• Mashatu Botswana  - credit Bethan Evans

Kwazulu Natal

Posted on:
Posted by:

Avatar

 

This corner of South Africa has much to offer, and is home to battlefields and beaches, wildlife and vistas.

[wptabs style=”wpui-dark” mode=”horizontal”]

[wptabtitle] Summary[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Kwazulu Natal

A corner of South Africa with much to offer.  KZN is home of Zulu culture, battlefields, beaches, wildlife and vistas.

Day 1: Ballito
Day 3: Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve
Day 5: Maputaland
Day 8: Hluhluwe
Day 9: Battlefields
Day 12: Northern Drakensbergs
Day 15: Depart Durban or Johannesburg
[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] Description [/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Description

 

The Zulu Kingdom of KwaZulu Natal represents a holiday destination in its own right, and here we explore just such an itinerary including a little of everything, for everybody. The State of KwaZulu Natal is the traditional home of the Zulu people, a nation of tribes, ruled by a chief. They are lovely warm and friendly people, eager to please!

Day 1: Ballito
From Durban, drive to Ballito – a quiet little residential seaside town. At the right time of year, bottlenose dolphins, southern right and humpback whales can be seen.
Two nights Ballito

Day 3: Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve
Head north, roughly following the coast, to Hluhluwe. The big five are present here, which hopefully you’ll spot on your game drives.
Two nights Hluhluwe/Umfolozi National Park

Day 5: Maputaland
Driving further north today, heading towards the Maputaland Marine Reserve. In the Coastal Forest Reserve are several lodges, offering a range of activities from scuba diving to horse riding and walking. At the right time of the year you will be able to see the turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs.
Three nights Maputaland

Day 8: Hluhluwe
It is possible to get all the way to your next stop in one go, but it is a long day, and worth, we think, breaking the journey at Hluhluwe again. This time, we suggest choosing a lodge close to the St Lucia Wetlands for an overnight stay.
One night Hluhluwe

Day 9: Battlefields
Turn inland now to the Battlefields, to re-live the Zulu wars. For even the armchair historian or those with a passing interest, a tour is essential; one cannot help but feel moved by the stories of these epic battles.
Three nights Battlefields

Day 12: Northern Drakensbergs
Drive via the Spionkop Battlefield, to the Drakensbergs. See the Amphitheatre – the source of the Tugela River, and home of the second highest waterfall in the world.
Three nights Drakenbergs

Day 15: Depart Durban or Johannesburg 
Return to Durban or Johannesburg today for the onward or homeward journey.

SAT Drakensberg      SAT impalas KWN

 

SAT Isandhlwana      SAT zulu hut

 

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] Little Gems[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Little Gems

Fifty miles of pristine beaches, backed by dunes and only three lodges to choose from.  This is remote wild Africa at its best – we love it!
[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] What our clients say[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Client Feedback

Content coming soon
[/wptabcontent]

[/wptabs]

The Wild West Story

Posted on:
Posted by:

Avatar

 

Start and finish in Denver on this spectacular drive.

[wptabs style=”wpui-dark” mode=”horizontal”]

[wptabtitle] Summary[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

The Wild West Story

A round trip drive, starting and finishing in Denver, this itinerary offers a circular route overview through Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and Utah.  This itinerary works well in either direction, or simply take part of the itinerary for a more in-depth exploration of a smaller area.

Day 1: Denver
Day 2: Cheyenne
Day 3: Rapid City
Day 6: Ucross
Day 7: Cody
Day 8: Yellowstone National Park
Day 10: Jackson Hole
Day 12: Vernal
Day 13: Grand Junction
Day 15: Moab
Day 16: Mesa Verde National Park
Day 17: Colorado Springs
Day 18: Denver

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] Description [/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Description

The West where spectacular scenery awaits including Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Buffalo Bill country, Yellowstone and Mesa Verde National Park Meet real cowboys, stay on a ranch, visit Cody…

Day 1: Denver
Depart UK arrive Denver.
One night Denver

Day 2: Cheyenne
Pick up the hire car that awaits you and drive north to Cheyenne, take the Street Trolley Tour, a narrated tour detailing the town’s Wild West past.
One night Cheyenne

Day 3: Rapid City
Today you will travel into the Black Hills of South Dakota, famous for its granite needles, lakes and green forests. Visit the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. A “must-see” and only a short drive away are The Badlands.
Three nights Rapid City

Day 6: Ucross
Traverse the cowboy country from South Dakota into Wyoming; passing through the town of Deadwood, a Gold Rush town and home to the famous Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.
One night Ucross

Day 7: Cody
A short drive will take you to Cody, Buffalo Bill country. Arriving early afternoon will be time to visit the famous Buffalo Bill Museum; seven acres of American history. In the evening visit the rodeo show where real cowboys round up cattle.
One night Cody

Day 8: Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, home to Bison, Wolves, Elk, Moose and birdlife. There are 10,000 thermal features, and endless lush forests and spectacular blue lakes.
Two nights Yellowstone

Day 10: Jackson Hole
Depart Yellowstone for The Grand Teton National Park where the magnificent Tetons rise from the valley. The famous Snake River flows through the park and white water rafting is a favourite pastime.
Two nights Jackson Hole

Day 12: Vernal
South to Rock Springs, skirting the Flaming Gorge National Recreation area and into the State of Utah.
One night Vernal

Day 13: Grand Junction
A short and scenic drive will take you into the State of Colorado to the delightful town of Grand Junction. Near Grand Junction is the Colorado National Monument and well worth a visit.
Two nights Grand Junction

Day 15: Moab
Drive to Moab, where you can visit the spectacular National Parks, Arches and Canyonlands
One night Moab

Day 16: Mesa Verde National Park
Today the short drive will take you to The Mesa Verde National Park, a World Heritage Site where you will see the famous Indian dwellings of the Pueblo Indians that date back to 1200 AD. You could include Durango for the famous Durango – Silverton steam train.
One night Mesa Verde

Day 17: Colorado Springs
Located on the plains at the foot of Pikes Peak. Visit the “Gardens of the God’s” red rock formations set against a back drop of the 14,000 feet Pikes Peak.
One night Colorado Springs

Day 18: Denver
Drive to Denver, for your scheduled flight to the UK

The Wild West - The Bighorn National Recreation Area in Wyoming      The Wild West - Canyonlands NP

 

 

The Wild West - yellowstone canyon      The Wild West - Mount Rushmore

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] Little Gems[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Little Gems

Content coming soon

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] What our clients say[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Client Feedback

Content coming soon

[/wptabcontent]

[/wptabs]

Winter in Quebec

Posted on:
Posted by:

Avatar

 

The Province of Québec has to be the most understated of all Canadian Provinces and yet one of the friendliest, varied and attractive. The Québecois know how to celebrate winter and do so with the charm and sophistication of this delightful people.

[wptabs style=”wpui-dark” mode=”horizontal”]

[wptabtitle] Summary[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Winter in Quebec

Day 1: Montréal
Day 3: St Alexis-des-Monts
Day 6: Hotel De Glace – Quebec City
Day 7: Quebec City
Day 9: Depart Quebec City

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] Description [/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Description

 A winter holiday is not exclusively for the downhill skier and if you talk to many Canadians, they will tell you that there is a lot more to a winter holiday that simply dusting off your ski’s or snow board.  A winter holiday in Canada and Quebec in particular is about all sorts of winter adventure.  Montreal is a relatively quick hop across the Atlantic and opens up the entire province of Quebec and all that it has to offer for a winter wonderland holiday.

Day 1: Montréal
Fly to the cosmopolitan city of Montréal. Two nights here, and an opportunity to explore this vibrant city. Take a half day city tour visiting the quaint streets and buildings of Old Montreal, the intricate wrought iron balustrades of the residential district and the Olympic Stadium of the 1976 Summer games. Take in a little retail therapy in the shops of the underground city and try your hand at the tables of the Casino.
Two nights Montréal

Day 3: St Alexis-des-Monts
Moving east today, to the foothills of the Laurentians at St Alexis-des-Monts. Three nights here staying in log built accommodation in a fairytale setting of lakeshore accommodation. From here, take part in snowmobiling, cross country skiing and sightseeing flights over this winter wonderland. The province of Quebec offers a vast network of snow mobile tracks – great fun, and second nature to native Quebecois.
Three nights St Alexis

Day 6: Hotel De Glace – Quebec City
We’ve all heard tell of the Ice Hotel – but who is brave enough to spend the night in this unique environment! The Hotel De Glace, located a short distance from Quebec City is built a-fresh each winter, offering an extraordinary combination of ice-carving, and artist design.
Hotel De Glace 1 night

Day 7: Quebec City
Head into the romantic city of Quebec, dominated by the fairytale towers of the Chateau Frontenac and the imposing city wall of the old city
Quebec City 2 nights

Day 9: Depart Quebec City
Return to Montreal today for your overnight flight home to London – or perhaps squeezing one or two more nights to round off your winter holiday with a romantic stay in the Eastern Townships

More time? – then you may consider extending your stay and adding in a few nights in one of the ski areas such as Le Massif or Tremblant – skiing , snow-shoeing and ice-skating are just some of the winter activities on offer – contact us for more details

All photographs © Ministère du Tourisme du Québec

Ice Hotel - pls credit OTCQ      Piscine hiver      5.0.2

 

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] Little Gems[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Little Gems

The cosy log fire at the Hotel Sacacomie welcomes visitors as soon as you step in from the cold, stamp the snow off your boots and accept a very welcome cup of hot chocolate.  This log built hotel sits on the shores of a frozen lake of the same name – a flat plateau that provides a winter playground in itself – to land a light aircraft, cut a hole for a little ice fishing or take to the ice on dog sled or snow mobile.   This hotel is a firm favourite!

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] What our clients say[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Client Feedback

Content coming soon

[/wptabcontent]

[/wptabs]

Country: Madagascar

Posted on:
Posted by:

Avatar

 

While coming under the heading of Southern Africa, Madagascar should be in a category on its own. Firstly, being the world’s fourth largest island, there is much to do and see and almost all of it is unique. 80% of its flora and fauna is endemic added to which most of it is fascinating and beautiful to see.

This uniqueness also applies to the Malagasies themselves. Many being a mixture of African, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern origin, they vary considerably in looks and physique. Tourism has not reached mass market proportions and unlikely to do so in the near future. Expect the accommodation to be more basic than such places as Mauritius and the Seychelles, but this is part of the charm of the place.

There is so much to recommend to do for your trip to Madagascar but below are some of the highlights/suggested activities. For the fuller background to these places, do give us a call.

Highlights:

  • Spend 2 nights exploring Antanarivo, the capital, with its markets and French influenced quarters.
  • Swim with turtles at Nosy Be
  • Watch turtles laying their eggs and/or the eggs hatching at Nosy Be and other locations on the Island
  • Sail along this tropical paradise coastline on a dhow, camping on different beaches each night.
  • Visit the 30 species of lemurs in the indigenous forest National Parks that are found all over the island. Your drive to these Parks will take you through villages and paddy fields that are a feature of Madagascar.
  • Explore the drier south with its Spiny Forest in a 4×4.
  • Dive, fish or snorkel from almost all the beaches that surround Madagascar
  • Explore the old pirate haunts of the Eastern part of the Island. This is wilder and for the more adventurous.
  • Hike in the drier Western part of the Island.

Whatever your itinerary, ensure that you end with a few days lazing (or not) on one of the fabulous Madagascan beaches.

Golden Lemur          Green Turtle          Nosy Iranji

 

 

Region: Western Australia

Posted on:
Posted by:

Avatar

 

Western Australia, in our experience is a second-timers destination, and if you’ve enjoyed other parts of Australia already, just wait until you’ve seen what WA has to offer.  From the Kimberley, Broome and the Bungle Bungles in the north, through the pristine, untouched and relatively undiscovered Ningaloo Reef, to the extraordinary ecology of Shark Bay, the wild flowers in the spring, Perth and the award winning wines of the south-west – and we haven’t even started on the Nullabor, the Indian Pacific rail journey, the gold fields of Kalgoolie and the whales!

Hamelin's Pool Stromatolites Western Australia          Pinnacles Western Australia          Western Australia - KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

MEXICO – Yucatan Peninsula & Riviera Maya

Posted on:
Posted by:

Kirsty Saunders

 

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

 

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

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

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

Cancun

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

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

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

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

Tulum

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

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

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

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

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

Chichen Itza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holbox

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Iceland Self Drive Tour

Posted on:
Posted by:

Kirsty Saunders

 

This Iceland self drive tour takes you on a voyage from the West Side of Iceland through the Golden Circle area followed by a few days on the South Coast. Get familiar with Iceland’s history at the Settlement Center in Borgarnes village, visit waterfalls and hot spring areas as well as three National Parks and fishing villages.

[wptabs style=”wpui-dark” mode=”horizontal”]

[wptabtitle] Summary[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Iceland Self Drive Tour

This 7 day self drive tour will take you through some incredible landscapes and natural wonders. Visit Deildartunguhver hot spring, Hraunfossar waterfalls, The Snæfellsnes peninsula, The Golden Circle with Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir, Reynisfjara Black Beach, Seljalandfoss and Skogafoss waterfall, Sólheimajökull Glacier and  Reykjanes peninsula.

Other places of interest on enroute include Reykjavík, The Settlement Center, Shark Museum and the Skógar folk museum. There are numerous activities to consider such as Horse Riding, a Glacier hike, Snowmobiling, Lava tube caving and Whale Watching. If you visit between September and April see the amazing Northern Lights as they illuminate the sky.

Day 1: Arrival – Reykjavik

Day 2: Reykjavík & Borgarfjörður valley

Day 3: Snæfellsnes peninsula

Day 4: National Park Þingvellir, Geysir & Gullfoss waterfall

Day 5:  Waterfalls, Glacier & Reynisfjara black sand beach

Day 6: Lava landscape & hot springs of Reykjanes peninsula

Day 7: Reykjanes peninsula – Departure

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] Description [/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Description

This 7 day self drive tour will take you through some incredible landscapes and natural wonders. Visit Deildartunguhver hot spring, Hraunfossar waterfalls, The Snæfellsnes peninsula, The Golden Circle with Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir, Reynisfjara Black Beach, Seljalandfoss and Skogafoss waterfall, Sólheimajökull Glacier and  Reykjanes peninsula.

Other places of interest on enroute include Reykjavík, The Settlement Center, Shark Museum and the Skógar folk museum. There are numerous activities to consider such as Horse Riding, a Glacier hike, Snowmobiling, Lava tube caving and Whale Watching. If you visit between September and April see the amazing Northern Lights as they illuminate the sky.

 

Day 1: Arrival

Upon arrival at Keflavík International Airport, you will pick up your pre-booked rental car. If you arrive in the morning or afternoon, you might want to stop by at the Blue Lagoon on your way into the city of Reykjavík. If arriving late, you can stay for the first night closer to the airport.

 

Day 2: Reykjavík & Borgarfjörður valley

Take a walk around the most northerly located capital of the world Reykjavík. A must see are the Reykjavik city hall at lake Tjörnin, the old harbour area, Harpa concert hall and the city centre with its colourful buildings.

Head on to Borgarnes and perhaps visit the Settlement Centre before you drive upcountry. Deildartunguhver hot spring is the most active hot spring in Iceland, and the picturesque waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafoss are not far away. Guided tours of the lava cave Víðgelmir or the man made ice cave Inside the Langjökull Glacier are available all year round.

2 nights –  Borgarfjörður valley 

Photo credit: Gonorth

 

Day 3: Snæfellsnes peninsula

Make time to stop at Bjarnarhöfn farm for tasting the famous “Hákarl”, the Greenland shark. Passing by the peculiar shaped mountain Kirkjufell you´ll reach the National Park around the glacier covered volcano Snæfellsjökull.

Enjoy a walk to the black pebble beach Djúpalónssandur, the stunning rock formations of Hellnar cove and the Cliffs at Arnarstapi fishing hamlet. The lava cave “Vatnshellir” offers guided tours daily.

On the sand beaches of Búðir and Ytri-Tunga, seals can be spotted whilst resting on the rocky coast. Visit the basalt columns in Gerðuberg, or hike to the crater of Eldborg, the “fire castle”, to round up the visit to the peninsula.

1 night – Snæfellsnes peninsula

The seals at Hvitanes, in the Isafjardardjup region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4: National Park Þingvellir, Geysir & Gullfoss waterfall

Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Park Þingvellir while walking through the Almannagjá rift, passing the first parliament site, the Althing, to the waterfall Öxaráfoss.

Your journey takes you to the geysers, where the hot spring Strokkur erupts every five minutes or so. At the majestic waterfall Gullfoss a footpath leads to the edge of the falls where you can feel the spray on your face.

Treat yourself with tomato ice cream at the greenhouses at Friðheimar, or relax in the Secret Lagoon geothermal pool.

2 nights – Hella

Photo credit: Gonorth 

 

 

Day 5:  Waterfalls, Glacier & Reynisfjara black sand beach

Today perhaps start with an unforgettable walk behind Seljalandsfoss waterfall or take the stairs to the brim of waterfall Skógafoss. Also The local folk- and transport museum Skógasafn is well worth a visit. The exhibits include an original turf farm, the first vehicles to drive onto a glacier, and an uncountable collection of items depicting daily working life of days gone by.

You can join a Glacier hike or Snowmobile tour at the Sólheimajökull Glacier, before heading on to the bird cliffs of Dyrhólaey. See the rock arch and the grand view from the lighthouse over the endless seeming coastline. Also the fascinating black beach at Reynisfjara with its basalt columns is only a short drive away.

1 night

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6: Lava landscape & hot springs of Reykjanes peninsula

Today allow time for activities such as visiting the lava cave Raufarholshellir, a horse riding tour, the exhibition of the geothermal power station Hellisheiðarvirkjun or the ghost museum in Stokkseyir.

 

Day 7: Departure

Head back to the airport today for your onward flight. You will need to return your rental car before departure. For later departures you may have time to explore more of the Reykjanes peninsula before you go.

The village Hveragerði was built around natural hotsprings, heating the greenhouses where mainly flowers are grown today. Enjoy a detour to the picturesque fishing villages of Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri before heading on to Reykjanes peninsula with its raw lava landscape. Make your way to the fumaroles and mud hot springs at Krisuvik and Kleifarvatn Lake. The milky blue geothermal water of the Blue Lagoon are known for the therapeutic benefits, and unique relaxation.

You will now be at the end of the 7 day Iceland self-drive tour, so your accommodation for the night will be located close to the airport.

1 night

 

 

 

 

 

 

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] Little Gems[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Little Gems

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] What our clients say[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Client Feedback

Content coming soon
[/wptabcontent]

[/wptabs]

Wildlife of New Zealand

Posted on:
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

 

Japan in 14 Days

Posted on:
Posted by:

Kirsty Saunders

 

Japan in 14 days. This trip will introduce you to all the highlights Japan has to offer starting from Tokyo and finishing in Osaka. Travel by rail using the Japan Rail Pass, and experience Japan’s famous Bullet train. Stay in Japan’s major cities and experience a traditional Ryokan stay along the way.

A country with fascinating history, an intriguing culture, stunning scenery and delicious cuisine, Japan is a country that offers a diverse mix of attractions. There truly is something for everyone here! The following itinerary will certainly give you a taste of what Japan has to offer.

[wptabs style=”wpui-dark” mode=”horizontal”]

[wptabtitle] Summary[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Japan in 14 Days 

This 14-day trip will introduce you to all the highlights Japan has to offer starting from Tokyo and finishing in Osaka. Travel by rail using the Japan Rail Pass, and experience Japan’s famous Bullet train. Stay in Japan’s major cities and experience a traditional Ryokan stay along the way.

Day 1: Arrive Tokyo

Day 4: Hakone

Day 5: Takayama

Day 6: Kanazawa

Day 8: Kyoto

Day 11: Hyroshima

Day 13: Osaka

Day 14: Depart Osaka

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] Description [/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Description

 

Day 1: Tokyo

Arrive in Tokyo. Japan’s bustling capital mixes the ultramodern and the traditional, from neon-lit skyscrapers and anime shops to cherry trees and temples. The opulent Meiji Shinto Shrine is known for its towering gate and surrounding forests and The Imperial Palace sits amid sprawling public gardens. The city is famed for its vibrant food scene, and its Shibuya and Harajuku districts are the heart of its trendy teen fashion scene.

Tokyo 3 nights

 

Days 2&3: Tokyo

For the next two days explore Tokyo at your leisure. At over 12 million people in the official metropolitan area alone, Tokyo is the core of the most populated urban areas in the world, (Greater Tokyo has a population of 35 million people). This huge, wealthy and fascinating metropolis brings high-tech visions of the future along side with glimpses of old Japan. There is something here for everyone.

photo courtesy of JTB Japan Specialists

 

Day 4: Hakone

Check out of your accommodation and make your way to Odawara Station, using your JR Pass. From here, use your Hakone Free Pass to explore the area at your leisure before making your way to your accommodation. Stay for a night in a traditional ryokan with hot spring baths. Here Futon mattresses will be prepared on the tatami mat floor and a Japanese ‘kaiseki’ cuisine will be served.

Hakone is located in the mountainous far west of Kanagawa Prefecture, on the eastern side of Hakone Pass about 1hr 15 mins from Tokyo. Most of the town is within the borders of the volcanically active Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, and centred around Lake Ashi.  Hakone is famous for hot springs, outdoor activities, and natural beauty with the view of nearby Mt. Fuji.  Besides being the home of Japan’s oldest and most famous spa, the town has an interesting history, beautiful surroundings and a cool climate all year round. This makes it one of the most popular destinations among Japanese and international tourists looking for a break from Tokyo.

photo courtesy of JTB Japan Specialists

Hakone 1 night

 

Day 5: Takayama

This morning make your way to Takayama using your JR Pass (approx. 5 hours in total). On arrival you will be free to explore for the rest of the day.

Hida-Takayama known locally as just Takayama – is a city near the Northern Japan Alps of Gifu prefecture in the Chubu region. Takayama has retained a traditional atmosphere like few other Japanese towns, especially in its beautifully preserved old town. The city is famous for its well-preserved quarter with Edo-style streets, only rivalled by those of Kanazawa. It gained importance as a source of high-quality timber and highly skilled carpenters in feudal times. The Takayama Festival, held in spring and autumn, is considered one of Japan’s best festivals.

photo courtesy of JTB Japan Specialist

 

 

 

 

 

 

Takayama 1 night

 

 

 

Day 6: Kanazawa

Today you will make your way to Kanazawa on the Japanese rail system. Another option would be to take the bus from Takayama to Kanazawa, stopping at Shirawago village on the way*. The area is a UNESCO world heritage site, famous for its distinctive thatched farmhouses.

Kanazawa 2 nights

 

Day 7: Kanazawa

Today you will be free to explore Kanazawa.

Kanazawa sits on the Sea of Japan’s coast, bordered by the Northern Alps, Hakusan National Park and Noto Peninsula National Park. During the Edo Period, Kanazawa served as the seat of the Maeda Clan, the second most powerful feudal clan after the Tokugawa. Kanazawa then grew to become a town of great cultural achievements, rivalling Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo). Kanazawa is part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Crafts and Folk Art.

photo courtesy of JTB Japan Specialist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 8: Kyoto

This morning you will make your way to Kyoto using your JR Pass. You could opt to take the Thunderbird Limited Express directly to Kyoto (approx. 2 hours). Upon arrival, please make your way to your accommodation where you can check in at your earliest convenience. The rest of the day is then free at your leisure.

Kyoto 3 nights

 

Days 9&10: Kyoto

Explore Kyoto for the next 2 days. This city is in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.

Kyoto is considered to be the centre of Japan’s cultural life. Here cherished traditional art forms are maintained, making it a rich experience for the visitor. With more than 1,600 Buddhist temples and 270 Shinto shrines, the city is one of the world’s greatest cultural treasures and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite functioning as a modern city today, in many ways it stands in contrast to the metropolis of Tokyo.

photo courtesy of JTB Japan Specialists

 

Day 11: Hiroshima

This morning the bulk of your luggage will be transported to your accommodation in Osaka. You will make your way to Hiroshima by rail, with an overnight bag. This journey will take approx. 2 hours by bullet train. The rest of the day is then free at your leisure.

Hiroshima 2 nights

 

 Day 12: Hiroshima

Today you are free to explore Hiroshima and the island of Miyajima (or shrine island). Hear you can visit one of the crown jewels of the country: Itsukushima floating shrine. (Please note that the floating shrine is undergoing renovation until June 2021.)

The principal city of the Chugoku Region and home to over a million inhabitants, Hiroshima is an industrial city of wide boulevards and criss-crossing rivers, located along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea. Although many only know it for that horrific split-second on August 6, 1945 when it became the site of the world’s first atomic bomb attack, it is now a modern, cosmopolitan city with great restaurants and nightlife.

photo courtesy of JTB Japan Specialists

 

Day 13: Osaka

Today travel to Osaka, by rail where you will be free to explore for the rest of the day. With a population of 2.5 million, Osaka is Japan’s third largest and second most important city. It has been the economic powerhouse of the Kansai region for many centuries. It is the central metropolis of the Kansai region and the largest of the Osaka-Kobe–Kyoto trio. The historic cities of Kyoto, Kobe, Himeji and Nara are nearby and easily accessible by train.

photo courtesy of JTB Japan Specialists

Osaka 1 night

 

Day 14: Osaka 

Depart Osaka for the onward journey.

 

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] Little Gems[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Little Gems

[/wptabcontent]

[wptabtitle] What our clients say[/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Client Feedback

Coming soon!
[/wptabcontent]

[/wptabs]

Cities of the Far East

Posted on:
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

img.centered { display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; }

Newsletter

To receive all the latest tips an advice enter your email address below

 

CLICK HERE >>> to see Newsletter Archives.

Follow Us

 

Experience Holidays is fully bonded under the Civil Aviation Authority ATOL scheme and is a member of the Worldchoice Consortium.
All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays sold by us on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.caa.co.uk
Book your holiday with confidence, safe in the knowledge that your money is protected and your holiday is in safe hands.

Not all holiday or travel services offered on this website will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Those package arrangements which do not include any flights and therefore not protected by our ATOL are covered by TRIP. See TRIP statement here.