Thursday, 11 December 2014

Adventure travel to South America

If you are tired of rain and cold weather that does not let you leave the house for weeks now, maybe it is time to start thinking about taking a short trip to a place where the winter has not taken its toll. If you are not sure what you want to do, think about adventure travel to Nicaragua, or if you also want to visit the rest of South America, here we have a list of most interesting places you should definitely see while you are there.

Multisport Tour
Nicaragua, the land of lakes and volcanoes has to find its place on your bucket list among other “must visit” countries. This is one of the rare places on Earth where you can climb active volcanoes and even swim in the crater lakes. Another thing that bikers are going to love is that this place offers is biking tours of the mountains, volcanoes and tropical forests that surround them. With professional tour guides, you do not need to worry whether you are a beginner or an expert, as they will guide you through the whole experience, so you can both learn the basics or improve the skills you already have.

On the other hand, for those who prefer staying on the beach, Nicaragua, as well as Costa Rica, have the waves perfect for surfing. Many beaches are untouched and not crowded with tourists, so if you are already a skilled surfer you can go there by yourself and enjoy the weather, water and the sound of the wind and waves. And for those who want to try it out for the first time, there are friendly local surfers on the beach that will be more than happy to help you learn.


Lake Atitlan
If you find yourself in Guatemala, be sure to visit Lake Atitlan, as the nature has stayed untouched and unspoiled by the modern civilization. The weather is always beautiful, and the views are breathtaking. Also, there are villages near the lake, where you can meet local Mayans and learn about their culture, as they still live and act according to the tradition of ancient Mayan civilization. Guatemala too offers biking tours around the lake, with local guides that will take you to secluded places with breathtaking views.

Machu Picchu
One of the world’s most intriguing destinations that made to the list of seven world wonders, still remains a mystery to a modern man. Many people who have climbed to see the so called “Lost City”, described their experience as spiritual and magical. However, before deciding to go on this trip, you need to be prepared for climbing really high, amateur climbers can set out to this adventure too, but be sure that you are in good physical shape.

Iguazu Falls
Exactly between Brazil and Argentina, you will find one of the planet’s most beautiful sights, Igazu Falls. It is a 3 km long chain of waterfalls, surrounded with rainforests packed with unique wildlife. There are almost 300 falls that can be seen close up from the boat, take amazing pictures, but prepare to get a little bit wet. For those truly adventurous souls, you can go snorkeling, just be sure that you have a professional nearby, and that you are not too close to the slopes.

So pack your bags, swimming suit and cycling clothes, go visit some of the most beautiful places in South America, and experience a dream-like vacation.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Magical Tahiti Experience

I’ve always loved traveling and exploring unknown places. Whether it was a one hour ride to grandma’s house or a ten hour flight to a different continent, I was always equally excited about packing my bags and leaving for a while. Not only I experienced the world thanks to this passion, but I also learned that I fall in love with my hometown all over again every time I come back.

The list of the places that I visited is very long, but it seems that the list of the places I want to visit is even longer. Every time I visit a country, I either find that I want to come back and revisit it from another point of view – for instance, it’s one thing to visit a nation’s capital, but a whole different thing to go kayaking down its rivers.


I recently visited Tahiti and this experience will always be dear to me.

Why?

If you’ve ever seen just one photo of Tahiti beaches and landscapes, you’re probably guessing why. While it’s true that most beaches look beautiful, and we’ve all been to many beaches in our lives, and most likely loved it every single time, there’s something different about Tahiti. Standing on a Tahiti beach, you feel like you are a part of some amazing tropical island postcard, and you want to stay there for as long as you can.

If crystal clear blue water, amazing looking beaches and warm weather are not enough to convince you, Tahiti surely has other charms to offer.
There are two things that, in my humble opinion, stand out the most. It’s their traditional cuisine and the “hotels” for the tourists.

When it comes to hotels and tourism, in most cases people look for luxurious accommodation, or, for the very least, they look for modern looking hotels. When it comes to accommodation in Tahiti you’ll want to look for something (slightly) different. If you want a real tropical experience of Tahiti, you should look for tropical, authentic Tahiti accommodation.



These wonderful looking houses are what makes this experience so different to most other destinations – they give you a feeling of residing in an entirely different world. And even though it’s only for a little while, it surely is a lifelong memory.

Another amazing thing about Tahiti is, as stated above, their food. If you visit Tahiti and you don’t taste any of its exotic flavors, your experience, as amazing as it will be, will definitely be lacking something. And that little something is, for example, the cocoa bread, eaten mostly for breakfast along with coffee and cocoa milk.
Another absolute must from the Tahitian cuisine is the famous Pua’a Choux – a French term for an amazing meal of carrots, turnips, pork and cabbage (the word choux actually means cabbage in French, and if I remember well, the word Pua’a is a Tahitian word for pork).



In conclusion, Tahiti is a destination that will make you feel like you’re entered a different world, and this heavenly sensation is present everywhere – from its beaches and landscapes to its exotic resorts and traditional cuisine.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Being Green in Majorca: Tips on Eco Tourism

Want to holiday in Majorca but don’t want to fall prey to the tourist traps, mega resorts and chain restaurants serving up imported products that you could have found at home?


Travelling in Majorca doesn’t have to entail building up a huge carbon footprint and being responsible for nasty noxious gases– there are things you can do to be green on your holiday, meaning you can get all that sun, sea and sangria guilt free.

Recently, environmental damage is often at the forefront of our minds when we take planes, trains and buses, allowing us to acknowledge the impact our carbon footprint is having on the environment. With dramatic alterations in weather patterns all over the globe, it’s thankfully becoming an issue that’s difficult to ignore, which means that eco-travel options are popping up all over the place for the more green minded traveller. 


Hotels
Environmentally conscious hoteliers and farmers in rural Majorca are making it easier than ever to make sure your getaway is as eco-friendly as possible. And it doesn’t get any greener than Es Castell, which is an hour’s drive from the airport in Palma, nestled right into the island’s most beautiful rural surroundings. Here, the owners go to great lengths to ensure nothing is wasted, feeding food scraps to their farm animals and also reusing building materials to keep the 13th century hotel in tip top condition without buying new, where possible. They also make sure to employ local staff, use all local products and swap plastics in favour of glass bottles, basically ticking every eco-friendly box you may have.

Monnaber Nou is another option, and was the first rural hotel on the island. The property is stunning; surrounded by organic farms and orchards where they grow their own food to use in the restaurant. Dinners and glorious breakfasts on the terrace here will be the highlight of your trip (if you’re not a vegetarian) and will be complete with meat from the farm. They’ll also arrange guided tours into the countryside for you, so that you can learn more about what Majorca is doing to protect the landscape.

If neither of these locations tickle your fancy or they’re a little too remote for your liking, then typing ‘Agroturismo Mallorca’ into a search engine will bring up some equally enviable locations.

Shopping
The biggest eco-supermarket in the whole of the Balearics is Yerbabuena in Palma, which is dedicated to organic food and promoting a sustainable lifestyle. Most of the organic supermarkets on the island are situated in Palma, unfortunately, but if you’re looking for groceries or just some healthy snacks to accompany your picnics in the park, then farmer’s markets take place all over the island every single day. (Check here for more details about when the markets are on). The best organic produce market is probably Mercado Ecologico de Palma, held on Saturday mornings in Pla├ža Bisbe Berenguer de Palou.

If it’s gifts and souvenirs you’re looking for, or something to give to any hosts you’re staying with, Ecologia in Palma sells eco-friendly items such as toys, cosmetics and even pens made out of corn. Or if you’re in the south, Ecoteca is a fantastic organic store in Santanyi.

Restaurants
In Palma and Palmanova, the eco-conscious Amadip Desment does good in more ways than one. This is a NPO organisation employing mentally handicapped people, and their restaurants offer home grown, organic produce. (Side note: this is a better for lunch than dinner).

At Ca Na Toneta, ‘catch of the day’ really means just that – the two sisters who run the restaurant make a morning visit to the port, and then base the evening’s dinner on their find. Healthy, organic goods are served alongside their own personal fruit stock.


Activities
Sometimes it’s finding things to do on your travels that proves most difficult when you want to remain environmentally friendly. Quad biking, motorbike tours and driving across the island and back are a big no-no for those of us who like to stay fume-free when we can. If you don’t fancy curling up with a book all week, then there are other ways you can have fun without the harm.

ProNature travel is a service which is hoping to promote rural tourism in Majorca, allowing travellers to appreciate the natural beauty of the untouched, litter-free parts of the island that haven’t been attacked by the big, corporate building companies and their lust for mega resorts. Their bird watching tours will guide you deep into the countryside, and the expert ornithologists will give you all the information you need as you witness black vultures and raptors first hand in the feeding zones laid out all over the mountains.

If you prefer to go it alone, then Mondrago National Park in the south has miles of zigzagging walking trails, with wetland, farmland and secluded beaches where you can swim in the crystal clear waters and take a mini underwater safari.

Alternatively, the Cabrera Archipelago Maritime Terrestrial National Park is a set of 19 islands off the south of Majorca, and can be reached by boat. (Although be careful as only 50 boats per day are permitted to enter, meaning you’d be wise to book in advance). Here, wildlife roams aplenty and free, with dolphins, whales and turtles swimming amongst breath-taking caves and corals. Snorkelling requires a permit, and fishing is completely banned, but as far as untouched nature goes – you won’t find better.

You can find even more information about ‘no frills’ excursions, secluded beaches, parks and treks here. Hopefully these glorious sights will remind you of the perks of being green, and why eco-travel is the most satisfying way to be a tourist.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Eco-Traveller’s Guide to Camping

An appreciation of camping trips and nature go hand in hand; generally those who wants to snuggle up under the stars also want to ensure those stars aren’t blacked out by a blanket of noxious smog.

But how to camp in the most eco-friendly way possible, without leaving a negative carbon footprint?

Environmental Camping

The UK is doing a great job of introducing new, innovative, environmentally-friendly options for campers.




Take the Trellyn Woodland campsite, for example, which has introduced geo-huts for visiting campers. These futuristic-looking huts are made from recycled timer and all the fittings and furnishings are made from renewable, recyclable sources. They even have compost-toilets and produce all electricity via solar panels.

Another notable site is the Eco Camp in Sussex, two stylish ecological campsites set amongst the beautiful bluebell forests of Wild Boar Wood and Beech Estate.

The site offers solitude and privacy within the bushes and trees for the ultimate escape to the countryside. They offer totally off-grid camping, with an ecologically-friendly shower system, as well as eco toilets. A truly green and guilt-free experience!

Environmental Caravanning

Although some may think of caravanning as having a detrimental impact and to come with a giant carbon footprint, if you compare it to air travel it wins every time. Designers and manufacturers are also doing their best to make caravans even more eco-friendly. Take a look at a couple of designs and concepts changing the face of caravanning:



Photo source: Cosford Caravans

This VW Westfalia camper has wood panelled sides, a solar panelled roof and is equipped with a 4-speed automatic turbocharged bio-diesel hybrid drivetrain, which means when you aren’t running on electricity, you can power it with recycled vegetable oil! (You can read more about it on the Cosford Caravans website).

Eco-glamping



Recent camping trends are driving people towards these enticing looking Mongolian tents, which usually have a covered hole in the ceiling so you can lie down and watch the stars. This style of camping also means you can actually get a good night’s rest, without having to lie on the hard, rocky ground below.

One great place to glamp is the Long Valley Yurts site in the Lake District and Peak District, where you can get back-to-nature without compromising on comfort. Each yurt comes with a wood-burning stove, comfy futon beds and solar lighting.

Tips for eco-campers

Although these campsites and caravans offer the promise of guilt-free travelling, eco travelling is a collaborative effort and you still need to be conscious of protecting the environment. Here are some ideas to get you in the right mind-set of ‘leave no trace’:

  • Save electricity by using wind up lanterns
  • Buy second hand camping gear (it counts as recycling!)
  • Use designated fire pits and use allocated firewood and kindling
  • All over the UK you can find pre-designated walks and so be sure to save the surrounding fauna by keeping to the trail (especially in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty)

As always with camping the aim is to find a balance between responsibility and enjoyment. We have a duty to protect the environment, but don’t let that get in the way of enjoying your holiday!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Top Unusual World Festivals

1.Turkey Testicle Festival
The secret is in the name with this festival, as attendees are encouraged to gorge on glorious, deep fried animal testicles. There are several of these festivals in the states, but the oldest is in Byron, Illinois. If the sound of turkey testicles doesn’t tickle the taste buds, remember that it’s for charity (and there’ll be live music and events to appease you as well).

2.Japanese Unusual Festival
This festival takes place at Kanayami Shine in Kawasaki (about 30 minutes from Shibuya – which is in central Tokyo), where prostitutes reportedly used to pray to ward off sexual diseases. Giant carved  are carried through the streets, festivalgoers chew lollies and men dressed casually wander the streets. Definitely one of those festivals you have to see for yourself, as pictures just don’t do it justice.





3.Monkey Buffet, Thailand
Although Thailand’s monkeys are usually thought of as devilish little rascals, this festival celebrates their sneaky greed by offering them 4000 kilograms of candies, nuts, fruits and vegetables to gorge on. The festival attendees dress up in monkey costumes, dance around doing monkey dances and generally imitate the little critters all day.  It takes place at Phra Prang Sam Yot temple in Lopburi Province.

4.International Sahara festival, Tunisia
Set in Douz, right out into the desert, this festival is not only spectacular for its location. Camels bear their teeth and fight, greyhounds race for live bait and people battle it out atop camels in daring races across the sand. A bellydancing lady also balances 7 clay pots on her head, and young girls do a mesmerising hair-shaking dance. As Douz is rather far into the desert, you might want to think about staying in one of the towns or cities to get the full feel of the country. Sousse is a lively town on the coast with lots of things to do, or Hamammet, which is equally favoured amongst tourists. This festival takes place around Christmas time and lasts for 4 days.

5.Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling, England
In the heart of the English countryside in a county called Gloucestershire (pronounced ‘glostersher’) the locals honour one particularly strange, long running tradition, known as the ‘cheese rolling festival’. Over the course of the day, a large wheel of double Gloucester is rolled down Cooper’s Hill and festival attendees run down the terrifyingly steep slope after it in an attempt to catch it. Whoever makes it down the hill first gets to keep the cheese and take it home as their prize. If you’re coming from London, don’t be fooled – even though the UK is small, this is a 3 hour drive from the capital!

Been to any festivals you think can top this? Let us know!