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

The Great Barrier Reef – The ‘Great Eight’

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Posted by:

Amanda Skingle

 

Picture Credit Lady Elliott Island Eco Resort

Picture Credit Lady Elliott Island Eco Resort

Africa has the ‘Big Five’…The Great Barrier Reef has the ‘Great Eight’

Here you will find eight iconic residents of this fantastic underwater eco-system which until you have seen them all, really means you haven’t seen the Great Barrier Reef at all.

Whales, Manta Rays, Clown Fish, Turtles, Potato Cod, Giant Clams, Maori Wrasse and of course Sharks.

The largest coral reef system in the world is their home. Some might migrate here, some might travel along its length and some stay in exactly the same place all of their lives.

They range in size from 18cms long right up to 18 metres long and are the ‘heroes’ of the reef.

To put it in perspective how wonderful diving the reef is you can spend about an hour in the water on an average snorkel or dive. That dive site changes with the tides, during daytime and night and throughout the seasons so what you see in one half of the day can be totally different in the other.

You could visit exactly the same site every day for a year and always see different things there….so if you think you’ve seen ALL OF the Great Barrier Reef…think again.

So, if you would love to dive off into another world to find the reefs great eight then let us help you make it part of your very own bespoke, tailor made holiday to Australia all you have to do is contact us on 01323 446550 email info@experienceholidays.co.uk or click on the contact us link on our home page.

Picture Credit Tourism & Events Queensland

Picture Credit Tourism & Events Queensland


Picture Credit Tourism & Events Queensland

Picture Credit Tourism & Events Queensland

Great Rail Journeys of the World

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

We are often asked what and where is the best rail journey in the world? So in answer to this we have detailed below some of our must do Great Rail Journeys of the World:

  • Consider the luxury rail experience offered by the Eastern and Oriental Express, operating between Singapore and Bangkok and taking two or three nights depending on the direction of travel. Enjoy vistas of tea plantations, rolling farmland, colonial cities and historic temples.
  • Take a rail journey in Vietnam, from the bustling city of Hanoi to the village of Sapa, located in the mountains overlooking spectacular views of the Ta Van valley’s terraced rice fields. The train operates overnight in both directions.
  • Think about the super-fast Shinkansen ‘Bullet Train’ in Japan. There are a number of routes on offer, but no trip to Japan is complete without at least one trip in the iconic Bullet Train.
Picture courtesy of JNTO

Picture courtesy of JNTO

 There are three iconic rail journeys available in New Zealand, one on the North Island, and two on the South.

  • On the North Island, the Northern Explorer runs from Auckland to Wellington through diverse countryside comprising of rolling farmland, towering viaducts and beautiful hidden valleys.
  • On the South Island, the Tranz Alpine train runs from Christchurch in the east to Greymouth in the west through stunning scenery. A stop is made in the small mountain town of Arthur’s Pass, where a stay enables a closer inspection of this Alpine region.  The Coastal Pacific runs from Picton (tying in perfectly with the ferry from Wellington on the NorthIsland)  south to Christchurch. This rail journey stops in Kaikoura en route, where a stay gives the opportunity to take a whale watching cruise.

 

  • An impressive and popular rail journey on the Devil’s Nose section of railway in Ecuador could be a part of your holiday itinerary.  Named Devil’s Nose due to the many deaths amongst workers as well as difficulty of building it, the route connects the Alausi and Sibambe stations taking a stunning trip down the rocky slopes of the Andes through breath-taking scenery.
  • Board the tourist train in Peru taking you on a journey through the Urubamba Valley or Sacred Valley of the Incas, to the marvellous mountaintop ruins of Machu Picchu.
  • One of the more popular rail routes is the Coast Starlight which takes you along the west coast between Seattle and Los Angeles stopping in Portland along the way. Why not take a day out of your itinerary to treat yourself by taking a trip on the Napa Valley Wine Train where you can relax on-board the exquisitely restored vintage rail cars and experience fine dining service, multiple course meals and the stunning Napa Valley scenery. Most people see the Grand Canyon from the skies but since 1901 the Grand Canyon Railway has been taking people right through the heart of this amazing place and you could be one of them, you’ll feel like you’re travelling back in time. For something a little different during your visit to Colorado why not travel along the 45 miles of 3 foot narrow gauge track on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway which has been running since 1881. However long your journey is travelling by rail is a definite must do during your USA holiday.
Picture courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

Picture courtesy of Rocky Mountaineer

  • The most famous rail journey in Canada has to be the Rocky Mountaineer. With a variety of routes available you can spend a couple of days or a couple of weeks on board. One of the more popular routes is the Journey through the Clouds which takes you between Vancouver and Jasper with an overnight stop in Kamloops. With different grades of      service available this is a must no matter how big or small your budget is. If you want to travel the width of Canada in comfort and without missing the scenery as you concentrate on driving then take a ride on The Canadian. In the space of four nights and three days, you’ll get to see the lakes in Northern Ontario, the lush boreal forest, the western Prairies, and the magnificent Rocky Mountains as you travel between historical Quebec and modern Toronto.
  • Australia has some of the most iconic rail journeys in the world. There isn’t enough room here to talk about them all but here are some to whet your appetite. The Indian Pacific gets its name because it covers 4352km between Perth on the Indian Ocean and Sydney on the Pacific Ocean. The whole journey takes three nights, although you can break it up with a stop in Adelaide. You’ll travel through a variety of landscapes from towns and cities to the desert like Nullarbour Plain, from the outback to the forest of the Blue Mountains. So we’ve taken you East and West, but what if you want to go North and South? Named after the Afghan Cameleers who travelled this route, the Ghan will take between Darwin in the North to Adelaide in the South going straight through the centre of Australia. If it’s just a day on a train that you would prefer then a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway is perfect. It was built between 1882 and 1891 and is made up of 15 hand made tunnels and 37 bridges taking you from Cairns into the Barron Gorge National Park on your way to Karunda, known as the village in the rainforest.

 

  • Africa has a wealth of train experiences that cover the whole spectrum from world leader to leaving a lot to desire.  Rovos Rail has exciting itineraries that stretch from Pretoria, in South Africa through all their southern neighbouring countries and even a trip to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Where possible they travel during the day. The Blue Train is another South African luxury train that travels from Johannesburg to Durban and Cape Town or vice versa.
Picture courtesy of SA Tourism

Picture courtesy of SA Tourism

For further information, and for assistance planning your next bespoke, tailor made holiday which could incorporate one of these great rail journeys, please call us on 01323 446550, email us at  info@experienceholidays.co.uk 

 

 

 

Australia Holidays and City Breaks

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Posted by:

WSI

 

For most people, holidays in Australia are synonymous with overland safaris into the backing Red Centre of the country, miles of idyllic beaches and much more interesting flora and fauna than almost any other place on earth. However, holidays in Australia can also be planned around visiting some of the world’s most vibrant and interesting cities. The only question, is which are the best cities in Australia to plan  holidays or a sightseeing trip around?

Holidays in Cairns  

Credit Australia Tourism

Credit Australia Tourism

For travellers who might be strapped for time, cities like Cairns are perfect for sampling the best that Australia has to offer in a single locality. Subtropical and bordering the Great barrier Reef, Cairns in a relatively small provincial city but is positively booming when it comes to things to do and ways to unwind in the area.

Alice Springs

Credit GSR

Credit GSR

 

Another relatively small provincial city, Alice Springs might not be as iconic as cities like Melbourne or Sydney but with the red centre of Australia right on the city’s doorstep, the outlying area definitely makes up for what Alice Springs lacks in terms of cosmopolitanism. The place to be for visitors to Australia who want to sample a sense of the countries original pioneering spirit, Alice Springs is the last significant stop on the road for those looking to travel to iconic places of interest such as Ayers Rock and Kings Canyon.

Darwin   

Holidays to Australia usually start and depart from places like Sydney and Melbourne. In this case, it’s easy to forget about Darwin tucked away in the far north of the country but if you have the time, Darwin definitely shouldn’t be overlooked. A popular domestic holiday destination, Darwin is home to fantastic stretches of tropical coastline. At the same time, the azure waters of the area’s bays and natural harbors make Darwin the place in Australia for activities such as water skiing and scenic boat cruises.   

Australia Holidays & Australia’s Most Must-See Attractions

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WSI

 

Because Australia is so big, one of the most common questions which people planning 3-4 week in length holidays to the area ask, is which parts of Australia are absolutely unmissable? As part of your upcoming trip to Australia, we’ve therefore selected the three most experiential places of interest in Australia, areas which we feel personify the very best of the country both climatically and culturally.

Credit Australian Tourism

Credit Australian Tourism

Cairns

Credit Australia Tourism

Credit Australia Tourism

Australia holidays are typically about sun sea sand and the unique spectacle of the Australian Outback. However, Australia holidays can be just as much about lush tropical rainforest. As well then, as being the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns in Australia is the ideal place to experience not just the Great Barrier Reef in all its glory but also some of the world’s oldest natural bush and rainforest areas.

Australia Holidays In Australia’s Red Centre  

Credit New Mexico Tourism and Sedona Centre of Commerce

Credit New Mexico Tourism and Sedona Centre of Commerce

 

Of course, the red glow of the Australian Outback is just as iconic as quintessentially Australian places of interest such as the Sydney Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef. This being the case, no trip to Australia is complete without venturing off into the infamous Red Center of the country. The only thing to keep in mind is the fact that in summer especially, a trip to Australia’s center will be accompanied by excessive heat high UV exposure.

Sydney

Credit Australia and NSW Tourism

Credit Australia and NSW Tourism

Lastly, Australia holidays which don’t take the time to experience one or more of Australia’s cities are definitely missing out. In this case, we’ve chosen Sydney as the best place to start or end a trip Down Under due not just to the cosmopolitan vibe of the city, but also it’s proximity to the nearby Blue Mountains. Even better, from Sydney itself, trips can be taken directly out onto the Great Barrier reef and on to a number of surrounding islands.   

Visit Ningaloo Reef, Australia’s other Great Reef, in 2016

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

We have just received some exciting news and a great addition to any bespoke, tailor made holiday. From June 2016 visitors will be able to swim with humpback whales at Ningaloo Reef as the West Australian government has granted licenses for a select number of operators. Western Australia’s humpback whale population had steadily recovered since the end of commercial hunting of this species in Australia in 1963. It is now the largest population in the world, with an estimated 30,000 whales migrating along the coast each year.

Environment Minister Albert Jacob said the safety of whales and participants was a key consideration of the programme and there would be strict operational guidelines and monitoring of in-water interaction with humpbacks. Tours will run until October.

Picture courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Picture courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Take a humpback whale or whale shark swim or guests also have access to stand-up paddle boards and kayaks on board the company’s Concorde cruiser – a purpose built, 14.5 metre expedition power vessel.

See stunning footage of two humpback whales as they swam alongside a paddle boarder in Western Australia earlier this year https://www.youtube/watch?t=3&v=g6U3VCneKfs

If you feel inspired by this and would like to incorporate it into your own bespoke, tailor made holiday then please contact us on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk  where we can help with plenty more great ideas and accommodations.

Picture courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Picture courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

 

Picture courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Picture courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

 

Kangaroo Island – South Australia

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

KAngaroo Island South Australia

Courtesy of Angie Watson

Kangaroo island is a must for any visitor to South Australia. I was lucky enough to visit just last week, and was hugely impressed with the amount of wildlife and natural attractions to be found- with long sandy beaches, plenty of walking tracks, geological formations, stunning vistas from lookout points and of course, the plethora of wildlife here there really is something for everyone.

Getting to the island is easy, with either a short flight from Adelaide or a coach ride or hire car and ferry crossing from Cape Jervis to Penneshaw. The island is deceivingly vast and as such needs a good amount of time to explore- I’d suggest two nights as an absolute minimum, but three would be ideal. Once on the island, consider joining a small group tour by four-wheel drive providing the best opportunity for viewing wildlife with the knowledge of your expert driver/guide an important element.

Kangaroo Island South Australia

Courtesy of Angie Watson

 

See kangaroos, Tamar wallabies, koalas, echidnas, numerous bird species, New Zealand fur seals, Australian sea lions, penguins and platypus- a large number of species are endemic to the island and it’s unspoilt predator-free environment enables them the flourish. Much of the island is made up of National Park, Nature Reserves or Marine Reserves, providing plenty of chances to explore using walking tracks and small roads.

In Flinders Chase National Park in the west of the island, visit the Remarkable Rocks formations, and Admirals Arch. In the east of the island, admire the views from Prospect Hill, explore the beautiful Pennington Bay and Stokes Bay areas.

For more information about Kangaroo Island, and how a visit here can be incorporated into a wider Australian holiday, call our office on 01323 446550, email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk or see our website- www.experienceholidays.co.uk.

The Great Ocean Road..

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Great Ocean Road

Courtesy of Angie Watson

The Great Ocean Road is a world renowned driving route located in the state of Victoria, Australia, running along the south coast. It is an iconic drive that can be enjoyed by car, campervan, motorbike or bicycle, or by escorted tour if you’d prefer. This iconic drive begins in Torquay, not too far from Melbourne, and wends it’s way west hugging the cliffs and providing stunning views across bays, down to rocky shores and of beautiful beaches. Look inland and you’ll see lush green forest, cascading waterfalls and a plethora of activities to enjoy. Stop in the seaside towns along the way, and browse the eclectic mix of shops, galleries and restaurants on offer. Watch the surfers and fishermen, or take in a lesson and have a go for yourself.

Great Ocean Road

Courtesy of Angie Watson

 

The drive is best done in two days, and we’d suggest breaking the journey with a night in the seaside town of Apollo Bay. From here, embark on the second part of the journey, where the road heads slightly away from the coast, but with plenty of stopping points where short walks take you to awe-inspiring views of dramatic coastal scenery caused by erosion of the limestone cliffs. Consider taking a helicopter flight over the renowned 12 Apostle formation (although there are only actually 8), see the Grotto, London Bridge and the Arches. Learn about the Loch Ard- one of the many ships that was wrecked along this dangerous coast.

At the end of the Great Ocean Road, stay overnight in Warrnambool or quaint Port Fairy, enjoying the laid back Aussie lifestyle apparent here. From the coast, you could then choose to head inland to the Grampians National Park or the gold mining town of Ballarat, head back along the coast to Melbourne or head into South Australia- there are plenty of possibilities. For more information on how the Great Ocean Road can be incorporated into a wider Australian holiday, call our office on 01323 446550, email us at  info@experienceholidays.co.uk or see our website- www.experienceholidays.co.uk.

Winter Sun ….. The Options

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Posted by:

Peter Ellis

 

Winter holidays

Courtesy of Fundu Lagoon

 

Where to go if you want to have a burst of warmth in the middle of our winter? As always it all depends upon how long you have to spare and how much you want to spend.

Looking for the short break and not travelling too far then places like the Azores and Sharm el Sheihk, Egypt (still considered safe by the Foreign Office) will give you the best chance of sun and warmth. Other parts of the Mediterranean may be warm or even hot but there is a good chance of rain and cold snaps here as well.

For the mid distance travel you could be thinking of the Caribbean Islands – a perfect time to be going here. Do remember that some of the islands are very popular with the North American travellers who are also getting away from their winter. It is well worth looking at the options and perhaps considering one of the less popular destinations.

Winter holidays

Courtesy of Fundu Lagoon

 

In this category, and for something completely different, the Middle East should be considered. Many of the countries here, such as Oman, have expanded what they can offer tourists – giving you a chance to explore their history, wildlife and beautiful sea life.

While discussing middle distance destinations, we would also mention that Kenya is still a wonderful winter destination. There have been plenty of reasons to avoid Kenya this year, but the Government there has acted swiftly to ensure tourists are well protected and most of the country should be considered safe. A mixture of safari and beach is always a great get away. By travelling a bit further to Tanzania you avoid the security risk of Kenya but have the same experiences on offer.

For those lucky clients that have more time to travel even further afield then the countries in the Southern Hemisphere are very much on the agenda. Do remember that in parts of these countries their summer (our winter) can be the rainy season making travelling very difficult – well worth chatting to someone about these areas. Many of our clients choose this time of the year to head to New Zealand and Australia with a short break on the flight to and/or from their destination. Wonderful destinations with spectacular beaches, activities and experiences but worth spending time to make the most of the places you choose to visit. These countries are huge and travelling between points can take a lot of time.

Finally Southern Africa remains a terrific winter destination. Some of the best wildlife experiences are to be had now and the beaches are welcoming after the rigours of a safari. Add in the fact that the Pound has remained strong against the Rand and there is very little time difference to UK time (less jetlag) making it a good place to put on your list.

Start planning now.  Give us a call to discuss where you would like to go for your bespoke/tailor made winter sun break.

Tel: 01232 446550
Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Coast Australia

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Avatar

 

Coast Australia

Photo courtesy of Angie Watson

Anyone that has been watching the series of Coast Australia on BBC2 (Wednesday evenings at 21.10) will know that the coast of Australia has an enormous amount of attractions to offer every kind of visitor. With stunning scenery, fantastic wildlife and marine life, fascinating history and interesting science it is no wonder we’ve seen a great surge in interest from our customers.

The eight part series takes in the wild and almost untouched Kimberley region, iconic Sydney and it’s important history, the Great Barrier Reef and it’s many attractions, rugged Tasmania’s wildlife and penal colony history, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts with their beaches and laid back lifestyle, Victoria and the incredible scenery of the Great Ocean Road, Darwin and the Top End’s remote beauty, and finally the stunning Coral Coast of Western Australia.

Every one of the regions covered will make for a fantastic holiday – exploring just one area or if you have the time combining several. The key is to visit at the right time of year. For northern Queensland (Great Barrier Reef), Darwin and the Top End, for the Kimberleys, and for the Coral Coast of Western Australia, this means travelling between May and October as this is the dry season. For Tasmania and Victoria travelling between November and April is best, as this is when the weather is warmer. Sydney, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts are almost year-round destinations.

If you would like bespoke holiday itinerary ideas for Australia, please see our websitehttp://www.experienceholidays.co.uk/index.asp?pgid=250  where there is plenty of inspiration, call our office on 01323 446550 to talk to us, or email us at  info@experienceholidays.co.uk.

Christmas in Sydney…and a Cruise

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Posted by:

Peter Ellis

 

Sudney

Pictures courtesy of Peter Ellis

Sydney for Christmas this year and have yet to decide how to see the festivities in, then the following should definitely be on your consideration list.

Adventure cruise specialists North Star Cruises are offering the ‘Sydney Rocks’ cruise 25th-29th December 2014 sailing Sydney – Hawksbury – Sydney.

Without doubt, the epicentre of excitement over the Christmas and New Year festive season is Sydney Harbour, and being outrageously spoilt aboard True North with your friends is the perfect way to enjoy the holiday! The Sydney Rocks voyage begins with a gourmet Christmas dinner harbour cruise, before waking on the water on Boxing Day for the start of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race! True North has the box seat as the fleet charges up the harbour toward the heads, and the excitement of the event is evident across the whole city. The cruise continues with a gentle two-day recovery at Maitland Bay and the beautiful Hawksbury estuary, with the opportunity for shore visits and a trip over the Blue Mountains escarpment in the ships helicopter.

Sydney

Credit Peter Ellis

 

North Star Cruises’ ship, the True North, is 164 feet long with a seven foot draft. The ship was purpose-built to sail deep into the very heart of wilderness areas that larger ships simply cannot access. The True North features a sundeck, a forward observation lounge, a ship’s lounge, an alfresco bar and a sports deck. The ship’s naturalist presents interpretative information on plasma screens and, an internet café enables convenient communication with the outside world.

The ship’s modern Australian cuisine is supplemented with locally sourced ingredients and complemented by an outstanding selection of Australian wines. Signature dining includes freshly caught barramundi – a revered sport fish possibly caught by guests, Angus or delicate Wagyu beef, or exquisite Australian lamb.

Places are very limited so give us a call to book your place for a Christmas to remember.

Tel: 01323 446550
Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

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