Author: Richard Telling

Catered Ski Chalets

This may sound blindingly obvious, but you might be surprised to know just how many people leave their own equipment at home on the assumption they will be able to rent some upon arrival, only to then find that it is not quite as readily available as they had hoped. A variation on this is making sure that you understand how much your hire charges are likely to be.

Do you understand what your catered ski chalets are offering by way of food included in the price?

There can be some surprising variations here, but it doesn’t need to be a problem, providing you haven’t been caught unawares by them upon arrival.

Is all of the equipment you are taking with you fully serviced and ready to go?

We are all busy and many of us are inclined to put off little jobs. Discovering that there are problems with your ski equipment after you’ve arrived on holiday is likely to lead to frustration and delay.

Don’t forget that your free European health cover isn’t full holiday insurance. It won’t, for example, pay for your medical repatriation if you are injured. Don’t overlook this area or decide to make false economies by not taking out cover. If you have a problem and don’t have appropriate insurance, the costs could prove to be literally ruinous.

Arriving at, say, 3.00 am without having previously notified anybody might cause you some embarrassment! Not to mention inconvenience.

If this sounds like further obvious advice, keep in mind that some research indicates approximately 10% of British travellers leaves home on international travel journeys having forgotten their passport! The chaos, frustration and intense disappointment that can result, to say nothing of the loss of money, can be substantial. Top tip – pack your passport in advance in your bag or a coat you are certain you will be wearing on the day. Don’t leave it until the morning of your departure.

Some catered ski chalets may operate one form or another of damage deposit system for newly arriving guests. This should never be sprung upon you unexpectedly and it will normally be made very clear at the time of booking. If it is a cash deposit, make sure that you have the money available and you don’t need to lose time the following day going to ATMs.

Florida Yacht Charter

The Cruising World magazine has recently rated the Gulf Coast of Florida the top yacht chartering destination in the whole of the US and for good reason. The immensely popular Fort Myers is a wonderful place to start your yacht charter in Florida. As relaxing as it is beautiful, Fort Myers offers the convenience of several top-notch marinas and is home to the City Yacht basin. This easy accessibility to Florida yacht charters marks Fort Meyers as a popular starting point. While there, be sure to take in the astonishing riverfront homes and peek at the estates of two of America’s shining stars – Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

A yacht charter in Florida simply wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Naples. Touted as a hub for the wealthy, Naples has more than its fair share of five-star restaurants and other upscale amenities. Indeed, Naples is the place to be if you’re intent on treating yourself like a star. Luxurious day spas combined with the beautiful scenery and delectable dining may make Naples you’re favorite stop on your Florida yacht charter.

Another great stop you could chose to make while on your yacht charter in Florida would be St. Petersburg. This bustling city is a tourist’s dream come true, with a dazzling array of shopping areas and resorts, plus world class golf courses. While sailing in and around St. Petersburg, be sure to take note of the exotic wildlife. Bald eagles, manatees and osprey are just a few of the species that inhabit the region.

Indeed, the ease of chartering a yacht in Florida makes it perhaps the best choice for people who’ve never before experienced the joys of yachting. If you do chose to treat yourself to a yacht charter in Florida, you can rest assured that the relaxation and dreamlike memories you’ll gain will be with you for years to come.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

The 1970s saw the birth of the Fossil Rim Wildlife Ranch as a business man’s personal retreat where he could enjoy being with his animals. It would later transform into an animal refuge and attraction with over 1,000 animals housed there. Similar to many other parks, Fossil Rim has several guided tours like the family tour or the adventure tour that you can reserve. However, if you prefer drive through the park with the family on your own it can be done as well. This allows you to take your time and explore the scenic drive path at your own pace. If you choose to tour Fossil Rim this way you can buy the CD or guide book at the Admissions Center. Please make sure to follow all the rules for the safety of your family and that of the animals. Whichever you choose, just seeing the animals is an unforgettable experience that everyone in the family will truly cherish.

The park offers so much more than just driving tours, whether guided or not. For example, if you would prefer the family can learn and dig for fossils in the fossil pit with the added benefit of a guided tour through one of the park’s preserve area. After so much excitement, the family will surely be hungry. The Overlook CafĂ© is the place to eat when exploring this park! You and the family not only get some good food, you also get a great view of the surrounding areas.

At the end of the day, you will have a great trip to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas. Build it up on the drive or plane ride there for your little ones by learning more about the animals you’ll see and animal conservation in general. Once there, just relax and have a memorable and fun time as a family. Couple this experience with camping and hiking and you will certainly create and nurture a love for animals and the environment as a whole in your children.

Family Getaway to Dalaman

Ancient Ruins

Some of the most popular ruins near Dalaman are in Aga Limani. Families enjoy a short hike through the cove and to see the ruins of Lydea. Hippokome or the “city of horses” is another popular site for ruins exploration. This ancient city is situated on a hillside, and easily reachable with a Dalaman car rental. There are six tombs to view right within this area.

Other ruins in the region include stone cut tombs in Gokdag, Lycian in Kayadibi, the ancient city of Oktapolis in Bozbel, and Hisar. There is many an adventure waiting for families, as well as plenty of photo opportunities amongst these ruins.

Pristine Beaches

Want to swim in a warm, blue lagoon? The Blue Lagoon is a natural spot where it’s only a couple Lira for admittance, and so worth it! Visitors enjoy the beauty and kids are safe because the water is shallow. Enjoy the sunshine and snack bar, swim, or even take out a kayak.

Turunc Beach is another popular destination, and features wind surfing and other watersports are popular here, and there is a promenade leading to the nearby village.

With a Dalaman car rental, one can travel from beach to beach and take each one in not missing a thing as Dalaman is home to many breathtaking beaches and bays.Be prepared to take in some very photographic views and feel your cares melt away.

Phenomenal Waterparks

Looking for a unique spot where you can spend quality time with your friends, family and kids?

Aquapark is the leading waterpark in Dalaman, Turkey and it’s easily reachable with a Dalaman car rental. This is a park where guests are invited you to spend a day cooling off on the most amazing water attractions. There are slides and attractions for all ages so it’s appropriate for a family holiday destination. The well-known wave pool, crazy rivers, kid’s lagoon and variety of slides makes for the perfect day out.

Shopping and Dining

If shopping and dining sounds like the perfect day out, hop into a Dalaman rental car and visit some of the most prominent places for shopping. Shopping is relatively cheaper here, so there are great bargains to be had! Markets are great for clothing, handbags and shoes. Visit the many unique shops right in town.

As far as dining, a Dalaman car rental can get the family to any type of restaurant. Turkish cuisine is plentiful as well as many cafes and local eateries that offer stunning views. Don’t skip the roadside restaurants; they often have the best tasting food.

Night Life

A Dalaman car rental will get travellers to Olu Deniz. Evenings along this promenade are filled with ice-cold cocktails and a variety of dance bars. After this, head to the village of Hisaronu for some late night festivities. Another hot spot is Tequila Bar and Restaurant at the Marcan Beach Hotel. Their specialties are Margaritas and Mojitos, but everyone is sure to find their favourite. Classic rock is the choice music played here, and they even pass out sparklers to patrons.

Viva La Bali

The island feel is quite different from that of Thailand and the surrounding Indonesian islands, an overgrown town or dwarf city runs the entire width of the island providing a bustling metropolis Indonesian tourist culture. I say tourist culture as this is not the Indo way of living, I am quite sure that if you were to visit a dainty town in the mainland half the public would be 24 hour taxi drivers and the other half selling bracelets, but nevertheless the air is highly charged and the area has a good overall feeling.

Surfers from all over the world hit up the semi famous beaches surrounding the area known as Kuta which promise reliable and powerful waves, the perfect opportunity to show off to the thousands of bikini clad girls which line the shores. Kuta beach itself is well known for world famous surf competitions drawing in large names and mainstream watersports brands from Australia. So much so that Bali is one of the only places in Asia you can find actual genuine clothing from the manufacturer whose brand is attached to it. This is not to say that fakes are not abundant presenting a humorous juxtaposition between the towering Billabong surf equipment store and the guy who stands outside muttering ‘Billibang’ under his breath and motioning to his collection of rebranded Primark quality garments.

A sporty place for sure, Bali isn’t only known for its surfing but has a great reputation for almost all watersports; Rental and tour shops line the streets and shores offering wake boards, wind surfing, kite surfing, jet skis, banana boats, speed boat trips, snorkeling tours, kayaking, paddle boarding, scuba diving and personalized experiences.

Surrounded by mountainous areas the coast and ocean are not the only places for a holiday maker to entertain themselves. Trekking and hiking routes web the terrain with the option to go alone or with a tour guide.

Bali is split up into several sections, some better known for some things and of course other for others.

A great draw for Suba Divers Bali is part of what is known as the Coral Triangle, an area with incredibly high and diverse marine biological species, in the triangle alone more than 500 Coral reef building species can be sighted. This might not sound as impressive until I tell you it’s about seven times as many as can be found in the islands making up the Caribbean.

Aside from sport related activities the nightlife in Bali covers a full range from disgusting but affordable to Norwegian posh, something for everyone a guy with little imagination might say. Or if you are looking for daytime low energy entertainment please check out Bali’s museum district, famous for sculptures, artifacts, leatherwork and metal work, Indonesian art has come a long way but has never ceased to be fascinating.

The province Indonesia includes not only Bali Island but a few other nearby land spits. One to visit would be Nusa Penida to the West, or take a trip to Java and Lombok, enjoy your trip.

Exotic Lombok Island

Part of its charm is its undeveloped nature, coupled with a very relaxed and low key environment. Most of the travelers that make their way to Lombok are adventure-seeking souls who absolutely love being outdoors. These type of explorers are drawn to the island’s varied landscapes and activities such as surfing, hiking, snorkeling and diving. One of the highlights for many adventurous visitors coming to the Lombok region is trekking Mt. Rinjani.

Domestic tourists prefer vacationing in Lombok than in Bali for a couple of valid reasons. But the main reason is perhaps the big difference in the overall travel costs. In Lombok, accommodation, food and sightseeing tours are much cheaper. Another great thing about Lombok is that a large part of it is not mass tourism-oriented. Large gated complexes and noisy bars have not taken over the beach scene. If you want to truly experience rustic Lombok, consider a homestay in farmhouses, mountainside villages or simple homes on the beachside.

Staying with a family provides several advantages such as learning the authentic way of island living especially for the Sasak people. Your hosts may also offer to take you fishing, farming, hunting and even show you how to cook local dishes. And speaking of dishes, Lombok is known for its red and green chilies and spicy cuisine. This is quite understandable for an island that literally means chili in the Bahasa Indonesia language. Grab the opportunity to taste local dishes and accompany it with the fiery condiment called sambal.

The beaches of Lombok are quite stunning and they do not get as crowded as Bali’s. If you long for seclusion, venture to the southwest section of the island. Lombok also has some sandy stretches that can muster up huge waves. This is why the island receives a large number of surfers every year. Some of the most popular places to tackle the surfing breaks include the tiny Gili Nanggu Island and Bangko-Bangko (Desert Point).

To get a taste of Lombok’s passion for the arts, organize some village visits either on your own or with a tour company. By doing so, you will get a nice opportunity to see how locals expertly dye fabrics using the traditional technique called ikat. There are also a number of artisans who can masterfully make and decorate pots. You can also drop by the Sayang Sayang art market, and shop for excellent locally made crafts and products like pearl-decorated wooden boxes and baskets made of strong rattan.

Encountering the Iberian Lynx

The Coto Donana

This part of Spain is considered to be one of the most important of the world’s protected areas. It provides a crucial habitat for those migratory birds that pass by on their way from Europe to Africa and, of course, is the only place on the planet that the Lynx still survives. The spectacular landscape is made up of two major ecosystems: the Mediterranean pinewoods and scrubland, and the huge salt marshes, which are part of a large floodplain. The scrubland is supported by one of the largest aquifers in Spain and, consequently, the area sees many species of plants, including rockroses, rosemary and the mastic tree.

The Iberian Lynx and Other Creatures

Definitely the most biodiverse area in Europe, the Donana is a wonderful place to explore on a wildlife holiday. There are over 300 species of birds that can be seen, and 130 of those make this place their home during the breeding season. There are also 37 species of mammals, 21 different reptiles, 11 amphibians and plenty of freshwater fish species. The number of insects is still debated but it is certainly enormous.

The king of the Donana is definitely the Iberian Lynx and is certainly the star on any wildlife holiday. These timid creatures have steadily decreased in number over the last 200 years and southern Spain is the only place where isolated breeding populations have been seen. Heavily spotted and with long legs, the feline has a short tail and a distinct beard around its face. They also have prominent black spots on the ears.

Other creatures to look out for on a wildlife holiday to this area of Spain include the Spanish Imperial Eagle, which is another of this area’s most famous inhabitants. There are only around 10 pairs living in the park and the bird is also considered endangered.

The Spur-thighed Tortoise joins the group of species whose existence is threatened and which has found refuge in this region. There is something quite magical about these ancient looking reptiles and it is hard to believe that one day they may no longer be with us.

Identify Perfect Cruise Agent

Identify and make a short list of travel professionals.

Do not limit yourself to agents from “brick and mortal” locations, large offices or corporate agencies. Many small office agencies and home based travel agents are very, very good cruise planners.

Contact each person on your list.

Prioritize your list based on your initial personal reactions to the person you met or talked with via telephone.

Use a sliding scale of one through ten, with ten as the high number.

For the moment, this is strictly subjective on your part, your “gut” reaction.

Evaluate each candidate.

LOOK FOR TWO TYPES OF INFORMATION

1). The first type of information you are looking for pertains to credentials, such as professional associations, cruise experience, licensing (if applicable), years as an agent, and so on.

2). The second, and more elusive, type of information pertains to intangible factors.
Your approach when determining intangible factors is to observe behavior and to pay careful attention to questions.

For example:

  • Did the agent greet you by standing up, smiling warmly, and perhaps offering to shake your hand?
  • If your evaluation took place via telephone, did you sense an upbeat voice and warm smile?
  • Did you receive the cruise agent’s undivided attention, from start to finish? If not, did the agent ask permission to answer another call or to perform another task?
  • After informing the agent of your desire to take a cruise, did s/he give you literature, other information or simply a sales pitch prior to asking you any profile questions?
  • Primarily, if the agent attempts to sell you any cruise product before asking you a single question (getting a profile), immediately say goodbye!
  • Among the first things a good cruise agent does is to provide you with his/her credentials and to obtain profile information on you.
  • An agent that asks questions and writes down the information is preferable to one that simply gives you a questionnaire.

In summary, a cruise agent’s true desire to assist you in every way possible will shine through their behavior, and their profile questions.

Based on his or her profile of you, your “perfect” cruise agent volunteers to do whatever s/he can do to make your planning as worry-free, stress-free and hassle-free as humanly possible.

Happy Sailing!

Trek to Upper Mustang

Upper Mustang (the last kingdom of Nepal) is also known as “The Forbidden Kingdom”. The last Bista king of Upper Mustang was Raja Jigme Dorje Palabar Bista. After Nepal was declared a republican country, Government of Nepal no longer gave him (Raja Jigme Dorje Palabar Bista) the recognition of king. All the allowances he had been getting from the Nepal government has been cut off. As per the new constitution he is no longer the king of Upper Mustang. But, the people of Upper Mustang still regard him as their king. They still give him the royal respect.

Due to the remoteness of this region, the people of this region (Mustangi) are compelled to practice all the traditional tools and techniques of life. They still use horses and donkeys as a mode to transport goods from one place to another.

Only limited number of tourists are allowed to travel to this region. This area has been restricted to preserve its culture and traditions. With a view to preserve culture of this area the then His Majesty of Government had enlisted this region as a restricted area. Nepal Government charges 500 US$ per person as permit fee, for 10 days visit to this restricted area. Few years ago, the permit fee to enter this region was higher than it is now. Previously the entry fee was 700 US$ for 10 days. After knowing the importance of this region for tourism purpose Nepal government reduced the entry fee from 700 US$ to 500 US$. These days the Upper mustang region has been opened for the outside world for trekking and bike tours and jeep tours. But the tourists cannot travel individually in this restricted area. They must travel through the registered trekking agency.

Mustang region used to be the trade route to Tibet in the earlier days. People used to trade wool, medicinal herbs, animals, salt, etc.

Upper Mustang region has a very beautiful landscape. It is one of the most beautiful place ion earth. We can see massive red rocks formations. The Lo-kingdom lies in Nepal’s remote Mustang region. Mustang region is also known as the cold desert of Nepal. The cool and sandy wind blows in this region during the day time. So, almost all the flights to Jomsom departs from Pokhara before 12 pm.

Kagbeni village is located in the valley of Kaligandaki river. This village separates Upper mustang region with the lower Mustang region. Its the starting point of the restricted area.

Tiji festival is one of the biggest festival of the Upper Mustang region. It is celebrated in Lomanthang (the Lo-kingdom). This festival is celebrated to mark the beginning of a new season. It is celebrated for three days. The dates of this festival are fixed by the monks using the Tibetan calendar. This festival is celebrated to chase away the evil spirits and bring prosperity and happiness into the kingdom. There is a huge gathering of monks and people of Mustang on this auspicious occasion that is held annually. Various dances, acts, religious events, rituals and ceremonies are held during the three-day festival of Tiji.

The historical myth about the Tiji starts with a deity named Dorje Jono. He battles his demon father to save the kingdom of mustang. The demon creates the water shortage in the kingdom affecting the lives of the people in this dry and barren land. Dorje dono defeats his demon father and brings prosper to the land. The festival is the representation and portrayal of the story through dancing and many rituals. This rare and untouched heritage and culture of the people of Mustang is a beautiful and unforgettable sight to observe.

The trip to Upper Mustang for the Tiji festival will be of about 18 days. 18 days includes the day starting from Kathmandu and ending in Kathmandu. The trip starts from Kathmandu. Then you will either fly or drive from Kathmandu to Pokhara. If you go by flight then on the same day you will be heading to Jomsom by flight. But if you take a drive up to Pokhara then you will stay overnight in Pokhara and then take a early morning flight or drive to Jomsom. If you are interested you can make a short hike during you time in Jomsom then Marpha village is the beautiful village you would not like to miss. Marpha is a beautiful village south of Jomsom. There is Nyingma monastery from where one can enjoy the view of the village and the Kali Gandaki River valley.

From Marpha village we will head back to Jomsom where we will stay overnight. From Jomsom we will make a short hike to Kagbeni. Kagbeni has ancient Sakyapa Monastery with old statues of Buddha and Bodhisattvas. It has special Mahakala statue taken from Kathmandu by a high-ranking lama from Mustang. In Kagbeni there is check post to enter Upper Mustang. Tourist must have special permit to enter Upper Mustang. Upper Mustang is a restricted area. So, the permit fee to enter upper Mustang is also comparatively higher than other permit fees. A tourist has to pay 500 US$ to enter the Upper Mustang region.

From Kagbeni we make a long walk up to Chele. It takes approximately about 7 hours to reach Chele from Kagbeni. When we start from Kagbeni, first we meet the Tanbe village. Tanbe is the Mongolian village where all the villagers are Gurung. From Tanbe the trail again climbs to a high point around 3100 m. The trail then drops steeply and undulates along the east bank of Kali Gandaki for 1.5 hours to the village of Chhuksang. From Chhuksang we can see the Chele and in Chhuksang there is a small cave Gumba. On our way we move under a vast block of red sandstone.

From Chele we make 6 hours long walk to reach Syamochen village which is situated at an altitude of 3,820 meters. Immediately on leaving Chele, the path climbs steeply up to a plateau region through a small tunnel like gully. On our way to Syamochen we will have a panoramic view of Mt. Nilgiri, Tilicho peak and Yakawa Kang. The peak that dominates the Thorongla Pass on the Annapurna circuit. After short walk we will reach the Samar village. After leaving Samar the trails dives steeply for about 70 meters into a deep side canyon. Inevitably, it is a short steep climb out and after a brief respite it dives again into another side canyon. This second climb is steeper and longer. After about 2 hours walk from Samar, the trail reaches at an altitude of 3750 meters and descends slightly to the first tea house. The second tea houses can be seen in the distance.

In this way, we walk along the Dhakmar and Tsarang village for the next two days to reach Lomanthang, Upper Mustang. Lomanthang Village is situated at an altitude of 3,810 meters. We stay in Lomanthang for 4 days. On the first day in Lomanthang you will be taking a rest. If you are interested you can make a short walk around the Lomanthang village. On the other three days in Lomanthang you will be watching the Tiji festival.

After Lomanthang our next stop is Yara, one of the most remote areas of this trek. There are only two lodges and there is the scarcity of water. It is also the gateway to Damodar Kunda, one of the most visited place by Hindus. Damodar has its own religious importance among the Hindu community people. Yara is the village situated at an altitude of 3,650 meters. It takes nearly 4-5 hours to reach Yara from Lomanthang

The Luri cave also known as Luri Gonpa lies in the Yara Khola Valley. Luri Gumba lies at an altitude of 4,085 meters. The Luri cave is famous for the earliest stupa situated in the cave. The Luri Cave contains some of the earliest and most beautiful Buddhist mural paintings in the Mustang region. The mysterious Luri Cave Monastery in Upper Mustang is the 12th century cave monastery located towards the east of Lomanthang.

Fun With the Seals at Duiker Island

Sightseeing charter boats typically collect passengers from the small fishing village of Hout Bay Harbor and brings them to the famous island. But before you set sail to meet the seals from Hout Bay, take the time to admire the scenic harbor views that includes the Sentinel – the appropriately named steep side cliff that acts like a gatekeeper to the bay. Although it is called an island, Duiker is more accurately described as a small cluster of rocks that barely rises from the sea water. This spot has been the home of an unbelievable number of Cape fur seals. Thus, it is not a surprise that Duiker is usually referred to as the Seal Island.

Once you reach the shores of the island, you will be greeted by the sight of over 10,000 seals. But it is important to remember that the boat ride is not as smooth as cruising into the calm lake. The waters around the area frequently generate choppy waves. If you can overcome sea sickness, then it promises to be an adventure that’s hard to forget. Animal Ocean and Drumbeat Charters are just some of the established companies that offer guided boat tours to Duiker Island.

Some companies will have open boats, which accommodate around 60 passengers, while others have the bigger flagship vessels that hold around 120 passengers. It only takes about 20 minutes to reach the island from Hour Bay Harbor but the cruises can take more than an hour. Longer cruises usually choose to go back to Hout Bay Harbor via the Kabonkelberg mountain range or the Chapman’s Peak, which is home to a collection of fascinating caves and cliffs.

Once you get to Duiker Island, you don’t have to admire the thousands of seals just from distance, although it is an incredible sight and worth taking several photos. A number of tours also give passengers the opportunity to snorkel and swim with the seals. If you are a qualified diver in open waters, you can also arrange to dive and discover Duiker’s rich underwater world! Make sure to check if your guide can provide you with all the necessary gear. The Atlantic waters can be cold, so request thick neoprene wetsuits to keep your body warm. Some outfitters also rent GoPro cameras so you can take videos and pictures of your time with the playful seals in their own wild habitat.

The Breeding period for Cape Fur seals takes place around November/December but Duiker Island is not a breeding colony because of the rough waters. Trips to Duiker Island are usually scheduled from September to April as this is the time for the most favorable weather conditions. Nevertheless, take note that trips can be delayed, postponed or cancelled depending on daily weather conditions. But on a nice sunny day, you are guaranteed to enjoy your trip to the marvelous Seal Island!

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