Archive for the ‘General’ Category
One 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.
One of the best tours to South America involves Bolivia’s salt flats. Bolivia is located right in the heart of South America, sandwiched between countries such as Peru, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Near the crest of the Andes Mountains, you will find Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world. The size of the salt flat is monstrous, spanning more than 10,500 square kilometers. For those unfamiliar with salt flats, they are simply salt deposits that were left behind when large bodies of salt water evaporated. Think about what would happen if portions of the Atlantic Ocean were to evaporate off the coast of the U.S. This is precisely what happened in Bolivia nearly 30,000 years ago that led to the formation of Salar de Uyuni, only on a smaller scale with Lake Minchi.
Salar de Uyuni is not only a spectacular sight, but it also serves many economic interests for people in Bolivia and around the world. At the salt flats, one can find enormous deposits of sodium, magnesium, borax, lithium, and potassium. Lithium is the most important and useful of the bunch here as more than 40 percent of the world’s lithium supply can be found in these salt flats. One American company has spent nearly 150 million dollars on lithium mining projects at Salar de Uyuni.
As a tourist destination, Salar de Uyuni is one of the most popular locations to visit in Bolivia. Many of the hotels there are actually built from the salt found in the flats. Many people are interested to discover that the building they stay in during their visit contains pieces of the attraction they are here to see. The buildings are clean and well-kept away from the actual flats, but they are close enough for easy access.
For the adventurous travelers out there, salt flat tours at Salar de Uyuni may be just right for people of that personality. This is an exciting expedition that will be remembered forever. You may try going in the winter when traveling on the flats is more widely available. A trip to the flats in the summer is great in its own right since you will be able to see the reflections from the glare of the sun that people rave about. Take a visit to Bolivia’s salt flats and experience a unique, stunning and beautiful geographic landscape.
We love to share travel quotes on Facebook and Google+ to inspire others to travel, and also just to make them smile:-) Here are some of our favorites:
Everyone has a soft spot for certain types of travel destinations. Some love museums, others seek great food, and a current popular motivation for travel is getting back to nature. Seeing and interacting with local wildlife can be an unforgettable travel experience, and there are a few locations we suggest you put on your bucket list if you are attracted to interacting with local wildlife:
Galapagos Islands – The Galapagos is probably the number one destination that comes to mind for most people when referring to getting up close and personal with wildlife. The Galapagos Islands hosts sea lions, tortoises, dolphins, whales, and a large number of bird species.
Kangaroo Island, Australia – Australia is often famed for its unique wildlife, but getting up close and personal with much of Australia’s wildlife is often only possible within the confines of a zoo. On Kangaroo Island in South Australia however, you are likely to get up close and personal with wild kangaroos, wallabies, Australian sea lions, koalas, echidnas and goannas.
Borneo – If you have a soft spot of orangutans and monkeys, then the rainforest of Borneo is the destination for you. Get up close and personal with these incredible creatures, and you may even get the chance to spot the world’s smallest bear, the sun bear.
Yellowstone National Park, USA – For a chance to catch glimpse of some of North America’s most famous wildlife, Yellowstone National Park in Northern California is the place to go. During the summer months you are likely to spot grizzly bears, moose, coyote, deer, and brown bears.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania – When most people book an African safari, they hope to see the ‘Big 5’. Well, in the Serengeti you are likely to see the big 5 plus many many more African species in their natural habitat.
Usually when cruising comes to mind it is something along the lines of a large cruise ship with all you can eat buffets, nightly entertainment, and rooftop swimming pools. But, not all cruises follow these guidelines. There are a number of tours of offer in our database that travel on small ships and boats, cruising to locations like the Amazon, the Galapagos, Antarctica, the Mediterranean, and Thailand just to name a few.
There are many advantages to small ship cruising vs large ship cruising. What I like about small ship cruising is the personal experiences on offer. The crew are often well educated on the areas visited, with a vast knowledge of the local sights, and there are often plenty of opportunities to sit down with them and pick their brain about their local knowledge. There are also many opportunities to get to know the other travelers quite well, which makes for a very social and memorable journey. Here are a few of our favorite small ship cruises on offer in the TravAddict database:
Amazon Riverboat Adventure – G Adventures
This 9 day cruise starts and finishes in Lima, Peru and explores the Pacaya–Samiria National Reserve—the largest national park in Peru. Dine on food fresh from the jungle, spot pink dolphins on the Amazon River, look down into the jungle from a canopy walkway, interact with members of the local community, and learn the intricacies of Amazon wildlife
Mekong River Cruise – Peregrine Adventures
This 9 day cruise travels from Vietnam to Cambodia, and travels on a deluxe riverboat discovering the vibrant Mekong Delta by stopping off in market towns, visiting schools and pagodas and witnessing the local cottage industries. Continuing into Cambodia, encounter the sombre and moving memorials to the excesses of the Khmer Rouge in the capital, Phnom Penh. Cruise up the Tonle Sap River into South East Asia’s largest lake, Tonle Sap, and experience the tranquillity of lakeside fishing villages before the final arrival near the town of Siem Reap – home to the magnificent Angkor ruins.
Croatia Sailing – Travel Talk Tours
Sail the islands of Croatia for 8 days and experience sunsets, picture perfect scenery and pristine beaches. Commence your cruise in the crystal blue waters of the Adriatic in the charming city of Split. Visit the epic seaside bars of Hvar, the popular resort town of Markarska and the stunning National Parks of Miljet. Your week is not complete until you have discovered the delights of mainland Dubrovnik and walked the huge city walls surrounding the Old Town of this fascinating seaside city.
Phuket Sailing Adventure – Intrepid Travel
Just imagine 7 fabulous days enjoying sublime seascapes of shimmering turquoise water, white sandy beaches and craggy limestone peaks. That’s just what you get on this sailing jaunt in the beautiful Andaman Sea – a chance to experience the region with the wind in your hair, while still having plenty of time to swim, snorkel, explore or simply chill out on deck.
Galapagos Coral South – Tucan Travel
With a wealth of wildlife viewing opportunities on offer, this carefully planned 7 day cruise covers the main highlights of the Galápagos Islands. You will enjoy a flexible programme that offers several alternative daily activities, on land and in the water but always amidst the stunning wealth of unique wildlife that inhabit these famous islands.
Antarctic Explorer – Gecko’s Adventures
On this 11 day cruise you will explore penguin rockeries and scout for humpback whales, orcas and leopard seals. Scramble up Orne Harbor view colonies of chinstrap penguins. Hike. Sit on the pebbled beach and introduce yourself to curious penguin chicks. Take the Polar Plunge. Cruise past icebergs as big as a city block. Set foot on the Antarctic continent. Tear up your bucket list.
TravAddict recently relocated their headquarters to Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands, and the slower-paced lifestyle is treating us well! Moving to a new country requires a lot of re-organizing, so we have spent a lot of our time in the past few weeks taking care of all of the ‘boring stuff’ that needed to be sorted. Despite spending plenty of time taking care of the must-do’s, we have managed to make our way to the beach almost everyday.
We have settled in the Seven Mile Beach area, and our new headquarters are only a 5 minute walk to the beach, so we really don’t have any excuses for not taking a stroll to the beach on a daily basis. It is summer here at the moment, so it is hot and humid, but the water temperature is just perfect! And the sunsets over the ocean are divine.
Now all that’s left to do is find some suitable adventure tours in the Cayman Islands to add to TravAddict’s search engine!
TravAddict has decided to move it’s headquarters to a new and exotic location……the Cayman Islands! We move is less than one week, and are currently busy clearing up any remaining lose ends in our current home – Lansing Michigan USA.
While researching our new home, I discovered that the Cayman Islands was voted the friendliest Country in the world by Forbes Magazine in 2012. It is definitely comforting to know that our new home has a great reputation for minimal crime, low pollution, a close-knit community, and residents that are very welcoming and friendly to both visitors and new residents alike.
The Forbes top 10 friendliest Country list was formulated as a result of surveying more than 5000 expats living in approximately 100 countries. 75% of the surveyed participants living as expats in the Cayman Islands responded positively to integrating into the local community, and enjoying both their lifestyle and their ability to befriend locals. There are currently approximately 21 000 expats living in Grand Cayman (the island we are headed to), most of whom are young professionals.
Reading these positive remarks about our new home is definitely calming, and an exciting prospect for us! We are very excited about moving to the Caribbean , and sharing with our readers our adventures and experiences in our new home. So stay tuned for lots of fun and exciting blog posts about our move to Grand Cayman, and our adjustments to island life!
London’s a huge city, so planning your itinerary is essential if you want to make the most of a stay there. The capital is divided into 32 boroughs, so exploring the city borough by borough is a great way to organize your trip. Read on to find out more about five of London’s main boroughs.
Camden’s one of London’s most colorful boroughs and it’s the place to be if you like alternative music and bohemian culture. Created in 1965, it’s one of the capital’s newest boroughs but it still has many historic landmarks, including Dickens House and Highgate Cemetery.
Its main draws, however, are its vibrant pubs and clubs and its markets. Camden Market features hundreds of stalls, selling everything from clothes to food, whilst Camden Lock is the place to go for antiques and curiosities. You can also visit London Zoo or unwind in Primrose Hill’s parkland.
Situated in South London, Lambeth is one of London’s older boroughs, dating back to the eleventh century. Today, it is known for its lively arts scene and is home the well-respected South Bank and a number of the capital’s key attractions.
Visit Lambeth and take a trip on the London Eye for stunning views across the city, spend some time exploring the London Aquarium, take a stroll along the South Bank Riverside Walkway, see a play at the Old Vic or enjoy a musical performance at the Royal Festival Hall.
3. City of Westminster
The City of Westminster’s origins date back to before the Norman Conquest, so it’s the perfect place for history buffs to go to indulge their passion. The borough, which is situated in Central London, lies between the City of London and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and its centrepiece is the magnificent Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament. Other landmarks within the borough include Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
Considered one of the most tourist friendly districts of London, visitors can find a wealth of attractions. Spend the day in Westminster and you can visit Trafalgar Square, discover the Sherlock Holmes Museum, the National Gallery and Tate Britain, take a stroll through Hyde Park, or watch a performance in one of the West End’s historic theatres.
4. Kensington and Chelsea
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is home to some of London’s most prestigious areas and many celebrities have made their homes within its leafy suburbs. It’s home to exclusive stores and boutiques, including Harrods and Harvey Nichols, but it’s not just fashionistas who will love exploring this part of London.
Exclusive Kensington and Chelsea has a wealth of attractions and amenities for it’s guests – from exclusive museums, restaurants and bars to some of the best 5 star hotels in London. You can visit the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, enjoy a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, explore Kensington Palace or relax in Kensington Gardens, where you’ll find the Albert Memorial and the Peter Pan statue.
Southwark has been a settlement since Roman times but it’s also home to London’s newest landmark, The Shard, making it an ideal mix of the historic and the contemporary.
Whilst in Southwark, you can visit the Imperial War Museum, see the stunning Tower Bridge, explore the Tate Modern, or take a tour of the recreated Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and watch a performance of one of the Bard’s plays there.
Whether you are in London for a weekend break or for longer, exploring it borough by borough is a fantastic way to get a real taste of what the city has to offer.
About the guest author: Tom is a travel writer with a wealth of experience of the London tourist scene.
This spring TravAddict has partnered with Busabout to offer an exclusive Europe deal to our fans!
With summer just around the corner, we are headed into the best time of year to explore Europe. Busabout Adventures is a leader in budget tours, and this spring with our exclusive deal, you can get 20% off their Europe tours!
Book with Busabout before June 2nd 2013 and receive 20% off ANY of their Hop-on-hop-off passes, and Eastern Europe tours. Make sure you use the promo code TRAVADDICT in order to receive this exclusive offer. This deal excludes bookings from residents of Australia and New Zealand, and is valid for travel during 2013.
Our favorite thing about Busabout, is their unique approach to flexible travel throughout Europe. Their Hop-on-hop-on bus network is designed exclusively for backpackers looking for freedom and flexibility as they explore Europe. They offer door-to-door pick-ups at quality affordable hostels, with informative and helpful tour guides on all of their comfortable coaches. Busabout is a great choice for young budget travelers looking for flexibility, comfort, and ease of travel while still having the freedom to plan their own itinerary at their own pace. Travel with friends, or easily make friends when you jump on the coach, as there are likely to be plenty of other travelers who have chosen the same travel route as you!
Busabout also offers great Eastern Europe tours for travelers interested in exploring more of Europe, or another side of Europe. Destinations include Hungary, Croatia, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Serbia and Turkey. You can even combine one of these great Eastern Europe packages with your Hop-on-hop-off pass for a complete trip through both East and West Europe.
So, what are you waiting for? Check out Busabout’s discounted tours now!
Some of you may have heard of the Southwest Airlines rapping flight attendant before, and some of you may have even been lucky enough to fly with him. I however, have been in the dark, and this talented flight attendant who aims to brighten the day of Southwest passengers, has only recently been brought to my attention.
I figured if I am just hearing about this flight attendant (who has become a youtube sensation), I can’t be the only one. I am a big fan of people who work in the travel industry for the right reasons, so I wanted to highlight David Holmes, and his creative way of helping to turn someones trip into the trip of a lifetime. David is based in Las Vegas, and says he often raps on flights traveling to Las Vegas in the afternoon or evening. Imagine starting off your crazy weekend in Vegas with a unique opportunity to see the Flight Attendant Rapper live! David even has a few different raps up his sleeve.
Truly great workers in the travel industry are inspired to go out of their way to help make someone’s trip a little more spectacular, and David is a true inspiration to anyone looking for an example of what going above and beyond for a travel guest means. I am not suggesting that every flight attendant follow David’s lead though. I for one, could never rap or even sing a song for a crowd to make them smile, but going further than just the basics of what is expected from a customer service representative in the travel industry, is what sets a travel company apart from all of the rest. Whether that be an employee at an airline, a hotel, a tour company……the list goes on.
So, I am assuming you want to see David in action? Here it is:
I have visited London many times, enjoying the major sights and museums that London has to offer. So on my most recent visit, I was quite content to simply enjoy some new restaurants, and enjoy the company of friends. But, as a travel enthusiast I cannot visit a place (even if I have been there more times that I can count), and not attempt to do or see something new.
I recently read an article by Tim Leffel titled ‘Build Splurge Money Into Your Shoestring Budget’, which inspired me to ‘splurge’ on my most recent trip to London. Since I have visited so many sights in London already, I decided to save some splurge money for a taste of the elegant side of London.
I stayed with a close friend while visiting (which always cuts the budget significantly), and she introduced me to the elegant and iconic Mayfair Hotel, Claridge’s. Claridge’s is a favorite hotel among royalty, including Queen Elizabeth. If you are looking to experience how high-society has been kept a tradition, then Claridge’s is where you will find it. We watched a fantastic BBC documentary about the Hotel, detailing all that goes into creating the elegant and high class experience at Claridge’s. This 5 star hotel has been operating since the mid-1800’s, and almost all of the furnishings and decor at Claridges have been preserved from its original layout.
While I didn’t quite have the budget to splurge on a night’s stay at Claridge’s, I did have the budget to splurge on lunch with a friend. Elegance and perfection is something people are willing to pay for if they love luxury, and Claridges most definitely delivers. The lobby was immaculate, laid out with fresh flowers and pristine shining marble floors with the highest quality furnishings.
Our lunch was obviously wonderful. The menu ranged from simple to elegant, myself choosing to simply go with a sandwich, but it was quite a sandwich at that! We also had to try their scones and tea, because we all know the English make the best scones with jam and cream, and since Claridge’s makes their own scones and hand-picks their seasonal jams from local farms, we had to squeeze it in! The end of our meal was completed with delightful complimentary treats, and the experience was nothing but wonderful and delicious. While I would typically not spend the amount of money I spent at Claridge’s on a regular lunch, the experience and the atmosphere of an iconic hotel in the famed area of Mayfair, was relaxing, exciting, and memorable.
While lunch was fantastic, the highlight of our visit was the chance to meet Mr Parker. We were introduced to Mr Parker on the BBC documentary ‘Inside Claridge’s’. As soon as we walked into the lobby we instantly recognized him sitting in the reading room, reading the paper. Mr Parker has visited Claridge’s every day to have breakfast for 40 years. We could not help but to introduce ourselves to Mr Parker, and have a chat. He was a lovely man, who simply likes to enjoy his breakfast in style, and Claridge’s is the only place he wishes to indulge. Mr Parker is as much an iconic part of Claridge’s as the decor, and he is a testament to the fact that great service, cloth napkins, and a pristine surrounding is worth so much more than just eggs and bacon on a plate.
Just a few hours of elegance and sophistication was a great getaway from the crowded streets and tube rides of London, and given that royalty is such a huge part of the United Kingdom’s identity, it was a wonderful experience to indulge like royalty in the most expensive area of London, and well worth my splurge money.
It is not secret that the Spanish know how to party, and they are constantly celebrating year-round all over the country with crazy festivals. During the summer time, some of their largest and most well-known festivals take place, and given that the summer is a popular time to visit Europe, it is worth considering visiting Spain while one of these festivals takes place. Here are three Spanish Festivals we recommend you check out this summer:
La Batalla Del Vino:
Every year on the 29 June, the village of Haro recognizes their patron saint San Pedro by dressing in white and drenching each other with wine. Participants come armed with wine-filled Spanish Bota Bags, and battle for approximately three hours with approximately 40, 000 liters of wine.
Busabout offers a 3 day tour to La Batalla Del Vino from $269 USD per person.
Running of the Bulls:
Celebrated from July 6th to the 14th every year, this festival dates back to 1591. The origins of the festival are to celebrate the Patron Saint of wineskins; San Fermin. The actual ‘Running of the Bulls’ began as the need to transport the bulls from their location outside the town into the bullring for the festivals daily bullfight. It became a daring phenomenon to run with the bulls through the street into the bull ring every morning, and today approximately 20 000 people run with the bulls every year, with many more simply participating in festivities.
Topdeck Travel offers 8 different tour options to Pamplona for Running of the Bulls from $365 USD per person.
La Tomatina is the world’s largest and messiest tomato fight. The festival is held every year in Buñol, Spain in August. Approximately 40,000 people join this crazy festival of tomato throwing, lasting a few hours. No-one gets away clean in the world’s biggest tomato fight, and with the festival receiving more and more visitors from all over the world every year, it is clear that everyone loves a food fight.
Travel Talk Tours offers 6 different tour options to the La Tomatina Festival from $240 USD per person.
As you can see, participating in these festivals is not for the faint of heart, but even if the participation in not quite your thing, visiting these festivals and all of the celebrations that go along with the main event are well worth it. The Spanish know how to put on a show, and these festivals are a great way to experience the Spanish party life to the max!
Most people know a few of the things to see and do when traveling to San Francisco. Some of the more obvious are the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, The Presidio, cable cars, and Chinatown. But what else is in the San Francisco area to see and do?
Parks and Museums
Aside from Alcatraz and The Presidio, there are plenty of other parks and museums to visit in San Francisco and the surrounding area. One good place to start is at the California Academy of Sciences, which has a natural history museum, an aquarium and a planetarium all in the same place. Part of the museum is underground and has a grass roof with portholes to see the Golden Gate District from an entirely new perspective. A 50-foot tall rainforest and a coral reef are just a couple more attractions at the Academy.
The Asian Art Museum examines art relics from the Pacific Rim cultures, which are a large part of San Francisco culture. Exhibits have included Ming Dynasty royal accouterments, Japanese Kamikaze culture, and the terra cotta army of the first Chinese Emperor.
The War Memorial and Performing Arts Center is home to the San Francisco Opera, Ballet and Symphony. The Fillmore Theater in the Western Addition has hosted the biggest names in rock music.
If you are planning to visit between March and October, a great way to get into San Francisco’s neighborhoods is Sunday Streets, a monthly block party held in a different neighborhood each month. These are full community days, with music, food, dancing, games, attractions and historical tours.
You can cross the Golden Gate Bridge to the North Bay for a day of touring vineyards and ghost towns in Napa wine country.
Water sports and other outdoor opportunities abound in San Francisco, including surfing at North Beach and Mission Beach. San Francisco has over 200 miles of bike trails in the city, allowing a leisurely, wandering trip through the city to view historic architecture and experience its neighborhoods.
The islands in the San Francisco Bay also offer lots of outdoor activities, from boating and sailing to hiking and biking. The largest of these is Angel Island State Park, featuring photo opportunities galore of the Marin County shoreline as well as San Francisco itself. There are also camping, hiking, biking, historic sites and state parks activities.
The Land’s End Trail is a great way to walk along the shore of the San Francisco Bay on the hillsides for fantastic views of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. The trail takes in the Sutro Baths, a city museum featuring the ruins of a large private swimming pool complex from the early 20th Century. Also found along the three mile hike are the USS San Francisco Memorial and the Legion of Honor, a fine arts museum featuring over 4000 years’ worth of ancient and European art. The Cliff House has an installation of a camera obscura in jumbo size and several dining rooms. Further along the trail is a 100-foot staircase leading down to the beach. Back at the top of the trail, above the Sutro Baths, sits Louis’ Restaurant featuring traditional American food.
There’s enough to see and do in San Francisco to keep anyone busy without needing to stick to the tried and true favorites, though they do have their charms. Just remember, it drives the locals crazy if you don’t use the city’s proper name. Don’t call it “Frisco”. Remember that one rule and you’ll have all the friendly help you need to find those out of the way treasures.
This guest post was written by author Kevin Caldwell. Kevin is a writer at San Francisco Hotel Guides. Kevin enjoys writing about travel and helping other plan their trips. Connect with Kevin on Googe+ to learn more about him.
During the entire month of March, we are running a photo competition on Facebook. Entering is easy, just upload your coolest travel pic and ask your friends to vote for your photo. At the end of the month, the photo with the most votes wins! So make sure you get your entry in early so that you have plenty of time to accumulate the most votes!
The prize is a $500 travel voucher with Tucan Travel. Tucan offers over 400 high quality, affordable and exciting adventures to worldwide destinations including Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Latin America & Antarctica. Whether you are a first-time adventure seeker or a seasoned independent traveler, Tucan Travel can help you discover the world’s most amazing people and places. We have already received a few great entries, below is a sample of the latest. If you like what you see, make sure you visit our competitions page and vote for your favorite!
It is always exciting to see new and interesting tour companies popping up around the world, mostly because it means more options for curious travelers! We recently stumbled across a great new tour company in New Zealand called The Road Trip. What we like about the Road Trip is the fact that they are a small company owned and operated by locals, which runs PRIVATE tours throughout New Zealand. These tours are a great option for people traveling with friends or family who want to ‘do it on their own’ but don’t want to deal with the hassle of planning the itinerary, booking the accommodation, researching the ‘must-sees’ etc. And the best part about The Road Trip, is that their tours are very affordable! We were fortunate enough to interview the founder of the Road Trip, Chris, and pick his brain about his new tour company, and what The Road Trip offers adventure travelers in New Zealand:
Q. What inspired you to begin running adventures tours in New Zealand?
A. I was always inspired by travel from a very early age. When I was a child I used to plan our family holidays down to the very last detail. I would always choose the hotels, where we were going to stop along the way and what activities and walks that we would undertake. I decided that I wanted to be a tour guide after leaving university and obtaining my degree in French, Spanish and German. This gave me the ability to also guide trips in these languages. I always loved the fact that I was showing people my back yard and doing it for a job. After a few years of guiding for other companies, I took the knowledge that I had gained of customer service, best locations, activities and accommodation providers that I had researched over the years and started my own company, The Road Trip which really focuses on tailor made trips down to the very last detail of what the client wants to experience. What inspires me the most is that The Road Trip has introduced me to clientele from all over the world and I am always learning something new from my travelers.
Q. Can you tell us about some of the unique features included in your tour packages?
A. In our tour packages there are many unique experiences that you would not be able to experience on a coach trip or may struggle to find on a self drive holiday. Because we are registered with the Department of Conservation which is a government body in New Zealand dedicated to protecting our environment, we can take you to idyllic photo spots on Dept of Conservation land which coach tours are not allowed to access. These hidden jewels as I like to call them are majestic opportunities for those perfect holiday photo spots. We have package itineraries on our website. Examples of some unique features on our tours are:
On the Bay Of Islands 5 day Winerless North Explorer you will see ancient kauri trees, stunning beaches of the Northland region, learn all about the history of New Zealand with a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and have your own private VIP tour of Auckland city with a driver guide.
On the North Island 8 day tour from Auckland-Wellington you will encounter the marvels of the Coromandel Peninsula including a ride on a miniature railway built over years by the owner in his backyard featuring stunning views of the coast, visit Hot Water Beach and its geothermal waters (we dig our own pools and relax in the 40 C thermal waters), get up close and personal with the Maori Culture in Rotorua, see geysers, volcanoes and bubbling mud pools in the Rotorua area and discover our capital city Wellington.
On the South Island Adventurer 9 day tour you will see mountains, glaciers, rainforests and isolated beaches as well as a journey on the Tranz Alpine Train, and stay in Queenstown known as the adventure capital of the world with stunning backdrop made famous by Lord Of the Rings.
On the 16 day South Island Supreme Adventure you will see the best of everything. Penguins, Dunedin City the scotland of the south and spend a night on the Fjords in Milford Sound with an overnight boat cruise on the luxury Milford Mariner.
Q. You currently run your trips for private groups. What is the minimum number of people needed to book a tour with you?
A. We run trips with a minimum of just 2 people. Because our tours are so niche they are perfect for couples, families, corporate groups and small groups of friends. For small groups we use SUV vehicles and larger groups we use spacious modern private vans. This enables us to reach those backcountry spots.
Q. What is your favorite destination in New Zealand and why?
A. My Favourite destination in New Zealand is the South Island’s West Coast. There you can experience glaciers surrounded by rainforest, towering mountains and beaches all within 15 km of each other!
Q. If people are interested in booking a tour with you, where can they find you?
A. People can find more information on our website located at www.theroadtrip.co.nz
It is often a novelty being an expat, and today is one of those specific days where the locals celebrate very differently to back home. I know today as Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, or the day before the beginning of Lent, but Paczki Day?
A Paczki is a jam-filled doughnut, and if you were ever going to splurge on stuffing your face with doughnuts in Michigan, today would be the day. People are buying them by the dozen! I had to do a little research to find out what Paczki Day is all about, here is what I found:
Paczki’s originated in Poland, and were invented from the need to rid your kitchen of foods that were forbidden to be eaten during the Polish Catholic’s fasting of Lent. The tradition in Michigan was started by the large Polish community, particularly in the town of Hamtramck, where they even throw a Paczki Day Parade every year! The modern Michigan Paczki is no longer simply a jam-filled doughnut coated in sugar, there are many different fillings to choose from ranging from custard, chocolate creme, lemon curd, stewed apple….and every jam flavor you can think of! To make sure you are pronouncing it like the locals, the correct pronunciation is ‘pooonch-key’.
I have to admit that I have not had the chance to try a Paczki today! I had every intention to try one, but the local bakery had a line of locals stretching down the street, excited to indulge on this special occasion (and this Aussie is not a fan of standing outside in freezing temperatures for long periods of time). I figure if I go back tomorrow, there will still be some left over? But if Paczki day is truly a religious celebration I may not be able to find this indulgent treat during Lent!
Does food drive your travel decisions? Or are you at the very least intrigued and overjoyed by a great meal? I was a sales rep for many years, traveling to hundreds of US towns and cities. I would always take the time to explore each city as best I could with the time I had spare. Sometimes, I had no time spare, and my way of experiencing at least a little of my current destination was by eating at a well-known, even famous restaurant. I would always ask around for the restaurant I ‘must-try’ while in town. The US is a melting pot, with many cities known for dishes that did not originate there, but I can assure you if you want to try the best burger you have ever tasted, you will find it somewhere in the US, in a restaurant/food truck/diner that the locals rave about.
I have encountered travelers who were disappointed with the pizza they tried in Italy, or the fish and chips in the UK, but I assure you they simply ate at the wrong place! Food is a big part of many travel memories for me, and it is found to be a big motivator for many travelers. The great part about food as a budget traveler, is that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to find an authentic local meal that will become a vivid memory for the rest of your life. So, why am I talking so much about food? In 2013 many tour companies are highlighting food as one of the main attractions in many destinations, and travelers are loving it! While it is always reliable to try famous restaurants listed in your Lonely Planet guide, or recommended by the locals, it is even better to take it one step further and travel on a tour specializing in food. How much better can it get traveling with a local guide that knows the best kept food secrets at every stop? It might sound cliche to say you had the best Pad Thai you have ever tasted in Thailand, but it is true that you will find the best Pad Thai in Thailand! Dishes like Pad Thai often become an over-sold dish by local restaurants hoping to lure in the tourists, but when you travel with a local guide on a tour that has been specifically designed around food, you WILL experience the best of the best when it comes to food.
I understand that not everyone wants to dedicate their entire trip around food, but for those that do there are many tour options available for you. And for those that don’t, but still want to experience some great local cuisines, there are many day tours on offer, or even short 2-3 day food tours, some even offering cooking classes. Intrepid Travel has recently launched an amazing series of tours specializing in food. These tours range from a few hours to many weeks in destinations all over the world. And the best part? They are currently offering 10% off all of their food tours if you book in February. You can check out Intrepid’s array of food tours here.
So, if I just made you really hungry for a mouthwatering authentic dish, or I gave you the urge to want to travel to Thailand just to try the best Pad Thai you will ever taste, then you are one of those travelers inspired by food…..even if you didn’t think you were before!
I confess. I am a terrible packer. I have traveled extensively, even living out of a suitcase for over two years! But I still dread packing and re-packing, and the idea of having to empty my entire bag just to find that one shirt drives me nuts at the best of times.
Well readers, I bear good news! I think I may have found a solution to my packing problems. I recently came across the very inventive Packing Cubes. This packing revolution allows you to organize your bag into different compartments, and not have to un-pack EVERYTHING in order to find that one item. Packing Cubes are also a really great way to separate your clean and dirty clothes, avoid your toiletries from accidentally leaking onto your one nice outfit, and surprisingly they seem to create more space in my bag! I am yet to actually put these packing cubes to use, but I am even more excited about our trip to the Cayman Islands next week, knowing that I get to test out my new travel gadget!
This video demonstration pretty much breaks down the usefulness of packing cubes:
The TravAddict Adventure Travel Video Series has returned with its 5th episode! Earlier this week Candice got the chance to chat with Erin from G Adventures. As one of the largest Adventure Travel Companies in the world, G Adventures has over 700 tour itineraries worldwide, boasting a number of different travel styles to suit almost any personal travel interest. Erin elaborates on the launch of G Adventures’ new itineraries to Australia and New Zealand in 2013, and the expansion of their unique local living tours. As one of the fastest growing travel companies in the world, G Adventures is worth checking out when planning your next overseas trip. Want to know Erin’s top picks for hot destinations in 2013? Watch the interview to find out!
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!
Many travellers have dreamed of visiting 100 countries in the world. This is realistic and doable for many people who are extremely passionate about traveling and exploring the variety of cultures the world has to offer. These ambitious travelers are able to achieve these goals because of the ever-expanding network of airlines that have popped up making traveling increasingly more affordable.
One man, however, is even more ambitious and decided to attempt to visit not 100 countries, but every single sovereign country in the world. What makes this Englishman’s goal unique is the fact that he has refused to use airplanes as a mode of transport.
Graham Hughes is the man on this journey and he has been tracking his adventures here. The expedition has been certified as a Guinness World Record for most countries visited in one year. His journey is truly an inspiration to every traveler. He has travelled the on a extremely small budget (<$100 / Day) by traveling mostly on cargo ships or found hosts through the popular website couchsurfing. Graham has also spread awareness and raised over $10,000 for WaterAid, a charity that improves access to safe and clean water in developing countries.
Graham has worked in film and has been documenting his entire journey on film. The trip has been developed into an eight part miniseries that has been shown on National Geographic and is produced by Lonely Planet. Have a look at the National Geographic website to get a peek at the series.
We are truly inspired by Graham’s unwillingness to conform to expectations and take on extreme risks.
Our first episode for our 2013 Adventure Travel Video series is now live! The series is designed to give insights into the latest Adventure Travel options for travel seekers as they start to consider their travel plans for 2013.
In our first interview, I spoke with Becca from Tucan Travel. Becca explains Tucan’s adventure travel specialties, in particular their established reputation in Latin America. Additionally, Becca gives a run down of Tucan’s new tours in 2013 as well as recommendations for travelers still looking for an exciting destination in the coming year. Burma, Sri Lanka, Borneo, Montenegro, and Slovakia are on Becca’s radar for hot destinations in 2013.
Be on the lookout for future episodes that will highlight more exciting trips for 2013. My next interview will be with Johanna from Travel Talk Tours on December 4th at 10:00 AM GMT.
Sign up to watch our chat with Travel Talk live here:
Check out my interview with Atlas Sliced about working as a tour guide in Europe:
Atlas Sliced is the ONLY travel web show that features interviews with travel experts about how to live and work abroad long-term. You can check out more of Alexa's inverviews here
I had recently stumbled across an online article that featred a secret train station in New York. The article claimed that if you get on New York’s #6 subway and ride it to the Brooklyn Bridge station, you can stay on the train while it turns around and get a glimpse of New York’s ‘secret train station’. Having been to New York many times, I was surprised that I had never heard of this! The ‘secret station’ is actually New York’s old Central Station, and has been closed for many years. It was built in 1904, and it is probably best known for being used as a set in the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is apparently quite beautiful, and before September 11 there were plans to turn the old station into a museum. But after September 11 the plans were never completed. The station is apparently very well preserved, and these pictures I found on Flickr show it:
So on a recent trip to New York, visiting the secret train station was on the top of my list. I caught the #6 train to the Brooklyn Bridge station, and so far so good. I was not told I had to exit the train, and I stayed on for the train’s turn-around. I thought maybe there might be others who had heard of the secret station, and join me. But alas, I was the only one on the train. We moved quite slowly in the pitch black for a few minutes, and then the train stopped in its tracks for what was probably 5 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity to a single female alone on the New York subway. At least I felt assured in the fact that I was actually the only person crazy enough to stay on the train, so I was relatively safe. As the train started moving again, I had my camera ready and was eagerly awaiting a glimpse of this magical train station that ‘no one knows about’. Do you want to see what I saw?
Nothing. Just pitch black. It would have been helpful to know that if there is in fact a ‘secret train station’, you aren’t going to see it because the lights aren’t on! So, I left the train confused. I wasn’t sure if we actually passed a train station but I didn’t see it because it was not lit, or if I was scammed and spent an hour of my day in New York exploring a ‘secret’ that does not exist. I contemplated getting back on the train and going for another round, holding my hands to my face against the glass hoping to catch a glimpse, but I figured what is the point? If I do actually see anything, it won’t be much. So I gave it a miss and headed to Magnolia’s for a cupcake:-)
I was however very curious when I arrived home why someone would claim there is a hidden train station if it doesn’t actually exist. So I did a little research, and there is a lot of information online claiming you can see this hidden train station on the number 6 train! I also found this youtube video:
These guys saw a whole lot more than I did, and even they didn’t see much! So, I guess my point its, if you read travel advice online (and no, I don’t exclude my own advice), make sure you do a little more research before you decide to spend your time exploring something that might be a major disappointment. For those of you that actually do want to visit New York’s old Central Station, the MTA Museum offers limited tours of the station throughout the year. Maybe you could plan to ride the train on a day that a tour is scheduled to ensure the lights will at least be on!
In light of it being Halloween, I wanted to recognize one of the scariest travel experiences I have had. I can’t say that I would go out of my way to book a ghost tour on my travels (I can’t even watch scary movies), but in Edinburgh, Scotland ghost tours are quite popular, so it was something I decided I had to do. Our tour started off walking the streets of Edinburgh by nightfall, and our guide, dressed in an old black dress, was very theatrical and interesting. Her witch and ghost stories about the history of Edinburgh were capturing and intriguing, and I was having a good time. After all, what is so scary about being outside with a group of people, right? I was finding the tour very entertaining…….until she led us into the haunted underground vaults. It was dark, and incredibly scary given the combination of the theatrics, the underground darkness, and the look of fear in everyone else on the tour. I found myself clutching onto the sleeves of strangers as I walked through the vaults, wanting to turn back, but I had to keep walking, because I wasn’t turning back alone. We were led through a number of vaults, and in the last vault I was so scared, I think I stopped listening to the guide for a while, hoping the time would pass quicker and easier. When the lights went out, and we were left in the pitch black of the vaults, I was then well and truly scared. After the horrifying experience in the vaults, we went to a bar and relieved our fears with a drink (I relieved mine with like 8).
While I was probably not the best candidate for enjoying a ghost tour, it is still something I would recommend doing when visiting Edinburgh, and if you like being scared, then I absolutely recommend it! I did this tour with Auld Reekie Tours, and I did the adults only tour, but I am sure the ones that allow children aren’t nearly as scary if you don’t think you can handle it! Ghost tours aside though, Edinburgh is an amazing destination which you should consider putting on your list of places to go on your Europe tour. I will elaborate on my awesone trip to Edinburgh some other time, but in the meantime, enjoy Halloween, and keep it scary!
By Candice O'Reilly
It seems there is a festival for everything in Europe! I recently wrote a guest blog post about about my favorite festivals in Europe, and I was asked if I had been to the Onion Festival in Bern, Switzerland. Onion Festival? Sounds really interesting. At first I imagined a festival of culinary delights featuring any and every dish made with onions. While the festival does boast some amazing street food like cheese and onion pies (yum, and a second yum because I am Australian and have a genetic obsession with savory pies), the festival is also filled with over 700 stalls selling anything and everything made from onions. You can buy onion wall decorations, onion ornaments, onion toys…..and the list goes on.
The festival is held only one day each year, on the fourth Monday in November. Over 50 tones of onions are brought into Bern specifically for the festival, so I can only imagine the pungent smell that encases the town! The local Bernese are all about this festival, and people come from all over just to experience this once a year celebration. The festival originated in the mid 1800’s when a newly built railway made it easy for farmers to transport their onions into town, and sell them in local markets. This flood of onions into Bern sparked the beginnings of a now very large festival that draws a huge crowd, and now involves live bands, street performers, prizes, and plenty of Swiss spirit! While I wish I could speak from first hand experience, I unfortunately have not graced the Bern Zibele-Märit (German for Onion Festival). BUT, after hearing about this intriguing festival solely based on celebrating the onion, I am excited to one day visit Switzerland in November, and see the Onion Festival in action first hand. After all, I cook with onions almost everyday. They deserve to be a recognized and celebrated vegetable!
So, if you happen to be in the process of planning an amazing tour to Europe this November, consider adding a few tears of ‘onion joy’ to your trip, and visit Bern on the third Monday in November!
When it comes to Australia’s capital cities, there are none more typically Aussie than Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory. Whether you’re a foreigner seeking a truly Australian adventure or a local just trying to get more in touch with your homeland, there’s no place like Darwin for a dinky-di Aussie experience. Here are four you won’t find anywhere else but Darwin.
Come face to face with a croc
Known for being home to some of the world’s largest saltwater crocodiles, the Northern Territory is the best place in Australia to experience a thrilling (but completely safe) croc encounter. Darwin’s Crocosaurus Cove offers visitors the chance to dive down into one of its enclosures in a fibreglass cage and come within inches of a five-metre crocodile.
Watch a flick at the Deckchair Cinema
While you might be quite familiar with the outdoor cinema concept, there are none quite like the Deckchair Cinema on Jervois Road, right on the water. Grab a drink from the bar, sit back in your comfy deck chair and enjoy one of the latest movies on the big screen. Get there early to enjoy a delicious meal prepared by a local food vendor. There’s also an endless supply of insect repellent on hand in case the mozzies are out.
Explore the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
Sure there are museums and art galleries wherever you go in the world, but there are few more closely tied to their country than the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Set in a tropical garden by the water in Fannie Bay, this facility tells the story of the region’s history, culture and indigenous people. It consists of five permanent galleries and is home to more than 30,000 pieces. It is here you’ll also find the five-metre body of iconic saltwater crocodile, ‘Sweetheart’.
Go for a dip at Berry Springs
Going for a swim in the local waterhole is a classic Australian pastime, and you’d be hard-pressed finding a nicer waterhole than Berry Springs, about 45 minutes out of town. This picturesque group of natural turquoise pools is surrounded by native flora and fauna, offering a truly unique natural environment that really has to be experienced firsthand to be properly understood. Dive under with a pair of goggles and spot numerous different species of fish and other marine life.
So book your airfares to Darwin and check out why the locals love it.
Author: Simon Byrne+ is an Australian travel writer who appreciates the wonders on his very own doorstep just as much as those overseas. Whether trekking through mountains in South America or kicking back on the beach in North Queensland, what Simon loves most about travelling is learning about each destination from the mouths of its locals.
Europe is one of TravAddict’s most popular destinations when it comes to our visitor’s travel interests, and we are happy to announce in 2013, Travel Talk Tours is branching out into the region, offering over 40 new itineraries to Europe’s hottest destinations.
Travel Talk has long been a world leader when it comes to budget tours to destinations like Egypt and Croatia, and their success in these destinations has allowed them to branch out into offering tours all over Europe. With the launch of a new product often comes great discounts, and Travel Talk has heavily discounted early bookings on their new 2013 Europe tours. With up to 50% off some of their departures for bookings made in 2012, traveling to Europe next summer will be a total bargain for those that book early!
With coach tours ranging from only 6 days up to 44 days, there is sure to be a tour to Europe with Travel Talk to suit almost any budget traveler. Travel Talk are passionate about creating a unique experience for their travellers. They combine experienced tour leaders, local guides, premium accommodation, transport and exclusive inclusions to create well rounded Europe tours with unbeatable prices. So if you have the desire to explore Europe on a budget with like-minded travelers, check out what Travel Talk has to offer in the region for 2013.
Here are a few our of favorite Europe itineraries available with Travel Talk that offer a 50% discount for early bookings:
28 Day Best of Europe Tour Visits: United Kingdom, France, Spain, Moncaco, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium.
18 Day Absolute Europe Tour Visits: United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium.
14 Day Italy and Croatia Tour Visits: Italy, Croatia
10 Day London to Venice Tour Visits: United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Italy,
Every traveler loves the comfort of booking a tour and having the re-assurance that your tour will not be cancelled. Tour cancellations can be big concern for budget travelers, especially those with limited time frames, or those booking discounted flights with high cancelation penalties.
Well, worry no more travelers! G Adventures recently announced that in 2013 ALL of their tour departures are guaranteed to depart (excluding unforeseen weather and safety issues of course). Not only does G Adventures guarantee your booked departure, they also offer their travelers Lifetime Deposits. The G Adventures lifetime deposit allows you to put a deposit on your ideal tour, but if for any reason you need to cancel, you can roll-over your deposit to a different departure, or even a completely different tour for an unlimited time.
G Adventures is well known for stepping off the beaten path, and taking travelers on a unique journey with inspiring itineraries. With over 800 worldwide tours on offer, and a number of award-winning itineraries, G Adventures is a leader in worldwide adventure tours. Here are a few of our favorite tours on offer with G Adventures:
- Indochina Discovery
Discover the heart and soul of Indochina on this 30 day tour of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Inca Discovery
Perfect for those looking to experience the region’s archaeological and cultural treasures in a short amount of time, this 8 day adventure to Peru includes a 4-day trek along the Inca Trail.
- Essential India
From the intricate saris of Rajasthan to the beautiful symmetry of the Taj Mahal, this 15 day tour is a photographer's delight and the perfect introduction to India.
- Kenya Camping Safari
From dramatic savannahs to the Great Rift Valley, experience Kenya in all its glory on this 9 day tour. Travel the vast open plains and rolling hills of the Masai Mara and scour the wilderness for Africa’s ‘Big 5’.
- Europe Encompassed
Geared towards budget-conscious travelers eager to check an entire continent off their ‘must-do’ list in one fell swoop, this adventure will take you to 9 of Europe’s most popular countries in 24 days.
The first time I visited New England in October, it blew me away. Coming from Australia, I had no idea of the beauty I was about to experience. The colors of the trees boasted bright reds, oranges, pinks and yellows, and extended for miles and miles along the winding roads of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The air is brisk, but it is still plesant to spend the day outside, and everyone seems to be in god spirits.
It was also my first time apple picking, an event that comes only once a year, so the locals really get involved and turn the experience into a fun day outside in the crisp air.
I also got to experience a Pumpkin Festival, where thousands of people come out and carve pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns, then light them as the sun sets. I was so intrigued by the fact that everyone makes an effort to get involved and enjoy the season, as it comes around only once a year.
Fall truly is a magical season in this part of the world, and it is (in my opinion) the best time of the year to visit the region. So, if you are looking for a great place to getaway in October, and you would like to visit a destination where the locals truly get involved with celebrating the season, plan a trip to New England, USA!