Set sail from the land of fire — cruising to Antarctica

The Antarctic Peninsula is a wonderland of rocky mountain peaks, skies that stretch for miles and glaciers that glow. Expeditions usually start from Argentina at a port called Ushuaia which is at the southern-most tip of South America. The trip can take anywhere from ten days to three weeks, port to port.

You’re best off venturing here around December and January – Antarctica’s warmest months – with the longer days offering fantastic wildlife watching and photo opportunities. Penguin chicks will be starting to hatch and the receding ice allows for more exploration. If whale watching is a passion then aim for a February-March visit, or November if you fancy seeing the seals.

The smaller cruises of 100 guests or fewer are best, as you’ll get a chance to go ashore each time you reach land. You’ll also learn as you sail because voyages generally include well-informed guides who give talks about Antarctica. Those who don’t fancy learning can instead don a dry suit and go for a dip in the icy waters.

Sleep under the northern lights

If you’re one for daydreams and flights of fancy, the Kakslauttanen Resort in Finland should be on your holiday destination list. This resort is well north of the Arctic Circle and its mesmerising glass igloos bring childhood fantasies to life and give you a front row seat to watch the Northern Lights.

Luxury levels can be boosted if you are prepared to pay, so you can have all the comforts of home or go for a more authentic, and colder, ice igloo. To witness the Northern Lights travel between 20 August through to late April, or to experience a land where the sun never sets, visit in the summer months between mid-May and early August. When, or if, you tire of the sky you can enjoy husky or reindeer sleigh rides, ice fishing and skiing.

Top spot for top cats

If you’re a cat person with time to spare, a visit to Big Cat Rescue in North Tampa, Florida, will be very satisfying and fulfilling. This not-for-profit sanctuary was set up in 1992 and around 80 exotic cats, including tigers, lions, leopards and cougars, are happy to call the park home after being rescued from abuse or abandonment.

The operation of the facility relies heavily on the involvement of active volunteers, who are keen to lend a hand with animal care, cleaning and feeding, while also having the experience of a lifetime by being able to form a connection with these amazing animals.
The introductory partnership training will teach you the ins and outs of being a tour guide and general admin tasks, before advancing to learn specific skills in your chosen area. For those who always wanted to be a lion tamer, you can be booked in for training at the Animal Husbandry Department.
By allowing you to get close to a big cat this holiday promises to be an unforgettable experience.

Hotels with a twist

1. Mardan Palace Hotel, Turkey
Take a dip in the largest swimming pool in the Mediterranean — there’s room for up to 1000 people.

2. Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, SA
One of the more remote places to escape to. This luxury lodge offers spectacular scenery,
delicious food and seclusion.

3. Attrap Reves, France
Hidden away in woodland, this hotel has one unique difference — each room is a giant bubble.
So you can enjoy your creature comforts, while also being at one with nature.

4. Atlantis Hotel, Dubai
Do you have love for the deep blue sea and are prepared to spend $8,000? If you do then a stay in an underwater suite at this hotel could be the place for you.

5. Jukkasjarvi Ice Hotel, Sweden
That’s right, a hotel made of ice. A visit to this luxurious, hand-carved accommodation will be an experience of a lifetime — just don’t forget your thermals!

If a big trip is something you think about but you’re worried you can’t afford it, speak to one of our financial advisers so they can make it a goal in your financial plan.

Click here to find an adviser near you.

Source: IOOF Marketing

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