A Majestic Tour of the Emerald Isle

Ireland Tours.jpg

Majestic Ireland

Her crashing coastline, sky-piercing mountains, glacial lakes, sleepy surf towns and characterful castles set the stage for your own personal Emerald Isle production with your very own tour company. Enter: Wilderness Ireland’s new collection of adventure vacations. Designed by locals and delivered by local legends, the seven trips are said to “bring travelers closer to the source of where adventure meets fantasy and where fiction comes to life.” Works for us. Oh, and get this… the rock pinnacles of the Skellig Islands will feature prominently in Rogue One, the latest Star Wars flick for those who want to geek out and get a Star Wars location scout visit. Oh, and for Game of Thrones fans, the small village along the Causeway Coastal Route is better known as the location for Game of Thrones’ Iron Island. The best part? A favorable exchange rate and countless flight options makes it the perfect time to experience Ireland’s wild landscapes and enchanting history.

Here’s our latest eco-adventuring pick for Ireland’s fair sights:

Wilderness Ireland’s new small-group tours debut in Spring 2017

  • Hiking and Island Hopping Cork and Kerry: On foot and by boat, travelers discover Kerry and Cork, exploring the wildest corners of the striking southwest where tales of pirate invasions were born and ancient Neolithic sites are scattered across the land. Amongst many highlights is the climb up the bare rock steps of the UNESCO World Heritage site Skellig Michael. The Skellig Islands were home to Christian monks until the 12th Century and are now a filming location for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII. Travelers might also spot whales, puffins, dolphins, seals and sharks from the coastal trails.
  • Hiking the Causeway Coastal Route & Donegal: The Causeway Coastal Route is home to rolling mountains awash with local legends and myths, the highest sea cliffs in Europe and remote lodges dishing out fresh seafood from the Atlantic. From the most northerly point of Ireland at Malin Head, hikers can look across the windswept landscapes and its ancient archaeological remains, before the ascent up Mount Errigal to Glenveagh castle. Guests traverse the Pilgrim’s Path, a route once used for Christian pilgrimage, to meet with a local tweed-maker still practicing his craft on a traditional handloom.
  • Cycling and Yoga Escape: Each day begins with a gentle yoga session to help cyclists prepare for their two-wheel journey in the peaceful north-west. From laidback surfing villages to wild mountain ranges and historic pubs overlooking the Atlantic, this bike tour has it all. Travelers cycle through the charming Irish countryside and across glaciated valleys to ancient castles.
  • Hiking the Ring of Kerry Mountains: Hikers summit some of Ireland’s highest peaks in Killarney National Park, Corrán Tuathail and Mount Brandon, and take lost pilgrimage paths along the sea cliff’s edge to white sandy beaches. Travelers uncover the legend of Cú Chulainn and the giant as they explore the stories of the Dingle Peninsula. Evenings are enjoyed in cozy inns with traditional live music and the finest local fare.

Hiking the Mountains of Connemara and Mayo: Following in the footsteps of Saint Patrick, hikers will conquer three of the highest mountains in the west of Ireland. Guests explore the spectacular mountain and bog wilderness of Connemara, home to Ireland’s only true fjord, Killary Harbour. Watching wild dolphins play in the nearby surf makes the Mayo Coastal Trek one of Ireland’s most memorable.

  • Bike Tour – Connemara and the Aran Islands: The westernmost regions of Ireland have their own distinct culture and traditions. Places such as the Aran Islands are the last bastion of the Irish Gaelic language. Back on the mainland, in The Burren National Park, ancient tombs, friendly farming communities, and cozy pubs are natural complements to the exhilaration of riding through this majestic landscape.
  • Hiking the Burren, Aran Islands and Connemara: The limestone landscape of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher are blanketed in colourful wildflowers in summer. Travelers follow the winding paths of the Aran Islands to visit Europe’s most important prehistoric sites and enjoy outstanding views of Galway Bay, Connemara and Black Head.

WildernessIreland.com

8 “Bro-Cations” for Adventurous Guys

Guys Fishing Trips Ponoi River

Check out the size of this catch on the Ponoi River in the Russian Arctic (c) Frontiers Travel

With golf’s popularity steadily in decline (although my colleague would disagree as he’s single handedly keeping it alive) and saloons & barber shops no longer the male refuge of choice (for shame!!), many guys are turning to adventure travel to bond with their buddies. A growing number of men are participating in “Bro-Cations” that are all about bonding, unwinding, and pushing the limits through engaging and sometimes extreme activities. Gone are the days of sipping umbrella drinks and lounging by the pool. So, check out some of our favorite “Bro-Cations” for adventurous guys.

8 “Bro-Cations” for Adventurous Guys

amazing guys trips Land Rover Tours

Nothing sexier than a Land Rover Tour through the Silk Road (c) Mir Corp

1. Drive a Land Rover across Exotic Lands – Since MIR Corporation’s inception in 1986 they have been creating custom overland adventures. These self-drive tours often involve groups of buddies piloting Land Rovers, motorcycles or even vintage automobiles across the rolling steppe of Mongolia, through the charming towns and villages of Siberia, or even along The Silk Road. These journeys are momentous, unforgettable and limited only by one’s own imagination.

http://www.mircorp.com/about-mir/mir-clients/overland-expeditions/

2. Fish Remote Russian Wilderness – Ryabaga Camp on the Ponoi River is located above the Arctic Circle and accessed via a 2 hour Mi-8 helicopter ride across remote Russian tundra. A totally wild Atlantic salmon population thrives in the Ponoi River. Anglers enjoy single occupancy cabins with gourmet food and fine wine. Frontiers International Travel arranges everything, including flights, activities, and visas.

http://www.frontierstravel.com/ryabaga-camp-the-ponoi-river

Mountain Biking South America

Experience some of the best mountain biking in South America

3. Mountain Bike Ecuador’s Cotopaxi National Park – Experience the exhilarating thrill of biking Cotopaxi National Park on this intrepid Ecuadorian bro-cation. Designed for experienced and advanced mountain bikers, this challenging and beautiful itinerary takes bikers through Santa Rita Ecological Reserve, El Tambo Trail, The Road of the Lahars, and down Cotopaxi Volcano. Ride on natural trails in the highlands that pre-date the Incas; swoop down the slopes of Cotopaxi; and enjoy flowing single-track across Andean deserts on this tour of a lifetime.

http://www.adventure-life.com/ecuador/tours/3951/cotopaxi-mountain-biking

trips to greenland

Glacier Trek in Greenland (c) Big Chill Adventure

4. Dogsled and Trek Glaciers in Greenland – Travel to West Greenland to explore and photograph fantastic landscapes of pristine beauty, exotic, arctic wildlife and northern lights. This all-inclusive adventure is a splendid introduction to the highlights of Greenland: calving glaciers, palatial icebergs, dogsledding, wildlife viewing, and trekking the Greenland Ice Sheet.

http://bigchilladventure.com/trips-cat/greenland/

Belgium beer tour

Belgium Beer Rocks!

5. Belgium Beer Bike Tour – Biking Belgium is truly a beer-loving cyclist’s dream, as there are 1,130+ beers brewed in country. In addition to Trappist ales and abbey beers, it churns out lagers such as Stella Artois and Jupiler. This unique itinerary offers access to more boutique breweries than any other European bicycle tour.

http://www.ciclismoclassico.com/bike-belgium/

dude ranch city slicker trips

Giddy Up!

6. “City Slicker” Cowboy Weekend – Hike, ride horses, ATV, and play cowboy at Red Reflet Ranch in Wyoming. The ranch is both working ranch and luxury resort where guests are treated like family. Additional activities include guided hikes, dirt bike rides, fly fishing and mountain biking. Guests can explore the 25,000 acre ranch, work cattle, fish on private streams and enjoy abundant wildlife. Gourmet dining includes ingredients from the ranch’s butcher shop, organic greenhouse and gardens. From cattle drives to branding, the true western lifestyle thrives at Red Reflet.

http://www.red-reflet-ranch.net/

Hawaii Cycling Tour

Bike like an Ironman

7. Tackle an Ironman Bike Course – Bike tour operators Ride & Seek and Big Island Bike Tours have partnered to offer a new Hawaii tour on which guests will ride the infamous Ironman Kona bike course, cycle through famous coffee plantations and ride up the world’s largest active volcano Mauna Loa (13,677 ft.). Other highlights include: luxury accommodations, soaking in the heated tide pools of Kapoho, and delicious local cuisine.

http://www.rideandseek.com/kom/hawaii

Visit Amazon Tribe

Visit an Amazon Tribe Deep in the Rainforest of Ecuador

8. Visit Amazon Tribe – Venture deep into the rarely accessed Amazon Rainforest to meet the indigenous Achuar tribe of the Ecuador. Contact with this tribe was only made in the 1970s, and their culture is more intact than most of the world’s tribes. Hike volcanoes, visit remote waterfalls, spot tropical birds and other exotic wildlife, learn about flora & fauna, kayak Amazon waters, and stay at one of the most remote, ecologically responsible ecolodges in the world.

http://gondwanaecotours.com/tour/amazon-rainforest-ecotour/

Ireland: The Wild Atlantic Way with Vagabond Adventure Tours

Vagabond Tours

Vagabond Tours

The Wild Atlantic Way… we’d never heard about this rugged beautiful place before, but, apparently, it’s the longest defined coastal touring route in the world, embracing Ireland’s wild West Coast landscape, ancient monuments, and historical sites. This stunning route twists and turns for 1,600 miles along an undulating coastline from the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork. The Wild Atlantic Way is not just a driving route, it’s an invitation to adventure.

With countless ways to explore it by sea kayaking, hiking, mountain biking and even surfing, we wanted to introduce our readers to Vagabond Adventure Tours of Ireland makes it all accessible, thanks to their smartly planned multi-sport scheduled trips that take adventurous travelers to these authentic, off-the-beaten path areas along the route. In operation since 2002, Vagabond was founded by Rob & Amy Rankin after traveling extensively through Southern Africa. Impressed by the classic African travel modes of safari and overland tours, they decided to bring the concept to Ireland. They established Driftwood Irish Journeys of Discovery in 2011 as a division of Vagabond to offer trips for more leisurely travelers. We can dig that since we love leisure.

Surfing in Ireland with Vagabond Tours (because... why not?)

Surfing in Ireland with Vagabond Tours (because… why not?)

Utilizing custom-designed Land Rovers that take no more than 13 passengers, Vagabond trips explore an area in depth with daily adventures. One day, it might be sea kayaking in sheltered waters off the coast of Cork, while another day its horseback riding along a beach in Kerry. Nightly stays are in coastal villages and towns, in locally-owned guesthouses and small hotels.

One of Vagabond’s classic Wild Atlantic Way journeys is their World Tour of Ireland. Focused on the southwest and counties Kerry and Cork, this seven-day trip includes sea kayaking off the Beara Peninsula, horseback riding on the Dingle Peninsula, and mountain biking in Killarney National Park.

The price is $1,340, based on double occupancy, including accommodations and breakfasts.

The Wild Atlantic Way may be Ireland’s best-kept secret and with the dollar at its strongest in 11 years, this is quite possibly the perfect year to discover it.

vagabondtoursofireland.com

Alaska Fishing Lodges: The Lodge at Steamboat Bay

Steamboat Bay

Steamboat Bay

When I was a kid, my father used to take me fishing for rainbow trout. It’s one of my favorite memories to date. The casting of the line, the waiting for a bite, the cleaning of the fish, perhaps my least favorite part, but memorable and at one with nature, nonetheless.

I’ve never been to Alaska, but I do know this. If I go, you bet I’ll be fishing. Steamboat Bay Fishing Club came across our radar when we heard they were expanding their accommodation offerings with the addition of The Residence at Steamboat Bay, available to book for the 2015 summer season. Completed February 2015, the new eight-bedroom manor will join The Lodge at Steamboat Bay, inviting an additional eight guests (increasing the total guest count to 24) to indulge in luxury amenities at the closest lodge to the best fishing in southeast Alaska. The 2015 season (mid-June to mid-August) also brings to the Club a new fishing fleet of custom-built 27’ heated cabin cruisers each equipped with a livewell and dual outboard engines. The new fleet provides guests with an upgraded boating experience, including more deck space, an onboard head, and satellite radio. Sounds like a facing party, doesn’t it? Exclusively located on Noyes Island near Ketchikan, just a 90-minute flight from Seattle, The Residence at Steamboat Bay is adjacent the original Lodge.

A Room at the Residence

A Room at the Residence

Like the Lodge, the Residence features iconic Steamboat Bay styling including Native American artwork and artisan hand-crafted construction using island timbers, local stones and antique materials reclaimed from the island’s original seafood cannery. The new Residence also has something particularly cool: a transparent floor showcasing views of the salmon stream that runs beneath the house! Residential-style oceanfront and forest view accommodations with en-suite bathrooms, a comfortable Great Room featuring a large wood burning fireplace (because you can’t have a lodge without a fireplace), and its own hot tub on the Residence’s spacious deck overlooking the bay are other super fine lodge lovin’ features.

Getting toasty by the fire

Getting toasty by the fire

Guests at The Residence get complete access to the services and amenities at the nearby Lodge, including a made-to-order cocktail reception at the hosted open bar, fine made-to-order Alaskan cuisine, on-site therapeutic massage, bay kayaks, a sauna styled after a traditional Slavic banya, and more. Not bad for a fishing club that hosts novice and experienced anglers alike to enjoy the region’s best-guided salt-water Alaskan sport fishing, while exhilarating in spectacular coastlines and wildlife. This premier location is just minutes from the best fishing spots for trophy-sized wild Alaska King Salmon (Chinook), Silver Salmon (Coho), Halibut, Lingcod, Yelloweye Rockfish and more than 20 other abundant species. To ensure an exclusive experience for guests, Steamboat Bay Fishing Club will reserve booking The Residence for travelers that bring up to eight guests in addition to accommodating sixteen at The Lodge.

I’m hungry now. You too?

www.SteamboatBay.com

Glamping with The Ultimate Travelling Camp

India Glamping

I like a good adventure like the next person, but these days I’m more glamp and less camp. So, whenever I come across a great glamp group, I have to spread the word.

Enter: The Ultimate Travelling Camp which brings glamping to remote parts of India so travelers can safely go places where the infrastructure is inadequate or non-existent.  In fact, it’s the first truly mobile luxury camps in India covering a calendar of destinations and festivals!

Here’s what they offer:

*3 Regions: Ladakh, Adawdh, and Nagaland

*4 Camps: Chamba Camp, Thiksey (Ladakh), Kotwara Camp, Terai and Suheli Camp, Dudhwa (Awadh), and Kohima Camp, Nagaland (Nagaland)

This allows adventurers to experience the many moods of exotic India with its dramatic landscapes, mountains, deserts, jungles and unexplored countryside. Relax in individually designed tents, with en-suite bathrooms, private decks, crisp linen and the services of your very own butler. Enjoy delicious family recipes, hear stories from specialists and guest “travelogists” over fire-lit evenings, and immerse yourself in the magic of India. The Ultimate Travelling Camp can also be customized for special occasions.

So, check out these trips below and tell ’em we sent ya!

Ladakh
June 15 to September 30, 2014

 

Highlights
Watch the sunset from Shanti Stupa overlooking the old city of Leh
Join the monks for a magical early morning prayer ceremony at  Thiksey Monastery
Indulge in a picnic lunch in a picturesque setting
Witness the traditional fanfare of a Ladakhi polo match
tiger
Kotwara: November 15, 2014 to March 31, 2015
Dudhwa: January 1 to March 3, 2015

Highlights for Kotwara
Visit the 400 year old frog temple in Oel
Have a Gala dinner at the Palace of Raja Muzaffar Ali
Enjoy sufi meditation and music
Spend some time viewing Raja Muzaffar Ali’s films
Relish high tea by the lake
Try the famed Awadhi dishes

Highlights for Dudhwa
Search for the one-horned rhino and elusive tiger by jeep and elephant safaris
Visit the local Dudhwa tribe, the ‘Tharus’ and watch them skillfully weave
Enjoy rural music and dance
Explore the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary
Relish a picnic breakfast in the depths of the jungle

india
Nagaland
December 1 to December 7, 2014

Highlights
Revel in the excitement of the
Hornbill Festival watching local tribes performing cultural displays
Watch indigenous games such as ‘chilli eating contests’ and ‘greased bamboo pole climbing’
Have a drink by the campfire followed by a feast skillfully created by our Chef
Listen to rich folklore at Phesema Village
Visit the beautiful Kohima War cemetery

http://www.theultimatetravellingcamp.com/

Retreating to Bali: The Floating Leaf Hotel

The Floating Leaf Hotel, Bali

The Floating Leaf Hotel, Bali

This just in from Asia. The proprietors of a new Balinese property recently reached out to us about an interesting little hotel in Bali called The Bali Floating Leaf Hotel. Described as a “peaceful retreat in a lush oasis in which to nourish, recharge and heal your mind, body and spirit, holistically,” they’ve combined ancient Balinese wisdom with modern convenience and luxury to offer a safe place for relaxation, personal enrichment and wellness.  If you’re looking for a true retreat, they’ve got just the sort of amenities you need; an open air yoga center with views of the Indian Ocean and Mount Agung Volcano, Bali arts and culture, photography, surfing, and an onsite Balinese spa.

A Room at the Floating Leaf

A Room at the Floating Leaf

Guests can look forward to an ultimate relaxation pool complete with waterfalls, hidden meditation areas and more. The grounds also feature an organic permaculture garden (hurrah!), as well as a large kitchen where their private chef will prepare delectable healthy meals, juices, and snacks with locally grown organic nutrient-rich food. And to top it off, world-class surf is steps away!

The Yoga Studio!

The Yoga Studio!

Floating Leaf Eco-Resort is rooted in a deep commitment to Bali’s environment; it’s people, and sustainable tourism so their eco-tourism efforts are aimed at conserving precious natural resources and diverting waste from landfills. They also strive to involve the community in deciding exactly which philanthropic efforts will be of most help and interest to them. Other projects include building water purification facilities, playgrounds, greenhouses and subsidizing local farmers so they can grow nutrient rich foods using traditional and organic methods. As they say in Bali, “Bagus!”

Currently offering soft launch opening prices for individuals and retreats, prices are are as low as $150 a night and some retreats for approximately $1000 for a week-long package.

http://balifloatingleaf.com

Hanging in the Arctic with Canada’s Amazing Inuit

The Inuit of the Arctic

The Inuit of the Arctic

When I talk about the arctic it’s usually in relation to me complaining about how cold it can get in New York City or some frosty metropolitan center. It’s sorta my humorous West coast take on what normal people call ‘seasons’. That said, for those who want to do the arctic well, Canada’s arctic offers visitors a glimpse into a different life; spectacular scenery and wildlife; a sense of timelessness and an experience that will last a lifetime.

We like this brand new tour series called “A Touch of the Arctic”, offered by The Great Canadian Travel Company, because it features the opportunity to spend two, three or four nights in a traditional Inuit community.  This is enough time to explore the area, learn about the cultures of the region, meet local peoples and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of these remote villages.

An Inuit Fishes

An Inuit Fishes

The programs have no organized day tours, although they may be available in the communities (and arranged locally), to allow each participant to customize their own Arctic experience. Accommodation is in the comfortable and welcoming Inns North properties, each owned by the local co-operative. The Inuit communities are not used to many tourists –they are simply home to a small and tightly-knit group who will be happy to talk to you of their lives, their land and their culture. Life in the north runs at its own pace, and operates on a very different wavelength; which is a great part of the fascination of these villages. A tolerance of the northern lifestyle will add immeasurably to the enjoyment of your northern expedition.

An Inuit Hunter

An Inuit Hunter

The communities offered:

Kimmirut lies on the southern coast of Baffin Island and is home to just 400 people. It is a “new” community, first settled in the early 20th century. There is evidence of habitation of the Dorset people from thousands of years ago. Kimmirut prides itself on its warm, friendly people, traditional way of life and indigenous culture.

Qikiqtarjuaq lies at the northern end of Auyuittuq National Park, and means “Big Island”. The area is rich in wildlife, whales, walrus and narwhal, and offers spectacular scenery. Enjoy the walking trails, watch icebergs in the Davis Strait, rock climb or simply enjoy the community of 470 Inuit who call this village their home.

Pond Inlet is one of the major tourist attractions of Baffin Island, and offers visitors ample opportunities for wildlife viewing, including the spectacularly rich birdlife of the region. Local tours may be arranged through the co-op to see the ice floe edge, and learn about the remarkable wildlife of this region.

A Killer Whale spotted in Repulse Bay

A Killer Whale spotted in Repulse Bay

Repulse Bay lies on the Arctic Circle, and visitors to this traditional community will be delighted by the wide bay, the wildlife, the hikes and ancient settlements.  You can take a tour of the Arctic waters of Repulse Bay to look for narwhal, orcas, bowhead whales, seals and possibly polar bears. The community is renowned for its excellent artists, especially for its carvers who work in bone, ivory and stone.

Pangnirtung, an old whaling village, is an iconic destination lying at the southern end of Auyuittuq National Park and has been a favorite for tourists for many years. Pangnirtung has achieved an international reputation for producing high-quality traditional arts, as well as printmaking and weaving. The tour to this community will allow you the chance to enjoy magnificent scenery, and learn some of the history of the people of this fjord village.

Programs are priced from $2427 – $4006, depending on community and length of stay and include round trip air from Ottawa or Winnipeg to the community; 3 nights’ accommodation (4 or 2 nights in Repulse Bay); and all meals. The programs also operate year round.

The Great Canadian Travel Company also offers a 3-day, 2-night trip to Iqaluit, the capital city of Nunavut (population 6,000) for only $1499 per person, including accommodations and round trip air from Ottawa or Montreal.

http://www.greatcanadiantravel.com/canada-nunavut-touch