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

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

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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.

Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

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Posted by:

Kirsty Saunders

 

Since the steep increase in price of gorilla permits in Rwanda last year, speculation has been ongoing to see if Uganda would follow suit. So, it’s great news for visitors that the increase is only by $100 and a brilliant move to keep demand for gorilla tracking in Uganda.
In addition, Aerolink recently announced that they are now flying from Entebbe to Kihihi (Bwindi’s closest airstrip) three times daily, allowing tourists more accessible routes into the tracking areas. Uganda is working tirelessly to give the tourists a better experience and easier access.

Mountain Gorillas are an endangered species so, for this reason, it’s crucial permits are in place to protect and preserve their privacy. Permits also help to save mountain gorillas from human diseases that can be caused by too many visitors or crowds. Money from permits also contributes to the conservation of both wildlife as well as the local community.

photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

There has never been a better time to visit Uganda to see these amazing animals. But there is so much more to do while here. Uganda has to be one of the World’s best birding spots and it is a wonderful place to see the plains animals, crocodiles and hippos on the Nile and a chance to track chimpanzees as well.

photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

A call has you heading in that direction. Contact Us

What to do in Stone Town, Zanzibar – Tanzania, East Africa

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

For those of you that are looking to add some beach after your safari and have decided to head for Zanzibar, then I would recommend that you should consider some time in the fascinating capital of the Island – Stone Town.

With history that relates to Zanzibar is reflected in the architecture and historic artefacts to be found in the museums and hotels. With the Sultans of Oman having Zanzibar as one of their main trading posts in East Africa for several centuries, indeed it was the capital of their empire for a while; there is a strong Arab influence on the island. Of course there is a huge Swahili feel along with the British and Portuguese buildings to be found, particularly in Stone Town.

I would certainly recommend that you should stay a couple of nights to allow you time to explore and immerse yourselves in the vibrant colours and culture. There are a good number of hotels to choose from, from backpackers to boutique to 5 star hotels – so plenty of choice.

 

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

One of the best ways of getting to know the town is to take a guided walk through the maze of narrow streets, designed to be wide enough for 2 donkeys and very anti car. The buildings are in all states of repair with the Omani influence very much in evidence but the real stars to keep you reaching for the camera are the ornate doors. Here are carvings of scripts, both religious and secular, flowers and animals of all kinds and beautiful brass studs and nails. 

The walk takes you to the Sultans Palace (now a museum), the House of Wonder and the very moving museum of slavery and its statue of commemoration. Then the walk takes you in to the vibrant and hugely colourful fruit, vegetable and general market. Add in the colour of the Zanzibari women’s clothes and you have a feast for your eyes.

Alternatively catch a dhow out to one of the sandbars that emerge as the tide drops and spend a happy couple of hour’s snorkelling while your crew cook you a fresh from the sea lunch.

Everyone recommends that you watch the sun set and the received wisdom is that Africa House is the place to do this. This is a very buzzy place with all sort of travellers gathered to toast the setting sun. For those wanting a quieter location, and with the same view, then the bar at the Zanzibar Serena Hotel is just as good and has an excellent restaurant which is right on the waterfront.

Book your place to explore the doors, museums, markets, meet the friendly people and drink your sundowner watching the dhows beating their way to the harbour by contacting us at Experience Holidays.

For fuller details, please ask for Peter Ellis.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Thinking about what to do for your next holiday then take a look at Triple Creek Ranch…

Posted on:
Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Triple Creek Ranch is a truly gorgeous mountain hideaway and perfect for a special occasion – a luxury all-inclusive resort nestled in the Bitterroot Mountain Range of the Montana Rockies, close to border with Idaho. This year round resort, a member or the prestigious Relais & Chateaux collection, has an exceptional level of service, incorporating luxury private log cabin accommodation, fine dining and world class wines.

Picture courtesy of Triple Creek Ranch

Surrounded by incomparable scenery and wildlife, the ranch offers a wide range of activities from which to choose. In spring, the meadows are alive with wild flowers, in summer the sun-filled days are perfect for horseback riding, fishing, hiking, float trips and rafting. Autumn brings stunning fall colours – bright blue skies and crisp cool evenings. In winter, enjoy cross-country or Alpine skiing – just 30 minutes from the resort is the Lost Trail Powder Mountain Ski Resort – with an average yearly snowfall of 300 inches of powdery snow this is skiing without the long lift lines and crowds. Snowmobiling, snowshoeing or horseback riding through unspoiled snow-covered wilderness are also on offer. Then spend your evenings relaxing in front of a cozy fire.

 

Situated midway beteen Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, a stay at this fabulous ranch fits perfectly into a holiday to this stunning region.

 

Please contact us for more information.

Picture courtesy of Triple Creek Ranch

Picture courtesy of Triple Creek Ranch

Picture courtesy of Triple Creek Ranch

Picture courtesy of Triple Creek Ranch

Picture courtesy of Triple Creek Ranch

Picture courtesy of Triple Creek Ranch

 

South Africa’s Blue Train just became slower – But in a Good Way

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

In 2019 South Africa’s Blue train relaunched its classic train journey between Pretoria and Cape Town (in either direction) now making this a two-night experience. This will allow guests to relax more and soak up the scenery. The Blue Train has always been considered the epitome of luxury, hospitality and leisure.

The train now departs at 4pm and arrives at its destination at 10:30 two days later. The cabins compare well with the finest hotels, with en suite bathroom or shower (depending on level of cabin you choose) and the attention of your personal butler. The Observation Cat at the end of the train has windows on 3 sides allowing you to make the most of the passing scenery.

There is also a 2 ½ hour ‘off train’ excursion to the Kimberley Open Mine Museum and visit to the Big Hole.

This journey would make a great addition to any trip to South Africa and a wonderful way to see part of this amazing country. If you would like to find out more then please contact us.

 

Picture courtesy of The Blue Train, South Africa

Picture courtesy of The Blue Train, South Africa

Picture courtesy of The Blue Train, South Africa

Picture courtesy of The Blue Train, South Africa

Picture courtesy of The Blue Train, South Africa

Picture courtesy of The Blue Train, South Africa

Picture courtesy of The Blue Train, South Africa

Rovos Rail is 30 Years old

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Copyright to Rovos Rail Tours

For all lovers of iconic train journeys, a trip aboard one of Rovos Rails trains to different parts of Southern Africa is a must. As at the end this month the company will have been operating for 30 years and is offering eight trips around Southern Africa; varying in length from 48 hours to 15 days. At any given time, the Company will be offering 5 out of the 8 journeys will be running. In addition, they have taken over, and overhauled, Shongololo Express to add to their portfolio.

 

Copyright to Rovos Rail Tours

The trains are exceptional to look at, comfortable to travel in and offer a service that is second to none. You are well looked after the moment you arrive at the station of departure – bags whipped away to be unpacked in your cabin/suite while you have a welcome drink and introduction to a Rovos Rail trip. They stop at many of Southern Africa’s outstanding sites and offer you a tour around – be it the Big Hole at Kimberley or a National Park in the countries visited.

It is a perfect way to celebrate an occasion or to see a country from a different perspective. Please contact us for further details.

 

Copyright to Rovos Rail Tours

Copyright to Rovos Rail Tours

Copyright to Rovos Rail Tours

Copyright to Rovos Rail Tours

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