• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

Coastal Pacific Rolls Again!

Posted on:
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

Sri Lanka – Including The North

Posted on:
Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Sri Lanka has a history dating back to the birth of time.  It is a place where the original soul of Buddhism still flourishes and where the lands beauty remains abundant and unspoilt. Very few places in the world can offer the traveller such a remarkable combination of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches, captivating cultural heritage and unique experiences within such a compact location.

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Sri Lanka – Including The North

This itinerary would suit for your second visit to Sri Lanka or if you have more time and an interest in this fascinating area on the island. The North is dryer than the rest of Sri Lanka and has a distinct Tamil influence which gives you yet another dimension to this intriguing destination.

Day 1:   Mud House

Day 3:   Jaffna

Day 6:   Coast stay

Day 9:   Sigiriya

Day 12:   Kandy

Day 14:   Home or extend your tour to include much more of the island.

Sri Lanka

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

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[wptabtitle] Description [/wptabtitle] [wptabcontent]

Description

 

 

This itinerary would suit for your second visit to Sri Lanka or if you have more time and an interest in this fascinating area on the island. The North is dryer than the rest of Sri Lanka and has a distinct Tamil influence which gives you yet another dimension to this intriguing destination.

 

Day 1

Your guide/driver will meet you once you have cleared immigration and head north from Colombo. For the bold there is an option to stay in a rustic lodge which has a great reputation for its food, most of which is grown in their grounds. However there are more traditional lodges who will welcome you just as well. A full day exploring Wilpattu National Park, which is much quieter than most of the other Parks and has good numbers of elephant, deer, leopard, crocs and a host of birds.

1 night in Wilpattu area

Day 3

On your way to the far north you will visit Anuradhapura, the ancient capital of Sri Lanka. The Dagobas (Stupa) here are huge, intricate and a feat of engineering especially when you consider when they were built. The lake here is man made and again built 2,500 years ago. Finally visit the Bo Tree – a truly holy place for Buddhists as it is claimed to have grown from a branch of the Bo tree under which Buddha received enlightenment.

As you cross on to the Jaffna Peninsula you pass through Elephant Pass where there is a museum about the recent civil war. Jaffna itself has a European fort that goes back to 1632 and over the next few days explore the beaches and Hindu Temples of the region, particularly at Point Pedro.

3 nights Jaffna

Day 6

Come down the east coast of Sri Lanka and you come to Trincomalee, one of the world’s biggest and safest natural harbours. Time to relax on silver sanded beaches. For the more energetic a trip out to Pigeon Island gives you wonderful diving and snorkelling opportunities.

3 nights North East coast/ Trincomalee

Day 9

Sigiriya is your next destination with its Lion Rock or “The Fortress in the Sky”. Here an ancient king built his palace on the top of an ancient volcanic plug and the ruins are spectacular with views around that encompass the surrounding country. The frescoes half way up the Rock are beautiful and amazingly fresh.

While here you can visit Polonnaruwa, another ancient capital if Sri Lanka with an excellent museum, a host of temples and array of Buddhas in different poses carved in to the rock. On the way back visit Minneriya National Park famous for being the home of elephant, buffalo, crocs and, if you are lucky, leopard.

3 nights Sigiriya

Day 12

Your final destination takes you in to the hills of Sri Lanka and another old capital Kandy. On the way up you will stop at Dambulla to visit the caves here that have several hundred statues of the Buddha of varying ages.

While in Kandy you will visit the Temple of the Tooth, the most holy place for Buddhist on the Island, which is close to a man made like to give a tranquil feel to the scene. If time allows visit the Botanic Gardens for a treat of orchids and tropical trees and plants.

2 nights Kandy

Day 14

Return to Colombo International Airport for your flight home.

Sigiriya Rock

Picture courtesy of Jetwing Travels

 

Sri Lanka

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Sri Lanka

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Sri Lanka

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Sri Lanka

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Sigiriya Rock

Picture courtesy of Jetwing Travels

 

 

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Little Gems

Walking along the perfectly preserved Dutch/Portuguese/British battlements of the Star Fort at Galle and gazing down on a turtle feeding on the seaweed just below. Then retiring to the shade of a restaurant in the town (unchnged exteriors) for a reviving glass of beer while watching the world go by.
 
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Client Feedback

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country with a very interesting and documented history.  We had a very good driver who was also a very knowledgeable and excellent guide.  Nothing was too much trouble, and he even accompanied us on all of our outings including climbing the Sigiriya Rock and the Rock Mass at the Dambulla Caves.

(Mr & Mrs Rees – Feb 2017)

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The Lighthouse Route of Nova Scotia, Canada

Posted on:
Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

Region: Atlantic Canada

 

Come and celebrate the timeless romance of the sea, in the stunning scenery of Atlantic Canada. The Lighthouse Route journeys through an unforgettable landscape of coastal beauty and historic charm that has captured the hearts and minds of travellers for generations. Imagine the landscape as it was when Champlain and de Monts first arrived here four centuries ago. Follow shoreline roads past rugged, wave-carved headlands and tranquil, island-studded bays. Discover historic towns and weathered fishing villages where legends of the sea come alive and the rhythm of life moves in harmony with the tides.

The Lighthouse Route follows Nova Scotia’s South Shore, where the past is a part of everyday life. You’ll find it along quiet country roads where ox teams still haul lumber, and coastal villages where fishermen still row wooden dories out to sea. Explore towns like Liverpool, with its privateer legends, and Lunenburg, where a working blacksmith still plies his trade amidst the beautifully preserved buildings of the old town district. And yes, they do have lighthouses, over twenty of them, from the dramatic beauty of the famous lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove to Yarmouth’s towering Cape Forchu light.

This is a wonderful self drive destination, with B&B and small hotels along the way to make your journey special. The owners of these places will be more than happy to suggest places to visit locally and where to enjoy the local produce. Summer is the key time to go but late spring and early autumn are also well worth considering.

Call or email us for more information on tailor made holidays to Canada: Tel: 01323 446550 or Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Shelburne on Nova Scotia's Lighthouse Route

Picture courtesy of Nova Scotia Tourism Culture and Heritage

Lunenburg waterfront on Nova Scotia's Lighthouse Route

Picture courtesy of Nova Scotia Tourism Culture and Heritage

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