The Georgians invented wine making sometime in the 6th millennium BC, and so they’ve had plenty of time to perfect the art. The country’s medieval monasteries were veritable universities of viticulture, keeping meticulous records about grape varieties, terroir, and factors which affected production. Members of the church congregation were expected to tithe a certain amount of the wine they made for use as sacramental wine, and it was the most valuable asset that many of the churches possessed. Priests fortified the church wine sellers, and would defend them to the death!
Many of Georgia’s wine makers still produce wine using traditional techniques, and the resulting flavour is quite different from that of wines made using European methods. Firstly, every part of the grape — including the skin, seeds, and even stalk — is fermented along with the juice. This gives the white wines a much darker colour, and hence they are known as amber or orange wines. The wine is fermented in a qvevri, a pointed terracotta vessel similar to an amphora, which is buried in the floor of the wine cellar. The qvevri is lined with lime and beeswax, and as it is subterranean, the wine is at a constant temperature throughout the fermentation process. Due to its shape, the sediment naturally sinks to the bottom, so there’s no need for the wine maker to add sulphites to separate it from the wine.
It seems that every Georgian you meet has knowledge to impart about wine making! But as you travel around the country, there are definite spots of historical significance, and centres of expertise.
The earliest parts of the Uplistsikhe Archaeological Museum date from the 10th century BC. It’s a rock-cut monastery complex, similar in many ways to Cappadocia in Turkey, and amidst the vaulted caves is evidence of early wine production: 3m-long troughs in the rock where grapes were crushed under foot, and narrow channels through which the juice would flow into secondary troughs or pots.
The Ikalto Monastery, near Telavi, was an ancient academy, where priests were trained in theology, rhetoric, astronomy, philosophy, and wine making: the pillars of a good education. The recently restored complex of churches and ecclesiastical buildings is scattered with grape presses and wine cellars, and lines of discarded qvevris.
Why Northern Lights in Autumn?
For a start, it’s usually much warmer than the deep artic winter, so you won’t normally have to get kitted out in snowsuits or ski-gear. There is a chance of some snow and it’s not going to be tropical, but jeans and a heavy jacket will usually do the trick – maybe with a thermal vest underneath if things get a little chillier.
Most importantly for the avid Aurora Borealis hunter is that the snow clouds have not yet gathered in earnest and so the skies are much clearer. Cloud cover is the enemy, so the better the weather the better your chances of a sighting.
The lights are at their most frequent in late autumn, but the later you go the more the risk your hike will turn into a snowshoe trek so it’s your call.
September 21st is the start of the season so any time after that and you should be in with a good shot.
While September, October and November can produce Auroras to match any of the deep winter months there are no guarantees any time of year.
The longer you stay and the more time you set aside the higher the chance you’ll see one or more displays. We’re also currently in the liveliest phase of the eleven-year solar cycle so now is the time to seek out this fickle phenomenon.
As well as the lights, there are a wealth of other things to see that are unique to the autumn months. While in winter some wildlife are still up and about, there are so many more that are active in autumn. It’s a particularly good time for bird watching as it’s the migratory season.
The autumn colours in the forests provide an unbelievable backdrop to see the lights, as the contrast between the amber tones of the trees and green of the Aurora is simply mystical, all made more intense by the depth of the darkness that surrounds it.
Where to see the Northern Lights?
As the name suggests, you’ll need to head north to catch a glimpse of the Lights’ ethereal show but beyond that it’s up to you as there various options to choose from.
Listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), polar bears face an uncertain future. But there is hope. In September 2015, the five states whose territories cover this spectacular animal’s range – Canada, Kingdom of Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Russia and the US – signed the Circumpolar Action Plan, a 10-year global conservation strategy to secure the long-term survival of polar bears, which number between 22,000 and 31,000 in the wild according to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). While it’s too soon to measure its success, this joint commitment nonetheless offers some reassurance that these nations are dedicated to the species’ preservation.
Most people who have been lucky enough to eyeball a wild polar bear would agree it’s one of the most thrilling wildlife-viewing experiences on Earth. Still a relatively young industry, polar bear tourism is not without its challenges. An increase in human-polar bear contact in Norway, for example, has resulted in more bears being shot.
It can also be argued that the carbon emissions generated by tourists travelling to the Arctic to spot bears is counterproductive to the marine mammals’ survival. On the other hand, well-managed polar bear tourism is credited with inspiring visitors to see the necessity of safeguarding their fragile environment. If it’s a trip you dream of taking one day, read on for the best places to ogle these majestic beasts in their Arctic playground.
Canada: Churchill, Manitoba
They don’t call Churchill the ‘polar bear capital of the world’ for nothing. Every autumn, hundreds of polar bears gather on the shores of Hudson Bay near the town of Churchill to wait for the sea ice to refreeze so they can return to hunting seals. The world’s most accessible (and cheapest) polar bear viewing destination, Churchill has a well-established tourism industry. Tours are typically conducted in custom-made tundra buggies with indoor/outdoor viewing areas. These vehicles can get close to the bears without jeopardising human or bear safety, though the elevation of the viewing platforms can present challenges for photographers.
When to go: October and November is peak viewing season in Churchill, but some operators offer packages at their remote lodges in March, when mother bears emerge from their dens with their cubs. Bear watching is combined with beluga whale watching in July and August.
Operators: Tours range from half-day viewing tours to multi-day adventures staying in tundra lodges. Operators including Great White Bear Tours (greatwhitebeartours.com), Frontiers North (frontiersnorth.com) and Natural Habitat Adventures (nathab.com) enjoy better access to the Churchill Wildlife Management Area (the key viewing area) than others.
United States: Kaktovik, Alaska
While polar bear populations in the Bering Sea are thought to be decreasing, bears have become such a common fixture on Alaska’s Arctic coast in summer that a tourism industry has developed around their presence in two Inupiat Eskimo villages: Barrow and Kaktovik. Located on Barter Island, just off the coast, Kaktovik is the best place to spot them – lured by the opportunity to feast on the carcasses of bowhead whales that the community are permitted to harvest, polar bears can be spotted by the dozen hanging out on the sand islands that fringe the town. Visitors arrive via small plane from Fairbanks for three- to four-hour viewing tours conducted in small boats equipped for six guests.
When to go: Boat tours run from mid-August until late September/early October.
Operators: Northern Alaska Tour Company (northernalaska.com) runs a day trip from Fairbanks; several smaller operators including Akook Arctic Adventures (akookarcticadventures.com) offer multi-day photography-driven tours, lodging in Kaktovik.
Cost: At $1799, Northern Alaska Tour Company’s day trip is the cheapest tour. You may get a better deal booking flights directly through Ravn Alaska (flyravn.com), and arranging a viewing session with Kaktovik Tours (US$720; kaktoviktours.com).
Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
The ancient Khmer temple of Angkor Wat has always been a symbol of power and might, but the early morning spectacle at the site is absolutely overwhelming. It is indeed very fascinating to watch this historic monument illuminate with the first rays of the Sun, and the still water of the lake in front of it getting colored with different beatific hues. Tourists trek to the temple early in the morning to watch the magic happen.
Location: Easter Island, Chile
The sensational Chilean site lined with 15 colossal statues of the maoi is famous all over the world. It is one of the most impressive sites on the Easter Island, and it is so for more reasons than one. One of the most breathtaking sunrises in the world can be seen at Ahu Tongariki, as the Sun’s first rays unhurriedly peek from behind the massive statues, and seem to unravel their mystery before the world.
Location: Salisbury, England
One of the most magnificent astronomical edifices of the ancient world, the Stonehenge (according to research) was deliberately planned in such a way that the first rays of the midsummer morning’s Sun shone into the monument’s center, and illuminated the heel stone. And so it does, even today! Special tours are arranged to watch this spectacle come alive, and all visitors are truly mesmerized by the sight of the red rim of the Sun rising over the silhouetted horizon. It feels as if the mighty boulders have suddenly come to life!
Location: Al Omraneyah, Egypt
As majestic and timeless as the pyramids of Giza are, it is just as spellbinding to watch the Sun slowly creep upwards from behind their silhouetted forms. It is absolutely awe-inspiring to observe how the first rays of the heavenly ball of fire brighten the peaks of the mighty Egyptian pyramids, giving them a slightly golden hue before lighting up the immense desert landscape that lays ahead.
Location: Gold Coast, Australia
Home to one of the most iconic beachfronts in Australia, the Surfers Paradise beach is also a great place to see the world come to life. Everything from the waters to the sky to the high-rise buildings lining the shore, suddenly take on bright shades of orange, yellow, and gold. Numerous tourists assemble on the beach early in the morning to say “hello” to the morning Sun.
Location: Arizona, USA
One of the most splendid sunrises in Continental United States can be seen across the Grand Canyon. When cool purples seem to melt into the warm shades of orange and red, all one can do is admire. It is utterly fantastic to see the valleys of the Canyon suddenly lighten up as the Sun’s rays make their way through them. Watching the breathtaking scenery coming into view is just heavenly.
Location: London, United Kingdom
When it comes to world’s most spectacular sunrises, London’s Tower Bridge certainly deserves a place. The silhouette of the bridge slowly starts glowing in the shades of bronze and red, and the water of the Thames also acquires similar hues, only to bewitch the human mind. One of the most picture-perfect locations in the world, the Tower Bridge seems even more enchanting at sunrise.
The Great Wall of China, one of the most iconic landmarks of China and the world, is spreads across numerous parts of modern-day China. An undisputed haven of hikers, it also boasts of having several spots from where tourists can have spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset. To watch the spectacle, people start climbing really early in the morning, when it is pitch dark, in order to reach the spot from where they can see the Sun rising upwards. The way in which the surrounding countryside lights up with the morning rays of the Sun is remarkable.
Location: Bhaktapur District, Nepal
The mighty Himalayas have always been a subject of great curiosity and fascination, and if there is one place that offers glorious views of these imposing peaks in the early morning hours, it is unarguably, Nagarkot. A popular destination with honeymooners, the village boasts of one of the most romantic sunrises in the world. The first rays of the Sun lighting up the Himalayan peaks with tints of orange, red, and gold is a sight to behold. Simply mesmerizing.
Location: Varanasi, India
Unlike any other place on earth, Varanasi is a different world in itself. Among the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, Varanasi is closely hugged by Hinduism’s holiest river, the Ganges. The sunrise over the divine waters of the Ganges is spectacular in its own right. It livens up its banks, as people enter the waters to bathe and perform their first prayers, and boats start ferrying up and down the river. Unlike anywhere else in the world where sunrise might be viewed as a serene spectacle, this one is accompanied by early morning chants and prayers of people, an altogether different experience.
Mesa Arch Sunset
Grand Canyon, Arizona is one of the seven wonders of the world. It is famous not only for its size, but also for the beautiful scenic views it offers. The views are so wonderful that they can leave you possessed for days. The month of May and October are the driest amongst all and are best to visit Grand Canyon. Three fantastic scenic view points are developed on the North Rim namely Cape Royal, Point Imperial and Point Sublime. The sunsets from these points are spectacular to watch. It is the time when the Grand Canyon shows the depth of nature’s beauty. Many people stand on the rim with their hands in the air, as if to offer a solemn salute to nature and surrendering to the ultimate power of Grand Canyon maker. These actions give a spiritual touch to the visit and make the Grand Canyon stand apart from other sunset spots.
Sunset Over Taj Mahal
The term Taj refers to the crown and Taj Mahal signifies it as the crowning glory of all the man-made structures. It is the exuberant monument of love and beauty. It is one of the seven wonders of the world and most visited places in Agra, India. It is also the most photographed monument. The movement of the Sun from east to west has several light effects on the Taj Mahal. It blushes in the rosy glow of the dawn and it appears pinkish orange in the dusk. But, the most breathtaking view of Taj is from an octagonal tower of the Red Fort across the river Jamuna.
Table Mountain Sunset
Cape Town is the mother city of South Africa. It is located at the southern tip of the African continent. One of the best views of sunset in Cape Town is from the Table Mountain Silhouette. Table Mountain is one of the famous places to visit in Cape Town. The highest point of this range is Maclears Beacon. It is around 1,087m high. At the time of sunset, the viewer standing inland can experience the African landscape becoming golden. Also the sunset from the Dolphin beach in Blouberg gives you an opportunity to have an awesome view of the Table Mountain.
Skyline Of Singapore
The extravagant Twin Towers offer an awesome view of the vibrant city. It is situated in the heart of Singapore’s financial center. The architectural credit of silhouette of buildings goes to Carlos Otts. It is the perfect location for the people who want to enjoy life to the fullest as it offers a spectacular view of sunset.
Another best place to watch sunset, in Singapore, is the Sentosa Island. Out of the 63 islands, Sentosa Island is the 5th largest island located in Singapore. The name of the Island comes from the terms peace and quiet in Malaya dialect. On the contrary, in the past it was referred to as the Death Island. No one knows the exact reason behind it but, it was probably related to the pirates that sailed around. The sunset views from the beaches here will make you feel breathless for sure.
Beaches are the perfect places to watch sunset. It offers you a look of the never ending sky, filled with extravagant shades of colors with the setting Sun showing its grandeur. Santorini Beaches possess typical beach characteristics of long stretches of black sand and small black pebbles. It is a unique feature for a beach to have and it is because of the volcanic origin of the island.
Other Greek islands like Naxos, Los and Mykonos have golden sand beaches. All the beaches are surrounded by spectacular rock arrangements. The Perissa and Kamari beaches are most famous beaches located in the eastern part of the Greece. Apart from these, there are two more interesting beaches, one is called Kokinni Ammos and the other is Aspri Ammos. Kokinni means red in Greek which complements the sand on this beach which is reddish in color, whereas Aspri means white and there are white cliffs from where you get the beach view. They are also called Red Beach and White Beach and are adjacent to each other.
When to Visit: Mid-March – Mid-May
Haarlem (or Harlem) has been the most sought-after tulip destination since the 1630s, and is a major trading center even today. It is not just Haarlem, but most of Holland is world-famous for its tulip expo and festivals. With around 7 million flower bulbs blooming each season, Keukenhof is the main attraction when it comes to visiting tulip fields.
When to Visit: July – August
Since ages, lavender has been used as a scent for linens and bathing water. These sprawling landscapes of lavender are seen in the Sault area, covering the base of Mont Ventoux. The color of these beautifully-scented flowers vary from violet to indigo. If you prefer seeing a dash of yellow too, do visit Luberon, where you’ll witness sunflowers growing alongside the elegantly-textured lavenders.
When to Visit: March – April
Daffodils in England help spring to arrive in style with their canary-yellow trumpets and slender appearance. Apart from Cornwall, you can visit Cotswolds too for the pleasant experience of seeing hundreds of daffodils. Go ahead, bring out the William Wordsworth in you.
When to Visit: March – April
‘Hanami’, the age-old tradition of having a picnic under a cherry blossom tree is practiced and enjoyed even today. These white- and pink-flowers are seen in thousands in the Yasukuni Shrine of Tokyo. With numerous flowers lining the streets of Japan in spring, this destination should not miss your bucket list!
When to Visit: Mid-July
There is no better way to describe summer than a vibrant yellow sea of sunflowers; and if that is what you’re looking for, Tuscany is the place to be. Although native to North America and South America, the sunflower has almost become synonymous to the sultry summer Italy offers.
When to Visit: April
The state flower of Texas, bluebonnets make this area feature on the list of places to visit, not only for humans, but also for bees. Such is the number of these flowers, that the entire state of Texas is painted with blue during spring. The next time you drive or ride through this state, do capture the picturesque panorama.
When to Visit: Mid-February – Mid-May
The effect of spring is such that even the driest of deserts can come to life; the Mojave Desert is one such example. The Antelope Valley of the Mojave desert in California is particularly famous for the pretty picture it paints with blooming orange-colored peppy poppies spreading across the horizon.
When to Visit: February – Early April
Now, this is one destination that is a heaven on Earth for all photographers. The stunning yellow rapeseed flowers put up quite a show in the small Luoping County of China. Despite its puzzling weather, which can vary each day, these continuous stretches of fields never fail to impress its audience.
When to Visit: Mid-November – January
Only a handful of places offer the kind of visual treat Lake Tekapo provides with its aquamarine-colored water, lined with Russell lupines. The hues of purple of the lupines act as a piece of puzzle that fits perfectly in the backdrop of a crystal clear lake and the Southern Alps.
When to Visit: August – October
Take the road less traveled and go for a safari in the semi-arid region of South Africa. The vivacious display of wild flowers is bound to leave you flabbergasted. Here, around 4,000 different species of flowering plants have been recorded so far; and I am pretty sure none of them will let you down!
Where: Şişli, Istanbul
A shopping oasis in Istanbul, here you will find luxurious retail stores offering both Turkish and international designer labels on either side of the street. Rest those tired legs at exclusive cafés, hotels, and restaurants that dot the street. Abdi Ipekçi Street has a reputation of being the most expensive streets in Turkey.
Where: Brussels, Belgium
Lined with designer boutiques, art-deco mansions and manicured parks, Brussels’ Avenue Louise is one of the chic shopping districts. It is famous for Belgian specialties like lace, glassware, and sugar biscuits that make the locals go ga-ga; not to forget beer. And who would like to miss out on the world-famous Belgian chocolates?
Where: Paris, France
Fashion and Paris go hand-in-hand, and it is no surprise that the Avenue Montaigne in Paris specializes in high fashion. Lined with luxurious boutiques and top-end jewelry stores, this is Paris’ fanciest avenue. With the likes of Louis Vuitton and Bulgari, sophistication is the key word to be remembered here while splurging.
Barcelona’s three-mile Avinguda Diagonal is the place to head to if you’re looking for international fashion. The street itself will present you with a pleasant mix of Gothic and modern architecture. Do remember to check out the fine cafés famous for tapas.
Where: Istanbul, Turkey
Ever been to a large open-air shopping mall? That’s what this street in Istanbul is known as. It offers world famous brands in elegant shops, restaurants that satiate every hungry taste bud, and pubs for the thirsty shopper. Bağdat Caddesi also has luxury car dealers, department stores, and shopping malls.
Where: Zurich, Switzerland
If you intend to spend like royalty, then Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse is the place to be. It is considered to be the most expensive and exclusive shopping avenue in Europe, and stretches almost a mile. Pick up your Swiss watch, jewelry, and accessories from this avenue. Lest you forget, the Confiserie Sprüngli, the famous chocolate shop, is located on the Paradeplatz square.
Where: London, England
The name’s Bond! Expensive, elegant, and posh Bond Street in London is home to designer clothes, colognes, art, and antiques. If you’re not intending to shop here, you are most welcome to window shop. Let your eyes have a visual treat of elegant homes of distinguished people that stand as a backdrop for the expensive shops that the street holds.
If hiking in the hilly regions and walking in the wilds is something you enjoy doing, go trekking. Weather conditions and topography must be taken into account before planning a trek. If you are a trekker, you will love to explore the Himalayan regions in India. The Andes in South America is another popular destination for trekking. Alaska’s autumn forests, the rainforests of Australia and Africa, and the Kilimanjaro range in Africa offer some of the top trekking destinations. The Ladakh range in India, High Sierra in California, Mount Kenya, and the Swiss Alps are some other tourist destinations that are largely visited by trekkers from around the world. There are several walking and climbing routes in Mount Kenya that are used by hikers coming on an adventure tour to this region. The Alps of Switzerland is one of the most-visited tourist spots in the world. Construction of tourist facilities such as hotels and mountain huts began in the mid-nineteenth century and the Swiss Alps became a popular choice for trekking.
Some enjoy sailing to marinas, which provide tourists with convenient docks and easy access to restaurants. Some prefer to visit sheltered bays and calm waters, while others may like to sail on a yacht to the high seas of Goa. If you enjoy nature’s company, you can choose to go sailing in the quiet river waters with your family, watching sea birds and enjoying the cool breeze. Some of you might like to cruise in the marinas, chatting with your dear ones over a glass of wine or engage in water sports to add a tinge of adventure to your sailing holiday. The Exumas in Bahamas, the Whitsunday Islands in Australia, the British Virgin Island, and the Caribbean waters offer some good tourist spots for an adventure vacation with the family.
Some of you might like to explore the coral reefs of Mauritius or the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and discover the depths of the blue seas on a scuba diving or snorkeling vacation. If riding the waves is what you like, kitesurfing will provide you with that element of adventure. The white, sandy beaches of Hawaii, Tarifa, and Tenerife in Spain, and Boracay in Philippines offer some of the best kiteboarding destinations. Parasailing gives you a sense of freedom. For a bird’s-eye view of the ocean, you can visit parasailing destinations like Kerala and Goa.
Whitewater rafting originated way back in 1842 but became a popular sport only in the mid 1970s. Does this adventure sport interest you? If you would like to experience the thrills and chills of the white waters, go rafting on the deadly rapids. The white waters of River Ganges in the Himalayas, River Brahmaputra in Arunachal Pradesh, and the Colorado River of the Grand Canyon offer some of the world’s best destinations for rafting.
Exploring the Wild
Exploring the wilderness of the forests is one of the best adventure vacation ideas. Spend time discovering the wildlife and observe habitats of wild animals. Such a trip will not only rejuvenate your mind but also teach children the importance of nature and wildlife conservation. The Wild Animal Safari in the Pine Mountain in Georgia hosts a rich animal reserve. The Chobe National Park in Botswana, the Kruger National Park in South Africa, and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania serve as some of the excellent tourist spots for a trip with your family. Bird watching is another interesting activity to spend a holiday. Rio Grande valley and the pine forests of East Texas are popular bird watching destinations. Some tourist companies offer packages that include watching tropical and ocean birds.
How about riding down an ocean wave while standing on a surfboard? Surfing is a favorite sport of many. If you are one of them, plan your vacations around the surfing destinations in different parts of the world. Hawaii is considered as the original home of surfing. Hawaii beaches are a popular tourist attraction. The wild waters of the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii, the Pacific coast of California, the western coastline of France, and the Sunshine coast in Australia are some of the most popular surfing destinations in the world.
Camping is a good way to enjoy both fun and adventure. Just sitting around the campfire, cooking together, playing fun games, or chatting all night long in the tent; family camping turns out to be a time well-spent with your loved ones. When camping near a lake or river, you can engage in fun activities like swimming and fishing during the day. If the campground is near a mountain, you may like to enjoy the mountain view or go hiking to explore the hilly terrains. Cornwall in Southwestern England, New Hampshire in North America, and north-Indian states like Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand offer some good camping destinations.
Unearthing Archaeological Sites
If mysteries interest you, plan a vacation to Egypt and explore its archaeological wealth, the Egyptian Pyramids, or Mohenjo-daro, a city of the Indus Valley Civilization. The latter is one of the most explored archaeological sites in the world. Ciudad Perdida, San Agustin, and the tombs at Tierradentro in Colombia, Machu Picchu in Peru, and the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations are some other famous archaeological vacation destinations.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/family-adventure-vacations.html
South Ari Atoll is a marine protected area, which is a haven for whale sharks. They tend to the frequent the western side of the Indian Ocean archipelago from May to December, and head east until April. The Conrad Rengali Island Resort, in collaboration with the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme (MWSRP) conducts snorkeling tours to go shark spotting. There are also several other island resorts that conduct such trips, so you’re spoiled for choice. Another plus is that you don’t have to be a certified snorkeling professional to be diving here; you simply need to know how to swim.
The whale shark, which is the largest known extant fish species in the world.
Best time to visit
All year round.
Cocos Island, Costa Rica
Cocos Island is a paradise-like place, owing largely to the fact that it is a marine national park which has seen little to none human interference in ages. You’ll find 20 diving sites here on the island, out of which the Bajo Alcyone is said to be the place for hammerhead encounters. The only way to get here is to get on a liveboard boat (either the Undersea Hunter, or the Okeanos Aggressor) which operates from the town of Puntarenas, and completes the 36-hour ride to come to Cocos.
The scalloped hammerheads are the specialty of the island; with divers having witnessed hundreds of these in one go. You’ll also find whitetip reef sharks, Galapagos, silky, tiger, blacktip, silvertip, and guitar sharks.
Best time to visit
The dry season, from December to May offers clear views over 100 feet, along with calm waters. If you’re looking to be adventurous, though, you’d rather be here during the rainy season (June to December), when the upsurge of plankton causes the area to be flooded with sharks, although the visibility is drastically reduced. The seas also get rougher, just so you know that this is only meant for experienced divers.
Please note: On the whole, Cocos Island is not meant for beginners.
Tiger Beach and Bimini Island, The Bahamas
The Bahamas have a long-standing reputation as a diving haven. Tiger Beach has been associated with tiger shark sightings for years, so this is a perfect spot to find your share of thrills. Plus, divers from all levels of expertise are welcome here. Bimini Island is known for its resident bull sharks, which enjoy and flourish under protected status, along with 40 other species of sharks. Open swimming in Bimini is not permitted, and the only way you can experience these sharks up close is by being in a cage. Anyone over the age of six is permitted to take a caged dip in the sea to view the sharks. Bahamas Shark Diving and Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center offer dive boats along with complete diving equipment to enthusiasts visiting Bimini.
Tiger sharks are the mainstay of the Bahamas; besides, you’ll also find lemon sharks, bull sharks, along with silkies, and even chance an encounter with the great hammerheads.
Best time to visit
All year round.
Guadalupe Island, Mexico
Guadalupe is a small island off the Baja California peninsula, and holds the quaint distinction of being the best spot for great white shark spotting. The water here is distinctly blue and crystal-clear, which means that your views will be unobstructed from a distance. Shark encounters here are mostly caged, because you obviously don’t wanna mess with the great whites. Great White Adventures and Shark Divers are two stellar companies that organize cage dives here, so you may want to check their websites for details.
Great whites, Pacific blues, and oceanic whitetip sharks.
Best time to visit
August to October.
Seal Island, South Africa
Seal Island is situated off the South African coast, less than an hour’s boat ride from Cape Town. The waters around the island may not score high on the visibility factor, but rest assured that the great whites will make their presence felt. Seal Island is home to the Cape fur seals, known to be the great white’s favorite snack. Mind you, with the great white in the vicinity, your diving will be caged. African Shark Eco-Charters specialize in cage diving, and operates from False Bay. Seal Island Express also conducts cage diving tours, and is based in False Bay as well.
Great white sharks.
Best time to visit
April to mid-September
The Pacific waters surrounding Hawaii contain more than 40 species of sharks. Diving here can be free or caged, depending upon your level of comfort and expertise. Hawaii Shark Encounters provide caged excursions that combine the thrill of diving with educational inputs, and is a fantastic option for youngsters. North Shore Shark Adventures also take you three miles into Oahu’s gorgeous North Shore to view sharks in all their glory; these encounters are caged as well.
Pygmies, whale sharks, reef sharks, sandbars, Galapagos, and hammerheads.
Best time to visit
All year round.
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Adventurous is what best describes the experience at KwaZulu-Natal, with the great white shark being in attendance. But besides these sea monsters, you’ll also find other shark species that are not as scary to hang out with. Shark Cage Diving KZN takes you to the deep sea for a close encounter with the great whites. Aliwal Shoal is a place off the coast of KZN, and this is where you need to go if you fancy the no-cage experience with the great whites.
Tiger sharks, bull sharks, copper sharks, and of course, the great whites.
Best time to visit
June to August, when sardines numbering in millions migrate northward along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, with all the sharks in hot pursuit.
Channel Islands, USA
The Channel Islands are known for their rich biological diversity, historic shipwrecks and sea caves, and the significant number of shark species that hover in dense kelp forests that lie beneath the waters. Islander Charters takes tourists into the Pacific for shark encounters, as do Horizon Charters Dive and Eco-Adventures.
Blue sharks, horn sharks, soupfins, and Pacific angel sharks, with a rare chance of a great white too.
Best time to visit
All year round.
Red Sea, Egypt
Feeding and baiting sharks is outlawed in Egypt, which has immensely contributed to the well-being of the species inhabiting the Red Sea. This way, sharks do not associate humans with food, and rarely regard their presence as interfering. As a result, the diving experience here is peaceful and subliminal. Shark School organizes free diving trips in the Red Sea, although mind you, the currents here can be pretty strong, so prior diving experience is mandatory.
The clear waters of the Red Sea is where you’ll find the exclusive oceanic white tip sharks and snaggletooth sharks.
Best time to visit
All year round.
South Mahé, Seychelles
Seychelles has been quite active in the field of shark conservation and studies, with some of the earliest whale shark recordings coming from here. Dive Resort Seychelles, in collaboration with the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS) conducts diving tours for amateurs and experts around the lesser-known locales of South Mahé. Proceeds from certain excursions are forwarded to the MCSS.
Whale sharks and reef sharks.
Best time to visit
Whale sharks migrate past Mahé from August to November, with peak sightings being made in the month of October.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/10places-to-go-for-shark-diving-adventures.html
Fernando de Noronha sits around 300 miles off the Brazilian coastline, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take a dip in the Baia Do Sancho, which is home to some huge sea turtles. The waters are the calmest through August to December, but you have to plan this trip in advance, as they accept a restricted number of visitors each year.
Dean’s Blue Hole, The Bahamas
Dean’s Blue Hole is thought to be the world’s deepest blue hole, and the area surrounding it is a haven for snorkelers. It is possible to circumnavigate the hole, where the depth changes from 5 feet to a jaw-dropping 600 feet in a matter of a few laps. While you’re under, keep an eye out for turtles, dolphins, and porpoises.
Uepi Island, Solomon Islands
Uepi Island’s location off the northeastern coast of Australia should tell you everything you need to know. Uepi is a tiny barrier reef, with the Marovo Lagoon on one side, and a deep ocean on the other. A world-class snorkeling destination, people come here to dive in the clear, warm waters of the lagoon and get a glimpse of the beautiful chambered nautilus.
Menjangan Island, Bali, Indonesia
Menjangan is possibly Bali’s most protected treasure, and is a far cry from the otherwise crowded beaches that dot the main island. Menjangan offers some of the most stunning undersea visuals that include colorful corals and gorgeous sea creatures. The island itself is almost devoid of human habitation, so when you come here, come prepared with your gear and lots of sun block.
Name a water sport, and Hawaii has it on offer. Besides Hawaii’s obvious scenic surface beauty, the surrounding waters of the deep blue Pacific beckon all snorkeling enthusiasts. Once you take a dip, look out for the Hawaiian sea turtles, butterflyfish, and vibrant corals, clearly visible through the transparent waters.
Bay Islands, Honduras
Honduras has over 100 amazing snorkeling sites that come with high recommendations. There’s an extensive barrier reef which lies just a few hundred feet offshore from the northern side of Roatán island, and the inviting warm waters are home to tropical fish and corals of the Caribbean.
Bonaire, Leeward Antilles
Bonaire calls itself divers paradise, and with good reason. Divers and snorkelers from around the world come to Bonaire for its reputation as a premier diving destination. You’ll find the water warm and crystal clear, a feature that is typical of the Caribbean. The best things to see here are the corals and the seahorses.
Plaza Sur, Galápagos Islands
A tiny island in terms of size, Plaza Sur more than makes up for it through its oceanic wonders. Snorkelers who come here, get the awesome opportunity to come face to face with sea lions, regular inhabitants of the waters surrounding the island.
Grand Cayman Island
The reason to pack your gear and come to the Cayman Islands can be described in a single word – stingrays! Yes. Snorkeling here means that you get surrounded by hoards of Southern stingrays in sparkling clear waters.
No one needs a reason to come to Maldives. This cluster of islands in the Indian ocean sees a heavy influx of tourists every year, which includes a large number of snorkelers as well. Dive into the calm waters of the Indian ocean brimming with life, and view the corals, and perhaps even chance an encounter with the graceful lion fish.
Read more at Buzzle: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/best-destinations-in-the-world-for-snorkeling.html
The peak season to visit Amsterdam is between the months of June and September. Obviously, during this period, the city is crowded with tourists, and one has to pay higher prices for accommodation. Therefore, visiting the city during the off-season can be beneficial, in that you can not only avoid large crowds, but you will also get some really cheap lodging deals.
Peak season prices are much higher, as mentioned above. There are a number of budget hotels and B&Bs as well. It should be kept in mind that cheap accommodation options will not offer you many services. Moreover, they might not even have elevators, but only steep staircases. However, if you are willing to compromise on the amenities, these places can help save a substantial amount of money.
Most have their own bars that offer really cheap beers. Coffee shops can be found in abundance around the city, which also offer an extremely cozy atmosphere.
✲ Quick Tip: Due to the legal drug culture in Amsterdam, some of its coffee shops and snack bars do use them in their preparations. So, if you are buying food for your family, do not hesitate to inquire whether any drugs have been used in the items that you have ordered.
The key to plan an affordable trip to Amsterdam is to plan well in advance. However, once you are in the city, it is also very important that you keep your hands away from your pockets for as long as possible. Amsterdam has several tourist traps, and you never seem to realize how and where you tend to spend. So, enjoy Amsterdam, but do not get carried away by its glitz and glamor.
The capital city of China, the mesmerizing Beijing, offers multitude of options for kids to enjoy their journey to the fullest. There are some fascinating tourist attractions in Beijing, dedicated exclusively to kids. Beijing attractions for kids include amusement parks, water parks, science museums and what not. Kids will have a life-time experience from their trip to Beijing because there are some excellent options for them to freely enjoy.
Journey Around the World in Beijing World Park
With nearly 1.5 million visitors flocking to this park, every year, it is not a surprise if you get lost in this huge 46.7 hectare area theme park. It was built in 1993 with the sole aim of providing its visitors unique experience of the world community without leaving Beijing. The most fascinating attraction inside this park is that it includes miniature models of nearly 100 famous world monuments. Right from India’s Taj Mahal to America’s Empire State building, it includes almost all monuments you can think about. It is open from April to October for visitors. Besides the opportunity to see world-class attractions in mini sized models, made almost of the same materials as the original one’s, this world park will give your kids a slide show depicting the world. The journey will make you feel as if you have seen the entire world in a day. Music, dance, food and drinks from different parts of the world are some other things that kids can enjoy in this park.
Get Mesmerized at Sony ExploraScience Museum
This science museum will amuse your kids to the core. It doesn’t matter, if they are still not interested in science, numerous things in this museum are bound to enthrall them. Located in Chaoyang Park, this high tech, interactive museum will certainly bewitch them by the wonders of latest technology and human interaction.
Experience the Real Kung Fu
Your family, especially your kids who must be in awe of the Kung Fu Panda, will be delighted to see some real Kung Fu fighting. In Beijing, Kung Fu shows are organized at various places, as a part of cultural events. Don’t you dare to miss them.
Be Friends with the Pandas
In the Beijing Zoo, kids will find numerous varieties of animals and they will also get a chance to see Pandas. Well, kids would certainly wish, if it was the Kung Fu panda, their cuddly Po. Observing rare Pandas from up close will really make your kids exhilarated.
Go for a Toy Shopping Bonanza
Chinese markets are known for variety of toys and that too, at affordable prices. Enter with your kids in famous toy markets in Beijing and you will find it difficult to leave it without buying anything. Stuffed pandas, helicopters, dolls and any other toy, you always wanted to gift to your kids, these toy super markets will surely be an answer to your kids dream world.
Explore the Phenomenal Marine World
Imagine watching killer sharks, sea lions and dolphins all through the windows in the walls of an aquarium. It would indeed be mesmerizing to experience marine life so closely. Hailed to be the largest inland aquarium in the world, the Beijing Aquarium in Haidian District, houses nearly 1,000 species of freshwater fish and marine animals. It is located inside the Beijing Zoo.
Sweat Out on the Greatest Wall in the World
One of the best Beijing attractions for kids is to explore the Great Wall of China. The most enjoyable section for children would be the Mutianyu section. It is the best preserved part of this magnificent wall and is opened to visitors. It consists of 22 watch towers in which you can go and watch the magnificent China and forest and woodland surrounding the Great wall. Your teenager kids will love some adventurous stuff on the Great Wall of China, like hiking or the cable car ride. You shouldn’t miss the experience of sleeping on the Great Wall because accommodation is provided in the watch towers.
Australia is a place of neither bounds nor boundaries, where wild and humbling rain forests fringe brazen modern cities, throbbing with life. The unfathomable Aboriginal soul of the people who came there 50,000 years ago from South East Asia, during the last Ice Age, still thrives, uninterrupted by the whirlwind of urbanization. It is the sixth largest country in the world and has the lowest population density. It has bloomed into a raging zest of cultures, mingling landscapes of coasts, rain forests, deserts, mountains, cities, quaint towns, that all come together to form a heady and mellifluous whole, making it one of the dreamiest travel destinations in the world.
Aspen is a destination favored by adventure-loving couples who love winter sports like backcountry skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice skating, and dog sledding. However, you don’t necessarily have to visit Aspen during the winter. If you’re looking to travel here when the weather’s at its best, the months of summer provide gorgeous temperatures between 70s and 80s. There are many summer sports as well that you can take part in such as hiking (the Aspen Four-Pass Loop), llama trekking, river rafting, horseback riding, and mountain biking. Also, you can find the best prices on hotels, lodges, and B&B’s here in the months of September and October. The months from November to March and July to end of August (peak travel times) are also suitable. Traveling around Aspen is convenient as you can easily rent a car, taxi, shuttle, or travel by bus. There are tons of restaurants, clubs, and lounges in downtown Aspen where cuisines from around the world are served. You can also enjoy the day going on jeep tours, hot air balloon rides, visiting galleries, or spending time shopping.
The main language spoken in Colombia is Spanish. Population of this nation is over 46 million. Mestizos (people of mixed Native American and European heritage) form around 50% of the population of Colombia, white people from European descent form 26% of the population. The remaining people are American and Afro-Colombian. Let us find some useful information regarding travel to Colombia.
Travel Guide for Columbia
It is said that travelers to Colombia need to be vigilant, as the crime rate in this country is quite high. Kidnapping and homicide are the crimes that take place frequently. However, if the tourists visiting Colombia take some precautions, they are less likely to get into any kind of trouble. Let us keep aside the issue of violence for now, and look at the brighter side. Colombia is a country known for its rich natural resources and scenic beauty. The mountainous region in the vicinity of Bogota, Cali and Medellin are known to attract tourists. The Caribbean beaches of the east coast possess a great potential for development in the tourism sector. It is observed that elder citizens of this country blame the activities of drug trafficking and violence for the underdeveloped tourism industry. According to the people of Colombia, this region has great potential for the development of tourism.
Travel Tips for Tourists
Tourists from Europe and America can use Colombia’s national airline, Avianca (AV) for traveling to this country. The Bogotá (El Dorado International Airport) (BOG) is situated 8 miles to the east of this capital city of Colombia. One can make use of buses and taxis to travel to the heart of Bogota.
The banking services in Bogota and Cartagena take care of tourists’ needs . The tourists can use ATMs which, in most cases, are located inside the banks (for safety).
The country telephone code for Colombia is +57. Along with telephone centers, travelers can communicate via Internet cafes too. Hotels in the major cities also provide Internet services to their customers.
Tourists can purchase gold, platinum and other precious items, however, they have to present the proof of this purchase at the time of leaving the country. It is not allowed to take away pre-Colonial artifacts from this country.
It is important to take precautionary measures pertaining to healthcare before leaving for any foreign country. The environment in Colombia doesn’t pose any major health problem for tourists. However, getting a tetanus and hepatitis booster is always recommended.
The mannerism and etiquette of Colombians are greatly influenced by the Europeans. A handshake is commonly used for greeting. While traveling in public transport, people give up their seats for elderly citizens and women.
Popular Tourists Destinations
Here is some useful information on the tourist destinations in Colombia. There are many places one can visit in this country. The important Colombia vacation spots are given below.
This place lies in the downtown of Bogota. It is famous for the Baroque and Colonial architectural buildings. Important places to visit in La Candelaria are the Botero Museum, Colon Theater, Gold Museum, etc.
This place is famous for its beaches. The Walls of Cartagena too are worth visiting. Construction of these walls started in the 16th century, and was completed by the end of 18th century. Thickness of these walls is up to 20 meters.
The knowledge of dos and don’ts during a trip to Colombia should make you aware of the precautionary measures to be followed. Colombia is a beautiful country with all the natural resources it possesses. With a little bit of caution and vigilance, you can make your Colombia traveling experience risk-free and very enjoyable.
Central America, called a subcontinent under some definitions, can be roughly described as the region between the two continents, namely North and South America. It includes the states of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Belize, Panama, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic as well. All these destinations have in turn, multiple spots for you to visit. On the west of Central America lies the North Pacific Ocean, while on the east lies the Caribbean Sea, giving you some great options in respect to beaches.
Destinations in Costa Rica
Undoubtedly, you will find some of the best honeymoon destinations here, as the main industry of the Republic of Costa Rica is tourism, which also gives us an idea about the number of options we have here. The first thing you need to do, if you’re on a long holiday, is to visit all the 7 natural wonders of Costa Rica, which are Cocos Island, Arenal Volcano (Alajuela), Chirripo Mountain, Light Blue River, Tortuguero Canals, Poás Volcano and the Monteverde Reserve. At the Poás Volcano, the main attraction is the crater. Other attractions that make Costa Rica one of the best honeymoon destinations are the coffee plantations at Orosi Valley, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels, and Manuel Antonio National Park. The Cocos Island is an eco-tourism spot, nominated for the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
Destinations in El Salvador
El Salvador is the smallest country by area in Central America, but has some of the top honeymoon destinations. A country famous for its nightlife and numerous beaches, this should be your choice if you are looking for some absolute fun and nothing else. Every year, the country hosts a number of European and North American tourists. Some of the attractions you should visit together include the Coatepeque Lake, Laguna de Alegria and Moncagua (San Miguel). The beaches in El Salvador are renowned as Surfers Paradise, as they are among the top ten beaches globally, and have the best waves for surfing. Some of the best beaches here are La Libertad, Suchitoto, Playa Las Flores, Ruta Las Flores, Santa Ana, and La Palma. Also make sure you visit the village of Concepcion de Ataco and the San Diego Volcano.
Destinations in Belize
This is another nation were you will find some of the best honeymoon destinations in Central America. Although it is the northern most nation in Central America, Belize doesn’t get too many tourists as compared to its neighbor nations. If you’re looking for some peace and quiet, you should finalize coming down to this nation. It is the least populated country in all of Central America. Two major attractions here that you can’t afford to miss are the Great Blue Hole (Ambergris Caye) and the Ruins of Xunantunich (San Ignacio Town). Other places worth a visit are Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Reserve and Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Temple of the Masonry Altars, the highest temple pyramid of Altun Ha, is another wonderful tourist spot along with the archaeological site of Lamanai. While at Belize, don’t forget the Placencia Peninsula in Stann Creek District.
Some Other Destinations in Central America
While the ones mentioned above are some of the most unique and best honeymoon destinations, there are a few more, that might just interest you. The other nations in Central America may not have such a huge number of destinations, but they’re unique and globally renowned nonetheless. If you plan to visit Panama, do visit the numerous national parks it hosts, and of course, the Panama Canal, which is an example of exceptional engineering the world has ever seen. While in Guatemala, you can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Anitgua and the famous Mayan Ruins in Tikal. The Mombacho Volcano in Nicaragua, and the beaches in Honduras such as Roatan and Utila, are also worth a visit or a stay. A visit to Corn Island in Nicaragua is also a must.
These were some of the best honeymoon destinations in Central America, which you can research about more and then zero in on one. These top vacation spots in Central America offer you lots of adventure, some great time on the beaches, unique natural formations, a great diversity in flora and fauna, a mystic culture, and some great food cooked in world famous spices. It is perhaps the only subcontinent that has abundance in every aspect you can think of. Plan well ahead of time to make the most out of your trip.
Tourist Attractions in Puerto Rico
Rio Camuy Caves
In you are in a mood for a little bit of adventure, you have got to see these caves. Archaeologists discovered them in 1950s near Lares. They were made by Taino Indians, which were the indigenous tribe in the ancient region. These caves have huge deposits of limestone. There are over 220 caves and 17 entrances, which makes it the biggest network of caves in the world. These caves are also a home for 13 species of bats. An interesting fact about this location is that there are over 800 caves still left to be discovered. So, there’s quite a chance you might lead another exploration whilst you are on your tour!
If something relaxing and soothing is your idea of this Puerto Rican vacation, look no further. Lagoon Tortuguero, a natural water reserve, which is a home to over 700 species of plants is one of the places filled with views, which are sure to leave you looking for words! One can go hiking, kayaking and boating to see the diverse ecological reserve of this lagoon closely. If nothing else, watching the sunset at this lagoon is a totally enigmatic experience.
One cannot miss out on a lesson in history, while visiting Puerto Rico. The military base of Old San Juan, which was built in 1800 by the Spaniards after the Spanish-American war is a historical site worth a visit. Its Roman architecture, has been turned into an Institute of Puerto Rican culture. The historically significant place is a home to Puerto Rican art and culture.
Get a glimpse of Puerto Rican rainforest at El Yunque, which is elevated by the Rocky Mountains. Walk the lush green trails and climb a few peaks to experience the beautifully preserved rainforest. The forest is actually known as ‘Yuquiyu’, which means ‘Forest of Clouds’. Spanning over 28,000 acres, this place is home to 240 species of plants.
The literal translation of this island is ‘Snake Island’. It is named so, only because of its shape. This beautiful tourist destination has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Flamenco beach, which ranks number two amongst world’s exotic beaches is a must see. You can see some of the rare under water reefs by scuba diving at the beach.
Make sure you carry a camera along with you to capture the priceless moments you are likely to experience there. Puerto Rico is known as La Isla de Encanto, or the Island of Enchantment. With great weather and exceptionally well-maintained landscapes, a trip to this island is definitely going to be the most rewarding one. To experience the best of this place, visit the pubs and restaurants and befriend a few locals. There is no greater way to explore a place than doing it with the natives. Besides the places, try out the coastal cuisines and delicacies to get the real flavor of Puerto Rico!
Canada is a vast country with six different time zones. It is surrounded by the contrasting Pacific and Atlantic seaboards. It has many rivers and lakes that can satisfy your urge to do some fishing or enjoy water sports. It offers a variety of sightseeing options, ranging from the urban centers like Ottawa and Toronto to the lonely and isolated Eskimo regions alongside the frozen seashores of the Hudson Bay.
Besides, the Rocky Mountains provide some breathtaking views of the valleys below. Here are some of the happening places to visit, or things to do, which will serve as a guide to an exciting tour of this large country.
The capital city, Ottawa is famous for its historic Rideau Canal, which is connected to the Ottawa river. Also, the Parliament building is a historical monument worth paying a visit to. You will also get to see a perfect blend of traditional and modern art in the various museums across the city. The Canadian Museum of History is one of them. Many historical artifacts are preserved here, along with their background information. The National Gallery is one more place which has a magnificent collection of photographs, sculptures, and artwork of many famous artists such as the Group of Seven, Tom Thomson, Monet, Picasso, Renoir, Van Gogh, Bacon, etc. If you are a crazy shopper, especially one who loves outdoor shopping, then ByWard Market is the place for you. This market dates back to more than 200 years. With a cheerful atmosphere at any time of the day, this place is an absolute must-see.