Worldwide Holidays has experienced a great start to 2013 and we are now looking forward with our usual passion and a renewed sense of optimism and energy. We are pleased to report that our enquiry levels are once again on the increase, with numbers returning to our previously healthy levels. Our enviable record of repeat bookings continues and customer recommendations are also on the increase. We’ve also had the best ever response from our existing clients for our now sought after Worldwide Holidays Desk Calendars!
Our success is built on the quality of our partners and suppliers and we thank you all for your continued support, both on the ground and during the quoting process.
Even better news is that we have now joined forces with Steamond Ltd, our primary UK flight supplier. Not only will this provide Worldwide Holidays with keener rates for flights, it will allow us to develop our core proposition into other destinations over time through organic growth. This exciting development has seen the ownership of the company change hands to Steamond’s owner / founder, Marcio Da Silva.
Worldwide Holidays has been working closely and successfully with Steamond for the past 6 years. Reflecting on the new partnership, Marcio commented ‘I liked the company so much I bought it!‘ According to Helen Baillie, who founded Worldwide Holidays in 1996, the business plan for the company will not change, nor will the close relationships with our valued suppliers. “I have great confidence in the future of Worldwide Holidays ”
Helen added. “Our premier positioning and company values remain, and with Steamond on board we now have access to a larger client base and new investment opportunities setting us up for the future. With the support of our suppliers the future looks really exciting and I look forward to our continued working through 2013″.
The Sol & Luna Lodge & Spa has been named in the Top 25 Hotels in the World by TripAdvisor at its annual Travellers’ Choice Awards 2013. Just one hour away from Cusco the Sol & Luna Lodge is the perfect retreat beautifully designed and decorated in warm yellow colours.
The TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards 2013, based on millions of reviews and feedback from travellers who rated more than 650,000 Hotels around the world, recognized Sol & Luna Lodge & Spa in the Top 25 Hotels in the World, the only Hotel in Latin America named in this top award category.
Facilities include a tennis court, pool and stunning spa. The hotel also has its own ranch with famous Peruvian Paso horses – guests can arrange for horse riding excursions. The restaurant amid stunning Andean landscapes, offers neo-Andean cuisine, famous barbecue or the traditional pachamanca, all of which are enhanced by the ingredients harvested in the valley, producing fabulous food.
Minutes away from the hotel, you can find important archaeological sites such as: Moray, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero and Machu Picchu. Activities from the lodge include; mountain biking trails, ATV (quad bike) adventure, hiking, kayaking or for the more adventurous Tandem Paragliding.
If you’d like to read more about this fantastic lodge and spa just visit our dedicated Sol & Luna Lodge webpage!
Worldwide Holidays, specialists in tailor made holidays to exotic locations, have developed the ultimate wedding gift – your honeymoon. Our innovative and exciting wedding list service allows honeymoon couples to chose a dream honeymoon destination and provides your wedding guests, family & friends the opportunity to contribute towards its cost, or alternatively, buy special activities for you to experience on you dream trip. So, instead of the usual quirky vase or additions to the Sunday best crockery, you could just as easily be having the time of your life and experiencing the stunning Costa Ricarain forests by zip wire !
Worldwide Holidays offers a number of select and distinctive destinations that will provide the stunning backdrop for your Wedding Day or honeymoon. Whether it’s the rich ecosystems of Costa Rica, the intoxicating, vibrant country of Cuba or the welcoming cultural Mecca of Sri Lanka that suits your taste, we can tailor-make your wedding and honeymoon to suit you. Perhaps Jordan’s special mesmerizing beauty, the wild land of Argentina or the amazing Galapagos Islands, the ultimate honeymoon location for nature lovers, where you will never be closer to some of the world’s most beautiful and stunning marine life. We can help select the perfect location for you.
Whether an intimate ceremony for just the two of you or a larger celebration with family and friends, we will help with all aspects of your dream wedding. And because we specialise and know our destinations intimately, we will not only advise you of the ideal destination and itinerary for you, but we will guide you through all the legal requirements of your wedding.
Our Madagascar Group Tour is back again! The revised group tour for 2012/13 allows clients to experience the amazing wildlife and local tribes & cultures. The 11 night tour features many of Madagascar’s highlights and national parks including Anja Park, Isalo National Park and Ranomafana National Park. We have selected small, comfortable, friendly hotels located in beautiful surrounding.
For more information on this unique group tour experience please visit our Madagascar Group Tour webpage.
Sad news reached the Worldwide Holidays office earlier this week when it was reported that Lonesome George, a Pinta Island tortoise from the Galapagos has died. Lonesome George was the last tortoise of his kind residing in a special conservation area in the Galapagos and has been described as the rarest creature in the world. Lonesome George was over 100 years old when he died on June 24th, it is beleived his death may have been related to heart failure.
The Ecuadorean government had been trying to find a suitable female mate for Lonesome George for many years but was unfortunetly un-successful and the death of Lonesome George means the world loses his kind as a sub-species.
Galapagos is such an incredible place so much amazing variety of wildlife many of the creatures are endangered species protected by the Darwin Research Station.
Our Galapagos ground agents were kindly able to provide a detailed history of Lonesome George, we hope you find this an interesting read.
When the Galápagos Islands became a National Park in 1959, conservation priorities were a top priority for the world’s scientific community. Giant tortoises, who gave their names to the remote archipelago, ranked high, together with the need to eradicate introduced animals (rats, goats, etc.) from the archipelago’s days as a pirate bolt-hole.
Hundreds of thousands of giant tortoises had been killed for food during the intense whaling years of the 18th and 19th centuries. Conservation reached Galápagos too late for some. Floreana and Santa Fe Island Giant Tortoises had disappeared long ago, and the only known living tortoise from Fernandina Island was killed and preserved in the name of research and conservation during a United States expedition in 1907. The La Pinta Tortoise was, officially, another species wiped out, while the island itself was plagued by introduced goats, the tortoises’ direct, warm-blooded competitors for food.
Inadvertently, in December 1971 a young snail expert, Joseph Vagvolgyi, while squatting over the resident Bulimulus spp snails of La Pinta Island, was startled by moving shrubbery. He expected goats to have caused the commotion, but instead saw a male tortoise emerging from the foliage. His report went unnoticed until 1972, when a team of park wardens went to La Pinta Island to hunt introduced goats. On that visit an Ecuadorian field biologist, Manuel Cruz, took the opportunity to analyze the stomach content of goats to understand better the effect of goats foraging upon the fragile flora of the Galápagos. Cruz once again stumbled upon the last living tortoise of La Pinta. But this time he opted for rounding up wardens to help him lug the weighty (200-pound/90-kg), reptile down to the beach. A few days later the tortoise was happily ensconced at the Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island.
The relevance of this ‘animal rescue’ didn’t become evident until much later. In the 1970s, each island’s tortoise population was taxonomically seen as a subspecies – with only subtle differences among them. In subsequent years, scientists agreed that they were all different species. The only remaining living tortoise of La Pinta became a “living extinct species”, unless a female was found. From that day forth, the search began to find another female La Pinta tortoise. Officially, a monetary reward still exists for the person who delivers a female La Pinta tortoise to the National Park authorities.
In the meantime, one of the wardens from the 1972 team on la Pinta, Fausto Llerena, took over the care of the all resident tortoises at the Charles Darwin Research Station. George, as he called him, became better known over the years as “Lonesome George”, possibly named after the American comedian George Gobel (1919-1991) who used this nickname in some of his shows.
As the last living tortoise of La Pinta species, Lonesome George soon became a living icon for conservation not only in the Galápagos but also internationally. His image is the logo of the Galápagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Research Station, and he is possibly the world’s most famous reptile. He even has an entry as the rarest animal in the world in the Guinness Book of Records and a clothing line named after him. As author Henry Nicholls puts it: “His story echoes the challenges of conservation worldwide; it is a story of Darwin, sexual dysfunction, adventure on the high seas, cloning, DNA fingerprinting and eco-tourism.”
His departure is felt worldwide. A faint flame of hope remains, following a recent study in northern Isabela (where species with Floreana Island DNA were found), with the tortoises presumably removed in whaling days that carry George’s species DNA. Perhaps George’s death is not entirely the last page of a chapter initially stained by human greed, later redeemed with dedicated efforts towards the preservation of endangered species. As for the old male from La Pinta, he will be remembered for generations to come, and his story will serve to shed light on our responsibility towards the other species on our planet.
Having started to work with the Mountain Lodge of Peru because it sounded like a really good alternative to the normal trek done by nearly all the usual tourists I really wanted to try the 7 day trek to Machu Picchu. The added value of combining it with time in the beautiful Sacred Valley & Cusco was an absolute bonus.
What an amazing experience – I was so impressed with how friendly and clean everywhere was in Peru right from the time we arrived in Lima. We spent our first night at the beautiful colonial Country Club Hotel as we arrived late in the evening and took an early morning flight to Cusco the next day.
Our first flight seemed to take us to the top of the world, as Cusco is 3550 metres above sea level, and straight away you feel the affects of the high altitude! So even at the airport slightly short of breath I was wondering whether I was going to acclimatise in time for our trek.
So to give yourself time but not wasting a minute we headed off to the Sacred Valley which has the added bonus of being slightly lower at 2900 metres. What an amazing place, walking around the slightly eerie ruins of the Inka civilisation reliving their way of life and then looking out across the stunning views of the mountain tops - wow just mind blowing. Coming down to earth a little we were then escorted by a guide around the Pisca Market which offers great shopping but is also an insight into the Inka beliefs through the silver and textiles still used today.
Having thought we were going back to the hotel to rest our over stretched senses we arrived at the The Sol y Luna Hotel to be bowled over again – what a haven of tranquillity – the walls beautifully decorated with local art made it the perfect place to rest in the Sacred Valley (Bono thought so too). Each individual traditional stone ‘casitas’ or cottage, all with private terraces, is sympathetically furnished and decorated with local textiles and fully equipped with everything you need. Within the grounds, where each building is painted a different vibrant colour matching the local flowers, there is a wonderful Spa offering all kinds of treatments to suit all visitors.
Part of the hotel complex is its own Ranch with the famous Peruvian Paso horses which put on a daily exhibition for your entertainment with lunch – you see the horses at their very best. If you are very brave you can even try riding at the end of the show or book a ride around the local village and surrounding areas. Although the horses are wonderfully responsive, just a finger on the reins to change the direction, the gait which has evolved over the years because of the steep terrain, is very difficult to get used to.
After having spent two nights in Cusco – the least amount of time recommended to acclimatise before setting off on the trek – we were sad to say good bye. It would be very easy to spend a week in Cusco as it is a lovely city, I have never been to such a beautifully clean, safe place and with the knowledgeable guides to escort you, you learn more and more about the culture and history with every turn you make.
So on our last night in one of the many great restaurants in Cusco we had our final briefing before our departure the next morning. Everything was explained in full detail – pick up times, what to take, what to leave in Cusco, what to expect and also giving you a chance to meet the group who you would be spending the next 7 days with.
Waking the following morning, everyone full of excitement, we set off in mini buses to the start of our 7 days trek making our way though local towns where we stopped to buy local jams and marmalades.
Day 1 – The first day was a half day walk, not too punishing, to get you warmed up for the rest of the trip, ending at Salkantay Lodge at Soraypampa @ 3850m. The lodge with its wood burning stoves, luxury duvets and even hot water bottles for the night, looked out over the stunning views of the snow capped Salkantay Mountain & glacier. With the added bonus of a communal hot tub in the grounds, a welcome treat after our first walk.
Day 2 – This is the largest lodge on the trek and you spend two nights here with the second day of trekking to the glacier lakes at a height of 4300 metres getting you slowly used to the altitude. Returning for lunch you can then either just relax for the afternoon or go horse riding on their large super quarter horses. There is also an option to do the 7 day trek on horse back, the climax of this challenging riding experience is riding up to a huge Inka cross right at the very top of the mountain. We just took photographs!
Day 3 – is the big one! An incredibly long days walk, reaching the summit of 4600 metres – such an achievement – and by this time we are a really a group – all getting to know each other, we had: Americans, Brazilians, Mexican; Spanish and the 2 Peruvian guides. It proved to be a fantastic combination of cultures, languages and fun. I would say I had the best group, but I am sure the type of people who choose such a trip would always make a very interesting mixture. So walking with Condors flying high above the mountain and Chinchillas the size of large rabbits all around us we seemed to cover so much ground without even realising it.
Wayran Lodge, our second stop is the most remote @ 3920 meters and is the cosiest place to stay with the obligatory hot tub- a lovely way to relax the aching legs and revive yourself for another lovely dinner. The food in all the lodges and Peru generally, is superb, usually consisting of loads of vegetables tastily prepared – a welcome feast especially following a Pico Sour! – but watch out for the alcohol not always a good idea at that altitude.
Day 4 and only a half day walk to the Colpa Lodge – a welcome descent of 1000 metres along the canyon and down the valleys with the river running along beside you. A complete change of scenery from the mountain tops, with an abundance of flowers and birds as you head into the tropical climate of the lower areas. So now at 2150 metres you are met with an already prepared feast from the BBQ before you spend a relaxing afternoon in the grounds. The hot tub waiting to relax those aching muscles but now in lovely warm and sunny temperatures – but again watch out for the sun at this altitude.
At the beginning of each day, before your trek, there is always a good supply of snacks and water for you to collect before you leave – it is recommended that you drink at least 3 litres of water a day. There is even a supply of toilet paper and a bag just in case of emergencies! Mountain Lodges think of everything.
I did unfortunately succumb to altitude sickness, not the first time I have suffered, however with the expert care,once I was taken to lower altitude, I recovered very quickly, and it still wouldn’t stop me returning – I thought this trip was amazing.
Day 5 is an easy walk, some of our group headed off for a Zip Wire trip – reporting back that it was amazing. We walked the last part on a restored Inka trail – through coffee and avocado fields finally arriving at Luma Lodge which is the lowest @ 1900 metres. We visited a local farmer who made coffee for us in his house with Guinea pigs running around the floor while his wife roasted the coffee bean before grinding them to make the fresh coffee.
Day 6 is a complete change and full of excitement again walking early morning to an Inka ruin not yet restored and finding on arrival that we were looking over to Machu Picchu on the opposite mountain. You can see why the Spanish did not rediscover it until 1911 as it is completely hidden, nestling in the stunning green mountains which surround it.
Lunch provided by a local farmer of avocado and trout was an extra bonus whilst sitting in awe with your own peaceful, private view of Machu Picchu. After lunch we were off ever downwards now to the valley floor to the top of the station at the top of the railway for Machu Pichu an alternative way to reach area.
The whole group was on the most fantastic high with the sense of achievement, the wonderful wellbeing of the comradeship that had built up between us or perhaps it was the injection of plenty of oxygen but anyway we all felt so good.
We checked into the amazing Inkaterra Hotel – a very gentle introduction back to some reality. There is an option for a second night here with very good rates so that you could enjoy the best nature trails and different restaurants at your leisure.
Day 7 is Machu Picchu! Up at 5am to get the 6am bus for the 20 minute drive to the ruins. Nothing prepares you for how huge it is! It’s hard walking in the warm climate, but with stunning views every way you look, in ever changing cloud formations, it’s truly amazing. The guided tour here is essential to understand the construction and beliefs of the Inka civilisation. An expression we made up on our trip which means Wow was ‘Offda’ which this certainly was.
After a nice lunch back down at the Inkaterra hotel where we caught the train for our journey back to Cusco.
All in all this is a trip I would recommend to all – incredible to be away from the crowds, in the remote Peruvian mountains occasionally coming across locals taking their mules & horses along the same trails they have used for centuries. In luxury and safe hands you can just enjoy the stunning scenery and envelope yourself in the history & culture.
Comments from my fellow travellers:
‘It was truly a trip to remember for ever’
‘Really was an unforgettable trip, which we will really miss!’
‘We also will never forget the trip and time together with the group’
I would really like to help you plan a perfect trip including this 7 day trek walking or on horseback – I have some great suggestions which could include this trek into a 15 nights trip so that you see everything that Peru can offer. Please contact me on 01202 606160
The Princess Bora Lodge and Spa in Madagascar has recently been reviewed by the Telegraphs’s Nigel Richardson. Calling the unique hotel:
“An Indian Ocean hideaway off the east coast of Madagascar, that combines the simplicity of the South Pacific with the barefoot chic of a boutique Caribbean hotel.”
One of the best features about the Princess Bora Lodge is watching the humpback whales in the Indian Ocean whilst relaxing on an authentic tropical island. “Informal, sun-soaked, discreet: the smallish infinity pool lies above the white-sand beach, parallel to the ocean. Wooden boardwalks thread between tropical gardens and neat bamboo hedging to link the guest villas to the spa and beachfront bar and restaurant.”
With an overall rating of 8/10 by the Telegraph and with an average rating of 4.5 / 5 on Trip Advisor, the Princess Bora Lodge is certainly a place to consider visiting on a trip to Madagascar. Why not take a look at our gallery of pictures before reading Nigel Richardson’s review in the travel section of the Telegraph website.
Good News!! The first count of the global vote to elect the New 7 Wonders of Nature has been announced. In alphabetical order, they are: The Amazon, Halong Bay, Iguazu Falls, Jeju Island, Komodo, Puerto Princesa Underground River, Table Mountain.
The results will now be checked, validated and independently verified. Once the voting validation process is completed, in early 2012, the New 7 Wonders of Nature will be officially announced.
The Amazon River has been an alluring dream for explorers and travelers alike. Today you may discover Earth’s greatest wilderness on unique expedition voyages designed exclusively by Worldwide Holidays, since 1996.
Raul Castro, the president of Cuba has recently announced a change in policy which will now allow Cubans to buy and sell used cars from the end of the 1959 revolution. Previously Cubans were not allowed to buy and sell cars which resulted in many very old cars being used by locals to travel around in. These unique Cuban cars have long been an attraction when visiting Cuba. Visitors to the very unique destination could step back in time and experience some of the oldest cars still being used in the world from as far back as 1952 and beyond. Our Cuba specialist, Fiona visited earlier in the year and experienced some of these vintage classics in her April blog post. With these cars still being used today this demonstrates the amount of care and attentions Cubans have taken to keep these cars on the road, many of them are kept in pristine condition!
BBC News recently covered the story - to view the article and video just follow this link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-15710861
This weeks news may signal the start of the end for these classic cars as Cubans will now be able to exchange cars for newer models. Travellers who would like to experience the delights of seeing this vintage cars in their prime may want to consider a trip to the unique and intoxicating Cuba before time for these cars runs out!
To find out more about Cuba, why not download our detailed brochure? Or contact our specialist, Fiona on 01202 606160
Julia’s House children’s hospice in Dorset is a dedicated team of volunteers that provide care to children who Dorset who have life-limiting conditions. The team consists of over 80 Nurses and Carers who are working to offer around the clock care for those children in need. After hearing about the hard work these volunteers do for our local children. I was excited to be able to offer on behalf of Worldwide Holidays my personal Antiguan villa, Villa North Shore as a perfect prize to offer at the recent Julia’s House ball. A whole weeks stay was offered as part of the winning prize which caused alot of excitement for the esteemed volunteers.
Villa North Shore is a luxury Villa in Antigua set within lush and well-tended tropical gardens. The lucky winner will enjoy the many varied amenities within Jolly Harbour which include a fantastic marina, golf and a beautiful Caribbean beaches.
Personally, and at Worldwide Holidays we are delighted to be involved with Julia’s house which have some fantastic aims for the year ahead and the charity indicates that it will cost nearly £2.8m to continue to provide their vital services. If you would like to donate to Julia’s House, the Dorset Children’s Hospice so that they can continue to provide this outstanding service to children in need. You can find the donation link at the bottom of this post.