• Mashatu Botswana  - credit Bethan Evans

Kwazulu Natal

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

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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
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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

 

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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!
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Victoria

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Explore the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians National Park in this itinerary.

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Victoria

Each Australian state has its own highlights and Victoria is no exception

Day 1: Melbourne
Day 4: Yarra Valley
Day 5: Walhalla
Day 7: Mornington Peninsula
Day 9: Apollo Bay
Day 10: Warrnambool
Day 11: Port Fairy
Day 12 : Hall’s Gap
Day 14: Ballarat
Day 15: Mebourne

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Description

Each Australian state has its own highlights and Victoria is no exception, from cosmopolitan Melbourne to the beauty of the rugged coast, from the wines of the Yarra Valley to the walking trails of the Grampians.  This idea concentrates only on the state of Victoria, but could easily link in part of full to a wider Australian itinerary.

Day 1: Melbourne
Arrive into the city, where we recommend at least a 3 night stay. Hop on board the free City Circle Tram to visit the main city sights and attractions. Sports fans will enjoy a tour of Melbourne Cricket Ground. Explore Melbourne from the water on a cruise along the Yarra River past Melbourne’s parks and gardens and Herring Island. Explore historic Williamstown.
Melbourne 3 nights

Day 4: Yarra Valley
Collect a hire car this morning and drive out to Yarra Valley. Take an authentic historic steam train through the scenic Dandenong Ranges or perhaps take a hot air balloon ride for spectacular views of the valley and surrounding areas.
Yarra Valley 1 night

Day 5: Walhalla
Drive to the remote town of Walhalla, once a thriving gold mining town – visit the restored Goldfields Railway, or Long Tunnel Mine. The valley is a rain forest area with some lovely walks; the more adventurous may consider an extended overnight walk.
Walhalla 2 nights

Day 7: Mornington Peninsula
Back to the coast and the Mornington Peninsula to begin your journey along the Great Ocean Road. On Philip Island enjoy spectacular coastal scenery and an abundance of wildlife.
Mornington Peninsula 2 nights

Day 9: Apollo Bay
This morning take the ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliffe. Drive to Apollo Bay for an overnight stay. Keen hikers may extend their time here to include one of the excellent guided or self-guided walks along the coastal path.
Apollo Bay 1 night

Day 10: Warrnambool
Continue along the Great Ocean Drive, stopping at the Twelve Apostles visitor centre where you can take a dramatic helicopter flight. Continue on to Warrnambool where you overnight stop could include dinner and the sound and light show at Flagstaff Hill.
Warrnambool 1 night

Day 11: Port Fairy
Begin your day with a second daylight visit to Flagstaff Hill followed by a tour of Tower Hill, an extinct volcano. Continue on to Port Fairy; keen golfers may consider a round here
Port Fairy 1 night

Day 12 : Hall’s Gap
Inland to The Grampians where a 2 night stay gives you a full day to explore the area – keen walkers may want to extend this.
Halls Gap 2 nights

Day 14: Ballarat
Head east with an overnight stop at Ballarat, Victoria’s largest inland city. Visit the former gold mining site of Sovereign Hill and the opportunity to pan for real gold
Ballarat 1 night

Day 15: Mebourne
Return to Melbourne for your return home or to continue your Australia exploration…

Photographs Tourism Australia Copyright

Great Ocean Road      Vic - Melbourne      Vic - Twelve Apostles

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Little Gems

A helicopter ride over the Twelve Apostles will settle the conundrum of exactly how many ‘apostles’ there are once and for all.  You may like to buy a DVD of your trip to remind you of a great day out – and don’t forget to take your own camera too.

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Tropical North Queensland

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Explore Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest in this itinerary. ‘Beautiful one day – perfect the next’ more than adequately describes Tropical North Queensland 

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Tropical North Queensland

‘Beautiful one day – perfect the next’ more than adequately describes Tropical North Queensland and although travellers can and do visit year round, do beware that the months of December through to March are the wet season – you may get wet! 

Day 1: Cairns
Day 2: Cape Tribulation
Day 3: Palm Cove
Day 7: Return to Cairns

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Description

Day 1: Cairns
Arrive in Cairns and collect hire car before heading north; the Captain Cook Highway soon reduces to a single carriageway, hugging the coast as it wends its way to Port Douglas. Spend two nights in Port Douglas, a pretty little town with an attractive marina, good shopping and home to the famous Iron Bar on Macrossan Street.
Port Douglas 2 nights

Day 2: Cape Tribulation
Take a full day drive north to the Daintree National Park and on to Cape Tribulation. See the perfect white sandy beaches as Captain Cook saw them many years before. Stop at the one of the many excellent boardwalk trails into the Rain Forest, or climb the observation tower giving you fabulous views over the canopy.
Cape Tribulation 1 night

Day 3: Palm Cove
Return south to Palm Cove for a further 3 nights. We suggest that on one of the days here you take a full day trip out on the Great Barrier Reef; your boat will take you to the pontoon for the opportunity to dive, snorkel or view this amazing living garden from underwater observation decks. See exotic fish of all colours and sizes. On the other full day take a trip on the Kuranda Skyrail, a gondola journey skimming you over the top of the rain forest canopy to Kuranda. You will see the Barron Falls and may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the railway on the other side of the valley.
Palm Cove 3 nights

Day 7
Return to Cairns for your journey home or onward journey.

Photographs Copyright Australia Tourism

Cape Tribulation      Fitzroy Island Great Barrier Reef      Great Barrier Reef

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Little Gems

Hotels come and hotels go or change ownership, but the The Reef House in Palm Cove has remained one of our favourites for many years.  Simple colonial elegance probably describes it best and the honesty bar is still as good as ever it was – we love it!

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Client Feedback

The end of the rainy season and the box jellyfish season in Tropical Queensland was not an issue. Virtually no rain and as we are not avid sea-bathers the ‘stingers’ (as they call them) didn’t bother us so we didn’t bother them, although we did notice some areas of beaches had an anti-stinger (and anti-shark) boom around them. We would have no hesitation in recommending all of the aspects of the itinerary and no hesitation in recommending you and your company. Thanks for a wonderful holiday.

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The Wild West Story

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Start and finish in Denver on this spectacular drive.

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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

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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

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Little Gems

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Winter in Quebec

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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.

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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

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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

 

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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!

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Region: Western Australia

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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

 

Iceland Self Drive Tour

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Little Gems

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Three Interesting US Cities in One Trip

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Kirsty Saunders

 

This 11-night suggested itinerary combines three interesting US cities into one trip on the East Coast. See iconic buildings, explore world renowned visitor attractions, shop until you drop and experience unique culinary delights.  With excellent rail links it is easy to travel between the three cities, either in the following order or in reverse.

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Three Interesting US Cities in One Trip

Washington, New York and BostonThis 11-night suggested itinerary combines three interesting US cities into one trip on the East Coast. See iconic buildings, explore world renowned visitor attractions, shop until you drop and experience unique culinary delights.  With excellent rail links it is easy to travel between the three cities, either in the following order or in reverse.

Day 1 : Washington DC

Day 5 : New York City

Day 9 :Boston

Day 12 : Depart

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Description

Washington, New York and BostonThis 11-night suggested itinerary combines three interesting US cities into one trip on the East Coast. See iconic buildings, explore world renowned visitor attractions, shop until you drop and experience unique culinary delights.  With excellent rail links it is easy to travel between the three cities, either in the following order or in reverse.

 

Day 1 Washington DC: Arrive in Washington DC; the Nation’s capital and the hub of the USA administration.  From its celebrated symbols of patriotism to its undiscovered neighbourhoods, the sights and sounds of the nation’s capital inspire millions of visitors every year. Packed with famous sights, free attractions, and an endless calendar of special events, Washington DC offers year-round inspiring experiences. Beyond Washington DC’s most familiar vistas, the capital city unwinds into a lively urban centre.  Casual cafes and upscale bistros line the trendy streets of Georgetown, while the downtown district sizzles with a host of new restaurants. Spontaneous Jazz notes tumble out the windows of U Street’s nightclubs, while world-class performers take the stage at the highly acclaimed Kennedy Center. Kayakers tackle the Potomac River as it winds past the elegant marble tributes to America’s great leaders.

4 nights in Washington

White House

 

Photo courtesy of Angie Watson

Day 5 New York City: Travel by Amtrak train to New York City. Of all the cities ever featured anywhere in any travel publication, surely New York must be the one that needs no introduction!  The ‘Big Apple’ sets the adrenalin pumping at the merest mention of the name, and add to this images of the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Garden, the Rockefeller Centre and so many more, and suddenly you need to be there, experiencing the buzz of this vibrant city.  The very ground you walk on is throbbing with activity and excitement.  Take a loop tour to acquaint yourself with the different areas of Manhattan, and then lose yourself in trendy Greenwich Village and Soho.  Visit the iconic stores of Macy’s and Bloomingdales or wander through Central Park.

4 nights in New York

 

Day 9 Boston: Travel by Amtrak train to Boston.  The home of the famous Boston Tea Party and gateway to New England. Boston is an intriguing mix of the historic (by American standards) and the modern, with high-rise modern buildings giving way to the quaint side streets of a former time.  The Freedom Trail, the red line in the pavement, takes the visitor on a walking trail around the main attractions of the city – or jump on one of the city tours to get your bearings.

3 nights in Boston

Photo courtesy of Harry Lipson III

 

Day 12: Depart Boston for your onward or homeward journey.

 

Optional extra: Philadelphia

Turn three cities into four by slotting in a stay in Philadelphia between Washington DC and New York. Philadelphia is Perhaps not at the top of everyone’s list, but none-the-less an interesting city, and well worth a visit.  Most famously known as the birthplace of American democracy, a visit to Philadelphia should include a trip the Liberty Bell Centre and Independence Hall – a quick call at the Visitor Centre will set you on your way.  If retail therapy is for you, then Philadelphia is a must as there is no sales tax on clothing and shoes.  For those visitors not in the first bloom of youth, you may remember Sylvester Stallone’s epic climb of the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Arts in the first Rocky movie way back in the 70’s!

 

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Consider going for cocktails or dinner at New York’s only revolving restaurant which overlooks Times Square.

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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

 

Japan in 14 Days

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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.

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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

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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.

 

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