Monthly Archives: May 2014

visit the Bay of Islands in New Zealand: Beaches and bays as seen from the Great Ocean Road of Northern New Zealand. Photo by andrewandyhall, flickr

5 reasons to visit the Bay of Islands in New Zealand

Stunning cliffs, deep blue lagoons and beaches stretched out beside boutique towns. The Bay is an astounding group 144 islands that can easily be reached by a three hour drive from Auckland.

Aside from being spectacularly picturesque, the Bay of Islands was the site at which the earliest contact between European and Indigenous settlers took place. Now, it has become a popular a maritime adventure playground with an abundance of wildlife including penguins, dolphins, marlin, whales and gannets.

5 reasons to visit the Bay of Islands in New Zealand: The incredible beaches

visit the Bay of Islands in New Zealand: Beaches and bays as seen from the Great Ocean Road of Northern New Zealand. Photo by andrewandyhall, flickr

Beaches and bays as seen from the Great Ocean Road of Northern New Zealand. Photo by andrewandyhall, flickr

The Bay of Islands is a great chance to relax on some of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand, a lot of which are hidden gems nestled away from the hustle and bustle of other centers. In Russell, make sure to visit Long Beach. It’s a 20minute walk from the main town area, but it makes for great swimming and amazing views of Roberton Island. The Whangaroa Harbour is the jewel of the 0ay of Islands, offering spectacular views that encircle the entire coastline, as well as stunning blue water.

Adrenaline adventure for thrill seekers

visit the Bay of Islands in New Zealand: The stunning Whangaroa Bay which is a great spot for water activities and hiking. Photo by Tonyfoster, flickr

The stunning Whangaroa Bay which is a great spot for water activities and hiking. Photo by Tonyfoster, flickr

New Zealand is notorious for being the place to go for thrill seekers. The Bay of Islands is no exception, in fact, it lives entirely up to the name and it has an abundance of activities for every kind of traveller. For those who prefer to stay on land, you have the choice of hiking, cycling, mountain biking, horse-trekking, and golfing. Or try off road driving and riding motorbikes. For those who enjoy more of a thrill, you can go skydiving or board a small aircraft or helicopter for a scenic ride. And it wouldn’t be a trip to the Bay of Islands if there weren’t any water sports thrown in. The region is renowned for pleasure craft cruising and big game fishing.

The wildlife is spectacular

visit the Bay of Islands in New Zealand: Whangarei Falls scenic reserve in Northland. Photo by Alan Cressler, flickr

Whangarei Falls scenic reserve in Northland. Photo by Alan Cressler, flickr

It’s fairly common throughout the areas of the Bay of Islands to see an array of natural flora and fauna. It’s not uncommon for tourists to see seals and dolphins on a swim or a dive. Whilst you’re visiting the Bay of Islands, make sure you go on a dolphin cruise. Fullers Great Sights cruises offer two dolphin cruises. In one, you visit the hole in the rock on a half-day cruise where you can get up close and personal to dolphins and whales. The other is the eco experience, where you get the chance to swim with the dolphins. On land, you can get close to all different kinds of birds, including Oyster Catcher birds.

Breathtaking waterfalls

visit the Bay of Islands in New Zealand: Haruru Falls which is part of the Waitangi River. Photo by benjohnlamb, flickr

Haruru Falls which is part of the Waitangi River. Photo by benjohnlamb, flickr

Haruru Falls, located near Paihia, is a spectacular horseshoe shaped waterfall. In Maori, Haruru literally means “big noise” and that’s what makes these waterfalls so captivating. They’re loud and rushing and stunning. In the 1800’s, more than 100 Maori villages had lined the bustling banks of the Haruru River. The river flows directly to the sea at Waitangi, and legend has it that there lives a water monster in the lagoon located below the waterfall.

It’s loaded with history

visit the Bay of Islands in New Zealand: Sunrise over the town of Russell. Photo by Chris Gin, flickr

Sunrise over the town of Russell. Photo by Chris Gin, flickr

Because of its history, the area surrounding the bay offers glimpses into the early settlement by whalers, missionaries and explorers. Visit Waitangi to view the treaty house where the former British commander lived, and where New Zealand’s most significant document, The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. Visit Russell, a small town, which was once the capital of New Zealand and now remains a lively place, great for relaxing or dining in world class restaurants: the Duke of Marlbourgh Hotel and the Gables to name two. Afterwards, make a trip to Kerikeri, the place where the earliest permanent settlement existed in New Zealand and now houses some of the oldest houses in the country.

Khao Sok National Park: Stay in riverside bungalows at Khao Sok Rainforest Resort. Photo by goista.com

What to do in Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

An evergreen rain forest spreads as far as eyes can see. Massive limestone mountains loom over deep valleys forming the perfect balance for a diverse ecosystem to thrive. The Khao Sok National Park covers an area about half the size of London and can be found between Phuket and Surat Thani.

It’s an incredible destination in Southern Thailand and it’s no wonder why. Expect to see wild animals such as elephants, tigers, deer, bears, white handed gibbons, and squirrels. Close and personal elephant encounters, jungle trekking on foot, canoeing, and truck Safaris are all popular things to do here. Cheow Larn Lake in the heart of the National Park has floating raft houses and luxury tents which are a must-see.

Khao Sok National Park: Explore the lake at  Khao Sok National Park, Thailand. Photo by greenandamantravel.com

Explore the lake at Khao Sok National Park, Thailand. Photo by greenandamantravel.com

Location

Khao Sok is in the south of Thailand in the Surat Thani province, between Surat Thani on the east (120km) and Takuapa on the west coast (60km). The park extends into parts of the Khlong Yee and Khlong Pra Sang forests as well as portions of the Krai Son, the Khao Pung sub-districts in the district of Ban Ta Khun, and the Khlong Sok and Panom sub-districts in the province of Surat Thani.

MORE: 10 POPULAR ISLANDS TO VISIT IN SOUTH EAST ASIA

Climate

Khao Sok has the highest level of rainfall in Thailand (3,500mm per year), due to the high mountains and is influenced by both the Northeast (Pacific Ocean) and Southwest (Indian Ocean) monsoons. The heaviest rains are between May and November, with the driest period between December and April.

What to do in Khao Sok National Park

While visiting Khao Sok to marvel the its beauty may seem like enough, make sure you take part in an activity or two on offer at this national park. From trekking in the jungle to taking a boat ride across the lake, there are many options that will cater to all travellers’ wants and needs.

Jungle trekking

Khao Sok National Park: Take a walk through nature at Khao Sok National Park. Photo by blogspot.com

Take a walk through nature at Khao Sok National Park. Photo by blogspot.com

One of the most popular activities is experiencing the tropical rain forest on foot with a local guide. Khao Sok National Park and the surrounding parks offer different trekking possibilities for people of all ages and abilities. Treks leave from various places throughout the area and along the length of the parks, including but not restricted to the National Park Headquarters.

When booking a tour, a TAT licensed tour guide is usually included in the price of that tour. If traveling on your own to Khao Sok you can also hire a local guide from national park headquarters. Follow the National Park rules, take enough water with you, remember to bring all trash back to park headquarters, stay on the marked path, don’t touch anything you aren’t certain is safe, and you will be sure to have a great time.

Canoeing, tubing and bamboo rafting

Khao Sok National Park: Explore the lake in a kayak. Photo by thairland-adventure.com

Explore the lake in a kayak. Photo by thairland-adventure.com

Sok River is a perfect place for a relaxing canoe ride down the slowly moving stream. Especially if you have a paddler to do all the hard work for you, giving you more time to take in the scenery. Paddlers are also experts in spotting wildlife along the river, so you’re more likely to spot the native wild animals.

Most commonly seen animals while canoeing include birds, such as kingfishers and herons, snakes, frogs and wild monkeys if you’re lucky. Besides the animals, you can see the limestone cliffs covered with dense jungle, as well as watch the locals fish, do their laundry, and take their daily household water from the river. If you want to paddle your own canoe, the best place to do so is Cheow Larn Lake.

Boat tours to Cheow Larn Lake

Khao Sok National Park: Cheow Larn Lake, Khao Sok National Park, Thailand. Photo by blogspot.com

Cheow Larn Lake, Khao Sok National Park, Thailand. Photo by kosamui.com

Cheow Lam Lake is one of the most fascinating places in Khao Sok with its majestic limestone mountains rising hundreds of meters above the turquoise waters. It is possible to visit the lake for one day to marvel its beauty or stay overnight in one of the many floating bungalows in the heart of the Khao Sok National Park. Staying overnight means you can visit stalactite caves full of bats, trek in the national park and look for animals in the early morning light or late in the evening, not to mention waking up in the morning to the sounds of the rain-forest and calls of endangered Lar Gibbons.

For more information about tours and activities in Khao Sok National Park contact your local guesthouse, national park HQ, or visit www.khaosok.com.

Where to stay

Jungle House Nature Resort

Khao Sok National Park: Take a jungle safari through Khao Sok National Park, Thailand. Photo by awesomevillas.com

Take a jungle safari through Khao Sok National Park, Thailand. Photo by awesomevillas.com

Situated on 25 acres of privately owned rainforest in Khao Sok National Park, Jungle House Nature Resort is both a nature lover’s paradise and a giant playground where you can trek in the rainforest, ride an elephant, go on a night safari, and even dive to sunken temples at the bottom of a lake.

The Khao Sok treehouses, bungalows, and cottages offer a nice selection of scenery and experiences. Starting from $30 USD per night for bungalows or $100 USD per night for deluxe treehouses, visit www.khaosokaccommodation.com to find out more.

Khao Sok Rainforest Resort

Khao Sok National Park: Stay in riverside bungalows at Khao Sok Rainforest Resort. Photo by goista.com

Stay in riverside bungalows at Khao Sok Rainforest Resort. Photo by goista.com

Located within the national park along the Klong Sok River, Khao Sok Rainforest Resort offers riverside bungalows, mountainside bungalows, and tree houses starting from $55 USD. While staying here listen to the gibbons calling from the treetops, see wild elephants roaming over mountainsides, check out the native trees and plants and canoe on the lake. Visit www.khaosokrainforest.com  for more information.

Where to eat

If you’re looking for authentic Thai food visit Khao Sok River Lodge restaurant. This restaurant is in Khao Sok River Lodge and it’s easy to find along the main road heading toward national park. Thai Herb Restaurant is an affordable family run restaurant also in the area. The menu offers a large variety of fresh and perfectly cooked food, including Westernized versions of popular Thai food which are typically less spicy.

Khao Sok Paradise Restaurant located at 119/1 moo 6, T. Kong Sok is a Thay and Mediterranean restaurant. All menu items are made from fresh, mainly organic ingredients or products. It is the only restaurant in town offering authentic Thai and Western food. Be sure to try their Tiramisu.

Where to drink

If you’re after a few alcoholic beverages there’s one main road in Khao Sok where all of the guesthouses and bars are located. They all serve cocktails and drinks at similar prices, so just pick the one that has the atmosphere that takes your fancy.

Chill Out Bar is located across the street from Smiley’s Bungalows, and the name says it all as this bar plays chilled beats and serves up some great cocktails. Another place to try is Rasta Bar, located at 259 Moo 6, which plays Reggae music to match its Rastafarian-style interior.

Best beach towns in Italy: 2 - Praiano. Photo by Brian Jannsen, flickr

10 of the best beach towns in Italy

It’s an incredible feeling when you see landscapes fit for an oil painting; little coastal towns which would otherwise only be seen in a Bob Ross gallery. Along the best beach towns in Italy you’ll see cliff faces scattered with small houses looking over the sea. Take a boat ride, make friends with locals and taste the food. After all, it’s about creating oil painting memories on an infinite canvas.

The best beach towns in Italy: Amalfi

Best beach towns in Italy: Amalfi coast. Photo by italianowithjodina.com

Amalfi coast. Photo by italianowithjodina.com

Up first on the list is Amalfi, and for good reason. The coastal town of Amalfi looks like an oil painting. The houses lean upon cliff-sides and gaze upon the harbour, and the town has a fine balance between old buildings, green hills, and the sea. Hire a small motorboat in Amalfi harbour for an affordable way to explore the coast.

Amalfi is a town in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery. It is the main town of the coast on which it is located, named Costiera Amalfitana, and is a popular tourist destination together with other towns on the same coast, such as Positano, Ravello and others.

Praiano

Best beach towns in Italy: 2 - Praiano. Photo by Brian Jannsen, flickr

Praiano. Photo by Brian Jannsen, flickr

Praiano is another must-see beachside town. It boasts beautiful beaches like Marina di Praia and Gavitella, ancient churches, towers, and sacred sculptures. It is situated on the Amalfi Coast, a prime tourist location for the region and Italy alike, between the towns of Amalfi and Positano.

One popular attraction is the Church of San Luca Evangelista, dating back to the 12th century. On the inside, there are paintings by Renaissance painter Giovanni Bernardo Lama that are over 400 years old. Another attraction is the Church of San Giovanni Battista, featuring a well-preserved majolica tiled floor, dating back to the 12th-13th centuries.

MORE: DINING ON THE EDGE OF A CLIFF AT THE GROTTO PALAZZESE

Positano

Best beach towns in Italy: Positano. Photo by Scott Rae, flickr

Positano. Photo by Scott Rae, flickr

Nestled on the Amalfi Coast, the popular fishing village of Positano is famous for its picturesque harbor, elegant, Moorish-style architecture, and for being frequently visited by celebrities such as Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise, and Mick Jagger.

Positano has an impressive beach and is great for boutique shopping. The village is a smart base for exploring the area, as popular attractions such as Capri, Ischia, and the Grotta dello Smeraldo cave are a short boat ride away.

Cefalu

Best beach towns in Italy: Cefalu. Photo by Emmepi Travel

Cefalu. Photo by Emmepi Travel

Wedged between mountains and coastline, the idyllic town of Cefalu is small but popular for its sandy beaches, Sicilian restaurants, and vibrant nightlife scene. In summer the population of Cefalu can triple, making the main streets and major roads in the country crowded, but give it a youthful atmosphere and an impressively lively night life.

Cefalu is in the Province of Palermo, located on the northern coast of Sicily, on the Tyrrhenian Sea. The town, with its population of just under 14,000, is one of the major tourist attractions in the region. Despite its size, every year it attracts millions of tourists from all over Italy and Europe.

Manarola

Best beach towns in Italy: Manarola. Photo by Mark Sunderland, news.com

Manarola. Photo by Mark Sunderland, news.com

Manarola is one of the oldest towns in the Cinque Terre. It’s known primarily for its fishing, wine-making, and excellent hiking in the hills and vineyards above the town. In recent years, Manarola and its neighboring towns have become popular tourist destinations, particularly in the summer months.

Tourist attractions in the region include a famous walking trail between Manarola and Riomaggiore (called Via dell’Amore, “Love’s Trail”) and hiking trails in the hills and vineyards. The local wine, called Sciacchetrà, is especially renowned, with references from Roman writings mentioning the high quality of the wine produced in the region.

Polignano a Mare

Best beach towns in Italy: Polignano A Mare. Photo by Robert Bush, flickr

Polignano A Mare. Photo by Robert Bush, flickr

The town of Polignano a Mare rises out of a cliff face on the Adriatic Sea. In addition to breathtaking views over the Adriatic, the tiny town also boasts charming, white-washed streets, old churches, and a beach with warm turquoise waters, which is flanked on either side by cliffs.

Polignano a Mare is a town and commune in the province of Bari, Apulia, southern Italy, located on the Adriatic Sea. The local economy is mostly dependent upon tourism, agriculture, and fishing.

Portofino

Best beach towns in Italy: Portofino. Photo by Charles Bowman, news.com

Portofino. Photo by Charles Bowman, news.com

Portofino, Italy, is known as the resort of the rich and famous, but there is much more to see here than just people. Portofino is a picturesque, half-moon shaped seaside village with pastel houses lining the shore of the harbor, shops, restaurants, cafes, and luxury hotels.

The coastal town of Portofino is arguably one of the most beautiful European ports to sail into. It also is home to well-known hotels such as Hotel Splendido and the Grand Hotel Miramare, great shopping, and of course, a radiant coastline. Portofino sits on a peninsula in the Tigullio Golf east of Genoa in the northern Italian region of Liguria, and is part of the Italian Riviera.

Camogli

Best beach towns in Italy: Camogli. Photo by Getty Images

Camogli. Photo by Getty Images

Camogli is a lively fishing village nestled on the Italian Riviera with pastel houses and a pebbly beach. It has a small harbor lined with shops and restaurants, a carousel near the water, and a big square where children can play and adults can sip fine Italian coffee and people-watch.

Camogli is a short boat trip from the more famous and touristy Portofino, and visitors to Portofino should definitely check out this little gem. In the evening visitors can stroll down past the well-known pastel-painted houses to the numerous harbor side bars. Watch the sun set behind the village lighthouse before sampling the delicious local pasta – yum.

Viareggio

Best beach towns in Italy: Viareggio. Photo by Matt Mason, blogspot.com

Viareggio. Photo by Matt Mason, blogspot.com

Viareggio is a city in northern Tuscany, Italy, on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. With a population of over 64,000, it’s the second largest city within the province of Lucca, after Lucca city. The beach consists of about 10km of golden sand lined with beachside bars and restaurants. The short walk from the train station to the beach takes explorers past a variety of shops, restaurants, and notable architecture.

Peschici

Best beach towns in Italy: Peschici. Photo by Giulia Cimasasti, flickr

Peschici. Photo by Giulia Cimasasti, flickr

Peschici is a small beach town in the province of Foggia in the Apulia region of southeast Italy. The town itself sits over a karst spur facing the sea, with a height of more than 100m. The territory features a number of coastal watch towers, plenty of sandy beaches, water activities, shopping, and restaurants.

Best surfing in South Africa: Tackling the massive waves of Cave Rock in Durban. Photo via takunikblogspot

Where to find the best surfing in South Africa

The greatest part about surfing around the Cape of South Africa is deciding which shoreline to choose from. There’s so many places that appeal to surfers of every level: the learners, the pros and the ones who just prefer to float on a board in the great unknown. Find out where to find the best surfing in South Africa.

Where to find the best surfing in South Africa: Jeffreys Bay

Best surfing in South Africa: A surfer competes in the Billabong championship at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. Photo by gaftels, flickr

A surfer competes in the Billabong championship at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. Photo by gaftels, flickr

Known to local surfers as “J Bay”, Jeffreys Bay is world famous for its massive waves and has some of the nicest water to be in around the Eastern Cape – hit up Blue Flag Beach. At J Bay, you’ll find a number of waves to hit – small and large, easy cut swells and barrels.

Today, Jeffreys Bay is ranked as the second best place to surf in the world and is host to the annual Billabong Pro ASP World Tour surfing event. Surfing spots in Jeffreys Bay include Kitchen Window, Albatross, Point, Super Tubes and Tubes; keep in mind there are a few places you can’t surf!

For learners, there’s a great number of surf schools for you to pick from. Jeffreys Bay is a location literally dedicated to the waves, so there’s loads of locals who know the waves better than the backs of their hands and are willing to give you some pointers on how to conquer them.

How to get there: There’s many ways you can travel to Jeffreys Bay. The nearest domestic airport is Port Elizabeth, so if you’re travelling from there you can organise a BazBus travelling from Cape Town/Port Elizabeth. You can also grab an airport shuttle on the St Francis Bay Airport Shuttle which runs between Port Elizabeth Airport, Jeffreys Bay and St Francis Bay.

Dungeons, Hout Bay

Best surfing in South Africa: Hitchin' a ride at the massive waves of Dungeons. Photo via blogspot

Hitchin’ a ride at the massive waves of Dungeons. Photo via blogspot

At Dungeons, surfers go hard or go home. When conditions are right – and they almost always are – waves can reach up to 21 metres high, so it’s safe to say that this is a pretty epic surfing spots for experienced surfers.

Dungeons is host to the annual Red Bull Big Wave Africa Surfing Competition, and for all the right reasons. It’s recommended that the big guns attempt to ride the waves here, so pack or rent accordingly. It’s advised that larger surfboards be used – 10 footers, and that wetsuits be worn as the water does get relatively cold and waves will in most cases, give you a dunk or two.

There are a few places at Dungeons you can surf at, each with different difficulty. The first main section is the slab, a flatter surf spot that builds into a great barrel. The next section rolls from the barrel to the two-point-five section which refers to the depth of the water between the surfer and the bottom. The last section is the largest, and arguably what makes Dungeons popular – known as Washburn’s Peak, the area where the big waves roll in. The waves are infrequent but are big, so the wait is worth it.

How to get there: The closest airport is Cape Town, and from there you can rent a car and drive to Hout Bay, which is only about a 25 minute drive. From there you can drive to Dungeons surf beach. It’s a good idea to stay in this quaint little city for its fresh seafood and choice between classic B&B and luxury hotels.

MORE: 7 OF THE BEST SURF PLACES AROUND THE WORLD

Victoria Bay

Best surfing in South Africa: A surfer waits for the perfect break at Victoria Bay. Photo by webmarcos, flickr

A surfer waits for the perfect break at Victoria Bay. Photo by webmarcos, flickr

A narrow, steep bay with great consistent wave breaks to offer surf for all kinds of wave riders. Victoria Bay is also a fairly popular holiday destination during the warmer months of the year, despite being dominated by predominately proud local surfers.

The waves of Vic Bay are world class, and the beach has known to hold contests and competitions on both a local and international scale.

The best part about Vic Bay is that it’s a long beach. On most days it is fairly crowded, so the perk of having a long beach is that there’s enough surf for you to catch a break. At the bottom of the water are boulders though, so be careful when getting dunked. There are also a few surf schools around the bay that can give you pointers on where to surf and give you a few lessons if needed.

How to get there: You can fly from an international airport (Cape Town, Port Elizabeth) to the domestic George Airport, and from there catch a shuttle bus or cab into the city. They run fairly frequently, and the airport is only 11km out of the city, so the fare isn’t too pricey.

Muizenberg

Best surfing in South Africa: Surfboards in waiting at Muizenberg. Photo by t.bo79, flickr

Surfboards in waiting at Muizenberg. Photo by t.bo79, flickr

Considered to be the birth place of surfing in South Africa, Muizenberg is home to killer waves that stretch over a beach length of 20km. It’s said that Muizenberg is paradise for those who prefer long board.

If you’re planning on having a surf at Muizenberg, it’s best to get there early as both the water and the beaches fill up quick which both tourists and locals alike. There’s all kinds of waves to jump onto, particularly because the beach expands over such a massive distance and weather permits all kinds of activity.

There’s heaps of room in Muizenberg for learners – in fact it’s probably one of the better surfing destinations for learners due to the amount of surf schools that are there offering different rates. Each school offers rental of boards and wetsuits so you always get your money worth; it’s all about just finding an instructor you prefer, really.

How to get there: From Cape Town airport, hire a car and drive on the M3 towards Simon’s Town. Muizenberg is located just north of Simon’s Town. Otherwise you can catch a metro train from Cape Town directly to Muizenberg, which takes roughly 45 minutes.

Cave Rock

Best surfing in South Africa: Tackling the massive waves of Cave Rock in Durban. Photo via takunikblogspot

Tackling the massive waves of Cave Rock in Durban. Photo via takunikblogspot

Cave Rock is a place dedicated to epic waves for experienced wave riders. It’s a fairly aggressive surfing location, and is very rarely a full beach location due to its competitive swells.

Swell size normally range from 5 foot to about 15 feet and over, but it’s not necessarily the height that makes these waves a challenge. The large swell picks up and can be very strong, offering extreme barrels smashing over a reef-rock bottom.
You can choose to surf or be spectator at Cave Rock – try your best at the aggressive barrel and the reefy bottom and you can either show the local surf extremists how it’s done, or sit it out and watch them take on some of the gnarliest waves in South Africa.

How to get there: The closest domestic airport is Virginia Airport. From there, it’s best to hire a car and drive south-west via the M4 and R102. The trip should take just over half an hour.

For surf updates and reports, use Magic Seaweed. They offer great weather and surf reports that are constantly fresh. These reports can definitely help you in your travels when organising where to go next.

The outdoor cave restaurant as seen from the hotel. Photo by camerapingu, flickr

Dining on the edge of a cliff at the Grotta Palazzese

Carved into a crevice of limestone rock face facing the Adriatic Sea lives the Grotta Palazzese Hotel and Restaurant. Over millions of years, the sea has carved out caves that twist beneath the streets of Polignano. This place is sure to ‘wow’ you with its charm, and stunning ocean views. If you’re in Puglia then this place is a must visit  if you’re travelling to Polignano a Mare.

The dining area in the cave at the Grotta Palazzese. Photo by Giovanni Barnaba, flickr

The dining area in the cave at the Grotta Palazzese. Photo by Giovanni Barnaba, flickr

Most notable for its amazing location, the Grotta Palazzese attempts at offering guests only the very best in quaint, romantic and secluded getaways. In the summer time, you can dine in the cave restaurant, with its wonderful views out over the sea – make sure not to miss the sunset whilst dining here. The seating is nestled into a cave, keeping guests cool from the warm Italian summer. Keep in mind that this restaurant is only operating from May through to October, so if you are travelling to the Grotta Palazzese particularly for the restaurant, make sure to travel during that time frame.

It is said that the cave restaurant has quite a history; apparently the site existed back in the 1700′s and functioned as a place to dine for banquets of local nobility.

In winter the Sea Lounge operates as a restaurant. It also offers views, but is not as stunning as the cave as you will most likely be seated indoors and sunset is earlier in the afternoon.

The Sea Lounge restaurant. Photo from grottapalazzese.it

The Sea Lounge restaurant. Photo from grottapalazzese.it

The Grotta Palazzese offers functions and conference bookings, both of which can be organised indoors or outdoors. The setting is quite romantic, particularly outdoors by the cave where candles are lit and the ocean offers calming noise and a breeze, so keep that in mind when organising events – it’s the perfect location for an engagement!

A double room with a balcony. Photo from www.ricevimentipuglia.it

A double room with a balcony. Photo from www.ricevimentipuglia.it

The hotel itself is quite reasonable priced. You can stay in a single use double room from $105 USD a night, including breakfast. Other rooms offer views, or are larger and range in price from roughly $112 to $230 depending on your needs and wants. Most rooms have views, but keep in mind you will pay more for a view and even more for a balcony.

MORE: 4 PLACES IN EUROPE TO SPICE UP YOUR LOVE LIFE

What to expect at the Grotta Palazzese

The outdoor cave restaurant as seen from the hotel. Photo by camerapingu, flickr

The outdoor cave restaurant as seen from the hotel. Photo by camerapingu, flickr

Puglia has great weather almost all year around so there isn’t really an off period when it comes to travelling to the area. However, when you’re visiting the Grotta Palazzese you have to make sure that you aren’t disappointed when it comes to dining options as the restaurant is the main feature.

If you wish to dine in the cave outdoor restaurant, then you must visit between May and October which is summer as it is the only time the restaurant functions. In the other months you will be given the option to dine in the indoor Sea Lounge restaurant.

Aside from the view, the food is spectacular

The cave at night in its best romantic setting. Photo by VanQuocMinhDang, flickr

The cave at night in its best romantic setting. Photo by VanQuocMinhDang, flickr

Think traditional Italian cuisine – the Grotta Palazzese is renowned for its rich history and culture so it’s only natural that they serve the very best of what is Italian.

It is common for lobster, shellfish, fresh fish and pasta dishes to be served as they are local delicacies.

What to do in Polignano a Mare

The hotel is set into the cliff face coastal line. Photo by gippi52, flickr

The hotel is set into the cliff face coastal line. Photo by gippi52, flickr

Grotta Palazzese is located just to the left of a bay beside an amazing beach that tourists and locals commonly use to soak up the sun. On the beach front, there are bars, restaurants and cafés.

Visit the Coco Beach Club for a fantastic day spent beach-side, or maybe spend some of your time at the Museo Pascali – an art gallery and museum in the city centre.

A popular attraction in Polignano a Mare are boat tours, both guided and self-guided, which are a great way to see the cliffs and he spectacular deep blue water off the beaches of Coastal Italy. Dorino boat tours are popular guided tours which take tourists out to the ocean for swimming, diving and sightseeing.

Maitara Island. Photo by Yadi Yasin

4 lesser known places to visit in Indonesia

Indonesia is one of the most popular tourist destinations as of late, particularly well-known for its cheap prices that attract tourists from all parts of the globe. There are so many places to visit in Indonesia – and so many reasons too. The beaches are stunning, the water is clear and there are thousands of islands to visit on your travels to Indonesia, making it a top destination for backpackers who enjoy budget travel and conventional tourists alike.

Places to visit in Indonesia

Geographically, the islands of Indonesia are spread out between the mainland of Asia and Australia, taking up approximately 5000km between the two continents. There are over 17000 islands making up the country of Indonesia, although only just over 6000 are inhabited, leaving the lands with plenty of unique and untouched landscape.

Most tourists to Indonesia stay in the hub of hotspots: Bali, Jakarta or Komodo Island; but Indonesia has so much more to offer. Here are some great examples of places to go in Indonesia to avoid the tourist influx and show you the great unknown.

Lake Kelimutu, Flores

Places to visit in Indonesia: Different coloured lakes of Kelimutu. Photo by 1ieve, flickr

Different coloured lakes of Kelimutu. Photo by 1ieve, flickr

How to get there: You have to fly domestic into Flores and then make your way usually by motorbike to Moni. From Moni you can arrange transport to Kelimutu Lakes.

Lake Kelimutu is a great place to visit on a day trip, especially as it is not hard to get to. What makes the lakes unique is that they’re each different colours and over time they change colour. Currently, there is a turquoise lake, a red/brown one and a green lake. The lakes change colour due to the minerals in the rocks surrounding each of them. It is said that the view from the lakes is spectacular at sunset too, so make the most out of your day trip and stay for the view.

Flores is great for accommodation and restaurants for everything authentically Indonesian but still has a tourist spin. If you decide to stay on the island for some time, make sure to hike to the Cunca Wulang waterfall; it’s a great swimming spot and the water is a stunning shade of turquoise.

MORE: 10 POPULAR ISLANDS TO VISIT IN SOUTH EAST ASIA

Ternate, North Maluku

Places to visit in Indonesia: View of Maitara Island from Ternate, North Maluku. Photo by Mahdy Muchammad, Panoramio

View of Maitara Island from Ternate, North Maluku. Photo by Mahdy Muchammad, Panoramio

How to get there: Direct flight from Jakarta to the local airport. If you want to travel to surrounding islands, you can do so by boat.

Originally known as the “Spice Islands” due to its richness in nutmeg and cloves, Ternate remains almost entirely untouched by the hand of tourism. Today, Ternate is a great place for isolated beaches and hiking tracks and is rich in culture.

Throughout history, the site of Ternate was taken over by settlers from Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and England easily done because there was so often neighbouring disputes and wars because of spice trade.

When in Ternate, visit the Batu Angus Beach – it’s formed entirely by volcanic rock and has great views of the surrounding islands. There are a number of both local and foreign abandoned forts around the island which make for good views as well.

Waikabubak, Sumba

Horse festivals, Waikabubak. Photo via sumbarentcar.com

Horse festivals, Waikabubak. Photo via sumbarentcar.com

How to get there: You can catch a flight from Merpati into Waikabubak or Waingapu. Keep in mind though that these smaller airports don’t run through online vendors so you will have to book tickets at an agency or over the counter at the airport.

An area of thick greenery; forests and meadows alike, Waikabubak is everything cultural Indonesia has to offer. There are annual festivals and daily markets for those interested in spices and small goods, particularly rice.

The most notable sight in Waikabubak are the megalithic graves which are on a hilltop, located just west of the main street in Kampung Tarung. The graves are regarded as some of the most sacred spiritual areas on the island, and perhaps in all of Indonesia. The view from the top of the hill is said to be breathtaking, and from there you can see the villages and surrounds which are predominantly rice paddies.

In March, there is the Pasola horse festival, where riders will paint their faces, decorate their horses and then throw wooden spears at one another. The aim of the festival is to draw blood “back to the earth” – other rituals during this event include boxing and a competition to predict the amount of sea worms to be washed up on the beach during the festival period. The festival is a reflection of religious beliefs that are also evident at the tombs.

Rinca Island, East Nusa Tenggara

Places to visit in Indonesia: Pink Beach on Komodo Island. Photo by your local connection, flickr

Pink Beach on Komodo Island. Photo by your local connection, flickr

How to get there: You can travel there by boat from Bima, Sumbawa or from Labuan, Bajo.

A small island off of the western tip of Flores, it more often than not gets overlooked by larger Komodo Island. However, Rinca is actually your best bet for seeing Komodo dragons up close and personal in the wild – and with much less influence from tourism.

Overall, the island is almost entirely underdeveloped. The land is particularly perfect for komodo dragons, as it is hot and mostly dry. Because of its great environment, Rinca has been listed as part of the Komodo National Park and therefore has been given a listing as a UNESCO World Heritage place.

The only way to see Rinca is with a guide. Please, don’t try to hike the area by yourself. It is very hot and Komodo dragons can be dangerous, along with all of the other wildlife in the area. At the dock where you arrive, guides will meet you and it is here that they can show you around – and don’t try to approach the dragons.

The Menara Gardens, Marrakech. Photo by darijadictionary.com

10 things to do in Marrakesh

Marrakesh is a major city in Morocco bordered by modern neighbourhoods. Today it is one of the busiest cities in Africa and serves as a major economic centre and tourist destination. If being submerged in a vibrant, busy culture is high on your list, make sure you check out this city. Here is a list of ten things to do while staying in Marrakesh. Hope this will get you started.

Things to do while staying in Marrakesh: Circle the Koutoubia Mosque

Things to do while staying in Marrakesh: Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech, Morocco. Photo by bestourism.com

Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech, Morocco. Photo by bestourism.com

Koutoubia Mosque is the largest mosque in the city, located in the south-west medina quarter of Marrakesh alongside the square. The mosque is made of red stone and brick, and measures 80 metres long and 60 metres wide.

The minaret of the Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakesh’s most famous symbol, was built in a traditional Almohad style and topped with four copper globes. As it is still an active place of worship so non-Muslims may not enter, but it’s possible to get a good view of the exterior by walking around either side.

Work on your bartering skills at the souks

Things to do while staying in Marrakesh: Colourful slippers for sale at the Marrakesh souks. Photo by wikimedia.org

Colourful slippers for sale at the Marrakesh souks. Photo by wikimedia.org

Marrakesh has the largest traditional Berber market in Morocco and the image of the city is closely associated with its souks. Prepare to spend hours fossicking through the souks and bartering for treasures, as the maze of stalls is seemingly endless. The further you venture in, the more interesting they become.

Historically the souks of Marrakesh were divided into retail areas for particular goods such as leather, carpets, metalwork and pottery. These divisions still roughly exist but they tend to overlap. Many of the souks sell items like carpets and rugs, traditional Muslim attire, leather bags, and lanterns. Haggling is still a very important part of trade in the souks.

One of the largest souks is Souk Semmarine, which sells brightly coloured sandals and slippers, leather pouffes, and jewellery. There are many other souks which contain stalls which sell everything from food to alligator and iguana skins.

Learn about Moorish history

Things to do while staying in Marrakesh: Koubba El Badiyin. Photo by toimg.net

Koubba El Badiyin. Photo by toimg.net

The Almoravid Koubba is a small Almoravid building in Marrakesh, Morocco, dating back to the 12th century. Set in its own fenced enclosure and sunk several metres below the street level, it is the only surviving structure from the era of the Almoravids – the founders of Marrakesh – and it represents a wormhole back to the origins of Moorish building history.

The Almoravid Koubba is next to the Museum of Marrakesh, about 40 meters south of the mosque of Ben Youssef. It was built in 1117, was restructured in the sixteenth and nineteenth century, was rediscovered in 1948, and excavated in 1952, after having been buried beneath one of the outbuildings of the Ben Youssef Mosque.

It’s worth paying the small admission fee to descend the brickwork steps and view the underside of the dome, which is a kaleidoscopic arrangement that is a must-see up close.

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Visit the ancient Saadian Tombs

Things to do while staying in Marrakesh: Inside the Saadian Tombs. Photo by tapastotajine.com

Inside the Saadian Tombs. Photo by tapastotajine.com

The Saadian Tombs were built in the 16th century as a mausoleum to bury numerous Saadian rulers and entertainers. It was lost for many years until the French rediscovered it in 1917 using aerial photographs.

It is located next to the south wall of the Almohad mosque of the Kasba, in a cemetery that contains several graves of Mohammad’s descendants. The building is composed of three rooms. The best known has a roof supported by twelve columns and encloses the tomb of al-Mansur’s son.

Dotted around the shrubbery are early mosaic graves. The identity of those interred is long lost, but the attention instead focuses on the three pavilions built during the reign of Saadian sultan Ahmed El-Mansour. Explore the historic tombs to get a true Marrakesh experience.

Explore Morocco through the Dar Si Said Museum

Things to do while staying in Marrakesh: See the beauty of Dar Si Said Museum up close. Photo by staticflickr.com

See the beauty of Dar Si Said Museum up close. Photo by staticflickr.com

The Dar Si Said Museum, located at Rue de la Bahla, Marrakesh, houses a large collection of crafts and woodwork. Among all the kitchen implements, weapons and musical instruments are beautiful examples of carved cedar which were rescued from the city’s lost dwellings.

Here you’ll find a solid exhibition of historic and some contemporary Moroccan art. The building itself is full of intricate Byzantine designs and colors. A remarkable collection of door and window frames is to be found around the courtyard, all encrusted with the most delicate and refined ornamentation. And in the streets outside you will soon understand that the town and its inhabitants know how to keep the traditions of their culture alive.

See a Sultan’s palace

Things to do while staying in Marrakesh: The ruin of El Badii Palace. Photo by darjenna-marrakech.com

The ruin of El Badii Palace. Photo by darjenna-marrakech.com

El Badi Palace is located in Marrakesh and these days it consists of the remnants of a palace commissioned by the Saadian Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur in 1578. Today it survives as a ruin, but once it was a model of triumphal ostentation.

The original building is thought to have consisted of 360 rooms, a large courtyard and pool, richly decorated with Italian marble and hefty amounts of gold imported from Sudan. It also has a small, underground, tunnel-like jail with four cells where the king kept his prisoners.

The palace, which took approximately 25 years to construct, was torn apart in the seventeenth century by the Alaouite Sultan Moulay Ismail, who used the material obtained from El Badi Palace to decorate his own palace in Meknes.

Visit the gardens

Things to do while staying in Marrakesh: The Menara Gardens, Marrakech. Photo by darijadictionary.com

The Menara Gardens, Marrakech. Photo by darijadictionary.com

The Menara gardens are located at Aïn Mezouar, Marrakesh, to the west of the city, at the gates of the Atlas mountains. They were built around 1130 by the Almohad ruler Abd al-Mu’min.

The name menara derives from the pavilion with its small green pyramid roof. The pavilion was renovated in 1869 by sultan Abderrahmane of Morocco, who used to stay here in summertime. The pavilion and a nearby artificial lake are surrounded by orchards and olive groves.

The lake was created to irrigate the surrounding gardens and orchards using a smart system of underground channels called a qanat. There is also a small amphitheatre and a symmetrical pool where films are screened. Carp fish can be seen in the pond and it is the perfect place to spend a few hours soaking up the sun and scenery.

Have a belly dance

Things to do while staying in Marrakesh: Have a belly dance at Comptoir. Photo by travel-exploration.com

Have a belly dance at Comptoir. Photo by travel-exploration.com

The crowd is a mix of locals and wide-eyed tourists delighted to have stumbled on the Marrakesh they’d always heard about. Drinks can be pricey here but the nightly belly dancers are a must-see.Located at Avenue Echouhada is the Comptoir Bar and Restaurant – famous for its belly dancers. From the outside it’s a well-behaved little villa on a quiet residential street, but inside the place buzzes with dressed-up diners on the ground floor and upstairs you’ll find a sizeable lounge filled to the brim with people every night at the weekend.

Taste the O.J.

Things to do while staying in Marrakesh: Try freshly squeezed orange juice from one of the many stalls. Photo by budgettraveltalk.com

Try freshly squeezed orange juice from one of the many stalls. Photo by budgettraveltalk.com

Orange trees are plentiful in Marrakesh’s tangled alleys and exotic courtyards. Moroccan oranges are famous for their juiciness and tingling taste so it doesn’t come as any surprise that Djemaa-El-Fnaa, Marrakesh’s central square, is choc-a-block with vendors selling orange juice.

A glass costs 5-10 Moroccan dirhams which is approximately $1 USD. A number of juice sellers also sell the juice of deeply pigmented blood oranges, but charge a premium price for it. Tantalize your taste buds and make sure you try the refreshing orange juice while there.

Enjoy the street eats

Things to do while staying in Marrakesh: Marrakesh is home to some of the best street eats. Photo by foodtravelbliss.com

Marrakesh is home to some of the best street eats. Photo by foodtravelbliss.com

Marrakesh has some of the most versatile and delicious street foods on offer. Every evening there is a feast in Djemaa el Fna square where people join a queue to be served the latest Moroccan street food from grills and steaming cauldrons.

Try M’semmen, similar to a savoury roti or pancake these are cooked on a hot plate in generous amounts of oil and eaten plain or with butter, sugar, jam or honey for breakfast. In the evening they are often served up alongside soup. Experiment with your fillings and enjoy this delicious Moroccan dish. If you’re game enough, grab a bowl of snails. Eat them while they’re piping hot and don’t focus too much on the slimy creature that flops about as you pull it from its shell!

Street players in the bright and cultural city of Oaxaca. Photo by Xavier Donat, flickr

5 must see places to visit in Mexico

There are so many wonderful places to visit in Mexico. Rich in culture and history, Mexico is a travel destination for the bold, brave and the daring. It’s quite unlike any other place; street parties by the dozen, tequila bars in the street and bull fighting in Mexico City are of the norm. Mexico was once considered a dangerous place to travel, and was originally listed on Smart Traveller websites as a place of caution – but not anymore.

Places to visit in Mexico

It’s now a place of adventure, full of exciting things that are unique to Mexico only. In the period between January and July in 2011, Mexico saw an influx of over 11 million tourists visiting the many charms that this country has to offer.

To break down your much-needed trip to Mexico, here is a list of the five must-see places to visit in Mexico

Tulum

Places to visit in Mexico: The ancient beachside ruins in the city of Tulum. Photo by StGrundy, flickr

The ancient beachside ruins in the city of Tulum. Photo by StGrundy, flickr

Situated on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in the southern part of Mexico is Tulum, an ancient city dating back to 1200 AD. It was originally the major port for the Mayan city of Coba, when Mayan civilization was once at its peak. However, the city was designed and built on the verge of the decline in Mayan population, and so its charm rests entirely on natural attractions rather than elegant and ancient buildings. The coast line is stunning, with clear blue water and white sand beaches, all on steep and secluded cliff and rock faced coastline.

On your visit to Tulum, ensure to see the Tulum Ruins, which reside over unique and ancient coastline. The structures are ones to marvel at – of late post classic design, they aren’t as big and grandiose as some other ruins but the view from them makes them all the more special.

You can stay in a hostel from around $US10 per night in shared or private dorms – depending on the accommodation offered, or on the other hand you can spend your evening relaxing in 4.5 star luxury at the Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa for roughly $370 a night.

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Guanajuato

Places to visit in Mexico: Guanajuato's colourful buildings. Photo by CIEE

Guanajuato’s colourful buildings. Photo by CIEE

A beautiful colonial city, built into the mountains of the Sierra e Guanajuato. The city was founded in 1554 and was once one of the richest silver mining areas in Mexico. Since then, the city has seen a boom in the construction of unique and colourful buildings and winding city streets. This is a city perfect for pedestrians and street markets, with most of the roads being built in underground tunnels, there’s very limited traffic above ground and that’s what makes Guanajuato so unique.

Explore the alleyways and streets of the city and try the food that the hidden restaurants have to offer. Guanajuato has some of the most exceptional examples of colonial Baroque architecture, so make sure to get some photos. Visit “the church that silver built” – the Templo de San Cayetano in the village of Valenciana.

Hostels in Guanajuato start from roughly $12 USD and range in price, anywhere between $20 and $25 per night, depending on whether you prefer shared or private accommodation and the availability of rooms in peak periods. The Hogar de Camelita Guesthouse has one of the best ratings and offers private rooms for only $22 per night. The Villa Maria Cristina is considered a luxury boutique hotel, offering guests fine dining, wine and a rooftop spa. Accommodation ranges between $220 and $380 per night.

Cabo San Lucas

Places to visit in Mexico: Beautiful Cabo San Lucas. Photo by Wikipedia

Beautiful Cabo San Lucas. Photo by Wikipedia

The area that’s the best of both worlds, Cabo San Lucas is a haven for partygoers and chilled travellers alike. The area is known for offering great parties, tequila and all night dancing – but there’s so much more than just that. Located at the southern top of the Baja California peninsula, this party town is exactly where you want to be if you enjoy margaritas, conga lines and lying on the beach.

Make sure to visit the beaches of Cabo, including Playa Medano where the water is crystal blue and warm. Visit Land’s End – the most impressive attraction in Cabo – to see pelicans and sea lions and to marvel at the uniquely eroded natural arch, El Arco. To add to all of that excitement, there’s also an endless list of activities you can immerse yourself in, including jet skiing, banana boating, swimming, snorkelling, fishing, parasailing, kite ailing, diving and horse back riding. You won’t ever be bored in Cabo San Lucas.

Hostels in Cabo range in price, starting at roughly $US13 and going anywhere up to $30. Keep in mind that prices will change in the warmer months as tourists flock to the area to get their party on. If you are more inclined to relaxing on private beaches, opt for the beautiful Sirena Del Mar resort – with stunning rooms, private beaches and pools and great outdoor dining.

Copper Canyon, Chihuahua

Places to visit in Mexico: The train from Chihuahua City to Copper Canyon. Photo by Ralph Velaso, ralphvelasco.com

The train from Chihuahua City to Copper Canyon. Photo by Ralph Velaso, ralphvelasco.com

Larger than its Arizonian counterpart, the Grand Canyon, Copper Canyon is an area of amazing green scenery, stunning waterfalls, hot springs, lakes, caves and a number of outstanding rock formations for travellers to explore. At the bottom of the Canyon lives a remote village of native Tarahumara people. To get to the canyon, organise the train trip on the El Chepe from Chihuahua City – the trip is six hours in total but you see some amazing scenery on the way.

When you’re there you should hike, mountain bike or go horseback riding all with local guides. The guides give great information on the history of the area and of the native people who still live there. You can also visit the Copper Canyon Adventure Park that’s home to a scenic gondola and seven zip lines with two suspension bridges – great for those over the top views.

The best option for accommodation is in Chihuahua City. The best option is the Best Western Cumbres Aeropuerto – a four star hotel, located close to the airport and offers city transfers so that you can catch the train to Copper Canyon. Rooms start from only $75 USD per night – and go up to roughly $95.

Oaxaca

Places to visit in Mexico: Street players in the bright and cultural city of Oaxaca. Photo by Xavier Donat, flickr

Street players in the bright and cultural city of Oaxaca. Photo by Xavier Donat, flickr

The capital city for the state of Oaxaca in the southern end of Mexico, this city is wonderfully cultural and bright. It’s a city best known for its indigenous people, culture, religion and festivals – each as colourful as the one before. Most travellers visit the area of Monte Alban, a large pre-Columbian archaeological site that was once a civic-ceremonial centre. The pyramid complex is stunning and the strength of the architecture is outstanding, a must-see for any traveller to Mexico.

The city was founded in 1529, and has since been listed as a World Heritage City. Make sure to visit the coastal city of Puerto Escondido on a day trip – it’s a small port and beach great for surfing. In the city centre of Oaxaca, visit the Ex Convento de Santo Domingo and the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca, both of which are beautiful buildings that will give you an insight into the culture, past and present of the indigenous people of Oaxaca. Move on to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, and then spend the rest of your time at one of the many street markets throughout the city.

The Pochote Market is an outdoor market great for organic goods and vegetables. Whereas the Mercado Benito Juarez is a market built under one roof – clothes, leather goods, fresh fruits, flowers and meats are on offer.

Hostels start at roughly $10 USD and go up to about $25 per night. However, staying in a hotel may be the better option – you can stay in the 4.5 star Hotel Victoria Oaxaca for only $90USD per night. What a bargain!

World traveller shows us how to take a selfie with gopro

World traveller captures epic selfies from 36 different countries

Three years ago Alex Chacon decided to travel the world and make the ultimate selfie video with his GoPro. In his Around the World in 360° Degrees – 3 Year Epic Selfie project, Alex spent 600 days travelling 36 countries and captured some of the most incredible places on earth. This world traveller shows us how to take a selfie with a GoPro

Chacon decided to invest in a Go-Pro and put it on a monopod to create 360-degree video rotations with himself as the centre piece. He did this in front of the most remote places on earth. The video shows a map at the end, which details his route.

Chacon documents everything with photo and video on his site modernmotodiaries.com.

After he graduated he jumped onto his motorcycle and visited places that many travellers normally don go to. “I just wanted to go places and conquer lands no man had conquered before,” Chacon shared. “In one place, I met locals that had never seen tourists in six generations of people.”

While on the road, Alex documented his travels on his website the Modern Motorcycle Diaries – a tribute to the legendary revolutionary Che Guevara.

How to take a selfie with a GoPro

You can view the video here. Can recognise any of these places?

Things to do in Kruger National Park

A short guide to visiting Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in all of South Africa, taking up over almost 20,000 square kilometres. The park today exists as more than just a home for the exciting wildlife of Africa. There’s many things to do in Kruger National Park such as hiking, camping and tours.

There are many options for travellers – you can choose to see the park during a day trip, you can Park & Ride, where you get to tour the area in search of the “big five” or you can stay in lodges or camps.

How to get there

The best option for getting to the national park is to fly into Johannesburg and then catch a connecting flight to either the Phalaborwa airport, the Hoedespruit airport or Kruger/Mpumalanga airport. From these airports you can then get direct shuttle to the park.

Another option is a bus shuttle that takes up to just over an hour, running between Kruger International Airport and the Park. It should be pre-booked, however, and spots are often limited. For more information please email heather@pctours.co.za

You can also choose to hire a car, and should you do so please be aware of the nine entrance gates you can choose from.

Things to do in Kruger National Park

Africa is fairly well-known for it’s fantastic wildlife and the Kruger National Park literally has it all for you to see – and it’s not dangerous, so don’t worry about lodging overnight.

Keep an eye out for the “big five” – the buffalo, elephant, lion, rhino and leopard. These are the ones we all want to see most. There are also an astounding number of birds and smaller animals – including antelope, elephant shrew, the rhino beetle, the ground hornbill and martial eagle.

In the park there’s also a number of cultural and natural features for tourists to visit. These include museums, a library, the Albasini Ruins, the Masorini Ruins and Thulamela – a stone wall dating back 500 years which once marked the divide between lands.

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Where to stay

The Kruger National Park offers a few different options when it comes to overnight stay. You can choose between basic camping grounds, huts or bungalows – or you can go all out and stay in luxury.

Siyabona Africa offers packages for safari accommodation in the park.

The “Premier” Kruger safari option includes three days accommodation with included breakfasts, dinners and park safari tours. There’s also the option to make it a romantic getaway, and they offer great honeymoon packages.

For more information on the packages offered by Siyabona, please visit http://www.krugerpark.co.za.

If you are after something a bit more authentic, you can choose to book directly through the Kruger National Park website. The facilities are not as luxurious, but you get the same safari experiences for a cheaper price.

Bedding is supplied for all accommodation when booking through the Kruger National Park scheme, and there are cheaper options available for children under the age of 12. You can opt for a family cottage if the space is needed – it has multiple bedrooms, a bathroom and it’s own kitchen.

For more information and prices, please visit http://www.sanparks.org/parks/kruger/tourism/accommodation.php

Important information

The Kruger National Park is a highly regarded and regulated park. There’s a pretty extensive list of rules that you must follow, put in place for both the safety of you and the safety of the wildlife around you. To make the most out of your stay, whether it is overnight or as a daytripper, it’s important that you follow the rules.

In certain areas – they will be signed – you must stay in your vehicle. This is for your own safety!

There are strict speed limits in place and most vehicles must stick to the tar roads to avoid accidents. There are people who patrol the roads as well and it’s important that you adhere to the signs as they are in place for the safety of you and others.

The national park is a malaria zone – there are chances of malaria being spread, as there are high level bugs (especially mosquitos) please make sure that you check what needles and medication you may need before travelling to Africa and the Kruger National Park.

The park is a definite no poaching area – it’s never a good thing to harm animals and if you see somebody attempting to do so, please alarm the authorities. Poaching is taken very seriously in the Kruger National Park as there are a number of protected species – particularly the rhino. When shopping in parts of Africa always avoid buying animal products and definitely steer clear of anything ivory – not only will it not get through customs and you will be supporting a crime.

Always research travel routes and be careful when driving alone. Don’t keep large amounts of cash on you. Check payment options for your accommodation and only bring what money you need. Try to travel during the day to avoid long journeys at night in a foreign place.

When is the best time to visit?

There isn’t really a bad time to visit Africa; however there are notable wet and dry seasons and in the months after the wet season, increased foliage does make it more difficult to spot wildlife.

The months of April to September are chilly at night but they have warmer days which are dry, making animal spotting a lot easier. Vegetation becomes scarce and animals flock to rivers and watering holes for their water supply.

* It’s important that when you’re travelling through the drier parts of Africa that you stay well hydrated.

4 Eiffel Tower Paris France. Photo by kandkadadventures.com

10 free things to do while visiting Paris

Looking for free things to do in Paris? As the capital city of France, Paris is a popular destination for French culture, cuisine, art, fashion, and architecture to name a few. While visiting Paris, travellers should indulge in a little shopping, try a bite of fine French cuisine accompanied by a glass of champagne or two, and visit some iconic tourist spots – but keep in mind that not everything in Paris needs to cost money.

10 free things to do in Paris: Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris

10 free things to do in Paris: Cathédrale Notre Dame, Paris. Photo by wikimedia.org

Cathédrale Notre Dame, Paris. Photo by wikimedia.org

Notre-Dame de Paris, also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is a historic Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world.

With gargoyles perched on the grand cathedral, a visit to this icon should be on every travellers list. It is free to enter the cathedral, but the queues can be long. Walking around the building and admiring it from the outside can be just as good.

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Le Champ de Mars

10 free things to do in Paris: Champ de Mars. Photo by Kyttyee, flickr

Champ de Mars. Photo by Kyttyee, flickr

The Champ de Mars is a large public green space in Paris, France, located in the seventh arrondissement, between the Eiffel Tower to the north-west and the École Militaire to the south-east. This green space is a perfect place to view the Eiffel Tower from, and will cost nothing. Pack a picnic, find a possie on the grass, and wait for the Eiffel Tower to light up at dusk.

Parc Monceau

10 free things to do in Paris: Parc Monceau. Photo by landscapelover.wordpress.com

Parc Monceau. Photo by landscapelover.wordpress.com

Parc Monceau is a public park covering just over eight acres, situated in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France, at the junction of Boulevard de Courcelles, Rue de Prony and Rue Georges Berger. The park is unusual in France due to its informal layout, curved walkways and randomly placed statues, which distinguish it from the traditional French-style garden.

The park is home to statues of famous French figures including Guy de Maupassant, Frédéric Chopin, Charles Gounod, Ambroise Thomas, Alfred de Musset, and Edouard Pailleron. It is open daily from sunrise to sunset, with extended hours in the summer months. It has play areas for children and it is an active free Wi-Fi area, which make it a perfect picnic spot to spend a sunny afternoon.

Avenue des Champs-Élysées

10 free things to do in Paris: Champs Elysees. Photo by hotel-paris.com

Champs Elysees. Photo by hotel-paris.com

The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is arguably one of the most famous (and expensive) streets Paris with its cinemas, cafés, luxury speciality shops, and horse-chestnut trees. While travellers can indulge in a bit of shopping or cuisine, walking is free, and this street is well worth having a stroll down.

The avenue runs for almost two kilometres from the Place de la Concorde in the east to the Place Charles de Gaulle in the west, location of the Arc de Triomphe. Several French monuments can be found on the street, including the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde.

Jardin des Tuileries

10 free things to do in Paris: Jardins des Tuileries, Paris. Photo by worldnewsmania.com

Jardins des Tuileries, Paris. Photo by worldnewsmania.com

The Tuileries Garden is a public garden located between the Louvre Museum and the Place de la Concorde in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. Created by Catherine de Medicis as the garden of the Tuileries Palace in 1564, it was eventually opened to the public in 1667, and became a public park after the French Revolution.

Soak up some French history by treading in the dainty footsteps of Marie-Antoinette and see where Napoléon built his triumphal arch. This garden is truly beautiful and worth visiting while in Paris, and the best part is it doesn’t cost a thing.

Père Lachaise Cemetery

10 free things to do in Paris: Pere Lachaise cemetery. Photo by richard tulloch, flickr

Pere Lachaise cemetery. Photo by richard tulloch, flickr

Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris covering 44 hectares. Located on Boulevard de Ménilmontant it is notable for being the first garden cemetery, as well as the first municipal cemetery. It is also the site of three World War I memorials.

The cemetery is the resting place to literary greats like Proust, Balzac, and Oscar Wilde. Jim Morrison from The Doors also lies there, with his grave strewn flowers and alcoholic offerings from devoted fans who make a musical pilgrimage to visit his grave.

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

10 free things to do in Paris: Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris. Photo by valetourism.net

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris. Photo by valetourism.net

A trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without visiting a few museums, and Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is a major municipal museum dedicated to Modern and Contemporary art of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is located at 11, Avenue du Président Wilson in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.

The museum collections include more than 8,000 works from art movements of the 20th century. Exhibitions highlight the European and international art scenes of the 20th century, as well as displaying exhibitions of trends in contemporary art. Temporary exhibitions run every six weeks.

Marché d’Aligre

10 free things to do in Paris: Marche d'Aligre markets, Paris. Photo by minced.files.wordpress.com

Marche d’Aligre markets, Paris. Photo by minced.files.wordpress.com

Marché d’Aligre is a French market which allows tourists to feast their eyes on impressive mountains of cheese, meat from artisan butchers, fresh fruit, vegetables, and buckets of newly bloomed flowers as they walk the street. Have a look around, mingle with the locals, smell the roses and take in the colourful atmosphere.

To reach the Marché d’Aligre, get to Métro: Ledru-Rollin and walk to Place d’Aligre. Its treasures are available any day of the week except for Monday. Over 100 vendors wait at this friendly market loved by the locals.

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont

10 free things to do in Paris: Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Photo by wikimedia.org

Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. Photo by wikimedia.org

The Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is a public park situated in north-east of Paris, in the 19th arrondissement. Occupying 24.7 hectares, it is the fifth-largest park in Paris. It was opened in 1867, late in the regime of Emperor Napoleon III, and was built by Jean-Charles Alphand, who created all the major parks of Napoleon III.

The most famous feature of the park is the Temple de la Sibylle, inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, Italy, perched at the top of a cliff fifty metres above the waters of the artificial lake. Be sure to put on some good walking shoes in order to see all that this park has to offer.

Canal St-Martin

10 free things to do in Paris: Canal St Martin. Photo by gingerandjagger.com

Canal St Martin. Photo by gingerandjagger.com

The Canal Saint-Martin is a 4.5 km long canal in Paris connecting the Canal de l’Ourcq to the river Seine, and runs underground between Bastille and République. It’s a great destination for watching the barges navigate the series of locks and road bridges, and for visiting the bars and restaurants scattered along the canal.

Construction of the canal was ordered by Napoleon I in 1802 to create an artificial waterway for supplying Paris with fresh water to support the growing population and help avoid diseases such as dysentery and cholera. Today it is the perfect spot to sit down with a picnic and people-watch.

Groups of sharks make the drop that extra bit intimidating. Photo by geekstyleguide.com

The Mayan Temple: The Coolest Water Slide in the Bahamas

Going up four storeys, the Leap of Faith can look quite intimidating. Photo by panoramio.com

Going up four storeys, the Leap of Faith can look quite intimidating. Photo by panoramio.com

When you think of the Bahamas, you probably think of endless pristine beaches, palm trees, hammocks, and relaxing in the sun. You wouldn’t be wrong, but now the Paradise Island Resort is famous for the Atlantis water slide in the Bahamas within the Aqauventure Waterpark. The exact replica of the Temple of Doom has become a main attraction of the resort and the Bahamas, drawing international crowds to the Indiana Jones-style experience.

What to expect at the Atlantis water slide in the Bahamas

The slide itself drops down at a near vertical drop. Photo by mkebrown666, Flikr

The slide itself drops down at a near vertical drop. Photo by mkebrown666, Flikr

The water slide, officially called the Leap of Faith, is so named because the bottom of the slide is covered in mist and cannot be seen. For those brave enough, the first chute takes them down 18 metres on an almost-vertical drop, through the mist, and into a clear acrylic tunnel. This tunnel then takes visitors through an underwater passage where they zoom through shark-infested waters. Among these sharks are 4 metre long nurse sharks and Caribbean Reef sharks.

The Vice President of Marine Operations, Mark Gsellman explains that the ride is so popular because it gives guests the ultimate experience and an unforgettable adrenaline rush. Many people, of course, are very excited to try the Leap of Faith, but typically grow anxious as they wait for their turn. With such a massive drop ahead of them, it’s certainly understandable. Gsellman says, “the feeling of being dropped at a near perpendicular angle and flying past sharks is something you can’t find anywhere else.”

Groups of sharks make the drop that extra bit intimidating. Photo by geekstyleguide.com

Groups of sharks make the drop that extra bit intimidating. Photo by geekstyleguide.com

The water park housing this amazing adventure is one of the largest in the world, also featuring a 40 metre Power Tower, a seven acre snorkelling lagoon, a challenger slide, and many more. However, none of these compare to the Leap of Faith experience in the Mayan Temple, built at full size in order to dominate the skyline on Paradise Island.

MORE: 5 AWESOME WATER SLIDE PARKS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Access to the Aquaventure Waterpark

Visitors can stay at the Royal Arms. Photo by teresco.org

Visitors can stay at the Royal Arms. Photo by teresco.org

Access to the Aquaventure Waterpark at Paradise Island is free for guests staying at the resort. Alternatively, passes may be purchased by day visitors, but be sure to book in advance as availability may be limited during periods of high resort occupancy.

When to go

An aerial view of the site and it's tropical surroundings. Photo by teatur.com

An aerial view of the site and it’s tropical surroundings. Photo by teatur.com

To enjoy the weather and outdoor activities to their fullest in the Bahamas, the winter season between November and April is recommended, as there is guaranteed sunshine, mild temperatures, and low rainfall. Between June and October should be avoided, as this is the peak of the rain and hurricane season.