Birding is back: see why avian spotting is now a global trend

Observing birds for personal enjoyment, photography, or checking them off a life list, has emerged as a growing (and to some, an addictive) pursuit. 

The act of birding has discarded its antiquated image of geeks and dowdy couples wearing floppy hats and rhyming off facts about the mating habits of a Wilson’s Snipe.

In fact, the quest to see birds in the wild has become a global, multi-generational obsession. According to the most recent survey conducted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), there are an estimated 16 million travelling birders (out of 45 million bird-friendly people) spending approximately $40 billion in the United States alone, proving that birding is here to stay. 

Birds are the most accessible form of wildlife to see, and birders want to see birds everywhere on the planet. The great news is that travellers can combine birding with almost everything else they do on vacation, whether that means relaxing on the beach, hiking a trail or exploring a new destination. For example, on a recent visit to Oaxaca, Mexico, my friend and I discovered that aside from the beauty of the city’s historic core, the trees throughout the area were brimming with Cinnamon hummingbirds. And in Antigua, I took photos of the bougainvillea, frangipani, and flamboyant foliage at Ffryes Beach, but it was really the blue-chinned sapphire hummingbirds that made this blissful, colourful scene even more enchanting.  

For some, birding equates to the pursuit of wellness; an avian equivalent of the Japanese term ‘Shinrinyoku’ (forest bathing). A string of song from an Eastern meadowlark in Ontario, Canada; a flash of colour from a vermilion flycatcher in San Blas, Mexico; a glimpse of a Scarlet ibis in Curaçao, or a close encounter with a Cuban tody in Cuba’s Zapata Peninsula, stimulate the endorphins and produce feelings of excitement and happiness. 

The ultimate reward

James Turland, a bird guide I met at the Point Pelee Bird Festival, referred to birding as the ultimate treasure hunt.  “When you wake up and listen to the ‘dawning chorus’, as the birds greet the sunrise, you never know what you might see and hear,” he mused. “Even at the same destination, every day is a new game, with new excitement and new challenges.”  And we know this to be true, having walked the famous Pipeline Road in Panama’s Soberania National Park many times. One day it’s White-tailed trogons, fasciated antshrikes and Crimson-crested woodpeckers, while the next day, along the same route, observers can find squirrel cuckoos, broad-billed motmots, and Purple-throated fruitcrows. 

Some birders pride themselves on owning ultra-expensive zoom lenses, cameras, binoculars and field scopes, while others are perfectly happy with simple equipment to capture the spirit of their adventure, and this includes point-and-shoot cameras and cell phones. In addition, birding apps can help to identify birds, and recognize birds by their songs: The “yoink-yoink” of the crested guan in Costa Rica; the “hear me, see me, here I am” call of Jamaica’s Blue-headed vireo; and the “chonk, chonk, chonk” call of a White-tailed nightjar in Antigua.

The common set of skills that unite all birders are listening, spotting, patience, a healthy dose of enthusiasm, a love of nature and good, old-fashioned luck. For Canadians, the Caribbean remains one of the top destination getaways and each island boasts an eyeful and earful of both migratory and endemic avian discoveries.

One of the largest frigate bird colonies in the world can be found in Barbuda. The tiny bee hummingbird, the smallest in the world, visits the flowers in Cuba. The Red-billed streamertail is a native of Jamaica, while the Barbados bullfinch can only be found on that island.  Travellers can meet hundreds of species throughout the region, including bananaquits, cuckoos, parrots, parakeets, snail kites, saltators, orioles, ospreys, hawks, herons, egrets, warblers, whistling ducks, woodpeckers, vireos, tanagers and more.

Some birders enjoy the camaraderie of travelling on a customized birding trip, while others may feel perfectly at home on a family vacation, where the informal opportunity to spot and hear birds takes the imagination to new heights.  

The mantra of the avian adventurer is that ‘birding is not a destination; it’s a journey’.  And that journey dovetails nicely into wonder, serendipity, colour, song, and ultimately, peace of mind.  

—BY STEVE GILLICK




These are some of the best things you’ll see on a scenic drive through Ireland’s Ring of Kerry

Coming off a red-eye flight out of Toronto, my partner and I landed in Dublin, Ireland at 6 a.m., and just as quickly as we arrived, we left in a rental car headed straight to Killarney, County Kerry.

Two weeks fresh off the tailend of St. Paddy’s Day celebrations, it’s not that the electric energy that flooded Ireland’s capital city didn’t interest uswe had plans to end our journey there. But springtime in Ireland, I’d heard, was one of the best times to truly see the country in all its glory, where newborn lambs, still a bit wobbly and getting used to their legs, tumbled around some of the greenest pastures and meadows known to exist.

The next morning, after a hearty Irish breakfast of fried eggs with orange-coloured yolks, pan-seared sausage links, baked beans and freshly-sliced tomatoes prepared by our charming hosts, Donal and Ann, who own the family-run Kingfisher Lodge, we hit the road to conquer one of Ireland’s most famous scenic drives— the Ring of Kerry. Spanning roughly 179 kilometres across rugged terrain that includes brooding bogs, rocky hillsides and ancient valleys, the circuit takes about three-and-a-half hours to complete, for those who refuse to stop. “So many people head this way first,” Ann said, pointing northeast on a map at the reception desk. “But if you start this way, you’ll thank me, I promise.” Taking her advice, we took the long way out.

Thousands of years ago, Irish folklore conjured up tales of woodland nymphs, playful sprites and tiny fairies with supernatural powers, and as we took the lonely, winding roads flanked by mossy trees, and an unsettling fog crept in, it was enough to make you accept the make-believe.

Of rocks and ruins

Driving west on the N70, one of the first sites we came to was the Ballycarbery Castle ruins. Found just on the outskirts of the small town, Cahersiveen, Ballycarbery Castle was built in the early sixteenth century and once housed one of Ireland’s oldest clans, the McCarthy’s. Since 1398, the castle has stood on a hill facing the sea, and while it is now closed for public access, visitors can still marvel at it from a distance. Despite the damp and the rain, the structure still resembles a nearly-complete castle, with enchanting vines that have climbed through the medieval stone windows and doorways.

Minutes away, we discovered yet another primordial wonder. Walking through a grassy pasture, we approached the sixth-century Cahergall Stone Fort. At first glance, it was reminiscent of a snow fort’s bricks, where long ago, a group of people undertook the painstaking process of intricately weaving and stacking stones one on top of the other, to reach a height of roughly six metres.

Entering the fort, I saw another large stone circle with two separate entrance ways. Also called ring forts, these old Irish stone forts are some of the earliest and best-preserved examples of protective stone forts to be found in County Kerry. Outside the fort’s walls, a vicious wind from the nearby North Atlantic whipped and whistled, but inside was absolutely quiet.

A set of stacking stone steps have been carved into the fort’s walls, allowing for transportation all along the interior walls. Three miles west of the town Sneem, we also came across the Staigue Stone Fort. With a similar exterior, this ring fort is presumed to have been built in the late Iron Age (between 300 and 400 AD). According to the Irish tourism board, it’s said that nearly 50,000 of these stone forts were built over the centuries as a means of agricultural support, defence and sometimes, simply a display of good fortune.

Parks and peaks

Halfway through our journey, we looped back east and headed for Killarney National Park, but not before making a stop at Moll’s Gap. Damp from the rain and ravenous from all of the walking and fresh air, earlier, we’d stopped for a quick bite to eat in Cahersiveen. While polishing off our last drops of Guinness, an older man, who was certainly a regular at the pub, had overheard our plans and insisted we make the stop. One of the most popular tourist attractions on this side of the Ring of Kerry, Moll’s Gap is a mountain pass that offers sweeping views of the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks mountains. The natural phenomenon was formed more than 25,000 years ago during Ireland’s final ice age. Staring out at the view, I was glad we’d taken the old man’s advice, who was one of many people on the trip who were so quick to help or offer friendly suggestions.

Killarney National Park was the final stop on our list on a drive that was becoming longer by the minute, because all around us, something was begging to be photographed. Trees with twisted trunks and branches looming over the roads; a red fox darting out across the road and of course, hundreds of baby lambs and ewes snuggled against one another in the fields.

The landscapes we were seeing in real-time looked good enough to be a painting, and I’d argue, had characteristics that were simply impossible to truly capture, no matter how good of a camera lens I had packed. There was one final stop on our itinerary though, and the name on this one conjured up a definite need for a photograph with myself in it. A hotspot for panorama photo enthusiasts and tourists from all over the world, Ladies’ View is a scenic viewpoint set amongst the wilderness that provides unobstructed views of the surrounding Irish lakes. No matter the weather, the mood is pure magic, making it one of the most-visited places inside of the park. 

As we finished up with our photos and made our way back, I checked the time—more than eight hours had passed since we set out that morning and I hadn’t even noticed. The Ring of Kerry and everything it encompasses had lived up to its name as one of Ireland’s best drives, and for those who wish to conquer it, make the stops and always take the long way—I promise you’ll be happy you did.

—TEXT AND PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE HOGG

6 of the coolest things to do in the Caribbean this summer

For many countries in the Caribbean, this summer marks the return of many significant events that were postponed due to the pandemic. From music festivals to foodie experiences, and even self-care indulgence, here are six fun experiences to try in the Caribbean.

ANTIGUA

Running July 27 to Aug. 2, Antigua’s Carnival is back after a two-year hiatus. First celebrated in 1957, the week-long event kicks off with an opening celebration alongside the annual pageant, Jaycees Caribbean Queen Show. Aug. 1 is Carnival Monday, and it also marks Emancipation Day. Antigua and Barbuda have observed the abolition of slavery since 1834 and much of Antigua’s Carnival festivities commemorate the earliest abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean. A series of pre-festival events kick off in St. John’s, Antigua starting July 23, but the main event is the colourful Parade of the Bands which takes place on the last day.

https://visitantiguabarbuda.com 

GRENADA

Deeply rooted in ancestral traditions, Spicemas is one of the largest summer festivals in Grenada. Starting with a month-long series of pre-carnival events, including soca competitons the Traditional Mas Festival (July 23) is a showcase and competition of traditional masquerade bands from all over the country. J’ouvert, from the French ‘jour ouvert’ meaning ‘day open’, is the pre-dawn parade (Aug. 8) and is the first of the street events. Gathering well before dawn on J’ouvert morning, revellers cover their bodies in paint, oil, tar, mud, molasses and even chocolate. Monday Night Mas is held that evening, and starting at dusk, large bands of revellers in brightly coloured or neon t-shirts and light-up paraphernalia parade through the streets. Spicemas 2022 concludes with the Parade of the Bands on Aug.9 puregrenada.com/events/spicemas-2022/ 

JAMAICA 

Running July 18 to July 23, those who travel to Montego Bay, Jamaica this summer won’t want to miss out on one of the hottest events of the year. Reggae SumFest kicks off on July 18 with a free street festival at Harmony Beach Park. A series of pre-event parties follow until Friday, July 22 which marks the kickoff of the main festival, where a series of talented acts will perform over the course of two evenings. reggaesumfest.com

MEXICO

UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya, the redefined, adults only all-inclusive hotel located in the heart of the Yucatan peninsula, is back with its fourth annual gastronomy series, Superbia Summer. From July 11 to Aug. 21, the hotel’s multi-sensory experience will feature an all women roster of chefs, mixologists, and local artisans all coming together to showcase their talent from different regions of Mexico. Each week will feature one chef, one mixologist, and one artisan implementing their unique twist to transform the hotel’s experiences. https://www.unicohotelrivieramaya.com 

ST. MARTIN

Located in Grand Case, St. Martin, Tijon Perfumerie specializes in hosting custom perfume-making classes. Run by owner John Berglund, and his wife, Cyndi, Tijon bottles all of its perfumes by hand, and houses a perfume organ that contains more than 300 pure, essential oils. Guests will select three essential oils that target the top, middle, and base notes required to craft a signature scent. There are a variety of classes to choose from, including private classes and group classes. After naming their perfect perfume, guests can also opt to have the fragrance added to massage oils, lotions and creams, and even home and linen mists. tijon.com 

ST. LUCIA

Soak up the benefits of a detoxifying mud bath in Soufrière, St Lucia with a trip to the Sulphur Springs. Located at the site of a dormant volcano that last erupted in the 1700s, the mud baths are a popular tourist attraction thanks to the varying health benefits the mud provides. Said to alleviate a range of skin conditions including sun burns, eczema, arthritis, sore joints, and more, the sulphur springs are also conveniently located at the only drive-in volcano in the world! After visitors are finished soaking, they can wash off and enjoy a refreshing rainforest bath and a visit to a 15-metre tall waterfall. sulphurspringstlucia.com 

ST. KITTS & NEVIS

Taking place from June 23 to June 25, the St. Kitts Music Festival is back after a brief hiatus last year due to the pandemic. This year marks the 25th annual version of the event. Over the course of three days, a talented list of international and regional acts including Ashanti, Sean Paul and Keyshia Cole are all set to take the stage. In addition to the music, festival-goers can enjoy plenty of activities like beach parties, boat rides, and unforgettable afterparties. 

Stkittsmusicfestival.com




Scotland is getting ready to host the world’s oldest golf tournament

In a few weeks, St Andrews hosts the 150th Open, the oldest golf tournament in the world and part of an unprecedented run of major golf events in Scotland this summer.

No other venue has hosted more Opens than the Old Course and Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods are just some of the famous faces that have crossed the Swilcan Bridge on the way to clinching the Claret Jug in front of the Royal & Ancient Clubhouse, landmarks as iconic to golf fans as the players themselves.

Golf is one of Scotland’s major selling points to tens of millions of golfers around the globe. Written records of golf being played in Scotland date back to the Middle Ages and the country has some of the oldest golf courses in the world.

Scotland hosted the first Open Championship in 1860 at Prestwick and has hosted around two-thirds of the 149 Opens since, providing half of the current Open venues in operation. The Open returns to Scotland for the first time since 2018 and it’s always an extra special occasion when it is hosted where the game began.

A couple crossing the famous Swilcan Bridge on the Old Course, St Andrews, Fife.

A record-breaking 290,000 people will spectate over the course of the Open week, millions more will watch the coverage and follow the action on television and online giving St Andrews, Fife and Scotland unprecedented exposure. Visit Scotland invests more than £3 million annually to support golf events and to market Scotland globally as the Home of Golf. Colleagues are using the 150th Open and the major golf events this summer as opportunities to promote Scotland as a destination with key publications representing North America and Europe exploring what our regions have to offer. 

The Genesis Scottish Open takes its revered slot in the week prior to The Open – a date secured by VisitScotland and The Scottish Government as part of a new long-term commitment to the event. The event is co-sanctioned for the first time by the DP World Tour and PGA Tour of America, guaranteeing the field is among the strongest ever – to date 7 of the Top 10 male players in the world will tee it up at The Renaissance Club in East Lothian.

Following The Open, legends of the men’s game will tee it up at Gleneagles for the first time, as the King’s Course hosts the fifth Major Championship on the Champions Tour schedule, as The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex returns to Scotland for the first time since 2018.

Scotland continues to lead the way in its investment into women’s golf events, supporting the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire in late July while the AIG Women’s Open will break new ground, hosted at Muirfield in August, East Lothian for the first time.

More than 100,000 spectators are expected to attend the events in addition to The Open, with each event having its own unique message and positioning. These golf tournaments provide the perfect stage to showcase Scotland’s first-class golf regions and courses to the world as well as the wider scenery, attractions and our warm welcome.

Golf brings hundreds of thousands of visitors every year from all over the UK and Ireland, USA, Germany and Scandinavia to test themselves at some of these iconic venues they have seen as spectators and on TV. 

Overall, it is estimated that golf tourism is worth £286m to Scotland annually, supporting around 4,400 jobs. As well as the tourism boost, the health and well-being aspect of golf was brought into sharp focus during the pandemic as one of the first activities to reopen after lockdown providing exercise and social interaction. Visit Scotland’s insights indicate that visitors are now prioritizing those pursuits that boost mental and physical health.

To find out more about making the most of visiting Scotland for golf events this summer go to www.visitscotland.com/see-do/active/golf/tournaments/the-open/.

Three of the best places to go hiking in Antigua and Barbuda

There are endless reasons visiting the Caribbean sister islands of Antigua and Barbuda should top your bucket list. The profound natural beauty of this destination is as good a reason as any: with its numerous white-sand beaches, lush rainforests, and warm tropical waters, it is easy to fall in love with the outdoors of Antigua and Barbuda. 
 
Of course, visiting Antigua and Barbuda is the ideal location for some R&R on the beach…but who’s to say relaxation can’t take the form of a scenic hike? After all, being in nature is known to reduce stress! Whether you’re looking for a casual stroll or something more challenging, Antigua and Barbuda has the perfect trail for you!
 

Wallings Nature Reserve

 
Wallings Nature Reserve is more than just a beautiful hiking spot. This storied reserve is a community-managed National Park that focuses on sustainability while protecting Antigua’s biodiversity. Wallings Nature Reserve consists of roughly 1,680 acres of rainforest in the Shekerley Mountains with many walking trails intertwined throughout the park. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or rarely go for walks, there is a trail for everyone at Wallings Nature Reserve. The abundance of plants and trees makes Wallings Nature Reserve an ideal destination for those looking to reconnect with nature. The trails throughout the reserve vary in distance, ranging from 30 minutes to 3 hours to complete. Whichever route you choose, make sure to take your time; you’d hate to walk by a mango tree and miss out on a mid-hike snack! 
 
Guests can book a guided tour at Wallings Nature Reserve on their website, and the cost of the tours varies depending on which guided hike you choose. There is a $6 USD entrance fee to access the park area of the reserve, or if you wish to use any of the hiking trails and park, the cost is $15 USD. If you give 48 hours of notice, Wallings can prepare lunch and a drink for guests.
 

Green Castle Hill National Park

 
Green Castle Hill National Park is known for spectacular scenic views and captivating rock formations jutting out from the slopes. Green Castle Hill is located next to the village of Jennings, on the west side of Antigua near its volcanic highlands. The hill’s highest point reaches 565 feet above sea level, making the trek up the hill slightly steep but nothing a beginner hiker can’t handle. The rock formations known as megaliths, which are found along the slopes, contribute to the popularity of this hike. Megaliths are prehistoric rock structures, and the ones located at Green Castle Hill are said to be set up by pre-Columbian tribes who likely used the stones for ceremonial purposes. So, if you want to simultaneously cross a history lesson and a hike off your vacation to-do list, this is the sport for you.
 

Mount Obama

 
If you want to take in some of the most incredible views and hike through what feels like a tropical rainforest, consider making the trek up Mount Obama; and yes, it is named after the former U.S president! Mount Obama, formerly Boggy Peak, is Antigua’s highest point offering panoramic views of the island and, on clear days, the neighbouring islands of St. Kitts and Montserrat. Although the hike is somewhat strenuous, the journey through a canopy of trees to reach a 360-degree view of the island is worth the sweat. Altogether, the hike is about 6.6km long and will take a few hours to go up and down. Completing the hike up Mount Obama is rewarding and you’ll deserve a relaxing drink at the beach when you’re done. Luckily, Turners Beach is only 20 minutes away making it a perfect spot to grab a bite and recharge.
 
Antigua and Barbuda offer many different trails that provide unbelievable views. Besides the three walking trails listed, there are many other remarkable destinations for walking and hiking. Any of Antigua and Barbuda’s national parks make for great adventures. So, rather than experiencing Antigua and Barbuda solely from the comfort of your resort, go out and explore the blissful creation the twin-island nation has to offer.

Bourbon, breweries and beyond in Louisville, Kentucky

Bourbon aficionados will clearly find Kentucky a spirit-ed place.

The state accounts for 95% of the production of the distinctively American spirit of bourbon, and is cheerfully promoting both the alcohol and bourbon-related tourism attractions to potential visitors.

“There’s so much culture around the bourbon heritage,” says Jessica Morgan of Louisville Tourism while citing her city’s Urban Bourbon Trail.

Bourbon distilleries fled Louisville for the countryside during the Prohibition era in the United States but have now returned in force, with 10 urban distilleries opening since 2013.

Louisville visitors can opt for Bourbon City Cruiser tours that use a tuk-tuk-style electric-powered vehicle operated by a tour guide who will take them to distilleries and cocktail bars.

North of Bourbon in turn enables people to dine in an oversized replica bourbon barrel, while bourbon-themed accommodations are available in the Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel Distil, B&B-style Chateau Bourbon, Louisville Marriott East and the Omni Hotel.

“The downtown area is thriving and vibrant and has really come back from Covid,” Morgan continues.

Morgan noted bourbon is used in many Kentucky food dishes. “We have a phrase — ‘Eat your bourbon.’”

Louisville also has a burgeoning craft beer scene, with the Brewgrass Trail — the name of which is a take on the state’s popular bluegrass music — linking 18 independent breweries.

Other downtown Louisville attractions include the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, home of the famous baseball bats, the Muhammad Ali Center, which tells of the boxing great, who was from Louisville, and a host of museums.

Tourism authorities also praise Louisville’s varied architectural styles, with Old Louisville being a registered historic district that has the largest collection of restored Victorian mansions in the United States. The district comprises more than 40 city blocks of Beaux Arts, Cateauesque, Italianate, Neclassical and Queen Anne-style homes.

Daytime Old Louisville walking tours are available, as are nightly ghost tours that describe why Old Louisville was once named “One of America’s Most Haunted” districts.

Gina Christ-Kohler of Meet Northern Kentucky notes Air Canada has restarted twice-daily Toronto-Cincinnati service, with the Cincinnati airport actually being found in Kentucky.

The Ohio-Kentucky border is defined in part by the production of alcohol, she says, adding area visitors will find “breweries on the Cincinnati side, distilleries on the Kentucky side.”

Kentucky marks the spot where the northern United States meets the southern United States, she continues.

Christ-Kohler, who hosted tourism industry staff at a Toronto Blue Jays game during a Toronto visit, adds that baseball fans will appreciate Cincinnati, home of the storied Cincinnati Reds.

Meanwhile, Anne Sabatino Hardy of Lexington visitors bureau visitLEX labels the Lexington area both the “horse capital of the world” and the “center of the thoroughbred culture” in the United States.

Visitors can go on guided tours of area horse farms while in a state that’s home to the famed Kentucky Derby.

Those visitors can also see retirement homes for race horses.

Officials also praised Kentucky’s natural side, noting it has 29 state parks and landscapes include caves, with Mammoth Cave National Park home to the longest known cave system in the world.

Some Kentucky caves can be explored by kayak or by paddle boards.

Angela Blank of the Kentucky Department of Tourism says tourists will enjoy Kentucky’s “incredible musical heritage.”

Feel like royalty on this luxury barge that offers private tours down the River Thames

European Waterways’ Magna Carta hotel barge, which cruises Britain’s River Thames, takes guests on daily, sometimes private tours to some of the opulent royal residences that feature prominently in the UK’s celebration of the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.

Along the way, they cruise in utmost comfort, dine on gastronomic meals prepared by their personal chef, drink the finest regional wines, and enjoy views of castles, lavish estates, and the rural beauty of the English countryside that are fit for dignitaries.

With cabins on the Magna Carta quickly selling out for the 2022 season, travellers can still book 2023 and beyond at current prices, which start at $5,190 per person, based on double occupancy. Whole-boat charters start at $38,200 and allow guests to indulge in interests such as antiquing, golf and tennis, as well as family activities.

Magna Carta’s interior.

Palaces and Castles

Among the numerous excursions on Magna Carta’s itinerary is a private tour of Hampton Court Palace. Guests visit some of Henry VIII’s apartments and the Palace’s haunted gallery, where rumor has it that his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, ran screaming to confront Henry VIII when she found that he had discovered her affair. Guests will visit the original Tudor kitchens, which are complete with a hearth that is still used to demonstrate how meat was cooked on a spit. They will also tour the wood-beamed Great Hall that dates to the sixteenth century, as well as the elegant, manicured grounds of the East-facing Privy Garden.

 Magna Carta guests can also enjoy a cruise to Windsor Castle, Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite residence. Built by William the Conqueror more than 900 years ago, it is the largest castle in the world that is still inhabited today.  Guests will be treated to a “Behind the Scenes” tour of the College of St. George and visit St. Georges Chapel, where the Royal Wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry was held. They will also enjoy breathtaking views of the 2.5 mile Long Walk which leads to the Castle. 

Windsor Castle

Depending on the itinerary, Magna Carta can also provide guests with a private tour of Dorney Court. This Tudor manor house has been owned by the Palmer family for more than 450 years. It has served as a filming location for well-known titles like “Poirot” and “The Other Boleyn Girl.”
 
The Magna Carta’s classic cruise includes an excursion to Cliveden Estate, which once belonged to George Villiers, 2nd Duke of Buckingham and a favorite of Charles II’s court. Cliveden was later also home to the American Astor family, during which it became a destination for high society, entertaining Prime Ministers like David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill.
 
“An all-inclusive European Waterways hotel barge cruise is the perfect way to celebrate your own jubilee or any other special occasion – or just to spend a week of pampering, gentle touring, and relaxation,” said Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways.  “Regardless of the cruise region you chose, you will always get the royal treatment!”
 

These are 5 of the best courses in the U.S. to play a round of golf

At long last, Canadians are back on the green. For those looking for a change of scenery, the U.S. is home to some of the best award-winning courses. These top golf destinations offer an ideal mix of pure golf, relaxation, and memorable dining experiences. With so many golf resorts to choose from, we rounded up some the of best that offer luxurious amenities, quality courses, and a variety of destinations.

Cape Code - Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club

Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club is a golfer’s paradise. As Cape Cod’s only Nicklaus Design golf course, the 18-hole Troon Privé course is carved out of breathtaking natural surroundings, offering tree-lined fairways, rolling topography, and dramatic elevation changes for players of all levels. With a mix of harrowing approaches and dizzying doglegs, the course features 7,011 yards of golf with a par of 72. Golfers of any level are invited to enjoy the property’s Stay & Play golf package, which includes complimentary rentals, bag storage, and unlimited same-day play. Green rates and room rates vary by season.

North Carolina - Pinehurst & The Sandhills

It’s said the Pinehurst area is the “Home of American Golf.” This resort is spread over an entire quaint village, it was the very first golf resort in the U.S, and is now the largest in the Western hemisphere, with a stunning nine eighteen-hole courses – and a new short course. Often called “America’s St. Andrews,” there is simply no place on earth, public or private, other than Scotland’s St. Andrews, that can lay claim to so much golf history. Its signature Number Two course is the only one on earth that has hosted two different Men’s Majors and the Ryder Cup, as well as Women’s Majors, the U.S. Amateur, the Tour Championship and basically every important event that ever changes venues – the U.S. Open is returning yet again in 2024.

One hotel was completely rebuilt, new restaurants and even a brewery were added, along with many other improvements. But for years the best kept secret here has been the Carolina Villas, freestanding units perfectly designed for a foursome (foursomes with spouses/partners) with eight beds in four bedrooms, all with private bath and separate entrances, plus a large central living area, immediately next to the flagship Carolina hotel with immediate access to all services.

Arizona - Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort

Settle into the comforts of home amid plush suites and amenities coupled with breathtaking mountain views of the Phoenix North Mountain Preserve. Enjoy a variety of dining options, The Falls Water Village with private cabanas and a waterslide, spa & salon services, Troon Golf and impressive event spaces. Conveniently located to all freeways, only 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix and 20 minutes from Sky Harbor International Airport and many other enticing attractions, Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort is the perfect place to choose as your home-away-from-home.

Missouri - Missouri Big Cedar Lodge 

Big Cedar Lodge in the Ozarks of Missouri (just outside Branson) is a spectacular outdoor sporting resort already had plenty of deluxe log cabins with large porches, luxury bathrooms and full kitchens, but in recent years has quietly grown to become one of the 20 largest golf resorts in North America by adding course after course by top designers including Coore & Crenshaw, Fazio, Nicklaus and most recently (this month), the only public course in the country designed by Tiger Woods.

The resort features a collection of lodges, cottages and cabins offering the perfect place to relax with family and friends after a day on the lake. Big Cedar is home to numerous world-class restaurants and attractions like a breathtaking spa, championship golf, an expansive shooting facility and a 50,000-square-foot activity center. Whether you are looking for an adventurous outing or a relaxing retreat, Big Cedar Lodge is your perfect getaway.

Puerto Rico - Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort

Calling all golf aficionados: if playing fantastic courses on an island paradise surrounded by stunning beaches and lush mountain views is on your bucket list, then your next round should be in Puerto Rico. 

A cornucopia of unique and complementary courses beckon from throughout the Island. Options abound, from luxury properties on the north coast near historic San Juan to an array of courses out west, down south, or on the east coast.

The Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort is the idyllic retreat for any occasion, whether you yearn for a Caribbean golf getaway, crave an oceanfront escape, or you and the one you love need a little time under the sun and stars, there’s no place like Puerto Rico.

Where to try the art of forest bathing healing in Peru

Forest bathing is a form of ecotherapy that emerged as a term in Japan in the 1980s. The physiological and psychological exercise has two purposes: to offer an eco-antidote to digital burnout and to inspire bathers to reconnect with and protect the country’s forests.

According to Expedia Group’s Sustainable Travel Study, 90% of global travellers (including those from Canada) are looking for more sustainable options when on vacation – and forest bathing is a great option.

To participate in forest bathing, travellers must choose a destination where their purpose is to effortlessly “commune with nature” and avoid external distractions – and the Peruvian jungle is the perfect place for just that.

Here are two locations within Peru ideal for forest bathing:

  1. Pacaya Samiria Reserve: With some of the richest biodiversity on the planet, the reserve offers glimpses of manatees, pink dolphins, monkeys, and a wide variety of birds, mammals, and fish. Visitors can also go canoeing or fish for piranha.

  2. Manu National Park: Established in 1973 and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, Manu National Park is home to over 15,000 species of plants, 1,000 species of birds, 1,300 species of butterflies, and a handful of species so exotic, they haven’t been named yet. The park also contains 14 distinctive ecosystems and can be divided into two sections: the mountains and the lowlands. Nature lovers will be excited by the possibility of seeing jaguars, pumas, tapirs, giant armadillos, a whole host of monkeys, spectacled bears, macaws, Andean condors, caimans, and maybe even anacondas.

To learn more about unique experiences to try in Peru, visit the official tourism website

5 exciting music festivals to attend this year in Montreal

Music is an integral part of Montréal’s culture, and the city’s spring/summer calendar offers a variety of exciting festival options for visitors to choose from.

Here are five exciting music festivals taking place this spring and summer!

  • Metro Metro (May 20 – 22): Montréal’s biggest urban musical festival hits the Parc Olympique Esplanade this May with a lineup that’s sure to be one to remember. Headlining acts include Lil Baby, Playboi Carti and Young Thug plus up and comers Don Toliver, Lil Pump and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. Local Québec artists include Loud, Naya Ali, Koriass, Fouki and 5Sang14.
  • Francos de Montréal (June 10 – 18): Showcasing French-language music heavyweights and fresh emerging talent, the top musical artists of the franco music scene will take over the Quartier des Spectacles in June with nearly 250 concerts, many of which are presented free at some fifteen outdoor and indoor venues. Spectators can enjoy hip-hop, rock, pop, folk, electronic music and everything in between at Francos de Montréal.
  • Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (June 30 – July 9): The 42nd edition of the world’s largest jazz festival will feature jazz greats like Ludovico Einaudi, Gregory Porter and Dominique Fils-Aimé, along with Quebec’s own wunderkind Jean Michel Blais.
  • Osheaga (July 29 – 31): Montréal’s major musical festival returns this year with a lineup that includes headliners like Foo Fighters, A$AP Rocky, Dua Lipa and the Arkells. Upcoming artists include London-based singer, rapper and songwriter Ashnikko, Montréal’s own DJ Bolarinho and Ireland’s rock band Inhaler.
  • Lasso Festival (August 12 – 13) The new Lasso country music festival hits Montréal in Jean Drapeau Park this August. Headline acts include American country music singer and songwriter Dierks Bentley, chart-topping country band Old Dominion, Georgia’s Luke Bryan and country-pop star Kelsea Ballerini.

For more fun things to do in Montreal this year, visit the official tourism website.