Tag Archives: adventure

Exploring Brussels

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Good morning Brussels! This little weekend getaway came about when we saw how cheap it was to take the train to Brussels. So with a 5 am morning call to catch the Eurostar from St. Pancreas at 6:30 am, we just had a backpack for the two days worth of clothes that we would need and of course my running gear. After a little mishap with finding our way out of the train station we were on our way to the hotel to that they can hold our bags while we toured the city.

We stayed at the Royal Windsor hotel which is central to the old city and in walking distance of everything that you can imagine. We were lucky enough that our room was available at 11 am, never hurts to ask the front desk. After dropping off the bags we were off to have lunch in the little plaza around the corner in front of the Grand Dash Place which is the town square and are able to see the spire from our bedroom window.

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After confirming with our tour company that was booked through Viator with Brussels City Tours for where and when the pick up would occur, we were off to explore the Royal Gardens as well as the outside of the Palace. I talked Josh into the challenge of taking on the Metro to get out to see the Mini-Europe as well as the Atomium from the World Fair that was outside the city and not with in walking distance.

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After reaching the end of the line 6 on the Metro we made it. Now a little warning, the Metro is not like the one in London or Moscow. This is old school where you need to pull the handle to open the doors and they are super loud when they close so a nap is out of the question. Trust me I tried.

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After standing in line to get the combo tickets it was up to the exhibit that was in the Atomium, see some of the photos and read the information from the world fair. After some amazing views of the city it was time to head over to Mini Europe.

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They provide you with a pamphlet that gives you the history of the country and the building that was used to represent the country as well as a little background information on the currency and the population at the time of printing. I kinda felt like Godzilla taking on Tokyo in the park but it was educational and there were buttons to press to hear the anthem of that country.

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Since it was starting to get dark and we had an early morning, we headed back to the hotel with a little stop at the Little Peeing Boy. You can’t miss his tiny street corner. Look for all the tourist huddled around the street corner and the signs listing a waffle for a euro and you are there. Do not get the waffles there! Go to an actual restaurant where they are so little you do not fell guilty about eating a couple of them with ice cream of chocolate.

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The hotel was amazing! The beds were nice and soft with plenty of pillows. The staff was helpful in providing directions and suggestions on what to see. In the morning I went to the gym and had a nice work out with adequate equipment for both cardio and muscle training. It was a little hard to find, but they even had a little sauna in the dressing area to enjoy before or after your work out. We checked out and had breakfast at a local cafe before heading over to the pick up point.

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We met another solo traveler, Ashley from California, who was great pleasure to spend time with on the bus and around the city when doing the tour of Ghent and Bruges cities. The only issue I had with the tour was that it was in three languages. Now this could have been done better with an audio guide but we had the live guide repeat the same thing in English, French and Spanish. While this was impressive, it ate up a lot of time that we could be spending in the cities on our own.

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So after the walking tour of Ghent that included the cities of the old, a meat and fish market as well as the medieval castle, we were off to Bruges. Ashley, Josh and I decided that we would split from the group to walk around and see the city. After lunch at the local brewery and a lovely and highly recommended boat tour, we hit up the local markets. There was some amazing art work, pottery and scarves. You don’t realize how big the city is until you actually get lost in the heart of it. I would recommended spending a couple of days here. Half a day was not enough time to take everything in.

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Because we had to catch the late Eurostar back to London, we booked a ticket for the train running from Bruges to Brussels to make sure we had enough time to go through check in and passport control. At this point the UK Border Control is getting a little concerned about my coming and goings but I have my return flight to prove I intend to go home and not immigrate illegally. Next stop is in a couple of weeks to Birmingham but right now I have to get my Doctor Who Convention outfit together. Now to go as a Darlek or the TARDIS…

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New Photo Trip: Mountain Gorillas

NEW TRIP! Mountain Gorilla Photography Expedition
If you have an interest in nature photography,I bet you can easily think of a half-dozen nature photo destinations that are on your lifetime travel list, from Antarctica to Zimbabwe!

But here’s one you may not have considered, and you should…

The Mountain Gorillas of Central Africa!

Imagine trekking into the dense rainforests of Rwanda and Uganda, guided by expert gorilla trackers, to capture the special moments that come from observing one of the world’s few remaining populations of wild mountains gorillas — a species which shares 98.3% of humans’ genetic code. Snap images of babies clinging to mothers’ backs, juveniles munching on leaves and giant male silverbacks surveying their surroundings.

On our newest Nat Hab Photo Tour, we’ve taken our classic gorilla safari and added additional tracking days for more chances to gain that special image.

We’ve also arranged for one of Africa’s top wildlife photography leaders — Simon Stobbs — to guide this exceptional primate journey, allowing our small and exclusive group to gain valuable experience in photographing gorillas (four treks!), chimpanzees and golden monkeys in the wild.

There’s simply no other primate photo safari out there with this depth of experience and expertise. So if nature photography is your thing, I’d suggest you consider this special adventure!

A safari like this — with a top guide like Simon and only 11 spaces for our guests — is sure to sell out quickly.

Trip Highlights

  • Four separate gorilla tracking expeditions—two days each in Uganda and Rwanda—to maximize photo opportunities with the last of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas
  • Complete the primate experience in Kibale Forest National Park to photograph wild chimpanzees and colobus monkeys, and see golden monkeys as well
  • Join NHA’s top Expedition Leaders as we track the famed primates, as well as traditional African plains game and predators, on the savannas of the western Rift Valley
Location of Adventure

Uganda and Rwanda

Group Size Limit

Approximately 11 travelers
A very important feature of our trips is the limited group size, as nature expeditions are best experienced with small groups of travelers.

Our Specialized 4 x 4 Safari Vehicles
The safari vehicles we use on this trip add greatly to our overall experience. They were specially designed for adventures in Uganda and Rwanda, with two goals in mind: providing comfort during overland drives on sometimes rough roads, and allowing for excellent game-viewing opportunities for each passenger. We use Nissan Patrols, Land Cruisers and Land Rovers in varying sizes. Depending on our group size, we may use a vehicle that seats seven, five, or three passengers, plus a driver, and each traveler will always have a window seat. Every vehicle has roof hatches that we leave open during game drives for 360-degree viewing and photo opportunities, but which can be closed for comfort during longer drives. All are four-wheel-drive and are fitted with high-quality, imported tires, to ensure that we can press on through rough spots. Seat belts are three-point, instead of the typical lap belts found in most safari vehicles, for added safety. All vehicles are outfitted with a cooler box with drinks, as well as tea and coffee, guide books on mammals, birds and trees, umbrellas, and bean bags upon request for avid photographers. Each vehicle was designed with an environmentally friendly oil bypass filtration system that allows for an extended engine service period. This limits the amount of waste oil that must be disposed of, as Uganda and Rwanda do not yet have oil recycling facilities.

Included

Accommodations, airport transfers on Day 1 and final day, all meals from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on final day, bottled water, services of NHA Expedition Leader, local guides and lodge staff, gorilla trackers, and one porter on gorilla treks, most gratuities, four gorilla, two chimpanzee, and one golden monkey trekking permit per person, all entrance fees and taxes.

Not Included

Travel to and from start and end point of trip, alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, passport and visa fees, optional activities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, souvenirs, etc.), airline baggage fees, airport and departure taxes, optional travel insurance, and required medical evacuation insurance.

Physical Requirements

Moderate to Difficult
The strenuous (sometimes very strenuous) treks to the gorillas usually take between two and three hours, but can be as short as 15 minutes and as long as four to eight hours (we’ve had one trek take even longer than that). We travel at a pace to accommodate all hikers. Travelers are not required to participate in all activities and are welcome to forgo any portion of the program. Travelers should be aware that if they turn around due to fatigue, illness or any other reason, the remainder of the group, including the Expedition Leader, will go on. The returning traveler will be escorted by a local guide.

Important Information

Perhaps the two biggest benefits of choosing NHA for your primate photo safari are our professional Expedition Leaders and our carefully crafted itinerary—both are integral for an extraordinary journey through the highlights of Uganda and Rwanda without backtracking. Our leader understands our guests’ needs and makes special arrangements to capitalize on impromptu opportunities along the way. This trip is designed for those seeking exposure to the range of habitats of the mountain gorilla. NHA has been visiting gorillas in Africa since 1989, and this itinerary is the pinnacle of our offerings. A total of four gorilla treks — two in each of Bwindi (Uganda) and in the Virungas (Rwanda) — are the highlight. In addition, we’ll visit the chimps of Kibale Forest and observe Africa’s classic wildlife at Queen Elizabeth National Park. We ask our guests to understand that the accommodations in this region are not, collectively, of the standard that may be found in other more established safari countries. Some lodges are very luxurious while others are plain but clean and comfortable.

Getting There & Getting Home

Please plan to arrive in Entebbe, Uganda in time for a 7 pm welcome dinner on Day 1. We encourage travelers to arrive a day or more early to rest from their long plane trip. You are free to depart from Kigali, Rwanda after 3 pm on the final day.

For more information or to book,

click here to contact Traveline

or call us at 1-888-700-TRIP.

Baja’s Winter Whale Watching Season

 

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~ New Itinerary Reveals Mammals’ Majestic Migrating Patterns & Region’s Ecological Wonders ~

Winter is the best time for whale watching along the Pacific coast, and annually, through mid-March, more than 25,000 gray whales will migrate over 5,000 miles from the frigid waters of Alaska’s Bering Sea to the balmy peninsula of Baja California in Mexico. Their round-trip journey is considered one of the longest of any mammal migrations. These fascinating animals are frequently visible from land, and while whale-watching opportunities are quite plentiful from shore, up close and personal interaction with these impressive creature are the highlight of Brendan Vacations’ new 7-day Boutique Journeys itinerary titled, “Baja California and the Great Gray Whale Migration.”

 

“Snorkel among sea lions, commune with giant gray whales in a Pacific Lagoon, or hike atop sea cliffs and descend into a dramatic desert canyon. All this, while staying at carefully-selected hotels in character-filled towns,” says Nico Zenner, President of Brendan Vacations. “This itinerary captures the essence of Baja California Sur and its breathtaking ecological region. Experience the famous Hotel California, popularized in the Eagles’ famous 70s-era song in Todos Santos, and enjoy visits to La Paz, Isla Espiritu Santo, Magdalena Bay and San Carlos. There are also options for SCUBA diving, fishing and horseback riding for all of our guests.”

 

Given the seasonality of gray whale migration patterns, this Boutique Journey is only available for a very limited time with only two departures set for February 24th and March 3rd, 2013 and February 8th and February 15th for 2014.

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All of Brendan’s Boutique Journeys accommodate as few as two guests and a maximum of only 24, letting you delve deeper into local traditions, bond more tightly with your travel companions and interact more personally with the people and experiences you engage along the way – all with the added peace of mind that your journey will always travel as scheduled, as every departure in the catalog is guaranteed.

Baja California and the Great Gray Whale Migration is 7 days and priced from $3,225 land only, based on double occupancy. Hotels include the Seven Crown Centro Hotel in La Paz, the Hotel Brennan in San Carlos, and the Hotel California in Todos Santos.

For more information or to book,

click here to contact Traveline

or call us at 1-888-700-TRIP.

 

Gastronomic Cooking Class with Celebrity Chef in Lima

Experience a half-day gastronomic tour and a master cooking class with Chef Rodrigo Conroy. Rodrigo will share the culinary charm of Lima, the Mecca of fine restaurants, starting with your hotel pick up by the chef himself and visiting the local Surquillo market. To learn where Peruvian food comes from you need to learn about the ingredients and the best way to do it is by visiting one of the greatest places for excellent, fresh products.  Afterwards head to the chef’s kitchen for a cooking class with the master himself and learn to prepare a variety of Peruvian dishes and 2 delicious cocktails.

Top off this culinary experience with an unforgettable menu of seven dishes and two refreshing cocktails from Rodrigo’s restaurant.

World of Luxury Promotion:

2 Persons: $599
3 Persons: $834
4 Persons: $1,066

Please mention “World of Luxury” during booking to receive the promotion. Prices valid on bookings until 12/31/2012.

Andean Experience is a Peruvian luxury boutique hotel developer and operator, committed to  providing travelers a genuine, richly authentic Peruvian experience delivered through our choice of hotels, through the meals and menus we offer, and through every activity we plan. We consistently strive to provide a superb service while bringing travelers face-to-face with the authentic spirit of Peruvian culture.

The company currently owns and operates two properties; Titilaka, a modern lodge on the shores of Lake Titicaca and will open Hotel B as Lima’s first boutique hotel in 2013.

For more information or to book,

click here to contact Traveline

or call us at 1-888-700-TRIP.

Free Bike Trip To Nirvana

Available exclusively to guests of The Little Nell who stay 3 nights or more. Vacationers of all ages and ability levels, expose yourself to Aspen’s best road and mountain biking with these amenities valued at $400, provided at no cost.

Bike to Nirvana with these unique inclusions:

  • 2 Orbea bike rentals for 1 day. Choose among our fleet of Orbea Orca Road Bikes or Orbea Occam Mountain Bikes
  • Garmin® GPS units preloaded with suggested rides, so no rider gets lost.
  • 2 bike jerseys: Choose among Ajax Tavern or The Little Nell jerseys
  • 2 water bottles

This package is fully customizable to your desired level of ease, comfort and adventure.
Popular add-ons include:

  • Guided tours, training and instruction from Aspen’s top athletes, including championship cyclist Scott Kasin.
  • Delicious, custom lunches packed by our award-winning Chefs and set up just off road or trail for you, by our Adventure Specialists
  • Wine pairings suggested by our Master Sommeliers, plucked from our wine cellar
  • Custom Bike Fitting
  • Nutrition, Hydration and Supplement Consultation
  • Conconi Threshold Step Testing

Based on space available, some black out dates exist. Not combinable with other promotions.

For more information,

click here to contact Traveline

or call us at 1-888-700-TRIP.