Month: June 2019

Picture of baby elephant - Kenya
AfricaInspiration

Helping Protect Kenya’s Elephants and Giraffes

The unspoiled savannahs of Kenya are renowned as an untamed wilderness. Left unchecked, nature would take its course and species would thrive and falter as they may. But many animals are vulnerable to human interference such as poaching, loss of habitat due to human encroachment, deforestation and drought. These all threaten populations—and nature’s balance—leaving newborns as orphans and herds at risk. That’s where two remarkable organizations come in to play, and you’ll visit them in a small group during our Kenya Safari Exploration.

Nurturing Orphans Back into the Wild

It is not uncommon for the passionate and caring staff of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT) to encounter baby elephants alone in the bush. In many cases, they have wandered from their families, victims of poaching; the little calves have been spared because they have not yet developed ivory tusks. To aid these helpless creatures, the DSWT developed the Orphans’ Project, the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world.

The adorable little elephants are brought to the Trust’s farm-like clinic, fed a steady diet, and taught skills by the staff that they will never learn from their mothers and aunts, all while being eased out of the trauma of loss. It is a remarkable thing to witness as these miniature beasts bond with staff, following them wherever they go.

Since its founding, DSWT has successfully reared many dozens of elephants and reintegrated them into the wild. In fact, many wild-born calves are reared in the wild by elephants that were nurtured back to health at the clinic, a hopeful note that the work they do has fostered entire generations.

Elephants are not the only focus of DSWT. Black Rhinos, also prized for their tusks, are also raised at the clinic. The Trust’s efforts also include anti-poaching initiatives, protecting the natural environment, raising community awareness, animal welfare and veterinary services to wild animals. Founded in 1977, it is one of the pioneering wildlife conservation organizations in East Africa.

Saving a Threatened Giraffe

Nearby, the Giraffe Centre, part of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, has similar goals to support the preservation of the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe. It is thought that just several hundred of these majestic creatures remain in the wild, and you just might spot some during your game drives at Lake Nakuru National Park, distinguishable by their creamier-coloured coat and the “white stockings” above their hooves. Curiously, the Rothschild’s is also the only species to have five ossicones on its head, the stubby antler-like horns. (Most other species only have two.)

Founded in 1979 as a breeding centre, the Giraffe Centre today also serves an educational role for Kenyan youth. Their vision is to create a harmonious relationship between man and nature by raising awareness in the next generation. This is no small task considering the vast natural resources and wildlife that Kenya hosts. But all of the centre’s programs are offered to schoolchildren free of charge, so we can hope that this brings greater access and with it much success.

The focal point of the centre is the giraffe feeding platform, a raised structure that lets you meet these gentle giants at their level. Inside, an auditorium offers talks to guests. And it is all charmingly decorated with artwork created by local schoolchildren – inspired by the giraffes, of course!

The small group size of our Kenya Safari Exploration lets us experience these remarkable places at their fullest. We hope you’ll visit them with us.

Landscape view of Mount Rushmore
InspirationUSA & Canada

It’s All Here. Cultural Treasures, Remarkable History, Jaw-Dropping Beauty

It’s all here in the United States. From the magnificent sweep of their national parks to bustling cultural centres, from coastal beauty to southern charm, Gate 1 pulls the curtain back on this remarkable country that you only thought you knew, all at a value that you never thought possible. 

The full roster of our itineraries in the U.S. is here. But we hope you’ll take a few minutes to read more about our favourite corners of this great nation below.

North by Northeast: Rich Histories and Seductive Charms

We’ll begin where the U.S. began. You’ve long heard about the birth of the nation and the gently rolling hills outside Boston, Massachusetts, that were the stage of the American Revolution. It’s quite a moving experience to witness firsthand the historic places that carry echoes of pre- and post-colonial days. It all comes startlingly to life in New England, particularly at the first settlement at Plymouth Rock. 

Of course, Boston was the hub of it all. Legendary sites like the Old North Church, Beacon Hill, and the Boston Commons—the oldest public park in the country—take you back to inspiring moments in history. There’s more inspiration in Hyannis on Cape Cod, lined with beautiful sandy beaches and home of the Kennedy Compound, witness to so much national pride and tragedy. Massachusetts also nurtured some world-renowned literary and artistic talents. One stands apart at the Norman Rockwell Museum, where you will gain incredible insight into the life of a man whose work has stood the test of time. 

Those lovely rolling hills of Massachusetts rise into dramatic mountains in Vermont and New Hampshire. Traversing these stunningly beautiful states—much of them protected U.S. Forest Land—you’ll pause to explore charming, steepled New England villages and admire sweeping vistas of granite cliffs and hills blanketed in evergreen.

There’s more northern beauty along the legendary lakes that surround Michigan. This truly is one of the undiscovered corners of the U.S. But Michiganders are in the know about the tranquil beauty here, from inviting shores lined with Victorian gems and green forests to the charming Bavarian village of Frankenmuth. Major moments in history have also played out here: Detroit’s Henry Ford Museum chronicles the achievements of American inventors and Fort Mackinac was erected by the British to fend off the new colonists during the American Revolution.

The South: Grace and Vitality

The American South is a virtual gumbo of history, culture and beauty. Antebellum charms, pretty green parks, and trees dripping with Spanish moss line the streets in Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. These inviting and very walkable cities are home to some of the country’s most treasured Greek Revival, Revolutionary Era, and plantation mansions. It’s easy to imagine sipping a mint julep on any of the sprawling porches of these gracious cities. Nearby, St. Augustine, Florida holds the torch as the country’s oldest city. Straddling the Matanzas River near its mouth, it was founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1565, more than two centuries before independence.

For a completely different southern experience, you can visit New Orleans, where life is lived slowly and strains of jazz echo on the bayou. Home of Bourbon Street and the annual Mardi Gras festival, New Orleans’ French Quarter is one of the most captivating musical centres in the country—a place to let your hair down and join in the fun. But the state of Louisiana has much more in store. You can take time to explore its rich history in its fascinating museums; take in the blend of Spanish, French, Creole and Cajun cultures in Baton Rouge; and witness the natural beauty of the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest River Swamp in the U.S. 

There’s music to be danced to, as well, in Tennessee. For country and rock music lovers, the state is home to revered pilgrimage sites. In Nashville, you can visit the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame. In Memphis, music clubs lure you in with twangs and strums spilling onto the famous Beale Street. And, of course, no visit here should bypass Graceland, the palatial home of Elvis Presley. Another musical legend, BB King, is memorialized at his namesake museum in the Mississippi Delta.

Our National Parks: Magnificence Preserved

West of the Mississippi, the plains open up to some of the grandest vistas in the country. Symbols of the grand American ideal, many are protected as American Parkland.

Perhaps one of the most interesting parks, South Dakota’s Mt. Rushmore is more known for its man-made wonder than its natural ones. For many visitors, its quartet of presidential sculptures carved into the granite cliffs of the Black Hills serves as an altar to democracy. In Wyoming, endless grassland and soaring peaks set the stage for the drama of Yellowstone. Its countless hot springs, massive mountain faces, and towering waterfalls are truly stunning, but the “Old Faithful” geyser steals the show. Not to be outdone, the Grand Teton massif, with its distinctive and spectacular craggy range, is a humbling testament to the West’s natural beauty.

In Arizona and Utah, fissures in the earth have carved out breathtaking natural wonders. Almost 280 miles long and up to 18 miles wide, the Grand Canyon is the great American icon. Though the colossal chasm was sculpted over millennia, it is celebrating its 100th anniversary as a national park in 2019. It was February 26, 1919, when Woodrow Wilson signed the Grand Canyon National Park Act. In Utah’s Bryce Canyon, conical-shaped rock formations stand like sentries among pine-dotted hillsides. And at Zion National Park, red sandstone canyons are kissed by cascading waterfalls, flowing rivers and vivid desert colours. Though it is nowhere near the size of the Grand Canyon, it’s been said that its beauty far surpasses that of its larger cousin.

More startling earthen colours and stunning rock formations grace the landscapes of Canyonlands National Park. Ascend to its 1,500-foot mesa to marvel at red-rock vistas, including the legendary Mesa Arch. Many more of these astonishing natural sculptures – the densest concentration in the world – greet you in Arches National Park. In Colorado, you can get a glimpse of how ancient peoples lived amidst such ruggedly beautiful terrain at the Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, home to 5,000 known archaeological sites.

Farther north, you might answer the call of the wild in Alaska. Mt. McKinley watches over an untouched wilderness in Denali National Park. This is a pristine world of magnificent panoramas cut by babbling streams and salmon-rich rivers. A deluxe train journey and a tour of the tundra highlight it all. Incredible scenery is everywhere in Alaska; even our transfer days take the breath away! And no trip here would be complete without seeing its impressive glaciers. Kenai Fjords National Park and its 300-square-mile Harding Ice Field are one of the best spots to witness them as they calve into the icy waters. You can watch from a safe distance during a spectacular cruise among soaring, snow-capped peaks.  Alaska also offers visitors the opportunity to search the skies for the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), among the most spectacular phenomena on earth.

The West: Glittering Cities Amidst Natural Beauty

Picture of Couple at Napa Valley

The western U.S. has a lot more to offer than its national parks. California, especially, is home to beautiful cities that enjoy magnificent settings. To be sure, the hills of San Francisco, its situation on its famous bay, and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge make for one of the most breathtaking skylines in the world. Exploring the city—with its bustling Union Square and Ghirardelli Square—and the vineyards to the north—with their inviting wineries and galleries—is pure pleasure. 

The star of California’s coast is the “17 Mile Drive.” Widely called one of the most scenic panoramas in the world, this road follows the jagged Big Sur coast to the Del Monte Forest. Sweeping vistas unfold around every corner, from crashing surf on rocky shores to multi-million-dollar homes hugging hillsides. And of course, one cannot visit northern California without laying eyes on its towering redwoods, which you can do during visits to Redwood National Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Long heralded as one of the most magnificent corners of the U.S., the Pacific Northwest offers an enriching blend of natural beauty and rich culture. If you want to get a sense of how much Oregonians love and respect the wilderness that surrounds them, just consider that Portland ranks high on the list of the most “green and livable” cities in the world. From here, an exploration of the Columbia River Gorge, an 80-mile-long twisting river canyon fed by plummeting waterfalls, takes the breath away. The lush, rugged Oregon coast and Crater National Park punctuate the state’s unrivalled natural diversity.

An entirely different landscape mesmerizes all who visit New Mexico, where starkly beautiful desert vistas have long inspired artists and craftspeople for generations. Glimpse the old Pueblo ways in Albuquerque at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the Bandelier Monument, one of North America’s oldest settlements. In Taos, explore the streets of Taos Pueblo, a typical ancient village preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And get to know the life and works of the region’s most famous artist, Georgia O’Keefe, at her home known as Ghost Ranch and at Santa Fe’s renowned museum named for her.

Gate 1’s U.S. Escorted Tours: The Ultimate in Convenience and Value 

Here’s the real beauty of seeing this magnificent country on a Gate 1 Escorted Tour: We take care of everything for you. This saves you countless hours of planning—arranging airfare and car rental, researching sites to visit and making sure you have driving directions, hoping you’ve picked a decent restaurant for your meals. Plus, you’ll gain insight and learn more about your destination than you ever would on your own, thanks to the expert knowledge of our tour managers. Simply put, the only thing you have to worry about is enjoying yourself and taking in our country’s glorious sites.

What’s more, our buying power with hotels and other travel providers ensures you the lowest possible price for your overall trip. In fact, if you were to try to duplicate any one of our trips on your own, you would end up paying far more. 

Convenience and ease … the unmatched value of our buying power … magnificent and awe-inspiring destinations … a comprehensive trip made all the more fascinating by our expert tour managers. If you’re planning to explore your own country, then a Gate 1 Escorted Tour is your ticket to a trip unlike any other. Join us!