Apr 7, 2013 16:25 - rhoyal | 434 views
When the average person conjures up an image of what a ski resort should look like, they commonly picture long ski lifts taking droves of people up classic alpine mountains. Prices are high, lines are long and every facet of the experience is oozing with commercial enterprises, making winter ski resorts into the malls of the mountains. If what you are looking for is a visit with a little more style and flair, then you should check out these breathtaking ski resorts that have no qualms about breaking the mold.
Located on the Israeli controlled side of Mount Hermon, this hotly contested ski resort is a great location for anyone who looks beyond the bunny slope in their life. Resting on the far north of the contested border between Israel, Syria, and Lebanon, the ski resort serves as a strategic asset and has changed hands multiple times since the formation of Israel. Your trip through the Golan Heights to the resort will be accompanied by a series of mine fields to prevent travel over the border. Atop the resort is an observation post as the mountain, nicknamed the Eyes of the Nation, commands an incredible view that penetrates far into Syria. A special Israeli Defense Force military base is visible from the resort.
The Mount Hermon Ski Resort has no town accompanying it, and those people employed there reside in nearby Israeli settlements. The slopes themselves start at a height of 1640 meters and rise to a height of 2073 meters with restaurants located at the top and bottom for the famished skier. The resort is only able to open when there has been enough snow, so if you’re planning your trip you should aim for January through March, for this experience like no other.
When you feel that your skiing adventure should be something more fantastical than average, Mount Ruapehu is the place for you. It is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and starred in the role of Mount Doom in Peter Jackson’s epic production of the Lord of the Rings. It is the highest point on the North Island of New Zealand and has two commercial ski fields to choose from: Turoa on the southern slope and the larger Whakapapa field in the north. The eastern slope plays host to a field, which is maintained by a private club and members of the public do have access, however advance reservations must be made.
The Whakapapa ski field is the largest ski area in New Zealand and spans over 1050 hectares with over 65 trails for use. Whakapapa boasts the nation’s best beginner slopes at Happy Valley, located away from the other slopes to allow the novice to learn and practice in peace without feeling a need to compete. If you’re looking for a longer and more challenging descent then check out the Turoa ski area around the other side of the mountain. Turoa is the site of the longest vertical slope in all of Australasia and a host of advanced and intermediate runs that will slate your thirst for adventure.
These are not your everyday alpine locales, but rather are the destinations for the strong of heart and personality, looking to experience what life has to offer. So whether your desire to seek out that once in a lifetime epic ski adventure takes you into the combat embroiled holy land, or to the slopes of Mount Doom itself, you will be sure to have a tale worth telling on your return.
Apr 4, 2013 01:40 - 84petersmith | 282 views
Whether you’re taking a gap year, career break or just looking for a quick getaway to sunnier climes, there are endless opportunities for adventures abroad. From volunteer placements in distant lands to extreme sports in Europe, we look at the best options out there.
If sitting by a pool reading the latest best seller sounds like your idea of a hellishly dull break, chances are that you are one of the growing numbers of travellers looking for adrenaline-pumping adventure trips abroad. While standard package deals to beach resorts continue to do a brisk trade, the adventure travel and eco-travel industries are two of the fastest growing areas of the international tourism industry. And with increased competition leading to affordable air fares to all the four corners of the planet, the world really is your oyster when it comes to trips abroad – fancy spending six months exploring the jungles, mountains, rivers and beaches of South America? Try bungee jumping in Africa or combining nature-spotting trips with navigating the urban jungle in India. Or perhaps you’d like to stay closer to home and enjoy climbing and abseiling in the mountains of Europe. Wherever you want to go, there are endless opportunities to indulge your passion for adventure.
Wherever in the world you want to travel, you are sure to find volunteer work opportunities of some kind. These may range from informal word-of-mouth opportunities once you arrive at your destination to organised volunteer placements. There are an increasing number of international agencies placing would-be volunteers in destinations around the world, with opportunities to help out with everything from caring for wounded animals in Bolivia to helping to build homes and schools in Africa. Volunteer placements are incredibly varied in terms of physical destination, type of work, level of involvement and time scale and it is well worth taking some time to think seriously about the type of work you would like to become involved with, the type of skills you could bring to a placement and how long you want to stay. For those looking to travel alone to far-flung destinations such as Africa, India or South America, volunteer placements can be an excellent way to really get involved with local communities, while having the security of having accommodation and integration organised on your behalf. Note that volunteers will often need to pay a fee for agencies’ services and it is vital to properly research any agency before going ahead and booking your trip.
Independent Travel Abroad
Travel is always an adventure and many travellers like to leave the guidebook at home and personally discover new destinations. Adventurous travellers are sure to find ample opportunity for outdoor sports and activities as they travel the globe and may even discover volunteer work opportunities if they spend a significant amount of time in one place.
Setting your own agenda can be a wonderful way to see the world, although it helps if you can speak a little of the lingo wherever you plan to travel.
Author Bio: Smith is a teacher and freelance travel writer living in London with his two children. He loves everything about travel – from planning school trips to flying to far-flung destinations.
Apr 2, 2013 19:42 - travelinsreview | 422 views
Even those travelers who don’t consider themselves adventurers may find themselves in the position to do something adventurous while traveling. After all, travel is about experiencing what you can’t do at home, right?
Still, most people can recognize that adventurous activities like parasailing come with a little more risk than say a walk on the beach, and so, travel insurance companies isolate those activities and identify them as ‘hazardous’.
Travel insurance plans typically exclude coverage for adventure activities like hang gliding, parasailing, bungee jumping, even skiing and hiking in some instances. So if you’re the kind of traveler who likes to do those kinds of things on your vacations, or think you might have the opportunity to do so, you may think you’ve got only two options:
- Quit doing the stuff you like on your trips, or
- Skip the travel insurance and accept the risk
Lucky for you, travel insurance gives you options. While most travel insurance plans exclude those activities, they also offer adventure travelers the option to have their insurance and enjoy their sports too.
Let’s start by taking an honest look at the risks of adventure travel.
What are the risks of adventure travel?
The key is knowing what your travel insurance plan excludes and then, getting the coverage you need. To do that, you’ll need to think carefully about your upcoming trip and read your travel insurance plan document – specifically the Exclusions section.
If you’ll be doing any of the activities listed in that section, you’ll want to buy the coverage you need in case something like this happens:
- You’re climbing mountains in Africa when you suddenly become very ill and have to be airlifted off the mountain.
- You’re parasailing in Costa Rica when a strong gust causes you to crash hard and you need emergency medical care.
- You’re headed to Canada for a heli-skiing break with friends but your custom skis are stolen before you arrive at baggage claim.
- You pre-paid for a guided backpacking tour of Machu-Pichu, but when you arrive the business is closed for bankruptcy.
- You’ve pre-paid for a week of extreme mountaineering in New Zealand when severe weather causes a temporary shut down of all flights.
Of course, this is just a short list of examples of what could go wrong on an adventure travel trip but these risks can happen just about anywhere, anytime. It’s all about what you can afford to lose and your own comfort level with the risk involved.
What does adventure travel insurance cover?
Adventure travel insurance may be a specific insurance plan targeted to adventure travelers, or it may be an optional rider that adds a little to the cost of your overall plan.
It covers events like those listed above with:
- Emergency evacuation coverage – providing the funds and coordination necessary for a medical evacuation.
- Emergency medical coverage – providing advance payments or reimbursement for covered medical and dental care on your trip – even in a foreign country.
- Financial default coverage – providing reimbursement for your pre-paid travel costs if a travel supplier ceases operations.
- Travel delay coverage – providing a per-day amount to reimburse you for unexpected lodging, transportation, meals and more when your trip is delayed for a covered reason.
- Trip cancellation coverage – providing reimbursement for your pre-paid and non-refundable trip costs when your trip has to be cancelled for a covered reason.
- Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) coverage – providing a lump sum payment to you or to your beneficiaries should you become disabled or die on your adventure.
What kinds of travelers should buy adventure cover?
While not all travelers need adventure cover, you might be surprised to find that more need it than you might think. Here’s the list of travelers who should definitely look into having this type of coverage:
- Travelers on organized activity tours (think white water rafting, etc.)
- Newbies on a trip to learn a new skill (think SCUBA diving lessons)
- Experienced adventure travelers
If you think you’re an adventure traveler, or just want to act like one on your next trip, check out this Adventure Travel Insurance tutorial for more details.
Mar 31, 2013 21:43 - rhoyal | 10,675 views
The land of Turkey is an extremely mystifying and exciting location for anyone seeking a memorable vacation destination and new life experience. With a history of inhabitation and rich cultural development stretching back to the dawn of human civilization, and the unique position of serving as the gateway between the East and West, it should be no surprise at all that Turkey is home to some of the most spectacular and breathtaking sites in the world. One could easily spend their entire vacation in Istanbul with its wonderful architectural marvels such as the Hagia Sophia, or winding through its grand bazaar, but this ancient land has far more rewarding secrets for those willing to go off the beaten track.
Catacombs of Istanbul
Though many people know of the many splendors of this city above ground, an ancient wonder sleeps beneath the streets of the capital. Underneath the hustle and bustle of the surface lies an extensive system of catacombs and cisterns, some of which precede even the ancient civilization of Byzantium and have been dated as far back as 6400 BC. As the city changed hands and rulers, the catacombs continued to be expanded, first serving as a crypt in Byzantium and later being enlarged for use throughout the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. In modern days, Turkish municipal workers continue to unearth completely forgotten sections of the vast underground network, helping to reshape ideas about the region’s past. While some areas of the catacombs are too dangerous to allow for public visitation, many areas are open for the traveler looking to experience the city’s subterranean side.
Çatalhöyük is one of the world’s first cities, founded in what is now southern Turkey around the year 7500 BC in the Stone Age and lasting until about 5700 BC in the Copper Age. Excavation of the site began in 1958 and carried on until 1965 when the head excavator was expelled from the country. However, a new team arrived in 1993 and it is still going strong. Çatalhöyük is the single largest and most well preserved Neolithic city ever discovered and provides a spectacular chance to peer into the early days of civilization. Visitors are welcome to visit the site year round and encouraged to attend during the summer excavation months. In addition to seeing the actual preserved city itself, there are also numerous reconstructions of the mound homes, murals and other artifacts that present a stronger sense of immersion into the past. This is certainly not a tourist trap, but if you’re visiting Anatolia it is a must see.
Isle of Kekova and the Sunken City of Dolchiste
Off the Mediterranean coast of south-eastern turkey is the small island of Kekova, once part of a thriving province, now marred by ghost towns. Resting along the northern coast of the island are the partially submerged ruins of the ancient city of Dolchiste (Apollonia), which fell beneath the waves after an earthquake in the 2nd century. The city was inhabited throughout the Byzantine era, when it was rebuilt, though the site was eventually abandoned due to invasion. The Kekova region is also home to other ancient cities such as Kaleköy, which has a small sunken village and a castle that are only accessible by sea. While it may not be the lost city of Atlantis, the awe-inspiring sight of the sea claiming the land is one for the history books.
In the heart of the Güllük Dagi National Park stands the ancient fortress-city of Termessos. Rising to 1,665m above sea level, the city of Termessos towers high above the neighboring Taurus Mountains and is one of the most well-preserved ancient cities in all of Turkey. Supposedly, the city was formed by the legendary hero Bellerophon, slayer of the Chimera and was inhabited well into the Roman Era, until it was abandoned in an undetermined year due to the destruction of its aqueduct. Such a long period of habitation, independent rule, and abandonment rather than destruction has left the city in an extremely well-preserved state.
The approach winds up a steep road known as King Street, which passes through the walls, cisterns and residential buildings into the heart of the city. Murals and engravings still remain throughout, commemorating the Termessian fascination with augury. A well-preserved temple complex and theater rest in the center of the city, which still bear the engraved names of their financial benefactors. The region around Termessos is also home to a number of endangered species that have found safety in its isolation.
Not all of Turkey’s historical sites stretch into antiquity, and Kayaköy is the perfect example of how the geopolitical forces of the world continue to shape the direction of the country. Until 1923, a community of Greek-speaking Christians inhabited the village of Kayaköy until they were re-located to Greece at the end of the war between the two nations. The entire populace was packed up and moved out of the country, leaving behind all of their structures, which are intact except for some damage caused by an earthquake in 1957. The entire town has been declared a museum village and is unoccupied, except for a few residents who guide visitors around the ghost town. Travelers can wander through its eerily quiet streets and visit the 500 or so houses and two Greek Orthodox churches; there is also a private museum on site dedicated to the history of the town.
With Turkey’s agenda of cooperation and partnership in both the European Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, this ancient border region is moving into the 21st century and seeking to maintain its role as a pivot between East and West. This continuing trend toward opening the country and modernizing its role in the world means that now is the best time to get in and see all that it has to offer. Though many of these sites might sound exotic and expensive to access, the region is surprisingly easy to visit and there are always plenty of cheap package holidays to Turkey available, so you can enjoy an affordable trip. While you are taking in everything that draws so many tourists, make sure to take a few steps off the well-trodden path and see the country at its most authentic and inspiring.
Mar 25, 2013 09:30 - lucyclark | 136 views
If you’re looking for a truly memorable way to spend your summer vacation, then you need to visit Ireland. Speckled by rustic villages and bustling cities and wrapped in a picture-perfect coastline, the Emerald Isle offers vacationers the opportunity to experience a culture unlike any other. There are castles to visit, pubs to explore and islands to hike. Unfortunately, since you can’t do everything in just a week, you’ll need to budget your time wisely and narrow down your itinerary to include only the very best Ireland has to offer. To that end, here are four things you’ll definitely want to do when you visit Ireland this summer.
1) Peer over the Cliffs of Moher. Located in County Clare on the southwest coast of Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher are considered one of the “new” wonders of the world. Standing over 700 feet above a sheer drop into the Atlantic and populated by dozens of species of birds, the Cliffs offer a breathtaking view of natural splendor that’s all-but-extinct in the civilized world. It’s said that anyone brave enough to peer over the edge of the Cliffs will leave Ireland a different person than they were when they arrived.
2) Have a Pint in Temple Bar, Temple Bar. In business for more than 160 years, the Temple Bar is one of Dublin’s most famous pubs and an Irish institution. Located in the heart of downtown Dublin along the river Liffey, the pub – which shares the same name as the district in which it resides – offers travelers the chance to grab a pint in true Irish fashion with fellow patrons from all over the world. Sit back, relax and enjoy the traditional folk music before setting off to explore Dublin’s happening nightlife scene.
3) Ride a Bike Around Inishmore. Inishmore is the largest of the Aran Islands and one of the few places in the country where the traditional Irish language is still spoken commonly. Take a ferry out to the island, rent a bicycle and spend the afternoon riding paved roads through ancient ruins of villages. Just make sure you set a time and place to meet up with your group. Since the island is so removed from modern technology, “global” cell phones won’t get any service. For example, I brought a t-mobile nexus 4 along with us and learned the hard way that it was really only useful as a clock and a calculator. I ended up having to wait at the docks for over an hour for my husband to show up – which is a frustration you should avoid at all costs.
4) Visit Coole Park. W.B. Yeats is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets in history. Coole Park, the sprawling estate of Lady Augusta Gregory, is where Yeats spent most of his time writing and ruminating. Known as the center of the Irish literary revival, Coole Park remains open to the public and offers visitors a chance to tour a site of living literary history. Pack a lunch and spend a few hours strolling through the gardens, trails and deer refuge.
You might not be able to see or do everything in Ireland this summer, but if you decide to visit the Emerald Isle then you should definitely make sure to include these four things on your itinerary. They embody the very best Ireland has to offer – the natural splendor, the famous pub scene, the country’s ancient history and its literary legacy. If you can check all four off your list when you visit the Emerald Isle, then you’re sure to have an experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.