Fancy an epic escape in Africa or a retreat to languid Luang Prabang? To find out more about these and other exciting adventure holidays, we put our travel questions to four of the experts from Hong Kong-based bespoke tour operator, Lightfoot Travel.
Adventure holidays #1 … the greatest wildlife experience
If you had to pick one African country for a wildlife experience, which would it be? Hard to say, but perhaps Tanzania. It has the greatest concentration and diversity of animals in Africa and it plays host to the Great Migration – the great herds spend three quarters of the year in the Serengeti here.
What is your most special memory from your travels in Tanzania? Spotting the first pack of wild dogs seen in over a year in the Serengeti! As we caught sight of the dogs, we had our backs to a herd of migrating wildebeest and zebras, with hyenas trotting and cackling amongst them. The sun was setting with dust in the air from the moving animals and the tension of the imminent showdown between the hyenas and wild dogs – it was a heady combination!
Which lodge is your favourite and why? It has to be Entamanu Ngorongoro, with the plains of the Serengeti on one side and the crater floor dropping beneath you to the other. You can be the first to enter in the morning and see crater creatures as they start going about their business at first light. If you’re lucky – and we were! – you might spot traditional Masaai herders taking their herds into the crater.
Victoria Troskie – Head of Africa
Adventure holidays #2 … a new escape close to home
Why is Laos a place to visit this year? Over the years, Laos has managed to stay quieter than its touristy neighbours and retain a lot of authenticity. While places like Luang Prabang are by no means off the beaten track, visiting the country does enable you to get away from the crowds to an extent and see a more untouched part of Indochina.
What do you recommend doing there? Taking a cruise down the Mekong River from Northern Thailand into Laos is a wonderful (and relaxing!) way to see the country, visiting rural villages along the way. I recommend two or three nights in Luang Prabang, one of the most charming places in Asia – you can potter about the town, relax at your hotel or visit gorgeous waterfalls nearby.
Where do you recommend staying? Belmond La Residence Phou Vao is situated on a hill overlooking Luang Prabang and the views are exceptional. If you’re looking to stay closer to town (and splurge a little!), Amantaka is located in a gorgeous French colonial building near the town centre.
Kieran Smith – Senior Travel Designer
Adventure holidays #3 … the ultimate family holiday
What makes NZ such a wonderful family destination? The country offers so many things that you can’t find in a big city – roaming animals, snow-capped mountains and wide open spaces for children to run around. Parents can relax knowing their kids have put down those iPads and are out playing in nature. It’s also an easy self-drive holiday for families, with wide roads and plenty of places to break up longer drives.
What activities do kids love the most? Anything to do with animals! Whale watching and swimming with dolphins in Kaikoura; watching sheep shearing and sheep herding in action in Hawke’s Bay; or visiting the Kiwi & Birdlife Park in Queenstown.
What is your favourite family property? Annandale is a gorgeous collection of four separate properties situated on a working farm in Pigeon Bay, just outside of Christchurch. Out of the four, Homestead is the most family-friendly with a pool, barbecue area, a kids’ bunk room and even a secret staircase down to the pantry!
Mei Yun Cheong – Senior Travel Designer
Adventure holidays #4 … an off-the-beaten-track adventure
What makes this such a great destination for adventure holidays? Firstly, the wildlife: polar bears and walruses in the Arctic; penguins, sea lions and albatrosses in Antarctica; whales, seals and sea birds in both. The history is also fascinating with fantastic stories of past explorers. The landscape is otherworldly, and the poles are an adventurer’s dream with kayaking, hiking, paddle-boarding, mountain climbing and more.
What’s the most vivid memory from your own travels? Silently paddling my kayak beside enormous icebergs in a pristine bay when a couple of humpback whales suddenly joined us for the ride!
Why book way in advance and why visit now? If you book a year or more ahead, you can take advantage of early offers amounting to a few thousand dollars in savings per cabin. Also, travellers should visit the poles now as sea levels are rising and air temperatures are warming up, affecting ice coverage and wildlife habitats.
Olie Lever – Head of Americas & Polar Regions
Want more ideas for adventure holidays? Here’s 10 reasons to hit the road and visit Latin America!