Oct 10, 2012 23:17 - 84petersmith | 2,806 views
Wanting to change it up and choose an adventure holiday doesn’t have to mean extreme sports and near-death experiences. A family-friendly adventure can add depth to your trip and can be based around activities such as walking, cycling and winter sports or even photography and wildlife viewing.
Deciding to forgo your usual sun holiday in favour of something a little more exciting can be a daunting prospect for many families. While the idea might seem exciting, the reality of choosing an activity can be difficult. An adventure holiday can come in many shapes and sizes and there will be something that suits your tastes, no matter how extreme or laid back you and your family are.
Walking trips are a great way of easing yourself into adventure holidays. You can often choose from a variety of planned itineraries encompassing a range of difficulty levels and you’ll get to see parts of your destination country that you otherwise never would. From hill walking in the UK to island hopping in Greece or climbing Kilimanjaro, the choices are endless and you can tailor your holiday to include as much, or as little, actual walking as you like.
Cycling holidays are ideal for similar reasons as walking holidays. There are always a number of routes and trips available no matter where you choose to go, so tailoring the trek to your family is easy. Cycling is a good choice for kids as it isn’t as hard going as walking, depending on your terrain and children tend to view cycling as a fun activity – especially if you manage to get ‘off road’ a bit on your journey.
Adventure travel in the snow
For most people, winter sports such as skiing and snow boarding are an item on the ‘bucket list’ that they never quite get around to. Choosing an adventure holiday package that encompasses these activities is the easiest way to give yourself and your family the opportunity to experience these type of sports. Beginner options are usually available and you will know the cost of your classes, equipment rental and experience in advance, to make things even easier.
This type of trip is ideal if you have creative minds in your family as it will provide an opportunity to let these skills shine. You can choose an educational adventure with photography classes and lessons or just choose a beautiful place in which to snap away – either way you’ll be in for a treat. This type of trip also makes remembering easy as you will have so many beautiful photographs to look back on.
A great choice if you have young children, wildlife holidays are bound to be punctuated with a chorus of delighted noises coming from everyone on them. Seeing animals in their natural habitat, whether you are on safari in Africa or seeing elephants in India, is an experience that cannot be duplicated at a zoo. Wildlife trips come in many different varieties and discussing what you would all like to see and picking your destination together is all part of the fun even before you set off.
You don’t have to be super fit or a daredevil to embark on an adventure vacation that the family will enjoy. Choosing a trip based around a specific activity will help make the experience memorable and may even result in new skills and interests. Certainly, it will give you and your kids something interesting to look forward to beforehand and to talk about afterwards.
Peter Smith is a travel writer who writes primarily for travel blogs and websites on the subject of adventure holidays. He prefers to travel with his family and has undertaken a number of walking holidays, skiing holidays and safaris with a number of children in tow.
Oct 5, 2012 14:54 - geraldinewalks | 2,601 views
The islands of Bazaruto are largely known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean”. True to its moniker, the archipelago consists of multiple island beaches surrounded by crystal waters. Considered one of Africa’s most beautiful destinations, Bazaruto offers numerous attractions and activities suited for visitors aiming for a laid-back, splendid vacation.
The seaward sides of the island offer you a number of dive sites to try in. Exploring the coral reefs of the archipelago comes even more enjoyable because of its uncrowded diving spots. Since this has already been made as a conservation area and a national park, you cannot help but just appreciate the vibrant and rich marine life living under its clear waters.
Average depths of diving sites are from 12-30 meters, and within these depths you can see ridges swarming with exceptional sea creatures from green turtles to whale sharks. Manta and eagle rays, dolphins, and hump back whales can also be seen under water.
One site that is good for open divers and those who are just new in diving is Margaruque. It boasts accessibility to tourists, thus, it is often swarming with snorkelers and divers. One can view the top of the reefs just when the tide goes low in Margaruque. You will be amazed by its huge collection of fish life – large parrot fish, angel fish, trumpet fish and sea goodies, to name a few.
If you want to see something adventurous while diving, you can go for the Two Mile Reef which showcases the appearances of whale sharks and turtles as you dive. The shy dugong also occasionally patrol the area; and because of the rarity of this occurrence, you can consider yourself lucky when you see one while diving. This is a good site for divers of all levels.
A lot of us have dreamed of taking photographs underwater, and Baluba Reef may be the perfect site for it – well, if you are a lover of nudibranch (a sea slug). Redfang triggerfish may entertain you first upon diving in, but your heart will be caught by the clown triggerfish, which appears as if they were painted real time.
Linene Reef, on the other hand, is the feeding ground of reef sharks and hammerheads due to its collection both of open sea and reef fish. Although, the reef dwellers seem to out-number the outsiders for it has every type of reef fish you might find. Eastwards, you will be traveling with the manta rays; go north of the ridge and you will be met by the barracuda, kingfish, and sierra. Due to the types of fish present, this site is only recommended for advanced divers.
For advanced divers with deep diver specialty, Marine Pinnacle may be a challenging but fun site to dive in. It houses a fairly small reef, and currents in the area can be strong if weather conditions are not friendly. On most days big turtles usually swim along with the divers, as if checking them out. Game fish such as marlin and sailfish abound here, making it a favorite fishing site. Whale sharks are frequent visitors in the area, and shark sightings are numerous as well, due the presence of reef sharks. During whale season on the other hand Humpbacks can be spotted swimming about.
Aside from having exciting diving sites, the archipelago also keeps a good list of sites where game fishing can be done. Surprisingly, there are a lot of places that you can choose from—one being among the best destinations for catching Black Marlins.
The Two-Mile Reef and Kingfish Alley often attract tourists who dig snorkeling and scuba diving because of the diversity of marine life beneath its waters. However, this is also a pool of open sea fish and as well as predators. You will be glad to see the reef in this area during low tide, for in that time, it is well exposed. Its deep waters have been made known by the pelagic species that reside in it, and the northern and southern edges are also amiable to those looking for GT’s. Kingfish Alley, on the other hand, is an abundant and sustainable source of trevally species (marine sporting fish of the Indo-Pacific), and if good weather arises you can work well in here with jigs, spoons, fly’s, as well as poppers.
If you are looking for a great spot to fish Black Marlins, you should go check Sandspit and Dolphin Bay Areas. Both of these sites render a good fishing spot for large wahoo, tuna, and king mackerel. This is also the favorite site for sailfish and black marlin fishing during its late season. You can expect to be fishing in calm waters in this spot despite the presence of cold spot southerly winds.
The 25-Mile Reef also has a record of enabling good marlin catch within its outer ledges. This long reef runs four miles with its shallowest part at eight meters and houses the peak of different marine species, which are as well surrounded by fusiliers, garfish, rainbow runners, and jubes. The endless variety of species that live here also include big GTs, kingfish, big talangqueenfish, crocodile cuda, and king mackerel. If you are looking for great results, vertical jigging trips use an artificial bait that you jerk up and down through the water—it is a must-try.
Boating can be fun in many ways, but it can also be more fun if you are in a two-thousand-year-old style lateen-rigged ship—the dhow. Bazaruto, the home of the Nile crocodile and many species of water birds, is the location of fully-catered safaris.
Like in Sailaway, you can enjoy dhow safaris by either spending a day at Magaruque Island or stay overnight to explore the reefs and the safaris extensively. Accommodations in the area are great and the food is delicious since you can feast on scrumptious seafood, which is the area’s specialty. Vegans need not to worry for there are specialized diets catered to their needs. Complete snorkeling gear is usually supplied, and the staff can arrange a professional diver for you if you want to scuba dive.
Aside from basking the rare and yet beautiful scenery of the area, much prettier sights await for you under water since dugongs are residents of Mozambican waters. Being one of the most endangered animals of the African continent, you cannot help but appreciate its beauty in the ocean.
About 70 kilometers away from the Vilanculos, you will find Manyikeni which houses the Vilanculos ruins. The main attraction in this area is the central stoned spot that is 20 meters in diameter and about 50 centimeters in height. These ruins are believed to be the trading point between the Great Zimbabwe (which ruins are found 350 kilometers away from this site) and the coastal town of Chibuene.
Manyikeni believes that it was once part of the Great Zimbabwe Empire, for its stone walls are built in a similar fashion. However, the most convincing part is the same kind of grass (Cenchrus, ciliaris) that is found both in Manyikeni and Zimbabwe. This is believed to have been brought by the natives from Zimbabwe to give rise to bovine farming.
Other artifacts that can be found around this historical site are the iron gong (also similar to the ones found in the Great Zimbabwe Empire), and unearthed glass beads and seashells that further confirms Manyikeni’s being a “trading site”.
Africa has been consistently famous for its wildlife safari, but is also offers more laid back horse safaris. As a tourist, you can experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure starting in Vilanculos or in Benguerra. Vilanculos has tens of kilometers of white sandy beaches where you can trot with the horses. Benguerra, the second largest island in Bazaruto, will let you indulge yourself in an engaging experience of horseback riding while touring the island at the same time. Not only does it showcase its white beaches and exceptional dive sites, but it also lets you enjoy its riding realms. Horseback riding will give you a different twist in exploring the Bazaruto archipelago.
Geraldine Mills is an enthusiast of African safaris. She is also a Community Outreach Coordinator for www.andbeyondafrica.com. Follow her on Twitter @geraldinewalks.
Oct 4, 2012 12:41 - 84petersmith | 4,506 views
The Northern Lights has been showing off mightily over the last couple of years – specifically in the winter of 2011-2012, when the Aurora Borealis (to give its proper name) put on some of the most incredible shows in recorded history. In some cases, the lights were so bright that the show could be seen as far down as Yorkshire – so those who were actually at the Pole when it happened got a sight they will remember for the rest of their lives.
The north pole holiday is the ultimate in adventurous, unusual experiences. For most of us, the idea of a place that goes dark for a month at Christmas time, and stays sunny for a whole month (with non sunset at all) in the middle of the year, is crazy enough. Add to that the fact that the air up at the North Pole is some of the cleanest on earth, and the terrain is unbelievably beautiful; it’s little wonder every man or woman and his (or her) dog is heading for the frozen North!
Ice hotels, which can be found in Canada, Norway and Sweden, make the absolute most of the frozen winter – constructing hotels entirely from ice. Beds, shower rooms, the lot – the whole thing is made of ice. You get special gear to wear when you’re inside, and you can even drink in the evening from glasses made of – you guessed it – ice.
Seeing the Lights is an adventure in itself. There are literally hundreds of ways to do it – which means your North Pole holidays can be as customized as you would like. From chasing the Aurora on a sled pulled by an enthusiastic team of huskies while dog sledding, to chasing it all over the continent in a bus (the bus drivers are in constant radio contact with each other so you get to the best spot when the show happens), you can go as traditional or as modern as you like. Some Scandinavian countries even offer the possibility of seeing the lights via the fjords, on the ferries and luxury boats that carry the Nordic people up and down the rugged coast of their country.
Prepare for serious cold weather when you go. Us Brits aren’t used to the kind of temperatures you experience when you get up to Northern latitudes. At the bare minimum, anyone going on a North Pole holiday should wear thermal leggings, a thermal undershirt and thermal socks; a fleece; jeans; and a proper goose lined coat. Also take a proper hat and scarf, goose lined gloves and a pair of snow boots because there is nothing in this world more miserable than not being able to enjoy the greatest natural light show in the galaxy because you can’t feel your feet!
Package deals abound when you go to the Pole. Typically, you will either be able to book a full holiday package including hotel, food and excursions; or you can just book the hotel, and arrange your excursions when you arrive at your destination.
Peter Smith is the manager of a leading holiday tour operator. He loves to write articles and blogs on various travel related topics. In this article he is sharing some valuable information with us on North Pole holidays.
Oct 3, 2012 12:12 - phyllis | 1,865 views
The vibrant music, cultural and culinary scene in Puerto Rico offers vacationers of all ages a stunning array of activities.
This was my third visit to this colorful and congenial island and I jumped right into the mix at the legendary El San Juan Resort and Casino located on a two-mile beach in San Juan’s Isla Verde district.
At the El San Juan, I encountered the locals dancing to the beat of sassy salsa rhythms. This happening occurs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. The magnificent marble lobby with its gleaming chandeliers and mahogany woodwork is packed with party-goers of all ages, dancing the night away to the sounds of a free band that plays into the wee hours of the night. Here, is the place to people watch and if you’re in the mood to dance, join the crowd.
For those that prefer classical music, there is the ballet, symphony concerts, opera and stage plays at the San Juan Performing Arts Center Hotel.
The El San Juan Resort and Casino has 386 guest rooms, nearly two dozen suites and several restaurants. The La Galleria, a shopping arcade with designer jewelry and fashion boutiques has reasonable prices. Other amenities include a day spa, casino and the Encanto Beach club. Another excellent feature of the resort is accessibility. It is located just five minutes from the airport and 15 minutes from downtown San Juan. For conventions, the hotel has 35,000 square feet of event space.
I love Italian food and I discovered some of the best authentic Northern Italian cuisine at the La Piccola Fontana restaurant at the El San Juan Resort and Casino. The ricotta cheese ravioli in truffle butter and potato gnocchi were super stars on the menu.
Being a foodie, I explored the culinary scene which is a mixture of Caribbean, U.S., European and Spanish influences with locally grown products adding fresh and flavorful zest to island cuisine.
My dinner at the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza was scrumptious. The salad that accompanied my meal was infused with sesame seed oil, basil and rosewater with a presentation that rivaled New York’s finest restaurants.
The Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza is also a happening night spot for locals as well as tourists. Located on the Condado strip, the hotel overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the Condado Lagoon. The modern newly designed lobby has a massive Moon Bar which has a 360 degree shape. Locals sit at the bar and dance in the lobby as they enjoy the sassy rhythms of a lively band. The Conrad has one of the largest casinos in San Juan. Located on the second floor of the resort, performers sing on the stage in the middle of the casino. The resort has more than 500 rooms with modern amenities such as high-speed internet access, flat screen televisions, electronic safes and refrigerators. For fine dining try Chef Wilo Benet’s flagship project, Pikayo and for late night dining, there is a Denny’s, like no other nearby, which is open 24 hours.
The luxurious Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza beach and pool area is accented by hammocks facing the ocean. There is also a sports complex with windsurfers, kayaks and snorkeling gear. The resort has three swimming pools, one salt-water and two fresh, including a swim up bar, a lap-pool overlooking the Condado Lagoon and a pool with a water slide for children. Try the whirlpool with its spectacular ocean views. There is also tennis, a 24 hour fitness center, business center, 40,000 feet of meeting space and kids program.
A visit to the busy and bustling San Juan would not be complete without a glimpse into its past in Old San Juan. I walked along the cobblestone streets and explored its centuries’ old ancient sights and fortress surrounding the sea.
Chic boutiques are intermixed with deco buildings. Shoppers will find a multitude of items to take home from paintings and prints by local artists to fine antiques from around the world. Tropical sauces and jams, tobacco and coffee are plentiful. You will also be able to purchase souvenirs from artisans selling crafts and homemade jewelry. Exquisite gold jewelry can be purchased for reasonable prices at numerous shops in old town and U.S. visitors don’t have to pay duty on items they bring home.
Puerto Rico is also the home of Bacardi, one of the world’s largest rum makers. Tours are available of the Bacardi rum factory with tastings.
The El Yunque Rainforest in Rio Grande is also a must when visiting San Juan. Paved trails allow for leisurely strolls as you connect with nature and view spectacular waterfalls.
While San Juan is an exciting, vibrant place to vacation, I also opted to spend a few additional days on Puerto Rico’s east coast at the El Conquistador Resort, a majestic Waldorf Astoria Resort with awesome views of the Atlantic Ocean, an 18-hole Arthur Hills Golf Course, Golden Door Spa and Coqui Water Park. The view from my room was spectacular.
The El Conquistador Resort, A Waldorf Astoria Resort is a destination resort with numerous activities to keep guests entertained. Sprawling across a cliff top high above the sea, the resort is comprised of a grand hotel with unique villages with awesome views. There are several variations of accommodations at the resort from one, two and three bedroom villas with kitchen facilities and private pools as well as butler service, 750 guest rooms and Las Casitas Village with 234 villas. There are more than 20 restaurants, bars and lounges, a Starbucks and casual dining spot called David’s Cookies where I enjoyed pastries, desserts and sandwiches after enjoying a day at one of the several freshwater swimming pools.
I spent a few days at the Golden Door Spa, lounging in the hot tub and steam room, enjoying a seaweed facial, a massage and taking fitness classes while my friends played golf on the championship course.
A boat from the El Conquistador whisked me to the resort’s 100-acre Palomino private island, where I sat under a beach umbrella in a cabana and watched the waves roll in as other guests rented paddle boats, wave runners and hobie cats. The island is a day trip for guests of the hotel offering the opportunity to enjoy the refreshing sea, a tropical rum drink, island food and local shopping.
The resort also has a casino and gourmet dining. The food is amazing. I highly recommend the Strip House with its juicy steaks and over-the-top luscious desserts. For those baby boomers with children and grand-children, I recommend the themed water park on the property which has water slides and inner tubes for fun rafting. The resort also has seven tennis courts, a fitness center, numerous boutiques, a marina offering deep-sea fishing charters, sailboats and catamarans for private charters or tours.
The El Conquistador is a family friendly resort with many programs for children and a host of activities to keep guests entertained and the setting is magnificent, one that makes for a vacation that will long be remembered, a true luxury getaway from the U.S.
For information the El Conquistador Resort, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, log on to: www.ElConResort.com
For information on Puerto Rico, log on to: http://www.seepuertorico.com
For information on the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza, log on to: www.CondadoPlaza.com
For information on the El San Juan Resort and Casino, log on to: www.TheSanJuanResort.com
Oct 1, 2012 15:06 - geoff | 2,608 views
Most people avoid darkness like the plague when they’re out hiking, and it’s true that if you come unprepared it’s a bad idea to stay out past sunset. However, there are a lot of reasons to try hiking at night; not only do you get a break from noisy daytime crowds, but you’ll also perceive your surroundings in a completely new way. It’s an exhilarating change from your usual experience.
You’ll be grateful to get to head out when it’s cool, especially if you live in a hot climate, and if you go during a full moon, you’ll still be able to see all the beautiful views that you get in the daytime. It can be a great adventure to start your hike just as the sun sets, and finish up just as it’s rising again (with plenty of rest in between). Read more