Posts tagged with "bucket list"

BEYOND YOUR BUCKET LIST × SOUTH AFRICA

Go Beyond Your Bucket List in South Africa

With United Airlines’ new direct flight launching from Newark to Cape Town this December, South Africa is becoming more accessible than ever before. As an increasing number of travelers move beyond typical bucket list trips and seek out meaningful, unique experiences, they will find South Africa has everything they’re looking for. The South African Tourism Board has launched the #MeetSouthAfricaMondays campaign to introduce travelers to some of the country’s lesser-known but most compelling experiences, curated by long-term citizens and lovers of South Africa.

• Accessible Art in Woodstock

• Rediscover Durban

• Johannesburg’s Revitalized Art Scene

• Marine Life of the South African Coast

• Adventures in Drakensburg

• Panoramic Views on the Panorama Route

• World-Class Winelands

• Tastes of a Township: 4Roomed eKasi Culture

The Urban: Arts and Culture Redefined

Accessible Art in Woodstock
All across Woodstock, a suburb of Cape Town, buildings are covered in colorful art, painted by local and international artists. “The movement was founded by a longstanding group of artists that were painting in Woodstock but who wanted to take their art from the studios into the streets,” says Juma Mkwela, a tour guide who leads visitors on street art walking tours of the area. “We wanted to inspire, we wanted to educate, and we wanted to tell stories that hadn’t been told. Today, we have more than 100 pieces here by local and international artists.” High-end restaurants like The Test Kitchen and bustling, artsy watering holes like Casa Woodstock Bar populate the neighborhood, creating a vibrancy to match that of Woodstock’s colorful painted buildings. 

Rediscover Durban

Undergoing its second wave of urban revitalisation, Durban has elements that appeal to every kind of tourist — everything from beautiful beaches and perfect weather to high-caliber musicians, fusion food, and world-class distilleries can be found along the city’s streets. According to Jonas Barausse, urban storyteller and Durban local, “Durban really appeals to someone who wants to discover, who wants to peel back the layers of a city. Entrepreneurs are doing some really amazing stuff.” Florida Road, one of Durban’s main strips, is full of life, energy, and color, embodying the city’s spirit. The road is lined with local coffee places and Durban dining staples for travelers who love the bustling atmosphere of city life. Durban’s proximity to coastline, mountains, and some of the world’s best game parks and wildlife make it a perfect stop on a South African vacation.

Johannesburg’s Revitalized Art Scene

One of South Africa’s more well-visited areas, Jo’burg is known for its social life, spirit, and history. Maboneng is the modern center of the art scene in Johannesburg, populated by galleries, boutiques, bars, and restaurants. For a lesser known side of Jo’burg, Charles Nbube suggests visiting his home township of Soweto. “Despite past struggles, it’s a very progressive township, full of historical sights and activities and reignited life,” Charles says. “There’s bungee jumping and quad biking at the Soweto Towers; cycling and tuk tuk tours from Leto’s Backpackers. And there’s Hector Pieterson Memorial, where you can learn about the 1976 Soweto Uprising. The wounds are the scars of the past are still open in this township, but nobody’s crying here.”

The Wild Side: Pursuing Natural Splendors Beyond the Safari

Marine Life of the South African Coast

Take a safari path less traveled by hopping on a boat. Voyage around the Dyer Island system in Gansbaai to spot the Marine Big Five: the great white shark, African penguin, southern right whale, cape fur seal and dolphins. “I challenge anyone to find another place on Earth that can offer such diversity so close to shore,” says Alison Towner, marine expert and guide with Marine Dynamics. For the ultimate shark cage diving experience, try to visit from May to September when they’re in the highest density. Also according to Alison, “peak season for southern right whale watching is October and November.”

Adventures in Drakensberg

South African topography is much more than its famed safari plains. The mountains and valleys of the Drakensberg contain the largest concentration of hiking trails in South Africa, as well as around 300 species of plants that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. Beyond hiking, the mountains are the perfect host for adventure activities such as rock climbing, ziplining, horseback riding, paragliding, whitewater rafting, hot air ballooning, and abseiling. According to James Seymour, a South African mountaineering guide, the mountains’ most “unmissable” activity is a helicopter trip over the Drakensberg. Unique flora and fauna, dense population of antelopes, and ancient rock art hidden in stunning vistas make the Drakensberg one of only 20 places in the world that have been recognized twice by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

Panoramic Views on the Panorama Route

The most scenic and diverse geographical features of South Africa can be found along the Panorama Route, an aptly named 1,242 miles of road in the often-overlooked province of Mpumalanga. The road passes around the Blyde River Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world and provides access to unique geographical features such as Lisbon Falls, Graskop Gorge, and Bourke’s Luck Potholes. From God’s Window, a viewpoint 2,297 feet above the lush forest below, it is said that on a clear day you can see to the ocean in Mozambique. Beyond natural marvels, the Panorama Route allows a glimpse of local culture outside of urban centers. “Support the local community by buying their arts and crafts that they sell at sights along The Panorama Route,” suggests David Quihampton, who has been a Mpumalanga tour guide for fifteen years.

The Gourmet: Wine and Food

World-Class Winelands

Less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town, South Africa’s Cape Winelands are “the best wine destination in the world,” according to Andre Morgenthal, who has worked in the wine industry for nearly thirty years. Within a three-hour radius visitors can easily see ten different wine regions, from Constantia to Stellenbosch, each with their own specialty varietals. Like other wine power-houses of the world, the Winelands have a long history of excellence. In recent decades, however, the Winelands have redefined themselves, bringing together European influence with their own country’s flair. “Pinotage is our national grape,” says Andre, claiming the grape as the region’s flag bearer for red wine. “It’s producing beautiful, world-acclaimed wines.”

Tastes of a Township

For authentic South African cuisine, visit the Cape Town restaurant 4Roomed eKasi Culture. The restaurant’s founder, Abigail Mbalo, a contestant on Master Chef South Africa, named her restaurant in  honor of the standard four-roomed homes found in townships across the country. “With our cuisine, we want to tell stories about growing up in a township. We want to evoke nostalgia and pride,” Abigail says. Her restaurant revamps traditional recipes with fresh ideas and fresh ingredients from the backyard garden. Guests enjoy offerings such as a pumpkin and pap dish called umqa, to which Abigail adds butternut, nutmeg, and truffle oil, or the dessert, amkhekhe, based on a popular scone and made modern with citrus, chocolate, and a yuzu syrup. Surrounded by fast food and frantic lifestyles, the restaurant allows guests to slow down and get a delicious taste of South Africa’s history and culture.   

Japan Tourism Breaks Record

The Japan National Tourism Organization announced that more than 30 million overseas travelers visited Japan in 2018, an all-time record and an 8.7% increase over 2017 (the previous record year).

“Tourism to Japan from the United States – about 5% of the total – soared 11%,” says Naohito Ise, Executive Director of the Japan National Tourism Organization in New York, “with more and more Americans seeking beyond the classic tourism destinations of Tokyo and Kyoto to discover lesser-known parts of the country.”

In 2018, America’s two most influential travel magazines gave travel to Japan a major thumbs-up, with Travel+Leisure pronouncing Japan the “Destination of the Year” for 2018 and the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards citing Tokyo and Kyoto as the top two big cities in the world.

“American tourism to Japan is expected to continue to rise in 2019 as the country builds up to host major international sporting events,” continued Ise, “with a host of prestigious American media including Japan in their much-valued annual lists of the most recommended places to visit in the coming year.” The list of media is unusually impressive, including the New York Times, theWall Street JournalAFAR, Architectural Digest, Departures, Fodor’s, and Frommer’s.

For more information about travel to Japan, visit JNTO on its WebsiteFacebookInstagram and Twitter. To contact the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) New York office directly, please e-mail jntonyc_press@jnto.go.jp or call 212-757-5641.

COACHELLA 2018 LINEUP + MORE

SEE THE WEEKND, BEYONCÉ, EMINEM AND MORE AT COACHELLA

The Coachella lineup is here, and we couldn’t be more excited to head back to Indio this April. We hope you’ll join us! Travel Packages are on sale now, along with a limited amount of on-site lodging packages and Platinum Estates. Explore available Valley Music Travel offerings and the lineup below!

BOOK YOUR TRAVEL PACKAGE NOW

Enjoy the comfort and ease of a Coachella Travel Package, including a three night stay at one of our participating hotels, GA or VIP festival passes, and shuttle transportation between your hotel and Coachella all weekend long.

ALREADY HAVE FESTIVAL PASSES?

 

Valley Music Travel also offers shuttle transportation for those traveling to the action from LAX or select local hotels/landmarks. LAX shuttle passes are on sale now, and Any Line, Anytime shuttle passes go on sale to the public on Friday, January 5 at 12PM PT. Looking for a place to stay overnight? Great local hotel rates are currently available via Coachella’s Official Hotel Accommodations Provider, Curadora, for Weekend 1 and Weekend 2.

BUCKET LIST × MENDOCINO COUNTY

BUCKET LIST/2018: MENDOCINO COUNTY IN THE OFFBEAT FILE

 

FROM ROTHSCHILD GIRAFFES TO PYGMY FORESTS, BOWLING BALL BEACH & 10,000 BUDDHAS, MENDOCINO COUNTY UPS THE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE WITH AN INSPIRING LINEUP OF ADVENTURES

Diving deep into Northern California’s crown jewel delivers an experience that’s both easy on the wallet and hard to replicate.  This is the land of ancient redwood groves, natural oddities and awe-inspiring attractions; an earthy blend of maverick farmers, cutting-edge brew masters and personalities with a passion for the offbeat.

Just two hours north of San Francisco, Mendocino County is the true call of the wild, effortlessly mixing wine, waves and wilderness.  Linger on the Lost Coast, break a sweat at Bowling Ball Beach or dive deep into flights of award-winning Alsatian wines.  Boasting 90 miles of prime Pacific coastline, 90+ wineries and 24 state/national parklands, the options for adventure are endless.  www.VisitMendocino.com.

TOP TREKS FOR THE EXPERIENTIAL TRAVELER

• Lost Coast Adventure/Candelabra Tree Forest – North of Fort Bragg lies California’s famed Lost Coast, Mendocino’s most wild and remote coastal wilderness with plenty of bragging rights. The Shady Dell Trail – a three-mile excursion – invites visitors to discover the rugged region including the mysterious candelabra tree forest. Free; www.mendocinolandtrust.org.

• B. Bryan Preserve – Experience the African veldt on Mendocino County’s south coast. Join the twice-daily tours to feed the rare African hoofstock- Rothschild Giraffe, Zebra, and Antelope-at B. Bryan Preserve. This remote outpost tucked into Point Arena along scenic Highway 1 also offers an eye-popping giraffe barn for offbeat events. $35 per adult/$20 per child for 1.5 hour Land Rover tour; www.bbryanpreserve.com.

• Pygmy Forest – From Jug Handle State Beach, step back through time as you hike the 2.5-mile self-guided nature trail called The Ecological Staircase, which explores five ocean terraces (each representing 100,000 years) that have been uplifted over time and have created this unique coastal range.  Visitors can take a walkabout in the local gardens or bed down for a deal at Jug Handle Creek Farm, a European-style hostel for just $45/night; http://www.jughandlecreekfarm.org/nature-education/ecological-staircase/.

• Bowling Ball Beach – Rows of boulders carved by time and tide await at Bowling Ball Beach. Hidden, like the Terracotta Army, at low tide these concretions reveal themselves once the sea has retreated. The beach is part of Schooner Gulch State Beach, free; www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=446.

• City of 10,000 Buddhas – Peacocks, pagodas and “Vigor” and “Virtue” signposts — backed with the resonance of chanting monks – this is the stop for a peaceful walkabout at one of the nation’s largest Buddhist monasteries.  Open to the public, this stunning City of 10,000 Buddhas offers daily prayer (12:30 p.m.) in the eye-popping Jeweled Hall, complete with 10,000 golden Buddhas lining the facility from floor to ceiling; free.  Stay for a tasty lunch at Jyuan Kang Vegetarian Restaurant on-site. www.cttbusa.org.

• Solar Living Institute/Memorial Car Grove – A scout about the Memorial Car Grove at the Solar Living Institute in Hopland is certain to spur a selfie.  Tucked along the Inspiration Highway (101) at the gateway of Mendocino County, this oddity takes shape in the form of hulking gas guzzlers, including classic Edsels repurposed as art.  These rusting relics from the 1950s and ’60s with grown trees sprouting from the interiors are a statement to our times.   Get up close and personal with a grinning grille or hug that tree.  Free; www.solarlivinginstitute.org.

• DIY Point Arena-Stornetta Lands Hike – Relish the wild outdoors at the only land-based portion of the 1,100-mile California Coastal National Monument: Point Arena-Stornetta Lands. The newly acquired lands and moody bluffs of Mendocino’s coast — incorporating more than 1,600 acres — give hikers new access to a 12-mile stretch of coastline laced with cypress forests, scenic cliffs and wildflower fields.  Free; https://www.visitmendocino.com/point-arena-stornetta-public-lands/.

• Point Arena Lighthouse – Make a day of scouting the coast with a pit stop at Point Arena Lighthouse.  The tower is the only West Coast lighthouse of significant height (115 feet) that visitors can access all the way to the top. Breathtaking 360-degree views and a museum and shop await.  Six lodgings dot the 23-acre property including the romantic Lighthouse Keeper’s Apartment ($200/dbl.). General admission $7/children 11 and under $1; www.pointarenalighthouse.com.

• Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens — Work up a thirst while touring one of the few botanical gardens located directly on prime Pacific Ocean frontage. Known for its spectacular displays of rhododendrons and dahlias, the garden delights in all four seasons.  Bee Friendly Gardens and Sustainable Vegetable Gardening are a snapshot of the annual seminars held.  Pet- and kid-friendly. $14 adult/$5 children (5-17); www.gardenbythesea.org.

• Beer Flight at North Coast Brewing Company – Tame your thirst with a flight of brews at the north coast’s best brewpub. Slither into a tasting flight of four beers ($6) or splurge with the 14-beer sampler with a friend; $21.  The Tap Room is the stop for wood-fired pizza and weekends deliver live jazz; www.northcoastbrewing.com.

• Glass Beach – An anomaly that is eye-popping, visitors can seek out sea glass on Fort Bragg’s unique trash-to-treasure state beach. Formerly the city dump, Glass Beach has evolved over tide and time polishing the glass from head- and tail-lights, jars, bottles, and more into tiny, colorful glass pebbles.  Red and blue are the rarest! Free; www.visitmendocino.com/does-glass-beach-really-have-glass.

• Roots of Motive Power – The age of steam is alive and on show in Willits, California. Just east of town off the Inspiration Highway (101), Roots of Motive Power shows off its cache of classic steam engines, donkeys and railroad track to visitors on their work days each month, free; www.rootsofmotivepower.com/work-days.

• Orr Hot Springs – Soak up some relaxation at this clothing-optional outpost nestled in the rolling hills near the town of Ukiah. The mineral waters flow through communal tubs, a cold pool, rooftop and private tubs.  Simple lodgings are also offered as well as camping on site.  Day use is $30 for adults/$25 children. Reservations required; www.orrhotsprings.org.

• Montgomery Wo0ds State Reserve – Near Orr Hot Springs lies one of the state’s most magnificent groves of virgin redwoods. To stand among the redwood spires deep in the forest is to stand in the nave of one of nature’s cathedrals. High up in the canopy, past flying buttresses of enormous branches, the green treetops soar 300 or more feet above.  A network of easy trails links the Reserve and adjoining fern groves.  Free; www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=434.

• Disc Golf at Anderson Valley Brewing Company – Pick up a six-pack at the Tap Room and head outside to play a round of disc golf on the brewery’s 18-hole course. Or, take a tour of the brewery offered daily at 1:30 p.m., (and 3:30 p.m./summer); free; www.avbc.com.

• Pennyroyal Farm – Get your goat on at this new, polished venue marking the entrance to Anderson Valley.  A daily tour at this award-winning farmstead dairy includes a visit to the barn to meet 143+ dairy goat companions and 30 dairy sheep, view of the creamery and finale cheese tasting; $15 for adults/$10 for children/under 5 free.  New Pennyroyal Farms wines are also on tap; (Daily tours $15/adults; $10/children.) www.pennyroyalfarm.com.

• Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree – Size matters. Soaring at 315 feet high with a girth of 21 feet, this 2,000-year-old towering tree is a definite show stopper.  Cut in the late 1930s as a tourist attraction, the Chandelier Tree seems to defy nature, allowing autos a smooth passage through its center, albeit tight at times.  Ideal for Instagram Live, a $5.00 fee gains entry through this gentle giant; there are also wonderful hiking trails in nearby Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area.  www.drivethrutree.com.

• Skunk Train – It’s a train thing and it doesn’t get any better than tucking deep into mystical redwoods aboard the legendary Skunk Train.  Depart from Fort Bragg or Willits, which offers an adventure on the Northspur Flyer, for a four-hour trek ascending the 1,740 ft. summit then pushing through to the lush Noyo River Canyon aboard a vintage railcruiser (one of the original 132-year old Skunks) with an open-air coach.  Prices vary. www.skunktrain.com.

      BACKGROUND

Mendocino County welcomes nearly 1.8 million visitors annually who explore its 90 miles of prime Pacific coastline, 90+ wineries and 10 diverse AVAs (earning the highest percentage of organic and biodynamic vineyards in the United States), 24 state/national parklands and 450+ unique accommodations. Straddling scenic Highways 1 and 101, “The Redwood Corridor,” the County delivers an ideal vortex of waves, wines and redwoods laced with historic villages and outback adventures. Located 114 mi./184 km. north of San Francisco, the region’s gateway airports are San Francisco International (SFO), Oakland International (OAK), Sacramento  International Airport (SMF), and Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport (STS).  Visit Mendocino County is a non-profit destination marketing organization designed to enhance the economic vitality of the community by increasing tourism revenue.  For more information, go to www.visitmendocino.com.

facebook.com/VisitMendocinoCounty

 

TRACK DAY WITH LIFERUSH ADVENTURES

By Anthony Sovinsky + Vaughn Lowery

Humans are unique in their ability to overcome the unimaginable. We are forced to explore the unknown –  to push our physical and mental limits. Brave people have taken chances and it has shaped our universe for the better. Whether we are attempting to climb the highest mountain or land our dream job, the thrill of doing something we haven’t done before creates a spark and meaning in our lives. For some of us this becomes a constant journey of discovering the next big thrill or adventure to add to the list of successes. Whether it be a bucket list item or just a childhood aspiration.

LifeRush Adventures is a society striving to deliver outdoor adventures that appeal to the adrenal glands. Recently, we received the pleasure of accompanying them on a trip to the world renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This course has been in operation for over 40+ years and has hosted some of the greatest races of all time. In 2008, Mazda Raceway was home to the Redbull U.S. Grand Prix where Valentino Rossi (multiple MotoGP World Champion) overtakes Casey Stoner in The Corkscrew (one of the hardest turns in motor racing in which you hit a blind cress into a three-story drop with a unique left-right combination) to win the race. It was Rossi’s first win in America; and he kisses The Corkscrew in front of 150,000 spectators. 

LifeRush Adventures in collaboration with Fast Toys Club makes these spectacular track events possible. Every month they take a different track and list an exotic car to commission (Lamborghini Huracan, Porsche 911, Audi R8, etc.) for your driving pleasure. Or, if you own a sports car, you can track it at $359/day.  Moreover, they possess excellent team building/corporate packages, beginning at $3,000 (includes one supercar plus six laps around the track per person). 

At Mazda Raceway, we were offered a 2017 Corvette Z06. In the morning, we started out with an instructional meeting on how to navigate the track: how and when to pass vehicles; the distinction of flags used; additional safety measures and the proper way to ‘hit the apex.’

Moments after, we paired up with a coach (or ride along instructor), we strapped on our helmets and fastened our passenger seat belts. If you’re a confident driver just hop in the driver’s seat.

LifeRush Adventures also offers an array of spontaneous activities: helicopter tours, costal exotic car drives, paddle boarding and flyboarding.

For additional information on packages and services visit: LifeRushAdventures.com