Looking for an Aussie destination with character? Melbourne offers a cultural buffet of wonderful choices. Trams chugging through the city center, a vibrant food scene, an awe-inspiring public library, and plenty of historic architecture, including churches and cathedrals amongst the urban landscape create a metropolis always buzzing with activity. In this modern Australian city you will also find Melbourne’s laneways.
The colorful little lanes are famous for bright murals and creative street art that cover a dizzying maze of streets. Pedestrian-only streets mean you can lose yourself in the artwork without watching for cars. There is plenty of pedestrian traffic, though, with many people browsing the boutique shops, local restaurants, and fancy cafes along the way. Fashionably dressed teens bound for school, business people in suits, families shopping, and tourists documenting their travels all move at their own speed through the popular central business district (CBD) instantly recognizable as “Melbs: as the locals affectionately call it.
Melbourne’s culture embodies the laneways, and if you visit a resident of the city they will proudly show you the eye-catching creations while pointing out that street art isn’t graffiti. You will see famous Australian life depicted on the walls with work by local artists covering Aussie life, politics, pop culture, fashion, music, beauty, and love. Explore almost every theme you can imagine using art on the Melbournites who can relate to the work and appreciate the bold beauty it beholds.
walls of the lanes to tell a story or message. Perhaps that is why they hold so much meaning for
The history of the lanes goes back to the Victorian era, when horses and carts would clatter along the narrow paths. In the 1990s, the area transformed into a trendy spot for shopping, dining and drinking and street art slowly emerged. Soon the bright surroundings became more popular on a local and international level. The intimate lanes offer a haven where people can absorb the cultural scene, drink coffee, meet friends and
escape, even for a short time, from the bustling city just outside the coziness of the lanes. As you dance down the lanes you will notice a lot of the old architecture is well-preserved, increasing their charm even more.
Meyers Place (formerly Nicholas Lane) is one of the oldest laneways in the city, so a must-visit for true street art fans. Funky eateries and bars line the lanes where you can linger for a while. Lane’s Edge Cafe and Bar is the perfect place for dining outdoors with a laidback vibe. Refuel with dishes paired with local Aussie beer and wine before diving back into the adventures of lane hopping in search of the best mural of the day.
Hardware and Goldie lane features 20th-century warehouses and Degraves Street, named after Hobart merchants Charles and William Degraves, has alfresco dining options for patrons who appreciate the views of the art deco architecture. Hozier Lane near Flinders Street Station is another popular
urban art spot, or you might find yourself rocking out at ACDC Lane. There are so many lanes, and you can rely on your instincts and embark on a bright road of artistic thrills. There is no wrong way for your feet to take you and there’s no predicting what you might
discover. As you weave your way from lane to lane just be sure to take enough photos for invoking memories of this colorful stroll.
Melbourne’s strong coffee culture goes hand-in-hand with the thriving art scene. Rest your tired feet and order a latte at a hip café. Take in the art with the aroma of caffeine and background chatter of socializing coffee lovers for a true Melbourne experience.
Forget about Google maps and get lost in the streets for an inspiring walk that you could probably not make the following day if you tried. Roaming around another day you would notice different details of the artwork adorning the laneway walls. It’s an uplifting place for culture-loving explorers and is free as long as you aren’t tempted to spend at a chic boutique filled with designer garments that are another form of beautiful creative expression.
Enjoy the backstreets decorated with street art by emerging and established talented artists. Watch an emerging work in progress as an artist empties some spray cans. To avoid the crowds arriving early and snap plenty of photos without too many people.
Melbourne’s lanes are a major tourist attraction constantly evolving, with new murals appearing all the time. Embrace the cheery journey as you
Ready to immerse yourself in this outdoor gallery of contemporary art? Let me design a trip for you that incorporates the laneways and the other wonderful things Melbourne has to offer! walk through a colorful moment in history that might never be the same again.
Pat Ogle-CollinsStrolling Melbourne’s laneways – a total sensory experience!
The beauty and wonder of the Kruger National Park in South Africa are reflected in the visitor numbers that top one million every year. The country’s oldest and biggest national park is home to an abundance of wildlife that shares the vast area. Lions, leopards, elephants, and rhinos are just some of the creatures you might see in this beautiful national park that borders Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Wildlife doesn’t care reserves or parks but you may.
If you are considering heading to Kruger National Park for a safari to see the lions, giraffes, and other amazing wildlife, you might wonder about game reserves, national parks and concessions. What’s the difference? It’s all about how you want to experience a safari.
National Park, Reserve or Concession?
National parks, like Kruger National Park, are managed and owned by the government. Individuals or companies own private game reserves. A concession is a lodge, camp or reserve owned by the government and operated by a company. All have to follow the same rules and regulations set out by the government and local authorities. (Similarly, in East Africa you will find conservancies, equivalent to a private reserves in South Africa, along with national parks.) The national park, reserves, and concessions form a vital co-existing group that attracts a wide range of travelers worldwide.
Guided safari walks available in private reserves allow you to view wildlife missed when on game drives.
Visiting Kruger National Park is a wildlife experience that is considered one of the best in the world. No wonder millions of people have made the trip boosting the local economy and helping to conserve and preserve the environment and inhabitants of the park. From the park entrance fees that protect the park’s cultural and natural well-being to the jobs it provides, the park is an important asset to South Africa.
To understand Kruger National Park’s major contribution to South Africa, we need to understand the history. It was established in 1898 by conservationist Paul Kruger who wanted wildlife to have a thriving environment to live without being hunted. His legacy can be seen with over 750 species of animals, 1982 species of plants and hundreds of cultural sites within the park.
Difference in Safari Experiences
Now let’s look at how the differences between game reserves, national parks and concessions, can impact your safari experience.
Private game reserves limit the number of travelers allowed to visit at any given time. This prevents stress on the ecosystem and gives people a more realistic safari experience. National parks don’t have the same restrictions on visitors, so they can be crowded
Bush dinners that can be arranged in private reserves create special memories for romantics or those that just love the outdoors.
with vehicles and people trying to see the wildlife. Also, it’s important to know off-road game viewing isn’t allowed in national parks, so often, you can see more impressive wildlife in reserves where it is permitted.
National parks have set opening and closing times and guides need to make sure they have exited the park before the gates close. Private reserves are always open to guests staying within the reserve so tourists have more scheduling flexibility. Without time limits reserves can offer more options for safari experiences such as walking safaris, longer observation times and exciting night safari drives.
Night drives allow you to see nocturnal animals and those active after their rest during the hottest parts of the day.
Style and Amenities
Relaxing in comfortable accommodation after a long day of safari adventuring in the heat is the perfect end to your day. Accommodation in most of the national parks is nice enough, but there is nothing like the food, amenities and service offered at lodges and camps in private reserves. Dining by lantern in the bush or sleeping under the stars add special memories in addition to those created by the wildlife during game drives.
Isn’t it Time for a Safari?
I am here to help you decide what safari travel option is best for you and your family and friends. We customize trips with many of our clients reporting back their trip far exceeded their expectations making it truly a trip without equal.
I design South Africa safaris for travelers who enjoy rich and diverse travel experiences with recommendations and suggestions that I hope make this trip of a lifetime the first safari of many. Let’s talk soon so I can answer all your questions about a South African safari and get you dreaming about a trip like no other.
Pat Ogle-CollinsTomāto, tomäto. It makes a difference in South Africa’s Kruger area!
Known for its diverse landscape, New Zealand’s spectacular scenery makes it the perfect place for exploration of all types of surroundings, from mountains to rivers and even glaciers and natural hot pools by all types of travelers. Spend a day in Tongariro National Park to experience all of these! Established in 1887, Tongariro National Park was the fourth national park
to be created globally and the first in New Zealand! UNESCO also recognizes the park with dual World Heritage status for both its cultural and natural features.
What makes this national park so unique is its unparalleled scenery. Made up of three volcanoes that dominate the region, Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro, and Mt Ngauruhoe, as well as beech forest, waterfalls, and rivers. Stepping foot into this park, you’re rewarded with some of New Zealand’s most dramatic landscapes.
A New Zealand Best – the Alpine Crossing!
Located in the center of the North Island, Tongariro National Park is home to one of the best hikes in New Zealand, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This hike is around 20km and takes between 7-8 hours to complete depending on how fast you choose to walk. This spectacular hike (that isn’t a loop, so arrange organized transport) takes you over the volcano through different terrains, such as springs, lava flows, volcanic rocks, and the famous emerald lakes.
Hiking track, Tongariro National Park
The best time of year to tackle this famous hike is during spring or autumn when the temperatures aren’t too cold or hot. You’ll need to have a relatively high level of fitness to complete this hike and proper hiking boots.
Although this is the most famous activity in Tongariro National Park, it should not discourage anyone from visiting, as there is still a range of activities on offer.
Magnificent scenery awaits in the desert!
When you picture New Zealand, the desert isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, if you plan to drive from Auckland to Tongariro National Park, that’s what you’ll get.
After you leave sub-tropical Auckland, pass the geothermal areas around Rotorua and crystalline Lake Taupo. All you’ll see is a deserted sandy road with nothing in sight until you reach the three volcanoes that make up the Pacific Ocean’s ‘Ring of Fire,’ Mt Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu, and Mt Ngauruhoe.
Love Lord of the Rings? See Mt Doom up close!
If you’re a fan of the Lord of the Rings series, visiting Mt Ngauruhoe or “Mt Doom” must be on your Tongariro National Park activities list. Standing between Mt Tongariro and Mt Ruapehu, this 2,29m (7,516 ft) mountain is the second tallest in the park and was a big part of the film franchise, drawing in thousands of tourists
Mt. Ngaurahue, also referred to as Mt. Doom from the Lord of the Rings films
every year. However, if you’re not a big Lord of the Rings fan, it’s still an impressive sight to see!
Stunning landscapes and beautiful waterfalls!
As well as spectacular mountain ranges, New Zealand is also home to some pretty impressive waterfalls. Located in Tongariro National Park, Taranaki Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country, and you have to see it to believe it.
The falls are found halfway through the 6km loop and tumble 20-meters into a boulder-ringed pool. There are two viewing points, one from the top and one from the base of the falls. While you’re there, you’ll have stunning views of all three mountains that make up Tongariro National Park.
Taranaki Falls, Tongariro National Park
The walk to the falls is one of the easiest and most impressive in the national park as it takes you through beech forest, shrubland, past the Wairere Stream, Cascade Falls, and manuka forest.
Tea overlooking snow-covered mountains!
If you are more of a slow traveler who enjoys the little things, such as high tea
with a sensational view, then be sure to check out the Chateau Tongariro. From their High Tea menu, you can choose from a range of sandwiches, scones, and treats, as well as your choice of coffee or fresh tea, served to you at a table overlooking the impressive Mt Ngauruhoe. Located within Whakapapa Village, indulging in this high tea needs to be on your list, especially in winter when snow covers Mt Ngauruhoe!
Bike along the Old Coach Road!
Not only are there amazing hikes throughout Tongariro National Park, but there is also a range of biking trails that you can explore. One of the best ones to add to your itinerary is Old Coach Road. Located at the southern end of Tongariro National Park near Ohakune, this 15km one-way (2hr 20 mins) trail takes you through a mix of terrains, such as forest, railway relics, and rural countryside. Or, if you don’t have a bike, you can also walk this trail, which takes around 41/2 hrs.
Whatever way you choose to tackle this trail, you will be blown away by the sheer beauty of the landscapes you’ll see along the way. Without a doubt, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing hike is the park’s most notable visitor draw. But non-hikers have plenty to see and experience without hiking boots and walking stick. From bike trails to high tea at Chateau Tongariro, no matter that type of activity you’re into, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this little corner of New Zealand.
Active Mount Raupehu with Chateau Tongariro
So, whether you prefer hiking boots or sneaks, a terrific day awaits you at Tongariro. All you have to do is give me a call!
Pat Ogle-CollinsBoots not required for this Best of New Zealand!
Imagine! A moment when majestic creatures walk towards your jeep only to veer away when their young appear from the bush – breathtaking!
Yet, there are more ways to experience the wilds of Africa than the rear seat of a land rover or overlander. By foot, from the air, or the water, it’s time to explore the wilderness through its various scents, sharp color palettes, and ear-pricking sounds in ways probably never considered.
Traveling by vehicle on safari is the post popular way to see game.
Your Own Two Feet Take You Off Road
Strolling through the bush at the crack of dawn can be a moving experience as all your senses awaken to the environment surrounding you. You can listen to the soft sounds of wildlife that would have been inaudible over the hum of a vehicle’s engine. You smell the vegetation as you trod over the grass. Movements catch your eye – from the insect that lights on a branch to the birds overhead, to the giraffe munching on a tree ahead.
Walking in the bush allows you to see small animals and insects as well as big game.
Excited but fearful? Don’t worry, they are completely safe because trained guides accompany you. This type of safari provides a more immersive and intensive experience. You are now in the environment of the animals rather than a vehicle. Definitely exciting when you come upon a lion or a family of elephants. While animals are always unpredictable, your guide’s first concern is always evident -the wildlife’s safety, and you, his client. Listen to their instructions and enjoy the moment!
Walking allows you to appreciate all kinds of species, both plant and animal. In many areas, vehicles must stay on the designated roads, so plants, insects, and small animals only a few feet from you might as well be invisible. Walking provides close encounters with them while minimizing the impact on their environment.
Walking safaris vary in length from an afternoon activity provided by your lodge to multi-day walks operated by specialized safari operators. Whatever the length, bush walks like these create special memories.
When the Wildlife Comes to You
Now, picture this. You’re floating down on a peaceful river, gazing at a herd of hippos lazing in the water as you pass about 15 yards away.
Walking safaris can be as short as an afternoon to multiday trips.
Spotting animals is way easier and safer on boat safaris as animals are not typically concerned by nearby boats; wildlife become accustomed to the watercraft, so they don’t get disturbed at the first sight of tourists. It’s an aesthetically pleasing experience— watching exotic frogs as they sit on a wavering reed, listening to the calming birdsong of winged creatures as they wait for the return of their mate, observing the nearby animals splashing around as they have a little fun. Photographs capture the action from the close to the same perspective as the wildlife being observed.
All wildlife need water so game congregates near rivers and waterholes making them easy to find.
On most bike safaris, you ride between parks and reserves, but you never know when you will see game.
Whether from a canoe or a multi-passenger pontoon type boats, enjoy the quiet as you explore the mighty and the minute on the rivers, marshes and deltas of Africa!
Wheels Go Round and Round in the Bush, too
Visualize pedaling through the bush, adrenaline pumping through your veins as you spot an elephant. Like walking, the cycling safari causes little noise, and offers you the opportunity to observe plenty of wildlife. On a cycling tour visiting parks, you typically switch your bike for a safari vehicle when it’s time to view the ‘big five’ animals: lions, buffaloes, rhinos, leopards, and elephants. On other tours, you may find that you cycle in the morning and use vehicles in the afternoon.
Not the level of the Tour de France? No worries. The average age of safari cyclists ranges in the 40s and several companies offer e-bikes. One commonality exists on all bike safaris – you burn a fair amount of the calories consumed during those delicious meals served at your lodge or camp!
With a small group of participants, camaraderie develops between participants and the trained guides. Much like the guides on walking safaris, the first priority of cycling safari guides is their guests’ safety so grab a helmet and enjoy the view!
It’s not just zebra, wildebeest and giraffe that gallop across the savannah
Those that love horseback riding – there’s a safari for you too! You’ll ride where vehicles can’t reach, galloping through the African plains as the giraffe galloping beside you tries to get ahead.
Horseback safaris can also range from a morning outing to a multiple-day trip. You follow the trails made by the wildlife itself, making spotting the animals easier. You can wander and wind through the bush with the hooves of horses providing no more
For those that love horseback riding, could there be any better way to see wildlife?
damage than the wildlife you seek so that you can get closer more easily. You and your horse become one in the eyes of the animals and, therefore, avoiding encounters with horse & rider is key to survival in their mind.
Like the other safaris, you are accompanied by experienced guides and other staff there to serve and ensure your safety. When on horseback, you will typically spend 4-7 hrs each day exploring the bush. For those that love riding, there may be nothing better!
You Can Even Safari by Air
The mist hovers as you ascend. Tangerine rays of light touch your face as you drift higher on a breeze in absolute silence. The pilot fires the burner of your hot air balloon, and nearby zebra, giraffe, and rhino make nary a move.
An early morning balloon safari allow you to see game from a different perspective when the animals tend to be most active.
Oh, what an enjoyable way to cover distances similar to a vehicle. While you can’t control the direction, your aerial 360° view provides visibility far further than any ground-based mode used on safari.
Like game drives, you rise before dawn, and the views of the landscape and the wildlife can’t be compared. Plus, after you return to earth, you often enjoy champagne and breakfast in the bush. Amazing!
Kickstart Your Adventure on a Quad Bike Safari
Safer havens where predatory animals don’t roam allow you to explore from the seat of a quad bike. That doesn’t make it any less exciting. Be it dry riversides, empty lakebeds, deserts, or the plains among Africa’s mountain ranges, they all offer wildlife and fantastic scenery! Imagine waiting for giraffes as they cross the path or following a flock of ostriches as they run.
Great for families, quad bikes combine the thrill of exploring your on your own bike with the enchanting beauty of untouched landscapes.
Seeking unique family memories? Nothing can beat watching a giraffe as it gives birth to its young before you head to your elevated camp on your quad bike to sleep out under the stars!
As each safari destination is unique, so too is how you can experience your safari. I’m an expert in helping you achieve the safari of your dreams. Call me and let me help your safari dream come true!
Safari by quad bike provides a memorable experience for the entire family that will be remembered for years.
Pat Ogle-CollinsThere’s more than one way to see big game!