10.13.2019

wild bush luxury in northern Australia

sunset silhouette at Bamurru Plains (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Bamurru Plains is a safari camp in the far north of Australia, east of Darwin. Separated from the ocean by 100 square miles of flood plains, airboat excursions to view wildlife are the most popular activity. Because our visit came at the end of the dry season, we did not have the chance to enjoy this particular activity as the floodplains were dry — but we did take advantage of sunrise and sunset excursions by 4x4 and boat. The best times to visit are May through August.

Birdwatching was the passion of an English couple we met at Bamurru Plains. Equipped with extremely long telephoto lenses, they were rewarded with photographic opportunities of a vast variety of local birds. It was fun hearing them excitedly calling out the names of birds they spotted and checking that species off their list. Wallabies hopped all around our camp, and we saw crocodiles in abundance when going for a nature cruise down the Mary River.

Our cabin was plain but comfortable. Screened walls brought in the sights and sounds of the surroundings. No need for alarm clocks, as the birds will reliably wake you at dawn. The camp is completely off the grid, electricity being provided by generators and hot water from the solar collector on your roof (keep your showers short!). Being off the grid, your stay at Bamurru Plains will be a vacation from emails, phone calls, and news. Food was good, with guests dining "family style" around a long table.


   













copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

10.01.2019

a postcard from Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Uluru at dawn (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

A postcard from Uluru ... the Aboriginal name for this massive rock formation in the center of Australia. The English settlers called it Ayers Rock, probably the name you know.

The top photo was taken well before dawn. The half hour before the sun actually peaks above the horizon is the most special time to visit. We stood alone in the darkness, watched the sun's glow from below the horizon, and observed the gradual, almost imperceptible brightening of that glow as dawn approached. Once the sun gets above the horizon, the magic is lost as everything is cast in bright light.

Sunset is another popular time to visit Uluru. In the middle of the day, the heat can be oppressive and the harsh, bright light of the sun washes out the colors. As sunset approaches, the low angle of the sun casts golden and then reddish light upon Uluru, creating the ethereal glow you see below.

Uluru at sunset (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Well worth a visit, Longitude 131ยบ is an exclusive resort with luxury tents, each with a view of Uluru. Included in your room rate are all meals, fine wines and cocktails, and excursions to explore the area — mostly at sunrise and sunset. What to do in the middle of the day? Relax by the pool ... or pamper yourself in the Spa. Book through a Virtuoso travel advisor to receive an exclusive resort credit towards your treatment!

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.30.2019

good morning, Sydney

Opera House at dawn (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

We're now in Sydney, and with our return from the Outback, we again have ample bandwidth to post on Travel Horizons. I got out of bed at 4:45 a.m. this morning to capture the sunrise. The heavy cloud cover prevented any meaningful dawn colors ... but they created drama. I converted this photograph to black and white and am happy with the image.

Taken from the boardwalk in front of the Park Hyatt Sydney, located in the historic Rocks district, this is an ideal location if you're into sunrise or sunset photography of the Opera House.

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.20.2019

postcard from Lizard Island | Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Thursday's sunset photo was quite literally a rush job. I napped too late and nearly missed the sunset. The sun had already set behind the horizon when I arrived at the beach, but the colors were vivid, illuminating the clouds with beautiful shades of reds, oranges, and blues.

I was able to take a more leisurely approach to Friday evening's sunset photograph. We walked down to Sunset Beach, arriving 45 minutes before the sunset. I had time to explore some different compositions. Because there were clouds obscuring the horizon, the colors were not nearly as dramatic as on Thursday evening.

This was literally my last image from Friday afternoon. I had already collapsed the legs of my tripod and was walking off the beach, but my eyes caught sight of these subtle reflections on the water. It was so dark that Claire wondered why I set up my tripod again, but the darkness worked to my advantage. The long 30 second exposure smoothed out the surface of the ocean, creating this surreal image. I love it, and it's now the desktop photo on my MacBook Air.

Lizard Island is a beautiful beach resort in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. Just 40 villas — 85 maximum guests at any time — and it's quite quiet at the moment. Claire and I were the only two guests this morning on what turned out to be our very own private snorkeling adventure on the Inner Reef... the most gorgeous coral I've ever seen!

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.19.2019

postcard from Lizard Island | sunset

sunset at Lizard Island (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

We arrived yesterday at Lizard Island, after a 15 hour flight from San Francisco and an overnight in Cairns. I napped in the afternoon and almost missed getting this photo. We rushed down to the beach, camera and tripod in hand. The sun had already set, but I was able to capture this image of the sun still illuminating clouds above the horizon. The tripod proved to be critical, as this was an 0.8 second exposure at f/11 and ISO 100, for those who care about such details.

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.15.2019

postcard from Helsinki

Helsinki Cathedral (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Helsinki is definitely well worth a visit... first, because it is the hub for Finnair. Finnair has a comfortable business class that offered advantageous pricing for our flight to Europe. You can include a layover of up to 5 days in your itinerary.

Senate Square in the city's center is dominated by Helsinki Cathedral. During our visit, the steps in front of the church were filled with tourists, all enjoying the brilliant summer sunshine. As with other Lutheran churches I saw in Scandinavia, the pulpit faces sculptures of Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon — a not-so-subtle reminder to the preacher to remain true to the theology of these Reformation leaders.

Oodi Library (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved
Include Oodi Library in your visit. The winner of the 2019 Public Library of the Year, the architecture is stunning — and you'll be amazed at the variety of resources available to visitors. These include sewing machines, large format photo printers, 3D printers, a laser cutter, and music studios. You can even play a virtual reality game. The library has a restaurant and wine bar and, yes, there are books and magazines too! Find something to read from the shelves (which include English-language books), and nestle in one of the library's many reading nooks to enjoy your selection.


copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.13.2019

why???



I received a mailing this morning. Inside was a glossy 12-page brochure whose cover was graced with the photograph above. The brochure, sent by a cruise company, advertised its ideas about Family Sailing. My immediate visceral reaction: "Why???"

My travel philosophy is simple — we travel to expand our horizons. Such was the very theme of my very first Travel Horizons post on October 4, 2006. I would never spend my dollars to take my children to the stunningly beautiful fjords of Norway, only to have them ignore the gorgeous views while they drive go-carts around a track on the top deck of a megaship.

Every traveler, and every travel advisor, is different and I would never disparage anyone's personal preferences. I'm only saying ... my philosophy of travel is about expanding our travel horizons ... experiencing the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, history, and cultures of the world's varied peoples.

I am here reprinting my words from nearly 13 years ago. This remains my guiding philosophy when planning my travels and those of my clients.
This is a new blog about travel. I am calling it Travel Horizons. 
One of the wonderful things about travel is that it expands our horizons, literally. A horizon is defined as "the circular boundary of the part of the earth's surface visible from a particular point." 
When we stay in one place, we see the same horizon day after day. What lies beyond those familiar horizons? This is the question, the basic curiosity, that leads to exploration, to discovery, to travel.
This space will be dedicated to sharing the new horizons that travel opens to us. In the months to come, I will write about where I have been, what I have seen, and how these experiences have broadened my own horizons. I invite you to be a part of this conversation.
copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.