My G Adventures experience

The view from Victoria Falls

As many of you might have read by now, I went on my recent (and incredible) Africa adventure with a Canadian tour company called G Adventures. While I have shared a lot about the trip overall, I haven’t really talked about the experience with G Adventures and why I decided to travel with them in the first place.

I have actually done group tours in the past. I travelled to Europe with Contiki, Greece with the Yacht Week, and even some more local Canadian Tours. However, for a place that is so special and close to my heart I wanted to make sure I went with a group that would make sure I a special experience.

How I discovered G Adventures 

Like many of you, I have heard the stats, South Africa isn’t necessarily the safest place in the world to travel. Between the crime rates and the fact that I didn’t want to have to drive through the Kruger and run in to lions on my own, were the main factors I wanted to do a group tour in the first place.

After hours and hours of researching “South African Safari Group Tours” (trust me there are endless options) I landed on G Adventures. I had heard of them before, particularly because they were Canadian. But I didn’t actually know too much about their trips.

Endless options 

The first thing that struck me was the variety that they offered. We knew we wanted to travel to South Africa, we didn’t know we would have so many options. We could chose either just a tour of the Kruger, Kruger and Cape Town, Kruger and Zimbabwe, or all three options. We had discussed going to see Victoria Falls so being able to book our dream trip with one tour company was a huge plus for us.

Discovering local communities

The second thing that stood out for me was the opportunity to explore the local culture. So many of the trips I have done with tour groups in the past have either revolved round amazing parties or visiting tourist attractions. Both are amazing don’t get me wrong, but the thing I love most about travel is getting to learn about the different cultures and having a more local experience.

On the tour we chose, there was an opportunity to have dinner with a homestead in Zimbabwe. Flatter welcomed us in to her home, fed us local homemade cuisine from her garden, and told us stories about life in their small town. It was amazing to hear authentic stories from a local and be able to share a traditional meal. 

The belief in responsible tourism

The third part that I loved about traveling with G Adventures is their commitment to responsible tourism. G Adventures believes that we can save the planet through travel. 

Recently they launched the new Ripple Score. The Ripple Score calculates how much money is spent in each designation of the tour and then calculates what percentage goes back to local businesses or services. The more the money stays local, the better the ripple effect. G Adventures actually averages a 92% meaning that the majority of the money spent stays in local communities and helps them strive. 

They also focus on other areas of responsible tourism by donating to wildlife and child care programs as well as their Planettera Foundation. 

When we were on our tour we had someone from the Wild Cat Foundation coming in and give us a talk about the diminishing number of cheetahs in the wild. We had a chance to learn all about these beautiful animals and find out how they are working with G Adventures to make sure we can continue to see cheetahs in their natural habitat. It was truly inspiring. 

Traveling with a local guide makes a difference

The fourth and final reason I loved traveling with G Adventures was the local aspect. On tours I have done in the past, the guides are extremely knowledgable, but none have actually been from the country I was visiting. When we were in South Africa, our guide was local from the area. When we took the flight to Zimbabwe, we met another guide who was from the town of Victoria Falls. 

I loved traveling with local guides because they really knew the area, made me feel safe, and could answer most of the questions I had. They were also able to share stories of growing up in the country and teach us what life is like in that town. It really made the experience unforgettable. 

Traveling with G Adventures was a truly memorable and amazing experience. I was able to create once in a life time memories, make new friends, and learn about the culture and lifestyle of the places I was visiting from the locals. I cannot wait to book my next adventure with the team. 

In the meantime happy exploring my friends, 

xo 
Mia 

Mia goes M.I.A. Vlog: South Africa Safari

I have shared some of my South Africa  experience with on the blog. One of the highlights of my two week adventure with G Adventures was several safaris. We had a chance to visit both the Kruger and a private game reserve called Karongwe Portfolio.

I wanted to share the video with you of some of the amazing animals we saw along the way

 

Why you need to visit Phoenix’s growing craft brewery scene

With the warmer weather finally here, I am sure that patio beers are on your mind. When I visited Phoenix, Arizona I was surprised to find out that their craft brewery scene was as hot as the weather.  In fact, at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival in Denver (basically the oscars of beer) four Phoenix breweries took home awards.

In the last year or so, the city has seen a run of craft beer bars, new breweries, and new local brews popping up all over the area. The total craft breweries in Phoenix surpasses 50, and so I just had to check some of them out for myself.

I joined forces with Arizona Brewery Tours. I really loved working with AZ brewery tours because they offer private brewery tours that fit your particular taste buds and beer preferences.

Stop #1: Helton Brewing Company

Our first stop of the night lead us to Helton Brewing Company, a cozy newly renovated brewery located in an old tire warehouse. The spot includes a beautiful outdoor beer garden, games, live music, and of course an endless drink menu. I loved that the fact the owner of the brewery created most of the furniture inside by hand and really cares about the product he produces. My personal favourite drink was the IPA, a perfect balance between citrus, floral, and fruit. Enjoy it with their delicious shrimp watermelon salad.

Stop #2: Mother Brunch

Next up was Mother Brunch. A fun family run brewery with a chalk list filled with their hand crafted beers. Julie and her husband William are serious beer nerds, and that shows clearly in their delicious drinks. What I really loved about this spot was the combination of delicious drinks and comfort food. The contemporary pub food has a unique twist. You must try the jalapeño infused mac and cheese. You will be licking your plate clean.

Stop #3: North Mountain Brewery

The last stop on the trip was North Mountain Brewery. This place is like a real life Cheers, the set where everyone knows your name. NMB celebrates the history and art of the Arizona desert culture. The decoration of this cozy microbrewery celebrates the history of brewing, and how the creation of beer has brought societies together. The goal here was to create a community feel, and they hit the nail on the head.

I was blown away by the quality of the breweries in Phoenix. Each one had its own personality and speciality that made each one unique. I wish I had more time to explore and discover the amazing breweries spread throughout the town.

Why Phoenix is the best spot for your next girls trip

I had always known the beauty of Arizona. From the stunning landscapes, the depths of the grand canyon, the colours of Horseshoe Bend, but I had always thought of Phoenix as a place where my parents would go for spa days and tee-off times. I was wrong. On a recent trip with some friends to Phoenix, I realized there is so much more to this city. Mixed in-between the desert sands and mountain range, is a bustling nightlife, craft breweries, and adventure that this is the perfect spot for your next girls weekend.

Sure, usually my ladies weekends are a trip away to Vegas or New Orleans. Yet in 48 hours with two close friends, we discovered all that Phoenix has to offer with the help of Visit Phoenix.

The stay

There are so many adorable boutique hotels in the heart of Phoenix, but during this trip we decided to stay a little outside of the hustle. We decided to check into Civana, located in the adorable town of Carefree and trust me the name says it all. This brand new wellness resort is a place of total R&R.

From the moment you walk inside the doors, you know this is a special place. Friendly staff, beautiful mountain views, and a stunning salt water pool surrounded by natural vegetation. It was truly beautiful.

The resort  believes in healing through movement. Civana offers complimentary daily programs including yoga, juice making classes, and local hiking, which I sure took full advantage of. It really has unique activities to fit whatever journey you are hoping for.

There are also plenty of other amenities on site that ensure a relaxing and rejuvenating stay. From their world class spa, to farm to table fine class dining this is spot is the perfect combination of luxury and wellness.

You can find out more about this beautiful resort on their website; https://www.civanacarefree.com/

 

What to do

trying to fit everything Phoenix has to offer into 48 hours was a whirlwind, but we honestly got to see and discover so many unique activities. Here are so of my top things to do with your girlfriends in Phoenix.

1) Enjoy some local brews

What I didn’t know about Phoenix is that it has over 50 craft breweries. We joined forced with Arizona Brewery Tours to discover some of the best spots in town to grab a cold one. What I loved about AZ Brew Tours, is they can organize private tours that fit your beer preferences, and they also provide a party bus from stop to stop.

The three stops we visited during the trip included the rustic “Beer Garage” at Helton Brewery, the open kitchen at Mother Brunch, and the funky North Mountain Brewery. I will have more on the specific breweries in an upcoming blog, but in the meantime you can find out more about Arizona Brewery Tours here;

2) Take a cactus selfie at the Gardens

Sure, Phoenix is filled with wonderful hiking trails, but where can you find and learn about all of the plants in one spot? the Desert Botanical Garden. They really create a world class experience through their exhibits, giving each guest the chance to discover and learn about the desert life. Have a chance to meet one of the gardeners and ask questions about the flowers and vegetation, get up close and personal with some flutter friends at the butterfly sanctuary, and take in the local art. This place is definitely a must see.

3) Tea time with a twist

Visit the Camby hotel for a modern twist on Tea Time, in what we like to call a Tipsy Tea Party. Sip on classic teas like English Breakfast or Earl Grey infused with spirt and sparkling wine. The teas were delicious and refreshing. The drinks are also served with some favourite tea time snacks and a surprise sweet treats to finish off the night. It is the perfect afternoon treat for you and your girlfriends.

4) Take to the Skies

Ever wanted to know what it feels like to fly? What Phoenix looks like from a birds point of view? For as long as I can remember a hot air balloon ride had been on top of my bucket list, and I had heard Phoenix was the perfect place to make that dream come true. We woke up bright and early and joined Hot Air Expeditions for an high flying adventure. The views of the desert, mountains, and lakes was spectacular. We landed our balloon in the middle of the desert and had breakfast, complete with mimosas to cap off an incredible day.

5) Relax and unwind at the spa

Alright, there are plenty of adventures in Phoenix, but it is important to find some time to relax and unwind also. Phoenix has some of the best spas in the world, why not take full advantage. We stayed local and got a spa service at Civana. I enjoyed an amazing double exfoliating facial. It was the perfect way to finish the trip.

I learned something new about Phoenix on this trip. That beyond the beautiful exterior landscapes, there is a whole city filled with life waiting to be explored. For outdoor lovers to cocktail connoisseurs, there is something for everyone I will definitely be planning plenty of girls trips here in the future.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

Here are a few more snaps from Phoenix

48 Hours in Phoenix, Arizona: Vlog part 1

“great things never come from comfort zones”

April has been one of the busiest months of my life with work. Three home games for the Saskatchewan Rush, meant plenty of travel back and forth to Saskatoon. During our one bye week, all I wanted to do was sleep in my own bed until noon each day, but what would be the fun in that.

Instead an opportunity came up to hit the road yet again, but this time to Phoenix,  Arizona. What I knew about Phoenix was that it is desert terrain, it is hot, and it has great golf courses.

What I didn’t know about Phoenix was it has such a unique nightlife. It has an incredible craft brewery scene, a beautiful botanical garden, and is one of the best places in the world to fly a hot air balloon.

Guess what? On this trip I discovered it all. I will be sharing this trip with you through blogs and videos. My first vlog from the trip discovers the wellness resort, Civana Carefree that I had a chance to stay at, the beautiful hikes in the area, and a local brewery tour with Arizona Brewery Tours . 

Also don’t forget to subscribe to my youtube page so you don’t miss any of my future vlogs and travel tips!

xo

Mia