WHERE TO FIND PARADISE APPLES & GINGERBREAD HEARTS

 

Did you know that Christmas markets date back to late medieval times? Sales fairs and markets – often one-day markets – were held to give townspeople the opportunity to stock up on meat and winter needs at the beginning of the cold season. Only later in the 14th century, it was customary to allow artisans such as toy makers, basket weavers or confectioners to set up stalls for the trifles that children were given for Christmas. Even the tradition to offer stalls with roasted chestnuts, nuts and almonds goes back to the Middle Ages. December or St. Nicholas’ markets they were called. In Munich for instance one of those markets was first mentioned in history in 1310!

Today – more than 700 years later – these wonderful, magical markets are found all over Germany and welcome visitors from around the world from the end of November until the end of December. The figures on the number of markets vary a little, but it is estimated that there are about 3000 different ones.

In cities like Berlin alone there are – would you believe it – about 90 different markets for every taste, every age group, with or without carousel and music, even for dogs there is a special one! And the greatest idea of all – when it is cold and snowing and maybe even dark already in the late afternoon – take a horse-drawn carriage,  wrap yourself in warm blankets, drink some hot & tasty mulled wine and ride from market to market. A truly unforgettable experience!

 

Christmas Market Season this year starts on November 25th, 2019 … don’t miss it!

Uganda’s Mubare Gorilla Group got a New baby

You can never read about world gorillas and fail to hear about the incredible Ugandan Gorillas, Uganda holds more than half of the world’s gorilla population. the ever increasing number has been made possible through the different wildlife conservation programs run in the area of Bwindi.

Well today we are celebrating the birth of a new born baby Gorilla in the Mubare group found in Buhoma, Both Mother Businza and baby are in good shape according to Uganda Wildlife Authority. (UWA).

Gorilla birth patterns are not so different from humans, female gorillas are pregnant for nine months and usually give birth to only one infant at a time. Newborn gorillas weigh about 4 lbs. (1.8 kg). From the time they’re about 4 months to 2 or 3 years old, At around 7 to 10 years, the young gorilla become mature enough to have its own offspring. At this point, the gorilla leaves its mother’s group to find a mate.

The Mubare Mountain Gorilla Group was the first to be habituated within Uganda. The group was named after the forested Mubare Hills. In 1991 the Uganda Wildlife Authority started the habituation process to ensure that they are free to be tracked by tourist. The group started receiving visitors after two years. Following the patterns of loss of lives during fights and other members joining other groups reducing the group number from over 18 members to about 5 in 2009.

This group lost its first dominant silver back in 2013, Ruhondeza was attached by a wild un habituated gorilla group that ended up taking away some females from the group. The frustrated Ruhondeza quit leadership of the group and took refuge in the nearby community forest where he was found dead. He was buried at the UWA headquarters in Buhoma.

After the death of Ruhondeza, his successor took on the mantle of growing and expanding the group the group has grown to over 9 members since 2013.

Uganda is free to travel all year round, and the country is much cost effective when it comes to tracking as Uganda has maintained a low gorilla permit price rate compared to her sister countries of Rwanda and DRC.

www.ugandasafarichapter.com

Blood Lions “Born To Live Wild” Pledge

We believe that tourism companies are the natural partners of conservation initiatives and earlier this year Blood Lions, together with The Travel Corporation, it’s TreadRight Foundation and Cullinan Holdings announced an important partnership.

The international award-winning film Blood Lions® brought the realities of predator breeding, canned hunting and a variety of other exploitative activities involving lions and other predators to the world’s attention. The film’s powerful visual narrative, and the subsequent global “Born To Live Wild” Tourism Campaign and Pledge, provide a compelling call to action to stop all exploitative wildlife interactive tourism practices, which include cub bottle feeding and petting, walking with lions and posing with wildlife for “selfies”.

The group have endorsed the Blood Lions global “Born To Live Wild” Tourism Campaign by adding our logos as signatories to the Pledge, thus committing to aligning our company policies and continually promoting responsible and ethical wildlife practices.

Grosvenor Tours is a division of Cullinan Holdings and a proud member of, and contributes to, the TreadRight Foundation.

Should you wish to join this global campaign in its fight you can email Blood Lions at info@bloodlions.org and form part of the solution with us!

Why Panama Is the Place to Go in 2019

Panama takes its parties seriously, and 2019 could mark the country’s most evolved fiesta yet. Panama City—the oldest continuously occupied European settlement on the Pacific coast of the Americas—is turning 500. Ancient walls, glassy skyscrapers, and a mix of African, Native Panamanian, and Spanish cultures have all played a part in forming the frenetic “Miami of Central America.” Lately, however, Panama has become more focused on preserving its treasures. Head to the historic quarter of Casco Viejo and you’ll find innovative restaurants built inside restored colonial buildings. Meanwhile, on remote islands where hiking trails are peppered with Pre-Columbian era pottery and protected wildlife, new eco-resorts are finally putting Panama on the map for sustainable tourism.

For most, a visit to the isthmus country begins with a quick stop in the capital city before jetting off to nature. Learn the greeting “que sopa” (local slang for what’s up?) and you’ll have no problem making friends. While you’re there, check the big one off your list: the Panama Canal, a maritime trading conduit that was controlled by the U.S. for over a century before being turned over to Panama in 1999. Over the past 20 years, Panama has come into its own more than ever before. Cultural progress is most visible in Casco Viejo, the city’s old town, which has transformed into a stylish hotspot and UNESCO World Heritage Site rolled into one.

“When we opened on this street, you wouldn’t walk here at night,” says chef Felipe Milanes, owner of Tomillo Panama, a restaurant housed in the shell of an 1855 railroad office. “Right when we opened, all the buildings around us were sold. There are two that are almost finished and three restaurants that opened up the block. All of this happened in two and a half years.”

Meander over to The Strangers Club, a bar by Steve Schneider and five other bartenders from New York City’s Employees Only, and you’ll find retro-inspired interiors in line with Casco’s other atmospheric spots including fine dining restaurant Donde José, healthy eatery Mahalo and hole-in-the-wall diner Fonda Lo Que Hay.

“Building codes in Casco Viejo are tightly managed, supporting the vision that this unique part of the city maintains its colonial roots,” says Rob Harper, a Panama resident and the co-owner of Namu Travel Group. “They want the architecture to look as close to its original version as possible.”

Succeeding at this, at least in terms of its restored neoclassical façade, is The American Trade Hotel (a collaboration between Atelier Ace and Conservatorio, one of the property developers focused on revitalizing the neighborhood). Step inside the building—historically considered to be Panama’s first modern skyscraper—and you’ll find the city’s fashionable set dining under macramé wall hangings by Los Angeles-based artist Tanya Aguiñiga.

By night, the rooftop of the Tantalo Hotel becomes a low-key hangout amidst interiors designed by artisans using upcycled materials. Its sister restaurant, Caliope, is one of the area’s first farm-to-table restaurants. Despite its proximity to Costa Rica, Panama has been slow to embrace environmental sustainability. But with new eco-properties opening near the protected Gulf of Chiriquí National Marine Park, this too is changing.

Leading the charge is eco-luxury resort Isla Palenque, which opened in 2018 with eight new design-forward beachfront villas set on a 400-acre jungle-swathed island where monkeys outnumber humans. Its golden ratio allows for top-notch wildlife viewings on the hiking trails, plus plenty of private beach time. As the first Panama resort to join the Cayuga Collection, a group of luxury sustainable lodges in Latin America, Isla Palenque is aiming to improve environmental awareness in the region (not an easy task in a country with limited recycling programs) one papaya-leaf drinking straw at a time. For now, the Gulf of Chiriquí is accessible to those willing to make the journey (COPA Airlines offers daily one-hour flights from Panama City to the town of David), but it likely won’t always remain a secret. A few miles away, Islas Secas Reserve & Lodge, a solar-powered resort by billionaire conservationist Louis Bacon, is set to open in January 2019.

“This area of Panama gets very few visitors so it really feels pristine, new and undiscovered,” says Hans Pfister, co-founder and president of the Cayuga Collection. “There is huge potential in the area but hopefully the growth will be sustainable.”

Wild and untouched, the Gulf of Chiriquí incites a feeling of discovery, its golden sand beaches and jungle paths offering a more bucolic lookout than that from a rooftop party in the capital. But no matter where you are in modern Panama—500 years in the making—what’s old is new again.

Best in Travel 2019 TOP Countries – Lonely Planet

4. Panama

Welcome to the crossroads of the Americas. In Panama, north meets south in a fiesta of tropical biodiversity, celebrated at the world-class BioMuseo. East meets West through expanding world trade, with the world’s biggest cargo ships travelling the recently revamped Panama Canal. Darling Panama packs so many treasures into one small country – from white-sand beaches to tropical rainforests, misty highlands and indigenous culture – it is shocking that it’s somehow still under the radar. In 2019, Panama City pledges to party like never before, marking its 500-year history with one raucous jubilee that you won’t want to miss. ¡Viva Panama!

 

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/best-in-travel/countries

Abu Dhabi M.I.C.E. Support Programme

 

Always eager to support their partners, the Abu Dhabi Convention Bureau has come out with a new incentive scheme to encourage meetings and conferences during the quieter months of the year.

This is in the form of a monetary value that will go towards complimentary entrance tickets to attractions in Abu Dhabi, team-building activities, food & beverage (excluding alcohol & tobacco), Emirati cultural experiences, a welcome cultural performance and a cultural showcase at a gala dinner.

Applicable terms and conditions:

  • Minimum 2 nights stay in Abu Dhabi from 01 July – 21 October 2019 and 01 April – 31 Oct. 2020
  • Program must include a half-day meeting: training, team-building or gala dinner
  • Group must consist of minimum 50 international delegates/participants
  • Support will be reimbursed based on materialized number of delegates/participants (based on rooming list)
  • Support to be paid directly to Abu Dhabi registered suppliers after completion of the event
  • This offer can be extended to the winter months (1 Nov. 2019 – 31 March 2020) based on 50% of the rate scheme

Please let us know if you are interested to avail of this offer and we will be happy to assist you. Just send us your group/ meeting details by clicking here.

4WD DISCOVERY OF THE BASQUE MOUNTAINS

4WD cars (self drive cars) will lead to the most beautiful landscape of the Basque Country (CB radio in each car, the English speaking guide in the leading car give information along the trip).

During this tour you will discover at your own pace the roads and tracks used by smugglers and the wonderful scenery of the Basque country and its typical villages. Along the way you are likely to come across a pottok, one of the wild horses roaming free in the mountains.

Stop in Sare and Ainhoa, classified among the most beautiful villages in France lying in the shadow of the Rhune Mountain.

UWA Sets New Gorilla permit fees for 2020

For up to five years, each gorilla group has undergone an extremely delicate process (Habituation) which has gradually accustomed them used to the presence of humans, allowing a few privileged visitors to interact with them in the wild. However, the gorillas are by no means tame! A typical gorilla tracking or habituation in Uganda is accompanied by an experienced guide, every trek starts with a pre-departure brief at the tracking point to equip you with information about ‘gorilla etiquette’.

Gorilla tracking is a year-round activity, whatever the weather. Tracking commences every morning from the park headquarters at 8:30am. The gorillas cover large distances overnight, and they are never constantly in one area. The guides use their knowledge of the gorillas’ habits and information from the previous day to locate the group’s whereabouts. For this reason, one group cannot be said to be easier to track than another.

During a meeting with the members of the Association of Tour Operators in Uganda on 6th August 2019, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) broke the news to the members that the tariff for gorilla tracking in Mgahinga and Bwindi will be raised from USD $600 to USD $700 beginning 1st July 2020.

In-spite the high cost of gorilla permits in Rwanda which is at USD $1,500, Uganda has maintained a low rate by increasing its permits by only USD $100 making it remain at peak demand. In a letter dated 7th August 2019 addressed to the Tourism Stakeholders new products, rates and clarity on fines of some UWA products and services were introduced.

Here is the the letter which show some of the changes made by UWA.


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