Category: Tours

Epic Safari itineraries in Tanzania

Tanzania is the last remaining refuge of a wide range of African animals which have been rescued from the edge of the abyss and are now protected in their natural habitat. Safaris here no longer involve helping to push them over the edge, and all the shooting is done with cameras. The region includes the vast Serengeti Plain and ancient volcanic craters, which are like a lost world of truly stunning vistas, unchanged for millennia. February is the ideal month to come here and join a safari into the heart of one of the very few remaining wild places left on the planet, with professional guides making sure you get the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime jaunt and experience African wildlife in all its unsullied richness.

Spectacles like the great wildebeest calving happen in February, when the rivers are still fairly high and migrant species of birds fill the skies to the horizon. The rains don’t return until April and the weather is only just starting to become hot, so the conditions are ideal for a great safari here.

Explore the legendary Serengeti and Ngorongoro

This unique park covers over 15,000sq km and is home to a staggering range of animals in their natural habitat, where man is for a change the intruder. The Ngorongoro Crater, covering over 8000sq km, is one of the largest wildlife parks on the planet and has its own species which have flourished here since the comet hit millennia ago. The best serengeti safaris will take you right to the top for awesome views across the surrounding plains before moving on through some of the most bustling markets in Tanzania and across vast plantations.

Zanzibar road trip

Travel by road on a Tanzania and Kenya road trip to the ancient island of Zanzibar, a name redolent of mystique and seeming to embody all the exoticism of an Africa that has all but disappeared. On the way you’ll get to see herds of elephants and other wildlife and stop off at villages for traditional hospitality and a taste of the local food. The road skirts the Indian Ocean, and with deep blue sea on the one side and dense jungles on the other the route is truly amazing and unlike any other. With its ultimate destination of Zanzibar, the semi-mythical spice island of East Africa, the Zanzibar road trip is an absolute must for anyone wanting to pack as much of Africa’s natural riches and ancient cultures into one heady ride.

The snows of Kilimanjaro

For Hemingway, Mt Kilimanjaro was a symbol for all his yearnings, and this is something that you too will come to appreciate on this Active trip across the great Serengeti Plain, which culminates in a trek to the cloud-wrapped summit of the fabulous mountain. It’s the ultimate buzz for combining the great outdoors, exotic wildlife and an energetic climb up a legendary peak. The Kilimanjaro safari holidays also takes in the Ngorongoro Crater with its herds of antelope, elephant and large predators.

Easter family holidays. What to watch out for.

Easter is a time for a family get together and family getaways too. The extended weekend makes it a great time to take some time off without taking too many days off work too. It’s long been a time for short breaks in cities and a time to catch some early sunshine before the peak time summer months.

Travel advice

Travelling with family is a very different proposition to travelling with a friend or family member. There’s a lot more to consider at every stage of your holiday. For instance its best to book as early as possible to give you the widest range of options on accommodation, resorts, location, etc. The closer you leave it to the dates you want to go, the less options you’ll have if you have your heart set on one particular destination.

When booking flights pay close attention to the times they depart and arrive. If you’re taking young children with you then you may find that flights that are very late or very early will cause the most upset to them. Afternoon flights and mid morning flights are best.

Consider booking an all inclusive family holiday so that you have a lot less things to worry about when you arrive. Your entire family can enjoy the resort and its facilities without worrying about the costs of eating, drinking and activities (if they are included).

Research is a must when travelling with a family. No matter what age your kids you’ll want to know they’re catered for. Does your destination of choice have enough things to entertain both the kids and the parents? If anything happens what are the emergency services like, hospitals and means of returning home if there is a problem?

If your kids are old enough, involve them in the research process so you can gauge the kind of activities and tourist attractions they might be interested in. I personally love science museums and in my experience kids love them too. Every major city seems to have one these days so if you’re looking for a city break they’re a great way to see more of the city and keep the kids happy. While beach holidays are more about the resort than the country or town you’re in, it’s still worth escaping the tourist traps for at least a day and finding other activities.

Festivals and Events

One important thing to think about is what festivals and Easter events are happening in the place you’re thinking of going to. Easter is an important time especially in European countries with many major cities hosting special religious events. These can be quite a tourist attraction so if you feel your children would also enjoy the event its worth researching where is the best place for you to watch it. Equally festivals and events can be overcrowded and sometimes overly energetic situations to take young children in to. If you’re looking to take the family away on a city break and want to avoid crowds its worth checking to see if there are any events on that you may wish to avoid.

Transport

Depending on the type of trip you’re taking you need to be aware of what transport you can use while you’re there. Hiring a car is often the best way to get around especially when you have kids to  look after. Almost every hotel can help you arrange a hire car if you want one but you’ll often save money by booking online before you arrive.  Make sure they can supply car seats if you need them and if you have to drive on the opposite side of the road to what you’re used to, take extra care as it can take some getting used to.

If you plan to use public transport I recommend getting a tourist card that offers discounts over 24 hours, 48 hours or 72. You’ll be able to see a lot more in a shorter space of time and make the most of your kid’s energy before they start to complain of tired legs. Tourist cards usually cover entrance fees to museums too as well as subways and some overground trains as well.

Be prepared

Wherever you decide to go make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality. There are lots of ways to make the trip easier for you and your children. Involve your kids in the booking process too and you’ll stand a much better chance of every member of the family having a great time!

Great wildlife holidays for Spring

Wildlife breaks are a fantastic way of spending your holiday. Safaris have never been more popular, with tourists desperate to see a wide range of animals all within their natural environment. To ensure you get the best experience and stay safe, use a company such as Wildlife & Wilderness who specialise in putting together the trip of a lifetime. Here’s my guide to the best wildlife holidays you can take in April.

Namibia

Kenya is usually the first place that springs to mind when thinking about safari but Namibia is fine competition for its African counterpart. Sitting on the West Coast of Africa, Namibia offers a wide range of landscapes to explore including desert, dunes, mountains and grassland. During a trip here, you’ll be able to see elephants, white rhino, leopards and cheetahs living amongst many other species. Not only is the wildlife spectacular, but the scenery is simply magnificent. April is a great time to visit with the air fresh and clear and the landscape at its greenest.

There are many must see places to visit in Namibia for your wildlife holiday. Sossusvlei Pan offers the chance to see the highest sand dunes in the world and the UNESCO listed Welwitschia Plains gives you the chance to see the unique Welwitschia plants, some of which date back over 2000 years. Both sites sit within the Namib-Naukluft National Park which is the largest game park in Africa. Another favoured national park is Etosha which will give you the chance zebras, white lions and wildebeest wandering the landscape. Once you’ve explored the land, it’s time to explore the Skeleton Coast which looks out to the Atlantic Ocean. It is a fine place to see the seal colonies as well as the many shipwrecks that scatter the coast.

Poland

Spring is a great time to visit Poland as the country looks at its most beautiful. Temperatures during April average 8C (44F) and you’ll benefit from minimal rainfall. The weather at this time of year is perfect to go bird-spotting, especially as you’ll be in time for the migrating animals and birthing season.

There are two places in Poland which rival anywhere in the world for wildlife holidays, Biebrza National Park and the Bialowieza Forest. Located in Northeastern Poland, Biebrza is the largest national park in Poland. Most famously, it is home to the Biebrza Marshes which is the prime spot for bird spotting. Here you’ll be able to see many species of ducks, geese and birds, as well as  elks and beavers. The Bialowieza Forest straddles Poland and Belarus and is Europe’s last primeval forest. Protected by UNESCO, the forest gives you the chance to see Bison as well as woodpeckers in April. Other great places to see wildlife in Poland include the Pieniny Mountains and Roztocze National Park.

Australia

Australia is famed for its unique wildlife and ecosystems which make it an obvious choice for a wildlife holiday. To see some of its most famous inhabitants, head to Adelaide and South Australia. Here you’ll be able to see wallabies, possums, platypus, emus, wombats and of course Kangaroos. April sees Australia in Autumn, with temperatures in Adelaide averaging 16C (61F).

From Adelaide, the must see destination has to be Kangaroo Island. It is the third largest island in the country and home to a wide range of natural sites. Visit Seal Bay to see the sea lions and seals that live here, take a tour of Flinders Chase and Parndana National Parks or explore the Murray Lagoon and sand dunes of Little Sahara. Other great places to visit from Adelaide include Nullabor Plain, Lake Gairdner and the Head of the Bight where you’ll be able to see whales swim nearby.

Uganda

Once a notorious part of the world, peace has once again returned to this beautiful nation which offers up the opportunity of a lifetime for a primate safari. There really is no finer place to see them in their natural habitat than in this part of Africa.  During your time here, you’ll see chimpanzees, mountain gorillas, golden monkeys and baboons, as well as a wide range of wildlife. During April, temperatures average 27C (80F), with low humidity in the air.

I would recommend starting in the west of Uganda, taking in tours of the Kibale Forest National Park, especially taking the Kanyanchu Trail to see the daily Primate Walk . From here make your way south, taking time to visit the Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to one of the oldest rainforests in Uganda.

 

Cruise the Arctic Circle for an unforgettable holiday

There is more to travelling the globe than picking the hotspots. So once you begin to tire of lazy beach life, set your sights on one of the coldest regions on Earth, the Arctic Circle.

April in the Arctic promises highs of -12˚C during the day with a drop to around -19˚C at night, but with this chilly climate comes a wealth of wildlife that is too good to miss. Polar bears, humpback whales, walrus, seals and puffins will be waiting for you as well as the spectacular glaciers and icy blue waters.

The best way to explore this mystical region is by cruise, fitting in all the destinations you wish to visit in one trip. While in the Arctic Circle you can see such places as Spitsbergen, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic, getting a real taste of life at the top of the globe.

Greenland

With the impressive titles of largest island and northernmost point of land on Earth, the remote towns and ice fields of Greenland are a must-see stop-off on your cruise. This area consists of cliffs as high as 2000 metres as well as grand mountains and numerous glaciers. The coastline is heavily dented with numerous fjords and is home to the Inuit people. Dependant on your time in Greenland, you can enjoy a wealth of activities including a journey over the magnificent snow-covered landscape while dog sledding or enjoy the hot springs for some relaxation and rejuvenation. From here you can also visit the islands of Baffin Bay where you can whale watch and see the Beluga whale. There are also many plant and tree species there which thrive on the bay shores for those who want to see all that arctic nature has to offer.

Spitsbergen

As the most accessible region in the Arctic Circle, the Svalbard Archipelago is located 600 miles from the North Pole and is a magical world of spectacular glaciers, snow-capped peaks and endless ice. With deep fjords winding through beautiful meadows, you will not be disappointed by the panoramic views. Also known as Spitsbergen, this is a great destination to see arctic seabird colonies including the Puffin. You can also see the Arctic Fox, the Svalbard reindeer and the southern vole. As well as marvelling at the wonderful nature and wildlife of this area, you can also enjoy the breath-taking experience of an ice cave tour where you can walk along the passages formed by the melted water under the glacier.

Canadian Arctic

Some cruises also take you through the Northwest Passage on to the north of Canada, and into the realm of the Polar bear. You can also spot reindeer, snowy owls and even the endangered northern right whale known as the bowhead. If you fancy something a little sporty that will bring you up close and personal with the Arctic Ocean, then kayaking could be just what you’re looking for. Nanavut is a world-class destination for this and the venues are endless. Take this opportunity to touch an iceberg and watch as the marine life swims past you including the mighty walrus. You can also visit Hudson Bay which is a large body of saltwater in north-eastern Canada. It is the second largest bay in the world and is perfect for a spot of fishing in the clear water lakes and stocked ponds.

With stunning scenery, unusual wildlife and a break from the ‘sun, sea and sand’ norm of the package holiday, a cruise around the Arctic Circle is definitely something to tick off the bucket list. All you need to do is pack your thermals, charge up the camera and say goodbye to a holiday tan.

Visit the Fes Festival of Sacred World Music in Morocco

Morocco in north-west Africa is a colourful and exotic gateway to the great continent, being just over 14 km across the Gibraltar Strait from mainland Europe. Its ancient cities, rugged mountains and the Sahara Desert make it a vibrant and exciting place to visit. Its cultural and spiritual riches make it an obvious inspiration for a celebration of sacred music.

Fes Festival

The Fes Festival founded in 1994 by Morrocan Philanthropist Faouzi Skali. Reflecting the spirituality of the holy city in which it takes place, it is organised by The Sprit of Fez Foundation to bring together musicians and performers from all over the world to break down musical and political boundaries. This years festival takes place from 7th to 15th June and the program includes free daily concerts in the city’s Boujloud Square as well as special musical journeys through the heart of the old city or Medina, including Sufi nights in the gardens of Dar Tazi. All of the concerts take place in the evenings due to the heat of the day in the city, but exhibitions and workshops connected to the festival take place in museums and public places throughout the days. Artists this year include Patti Smith and flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia performing in a celebration of Andalusia, this years theme.Full details of all artists and events are available on the website. Tickets and passes for the special events can be purchased online or at the festival.

Fes

Fes lies at the heart of Morocco, the original capital and the religious and spiritual centre of its people to this day. It is the cross roads between the other main cities which strengthens its feeling of the real centre of the country. Fes el-Bali (Old Fes) the medina or walled old gown is the largest living medieval islamic city in the world with its winding lanes, shops, markets, restaurants, mosques, dye pits and tanneries. The city is most easily reached via Casablanca by train with a 4.5 hour journey but trains also connect to Marrakesh, Tangier and Rabat.

Where to stay

To get a real feel for the city a stay in a riad, a traditional medina house-hotel built around a courtyard). Riads come in all sizes and styles to suit your budget and each room normally has an en-suite bath and sitting area. You can book a room,  or rent an entire riad and live like pashas of old.  Make sure to double and triple check your reservations, as it’s not uncommon to arrive and be told that your reservation has been changed. It’s also wise to make sure a guide can meet you on arrival at the medina to show you the way through the tiny alleyways which are confusing to newcomers. Modern hotels and Riads are all reviewed online by previous visitors and travel experts.

Moroccan Excursions

If you want to explore a little more of Morocco you can book trips to the following nearby attractions.

Middle Atlas Mountains

You can take an excursion to walk or horse ride in the mountains to the south of the city. A good destination at the festival time is Sefrou, just 30 minutes from Fez, where the dark sweet cherries of the same name are harvested and celebrated in June.

Volubilis and Moulay Idriss

An hour and a half north-west of Fez is Morocco’s largest and most important Roman remains. A World Heritage site it is a great place to wander an enjoy the ruins and the views. Be sure to take a hat as there is no shelter and plenty of water to drink. The nearby sacred town of Moulay Idriss, with its holy founders tomb, can be a good destination to add to your itinerary and allow some shelter from the heat of the day.

5 Best holiday destinations in March

Timing is one of the most important aspects in ensuring that you truly get the most out of your overseas adventure, so it pays to do a bit of research before you leave. Picking the right season not only gives you the chance to see your destination at its best, but also allows you to pack accordingly. Here are 5 of the best travel destinations for a March holiday.

United States of America

Spring is starting up in March throughout the USA, making it the perfect time to travel. From the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, there’s something for every style of traveller. Take a cycling tour through the scenic Oregon Coast, check out the relaxed living in Hawaii or take a famous American road trip to make sure you see the most from this unique and diverse destination.

Southern Europe

The warming effects of spring see Southern Europe awaken from its cold winter slumber. While still not too hot, the increasing warmth and length of days make March a great time to spend discovering the best that Southern Europe has to offer. The temperature is perfect to get outdoors and explore for the adventurous traveller, with everywhere from the Cote D’Azur to Sicily starting to feel the sure signs of spring.

Africa

Always wanted to experience the magic of Africa, but been deterred by the heat? March is the perfect time to discover this land of wild beauty and spectacular safaris. With the dry season keeping away most of the rain and the tail end of summer giving way to the cooler change of autumn, this is a great opportunity to see Africa without sweltering in the heat. North and East Africa are the best to visit during this time for perfect climate conditions. If you fancy climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. There’s also the stunning annual migration of wildebeest and zebra across Kenya from late March. Well worth checking out at least once in your life.

Australia

March is the perfect time to explore Australia. As autumn sets in, the scorching hot days and wild summer storms give way to clear skies and a cool breeze. With such perfect weather and ideal temperatures, you can start to explore everything that this stunning continent has to offer. The sun is still warm enough to encourage a swim on golden beaches or a stunning snorkelling session on the reef. Take a food and wine trail through Tasmania, explore the Snowy Mountains via horseback or discover the wealth of arts and shopping in any of the capital cities.

Caribbean

What could be better than relaxing on the sands of a pristine beach with the tropical breeze rustling the trees and a seemingly endless expanse of glittering water. The Caribbean is a top spot to travel to in March, however be careful to avoid the price spike and rush of tourists during the Easter holidays. For dive enthusiasts, the Cayman Islands are an absolute must-see, while Barbados offers the very finest in dining and boutique accommodation. Of course Jamaica is a popular stop, with many travellers including it on their travel bucket list.

These are some of the best travel destinations that you can visit for a memorable March holiday. Make your holiday one you’ll never forget by experiencing these spectacular travel locations at their very finest.

Celebrate Queen’s Day in Amsterdam

April sees the streets of Amsterdam come alive to celebrate Queen’s Day with parties, concerts and atmospheric, busy markets appearing across the city. There really is no better time to visit this iconic city. Here’s my guide to the best of Amsterdam and its colourful festival.

Koninginnedgag

Held on the 30th April each year, Koninginnedgag (Queen’s Day) celebrates the birthday of the Queen. 2013 marks the last ‘Queen’s Day’ following Queen Beatrix’s decision to abdicate and so from 2014, the festival will be known as Koningsdag and will be celebrated on 27th April. The festival has been celebrated since 1885 and is marked across the country, with main festivities held in Amsterdam.

Festivities start the night before, with parties and concerts starting in the early evening and celebrating through until dawn. With so many events available throughout the city, the great thing about them is that many are free of charge such the Click Open Air rave. I would also recommend either the festival at the Olympic Stadium or Loveland’s Queen’s Day celebrations.  Mix in with the locals and don orange attire to really get involved in the celebrations.

The Vrijmarkt (flea markets) spring up across the city as sellers are allowed to offer goods without tax, making the shoppers flock to get a bargain. Everything you can possibly imagine is up for sale and for the very best market, head for the Jordaan quarter for a truly atmospheric shop. The canals become packed full of boats, all wonderfully decorated to celebrate and it’s quite a sight to behold standing on one of the canal bridges.

Iconic Amsterdam

There are many iconic images of Amsterdam, from tulips and clogs to the notorious red light district and cafes and you can experience all of these iconic elements during your stay in the city. April is the perfect month to see the tulips in bloom so take a short trip south to the Keukenhof gardens. Within the city, visit the Amsterdam Tulip Museum and the Bloemenmarkt for a true sensory delight.

There really are only two ways you should make your way around the city and that’s either by bicycle or along the canals. Hire your bike and take to the streets or even book yourself a cycle tour to show you the sights. There are 165 canals in total winding their way through Amsterdam so you’re well-connected by water wherever you need to go. I would definitely recommend seeing the Prinsengracht where the canal is lined with houseboats or the Brouwersgracht which is as picture perfect as you can possibly get.

To delve into the grittier side of Amsterdam, take a peek at the Red Light District just to experience this seemingly iconic space. There are even tours available which not only explain the history of the area and how it became so famous but also point out beautiful historical buildings.

Historic Amsterdam

There are many historic sites and museums to visit in Amsterdam, so start with a trip to the Amsterdam Museum. The museum gives a great overview of the history of the city with artefacts dating back to the middle ages. From here take a trip to Museum Amstelkring where you walk into a beautiful ornate building and one of the oldest museum’s in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is of course known for being the home of Anne Frank, with the city’s landscape poignantly described in her diary. For a moving experience, visit the building which housed the secret annex in Prinsengracht 267. The house gets extremely busy so it’s best visiting first thing in the morning. Afterwards take a trip to the Joods Historisch Museum which looks at Amsterdam’s Jewish culture and is the perfect accompaniment to Anne’s house.

Artistic Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a delight for art lovers, home to many museums, galleries and former homes of artistic geniuses. Start your journey by exploring the Rijksstudio at the Rijksmuseum, home to thousands of masterpieces from artists including Rembrandt. To learn more about this legendary artist, visit the Rembrandt House Museum to see where he lived and the space which inspired his work.

The city is also great for those who appreciate modern art, with the Stedelijk Museum being the best place to visit.  Sitting within Museum Square, the museum is home to over 90,000 pieces of art from a wide range of artists including Van Gogh, Pollock, Warhol and Mattisse. Close by, you’ll also find the Van Gogh Museum. Here you’ll get to learn more about Van Gogh’s life and see many of his works including ‘Sunflowers’.

The world’s best destinations for famous drinks

Let your thirst guide you as you explore the world’s best beverages. From Belgian hand-crafted beers and fine French bubbles to the tradition of whisky in Scotland, a true connoisseur will jump at the chance to discover the very finest that the world has to offer. Here are several of the world’s must-visit destinations for the thirsty traveller.

Fiery Whisky – Scotland

As the home of traditional whisky, Scotland attracts a range of thirsty travellers seeking the very finest specimens of this distinctive spirit. Every part of Scotland imparts its own unique flavour in the whisky that it produces, so taking the time to tour around this magnificent island is definitely a must. Explore the stunningly dramatic landscape, the sometimes harsh climate, and the picturesque countryside whose wild beauty will stay with you for a lifetime.

Beer Bliss – Belgium

The Belgians haven’t just introduced the world to the wonder of eating mayonnaise with their fries, their beer has created a benchmark for boutique flavours and unique handcrafted brands. With over 450 varieties of this delicious drink, beer lovers from across the world flock to Belgium for an authentic experience steeped in cultural tradition. Drink from personalised glasses specifically designed to enhance the flavours of that particular beer, tour through breweries or just relax in an old fashioned café with a beer and some delectable Belgian chocolate. Pure beer bliss.

Sophisticated Champagne – France

If you consider yourself to be a connoisseur of all things sparkling, a visit to the Champagne region in France is essential. Take a leisurely tour along the Champagne Route, a picturesque journey through the vineyards and villages that make this unique wine-making region so special.

As the home of the incredible wine used to make toasts and celebrate special occasions around the world, a visit to the Champagne region would be incomplete without a very special tasting. Indulge in a Champagne degustation, a delicious journey through some of the region’s finest vintages and makes.

Wine Lover’s Paradise – Cape Town

Wine and fine dining go hand in hand for travellers seeking the best sensory experiences in Cape Town. Due to the sheer size of the wine growing area, it is recommended that visitors take a tour to get the most out of their experience. For the top wine routes in Cape Town, consider exploring the Stellenbosch, Helderberg, Contantia Valley, Franschoek and Durbanville Valley routes.

These will take you through some of the most magnificent wine growing regions in Cape Town, with extraordinary landscapes and breathtaking scenery everywhere you look. For the dedicated wine aficionado, a visit to Cape Town’s famous wine routes is an absolute must during your travels.

Your taste buds will thank for the chance to sample the world’s finest beverages. This is just the start of the incredible journeys you can go on in your search for a seriously top drop, and will give you the opportunity to experience the unique culture and atmosphere of these amazing countries. Make sure these destinations are at the top of your list if you’re a discerning-ly thirsty traveller.

Norwegian Fjords cruise holidays to the midnight sun

Taking a cruise is a fabulous way to see a few destinations in a truly relaxing way. If you have cruised before you will know the feeling you get when your travel is a very real part of your holiday. Sunbathing, enjoying fine cuisine, taking in some shows or a movie, shopping, swimming or relaxing in the spa while a huge team of people look after your every need and move you closer to your next destination. If you haven’t cruised before it is a feeling you ought to get used to!

Types of Cruise

There are many different cruise lines in operation. Some offer a traditional cruise experience, with dressing for dinner and silver service, while others offer an informal fun cruise with lots of activities and entertainment. Some specialise in family cruises and others have adult only ships either for a party atmosphere or a quieter more laid back experience.

You can take cruises to and from a port near your home or fly to and from the start and finish port. Many cruise companies disembark from ports in the UK to Norway, and the ports are far less chaotic than airports with ships allowing you onboard early on the day of departure while the ship is prepared for disembarkation.

To choose the right cruise line for you try using travel review sites for personal reviews by cruisers such as Cruise Critic and Holiday Watchdog

The Midnight Sun

Although the summer nights rarely get truly dark anywhere in Norway, the natural phenomenon of the midnight sun, where the sun does not dip below the horizon for days, can only be experienced from about 50 miles south of the Arctic Circle and north of that point from June to July. In Norway this is approximately the county of Nordland and above. The further north you go the earlier the more you can experience the never ending days.

Great Ports of Call

Before you reach Nordland there are a couple of beautiful places to call in on. The beautiful capital of Oslo is approached through the 70 mile Oslofjord and the Drobak Narrows, which have afforded the city some safety from invasion over the centuries. Cruise ships berth along side the old Akershus Fortress, jutting out seaward on its craggy headland. The city is a mixture of beautiful historic public buildings and startling modern architecture, but feels somehow cosy and intimate as you stroll the streets and gardens.

Cruising the west coast, at the top of the Aurlandsfjord,  approached via the deep set Sognefjord is the tiny port of Flaam. Most ships that dock here run an excursion to board the mountain railway from the little town up through the winding track past truly breathtaking drops and cascading waterfalls. Eighteen of the twenty tunnels you pass through were cut by hand by a labour force of 220 men in astonishing feat of engineering you can learn about during the journey.

Further up the coast is the beautiful art nouveau city of Alesund, rebuilt entirely in 1907 after a devastating fire, the city is colourful and ornamental with facades, turrets and towers. Cruising North from Alesund you will experience the wonderful everlasting twilight of the evenings as you sit in the on board bars and restaurants or stand on deck late into the night without ever seeing the true darkness.

Your northernmost call will be to Tromso, the capital of the arctic circle, surrounded by islands and mountains. The city’s archtiecture is rich and varied with the striking 1960’s edifice of  the Arctic Cathedral standing out. To see the whole city laid out below, take a trip on the Fjellhelsen cable car to Mount Storsteinen 420 metres above sea level for fantastic views. As the last major city before heading to the pole, Tromso has a Polar museum in the older part of the city, charting the brave history of the explorers.

Wherever you floating home takes you, you can be sure you won’t want the sun to set on this beautiful journey.

Family holiday ideas for a Canadian vacation

For your next holiday with the kids, Canada has to be the ideal location to visit. With its unique landscape and vast difference between each province, there is much here to keep the whole family entertained. April provides a great time of year to visit with the winter all but thawed away. Here’s my guide to some great ideas for your Canadian family holiday.

Western Canada

Of course whilst spring has definitely settled in by April, the deep chill of the winter is hard to shake especially in the northern and western provinces. Alberta’s Rocky Mountains and Whistler in British Columbia are still fantastic for skiing in April, with the added bonus of being able to explore the surrounding areas more freely now the thaw has set in. At these great ski resorts, the family will certainly be able to keep active with skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling widely available. You’ll also be able to hike, mountain bike or wander along nature trails through this true natural wilderness. Whistler seemingly feels as if it comes alive during April with a selection of events to attend during the month. These include the Whistler Cup, which runs from 5th – 7th April, and features the very best of young skiers and the World Ski and Snowboard Festival which runs from 12th – 21st April.

For a city experience, Edmonton is a fantastic place to take the family. A trip to West Edmonton Mall is sure to keep everyone entertained. Home to over 800 shops, the mall also houses Galaxyland theme park, miniature golf, ice rink, skate park and an indoor waterpark complete with slides and bungee tower. It’s also home to the wonderful Fantasyland Hotel which is certainly worth a night’s stay in as each room is themed, with my personal favourite being the Western themed room.

Eastern Canada

April is a great month for harvesting Canada’s most famous export, maple syrup. Throughout the country, Maple Syrup festivals spring up and one of the most famous is the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, held this year on Saturday 6th April. There is fun for the whole family here with steam train rides, pony rides and even live music to enjoy. I’ve always felt the highlight is the pancake tasting, drenched in maple syrup – perfect!

Toronto is an exciting city to spend your holiday in, perfectly mixing city life with Canada’s natural landscape. Toronto is home to some fantastic museums, including the Canadian Motorsport Heritage Museum , the Ontario Science Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum. Take a trip to the top of the CN Tower for views across the city from one of the tallest buildings in the world. April sees the ‘EdgeWalk‘ open for business at the tower so if anyone in your family is 13 or over and feels particularly brave, they can buckle themselves to the side of the tower and lean over the edge!  Of course, it goes without saying but you must make the trip out to Niagara Falls for an unforgetable family experience.

Wildlife tours

Canada’s wilderness is filled with many animals which are iconic to the country. There are many tours available to help your family see these beautiful creatures living in their natural environment and whether you’re 8 or 80, you’re sure to be kept entertained.

British Columbia is home to many great wildlife tours. April sees the bears come out of their winter hibernation so visit Clayoquat Sound to book onto a black bear watching tour or Glendale Cove to see the grizzly bears. Here you’ll also be able to see seals, eagles and even orca whales on whale watching tours.

For a feel of the arctic, head north to Nunavut where the Arctic Ocean will still be frozen over in April as is most of the landscape. Here you can set the imagination running with a stay in an igloo, explore the tundra by dog-sled or visit Hudson Bay to see the walrus and polar bears.

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