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Lisa Ling, Rick Steves, and Adam Richman are just a few of the globe-trotting celebs who will be appearing at this weekend’s Los Angeles Times Travel Show, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It’s the 14th year for the award-winning travel extravaganza, which, with its hundreds of exhibitors from exotic countries and hands-on activities, is almost like a whirlwind round-the-world trip in and of itself.
The show, which costs $10 per day and is open to the public on January 28 and January 29, promises to once again spark wanderlust while providing access to some of the top travel experts in the industry. Countries represented include the adventure meccas of Belize, South Africa, Ecuador, and Morocco, and other exhibitors include a variety of tour operators and travel organizations, including the Adventure Travel Trade Association, Serengeti Pride Safaris, and Extreme Tornado Tours. Read more
Just a few days into 2012, tour operators and travel companies in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras – the four countries also known as the Mundo Maya – have ramped up their promotions for the coming year, which marks the end of the Maya Long Count calendar on December 21.
More on the significance of the date below (hint: It has very little to do with the movie 2012), but it also means the coming months will see a surge in Maya-themed packages, trips, and offerings, with varying degrees of value and quality. One that recently hit my inbox appears to exceed the mark in terms of authenticity and adventure, while being supremely affordable: the Maya 2012 Passport, launched by the Belize Tourism Board. Read more
Ever looked at a travel brochure and envied the person standing triumphantly on the mountain summit, laughing with the locals, or sitting perched atop the camel? Join the recently announced “You’ll Never Forget It” contest by adventure tour operator G Adventures, and that lucky soul could be you.
The Toronto-based G Adventures, which announced its name change from Gap Adventures this fall, has launched a global search for the new faces of the company’s 2012/2013 brochures and videos. The selected “cast” of three winners will travel to one of the company’s hundreds of worldwide destinations (with all continents represented; the photos above are from Kenya, Africa) beginning in March 2012, for an approximately week-long trip. Read more
Earlier this week in the popular recurring segment, “Where in the World Is Matt Lauer?,” the NBC Today host schussed down the desert dunes of Namibia on skis. His graceful run made for good television, indeed, but in Namibia – as well as in Brazil, Chile, Peru, and other parts of Africa – sand-skiing and sandboarding are real-deal pastimes that have been gaining popularity in recent years.
Following in Lauer’s footsteps, er, ski tracks, takes a bit of effort, however. Unlike their cold-weather counterparts, sandboarding and sand-skiing don’t have an entire industry of package tour providers dedicated to them. Adventurers interested in trying them out will have to arrange a side excursion from an existing itinerary. But it’s a worthwhile effort – and one that makes for some great photo opps.
Pre-dawn Cancun often evokes image of young partiers, embalmed in alcohol, taking the haggard walk of shame back to their hotel from the likes of Señor Frog’s. But this last August I ventured to the partiers’ paradise and discovered the true reason to be awake before the sun rises: for a chance to swim with the largest fish in the world, whale sharks.
I left my hotel at 6am, driving north through the hotel zone to the Solo Buceo diving company. Here, after booking in advance, guests pay a modest $165 before boarding the boat with nine other passengers and a crew of three. My group headed northwest, searching for the docile giants via GPS. The sharks come to the region on their southern migration in May and stay through early September, feasting on plankton and microorganisms in the warm Caribbean waters. After the tour companies initially locate the sharks in May, they can keep daily records of the sharks with each morning excursion, making sightings throughout the season a near guarantee.
Space tourism is one step – and $8 million – closer to reality, with the completion this week of a massive production plant in California’s Mojave Desert that houses the first passenger aircraft that will fly into space.
According to Virgin Galactic, which is owned by British billionaire Richard Branson and has joint ventured on the project, more than 430 customers have already signed up, at an out-of-this-world cost of $200,000 per ticket. Read more
Here’s my final post about my recent trip to Cuba (if you missed the first two, you can find them here and here, plus check out the photo gallery). My editors at ShermansTravel and I have enjoyed reading your comments and input from my initial post regarding the new regulations for U.S. travelers to Cuba, so if you have any additional thoughts – or travel tips of your own – please feel free to share in the comments section below. I’ve already heard about some readers who have trips planned – buen viaje!
Since returning from Cuba as one of the first everyday American tourists to visit the country legally in about five decades, I’ve been asked over and over again how the experience was. Here’s how I’ve been describing my trip: Fascinating. Exhausting. Eye-opening. Unforgettable.
But there are a few things I wish I’d been better prepared for – which is where this (and next) weeks’ posts come in. Here, some tips I picked up from my trip for those of you who also have Cuba on your travel wish list – and want to get there legally. (And if you have your own tips to add, I’d love to hear them in the comments section.)
Around midnight on my last night in Cuba, my travel buddy and I rumbled toward our hotel in a 1951 Chevrolet cab with the driver and his girlfriend, whom we’d become friendly with. Along the Malecón, Havana’s seaside esplanade, we spotted a group of locals hovering around a large fish that someone had caught and hauled onto the sidewalk.
But when we stopped to snap a few photos, it was evident that the sea creature isn’t a fish, but a shark. Exhausted fishermen struggled to hoist the four-foot body of the predator onto a bike taxi to sell at market; a few feet away, teenagers circled around the severed head, touching its fearsome teeth and screaming with skittish delight.
In a way, that scene – at once chaotic and colorful, raw and wild – helps illustrate a visit itself to this island nation, which has been all but off-limits for U.S. citizens over the past five decades. But, thanks to policy changes passed by the Obama administration earlier this year, the average U.S. citizen can now travel there legally, without the hassle of sneaking through Mexico or Canada, and the fear (and fines) of getting caught.
As any fan knows, Shark Week starts July 31 on the Discovery Channel. Now in its 24th incarnation, the wildly popular weeklong programming ups the ante this year with a celebrity host, Saturday Night Live comedian Andy Samberg. Perhaps the best news for diehard fans: Discovery Adventures – a travel company launched by the Discovery Channel in 2010 – is hosting 6- to 14-night cruise tours to the Galapagos Islands to see scalloped hammerhead sharks, Galapagos sharks, reef sharks, white tipped sharks, and whale sharks up close and personal.
Ok, so these tours aren’t actually tied to Shark Week – this year Discovery Adventures offered four departure dates (one each in June, July, August, and September) for each of four tour types. And they can’t guarantee you’ll actually see sharks, although the creatures are fairly common in the Galapagos so the odds of an encounter are good. But if you can’t get enough of Shark Week, this is a great way to get in on the action, while also participating in a hands-on small group tour of a fascinating destination.
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