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Lots of travelers have a safari somewhere on their bucket lists. Gerry van der Walt, safari and photography expert, and co-founder of Wild Eye Photo Safaris, offers some tips and advice for planning and enjoying your Africa trip of a lifetime.
Since 2009, the adventure travel industry has grown at a staggering rate – 65 percent year-over-year – and today it’s a $263 billion industry. While the words “adventure travel” might make you think of extreme heli hiking or mountain biking through the Alps, there’s a huge range of options, many of which are entirely doable for the average traveler. From slow-paced culture and adventure trips, to hiking, kayaking, and biking tours, there’s something for almost everyone, from kids to baby boomers and beyond. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite tours and ranked them by effort and strenuousness – 1 being the least challenging (light activity like walking), 2 a little bit challenging (like snorkeling), 3 mid-level challenging (longer, slow-paced hikes), 4 intermediate-level challenging (like stand-up paddle-boarding and hiking through rainforest), and 5 at an advanced level (strenuous hikes or mountain climbs throughout the trip). You might be surprised at how affordable – and approachable – they can be:
1. South Africa
If Africa has always been on your travel bucket list, consider this vacation. It’s guaranteed to cross off some major destinations like Table Mountain, Cape Town, and Victoria Falls. Explore the country’s capital, stop in South Africa’s wine country, and continue on to Kruger National Park, a game sanctuary, for a few days of safari. You’ll have the opportunity to see zebra, giraffe, hippo, and more wild animals. End on a high note (literally) at Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, where 550,000 cubic meters of water go over the towering falls every minute. 11 nights; from $3,593 with airfare
Adventure level: 1
Throughout Africa, the Big 5 will always have undisputed cache among travelers. But come spring, certain regions of South Africa’s Northern Cape province, including Namaqualand, which is within about six hours’ drive of Cape Town, bloom with wildflowers. Among the standout: brilliant orange Namaqualand daisies, indigenous succulents known locally as vygies, and the impressive king protea, the country’s national plant.
Starting around August and running through September, the landscapes in this part of the continent transform into a Technicolor explosion of orange, yellow, red, and purple, as millions of wildflowers herald the end of the winter rains. Tourists flock to see the spectacular show, snapping photos, meeting fellow floraphiles, and trading stories of their excursions in restaurants and B&Bs along the way.
Here, tips on how to stop and smell the daisies. Read more
Table Mountain, the flat-topped monolith that soars over Cape Town, South Africa, is one of the coastal city’s most iconic landmarks. Named as one of the world’s new seven wonders of nature last year by the foundation New7Wonders, the gorgeous, cloud-swathed mountain is flanked by the surrounding peaks of Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak, and offers stunning views of the city and its beaches and harbor below.
It’s not surprising, then, that exploring Table Mountain is a huge draw for both visitors and Capetonians themselves – a fit, outdoorsy bunch who relish the abundance of outdoor activities their city offers. One way to impress them? Ascend to the 3,280-foot peak on foot.
On a recent trip to South Africa, I did just that – and the experience was a shining highlight of my time in Cape Town. Here, a few tips I learned on the way up. Read more
As the hilarious ads point out, it’s a bad week to be a seal (RIP, Snuffy), but an awesome one to be a shark fan, with the Discovery Channel’s hugely popular series, Shark Week, creating a bigger splash than ever in its 26th season. When the much-anticipated series debuted this past Sunday, a record 4.8 million viewers tuned in, according to Nielsen figures.
But the toothy good times don’t have to end when Shark Week does this Sunday, Aug. 11. On the contrary, the current range of shark-centric travel and excursions is truly staggering, offering adventurous souls numerous opportunities for climbing into cages, snorkeling with, and sidling up to these fearsome ocean predators in their natural habitat. Here, a few ways you can re-create your own real-life Shark Week experience. Read more
Even if you hold an annual pass to your local aquarium, it’s hard not to be awestruck by the sight of a slick-backed whale gliding through its natural habitat. The supersize creatures have fascinated travelers and scientists alike for eons, and the whale watching industry has benefitted greatly from all the intrigue.
Part of the mystique is the continual game of hide-and-seek whales play with us, their observers. Much like the Northern Lights, spotting a whale requires you to be in the right place at the right time. If you’re looking to spot a pod on your next trip, here are a few places where you stand a better-than-average chance at getting splashed. Read more
Just because you don’t yet have vacation plans as the first day of summer approaches doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Get in on a hot hotel deal with CyberSummer, a one-day only sale that begins at midnight EDT on the summer solstice – this Friday, June 21! Travelers will be able to find exclusive online deals, including four-diamond resort stays from $99/night, five-star hotels offering 50 percent savings, free nights, and more. Want examples? Here are a few, just to whet your vacation appetite. Read more
If you’re the type to travel for golf (or just golf while you travel), check out our top ten list of the best golf resorts around the world. Get ready to tee off in some seriously amazing destinations.
1. PGA National Resort and Spa Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
It’s the stuff of legends. Home to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic, the PGA National Resort and Spa is steeped in golf history. Boasting signature courses like “The Palmer” and “The Squire” (designed and named after Arnold Palmer and Gene Sarazen, respectively), an on-site Golf Academy offering lessons from certified PGA pros, and a newly renovated golf complex, it’s easy to see why this resort is a favorite among golf buffs. Treat dad to the Gold Golf Package, which includes resort accommodation, daily breakfast at the Palm Terrace restaurant, one round of golf daily on selected courses, and unlimited balls and bag storage. Room rates start from $129 per room per night. Read more
Spring has finally sprung and with beautiful weather comes the welcome excuse to get outside, just in time for Mother’s Day! Before you get mom any ordinary plant, check out our top ten list of the most beautiful gardens around the world for some inspiration. Take mom along for the day or make a future getaway out of these. Happy Mother’s Day! Read more
With news that Google Streetview sent a camera into Fukushima, the city that was abandoned after a 2011 Japanese earthquake cause the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiich nuclear power plant, we’re now able to see inside the now desolate town. Take a look at the eerie photos and others from around the world. Read more
They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. This year, March has come in like a lion and gone out like some kind of lion-velociraptor hybrid. With a bunch of late-season storms walloping parts of the U.S. and others shivering through an extended cold spell, it’s easy to forget that spring has officially arrived. While you’re waiting for the weather to catch up with the season, close out March in Africa, where more manageable climates, majestic beasts, arid deserts, and stunning architecture await those with an adventurous spirit.
With this edition of our Monday Deal Alert, we’ve compiled some of the best airfare currently in the market, from West Coast escapes to journeys to Eastern Europe. Rates start from as little as $69, so whether you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway or a long vacation, we’ve got plenty of ways for you to fly away this fall.
Virgin America’s current fall sale features amazing one-way rates between West Coast cities, like $69 between San Francisco and Las Vegas, $89 between Los Angeles and Portland, and $109 between Seattle and San Francisco. The sale doesn’t only apply to West Coasters, though: you can also fly one-way to Los Angeles from Chicago, Dallas, and Philadelphia for $139, or from Orlando, New York City, or Boston for $159. Just book your getaway fast – this sale ends at midnight tonight. Read more
You might have been waiting all summer for that perfect sunny day, but in the U.S., those rays have turned into a scorcher. With America currently experiencing the hottest summer on record, some of us are wishing for a cooler front. What better time, then, to dream about the Southern Hemisphere, which is going through its winter months? While it may not be easy to book a last minute getaway to these destinations, just lusting over them will hopefully cool you down.
Angel Falls – Venezuela
Venezuela is mostly tropical due to its location just north of the equator, but thanks to its varied geography, pockets of microclimates exist. One such area is the Guiana Highlands, a southern region of the country characterized by imposing plateaus and vast upland plains. From June to early September, the average temperature hits 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 35 degree at night, making this the best time to visit the Angel Falls in Canaima National Park. Renowned as the world’s highest waterfall at 3,212 feet, winter’s torrential rains causes the rapids to swell to their full glory. However, if storm clouds shroud your view, Canaima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a destination in itself, with impressive geological formations and lush greenery.
I’m getting married in less than three weeks [hold for applause]. It’s a destination wedding, which probably merits its own blog post at some point. However, since wedding planning has rendered me unable to put together a string of coherent thoughts, it’s best if I focus on the honeymoon in this post since, well, that’s way less stressful.
Selecting a honeymoon destination requires looking at the trip from several different angles. As you begin to discuss where to decompress after months spent selecting tablecloths and entrée choices, you want to make sure you reach the decision that makes both of you happy. Ultimately, there are only three types of honeymoons. Once you pick which is right for you, the decisions get a lot easier. Read more
The K Club; County Kildare, Ireland
The countryside, five-star Kildare Hotel and Golf Club (K Club for short) is a quick 40-minute drive from Dublin. The two Arnold Palmer-designed courses, the Palmer Ryder Cup Golf Course at The K Club and the Smurfit Course, are considered two of Ireland’s finest championship golf courses. The K Club’s Palmer Course played host to the 2006 Ryder Cup and 11 European Opens and is regularly ranked as one of Ireland’s top three Parkland courses.
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