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World Class Adventures Newsletter - August 2022

Classic Destinations - with a twist!!

Some places are so iconic, that it’s hard not to include them on your trip. But, that doesn’t mean you have to follow the standard formula as a visitor.  Sometimes, all you need is a fresh perspective... so this month we're sharing how to explore travel icons in more unusual ways. 
Go backstage at the Sydney Opera House, explore the streets of Hanoi with a local photographer, and zip through the Canadian wilderness in a motorcycle sidecar....the options are exciting!  Here are some favourites:


Any hike through the Atlas Mountains will bring you into contact with the panoramic views, steep orange slopes, the red clay soil, the wind-stunted juniper trees and even the shaggy goats who pick their way through scree fields of loose stone.
 But the mountains are also defined by the Berber people who have lived here for thousands of years. Stepping inside one of their houses to share a meal with a family is like getting a glimpse of the mountains’ soul.  Fatima, the matriarch of the family wears a bright pink headscarf and a smile that makes her face break into a thousand wrinkles, she has a sleeping baby on her back as she cooks over a simple oven.  Sitting on embroidered cushions at a low table, share a simple spiced tagine together and chat away about life in Morocco

High Atlas Mountains

Berber Woman In High Atlas Mountains


I always recommend spending a few days in Cuzco, to adjust to its altitude - it's surprisingly tiring at first. There are many ways to explore its labyrinth-like Inca stone-paved streets. Think beyond a standard city tour and dive into the local food scene. All you need is an adventurous palate.  
An ‘eat like a local’ tour will focus on San Pedro Market, where families buy their fruit and veg (though, as you’ll see, its stalls heave with all kinds of curios, from chicken soup to handicrafts and dubious-looking love potions).
You’ll have the chance to taste some of the area’s more exotic produce such as lúcuma (a fruit with a nutty caramel taste) before heading to a nearby restaurant to try that signature Andean dish, roast guinea pig (cuy). Its flesh is very succulent — like a good roast chicken — while the skin is satisfyingly crispy. Later, you might sample anticuchos (beef heart kebabs) and a variety of spiced tea.
 Cuzco food marketPeruvians in Cuzco, Peru


Most first-timers to Sydney are bound to visit the famous opera house that sits in the middle of Sydney Harbour. Whether you’re a fan of the performing arts or not, it’s tempting to know what lies underneath those gigantic sails that form the building’s roof. But, if you really want to examine its inner workings, don’t opt for a standard tour. Instead, take the VIP route.
Meeting early in the morning, you’ll go into the venue’s underbelly with one of the official guides. You’ll be able to stand on stage in the Opera House’s six different performance spaces and even into an orchestra pit at one point.

As you explore, your guide will update you on some of the backstage stories, explain aspects such as acoustics, and even show you the dressing rooms. At the end, you’ll have breakfast in the Green Room, the performers’ and staff members’ inner sanctum where audience members and visitors aren’t normally admitted.
 Sydney Opera House


The low-lying stepped pyramids hunched around a grassy plaza, their stones green with moss at Uaxactún, one of the world’s oldest Maya sites are only 23 km (14 miles) from the towering temples of Tikal, Guatemala's headline ruin. But, unlike Tikal, no one really comes here, except for a few residents of the small village which has grown up around the ruins over the years. 
‘Lost city’ clichés are commonplace when you’re exploring Maya archaeological sites. But that’s exactly how Uaxactún feels - you’ll get a real sense of what it might have been like to stumble upon a ruined city for the very first time.
Nothing is roped off, nothing has been restored — stones lay where they’ve fallen — and the jungle is reclaiming its own. Trogons, manakins, mot mots and honeycreepers haunt the trees. Despite the ruins’ untouched state, some of their carvings (including some fiendish-looking masks) remain blindingly clear.
The site is maintained and owned by the village, where you can visit its tiny school and eat lunch at one of the villagers’ houses before exploring the ruins with a local guide. You’ll camp comfortably overnight there, enjoy some stargazing, and wake in the morning to the sound of calling parrots.


Hanoi’s lakes, Taoist temples and French-colonial architecture make it a very photogenic city. But, if you’re after some unique shots, as well as an insight into a more local side of Vietnam’s capital, take a photography tour with a Hanoi resident.
Guides are eager to find out if there are any specific techniques you want to learn and provide tips along the way
Wander through the Old Quarter, stopping to experiment with creative angles to capture rows of handmade bamboo ladders and piles of vegetables. Cutting through the district is Train Street, a narrow track lined with tiny cafés, shops and brightly painted murals where the guide can help you to get into the best position to photograph a passing train.
After stopping for a traditional Vietnamese coffee, you’ll walk onward to Long Bein Bridge. Snap the scooters that zip past, and views of busy traffic passing below. You’ll also be able to see part of the Hanoi Ceramic Mosaic Mural, a 4-mile art piece that holds the Guinness World Record for the largest ceramic mosaic in the world.

Hanoi Bicycle


Many visitors to New Zealand — Tolkien fans or not — are keen to see the sprawling ‘Hobbiton’ film set created for the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. This artificial village is secluded among the softly rounded hills of Matamata, not far from Rotorua.
It’s a pastoral fantasy, a place of winding lanes, pumpkin patches, orchards, busy flowerbeds, thatched cottages, abandoned vegetable trugs, and much more: the attention to detail is exquisite. But the sheer number of tours taking place can make it more like a crowded theme park. 
However, if you go late in the day and stay for dinner you can avoid the crowds.  You’ll see the set including Bilbo Baggins’s front door bathed in the soft afternoon light. Then, at the Green Dragon Inn set sit down for a communal feast. The long wooden tables groan with hearty fare, including stews, roast chicken and oodles of desserts.
There’s supping of ale and ginger beer, before heading to the party tree for a jig or two. You’ll see Hobbiton as few see it: lantern-lit, with smoke curling up from the chimneys of Hobbit-holes. All in all, a much more peaceful and fun way to visit 
 Hobbiton, New Zealand


Imagine the breeze whipping up loose strands of your hair as you speed uphill, the motorcycle’s engine ‘vrooming’, you nostrils filled with the sweet aroma of pine that fills the air throughout Jasper National Park  (Interestingly, the sound attracts bears so you’re more likely to see them!). the.
Most people explore the park by car, on foot, or by mountain bike. But, dressed head to toe in bikers’ leathers and sitting comfortably in the sidecar of a shiny Harley-Davidson motorcycle, this experience gives you a whole different perspective.
Setting off from the town of Jasper, your local guide can tailor the route to your preferences. You might want to explore nearby Maligne Canyon, circle Pyramid and Patricia lakes or zip through the Athabasca Valley.
At the halfway point, you have the chance to stretch your legs and take a few photographs. Then, either continue the ride in your sidecar or switch to the back of the motorcycle for an increased 

Jasper, Alberta


Exploring Yellowstone independently, you might see herds of bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, elk and bison grazing on the open plains, as well as the occasional moose, but, it can be difficult to come across the park’s more elusive species: grizzlies, black bears and wolves unless you go with someone who knows where to find them.
Explore Yellowstone with a private biologist guide.  Most guides have worked here for years, and their passion and experience really shine through. They’ll tell you about the park’s ecosystem, geology and history. And, communicating with each other by radio, they’re able to give you the inside scoop on where animals are likely to be.
Your guide picks you up from your hotel in a 4x4 at around 5 am — wildlife is most active in the early morning — and together you explore the park until around 2 pm. You can discuss with your guide which animals you’re most interested in seeing and they’ll plan the day accordingly.

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park


Most people visit Phnom Penh to see the Killing Fields and Prison S21, where you can learn about the horrors that occurred here in recent history. But Phnom Penh is a city slowly emerging from its past. It’s now a vibrant mix of fashionable bars, micro-breweries and cafés that sit alongside the gilded Khmer architecture of the Royal Palace and its surrounding temples.
One of the best ways to get to know this modern side to the city is to hop on a scooter like the locals. A Vespa tour, which takes you across the Cambodian capital to taste local delicacies, sample signature cocktails and see the city’s blossoming nightlife is fabulous fun.
The tour begins with a cocktail at a rooftop bar where the city lights twinkle below. You’ll then jump on the back of a Vespa, nipping between the traffic to a restaurant located in one of the city’s last surviving Chinese houses. Try the crispy crickets and sample some local craft beer
At the next stop, try a range of dishes including beef infused with Cambodian Kampot pepper). Scoot down narrow passages, past Khmer families enjoying an evening drink, before finishing with a cocktail in an upscale bar built in one of the city's original hole-in-the-wall bars.

Vespa tour, Phnom Penh, Cambodia


Religion in Varanasi is a complex and multi-faceted topic. You can watch the incense-scented evening Aarti ceremonies and boat along mother Ganges. But, to really delve into this ancient city and its rituals, you can take a guided tour focusing on the spiritual significance here: death and rebirth.
Over the course of a balmy evening, your guide will take you through backstreets and into hidden temples, gradually revealing the spiritual side of the city. The tour offers a window into India’s intense rituals and customs for those who are interested, delving deeper into the complex mix of beliefs that define the country.
Stop at Lolark Kund, a tiny stepwell that you maybe wouldn’t have recognised as a holy site. Here, childless women perform fertility rituals, praying to Lord Lolark Aditya for conception as they take a dip in the water. Their clothes are left behind as a symbol of rebirth.
Next, you can step into Aghor Ashram, one of the oldest places of worship in the city. The ashram is the heart of Aghora, a tantric school of Hinduism that worships Bhairava (one of Shiva’s many forms). It’s still used today and the complex hums with devotional chanting. If you’re comfortable, you’re welcome to take part in one of the rituals and be blessed with ashes from the cremation ghats.
From there, you’ll weave through the bazaars, stopping at some of the tiny shrines and temples along the way — Jai had a story for each of them. Finish at the temple of Sankata Devi, the goddess of trouble and the destroyer of sorrow. Overlooking the cremation ghats, you can watch the nightly ceremonies along the riverside in the company of yellow-robed sadhus (Hindu monks) puffing on chillums (traditional clay pipes).

Sadhu (holy man) in VaranasiEvening prayer ceremony at the Ganges, Varanasi

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