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

MEXICO – Yucatan Peninsula & Riviera Maya

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Posted by:

Kirsty Saunders

 

Our colleague at SASPO recently shared her experience along with her photos of her family trip to Mexico. If you are inspired from this blog then please contact us to start your own Mexican adventure.

 

When planning our family holiday destination, this year the compass pointed us to the multi-coloured country of Mexico.  With a 9 year old boy, we concentrated our 2 week trip on the Mayan Riviera and the Yucatan Peninsula, flying in and out of Cancun International Airport with convenient direct flights from the UK and Europe.

With Tulum as our base on the Riviera Maya, we explored ancient Mayan cities and swam in secluded cenotes before venturing inland to the Yucatan Peninsula to Chichen Itza (one of the New Seven Wonders of the World) and to the beautiful colonial city of Merida, ending with beach time on laid back Holbox Island.

As a family trip, Mexico has lots to offer and I wish to share with you my experience and personal input on suggested do’s and don’ts…

Cancun

Flights from Europe generally arrive late afternoon/early evening so I would recommend an overnight stay in Cancun.  We stayed at Beachscape Kin Ha Hotel which is a mid-range hotel just 25 minutes’ transfer from the airport and situated on the best beach in Cancun, facing the turquoise, tranquil Caribbean Sea.

The hotel is low key and offers great value.  Rooms are arranged in blocks set within a tropical garden.  There is a pool-side restaurant and a beach-front restaurant as well as nice communal areas with books and board games to borrow, a pool table and air hockey.  For longer stays there is even a self-service laundry room, ideal when travelling with children.
From the hotel, you can stroll along the beach passing the neighbouring hotels or it’s an easy 10-minute walk to various nearby shopping malls with restaurants, fast food outlets and supermarkets.

Do: take an early morning walk to have the beach to yourself and enjoy the sunrise.

Don’t: change money at your hotel as there are exchange bureaux within a 5 minute walk of your hotel offering a better exchange rate.

Tulum

There is a great range of hotels in Cancun and along the Riviera Maya’s Caribbean coastline to suit every budget – from “unlimited luxury” resorts to small eco boutique hotels.  We stayed in Tulum, 130 km south of Cancun, with a transfer time of around 1½ hours. Tulum and the beaches south of Cancun are suffering at the moment from unsightly sargassum seaweed which gets washed ashore onto the previously pristine shores.   So why stay here and not in Cancun?  Eco-friendly and laid-back, you are much closer to nature and can get away from the crowds.  The archaeological site of Tulum is literally on your doorstep.  Built on a cliff above the sea in honour of the sun, Tulum is the only walled Mayan city to be discovered.

We stayed at the El Pez Colibri boutique hotel where the service was second-to-none.  From the turndown service with tea and chocolates.. to the tray of morning coffee (and hot chocolate for our son) delivered to our room.. to the concierge’s call to our room at 10 pm on our first night to let us know that there was a sea turtle laying her eggs on the sand if we wanted to quietly come and watch.

Close to Tulum, there are gorgeous and easily accessible “cenotes”, natural freshwater pools in the rock – the water is deep and refreshingly cool after the heat of the beaches.  Bring a mask and snorkel (or rent them along with buoyancy vests) and see the fish and turtles swimming in the crystal clear water.  My personal highlight was a visit to the little-visited Muyil archaeological ruins and the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a sprawling protected area and home to tons of wildlife, particularly birds and flamingos.  Here you can take a boat ride through a freshwater lagoon and float down Mayan-built canals through the Yucatan jungle.

Along the Riviera Maya, there are also various eco-parks that make ideal day excursions for families with children.  Xcaret is an eco-archaeological park with its own beach and natural pools as well as a coral reef aquarium, aviary and various shows.  Xel-Ha is another eco-park with a collection of cenotes, lagoons, caves and zip-lines – ideal for families looking for adventure and adrenaline-pumping activities!

Do: visit the Tulum ruins in the evening (between 5-7 pm when the day-trippers have gone home) for picture-perfect views and gorgeous sunsets.

Chichen Itza

A 2-hour drive from Tulum, Chichen Itza is in the heart of the Yucatan. We stayed at the Lodge at Chichen Itza, part of the Mayaland Hotel, set in extensive tropical gardens with towering Royal palm trees.  Within the gardens, there is a planetarium (with various shows each day), a spa and several swimming pools.  In the tropical jungle heat, I recommend an afternoon by the swimming pool where you can spot different birds and huge lizards!

With a private entrance to the ruins from Mayaland Hotel, Chichen Itza can be visited in the early morning before the day visitors arrive and before the heat rises.  A truly magical experience to see the sun rise over the pyramid of “El Castillo”.

Do: take a sunrise tour of the ruins and beat the crowds!

Don’t: try to do too much – it’s hot and humid so take time and relax.

From Chichen Itza,  it’s a two-hour transfer to Mérida and I would recommend a stop at Izamal, a small traditional town with a pretty main square with market and its impressive yellow-painted Convento.  The journey takes you along straight roads passing by small pueblos and Mayan communities and tropical forest.

Mérida is a charming city of wide tree-lined boulevards and historic mansions.  We visited on a Saturday evening which is Noche Mexicana when Paseo de Montejo is closed to traffic and there was a lovely atmosphere with families strolling by and riding bicycles and musical and dance performances.  Paseo de Montejo leads to the pretty downtown area with squares, churches, palm trees and good restaurants and pavement cafés.  Both the Mayan ruins of Uxmal and the Celestún Biosphere Reserve with flocks of flamingos and birdlife are within easy reach for day excursions from Mérida .
We stayed at Hacienda Misne, a beautiful oasis 20 minutes’ drive outside Mérida (one-way taxi to downtown Mérida cost around US$5).  The hacienda is situated in a rather plain suburb but once you step into the walled garden, you’re in another world with tall old trees, hammocks, an outside football table, small gym, two swimming pools with excellent waiter service and a superb restaurant.  The guest rooms are situated in separate buildings lining the perimeter of the walled garden, built in similar style to the original hacienda building with high ceilings and steep roof.

Do: take a walking tour of the city to best appreciate its colonial architecture and fine churches.

Don’t: miss the opportunity to visit the ruins of Uxmal – one of the great showpieces of Mayan architecture.

Holbox

It’s a pleasingly easy journey to the island of Holbox, situated just off the northern tip of the Yucatan peninsula.  From Mérida, it’s a 3½ hour drive along straight roads through the tropical forest to the port of Chiquila.  En route, you can stop at the charming town of Valladolid with its lovely main square and interesting shops.
Valladolid would also make an ideal overnight stop for those who want to stay a little off the beaten track with a lovely colonial style hotel overlooking the square.  From Chiquila, the ferry departs every 30  minutes and takes 20 minutes to cross the water to reach Holbox – all very straightforward with luggage loaded and unloaded quickly and efficiently.  On arrival on Holbox, you are met by the “taxi rank” of golf buggies ready to take you along the sand road to your hotel as very few cars are permitted on the island.

There is a good selection of hotels to choose on Holbox – most are beach-front and “barefoot chic”.  We stayed at Holbox Dreams Beachfront Hotel which is a mid-range hotel.  Guest rooms are simple but attractively decorated with nice touches.  There was no water on a couple of occasions but it came back pretty quickly and is one of the challenges of being on a small island.  The hotel has two small swimming pools which are kept very clean and were lit at night.  Walk through the gardens to reach the beautiful white sand beach with calm, shallow waters ideal for small children and a convenient beach club with restaurant, sun loungers and shade and excellent waiter service.

Holbox is easily walkable (or you can rent bicycles) with a small downtown area with good shops and restaurants.  Our highlight on Holbox was a boat trip to swim with whale sharks.  My initial nerves were swiftly allayed as these gentle giants are shy and docile and the experience of swimming alongside them is quite magical.  Very well organised with experienced and helpful crew and snorkeling equipment and buoyancy vest provided, this is a full day tour with time also to snorkel on the reef and stop for a delicious ceviche lunch on the beach.  I would recommend a 4 or 5 night stay on Holbox.  There are various island tours and if you visit when there is no moon you have the opportunity to see the “Bioluminescence” – the phenomenon where the water on the beach is illuminated by micro-organisms in the sea.
After your stay on Holbox, you can easily make the transfer (ferry + drive) directly to Cancun airport for your flight home as most of the flights back to the UK and Europe depart in the late afternoon/evening.  The transfer time to the airport is around 2 – 2 ½ hours plus the 20 minute ferry crossing.

Do: take a boat trip to swim with the whale sharks – a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Don’t: over-pack – there are some superb restaurants on Holbox but island life is low key and informal.

All our transfers were arranged with a private car and driver with the flexibility to stop for lunch or to pick up water and supplies or change money, or even with time for a quick swim in a cenote en route.
Another option would be to have a rental car and self-drive.  With straight roads passing through low forest and small towns, the peninsula is safe and easy to navigate.

Wishing you all happy planning, and remember that Mexico is not just beach.  There is much more to explore inland and to experience the warmth of the Mexican welcome – travelling with or without children!

 

Find a place so romantic, it will stay a memory forever!

Posted on:
Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Thinking of a Valentines Retreat………♥♥♥♥♥

Why not treat your loved one this year to a romantic long weekend or even a week!!  Here at Experience Holidays we have a very long list of the most romantic getaways that would be sure to sweep your partner off their feet and make Valentine’s day 2020 a special one.

So, whether it’s a long weekend in one of Europe’s’ capitals, such as Venice, or further afield to Lake Malawi’s hidden paradise Nkwichi, with its 8 private beaches lying along a secluded freshwater paradise, we can help you to surprise your loved one with an amazing break.

If you have a special destination in mind, then let us know and we will do our best to make it reality!!

Please contact us for more information or a free quote.

Picture courtesy of Tahiti Tourism

Picture courtesy of Frank Clarke

Picture courtesy of YTL Hotels

Spend some time in Nairobi, Kenya

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Most people that travel to Kenya arrive early in the morning and shoot off on safari or perhaps take a night to recover from their flight before heading out. But it is well worth stopping a few days to explore what this city has to offer.

Nairobi National Park

Even if your visit to Kenya is limited to Nairobi you can still enjoy the country’s spectacular wildlife with a visit to this swath of wilderness just 15 minutes outside the city centre.

The 117 km square of protected space is home to lions, leopard, rhinos, cheetahs, zebras, hippos, gazelle, and a healthy collection of other species including over 400 different types of birds. The park can be easily navigated with a tour where you can explore the savannah and forests too.

At the Athi River hippo pool on the south western edge of the park you can stretch your legs and take a walk accompanied by an armed ranger who will not only protect you from feisty critters but can tell you a bit about what you’re seeing.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Animal Orphanage

Located at the entrance to Nairobi National Park, the orphanage is home to those animals that have been abandoned, confiscated from illegal traffickers or injured and unable to survive in the wild. It is a great place to learn about the different species.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Langata Giraffe Centre
The Langata Giraffe Centre, run by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, is a sanctuary for the rare Rothschilds giraffe. Here you can observe, hand-feed or even kiss the giraffes from a raised circular wooden structure, and it is quite an experience. It’s a good place to get the close-up photographs.

For those of an adventurous nature, you could even stay at the Giraffe Manor for the night and have these wonderful animals as very close neighbours.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenya’s National Museum and Snake Park

If you want to see the stuffed remains of the Man-eaters of Tsavo, or learn about this diverse and fascinating country’s history and geography, then the Museum is a must. You will easily loose half a day here.

In the grounds of the National Museum, there’s a recreated Kikuyu homestead and a Snake Park, where you can see black mambas, snakes of all types, some sad-looking crocodiles and giant dudus (creepy crawlies).

All in all, Nairobi should not be rushed – there is much to see and do here.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

A Little bit of Luxury

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

If you have ever fancied a special luxury adventure cruise, then why not consider adding a True North Cruise to your bespoke Australia itinerary.  A number of exciting itineraries are offered – below are just three of these:

 

The Southern Safari (8 Nights) Adelaide – Ceduna / Adelaide

The is a real safari of the sea and a real adventure for those who like plenty of activities with a touch of luxury.  On this cruise you will stop for a scrumptious lunch at Maggie Beer’s farm, visit the famed Kangaroo Island and beautiful Coffin Bay where you can wash down oysters with champagne.  Then why not get up and close with the Great White Sharks in a cage dive and also take part in some of Australia’s most reliable fishing action, this is  safari with a difference!

Picture courtesy of True North

 

 

Picture courtesy of True North

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEST COAST EXPLORER (10 NIGHTS) Perth – Dampier

Relish in vibrant contrast – the deep blue waters of the Indian Ocean lap the red sands of the ‘north’ as the West Coast Explorer winds its way north from Fremantle to Dampier. The Abrolhos are steeped in history; Ningaloo boasts world-acclaimed marine life and the Montes offer fishing paradise – the ‘West Coaster’ is a sojourn that tames Australia’s still-wild western shores! A must for snorkelers and divers, fishing enthusiasts, and for the adventurous at heart!

Picture courtesy of True North

 

 

 

 

 

Picture courtesy of True North

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CORAL ATOLL CRUISE (5 NIGHTS) Broome – Rowley Shoals – Broome

The Rowley Shoals feature exaggerated corals, mind-blowing fish life and stunning underwater clarity; but perhaps more important than anything else – even today they are visited by only a fortunate few! Guided by a marine biologist and a team of underwater naturalists; divers and snorkelers alike will revel in a diverse wonderland of coral habitats including maze-like lagoons, surging tidal canyons and breath-taking walls. And the keen anglers will match wits with big blue-water pelagics such as black marlin, sailfish, wahoo and yellow-fin tuna. Wander the enticing shores of Bedwell Island, see the rookeries of the red-tailed tropicbird and indulge in a True North favourite – sunset drinks on the beach – 300 kilometres from the shore! The Rowley Shoals are Western Australia’s premiere coral playground!

Picture courtesy of True North

Picture courtesy of True North

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more of our favourite cruises click here or if you would like more information on the amazing True North Cruises then please contact us

Australia’s Great Railway Journey’s – BBC 2

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail

 

If you would like to find out more of what Australia’s railways have to offer then make sure you tune in to BBC 2 at 20:00 on Saturday 26 October to watch Michael Portillo’s Great Australian Railway Journeys.

There will be six episodes starting with The Ghan – Port Augusta to Darwin in episode one.  The other episode we recommend not to miss is episode three The Indian Pacific, but all are great journeys.

These are a couple of our favourite railway journeys in Australia and a fantastic way to see the country.  If you like what you see and would like to know how to corporate a railway journey into your bespoke tailor-made holiday to Australia then please contact us.

 

Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail

Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail

 

Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail

Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail

Picture courtesy of Great Southern Rail

The Pearl of Africa

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Posted by:

Kirsty Saunders

 

Uganda – The Pearl of Africa

It has been brought to our attention that the Ugandan Tourist Board are currently changing their tourism focus. This is an effort to highlight the diversity of their beautiful country, and we thought we’d give them a hand.  Many of you will know Uganda as home to some extraordinary primates, however there is an array of other tourist attractions across the country that definitely deserve a mention. To quote Winston Churchill “The kingdom of Uganda is a fairy-tale. … For magnificence, for variety of form and colour, for profusion of brilliant life – bird, insect, reptile, beast – for vast scale — Uganda is truly the pearl of Africa.”

Wildlife certainly is a big draw for many visitors, and along with primates, Uganda is home to 1061 bird species including the Crested Crane, the Turaco, and the elusive Shoebill.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

This prehistoric looking bird stands five feet tall with its huge distinctive bill.

Along with Africa’s ‘big five’ there is a host of other wildlife, some of which are endemic to Uganda, so a safari is a must!

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

Another opportunity for a animal encounter of a different kind would be to help herd, feed and even milk Uganda’s Ankole Cattle.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

And if you are partial to ‘having a go’ take time to visit the fair-trade tea and coffee plantations and experience the production process first hand.

If prehistoric plants are of interest, Mpanga Gorge in the west is believed to be the largest Cycad colony in the world.  This palm like plant species is believed to have existed before prehistoric times, remaining largely unchanged for 200-300 million years!

We must next draw your attention to Uganda’s water orientated attractions. Uganda is home to ‘Lake Victoria’ the World’s second largest lake, and the source of the magnificent river Nile!  Here there are many activities to embark on such as kayaking, white – water rafting, fishing or take a boat trip.

Finally an interesting fact: Did you know that Uganda provides the opportunity to have one foot in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern Hemisphere? Visit the landmark showing where the equator passes through the country. You will be fascinated to watch a demonstration of how the water drains in opposite directions, depending on which side of the equator you stand!

In order to incorporate all of your preferred activities, you would certainly benefit from a tailor made itinerary. This is where we come in. Africa is one of our specialist countries and our team of experts with first-hand experience can guide you every step of the way.

Contact Us

Explore the Transforming Wildlife Conservation Story of Malawi with Robin Pope

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Malawi’s wildlife suffered from decades of lawlessness and poaching to the point that rhino, cheetah and lion had disappeared from the country. The outlook for the remaining, dwindling wildlife was bleak.

Everything started to change when African Parks took over the running of Majete National Park. In conjunction with Malawi’s National Parks and organisations such as Robin Pope Safaris robust conservation policies were introduced and maintained – to the benefit of the local population, the wildlife and tourists. The return of black rhino, lion and cheetah indicate the healthy state of this Park and the others that African Parks undertook in Malawi – Liwonde and NKhotakota.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

The success in the earlier Parks allowed them to restock Nkotakota with a transfer of 500 elephant and other herbivore species in 2016 and 2017 – the largest translocation of elephants anywhere.

If you would like to see this remarkable transformation get in touch and ask about joining Robin Pope’s Conservation Malawi Safari. This takes you to the three most important and impressive Parks in Malawi and with a minimum of three nights at each you have a wonderful chance to see the revival for yourselves. Please Contact us for more information.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

Have you considered Western Australia?

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Posted by:

Kirsty Saunders

 

With 12,500 km’s of stunning coastline, 550 species of birds, 12,000 species of wildflowers, and just a little short of 2 million people, Western Australia is a destination in its own right, and without a doubt, Australia’s best kept secret.  With the Indian Ocean lapping the western shores, and the Southern Ocean to the South, the state of Western Australia quite literally smothers the western end of the vast country of Australia.  Perth is the gateway, the major city, and home to a large number of the total population of WA (1.4 million actually which doesn’t leave many for the rest of the State!).

View of the city from Kings Park. Photo courtesy of Nick Walker

Perth has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. It is the sunniest capital city in Australia! Perth is a modern city with a good choice of internationally recognised hotels and apartments. The shopping is good, the city is clean and friendly, and the surrounding wine regions stunning. It boasts the scenic Swan river with its famous black swans, nearby hectares of natural bushland in Kings Park, beautiful beaches, whales, dolphins and the little Quokka on Rottnest Island (a protected nature reserve). It is not too difficult to see why Perth is a popular lifestyle city.

Rottnest Island – photo courtesy of Nick Walker

Quokka – Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

Perth is the hub, the starting point to explore the rest of Western Australia, and whilst it is possible to visit several places of interest outside Perth on a day trip – for some of these places the distances are huge, with day excursions leaving early in the morning and returning late in the evening.

As far as day trips are concerned once you have cruised along the Swan river to Fremantle and spent a day or two at Rottnest Island, you could consider a trip to Rockingham. Here you can swim with the wild dolphins with or visit as a spectator to see these beautiful animals in their natural environment. They are not fed or made to perform, they simply come because they enjoy human interaction.

If you hire a car, not too far outside the city you can visit Yanchep National Park, where you can enjoy nature-based activities, you will find caves, the Koala boardwalk (home to a colony of Koalas), and a tree adventure park for the kids, with ziplines and rope walks. You are also likely to see wild black cockatoos as well as other parrots and possibly kangaroos too!

A venture out to the famous Cottesloe beach is another day trip to consider. This pretty beach looking out across the Indian ocean boasts beautiful white sand and numerous cafes and bars. In the evening enjoy beautiful sunsets and watch the Rainbow Lorikeets as they come in their hundreds to roost in the pine trees.

Another suggestion is a trip out to the Pinnacles. This will be a long day but worth it. The Pinnacles are limestone formations found within an otherworldly desert landscape in Nambung National Park. An extraordinary site and a great photographic opportunity! You could make this a stop en route if you were driving along the west coast.

The Pinnacles – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

South of Perth will take you into the Margaret River wine regions of the south west, well worth exploring. There are day trips available if you are using Perth as your base, or you could stop by for a few days. A must see for any visitor to the Margaret River region is Busselton with its heritage listed Jetty. The longest wooden-piled jetty in the Southern Hemisphere it extends over Geographe Bay for 1.8 kilometres. You can take a leisurely train ride down the jetty to the underwater observatory at the end, where you can experience one of Australia’s greatest artificial reefs. Bunbury is also a great place to stop with its basalt rock formations and where bottlenose dolphins visit close to the shore.

Busselton Jetty – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

If you continue around the south western tip of Australia, the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean,  you would discover the beautiful rugged coastline of Albany and its natural wonders ‘The Gap’ and the ‘Natural Bridge’. The first European settlement in Western Australia, see Albany’s colonial architecture and the historic whaling station – now a museum.

The Natural Bridge – photo courtesy of Nick Walker

Albany – photo courtesy of Nick Walker

Whilst you are in this region visit Denmark with its wineries, and the remarkable Treetop Walk  ‘valley of the giants’  in Walpole -Nornalup National Park. The Ariel walkway is 40 metres above the ground amongst the canopy of huge Red Tingle and Karri trees, which are unique to this area.

Tree Top Walk – photo courtesy of Nick Walker

Whilst you are in this neck of the woods we can recommend another wonderful way to spend your day, which is to take an Eco cruise boat trip around the secluded inlets of Walpole and Nornulup. This wilderness is a very special place, a naturalist’s paradise and a real hidden gem.

Continuing along the southern coast of WA, you will reach Esperance. Here you will find beaches amongst the finest and whitest anywhere in the world. Offshore, Fur Seals and Sealions shelter on the islands of the Recherche Archipelago. You can take a scenic flight to see the surreal ‘pink’ lake Hillier on Middle Island.

Esperance – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

Heading inland from Perth, head to the Outback town of Kalgoorlie. Originally founded during the gold rush of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, this little town has thrived and continues to mine the precious ore from the Super Pit.  Make sure you take the drive up to the viewing platform for views of one of the biggest holes you will ever see!!

Wave Rock – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

Or by taking a different route inland discover the little town of Hyden, famous for the Wave Rock!  You could combine the two if you made it part of a self-drive route.

If you drive North from Perth, along this remote coast, you will eventually reach Kalbarri (which would take over 6 hours). You can drive through the Kalbarri National Park and see the spectacular Murchison Gorges and take the opportunity to go on a river cruise on the Murchison River. Kalbarri is a delightfully unpretentious fishing village at the mouth of the River, with several simple but wholesome restaurants. As with each community on this route, the locals are genuine, friendly, welcoming and very typically Australian – proud of their country and their heritage without any brashness. Drive to Shark Bay from here and the dolphins at Monkey Mia.  Shark Bay is another gem; pristine coastline, dolphins and dugongs by the dozen and a delightful lack of tourists.

Monkey Mia – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

It’s another 5 hours drive from here to Ningaloo Reef via Coral Bay.  Coral Bay is a remote and secluded treasure, and second only to the Great Barrier Reef itself. This area is not inundated with tourists and it does not have a huge choice of international resorts and accommodation and but there are some excellent fish restaurants!

Ningaloo Reef – photo courtesy of Tourism Australia

The bay itself is contained within the Ningaloo Reef which offers it perfect protection from the ocean outside.  Here, glass bottomed boats take you to view the coral, whilst longer expeditions will take you further afield, skilfully negotiating the narrow channels through the reef. The Ningaloo Reef is little brother to the Great Barrier Reef.  Closer into the shore, it is easily accessible to all. 500 species of fish are to be found here, plus sharks, enormous manta rays, turtles and dugongs – there is always something to see:

March to May – Coral spawning

March to June – Whale Sharks

June to November – Manta Ray

June/July to October/November – Humpback Whales

November to March – Turtle nesting and hatching.

However long you plan to stay here will probably not be long enough. You could fly to Exmouth in order to visit Coral Bay and Ningaloo Reef if you weren’t planning on driving.

Finally, another destination that you must consider is The Kimberleys, three times the size of England straddling the states of Western Australia and Northern Territories, The Kimberleys offer a perfect location for ‘getting away from it all’ – literally!!  Broome is the major gateway to this region of canyons and gorges and freshwater swimming holes.  Plan the timing of your visit carefully, avoiding the cyclone season when many roads are impassable due to flooding.  Out of the cyclone season, the adventurous traveller will find gorges and rock formations to rival those anywhere in the world. Consider a small group escorted tour here, using 4WD vehicles and a mixture of camping and motel accommodation – this area will leave an indelible mark on your memory. A visit to this region would certainly involve an internal flight, either directly from Perth or from another location during your travels around Western Australia.

There are many options for exploring WA and if you want to see it all, a combination of driving and air would be best.

Contact us to help you put together your tailor-made Western Australia itinerary.

 

 

 

 

 

Some ideas of places you can still visit this year.

Posted on:
Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Costa Rica

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

December is a great time to visit Costa Rica. Here you will find one of South America’s largest cloud forests, Monteverde, with its evergreen canopies, exotic birds, butterflies and a host of other wildlife. There are numerous national parks and wildlife spotting opportunities, waterfalls, rain forests and volcanoes!

There really is so much to see and do here: visit Arenal Volcano, hike through the lava fields, go birdwatching, bathe in the hot springs, zip-lining and trekking through the rainforest.  This is an ideal place for a family holiday, and when you are feeling less adventurous you could spend time on the many beautiful beaches such as the golden sands of Manuel Antonio National Park.  Click here for your Costa Rica Adventure.

Picture Courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

Hawaii, USA

For some winter sun, Hawaii has it all. With its golden sands, turquoise waters and a tropical feel, you could have a very different Christmas this year, spent on the beach!

Take a trip out to see the whales and dolphins. Snorkelling is a popular activity here and a great place for this is the partially submerged volcanic creator off Maui’s southwest coast. Here there is a thriving coral reef with an array of marine life to spot.

On land you could hike Kauai’s forest trails to the hidden waterfalls, or go island hopping on a small plane for more adventure in the glorious winter sunshine.

Picture courtesy of Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB) Kirk Lee Aeder

Picture courtesy of Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB) Larry Marshall

 

 

Whistler, Canada

Picture courtesy of Destination BC – Blake Jorgenson

This very popular ski resort is definitely one for the ski lovers bucket list.  The snow is in abundance throughout the winter months, making the chalets look picturesque, with tree lined streets  and twinkling lights.

There are no end of activities to take part in such as, dog sledding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and hiking the trails up Blackcomb Mountain stopping off for a fondue dinner at the top.  Or on a Sunday night you can watch skiers and snowboarders pulling tricks with fire for a bit of live entertainment.

Picture courtesy of Destination BC – Blake Jorgenson

Picture courtesy of Destination BC – Blake Jorgenson

 

Vietnam

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Our winter is a popular time to visit South East Asia as there is very little rain and the days are sunny.  Stay at one of Vietnams beach resorts, surrounded by tropical rainforest and fishing boats hauled up on the beach, for a bit of relaxation.

See the water lilies and flower fields begin to bloom, which are then picked to decorate the temples and shrines.  Any cultural seeker would love Vietnam. It has a thousand-year-old civilisation and a fascinating history. Wander through the streets of the Hanoi Old Quarter or Hoi An Old Town to get a glimpse of the French architecture mixing with the ancient and modern temples. See one of our Vietnam bespoke itineraries.

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Zambezi Queen and Chobe Princess Collection

Posted on:
Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

If you’re thinking of planning an African adventure then why not add in a few days on a luxury houseboat, where you can experience the park and the animals from a different vantage point. Here you will be able to observe hippos, crocodiles and a mind-boggling array of water birds in their natural environment, from the safety of the boat in a more relaxing way of viewing.

The Zambezi Queen offers luxury accommodation with 14 luxury suites, 10 standard suites and 4 spacious master suites. All have outside decking so you can enjoy the uninterrupted views of the Chobe River and landscape which is in Northern Botswana, alongside the Caprivi Strip and Chobe National Park.

Picture courtesy of Zambezi Queen Collection.

Picture courtesy of Zambezi Queen Collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture courtesy of Zambezi Queen Collection.

Picture courtesy of Zambezi Queen Collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or you can choose the smaller luxury houseboat, Chobe princess with much fewer cabin suites and an upstairs deck for viewing and relaxing. The Chobe Princess fleet has recently refurbished, so if your thinking of booking during the month of October 2019 you could take advantage of their last-minute special offer with discounted rates.

Picture courtesy of Zambezi Queen Collection.

Picture courtesy of Zambezi Queen Collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture courtesy of Zambezi Queen Collection.

Picture courtesy of Zambezi Queen Collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would rather travel between November 2019 and March 2020 you could get a free night added to your 3 – 4 night itinerary on any of the Zambezi Collection.

For more information in planning your bespoke, tailor made holiday to Africa, please contact us.

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