In 2019, South Africa's legendary Blue Train reinvented its classic Cape Town/Pretoria journey, extending it to a 2-night slow travel experience. Now their Hoedspruit safari departures are set for a complete makeover for 2020, making the journey a round trip including sunrise and sunset Big Five game drives, a boma dinner under the stars and traditional dancing.
Previously, The Blue Train offered an overnight journey from Pretoria to Hoedspruit (or vice versa) leaving guests to check into one of the Sabi Sands/Greater Kruger Lodges for a few nights. The challenge, however, was finding availability for 70 – 80 guests. Now the train will offer its safari departure as a return round trip to the Kruger that will depart Pretoria on day one, arrive at the Kruger National Park the next morning for a full day guided safari including sunrise and sunset game drives. The train will then head back to Pretoria, arriving around noon on day three.
After boarding, guests have a five-course gourmet lunch, followed by high tea at and dinner. Next morning it's an early start as the train arrives at Kruger's Numbi Gate. Safari vehicles with guides take guests on a sunrise game drive including a bush breakfast at an exclusive, unfenced location inside Kruger Park. Guests return to the train for a five-course lunch around noon. In the afternoon, guests head out on safari again, this time in a private 11,0000-hectare concession finishing with a spectacular boma dinner under the stars at Nkambeni Safari Camp with traditional dancing. Guests return to the train at 10 pm which heads back to Pretoria arriving after breakfast.
Fred. Olsen River Cruises has returned to Europe's waterways with a five-night 'Springtime Dutch Discovery' fly-cruise from Amsterdam and a further 27 fly-cruises on offer this year. 156-guest Brabant will return to the Danube, Moselle, Rhine and Main rivers, with five to 25 night itineraries and an expanded enrichment programme of expert speakers to allow guests to experience the best of each destination.
Keith Norman, River Sales Manager at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines said:
“We enjoyed a successful first year with Brabant in 2018, but this year we stop being 'newcomers' and will stake our place in the river cruise market. Bookings are already up by more than 30% on the same time last year. Our guests can enjoy an expanded enrichment programme with knowledgeable speakers, experts in their fields, who join a number of sailings to enhance the holiday experience. This adds to our immersive programme of shore excursions, led by insightful guides local to various ports of call. "
Experts set to enhance the guest experience on Brabant include: cyclist and travel writer, Andrew Sykes; Hugh Ellwood, with expertise in history and architecture; wine expert Martin Ward and WW2 historian Philip Sanders. They will deliver lectures which they will then build upon by accompanying some tours and providing hands-on advice and guidance to guests.
The first Canary Islands lighthouse hotel has opened on the island of La Palma. After three years of extensive renovation, the 152-year-old lighthouse has opened its doors for guests seeking an off-grid experience.
Faro Cumplida sits on the most northerly part of La Palma offering undisturbed views of the Atlantic Ocean. The lighthouse which is still in nautical use, accommodates up to eight guests in the light housekeeper's house, located directly below the watchtower.
Offering a modern architectural style within a historical structure, guests can appreciate the history of the building in a modern context. Facilities include four rooms, four bathrooms, a roof terrace, an infinity pool, 36m high watchtower and Canary-Islands garden. The two suites sleep four and two people respectively and both offer their own private terrace to appreciate the spectacular surrounds.
The traditional patio with its pergola made of local Tea Wood leads to the lighthouse entrance and the 158 steps to the top of the tower. Guests can also enjoy a glass of wine or refreshment from the Sky High Mini Bar, a rewarding treat after the climb.
A HOTEL WITH HISTORY
On 28 October 1942 during World War II a German submarine sunk the British battle ship Pacific Star near La Palma. After three days, the castaways spotted the light of Faro Punta Cumplida, came onshore and managed to reach the coast of Barlovento, where locals took the 97 sailors into their homes. Today, Faro Punta Cumplida is the only lighthouse in the Canary Islands which offers accommodation and is still in nautical use.
ABOUT LA PALMA
La Isla Bonita (The Pretty Island) is the most north-westerly of the Canary Islands. It has a network of more than 1,000 kms of marked trails, making it the ideal place for hikers and nature lovers in search of an off-the-beaten-track destination.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and author of 11 books. My byline appears in national and regional newspapers and magazines. Website gillypickup.co.uk