Colombia Travel - All you need to know about Tayrona National Park

One of Colombia’s natural jewels, Tayrona National Park sits in the eastern part of the country’s Caribbean coastline and is predominantly composed of tropical rainforest, streaks of pristine white-sand beaches and exotic wildlife. And if that is not enough, Tayrona offers rewarding hikes and showcases one of the country’s most aboriginal, aka pre-colonial, cultures; easy to understand why it spearheads the country’s tourism charts and remains one of the must-see places in Colombia. Certainly, Tayrona deserves a place on any traveler’s list, especially nature-enthusiasts.Connect with Colombian travel experts who can maximize your experience on a well-customised Colombia trip that includes Tayrona and all its myriad attractions.OverviewSpanning around 15,000 hectares, of which 3,000 hectares is pure marine reserve, Tayrona National Park (a prominent highlight of Colombia) was established in 1964 by the Colombian government, but got its national park status only in 1969. With the motive of preserving and promoting the ecology and archaeology of the region, Tayrona is home to a humongous range of nature’s elements, from mangrove swamps to gorgeous beaches and a fascinating spectrum of wildlife.It is also home to another precious commodity, one of Colombia’s indigenous pre-Hispanic tribe called Koguis; a visit here will give you an invaluable opportunity to learn about the lifestyle and traditions of Colombia's forgotten tribal communities.Arriving at the parkSince Santa Marta is just 20 miles away from the park, it can be easily accessed by a bus or car. Alternatively, Tayrona can be reached even by a boat taken from the shores of Taganga. For entry purposes, foreign nationals are charged around 42,000 Colombian pesos (roughly around $14 USD), while Colombians are charged 16,000 Colombian pesos ($5.50 USD). Once inside the premises, you can either decide on hiking all the way to the beach or taking a van, which may set you back by an extra dollar.What to BringWater and food are available inside the park (though feel free to carry your own if you are particular). Since Tayrona demands a fair amount of hiking, quality hiking boots and a flashlight are highly recommended. For those planning to have a go at the pristine waters, pack your swim gear and snorkeling equipment, as there are hardly any renting options here.Important Note: Plastic bags and carrying your own alcoholic beverages are strictly prohibited inside the premises of Tayrona. However, once in the park there are plenty of cafes where you can chug a brew.Things to doHikingEditorial copyrights: Nicolas SoehlemannA major part of your park expedition will (and should) include hiking, notably to the El Pueblito and over the 9 Piedras hiking trails, both of which start from the glorious beach of Cabo San Juan. The hike towards El Pueblito is not easy; get ready for a serious trudge that can be hot (so start early to avoid the sweltering heat of the day), will need solid shoes with a good grip, and some basic clambering over rocks and boulders will be involved. It still gets high marks for the peace and serenity, and it leads you through villages of some of the nation’s oldest indigenous communities that have evolved and survived over countless generations, thus resembling a 'lost city' trapped in another time. The 9 Piedras (9 stones) hike leads you through more secluded trails (marked by egg-shaped stones), offering the best scenic views of the park’s hidden beaches.  SnorkelingMuch to the joy of the water-adventurers, Tayrona Park’s clear waters are popular all over the continent for offering overwhelming snorkeling opportunities. Grab your snorkeling gear and plunge into the sea off La Piscina and Cabo San Juan beaches (a 45-minute walk from each other), in the midst of the coral reefs and the flashy aquatic life of this splendid Caribbean coast.Important note: Snorkeling/swimming at many beaches (the Arrecifes being one) is prohibited as they are infamous for nasty currents, rip tides and violent waves.Nightly music entertainmentEnjoy your evening listening to the local musicians play traditional “vallenato” music at the Cabo San Juan campsite. The atmosphere is typical of the famous Colombian spirit of allegria, and the beach and the music seem to be made for each other. You will be expected to tip the musicians to keep them going and giving you your time (and money's) worth.Wildlife viewingTayrona’s stunning beaches may detract from its other very prominent attraction: its vast variety of wildlife that often goes unnoticed. Astonishingly, Tayrona is home to over 108 mammal species, 300 avian varieties and 31 species of reptiles, many of them indigenous to the region. Catch a glimpse of Jaguars, howler monkeys, iguanas, red woodpeckers and even the Andean condors that swoop in from the highlands.Star GazeIf spending moments of tranquility away from the busy, chaotic life and gazing at brightly lit stars of a pristine night sky are your thing, then an overnighter at Tayrona Park’s campsites (most notably, the Cabo San Juan beach) are certainly for you. Fall asleep swinging in a hammock and watching the beautiful Colombian night sky extending over the endless horizon as your hiked-out sore muscles get their well-deserved rest.AccommodationIf not tight on budget, spend your nights at the comfy beehive-shaped Ecohabs Tayrona Hotel, located on Canaveral beach, right next to the park entrance. By offering outstanding views of the ocean, cozy beds, access to great restaurants and Jacuzzi, the Ecohabs rooms sleep two, and start at $334 USD for a night.Budget travelers can opt for bringing or renting tents at the popular campsite of Cabo San Juan, costing around 18,000 Colombian pesos or $9 USD for a night. Aerial hammocks are available too on the elevated terraces, giving you a splendid view of the Caribbean coast (25,000 Colombian pesos or $12 USD).When to goAlthough Tayrona National Park can be best explored in the dry months of December to March amidst clear skies and sunny days, this is also the time when the park witnesses a massive footfall of tourists; to avoid the crowds, plann your trip in the shoulder season (May to November), and experience the complete flavor of Tayrona.Start planning your itinerary with a travel expert here. 

Colombia Travel - Bogota City Guide (Things to Do and Places to See)

Colombia has so many traveler highlights, that for many Bogota just becomes a point of transit. But in reality, it's probably one of the nicest places to plan a trip around, visit and spend time in.Even if you only have a day to spare, by all means make the most of it and enjoy a city that rewards travelers who know where to look and never disappoints those who just turn up hoping for the best. From taking leisurely walks around the city center, to exploring the picturesque mountain terrain it is built on, to trying out delicious local food. there are plenty of things to do and see in a city which is nowhere as dangerous now as it was once upon a time. To get the best out of this vibrant city, connect with a local Colombian travel expert who can create the perfect itinerary for you. OverviewBogota, the capital city of Columbia is an ideal destination for sightseeing, food and fun if you know where to look. The city has an interesting blend of modern and colonial architecture; the northern end is where you can find the modern posh buildings, clean parks, tudor style homes, plenty of trendy restaurants and vibrant night-life. The centre  of the city is where the heart of Colombia’s culture lies, in the colonial neighbourhood of La Candelaria. Note: Tourists should avoid the south as it is still slightly unsettled, with a lot of poverty (most locals would agree with that, too). When to goAnytime is the best time to visit Bogota. However, if you are more of an adventurer, then we strongly recommend between January and March; that’s the peak season and also the driest time of the year, with ideal temperatures to hike up to the top of Cerro de Monserrate for a scenic view. In March, you will be able to catch the Ibero-American Theater Festival, possibly the largest performing arts festival in the world.You can even visit this city between the months of July and August; it's that time of the year when the annual Bogota Carnival takes place to celebrate the establishment of this historic city. Find yourself rejoicing in all the street parties, street-theater and puppetry; you even see animated locals narrating ancient folklores. All in all, it's a festive mood you can easily lose yourself in. Even if you miss the carnival there are plenty of small events and happenings hosted throughout the period between July and August to enjoy. It is only from September to November that the season slacks off a little. The temperature stays the same, but these months are Colombia’s wettest, so it wouldn't hurt to carry a raincoat.Important Note: If you are visiting Bogota during Holy Week, specifically for the Easter festival (held tentatively in March or April), be sure to book well in advance (at least 6-8 months).How to get around:Spend 2 minutes on the streets of Bogota, and you will quickly come to terms with the chaotic nature of the city’s traffic. It is strongly recommended to travel with a local guide in a hired taxi; they are your best bet to get around the hustle-bustle of this buzzing metropolis. If you decide to tour the city on your own, you can look out for local cabs; if you know where to go and can speak broken Spanish, you’ll do just fine!bodypspanspanspanspanDisable rich-textMore information about text formatsText format Filtered HTMLFull HTMLPlain textWeb page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.Editorial Copyrights: Julian Rotela RosowAlternatively, if you have fewer pesos to throw away, take a ride in one of the collectivo buses that stampede like large elephants through a herd of mini cabs and motorcycles. Less attractive and more of an adventurous experience, a ride in a cramped-up collectivo bus is only recommended for those who can leave any thought of luxury behind for a brief moment and enjoy the prospect of thrilling ride.Your third option is to take Bogota’s large transit system called Trans-Milenio. If you purchase a daily pass and enter one of the platforms, you will be reminded of any subway station in the west—except the the station is above ground level and utilizes large, red buses. At the platform you will find maps and timetables to plan your journey accordingly. Just make sure you avoid taking a Trans-Milenio during rush-hour, it’s extremely crowded and you will find yourself jammed inside a jungle of human limbs.Things to do:It is important to understand that Bogata is an enormous city, both in terms of size and demographics. Around 8 million people inhabit this city, and with the increasing demands of a growing population, the city is stretching itself far and wide, with many of the constructions low cost residential buildings. Apart from those and the few dramatic skyscrapers, the major chunk of the city retains its rich colonial heritage. Finding accommodation downtown would be your best bet, as most of the city's action happens there. And if you're feeling adventurous, you could hit the gorgeous hiking trails that proliferate all over the surrounding hillsides.Cerro de Monserrate What really dominates the skyline of Bogota is the mountain of Cerro de Monserrate; the view from the summit is one to die for, as you can see all of downtown and south Bogotá, and even large parts of the north. If you don’t fancy hiking, there are a couple of other ways ways to reach the top of the mountain, including cable car and funicular railway. Museo de Oro There are plenty of museums in Bogota, and no doubt, all of them are equally significant in terms of fascinating artifacts and ageless treasures. But one place worth mentioning is the Museo de Oro, popularly known as The Gold Museum (also a key highlight of Colombia). It houses roughly up to 34,000 stunning pieces of golden artwork from the 13 pre-Hispanic civilizations, along with detailed information boards that explain the history and culture of local people in the pre-colonization period. The entrance fee is inexpensive, but for history-lovers, the education and learning are invaluable.Walking Tour of La CandelariaLa Candelaria is a historic neighborhood located in the city's downtown and it proudly boasts some of the most popular museums and attractions. Take a tour and you will observe a striking contrast between old and modern Bogota. The beautiful buildings depict Spanish colonial architecture in every brick, while you can find some of the most unique graffiti murals on the streets. If you wish to connect deeply with a particular city, then walking tours are probably your best bet. Your chosen travel experts will take you around the town so that you can march in celebratory parades, dance on the street, drank chicha from street vendors, and most importantly enjoy some genuine cultural exchange. The locals are warm and welcoming and there are numerous free events that you can participate in. Experience Plaza BolivarPlaza Bolivar is Bogotá’s biggest plaza, and also considered to be the center of the city. It is home to the very first cathedral in Colombia and also houses many government buildings. The place is always buzzing with frequent events, protests and concerts.Biking Tour of the City Touring Bogota on a bike makes so much sense since there’s so much ground to cover, and it’s truly fun and educational, not to mention a great workout. Each tour lasts up to 4-5 hours covering all the major highlights of the city. If you choose to try out this fun-filled experience, our travel operators will hook you up with the best biking companies in town. Your chosen guide will not only show you the plazas, beautiful parks and historical monuments of Bogota, but you will also learn more about the culture, troubled past and current political situation of this beautiful nation. Try 6 Colombian FruitsFrom left: Mangostino, Guayaba Manzana, Lulo, Maracuya, Uchuva and FeijoaColombia has a large collection of fruits which you’ve probably never heard of, or that look like nothing you may have ever seen before. In Bogota, we highly recommend either buying or tasting a few of these unique fruits in the local market of Paloquemao. If you think it’s good and if more is better; make yourself a refreshing drink, or try making your own exotic fruit salad (our travel operators can arrange a food tour and encourage you to participate in cooking classes). Explore Colombia’s Coffee CultureEditorial Copyrights: Banco de Fotos SENA 2011.In Colombia, coffee and culture go hand in hand. Not only is Colombian coffee is famous throughout the world,the locals never hesitate to wax eloquent about their love for this beverage. They aren’t just growing and roasting coffee here; the locals have actually have mastered the art of enjoying it. Walk into any barista or coffeehouse and anyone will tell you all about the specific origin and type of beans that determine the overall flavor.Editorial Copyrights: DOCUGLAM + FASHION ACTITUDEditorial Copyrights: DOCUGLAM + FASHION ACTITUDWe strongly recommend you to stop by at Cafe Cultor in Chapinero (ideal for English speakers). If you are looking for a fun and lighthearted experience, we urge you to flock to a couple of coffee shops, like Amor Perfecto in Zona G and Catacion Publica in Usaquen; these are great places to work, meet locals, or just enjoy people-watching (if you like doing that!).Eat and Party at Andrés Carne de ResEditorial Copyrights: David BerkowitzEditorial Copyrights: Grace LilloEditorial Copyrights: David BerkowitzLocated in Chia, just on the outskirts of Bogota, the Andrés Carne de Res is an exclusive restaurant-turned-nightlife venue.  It’s the go-to party place for everybody (especially families). Inside, you will be teleported to a world filled with walls covered in recycled ornaments, hand-painted signs and autographed posters. The intricate details incorporated in the décor makes the place even more special; there is something to be discovered in every inch of the venue. Spend the night eating delicious traditional Colombian foods and dance to foot-tapping beats. Shop at the Local Street MarketAny tour of Bogota is incomplete without shopping at the local street markets for artisanal souvenirs. One such notable mention is the Usaquen market, a weekly affair held every Sunday in the Usaquen colonial district, where locals sell artisan products, handmade goods, souvenirs, and a variety of other products of historic significance. You can even find local musicians performing melodious Latino tunes for your amusement while you’re shopping.If you’re in downtown Bogota, head to the daily market of San Victorinio, located near the city’s La Candelaria neighborhood. Here you can find anything imaginable, from eateries, trendy local clothing and all kinds of local artisan-work.Plan your customised itinerary for a tour of Bogata here. 

Colombia Travel: Beyond Narcos, the Must-visit places in Colombia

Just a couple of decades ago, Colombia was regarded as one of the most unsafe countries in the world, and did not feature on any traveler’s map. Recently, this Latin American beauty has reinvented itself into a major tourism hotspot, all thanks to resolvement of political issues and concerted efforts to make its cities safe. From the bustling megapolises of Bogota and Medellin, to the pictorial landscapes of the coffee fields and the dramatic sun-kissed Caribbean coasts, Colombia’s versatility knows no bounds in charming its visitors.Just a note here: Colombia is still very much a work in progress, and to ensure that you have the best and safest time possible, it always helps to connect with a Colombian travel expert who is best poised to make your vacation a dream one and have you coming back for more.Considering Colombia’s vast menu of attractions, it is easier said than done to see and visit everything and everywhere. Below is a list of the unmissables.MedellinOnce dubbed the most threatening city in the world, Medellin has finally got rid of its notoriety and become one of the tourism gems of the country. The city is developing exponentially, the art scene is thriving, and bars and restaurants are bursting with life. Medellin links its settlements in its hills via scenic cable cars (with incredible views, no less), and boasts a very modern city life with towering skyscrapers and chain of lush eco parks. On your trip to Medellin, don't miss Plaza Botero, home to the famed Museum of Antioquia, and also Fernando Botero's full-bodied, larger-than-life sculptures strewn all over. Vist the city’s trendiest locale of El Poblado, where you will find great restaurants, boutique shops, and a vibrant nightlife.GuatapeA two-hour drive from Medellin will bring you to the colorful old little town of Guatape. Apart from the absolutely delightful architecture and quirky colors that make the place come alive, what draws visitors here is La Piedra del Penol, a 650-foot, 10-million ton massive rock formation that provides unparalleled views from its peak, justifying its tag, “the best view in the world”, proudly given to it by the locals. The rock has a complex network of stairs (740 steps) helping their visitors to reach the top and gaze out at the beautiful lakes with a backdrop of mountains over an endless horizon. Undoubtedly, Guatape makes a perfect destination for a day escape from Medellin and should be a must on your list.CaliThe third largest city in Colombia, Cali, has been officially designated the “salsa capital of the word”; here's a priceless opportunity to take those lessons you've always wanted to, and it's great fun for kids too.Cali has that feel of non-stop alegria in its streets with street-musicians, dancers and quaint and bustling bars, and it arguably hosts the country’s best nightlife. Take the kids to Cali Zoo; it's the finest in the country, it has a solid conservation theme, and it serves to educate and inform (and this is from people who hate the very idea of zoos in the first place).San AgustinSan Agustin is an otherworldly town in the Andes region of western Colombia. It is surrounded by fascinating landscapes that showcase the remains of an ancient pre-Columbian civilization. This archaeological park is home to the 'Forest of Statues'; there are over 500 monolith structures, petroglyphs and stone carvings of smiling human figures and scornful monsters dating back to between 100 A.D. and 1200 A.D.  CartagenaThe city that always kept its nose clean, even in Colombia's most violent times, and was always the poster-child of its tourism industry. Located on the Caribbean coast, Cartagena is the perfect example of colonial charm. Being Colombia’s second oldest city, it was the prime center for Spanish colonial trade, and was thus heavily fortified, which still can be seen today. On your visit, take time to wander around the cobbled streets of the Ciudad Amurallada (the walled city) and soak in its resplendent colonial architecture that includes museums, churches and grand palaces. In the evenings, head out to the pristine white sand beach of Playa Blanca for a splendid sunset view. And don't stop there: charter a boat to explore the wonders of the magnificent Rosario Islands, an archipelago of 27 small islands. Caution: Some have very small beaches and are crowded, and there are some beaches that are very touristy, with lots of vendors that may bother travlers. The key thing is to go a little farther, or get guidance on where to avoid crowds. Hence, renting a boat and heading out to hotels/resorts that offer delightful Colombian (and other) cuisines, and which have controlled beach access is important.Tayrona National ParkSpeaking of beaches, if spending hours under coconut trees is your idea of relaxing, then Tayrona is the place for you. Situated on the northern coast of the country, Tayrona National Park, a fascinating jungle-beach combo of natural beauty, is a must-see for nature lovers and birdwatchers.Tayrona is also a best bet for adventure lovers; there are great snorkeling opportunities and for hiking/mountain biking the jungles and mountainscapes. Learn more about it here.Valley de Cocora/ SalentoSince Colombia is on the list of the top coffee producing nations (after Brazil and Vietnam), your trip will surely be incomplete without stopping over at the Valley de Cocora in the country’s coffee triangle. This immense valley, triangulated by the vibrant towns of Pereira, Armenia and Manizales, presents travelers with breathtaking views of lush nature, making it the perfect choice for a rewarding hike. And yes, Valley de Cocora houses the world’s tallest wax palm trees shooting upwards of 200 feet into the sky. Also located within the triangle is the small coffee-producing town of Salento. Home to numerous coffee plantations, you can learn the aromatic art of coffee making and dig into the delicious local Colombian-Andean cuisine.San Andres y Providencia IslandsSan Andres and Providencia are two Caribbean islands, historically tied to the UK and polotically to Colombia. They're about 500 miles away to the north, and can be reached through a 3-hour flight from the country’s mainland. Well worth it, as they have been declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Although both these beaches are picture perfect in their own way, San Andres is more popular for its clear sparkling waters and snorkeling adventures, while Providencia is lined with deserted beaches giving you a perfect spot for enjoying your personal time with your family (or enjoying solitude).  Lost City of TeyunaUndoubtedly Colombia’s most popular and exhilarating hike is the four-day 44- kilometer hike to Ciudad Perdida,  most commonly known as the “Lost City” of Teyuna. Snug in the lap of the Sierra Nevada mountains, this age-old civilization was first constructed in 800 A.D. (650 years before Machu Pichu) but was only unearthed in 1972. Unfortunately, much of the remains of the site are still buried underneath the dense forest cover, but the stone terraces and stairways are still accessible and in an outstanding state. This four-day trek through the unspoiled rainforest, rivers and waterfalls is an experience of a lifetime, which shouldn’t be missed while in Colombia, particularly for the adventurous traveler.BogotaOne of the largest cities in South America and also Colombia’s capital, Bogota, has heaps of attractions to draw every stripe of curious traveler. Home to over 8 million happy citizens, Bogota is located at 8,660 feet in the Andes and impresses its visitors with its unique blend of both, colonial charm and urban civilization. Begin your trip in the historic district of La Candelaria, well-known for its colonial-style buildings, cafes and the very famed Museum of Gold. Spend your evening in the upscale neighborhoods of North Bogota, where you can shop at country’s best boutique markets and dine at the finest of restaurants. Start planning your itinerary with an expert here, and embark on your journey to Colombia, adding some awe-inspiring moments to your memory book!

Africa Travel: Things to do at Victoria Falls

Regarded as one of Africa's prominent adventure destinations, Victoria Falls (also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, translated as "the smoke that thunders") is also one of the world's most dazzling spectacles. Acting as a natural border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, this African masterpiece was discovered by British explorer David Livingstone in 1855. Victoria Falls attracts adventure tourists of all descriptions through its vast array of exciting activities ranging from helicopter rides to peeking over its edge from the Devil's Pool.Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or a recreational traveler, connect with our Southern Africa travel experts and head over to the Falls, where you are sure to tick off several items from your bucket list.Whitewater Rafting on the Zambezi RiverGraded 5 by the British Canoe Union, you can safely assume that rafting the restless Zambezi River is not a piece of cake, but what you can be assured of is a thrilling and unforgettable experience. Stretching over a distance of 15 miles with 18 fearsome rapids, witness your adrenaline hit its peak when you cascade down the 25 feet of the Stairway to Heaven rapid, or plough through the aggressive froth of Oblivion, not failing to mention the notorious Commercial Suicide rapid, graded 5 on the difficulty scale.Be rest assured that the operators on the Zambezi are top-notch world class, and have never had an accident. Just get ready for the maddest thrill of your life. Editorial copyrights: Kasia WallisThe best time to go for rafting on the Zambezi would be in the months between February and July when the water levels are low.Flight of Angels- Helicopter Flight Over the Victoria FallsThere is no better way to grasp the majesty of Victoria Falls than to fly overhead by chopper. Soar high above and get mesmerized by breathtaking aerial views of one of the largest falls in Africa tearing through the landscape, along with some excellent game viewing over the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park on your 30-minute flight. Assuredly, flying over this nature’s gem is the best way to soak in its sheer beauty, which is worth every penny.Plunge into the Devil’s PoolEditorial copyrights: russjgagnonOnly done during the dry months of September to December, or when the water levels are low enough to ensure safety, diving into the Devil’s Pool is an experience unlike any other. Fringed by sturdy rocks on the very brink of the falls, the Devil’s Pool can be accessed by taking a boat to Livingstone Island from where a small hike over the rocks will lead you to this natural bathing pool. Once in the pool, swim over to the very edge for that once-in-a-lifetime view of an angry column of water crashing down from a staggering height of 350 feet.Bungee JumpingApart from whitewater rafting, the gigantic 360 foot free-fall bungee dive situated on the Victoria Falls Bridge (Zambia Side) is another such adrenaline-spiking activity this place has to offer. Take a deep breath, widen your arms and plunge to just above the rapids of the Zambezi River below. Astonishingly, more than 50,000 people have leaped over this bridge with a 100% safety record. With a scenic backdrop of the falls and the roaring Zambezi river below, this bungee jump probably ranks highest in sheer dramatic heart-pumping beauty.Crocodile cage divingEditorial copyrights: James BowlerLocated amidst Victoria Falls Town, Crocodile Cage Diving is another such exceptional experience this part of Africa has to offer. Divers can have a real close encounter with these ferocious predators by getting ridiculously up-close with their prehistoric bodies and frightening jaws in their own element. Designed for 2-4 people per cage, Crocodile Cage Diving gives you a fulfilling 360 degree up close view of these amazing reptiles.Elephant-back Safari and Walking With LionsEditorial copyrights: Mike GaddIn the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve a few kilometers outside the Victoria Falls, you can have the time of your life exploring the African savannah on an exciting Elephant Safari. Every elephant is equipped with a personal Induna (elephant handler), and you can have some worthy moments by touching, feeding and bonding with these gentle giants. Another similar experience worth your time would be taking a walk and getting personal with the lions in the Zambezi National Park, where you will learn about their habitats and behavior from a trained (and armed) guide and handler. If you are lucky, you might even see a hunt go down before your eyes. Don’t fail to leave without a photograph with the Kings of the jungle.Go on a Sunset River CruiseAfter an action-packed day, take a cruise on the Zambezi river with a view of the spectacular sunset, a perfect way to unwind and relax. Soak in views of prime game like hippos, giraffes, antelopes and possibly big cats along the banks of the river, with a variety of birds gliding overhead.  Have dinner at the Boma RestaurantEditorial copyrights: Rex HarrisFor a sensational African experience, head over to the Boma Restaurant on the Zimbabwean side of the Victoria Falls, where you can feast upon traditional African cuisine. The guests are greeted with chitenges (traditional robes) and then served delicious Zimbabwean dishes including Kudu, Impala or the more conventional beef, pork and chicken. Editorial copyrights: Hans-Dieter VeselyThroughout your meal, you will be accompanied by the traditional dancing, singing and drumming session showcasing you the cultural heritage of this part of the continent.Start tailoring your own itinerary here and don’t miss out adding Victoria Falls in your African expedition.

Iceland Travel: Golden Circle Highlights, Thingvellir National Park

If you have time to spare, you might plan an Iceland trip in a way that will include a lay-over at the Thingvellir National Park. Opened in 1930, the park has been named a World Heritage Site, with good reason: its glorious history dates back to the end of the first millennium, and it has a story to tell through its rich geography as well.What makes the Thingvellir National Park different from the other national parks in Iceland? What are the things one can see and do?Although this guide should answer most of your questions, do involve a seasoned travel operator in Iceland who can show you around this historic and geological masterpiece, in order to maximize your travel experience.OverviewPerhaps Iceland’s most historic and sought after highlight of the Golden Circle, the Vikings established the first parliament on the very location that houses the national park today.  And if you consider the area’s unique geology, there is no surprise why the Icelandic chieftains decided to choose this remarkable place as the natural conclave for their annual proceedings. Apart from its historic interest, Thingvellir is also an ideal place for nature lovers and its vast landscape sits perfectly along the border between the North American and European tectonic plates.Book a tourThere is the option of both guided and self-guided tours of the park; with so much to see and do in Thingvellir, it becomes difficult to accommodate all the activities in a day. For a better experience, have your travel experts book a self-guided tour and the best possible accommodation in or around the region, so that you enjoy everything this wonderful site has to offer. How to get thereThe Thingvellir National Park is located within an hour's drive from the Reykjavík. Follow Vesturlandsvegur and Þingvallavegur to Suðurland for 24 miles and follow the signs. Alternatively you can drive through the ring road north out of Reykjavik and passing the residential town of Mosfellsbaer.How to get aroundWith no exception, walking is the only way to get around Thingvellir National Park. Since most of the major attractions are located within close proximity of each other (and near the parking lot), it just makes sense covering the national park on foot.  Things to see and do:Thingvellir ChurchKick start your Thingvellir adventure by soaking in the vibe of this historic location (by far the most popular site in the national park). Though the church was built in the 19th century, its exact location coincides with what was the national parliament of Iceland a millennium ago. Small in size, but no less beautiful for it, the church, because of its warm wooden interior, feels more like a homely chalet in a snow-capped landscape than a house of worship.You can even find a modest cemetery near the church which shelters around 30 graves, a great place for solitude amongst a handful of souls buried in their final resting place.Visitor (Information) CenterEditorial Copyrights: PeterOnce you check-in into the national park, have a look inside the state-of-the-art Visitor Centre, probably the best place to get acquainted with an overview of the history and nature of Thingvellir and its surroundings via interactive multimedia on large TV monitors that play a variety of illustrative video and audio material.Editorial Copyrights: dolbexThe exhibition is designed to make matters easy for visitors via a handy touch screen. You can even choose the language of narration (and subtitles) from a selection of 5 languages: Danish, English, German, French and Icelandic.Thingvellir tectonic platesThere is no secret that Thingvellir is known for its bizarre tectonic and volcanic environment. You can clearly see the continental drift in the cracks/faults throughout the region. It’s the only place on the planet where the rift is above sea-level, with the visible edges of both plates right drifting apart right there before your eyes (albeit too slow to see with the naked eye).You can catch the easternmost edge of the North American plate at Almannagja as it arises from the Atlantic Ocean, and view the westernmost edge of the Eurasian plate at the Heidargja Gorge. You are welcome to walk alongside both of these plates and learn how these plates are drifting apart at a rate of an inch a year!Öxarárfoss waterfallCheck out the beauty of the Öxarárfoss waterfall, certainly not the regions's largest or most powerful, but definitely one worth visiting. Some people claim it was artificially formed due to a water diversion several centuries ago to provide better access to drinking water for the political assemblies.The waterfall can be accessed by a short walk from the parking area on the eastern end of the fault line. You can also find a nice pathway and viewing deck if you don't wish to get too close.CampingSince there is no option of lodging inside the park, we wholeheartedly recommend you to pitch your own tent if you wish to stay longer; it’s the best way to see the magnificent scenery of the National park (especially during summer). The park rangers look after and maintain these impeccable campsites, so that you get the best experience possible.Editorial Copyrights: Dave GingrichThere are only two campsites in the entire park. The first one is at Leirar, which is located within a 5 minute walking distance from the Information Center; you can find the second site at Vatnskot, by Lake Thingvallavatn.Important Note: Make sure you collect your camping and angling permits from the Information Center on arrival.Go Hiking There are numerous trails that traverse the park, so you will have plenty of opportunities for hiking. From ancient meeting places to abandoned farms, it’s a great way to escape from the usual touristy paths to find some unbelievable fault lines and enchanting landscapes.Grab yourself a map and make yourself some extra time to hike around. Nothing is terribly taxing here; decent hiking shoes will enable navigation through any of the unpaved trails with comparative ease.Lake ThingvallavatnIf you head to the southern edge of Thingvellir, you will find Lake Thingvallavatn (the largest natural lake in Iceland). The area around the lake is very geologically active; you will find lava fields stretching away from the lake to the north, where the many fissures in lava make for great snorkeling (yes, a dry suit may be required, unless you possess Viking skin). Or you can even don a dry suit and take this opportunity to scuba-dive between tectonic plates which separate two continents and explore the underwater world of wonder and beauty. If you wish to partake in this adventurous activity, have your travel experts hook you up with instructors and guides.  The lake also boasts two islands whose volcanic origins are clearly evident. And the water is brimming with fresh water trouts and the arctic char (a cold-water fish in the family Salmonidae, native to alpine lakes and arctic and subarctic coastal waters), so don’t wait for a formal invitation to go fishing in the lake.Where to EatFor travelers craving for close-to-home comfort food, the service center at the national park houses a small café where you can find hot dogs, soft drinks, sandwiches, cookies, ice cream and candy. If you’re looking to try something local and authentic, there are few cafes/book-shops, located a few kilometers past the visitor information center.Plan and customise your Iceland trip here, and make sure to include a tour of this historic and sceanic natonal park of Iceland. 

Peru Travel: A Guide to Lake Titicaca

Peru is largely considered THE most quintessential destination for any traveler who wants to experience striking diversity ranging from staggering mountain ranges and ancient rainforests to the ruins of bygone civilizations. While Machu Picchu may be the most-visited destination in Peru, no trip to Peru should be considered complete unless you make the calm and majestic Lake Titicaca a part of your itinerary (which also happens to be the world's highest navigable water body).A Peru travel expert will happily customize this experience for you. And below are all the reasons why you should insist on it, to make your Peruvian experience whole.Acting as a natural border between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is not only South America's largest lake, but also the world's highest navigable water body at a soaring 12,500 feet above sea level. Usually still and mellow, the deep blue water reflects the vast sky back on itself, and all along the horizon the massive Andes crane their necks towards a limitless sky. According to the Inca mythology, Lake Titicaca is considered the birthplace of the sun, and there are many unexplained ancient sayings declaring it the source of life's origins. In recent times, there has been the discovery of a large temple roughly the size of two football fields, estimated to be 1000-1500 years old, submerged in the lake and adding to its appeal and enigma. Apart from dazzling travelers with its tranquility and sheer beauty, Lake Titicaca is also known to house some aquatic and terrestrial species which are found nowhere else on Earth.  Editorial copyrights: Brad WilsonEndemic to the region is the giant Lake Titicaca Frog (Telmatobius coleus), whose skin is illusorily large compared to its body, and is one of the more exotic species of this place. Lake Titicaca also boasts a strong bird population, and is said to house more than 60 species ranging from Cormorant, Totorero to the Chilean flamingo. Because of high altitude and extreme temperatures, the menagerie of mammals is less. You can expect to catch a glimpse of Vizcacha (rodent in the chinchilla family), wild guinea pig, Andean wild wolf and the Llamas while visiting this inland sea.  Sights and attractions:Uros Islands: The resident families of these "Floating Islands" welcome travelers to their abodes as they step off on the soft, springy man-made island surface. The main building blocks of the islands and their homes are the Torta reeds, and the locals will proudly explain how they weave their reeds to build thatched homes, furniture, and their canoe-style boats. Editorial copyrights: /Shutterstock.comAmantani Island: Regarded as the most attractive of all the inhabited islands on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, Amantani attracts scores of curious travelers with its undeniable beauty. For dazzling views of sunrises and sunsets, visit the mountain top temples of Pacha Mama and Pacha Tata; there are truly few sunsets like an Andean sunset. Isla del Sol: Considered the mythical birthplace of the Incas, this island is on the Bolivian side and known for its ruins of a holy complex for ancient Inca priests called the "The Labyrinth". For those who want to step back in time (no cars) and catch a glimpse of locals walking past in traditional dress, along with lamas and alpacas, this is the place to be. Puno: Although not geographically located on Lake Titicaca, this folklore capital of Peru is proximately 45 miles away and is famous for its thumping festivals and raucous music-and-dancing-in-the-streets through Puno Week (November) and the Virgen de la Candelaria festivities (February). Every traveler to Lake Titicaca around Puno Week should do a stop-over here and feel the liveliness and charm of the energetic masked dancers winding their way through the city's narrow streets, portraying Peru's culture and history through song and dance. Editorial copyrights: /Shutterstock.com   Best Time To Visit: In the months of April and May after the end of rainy season; the weather is pleasant and there are fewer crowds too and thus travelers can avoid the rush. During these beautiful months, the view around Lake Titicaca is electrifying as the landscape comes alive with blooming flowers.Contact a travel expert here to include the Lake Titicaca experience into your itinerary.