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Celebrate your special occasion with these recommended holidays
Read time: 11 mins
If you’re planning a holiday for a celebration, maybe a significant birthday, silver wedding anniversary, retirement or even your honeymoon, then here’s just a few of our favourite holidays that are truly exceptional - all perfect for an ultra-special holiday or a romantic getaway that will leave you with the wow factor.
From the Serengeti to Zanzibar
Set in the northern region of Tanzania, it’s hard to beat the Serengeti when it comes to exotic wildlife. While fewer than 100,000 visit this park every year, those who do are likely to be rewarded with sightings of wildebeest, lion, zebra, gazelle, buffalo, zebra and more. Frequently named the best destination in Africa for a safari, between December and July this is where you can witness the wildebeest migration, feeling the vibrations of thundering hooves beneath your feet, with millions of the animals forming one of the most amazing sights on the entire planet. Ngorongoro Crater is often considered the best place on Earth for viewing on the most wildlife in one compact wildlife venue, with practically guaranteed sightings of the Big Five. From the very first mesmerizing sight of the crater and the thrill of the descent down its inner walls, here you’ll get a true sense of what Africa is all about.
Just off the east coast of Africa, the Tanzanian archipelago of Zanzibar offers the chance to combine this bucket list adventure with exotic beaches, culture and history. It’s a land with rare primates, fresh seafood, colourful markets and endless options for activities on the water. Soak up the sun and the sand or enjoy some of the world’s best snorkeling from beaches like Kiwenga. More than 350 various fish species have been recorded here alone, with the deep water attracting some of the giants of the Indian Ocean too, including humpbacks that occasionally come close to shore.
More information and to book: Taste of Tanzania & Zanzibar
Island-hop, snorkel and dive in the spellbinding Seychelles
Probably as close to paradise as it gets, the swoon-worthy Seychelles have the edge over other tropical islands for their ribbons of sugar-white sands, turquoise-tinted waters, palm-fringed jungles, majestic granite cliffs, and spectacular wildlife. Little wonder, then, that the 12-night Sail & Snorkel the Seychelles holiday is such a hit; not least for its well-crafted itinerary that includes a glorious cruise of this remote Indian Ocean archipelago. Starting and ending in Mahé, you’ll spend a chunk of your time on the Motor Yacht Pegasus - a boutique-style vessel with 21 comfortable cabins, a dining room serving local and international dishes (outdoor seating is also available), a lovely lounge area, a cool sundeck, and snorkelling equipment for close-up marine encounters in the calm reef. The rest of the trip takes you to St. Anne Island, Curieuse, Cousin Island, La Digue, Praslin, Felicite, Saint Pierre and Moyenne Island for swimming, sunbathing, and sightseeing. Highlights include visiting world’s most filmed and photographed beach of Anse Source D'Argent and taking an optional tour of the UNESCO-listed Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve - the so-called Garden of Eden that’s home to towering Coco de Mer trees.
More information and to book: Seychelles Beach Stay & La Digue Dream Cruise
Enjoy pilates, holistic healing and luxe pampering in St. Lucia
Whether it’s preserving your six-pack in the gym or soothing your aching muscles in the Jacuzzi, fewer places in the Caribbean rival the award-winning The BodyHoliday - a five-star resort in the tropical idyll of St. Lucia (located at the island’s northern end overlooking the white sands of Cariblue Beach, it’s just a 10-minute drive from Rodney Bay Village). On the accommodation front, all of the guest rooms and suites assure stylish decor; think hardwood furniture, turquoise and pale-blue accents, four-poster or king-size beds with a choice of pillows, and fabulous bathrooms with showers or deep-soaking tubs. Elsewhere, you’ll find a dizzying array of holistic and high-intensity sports activities from dusk until dawn; from fitness classes, tennis and watersports to cycling, fencing and golf. There’s also a splendid infinity-edge pool with underwater seating, three restaurants for healthy cuisine, and a relaxed bar for the tinklings of a pianist. Unsurprisingly, the spa facilities are knockout; expect a thalassotherapy pool, yoga decks, Ayurvedic temple, and 47 private rooms for every treatment and therapy imaginable.
More information and to book: BodyHoliday
Whales, bears and more, from the coast to the Rockies in wild British Columbia
British Columbia is home to some of North America’s most impressive mountain and coastal scenery. If outdoor adventure and viewing wildlife like bears and whales appeals, it would be a challenge to find better. Start by taking the Pacific Rim Whales and Bears tour, which includes excursions like cruises, Zodiac boat trips and even scenic flights. Along the way, just some of the creatures you can expect to glimpse include orca whales, humpbacks and black bears. You’ll also get to wander through two of B.C.’s beautiful cities: the capital of Victoria and Vancouver. Continue with an onward adventure in the Canadian Rockies, filled with gem-like lakes, glistening glaciers and dramatic mountain ranges. A scenic drive on the world-famous Icefields Parkway is included, where you’ll witness glaciers before they disappear, get a bird’s-eye view of the landscape from high above on a gondola ride and enjoy all sorts of activities from hiking and biking to paddling.
Take a trip back in time through the music of the American South
Music can evoke some of the best times in life, and if taking a trip to immerse yourself in some of the best of the 1960s and ‘70s tunes, and all the experiences that go with it sound appealing, you may want to embark on The American South tour. As the name belies, this excursion focuses on some of the classic music born of the south, with lots of opportunities for sampling mouth-watering cuisine along the way. You’ll be able to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, get a unique look at the life and career of Johnny Cash with a private performance and talk given by his son John Carter Cash, check out memorabilia from legends like Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn and Garth Brooks, and attend America’s longest-running live radio show, the Grand Ole Opry.
It’s not all about country on this tour, however, with something for just about everyone, including a trip to Graceland, the home of the late Elvis Presley, which now serves as a museum for an in-depth look into the ‘King’s’ life. You’ll visit Sun Studios, the self-acclaimed birthplace of rock and roll, where the first single of the genre was reputedly recorded back in 1951 too. Magnificent plantations and historic sites are on the agenda as well, with visits to Natchez, Mississippi and the classic antebellum home known as Oak Alley before culminating with the numerous tasty treats, including Creole creations, in the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans.
More information and to book: The American South
Experiencing New Zealand, where the mountains meet the sea
As Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.” New Zealand is a true bucket list travel destination, a place where cliffs soar vertically from an azure island-dotted sea, waterfalls plunge down dramatic mountain peaks, and a wealth of outdoor adventure awaits. Cruise the Bay of Islands, a spectacular archipelago with secluded bays and beautiful sandy beaches along with abundant wildlife like penguins, dolphins and whales. Visit the Waimangu Valley, New Zealand’s thermal wonderland with its impressive geysers and hot springs that are sure to mesmerise. Exploring the buried village of Te Wairoa is a must. Destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1886, you can view excavated homes, the ruins of a mill, tourist hotel, and an ancient stone Maori storehouse with archaic figures. New Zealand’s largest city of Auckland is an ideal spot for fine dining, with its iconic Sky tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere offering a revolving restaurant for incredible panoramic views – perfect for toasting to your new life of freedom.
The South Island is all about breathtaking, secluded wilderness with the opportunity to marvel at the Southern Alps, embark on a flight over incredible glaciers like Franz Josef in Westland National Park, learn about picturesque Lake Taupo’s sea monster legend, sail stunning Doubtful Sound and even experience the Glow Worm Caves, famed for their stalactites and stalagmites as well as the presence of glow worms, which simmer like blue and green fairy lights in the dark.
More information and to book: Ultimate Rail, Cruise & Coach Experience
The Best of Asia: Vietnam and Cambodia
If a trip through Asia has been on your mind, Vietnam and Cambodia are especially enchanting, with everything from magnificent temples and colonial architecture to tranquil rice fields and famous Ha Long Bay with its stunning collection of 2,000 karst outcrops. Explore graceful cities like the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, a collage of cultural influences hosting a well-preserved Old Quarter with a maze of streets that are over a thousand year’s old. This open-air museum features historic Asian and French colonial architecture, busy markets and multiple outstanding museums. It also holds the distinction of being the only Southeast Asia city with an embalmed leader on display – the body of Ho Chi Men is preserved here in a mausoleum.
A cruise along the Mekong River is a must for the chance to experience the striking cultural contrast between the tranquility of Cambodia and the bustling delta of Vietnam. The small town of Kratie that lies along the banks of the Mekong, is one of the few places in the world to view the rare Irrawaddy dolphin. Experience authentic Mekong life, take a guided tour in a tuk tuk, visit monasteries, and capture shots of the lush rice fields. While Siem Reap is filled with attractions and provides exciting nightlife options, it’s the sunrises over Angkor Wat that draw so many visitors, with the morning light washing across its temples and ruins, looking as if it’s a gorgeous painting come to life.
More information and to book: Classic Cambodia and Vietnam
Explore over 6,000 kilometres of coastal shoreline in Queensland
From the awe-inspiring underwater world of the 2000-kilometre-long Great Barrier Reef to the ancient World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest, Australia’s state of Queensland has a piece of paradise to suit every couple, especially adventure-lovers seeking big thrills and beach fans who fancy sinking their toes into some of the world’s whitest sand. And while there’s an almost infinite list of things to do here, the 16-day Best of Queensland Self-Drive tour showcases the best bits, including Fraser Island, Hervey Bay, Eurimbula National Park, Cape Hillsborough National Park, Undara National Park, Rainbow Beach, and Mission Beach. Further highlights include joining a Savannah guide on a Volcano Valley tour and a Wildlife at Sunset tour, taking an exclusive drive to the Lighthouse at Double Island Point for 360-degree views across the Pacific Ocean, enjoying an afternoon picnic at Rockhampton Botanic Gardens, and spending time in Ravenshoe (the highest town in Queensland at 920-metres). You’ll also get to explore the Whitsunday Islands, the archipelago that glisten like gems in the waters of the Coral Sea (this cluster of 74 tropical islands is one of the world’s most desirable sailing destinations).
More information and to book: Best of Queensland Self-Drive
Feel buena onda (good vibes) in both Argentina and Chile
For South American adventure on an epic scale, the 10-night Best of Argentina & Chile offers an itinerary-rich tour of two iconic destinations. The fun starts in Buenos Aires, where you can take a tango lesson with a professional teacher at La Ventana Barrrio de Tango - or enjoy a wine tasting session if you prefer. There’s also a five-hour guided city tour that takes in the historic Plaza De Mayo, Casa Rosada, Metropolitan Museum, La Boca area, and La Recoleta Cemetery (the resting place of Eva Perón, the nation’s most famous First Lady). Further highlights include spending a full-day at the incredible Perito Moreno Glacier, driving to the awe-inspiring Torres Del Paine National Park in Patagonia, and marvelling at the wonderful wildlife (including a colony of Gentoo and Magellanic penguins) on Martillo Island. And it’s equally exciting in Chile, especially in Santiago de Chile - the cosmopolitan capital flanked by the Andes to the east and the Chilean Coastal Range to the west. You’ll get to enjoy an immersive half-day tour that starts in the buzzy downtown area and takes you to spots such as the Alameda, Plaza de Armas, Central Market, Mapocho River, Bellavista District, and San Cristobal Hill.
More information and to book: Best of Argentina & Chile
Say konnichiwa to the extraordinary Land of the Rising Sun
There’s an entire generation of forty-something couples who’ll be familiar with Japan’s 80s and 90s technical landscape: think the CD player, blue LED lighting, sing-a-long karaoke booth, Sony Walkman, Anime, and ground-breaking gaming brands such as Play Station and Nintendo. Nowadays, the country’s reputation for next-level gadgetry is still well-deserved, with the likes of Pokémon, Purikura Photo Sticker Booths, and futuristic robot restaurants grabbing headlines. But this amazing land is not restricted to geek-approved gizmos. And while it’s near-impossible to see everything in a single trip, the Land of the Rising Sun tour does a stellar job of introducing you the coolest metropolises in just 12 days. Highlights include Tokyo where you can fuel your passion for Michelin-starred dining and centuries-old performing arts and Kyoto where you can wear out your camera at Buddhist temples, traditional teahouses, and exquisite gardens. Further thrills include admiring sacred shrines in Nikko, visiting the memorial park in Hiroshima, soothing your muscles at an onsen (hot spring) in Hakone, spending the night at a ryokan (traditional inn) in Takayama, and travelling on the needle-nosed shinkansen (bullet train).
More information and to book: Land of the Rising Sun
Check out the flourishing foodie scene in British Columbia
Washed by the Pacific coastline, it comes as no surprise that Canada's westernmost province of British Columbia triumphs when it comes to food and drink; not least because it boasts some of the country’s finest agricultural land, the longest growing climate, and an above-par selection of food festivals, concept restaurants, wineries, microbreweries, and farmers’ markets. So it makes sense that culinary delights are the focus of the 10-night Enjoy BC - Coastal Cuisine flydrive holiday that takes you on a circular route starting in Vancouver, heading up the coast of Vancouver Island, and crossing back to the BC mainland and onto the Sunshine Coast. For foodies, the thrills are limitless, especially in the epic West Coast city of Vancouver where you can tuck into beloved signature dishes such as JapaDog (hotdog with teriyaki sauce, mayo and seaweed), sushi (the BC Roll was invented here), and salmon candy glazed with maple syrup. You’ll also get to spend time in Victoria, the little city with the highest number of restaurants per capita in all of Canada (it shot to fame for its sustainably-sourced dishes made with fresh fish, farm-raised game, grass-fed beef and lamb, and organic cheeses).
More information and to book: Enjoy BC - Coastal Cuisine
Exploring the highlights of exotic Thailand
One of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia, Thailand offers everything from exciting cities with world-class entertainment like Bangkok, a rich culture, mouthwatering cuisine and ancient temples, to exotic river cruises and stunning white beaches edged by warm turquoise waters. If you want to truly experience the diverse offerings this “Land of Smiles,” with some of the world’s friendliest people, you can do it all with no internal flights necessary with the Bangkok, River Kwai & Hua Hin tour that includes an overnight at the unique Float House. Made up of individual floating villas linked by boardwalks, you’ll enjoy air-conditioned privacy and a private deck as well as dining at the floating restaurant which serves tasty Thai cuisine overlooking the River Kwai.
Once you’ve explored Thailand’s capital, including a tuk tuk street food tour, riverboat cruises and overnights in both jungle river camps and luxury boutique hotels, along with that unforgettable night in the Float House, you can look forward to a week at the beach. It offers the ideal mix of relaxation, active pursuits and wildlife encounters. Stay at the Aleenta Hua Hin – Pranburi Resort and Spa, set along an unspoiled, golden stretch of sand, where every residence and villa has its own glorious sunset view. Most include a private pool, garden and rooftop sunbathing area. Guests can also take advantage of the indulgent treatments at the onsite spa as well as top-notch dining at its restaurants which feature a mix of Thai and western dishes.
Watch New England come alive in the summer months
While New England is most famous for its vibrant foliage, brilliant hues and extraordinary leaf-peeping experiences in autumn, the summer tapestry in this northeast corner of the USA is equally worth shouting about; think ocean-backed beaches, interesting wildlife, exciting outdoor adventures, and reliable sunshine. And little beats the 12-day Self-Drive Inn-Side New England tour for grabbing your sunglasses and sat nav (or road map if you’re old school) and hitting the sun-soaked playgrounds of Boston, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, and the New Hampshire Lakes region. Itinerary highlights include marvelling at the Portland Head Light, riding the Cog Railway to the summit of Mount Washington, hiking the trails around White Mountain National Forest, taking the Ben & Jerry’s factory tour, admiring the grand mansions of Newport, and unwinding at Cape Cod - the hook-shaped peninsula where the Kennedys holidayed in the 1960s. Further thrills include Plymouth for its historic sites (Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower, Plimouth Village), Woodstock for its Americana charm, Williamstown for its Clark Art Institute, and Franconia Notch State Park for its Flume Gorge that extends at the base of Mount Liberty.
More information and to book: Self-Drive Inn-Side New England
The best of South Africa
South Africa may best be known as one of the world’s top safari destinations, but it offers a whole lot more. A bucket list spot for many travellers, you may want to start out with a stay at The Marine, a unique bed and breakfast property set in a tranquil oasis that’s ideal for unwinding after a long flight. It overlooks a whale sanctuary, providing some of the best whale watching opportunities around and also hosts two gourmet restaurants, a spa and heated pool.
Now that your refreshed and reenergized, join the Cape Town & The Garden Route tour, which will bring you to many of South Africa’s most popular sights. It includes a tour of Cape Point and the peninsula, visits to the Cape Winelands with its lovely vineyards and homesteads as well as a trip to an ostrich farm. Other highlights include the Congo Caves, one of the top attractions in the country, the largest free-flight bird sanctuary in the world, and Tsitsikamma National Park.
More information and to book: Cape Town & The Garden Route