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Iceland in winter – who would do that to themselves? A country in white and blue

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This article was translated from the German version.

“You’re flying to Iceland in February? Are you crazy? But it’s so dark there this time of year, and way too cold!” These were the kinds of shocked reactions that were thrown at me before my vacation to Iceland in February – in many cases even from Icelanders themselves. I was of course already well aware that the island, which is located just below the Arctic Circle, probably wouldn’t be a popular destination for sunbathing on its volcanic sand beaches – after all, the country is named “Iceland.”

 
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The Sculpture Sólfar (Sun Voyager) in Reykjavík. Photo: Lena Sharma.

 
Beach of volcanic sand at Laugavegur. Photo: Lena Sharma.

Beach of volcanic sand at Laugavegur. Photo: Lena Sharma.

 

There are, however, plenty of great reasons to head to this snow-white island in the middle of winter. Sure, people who love sunlight won’t exactly get their fix, given that it’s dark by 5:00 in the afternoon, and the sun doesn’t begin to peek above the horizon again until after 10:00 in the morning – that is, if it even breaks through the cover of clouds and fog. On the other hand, I’ve never found myself in such a special, warm and peaceful atmosphere. Anyone who has ever stopped in for a Kaffi at one of Reykjavík’s traditionally decorated cafés while a snowstorm rages outside knows exactly what I mean. Read More »

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Colorful destinations to lighten up your winter mood

Filed under Adventure, Brazil, China, India, Travel Tips
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Cold, rain and snow and nothing blue to spot on the sky for days? Winter sure is a very unique season, but in the long-term can really get you down. No worries though, we’ve got the cure: travelling. Get inspired by our list of ten colorful destinations!

 
Valladolid (Mexico)

You’ll find houses colored in mint green, pink and pale yellow, the sidewalks are terracotta-colored and the heaven mostly blue with clouds as smooth as cotton candy. The city of Valladolid on the Mexican peninsula Yucatán is as colorful as the Mexican ponchos.
 

Foto: shutterstock | Eddy Galeotti

Foto: shutterstock | Eddy Galeotti

 
Cinque Terre (Italy)

Cinque Terre is a lovely place that translates into five villages and is located along the seaside of the Italian Riviera and part of the UNESCO World Heritage. If you plan to go, each of the five places can be visited right after each other at the coast. Read More »

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5 surreal underwater places

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Sightseeing usually takes place on the surface, on solid ground and with sufficient air to breathe. However, those who have the license and the know-how to breathe compressed air out of a scuba tank have a completely different range of possibilities when it comes to choosing sights to visit. Under the surface of the water everything appears in a different light – the following 5 underwater sites will not only fascinate those who scuba dive and snorkel, but everyone who loves unusual places!

 

1. Chuuk Lagoon (Micronesia)

Lying as it does midway between Hawaii and the Philippines, the Chuuk Atoll has its strategic location to thank for the fact that it has been passed around among different nations throughout history. Here, the Japanese built a well-equipped marine base with a massive fleet that was bombed in 1944 with the loss of a large number of aircraft and ships to the sea. The ghost ships and planes now lie about 20 meters under the surface in the Micronesian Pacific and have created an eerie and unusual underwater world. Wreck divers can experience history preserved there and explore the remains surrounded by rich marine life.

 

Photo: flickr, mattkieffer

Sunken wrecks at the Chuuk Atoll. Photo: flickr, mattkieffer

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Does traveling to Indian Wildlife destinations help in the conservation?

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Guest article by Anshul Srivastava.

 

“The continued existence of wildlife and wilderness is important to the quality of life of humans.” – JIM FOWLER

 

Wildlife tourism is adorned with two different sets of thoughts. One perception supports wildlife being spaced out from tourism in order to save the rare flora and fauna species. The other side of the coin encourages wildlife tourism as an effective medium of conservation. Wildlife tourism in India adheres the latter opinion.

Endowed with around 100 national parks and 400 plus wildlife sanctuaries, the largest peninsula is a perfect abode to an assortment of exotic wildlife species. However, conservation of wildlife in India was neglected for a long time. Poaching on a large scale, destruction of natural habitat and human conflicts are some of the major reasons behind the rapid decline in the number of wilds roaming in Indian woods. Thankfully, wildlife lovers and the government are now gradually understanding their responsibility in this context and making efforts at their levels for wildlife conservation in India.

Every year, lots of travelers from the country and overseas visit national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of India just to explore the wildlife, however, they are generally unaware of what contribution they are making towards the conservation of wildlife. Scroll down to know how your travel to any wildlife destinations helps the conservation.

1. Generate revenue through tickets, safaris and government forest lodges

For every project for conservation, money is the primary requisite. When you pay the entry fee in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, undertake safari rides and stay in government owned forest lodges, you are adding to the amount of revenue generated throughout the year. This revenue is used for the betterment of the park as well as the wilds. A portion of the money collected by the authorities of parks and sanctuaries is further used for the protection of wildlife.

 
Ticket Counter, Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur Photo credit: Tushar

Ticket Counter, Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur Photo credit: Tushar

 

2. Educate the world about the beauty of Indian wildlife

You can make people aware about the exquisiteness possessed by the exotic wildlife of India. These days, social media has become a major addiction for most of us. After traveling to any wildlife sanctuary or national park, we often update our social media profiles with pictures and interesting updates. Those updates indirectly help in educating the world about the beauty of the country’s wildlife and their habitats. Read More »

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Brace Yourself for a Unique and Enthralling Adventure Experience in Ladakh!

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Guest article by Zara Jones.

 

Ladakh, a mesmerizing land, is cosseted by the majestic Himalayan and Karakoram mountains in the northernmost part of India. This amazing region is also known as ‘the land of high passes’. Ladakh lies in the elevations ranging from almost 2750 mts at Kargil area, to 7627 mts at Saser Kangri. The mercury count of Ladakh may drop to minus 40 °C. This beautiful town is also named as ‘Mysterious Land’, ‘Magic Land’ and ‘Moon Land’, because of its unmatched panorama. Along with the vistas of spectacular and rugged beauty of the region, the magical land offers a great scope for undertaking an adventure travel. Ladakh is also known as the ‘adventure capital’ of India. It provides a blend of a string of exhilarating sports. Read more to know about the adventure activities in Ladakh that an adventurer freak can undertake to pump up the adrenaline rush.

 
Ladakh, the 'adventure city'. Photo: flickr, McKay Savage.

Ladakh, the ‘adventure city’. Photo: flickr, McKay Savage.

 

Here is the list of top 6 adventure activities that an adventurer can undertake to pump up the adrenaline rush:

 

Experience Wilderness with Exotic Wildlife in Ladakh!

Ladakh is a rugged area where only the fittest can survive. Though the environment is a bit harsh, it boasts of plenty of life, endemic to this area. Its exotic terrain plant life springs up in the summer that engulfs the scenery in diversified colors. The awesome predators include the elusive snow leopard, mighty brown bear, lynx, wild dogs, Shanko or wolf and fox. The herbivorous animal species include the kiang, wild yak, wild hare, marmot, shapo, niyan marcopolo ship, goat, chirru, bharals and ibex marchers. Read More »

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Top 10 Safari Destinations in the World

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Guest article by Tanmay Sharma.

 

Catching a glimpse of the wildlife in their natural habitat is the ultimate thrill that any wildlife lover would love to experience. In the wild, animals roam about uninhibited and go about their business without a care in the world. The abundant resources available in and the protective cushion provided by the wild mean that these animals continue to thrive in these regions. Taking a safari in the wild and having a close encounter with these awesome animals is not an everyday event, and so when you get an opportunity you would want to make the most of it. The unspoiled beauty of the wild is another reason why people are so attracted to the wild. But then, not all safaris are the same and not all wildlife has the same element of thrill. So, we have prepared a list of the best safaris in the world from which you can have your pick.

Costa Rica

One of the premier destinations for a jungle safari, the lush green jungles of Costa Rica is home to a number of popular and endangered animals. Costa Rica is one of the top 20 countries with the most diverse plant and animal species in the world; it has over 500,000 species of wildlife contributing for almost 4% of all species in the world. A wildlife safari to Costa Rica would present you the opportunity to see exotic birds, insects and butterflies. Popular animals include monkeys, languid sloths, crocodiles, countless lizards and poison-dart frogs. The Giant Anteater is an endangered species found here, and it may well be your last opportunity to see it in real!

 
Costa Rica Wildlife. Photo: flickr, Darren Johnson

Costa Rica Wildlife. Photo: flickr, Darren Johnson

 

Kenya

Kenya has to be the best place for safari as it has a wide variety of flora and fauna; from the famous Cape Buffalo to wildebeest to African Elephant to Giraffe, you name the most popular animals and you will find them here. In fact, the famous “Big five” can be spotted here. The abundant wildlife in Kenya is not just restricted to its parks, pens and reserves, of which there are many, but you can even go off the beaten track and try out less famous destinations that may spring a surprise. Birdwatching is another activity that you can indulge in during your safari holidays in Kenya. Read More »

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5 Great Road Trip Routes

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You just left the city miles behind, now pristine landscapes are passing by your windows. The fellow passenger is sitting next to you with a map spread on her lap. In the faint light of the car cockpit and with squinted eyes, she is trying to find the correct motorway exit.

There is as many facets of travel styles as there are of travelers. Each way of traveling has its upsides and downsides — and there is hardly one that makes you feel as free and spontaneous as the classical road trip. It does not really matter if you rent a car (mostly affordable these days) or drive your own vehicle to the destination. Traveling with a VW van (or anything similar) is especially stylish, as it can be transformed into a minimalistic camping van if necessary.

 
Foto: flickr, Zach Dischner

Photo: flickr, Zach Dischner

 

It is advisable to have an approximate itinerary, but not absolutely necessary. If you like a place a lot, why not just stay there a little longer? And if you’d like to leave earlier than expected you could definitely squeeze in that nice little town that just didn’t fit into your travel itinerary initially.

We have collected a few suggestions for great road trip routes for you, convincing either through beautiful landscapes or diverse, interesting stopovers — or both. Of course, the possibilities are infinite. Help us complete the list by telling us about the road trips you are planning to take or have already taken! Read More »

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Top 5 peaceful destinations in India to flush your stress

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Guest article by Anshul Srivastava.

 

India is the country that boasts several entrancing tourist destination offering outstanding picturesque panoramas. On the other hand, the real challenge is to find a place at which the environs are extremely serene. The major tourist spots are usually jammed with time, for the reason that each tourist wants to take a sight of such areas. However, if you are looking for the most tranquil places to spend a quality vacation and flush out the stress of the hectic routine, the below listed are the options just right for you.

 

Set yourself amid the fascinating landscapes in Nubra Valley, Ladakh

Positioned on the northern edge in the map of India, Nubra Valley in Ladakh is a highly secluded place that has become accessible to the travelers in recent times. This place can be reached only by passing Khardung La, which is one of the utmost mountain passes throughout the globe. This place is in the close proximity from the highest battlefield in the world. Even then, this valley and its surroundings are tranquil and calm, with spreading meadows, flowers, fields and welcoming people. For staying in Nubra, you need a permit, which is given for the maximum duration of a week. On making a trip to this scenic place, you will witness the intense quietude.

 

Nubra Valley, Ladakh. Photo: flickr, shankii

Nubra Valley, Ladakh. Photo: flickr, shankii

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A Travel Tip for Seekers: The Ashram

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An ashram is a spiritual sanctuary.  The word ashram is of sanskrit origin, modified to modern Hindi.  An ashram was originally a place where a holy man, teacher or guru lived, and students or followers who came from afar to study with them, would eventually end up needing a place to crash.  A community would spring up around each ashram, with its inhabitants associated with the spiritual teacher in some way.  Cleanliness, even a starkness or decor, is principle, as those who came were not interested in worldly things.

Some rights reserved by ruffin_ready. Flickr.

Some rights reserved by ruffin_ready. Flickr.

As religion and spirituality shift, change and spread around the world, the ashram is changing as well.  Many masters passed, leaving no one to take their place as the head of the ashram.  Scandal may have left communities lost for guidance.  Eastern philosophies headed west, and western seekers were more easily able to head east.  The ashram had to change as well, and now they are kept open by the remaining followers by offering cheap accommodation, yoga or meditation classes, and meals.

It’s a tough situation – those left to manage the ashrams, had never wanted to become proprietors of a business.  They would often rather be studying or practicing.   I have visited many different ashrams in the east and west, and I want to share some tips with budget travelers, who may find their way to an ashram for one reason or another.  It’s important to know that it’s not just a cheap place to stay.  Many arrive or live in an ashram because they are seeking a haven, a place to study, to practice, to contemplate life.  Here are a few tips to help you understand how you can be respectful, and get the most from your visit.  An ashram is NOT a youth hostel, so if you’re looking for a party, stay elsewhere.

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Why I Won’t Travel Alone

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Beep. Beep. Beep. The emergency room monitors sliced through the fog of narcotics and anti-nausea medications. The IV in the crook of my arm made it impossible to get comfortable. My neck and head throbbed with a pain I had never experienced before. Over three days and the course of two ER visits, an MRI, a CAT scan, a few hits of intravenous morphine, and a few prescription bottles filled with muscle relaxers and Vicodin, I had become convinced: after this week, I would never, ever travel alone.

Emergency Room. Photo by KOMUnews

Emergency Room. Photo by KOMUnews

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