Lewa is a large private conservancy in the north of Kenya. It was once a cattle ranch, then a black rhino conservancy and is now a more wide ranging (non-profit) wildlife conservancy which is also spreading the conservancy message to the communities surrounding the park. One of these communities is where the BBC's Mission Africa was filmed.
Lewa cannot compete with the Masai Mara in terms of wildlife but does have large numbers of black rhino and lots of other animals, including the cats. They also have huge numbers of birds.
The guides are fantastic and very committed and, because the park is large but has limited guests, the predators (in particular) are left to get on with their lives without 30 Land Rovers filled with people with huge cameras watching their every move.
We loved every minute of our time at Lewa and missed the silence and feeling of being alone in the landscape when we moved from there to the Masai Mara. I cannot recommend it enough.
Lewa's site is www.lewa.org which includes all the information you need.
Spend a day in Woluwé-Saint-Pierre, a beautiful residential area and home to Woluwe Park. The streets surrounding the park are some of the prettiest in Brussels.
From central Brussels, take the metro to Montgomery and walk down Av. Tervueren. Turn in to Av. Jules de Trooz and stop to pick up lunch at the Patisserie Goossens.
The park contains giant sequoias, and cypresses. Visit the church, Saint Peter; built in 1755, it still contains parts of an older building over which it was built. Off the tourist track, the park is worth a visit at any time of year.
They are only a short drive to the west of Auckland, and are staggeringly beautiful forest-clad hills leading down to black sand beaches that stretch for miles.
There are walks from the short nature trail at the Arataki Visitor Centre, to longer tramps. If that's not enough, the market at Titirangi is recommended for arts and crafts and good coffee - as a bonus if you miss the market!
Amsterdam is a 24 hour hedonist’s dream. However, tucked away in the south of the city is Vondel Park. This perfect urban paradise is where the average Amsterdamer comes to play and relax. It is so much part of the every day life of the city that many tourists miss out on it. So go – but be very careful of the cyclists on the way, they make London courier bikes look slow in comparison.
South of the city
If the rough sides of Amsterdam are wearing you down, why not visit Vondelpark. Vondelpark is a public park within walking distance of the coffee shops and bars of the red-light district and will give you a chance to clear your mind and find a bit of tranquility before diving back into the hurly-burly that Amsterdam has on offer.
It's location is south of Leidseplein, near to the Rijksmuseum. In June, July and August there are free concerts and open-air theatre performances and on Wednesday afternoons in summer there are free children's performances.
Green idyll below the bustle of the city centre. Benches, nooks and little havens for reading and relaxing, and the greenhouses for when the weather's not so friendly.
Good tablet in the shop at the main gate too.
Queen Mother's memorial is spectacularly kitsch - walk into the little stone hut and look up. You'll wonder why anybody thought that was a good idea...
No visit to Edinburgh is complete without a visit to the top of Arthur's Seat - the large volcanic hill in the centre of town.
The views are amazing. Sturdy shoes are a must.
While there make sure you go on a pilgrimage to Hutton's section, the place where one of the great heroes of the enlightenment, geologist James Hutton, deduced in the 18th century that the world must in fact be millions of years old: "there is no vestige of a beginning nor prospect of an end".
A 50m, heated, outdoor pool, near to Victoria Park and Hackney central. London Fields Lido has been renovated and is now open!
It is operated by GLL so facilities are spartan but it is fab and clean. Entry is less than £4 and the pool is open from 6.30am (mon-fri) or 8am to 8pm.
Lockers are poolside (20p) and changing rooms and showers are inside and out. There is also sunbathing space around the pool.
It is a blissful place to plough up and down: no gimmicky wave machines or even inflatables here.
Be aware, though, that if it really really rains, then you will be thrown out of the pool as visibility is reduced.
Sad irony that London summers mean that it is too wet to swim.
It's a cafe in the middle of Regent's Park's playing fields. So a good place to watch people wearing themselves out whilst you sip on hot chocolate. But also, it has changing rooms, lockers (£1 returnable) and showers (£1.50) which you can use after a run round the park. Plus a schedule of gym classes. Slightly chaotic but all the nicer for it.
Le Marche's hills roll in from the Adriatic and reach the Sibillini mountains. A national park has been created to protect this awesome high section of the Appenines and its flora and fauna which includes wolves, golden eagles, wild boar and porcupines.
In Spring the area is carpeted in a rainbow of wild flowers. In summer you can swim or eat at tavernas round the shore of a lake; walk through cool gorges that dissect the mountains; and cycle or walk the paths that cross the ridges at 2,000m.
There are an abundance of fascinating medieval hill towns with museums and great ristorante serving up great value meals.
A great base for the area is Sarnano; which has 20 ristorante, a ski resort nearby, a variety of bars and stunning views.
Sarnano is in Macerata region of Le Marche and can be reached via Ancona and Pescara airports.
The stunning Las Islas Cies in Galicia is an uninhabited and pristine national park with loads of wildlife and a perfect crescent of soft pale sand, backed by small dunes sheltering a calm lagoon of crystal-clear (but freezing) sea.
The water is turquoise and the sand fine and white.
The only place to stay on the island is an idyllic campsite shaded by pine trees. It has a decent shop, bar and cafe and, this being Spain, even a proper restaurant that serves great seafood.
The park is open to the public only in summer.
00 34 986 43 83 58, campingislascies.com, open Easter week and June to September.
This is a fantastic London institution. In the centre of Regent's Park it is a little piece of magic. You enter through a small gate and the softly draped fairy lights around the bar, the smell of barbecued meat and the excited buzz of over 1,000 fellow attendees makes for a really exciting night. Many start with a picnic on the lawns outside in the park which is a fab way to feel really summery. Tickets start from ten pounds. Every year performances include Midsummer Night's Dream, a children's play and something contemporary (this year it is the Boyfriend). It also stages comedy nights and concerts on Sundays. Comedy Store Players is fantastic but sells out quickly every year. It is a completely unpretentious night out, you can take wine and crisps etc. into the auditorium. Advise that you also take warm clothes and possibly waterproofs, depending on the weather!
Regents Park, 10 minutes walk from Baker Street tube.
In Sicily there are three big natural areas and other little ones.
The first one in the Etna Park. Mount Etna is not only a volcano - it also has a lot of paths and trekking opportunities. The best ones are the excursions on the summit craters on the south side starting from Rifugio Sapienza in Nicolosi (Catania).
The second park is the Nebrodi Mounts. This is between Messina and Catania. This park is full of forests the most known is the "Bosco di Malabotta". The park is a little less accessible so it's advised to use a four-wheel drive vehicle and take a good map.
The latest park is the park of the Alcantara river. This is a river formed in a lava eruption thousand years ago. The river is walkable.
Etna Park - Nicolosi (Catania)
Nebrodi Park - Between Messina and Catania
Alcantara River - Near Francavilla di Sicilia (Very near to Taormina)
The nearest station for Etna Park is the Circumetnea. From here, a rail road goes around Etna and its villages. You can take it in the Catania central railways station (Piazza della Repubblica) or in the Station of Giarre if you come from Messina by train.
More info here:
If you are a birdwatcher, you will love Central Park. There is a 37-acre area called The Ramble (just south of the Belvedere, shown on the maps on signposts and free from Central Park information booths), full of wildlife.
Take binoculars and a camera, and try to find a stream as this is where the birds feed and bathe.
Only starlings and sparrows will be familiar to Europeans.
Bird books are available from Borders etc., otherwise you won't know what you're seeing. We enjoyed it for three hours and never made it to the Met that day!
More info from the park Conservancy office in the Belvedere.
Central Park, roughly at 76th St level
One of best things about Valencia is the empty riverbed of the Turia, which has been turned into an 8km-long, twisting park through the middle of the city, with a lagoon, gardens and playing fields plus the amazing City of Arts and Sciences, an architectural wonderland.
You can cycle from the old town and through cycle paths in the park and on to the revamped port, seeing everything in half a day. Hire bikes (including tandems) at Cycletour, next to the fab Gulliver’s playground in the park, or in town at the excellent Orange bikes.
Orange Bikes Santa Teresa 8, Valencia (0034 96 391 7551, orangebikes.net).
This unique sculpture park is the life work of the sculptor Gustav Vigeland. There are more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and cast iron set in beautiful park land close to the City. A monumental artistic collection with a human message. Excellent cafe too.
The park is open all year. Easy to reach - 20 minutes from the city centre by Tram.
Postal address: 0268 Oslo
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