Hiking the Haute Route with Alpenwild – Chamonix to Zermatt

January 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel information

Hiking the Haute Route with Alpenwild

Nature lovers are also world explorers. The goal is often to find a singular nirvana-like experience amongst the Earth’s natural beauties. One of the most sought after hikes in the world, and particularly in Europe, is the Haute Route high in the Swiss Alps. The hike begins in the Chamonix valley in France and finishes in Zermatt, Switzerland, home of the Matterhorn. Depending on whether the hike is attempted by ski or foot, the Haute Route will take anywhere from 12-14 days to complete. Though there may be higher hikes in the likes of places like Colorado, the Haute Route is considered by many experienced hikers to be one of the most difficult, yet most rewarding.

The route now features many signs and posts along the trail. The trail also gives hikers the opportunity to enjoy some wonderful mountain huts and villages throughout their hike. The Haute Route will showcase to travelers a side of Europe that most tourists do not bother to see.

The hike, while challenging in terms of elevation gains and its long distance, is also welcoming to all types of hikers that are in fairly good physical condition. Whether you are experienced, inexperienced, old, or young, the Haute Route does not require much more than the desire to explore. If you are to undertake the hike during the winter, then ski touring gear is required and additional hiking/avalanche gear may be necessary depending on weather conditions and the paths that you take.

The Haute Route covers nearly 177 kilometers (or 110 miles). The hike will consist of both strenuous days and more relaxed days. Regardless of the difficulty of a given day’s adventure, you are sure to be surrounded by great company and even better vistas.

Nicki Preece (Alpenwild Trip Leader) has been hiking in the Alps for over eight years and she does not hesitate to declare the Haute Route as the most beautiful hike she’s ever been on. The Haute Route is known for the wide variety of landscapes along the route. Hikers are exposed to fantastic peaks and glaciers throughout their journey. Mountain forests, green valleys, rich blue skies, Swiss villages, and cool mountain lakes are all found along the Haute Route. The hike contains a variety of both challenges and scenery with some rich exposure to some fantastic foods and cultures. The beauty that is found on the hike is ongoing and there are spectacular vistas found around every corner and bend. Be sure to bring a camera with either lots of extra film or with extra memory if you are shooting digitally. This hike will have you take pictures in the hundreds.

There is also a great camaraderie formed among fellow hikers. Hikers become close friends with those from the same group as well as others found along the trail. You will meet plenty of new friends from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. All will experience something personal and unique along with memories they will all share forever.  The Haute Route will leave you wanting to make the effort to come back again just so you can experience this majestic journey over and over again.

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Portugal – Europe’s Hidden Treasure

January 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel information

Europe is on many travelers’ lists of top travel destinations. England, Italy, France, and Greece seem to be the most sought after and are often filled with tourists in the major cities. There is one small country that offers many classic and beautiful European treasures, but is often overlooked. Looking for great beaches with gorgeous lagoons? How about quaint little European villages? Delicious cuisine? Historical landmarks? Portugal offers all of these and so much more.

Portugal's scenic lagoon

Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, is filled with delicious restaurants, an exciting nightlife, and gorgeous landmarks. Be sure to drive across the 25th of April Bridge (that resembles San Francisco’s Golden Gate) to visit Portugal’s own Cristo Rei statue. You can get a taste of Brazil’s Cristo Redentor statue by simply visiting Cristo Rei located in Almada, just across the Tagus River from Lisbon.

Head south to the ancient town of Evora where you can find great bread and cheese that is special to the area. While you’re there, you may as well visit the infamous Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) located inside the Church of St. Francis. This chapel gets its name because the entire chapel is lined with human bones and skulls! You can also find ancient Roman ruins in Evora that date back to Christ’s lifetime.

Just a few more hours south of Evora you will come to the southern coast of Portugal. Head to the town of Lagos for great beaches and fantastic lagoons. Portugal is also known for its seafood and you will find some great local restaurants while in Lagos.

If you head up to Northern Portugal, be sure to stop by the town of Fatima. You will find a great monument dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Fatima where it is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared to three Portuguese shepherd children. Portugal’s historical and religious culture is vibrant in Fatima.

Continue heading north and visit Portugal’s second largest city, Porto. Located on the Douro river, Porto is rich in European architecture and history. It is likely to be one of the most beautiful urban areas you can find. Wherever you may be standing in Porto, you will have an amazing view.

So if you’re thinking of visiting Europe, make Portugal one of your top destinations. You will find beauty where you least expect it.

Your Family Vacation Must knows When Traveling With Kids

October 26, 2013 by  
Filed under Traveling tips

Family vacations are a great way for busy parents to have quality time with their kids. But without proper planning, it can easily become stressful and disappointing for everyone. So, do yourself a favor and plan ahead!

1. Ask the hotel about child facilities

Some resorts are built for couples, with lots of spas and romantic nooks. Kids will hate this. You need a resort with plenty of indoor recreational facilities, where they can play safely, and happily. Some hotels will even offer babysitting or child care services, so you can do some shopping or sight seeing on your own, without someone tugging at your knee and saying, “Mommy, can we go now?”

2. Don’t overload the itinerary

Kids get tired more easily, or can rapidly become overstimulated and cranky. Make sure that the itinerary leaves lots of room for resting, snacks, or (if you’re taking toddlers) even naps. Ideally you should only cover two major destinations in one day (one in the morning, another in the afternoon). If you want to see more sights, make arrangements to leave your child to rest in the hotel (see tip number one) and do it on your own.

3. Bring a “child care pack”

This includes lots of water (kids get dehydrated more easily), an extra change of clothes, and small toys to amuse them at restaurants.

If you are going to a warm place (like a beach or a tropical country) remember that kids are more vulnerable to sunstroke and sunburn. Bring sunblock, a handheld battery-operated fan, and sports drinks (which will help them retain water). Avoid bringing them out in the hottest times of the day.

4. Choose a kid-friendly itinerary

Consider your child’s age. A toddler will not be able to appreciate a historical tour of the country’s Medieval churches, and even a seven year old may not be able to stay still in a museum.

Look at the places you plan to visit and think, “Will he be able to understand this?” Compare the length of the tour with the average amount of time he can concentrate on one activity. Do this even before you choose a destination—if he won’t enjoy 50% of the key attractions, find another vacation place.

5. Be prepared to pay extra for comfort

You can save a lot of money by roughing it out in 3-star hotels or taking long bus rides, but it’s just not worth it when you’re traveling with kids. Pay extra for comforts that will keep them in a good mood: soft beds, big pools, 3-minute access to restaurants or tour buses. Because if they’re happy, you can relax, and actually have fun too.

6. Get older kids involved in the planning

Kids are more likely to have fun if you get them “psyched” way ahead of the trip. They can help pick the destination (narrow it down to two places you love and let them have the final say). You can also help them make a vacation scrapbook, where they can put “fast facts” on the place you will visit, as well as photos, postcards and other mementos.

7. Pack your patience

No matter how well you plan, remember, these are kids. Unfamiliar places and changes in schedule will always be a little upsetting for them, so try to be understanding. When they have tantrums, check if they’re overstimulated and bring them to a quiet place where they can calm down. Bring a small comfort toy (which can help them settle down if they are tired, scared or cranky).

Why Fiji

October 23, 2013 by  
Filed under Traveling tips

Fiji is probably one of the few places you would name when you are asked what tropical exotic destination would you like to visit.

It is also not as many of us had first thought, just an island. Do you realize there are 333 islands that go to make up Fiji, and they are all different. Fiji is in fact an archipelago, and it stands at the crossroads of the South Pacific. The main island which is called Viti Levu sees the arrival of nearly 100 international flights every week, with most of the tourists arriving , and then taking a short flight of between 7-10 minutes or longer up to an hour to take them to one of the many offshore island resorts.

Where you go, and what you do is very much up to you. You can find real excitement or peace and quiet. You can surf the Cloud Breaker at Tavarua, scuba dive the White Wall, snorkel over giant rainbow gardens of soft coral.

You can fall in love with the smiles and welcome of the people, the hollow log drums beating a welcome, wear flowers in your hair, and be like the local people. If you want to you can just float in the calm turquoise waters of a lagoon, or just idle your day away in a lush tropical rainforest. Yes it does rain, and heavily too!!

A Fijian rainbath is a joy in itself, when the tropical downpour begins, rush outside with everyone else and feel the warm torrential rain, enjoy it, because it never lasts for long.

The choice of island resorts is incredible from Matangi Island and Horshoe Shaped Beach, Namenalala Island, Vanua Levu and the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands resort, to Taveuni Island the soft coral capital of the world, Vatulele Island Resort, The Wakaya Club, The Yasawa Islands, to name a few.

Go there, experience it, you only live once and Fiji is the place to live it.

Why Best Western Hotels Are So Popular

October 20, 2013 by  
Filed under Traveling tips

With 4,000 plus hotels in 80 different countries, Best Western is the largest hotel chain in the world. Best Western hotels are comfortable without costing an arm and a leg, making them perfect for travelers that are on a budget but still concerned with quality. It’s first hotel was opened in Phoenix, and it is now a hotel franchise, with each of the many Best Western hotels independently owned and operated. No matter where you go, you can find a Best Western at which to stay!

Each hotel that operated around the world has a vote in Best Western policies as a member of the Best Western association, making it a bit different from other franchises and other hotel operations in the world. Best Western headquarters, after listening to all of the owner ideas, publishes guidelines every year by which each hotel must be run. Therefore, although each Best Western hotel in which you stay is owned by a different person and may be run differently, there are certain standards the owner and hotel have to meet in order to continue functioning under the Best Western Hotels name.

Best Western was one of the first hotels to offer free Wi-Fi access in certain parts of its hotel, and it remains a leader on cutting-edge technology, although the rooms are usually homey and comfortable. Like many other hotel chains, Best Western has a great website that allows you to search for hotel locations, see what special features each hotel has to offer, and book rooms.

Package deals are also usually available. These change with the season, but usually include lower prices and are great for travelers who have little time in their busy lives to plan vacations. You can work together with Best Western to not only find great hotel prices, but to also get good deals on airfare, rental cares, and activities. You really can’t go wrong with Best Western.

Where Can You Travel With Yacht Charters

October 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Traveling tips

In the world of yacht charters, Greece is one of the most exotic destinations you can choose. Enjoy bareboat sailing on the Ionian Sea along the west coast of Greece where the islands are bound together by a unique culture. Another yacht charter that Greece offers is a chance to see the varied landscape of the islands in the Saronic Gulf. Take trip back to the place where civilization began when you choose one of these yacht charters. Greece has so much to offer that you will hardly know where to begin.

The Saronic Gulf offers exciting ports of call for yacht charters. You have the opportunity for you to charter a yacht on your own and enjoy bareboat sailing. Greece also offers luxury yachts with a full crew to pamper you as you sail along. Whatever your penchant for yacht charters, Greece will meet or beat your expectations giving you a vacation like none other. In addition to the Ionian Sea and the Saronic Gulf, with yacht charters along the coast of Greece, you can sail to the Cyclades Group of islands, the Dodecanese, the Sporades and the Samos area.

For those interested in bareboat sailing, Greece has many types of yachts available, such as sailing yachts and motor yachts. In order to book one of these yacht charters, Greece requires that there be two qualified skippers on board. This is because if one should have an accident, the other can handle the yacht. Greece also requires that skippers be licensed for sailing and you have to mail a copy of your sailing license to the yacht charter company when you make your booking. Don’t forget to bring your original contract for the yacht charter. Greece regulations require this for departure clearance.

Yacht charters in Greece begin on Saturday afternoon and end on Friday evening. The yacht charter company that you choose will also arrange for transfer for you from the airport to the yacht and provide the same service when the charter is complete. With a yacht charter in Greece, you will have to choose an itinerary from a list provided. It is unlikely that you will be able to change the schedule of ports of call.

When you book yacht charters, Greece regulations require that the yacht be full of fuel and water you will need for the trip. There are refuelling stations in the various ports and you must return the yacht in the same way you receive it. The charter company can advise you on what type of clothing to bring with you for yacht charters. Greece can get cold when you are on the water and at night. This is why it is recommended that you bring heavy clothes.

When Traveling With Your Children

October 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Traveling tips

Traveling even if just for a weekend trip can be very exciting even for children. However, we have to understand that when we travel with children whether via the plane, ship, train, bus, or drive our own vehicle, kids can become restless especially when the travel time is quite long. Here are several tips to keep your children entertained and well-behaved during the entire travel trip.

People, especially children can get impatient when they are hungry. When going for a weekend getaway, bring loads of snacks for your kids to chomp on when their stomachs start to growl. You don’t need to be bringing along meals in packed containers. You can pack in a bag snacks like sandwiches, cookies, crackers, juices, fruits and bottled water for ease and convenience.

Have some stopovers to enable your kids and the family to take toilet breaks as well as stretch their legs. Take your meals as well during these stopovers. You can always find many gasoline stations along the way that could serve as stopovers, where food establishments are also located.

Always bring extra clothes irregardless of how old your kids are. You will never know when a change is needed especially for accidents like food or juice spills or they could be sweating from a hot weather. A portable potty would also be useful especially when you have toddlers or very young kids who cannot hold their call of nature for the next stopover. Baby wipes and a hand sanitizer would always come in handy.

To prevent boredom from settling in as well as to keep your children preoccupied, play games with them or engage them in conversation about their favorite toys, their most watched movie, their week at school, their friends, etc. Keep them busy with books, puzzles, toys and other stuff that they could enjoy and have fun with. An activity tote bag can contain comic books, books, games, stuffed toys, cards and things that your kid enjoys doing or would want to take along.

Of course, letting your kids sleep during your travel will enable them to rest to have the extra energy needed when you will reach your destination. Let them sleep to avoid them from being cranky for lacking sleep. It is important though to wake them up properly to avoid irritable behavior. Give them some time to be able to wake up fully and not be feeling groggy.

Why Choose The Saltwhistle Bay Club On Mayreau In The Grenadines

October 14, 2013 by  
Filed under Travel information

To get to The Saltwhistle Bay Club on Mayreau you fly into Barbados, wait around, then catch a plane to Union Island, and there you are collected by boat.

It can be a long way, so be ready for a less than comfortable local flight from Barbados, and be grateful it is short!! I do feel however that your expectations always rise with the degree of difficulty of accessing your vacation destination

It is the price you pay for classic Caribbean seclusion which is what you get at Saltwhistle Bay.

It is a very small resort, with a most beautiful beach on a very sleepy island.

There are only 10 rooms, which are in stone cottages, built with local wood and stone, well screened by palm trees.

The main reason however that I would choose the Saltwhistle Bay Club is that it is simple, very comfortable, and a real barefoot escape. I personally just love to unwind, to mind my own business, to read, or just to walk on a pure white sand beach and wade in a crystal clear turquoise sea. This is the perfect place to do just that. This place is best described as almost completely undeveloped, so much so you immediately fall into a kind of stupor where it’s difficult to remember the hustle and bustle of the outside world you so recently left.

How many places can you honestly say are like that today?

I just knew instinctively from the moment I arrived off the beach and was greeted by a rum punch, and my suitcases vanished to my room that Saltwhistle was somewhere very special.

Having said all that the bay is a popular port of call for local yacht charters, so the bar is busy if you feel like company.

This is not a cheap vacation, nor is it one for five star cosseted hotel seekers, but definitely a place for people who still regard themselves as travellers and not tourists, for people who research and book independently.

What You Must Do When Traveling With Seniors

October 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Traveling tips

Traveling with your parents can be a wonderful experience if you plan well ahead. Here are five things you must do to ensure that you and your parents will have a great vacation.

1. Ensure that the itinerary is not too fast paced.

Older folks tend to get tired easily and thus it is not advisable to include activities that are too strenuous. It is also not advisable to pack too many activities in the itinerary such that you and your parents have to rush from one place to another.

2. Ensure that everyone has ample sleep

Plan to have at least six to eight hours of sleep for you and your parents for each day of your vacation. Try to avoid having any more activities after 11 p.m. Prepare some hot water for your parents to soak their legs before bed time if there is a fair amount of walking in the day.

3. Have ample supply of their medication

If your parents are suffering from diabetes, asthma, hypertension, high cholesterol or any other illness, make sure you obtain ample supply of medication from their doctors to last for the whole trip. To ensure that you remember to bring the medication, create a checklist of things to bring and put their medication among the top five items on that list. As a safety precaution, ask them to carry a medical record of their illness and contact details in case you are not around when they need medical attention.

4. Healthy diet

Most older people do not take heavy meals and thus you need to plan for multiple light and healthy meals that are low on salts, oil and sugars but high in fiber. Always have a sandwich or high fiber biscuits in your bag in case they get hungry and there isn’t a snack bar in the vicinity. Also make sure that you and your parents drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration.

5. Bring along a first aid travel pack.

Your first aid travel pack should contain medication for fever and diarrhea, cold symptoms and giddiness. It should also include a thermometer, tweezers, sharp scissors, safety pins, adhesive bandages, sterile gauze, adhesive tape and antiseptic wipes. While this list is not exhaustive, the stocks in the travel pack should be enough to cater to most conditions that require general first aid assistance. Do check the expiry date for those medications that you bring along to ensure that they are safe for consumption.

Traveling with your parents need not be a hassle as long as you plan ahead and take care of their needs. Involve them in all the activities along the way and remember to have fun!

Why You Should Choose Las Vegas As Your Next Vacation Spot

October 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Top Vacation Destinations

Las Vegas (otherwise known as “sin city” to some) is not the same place it was ten years ago. Today Las Vegas has many things that vacationing families will find attractive such as sites to see, plays, musicals, concerts, sport tournaments and much more.

One of the many things to check out in Las Vegas would be Circus Circus. They have a big indoor circus for littler children. Treasure Island, another great attraction, has a really cool pirate show that is addicting to watch over and over.

The Stratosphere Tower is another awesome site to see. Atop the tower there are some cool things to do, such as reverse bungee jumping or riding the world’s highest roller coaster. For those of you that are not familiar with reverse bungee jumping it is definitely unique; you get shot up into the air 160 feet at 45 miles per hour and then come zooming back down at high speeds.

Las Vegas usually has affordable lodging in good locations close to the Strip.

Appreciate a good meal? Try dinners at Emeril’s! The food is delicious and is a one-time experience for most. For music lovers they also have the Liberace museum which pays tribute to one of the greatest musicians to ever live.

Las Vegas is in the middle of the desert, so the temperature in summer often breaks 100 degrees. While in the area you might even want to check out the desert.

Make sure you keep hydrated and cool. After all it would not be a good vacation if you came down with heat stroke!

When the temperature gets too hot do not forget to try the pools or spas at some of the finest hotels around. The pool at the Mirage hotel is supposed to be one of the finest around – do not hesitate to jump in for some great fun!

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