Author Archives

michellestammers

I have worked within the travel industry for over 30 years and now run my travel business from my home town, Sutton Coldfield. Running my own business allows me to offer impartial and truly independent travel advice, whatever your requirements might be. Whether it’s the trip of a lifetime, a honeymoon or a family holiday, I’d be delighted to help and will listen to your needs to create a perfectly tailored itinerary and make suggestions to enhance your trip. Would you like more time to discuss your plans and hear my suggestions? Please email or call me to arrange a free private consultation (within 10 miles of Sutton Coldfield). All holidays are ABTA and ATOL bonded via my preferred travel suppliers, so you have peace of mind that your holiday is in safe hands. Email - travelgenius@brillianttravel.co.uk ABTA - 13759 ATOL - 5346

Service Review from Mrs Curry.

“My brief to Michelle was a family adventure holiday, where we could experience some firsts, push some comfort zones and make some brilliant memories! As it has been a few years since we have been abroad, I didn’t know where to start. She came back to me straight away with an itinerary for a trip to Mexico, which delivered on every aspect of what we wanted for our trip. Michelle organised the flights, seats, transfers and hotel booking as well as advice for activities etc. Some firsts we achieved as a family were snorkelling with the local turtles, swimming with dolphins, jumping from a cliff into a cenote, visiting Mayan ruins, sitting with rescued spider monkeys, feeding manatees, even sharing a sunbed with an iguana! I’ve been so proud of my daughters (age 9 & 10) for throwing themselves into this holiday (as well as the cenotes!!) – Learning about new cultures, old cultures, wildlife, the jungle, the Caribbean Sea and themselves, too. It’s been totally awesome and we will remember it forever. Thanks Michelle for your efforts, always being there to answer my endless questions, checking we were ok and had everything we needed, and being the catalyst to making it all happen”

The Travel Genius Explores India’s Golden Triangle

Here’s my journey in images. Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and the Ranthambore National Park to see the amazing tigers!

05C6E127-3B50-46B8-A804-565D9A0CFF6F0034CA94-8441-46C3-B8BF-F1A269C0E8A860FFC27E-4B18-46E0-8265-FFD79FA3347EE6729573-3514-4D73-B9BB-E0415019032268C5D0D9-A3F1-49FD-A636-B203148E409C34E764F7-2D9D-427F-97B4-53D8CD3D86790885D2F9-FCA7-49F4-85DB-FAEEA69234292510B11B-046A-4BA5-85C7-C1DEEAFB143DBD021A8A-E757-4487-B5EC-0FB6A9C6C1D0762635AA-715C-4EBA-850E-5B031EFA751811883835-7A7A-470F-8E9D-A9408FCB94BBF7C33D3D-2729-4C57-9EFC-53515D7E23883F2B0AAA-ECAF-4EF0-91A8-8791451A879E7A85CCF9-B809-4CCE-A433-163A8865917877FCAFC3-5D5A-4EAB-846B-7BCD1076C9506D7D8798-C55B-4B81-8A28-3A331905D2B08491A3A4-2059-4981-A6A7-77AE1157E1D3855E4C9D-37D0-4758-B8A0-5CFD983DB3E54F1871D4-B568-4CB3-A512-8D3A1EEA5C739DCA71B3-3430-4456-9E35-2A74148B813850AE137C-2907-483B-9972-6DEECE2283B618B82098-67A4-4547-A819-53BFB8EAC0C2913A01B2-AF95-4B18-993D-35659B878ABE981DA5F4-C354-413A-A258-957576382B68

Top tips!

Take an umbrella to protect you from the heat.

Change your money on arrival at the airport in Delhi.

Take mosquito repellent.

Use hand wipes and anti bacterial gel constantly to protect yourself against “Delhi Belly”.

Avoid ice, salads and uncooked food.

Take a pair of binoculars to view the amazing tigers in all their glory!

Allow around £50 for tips on this trip.

Put electrolytes in your water and keep hydrated.

Pack a soft hold-all to carry back all your purchases. The shopping is amazing!

if you’d like a quote on this trip, please complete the contact form or email me.

travelgenius@brillianttravel.co.uk

The Travel Genius Explores South Africa

Read all about my my trip courtesy of Travel Weekly who accompanied our group of travel agents to explore this amazing destination.

Written by Ben Ireland, Travel Weekly

Exploring South Africa’s Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces

The phrase ‘he’s more scared of you than you are of him’ doesn’t seem to mean much, as a dominant lion strides confidently towards the jeep. With this powerful predator no more than a metre away, there is absolute silence as our group of experienced agents sits in awe of the creature ahead.

It’s that sort of tense moment that makes a safari stand out from other holidays, and makes each visit to the bush unique. Whether it’s a close encounter with a lion, leopard or cheetah, or feeling the vibrations as a herd of elephants dashes across the rough terrain, you never know which animal is around the corner.

That’s why South Africa is a safe bet for repeat visits, with plenty to persuade clients to return time after time. If they’ve ticked off Cape Town and the Garden Route, look to Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the enormous animal kingdom of Kruger National Park – the subject of our South African Tourism fam trip – to whet the appetite to go back.

Limpopo

Service stations aren’t usually a selling point, but the Alzu Petroport on the N4 motorway from Johannesburg to Limpopo is a real scene-setter. Just past the usual coffee shops and fast food outlets, you’ll see buffalo, zebra, rhino, impala and ostriches grazing at the watering hole nearby.

But it’s not until you get to a game reserve that you see the animals in full glory. Arriving at dusk at Kapama, between Blyde River Valley and Kruger National Park, there are gasps as our group – cameras at the ready – shout ‘giraffe’ and ‘zebra’ as we negotiate the off-road drive to the lodge.

Kapama is not camping, or even glamping, but rather sympathetically designed huts attracting honeymooners and even Premier League footballers during our stay. After a traditional South African boma – tables set around a roaring fireplace, with kudu steak and bobotie on the menu – and an early night, we were ready to set off on our first early-morning game drive.

“It’s important to follow the dung,” says head ranger Francois van Rhyn, as we track a white rhino. “The fresher the better. It means you know they are close by.” Minutes later, we turn the corner to find a big male rhino with a stunning horn.

He points to the battered branches of leafless trees as signs of elephants passing through, and spots ‘go away birds’ that sound like they’re telling you to get lost, yellow-billed hornbills (think Zazu from The Lion King), giraffes, impala and a pregnant hyena, which van Rhyn says is the closest he’s got to the scavenger in daylight.

There are lodges all over Limpopo, and next up was Sefapane Lodge in the Phalaborwa district, the gateway to Kruger. The pre-breakfast bush walk required another early start, but the 4.45am wake-up call is worth it to witness herds of buffalo at sunrise.

Remember to wrap up warm and dress in dark green, tan or grey to make yourself less visible to the animals. Rifle-armed rangers lead the walk as the group follows in single file, getting closer to nature than is possible on a 4×4. Guides pause to explain the finer details – why the leaves of the Mopane tree are shaped like butterflies, how people used to live off the land, and tribal burial rituals around termite hills – and our ranger even sings to the birds to encourage them out of their tree. We follow leopard footprints and, despite not finding the elusive big cat on foot, get close to baboons, elephants, zebra and impala – all before breakfast.

Sefapane also offers boat trips along the Olifants River, a laid-back experience that allows a better view of elephants in their natural habitat, and of a leopard basking atop a rock in the sun.

There are some hefty drives involved in seeing everything Limpopo has to offer, but the views are jaw-dropping, with interesting pitstops along the way. Break the journey with a visit to what’s said to be the largest boab tree in the world – more than 2,000 years old, according to local legend – and for a 5p donation, you can climb up or have a nosy inside its trunk. It’s a good chance to stretch your legs before settling in for the winding roads of the Magoebaskloof Pass, which offer stunning views en route to Tzaneen. 

Mpumalanga

You might think being in the company of lions was enough of a rush for one trip, but adrenaline junkies who want more can strap in for a scary, though stunning, zipline ride with Canopy Tours in Magoebaskloof (two and a half hours, £33). The network of 11 ziplines – between 10m and 150m long, or one and a half miles in total – straddles waterfalls, cliff edges and a river that flows in two directions.

For a gentler option, head to Pilgrim’s Rest, which wouldn’t look out of place in the American Wild West. The gold mining town, founded by Alec ‘Wheelbarrow’ Paterson, feels like a journey back in time, with wooden-fronted shops, ‘general dealer’ stores, and the chance to try gold panning. It involves getting your feet wet, but when the sand swirls away to reveal a shiny nugget of gold, it’s worth the wait.

Taking refuge at The Royal Hotel adds to the experience. It dates back more than 140 years and has the decor to match with standalone bathtubs (no showers) and candles in the rooms “in case of a power cut”. Only 80 people live in Pilgrim’s Rest, so book ahead as this town genuinely isn’t big enough for too many visitors.

When they’re ready to move on, the jaw-dropping scenery of the Panorama Route awaits. There’s the aptly named God’s Window, a perfect selfie spot at 1,500m above sea level; Bourke’s Luck Potholes, a natural rock formation with stunning views, at the meeting point of the Treur and Blyde rivers; and the jaw-dropping Lisbon Falls, where four waterfalls – the highest a whopping 95m – flow into one churning pool.

While Mpumalanga is a gateway to Kruger National Park, there are enough alternative activities to keep customers entertained. Quad biking anyone? Induna Adventures has a fleet of Grizzly 350s which can be taken out around its dirt track to spot warthogs and even crocodiles among a forest of macadamia trees (from £13 for an hour).

The real wildlife-spotting is yet to come, though, as we cross over Crocodile Bridge into Kruger National Park. Before we even check into our lodge, the group has spotted impala, wildebeest, warthogs, buffalo, rhinos, zebra, giraffes, kudu, springbok, water buck, vultures, Egyptian geese and the endangered ground hornbill, of which only 23 are known to exist in the park.

Luxury lodge Shishangeni feels at one with the nature that surrounds it. Service is splendid, with little touches like outdoor showers under the stars, a bedtime story to read, and a fire by the bath. Any special requests? Staff will ensure they’re on the next delivery.

Shishangeni doesn’t disappoint with its wildlife, either. Ranger Herold Ndhlovu asks us what we’d like to see. “Lions,” comes the unequivocal response. A brief pause, and he calmly says: “Not a problem.” We set off in our private jeep and within 25 minutes we’re tracking three dominant males. As they approach the vehicle, a stunned silence takes over and you can feel the tension in the air. “Don’t worry, they’ve had their breakfast,” says Herold.

A day of incredible moments follows, with the awkward sight of a giraffe bending its giant legs to drink from a watering hole, a zebra crossing the dirt track, and a tawny eagle flying ahead as if we’re following in hot pursuit. Then we come across something Herold has never seen in his time – two leopards, his favourite animal, mating.

South Africa’s ability to provide new experiences, even for its experienced rangers, shows why it’s the sort of destination you can send customers time and again.

Agent verdict

“Kapama Private Game Reserve’s Southern Camp is ideal for honeymooners or those looking for five-star luxury, while Sefapane River Lodge was a completely different experience with a bit more traffic, and was close to the Olifants River which allowed great game viewing without effort.”
Michelle Stammers, The Travel Genius, Sutton Coldfield


Explore East Coast Australia

Take a look at this amazing 19 night itinerary!

Sydney to Cairns with Fraser Island
19 Nights
From £2464 per person

INCLUDES
Flights with Emirates from Birmingham/Manchester/London
Co-pilot self drive kit
19 (2 nights Sydney, 13 nights self drive, 4 nights Cairns) accommodation
14 days Hertz car rental, Toyota Corolla or similar
Return Catamaran to Fraser Island
Full Day ranger guided 4WD Tour on Fraser Island

2 nights The Ultimo, Sydney

Self Drive Itinerary:
Day 1: Collect rental vehicle and depart Sydney to the Hunter Valley
1 night Leisure Inn Pokolbin Hill, one bedroom apartment
Day 2: Depart Hunter Valley to Port Stephens
1 night Marina Resort, bed and breakfast
Day 3: Depart Port Stephens to Coffs Harbour
1 night at Comfort Inn Premier, room only
Day 4: Depart Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay
2 nights at Breakfree Eco Beach, studio self catering
Day 5: Enjoy a day at leisure in Byron Bay
Day 6: Drive to Brisbane
1 night Ibis Brisbane
Day 7: Brisbane via the sunshine coast to Fraser Island
Catermaran to Fraser Island
2 nights Kingfisher Bay Resort, bed and breakfast
Day 8: Full day ranger guided 4WD tour
Day 9: Drive from Fraser Island to Barmoya (30 min North of Rockhampton) to your farmstay
1 night Henderson Park Farm Retreat, breakfast provisions and BBQ hamper dinner.
Day 10: Drive from Barmoya north to Airlie Beach for your Whitsundays experience
2 nights Mango House Resort, studio self catering
Day 11: Day at leisure to explore the Whitsundays
Day 12: Drive north to Townsville
1 night Park Regis Anchorage Townsville, room only
Day 13: Depart Townsville to Mission Beach
1 night at Licuala Lodge, bed and breakfast
Day 14: Drive from Mission Beach to Cairns. Drop off rental vehicle

4 nights Cairns at Doubletree by Hilton, bed and breakfast


So How Did I Become a Travel Expert?

Here’s My Career Story.

Left school at 16
Worked in bars and restaurants
Went to Switzerland at 18 and worked in a hotel.
Lived in London at 19 and worked in pub.
Joined Lunn Poly travel agents as an admin assistant at 21.
Travel consultant at 22.
Assistant manager at 24.
Branch manager at 25.
14 very happy years with Lunn Poly.
Became self employed and took Teletext calls to book holidays.
10 very happy years selling holidays
Specialist overseas wedding planner booking weddings abroad and travel for guests.
Finally running my own business
The Travel Genius🎉🥂
Totalling 30 years in travel
My passion always!
(I don’t miss the dodgy uniforms!)

Service Review from Mr and Mrs Payne.

To celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary Claire and Malcolm wanted me to make suggestions on a trip to Lake Garda. They loved my idea of twin centre that included 4 nights in southern Lake Garda at the resort of Desanzano which is a great base to also visit Venice and Verona and then a scenic ferry trip of the entire length of Lake Garda to conclude in the lovely northern resort of Riva. Here they will be able to enjoy hiking, cycling and Nordic walking in the foothills of the Dolomite mountains. I will also be making suggestions to book a special meal with mountain views to celebrate their anniversary.

” “Many thanks to Michelle Stammers- “The Travel Genius” for organising our holiday in Italy to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. She came up with some exciting ideas for our holiday and we were very impressed by her knowledgeable and efficient service! Malcolm and I are now really looking forward to the holiday in June”.

Service Review – Mr Andrew Beeton.

Thank you to Mr Andrew Beeton for his feedback on my services. I arranged a tailor made self drive tour of New Zealand that included all the highlights of New Zealand’s north island.

“Thanks very much to Michelle Stammers, the Travel Genius, who has provided us with a very exciting looking itinerary for the New Zealand leg of our upcoming trip Down Under. Michelle took time to understand our requirements and was happy to add in our specific requests. Communication with Michelle was excellent & the documentation provided first class”

Tromso (Norway) Review

From my lovely clients Sam and Paul from Sutton Coldfield. They wanted to see the Northern Lights and go whale watching to celebrate a special birthday.

“Well ….. our trip to Tromso – just the most amazing and emotional short break I have ever done in my life! The whale watching and northern lights have been on my wish list for as long as I can remember and I am pleased to say that neither disappointed – in fact both surpassed my expectations.

From the very beginning of my surprise present, the planning for the trip was so easy and stress free.  Your knowledge of Tromso and the excursion options was extensive and definitely invaluable whilst at all times tailored to our exact requirements, expectations and budget.  We were so grateful for the restaurant recommendation and reservations you made for us – definitely saved us wasting precious time finding somewhere to eat.  Each restaurant served amazing food in a lovely relaxed atmosphere but it ws great in that they were all very different from each other so we felt we had a good mix of what Tromso cuisine had to offer.  

The hotel was perfect – brilliantly positioned, truly amazing views and had a great atmosphere in the restaurant and bar – would definitely stay there again and recommend to others.

The catamaran journey out through the fjords was just breathtaking and really quite surreal in the moody twilight of midday.

The aurora safari was so exciting – literally chasing them further north and then to the east and after a few sightings in different locations – just incredible and awesome.     

The husky sled experience was really great fun – the dogs were amazing and the 2 hour journey through the mountains was so peaceful and beautiful.  

We have already had no hesitation in recommending you to lots of our family and friends  – I am pleased to say we speak so highly of you and the service you have given.  You have been invaluable in helping to fulfil some of my lifelong dreams – thank you!    

THANK YOU MICHELLE – very special memories never to be forgotten and always treasured. 

I am sure we will be in touch again – there’s still a huge mount of our amazing world to be seen……………..  

Kindest regards

Sam.”

A Christmas Message 🎄

So here we are nearly at the end of 2018. Thank you to all of my clients that booked trips with me. I hope I made your holiday dreams come true. It’s so very exciting for me to help each and every one of my clients to travel to amazing destinations. This year I’ve booked trips to:

Lapland, New Zealand, Mexico, Mauritius, Dubai, Ski France, Ski Austria, South Africa, Sri Lanka, India, Peru, UK, Seychelles, Maldives, Norway, Caribbean cruise, China, Japan, Canada, Brazil, Morocco, Dubai, European rail tour and lots more! 

So where are you planning to travel to in 2019? Let me help you plan your next trip.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!