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

River Boat Cruising with a Difference

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Many people enjoy the freedom of river and/or canal cruising and the choices to do this are various and different. But for something that is of the beaten track (well for us in the U.K.) would be to consider cruising the Rideau Canal in Canada.

Picture courtesy of Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation

Being over 200 kms long with 49 locks, this canal is the oldest continuously in use canal in North America and is also a World heritage Site. Following the war between Britain and the USA in 1812, the canal was built to ensure that the interior of Canada had access to open water and ultimately the sea without threat from Canada’s neighbour. It was opened in 1832 and is an amazing feat of engineering with sometimes up to 8 locks to overcome the height differences between lakes.

 

John By supervised the work and made the most of the rivers and lakes that cover this amazing region. If you were in a hurry you could probably cruise from Ottawa to Kingston on Lake Ontario in 3 days but was is the rush. Why not take your time and explore the lakes and enjoy the locks – particularly as they are manned. And if you do not want to sail the whole way, that is OK as well. Cruise in your own boat or join a larger cruiser that sales the waterway and has a capacity of 45 guests.

A wonderful way to slow down a holiday to a fascinating part of Canada which would truly add to your experiences whilst here and a great way of getting back to nature.

Picture courtesy of Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation

Picture courtesy of Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation

 

South Island of New Zealand

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

For those with limited time to explore New Zealand, focusing on one island only is a great way to reduce the amount of time spent travelling, and allow more time to be spent exploring this beautiful country.

Summary

South Island – New Zealand

 

Day 1:   Christchurch

Day 3:   Kaikoura

Day 4:   Blenheim

Day 6:   Abel Tasman National Park

Day 9:   Punakaiki

Day 10:   Arthurs Pass

Day 12:   Fox Glacier and Franz Josef

Day 14:   Wanaka

Day 15:   Queenstown

Day 17:   Te Anau

Day 19:   Stewart Island

Day 21:   The Catlins

Day 23:   Dunedin

Day 25:   Lake Tekapo

Day 27:   Akaroa

Day 29:   Depart Christchurch

 

Description

Description

 

The south island offers dramatic mountain scenery with the Southern Alps running north to south, and with pristine lakes, majestic glaciers, jagged peaks and deserted beaches. Add to this wildlife, birdlife and marine life along with friendly locals and a fascinating culture, and this island makes for a fantastic introduction to New Zealand.

Christchurch and Queenstown are the two key international airports on this island, and a looped route from either one will provide a comprehensive and diverse holiday.

Day 1: Christchurch

Begin your holiday in the city of Christchurch. Punt along the river, visit the botanical gardens or take a tram ride around the town centre. Unique attractions to pop up since the earthquakes include Re:Start – a shopping centre comprised of shipping containers, and the Cardboard Cathedral.

Two nights Christchurch

 

Day 3: Kaikoura

Collect a hire car and head north to Kaikoura. Located on the coast and jammed in between the mountains and the sea, Kaikoura is famous for its fish and chips and crayfish! It is also the place for whale watching – either by sea or from the air.

One night Kaikoura

Day 4: Blenheim

This area produces some excellent wines and many wineries are open for tastings. The Marlborough Sound and Queen Charlotte sound are both in this area and well worth exploring if you have the time.

Two nights Blenheim

Day 6: Abel Tasman National Park

Drive around to Abel Tasman. This northern tip of the South Island is so often overlooked, but it is one of our favourites.  It is here that you’ll see the crescent shaped beaches backed by lush greenery – easy to spend a full day in the park, using the water taxis to get about, and perhaps walking one of the many trails in the park.

Three nights Abel Tasman

Day 9: Punakaiki

Coming down the west coast, it is nice to break the journey with an overnight stop at Punakaiki. This is the home of the Pancake Rocks – a strange rock formation, and the overnight stop simply allows you to take your time as these roads are so scenic that you will simply have to keep stopping for more pictures.

One night Punakaiki

 Day 10: Arthurs Pass

Turning inland to the central spine of mountains that run through the South Island, this is alpine scenery at its very best.  There are plenty of walking opportunities in the area with stunning views all around.

Two nights Arthurs Pass

Day 12: Fox Glacier and Franz Josef

Returning to the west coast, the next place of interest are the two glaciers of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier. Take time to visit one or both glaciers, the beautiful Lake Matheson and the dramatic coast at Gillespie Beach.  From here also, you can take a sightseeing flight, with or without a glacier landing and hike, and hopefully good views of Mount Cook.

Two nights Fox Glacier

Day 14: Wanaka

The route to Wanaka takes you through the Haast Pass and past Lakes Wanaka and Hawea.  Simply beautiful – this little town is surrounded by mountains and is the Queenstown of yesteryear.  Where Queenstown has developed, Wanaka has remained delightfully small.

One night Wanaka

Day 15: Queenstown

Sitting on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is a sizeable town with activities for every adrenalin junkie!  Here you will find bungy jumping, sky diving, a luge and plenty more.  Much of the Lord of the Rings was filmed in this area, and although the sets had to be removed, the scenery will seem familiar!  For those not into extreme sports, a drive to Glenorchy is beautiful.

Two nights Queenstown

Day 17: Te Anau

Te Anau is the gateway to Fjordland National Park – for both Milford and Doubtful Sounds. For either, you can visit for a day, or take an overnight cruise. Of the two, Milford offers the more dramatic scenery but is busier. Doubtful Sound has fewer tourists and lovely scenery, but it’s not quite so dramatic.

Two nights Te Anau

Day 19: Stewart Island

At the very southern tip are areas of New Zealand that many never get to. Stewart Island is home to the only kiwi’s (the birds that is) to be found in the wild, and a must for birding enthusiasts. Access to the island is by ferry or by light aircraft – we suggest going by air as the ferry crossing can be quite choppy.

Two nights Stewart Island 

Day 21: The Catlins

The Catlins is the area in the far southeast corner of the South Island – a wild and remote corner for those whose idea of paradise is the absence of anyone else at all (or pretty well!) and with good opportunities to see wildlife such as Little Blue Penguins, Yellow Eyed Penguins, seals and sealions.

Two nights The Catlins

Day 23: Dunedin

Visited by many for its Scottish appeal and for the colony of albatross that call this home. This is a must for birders. There are a number of other attractions in the area including the Rail Trail – great for cycling. The Otago Peninsula is beautiful, and a stay here rather than in the city itself may appeal too.

Two nights Dunedin

Day 25: Lake Tekapo

This is the home of the Church of the Good Shepherd and the Collie Dog Memorial often features in brochures. This is also a great place for stargazing as it is a ‘designated dark sky’ area.

Two nights Lake Tekapo

Day 27: Akaroa

Located on the Banks Peninsula south east of Christchurch, this small town has a French feel to it and is a lovely place to relax for a day or two. From here, one can take a cruise to swim with wild Hector’s Dolphins – the smallest and rarest dolphin, which is endemic to New Zealand.

Two nights Akaroa

Day 29: Depart Christchurch

Depart Christchurch today to head home or to your next destination.

Fox Glacier – Credit Jim bell

Franz Josef Glacier Credit New Zealand Tourism

Queenstown – Credit Jim Bell

Rippon Vineyard-Lake Wanaka- credit David Wall

23 Nugget Point The Catlins- Credit Graeme Murray

Te Anau Milfor Sound – Credit 100% New Zealand

Arthurs Pass National Park Canterbury Credit Tourism New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Gems

Little Gems

What our client says

Client Feedback

Coming Soon!

 

Coastal Pacific Rolls Again!

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

It’s the news we’ve been waiting for – the Coastal Pacific train on New Zealand’s South Island is set to recommence operations from the beginning of December! This scenic rail route operates between Picton and Christchurch, and connects perfectly with the ferry between the north and south islands of New Zealand.

If arriving by ferry from Wellington, Picton is the first place visitors will come to – with a stunning journey through the Queen Charlotte Sound on the approach. Here, explore the wine regions of Blenheim and Marlborough, and take time to discover Abel Tasman National Park with its crescent shaped beaches and lush greenery. Kayaking, sailing, cycling and walking are just a few of the activities awaiting visitors to the region.

From Picton, board the Coastal Pacific train – the rail route wends its way down the east coast of the island, and stops in Kaikoura along the way. At this point, it’s possible to stop for a night or two – Kaikoura is best known for its whale watching and the albatross found here. The earthquakes of 2016 have meant an enforced regeneration of parts of the town, and it is ready to welcome visitors once again.

 

Picture courtesy of KiwiRail

The rail route continues to Christchurch. This is another place that has seen earthquake enforced regeneration and the locals here have taken advantage of the chance to make improvements along the way. Alongside traditional attractions such as the botanic gardens, the tram and punting along the river, visitors can head to the unique Cardboard Cathedral and the Quake City Museum – both icons of the recent history of the city.

From Christchurch, it’s possible to connect to another of New Zealand’s iconic rail journeys – the Tranz Alpine. This rail route cuts a path through the Southern Alps from east to west, briefly stopping in alpine Arthur’s Pass before continuing to Greymouth on the coast.

These trains provide a chance to experience New Zealand’s scenery from a different perspective, and can dovetail perfectly with sections of self-drive during a New Zealand holiday. For more information, please contact us.

 

Picture courtesy of KiwiRail

Picture courtesy of KiwiRail

Chile: The Best Place to Witness the Total Solar Eclipse in 2019

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Join a tour in to the heart of the Elqui Valley, Chile for an amazing location to see the Total Solar Eclipse which will occur on 02 July 2019 at 16:40. The tour is a 4 day glamping experience that allows you time to explore the region with its hot springs, fascinating valleys and picturesque villages.

On the day of the eclipse you journey up to the observation point in good time to have lunch and then prepare for the eclipse.

Add this unique experience to a tour of this country that has a diversity of experiences awaiting exploration – Atacama Desert, remote and exciting Patagonia, the beautiful Lakes region, Wine region and the Capital, Santiago, which is well worth exploring.

For more information on this once in a lifetime trip please contact us

Picture courtesy of Sernatur

Picture courtesy of Sernatur

Picture courtesy of Chile Tourist Board

 

Panama: Whale Watching in the Chiriqui Gulf

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

From July to November whales migrate from the North and South Poles to mate and to have their calves, especially the humpback whales. The warm waters of the Chriqui Gulf are ideal for the calves who are born with hardly any body fat and would find the extreme cold waters of the Poles impossible for survival. They are also relatively predator free.

Along the Pacific coast of Panama, Colba Island and the south of Veraguas Province are considered the ideal places to catch your whale watching boats. The beautiful warm sea will entice you to stay to explore the corals and beaches as well as seeing these giants of nature.

Another excellent reason to visit this small but exciting Central America destination – indigenous tribes, rain forests full of wildlife, two Panama Canals and the city of Panama that has been built 3 times.

For more details please contact us.

 

Pacific_138324898253

Picture courtesy of Metropolitan Touring

Around Zimbabwe

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Times are changing fast in Zimbabwe and tourism, which in the recent past has concentrated on the Victoria Falls area, but is now looking to expand across the whole country.

There is much to offer the traveller who has a love of Africa or those that want to visit before too many others arrive. While this itinerary concentrates on the wildlife areas of the country it can easily be built upon to include the cultural and historic side of a diverse and fascinating country.

Summary

Around Zimbabwe

 

Day 1:         Victoria Falls

Day 4:         Hwange National Park

Day 7:         Mana Pools

Day 10:      Bumi Hills/Lake Kariba

Day 12:       Victoria Falls

Description

Description

 

This itinerary gives you the highlights of what Zimbabwe has to offer from the scenery and wildlife point of view. We can easily ensure you have plenty of cultural and historic aspects of the country.

 

Day 1

With Victoria Falls International Airport recently refurbished and more major carriers flying in to it, getting to this town has become easier. On arrival transfer to your hotel either in or close to the town or consider one in a National Park along the Zambezi River.

Over the next couple of days, you will explore the Falls and involve yourselves in the activities that abound here. When in the year you go will determine what type of experience you will have at the Falls. At the end of the rainy season the Falls are in full flood and good soaking guaranteed. However, when the rate of flow drops so the adrenalin activities (such as white water rafting) begin.

Day 4

Transfer to your lodge deep in the Hwange National Park. For a really different way of getting half way there, consider taking the train that runs along one of the boundaries of the Park. There is something magical in sitting in an open sided carriage looking out for the wildlife and with a cool drink close to hand. Your lodge’s 4×4 will meet you at the station and give you a game drive as you head to your lodge.

The next couple of days will have you exploring this huge Park with some of the largest herds of elephants and sable antelopes in Southern Africa.

Day 7

Transfer to Mana Pools National Park on the border with Zambia brings you to one Africa’s most iconic and beautiful spots on the Zambezi River with excellent wildlife around. Getting there could be a long drive and the chance to see the country up close or catch a small plane direct to the Park – and a chance for a different view of Zimbabwe. The Long Pool offers large numbers of crocs and hippo with a host of games animals coming down to drink. This in turn brings in the predators. A true untouched African scene.

As well as being a World Heritage Site parts of the Park are a Ramsar Site so bird watching is at a premium. For the adventurous you can canoe on the Zambezi, join a lion tracking walk or consider a guided and even unguided walking (if you are comfortable with being in a true wilderness) tour.

Day 10

Transfer to the Bumi Hills alongside Lake Kariba. With time to unwind you can go fishing on the lake, make the most of the stunning views from your lodge overlooking the Lake. There is still plenty of wildlife and bird life around the Lake to keep you experiences going.

Day 12

Return to Victoria Falls and your homeward flights.

 

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Little Gems

Little Gems

Being a few yards from a full grown elephant and on foot (downwind), as you watch as he/she feeds from the bushes and trees.

What our client says

Client Feedback

Coming Soon!

Uganda, new destination video

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Here is a short clip featuring a number of Uganda’s unique attractions including Murchison Falls, Kibale, Bwindi, Lake Mburo, Lake Albert and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Another and Quieter side to Tanzania

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Most people know about the plains of the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater and the wildlife spectacle to found there. But there is so much more to explore in Tanzania and much of it is untouched and incredibly diverse.

If you would like to see and hear Africa at its unspoilt best then consider heading to places like the Gombe Stream National Park and walk in the footsteps the British primatologist, Jane Goodall, in search of the descendants of her favourite chimps – Frodo, Merlin and David Greybeard.

On the banks of Lake Tanganyika, the deepest lake in Africa, is Mahale National Park, another place to see primates such as chimps and Colobus monkeys in their natural habitat. End up on your own private beach to cool down and then around the camp fire with more stars above you than you could imagine.

Katavi National Park, Tanzania’s third largest Park, is ideal for the traveller looking for a truly remote experience away from regular tourist routes. In this park, you will find animals curious and unfamiliar to human contact. Herd sizes of buffalo and other plains animals are massive, often in the thousands and this in turn brings in good numbers of predators. With hardly anyone else around and a great lodge to retire to, you will feel like a true explorer.

For more details please contact us.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

More reasons to visit Namibia…

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Namibia is a destination that has so much to offer tourists, particularly if you like your wildlife, geology, spectacular scenery, sea life and adventure. With 4 different deserts, each with its own ecosystem that would keep most desert lovers happy.

But here are some new ideas for when you are there and a new camp on the Zambezi River in the Caprivi Strip.

Firstly, the Zambezi Mubala Camp and Lodge are located under tall, shady trees on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, about 40 km east of Katima Mulilo. Eight safari tents, equipped with four beds each, ensuite bathrooms, self-catering kitchens and verandas invite you to linger along the river. Traditional campers are also welcome to pitch their tents on one of the ten campsites with private sanitary facilities.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Guests to Zambezi Mubala Lodge are transferred by boat from Zambezi Mubala Camp to the lodge. As they are only allowed to do transfers on the Zambezi River during daytime, guests are kindly require to arrive at least one hour prior to sunset.

The next adventure gives you a bird’s eye view of the Namib Desert. As from 1 May 2018, the Namib Desert Lodge offers Powered Paragliding to its guests. The Gondwana Collection partnered with Wild Air Safaris to provide guests with an adventure of a lifetime. The 20-minute flights can be booked and paid directly at the Namib Desert Lodge and are subject to availability. Safety is our priority and flights are only offered on the motorized paragliding flights in perfect weather conditions.

Walking part of the Fish River Canyon (the World’s Second Largest Canyon).  On 20 April the 12 participants of this season’s first Klipspringer Trail made their way through the Fish River Canyon in the wilderness area north of the main viewing point. Luggage and equipment are conveyed between the overnight camps, so participants only need to pack water and snacks for the day’s hike. Each overnight camp offers cooking and bathroom facilities. The self-guided Canyon Klipspringer Trail (4 nights/3 days) covers altogether 30km, hikers are equipped with a detailed map.

For fuller details or to learn more about Namibia, please contact us.

 

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

It is not too late!

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

With the longest day just about to arrive and the true summer weather with us, you may think that it is too late to book a holiday for this year, but you could well be wrong! Many regions still have the capacity to take good numbers of travellers and still feel un-crowded.

Parts of Canada and the USA fit this bill well and do have the option of medium and long haul flights on offer. Atlantic Canada is just 6-7 hours flying time away and offers a huge variety of experiences, scenery and excellent food and wine. Eastern USA also has much to offer and is only a little longer on the plane. September is a particularly good time for these regions, as the fall colours begin to show.

If you are willing to be more adventurous in your destinations and avoid the really popular locations, then you have time to book your holiday for this summer or autumn.

It starts with a call – Contact us / 01323 446550 and you could be on your way.

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

 

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