Located approximately 900 miles east of Australia, and 600 miles south of New Caledonia, Fiji and Tonga in the South Pacific, New Zealand is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. New Zealand is comprised of two large islands, North and South Islands. In an effort to maintain the islands’ cultural identities, the North Island is now also referred to as Te Ika-a-Maui - Fish of Maui, from the ancient Maori legend of Maui and his brothers who were said to have fished up the North Island of New Zealand from their canoe. The South Island is now also known as Te Waipounamu - meaning the place of greenstone. As a whole, the country is divided into 25 regions, each offering its own history, culture and unique points of interest.
After the unfortunate incident at the Westgate Mall on September 21, 2013, the risk to the country’s tourism industry was of major concern to its top officials. Tourism generates 14% of Kenya’s GDP and employs 12% of its workforce, according to Moody’s and World Travel and Tourism Council.
Predictions are high on the actual cost to Kenya’s economy with number ranging from $200 to $250 million in lost tourism revenue. The good news is that in addition to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s vow that he would stand firm against terrorism, most foreign missions and governments continue to show support to Kenya and the country continues to rebound from this attack. One area in which the country continues to lead is in the area of responsible tourism and I would like to highlight some of the special practices used by many of the lodges and camps that make Kenya a remarkable destination.
With velvet-green hills and dells, rivers rushing from high mountains to moon-shaped bays, sandy estuaries lined with cockle and mussel beds, and miles of coastline lapped by the Celtic Sea’s wave-struck waters, Wales has inspired countless poets and writers, dramatists and musicians. In 2014, Wales celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dylan Thomas, the country’s greatest poet and writer, and author of classics like Fern Hill and Under Milk Wood. The Dylan Thomas 100 Festival will be an unparalleled international outpouring of poetry readings, music and dance performances, literary symposia and art exhibits. Some events are slated for Cardiff, the Welsh capital, others for London and New York, but most will unfold in South Wales, chiefly in Swansea, where the poet was born, and in Laugharne, where he spent his final years. On a weeklong trip to Wales, explore the poet’s haunts, from lively pubs where he savored ale with “live white lather” and “brass-bright depths” to his final resting place, and be charmed by the same “water lidded lands” and “harp shaped hills” that inspired him.
Choosing the right resort for the entire family can be a vacation wild card. Although all offer beds for heads, only a handful make sure the grown-ups don’t need another holiday once they get home. Whether the kids are old enough to show off their new shoes or still learning to tie their shoelaces, savvy hotels are keeping kids amused with more than beach volleyball and video games.
If you have always wanted to be a guest at the biggest party of the season, head to Brazil from February 28 through March 4, 2014 to celebrate Carnival. Just before Lent, and beginning on the Friday prior to Fat Tuesday, Brazil comes alive with Carnival’s music, dancing, parades and spectacular costumes.
It was called “The Great War” and “The War to End All Wars.” But, before long, World War I became “The Forgotten War,” eclipsed by the even greater atrocities in World War II. As Belgium’s Great World War I Centenary approaches in 2014, the spotlight shines once again on West Flanders, the country’s westernmost province, where many of the war’s most iconic battles were fought. In the Westhoek region, explore as far north as Nieuwpoort and the North Sea beaches, where nearby plains were flooded to repel German invaders, as far south as Ypres, where the Ypres Salient became one of the Western Front’s most active war theaters, and as far east as Flanders Field American Cemetery, where our troops lie buried not far from where Canadian doctor Lt. Col. John McCrae penned the immortal words: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row.”
The options are endless when it comes to luxury safaris. It seems expansions and renovation plans are consistently happening around Southern Africa. Which lodge is best for your client? We’ll break it down here for the latest and greatest news on high-end safaris so your clients won’t have to skimp on comfort while they’re out in the wild.
In South Africa, Singita officially just reopened their revitalized and renovated Castelon House (www.singita.com) in the Sabi Sand Reserve. Once the private home of the owners of Singita, the Bailes family, Castleton is an exclusive retreat accommodating up to twelve guests at a time. The main building is a stone-walled farm house overlooking the African wilderness with three safari cottages for a total of six rooms, all designed in a traditional African colonial style connected on pathways to the main house. This very private retreat is nestled within one of the most beautiful reserves in southern Africa, Sabi Sands.
The view from 1,500 feet above Tasmania’s Freycinet National Park is jaw-dropping. Intricately carved mountains and huge rock masses erupt out of the Tasmanian Sea. Water swirls around them and crashes against their rocks. The sea slithers to the shores of sandy bays, leaving a layer of white foam in its wake.
Australia’s sparsely populated, mountainous, southern island state is best known for its stunning panoramas, historic prisons, friendly people and of course, the Tasmanian devil. (Actually, these endangered creatures are not that fearsome.) The real Tasmanian devils were the eighteenth-century commandants of the island’s many penal colonies.
By touring any or all of the Convict Trail’s 11 penal sites, visitors can learn about the harsh prison life that men, women and even children - age seven and up - suffered. Punishment was ruthless. For example, a prisoner could land in solitary confinement for insolence.
The Indian state of Gujarat is located in the western part of the country, and offers a look at civilizations that date back as far as 4,000 years. Near the capital city of Ahmedabad, both Lothal and Dholavira are important archeological sites, displaying the ruins of ancient cultures. Gujarat is also known for its stepwells, or water buildings, which were once an important part of life in this region, providing water for drinking and bathing. There are over 120 stepwells in this state alone. In Gujarat, visitors should also be sure to see some of the Jain Temples in Palitana and learn about the Asiatic Lion, whose last home in the world is in the Gir Forest in Gujarat. Indeed, it is a colorful region, filled with much of the culture from bygone eras.
Two summers ago, I took my then-12-year-old son, Gavin, to China. We spent the first part of the trip gliding along the Yangtze photographing the natural scenery and taking in the breathtaking views. I loved it, but he was completely bored. We went to see the Terracotta Warriors uncovered at Xi’an. His history textbooks had come to life, but one tomb was enough for him -- not three hours. Again, he was bored. However, things started to pick up for him when he got to play with a Chinese yo-yo in the Beijing hutongs with some local children, when he took a motorcycle sidecar ride to the Great Wall, and when he got to watch the chef-owner at the boutique Orchid Hotel (www.theorchidbeijing.com) prepare a gourmet breakfast of peppered eggs with coconut milk -- a dish Gavin still recalls as the best eggs he ever had.