Great World Getaways: North America, Travel News

News and information from Travel Professionals

National Geographic picks Muskoka as #1

October 12, 2014

Folks in Ontario and at Tourism Ontario should be proud. In the National Geographic Traveler Magazine, Muskoka, Ontario was “handpicked” by National Geographic Traveler editors as their choice for the best summer travel destination for those looking for an “out-of-the-ordinary” summer vacation area.

So now that you know, you should contemplate a visit. By receiving this highly coveted recommendation by one of the most popular and respected travel publications in the world, the Muskoka region will receive well-deserved international exposure that will greatly benefit the area.

Muskoka is a beautiful Ontario resort area offering large clear lakes, majestic outcroppings of granite and towering pines. For visitors to the area, there is also much to do, with many interesting towns and villages, a wide variety of resort accommodations, visitor attractions and recreational and shopping opportunities.

The Muskoka region is located approximately 2 hours north of Toronto in central Ontario. An extremely popular cottage country destination, Muskoka has been attracting visitors from southern Ontario and the northern U.S. states for over one hundred years and is considered by many as Ontario premier resort area. Muskoka is well-known throughout Ontario and the border states where it has a tremendous reputation as a favourite lake country vacation destination.

With approximately twenty percent of the earth’s fresh water, an extensive web of interconnecting water routes, over 270 provincial parks and six national parks, Ontario is considered a vacation paradise. Landscapes contrast dramatically throughout the province. Certain areas, like the Muskokas, proclaim themselves as ‘cottage country’, but it is worth exploring many of the more secluded, unsullied regions as well.

For many decades now, people have sought out the scaled down lifestyle of “up north”. People head in droves to “cottage country” in search of hammock-swaying snoozes, exceptional air quality and outdoor pursuits. “Up north” to those who reside in Toronto usually means somewhere in the Muskokas between Barrie and Algonquin Park. In the Algonquin language, Muskoka translates to “the land of red earth”, describing the billion-year-old granite that blankets the region.

Situated just a 90-minute drive from Toronto, the region is comprised of the Georgian Bay on the west and Algonquin Park on the east and is encompassed by water interspersed with many small islands, making it Ontario’s premiere cottage destination.

Waterfalls, wildlife and towering pines are all characteristic of the Muskoka experience, but a variety of activities and attractions appeal to all interests.

A year-round destination, Muskoka offers a diversity of activities, attractions and events, including an abundance of antique shops, championship golf courses, a vibrant arts community, several historically significant attractions and much more. This area welcomes over one million visitors each year who come from across Ontario and indeed, many parts of the world, to experience this special area of Canada.

Lake Muskoka, Lake Joseph and Lake Rosseau comprise the Muskoka Lakes where canoeing, fishing, power boating, waterskiing and other water activities are popular. But, one must spend some time in a Muskoka chair – a high back, fanned wood chair with the large armrest to support a drink – listening to the loons or howling wolves while sipping a beverage of choice.

Muskoka’s documented history dates to 1615; however, it was known that the area was originally occupied by the Algonquin and Huron native tribes. Explorers such as Samuel de Champlain, who travelled from France in search of Northwest Passage to Asia, and several other missionary groups, passed through the area during these early years.

Around the turn of the 20th century, many elite society members began building summer homes in  areas in the Muskokas. In June, vacationers would arrive in Gravenhurst with their families and house staff, and stay until September. A steamboat departing from Gravenhurst brought them to their luxurious cottages, some of which, to this day, line the shores of Lake Muskoka. This collection of magnificent summer homes is still referred to as Millionaire’s Row. Resorts, lodges and other luxury accommodations were also constructed around this time, which continue to contribute to Muskoka’s prosperous tourism industry.

A fun, and picturesque, activity is to board the The Lady Muskoka, which is the region’s largest cruise ship. Based out of Bracebridge, cruises take visitors for a sightseeing adventure around Lake Muskoka, passing by such attractions as Millionaire’s Row, Santa’s Village and other local landmarks. Tours are operated between May and October.

Here’s a fact that perhaps you didn’t know. Bracebridge is located halfway between the equator and the North Pole on the 45th parallel, and is also where you will find Santa’s Village. This unique amusement park was built in 1955 with the vision that vacationers could enjoy the spirit of Christmas throughout the summer. Although Santa’s Village is only open during the summer season, it reopens in December just before Christmas for Santafest.

There is accommodation of every category and description in and around the Muskokas from rugged outdoor campsites to sophisticated world class resorts, to charming B&Bs and comfortable cottage resorts, hotels and motels. But here’s a tip … if you have a sense of adventure or a spirit of romance, take a wilderness canoe trip in Algonquin Park or other areas of the Muskokas. This very popular camping experience appeals to the young and young-at-heart and people return year-after-year.

Air Canada Launches Student Passes

September 20, 2014

Air Canada Announces Student Passes

Air Canada has introduced Student Pass. Students living away from home and who are registered in a Canadian or American institution are eligible for this handy travelling solution. Designed to fit a student’s frugal budget these travel passes are convenient and only available for a limited time so be sure to purchase yours before this offer ends on September 12th 2011.

Starting at $156* per credit, a 6-credit pass provides a student 6 one-way flight segments.

Perks of the Air Canada Student Passes include:

  •  Complimentary advanced seat selection
  • Accumulation of Aeroplan Miles
  • Convenience of online advanced flight bookings 24/7

These packages of 6 one-way flight credits come in a range of travel options within Canada and between Canada and the U.S.

Student Passes must be purchased by September 12, 2011, and can be used between August 15, 2011 and June 30, 2012.

Cruising Caribbean breaks records

September 18, 2014

The Caribbean maintains its position as the most popular cruise destination in the world, capturing more than 40 percent of all the passengers, despite the build up in the Mediterranean, South America and Australia.

Caribbean port authorities and tourism officials have taken up the challenge by upgrading their facilities and building new ports to accommodate the largest of the new ships.

Across the Caribbean, destinations are responding to industry growth with improved and expanded infrastructure, although as one port official told Cruise Industry News, “cruise lines must remember that they (the island) are not Dubai.”

And that may be happening. Barbados is in the final stages of a bid for the expansion and redevelopment of its cruise pier. There are also plans to build new piers in St. Kitts and Nevis, Curacao and Aruba. Other upgrades are underway in Guadeloupe, Martinique, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

2010 broke both cruise passenger records and overall tourist arrivals in the Caribbean. With more ships, the trend continues up as Cruise Industry News estimates a record-breaking 7.5 million passengers in the region for the calendar year 2011, up 1.4 percent from last year. The bulk of the cruise business in the Caribbean occurs during just four months, which also raises the level of competition (and congestion) among the islands.

You’re Welcome in Uganda

August 9, 2014

Photo credit: Dylan Walters

There has been a lot of information in the news lately about Uganda, but did you know that this little country was chosen by Lonely Planet as the number one destination for 2012?

Not only that, but the “Pearl of Africa” also received great recognition when they were recently chosen as 3rd Best Exhibitor (out of 180 countries) at the ITB-Berlin Convention (Billed the world’s leading travel trade show).

Boasting rich, cultural roots, and exotic wildlife, in addition to celebrations for the Golden Jubilee (50 years of independence), the country is expecting to attract somewhere around a minimum of 1.5 million visitors this year.

Ecologically, Uganda is where the East African savannah joins the West African jungle, and exists as the only safari destination whose range of forest primates is as impressive as its selection of antelopes, also boasting a diverse bird population of more than 1000 species.

From the lions stalking the plains to the chimpanzees swinging through the rainforest, adventure is in store. Everyone is welcome!

You can learn more about this culturally diverse country by reading our article here.

Cancun Underwater Museum a “Don’t Miss”

July 6, 2014

The newest and most spectacular addition to Cancun, the Underwater Sculpture Museum, is an under-sea sculpture gallery of more than 400 figures.

The monumental sculptural museum was established in the surrounding waters of Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc by British artist Jason DeCaires Taylor. The project has sparked great interest worldwide and will be an ongoing project for years to come.

Taylor offers a contemporary and cultural view of how the Mayan people have evolved throughout the years.

The snorkel tour begins with a high-powered speedboat ride to the “Silent Evolution” site off Isla Mujeres. You’ll then have 40 minutes of snorkel time to enjoy the museum’s sculptures and the marine life that will swim your way.

The main body of the museum is called “The Silent Evolution” and consists of 400 life-size figures molded in pH neutral clay. The main goal of the museum is preservation, so the clay promotes marine growth to form a complex structure inhabited and colonized by various forms of marine life. Eventually coral reef will form on each sculpture, making them change appearance over time.

The total museum installation occupies some 150 square metres and weighs over 120 tons, and will one day form an artificial ecosystem where various fish and marine mammals will thrive.

(Video via  National Geographic on YouTube)

5 Awe-Inspiring Attractions Not To Be Missed

June 30, 2014

Darvaza Gas Crater | Photo credit: Stefan Krasowski

Some of the earth’s most spectacular attractions draw visitors from miles around – think, the Grand Canyon or the La Brea Tar Pits. But the world is full of odd and awe-inspiring mysteries, whether natural or man made, that are less well known but equally intriguing!

Here we’ve compiled 5 of our favorite oddities that you truly have to see to believe! (more…)

Planning for Olympics no Game

May 7, 2014

Artist's rendering of proposed facilities for the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London

The London Olympic Games begin July 27, 2012, but now is the time to start planning your trip.

Demand and costs of tickets and accommodation is expected to be high. With some careful planning you can keep costs down. Opening and closing ceremony tickets start at US$32 and go up to US$3,200. Prices vary widely depending on the event – and, more importantly, at what stage you see the event.

You can find US$32 tickets to all sports events during their qualifying or preliminary rounds, but once the events progress to medal rounds, prices escalate. The least expensive seats to medal-round events range between US$48 and US$104 each, depending on the sport.

Ticket holders will receive free passes to London’s public transportation system, including the Tube and all buses, to use on the day of their ticketed Olympic event.

As for flight and accommodation costs, airlines don’t release plane ticket prices until about a year before the event. Hotel costs are easier to predict: Expensive. But you can consider staying outside of London. There are three means of securing tickets: You can book a travel package that includes tickets (But ensure you book a package with a travel agent to avoid scams), enter an official ticket lottery, or buy tickets from a broker (Not recommended).

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All content © 2014 Sarah Eaglesfield unless otherwise noted