By Judy Newell
Mexico Travel News
Playa Escondida to Close Temporarily
CONANP (Comisión Nacional de Aréas Naturales Protegidas) has ordered Playa Escondida to be temporarily off-limits to visitors for environmental restoration and maintenance. This temporary restriction will last at least two months and will provide vital conservation improvements to the conditions of the Islas Marietas, one of Rivera Nayarit’s natural wonders.
Islas Marietas will continue to be accessible by officially sanctioned tour operators and visitors can still enjoy snorkeling, kayaking, bird watching, and other activities in other locations. Islas Marietas are a cluster of islands rich with wildlife. A federally protected nature reserve and a UNESCO biosphere reserve, the islands were formed by volcanic activity and are home to thousands of birds.
The islands are also surrounded by first-class diving opportunities. Humpback whales, octopus, sea turtles, and colorful tropical fish await the divers and tourists who visit these islands.
The 20th Flower Carpet in Brussels
Every two years in August, a major event takes place in the Grand Place in Brussels as an ephemeral flower carpet is unveiled. Lined with 18th-century buildings, this majestic square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and seeing it covered in flowers is a sight to behold.
The first ever Flower Carpet was displayed in 1971 and this year’s will be the 20th. Assembled with 600,000 begonias and stretching 75 meters long and 25 meters wide, the carpet is a huge logistical feat; it requires two years of preparation work. Since the flowers need to stay fresh for the four-day event, 100 volunteers assemble the carpet just prior to the unveiling.
Taking place from August 12—15, the 2016 Flower Carpet is an homage to Japan, celebrating 150 years of Belgo-Japanese friendship. It will showcase the beauty of nature in the Japanese tradition with talismans like koi, bamboo, cherry blossoms, birds, the wind, and the moon.
Visitors can admire the flower carpet in detail at the ground level or enjoy a privileged birds-eye view from the balcony of the Brussels Town Hall.
Quark Expeditions to Attempt Historic Arctic Circumnavigation
This summer Quark Expeditions, a leader in polar expedition travel, attempts an historic crossing of the Kennedy Channel separating Greenland and Canada. The expedition takes place on the legendary Soviet icebreaker Kapitan Khlebnikov. If successful, this will be the first time a passenger vessel has completed the crossing.
The sailing is part of Quark’s epic 75-day Arctic Circumnavigation voyage, which commences on July 10 from Anchorage, Alaska, and returns there on September 23. The excursion has been separated into four itineraries. If combined, the itinerary will take passengers on a once-in-a-lifetime full circle around the top of the world.
Khlebnikov has 51 outside cabins and suites, all featuring large windows. Quark passengers also have access to a dining room, lounge, heated plunge pool, sauna, auditorium, and Polar Boutique during their voyage.
Epic Northeast Passage: The first leg of the voyage sails from Anchorage, Alaska, to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway through the fabled Northeast Passage. Departs July 10; sold out.
Extreme Greenland: The region may be nearly isolated, but herds of musk oxen make their home here. Shore landings will provide excellent hiking and photographic opportunities. Departs August 4; from US $23,495.
Best of the Canadian Arctic: Canada’s northern-most shores remain a relatively unknown region within the Arctic. The journey departs August 22; from US $19,795.
Ultimate Northwest Passage: Only the most powerful icebreakers can complete the journey through these ice-choked waters. Departs September 6; from US $20,695.
Through July 31, 2016, travelers can save 20 percent on select icebreaker voyages, including the Best of the Canadian High Arctic, Extreme Greenland, and the Ultimate Northwest Passage.
Words of the Wise and Well-traveled
“We live in a world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”—Jawaharlal Nehru
Deal of the Week
Cruise France from $2,499, Plus Up to Free International Air
You’ve only got five days to take advantage of this offer to experience unforgettable France on a Viking river cruise. The offer expires May 31, 2016.
These three unique itineraries offer you exceptional ways to get to know France. You can explore the famed region of Beaujolais and the Roman ruins of Provence Discover the grand architecture, tempting cafés, and superb museums of Paris and Prague. Or celebrate the French flair for living in the Bordeaux region, renowned for its wine and oysters, truffles and cognac
Lyon & Provence: 8 days, Avignon to Lyon; Jun, Jul & Aug 2016. Cruise from $2,400 per person with Free Air.
Cities of Light: 12 days, Paris to Prague; Jul & Aug 2016. Cruise from $3,499 per person
with Free Air.
Châteaux, Rivers & Wine: 8 days, Bordeaux to Saint-Émilion to Bordeaux; Jun, Jul & Aug 2016. Cruise from $2,499 per person with Free Air.
This offer is not available on Viking River Cruises web pages. Please call Perfect Journeys for details. Free air is from Boston, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington D.C. Departures from other cities available at an additional cost. Prices shown are per person.
Judy Newell, an international travel consultant for over 40 years, heads Perfect Journeys and specializes in unique travel experiences to destinations around the world. She designs journeys that are tailored to suit a client’s interests, abilities, and budget. Please contact Judy for reservations or further information on any Travel News topics; cell phone 415 111 8765; Vonage 949 300 3682; email email@example.com. Her office is in Rancho Los Labradores across from the entrance road to Atontonilco; hours Mon-Fri, 11am-4pm. View the latest travel specials on the website perfectjourneys.net.
Sources: CONANP, Luxury Travel Advisor, Quark Expeditions, Viking River Cruises