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South African culture, history, and heritage in Durban

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Think of South Africa, and images of majestic savanna landscapes and roaming wildlife may come to mind. A South African safari is an unforgettable experience, but no visit to the country is truly complete without a cultural immersion. Luckily, the vibrant city of Durban combines the best of both worlds in the most stunning of settings. Located along the Indian Ocean coast just an hour from Johannesburg by air, Durban offers an eclectic array of activities where you can explore the city’s important role in world history, the rich heritage of its Zulu people, and innumerable natural wonders – from the beach to the bush.

Experience authentic Zulu culture in the Valley of 1,000 Hills

Named for its dramatic surrounding landscape, the Valley of 1,000 Hills has been home to the Zulu people, South Africa’s largest ethnic group, for centuries.

Visitors can take an organized tour deep into tribal lands to experience Zulu culture with its exuberant ceremonies, traditional music, and dancing. You’ll learn about Zulu beliefs and healing practices, break bread with local families, and learn the hidden meanings behind their colorful beadwork. Those seeking a truly transformative experience can arrange one-on-one sessions with the village healer or spend the night with a Zulu family in their home. The natural scenery in the Valley of 1,000 Hills will take your breath away, and the welcoming nature of the Zulu people will stay in your heart forever.

Walk in the footsteps of Gandhi and Mandela

Not everyone is aware that Mahatma Ghandi’s life work was inspired by his experiences in Durban. In 1893, he arrived as a young lawyer, and the discrimination he witnessed personally and against his fellow Indians drove him to start his worldwide movement of passive resistance as he fought for the legal and civil rights of the Indian population. At the Phoenix Settlement, you will see Gandhi’s house and the printing press he used to publish his newspaper, The Indian Opinion. Many of the more than one million Indians living in the city make the pilgrimage to this important historical site alongside visitors from around the world.

Five years after his death, the great Nelson Mandela remains South Africa’s most revered public figure. 2018 marks a year-long celebration of his life and what would have been his 100th birthday on July 18. Honor his work when you’re in Durban by visiting the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, located at the exact spot where he began his “Long Walk to Freedom” after being arrested for anti-Apartheid activism in 1952. The focal point of the site is a striking monument, and an educational exhibition walks you through Mandela’s life and role in establishing a democratic South Africa.

Hit the beach at Umhlanga Rocks

To play amongst the ocean-loving locals, head to Umhlanga Rocks, Durban’s laidback beach village. Located on a picturesque stretch of the Indian Ocean, Umhlanga Rocks beckons visitors with a scenic promenade that passes by local landmarks including Umhlanga Lighthouse and Whale Bone Pier. A walkable downtown area makes dining and nightlife easily accessible from the area’s many upscale boutique hotels and guesthouses, and opportunities to get on the water abound – from surfing to deep sea fishing, scuba diving, whale watching, and kiteboarding.

Discover an underwater wonderland at Aliwal Shoal

Those intrigued by the underwater world can get their adrenaline pumping on Aliwal Shoal. Consistently rated one of the top warm water diving and snorkeling sites in the world, Aliwal Shoal is also the spot to get up close and personal with blacktip reef sharks. Those brave enough can swim or dive alongside these mysterious creatures in the open ocean, but viewing from inside a cage is always an option.

Witness stunning wildlife on a Big Five safari

Back on land, the South African bush is less than four hours away by car. A number of private game reserves offer high-end safari lodge accommodations, minimal crowds, and optimal chances for getting the perfect photos of the “Big Five” – elephants, rhinos, water buffalo, lions and leopards. In iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hippos, crocodiles, pelicans, and flamingos roam Lake St. Lucia, while elephants, giraffes, and leopards inhabit the adjacent grasslands.

Is Durban, South Africa calling you?

Visit www.durbanexperience.co.za to start planning your journey.

Destinations

Destination Langkawi: Beyond the Beaches

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With 550-million years of geological history and generations of mythical folklore, there is always something new for guests of Four Seasons Resort Langkawi to uncover on the island.

A paradise of panoramas, the Langkawi archipelago is an amalgam of mangroves and mountains, rainforests and rivers, wildlife and waterfalls, legends and local charm, tidal flats and coral reefs, cliffs and caves. Whether appreciated from the vantage point of a bike, kayak, boat, cable car, sky-bridge or simply on foot, the islands’ thrilling topography ensures a truly breathtaking backdrop for myriad magical and memorable encounters.

Water Worlds

Beyond the beaches, water sports and diving, Langkawi offers visitors rainforests, mangrove “sea forests,” cascading waterfalls, hidden lakes and glistening paddy fields to explore.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice.  The uninhabited islet of Pulau Langgun offers an exhilarating rainforest immersion and lush wilderness trek to the hidden sanctuary of Tasik Langgun, a large freshwater lake.  Build an appetite biking through paddy fields to Durian Perangin Waterfall – 14-tiers of clear cascading water – perfect for a refreshing dip and picnic.  Or visit the island’s tallest waterfall, Temurun (30 metres or 98 feet), for another scenic natural swimming pool.

A mangrove kayak get guests unobtrusively close to the magic and mystery of forests that straddle land and sea. Traverse small, dense tributaries and follow the natural ebb and flow of this fascinating ecosystem to uncover hidden delights behind each corner. Alternatively, take a coastal kayak along the emerald seascapes of Langkawi’s less explored eastern rim, and paddle through a 15 metre (49 foot) cave tunnel for an unforgettable swim in a salt-water lake.

Mineral and Mystical  

Steeped in geological heritage, Langkawi has some of the world’s oldest and most intriguing naturally formed gems.  Shaped by plate tectonics, volcanic activity, ocean submersion and erosion, Langkawi’s many rock formations have evolved over millennia into exciting natural habitats, many animated by fantastical folklores and legends.

Adrenalin seekers can heed the call of the ancient limestone cliffs for an afternoon of rock-climbing and abseiling within the Resort’s grounds. Just a short distance away, the Langkawi Sky Bridge – suspended 700 metres (2,300 feet) above sea level and accessed via the world’s steepest cable car – offers an up close experience of Malaysia’s oldest rocks (the Machinchang Formation), not to mention far-reaching views extending to southern Thailand.

Fuel for the imagination, Langkawi’s craggy coastline of hidden coves, sunken caves and majestic peaks is straight out of a fairytale and sets the scene for a magical adventure. The intriguing Gua Cerita (Cave of Legends) is the mythical home of a giant phoenix, a captive princess and a deadly giantess. Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Lady) was formed when a huge limestone cave collapsed, resulting in a figure resembling a pregnant woman lying on her back. Locals believe that the lake, famed for the legend of celestial princess Mambang Sari, possesses mystical powers.

Back at the Resort, Spa devotees will be entranced by the element-based offerings at the Geo Spa, where the ancient healing energies of the Geopark meet bespoke natural treatments by ila.

Wildlife and Local Life

A bird watcher’s paradise – the open rainforest corridor, mist-covered Gunung Raya peak, and local village ponds provide the opportunity for ornithologists to tick a fair few flying friends off their must see list. Langkawi is home to approximately 200 species including: flower peckers, hills mynas, dollar birds, sun birds, eagles, woodpeckers, lesser whistling-ducks, little egrets, Chinese pond herons, striated swallows and the largest of them all, the great hornbill, measuring in at 1.3 metres (more than 4 feet).

Animal lovers will not want to miss the mangrove boat safari into the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park and its maze of meandering mangroves for exciting up-close encounters with majestic eagles and kites, mischievous macaques, fish that walk (mudskippers), colourful fiddler crabs, shy otters and sleeping bats.

Cultural connoisseurs will be enthralled by the Malaysian book village of Kampung Buku and the bucolic beauty of stilted wooden houses in local villages. A visit to the fishermen’s village of Kuala Teriang enables visitors to quietly observe fisherfolk return with their day’s catch, or sample delicious deep-fried banana fritters with local milk tea at wooden roadside stalls. Back at the Resort, relish local spices and ingredients during a Malay-cuisine cooking class – available as both adult and child-size experiences.

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Destinations

Green Bay’s Titletown is a travel touchdown

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Some travel trends come and go, but others have staying power. Sports-themed travel is gaining momentum, and experts predict that it’s only going to get bigger. If you like the thrill of competition, the history of the game and the joy of being a fan, consider sports-themed destinations for your next vacation.

Location

A prime example of sports-themed travel is Green Bay, Wisconsin. Whether you are a Packers fan or a football fanatic, this distinctive area is ideal for couples or family getaways. The city’s new Titletown development offers travelers an array of sports-themed activities to explore, with something to tempt all of the senses.

A 45-acre development adjacent to Lambeau Field, Titletown boasts a variety of amenities, a brewery and an outdoor park experience with year-round programming. Check out a concert or start a pickup game of football on the artificial turf.

Accommodations

Located just yards from Lambeau Field, Lodge Kohler gives you a home field advantage in the heart of the action. The hotel design is rugged yet refined, and it commemorates the game with historic Biever family photos of the Green Bay Packers throughout the timeless brick building. You’ll find dining, a spa, pool and fitness center.

Attractions

The draw of Green Bay has been and always will be Lambeau Field — one of the most storied stadiums in the United States. At the Packers Hall of Fame in the Lambeau Field Atrium, visitors can discover interactive displays, guided tours and the seasonal Packers Training Camp.

Explore more of the sports team’s past on the Oneida Nation Walk of Legends or the Packers Heritage Trail, which pays homage to the buildings, businesses and people that have historical significance to the team. Team history abounds around every corner of Green Bay’s scenic urban trail and may be traveled by foot, Segway or trolley.

Celebrations

There’s even more worth celebrating over the next year in Green Bay: The Packers have spent a century on the gridiron. The 100 Seasons celebration will feature events in Titletown and throughout Green Bay, culminating with a 100th birthday party on Aug. 11, 2019.

Want more than football? Neighboring Lambeau Field, the Resch Center — home of the Green Bay Phoenix men’s college basketball team and USHL Green Bay Gamblers hockey team — offers year-round entertainment, as it hosts national touring artists and family entertainment on and off the ice.

Eats and sweets

Hunger will lead you to Lodge Kohler for memorable dining. Meet at Leaps & Bounds Cafe for a quaint breakfast, lunch or coffee perk-up. Revel in the sweeping views of the stadium from the outdoor terrace and panoramic windows at Taverne in the Sky, which features modern rotisserie cuisine for lunch and dinner. For dessert or a sweet treat, get a taste of Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates.

Learn more about crafting the perfect sports-themed travel experience at https://www.lodgekohler.com.

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Destinations

Langkawi: Mile-Long Beach Blessings and Other Shoreline Secrets

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When it comes to defining a great beach resort, some people rate looks and location, others service and style. For those who want it all, there’s Four Seasons Resort Langkawi.

The Resort spans its own vast swathe of Tanjung Rhu (meaning cape or promontory, and casuarina tree) – undoubtedly one of the finest beaches in Malaysia: remote, expansive and tree-fringed, with beckoning waters and views that stretch towards mainland Thailand.

A mile (1.6 kilometres) in length, the beach lends the Resort an endless sense of space and privacy. Forty-eight acres (20 hectares) of botanical gardens lie parallel to the sands – punctuated with 91 beach villas and pavilions that echo the awe-inspiring drama of the surrounding UNESCO Geopark.

Testament to the beach itself, the island’s best water sports facilities can be found on-site – including Malaysia’s first and only high-tech X-Jetblades.

Complimentary use of kayaks, windsurfs and catamarans makes the water accessible to all, while complimentary hourly beach amenities keep sun-seekers happy and hydrated.

The Olympic-length Adult Quiet Pool also lies parallel to the water. Its 8 walled cabanas offer privacy from adjacent couples and frame a view that’s entirely one’s own.

Three restaurants flank the beach, while the Rhu Bar offers optimum beachside sunset viewing and swinging seats for two to make the most of the experience.

At every turn, stunning spaces and hideaway places beneath trees and towering cliffs make picture-postcard backdrops for beach weddings and events.

Private dining is no less impressive: under a cabana on the sands or a beach barbecue with your own private che.

Kids’ Club and the four-in-one family pool (complete with waterfalls, lounge areas, jets and shallow pools) are just a hop, step and a jump from the sand – where young ones (and young at heart) can also play beach football and volleyball, or fly handmade Malaysian kites.

And last but by no means least, the beach is the gateway to a host of adrenalin-fuelled adventures. Wander through the rainforest at the northern tip of the beach to the Resort’s rock-climbing wall and archery range. Or cruise directly into the Kilim Karst Geoforest Park for a naturalist-led, National Geographic-style encounter with eagles, monitor lizards, walking fish and even elusive otters.

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