Visiting the handful of mountain gorillas left in the world can be an amazing adventure! Watch this video and see a bit about my own incredible adventure there, where I personally had an encounter with a rare Silver Back gorilla!

I couldn’t get any footage of my experience with the Silver back, unfortunately. Right from the start, your guides will tell you something of the habits of the mountain gorillas and explain that it’s important to listen to them if a problem arises. I was filming baby twin gorillas, when all of a sudden the guide yelled,

“Quick quick! Big boss coming – Run!”

I quickly got up from my crouched position and dashed away, but all I could do was push myself flat against a tree behind me and balance on the soggy brush underneath.

All of a sudden, thwack! I was hit on my thigh by the Silver Back, and I went flying head first into the brush! I waited for what seemed like forever, not knowing if the danger had passed or if I was soon to be an ex travel journalist! I formed the words “help me” and whispered it to the wind. Before long, the guides came towards me, lifted me up, and showed me that Big Boss had carried on his way along the path.

According to a primatologist I interviewed, very few people have ever had physical contact with a mountain gorilla, so I do consider myself fortunate for the experience. Also, it’s impossible to know why this happened – it could be that I was the only female and he was staking a claim, or it could have been that, as the “big boss,” he commanded the trails and pushed away anything in his path.

A wonderful place to discover these gorillas is in Volcanoes National Park in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda. There, you can go with very experienced and knowledgeable guides and rangers that will bring you the best experience, while simultaneously respecting and protecting the gorillas and their habitat. It’s a LONG and sometimes difficult trek, so be sure to be prepared for the elements! I guarantee that your personal experience with these gentle animals will make it all worthwhile.

The fee to enter has gone up and is pricey at $1500.00 US per person. My thinking is that the cost was raised to ensure that the gorillas are not inundated with too many tourists. These animals are strong, fierce and funny, and I hope I one day get another chance to play with them in the mountains of Rwanda.

Valletta has launched a preview of its 2018 European Capital of Culture program. A collection of artistic, cultural, and community projects as well as festivals and carnivals, the island is thrilled to be showcasing its eclectic history and heritage.


The program will kick off with a ceremony on 20th January 2018 to mark Valletta’s crown as Europe’s Capital of Culture 2018. As part of the opening festivities, various dynamic shows will be using Valletta’s open squares, namely the Triton Fountain, Castille Square, St. John’s Square and St. George’s Square, as the backdrop for their performance, which will include the participation of international acrobatics company La Fura Dels Baus, performances by ŻfinMalta dancers and digital projections around the city.

Valletta 2018 Chairman Jason Micallef said, “The European Capital of Culture festivities will take on the spirit of an island-wide festa, an event where people and families meet to celebrate and talk and which serves to infuse localities with warmth, life and colour, while bringing the community together.”

“The Valletta 2018 Cultural Program is filled with innovative participatory cultural events, performances and projects, the likes of which have never been seen in Malta before. It is a great opportunity for people to come together and participate in arts and culture,” Program Coordinator Margerita Pulè said.

The program also includes Valletta 2018’s multi-site visual arts exhibition curated by internationally renowned curator Maren Richter, Aħna Refuġjati – an operatic work by young Maltese composer Mario Sammut, Altofest Malta – a Maltese edition of the Naples arts festival hosting interdisciplinary projects in diverse spaces – and Malta Calls; a set by international DJ Per QX, dances from ŻfinMalta and projections by London-based artists Shaun Prickemage and Dan Strutt.

Peter Vella, MTA’s UK Director is looking forward to the program: “The whole city of Valletta is a Unesco World Heritage site… the city needs to be discovered and Valletta 18 is an amazing opportunity to make the UK aware of its beauty”. There will be plenty of incentives for British holidaymakers to travel to Malta to discover Valletta themselves during the celebratory year, with airlines and tour operators expected to join in with the promotion of the program.

However, the city will revel its title of European Capital of Culture long after the program ends: “The Valletta 2018 is a long term project to preserve the cultural heritage and create a legacy that is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike to foster cultural heritage as a reflection of our identity as Maltese, Mediterranean and European”, said Minister for Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici.

Puerto Vallarta’s majestic Sierra Madre, blue Bay of Banderas and iconic Malecon will provide the perfect background of mountain-meets-sea for the first edition of the urban bicycle race, Down Puerto Vallarta 2017, taking place from April 30 to May 1st. Announced this Friday by Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board Director, Agustín Álvarez Valdivia, the race has three categories: Downhill, Slopestyle y Freestyle and will bring participants from the Sierra Madre’s La Cruz to the Malecon in a panoramic 900 meter long speedway.

“Although Puerto Vallarta is well known for its beaches, gastronomy and hotels, we are also a contemporary destination that attracts top productions that attract all of our niche markets with outdoor sports being a natural segment for us,” Said Alvarez Valdivia. “Downhill Puerto Vallarta will combine the spectacular scenery of the destination with one of the most innovative activities in the urban sports market resulting in a unique event in the international scene.”

Puerto Vallarta is expecting over 20 thousand visitors to arrive the weekend of May 1 when the race will take place, this will include more than 40 downhill participants, trainers, family members and officials.

In addition to an increase in hotel occupancy, the destination is also expected to increase its coverage and presence in sports-focused media such as Fox Sports and ESPN which have already confirmed coverage of the race.

Additional information on Puerto Vallarta is available at

Lucky is the visitor who is in Hong Kong during Chinese New Year, the city’s biggest and most colourful festival! From 22 January to 12 February it will be impossible not to be caught up in the excitement … festive markets brim with auspicious foods and exquisite flowers, temples are crowded as prayers for good fortune are offered, the city is adorned with shock-red banners and lanterns, there are traditional performances and images of the New Year’s symbol – this year the rooster – will be everywhere. And then, on the big night itself there’s the much-anticipated Night Parade followed by one of the world’s most spectacular fireworks displays.




In spite of its modern world-city status, Hong Kong is deeply traditional, so it comes as no surprise that the city’s New Year celebrations are like no other. Preparing for and celebrating Chinese New Year is especially rich with ancient rituals and customs. During Chinese New Year, locals gather in temples to give thanks for the past year and pray for good fortune for the new one. And of course visitors are most welcome to join them. Food is an essential part of any celebration in Hong Kong, and Chinese New Year is no exception. Traditional foods carry special meanings and are believed to bring ‘prosperity’, ‘good business’, ‘luck’ and ‘reunion’. And of course visitors are most welcome to share and sample these foods with the locals … restaurants and hotels will soon be busy preparing their special offerings.

The new year season also brings heart-pounding horse races, which are so popular with Hong Kong residents. Again visitors are more than welcome at the track. Who knows, some of that prayed-for good fortune may be realised!

To encourage visitors to explore Hong Kong and its unique culture in depth, the HKTB has shortlisted 20 auspicious attractions around the city to help them spend Chinese New Year like a local and experience the characteristics of different districts.

The excitement all over town is palpable during the New Year period, but there’s no denying the highlight is the ‘big night’ itself … this year falling on 28 January. That is when the 2017 Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade, now in its 22nd year, will take place, marking the official beginning of the Year of the Rooster. This year’s theme will be “Best Fortune. World Party” and those four little words sum the event up perfectly … fortunate are those who are there (with, it is hoped, good fortune in the coming year) at a world-class party.

The parade will feature spectacular floats and world-class performers. For almost two hours from 8 p.m. there will be music, singing and dancing to entertain both Hong Kong residents and tourists from all over the world. Starting from the Cultural Centre Piazza in Tsim Sha Tsui the parade will move along Canton Road, Haiphong Road, Nathan Road and Salisbury Road, to end outside the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers.  Along the way there will be fun-filled street parties.

Performers will include local and international talents, including stirring marching bands, dextrous cheerleaders, beautiful dance troupes and roving costumed characters to greet the crowds.  New to the parade will be the amazing “Wheelartistics Wuppertal” from Germany, the world-class marching band “Bluecoats Drum & Bugle Corps” from the USA and the extraordinary dance group known as “Giant Flowers and Butterflies” from France.

Then, when it seems as though it’s all over, it’s not all over at all.  Folks will be gathering all around Hong Kong’s famous Victoria Harbour to witness a most spectacular firework display. What location could be finer … with The Peak and Hong Kong’s glittering sky-scrapers as back drop and the dark waters of the harbour to reflect the dazzling fireworks all spectators are sure to agree: Hong Kong really is Asia’s World City, especially at Chinese New Year. Welcome to the Year of the Rooster! Check out more on