Monthly Archives: November 2016

Best coastal hikes

Whether you’re looking for a single day hike or a whole vacation’s worth of walking, you’ll find it here. To avoid heat, crowds and high prices, come in spring (April–June) or early autumn (September–October).

 

Stromboli, Aeolian Islands

Start/End: Stromboli town | Length: 8km | Duration: five to six hours | Difficulty: moderate-demanding

For sheer excitement, nothing compares to Stromboli. Sicily’s showiest volcanic island has been lighting up the Mediterranean for millennia, spewing out showers of red-hot rock with remarkable regularity since the age of Odysseus.

Set off a couple of hours before sunset for the spectacularly scenic trek (guide required) to Stromboli’s 924m summit. Climbing through a landscape of yellow broom and wild capers, the trail eventually opens onto bare slopes of black volcanic rock, revealing fabulous vistas of Stromboli town, the sparkling sea and the volcanic islet of Strombolicchio below, and a zigzag line of fellow hikers slogging steadily towards the summit above.

Round the last bend and emerge into a surreal panorama of smouldering craters framed by the setting sun. For the next hour you’re treated to full-on views of Stromboli’s pyrotechnics from a perfect vantage point above the craters. The periodic eruptions grow ever brighter against the darkening sky, changing with the waning light from awe-inspiring puffs of grey smoke to fountains of brilliant orange-red, evoking oohs and aahs that mix with the sound of sizzling hot rocks rolling down the mountainside.

Ready for one last moment of magic? Don your headlamp for the descent and begin plunging down Stromboli’s precipitous eastern slope, with the moonlit sea at your feet stretching clear to the twinkling lights of Italy’s mainland.

 

Fossa delle Felci, Salina, Aeolian Islands

Start/End: Valdichiesa | Length: 4km | Duration: three hours | Difficulty: moderate-demanding

The ancient Greeks dubbed this island Didyme (the twins) for its verdant pair of dormant volcanoes. These days Salina remains the Aeolian Islands’ greenest island, dotted with wineries that produce the region’s renowned Malvasia wine. For sweeping views of the vineyards and the surrounding seascape, climb Salina’s highest peak, Fossa delle Felci (962m).

BEST CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS IS TRAVELLING

We all have that one person in our lives that is a nightmare to go shopping for. They are either too picky, have everything or you just don’t have enough in common to really come up with that perfect gift idea that isn’t going to end up in the trash three days after you have gone home.

If you can’t think of a physical thing to buy, what about an experience? Here are a few ideas from us for expereicnes you can buy as a present this Christmas. Each of these tours comes with a gift card option allowing someone to pick a day that suits them.

 

SEA KAYAKING AROUND HOBART

Tasmania is one of the best coastal destinations in Australia with a huge variety of easily accessible coastlines with stunning beaches and huge sea cliffs to explore.

Roaring 40’s is an award winning Sea Kayaking company that runs both day tours and multi day expeditions in the South West of Tasmania. Around Hobart they offer a variety of day tour options perfect for beginner to moderate ability paddlers that allow you to get up close to sea cliffs and see our local wildlife such as sea eagles, seals and dolphins.

 

CANYONING AT CRADLE MOUNTAIN

Cradle Mountain is one of the most visited spots in Tasmania with heaps to see and do all year round. Over the summer months one of the most popular tours are those run by Cradle Mountain Canyons. They run a massive eight hour canyoning tour exploring the amazing Dove Canyon (15+) as well as a more family friendly Lost World Canyon tour too. If you are buying for someone with an adventurous spirit then we can not recommend the Dove Canyon tour enough.

Wildlife and nature

Brrrrrrr! It’s not warm in the Himalayan heights of northwest Indiaright now (days around 21°F; -6°C). But it’s worth braving the cold for a couple of very special experiences. Wildlife fans should head for Hemis National Park, home to a 400-year-old monastery, and one of the few places on the planet where the elusive snow leopard isn’t quite so elusive. During winter mating season – which peaks in February – the high-dwelling big cats descend to the valleys here to find mates, making them easier to spot. Alternatively, trekkers can check out the Chadar. This challenging winter hike starts near Leh, and uses the frozen Zanskar River as its path – walking on this icy meander is the only way to access the highland villages at this time. February is when the ice is at its most stable; the temperature is biting, but the snow-cloaked mountains spectacular.

  • Trip plan: Fly to Leh. Hemis is 6 miles (10 km) south, where guided treks in the Tarbuns Valley may yield leopards. The Chadar hike starts in Chilling, 40 miles (65 km) from Leh, and takes six days.
  • Need to know: Leh is at 11,483ft (3500m) so stay well-hydrated to help altitude acclimatisation.
  • Other months: Nov-Mar – cold, snowy (Jan-Feb: Chadar possible); Apr-May & Oct – quiet, cool; Jun-Sep – best for regular trekking.

Visit Michoacán’s forests on a sunny February morning and you’ll witness an astonishing spectacle: hundreds of millions of orange-black wings flexing then fluttering as vast clouds of monarch butterflies take to the air. Each winter up to a billion of these incredible insects migrate thousands of miles from northeastern North America to the warmer climes of Mexico, specifically, Michoacán Province’s Oyamel fir forests, some of which are now protected as the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve; head to the El Rosario or Sierra Chincua sections. Here the monarchs breed before returning to their summer grounds far, far to the north.

  • Trip plan: The butterfly reserves can be visited on a day trip from Mexico City or Morelia, but better to stay nearby, perhaps in Angangueo or Zitácuaro. Another option is a clockwise circuit from Mexico City, taking in the butterflies, the colonial charm of Morelia, artsy San Miguel de Allende and the Toltec/ Aztec pyramid site of Tula.
  • Need to know: Wildlife fans travelling now could combine butterflies with whales – either humpbacks off Puerto Vallarta (Pacific Coast) or grey whales off Baja California.
  • Other months: Oct-Apr – butterflies present; May-Sep – wetter season, hot.

SOUTH WEST TASMANIA

Flying is the easiest and one of the most scenic ways to explore the South West and provides you with an amazing aerial view of the peaks around the South West and the amazing coastline. Par Avion run regular flights between Hobart and Melaleuca with options for both a half and full day trip into the South West that includes the a boat ride around Melaleuca inlet with opportunities to spot rare wildlife such as the Orange Bellied Parrot.

 

SEA KAYAKING IN THE SOUTH WEST

Sea Kayaking is one of the best ways to explore the waterways around Bathurst Harbour and the South West wilderness. Kayaking allows you to get up close to wild life and explore where powered vehicles can’t go.

Roaring 40s run three and seven day trips in the South West that include scenic flights in and out, equipment, meals and accommodation utilising both specially designed huts and spacious tents. Trips run throughout the summer months.

 

EXPLORE THE TARKINE

The Tarkine is one of Tasmania’s natural marvels and the largest temperate rainforest in the Southern Hemisphere. The Tarkine is also a great place to see Tasmanian wild life with Quolls, Devils, Echidna, Platypus and the endangered Orange Bellied Parrot all calling the region home.

Manage the budget for honeymoons

With these top ten budget-friendly getaways you can count your pennies without compromising on all the once-in-a-lifetime experiences, dynamic culture and delicious cuisine you could want for your first adventure as newlyweds.

 

Morocco

Arabian exoticism, fragrant spices – and lovely low prices. Morocco’s hard to beat for bargain romance. Marrakesh, Fez and Essaouira offer time-warp medinas chock-full of character and cheap cafes. Eschew your sense of direction to get lost in the maze-like souqs – the shopping possibilities are plentiful, with everything from carpets to babouches to be snapped up. Converted riads (traditional courtyard houses) offer accommodation with oodles of atmosphere; some are pricey but many are astonishingly reasonable, enabling palace-like stays on a pauper’s budget.

 

India

Long-favoured by the impecunious, India has become more expensive – but, mostly, it’s still amazingly cheap. For instance, opulent Palace On Wheels trains might be dear, but even budget ’mooners can afford first-class on India Rail – a Delhi-Udaipur overnighter costs around US$20 second-class, and only US$10 more in first-class sleeper.

 

Vietnam

You could get by for less than US$10 a day in Vietnam and still eat like a king – it’s street-food heaven. Make sure to sample the city’s signature dishes: beef pho, bun cha (barbecued pork with rice noodles) and chow a bánh mì (baguette) as you wander. A mid-range trip won’t break the bank either, but will buy more characterful guesthouses, a better Halong Bay cruise and memorable experiences (a cookery class, a cycle around Hoi An) with change left for a beach stay on beautiful Phu Quoc Island.