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

Wildlife of New Zealand

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

With over 20 percent of the country covered in 14 National Parks, New Zealand offers pristine wilderness and the perfect habitat for its native flora and fauna. As always, sightings of wildlife can never be guaranteed, but if you plan to be in the right place at the right time of year, you’ll maximise your chances. And that’s where we come in – we can discuss with you when and where to go, and build a tailor made holiday to New Zealand to incorporate wildlife viewing along the way.

 There is an abundance and great variety of birdlife to be found in New Zealand. Before humans settled the country, there were no natural predators for some birds, and as such several native species evolved to become flightless. The most famous of these is the nocturnal kiwi – New Zealand’s national symbol. Other native birds include the kea – one of the most intelligent birds in the world, the vibrant takahe, the weka and the tui with its beautiful birdsong. One of the best places in New Zealand to admire the birdlife is on Stewart Island and nearby Ulva Island – these are two of the few places it is still possible to see the kiwi in the wild, along with Kapiti Island.

 

 

Kiwi -= New Zealand

Picture courtesy of Tourism New Zealand

New Zealand

Ulva Island-Stewart Island- Picture courtesy of Miles Holden and 100% Pure New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Otago Peninsula, see the royal albatross – the largest seabird in the world, and at Cape Kidnappers near Napier, join a tour to see the resident gannet colony. On the west coast of the South Island in the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve, take a tour to see the rare white heron – sacred to the Maori and believed to bring good fortune if seen.

New Zealand is also home to diverse marine life. Find the blue penguin and rare yellow eyed penguin in the Catlins and on the Otago Peninsula. Also in this region see New Zealand fur seals and sea lions. See the fjordland crested penguin near Lake Moeraki or Milford Sound.

 

New Zealand

Yellow Eyed Penguin – Picture courtesy of 100% Pure New Zealand

New Zealand

Picture courtesy of Chris Stephenson and 100% Pure New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only found in New Zealand’s waters, hector’s dolphins are regularly seen off the Banks Peninsula and are one of the smallest marine dolphins in the world. Board a sightseeing cruise and if you’re lucky take the opportunity to swim with these beautiful creatures in the wild.

 Kaikoura is widely known as the whale watching capital of New Zealand, and is one of the few places in the world where sperm whales can be seen year round and close to shore. Humpback whales are frequently found during the winter months (June, July & August), blue whales and southern right whales can sometimes be seen here too. Dusky and hector’s dolphins are found in this region, and sea birds here include six species of shearwater, along with petrels and albatross.

The Bay of Islands on the North Island is another region known for its dolphins – bottlenose and common dolphins are most often seen here, along with baleen whales, orca and seals.

Any and all of the above regions can be included in a bespoke holiday to New Zealand – just give us a call and we can discuss your plans and preferences before putting together a tailored itinerary.

New Zealand

Picture courtesy of Jim Bell

 

New Zealand

Picture courtesy of Matt Winter and 100% Pure New Zealand

New Zealand

Picture courtesy of Jim Bell

New Zealand

Picture courtesy of Jim Bell

Otago Peninsula New Zealand

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Lake Tekapo New Zealand

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

 

North Tanzania During the Short Rains

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Posted by:

Kirsty Saunders

 

This must be one of the best wildlife destinations in Africa with the wildebeest/zebra migration in the Serengeti being one of the star attractions. Visiting North Tanzania during the short rains around November means you can experience all this amazing region has to offer without having to share it with a crowd of other people. This can only enhance the experience. The trick here is selecting a camp site that is remote, wild, still very Africa but with all the amenities that you need with excellent service and guiding as standard.

If you are willing to take the chance of going during the short rainy season, then you will improve the quality of your safari. Yes, you may experience an African thunderstorm (dramatic, noisy and spectacular but usually over within the hour) but the experience has benefits. Seeing the plains and trees turn green, then having all the wild flowers coming out and seeing the baby topi’s and impala add something in the way of a big extra.

We also know a company that will ensure that your campsite is exclusive, in a special location and far from the other travellers you may have seen during the day. Their aim is to give you such a good experience that you will start planning your return before too long. They will look after you from the moment you land to the time you depart – in style.

Summary

North Tanzania During the Short Rains

This must be one of the best wildlife destinations in Africa with the wildebeest/zebra migration in the Serengeti being one of the star attractions. Visiting North Tanzania during the short rains around November means you can experience all this amazing region has to offer without having to share it with a crowd of other people. This can only enhance the experience. The trick here is selecting a camp site that is remote, wild, still very Africa but with all the amenities that you need with excellent service and guiding as standard.

If you are willing to take the chance of going during the short rainy season, then you will improve the quality of your safari. Yes, you may experience an African thunderstorm (dramatic, noisy and spectacular but usually over within the hour) but the experience has benefits. Seeing the plains and trees turn green, then having all the wild flowers coming out and seeing the baby topi’s and impala add something in the way of a big extra.

We also know a company that will ensure that your campsite is exclusive, in a special location and far from the other travellers you may have seen during the day. Their aim is to give you such a good experience that you will start planning your return before too long. They will look after you from the moment you land to the time you depart – in style.

The following is a suggested itinerary for your safari in the short rainy season to Northern Tanzania:

 

Day 1: Arusha/ Kilimanjaro Airport

Day 2: Tarangire

Day 6: Central Serengeti

Day 9: North Serengeti

Day 13: Return to Arusha – depart

Description

Description

 

Day 1 – Arusha/ Kilimanjaro Airport

Currently there are no direct flights to Kilimanjaro Airport but there are plenty of choices for indirect flights at very reasonable prices. Depending on the time that you arrive you could head for your first camp or stay overnight in or around Arusha. There is plenty of choice for the overnight from 5 star luxury to staying on a coffee farm.

Consider adding a day here to explore the little visited but a jewel of a National Park – Mount Meru National Park with its perfect caldera offering a sanctuary to its wildlife on the floor of the volcano and beautiful rain forests throughout the Park.

 

Day 2 to 5 – Tarangire

After breakfast you head towards Tarangire National Park along good tarmac roads before turning off to a private concession that exists along the border of the Park. Tarangire is famed for its giant Baobab trees and big herds of buffalo and elephant. You camp is located along the dry riverbed and is just 10 tents in all. The waterhole right in front of the pool and dining room is very popular with the local wildlife, particularly elephant. You could be sipping your G&T by the pool watching the eli’s jostling for their drink.

We suggest 2 or 3 nights here to explore the Park and see the wildlife that lives in the Concession. The swamp in the Tarangire is a mecca for birders and huge herds of buffalo and elephant. Being on a Concession allows you to take a walking safari of a night drive. Then snuggle up in your warm bed to the sound of lion and/or hyena calling.

 

 

Day 6 – 9 – Central Serengeti

If you have time you could add in a couple of nights staying in a camp or lodge on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater and having a full day down in the crater. This is a world of its own and has all the big 5 here to see as well as flamingo on the lake at certain times of the year.

You have the option of driving to the Serengeti perhaps stopping at the Olduvai Gorge to learn about our very earliest ancestors or catching a 45 minutes flight to Seronera Airstrip where your next guide will pick you up. You are in the centre of this huge National Park (30,000 square kilometres or a quarter of the size of England) and well placed to follow the ever going migration of wildebeest and zebra. This migration is one of the largest in the world and is governed by the rain fall and water availability in the Serengeti and Masai Mara in Kenya.

Your game drive starts immediately you leave the airstrip and if the migration is in the central area (very likely at this time of year) you will see huge herds of zebra, wildebeest and the other plains animals. Along with them come the predators – lion, cheetah, hyena, leopard and all the attendant birds such as vultures and scavengers like jackal. Where we recommend staying is in a hidden valley with no passing traffic, apart from the animals, and peace and quiet for the perfect sundowner, delightful meals and sleep only interrupted by lion roars and hyena calls. It really is worth planning this part of your trip carefully. Having passing vehicles in front of your campsite takes a lot away from the experience.

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

While here, plan a balloon trip at dawn for an experience of a lifetime. The captains of the balloons are very experienced and will give you varying height chances to photo the plains, kopjes and animals. Finish with a champagne breakfast under an acacia tree on the plains that you have just flown over. Exhilarating and unforgettable.

 

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

Day 9 – 12 – North Serengeti

Have a game drive to the northern part of the Park and notice the change between savanna and lightly forested hills. Here the Grumeti and Mara rivers dissect the Serengeti here and at the right time of the year you could witness the famous river crossings by the migrating herds. The rivers are full of hippo and crocs and you can see why the animals hesitate to be the first to jump into the murky water. This region has everything to offer with leopard often seen resting on the rocks, waiting for darkness.

Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis

Your camp site here is tucked into the rocks of one of the kopjes that dot the plains here and give stunning views across the plains and acacia forests. The service, meals and ambience are second to none. A great place to end your safari.

 

 

 

Day 13

This morning you will fly back to Arusha and make your connection for the return flight home.

 

Little Gems

Little Gems

Sitting quietly on the Serengeti Plains watching a cheetah, sitting on an anthill, surveying the herds close by and deciding whether to hunt or not. Just the sounds of the wildlife and birds as your backdrop to a scene that is eons old.

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Cities of the Far East

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Major cities within the Far East are often used by travellers simply as a gateway to the country, or perhaps as a stop en route to a further afield destination such as Australia or New Zealand. They are often major hubs for international flights, and therefore lend themselves well to this. However, they can also make for interesting and exciting destinations and often warrant a longer stay. Here we mention just a few of the popular ‘stopover cities’ in the Far East.

 

Singapore

Once a British colony and later a part of Malaysia, Singapore became an independent nation in 1965. The city is home to a melting pot of cultures and this in turn makes Singapore a vibrant and exciting place to visit. Explore Chinatown and Little India, meander the shops of Orchard Road, the bars and restaurants of Clarke Quay or take afternoon tea in the historic Raffles Hotel. A ride on the Singapore Flyer provides a unique perspective of the city, and a visit to renowned Singapore Zoo is a popular family activity. Sentosa Island provides an escape from the city itself, with beautiful sandy beaches and relaxed resort-style hotels. Many would consider Singapore to be solely a ‘city stay’ but Sentosa Island certainly offers a more relaxed alternative or addition to a visit there.

Picture courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

Picture courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong

Another Far Eastern hub with a rich and interesting history, this former British colony is so much more than just a city. Whilst its modern city skyline is world renowned, the traditions of old Hong Kong are still very much alive and can be found threaded through the backstreets, countryside and islands of this vibrant destination. Explore some of the many markets from Stanley to the Ladies Market, take a sampan ride in Aberdeen Fishing Village, use the historic Star Ferry to cross the harbour, or head to Repulse Bay to relax by the beach. A visit to Victoria Peak is a must – ideally using the historic tram – to see the skyline, but also consider visiting some of the many outlying islands – Lamma Island has a well-marked walking trail, Cheung Chau is best known for its annual bun festival in May, and Lantau Island is home to the Ngong Ping 360 cable car.

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kuala Lumpur

Located at the confluence of the Gombak and Klang Rivers, Kuala Lumpur’s name in English literally means ‘muddy confluence’. It is Malaysia’s capital and an extraordinary city with an intriguing cultural mix. Explore the shopping districts, Chinatown, Independence Square and the Sultans Palace. The Old Station in the city was built in colonial times with a roof carefully designed to withstand at least a metre of snow! Visit the botanical gardens, the central market or try one of the many excellent restaurants or street foods in Jalan Alor. The Batu Caves, located 11km from the city, are well worth a visit, and no visit to KL is complete without a visit to the iconic Petronas Towers.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bangkok

Bangkok was founded in 1782 and with a history spanning more than two centuries, it comprises of an eclectic mixture of old and new. Thailand’s capital, it is perhaps best known for its ornate shrines and colourful tuk tuks. Take a tour of the Grand Palace, visit the floating markets on the river by longtail speedboat, or explore the Chatuchak weekend market for a spot of shopping. Wat Arun is a sight to behold, and Wat Pho is well worth exploring. A day trip from Bangkok can be taken to visit the Bridge over the River Kwai and the JEATH War Museum.

Above are just four of the popular ‘stopover’ cities in the Far East, but these are by no means the only options. For further information on these cities, or ideas for alternatives, please do get in touch.

Picture courtesy of Tourism Thailand

Picture courtesy of Tourism Thailand

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

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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