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posted by TravAddict on March 19, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAmazing sights and scenery await people that take the dive into the cool waters of the Caribbean. You should definitely prepare to have your mind blown by what you may encounter. Consider visiting these five Caribbean diving and snorkeling sites for some unforgettable fun and excitement.

Sting Ray City, Grand Cayman Island

If you’ve ever dreamed of feeding sting rays with your own hands, then Sting Ray City welcomes you with open arms. This location, known all over the world, entices visitors to swim and snorkel with Sting Rays. The friendly sting rays gladly put on a show for all to see and enjoy. The delightful journey will produce lasting memories for you and your family.

Walker’s Cay at Nassau, Bahamas

At Nassau, Bahamas visitors get up close and personal with reef sharks. Those who dream of adventure will find their calling here. The Caribbean reef shark is one of the friendliest sharks you will ever meet. Your dive guide will help you to feed the shark and interact with it in an amazing way. Your diving itinerary must include a stop at Walker’s Cay in order to be complete.

The Duane at Key Largo, Florida

Many people dream of exploring a sunken ship. This dream becomes a reality at Key Largo. The Duane, a huge ship purposely sunk by the U.S. Coast Guard as an artificial reef, is home to many different colors of corals and sponges. The marine life remains on the sunken ship, especially on the railings. You will get to explore the ship and all of its surroundings during an exciting dive.

Green Outhouse Wall at Roatan, Honduras

Roatan, one of the islands of Honduras, encourages visitors with plenty of great diving activities. A canyon with brain coral, sea fans, and more inspires awe in all divers. An increasing number of tropical fish make their way to the area, and sea turtles are becoming more common. This site is a rare treat to behold.

Cow and Calf Rocks at the U.S. Virgin Islands

The biggest attraction here is the natural arches you can swim through. The ledges attached to the reef depict stunning beauty that can’t be found anywhere else. You never know when you may stumble upon some truly fascinating marine wildlife. There is plenty to see at this particular diving site, and your whole family should find something they enjoy.

The Caribbean houses many of the best diving sites in the world. The five sites listed here are some of the best, but there are also others that you could explore.

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posted by TravAddict on February 27, 2014

SEA LION 3Ecotourism welcomes you to see the natural wonders of the earth that have remained largely untouched by human hands. At present, these destinations are usually much more affordable than typical mass consumer tourism sites. However, the popularity of Ecotourism is on the rise, we suggest experiencing some of the top Ecotourism destinations now, before they start to change to accommodate the masses.  Check out these five particular locations if you are interested in learning more about ecotourism.

Galapagos Islands

Located off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands house numerous protected species of animals and sections of lands. The Ecuadorian government made all of the islands into a National Park, except for the areas where people already inhabited the lands. Some of the most impressive sights here include the Marine iguana, Galapagos sea lions, and the blue-footed booby. This preserved land is a real treat for visitors. You won’t believe all the cool photo opportunities until you arrive.

Costa Rica

An important scientific community, the New Economics Foundation, recently named Costa Rica the greenest country on earth. 25 percent of the country’s land mass is protected, with several National Parks scattered in various areas. One of those parks, Corcovado National Park, is known all over the world for its rich biodiversity. You can find red-eyed tree frogs, rare butterflies, and hundreds of other rare species. They remain undisturbed in their natural habitats, which makes them a joy to see for ecotourism enthusiasts.

Maldives

If marine ecology is your thing, then you should book a trip to Maldives for your next ecotourism vacation. Maldives waters are famous for coral reef systems that produce awe-inspiring colors. You can also find tremendous species of fish along the coast, with about 110 types of fish swimming in the cool waters. You can also see large populations of crabs, shrimp, mollusks, and more. If you love the water, this will be one ecotourism trip you’ll remember for a lifetime.

Kenya

Kenya is known as one of the most diverse countries for biology in Africa and in the entire world. It’s easy to see why. The lush rain forests of the Kakamega Forest Reserves entice visitors to spend a few days exploring the vast wilderness. If you’ve never been to a rain forest, you are in for a stunning surprise. Animals and plants of many colors, shapes, and sizes await your discovery.

Kerala, India

If you’ve been longing to go to India, now is your chance to see some amazing plants and animals. Rajamala National Park is home to the endangered mountain goats in India. You can also find nearly 25 percent of the entire country’s plant species there. This area has been called “God’s Own Country.” It’s easy to see why this name was earned once you visit.

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posted by TravAddict on February 20, 2014

sigasoraWe’re chatting with Sarah Field, destination manager and ex-tour leader at Tucan Travel about two new Eastern Europe tours that have been launched for the 2014 Europe summer. She speaks about her research trip to Romania to develop the award-winning Transylvania Tale tour – a two week tour from Budapest to Istanbul exploring citadels, fortified churches and Dracula’s castle – and her recent trip to the Baltic cities of Tallinn, Vilnius and Riga and how the area surprised her.

 

What gave you the idea to develop the Transylvania Tale?

The tour is part of a longer trip that starts all the way up in Russia, so passengers have the option to join the full two-month expedition or smaller sections. The last section from Budapest to Istanbul didn’t really do the area justice, so it was decided to lengthen the tour and explore more of Romania and give people the chance to see something a little bit different. The new tour also includes more time in Bulgaria, specifically Plovdiv which is home to a vast Roman amphitheatre.

What are your impressions of Romania as a travel destination?

My first impression of the place is that there is so little English spoken. People are very friendly and welcoming, but they speak little or no English and there are generally no English menus. There is a lot of sign language that goes on! The locals are not yet used to foreign visitors; it’s refreshing when compared to the very well-visited Western European countries.

What are your recommendations to travellers to Romania?

Romanians are unlikely to approach you and are fairly reserved, but if you make an effort to approach them they are generally very helpful and kind. If you can, it is very useful to learn some words in Romanian and also have a few food words written down to help decipher menus.

Did anything surprise you about Romania?

The cities were lovely; I was half expecting bleak ex-communist places but they were very pretty. Brasov is an attractive city with gothic and renaissance buildings and churches. Sighisoara really is the most beautiful medieval city. On the tour, we have arranged to stay inside the citadel where you have a view down into the rest of the town and the river. From Sighisoara you can take a trip out to Viscri which is one of the world’s best preserved medieval villages. Also, the fortified churches at Viscri and Prejmer were like nothing I had seen anywhere in the world. They are churches with space for the village to go inside and live during a siege. The one in Prejmer is huge and the walls surrounding the church are hollow as people would live inside them during times of war.

Fortified Church at Viscri

Fortified Church at Viscri

What were your highlights of the Baltic Capitals?

The highlight for me was Estonia. Tallinn has stunning medieval cobbled streets and is quite small for a capital city. The old town of Tallinn is just how you’d imagine a medieval city to be with parts of the old walls intact and a main square lined with cafes and shops. It also has one of the most famous medieval-style restaurants called Olde Hansa. This restaurant uses traditional medieval recipes and everything is prepared in an authentic medieval way. You eat by candlelight and the ambience is like nothing I’ve experienced elsewhere.

dinner at Olde Hansa

A traditional stroganoff with barley, pickles, potato in pastry and lentils

After Tallinn, I would probably say my next highlight was the KGB museum in Vilnius which is an included excursion on the tour. This place really affected me. One of the reasons was the local guide – he fought against the communists and was involved in the final shootout in the very building where the KGB museum is housed.  His parents were also part of the resistance and his son is studying history to ensure what happened in the area never happens again. The building itself is an old office block with cells underneath it where political prisoners were taken for torture. It was in the middle of the city right under everyone’s noses and they would monitor people that walked outside the building. Even walking on the street outside too often could implicate you, such was the level of their suspicion and paranoia.

kgp cell

Cell in the KGB Museum in Vilnius

Anything else you’d like to add?

Travel with an open mind. These places are amazing and completely distinct to other European countries, so go and enjoy them for what they are before the tourists move in. Don’t think just because they were once behind the iron curtain that there’s nothing but communist concrete here. Their history is so much older than that and is truly beautiful. 

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posted by TravAddict on February 12, 2014

very hungry nomadsWhen I traveled through Europe I made friends with fellow traveler Marty, a local Eastern European spending her time showing travelers her homeland, and doing a really good job at it:-)  Martina and I have always kept in touch, and when I heard that she and fellow traveler Rach had started a travel website based around food tours, I was extremely excited.  I know first hand that these girls are true foodies, and have a special talent for seeking out the best places to find authentic local food in any city.  

Very Hungry Nomads is the name of their website, and between them Marty and Rach have traveled to around 100 countries!  Needless to say, their worldwide food knowledge is very extensive.

Meet Marty and Rach:

marty and rach
 

‘We believe that cooking and eating in a foreign country is truest way to its soul.  We know that food brings people together, and even if you can’t speak the local language, everyone is understood when food is present; a smile, a nod and a rub of the tummy is all you need to show your appreciation of a good meal.’

Very Hungry Nomads was created to help travelers leave behind the tourist traps when it comes to food, and get involved with authentic food experiences offered by locals.  The website offers an easy search function, with tours ranging from cooking classes in Thailand, tapas tours in Spain, wine tasting in France,  and so much more.

Marty and Rach have personally sourced the vendors they work with, and make a point to focus on small, independent businesses around the World, so you are supporting the “little guys” when you book a tour them.

thai cooking

Cooking class in Thailand – Mastering the quick way of Thai cooking with the wok

China making noodles

Cooking class in China – getting amongst it & learning how to make noodles

‘It truly gives us the greatest satisfaction to support local people who chose to follow their passion for food and turn it into a thriving business.’

So, if you are interested in indulging in authentic local cuisine next time you travel, make sure you check out Very Hungry Nomads to enhance your trip with an unforgettable food experience.  After all, who wouldn’t want to sample the best chocolates in France, learn to cook a curry in India, or be shown the best street-eats by a local in Shanghai!

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posted by TravAddict on January 30, 2014

GE 234There are plenty of great destinations for people who want to taste local quality beer when they travel.  If you are a traveler whose priority is to taste the local brews, almost all destinations worldwide offer a tasty local beer to keep you satisfied, so listing just 5 cities is difficult, but we have chosen 5 of our favorites:

Munich, Germany

Let’s start with the obvious!  Munich is known all over the world as a haven for beer lovers, and it’s easy to see why. Thousands of people from around the world gather each year for Oktoberfest, which is a celebration of all things barely, hops, and water. Many breweries in Germany still believe that these are the only three ingredients necessary for a tasty brew, and it’s hard to argue against that point. Beer lovers definitely should make a trip to Munich at least once in their lives, and if you can manage to get the timing right, a visit during Oktoberfest is an amazing experience for a beer lover.

Tokyo, Japan

Even though the city isn’t the best value for your money in general terms, there is plenty of tasty and very affordable beer to be found. The local bars and vendors try to supply beer that is similar to western tastes, but you should indulge in the local offerings while you’re in the area. You may be surprised at how full and deep the flavors are in local Japanese beers. You can even get beer out of the vending machines located in the streets, and no identification is required.  The unique vending machine experience is the main reason Tokyo made this list!

Dublin, Ireland

Known all over the world as the exporter of Guinness, Dublin is a paradise on earth for beer lovers. There are literally hundreds of pubs located in the city offering special beers exclusive to those pubs. The beer may be a bit pricey, but you will get your fill in the midst of hundreds of happy locals. Drinking beer is one of the biggest pastimes of Irish people. They are proud of the flavors of their brews, and they will boast about the quality of their local pubs, and always be happy to make a recommendation for the next pub you should visit.

Sao Paolo, Brazil

South America has its own zest when it comes to beer. Sao Paolo in Brazil combines the flare of South American culture with beer that bursts with flavor. The dance clubs are packed with people enjoying local brews while dancing the night away. You will definitely experience some nights to remember, especially if you love to indulge in a little partying while experiencing the local brew.

Grand Rapids, Michigan

North America has become renowned for their micro brews over the past 10 years, and Grand Rapids hosts a festival every year where people can go to over 50 restaurants and breweries. The chefs specialize in dishes infused with craft beer made from the local breweries. You can also take cheap tours of some of the finest breweries in Grand Rapids. There are certain craft beers located here that you would never be able to taste at other locations, so it is well worth the trip.

It’s easy to find good beer in many places throughout the world. Beer is an item that many cultures have in common regardless of their differences. The best part is trying beer from a new culture and appreciating their interpretation of what a good beer should be.

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posted by TravAddict on January 18, 2014

YosemiteNorth America is a vast continent that offers plenty of exciting choices for those who enjoy hiking. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an advanced trail-walker; you will be able to find trails that appeals to you.  Many tours to USA and Canada incorporate hiking in their itineraries, as it is a popular way to explore some of the scenic highlights. A few of our favorite hiking regions:

Arches National Park

Moab, Utah is the site of one of the most magnificent hiking treasures in the entire world. Over 2,000 sand arches fill the dessert countryside in this picturesque hiking haven. If you’re a true fan of natural beauty, you will be impressed by what you see. The trails are suitable for hikers of all experience levels, so it is a great destination for groups with differing physical abilities when it comes to hiking.

Killarney Park

Many hikers in Ontario, Canada dream of hiking at Killarney Park. The most famous hiking landscapes in Canada can be found there. The Granite Ridge Trail has often been featured on postcards, and you’ll see the appeal when you go in person. The la Cloche Mountains, are one of the premiere sets of hiking mountains in the entire world. A visit here will satisfy your hiking needs and raise your expectations to new heights.

John Muir Trail

This trail in Yosemite National Park in California is named after conservationist and environmentalist John Muir. This is an interesting and unusual hiking trail for a few reasons. The first is that the crest of the peak is mostly at a high elevation, while other crests aren’t quite as high. It’s also a unique place because it’s best to hike between June and September due to snow on the higher peaks.

Cape Breton National Highlands Park

On the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada sits Cape Breton Highlands National Park. This stunning place offers scenic images of crashing waves against the coastal shores. Sunrise and sunset are particularly good times to see everything this place has to offer. The canyon is the perfect place to stop for a break and snap some photographs. These pictures are the ones you’ll put closer to the front of your travel scrapbooks.

Denali National Park

In order to tame some of the most rugged terrains of Alaska, you’ll need to have at least some experience as a hiker. There aren’t many trails carved out here. You’ll have to navigate the mountains on your own. This is the perfect opportunity for hikers to test their abilities on some truly challenging mountains. Once you get to the top, you will know you have achieved something special.

Hiking trails are abundant in many parts of the USA and Canada. You’ll be able to quench your thirst for adventure with every step you take if you plan your trip around the hiking trails in each region you visit.

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posted by TravAddict on January 10, 2014

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAntarctica is a picturesque and exotic destination that few travelers have the opportunity to visit; however, one-of-a-kind wildlife and incomparable scenery make this destination a favorite for those seeking an extraordinary adventure. Cheap tours to Antarctica can be difficult to find, so planning ahead and researching options are important factors when planning a trip.

Getting There

The most popular way to visit Antarctica is via cruise ship. Visitors will need to fly to one of several departure points which include Tierra del Fuego, Argentina; Punta Arenas, Chile; or the Falkland Islands’ Port Stanley. When choosing a ship, it’s important to remember that the number of daily visitors to Antarctica are limited, so the smaller the ship size, the more time allotted for off-shore excursions. Direct tourist flights to base camp are available from cities in Australia, South Africa and Chile; however, air travel can be unpredictable as weather conditions can make it difficult to travel to and from Antarctica.

When to Visit

The best time to visit Antarctica is dependent on each traveler’s individual interests. Visitors wishing to see the wildlife should visit between late November and March. November is the best time for bird watching, and penguins are out in full force; seal pups and penguin chicks are born between December and January, and these months are popular for visitors wishing to see the arrival of new life in this frozen land. Not long after the baby animals arrive, whale sightings peak between February and March. Alternatively, visitors who are more interested in the fauna and ice formations should visit during the spring when wildflowers are in bloom and the warming temperatures form sculptural elements in the abundant ice.

South Georgia

A long and slender island in Antarctica, South Georgia boasts two scenic mountain ranges for visitors along with a dense population of wildlife. Visitors will find king penguins, macaroni penguins and seals inhabiting this island which is 75% covered by glaciers, ice and snow. St. Andrews Bay and surrounding beaches are home to the albatross. Another point of interest is the South Georgia Museum where visitors can learn about the history of the land and its wildlife.

Antarctic Peninsula

Many of the most visited points can be found on the Antarctic Peninsula including the scenic Lemaire Channel, a slim ocean passageway between the Peninsula and Booth Island surrounded by steep and stunning cliffs. The British Survey Base Port Lockroy which was once used as a whaling station is now home to an educational museum and is a designated historic site. Also found on the peninsula is Esperanza Base, a fascinating permanent settlement in this frozen environment.

Antarctica is one of the most isolated travel destinations in the world, and travelers to this picturesque land of snow and ice are rewarded with an unforgettable journey. Whether visiting for the wildlife, the history or simply for bragging rights, this unique destination has a lot to offer.

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posted by TravAddict on December 18, 2013

Mount Fuji in Fall VIIThough volcanoes are often associated with their eruptions, they are otherwise beautiful and awe-inspiring sights to behold. The following volcanoes allow spectacular sightseeing, as well as providing visitors the opportunity to hike along the mountainsides. Here is a small list of a few of the best volcanoes in the world that are worth traveling to.

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens, famous for its catastrophic eruption in 1980, is located in Washington. Along the mountain, there is a fantastic visitor center that is known as the Johnston Ridge Observatory, where you can view the mountain in all of its glory from the perfect location. Though you need a pass to do so, visitors can hike all the way up to the crater of the mountain.

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius is one of the most picturesque volcanoes on this list, and worth visiting solely for its rich history alone. The volcano that buried the city of Pompeii in 79 A.D. provides a wonderful hike up the mountain that can be rather steep, though not too difficult. It’s also recommended that you stop at the nearby dig site for a touch of history.

Pacaya

Pacaya is a great volcano for adventurers and sightseers alike. The volcano is rather active, but has recently become a top spot in Guatemala city for tourists. Visitors can hike the volcano themselves or pay to ride a horse.

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is known as the largest mountain in Japan and has become one of the most popular tourists destinations in the world, though tourists are only allowed to visit in July and August. For those that want to see it at a distance, there are several notable sightseeing tours available. If you dare to hike the steep volcano, it can take up to six hours to the top and four hours down.

Mount Pelee

Mount Pelee includes must-see scenery. Located on the island of Martinique in the Caribbean, this volcano is home to breathtaking beaches and a couple of delicious restaurants. The main hike up the mountain provides great opportunities for photos, as well as an extremely fun hike.

While these are some of the best volcanoes that are worth traveling to see, they are but a small number of the myriads of volcanoes throughout the world that are simply waiting to be visited by you.

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posted by TravAddict on December 9, 2013

Emily and me riding at KeystoneWinter has come to the Northern Hemisphere and that means ski season is in full swing. If you’re looking for a winter adventure filled with events and experiences upon which to build memories, there are a number of notable spots you should visit. Spending time on the slopes doesn’t have to break your fun budget. Check out these hot spots for cool deals and cheap tours.

Kiroro

Situated just 40 km west of Sapporo, Japan and near the idyllic seaside town of Otaru, this resort offers ski enthusiasts the most experiences for their money. Boasting Japan’s fastest ski lifts, you’ll be able to spend a maximum of your time on the slopes. When you’ve had your fill of powder, nearby Sapporo is home to some of the sweetest sightseeing opportunities and shopping venues in the area.

Chamonix

This pristine French valley is home to some of the most challenging steeps in Europe and rests at the foot of Mont Blanc, one of the most highly celebrated skiers playgrounds on the planet. But it also offers fare for the less skilled in addition to the 10,000 vertical feet plunging from the piste to the valley floor below. There are gently winding trails and slopes along a glacial valley running at the feet of the majestic Alps.

Zermatt

Forge deeper into the Alps and visit Zermatt, Switzerland. One of Europe’s best-established ski resorts, it’s three mountains offer more than 153 miles of ski runs to sate even the most enthusiastic winter warrior. Because it has long been the winter holiday paradise for Europe’s elite, it also boasts one of the best developed culinary cultures and after-hours night scenes in the region.

Telluride

Set in the breathtaking Rocky Mountain Range in Colorado, USA this ski resort has a reputation for the wide diversity of terrain in its 2000 acres of ski runs, offering something to please every skier. It also boasts some of the best developed infrastructure of the Colorado resorts.

Alta

In the wilds of one of the loveliest Western mountain states of the USA, Alta in Utah a worth a visit. This resort boasts a healthy balance of wild runs and relaxing amenities that will please everyone.

No matter where in the Northern Hemisphere you’re headed this winter, there are great ski opportunities abounding. You can avail yourself of some of the greatest skiing, scenery, and cuisine. Meanwhile, build the memories of a lifetime on the slopes of these wonder-filled locations.

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posted by TravAddict on November 28, 2013

gorillaOne of the most amazing animal encounters you can have is the chance to see mountain gorillas up close in the wild. This is a very rare and priceless experience that very few people ever get the chance to enjoy. If you want to go on an expedition to meet gorillas face-to-face, keep reading to find out what you need to know about this epic adventure.

Where to Go

Obviously, you will need to get yourself to Africa to see gorillas in the wild. They are an endangered species that only exist in a small part of Africa. You will need to go to Uganda, Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of the Congo if you want to go on an affordable tour to see mountain gorillas.

Finding the Gorillas

You will need to go with an experienced guide to find the gorillas. They are very elusive creatures, and you will have to trek for several hours through rough, mountainous country to have a chance to see them. This means that you need to be in excellent physical condition to make the trek. Most of the guides will not take anyone who is under 15 years of age on an expedition to search for gorillas. Also, because disease passes easily back and forth between humans and apes, you cannot go on the tour if you are sick or showing any signs of illness.

Rules When You Find the Gorillas

The gorillas that you will see have become used to humans, but that tolerance only goes so far. You must be cautious around these very large and potentially dangerous animals. You are typically not allowed to get closer than five meters from the gorillas. Also, flash photography is strictly forbidden. The flash will upset them. No one is allowed to eat or drink around the gorillas. Of course, no food or drink is to be given to the animals either.

You cannot make loud noises around the gorillas, and you are not allowed to try and touch them. However, because the gorillas are used to humans, they sometimes will come up and interact with people. They may even touch you and play with you if you are really lucky.

This is a magical experience that you will never forget. If you want to see gorillas, you will have to pay a fee of several hundred dollars a day for the chance to track them. It is well worth it for the adventure of a lifetime.

Some of our favorite tours

- 6 Day Gorillas in the Mist tour with On The Go Tours
Take an incredible journey deep into the heart of the African jungle, in search of the mighty mountain gorillas – our closest living relatives, and relax by beautiful Lake Bunyoni.

- 3 Day Gorilla Trek with G Adventures
Admire a family of mountain gorillas in their natural habitat, have your bases covered with all national park and permit fees for gorilla tracking included, get peace of mind with your guides to yourself– you won’t be pooled with other trekkers.

- 16 Day Gorillas and Game Tour with Tucan Travel
What more could you ask for on an African overland safari tour than the chance to visit world-famous game reserves, stunning lakes and to trek to meet one of our closest relatives? Mountain Gorillas are endangered but are making a comeback in the Virunga Mountains of Uganda, where they are protected and roam the forests in small family groups. Join a trek to visit a silverback and his harem of females, their juvenile offspring and perhaps a cheeky infant or two.

- 29 Day Meet the Rellies Tour with Gecko’s Adventures
Experience the Gorilla trek along with plenty of other African wildlife encounters on this tour to Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

 

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