Category: News

AfricaNews

Helping Protect Kenya’s Elephants & 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 organisations come in to play, and you’ll visit them during our small group 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 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 get to 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 organisations 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-colored 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 center, 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 center’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 center 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 school children – 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.

InspirationNewsTravel Tips

Which Wonder of the World is right for you?

Are you sitting there wondering where to go next? We understand – that’s how we’ve spent our entire lives.

There is something so exciting about being on the brink of your next adventure. So, if you’re looking for some inspiration, take our quick quiz to figure out which Wonder of the World you should visit next.

1.In your past life you were:

  • A) A queen
  • B) A sports star
  • C) A nomadic trader
  • D) A drunk architect

2. Your idea of a fun night out is:

  • A) Shimmying the night away with a group of bellydancers
  • B) Drinking giant margaritas
  • C) Star gazing in the desert
  • D) Drinking wine in the village square

3. You like shopping for:

  • A) Leather slippers
  • B) Mexican wrestling masks
  • C) Spices
  • D) Hand painted crockery

4. Your favourite food is:

  • A) Ful medames – a hearty concoction of beans, pastas and spices
  • B) Fish tacos made with proper guacamole (no sour cream)
  • C) Mansaf – slow cooked rice served with saffron rice and yoghurt sauce
  • D) Pizza, pasta, gelato, risotto, arancini, antipasto… and that’s just to start

5. Your favourite place to relax is:

  • A) By the river
  • B) At a white sand beach with crystal clear water
  • C) Next to an inland sea
  • D) In the mountains

6. You describe yourself as:

  • A) Ancient and glorious
  • B) Solid and a bit gory
  • C) Majestic and fort-like
  • D) Wonky but classical

7. If you were a wonder of the world, you would want to be:

  • A) The oldest
  • B) The coolest
  • C) The most impressive
  • D) The weirdest

8. If you were a building, you would be:

  • A) Built to withstand the test of time
  • B) Full of secret passages
  • C) Sophisticated
  • D) Unique

9. If you could put a price on yourself, you would be:

  • A) Cheap and cheerful
  • B) Affordable and great value
  • C) Pricey but princely
  • D) Top of the range

10. If you were an animal, you would be:

  • A) A cat
  • B) A frog
  • C) A camel
  • D) A bird

If you answered mostly As

You need to visit The Great Pyramid of Giza. Cruise along the Nile, explore souks and cities, taste the local cuisine (and then walk it all off as you wander around ancient ruins).

If you answered mostly Bs

You’re headed to Chichen Itza in Mexico. Located on the Yucatan Peninsula, home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and cenotes (sunken swimming holes), this region combines ancient Mayan temples with super fun bars and beaches.

If you answered mostly Cs

You’re off to the Lost City of Petra. There is nothing more exotic than heading off into the desert aboard a camel. The good news is that Jordan is also home to delicious food, great swimming, snorkelling and diving, and surprisingly sophisticated ancient architecture.

If you answered mostly Ds

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is calling you, mi amico. Check out this architectural catastrophe while you enjoy la dolce vita. Dinner starts with aperitivo at 5pm and ends with gelato at midnight. Take your stretchy pants!

Want to book your next Wonder-filled trip? Click here and check out our amazing 20 per cent off Wonders of the World sale.

AfricaMediterraneanNews

10 Unmissable Egyptian Experiences

Tour like an Egyptian! Here are 10 extraordinary things you can only do in the land of the Pharoahs.

1.Exotic breakfast foods

Say goodbye to boring cereal and hello to foul medame, one of the most delicious breakfast foods on earth. Made from cooked broad beans, this traditional dish is usually served alongside boiled eggs, fresh pita bread, falafel, a side salad of tomatoes and cucumbers, and a feta-like cheese called mish. The beauty of this meal is that it’s low-GI and packed with nutrients so it will give you loads of energy for the day ahead.

2. Bellydancing

Egypt is home to Raqs Sharqi, otherwise known as traditional Arabic folk dancing. While many people are familiar with the glitzier performance style popular in restaurants in Cairo, there is also a strong culture of what’s called a baladi; a group dance that is central to Arabic celebrations such as weddings.

3. Swimming, snorkelling and diving

The warm waters of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea are home to teeming marine life, making them among the top scuba diving sites in the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a diver – there’s plenty to see with a snorkel. The Red Sea is renowned for its high salt concentration (approximately 35 per cent saltier than most seas) which makes it extremely easy to float. Many people claim the mineral content in the water is good for rheumatism and arthritis – bonus!

4. Cruise the Nile

The Nile is the longest river in the world, with the northernmost section flowing through Egypt and into the Mediterranean. Cruise through the fertile delta of the Nile Valley and witness the birthplace of Egyptian civilisation. The rich alluvial soils and plentiful water in this area allowed people to grow crops and settle in one place, signalling a critical shift from a nomadic lifestyle to an agricultural society.

5. Temples

Egypt has a temple for everything. In true Indiana Jones fashion, you can tiptoe through some seriously ancient architecture. Make sure you head to the temple complex of Karnak, the Temple of Edfu – devoted to Horus, the falcon-headed god of war – and the Greco-Roman Temple of Kom Ombo.

6. Haggle at the markets

Head to a market and test out your haggling skills. In amongst souvenirs, the real gems are jalabeyas, traditional dress-like garments worn by both men and women. The women’s versions come in a range of colours with embroidery and beading. Stock up on comfy leather slippers, woven Bedouin blankets, boxes inlaid with geometric patterns and silver jewellery.

7. Visit the Pyramids of Giza

The last remaining wonder of the ancient world, the three pyramids at Giza were built by three Pharaohs approximately 4500 years ago. Scientists still can’t be sure how they built them (and alien conspiracists think that there was intergalactic intervention) but one thing you can be sure of is that they are big. The largest pyramid is147 metres high and is made from 2.3 million stone blocks, each weighing between 2.5 and 15 tonnes.

8. Visit the Valley of the Kings, Luxor

Home to the tomb of Tutankhamun, this archaeological site contains 63 known tombs and chambers. While many of the treasures were looted in the 18th Century, the hieroglyphics depicting Egyptian funeral rites remain.

9. Check out the Egyptian Museum, Cairo

You’ve seen the temples and tombs; now get a good look at the items that were found in them. Enjoyed an air-conditioned stroll past some serious antiques including gold jewellery, eating bowls, mummies, toys and Tutankhamun’s treasures.

10. Visit White Desert National Park
If you prefer your monuments nature-made, White Desert National Park’s chalk columns and quartz and fossil-littered valleys are sure to inspire awe. Home to the famous Crystal Mountain – a monolith made from quartz – this desert is unlike any other with its ghostly chalk outcrops.

Want a tour that captures all of the above and more? Check out Gate 1 Travel’s new 12 Day Classic Egypt with 7 Day Nile Cruise here. Also you can save $100 per person on your booking when you quote promo code EGYPT2019 by the 31st of March, 2019.

News

Italy’s North: A Cornucopia for Food Lovers

If you think Tuscany has the last word on Italian cuisine, think again. The nation’s less-visited regions to the north—Lombardy, Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna—boast their own bounty of mouthwatering, fresh-from-the-earth specialties. Journey with us on our Cinque Terre, Parma, Bologna & Lakes small group tour and you can sample them to your heart’s—and your appetite’s—content.

Lake Maggiore straddles Italy’s Lombardy and Piedmont provinces. Ringed by alpine vistas, the country’s second largest lake enjoys a mild climate that is ideal for Mediterranean gardens that yield abundant crops. This comes as no surprise when you learn that many of Europe’s standard agricultural policies were formulated in 1958 in Stresa, the charming town situated on the lakeshore and your home for two nights.

Throughout your stay, one of the region’s most significant sources of food is spread out before your very eyes: Lake Maggiore itself. People have been living off its bounty for generations, and nowhere is this more pronounced than on Isola dei Pescatori, or Fisherman’s Island, the tiny island that is named after the vocation of its inhabitants. Here, the lake still provides. Fishermen still head out each day and deliver their catch to local restaurants. And restaurants still serve some of the freshest fish you will likely taste. It is a joy not only to sample simple yet special dishes for lunch here, but to witness a culture that seems to have been lost to the passage of time.

A bit farther west, the expansive farmlands and vineyards of Piedmont gently roll toward Switzerland to the north and France to the west. It took the rest of the world a while to catch up with this agrarian-focused region: it has been living the “slow food” movement for decades. This is the land of rice, vineyards and cattle. Water-soaked rice fields here might make you think you’ve stepped into an Asian nation but make no mistake. This is the stuff of risotto, Italy’s creamy and heavenly dish. The area’s farms also produce some of the finest cuts of beef, perfect for the boiled-meat dishes, bollito misto and vitello tonato.

Piedmont is also renowned as one of Italy greatest wine-growing regions, with more than half of its vineyard registered with a DOC designation. The legendary Nebbiolo grape is native to Piedmont and is said to be named for that which makes it so unique: Nebbia means “fog” in English and during harvest season a thick mist settles over the Langhe region where the grapes are grown. Famously, the Nebbiolo grape produces the revered Barolo wine. Cherasco, La Morra, Barbaresco, and Neive are also made here—each coming from an eponymous town.

In your small group, you have the chance to linger in local cellars to learn how some coveted wines are made. But none will be so impressive as one of the “cathedral cellars” of Canelli, birthplace of Italy’s famed sparkling wine, Asti. These cellars were designed to hold millions of fermenting bottles and are so central to the local culture that they are being considered for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

Nearby in the region of Emilia-Romagna, one of Italy’s richest gastronomies flavors everyday life. Pasta dishes take center stage here and roll off the tongue as easily as they slide down the gullet: tortellini, lasagna, tagliatelle, garganelli, strozzapreti. In Modena and Reggio Emilia, the world’s finest balsamic vinegar is made to the strictest procedures bound by law. The beloved specialty is made from grape must and the most exquisite bottles are aged for 25 years or more. There is no more succulent way to enjoy it than with two other specialties of the area: Parmesan cheese from Parma and prosciutto from a local farm, which you will have the chance to do.

The center of Emilia-Romagna’s food scene is Bologna, the region’s capital. One visit and you will know one thing for certain: The Bolognesi people know how to eat. Aside from its vibrant arts and music scene—the city was the European Capital of Culture in 2000 and was named a UNESCO City of Music in 2006—its citizens enormously benefit from their city’s location in the fertile Po River Valley. Bolognese sauce was invented here and the custard-like torta di riso is a favorite way to end any meal. You can browse the fresh ingredients of one of Europe’s most celebrated cuisines at the Quadrilatero, Bologna’s oldest food market. Traditional shops abound here. As you explore you will be regaled with stories from the market’s rich history and culture and sample a delicious array of specialties. Among them, savor small plates known as cicchetti, the Venetian answer to Spanish tapas.

Of course, one cannot wrap up a foodie tour of northern Italy without sipping its famous sweet wine, prosecco. Though this lovely wine originated in its namesake village outside Trieste on the Slovenian border, it is enjoyed throughout northern Italy, either on its own or as part of a spritz cocktail. We’ll be sure you raise a glass of it as we toast the culinary treasures you’ve enjoyed during our new Cinque Terre, Parma, Bologna & Lakes tour!

Take a Companion for 50% Off any Italy or Spain escorted tour when you book by the 19th of February, 2019. Simply quote the promo code FBVAL19A at the time of booking to apply the discount to the tour.

News

Gaudi & Dali: Spain’s Modern Masters

Among the many pleasures of visiting Spain, art lovers especially revel in the ability to witness a millennium’s worth of the world’s greatest masterpieces. Two masters stand out—famed modernista Antoni Gaudi and surrealist Salvador Dali. The former was an architect and the latter a painter, and their work seems dissimilar at a glance. But Gaudi’s influence on Dali, and the fact that both created work that shattered conventional ideas of what art could be, link them in art history as Spain’s rebellious artists.

Gaudi: The Singular Saint

Gaudi was part of the modernistas, Catalan modernists who believed art played two roles: to defy bourgeois conformity and to create change in society. Gaudi created works that elevated the influence of nature in the man-made, reflected his faith, and resist rules of symmetry and restraint that had previously defined “good taste.”

Born in 1852, he studied architecture but never managed to impress his teachers. He had the last laugh, as he designed the otherworldly Sagrada Familia Cathedral (a work still in progress!), the vividly tiled Parc Guell, countless mansions, and even the ornate signature streetlamps of Barcelona. Seven of his creations are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Unfortunately, his face was not as easily recognized as his buildings. In 1926, after he was struck by a streetcar, he was mistaken for a beggar and couldn’t convince a taxi to take him to the hospital. When a policeman finally removed him from the scene, he was left at the pauper’s ward, and his friends couldn’t find him until the next day. But as a display of solidarity with the poor, he refused to be moved to better conditions.

He died there a few days later, and the outpouring of grief was profound: it was reported that half of Barcelona’s citizenry donned black and took to the streets on the day of his funeral.

Dali: The Surreal View

Salvador Dali was born a half-century after Gaudi, and by the time he was studying art, the influence of the modernistas was waning. Expelled from art school, he threw himself into experimenting with cubism and dadaism, and met kindred spirits in Miro and Picasso. It was in Surrealism, a movement which revived and reframed the values of the modernistas, that he found his visual language.

With the melting clocks of his most famous work, “The Persistence of Memory,” he put surrealism on the global map, joining the pantheon of Spanish masters. He was exhibited in Paris and New York and beyond, and held a special affinity for the US: The artist lived in the states during World War II, worked on a scene for Albert Hitchcock, and even appeared in a US film commercial.

His time away from his native Spain allowed him to escape controversy at home. Dali was a staunch supporter of fascist leader General Francisco Franco, who he said brought “clarity, truth and order” to Spain. Despite the limited success of his paintings in the final decades of his life, he was indeed seen as one of the most important artists of the century.

A few years before he died, Dali was asked to write the foreword to a biography of Gaudi. In doing so, he paid tribute not only to his predecessor but to his own work, and he wasn’t a bit modest in his assessment. He wrote, “Gaudi is a genius; so am I.”

Learn more about these fascinating artists during our new France & Spain: History, Culture & Wine small group trip.

EuropeNewsRiver Cruising

Five of the best Christmas Markets in the World

The closest most Aussies have come to a white Christmas is buying ice for the Esky. That’s why the thought of a twinkly, snow-covered Christmas is like something from a fairytale. The good news is that many of the world’s best Christmas markets are included in November and December touring itineraries making them super easy to access.

Here are five the of the best Christmas markets in the world:

1. Nuremberg, Germany
Aldi shoppers will have probably noticed that Germans are big into Christmas. No other nation has quite so many kinds of Christmas biscuit.

Nuremberg – the second largest city in Bavaria – is home to two Christmas markets that run alongside each other in the medieval old town (Aldstadt). They are the Christmas market of the baby Jesus and the Christmas market of the child that features lots of rides and photo opportunities with Santa. This market is also the home of pyrography (the art of decorating wood with markings from a hot poker) and bricolage (a form of mixed media craft).

2. Salzburg, Austria
If you read lots of Northern European fiction as a child, you have probably wondered what a hot roasted chestnut smells likes. Now you can find out at one of the many Christmas markets held around Salzburg. Shop for toys, Christmas decorations and knitwear, enjoy the smell of baked apples, hot punch and roasted almonds and chestnuts, and listen the bells of the Cathedral or carollers on the church steps.

3. Prague, Czech Republic – Old Town
The Czech Republic does a lot of things well – namely Pilsner beers – but the locals also excel at Christmas fare. And let’s face it – wandering around in the snow is a lot more fun with a mulled wine, honey wine, hot chocolate or ‘grog’ – a mixture of rum, water, lemon and sugar – in your mittens. Popular food on offer includes large hams roasted on spits (Pražská Šunka), sausages (klobása), Hungarian flatbread topped with garlic, cheese and ketchup (langoš), pancakes (pala
inky), and a variety of sweets and cakes, such as spicy gingerbread and ‘Trdelník’, a hot sugar coated pastry.

4. Strasbourg, France
The Christmas markets in Strasbourg – arguably the Christmas capital of France – date back to the 16th Century. The centrepiece of this famous market is a whopping great tree that is a tourist attraction in itself. Why? Because it’s one of the few real Christmas trees of its size. A forestry representative starts searching for this special tree in March every year. Come December, the 30 metre tree is craned into position and wrapped in seven kilometres of Christmas lights.

5. Helsinki, Finland
Everyone who thinks Santa lives at the North Pole are wrong – he lives in Finland. The Finnish capital of Helsinki puts on a great show for its annual Christmas markets and also hosts a number of wacky celebrations such as Tiernapojat, a uniquely Finnish ritual where boys dress up as soldiers and kings and run around the streets singing. The good news? If you get really cold outside, you can always head back to your sauna to defrost.

If you’d love to experience a white Christmas in Europe Gate 1 Travel can take you there. Click here to find out more about our Christmas Markets escorted tours or learn more about our Christmas Markets River Cruise here.

Click here to find out how you can save up to $700 per person on our 2019 Christmas Tours & Cruises!

MediterraneanNews

Israel’s Astonishing Natural Beauty

When you think of Israel, a vast treasure trove of historic and religious sights undoubtedly comes to mind. But this small country is home to some of the world’s most stunning natural beauty, the likes of which you won’t see anywhere else.

Here, quiet villages are tucked away in fertile valleys. Mountains rise from plains and rocky cliffs soar to the heavens. Starkly beautiful deserts are dotted with Bedouin tents. And serene lakes stretch out like small seas. Throughout Discovery Tours’ Israel, Ancient & Modern Culture trip, you can witness this magnificence firsthand.

The Road to Galilee

The rocky terrain of Galilee seems to stretch into eternity. Dappled in wide swathes of green and soaring to summits of up to 3,800 feet, it’s a breathtaking canvas adorned with streams and flower-laden fields. The climate of this fertile region supports a large variety of flora and wildlife. The Hula Valley Nature Reserve especially thrives with life, including many birds that stop here to rest from their migration between Africa and cooler climates to the north. In one of nature’s most spectacular displays, tens of thousands of cranes pass through here as they make their way from Finland to Ethiopia every winter.

In the west of Galilee on the Mediterranean Coast, white chalk cliffs spill into the sea. Over millennia, the crashing surf has carved a network of spectacular grottoes dimly lit by the sparkle of azure waters. These Rosh HaNikra caves, Hebrew for “head of the grottoes,” are a mysterious and magical place, a maze of subterranean passageways untouched by humankind for ages until divers began exploring them. Today, a cable car lowers you to the grotto entrance, and it is well worth a visit.

From sea level to mountaintop, Mount Bental rises in the eastern region of the Golan Heights. In Arabic, it is sometimes known as the “Mountain of Lust,” so it might not surprise you that it was once an active volcano. Now dormant—as are the other peaks of this mountain chain—it provides incredible views of the Golan Heights and the surrounding region. The volcanic soils have made this a fertile pocket of Israel. Farming communities, kibbutzim, and wineries dot the landscape, and Discovery Tours visits one of them—the delightfully welcoming Golan Heights Winery—to sample some of the local vintages.

The tranquil Sea of Galilee is the focal point of this beautiful region. Contrary to its name, it is a freshwater lake fed by underground springs and by the Jordan River from the north. Aside from its beauty, it has a lot to boast about. It is Israel’s largest and the world’s lowest freshwater lake. What’s more, it is the site of several miracles of Jesus. He is said to have walked on these fabled waters, and to have transformed five loaves and fishes into a feast for thousands here on these shores.

A Sea Full of Salt and a Massive Mesa

Unlike the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea is very much full of salt. So much salt, in fact, that it is impossible to sink in its waters. This is the lowest point of land on earth—1,315 feet below sea. This fascinating body of water is more than nine times as salty as the ocean, creating an environment that cannot support animals, hence its name.

But it is a geographic curiosity for a host of other reasons. With the Jordan River its only significant source of water and with no outlet, tiny springs have formed underneath its shore, resulting in pools and quicksand pits. Further, with so much salt and relatively little water, intriguingly shaped salt deposits form on the shores as water evaporates, from thick multi-layered blankets to tiny pearl-like pebbles, all of them sculpted over millennia. If you’re not completely smitten with the geology of the Dead Sea, then its buoyancy is sure to put a smile on your face. Merely step in, lie back, and relax to enjoy nature’s only flotation device.

Nearby, a giant rocky plateau rises from the Judean Desert. This is Masada, and its magnificent setting helped to shape history. So commanding are the views from atop this mesa—some of its cliffs are 1,300 feet high—Herod the Great built his fortress here just a few decades before Christ. Who can blame him? The vistas of the Dead Sea and the Negev Desert are spectacular. But not everything was serene and beautiful in Herod’s day. When the Roman Empire attacked at the end of the first Jewish-Roman War, 960 Jewish rebels are said to have thrown themselves off the cliffs rather than surrender to Rome.

We invite you to surrender to the natural beauty and irresistible allure of Israel.

Find out more about our Israel trips here 

AfricaAsia & PacificEuropeLatin AmericaMediterranean

9 of the Best New Tours for 2019

Are you working on your travel wish list for 2019? Dreaming of sleeping in a riad in Morocco or knocking back a schnapps in the Swiss alps? Learning Salsa in Colombia or surprising your friends by heading off to Uzbekistan?

So where to go and what to do?

Check out our new tours visiting hot destinations:

1. Italy and Croatia

Quote lines from Gladiator at The Colosseum in Rome, taste local wines in Tuscany, Florence, Venice and Pisa, and head off Croatia to bask in the azure beauty of the Adriatic sea.

Did you know that Marco Polo was born on the Croatian island of Korcula? Visit his birthplace, explore ‘King’s Landing’ aka Dubrovnik just in time for the last season of Game of Thrones, and take in the natural beauty of the famed blue cascades in Krka National Park.

More info about the 17 Day Italy & Croatia with 7 Day Adriatic Cruise here.

Split_Croatia

2. Costa Rica

Do you know the way to San Jose? Not to be confused with San Jose in Northern California that The Carpenters sang out, San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and is a perfectly preserved Spanish Colonial town.

From this starting point, head out to an artisan village to learn about local art and craft, visit a dormant conical volcano, knock back some Costa Rican coffee on a plantation tour and put your head in the clouds at Monteverde Clouds Forest.

More info about the 14 Day Kaleidoscope of Costa Rica here.

Costa Rica

3. Colombia

Apart from having some of the most beautiful people and pumping salsa clubs in the world, Colombia is also one of South America’s undiscovered treasures.

Eat an empanada while you wander around Cartagena’s Colonial District, marvel at pre-Columbian gold at the Gold Museum, and view Fernando Botero’s famous paintings and sculptures.

More info about the 8 Day Affordable Colombia here.

4. Morocco

Enjoy a home-cooked meal in Fez, make like Bogey and Bacall in Casablanca, and wander through Chefchaouen, Morocca’s famous Blue City.

Connect with your nomadic spirit when you traverse the desert along an old caravan route, and marvel at the acrobats, performers, and snake charmers in Marrakesh’s Djemaa el Fna Square.

More info about the 18 Day Absolute Morocco here.

Sahara, Morocco

5. Switzerland and the Rhine River Cruise

The vantage point from a river or canal gives you a totally different aspect on a country. Glide under 14th Century medieval bridges in Lucerne, pass castles and cobbled streets straight out of fairytales, and enjoy a tipple in a quaint wine tavern in Rüdesheim. See the tiny storybook Principality of Liechtenstein from the bow of your ship and hop off for a close-up look at Marc Chagall’s stained glass window in the Fraumunster Church in Zurich.

More info about the 17 Day Classic Switzerland with Rhine River Cruise here.

6. Southern Italy, Puglia and Campania

Get off the beaten track by heading for the heel of the boot. This is the lesser known part of Italy is the birthplace of pizza and the home of Pompeii. Enjoy long farmhouse lunches, stroll through UNESCO Heritage-listed cobblestone streets and visit medieval ruins. Round out your trip with a visit to the Amalfi coastline for a look at one of the world’s most loved views.

More info about the 11 Day Southern Italy, Puglia & Campania here.

7. Central Europe

There is nowhere hotter than Central Europe for small group touring. With a burgeoning cafe culture and bohemian art scene, the Czech Republic is the place to hang out. On the flipside, take in Slovakia’s perfectly preserved town centres, castles and convents for a glimpse back in time at 13th century life.

More info about the Heart of Central Europe Discovery small group tour here.

prague-night

8. Uzbekistan

Did you know that the oldest copy of the Koran in the world is held in Tashkent’s Muyi Muborak Madrasa? Visit this historic marvel before you head off down the Silk Road to explore the cultural treasures of this little known corner of the world. Learn how to make a traditional Pilav when you share dinner with a local family, relax in a yurt camp in the desert and take your credit card on an adventure at the ancient Siab Market.

More info about the Uzbekistan Discovery small group tour here.

9. Turkey

Wander through the back streets of Istanbul tasting regional specialities like stretchy icecream made from orchid roots, look up in awe at the dome of the Blue Mosque, and master the art of shopping in the Grand Bazaar. For a change of pace, spend a day cruising around Fethiye’s 12 Islands, explore an ancient underground city at Kaymakli and explore traditional Turkish Ottoman houses in Safranbolu on the coast of the Black Sea.

More info about Turkish Odyssey small group tour here.

And the best thing? People who book any of the above 2019 tours by 2nd December and quote the promo code CNNEW2019A to receive a $300 discount per person.

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And the Facebook Winner is…

Gate 1 Travel Australia Facebook fans would have seen our competition recently to Get Packing with Gate 1.

The happy winner of the Antler Suitcase Set is Donna B. from Queensland.

Thanks to everyone who entered and signed up to The Deal, Gate 1’s weekly travel email.

If you’d love the chance to get more info about Gate 1, enjoy seeing travel inspiration, like sharing your travel experiences, want to enter fun competitions and more, follow Gate 1 Travel Australia today!

Photo thanks to La Hoang, taken in Jordan.

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Getting off the Elephant’s Back

Over recent months, Gate 1 Travel has undertaken an extensive review of our activities that include animal encounters, with particular focus on elephant riding and sanctuary visits.

We have done everything possible to ensure that the elephants and other animals that our travellers interact with are treated ethically, and we strive for experiences which are fulfilling for both the animals and tourists. However, the fact remains that for elephants, being ridden or performing tricks is not natural behaviour. It’s nearly impossible to guarantee that there has not been mistreatment during their training or that the animals were not illegally captured. On top of this is a disturbing increase in the number of attractions in Asia claiming to be sanctuaries, rescue centres or retirement camps, but sadly some of these facilities practice the same abusive training methods and deprivation that has lead to the tourism industry mounting a campaign against animal cruelty.

In consideration of these continued concerns and feedback received from our travellers, Gate 1 has decided to withdraw from our itineraries any sites and experiences with elephants, other than those encountered in the wild.

We hope you will join us in helping to protect elephants and supporting animal welfare.

Photo thanks to @davelaura