The allure of Aitutaki. Just a forty five minute flight away from Rarotonga, the spectacle of final approach to Aitutaki is beyond words. Even the most worked up hype can’t do justice to the tropical glory that emerges out of the ocean. A triangular-shaped reef cradles the atoll with all its miniature islands or motus, bathed in every shade of blue water imaginable. It is one flight where you really want to score a window seat.
Safari in Kalahari. In South Africa’s Northern Cape, butting up against Botswana, the wild Kalahari is brilliantly remote and very unpeopled. The topography is quite diverse, with the craggy splendour of the Koranneburg Mountains, blood-red desert, lush valley forests and sweeping savannah grasslands. It’s also home to Tswalu Wildlife Reserve, a remarkable labour of love for the wealthy Oppenheimer mining family, gallantly achieving some epic conservation triumphs. Mike Yardley paid a visit and was spell-bound.
On the trail of Van Gogh in Arles. Vincent has a lot to answer for. Arles bulges with post-impressionist junkies, staking out immortal sites linked to the artist, like the hospital courtyard he painted, while being a resident patient after lobbing off his ear. Beyond the Van Gogh legacy, Ancient Rome still resonates on the streets of Arles, headlined by their spectacular arena.
San Diego Sparkle. The transformation of the waterfront district has been heroic. It’s the new and shiny part of town, with edgy statement architecture and all very pedestrian centric. The promenades are abuzz with hoverboards and e-scooters, backdropped by the perennial crowd-pleaser, the USS Midway. Next door is the Maritime Museum and Mike Yardley was transfixed by a potent piece of New Zealand immigration history. The Star of India. Tens of thousands of our ancestors journeyed to New Zealand on this ship. It’s the oldest active iron sailing ship in the world – and it’s in mint condition. Mike unwraps his best urban discoveries from San Diego.