Archive for the ‘Destinations’ Category
We’re starting a new series called Off the Beaten Path. Our first post in the series will cover 3 amazing locations in Indonesia. Please see our Tour Reviews section for more information about tour operators and schedules.
Note: All prices in the posting are subject to change and/or be included in tour packages. Double check!
Raja Ampat is an archipelago located at the north-west tip of Papua, the Indonesian part of the world’s second largest island, New Guinea. It comprises of more than 1500 islands and is widely regarded as one of the last real remaining paradises on earth. Why? Due to its isolation, it has been so far untouched from mass tourism. Visitors are rewarded with the sheer beauty of nature; even if you’re not a birdwatcher you will love to see plenty of unique bird species in all shapes and sizes calling only Papua their home. You can stroll around the islands with its small hills without seeing any other tourists. Oh, and the underwater world: the turquoise colored water automatically hypnotizes you! Jump in and snorkel or dive – the magical blend of corals and colorful fishes will surely take your breath away…
How to get there: from Jakarta via Makassar (Sulawesi) to Sorong (Papua) with Lion Air, Merpati, Sriwijaya Air and Express Air.
Fees: 500.000 IDR per person per year, usually to pay at the airport in Sorong. It is more considered as local area tax, in order to preserve the area.
Komodo National Park
Komodo Island is world-wide known for its monitor lizards, the closest living relatives to the dinosaurs. It’s a thrilling experience to see the Komodo dragons in their natural habitat- there are nearly 6000 lizards living across the three islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar, among a number of smaller ones. The area was declared as UNESCO world heritage site in 1991. What else can you do and see? One of the lesser known things is that the park is not only home to the before mentioned lizards, but also to a number of other animals such as wild horses, wild pigs, civets and macaques and reptiles such as cobras and vipers. Further, there are fantastic areas for diving around – how about some carpet sharks or manta rays?
How to get there: by ferries from Sumbawa, but mainly from Labuanbajo, Flores. In order to reach Flores, you can conveniently fly in from Denpasar (Bali) or Jakarta.
Fees: Entrance fee: 20.000 IDR; Camera: 50.000 IDR; Video camera: 150.000 IDR; Ranger: 80.000 IDR (per group); Local area tax: 50.000 IDR
Mount Krakatau or Anak Krakatau is an active volcano, sandwiched between two of Indonesia’s major islands, Sumatra and Java. It parent volcano exploded in 1883 and was one of the deadliest volcanic eruptions in history. Anak Krakatau -“Child of Krakatau “-was eventually formed beneath Mount Krakatau years later. The island has black sand beach half around the island, while the other half is virtually inaccessible as lava flows down into the ocean. Climbing up the volcano doesn’t take much time, but can be quite exhausting. Once you reached the highest accessible point, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view over the surrounding islands.
Don’t miss out one of the highlights: the mystical yet spectacular view at night of floating lava!
How to get there: by ferries from Sumatra and Java. If you take an organized tour, buses will usually depart from Jakarta (Java) or Bandar Lampung (Sumatra). A Conversation Site Entry Permit (Surat Ijin Masuk Kawasan Konservasi/SIMAKSI) needs to be obtained prior.
Fees: Official Rangers/Guides: 250.000 IDR. Berthing fee: 200.000 IDR per boat.
We’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.
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.
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.
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.
North 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.
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.
Antarctica 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.
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.
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.
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.
As the only country in Southeast Asia that was never colonized by explorers from Europe, Thailand features some of the most incredible one-of-a-kind adventures, and is a terrific option for cheap tours in Asia. Consider the following attractions and adventures when creating the perfect Thailand experience:
1. Rai Leh Beach
The only way to get to this amazing beach is by boat because the small stretch of sand is surrounded by high cliffs, which attract rock climbers from near and far.
2. Phang Nga Bay
When many people think of Thailand, they think of Phang Nga Bay, an amazing series of limestone islands, secret caves, and crystal clear waters.
3. Elephant rides
There are a number of spots around Thailand, like Ton Pariwat Wildlife Sanctuary, where visitors can experience the excitement and joy of an elephant ride. This majestic animal is the national symbol of Thailand.
4. Sea Kayaking around Phuket
Thailand’s amazing island scenery is best viewed from the water and is an amazing experience when viewed from a kayak.
5. The ancient city of Ayuthaya
Built in the 1300s, this incredible city was once the center of trade in Asia and had more than a million people living in it 500 years later.
6. The Similan Islands
Around this beautiful archipelago are some of the most beautiful scuba diving experiences in the world with extensive coral and sea life.
7. Zip lining in Chiang Mai
This 1500 year old rainforest offers incredible an adventure from the perspective of the forest’s canopy, and the area also offers rock climbing and mountain biking.
8. Koh Tao
Adventurers who want to learn the fine art of diving should visit this tiny island where millions of fish and marine sea life live in shallow reefs that surround Koh Tao.
9. Hill-tribe villages of Northern Thailand
Trekking through the hills of northern Thailand offers the chance to see ancient cultures and societies, as well as intricate temples and palaces that have remained intact despite the passage of centuries.
10. Chiang Dao caves
Nestled within the Chiang Dao National Park, this series of over 100 caves offers views of stalactites and stalagmites in beautiful limestone formations.
At least 6 million international tourists visit Thailand each year because of the amazing adventures offered in this incredible country. There’s no shortage of heart-pumping experiences in Thailand. To learn more about traveling to Thailand, check out our array of Thailand tours on offer.
On our recent visit to the Cayman Islands, we got the chance to swim with wild stingrays! It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. There are very few places in the world where you can get up close and personal with stingrays in the wild, so close in fact that you can hold them! About a 20 minute boat ride from Seven Mile Beach (the main beach on Grand Cayman) is a sandbank now known as ‘Stingray City’. Most of Grand Cayman Island is surrounded by a coral reef, and a break in the reef has caused a sandbank to form overtime.
Years ago fishermen would stop off at the sand bank after a day of fishing to gut their fish, attracting stingrays who would return loyally everyday to feed on the fisherman’s scraps. As time went by the stingrays became quite the attraction, and today they swim with hundreds, sometimes thousands of visitors on the sand bank each day.
When we first stepped into the waist-high water, the stingrays were very welcoming, rubbing up against our legs to say hi. It was quite overwhelming at first, and I was a little nervous, but after about 10 minutes in the water, I started to to come around and enjoy the company of these beautiful creatures. You can touch the rays as they swim by, and even hold one if they are open to swimming into your arms! So, what do they feel like? The skipper of our boat described their touch as a ‘wet portobello mushroom’, and I have to say this description is quite accurate!
There are many different breeds of stingrays throughout the world, and the ones we swam with are known as the Southern Stingray, or Dasyatid.
The final stop on our amazing 6 day tour to the South Island of New Zealand, was Lake Ohau. This was a beautiful spot, and perfect for a relaxing evening on the last night of our tour. Our hotel overlooked the lake with New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Mount Cook looming in the distance. A good meal, a glass of wine, and a soak in the hot tub with great views was the perfect way to spend the evening!
Lake Ohau is an extremely popular destination in the winter, with a major ski field minutes away, and in the summer it is a great place to check out if you want to take some time to stop and enjoy the views!
The Fjordlands in the South Island of New Zealand should be on everyone’s must-see list as a tourist. The stunning landscapes and wildlife in this region are incredible. You will not leave disappointed. The Doubtful Sound is not accessible by road, the only way to get there is by boat. We began our journey to the sound via a ferry across Lake Manapouri. We then boarded a bus and journeyed over Wilmot pass, where we met our home for the next 24 hours on board our overnight cruise vessel with Real Journeys.
My words and pictures cannot explain the pure magical feeling the sound possesses. We passed a waterfall every few minutes, we saw penguins, seals, and dolphins. The entire experience was tranquil and beautiful.
Just before the sun set on our first day onboard, we anchored in a quiet inlet and took out the kayaks. This was my favorite part of the cruise, getting up close to the waterfalls, and seeing the mountains right up-close rise straight up out of the water, covered in plush green trees.
The staff on board were really knowledgeable, and never missed an opportunity to show us something magical. They explained the fjords and their history in such detail. At one point, the captain turned the engine off, and we sat in silence for a few minutes just to get a true understanding of the isolation and tranquility of the area. It was truly a peaceful moment.
The cruise itself was also fantastic. The accommodations were comfortable and wonderful, and the food was out of this world. The chef on board made every effort to fill our bellies with delicious local seafood, lamb, beef, and other Kiwi favorites. The desert was probably the most memorable part of dinner, mostly because I have a crazy sweet tooth!
For the food alone this cruise was worth it, but food aside, I will always highly recommend a visit New Zealand’s Fjordlands, and Topdeck Travel did an amazing job of making this part of the trip magical with the overnight cruise, and the amount of time we spent enjoying the region.
They call Queenstown the adrenalin Capital of the world, and it is not hard to see why! Queenstown is a stunning town nestled in the mountains surrounded by beautiful lakes, ski resorts, canyons and raging rivers. But back to the adrenalin…..on our way into Queenstown our guide gave us a run-down of all of the activity options available. These options included the largest bungy jump in the world, AJ Hacket’s original bungy, the world’s largest canyon swing, sky diving, shotover jet boating, paragliding, hang gliding, horse riding………the list goes on.
Having already skydived and bungy jumped in my younger years, I opted for the canyon swing, and Brian decided to do AJ Hacket’s original bungy. I have to say that the anticipation leading up to the actual moment is a lot scarier than taking the leap. Brian has a pretty bad fear of heights, so conquering the bungy was huge for him, although his emotions don’t show on his video, I look much more nervous than him! I highly recommend the canyon swing, because if you want to go again it is only $39NZD! So of course I did!
While many people are attracted to Queenstown because of the adrenalin, there is also many other things to see and do here. The nightlife for one is fantastic. We kicked off our night out on the town at the ice bar with our Topdeck group, which was a lot of fun, and a lot cheaper than expected.
There are also some really great restaurants worth checking out. When it comes to food, one place you MUST try while visiting Queenstown, is Fergburger. The burgers here are huge, and very tasty. I was also really impressed with the Ferg Bakery next door, offering delicious fresh pastries and desserts.
We also hiked the Tiki Trail up to the summit of Bob’s Peak, which boasted amazing views of the town. You can also catch the gondola to the top if you are not feeling so athletic after your Fergburger:-)
All in all, our two days in Queenstown were so much fun, and probably the highlight of our trip. Next time, we want to visit in the winter so that we can check out some of New Zealand’s best ski resorts!
On our second day in New Zealand, we joined our Topdeck Tour. We made our way from Christchurch to the Fox Glacier, and the scenery was spectacular. We also saw many, many sheep, so if you were wondering if the stereotype of New Zealand being overloaded with sheep farms is true, it is! We got the chance to get to know the others on our tour a little, and everyone was really friendly.
After spending the night in a quaint little town by the glacier, we explored the glacier the next morning. The Fox Glacier is one of the very few Glaciers in the world that meets a rainforest, and it is easily accessible for visitors. We opted to hike the neck of the Glacier with a guide, which was fantastic. Other options included taking a helicopter to the top of the Glacier.
Our guide Finn was extremely knowledgable, and spent over two hours on the ice with us. Learning about the cause and effect of warmer weather over thousands of years was facinating, and hiking on a large block of ice was quite an experience. We were the first group to hike the glacier that day allowing us to get the most pure experience on the glacier. We were the only ones out on the glacier for at least an hour.
After our morning hike, we were back on the road after lunch on our way to the Adrenalin Capital of the world, Queenstown! Stay tuned for my next post about our adventure-filled two days in Queenstown.
I am an Australian living in the USA, so when I go home I often drag my American husband along with me (big chore I know). While Australia is amazing and my husband really does love coming with me, we often spend a lot of time catching up with family and friends over numerous lunches, dinners, and of course tea. If you didn’t already know, many Australians love tea, especially those related to me!
So this time I decided I needed to take my husband somewhere different, and a New Zealand was the obvious choice. We embarked on a short 6 day tour with Topdeck Travel to the South Island of New Zealand, and had an amazing time.
Our tour started in Christchurch, and we arrived a day early in order to spend some time exploring the city. I have been to Christchurch pre-earthquake, and what we saw when we arrived was incredibly heart-breaking. A once bustling and friendly city was now almost a ghost town with 90% of the buildings destroyed, condemned, or demolished.
Two years after the devastating and unexpected earthquake struck, businesses and people are still dis-placed and it is obvious that the work needed to restore Christchurch is going to take a very long time. While we were walking around the city center with feelings of shock and sadnessss, we started to notice small quirks. Some citizens of Christchurch have taken the initiative to transform vacant lots into quirky and uplifting public spaces. We first stumbled across and urban garden that had been set up with tables, chairs, and an old glass-door fridge transformed into a book case filled with books. It was a book exchange, and it was such a peaceful space.
We then stumbled across a dance floor with a washing machine beside it. You could pay two dollars, and plug your i-pod into the washing machine to play music through the speakers for half an hour, and boogie away. We caught a few people using it:
While I was saddened when I saw the devastation that the earthquake had brought to Christchurch, I was warmed by the locals and how they have picked themselves back up and moved forward with a positive outlook. From the words of a local: ‘Christchurch basically needs to be built again from scratch, but the good part about that is, we will be the most earthquake-proof city in the world when all of the construction is complete’.
Stay tuned for our next post about joining our Topdeck Tour and hiking onto the Fox Glacier!
Smiling faces, joyful and playful children. South Africa offers this and so much more. It’s a nation whose history is not measured in centuries, but millennia. There are several sites, including one appropriately called the Cradle of Mankind, where some of the oldest remains of our ancestors, the species that we actually evolved from, can be found.
Although no one is absolutely sure, it is quite possible that South Africa is where all of modern mankind can ultimately trace their roots. And history continues to be made, as the nation bravely emerges from the dark spectre of apartheid, and embraces its future with a newfound sense of optimism and freedom for all. Not only can one sense this exhilarating enthusiasm from the moment they get there, they also will discover a wide variety of local customs, as well as epic scenery and an abundance of wildlife, carefully managed and controlled at some of the best game reserves in the world.
This is such a comfortable and accommodating part of the world, that archaeologists estimate that what they consider to be modern humans have lived here almost 200,000 years. By the end of the 15th century, when the first Portuguese arrived, the local tribes that they found were mostly people from all over the region that spoke a language called Bantu. European settlers slowly trickled in and by the 19th century, first diamonds and then gold were discovered to be plentiful in South Africa. This caused tremendous rivalries between the European powers and also motivated more Europeans to come to here. Naturally, all these riches greatly benefited the economy and today South Africa is considered to be the wealthiest of all African nations. As a result, the main cities, such as Johannesburg and Cape Town, offer all the conveniences and luxuries of any world capital, with the additional benefit of easy access to all of nature’s wonders.
See it all for yourself
It is quite easy and economical to visit this enchanting country. Flights to South Africa are less expensive than you might imagine and with only a few hours difference from Great Britain, travellers don’t have to recover from jet lag. Depending on your interests, you can spend some time in Johannesburg visiting some of its cultural attractions, or head out into the wild, reaching many of the more famous game reserves in less than an hour. If you’d rather be by the beach, you can visit Cape Town and enjoy soft white sand, as well as a vibrant nightlife, and all the attractions that are along its waterfront. You can even decide to go further into the heart of the country, exploring any of the nine provinces that make up the country. You will find wonderful vistas in the Drakensberg mountain range, as well as thousands of different varieties of plants and flowers. With all of these options, there is something that appeals to everyone.
Be sure to see how convenient and inexpensive flights to South Africa can be by going online and get set for the vacation of your life!
In the world of culinary delights, anybody who is anybody understands the weight that the Italian truffle carries. This terribly expensive and highly coveted food item is actually celebrated with a number of truffle festivals held during the months of October and November every year.
The top truffle regions are found in northern and central Italy, mainly in the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Le Marche and Piedmont. And even if you don’t intend to buy any truffles, while on your tours of Europe, going to one of the festivals is seriously worth the visit. Worth an astronomical amount per kilogram, the coveted white truffle is considered to be way past a delicacy in many regions, and more of an elite culinary institution.
A truffle is actually a subterranean mushroom found growing and fed by the root systems of trees. Because they are actually not visible above the surface of the earth, Trifolau, or truffle harvesters rely on specially trained pigs and non-pedigreed dogs to sniff them out underground – in fact, without the 4 legged assistants, the elusive truffle may never have graced our tables.
The festivals are a great place to try truffle dishes. The heady aroma of these fresh delicacies fills the air, and there is a bustling hive of activity with loads of entertainment, delicious local fare including artisan breads, cheese and salami, and wine, just waiting to be feasted on.
One of the most famous fairs is the La Sagra del Tartufo Bianco held in the small town of San Miniato in the stunningly beautiful region of Tuscany, an area synonymous with some of the best food and wine in Italy. Here, you can try the coveted white truffle for a fraction of the price that you would pay in a restaurant, ride a donkey, check out some of the medieval buildings, and get a chance to find out more about this incredible region that produces a whopping 25% of all of Italy’s white truffles. About half an hour from the steamy medieval city centre of Florence, this is perfect place for a day trip out into the country.
There are at least 8 varieties of truffles that grow exclusively in Italy, so be sure to hunt some down when you visit there.
The crystal clear waters of Mallorca provide a natural home for scuba diving offering an escape from the crowds into the tranquillity of a glorious underwater world. Level of expertise is never an issue as the vast majority of scuba diving firms in Mallorca offer training for everyone from absolute beginner’s right through to those who are verging on being a professional. With exotic marine life and gentle waters there is something for all abilities to enjoy.
Where to go
Famous for its cave diving and tunnels, such as Cala Monjo, Mallorca will never fail to deliver beautiful locations perfect for scuba diving.
The north east coast has an enormous seven mile half moon bay which is a popular location for many scuba divers. Cap Gros (under the Es Faro lighthouse) is a fantastic cavern dive for those at any level. The dive begins at around 15 metres providing the chance to watch wildlife not far from the surface whilst more experienced divers can delve deeper.
Another lovely spot to explore underwater is the small bay of Punta de Morras, situated between Cap Vermell and Font de sa Cala beach. This fascinating part of the sea bed is covered with sand, sea grass and clusters of rocks providing the ideal spot for a leisurely scuba dive.
When to go
To enjoy scuba diving at its best in Mallorca, visitors should aim for the summer months where the waters are much warmer, making the whole experience more enjoyable and less of an endurance test! The temperatures in the sea vary from a balmy 26°c in August to a decidedly chillier 13°c in January.
However, the temperature of the water is not only a matter of personal comfort; warmer seas also increase visibility by as much as 40 metres! Clubs and centres which provide scuba diving may also close down during the winter months or offer a reduced service. Even for those that remain open, there is a much greater chance of cancellations due to poor weather.
What to see
The island of El Toro is a marine reserve towards the south west coast. A perfect location for anyone looking for plenty of sea-life as fishing is prohibited, giving a wide variety of exotic marine life from shrimp to rockfish the chance to breed without human encroachment. El Toro also provides the opportunity to view myriads of octopus in the spring months.
A well-known location for scuba diving is the ‘the three caves’. The first cave is hidden behind a large rock, and with a very wide and shallow location it is ideal for beginners. The second cave is just a few metres further and covered with delicate, fine sand while the third cave, despite being smaller than the others, is home to numerous species of fish and marine life. Divers can opt to capture their experiences with an underwater camera, as the light shines through the crystal clear waters providing the perfect conditions.
Scuba diving is a sport which attracts tourists of all abilities to its crystal clear waters. Cheap holidays to Majorca are plentiful, so book now and discover the appealing underwater scenery, fantastic marine life and warm temperatures (well, most of the time!). Visitors that intend to scuba dive in Mallorca will never be left disappointed!
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If you love to experience scenic beauty while you travel, then visiting Trollstigen or Trolls Pass in Norway is a trip you should consider. Trolls Pass is a road that zig-zags across the mountain ranges between the small and picturesque towns of Andalsnes and Valldal. This is the northern gateway to the western fjords of Norway, and where the journey gets a little more rugged, so for many travelers this is as close as they get to the true fjord area of Norway. BUT, the extra distance is worth it, and Trolls Pass is the first road you are likely to take that will convince you to keep traveling deeper into the magical fjords of Norway. The views along the way boast green rolling hills beside steep mountain cliffs, and waterfalls. At the top of the pass is the Stigfossen Falls, which are worth getting out of the car for and taking the 10 minute walk to view the falls close up. There is a pedestrian walkway and staircase that leads you to the top of the falls, where the water drops away 300 meters under the bridge into the valley. The road is quite narrow, and can almost be as narrow as a one way street at times, with cars pulling over to let cars coming in the opposite direction pass on the steep mountain side road. The slow pace of driving is a great asset however, as it allows you to take in everything around you are you drive over the pass. There are quite a few opportunities along the journey to pull over out of the way of traffic and get out of the car to snap a few shots and take in the view. If you are taking your time and stopping along the way, the trip is likely to take you a few hours from one side of the pass to the other.
Trolls Pass is only open during the summer and spring months, due to the heavy snow fall and short daylight in the Autumn and the Winter, so when you are planning your tour to Europe and you would like to visit the Norwegian Fjords, make sure you plan this part of your trip during the Summer of the Spring.
The vibrant city of New York is the perfect place to discover on foot. Most of the life and character of the city is best experienced at street level, and there are new surprises waiting to be discovered around every corner. First time visitors to the city can choose to take one of the special walking NYC tours, which are conducted by professional tour guides and cover a number of different districts. In addition to seeing the sights of each district, visitors will learn about their history and discover the many details that make each district unique.
The colourful district of Greenwich Village was established more than a century ago and has long been a popular haunt among writers, artists and musicians. A walking tour of Greenwich Village reveals hangouts of icons such as Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone and Edgar Allan Poe.
Covering an area of 840 acres, Central Park is the largest and most picturesque green zone in New York City. Walking tours of Central Park typically last for three hours and reveal the history, romance and culture of this world famous park.
People who have a love for interesting buildings will want to take the special architecture tour of New York City. Among the many world famous attractions that are usually covered by this type of tour are the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station and Times Square, while visitors will be able to gain a real insight into the many aspects that make these buildings timeless classics.
Chinatown and Little Italy are two of the most colourful districts in New York City, and their close location to each other mean that they can be covered in a single walking tour. These districts were originally occupied by many of the original immigrants to New York, who have left their own distinctive imprints on the area. In addition to experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of these districts, taking one of the NYC tours will also have plenty of opportunities to sample authentic Italian and Chinese cuisine along the way.
The East Village is home to some of New York’s oldest and best watering holes, and embarking on a guided pub crawl of this district is an ideal experience for people who enjoy a drink or two. However, these tours aren’t just about drinking. During the pub crawl visitors will be able to step food in some of the institutions where some of the city’s movers and shakers once whet their whistle, including the pub where Abraham Lincoln enjoyed a drink after he made his Cooper Union address and the pub where JFK liked to unwind at the end of a busy day.
About the Author: Thomas Edwards has been an international traveller since the early ‘80s and has widely covered Europe, the USA and as far afield as Thailand, Hong Kong and China. He has written as both a business, individual and family traveller and a language or two has given him the opportunity to engage with people to a greater degree.
Experience the exotic ancient ruins and geographical diversity that characterises Peru with Tucan Travel on this 11 day tour. Stay in the lush, steamy Amazon Jungle, enjoy a fascinating trek along ancient Inca pathways and uncover the mysteries and traditions that manifest throughout the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. This tour finishes in the Inca capital, Cuzco.
- Accommodation: 7 night(s) in hotel(s), hostel(s) & guesthouse(s), 3 night(s) trekking
- Meals: 5 breakfast(s), 4 lunch(es), 5 dinner(s)
- Excursions: Amazon Jungle, Sacred Valley, Inca Trail Trek, Machu Picchu
- Transport: Local public bus, train, boat, taxi, on foot, 2 flight(s)
- Age: 18-60, max. 70 (recommended)
- Group: Average 8-12
- Staff: Tucan Travel tour leader, local guides
This tour is priced from $2400 USD
Rajasthan India, a land inhabited by the proud Rajput warrior class, has a fascinating history. Soaring forts, beautiful palaces and intricately carved ‘havelis’ are testament to this. The must-see towns and villages are all covered in this stunning region; from the ‘pink city’ of Jaipur to the ‘blue city’ of Jodhpur and beautiful Udaipur, this great little trip with Gecko’s Adventures packs in a lot of action over nine days.
- Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour guide throughout the tour.
- Free time to explore Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Delhi.
- Overnight train from Udaipur to Delhi. Accommodation in a fan sleeper class with three-tier sleeping berths.
- Express train from Delhi to Agra.
- 7 nights accommodation in Hotels/guesthouses
A taste of Rajisthan is priced from only $424USD per person
Today’s guest post is written by RevenWriters: A team of writers dedicated to making the Internet as amazing and informative as it can possibly be.
Alaska is no longer a fad destination. It has become a go-to land with a following of avid mountaineers, rugged naturalists, backpacking enthusiasts, sportsmen, hikers, and even skiers. Additionally, for those who don’t have their sights set on something radical, Alaska now caters to the beginner kayaker, rafter, and family looking to do something magical and different.
So, whether you are an experienced outdoorsman or someone who simply wants to visit Alaska and explore a little, here are five great Alaska excursions for you to consider:
1. Gates of the Arctic – Sounds magical and dreamy, doesn’t it? Gates of the Arctic is a federal preserve that only changes when nature herself demands it. Essentially unscathed by man, with few, if any roads, this Alaska excursion leads one through glacier-carved valleys, along age-old caribou migration trails, endless rivers, through small developments where indigenous people have lived for thousands of years watching the winter night sky alive with aurora’s that leave one spellbound. Packrafting, hiking, backpacking and fishing are the common adventures one might go on in this park.
2. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge – Also known by its acronym “ANWR,” this Alaska destination is one of the least visited of all the federal parks because of its northern placement at the top of Alaska. Yet, for those who venture to this distant reserve, it is a land of unparalleled beauty, and is a hiker’s, backpacker’s, and rafter’s dream. Otherwise famously known for oil drilling on the North Slope, ANWR is home to caribou, soaring eagles, muskoxen, grizzlies and the most formidable of all bears, the polar bear.
3. Kenai Fjords National Park – A Kayakers dream in the south of Alaska, one can encounter humped back whales, glide across waters teeming with playful porpoises, watch mountain goats on the jagged ridges of mountains and fjords that fill the coastline, see bear foraging for food along river banks, and cruise quietly through fjords and glacier-carved trails in Resurrection Bay.
4. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park – Incomparable beauty and natural diversity awaits the adventurer who chooses Wrangell-St. Elias as their Alaska travel destination. Larger than Rhode Island and Vermont combined, it is the largest national park in size. Here, one can visit abandoned and active gold mines, while coursing over tundra and upon the endless glaciers that dot this land and feed the many rivers and streams that meander through the park. Nine of the 16 major peaks in North America are found here, so mountaineers gear up! Skiing enthusiasts love the variety of wild, untouched slopes that are accessible only by plane.
5. Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve – Located on the interior of Alaska, this breathtaking park allows for world-class fishing and hunting, hiking, and backpacking. Rafting is also a primary attraction as the Yukon River sweeps quietly through the land, while the Charley is a whitewater enthusiasts dream. Peregrine falcons, bear, Dall sheep, caribou, and migrating birds call this land home. One can also visit the land of the great Alaskan gold rushes as the remnants of many sites still exist today.
From skiing to hiking, backpacking to fishing, one can experience the glorious natural offerings Alaska gives to the world at these locations. Conservation efforts have kept these locations immaculate for generations to enjoy. For more information on these sites visit Alaska Alpine Adventures.
Often tours in Europe which offer an overview on the hottest European destinations, will include a visit to Paris. It is well worth considering searching for tours to Europe that include a visit to the Palace of Versailles, located just outside of Paris. This amazing palace of the former Monarchy of France began being built by Louis the 14th in the 1600’s. More than 36 000 workers were involved in the building of the Palace, and when it was completed it could accommodate up to 5000 people, including servants.
The Palace of Versailles has 10 000 rooms, and when the French Monarchy ruled over 4000 servants and 500 cooks lived here alongside the King. The massive outlay of money spent on Versailles by Louis the 14th, 15th and 16th sent the monarchy bankrupt, causing Louis the 16th to raise taxes to almost 90%. It has been said that the maintaining of the Palace, including the care and feeding of its staff consumed as much as 25% of the entire government income of France. This extravagance of the Palace and the Monarchy running it was a major cause of the French Revolution in 1789, where the people of France revolted against the Monarchy and their laws for commoners.
After the French Revolution, Versailles fell into the hands of the French Government, and has been the location of significant treaty signings, particularly where Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 stating that Germany was responsible for WWI.
Versailles is now open to the public, with tours of the Palace guiding you through rooms of the that are still in the original format from when the French Monarchy ruled. It is quite a sight to see, with so much to see an entire day is often needed here. Often when you travel with guided tours of Europe which visit Versailles, a personal group tour will be included, which is well worth it as there is much to see, and some areas of the palace are not accessible without a guide. If you do travel to Versailles on your own, you can organize to join a guided tour run by the museum.
TravAddict has many options available when searching for cheap tours to Europe that include a visit to Versailles. We suggest searching for Europe tours that specifically visit Paris, as most tours that travel to Paris include to have the option to make the trip out to Versailles which is approximately 25km from Paris.
Go island hopping in Thailand with G Adventures on this 7 day tour, and experience some of the best snorkelling and diving in the world. Enjoy a week aboard the G Adventures sailing catamaran and discover what makes Thailand special. With an experienced captain navigating the southern islands, you’ll drop anchor at highlights and secret spots perfect for a swim. Work up an appetite snorkelling, dine on Thai cuisine and sleep moored under the stars. This trip is perfect on its own or as an add-on with our other Thai adventures.
- - Seven days of sailing through Southern Thailand islands.
- - 6 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners. (Allow USD40-50 for meals not included.)
- - Sailing catamaran (6 nts)
- - Sailing catamaran
- - Skipper, Assistant/Cook
- - Small group experience; Max 8, Avg 6
This touris priced from $1649 USD per person.
There are some sights in Europe that are best seen if you take a guided tour of Europe. One of Europe’s sites we recommend hiring a guide for, is Pompeii in Italy. Pompeii is one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions, located about 20 miles southeast of Naples. It is considered one of the most important historical sites in the world, as it was founded in 600BC, and remains one of the most preserved cities of its time. Pompeii was once a prosperous commercial centre, however tragedy hit the city in 79AD and took the lives of its 20 000 residents. Mt Vesuvius, a volcano 5 miles from Pompeii erupted and spewed out an immense black cloud of ash which rained over the city covering Pompeii in up to 7 meters of ash. 18 hours before the volcano spilled, it rumbled loudly but none of the residents of Pompeii took note. Very few residents were able to escape the ash which quickly covered everything in its path. The weight of the ash caused roofs to collapse and trapped many people inside buildings.
Today most of Pompeii has been uncovered, with most of the excavations being conducted in the 19th century. The site now reveals a great deal about how people lived during Roman times as the ash that buried the town served to almost ‘freeze’, ‘mummify’, or ‘crystallize’ the entire city. The ruins are some of the best preserved in the world, and offer a facinating snapshot of Roman life in the 1st century AD. The buildings are all originals, and as the excavations were taking place, the empty spaces where people were buried were filled with plaster, and what emerged were detailed and eerie captures of the people who failed to escape. The 44 hectares of the excavated city attracts up to 2 million visitors each year.
Mt Vesuvius is still an active volcano today. The last eruption was in 1944, and in 1999 it puffed enough smoke to worry the local residents. Today approximately 2 million people live in the immediate vicinity of Mt Vesuvius. Tours to Europe are most popular during the summer, and we recommend visiting Pompeii with Europe tours that travels during the warmer months, as it is an outdoor museum which can take a full day to see. So if you are now inspired to visit Pompeii, and would like to search cheap tours of Europe, browse TravAddict now!
Short on time but want a massive fix of Irishness? This trip with Shamrocker Adventures should do the trick! Be blown away at the dizzying heights of the Cliffs of Moher while fairies and leprechauns wait to be found in the lunar landscape of the Burren. Dangle upside down from Blarney Castle in hope of getting the ‘gift of the gab’ and experience a real Irish disco in the party town of Killarney. Lose yourself on the Dingle Peninsula with its beaches and rugged coastline then jig the night away in Ennis, renowned for its traditional music…
This tour includes:
> Your fan-feckin-tastic Irish Guide
> All transport around the Emerald Isle
> FREE entry to Blarney Castle
> FREE entry to Cliffs of Moher
> FREE Lonely Planet guidebook
The tour does not include accommdoation, and is priced from $225USD per person.
If you are thinking about book an adventure tour for the first time, and enjoy searching for guided tours of Europe, there are a few must-see’s you should put on your list. Our number one must-see for anyone researching tours to Europe is the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognizable structures in the world, and is a sight we recommend putting on your bucket list. Here are a few facts about the Eiffel Tower to help inspire you when searching for tours in Europe:
- The Eiffel Tower was originally built for the 1889 World Expo by Gustav Eiffel, and was originally intended to only be a temporary exhibit.
-Initially the Parisians did not like the tower, but as the world’s interest grew in this architectural feat, the locals began to think it wasn’t so bad, and they eventually decided to keep the expo exhibit permanently.
- When the tower was built, it was the tallest man made structure in the world. Prior to the Eiffel tower, the Pyramids of Egypt were the tallest man made structure.
- The Eiffel Tower is 320 m tall, and weighs 10 000 tonnes. It is made up of 12 000 pieces of steel and is held together by 2.5 million rivets.
- The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower receives approximately 6 million visitors every year.
We hope we have intrigued you enough to want to see it for yourself! To start searching for your dream tour to Europe, and to visit the Eiffel Tower, start searching TravAddict now!
In just over 6 months, you can explore the entire coastline of the American Continent with Intrepid Travel, and as far as ultimate American adventures go, this 207 day tour from Anchorage to Ushuaia ticks all the boxes!
Spanning the length of the entire spine of the Americas, all the way from Alaska down to the tip of Argentina, this 207-day adventure is nothing short of epic. Starting in Anchorage, Alaska, the tour ventures down through Canada, then the USA, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and finally ends in Ushuaia, Argentina – the world’s southernmost city. Loaded with culture, history, architecture and bountifu
l nature, this incredible American adventure will leave you breathless. This exciting itinerary may be full of trekking up volcanoes, exploring vibrant cities, kayaking down emerald rivers, snorkelling over reefs and taking part in all manor of outdoor and cultural activities, but there is also a great balance of down time too, with beaches, forests and unspoilt nature to be enjoyed and relaxed in. So if you’re after a life-affirming, awe-inspiring and never-to-be-forgotten adventure, then this epic trip is it.
The Ancorage to Ushuaia tour with Intrepid Travel is priced from $11775USD per person.
With thousands of tours to Europe to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which section of Europe is a good choice for you when you only have less than two weeks to spare. Vienna, Prague and Budapest are perhaps Europe’s most impressively intact imperial cities, and a great combination for short tours in Europe. Bratislava, Slovakia’s small but enchanting capital in the Carpathian foothills, is a baroque treat too, with an eclectic wealth of hidden museums and old town charm. Explore the splendor of these grand cities through their strong cultural heritage, old world traditions, exquisite buildings and incredible historical significance. Get a good dose of medieval magic in Prague, a fairytale town of cobbles and intricately decorated facades, bridges and castles seemingly built to bewitch and beguile. Beyond, the morbid oddity of Kutna Horna bone church, the famous Cathedral of Saint Barbara and the picture-perfect town of Cesky Krumlov similarly captivate. Further along the Wachau Valley, Austria’s regal capital Vienna basks in the glory of the Hofburg Palace and the wealth of wonderful Baroque buildings. Explore the countryside of Slovakia and Hungary and discover the delightful towns of Esztergom and Szentendre and the dreamy panorama from the ramparts of Visegrad Castle before arriving in Budapest. Explore both sides of the Danube, both Buda and Pest, amid golden downtown bustle, folk culture and epic, hilltop vistas. A classic journey showcasing the best of Eastern Europe.
If cheap tours of Europe are what you are looking for in less that 2 weeks, but you are also after your creature comforts, this 11 day tour with Peregrine Adventures is a great pick for you! This tours if priced from $3595 USd per person.
This interesting 14 day tour starts and finishes on the coast of Peru but rises to over 4,000 metres in places as you reach reach the Andean plateau. Including the hot, sultry Amazon Jungle, it also combines the must-do Inca Trail trek and the massive Colca Canyon, to give an excellent overview of Peru’s diversity. This adventure is not for the faint of heart, and is priced from $2920 USD per person.
- Accommodation: 10 night(s) in hotel(s), hostel(s) & guesthouse(s), 3 night(s) trekking
- Meals: 5 breakfast(s), 4 lunch(es), 5 dinner(s)
- Excursions: Amazon Jungle, Sacred Valley, Inca Trail Trek, Machu Picchu, Colca Canyon
- Transport: Local public bus, boat, taxi, on foot, 4 flight(s)
- Age: 18-60, max. 70 (recommended)
- Group: Average 8-12
- Staff: Tucan Travel tour leader, local guides
Tucan Travel is currently offering 25% off ALL of their Group Tours, so not only can you save on this itinerary if you travel in 2012, you can save on any of them! Get searching for a great deal!
Are you traveling to London for the 2012 Olympics? Are you planning to extend your trip in order to explore more of Europe? There is an array of cheap tours of Europe departing in August that are well worth checking out.
TravAddict has over 1400 guided tours of Europe on offer, and more than 500 of these tours depart from England or France, which are convenient departure points if you are beginning your tour ex-London. With so many tours to choose from, it can be difficult make a decision on which tours in Europe might suit you. So, we have made a list of five of our favorite unique Europe tours departing from England or France to give you some inspiration:
1. Grand European Tour with Topdeck Travel departing London August 21st.
This 28 day tour visits 13 countries – France, Switzerland, Spain, Monaco, Italy, Vatican City, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium.
The best feature of this tour is the 50% off price tag! This tour is priced at only $1925 USD!
2. West Loop Tour with Busabout departing London every second day during August.
This is a Hop-on-hop-off tour which means you can stay in each destination as long or as little as you like. The West Loop tour with Busabout has numerous stops in France, Switzerland, and Spain. This tour is also currently 20% off. It is priced from $715 per person, and does not include accommodation.
3. Walking in the French and Swiss Alps Tour with Peregrine Adventures departing Chamonix August 18th. This 8 day tour is for the adventure lover that loves hiking, and pristine mountain scenery. Discovering some of Europe’s best mountain ranges by foot is an experience you will cherish. This hiking tour is currently on sale at 30% off, at a price of only $1803 USD per person.
4. Paris to Rome Tour with Intrepid Travel departing Paris August 26th.
This 15 day tour visits the highlights of France and Italy, and is designed for budget travelers who enjoy their creature comforts. This departure is currently on sale for 25% off and is priced at $3348 USD per person.
5. Cornwall Crusader Tour with Haggis Adventures departing London August 6th & 20th. This 5 day tour discovers the mystical west country of England, and includes a visit to the famous Sonehenge. Both August departures for this tour are currently discounted by $30 per person, making the tour a total of $309 USD per person, and does not include accommodation.
For more information about these tours to Europe, and our full array of Europe tour options, search ‘Europe’ with TravAddict now!
This week, we chose tour that is also currently heavily discounted! The Complete Galapagos tour with Gecko’s Adventures is a 10 day tour that is currently on special as a 2 for 1 discount, or 30% off for single travelers!!
The Galapagos are not only a world-famous haven for wildlife, but an incredible archipelago of diverse islands that each offer different experiences. From close-up wildlife experiences with the weird and wonderful local inhabitants to walks along secluded beaches and up to the summit of volcanic outcrops to enjoy stunning views, there is plenty for nature lovers to savour. This comprehensive journey is the perfect overview and showcases the eclectic mix that combines together to make up the panoramic Galapagos mosaic.
This tour is priced from $3535 USD per person, or $3535 for two people when you take advantage of the current discount.
From the colours and magic of Kathmandu’s markets to the serenity of Himalayan trails, this ten-day adventure with G Adventures offers an intriguing blend of well-paced excursions. The rugged foothills of the Annapurna Range will reward those willing to break a sweat with stunning views of mountain vistas. And experience Nepal from a different perspective as you explore Chit wan National Park from the back of an elephant. With many included activities and options for more, like a soak in the restorative waters of a natural hot spring, you’ll come away with a full and real appreciation of this fascinating land.
- Kathmandu walking tour, transportation to Bhaktapur, Pokhara views, Annapurna trek, Jeep safari in Chitwan National Park
- No meals are included (Allow USD200-250 for meals not included.)
- Hotels (6 nts), teahouse lodges (3 nts).
- Bus, walking.
- Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout.
- Small group experience; Max 15, Avg 10