1. Our readers have always expressed an interest in visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites on their travels, so we are delighted to highlight the 20 newest sites just announced for 2018.
2. Combine the delights of luxury barging vacations in Scotland and Ireland with something new – falconry and birds of prey demonstrations and a chance to get up very close with falcons, hawks, eagles, owls and even vultures!
3. Travel has always been a challenge for people with diabetes. No more! A new series of destination travel guides customized to the nutritional and health care needs of diabetics is changing that, and Travel with a Challenge readers receive a 25% discount on the purchase of each guide for the rest of 2018.
4. An ocean expedition cruise company is partnering with a global ocean conservation organization to ramp up the educational message of what can be done to create healthy oceans as our seas and the wildlife in them are more and more under siege. Join one of these inspiring expeditions.
5. Plan ahead using a new 104-page catalog of worldwide educational “adventures afloat” with dates out to January 2020, including cruises aboard small-ship yachts, expeditionary vessels, riverboats and canal barges. There is even a selection of European riverboat and barge cruises for grandparents and grandchildren.
We invite you to check out our Feature Link of the Month.
Check Travel Golf Guide. Play golf in Algarve.
UNESCO Puts 20 New Sites on its World Heritage List for 2018
Every year, the United Nations’ cultural agency meets to decide which sites around the world will join the ranks of destinations like Yellowstone National Park and the Galápagos Islands on the highly-coveted UNESCO World Heritage List. It currently lists 1,092 heritage sites worldwide. To warrant inclusion, landmarks must be deemed of “outstanding universal value” and fulfill one of 10 criteria categorizing each destination as a location of either unmatched natural beauty or environmental, cultural, or historic significance. In 2018, 20 new sites have been selected for the list by committee representatives from 21 countries. Here are four selections of particular note.
Located in the Wuling mountain range in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, Mount Fanjingshan is home to many plant and animal species that originated between 65 million and two million years ago in the Tertiary period. At an altitude that ranges from 1,640 to 8,431 feet, the isolated mountain range hosts a high degree of biodiversity and endemic species. Within the subtropical forest that is the largest and most contiguous primeval beech forest in the subtropical region, there are many endemic species of animals. The area is considered a Buddhist holy site with hiking trails and small villages for travelers to explore.
Chiribiquete National Park is the largest protected area in Columbia. At the base of the flat-topped mountains that span the region over 75,000 paintings, dating from 20,000 BCE to the present day, are to be seen on the walls of the 60 rock shelters around the bases of the tepuis. Believed to be linked to the worship of the jaguar, a symbol of power and fertility, these paintings depict hunting scenes, battles, dances and ceremonies. The indigenous communities, which are not directly present on the site, consider the region sacred.
Located in the north-western part of Kyushu island, Japan’s Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region consists of ten villages, Hara Castle and a cathedral, built between the 17th and 19th centuries. They reflect the era of prohibition of the Christian faith, as well as the revitalization of Christian communities after the official lifting of prohibition in 1873. These sites bear unique testimony to a cultural tradition nurtured by hidden Christians in the Nagasaki region who secretly transmitted their faith during the period of prohibition from the 17th to the 19th century.
Spain’s Caliphate City of Medina Azahara is an archaeological site of a newly-founded city built in the mid-10th century CE by the western Umayyad dynasty as the seat of the Caliphate of Cordoba. The city was destroyed shortly afterwards, and from that time remained hidden until its rediscovery in the early 20th century CE.
The Caliphate site is a complete urban complex including infrastructure, buildings, decoration and objects of daily use, and provides in-depth knowledge about the material culture of the Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus at the zenith of its splendor. It is a civilization that has now disappeared. In addition, the landscape features which influenced the city’s location are conserved. The hidden character of the site over a long period has contributed to its preservation and it has not been rebuilt or altered in that time. The rediscovery has led to excavation, protection and conservation which has continued for a century, promoted by public institutions.
It is also a good news story that UNESCO has removed Belize’s Barrier Reef from its endangered list in 2018 with the World Heritage committee declaring that Belize’s coral reef system no longer faces “immediate danger from development.” The announcement comes nine years after the reef was added to UNESCO’s endangered list due to the destruction of marine ecosystems by offshore oil extraction and “excessive” unsustainable building projects. Click here to see the full list of 54 endangered sites remaining.
Food for ThoughtThe average adventure traveler is not a 28-year old male, but a 47-year-old female. An increasing portion of solo female travelers are Baby Boomers and single mothers.
European Waterways’ Celtic Cruises in Scotland and Ireland Take Flight with Exclusive Falconry and Birds of Prey Demonstrations
Eagle-eyed European Waterways’ guests will now be treated to impressive demonstrations of the art of falconry as part of the company’s exclusive “insider experiences” on hotel barge cruises aboard the Spirit of Scotland and Scottish Highlander in Scotland and Shannon Princess in Ireland. These demonstrations feature a striking display of aerial acrobatics from birds of prey that include falcons, hawks, eagles, owls, and vultures – set against the backdrop of the Scottish Highlands or the walled gardens of a stately manor in Ireland. Guests are then invited to get “up close and personal” with the birds as they perch and take off from their arms, swooping high above the countryside.
According to Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways, www.europeanwaterways.com, experiential opportunities like these, among many others, are driving record bookings for the company this year. Departures for all three vessels are nearly sold out for 2018, and 2019 departures are already selling fast as customers take advantage of prices that are still at 2018 levels across most of their fleet. Prices start at $4,190 per person or $30,500 for whole boat charters on the Scottish Highlander; $4,450 per person or $44,000 for charters of the Spirit of Scotland; and $4,400 per person or $37,100 for a whole boat charters of the Shannon Princess. All cabin prices are based on double occupancy.
“It’s an incredible experience to watch these amazing birds and interact with them first-hand,” said Banks. “The birds come from all over the world, with many of them on the endangered list. People rarely get to see them in person, let alone interact with them. Our guests leave the demonstrations with a greater appreciation for their unique and magnificent beauty and the importance of ensuring their survival.”
The eight-passenger Scottish Highlander and 12-passenger Spirit of Scotland (one of the newest in the European Waterways fleet) both cruise the Caledonian Canal through the celebrated Highlands of Scotland, past famous castles, historic battlegrounds, and spectacular wildlife, glens and lochs, including Loch Ness, where the falconry demonstrations take place. In addition to a visit to the private Highland Club which is a former 19th century Benedictine Monastery and the birds of prey experience, guests enjoy a tour and private tasting at the Glen Ord whisky distillery, among other excursions.
The hotel barges drift through many of the renowned Scottish lochs, including Dochfour, Ness, Oich, and Lochy. Along the way, guests will also tour Cawdor Castle and gardens, inspiration for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and the Eilean Donan Castle – filming location for the James Bond thriller, The World is Not Enough. The sweeping beauty of the Highlands is a constant source of fascination, punctuated by frequent sightings of the diverse wildlife that calls the region home. Tailored golf, whisky trail, honeymoon, and family charters are also available.
The 10-passenger Shannon Princess cruises the River Shannon through the legends and lore of the Irish countryside. Its panoramic windows look out to the rolling green landscape and ancient Celtic landmarks that include historic ruins, castles and grand estates. The falconry demonstrations take place inside the walled garden of Adare Manor, a magnificent estate on the banks of the River Maigue.
Exclusive tours take guests through Portumna Castle, a carefully restored, semi-fortified castle overlooking the river in the town of Galway, and the legendary 6th century Clonmacnoise ruins, an ancient monastic site that was visited by Pope John Paul II while in Ireland in 1979. Guests will also visit Leap Castle, believed to be haunted due to its violent past, which includes murder, deceit and great treachery amongst its former owners and local clans. The cruise offers an excellent opportunity for fishing and walking and, throughout, a sampling of the “black stuff,” Guinness.
Hotel Barging is a boutique, unique experience which offers an immersive, all-inclusive “gentle voyage of discovery” that focuses upon the culture, history, fine wine and gourmet cuisine of the region. With a 6 to 20 person capacity and 1:2 crew ratio, European Waterways cruises are able to provide an impeccable level of on board service and can transport their guests on the intimate inland waterways throughout Europe that are inaccessible to larger vessels.
This fascinating network of smaller canals allows for flexibility, spontaneity and ample opportunity to hop off and explore the beautiful surroundings via bicycle or on foot. In addition to this there are daily, chauffeured excursions “off the beaten track” to a wide variety of enthralling locations, from exquisite wine tastings to private tours of stately homes. With over 40 years’ experience and a fleet that spans nine countries it is the largest luxury hotel barging company in Europe. Click here for a complete list of current barging specials.
To fully understand and appreciate the barging experience, we recommend two canal barging articles in our Travel Article Library: “Barging Across Scotland” and “Barging in Burgundy”.
Images courtesy of European Waterways.
Growing Series of Travel Guides Encourage People with Diabetes to Travel Safely (receive a 25% discount on any Guide until the end of 2018)
After a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes at age 26, passionate French traveler Laura Pandolfi could not seem to find any quality information on the internet regarding traveling with diabetes. Wanting to tear down the barriers standing in the way of people with either Type 1 or 2 diabetes, Laura decided to abandon her professional career as a human rights lawyer in France to start a new life as the author of the very first travel guides written by and for people with diabetes. She appropriately called her company and website Sweet Trip.
Laura and her partner, Omar Sayyad, have already covered 5 destinations: Paris, Nice – The French Riviera, Lisbon, Mexico, and Cuba, with more city and country destinations on the way by the end of 2018! The guides can be downloaded from the Sweet Trip website right onto a smartphone or tablet with all the information needed to enjoy a safe and healthy trip. Each guide is divided into three chapters representing the three pillars that lead a person with diabetes toward a healthy life:
1. Local food and nutrition: description of each dish, dessert, and drink from the local cuisine, with nutritional information on each ingredient, advice, and a dictionary with phrases and vocabulary to help you customize local food to your personal needs.
2. Health-care system and emergency information: emergency phone numbers, addresses of the most useful medical facilities, hospitals, specialized doctors, laboratories, pharmacies … and a dictionary enabling you to communicate with healthcare professionals even if you aren’t fluent in the local tongue.
3. Active Tourism: walking and biking tours that enable you to visit the city on foot or via bike, leaving you no excuse to skip out on exercising while away from home.
“According to our numbers,” says Laura Pandolfi, “around 50% of senior travelers either are directly affected by diabetes, or know someone who is. Getting information about and access to our travel guides can be really useful to many of them.” More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to a recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report finds that as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans – 9.4 percent of the U.S. population – have diagnosed diabetes.
Sweet Trip is offering Travel with a Challenge readers a 25% discount on any of its travel guides until December 31, 2018. Just use the discount code, TRAVELWATCH, when you make your purchase online.
Air Flight TriviaIn 1936, the German-designed airship Hindenburg provided entertainment in the form of a piano lounge, dining room, smoking room, and bar during the 2½ day flight between Europe and America. In 1937 it exploded and crashed in New Jersey along with this venture into commercial airship travel. Today, talk is heating up about re-launching the airship for 21st century commercial purposes … stay tuned!
Joining Forces to Protect and Restore the World’s Oceans
After nearly a decade of creating exceptional travel experiences together, One Ocean Expeditions (OOE), and global conservation organization, Ocean Wise, have signed a five-year partnership agreement with the intent of expanding their joint educational programs around the world on select OOE voyages. Ocean Wise aims to inspire people in every corner of the planet to participate in creating healthy oceans. Through engagement, education, direct action and research, it is working towards a future where our oceans will once again thrive.
As an industry leader in supporting nationally accredited science programs alongside tourism, OOE provides over 120 days per year on its three vessels to select scientific organizations for scientific research. As its onboard science programs expand, OOE is enhancing its research facilities on board all vessels to provide dedicated space to support the search for ocean debris, microplastics and specimen samples. OOE’s guests are able to engage directly with scientists and participate in the research being conducted.
“The Arctic is changing at an incredible rate,” said John Nightingale, President and CEO of Ocean Wise. “The entire region regularly has record-low monthly sea ice conditions, and Arctic air temperatures continue to rise at double the rate of the global temperature increase. We have been working to understand the impact of these changes on the Arctic Ocean ecosystem, wildlife, and communities for several decades. Our partnership with One Ocean Expeditions, utilizing their ships and support, allows us to further expand our focus on the Arctic. Our researchers, biologists and divers now have even more access to conduct research and explore much more of the Arctic.”
One Ocean Expeditions’ General Manager, Catherine Lawton, stated that “Ocean health and conservation is as much a part of our company’s DNA as education and travel programming. We firmly believe there is only one ocean, and we need to protect it.”
Lawton also noted that the formalization of OOE’s partnership with Ocean Wise would be a major step towards integrating and enhancing OOE’s ocean research capabilities with its one-of-a-kind, customized itineraries.
Among other areas of cooperation, Ocean Wise has started to train OOE shipboard staff to be facilitators in microplastic sampling, significantly enhancing the scale of the research study. For the first time ever this Antarctic season, Ocean Wise was able to sample water below the convergence, 60 degrees south on an OOE voyage. The results from this plastics analysis will feed directly into scientific study of the environmental health of the world’s oceans.
One Ocean Expeditions is a Canadian world leader in expedition cruising. Committed to environmental and social responsibility, it offers passengers personalized marine experiences in some of the most unspoiled and ecologically sensitive places on Earth. With a range of innovative itineraries in Antarctica, The Arctic, Canada’s East Coast, Greenland, Chile, Central America, Scotland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands, the company has earned a reputation for exceptional quality, customer service, industry-leading safety standards, and unparalleled value.
In addition to creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for its guests, One Ocean Expeditions supports environmental awareness and education, world-class scientific research in sensitive ecosystems, historical preservation, and the sustainment of local communities. Click here for more information on OOE’s marine conservation commitment. It is an exclusive marine travel partner of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
Images courtesy of One Ocean Expeditions.
Road Scholar Makes a Big Splash with “Adventures Afloat”
I recently received in my mail box a program catalog highlighting educational travel adventures by specialist, Road Scholar (formerly known as Elderhostel). It draws together in one 104-page colorfully-illustrated, large-format publication all its water-based offerings through to January 2020. At once you realize how rich and diverse the programming of this not-for-profit organization must be to present so many offerings worldwide without even touching on its land-based programs.
Partnering with a series of small-ship yachts, expeditionary vessels, river cruise ships and canal barges, education remains the hallmark of every itinerary. Expect even some ocean cruise lines in the mix if that is more the style of travel that appeals. There are experts carefully selected to guide and lecture, bringing to life every destination, every culture and every period of history as well as memorable wildlife experiences in destinations like Alaska.
Being a grandmother of five myself, I particularly appreciated scheduling of a series of European riverboat and barge cruises that acknowledge the needs and interests of every family member, whether grandparent, parent or child (usually ages 11 years and up) with plenty of hands-on experiences and special field trips. Activity levels range from “Keep the Pace” to “Let’s Go!” so shaping up beforehand is always a good idea whether you are exploring the waterways of France, Italy, Spain or Portugal.
Started more than 40 years ago as a vision for older travelers who were committed to lifelong learning, it began with 220 people enrolled. Today, there are more than 100,000 people a year traveling with Road Scholar, many of them return clients and signing up multiple times a year. Everything is included – admission fees, meals onboard, accommodations, port taxes, gratuities and even extra nights on land before and after most ship voyages. The organization offers 5,500+ in-depth learning expeditions to 150 countries from Albania to Zambia. In this Adventures Afloat catalog alone, find nearly 200 ways to discover the world by ship.
Images courtesy of Road Scholar.
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