Seeing wildlife in their natural habitats can be a life changing, soul stirring experience, not only for animal lovers but all types of curious and adventurous travelers.
Wildlife themed itineraries are best experienced in small group settings – whether they be private or small group land tours or small ship cruises, taking you into areas less visited, less accessible. Small groups lend themselves perfectly to a better learning environment while contributing to the conservation and protection of species. Sustainable tourism - the best way.
Following are 7 top itinerary picks – one on every continent. Photo credit above: Lindblad Expeditions
For nature and wildlife enthusiasts, Costa Rica is a perfect destination. The landscapes are ecologically diverse, filled with rainforests, lakes, volcanoes, cloud forests and a wide array of plant, bird and wildlife, from chattering howler monkeys and slow-moving sloths to scarlet macaws, toucans and blue morpho butterflies, one of the largest butterfly in the world. With some luck you may even spot an elusive jaguar or rare tapir.
Stunning, tropical, an amazing experience for sure. And popular.
To get away from the crowds (and additional reasons), I recommend visiting on a small ship cruise: luxury yacht, clipper ship, adventure or expedition style, you have a number of great choices.
River cruising continues to be very, very popular. Plenty of new ships are being launched, along with new itineraries, new ports of call, ships dedicated to younger travelers and excursions dedicated to wellness and being more active.
River cruising is truly amazing. And the good news is that one doesn't have to leave North America to take advantage of this exceptional experience. One region relatively under the radar is the Columbia River (and her tributaries).
A trip to Antarctica is one of the most grand, exhilarating and amazing adventures. Stunning scenery, peaceful landscapes, icebergs, snow, seals, a wide variety whales and of course, penguins! Sites and sounds you will not find anywhere else. Quite the powerful combination.
Before you go, though, you really need to do your research. A trip to Antarctica is a big investment, in yourself and your budget, so you really want to make sure to pick the right trip and ship for your personality, travel style and interests.
The options are many (and growing) and can be overwhelming. Following are 7 things you should consider when choosing your cruise.
Photo credit: Quark Expeditions - David Merron
I was first "introduced" to the Marquesas Islands back in 2002 during one of the first seasons of Survivor. I use introduced lightly as it was on TV, and on a reality show to boot. It is highly unlikely that I will ever experience these islands the same way, but the beautiful scenes left a lasting impression on me.
What is the difference between “cruising” and “yacht style cruising”?
First is ship size. Yacht style ships are intimate and cater to 2 to 340 guests. A far cry from the large and mega ships with thousands of guests. The primary differentiators, though, and most alluring, are the experiences these ships offer. Here are the main ones.
On flights from Europe back to the US I have had the opportunity to see Greenland numerous times from above. It’s amazing to see this massive landscape, especially on very clear days. The largest island in the world, bigger than France, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Belgium combined.
Imagine what you’ll experience being there in person. Here are my top 9 reasons to visit.
Photo courtesy of Quark Expeditions
The city of Auckland is full of diversity and personality. It is also New Zealand's largest city with a population of nearly 1.5 million. If you're looking for somewhere exciting to go to on your next vacation, Auckland is the place to be.
Why do you ask? Below are some of the top reasons why you shouldn't miss the opportunity to visit this magnificent city.
Welcome to Tassie! Australia’s smallest state, it is often overlooked as a destination. It shouldn’t be, with so much to see, do, experience. It also boasts having the cleanest air on earth. That in of itself sounds especially inviting.
Here are my other top reasons why you should visit (not listed in any order of importance).
Sometimes a rail trip is just what is needed to thoroughly enjoy the scenic surrounds. No driving, no constant stopping to get that photo, travel through areas where roads don't or can't go. Sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery and wildlife (instead of the road).
Here are 7 incredible train adventures that can be taken on it's own or even better, woven into an existing itinerary. Whether you are starting or ending an Alaskan or European cruise, a Rhine River cruise, exploring Australia and New Zealand, taking in Machu Picchu or combined with a golf package, consider adding these journeys into your plans. They'll make an already great trip exceptional.
Over 10,000 waterfalls, 130 volcanoes (30 active), 800 hot springs, 269 named glaciers and a population of 334,00 fun and friendly residents, all in an area smaller than the state of Kentucky. This is Iceland.
If you love open spaces and nature mixed with a little adventure (or a lot), then a visit here might just be for you, because Iceland can be simply described in one word -
To really experience all that Iceland has to offer, you need 7-10 days to explore the country. But if you only have a few days (maybe you are on a stopover to/from Europe or you are on a cruise), day trips in and from Reykjavik will have you leaving with WOW memories.
My top suggestions include the following:
Anchorage Visitor Center (JodyO. Photos)
Alaska is a top bucket list destination for many. The stunning beauty, nature and wildlife is just amazing. People are friendly, indigenous experiences are exceptional and the regional foods outstanding.
When discussing Alaska trips with clients, it almost always includes sailing through the Inside Passage. And it should. With all the experiences available, what an amazing region!
But I’m here to tell you a land only vacation is equally amazing.
Photo courtesy of AmaWaterways - AmaMagna
Ocean cruises have been a popular way to vacation for decades, and for good reason. They’re affordable, convenient and offer travelers peace of mind knowing that everything they need for a fantastic getaway is all in one place. What could be better than that? Well, consider a river cruise.
A land of extremes. Vast wilderness, exceptional walking and hiking trails, rugged coastlines, cozy beaches, abundant wildlife (furry, feathery and finned), quaint towns, small harbors, golfing, world class wines, beers and spirits, farmers markets, culinary delights, indigenous cultures, marvelous gardens, boutique inns, seaside lodges and elegant hotels.
This is Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Photo courtesy of Adventures by Disney
Do you ever ask yourself what happened to all that time you thought you had? I sure do - every year seems to zip by faster and faster. And I find this especially apparent when I see friends and family with children. Seems like one day they have toddlers and the next day they have young adults headed off to college (or out on their own).
I'm not sure exactly why I am so fascinated by the polar regions. Maybe it's the beauty of the mountains, snow, fjords, glaciers and icebergs. Having flown over/near the arctic circle a number of times on my way home from Europe, I always wondered what these islands below looked like at sea level. It could also be the allure of the polar bears.
Whether you are looking for a short getaway, to tick off a lifetime dream experience or explore new destinations, there are no shortages of beautiful golf courses around the world for you to enjoy. Fun and exciting trips just waiting for you to create lifelong memories – for yourself, with family and friends.
Off the south eastern coast of Greece lie some of the most stunning islands of the Aegean Sea – the Cyclades Islands. Meaning “encircling”, the archipelago is named such because they form a rough circle around the island of Delos, the legendary birthplace of Zeus’ children, twins Artemis and her brother Apollo. As stated on the Visit Greece tourism site, Delos is the head priest of the Cyclades, the birthplace of immortals. Delos is not a museum. It is not there to tell a story. It is history itself.
There’s a reason the classics are the classics. We love the romance and filtered light of Venice, Kyoto’s temples and gardens, that view of Machu Picchu. But with popularity comes the strain of overcrowding: stress on fragile environments, landmarks, and local infrastructure – and an annoying lack of elbow room. Seasoned travelers know how best to see the favorites, visiting in the off-season, taking two wheels, hiking hidden trails.
But for many iconic destination, there is a place less traveled that is just as cool.
Here are 7 less-explored counterparts to popular destinations that are just as fascinating and fun – proof that when it comes to where to go next, there’s always a new hit to discover.
Who knew there were so many options to think about when planning a Galapagos cruise? Cruise vs land? Sailing yacht or small ship? Which itinerary? What time of year?
When on safari, you have several types of accommodation choices, from high end, five star luxury lodges to simple campsites and a lot in between. Following are the descriptions for the top three most common choices.
When thinking of South America, Peru, Brazil and Argentina often get the most attention. But don't overlook Chile, a country with a diverse landscape north to south and ample things to see and experience.
It's no secret. I fell in love with this country over 10 years ago. Warm and friendly people, great food, wine, interesting history. And for me, the absolute best was the amazing scenic beauty and wildlife. There is no doubt I'll be returning.
Here are my top 8 reasons to visit:
Switzerland has been in my memory bank for a long time, having lived near Zurich for a brief time in the 60's (yes, I'm dating myself), and having visited numerous times while living in Germany. I truly believe that my early introduction to the Alps with my family is why I have such a deep love for mountains.
The Swiss of course are well known for their watches, cheese and chocolate, but the mountain scenery, in my opinion, is the deepest connection. The Matterhorn, Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau - all iconic sites, and worth seeing. A few years ago we went up Mount Titlis and Mount Pilatus. Also worthy. Just beautiful.
With popularity come the crowds. The day we went up Mount Titlis was beautiful but took 4 hours waiting in line for the cable car to reach the top. The wonderful thing about Switzerland, though, is there is no shortage of mountain scenery, from a distance or up close. To enjoy an area less crowded is not difficult.
An area we discovered oh so many years ago is Meiringen - Hasliberg, a perfect spot to explore and enjoy in all seasons, as we did. These pictures are in June, but it's also a fabulous winter resort - in fact its where I learned how to ski.
IMAGINE yourself on the teak deck of a timelessly elegant clipper ship, a warm breeze blowing in your face as the crew unfurl 54,000 square feet of sails above you.
You begin to tingle head to toe.
As you sail into the sunset, you sigh when you realize this is one of the most incredible experiences you have ever had.
A little like Hawaii 50 years ago (except no crowds and many more modern conveniences). A bit like Tahiti except much more affordable. A big slice of paradise. Yet largely undiscovered by North American travelers.
This would be the Cook Islands.
15 beautiful and lush islands make up this Polynesian archipelago, with stunning white sand beaches, volcanic peaks, turquoise lagoons, beautiful coral reefs, laid back lifestyle and some of the friendliest, if not the friendliest, people in the world.
The islands remain unspoiled, with no chain restaurants and no buildings higher than the tallest coconut tree! In fact, that's the law.
How can you go wrong?
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder