Reviews

Exploring Canada with Leah Harrison

If Canada and Alaska is on your bucket list, then come in and chat to Leah Harrison about her personal experience having just returned from this awe-inspiring destination…

What made you choose this trip/destination?

With my last big trip being throughout Europe for two months and having visited various other countries through the years, I decided it was time to tick off another bucket list destination. The extreme natural beauty of Canada and Alaska is the main reason I decided it was time to explore these countries.

What were some of the places you visited on this trip?

Our trip began in Banff and Jasper in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, then we caught the VIA Rail to Vancouver where we spent a few days in this cosmopolitan city before venturing into Whistler. From here we went back to Vancouver and finished our trip on a Celebrity Cruise for an 8 day journey through the Alaskan Inside Passage. I felt this was the perfect three week itinerary!

Your favourite memory from your trip?

My favourite memory was definitely the day we visited Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. We had a hire car and drove from Banff town through the Rocky Mountains and that scenery along the highway alone was stunning. But it simply took my breath away when we walked down to the banks of the lake and I finally got to see the iconic view. The soaring snow-capped mountains and frozen lake created such beautiful sights which I will never forget.

What surprised you the most about this trip?

How impactful the sights of the Rocky Mountains are. I remember driving along the highway and the mountains just kept going and going as far as the eye could see. It was beautiful.

What are some words you would use to describe your travel experience?

  • Memorable, Visually Outstanding and Refreshing

Did you do anything on this trip you wouldn’t usually do at home? Try a different cuisine? Any adventurous activity? Something that pushed you out of your comfort zone?

Not exactly anything I wouldn’t do at home, but we did do some adventurous activities such as walking on glaciers and suspended cliff walks and ziplining through mountains and valleys. Canada provides some of the best landscapes to get out amongst the beautiful nature, especially for hiking. My favourite adventure was Ziplining through Whistler’s backcountry. There were four zip lines; the first was the highest at over 200m above the canopy floor, the second was the longest at over 1.3km in length, the third was the fastest where we reached over 100km in 3 seconds and the fourth was the ‘most romantic’ as the lines were the closest together and you could hold hands. It was great fun!

Did you discover any hidden gems you would like to share?

I explored most of the well-known sights in Western Canada, however for some ‘hidden gems’ I would definitely suggest hiring a car and simply driving the roads through the beautiful Rocky Mountains. There are plenty of places to pull over or exists leading to some lesser visited sights. I would also suggest visiting some of the smaller towns on your way from Banff to Vancouver or vice versa.

What advice would you give to future travellers?

  • If you are looking for the bright turquoise waters of the lakes then you will need to travel from mid-June on wards as summer takes a lot longer to reach the Rocky Mountains and most lakes stay frozen until then.
  • Leave yourself enough time to explore all the beauty of the region. I could easily suggest 8-12 days for the Rocky Mountains alone.
  • If you have the time I would definitely add on an Alaskan Inside Passage cruise. This was a lovely way to explore the rugged Alaskan coastline and also gave us a relaxing end to our holiday.

What is your next dream destination?

I wish to visit everywhere in the world, however I would love to explore East Africa and all of the landscapes, wildlife and culture that it brings.

Best time to go to Canada

April/May – Spring time and start of the season.

  • Lakes will still be frozen – creating amazing photos and a romantic atmosphere
  • Bears just coming out of hibernation
  • Plenty of deer, big horned sheep, eagles and the occasional coyote
  • Average temperatures: Vancouver –  16 degrees, Ottawa –  16 degrees

June / July – Summer. Best weather and best photo opportunities.

  • Ice melts on lakes to display its famous emerald colour.
  • Long summer days – sun rises early and sets late.
  • Best time of year to see wildlife
  • Average Temperatures: Vancouver – 22 degrees, Ottawa – 25 degrees

August / September – Autumn.  Striking Autumn colours.

  • The bears are common sights
  • Emerald colour in lakes
  • Autumn colours are mesmerising especially on the East Coast.
  • Average Temperatures: Vancouver – 18 degrees, Ottawa 23 degrees

December to Feb – Winter wonderland.

  • Perfect for those who have always dreamed of a white Christmas

Top 5 things to do in Canada:

  • Visit Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper in the heart of the spectacular Rockies
  • Ride on one of the best rail journeys in the world – The Rocky Mountaineer.
  • Visit the SPECTACULAR Butchart Gardens in Victoria on Vancouver Island. Even the non-garden enthusiasts will be enthralled at the spectacular floral display.
  • Travel on the Icefields Parkway road from Lake Louise to Jasper and be overawed with over 100 visible glaciers. While you are there walk on Athabasca Glacier within walking distance from the road.
  • Visit Canada’s East Coast during Autumn to view the striking autumn colours.
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Discover Antarctica

What to eat, drink & read before you go

There is no place on Earth that compares to this great white wilderness of elemental forces: snow, ice, water, rock. Antarctica is simply mesmerising. In Antarctica’s surreal remoteness and extreme conditions, its ice and weather, not clocks and calendars, that determine the itinerary and the timetable of all travel here. Expect experiences unlike any other, whether whale-watching across the open sea, spying a penguin rookery, or framing that perfect photograph of an awe-inspiring ice-form. There is nothing quite the sheer expanse of the southern polar ice cap.

By far the most common way to travel to Antarctica is on a special cruise ship. These trips vary, but are typically between 10 days and three weeks long. You can take various routes to the Peninsula depending on where you are departing from.

To help you get the most out of your trip we have compiled some of the best highlights to get your started…

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Cuba as we know it: A question of now or never?

It’s been a big year for Cuba on the tourism front. Following on from the USA easing travel restrictions for Americans, Cuba achieved 3.5 million visitors in 2016, and Cuban authorities have declared to boost tourism and reach 4.2 million visitors in the new future. The Caribbean island nation was also selected to host the 2016 Americas World Tourism Organisation meeting. Even Pope Francis stopped in for a visit. All of which begs the question: is change already afoot for the world’s truest communist state?

It would certainly seem so. President Raul Castro’s been easing restrictions on private enterprise in recent years and 2017 is set to see international cruise liners chugging into Cuban ports for the first time in over half a century. If you’ve been meaning to experience the Cuba you learnt about in school – that is, the Cuba of today – the time is now.

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Friday Favourites – Why I love Croatia

Dubrovnik 1With Leah Harrison

If your Mediterranean fantasies feature balmy days by sapphire waters in the shade of ancient walled towns, Croatia is the place to turn them into reality. And I may be a little biased as I have family here, but it really does offer something for everyone, from great beaches to green forests, ancient ruins, delicious food, value for money and more!

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Friday Favourites – Discovering Sicily

With Laura Astone

1006307_10151576241767361_1478733958_naaaEternal meeting point between East and West, Africa and Europe, the gorgeous island of Sicily is a linchpin of Mediterranean culture and one of Europe’s most alluring destinations. It has a wonderful juxtaposition of sparkling seas, volcano and dramatic mountain scenery, making it a stunning backdrop for outdoors activities. Sicily and its dozen-plus offshore islands offer enough swimming, diving, hiking and climbing to build an entire vacation around.

And our very own Laura Astone was lucky enough to explore and delight in this stunning island and has listed her top things to do to inspire you and keep the dream bug alive…

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King Island Golf Experience

One | two | three day play and stay packages

Ocean DunesSurrounded by some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches and rugged coastline, King Island has become synonymous for its export of succulent beef, rich gourmet cheese and crayfish plucked from the Island’s crystal clear waters. What people don’t know is that King Island is touted to become the next “mecca” for golfers not only in Australia but from around the world with the opening of two spectacular new golf courses.

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Introducing Portugal’s Douro Valley

Scenic launch’s 2016 Europe River Cruise program

Scenic has launched its 2016 Europe River Cruise program which includes the launch of a new river cruising destination – Portugal’s Douro Valley.

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 12.55.27Luxury cruising on board the brand new Scenic Space-Ship, Scenic Azure reveals the charm and beauty of the verdant Douro Valley that cuts across northern Portugal with kilometres of stunning terraced vineyards.

Scenic Azure has been purpose built to offer an intimate cruising experience for only 96 guests. Boasting the same all-inclusive luxury experience synonymous with the all Scenic Space-Ships from private butler service and unlimited complimentary beverages to full size private balcony suites with exclusive Scenic ‘Sun Lounges’. Plus there is a vitality spa on the Sun Deck and a guest lift between decks.

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Relishing all the Bali Senses

By Leah Harrison

BaliThe mere mention of Bali evokes thoughts of a paradise. It’s more than a place; it’s a mood, an aspiration, a tropical state of mind. From the chaos of Kuta or the luxurious resorts and eateries in Seminyak, to the tropical forested Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali. There is something to suit every traveller. And our very own Leah Harrison got to experience Bali on all levels thanks to her recent trip. Leah shares her favourite experiences and exclusive accommodation deals…

I was lucky enough to travel to Bali earlier this month and experience some of its amazing cities and sights and wanted to share with you the places I stayed during my time here.

With this country neighbour being so accessible, most of us have been able to experience what Bali has to offer, mainly it’s benefits of being so affordable and only a short plane ride away. But for those of you who have travelled here before and perhaps stayed in a large public resort and want something different, or for those who are looking for a luxurious touch that won’t break the budget, I would like to share with you the places I stayed in and why I loved them so much…

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Introducing North Island, New Zealand

By Shane Cleary.

20150909_144814With spritely cosmopolitan cities, an authentic opportunity to experience NZ’s indigenous Maori culture, and a bubbling and boiling volcanic heart, the North Island in New Zealand is an exceedingly versatile destination for any type of traveller, writes Shane Cleary form Malvern Travel & Cruise.

This month Shane had the privilege to visit New Zealand as a guest of Tourism NZ, Virgin and Air New Zealand to showcase the oft-overlooked North Island which features a sublime combination of forests, mountains and beaches, not to mention a great foodie culture too.

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Scared of Heights?

Be very afraid then…

HeightsWhen it comes to sky-high attractions, glass floors are all the rage these days.

China is currently in the midst of developing what will become the highest glass-bottom bridge, not to mention what it claims will be the longest and most exhilarating as well.

The Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge will sit 300m above the valley, around 60 metres up on the Grand Canyon’s Skywalk. Those tourists brave enough to make it onto the completed skywalk will be treated to stunning views of the national park that was the inspiration for the planet Pandora in the movie Avatar.

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