Thursday, July 8, 2010

Great Deal to Fiji

I put together this package to help out a friend, and well, I've never been very good at keeping my mouth shut. When you add on the fact that KIDS FLY FREE to Fiji, this is an excellent way to get the whole family on vacation. 

3 WEEKS IN FIJI - $2499 pp Includes
5 Nights at Paradise Taveuni
On arrival you will be greeted with a flower necklace, fruit platter, and foot massage. Your 5 nights will include all meals, a 30-minute massage per person, accommodation in a tropical bure, snorkel gear, and a variety of complimentary resort activities. From Paradise, you can access Bouma National Heritage Park for waterfall hiking and many other activities.
7 Nights at Wananavu Beach Resort
On the northern edge of Viti Levu sits one of the best value beach resorts in Fiji. The resort's recent upgrade to 4-star accommodations certainly isn't reflected in its pricing. 7 nights at Wananavu includes all meals, accommodation in a garden bure, access to resort facilities and a variety of complimentary activities.

7 Nights at Nanuya Island Resort
Nestled within the western island chain of the Yasawas, Nanuya Island Resort is an excellent beach finale with plenty of activities as well. The 7 nights includes accommodation in a garden bure, continental breakfast, and a variety of complimentary resort activites plus additional tours.

Includes domestic flight, scenic ferry ride to the Yasawa Islands, all land transfers, accommodations, and meals as specified above. Each property has its own signature style with a variety of activities to choose from including fishing, diving, cave tours, waterfall hiking, horseback riding, snorkeling safaris, jet skiing, and more. This is an incredible deal, but availability goes quickly, so contact us at 1-888-SNORKEL to learn more.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Adventures in Paradise - Belize's Untold Treasures

I gazed out the window of the small plane as we departed Belize City. The constant humming of the propellers drowned out all other sounds and I became entranced by the rhythmic pattern of villages, cropland, and jungle. As we approached the Boden Creek Ecological Preserve’s private airstrip, the large patches of charred land from slash and burn farming were replaced with dense jungle. We touched down on a strip of pavement surrounded by a lake and lush vegetation as birds greeted us in chorus. We had been transported into the project of Ken Karas, who has taken on the responsibility of protecting 60,000 acres of wilderness surrounded by 1.2 million acres of nationally protected land. Together they form a critical link in the Mesoamerican Corridor for wildlife to travel freely and serves as the last refuge for Jaguar in the Americas.


Herons, swallowtails, Yellow-breasted orioles, and Rufus hummingbirds are just a sample of the variety of birds that claim residence in the open trees that surround the lake, but with just a few miles down a gravel path the scenery changed to dense forest where howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and a variety of bat species dominated the jungle. The most awe-inspiring creatures at Ballum Na, though, are the brothers Bosh and Chupi. It doesn’t take long to realize why the name of the lodge means “House of the Jaguar.” Ken rescued the two cubs from Mexico and created a habitat for them enshrouded by the lodge itself. A wrap-around walkway and master suite offer intimate views into their home. Bosh and Chupi are Ken’s messengers of conservation to school groups and guests of the lodge who not only profit from the company of these magnificent creatures but also contribute to the preservation of their natural habitat with their presence. Inside the lodge, warm woods and soft lighting create an earthy and elegant atmosphere. The rooftop veranda reaches above the canopy with views of the seven hills mentioned by Christopher Columbus in his journals and the Mayan ruins of Nim Li Punit. There is no other man-made structure as far as the eye can see.
Days at Ballum Na were spent bike riding, discovering the source of the Blue Creek deep inside a stalactite-filled cave, visiting the bird sanctuary, and exploring the Mayan ruins of Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun. Our next stop was Jungle Camp in the heart of the preserve, which can only be accessed by a 2 hour canoe or kayak trip along Golden Stream. We paddled our way through the jungle as our guide pointed out flora and fauna including a boa constrictor, bats, and duck flowers.

As we curved around the river bend, a multi-story lodge stood on the river’s edge, welcoming us to our home for the evening. In the heart of the untamed Belizean jungle we found ourselves enjoying elegant five-course meals, overstuffed sofas, and romantic rooms with canopy beds and private verandas that overlooked the river. Our morning was spent exploring the jungle by foot with a Mayan guide who explained the medicinal properties of otherwise unassuming tropical plants. The giant Ceiba tree at the river’s edge holds a steel canopy where guests can view birds and other wildlife and they will soon be adding a zip line to the fun. The large electric pontoon carried us away from Jungle Camp along the placid river and towards the coast. We watched the vegetation change to dense mangroves as the salt water from the Caribbean Sea entwined with the freshwater of the river. Kingfishers darted above the water's surface as an eagle flew away with a lizard in its talons and the manatees and crocodiles eluded us inside the dense mangroves. 

Soon the river opened to turquoise waters and tiny islands dotted the horizon. We cruised over the clear aquamarine saltwater as the seven hills on the mainland grew smaller in the distance. It was hard to believe we had begun our journey on the opposite side of the hills just days before. Breeze, our Belizean boat captain originally from Caye Caulker, pointed the vessel towards an approaching palm-studded island and soon we were able to distinguish the thatched roofs of overwater bungalows. The staff who had accompanied us at Ballum Na and Jungle Camp anticipated our arrival with a frozen beverage, cold hand towel, and warm smile at the dock.

The ½ mile-long Moho Caye remains the only commercial property in the entire Port Honduras Marine Reserve. It is an island frozen in time where shards of ancient Mayan pottery wash ashore from the days of flourishing pre-Columbian trade. Even the most active individual will be lulled into an entrancing rhythm of waves colliding with the shore, frigates soaring overhead in search of fresh fish, and stingrays gliding above the grassy seafloor. Days are spent snorkeling a small shipwreck just offshore, kayaking, fishing, and relaxing on the beach. Excursions include guided snorkel trips to the world’s second largest barrier reef, exploring Snake Caye and the mangroves, or visiting nearby Punta Gorda for a chocolate factory tour. Visitors are likely to discover, though, that despite their best intentions, the fresh salty air and warm sun can easily drown their motivations.

This trans-habitat experience offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy first-class service and elegant accommodations where all-inclusive means no worrying about meals, excursions, alchohol, or even tipping. Instead, visitors can absorb the messages quietly sewn into a trilogy that exposes the secrets of the Mayan civilization, the untamed depths of the Belizean jungle, and the romance of Caribbean. It is a story that conveys the importance of preserving the historical, cultural, and natural treasures of Belize and our world while the seven hills stand as a constant reminder throughout the journey of nature withstanding the test of time and serving as witness to the choices of humanity.

If you are interested in learning more about this experience or others like it, contact Great Expeditions today at 1-888-SNORKEL or

Friday, April 2, 2010

World's Rarest Rhino Return to Africa

On December 20, 2009 four of the last eight northern white rhinos in the world were moved from captivity in the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic to the wild yet protected Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia, Kenya.

These creatures used to roam wild across Uganda, Chad, Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo but their numbers were decimated to the brink of extinction. They are the most critically endangered rhino subspecies and the most endangered mammal in the world.

According to Gamewatchers Safaris, Sudan, Suni, Fatu, and Najin are adjusting to their new home and have been seen wallowing in the mud, eating, and running around like a rhino should. All four have been fitted with radio transmitters and guests of the conservancy will be able to visit them beginning in April.

Fortunately, this news comes at an excellent time to receive a 10% discount on safari during the summer and migration season. Bookings by April 15th will receive the discount to experience safari in the first private conservancy in the Mara ecosystem and the new home of the northern white rhino complete with authentic luxury camps, Maasai warrior guides, delicious meals, sundowners from scenic vistas, and world-class game viewing from 4x4 safari vehicles. Great Expeditions can arrange your entire adventure, so contact us to learn more.

Click Here to Learn More About Porini Camps

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Discovering Confucius

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” - Confucius

As we sat drinking our tea and enjoying the company of visitors who traveled half way across the planet to find themselves in Hygiene, Colorado, we discussed the excitement of experiencing something new and different when traveling. For our guests from Fiji and South Africa, it was the snow that covered the ground and capped the mountain peaks just outside our office windows that excited them. To see the beauty of home through their eyes rejuvenated our appreciation for a landscape that we see every day—an appropriate moment to share with guests who truly understand the power of travel as a way to connect and learn.

Richard and Stuart—originally from England and Scotland—came from Matava Eco Lodge on Fiji's island of Kadavu while Warren and Jan—both natives to South Africa—represented Sabi Sabi in the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve of South Africa. As distant and different as these two properties are, they share a similar message of environmental ethics, connecting with the locals, and slowing the pace to truly experience the destination. Both Matava and Sabi Sabi have begun new cultural travel tours that not only give guests the opportunity to meet and interact with the local village but offer activities that allow a slower pace to absorb the beauty of the surrounding environment.

Matava's sea kayaking adventure begins with a guided kayak trip from the resort to one of the island villages, pausing along the way for some snorkeling and packed lunch on a secluded sandy beach. Sea kayaking is a perfect way to explore the road-less island, and with no motor the kayakers can fill their ears with the sounds of waves slapping the shores and birds in the trees. Upon arrival at the village, visitors present their “sevu sevu,” a gift of a bundle of Kava root and receive a traditional welcome from the village chief and elders. An afternoon exploring the hills with a local guide introduces sights of historic interest as well as hidden waterfalls to cool off before heading to the village for dinner and kava ceremony for storytelling from the village elders. Spending the night with a local family solidifies the bond as an extended member of the community, and after a good night's sleep and hearty breakfast guests return to Matava with memories to last a lifetime.

Sabi Sabi's community visit introduces visitors to the local Shangaan culture and the home of most of Sabi Sabi's staff. Elders and residents have opened their village to the tour, and welcome visitors for an authentic view on Shangaan life. The tour includes a visit to the pre-school, the sangoma (herbalist), Swa-Vana care center, and a finale under the Marula tree outside the Induna's (Chief's) house for a performance by their choir and drummers. A long walking safari complements this activity perfectly and can be organized so that guests get to stay in two of Sabi Sabi's distinctive lodges that further tell the history of safari and community in the Sabi Sands. To connect with the community, to touch the grasses between your fingers, to hear the sounds of the bush with no motor is to truly utilize all of your senses in your travels and there will be no doubt that you were there.

To learn more about travel to South Africa and Fiji or cultural travels to many of our other destinations, please contact us us or visit our website. We have endless stories to share and unique adventures to create.