Posts for Travel Tips Category

Explore All that Costa Rica Has to Offer for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Best Destinations, Travel Tips - Amanda - July 10, 2019

The Peninsula Papagayo is one of the most incredible places to visit in Costa Rica. This 1,400-acre retreat provides a peerless setting for outdoor activities and adventures. This once-in-a-lifetime destination is guaranteed fun for the entire family and fodder for lifelong memories. This guide will provide you with tips for making the most out of your Costa Rican vacation.

1 – Consider Your Budget

You need to come up with a budget before planning your trip to Cosa Rica. Even if you’re not a fan of making them, a budget can give you an idea if a Costa Rica vacation is within your reach. You should consider accommodation costs, airline prices, entertainment costs, food and drink costs, ground transportation costs, travel expenses, and anything else that might come up during your trip. To access some of the choicer adventures and areas, in Peninsula Papagayo, you may need to be a member of the Papagayo Explorers Club, too.

2 – Decide What You Want to Do

With your budget in mind, you can plan accordingly. One of the best things about the Peninsula Papagayo is that there’s something for everyone to do. It’s your access to the incredible biodiversity. This area has access points and basecamps that attract people of all ages.

Each of the trails is designed to preserve some of the biological areas on the planet. You’ll find that the biking and hiking trails are connected to the trail system, which makes it possible to bike, hike, and walk along each of these trails. If you want something more challenging or intense, then you can travel deep into the forest. Some of the activities that take place on these trails include bird watching, mountain biking, nature walks, night walks, safari nature rides, and the Nacascolo Paddle Exploration.

3 – Book Accommodations

If you ever booked accommodations before, then you know how difficult it is to get the room you want. That’s why it’s so important to book your accommodations as soon as possible. Most resorts allow you to cancel a few days before your trip if you use a third-party site such as Booking. But it’s usually best to book through the hotel chain and to find out their cancellation policy.

You should book your room as soon as you know when you want to go. You can always check back if there’s an upgrade or a cheaper rate. There are plenty of gorgeous hotels and resorts in the Peninsula Papagayo area.

One is the Andaz Costa Rica Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, which gives you an up-close look at nature. This resort has one of the most beautiful landscapes and environments on the planet. This Peninsula Papagayo resort and spa also has luxury accommodations such as four restaurants, a relaxing spa, and four swimming pools, including an adults-only pool.

The Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo is another highly-recommended resort. With breathtaking Pacific Ocean views and endless entertainment and wellness options, you’ll experience the “pura vida” like few have done before.

4 – Research Local Restaurants

Even if your resort offers word class dining, you still need to explore the food in Costa Rica. The first thing you should do is find out where the hot spots are. Visit each restaurant’s website and read the menu so you know what to expect and what to order. Some of the most incredible food and drink experiences can be found at Chef 4U, the Fish Market, Olas Restaurant, Ostra Seafood, Sunset Lounge, Surf Bar, and Villa Italia, just to name a few. Book reservations ahead of time so you can get a table since some of these places fill up fast.

5 – Finalize Your Budget

Now that everything is planned, it’s time to work on your budget one last time. This is where you’ll want to determine your maximum amount to spend on each aspect of your trip. How much do you want to spend on activities? Souvenirs? Food and drink? There are plenty of free mobile apps that can track your spending.

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Africa’s Ugly 5

Travel Tips - Amanda - November 12, 2018

Africa is home to the iconic Big 5, attracting tourists from all over the world. Did you know that there is also another fascinating group of animals known as the Ugly 5? They may not be the prettiest specimens, but they’re just as intriguing. They can be seen on game drives and walks at many safari and game lodges in South Africa such as Pondoro Game Lodge.

Hyena

Hyenas are known to be crafty nocturnal scavengers. They feast on the left overs of predators’ kills e.g. if a pack of lions kill a buffalo, they will watch until the lions have had their share, wait for them to leave and eat the decaying scraps. Most frighteningly, hyenas are cannibals. They may attack and eat other hyenas, especially the young.

There are four species of hyenas: the spotted hyena; the striped hyena; the brown hyena and the aardwolf. The spotted hyena is the largest, standing at 87.5 centimetres in height and 41 kilos in weight. On the other side of the spectrum is the aardwolf, which is 50 centimetres in height and 27 kilos in weight.

Hyenas are renowned for their characteristic laughing sounds, which serve as alerts to other hyenas when food is found.

Wildebeest

Wildebeests are a type of antelope, native to Africa. There are two types: black and blue
The primary differences are in their physical characteristics: the curvature of their horns and colour of their coats. In terms of size, the blue wildebeest is the bigger of the two types.

The Maasai Mara region in Kenya is famous for the Great Migration of wildebeest. This incredible natural phenomenon that sees millions of wildebeest begin their journey from the southern Serengeti and travel to the Mara – late July / early August is the best time to visit in order to witness this wildlife marvel. It’s guaranteed that you’ll never see anything like this anywhere else in the world.

Vulture

Vultures are famous for being scavenger birds of prey. Most types can easily be distinguished by their characteristic bald heads. Interestingly, it has been suggested that their bald heads serve to help vultures regulate their body temperature (thermoregulation).

Like hyenas, they eat leftover scraps of animals that have been killed by other predators. Their strong immune systems prevent them from becoming ill after eating rotting meat. Vultures have a translucent third eyelid (known as nictitating membrane) providing the eye with additional protection. In a similar way to some birds, reptiles and sharks.

Warthog

The description ‘picturesque and regal’ is unfortunately not suitable for a warthog.
There are two species: common warthog and desert warthog.

The common warthog is a member of the pig family and can be found in grassland, savannah, and woodland areas in sub-Saharan Africa; the desert warthog on the other hand, is endemic to Kenya and Somalia.

The warthog can be identified by its characteristic two pairs of tusks that stick out from the mouth and curve 90-degrees or more. The tusks are used for defence purposes against predators.

They are primarily herbivorous, eating mainly grass, fruit, berries, roots and insects, but they sometimes eat other small mammals, reptiles and birds.

Marabou stork

The Marabou is an extremely strange-looking bird found in sub-Saharan Africa, living in both arid and wet habitats.

It can be easily recognised by its immense size, bald head, black-coloured back, white-coloured underparts and wingspan of approximately 3.7 metres, which is said to be the largest span of all land birds.

Like other stork families, marabou storks are gregarious, meaning that they live in flocks or communities.

It’s a scavenger by nature, eating termites, flamingos and carrion (rotting meat scraps). In fact, it will eat any animal that it can swallow. It often follows vultures, waiting for them to tear open the carcasses so that it’s easier for them to access the dead flesh.

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Four Steps to Consider When Planning your Trans-Siberian Tour

Travel Tips - Amanda - September 24, 2018

Image Source: Pixabay

Just by hearing the word Trans-Siberian gives you goose bumps, you feel like floating in distant lands and bygone times. The Trans-Siberian route could be the true adventure of your life. How many pages and books have been inspired in the wagons of this railway? The Trans-Siberian has already passed into the category of mythical route, being the longest rail service in the world – from Moscow to Vladivostok – on the shores of the Sea of Japan. In total there are 9288 kilometres, crossing 8 time zones.

And because every great journey begins with good planning. On a trip of these characteristics, planning becomes essential. Here are some tips to keep in mind in your Trans-Siberian railway holiday planning & booking, to have the experience of your life:

1. Plan Your Route

It is important not to confuse the original Trans-Siberian route – Moscow to Vladivostok – with the rest of existing variants, from Transmongolian to Transmanchurian, which runs parallel to the original line, but a few hundred kilometres to the north. Many times it is advisable to hire for this type of trip some travel agency that is dedicated exclusively to organise this route and plan a trip completely designed to your liking.

2. What About Visas And Travel Insurance?

Being three different countries, you have to get three different visas. This can take time and sometimes the process seems endless. If you have ever experienced having to arrange visas, you know what I mean. The easiest way could be to hire a company that is dedicated to organising this type of travel; not only will you get the visas, but you will be insured and advised.

Image Source: Unsplash

3. The Essential Luggage

On a trip of these characteristics, it is necessary to be extra wise at the time of deciding what we should take. What should we take into account? Among other things the time of year, as temperatures can range considerably. It is advisable that you wear several layers of comfortable clothing – ideally one really warm jacket like the ones that are popular among mountaineers – especially during winter travel. In addition to your main bag, I would suggest carrying a daypack, small enough to have on your seat or berth on the train and can be used to keep your valuables and items you need to get hold of most regularly. Don’t forget your multi-country socket adaptor. Also bring with you an extra rechargeable battery, as the power sockets on the trains don’t always actually work. Place all your gadgets and the cables for those gadgets in one bag. There are articles you can find online providing some advice for a long train journey, which might help you to prepare accordingly.

4. List Of Ideas For Enjoying Long Journeys:

– Sleep or rest
– Stretch your legs during long stops
– Plan the next step by reading a travel guide
– Watch a film
– Enjoy contemplating the landscape through the window of the train

When you organise a trip of these characteristics, sometimes you may have the feeling that it can be too much a nightmare. Between the paperwork, booking tickets, hotels, etc. That’s why it’s best to find out the best way to prepare your trip and find a tour operator that has great reviews.

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5 Most Popular Tourist Attractions in Amsterdam

Best Destinations, Travel Tips - Amanda - August 21, 2018

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Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, known for its rich culture, museums and an impeccable canal system, which makes the city look even more beautiful. It’s also very tourist friendly, with most hotels offering door to door Amsterdam airport taxi services, and then onwards, you can travel around the city as the locals do, by cycles, as there are cycle paths everywhere in the city. If you’re looking to explore some beautiful museums, enjoy great food and picturesque views, you must head to Amsterdam.

Here are the 5 top attractions for tourists in Amsterdam:

1. Anne Frank House

Most of us have read the story of Anne Frank and the injustice committed to the Jewish people during the time of World War II. Take a walk through this historically significant house where Anne and her entire family hid from the Nazi Germans during the persecution period, and get a glimpse of the snippets of her life in hiding as she had written in her diary. Make sure you book your tickets well in advance as this place is a top tourist attraction and tickets are hard to find.

2. Van Gogh Museum

This museum in Amsterdam holds the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world and is one of the most important tourist attractions in the city. People all over the world come to see the artwork of this crazy genius whose madness finally got him to cut his ear off, and marvel at almost 200 of his paintings showcased in one place.

3. De Negen Straatjes

De Negen Straatjes, or ‘The Nine Streets’ as it is otherwise known, is one the largest shopping areas in Amsterdam. These quaint streets are filled with over 200 retail stores, including independent boutiques, and specialty vintage stores as well. Notably, here you will find famous brands and local stores all on the same stretch. Along these roads, you will also find quaint cafes with pleasant interiors, where you can enjoy a nice cup of tea or a glass of wine.

4. Amsterdam North

While Amsterdam attracts a lot of tourists every year, a very small number of them actually explore or venture out to the North side of Amsterdam. Take a ferry to the North side and enjoy a relaxing time at the beach by the banks of the IJ, as you soak up the sun while sipping on some cocktails and snacking on some delicious food. Summer is the best time to visit this place so you can enjoy the warm pleasant climate.

5. Artis Zoo

If you are traveling with a family and children, you might want to include this zoo in your itinerary. A house for many rare animals like penguins and lions, a visit to this zoo is a wonderful way to spend an entire day with your family. As with the Anne Frank House, make sure to book your tickets in advance to avoid last minute glitches.

These are only some of the beautiful attractions Amsterdam has to offer, and you will not be disappointed with a visit to this beautiful European city.

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Memorable Menu Suggestions When Holidaying in Chengdu

Travel Tips - Amanda - July 23, 2018

Image by Chinh Le Duc via Unsplash

If you and your family are planning a trip to China anytime soon, the chances are that Chengdu is on your list of places to visit and with such a gastronomic diversity, you will be able to experience many of the local dishes. Chengdu is the capital city of Sichuan Province, set in the Chengdu plain, a vast expanse of fertile land that is very productive and with so many fruits and vegetables, the range of delicious dishes that originate from Chengdu are among the best in the country. If you are soon to be arriving in Chengdu, here’s a list of local dishes you simply must sample.

1. Fried Rabbit with Peppers – Shuang Jiao Tu is easy to pronounce and is one of the most popular dishes that Chengdu has to offer. Rabbit is a staple diet in this part of China and with generous helpings of green and red peppers, fresh Sichuan pepper, garlic and, of course, ginger, your taste buds will explode into action. While this dish is hard to find in the city, there are rabbit restaurants in the suburbs that specialise in this tasty dish. Many westerners go on China private tours in 2019 and with an online search, you can locate an established Chinese tour operator who can recommend the best places to visit.

2. Smoked Sausage – La Xiang Chang is a spicy smoked sausage that is cured to perfection and the unique spicy flavour is largely due to the fresh Sichuan pepper that is freely available and used extensively in Chengdu’s kitchens. This dish can either be steamed or fried and can be eaten on its own or with several other side dishes.

3. Sichuan Dumplings – Hong You Chao Shou is served in a delicious chili oil and this special dish is exclusive to Sichuan. The dumplings are wrapped into a crescent shape and filled with pork and ginger and the spicy chili oil perfectly complements the dumplings, with many Chengdu chefs creating their very own chili oil sauce.

4. Fish Mint Salad – Zhe Er Gen is a dish that uses a rare plant in China called Houttuynia Cordata, which has a unique flavour. This particular dish is not to everyone’s taste but while you are in Chengdu, you really should give it a try. Perfect as a spicy salad side dish, this uniquely tasting dish is one of the most popular in Chengdu.

5. Fire Wood Chicken – Chai Huo Ji is an ideal main dish for a hungry family, with a freshly prepared chicken that is first cooked in Sichuan pepper and ginger. It is then stewed in a special paste made from pickled chilies, green beans and garnished with potatoes.

Chengdu is the perfect Chinese holiday destination if you are looking to try some amazing cuisine and with such fertile land, the locals make very good use of their produce by preparing unique dishes that you really should experience while in China.

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