Travel Sommelier 2016 Preview
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A preview of our creme de la creme for 2016

I did something this year that you seldom get to do in the travel business: I traveled for sheer pleasure!  Granted, it was my Honeymoon but the bliss of avoiding one night hops between properties and the deep dive that site inspections require was refreshing…and meant the world to my wife! Is there a more romantic honeymoon than the Bushveld Safari & Beach combination? NO. These experiences and others have helped me compile our top picks & I’ve listed them by theme for 2016.

I encourage you to select one (or two) with a view to putting the gift of travel
under the Christmas tree this season
. Create priceless memories. 
We have had a 2 month hiatus from the Tipsy Traveler as we focus on redesigning our website (keep an eye o
ut for imminent launch date) and plan a national presentation the date NYC 11/19 to learn about the best hidden gems and ensure you travel like an insider.
In the meantime, travel often..and travel with us!

Best regards,
Destination for the Aspirational Traveler:
North Island, Seychelles

Henceforth I will judge all properties against the magical destination that is North Island, and given some of the places I have had the privilege of visiting, that is a huge statement. In equatorial Seychelles, this private island is a jewel that strikes the perfect balance between environmental conservation and unparalleled luxury. Referred to as Noah’s Ark on account of the multiple species of fauna and flora that are rebirthing there the island is home to giant tortoises whose eyes glimmer with glee when their necks are rubbed. There is no menu, there are merely ‘suggestions’ and the staff delights in being challenged to create the most extraordinary (or simple) menu. The standard wine list resembles the reserve list of any other establishment I have been to, but the real takeaway is the level of service. Services, surprises and delights are delivered to you when you don’t even know you need them, but on reflection they are exactly what you want.  Spending so much money has never felt so good. Two words: JUST GO.
The Romanticist and The Honeymooner:
Bushveld Safari & Beach combination

The prospect of a morning game drive in the heart of pristine wilderness viewing the BIG 5 followed by  a short hop to enjoy a fresh seafood lunch on a private beach seems dreamy…but is a reality. Combining South Africa’s Sabi Sands with Mozambique via a short one hour flight affords this unrivalled combination. You feel as though you are on two separate vacations back to back. We favor Rattrays, Boulders and Ivory Lodge for the most dense game viewing experience in Southern Africa. These lodges also take ‘Out of Africa’ style romance up a notch or two with private bushveld dinners under the stars and languid deep soaking tubs overlooking a river course. In Mozambique, on a bluff overlooking the Bazaruto archipelago, is Villa Santorini. ‘the Chapel’ has views over the ocean that are jaw dropping. The continental shelf is shallow and as the tides change, the mosaic of colors in the archipelago makes it difficult to tear yourself away from the pool, as do the private butler service and abundant seafood!
For a soulful and active wildlife experience:
Rwanda’s Gorillas

If there was ever a poster child experience to highlight the distinction between an arm chair traveler who has seen it on TV and read about it versus the intrepid traveler who has touched it and felt it in living technicolor, then a trip to see the Gorillas is it. You do not view Gorillas as much as you commune with them. Those deep, soulful eyes make for a mesmerizing experience…who is viewing who you ask?? There are several other primates in addition to this highlight AND the rainforest is alive with birdlife and other fauna and flora. Add to this the deep and meaningful cultural interaction in Rwanda and this trip that will leave an indelible mark on you in perpetuity. There are so many other dimensions - coffee plantations, forgiveness tourism centered around the genocide merely a generation ago and the pleasure of conversing with erudite and worldly Rwandans. We are guiding a trip in March 2016 for those who have an interest, using Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge as a base.
The Traveler looking to Recalibrate: Namibia
Nowhere on the African content do you feel closer to the earth. At the same time nowhere do you feel as though you are in such an other-worldly environment. The Namibian landscape exudes energy. The country is a photographer’s nirvana. Two destinations stand out and the flight in between them is a highlight in itself. The Namib Naukluft national park is home to the world’s oldest desert and the world’s highest sand dunes. Dune hiking and surfing, hot air ballooning and desert adapted 4x4 vehicles are among the myriad of ways to explore this living desert. The night sky is so vivid that the milky way seems a mere outstretched hand away. Further north lies the Skeleton coast, one of the most desolate, remote and arid spots on the globe. Desert Lions, desert adapted elephant and vast seal colonies are among the wildlife attractions. But the ethereal scenery is what draws intrepid travelers and ensures they leave with a heavy heart. Little Kulala  lodge and Skeleton Coast camp
The wine and food lover with a desire
to see the Marine BIG 5: Grootbos

At the southernmost tip of the African continent lies a windswept nature preserve that is home to a 1000yr+ old Milkwood forest and more plant kingdom species than can be found on the entire European continent. Grootbos is ground zero for nature lovers. It’s renowned ‘flower safari’ will captivate the most sanguine of guests. Add shark cage diving, whale watching and extensive hiking to the mix and it becomes a great foil to the hustle and bustle of Cape Town. The lodge is at the heart of one of South Africa’s cutting edge wine regions and the surrounding valleys produce cult Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chenin Blanc. The resident sommelier is expert at curating winery visits and arranging in-lodge wine and food pairing dinners. There opportunity also exists to get an immersive and authentic look at meaningful social and conservation upliftment programs that the lodge manages. The challenge is to get to Grootbos before it becomes fully discovered…
For more information on any of the items above or other travel requests please contact:
Travel Sommelier 
+1 203 286 8338
Darren Humphreys
Copyright © 2015 Travel Sommelier, All rights reserved.

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