InStyle Vacations's Blog

This Entire Caribbean Island is now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
This small French Caribbean island is known as the Isle of Flowers, the Rum Capital of the World, and now, its land mass, along with the marine zone around it, has become an over 12-million acre globally recognized eco-reserve.

Martinique has been inducted into UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Program, so now over 5% of the Earth’s landmass is recognized for conservation of biodiversity, environmental education research, and sustainable development. The organization describes Martinique as “the 12th biosphere reserve along the volcanic arc of the Caribbean, one of the world’s 35 biodiversity hotspots. Its richness is unique, as it includes many endemic species living in rare and endangered habitats.”

It adds how remarkable the French Caribbean island’s geology is, featuring the 4,583-foot Mount Pelée volcano (pictured above), sleeping ‘mornes’ (or small mountains) and a coastline of bays and coves. The rainforest covering the island’s foothills and the mangroves along its coastline demonstrate its vital role as part of an ecological corridor between the Americas.


The UNESCO Biosphere recognition also comes in part as acknowledgment of the island’s commitment to sustainable economic and social development while preserving their local natural and cultural wealth, which is a key element required for UNESCO recognition.

Fewer than 400,000 people live in Martinique, and most are involved in food production or tourism.
 
With all the infrastructure as an overseas region of France, Martinique’s unspoiled beaches, volcanic peaks, rainforests, waterfalls, streams, and other natural wonders are unparalleled in the Caribbean, giving visitors the best of both worlds, and making it the perfect destination for nature lovers.

Two-thirds of Martnique is protected parkland. Its warm, humid climate nurtures a vast array of vivid tropical blooms, as well as a hundred species of orchids, leading to its nickname as the Isle of Flowers.


Rainforest trees also abound. Mahogany, magnolias, and bamboo all tower as tall as more than 10 people, and yet are still dwarfed by Martinique’s yellow mangroves, chestnuts, and white palm trees, sea grapes, and manchineel trees.
 
An incredible 80+ miles of well-maintained hiking trails of differing levels take active visitors through beaches, bays, and mountain rainforests, through nature reserves and past lighthouses, up Mount Pelée volcano, and across coastal paths.


You can also experience Martinique’s extraordinary natural wonders by horseback, mountain bike, kayaking or canoeing excursion. For even more adrenaline, try canyoning, where you climb to the top of a waterfall, look down into the mists of the tumbling waters—and take an incredible leap into the void below. Or get a taste of its world-famous surfing scene.
 
There’s much more to Martinique than its magnificent tropical eco-experiences. You’ll use Euro as the local currency, and hear French spoken as the official language, but then Martinique’s unique qualities takeover, including Afro-Caribbean Creole character, cuisine, musical heritage, art, culture, everyday language and identity.

Start Your Trip!


Images courtesy of Martinique Tourism: https://us.martinique.org/

This Old Ship is the Caribbean's Great New Dive Destination
Sunken wrecks aren’t just fascinating destinations for underwater exploration or fantasies of pirate ‘days of yore’. Properly and carefully submerged, wrecks enhance natural reef ecosystems and provide new homes for marine plants and creatures.

A new submerged ship is about to become a prime diving attraction in the 2nd-largest barrier reef in the world. It will also contribute to sustainability in a number of ways.

“The Wit Concrete” ship is a 375-foot long, 58-foot wide, and 38-foot deep ship originally built during WW2, one of the largest concrete ships built during wartime. Over its hard-working life, the ship had different tasks, beginning as a floating transfer station for supplies along the U.S. Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard during the war, up to its most recent ‘life’ as a storage vessel for molasses by Belize Sugar Industries.

Upon retiring the ship, the company donated it to the Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association to submerge.
The Turneffe Atoll is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Sometimes called the Great Maya Reef, this UNESCO World Heritage site stretches 700 miles from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, south along the Caribbean coasts of Belize, Guatamala and Honduras.

Nearly a third of the system lies along Belize’s coastline.

That includes the Turneffe Atoll, a 30-mile long chain of ‘cayes’ (mini-islands, pronounced ‘keys’) that covers over 300,000 acres just 20 miles off the coast of Belize City. Belize declared the atoll a national marine reserve in 2012.

Over 500 species of fish, 65 types of corals, sea turtles, manatees, dolphins, marine birds and other wildlife call the chain of cayes and their waters, mangroves and seagrass shallows home. Surrounded by deep ocean, the Turneffe Atoll is considered the largest, and most biologically diverse coral atoll in the country and the entire Mesoamerican Reef marine ecoregion.

The Turneffe Atoll is already a prime destination for sustainable ocean tourism, including ecotours, snorkeling, diving and salt-water sport fishing. For those in the know, it’s one of the best places for a sport-fishing ‘Grand Slam’ – that is: catching a bone-fish, permit and tarpon all on the same day at sea.

Sustainable dive tourism to the Turneffe Atoll is getting a big boost, too, with the submerging of The Wit.

Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA) is in charge of day-to-day operations of the reserve. TASA worked with Artificial Reefs International, an organization with expertise in the planned submersion of ships. Local marine experts cleaned and prepped The Wit to create, add or widen access points for divers and sealife to enter and exit the ship, and remove any hazardous materials, meeting US Environmental Protection Agency standards that avoid any negative impact of the ship on its new home on the ocean floor.

All that was done in prepareation for The Wit to be towed to the Turneffe Atoll and carefully sunk in a designated place, to begin a new and final life on the ocean floor in the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.

The benefits are three-fold. First, “The Wit Turneffe” is a new dive destination for Belize and the entire region. It puts Belize on the map as the home of one of the largest wreck dive attractions in the Caribbean.

In fact, The Wit Concrete’s sister ship – TheWitConcrete II – was sunk in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the ‘90’s, where it has become of that destination’s premier dive sites and top marine attraction.

“Wreck diving is an increasingly popular activity that draws a select population of environmentally-conscious divers from across the world,” says Valdemar Andrade, Executive Director of TASA.

Attracting divers provides new income for the marine reserve and local stakeholders that host dive tourists. Funds collected from wreck diving through the park entrance fee system will assist in funding TASA’s operations and other sustainability programs in the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.

And thirdly, the Wit Turneffe wreck enhances the reef’s ecosystem and contributes to increasing marine biodiversity.
“Over the years, marine flora and fauna will use The Wit’s walls, rooms and cabins, filling them with a different history, as the wreck gradually blends into the existing reef system,” Andrade explains.

Over the long term, TASA plans to develop an impactful and exclusive experience where divers can directly participate in scientific monitoring, protection of the area and other exciting, hands-on environmental programs in the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.

Divers who visit annually will see not just a fascinating wreck, but also a growing ecosystem inside and surrounding an old ship with a new, underwater purpose.

#StartYourTrip


Image courtesy of the Belize Tourism Board






New Ships Put the ‘Luxe’ in Luxury Expedition Cruising to the Remote Oceans of the World
It’s one of the biggest trends in cruising. Not getting bigger, but getting out there. In style.

Expedition cruises used to be only for the most intrepid travelers. You would join a working research vessel on its voyage to a very distant destination, tolerating the discomfort for the once-in-a-lifetime experience of getting up close and personal with the unique and fascinating natural wonders and wildlife of a maritime region you’d never otherwise encounter. 

The good news is that you no longer have to sacrifice comfort for the privilege of immersion into a magical and otherwise unreachable marine frontier.

Luxury expedition cruising is coming of age. Smaller vessels, able to reach hidden places even where there are no ports, staffed by scientific experts and guides, equipped with polar-class hulls for ice safety, zodiacs and kayaks and other ways to get off the ship to explore remote shorelines, but also outfitted with superb onboard amenities, design, cuisine and service - give you the very best of both worlds. 

Think of them as safaris at sea. New ships are being purpose-built for these one-of-a-kind, bucket list voyages in the distant destinations of your dreams: the Galapagos, Antarctica, Canada’s Northwest Passage… the seas around both of the Earth’s poles and every unspoiled, natural marine destination in between.

Here are the new ships making luxury expedition cruising evermore available to curious, active, travelers who appreciate getting outdoors into Nature… then stepping back into a deluxe and pampered lifestyle.


Crystal Endeavor

Crystal Cruise’s first-ever expedition ship sailed in July, 2021 on her inaugural voyage from Reykjavik, a 10-day circumnavigation of Iceland’s dramatic coastlines.

Complimentary excursions led by naturalist experts on the Endeavor’s expedition team include sea kayaking on the waters of the Westfjords in Patreksfjörður, an Arctic Circle walkabout on Grimsey Island, and Zodiac cruising amid mountain landscapes in Djúpivogur. Crystal Endeavor’s expedition leaders and guides for its Iceland voyages include a marine biologist, ornithologist, geologist/glaciologist, historian, two professional photographers, polar expedition specialists and an artist-in-residence who will instruct and encourage guests to capture travel memories with snapshot sketches and drawings.

 
Zodiacs and kayaks can be launched directly from the ship’s marina. Other expedition ‘toys’ include snorkel gear, a six-person sub, and two helicopters for flightseeing spectacular scenery. A 4K camera capturing the land and seascapes sailing by can be directed by guests in the Palm Court and Expedition Lounge, and the imagery fed to large screens in public areas and guest suites.

(The Endeavor's Expedition Lounge)

The polar-class ship accommodates just 200 guests in 100, all-verandah, all-butler, expansive suites. There’s a one-to-one ratio of staff to guests, guaranteeing highly personalized service. And high tech innovations ensure responsible stewardship of the world’s oceans.

The Endeavor sails Europe’s North Seas, including Iceland, Norway, the Scottish Isles, before making her way south as summer turns to fall, calling in London, Bordeaux and Lisbon for her inaugural Europe season.
 
 

Silver Origin

While she was delivered in 2020, Silver Origin (pictured, top) made her inaugural sailing in the summer of 2021 as one of the first Silversea ships to return to cruising.

Unlike other ‘generalist’ expedition ships in Silversea’s luxury fleet, Silver Origin is purpose made just for the very specific and special islands of the Galapagos, where she will sail all-new itineraries year round. The ship has high-tech innovations that ensure it has minimum impact on the sensitive environment.


Just 100 guests luxuriate in balcony-only suites with the only all-butler service in the Galapagos. With the highest expert-to-guest ratio, the Silver Origin doesn’t just deliver luxury and expedition expertise on board. It also incorporates local culture, local ingredients including produce and seafood from Ecuadorian food producers, and its design brings guests closer to the Galapagos seascape with floor-to-ceiling windows in the Restaurant, an open air Grill which can also be converted to a sheltered space, and maximized observation areas that bring the outdoors onboard the ship. 
 
Just how popular is expedition cruising in the lap of luxury and style? Coming Soon…

Silver Wind

Silversea is converting one of its classic ships, Silver Wind, to an ice-class expedition ship, the fourth in Silversea’s fleet. In addition to a strengthened hull, the Silver Wind will be fitted with two dozen zodiacs, 14 kayaks, a Photo Studio, a luxury ‘mudroom’, and a new pool system for heated swimming in cold climates, as well as interior space enhancements in lounges, restaurants, and guest suites.


She’s slated to re-launch late 2021 in time to be in Antarctica for the expedition ship event of 2021: the solar eclipse over the White Continent on December 4th, 2021.

Seabourn Venture

Another luxury cruise line, Seabourn, is also set to launch its first expedition ship, the Seabourn Venture, in December of 2021, with a sister ship in 2022.

The Seabourn Venture will sail inaugural – and one-of-a-kind – winter Norway voyages, and in addition to zodiaks, kayaks, and submarines, it will also carry mountain and e-bikes for its approximately 250 guests.

Quark’s Ultramarine

The newest ship for expedition cruise line Quark, also firmly establishes its luxury credentials. Ultramarine was purpose-built for polar expedition cruising, sailing with 200 guests and 140 crew when it debuts in late 2021.
 
Do you think expedition cruising could be for you? Ask us for more information and..

#StartYourTrip

 
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV

Images courtesy their respective cruise lines.

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




The World has a New Ocean to Explore
Get out a sharpie – there’s a new ocean to label on your map of the world. Or globe, if you have one. You might have to update your travel bucket list, too.

If you’ve already ticked off ‘visit all the oceans of the world’, you’ll have to uncheck that box. Even if you’ve seen, swum in, or sailed upon the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic oceans, your work to ‘collect’ all the oceans of the world is not done.

That’s because National Geographic has officially recognized the ‘Southern Ocean.’ It’s the body of water that surrounds Antarctica in a ring, technically from the coastline of the White Continent to 60 degrees south latitude.
Just how big is that? The Southern Ocean is more than twice the size of the U.S.A.

This marks the first ‘new’ ocean recognized by NatGeo in over a hundred years. But it’s not exactly a new idea.
“The Southern Ocean has long been recognized by scientists, but because there was never agreement internationally, we never officially recognized it,” one National Geographic Society Geographer told the magazine.
 
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA – recognized the Southern Ocean earlier this year, joining the International Hydrographic Organization and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Both of those organizations have long acknowledged the body of water surrounding Antarctica, but it never caught on.

Maybe that will change, now that National Geographic – as a non-profit media and education/research organization - says it will include the Southern Ocean on all the maps it publishes for its readers and viewers of all ages, from young children to adults.

So why do the planet’s southern-most polar waters merit their own designation now? The scientists at NatGeo hope it will increase awareness of the importance of – and need to preserve – this essential body of water.

It’s connected to the southern-most ends of all four other oceans, and its current circulates the most water of any on the planet. Since it channels vast volumes of warmer and cooler waters around the earth, it has a big effect on climate the world over. So what happens in the Southern Ocean is important for the world. In recent months, two vast icebergs, including the world’s largest, broke off Antarctica into the Southern Ocean.


The Southern Ocean “encompasses unique and fragile marine ecosystems that are home to wonderful marine life such as whales, penguins, and seals,” a National Geographic Explorer in Residence told the magazine. For all its reputation as a frozen wasteland, NatGeo says that there are thousands of species living in the Southern Ocean that live nowhere else on earth.
 
‘Christening’ the new seas around Antarctica comes at a time when polar expedition cruises are one of the planet’s hottest travel tickets. ‘Polar class’ expedition cruise ships have reinforced hulls that make them strong enough for the lesser ice of the water in the summer months.

The newest expedition ships are purpose-designed with the latest technology and innovations in fuel, power, systems that allow them to maintain their position on the water without having to drop an anchor that could damage the ocean floor, and waste management that allow fortunate travellers to check a fifth ocean off their essential travel bucket list.
  
Your trusted travel advisor can help you plan the perfect expedition cruise to the Southern Ocean, some even in the lap of pampered luxury between forays onto island and ice floes to see penguins and other Antarctic wildlife up close.
 

#StartYourTrip!


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV



Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.








5 Ways to Explore this Country’s Desert From the Traditional to the Extreme
If you missed your dose of exotic scenery and culture – or even winter sports adrenaline this year, one country’s desert can feed your travel imagination.

The Qatar peninsula juts a hundred miles out from the Arabian Peninsula into the Persian Gulf. Most travellers to the region focus on the thrilling, ultra-modern capital city of Doha. But most of the small country is covered by sand, from barren plains to the Khor al Adaid “Inland Sea” of rolling sand dunes where the desert meets the sea.

That’s where outdoor enthusiasts can discover their inner explorer or a whole new take on winter sports.
 
Instead of dressing warmly for snow-covered slopes, adventurous winter sports fans can pack their sunscreen instead. Glampers and stargazers and adventurers can uncover new horizons.
 
Top desert adventures in Qatar include:
 
1. Sandboarding
Leave your winter sports comfort zone far behind sandboarding in the desert near Qatar's Inland Sea, Khor Al Adaid. You’ll never see your board the same way again after a thrilling slide down the sands in the warm Arabian breeze.
 
2. Dune Bashing
Dare-devils looking for a new and high-octane experience can conquer the desert dunes by machine, on a quad bike.
 
3. Desert Safari
Over 11-thousand square km of desert lie less than an hour away from Doha, putting a desert safari within easy reach of any visitor to the country. You can glide across the Qatari desert in air-conditioned 4x4s with a driver expert in navigating over the sand, and. for a truly unique dining experience, foodies can end their desert safari with dinner by candlelight under the stars.
 
 
 
(Photo credit: Vinay Swaroop Balla & Qatar National Tourism Council)

4. Camel Riding
Of course, the traditional and iconic way to transit the rolling dunes of the Arabian desert is by camelback, and it’s an experience you can still have today. Herds of camels remain in the Inland Sea area.

Culture enthusiasts can get a taste of the nomadic life of the Bedouin tribes on a camel tour of Mesaieed, or you can up the ante with a more luxurious experience glamping under the stars following a desert camel ride.

5. Arabian Nights
Sand below, and stars above. A range of astro-tourism experiences have been inspired by the starry skies of the Qatari desert.

Imagine a moon-lit camel safari and stargazing with an astronomer, with dinner by the campfire and glamping in a combination of a modern luxury meets authentic Arabian style, overlooking the Inland Sea. Or a tour of the Souq Waqif and a dinner at the spectacular Torch 360 restaurant, which offers panoramic views of the bright lights of the nighttime Doha skyline.

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Top Image: Qatar National Tourism Council www.visitqatar.qa



International Dark Sky Week, held during the week of the new moon each April, calls for people worldwide to turn out their lights and take in the beauty of the night sky without light pollution dimming its brilliance. 

It’s also an annual reminder that some of the very best travel experiences aren’t under the bright lights of a city. Some of the most awe-inspiring and life-changing travel moments involve absorbing Mother Nature’s greatest spectacles above us.

Astrotourism is a growing trend that helps travelers capture more of those transformational moments in the darkness.
Astro travel lets us tap into primal parts of ourselves, like our earliest ancestors who created myths and learned wisdom from celestial phenomena. And it reminds us how humans - like all creatures and the Earth itself – respond to the rhythms of movements of the sun, the moon, and the stars.

North Star and Big Dipper over Grosvenor Arch, Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, Utah, by Royce Bair, courtesy International Dark Sky Association

It celebrates the wonder in us all when we gaze at the mysteries of the stars in the night skies, or the Northern Lights. Or when we join others to take part in an astronomy event like a solar eclipse, meteor shower or passing comet and feel tiny in our universe and in awe of the infinite darkness that surrounds us.

Savvy astro-travelers have been planning for a while to be in Antarctica for December, 2021’s solar eclipse. If that’s a bit remote for you, wait around for the ‘Great North American Solar Eclipse’ on April 8, 2024: a dramatic astronomy event across the whole continent, that, at its max, will allow observers to see the Moon totally – totally! – blocking the Sun for over 4 minutes!  

Here are some ways you can become part of the dark sky and astrotourism trend, both on land, and at sea.

LAND


Dark Sky Parks
From New Zealand to New Mexico, there’s a growing list of over a hundred Dark Sky parks and reserves around the world. They preserve and protect the ability to see the heavens in their clearest forms as our human ancestors did, and the darkness the planet’s wildlife still relies on today.


New Zealand’s Aoraki / Mount Cook Mackenzie Region (above), at 4300 square km, is the largest Dark Sky Reserve in the world, and home to the darkest skies in the world. Much of New Zealand has no light pollution and is home to some of the most accessible observatories on planet Earth. The sheer brightness of the stars, contrasted by the ring of mountains surrounding the Mackenzie Basin, is utterly breath-taking.
 
In North America, Dark Sky parks and preserves are most often found under the vast – and remote- Western Skies, in National Parks where preserving the night skies aligns with the protection of the landscape and wildlife.

Dark Sky Festival in Jasper in the Canadian Rockies
 
Jasper National Park is the largest of Canada’s mountain parks, famous for magnificent glaciers, lakes and mountains. Jasper has also been designated as a Dark Sky Preserve for its special commitment to protect and preserve the night sky and to reduce or eliminate light pollution in all its forms.

(Jasper National Park/ Jasper Tourism)
 
It’s one of 17 designated Dark Sky Preserves in Canada, the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world, and the largest accessible Dark Sky Preserve - meaning there’s a town within the limits of the preserve.

As daylight hours begin to shrink, the month of October is the perfect time for Jasper’s Dark Sky Festival. Dozens of events including dark sky photography workshops, interactive experiences at Jasper’s Planetarium, black hole sculptures, and ‘Animals of the Night’ hikes, indoor and outdoor events, speakers and hands-on celestial activities celebrate the night skies that cradle the earth.

Room With a View – of the Stars
A number of resorts near and far help their guests feel closer to the night skies.

At remote Amangiri Resort in Canyon Point, Utah, there’s an in-house astronomer providing complimentary stargazing sessions to guests, an ‘astrophotography’ machine that wirelessly connects users to download astropics to their devices, even a ‘sky terrace’ suite where you can fall asleep under the stars.
 
The Hyatt Regency in Maui, Hawaii has a resident director of astronomy and a Tour of The Stars program that allows guests, just a smidge north of the equator, to see almost all of the 88 constellations.
 
Nearby, The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua’s stargazing program highlights celestial navigation and the story of Polynesian overseas migration to the Hawaiian islands, and provides guests telescopes to check out the starry skies on their own, too.
 
Farther afield, the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo offers a ‘Taste the Stars’ program. (Watch a video of the program, top.)

It includes a 7-course tasting menu developed by the resort's chefs in collaboration with Costa Rican-born astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz. A secret ingredient is South American wine aged in a 4.5 billion year old meteorite! Plus a guided stargazing session using a powerful GPS-guided telescope and a take-home sourvenir of the moon shot through the telescope while you’re there. Costa Rica is one of the few places above the Equator where Magellanic Clouds, two galaxies first identified by explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the 1520s, are visible.
 

SEA

It makes sense that some of the darkest skies in the world are found offshore. Way offshore, at sea. Which makes ships some of the best places for celestial experiences - and cruise lines are getting onboard.

2021’s Antarctic Solar Eclipse luckily takes place during the southern hemisphere’s summer, so it’s drawing a host of the world’s expedition cruise ships with guests on a once-in-a-lifetime cruise of the Antarctic – with a solar eclipse completely un-muted by light pollution from land.
 
Silversea has three of its ultra-luxury polar expedition ships sailing in Antarctic waters for the Solar Eclipse. Be on deck with fewer than 250 guests as the brilliance of Antarctica is plunged into darkness, and gaze amazed as the changing light and sharpening shadows highlight Antarctica’s beauty.

(Courtesy Silversea)

Atlas Ocean Voyages is a new luxury, small ship expedition cruise line that will amazingly include Antarctic’s Solar Eclipse in its inaugural season! On the day of the eclipse, you’ll be sailing through icy waters, and be able to see the total solar eclipse against a backdrop of mammoth icebergs.

Ponant is a French luxury, small-ship expedition cruise line. Its newest ship is also the first, luxury hybrid electric polar-class vessel. Just over 250 guests will make the ‘badge of honor’ sailing through the Drake Passage on the day of the eclipse. You’ll be able to disembark the ship onto the ice pack where, according to Ponant, “the pristine white creates a high-pressure zone that will allow for clearer skies”, a rare privilege enhanced by naturalist guides and on-board scientists.

Imagine seeing an eclipse from the Scenic Eclipse! Two former NASA scientists and a world-renowned astrologer will be joining the Scenic Eclipse’s 200 guests when the luxury expedition yacht – that comes complete with two touring helicopters and a six-person submarine, the first permitted to operate in these waters - is strategically positioned for an optimal view at Antarctica’s South Sandwich Island archipelago on the day of the eclipse.

You don’t need a special celestial event for this next Astro tourism cruise!

(Courtesy Celebrity Cruises)

Celebrity Flora is the cruise line’s first purpose-built small ship, just for Galapagos expeditions. The legendary islands far off the coast of Ecuador are well known for their unique wildlife, but guests also have the benefit of a brilliant night sky and countless stars above.

Celebrity has crafted a whole new Galapagos cruising experience available on all its Galapagos sailings: 'Glamping' (glamorous camping) Under the Stars that you'll never forget. Four guests each night will be able to sleep on the ship’s top deck in a specially designed cabana. You’ll also enjoy dining alfresco with curated cocktails, wines, even campfire favorites like s'mores under the stars. A naturalist is available to point out stars and constellations as seen only from this part of the world. The magical overnight experience concludes with sunrise and a full bed-side breakfast. 
Remote lands and seas are on many travelers’ bucket-lists – and adding the natural wonders of the skies to your adventure of a lifetime makes it just that much more unforgettable. 
 

#DreamNowStarGazeSoon


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.












One Trail Walk Takes You Across the 2 Highest New Suspension Bridges
The Golden Skybridge features not one, but two expansive suspension bridges connected by forested trails – right at the edge of two legendary mountain ranges.

Visitors embark on a 3k (nearly 2 mile) nature walk weaving throughout parkland and across two new, spectacular suspension bridges – the two highest pedestrian suspension bridges in Canada, and believed to be in all of North America.

You might call this new experience ‘Golden’. The mountain town of Golden in southeast British Columbia sits amidst six Canadian national mountain parks. Known to outdoor adventurers as the ideal basecamp to explore some of the country’s greatest outdoor landscapes in the Columbia and Rocky mountains, Golden is on the Trans-Canada highway. 

And now, with the Golden Skybridge experience opening in time for summer travel in May, 2021, visitors traveling between Calgary or Banff in Alberta, and BC’s Okanagan wine country or Vancouver on the west coast, have a new reason to stop for a while in Golden.

One of the bridges sits a dramatic 130 meters (427 feet) from the ground, and the other is 80 meters (262 feet) above the ravine underneath. Measured from the ground below (rather than height above sea level as some other suspension bridges do), that puts these Golden Skybridge pedestrian suspension bridges in 1st and 2nd places for the whole continent.

That’s a whole lot of air under your feet – not once, but twice in a day.

To put it in perspective, world-famous Niagara Falls is 176 feet high. So you’ll be walking well above the height of Niagara Falls across the lowest suspension bridge – and more than double Niagara Fall’s height when you cross the highest suspension bridge!

The bridges are no slouches for length, either, with the tallest spanning a 154 metre (over 500 foot) chasm, and the shorter bridge slightly shorter, but still coming in at 139 metres (or 455 feet) long –surpassing in length as well as height other famous BC suspension bridges: Capilano in North Vancouver, and the Cloudraker Skybridge at Whistler.

Just imagine the dramatic, 360 degree views of expansive alpine vistas the Golden Skybridge experience offers up. The scenery even showcases a roaring waterfall that itself is a higher drop than Niagara: 61 metres (200 feet) down to a mountain river in the deep canyon below. Viewing platforms on the trail provide guests with many other opportunities to take in the picturesque landscapes surrounding you. 


The scenic trail across the country’s – and likely the continent’s - two highest suspension bridges isn’t the only adventure at the new destination. For the more daring, the Golden Skybridge will also feature a tandem bungee swing and a 1200 metre (nearly 4000 foot) zipline spanning the canyon, both opening later this summer. The attraction’s owners say a canyon swing and axe-throwing venue (a nod to the lumberjack heritage of the mountains, no doubt!) are also planned.

It seems like an ideal scenario for outdoor travel lovers as well as multi-generational family travel. All members of the family can enjoy the scenic trail with its vistas and suspension bridges, then less active family members can relax at the outdoor courtyard and café at the attraction’s base for some well-deserved pre-and post-trail walk rest, relaxation, and refreshment - as others tap into their inner adrenaline-junkies ziplining and bungee jumping. And who doesn’t want to burn off some pent-up frustration with a little axe-throwing?
 
What a way to bond together while breathing in pristine mountain air and absorbing brand-new mountain vistas. Even frequent explorers of Canada’s western mountain parks and the region will gain new perspective and a new appreciation of the incredible, alpine beauty in Golden, BC.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Photos: Golden Skybridge by Pursuit


Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






3 Luxurious Ways to Experience the Travel Event of 2021 - the Antarctic Solar Eclipse
A year from now, one of the travel events of our lifetime will be over.
 
Not only will 2021 see the return to travel we’ve all longed for; on December 4th, 2021, a total solar eclipse will take place.

A total solar eclipse, where the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, completely blocking out the sun for a short period of time, is as mystical and as primal an experience for us modern humans as it has been for all of our ancestors before us through time immemorial.

Antarctic waters are the only place in the world with 100% visibility of this awe-inspiring astronomical event. The remote site also means no ‘light pollution’ from surrounding human population centers will interfere with the full impact of the eclipse.

And luckily for travelers, December is Antarctic summer, when waters are most navigable.

Luxury expedition cruise lines with ice class ships for navigating polar seas have planned sailings to view the Solar Eclipse as no one else in the world will be able to see it, in exclusive, deluxe lifestyle.
 
One life-changing event. 3 ways you can be in the right place at the right time.
(Image: Silversea)

Silversea

 
This ultra-luxury cruise line has three of its polar expedition ships sailing in Antarctic waters for the Solar Eclipse.
 
The Silver Wind sails on November 20th for 22 days from Buenos Aires, Argentina, returning to Ushuaia, Argentina. The Silver Explorer sails 13 days round trip from Ushaia on November 26th, and the Silver Cloud sails round trip from Ushaia for 11 days on November 30th.

Be on deck with fewer than 250 guests as the brilliance of Antarctica is plunged into darkness, and gaze amazed as the changing light and sharpening shadows highlight Antarctica’s beauty.

The line’s onboard Expedition Staff is highly educated in everything from penguin spotting to taking the perfect glacier photo.

Silversea’s one-of-a-kind combination of exploration and ultra-luxury mean air and pre-cruise hotel, gratuities, multiple restaurants, in-suite and ship-wide wine and spirits, butler service and in-suite dining, shore excursions with guided zodiacs and parkas are included.

(Image: Silversea)

It means you’ll be enjoying small group adventures by day, the magnificent Solar Eclipse, and sharing experiences with like-minded new friends in the lap of luxury by night.
 

Atlas Ocean Voyages

 
This new cruise line’s first, luxury, small expedition ship launches in 2021. The Antarctic Solar Eclipse will be part of the World Navigator’s inaugural season. With its ‘new ship’ smell still fresh, and the very latest in environmentally friendly technology that uses less fuel and disturbs the sea floor and wildlife less than other ships, it allows guests to get closer to Nature and protect it, too.

(Rendering: Atlas Ocean Voyages)

During your 12-night voyage round-trip from Ushuaia, departing on November 28th, 2021, you and fewer than 200 guests will be treated to roundtrip airfare, gourmet dining and top beverages, butler service for all suites, enriching classes, and complimentary adventures in select destinations.

Get up close and personal with the masses of seabirds, seals, and whales of the region’s waters and shores. Long, summer days close to the South Pole give you ample time to kayak or paddleboard some of the clearest waters in the world as they reflect the ice-blue sky and glaciers back at you.

On December 4th, you’ll be sailing through icy waters, and be able to see the total solar eclipse against a backdrop of mammoth icebergs.

Ponant

 
This French cruise line’s newest ship is also the first, luxury hybrid electric polar-class vessel. Ponant is known for its refined, French design, onboard ‘art of living’ and commitment to cuisine alongside robust environmental and authentic expedition credentials.
(Image: Ponant)

Your regional flights to and from Argentina’s ‘end of the earth’ jumping off point, Ushuaia are included with your voyage as Le Commandant-Charcot departs on November 30th, 2021 on its 15-day, once-in-a-lifetime expedition sailing to the Antarctic during the total solar eclipse. 
 
Just over 250 guests will make the ‘badge of honor’ sailing from Ushuaia through the Drake Passage en route to the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea ice pack on December 4th. You’ll be able to disembark the ship onto the ice pack where, according to Ponant, “the pristine white creates a high-pressure zone that will allow for clearer skies”, a rare privilege enhanced by naturalist guides and on-board scientists.
 
In addition to viewing the eclipse, guests can participate in expeditions for scientific activities like water sampling and visiting research stations, explore by hovercraft, hot air balloon, and snowmobile and polar diving, and enjoy expert seminars that make their experiences even more meaningful.
(Image: Ponant)

If experiencing the Antarctic was on your bucket list, the Solar Eclipse in December of 2021 will make the trip of a lifetime truly legendary.
 
Imagine seeing the total Solar Eclipse over the pure, clear skies of the most remote continent, experiencing rare wildlife and epic scenery, and raising a glass to your life-changing journey embraced in luxury and comfort.
 

#DontMissThis

 

Top, Solar Eclipse Image by Jan Haerer from Pixabay
 
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This Company is Sending a Local Hero - and their Nominating Travel Advisor - On a Life-Changing Trip to Africa
Until June 30th, travel advisors can nominate a person from their community they feel deserves recognition.

Courtesy of African Travel Inc., a sister travel company to luxury Insight Vacations, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Red Carnation Hotels among other outstanding travel providers, the chosen hero and their guest will receive the ultimate 8-night escape to South Africa and Botswana, experiencing Red Carnation’s Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa and the new Xigera Safari Lodge as well as the Chobe Game Lodge.
 
The advisor who nominates the winning hero will receive their own complimentary spot on an African Travel educational journey to South Africa, Kenya or Tanzania.

For over 40 years, African Travel has created luxury, handcrafted safaris ensuring immersive and authentic cultural encounters across the continent with exceptional service by local experts every step of the way.

(Chobe Game Lodge is an elegant, five-star, fully Ecotourism-certified safari lodge and the only property located inside the world-renowned Chobe National Park)

From now until June 30th, 2020, travel advisors can nominate a person who they feel deserves recognition for going above and beyond in their community. African Travel wants advisors to share their stories, whether it’s about an essential worker on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic or a co-worker helping their community heal.
 
Advisors nominate local heroes by briefly explaining how their hero has positively impacted the people, planet and wildlife in their local community, which reflects African Travel’s philosophy to TreadRight.
 
The TreadRight Foundation was established by The Travel Corporation’s family of brands, that includes African Travel, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Trafalgar Tours, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold, among others. The foundation sets the standard on sustainability for those travel companies, and executes its mission to #MakeTravelMatter.
 
TreadRight supports community-based projects worldwide that safeguard the planet, people and wildlife. To date, the foundation has supported 55+ sustainable tourism projects in 280+ communities worldwide, that have included WWF, Conservation International, WildAid and The National Trust in the UK, while current initiatives include WE.org, Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot School, Wilderness Foundation Africa and Wildlife SOS. 
 
This contest is in gratitude for people’s efforts to make their communities better places, a theme especially powerful during COVID, which has reinforced how ‘we are all in this together as a travel family’.
 
Advisors can nominate a hero by completing the online form here.
 
African Travel will shortlist the top 10 heroes and host a poll July 13-23rd, 2020 for the travel community to choose the deserving hero.
 

Nominations close June 30th.


Don’t miss this opportunity to reward a deserving local hero!

 
 
 
 
 





First In-Person New Cruise Ship Delivery Since Pandemic Lockdown: The Silver Origin

Silversea has welcomed its first-ever destination-specific ship, the Silver Origin, designed for ultra-luxury expedition sailings in the Galapagos.

It’s a good-news, milestone event for the cruise line - and for cruising.

The global pandemic shutdown has resulted in a number of scheduled new ships to be delayed or postponed, so the official flag ceremony marking the completion of the Silver Origin will also echo through cruising, and is hopefully symbolic of its return.

The Silver Origin is a unique addition to the Silversea fleet; it was designed entirely with cruising to one destination in mind: the Galapagos.
Silversea, a trend-setter in luxury expedition cruises, was the first line to launch an ultra-luxury ship in the Galapagos. This year’s launch of the Silver Origin takes it to the next level, with the ship concept to design to operations all focused on year-round service in this very unique and sensitive group of islands.
The 100-guest Silver Origin integrates state-of-the-art technology and advanced execution of four pillars: sustainability, destination experiences on-board and on expedition, authentic local culture, and Silversea’s signature levels of comfort and service.

Silversea Lifestyle Customized for The Galapagos

Even in one of the most remote groups of islands in the world, returning Silversea guests will recognize the signature features of Silversea cruising on the Silver Origin – with destination-specific touches, including:
The Explorer Lounge:
An elegant space at the aft of the ship to relax, that on the Silver Origin also doubles as a state-of-the-art lecture room for Galapagos enrichment. Outside, a beautiful terrace with with a fire pit allows guests to maximize every moment in this extraordinary destination.

The Restaurant & The Grill:
Silversea’s new S.A.L.T. culinary program as it’s offered on the Silver Origin focuses on local ingredients and Ecuadorian cuisine, just as Silversea’s beloved ‘Hot Rocks’ concept is tailored with an Ecuadorian twist along with advanced sheltering system protecting diners from less-than-tropical conditions.
Guest Suites:
All suites. All private balconies. Among the most spacious accommodations in the Galapagos. And the only ship in the archipelago to offer butler service to all guests. All the Silver Origin suites also focus on providing guests with the best views of this life-changing destination, including some with ocean-view bathtubs accessible from balconies.

New Innovations on the Silver Origin


The Marina: Guests accustomed to embarking on zodiac expeditions or an afternoon of watersports via the marina will see this aft space in another, new light: On the Silver Origin, the marina is a groundbreaking arrival/disembarkation experience. With more zodiacs per guest than any other ship in the Galapagos, the Silver Origin’s marina features comfortable sofas, showers to rinse your gear, storage for wetsuits and equipment and special boarding facilities for two zodiacs at once.


Basecamp: On the Silver Origin, the marina is connected to ‘Basecamp’, one of the ship’s most innovative spaces, connecting the destination with the ship itself. It’s where Silversea’s team of local resident experts guide educational activities about the landscapes, wildlife and history of the Galapagos. They’re aided by an immense interactive digital wall, bespoke software, and multi-media content, some provided by the Royal Geographical Society of London.

Sustainability

Environmental Impact: The Silver Origin doesn’t just meet current requirements for ships in the Galapagos, it goes even farther to protect the archipelago, with additional fuel efficiencies, exhaust emission reductions, dynamic positioning to prevent damage from dropping anchor, waste management, recycling, and even conversions of seawater to drinking water to reduce the use of plastic on board.
Fund for the Galapagos: In addition, Silversea Cruises has launched the Silversea Fund for the Galapagos to support educational projects and promoting conservation in the Galapagos Islands to preserve them for future generations. Guests can also get involved in the fund, and the cruise line will match donations in the form of future cruise credits to reward their commitment to conservation in the Galapagos.

You don’t need to wait long to experience the Galapagos on the Silver Origin. Silversea’s newest ship
is scheduled to begin service in August, 2020.
 

Start Your Trip!

 
Images and renderings courtesy Silversea
 
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The Whale Shark Whisperer of Cabo
It’s a paradise where Mexico’s Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific. Los Cabos has become synonymous with a chic coastal retreat for Hollywood celebrities and global jetsetters.

The southern tip of the Baja Peninsula teems with luxury beachside resorts and spas, where stylish people relax, go golfing, horseback riding, and dancing til dawn.

But Cabo is first and foremost about the sea. Its signature landmark is the Arch rock formation rising from the ocean at the ‘End of the World’, and water-based activities like kayaking and paddle boarding, snorkeling and diving dominate the holiday lifestyle.


Cabo is the launching pad for visits to the area of Cabo Pulmo, Mexico’s protected National Marine Park known as “The Aquarium of the World”, and its most famous resident, enormous whale sharks.

They’re called ‘sharks’, but these ‘Gentle Giants’ are slow-moving filter feeders completely harmless to humans. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the seas, growing to more than 30 feet and 20,000 pounds, making them far and away the largest non-mammal creature alive.

Any glimpse of a whale shark in the wild is magnificent. But in Cabo, visitors can join tours that allow you to swim among these breathtaking creatures. Cabo’s whale shark viewing season runs October through April, and it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
 
We asked Los Cabos diver and expert whale shark tour guide Oliver Hernandez what it’s like to swim with these gentle giants.
 
How long have you been swimming with the whale sharks?
“My first season swimming with the sharks was in 2013. I had been working with Cabo Adventures as a guide for a number of other tours since I moved to Los Cabos in 2008. I’ve loved the water since childhood, so that type of tour was a natural fit for me. When I learned that there were whale shark tours operating out here, I knew I had to apply to become a tour guide.”
  
You have a job that a lot of people likely envy. What amazes you most about what you do?
“I feel extremely lucky to be able to swim with these incredible animals. It’s truly a mind-blowing experience. The very first sighting of a whale shark in our waters was only in 2006, and many people had no idea that a swimming excursion with them was even an option. In my first season, we only had tours every third day with maybe eight guests.  Of course, it exploded in popularity rapidly and we quickly had to develop a system to avoid disturbing the sharks. Today, you may be on a waitlist for a tour because we cap it at 14 boats in the water at a time to ensure the sharks remain comfortable. I’m proud of how we moved quickly to accommodate the sudden increase in demand while still remaining respectful of the needs of the wildlife.”
 
How has the marine tour industry and its protocols evolved?
I’ve personally witnessed many changes in my time here, and all of them have been for the better. There have been different rules and restrictions in place over the years and all of them have been guided by the desire to provide the best experience possible for the guests and the animals. I feel confident and proud in saying that Los Cabos takes the utmost caution to tour the waters respectfully and cultivate a love for the sharks. I feel that, since our inception, we have demonstrated respect and care for this species and that is an amazing thing.”
 
You work with whale sharks almost every single day. What’s the most important or interesting thing you’ve learned about them?
“The most important thing for me, when dealing with any species in the ocean, is care and perseverance. It is important to respect the ocean’s wildlife, and I think that doing so has helped to maintain that sense of wonder I get every time I dive in. Unlike in say a zoo, these animals are not here for us to look at: we are entering their home and humbly requesting an audience with them. We should always feel grateful for the opportunity to interact with these creatures in their habitat.”

 
What’s the secret for consistently finding these breathtaking animals and introducing them to the guests?
“It’s all about teamwork. The captain, Jorge, seems to instinctively know exactly where to position the boat. As guides, we are in the water simultaneously watching the position of every guest and every shark. On days where it’s proving difficult to spot them, we manage to approximate their location by reading the flow of the waves and the ‘trail’ they leave in the water as they swim. As the captain spots from the boat, he relays what he sees to the guides and gets us moving in the right direction. “
 
Although whale sharks are docile filter feeders, there are definitely people out there who will have reservations about swimming with any kind of shark. What would you tell a guest who might be feeling a bit hesitant to get in the water with them?
The good news is that unless you are plankton, you aren’t on the menu. Whale sharks are gentle and will show respect as long as their space is respected. We encourage guests not to impede their movements and to stay out of their way so they feel relaxed. When in the water with any species, the key is always to blend in. Once you jump into the water or start splashing around wildly, the whale sharks can feel the vibrations and motions of the water and they are bound to take off rather than approach. The key to having a good experience with the animals is just to be calm and don’t interfere with wildlife. Whether it’s whale sharks, dolphins, or hammerheads, they will respond by remaining calm as well.”
 
What are some of your most memorable moments while leading a tour?
We had a guest once who was swimming and was grazed by a whale shark. Whale shark skin feels like sandpaper, so she had a big shock. At times, when there are many whale sharks in the water, you have to become a matador. One time I was following along with the group and I felt a presence next to me, so I turned around and found myself staring into the huge open mouth of a whale shark coming towards me. I had to roll myself like a tortilla and I was just floating along the surface while the whale shark passed, the fin gliding right between my legs. It can happen more than once because the whale sharks are everywhere. That’s what makes the experience so fun.


Top, middle photos: Getty
Bottom photo: Visit Los Cabos

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4 Places in Chile for Your Next Adventure Vacation
Chile is easy to spot on a map of South America. It’s the very long, very narrow ribbon of country stretching over 4300 km (2700 miles) along from the middle to the very tip of the Pacific coast of South America. In spite of its length, it’s only 350 km (220 miles) wide at the widest point! 

With the storied Atacama desert in the north and the dramatic landscapes of Patagonia in the south, bordered by the epic Andes mountain range in the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west stretching all the way to its fabled Easter Island, Chile’s incredible geography has created climates and landscapes ranging from lava fields and sand dunes, volcanoes and lakes, to forest and fjords, snow-capped mountains and endless maritime wonders.


They are wildly different backdrops for your next perfect adventure. Chile’s supersized natural settings have helped make it four times in a row the ‘World’s Best Adventure Tourism Destination’. 
 
Whether you are looking for a way to be immersed in Chile’s spectacular outdoors or you’re in search of adrenaline-pumping action, the country’s expansive and unique terrain offers travelers a full range of active experiences, including hiking, trekking, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, mountaineering, climbing, surfing, sport fishing, kayaking, rafting, diving, canopy, sandboarding, kitesurfing and paragliding.
 
What’s more, many of Chile’s outdoor adventure experiences involve sustainable practices, protecting the environment you’re there to explore.
 
Here are four regions in Chile where you can get your heart pumping and create travel memories of a lifetime.
 

Atacama Desert 


In Chile’s north, it’s the driest desert in the world. It’s also one of the most unique eco-systems, occupying a vast, 105,000 square km (40,000 square mile) plateau between the Andes mountains and the sea.

 
The Atacama Desert’s sand dunes don’t just take your breath away with their scale and beauty, they provide the one-of-a-kind terrain for the unique adventure of sandboarding.
 

Punta de Lobos 


Chile may be narrow, but it has a whopping 4000 km (nearly 2500 miles) of coastline, which cruise travelers embarking and disembarking from Valparaiso get to enjoy, but we hope you explore Chile’s beaches more than from the rail of a ship. 
 
Chile has a well-earned reputation as world-class spot for surfing. Its Punta de Lobos beach south of cruise port Valparaiso and the inland capital of Santiago, has been named ‘Best Surf Capital of the World’.
 

You don’t have to be a world-class surfer to get in on the beach party scene and celebration of surf. And since it’s said to be one of the most consistent places to catch a wave in the southern hemisphere, it’s buzzing pretty much any day you visit.

 

Chilean Patagonia 


It’s a mystical destination near the bottom of the world, at the bottom of the Andes mountain range, straddling the border of Chile and Argentina. The last stop before the waters that lead to the Antarctic, Patagonia is South America’s great white south. 
 
This is the Chilean destination for lovers of vast, snow-topped mountain landscapes and cool climate or winter adventures like skiing, hiking and glacier trekking.
 

Easter Island 


Chile’s – and arguably, one of the world’s - most famous islands, Easter Island’s gigantic stone heads, called mo’ai, are instantly identifiable. Their lore draws culture-seekers from around the world and puts Easter Island at the top of adventure-lovers’ travel bucket lists.
 
Marine adventurers can get a different perspective on the mysteries of the mo’ai. The waters surrounding remote Easter Island are so clear, scuba divers are treated to visibility of the maritime environment up to 60 m (nearly 200 feet) away, including underwater caves and submerged mo’ai gazing inscrutably into the distance of the sea.
 
Your travel advisor can connect you to adventures where you can explore Chile’s one-of-a-kind natural wonders, be embraced by the renowned warmth of its people, wander the streets of UNESCO heritage historic sites – oh, and don’t forget to taste the wine and especially the country’s signature beverage, pisco!

 

Start your Trip!


All photos courtesy of Imagen de Chile.

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Maybe you've had the fun of a zip line adventure before.  But have you ever taken a zip line over the ocean? 

When Norwegian developed Harvest Caye, its private island beach resort port of call for cruises in the Norwegian family: Norwegian Cruise Lines, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania, it took the concept of a zip line adventure to another level (pardon the pun.)

Standing tall on the island is the 'Flighthouse'.  A tower that looks, no surprise, like a lighthouse.  It's the focal point of the island's air-borne adventures.  Guests depart from the Flighthouse onto ropes courses over the beach and lagoon, and this is where you can take flight on a zip line that sets you sailing over the crescent-shaped beach, then right over the water to a safe landing back on shore.  It was a highlight of our BestTrip.TV visit to the island, and we're sure it will be yours, too.

Start your Trip!

 

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If You Haven't Visited Uluru Yet...

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the most recognizable natural landmark symbol of Australia, has banned visitors from climbing.

Uluru/Ayers Rock rises nearly 350 meters (1142 feet) high above the hot, dry, desert in the center of Australia. This monolith is almost 10 km (6 miles) around.  And it isn't just a miracle of survival of the erosion of the rest of the landscape around it. At different times of the year and in the light of dawn and sunset, its sandstone also appears to magically glow red. (Top photo credit)

Cultural and Spiritual Significance

Photo Credit

No wonder it is a place of cultural and spiritual significance for the local Aṉangu people, the traditional local inhabitants. The area also has springs, waterholes, and rock caves with ancestral petroglyphs and paintings.  Members of the aboriginal community lead walking tours to introduce visitors to the local plants and wildlife unique to the area, aboriginal cultural traditions, and their Dreamtime spiritual stories.

But they don't lead treks up the steep slopes to the top.

10,000 Years of Human History

Archaeologists have determined humans inhabited the area more than 10,000 years ago. Europeans arrived in the late 19th century, and tourism to the site began in the first half of the 20th century.  Since the site was given UNESCO World Heritage designation, even more people  - half a million visitors a year - have made the journey to this spectacular site at the heart of Australia.

As interest and visits rose, the challenge to balance conservation, respect for Uluru's spiritual significance, and visitor experience grew.

To Climb or Not to Climb?

The local aboriginal people do not climb the sacred Uluru rock themselves to avoid violating sacred Dreamtime ground.  And they have long requested visitors follow their lead.

Photo Credit

Nonetheless, about a third of visitors to Uluru/ Ayers Rock make the hour-long, steep, 800 m (half-mile) climb to the sometimes dangerously windy summit.  In recent years, unfortunate videos have even popped up of truly disrespectful behavior by tourists at the top.

Those incidents have added to pressure to ban climbing Uluru.  First, Ayers Rock was re-named using its aboriginal designation.  Then, in 1985, ownership of Uluru was returned to the local aboriginal people, who now share decision-making on the management of the National Park where Uluru resides.

New Rules at Uluru

In November 2017, the park board voted unanimously to prohibit climbing Uluru. The new rules take effect in October 2019, coinciding with the 34th anniversary of the return of the site to its aboriginal owners.

If you visit Australia, there are still many ways to experience the awe-inspiring site of Uluru other than climbing.  Since 2009, there have been special viewing areas whose design and construction were supervised by the aboriginal community.  They provide visitors road access, walking trails and views from angles at both sunrise and sunset.

Start your Trip!

 

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Sometimes we think that the best travel experiences can only be found in distant, exotic destinations. And they're waiting for you right in your back yard.

Kieran Andrews of Wild Rock Outfitters leads cycling tours in some of the most famous and storied locations in the world. But when BestTrip.TV's Ryan McElroy asked him about one of his favorite places to cycle, it was at home in Canada in Peterborough & the Kawarthas.

In this BestTrip.TV video, Kieran takes Ryan in a two-day cycling journey across rolling hills and scenic vistas to waterfront in cottage country. Ryan gets an insider's introduction to local cycling community favorite trails, views and 'energy stops' (that is, fabulous restaurants!) as well as its network of passionate, connected cyclists.

Start your Trip!

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Why Inject Adventure Travel Into your Next Vacation
We get it. You really need a break. Downtime. Relaxation. Time to book a vacation so you can… Try a new adventure. Does 'adventure travel' sound way too energetic, even the opposite of what you need in a holiday? Think again.

Lynn Elmhirst, Executive Producer, Host and Travel Expert from BestTrip.TV, explains why finding a way to leave the beach and make soft adventure part – or all - of your next holiday, whether it's a cruise, multi-generation family vacation, a couples' escape, a girl- or guy-friend getaway, bleisure time from your business trip or business conference, might be the best travel decision you can make. And way better for you than a week on a lounge chair.

Soft adventure is about being active and interacting with the outdoors and nature. It's not about extreme activities that involve intensive training or baked-in danger. Think hiking, cycling, canoeing and kayaking, spelunking, tree walks, orienteering, photography, bird and wildlife watching, agriculture and rural volunteering - not tagging sharks, climbing Everest, or base jumping!

Tapping into your inner Scout, not SEAL.

Soft adventure vacations are one of today's top travel trends. Some reports say 50% of North American travelers have started choosing soft adventure travel experiences over beach vacations. There are outdoor adventures waiting in some of the world's most beautiful, inspiring places for travelers of every age and most levels of fitness. Cruise lines are getting into the 'action', pun intended, wit active and soft adventure options in ports of call, and even with some ship board activities.

Get active on your next vacation and here are some of the benefits:

Physical Wellness

Fill your 'park prescription': anytime you can be active rather than sedentary, you're doing your body good. Doctors are starting to prescribe 'park prescriptions' to get people moving outdoors, deep breathing clean air, absorbing Vitamin D to reduce the impact of, and even treat common modern ailments, from heart disease to obesity to ADD. And of course you've heard that sitting is the new smoking. Anytime you're moving not sitting, your overall health and fitness is winning. Outdoors just makes it more effective.

And knowing you're going on an adventure on your next vacation can give you motivation to stay on your fitness program at home so you can enjoy the kinds of soft adventures you want to experience when you travel.

Acid Balance: Breathing fresh outdoor, clean air is believed to have an alkaline effect on your body. This can reverse or balance acidity from stress and lower oxygen levels from a more indoor, sedentary life. Ultimately, being active outdoors is a valuable tool to fight impaired fat loss, poor endurance and more unwelcome physical effects and make your body stronger and healthier.

See green to get fit: Getting outdoors is one of the best ways to support your fitness goals. Research shows that when you're viewing the color green (that is, plant life in a natural setting) exercise actually feels easier! So you'll enjoy it and stay with it longer, and it feels less like a 'workout' than play.

Get dirty to get healthy: It's possible our lives have just gotten too… clean. It's time to get down in the muck to strengthen our immune and digestive systems. Contact with soil and the earth is now believed be important to reconnect us to the good bacteria, enzymes and other organisms in soil that helped our ancestors – and can help us – strengthen our bodies against allergies, asthma, chronic digestive problems and support our overall immune systems.

Mental Wellness

Reduce stress, improve your mood and perceived energy: Being active in nature has been shown to realign thinking associated with stress and depression and low energy levels, and viewing natural beauty can elicit feelings of awe, releasing endorphins and trigger a purely natural mental 'high'.

Take a hike, grow your brain-power: Memory loss as you age is linked to a shrinking hippocampus in your brain. Guess what? Hiking and walking or similar moderate outdoor activity grows the hippocampus, with just 3, 40 minute walks a week. And brain scans after being active show focused activity in the pre-frontal cortex.

Increase your confidence to deal with uncertainty: The one thing you can always say about Mother Nature is that she isn't afraid to throw you a curve ball. Soft adventures give you low-risk opportunities to grow your problem solving skills when things don't go according to plan, practice staying cool under pressure, and acquire confidence in your ability to cope with life's uncertainties.

Give yourself a sense of accomplishment: Physical adventures give you opportunities to push the envelope of your safe zone and acquire new skills and knowledge outside of your daily routine, especially when they take place in a new environment. When you set yourself a challenge – like getting to the top of a new hill, to the end of a new trail, and achieve it, we get a chemical reward from our brains that creates euphoria. Don't we all need some natural euphoria in our lives?

Personal Growth

Create Memories and Stories: Our earliest ancestors knew the value of group memories and storytelling. Outdoor adventures and challenges create new memories, shared stories, opportunities to learn from challenges and share them. Even tough times create great stories, and fantastic times can give us inner resources to draw on for a lifetime.

Forge new relationships: embarking on challenges, achieving goals and getting those outdoor and physical 'highs' together with other people, can forge lasting bonds, whether it's with family, new friends, or even business colleagues.

Develop Self-Awareness/ Mindfulness: Outdoor adventures, especially ones that keep your body busy, free your mind to reflect on what you're seeing and experiencing, and on big picture 'life' itself. Most of our days are occupied on mentally-heavy work, family scheduling, and multi-tasking. Hiking or paddling or most other soft adventure remove us from our day-to-day mental loads, and let the side of wonder, self-reflection, and interaction with a world that's greater than ourselves take over.

Help the World

A lot of soft adventure travel options involve interacting with the natural and unspoiled world. Increasingly, soft adventure tourism, when it is about responsibly interacting with those natural spaces and resources, wildlife and local / indigenous people, provides one of the only – and best – sources of income to financially support their ongoing protection. The value of adventure travel creates a 'business case' for preserving them from development or other encroachment.

Key words: responsible and soft. Soft adventure isn't just 'soft' on your body, it's ALSO soft on the world around you. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Soft adventure can be transformative travel for you AND for future generations together on this earth.

(Photo: Kayaking in Halong Bay, Vietnam, a shore excursion on our Seabourn cruise. BestTrip.TV)

Start your Trip!
 
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High-Flying Winter Luxury at Whistler Blackcomb

Canada's Whistler Blackcomb ski resort in British Columbia has been rated top in North America for the third year in a row.  The mountain and lifestyle are already legendary for skiers and riders, but Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler is upping the ante this winter with high-flying luxury helicopter mountain adventures that will give you epic memories and stories to share.

Winter "Glamping":

A custom snow hotel experience: A helicopter takes you to the a remote ice cap to explore ice caves before arriving at your own private enclave, for a stay in a luxury "snow hotel." The encampment is custom designed and built with comfort in mind, complete with pre-warmed down duvets, gourmet meals and a hot tub in a remote wilderness setting. This experience incorporates an array of bespoke Four Seasons services, including a natural thermal spa experience with a Four Seasons spa professional and culinary offerings prepared by Four Seasons' chefs.

Wilderness Wellness Hot Springs Experience:

Your journey includes a helicopter ride over a remote ice cap before arriving at a remote natural hot spring, where you are greeted by a master yoga instructor and a Four Seasons spa therapist to enjoy a private yoga session, followed by an aqua massage treatment. The experience includes thermal pool-side cuisine and cocktails prepared by a Four Seasons Chef de Cuisine.

Ice Cap Adventure and Exploration: 

Transportation begins via helicopter over expansive ice fields, after which guests will explore the vast ice caves with a private guide through natural, aqua blue ice sculptures, ice flows and gentle slides transporting you from one cave to the next. The adventure ends with a Four Seasons gourmet mountain-style lunch.

High Altitude Dining:

A private helicopter whisks you to a remote ice cap as you sip on a glass of sparkling Moët Ice Impérial. You're wearing a Canada Goose black label parka and sleek, waterproof Sorel boots, yours to keep, ensuring maximum comfort and warmth for this excursion and years to come.

When you arrive at a glacial peak, you embark on an ice cave exploration, discovering a spectacular 12,000-year old labyrinth of chambers of aqua blue magnificence, where you gather a crucial ingredient for the upcoming cocktail session - pure glacier ice. The resort's Mixologist will shake the ice into one of their signature specialties amid the majestic beauty of Whistler's mountain peaks. 

Once cocktail hour is complete, you re-board the helicopter and take in the alpine scenery before returning to a luxurious Private Residence  featuring panoramic views where the Executive Chef prepares a memorable dinner boasting locally sourced ingredients and premium meat cuts paired with custom cocktails that complement each dish. 

It may be hard to choose which of these one-of-a-kind exploration, culinary and wellness backcountry experiences – all with the brand's renowned style and finesse – will make this winter your best season yet.

Start your Trip!

 

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Go Glamping in Antarctica

Antarctica may be on your travel bucket list, but what if even the prospect of being one of the few people ever to set foot on the surreal, winter wilderness of the South Pole isn't enough to convince you to rough it?Well, you don't have to. We've discovered a tour operator that takes only a dozen visitors at a time to what they call the 'real' Antarctica, inland from cruise shore excursions, all the way to the actual Geographic South Pole.

And they do it in style. Inspired by luxury safaris of yesteryear complete with china, chefs, hampers and fine linens, White Desert creates an encampment of luxury pods that furnishes almost as unique an environment inside as outside.

Taking off from South Africa, it's a half-day's flight to the camp. While nothing to look at from the outside (and why would you want to when you're surrounded by scenic glaciers and ice waves?), the interior design would be at home in any luxury lodge. It's 'glamping' – that's 'glamour' meets 'camping'.

All photos: White Desert

The camp has six sleeping pods for two, equipped with a bed, desk, and wash/toilet area.

There are separate structures for showers, a kitchen, and lounge and dining areas, and your meals are catered by an award-winning chef. With your comfort assured, it's time to explore.

Guests can choose from two, eight-day trips, and even an extraordinary, 'best day ever' single day to Antarctica and back. Expert polar guides help you discover the wonders of the immense 'white desert' continent through different excursions out from base camp. You may trek to a magnificent colony of 6,000 majestic Emperor Penguins, explore exhilarating ice formations and tunnels, go technical rock climbing, abseiling, kite-skiing, even take a trip to the actual Geographic South Pole and the science station nearby. Imagine standing at the single place on earth where all points lead… only north!

Your actual footprints will be swept away by the snow, and the company ensures no ecological footprint will be left behind in this pristine environment either. The company's zero impact policy is complete: the camp is temporary, and re-created each season; all waste – including human – is removed; solar and wind power the camp; and even your flight emissions are offset through dedicated carbon projects around the world.

It's an Antarctic luxury 'safari' where you can have the world's rarest scenery, rushes of adrenaline, and stylish comfort, too.

Start Your Trip!Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Get on your bike and cycle Scotland! Mountain biking is hugely popular in Scotland and the country is home to some of the best cycling ranges and trails in the UK. read more
Bishop, California, an adventure wonderland

Looking for a city in California where you can spend days enjoying a number of outdoor activities?  Head to Bishop, a paradise for those who want to experience a variety of outdoor activities.

A city inhabited by less than 5,000 and covers a total area of 1.911 square miles; Bishop is nestled along the banks of Bishop Creek and located on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada. It is situated halfway between the Death Valley National Park and Yosemite. It is blessed with an arid climate which means you can enjoy outdoor adventures at any time of the year. Named after Samuel Addison Bishop, a settler in the Owens Valley, Bishop is the only incorporated city in the county of Inyo and surprisingly for a city of this size, welcomes thousands of visitors annually to either enjoy outdoor activities or to attend the week-long Bishop Mule Days which holds the distinction of celebrating the festival with the world’s largest non-motorized parade down Main Street. The nearest major cities to Bishop are Fresno which is 87 miles away, Bakersfield which is 142 miles away, and Modesto which is 144 miles away.

There are so many outdoor activities you can experience in Bishop and its surrounding areas  such as hiking, trekking, rock climbing, fishing, running, cross-country skiing, road biking, rock-hounding, hang gliding, and camping. You can do all these activities in places including Coyote Flat, Bishop Creek Recreational Area, Owens River, Chalk Bluff and Volcanic Tablelands, Rock Creek, Owens River Gorge, and Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. The town has a number of attractions that will amaze you like the Laws Railroad Museum, Keough's Hot Springs, Cobwebs Antiques, and the Mountain Light Gallery. If you are unsure where to start and what to expect in your outdoor adventure in Bishop, there are a number of adventure tour guides in Bishop who will gladly help you in making your outdoor adventure a fantastic one.

Excited to head to Bishop and enjoy a number of outdoor activities? Consult your travel agent and be on your way!

 

Where to Save & Splurge in Vancouver My recent trip to Vancouver confirms that the city is as vibrant and stunning as my Vancouver buddies like to boast. It’s hard, no impossible, to compete with Stanley Park, the stunning waterfront and backdrop of mountains. I hope you’ll find these “splurge and save” tips to be useful when planning your trip to, amongst other kudos, Canada’s “greenest” city. read more
3 Day-Hike Ideas in Northern California

What is your kind of hike? Are you the type that likes hikes that are moderately strenuous--manageable but still get your heart pumping?

Then this list is for you. We've got day-hike ideas here that are not too difficult, but still leave you with a feeling of accomplishment. Moreover, since these trails are not too strenuous, you can bring a bit of comfort with you like a glass of wine to enjoy upon reaching your end destination.

  1. Ewoldsen to McWay Waterfall Trail: You can't go wrong in Big Sur with its incredible stretch of coastland. The Ewoldsen Trail is a 4-1/2 mile (roundtrip) hike that will take you through Redwood Groves, rocky streams, and picturesque views of the Pacific. You can then cross the street to try the McWay Waterfall Trail which takes you to an iconic view of the 80-foot waterfall cascading down the shore.
  2. Lake Margaret Trail: Found in the El Dorado National Forest, this are has many options for day-hikes of every level. The trail is a 5-mile roundtrip where you will see scenic views of beautiful meadows and granite formations. You will also get to enjoy fun water crossings and swim in a cool lake.
  3. Fern Canyon Loop Trail: A simple 1-mile loop, Fern Canyon Loop Trail is an easy hike that kids will enjoy. Here you will go from beaches to redwoods to 80-foot vertical walls covered with ferns.

What are you waiting for? Book your hike holiday in these destinations!

Take a journey into Russia's past, present and future in  Sakhalin Island, Russia

Russia’s largest island, Sakhalin is one of those islands you have never heard of before or know little about and is tedious to get into, but once you reach the island, you will be dazzled by its haunting beauty, learn more about its tumultuous history, and discover why the island is a must visit.

Located between mainland Russia and Japan, Sakhalin Island has been claimed by both the Japanese and the Russians until it was seized by the Russians right before the end of World War II. It became a “prison island” where thousands of Russian dissidents and criminals where incarcerated. It also became infamous when Korean Air Flight 007 was shot down near the island in 1983, killing everyone on board.  Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the island opened its doors to foreigners who are drawn in by its oil and gas industry, and the beauty of the island. Under the radar of even seasoned travelers, Sakhalin Island must be visited before it becomes a tourist hot spot. You can get into the island by ferry from the Russian mainland or from Hokkaido in Japan, or fly into the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Airport served by Russian carriers and Air Asiana.

You would be surprised with the myriad of activities you can enjoy in the island. During winter, you can experience numerous activities like skiing, snowshoeing, ice-fishing and snowboarding in  Gorny Vozduh. For outdoor enthusiasts, you can go hiking and trekking, camping, diving, river rafting, island hopping, and bird watching. You must also visit Sakhalin Regional Museum, Museum of Local Lore, Saklhain Art Museum, Gagarin Statue, Lenin Statue, and the St. Innokenty Church.

Take that step into venturing into the unfamiliar, and be one of the few who dare to visit Sakhalin Island.  Consult your travel agent for more details. 

Top 5 Under-the-Radar Holiday Destinations

Some places can get too crowded, leaving you stressed rather than de-stressed on a holiday. Situations like these make you want to go somewhere else. Perhaps somewhere that's off the beaten path. In every part of the world there has got to be a vacation spot that is often overlooked. This list of under-the-radar destinations may help you find that quiet spot for your next holiday.

Anguilla in the Caribbean is a peaceful, harmonious place to be in. There is no port for cruise ships, keeping its quietness and calmness. Locals don’t even allow Jet Skis on the island as to avoid noise pollution. Haiinan Island is known as China’s Hawaii. This tropical island off China’s southern coast offers gorgeous beaches, a volcano park, a Shaolin Buddhist temple, and an ancient Hainanese village. Housing a string of coral encircling a beautiful lagoon, Rangiroa offers world-class diving experience. This place is the 2nd largest atoll in the world.

Travelers who are skilled in survival skills should visit the Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska. This place is nearly untouched with a wilderness park that spreads across 8.4 million acres. There are no established roads, trails, or campsites, making it a challenge to reach. Kobarid in Slovenia is a picturesque town surrounded by mountains and green pastures. More than just a picture perfect site, Kobarid has a lot of history in it starting from Iron Age to World War I.

From water to land activities, our world has a lot to offer that not everyone is aware of. Leave the stress away and visit these unknown places for a change.

Explore the Off-the-Beaten-Path Destinations in Jamaica

When going to Jamaica, most vacationers think about the resorts that line the island's northern coast. It's not surprising that most travelers will head to that direction because Jamaica is known for exactly that: lounging in the pool, basking in the sun, or enjoying the buffets. But if you're tired of the usual Jamaican scene, why not try exploring the off-the-beaten-path destinations in the island?

It takes an adventurous spirit should you want to explore the other side of Jamaica. However, we can assure you that it's an adventure worth taking! Here are some of the destinations you can visit:

  1. Port Antonio: Located in the eastern side of the northern coast, you can enjoy a slow-paced stay in this local secret destination with lush and green secluded beaches. But, Port Antonio is not just about the beaches. You can try waterfall hikes here or go bird watching. You might also want to try dining on authentic jerk cooking.
  2. Southwestern Jamaica: Just a 90-minute drive from Montego Bay, Southwestern Jamaica is less isolated than Port Antonio, but can still offer you a less crowded vacation spot. Some of the activities you can join are a safari excursion on the Black River, a tour of the historic Appleton Rum Estate, and a relaxing dip at YS Falls. You might also want to visit Treasure Beach, which is the site of Lovers Leap where two Jamaican slaves were said to have leapt to their deaths.
  3. Pelican Bar: A 20-minute boat ride out on the sea, Pelican Bar stands on stilts. Guests can enjoy a frosty Red Stripe and some fresh-caught seafood here.
  4. Mandeville: When you think of Jamaica, you think of beaches. However, land-locked Mandeville is something else. Here you can find the Caribbean's oldest golf course, the Manchester Golf Club, which dates back to 1868. Expect an English vibe when you visit this place, with cricket games and English-style pubs all over the place.
  5. Flower Forest and River Head Adventure Trail: Go to this ecotourism attraction and enjoy a 130-acre tropical forest and 40 acres of landscaped gardens. Follow a hiking trail along Little River and feast on the beautiful sights that include dozens of tropical plants, flowers, and birds. At the end of your hike, you will find yourself in a 14-foot deep pool where you can relax and enjoy the view.

Experience Jamaica differently by exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations. Book your holiday with a travel agent today and get the best deals!