Thursday, February 14, 2013

Botswana Safaris – Fun for the whole family: itravelnet.com Travel Blog plus 2 more

Botswana Safaris – Fun for the whole family: itravelnet.com Travel Blog plus 2 more

Link to itravelnet.com Travel Blog

Botswana Safaris – Fun for the whole family

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 07:49 PM PST

Looking back at my safari holiday now, it is hard to believe how close we came to some of the worlds most dangerous predators. The five days that my family and I spend on a mobile safari were some of the best days of our lives. From the moment our feet hit the hot concrete as we left the plane to the second we boarded our flight to leave; we felt as if we were catching a glimpse of a parallel universe. The National Parks and Game Reserves of Botswana are as far away from the hustle and bustle of city life as possible. Not only is the way of life totally different, with communities living in small villages wearing traditional African clothing, the Okavango Delta spreads out as far as the eye can see. It took a while for our eyes to adjust to the vast wetland and before long we were spotting the lechwe in their hundreds, the males' horns sticking out over the bush.

Okovango Delta

Our safari lodge on the first night was pure luxury. Nestled in the middle of nowhere it offered us incredible vistas of the overlooking lake. We could watch elephants frolicking in the water and spotted a large crocodile sunbathing on the opposite bank. Swinging on our hammock we listened to the screeching of baboons and the gentle twitter of birds. The lodge being unfenced meant we woke up in the morning to hear stories of hyenas and wild dogs on the site, scavenging for leftovers. There was never a dull moment on our journey.

Mobile Safari Lodge

Before we knew it we joined a mobile safari and this is where our unbelievable experience began. The night we stayed in a luxury lodge allowed us to have a smoother transfer between the crowded and noisy London and the peaceful and tranquil mobile camping experience. Every few days we moved to a new site where we saw new animals known in the area and enjoyed sun-downers in more remote and beautiful settings. Our showers were a daily joy from water heated up over the fire. The kids loved standing outside under the water barefoot on the African ground with the gentle trickle of warm water on their beaming faces. Dinner was delicious and served around the camp fire where we made sure we spent some quality time together reflecting on the day's sightings.

Luxury Lodge

On our open four wheel drive expedition into the bush we saw a host of different animals. Our guide informed us of facts as though he was David Attenborough himself and he was always daring enough to get us as close to the animals as he possibly could. We could not believe the amount of wildlife we saw on our Botswana safari. After spotting the rarely seen leopard, a herd of 26 elephants and several lion cubs playing in the shade on just one expedition into the bush, we thought nothing could top it until we caught 3 lioness's taking down a wildebeest and a baby bushbuck being born in the space of just an hour.

Spotting the incredibly beautiful and powerful Victoria Falls from a distance and listening to the roar of water crashing down the cliff we were overcome with emotion, both invigoration at seeing one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and overwhelming sadness at our fantastic Africa experience being over for now.

Victoria Falls

Since returning to the grey and gloomy city we have made sure to secure those memories. Photos were printed off, albums were put together and the kids completed their journals. It didn't take long for us to start planning our next trip. From several days in Botswana and a brief glimpse of Zambia it is clear that there is a whole lot more of Africa still for us to discover and we cannot wait for our next adventure.

Botswana Safaris – Fun for the whole family is a post from: itravelnet.com - Travel Directory

Sabah State Mosque, Kota Kinabalu – Malaysia

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 06:05 PM PST

Sabah State Mosque, Kota Kinabalu - Malaysia

Sabah State Mosque, Kota Kinabalu – Malaysia.

Travel Photos: Kota Kinabalu Photo Gallery

Sabah State Mosque, Kota Kinabalu – Malaysia is a post from: itravelnet.com - Travel Directory

Why Kerala is perfect for varied holidays

Posted: 14 Feb 2013 04:23 AM PST

It’s often said that variety is the spice of life, and I’m inclined to think there’s a fair bit of truth in that. Personally, when I go on holiday, I like destinations that have lots of different things to offer. That’s why I’m particularly keen on taking a tour of the Indian state of Kerala.

You see, Kerala has a seriously impressive selection of things to do, see and experience. It’s not everywhere that gives you a chance to spot incredible wildlife, enjoy traditional massages, go on backwater cruises and hit the beach – to name but a few.

To give you a better idea of what makes Kerala so perfect for varied holidays, I’ve put together a quick list below. Enjoy!

Traditional culture, boutique hotels
One of the most interesting things about exploring Kerala is the fact that this is where you’ll find India’s oldest and most traditional culture. Expect to see as many people here wearing traditional dress as those in more modern clothes, and for religion to play a hugely important part in locals’ day-to-day lives.

What I find particularly fascinating, though, is that Kerala is also where you can see the first areas in which European colonisers began to put down their roots centuries ago. If this interests you too, make sure you visit Fort Cochin. Here, Dutch merchants’ houses, Jewish synagogues and churches stand side by side.

These days, many of the old buildings here have been converted into boutique hotels or cafes. In fact, while the culture in Kerala is largely traditional, there is some truly lavish accommodation to choose from, making it a good choice if you’ve got your eye on a luxurious getaway.

Ayurveda
There’s nowhere better to experience India’s ancient health system, Ayurveda, than Kerala. The state is home to so many places where you can try it out, to the extent where you really don’t have to look too hard to find somewhere.

You see, it’s so ingrained into the local culture that most hotels – and particularly the fancier ones – have a spa attached to them. Even the more modern establishments tend to incorporate Ayurvedic principles into their treatments, so you can feel good about experiencing some authentic local culture while also pampering yourself.

Backwater cruises
I think if you’re going to Kerala – especially for the first time – then you really can’t miss taking a cruise through its famous backwater region, Kuttanad. The ultimate experience is spending a day and night cruising along in a converted rice barge, so look out for that on any itineraries you’re thinking of following.

Converted rice barges have usually been lavishly transformed, which means you can expect utter comfort as you travel. In fact, some are even kitted out with things like Jacuzzis, while others have air-conditioned bedrooms!

Wildlife
As well as seeing amazing scenery and soaking up local culture, you can see some wonderful wildlife during your trip. If I was heading to Kerala this year, I’d definitely go to Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary.
This is the region’s best loved wildlife sanctuary, and with good reason. It’s home to a thriving population of elephants, for one thing, while you can even be in with a chance of spotting a tiger!

Beaches
Finally, a huge draw of coming to Kerala is its beaches, and I think fitting in a few hours relaxing on the sand is a great way to add yet more variety to your itinerary. There are some stretches that are particularly well known and worth visiting – Kovalam Beach, which you’ll find near the capital Trivandrum, particularly springs to mind.

Think I’ve missed something? Leave a comment and let fellow travellers know what you think makes Kerala such a good spot for an exciting, varied break.

Why Kerala is perfect for varied holidays is a post from: itravelnet.com - Travel Directory

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