Monthly Archives: June 2017

Touring Croatia Game of Thrones locations

The cult-like grip of HBO’s blood-and-lust fantasy series has drawn veritable Dothraki hordes of fans to the Croatian sites where large chunks of seasons two through six were filmed. The Dalmatian coast’s walled towns and fortresses provide the perfect backdrop for flights of fancy, whether your passion is for the actual bloodthirsty events of history or the dragon-augmented version offered by Game of Thrones.

 

Maraud through the streets of King’s Landing in Dubrovnik

An absolute must-see (and not just for Thrones fans), Dubrovnik’smarble streets and honey-coloured battlements jutting over azure waters made it an obvious choice for King’s Landing. Before you even set foot in the historic Old Town you’ll run a gauntlet of touts selling Thrones-themed tours, many of which are extremely entertaining.

If you’d rather indulge in your own Walk of Shame, start with a whizz around the mighty city walls, where Tyrion Lannister saved the fictional city during the Battle of the Blackwater. Along the way look out for Minčeta Tower, which was used for the exterior shots of Qarth’s House of the Undying, where Daenerys Targaryen retrieves her dragons at the end of season two.

Many scenes were filmed in the Old Town’s cobbled maze of lanes. The area around the Dominican Monastery was used for crowded market scenes, while Cersei Lannister started her naked penitential walk on the stairs leading from the St Ignatius of Loyola Church to Gundulić Square. If you fancy a visit to Littlefinger’s brothel it’s easily arranged, although you may be disappointed to find that it actually houses a rather earnest Ethnographic Museum. Meanwhile, the Rector’s Palacewas such a good fit for the atrium of the Spice King of Qarth’s palace that they didn’t even bother removing the 17th-century statue of Dubrovnik citizen Miho Pracat.

Exit the Old Town via Pile Gate and duck down the stairs to the sheltered little harbour – a location instantly recognisable as the departure and posthumous returning point for Cersei and Jaime Lannister’s daughter Myrcella. Towering above is Fort Lawrence, Kings Landing’s legendary Red Keep. A few hundred metres further along is Gradac Park, the site of the Purple Wedding feast where super-brat Joffrey discovered that kingship really can be a poisoned chalice.

 

Ascend the Iron Throne on Lokrum Island

A 10-minute ferry ride from Dubrovnik’s Old Harbour lands you on the island of Lokrum, where Daenerys Targaryen was welcomed to Qarth in a scene set in the cloister of the island’s former Benedictine monastery. The monastery now houses a Game of Thrones exhibition with displays about the filming and a replica Iron Throne awaiting your most imperious selfie pose.

The perfect African adventure for families

With easy access to wildlife, the world’s largest sandpit to explore, well-managed tourist access to local tribes and fewer potential health risks than elsewhere on the continent, Namibia has much to recommend it to families seeking a safe African adventure.

Sure, there are long distances to be covered on gravel roads, accommodation does get booked up quickly and anti-malarials can be on the cards if you go to Namibia at certain times of the year, but all these obstacles can be surmounted with some sensible planning.

 

Wildlife watching is child’s play

Namibians are rightly proud of how incredibly easy it is to see wildlife all over their country, and your children will love being able to spot herds of zebras, wildebeests and springboks during a long day’s driving. But for a family safari, nothing compares to visiting the astounding national park of Etosha in Namibia’s north. With a well-established self-drive infrastructure, it allows you to bring your hire car inside and go at a pace that works for your children (shorter and more frequent wildlife drives usually keep little ones happy) and crucially you can return to the rest camps for comfort breaks without having to disrupt anyone else’s viewing. You can also use books, snacks and games to keep small people entertained when they’ve had enough but you want to keep going.

However, what makes Etosha really perfect for families are the accessible, safe and floodlit watering holes located in rest camps which attract so many of the local wildlife, especially at night. Elsewhere in Africa the wildlife watching tends to end when you are back at camp, in Etosha it’s just getting going. Okaukuejo Camp is particularly known for the atmospheric encounters at its watering hole around sunset, and for that extra-special frisson of excitement the park offers guided night drives too (with a minimum age of six).

Tip: George, nine years old, recommends taking wildlife books so you can become an expert at identifying the different antelopes and the beautiful variety of birdlife you see.