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In recent seasons, ABC’s long-running series The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have quietly turned their attention from catfights, crying, and ill-fated proposals to routinely showcasing some of the world’s most beautiful destinations. Of course, there’s still over-the-top drama, but more and more, it’s set against a backdrop of bucket-list adventures in far-flung locales. So far this season, Juan Pablo and company have bungee-jumped off a bridge in Los Angeles and eaten insects at a food cart in Seoul, South Korea.
But you don’t have to have a harem of romantic hopefuls in tow – or ABC’s travel budget, for that matter – to enjoy some of these experiences. Here are a few ways travelers can enjoy some of the show’s around-the-world adventures. Who knows? It just might be your Most. Dramatic. Trip. Ever.
Lots of travelers have a safari somewhere on their bucket lists. Gerry van der Walt, safari and photography expert, and co-founder of Wild Eye Photo Safaris, offers some tips and advice for planning and enjoying your Africa trip of a lifetime.
Throughout Africa, the Big 5 will always have undisputed cache among travelers. But come spring, certain regions of South Africa’s Northern Cape province, including Namaqualand, which is within about six hours’ drive of Cape Town, bloom with wildflowers. Among the standout: brilliant orange Namaqualand daisies, indigenous succulents known locally as vygies, and the impressive king protea, the country’s national plant.
Starting around August and running through September, the landscapes in this part of the continent transform into a Technicolor explosion of orange, yellow, red, and purple, as millions of wildflowers herald the end of the winter rains. Tourists flock to see the spectacular show, snapping photos, meeting fellow floraphiles, and trading stories of their excursions in restaurants and B&Bs along the way.
Here, tips on how to stop and smell the daisies. Read more
Table Mountain, the flat-topped monolith that soars over Cape Town, South Africa, is one of the coastal city’s most iconic landmarks. Named as one of the world’s new seven wonders of nature last year by the foundation New7Wonders, the gorgeous, cloud-swathed mountain is flanked by the surrounding peaks of Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak, and offers stunning views of the city and its beaches and harbor below.
It’s not surprising, then, that exploring Table Mountain is a huge draw for both visitors and Capetonians themselves – a fit, outdoorsy bunch who relish the abundance of outdoor activities their city offers. One way to impress them? Ascend to the 3,280-foot peak on foot.
On a recent trip to South Africa, I did just that – and the experience was a shining highlight of my time in Cape Town. Here, a few tips I learned on the way up. Read more
If you tend to stay away from cheesy double decker bus tours while on vacation, well…we can’t blame you. Often, the only real way to get to know a city is to just walk it, unguided, and let the adventure unfold as you go. But there’s something irresistible about surrendering to a nighttime tour: cruising down busy avenues, letting yourself be dazzled by marquee lights as they whiz by, and getting a birds-eye view of a city just as its restaurants, bars, and nightclubs begin to come alive. Just remember to put down the camera once in a while; for posterity sake, you won’t want to let the whole evening go by with your face behind a lens!
Though not as well known as its neighbor to the south, the city of Sharjah in the UAE has managed to carve out a reputation independent of Dubai and Abu Dhabi – for starters, it is a burgeoning art destination, with over 15 museums to its name, and even has its own observatory wheel. Now, thanks to a brand new night tour, visitors can now be guided through the city’s most dazzling features after the sun goes down. The Buhaira Corniche, Al Qasba (a prominent theater and exhibition space), Mega Mall, the Central Souk, and Al Noor Mosque (a destination in its own right) are just a few of the spots accessed on the new tour, which runs from 8pm to 11pm every night. $25.75 per person; for more information, click here. Read more
Even if you hold an annual pass to your local aquarium, it’s hard not to be awestruck by the sight of a slick-backed whale gliding through its natural habitat. The supersize creatures have fascinated travelers and scientists alike for eons, and the whale watching industry has benefitted greatly from all the intrigue.
Part of the mystique is the continual game of hide-and-seek whales play with us, their observers. Much like the Northern Lights, spotting a whale requires you to be in the right place at the right time. If you’re looking to spot a pod on your next trip, here are a few places where you stand a better-than-average chance at getting splashed. Read more
They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. This year, March has come in like a lion and gone out like some kind of lion-velociraptor hybrid. With a bunch of late-season storms walloping parts of the U.S. and others shivering through an extended cold spell, it’s easy to forget that spring has officially arrived. While you’re waiting for the weather to catch up with the season, close out March in Africa, where more manageable climates, majestic beasts, arid deserts, and stunning architecture await those with an adventurous spirit.
Spring hasn’t sprung just yet, but we’re already anxious for it’s arrival. After the slew of bad weather that’s ransacked the country, we’re ready for sunshine and the scent of blooming buds. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for warm weather to stop and smell the roses – or any other type of flower, for that matter. We put together a list of some of the most spectacular botanical gardens in the world. Plus, many of them have greenhouses and indoor facilities – perfect to perk up a somber rainy day.
With this edition of our Monday Deal Alert, we’ve compiled some of the best airfare currently in the market, from West Coast escapes to journeys to Eastern Europe. Rates start from as little as $69, so whether you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway or a long vacation, we’ve got plenty of ways for you to fly away this fall.
Virgin America’s current fall sale features amazing one-way rates between West Coast cities, like $69 between San Francisco and Las Vegas, $89 between Los Angeles and Portland, and $109 between Seattle and San Francisco. The sale doesn’t only apply to West Coasters, though: you can also fly one-way to Los Angeles from Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia for $139, or from Orlando, New York City, or Boston for $159. Just book your getaway fast – this sale ends at midnight tonight. Read more
Though votes are still being counted and the results are provisional, the New7Wonders Foundation announced a new list of wonders on Friday. In alphabetical order, the winners are: the Amazon, Halong Bay, Iguazu Falls, Jeju Island, Komodo, Puerto Princesa Underground River, and Table Mountain (pictured). 440 locations were in the running, narrowed down to 28 prior to the final vote.
The poll has created a bit of a stir, however, when, following paying a registration fee of $199, the Maldives and Indonesia were asked for $500,000 and $57 million, respectively. The New7Wonders Foundation allegedly asked Indonesia for $10 million in licensing fees and $47 million to host the closing ceremony. The Maldives and the Indonesian government did not pony up the cash, but did remain in the running. The foundation has denied these claims.
These six sexy properties have played home away from home to everyone from the Obamas to Madonna, providing the perfect respite for royalty, rock stars, and heads of state. So, whether you are looking to globe trot, celebrity spot, or simply live in the lap of luxury, you may want to hunker down in one of these world class properties for otherworldly accommodations and simply the best spa treatments on the planet. Enjoy…
The Luxury With 35 years of experience, Travel Beyond knows South Africa inside and out. Its top Cape Town hotel pick, the elegant Cape Grace, has a waterfront location and perks like car service and daily wine tastings. Antiques, crafts, and individually curated book collections decorate the 120 harbor- or marina-view rooms. The Signal restaurant serves local fare like snoek (a Cape fish) and springbok (gazelle); the Bascule Bar pours some 400 whiskeys. An on-site spa offers African-inspired treatments.
The Value Exclusive to readers from June 1 to August 31, Travel Beyond’s Cape Town Connoisseur package features a four-night stay at Cape Grace for the price of three, a guaranteed room upgrade, two tickets to Table Mountain and Robben Island (where the legendary political figure Nelson Mandela was imprisoned), and airport transfers. Rates start at $1,145/person (based on double occupancy) for the four-night stay.
The Catch Airfare (not included) averages about $1,900 round-trip from New York City in the summer.
The Details 800-823-6063; travelbeyond.com (code Smart Luxury)
From the spring/summer issue of Smart Luxury Travel magazine by ShermansTravel.com.
For general trip-planning information, see our Cape Town Travel Guide.
If you liked what you saw on the February 28th episode of the ABC TV series “The Bachelor,” where bachelor Brad Womack and the three remaining bachelorettes traveled to South Africa for a romantic safari, recreate it with a South African Tourism (www.southafrica.net) package that combines a game-viewing and Cape Town experience.
Brad, along with Chantal, Emily, and Ashley, explored the breathtaking landscape and abundant wildlife – lion, zebra, elephant, hippopotamus, giraffe – at the Lion Sands Private Game Reserve (www.lionsands.com), a reserve in the world-famous Sabi Sand Game Reserve that has been family-owned since 1933. The reserve features three lodges, The 1933 Lodge, where Brad stayed, and the Ivory Lodge and River Lodge (shown above at left), where the “fantasy suites” were located.
A diverse country, both in terms of its people and its attractions, South Africa has always been a first-rate vacation destination. Yet, stuck somewhere between a developed and developing nation, it has often been over looked by travelers. Now, with the country making moves to become a member of the global economy and its current stint in the limelight, thanks to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we foresee it transforming into one serious vacation hot spot.
In preparation for hosting the World Cup, the South African government put millions of dollars into preparing its host cities for the expected hundreds of thousands of visitors. While financially, these renovations may leave the country in debt once the competition ends, the improvements will make the lives of tourists (and residents) easier for years to come. Now, it will be even easier and safer to experience South Africa’s beautiful landscapes, exciting safaris, serene beaches, and unique cultures – in style. Read more
As everyone’s eyes turn toward South Africa and the upcoming World Cup, prices are about to skyrocket and crowds soon to descend to the tip of the African continent. With the terrific deal we found, you can soak up some of the excitement before the hordes arrive, in high style. Cape Grace, a premier luxury hotel right at the heart of Cape Town’s bustling Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, is offering a stellar pre-World Cup package. This special, seemingly expensive at $3,200, is in fact really well-priced, considering the iconic Cape Town experiences and exclusive perks that it includes. The package covers three nights in one of the luxury rooms at Cape Grace; a harbor cruise on Cape Grace’s own luxury yacht, Spirit of the Cape; a beach picnic on trendy Camps Bay Beach; a cable car up and rappel/hike down Table Mountain; a tour of local Constantia wineries in motorcycle sidecar; and a helicopter flip over Table Mountain. Apropos of the property: Winner of many awards, Cape Grace is a top Cape Town retreat, known for its outstanding service, the classic chic of its recently refashioned guestrooms and suites, and its top-notch facilities. Value-added elements include complimentary in-room Wi-Fi and chauffer transfers in a luxury BMW within a 12-mile radius of the hotel. The package is valid from April 1 till June 1, 2010.
See our Cape Town Travel Guide for more trip planning information.
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