Beach Holidays i culture clubs i wellness i safaris
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Bucket-list beach holiday
A beach vacation becomes legendary when it takes you to a destination that exceeds all your expectations. We’re talking about famously sumptuous sun spots like Palma de Mallorca, Mauritius or—our top recommendation—Zanzibar.
This Indian Ocean archipelago off the coast of Tanzania is beloved by beach connoisseurs for its stretches of brilliant white sand and warm turquoise waters. The main island, Unguja (more often just called Zanzibar) boasts the capital city of Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with buildings that reflect Swahili, Arab, Indian and European influences.
The scuba diving and snorkeling are unparalleled across Zanzibar (dolphin sightings are common), as is the terrestrial wildlife: think giant tortoises, Red Colobus monkeys, colourful migratory birds and butterflies and the diminutive (as in cat-sized) suni antelope.
Designed to please
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What’s the ultimate vacation destination? Easy: it’s the place that suits the vacation you need right now.
Sometimes—like in the heart of a Canadian winter—that’s a sunny beach holiday, preferably somewhere with a culinary scene that suits people who love food as much as sunshine. Other times, you need a vacation that feeds the mind and soul with an infusion of art and culture. That's when the dream destination needs to have art galleries, museums and centuries of history to discover. When rejuvenation is required, a wellness holiday—somewhere geared toward spiritual and physical renewal—is just what the doctor ordered. And then there's those once-in-a-lifetime trips, like the wilderness safari you've dreamed of for years.
We’ve researched the best places for different types of travel, and they’re all easy to get to from Canada on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Read on to find out where to go, what to do and how to make your trip even more rewarding.
What would a holiday in Zanzibar actually be like? That’s up to you. Zanzibar has all-inclusive options as well as beachfront hotels, guest houses and villa rentals to suit different budgets.
Spend your sundrenched days exploring the coastline via dhow boat —the distinctive vessel with a triangular sail—or take a trip to Prison Island or Chumbe Island Coral Park to get up close to the tropical sea life. For a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, add a safari to your vacation; the pristine, elephant-rich Nyerere National Park on the Tanzanian mainland can be experienced in a day trip, and the Big Five await in the Serengeti, less than a two-hour flight away.
Your Zanzibar itinerary
Art for miles
Forget any generic ideas about “Italian” food; a visit to Florence is proof that a country built from historically independent nation-states will have a corresponding diversity of regional cuisines.
In Florence, that means an emphasis on meat, from oversized Florentine steaks to fatty baked arista (pork back) and dare-you-to-try-it lampretto (cow stomach) sandwiches. Bread—ideally crunchy-crusted and salt-free—is also big here, serving as the base for famous soups like Ribollita and Pappa al Pomodoro. And since Florence is rumoured to be the birthplace of gelato, you owe it to history to sample as many cups and cones as you can. Walk off your meal in Mercato Centrale, a food-focused shopping destination on the site of the historic San Lorenzo market.
Sometimes you need a holiday that feeds your mind and soul. Europe has options from London to Paris to Amsterdam and Vienna, but one place offers all this as well as endless beautiful Renaissance architecture and Italian food: Florence.
As one of the richest cities of the medieval era, Florence attracted the best artists and architects. Their legacy is everywhere, from gorgeous edifices like the Florence Duomo, Medici Chapel and Ponte Vecchio to the endless riches inside the city’s museums. Start at the Uffizi Gallery, home to masterpieces like Boccaccio’s The Birth of Venus and Caravaggio’s Medusa. Say ciao to Michelangelo’s Statue of David at the Accademia Gallery and check out Donatello’s version of the same hero (something of a Florentine icon) at the Bargello Museum. Then, just wander and admire the fountains, duomos, gardens and squares—art is all around you in Florence.
Escape to wellness
Wellness takes many forms in Bali, from ancient Balinese healing ceremonies to meditation and yoga practices to spa and massage treatments using local, naturally sourced herbs and oils. A typical Balinese retreat might see you waking up in a cliff-top resort with a volcanic-stone hot tub and views of emerald-green rice paddies, with a lineup of classes focused on spiritual and physical rejuvenation, and a menu of healthy, vibrantly flavoured meals.
Or, mix-and-match your Balinese holiday by interspersing individual wellness experiences with time at the beach, shopping at the craft markets or checking out the temples.
Health and wellness
Imagine relaxing in a hammock, with your muscles feeling pleasantly stretched from beachside yoga and a hike in the jungle. This fate beckons in wellness destinations such as Ko Samui, Rishikesh—or Bali, the Indonesian island famous for its welcoming hospitality, natural beauty, spiritual temples and luxurious-yet-relaxed resorts.
Bali’s many beaches cover four different coastal regions. In the busy south, find white-sand stretches with surfer-friendly waves and lively beach towns. The eastern coastline, buffered by coral reefs, has more tranquil waters and vivid snorkeling. On the north coast, you can walk barefoot along secluded black-sand beaches, and in the west, the sunset views are legendary. Throughout Bali, you’ll find accommodations that put you right on the sand, steps from the water—or even above it, in an overwater bungalow or water villa.
Ultimate vacation destinations—and how to enjoy them even more
Zanzibar was a crucial stop on the spice route for centuries, and its cuisine is fragrant with local saffron, ginger, vanilla and cinnamon. Travelzoo tip: Plan a meal at The Rock, on a lushly landscaped rock off Michamvi Pingwe Beach, which you can reach by foot during low tide.
Zanzibar—which can be reached on KLM via Amsterdam—is worth the trip for everybody, but the journey from Canada is especially rewarding for holders of the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard. Since cardholders can earn accelerated Miles on flight purchases, a return flight to Zanzibar booked with the card can earn enough Miles to bring you close to a Toronto-Paris one-way reward ticket.
Zanzibar: the Spice Island
Rest and relaxation
Head out on Safari
Whether you’re climbing Table Mountain or going on a safari, make sure you’re prepared for weather changes—the peak can be cold, and the game drives can be hot or cool—and stock up with plenty of sunscreen, water and extra cellphone battery power. Always listen to your safari guide (no feeding animals for photo shoots!) and don’t go wandering into the wilderness alone. Throughout your Cape Town adventure, it’s important to follow the common-sense precautions applicable to every trip. The Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard has safety and security options built right in; it can be stored as a digital card and locked on your phone for maximum protection against loss and theft.
Safety and security
Some sights really are all they’re hyped up to be, and Cape Town’s Table Mountain is one of them. Take the five-minute aerial cableway up to the flat-topped peak (1,085 metres high), or find a trail that suits your skills. There are five official routes, and the shortest, The Skeleton Gorge, can be hiked in about 90 minutes. You’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Cape Town, the ocean and magnificent mountains including Lion’s Mane and the Twelve Apostles. Another natural showcase awaits on the eastern base of Table Mountain. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is world-famous for its indigenous plants and rich biodiversity. (The stunning setting doesn’t hurt, either.) You’ll also be close to wineries galore, so consider sipping your way through a tour of the Constantia Wine Valley.
Table Mountain and more
When it comes to a safari, options are as diverse as Madagascar (lemurs!) and Kilimanjaro (wildebeest). But Cape Town, South Africa, lets you combine experiences like wine-tasting with the once-in-a-lifetime wonders of a safari experience. Magnificent wildlife reserves lie within a few hours’ drive , so it’s possible to do a day trip that might include sightings of the Big Five: lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo. But with all the gorgeous safari lodges, glamping tents and chalets on offer, you’d be wise to stay a night or two in the wilderness.
Plus, since new Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard receive a welcome bonus equating to 60% of the XP (Experience Points) needed for Silver Flying Blue status, booking a return flight to Cape Town earns enough additional XP to let you unlock Silver status benefits for a year. This means you'll get priority check-in and boarding and an extra checked bag every time you fly.
The Big Five
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Perhaps you’re an opera buff and want to compare the Palais Garnier to the Teatro di San Carlo, or you’re on a mission to photograph the most beautiful bridges of Amsterdam and Florence. If you use some Flying Blue Miles for a reward ticket to Florence or beyond, you can get the chance to add a free stopover in Paris or Amsterdam.
Stop over as long as you want (at least 24 hours and up to a year) and make your way home (eventually) with twice as many memories. Earn more rewards as you go about your travels; Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard cardholders can earn up to 30 Flying Blue Miles per dollar spent at hundreds of merchant partners, including hotels, car rentals and various activities.
Florence for Foodies
You’ll be able to relax more completely on your vacation if you know you’re covered for unexpected incidents. Get any recommended vaccinations well in advance and consider paying for your trip with a card that carries comprehensive travel insurance, like the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard. The card also comes with access to over one million Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots in planes, airports, hotels, and cafes around the world, so you’ll find it easy to stay in touch on the road and at your destination.
Be prepared for the unexpected