As we continue through our travel experience bucket list, we at Your Concierge NYC wanted to provide our readers with a unique type of vacation inspiration geared to the animal lovers at heart. Many other blogs or email subscriptions will readily send out travel ideas related to the most luxurious ways to spend a week with your toes in the sand and a drink in your hand. Don’t get us wrong, we really love those types of getaways, too – but we also want to send out some family-friendly vibes to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most majestic creatures. After all, to know an animal is to know pure, unadulterated love. What better way to enhance your next journey than learning about the important conservation efforts geared to protect these loving creatures, showing your family the love of an animal, and ethically participating in some of the most awe-inspiring opportunities of a lifetime? Scroll down to check out how you can give an elephant a mud bath, float along next to native swimming pigs, tango underwater with silly sea lions, observe the circle of life first hand, and learn about important conservation efforts at a theme park closer than you might think.
Please note, we strongly recommend hiring a professional guide to help you to interact with all animals in a safe and rewarding manner. Always be respectful to the animals and exercise a reasonable level of caution when interacting with natural wildlife.
Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Kingdom of Thailand is another “all-in-one” destination, brimming with colorful temples, crystal clear waters, and the most gracious and welcoming people imaginable. It is especially magical for animal lovers because it affords the opportunity to interact with elephants in a socially responsible and humane manner. Your day might involve activities like feeding the playful pachyderms their favorite snacks of bananas and bamboo, applying a thick coat of mud to their backs to protect them from the intense sun of Southeast Asia, and following them down to a small waterfall to rinse off their extra spa treatments. Fair warning, if they like you they may suck up some mud spray it back at you!
The best part about true sanctuaries is that the animals have all been rescued from other less desirable ways of life. During these experiences, no elephants were ever forced to perform unnatural behaviors or interact with any guests. Whether or not you had an interaction with one of these gentle giants was entirely up to the elephant. While we did heavy research into finding the ideal sanctuary to support, all “sanctuaries” are not made equal and we would be remiss to not inform you appropriately. So, if you do decide to book this incredibly humbling experience – and we highly recommend it - please do so with caution and only support institutions that have the animals’ best interests at heart.
The Exumas, The Bahamas
When someone books a ticket to Nassau, the image usually conjured in their mind is one of relaxation replete with white sand beaches, luxurious waterfront resorts, and fruity umbrella drinks in hand. But what if I told you that only a short speedboat ride away there are numerous fun and unique ways to interact with indigenous animals in the Exuma Keys? Book a private charter to island hop your way to Allen Cay, home of the popular Bahamian Rock Iguanas. These massive reptiles associate tourists with food, so they will likely come out and greet you upon arrival. Next stop is Compass Cay, where the shallow waters are perfect for you and your family to take a dip ... as long as you’re up for some aquatic company of the shark variety! If that last line got your heart moving a little faster, don’t worry! Nurse sharks are mild mannered and mostly harmless to humans. Lastly, hoist up your anchor and sail over to our final stop of the day, Big Major Cay, to encounter a truly mystical sight: the infamous swimming pigs of the Bahamas. Make sure you have a hefty supply of carrots, their snack of choice, because there are dozens of pigs strolling along the shore on any given day and they sure do have an appetite.
The Galapagos, Ecuador
Visiting these remote volcanic islands off the coast of Ecuador is not always the easiest of feats to accomplish. It wasn’t until the second half of the 1900’s that air travel was routinely used to access the national park famously used in Charles Darwin’s living, breathing biology studies. Today, there are a number of small group, luxury tour groups that take you for an in-depth look at what Darwin had the unique privilege of experiencing. Think of up-close wildlife viewing opportunities as the daring indigenous species are well known for allowing some close encounters. If you are lucky, you might even have a delightful underwater dance party with a silly sea lion that is just as curious about you as you are about them. For those that are PADI certified, the islands offer some uniquely stunning dive sites that are second to none. If you aren’t an advanced diver, or just prefer to stay dry, you can still engage with the natural landscape in a meaningful way. Take a stroll along the granular sand coast strewn with bathing sea lions and napping giant tortoises. Kayaking off the coast will provide the photography enthusiast ample opportunities to capture scenes featuring the likes of blue-footed boobies, Galapagos penguins, and giant iguanas. Without having experienced the pristine grandeur of these islands first hand, imagination can only scratch the surface of what you can hope to find in such a majestic portion of our world.
South Africa is widely considered one of the most popular African countries to visit on holiday, and for good reason. It offers poignant historical remembrances of Apartheid at Robben Island, abundant outdoor activities like hiking Table Mountain and visiting the penguins of the Cape of Good Hope, as well as a lively winery presence offering up authentic bottles of Pinotage. However, nothing can outshine the main attraction of the abundant natural wildlife. If a cage dive off the coast of Cape Town in the heart of Great White territory isn’t quite the animal encounter you had in mind, perhaps an early morning game drive through a privately owned wildlife reserve with a safari guide and ranger is more your speed. South Africa is renowned for big five sightings, which include lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and Cape buffalo, among other cute critters. Your lodge can likely arrange for a private meal replete with local dishes and unique flavors hosted within the wild landscape itself. The majestic natural scenery will make even the most novice of photographers seems like a veteran National Geographic explorer – if you close your eyes and randomly take a picture you’re likely to have captured something magnificent. So without further ado, go invest in a semi-decent camera and book a flight to one of the most popular countries on the African continent!
Walt Disney World Theme Park, USA
When people hear of the most magical place on Earth, they typically think of the world-class attractions and family-oriented nature of the parks. But what if I told you the House of Mouse goes well beyond colorful international dolls singing about the small size of the world? Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge are officially accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which is considered the gold standard in animal care. The popular theme park offers behind-the-scenes a la carte experiences that take guests through the African savannah in a variety of ways. Consider hanging over a ledge peering down at the hippo habitat as your toss them some fresh vegetables, traversing a rope bridge dangling over the crocodile encampment, and enjoying an authentic African-inspired meal situated on the savannah itself while sipping a selection of premium African wines to pair with panoramic wildlife views. For those looking for a shorter experience, consider an in-depth look at either rhinos or elephants, focusing on their care and conservation. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, a deluxe category resort on property, observe wildlife directly from your balcony, get up close and personal with okapi, giraffe, and ostrich, participate in the daily enrichment of red river hogs, and take in the beauty of the savannah at dark with specialized nighttime binoculars. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the aquatic opportunities within The Living Seas at Epcot, which allows guests the opportunity to swim with dolphins, and either snorkel or dive within their 5.7 million gallon aquarium. They truly have something fun for all ages!
Our team has an incredibly varied set of travel experiences and is uniquely positioned to curate your family a truly one-of-a-kind itinerary to meet all of your wildest dreams, so please feel free to shoot us a quick message here to discover how we can give you the world.
The natural world is stunningly beautiful and diverse. It welcomes spectators to gaze in awe at the incredibly varied physical landscapes blessing our planet. In some places, rivers are architects that carve canyons through glorious stone slabs, exposing a colorful palette of orange and red hues hidden deep within the ground. Throughout the landscape, volcanoes have gifted us a great number of islands where we can now dig our toes into fine sand, allowing us a peaceful locale to gaze up at the prominent structures still lining the horizon. Other regions boast humbling bodies of water that gleam bright turquoise against the shining sun, providing a source of inspiration to dive below the surface and explore the aquatic world below. Even further removed, in a remote corner of the world, the seventh continent yields slabs of ice miles thick that act as a tomb, encasing clues to our planet’s evolution, protected by a harsh climate and local wildlife faithfully guarding their land.
These descriptions only scratch the surface of all the crevices available for us to explore. Here at Your Concierge NYC, we wholeheartedly believe that every inch of our planet has something breathtaking to discover. For those with not quite enough time to traverse all of these bountiful inches, we have conjured up a list of our top 5 location recommendations for those who are looking to reconnect with nature. In case the great outdoors is not your idea of the perfect getaway, stay tuned for some more of our “Top 5” picks of other travel styles coming up in the near future.
As always, we are happy to help curate your ideal vacation to anywhere in the world. To get a an idea of how we can augment your vacation experiences, feel free to contact us here and we will have one of our travel experts reach out to you promptly!
Grand Canyon National Park
Imagine staring up at the towering red rock walls that make up the imposing Grand Canyon from the level of the river that carved the work of art in the first place. The vast majority of travelers will never venture down into the canyon, given its lack of true roads and penchant for adventure. But trust us, some of the most awe-inspiring experiences can only be had from this vantage point. Think white water rafting along the Colorado River – or better yet – take a dory ride like the infamous Lewis and Clark surely used for an even more heart pounding way to navigate the jutting rocks and serious rapids. For those wanting the view of a lifetime without the adrenaline-inducing palpitations or spray from river, consider a helicopter tour for stunning aerial shots with the opportunity to land within the canyon, or perhaps a quick hike or mule tour to explore the 1.2 million acre park more thoroughly.
Are you the type of person that loves nature, adventure, varied landscapes, and culture all in one trip? Then look no further – the Pura Vida way of life in Central America’s gem of Costa Rica is the perfect locale for you. Spend your energy traversing the rugged rainforests teeming with exotic wildlife and regain it with your toes in the sand of beaches lining both the Caribbean and the Pacific. Add some over the top experiences - pun intended - by zip lining above the canopies of tropical rainforests with views of the imposing Areñal Volcano on the horizon. Don’t forget to immerse yourself in the food, history, and architecture of the capital with a relaxed walking tour of the region led by your very own local expert.
The truly adventurous at heart will fall hard for the myriad things to do throughout the largely untouched natural splendor of New Zealand, with options that will take you by land, sea, sky, ... and even gravity. Cruising Fiordland National Park is the ideal way to get in touch with primitive nature and wildlife, while maintaining the luxury we all know and love as a home base. From here, venture out to some of the globe’s most accessible glaciers by helicopter for a day spent hiking in an ethereal environment. The icing on the cake for adrenaline junkies is likely what New Zealand has become partially known for: bungee jumping. What better place to take the ultimate leap of faith than New Zealand, which boasts some of the world’s largest bungee jumps where daring travelers can simultaneously survey the beautiful landscaped valleys as gravity takes its course.
To fully explore Australia, you would truly have to spend the rest of your life on the continent. We recommend starting your trip to the Land Down Under in the capital city by ascending the Sydney Harbour Bridge for sweeping views of the iconic Sydney Opera House (which we also recommend touring, if available!) From there, take to the coast to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, where you will get up close and personal with the world’s largest coral reef system – home to everything from sea sponges and clownfish to anemones and reef sharks. While we are on the aquatic theme, don’t forget to catch some waves at the well-known Bondi Beach where surf schools are professionals at getting even the most inexperienced of surfers up on their boards. Once you have had your fill of the water, journey inland to survey Ayers Rock at Uluru, a historic cultural site sacred to the indigenous population believed to hold ancient wisdom. For the grand finale of your trip, you can volunteer to be submerged into a crocodile pen for an up-close encounter with monstrous saltwater crocs or take to the ocean for a cage dive where a few Great White Sharks might just come over to say hello. After all, what better way to get in touch with nature and her inhabitants than greeting them at their own front door?
Have you ever dreamed of venturing to a far off land with a rugged landscape without a single piece of civilization in sight? For some, this may sound too extreme. For others, this may be a transcendent glimpse of paradise. Regardless of which category you fall into, rest assured that you can explore the seventh continent of Antarctica without stepping out of your comfort zone. Departing from various ports in South America, sail onboard a luxuriously appointed cruise ship complete with spa services, upscale eateries, and world-class educational opportunities. Once arriving to the land of ice and snow, you will kayak to glorious glaciers, walk along the snow covered shores amidst arctic wildlife, and observe killer whales going about their day. Longer itineraries include stops at both South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands, where you can observe colonies of king penguins and albatross in numbers not found anywhere else in the world. This is truly the trip of a lifetime, and we are confident you will leave with not only museum caliber photos, but also with a newfound appreciation for nature and priceless memories of a land most people will only ever get to visit in their dreams.
Here at Your Concierge NYC we have all been climbing the walls wanting to get up, get out, and get doing something. A month trapped in the house with minimal human interaction will start to play mind tricks on even the most resilient of us. With that being said, we also recognize the importance of the current health recommendations put forth by various national and international experts to #FlattenTheCurve. As always, your safety, health, and wellbeing are our utmost concerns.
In the spirit of wellbeing, we feel that having some positive and exciting things to look forward to – even if in the distant future - are a great addition to all of the current health recommendations. After all, we shouldn’t forget about our mental health during these unprecedented times, either. What better way to get excited for a change of pace ... and a change of place ... than to plan your next great adventure with your loved ones once the world returns to normal? So without further ado, please do wash your hands, practice social distancing, and let us help you curate your trip of a lifetime - post- apocalypse, of course.
Below is a brief list of potential trips to satisfy your newest case of wanderlust, no matter what type of traveler you are. Our team has some amazing and varied travel experience as a whole, and it was a truly difficult decision to narrow down this post to include our 25 greatest hits and bucket list trips. We hope that these ideas jump-start your travel planning process, give you a much-needed boost of optimism, and shine some light on a previously undiscovered corner of the world. Please stay tuned for a more in-depth review of each of these locations in the coming weeks, to help you solidify your destination of choice!
As always, we would love to help these dreams become your reality! For a personally curated luxury travel itinerary geared exactly to your preferences and brimming with first class amenities and experiences, please send us a message here.
For the naturalist:
For the animal lover:
For the tranquility seeker:
For the cosmopolitan enthusiast:
For cultural immersion:
The ideal trip varies from person to person. You can probably find a less than scientific prediction on your perfect vacation destination based on your astrological sign or by taking a personality quiz on social media - I know I have. In fact, I have even gone so far as to throw a dart at a map and book a flight to wherever my projectile landed. At least, that was before I had the expertise and resources I have amassed from my experience as a personal concierge.
At this point in my life, whenever I get a bite from the ever-present travel bug, I stop and ask myself a series of questions that help me extrapolate what I am looking to get out of the trip, as well as what highlights I want to focus on and what potential limitations I may want to avoid. From there, I get to work utilizing our array of connections and expertise - just like I would when building the perfect itinerary for a client. And I must say, it’s made a huge difference. Some might even say a world of difference.
Let me walk you through the process. First, ask yourself a very simple question: “what am I looking to get out of this vacation?” Perhaps you want to explore the natural wonders of the world while mixing in some adventurous activities and animal interactions. Maybe a pristine beach with a world-class spa is more your style. Possibly complete cultural immersion into another way of life really tickles your fancy. No matter which of the above statements resonates with you, we will work to make it happen. And don’t worry if all of the statements make your heart skip a beat – we can combine all of these interests into a varied and stimulating itinerary to keep you and your travel companions on the edge of your seats throughout your entire journey. Personally, this is the way I like to travel – who doesn’t love something new and exciting to look forward to every single day of your adventure?!
Travel agents are great at helping you select which resort to spend your week lounging by the pool. Sometimes, they offer vacation options where they might be paid directly from the vacation destination upon your booking through their company. The beauty of a concierge is that we do not receive any compensation or reimbursement for our services! We will not be pushing for you to go to a specific city, stay at a given resort, use a particular local guide, or reserve a certain table for dinner. The bottom line when working with a concierge: the entire world is your oyster, no strings attached!
Additionally, we have domestic and international connections that enable us to accommodate our clients no matter what the request. Seriously, I have yet to tell someone that something cannot be done. Here at Your Concierge NYC, we love a good challenge. So even if you think something is impossible, shoot us a request here and we will work together to make it a reality.
You know what type of things you want to see and do on your trip, but how do you make them all flow nicely day-by-day? Let us handle the tedious itinerary arrangements. We will work diligently to make sure you visit all of the best sights in the most logical order. Certain activities are best booked through a private guide so as to skip the line at popular tourist sights around the world. Don’t worry - we have connections in this arena and are aware of which sites require such advanced planning. We will even set you up with a restaurant reservation nearby so that as soon as you are done with your full day’s worth of adventures, you can sit right down to a nice meal and reminisce about your experiences without waiting for a table to open up.
Lastly, transportation is a necessary evil of any trip – no one likes to plan this aspect, but its required to get you to your ultimate destination. We can book you either commercial or private air transportation and have a private car service meet you at either the airport or directly on the tarmac. The best part about working with us for these needs is that we regularly charter private jets, work with helicopters and other light aircraft, and book ground transportation services to get us from Point A to Point B. Our vendors are already vetted for the highest safety and quality of service standards – we use the same services ourselves as we recommend to our clients.
Bottom line: enlisting a concierge service for your travel planning needs will simply make your life easier. No more worrying if what you booked will live up to your standards. Forget about the monotony of the planning process and focus on the other aspects of your life. Here at Your Concierge NYC, we believe that if it doesn’t bring you joy or make you money, it should be on our to-do list and not yours! So leave the travel planning to the concierge experts and get to dreaming about where we can send you