Posts tagged with "sightseeing"

Vagabond Adventure Tours

Touring Ireland in March and April means fun-filled festivals, better value flights, quieter roads, lambkins, bluebell-carpeted woodlands and 13 percent discounts on two Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland itineraries if booked by end October 2018.

This award-winning travel company offers two styles of culturally immersive travel.

Vagabond Adventure Tours are for active travelers who want to mix up hiking and biking and other outdoor adventures with history, culture, dining and shopping. An 8 Day Wild Irish Rover Tour departs March 10, 17, 24, 31 and April 7, 14, 21 and 28. Book a March or April date before Oct. 31, 2018, and save 13 percent.

Why wild? Because the tour, recognized by National Geographic Traveler as a Top 50 Tours of a Lifetime, is off-road as much as it’s on, relying on signature 4×4 tour vehicles to go where other sightseeing companies tend not to tread.

Why Irish? Because the tour blends pubs, people, castles and lore into the hearts of active travelers.

Why roving? Guests are never rushed traveling from the west coast of Ireland and the peninsulas of the southwest all the way up to Connemara.

Our itinerary of the southern half of Ireland keeps guests on their toes and exploring under their own steam power. In fact, they’re sometimes, after a walk or cycle, grateful for a sit down in the 4×4,” said Rob Rankin, founder and owner with Amy Rankin. “Every stone we walk over has a story to tell. Ruins and castles are, after all, about people.”

The €1,919 per person double rate (before the early booking discount) includes eight full days of touring, seven nights’ accommodation with breakfasts, services of a professional Vagabond tour guide, guided walks, entrance fees to historical and archaeological sites, demonstrations of local craftsmen at work, ferry excursion tickets and taxes. Activities require a good level of fitness for walking and cycling 2.5 hours each on undulating paths. Additional 2019 departures are weekly on Sundays through mid-October.

Driftwood Journeys of Discovery follow similar itineraries but at an intimate and in-depth looking and lingering pace, sans the physical exertion. A 6 Day Northern Island Tour offers spring departures April 7 and 21 where if guests book before Oct. 31, 2018 they save 13 percent.

“This tour brings tourists into a region that for decades was overlooked because of border issues,” said Rankin. “Basically, nobody wanted to visit Northern Ireland because of the ‘troubles’ there. This only started to change in the early 2000s really. The northwest county of Donegal, despite being in the Republic of Ireland (the ‘south’), was almost cut off from the rest of the state geographically. Thus, its tourism did not develop in the same way as in other parts of the country.” A border region deemed “very hard” up until early in the 21st century emerged with its own identity and culture, partly formed by the years of political turmoil and violence.

The per person double rate of €1,509 (before the early booking discount) includes six full days on tour, five nights’ accommodation with full Irish breakfasts, some entrance fees and relevant taxes. Additional 2019 departures are May 5, 19; June 16, 30; July 14, 28; Aug. 11, 25; Sept. 8, 22; and Oct. 6.

For all of the current specials and promotions offered by Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland visit online; https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/special-offers/.

Vagabond staff curate locally owned accommodations, pubs and restaurants that help serve their goal of authenticity. In the end the mission is to have guests “love Ireland as much as we do.” Transport is in a custom 4×4 Land Rover or Mercedes ‘Vagatron’ that allows access beyond where regular tour buses go.

Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland has been revealing the hidden treasures of Ireland through its carefully planned and executed tours since 2002.  Last year the Irish Tourism Awards singled the company out as offering Best Adventure Experience, and also in 2017 it became Ireland’s first tour operator to achieve Ecotourism Gold Level Certification

South Africa

A Long Walk to Freedom

By Chris Phan, Krishan Narsinghani, and Vaughn Lowery.

Recently, 360 Magazine traveled to South Africa during one of the largest travel conventions on the continent. One hundred journalists from Northern America joined Indaba Media in celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.

Nelson Mandela is respected as the “Father of the Nation.” He was an anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader and philanthropist, who served as President from 1994 to 1999. Mandela also served as the President of the African National Congress (ANC) party from 1991 to 1997.

Mandela was the country’s first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election. His vision was to dismantle apartheid (a system of segregation based on race) by tackling discrimination and fostering reconciliation. Mandela looked ahead and realized the law must change in order for a better future. Twenty-four years after the corrupt system was terminated, South Africa has been in overdrive to establish a firm democracy.

360, 360 Magazine, Vaughn Lowery, South Africa

Indaba Convention

The great city of Durban took the 360 team by storm with Indaba – a meet and greet of media and travel agents to express their lives views and attractions on what the city and South Africa has to offer.

Day one of the Indaba Convention, journalists met at the Maharani Hotel for an opening ceremony. Later, trade show floor booths opened for business at the Durban International Convention Center in addition to presentations from various industry professionals. During the press conference, it was said that the trip’s airline, British Airways would now offer direct non-stop flights between Heathrow Airport and Durban.

Indaba also touched on other tourist attractions. South Africa offers an unbelievable amount of restaurants, markets, bars and lounges, but take pride that they surpass expectations in their food & drink festivals. The Whisky Live Festival and South African Cheese Festival are two major events – just to name a few.

Human rights were another important topic discussed at the convention. The South African people continue to exuberate equality and fairness along with an effort to amend the ways in which the LGBT and minority communities are treated while traveling.

As the evening winded down, an opportunity for networking commenced. Soon after, journalists engaged in conversation while devouring traditional eats coupled with a small beer/wine reception followed by a brief fashion presentation.

On day two of Indaba, Durban Tourism celebrated a dinner cruise on La Vue Floating Restaurant. The 85-foot luxury catamaran (200-person capacity) features two amazing decks, two full bars and a dance floor. Cozy with great cocktails – it’s perfect for groups.

360, 360 Magazine, Vaughn Lowery, South Africa

Durban

Durban’s population is just over 595,000. The metropolitan area has a population of over 3.8 million and is known for its golden beaches, relaxed surf culture and vibrant culinary scene (some of the best spicy curry dishes said to rival India’s). Culture stems from the blend of Zulu, Indian, European and remnants of British roots that make up the city’s diverse heritage. South Africa’s Station Drive Precinct, once a rundown warehouse district has been transformed to a major tourist attraction with exceptional fine dining, drinking and shopping. Thanks to a collaborative group of artistic individuals, businesses range from homegrown distilleries and breweries to local art galleries. I Heart Market is a good and design market held on the first Saturday of each month. Presented with locally produced goods and artisanal creations such as ceramics, crochet toys and original prints – shoppers will not be disappointed. Nearby tourists can partake in an exquisite gin tasting at Distillery 031 along with lunch at Lion’s Match Factory.

The feasting does not stop there – Durban’s own, House of Curries restaurant, blends bold Indian spices and flavors for extravagant curry dishes. House of Curries has been a staple on the Florida Road strip since 1999 and a perfect attraction for relaxation on their patio deck.

Much like a market, BAT Centre is a place where local artists and crafters work on-site, exhibiting and selling their works in a vibrant complex. This nonprofit arts center is dedicated to the preservation, promotion and celebration of the visual arts, crafts, music, dance and literature of the Province.

Street art has found new life in redevelopment projects across various neighborhoods. These street artists were inspired by their surroundings with many exploring themes of politics and nature, all whilst using their work for social activism.

Travelers in search of nighttime adventures can visit Cubana Havana, a popular cigar/hookah lounge featuring handcrafted cocktails as well as a simple menu located on the highly revered Florida Road. Tourists shouldn’t miss Mahatma Ghandi Road in downtown Durban for an evening of fine music at a world – class Jazz bar known as The Chairman. Not only is there an assortment of signature cocktails and cigars, but also a gallery and sophisticated atmosphere that believes in justice for all.

Fun fact. Over 85% of all BMW 3 series vehicles are produced at the Rosslyn plant just outside of Durban and are shipped to various markets worldwide, including the USA, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Canada.

360, 360 Magazine, Vaughn Lowery, South Africa

Johannesburg

The expedition kicked off in Johannesburg aka “Joburg,” (approximately 8 million in population and largest city in the country), the epicenter of South Africa who’s currently in a state of revival. The team then headed to Nelson Mandela Square, a must-see tourist spot. The campus includes the DaVinci Hotel, indoor and outdoor shopping malls, upscale boutiques, a movie theatre, grocery stores, restaurant/bars and a casino.

In order to achieve a local feel, stop by Neighbourgoods Market for purchases of South African eats and assorted libations distributed from multiple vendors.

The following day we departed for Constitution Hill and embarked on a full tour of the visitor’s center. Constitution Hill was former fort site transformed into a prison. “The Robben Island of Johannesburg” included notable prisoners Mahatma Ghandi, Joe Slovo, Bram Fischer and Nelson Mandela. Mandela was imprisoned for more than twenty years at this location. “As an African American being able to stand inside the actual cell of Mandela was life-changing. The dark, ominous confined space gave me a newfound appreciation of what it means to be free. No human should ever have to endure such injustice because they yearn for social equality and justice for all,” says Lowery, President of 360 Magazine.

Lunch at Lebo’s Backpackers Outdoor Restaurant was set outside in various cabanas at a local Soweto hostel within its community park followed by the Soweto Tuk Tuk Tour. The team enjoyed riding in these three-wheeled taxis, while sipping on craft beers and witnessing the city’s rich history. Stops included Vilakazi Street, where Nelson Mandela’s house still stands, as well as Hector Peterson Memorial.

Art lovers be sure to drop by CIRCA Gallery which stands beside Everard Read headquarters, parading some of the most important contemporary art collections from around the world.

With regards to nightlife, music lovers can head to Taboo Night Club and News Cafe to discover local and international DJ’s. News Cafe combines its food, services and venue into a coffee bar, cocktail bar, restaurant and entertainment venue all-in-one. It’s the perfect destination for relaxation or clubbing with a modern aesthetic.

360, 360 Magazine, Vaughn Lowery, South Africa

Cape Town

From Johannesburg, the voyage shifted to Cape Town, a world renown entertainment and prestigious modeling hub for some of the industries top talents. With just under 4 million in population, it’s considered the second most populous city in South Africa. The group checked in at The Table Bay Hotel and visited Nobel Square for a photo opportunity followed by lunch at V&A Waterfront’s The Yard Restaurant. Just adjacent in the Silo District is the highly acclaimed Zeitz Mocaa Museum. It exhibits twenty-first century contemporary art from Africa and its Diaspora with over 100 galleries throughout 9 floors, showcasing art from still photography to moving art installations.

Our local guide incorporated “Footsteps to Freedom” walking tour Mandela in Cape Town: From prisoner to President. “Dinner at Crypt Jazz Club was a personal favorite from the team as they feasted into the night while being enamored by some of the nation’s most prolific local musicians.

Table Mountain’s Cable Car Ride offers 360 degree spectacular views of the coastal town while being hoisted to the top. At the summit, clouds draped the surrounding view while journalists snapped selfies for Instagram. On the other hand, if winds are too strong for the cable ride, adventurers can hike alongside of the mountains during park hours to witness this landmark backdrop engulfed by condensation – similar in type to dry ice bucket. Just below, you can take in Bo-Kaap township, an area filled with colorful homes and cobblestone roads. Subsequently, lunch was served by famed chef Abigail Mbalo (from MasterChef South Africa) at 4ROOMED Ekasi Culture. She’s widely known to take indigenous delights and fuse them into gourmet bites fit for the Food Network. The day ended with a night of laughter at the Cape Town Comedy Club, a must-visit for all who enjoy pizzas infused with locally sourced ingredients coupled with barrel of laughs.

360, 360 Magazine, Vaughn Lowery, South Africa

Port Elizabeth

At Port Elizabeth, history unfolded. In 1820, it was established to house British settlers and boasts a population of 1.3 million, as its now a part of the newly formed Nelson Mandela Bay. This Vegas-style resort town is home to Sun International’s The Boardwalk Hotel that includes tons of shops, eateries, bars and casinos within walking distance. Named The Public Art City Tour: Route 67, stops included a visit to Voting Line Sculpture and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum. Lastly, dinner at Asada/Fushin was a meal to remember. The restaurant fabricates South African fusion flare with scrumptious fresh seafood and sushi.

Within two weeks, we received a first-hand account of the history and culture behind Nelson Mandela and his legacy in South Africa. With an intricate four major city tour, we were able to experience an amazing arts and culinary scene in the ever changing country of South Africa. Given the plethora of outdoor activities, architectural gems, gorgeous landscapes and tender-hearted people, this destination should be at the top of everyone’s bucket list if it’s not already.

St. George’s Chapel

Everyone is talking about the royal wedding. The dress, the bouquet, the beautiful couple – the list goes on. But, if St George’s Chapel isn’t on your list, it should be. It is considered as one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. Its elaborate stone fan vaulting is hailed as being one of the best in the world. St George’s Chapel at Winsdor Castle in England, is a chapel designed in the high-medieval Gothic style. It is both a Royal Peculiar, a church under the direct jurisdiction of the monarch, and the Chapel of the Order of the Garter. St George’s is governed by the Dean and Canons of Winsdor and it seats approximately 800 people.

The chapel was established in the 14th century by King Edward III and it has been the location of many royal ceremonies, weddings and burials. The Chapel is located in the Lower Ward.

WEST TEXAS

By: Jennifer Simonson
The skies over West Texas are the area number four of the seven best spots on Earth for stargazing making it the perfect place for an amateur photographer like myself to attempt to capture the Milky Way on film. I opted to bypass the uber trendy town of Marfa and stay in the more laid back town of Marathon about half-a-hour north of Big Bend National Park. I arrived in Marathon near 5 pm and checked into the whimsical Eve’s Garden Bed and Breakfast.

West Texas 1

The brightly colored domes and arches of the bed and breakfast create a feeling described as “Through the Looking Glass.” Fragrant roses, bougainvillea and seasonal flowers fill the open-air atrium between rooms. After unloading my suitcase I set out to explore the town of 400 people. Two hours is more than enough time to wander through the local art galleries, gift shops and 27-acre gardens.

West Texas 3

The Gage Hotel is the town’s historic hotel. Built by a ranch owner in 1927, the boutique hotel offers a heated pool, spa and full-service restaurant to revive weary travelers. The mission-style adobe building decked out in cow skulls, suede blankets and leather hides will not let you forget you are in Texas.

West Texas 2

The cloud build up from storms blowing through ensured I would not be taking photos that evening. Instead I headed to the Gage’s White Buffalo Bar to relax with an El Carranza, the house margarita, before moving in to the 12-Gage Restaurant for dinner. I originally eyed the Blackened Scallops over a Black Eyed Pea Fritter, but thought given the cow-hide covered leather chairs and cowboy decor the Beef Tenderloin Filet with green chili scalloped potatoes would be a more appropriate entree choice.

I woke up early the next day to head into the park. More than 800,000 acres spread out over the high desert terrain of the Chisos Mountains. The park is simply too big to explore in a day. A park ranger told me to start at the Santa Elena Canyon. West Texas 5

The canyon straddles the United States and Mexico border. With 1500-foot canyon walls, it is considered one of the the most dramatically beautiful areas in the park. Many visitors canoe the 20-mile portion of the Rio Grande River that runs through the canyon. While others, like myself, hike down to the river then walk along the canyon walls while occasionally taking a dip in the water.

West Texas 4
That night I drove to the nearby ghost town of Terlingua to set up for photos. The evening was cloudy, so after checking Facebook (thank goodness for the Chevy’s Wi-Fi capabilities) I took a nap in the back of the truck. I awoke just before 5 a.m., as the Milky Way began to rise over the horizon. The clouds had dissipated leaving behind a blanket of stars filling the night’s sky. I spent the 90 minutes adjusting my shutter speed, moving the tripod to capture the best angle trying to take as many shots as I could before the sun rose. But for a few minutes I put aside my camera aside, stared into space and thought about how at one point in time people used the stars to guide their travels, navigate their ships, plant their crops and find their place in the world. I tried to take it all in before the stars retreated in sun’s first light. Then I packed up the 2018 Suburban for the long and dusty drive back to Austin.

Natural Habitat Adventures

Get Wild This Green Season with Natural Habitat Adventures

 

From taking in lush, tropical landscapes to viewing new animal births during the Great Migration, discover where the grass grows greener around the globe.

 

Rainy season brings out a special bounty of nature encounters from flourishing flora to new fauna. Ecotourism leader Natural Habitat Adventures proves it’s easy to be green with trips to see some of the most incredible wildlife spring into action around the world. From experiencing sea turtles nesting and spotting whales along Costa Rica’s south Pacific coast to taking in breathtaking views of huge herds making a great circuit across the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania, see where the grass grows greener this season with Natural Habitat Adventures:

 

Natural Jewels of Costa Rica
10 Days | From USD$5,495
NEW! Green Season Departure: Aug 4 – 13, 2018

In July and August, “green season” is a time of new birth and plentiful transitions among Costa Rica’s lush rainforests, mist-veiled mountains, wild beaches and active volcanoes, containing some of the greatest biodiversity on Earth. Enjoy peak turtle season in Tortuguero, when Pacific green sea turtles settle into their annual nesting pattern. On the new green season departure, Nat Hab makes an extended boat expedition in search of whales, particularly humpbacks, and dolphins during time exploring around Isla del Caño. In Monteverde’s cloud forest, resplendent quetzals and three-wattled bellbirds feed on abundant ripe avocados at this time of year, creating some of the best opportunities to encounter these threatened species in the wild. Nature is especially lively during the green season—the extra moisture tends to animate more birds and mammals in the canopy, as well as frogs, interesting insects and nocturnal wildlife.

 

Botswana’s Green Season Photo Safari
10 Days | From USD$11,795
Green Season Departures: November 2018 to March 2019

Botswana’s prolific wildlife is legendary, so it’s no wonder that it is a top destination for photography-focused African safaris. There’s nothing like seeing it during the “green season,” when intermittent rains bring dramatic skies, new grass and new animal life. Join accomplished photographers and naturalist guides on an adventure designed to reveal Botswana’s abundant wildlife and staggeringly diverse ecosystems, from the fossilized salt pans of the Kalahari Desert to the emerald marshes and sprawling channels of the Okavango Delta. Photograph wildlife in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve as it bursts to life during brief summer rains: where lush grasses lure throngs of wildebeest, springbok, gemsbok and other prey, while the region’s legendary black-maned lion, cheetah and other predators follow in close pursuit.

 

The Great Tanzania Migration Safari
8 Days | From USD$9,995
Green Season Departures: Dec 2018 to March 2019

On Africa’s Great Plains, each year, boundless herds of wildebeest and zebra traverse the Serengeti in search of new grass that sprouts with seasonal rains, and to birth their young. Lion and cheetah lie in wait, finely tuned hunting machines ready to stalk and take down the weakest members of the herds. In the center of the world’s greatest ancient migration route, wildlife lovers will join a small-group safari led by expert expedition leaders to witness a primal spectacle as the drama of predator and prey unfolds before them. Enjoy unparalleled seclusion, comfort and vintage safari atmosphere at Natural Habitat’s remote private camp, immersed in the wonder of one of the world’s truly epic wildlife events.

 

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About Natural Habitat Adventures
Natural Habitat Adventures has been a leader in responsible adventure travel and ecotourism since 1985. From polar bear tours in Churchill to small-group Galapagos cruises, from Alaska grizzly bear adventures to African safaris, our journeys, led by professional naturalist guides, reveal the planet’s most extraordinary nature destinations. As the world’s first 100-percent carbon-neutral travel company—and the conservation travel partner of World Wildlife Fund—we offer eco-conscious expeditions from Antarctica to Zambia with a multitude of adventures in between. For more information, visit nathab.com.