Cheeky views and eco-tours: travel news from Sydney to South America

GEAR: Undercover views
New York, Paris, LA – you’ve been around, so let your knickers do the talking with prints of these iconic cities. Cheeky Australian design company Stonemen has teamed up with artists and photographers across the world to splash their work across our derrieres. The digitally printed, 360-degree underwear is seamless, which means no lines interrupting your view of LA. The fabric is 95 per cent cotton and 5 per cent elastane. Men’s boxer, brief and trunk cost $44.99 each, women’s brief and cheeky cost $39.99 each. See

AIRPORT: Help for the harried
Sociable Sydney loves to make friends, right from the moment you hit the tarmac, with Sydney Airport’s ambassador program, which has been operating since 1999. The volunteer ambassadors now sport smart blue uniforms inspired by our blue skies and harbour, and can check real-time flight information and tap into language translation applications on their new iPad minis. The ambassadors are found in T1 and T2, and can also help with departure cards and directions to taxis and trains. The team will be bolstered by another 50 Mandarin-speaking Red Ambassadors over the Christmas and Lunar New Year periods to welcome an influx of Chinese tourists. Download the Sydney Airport app for flight information and to find out about becoming an ambassador at

TOUR: A cause for paws
If tracking jaguars deep in the Costa Rican jungle sounds like your cup of adrenaline, use your eco-passion for good and join a volunteer project that helps protect the endangered big cats’ environment. The projects, which run from two to 12 weeks, are based in a research station in Jalova, in Tortuguero National Park, reached only by boat. Day-to-day activities might include setting remote tracking cameras to collate data, monitoring jaguars’ prey and exploring their hunting grounds – the rainforests and beaches of Central America. Jaguar populations in the Americas have plunged from 400,000 to around 14,000 in the past 60 years, and GVI has been organising volunteer work abroad since 1997. Jaguar conservation programs cost from $1995 a person, two weeks. Call 1300 795 013, see

GEAR: Hidden lens
Discerning thieves love it when you advertise whether you’re packing a Canon or Nikon. Instead, sling this courier-style bag across your body and keep your preferences to yourself. The Sling III packs a compact DSLR camera, an extra lens, phone and a padded pocket to fit a 10-inch tablet. The pocket is suspended within the bag, providing protection for when you drop the bag on a table or floor, while the outside pockets can fit a water bottle or energy snacks that will keep you shooting from sunrise to sunset. Internally, the inserts can be moved to custom-fit your camera and keep extra lenses snugly safe, an interior mesh stops keys and pens from wandering and it comes with a removable shoulder pad. Rip out the inserts and it’s just a damned handy bag. The LowePro Passport Sling III costs $99.95. See

FOOD: Chef leads a culinary safari
Join chef Martin Boetz, of Longrain restaurant fame, on a culinary tour of South Africa. The German-born chef will lead a small tour of up to 10 guests on a 15-day tour through the country. The journey starts in Johannesburg with a stay at the boutique Ten Bompas hotel, and highlights including the Soweto township followed by a four-day safari. Expect cooking classes and foraging for the kitchen in a three-day stay in the wine lands of Franschhoek, soaking up luxury accommodation and award-winning food at Le Quartier Français hotel and the fruits of the earth with a coveted seat at Babel Restaurant. The culinary adventure wraps up in Cape Town with shopping and, of course, dining from the city’s best tables. Departs March 2015, prices to be confirmed. See

KIDS: Floating arcade to Tassie
Test the waters as a cruising family with a mini-cruise – no passports required – when you journey to Tasmania on the Spirit of Tasmania. Aside from the regular features of cinema, games arcade and Pirate Pete’s Playroom for younger kids, summer day sailings include face painting, trivia, discoes and Tassie wildlife stories. Kids also get a free activity pack. The day sailing season runs from December 20 until April 13, 2015. Costs from $86 adults/$35 children from February to April, or $41/$101 in December and January. Phone 1800 634 906, see

Edited by Belinda Jackson, Takeoff is published in the Sun-Herald's Traveller section every Sunday.

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