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Travellers’ Good Buys Compiled By John Rozentals

August 19, 2017 Travel Deals No Comments Email Email

The annual Hawai’i Island Festival of Birds, to be held on September 15-17, includes guided bird-watching field trips along the island’s newly created birding trail, guided boat trips departing from Honokohau Harbor to observe seabirds, and an all-day bird fair on the Saturday at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay.

The 90-mile Hawai’i Island Birding Trail provides a cross-island link from Kona to Hilo that connects diverse habitats from ocean to mountain top, and rainforest to lava plains.

Locating and observing birds is, of course, the main event on the trail, but discovering the island’s unique plants and trees, geology, history and scenic viewpoints are also emphasised.

Visit birdfesthawaii.org.

 Club Cuba … a Vilnius bunker turned popular dance spot.

Vilnius, capital of the Baltic State of Lithuania, invites guests to dance, drink and sleep in some of the many former air-raid shelters and bunkers that were built in the city during the Cold War.

While the majority of shelters remain abandoned, many of them have been reimagined as museums, hotels, bars, nightclubs or gyms.

There are several possibilities for visitors, including staying in a hotel that features a spa, games room and VIP suite.

Alaus Namai is a former bunker that is now a bar serving traditional Lithuanian brews, while Club Cuba has become a popular dance spot with authentic doors to the secret hiding room having been integrated into the decor.

One of the most impressive bunkers — the ‘KGB Bunker’ — was built under a factory and is now a museum with a large collection of KGB spy technology.

To find out more about Soviet heritage tours in Lithuania, visit www.vilniusinlove.com.

 

 Gabon … its waterways make a huge diversity of wildlife accessible.

There are few paths that remain untrodden, but look beyond the restrictions of land and you’ll discover a seemingly endless network of river routes snaking through the wildest reaches on earth.

Wild and untameable waterways tumble from mountains, carve out canyons, flow through jungles and forests before spilling into the ocean in places such as Gabon, Madagascar and Papua New Guinea.

Secret Compass explores many of these, opening up uncharted courses for intrepid guests and offering a new perspective for those with a paddle in hand.

Gabon, for instance, straddles the equator and its tropical jungles, in places such as Ivindo National Park, are home to an abundance of forest elephants, bull elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees, colobus, mandrills, bush pigs, giant pangolins and over 400 types of bird.

Visit www.secretcompass.com.

 Pangolin Khwai Camp … designed around the needs of photographers and safari enthusiasts.

Pangolin Photo Safaris has teamed up with Natural Selection to open the Pangolin Khwai Camp in Botswana’s 200,000-hectare Khwai Private Reserve.

Pangolin will be designing the guest experience around the needs of modern-day photographers and safari enthusiasts, with a maximum of 12 guests using the services of three game viewers. The reserve allows for off-roading at special sightings, as well as night drives.

Each of the game-viewing vehicles will be adapted for photographers, with bean bag mounts, and be limited to a maximum of four clients.

The Pangolin Khwai Camp will host clients from March next year, with high-season all-inclusive rates at about $750 per person.

Visit www.pangolinphoto.com.

 True North … heading for a luxurious trip around Papua New Guinea.

Latitude 33 has chartered the luxurious small-ship True North for its 13-night ‘Sepik Warriors’ expedition to Papua New Guinea in 2019.

The ship sails the east coast of the country through the Solomon Sea exploring the idyllic Fergusson, Trobriand and Lusancay Islands. Then passengers will continue north to be immersed in local land, culture and wildlife while visiting Jacquinot Bay, New Britain, and Long Island before reaching the longest river in Paua New Guinea — the Sepik River.

Prices start at $23,761 per person twin-share, including a 10-night cruise, two nights at Niramaya Villas & Spa in Port Douglas, return air fares to Cairns, charter flight to PNG, transfers within 60 kilometres of Australian capitals, use of six expedition boats, and all activities, ending with a night at the Shangri-La in Cairns.

Phone 1300 636 848 or visit www.latitude33.travel.

 Balloons aplenty over the Avon Valley for the National Ballooning Championships from September 2-9.

The skies above the West Australian town of Northam and the surrounding Avon Valley will be adorned with 30 beautiful-hot air balloons for the National Ballooning Championships from September 2-9.

Public festivities commence on September 2 at 4pm with the Northam Balloon Fiesta and visually stunning Balloon Glow, after dark at the Henry Street Oval.

Fiesta will include a live stage show, balloon-discovery zone, carnival rides, game zone, markets, food and drinks, and show bags. The competition balloons will fire up with musical accompaniment and a fireworks finale.

Balloons will launch at around sunrise each morning and fly until approximately 9am.

Another highlight is the key-grab competition on September 9. Pilots fly from point to point, collecting foam ‘keys’ from the end of 10-metre poles in several locations.

Visit www.northamnationals.com.

Broome’s coastline … end of a rewarding overland adventure.

Intrepid Travel has released a spring deal offering savings on its Perth-to-Broome overland adventure for select September departures.

The 10-day safari tracks north along the wildly beautiful West Australian coastline, taking in some of the world’s most remote beaches set against a backdrop of rugged outback terrain.

Rates of from $1525 per person twin-share include savings of $270 for departures on September 9, 16, 23 and 30.

Among the attractions that travellers will visit are Ningaloo Reef Marine Park, which is famous for its snorkelling and visits by whale sharks, dolphins and whales, and Monkey Mia at Shark Bay Marine Park, where they will have the chance to swim with dolphins.

There’s also sandboarding on the dunes at Jurien Bay, a discovery of ancient desert sculptures — the Pinnacles — in Nambung National Park and four-wheel drive adventures on deserted beaches and through the Outback.

Included are three nights camping, four nights in a hostel and two nights at a safari camp, all meals, sandboarding, transport in an all-terrain vehicle with expert guide, and National Parks entry.

Visit www.intrepidtravel.com.au.

 Wanderlust … Canberra’s annual ‘mindfulness triathlon’.

Canberra offers plenty of reasons this spring, apart from the world-renowned Floriade flower festival, to embrace the national capital.

Three rugby league World Cup games will be played —France v Lebanon October 29, Australia v France on November 3, and Fiji v Italy on November 10.

And there’s also a rugby union Test between Australia and Argentina at Canberra Stadium on September 16.

Getting up close and personal with Australia’s friendly natural wildlife at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is another option.

The city’s “mindfulness triathlon”, Wanderlust, returns on October 21, with participants engaging in three activities — running, yoga and meditation — all set against the stunning backdrop of Lake Burley Griffin.

Visit www.visitcanberra.com.au.

 Falls Creek Country Club apartments … direct access to the snow-covered slopes.

After significant August snowfalls, the Victorian ski resort of Falls Creek reports excellent conditions for skiers and boarders, with all ski lifts operating.

From August 27, families can stay in a standard, well located, self-contained apartment from $91 per person per night and also benefit from a 20 per cent discount on equipment hire.

The apartment can accommodate up to eight guests but for about $15 per person extra, upgrades are available to a three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms, a separate toilet and an outside balcony offering views of the ski lifts and snow-covered slopes

A feature of Falls Creek Country Club apartments is driveway access on arrival in Falls Creek, free access to a heated pool, spa and sauna, free wi-fi and an on-site restaurant.

Phone 03 5758 3391 or visit www.fallscreekcountryclub.com.au.

 The Blue Mountains … a wild, stunningly beautiful environment.

Great Walks of Australia has expanded its portfolio by including Auswalk’s ‘Blue Mountains Grand Traverse’.

The Blue Mountains walk offers a fully supported opportunity to explore this important natural environment, only 90 minutes from Sydney and featuring stunning cliffs, canyon rainforests and waterfalls in a UNESCO World Heritage area.

It’s a new three-day walking experience priced at $1595 per person twin-share, including transport to and from Sydney, and two nights accommodation at Echoes.

Walks take in the Grand Canyon, Ruined Castle and Valley of the Waters, as well as famous viewpoints such as those of Govetts Leap, the Three Sisters, Wentworth and Katoomba Falls.

Visit www.greatwalksofaustralia.com.au.

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