Toot Toot. The sound of the train rounding the rails. The horn of a pedi-cab in Quitos or Penang. An author announcing a book coming out! On pre-order now and in stores soon, MY ADVENTURES: A Traveler’s Journey is part muse, part journal. The co-author is the traveler who wants to chronicle his or her adventures.

What chapters do you want to write in the New Year?

You can be the co-author

You can be the co-author

Both mother and father penguins feed the chicks- one of the great memories of a Hurtigruten cruise to Antarctica, (c) Lisa TE Sonne

Both mother and father penguins feed the chicks- one of the great memories of a Hurtigruten cruise to Antarctica, (c) Lisa TE Sonne

Are you ready for Antarctica? Now is the time to book your excursion to the “White Continent” where all the time zones converge and penguins play. With some advance planning now,  you can have  a “Summer” this Winter that includes gorgeous glaciers, leopard seals, and international research centers.

Winter in the northern hemisphere is Summer at the South Pole,  so your January at “the bottom of the world” may be warmer than in the Northeast of the US —- and you may see a chick being fed (by mother or father,) then go take a jacuzzi onboard Hurtigruten’s FRAM.

Check out the latest bargains and savings on the Hurtigruten cruise line.  Norwegians have a rich heritage of great polar exploration, and can share the wonders with those who sign up.

“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” John Muir (C) Sonne

 

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”  John Muir

If you are craving portals to beauty, the Magnificent Mountain Loop (MML) of three California National Parks offers travelers uncountable “doors.” In one trip you can enjoy the tree giants of Sequoia National Park, the adjoining wonders of Kings Canyon National Park and the iconic delights of Yosemite.

This year, Yosemite shares the riches of nature and history with a 150th anniversary. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant 150 years ago, creating “the first protected wild land for all time” and the “first state park in the world” according to the National Parks website.

Below are some quotes by past famous Yosemite visitors Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Ansel Adams, and President Teddy Roosevelt to inspire your own visit. There are also some tips to add luxury to your travel.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” John Muir

 

 

EMERSON & MUIR TRANSCEND

According to the National Parks Services website: “In 1871, John Muir, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet, and Transcendentalist visited the Mariposa Grove of trees in Yosemite and Muir said to Emerson in the grove: ‘You are yourself a sequoia. Stop and get acquainted with your big brethren.’ ”

Emerson called Muir a “new kind of Thoreau” who gazed at sequoias of the Sierra instead of scrub oaks of Concord.”

Grandeurs of granite walls in Yosemite.

In Yosemite, Grandeur of these mountains perhaps unmatched on the Globe; for here they strip themselves like Athletes for exhibition, & stand perpendicular granite walls, showing their entire height, & wearing a liberty cap of snow on their head.” From Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Journal.

PRESIDENTIAL AGAIN

In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt requested to meet with Muir in Yosemite, and Muir encouraged him to sleep under the stars- a night that led the protected area to be expanded and transformed into a National Park.

It was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man.”- Roosevelt

Sleeping under the stars like Muir and Roosevelt may be the richest way to enjoy the nature of the park 24/7, but if you are looking for more pampering nurture in your visit, the Tenaya Lodge offers lovely luxury rooms, concierge services, the Embers restaurant and the Ascent Spa with signature organic treatments. The Ahwahnee Lodge’s legacy dining room is worth at least one memorable meal.  Yosemite Lodge inside the Park affords window views of the Yosemite Falls, and great access to the park’s sites, trails and shuttle system.

 

Yosemite Riches- your outdoor museum. Sonne

Tenaya Lodge, Fish Camp, near Yosemite

 Yosemite Lodge at the Falls,

Wuksachi Lodge, Sequoia National Park

John Muir Lodge, Kings Canyon National Park

For those that want to celebrate the resiliency of nature with some personal rushes, OARS is now offering river rafting in the Tuolome River.  (I haven’t yet tried their river trips but hear good things.)

It’s the images of Ansel Adams that have put Yosemite in people’s imaginations for decades, but his words are also an inspiration for how to enjoy Yosemite:   “Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film. Your bright eyes and easy smile is your museum.

                                     -Photos and text by Lisa TE Sonne, Luxury Travel Mavens

One definition of  romantic is “an idealized version of reality.”  The same could be said of top luxury travel.  The chocolates are left on your plush pillow or baked fresh to your liking by a genius chef. Your flowers are abundant fields seen from your privately chauffeured touring car or canvases of Monet seen up close,  or  fresh arrangements delivered to your elegant suite. Your bubble baths are in marble tubs with views and aromatherapy you choose. People want you to be happy.

Romantic travel gifts can be shared experiences of inestimable value per your own values and idealized vision– from observing penguins hatch, or a family of elephants while on safari, to private showings at a jewelry store; from going to remote places to witness ceremonies rarely seen, to securing luxury booth seats behind home plate or in the royal box at a ballet.

Papua New Guinea, Sepik Spirit Boat journey

Your idea of  “idealized reality” may be visiting thriving, healthy environments with vibrant flora and fauna, and indigenous cultures preserving their ways and well-being without global franchises and homogenization.

Arguably, for today’s first-world cultures, sleeping in a five-star hotel and sleeping under a canopy of luminous, infinite stars– are each romantic and are each luxuries.

 The privilege of access can be the key to luxury travel– access to people, places, and experiences. For some travelers that access must be coupled with comfort and expense to be “luxury” — comforts like the bed at the Pierre Hotel in New York (with a Broadway show and fireflies in Central Park) or the butler drawing a bubble bath at Le Blanc in Cancun (after snorkeling with whale sharks) or lunch at the French Laundry in Napa (as a way to enjoy time with dear friends). For others, like astronauts in space or James Cameron heading to the deepest trench in the ocean, unique  “access” may be very expensive, but not at all comfortable.

Point Dume Beach, Malibu (c) Sonne

Sometimes access has little to do with comfort or expense; it is good fortune. I’ve traveled all seven continents and continue to explore in order to share the beauties of the planet– the romantic of the human and natural.  But of course, moments of “wow” and “thanks!” don’t require passports or first class seats; they can be in our own backyard. At a public beach about 20 minutes from my home, I saw a dolphin body surfing a wave. At a lake five minutes from my home, herons,cranes and egrets perform balletic moves whether anybody is watching or not.

Shoes outside a blue tiled mosque in Istanbul,

The magic of the mundane– the extra- ordinary– that sunrise that makes you swell with a sense of divine grace, the arc of the Milky Way that embraces you from afar, a song bird greeting the day with notes that make a tuning fork inside of you hum– these experiences are free, but can feel luxurious.

Romantic travel can be  sharing the Ahhs of Awe. Seeing the synchronous fireflies in Malaysia was a brighter experience for being with my husband. Walking on the Great wall of China was warmer with him despite the winter’s subfreezing wind chill. Seeing the mosques of Istanbul with a childhood friend magnified the memories.  Even an evening stroll at home, may reveal a cloudscape worth watching.

Romantic travel can also be helping others- trying to make “the idealized version of reality” replace meaner versions. Is that taking your love to  the Luxembourg Gardens in Spring surrounded by flowers, or helping build a school  in a far-flung outpost for you love of humanity?

It is a luxury to travel at all– to have the health, the time, the means, and the freedom from other constraints and responsibilities. Sometimes that travel propels us great distances out into the world. And sometimes that travel comes from inside, sitting still where we are,  taking time to awaken our senses- to smell, see, taste, hear, and feel.

Long Beach, California, a winter sunset

To be present can be a luxurious gift.

***

What is luxury travel for you? What is romantic travel?

-Lisa TE Sonne, Luxury Travel Mavens

 

 

 

 

Antarctica, Hurtigruten Cruise (C) Sonne

Start of para-sailing, Caribbean coast, Cancun, Mexico (C)Sonne

Dream. Go. Discover. Explore. Set your sails.

Take a leap. Sit still somewhere new. Meet yourself.

Add kindness in different time zones. Share beauty. Create laughter.

Spark an idea. Illuminate.

Whether you want to explore all seven continents or experience  your own neighborhood better, here are some inspiring travel quotes, and some images from my travels.

“Make voyages! Attempt them-there’s nothing else.”

– Tennessee Williams

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ”

– often attributed to Mark Twain

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca

Bilbao Museum, Basque Country, Spain, (c) Sonne

 

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. ”
St. Augustine 

“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you traveled.” –Mohammed

Zip-lining, Nicaragua, Austin Lehman Adventures, (c) Sonne

 

 

 

 

“Adventure is worthwhile.”

– Aristotle

 

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

-Helen Keller

 

” Not I, not anyone else, can travel that road for you. You must travel it for yourself.” –

-Walt Whitman

World’s largest Hot Air Balloon Festival, Albuquerque, New Mexico (c)Sonne

 

 

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”

— Martin Buber

 

“Three things restore a person’s good spirits: beautiful sounds, sights, and smells.”

-Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot

 

 

 

 

Moroccan Woman in the Atlas Mountains of Africa, Access Travels trip (c)Sonne

“All life is travel through time and space. Think outside the cube.”
-Lisa TE Sonne

 

 

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

– Maya Angelou

 

 

 

 

Buddhist, Himalayas, Royal Kingdom of Bhutan, Asia (c)Sonne

 

 

“Hitler didn’t travel. Stalin didn’t travel. Saddam Hussein never traveled. They didn’t want to have their orthodoxy challenged.”

— Dr. Howard Gardner

 

“Experience, travel – these are as education in themselves”

– Euripides

 

“When travelling, kindness can be  the greatest gift, and dearest souvenir.” -Lisa TE Sonne

 

 

 

“The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.”        -Anna Quindlen

Lady Astor, Queen Victoria, Gandhi, Charlie Chaplin, Lawrence of Arabia, Kipling, Henry James, Henry Ford, Churchill all walked the grounds and halls before Cliveden House in England became a five star hotel to top the lifestyles of Downton Abbey (c) Sonne.

Maasai walking in Kenya, Africa (c)Sonne

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”

– Bill Bryson

Parenting chinstrap penguin,sitting on an egg and a chick  below:

 

 

 

 

 

“I  like animals. I like natural history. The travel bit is not the important bit. The travel bit is what you have to do in order to go and look at animals.”

– David Attenborough

 

 

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”                                             – Marcel Proust

After traveling on all seven continents, I saw this dolphin wave surfing at the Pacific beach fifteen minutes from my home. (c)Sonne

 

“To move, to breath, to fly, to float…to travel is to live.”  -Hans Christian Andersen.

Sonne and a polka-dotted whale shark by Danny Heilprin

-Lisa TE Sonne, excerpts for Luxury Travel Mavens

@ExploreTraveler

(c) Lisa TE Sonne, Selects from a book she is working on

All above photos by Lisa TE Sonne. Please contact her for permission to use. Lisa@Sonne.org

Please add your own inspiration and any travel/ exploration quotes you want to share in the comments section below or email them. Thanks!

 

 

The yacht named after a former owner, Princess Grace, now cruising the Galapagos via Quasar Expeditions.

Pinch me. I must be double dreaming. I am basking on the M/Y Grace, the yacht given by Onassis to Grace Kelly when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco, the yacht the royal couple honeymooned on.  In every direction I see islands of the Galapagos, one of the world’s great destinations, and a spectacular part of Ecuador, the small enticing country that also shares the Andes and Amazon with travelers that love culture and nature.

Yes, I was dreaming — but dreaming of reality — of the trip I finished yesterday. I am swimming in joyful recollections. The teak and mahogany yacht for the voyage previously entertained Winston Churchill, served valiantly in WWII, and was a moving playground for the wealthy before Quasar Expeditions turned it into a romantic nine-suite vehicle for travelers seeking the extraordinary, far from the Mediterranean and Monaco.

A flamingo looking for shrimp in a Galapagos lagoon.

Onboard our week-long cruise of the southern Galapagos, there was a family of five, a couple in their 30s on their honeymoon, and another couple in their 30s who got engaged while on the paradisical Gardner beach of Santa Cruz Island. Just a few days later with accumulated Grace and Galapagos memories, the two medical professionals actually had the Captain marry them our last night, for a very spontaneous elopement not on the itinerary.

Was it the almost-full moon? The fresh lobster dinner?  All the laughter of the guests, now friends, remembering favorite moments of the trip? A desire to weave the trip’s joys more permanently into life’s quilt? A love that deepened in a remarkable place? The couple added yet another chapter to the romance and legacy of the yacht.

Blue-Footed booby birds and red crabs share a perch not far from playing sea lions in the Galapagos. “Panga” rides from the Grace with a knowledgeable naturalist, would take visitors close to the wildlife. Photo by Lisa TE Sonne

Wild Memories
Many additional cherished memories filled my well-named memory chip of photos from our daily hiking and snorkeling expeditions on different islands with up close views of flamingos, penguins, iguanas, blue footed boobies, mating comarents, newborn sea lions, newly hatched albatrosses, and the finches that helped Darwin form his revolutionary theories about the evolution of life.

It was a privilege to be able to move through the raw and wild movements of nature in parts of the islands without human habitation, but two of my favorite moments came when I stayed in one place and the animals came to me. On our last snorkel, led by the Captain beneath the striking monolith of Pinnacle Rock, I floated gently and just felt awe at the schools of fish shimmering around me, and the shapes of the immersed rocks with bright colored algae and aneomones.

Suddenly two penguins darted toward me, performed twirling twists right in front of me and zoomed off. Then back again. I laughed with glee and was glad my prescription mask didn’t leak when I smiled grandly. The penguins continued to dart around our little band of bipeds for ten minutes and even brushed against one snorkeler who said the bird felt soft.

Galapagos Penguins are the only penguins to live naturally north of the Equator

 

 

A different afternoon on the post card -looking Gardner Beach, I sat in the powder-soft organic sand, while Galapagos penguins were swimming in the waters that mingled turquoises and azures. A baby sea lion waddled toward me sniffing like a puppy dog. Somewhere else on the beach, a delightful couple (after several years together) were getting engaged to be married, while the rest of us were engaged with different wildlife.

Six hundred miles of Pacific Ocean from the mainland of Ecuador, surrounded by the life force, I think we were all glad to be able to say “I do” to the Galapagos with Grace.

Photos and Story by Lisa TE Sonne,  Luxury Travel Mavens.com

Turkish lamps and warm hospitality seemed ubiquitous

Turkey is full of fantastical lamps, but you don’t need to rub them to have at least three wishes come true. The luxuries of good eating, shopping, and spa-ing are not new to Istanbul, which has culled for centuries from Europe, Asia, and Africa.  Before we boarded our “Ancient Mysteries” cruise on Holland America’s Noordam, my girlfriend Jamey and I indulged in pleasures worthy of the Sultanas of the 1400s and 1500s.

Ottoman Eats- The Matbah

Part of the Matbah menu featuring Ottoman food, Istanbul

This unique restaurant highly recommended by friends offers culinary time travel. Many dishes were researched from previous centuries, and the 32 Ottoman Empire menu selections are all from the “Kitchen of the Sultan,”—truly palatial for the palette

Enticingly, the menu includes the date of the earliest known recipe of the dish, if it’s known.   For the cold plate, I chose the Karidye Pilakisi (Shrimp Stew), which had the notation, “In 1473, during the month of Sha’ban, the palace bought shrimps for an amount of three silver coins almost everyday.”  Still delicious today, even when paid for with plastic.

For the entrée, it was a tough choice with so many temptations. I narrowed it down to Yufkada kuzu incik, begendili: “baked lamb shank on a bed of pureed eggplant, served in a pastry bowl” with 1463 as the first known recipe (before Columbus sailed!) or Zire-ba (mutencene): “Diced lamb with dried apricots, raisins, honey and almonds baked slowly in an earthenware casserole.” The latter was dated 1300-1463, so I went for the oldest and my taste glands were richly rewarded.

Shrimp stew, an Ottoman dish, Istanbul

The menu credits Ottoman Cuisine as coming from Middle Asia, the Balkans, the Middle East, Mediterranean, and European cooking traditions. It seems that fusion feasts are not new.

The outdoor, upper floor patio setting provided breezes, and as hundreds of birds flew overhead in the sky of pastels, the call to prayers of the muzzeins also filled the air, reminding us of other traditions that have survived the centuries.

Our first day in Istanbul felt complete, and we looked forward to how we would conclude our next day set to explore the standing history of mosques and palaces from half a millennia ago.

The dark pink building to the right houses the women’s Hamam founded in 1556

Spa- Hamam Style

To enjoy the kind of spa treatment that the top harem women and wives and mothers of Sultans enjoyed, we headed to the Ayasofia Hurrem Sultan Hamam, founded in 1556 by Sulieman the Magnificent, and elegantly renovated in recent times. Humams are traditional Turkish bathing houses segregated by gender. Istanbul has several high-end ones – some very old and some part of new high-end hotels.

Over 300 marble pillars support the underground cisterns built in the 6th century. photo by lisa te sonne

This humam is located in the center of the historic district and an unforgettable capper to a day of sight-seeing. Just a few-minutes walk away are the magnificent Hagia Sophia, with both Christian and Islamic beauty; the striking Blue Mosque; the remnants of the Hippodrome; and the underground waters of the Byzantine “Basilica Cisterns,” which were started in the mid 6th century. There are scintilating  treasures for the eyes, mind, and soul, but for the sensual pleasures of the body, enter the Hamam’s marbled and domed sanctuary, also a part of history.

Each visitor is matched with a personal female attendant who leads the way to an undressing room, then to a soothing bathing area. Mine pours warm waters over me from a gold bowl, scrubs me, and massages off layers of the unwanted. She whooshes soft silky soap bubbles over me, and massages me as I am stretched out on a side of an octagonal marble fountain that seems ageless.  My mind releases any worries about current times, and I wonder how closely this resembles how Sultan’s wives were treated centuries ago.

Spa for Sultanas, Istanbul

In the midst of all this pampering, she massages my scalp and washes my hair tenderly, like my mother did when I was little. It is a happy memory, but a small lump forms in my throat.

After more cascades of warm and cold water for rinsing, I am led upstairs two flights to a private room framed by an intricate wooden carving. A masterful massage of perfumed oils ensues, with any remaining knots kneaded out – front and back; top and bottom. I am again offered water or fruit drinks. My attendent beams at me “You are a Sultana!”

Delighted and detoxed, clean and smooth, I lounge near my childhood friend as we each purr contentment under a tall tranquil white dome, a nearby fountain flowing its liquid mantra to relax. When we are ready to head back out the door into the large park framed by iconic architectural wonders, we are handed little bags to take home. Mine has a kese (scrubbing mitten) and kariklar (plastic sandals) with the year 1556 imprinted.

Bazaar  Shopping

Crossroads of consumerism through the ages-Istanbul’s Bazaars

Straddling two continents, Istanbul, once aka Constantinople, is a crossroads of consumerism, from the Silk Road times to the Grand Bazaar and smaller Spice Bazaar, which are still magnets for thousands of shoppers. At the Grand Bazaar, twenty entrance gates are portals I read to a maze of more than 60 paths and 4,000 shops and cafes today—the evolution of a shopping center centuries old. Were these the original mega-malls?

The Grand Bazaar invited conspicuous consumption and beautiful production centuries ago with designated sections for the making and selling of leather goods, gold, jewels and the artistry of Turkish rugs. Today, shoppers weave through the maze under tiled, vaulted ceilings. Narrow passageways of vendors may lead to a courtyard or a wider path of stores with the labrinth including a great range these days from exquisite jewelry to junky trinkets—all waiting to be bargained for.   Amidst modern cell phones, men still scurry with silver trays of tea to serve the merchants.

An entry to the Spice Bazaar, Istanbul

Near one end of the Galeta Bridge (well worth walking), the “smaller” but still a-mazing Spice Bazaar was purportedly created in the 17th century to provide revenue for the “New Mosque” (now in its 4th century, which is still relatively new in a city with the Hagia Sophia). Spices, herbs, honeycombs, and all kinds of delectables seduce the senses and invite quick deal-making for some delicious presents.

Cruise Time

By the time we boarded our Holland America Cruise ship, the Noordam, we had tended to body, soul, and mind and had gifts for our husbands and friends in packages to carry to our Verandah suite on the Promenade Deck.

When we opened the door to our suite, more treats awaited — a bottle of champagne on ice and a dozen cut fruits waited on one plate, several kinds of finger sandwiches rested on another, and white and dark chocolates of sea horses and towers greeted us inside our well-designed cabin. Outside on our verandah, the azure of the Bosphorus, the coastlines of Asia and Europe, and a skyline of spires and skyscrapers and domes – past and present – wrapped around us.

With nearby menus for room service, onboard spa treatments and shore excursions, we were leaving port to head through the Dardanelles toward Greece as part of the Ancient Mysteries cruise, happily warmed up by Istanbul’s enduring luxuries of food, baths, and shops.

Photos and articles by  © Lisa TE Sonne

Click here for more of her Luxury Travel Mavens pieces

 

For additional Sonne articles, photos and radio pieces visit www.WorldTouristBureau.com

Please add your experiences and thoughts about Istanbul:

 

 

Is there an animal-loving kid inside you or inside your home waiting to get out in the real wilds next vacation? Summer is here and there are some wild specials for animal lovers who want to go beyond zoos, television, and stuffed toys.

Wild Planet Adventures Director Josh Cohen at Tiger Sanctuary in Thailand.

“After 23 years of feedback from families,” says Josh Cohen, Wild Planet Adventures founder and director, “we’ve selected our top five summer trips for animal-crazy families based on kid-friendly activities and experiences that appeal to all ages and attention spans.”

For best summer exotic wild animal trips, he recommends Brazil, Borneo, Galapagos, Peru, and Costa Rica. For summer planning for the top fall and spring trips, he advises you think Thailand and India. He also offers trips that aim to maximize the opportunities for wildlife in each destination.

Whether it’s customized night tours for nocturnal animals, quiet boats, walking safaris, kayaks, or remote floating lodges, Cohen works on including privileged access and exclusive activities that he has developed through years of guiding, scouting, and hands-on research.

Proboscis Monkey in Borneo

He hopes travel can ignite kids’ passions and concerns about protecting the world.

“Kids will thrill to cuddle a newborn monkey in the Costa Rican rainforest, witness the spectacle of hundreds of macaws at a clay lick in Peru, snorkel with playful sea lions in the Galapagos, glimpse a female jaguar nuzzling its newborn cub in Brazil, or wander the quickly disappearing rainforests of Borneo in search of adorable tarsiers, slow loris, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys, and orangutans, the most human-like of all primates.

A Tarsier in Borneo

“These are life’s defining moments. They provide a counter to our violent video-game culture and remind us that life is precious. They inspire, exhilarate, and provide perspective to kids growing up. They remind us that we are a part of nature.”

Keep reading for seven super-sounding family trips picked by Cohen and described in his own words (from an interview this week and his writings.)


Brazil

Jaguar’s Trail: Pantanal to Amazon 15-day “Brazil is the new up-and-coming family destination when it comes to wildlife travel, with possibilities for adventurous activities exceeding even Costa Rica. This trip includes the seldom-visited Taiama Ecological Reserve in a remote part of the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands.

“A Wild Planet Adventures exclusive, Jaguar Safaris in Taiama, average 1.5 jaguar sightings per day viewed from the safety of a river boat. Tiama Ecological Reserve and the Paraguay and Pixiam rivers are home to the largest concentration of jaguars on earth. Giant anteaters and otters plus silvery marmosets can be spotted from horseback, boat or jeep.

Extraordinary photo opp. Jaguar photo by a non-professional client of Wild Planet.
Image thanks to Mary Ellen Endo/Wild Planet Adventures

“Guests then transfer from the world’s largest wetlands to the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, and are introduced to Wild Planet’s exclusive Primate Program, designed by a primatologist.”

*$6,898 per person double can be shortened to 11 days for $4,998 per person double.

A Wild Planet Adventures Borneo trip where families can see families of Orangutans in Danum Valley, Borneo

Borneo

Borneo’s Weird & Wonderful Wildlife – 12 Day tour  “The primeval rainforest here harbors an Orang-Utan sanctuary, pygmy elephants, proboscis monkeys with huge noses, and Borneon Gibbons who sing to each other, among countless other rare and endemic species.

“Highlights include a special expedition to see Borneo’s unique flying and gliding mammals, and a night excursion to view tarsiers and slow loris, two of the world’s smallest and cutest primates. Borneo’s rainforest is disappearing at alarming rates due to palm oil cultivation, making it the world’s #1 ‘see it while you can’ destination.”

*$5,898 per person double.

Family watching seal pups in the Galapagos. Photo courtesy of Ecoventura.

Galapagos

“Galapagos Islands Ultimate Wildlife 8 Day Nature Cruise on 20-passenger yachts in the Galapagos.  Two naturalists accompany groups of no more than 10 people on land tours. Guests can kayak, walk amongst colonies of sea-lions, witness the mating and courtship rituals of sea-birds, track giant tortoises and snorkel surrounded penguins and other marine wildlife. Many summer dates are designated as special family departures, or family-with-teens departures.”

*$3,375 to $4,350 per person

Macaws in Peru at a Salt Lick. Photo courtesy of Rainforest Expeditions

Peru

Peru Ultimate Wildlife Adventure comes in 13- and nine-day versions. “Nine days includes the cultural meccas of Machu Picchu, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley. However, the focus of the trip is the Amazon Rainforest. Manu Biosphere Reserve is the world’s most bio-diverse park, with 200 species of mammals, including 13 species of primates.

“Nearby Tambopata Reserve is home to the world’s largest macaw and parrot clay licks where travelers can see up to 1,000 macaws and parrots transform the sky into a kaleidoscope of color. Exclusive family-friendly activities include a Wild Planet Adventures’ special ‘Jaguar Kayak Float,’ a shaman-led medicine trail to learn about the medicinal value of rainforest plants, and a special excursion to see the world’s smallest — and cutest —primate, the pygmy marmoset.”

*$3,375 to $4,350 per person

Costa Rica – In the Wild and to the Rescue!

A baby sloth for hands-on fun and education for the family at Proyecto Asis In Costa Rica

“On some tours guests, experience animals in the wild as well as at wildlife rescue centers, some of which offer ‘hands-on’ experiences sure to thrill kids of all ages.

“Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife Eco-tour for 14-days focuses the wildlife of eight national parks harboring 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity. Included is a visit to Aviarios Sloth Wildlife Sanctuary where, says Cohen, ‘the cuteness factor is off-the-charts.’ Families enjoy hands-on interaction with animals at Proyecto Asis wildlife rescue center, and meet biologists studying the rainforest at La Selva Biological Preserve.  Activities include moderate whitewater river rafting, flat-water wildlife float-trips, cloud forest canopy tours, viewing volcanoes and hot springs, night hikes for nocturnal animals, sea-kayaking with dolphins and snorkeling at night in the bioluminescence.

Visitors can help feed a baby sloth at the ASIS Wildlife Shelter in Costa Rica


“Wild Planet is currently offering a special for the six weeks between early July and mid August, which includes free binoculars, extra nights in Corcovado and more. This coincides with a weather pattern called ‘veranito,’ (little summer) which tends to be one of the best times of year for seeing wildlife.”

*$4,598/person or 9-days at $2,998/person

Summer Planning for Other Seasons

“Not all of our most family-friendly wildlife trips are in season during the summer. November through June  – including Christmas and Easter breaks – offer a few additional options for wildlife adventures ideal for families:

Thailand

“Our #2 overall destination for families and #1 destination for women travelers, Thailand is the ‘Costa Rica’ of Asia in many ways. Wildlife safaris by jeep, foot, long-tail boat, and kayak in the national parks combine with mindful cultural experiences and end with snorkeling and relaxing on Thailand’s incredible islands.

“The Buddhist culture oozes joy and open-heartedness, and the sensuality of Thai food, Thai massage, and the Asian aesthetic combine to create a richly joyous experience. And did we mention feeding and playing with elephants and cuddling baby tiger cubs?”

Clouded Leopard on a Wild Planet Adventure

India

“India will ignite your family’s passion to make a difference in the world. It will instill a genuine sense of gratitude and appreciation for your life, for the opportunities you have, and for the things you take for granted. It is ideal for families with teens and adult children, who want a meaningful – and potentially transformational experience.

“Our wildlife expertise shines at India’s top national parks, wildlife reserves, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites where you can thrill to the sight of wild leopards, rhinoceros, elephants, tigers, and more. You’ll feel transported back to a romantic era of turbaned warriors, valiant princes, and sultry harems as you explore the forts and palaces of Jodhpur and Jaipur, the magnificent Taj Mahal, the remote villages of Rajasthan, and the contrasting bustle of modern Delhi.”

For more information and a complimentary 2013 catalog call toll-free 1.800.990.4376, or e-mail: trips@wildplanetadventures.com. To review current trips, schedules and itineraries log onto:
http://www.wildplanetadventures.com.
Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/mywildplanet

Lisa TE Sonne, Luxury Travel Mavens
Photos provided by Wild Planet Adventures unless credited otherwise in the caption.
Explore the Family and Adventure sections of Luxury Travel Mavens for more great trip ideas.

If you are looking for domestic luxury this summer, consider National Parks and stellar acommodations!  Get a nature and nurture fix when you combine first class Parks and pampering – and can get a package deal.

I don’t usually pass on press releases or information for things I haven’t tried, but I am a big fan of National Parks, and luxury-oriented  J Public Relations pairs Parks with pampering digs, and suggests some tempting trip ideas for outdoor wilderness creations with indoor comforts (no camping!). Below are words, images and links provided by them.

Tanque Verde Ranch paired with the Saguaro National Park (read on for more)

 

Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is the world’s first national park with 2.2 million acres of natural wonders and wild animals.  Top sights include the Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake, the Grand Prismatic Spring on the Lower Loop, Mammoth Hot Springs on the Upper Loop and Yellowstone Falls near the shared section of the two.  At the southern edge of Yellowstone Park lies Grand Teton National Park which boasts majestic views of the jagged peaks of the Teton Ranges and miles of hiking and wildlife-watching by Snake River.

Hotel Terra paired with the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park

Hotel Terra Jackson Hole

Located at the gateway to Grand Teton National Park and a short one hour drive to the southern entrance to Yellowstone National Park, the LEED-Silver Certified and AAA Four Diamond luxury Hotel Terra Jackson Hole’s Passport to the Parks package provides the ideal destination for adults and families looking to explore some of the world’s most treasured natural sites.

The Passport to the Parks package includes:

·       3 nights lodging in a Terra Guest Room

·       7-day park pass to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park

·       $20 daily breakfast credit at Terra Cafe

·       Guidebook to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park

·       Backpack for 2 children with kids guide book, reusable water bottle and camera

·       Rates start at $235+ per night; Minimum 3-night stay

·       Valid Valid May 16 – September 30, 2013

Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa

The AAA Four Diamond Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa, is also steps from the entrance to Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park and one hour south of Yellowstone.  Located in one of the most spectacular places in the United States, Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa is granting guests an all-access pass to explore both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks with Teton Mountain Lodge’s National Park Explorer Package that also includes a $50 gas voucher and daily breakfast credit at Spur.

 The National Park Explorer package includes:

·       3 nights lodging at Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa

·       7-day park pass to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park

·       Guidebook to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park

·       $30 daily breakfast credit at Spur Restaurant & Bar

·       $50 gas voucher

·       Rates start at $189+ / night; Minimum 3-night stay

·       Valid May 16 – September 30, 2013 (blackout dates do apply)

The Grand Canyon National Park:

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and has a depth of over a mile.  Known for it’s visually overwhelming size and intricate and colorful landscape, the Grand Canyon boasts some of the world’s most jaw-dropping and dynamic views.

L’Auberge de Sedona in Arizona

L’Auberage de Sedona, Arizona

Situated just 45 minutes south of The Grand Canyon in Sedona, Arizona, L’Auberge de Sedona is just a short drive from the country’s acclaimed Grand Canyon National Park.  The experts at the luxury boutique hotel have a breadth of knowledge to share with their guests if they’d like to tackle the trails on their own, or guests can book the Grand Canyon Package.

 The Grand Canyon Package:

The Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring monument that must be seen. Guests can relax in L’Auberge’s beautiful accommodations, then spend a memorable day on a professionally guided tour of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The travel up Oak Creek Canyon, via luxury mini coach, is one of the top 10 scenic drives in America.

The package includes:

·       Two nights in either Lodge Room or Cottage Room

·       Grand Canyon tour for two; tour times range 10-11 hours

·       $36 breakfast credit at L’Auberge Restaurant on Oak Creek

Saguaro National Park and Coronado National Forest:

Divided into two sections, called districts, Saguaro National Park is 91,442 acres, 70,905 acres of which is designated wilderness.  The park gets its name from the saguaro, a large cactus which is native to the region.  Close by is the Coronado National Forest which is spread throughout mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.  Divided into five ranger districts, each consist of multiple “ski island” mountain ranges.

Tanque Verde Ranch, Tuscon, Arizona

Ideally located amongst Saguaro National Park and the Coronado National Forest, Tanque Verde translates as the “green pool,” a name given by the Pima Native Americans due to the seasonal river that runs through the land to create a mountainous desert oasis of vibrant cacti and various unique plants. Tanque Verde Ranch offers a variety of activities that allow guests to take advantage of this beautiful landscape, including expert-guided hikes through the Sonoran Desert or rugged Rincon and Catalina ranges, mountain biking tours, trail rides on horseback, birding adventures and nature walks. All of these activities are complementary with all-inclusive rates, which also include three daily meals and accommodations in tastefully decorated southwestern styled accommodations.

Coming Soon- the Salamander Resort & Spa paired with Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park, Virgina

This 200,000 acre park is haven to deer and songbirds and is an ideal location for outdoor activities for the whole family.

Be the First: Salamander Resort & Spa 

Salamander Resort & Spa is set to open this August in the heart of Virginia wine and horse country in the quaint 18th century village of Middleburg and a short 2-hour scenic drive along Virginia’s Skyline Drive to Shenandoah National Park. Set on 340 acres of farmland, the brand new resort will offer an unparalleled luxury experience in the region with 168 guest rooms and suites; a culinary program led by Chef Todd Gray of Equinox Restaurant in DC including a two restaurants, wine bar, cooking studio and 2-acre culinary garden; a world-class spa with 14 treatment rooms and a couples suite and an array of activities including an onsite Equestrian program to rival any other in the world, with a 22-stall barn, practice ring, riding trails and instructional classes. The property boasts tennis courts and an outdoor pool complex, and guests have privileges at the nearby Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. Fifty wineries are within an hour’s drive of the resort, as are opportunities for whitewater rafting, sporting clays and raceway spectating.

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Where would you like to park you and loved ones this summer? If you try any of the above this summer, please let Luxury Travel Mavens know what you think!

Submitted by Lisa TE Sonne for Luxury Travel Mavens

Photos, descriptions and links supplied by J Public Relations

 

“Getting to know you” in Costa Rica. Half inch poison dart frogs.

 

“Oh my gosh!”

I could hear Tex’s excitement down the path and ran with my camera. Two bright red-bodied,  blue-legged poison dart frogs seemed to be chasing each other. No wait, trying to mate. No wait- succeeding! The two half-inch, lively creatures performed their rite of Spring with us  “paparazzi,”  as our guide Tex called us, hovering and clicking away.

We were in lush, green, second-growth forest between two hanging suspension bridges in Costa Rica. ALA (Austin Lehman Adventures) aims to include surprise “Wow” moments on all their trips, but they are usually more family-geared.  When we finally gave the coupling frogs more privacy, we walked across a bridge with howling monkeys in the distance. As we rounded a bend, there was another surprise, this one well-planned:

Andy Austin, photographer extraordinaire, surprises hikers with chocolates from Montana, another delicious ALA surprise

Andy Austin proffered special chocolates from Montana, and on the rocks nearby, wonderfully cut-up  pineapple and watermelon waited to refresh us.

I had enjoyed the “Wow” moments  of  a new ALA trip to Nicaragua before and written about it for Luxury Travel Mavens.  I heard that Costa Rica was one of the most popular destinations for ALA fans for a wide range of ages because of the beauty and variety, so I wanted to see what Nicaragua’s neighbor had to offer.

I am back home, and, well, – Wow!

Other WOWs on the trip included the natural, the culinary, and the cultural:

On our first road trip from the capital to our river rafting departure, we saw two things unusual for tourists to witness: a bold King Vulture atop a tree (a birder’s bonus) and special parades of decorated giant tractors and beautiful painted carts pulled by oxen. It was a Festival for agricultural workers!

Agricultural festival in Costa Rica, by Lisa TE Sonne

That same Sunday morning, we saw two typical Costa Rican passions: Soccer fans in colors waving flags before a big match, and Catholic churches full of families. Our guide, Tex, made the visit to the Cathedral of Los Angeles  a “wow” by taking us first to a little shop where you could buy “body part” charms to leave in the church for specific health blessings.

Outrigger canoe-ing and kayaking along the Pacific coast of Costa RIca.

*Our group climbed in kayaks and a large Outrigger Canoe and paddled hard through intermittent warm rain and over large Pacific swells to reach a white sandy beach. The snorkeling didn’t look promising,  but it delivered beautifully, including a bright yellow puffer fish — round and cute, looking like Nemo would like to find him.

*After getting through some invigorating class 3 and class 4 rapids of the Pacuare River, we were deliberately tipped out of our raft at a calm section with a brisk current. We all floated through a gorgeous narrow canyon savoring post adrenalin peace and nature highs.

*Before enjoying an all organic homemade soup at the family run Arenal Vida Campesino,  eight-year-old Zura Rangine danced into our hearts showing us the “Pura Vida” spirit of Costa Rica.

*I gently swung in a hammock on a warm evening, talking for the first time to someone else in the group as he swayed in his hammock. As we delved into mind-body connections, with him explaining the latest in neuroscience, I saw a little light flash, and then another. There are both fireflies and lightening bugs in Costa Rica.

Even a bathroom window at a hiking trailhead had a “Wow”– a four inch “Owl Moth”

Wow!

Lisa TE Sonne for Luxury Travel Mavens

Photos by (c) Lisa TE Sonne

 

Click for more on ALA & Kelty in Costa Rica