Roughing It, Royally

How Britain’s William and Harry see the world.

From palaces and princely hotels to oil-magnate mansions and mega-yachts, members of the British royal family stay anywhere they please. But how do they prefer to experience the great outdoors? You might be surprised to find out just how down-to-earth Princes William and Harry really are — or you may be surprised by just how luxe some rustic accommodations can be. Continue reading “Roughing It, Royally”

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Best of the Outback

The Australian Outback is not a place you can just wander into on your own (unless you’re Mick Dundee). To approach this 2.5 million square miles of rugged terrain and its countless deadly creatures, a fearless guide is essential. With local recommendations and a ton of research, all signs pointed to Adventure Tours’ Kakadu National Park and Katherine Gorge Safari. We joined their small-group trip (as in one other guest and our fantastic guide, Luke) and fell in love with this vibrant corner of the Northern Territory and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

02 mary river-HoneyTrek.com

Leaving the city of Darwin, our first stop was Mary River National Park… a lush place covered with lotus flowers, surrounded by waddle trees and exotic birds. The Mary River is renowned for its bird watching and abundance of water pythons (like 800 found in 1sq kilometer. Swimming is not recommended). Being so close to the equator and coast, this section of the Outback was surprisingly pretty tropical.

03 Crocodile River-HoneyTrek.com

We stopped for lunch and took a riverboat up the Crocodile River, the border of Arnhem Land. This area of the Northern Territory is all aboriginal land and virtually closed to independent travelers. We cruised up the river escorted by our Wulna guide, learning about the local traditions, including how to throw a spear wicked far.

04-AdventureToursKakadu Camp-HoneyTrek.com

Adventure Tours has their own fixed camps around the country and ours had a lovely screened-in cabins and a dining tent with full kitchen facilities where Luke cooked us delicious meals.

5 Cathedral Termite Mound-HoneyTrek.com

The next morning we set out for Kakadu National Park, stopping for water monitors, wallaroos, and any other critters Eagle Eye Luke could spot. A favorite detour was this 50-year old and 15-foot tall Cathedral Termite Mound. The construction of these natural skyscrapers with their walls of mud, plants, saliva, and feces is mind-boggling.

06ubirr art-HoneyTrek.com

Kakadu and its surrounds have stunning landscapes but when you get to Ubirr, with its rock shelters and ancient cave art, dating back 40,000 BC (yes, THAT old), you can see why UNESCO groupies swoon here. The aboriginal people of Kakadu are the oldest living culture on earth and, while these paintings date back an unfathomably long time, they are actually regularly being added to and updated by the local people who preserve them as archives. The aboriginal languages were never written, so their sacred texts of creation, law, and values were drawn out. We marveled at the rock art then climbed the sandstone cliff shelters for sunset views of the Nardab floodplain.

07-gunlom falls-HoneyTrek.com

We delved deeper into Kakadu National Park and arrived to one of the most scenic Crocodile Dundee location, Gunlom Falls. Hiking alongside the 200-foot cascade, we reached the infinity pools on top, basked in the baths as Mick did, and enjoyed the stunning views across this diverse Outback landscape (six different environments to be exact: monsoonal vine forest, open woodland, flood plains and rivers, mangroves and mudflats, southern lowlands and ridgeline).

08 Katherine Gorge-HoneyTrek.com

Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park was our most southerly and possibly most spectacular point in our Northern Territory tour. Formed by the Katherine River flowing from Arnhem Land to the Timor Sea, this 23 million-year-old natural marvel is made of towering red rock walls, with just enough room for a couple of boats to pass through. We sailed in between the 230-foot high pass taking in a bit of history and plenty of scenery.

09-Adventure Tours

With over 100,000 crocodiles, 140 species of marsupials, 300+ types of birds, it’s not surprising we had animal sightings up until our return to Darwin. We only captured a fraction of the animals on film but have a gander at this water monitor, frill neck lizard, rock wallaby, wallaroos and the most famous Outback mammal of them all, Charlie the Water Buffalo, spotted at the Adelaide River Inn Pub.

10 Outback sunset-HoneyTrek.com

We not only survived the Outback, we were enriched by it. Adventure Tours’ thoughtful itineraries and incredible guides made Kakadu and its surrounds come alive—from animal sightings to aboriginal culture. Don’t let the “deadly” reviews of the Outback deter you, it’s a to-die-for place.

Anne & Mike Howard

Mike and Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in 2012 and have been traveling the world ever since. HoneyTrek.com chronicles their adventures across 7 continents, 44 countries, and counting! Their writing, photography, and the story of the “World’s Longest Honeymoon” can also be found on Condé Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, The Knot, Los Angeles Times, CBS, and dozens of other international publications. Connect with @HoneyTrek on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Abel Tasman at its Finest

Sea kayaking 12km is one the most rewarding outdoor experiences…especially when there is a luxury lodge at the finish line. On our honeymoon around the world, we had dreams of exploring New Zealand’s Abel Tasman National Park—without the use of a tent and camp stove. Enter Wilsons Abel Tasman. They are the only outfitter in the park with beachfront lodges, plus gourmet food, hot showers, a comfortable bed, and cocktail hour. Now we are talking!

02 Abel Tasman kayaking

For a little history…in 1672 Abel Tasman was the first European explorer to set eyes on New Zealand but no westerners inhabited the region until 1840–that’s when the Brits sent a settlement fleet with brave pioneers, including the Wilsons’ great-great-great grandparents. Eight generations later, the family continues the tradition of Abel Tasman exploration by leading hiking and kayaking trips through the national park, making overnight stops at their historic homes.

03 WilsonsAbel Tasman Boat Ride-HoneyTrek.com

All Wilsons’ trips start with a boat ride along the incredible Abel Tasman coastline, through its vibrant waters and granite headlands. From there you can hike, kayak, run, and/or bike anywhere from one to five days. We signed up for the “Three-day Kayak & Walk Break” which involves hiking the northern beaches and forests and a two-day kayak through the southern islands and coves, totaling 32 kilometers of exploration.

04 Able Tasman Hike-HoneyTrek.com

We hiked along the beaches, through the forest and up to the cliffs. The vegetation was a lush combination of beech, rata, and tree ferns that would open up to breathtaking vistas of the beaches, where we spotted everything from seals to cormorants to sting rays.

05 Wilsons Meadowbank Lodge-HoneyTrek.com

Just before dusk, we arrived in Awaroa Inlet and Meadowbank: the family’s original home and current lodge. After a delightful shower, we enjoyed dinner and relaxed by the fireplace with a glass of wine, listening to the fascinating stories of family’s early days in the wild frontier.

06-Meadowbank Breakfast-HoneyTrek.com

The next morning we fueled up with a hearty breakfast before our 4km scenic walk over the Tonga Saddle to Onetahuti, our put-in spot for our sea kayak adventure.

07-Wilson kayaking-HoneyTrek.com

We kayaked along the rocky coast and into the beautiful Bark Bay inlet for incredible nature sightings, including the endemic Blue Duck! This was no average duck–it rides rapids just like a kayaker.

08-NZ fur seals-HoneyTrek.com

After lunch we paddled to Tonga Island, a breeding ground for New Zealand fur seals. The seals spend their first few months around Tonga honing their swimming and hunting skills. We watched them take quick dips then scamper up the rocks to catch their breath, flop about and nap. Our guide said, sometimes the curious pups even hop onto the bow of passing kayaks. We would have waited all day to give a seal a ride, but sunset and a hot meal at Wilsons’ Torrent Bay Lodge were calling us to shore.

09-Split Apple Rock Abel Tasman

With fine food and a great night’s sleep under our belt, we were ready to take on the final 12km-stretch of kayaking. We celebrated our Wilsons journey at Split Apple rock, one last gorgeous cove before the port at Kaiteriteri. We felt such a sense of accomplishment but it was definitely Wilsons incredible guides and pampering that was the secret to our success.

Anne & Mike Howard

Mike and Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in 2012 and have been traveling the world ever since. HoneyTrek.com chronicles their adventures across 7 continents, 44 countries, and counting! Their writing, photography, and the story of the “World’s Longest Honeymoon” can also be found on Condé Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, The Knot, Los Angeles Times, CBS, and dozens of other international publications. Connect with @HoneyTrek on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.