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FromDC Dec 11th, 2015 02:07 AM

AWESOME first trip to Australia and New Zealand
Australia /New Zealand

Thanks to Fodorites’ great trip reports and helpful comments on my planning posts, DH and I had an AWESOME trip to Australia and New Zealand for 5 ½ weeks from mid October to late November. I will post this TR in different segments so that no single part is too long to read. But first, here’s the itinerary, not a “typical” first trip, especially for Australia, but these were the places that I found most appealing in doing my research.

By way of quick introduction, we are a "just beyond middle age" couple (can't use the word "old" yet, we're 67 and 72), who travel more slowly than we used to. We don’t normally schedule as many “one-nighters” but since we would be having our own car everywhere except Sydney, we thought a few would be OK, especially in some of the smaller places and when there were short distances between stops. For this trip, we had a mix of hotels, lodges and B&Bs, ranging from mid-level to high-end. When selecting a place to stay, I would usually focus on whether the accommodation has a nice view since we do spend time relaxing and resting.

Oct 15: arrive Darwin
Oct 16& 17: Mary River Wetlands and Kakadu
Oct 18: overnight in Darwin
Oct 19-21: Daintree
Oct 22: Atherton Tablelands area
Oct 23: Cairns
Oct 24-Nov 1: Tasmania (1 night outside Launceston, 2 nights Cradle Mountain, 3 nights Freycinet Peninsula, 1 night Port Arthur, 2 nights Hobart)
Nov 2-6: Sydney

New Zealand
Nov 7-9: Glenorchy
Nov 10-11: Lake Moeraki
Nov 12: Hokitika
Nov 13-14: Arthurs Pass
Nov 15: Kaikoura
Nov 16-17: Blenheim
Nov 18: Tongariro
Nov 19-21: Rotorua environs
Nov 22: flight back

The Trip
I was able to secure business class FF award seats 11 months in advance, first for the outbound, then 6 weeks later for the return. Our first flight on American from DC to Los Angeles left on time and we landed a little early. After a few hours in the Qantas Lounge, we boarded our flight to Brisbane. It was 3am for us, so we skipped supper and slept very well for about 8 hours on the comfy lie flat seats, wearing cute Qantas PJs. Unfortunately, when we arrived in Brisbane, the jet way would not connect to the plane. This was the third time this has happened to us in the last year and it has always delayed our disembarking by about an hour. With long lines at immigration, we missed our connection to Darwin. While we were in the queue, there was lots of grumbling around us about the slow moving, long lines. The re-checkin process was more confusing at Brisbane than at other airports we've been to, but we now had a long wait between flights, so it didn't matter. But with a tight connection, you've got to know your way around. There was a shuttle bus to take us to the domestic terminal.

We were put on the next flight so we had almost 3 hours to spare and used the time to buy a SIM card for our old, unlocked iPhone. Not sure if this is always the case, but the Vodaphone agent told us there was a special promotion going on and we got a pocket Wi-Fi and a second SIM card for the other iPhone for no extra charge. It turned out the pocket Wi-Fi was something we used quite a lot and it will also come in handy for all of our travels.

We finally boarded the last leg to our first. Flying from Brisbane to Darwin, which took 4 hours, reinforced our understanding of how great the remote areas of Australia are, thousands of miles of red outback and bush.

tripplanner001 Dec 11th, 2015 04:21 AM

Looking forward to following along.

FromDC Dec 11th, 2015 09:24 AM

First Stop: DARWIN and environs

Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territories, and a relatively small city of 150,000. It is quite close to Indonesia and our trip would probably have taken less time if we'd flown to Bali and then to Darwin! It is a tropical place and reminded us of the smaller cities we visited in Malaysia in climate and topography. However the buildings are all quite new, as most of the city was destroyed in a cyclone several decades ago.

First impression: Hot. We arrived during the "build up" when the heat and humidity increase in anticipation of "the wet". A taxi took us to the Doubletree by Hilton on the Esplanade and we had a room on the 9th floor with a grand view of the water. We took a little walk around the area, trying to find the waterfront precinct. It was still very hot at 4:30 and we realized that the wharfs were not as close as we thought (I was still experimenting with the portable Wi-Fi, Google maps and the phone), so we turned back. Along the way, there was a plaque describing the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese on February 19, 1942, only a couple of months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This was the first of several similar monuments we saw during our brief stay. We also saw lots of advertisements for WWII tours and there is a museum devoted to the defense of Darwin. We were wandering around the Parliament area and were pretty shocked at how quiet it was, almost no cars or other street traffic. After a nice dinner at Hanuman, only a 5 minute walk from our hotel, we crashed until around 7am the next morning.

On Friday morning (Oct 16), we walked a few blocks to the Budget Car rental office, picked up a nice RAV4, and began our drive to Wildman Wilderness Lodge for 2 days in the outback. DH did a great job driving, getting used to the right hand drive vehicle (we are used to driving on the left because we live almost half a year in the British West Indies - - which also explains why our itinerary didn’t include any beach time). Luckily the roads are uncrowded and we had a nice trip on the Arnhem Highway. I was excited to see the mango groves, not realizing that we would be there at the height of mango season. Although the facilities on the road are few, we saw a sign for a place called the Purple Mango cafe, down a road off the highway. It was close to lunchtime, the name called to me, and we turned at the sign. What good luck! A small restaurant in the middle of the bush, only open since March, I asked for a sliced mango as soon as we walked in and got an enormous plate full of really delicious fruit. Since there is a wood fired pizza oven there, we decided to order one with Gorgonzola and speck. Yum. We had our first flat white to top off the meal and we were back on our way. After another hour or so, we turned onto the Stuart Point Road, then onto the unsealed road to Wildman Wilderness Lodge.

This small resort has around 15 tented rooms and 10 "Habitat" permanent structures with a/c. There is a small swimming pool and lodge area with dining room and bar. We were in Habitat 9, with a nice porch where we could sit and watch the wildlife right in front of us, lots of birds and wallabies. It was just the place for us to relax after the combination of jet lag, driving and heat. We sat by the pool and watched the birds, walked to the billabong for a look at the ducks, watched the sunset on our porch with a glass of Australian (non oaked) Chardonnay, feeling that this was just the right place to come. We decided to have a drink before dinner around the fire pit outside the bar area, then sat down to a really delicious dinner: fresh arugula and beet salad, prawn cocktail, crispy skin barramundi, lamb rump, apple strudel and tiramisu for dessert. It was also our first encounter with many young Americans who are working in Australia in the hospitality sector on work/visit visas. The first person behind the bar was from Minnesota and his partner from North Dakota. Apparently it is difficult to get Australians to work these jobs, but they are perfect for 20-somethings who want a year of travel and adventure. Most people we talked to had only been working wherever they were for a couple of weeks (not just at Wildman, but most places we went). We could barely keep our eyes open by the end of dinner and were asleep within 5 minutes of getting back to our room (which had no door locks and no safe, which initially bothered me but not for long).

After a quick breakfast the next morning, we met our guide, Brad, for our daylong tour of Kakadu National Park, a World Heritage Site. During the 2 hour drive to our first stop, Brad described various aspects of Aborigine life and culture, and we learned quite a bit about the weather patterns, flora and fauna. For example, during the current period, there is quite a bit of controlled burning to stave off wildfires. The area is home to an enormous variety of birds, insects and plants. Some grasses grow to a height of 5 meters during the wet season, in exactly the same spots where we saw no vegetation at all.

We arrived at Ubirr, which has some of the best examples of Aborigine art "in place". Most of the art sites are off limits to tourists but we saw the 3 that are open. The rock paintings were still vibrant red orange colors after long years of exposure. After the "galleries" we climbed the rocks to get a fabulous view of the surrounding area. By then it was over 100 degrees with little shade and we were really feeling the heat. After a quick picnic lunch, we made a few other stops (about a dozen crocodiles on one of the river tributaries), and our favorite at the Mulalaki observation area where we saw thousands of birds on the wetlands. Because we are at the end of the dry season, the birds come to this particular area, which is rich in food for them, especially the geese. Arriving back at the lodge after 4, we were exhausted but thrilled to have had the experience of visiting this relatively remote area with an excellent guide.

We had a leisurely drive back to Darwin the next morning, stopping at "Mistake Billabong" for a walk to the observation platform to see more birds, staying just until the flies started to buzz as the temperature rose. Checking back into the Doubletree hotel, we needed some rest time and knew that we couldn't go back and wander around Darwin when it was 95 degrees. Just before 5pm, when it was beginning to cool down, we drove to the Stokes Hill wharf area to have a look around, then made our way to Mindil Beach for the famous sunset markets (held only on Thursdays and Sunday's until the end of October). It was great fun, probably 100 stalls set up selling food, clothing and souvenirs. We grazed on some delicious food-fresh mango, fresh oysters, spring rolls, laksa and banana crepes. We weren't smart enough to buy wine or beer in advance - sale but not consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited- but all the locals do BYOB. Finally it was time for the sunset and hundreds or people moved to the sand to watch the spectacular sunset. What a fitting ending to our time in Darwin. We are really happy about our decision to start our trip at the Top End and get a glimpse of this interesting part of the world.

annhig Dec 11th, 2015 10:20 AM

I'm tagging along here too - we did a 5 week trip to Aus and NZ a couple of years ago and i'm already seeing that you did a lot of things that we didn't do so it'll be interesting to read about your experiences.

Bokhara2 Dec 11th, 2015 10:29 AM

Thanks FromDC, I've enjoyed your first days - looking forward to the next chapter.

Wildman Wilderness Lodge looks interesting.

Melnq8 Dec 11th, 2015 11:21 AM

Along for the ride FromDC and looking forward to more!

aprillilacs Dec 11th, 2015 12:19 PM

Great start! We visited Darwin, the Kakadu, and Litchfield in May about 10 years ago. Your report is going to bring back nice memories. Looking forward to more.

FromDC Dec 11th, 2015 12:48 PM

There is a brief story behind how we ended up at WWL. I knew we would only have 3 full days in Darwin (although i was browsing award seats on a daily basis to see if we could arrive a few days earlier, no luck). Originally, I thought we would do day trips, one to Litchfield and one to Mary River Wetlands. But a few months before our trip, DH had a really bad flare up of Achilles tendinitis which did not clear up before we left, so I knew we would not be able to hike in Litchfield. I began looking into a couple of nights in the Kakadu area. WWL was more the type of place we like, but I thought it was too expensive, especially given some of the reviews on TA. But about 3 weeks before we left, there was a flash sale on their website, a big discount on the half board and room rate. So I grabbed it. We ended up really liking it, the ownership recently changed so I think the service issues some reviewers were complaining about were dealt with. I rarely wait so long to book accommodations but in this case, it worked out well and we were very happy there.

FromDC Dec 11th, 2015 01:19 PM

Part two for Australia began with a 7:20am flight on small plane on Air North (such a small airline that Hertz didn't have it on the list of airlines to indicate incoming flight arrivals) that stopped at Gove on the way to Cairns. Gove? There’s a little airfield in East Arnhem land with nothing there that we could determine. Upon arrival in Cairns, Hertz gave us an upgrade to a very large SUV, which turned out to be a mixed blessing. We loved the safety and power (which we needed to manage the very steep hill to our next lodging) but it was large for the narrow roads. And on the way to our next stop, the roads were very winding as we drove along the coastal highway north towards Daintree.

We couldn't miss the Great Barrier Reef on a trip to Australia but didn't want a whole lot of beach time, so we found a great solution: the Daintree/Cape Tribulation area, the only place in the world where two World Heritage sites meet -Reef and Rainforest side by side. Everyone knows about the Great Barrier Reef in Australia but the Daintree Rainforest is not well known at all. It happens to be the oldest rainforest in the world and is actually the only remaining area that exists as it did 300 million years ago before the supercontinent of Gondwana broke apart into what is now most of the land masses of the Southern Hemisphere (at least according to one of our guides). So this is a pretty remarkable place.

As we drove towards the Daintree River crossing, the views towards the sea were magnificent. After driving for almost 2 hours, we reached the the cable ferry that takes cars across, then another hour until we reached our accommodation for the next three nights, the Cockatoo Hill Retreat. Well, we almost reached it when we got to the mile maker on the side of the road, but then we had the steepest quarter mile drive up a dirt road that we've ever experienced, we probably would not have made it up without the SUV. At the top of the hill were 4 small cottages built in Balinese style overlooking the mountains and the sea, simply stunning. We were warmly greeted by Carmen, the owner, born in Provence but lived all over the world until she and her (now deceased) husband built this lovely place about 15 years ago.

The area north of the Daintree River ferry is quite remote from other tourist facilities in North Queensland, no cell service, no internet and no electricity. That's right, the government, in trying to protect the rainforest, forced all facilities off the grid, so power is by solar or hydro or a generator. Consequently, there are very few tourist facilities and they are all quite small. Exhausted from our early flight and long drive, we had a quick dinner at the closest cafe (up and down that hill again) and were asleep by 7:30pm.

Tuesday morning was our exciting adventure on the Great Barrier Reef. Part of the plan for this part of the trip was that we could take a SMALL boat to a less crowded part of the reef. Ocean Safaris runs the only boat from this northern area, with only 20 passengers. The boat leaves from a beach area, about a 7 minute walk from their office on the main road. I was really happy that they provided prescription snorkeling masks, it made a huge difference. We were definitely the oldest people on board but we weren't the first ones back to the boat after the snorkeling. We were taken to two different spots, the coral especially was incredible. If there is any place I'd really like to return to fairly soon, it would be the GBR, before it becomes too difficult for us to swim, as I found the water to be a bit choppier than I expected, we were told that it had rained the past three days.

When we returned to the beach, we waded to shore and took our time walking on the beach back to the car in order to savor the gorgeous surroundings. After lunch at a cute local place, we drove about 10 miles towards a deep rainforest boardwalk that Carmen especially recommended we see. Just as we were getting there, a couple of cars were stopped on one of the curves in the road, also in the opposite direction, with everyone out of their cars, cameras in hand. It was to be our lucky day-a daddy cassowary was crossing the road with 3 chicks. Cassowary sightings are very rare as they are an endangered species The large bird is quite elusive and there is a great story behind them. They are the second heaviest and third largest bird in the world, and the Southern Cassowary is now found only in this area. They have a gorgeous head of bright blue, large eyes and an imperial strut. The dads take care of the chicks until they are able to function on their own. But the cassowaries are considered a keystone species and have an important role in maintaining the rainforest. They eat enormous amounts of fruit, which then passes through their digestive systems with the seeds still in tact. As they wander through the forest, they pass through the seeds in huge piles of their "waste" which eventually turns into new vegetation. The birds walk hunched over but when they are upright, they are a bit taller than I am. I was able to get some great photos until they crossed the road into the forest again.

After our Boardwalk, we went to the local ice creamery and had a delicious gelato called Daintree Mix with lemon myrtle, ginger, coconut and some other tropical flavors. We got back to Cockatoo Retreat in time for an hour at the lovely pool (which reminded us so much of the one in the villa we rented in Bali), then cheese, crackers and a nice bottle of wine on our balcony was all we needed for dinner.

The next morning, we drove to another spot in the rainforest at Cooper Creek for a 4 hour wilderness hike (DH’s Achilles was getting better). A small group of us (there we're 9) were taken around by one of the owners of the property. What is significant about the area, besides it being withinin the oldest rainforest in the world, is that it is also the only privately owned World Heritage Site. We obviously had an incredibly knowledgeable person guiding us and we heard some fascinating stories involving the Aborigine's uses of the forest, not only the history and dynamics of the rainforest but also about the unintended consequences of government regulation. Damn bureaucrats everywhere!! It was a pretty exhausting hike for us to the base of the mountain on the slippery rainforest floor, walking over ancient exposed tree roots, etc., but worth the experience. One of the more interesting stories we heard was how pythons seem to “know” when there is a newborn human baby in a house. Apparently they stalk the area, trying to slither in and snatch them so people in the area are especially vigilant when they deliver at home.

The next morning we drove south and west to the Mossman Gorge on our way to meet Del Richards, the ornithologist would be our guide for the next two days. When we arrived in Julatten at Friendsnfeathers cottage, the owners Fred and Jeanette asked if they could come along with us during our afternoon walk and we were happy to say yes. Fred and Jeanette are in their early 70s and retired in Julatten on a magnificent property that used to be a nursery. They remodeled one of the buildings into a cute rental cottage, which is surrounded by great trees, plantings, and wildlife. We had dinner with them that evening at the local tavern, it was great fun to spend time with them and hope to stay in touch.

Our excursions with Del were great, he is a wonderful guide. We saw dozens of endemic bird species, including one that stands on one foot and scratches the ground horizontally with the other, and heard the calls and songs of so many others. We saw a rare green possum curled up on a tree and visited a family of kangaroos on a golf course. Driving through the Atherton Tablelands the next day, we saw miles and miles of farms growing all kinds of fruit trees, coffee, sugar cane, corn, blueberries, etc. The most amazing variety of farming we have ever seen.

We finished our tours with Del and drove to Cairns, checking into a lovely room with a view over the marina at the Shangri-La Hotel and had an evening stroll on the Esplanade. Because we were on the Executive Level floor, we ate dinner in the lounge during their complimentary cocktail and hors d'oeuvre hour.

Our 5 days in the Daintree and Tablelands area were wonderful. It is a remarkable area with so much unique topography and history, visually beautiful in quite a variety of ways and with exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable people.

Bokhara2 Dec 11th, 2015 01:38 PM

This is fascinating! Thanks so much.

tripplanner001 Dec 11th, 2015 03:49 PM

Really enjoying your report, FromDC. Kakadu and FNQ are two parts of Australia that we haven't visited during our prior trips to Australia; someday! And aren't the mangoes just delicious? So much better than what we typically get here in the DC area.

northie Dec 11th, 2015 04:52 PM

Enjoying your tr - esp hearing my own country through the eyes of tourists esp about the top end.
It's been a poor mango season this year - son had much less on his tree than usual - My fav fruit .

aprillilacs Dec 11th, 2015 09:29 PM

I loved the Daintree too (sounds like we have similar interests)! We did our boat trip out to the reef from there on a very windy day--just under the wind limit for trips--and I was convinced the big zodiac we were on was going to flip. But the snorkel spots we visited when we finally got out there were unforgettable. Stayed in a cottage at the Exotic Fruit Farm--so great. Must go back!

FromDC Dec 12th, 2015 02:49 AM

Tasmania part one:

When I was little, Tasmania conjured up images of being at the end of the earth. I'm not sure I even knew that Tasmania was part of Australia until well into adulthood and I didn't envision it as a destination for our first trip to Australia. But when I began to do research for this trip, Tasmania seemed particularly appealing. It has great geographical diversity with stunning scenery and it seemed relatively easy to get around. With the sea always close by, it means great seafood and apparently it has terrific wine growing areas. It is also well known for its harsh penal colony, now turned into an important historic site. The more I read about it, the more days I kept adding to the stop and we ended up staying 9 nights.

Getting here from Cairns was an all day affair; we left our hotel at 7:30am, dropped off that car and went to the Jetstar check-in area. A Jetstar staff member helped us check our bags. I asked why the tag only noted Melbourne as we were going to Launceston. She explained that Jetstar is a “point to point” airline, which meant that we had to pick up our bags in Melbourne and check in again for Launceston. Had no idea about that. We had a long layover, I guess that’s part of the their flight scheduling. We finally landed at Launceston, picked up our car at Europcar (later to be subjected to the Europcar damage scam) and drove off. We arrived at Relbia Lodge outside Launceston at 6pm (we turned the clocks AHEAD one hour even though we were further west!) We got to the stunning cottage and were immediately sorry we hadn't booked 2 nights. The lodge, consisting of two, two-bedroom apartments (we only used one bedroom in one apartment and the other one was vacant) and abuts a pond. The interior is sleek and sophisticated, and won an architectural award for the best renovation in 2013. We got a warm greeting from the owner, Phil, and enjoyed chatting with him. We settled in and got ready for dinner. Months in advance, I made a dinner reservation at the Josef Chromy winery next door - it only serves dinner on weekends - and that was a great decision, we had an outstanding meal that included a dozen fresh oysters from the east coast of Tasmania, some of the best we ever had. To accompany our lamb and smoked trout dinners, we enjoyed a bottle of rose from the winery, very dry and perfect with our meal.

In the morning we started off for Cradle Mountain in the northwest part of Tasmania, first with a stop at the nearby Evandale Sunday Market. It was mostly a flea market but with some local food. Because our next accommodation was a self-catering cottage, we picked up fresh eggs, salad makings, meat pies, breakfast pastries and a few other goodies, which turned out to be really delicious. The two-hour, windy drive turned into 4 hours as we drove slowly and stopped at the small town of Sheffield for lunch and a walk. Sheffield is known as the "mural town" because there are around 40 large murals painted on buildings scattered around the town, depicting the town’s history. It was a gorgeous drive most of the way, with rolling green hills and farmland. We arrived at Cradle Mountain Highlander Cottages and checked into our little cabin, "Myrtle". By now it was almost 4pm and starting to drizzle so we decided to just stay put for the evening, built a fire, watched the pademelons (very small marsupials) and birds from our patio and relax.

The primary reason for coming to Cradle Mountain was to do one of the walks in the famous National Park (yet another World Heritage Site). We decided to do the Dove Lake Circuit, which is the most famous (and most photographed), a 6-kilometer walk around Dove Lake with a good trail and a few moderately steep climbs. We drove through the park to the starting point and registered our walk (tourists are asked to do this in case of emergencies) beginning at around 8:45am and it was quite chilly (maybe 45 degrees), windy and cloudy. We were quite cold at the beginning of the walk but after 2 hours the sun came out and the last hour and a quarter were very pleasant. We saw beautiful alpine forests and some gorgeous views of the lake with the mountain peaks in the background, especially towards the end with the clear sky and bright sun. We were pretty wiped out by the end of the walk but it was most worthwhile. We had the trail mostly to ourselves. Towards the end of the circuit, there is a little shack that is highly photographed, lots of people in that area (and the weather was improving so I guess more people were coming out. We walked clockwise but others seemed to be starting counterclockwise). We also saw another couple midway through our walk, sitting on a bench at a view point and we took photos of each other (camera switch) so DH and I have a nice souvenir picture of the excursion.

After a quick lunch at the Cradle Mountain Visitors Center and a brief rest at the cottage, we went to one of the tourist center buildings for a look around. There was an interesting exhibit about a tragedy that occurred 50 years ago. A group of high school students and two of their teachers went on a multi day hike in late May 1965 near where we were that morning. One student and one teacher died when a sudden blizzard began and groups became separated. Money was raised and a hut was built commemorating the two who died. As we were reading about it, one of the Rangers came around to lock up the building. He told us that more than 100 people have died in the area since then and that about an hour after we began our walk that morning, a woman fell and had to be taken to the hospital. He also told us that we were very lucky with the weather- there is sunshine in the park only 63 days a year! After we left the building, we went on two short walks, one to a waterfall and another called "The Enchanted Walk". I think the name comes from the change in the terrain when you cross a stream, forest on one side and plains on the other. Both sides were quite lovely. We had dinner that night at Peppers Lodge, nothing special but expensive, however there is not much else around if you want to dine out.

We saw few live animals in the Cradle Mountain area. There were a couple of pademelons living near our cottage and they were frequent visitors. Most of the animals we saw were road kill and we saw LOTS of unfortunate creatures on the side of the road. DH drove very carefully through the twisting roads. It was more difficult to reach the area than we expected but our hike around Dove Lake made it worthwhile.

tripplanner001 Dec 12th, 2015 04:14 AM

Cradle Mountain sounds great and glad you were able to see it on a sunny day. It's high on my Tasmania list for next year.

annhig Dec 12th, 2015 05:48 AM

Cradle Mountain sounds great and glad you were able to see it on a sunny day. It's high on my Tasmania list for next year.>>

Tasmania itself is high on our list for our next trip to aus, tp - it sounds just like our sort of place and i suspect that the weather would make us feel at home too!

FromDC - the Tablelands are something that we had in common, and we did a guided trip too, but with a different guide who was also excellent. It is such a fascinating area and I'd love to go back and see it again one day.

tripplanner001 Dec 12th, 2015 05:56 AM

Ann, yes. We're looking at Sydney, Tasmania, and Melbourne for three weeks in December 2016 - January 2017. What is your timeframe?

annhig Dec 12th, 2015 06:32 AM

no trip really being thought about yet, TP, except possibly to co-incide with the Lions tour of NZ which is June/july 2017 - not a good time for Tasmania, but excellent [I think] for the "top end" Daintree, GBR, etc.

FromDC Dec 12th, 2015 06:47 AM

Ann and anyone else reading this: We tried two different guides who were booked before we found Del. Because he hadn't been mentioned on the forum, I wasn't sure how it would work out but we were very happy. He is currently on a trip with a guy who holds one of the world records in spotting bird species, so I think he is pretty highly regarded. Even though we are complete novices, he was great to work with. Del also helped us find accommodations in Julatten and we were more than pleased with Fred and Jeanette's place.

annhig Dec 12th, 2015 06:55 AM

Glad you found someone good, FromDC. it's always a risk with something like that, isn't it, and DH was quite sceptical that spending what was quite a lot of our holiday budget on a private tour would be worth it, but he had to eat his words! it's definitely something that we would do again, in a new area.

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