of the dune shacks that were built and inhabited by everyone from shipwrecked sailors to artists.

#6 THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN, LIGHT IT UP!

LIGHTHOUSES

Picture courtesy of Platinum Pebble

There are three lighthouses that surround the tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown.  They are Long Point Light, Wood End Light, and Race Point Light.  Each one is a decent hike to get to but, not too difficult.  The shortest hike will take you to Wood End Light just across the Breakers.  The same architecture carries across Long Point and Wood End, with subtle differences.  Race Point Light is a pretty decent hike and is amazing in its isolation and the spectacular beauty of its surroundings.  Click for more information on Cape Cod Lighthouses.

#7 THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN, BIRD’S EYE VIEW!

PILGRIM MONUMENT

Picture courtesy of Platinum Pebble

For one of the best views on Cape Cod, make the easy climb to the top of the Pilgrim Monument.  The whole Cape seems to stretch out underneath you and gives a much different perspective to this amazing spot.  See if you can spot Commercial Street, the Whale Watch boats, Art’s Dune tours, the three lighthouses that surround P’town, your new favorite beach, and the bike trail that winds through the dunes.

#8 THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN, RELAX!

PROVINCETOWN BEACHES

Picture courtesy of Platinum Pebble

Enjoy relaxing on some of the most beautiful beaches on Earth, in Provincetown.  Whether you choose to play on some of the more popular beaches like Herring Cove or Race Point or discover some of the more isolated and private beaches, you will be blown away by the natural beauty that surrounds you.   The further out you go past Race Point’s parking area, either East or West will take you to some pretty isolated areas.  Experience authentic Cape Cod on some of these amazing beaches in Provincetown.

#9 THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN

HIKE

Picture courtesy of Platinum Pebble

Discover the Dune Shacks Trail and see more of real Cape Cod that will keep you coming back.  Easy access off Route 6 at the Old Snail Road junction will take you through a short stretch of woods and to a mighty sand hill that leads you up and out of the surrounding forest.  The sand stretches off into the distance, up and down rolling dunes, to the ocean about a mile or two away.  As you get closer to the coast you spot what look like little houses, you’ve discovered the dune shacks of the Provincelands.  These are the same dune shacks that were built from the wreckage of shipwrecks and have housed everyone from wrecked sailors to artists over the years.  Click to read more about the Dune Shacks of Provincetown.

STAY TUNED FOR #10 THINGS TO DO IN PROVINCETOWN, PARTY!

 

If you would like more information on any of the above or to include Platinum Pebble part of you own bespoke tailor made holiday then please give us a call on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Namibia – A Wonderful Destination

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Namibia

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Not so long ago Namibia seemed to be on the TV all the time and it was a destination that many were considering (and some went). But it seems to have slipped in to the background now.

Personally, Namibia is one of my favourite destinations in the world and have managed to go there 13 times in the last few years, I cannot wait to get back there again soon. And this from someone who was born and grew up in Kenya (still one of my favourite destinations).

So what makes this country so special? For me it is the huge contrasts in so many areas of life, wildlife and scenery. It starts with the fact that there are 4 deserts to visit and each one is distinct from the others. Visiting all four is a holiday in its own right and all the geographic sights in between each make you wish you had paid more attention in the Geography class at school. If deserts are not your thing, then the lush river country in the north of Namibia should tempt you.

Namibia

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

The wildlife is stunning, varied and often set against amazing backdrops. Seeing first the head, then the neck and then the body of a giraffe emerging through the heat haze of the Etosha Pan is interesting to say the least. Looking for elusive desert adapted elephants and rhino in Damaraland is truly exciting. Getting up close and personal with a seal in Walvis Bay or following otters along the river in the Caprivi Strip is another experience to be talked about when you get home.

But it is the people that truly make Namibia a holiday that should be on your list. The chance to meet Himba and San people in their own backyard and without the feeling of over stepping the line is always interesting. But you are going to be welcomed by almost everyone you meet, no matter what tribe or place in society – they are genuinely a welcoming nation who enjoy having visitors in their country.

So move Namibia to the top of your agenda and give me a call to discuss how, when and where to go on Email: peter@experienceholidays.co.uk or Tel: 01323 446550

You could also visit our Namibia webpage to see some of our suggested itineraries.

 

Namibia

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Bear Watching Lodge – British Columbia

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Bear Watching at Great Bear Lodge

Picture courtesy of Great Bear Nature Tours.

 

One of our favourite places for bear watching is bringing a new floating lodge in to commission this year. Great Bear Tours are located on a beautiful salmon river in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Colombia, Canada and has featured on BBC programmes about bears and their environment.

The new lodge is a floating one and will have larger rooms with en suite facilities for their few, lucky clients. During the autumn when bear viewing – fishing for salmon – is at its height the lodge is host to just 16 clients. For the rest of the year the number of visitors are limited to 10 making this a very exclusive experience.

They have also 2 new bear viewing sites and to see how close you could be to these wonderful animals view some of their clips on their website www.greatbeartours.com.

Bear Watching at Great Bear Lodge

Picture courtesy of Great Bear Nature Tours.

 

Bear viewing, both grizzly and black, can go ahead during the spring and summer and the wilderness is home to many other animals, including wolves, deer and a host of birds.

This is “must” for lovers of bears but because numbers are limited it does need booking well in advance. If you are interested or want more information, then get in touch on Tel: 01323 446550 or  Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

 

Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

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Treble Cone, The View – Picture Courtesy of Lake Wanaka Tourism.

With more of our clients heading to New Zealand for their holidays, it is worth mentioning some of the lesser known attractions that would fit in well with your tour. One such place is Lake Wanaka which should certainly be considered for your itinerary. As you leave the exciting west coast of South Island and head inland, Lake Wanaka will tempt you to stay a night or two at least.

Surrounded by the Southern Alps, which in the Southern Hemisphere winter makes Lake Wanaka one of the best skiing destinations, every view has a rugged mountain as a back drop. They also offer some wonderful hiking venues of differing difficulty and duration. If you would rather take the weight off your feet on your adventure, then consider a guided horse ride or quad bike tour.

The Lake itself also offers a wealth of activities such as kayaking, stand up paddling and sailing and it is a great location to just to relax with stunning views in every direction.

So why not talk to us about your New Zealand itinerary and how to include time at Lake Wanaka. Having travelled this far for your holiday, it pays to talk to an expert to ensure you do not miss any of the key attractions.

Take a look at our webpage for our New Zealand itinerary ideas or contact us direct on Tel: 01323 446550 or email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka – Picture courtesy of Jim Bell

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