We offer insights into our favourite travel destinations within this historic and breathtaking country, as well as must see and do experiences…

Cusco

Commonly seen as the gateway to experiences such as the Inca Trail and sites such as the Sacred Valley, it can be easy to overlook Cusco as a destination of its own! However, both within and just outside the city’s walls lie many sites to be discovered. Wander through the Plaza de Armas, where locals and tourists alike gather for coffee. See the sacred site of Sacsayhuaman or visit the sobering Coricancha, which was once the centre of Inca worship. Enjoy a fresh breakfast from San Pedro Market and at night, sample Peru’s finest cuisine before dancing the night away. Cusco combines the best of it all; history, nightlife, stunning architecture- just to name a few!

The Sacred Valley

Just a hop, skip and a jump away, the Sacred Valley begins. Also known as the Urubamba Valley, the area is home to countless Inca relics and sites. You can also find some of the most breathtaking trails in the world here. If ruins are your thing (if not, they will be after this!), then you will love this area. Explore the abandoned fortress of Pisac once used to defend Cusco and see the Maras salt mines. Marvel at the ingenuity and scale of the agricultural systems used by the Inca at Maras and Ollantaytambo. But the pièce de résistance of the Sacred Valley- and the likely reason you are considering visiting, is Machu Picchu. Accessible from both Cusco and from other towns within the Sacred Valley, this is an absolute must see on your South American adventure…

Amazon

An adventure in the Amazon is on many a bucket list and a childhood dream of many. Explore the best of this captivating rainforest from eco-lodges that don’t compromise on luxury, all whilst situated deep within the jungle. Get lost in the wilds of the incredible Peruvian Amazon with an incredible array of activities. Visit local villages, swim with pink river dolphins, or go bird watching- the choice is yours! The Amazon is particularly accessible in Peru. Take a flight from Lima to Iquitos, the gateway of the Peruvian Amazon.

Huacachina

For those looking for to get the adrenaline pumping and their own little slice of paradise, adding a day or two in Huacachina is an absolute must. The area boasts some truly impressive dunes- perfect for dune surfing, tackling in a dune buggy, or for the fainter of heart, enjoying the sunset from! It is also home to some incredible pisco vineyards. A small desert oasis town, Huacachina is a haven for both thrill seekers and those looking to unwind.

Nazca Lines

Stretched across kilometres of arid desert and best seen from above are the mysterious Nazca lines. Forming geometric shapes such as lines, waves and rectangles, and more intricate figures like hummingbirds and spiders, the lines are the subject of much debate. They are thought to have been created in early Nazca society, which flourished between 1 AD and 700 AD. These giant geoglyphs range from as big as 48 km long and to as small as a few metres. The purpose of the lines remains only theorised.

Lake Titicaca & The Uros Islands

An icon of both Peru and Bolivia, this spectacular lake is nothing short of otherworldly. Both the biggest lake in Peru and situated at the highest altitude, it is also home to the Uros Islands, a fascinating example of architectural ingenuity. The islands were originally built as a refuge for the Inca people in a time of political uncertainty. Each island is made of ingenousiously crafted woven totora reeds. Today they are home to approximately 1,200 Uros people and act as an incredible gateway in a rich cultural history…

Chachapoyas

Get off the beaten track and into the beautiful northern Peru with a visit to Chachapoyas. Meaning ‘cloud forest’ in Quecha, the region lives up to its name. Delve into the dense tropical rainforest of this area and and back in history. Here, you can visit some of the most captivating and more untouched sites in Peru. Visit Kuelap, a fortress consisting of over 500 structures and dating back as far as 500 AD. The site has been integral in the understanding of Inca ritual practices, with many burial sites being uncovered there.

Arequipa

Surrounded on three sides by towering mountains and boasting original charm is the city of Arequipa. Known as the ‘white city’ for its buildings made of sillar stone, Arequipa boasts everything from gastronomic delights to historical scandals. Visit the Santa Catalina Monastery, where nuns once held wild parties and lived raucous lives. See the ‘Ice Maiden’ in person, a 15th century mummy called Juanita. Relax in the lush gardens of the many plazas and enjoy evenings sampling each of the local picanterias.

Colca Canyon

The second deepest canyon in the world (deeper than the Grand Canyon!), the Colca Canyon is as beautiful as it is seemingly bottomless. Discover towns that have flourished in the bottom of the canyon, and see condors soaring at impossible heights. If you’re a fan of trekking, the canyon is an absolute ‘must-trek’, with options for 1, 2 or 3 day hikes. However, no matter how long you stay we promise you it will never be enough!

Resources: The Culture Trip, Scratch My Pack, Along Dusty Roads, Laidback Trip, Aqua Expeditions, Be My Travel Muse, National Geographic, History, Washington Post, Peru Hop, How To Peru, Intrepid Travel, Chimu Adventures

About

The largest land mammal on Earth, African elephants are both incredible and improbable looking creatures, with their large flapping ears, elongated trunks and menacing tusks. However, elephants are the gentle giant of Africa. They are enormous- weighing up to eight tonnes and growing as tall as four metres.

One of their most recognisable features (aside from their size) are their tusks, which are actually their upper incisors and grow throughout their lives. They have six rows of teeth, each row wearing down every ten years. This means most elephants only lives till they are sixty, and you will always find old elephants near marshes as they can only eat the soft wet grasses nearby.

These captivating animals are unlike any other and have some awesome quirks. Their long trunks can pick up objects, communicate with other elephants, drink water and even act as a snorkel- just to name a few things! Their large ears also enable them to cool down more easily. Furthermore, supplying their intelligence are their enormous brains, weighing up to 5kg. As you would expect, it takes time to produce such an incredible animal- elephants’ gestation periods last for 22 months!

 

Habitat & Diet

You are probably familiar with Asian and African elephants, but did you know the African elephant actually has two subspecies? They are the savannah and forest elephant, both differing in habitat and physical appearance. Elusive forest elephants are smaller than their savannah-dwelling counterparts and have a downward curve in their tusks. Whilst they are usually found in central and western Africa, their larger savannah cousins can be found in greater numbers on the African plains of Eastern and Southern Africa.

When it comes to eating, elephants do not fancy themselves connoisseurs- they’ll eat pretty much anything. As herbivores, they don’t eat meat, but they will eat pretty much anything else, whether it be twigs, grass, leaves or bark. They spend 12-18 hours per day on eating alone, consuming as much as 300 kilograms of food. Their cravings do not end there however, elephants can also drink as much as 200 litres a day. That is the equivalent of an entire bathtub!

 

The Elephant Herd

Elephants are intelligent creatures, and the social mechanisms of their herds are just as, if not more, intricate. Led by a matriarch, packs can be as large as 50 elephants and consist of female offspring and relatives, including juvenile males and females. The strength and unity of the herd depends largely on the leadership of the matriarch. A strong herd is important, especially during childbirth. Other members provide support for the mother and when it is born, the young elephant can find shelter and defense from attackers.

Male elephants, known as bulls, are seen as usually solitary from the time they reach adolescence. Whilst occasionally interacting with other bulls to learn or fight, they are typically loners that only engage with herds when the females are in mating season, known as estrus.

 

Threats to Survival

Poaching always has been and continues to be the biggest threat to the African elephant’s survival. A century ago there was an estimated 12 million African elephants and today there are 400,000.  An estimated 20,000 elephants are killed every year. Despite banning ivory trade in many countries, elephants continue to be killed for their tusks.

Elephants also face several other threats to their survival, such as decimation of natural habitat and human-elephant conflict. Between the years of 2007 and 2014, elephants lost 30% of their geographical range and their population declined 62%. The conflict between farmers and elephants is a continuous cycle with the growth of urbanisation and loss of habitat.

As a keystone species that supports other wildlife and retains balance of natural environments, elephants are integral to the ecosystem. The continual decline of this breathtaking species must be prevented. In order to find out how you can support, visit websites such as www.worldwildlife.org or support causes such as the Sheldrick Trust.

Resources: World Wildlife, Elephants For Africa, Elephants Forever, Sciencing, National Elephant Centre, National Geographic

Part of the big cat family, leopards are closely related to lions, tigers and jaguars and are both beautiful and unique. Today, we delve into what makes these creatures so special and why they should be on your safari “must-see” list…

Physical Characteristics

There is something truly mesmerising about seeing a leopard on the prowl for the first time– and every time after that! Perhaps it’s their coat– which provides a deadly camouflage, their incredible strength or hypnotic eyes.

Whatever it is, leopards are one of the most enthralling animals in the world. Well known for their strength, the leopard is the strongest big cat. With the ability to climb trees and haul their prey with them, leopards are stronger than their heftier counterparts and are in fact the smallest member of the big cat family.

Spots

What make leopards most distinctive however, are their spots. Unlike the stripes of a tiger or the spots of a cheetah, leopards have rosette shaped spots. They are incredibly similar to jaguars, with one small difference– jaguars have a small spot within the rosettes of their fur! So keep those eyes peeled…

Behaviour & Habitat

Open plains, roaming wetlands, deserts and chilling mountainous areas. Found in a diverse array of areas, leopards are incredibly adaptable. Found in several countries including Africa, India, China and Russia, they are the most widely distributed big cat species.

They are also a solitary species– leopards will have their own territory that overlaps with others. After giving birth, a mother will abandon her nomadic ways to raise her young. In the wild, they will generally live between 12 and 17 years.

Leopards are both stealthy hunters and speedy to strike, a perfect but very dangerous combination. Despite it being widely thought that cats dislike water, leopards are strong swimmers and actually enjoy swimming. They have more unlikely talents– leopards can jump astonishingly well. They are able to run up to 60 km/hour, jump to a height of 3m and as far as 6m.

Diet

Leopards are carnivores and are not fussy eaters. They usually feed on creatures smaller or less powerful than them, including deer, baboons, rodents and cubs. Interestingly, leopards do not drink too much water– they get the majority of their water from meat.

Threats

A vulnerable species, leopards face several threats, primarily a result of human behaviour. Several types also are endangered or critically endangered. Suffering from a loss of natural habitat and habitat fragmentation, leopards have seen their range reduce by 31% in the past twenty years. Furthermore, a reduction in prey and human-wildlife conflict means leopard numbers are in decline. Unfortunately, there is also a market for leopard skin and bones, as well as for live animals.

Unfortunately when in close contact with humans and towns, they also become a threat to livestock. Therefore, people and our ever-expanding cities pose more than one danger.

One of the most special and enthralling animals, the leopard is a truly breathtaking animal and one of our favourites to look out for on safari.

References: How Stuff Works, AWF, National Geographic, Live Science, Just Fun Facts, Animalia

Situated 1,000km off the coast of Ecuador, The Galapagos Islands are regarded as a living laboratory and museum. Made famous by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, this archipelago represents an important turning point in scientific theory. Furthermore, the islands are home to some of the most unique and fascinating creatures in the world. Read on to discover all the reasons why the Galapagos should be on your bucket list…

Unique Location & Geology

The fascinating ecology of the Galapagos Islands is due to its unique position, on the equator and at the confluence of three currents. The archipelago consists of 19 islands, 6 small and 13 large. The earliest island dates back around 5 million years– considered relatively new in terms of geological formation!

Continuously evolving, these islands grow 3-4 inches in height every year, caused by the significant tectonic movement of the area. Evidence of this activity is all around you on these islands. Explore barren rocky shores, lava tunnels, and witness stunning lava flows. The islands are also volcanoes, with the exception of Isabela. This incredible island is made up of six volcanoes!

Incredible Wildlife

You may have seen the slow-moving Galapagos tortoise or the astonishing variety of Darwin’s finches. When you think of the Galapagos, otherworldly-looking marine iguanas may spring to mind. Known for its fascinating wildlife, these islands are home to some truly unique creatures. Due to its isolation, the Galapagos exists as an oasis from the outside world, and more importantly, from introduced species.

There are many reasons why the Galapagos Islands are a must-see for any nature lover. However, their adaptations and the evolution each species has undergone are what make these islands unique. Through the process of natural selection and encouraged by the isolation of the islands, iguanas learnt to dive and breathe underwater. Cormorants began to swim faster and dive deeper, whilst some finches adopted the ability to drink blood.

The wildlife of the Galapagos is diverse and stunning, and a true testament to the power of nature. Furthermore, because of their little interaction with humans, much of the islands’ wildlife has little fear of people.

Discovery by Humans & Charles Darwin

Chanced upon in 1535, the Galapagos Islands were discovered by Fray Tomás de Berlanga after his ship drifted towards the archipelago on a dead wind. Several decades after, the islands appeared for the first time on maps.

It wasn’t until almost 300 years later that the revered Charles Darwin would set foot on the sandy shores of the Galapagos. Departing from England in 1831, Darwin embarked on a five-year voyage that intended to map the coast of South America.

On a stopover in these islands, Darwin would soon discover his main source material for his revolutionary book, “On The Origin of Species”. Presenting an alternative to the creation theory, Darwin’s work was (and still is!) seen as radical and ground-breaking.

This theory of natural selection made note of the genetic adaptations between different generations of species. One of the most well known examples of this is Darwin’s finches. During his travels, Darwin had collected several specimens of bird. Later, upon further study, he would realise that whilst the birds belonged to the same family they all exhibited different characteristics. This depended on the island they were found on and the diet they ate. This finding led Darwin to question the stability of species and the adaptability of each generation of bird.

The Galapagos Islands offer insight into a world like nothing you have ever seen before. Follow in the footsteps of Darwin and explore the breathtaking beauty and diversity of these islands. Captivating wildlife, stunning landscapes and a remarkable history, the Galapagos is waiting to be explored…

Resources: WHC, Galapagos.Org, La Pinta Galapagos Cruise, National Geographic, Earth Watch, Rainforest Cruises, Britannica, Nathab, Galapagos Islands

A celebration of sport and culture, Copa America is a competition that both unites and divides– when it comes to the score that is! Held every four years, Copa America is a much-anticipated event and an absolute must-see for any soccer fan. This tournament is timed perfectly with the conclusion of our escorted South American Small Group Tour. If you’d love to discover the best of this spectacular continent and witness some of the best soccer in the world, there’s no better time to experience Copa America…

History of the Competition

First held in 1916 to honour 100 years of independence in Argentina, the Copa America has become a mainstay in South American sport. Inclusive of 10 national teams, the tournament hosts Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. Additionally, every year since 1993, the event organisers have invited two international teams. Countries such as Japan, Haiti and Mexico have all completed in previous years to keep the competition lively!

2020 Competition

This year, Australia and Qatar are the lucky invitees. Since the tradition of inviting international countries began, no country outside South America has ever won the tournament. However, you never know– perhaps the Socceroos may be the first to upset this record…

Co-hosting the event this year are Colombia and Argentina. The competition will take place between the 12th June and 12th July. The Socceroos will play five games in Argentina, before (hopefully!) playing in the finals…

Copa America will be an important and challenging competition for the Socceroos. Their opening match is against Uruguay, the 15 time winners of the championship. They will also be facing Bolivia for the first time and competing against Argentina, to whom they have not won against since 1988!

Travel With Us

If you’re interested in witnessing this incredible competition, there’s only one way to do it! Explore the best of South America on our escorted South American Small Group Tour, which perfectly concludes the day before the first Australian game.

Showcasing the best of this breathtaking and fascinating continent, our South American Travel Specialist Gisel guides you from the historic city of Lima, to Urubamba and Machu Picchu. Explore the beautiful Cusco and spend three days discovering the incredible Iguazu Falls, before ending in Buenos Aires. From here, the Copa America is yours to follow! Australia’s first game is the following day, and from there are playing four more games.

See the best soccer and the best of South America with the South American Travel Specialists!

South America is a stunning and vast continent; home to a rich culture, breathtaking and varied landscapes and an enthralling history. With so much to see, it can be overwhelming planning a trip or even just deciding where to travel. Offering an insight into the wonders of South America is our 2020 South American Small Group Tour. Join Gisel Pacheco, senior consultant of the South American Travel Specialists, as she guides you through the highlights of Peru, Brazil and Argentina, all within the intimacy of a small group. Read on to find out more about our 2020 tour, and why it is the perfect way to experience the vibrant culture, cuisine and beauty of this continent.

Where

This tour encompasses the best of Peru, Brazil and Argentina, offering the chance to explore bustling metropolis’, historic ruins and natural wonders. The tour begins in Lima, the capital city of Peru. Over two days explore the UNESCO-listed Old Town, admire elegant Spanish architecture and indulge in delicious local cuisine. On the third day, fly to Urubamba, home to the Sacred Valley as well as the vibrant Pisac Market. Visit iconic sights such as Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu and experience traditional life in a Huilloc community.

Cusco introduces a fusion of the old and the new: visit Santa Domingo Convent, built upon the Inca Coricancha. A city with a rich Inca history, spend your time exploring fascinating and important sites such as Sacsayhuaman and Puka Pukara.

Afterwards, board a flight to the humbling and absolutely breathtaking Iguazu Falls. Discover a wild paradise; get up close and personal with the falls on a boat ride and explore the surrounding rainforest with specialised guides. Spend two nights at the falls, allowing you to soak up the beauty of this natural wonder.

Continue to the historic Buenos Aires, where you can wander through the historic neighbourhoods such as La Boca and Recoleta. Enjoy an evening in San Telmo, the birthplace of the tango. Spend your days sampling local foods and on your final evening, learn how to make traditional Argentinian empanadas and tea, known as Mate.

Finally, this tour encapsulates an array of experiences and the best of each region, offering the chance to explore the diverse and beautiful South America.

When

Departing late May, this tour takes advantage of the best times to travel in each country. As South America is a vast continent, the climate will change greatly depending on which country you are travelling to. With May one of the best times to explore all Brazil, Peru and Argentina, the timing of this tour could not be better…

Who

Gisel is a Senior Consultant and Product Manager of South American Travel Specialists. Born in Australia to Argentinian and Chilean parents, Gisel has a passion and love for everything South American. Furthermore, she has spent the last 20 years exploring areas all over South America, Mexico and Central America. With this small group tour, Gisel is sharing her passion for Peru, Brazil and Argentina, and given her natural enthusiasm, exuberance and knowledge, she is perfect to head this exciting tour that showcases the culture, cuisine, history and music of South America. So book now to join Gisel as seats are limited.

A popular stopover for many Antarctic cruises, the Falkland Islands offer a remote and spectacular travel experience. The islands, located 380km off the southern tip of South America, consist mainly of the East and West Falklands. Known for not only their incredible biodiverse ecosystem but their tumultuous past, there is much to discover on these islands. Read on to find out why the Falkland Islands should be on your bucket list and what you can’t miss when visiting…

Wildlife

Whether you are a birder, a whale watcher, both or neither, the Falkland Islands will have something for you! Watch killer whales, dolphins and South American Fur seals navigate the chilly waters, while Southern elephant seals lounge on the rocky shores.

A popular attraction of these islands is the penguins. Home to five species, including the Macaroni and the King penguin, you simply can’t miss seeing these fascinating creatures! If you’re keen to see the iconic King penguin, make sure to take a trip to Volunteer Point. This area is home to a large breeding colony as well as other species of penguin.

Stanley

Sometimes referred to as a “Little Britain”, Stanley, although small, is a unique and colourful town. Reminiscent of a quaint British town, Stanley is home to just 2,000 people. However, there is much to see! Be sure to visit the Christ Church Cathedral (the southernmost Anglican cathedral!) and the impressive whalebone arch outside it, constructed in 1933 from the jawbones of two blue whales. It is a testament not only to the British administration it commemorates but the sheer size and power of these beautiful animals.

History

With a long history dating back to the first confirmed sighting of the islands in 1600, the Falkland Islands have a tumultuous past. Argentina and Britain disputed the claim to the territory for many years. This tension culminated in 1982 with the Falklands War. Explore the island today and you will find evidence of this history wherever you look.

Visit the 1982 Liberation Memorial, commemorating those lost in the Falklands War, and venture further back in time at the Battle Memorial. The Stanley cemetery also offers a unique insight as it is the resting place of some of the first settlers of the island. The Historic Dockyard Museum encapsulates the fascinating history of the Falklands and is considered a must see when in Stanley. See recreations of shops, homes and buildings that once existed on the island. The museum also hosts maritime exhibitions and natural history displays.

The Falkland Islands have served as a resting place for many ships. This is due to their position near both Cape Horn and what is dubbed “the Roaring Forties” (the area of latitude where strong winds prevail). The Lady Elizabeth, declared unseaworthy after battling fierce weather in 1912 can be seen in Whalebone Cove. A fascinating look into the life of sailors and the conditions they faced, these wrecks hold many stories. Be sure to see the Protector and Jhelum shipwrecks if you’re interested in delving further into maritime history. Incredibly, the Jhelum was grounded in 1870 and parts of it can still be seen today…

Get Out of Town

Many visitors just explore the East Falklands. However, we recommend also exploring the stunning rugged landscape of the West Falklands. Enjoy discovering a network of walking trails along the shore, across the cliff tops or through the countryside. The west island is also home to three species of penguin, as well as the beautiful black-browed albatross. A great place to see these majestic birds is Pebble Island. For a taste of history, visit Saunders Island, the first British settlement in the Falklands.

The Falklands are a truly unique place, home to an abundance of wildlife and an incredible and at times turbulent past. Whether you visit this archipelago on a cruise or on a personally crafted itinerary, these islands are truly a must see.

Resources: Planetware, Lonely Planet, Oceanwide Expeditions, Viator, Aurora Expeditions, Waymarking, Last Frontiers, Falkland Islands, Britannica

A country that combines stunning natural beauty and an incredible history, Montenegro is a place that should be on every bucket list. Spend your days wandering through the winding lanes of historic towns, climb mountains with awe-inspiring views and explore islands and lakes. This week, we introduce you to some of our favourite Montenegro experiences…

Kotor

A medieval town from a time gone by, Kotor is an absolute must see. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, this historic town is home to the fascinating Kotor Old Town and Kotor Fortress. With evidence of fortification existing as early 168 BC, a visit to the fortress truly is a journey back in time. Climb the 1355 steps to the fortress and take in the incredible views at the top (and along the way!) In the Old Town itself, there is a story around every corner. Visit iconic sights such as St Tryphon’s Cathedral and Kampana Tower, or take a trip to Our Lady of the Rocks.

Once you’ve seen your share of historic sights, venture out onto the water! The Bay of Kotor is a breathtaking place and offers plenty to do. Explore the water on kayaks, paddleboards or enjoy a motorboat cruise. Furthermore, if you really want a bucket list experience, you can’t go past a visit to the Blue Cave! With iridescent blue waters and a dramatic cavernous roof, the Blue Cave is an otherworldly oasis.

Black Lake

A stunning glacial lake, the Black Lake is surrounded by pine forests and is one of the most popular attractions in Montenegro. Situated beneath the snowy peak of the Medjed mountain, enjoy walking along the water’s edge and taking in the beauty of the crystalline waters.

Bar

If you’re looking for the best of Montenegro, look no further than Bar. Visit the quaint King Nikola’s Palace, built in 1885, and Stari Bar, the historical ruins that began as a Roman settlement in the 4th century. For history of a different kind, be sure to visit Stara Maslina. Thought to be one of the oldest trees on the planet, this olive tree is over 2,000 years old and is an icon of the Balkans.

If your interest is truly in the natural wonders of Montenegro, be sure to also visit Lake Skadar. Only half an hour from Bar, the lake is truly a fairy-tale destination. It is even rumoured to be made from the tears of a pixie! Hike one of the many trails in the area, or explore the many coves and inlets kayaking or swimming.

Ostrog Monastery

Situated almost entirely in the cliff face, the Ostrog Monastery is a truly captivating sight. One of the three most visited Christian destinations in the world, the white monastery is a stark and radiant contrast again the jagged rocks surrounding it. Founded by St Basil in 1665, the complex originally consisted of a church, chapel and bedroom. Today, it is split into both a lower and upper monastery. A truly beautiful place, view 17th century frescoes and visit the stunning churches built into the cliff.

Lovcen National Park

Enjoy stunning views in Lovcen National Park where history, nature and culture converge. With something for everyone, there is plenty to see and do here. Discover some of the most diverse flora and fauna in the world whilst exploring the hiking and cycling trails. For the more adventurous, admire incredible views as you zip line down canyons or quad bike up hills. This park is also home to a monument dedicated to Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, an important Montenegrin figure. Situated on the second highest peak of the park, Jezerski Vrh, the mausoleum lies at the end of a 461-step climb. However, it is well worth the hike! The memorial has important cultural and historical significance, and you can admire the breathtaking views from atop the peak!

Perast

With 16 churches, 17 (once) grand palazzi and a population of less than 400, Perast is the quiet seaside escape you’ve been looking for. Explore its historic buildings and romantic villas, stroll along the waterfront or venture onto the open water. Perast is home to two islands, St George Island and Our Lady of the Rocks. If you didn’t get the chance to see the latter in Kotor, be sure you pay a visit here…

Montenegro is a charming country with plenty to offer. If you would like to find out more or start planning your trip, contact The Croatia Travel Specialists division today!

Resources: Chasing The Donkey, The Culture Trip, Two Wandering Soles, Time Travel Turtle, My Wanderlust, Learning to Breathe Abroad, My Wanderlust, Learning to Breathe Abroad, Visit Montenegro, Get By Bus, The Culture Trip

Situated in the Manyeleti Game Reserve, Tintswalo Safari Lodge is in an idyllic location between Sabi Sand and Timbavati, bordering on the Kruger National Park. One of our favourite game viewing destinations in South Africa, read on to find out what makes this safari lodge so special…

Accommodation

A secluded oasis hidden in the bushveld, Tintswalo Safari Lodge is home to seven large luxury suites. Each suite boasts exquisite colonial style, transporting you back to the time of the 18th century explorers– all whilst retaining modern comforts. Enjoy admiring the sunrise from your own personal deck, or relaxing after a long game drive in the plunge pool.

A raised wooden pathway connects the suites to the main lodge, where guests can enjoy boma dinners and peruse the library’s collection of rare books. Spend nights gathered around the fireplace sharing stories of the day’s safaris– there’s no better way to end a day….

Indulge

An integral part of the safari experience is the sharing of stories, and for many, stories are often told over food. One of the highlights of staying at this incredible lodge is the gourmet food, and the stunning variety on offer. Always prepared from fresh ingredients, enjoy plated breakfasts, brunches and spade breakfasts in the bush. Upon return to the lodge, enjoy exquisite meals such as private dinners, English high teas and meals at the boma.

Furthermore, the Tintswalo Bushwillow Spa offers the opportunity to fully unwind in the peaceful environment of the African bush. Based on traditional practices, the spa offers a range of luxurious massages, indulgent facials and wellness packages. An hour or two spent at the Bushwillow Spa is the perfect way to finish a long day on safari…

Safaris

Located on the unfenced Manyeleti Game Reserve, between three other parks, Tintswalo Safari Lodge is situated in a prime game viewing area. Those hoping to see the Big 5 may just be in luck, with all five residing in the reserve. The area is also home to wild dog, cheetah and more than 500 bird species.

Guides at TIntswalo have been carefully selected for their passion, knowledge and personality. Although game drives may be several hours, the guides are known for being able to make the hours fly by.

The Tintswalo trackers all come from local communities, many of which are Shangaan. On game drives, they will often share stories of their communities’ traditions and folklore. Furthermore, they are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to the animals they are tracking, often using spoor and subtle signs of animal movement.

 

Experiences

Tintswalo offers a range of experiences beyond morning and evening game drives. The Manyeleti Game Reserve is known for its intricate network of walking trails, which are fantastic for walking safaris. Explore the sycamore groves and sprawling savannah more intimately, having the opportunity to sight some of the smaller animals that reside here.

The lodge also offers a range of excursions. For animal lovers, a visit to the Hoedspruit Cheetah Research Project centre makes for the perfect afternoon activity. Learn about cheetahs and other endangered species, and the current breeding program. Alternatively, visit the Moholoholo rehabilitation centre or a local elephant centre. If you’re looking to enjoy some hustle and bustle, enjoy a tour of Hoedspruit and its restaurants and shops. Or finally, see the Manyeleti reserve from above on a hot air ballooning flight over the bushveld at sunrise.

Tintswalo Safari Lodge offers a luxury escape to a remote and exclusive part of Greater Kruger National Park. Offering an all-inclusive getaway, this lodge is one of the best examples of safari accommodation in South Africa. Perfect for families, couples and solo travellers, Timbavati crafts a unique, luxurious adventure you will never forget…

Resources: Tintswalo, Booking.com, African Budget Safaris

Picture crystal clear waters lapping gently at white sand shores and lush green palm trees swaying in the wind. Imagine diving into azure waters and swimming with green sea turtles. Discover the lush paradise that is Akumal, Mexico. Read on to discover why this town has something for everyone, from beaches to wildlife to incredible history…

 

Water Sports

Akumal boasts some truly stunning beaches. Whether your idea of a day well spent is relaxing on the beach with a cocktail in hand or getting out on the water, there’s something for you! Explore the open water on a sailboat, or explore the hidden underwater beauty of the reefs on a dive. Akumal Beach is famous for its green sea turtles and in general for its spectacular array of sea life, so be sure not to miss your chance to discover some truly breathtaking sights!

 

Cenotes

The Yucatan Peninsula is famous for its cenotes and Akumal is no exception. Formed from the limestone rock collapsing and revealing a cavern below, cenotes are perfect for swimming and exploring. Some of our favourites near Akumal include Cenote Jardin del Eden and Azul, as well as Cristalino and Santa Cruz. Furthermore, snorkelling equipment is often available for hire, allowing you to discover the most of these underwater paradises. Our South American Travel Specialists recommend arriving early or late in the day to avoid the crowds, and wearing biodegradable sunscreen to avoid harming the environment.

 

History

If you thought Akumal was just sun, sand and swimming, well we have a 700-year-old surprise for you! In between your day trips to cenotes and beaches, make sure you add a trip to the 13th century Tulum Ruins to your list. Enclosed by an enormous 784-metre wall on all sides, the site features the remains of a castle. Today, it remains unknown what happened to the people who once lived here.

For an even further journey back in time, you can’t miss the Coba Mayan Ruins. An ancient Mayan city settled in the 1st century and peaking between 600 and 900 AD, it is thought to have been home to over 50,000 inhabitants. Climb the breathtaking Nohoch Mul Pyramid and stroll through the Coba Group, which includes two ball courts and a church. After all that exploring, cool off in the nearby cenotes– is there any better way to end an adventure to an ancient jungle city?

 

Nature

Aktun Chen

Combining the beauty of the Yucatan Peninsula and a host of different action activities, Aktun Chen is an adventure park you can’t pass by. It is best known for its mesmerising underground river and cave. Snorkel amongst tiny fish and also walk with tiny white-tipped deer, as you navigate between giant stalactites and stalagmites. Above ground, enjoy activities such as zip lining through the rainforest. If you’re only in Akumal for a short time, this is a great way to see and experience a variety of things!

Yal-ku Lagoon

Situated north of Akumal Beach, this lagoon is a network of mangroves, small islands and coves. Protected from the rough water of the ocean, Yal-ku Lagoon is ideal for snorkelling and is home to a vibrant array of sea life. Furthermore, it is the perfect place to bring the family, with shallow waters and good facilities. Enjoy spending the afternoon chasing colourful fish and relaxing in the shade of the leafy jungle afterwards.

A truly stunning place, Akumal cannot be missed! If you have limited time and are looking for a taste of everything, this really is the place for you…