Top 10 Memorable Moments
Giraffe Manor – Ange Pirie
Giraffe Manor is my favourite place to stay in Nairobi, Kenya, but its beautiful ‘manor’ houses, Spa and lovely boutique are not why I’m there. It’s all about the giraffes! As the sun rises they lope on up to the house and guests ‘in the know’ start their day feeding the giraffes through their bedroom windows! Head down to breakfast and the inquisitive long necks poke through the French windows for more. Don’t be put off your muesli by their somewhat slimy tongues, they are apparently anti-bacterial, or so I’m told. Everyone goes about their day until sunset when, you guessed it, the giraffes return for a quick nibble on the front lawn. I’m all for seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, but have to admit this is quite a delightful experience.
Galapagos Islands – Chris Lyons
I first explored South America for a year in the 1970’s with a pack on my back and began a love affair that is as strong today as it was 40 years ago. I have returned more than 35 times. For me, top of the list is Ecuador. There is nothing quite like exploring the islands by boat each with their unique flora and extraordinary fauna. I was lucky enough to meet Lonesome George, the Pinta Island Tortoise who was the last of his species, before his demise in 2012. RIP George.
Ho Chi Minh City – Davina Bicker
I like to dive into a city and get amongst the locals early on, so a Vespa tour in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City was right up my alley (excuse the pun!). Yes the traffic is hectic and looks chaotic (thankfully I was a passenger not a driver) but it does actually work somehow! Zipping through the streets amongst hundreds of other scooters, you’re feeling like a local within moments. We stopped along the way to sample local delicacies including fresh summer rolls, seafood and enough good strong Vietnamese coffee to fend off the jet lag. A great introduction to life in Vietnam!
Japan – Zoe Clarke
There is so much to love about Japan. I enjoyed the mix of ancient traditions and modern life. The fast paced chaos of Tokyo one day with the quiet scenic beauty of Hakone the next. The snow monkeys, temples with picturesque gardens, cherry blossoms and the bullet trains… It really was the trip of a lifetime!
Libya – Kate Gohar
How can I choose? A quiet monastery in Bhutan, child monks lighting candles nearby, the musty but reassuring smell of peace resting on my shoulders. Or getting lost in the twisting lanes of Venice Island (Italy), Khan el Khalili (Egypt) or Old Damascus (Syria). Or sitting in an outdoor bathtub, gin in hand, overlooking the Zambesi (Africa).
But I pick Libya. Ruined sites so untouched you can almost hear voices in markets, chariot wheels on stone and crowds cheering in amphitheatres. And the warm, kind-hearted, generous people desperate to ensure we had a great experience in their homeland.
Antarctica – Brett Barclay
Nowhere compares to the vast wilderness of Antarctica, a place I recently returned from. So remote, so cold and so surreal! Surrounded by hundreds of penguins, glaciers everywhere – the place is so serene. You can expect experiences unlike any other – whales swam directly under our boat, Gentoo penguins waddled beside me, and Leopard seals lay resting in front of us preparing for the cold months ahead.
Banff – Joelle Hiini-Neilson
I’ll never forget the first time it started snowing when I was standing in the streets of Banff, Canada. As an Aucklander I had never been in snowy weather before so when it started, I felt like such a little kid! I wanted to lie down and make a snow angel but our tour guide said it was too wet! I remember waking up in Banff and looking out the window, the street had been bare the day before and now it was a winter wonderland! We went on a snow shoe hike and it was so beautiful, we had hot chocolate and made maple taffy on the snow and I felt like I was in Narnia.
Patagonia – Judith Wesley
Patagonia in Argentina is full of WOW moments. One of these was visiting the Patagonian Desert – the last stronghold of the guanaco, the Patagonian fox and the elusive cougar. Hiking up to the viewing points to see the giant condors soaring above was unreal. The foodie in me revelled in the wonderful seafood (I couldn’t believe the size of the crabs!), the local favourite – salmon and cheese bake, the German-style cakes, and of course the Pisco aperitif and a smooth Malbec on a cold night goes down a treat! If you get the chance, take a cruise through the glaciers and fjords, walk through the beech forests and top it all off with a visit to Cape Horn.
Madagascar – Tony O’Callaghan
The stars of the show in Madagascar are the lemurs. The National Parks are home to 33 species of lemur, ranging from the Indri which sings like a whale, to the Ring-tailed Lemur in the picture below, said to be the most intelligent. He came down to the canoe I was in, hoping I might have a banana for him and all he got was a photo! He left a muddy little pawprint on my trousers that I was very sorry to wash off on my return home. A very special moment!
Alaska – Sue Barnaby
I’ll never forget my UnCruise experience in Alaska. One day we headed out on the skiffs to Young’s Glacier, accompanied by porpoises, and stopped to watch huge chunks of ice calving off the face of the glacier – the sound of it is something I’ll never forget! We took time out to toast the glacier with a delicious hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps concoction. Heading back it started to rain and the cold really set in. Thankfully James the barman saved the day, awaiting our return with Irish Coffees all round to warm us from the inside!