Spain Tour – Explore Moorish Andalucia

14 days ex Seville 11 Oct 2014 – cost $1881pp

Limited places left. Great time to see this beautiful and historic region of Spain. Combines all the highlight cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada, with scenic walks in places of outstanding beauty. Several days spent in the wild mountains of Cazorla, Ronda and Grazalema.

Tour includes 11 nights in standard hotels, 2 nights in a simple hostel, all breakfasts. Small group 10-16 people.

The Highlights of Vietnam + Angkor Wat

Accompanied throughout by MasterChef AU 2012 contestant Mindy Woods

Departure November 15, 2014. From $4,385pp

I am absolutely thrilled to be leading this tour to Vietnam and Cambodia and hope that you will be able to join me on this incredible adventure.

Together we’ll discover the contrasts between fast paced Saigon, and more sedate Hanoi with its gorgeous pockets of old world charm. We’ll spend time on a traditional ‘junk’ cruising picturesque Halong Bay, and I am really looking forward to seeing the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat – once almost impossible to visit.

Best of all, we’ll discover together the amazing flavours , tastes and traditions of Vietnamese cooking which epitomise this incredible country and its culture. A long the way we’ll have the chance to talk of my sensational experience on MasterChef, and all the fabulous things that have happened since.

Yours in the discovery of culture and taste,

Mindy Woods – AU contestant 2012

Culinary Highlights:

  • Visit local houses and sample freshly picked produce
  • Lunch at the Ancient Faifo restaurant
  • Hands on cooking experiences
  • Enjoy the restored royal home – The Tha Om for dinner

Discovery Highlights:

  • Stay in boutique and newly refurbished hotels
  • Visits to Ho Chi Minh, Danang, Hoi An, Hue & more
  • Visits to local markets & fishing villages
  • Overnight cruise on a traditional junk boat in Halong Bay
  • City tour of Ho Chi Minh and Hue
  • Visit to Cu Chi Tunnels

Itinerary in Brief:

Day 1 – Arrive Saigon: A private transfer will be waiting to take you to your hotel. Stay 3 nights at Grand Hotel Saigon (Luxury wing). (N)

Day 2 – Saigon: Meet Mindy Woods, the popular MasterChef contestant from the 2012 series this morning as she joins your tour and you all enjoy a full day’s sightseeing. First, we drive into the countryside to see the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, then return to Saigon for lunch at the Hoa Tuc restaurant.Later, a city tour includes the Notre Dame Cathedral (interior view is only available if a service is not in progress), the Central Post Office, and visits to the former Presidential Palace and the War Remnants Museum with Mindy. Enjoy a welcome dinner hosted by Mindy is set in the restored splendour of the formal dining room of the former US Embassy. (B, L, D)

Day 3 – Saigon: Head into the southern provinces to the Mekong Delta. We board a motor vessel to Turtle Island. Visit a local house, sample freshly picked fruit, and take a walk through a village to gain an insight into rural life. Later, board a sampan with Mindy to traverse the canals en route to our lunch stop before returning to Saigon. (B, L)

Day 4 – To Danang: Transfer to the airport for a flight to Danang. See the unique Song Han Bridge prior to visiting the Dien Hai Rampart. With Mindy, visit to Cham Museum to inspect artefacts from the 2nd to 15th centuries before heading out of town to see the Marble Mountains. Stay two nights at Hoi An Riverside Resort & Spa. (B)

Day 5 – Hoi An: This morning’s sightseeing features this World Heritage-listed ancient town with its well preserved buildings and unique cuisine. See the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation and the colourful market with its silk stalls. Lunch at the Ancient Faifo restaurant hosted by Mindy. (B, L)

Day 6 – Hoi An: Today we feature a hands-on cooking experience hosted by Mindy. We accompany our chef to the local market to learn how to select the best ingredients before heading to a French colonial-style cooking school where we learn how to prepare a meal using typical ingredients from central Vietnam and enjoy it together. (B, L)

Day 7 – To Hue: Drive to Hue today accompanied by Mindy. We visit China Beach on the way, and drive over the magnificent Hai Van Pass to pause for lunch in a fishing village. Later, we explore Hue with a 10 min cyclo-ride to the Imperial Citadel – a UNESCO-listed site. Visit the impressive Thien Mu pagoda with its seven storey tower. Stay overnight at Moonlight Hue Hotel. (B)

Day 8 – Hue – Hanoi: Visit the An Hien garden house with its traditional Vietnamese architecture, and later the former home of Princess Ngoc Son. Following this we have lunch at the Tha Om restored royal home, where a descendent of the royal family will welcome you for lunch in a beautifully furnished dining room. Transfer to the airport for our flight to Hanoi. After settling in to our hotel, we drive to the Nineteen 11 restaurant for dinner hosted by Mindy, which is situated in the grounds of the historic Opera House. After dinner, visit the Dai Nam Theatre to see the “My Village’ show which depicts village life. Stay for 2 nights in the Silk Path Hotel (Premium Deluxe Wing). (B, L,

Day 9 – Hanoi: We discover the national capital on tour today. Visit the Temple of Literature and drive to the Museum of Ethnology to learn about Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups.Afterwards, drive back to the Old Quarter of Hanoi to observe the bustle of everyday life. There’ll be opportunities to sample local fare with Mindy as your culinary host.(B)

Day 10 – To Halong Bay: Drive to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Halong Bay and board a junk. After lunch on board hosted by Mindy, settle into your cabin. Later, visit a fishing village to learn about their lives before returning to the junk. Attend the chef’s cooking class and watch the evening meal being prepared. Stay overnight on aboard. (B, L, D)

Day 11 – To Hanoi: Participate in an early morning Tai Chi class if you wish. Later, explore Sung Sot grotto where stalactites hanging from the ceiling take on numerous shapes and forms. Return to the junk for brunch prior to disembarking and driving back to Hanoi. Dinner will be hosted by Mindy at Hoa Sua restaurant, which is run by a charitable foundation that cares for street children and uses the restaurant to teach them hospitality industry trades. Stay overnight at Silk Path Hotel. (B, D)

Day 12 – Siem Reap: Transfer to the airport for the Vietnam Airlines flight to Siem Reap. Transfer to your hotel on arrival. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Stay three nights at Tara Angkor Hotel. (B)

Day 13 – Siem Reap: This morning visit Angkor Wat, one of the wonders of the modern world. Stroll through the intricately carved hallways and discover small shrines which are still in use today. After lunch visit the picturesque Ta Prohm temple. Later, visit the ancient royal city of the Khmer Empire. (B, L)

Day 14 – Siem Reap: Take a short walk with Mindy through a village to understand local cooking customs before learning to cook three Khmer dishes in a hands-on cooking experience and afterwards enjoy the food you have helped prepare for this farewell lunch hosted by Mindy. Drive into the countryside for a boat ride on Tonle Sap Lake. See the floating schools, markets and police station prior to driving back to Siem Reap. (B, L)

Day 15 – Depart Siem Reap: Today is at leisure prior to the afternoon transfer to the airport for your outgoing flight. (B)

Meal basis: As per itinerary – B: Breakfast, L: Lunch, D: Dinner, N: No meals

To find out more about this adventure, contact Trans Otway Travel on (03) 9600 1482 or email contact@transotwaytravel.com.au

Samoa – New Beach Resort

Saletoga Sands 1 Bedroom Ocean Fale

with king bed and continental breakfast from $1,023pp

Saletoga Sands Resort & Spa – Samoa, combines luxury and comfort with the natural splendour of the beautiful island of Upolu. A white sandy beach and breathtaking, tranquil blue waters provide the perfect setting for this stunning boutique retreat surrounded by exotic tropical flowers and lush greenery.

Nestled within a secluded sheltered bay, just over one hours drive from Faleolo International Airport, on the South East Coast of Upolu, guests scan relax and rejuvenate in the beauty of Saletoga Sands Resort & Spa, or simply explore some of Samoa’s best attractions located nearby.

The resort has only 25 rooms, a day spa, fitness centre, free snorkelling equipment and stand up paddle boards.

Your free daily continental breakfast includes toast, fruit, cereals, juices and tea/coffee. The on-site restaurant and bar serves local and international cuisine and features ocean and poolside views. Picnic hampers are also available.

All villas have air conditioning, satellite TV and tea/coffee making facilities.

To find out more about this adventure, contact Trans Otway Travel on (03) 9600 1482 or email contact@transotwaytravel.com.au

Antarctica Cruise on Hurtigruten

‘In the realm of the great explorers’ 19 days/18 nights ex Buenos Aires November 1, 2014

Inside cabin from $9,028 pp

Day 1: BUENOS AIRES

Discover the Paris of South America for yourself and get a taste of what the birthplace of the Tango has to offer. Depart Buenos Aires onboard the MS Fram at 12.00 noon. Eighteen Night Cruise: Onboard MS Fram.

Days 2-4: AT SEA

At sea head south towards your first destination. On the way you will have fascinating and informative briefings into the history and biology to be found there.

Set course south to the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, located 772 kilometres north of Cape Horn and about 1,600 kilometres from Antarctica. The Falklands consist of two large islands and around 700 smaller ones and has a population of 2,967 inhabitants. Captain John Strong of HMS Welfare made the first recorded landing here in 1690.

Day 5: AT SEA/FALKLAND ISLANDS

The islands have a unique ecosystem of about 70 different sub-Antarctic animal and bird species. The black-browed albatross, brown-rumped karakara, elephant seal, sea lion and five different species of penguin including king penguin are just a few of them. There are also about 347 wild plant species in the area. The landscape is majestic, with cliffs and needle-like stones covered in green grass.

Cruising the area of the North West Falklands, your ship is scheduled to arrive late afternoon.

Days 6-7: FALKLAND ISLANDS

Today you will explore the north-west part of the Falklands. You then continue to Stanley, the islands’ capital, which makes a wonderful starting point for various excursions in the area. You can choose to take an optional excursion or explore the town on your own. In the early evening of day 7 you set a course for South Georgia.

Depending on the final decision regarding landing sites, there will be a hike offered. One of the options could be an easy hike to a cliff with black browed albatross, a rockhopper colony and a cormorant colony if landing at New Island. If an alternative landing site is chosen, a different walk will be set up on the Falkland Islands.

Days 8-9: AT SEA

The cruise southward to beautiful South Georgia takes two days. En route there will be a number of presentations about the area you will visit and its wildlife, as well as some fascinating stories about Shackleton’s expeditions. The lecturers will tell us about the significance the whaling station here had for the entire whaling industry.

Days 10-11: SOUTH GEORGIA

You can explore this beautiful island, which is ringed by ice-covered mountains and cool emerald-green bays.

Known for its many historic places, you will spend two fascinating days in South Georgia, where, weather permitting, you will visit Grytviken whaling station, its museum, Shackleton’s grave and the whaler’s church dating from 1913. An attempt will also be made to visit the old Norwegian whaling station at Stromness and the kind penguin colony at Fortuna Bay. Setting sail on the second day, your ship cruises south towards Antarctica.

The wildlife on South Georgia is different to what you will see in Antarctica, including many different bird and animal species. Known for its variety of wildlife, you may see albatross, cape petrels, southern giant petrels, Antarctic whale birds, king penguins, fur seals and elephant seals, among others.

South Georgia offers nice hiking options, and one of our favourites is walking the last part of the route that Sir Ernest Shackleton took on his brave journey across the island’s rugged mountains to find help to save his 22 men left on the isolated Elephant Island. The 5.5 kilometre hike takes you from Fortuna to Strømness, the abandoned whaling station where Shackleton finally managed to get help. Due to the remoteness of the island and the safety of the operation, it is required that each hiker has a good level of fitness. This hike will only be conducted when weather conditions are very favourable.

Days 12-13: AT SEA

The cruise towards the Antarctic Peninsula takes two days. Whilst you cross the sea to Antarctica a number of presentations will be given about the various topics of the Antarctic’s history and wildlife, as well as guidelines for visitors to Antarctica.

The Antarctic Treaty has made the continent an area without military activity and it is the treaty which regulates all activities in the area. Hurtigruten ASA follows these regulations to the letter to ensure that the vulnerable environment will not be disturbed. The program of presentations aim to prepare you for this unique experience, so that you will derive the greatest possible benefit from your Antarctic experience.

Set sail onto the northern tip of the continent, the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands.

Days 14-16: ANTARCTICA

This unending, white wilderness of a continent is full of fantastic impressions. Ocean, ice, mountains, animals, light, air, quiet. Everything!

This enormous white and weather bitten continent is almost as big as North America. Weather, wind and ice conditions have a great influence on the program and schedule. Safety is always the first priority and the final sailing schedule will be decided by the ship’s captain during the voyage.

While in Antarctica, the ship will attempt to land on several sites. On land, the expedition team will explain what you see and help you avoid disturbing the nature and wildlife. When conditions allow, hikes or other activities on land and at sea may be offered. Participation on any hike requires a good level of fitness, and that you are accustomed to hiking in uneven terrain.

After exploring this indescribably great and endless continent, leave Antarctica and set course for Ushuaia.

Days 17-18: DRAKE PASSAGE

With the bow pointed north and unforgettable images and experiences in your soul, you are invited to gain a new understanding of the Antarctica.

During the voyage Hurtigruten will summarise the Antarctic and Southern Ocean themes. The voyage from the Antarctic Peninsula to Ushuaia is about 950 kilometres – about 40 hours sailing in good weather. This sea passage was notorious among the early polar explorers and is a unique voyage which only a few have the chance to experience.

Day 19: USHUAIA/BUENOS AIRES

After spectacular Antarctica and its endless vistas, make landfall at the world’s southernmost town.

On arrival at the Argentinean town of Ushuaia this morning, disembark after breakfast and there is the possibility of joining an optional excursion in Ushuaia (with its end at the airport) or be transferred to the airport. If time allows, a stop at the city centre on your way to the airport may be included. In the early afternoon board your four hour flight back to Buenos Aires.

Included in the 19 day Expedition Itinerary:

  • 18 night voyage in cabin grade of your choice including all meals
  • Economy flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires
  • Transfers in Ushuaia with orientation tour
  • Wind and water-resistant jacket
  • Landings with Polarcirkel boats and activities onboard and ashore
  • Knowledgeable English speaking Expedition team who give lectures as well as accompany landings and activities
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Suites include a range of additional complimentary amenities such as drinks with meals and a welcome gift

To find out more about this adventure, contact Trans Otway Travel on (03) 9600 1482 or email contact@transotwaytravel.com.au

Botswana Wildlife Safari

The Okavango Delta: Africa’s Watery Heart

There is a reason why so many of the best wildlife documentaries are filmed in the Okavango. One of the world’s largest inland deltas, the Okavango boasts the Big Five, all of them in abundance except the rhino. The lions and leopards of the Okavango have been made famous by National Geographic.

Moremi is lush and varied – a patchwork of lagoons, shallow flooded pans, plains and forests. It is one of Africa’s finest areas for wildlife, with particularly high game densities. The animals found here are numerous and relaxed, often allowing vehicles to approach closely.

Chobe National Park

The Chobe National Park is part of the northern Kalahari, much of it impenetrable thorn bush growing on deep sand. This is an old safari area. Livingstone visited it in the 1850s, as have countless big-game hunters since. It’s famous for huge herds of elephant and buffalo, and large prides of lion that have learnt to hunt them; for a river that apparently flows both ways; and for the mysterious, disappearing (and reappearing) Savuti Channel.

Pricing From Victoria Falls: 11 Days / 10 Nights $3,155 pp

Includes: two nights houseboat, two nights hotel and six nights camping accommodation, meals as indicated, game activities as specified, Botswana park and camping fees, transport, flight Maun to Moremi and a professional guide.

Departs 2014 05, 19 Mar; 02, 16, 30 Apr; 14, 28 May; 11 Jun; 02, 03, 16, 17, 30, 31 Jul; 13, 14, 27, 28 Aug; 10, 11, 24, 25 Sep; 08, 09, 22, 23 Oct; 05 Nov; 17 Dec ’14

Similar dates for 2015

Travel Style: Small Group tour

Travel Scale: Discovery

Note: Luggage must be limited to 12 kg in a soft bag plus a reasonable amount of camera equipment. Contact us for a copy of the pre-departure information.

Highlights:

  • The Okavango Delta
  • Moremi Game Reserve
  • Chobe National Park
  • Victoria Falls

Tour Details:

Day 1: Victoria Falls, Zambia – Okavango Delta

Early departure from Livingstone. Cross into Namibia and Botswana en-route to the Okavango Panhandle and board the Kabbo Houseboat. (L)(D)

Day 2: Okavango Delta

Enjoy morning and afternoon boat activities. (B)(L)(D)

Day 3: Okavango Delta – Maun

Travel to the frontier town of Maun for an overnight stay in a hotel. (B)

Day 4: Maun – Moremi Game Reserve

Continue by light aircraft to the Moremi Game Reserve and transfer to a private campsite. This area is famous for its astounding and diverse game viewing. (B)(L)(D)

Day 5: Moremi Game Reserve

Today is spent on early morning and afternoon game drives. (B)(L)(D)

Day 6: Savute, Chobe National Park

Depart Moremi for Savute. This area is best known for its bull elephants and prides of lion. (B)(L)(D)

Day 7: Savute, Chobe National Park

Morning and afternoon game drives. (B)(L)(D)

Day 8: Serondella, Chobe National Park

Journey north to the Chobe River, home to large herds of elephant, buffalo and hippo. (B)(L)(D)

Day 9: Serondella, Chobe National Park

Continue game viewing. Optional cruise along the Chobe River (extra cost). (B)(L)(D)

Day 10: Victoria Falls, Zambia

Head to Livingstone and visit the magnificent Victoria Falls (entrance fee is not included). Overnight at the Zambezi Waterfront Lodge. (B)

Day 11: Victoria Falls, Zambia

Tour ends at check-out from hotel. (B)

To find out more about this adventure, contact Trans Otway Travel on (03) 9600 1482 or email contact@transotwaytravel.com.au

Chile/Argentina – End of the Earth adventure

Gap 15 day ‘END OF THE EARTH’ Chile/Argentina

From $3,999p/p USD – Departures October 2014 – March 2015.

Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who want to experience one of the world’s most pristine wilderness settings, this challenging 2-week adventure packages the region’s essential highlights into one incredible journey. Explore Torres del Paine, encounter the Perito Moreno Glacier and hike Glacier National Park. With years of local experience, we employ the region’s best guides to reveal the extraordinary, bringing you to our exclusive campsites which provide stunning views of Patagonia. Prepare to be awed.

What’s included:

El Chaltén and Glacier National Park hike (full-day). Perito Moreno Glacier guided tour. Torres del Paine National Park excursion including hikes with expert mountain guides. Penguin colony tour (Punta Arenas). Boat cruise on the Beagle Channel (Ushuaia). Internal flights. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.

9 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners. (Allow USD360-475 for meals not included.)

Hotels (12 nts), camping (2 nts).

Public bus, van, plane, boat, hiking.

Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, specialist mountain guides in Torres del Paine, local guides.

Small group experience; Max 15, avg 12

Day 1 Buenos Aires

Arrive at any time.

Days 2-3 El Chaltén/Glacier National Park

Fly to El Calafate and continue by bus to El Chaltén and Glacier National Park. Full-day guided hike included and free time for further exploration.

Days 4-5 El Calafate

Return to El Calafate by bus. Included guided tour to Perito Moreno Glacier and opportunities for great Argentine cuisine.

Days 6-9 Puerto Natales/Torres del Paine National Park (4B,2L,2D)

Travel by bus into Chile and to Torres del Paine National Park. Two and a half days of included hikes from our campsite base, with our expert mountain guides.

Day 10 Punta Arenas (1B)

Bus south to Punta Arenas. Included tour to a penguin colony at Otway Sound.

Days 11-13 Ushuaia (3B)

Cross into Argentina by bus, arriving in Ushuaia. Included boat cruise on the Beagle Channel and free time for shopping and individual exploration.

Day 14 Buenos Aires (1B)

Fly to Buenos Aires. Optional tango show and dinner.

Day 15 Buenos Aires

Depart at any time. We highly recommend booking pre- or post-accommodation to fully experience this lively city.

To find out more about this adventure, contact Trans Otway Travel on (03) 9600 1482 or email contact@transotwaytravel.com.au

China Discovery

Unbeatable value, real experiences!

Looking for a holiday to China? Don’t miss this great offer.

Discover the historical Beijing, climb the Great Wall of China. Marvel at the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, considered as the eighth wonder in the world. Wander in the magnificent Forbidden City. Explore the Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Chengdu, with a unique opportunity to see the pandas in an environment similar to their natural habitat.

10 Day China Discovery Tour – Now at $1,869 pp (Twin share)

Departing from Melbourne or Sydney – normal price $3,320 pp, save $1,450 pp.

Trip highlights included:

  • In Beijing, walk on the Great Wall, stroll Tiananmen Square, explore the magnificent For-bidden City, wander in the Olympic Park, admire the unique Temple of Heaven.
  • In Xian, marvel at ancient Terracotta Warriors, visit the iconic Wild Goose Pagoda, browse the Provincial Museum and wander in the bustling Muslim Quarters.
  • In Chengdu, visit the Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base and stroll along the ancient streets.

Inclusions:

  • China Southern Airlines return economy class airfares with taxes ex Sydney or Melbourne
  • Domestic flights & taxes from Xian to Chengdu
  • 4 berth soft sleeper train from Beijing to Xian
  • 8 nights twin share accommodation
  • Guided sightseeing tours Local English speaking professional guide
  • Airport – hotel – airport transfers
  • Entrance fees
  • Local transport by air-conditioned coach
  • 9 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 2 dinners

Departures from Sydney or Melbourne: October 22, 2014

Best season to visit China, only a few spaces are left, inquire now!

To find out more about this adventure, contact Trans Otway Travel on (03) 9600 1482 or email contact@transotwaytravel.com.au