Eight Immersive Travel Experiences in Manitoba

By: Melanie Swenarchuk

The province of Manitoba, nestled in the heart of Canada, offers visitors a chance to embark on extraordinary eco-friendly tours, discover captivating Indigenous attractions, and indulge in immersive cultural experiences. With its untouched natural landscapes and commitment to sustainability, Manitoba beckons travelers seeking genuine adventure and a deeper connection with the destination’s history and environment. Read on for eight heart-stirring adventures you can experience in the middle of Canada. 

1. Experience an Arctic Safari

Churchill, known as the polar bear capital of the world, is one of the few human settlements where these majestic mammals can be viewed in the wild. In the summer, visitors have the opportunity to see thousands of beluga whales gather at the mouth of the Churchill River. In the fall, travelers can see polar bears roam the Hudson Bay coastline, spot other arctic wildlife and marvel at the beauty of the tundra. The dazzling northern lights appear at night and are another main attraction. 

Tour operators like Churchill Wild and Frontiers North Adventures offer ways to see wildlife while minimizing your impact on the environment. You can get up close and personal with polar bears in an electric Tundra Buggy® with Frontiers North Adventures. Due to zero-emission vehicle technology, this new type of Tundra Buggy® means minimal disruption to the bears and their natural habitat.  

Or join a walking tour with Churchill Wild for your chance to see polar bears and wolves in the wild. Your ground-level safari will be led by a professionally trained guide to help keep you and the polar bears safe while protecting their natural habitat. 

2. Celebrate Indigenous cultures at The Leaf – Canada’s Diversity Gardens  

The Leaf – Canada’s Diversity Gardens is one of Manitoba’s newest attractions with indoor and outdoor spaces that explore connections between people and plants. The Gardens at The Leaf is a 30-acre revitalized outdoor space divided into six uniquely themed gardens touching on connections with food, our senses and Indigenous cultures and languages.  

Each detail of the Indigenous Peoples Garden was inspired by Elders and community members who came together to create this unique outdoor space. From the wood carvings to the fire circle, each piece was thoughtfully chosen to create a place to learn, connect and celebrate Indigenous stories, cultures and languages. Access to the outdoor gardens is free and events are held in the Performance Garden throughout the summer.

3. View thousands of pieces of Inuit art in one place 

Qaumajuq is a stunning addition to the Winnipeg Art Gallery in the city’s downtown area. Its architecture was inspired by Canada’s northern landscape; its unmistakable white stone façade echoes the vastness of this land of snow and ice. Inside, a three-storey glass vault filled with thousands of Inuit carvings greets visitors. Qaumajuq houses the world’s largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art at over 14,000 pieces, each piece representing the story of Canada’s North.  

4. Learn about Indigenous rights at the world’s only museum for human rights 

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is impressive not only for its innovative architecture it’s also the world’s only museum dedicated to the topic of global human rights issues. The Indigenous Perspectives Gallery at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a dramatic space that tells the story of First Peoples. The dedicated gallery is complex, sometimes uncomfortable and also beautiful, but it’s not the only place where Indigenous stories are told. Throughout the museum, the history of colonial violations collides with stunning artworks and thought-provoking images to offer a modern and ever-evolving perspective of human rights.  

5. Visit the National Indigenous Residential School Museum

For more than 60 years, the three-story brick building near Portage la Prairie was home to one of Canada’s enduring shames—the residential school system. Now the Rufus Prince Building, named for a survivor of Portage la Prairie Indian Residential School who served in the Second World War and became chief of Long Plain First Nation, has been transformed from a place of hurt to a place of healing. Inside the National Indigenous Residential School Museum, artifacts and documents create a memorial to those who attended the schools and help survivors along on their healing journeys.  

6. Stay at the Wyndham Garden Ode Akiing Hotel  

Winnipeg’s newest hotel is located on the first urban reserve in the city – the Long Plain Madison Reserve. Wyndham Garden Ode Akiing is a full-service hotel located on Treaty 1 Territory only a short drive from the airport and nearby attractions such as Winnipeg’s CF Polo Park Shopping Centre and Assiniboine Park.  

7. Celebrate Manito Ahbee Festival 

Add a powwow to your summer plans this year. The annual Manito Ahbee Festival in mid-May in Winnipeg celebrates art, music, culture, dance, filmmaking and food, and kicks off the powwow season across Turtle Island. The Grand Entry is not-to-be-missed as dancers and elders formally open the event, followed by workshops hosted by knowledge keepers to learn cultural customs and the basics of language.  

7. Walk where the spirit sits 

Bannock Point Petroforms echo the shapes of humans and snakes, birds and turtles, all carefully arranged in moss-covered rocks on Canada’s Precambrian shield. Diane Maytwayashing, an Anishinaabe knowledge keeper, takes visitors on guided walks of the sacred site, sharing stories of the teachings and healings that continue to this day through ceremony and song. Visitors learn about the original name of the site—Manidoo-Abi—that loosely translates into ‘where the spirit sits.’  

Find your dream vacation to Canada with a USTOA tour operator here https://ustoa.travelstride.com/trip-list/canada

About Travel Manitoba

In Manitoba, we know the longing for travel is felt in the heart. Whether your heart needs quiet, or it needs to race, sing or reflect, Canada’s Heart is Calling. Travel Manitoba is a source of trip inspiration for bucket-list adventurers, outdoors enthusiasts and arts and culture explorers. Manitoba is located in the middle of Canada and is home to a thriving urban hub in capital city Winnipeg, wide-open landscapes and pristine wilderness throughout the province. 

About the Author: Melanie Swenarchuk is Senior Market Development Manager and an expert on all things Manitoba. See https://travelmanitoba.com/travel-trade for more information.   

The Plight of the Forest Person 

By: Ralf Korber – SITA World Tours

Wake up is at 3am. Breakfast. At 4am we get into our two boats, ten of us in each simple, open craft to go down the lower Kinabatangan River to the Bornean village of Sukau where a bus will be waiting returning us to Sandakan airport.  The river is wide here. It is dark and low fog is hanging over the water. The stars and half-moon are beautiful, but we cannot see the riverbank. A strangely delightful experience. The remoteness of this place is palatable. And how do the boat drivers navigate safely in this foggy darkness?  

Lodge at the River

Our small group had spent three days in a rainforest lodge at the Kinabatangan, Orangutan and other wildlife trekking. We were folks in our 60s, 70s and three of us were octogenarians, all nature and animal lovers. Most of us visiting were aware that the world we had entered was under threat. Three days earlier on our two-hour ride from Sandakan to the tiny hamlet of Sukau, where the boats were waiting to take us upriver, we had transited a landscape of rolling hills with palm oil plantations. These palms lined up in orderly rows to the horizon. A man-made landscape. Impressive and at the same time ominous. The home of the Orangutan no more.  


The rainforest the Orangutans call home today is a relatively narrow stretch of secondary forest along the river. Primary forest lands here had been logged decades earlier we learned. Classroom style information shared with us at the rainforest lodge was honest and thorough. Informative maps highlighted the remaining wildlife space in comparison to the vast surrounding palm oil lands truthfully. 

Patches of rain forest along the river, a few square miles each and not all connected to each other. “Does this mean the Orangutan population cannot cross breed to keep the gene pool healthy”? “Do they cross over the palm oil plantation space to the next forest patch”? Those were questions we had.  They were met by euphemistic answers. “The government is aware”, we were told.  And “Orangutans are the slowest breeding mammals and inbreeding issues would earliest become a challenge in 100 years”. 


Nevertheless, trekking through these forests is a rewarding adventure. The nature guides we had contracted were phenomenal and much needed. All of us were from US metro areas and therefore had developed urban sensory expertise. Useless here. The guides saw things we would not. The trekking itself is not always easy. One must cross creeks and ditches and while it is fun to slide down a muddy embankment, try to climb up on the other side. Some of us needed help, a push or pull. The nature guides performed well in this, too. It made for good laughs as did the ever-present leech avoidance efforts.  The lodge sells leech-socks at a nominal fee, a garment most were unfamiliar with, but all added quickly to their wardrobe. And one can rent rubber boots.  

With the help of the guides, we found orangutans in the forest including a mother and son duo.  Magic moments.  For a minute the thought of danger confronting these amazing animals is forgotten.  


Some of us also took boats to travel to the forest. Ideal for older visitors. There are plenty of natural side channels to the Kinabatangan, some of them narrow. It is easy to meet a variety of rainforest creatures. During one such moment, we came across a 23-member troop of Long-Tailed Macaques. The sun was setting; bedtime. The adults were already resting on various branches of a large tree right at the water’s edge, yet one juvenile couldn’t settle down and visibly annoyed the seniors by jumping around. We lingered for a while watching the spectacle. An Asian elephant family delighted with considerable noise a few moments later. 

The touristic service part of our visit was impressive. Nature guides enhance the experience. The river lodge was well done, built on an elevated wood frame construction to keep distance to the forest floor. There were two-bedroom units to each chalet. The units were air conditioned. The power is solar cell generated with traditional generators as emergency backup. Daily fresh food. Malaysian cuisine is fusion cuisine by cultural default, a mixture of Malay, Chinese, Indian. Very tasty.   

We learned a lot. A question remains: how will the Orangutan, a creature with about 97 percent of our own DNA, survive man’s relentless expansion into their habitat?  Or will they?  

About SITA World Tours

With 89 years of exemplary service in travel, SITA remains as the go-to tour operator for exotic destinations worldwide. Headquartered in Los Angeles, SITA is renowned for its highly experienced team of international specialists and is dedicated to travel excellence in every element of its programs. As a deluxe, luxury tour operator specializing in Packaged, Independent, Customized and Groups travel, SITA has become a key source for both the Consortium and Agent network nationwide. SITA’s well-planned tours focus on a destination’s culture, history and unique geography providing the greatest value to clients.  

About Ralf Korbner – SITA World Tours

Growing up on a horse ranch in Germany with a younger brother, two cousins and lots of animals, travel was part of our annual family rhythm as long as I can remember. Summers were spent in Italy or Spain, winters in Austria for skiing and there were trips to the Baltic Sea or along the Rhine and Mosel with visits to castles and towns along those rivers. After graduating from high school on an island in the North Sea and while a university student in Germany, friends and I drove all over Europe during summer vacations. Those trips also included Turkey, Morocco and several of the countries then still behind the Iron Curtain. I became a member of the travel industry community after completing my studies at a California university. Visits to countries in Asia, Africa and travel in Australia and New Zealand have since broadened my geographic and cultural knowledge. 

Open hearts. Open arms.  

The people of Poland have a long tradition of welcoming guests and for centuries accepting travelers under their roof was a matter of common courtesy. Today, visitors can experience this hospitality both in big-city hotels, picturesquely located manors and palaces, and in the idyllic surroundings of agro-tourism farms or vineyards. You’ll be greeted by friendly smiles as you visit Poland’s historical cities, museums, castles, and breathtaking national parks.  

Poland is the perfect destination for travelers who are looking for an unforgettable trip to the heart of Europe, and today more and more people are travelling with a purpose. They choose their destinations based on what is happening around the world and in addition to visiting beautiful landmarks and stunning national parks, they want to make a difference in the lives of others.  

In recent months, Poles have shown heartwarming solidarity toward their Ukrainian neighbors by welcoming them into their homes. The Guardian suggests that by visiting Poland tourists can boost the country’s heroic efforts to help Ukraine because these Ukrainian guests are often employed in the Polish tourism industry.  

2023 started off strong for Poland! Warsaw won the prestigious title of the most attractive tourist destination in Europe in the European Best Destinations 2023 contest. A total of 686,000 people from 178 countries participated in the contest. Warsaw received 142,081 votes, beating Athens, which received 91,000 votes. In addition, Warsaw broke the record in the “European Best Destination” contest, previously held by Porto in 2017 with 138,000 votes. In a recent CNN Travel article, Poland tops the list of 23 destination ideas for 2023. CNN reports that as many countries have dropped most of their pandemic restrictions and people are traveling internationally in large numbers, experts are optimistic about a continued travel rebound to pre-pandemic levels. CNN notes that travelers “are charging full steam ahead into the new year” and suggests that they can enjoy a city break in Warsaw, Kraków, Gdańsk, Wrocław, and Poznań or to get away from it all by experiencing the forests, lakes, and mountains of Poland’s countryside. We couldn’t agree more and here are a few ideas for your trip to Poland: 

Castles and Palaces 

There are over 500 castles and 2,500 palaces scattered all over Poland and visiting them is a fascinating journey through the ages. Whether preserved or restored, castles and palaces are full of life these days. Many of them are home to museums and education centers. While some serve as venues for cultural events or outdoor sound and light shows, others function as luxury hotels with spa facilities. Restaurants in castles and palaces take diners on journeys to the times of hunters’ parties and opulent feasts of the Polish nobility of olden days. For mouthwatering tastes of Poland, click here.  

UNESCO World Heritage Sites 

Travelling around Poland, it is worth noting its many unique historical and natural treasures. Some of them have been entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. They include castles, historic urban areas, churches, old mines, and even forests. Alongside their unquestionable value for global cultural and natural heritage, they are also must-see tourist attractions. Next to Kraków, Toruń and Zamość, where the architecture of the historical city centers never ceases to enchant visitors, the list also includes Warsaw’s Old Town. More information on UNESCO world heritage sites can be found here

Tatra Mountains

Health Resorts and Spas 

From the Baltic Sea to the Tatra Mountains, Polish resorts offer a perfect mix of nature holidays combined with the beneficial effects of medical, relaxation, and beauty treatments. Any stay in a Polish health resort is sure to be an unforgettable experience. The many sanatoriums and spa centers around the country take full advantage of Poland’s extensive cultural and natural treasures, which include fascinating tourist attractions, beautiful scenery, invigorating microclimates and rich natural resources. Consult this guide about the leading Polish resorts and see for yourself why their unique value proposition attracts thousands of guests from all over the world.

Poland is waiting for you with friendly smiles, open hearts, and open arms, so come experience all that it has to offer.  

Find your dream vacation to Poland with a USTOA tour operator here https://ustoa.travelstride.com/trip-list/poland

About Polish Tourism Organization

The objective of the Polish Tourism Organization is the promotion of Poland as a modern, attractive country offering travelers a high standard of services and appealing prices. We carry out work focused on the promotion and development of Polish tourism both at home and abroad.

Blooming Marvelous!

The Gardens of Britain and Ireland

By: Noreen Bowden, CIE Tours

The splendid gardens of Britain and Ireland are treasure troves of history and heritage. Many are located on the grounds of the most magnificent castles, palaces, and stately homes, offering a wonderful natural counterpoint to the grand architecture nearby. Let’s explore some of the most intriguing. 

Kensington palace and gardens, London, UK

Kensington Gardens: Kensington Palace in the heart of London has been a royal residence for centuries – and the garden is one of Britain’s most beloved. This beautiful oasis includes The Sunken Garden, with elaborate plants and an ornamental pond. The Serpentine Pavilion features the latest architectural innovation in gardening. Don’t miss the Elfin Oak sculpture, made from the hollow trunk of an ancient tree and carved with figures of fairies, elves, and animals.  

Leeds Castle Gardens: Leeds Castle is one of England’s most romantic castles. The fragrant and colorful gardens reward visitors with something wonderful to see in every season. The Culpeper Garden, a wild oasis inspired by a cottage garden, is full of rustic, fragrant blooms. The Lady Baillie Garden is full of succulents, with plenty of park benches to relax on. 

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, the farmhouse where the wife of William Shakespeare lived as a child, is in the village of Shottery, Warwickshire, England, about 1 mile west of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage: Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon is a thatched-roofed cottage, surrounded by 12 acres of grounds, that was once the home of William Shakespeare’s wife. The picture-perfect garden was largely designed in the 1920s, and features many plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. It also includes many heritage plants that have been grown in England since the 17th century. An ornamental orchard blooms with spring bulbs. 

Blenheim Palace Gardens: Formal gardens surround the magnificent Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill. The majestic Water Terraces, the Italian Garden, the delicate Rose Garden, and the tranquil Secret Garden with its hidden treasures, all offer their own unique beauty and charm. 

Inveraray Castle Gardens: The fairytale Inveraray Castle features two acres of formal gardens with a stunning collection of flowers, including rhododendrons, azaleas, and bluebells. Visitors can take a stroll through the gardens, see the many fine trees, and enjoy the breathtaking views of Loch Fyne, Scotland’s longest sea loch.  

Castle of Glamis in the highlands of Scotland

Glamis Castle: Like the 650-year-old Glamis Castle, the gardens are full of stories. The Italian Garden is reminiscent of the Edwardian era, with a thrilling kaleidoscope of color, a stone fountain and gravel walks. The Walled Garden, with its bridge set among rows of shrubs and perennials and a large central fountain, was inspired by Monet; it has supplied the castle with fresh fruit and vegetables for centuries. The Nature Trail offers spectacular trees planted by the 13th Earl in 1870; many are among the tallest of their species in Scotland.  

Abbotsford House Garden

Abbotsford House Gardens: The gardens at Abbotsford House, the home of Sir Walter Scott, could come straight out of one of the famed writer’s historical romances. The South Court includes fabulous Gothic details. The Morris Garden is a sunken garden with old roses and peonies among the paths. The Walled Garden, where Scott grew his fruits and vegetables, includes a rare glass house. Visitors can also enjoy the breathtaking views of the River Tweed, flowing along the scenic border region between Scotland and England. 

Mount Stuart House Gardens: Mount Stuart House on Scotland’s Isle of Bute is an innovative Victorian home inspired by astrology, art, and mythology. The 300 acres of gardens include collections of global significance, with plants that have been introduced over centuries. The mix includes unexpected tropical plants, winding woodlands, and The Pinetum, home to more than 800 towering conifers. It’s all set against the striking Firth of Clyde. 

©Blarney Castle and Gardens
 Courtesy Blarney Castle and Gardens

Blarney Castle and Gardens: Ireland’s Blarney Castle is famed for its legendary stone that bestows the gift of the gab, but visitors shouldn’t miss the 60 acres of gardens and arboretums. They are full of surprises, including the Carnivorous Courtyard, with plants that lure their victims with colorful leaves and pungent scents only to trap them with glue or tentacles. The Poison Garden includes plants that are used in modern medicines. The Rock Close is said to be the site of an ancient Druidic settlement.  

Irish National Stud and Gardens
©Failte Ireland
Courtesy Failte Ireland

Irish National Stud and Gardens: Located in the heart of Ireland’s horse country in County Kildare, the National Stud is the home of thoroughbred champions. The gardens are equally winning, with a splendidly serene Japanese garden that traces the journey of a soul from birth to the beyond. St. Fiachra’s Garden, named for the patron saint of gardeners, was inspired by the lives of medieval monks; it is designed with a focus on rocks and water to create a tranquil atmosphere for reflection and contemplation. 

About CIE Tours

Travel with CIE Tours, the premier tour operator into Ireland and Britain – offering dozens of expertly crafted vacations to Ireland and Britain to suit every travel style and taste, from the camaraderie of coach tours and custom group travel to a variety of independent adventures, small group tours and personalized private driver experiences.  See CIETours.com for more information. 
Noreen Bowden is the Content Manager for CIE Tours. She is a writer and editor who has lived and worked in Ireland and traveled extensively throughout Ireland and Britain. 

The images above are being shared solely for the promotion of CIE Tours and may not be used or distributed for any other purpose.

Solo Travel

By: Lion World Travel

Is travel to Africa on your bucket list, but not on your partner’s? Do you and your partner take vacations at different times? Do you like to travel with your friends, but prefer to stay in your own room?

Solo travel offers new opportunities and fantastic experiences. There is nothing quite as energizing as a trip to Africa, to go to the places you want to visit, meet new people, experience new cultures, try the local cuisine, go on a safari, and return with memories of a lifetime.  

“Single passengers make up a fair amount of the leisure travel to Africa, and they tend to be a forgotten demographic,” says Lucille Sive, (CEO TTC Africa). “Passengers traveling on their own should not be penalized. We want to change that by serving our clients better by offering some of our incredible deals that have either no single supplement fee, or a significantly reduced single supplement fee.“ 

Photo Courtesy of Lucille Sive

Here is a list of travel tips that can help you on your next solo adventure: 

  • When you check your bags make certain that the airline baggage tag on your luggage is labelled with the airport code for the right destination before the bag is put on the conveyor belt.  
  • Use a Bluetooth or GPS tracker for your luggage. 
  • Request an airport Meet and Greet. A local representative will welcome you on arrival at your first point of entry into the country. You will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have and get some initial tips and information. 
  • Location is of utmost importance. Book a hotel that is in close proximity to shopping and restaurants. 
  • Always leave your cash and valuables in your hotel room safe, or if you are at a safari lodge with no safes, have the lodge manager store your valuables for you. 
  • Be street savvy. Always be prepared with cash, and a map or guidebook so that you are self-sufficient.  
  • If you need to withdraw cash from an ATM, do so during daylight hours and be aware of who is loitering around you. 
  • Stay connected. Make it a habit to update family and friends back home about your itinerary.  
  • Try to meet other travelers with small conversation starters like “Where are you traveling from?” 

Lion World Travel has tried to make solo travel within everyone’s reach by offering a great selection of itineraries where no or low single supplement is applied.  

If you’ve been putting off a trip because you’re waiting for someone to travel with, it’s time to just go. In Africa a smile or greeting from the locals is a common sign of friendliness.  The warm people, exceptional wildlife, and breathtaking scenery will be your welcome. Relax and enjoy Africa – it is a great place to travel, even – or especially – on your own.  

About Lion World Travel:  
Lion World Travel is the leading tour operator from North America specializing in group and individual tours to Southern and East Africa and is a member of the renowned TTC , which also includes: Trafalgar Tours, Contiki, Brendan Vacations, Insight Vacations, The Red Carnation Hotel Collection and Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. Clients continue to benefit from Lion World Travels’ destination knowledge, expertise, and emphasis on customer service. With their Africa Specialists all having first-hand knowledge of Africa, Lion World Travel confidently assists clients in creating an African adventure that fits their interests and budget. Extraordinary service, affordable luxury and value for money are what keep clients coming back to Lion World Travel. 

Meaningful Family Safari

By: African Travel Inc.

An African safari is a unique bonding opportunity with loved ones. Children will be awestruck as the giraffe, zebras and elephants of their textbooks are brought to life. Parents or grandparents will love seeing the kids gain new insights, while experiencing diverse cultures. What better way to inspire our future global citizens?

Whether traveling with young children, teenagers or several generations, African Travel’s safari specialists can guide you to select the right destination, and personalize a family safari based on ages and interest while making your travels matter.

Here are some tips to plan the perfect safari while making travel matter.

Where to Start?

Choose a destination, then decide on pace, and experiences. Some families are very active and prefer constant engagement, while other families, prefer longer stays with less packing and unpacking.

Kids on a Safari in Shamwari Photo Courtesy of African Travel Inc.

Mixed Ages & Young Families

Activities are fun and engaging, while being educational. Little ones will be amazed to learn that dung beetles roll dung 250 times their own weight. They will squeal with laughter at the donkey like braying sounds of the African Penguin.

Something we often hear is kids need to be kept busy so that they don’t get bored. Southern Africa Through a Child’s Eyes is tailored to meet the special needs of families especially those with kids that would enjoy a kid’s club. Sabi Sabi’s Elefun Center supervised ranger led activities teach kids about bush survival, and bugs CSI, while parents can relax and enjoy the incredible safaris, or have a pamper session in the spa.

Adding a few days in Victoria Falls offers an exciting land and water safari option for families and kids of all ages.

Kids on a Safari in Shamwari Photo Courtesy of African Travel Inc.

Something for Everyone

South Africa offers a well-rounded experience, with cosmopolitan cities, a rainbow nation of richly diverse cultures and spectacular scenery. Combined with high quality malaria free safari options, this is the perfect destination for families with both young and older kids.

Families will have the experience of a lifetime on our Family Safari in South Africa. This safari satisfies adventurous city and bush interests while relaxing at beautiful places and beaches, learning the importance of conservation at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. For younger kids, a dedicated Kids Adventure Centre will keep children entertained with zipline, cookie decorating, rock climbing walls and climbing towers. Older kids can enjoy walking safaris and exploring the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary and everyone can go behind the scenes to meet the passionate wildlife caretakers at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. 

Camp Moremi – Photo Courtesy of African Travel Inc.

Tweens and Teens

Boring textbook biology is brought to life on nature walks and game drives with experienced guides. Surrounded by the sounds and smells of nature, learn about medicinal herbs, animal tracks, and micro ecosystems, and how everything is inter-connected.

Botswana is the benchmark when it comes to sustainable ecotourism practices in Africa. Access to these pristine settings and stunning landscapes are generally by light aircraft. Accommodations for the most part are tented, best suited for families with tweens and older children. Made for soft adventure, Best of Botswana explores the Okavango Delta’s secret channels on boat rides and traditional dugout canoes and the seasonal floodplains in 4×4 safari drives.

Multi-Generational Families

Enjoy the simple pleasures, like the serenity of a sunrise over the savanna, fiery sunsets and starry nights around a campfire, sharing the day’s adventures.

Kenya, the birthplace of the safari is also a magical place for all family members. The Family Safari in Kenya tour is perfect for all ages and is all about extraordinary wildlife and true adventure in style and safety. While staying at family owned lodges, rewild the kids, meet the local Maasai, and participate in wildlife conservation projects.   Bring your kids to Kenya’s first Bush School for children and for older family members accompany the antipoaching ranger unit to learn about game counts, de-snaring and tracking.

 Family Safari in Tanzania is a wonderful engaging experience for both young and the young at heart. Learn new skills, like shooting with a bow and arrow, or how to start a fire with a stone and twig from a Maasai. At Gibbs Farm, guests can tinker around with the carpenters, the desks can be engraved with a personalized message and families can personally deliver the desks to a school.

At African Travel, we create transformative experiences filled with life changing moments. All trips mentioned include a dedicated team of experts to plan a trip and local Guest Services team available 24 hours, 7 days a week to assist while traveling. For every safari, a a  contribution is also made to support local communities or wildlife.

For more information or to customize a trip, contact a safari specialist at 800-421-8907 or request a quote.


Debunking Common Myths about Guided Vacations

By Lisa Sands, Director of Marketing, CIE Tours

As it relates to fast-paced journeys through Europe, you’ve likely heard the phrase “if it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium!”.  A 1969 movie by that name exaggerated the experiences people had in the early days of motorcoach touring; and although the comedy reinforced Americans’ false perceptions of this style of travel in Europe, the movie’s popularity may have been responsible for creating broad awareness that ultimately contributed to the tour industry’s growth.

However, escorted touring is no longer your grandfather’s European vacation experience. Today’s guided vacations can include upscale accommodations such as overnighting in a castle, keeping in touch while on the road onboard a luxury coach, VIP access to exclusive venues, and farm-to-table food experiences. So, what are the elements of traveling by motorcoach that may still be misunderstood? Let’s review the key myths and realities about traveling on a guided vacation.

Myth: I can get the airfare, hotels, transportation and sightseeing cheaper if I do the work myself. 

Fact: Tour operators have longstanding relationships in the destinations they serve, and each company bring dozens, if not hundreds, of people to the same hotels and attractions each week. They use their buying power to get bulk rates that are passed on to travelers in the form of a lower package price. Many tour operators take that even further by including extras in the up-front price such as baggage handling, meals, and most importantly, the services of a tour guide. Which brings us to our next myth….

CIE Tours Family Vacations – Cultural and Food Experiences
Photo Courtesy of Tourism Ireland

Myth: I want to immerse myself in a destination’s history and culture, and there won’t be time for that on a motorcoach tour.

Fact: As the name implies, guided vacations include the services of a professional tour director who is an expert in their destination. Throughout your journey, your guide will share the history, culture and local lore that independent travelers would never discover on their own. A knowledgeable guide will add dimension to your vacation by bringing a local’s perspective on the destination and introducing you to the people that call it home. As an added bonus, you’ll bypass waiting lines at attractions and get to experience places that you wouldn’t even know about if you went on your own.  And, that’s where the next myth gets debunked!

CIE Tours – Foodie Tour of Ireland
Photo Courtesy of Tourism Ireland

Myth: I won’t be able to go off on my own and do anything that the locals might do.

Fact: Guided vacations offer many authentic experiences that would otherwise be missed by independent travelers. These experiences include genuine, immersive opportunities to allow you to truly get to know a place and its people. Together with your group, you might try things like visiting a local home and learning to make scones from a generations-old recipe, visiting the world’s oldest pub and raising a pint with locals, a sheepdog demonstration on a farm, or a private viewing of historic residences and castles.  And, there will be many opportunities for independent exploration; your expert guide can point you to a local pub where you can listen to traditional music or a corner café where you can watch people go about their daily routines. Even on the most all-inclusive tours, you’ll have time for discovering new restaurants for lunch or dinner on your own…that is, if you choose to leave behind your new-found friends. More on that….

Cabra Castle, Country Cavan, Ireland
Photo Courtesy of Tracy Biggins

Myth: I’ll be stuck on a bus with people that I don’t know.

Fact: While you may begin your vacation as strangers, motorcoach touring has the unique advantage of bringing together a small group of people with similar interests (generally no more than 48 people on a coach). With your tour director as the host, you will quickly get to know one another, and for many people, meeting like-minded travelers can be one of the most rewarding aspects of guided vacationing.  You can also make your vacation a friends-and-family affair: why not bring your own group along to let them share in the fun? Oh, and by the way, you won’t be traveling on just any “bus”: the luxury motorcoaches in use today are well-equipped with wi-fi, oversized windows, reclining seats and even video screens, in some cases; all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. Which brings us to our final myth.

Myth: The pace will be too fast and I won’t be able to relax.

Fact: Guided vacations mean carefree touring. You and your travel companions can leave the driving to  a local professional, you can trust that the hotels on your itinerary will be safe and of good quality, itineraries are mapped out and time-proven to ensure you see all the important sights, and there’s no worrying about logistics like where to park, where to eat or what time the museum opens (or if it’s even open at all on the day you’ll be in town). Your professional driver and expert guide will handle every detail, so all you need to do is enjoy your vacation. While the pace won’t be too fast, it won’t be slow – after all, vacation time is precious and you want to maximize every minute. Expect an active vacation, where good walking shoes are a must for traversing cobblestone streets and paths less traveled.

Guided vacations offer the perfect way to learn, experience and connect with others who share your interest; while maximizing your time and getting the most value – both for your dollar, and for the priceless memories that you’ll make. Your trusted travel advisor can help you find the guided vacation that’s right for your interests and budget.

About the Author:

Lisa Sands, a veteran of the travel industry, has led the strategic marketing and content strategies for some of the country’s leading tour operators, leisure travel agencies and corporate travel management firms throughout her 25 year career. Currently the Director of Marketing for CIE Tours, Lisa’s editorial endeavors have been recognized by the North American Travel Journalists Association and she has received awards from the Walt Disney Company, Universal Orlando, and Royal Caribbean for marketing innovation. Lisa’s favorite travel experiences include immersion in the cuisine and cultures of the world’s most intriguing destinations, with a particular fondness for Ireland and Scotland.

About CIE Tours

Since 1932, CIE Tours has been the premier tour operator for Ireland and Britain vacations, earning a reputation for excellence rooted in its signature Irish hospitality.  The 2022 travel season marked 90 years of operation for the Morristown, New Jersey-based company, during which it has taken more than three million travelers on the vacation of their dreams. Expertly crafted vacations to Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Iceland, and Italy suit every travel style and taste – from the camaraderie of coach tours and custom group travel to a variety of independent adventures, small group tours and personalized private driver experiences.

CIE Tours takes care of every detail and provides exclusive access, authentic experiences, and in-depth knowledge of each destination. Only CIE Tours offers the “All-In Inclusive Advantage” which guarantees that every experience and most meals are included, so there are never any hidden expenses.  Above all, the genuine warmth and expertise of its guides and hosts shines through, with guest satisfaction ratings of 95%. For more information, visit www.cietours.com.

Windstar Celebrates 35th Anniversary of Polynesian Cruises

By: Carolyn Spencer Brown

Christopher Prelog has been to French Polynesia many times and one thing stays true for him on every visit. “There is a state of mind about Polynesia that blends natural beauty, a sense of grace and peace and, importantly, the energy of the people.” There’s something else, too: “It’s preserved its authenticity. There are no huge piers and no big shopping malls. And people are just as friendly, warm and welcoming as they were on my first visit 25 years ago.”

Prelog, president of Windstar Cruises, returned to French Polynesia earlier this month to celebrate the cruise company’s 35th anniversary of sailings there. Windstar currently bases Wind Spirit, one of its three sailing vessels, in Tahiti year-round. It was joined by Star Breeze, a yachting-style ship, that is homeporting in Tahiti all through October.

So much of what makes this region, with its 121 islands and atolls, so vast that it represents 75 percent of Australia’s land mass, is its commitment to staying real.  He also appreciates the measured changes over the years. The first-ever cruise ship terminal in Papeete is being designed and built. Expected modern conveniences, such as fast Wi-Fi and a sleek international airport, all support travelers, and residents, too. What you won’t find is just as important.

Indeed, the concept of measured change is a critically important to French Polynesia’s President Edouard Fritch. “We are convinced that our ancestors left us with a beautiful legacy, with a mission to enjoy it, grow it, and refrain from damaging it.”

I’d add one more thing. Sharing the special culture with innovative new programs is a huge part of the cruise commitment here on both sides.

It’s More than Marketing Polynesia as Paradise

The key to understanding the world of cruise is to try it. On our 35th anniversary sailing, President Fritch, his family, and key staffers, came aboard for a seven night voyage that called at Bora Bora, Moorea, Raiatea, and Taha’a. He reciprocated the hospitality by hosting all Star Breeze’s passengers at a festive reception at his presidential palace in Papeete. What he experienced, pleased him.

“When we adopted Windstar,” he told us at a press reception, “it was an economic relationship. Over its 35 years in Polynesia, it has developed much further than that.”

Certainly, basing a ship here year-round for 35 years, with Windstar’s Tahiti-based cruising doubling in 2024, when the 312-passenger Star Breeze replaces 148-passenger Wind Spirit, is part of supporting Polynesia’s economy. In addition to spending by travelers, including flights, pre- and post-cruise resort stays, shore excursions and restaurant dining, Fritsch told us, “ships based here also provision locally,” stocking up on everything from fuel to mangos. “That’s why celebrating this 35th anniversary is a big deal because traditionally cruising had been seen as just passing through, just short visits.”

An even bigger deal is sharing the connection of Polynesian people and their cultures with travelers.

Throughout our week, travelers on Wind Spirit and Star Breeze engaged in a great variety of cultural activities, onboard and onshore. At Windstar’s signature Destination Discovery Event, there was an evening beach barbecue, offering moon fish and other local delicacies. The fire dancers were a particular highlight (speaking of authenticity, this can be a risky form of artistry and you couldn’t help but notice that some of the dancers bore scars from their trade).

An all-day beach barbecue on a private Motu Mahaea meant more music, snorkeling and watersports, and freshly grilled burgers and fish. There was also the chance to browse — and buy — local handcrafts, from pearls to honey, from a small market.

Regional music is a huge part of the local culture. Everywhere we went, on a boat taking us snorkeling to a beach day at private motu and even onboard Star Breeze, there was music. We learned how not just to decorate the distinctive pareo — a square piece of hand-died fabric — but also some of the hundreds of ways you can wear it.

Cultural immersion continued. We loved being entertained by a troupe of kids, who came onboard with their parents, too.  In Raiatea, Tihoti, a Polynesian elder from a village in Taha’a, escorted guests on a tour of the Faaroa river via an outrigger canoe and then returned to Star Breeze to host an hour of conversation with guests about his life here.

And perhaps the ultimate insiders’ event was the gracious reception at Fritch’s presidential palace, where a bountiful buffet of local cuisine and a pearl-focused fashion show (models, male and female, wore gorgeous black outfits to show off the jewelry, one of Polynesia’s proudest exports), plus tours of the gracious, flower-filled grounds, felt novel.

What will the future look like for French Polynesia’s cruise tourism?

President Fritch gave us a look at what the strategy is for the future, and it’s no surprise to learn that his administration will continue to promote authenticity. “We want to develop quality tourism, not just ‘high end’ tourism,” he told us. “People of the Pacific are aware of the richness of our legacy and heritage.”

One relatively new approach, he says, is to ensure that “the tourism of Polynesia is by Polynesians” by teaching students at both high school and college levels the skills the hospitality skills they need to learn for their own tourism careers here. “Tourism is our first industry. Almost half of all working people here work in tourism, including agriculture, handicraft and culture.”

Indeed, on Star Breeze it was a pleasure to meet Hawaiki, a young woman who’s the first Polynesian to work onboard for Windstar. Previously working in social media on Tahiti, her home island, she’s now a crew member in the guest relations office. She took us up to her favorite place onboard, deck 7’s outside deck, because she loves to the see ever-changing view of her islands. She filled us in on her experiences.

What’s really motivated her to embrace a maritime career, in this way, is the chance to broaden her own horizons. “French Polynesia is small, she told us, “and you see the same things every day. The ethnicity of the crew is a huge surprise. It’s cool to live on a ship where people come from all over the world — Indonesia, Philippines, Caribbean, and beyond.”

She laughs when she describes the other big “first” she experienced as a result of working aboard Star Breeze: “I’d never been to Taha’a before, and it’s lovely.”

About Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises operates a fleet of six boutique all-suite and sailing yachts carrying 148-342 guests. Small ship cruises sail throughout Europe, the Caribbean, Costa Rica and the Panama Canal, Asia, Alaska and British Columbia, Canada and New England, Tahiti and the South Pacific, Mexico and U.S. Coastal and Australia. Windstar launched the $250 Million Star Plus Initiative to transform the three all-suite Star Plus Class yachts with new suites, restaurants, and a world-class spa and fitness center. The award-winning line is known for immersive experiences, destination authenticity, port-intensive itineraries, exceptional service, and an innovative culinary program. Windstar Cruises is part of the Xanterra Travel Collection, a group of global hospitality and travel companies, one of which traces its history back over a hundred years of operating our country’s iconic national parks, including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier, Death Valley, and many others. Xanterra Travel Collection is owned by The Anschutz Corporation, the ultimate owner of the Broadmoor, Sea Island, and entertainment giant AEG, Anschutz Entertainment Group.

About the Author

Carolyn Spencer Brown, chief content officer for Cruise Media, LLC, is an award-winning cruise and travel journalist, and editor. She specializes in content strategy, development and execution for cruise lines and travel companies. Prior to joining Cruise Media, Spencer Brown was as editor in chief for Cruise Critic for 14 years, leading a team that won three Lowell Thomas Awards from the Society of American Travel Writers. She launched the global site’s U.K. and Australia versions. Later, she moved on to become chief content strategist for the iconic website, partnering with cruise lines and travel companies to create customized content. Before, during and after her 17 year tenure at Cruise Critic, she also contributed to Conde Nast Traveler, The Washington Post, Town & Country, and the UK’s Sunday Times, among other publications.

Regenerating The Red Sea

Located on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea is evolving as a year-round destination with a key focus on regeneration through sustainable practices that include 100% commitment to renewable energy, modern technology to provide personalized digital services, and immersive experiences for a “true Arabian” adventure.  

The Red Sea will start welcoming guests in 2023 with 16 world-class resorts opening in the first phase of development. These include 11 resorts on hub island Shura, two resorts on the Ummahat islands, one resort on Sheybarah Island, and two inland resorts at Desert Rock and Southern Dunes.  

The second phase of development will conclude in 2030 with 50 resort openings and 1,000+ residential properties across 22 islands and six inland sites. Each resort has its own unique attributes whether it be its architectural design or activities and attractions around the property.  

Each island is located just a short distance from the mainland and the Red Sea International Airport by airplane or boat ride.  

Keep reading for a sneak peek of what Saudi Arabia has in store for regenerating the Red Sea…

Sustainable Practices 

The Red Sea is home to one of the last thriving coral reef ecosystems on the planet. With an unwavering commitment to protecting and enhancing the natural, cultural, and historical environments, the Red Sea will be the first tourism project of its size to be powered solely by renewable energy.  The Red Sea embraces the “Neo-Saudi Explorer,” someone who is respectful of ancient culture, discovering new territories in a safe, secure and crafted manner. 

The Red Sea Development environmental initiatives include:  

  • Less than 1% of the entire area of the destination will be developed  
  • 75% of the islands will remain untouched  
  • Nine islands designated as special conservation zones  
  • Development of a sustainable food supply  
  • Visitors capped at 1 million people per year  
  • Single-use plastics banned once fully operational  
  • On-site landscape nursery will provide more than 25 million plants  
  • 100% renewable energy (24 hours a day via solar power)  
  • Smart sensors to detect environmental impact  
  • Zero waste to landfill Zero carbon footprint 
  • Alignment with all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 

Saudi Arabia’s long-term goal is to achieve a 30 percent net conservation benefit by 2040 by enhancing biologically diverse habitats including mangroves, seagrass, corals, and land vegetation. With many of these initiatives already in place for 2023, this long-term goal is well on track to be achieved.  

Immersive Experiences 

With desert rock mountains, sweeping sand dunes, and overwater villas with hues of blue and green, The Red Sea offers spectacular views and activities for travelers of all interests.  

Marvel under the night sky while camping under the Milky Way. Look up and learn the traditional importance of astronomy to Islamic practices and the way life has been guided for centuries in Saudi. 

Hike through canyons, sweeping dunes and rugged mountains, or bike through ancient volcanic lava fields, with their cinder cones and craters.   

Take an aquatic adventure by night diving, reef diving, or heritage diving among some of the world’s most thriving corals. There is also plenty to see while snorkeling or kayaking in crystal blue seas over carefully protected coral reefs. 

Smart Systems  

The Red Sea is implementing an extensive smart digital system to allow visitors to have the most seamless and modern travel experience throughout their stay. Highly personalized digital systems include: 

  • Virtual concierge services complemented by the highest level of personal attention  
  • Luggage sent from The Red Sea’s iconic airport straight to guest’s hotels, dispensing with the need for immigration and customs queues 

With all these developments in the works, The Red Sea will rapidly become a highly sought-after destination starting next year. What would you explore while visiting? The opportunities are endless.  

For more information about The Red Sea visit www.visitredsea.com.  

10 surprising things you can do in Manitoba

Discover hidden gems in the middle of Canada. Manitoba has rich cultural roots, breathtaking landscapes, world-class museums and opportunities for incredible encounters with polar bears, bison and northern lights. Read on for 10 amazing adventures in the province where Canada’s heart beats.  

  1. Go on an arctic safari 

No roads lead to the remote subarctic town of Churchill, Manitoba. Getting there is part of the adventure with options to travel by train or plane. Once you arrive, you’ll find a warm and welcoming community plus the opportunity to check off plenty of bucket list experiences. 

In fall, see polar bears roam the Hudson Bay coastline, spot arctic wildlife and marvel at the beauty of the tundra and the majestic northern lights at night. 

Photo Courtesy of Travel Manitoba
Take a ride on Frontiers North Adventures’ electric Tundra Buggy® to their Thanadelthur Lounge to see the northern lights dance in the night sky.
  1. Travel the tundra in an electric vehicle 

Churchill, the polar bear capital of the world, is one of the few human settlements where these majestic mammals can be viewed in the wild. Now you can get up close and personal with these kingly giants in an electric Tundra Buggy® with Frontiers North Adventures. Due to zero-emission vehicle technology, this new type of Tundra Buggy® means minimal disruption to the bears and their natural habitat.  

Liz Tran Photography, Photo Courtesy of Travel Manitoba  
A polar bear basks in the sunshine on the tundra in Churchill, Manitoba.
  1. Walk with polar bears 

You can greet the world’s largest carnivore from the comfort of Churchill Wild’s remote eco-wilderness lodges or, best of all, walk among them with a guide and photograph them in their natural habitat. On a guided walking safari, you might encounter polar bears and other wildlife like arctic hare, wolves, arctic and coloured fox and moose. 

  1. Take your knowledge of aviation history to new heights 

Experience one of the most significant global collections of bush planes at the new location of the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada. It’s also home to a large collection of aircraft ranging from bush flying, military, passenger, experimental aircraft and thousands of aviation artifacts. 

Photo Courtesy of Travel Manitoba
The Leaf–Canada’s Diversity Gardens is a new garden attraction in Winnipeg that celebrates natural and cultural diversity with indoor and outdoor spaces, including over 30-acres of gardens that explore the universal connections between people and plants.  
  1. Stop to smell the flowers at The Leaf–Canada’s Diversity Gardens 

The Leaf–Canada’s Diversity Gardens is one of Manitoba’s newest attractions with indoor and outdoor spaces that explore connections between people and plants. The Gardens at The Leaf is a 30-acre revitalized outdoor space divided into six uniquely themed gardens touching on connections with food, our senses and Indigenous cultures and languages.  

JP Media Works, Photo Courtesy of Travel Manitoba
Winnipeg Art Gallery’s newest addition, Qaumajuq, houses more than 14,000 pieces of contemporary Inuit art, about one-third of the collection is visible in a three-story glass vault. 
  1. View thousands of pieces of Inuit art in one place 

Qaumajuq is a stunning addition to the Winnipeg Art Gallery in the city’s downtown area. Its architecture was inspired by Canada’s northern landscape and the centre holds the world’s largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art at over 14,000 pieces, each piece representing the story of Canada’s North.  

  1. Discover new exhibits at the Manitoba Museum 

In recent years, the Manitoba Museum has updated several of its core nine galleries. The new Prairies Gallery tells the story of Indigenous Peoples in Manitoba using a beautiful plains tipi, a Red River cabin and cart and other artifacts. 

Photo Courtesy of Travel Manitoba
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is an icon of the Winnipeg skyline, designed by
Antoine Predock Architect of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Predock has described the building as “carved into the earth and dissolving into the sky”. 
  1. Visit the Canadian Museum for Human Rights 

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is impressive not only for its innovative architecture it’s also the world’s only museum dedicated to the topic of global human rights issues. Through ten permanent galleries, learn and reflect on the triumphs and failures of the human spirit. You’ll leave inspired to make the world a better place.  

  1. Dine under the aurora borealis 

Dan’s Diner, located across the frozen Churchill River away from the town, is a remote dining experience and culinary adventure like none other. Enjoy delicious regional and local fare in a mobile Tundra Buggy® while northern lights dance overhead. 

  1. Explore an urban natural oasis  

At FortWhyte Alive, a short drive from downtown Winnipeg, you can get up close with North America’s largest land mammal—the bison—in their natural habitat. Follow the path to find adventure in over 660 acres of forests, lakes and multi-use trails. You may spot whitetail deer, waterfowl and countless other wildlife while you explore.  

About Travel Manitoba

Travel Manitoba is a source of trip inspiration for bucket-list adventurers, outdoors enthusiasts and arts and culture explorers. Manitoba is located in the center of Canada and is home to a thriving urban hub in capital city Winnipeg, wide-open landscapes and pristine wilderness throughout the province. 

About the Author: Melanie Swenarchuk is Senior Market Development Manager and an expert on all things Manitoba. See travelmanitoba.com for more information.