Sushi Japan
Japan: a feast for all senses
The sheer depth and intricacy of Japanese cuisine, from regional classics like Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki comfort food to Michelin-starred chefs’ takes on tempura, can make navigating the dining landscape here as bewildering as perusing the menu at a Tokyo sushi bar.  Japan: a feast for all the senses.   Here, your handy guide to the best of Japan’s unique food and drink.   ***Advertising content by  Japan National Tourism Organization***   Eating your way around Japan is the ultimate feast for all the senses. Whether you’re plucking a perfectly sliced, translucent pink piece of sashimi off a delicate ceramic dish, marvelling at dizzying rows of delicately colourful sweet treats, or merrily clinking cold beers over a steaming bowl of ramen in a lively izakaya, one thing quickly becomes apparent: when it comes to food, like all things, the Japanese do not do things by halves. From an emphasis on fresh local produce, to samurai-worthy knife skills, to creating a painstakingly perfect ambience, no stone is left unturned in the quest to create magical food memories for the lucky diner. Why not make it you? CULT FAVOURITES Japanese cuisine has spread to foodies all over the globe, but arguably, there’s no better place to seek out your cult favourites than in their homeland: and Tokyo’s the perfect place to start. At Sushi-Bar Numazuko Ginza 1st, in the upmarket Ginza shopping area, you’ll find a winning trifecta of Japanese icons: sushi, conveyor belts, and sake. Showcasing fresh seasonal seafood (try the sea urchin, piled up in the shape of another icon: Mt Fuji), this fun and reasonably priced little gem is a great mid-shop stop. For an unforgettable dinner, tempura fans should make a beeline for Michelin-starred Tempura Motoyoshi, where fresh vegetables, seafood and other ingredients are treated to the wizardry of master chef Kazuhiro Motoyoshi in an elegant, intimate setting. Forget pale (or soggy) imitations – this is the real deal: impossibly light and crispy, the tempura perfectly showcases the stunning natural flavours of the produce.   DRINK IT ALL IN Japan’s two most famed beverages offer visitors a chance to imbibe a sense of the culture behind them, as well as the drinks themselves. At Sudo Honke, a family brewery in Obara, Ibaraki (north-east of Tokyo), the region’s pristine waters have been used for over 800 years to create exceptional sake. Take a tour of the brewery, surrounded by ancient trees, soaking up age-old traditions as you sample some of the finest sake in Japan. Back in Tokyo, the sophistication of the Ginza shopping district carries through to Higashiya Ginza’s charming blend of ancient tradition and modern sensibility. This beautifully designed confectionary shop and tea salon offers over 30 varieties of green tea and a selection of wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets), all aimed at celebrating seasonal influences. FUN FEASTS Yes, there are plenty of serene settings in which to appreciate the subtle beauty of Japanese cuisine. But families (and general fun-loving foodies) might also be surprised by the number of lively dining experiences dished up all around the country. In Hiroshima, head for Okonomiyaki Nagataya, where national comfort food okonomiyaki (a savoury, thick pancake packed with vegetables, seafood or meat, topped with inimitable Japanese mayonnaise and tangy sauce) is made in the unique local style. Choose your favourite fillings, and your personal creation will be cooked to order on the tabletop frying surface. In Kyoto, Fire Ramen Menbakaichidai delivers on its name, dishing up moreish soy-flavoured, spring onion-laden ramen noodles on an impressive pillar of fire, thanks to the chef’s technique of pouring burning oil over the dish to draw out extra flavour. It’s the perfect pit stop after a day exploring Kyoto’s nearby Nijo Castle. And back in Tokyo, search for the retro-style izakaya (Japanese-style pub) Manpuku Shokudo, nestled under train tracks and clad in old film posters – a bustling setting for eating, drinking and being merry amongst locals letting off steam after work.   FRENCH FINE DINING GOES EAST French and Japanese cuisine may (literally) be worlds apart, but they share a reverence for subtle sophistication, and the elevation of excellent produce by highly skilled master chefs. Joel Robuchon Restaurant, located in a ‘chateau’ in Ebisu, Tokyo, boasts no fewer than three Michelin stars; its ethos of ‘cuisine actuelle’ focuses on letting the ingredients shine through, with sublime service, plush decor and all the requisite top-notch trappings. Further north, French fine dining restaurant Michel Bras Toya Japon will take your breath away with its gorgeously plated odes to Mother Nature, all served up in a stunning elevated setting overlooking the mountainous blue expanse of Hokkaido’s Lake Toya – a truly unforgettable experience.   To explore more of Japan’s delicious bounty, visit ‘Enjoy my Japan’, where you’ll find videos and stories showcasing Japan’s deep traditions, its kaleidoscope of cuisines, the excitement and energy of its cities, a surprising depth of nature and breadth of outdoor adventures, a heritage of fine art, and beautiful destinations for simple relaxation. www.enjoymyjapan.jp
Holland America Line
Journey Alaska by land and sea with Holland America Line
Holland America Line’s Land+Sea Journeys let you extend your Alaska adventure into the wild interior of Alaska and the Yukon. And who better to show you the Great Land?    ***Advertising content by  Holland America Line***   Holland America Line’s experiences are carefully crafted to reflect the best of Alaska, and even allow you to choose your own path. A Land+Sea Journey may take you to the foot of mighty Denali or venture further to the unspoiled reaches of the Yukon (an experience offered by no other cruise company). The Land+Sea Journeys program allows Holland America Line to focus on this majestic destination and experience while offering guests its renowned combination of elegance and adventure in Alaska and the Yukon. [caption id="attachment_45283" align="alignnone" width="600"] Big brown bear (Ursus arctos) in the mountain[/caption] Need to know Holland America Line is the only cruise company that takes guests to the unspoiled reaches of the Yukon. For the ultimate Great Land getaway, combine an Alaska cruise with Denali National Park and the wild frontier of the Yukon Territory. Ride on the McKinley Explorer glass-domed railcars, pan for gold, or even cruise the Yukon River on a sternwheeler. Located at the very gates of Denali National Park at the magnificent 24-hectare McKinley Chalet Resort, Denali Square serves as both hub and retreat for guests exploring the park, and features cosy fire pits, perfect for gathering around on cool Alaskan evenings as well as outdoor seating to enjoy the scenery in summer. You’ll also find shops offering local goods, and an artist-in-residence cabin where Alaskan native and local artists display and discuss their works. Walking paths in and around Denali Square show off the property’s mountainous landscapes and beautiful setting just across the Nenana River from Denali National Park. [caption id="attachment_45284" align="alignnone" width="600"] Mountains of Denali[/caption] Klondike Spirit Yukon River cruise Step aboard the Klondike Spirit and embark on a cruise to a bygone era on the only operating paddlewheeler in the Yukon Territory (at an additional cost). As you make your way through breathtaking landscapes along the Yukon River, the third-longest river in America, keep an eye out for abundant wildlife, including moose, bears and bald eagles. Tundra landing via helicopter Explore the hills just outside of Denali National Park on this short ride (at an additional cost). Keep your eyes on the horizon to see Denali, North America’s tallest peak, or Mount Deborah, her impressive sister. Just moments after take-off, you will be deeply immersed in Alaskan back country. Your pilot will set down on the soft, alpine tundra, giving you the amazing opportunity to step out into this scenic landscape. Experience the authentic Alaska you’ve always dreamed of with the cruise line that is the undisputed leader in Alaska Cruises and Land+Sea Journeys. For more information call 1300 987 322, contact your travel professional or visit www.hollandamerica.com/alaska
Emperor penguins
Exploration at any age
One amazing woman’s intrepid spirit has found an unexpected ally in COTA Insurance, who says age needn’t stand in the way of adventure.  ***Advertising content by  COTA Insurance** When it comes to travel ambitions, they don’t get much loftier than Elva Johnson’s lifelong dream. Watching Sputnik zooming overhead at the tender age of 21, Elva resolved to go to space herself within her lifetime. However, at 83 years of age now, she’s settling… to simply be the oldest woman to travel to both the North and South Poles. [caption id="attachment_45278" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Antarctic peninsula mountain range that was shot during the extreme expedition to the Vernadsky Research Base. The beauty of snow-covered mountain crest and Pacific Ocean.[/caption] Exploration for the young at heart “In 1984, I remember, I wrote this down as a goal, in case I couldn’t get to space after all,” Elva says. “I have exploration in my genes and wanted to leave a legacy for my own grandchildren and great grandchildren; I wanted to go where other people don’t go.” The goal was shelved for quite a few years, but unlike so many travellers, as Elva aged, her resolve only firmed. On a cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage, she had the ultimate moment when seeing a glacier calving for the first time. “It took a huge, huge plunge into the sea, sending spray up 20 storeys high,” she remembers. “And the glacier beneath was brown and green and blue and I realised it had been millions of years in the making. It hit me like someone put a dart in my heart, how enormous the universe, and I felt like a little insect compared to its grandeur. It started me on a journey to get that feeling again,” she says. It’s one thing having a sense of adventure and a firm resolve, but quite another to convince the world it’s a good idea for you to travel as you get older. The increasing costs and restrictions attached to travel insurance, in particular, throw up roadblocks for even the most determined traveller. [caption id="attachment_45279" align="alignnone" width="600"] Elva fulfilled her dream to reach the North and South Poles[/caption] Travel insurance that understands you Elva experienced this firsthand as she attempted to get to the North Pole, a scant couple of years after a knee replacement. Although her GP fully supported her travels, she faced mandatory US$50,000 evacuation insurance coverage that she ended up covering with her own assets, essentially becoming her own insurer – a risky and far from ideal situation. Now the time has come to prepare for the even more physically challenging South Pole expedition this summer. Elva was initially stymied by the impossibility of US$300,000 mandatory evacuation coverage this time around. However, she was beyond delighted to find out that there was an insurance company willing to support her. COTA Insurance has addressed the issues regarding age factors with their underwriters, resulting in no age limit on their single trip policies – fantastic on paper, but even more wonderful when you see how it translates to people like Elva living out their lifelong ambitions. “I was gobsmacked, knowing that I can now fulfil my dream,” she says. “It was like all my life’s goals have come together. My kids and my descendants have seen my setbacks but now they can see, if you keep that vision in front of you, you don’t have to limit yourself – you’ll find a way.” COTA Insurance is underwritten by certain underwriters at Lloyd’s. Call their friendly team on 1300 1300 50, or visit cota.com.au
Go on an Elephant Safari
Your next favourite holiday destination: Sri Lanka
Tempo Holidays loves travel, that's why they have created your next favourite holiday destination; Sri Lanka.    ***Advertising content by Tempo Holidays***   That’s why these destination specialists have been creating amazing holidays for over 25 years, offering all forms of travel, from cruise to coach to rail, and catering to a range of budgets. They can even tailor-make any holiday you like to your dream destination. Travel is all about being in the moment and, no matter how much you have travelled, there is always something new to discover and explore. Need to know Tempo Holidays’ top tip to make the most of 2019 is talk to their destination experts: “We are here to ensure your journey is just right for you and your requirements. Our biggest tip is that you make the most of your transport options. Take a train through the countryside or get up close to local sights – nothing compares to the feeling of discovering a new city, so be sure to stop and absorb the local cultures around you.” Tempo Holidays’ favourite destination right now is Sri Lanka, which has just been named as Lonely Planet’s #1 country in the world for 2019. Be welcomed by friendly locals, see natural wonders and glorious beaches as Tempo Holidays takes you to places like Yala National Park, one of the largest wildlife reserves in Sri Lanka and the closest safari destination to Australians. Yala is known for its dense population of leopards,  but you also have the chance to see sloth bears, elephants, deer, crocodiles and an incredible array of birdlife. Take a look at Tempo Holidays’ many tours that cater to all types of travellers and highlight everything Sri Lanka has to offer. Call 1300 362 844, email res@tempoholidays.com, visit tempoholidays.com or see your local travel agent.
Indochina Insider Journeys
The insiders guide to Indochina
A lot can happen in 25 years, especially in an incredible place like the Indochina region, yet this is the amount of time Insider Journeys has pioneered travel here. ***Advertising content by Insider Journeys*** They continue to give travellers the opportunity to experience some of the world’s yet-to-be explored and less-understood places, helping travellers to both create and immerse themselves in unique experiences and help build memories that are fit to last a lifetime. You may be itching to experience the energy of a vibrant city like Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), explore the ancient temples of Cambodia, cruise the Mekong Delta, relax on a tropical beach or do all the above; if so, Insider Journeys’ selection of Small Group Journeys, private tours, short stays and river cruises can give you genuine insights into these fascinating and immensely diverse destinations. Get Authentic From majestic monuments to the hidden charms of city backstreets, you can taste authentic cuisine, reach remote villages and enjoy meaningful and genuine interactions with local people in amazing destinations such as Sri Lanka, Japan, India Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China. When you join an Insider Journeys Small Group Journey, you discover not only the ‘must-see’ sights and hidden treasures of Asia, but also the ideal way to explore these destinations. These itineraries give you the chance to relax and enjoy your journey, led by expert guides who take care of everything while still allowing you to retain a sense of spontaneity, flexibility and a ready sense of independence. Private Eyes If travelling in a small group isn’t your style, then the range of ‘Ready to Book’ Private Journeys designed by Insider Journeys’ team of passionate Asia experts could be what you’ve been looking for. Every itinerary includes the must-see highlights and genuine experiences of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. From  the moment your trip begins, a Private Journey provides a seamless travel experience and all transport is included in your journey, be it by air, land or sea.  All experiences are designed with you in mind, and if you can’t find what you need, the team can even tailor-make an itinerary especially for you. The Details Insider Journeys 2019-2020 Small Group and Private Journeys brochures are available now. Call 1300 365 355, visit insiderjourneys.com.au or contact your travel agent.
How to see a side of Japan that tourists are yet to discover
Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima – the Japanese golden route. It’s a trail many have completed, and one many aim to complete during their lifetime. And while there is definitely room for exploring Japan’s epicentre (a 450 per cent increase over the past five years doesn’t lie), a recent journey through the country’s more authentic side highlights just how much more there is to discover.   Despite the staggering rise in foreign tourists, relatively little has been done so far to make travellers aware of alternative destinations, with a continued fixation on commercialised travel spots.   Tokyo-based startup tour operator Heartland JAPAN is leading the way in the exploration of sustainable travel destinations, positioning itself as the oh-so-necessary provider for inbound visitors wishing to journey off the beaten track.   Not only will opening up these regions reignite local economies, but it will also assist in reversing the effects of depopulation and urbanisation, with the hopeful result of revitalising these communities.   If you’re like me, and you get your travel kicks from discovering vast and varied natural, historical and cultural alternatives that aren’t plagued with tourists, there are two Heartland JAPAN tours you need to discover ASAP. Allow me to take you through them. TOUR 1: Mt Aso, Kumamoto At the heart of Japan’s most southwesterly island of Kyushu sits the Kumamoto Prefecture.   If you haven’t heard of it, fear not, neither had I. And the Japanese are quick to forgive you, eager to open their arms wide for foreigners keen to discover just how incredible their little untouched pocket of the world is. Kumamoto City Your tour begins in Kumamoto.   Whilst Kyushu’s modern day capital is Fukuoka, situated in the north, historically Kyushu was governed from Kumamoto city.   [caption id="attachment_45084" align="alignleft" width="600"] A traditional seafood dinner in Kumamoto cityTime will be spent walking the elevated green pastured mountains of Futaenotouge Pass.[/caption] For those who haven’t dusted up on their samurai history prior to the tour, Futaenotouge Pass is a portion of the Bungo Circuit, a historic trail used by the feudal lords of the Kumamoto Domain to travel to Tokyo, in a practice known as sankin-kotai.   Following this exploration (and plenty of time to stop and marvel at the landscape’s rolling hills) you’ll make the 90-minute private car journey to the main event: Aso. Mt Aso For me, there are a number of things that draw me to any country. The people, food, culture – but one of the most significant is the chance to marvel in a natural beauty that is unlike anywhere else I have seen. And for me, Mt Aso is high on the list of my favourites.   [caption id="attachment_45080" align="alignleft" width="600"] The craters of Mt Aso resemble a space-like texture[/caption]   Mt Aso is the largest active volcano in Japan, and is among the largest in the world. And among it lives five peaks: Mt Neko, Mt Taka, Mt Naka (also called Nakadake or Naka-Dake), Mt Eboshi, and Mt Kishima.   Nakadake hosts a spectacular crater, stretching 24 kilometres from north to south and 18 kilometres from east to west. Within it lives an active volcano that emits smoke at all hours of the day.   [caption id="attachment_45081" align="alignleft" width="600"] Nakadake hosts a spectacular crater which stretching 24 kilometres from north to south[/caption] In fact, it emits so much toxic smoke that many tourists find themselves turned away from visiting, depending on the ever-changing wind directions. We were lucky, I hope you are too. Waita Onsen Village If you take one thing from this article, I hope it’s that the Kumamoto Prefecture offers many things that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Among them is the Waita Onsen Village, located in Oguni.   With its collection of six hot springs located at the base of the 1500-metre-tall Mt Waita, the village overlooks Kumamoto and Oita prefectures.   Looking around, you wouldn’t be wrong to think you were on the set of a blockbuster Hollywood movie, complete with million-dollar smoke machines as far as the eye can see.   What you would be witnessing (and smelling), however, is a natural phenomenon whereby gushing steam from the surrounding volcano punctures the ground and fills the skies.   [caption id="attachment_45082" align="alignleft" width="600"] The Waita Onsen village is one of the steamiest places in all of Japan[/caption] Walking around the sleepy rural town, it’s hard to see a square metre of land untouched by steam. And the locals, they make use of it. On the tour, you will be invited inside one of the villagers’ homes, where you can view, and participate in, a unique hot spring cooking experience.   The fuming hot steam serves as a means of heating up just about anything. From fish to vegetables, most residents house a smoke vent for culinary purposes. [caption id="attachment_45083" align="alignleft" width="600"] Locals brewing vegetables using steam from the village[/caption] Kagura Performances During your tour with Heartland JAPAN you will experience a private Kagura performance at a local theatre.   Kagura is thought to be among the oldest traditional performing arts in the country, with an origin tracing back to ancient mythology.   [caption id="attachment_45085" align="alignleft" width="600"] A colourful Kagura performance[/caption] It is originally said to be performed for Shinto dieties in an attempt to welcome and entertain, performed only by Shinto priests to thank them for abundant crops.   In contemporary Japan, however, the vibrant dances and garments are widely performed to the enjoyment of the public.   Experiencing these performances firsthand is unlike anything I have ever seen. The costumes, dramatics and even stamina of these performers is really unparalleled – it’s crazy to think they’re amateurs. TOUR 2: Yamaguchi Prefecture  Due to its rich history which spans nearly 700 years, Yamaguchi is the perfect place to explore with experts.   Yamaguchi is renowned throughout Japan for its impressive 300-year history and its ties to the Meiji Revolution.   While sitting as the seat of the powerful Ouchi lords, Yamaguchi grew as a rival to the war-torn capital of Kyoto during periods of Japanese conflict. As a result, the city grew in popularity as the ‘Kyoto of the West’ and many of its smaller cities have come to resemble the eastern hotspots many travellers know and love. Exploring Tsuwano With old samurai mansions, dark red roof tiles, wooden grated windows and koi carp fish,  Tsuwano is a bustling, pleasant town at the western edge of Shimane Prefecture.   Walking through Tsuwano is a blissful experience: peaceful mountains envelop the town and its surrounds. It has an energy of ancient Japan, alongside a contemporary atmosphere that allows it to not feel dated.   The town was built around the Tsuwano Castle in the early 14th century, and while the structure does not exist anymore, several business and samurai residences still remain in their original locations. You are also able to visit the castle ruins, accessible by chairlift.   Spend your time walking down Honmachi and Tonomachi avenues, memorable for their cobblestone streets dotted with established sake breweries, folk craft shops and Japanese sweetshops. The Shinto Shrine Yamaguchi is also celebrated for housing the Taikodani Inari Shrine, one of the five most significant Inari shrines in Japan.   [caption id="attachment_45086" align="alignleft" width="600"] The shinto shrine overlooks Tsuwano[/caption] The site was built in the mid-18th century in close proximity to Tsuwano Castle, with the aim of driving away evil spirits and bringing in good luck.   Today, vermillion-lacquered Torii gates are erected over a long series of stairs leading up to the shrine. Visitors are encouraged to make the 15-minute climb through the gates and pray for prosperity, good luck and harvest on the way to the main shrine grounds.   [caption id="attachment_45087" align="alignleft" width="600"] Visitors are encouraged to make the 15-minute climb through the gates[/caption] Large sacred straw ropes line the front of the halls, which is a feature that occurs at other shrines in the Shimane Prefecture.   Visitors to Taikodani Inari Shrine can buy fortunes, also known as Omikuji. A bamboo aparatus allots you a number, which coresponds to a tiny slip/roll of paper on which your fortune is written.   [caption id="attachment_45089" align="alignleft" width="600"] White pieces of paper contain discarded bad fortunes[/caption] If you draw a good fortune, keep it, take it home with you. But if it’s bad, you’re encouraged to tie it among the wall of other fortunes. The idea is to leave all bad luck at the shrine, where the divine spirit can exorcise it. Ogawa Sumikawa Sake Brewery Driving towards Susa Bay, you may start to feel an appetite for Japan’s most prized and celebrated alcohol: sake. Fear not, the team at HEARTLAND are quick to replenish, taking you to one of the country’s most celebrated breweries.   For novices, sake is a traditional Japanese rice wine, made by fermenting rice that has been polished to remove the bran. At Ogawa Sumikawa Sake Brewery, the place you’ll visit, you will learn and watch the signature manufacturing process using the unique brewery rice, ‘sakemirai’.   [caption id="attachment_45090" align="alignleft" width="600"] Local markets sell traditional sake cups[/caption] Very few breweries can brew with this rice, and the much-loved taste led to this brewery being chosen to provide sake for the 2008 G8 summit.
Inspiring Journeys
Land of the long white cloud
Inspiring Journeys New Zealand The Long White Cloud itinerary embodies the classic-journey philosophy, full of ambition and adventure, searching out the finest experiences and landscapes that New Zealand offers in one very considered, well-rounded coach journey. ***Advertising content by Inspiring Journeys*** In 22 unhurried days, you’ll probably witness more than many New Zealanders see of their own country in their lifetimes, and more than most flop-and-drop tourists could do in five separate trips. From South Island gateway Christchurch, sweep south onto the West Coast’s uncrowded landscapes where you can relax in Franz Josef Glacier’s geothermal pools while staring up into lofty snow-crowned mountains. Then it’s time to journey toward the ancient waterways of Fiordland National Park. The Long White Cloud is far from just your got-the-T-shirt sightseeing tour; you control the action – or inaction, if you prefer. In action capital Queenstown, you can opt for a recharging massage to balance the adrenalin overload of your jet boat trip down the heaving Haast River. [caption id="attachment_45009" align="alignnone" width="600"] Cultural hub[/caption] Once Milford Sound is imprinted on your psyche forever, the expedition swoops slowly northward, through Dunedin, drinking in barely believable scenery: the cute little Church of the Good Shepherd on Lake Tekapo’s deserted shores; or spying whale pods from the skies above Kaikoura. Next, it’s time to island hop: first stop, New Zealand’s most happening city, Wellington, followed by a journey through the North Island’s cultural and (volcanically) active heart, Rotorua. From here, bear witness to one of the southern hemisphere’s true natural wonders: Waitomo’s enchanting glow worm caves. Once you’ve had your fill of cosmopolitan capital Auckland, then the golden sands of Orewa, the kauri-tree-rich sacred Waipoua Forest,and the Bay of Islands’ coastal magnificence are all ready to prove to you just how diverse this peaceful and compact country can be. Nose to nose with the Maori: an uncommon cultural connection Naturally, The Long White Cloud itinerary offers far more than just filmic landscapes. To get to know New Zealand intimately, you must learn the ways of the country’s proud and vibrant Maori culture. There are few greater chances to do so than over dinner and a concert at Tamaki MAori Village. In the spectacular marae (meeting ground), an ancient culture dramatically unfurls before you, in dance, in art, in ceremony. The Tamaki performers take you on a journey through ancestral beliefs, revealing an inexorable bond with the landscape and its rhythms. Once again, don’t expect the usual sit-back-and-clap experience; this is deep cultural immersion. And while they might not be able to get you up for a dance, you won’t be able to resist indulging in the Hangi, a traditional feast cooked in the earth that has few foodie peers. Three Long White Cloud memories of a lifetime [caption id="attachment_45008" align="alignnone" width="600"] The church of the Good Shepherd on the shores od Lake Tekapo[/caption] Bay of Islands cruise: When most people envisage New Zealand, they summon the archetypal South Island  Lord of the Rings landscape. A languid cruise around Bay of Islands Maritime Park, which graces the country’s northern tip, may change your preconceptions forever. Why not opt for wind power aboard a historic tall ship, a silent serene space to take in the kaleidoscopic contrast between 144 emerald-topped islands, the azure waters and the white beaches (yep, they have them in New Zealand, too). Milford Sound cruise and kayak: Few places on Earth reward exploration more than pristine Fiordland National Park. Aboard one of the spacious Southern Discoveries vessels, a half-day deep into Milford Sound awaits, where you’ll get to know the area’s wildlife, rainforests and its wonderfully wild moods. For a deeper appreciation of the Sound’s abyssal waters, get a little more hands-on – by getting your hands on a paddle and sea kayaking your way around bewitching Harrison Cove. [caption id="attachment_45010" align="alignnone" width="600"] Get on board and be Inspired[/caption] Wine time, Hawkes Bay-style: Marlborough used to get all the attention, but those in the know never miss a sojourn into Hawkes Bay for a drop of distinction. Check out charming Napier’s Art Deco streetscape (rebuilt after an earthquake in 1931) before getting down to business tasting some of the best wine that New Zealand produces. Just for balance, you’ll tuck into some wonderful regional cuisine, too. Balance, after all, is the essence of a worthwhile expedition. And The Long White Cloud itinerary gets to the very essence of New Zealand, distilled conveniently into just three weeks of your life. All you need to bring along is your sense of adventure.   To get on board The Long White Cloud, head to Inspiring Journeys and save 10 per cent before 31 January 2019. Visit inspiringjourneys.com/nzij or call 1300 669 175 (terms and conditions apply).
On The Go Tours Jordan
Perfect holidays, the Jordanian way
From grand palaces to historic temples, hot desert plains to snowy mountain peaks, On The Go Tours has always brought travellers the finest sights and adventures the world has to offer.  This is perfection the Jordanian holiday way. ***Advertising content by  On The Go Tours*** Immerse yourself in a truly authentic local experience on a popular guided group tour, make a date with some of the world’s most colourful festivals, take an unforgettable family adventure, tailor-make that dream holiday or discover the pulse of the world’s most exciting cities on a wide range of day trips; it’s all up to you. [caption id="attachment_45003" align="alignnone" width="600"] The jebels and duens of Wadi Rum's desert landscape are magic at sunset[/caption] A magical evening of traditional music and dance, local cuisine and shisha accompanied by awe-inspiring incredible lansdscapes awaits under a blanket of stars at On The Go Tours’ desert camp at Wadi Rum. A vast, silent landscape of ancient riverbeds, pastel stretches of sandy desert and amazing rock formations known as jebels, the desertscape of Wadi Rum encompasses some of the most stunning scenery in all of Jordan, forged by millions of years of geological formation, erosion and evolution. Split by networks of canyons and ravines, spanned by naturally formed rock bridges and watered by hidden springs, the jebels (essentially mountains) offer awesome opportunities for scrambling, rock climbing and trekking. The Details Explore the vast landscape on a 4WD adventure, stopping at unusual rock formations, with a night spent under the stars in a perfectly located desert camp. [caption id="attachment_45004" align="alignnone" width="600"] The desert camp at Wadi Rum[/caption] You can choose to spend the night camping under the stars or bedding down in comfortable permanent tents with twin beds and linen provided, although you may want to bring your own sleeping bag liner. If visiting in winter (November to March) it can be very cold at night in the desert and you may wish to bring your own warm sleeping bag. There are environmentally friendly shared bathroom facilities with hot and cold running water, toilets and a shower. A communal tent, furnished with small tables and cushioned seating area, is the place to gather at night to enjoy a hearty Jordanian meal and some traditional Bedouin music. For more information please contact On The Go Tours on 1300 855 684 or email aus-info@onthegotours.com
Bali grass
The ultimate five-day Lombok itinerary
What to do and where to explore on Bali’s neighbouring island   ***This has been created by International Traveller with support of Wonderful Indonesia***   Bali has long been a much-loved holiday destination for Australians – it’s practically a rite of passage. And while record numbers of Aussies are still basking in Bali’s warm waters, an increasing amount of visitors are now travelling to Bali’s less-visited sister, the stunning island of Lombok. Like the rest of Bali, Lombok offers lush landscapes, tasty culinary dishes, unique cultural experiences and its fair share of adventure, but this beautiful island also boasts almost-deserted beaches, epic surfing breaks and hidden waterfalls as well. It goes without saying that to really explore Lombok you need two to three weeks, but if you’ve only got the best part of one week, here’s one of the best ways to spend it: Day 1 Once you fly into Lombok from Bali, head to the beautiful coastal area of Mandalika Beach, just 30 minutes to the south. Once a hidden mecca for surfers, now this pristine coastal paradise that is only six minutes from popular Kuta Beach (not to be confused with Bali’s Kuta Beach) is home to watersports of all kinds, modern hotels and hip cafes serving up local treats. It’s the perfect place to start your holiday (cocktail in hand). After checking into your hotel, take the afternoon to hike to the top of nearby Merese Hill above Batu Payung beach to see an impressive panorama of Lombok as well as a beautiful sunset. The walk itself will take roughly about an hour from Mandalika or you can hop on a moped and then it’s just a quick 15- to 20-minute walk from the car park to the top. [caption id="attachment_44790" align="alignnone" width="600"] A playground of a different kind[/caption] Day 2 Today is beach day! Mandalika Beach is perfectly located near some of Lombok’s most beautiful beaches, so hiring a moped or catching a taxi to each one makes for a stunning day by the sea. If you love surfing and fishing, head to Gerupuk Beach or if you’re after peace and quiet, try relaxing at Serenting Beach. For lunch, make your way to beautiful Tanjung Aan Beach for freshly made Nasi Goreng and a swim on a near-deserted beach, before heading back to Mandalika Beach for dinner. Day 3 Say goodbye to Lombok’s south coast and travel a couple of hours up to Lombok’s main tourist area of Senggigi. On the way, take a short detour to the spectacular Benang Stokel and Benang Kelambu waterfalls, centred around swimming holes below. The 20-metre-high waterfalls cascade through rugged rocky outcrops covered in moss creating a cool retreat from Lombok’s beaches. When you’ve cooled down with a swim, head to your hotel in Senggigi, around 90 minutes’ drive away. Situated on wide open beaches and backed by jungle-covered mountains, Senggigi is a great place to enjoy a day of shopping, before watching the sunset over the water as you eat dinner and head out to a bar. [caption id="attachment_44791" align="alignnone" width="600"] Is this the perfect beach?[/caption] Day 4 After an early breakfast and a swim, take a local day trip north to the famous Gili Islands just off the coast of Lombok. Known for incredibly rich tropical marine biodiversity, the three islands of the Gilis each have a no-car policy and white sandy postcard-worthy beaches. For scuba divers, dive in and explore the sunken ship at Wreck Point near Mentigi Beach on Gili Trawangan. Or you could meet the local turtles and even swim with them. Or you could just snorkel right off the beach (why not?). You’ll find that the pace of life on the Gili Islands is slow… and that’s just how the locals like it. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing day in the sun. Overnight in Senggigi. Day 5 Get up bright and early to hop on a half-day trip cycling through some of Lombok’s beautiful terraced rice fields – most of which date back to the time of Balinese colonisation. As you explore the beautiful rice fields on two wheels, you’ll visit small villages along the way and learn about local customs and culture. You might even try homemade local delicacies. Spend the afternoon back in Senggigi relaxing on the beach, before watching the sunset and listening to late-night live music in the local bars: an ideal way to end your holiday. [caption id="attachment_44789" align="alignnone" width="600"] Stay somewhere different[/caption] Where to stay: Lombok has a range of accommodation including five-star resorts and hotels as well as affordable surf huts and beach hostels to choose from. How to get there: There are regular daily flights between Australia and Denpasar, Indonesia, and there are daily flights between Denpasar and Lombok International Airport (LOP). Local airlines that fly to Lombok from Bali include Garuda, Lion Air, SilkAir and Trans Nusa.   Planning a holiday to Indonesia? For further info on Lombok and the surrounding areas, check out www.indonesia.travel
James Thompson Food Feels
The best non-travel Instagram accounts to inspire you to see the world
There are about 872 billion travel accounts on Instagram, give or take. But there are other ways to see the world through Instagram’s lens. Here, six accounts that will take you on a visual world tour of a different kind.   How do you while away the hours on Instagram? For me, it’s a haphazardly curated feed of beautiful destinations, coveted fashion, mouth-watering food and Betoota Advocate LOLs. I want to go there, wear this, eat that. Sure, I’m envious, but I try to keep the green-eyed monster at bay by striking a content balance. Exotic locations, oui. Nothing but exotic locations, non. To that end, here are six accounts that will nourish your wanderlust while injecting some less traditional imagery into your feed. Best for people-watching in New York City: @humansofny   View this post on Instagram   “I wasn’t planning on dressing up as a clown. I’d been drinking all night in Poughkeepsie and I somehow ended up at the train station, so I decided to take the 4 AM train into the city. I had $200 in my pocket from some gutter cleaning work. I immediately spent the first $60 on brunch and Bloody Marys. Then I walked by Party City and I had the idea to get a clown wig. But then I noticed the suspenders, and the top, and the bow tie, and some balloons. I bought a red nose too but I’m not sure what happened to it. I left the store with about $100, which was enough to get some shoes and a half pint of Seagram’s. I ended the day with $10 but that got lost when I passed out in Times Square. Now I'm trying to figure out how to get home. I need to stop drinking.” A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on Aug 9, 2018 at 10:52am PDT Humans of New York has over eight million followers. I mean, you’re probably one of them. This is a hugely popular account. @humansofny started life as Brandon Stanton’s photography project in 2010 and, although it has evolved since, it remains true to its original mission: to provide a glimpse into the lives of everyday New Yorkers.   While the account still predominantly features locals – it would be weird otherwise, right? – it now goes on tour, too, giving followers an insight into lives around the globe.  Best for global floor appreciation: @ihavethisthingforfloors   View this post on Instagram   #ihavethisthingforfloors #ihavethisthingwithfloors #fromwhereistand #tiles #floors #floored #ceramics #shoes #beauty #bnw #love #awesome #tassles #canvas #slippers #hawanas #blue #love #feet #feetmefloor #stencil #painted#paint #art #fortheloveof #paints @cimkedi #pattern #like4like #follow A post shared by I have this thing for floors. (@ihavethisthingforfloors) on Aug 8, 2017 at 4:55am PDT More than four million Instagram posts have been tagged #lookup, a nod to the notion that we should pull our eyes away from our phone and enjoy what’s around us. (Hashtag irony.) But, as this account proves, we should be doing more looking down as well. @ihavethisthingwithfloors is the result of three friends realising they all, err, had this thing with floors.   They curate the account from Amsterdam, but share ‘selfeets’ (selfie meets feet, geddit?) from all over the world. Each features an Instagram-worthy floor – think beautifully patterned tiles, confetti covered dance floors, colourful carpets – underneath a pair of feet. Bonus points for cute shoes. Best for perving on the world's best caffeine containers: @coffeecupsoftheworld   View this post on Instagram   Magnolia coffee house, Prairie Grove, Arkansas. @magnoliacoffeehouse Submission @deidremays #coffeecupsoftheworld A post shared by Coffee Cups of the World (@coffeecupsoftheworld) on May 21, 2018 at 5:05am PDT If you’ve never posted a photo of your cool takeaway coffee cup, are you even on Instagram? Kiwi photographer Henry Hargreaves has taken the trend a step further, curating an account dedicated to, as the handle would suggest, @coffeecupsoftheworld.   The account started with Hargreaves’ personal assortment of cups collected during his travels, but has since added submissions into the mix. The result is a striking visual ode to cafes that have turned a ubiquitous item into a work of art. Best 'non-street-style' street style account: @aks   View this post on Instagram   10 PHOTOS shot during @parisfashionweek SS19 in Paris, France 🇫🇷 for @wmag + @lofficielparis • SEE MORE on AdamKatzSinding.com • #PFW #SS19 #Paris #AKS #AdamKatzSinding #NoFreePhotos A post shared by Adam Katz Sinding (@aks) on Oct 5, 2018 at 10:59am PDT The first thing you should probably know is @AKS “is not a f**king street style blog.” Adam Katz Sinding is a fashion week documentarian. The American born, Copenhagen-based photojournalist travels 300-plus days of the year, capturing the world’s biggest fashion events from both backstage and the street.   The disclaimer is his. He says street style is a lie he wants no part of. In contrast, Katz Sinding’s images are an honest snapshot of style in some of the world’s most fashionable cities, and a touristy #ASKforeheadselfie series for good measure. Best coverage of doorways around the world: @thedoorproject   View this post on Instagram   Barcelona, Spain A post shared by Doors Worldwide (@thedoorproject) on Jun 2, 2015 at 9:56am PDT “Behind every door is a story,” says Caryn Cullinan, the woman behind The Door Project. That might be true, but @thedoorproject is more about the door itself with colourful, ornate and quirky examples from around the world captured via the Instagram account. The project has its roots in a 2015 Kickstarter campaign, which aimed to raise enough money for Cullinan to publish a book. She did that, but hasn’t stopped the door hunt, which she documents on Instagram.   While her captions include little more than each door’s location, the absence of the aforementioned ‘story’ does allow you to imagine your own. Best account to simultaneously make you drool and want to book flights to wherever that pizza is: @food_feels   View this post on Instagram   I’ll have all of the above ✔️ No trip to Macao is complete without a stop to Lord Stow - I had so many recommendations to try their famous egg tarts - similar to Pastel de natas but instead using English custard. I’d recommend visiting their original store in in Coloane where they’ve been baking these since 1989.. @macaouk - #Macao #Ad A post shared by Food Feels (@food_feels) on Sep 24, 2018 at 4:53am PDT Ahh, there’s a small pizza, I mean, problem. Sorry. I have been scrolling through James Thompson’s @food_feels account to get some pizza, I mean, inspiration (sorry!) for this pizza, oh God, I mean, piece. And now, as you might have guessed, I am a little pizza. ARGH! I’m distracted. I am a little DIS.TRAC.TED.   Thompson, an Aussie based in London, is (at time of writing) in Italy. Prior to Italy, he was in France. Before France, he was in Denmark. Previous to Denmark, he was in Portugal. Thompson’s accompanying #foodie photos are delicious. Let him whisk you away on a culinary adventure.
The must-see sights of Galapagos National Park
There’s a spot in the Pacific Ocean that holds a special significance to anyone with a deep appreciation for the natural world, discovers Daniel Down. If Charles Darwin hadn’t observed the unique wildlife of the Galápagos, namely its famous finches, and made deductions that helped him formulate his great theory of evolution by natural selection, we’d still be ambling around saying how incredible it is that all life was created 6000 years ago by an omnipotent being. [caption id="attachment_44555" align="alignleft" width="1000"] paradies galapagos[/caption] Besides making a scientific pilgrimage to the islands, you should go to see their otherworldly landscapes and abundant endemic wildlife.   To get there, catch a flight from the Ecuadorian capital Quito to Baltra Airport just off Santa Cruz; stay at Red Mangrove Eco Lodge in Puerto Ayora, for example, and organise a tour through the lodge, or book a cruise with transfers straight to your boat from the airport.   Incorporate just a few of the ideas into your itinerary to witness the great natural wonders of the Galápagos National Park, and indeed, the world. El Chato – Giant Tortoise Reserve You’ll need a guide to enter this part of the national park that’s been set aside for the Galápagos’ most iconic animal, the giant tortoise.   Weighing up to almost half a tonne these magnificent, ancient beasts do what they have been doing for millions of years in the wild, namely extending their long necks very slowly to nibble on grass; a captivating experience that you’ll take an unnecessary number of photos of. Snorkel León Dormido With 150-metre-high buttresses of rock rising out of the ocean, the sight of León Dormido alone is worth making the trip out to this remote spot off the coast of Isla de San Cristóbal. But you should also come to snorkel with eagle rays, hammerhead sharks and turtles. Climb Volcán Alcedo You feel like you could be on an alien planet on the slopes of Alcedo Volcano. Emerging from the heart of Isla Isabela, take a guided walk to see big groups of giant tortoises sitting in pools in a landscape of craters, ancient lava flows and fumaroles spewing hot sulphuric gases. Puerto Egas / Las Tintoreras The black igneous rock seems to come alive in another of the archipelago’s most famous sights: that of countless scaly black marine iguanas clinging to a surf-battered shoreline, warming up in the sun before swimming off to dive and graze on algae.   See this endemic lizard at Puerto Egas on Isla Santiago, or catch a boat out to Las Tintoreras (pictured above) off the coast of Puerto Villamil.   Some species of the iguana also sport red blotchy skin and the occasional dollop of turquoise. Tortuga Bay On the central island of Santa Cruz you can hike along a paved, 2.4-kilometre path through the scrub to reach the pristine crescent of white sand at Tortuga Bay.   Here, marine iguanas patrol up and down the beach like miniature dinosaurs. While the main beach is closed for swimming, you can take a dip in a nearby cove, often with reef sharks. Darwin Lake They like naming things after the bearded Victorian here, and Darwin Lake in the shadow of the mighty Darwin Volcano, is a spectacular sight reached via a two-kilometre hike from the shore of Tagus Bay on Isla Isabela.   An old volcano caldera has created this near circular saltwater lagoon, only separated from the sea by a thin sliver of land. The Charles Darwin Research Station Scientists have been using this facility, at Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz, to study and conserve the islands’ unique biodiversity since 1964.   Pay a visit to get hands on with specimens and get up close to giant tortoises at the centre’s breeding program.  
La Paz, Bolivia.
How to spend 48 adventurous hours in La Paz, Bolivia
You’d think the fact that La Paz is a city located at the bottom of a canyon would be its most interesting feature, but trust me it has so many more. The capital city of Bolivia, La Paz encompasses the colourful lifestyle and unique landscape of South America perfectly. The city will leave you in love with Bolivia’s bright and bold culture, and a dose of fresh and crisp air. While travelling across South America, I can honestly say I wasn’t as excited to visit Bolivia as some of the other nations on my itinerary.   La Paz is a city that you don’t really expect too much from and has a reputation of being unsafe, but boy did it prove its worth! It is the highest administrative capital in the world sitting at more than 3500 metres above sea level. With Mt. Illimani as its backdrop, the city’s landscape is nothing like you’ve seen before. The higher you climb, the more stunning the view. [caption id="attachment_44367" align="alignnone" width="600"] Residential neighborhood in La Paz Bolivia[/caption] The rich culture, the unbelievable history, the vibrant atmosphere, the friendly people, the mouth-watering food and the incredible landscape, La Paz has all the characteristics of a must-see city. Although some more northern parts of the city are deemed unsafe due to theft, the majority is full of curious tourists like yourself and a helping hand. Manoeuvring around is quite the adventure, and the best part is, you can do it all in 48 hours. Day one: 7.30am: Death Road Mountain Biking One of the major attractions of La Paz is Yungas Road, also known as Death Road, and you can’t visit the city without giving it a good run. It was built in the 1930s as the only route from La Paz to Coroico, although its narrow, high and sharp turns soon made it a deadly path for travellers.   The only way you should conquer the road these days is with a mountain bike. There are a few different tour groups that offer excursions, though I would highly recommend Gravity Assisted Bolivia. They’re pricey but safe, provide great detail along the way, and the day is organised well. Once breakfast at Cafe Del Mundo is ticked off, you’re in for a long bus ride, hours of mountain biking and a trip to the La Senda Animal Refuge. Price is $174. 10.30pm: Pollos Copacabana Day one is jam-packed and the only way to finish it off is with a good late-night feed. Pollos Copacabana is the most popular fast food restaurant in Bolivia and you must experience its deliciousness. Its burgers are fatty, its chicken is greasy and its plantain chips are the bomb!   [caption id="attachment_44368" align="alignnone" width="600"] Ornate alley in old town La Paz Bolivia.[/caption]  11.30pm: overnight stay After a massive day, you’ll want to hit the sheets for a good night’s sleep before another early morning. My personal hotel recommendations include Hotel Rosario, Stannum Boutique Hotel & Spa or Presidente Hotel. They are clean, conveniently located close to shops and restaurants and have friendly and knowledgeable staff to help with any questions you have.   If you have a bit more energy then you should head straight to Wild Rover Hostel, the number one hostel in La Paz. Its bar is loud, its atmosphere is buzzing and makes for a very fun night meeting fellow travellers. Just don’t go to bed too late! Day two: 9.00am: HB Bronze Cafe South America boasts some incredible coffee. Luckily for you, HB Bronze Cafe recently popped up in the centre of La Paz and stocks some of the most incredible coffee beans from not just SA, but all around the world. Each coffee is brewed and served in its traditional way, so the baristas put on a bit of a show. 11.00am: walking tour I’m a massive fan of walking tours. In La Paz, Red Caps is known for its incredible walk through. They’re informative, quirky and very well organised. Plus, only cost $4! My tour starts at Plaza San Pedro and then continues on through the major markets of La Paz, San Francisco Church, Plaza Murillo and a complimentary drink at Sol y Luna cafe.   The guides are passionate about their city, the nation of Bolivia and, what they admit is, their crazy history. My favourite part of the tour? San Pedro Prison. Second favourite? The incredible chorizo sandwich you’ll down for lunch at the Rodriguez Market. 2.00pm: Cementerio General It sounds a bit funny, visiting a cemetery while on holiday, but you won’t ever see one quite like this. La Paz’s main city cemetery is vibrant and loving. The cemetery is so full that the graves are being stacked on top of each other and the street art on the side is big and bright.   The best time to go would be during Day of the Dead celebrations at the start of November. The best way to get there is by bus and during the day, as it isn’t located in the safest of areas for tourists with pickpockets and gangs lurking at night. 3.30pm – cable cars   [caption id="attachment_44369" align="alignnone" width="600"] Cable car, La Paz.[/caption] One significant feature of La Paz is its cable car system Mi Teleferico. It’s not only the most efficient way to get around the complicated city, but also the most impressive. The view of the canyon is second to none. To make the most of your trip, head on up to El Alto and visit the Flea Market, which is one of the biggest in the country.   Beware though, there are known to be pickpockets throughout this part of the city, so wear your backpack in front and pack away your camera. 5.30pm – Cholita Wrestling Show You can’t leave La Paz without heading to a Cholita Wresting Show. It’s the WWE of Bolivia and is quite the night out! It’s best to book a tour through your hotel as you want to go in a group and with locals. NOTE: Wrestling shows only run on Thursdays and Sundays so time your 48 hours wisely!

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