Come face-to-face with rare wildlife with a Galapagos cruise
Posted: 14 September 2016
Whether you have always dreamed of seeing stunning natural wonders with your own eyes, experiencing intriguing culture for yourself or meeting some of our planet’s rarest and fairest wild animals, everyone has those extra-special travel destinations that they have had their heart set on for years. From far-flung wonders to close-to-home gems, our Sales and Product Managers have picked out some of their favourite bucket list destination ideas to help inspire your next travel dreams...
1. Gape at the Galapagos Islands
The remote Galapagos archipelago in Ecuador was among the first group of sites to be added to the World Heritage Site list in 1978, and continues to reign as a top contender on many travel wish-lists. A truly unique outcrop of volcanic islands, setting foot on these otherworldly shores is like taking a trip back in time, where the inhabiting creatures have seemingly stepped straight from the pages of pre-history. Greet the famous Giant Tortoises, the largest species of tortoise on Earth, or watch the ways of the frolicking Blue-Footed Boobies, who attract their mates with brightly coloured feet and a flamboyant strut! You might even cross paths with Diego, the infamously virile tortoise, who is single-handedly saving his species having fathered no fewer than eight-hundred babies over his hundred-year lifespan! With each isle differing slightly, learn how each species adapted to life in their home, and follow in Charles Darwin’s footsteps to discover what inspired his landmark Theory of Evolution.
The best way to see the islands is by boat, and the luxury La Pinta Yacht offers a rewarding experience with expert-led excursions and on-board lectures. In addition, seasonal barbecues, snorkelling and the chance to spot whales and dolphins in the distance ensures that there is also plenty of fun to be had along the way! Alternatively, Silversea Expedition Cruises takes its guests to the heart of the action, offering complimentary exploration activities including Zodiac tours, snorkelling, kayaking and nature hikes.
2. Marvel at Mysterious Machu Picchu
As one of the world’s most important archaeological sites, and one of the most talked about in South America, Machu Pichu is a much anticipated life-long highlight for many travellers. Set in a truly awe-inspiring location in Peru, the remains of this abandoned citadel are encrusted along the craggy mountain ridges of the Andes, with the Urubamba River gushing some two-thousand feet below. Built by the Incan Empire in the 15th Century, the magnitude of its engineering efforts is outstanding – built without any help from iron, steel or the wheel, each dry-stone brick is tightly fit together without the use of mortar. Having remained hidden from view until it was rediscovered in 1911 by historian, Hiram Bingham, and with enigmatic alignments with astronomic events, the mysteries of Machu Picchu are all part its irresistible allure.
It takes four days to hike the Inca Trail from Cuzco to the Machu Picchu ascent, though we recommend taking the classic Belmond Hiram Bingham Train, named after the explorer who shed light on Machu Picchu’s remains. Relax over a gourmet dinner and observe the beautiful scenery, before arriving at the main attraction in late-afternoon, after the crowds have dispersed.
3. Be Whisked Away in the Wilderness
There is nothing quite like leaving your cares behind you and embracing the call of the wild. Canada is the second largest country on Earth, and offers ten-million-square-acres of adventurous landscape to get lost in, from the craggy Rocky Mountains to stretching pine forests, where Grizzly Bears and moose forage away in the foliage. Every intrepid traveller who loves to feel the reinvigorating power of fresh ocean breezes and sky-scraping mountains needs to experience a Canadian wilderness lodge, where outdoor activities make for days spent riding on horseback across untrammelled scenes of natural beauty, spotting whales off the coast of the wild Atlantic Ocean or cascading down the river on an exhilarating kayak adventure. Our superb collection of lodges in Jasper and Vancouver allow you to experience the rugged wilderness in complete luxury, while a journey on the Rocky Mountaineer allows you to sit back and watch the stunning scenery from the comfort of a sumptuous train.
4. Be Awestruck at Angkor Wat
The largest religious monument in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angkor Wat is one of the best preserved temples in Cambodia. So well loved by its nation that it graces the country’s flag, this five-hundred-acre site in Siem Reap has been in continual use since it was built in the 12th Century by King Suryavarman II of the Khmer Empire as a shrine to the Hindu god Vishnu. With the figures of more than three-thousand heavenly nymphs and bas-relief sculptures carved into its walls, the grandeur of Angor Wat never fails to astound, though there is plenty more to discover in the surrounding Angkor Archaeological Park; numerous dusky coloured, crumbling stone remains can be found tucked into the foliage, many strikingly entwined with twisting tree trunks, sprawling from their roots up to the sky above.
The gateway to this stunning ancient world is Siem Reap, where fabulous five-star luxury accommodation can be found, such as Amansara and Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor. Fantastic for combining culture with a week of relaxing on Cambodia’s beautiful beaches, this also makes a good choice for families – little Lara Crofts and aspiring Indiana Joneses will jump at the chance to explore!
5. Be Infatuated with Italy
The cream of Italy’s extensive crop of illustrious cities, Rome and Venice are two of Europe’s most timeless and must-see destinations. The former is the country’s prestigious capital, where historic landmarks, ancient ruins and the world’s most influential artworks are waiting around every corner. A Mecca for fans of fine art and history, walking the vibrant streets on foot will reveal iconic sights that never lose their glory. A stop by the city’s centrepiece, the spectacular Coliseum, is essential, as is visiting the beautiful, newly restored, Trevi Fountain and perching on the Spanish Steps for a photo opportunity, as Audrey Hepburn did in the silver screen classic, ‘Roman Holiday’. Venice is equally as alluring; built on more than one-hundred islands in a lagoon off the Adriatic Sea, the magic of the canals and breathtaking marble palaces conjures up images of wildly fanciful masked carnivals that the city is so well known for.
For a different perspective, take the journey on the elegant Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, and savour a slower pace in elegant Art Deco style with silver-service fine dining, wonderfully vintage cabins and fine Champagne in the exquisite mahogany bar. There is no finer way to experience the stylish sophistication of Italy!
6. Go ‘down under’ at the Great Barrier Reef
The world’s most renowned underwater wonderland and largest coral reef eco-system, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is also one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, stretching approximately one-thousand-four-hundred miles across a protected marine area. As the largest structure on Earth built by living organisms, this is the ultimate place of pilgrimage for divers, who can experience the stunning sight of four-hundred types of coral, four-thousand types of mollusc and approximately two-thousand different types of tropical fish, plus majestic whales, turtles, reef sharks and dolphins. While this may seem like a heaven under the water, the unfortunate news is that the reef is increasingly at risk, and conservationists are stepping up efforts to reduce threats to restore its condition. To see at in all its thriving glory, it is time to make haste!
The Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland make a fantastic base, with the aquatic paradise of the Great Barrier Reef at your doorstep. Make the most of the stunning azure seascape views from your luxury five-star accommodation qualia, Great Barrier Reef, and you will feel as though you are in the heart of this beautiful marine kingdom.
For more information and inspiration for your next luxury bucket-list holiday, to obtain a quote or to make a booking, please call our expert Travel Consultants on 01244 897 505.