Archive for travel

What to Do on a Trip of a Lifetime to Mexico

Whether you’re planning a round-the-world trip or donning your backpack for the very first time, Mexico should be on your list of must-visit destinations. The country is famous for tequila, fantastic food, Mayan ruins, deserts, excellent hospitality and beautiful beaches. And everything is at a very affordable price including some of the best beachfront homes in Mexico. Some come to relax or honeymoon while others for the adventure or to practice their Spanish. Whatever the reason, Mexico won’t disappoint.

 

The Best Things to Do in Mexico

Planning a trip to Mexico is difficult because there are just so many things to do and new experience to have. The beaches are some of the best outside of the Caribbean and crystal clear water makes a perfect spot for snorkelling and scuba diving. You can head to the resort areas of Los Cabos or Cancun for a relaxing vacation at an all-inclusive or find a vacation rental with a view. Or head along the coast to the smaller towns for a more local experience.

Next are the ruins. Mayan ruins are all around the country including pyramids, settlements and temples of which some have a very gruesome history. Check them out and learn about the unique culture that lived here and their practices of human sacrifice. Other awesome things to do include whale-watching, exploring some of the islands, heading into the desert and soaking up the atmosphere in the colonial towns.

 

Where are the Best Places to Visit?

 

Mexico is a huge country taking up about 20% of the landmass of the United States making a lot of ground to cover. The most popular destinations for those taking a holiday around the coastal areas are to places like Los Cabos, Playa del Carmen and Cancun. Fewer take the time to visit some of the areas on the interior and miss out on colonial towns and ruins. Let’s look at some of the less explored parts of Mexico to visit.

Mexico City, in the Valle de Mexico or Valley of Mexico in the central part of the country, is the economic and cultural centre of the nation. Highlights include museums, both Aztec and Mayan ruins, colonial buildings along with beautiful gardens and public spaces. The shopping district is unlike any other in Mexico selling the very latest accessories and fashion. Despite the humongous size of the city, it’s not that difficult or overwhelming to visit as most attractions are clustered in three or four districts. And any negative reputation for safety isn’t as bad as you may think after the government began cracking down on crime.

 

Mexico City Palace of Fine Arts

Mexico City Palace of Fine Arts

 

Tulum shares a stretch of the Caribbean coast and has some of Mexico’s most beautiful beaches. Tourists often come to relax in the high-end resorts and spend a few days lounging on the beaches soaking up the sunshine. Head a little away from the town, and you’ll find an ancient Mayan city that once acted as an important port. The complex has a series of ruins with the main building, a castle, sat on the cliff. Head to the north of Tulum Beach and you’ll come across plenty of other ruins, including the ancient Mayan city of Coba. The Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a nearby UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also worth visiting on a day trip from Tulum.

 

Off the Beaten Path

Perhaps you want to visit the lesser-explored parts of Mexico. After all, it’s big enough, and if you know where you want to go, you’ll have an incredible experience with warm and friendly locals.

San Miguel de Allende is in the central highlands of Mexico and is one of the prettiest colonial towns in the country. Spanish baroque architecture dominates the facades, and an active arts scene makes San Miguel a cultural centre. Expect cobblestone streets with lots of churches, such as the neo-Gothic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel and the Templo de San Francisco church. Most visitors typically spend a few days in the pretty town for the architecture, culture and the cooler climate.

San Pancho, or sometimes referred to as San Francisco, is a seaside town on the central Pacific coast. Beaches are quiet and many of the visitors are yoga enthusiasts. Apart from joining a yoga class, you can also visit the Punta Monterrey inside the jungle or follow the trails to very secluded beaches. You won’t find as many tourists here giving you a more authentic Mexican experience.

 

How to Get Around Mexico

 

The fastest and easiest way is to fly. Domestic flights connect major cities and depart on regular schedules making it convenient to get from one side of the country to the other. Alternatively, if you want to get to the smaller towns, especially in the interior, you’ll need to use the chicken bus. A chicken bus is a minibus taking passengers around the country with fares costing very little. This is the preferred method for visitors who want to slow travel around Mexico or are on a budget. You can also use the ferry or boat services to get from one destination to the next along the coast.

 

The Ingredients for a Trip of a Lifetime

 

What makes Mexico so special as a travel destination is its diversity, culture and your ability to get off the beaten path at affordable prices. You’ll see beaches, Mayan ruins and colonial towns or replace your wardrobe in Mexico City while enjoying their delicious food on a daily basis.

 

Tulum ruins Mexico

Tulum ruins Mexico

What to Pack for the Trip of a Lifetime to the Niagara Falls

Travel is a wonderful way to broaden your horizons and enjoy more of what life has to offer. There are some truly wonderful places to explore and experience.

A great example of this kind of destination is the glorious Niagara Falls. Whether you stay on the Canadian or US side this place is simply breathtaking. Quite like anything you are likely to have experienced before. It really is a trip of a lifetime, so you really should prepare for it carefully.

 

Treat yourself to a nice hotel

If you possibly can book a hotel like the one you will find at marriottonthefalls.com. You are only going to do this once, so it really is worth splashing the cash if you can and staying somewhere with a view of the falls. Being able to get a bird´s eye view of them really is the best way to appreciate the sheer majesty and size of this stunning natural wonder.

At night, you are in for a real treat when the falls are illuminated and you get to take in the entire vista from a comfortable, luxury hotel room. It is a sight you are never going to forget, especially if you are lucky enough to be staying there when one of the falls fireworks shows is held.

 

 

Pack for all weathers

Before booking go online and check what the weather conditions are likely to be like during your stay. This will help to inform your decision about what type of clothes to pack.

In the summer months, the weather is normally quite warm. However, there is a good chance that you will experience days where it rains and there is a chilly wind blowing. Therefore, even at that time of the year, it is wise to pack at least one lightweight jumper, sweatshirt, a pair of long trousers, some closed in footwear and a coat that will keep you dry.

 

TIP: Here’s a practical guide to visiting the Niagara Falls.


The right footwear

The falls are very busy most of the year. This means that you are potentially going to be spending a bit of time queuing for the tours and attractions. Therefore, you really do need to take comfortable footwear, which has been properly broken in. You really do not want to have blisters or bleeding feet. If you plan to take a tour that involves a lot of walking you really do need to be wearing something sturdy and comfortable. You are going to clambering about a bit, so need something that supports your feet properly.

 

A good waterproof coat

Some of the tours like the boat trips take you right to the foot of the falls. Here you will be sprayed by the mist, so a good waterproof comes in handy. The tour operators do provide plastic ponchos, which will keep you reasonably dry. However, they do not do much to keep you warm. For this reason, a waterproof coat is always a good idea. Just make sure that it is lightweight enough to stuff in your backpack when you do not need it.

 

The right visas and documentation

Potentially, you can explore the Niagara Falls from both the US and Canadian sides. If you want to do this you need to take the right documents with you and remember to carry them with you on the relevant days. You can find out what documentation you are likely to need from this FAQ page.

 




TIP: Go on a helicopter ride above the Niagara Falls, you won’t ever regret it 😉

 


 

Turtle Conservation Montserrat

Migrating turtles will shortly be arriving in Montserrat to lay their eggs which they do every year from April to September. This includes leatherback, green, hawksbill and loggerhead turtles. They main nesting season is from the beginning of July to the end of September, and the hatchlings start emerging from the beginning of September and continue until the end of December.

Turtles are an endangered species and conservation is essential to the species arrival. The adults are often killed for meat and the eggs eaten, although this is illegal in nesting season on Montserrat. Great efforts have been made with conservation on the island, the turtles’ arrival is monitored, the turtles are tagged and many of the eggs are removed and taken to a hatchery. Since the hatchery was started, a few years ago, the hatchling survival rate has increased to 75%. In the wild, it is normally only 10% as many of the hatchlings are picked off by birds and other creatures while making their way from the nest to the sea.

 

 

Research has been done on island and local people working in turtle conservation such as John Jeffers have contributed to overseas university research, assisting the researchers with their knowledge and experience.

The turtles generally lay their eggs at night, digging a chamber which can take an hour or more, before returning to the sea. Migrating turtles return year after year to the same beach to lay their eggs and many of the beaches in Montserrat are nesting sites.

Turtle Conservation Montserrat was set up in 2014 to work with other professionals in protecting the turtles. John Jeffers, who is Montserratian and has over 36 years experience of turtle conservation, trains volunteers to work with the turtles while they become involved in turtle conservation. John received an MBE for his work with turtles and is probably one of the most knowledgeable individuals in the Caribbean. The business and marketing side of the business is run by Carolyne Coleby, who has a background in tourism and conservation, and accommodation and meals are provided as part of the volunteer package.

 

The fact that the turtles lay at night, although the eggs are collected in the morning, means that volunteers have most of the day free to explore Montserrat. Montserrat has an active volcano which can be viewed from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, which also shows films about the eruptions of the volcano, as well as from Plymouth. Plymouth is accessible on tours or by boat. It is the former capital of Montserrat, was abandoned when the volcano erupted in 1997, and is now often referred to as a ‘modern day Pompeii’. It is possible to explore the environs of Plymouth such as Richmond Hill, with its abandoned hotel, by yourself and Cork Hill, another local town, is at present being rejuvenated with hopes to reoccupy at some time in the future. There are often street jams on a Friday night in Cork Hill which only started after former residents returning in March for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations started renovating the village.

The Centre Hills provide excellent rainforest and mountain hiking, with many trails that have recently been cleared. There is also plenty of opportunity for scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking, quad biking, boat and fishing trips. Montserrat really is a nature lover’s paradise and is a pristine environment where you can be very close to nature. It is excellent for photography.

From April through to June, migrating whales pass the island. Scuba Montserrat, a local diving outfit, were lucky enough to see a humpback whale and her calf while taking tourists out on a recent boat trip. The whale spent some time with them and they got great videos and photos.

Liming’ is also a popular pastime. Liming is shooting the breeze at one of the many rum shops on island where you can sample everything from coconut rum to locally made bush rum as well as the usual beers, other forms of alcohol and soft drinks. There is a fair choice of restaurants and snack bars on island, including the award winning Olveston House, home of the Beatle’s manager, George Martin who had Air Studios on Montserrat, to John Ponteen’s Beach View at Little Bay which does excellent barbeques on Sundays with local fish or chicken and ribs and has a bar. The architecture is unique – John built the restaurant himself with rocks he carried there and it sometimes has hummingbirds inside, as well as lots of tropical plants. There is also a veranda out over the sea.

Beaches are generally very quiet and you may find you are the only person on the beach. There are a variety of black sand beaches which are popular, including Lime Kiln and Woodlands, as well as a white sand beach at Rendezvous Bay accessible only by hiking or kayaking and it is definitely worth a visit.

For more information about Turtle Conservation Montserrat, visit their website.

What are best travel experiences?

One of the very few travel websites I follow, RoundTheWorldExperts put up together a long list of 50 best travel experiences you definitely should try in your life.

You will find there countries like Thailand, Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, USA … But do you know what exactly should you try there no matter what?

 

The World's 50 Greatest Travel Experiences

 

On my personal blog I wrote about all the expriences I’ve personally done from the list mentioned above. Are you wondering now which ones are they exactly? Then check my post too.

 

Which experiences are still on your bucket list and how many amazed you already? What other expriences would you add to the list? Share in the comments below:

5 things to do in Dominican republic

The other day when browsing online to decide about my next destinations I ran into an interesting article about the best beaches in the Dominican republic. You all know I am a beach babe but I also love doing other things.

Thinking about the Caribbean made me put up the following list.

 

Dominican republic beach

 

 

5 things to do in Dominican republic:

 

1. Relax

What else could be on top of my list if not relaxing? Isn’t it the main reason why people visit new destinations? To forget about the stress of their daily life? I think so. And where better to chill out than on one of the Dominican republic paradise beaches? I am sure that the Caribbean beaches will take your breath away.

 

2. Adventure sports

The island is filled with adventure sports, and you should not miss them while there. Beach bumming is great but you don’t want to come back home with 5 kilograms more, do you? Then it’s up to you to pick the right adventure for you. You can choose from snorkeling, wind surfing, horse-back riding, surfing, kitesurfing, kayaking, paragliding, parasailing, SUP, zipline in Punta Cana or even a more lazy golf. Any activity counts and you will not only burn calories, but also have loads of fun doing so.

 

3. Nature

Many tourists would not think of the Dominican republic as of a destination where you can explore the jungle and learn something about the local flora and fauna. There’s many hiking trails to choose from, such as hiking to the Damajagua waterfalls (get a car/a guide from Puerto Plata and then hike to the 27 pools set among limestone cliffs). If you have more time, also take a tour to the wild Los Haitises National Park. It’s a protected forest sanctuary with small islands located along the coast of in San Lorenzo Bay where you can observe frigate birds, brown pelicans, many reptiles and even petroglyphs in prehistoric caves Taino.

 

4. History

Visiting Santo Domingo, the capital founded in the very late 15th century is a must. Go spend some time strolling around the Ciudad Colonial – the UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the West bank of the Ozama river. You can find more than 300 historical histes here, such as many interesting museums, beautiful churches, palaces and important houses which will give you an insight into the local island history. Las Damas, Las Mercedes and El Conde are three of the most-known streets in Santo Domingo. Pay a visit to the landmarks, e.g. Basilica of Santa Maria del Menor, Fortaleza Ozama, Casa del Cordon, Museo de las Casas Reales and Alcazar de Colon etc.

 

5. Boat tours

What’s a better way to get familiar with the island if not by boat? There’s plenty of boat tours to go on and if you get a chance, take a boat to one of the little islands close by, such as Saona, Beata or Isla Catalina. You can pick a relaxing sailing trip, adventurous snuba diving trip, a fast speedboat, or even a sunset party boat. It all depends just on your mood or on your friends/family who are on the trip with you. Just make sure to have a memorable time 🙂