6 hidden locations to visit in the U.S.A

When it comes to choosing a vacation spot, it is sometimes necessary to shun the obvious urban cities and resorts. Searching for hidden holiday gems amongst the mountains, hills, bayous, bays and islands can yield delightful results.

Waipio, Hawaii
Waipio, HawaiiPunchup / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Here’s our list of hidden locations in the USA that provide a perfect escape. Remember that if you are travelling to the USA from certain countries, including the UK, you may need to apply for an Esta Visa Waiver. You can find out more about Esta Visas at www.estafasttrack.org.uk

  1. Waipio, Hawaii.

Hidden away near the northern tip of Big Island, this forgotten paradise was once home to Hawaiian royalty. Waipio Valley, also known as the Valley of Kings, is surrounded by soaring cliffs on all sides. Once an important centre for religious and political life on the Island, it is now home to less than 100 residents.

You can get a view of the valley from the Waipio Valley Outlook or you can make your way to the valley floor to enjoy the black sandy beach and the Hi’ilawe Falls. This little corner of Hawaii is a perfect place for a quiet visit.

  1. Bath, North Carolina.

Steeped in rich history, this sleepy village has remained largely unchanged since its colonial origins. Dating back to 1706, Bath is North Carolina’s oldest town. You will enjoy the peaceful air, colonial architecture and historic feel of this town. Grab a bite to eat on one of the restaurants and listen to fascinating tales of pirates who roamed this land or simply sit back and watch sailboats bobbing silently on the creek.

Attractions in this small town include boating, fishing, the historic Palmer-Marsh House and the Banner House.

  1. Mackinac Island, Michigan.

This diminutive Island, edged by Lakes Michigan and Huron, offers a wonderful getaway location where you can relieve the simple pleasures of life. The Island has a no-car policy so you can only get around on foot or horseback, on a bike or by means of a horse-drawn carriage.

Here you can hike through wooded trails, enjoy breathtaking coastal views or go on a carriage tour of the town. This small Island is sure to charm you into making a repeat visit.

  1. Morgan City, Louisiana.

Spend your vacation in this corner of Cajun Country famed for the Mardi Gras Festival, gumbo, jazz and rumours of voodoo. Morgan City is located in the middle of the Atchafalaya River delta and plays host to the annual Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival on Labor Day weekend. This leads to three days filled with music and deep fried foods.

Give yourself time to unwind by strolling through the scenic downtown area, enjoy the sunset from the Allen Truss Bridge or just laze around in Lawrence Park and let the southern charm of this town soothe you.

  1. Solomon’s Island, Maryland.

This quiet waterfront fishing village sits at the tip of one of Chesapeake Bay’s peninsulas. Life here flows at a slow and relaxing pace with the locals fishing or sailing all year round. Whether you choose to stroll on the river walk, explore the lighthouse at Calvert Marine Museum or charter a boat for the day, a visit to this small village is bound to leave you refreshed.

  1. Guffey, Colorado.

Situated west of Pike Peak, this small, friendly mountain town is the right location for a lost weekend. Accommodation comes in the form of restored rustic cabins that date back to the 1800s. Alternatively, you can choose to camp out under the stars or make use of the available RV parking.

Take in the cool Colorado mountain air while strolling round the town. The buildings are a mix of the Wild West era and architecture from the 60’s. Once you have had your fill, you can easily drive to any of Colorado’s numerous attractions.

Destinations that are located away from popular tourist circuits are perfect if you are searching for a quiet spot free of crowds. They are the ideal locations to get some much needed rest and relaxation.

The UK’s North East Jewels

Tucked away in the North-East of England is the region of Northumberland. Taking its name from the Anglo-Saxon name Northumbria, literally mean the kingdom north of the river Humber, this part of the country has grown to become its own micro-nation set away from everything else. Its setting has seen it become a vital shipping hub for the UK as well as a thriving trade centre which led to the growth of the towns to great urban areas. Here is what the jewels of this north-east region have to offer.

Northumberland
Northumberlandarcher10 (Dennis) / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Newcastle upon Tyne

Set on the banks of the River Tyne, the largest city of the north-east area is Newcastle upon Tyne. Popularly known as “the Toon”, it is one of the most exciting cities in the United Kingdom. Rich with history from the Roman era through to the modern shipping and trade industry that it built itself upon, Newcastle is well worth a visit. It also has the second most listed buildings in the UK after Bath with Grey Street which leads down to the stunning Quayside voted one of the best views. Its people, widely known as Geordies, are one of a kind and their attitude to life is to work hard and play hard whilst also having a lot of love for their football team Newcastle United. The Geordie attitude to life adds to what is a widely known nightlife and it is often listed as the best city for nightlife and clubbing in the UK.

Sunderland

With a rich history in the shipping industry, Sunderland has grown nearby to Newcastle on the banks of the River Wear. The city’s rich shipping industry is celebrated with the British Royal Navy’s biggest ship the HMS Ocean being Sunderland’s adopted ship. Like Newcastle, Sunderland also has its own dialect and unique type of person known as Mackems. Given the vicinity of the town cities, Sunderland and Newcastle often have a rivalry in terms of anything which stems back to the English Civil War, but it most widely celebrated when the cities’ two football teams come together. Both top flight teams, the Tyne Wear derby is one of the most heated football rivalries in the country, if not the world.

Durham

In nearby County Durham, is the city of Durham which is a glorious cathedral city that is well worth the drive from Northumberland. It is home to one of the United Kingdom’s most fabulous and breath taking views. Set up on a hill, the stunning cathedral and castle lie next door to each other, dominating over the city. But certainly not in a bad way. The cathedral is one of the best in the country and given its setting next the castle, it is well worth a visit.

South Shields

The Northumberland coast is home to some fantastic towns but the one most worth visiting is the town of South Shields. The British seaside town is well celebrated and South Shields acts as one of many near Northumberland. Whilst there is Whitely Bay and Tynemouth, at the mouth of the River Wear, South Shields has everything you would want with seaside attractions and amusements but also a stunning beach. It is also the finish line for the annual Great North Run which is the biggest half-marathon in the world.

If you want to stay nearby to these great Northumberland towns and cities, visit www.cottagesinnorthumberland.co.uk for a wide selection of cottage accommodation.

Markets of Paris

Paris is a beautiful city, visited by millions every year for its famous sights such as the Eiffel Tower and the Arc D’Triomphe, along with the chic café culture. A popular location for romantic getaways, you can fly to Paris from the UK in around an hour, making it an ideal destination to visit for a weekend especially if you love bargaining with street sellers at markets.

Eiffel Tower GigaPixelized!!  (Paris) (Zoom Inside)
Eiffel TowerAnirudh Koul / Foter / CC BY-NC

Every neighbourhood of Paris offers a range of ‘marchés’ (markets) that fill the streets for a varying number of days a week. There is no doubt that you will come across them whilst exploring the city. However, there are several that stand out from the crowd. Keep them in mind as places to visit for a memorable and exciting market experience.

Food is one thing the French are famed for, so it is a given that the city is brimming with food markets. Probably the most famous and biggest of these is the Sunday ‘Marché Bastille’. Lining Richard Lenoir Boulevard in the 11th arrondissement (district), it is filled with hundreds of stalls proffering gourmet produce. Almost anything can be found for a reasonable price, making it popular with locals and tourists alike.

Also located in the Bastille area is Place d’Aligre, open Tuesday to Sunday. Actually two adjacent markets, ‘Marché d’Aligre’ has some of the cheapest food stalls in the city, whilst the covered ‘Marché Beauvau’ sells high quality, yet reasonably priced produce that draws people from all over the city.

Discreet and hidden away in the fashionable Marais area is the ‘Marché les Enfants Rouge’. The oldest covered market in Paris, founded in 1628, it is set apart by its range of ‘eat in’ stalls, offering culinary delights from Asia and Africa in addition to traditional French fare. Open every day except Monday, it is pleasingly affordable.

For a more exotic feel, delve into ‘Marché Dejean’ (18th arrondissement). Open Tuesday to Sunday mornings, the bustling African-influenced bazaar is heaving with exotic foods and spices, African eateries and textile stalls. The nearby ‘Marché Barbes’, open on Wednesday and Saturday, is similarly stocked, whilst ‘Marché Belleville’ (found in the 19th arrondissement on Tuesday and Friday) boasts a more Middle Eastern souk-type atmosphere.

There are many other noted food markets. ‘Saxe-Breteuil’ (7th), close to the Eiffel Tower, sells quality French produce from Thursday to Saturday. The tiny ‘Marché Monge’ (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday), in the Latin Quarter, is popular for its quaint atmosphere and beautiful stalls, which offer some of the freshest food in Paris. Also look out for ‘Marché Montorgueil’ in the 1st arrondissement and ‘Marché Buci’, open daily in the 6th.

If you’re looking for a keepsake of Paris beyond the usual tourist trinkets, there are many flea and antique markets to investigate. One of the more renowned, at Porte de Cligancourt, is the ‘Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen’, often referred to as ‘Les Puces’ (“The Fleas”) for short. Covering seven hectares, it is the largest antiques markets in the world, with hundreds of thousands visiting each weekend to explore the organised sprawl of covered and open market space. Open Saturday to Monday until 6pm, items for sale range from cheap bric-a-brac to collectable antiques.

‘Marché de Montreuil’, in the 20th arrondissement, is smaller and less organised than ‘Les Puces’ but great for a bargain. It is off the tourist track and has some real vintage gems to be found if you’re willing to be patient and to haggle for the best price. It is open on weekends and Mondays.

‘Marché aux Puces de Vanves’ (14th arrondissement) is another favourite. Each weekend, between 7am and 1pm, over 350 stalls display their wares. Rather than selling larger items, this market is excellent for vintage clothes and jewellery.

Specialist markets can also be found dotted around the city, catering to a variety of interests.

Paris’ first purely organic market comes in the shape of ‘Marché Biologique Raspail’ in the 6th arrondissement. Open Sunday and Tuesday mornings, it caters to an upmarket, health-conscious clientele and prices reflect this. As well as a shopping experience, it is also a trendy hangout spot!

‘Marché Rond-Point des Champs Elysées’ is a stamp market open on Thursdays, weekends and holidays; serious collectors gather here to buy and trade stamps and postcards. You can also discover the weekend book market (‘Marché aux Livres’) at Parc George Brassens in the 15th arrondissement. It sells old and new books and even first editions and those dating back 200 years! ‘Marché Saint-Pierre’, meanwhile, is the place to go for textiles and fabrics. Open every day but Sunday, it offers a wide variety of fabrics, from tablecloths to rare materials.

The ‘Marché aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux’, located on the Île de la Cité in the Seine, has been dedicated to flowers and birds for more than 200 years. Flowers are sold every day of the week, whilst birds are on display on Sundays.

For original artwork, visit the ‘Marché de la Création de Paris Bastille’. This 11th district venue, occupied every Saturday, is the biggest weekly art market in Paris. Over 200 self-representing artists and designers display their work to visitors. A slightly smaller arts market sets up every Sunday in the 14th arrondissement Montparnasse.

Whatever you’re looking for, Paris will have a market for it, from food to bric-a-brac and collectables. There are so many that you are sure to stumble across at least one by pure chance. There are hundreds of hotels in Paris, so wherever you stay you’ll never be too far away from a bargain or two. Be prepared then to head home with much more than you ever intended to!

Top 3 European Winter Travel Destinations

There used to be a time when taking a holiday abroad in wintertime was something that only the  very rich would do – naturally, to go skiing. Nowadays snow sports are a lot cheaper to practice and there are many more winter holiday hotel options out there to ensure that everyone can travel and enjoy their holidays in the winter. The problem now is deciding where to go. We will not be covering destinations where it’s hot in winter – the so called “winter sun” destinations. Instead, we’re focusing exclusively on cold, snowy winter destinations where you can make the most of the cold season.

1. Sweden

Our first impulse was to talk about the whole of Scandinavia, but Sweden really seems to be head and shoulders above all other Scandinavian countries. It’s not that its resorts are better or that the snow is magically more skiable in Sweden, it’s because of its diversity. Sweden is a large country, which means that its southern end is down south enough to have a somewhat mild temperature – which can get pretty hot in Summer, by the way – and it’s northern regions are so close to the North Pole that you can witness the Aurora Borealis. In contrast, Denmark never gets as cold and Finland cannot offer much in terms of beaches, for example. In fact, Denmark cannot even offer much in the way of mountains, since it’s a very flat country. There’s also the advantage that Sweden is a relatively cheap country to stay in, especially compared to other northern European places, so it seems to be a perfect winter destination.

Sweden
Image by maarten49 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/30149154@N08/)

2. The Alps

The reason why the Alps made number 2 on the list is that they are becoming a bit too crowded. We complained when they were too exclusive, of course, but now we keep on complaining. And this is mostly because the parts of the Alps belonging to Italy and France are really letting their quality go down in favor of mass tourism, which we’re sure gives them a lot more money, but it makes us less inclined to want to visit since even when it comes to winter sports holidays ,we still like to feel in peace and to be able to relax.

The Alps
Image by by atsubor (http://www.flickr.com/photos/22152932@N08/)

3. The Pyrenees

The Pyrenees have always been left to play second fiddle to the Alps, but the truth is there is nothing that you can do in the Alps that you can’t do in the Pyrenees. A natural border between France and Spain, it’s a region that seems to unite the two peoples more than it separates them. It’s a matter of pride for locals of both countries to have this range of mountains literally in their backyard and it shows in the way that they keep it. And that means that what was once a great alternative to the Alps now takes precedent to them in the hearts of many people, and not just locals. The close proximity to Portugal and England definitely helps increase the flow of tourists to the area, and that has helped it expand greatly.

The Pyrenees
Image by by jntns (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jntn/)

Holly Adams writes for Coupon Croc, where you can get Thomson discounts for your next holidays.

UK Breaks for Artists

Many artists and aspiring artists yearn to go to France or Italy on a painting holiday. There are some great locations for artists there, particularly if you like painting landscapes, but do not neglect the UK. Artists such as Constable and Turner extolled the virtues of UK landscapes and the light in parts of the UK is actually quite unique. So as an artist where can you go? If you don’t want tuition then go anywhere that inspires you. Whether that is a city centre location, full of life, or a cottage in the middle of the Scottish Highlands, it is quite easy to search online to find locations. Try somewhere new for a couple of days and see what you can create. If you want to have tuition during your break then there are many options available. Here are just a few.

Brambles Art Retreat

A beautiful 17th century house in Devon is the location for these courses. Two tutors are resident, and all levels are welcome – even if you’ve never painted before. It is possible to learn even if you think you have no artistic ability! Day courses, weekend or 5 day residential courses are available depending on your requirements. There are three rooms available here, and when they are full extra guests stay at a local B&B just two minutes away. There is a studio on-site and a large garden.

artcourses.co.uk

This is a directory listing residential art courses in the UK and Ireland. Covering everything from painting to sculpture, pottery and jewellery it is a great resource if you are looking for an art holiday.

Joe Daisy Painting Courses

Based near Reading in Berkshire, these are designed to encourage you to find and develop your inner artist. A variety of courses are available from beginners to advanced levels. All materials are provided. Accommodation is of a high standard, and many art books are available for guests to borrow. With easy transport links, this may be a good choice for you if you are looking for a short course.

Creative Breaks

Offering a variety of creative breaks around Herefordshire, this not for profit organisation provides links to course providers. Some of the courses include accommodation, but others recommend somewhere to stay. Whichever kind of art, or craft, you are interested in, they are likely to have something to inspire you.

Cornwall Painting Holidays

No list of art holidays would be complete without mentioning Cornwall. The light and scenery in Cornwall has inspired many artists throughout history and continues to do so. These holidays are led by Tim Hall who has exhibited throughout the UK and has received some high profile commissions.

Alex is a writer and journalist. He loves to write about everything from travel to tech, SEO to multimedia to DVD duplication services .

Diani Tours and Safaris

Diani Tours and Safaris

Diani Tours & Safaris is a Tour and Travel Company Registered Legally in Kenya. We work under the license of the Kenya Tourist Board (K.T.B) and the Ministry of Tourism. We are based in South Coast Diani Beach, situated at Diani Beach Shopping Centre.

Diani Tours & Safaris offers professional attention to all clients who come to us. We work tirelessly towards promoting Kenyan tourism, considering that Kenya is one of the most fascinating tourist destinations in Africa. Over the duration of our operation, we have been offering Air, Road, Dhow, Rail and Balloon safaris within East Africa.

We offer personalized services to our clients through our qualified staff who have great communication skills, and can fluently speak German, French, Italian, and English. You can always be assured of a safari to remember. Since the establishment of our office we have handled a great number of Tourists from all over the world who never regret our quality services. While in Kenya, remember to visit Diani Tours and Safaris for a dream safari!

Our Services

  • Road Safaris.
  • Air Safaris
  • Honeymooners Safaris
  • City Tours
  • Bush Tours
  • Dolphin Dhow (Wasini Island)
  • Bird Watching and Filming Safaris (East Africa)
  • Mountain Climbing (Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya & Mt Longonot)
  • Fishing Expeditions (Pemba Channel & Lake Victoria)
  • Airport and Hotel Transfers
  • Camping Safaris
  • Lodges, Villas, Camps and Cottages booking

Note: We also offer Group safaris on Request dedicated to clients on tight budgets or those who do not wish to be separated. Please contact us for the best offers.

Why Us?

  • We offer Tailor made safaris which are always made according to client’s preferences.
  • Our services and charges are targeted to clients who are under squeezed budgets.
  • Our staff are well-trained, friendly and well-informed.
    – They speak English, German, Italian and French.
  • We offer personalized services to our clients.
  • Our office is located on a nice location where clients can easily visit us.
  • Our company is legally registered under K.T.B (Kenya Tourist Board)
    and the Ministry of Tourism.
  • We accept VISA cards, Master Cards, Credit cards and also Cash.
  • Our vehicles are well-maintained ensuring safe safaris for all our clients.
Deutsche Fassung

Our Office

Diani Tours is managed by Rose Mary Lucas. Our office consists of drivers, guides and translators who are well trained in tourism management. Our drivers & guides are well informed about the East African National Reserves and Parks and this makes it easy for our clients to understand the animals and birds, and also the physical attractions of our parks.

Contact

Diani Tours & Safaris
Diani Beach Shopping Centre
Diani Beach Road
Mombasa
Kenya

P.O. Box 5490 – 80401, Diani Beach
Tel/Fax: +254 40 320 2078
Cell: +254 72 384 5301 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              +254 72 384 5301      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Skype: Skype Me™!

info@dianisafaris-kenya.com

Client Safety

The safety of our clients is our first priority. Our company uses vehicles, charters and all means of transport that are legally insured according to the terms and regulations of I.A.T.A (International Association of Travel Agencies). Therefore you can be assured of a safe safari by Diani Tours and Safaris Company. Have a fantastic holiday in Kenya!

Top 5 City Breaks In The World

If you are looking for a change of scene, but sitting by the sea just isn’t your style, then the time has come to start looking at city breaks.

Prague
Image by ??ø???_B?????

Cities across the globe offer an exciting overseas experience, where travellers can experience the distilled essence of their destination country. If the idea of exploring urban area appeals then why not try one of these exciting overseas city breaks for your next getaway?

Paris

The city of light, as it is popularly known, has long been a favourite for those looking for a short break or urban getaway. With its reputations for romance and rich cultural history, Paris remains a top destination for city breaks. Stroll the city’s signature tree-lined boulevards or indulge in a little top notch retail therapy along in famous shopping streets. Other suggestions of things to do include:

  • A trip up the Eiffel Tower – see Paris from a whole new perspective and examine this architectural icon up close.
  • A ride on the Bateaux Mouches – cruise the Seine and see the sights in style. Also available with dinner options.
  • Catch a show at the Moulin Rouge – the amazing cabaret venue still hosts nightly dinner shows and is the best spectacle in town.

Prague

Since the fall of the iron curtain Eastern Europe has opened up to tourism, with the Czech capital of Prague at the vanguard of areas efforts. Heart-warming hospitality, economic accommodation and amazing architecture combine to frame a fantastic city getaway. Things to see include:

  • Charles Bridge – A landmark of the city, with its towers and statues, easily accessed from the old town.
  • Jewish Ghetto – the original ghetto echoes with the memories of the past and creates a poignant impression on all who pass through.

Hong Kong

With its juxtaposition of East and West, Hong Kong is a real cultural melting pot and an exciting city destination. With great shopping and stunning sights, a visit to Hong Kong is a once in a lifetime experience. Suggested activities include:

  • Cable car trip up Victoria Peak – take the steep trolley ride to the top of these geographical feature for stunning cityscapes.
  • Junk Trip on Hong Kong harbour – cruise in traditional Chinese style soaking up the oriental atmosphere.

Barcelona

A relatively recent addition to the list of must-see cities – Barcelona can hold its own in the Urban break stakes. Stroll Las Ramblas for a feel Spanish feel and soak up the unique European ambience. Other attractions worth a visit are:

  • Sagrada Familia – this Gaudi-designed architectural wonder of a basilica is an icon of the cityscape and must be seen to be believed.
  • Magic Fountain of Montjuic – combining music, light, movement and water – the magic fountain has captured the hearts of generations of visitors on Barcelona breaks.

New York

The Big Apple, as it is known, remains popular for those seeking a city-based holiday. The epitome of American cool, New York represents the ultimate in urban adventures. Suggested stops are:

  • The Empire State Building – Architectural icon and city signature, this remains a favourite site for city residents and incomer alike.
  • Central Park – Tour on foot, bike, horse or even by carriage and enjoy this amazing green space in the heart of Manhattan.

Ten of the World’s Most Amazing Eco Friendly Hotels

The tourism industry is all about promoting fabulous vacation destinations. To help preserve those destinations, hotels are making changes to the way they do business. Self-preservation requires that they participate in protecting the very destinations they promote.

Eco friendly hotels are a massive hit with tourists. They like knowing that they are spending their vacation dollars with hotels that recognize the importance of preserving the very sights they come to see. All of these hotels feature the ultimate in luxury and service. Let’s take a look at what many consider the top ten eco-friendly hotels in the world.

1: The Whitepod Eco-Retreat, Switzerland

They are long on amenities but make a small footprint on the environment. The resort combines high tech materials with renewable energy sources to create individual geodesic domes for guest. The domes are heated by wood. The light sources are petrol based. Access is available by dogsleds, show shoes or skies as there are no roads up to the resort.

2: Chumbe Island Coral Park Zanzibar, Tanzania

Nestled on a small previously uninhabited island, the Chumbe Island Coral Park, is dedicated to preserving the coral reef ecosystems of the area. The resort is solar powered. It uses grey water systems, composting and other large-scale preservation techniques. The eco-bungalows are private and practical. There are only seven bungalows ensuring privacy and first class service. The island can only be reached by boat.

3: Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa, USA

This is a great blend of creature comforts and eco-friendly design. The resort has everything a guest would expect. Luxuriously appointed rooms, world class cuisine and unparalleled service make it a resort to remember. The resort uses environmentally sustainable materials and products in its operation. Energy efficiency, recycling, and waste reduction are three of the main principals the hotel uses to stay green.

4: Tiamo Resort,  Bahamas

This small, intimate resort offers eleven individual guest bungalows. The design is so efficient that the entire resort uses the same amount of electricity in a month as an average American household. Privacy and simplicity help bring this resort to the top ten eco-friendly hotels list.

5: Spice Island Resort, Grenada

Located on the lush island of Grenada visitors are immersed in luxury. No detail is left unattended. They also attend to the needs of the environment. The salt water pool eliminates the need for chlorine. Solar powered hot water saves energy and eco-friendly electrical appliances help complete their efforts to save resources.

6: The Q Hotel and Spa, Kansas, USA

The Q is Kansas City’s contribution to the top ten eco-friendly hotels list. Being designed for maximum energy efficiency is just the beginning. They use environmentally friendly cleaning products and even have a hybrid shuttle. All of these efforts pay off in big dividends that the hotel puts into the opulent decor and amazing service.

7: Voyages Longitude 131, Australia

Five star luxury in a tent. Each “tent” is designed to provide the maximum amount of comfort using the minimum amount of resources. Reverse cycle air-conditioning allows guests to achieve their own personal level of comfort. They have all the services of a big resort, yet make a small foot print on this primitive landscape. Water and energy conservation are a must in this environment. You can fly to Uluru although there are more cheap domestic flights to Alice Springs from cities across Australia.

8: Adrere Amellal, Egypt

Located in the desert, this resort blends in almost seamlessly with the surroundings. Made of traditional clay and water, there is no electricity in the resort. Beeswax candles and organic meals create a unique experience. This resort goes all natural. A true pioneer among eco friendly hotels.

9: Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Colorado, USA

This is the perfect resort for those who love the vast outdoors. They ranch prides themselves on offering activities that nature intended. Horseback riding, fishing, canoeing, and more keep spring travelers busy. Winter brings skiers, explorers and the like. The Ranch keeps things natural and uncluttered. They promote energy conservation, composting, recycling and other strategies for staying green.

10: Soneva Fushi Resort, Maldives

The resort sits in on an island surrounded by a fabulous coral lagoon. They are working toward achieving a state of carbon neutrality. Furnishings are made from renewable resources and energy conservation is crucial. They pride themselves on offering intelligent luxury.

All of these eco-friendly hotels are totally committed to saving resources while offering the best in luxury, privacy and service. World class hotels do not have to encroach on the destinations they promote. These hotels are proof that they can exist peacefully and productively.

Bio:  Author Richard Greenwood works for Flight Centre Australia, provider of cheap international flights which encourages environmentally responsible travel. Richard makes an active method to minimise his carbon footprint when travelling and hopes to spread the message that going eco does not mean giving up on the things you want.

Visit South Africa’s stunning Victoria Falls

South Africa’s an amazing destination for a holiday, thanks to its combination of the scenic Winelands, spectacular national parks and vibrant cities. Personally, I think Victoria Falls should definitely be high on your to-visit list; read on to find out more.

Key facts about Victoria Falls

Before I get carried away with the finer details, let’s take a look at some of the basics – like where the falls are and other key facts. You’ll find Victoria Falls in the town of Livingstone in the west of Zambia, just across from Zimbabwe.

Victoria Falls Zambezi
Victoria Falls Zambezi, South AfricaZest-pk / Foter.com / CC BY

They’re created by the Zambezi River which, by the time it tumbles down this series of basalt gorges, is an impressive 2 km wide – a size that really does have to be seen to be believed. In fact, it’s the sheer magnitude of this natural wonder, teamed with its natural beauty, that has made it such a famous and important site; indeed, it’s the largest sheet of falling water in the world.

The roar of the falls is incredibly impressive – not surprising considering around 546 cubic metres of water cascades every minute. Named after the reigning monarch of England at the time of its discovery by David Livingstone, Victoria Falls is often referred to locally by another name: Mosi-oa-Tunya. Translated, this means ‘the smoke that thunders’ – a wonderfully atmospheric name, don’t you think? And, considering the spray from the falls can be seen from a huge 20 km away, it’s also pretty apt.

Where can I stay?

Given that the falls are in the town of Livingstone, it makes sense to stay there for a day or two to make the most of your trip. Fortunately, Livingstone is home to plenty of gems of its own, including national parks perfect for safari trips and fascinating museums.

As an added bonus, there are some seriously luxurious places to stay in Livingstone, which I think means you can look forward to this leg of your trip being a truly memorable one. Among the top resort options to consider is The Royal Livingstone and the Protea Hotel Livingstone, both of which you book through companies like Wanderforth.

What can I do while I’m there?

While seeing the falls will no doubt be the highlight of your trip, you’re bound to be curious as to what else you can do in Livingstone. Here are a few of things that most appeal to me:

• Going on a cruise on the Zambezi River. To strike a romantic note, pick an evening trip.
• Visiting the Victoria Falls Field Museum. This is a great place to go if you fancy finding out more about the history of the falls, as it tells the story of how they were formed.
• Exploring Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. You can opt to explore this reserve – which at 66 sq km is fairly small – either in your own car (if you’ve hired one) or as part of a group tour. Giraffes, antelopes, zebra and elephants are among the animals you might be lucky enough to see.
• Taking a dip in the Devil’s Pool. To do this, you need to visit between September and December, when the river’s flow should be at its lowest. You see, this ‘pool’ is perched right on the edge of the falls, which means this is the only time of year you can use it without being tumbling down the gorge with the water! So, as you can probably tell, splashing around here is likely to be something you’ll never forget.

Why La Jolla is California’s Hidden Gem

Known as the Jewel of Southern California, La Jolla is a hidden gem that locals would prefer to keep to themselves. But, with so many great reasons to visit, La Jolla is quickly becoming a must-see vacation spot. With affordable flights to La Jolla from most Western U.S. cities, there’s no reason not to go.

La Jolla California
La Jolla California

A Walkable Village Area

While most of California centers around car culture, La Jolla is a town where people enjoy walking. Mere steps from the Pacific Ocean, La Jolla village is door-to-door designer boutiques and impressive dining. Girard Avenue and Prospect Street is where you will find the greatest variety of shops, ranging from top designers to popular affordable brands. Stop for a snack or meal at one of the several award-winning restaurants and cafes interspersed throughout the village.

Stay in the heart of this bustling village at the Grande Colonial Hotel. Well suited to the affluent vibe of the village, this hotel features stylish colonial furnishings, fine dining at NINE-TEN restaurant, and attentive concierge service.

Extraordinary Wildlife Sightings

It’s not often that you’re able to get up close and personal with wildlife, like you can in La Jolla. The 6,000 acre La Jolla Ecological Reserve draws divers and snorkelers from all over. Through the crystal clear water, you’re guaranteed to see fish of every imaginable color, lobster, seals, and leopard sharks. Enjoy the scenery without fear; the water in the reserve is just 15 to 30 feet deep.

The La Jolla Children’s Pool, originally designed as a protected and shallow swimming area for kids, is often visited by harbor seals. At any time of year, you can see dozens of seals basking in the sun on the warm sand.

Sunbathing Galore

The La Jolla beaches put the sparkle in this hidden gem. The wide stretches of sand mean never fighting for beach chair space, while the reliable, yet calm, waves make surfing a dream. There are several area beaches to choose from, but La Jolla Shores is best for families and sunbathers.

If you don’t feel like flaunting your bikini at the shore, pull-up a plush lounger at one of the many resort-style hotels with pool areas. La Valencia Hotel offers the best of both worlds. Get bronzed at the stunning outdoor pool or stroll to the beach in 5 minutes.

World-Class Golf

Play where the professionals golf at Torrey Pines. Offering two courses that hug the bluff and feature breathtaking views of the ocean, you’ll have a hard time keeping your eye on your ball. Despite hosting the PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open, both courses are open to the public.

Stay at the golf course at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. This hotel offers surprisingly luxurious amenities, despite its affordable room rates.

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