The Ouseburn Valley is perhaps Newcastle's best-kept secret: family friendly, a stone's throw from the city centre and stuffed full of characterful pubs, music venues, art galleries and culture hubs. It's got Seven Stories - the Centre for Children's Books - next to 36 Lime Street; a rabbit warren of artists' studios next to the Round; a brand new theatre in the round specialising in theatre for young people which is next to the Cluny, Newcastle's famous live music venue.
Up the hill is the Stepney Bank Stables, the City Farm is over the road, there's the anarchist cinema The Star and Shadow nestling up to the ArtWorks Gallery and the Tanners pub.
The river itself winds through the valley, passing most of the sights - a wander along the path next to it is a relaxing way to get your bearings.
The whole area is bursting with fun and unusual activities for all ages. Highly recommended, whether you want to enjoy a nice beer on the Green or spend a whole day exploring the best of Newcastle's culture.
Lime Street is the heart of the regenerated Ouseburn, slap-bang underneath Byker Bridge. Nearest Metro stops are Manors and Byker. Nearest bus stop is St Dominics (cross the road to the Tanners and head down Stepney Bank towards the massive factory chimney). The Q2 Yellow Bus stops at St Anne's Steps, a 5 minute walk from the Ouseburn.
This small Cambodian NGO is where one can go if you want to learn about wildlife, conservation and especially seeing birds in Cambodia. They have partnered with Wildlife Conservation Society and are the conduit to the endangered species found in north-east Cambodia.
The center was created in memory of Sam Veasna, to carry on his work of promoting wildlife conservation and research. It is located in an inviting building, open to the lovely garden, with a library full of resource material, publications for sale and a donation box in the lobby.
The SVC can arrange visits to several remote birding locations where visitors can see such rarities as Giant Ibis, White-shouldered Ibis, Bengal Florican and Sarus Crane, and many other bird species.
If you're broke and can't afford lift passes, a great day spent is skiing up the Going to the Sun road in Glacier National Park.
Remember to keep your water inside your parka and always take emergency gear (space blanket and lots of food). You needn't worry about the grizzly bears because they're asleep but watch out for those crazy mountain goats - they love to play games with skiers. They'll race you down the mountain (and they always win), but on occassion they'll just stop right there in front of you with that silly grin and goatee they wear.
Once I had to thread some rocks to get around one and ended up with a ripped sleeve on one side and goat fur stuck to the velcro on the other.
Just out of Melbourne. The best place in Oz for seeing Australian wildlife. The Healsville Santuary. Worth seeing just for the Tasmanian devil. Afterwards walk down Victoria Street. Richmond for great Vietnamese cuisine.
The Kissane Sheep Farm is a farm, beautifully located next to the Killarney National Park. It's the best way to see a traditional sheep farmer at work, with shearing sheep and sheep dog trials and everything. John and Anneloes are very dedicated to and proud of their work and take lots of time to show visitors around. After the demonstrations you can take a couple of great hikes.
When visiting Bangkok and some other cities in Thailand you may come across the exotic sight of an elephant walking down the city streets. The chances are the mahout (elephant keeper) will sell you bananas to feed the elephant, get the animal to perform a simple trick or charge you to have your photo taken. It is a simple transaction and the sight of an elephant in an urban environment something exciting that will add to your holiday.
However street elephants suffer the most terrible health problems, many are ill and drugged with amphetamines. The street begging is a racket played out at the elephant’s expense.
Please think twice and refuse to give the mahout money. If street begging with elephants stops being profitable it will stop.
If you are visiting Thailand and do want to have an elephant experience there are some much better alternatives. Email email@example.com for more information.
The climb is truly worth it, it's one of the best sunset spots with a 360 degree perfect view from the kites soaring up above you to the Buena Vista of the surrounding waters.
Meditate in the silent ruins on a hill and you may even be lucky enough to spot a peacock.
Take a motorcycle taxi or bus to from Panjim or Mapusa to Chapora beach.
A mobile phone (adequately topped up if pay as you go) is a vital piece of kit for the independent traveller in Jamaica. Signals in even the remotest of places ease co-ordinating taxi journey plans. JUTA Taxis are a quite safe and very reliable mode of travelling, they might seem a bit on the expensive side and journeys on the poor road infrastructure are slow but at least you are contributing directly to the local economy. A journey from Kingston to Forrespark Lodge in Mavis Bank for instance cost about £80 in Feb 2006, and took 2 and a half hours to travel 60 miles, but worth it. Forrespark Lodge is situated on a coffee plantaion with wonderful valley and Blue Mountain views, perfect for sunrises and sunsets. Exotic flora and fauna are a delight and on an early morning bird watching walk you will espy many species. Bring your own G&T for there is no bar, but the verandah is the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail before dinner and observe the tiny Doctor Bird with its' long tail feathers, hover at the sugared water feeder. At dinner, which is al fresco, you may be joined by the large Jamaican Owl, who will sit on the tree branch above your table and hiss. A short stroll along the road is the JABLUM coffee factory where local growers bring their beans for processing. The guided tour is casual but very interesting. Every bean is graded by hand! A calm and picturesque corner of the island well worthwhile at least a two-night stay.
Most tourists to the Cape only stick with the tried and tested routes and experiences. !Khwa ttu is one of the very few GENUINE San Bushmen-led initiatives in southern Africa. It's set on stunning hillside overlooking the coast and Table Mountain and here you can meet the San, learn about hunting, gathering, tracking, take a trailer ride, see all of the amazing game and other animals, go on hikes, enjoy the restaurant or stay in their amazinginly peaceful accommodation (cottage or tents). There is a museum, art gallery, training centre, conference facilities and shop too.
I recommend it because I lived and worked with the San in southern Africa until recently and this is the BEST thing I have seen out there, that really, practically helps the San and teaches tourists about some of the real issues still alive in South Africa today...
What's more it's as cheap as chips if you are coming from Europe!
www.khwattu.org email - firstname.lastname@example.org
It's just 70 km drive north of Cape Town - takes 40 minutes and just a short drive from the historic village of Darling and the beautiful beaches of Yzerfontein.
Huge expanse of grassland with wildlife sightings at every corner. There are lots of local companies in Arusha who'll take you on a bone shaking 4x4 tour. A week is the minimum as there are lots of miles to cover.
Fly to Kilimanjaro international airport and stay in Arusha - about 45 minutes by road.
The penguin parade at Summerland Beach on Phillip Island is a must. OK... so it's a bit touristy, but to be honest you forget that when you sit on the beach waiting for the little penguins to come up onto the sand.
At sunset the anticipation grows and suddenly you see one penguin running tentatively out of the water to check if it's safe. The penguin will run in and out of the water several times until a signal is given... and then thousands of penguins come running up the beach and the cliffs. It lasts a couple of hours - and it's a great sight to see.
There is a visitors' centre there which is OK - and you can buy photos of the penguins as you are not able to take photos of the event itself... unless you happen to find one or two in the carpark like I did. The basic admission is about AUS$17, and you will be there for most of the evening.
Phillip Island is 90 mins drive from Melbourne City. Driving by car is easy, but it is probably easier to join one of the coaches to get there. www.penguins.org.au
Penguin Place is a privately funded penguin reserve which specialises in the preservation of the Yellow-Eyed Penguin. You can book a 2 hour tour through trenches and hides. The trenches and hides mean that you can view this almost extinct species close-up in their natural environment without interfering with, or disturbing them.
One word of advice...dress up warm and wear walking shoes as some of the terrain is a bit rocky.
The Whale Watch Company is run by a Maori sub-tribe and they have won many awards. It is not only phenomenal to see the whales in their natural envionment, but it is also hugely educational.
I saw lots of sperm whales, some killer whales and an albatross...and you are given plenty of time to observe the creatures.
Be warned though - if the weather is not right, the boats don't go out. It's safety first.
Railway Station Road, Kaikoura
Award-winning zoo has very few fences, using natural boundaries and breakers to corral the animals instead. Gives a real feeling of being among the animals instead of peering through bars. Watch out in the butterfly house if you don't like insects landing on you!
Also, try Jurong Bird Park - exotic and beautiful
Easiest way to get there is to take a taxi - plentiful and cheap from downtown or anywhere, really!
Cape Bridgewater, part of the Discovery Bay Coastal Park provides shelter for Victoria's largest colony of seals and just to the east, Bridgewater Bay.
Cape Bridgewater is a headland formed by volcanic action and exposed to all the forces of the ocean. Apart from the seal colony, there are blowholes and 'the petrified' forest to see.
The kiosk on the beach at Bridgewater Bay serves great fish and chips!
18km from Portland in the SW corner of Victoria. Get there via the Great Ocean Rd.
Not usually a fan of zoos but this is definitely the nicest one I have seen. The 2000 animals are mostly kept in natural conditions, with moats rather than bars and cages. The night safari is a highlight, allowing you to see nocturnal animals as well as the others who haven't yet gone to bed!
MRT to Ang Kio station then bus number 138. Cost S$10.30.
Bukit Timah is the only area of primary rainforest left in Singapore. It has jungle treks and nature trails - including one to the highest point in Singapore. Explore the trails off the main summit road to see the amazing flora and fauna including macaques, flying lemurs and pythons. Just keep your belongings hidden away as the macaques are very adept at stealing anything they can get their hands on!
Bus 171 or 182 from Orchard or Stamford Road.
Cowes, main town on Phillip Island. Use it as a base for visiting the penguins or Seal Rock ... or maybe the Phillip Island motor racing circuit, home of the Australian motorcycle GP.
Or while at Cowes, buy the best fish'n'chips and go eat them on the beach!
Cowes, Phillip Island
1½hrs drive from Melbourne
This was an experience that everybody should have in their lifetime. A day trip to see the wild whales and orca in the Canada Straight, leaving from Granville Island is undoubtably the best whale watching experience from Vancouver. The tour encompasses natural whale watching with total respect for the natural habitat of the whales and their co-habitants, harbour seals, sea lions and bald eagles in their natural scenic environment cruising through the gulf islands.
The tour was guided by a naturalist, very knowledgeable about marine life and the area, using underwater hydrophones to capture the noise of the whales in their pods communicating with each other. There were also related books and articles from the National Geographic on board. You get plenty of time to walk around and stand in the back part of the un-enclosed boat and watch the whales and the otherwise unreachable parts of Canada's coastline.
I recommend this tour wholeheartedly. There are many whale watching tours advertised in Vancouver, most of them picturing speedboats with tourists in wetsuit outfits! If your thing is more laid back, to walk about the boat and photograph what you see, appreciate the stunning environment and relax (in your own clothes!) then this is the tour for you.
We were lucky enough to see three pods of whales travelling close to each other, killer whales and sea lions (respecting the regulations of distance of boats by law) and part of the money you pay for the tour goes to the research and protection of these amazing creatures.
My top tips: hats, gloves, a bottle of water and a snack bar for your pocket (you travel a long way out and are gone a few hours), leave the digital camera at home in favour of your old APS film camera (I had much better pictures on that than my mum on her digital camera- the shutter speeds are too slow on digital to capture the best of shots). And on that note, as our guide poignantly pointed out - don't miss what you are seeing because you are watching it through the camera lens. You can download brilliant pictures from the website!
I did this trip with my mum. I am planning to return to Vancouver and would happily do this excursion alone as a single traveller so don't be put off...
Sardinia is mostly famous for its beaches, but it also offers mountains and forests of stunning beauty. The best way to explore Sardinia's hidden gems is by mountain bike.
Just by looking at the map you will realise how wild Sardinia is: you can cycle for hours or days without meeting anybody. Some of the mountains, although not very high, are very tough, ideal if you want a challenge. In any case, you are never too far from the sea, but you will be very far from crowds, cars, etc.
The weather is ideal for cycling: it is never too cold or wet, although it might be too hot in July and August.
One of my favourite places to cycle is the vast forest around Monte Arcosu, west of Cagliari, where there is a WWF reserve protecting, among others, Sardinian deers.
If you want to organise a trip, you can try Ichnusa Bike (www.ichnusabike.it): they will provide assistance for every aspect of your trip (from bike hiring to accommodation).
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