Tag - Holiday

Things You Shouldn’t Miss When in Lanzarote

The most easterly of the Canary Islands, Lanzarote is really one of the world’s most magical isles. Containing stunning volcanic landscapes, amazing beaches, and a small town atmosphere throughout, this is a tourist destination that you should definitely visit at least once during your life. If you’d like to book one of the island’s many villas, you’ll also need to consider where to go and what to see while there. We’ve compiled a list of the island’s best attractions to help you plan your trip in the future.

Photo Credit: allinclusiveholidays.org

Canary Island- Photo Credit: allinclusiveholidays.org

1. El Golfo. A volcanic amphitheatre containing a lagoon filled with green algae, this destination offers one of the more unique sites on the island. The nearby rock formations and the smooth black beach definitely make the time spent travelling there worthwhile.

2. Los Hervideros. This stretch of coastline winds its way through some of the most surreal volcanic landscapes in Lanzarote. The area is dotted with blowholes and lava tubes, and the sight of the waves crashing against the jagged cliffs is enough to take anyone’s breath away.

3. Castillo de San Jose. This fort was originally built as a deterrent to pirate attacks, a common threat in the area in the late 1700’s. These days, the old architecture is still there, but the premises have been turned into an art gallery and restaurant, creating a neat combination of old and new.

4. Cueva de los Verdes. These caves were once used by local inhabitants to shelter from marauding pirates. Now, tourists can explore their depths, marvelling at the unique formations that only a lava flow could have created. About 2 km is open to the public, although the total length goes for over 6 km.

5. Guinate Tropical Park. This 11 acre park is found at the north of the island, and nearby villas can be found via holidayvillasinlanzarote.co.uk or other sites. Containing numerous species of birds, mammals, reptiles and fish, this is a must-see destination for any nature lovers visiting the island.

6. Mirador del Rio. This is one of the most beautiful lookout points in Lanzarote, offering visitors extensive views over the nearby Chinijo Archipelago. Thus, you’ll get to take in the vast beauty of the nearby region without having to rent a boat or spend too much money in the process.

7. Timanfaya National Park. Containing the spectacular Mountains of Fire, this is one of the Canary Island’s most famous destinations. Not only is the area filled with fantastic examples of natural volcanic formations but it is also home to El Diablo Restaurant, one of the most popular on the island.

8. The Wine Museum of Lanzarote. Labelled as the oldest winery in the Canary Islands, these ancient buildings contain the entire wine-making history of the region. Regardless of your character, all Lanzarote travellers should take in this amazing locale which also boasts some superb local wines as well.

9. The Cactus Garden. Created by a local artist, this small park features over one thousand species of cacti, a restored windmill, and various iron sculptures. All of these stand against the eerie backdrop of the volcanic landscape, turning this into a juxtaposition that isn’t found elsewhere.

10. Jameos del Agua. This cave system features a host of attractions such as a subterranean amphitheatre, a crystal clear lagoon, and plenty of natural rock wonders. There are also gardens and a restaurant onsite, making this the perfect place to go for a daytrip from your serviced villa.

Of course, this is just a small taste of what you’ll experience when visiting Lanzarote. Once there, you’ll find that there is plenty more to see and do during your stay.

Namibia dreams

When overland tourists meet there is always time to share news and information

When overland tourists meet there is always time to share news and information

The Namib desert is the oldest desert on earth. Yet humans have been living here for longer than in almost any other area in the world, in these valleys, mountains and plains that, today, present a harsh background to a young nation’s struggle to live under difficult conditions.

There are many ways to visit Namibia, and as many facets to see. A popular way is to rent an offroad-capable vehicle and drive, but visitors are advised to be aware that the desert is not your friend! Venturing into remote places on your own, without experience, can be dangerous! Fortunately there are many, experienced tour operators to help, many friendly local people who would advise, and much in the way of tourism infrastructure.

From the Kgalagadi transfrontier park, a vast semi-desert area straddling the southern borders between South Africa, Namibia andBotswana, to the famous Etosha reserve in the north, a variety of nature can be viewed and visited. The southern plains make way to the harsh, yet fertile Khomas highland, where a farmer might count on 18 hectares of land to support one cow or horse.

    These shy predarors dig burrows to give birth nd rear their young.

These shy predarors dig burrows to give birth

From the Capital of Windhoek, still strongly infused with the German colonial heritage, one can cross to the coast, where Swakopmund reminds visitors of a Germany of some years ago. From here you can go south, into the Namib itself, but be aware: permits are required, not only for your own protection against the desert, but also to protect the diamond mining concessions from pilferers!

One can see, at the roadside. the Welwitchia Mirabilis plant, a holdover from the days of the dinosaur. But be careful! These plants are fragile! And, going north, towards Etosha, you can also visit the Brandberg mountains, where the rock
paintings record the history of the first human nations.

And take the time to get to know the people: The Herero who suffered a genocide at the hands of the German colonisers, the bushmen or San people, now only found in remote areas, but for millennia the lords of this land, the Ovambo in the north, and the Himba people, famous for their ochre-coloured clothing. Just a few of the many nations that make up this fascinating country. All proud people trying to make a success of their land despite the vast distances and small population.

    A fight for control of the valuable territory near water, where females have to pass by.

A fight for control of the valuable territory near water, where females have to pass by.


    Some prefer to use animal drawn transport. It is ecological!

Some prefer to use animal drawn transport. It is ecological!

    Ample facilities exist for tourists to enjoy the peace and calm.

Ample facilities exist for tourists to enjoy the peace and calm.

Some useful addresses:

Namibia Tourism: http://www.namibiatourism.com.na/

Namibia National Parks: http://www.namibiatourism.com.na/national-parks/

Isabis offroad tracks and accommodation: http://www.isabis4x4.com

Chameleon Backpackers, Windhoek:  http://www.chameleonbackpackers.com/

The Australian Outback – A Road Trip Survival Guide

The Australian outback is one of the world’s most desolate yet beautiful wonder’s and has become the traditional backdrop to life in Australia through the eyes of the rest of the world.



Taking time to travel through the outback when visiting Australia is a must, but its magnificent views and landmarks hide a treacherous world that can be fraught with danger for the unknowing and unprepared traveller.  So here I’ve listed the top 5 things to keep in mind the next time you pack your car and tackle the Australian outback.

1. It is big. And I mean REALLY big.

A large portion of Australia’s landmass is classed as rural outback and whilst a lot of the land is used for farming and mining, there is also a whole lot of nothing. There are many ways a traveller can tackle the outback but perhaps the two most popular are the Adelaide to Darwin and Adelaide to Perth route. The first is a vertical route straight through the dusty heart of the country and in its entirety stretches for over 3000km. The second is across the completely barren Nullabor plain and is slightly shorter at 2,550km. Both routes have their own scenic advantages but their immense distance cannot be underestimated, even by Australian standards, a road trip through the outback is a big endeavour.



2. Allow enough time Due to the distance

Many tourists are unaware of exactly how long it can take to do either of the main outback routes. Having taken two weeks return to do that Adelaide to Darwin route myself, I can vouch for how much of a feat it is. Even if you are stretched for time try not to commit yourself to more than 5 or 6 hours of driving each day. Any more and you will get tired which could impend on your driving skills and you will end up missing most of the scenery that you drove into the outback to see in the first place. If you are wanting to stop at the tourist sites along the way (and you will need at least a full day at Ayres Rock) allow for at least 4 days to get to Darwin. Keep in mind that a lot of the top tourist spots are also quite a bit off the main highway, and these apparent “short” detours can eat into your travelling time and put you behind if you find yourself on a deadline. Moral is: try to have a flexible schedule if possible.

3. Watch out for wildlife

Because 90% of the outback is so sparsely populated, a large amount of native wildlife roam around after being pushed out of the more heavily populated coastal regions. It is not uncommon to come across a gathering of kangaroos, camels, emus or dingoes on the side of the road – or in fact on the road itself. Luckily, due to the lack of roadside trees or buildings it is fairly easy to spot one coming along the flat horizon. If you come across an animal, or animals, blocking the road don’t panic. The best thing to do is wait for them to move, or try to go off the road a little to avoid them (be careful if you are not in a 4WD enabled car as this could cause some bogging issues!). If you must, a short beep of the horn will normally be enough to move them on, but you will see how nonchalant they are about being in the way; remember you are invading on their territory.

4. Pack spare everything

If you forget something on your outback road trip there is no supermarket that you can just pop down to so it is very important to pack smart. There will be a petrol station in every major (and minor) town along the way but if you take a little detour off the main highway you may find that when you get back on it again, you will run out of petrol before you reach the next town. So always carry a spare petrol tank and keep it full. Same goes for water and oil and anything else you might need for your vehicle. It is also a good idea to pack a cooler bag to keep any food items cool, as even in the winter it can reach mid 30′s during the day, which could very quickly spoil your milk and your trip if you are not careful. Despite the often hot temperatures during the day, the nights in the desert are freezing so pack a range of clothes and be prepared to be constantly changing!

5. Appreciate the outback for what it is

The outback is not supposed to be a luxury road trip. There is nowhere you can stop to have a mud spa or your nails done, in fact there are barely any places to stop to buy bread and water. There is not a lot of phone or television reception but it is the perfect chance to escape the rat race and just be one with the landscape. You could go a whole day without meeting a single soul and hours and hours without passing any other cars. But it is the isolation of the outback that has thousands of international tourists spellbound every single year. The scenery is so untouched and with the native flora and fauna right outside your tent, there is no need to go hunting for the best outback experience: it will come to you.

For more information on planning your next Australian outback adventure visit http://www.outbacknow.com.au/

Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park Great Service and Fantastic Views

    Fairmont Chicago

Fairmont Chicago

Chicago is a fantastic city to visit for a number of reasons, and while there, the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park (www.fairmont.com/chicago, 200 N. Columbus Drive, 866-540-4408) is an excellent base for exploring the city thanks to its location, amenities and the familiar Fairmont level of service.

You can learn more about the many places to visit in Chicago such as the Magnificent Mile, Second City, deep dish pizza and the theatre district, in the “Sweet Home Chicago” episode of the Travel Brigade Radio Show.

From the moment you check in to the Fairmont and get a Tootsie Roll, which was invented in Chicago, you get the unique feel for the Windy City simply by looking out your window. The hotel sits on a block near Michigan Avenue, the Lakefront, Grant Park and Millennium Park, with the latter being home to the Cloudgate sculpture that has become synonymous with Chicago. If you haven’t heard of that name, you may know it as “The Bean,” a huge metallic bean that reflects the surrounding skyline that no traveler can resist taking a picture of.

You can take a stroll of just a few minutes from the hotel through Millennium Park and enjoy the view on the way to the Art Institute of Chicago, an encyclopedic museum complete with a number of iconic paintings that holds one of the world’s great art collections.

Chicago is full of great eateries, but save room for a visit to the Eno Wine Room located right in the Fairmont. Eno takes three items that are great on their own – wine, cheese and chocolate – and brings them together in an irresistible way. You can even take a class at the “Eno-versity” to learn more about them. The hotel also has Aria Restaurant and Aria Bar & Sushi Club, which combines Asian cuisine in the restaurant with a communal sushi bar that also has a noodle menu.

After a long day of taking in all that Chicago has to offer, come back to the hotel and enjoy a massage or other treatment at the 11,000 square foot “mySpa,” which features a full-service fitness studio as well as massages and body wraps. If you’ve spent the day shopping on the Magnificent Mile, you also might want to try the “Sole Salvation” a deluxe foot treatment with a scrub, warm paraffin wrap and foot massage.

The Fairmont brand is noted for its level of service, and one great way to experience from start to finish of your visit is to stay on the Gold Level, which comprises the 15th floor. The Gold Level has its own concierge desk in a large reception area where guests can enjoy complimentary breakfast in the morning and appetizers in the evening.

Chicago is a great place to visit for many reasons, and the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park will make the trip complete.

Edmonton: Canada’s Festival City

    Festivals Folk Music Festival

Festivals Folk Music Festival

How many festivals do you need to host before you can claim to be your country’s “festival city?” Ten? 20? More? Whatever the official number is, Edmonton has hit it and then some as “Canada’s Festival City.” The official list numbers in the 30s, the actual list pushes 70. During most of the year, you can pick any month and find at least three festivals. During the summer months, you can pick pretty much any day and find something going on.

Being a festival city is about more than just numbers. There has to be a feel about your town that it’s a place where everybody’s welcome. There has to be a certain sense of fun that permeates the place. Edmonton has all of that as well. One thing that impressed us when we were able to attend some festivals during our visit was that there was a place for everybody at the festivals. Young and old, singles and families, everybody seems to find a way to hang out together. To hear more about how much we enjoyed it, listen to the Edmonton Episode of the Travel Brigade Radio Show.

A full list of the official festivals is available by clicking here. Since there are so many, here are a few of the highlights.

Deep Freeze: A Byzantine Winter Festival – January:

Think of something that’s fun to do in the snow, and you can find it on Alberta Ave. Ice and snow carving, skating, curling, street hockey and even “Deep Freezer Races” – a large freezer set on skis that people sit in and race down a hill on.

Global Visions Film Festival – early March:

Canada’s longest running documentary film festival celebrated its 30th birthday in 2012. The four-day festival operates with an overall theme that we are all interdependent citizens of a global village.

International Children’s Festival – late May, early June:

Originally launched in the downtown area over 30 years ago, this gathering focusing on children’s theatre is now held in the small, historic community of St. Albert. Performers from across the globe come to perform on five indoor and outdoor stages over five days.

Servus Heritage Festival – early August:

This festival takes over an entire city park as every national, ethnic or cultural group that has found a home in Edmonton puts up a pavilion highlighting its history, arts, clothing and, best of fall, food! There are an astonishing 62 pavilions representing 85 different cultures, including those from Africa, Asia and South America.

Edmonton Folk Music Festival – mid August:

This would qualify as one of the top music festivals based on its lineup alone as top performers take to multiple stages over the course of four days of concerts. What really puts it over the top as a music experience is that the main stage sits at the bottom of a grass hill. Audience members bring blankets and sit on the hill in the pleasant summer evening air and get a view not only of the stage, but across the river and onto the downtown skyline of the city.

Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival – late August:

This celebration of “Fringe” has been going strong for 30 years, brings half a million people to Edmonton, and has helped turn the Old Strathcona neighborhood into a fun and thriving arts district. The 10-day street festival highlighted by theatre people experimenting with entertainment has become the model for fringe festivals around the globe.

Edmonton International Film Festival – late September, early October:

Now in it’s 26th year, the EIFF has been a place where directors such as John Waters, Werner Herzog and Norman Jewison have premiered new work. Entries from all over the world are on the roster.

Edmonton Comedy Festival – mid October:

Two dozen top stand-up comedians from across North America come to Alberta to do shows on a six different stages. The 2012 lineup includes Jay Mohr. Whatever the season, whatever your interest, you’ll find that Edmonton has a festival that’s right up your alley.

Cruising Out of Southern California Ports

Disney Cruise Ships

Disney Cruise Ships

Cruising makes for a great vacation, and what makes it even better is finding a great port city to sail in and out of that offers fun things to do before and after the cruise. Southern California offers three ports to choose from for cruises to Hawaii, the Panama Canal and Mexico. Cruise lines are also coming up with new ideas to draw vacationers to the West Coast such as Coastal California tours that focus on the ports of California with some even including wine tasting tours. For example, in the fall of 2012, Disney Cruise Line (800-951-3532) will be doing new California Coastal cruises featuring Pixar characters. To hear more about these ports, listen to our radio show by [clicking here]. Cruising out of Southern California ports gives you many options. Here are highlights for each of the three ports.

Long Beach:

The Port of Long Beach is a port for Carnival Cruise Lines and the area has made an amazing transformation over the past 10 years. (800-452-7829) Shopping and entertainment areas such as The Pike at Long Beach and Shoreline Village offer lots of great dining, shopping and activities, and are easy to get to from the cruise terminal.

Port of Los Angeles:

This port located in San Pedro (310-SEA-PORT) is incredibly busy in terms of container shipping, but also is an important embarkation point for cruises. The Port of L.A. is undergoing numerous long-term changes to its waterfront, with two new attractions, the U.S.S. Iowa ( 877-4-IOWA-61) and a craft market called “Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles” (310-732-1270) giving cruisers two new things to check out before embarking or after getting back from a trip.

San Diego:

The beautiful city of San Diego is full of great things to do, and its hard to think of a city where the port () is so near to so much to do. It’s easy to spend a day going to the Gaslamp Quarter for shopping, dining or a Padres game, or visit the many other attractions near the port, and still make it on your boat before San Diego port embarking, or make your flight home after a trip.

Southern California offers three different port cities that all have their own distinct character, and each one has attractions that make it a great place to start or end a cruise.

Top 10 Activities in Quebec City

    Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac / Provided by Quebec City Tourism

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac / Provided by Quebec City Tourism

With over 400 years of history, Quebec City and its surrounding areas are loaded with things to see and do. We’ve tried to perform the impossible task of narrowing it down to a mere 10. To hear more about these and other activities, listen to our Travel Show on Quebec. Below, in no particular order, (because they’re all so fun) are our favorite top  10 activities.

The Old City

The combination of buildings and streets dating back centuries, a walled city and people speaking French (don’t worry, the locals are mostly bilingual and very nice about speaking English) gives you the feeling of being in Europe. Stop by the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac (866-540-4460, 1, rue des Carrieres), an incredible hotel sitting high on a cliff above the St. Lawrence River that has become the symbol of the city. The boardwalk in front of the Chateau offers amazing views of the river below.

The Lower City

This crescent right below the cliff that holds the Old City, has plenty of history and beauty in its own right. A great way to learn the history of the area, and the city as a whole, is to explore it on a bike tour with Cyclo Services Bicycle Tours (877-692-4050, 289, rue Saint-Paul).

The St. Roch District

This area, pronounced “ Saint Rock,” has been revitalized over the past decade to become the city’s hip new neighborhood filled with restaurants, clubs and boutique shopping. Stop by Les Bossus Restaurant (418-522-5501, 620, St.-Joseph Est) for great food and atmosphere, or stay at Hotel Royal William (888-541-0405, 360, boulevard Charest Est) for a location convenient to a variety of areas of the city.

The Citadel

his fort in the Old City has played an important role in the history of the city, and the Citadel (418-694-2815, 1, Cote de la Citadelle) is still an active military facility for the Royal 22e Regiment of the Canadian Forces. A 60-minute tour is both interesting and very valuable for learning the history of the area.

The Plains of Abraham

After taking the Citadel tour and learning about the 1759 Battle of Quebec, walk right over to where it took place on the Plains of Abraham, which is now a huge, beautiful park with its own exhibits, concerts and things to do.

Aquarium du Quebec

Kids will love seeing polar bears, seals, walruses and a variety of other animals is the Aquarium du Quebec (418-659-5264, 1675, avenue des Hotels). Parents may want to call ahead and find out about a program that allows children to assist the animal keepers, and even learn to teach the animals tricks for the shows.

Whale Watching

If the seals and walruses interest you, go see the biggest animals in the ocean by doing a whale watching trip. Cruises AML (866-856-6668) runs whale watching trips out of Tadoussac, Baie-Sainte-Catherine and other ports that are a bit of a drive out of the city, but well worth the trip for the chance to see a variety of whales, including belugas.

Grosse Ile

A fascinating piece of Canadian history can be found at the island of Grosse Ile (888-773-8888) not far from Quebec City. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the island was used as a quarantine station for immigrant ships, and today it is a beautiful national park where many of the buildings have been preserved to use in a historical tour. Take a fun boat trip on Croisieres Lachance (1-888-GROSSE ILE, 110, de la Marina, Berthier-sur-Mer) to get there.

A Sauce Like No Other

Visiting L’Entrecote Saint-Jean (418-694-0234, 1080, rue Saint-Jean) is an opportunity to try “Entrecote Sauce,” a delicious combination of curry, mustard and other secret ingredients poured over steak and fries. The restaurant claims to be the only place to find this sauce in North America.

Summer Arts

The arts are in full bloom in the summer. Cirque du Soleil puts on an outdoor show only performed in Quebec City, “The Image Mill” turns the giant grain silos in port into a huge outdoor screen, or try the festival celebrating French heritage or music festival.

For more information on these, check out the tourism offices for both Quebec City (877-783-1608) and the Quebec Province (1-877-BONJOUR).

Quebec City is full of great things to see and do, picking just 10 is hard to do.

Three stunning Lake District towns

Lake towns- transientlight.co.uk

Lake towns- transientlight.co.uk

The Lake District in the north west of England is a truly stunning part of the world. With beautiful vistas, lakeside walks and countless mountain trails, as well as charming chocolate box towns and villages making it an incredible holiday destination. Here are some of the very best places that are not to be missed!


The market town of Keswick situated in the heart of the Lake District. The popular tourist town attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year, all flocking to Keswick to make the most of its traditional charm and the beautiful Lake District National Park that it stands in. Located just a stone’s throw from Derwent Water and not far from Bassenthwaite Lake, Keswick is ideally situated for a walking, especially for the four highest mountains in England – Scafell Pike, Scafell, Helvellyn and Skiddaw, that are all easily accessible from the town.

But it’s not just walking, scenery and lakes that Keswick has to boast about. Keswick is a fantastic destination for a more relaxed break making the most of the abundance of shops, cafes and restaurants that make Keswick an absolutely stunning holiday destination. Keswick also hosts an annual beer festival which is now in its 16th year and attracts nearly 6000 beer fanatics to enjoy locally produced real ales and unusual brews as well as ciders and lagers. What could be better than sitting back, enjoying a pint and listening to one of the many live bands that play throughout the festival?


Nestled at the head of Lake Windermere, Ambleside is an excellent base for many outdoor activities inclucing walking, hiking and mountain biking. Nearby, it is fantastic place to take a steamer on the lake to take in the beautiful scenery on the lake and the dramatic surrounding mountains. Ambleside is extremely popular with tourists and with lots and lots of accommodation to choose from as well as pubs, restaurants and tourist shops. When you fancy a leisurely afternoon, picturesque Ambleside is a great place to head, to make the most of its beautiful buildings and charming shops.


The traditional market town of Cockermouth is situated just outside of the Lake District National Park. The town still has plenty of its historic charm and character especially due to its delightful slate and stone buildings and it’s recently renovated Market Place. The Jenning’s Brewery has had a long association with Cockermouth since the brewery moved to Cockermouth well over a hundred years ago. Nowadays, the brewery tour is a chance to learn about the history of the brand and of course to sample a pint of the produce at the end!

Cruising with Children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities

NCL Epic

NCL Epic

Going on a cruise can be an ideal way to travel together as a family because parents and kids can spend quality time together – and apart. Thanks to children’s programs on cruise ships, kids can be somewhere safe doing fun activities targeted specifically to their age group, while the parents have their own fun, and then everybody can come back together for dinner or other family events. Families traveling with a child with developmental disabilities or autism may have concerns about their children’s needs being meet and having them participate in such programs, but they will find that the cruise lines want all passengers to participate and are willing to work with parents to make sure everybody has a great cruise.

Disability attorney Dale H. Boam notes that cruise ships are required to comply with various laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act if the ship docks in the United States. “Obviously, the easiest rules to think about are access rules,” he says with regard to regulations that relate to things like mobility impairments and wheelchairs. However, when it comes to developmental disabilities or autism, “the needs become very specific.”

To that end, parents should “be ready to fully disclose what their child’s concerns are,” says Richard Ambrose, Vice-President of Entertainment for Norwegian Cruise Lines. (To listen to radio interviews with both NCL and Mr. Boam, click here.) The cruise line and its staff are willing to meet your child’s needs, but they first have to know what they are.

Boam suggests that calling the cruise line’s access or disabilities desk prior to the cruise  “as a starting place for discussion.” Ambrose says that at NCL, when such a call is made, it starts a process where the access desk notifies the fleet youth supervisor at the main offices and the youth managers working on the ship. With parental input, “We can work and develop a program for that child so that they are included in all the activities.” Ambrose also advises that once a family arrives on the ship, the first thing parents should do is go to the youth program and meet the manager to “discuss their child’s needs and issues.”

What should be part of that discussion? What should parents bring up? Boam says, “The easiest thing to do is to think about what accommodations, what services, does your child need on their IEP (Individualized Education Program) in their school setting?” What the child needs help with at school, is often what they need assistance with in a cruise program, because the ship activities often “sort of mimic school programs.”

One accommodation to think about that wouldn’t come up in a school setting is having the child be placed in a younger group. For example, a 14-year-old with cognitive disabilities might not be safe in a teen program that allows lots of latitude in coming and going, and may therefore do better in a program for 11-12 year olds.

Keep in mind that the overriding goal for staff and parents is for the kids to have a great time. “We believe everybody should have a fantastic vacation,” Ambrose says. Or as Boam puts it, “It’s much better to have a great vacation than a great lawsuit.”

A Real Thailand Adventure

You’ve saved your pennies and booked your time off, but like other seasoned travellers to South East Asia, you fancy a Thailand holiday with a difference; you want to get off the beaten track and escape the busy beaches and city masses.

Elephant trekking Chiang Mai

Elephant trekking Chiang Mai

So, if you’re after a slightly ‘alternative’ trip to Thailand but don’t know where to begin, take a look at these tops tips on how to plan a real Thailand adventure:

Trekking in Chiang Mai:

Thailand’s oldest National Park, Khao Yai is a must-see destination for those seeking wildlife on a Thailand adventure. It is also the place where you’ll find the iconic cascading waterfall which was featured in the film The Beach. Khao Yai features many hiking trails for those looking for some great walks, and is also home to a plethora of wildlife, including wild elephants, tigers, bears, porcupines, gibbons, snakes and parrots and various species of monkeys. However, you have a greater chance of spotting these creatures during the rainy season. Due to its many jungle inhabitants, Khao Yai is the ultimate place to go search of tropical wildlife during your Thailand holiday. If you’re looking for a real twist of Thailand adventure”Thailand adventure why not take a sunset trip into Khao Yai’s creepy bat caves. Here, you can watch in wonder the thousands of bats that swarm out in the glow of the sunset. This truly is a spectacular sight to behold and is sure to be an unforgettable part of your Thailand adventure.

No Thailand adventure would be complete without some time spent trekking in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s northern region. An area famous for its wildlife, vibrant green landscapes and hidden hill tribes, Chiang Mai is the ultimate setting for a real Thailand adventure. During your trip here you can visit places seldom visited by tourists, like the Chiang Dao Wild Animals Protection Area and Sri Lanna National Park. You can even head deep into the jungle on a hike to a nearby forestry elephant camp. Here, you’ll be given the chance to observe how these mammoth creatures live and work in the forest, not to mention experience an elephant trek through the jungle- a real highlight of any Thailand trip.

To get a real taste of Thailand tradition and culture, you could also pay a visit to one of Chiang Mai’s remote tribes, such as the Akha, the Palong, the Lahu or the Karen, where you can spend the night in an authentic wooden jungle hut. Then, why not top off your Thailand adventure by drifting downstream on a bamboo raft back towards Chiang Mai?

Khao Sok National Park:

Khao Sok National Park

Khao Sok National Park

Located in the western part of Surat Thani province in Southern Thailand you’ll find one of the most popular and best kept parks in Thailand. Khao Sok is accessible only from  Surat Thani and Phuket due to its isolated location. Khao Sok retains a certain untouched allure making it a fantastic addition to your Thailand adventure besides its density thick rainforest, Khao Sok boasts breathtaking waterfalls, dramatic limestone cliff faces, pristine lakes and meandering rivers. However for many travellers, its biggest attraction has to be the wildlife as Khao Sok is home to a vast array of flora and fauna.

On a trip to Khao Sok, you can begin a true Thailand adventure; as you head deep into wildest Thailand. Here you can discover captivating rainforests and swim in natural glistening lakes. You can really soak up the jungle atmosphere on your Khao Sok trip. Take a wildlife walk past bamboo groves and beneath giant towering trees, plunge into cool lakes and spend the night in a jungle bungalow, right on the banks of the tranquil river. And in the morning, you’ll really feel like you’re on your own Thailand adventure as you wake up to the many sounds of the jungle.

Homestay in central Thailand:

Though to some it may not be considered a real ‘Thailand adventure,’ a traditional Thailand homestay is arguably an invaluable way of understanding local culture, customs and traditions in more rural areas of Thailand and would certainly provide an alternative experience during any Thailand holiday. During a Central Thailand trip, you can really escape the crowds, instead opting for an alternative Thailand experience as you discover, first-hand the hospitality and warmth of the local Thai people, and learn all about village life.

Khao Yai Bats

Khao Yai Bats

Khao Yai Bat Caves:

Khao Yai jungle trails. Island hopping to hidden paradise. Sleep in the Thai countryside and floating huts along the River Kwai. We’ll help you build your very own Thailand adventure with www. thailandtravelplan.co.uk ‘Like this? Read more travel tips and tales at www.rickshawtravel.co.uk/blog/’

National Parks in Morocco

Mount Toubkal, Cr-wikipedia

Mount Toubkal, Cr-wikipedia

Due to a significant loss of habitat, plant and animal species started to disappear so the Moroccan government created their first national park. In 1942, Toubkal, in the Atlas Mountains became the first of Morocco’s national parks. Souss-Massa National Park, created in 1991, is Morocco’s most recent addition.

Creating these National Parks in Morocco has worked well in protecting the native plant and wildlife species and has prevented the extinction of the Bald Ibis, Barbary macaque, African marsh owl and the Spanish festoon butterfly. Only 0.01% of Morocco’s land is currently protected territory at the moment. However, there are plans to establish other national parks in the Moroccan Sahara desert and Atlas Mountains in the next few years.

Mount Toubkal-There’s more to Morocco than Marrakesh

Toubkal National Park is 70km (43 miles) away from Marrakesh and it is a must-visit destination for any wildlife enthusiasts on their Morocco holiday. The park is in the High Atlas Mountain range and it covers an area of 380km (939 acres). Jbel Toubkal is the highest peak of the park at 4,167 metres (13,671 feet).

The park is an ideal place for nature lovers, hikers and a families and is one of the most visited tourist attractions near Marrakesh. The park is easily accessible from any part of Marrakesh as you can rent a car or get a local driver to take you there.

Inside the national park, there are some of the most spectacular sights and you can also go on one of the adventurous treks offered. If you have the kids with you, make sure beforehand the hike won’t be too arduous for them. If you have some time, take the opportunity to visit the biggest village in the region, Imlil. There are quite a few villages of varying sizes in the valley of Ait Mizane, where the national park is located.

If you would like to gain some insight into Morocco’s rural life,then a walk to the villages will offer you the chance to do just that.

Imlil is the starting point of the long trekking route to the villages. Imlil has modern facilities and there is also a car park in the village centre. You’ll find the basic necessities in the region’s villages– eating outlets, cafes and other shops. Imlil is the centre of mountain tourism in Morocco due to its unique position. From here, 90% of visitors head up to Toubkal, the highest mountain in Morocco. Imlil,  the end of a tarmac road, is a good place to hire mountain guides and mules for the onward trek. Imlil was created to cater for the large numbers of tourists pouring through, en route to Toubkal.

The best time to visit the Toubkal National Park is during the spring. Many visitors come to the national park during this season due in part to the cooler weather and to view the blossoming trees, making it the perfect  setting for photos and scenic walks to the highest point. The Toubkal National Park should be avoided in the summer months as it can be very hot. The park is inaccessible in the winter as the roads are covered in snow. However, May onwards, the ascent to Mount Toubkal is relatively easy but be cautious to avoid altitude sickness. If climbing up Mount Toubkal, bring sturdy, broken in hiking boots and wind resistant clothing. Trekking poles can also be useful when climbing the summit. It is possible to climb the mountain in two or three days first stopping at the refuge of Toubkal, then on the second day reaching the summit and then going back down to Imlil.

Souss-Massa National Park

The Souss-Massa National Park is located near Agadir. There are many national parks in Morocco but the Souss-Massa has the most spectacular variety of bird species found in Morocco. The Moroccan authorities are taking various steps to protect the habitat and the wildlife of the park.

The Souss Massa National Park is extremely beautiful and is a great destination while travelling in Morocco. It has a diverse terrain that ranges from rocky cliffs and fields to dense forests and endless beaches. The park is well known for its extensive range of migrating birds and bird species. Avid bird watchers flock here. Visitors to the park can look forward to seeing Booted Eagles, Spoonbills, Great Spotted Cuckoos, Purple Herons, Swallows, Bee-eaters, Barbary Falcons, Marbled Ducks, Hoopoes and Ruddy Shelducks just to name a few of the 275 species of birds known to inhabit the park.

The birds share their stunning surrounding with other animals including the African Wild Cat, Leopard Lizards, Weasels, Red Fox, the Jackal, the Algerian Hedgehog and also a wide range of rare amphibians and reptiles.

The main reason tourists make the stop at Souss-Massa on their Morocco tour is because they are hoping to see the Northern Bald Ibis. The Souss Massa National Park is one of only two parks that are home to the endangered, Northern Bald Ibis. The number of this species has been so dramatically reduced in recent years that there are believed to be only 100 breeding pairs remaining – of which 75 are located in the Souss Massa. Ten years ago, the park was home to 33 breeding pairs but due to major conservation and breeding program put in place by the Moroccan government, the numbers have doubled. You can visit the park year round but November is a particularly good month for exploring the coastal wetland sites as the winter migrants arrive. March to May is the best time to see a wide range of migrants and residents. For more inspiration and help building your perfect trip to Morocco, visit: www.moroccotravelplan.co.uk

Author: Sophia Fadil, Morocco Travel Specialist at Morocco Travel Plan. ‘Like this? Read more travel tips and tales at http://www.rickshawtravel.co.uk/blog/

Fast Facts for Provence – France

Lavender Field in Provence

Lavender Field in Provence

All you need to know about holidaying in Provence – from its eponymous lavender fields and historic market towns, to the cultural delights of Aix-En-Provence (where Cezanne came from) and Marseille, the Western regions of Provence offer a calming retreat from the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera in the South.

Climate Provence usually enjoys hot Mediterranean summers lasting from May until August, with temperatures averaging 21°C in July and 6°C in winter. The warmest weather occurs on the coast (Marseille hits 29°C in July) and swimming in the sea can often be enjoyed as late as October. However, it becomes particularly cold in Arles, Avignon, Orange and Marseille when a strong, icy wind called Le Mistral blows down from the Alps and through the Rhône valley. This usually happens during winter and spring, resulting in strong gusts of wind and a noticeable drop in temperatures for a period of 3-9 days. Autumn sometimes sees flash floods created by sudden storms, while the high mountains usually have snow from November to March.

Currency The official currency in France is the euro (€). One euro equals 100 centime coins. At the current exchange rate: £1 = € 1.16 $1 = € 0.81

Language French

Voltage Guide: 220V, 50Hz. Standard European two pin plugs.

Country Dialling Code: +33

Regional Dialling Code: 04

Visa Requirements EU citizens require a valid passport for a stay of up to three months. Non-EU citizens require a visa, except USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand citizens. Tourists intending to stay in France longer than 90 days need to apply for a residence permit (Carte de séjour) at a local town hall (Mairie) or departmental Préfecture.

Vaccinations None required.

Tipping By law a service charge of 10-15% is included in all restaurant bills. In addition to this it is customary to leave a tip of 10% if you are pleased with the service. Taxi drivers expect a tip of around 10% while hotel porters, doormen, hairdressers and tour guides usually receive €1 – €2 for their service. Public Holidays 1 January: New Year’s Day 6 January: Epiphany Good Friday (varies) Easter Monday (varies) Ascension Day (40 days after Easter) 1 May: Labour Day 8 May: Victory Day 12 May: Whit Monday 14 July:
Bastille Day 15 August: Assumption Day 1 November: All Saint’s Day 11 November: Armistice Day 25 December: Christmas Day

Alexandra Szydlowska is a freelance travel journalist and editor based in London, UK. She writes for a range of online and print publications, with a special emphasis on Eastern European travel. See also: Fast Facts for the Cote d’Azur.

Fast Facts for the Cote d’Azur

Cote D'Azur, Cr-Cote d’Azur

Cote D’Azur, Cr-Cote d’Azur

All you need to know about holidaying in the Cote d’Azur – from Italianate Menton in the east to the glitzy bay of St Tropez, taking in Monaco, Nice, Antibes, Cannes, St Raphael and everything in between. France’s Mediterranean coastline, the Cote d’Azur is the place to see and be seen… just think flaxen beaches, idyllic farmhouses and celebrity-studded festivals.

Climate The Cote d’Azur is famous for its Mediterranean-like climate and dry summers. Temperatures peak between July and August and can reach up to 40°C at midday. On average expect summer temperatures of 30°C or more and mild winters (10°C min). March-April and October-November bring heavy rainfall, though thunderstorms and showers often reach the coast in late August.

Currency The official currency in France is the euro (€). One euro equals 100 centime coins. At the current exchange rate:

£1 = € 1.15

$1 = € 0.70


Voltage Guide: 230V, 50Hz. Standard European two pin plugs.

Country Dialling Code: +33 (France) or +377 (Monaco)

Regional Dialling Code: +04

Visa Requirements
EU citizens require a valid passport for a stay of up to three months. Non-EU citizens require a visa, except USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand citizens. Tourists intending to stay in France longer than 90 days need to apply for a residence permit (Carte de séjour) at a local town hall (Mairie).

Vaccinations None required.

Tipping By law a service charge of 10-15% is included in all restaurant bills. In addition to this it is customary to leave an extra €2 tip on the table if you are pleased with the service. In bars and cafés it is acceptable to leave small change, while in taxis it is best to round up the bill to the nearest euro. Hotel porters, doormen, hairdressers and tour guides usually expect a customary tip of €1 – €2.

Public Holidays
1 January: New Year’s Day (Nouvel An)
Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques)
Ascension Day (Ascension) Thursday, 40 days after Easter
1 May: Labour Day (Fête du Travail)
8 May: Victory Day (Fête de la Libération)
14 July: Bastille Day (Quatorze Juillet)
15 August: Assumption Day (Fête de l’
1 November: All Saint’s Day (Toussaint)
11 November: Armistice Day (Fête de l’Armistice)
25 December: Christmas Day (Noël)

Useful links
French Riviera tourism

Alexandra Szydlowska is a freelance travel journalist and editor based in London, UK. She writes for a range of online and print publications, with a special emphasis on Eastern European travel.

Warsaw for Children

City breaks with the kids need not be a chore. Warsaw has enough green parks, fascinating museums and activity centres to keep your little ones happy. Who knows, you may even be tempted to join in with the fun once in a while…

Dinosaurs, Puppets and Sport at the Palace of Culture and Science

Warsaw, cr-blog.solestruck.com

Warsaw, cr-blog.solestruck.com

At first glance, this imposing 1950s Stalinist monolith doesn’t look particularly child-friendly. However, don’t be deceived as Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science has plenty to keep both big and little kids entertained. Zip up to the viewing terrace on the 30th floor for dizzying views of Warsaw’s city centre. Next sate your inner Darwinist at the Museum of Evolution, where you can rejoice in the shadow of large-scale dinosaur skeletons and marvel at fossils recovered from the Gobi desert. Meanwhile, the ‘Youth Palace’ is a special treat for active kids. Its swimming pool often hosts youth sports tournaments, while the basketball courts by the entrance turn into an ice rink in the winter. Don’t miss out on checking in at the box office for information on Teatr Lalka’s repertoire, Warsaw’s most charming puppet theatre.

Animals, Boats and Rickshaws at Royal Lazienki Park

A stroll in Warsaw’s Royal Lazienki Park on a sunny day is enough to keep even the most fidgety of tots from grumbling. European red squirrels are the park’s most ubiquitous residents and both big and little kids have great fun feeding them. Peacocks show off their colourful plumes, while deer, ducks and swans also inhabit the park. When your little ones get tired of walking, you can relax with a boat ride on the lake or catch a rickshaw for a spin around the park. Don’t forget to stop by the lakeside cafe to cool off in the shade with delicious ice creams and milkshakes.

Warsaw’s Favourite Sweets and Chocolate at Wedel Cafe

Choco-holics indulge their sweet-tooth at Wedel Cafe, where Warsaw’s famous confectionary is sold. Located on Szpitalna Street, this pre-war chocolate salon caters well with a tempting selection of desserts, hot chocolates and sweets. Established in 1851, the Wedel brand is responsible for a range of child-friendly chocolate bars (or batony) such as Pierrot, Bajeczny and Pawelky – all household names in Poland. Ptasie Melczko are fluffy vanilla or chocolate mallows coated in plain chocolate and make for a unique gift to take back home.

Firetrucks, Trains and Cars at some of Warsaw’s finest museums

Rest assured, this top trio will convince your kids that museums are anything but boring. Little boys will love exploring the 150-year-old depot where the Museum of Fire Fighting stores its gleaming firetrucks, helmets and fire-fighting equipment. The Railway Museum houses a wide collection of engines, models and train sets, while the disused rail tracks outside the museum are the resting place for a number of handsome steam engines – and even an armoured train from WWII. Meanwhile, the Museum of Motor Vehicles is located in Otrebusy, just outside of Warsaw, and is the home of around 300 antique machines, including a US tractor from 1895 and several Syrenas, Warsaw’s iconic Communist-era car.

Alexandra Szydlowska is a freelance travel journalist and editor based in London, UK. She writes for a range of online and print publications, with a special emphasis on Eastern European travel.

Creative Ways To Spend A Cheap Holiday Vacation

Article by Ben Nielson,

 Cheap Holiday Vacation, cr-wildcharm.net

Cheap Holiday Vacation, cr-wildcharm.net

 When it comes to cheap family holidays the trick is to be opportunistic. If you get an invitation from someone to come and visit them in their holiday cabin, you should never ever think twice before you accept. If you are able to have as much fun at a local amusement park? then this should be your number one choice. Would your kids love the idea of cooking dinner over a campfire? No need to spend more on a trip when you can have lots of fun on a cheap holiday vacation.

Examples of cheap holidays

All over Michigan you will be able to find reasonable motels on the beach. The camping areas on the beaches of Superior and Lake Michigan are often cheaper and more scenic. You can find them in Michigan as well as in Minnesota and in Ontario, Canada. Here is a list of things you can do on your cheap holiday if you decide to try this type of vacation.

Treasure Hunt

You can buy two metal detectors for less than the price of a night in a hotel. You can spend your days hiking, exploring and treasure hunting. There are lots of things to explore when you take your metal detector to the beach. It is a lovable adventure especially for your children. If they get bored digging in the sand then there are lots of other activities that you could get your children involved in. Why not go for a walk in the warm sand, have a game of beach volley or go for a swim.

It is a cheap way to spend your vacation and the whole family will love it. You can find all sort of things washed up on the beaches.

Cheap Holiday Camping Vacations

If you can talk your family into living in a tent for a couple of days or if you own an RV, a camping trip is lovely and absolutely the cheapest of all cheap family holidays.

Other Cheap Family Vacations

There are lots of other ways you can have a fun but cheap holiday vacation. Cut the budget of your vacation and try to stay flexible. Cheap holidays are always in demand since we all want to spend as few bucks as possible. If you compare the two types of holidays, package holidays and do it yourself holidays, in terms of cost to decide which one is cheaper. You do not book your own package holiday instead you book it through someone. It could be a travel agency or a tour operator. When you pick this type of holiday it is always an all in one holiday deal. All you have to do is pay the money to the travel agency and everything about your holiday (arriving, boarding, lodging and so on) will be taken care of for you. On the other hand, lots of people actually prefer to arrange their own do it yourself holiday using the internet. You do booking of all your holiday needs, like travel and accommodation by yourself.

Spending Ideal Holiday Vacation

by Bali Villa Holidays,

Holidays, cr-bestourism.com

Holidays, cr-bestourism.com

Holidays are always been anticipated with preparations and reservations. Most people spend a lot of time and money just to ensure that all are polished and done to the date of their awaited retreat. That’s why they do some early searches or canvasses about the right spot and conveniences they would like to spend the holidays with. Like where and what type of accommodation they favored and most appropriate for the occasion.

Hotels and beach resorts are the common pick of a typical holiday vacationer. Every popular tourist destinations in the world is said to be more appreciated considering the accommodation and lodging services offered. Top class hotels and resorts usually take the second spot of the place’s popularity since people often remembers the quality of comfort they experienced in each short stay.

But people practically chose privacy in their every stay. Like everything would be more luxurious whenever their family or partner or even by themselves spend holidays in an exclusive and reserved manner. The very idea of special seclusion from the work stress and crowded environment would definitely supply relaxation and leisure for the vacationers.

In private villas, these types of conveniences are generic. Because vacation villas are similar to real state rental, vacationer would feel like they are renting a new home just for their holiday vacations. Having a normal rest house could possibly have, private villas definitely differs in terms of home comfort and basic vacation house niceties. It is also economical as normal rents range the same as the rate in hotels. Some would range from 0 and up depending on how popular and appealing the tourist place. The amenities are exclusive for the renters while they enjoy all the features of the villas.

In addition, villas are described as quiet and ideal neighborhood for a holiday vacation. The perfect views and luxuries a lodging house can offer are clustered here that holiday vacationers can experience the complete relaxation they really wanted. Swimming pools, spas, green environment and nature trekking are just some of their famous offerings which people look for in their vacation. It can be experienced either with the whole family, partners and friends.

Somehow, the new trend in vacation villa renting during holidays could be the future’s famous look out. The preservation of resort-like experience compared to urban hotels and the special exclusivity in lodging and accommodation in villas respond to the ideal holiday vacation a regular person seeks. Even if it’s in the tropic or in the four-season tourist destinations, private villa accommodation maximized every feature the place can offer.

Therefore, whenever you want to spend your holiday vacation close to nature and in a calm environment, a private villa could be more accommodating. Every spare time away from work pressure and city life would be healthier and worthy as long as you cherish it in a private way with your family or special someone. The panoramic view around where you stay would more than a consolation to your free and leisure time.

Visit http://www.balivillaholidays.com/blog to read more about holiday vacation tips and updates.