Archive Monthly Archives: May 2017

Top Travel Tips for Visiting Kathmandu

Top Travel Tips for Visiting Kathmandu

The city of Kathmandu is full of life, buzzing, and busy. The streets are filled with rickshaws, mopeds, taxis, bicycles, and foot traffic bringing about a cacophony of sounds. The vistas are visually striking. Rich in historic sites, ancient shrines, longstanding temples, charming villages, and contemporary structures, Kathmandu represents a blend of ancient and modern times.

Chaotic is a term you may use to describe a metropolitan area that serves as home to two and a half million people. But fret not, because there is beauty in this pandemonium and sensory overload.

In Kathmandu, first impressions can be unreliable. Get past the dusty roads, traffic, incessant transport noise, assertive street peddlers, and you may just find yourself in the middle of an otherworldly cultural experience.

Kathmandu City Highlights

Top Travel Tips for Visiting Kathmandu

The sights to see in and around Kathmandu are plentiful. Take note, however, that Kathmandu had a massive earthquake in 2015. The infrastructure and tourists services are running normally and restoration efforts are ongoing. However, the effects of the natural calamity can still be seen in some structures.

The following are some of the sights and experiences you must not miss out on:

  • Find your way around Thamel, a bustling tourist district jam-packed with souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants and accommodation. This commercial neighbourhood is crowded, lively, and exceedingly hectic. You can find almost everything that you need here from trekking gear, gadgets, clothing and mementos to fruits and vegetables. Exercise your bartering skills to avoid paying a hefty sum for your purchases. Moreover, explore the quaint streets, which offer a genuine, raw glimpse into the local life.
  • Visit the fifth-century Boudnarath, one of the world’s largest stupas. A pilgrimage destination to many practicing Buddhist, you will see monks and individuals walking ritually around the stupa. There is a Rs 250 entrance fee for foreigners.
  • Explore the monasteries located all over the city.
  • Get some exercise and climb 365 steps to the top of Swayambhunath Stupa for a rewarding panoramic view of the city. The ancient religious architecture is a pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists. Also referred to as the Monkey Temple, hundreds of the monkeys scampering around the area. Be mindful of these monkeys as you climb the stairs to avoid any mishaps.
  • Discover Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, a designated Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979. The square, built between the twelfth and eighteenth centuries, remains the focal point of the city heritage, culture, religion and pride. Durbar Square, originally created from the palaces ancient Malla and Shah kings, means ‘Place of Palaces’ when translated literally. Foreigners must pay a hefty sum of 1,000 rupees.
  • Have a taste of local cuisine in numerous restaurants around the city. Order dal bhat (rice, lentils with vegetables or meat), momo (Nepali version of dumplings), and thukpa (hot noodle soup) that are popular local dishes.
  • Have a glimpse of the last monarchy in Nepal at the Narayanhiti Palace or Narayanhiti Durbar. The former royal palace, which served as a residence for Nepalese monarchs, is now a public museum.
  • Shop in Durbar Margh where you can find high-end, branded shops and fine dining options.

Key Tips for Visiting Kathmandu

  • The traffic can be insane. As much as possible, walk with great caution or take a taxi to go around the city. Want to remain environmentally friendly while exploring? Rickshaws are a great option too.
  • Pollution is high in Kathmandu. The city suffers from terrible transport infrastructure. Many of the streets are unsealed and dusty. Protect yourself by wearing a mask that completely covers your face and mouth. Avoid surgical masks, as they don’t offer as much shield from smog.
  • Electricity blackouts, also known as load shedding, happen frequently. Book an accommodation with a generator as much as possible. There is usually a weekly timetable for this so be sure to ask your hotel for a copy too so you can remain prepared. Keep devices charged and bring spare batteries to minimise the effect of these electric shortages.
  • The Internet speed in Kathmandu can be painfully slow. Many accommodations promise 24/7 Wi-Fi but it is not that reliable. If you wish to stay connected, purchase a local sim card with data packages of up to 10 GB.
  • Kathmandu is a safe city for solo female travellers. However, it is a conservative society. Dressing moderately is a sign of respect to the culture. Feminine hygiene products are easily available but tampons can be difficult to find.
  • The taxis rarely use the meter. It is a legal requirement that a vast majority of taxi drivers do not adhere to. The process is usually flagging down a taxi and asking them the price. Inquire at your hotel about an approximate price range so you have an idea so you can bargain. Avoid taxis that are arranged by your hotel because, more often than not, the rate will be inflated.
  • Going shopping? Kathmandu has a barter system that dates back to thousands of years ago. The prices are marked up considerably. Visit a few shops to get an overview of the price before negotiating. Hopefully, after visiting a few shops, you will arrive at one that will give you a better price. This will be a little difficult in Thamel since the demand is high. Try other markets in the city. Getting a great bargain can feel good. But of course, do not take things too far. Some tourists harass an old seller into selling at a price that is far below the actual cost. At times, a seller agrees to such prices because they have to feed their families. Barter to get a fair deal for both parties.
  • Be an eco-friendly traveller. Carry your trash with you until you find a proper area for disposal.
  • Most Nepalese do not mind being photographed. But as with anywhere in the world, some may find this disrespectful. Ask permission first especially if you are taking photos of ceremonies or of older people.
  • Try not to point with a single finger. Instead, use a flat extended hand to indicate a place.

Have you visited Kathmandu recently? Share your experience with us as well as any additional tips in the comment section!

Planning A Trip To Nepal?

What’s on your wish list? We, at CLB Global Travel, will create a holiday that is tailored fit for you while keeping in mind every destination, sights and experiences you are looking forward to. Send an email at [email protected] or call +44 (0) 7484 703 647 for more information or a quick quote.

 

Why You Should Visit Canada in 2017

Why You Should Visit Canada in 2017

We travel for different reasons. Perhaps you want to experience an amazing adventure, a human connection, a close encounter with nature, a culinary treat, a cultural or historical education, an otherworldly attraction, or a trip to a globally renowned tourist spot.

Canada nearly has everything you can ever ask for. The Great White North has breathtaking landscapes, stunning natural beauty, multicultural cities, plentiful adventures, delicious epicurean treats, top tourist attractions, and colourful festivals. Additionally, the people are among the friendliest and warmest you could ever encounter in your life.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. There are countless reasons to visit the country anytime—but even more so now that the country is on a yearlong nationwide celebration.

There are sesquicentennial festivities in every city, town, and village all over the country. The government offers visitors free access to more than forty-five Canadian National Parks including the world-renowned Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. The biggest celebration will be held in Ottawa on Canada Day on the first of July.

Lonely Planet also ranked the country as the top destination for travellers in 2017. “Marking 150 years since confederation, the elongated birthday party promises to be heavy on bonhomie and highly welcoming to international gatecrashers,” it said in its recent publication.

We outlined some of the reasons why Canada should be on your travel itinerary for the year.

Stunning natural beauty

Why You Should Visit Canada in 2017

There are countries you visit for a specific nature spectacle. Perhaps you are visiting an otherworldly salt flat, a lush jungle, rainforest, a picturesque tropical island, or scenic mountainscape. The diversity of Canada’s landscape is unparalleled—dramactic coastlines, spectacular fjords, clear lakes, mountains, forests, arctic and desert landscapes.

The sheer scale of the Canadian Rockies, spanning through the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, is hard to match. Then there is the gorgeous island of Cape Breton and rugged mountains of Yukon.

The changing seasons bring about more of natural magnificence—glaciers, cherry blossoms, fall foliage, glistening freshwater lakes, northern lights, and vibrant forests. You will not run out of nature to explore whatever season you visit.

Many travel to Canada to appreciate its wilderness and encounter wild animals in their natural habitat. Among the most iconic wild creatures in the great outdoors are grizzly bears, moose, orcas, gray whales, wolves, and mountain lions.

Chic Cities and Urban Attractions

Why You Should Visit Canada in 2017

The energetic, multicultural cities of Canada have a distinctive personality. In a country that thrives on its diversity, you can expect to see something unique in each city. Among the perks of living in a Canadian city is that you’re never too far away from nature. You get the benefits of living in contemporary cities while having access to some topnotch natural resources.

Toronto, the largest city in Canada, is packed with skyscrapers, glitzy shopping centers, cultural spots, unrivaled restaurants, vibrant festival scene, and ethnic enclaves. It also serves as home to once the world’s tallest attraction—the CN Tower.

While Ottawa is considerably small, it is a great base for exploring the wilderness in Ontario. The civilized city is charming, peaceful and bike-friendly.

Vancouver beckons travellers with forests, magnificent parks, grand museums, and remarkable suspension bridge. While people here mostly live a cosmopolitan lifestyle, the city remains ethnically diverse and culturally rich. It has been repeatedly named as one of the best places to live in the world.

Montreal, second largest Canadian city, is the cultural and economic of Quebec. While it has a reputation as an Old World city, the French-speaking metropolis is also bustling with state-of-the-art buildings, internationally inspired cuisine and a lively music scene. Montreal will celebrate its 375th founding anniversary which means you get to partake in the special celebrations the government has in store to mark the meaningful event.

These are just some of the cities that should be on your bucket list.

Haven for Outdoor Activities

Those with a heart for adventure will find a home in Canada. While it is the second largest country in the world, the population is relatively small. With an abundance of natural spaces, the country has a lot of room to roam for locals and visitors alike.

There is no doubt that you will be spoilt with options for great outdoor activities—skiing, snowboarding, camping, fishing, hiking, kayaking, climbing, canoeing, mountain biking, golfing, surfing, and snowmobiling.

Exciting Events and Festivals

The Canadians know how to put on a great party and celebration. All year round, there are events and festivals that you can join. Immerse yourself in the world’s largest comedy and jazz festivals in Montreal. Enjoy summer folk festivals in Edmonton and Vancouver. Attend one of the most glamorous and largest film festivals in the world during t the Toronto International Film Festival. Join one of the most spectacular celebrations of western heritage at the Calgary Stampede, billed as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. Mingle with more than a million attendees of the annual Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls. And even when you attend all of these big events, you are barely scratching the surface. There is always something going on wherever you go in Canada—literary festivals, music events, cultural celebrations, food fests and the list goes on.

Fantastic Food

With rich natural resources, the people have access to healthy and incredibly fresh produce. The Pacific salmon is not considered as a delicacy but rather a staple in the local diet. Yes, Canada is not all about Tim Hortons coffee, tomato chips, poutine, bacon, and maple syrup.

As a country that takes great pride in its diversity, the food represents it well. You go to China for authentic Chinese food, or India for Indian food, or France to sample French culinary creations. In ethnically diverse Canada, you can have a taste of the world. The coexisting cultures in Canada contribute greatly to the diversity in its culinary offerings. There is a wealth of eclectic street food, international restaurants, chic café, and casual dining selections all around the country.

World-class Attractions

Why You Should Visit Canada in 2017

There are heavyweight attractions in Canada when it comes to natural spectacles. Unsurprisingly, there are 18 world heritage sites in the country.

Here’s a quick rundown of the eight cultural and ten natural world heritage sites in Canada:

Cultural

  • Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (1981)
  • Historic District of Old Québec (1985)
  • Landscape of Grand Pré (2012)
  • L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site (1978)
  • Old Town Lunenburg (1995)
  • Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (2013)
  • Rideau Canal (2007)
  • SGang Gwaay (1981)

Natural

  • Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks (1984)
  • Dinosaur Provincial Park (1979)
  • Gros Morne National Park (1987)
  • Joggins Fossil Cliffs (2008)
  • Kluane, Wrangell-St. Elias, Glacier Bay, Tatshenshini-Alsek (1979)
  • Miguasha National Park (1999)
  • Mistaken Point (2016) Nahanni National Park (1978)
  • Waterton Glacier International Peace Park (1995)
  • Wood Buffalo National Park (1983)

Ready to travel The Great White North?

What’s on your wishlist for your holiday in Canada? We, at CLB Global Travel, will create a holiday that is tailored fit for you. Keeping in mind every destination, sights, and experiences you are looking forward to as well as your budget and schedule. Contact me at [email protected] or call me at +44 (0) 7484 703 647 for more information or a quick quote.

The Koalas of Kennett River, Australia

The Koalas of Kennett River, Australia

There is no denying that koalas are an iconic image of Australia. So much so that seeing these adorable creatures with their furry ears and little black button nose is on top of tourists’ bucket list when they go on a trip down under.

The common misconception is that koalas can be found all throughout Australia. The truth is you are most likely to encounter koalas in the east and south coastal regions. Meanwhile, the chances of seeing these creatures when you are visiting Perth or Tasmania are slim to none.

One of the best places you can visit for koala sightings in Australia, however, is the small hamlet of Kennett River. The area, situated in Victoria along the Great Ocean Road, is home to hundreds of koala colonies. They live in dense forests as well as the more urban spots. If you are taking the famed Kennett River Koala Walk, it is not uncommon to spot a koala nonchalantly crossing the road, munching on leaves, casually jumping between gum tree branches, or relaxing in a resident’s balcony. Koalas usually rest for most of the day and become more active in the late afternoon.

The towns in and around the Otway Coast are also great spots to see these charming creatures thanks to the abundant Eucalyptus plants in the area.

Bring a good pair of binoculars to help you spot koalas in their natural habitat. Take note, however, that despite their appearance, koalas are considered wild animals and may become stressed or aggressive in case they feel threatened or cornered. Make sure not to disturb the koalas in their native habitat.

Little Known Facts About Koalas

The Koalas of Kennett River, Australia

Koalas are herbivorous marsupial native to Australia. These adorable creatures are among the most popular animals in the country. The koala interestingly got its name from the ancient Aboriginal word that means ‘no drink’ because its main water source is the Eucalyptus leaves it eats.

Want to know more about koalas? Here are ten little-known facts about them:

  • Koalas can only live in one place—Australia.
  • Koalas can eat up to half a kilo of leaves a day.
  • They store food in their cheek pouches before swallowing.
  • Koalas were nearly extinct in the 20th century due to habitat loss, disease and hunting for fur.
  • Koalas are often called bears but are not bears at all!
  • Koalas mark their territory by rubbing their chests against trees.
  • Koalas are gentle and docile animals but can be highly aggressive when frightened
  • The koala cub stays in the mother’s pouch for five months. The average lifespan of a wild koala is from 10 to 12 years
  • Koalas are excellent swimmers.
  • Koalas are fantastic jumpers. They can easily jump from one tree to another.

Other Activities in Kennett River

There are more than just koalas in Kennett River. Soak up the amazing views, observe wild animals, and enjoy viewing the diverse bird life. There is a wide range of bird species in the area including cockatoos, robins, thornbills, kookaburras, parrots, and more. Drop by the Koala Kafe, buy some bird feed and have a close encounter with beautiful birds in the area.

Kennett River also offers a pristine beach known as a reliable surf break spot. Want to find out if the surf is up? You can easily tell by looking at the available car park space. If it is full, then you better have your surfing gear ready. It is also perfect for taking an easy relaxing beach walk with a fantastic view. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the migrating whales during May to September.

Australia Holidays All Inclusive

Ready for an adventure? We, at CLB Global Travel, can arrange an all-inclusive Australia holiday for you. Call us at +44(0) 748 470 3647, email us at [email protected] or explore our latest promotions for more information. We specialize in Far East Travel but can assist with your trip anywhere you wish to go.

Tirimbina Rainforest Center and Wildlife Refuge

Tirimbina Rainforest Center and Wildlife Refuge

In Costa Rica, every single trail will lead you to a tropical adventure. With crater lakes, undisturbed beaches, rainforests and diverse wildlife, the country is a haven for nature lovers and thrill seekers.

The Sarapiqui region in the northern lowlands of Costa Rica is not among popular tourist destinations in the country. The region features large rivers, which converge in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui, the largest town in the area. A lush tropical jungle surrounds the rivers. Here, scientists and students across the world come over to conduct environmental research on its diverse flora and fauna. But the reserve has more to offer than studying about the elements and creatures that call the humid forest home. The wealth of biodiversity in the Sarapiqui region makes it an idyllic spot for nature lovers.

Right outside Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui is a small town known as Tirimbina. Tirimbina Rainforest Center is an internationally renowned private wildlife reserve that operates as an education, research, and eco-tourism centre. With over 345 hectares of protected tropical forest, the land hosts an extensive array of diverse ecosystems.

Avid birdwatchers will definitely find it enjoyable to visit Tirimbina. The jungle serves as home to an impressive amount of 300 bird species including White-necked Puffbird, Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Broad-billed Mot Mots, Blue-gray Tanagers, and Golden Wing Warbler.

In addition, around 50 species of reptiles, 95 species of mammals, and 43 species of amphibian have been identified in the reserve.

The non-profit organisation behind the reserve is committed to delivering environmental education to the local community, international students as well as eco-tourists.

Hiking in Tirimbina

Tirimbina Rainforest Center and Wildlife Refuge

The reserve features more than nine kilometers of hiking trails nestled in the lush flora and inhabited by diverse wildlife. Travellers can enjoy great views of different habitats including cacao wetlands, riverbanks, rainforest, and cacao plantations.

There are remarkable suspension bridges all around the reserve too and one will be remiss not to explore them. One hanging bridge stretches about 860 feet long above the raging Sarapiqui River. There is also the ‘canopy bridge’ that provides an exhilarating view of the primary forest. 

You can take guided tours or explore on your own. Among the advantages of having a naturalist guide is learning about the conservation and sustainability efforts of the organisation whilst exploring the reserve.

Meanwhile, you can also set your own pace by taking on a self-guided hike through the dense forest. If you are taking this route of discovery, make sure to get a map that details important information about the trails as well as key safety instructions about exploring the forest.

The trails are well maintained, fairly easy and can be a fun activity for the entire family.

Chocolate Tour 

The tour gives visitors a glimpse of how the cacao fruit is transformed into one of the mankind’s favourite food—chocolate. The hiking tour, led by an expert guide, goes across the suspension bridge to a former cacao-growing plot.

Decades ago, the main purpose of the land is for research. But it currently serves as a means for environmental education. While hiking, the guide will talk about the natural history of cacao tree as well as the artisanal process of chocolate making.

The best part is that travellers can try different kinds of organic chocolate freshly prepared the traditional way. Whether you are a conscious consumer is concerned about where your food comes from or simply a chocolate lover, this few hours tour is perfect for you.

Accommodation at Tirimbina

The Tirimbina Lodge, nestled within the reserve, offers tourists pretty much everything they can look for in a simple accommodation. There are 15 rooms with air conditioning, private bathroom, hot water, wi-fi connection, parking area, dining options, mini library, meeting room, and laundry facilities. The lodge offers two types of rooms for guests who are non-researchers. The deluxe rooms make for a more comfortable stay than the standard rooms. Those with a reservation enjoy free access to the hiking trails and a very homey breakfast the next morning.

Travellers who have a heart for adventure and are looking to have a closer contact with nature can opt to stay at Field Station. The guests can easily visit Tirimbina’s splendid forests. Located 7 kilometers away from the La Virgen center, the accommodation is both accessible by hiking or driving through an unpaved road. The hike usually takes 60 minutes from the main offices. The Field Station can house up to 35 individuals in a bunk style rooming. There is also a full bath with shower, dining area, an equipped kitchen, and solar powered electricity.

Tirimbina Rainforest Center and Wildlife Refuge

Key Tips for Travelling in Tirimbina

  • Wear closed shoes or boots at all times.
  • Use insect repellant before hikes or any outdoor adventures to protect yourself from bug bites.
  • The weather may be unpredictable so bring an umbrella or a poncho.
  • Bring binoculars for bird watching and observing wildlife.

Visit Costa Rica

Ready to get your Costa Rica trip off to a perfect start? Let CLB Global Travel arrange everything for you. Call us at +44(0) 748 470 3647 or email us at [email protected] for more information.

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground

Imagine taking a scenic road trip through history that features a marriage of stunning natural scenery and phenomenal manmade architecture as your backdrop. The rest stops involve sites of both historical and cultural importance. Throw in some fine wineries, authentic cuisine and diverse attractions, and you have the historic and scenic route called Journey Through Hallowed Ground.

Make no mistake: the Journey Through Hallowed Ground is more than just a picturesque landscape. The route, tucked in perhaps the most momentous corner of the country, is a passage into American history. It courses through three eastern states namely Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. The region is flourishing with vibrant towns and villages, thriving agriculture, various cultural events, and an abundance of accommodation selections.

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground

Gettysburg Battlefield

Not long ago, the route was designated as a National Heritage Area with a Scenic Byway running through it. The efforts of conservationists to preserve this superior stretch of American geography paved way to a memorable drive that is rich in culture, history, and adventure. The designation elevates the historic, cultural and natural resources of the region to national prominence. It also puts a specific weight on its role in preserving the natural and built environment around the area.

The 180-mile long, 75-mile wide area spans from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to Charlottesville, Virginia. Along the way, one can get a fascinating glimpse of American history. Among significant events that took place in the area are the greatest battles of Civil War including Gettysburg, Antietam, Manassas and a dozen others. Additionally, the Declaration of Independence, Marshall Plan, and Emancipation Proclamation, which are important documents that shaped and transformed the country, were either inspired or crafted by the vital events that transpired in this momentous trail.

Furthermore, no less than nine US presidents have lived along the byway. You will encounter presidential estates including Thomas Jefferson’s stately Monticello, James Monroe’s modest Ash Lawn-Highland, and James Madison’s Montpelier.

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground

Monticello, the primary plantation of the third President of the United States Thomas Jefferson

The lush countryside surrounding the route is a tapestry of orchards, vineyards, wineries, unspoilt rivers, and sparkling streams. Driving through such scenery is relaxing, invigorating and also eye opening. Within the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area are 13 national parks that are perfect for recreational adventures.

Best Time to Travel

Plan to take the drive through the historic route during the late spring from April to May and early fall in between September to October. Travelling in the summer can be quite humid and hot. Meanwhile, the winter can be too cold for comfort.

Let CLB Global Travel plan your all-inclusive trip. Call us at +44(0) 748 470 3647 or email us at [email protected] to get your trip off to a great start.

The Zebra Migration in Botswana

The Zebra Migration in Botswana

Botswana is teeming with some of the best nature sights on earth. With endless horizons of salt pans, great rivers, a vast expanse of exceptional desert beauty, thriving wildlife, diverse landscapes, the country boasts of abundant natural wonders. Undoubtedly, it is an ultimate safari destination that must be included in your South Africa holiday.

Zebra Migration in Botswana

One of the best nature spectacles in Botswana is the great zebra migration that takes place in the central and northern part of the country. Each year, thousands upon thousands of zebras have to cover an impressive amount of ground in order to survive.

The migratory routes and patterns of animals have changed over the years. There is nothing more enthralling than the once-in-a-lifetime experience of bearing witness to animal migrations. The knowledge that each migration is part of a much larger cycle of life is humbling and quite fascinating. Understanding the species, their habits, their reasons for migration are all important in completely appreciating the spectacle of animal migration.

Recently, National Geographic named the migration of zebras in Botswana as the longest mammal migration covering a distance of 300 miles or over 482 kilometres of land travel.

A Journey to Boteti River

The Zebra Migration in Botswana

The migration starts when these creatures start looking for greener grass at the Boteti River. During the months of March and April, herds of zebras move between the grasslands of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan situated in the Kalahari Desert. The large semi-arid desert boasts of dramatic landscapes, grasslands on the fringes of salt pans, transient rivers, and fossil watercourse, abound in terms of beauty. This is the ideal location to witness how all the action unfolds.

Imagine the striking view of striped black and white creatures against shimmering white salt pans stretched endlessly across the horizon. The sight is phenomenal.

As the zebras travel, they also face imminent danger. They are considered an easy target for aggressive predators hunting for food. Those who are witnessing the migration spectacle will also witness the action from lions taking down their prey.

When September arrives, the Boteti River beckons. With its lush land and plentiful water sources, the river is the final destination of the zebras. The river, however, is filled with hungry crocodiles, which presents itself as the final predatory danger for the nomadic zebras.

As November opens, the zebras move back north again where they will once again stay before going through the route all over again.

Accommodation and Cuisine

Botswana offers travellers many accommodation options across all price points. Visitors can choose from luxury hotels, top class lodges, safari camps, budget guesthouses, and camping grounds.

Guests can enjoy a variety of cuisines in hotels and restaurants—local favourites, game meat, Asian and continental dishes. Those who prefer a more local taste can dine in fast food outlets and small restaurants that serve appetising and unique Setswana food.

South Africa Holidays

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Yaxchilan: The ancient Mayan city

Yaxchilan: The ancient Mayan city

The Mayan empire has significantly shaped the way future empires ruled. It is considered to be among the most dominant indigenous societies in Mexico and Central America before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.

The civilisation particularly excelled in the fields of agriculture, hieroglyphic writing, mathematics, art, and science. At its height, long distance trade was established, large-scale construction took place, and the globally famous Mayan temples were built.

While much of the empire’s history remains shrouded in mystery, the astounding amount of impressive architecture it left behind offers a chance to revisit the past. There is no doubt that it has influenced the world, as we know it today.

Introducing Yaxchilan

There is something about revisiting ancient structures—enthralling, captivating, and intriguing. It gives one a unique opportunity to glimpse at a distant past. And such is the offer of Yaxchilan, situated on the bank of the Usumacinta River of Chiapas in Mexico.

A classic Mayan urban complex, Yaxchilan flourished between A.D. 500 and 700. The structures in the complex display extensive relief structure and hieroglyphs that the Mayans are well known for. The carvings tell a story. As you set foot in the well-trodden archaeological centre, it is nearly impossible not to feel as if you have taken a step back in time.

The name directly translates as the ‘Place of Green Stones’ in ancient Mayan language. The historical site boasts phenomenal temples, plazas, mesmerising carvings and structures that tell a story of a once flourishing civilisation.

Many buildings in the site stood the tests of time remain well maintained and accessible to travellers. However, many areas in the site cannot be explored by the public were unprotected, barely documented and at risk of completely collapsing. The political unrest in Chiapas further contributed to the poor condition and neglect of many structures at the site.

Restoring the complex

In 2001, a project to revitalise Yaxchilan was launched to address the key problems brought about by pressures of tourism, environment, and development weigh the historical structure down.

The plan included nature conservation, cleaning of the complex, and removal of vegetation, stabilising of the structure, redesigning and replacement of protective covers. Moreover, it involved training local authorities and the locals to ensure the proper management and conservation of the site.

By 2011, the project was completed. The excavation of Yaxchilan not only increased site’s potential to survive but also led to a greater understanding of Mayan civilisation. At present, it serves as a valuable example of promoting eco-tourism.

A greater understanding of Mayan civilisation

Overlooking the main plaza is the Central Acropolis, which is considered the heart of Yaxchilan. The structure features several temples, ball courts and hieroglyphic stairways that are a delight to discover.

Structure 33, located at the central acropolis, greatly represents the height of architecture in the site. The temple overlooks the main plaza and offers an outstanding view of the river. The temple is essentially a large room with three doorways that are adorned with stucco motifs, high crest, and impressively, a nearly intact roof.

Temple 44, the main building of the West Acropolis, was built around 730 A.D. The structure is decorated with stone panels that represent the war captives of Itzamnaaj B’alam II.

Meanwhile, Temple 33 at the southern side of the main plaza was built around A.D. 726. The single-room structure is constructed in honour of Itzamnaaj B’alam III as well as his principal wife. The three doorways bear carved lintels known as Lintels 24, 25, and 26. A lintel is a load-bearing stone that can be found at the top of a doorway. The design of lintels, carved in high relief, perfectly exemplifies the skilled carving of Mayan artists. The ruling dynasty of Yaxchilan rose in the fourth century and collapsed during the 9th century.

Yaxchilan can be reached from the small town of Frontera Corozal by taking an exciting boat tour on the Rio Usumacinta. It is the only archaeological site in the country that cannot be accessed by land. Additionally, the site is within a comfortable distance from other distinguished archaeological sites located in Chiapas. Taking a side trip to Yaxchilan is in order if Bonampak is in your itinerary as the two sites are only 31 miles apart. Complete your journey by including Palenque, another important archaeological site, in your itinerary.

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The Stunning Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

The Stunning Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

In Bolivia, transcendent landscapes that could effortlessly take your breath away are not uncommon. The nation, known for its colourful history, diverse wildlife, vibrant culture, and scenic views, is a haven for anyone with a heart for nature and adventure.

The town of Uyuni

The remote town of Uyuni, surrounded by a dessert-like landscape, is tucked in a desolate corner of southwestern Bolivia. It lays quietly on the edge of the Bolivian Altiplano. With an elevation of 3700 meters, familiarising to the altitude is recommended in order to avoid the risk of altitude sickness. Here, the temperature can easily drop below zero at night. But if you are acclimated, spend some time outdoors to appreciate the incredibly clear skies that are perfect for stargazing.

The locals are a stark contrast to the otherwise dry, cold climate of the town. The populace is warm, friendly and welcoming. Despite the cold winds often associated with the town, its cheerful buzz remains as energetic travellers continue to pass through to kick off their tour to the town’s main attraction.

Salar de Uyuni, situated in southern Bolivia, is a tremendously vast expanse of surreal beauty. The striking natural landscape features glistening white flat salt that is spanning over 6,500 miles. The view stretches into all directions.

The Stunning Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

As you explore, you may notice a peculiar island covered in giant cacti in the middle of the salt flats. Known as Isla Incahuasi, the once submerged piece of land is now home to hundreds of cacti. Hike between these succulent plant forms up to the hill for an amazing view.

The Stunning Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

A Giant Mirror

The Stunning Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia

The story behind the geological wonder is quite fascinating. The Salar was once a part of the prehistoric Lake Minchin, which is said to have emerged from glacial meltwater. When the giant saltwater lake evaporated from the heat, it left behind two modern lakes namely Poopó and Uru Uru. It also brought to life two major salt desserts—Salar de Coipasa and the famous Salar de Uyuni.

Born out of dried up ancient lakes, the spectacular landscape of Salar de Uyuni is now considered as the largest salt flat in the world. Imagine an immense piece of land covered with blanched white salt that is so flat that when covered with a thin layer of water, it easily bends perspective.

This natural phenomenon happens every year and brings out the beauty of the salt flats even more. During the wet season, the neighbouring Lake Titicaca overflows to Lake Poopó that then floods the two surrounding desert salt flats. As soon as this happens, the Salar de Uyuni turns into a large mirror reflecting the skies. The view is what many would consider equal parts otherworldly and surreal.

Tips in Touring Salar de Uyuni

  • An ideal way to explore the salt flats is by taking a 4X4 tour. The environment of Salar de Uyuni is not the friendliest for vehicles. Hiring drivers that are already accustomed to the conditions of the area and adept at addressing vehicular problems should you encounter any is recommended. It will give you more peace of mind as you enjoy the majestic view.
  • The temperature at night can be unforgiving. But so is the sun during daytime in the Bolivian Altiplano. Pack the right garments especially if you are taking the multi-day tours. Bring sunglasses, sunscreen and hats to protect you from the heat. And gloves, thermal clothing, scarf, and thick socks to brave the cold.
  • Uyuni is quite remote so electrical power sources are far and few in between. Bring extra batteries and power bank for your digital devices.
  • Do not attempt to cross the dessert without any expert advice.
  • Keep an eye on your luggage when you are taking the public bus from the town.
  • In winter, be extra careful in choosing a place to stay. Ensure that your room has a heater to keep you warm at night. Avoid old gas heaters, as these tend to release harmful gas that could affect your health.
  • If you rented out a car, don’t scrimp and find a paid, secured car park.
  • Admittedly, there is not much to see in Uyuni. But it is worth exploring on foot as most of the must-see spots are walkable.
  • The town was once a busy railway hub. However, the demand for the rail hub went down along with the mining industry in the 1940s. Today, tourists can explore the train cemetery where the abandoned trains lay. Don’t forget to include this in your itinerary for a glimpse of Uyuni’s transportation history.
  • The ATM in the area runs out of cash during the weekends. Bring enough cash to cover all your expenses during the tour.

Ready to go on an adventure?

CLB Global Travel can arrange an all-inclusive package for you. Call us at +44(0) 748 470 3647, email us at [email protected] or explore our latest promotions on our website. We specialize in Far East Travel but can assist with your trip anywhere you wish to go.