Wild Junket » Travel Lists http://www.wildjunket.com An adventure travel blog that brings you on a rollercoaster ride around the world Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:12:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.6 5 Great Locations for a Photography Tour http://www.wildjunket.com/2015/03/02/5-great-locations-photography-tour/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2015/03/02/5-great-locations-photography-tour/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:30:23 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=18018 Shwedagon Pagoda, YangonPhotography is a crucial part of any travel blogger’s armory and is a fantastic way of capturing moments and telling stories as Nellie recently proved. However, it can be difficult to get the perfect shot under pressure if you don’t know what to look for and what to take into account. Taking a photo tour [...]

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Photography is a crucial part of any travel blogger’s armory and is a fantastic way of capturing moments and telling stories as Nellie recently proved. However, it can be difficult to get the perfect shot under pressure if you don’t know what to look for and what to take into account.

Taking a photo tour is a great way to get an insight into a destination from someone who knows it inside out, as well getting insider knowledge on where to get the best shots and how to take them. Below are 5 fantastic, photogenic destinations which are the perfect locales to put yourself in the hands of a pro and let them take your photography to the next level.

1. Burma/Myanmar

Burma/Myanmar is a photographer’s dream, from its ancient pagodas to its unique landscapes. It is a destination that keeps the cameras rolling, and you never run out of opportunities for fresh shots. Its capital Yangon is the best destination to begin a photography tour (this company comes highly recommended); take snap shots of the Shwedagon pagoda which shows off the incredible Buddhist architecture surrounded by colorful robed monks wandering the temples. Bagan is an incredible an unique spot with its miles of ancient ruins and stunning photographic opportunities. Mandalay takes your breath away with its wooden carved monasteries. Other great photographic opportunities include Inle Lake, a trip down the Ayeyarwady River and Ngapali beach when you want to capture a little slice of paradise.

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

2. India

There is something mysterious about India, and its huge variety of amazing landscapes, cultures and ancient attractions seem to continually beckon photographers to take more shots. Whether you want pictures of wildlife, mountains, beaches, palaces, desert or vibrant cities, India gives you incredible variety. You can capture the timeless beauty of the Taj Mahal, head to the Ranthambore National Park for wildlife sceneries, take a trip to Goa for beach views, hit the waterways of Kerala and for the most unspoiled landscapes be sure to go trekking in the Indian Himalayas.

A lady at the Jaipur Fort

3. Cuba

Cuba is one of the most remarkable destinations in the Caribbean and perfect for photography; it is rich in culture, historic treasures and scenic landscapes. The capital city of Havana is a must destination on a photographic tour of Cuba; it has a wealth of colonial architecture and classic American cars hooting in the streets. Other great destinations include Varadero  with its scenic beaches, Hologuin teeming with colonial architecture and churches, Santiago with its rich historical past, Santa Clara and the stunning Trinidad.

cuba trinidad photoImage by Tom McLoughlin

4. Morocco

Morocco is a land of contrasts that has lured travelers for ages to witness its historical treasures, landscapes and experience its rich culture. It is a photographer’s paradise with numerous opportunities to take great pictures. Marrakech just at the foot of the rugged Atlas ranges offers vibrant souks, the tranquil Marjorelle Gardens and the never-ending activities of Djemma el Fna. If you want amazing photos from on high, you can climb up to the Atlas ranges and enjoy world beating mountain vistas.  Essaouira offers incredible beaches, blue colored streets and interesting architecture. Fez is the most ancient city in Morocco and is the perfect place to capture the ancient world that still lives on. Then there is the dunes at Erg Chebbi in Merzouga which gives you spectacular desert sceneries across the Sahara.

Colorful spices in Fez

5. Italy

The boot-shaped country of Italy offers incredible landscapes, breathtaking beaches, lakes, mountains, islands and charming rolling hills, and whether you are in the city or in the countryside, photographic opportunities are everywhere you turn. Venice offers its gorgeous architecture and canals whilst Tuscany is packed with ancient cities, pretty villages and fairytale landscapes. From there the Amalfi coast brings its colorful villages clinging dangerously on the towering cliffs, contrasted by Lake Como and its tranquil ambience. Some of the most photographed places in Italy include the Colosseum (which we visited with Roma Experience and highly recommend), the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the ruins in Pompeii, Cinque Terre and the Roman Forum.

Food in Tuscany, Italy

 This guest post was written by my friend, Tom Mclouglin.

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5 Epic Travel Sites to See in 2015 http://www.wildjunket.com/2015/02/03/travel-sites-2015/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2015/02/03/travel-sites-2015/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 14:30:23 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=17979 Taj MahalThe world is full of incredible icons, both natural and man-made, but how many have you actually seen in the flesh? Make 2015 the year you go and experience some of the most breathtaking sights around the world. There are plenty to choose from, but we’ve chosen 5 below which we found truly spectacular and [...]

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The world is full of incredible icons, both natural and man-made, but how many have you actually seen in the flesh? Make 2015 the year you go and experience some of the most breathtaking sights around the world. There are plenty to choose from, but we’ve chosen 5 below which we found truly spectacular and awe-inspiring. If you can do them all in 2015 we’ll be mighty impressed, and so will you…

1. Taj Mahal, India

Taj Mahal is one of the most popular tourist hot spots in India, and it is easy to see why. It stands magnificently amongst well-manicured gardens and rises far beyond the banks of the quiet waters of the river it sits on the banks of. The spectacular monument is what remains of the epic love story of the fourth Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his beautiful wife Mumtaz Mahal. Though they do not live among us now, the Taj Mahal is a constant reminder to the whole world of what they shared, and if you want to understand this deep love, make 2015 your year to discover this incredible symbol and travel in India.

Taj Mahal

2. Macchu Picchu, Peru

Macchu Picchu, the legendary center of the Inca civilization has been a source of great mystery, debates and wonder for ages. The ancient Incan ruins scattered on a 7,000 feet high hill top in the midst of the majestic Andes Mountains are fascinating and are a must visit for anyone seeking thrill and adventure in 2015. Machu Picchu remains a mystery to historians, scientists and individuals as well, so do not miss out these iconic ruins in Peru. You can choose to trek there by means of the famous Inca Trail, or opt to catch a train to Aguascalientes and then hike up at the crack of dawn to witness a gorgeous sunrise.

Macchu Picchu

3. Sahara Desert, Morocco

There are no other deserts that are quite as forbidding and vast as the Sahara Desert. Morocco is one place to go and experience its splendor. Along the way, you can take a thrilling (and bumpy!) camel ride past ancient Berber villages, climb the golden sandy dunes, witness breathtaking sunset and taste Moroccan dishes under the blanket of stars, just like a scene in Arabic Nights! If you end up visiting then we can highly recommend this Morocco tour company to show you the way.

Desert

4. Okavango Delta, Botswana

The Okavango Delta is the largest inland delta in the world and it consists of amazing series of canals and wetlands that are home to thousands of species. This epic delta has played a role in putting Botswana on the map as one of the most spectacular safari destinations in Africa. It is a place to get away from overwhelming city and be in touch with the incredible nature in its entire splendor. Take a traditional boat ride in the canals and have the experience of a lifetime, before watching one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see. Botswana is an amazing place in itself, but the Okavango is something that everyone should experience at some point in their lives.

A mokoro ride in Okavango Delta

5. Temples of Bagan, Burma

Set in a huge plain, Bagan is a sprawling mess of temples of all sizes, dotted around the land. It is a sight like no other, and offers some of the best sunrise and sunset vistas that you will find anywhere on the globe. Grab a bike and cycle amongst the temples during the day, before taking in their beauty as the sun sets over them – if you can find a seat on one of the holy pagodas, that is. The real challenge is finding the hidden temples which most tourists don’t go to and enjoying the show in private with nothing to disturb you but the hum of life going on down below.

Temples in Bagan

 

You’ll probably read a hundred lists this year about places you should visit in 2015, but for me these spots all offer something different and a nice mix of well known and beauties and some more off the beaten path. If you can see just a few of them in 2015 then there’s no doubt you’ll have had the trip of a lifetime!

 

 

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2014: My Year in Pictures http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/12/29/2014-year-pictures/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/12/29/2014-year-pictures/#comments Mon, 29 Dec 2014 18:38:49 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=17887 A Huli wigman with face paintingNow that 2015 is almost here, it’s that time of the year again for to look back and reflect. 2014 has indeed been a fulfilling and meaningful year — I reprioritized my travels and made it my number one mission to tick off items on my bucket list. Places like Brazil, Papua New Guinea and [...]

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Now that 2015 is almost here, it’s that time of the year again for to look back and reflect.

2014 has indeed been a fulfilling and meaningful year — I reprioritized my travels and made it my number one mission to tick off items on my bucket list. Places like Brazil, Papua New Guinea and Iran had always been high on my travel wish list, and this year, I finally made them a reality.

This year alone, I traveled to 16 different countries across four continents, almost all of which were new to me. All in all, I’ve  been to 90 countries on all seven continents, with only ten left to reach my goal of joining the Traveler Century Club!

2014 has also been a special year for Alberto and I as we just found out that I’m 6-months pregnant! It came as quite a surprise as I did not have a single clue until last month. Funny enough, the baby has already been to seven countries, flown on a paraglide and walked the Camino with me!

Let’s take a look back at 2014 and the places that have made the year such a fantastic one:

January: Papua New Guinea

Before 2014, Papua New Guinea was number one on my wish list and I’d always dreamt of exploring its highlands and getting to know its intriguing tribal culture. Papua New Guinea is one of the most isolated archipelagos in the Pacific and therefore tourism infrastructure is somewhat non-existent. It is also one of the least visited places in the world, largely because of the negative image it’s been portrayed in (in light of unstable political situations and tribal disputes), but that was perhaps why I found  it so compelling. As it turned out, Papua New Guinea was how I’d imagined, and more. I met and befriended the amazing Huli wigmen in the raw and rugged highlands of Tari, took some time to decompress and experience birdwatching there, and also went scuba diving and trekking around the coast of Tufi. Experiencing a sing-sing was another highlight of the trip for me, something that was truly out of this world. Special thanks to the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority for making this trip happen and for showing me their beautiful country.

A Huli wigman with face painting

Flying over the fjords of Tufi

February: Singapore and Thailand

Since I was in the Pacific, I took the opportunity to fly home to Singapore and see my family and friends. My sister also flew back from California to introduce our island nation to her one-year-old son, the joy of the family, Baby Dominic, as well as her Haitian partner Gary. It was so good to hang out with my family again and see how much my adorable nephew had grown in just one year! We also made the most out of our time in Asia to go on a short family holiday in Phuket, Thailand. We rented an apartment and spent all of our time on the beach, feasting on Thai food and temple-hopping — the perfect combination for a relaxing break!

Singapore

March: Brazil

I’d long dreamt of visiting Brazil during the Carnaval to join in the world’s biggest street party. This March, I finally had the opportunity to head back to my favorite continent, South America, with my favorite tour operator G Adventures to experience Carnaval and at the same time explore the wilderness of Brazil. We traveled from the colonial fishing town of Paraty (where I drank too much caipirinhas) to the earth-shattering waterfalls of Iguassu and then headed on to Bonito to snorkel in its famous freshwater rivers before camping in the lush wetlands of the Pantanal where some of Brazil’s endangered wildlife species still live.

Our trip ended with a bang in sexy and sizzling Rio de Janeiro, where we became a part of the world’s biggest Carnaval celebration. My personal highlight was the Sambadrome parade: thousands of samba dancers decked out in massive glittery headdresses and bikinis strutted their stuff on over-the-top chariots; the atmosphere was impalpable and the energy infectious  — I’d never quite seen anything like that before and it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Glitz and glamour

One of the most spectacular chariots at Sambadrome

April: Germany

After spending a few weeks back in Spain, I headed to Leipzig, Germany for the Social Travel Summit. It was the first conference/summit organized by iAmbassador and it turned out to be a huge success indeed. The top players of the travel blogging world as well as industry folks congregated at this event and it was truly an honor to be a part of it. I had a great time meeting up with some of my best friends in the industry and getting to know new ones. Since I was in Germany, I also took the chance to catch up with a few old friends of mine who lived nearby.

Leipzig

May: Australia and New Zealand

In May, I found myself back in the southern hemisphere, to spend two weeks exploring Queensland. It was my fourth trip to the land down under, but probably my first time properly spending time getting to know the region. Upon landing, I headed straight to the Outback, beginning with a four-day camping trip in the spectacular Boodjamulla( Lawn Hill) Gorge National Park with Adels Grove as my base. This was followed by a week of fun and adventure on the Gold Coast, where I went skydiving at 12,000 feet above ground, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, and cuddling koala bears in the conservation park.

Yehhaaaa!

IMG_0283

From Australia, I traveled further south to New Zealand, a country I’d been dying to go since I became an adventure junkie. I joined G Adventures once again on their Best of New Zealand trip, and had an excellent time traversing the North and South Island and experiencing adventure activities along the way. Some of the highlights for me included heli-hiking on Franz Josef Glacier, tubing in the Waitomo Caves and doing the Shotover Canyon Swing in Queenstown.

Heli-hiking Franz Josef Glacier

Multi-shot of my jump

July: Camino de Santiago

Ever since learning about the Camino de Santiago eight years ago, I wanted to walk it. In July, I finally fulfilled this long-term goal of mine. With two close friends of mine who had flown over from Canada and Sweden, we started the 300km walk in Leon, and made our way across northern Spain in just under two weeks. My aim of walking the Camino was to challenge myself both physically and mentally, and it sure kicked my ass. Walking around 25 km (15 miles) a day for 2-4 weeks was definitely hard work — I suffered tendinitis (inflammation of the tendons) on both my knees and pulled the tendons on both my Achilles. The Camino was one of the toughest challenges I’ve had to face in my life and I’m really glad I pulled through it, thanks to the support of my dear friends.

Physical challenges

August: Mongolia

After a short break in Spain to decompress and let my sore muscles take a break, I was back on the road again, and this time to the far-flung nation of Mongolia. This was once again another item high up on my bucket list, and I was so glad to have the chance to travel there with G Adventures. The capital city Ulaanbaatar was quite a surprise — it really wasn’t as smoggy and ugly as I’d imagined it to be. But the goal was to see the raw and rugged countryside and we spent most of our two weeks out on the rural steppes and mountains. My favorite moments of the trip included climbing up the sand dunes of the Gobi, hiking the canyons of Yolyn Am, and camping with a nomadic family (which included feasting on traditional underground barbecue and drinking home-made vodka with them at 10am!).

An outstanding sunset on the grasslands

The sand dunes of Khongoriin Els

September to October: Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey

This was the trip of the year for me, and it definitely turned out to the highlight of 2014. Traveling Central Asia had been my dream for a long time, tempting me with its golden sand dunes, ancient cities, and exotic architecture. I’d wanted to traverse the Silk Road for years, but the amount of red tape and expensive prices of getting from one country to another had always deterred me. Thankfully I found a great company who did the exact route I was looking for, at a good price, and they handled all the visa applications, transportation and accommodation. My two-month journey on the Silk Road with Oasis Overland took me through six countries and I saw as much of the region as I possibly could in that short period of time. [For those curious, I wrote a guide on traveling the Silk Road.]

Our first stop was Bishkek, where we celebrated Kyrgyzstan’s Independence Day at the traditional horse races.Then we went westward to Kazakhstan where we stumbled upon a fascinating Sunday animal market in Taraz and went hiking and camping in Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve. Our journey continued into Uzbekistan and we spent two weeks visiting the three main cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and KhivaUzbekistan’s architecture truly blew me away. Heading southwest, we crossed in Turkmenistan, camped by the Darvaza gas craters and marveled at the complete bizarreness of the modern capital city Ashgabat. From there, the group traveled further south into Iran, taking three weeks  to slowly make our way through Mashad, Tehran, Esfahan and up to Tabriz. Iran was definitely the biggest surprise of them all, and it’s a place I highly recommend people to visit. Meeting friendly locals everywhere in Iran made me realize just how misunderstood the country is. Finally, the trip ended in eastern Turkey.

PicMonkey Collage

Turquoise domes are omnipresent in Samarkand

 Burning brightly by night

The rock cut temples of Naqsh-e-Rostam

November: Sri Lanka

By November, I was exhausted from all the traveling, but this trip to Sri Lanka surprisingly rejuvenated me and gave me the motivation I needed to focus on work once again. I was there to attend the Travel Blogger Conference Asia 2014 organized by the PTBA (Professional Travel Bloggers Association), as one of the 40 selected members invited to Sri Lanka to discuss the future of travel blogging with exciting industry folks. The conference was refreshing and different from anything else I’ve attended, with a small intimate group of professionals getting together, swapping ideas and inspiring each other with innovative projects. Not only did the conference give me the kick I needed, Sri Lanka itself also surprised me. It may be just a leap away from the chaos and madness of India, and yet it seems like a world away. In place of the maddening crowd and traffic is a soothing sense of serenity and lush garden-like atmosphere.

The Sigiriya Rock from a distance

December: Granada

As part of my plan to explore more of our backyard, I joined Granada Tourism Board on a journey around the province of Granada (not to be confused with the city of Granada) to uncover little secrets in the region. What I found were little hidden corners and interesting local haunts that reminded me of how I first fell in love with this part of the world. It’s been almost four years since we’ve called Granada home (on and off), but there’s still so much to explore and discover. In just a few days, we went from the ski slopes of Sierra Nevada to the sun-kissed beaches of Costa Tropical and the traditional mountain villages of the Alpujarras.

Alpujarras

What’s Next?

We’re currently spending the festive season at our home base in Granada, Spain. With the baby due in March 2015, we expect to be spending much more time grounded in Granada. I’ve been talking about slowing down since two years ago, and it looks like this time I finally have no excuse!

We’ve had to cancel our trip to India for the Rickshaw Run at the last minute as well as a trip to Japan planned for April, but that’s just for the time being. I sure will continue to travel with the little one in tow next year and I bet she’ll be just as adventurous!

Here’s wishing all a fantastic 2015, hope to see you around!

How was 2014 for you? What were the highlights?


Interesting in reading more?

2013 in Photos

2012 in Photos

2011 in Photos

2010 in Photos

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10 Christmas Gift Ideas for Travelers http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/12/22/christmas-gift-ideas-for-travelers/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/12/22/christmas-gift-ideas-for-travelers/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:30:54 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=12878 Osprey Waypoint 85Christmas shopping or gift hunting in general, can sometimes be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know what to get for your loved ones. With the festive season almost upon us, for those who haven’t done their Christmas shopping, we hope this can help sprout some new ideas for future gift-giving. Travel Packs Luggage [...]

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Christmas shopping or gift hunting in general, can sometimes be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know what to get for your loved ones. With the festive season almost upon us, for those who haven’t done their Christmas shopping, we hope this can help sprout some new ideas for future gift-giving.

Travel Packs

Luggage is perhaps one of the most obvious essentials for traveling, and if you’ve been thinking of purchasing luggage for someone, you may want to consider what kind of traveling they’re most interested in. Are they most likely to book a week at a luxury hotel, or are they planning to go backpacking in Europe? Their travel personality, as well as your budget, will help you narrow down your choices and choose the perfect gift for your favorite travel junkie.

1.  Osprey Waypoint 85

For a world traveler, the Osprey Waypoint travel backpack is a sturdy and reliable option that almost carries like a backcountry backpack, and yet is comfortable enough to carry on the road. With This backpack is perfect for the intense backpacker, and can be customized to fit different body types. It comes in green and black, for both women and men’s fit. The backpack can be found for about $279 at Osprey’s online partner sites, Moosejaw and backcountry.com.

Osprey Waypoint 85

2.  Leather Messenger World Map Bag

This is a fun one — for the stylish and hip traveler, the Leather Messenger World Map Bag is great for casual travel in Europe or Japan. Many travelers would be drawn to the map print, but it isn’t too overwhelming because of the brown leather. It’s a great way to keep a part of who you are in what you wear or carry. Perfect for your favorite female traveler, this bag is great to just throw in your essentials and a few maps, and can be found at $78.

Leather Messenger World Map Shoulder bag

Electronics

Electronics have become a large part of how the world functions and stays connected. With technological advancement, WiFi and internet are increasingly easily accessible all around the world. These electronics don’t just get you connected, but they also provide a compact and convenient form of entertainment.

3.  Kindle Fire HD

The Kindle is known for being a reader more than anything else, but as technology becomes more advanced, the Kindle Fire HD lets you play games, watch movies and TV, and plays music. You can also Skype with it! Because of its size, it is easy to travel with, especially if you’re going without your laptop. The Kindle Fire HD ranges from $199 (16 GB) to $249 (32 GB).

4.  iPad Air

The iPad has been a popular product on the market for a while now, and its easy to see why. But the recently released iPad Air 2 is even thinner, with even more vivid and contrasting display. The price of an iPad Air 2 starts from $499; prices vary on how much GB you want, and whether you want a cellular data network attached to it. You can connect to the internet, play games, listen to music, nearly anything you could do with your laptop — all in the palm of your hand.

ipad-air

Books

Travelers love to daydream about traveling when they’re at home. Why not gift them a coffee table book filled with photos and recipes from around the world?

5.  FORKS: Three Years. Five Continents. One Motorcycle.

FORKS is a collection of stunning photos, tasty recipes and inspiring stories from around the world, all wrapped into a beautiful coffee table book. Author Allan Karl is a talented photographer, writer and foodie; in this book, he shares the discoveries, cultures, and connections he made on this solo global adventure that spanned three years and across five continents. Through stories, color photos, and the flavors of real local food, FORKS brings his adventure to life and the world to your table: the kindness of strangers, the beauty of humanity, the colors of culture, and the powerful gift of human connection.

cover-FORKStheBook-Allan_Karl-600px

Home Decor

Though travel and the places they go may be a big part of your friend or family member’s lives, there’s no place like home to wind down, relax, and recharge. If traveling is a huge part of who they are, why not help them incorporate it into their home lifestyle?

6.  Vinyl Wall Decal

A world map is a perfect reminder of where you’ve been and where you’re going, as well as where you want to go.  Vinyl wall decals are a great way to spice up a plain wall with the continents of the world, and they peel off fairly easily. Wall decals come in all shapes and sizes, so the price varies from as little as $30 to $200.  You can find quite a good selection on Etsy.com.

Miscellaneous

7.  Passport Cover and Wallet

By holders, I mean anything from a travel-related iPhone case (about $35 or less), a small, compact wallet (about $30 or less) for minimizing the weight they need to carry, or a passport cover (about $15 or less). These can most likely be found at a store nearby, though to narrow down your search to travel-related items, the Internet is always the easiest and the fastest. Etsy is again, great for more unique items.

8.  Organizer

As many females would know, bags are cute, and there’s some of us that can’t get enough of them. To make traveling a little bit more fun, you could get your favorite female traveler a new makeup bag with a pretty print, or other decently sized bags for other types of organization. Jewelry organizers are also great for those that like to bring their rings, bracelets, and necklaces with them. These range from about $10 to $25, more or less, and Amazon has a varied selection.

9.  Luggage Tags

No matter how small they can be, luggage tags are a huge help for people who don’t have the best luck with getting their luggage back. Luggage tags can be changed in and out, so maybe you might consider getting a new luggage tag, even if your friend or family member has one. Luggage tags come in a variety of all shapes and sizes, so it might be exciting to get a new one, with a new look. These range from about $6 to $20, give or take a few dollars.

10.  Travel Journal

Even though modern technology has most of us blogging and writing online, many travelers still prefer to take notes or write their travel journals on pen and paper while on the road. Depending on what kind of journal you want to get, they can cost as little as $5 to $30. You can find travel journals (or any kind of journal) at nearly every store, but if you don’t find any you like while at your local store, online is again, one of the best places for a well-rounded selection.

 

Which of these gift ideas do you like most? Have you done your Christmas shopping yet?

 

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5 Iconic Experiences You Have to Try Around the World http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/12/08/5-iconic-experiences-try-around-world/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/12/08/5-iconic-experiences-try-around-world/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:30:42 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=17750 Canyon swing in New ZealandOne of the best things about travel is the interesting situations it puts you in which you would never find at home. You can find yourself in places which you would never dream of, and in those moments you have to grab the opportunity with both hands. Below are 5 of the experiences around the [...]

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Here’s another guest post from my friend Tom Mcloughlin, who’s here to share some of his favorite travel experiences around the world.

One of the best things about travel is the interesting situations it puts you in which you would never find at home. You can find yourself in places which you would never dream of, and in those moments you have to grab the opportunity with both hands.

Below are 5 of the experiences around the world which you read about in magazines and on blogs  and might never consider doing, but which you’re life will be worse for missing out on.

1. Bungee Jumping in New Zealand

Most people would be horrified at the idea of bungee jumping, but when you find yourself in the home of Bungee, it’s hard not to be tempted. Those who are travelling around NZ in a campervan or on a backpacking trip will certainly find themselves faced with this question. As you’d expect, there are many options, you can choose between the Nevis known as the original bungee jump or the Shotover Canyon Swing said to be the world’s highest cliff jump. They are all in Queenstown so you can decide when you’re there. Happy falling!

Canyon swing in New Zealand

2. Riding the Bullet Train in Japan

Another one relating to speed, but in a slightly more relaxed way! Those visiting Japan have to experience the art of shinkansen, reaching 300kph as you fly across Japan at wicked pace. A popular route is from Tokyo to Kyoto but they travel all over the country at super speed if you wish. They’re a comfortable and definitely time-efficient way to travel around the country, we highly recommend it!

bullet train

3.  Gorilla Tracking in Uganda

A slower, but equally enthralling experience is tracking gorillas that play in mountains in Uganda. It takes a hefty trek through forests and jungle to reach your destination, but this adds to the anticipation, and also provides opportunity to see further wildlife en route. It’s tricky, but the amount of noise that surrounds you proves they’re there! You have one hour to stay and enjoy the company of these incredible beasts, at which point it will all be consigned to memory. A pretty amazing memory.

Gorilla tracking in Uganda

4. Cycle the World’s Most Dangerous Road in Bolivia

Outside La Paz, Bolivia’s capital, lies the road known as the world’s most dangerous because of the number of people who have lost their lives there. It used to be the only route into the capital from much of country so it was packed with people in lorries who constantly gambled their lives against the sheer drops at the cliff edge. Many lost. These days there is a fast motorway which has left this road almost uninhabited, save for the tourists who take to their bikes and ride from top to bottom. It’s an amazing experience, with beautiful scenery and emotional points where crosses still line the road where people have died.

bollivia

5. Running of the Bulls in Pamplona

Can anything get the adrenaline pumping quite like a bull charging at you? How about 15 bulls charging at you? The running of the bulls in Pamplona is one of the world’s craziest events, yet people turn up year after year to face the world’s most powerful land mammals. It’s a serious business, as people have died doing it, but there’s no doubt that this is iconic in the extreme. How health and safety haven’t shut it down yet is amazing. Find yourself at the right end of it once the bulls have passed and you’ll struggle to find an experience to match up.

pamplona

There are plenty of travel experiences out there to be had when you’re on the road, but these 5 are truly iconic for me and I can heartily recommend them to anyone in the area. In fact, anyone at all, as they’re all worth travelling for – enjoy!


This post is written by Tom Mcloughlin, who writes about his travel adventures on his blog Top Backpacking Destinations. You can follow his travel tales on Twitter and Facebook. All photos without watermark above are by Tom.

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8 of My Favorite Sunsets Around the World http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/11/27/favorite-sunsets-around-world/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/11/27/favorite-sunsets-around-world/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 16:36:50 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=17709 okavango delta sunsetThere is something about seeing the sun go down that makes everything in sight look beautiful, calm and romantic. The beauty of the sun resting on the horizon of the ocean, mountains and skyscrapers is such a heart-warming moment. The ethereal beauty of the blood-red sun and the skyline brings out emotions that are both [...]

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Here’s a guest post from my friend Tom Mcloughlin, who’s here to share with us his favorite sunsets around the world.

There is something about seeing the sun go down that makes everything in sight look beautiful, calm and romantic. The beauty of the sun resting on the horizon of the ocean, mountains and skyscrapers is such a heart-warming moment. The ethereal beauty of the blood-red sun and the skyline brings out emotions that are both surreal and enigmatic. Do you know where to find the best sunsets around the world? The list could go on forever, and Nellie has covered some sunsets already, but I thought I’d chip in with 8 more amazing sunsets that I’ve found extremely special whilst on the road…

1. Okavango Delta, Botswana

One of the world’s largest inland deltas, the Okavango Delta in Botswana is also one of the wettest, wildest and most isolated places on earth. This is also one of the best places to experience a fantastic safari adventure because of the lush wildlife and jaw-dropping game. You can roam around the vastness of this area via a land rover. Experience the exhilarating view of the wildlife and be mesmerized by the sunset from one of the many waterways winding through the silhouette of tall grass and palm trees in the Delta.

okavango delta sunset

2. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

One of the best things to do in Cambodia is to go on a countryside journey where the rich culture of this country is still evident. Aside from many historical and ancient sites, Cambodia is also the home of one of the most heart-warming and accommodating people. And to top that, they also have one of the best sunsets in the world.   Go to Phnom Bakheng and end the day with a perfect sunset at Angkor Wat. The glistening sun outlines the intricate architecture of the magnificent structure.

Angkor WatFlickr photo by Jodie Gallagher

3. Santorini, Greece

The crescent shaped island of Santorini is perfectly nestled in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Santorini is a must-visit destination for people who want to unwind and relax. Aside from the luxury resorts and hotels on the island, Santorini is also famous for their beautiful sunsets.   The presence of the volcano island in the middle of the caldera makes the descent of the glowing sun much more dramatic and visually interesting. Make sure to bring a good camera to capture this fantastic moment.

amazing sunset over Santorini

4. Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA

It is safe to say that the Grand Canyon is easiest to visit on a day-trip. But, the fun in this rocky destination doesn’t stop when the sun lays down to rest.   The Grand Canyon is one of the marvels in the world that everyone must see. Pick one of these 3 spots to enjoy the best sunsets in the area: Bedrock City, The Watchtower, and ShoShone Point.

Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA Flickr image by Airflore

5. Ibiza, Spain

Who would ever think Ibiza could showcase a beautiful sunset? Away from the party crowd, Benirras Beach in Ibiza is in fact the perfect spot to enjoy the descent of the sun. Join the eclectic mix of people who gathers on the beach every Sunday to enjoy one of the highlights of Ibiza experiences – a classy sunset.

Ibiza sunsetFlickr image by Modes Rodriguez

6. Grundarfjordur, Iceland

Iceland may be located on northern latitude, but the country rather has a mild climate with weather patterns that are known to be volatile and consistently changing. There are many things to do in Iceland, the list of things to see and visit is endless, but amongst them is seeing the moment the sunsets.   You can witness one of the most spectacular sunsets in the world in Grundarfjordur. It gives you a taste of hue contrasts where the cold blue and blood-red collides in the calm waters of the sea.

Near Grundarfjordur 4Flickr photo by Bill Spruce

7. Great Pyramids, Egypt

The mystical country of Egypt has become a top tourist destination for a lot of reasons. It is blessed with so many important archeological sites such as the Great Pyramids in Giza. If you plan to visit the Great Pyramids, make sure you’re there through until the evening because you mustn’t miss the stunning view of the sun hovering the great marvel of Egyptian civilization as it descends

berrys againFlickr photo by Aschevogel

8. Roatan, Honduras

One of the Bay Islands, Roatan sits in Caribbean waters on the north coast of Honduras and offers everything you would expect of a Caribbean Island; palm trees, crystal clear waters and some of the best sunsets the world has to offer. Pitch up at West End, order your sundowner and prepare to be dazzled.

roatan sunset


This post is written by Tom Mcloughlin, who writes about his travel adventures on his blog Top Backpacking Destinations. You can follow his travel tales on Twitter and Facebook. All photos uncredited above are by Tom.

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7 Off-Track Countries that Are Worth Checking Out http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/10/27/off-the-beaten-track-countries/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/10/27/off-the-beaten-track-countries/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 14:00:38 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=17506 Tbilisi, GeorgiaThere are many well-known tourist destinations in the world, and they’re popular for good reason. But, imagine having incredible local experiences, lazing on world-class beaches, and exploring untouched terrain…with hardly a tourist in sight! Getting off the beaten path once in a while is something that every traveler should aim to do, the experiences you’ll [...]

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This is a guest post from our friends Dariece and Nick from Goats On The Road. Their blog is an extremely useful resource for those who are planning to travel Central Asia. They’ve visited many remote and interesting parts of the world and today they’re going to share with us a list of under-the-radar countries that are worth visiting:

There are many well-known tourist destinations in the world, and they’re popular for good reason. But, imagine having incredible local experiences, lazing on world-class beaches, and exploring untouched terrain…with hardly a tourist in sight!

Getting off the beaten path once in a while is something that every traveler should aim to do, the experiences you’ll have, the people you’ll meet and the sights you’ll see will remain in your memories for years to come.

1. Georgia

Little war-torn, post-Soviet Georgia is set in the perfect part of the world. It’s close enough to Europe to make it easy to travel to and it’s set at a crossroads between Russia, Europe and Central Asia, which provides it with some stunning landscapes.

Georgia retains an identity all its own. Georgian people are not Turks, Persians or Russians, nor do they have an ethnic connection with any other people, but there are various Georgian ethnic groups living here: the Kartveli, Mingreli, Laz, and Svan to name a few.

The Capital of Tbilisi is aesthetically pleasing, with rocky mountains as a backdrop and a windy river cutting through the main part of the city. You’ll be greeted with funky, cobblestone alleyways, numerous cathedrals, interesting architecture and a very liberal vibe compared to neighbouring Turkey.

Georgia is said to be one of the oldest producers of wine in the world and sniffing, swirling and sipping some of the delicious reds and whites should be high on your list! Much of Georgian food isn’t exactly healthy, but it is delicious. Think lots of bread, cheese and doughy foods. Definitely try the Khachapuri and Khinkali.

Outside of Tbilisi you’ll find stunning countryside perfect for hiking, walking and wandering. You can visit monestaries, mountains, wineries and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The villages beyond Tbilisi are very off the beaten path and you’ll always be welcomed by the locals.

As an added bonus, Georgia is a very affordable travel destination.

Tbilisi, Georgia

2. Grenada

Grenada is an island in the Lesser-Antilles in the southern Caribbean. Located just 140 kms north of Venezuela and very close to Trinidad & Tobago, this gorgeous atoll bobs silently in the sea, with hardly a tourist in sight. When people think of the Caribbean, they typically think of the northern countries of Cuba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, or even St. Lucia and Barbados further south, but no one ever talks about the Spice Island of Grenada!

Because Grenada isn’t as popular as some of its neighbours, this mountainous island retains its authentic Caribbean feel. It is rugged, unpretentious and has just the right amount of amenities to make a traveller feel comfortable.

This is a country with loads of activities on offer – try sailing, scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking, cycling or deep sea fishing! When you’re bored of that, you can laze on pristine beaches, hike to towering waterfalls or just go for a leisurely stroll through the jungle. St. George is a colourful capital city that is often regarded as the most beautiful town in the Caribbean.

Grenada has it all.

Grand Anse Beach, Grenada

3. Iran

Many people consider this Islamic Republic to be a dangerous place to visit, with government travel advisories listing it as a country to “avoid all travel”. However, if you actually do some research and go to Iran, you’ll see the country for what it truly is. You’ll be completely dumbfounded as to why these warning messages are displayed around the web.

The diversity of Iran is amazing. One day you can be visiting the Persian Gulf, gazing out at the beach and enjoying the fishermen coming in with their daily catch, while the next day you could be visiting the desert with rolling sand dunes and sauntering camels. Head north and you’ll find towering snow-capped mountains with captivating Troglodyte Villages.

This is a country with incredible Islamic architecture. The mosques, mausoleums and minarets are adorned with intricate mosaics and designs, some of which are true feats of construction. The covered bazaars are exciting, with wafts of exotic spices filling the air. The modes of transportation are safe, clean, cheap, comfortable and run like clockwork.

But the most amazing thing about Iran is the people. Iranians are very concerned about how the Western world portrays them. You’ll be bombarded with questions about what you think of Iran (in a friendly way of course).

The locals are extremely hospitable with travellers often enjoying week-long stays in complete stranger’s homes. People will speak with you on buses, invite you over for tea and help with directions whenever you look lost. Iranians are very friendly.

On top of all of this, Iran is extremely safe, affordable and easy to get around.

New Iranian Friends, Iran

4. Tajikistan

Taj-iki-what?! Hardly anyone knows about Tajikistan, which has to be the most oddly shaped country in the world. This nation is one of the jagged, jigsaw puzzle countries that makes up Central Asia. Another former-Soviet republic, this country is not without its economic faults and unstable history. However, backpacking through Tajikistan as a tourist is an incredible experience.

93% of this country is mountainous! The unbelievable Pamir Mountain Range runs though Tajikistan along with the Alay Mountains and the Tian Shan range. Some of the highest mountains in the world are found here, which means you’ll be in for some very scenic drives and some outstanding trekking!

Sleeping in yurts and homestays, spotting the rare Marco-Polo Sheep, road tripping on the 2nd highest highway in the world (the Pamir Highway), eating unique foods and meeting friendly faces with Persian, Arabic, Caucasian and Asian features are all highlights of this tiny country.

Travel here isn’t easy, but it’s doable. Tajikistan is a definite off-the-beaten-track destination, and it’s also very affordable.

Hiking on the Pamir Highway, Tajikistan

5. China

Ok, so cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Xian may not be considered off the beaten path, but China is a huge country! Even if you did travel to the popular cities, you would still sometimes feel like you were the only tourist. Most cities in China have Old Towns for you to get lost in, back alleyways waiting to be explored and invitations for meals waiting to be had.

Even though there are many foreigners in this populated country who are teaching English, most of the people in China don’t speak English, but they will try to communicate with you the best they know how. Chinese people love foreigners and are very curious people. Lots of charades and hand motions will play a part in your chat with them, but one thing is for sure, it will be a very friendly conversation.

The ancient sites here are amazing and if you escape the cities, the countryside is stunning. Rolling rice paddies, jagged limestone karsts and towering mountain peaks are just some of the beautiful landscapes you can expect along your journey.

The people in China are wonderful and the history is fascinating, but the food is what really stands out! The majority of the world considers Chinese food to be what’s found in the white takeaway boxes of North America & Europe – sweet n’ sour pork, chicken chow mein and ginger beef! In China you’ll find some amazing, authentic dishes, many of which don’t even include noodles. This is one of the most diverse and delicious cuisines in the world.

And yes, China is a very affordable country to travel.

Chinese Food, China

6. Mozambique

Africa is a diverse continent filled with wild and raw experiences. Mozambique is a country located on the east coast, just above South Africa. This culture-filled country still has many remnants from its Portuguese past. In some cities you’ll find colourful, Portuguese-style buildings and much of the cuisine is made up of flavours from its past conquerors as well.
Mozambique is a country that feels safe, which can be rare on this continent. The people here are smiley, welcoming and love to dance!

The beaches are powder-white and the seas are turquoise blue. If you make your way to the very northern Quirimbas Archipelago, there are some fantastic islands to discover and it’s a great place to do some sailing and sleeping under the stars. You can snorkel with Whale Sharks and if you’re lucky, scuba dive with Humpback Whales!

Transportation isn’t exactly comfortable and the cost of travelling here isn’t cheap (although it’s not expensive either), but it is definitely an exotic country that should be on your travel itinerary.

Matemo Island, Mozambique

7. Mongolia

Mongolia is a nomadic wonderland! This country is one big campground with endless opportunities for trekking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, road tripping and more. The people here are mostly nomadic, sleeping in gers (yurts) and moving from place to place, depending on the season.

The rolling, vibrant steppe is beautiful to not only look at, but its a blast to explore on foot as well! From crystal clear lakes to dry deserts, there’s a lot to see and do in Mongolia.

The people here are very mild-mannered and kind. Although most of them can’t read maps, they’ll try to point you in the right direction if they can. Many of the roads in Mongolia are just dirt paths, which makes this such an adventurous place to travel around. The food in Mongolia isn’t exactly a highlight, although there are some good dishes. What stands out the most in this country are the vast expanses of nature and the friendly, warm people.

Veering off of the well-trodden tourist trail may seem intimidating and impossible to some, but once you arrive at these foreign destinations, you’ll soon realize that there’s actually quite a bit of tourism infrastructure in place. There are just enough fellow travellers around to make visiting these countries one incredible experience. You’re never alone in the backpacking world and even if you were, the people of these 7 countries would welcome you in and treat you just like family.

Trekking and Camping in Mongolia


Author’s Bio:

Nick and Dariece are the couple behind goats on the road Goats On The Road, a website designed to inspire others to live a financially    sustainable, location independent lifestyle. Masters at making money abroad and turning their travels  into a way of  life, they’ve been on the road since 2008 and have explored some of the least visited places on earth,  finding adventure  wherever they go. They’re also full time contributors at Travel Pulse and Credit Walk where they  share their stories  and expertise of long-term travel.

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Life on the Edge: The Most Extreme Places I’ve Been http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/09/24/extreme-places/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/09/24/extreme-places/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 14:00:34 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=17251 Pyongyang subwayTravel to me is about getting out of my comfort zone and exploring places that make me hold on to the edge of my seat. But these days, with travel getting more affordable and easily accessible, it’s getting harder and harder to find untouched destinations – places that remain relatively raw and untainted. That’s why [...]

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Travel to me is about getting out of my comfort zone and exploring places that make me hold on to the edge of my seat. But these days, with travel getting more affordable and easily accessible, it’s getting harder and harder to find untouched destinations – places that remain relatively raw and untainted. That’s why I like traveling to less conventional destinations. Most often than not, the places that I enjoy the most are the ones with slightly negative connotations.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not silly enough to put my life at risk for bragging rights. But even Tony Wheeler, the founder of Lonely Planet who recently wrote a book on his tour of the axis of evil, poised it eloquently, “In almost every bad land I am moved by the outgoing friendliness of ordinary men and women. I  have come to see that bad is a relative term, and that there are always two sides to every story.”

Forget about holiday brochures – get your atlas, find somewhere you’ve never heard about before, and go there. I promise you nothing will make you feel more alive.

North Korea

It comes as a surprise to many that anyone can visit North Korea as a tourist. Notorious as one of the “axis of evil”, North Korea (better known as Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is often sullied by negative perceptions. Since the end of World War II, DPRK has closed its doors to the outside world. Only local channels are shown on TV, there is no internet anywhere and only 2,500 foreign tourists (not including the Chinese) visit the country each year.

North Koreans are taught to think that anything foreign is a threat – yet, I was surprised to find how curious locals were of us. On the subway, we interacted with people, showing them our photos and laughing along with them. We even had the chance to play with Korean children at a park, through charades and guessing games. Read about my time there.

Pyongyang subway

Palestine

Technically, it’s not even considered a country. The Palestinian Territories has had  a long and tumultuous history, largely due to its location on the crossroads for religion, culture, commerce, and politics. The treacherous Israel-Palestinian conflict has been ongoing since the mid-20th century, and until today, the two parties have failed to reach a final peace agreement. Hundreds of thousands people have been killed and many more displaced and injured. 

In recent years, there continue to be bombings in Gaza and the West Bank, so be sure to keep yourself updated before visiting. During our visit in February 2013, it was safe to visit Palestine’s West Bank and we had an insightful time traveling around Jericho, Bethlehem and Ramallah. As the birthplace of both Judaism and Christianity, Palestine definitely has plenty of historical and cultural sights to see, but most importantly, visiting Palestine allows you to get a chance to talk to its locals and find out more about the conflict on a first-hand basis.

Our Palestinian guide and the Wall

Iran

I’m currently in Iran as we speak and it’s definitely exciting to be a in place that has earned quite a reputation for itself in the public eyes. For over a decade, the U.S. has charged Iran with sponsoring terrorism and producing nuclear weapons. In his 2002 State of the Union Address,George Bush stated Iran “aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom.”

As one of the “axis of evil”, Iran has been looked upon as a public enemy for the past decade or so. However, friends who have visited all say quite the opposite about Iran. They’ve only got positive things to say about the country, with its outstanding architecture, good food and some of the most hospitable people in the world. Most parts of Iran are safe to visit and I can’t wait to experience it for myself. I’ll be writing more about it here, please stay tuned.

The Jāmeh Mosque of Yazd _IranFlickr image by Ali Reza

Albania

Albania is often linked to the Soviet War even until today. With more than 40 years of communist rule under the dictator Enver Hoxha, followed by a period of extreme capitalism in the mid ‘90s, the country is still struggling to get back on its feet. During my visit in May 2010, Albania surprised me with the hospitality of welcoming locals (I lost my wallet and a local brought me to the police station and even lent me some money), local cuisine that easily tops anywhere else I’ve been, and clusters of beautiful towns tucked high in the mountains. Plus with prices well below the European standard, Albania is definitely a rare find.

Kruje, Albania

Myanmar

Due to decades of political conflict, travel to Myanmar presents an ethical decision – are we encouraging the regime by visiting? While Myanmar remains a troubled country, things are definitely looking up. Following the election in 2010, a civilian government took over, Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest, and the tourism boycott has since been lifted.

Traditional and surreal, this country offers time travel back to the days when roads were non-existent and creaking buses throttled along with hundreds of passengers onboard. It is a country that stirs my soul with its thousands of sacred stupas, poetic Buddhist towns, and mystical lakes. It remains one of my favorite countries to date.

Perhaps it’s because of years of isolation, perhaps it’s the deep-rooted Burmese culture, Myanmar remains pure and untainted – for now.

Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

Zimbabwe

Like the others on the list, Zimbabwe has been making headlines for the wrong reasons. Since Robert Mugabe took ruling power in 1980, the country has spiralled into a series of racial conflicts, human rights abuse and violence. Although the country’s economy is slowly recuperating, millions of people are still living on food aid and struggling with disease outbreaks.

Behind this dark history lies a gorgeous country waiting to be explored. From the wilderness of Mana Pools to the chaos of Harare, Zimbabwe shows Africa at its best. Besides spotting the Big Five in the wild and witnessing the power of Victoria Falls, I got a chance to know its people – who all warmly welcomed me into a country clearly misunderstood by the world.

Gorge at Victoria Falls

Guatemala

Stories of violence, kidnapping, and drug trafficking incidents are all too common in Central America. Based on a CNN report, 6,500 people met violent deaths in 2009 and nearly 6,000 were slain in 2010 in Guatemala. 41% of these deaths were associated with drug trafficking. Worst of all, more than 96% of all crimes go unpunished. When I was in Guatemala several years back, I was stumped by all the tales of mugging and rape from fellow travelers.

Danger may be lurking in certain corners, but that doesn’t stop Guatemala from being a popular backpacking spot. It didn’t take me long to fall for the charms of this diverse, rustic nation. I traversed the country from the charming colonial city of Antigua to the impressive Tikal ruins in the north, and never got mugged once or felt like I was in any sort of danger.

Tikal, Guatemala

 

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World’s Friendliest Countries http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/06/24/worlds-friendliest-countries/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/06/24/worlds-friendliest-countries/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=17048 The Golden Falls, IcelandEach year, the World Economic Forum ranks 140 countries in order of their hospitality towards international travelers. The ranking is created based on the Forum’s newly-released Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, which gives scores on a scale from one to seven (one for ‘very unwelcome’ and seven for ‘very welcome’). An Executive Opinion Survey is distributed to [...]

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Each year, the World Economic Forum ranks 140 countries in order of their hospitality towards international travelers. The ranking is created based on the Forum’s newly-released Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, which gives scores on a scale from one to seven (one for ‘very unwelcome’ and seven for ‘very welcome’). An Executive Opinion Survey is distributed to business leaders in 140 countries, who are asked to rank their own countries on such topics as infrastructure, environmental sustainability, and economic policy. It is however important to note that WEF’s ranking of friendliness towards foreigners does not actually take into account the opinions of any foreigners.

Personally, I’m pleasantly surprised by the results of the 2013 ranking — with Iceland topping the chart and lesser-known West African countries like Senegal and Burkina Faso making a rare appearance. I’m really happy to see Macedonia and Bosnia in the top 10 list, as the Balkans is definitely an underrated part of the world. Having just returned from New Zealand, I can safely say that the Kiwis are some of the most welcoming people I’ve met and they’re always happy to show you around and share a part of their culture with you.

Another country I’m glad to see in the top 10 list is Morocco, where locals are always eager and enthusiastic to interact with you. In recent years, Morocco has sadly earned a bad reputation with female travelers. While I don’t deny that some parts of the country have got aggressive touts and conservative men, not all of Morocco is unwelcoming and I definitely think you need to dig deeper and get to know locals to truly appreciate Morocco.

The report also ranked the countries least friendly towards foreigners. Bolivia unfortunately was voted as the least welcoming among those surveyed, and was joined in the bottom ten by Venezuela, Russia, Kuwait, Iran, and Pakistan, among others.

Click for the full list of the 2013 ranking.

World’s Most Welcoming Countries, According to World Economic Forum

Have you been to any? Do you agree?

1. Iceland

The Golden Falls, Iceland

2. New Zealand

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

3. Morocco

Djemma el Fna in Marrakech, Morocco

4. Macedonia

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

5. Austria

6. Senegal

Senegal sand dunes
Flickr photo by
Jose Pereira 

7. Portugal

Algarve, Portugal

8. Bosnia and Herzegovina

Mostar, Bosnia

9. Ireland

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

10. Burkina Faso

Children of Burkina Faso
Flickr photo by Dietmar Temps

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Glamping Adventures: 5 Luxury Campsites Around the World http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/06/11/glamping-adventures-5-luxury-campsites-around-world/ http://www.wildjunket.com/2014/06/11/glamping-adventures-5-luxury-campsites-around-world/#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 05:00:27 +0000 http://www.wildjunket.com/?p=16975 Rock CreekRecently I’ve had the chance to experience glamping at a few luxury campsites and they completely changed my perspective of sleeping in the great outdoors. The concept of glamping is a combination of the words glamorous and camping. Sound a little like opposites? Think again. Getting down and dirty is no longer an essential part of camping. With [...]

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Recently I’ve had the chance to experience glamping at a few luxury campsites and they completely changed my perspective of sleeping in the great outdoors. The concept of glamping is a combination of the words glamorous and camping. Sound a little like opposites? Think again. Getting down and dirty is no longer an essential part of camping. With the increase in ease and accessibility to resources, there are now plenty of places offering unique glamping experiences, let’s take a look at some of them:

The Ranch at Rock Creek – Montana, USA

Nestled amid Montana’s most breathtaking landscape, The Ranch at Rock Creek is a log-cabin style luxury ranch resort offering a slice of raw western adventure in the stunning backcountry. There’s so much to do here - from horseback riding to fly fishing and wildlife watching – but most people come here to experience the cowboy life at its best. The ranch reinvents the concept of camping with its spacious and luxurious canvas tents furnished with rustic furniture, wood flooring, gas fireplace, and comfortable bedding. All of them include private bathrooms and even a deck facing Rock Creek. With a romantic and remote setting, the ranch definitely draws in a lot of couples — even Kate Bosworth found this place romantic and held her celebrity wedding here. As one of the first glamping accommodations in the world, The Ranch at Rock Creek is definitely a pioneer in the industry, having been awarded the Forbes 5-star Travel Guide honor.

Rock Creek
Grayling-Canvas-Cabin

Cosy Under Canvas – Kington, Wales

This eco-friendly glamping site sprawls across four acres of beech woodland, just a stone’s throw from the popular book town of Hay on Wye in Powys, Wales. This town is home to the largest literacy festival in the UK, when authors, poets, environmentalists, comedians, scientists, and musicians come together to inspire and entertain the tens of thousands of people that descend on the town. Cosy Under Canvas features three geodesic domes and two canvas tipis, all of which are decorated in simple but stylish touches and glammed up with sheepskin rugs and wood burning stoves. They are carefully situated around the woodland with plenty of space between them for guests to enjoy the peace and tranquility. Though have stayed in a tipi tent before and loved the experience, this place definitely brings new meaning to sleeping in a tipi tent. In recognition for the owners’ creativity, it was named winner of the ‘Best Place to Stay, Alternative Accommodation’ in the National Tourism Awards for Wales, supported by Visit Wales.

Dome tent
Tipi tent at Cosy Canvas

Treebones Resort - California, USA

A true eco resort perched on the rugged Pacific coast in Big Sur, Treebones Resort works on the basic principles of environmental consciousness. Before a pencil ever hit paper in the design of Treebones over twenty years ago, they agreed they would be about “perching lightly” to create as light a footprint on the earth as possible. At Treebones Resort, you can choose between 16 yurts and five campsites all of which come with breathtaking views of the Pacific coast. Each unit contains a queen-sized bed, electric lighting, pinewood floors, heating, and a sink with hot and cold water. The yurts are built on raised decks facing the ocean. For a truly unique experience, reserve the Human Nest, an elevated human-sized bird nest with a futon and unobstructed view of the Pacific. Resort amenities include outdoor yoga, an organic garden, massages, an outdoor sushi bar and a heated ocean-view pool and hot tub. There’s plenty to do around the area, from coastal hikes, canyoneering, and ocean kayaking, all of which can be arranged through the resort.

Yurts at Treebones
Inside a yurt

Mandrare River Camp – Fort Dauphin, Madagascar

Located near Fort Dauphin in the southern tip of Madagascar, Mandrare River Camp is a plush campsite decked out in pure East African style set along the banks of the far-flung and remote Mandrare River. The big, spacious tents are tastefully decorated with a four-poster mosquito netted bed, wardrobe and dressing table. There are even 24 hour solar lighting, hot water and fully plumbed bathrooms. Guests awake to the sound of the local Antandroy tribe singing as they fetch water from the river, or children playing and splashing in the water. By protecting the sacred forests, where the Antandroy’s ancestors rest in their ornate tombs, the tribe have managed to preserve large wildlife areas. There are four species of lemur in the local area: ring-tailed, Verreaux’s sifaka, mouse and white-footed sportive (the last two are both nocturnal); and birding is exceptional with at least 15 resident species in camp and many more in the surrounding wooded areas.

Evening dinner by Mandrare River

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Adels Grove – Queensland, Australia

Having just stayed at Adels Grove Camping Park recently, I highly recommend paying a visit the next time you’re in Australia. It isn’t so much about the decor or style of the tent. In fact, the tents are probably the least fancy of the list – it’s the whole atmosphereof this family-run camping park and its remote location in Outback Queensland that truly make it special. The campsite is located just 10km from Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, where there are plenty of hiking trails and kayaking opportunities to keep you out and about for a week. You can choose from several types of accommodation: from canvas tents perched on the river’s edge to wooden cabins that come with bathrooms and air-conditioning. As an accredited Savannah guides station, it runs excellent tours in and around the area. Adels Grove is also the winner of the 2013 Outback Queensland Tourism Awards.

The backyard of Adels Grove
Tents in Adels Grove
Have you been glamping before? Any recommendations to add to this list?


Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, but all opinions expressed above are my own.

The post Glamping Adventures: 5 Luxury Campsites Around the World appeared first on Wild Junket.

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