Finding a Deeper Meaning in Travel

Acanela Expeditions' founder, Kylie Chenn, sits down with Alexa Jorgenson of Munchin' With Moguls to discuss how to have a more enriching experience when traveling. Highlights include Acanela's backstory, how to embrace the local culture, balancing life with travel, and an anecdote about sun-dried mice. Intrigued? Pull out your headphones and listen to this awesome podcast!

Episode 14 - Sitting down with Kylie Chenn, the girl boss behind @acanelaexpeditions. aCanela Expeditions has over 80 travel tours all around the world that help you embrace culture in a deeper way. We sit down to chat with Kylie about finding balance in life while traveling, getting to genuinely know people along your journey in life, and how food really can make an experience more rich.

 Visit the Munchin with Moguls Blog, and check out more of our favorite podcasts with them below!

Where to Have the Best Beach Vacations

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If you’re in the mood for a relaxation vacation, you know you need to find a good beach spot! Luckily, there’s no shortage of fantastic beaches in the world, and we’ve hand-picked a few to demonstrate the diversity of beaches across the globe. Although they’re all spectacular, each location has its own unique vibe. That's what makes it so exciting to choose where in the world you want to vacation!

1. South Beach

South Beach is an iconic vacation destination located in Miami, Florida. Known as the “Art Deco Playground,” the area is lined by colorful Deco-style buildings, giving a little “pop” to the white sand beach. South Beach offers a postcard-perfect view of the Ocean Drive skyline, and plenty of shops and restaurants to explore when you need a break from the sun and sand.

2. Seychelles

To be honest, all the beaches on these stunning East African islands are so idyllic that it’s impossible to choose just one. You really can’t go wrong; all the beaches are famed for powdery soft sand (which is even pink in some locations!), translucent waters, and a relaxed vibe perfect for sunbathing. The scenery is truly a sight to behold, and you’ll have a blast snorkeling through the water among a diverse group of aquatic creatures!

3. Phuket

Phuket, Thailand is another destination where the beaches seem to have everything you could ask for. From jungle scenery to turquoise ocean, it’s like a tailor-made paradise for beach lovers. The Phuket area is also famous for its luxury resorts, so you’ll have a range of activities at your disposal, whether you want to go deep-sea diving or spend an afternoon in the spa!

4. Cocoa Beach

Known as the quintessential beach town, Cocoa Beach in Florida is a fantastic place to vacation because it offers visitors the chance to absorb some of the town’s quirky surf culture while relaxing on the soft sands. You can walk the length of the famous Cocoa Beach pier, marvel at the world’s largest surf shop, and maybe even ride a few waves yourself!

5. Lanikai Beach

Though Hawaii has plenty of beaches worthy of this list, Lanikai -- which means “heavenly sea” -- is particularly special, as one of the top ranked beaches in the world. It’s exactly what comes to mind when people imagine a Hawaiian paradise: pristine sands, tranquil water, and lush surroundings. With islands sitting off in the distance and the sea breeze wafting through the air, you’ll be utterly mesmerized as soon as you step foot onto the beach, and we promise you’ll never want to leave!

Blog Post Author: Hannah Hunt

The Most Stunning Castles in Eastern Europe

Have you ever dreamt of living in a castle? Feed your imagination with a trip to Eastern Europe! From Romania to Slovakia to the Czech Republic, this region of Europe is filled with breathtaking castles that will take you back through history and make you want to start polishing off your crown.

Bran Castle, Romania

Commonly known as Dracula’s castle, this towering, brooding castle will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a storybook. Nestled in a circle of mountains and overlooking the deep forest of Transylvania, it’s easy to see where this dramatic fortress got its nickname. The castle is an amazing sight to behold during any time of the year, but truly shines during its annual Halloween party, as visitors venture off to explore the dimly lit halls and spooky interior-- if they dare!

Prague Castle, Czech Republic

The Prague Castle is a must-see on any trip to the Czech Republic. Dating back to the 9th century, this giant complex has been home to kings, emperors, and presidents for centuries, and it’s easy to understand why. The Prague Castle looks like a fairytale come to life, with its ornate architecture and idyllic scenery consisting of numerous gardens, courtyards, and historic buildings.

Moszna Castle, Poland

For all you Harry Potter lovers out there, forget about England: the real Hogwarts lookalike is all the way in rural Poland. Visitors will fall in love with the shining windows, dramatic towers, and whimsical purple accents on the roofs. Even better, the castle is situated on a beautiful, sprawling estate that’s perfect for picnicking with family and friends on a sunny day-- who could ask for a better view?

Bojnice Castle, Slovakia

This medieval castle in Slovakia will take your breath away. Situated on a hill overlooking the town, the exterior of the castle is a stunning example of Romantic architecture-- in fact, the castle is a frequent setting for fantasy and fairytale movies! If you go indoors, you’ll also get to browse through the grand collection of artwork and other valuables put in place by the castle’s last private owner in the 1800s. Night tours come particularly recommended, as you’ll get to explore the halls and treasures by candlelight.

Predjama Castle, Slovenia

Talk about epic: the Predjama Castle is a huge Renaissance-style fortress that’s actually built into the mouth of a cave in the historic region of Slovenia. The result is a mysterious, magnificent image that combines the power of nature with that of man-made architecture. During good months, you may even have the chance to explore the cave underneath the castle, and walk through secret passages used during the 15th century!

Blog post author: Hannah Hunt

The Most Thrilling Adventures in Southeast Asia

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Southeast Asia is full of exciting opportunities for visitors, and Myanmar and Laos are two of the region’s best kept secrets. These two countries are often forgotten by travelers, but they offer some of the most phenomenal adventure excursions in Asia. Read on to discover what awaits you when you book your plane ticket!

Irrawaddy River Cruise

The Irrawaddy is Myanmar’s longest river, and it will take you on a breathtaking tour through the country. You’ll glide through the smooth waterway, passing dense jungles, hidden villages, and intricate monasteries on your journey. You’ll get the best seat in the house for blazing sunsets and gentle sunrises, and if you’re lucky may even see some river dolphins splashing about beside your ship!

Hot Air Balloon Ride in Bagan

The temple town of Bagan is one of Myanmar’s most popular attractions, due to its grand historical and cultural significance. However, if sightseeing this World Heritage Site on foot isn’t your cup of tea, then we suggest experiencing the beauty of the temples in a new way-- via hot air balloon! You’ll float through the sky and get a bird’s eye view of everything, from the golden temples to the serene landscape.

Mount Victoria

For outdoor enthusiasts, Mount Victoria is a must-see. Nestled in the quiet Nat Ma Taung National Park, Mount Victoria is one of the highest peaks in the country and offers stunning views all the way up the simple ascent. In addition to witnessing beautiful flora and fauna, you may also get to meet men and women of the Tattooed Chin Tribe, an ethnic tribe which celebrates facial tattoos as a sign of beauty. It’s a very special opportunity to learn about and appreciate different cultures, and hear stories from incredible artisans along the way.

Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng is a classic stop on any traveler’s tour of Laos, as stunning natural scenery blends with adrenaline-inducing adventure to create an ideal destination for thrill-seekers. The rivers and mountains surrounding the town easily lend themselves to trekking, tubing, and exploring hidden caves. Alternatively, take a scooter or motorcycle tour around the town, and stop to appreciate the plethora of lush farms and other picturesque spots that make Vang Vieng so special.

Kuang Si Falls

Laotian locals have a lot of pride for the Kuang Si Falls, and with good reason-- the clear blue waterfalls and accompanying lagoons are simply spectacular. Spend your day hiking, then cool off with a dip in the turquoise waters. The Falls are as therapeutic and soothing as they are beautiful, making them a must-see on your visit to Laos!

Blog Post Author: Hannah Hunt

Why Mallorca is the Best Place for Wellness Vacations

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For travelers looking for a trip centered around relaxation and meditation, Mallorca is the place to be. This idyllic Spanish island is the perfect location for wellness retreats, which will leave you feeling rejuvenated and balanced. If you’re curious as to why Mallorca is such a popular destination, read on to discover the virtues of this special island!

Scenery

First of all, it’s hard not to feel peaceful and relaxed when you have spacious beaches, lush mountains, and sparkling ocean all around you. Mallorca is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and the tranquility of the scenery immediately helps you find the mind/body/spirit connection that’s so often sought after by weary travelers.

Activities

Mallorca also offers visitors the opportunity to try out many activities that are fun for travelers of all ages. Whether you want to be on the beach or in the forest, Mallorca is ready for you! Hiking, paddle boarding, horseback riding, and scuba diving are just a sampling of the great outdoor activities that await you. You’ll have a blast exploring everything, and can clear your mind with some fresh island air.

Food

Of course, part of your wellness vacation should also include eating well: luckily, the fresh food in Mallorca also happens to be delicious! You’ll be able to treat your taste buds to amazing meals featuring ripe fruit, fresh seafood, and mouthwatering Mediterranean flavor. If you can’t get enough of the fabulous Spanish cuisine, travel with us on our culinary tour through Andalusia, Spain! We’ll travel through the southern region and get a taste of the local produce, spices, and vineyards that make the cuisine so special.

Resorts

Many experienced travelers will tell you that often, it’s the accommodations that make or break a vacation. This is where Mallorca shines, especially for wellness-focused travelers. The resorts and villas on the island are truly special-- they’re tailormade for people seeking some quality relaxation time, and offer stunning views of the scenery and elements of old Spanish culture. Whether you want local or luxury, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect home base for you to return to each day!

Blog Post Author: Hannah Hunt

The Most Scenic Locations In Iceland

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Iceland has been one of the most popular travel destinations of 2017, and it’s easy to see why! The land of fire and ice has captured visitors’ imaginations with its plethora of natural wonders, from volcanoes to glaciers to lush green landscapes. Though many of these locations might be difficult to pronounce, they’re some of the most scenic places in the entire world. Book your flight and get your camera ready!

Blue Lagoon

If you’re weary from traveling, the Blue Lagoon should be at the top of your to-do list. The geothermal water is composed of silica, algae, and various minerals, which combine to give you a luxurious spa experience. Your skin will feel silky smooth after a dip in the water, and you’ll leave feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the rest of what Iceland has to offer!

Seljalandsfoss

Among all the waterfalls in Iceland, this one is special. This stunning waterfall cascades 200 feet into a pool below, creating a beautiful misting effect around the surrounding green hills and if you’re lucky, a few rainbows as well. Bring a camera for some postcard-worthy pictures!

Vatnajökull National Park

Explore glaciers, ice caves, and volcanoes during your time at the most famous national park in Iceland. Vatnajökull, the park’s namesake, is the largest glacier in the world outside of the Arctic regions. While exploring, you’ll come to see why Iceland is known as the country of fire and ice: from huge glaciers sinking into black sands to hot steam pouring out from frozen banks, the mixture of glacier and volcano creates an unforgettable scene.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beaches

Vik is Iceland’s charming southernmost town, best known for its stunning black sand beaches. Reynisfjara is the most famous, and a must-see sight. The black sand is surrounded by cliffs of basalt columns that create a stepped pyramid design, which only adds to the otherworldly quality of the beach.

Kirkjufell

Over on the west side of Iceland is the isolated Kirkjufell mountain-- the most photographed mountain in Iceland! Its popularity is no wonder, given its landmark position, small waterfalls, and surrounding beaches. Kirkjufell also has some lovely light hiking trails for visitors to take in the native flora and fauna, making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon.

East Fjords

Traveling over to the other side of the country, you can’t miss out on touring the breathtaking East Fjords. You’ll be surrounded by beautiful landscapes, and may even have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights if the skies are clear at night. Not to mention, the East is the only place in Iceland where you can see herds of wild reindeer, and if you take a quick ferry ride over to the island of Papey you can even walk among wild puffin birds!

At a place where two continents quite literally brush up against each other, Iceland is a dynamic land of fire and ice. Get up close to natural wonders as you make your way through lava tubes, observe active volcanoes, and watch for whales off the coast. From geysers to glaciers, the elements are on full display in Iceland.  Come travel with us to this beautiful country this October 2017 or next March 2018! We also do private group trips which are year round.  Find more info HERE!

Blog post Author: Hannah Hunt

Highlights of Northern India

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India is a spectacular country, full of natural beauty, artistic wonders, and rich culture. Northern India is particularly exemplary of these qualities: it is a proud, vibrant region that beckons to travelers time and time again with its promise of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, which is why it remains an Acanela favorite. To understand what we mean, check out the following highlights of Northern India-- and just try not to start daydreaming about booking your flight out there!

Jungle Safari

Talk about once in a lifetime-- when is the next time you’ll have the opportunity to ride an elephant through the jungle, looking for tigers and other wildlife to photograph? Jaipur is a can’t-miss stop on your Northern India tour, as Ranthambore National Park offers some of the most beautiful natural views in the whole country, and opportunities to see rare creatures such as tigers, leopards, monkeys, and more!

Jodhpur

Venture into the Blue City of Jodhpur, where you’ll be in awe of the turquoise, cube-like buildings that dominate the city’s landscape. Breathe in the scent of incense and flowers as you wander through the many bazaars, which are famous for the quality of their textiles and spices. You should also leave time to explore Mehrangarh Fort, where you can marvel at the colossal red sandstone architecture and catch golden hour setting over the city down below.

Temple Tours

India is also known for its rich religious history, and you can’t miss out on exploring the beautiful temples that dot the region. The Ranakpur Temples in the city of Udaipur are true artistic wonders and definitely worth a tour: the temples in the complex are world-renowned for their architectural style and significance as the most important temples of the peaceful Jain religion. The intricate designs won’t disappoint, and you’ll gain a new appreciation for the beauty of Jainist culture in India.

Cooking Classes

Of course, not all of your travel activities have to be sight-seeing: why not try something more hands-on, like a cooking class in one of the world’s culinary hotspots? Learn about the various spices that make Indian food so great, and then try your hand at making traditional (and delicious) curries and naan. You’ll leave India with some new skills and yummy recipes to try on your friends and family at home!

Taj Mahal

This one almost goes without saying, but our list would be remiss without including the Taj Mahal! Known as the jewel of Muslim art in India, this splendid marble mausoleum is universally considered a masterpiece. It’s an incredible sight at all times of day, but we recommend you head over for a viewing at sunrise or sunset, when the monument and its sprawling pools and gardens will be bathed in a beautiful soft light. After a tour of the monuments interior, grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants overlooking the Taj, before saying goodbye to this stunning emblem of Indian heritage.

Travel with us to India! See all of the highlights of our expedition HERE!

Blog Post Author: Hannah Hunt

Make an IMPACT Through Travel | Hyderabad, India

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Join the first Acanela humanitarian group in majestic India this summer! If you are a seamstress or knitter, you can contribute your talents in an intimate travel opportunity to teach women in a rural community of Hyderabad, India how to make traditional Indian clothing and useful household supplies. 

This artisan teaching program was carried out 2 years by trip leader Sarah Burroughs, resident of Salt Lake City, Utah.  30 women in Hyderabad were taught how to sew and make jewelry.  Shortly after the volunteers returned to the USA, all of the Indian women found employment at a local sewing shop or as entrepreneurs in their area! Now, there's another group of eager women anxious to learn from you!

Along with teaching a 2-week sewing program, you'll be immersed in the rich Indian traditions and beauty that hit all five senses. 

SMELL

Jasmine, the "belle of India", is a scent that is best experienced in India! It's used for celebrations, welcoming, worship, but most commonly in the bride's hair when she is getting married as an honor to the beauty of their hair and as a symbol of fortune and prosperity. It's natural scent releases anxiety, boosts energy, and increases focus. No wonder the Indian people are so positive and stay up so late!

SIGHT

Ever wonder what it would be like to be in "Indiana Jones"? Well that's exactly what it's like walking around and exploring Golconda Fort! Spanning 7 square miles, this 1000-year old fort was once the capital of the medieval sultanate of the Qutb Shai dynasty, contained several royal chambers, tombs, mosques, and even stored the world's famous Koh-i-Noor and Hope diamonds, found in the same region. 

TOUCH

It is every makers dream to roam the streets of India and indulge in the stunning textiles and jewelry! You'll find everything from smooth traditional silks to thick, tightly woven rugs just 20 minutes from our housing. From organic cottons to authentic pearls in historical Charminar. Wrap yourself up in a sari or stock up on fabric for your fantasy garment or project. Plan on bringing home an extra luggage, wink wink.

HEARING

I don't know which I love more.. The still quiet mornings of India or the busy music of the streets. But one of my favorite moments in Hyderabad was a mixture of both. While hiking up 484 steps up to Moula Ali Dargah, there was a call for prayer throughout the city below us. I turned towards the sound from the speakers and felt an overwhelming sense of peace and appreciation for my life, and for the people surrounding me in India. 

TASTE

Hyderabad, India is nationally known for it's Biryani, uniquely flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, and bay leaves. And while all of the food is packed full of spices and taste, it tastes even better sitting on the floor and with your hands!

Spots are limited - so sign up fast! This is a trip that will change your life and the lives you meet in India! Check out our impact trip HERE for more information!

Sarah Burroughs, designs and manages her own brand of womens' bags out of Salt Lake City, and works with local refugee employment services to identify and hire refugees to help manufacture the products. She's taught sewing in Uganda, Africa, and thrilled to be returning to Hyderabad for her second time. She received the Humanitarian Honoree Award at the Fashion and Arts Humanity Fete Awards in Chicago, November 2016. 

What to Do on Your First Trip to Greece

Greece is an alluring destination to many travelers because of its reputation as a beautiful and laid-back country, but some don’t realize what a truly multifaceted country it is. Greece caters to so many different types of people and offers such varied experiences that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or unsure of what you should do. To help you get the most out of your trip to Greece, we’ve highlighted some of the best things to do during your stay!

Historical Adventures - 

Greece’s rich cultural history shouldn’t be underestimated, and you should allot plenty of time to exploring it. The ancient city of Athens is the perfect place to kick-off your trip, as it is home to some of the most important sites in the Western world, like the Acropolis. The ancient citadel is marked by remnants of sanctuaries and monuments, including the famous Parthenon temple, and all the gleaming marble stone is a dazzling sight to behold. While in Athens, you should also be sure to visit the ancient amphitheater: otherwise known as Dionysus’ Theater, it was a gathering place for thousands of people to come together to appreciate the dramatic arts, and is still a staggeringly impressive sight today. If you can’t get enough of the ancient history, Greece has many more treats waiting for you: from the Palace of Knossos on Crete to the grounds of the first Olympic Games, you’ll have many opportunities to walk along ancient paths and appreciate Greece’s role in Western development.

 

Photo by: @OurTravelPassport | Ryan & Samantha Looney

Photo by: @OurTravelPassport | Ryan & Samantha Looney

Relaxation -

Of course, sometimes you just need to relax-- don’t worry, Greece has you covered there too. Santorini is a favorite of many travelers: with its idyllic, cliff-backed white houses, superb sunrises, and famous black sand beaches, it’s sure to capture your heart. The islands of Mykonos, Crete, and Corfu are also worth a visit, as some of the best beaches in the whole country can be found there beside the dazzling Aegean sea. Greece also has plenty of natural thermal springs, known for their relaxing and rejuvenating properties since ancient times. Many of them are located within “spa towns,” so if you’re craving more after bathing in one of the thermal springs, you can treat yourself to a full-fledged spa!

Photo by: @OurTravelPassport

Photo by: @OurTravelPassport

Outdoor Excursions -

In a country famed for its natural beauty, what better way to experience it than by hiking through some stunning landscapes? The Samaria Gorge is one of Greece’s National Parks located on the island of Crete, and its vertical walls and flowing river make it an inspiring sight to behold. If you’re lucky, you’ll also see some golden eagles flying overhead, or maybe even the rare, endangered wild goat known as the kri-kri. If you like adventuring, head to the Peloponnese region to hike the Mani, a rugged region of Greece that is as beautiful as it is wild. The Mani is known for having some of the most diverse scenery in all of Greece, from snow-tipped mountains to sparkling coasts to many olive groves, and despite being connected by walking trails, most of it is relatively untouched. You won’t want to miss this special opportunity to explore the majesty of rural Greece!

 

Photo by: @OurTravelPassport

Cuisine -

Here’s something you definitely want to take advantage of while in Greece: the food! Explore world-renowned wineries on Santorini and Crete, or take some cooking classes and learn how to make your very own spanakopita (a savory spinach pastry) and loukoumades (hand-made donut holes sprinkled with honey and cinnamon). Even if you’re not up for cooking, you can have a great time just by savoring the many culinary delights on every island: from fresh seafood to hearty stews to delicious pastries to simply some olives and feta cheese, your tastebuds will be in for a treat no matter what city you find yourself in!

Enough with all of this reading! Take a chance and enter our "Win A Trip To The Greek Isles" Sweepstakes! This sweepstakes only lasts until June 15, 2017! Click HERE to enter!  

Blog post by: Hannah Hunt

Photo and video content provided by: Our Travel Passport | Ryan & Samantha Looney

Top Experiences On Each Of The Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii is a dream destination for many, and with good reason! The islands seem to have it all: beautiful weather, delicious food, tranquil beaches, and lush landscapes. Top all of that off with the warm hospitality of locals, and it’s no wonder why the state is held in such high regard. But with so many islands to choose from, it can be overwhelming to try to figure out where you want to go: we’ve put together a few highlights for each Hawaiian island, to help you get the most out of your trip to the Pacific!

Hawaii (Big Island)

The state’s namesake island, otherwise known as the Big Island, is perhaps most famous for its volcanic history. You can’t miss out on visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, an amazing preserve that displays the results of approximately 70 million years of eruption, migration, and land evolution. In addition to the plethora of hiking opportunities, you can take a drive around Crater Rim and stop to walk along scenic points such as the natural steam vents and the “lava tube,” a prehistoric tunnel created by hot lava rushing through millions of years ago. When you want a more relaxing day, check out some of the farmers markets the Big Island famous for. The markets in Hilo, Kona, and Volcano Village are particularly stunning, with fresh flowers, food, and unique gifts that are sure to draw you in. Quiet neighborhoods transform into beautiful open-air markets, where hundreds of people flock for good food, live music, and a taste of the “aloha spirit” Hawaii is known for.

Maui

Maui is often hailed as the favorite island of many who visit Hawaii, and it’s not unwarranted. For first-time Maui goers, the Old Lahaina Luau is a must-see! The luau, which prides itself on adhering to traditional Hawaiian customs, is a great introduction into Hawaiian culture. Devote an evening to watching skillful hula and fire dancing, all while dining on Hawaiian specialties like kalua pua’a, poi, and of course, fresh mahi-mahi. During the day, treat yourself to a relaxing day on one of Maui’s many enticing beaches, where the sand is soft and the ocean is crystal-clear.

Molokai

Ask any local what to do in Molokai and they’ll likely point you in the direction of Kalaupapa National Park. The Kalaupapa peninsula used to be an isolated leper colony, before a cure for the disease was invented. Today, Kalaupapa is a beautiful national preserve, and a photographer’s dream with its towering sea-cliffs and expansive ocean views. For a unique experience on the island, you can take a guided tour down the 2,000 foot sea-cliffs on the back of reliable mule, and breathe in the gorgeous views from atop the cliff. The Halawa Valley hike is another special opportunity in Molokai: you’ll walk through a lush rainforest before reaching a spectacular waterfall that you can swim underneath.

Kahoolawe and Niihau

Unfortunately, the islands of Kahoolawe and Niihau are closed to the general public, so visits there are a little more rare. Kahoolawe was closed in order to increase conservation and restoration efforts, and visitors are only allowed for Hawaiian cultural, spiritual, or subsistence purposes. However, you can still sign up for a volunteer trip to the island, and work to protect the natural fauna of the area. Niihau, an island with a population of just 170 people, also offers limited tourist opportunities, but if you’re lucky enough to visit you’ll take a helicopter tour around the island, where you can spot reef sharks swimming in the bay. Once the helicopter lands, you’ll spend the day relaxing on one of the pristine beaches, sunbathing and snorkelling to your heart’s content.

Oahu

Oahu is a particularly well-loved island, offering many unforgettable experiences for visitors. One of the best spots on the island is Hanauma Bay, a special conservation area and underwater park. Various lookout points offer spectacular panoramic views of the bay itself, but snorkelling is the real attraction. The calm, translucent waters are home to a variety of colorful marine life that you can swim with easily with just a snorkel and a pair of fins, making it an incredible opportunity for visitors of all ages! If you need a break from the many beaches of Oahu, take some time to visit a few of the important museums on the island: from the Polynesian Cultural Center to the Pearl Harbor Museum, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about Hawaiian history and culture.

Lanai

Lanai, a small island in the middle of the Hawaiian chain, is a nature lover’s dream. The island often goes forgotten by tourists, meaning it’s not heavily crowded. Lanai is home to all sorts of natural attractions, like the barren, mars-like terrain of the Garden of the Gods, the rainforests leading up to the towering Mount Lanaihale, or Hulopoe Bay, a secluded white sand beach frequented by dolphins and sea turtles. When you start craving a taste of civilization, head into Lanai City, the island’s only town and home to an eclectic, colorful assortment of cafes, boutiques, and local art.

 

Kauai

Kauai is nicknamed “The Garden Isle” for the rainforest that dominates most of its landscape. The Napali Coast State Park is a must-see, as its dramatic cliffs provide some of the most stunning views of all the Hawaiian islands: from the Pacific Ocean to the lush Napali Valley to powerful waterfalls, it’s no wonder that the Napali Coast has been used as a backdrop in countless Hollywood films. During your stay in Kauai, you should also make time to see Waimea Canyon, otherwise known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. The views will leave you breathless, and the earthy hues are complemented by the rainbows that frequently shine over the canyon!

We are pretty biased - but Hawaii is definitely a trip you need to add to your travel bucket list.  Don't have time to plan a getaway to all of the islands? Let us do all of that for you

Blog Post Author: Hannah Hunt

Experience The Sing Sing Festival In Papua New Guinea

So your first thought is - where's Papua New Guinea? If you look at a map, Papua New Guinea is located right above Australia and actually shares land borders with only one country - Indonesia. Papua New Guinea may seem small but they have a population of over 6 million people.  Now you're wondering - why should I travel to Papua New Guinea? We are here to tell you that we have 8 limited VIP spots to a very special kind of festival - The Sing Sing Festival! 

This is not your traditional festival, this is not Coachella or Stagecoach.  Every September, thousands of people from over a hundred tribes come together in Goroka, Papua New Guinea, to celebrate their unique culture. In this traditional festival, called a sing-sing – the biggest of its kind in the world – there’s a mêlée of dancing, singing and a rainbow of colourful outfits on show. You will get to immerse yourself in vibrant tribal cultures that have remained unchanged for centuries, while cruising rivers and exploring some of the most remote corners of the globe.  

Like I said above - we have 8 VIP tickets for September 2017 and we are collecting inquiries to get interest for this exciting Acanela Expedition! 

Check out these amazing photos by: Fabien Astre via Roughguides.com to get a better picture of what this unique trip is all about!

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The Cenotes and Mayan Ruins of the Yucatán

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Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is a dreamer’s destination, with its stunning beaches, mysterious jungle landscapes, and remnants of Mayan history. A trip to the Yucatán blends together nature and history: explore ruins of the Mayan civilization, walking along ancient pyramids and imposing temples of one of the most powerful early civilizations. When you need to relax, ditch the crowds by the beaches and escape to the world of cenotes, hidden pools of mineral-rich water where the ancient Mayans communicated with their gods. Cenotes offer a truly “off the beaten path” experience, providing an opportunity sure to amaze you (and satisfy your camera!). There is so much to see in this area of the world, but to spark your daydreaming we’ve compiled just a few of the must-see sites in the Yucatán!

1. Tulum Ruins 

The city of Tulum was founded in the thirteenth century, under Mayan rule. The remnants of limestone walls, palaces, and temples take you back to the time of Mayan civilization, an ancient world that still remains a mystery to many historians. The ruins and salty sea breeze will undoubtedly spark your imagination, leaving you to wonder what life was like in this forgotten city. It can get hot wandering through the ruins, but luckily Tulum also happens to be an ancient Mayan seaport-- so when you’re finished exploring, head down to the beach for a swim in the translucent waters of the Caribbean!

2. Chichén Itzá

Out of all the great Mayan temples of the Yucatán, Chichén Itzá is arguably the most famous. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to many significant ruins, but some must-see attractions include the awe-inspiring Kukulkán pyramid (named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World), the impressive “Temple of the Warriors,” and “El Caracol,” a lone round building that is theorized to have been used for astronomical viewings. Spend the day exploring the spectacular attractions of Chichén Itzá, discovering secrets of Mayan culture and retracing the steps of history. Take a tour with us HERE!

3. Cenote Dos Ojos 

The name “Dos Ojos” is Spanish for “Two Eyes,” referring to this cenote’s two distinct pools: one body of water is clear blue, while the other is dark and mysterious. The “black eye” of the cenote is famed for its virtually light-free snorkelling-- divers take a small flashlight to cut through the dark waters and illuminate the intricate stalactites when they come up for air. But if spelunking in the dark isn’t your cup of tea, you can relax in the “clear eye” of the cenote: the water is sparklingly clear and sunlight pours into this hidden waterhole, meaning you can float or snorkel to your heart’s content. 

4. Cenote Azul

This turquoise pool is often bypassed by tourists, meaning you’ll have the place virtually to yourself. If you peer into the clear water, you’ll spot a myriad of tropical fish darting around, and many more underwater sights await you under the surface. Snorkel, wade, or float your way around the cenote, taking in the tropical jungle scenery that encircles the pool. And if you want
to get your adrenaline going, try jumping off one of the mini cliffs into the water!

Travel with us to Yucatan, Mexico and enjoy a traditional cooking class, tour of Chichén Itzá and Mayan Ruins, salsa dance classes, tour of the city center and a snorkeling excursion in Tulum! Inquire about our trip HERE!

Blog Post Author: Hannah Hunt

3 Reasons Why You Should Travel To Indonesia

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Beaches, reefs, volcanoes, rice paddies, jungles, great food, and more: Indonesia has it all.  With 17,000 islands and over 300 languages are spoken, Indonesia is a place of contrasts and cultural diversity.  Come and experience it for yourself.  From an orangutan lounging in a tree to a Balinese dancer executing precise moves, to a deserted stretch of blinding white sand set off by azure surf breaks and the tales of the beautiful Banda Islands, to the ominous menace of a Komodo dragon and the delicious flavors of a Balinese restaurant - this ever-intriguing, ever-intoxicating land offers some of the last great adventures on earth.  But we don't want to take too much of your time - so here are the top 3 reasons why you should travel to Indonesia!

1. Explore Pristine Island Beaches:

There are more than a handful of beaches that are perfect in every way.  Americans have been flocking to Bali for years. Its reputation for being ultra-luxurious while also offering a total escape (as well as the Eat, Pray, Love­­­ effect) has travelers heading to the gorgeous island in droves. For many, the idea of a Bali vacation seems out of reach. Fortunately, that’s not necessarily the case. Backpackers find themselves trekking through the jungle and napping on the many beautiful beaches every day.

The white and black sand that line each beach is as iconic as the waves that crash into them. Each beach has its own perks, and visitors of all types can find one to fall in love with.

2.  Meet Friendly Orangutans:

Embark on a journey to Sumatra to visit some of the most friendly creatures in the world - the Orangutan! You will first fly to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and stay overnight. Then we will transfer you to Sumatra for your new journey.  The excursion starts with a short walk along the river bank and crossing the river with rubber boat, continuing the hike until you reach your home in the jungle - the orangutan wildlife reserve. In this tropical primary rainforest, you can see the varieties of: Sumatran Orangutan, birds, butterflies, white handed gibbon, hornbills, Thomas leaf monkey, various reptiles and a big chance to see a Sumatran Tiger or elephant. 

During the course of your trekking experience in the jungle, you will learn the medicinal qualities of the jungle plants – known for centuries to the local people as well as gathering local plants for your jungle lunches and dinners.  Your local guide is well versed in “camp cooking” as well as the flora and fauna of the area - and you will learn a lot as dine under the stars surrounded by the magical sounds of the jungle. This will be an amazing experience you will never forget!

View our Orangutan Trekking Experience Here

3. Stand Admist Volcanic Craters:

*Bali volcano, also referred to as Kintamani volcano or Mount Batur as a whole, is a popular sightseeing destination in Bali's central highlands. The magnificent views of the 13sqm Batur caldera lake serves as the main attraction, surrounded by the captivating Mount Batur range. You can find plenty more reasons to linger around the crater itself, while those with a penchant for adventure can also take a winding road down along the lake shore to Toya Bungkah, Ulun Danu Batur temple, and a collection of hot springs. The Kintamani area consists of three main villages, namely Penelokan, Batur, and Kintamani. There are also some old Balinese villages around Batur Lake, often referred to as Bali Aga villages. Penelokan is a popular stopover, serving as a vantage point at the southernmost of the crater rim, offering sweeping views over the Bali volcano.

The fertile Kintamani area is a top producer of fruit and vegetables in Bali. Additionally, the northern part at approximately 400 metres above sea level, is known as the biggest bamboo producer on the island. Lake Batur is the main source of irrigation water for most of Bali. Locals also breed freshwater fish here. The water temperature at the Toya Bungkah hot springs can reach up to 45 degrees Celsius. Kintamani is in Bangli, the only district on the island without a shoreline. The best panoramic views are enjoyed from 10:00 to 15:00. Hiking up Mount Batur usually takes at least three hours. Official guides are recommended, and it’s best to organise them through travel agents. Lucky for you - we plan all of the logistics out for you

Either way - our love for Indonesia is too big for us to handle, so that's why we want you to come travel with us and feel the same love for Indonesia that we do! From pristine beaches, to orangutans, to volcanic craters - this is definitely a trip to remember! 

See All Our Indonesia Experiences Here

*http://www.bali-indonesia.com/attractions/kintamani-volcano.htm

Why Andalucía Should Be Your Next Travel Destination

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Cities like Madrid and Barcelona get all the attention from tourists in Spain, but visitors who ignore the Andalusian region of the country are missing out on an exceptional opportunity to explore new dimensions of Spanish beauty and culture. If you’re unsure what Andalucía has to offer, let us convince you why it should be next on your bucket list!

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1. Seville
Seville is the quintessential Andalucían city: exuberant, charismatic, and layered with history. According to myth, the city was founded some 3,000 years ago by the Greek demigod Hercules. Today, Roman ruins testify to the city’s ancient past, and relics from Islamic Spain remind visitors of the role the Arab world played in shaping Analucía’s history. A must-see attraction is the Alcázar, an intricate fortress built in the 1300s that now acts as both a museum and architectural wonder. Of course, Seville has always be able to adapt to the times: it’s an increasingly creative, modern metropolis, as evidenced by architectural endeavors like the Metropol Parasol, a head-turning museum that claims to be the largest wooden building in the world. Seville is also known for having some of the best food in Spain, so you can complement your sightseeing with some delicious tapas!

2. Córdoba
If you can only see one thing in the beautiful city of Córdoba, make it the Mezquita. Universally recognized as one of the most stunning works of Islamic architecture, the Mezquita symbolizes the rich Islamic culture that thrived in Spain when the rest of Europe was still in the Dark Ages. The building itself is spacious and serene, and is famous for its many symmetrical arches. The entire city of Córdoba acts as a window into the past, with relics that boast of a time when Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived side by side and created glorious works of art and culture. You can explore the rest of Córdoba easily on foot, so enjoy the blend of ancient and lively modern life in this special city. 

3. Granada
Set in a crook of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Granada never fails to enchant visitors with its deep history and culture. The striking Alhambra palace, the last stronghold of the Moors in Western Europe, is a cultural landmark that perfectly suits the city’s elegant, dramatic atmosphere. Wind your way through the city’s narrow streets, exploring markets, parks, and the plethora of tapas bars available. From street art to frequent flamenco performances, the modern culture in Granada radiates creativity, so you’ll love immersing yourself in this charismatic city!

4. Las Alpujarras
If you want to get out of the cities (or need to work off some of the delicious food you’ve been eating), head for a hike through Andalucá’s Sierra Nevada and explore the canyons and “white villages” of Las Alpujarras. The trail has many bite-sized sections, so whether you want a longer trek or merely a quick jaunt outdoors, you’ll be able to breathe in the majestic scenery and visit some Moroccan-style villages nestled in the mountains, many of which sell beautiful artisanal crafts. 

5. Tarifa
Tarifa draws visitors to its laid-back beaches and charming whitewashed buildings every year. Tarifa is the meeting point of the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, the tip of Spain just before you reach Morocco. The old Roman settlement has a distinctly international feel, a lively blend of Western European, Mediterranean, and North African cultures that makes it the perfect place to top off your exploration of Andalucía. Take this chance to relax on one of the many beaches, or do as the locals do and try your hand at kitesurfing or windsurfing on the sparkling blue waters! 

Enough with the reading - make your dreams come true and book your dream Spain Trip and come on an amazing culinary adventure with Acanela Expeditions! Check out our trip HERE!

Blog Post Author: Hannah Hunt

 

Best Eats in Portugal

Portugal has so much to offer visitors, but in-between sightseeing and sunbathing, make time to enjoy the variety of authentic Portuguese food available to you. From markets to restaurants to small cafes, there’s never a shortage of things to eat! Portugal is world-renown for its seafood and spices, but truly excels in all the culinary arenas: be it soup, dessert, or drinks, you’ll have your pick of delicious meals!

Photo Credit: Cookdiary.net

Photo Credit: Cookdiary.net

1. Bacalhau

Bacalhau, otherwise known as king codfish, is a national obsession in Portugal. There are hundreds of different variations on this classic meal, but it’s traditionally served “à Brás” with eggs, olives, and fries. If you’re looking to try authentic Portuguese food, bacalhau has to be at the top of your list!

2. Cozido

Cozido is the meal that unites the northern and southern regions of Portugal: typically eaten as part of a big lunch, it’s a stew filled with beef, pig, chicken, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, turnips, and an array of sausages. This dish may sound odd, but it comes together as a delicious rich, savory meal beloved by the Portuguese.

3. Queijo

No trip to Portugal would be complete without taking time to drool over the country’s many selections of cheese. The Serra da Estrela cheese is specifically famous for its wonderful taste and rich cultural background. This cheese comes from the highest point in Portugal and the mountain it takes its name from, the Serra da Estrela. On the mountain, traditional shepherds (and their loyal sheepdogs!) dedicate their lives to herding the sheep responsible for making the delicious, gooey cheese. 

4. Peixe Grelhado

Eating grilled fish in Portugal is an experience you can not miss-- wander through any market, be it in a big city or tiny coastal town, and you’ll discover the many display cases of fish for you to choose from. Olhao’s waterfront market is particularly famed for its seafood, so why not grab a bite to eat as you stroll through the crowds?

5. Café

Portugal is well-known for its “coffee culture.” People always find time for a coffee break, and love to sit around a cup while they talk. It helps that the coffee in Portugal is so good-- rich and strong, the smells of roasted coffee beans will captivate your senses the moment you walk down the city streets. 

6. Arroz de marisco 

Rice is a staple food throughout all of Europe, but no country consumes as much as Portugal-- meaning that the Portuguese know how to create some pretty delicious rice dishes. Arroz de marisco is one such meal: rice cooked in a garlic and cilantro-infused tomato sauce, and topped with all the shellfish you can eat. 

7. Pasteis de Nata

These little custard tarts are the quintessential Portuguese dessert. Everyone makes their tarts a little differently, so you’ll have an excuse to try one everywhere you go in Portugal! If you can’t get enough, head to Lisbon to visit one of the oldest houses of production for these delicious desserts. 

Now that you've read about all of the foods that we love in Portugal now it's your time to try one of our favorite foods out! Here is an easy recipe for our Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Egg Tarts) below!

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C.) Lightly grease 12 muffin cups and line bottom and sides with puff pastry.


In a saucepan, combine milk, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Place egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of hot milk mixture into egg yolks. Gradually add egg yolk mixture back to remaining milk mixture, whisking constantly. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, or until thickened. Remove vanilla bean.


Fill pastry-lined muffin cups with mixture and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and filling is lightly browned on top.

But let's say you don't want to make these yourselves - why not travel to Portugal and try them from a local café or restaurant? We have our Portugal expeditions going out year round - check out our expedition HERE!

Blog Post Author: Hannah Hunt

Why the Balkans should be your next travel destination (Croatia - Greece):

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Why the Balkans should be your next travel destination:

When you think of a trip to Europe, what countries come to mind? If you forgot that countries like Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro existed for a minute, then you need to join us on our trip through the Balkans this summer! From Croatia to Greece, the Balkans are an incredible blend of Central, Southern, and Eastern European cultures. Though the nations may be small, they’re all culturally rich and distinct in their beauty. Break out from the Western Europe mold and experience life from the Eastern side of the continent-- you won’t be disappointed!

Croatia: Dubrovnik is one of those towns that never loses its charm-- between the Old Town’s marble streets, baroque architecture, and white stone walls, you’ll never tire of walking around the city. Get to know Dubrovnik’s storied past by wandering through the multitude of museums, take a cable car up to Mt Srđ for stunning views of the city, and get lost roaming the narrow streets that are full of local color. Once you’ve exhausted yourself, take a dip in the shimmering Adriatic sea to relax.

Bosnia: The Stari Most -- or Old Bridge -- of Mostar, Bosnia is a world-famous UNESCO heritage sight. Rebuilt in 2004, the bridge symbolizes the nation’s rich trading history, and draws the focus of everyone who visits. Head out during golden hour for some spectacular photo opportunities, as the pale-colored stone perfectly throws back the light of sunset. Even better, the Stari Most is dotted with numerous cafes and restaurants, so you can sit back and enjoy some delicious Bosnian cuisine while you take in the view in front of you.

Montenegro: Travel along the Adriatic coast to Montenegro, a tiny country packed with a powerful amount of history and culture within its walls. The town of Kotor is a perfect example of Montenegro’s living history and brooding atmosphere-- wedged between mountains overlooking the bay and filled with medieval architecture, you can’t help but feel transported to another time. During your stay, you can visit the famous St. Tryphon Cathedral, pop into some of the numerous local artisan shops, and take in the buzz of street life from a cozy cafe.

Albania: It took a while for Albania to launch itself as a tourist destination, but now it’s done so with full force, and has put together a range of unique attractions that are sure to enchant you. The mountain scenery is to die for, so be sure to take in the spectacular views along the coastline. Feeling a little worn out after your travels? Head to Saranda, a charismatic beach town where you can relax on the sand and swim in the turquoise waters. After you’ve rejuvenated, stop by Tirana, Albania’s capital and one of Europe’s quirkiest cities. New buildings are highly modernized and painted in bright primary colors, but many Ottoman and Communist relics still dot the streets-- creating a fascinating contrast that will compel you to fall in love with this crazy city.

Macedonia: Macedonia is truly a hidden gem among the many hidden gems of the Balkans-- the country is typically overlooked by tourists, meaning that you can enjoy the scenery without being jostled by thick crowds. Macedonia is perfect for nature-lovers, with plenty of hiking paths in the mountain forests that reward with stunning views. For a taste of history, head to the bazaars for a look into Ottoman culture, or simply wander around the many ancient churches and mosques that fill the winding streets. And of course, don’t miss out on visiting Lake Ohrid, with its translucent waters and gorgeous cliff-backed setting.

Bulgaria : Bulgaria is best known for its beautiful capital, Sofia. Don’t mistake the laid-back vibe of the city to mean that it’s nothing special-- as one of the world’s oldest cities, Sofia offers an array of Ottoman mosques, Red Army monuments, and awe-inspiring cathedrals like the massive Alexander Nevski Cathedral. The city also contains many pleasant parks and gardens to stroll through, and plenty of markets to visit if you want to shop and talk with locals.

Greece: Top off your trip to the Balkans with a visit to the Greek islands. Known as the birthplace of Western civilization, the Ancient Greek culture is an important one that everyone should experience at some point in their lives. Though all the islands offer something new, you can’t beat Athens: take in the view from the Acropolis and Parthenon, wander through the Roman Agora, and scour for handcrafted items at the Monastiraki Flea Market. If you need a break from the city after all that walking, head to the coastline and bask in the warm Greek sun. And of course, budget time for numerous stops into local restaurants to get your fill of delicious Mediterranean cuisine!

Author:  Hannah Hunt

Travel to Petra

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If you didn't know already - Acanela has been traveling around the Middle East the past 3 weeks! We've been to Egypt, Jordan and now we are in Israel.  Our founder Kylie Chenn, has been documenting her travels through her blog post - Wokingtheworld.com! Here's a little excerpt of our time in Jordan, seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the World! 

"If you have not been to Petra - add it to your list RIGHT NOW.  These beautiful Nabatean ruins are something that you have to see at least once in your life.  We stayed at the Petra Guest House, one of the top accommodations right outside of the entrance to Petra.  Here we were able to leave bright and early in the morning to explore one of the most beautiful sites in the world.   Upon entering Petra, you walk through a large slot canyon (much more grand than any canyon I have ever seen in the Southwestern United States).  You walk for about a mile until the canyon opens up into your first glimpse of Petra - the Treasury... One of the most beautiful FAcades of the entire city.  What most people do not realize about Petra is that it continues on for miles, the city is HUGE and we had the entire day to explore it!"

-Kylie Chenn (Wokingtheworld.com)

We want YOU to travel with us next time! Check out our latest expeditions coming up HERE!

Why Botswana is the Top Travel Destination of 2017

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Why Botswana is the Top Travel Destination of 2017

Botswana is truly a hidden gem of the world. From opportunities to spot rare animal species to delicious culinary experiences, the country is sure to enchant you-- even better, its central location gives you the opportunity to sightsee around the neighboring countries of Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Zambia. We’ve put together 10 reasons why Botswana should be your next travel destination!  

If reading this list gets you itching to hop on a plane to Botswana, enter our newest Travel Giveaway, or travel with us on our featured Safari Expedition!

 

1) Hands-on Encounters with Meerkats and Baobab Trees

Make some new friends at Jack’s Camp, where you can sit and play with the famous burrow of “Meerkat Manor.” Watch as they play with each other (and you), keep a lookout for predators, and scrounge up any food in sight! These curious little creatures are not tame-- they’re just used to the non-threatening presence of humans, so you’ll be in for a truly unforgettable experience. The camp is also located in the Makgadikgadi Pans, one of the oldest salt flats in the world and home to ancient Baobab trees. These huge, otherworldly trees are a must-see in Botswana, as they’re native to only a select few of African countries.

 

2) Viewing Safari in a Tribal Mokoro Boat through the Okavango Delta

The mokoro, a traditional canoe-like boat, is the perfect way to participate in a viewing safari on the famous Okavango Delta. Spend a day gliding comfortably past a colorful variety of birdlife and beautiful marsh landscapes-- if you’re lucky, you might even spot a hippo, or approach an elephant munching on reeds. You won’t run the risk of scaring off animals with the motor of a car, so have your camera ready! 

 

3) Walk with Lions and Cheetahs in Livingstone, Zambia

Ever taken a lion for a walk? You’ll have the chance in Livingstone, Zambia, located right across the border from Botswana. You’ll feel like a member of the pack walking with gentle cheetahs and lions through the African Bush, in an experience far from your typical safari. Under the supervision of your knowledgeable guide, you’ll feel the thrill of seeing these majestic animals up close.

 

4) Cruise along Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe

What traveler can resist a stunning sunset or landscape view? Take another quick trip across the border to Zimbabwe, where you can’t miss out on a cruise across Victoria Falls. As you take in the sights from one of the natural wonders of the world, keep your eyes open for hippos, crocodiles, birds, and maybe even some elephants and zebras on the shore. The cruise vessels provide gourmet cuisine and excellent service, so you can relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery. 

 

5) Experience Exotic Fruits, Vegetables, and Game Meats in a Traditional Tribal Feast

During your stay in Zimbabwe, be sure to stop by the famous Boma restaurant for a total immersion of the senses. Going to Boma Night, known as “the Place of Eating,” is a cultural and culinary experience all in one. It’s all a celebration of African vibrancy: traditional dancing, drumming, face-painting, and storytelling reign throughout the night, and you’ll have the chance to sample delicacies such as warthog steaks, game stews, and Bush vegetables. 

 

6) Visit Chobe National Park for the Best Chances at Spotting a Rhino

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No trip to Botswana is complete without a trip to Chobe National Park-- the safaris offered there have been rated as one of the best wildlife experiences in the world. Over 460 species of birds have been sighted, along with elephant, impala, giraffe, warthog, monkey, hyena, lion, and leopard. Most amazingly, though, you’ll have your best chance at seeing the extremely endangered white rhino, whose population has thankfully begun to rise due to Botswanan conservation efforts. Don’t miss out on your chance to spot one of these rare (and adorable) animals!

 

7) Visit the San Bushman Tribe in the Kalahari Desert

One of the reasons we love traveling is because it gives us the chance to celebrate new cultures and perspectives. The San people of the Kalahari are a dignified and culturally-rich group, and visiting with them gives a unique insight into their tribal civilization. Guests have the opportunity to participate in age-old ceremonies and get a window into a world that has been relatively untouched by modernity. Go on bush walks with San trackers, witness medical rituals, or visit the sacred caves of Tsodilo Hills to see 200 individual ancient art sites. A visit with the San is an unforgettable experience, so don’t miss out on getting to know these special people.

 

8) Take a Quick Trip to Namibia and Climb Dune 45

One of the best things about Botswana is its proximity to so many other beautiful countries. Hop across the border to Namibia, and be sure to leave time to climb the tallest sand dune in the world, Dune 45. The dune reaches more than 560 feet, and the orange-gold sands and views from the peaks lend themselves to stunning photographs. Wake up early to catch the sunrise over the top of the dune and take in the expansive views!

 

9) Stay in Beautiful Fly Camp or Luxury Lodge in the Middle of the Safari Lands

You don’t have to rough it to enjoy the beauty of Botswana. Enjoy your stay at the Bush with airy rooftop lounge areas, private pools, and lavish bedrooms, all with a fantastic view of passing wildlife like elephants and zebras. Staying at a luxury lodge will ensure that you’re well-rested, for all of those early morning game drives through the safari lands! After a day spent adventuring in the Bush, there’s nothing like watching the sunset from the patio of a beautiful camp. 

 

10) Take a Cooking Class in a Local Village and Learn How to Make Traditional African Cuisine

Learning how to make the traditional foods of a nation is a great way to learn about the culture of a country. Immerse yourself in Botswanan life by learning how to cook traditional dishes like seswaa, a meat meal often served with maize, or pap, a maize porridge that’s a staple in Botswanan cooking. Taking a cooking class in a small village also gives you the opportunity to interact with locals, giving you a more authentic travel experience-- and you’ll end the day with a delicious meal to boot! 

 

Blog Post Author: Hannah Hunt

Top 10 Most Unusual Places to Stay Abroad

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We all know that where you stay on your travels can make or break a trip. Booking unique accommodations is a great way to make your experience memorable, giving you lots of amazing photo ops and stories to tell.  We’ve gathered 10 of the most unusual spots to live while abroad, to inspire you to plan your next adventure!

1) Giraffe Manor: Nairobi, Kenya

How many times have you had breakfast with a giraffe? At this boutique hotel, situated next to Nairobi’s Giraffe Centre, you’ll have some very friendly neighbors-- the animals love to stick their necks through the windows of the dining room in search of treats. The manor is also beautiful in its own right, with classic 1930s architecture and 140 acres of indigenous forest to explore. You’ll be sure to leave with incredible photos (and a new love for giraffes). Let us help you book the Giraffe Manor as an extension to our Tanzania Safari Excursion!

2) Bamboo Eco Cottage: Bali, Indonesia 

One of the best things about traveling is getting to be completely immersed in a new location. This eco retreat, nestled in the rice fields of Bali, will make you feel like a part of nature. The cottage is completely open air, and is surrounded by lush fields, rushing streams, and breathtaking hiking opportunities. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and disconnect from the rapid pace of city living-- the operators even have an in-house masseuse if you fancy a massage on the terrace at sunset. If you want to experience the full beauty of Indonesia, check out our trip by clicking here!

3) Magic Mountain Lodge: Chile

You’ll feel like you’re living in a fairy tale at this Chilean lodge. The so-called “Magic Mountain,” located between the southern Andes, is a spectacular volcano from whose peak a magnificent waterfall rushes down. The lodge is part of the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve, in the middle of the Chilean Patagonian Rainforest, and the reserve boasts 100,000 hectares of land with incredible biodiversity. You won’t find any other spot like this in the world, so don’t miss your chance to experience the magic!

4) Hotel Marqués de Riscal: Elciego, Spain

Enjoy a different sort of European experience at this unique luxury hotel. This hotel stands out as a modern gem against the medieval architecture and breathtaking vineyards of the town of Elciego. Designed by the legendary Frank Gehry, the hotel’s whimsical steel and titanium exterior will have you reaching for your camera. And taking inspiration from the surrounding vineyards, the resort offers many activities perfect for wine lovers: stop by the spa for a a Merlot wrap, the library to read up on wine and art in Spain, or the famous “City of Wine,” a project dedicated to the holistic experience and understanding of wine. 

5) The Manta Resort: Tanzania 

Ever wanted to live underwater? You can have your chance at the Manta Resort in Tanzania. This resort gives you the incredible opportunity to stay in your own private floating home, with three levels of jaw-dropping beauty. The landing deck, at sea level, is perfect for lounging around in the sun or jumping off for a quick dip in the turquoise waters. A short ladder leads up to the roof, where you can lie back at night and gaze at the Milky Way galaxy without any light pollution. And the downstairs leads you into your underwater bedroom: surrounded by glass panels, you can watch rare reef fish and other sea creatures swim by, all from the safety of your own room. When you’ve gotten your fill of underwater living, come join us on our Tanzania safari expedition to see another side of this wonderful country! Let us help you book the Manta Resort as an extension to our Tanzania Safari Excursion!

6) Skylodge Pods: Peru

If underwater isn’t your thing but you’re still craving adventure, try something on the other end of the spectrum: stay overnight at a Skylodge pod overlooking the Sacred Valley of Peru! The pods are secured to the cliffs 600 meters above the valley, giving you a perfect view of the vast landscape and of the stars at night. If you want to explore what else Peru has to offer, join us on our trip!

7) Aqua Wellness Resort: Nicaragua 

For the trips when you just need to unplug and relax, head to this luxury beach resort in Nicaragua. The tree houses offer you a unique way to enjoy this tranquil paradise. The resort is blessed with a beautiful natural environment, and you’ll likely see monkeys, parrots, and sea turtles during your stay. The resort also offers yoga, a spa, and of course, plenty of water activities. Whether you want to relax on the white-sand beaches or snorkel your way through the bay, you’re sure to leave Nicaragua feeling refreshed and invigorated.


8) The Seashell House: Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Photo Courtesy of Airbnb.com

Photo Courtesy of Airbnb.com

This whimsical home will make you feel like a mermaid, with its unique shell details and sparkling private pool overlooking the beach. The house matches the location perfectly: Isla Mujeres is a prime location for beach lovers, with abundant opportunities for snorkelling, sunbathing, and surfing. You’ll never be at a loss for photo ops at this enchanting rental!
 
9) EcoCamp: Patagonia 

Photo Courtesy of Outsidego.com

Photo Courtesy of Outsidego.com

If you want a rustic adventure, EcoCamp is for you. The camp is situated in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most must-see destinations in South America. Home to some of the world’s most breathtaking trekking routes, the park is home to forests, glaciers, lakes, and fjords, not to mention a diverse range of animals for lucky travels to see. The domes are the perfect spot to return to after a day of adventuring, as they act as a complete buffer against wind and have ceiling windows perfect for stargazing. Come explore the magical Chilean wilderness with us this year!

10) Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort: Lapland, Finland

What could be better than seeing the magnificent Northern Lights from the comfort (and warmth) of your own glass igloo? Each tranquil hideaway includes a private sauna and a bedroom with a glass ceiling, allowing you to take in the snowy wilderness of the Arctic and the beauty of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world. If you’ve ever dreamt of seeing the Aurora Borealis in person, join us on our trip to Finland next winter!

Blog post by: Hannah Hunt
 

Top 10 Animal Encounters to Add to Your Bucket List

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We can't even explain how much our love for animals have been broadened throughout our travel experiences.  From sea turtles in Costa Rica to llamas in Peru to elephants in Sri Lanka - We can't get enough of these cute creatures when we are traveling.  We've rallied up our top 10 favorite animal encounters from our expeditions so you can add them to your travel bucket list!

1) Sea Turtle Expedition: Costa Rica

An unforgettable adventure for all ages! Witness the captivating egg-laying ritual of endangered sea turtles. This nighttime experience takes place in nearby Camaronal Beach where you will search for turtles as they peacefully emerge from the ocean. Your guide will use a special red light to avoid disturbance. This is made possible by Hotel Punta Islita in partnership with the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and conservation NGO’s. Click the hyperlink above to join us in Costa Rica! (Seasonal: July to November)

2) Orangutan Trekking: Indonesia

See the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan in its natural habitat. Where you will earn memories to last a lifetime - walking, sleeping, living in the vast tropical rainforest jungle. Your expert guide will continue jungle trekking to explore the park till the tent.  In this tropical primary rainforest, you can see the varieties of the Sumatran Orangutan, but also birds, butterflies, white handed gibbon, hornbills, Thomas leaf monkey, various reptiles and a big chance to see a Sumatran Tiger or elephant. It is one of the last few places on Earth to see the Orangutans live in the wild, enough said.  So what are you waiting for? Add Orangutan Trekking in Indonesia to your bucket list!

3) Diving with Whale Sharks: Mozambique, Africa

The coastline of Mozambique has some of the most intact reef ecosystems in the World and you can enjoy some spectacular diving in Pemba, Tofo, Pomene and the Quirimbas Islands. Swim with Whale Sharks and Manta rays from September to February. See many endangered species of turtle and perhaps if you are very lucky see a very rare Dugong.

Mozambique diving is an excellent all year-round activity and a range of exciting and varied diving itineraries can be organized. Barracuda, manta rays, moray eels, sharks, huge schools of kingfish, giant lobsters, and numerous species of reef fish are commonly seen. The whale shark, the largest fish in the world which can reach lengths of up to 14m and weigh up to 15 tons, can be spotted between December and April. Face your fears and check out our Mozambique expedition HERE!

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4) Discover Polar Bears: Churchill, Canada

Prime viewing times are in October and November, when the bears begin their move from their summer habitat on the tundra back to seal-hunting territory – the pack ice that forms every winter over Hudson Bay.  Ride in a Tundra Vehicle made to ride over snow and ice smoothly and make your way to Polar Bear Nation. Churchill is one of the few human settlements where polar bears can be observed in the wild. Thousands of visitors from around the world visit each fall/winter for the excitement of seeing these magnificent animals. You can be one of those visitors HERE!

5) Gorilla Trekking: Uganda, Africa

You will set off for your thrill experience of the Gorillas in the Mist. Hiking within this mysterious and wonderful forest offers quite a lot to see as you make your way to see the Mountain Gorillas. The wildlife including additional primates, butterflies, mammals and birds, will certainly be very beautiful and really enhance this extremely special experience.

The tracking / trekking can entail some thorough climbing as well as hiking although when you come face to face with the tranquil yet potent Mountain Gorillas, watching them only a few meters away from you observing the group, the baby with the mothers, the gorillas partaking their everyday routine just right in front of you is all very overwhelming.  You can never find any mountain gorillas living in the zoo, save for just in this not large area of Africa where a number of the remnant mountain gorillas can be seen. Gorillas are one of our favorite animals and we can't wait to cross this off our travel bucket list with you! Find out more about our Tanzania/Uganda expedition

Photo by: Tate Drucker

Photo by: Tate Drucker

6) Trek with llamas on the Inca Trail: Peru

Not only will Machu Piccu take your breath away but why not add to the fun of hiking when you can hike with cute llamas?!  These sturdy animals are native to the Andes…but not that sturdy. Instead, you’ll be leading the animals (at times, they may be leading you!) along the rocky trail to the Inca city. And they’ll be carrying the lion’s share of your supplies, so you can make the trek without getting super-exhausted. Ready to trek with some llamas? Find out more HERE!

7) Monkey & Sloth Quest: Costa Rica

Did you know that Howler Monkeys are the loudest land animal?  Costa Rica's rich natural diversity is fascinating!  The raucous howler monkey is among the largest monkey species in the Americas. Its whooping growl can be heard over a 3 mile radius. Highly social, howler monkeys travel in groups of up to eighteen members.  You will also have a chance to encounter with real sloths - aren't they the cutest?! Your guide will bring a spotting telescope to better enjoy a close-up look at these creatures.  Join us in Costa Rica! 

Photo by: Tate Drucker

Photo by: Tate Drucker

8) Ride a camel across the Sahara: Morocco 

At a small town on the edge of the desert, we’ll board camels and embark on a journey deep into the epic dunes of the Sahara. The journey will take us approximately an hour until we arrive at a Bedouin campsite where we’ll be spending the night sleeping under the stars. We’ll partake in a traditional dance and welcome dinner, play the drums, sip mint tea, and have a nighttime star photography lesson.  Morocco is such a beautiful setting to ride a camel across the Sahara - find out more info and add this one on your travel bucket list!

9) Walk with Lions: Botswana, Africa

Sounds a little scary, doesn't it? Well we've done it before and trust me - the lions in this Safari park are super friendly! You'll have the chance to sleep in Safari tents where you’ll fall asleep to the sounds of lions and elephants in the distance, and spend each night enjoying delicious meals prepared by our tour’s private cook. Does that get any better or what? Learn more about our Botswana trip

10) Ride Elephants in Asia - Sri Lanka

I think riding elephants is on everyone's bucket list.  These large elephants in Sri Lanka are very well-known and it's an adventure of a lifetime you don't want to miss out on!  During our time in Periyar we will have the opportunity to take a wildlife safari by boat.  During our three hour jungle journey we will have the opportunity to watch birds, see beautiful butterflies and spot larger wildlife such as elephants and tigers.  We will even have the opportunity to enjoy a magical elephant ride through the jungle.  While our days will consist of exploring the beautiful nature around us, our evenings will be filled with delicious curries, aromatic spices, and hand-on cooking lessons.  Save your spot on our India & Sri Lanka trip HERE!