God's Own Country - Kerala, India

 
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Contributor:
 Nicola

Nationality:
 British

Social Links:
Instagram: @nikkiinwanderlust #nikkiinwanderlust

Age Group:
 30-40 years

Gender:
 Female

Travel Style:
 backpacking, luxury, adventure, relaxing

 

Destination: Kerala, India

After a hectic couple of weeks in the golden triangle and Varanasi, and with my newly accidentally dyed pink hair from Holi celebrations, we took a domestic flight down to Kerala in Southern India for some chill out time.  The contrast of Kerala to what we had seen in the jungle and the cities was dramatic. It was so lush and green here, and the calming effects of being surrounded by water was felt in the atmosphere. 

We decided to stay in a small hotel next to the sea called 36 palms. It has a lovely swimming pool right next to the sea, Ayurvedic massage treatments and they can also arrange cooking lessons and other activities. The local yoga school also run early morning and evening yoga sessions - they come to the hotel so that you can do the class on the outside area next to the pool and right by the sea. The sound of the waves can be heard throughout the yoga session which adds to the experience.  There is a small restaurant that does cheap home cooked dinners which were absolutely mouthwatering. Kerala is abundant with freshly caught fish, deliciously flavoured with Indian spices. Kerala also has strict alcohol laws - the locals generally don’t drink alcohol and only the larger hotels sell it, so this was also a nice opportunity for a bit of a detox!

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We organised a beautiful tour of the backwaters with a small local company called Muziris Holidays - Mr. Lal, the owner, was an amazing guide, and very proud of his beautiful Kettuvallam (also called a Rice Boat), which transported us around the stunning tropical backwaters of Kerala.  As we were the only ones on the boat, we also had the opportunity to drop off at a small village in Cochin where a family showed us how their house, and how they make garments to sell using a loom which was subsidised by the government, as well as sampling the fruit, herbs and spices in their garden.  The boat trip was definitely a fantastic way to experience the backwaters and a highlight of our time in this stunning part of India.  

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During our time here, we also took the opportunity to walk along the coastline - it was a great way to see everyday life in the fishing villages. The enormous Chinese fishing nets are dotted all along the shoreline, and are a unique sight in India. They were introduced by Chinese explorers in the 14th century, and can require up to six fishermen to operate them.  Women laying small fish out to dry in the sun that the men had caught, was also a regular sight. 

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The Travel Hub _ Kerala Fishing Nets.jpeg

The people in Kerala were very friendly, and visitors are received with a warm welcome.  The backwaters of Kerala are so calm, tranquil and tropical - it was the perfect end to a very busy trip in India. 

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Walk Like an Egyptian - Egypt

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Contributor:
Cat

Nationality:
USA

Social Links:
Instagram: @flatworldtravel
Website: www.travel.flatworldonline.com

Age Group:
30-40 years

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
Couple

 

Destination: Egypt. April/May 2018, 10 days

Inspiration:

A professional friend owns a small travel company and was planning a group trip to Egypt. Since this was somewhere we really wanted to go we reached out to her and her business partner about working with them and creating content for them to use on their website and social media. since thats what we do- create photo and video content it was a win win for everyone! The group ended up with 8 of us total which was perfect to capture and travel around easily.

Getting There:

We flew from JFK airport into Cairo on Egypt Air. Then once there we had an organized tour with a driver and 2 different tour guides.

Local Knowledge:

Besides the pyramids which I will talk about later the whole area is just cool. It is so different from the US and Europe. The culture is very prominent and so is the Muslim Religion. We loved hearing the Call to Prayers everywhere. But not everyone is Muslim and it didn't appear to be overly strict. The people (not the vendors at tourist places) were super nice and just enjoyed talking with us. They don't see as many Americans and they all wanted to talk to us about what is happening here. 
The vendors however can be Very aggressive. We decided we had to take a "hard politeness" approach. A term I made up to describe it. We always to to be respectful to people especially when traveling, but this was Intense and really started to get us down. We understand that some of the places in Egypt we were are very poor and we understand the hustle. Go with an openness and try to be firm and polite. 
The over attention from men even while walking with my 6'2 black husband was a bit much. Again I just tried to be polite or ignore it. Al could have earned a lot of camels for me lol!!
 People ask me if I would  have felt safe being a woman there by myself. I can't really answer that for everyone since their experiences are all different. But I would honestly say I would not go back there on MY own. I never felt unsafe, as a matter of fact we hung out with a local man and visited his house. We joked and said we are either being kidnapped or in for a great night. Probably not the smartest thing to have done- but it was a blast. But I never would have done that if it was just me!

Where To Stay:

For our time in Giza we stayed at the Marriott Mena House in Cairo and Loved it. I mean whats not to Love? Step out on the balcony and see an Amazing pyramid right there! So freaking cool. The rooms were really nice, the pool perfect, and the food was really good. 

We then stayed on a Nile River cruise for 4 nights. Having done 2 cruises with Ama Waterways (The Mekong River one we worked with them creating content) this never compared. But of course not as Egyptian River Cruises are less fancy. This one was pretty basic and the food not something I could really enjoy. As a pescartain most meals were very heavy meat based. And not wanting to eating the salad since I knew it had to be washed, there wasn't much for me to eat. My husband didn't have any problems but even he said the food was "just alright!"

When we returned back to Cairo we stayed in the Kempinski Nile. It was really nice and we could even walk to Taahir Square from there. Their breakfast buffet was my favorite!! They also have a great jazz bar but it was way too smokey to stay long. Being from the US we aren't used to people smoking indoors anymore. 

What To Do:

Where to being! I mean after all you are talking about the EGYPT! The ancient land of the Pharaohs, King Tut, Cleopatra, the Nile River and Gods and Goddesses! It is all great. The Valley of the Kings to see Tutankhamen's (and others) tomb. and later going to the The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum or Museum of Cairo and seeing things that were in the tomb. 4000 year old cheese and the Great Pyramid of Giza. Luxor Temple was super cool and so was just walking around Luxor and Aswan. One of my favorite temples was the Temple of Horus at Edfu, dedicated to the falcon-headed god of the sky as well as mummified crocodiles in Kom Ombo . One of my favorite activies was a early morning hot air balloon ride over the Valley of the Kings. It was just incredible!

Eating:

Overall we aren't too impressed with food in Egypt. As I mentioned I dont eat meat and most meals were pretty basic. Of course most of them were included in our tour so we didn't really get to venture out on our own as much as we normally would. But the fresh squeezed OJ from the street vendors is the BEST!!!! OMG! you have to try it. Especially when it is hot and dusty. They also had some really interesting snacks. All kinds of different flavors like chicken or kabob flavored Doritos. And I haven't eaten a Twinkie in over 30 years Im sure- but they were are snack on the hot air balloon ride! I did have some great hummus the first day at a place Al and I wandered into- but after that the hummus was mediocre and buy the end I was so sick of it I just couldn't eat it anymore. As mentioned we did Love the breakfast buffet at the Kempinski and actually at Mena House too.

Must Do:

Get out of the tourist attractions and walk around Cairo and the other smaller places you visit. While all the attractions are AMAZING and of course you have to see it all- make sure you are seeing what Egypt today is all about. Get out there and enjoy the locals. Talk with people or jsut smile and say "hi!"

Must See:

OMG! this one is the hardest Always!! But especially with Egypt. Every trip we make one 12x18 metal print of what symbolizes that location. This one everyone thought it would be a pyramid. While Yes- that is soooo Very Egypt, that is just one part. We chose a scene that I took while cruising along the Nile River. A glimpse into what life is like living along the Nile River.

Number 1 Travel Tip:

I wrote a whole blog post on travel tips to Egypt. But my #1 thing- KNOW that vendors are going to approach you, follow you, and not take no for an answer at Least the first 4 times! If you know that, you can be prepared. And really there is no need to get ugly or threaten them Its not going to change things and they are just trying to make a living. Tourism is down and they see especially Americans as rich. And to them you are. You can afford the luxury of traveling far to visit their beautiful country, stay in nice hotels, take river boat cruises, and eat out! Being respectful goes a long way and earns you way more Good Karma points than being rude and nasty!

5 Word Travel:

bucketlist
ancient
different
incredible
blessed

Excess Baggage:

So being a Huge rescue dog and cat advocate I had a really hard time with all the homeless dogs and cats. There were more than in any other trip we have taken. We like to check out a local shelter if we can. And if not we look up ones who helps with these issues and make a donation when we get home. We made our donation to Chance Animal rescue All- the horses, donkeys, and camels just don't look that great and don't seem to be treated too nicely. We did a camel ride at the pyramids in Giza. I really tried to enjoy it (and I even asked the travel agent ahead of time what she knew about the conditions, etc). But it really made me sad. Its a catch 22. The animals help them make money and often get food before they do I was told by our local guide. (maybe I just want to believe that) Without them income would be even more scarce. But even knowing these things- it still made me sad and I would never do it again.

Kittila - Its Cold Up There - Finish Lapland

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Read a review on one of the more unique destinations to visit - a land of ice, snow, adventure and beauty..........Finish Lapland.

 

Contributor:
Nicola

Nationality:
British

Social Links:
Instagram: @nikkiinwanderlust
#nikkiinwanderlust

Age Group:
30-40 years

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
backpacking, luxury, adventure, relaxing - all types!

 

Destination: Levi, Finish Lapland - Finland

To get to Finnish Lapland, we took a flight to Kittilä via Helsinki. While at passport control in Helsinki, the customs officer looked at my boarding pass and said in an ominous voice “Kittilä - it’s cold up there”.  Little did I realise, that this was a massive understatement. 

We stayed in Levi, which was a twenty minute drive from Kittilä, and checked into Hotel K5.  We arrived quite late, so after trying out the sauna in our room, we relaxed with some glögi by the fire in the hotel bar.  The centre of town is a short walk away from several restaurants, the ski slope, and a snowmobile rental shop.  As it was January, the sun never really rose above the horizon, and the temperature dropped to -35°C! As soon as we got outside, our eyelashes and hairs on our face would freeze! So if you plan to come at this time of year, pack thermals and good winter weather gear! 

Its so cold, your eyelashes freeze!

Its so cold, your eyelashes freeze!

One evening we rented snowmobiles and went out and explored the forest area.  There were loads of trails, and we spent a few hours getting lost on them and then finding our way back. It was so much fun. The snow was so deep and lakes were frozen, making it perfect snowmobiling conditions.  This is one activity that you must try if you go anywhere with good snow! 

Snowmobiles in the evenings

Snowmobiles in the evenings

The ski slope in Levi is lovely. It’s not too busy, and isn’t pretentious like other ski resorts can sometimes appear. It has a chilled vibe and has an amazing bar and restaurant at the top with a beautiful view and roaring fire - perfect for Après Ski. 

The beautiful ski slopes of Levi

The beautiful ski slopes of Levi

A short drive away was a company that offered husky rides. What a fantastic experience, and another activity that we would definitely recommend. The huskies were beautiful and well looked after, and took us for an amazing ride through beautiful forests and countryside.  Another short drive away was the Arctic Snow Hotel - we didn’t stay there but were lucky enough to be attending a wedding in the Ice Chapel. It was such a unique and beautiful place - each room is decorated differently, and the art work involved in creating the hotel and chapel each year was astounding.  

Alternative modes of transport in the snow

Alternative modes of transport in the snow

Sami Hut, near the Arctic Snow Hotel

Sami Hut, near the Arctic Snow Hotel

Lapland was such a brilliant destination. There were fun activities, and the scenery was stunning and the snow was beautiful - it actually sparkled like glitter when it fell and the flakes were star shaped.  We’d recommend Lapland to everybody - it’s such a unique and beautiful part of the world. Just make sure that you take some warm clothing. Remember, “Kittilä - it’s cold up there”. 

Star shaped snow flakes.........

Star shaped snow flakes.........

The Apple Isle - Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

 
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Contributor:
Amanda

Nationality:
Australian

Social Links:
Instagram: @missamr
Twitter: @missamr

Age Group:
30-40 years

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
Planned & organised

 

Destination: Hobart, Tasmania - Australia. Early February for 5 days

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Inspiration:

This was only one of two Australian States I was yet to cover. I was here for a sporting event but spent sometime checking out what Hobart had to offer. Everyone was telling me how pretty and scenic Tasmania is so I had to see it for myself.

Getting There:

Flew to Hobart and then hired a car to travel around Hobart.

Local Knowledge:

Take the Top Decker tour and the driver will go through all of historical past of Tasmania.

Where To Stay:

We stayed in West Hobart at Fountainside Apartments and I would give it 10/10. Great location, easily fit 10 people in our apartment and was in walking distance to central Hobart, Constitution Dock and the Salamanca Markets

What To Do:

While I was there we drove to Mt Nelson, out to what was the Cadbury Factory (which you can no longer tour), walked to the Salamanca Markets. The highlight would have been the Salamanca Markets. If there is a Cruise ship docked, go to the Cenotaph to get a great view of the dock and the boat. We also bought a ticket for the Top Decker Bus that did a loop around the Hobart District and it took me to all of the main areas of Hobart and was a great way to see what Hobart had to offer. Take the Top Decker Bus out to Cascade Brewery and have lunch and a beverage as the gardens are beautiful.

Eating:

Tasmania is renowned for their seafood and it is every where in Hobart. From Oyster Bars to Seafood Punts along Constitution Dock. Hobart has a very strong food scene however, most places are packed out on weekends or any time a cruise ship (or two) is docked. It is more expensive than the main land for seafood but all other food prices are comparable to the main land. From asking a local we found this amazing burger place called The Standard and it was one of the best meals I had while in Hobart.

Must Do:

If you are only in Hobart for the Weekend, you must go to the Salamanca Markets as it has a great taste of Hobart and Tasmania all in a 1km area. From fresh truffles to Fresh Oysters. Give your self time to walk through the markets but go early as it becomes very busy.

Must See:

My must see part of my time spent in Hobart was the Cascade Brewery.

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Number 1 Travel Tip:

If you travel here, take layers as it can go from 30 degrees to 16 degrees over night. I would also take notice of any traffic signs as they are very different to main land.

5 Word Travel:

Amazing Scenery with friendly locals.

Excess Baggage:

Hire a car if you can and spend more than 4 days in Hobart/Tasmania. We didn't get to see any more than the central part of Hobart and wish I had more time there. It is only 2 hours from the top to the bottom of island but it takes you days to explore everything Tasmania has to offer.

Ultimate Travel Road Trips - The Garden Route, South Africa

 
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The Garden Route of South Africa is one of the iconic "road trips", taking in some spectacular coast-line. Thanks to Madelene for providing a lovely review from a visit along the famed drive. 

 

Contributor:
Madelene

Nationality:
South Africa

Social Links:
Instagram: @madelene_smuts

Age Group:
40-50
 years

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
 

 

Destination: Garden Route - Cape Town, South Africa

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Inspiration:

The Garden Route has according to the Guinness Book of records the mildest climate in the world after Hawaii. With long stretches of beautiful blue flag beaches it is a well recommend getaway.

Getting There:

As Capetonian this is a loved holiday destination. The stretch of coast which exstend from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to the Storms River in the Eastern Cape is spectacular. Six hours traveling time from Cape Town per car/bus. Daily flights from Cape Town International airport to George or Plettenberg bay.

Where To Stay:

Accommodation for holiday makers is plentiful. There are many B&B's to choose from, from Central Beach to Sanctuary Beach. The Beacon Island Hotel in the center of Plettenberg bay is a well known family friendly hotel that also offers time share.

What To Do:

Plettenberg Bay offers long days of sunshine and multiple Watersport activities , surfing, suping, canoeing ...... The bay is a display of dolphin activity and for scuba divers a underwater kingdom. Robberg Nature Reserve offers hiking trails for young and old, with the Stone Age Nelson Bay Caves a definite must for the hiking enthusiast. If you are a keen Mountain Biker like me there is more than enough biking trails to choose from, from intermediate to advance and with every uphill the effort offers a big reward - the views are spectacular! Popular Harkeville Forest is a must.

Eating:

If you like lazy lunches there are a few wine farm to choose from witch is less than 20min drive from Plettenberg bay. A must is Bramon and Newstead wines that offers delicious tapas menus. Fish lovers will enjoy The Fat fish and Lookout and the popular Tables restaurant offers the best pizza's in town.

Must Do:

Go for hike at `Robberg nature reserve

Must See:

Sunset at Robberg Nature Reserve

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Khanom & Sichon, Thailand

 
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Review of a year round travel destination in Thailand. Explore beautiful empty beaches and stunning waterfall. 

 

Contributor:
Silvia

Nationality:
Dutch

Social Links:
Instagram: @silviatibben

Age Group:
30 - 40 years

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
Flashpacker

 

Destination: Khanom & Sichon, Thailand

Inspiration:

I was looking for a beach destination close to Surat Thani city.

Getting There:

It's about 1 hour from Surat Thani by minivan. Costs are B100 one way. Surat Thani is easy to reach from Bangkok by plane, bus or train.

Local Knowledge:

There are only 2,000 pink dolphins in the world. In Khanom you have a big chance to see some!

Where To Stay:

Hallo Villa, 1000B a night for a beautiful bungalow with lots of privacy, a nice swimming pool and close to the beach. There are enough choises for all budgets in Khanom.

What To Do:

The best way to explore the area is to rent a motorbike and discover many empty and beautiful beaches, waterfalls and the local fisherman village.

Eating:

Try different foods on the night market. Local specialties like massaman curry, papaya salad and sugarcane juice. Nice burgers, German and Italian food are also available!

Must Do:

Samet Chun waterfall. A beautiful waterfalls with many pools and a view over the palmtrees and ocean!

Must See:

Definitaly one of its empy beaches! Rent a bike and discover beautiful bays!

Number 1 Travel Tip:

Rent a motorbike, the area is difficult to explore by public transport.

5 Word Travel:

Authentic, quiet, beach, friendly locals

Excess Baggage:

Learn a couple Thai words to connect with the friendly locals, as people hardly speak english in this part of Thailand.

African Travel Bucketlist - Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

 
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Contributor:
Christine

Nationality:
USA

Social Links:
Instagram: @liveloveruntravel
Facebook: Live Love Run Travel
Website: www.liveloveruntravel.com

Age Group:
30 - 40 years

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
Adventure
Running!
Budget but also splurge
Backpacking in hotels

 

Destination: Nogorongoro Crater, Tanzania

We first heard about Ngorongoro Crater while doing some work around the house with the Travel Channel on in the background. We both stopped to watch because we both knew we wanted to do an African Safari one day. At the time, we were newlyweds who had only been on our honeymoon and a few ski trips with our college friends together. We were planning to travel, but Africa seemed like it would be one of those trips that waited for after retirement.

However, we started to get serious about planning a trip there when we saw some safari trips come up on Groupon. A few were for South Africa and a few were for Kenya. We knew we wanted to go to Kenya if we were going to visit Africa to see some friends living in Nairobi. We started looking into the trip and ended up booking a three week trip to Africa within two years of first hearing about Ngorongoro Crater. The crater was a must for our trip.

Image 1 & 2: Driving through Arusha to Ngorongoro Crater

What makes Ngorongoro Crater so special? It is the world's largest crater that is intact, inactive and unfilled. The walls of the crater make it more like a zoo as there is less migration here than in the Serengeti or the Maasai Mara. That means that there is no "bad" time to visit. The animals are there all year. There are some animals that do migrate in and out of the crater, but the majority live there for life.

The crater is also uninhabited by humans. The Maasai are allowed to bring their herds in to graze, but they must enter and exit daily. The same is true of tourists. You are allowed to enter in the morning for your safari and stay for the day, but all of the lodging is outside of the crater. There are no restaurants (you bring your own food) and limited bathroom facilities (which are sometimes overrun by animals!).

Before we could enter the Conservancy Area, we had to wait while our guide paid all of our entrance fees. There was plenty of entertainment in the parking lot with lots of baboons of varying sizes. We watched them chase down people who were standing outside their vehicles to snack, fight each other playfully, and try to scratch the letters off of vehicles. We even watched one fall out of a tree when the branch he was swinging on broke. He was okay other than what appeared to be bruised pride.

 
   
  
    
  
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  This little baboon was picking fights and trying to pick the letters off of a safari vehicle

This little baboon was picking fights and trying to pick the letters off of a safari vehicle

 

When we first arrived at the crater, our driver, David, stopped at a viewpoint along one of the crater walls. You could look out over the entire crater. We had seen this view from the Travel Channel show, but we did not expect to see it in real life. You could see some of the herds through my zoom lens even from the top of the crater.

From there, we headed to our lodging at Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge. The dining area and lounge area had floor to ceiling windows overlooking the crater. Our room had a balcony that also overlooked the crater. At night, there were talented performers to entertain guests. Entertainment included music, dancing, and impressive stunts!

A stay at Ngorongoro Crater will require two nights lodging if you want to spend a full day in the crater. You will need to spend more nights if you want to spend more time in the crater. It is a few hours drive to get from anywhere to the crater, and you will want to maximize your time in the crater. After a certain time, the entrance road becomes another exit to ensure everyone makes it out of the crater before nightfall, so arriving in the afternoon means you cannot enter that day. We did a morning game drive in Lake Manyara before heading to Ngorongoro Crater and did not arrive until late afternoon, so we had to wait until the next day for our game drive in the crater.

   
  
    
  
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  Our first view of the crater. Our room had a similar view

Our first view of the crater. Our room had a similar view

The next morning, David, our private guide and driver for our time in Tanzania, met us with boxed breakfasts and lunches before the sunrise. He gave us an option on if we wanted to start early with boxed breakfasts we could eat in the vehicle or if we wanted to wait for breakfast at the lodge. We wanted to get into the crater and start our game drive as early as possible. One thing we did not count on was for it to be cold in the crater. It gets chilly in the crater in the early morning!

Despite staying right at the top of the crater, our drive into the crater still took a little while. The road curves back and forth down the crater wall, and you are in a line of other early risers trying to get into the crater as early as possible. Once you are at the crater floor, all of the vehicles, some private like ours and others hotel owned, scatter, so you feel like you have the entire crater to yourself.

Sunrise in Ngorongoro Crater

Ngorongoro Crater was our last stop on our safari, and we had yet to see any fully grown male lions with the full mane. As we entered the crater, we immediately spotted three adult males and an adult female. David informed us that the three males are brothers who rule one of the prides living in the crater.

Male lions who are brothers, usually born in the same litter or another mother's litter near the same time, will rule together for life. They will take over a pride together and will lead together. They will kill off any other males who try to overthrow them. Because there are three of them, they have ruled this pride for a long time due to strength in numbers and a low number of outside lions migrating into the crater. In fact, there are only 62 lions total in the crater thanks to several diseases decreasing their numbers in the last century.

 
   
  
    
  
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  The first three adult males we saw in the crater

The first three adult males we saw in the crater

 

After watching the lions for a while, we continued our journey throughout the crater, rarely seeing other safari vehicles. Because we had the vehicle and guide to ourselves, we were able to focus on the animals that we wanted to see. If we were enjoying watching something, we could stay as long as we wanted. If we just wanted a picture and then to move on, we could do that as well (we quickly learned that we aren't bird people!).

Throughout the day, we saw a variety of animals. Zebras, wildebeests, and gazelles are common in Ngorongoro Crater. We found several jackals, and I wanted to bring them home. We saw a few ostriches, some elephants, hyenas, warthogs, cape buffaloes and several more lions. Hippos joined us at our picnic lunch near their watering hole. We even found one of only nine cheetahs living in the crater.

Christine Wheeler - Ngorongoro Safari-28.jpg

Our favorite memories include watching several lionesses hunt and watching a full stampede due to a male lion. As we were driving along, I spotted a lioness laying in the tall grass. We stopped to watch her and were the only vehicle around. She was watching a group of zebras coming into the area. She stayed crouched among the tall grasses to stay hidden. David explained to us that lions also have to watch the wind direction when hunting. If the wind blows their scent towards the prey, the prey will know they are there and leave the area. The lioness ended up not attacking the zebras since they stayed in an area without enough tall grass around them. They eventually caught her scent, alerted each other with a panicked sound, and left the area.

After they left, we continued watching the lioness and a jackal who was in the area. The jackal knew she was there, but he did not know exactly where she was hiding. He was panicked. When she finally sat up, he saw her and ran past, keeping his eye on her the whole time. After he left, a second lioness popped her head up above the grass on the other side of the path. Until that time, we had no idea she was even there!

The stampede was another impressive sight. We suddenly saw a large group of zebras, wildebeests, and gazelles running in the same direction. We came to a stop to watch. I spotted a few hyenas among them and immediately assumed the hyenas caused it like in The Lion King. Our guide told us they didn't because the hyenas were also running away.

As we kept sitting there and watching, we finally spotted the cause of the stampede. A male lion was walking up in the distance. We could barely see him at first, but he walked straight towards us. An adult male lion typically will not hunt. They are too big and weigh too much to be able to run down most of the animals. They are also too lazy, spending up to 20 hours a day sleeping. The females are typically the hunters. However, just him walking into the area was enough to scatter hundreds of animals. The only ones who stayed even remotely nearby were some Thompson's gazelles because they knew they could outrun him. All he did was walk over near us, lay down, and roll around in the grass before falling back asleep. Seeing the respect the other animals had for him was amazing.

 
The stampede

The stampede

 
 
   
  
    
  
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  The lion who caused the stampede with some brave zebras

The lion who caused the stampede with some brave zebras

 
 
   
  
    
  
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  The lion who caused the stampede in Ngorongoro Crater

The lion who caused the stampede in Ngorongoro Crater

 
 
   
  
    
  
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  He doesn't look so intimidating rolling around like our dog

He doesn't look so intimidating rolling around like our dog

 

As nightfall came, we headed back to our lodging before returning to Nairobi the next morning.

Ngorongoro Crater was a highlight of our safari, and we highly recommend it to anyone planning an African safari. Even if you are not planning a trip now, it's a great location to add to your bucketlist!


Rome, Italy - Where ancient meets modern

 
Giorgia Pase - IMG_20170425_174610-01.jpeg
 

It was almost a year ago when I first went to Rome, the capital of my lovely Italy, with my camera. It was not the first time, I’ve already been there, but I was too young to remember anything. These photos were taken in some beautiful days in December 2016 (quite cold but sunny) and in April 2017. In a few days I’ve had the opportunity to see and explore many places in the city and I’ll come back soon, at the end of September.

 

Contributor:
Giorgia

Nationality:
Italian

Social Links:
Instagram: @gi.throughthelens
                  @mainormale

Age Group:
19 - 30

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
Tourism
Discovery
Exploring

 

Destination: Rome Italy

Inspiration:

I went there because my boyfriend lives in Albano Laziale, in the so called area of “Castelli Romani”, at about 25km south of the city centre. In that occasion, I could also visit the Capital and its marvellous pieces of history, like the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, Villa Borghese and its gardens etc.

Getting There:

If you live in Italy, the easiest way to reach Rome is surely by train. With high speed trains as Frecciarossa, Frecciargento, Frecciabianca or Italo Treno, you’ll reach it in few hours. Obviously you can use your car, but it’s easier moving around the city using subway, bus or tram. If you live in another country I recommend to come by plane to the airport of Roma Fiumicino or Roma Ciampino and then to use public transport.

Local Knowledge:

Not all knows that Rome was built on seven hills: Aventino, Palatino, Esquilino, Quirinale, Viminale, Celio and Campidoglio. There’s another one city in Europe built on seven hills: Lisbon. Lisbon was part of Lusitania after the punic wars and there’s a clear recall to the structure of Rome right because of its position over the hills.

What To Do:

As many others did before me, I like defining Rome an open air museum. This city has unique characteristics you cannot find anywhere. It’s a special mix of ancient and modern. Here are some of my favourite places:

- The Colosseum
This monumental ancient roman theatre is a “must see” in Rome. Take a look around it, and be sure you have booked tickets to enter and visit it some days before you’ll be there (if you want to come during summer, it’s better book them some weeks before your visit). Once inside, you’ll be totally transported in the Ancient Rome atmosphere and you can usually walk inside at all levels and different heights. Be prepare to make some stairs!

 
Giorgia Pase - DSC_0212.jpg
 



- The Imperial Forums
As yet said for the Colosseum, the Imperial Forums are something magical if you want to be transported in the Ancient Rome atmosphere. You can walk through the ruins, and imagine how was life during the period of Roman Empire. Somewhere you can see the rests of a little temple, or some columns and the majestic Arch of Septimius Severus. Then I recommend to make some stairs and reach the top of Palatino hill inside this archeological area: there you’ll find a terrace with a stunning view over all the Imperial Forums. The best moment of the day to come here is when the sun is almost down and all the ruins around have some special golden shades.

- Giardino degli Aranci (The Orange Garden)
This little public garden over the Aventino hill is a beautiful place for couples and generally for all the people who want to see Rome by an unconventional point of view. From the terrace over the river Tiber you can take a look over the rooftops of the Capital and see the giant St Peter’s Basilica’s dome, the white walls of Altare della Patria with its rampant horses on the top, and many others domes (Rome is famous for its domes, everywhere you look for you’ll find at least one of them. It’s something incredible!). This place has a special atmosphere at the sunset, it’s really romantic.

- St. Peter’s Basilica
It is formally part of Vatican City, but it’s another “must see” when you’ll come and visit the eternal city. This is the heart of Catholic Church, where all the Popes are buried. I like defining it as a precious jewel made by the genius of many important italian architects: my favourite one is Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who designed the square in order to embrace people. His circular colonades are one of my favourite pieces of art (you can find many other works of Gian Lorenzo Bernini all over the city, one of my favourite is the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona). You can enter the church for free but you always have to wait in a queue (sometimes your wait may be very long, especially during the festivities and summer) to undergo a security check: as it’s usual in the airports, you have to pass your bags o backpacks to X-rays so pay attention at what you bring with you! Glass bottles and any kind of weapon are severely forbidden.
Once passed this security check you can choose what you prefer to visit for first: I strongly recommend to visit the dome before the church. There’s a secondary entrance on the right of the basilica where you can have access at the stairs to go on the dome. This experience is not recommended if you have some kind of heart or respiratory disease because you’ll have to make nearly 350 steps if you use the elevator for the first part, and nearly 600 if you don’t. It’s not free, you’ll have to pay a ticket but it’s not expensive. Personally I want to assure you that you’ll arrive on the top tired but happy: some parts of the stairs are really difficult and tight but the stunning panorama will be a great satisfaction for you. From this special place you can see the entire city: starting from the wonderful St. Peter’s square and Via della Conciliazione, you’ll see Castel Sant’Angelo, river Tiber, the greatest gardens of Doria Pamphili, Vatican Gardens, Monte Mario and all the magnitude of this wonderful city.
Then you’ll come down and visit the basilica. It’ll be the greatest church you’ll ever see: all the things in it are big and majestic. There’s gold almost everywhere and works of art of immense valour. Stunning.

- Last but not least, the Trastevere district
This district is the centre of the roman movida and during the summer is populated by young people who want to have fun and eat together. These streets are the most characteristics of all Rome. I have loved to spend my summer nights here.

Eating:

When in Rome, It’s important to choose as well as possible the places to eat. Generally I prefer pubs or taverns because you find the real recipes of the tradition and friendly people. My favourite recipes are “Pasta alla carbonara”, “Spaghetti cacio e pepe” and “Supplì”.

Must Do:

Every traveller should go to Trevi's Fountain and throw a coin in the water. The legend say if you do that and don't see where the coin fall, you'll surely come back to Rome one day. So throw the coin behind your back!

Must See:

Maybe I should be banal, but I would pick a photograph of Colosseum.

 

 

Kuching, Malaysia - Review of the Kuching Festival

 
IMG_20170804_130338_526.jpg
 

Frequent contributor to The Travel Hub, Jane Hsu, talks about an amazing food event that takes place every August in Malaysia - The Kuching Festival. This is definitely one to put in the diary.

 

Contributor:
Jane

Nationality:
Malaysian

Social Links:
Instagram: @jojadan

Age Group:
19 - 30 years

Gender:
Female

Travel Style:
Food

 

Destination: Kulching, Malaysia - August 2017

FB_IMG_1504013722675.jpg

When one mentions the city Kuching, what comes to mind? Have you ever heard of Kuching?

Kuching is the capital of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. It is a charming, diverse city of old colonial buildings and modern towers and noted not only for its interesting historical landmarks but also its rich multicultural society, numerous fascinating natural attractions and of course, a haven for glorious food!

Kuching means means “cat” in Malay. There are a number of stories as to how this name came about but it is unlikely that it has anything to do with cats. Haha! The two more likely explanations are that it derives from the Chinese word "Kochin", meaning “harbour,” or that it is named after the Mata Kuching or “cat’s eye” fruit, a close relative of the Lychee that grows widely here.

Kuching Festival is an annual event organised by Kuching South City Council to commemorate Kuching being elevated to City status on 1st August 1988 and held to boost local tourism and food industry.

Every August each year, Kuchingnites and tourists from near and far would look forward with much delightful anticipation to the annual Kuching Festival which has been happening for the past 29 years.

It is without a doubt the biggest food event that happens without fail in the city of Kuching. 

Do you know what you can get in Kuching Festival? 316 stalls selling exceptionally wonderful variety of food and drinks! One would definitely have to go on an empty stomach as there are simply too many choices of yummylicious food to buy and enjoy. Let's just say one will be spoilt for choices!

A one time visit to Kuching Festival, which lasts for only 3 weeks, is seriously not enough! Highly recommended that one has to go several times (yes, several times!) just to try as many types of food and drinks available every evening from 5pm till late at night which finishes at 11pm.

Besides the bustling sale of food and drinks at Kuching Festival, there are also a beautiful Garden Show of local flowers and plants, Fun Fair for kids and those young at heart, cool Exhibitions and awesome nightly Performances which are free of charge such as singing and dancing by local talented performers to entertain those going to the Food Festival.

This is why there is an average of 40,000 visitors going every day! Trying to find a parking spot can be a hassle but when one thinks of all the amazing delectable food and drinks waiting for you to savour, one can't help but exercise patience just to satisfy your tummy! Haha! 

However, if you are a tourist coming and seeking to indulge in an array of food and drinks at the convenience of one huge place ie. the Kuching Festival and you prefer to stay near, there are a few hotels at reasonable rates to accommodate you. The hotels are within the vicinity of the Kuching Festival and it takes just about 5 mins to walk which practically saves you transportation fee!

To end this review, I will just have to let the photos, taken during Kuching Festival, speak for themselves. So here's to good food! Enjoy! :)