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Spending most of my time in Asia, it's hard to travel to other Asian countries and sometimes justify some of the costs such as transport, accommodation, food and also the actual activity/experience, and at the moment I'm finding it incredibly hard to pick my next choice destination of travel.
This month, some of our fabulous RAW guests took part in one of our jungle adventures in North Sumatra. Two of these guests were 11-year-old Luke Arnason from Western Australia and his mum Maree. They had been wanting to come along on a RAW tour for the last few years, and this year the timing was perfect. Like many RAW guests, Luke wanted to take part in eco-tourism that makes a tangible difference.
I love to travel and am a devoted fan of wildlife. Combining travel with being able to watch wildlife in its natural habitat doing what it naturally does, is my idea of living. However, with all the stories you hear floating around these days, it is hard to know which travel companies are helping and advocating for the animals they work with, and which ones are merely exploiting them.
In April this year, I led a group of nine guests on a seven day Sumatran Wildlife Fundraising Adventure. All my guests fund-raised to contribute to two of RAW’s community programmes – The Rangers of Tangkahan and Sumatran Dog Health Program. They got to witness directly where their money will be used, to help benefit the wildlife and people of the Leuser ecosystem. Here are the highlights of our awe-inspiring adventure.
The wildlife is amazing. The culture is so RAW and you really feel special, as you discover the beauty of the Karonese people. The rainforest is breathtaking, with so many hidden gems to explore. But my favourite location is our Rimba Lestari Ecolodge. This gives you the tranquility, peace, wildlife and rainforest environment for you, to enjoy your private getaway.
I've explored Asia many times, however one of my favourite places that I highly recommend to visit is Sri Lanka. It has everything that an adventure traveller will fall in love with.
The Rangers of Tangkahan is a new community conservation initiative in North Sumatra, the only one if its kind, that aims to provide long term protection of the Leuser ecosystem buffer zone environment. The Leuser ecosystem is one of the worlds’ richest, yet least known and threatened forest ecosystems and acts as a life support to around four million people who live in and around it.
Berastagi is a cool, lush, fertile highland area located in the province of North Sumatra. With stunning farmlands nestled at the foot of towering volcanoes, this area is as refreshing for the spirit as it is for the body, with a temperate climate providing a pleasant change from the suffocating heat of the nearby city of Medan.
No matter what age you are, travel can be life changing, eye opening, exciting, and engaging. As a family, it can bring you together like nothing else, and inspire passion and a sense of wonderment.
In January 2017, the Mount Gambier SA AU Days for Girls team packed up 300 kits, made by their volunteers and headed to North Sumatra. We were travelling with Raw Wildlife Encounters (Raw), and contributing to the Priority Community Programs that run in conjunction with Raw. With a diverse team of eight, ranging in age from 19 years to 55+ and with our lone brave male Des in tow, we set off with a small degree of trepidation.
Recently, I was interviewed for an article which appeared in the Herald Sun, in celebration of International Women's Day, 2017. One of the questions, that they asked me was, "Who is your Hero?", and I thought it would be nice to share with you my answer to this question, today, on International Women's Day.
Do you remember reading about the “Mountains of the Moon” in National Geographic or the movie classic “African Queen” with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart? That’s when I first learnt about the D R Congo ( formerly known as Zaire). I was absolutely fascinated and never imagined that one day I'd be taking groups of passionate wildlife lovers to this relatively unknown part of Africa.
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: As you know, we've been a registered travel agency for the past 6+ years, and have been able to offer you assistance to book our RAW tours, as well as flights and insurance. As of today, we are able to offer you a FULL SERVICE! I'm so excited about this, as for the past few years I've had this idea of offering you the chance for RAW to become your one stop Travel Concierge.
This July, I'll be leading one of our main fundraising tours - our 7 day Sumatran Wildlife Fundraising Adventure, and would like to invite you to come and join me.
I want to share with you my personal top five wildlife encounters, that are now lifetime memories for me. Starting from number one being my MOST favorite.
Our latest African tour, takes you to the The Democratic Republic of Congo which is home to the largest populations of Mountain Gorillas in Africa. The Virunga Foundation is spearheading the protection and tourism development of this incredible part of Congo, and supports the work of over 520 local wildlife rangers.
The highlight for me was finding fresh tiger scratching marks on the ground! The guides said they were very fresh and they decided we should stop early for lunch, to give the tiger time to move off ahead of us.
The Australia Indonesia Awards recognise and honour those individuals who have made a significant contribution to the greater understanding and friendship between Australians and Indonesians. We are pleased to announce that Jessica McKelson is a finalist in the Tourism/Travel Category of the 2017 Awards.
Pack your suitcase and sneak off for a romantic adventure getaway this Valentine's Day.
Even with increasing public awareness of the issues surrounding the use of animals in tourism, the internet is still inundated with photos of people cuddling tigers or having selfies with orangutans.