Satellite Tags Reveal Surprising Whale Shark Movements

In 2015 guests on-board the adventure-cruise ship TRUE NORTH teamed-up with marine researchers from Conservation International and started to deploy fin-mounted satellite tags on whale sharks encountered during the ship’s Whale Sharks of Cenderwasih Bay itinerary. And the results have proved to be quite surprising.

Each year the revered TRUE NORTH visits biodiverse Cenderwasih which lies adjacent to the spectacular Raja Ampat islands in West Papua and, everybody on-board gets a chance to swim with the ‘resident’ population of whale sharks. These encounters are quite different to more typical whale shark encounters because the sharks have formed a unique relationship with the local fisherman and, they are easily approached.

Their docile behaviour has allowed biologists to fix fin-mounted tags – a more durable type of satellite tag and, the tags have been providing unexpected data about where the sharks travel when they are not in swimming in the bay.

Conservation International’s Mark Erdmann reports “Perhaps the most surprising finding has been just how differently each of the tagged sharks has behaved. We expected to see some generalized tracks of migration but in reality each shark has largely done its own thing!”

One of the sharks has been a bit of a homebody only leaving Cenderawasih Bay once in 25 months, whilst one of the smallest sharks to be tagged – a 3 metre individual known as “Fijubeca”, has clocked-up an impressive 9000 kilometres during a similar period. The 6 metre “Moby” has recorded the deepest dive getting down to 1856 metres in the Mariana Trench whilst similar sized “Cheggers” has spent most of his time close to the surface. “Wally” has preferred to spend his time close to shore whilst other individuals have completed impressive oceanic swims.

Importantly, the satellite data has highlighted several regions of West Papua that are frequented by migrating whale sharks and, those areas are now being considered for inclusion in Indonesia’s marine park system.

The TRUE NORTH returns to Cenderawasih Bay in October and it is hoped that more sharks will be added to the tagging program.

FAST FACTS

  • True North Adventure Cruises has won a plethora of awards for excellence including state and national tourism awards, export awards and numerous consumer awards.
  • Australia’s premier luxury adventure-cruise ship, the TRUE NORTH is purpose-built to sail deep into the heart of the wilderness, visiting areas that larger ships cannot access. Guests are privy to very-high quality off-ship experiences courtesy of the ship’s biologist and a team of naturalists, a ship’s helicopter and six dedicated adventure boats.
  • Exceptional food and wine are also at the heart of a TRUE NORTH experience. The ship’s modern Australian cuisine is supplemented with locally sourced ingredients and complemented by an outstanding selection of Western Australian wines. Cabins are spacious and modern; there is a panoramic lower deck dining room, an alfresco bar, an observation lounge and a dedicated sports deck.
  • Daily activities include scenic walks, fishing, snorkelling, diving, picnics, cultural events and spectacular flights in the ship’s helicopter.
  • Destinations include the Kimberley – a panorama of rugged mountains, spectacular gorges and majestic waterfalls; the still-wild coast of Western Australia featuring the intriguing Abrolhos Islands, world-famous Ningaloo Reef, fishing paradise at the Montebello Islands and, the pristine Rowley Shoals; some of Indonesia’s most stunning volcanic islands including Komodo – home to the largest lizard on the planet; the breathtaking islands of the Raja Ampat; the whale sharks of Cenderawasih Bay; the mighty Sepik River and the un-spoilt islands of Papua New Guinea; beautiful Sydney Harbour and, a seafood safari around South Australia’s delightful Eyre Peninsular!

For more information go to www.truenorth.com.au

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INTREPID’S NEW NORTH AMERICAN PROGRAM IS CANADIAN AND COOL

In response to growing demand for the Great White North, Intrepid Travel is launching new trips to Canada as part of its 2018 North America program, which offers more than 34 unique itineraries from Chicago to Calgary including the first dedicated tour of Vancouver Island.

Winter trips are also on Intrepid’s 2018 hot-list, with three brand new trips into the North American winter added to the range.

Highlights of Intrepid’s 2018 North American program include:

A new six-day Highlights of Vancouver Island trip which combines with the popular Canadian Rockies for the ultimate Canadian adventure. Priced from $1320* per person twin share, the new tour takes guests to Victoria, Tofino – a mecca for surfing and whale watching – and bustling harbour town and foodie haven Nanaimo.

To take advantage of the lack of crowds and the beauty of the North in the winter, Intrepid has added new departures in the off season including December and January departures for its Canadian Rockies and Northern Lights tour. Encompassing the best of Canada from Lake Louise to Calgary, Jasper and Banff, the 11-day trip starts from $4760* per person twin share.

Meanwhile travellers on the new 12-day US and Canada Discovery Winter trip will experience the magic of a white Christmas with New York’s skyscrapers dusted in snow, ice skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, a snowshoe hike in Vermont and depending on the departure, the chance to experience a Christmas market in Chicago, ice hockey in Toronto, Winterlude in Ottawa or Montreal en Lumiere.

“With its pristine wilderness and friendly people, Canada has always been popular, but the ‘Justin Trudeau effect’ has made Canada even cooler this year. These new trips let travellers experience the magic of a North American winter like a true local,” said Brett Mitchell, Intrepid Travel’s Regional Director Asia Pacific.

While Canada has seen sales on popular trips increase by more than 150 per cent in the past year, Intrepid has seen a 20 per cent decrease in bookings to the United States since January 2017, with the country sliding down the hot list almost immediately after Trump’s inauguration.

Intrepid Travel recently announced that it would double its carbon offsetting on all trips to the United States, in response to President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. This increased commitment to supporting sustainable tourism in the United States includes the new range of 2018 trips.

“North America has a huge diversity of landscapes, people and opinions. Intrepid travellers want to rediscover different sides of Canada and the States. We believe it’s more important than ever for tourism to play its part in conserving the environment for future generations,” said Mitchell.

For more information or to book visit: www.intrepidtravel.com.au

*subject to availability, conditions apply

Top Ten Alternative Travel Destinations for 2018

Lightfoot Travel, a leading luxury tour operator specialising in designing holidays for families, honeymoons and corporate travel, introduces its top ten alternative travel destinations to inspire avid travellers in 2018.

Mongolia

There’s no stopping Mongolia in 2017 with the opening of a new state-of-the-art airport, new roads being built across the countryside as well as big hotel groups entering the market. Visit now to experience culture previously untouched by ‘Westernisation’ eg. Eagle Hunters combined with vast landscapes and still in its infant stages of tourism. An Adventure Through Mongolia is a great option for the more off-the-beaten track family holiday.

Iran

Since international sanctions were lifted, it has become one of the hottest travel tickets in town. One of the most culturally rich and colourful countries in the world, Iran is an open-air museum brimming with architectural wonders and bustling bazaars, rural mountain villages and dramatic, unexpected landscapes at every turn. The 9-day Classic Iran itinerary will certainly appeal to those looking for a completely unique destination experience.

Tibet

Tibet is very much a place that should be visited sooner rather than later. It is a staggeringly beautiful region with dramatic landscapes, centuries-old sacred sites and wonderful people. Discover the Lhasa and the surrounding areas with The Highlights of Tibet itinerary to truly immerse in the spectacular scenery, Tibetan culture and history.

Cuba

Whether one’s mind conjures images of powdery Caribbean beaches, cigars or the old-world charm of Havana, there’s no doubt that Cuba is an evocative place. Historically complicated, culturally rich and surprising at every turn, Cuba is a country of an endless interest provided you jump in with both feet. Explore Havana, Trinidad and Vinales Valley with the Classic Cuba.

Fiji

With direct flights now operating from Singapore and Hong Kong via Fiji Airways, this archipelago is the perfect option for a tropical island escape. Combined with the warm hospitality of the Fijians, pure white sand, sparkling clear waters, balmy breezes and bright sun, Fiji satisfies the needs of both families and honeymooners with an abundance of resorts ranging from over water villas, private islands and secret hideaways. Comprised of over 300 islands, Island Hopping in Fiji is perfect for experiencing the country.

Colombia

This South American country shot to fame last year thanks to an addiction to Narcos and Netflix, and is on everyone’s list to visit this year. Blessed with sublime beauty and staggeringly diverse topography, Colombia has emerged from years of civil strife to become one of South America’s ‘must see’ destinations. The Classic Colombia 10-day itinerary takes in the sights, sounds and smells of Colombia’s finest attractions.

Croatia

One of the hottest beach spots in Europe, combining Medieval history with the glorious beaches reminiscent of the Mediterranean. You won’t be short of places to stay as 50 new hotels and resorts will open in 2017. For blissful Mediterranean holiday surrounded by sapphire waters and ancient towns, Highlights of Croatia offers a perfect mix of beach and culture experiences for travellers.

Rwanda

Despite its painful past, Rwanda has come a long way to become one of the most stable and welcoming countries in eastern Africa. There are less than 800 mountain gorillas left in the wild and Rwanda is one of the best places in Africa to see the animals. Join the 4-day Gorilla Tracking Rwanda itinerary to learn about the history of Rwanda and come face to face with some of the endangered Mountain Gorillas in Volcanoes National Park.

Jordan

As travellers look to discover more during their holidays and see lands far removed from their own, Jordan has quickly risen to the top of people’s travel lists due to its compact nature. From

being transported back in time whilst exploring the lost city of Petra to the white sands of the Red Sea coast, travellers can go from traversing the Wadi Rum by camel to luxuriating in the Dead Sea in a matter of days with the Highlights of Jordan 5-day itinerary.

Ethiopia

With its magnificent architecture, enchanting culture and dramatic scenery, Ethiopia is one of the most rewarding, diverse and unknown travel destinations in Africa. With tourism still being quite a new concept, an adventure in Ethiopia is an opportunity to discover the secrets of a nation less travelled and is far from short of astonishing experiences. For travellers who are keen to visit the ancient city and relive the history, they can choose The Churches of North Ethiopia and for those interested in nature, wildlife and tribes can opt for The Lakes and Forests of Southern Ethiopia.

Local Vendors sell fruit and baked goods on the side of the street in Cartagena Colombia

For more information, please visit www.lightfoottravel.com

AFRICAN WILDERNESS ADVENTURES Inspiring Itineraries for Discerning Travellers

 

Hong Kong based boutique travel agency Charlotte Travel launches three new exclusive Africa itineraries exploring this fascinating continent, offering exciting journeys for travellers to discover the African wildlife, its unique culture and extraordinary scenery. From colonial architecture to safaris, iconic red dunes to national parks, Charlotte Travel creates authentic travel experiences and unforgettable journeys for all its clients.A leading, family-run travel company headed by the mother and daughter team of Jackie and Charlotte Harris, Charlotte Travel prides itself on providing exceptional personal service. With a team of experienced Travel Advisors, Charlotte Travel leverages their solid reputation and close relationships in the global travel industry to craft tailor-made experiences that match the specific needs and desires of each traveller.

Botswana Exploration – Great Wilderness Journey

On this journey, travellers will visit the world-famous Victoria Falls and cruise down the Chobe River in search of elephant herds. Guests will also explore one of the most sought after wilderness destinations in the world, the Okavango Delta, which gives entrance to the spectacle of wild Africa such as the heart-stopping excitement of big game viewing, the peacefulness of an untouched delta, and evocative scenes of natural beauty. Beginning at HKD95,500 per person, the 11-day package is inclusive of all internal road transfers, charter flights, laundry service and alcoholic beverages.

Diverse Namibia

This adventure begins with the magnificent soaring red dunes of Sossusvlei followed by a “Dolphin and Seal” Catamaran Cruise from Walvis Bay to explore the ice-blue Atlantic coast. The journey continues to Damaraland, where guests will encounter the world’s largest concentration of black rhinos before moving onto the Ongava Game Reserve of Etosha – the highest density wildlife area in Namibia, for a guided game drive to see the Big Five and rare species such as the black-faced impala, Hartmann’s mountain zebra or the smallest antelope in the world, the Damara dikdik.

Iconic African Safaris – Kenya, Zambia & Zimbabwe

Charlotte Travel has assembled the best selection of safari experiences in this iconic 9-night itinerary, featuring game drives in the Masai Mara great plains of Kenya, where guests can marvel at the Great Wildebeest Migration. The journey then continues to the Mosi-oa-tunya National Park in Zambia for encounters of impala, giraffe, white rhino and buffalo. Complete the adventure with a visit to Zimbabwe’s iconic Hwange

National Park – a diverse habitat for desert and woodland species as well as first-class predators including lion, cheetah, leopard and spotted hyaena.

Partnering with luxury safari lodges and camps throughout the journey, guests can experience excellent services and hospitality at the Little Governors’ Camp, Hemingways Hotel, Toka Leya and Linkwasha Camp. Charlotte Travel also organises VIP packages, ensuring a spectacular once in a lifetime experience of Africa away from the tourist crowds.

All journeys are inclusive of a professional guide, accommodation, road transportation and National Park fees. For reservations, please email info@charlottetravel.com.hk

See the Glamour of Greece, One Island at a Time

With picture-perfect scenery, its warm welcoming climate and rich cultural traditions, it’s little wonder Greece is a favourite island destination.

The country boasts over 6,000 islands and islets scattered across the Aegean and Ionian Seas, over 220 of which are inhabited, spread across eight groupings.

With so many islands to choose from, tour specialist Europe Holidays (www.europeholidays.com.au)recommends starting with two of the most well-loved and well-known islands – Santorini and Mykonos – as the basis for exploring Greek life. Even amidst the hustle and bustle of these two glamorous islands popular with the jet-setting crowd, there are secluded beaches, quiet towns and architectural gems to discover.

Europe Holiday’s Managing Director, Chip Popescu, says Santorini and Mykonos embody the beauty of the Greek islands.

“Santorini is sometimes called the ‘supermodel’, or most beautiful Greek island, while Mykonos is portrayed as the ‘glamour’ island,” says Popescu.

“Greek islands are more than just playgrounds for the rich and famous. The reality is they are both beautiful and full of beautiful people, but there is so much more to these two jewels in the crown.

“Without much effort, it is possible to get away from the throngs, and see the true local traditions come to life. And what better way to see these islands than by the trademark of Greek summer, via the ferries plying its waterways.”

 

Santorini

Resting in the middle of the beautiful Aegean, Santorini covers the vast crater left by one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in history.

Actually a group of islands, Santorini has an intriguing past with the fascinating Minoan site of Akrotiri and the gorgeous traditional hilltop village of Oia just two of its highlights.

Simply beautiful, Santorini will take your breath away with its multi-coloured cliffs soaring over a sea-drowned caldera, as well as colourful and white Cycladic houses lining the cliff tops.

On the main island of Thira, the main town is ‘Fira’. The cultural and commercial hub, Fira is a highly photogenic town, with cobbled streets and a range of retailers, restaurants, cafes and bars.

Santorini’s beaches are iconic, uniquely influenced by the island’s volcanic past. Some of the best include:

  • Red Beach: 12 kilometres southwest of Fira, Red Beach acquired its name due to its black and red pebbles, and hot water. It’s one of Santorini’s most famous beaches.

Southeast of Fira:

  • Kamari Beach: Nestled at the base of the northern side of the impressive mountain, Mesa Vouno, the cosmopolitan Kamari beach has a popular beach promenade along its black sand, and offers a variety of water sports and diving.
  • Perissa and Perivolos: Located on the southern side of Mesa Vouno, collectively the two beaches are the longest on the island, with Perivolos the more upmarket of the two.

Northeast of Fira

  • Koloumbo Beach: one of the most isolated and unspoilt beaches on Santorini, Koloumbo has fine black pebbles and a striking rock overhang at one end. There are no provisions available at the beach, so visitors need to bring everything they need with them from nearby Oia.

MykonosWith a long and colourful history dating back to 5,000 BC, Mykonos casts a spell on visitors from the moment they arrive, with its beautiful white buildings that glow in the sunlight, narrow marbled streets, hidden churches and windmills watching over the city. It’s also renowned for its extraordinary sandy beaches and buzzing nightlife.

A premier destination in its own right, it also serves as a stepping stone to the ancient site of Delos, famous for its antiquities and history.

Mykonos offers something for every kind of travellers. Its lively waterfront is home to fleets of fishing villages, as well as a wide range of water sports, including diving, sailing and windsurfing. It’s also appreciated for its gastronomical delights, stunning scenery, culture and history and partying.

From the main city of Hora as a base, there are a range of beaches, including the party-styled Paradise Beach, the family-friendly beaches of Ornos and Psarou, and the more secluded and serene northern coast beaches such as Ayia, Anna and others.

Fast facts
Peak time to visit is from April – November.

Europe Holidays Greek Island Hopping tour
Europe Holidays offers a 8 day/7 night Greek Ferry tour from Athens – Santorini – Mykonos back to Athens from $995 per person twin share.

https://www.europeholidays.com.au/index.php/island-hopping-cruises/island-hopping/greece/item/115-athens-santorini-mykonos-athens

The package includes 3 nights’ accommodation in Athens, 2 nights’ accommodation in Santorini and 2 nights’ accommodation in Mykonos, 7 breakfasts, transfers, and ferry tickets from Piraeus – Santorini, Santorini – Mykonos and Mykonos – Piraeus.

Gold Coast Is Meeting Hot Spot

A long lunch at Miami Marketta, drinks at Palazzo Versace and a day out at Polo By the Sea – these are some of the Gold Coast gems that will help entice meeting planners to choose the city for industry get-togethers.

A record-breaking 56 decision makers from fields ranging from childcare and fitness, to medical and construction, have descended for the latest This is Gold Coast Business Exchange to tour the city’s unique venues and meet specialist suppliers.

Each year, conferences, exhibitions and trade shows inject more than $565 million annually into the local economy. As an added boost, the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will leave a legacy of prestige sites suitable for hosting thousands of delegates from around the world.

“Every part of This is Gold Coast Business Exchange is designed to deliver the Gold Coast wow factor and leave no doubt that we’re the best choice for business events in Australia,” says Anna Case, director of Gold Coast Business Events.

“Seeing first-hand the venues, sampling our cuisine and seeing our specialist suppliers create world-class events leaves meeting planners with the ideas and connections to create an unforgettable event.”

The 2017 This is Gold Coast Business Exchange is Commonwealth Games themed, and will include a performance and speech by Olympic gymnast Brennon Dowrick at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday.

Delegates will meet with representatives from 50 venues, from the city’s new sporting arenas to its top-end hotels, as well as specialist suppliers at the trade show until Saturday 27 May.

This is Gold Coast Business Exchange is expected to generate more than $18 million in leads for future conferences and meetings in the city.

https://www.destinationgoldcoast.com/

Escape to Tahiti Like a Rock Star

Tahiti Tourisme is offering Australian travellers the chance to relax like a rock star or take time out like a talk show host with a series of star-studded holiday packages now on sale.

Proving it’s the world’s pre-eminent island destination, some of the most famous people on the planet have chosen The Islands of Tahiti as their ultimate getaway in recent weeks.

Once owned by Marlon Brando, The Brando – an exclusive eco-resort on Tetiaroa – has been a playground for celebrities on “spring break”, hosting a former president and talk show host on its idyllic shores.

A rock star and Oscar-winning actor have also taken advantage of the privacy of a luxury yacht to sail around the Society Islands, anchoring in the crystal clear lagoon of island paradise Huahine.

Meanwhile one of the music industry’s most iconic couples took time out from their busy schedules to enjoy a babymoon at a Bora Bora resort.

Tahiti Tourisme Director Australia New Zealand Robert Thompson said the Islands of Tahiti had always been popular with celebrities as it offered the chance to truly get away.

 

“The Islands of Tahiti are world-renowned for their picture-perfect lagoons and palm-fringed beaches but what some visitors enjoy most is the destination’s exclusivity and privacy,” Mr Thompson said.

“Privacy is the ultimate luxury and it comes naturally in The Islands of Tahiti, which offer all visitors the freedom and space to truly relax in their own private haven.”

Tahiti Tourisme is inviting holidaymakers to experience the Islands of Tahiti like a VIP with a range of great packages:

  • Indulge in a babymoon like a pop star with a seven-night package including five nights in an overwater bungalow at the Intercontinental Bora Bora Thalasso Resort, return economy flights with Air Tahiti Nui from Australia and transfers throughout including inter-island flights, from $5799* per person twin share.

 

  • Sail around the Society Islands like a movie star onboard the 24-passenger luxury small ship Island Escape, which offers the ultimate comfort as guests explore coves and islands that are inaccessible to larger ships. Prices start from $7199* per person twin share including the seven-night cruise, two nights at Manava Suite Resort Tahiti, return economy flights with Air Tahiti Nui from Australia, transfers throughout and inter-island flights.

 

  • Escape like some of the most famous couples in the world with a five-night package including three nights in a luxurious private beachfront villa at the Brando on Tetiaroa, two nights at Intercontinental Tahiti Resort, return economy flights with Air Tahiti Nui from Australia and transfers throughout including inter-island flights, from $8799* per person twin share. The all-inclusive resort offers all meals, beverages, excursions and a spa treatment.

For more information or to book visit www.tahititravel.com.au

AVANI Quy Nhon Resort & Spa Paves the Way to Rarely Seen Ancient Champa Kingdom Sites

Peppering the hillsides and valleys around the city of Quy Nhon in central Vietnam are venerable relics of the lost Champa civilisation that dominated the country’s centre and south between the 2nd and 15th centuries. Despite the towers’ status of an architectural marvel, the temples’ remoteness means that travellers venturing further afield to explore them are likely to have the spectacular sites all to themselves.

With AVANI Quy Nhon’s new History Buff offer, guests staying at the beachfront resort can take advantage of a full-day Champa tour conducted by a local travel guide. Either perched on the back of a motorbike in true Vietnamese style or in the comfort of an air-conditioned car, travellers get to visit some of the province’s most striking and well-preserved ancient complexes.

The journey through the quaint villages is as exciting as the destination, with guests whizzing past emerald-green rice fields, grazing water buffalos and centuries-old pagodas. After an early start fuelled by a cup of Vietnamese coffee at a local café, the first stop is at the Banh It Towers. Built in the late 11th – early 12th century on top of a hill at a few dozen meters above sea level, a spectacular panorama of winding rivers, scattered country houses, green farms and villages unfolds in all directions.

After a spectacular ride through the postcard-perfect countryside, the travellers will reach the blissfully tourist-free Duong Long Towers. At 24 meters, the central tower is the tallest of all Champa structures in the area. The complex features some impressive carving details and the grounds are strewn with artefacts that can be explored up-close.

Celebrated for its elegant style and built in the 16th century, the Canh Tien Tower features unique sandstone pilasters and roof edges carved with twisted rope pattern. The corners of each of the tower’s four storeys are decorated with a phoenix tail motif giving it, from a distance, an aspect of having intricately decorated fairy wings.

Back in Quy Nhon, floating above a serene park within the city limits, are the Thap Doi (Twin) Towers.  Steep steps climb to temples topped by curved pyramidal roofs – rather than the Champa temples’ usual terraced turrets – opening up to a dome of blue sky. The perfect finale is a visit to the nearby Binh Dinh Museum with its impressive collection of Cham sculptures.

For further information, guests can contact AVANI Quy Nhon by calling +84 56 384 0132 or by visiting the website.

Explore Croatia’s Coastline on Foot and By Sea

Cultural tour specialist Peter Sommer Travels is offering a very special way to explore the stunning coastline of Croatia, with a new eight-day walking and cruising tour.

A first for the company, the Walking and Cruising Southern Dalmatia Tour offers an enticing combination of a coastal cruise on a wooden gulet and escorted walks exploring ancient forts, beautiful towns and magnificent castles in the company of expert guide, archaeologist Dr Helen Tomas.

Departing from Slano near Dubrovnik, guests will cruise through the Elaphite Isles before spending their first two days exploring one of Europe’s most unusual fortifications, the five kilometre medieval Great Wall of Ston and the picturesque island of Mljet, known for its beautiful lakes and Roman palace.

After cruising through the Korčula channel, the tour takes guests to Croatia’s most unusual UNESCO World Heritage site – the Stari Grad Plain, a field system laid out by the ancient Greek settlers of Pharos 24 centuries ago which is still in use today.

Travellers will also visit the wonderful island of Brač for spectacular views of the Dalmatian coast and to hike through a magnificent gorge to the monastery of Blaca,before exploring Split and the stunning fortress of Klis.

During their eight-day experience, guests will enjoy a delicious selection of local produce including fresh seafood, fine wines and superb meat and cheese dishes, served onboard and ashore.

Catering to a small group, the Walking and Cruising Southern Dalmatia Tour departs on September 30, 2017 and is priced from £3395 (approx A$5800) per person twin share, including most meals, all accommodation, all activities and excursions with expert guides, ground transport and airport transfers. The tour can also be coordinated for private groups at other times.

Specialising in small-group expeditions, Peter Sommer Travels offers more than 20 different expert-led tours and gulet cruises among the ancient sites of Croatia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Turkey and the UK.

For full details and bookings contact Peter Sommer Travels on 0011 44 1600 888 220, email info@petersommer.com or visit www.petersommer.com.

THE JOURNEY IS THE DESTINATION: TEN REASONS TO WALK JAPAN THIS YEAR

The therapeutic experience of walking a country can reveal its truly off- beat hidden gems, from ancient historical rituals to spectacular, untouched landscapes. Walk Japan, the pioneering operator of walking tours in Japan, provides meticulously planned and expertly led tours that fully immerse visitors in Japanese society, culture and history. Here’s 10 reasons to choose walking as a way to explore the varied wonders of Japan:

1. A food lover’s paradise

Japan is known as one of the top gourmet destinations in the world. The Izu Geo

Trail and Hokkaido Hike will reveal some of the country’s culinary delights at authentic Japanese restaurants, washed down with local sake. The Izu Peninsula showcases some of the freshest seafood available, from spider crab to squid, lobster, sea bream and much more, while

Hokkaido’s famous scallops are world-renowned.

2. Insta-worthy scenery

Japan is the perfect backdrop for social- media worthy imagery, from the snowcapped mountains and pristine forests on the Snow Country Trek, to picturesque old post towns and seasonal Cherry Blossoms on the Nakasendo Way.

3. Digital detox

For those looking to unplug and unwind, Walk Japan’s Kunisaki Retreat will

provide a much needed respite from bustling city life. Nestled in the western end of Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, modern Japan has left this quiet haven of rural life largely untouched. Days will start with calming meditation and yoga sessions, followed by relaxation in onsen thermal hot springs, soba buckwheat

noodle master classes, ikebana flower arranging, chado tea ceremonies and Japanese taiko drumming.

4. Culture vultures

History, culture and literature lead guests through Walk Japan’s unique Basho Tour: Narrow Road to the North, which follows in the footsteps of 17th Century Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho. While traveling along quiet country lanes, forest trails and mountain footpaths, guests will learn of the history and

tough spirit of the people of Japan’s northerly regions.

5. Unique encounters with fascinating people

Walking will enable encounters with a range of enchanting personalities, offering insights into local societies and traditions. Guests of Walk Japan can discover the secret to the Okinawan’s longevity and hear the riveting life stories from local craftsmen and fishermen in the Okinawa

Voyage, while the Kunisaki retreat includes meditation led by the abbot-in- waiting of Fuki-ji.

6. City Secrets

As well as revealing remote rural hideaways, Walk Japan penetrates the back streets of Tokyo and Kyoto on city tours that uncover more about the history and culture of the fascinating cities than any other tour or guide book.

7. Social conscience

Walk Japan is dedicated to leaving a positive impact on all areas that their tours

touch upon. In addition to supporting family-run and local businesses, Walk Japan established a Community Project in Kunisaki to preserve the environment and provide a prosperous future through farming and reforestation initiatives. The project employs local residents and offers Walk Japan

employees and guests the opportunity to partake at the end of each Kunisaki Retreat or Trek.

8. Adventure junkies

For those looking to up the adventure anti, the Yaeyama: Okinawa Voyage goes

beyond walking to include kayaking across rivers, mangroves and the open sea as well as snorkeling the coral reefs. Ishigaki’s aquatic paradise is home to over 300 species of tropical fish and, with luck, guests may catch a glimpse of sea turtles as they make their way from the beaches to the open sea. Those looking for the challenge of higher

altitudes can trek some of Hokkaido’s highest mountains on the Hokkaido Hike, including Mt. Asahidake, Mt. Tokachidake and nearby volcanoes.

9. Led by the best

Walk Japan’s Tour guides are experts in Japanese culture, food and geography.

10. Independence

All guides are proficient in both Japanese and English and have an intimate knowledge of Japan and its people. The ranks of Walk Japan’s Tour Leaders include individuals who have extensive experience across the media, agriculture, commerce, arts, finance, academia and tourism sectors in Japan.

For those looking to travel solo, the Wayfarer self-guided tours of Kumano and

Nakasendo are an incredible way to immerse in the Japanese countryside. Drawing on the wealth of experience and knowledge amassed by Walk Japan, each guest is provided with the essential logistics and route support along with a Route Booklet covering a mix of historical relevance and modern cultural know-how for

entirely independent touring of the roads less travelled in Japan.

Detailed information about all of Walk Japan’s tours can be found on their website (http://www.walkjapan.com/all-tours) and on the Walk Japan Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/walkjapan).