Long stopover

A traveller’s survival guide to long stopovers

Surviving a long stopover begins with a change in perception. Glass half full or half empty? Airport stopovers are becoming more of a traveller’s reality as airlines, in their efforts to lower operating costs, are decreasing the more expensive direct flight option. A traveller’s survival guide to long stopovers begins with a positive frame of mind, forethought and planning.

Research the airport’s facilities

Seeing that an airport may be where you will be spending a good few hours, it is well worth taking a look a closer look at the airport’s facilities. Information is vital. Most of the larger busier airports have extensive facilities to soothe away the stress and strains of air travel.

The airport’s website is ideally your first go-to-point for information. Are there pay-to-enter lounges, restaurants, shops, shower facilities, spa treatment facilities, gym, children entertainment areas, internet facilities or any other facilities of interest to you? However unlikely it may be, should the airport you’re researching not have found its digital voice, ask your travel agent or family and friends who have been to the airport before for more ideas on how to make the most of your stopover time there.

You may not want to carry around unnecessary baggage that weighs you down. Investigate whether there is baggage deposit services available to store baggage that you will not need while you make the most of the airport’s stopover facilities.

Long stopover activities for travellers

• Take in a short sight-seeing tour
A long stopover, of more than five hours between flights, is an ideal opportunity to take in the city’s local tourist attractions that are in close proximity to the airport. Making use of the direct trains or bus services is a wiser option than expensive taxi fares and safer should the city suffer heavy congested traffic.

• Exercise
After being seated for hours during a long-haul flight, aching muscles and joints will be in need of a good stretch. A good long walk around the airport will be good for keeping the circulation in your body going and will give you the opportunity to become familiar with the layout of the airport. You could also use the exercise to find the next flight’s departure gate and not waste unnecessary time in trying to find it just before your flight takes off.

• Pamper and refresh weary body
A great idea would be to treat you to a massage or an indulgent facial should the airport offer Spa treatment facilities. A rejuvenated body goes a long way to making a weary traveller feel loads better.

• Window shopping whiles away the time quite easily
Window shopping can be as fun as regular shopping but without adding to the weight of your luggage with unnecessary items.

South African Airways Airbus A320

SAA’s latest acquisition of two Airbus A320s pumps new lifeblood into its fleet

South African Airway’s initiative to turning around its financial woes began with it securing a contract with Standard Charter Bank to finance half of the airline’s order of 20 Airbus A320s. Two of the 10 A320 aircraft have already been delivered to SAA.

It is hoped that the fuel efficient A320 aircraft, destined for domestic and regional flight routes, will channel the South African airline back into profit making margins. SAA hopes to strengthen its expansion plans in Africa with the aim of being the carrier of choice on the continent.

This first step, in yet another turnaround strategy for SAA, was made possible after the airline secured finance from UK-based Standard Chartered Bank, an influential aviation finance company. The value of the contract between South Africa’s national carrier and Africa’s biggest airline and Standard Chartered Bank remains undisclosed.

Monwabisi Kalawe, recently appointed CEO of SAA said, “The deal will significantly enhance SAA’s domestic and regional growth strategy … the aircraft are central to SAA’s plans to provide an efficient and comprehensive regional route network.”

In addition to its domestic routes, SAA plans on introducing new aircraft on its long-haul routes which has been a major cash drain on the airline’s accounting sheets.

“Our long-term turnaround strategy has identified some big ticket items responsible for our high operating costs. These include high fuel costs as well as the use of fuel-inefficient aircraft. This deal provides the necessary solution by securing a new generation, fuel efficient fleet for us,” said Kalawe.

A melange of contributing factors has been the cause of SAA’s financial woes: exchange rate volatility, a fiercely competitive air travel market and rising fuel costs with fuel bearing the heaviest weight. The duration of most of SAA’s long-haul flights average above six-and-a-half hours. The longer the flight, the more fuel is needed. SAA’s fuel bill saw its operating costs increase by R 2.2bn which resulted in a loss of R 1.25bn in 2012.

“We are delighted to receive our first two A320 aircraft. Operating a modern and homogenous fleet plays a significant role in cost reduction and boosting revenue. The A320 will assist SAA to achieve this while providing our passengers with a more superior cabin product,” said Kalawe. The A 320 aircraft pumps new lifeblood into the airline’s fleet as it retires its aging fleet of Boeings.

The A 320 airplanes boast IAE-V2500 engines and is characterised by a two cabin arrangement which allows for the seating of 24 passengers in business class and 114 in economy.

John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer is equally confident that SAA’s has made the right choice in choosing A320 aircraft to help shed its loss-making reputation. “SAA has long been regarded as a bellwether for Africa on aircraft selection and we are looking forward to expanding our relationship. Our reliable, fuel efficient and comfortable A320s will give SAA a competitive edge and help the airline achieve sustainable profitability,” he said.

Picture Credit:Clement Alloing
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Top 10 National Parks of South Africa

Top 10 national parks of South Africa

South Africa is the ultimate in wildlife viewing destinations. Two of the world’s most widely acclaimed wildlife reservation areas and more than 20 National Parks dedicated to the protection of its precious natural assets, South Africa is unrivalled in its ability to provide spectacular opportunities to experience the majestic beauty of the natural world in this part of Africa.
The incredible range of protected wildlife regions encompasses diverse landscapes. Deserts, forests, open savannahs, mountains and coastal areas showcase both animal and plant worlds to their advantage.

1. The Kruger National Park
The flagstone and forerunner of national parks in South Africa, the Kruger National Park draws in millions of international tourists and local visitors annually. Representing the largest of all parks in South Africa, there are a multitude of activities to enjoy in almost two million hectares of diverse terrain. Impressive statistics speak of 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. Walking safaris and game drives provide an unforgettable personal experience of life in the bush.

2. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (Northern Cape)
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is the second world renowned of South African parks. Its unique characteristic is being a sizable ecosystem without man-made barriers and comprises two adjoining national parks straddling the South African and Botswana borders. An abundance of wildlife including 200 species of birds can be observed in habitat of red sand dunes, dry river beds and occasional trees.

3. Mapungubwe National Park (Limpopo)
A World Heritage Site, the great ruins at Mapungubwe talk of human civilization in existence around 850 AD. Rich fossil deposits, Bushman rock art, giant baobab trees and riverine forests are just some of the secrets this transfrontier National Park wishes to share.

4. Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park (Kwazulu Natal)
The third largest park in South Africa and a World Heritage Site, Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park has 328 000 hectares of scintillating scenery. The coastline boundary consists of 280km of coral reefs and pristine beaches. Other habitats contained within the park are coastal forests, lush coastal plains and woodland areas.

5. Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Park (Kwazulu Natal)
The oldest game reserve, Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Park prides itself in being home to Africa’s ‘Big Five’. The park has facilitated optimal viewing pleasure of lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhinos which remain the prime attractions.

6. Addo Elephant Park (Eastern Cape)
This magnificently diverse national park showcases a wide variety of wildlife including the Black Rhino, species of antelope and Cape Buffalo. The park’s name takes its cue from the main attraction – the African Elephants that call the park home, numbering over 350. Apart from game viewing, visitors can also expect outdoor adventure and cultural experiences.

7. Table Mountain National Park (Cape Town and Cape Peninsula, Western Cape)
Table Mountain takes on a legendary status around the world. This natural wonder of picturesque mountains, crystal seas and bleached white sands has taken on the latest mantle of New 7 Wonders of Nature. Included in the park’s protected areas is an indigenous forest and The Cape Floristic Region which is the world’s smallest diverse floral kingdom.

8. De Hoop Nature Reserve (Whale Coast, Western Cape)
This wetland reserve located on the western Cape coastline boasts over 200 bird species, deserted beaches, rock pools and beautiful unique shrub lands (fynbos). It is also highly rated as providing the world’s best land-based whale-watching opportunities.

9. Pilanesberg Game Reserve (North West Province)
Sitting on the remnants of an alkaline volcanic crater, this national park offers a unique mosaic of mammals, birds and vegetation across 55 000 hectares which is attributed to the reserve’s location traversing the dry Kalahari and wetter Lowveld vegetation.

10. Garden Route National Park
A jewel in South Africa’s crown of wildlife conservation areas, Garden Route National Park, situated on the southern coastline, harmoniously blends a diversity of landscapes, seascapes, forests and mountains into a picture perfect natural and cultural heritage.

Picture credit: addoadventure.com

Walking Safari

Safari walking tours: the ultimate bush adventure

Safari walking tours not only provides the ultimate bush adventure activity for the discerning tourist, but allows for an invaluable intimate experience with nature that can be enjoyed by all ages. Take delight in discovering diverse landscapes and terrains, ancient secrets of Mother Nature in the wilderness and get up close and personal with the fascinating flora and flora of the African bush.

Superb guided walking safaris excursions are offered throughout South Africa’s comprehensive network of abundant National Parks and game reserves. Numerous options of walking safaris are available to choose from. The choices range from guided night walks, single day tours to multi-day walking trails. More in depth information on types, duration and accommodation is available from individual safari walking tour companies, National Parks or safari lodges.

The unique features of walking safari tours are what make this type of adventure highly popular with international visitors. On a walking safari through a game reserve or national park, you get to identify animal tracks, track game and bird watch while at the same time learning about the habitats and natural balance of nature. Of the multitude of animals to be spotted, the popular are lions, elephant herds, rhinos, giraffe, antelope, zebra, wild pigs, crocodiles, hippos and a diverse variety of birds.

In the interests of safety and in experiencing the ultimate bush experience, it is strongly suggested that tourists opt for guided walking safari tours. This segment of the tourist industry has been revolutionized of late and rangers and field guides have undergone extensive training to provide superior service. Take advantage of experienced and expert field guides and their intimate knowledge of the area, indigenous vegetation, wildlife that can be observed and the accompanying history and legends that came before. Guides instruct visitors on the appropriate etiquette to observe whilst in the bush, and what to do upon sighting animals in the wild. Rule number one is never to approach any of the animals you encounter and to keep a safe distance away.

Perfect for the adventurous tourist, walking safaris bring you within feet of Africa’s great wildlife.
The sights and sounds of the African bushveld are open to any able bodied tourist with a moderate fitness level. Depending on the length and duration of your guided walking safari tour, trails can either provide leisurely walks at a relaxed pace or exhilarating walks through the bushveld that gets the adrenaline pumping. Walking safaris can be complemented perfectly with game drives or horseback riding safaris for comprehensive game viewing pleasure.

Essential items to pack for a walking safari should include comfortable, long socks with a good quality pair of walking or hiking shoes, a hat that protects the head and neck, sunscreen lotion, sunglasses, pair of binoculars, powerful torch and a camera is highly recommended too. Light coloured clothing with long sleeved shirts and trousers are more favourable while trekking through the bush under the hot African sun. Digitally record your authentic bush experience, and relive the magic again and again when sharing with family and friends.

While South Africa is fortunate to be blessed with wonderful welcoming weather all year round, the most opportune wildlife watching season is during the winter months (April to December) when animals tend to populate rivers and waterholes, and when foliage is sparse. Officials advise international visitors to plan walking safari tours well in advance to be able to select from the best camps and tours available.

Picture credit: safari.co.uk

Durban South Africa

Durban’s top six tourist delights for the international visitor

The tropical coastal city of Durban, nestled comfortably on the Indian Ocean, has many world class attractions to offer the international visitor. Lovingly labelled by the locals as ‘South Africa’s playground’, Durban is famed for its fantastic warm weather that is enjoyed all year round.
This melting pot of cultures from African, European to Indian showcases a wide variety of tantalising delights to attract, amuse and amaze international and local visitors alike. A list of the top six must-sees:

1. uShaka Marine World
uShaka Marine World constitutes Africa’s largest marine theme park. This must-see attraction provides plenty of fun for all ages. Daring rides, aquatic pools, spectacular dolphin shows and a variety of fast food establishments serving great food promise an invitation to non-stop unrivalled entertainment. The extensive collection of ocean life on display attribute to uShaka being the fifth largest aquarium in the world.

2. Moses Mabida Stadium
Head out to the Moses Mabida Stadium for daring adventure activities. This world class sports stadium is one of the latest additions to iconic buildings in Durban. What can be more fun than the gravity challenging SkyCar ride to the Arch of Triumph summit (over 100 metres high) or opt for the Adventure Walk and walk 500 steps to the sky platform for awesome aerial views of the city and coastline.

3. Wilson’s Wharf
Whether during the day or at night, Wilson’s Wharf showcases Durban’s trendiest fusion of fun, food and craft markets on the edge of a boating marina. Situated on the Victoria Embankment, comfortably cushioned between the Yacht Mole and Sugar Terminal, Wilson’s Wharf is the perfect place to enjoy a musical and theatrical festival, spend quality time with loved ones, bask in glorious sunshine or admire the splendor of city lights glimmering on the harbor waters at night time.

4. The Botanical Gardens
The Botanical Gardens feature over 475 species of trees as well as the largest cycad and palm exhibits. Also housed within the stunning gardens is the herbarium, a tea garden and the Braille trail. South Africa’s oldest Jacaranda tree calls the Botanical Gardens home. Another claim to fame is the Encephalartos Woodii cycad which is showcased here. Its history began almost a hundred years ago when it was transported from the Ngoye forest. This particular cycad is regarded as the rarest plant in the world.

5. The Umgeni River Bird Park
The Umgeni River Bird Park, enclosed within 4 hectares is home to more than 3 000 indigenous and exotic birds, in addition to a multitude of endangered species. Abundant tropical plant life, waterfalls and palm trees contribute to the aesthetics of this whole family attraction.

6. Umhlanga Rocks Beachfront
KwaZulu Natal’s very own ‘Beverly Hills’ by the sea, Umhlanga Rocks is a popular top tourist destination. This up market and sophisticated holiday resort sports first world accommodation and shopping centres. Over 200 km of glorious golden beaches, surfing, deep sea fishing, whale watching, scuba diving, microlight flips, kite boarding as well as a game of golf at a nearby top golf course are just some of the activities that international visitors may delight in.

Travel with pets

Air travel’s latest loyalty programme for pet lovers

Members of the Velocity Frequent Flyer programme who opt to fly with their pets are to benefit from a new scheme introduced by Virgin Australia. In a movement towards catering for animal travel, a new loyalty programme, and the first of its kind in Australia, rewards pet lovers for taking their pets on holiday with them by offering bonus points to the air miles they already receive. Travellers who own pets are encouraged to take them along on holiday instead of leaving them back home.

CEO of Velocity Frequent Flyer Neil Thompson points out that Virgin Australia flies as many as 30 000 pets annually all across Australia. “A large proportion are owned by Velocity members, so we know how important their companions are to them,” he said.

A minimum of 300 points is awarded per pet carrier for each flight flown. Pet owners will receive points for a maximum of two pet carriers per booking. The loyalty programme for pet lovers will extend the current family benefits. “The program builds on the unique family benefits currently available to our members, such as the ability to pool Points and Status Credits with family members,” explains Mr Thompson.

The Velocity Frequent Flyer incentive to reward pet owners who fly with their pets is promoted by the launch of the ‘Velocity Pet Ambassador’ campaign in a nationwide search to appoint a pet ambassador for the loyalty scheme. The campaign kicked off on the Velocity Pet Ambassador Facebook page where pet owners are called to enrol their animals by sharing photographs of their furry four-legged loved ones. The winning dog or cat are to represent the loyalty programme in future marketing campaigns and will receive a special pack of pet-related products.

This latest pet loyalty programme introduced in Australia to encourage pet lovers to fly more and take their pets with them is not the first of its kind in the air travel industry. In 2005 Virgin Atlantic initiated its Flying Paws scheme. Each pet on board received their own welcome onboard pet pack. For canines there is a Virgin Atlantic t-shirt and a dog tag while felines receive a toy mouse and a collar tag. In addition each pets gets their own pet passport on which is recorded the flights taken and points earned. Points are redeemable for appropriate pet gifts such as dog bowls or bonus miles for their owners.

Celebrity vet and animal lover, Dr. Chris Brown, who assisted in the launch said: “It’s fantastic to see a frequent flyer program recognize how much pets enrich our lives. Now, not only will our dogs and cats give back to us in the form of unconditional love, but also in the form of our next holiday or retail purchase through Points!”.

Visa free for South African passport holders

Top 10 visa free destinations for South Africans

The good news for South African passport holders is that there are plenty of travel opportunities without the need for a visa. Here is our list of top 10 visa free destinations for South African passport holders.

For the action addicted tourist, the ski slopes and luxurious resorts of Andorra and hiking trails in this mountainous region of Europe offers abundant thrills of excitement and adventure. The promise of unraveling a charming quaint culture is also a big inducement for a visit to Andorra located in south western Europe.

Spectacular scenery of glaciers and fjords await visitors to this South American gem of a tourist destination. Discover the many fine beaches and varied dramatic landscapes of deserts, ice fields and volcanoes.

Costa Rica
Five vibrant active volcanoes with glowering sparks lighting up the night sky delight tourists. Opt to soak away the stress and strains in one of many naturally-fed thermal hot springs. Costa Rica takes pride in many of the adrenaline action-packed adventures it has to offer holidaymakers from aerial sky treks and zip lines to white water river rafting to horse back adventures at sundown.

Labelled the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’, the Fiji Islands showcases a variety of attractions that has travelers in awe. Over 300 islands depict pure and perfect beaches with crystal clear waters. A sense of adventure awaits on jet-boat safaris, acres of tropical jungles and dynamic coral reefs.

Irresistible Ireland’s multitude of main attractions has visitors gazing in admiration at picturesque landscapes, mountains, lakes, desert flowers, castles seeping history, heritage and legends. Easily accessible to South Africans, the charm of the Irish and beauty of the iconic isle of Ireland promises a playground for both the young and old.

There are numerous reasons to visit the Maldives, especially if exquisite beaches are what you’re after. Each island boasts its own individual charm. This fantastic water wonderland not only offers South Africans a visa free travel experience, but the best diving destination in the world as well.

The white sandy beaches and azure waters of Mozambique have become a firm favourite with South Africans for a perfect island getaway.

Seychelles offers South African holidaymakers pristine beaches with turquoise waters for swimming or snorkeling on a total of 155 islands. Other water-filled fun activities one can enjoy on the Seychelles islands are diving, fishing and sailing. Accommodation options include luxury 5 star resorts or rustic lodges or beachside bungalows.

Popular tourist attractions in Singapore include Orchard Road where one can get one’s high street fashion fix. But Singapore offers more than just fabulous shopping experiences. Singapore Zoo offers a world class facility on 28 landscaped hectares and unique open concept. Singapore Botanic Gardens is a man-made version of paradise and a must-see on any tourist’s itinerary.

Steeped in natural attractions, Zambia is every action adventurist’s paradise. Horse riding safari adventures in Kafue National Park, canoe safaris, exhilarating game watching opportunities, bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge and white water rafting are just some of the activities to delight the adventure enthusiast.

For more visa free destinations visit www.visaguru.co.uk

Stay safe in South Africa

Tips to staying safe whilst travelling in South Africa

South Africa showcases a treasure trove of tourist attractions not to be missed. With its world of wildlife, majestic mountains, breathtaking beaches and diverse cultures, it is easy to see why South Africa has become a favourite holiday destination. Like in any other country whilst on travel, one has to heed certain precautionary steps whilst on travel in South Africa to ensure a happy and safe trip.

What can a tourist expect from a visit to this country located at the southern most tip of Africa? South Africans lovingly refer to their country as the ‘Rainbow Nation’ and an international visitor quickly identifies with the magic and charm held in abundance here. Warm pleasant all-year round weather, a diverse variety of flora and fauna, many exquisite natural wonders including World Heritage sites, colourful cultures, sumptuous cuisine and an array of delightful activities to thrill both young and old.

By following a few basic rules holidaymakers whilst on travel to South Africa can ensure a memorable pleasant stay and a yearning to come back again.

Avoid hotspots of crime.
In certain major cities, like Johannesburg, there are higher risk areas which would be very wise for any tourist to avoid. If the township experience is of interest, a safer option would be to opt for one of many guided tours available with reputable tour companies. Another safety tip is to not venture out at night in dodgy areas.

Be vigilant
Whilst it is important to be vigilant about your person and your possessions during the day, it is even more critical that at night you pay closer attention to being safe. Do not leave your belongings unattended, not even in the hotel foyer. Ensure that doors are locked whether in your hotel room or when driving about in your rented car.

Standard travel precautions
A basic safety tip is to not have your valuables visible. It is not a good idea to carry around expensive jewellery or have wallets and purses lying around. Expensive valuable items should be locked away for safekeeping. Wear pouches well concealed under clothing that holds cash, cards, keys or important documents. It is also safer to not carry wads of cash. Modern conveniences of credit cards and debit cards have the added incentive of being a safer option for travellers. Highly prized digital cameras should rather be enclosed in bags than displayed around the neck.

Be forearmed by being informed
Familiarise yourself with the city or cities you will be visiting. Contact local information bureaus, hotels or people who have visited the areas for more information. Local people too are more than happy to help.

Guarantee your safety by using the services of reputable companies
Use only reputable companies when hiring taxis, rental cars or when opting to take a tour. It is good to know that road infrastructure is well maintained in South Africa and driving on national roads is a pleasure.

Paris, France

12 things not to miss in Paris

Lovingly referred to as the ‘City of Love’ or the ‘City of Light’, Paris has become a leading centre in the worlds of fashion, art and entertainment. With a history going back thousands of years, the city holds plenty of treasures no tourist should miss out on. Here is our list of 12:

1. The Musee d’Orsay
This grand museum showcases the world’s foremost collected works of impressionist paintings. Several rooms are dedicated to art work by masters like Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir Dega and Cezanne during the mid 1800s and first half of the 1900s where they can be viewed and appreciated.

2. The Luxembourg Gardens
Paris’ second largest public park, The Luxembourg Gardens as it is known in English, delights the senses of sight and smell. Exquisite lawns, landscaped gardens, fruit orchards displaying characteristic features of statues and fountains. Apart from its aesthetic value, housed within the gardens is a playground which promises loads of fun for children; tennis courts and jogging paths.

3. Cruise down the Seine River
An unforgettable experience with an amazing view of Paris from the river Seine can be had on one of the many river cruises on offer. There is the choice of hop-on and hop-off tours which provide a different take on the city. Choose a night tour to make the experience all the more special.

4. The Sacre Coeur
The Sacre Coeur basilica is favourably placed at the highest point of Paris to provide unbeatable panoramic views of the City of Light for which it is famous. Other incentives to visit this basilica, sanctified in 1909, are to see its stained glass windows and gold mosaics.

5. Place de la Concorde
One of the symbols of reconciliation in post-revolutionary France is Place de la Concorde, boasting an area of 86,400 metres; it is the largest square in Paris.

6. The Sorbonne and the Latin Quarter
A visit to one of Europe’s oldest and flourishing universities, Sorbonne University is a real treat for tourists. Founded in 1257 the university has schooled renowned names like Rene Descartes, Jean-Paul Sarte and Simone de Beauvoir.

7. Centre Georges Pompidou
The locals lovingly refer to this art museum and cultural centre as Paris’ ‘cultural pulse’. The museum was opened in 1977 in honour of president Georges Pompidou. The museum’s unique skeletal design draws many visitors who are either mesmerized or appalled by the design.

8. The Louvre Museum
No tourist can visit Paris without paying homage to the world’s most famous art works housed within the Louvre Museum. Its signature glass pyramid is one of the city’s more famous landmarks. An art collection in excess of 1 million is proudly showcased here including Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ and works by Michelangelo.

9. The Eiffel Tower
Constructed in 1889 and at a staggering 1 000 feet high in the Champs de Mars park, the Eiffel Tower remains one of the most popular attractions for tourists the world over. Incredible views and photographic opportunities of the city is afforded by it enormous height advantage.

10. Notre Dame Cathedral
Featuring two elevated towers, a spire and soaring 400 feet high, the Notre Dame church is a perfect example of French Gothic architecture of the 13th century. Visitors await an awe-inspiring glimpse of rose windows, Gothic carvings and sculptures.

11. The Arc de Triomphe
Built in 1806 in tribute to Napoleon Bonaparte’s triumphant battles, the Arc de Triomphe is one of Paris’ most popular attractions. Intricate reliefs which tell of the victorious battles as well as the names of the brave soldiers who gave their lives for their country are engraved on the arch.

12. Champs–Elysees
The city of Paris holds its major celebrations on this world-famous avenue from New Year’s Eve to military parades on the 14th of July. Situated along the avenue are cinemas, cafes and shops for the indulgent. Fabulous landscaped gardens and fountains can be found near Place de la Concorde.

New York City

7 Essential things to see in New York City

Few cities can compare with the wealth of attractions that New York has to offer a visitor. It can be overwhelming for the first-time tourist to New York to decide what to see as the list of top attractions is extensive. Whilst there can be no definitive list, our top 7 of must-sees appear below:

1. The unbeatable skyline of New York City
New York’s skyline is one of the most instantly recognizable in the world and that leaves most that look upon it, awe-struck. Iconic high rise buildings, monuments and bridges create a spectacular feast for the eyes. The aerial view provided 86th floor observation deck, 1 050 feet high, of the Empire State building is second to none.

2. Times Square
Time Square is one the classic attraction for both local and international visitors. Its characteristic gigantic digital billboards’ bright lights, art and jewelry peddlers, Broadway shows, restaurants and big brands’ flagship stores offer a colourful eclectic mix that tantalizes all the senses.

3. Central Park
Located in the pulsing heart of Manhattan, is a manmade modern masterpiece – Central Park. Traversing 843 acres, this urban oases comprises of rolling fields, walking trails and suitably placed lakes and reservoirs. Central Park on its own showcases plenty of attractions for the visitor to delight in: Cantral Park Zoo, the Great Lawn, Wollman Rink, Rumsey Playfield, Belverdere Castle are just some of the highlights to experience here.

4. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
One of the most instantly recognizable landmark is the Statue of Liberty. This iconic Lady symbolizes a beacon of hope and freedom to millions who set eyes on her. The 125-year old statue can be accessed easily via a short ferry ride to Liberty Island.

5. Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo is considered the largest urban wildlife preserve housed within the United States. More than 5 000 animals call the 265 acre Bronx Zoo home. Zebras, lions, giraffes, baboons, lemurs, crocodiles, sea lions, penguins, tigers, antelope are just some of the wildlife that can be viewed. Visitors are invited to excite the senses on the Wild Asia Monorail, or gaze in awe at the World of Birds or World of Reptiles.

6. National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center
It is well worth a visit to stop by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center. The eight acre memorial is in tribute to the 3 000 victims who lost their lives due to the terrorist attacks on February 26, 1993, and September 11, 2001. A sanctuary featuring more than 400 trees offer visitors a space of quiet reflection to think of the lives that were lost. Two large reflecting pools fed from waterfalls have the names of the men, women and children inscribed in its bronze walls. A short distance away lays the 9/11 Tribute Center where photos are displayed and where visitors are invited on walking tours that remember what took place during those horrific events.

7. Staten Island Ferry
A glorious view of the New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline can be had on a free short 25 minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan to Staten Island. The ferry service is offered 24 hours a day with stops at St. George Ferry Terminal. Attractions which are fed by the ferry service include: the Staten Island Museum, St George Theater, Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden.