|Posted on April 3, 2017 at 12:40 PM||comments (0)|
Argentina is a great year-round destination, depending on where you want to go, but December to March allows for the easiest access to the popular Patagonia region in the south, while September-November are great if you prefer a cooler environment in Buenos Aires, and the autumnal colors of the wine valley in March and April are marvelous.
The travel seasons in Argentina are generally considered:
High season (prices & tourism at its peak): Late November-February & July
Shoulder season: September-November & March-May
Low season: June & August
Best time to visit Buenos Aires
For a refreshingly crisp climate and moderate prices in Buenos Aires, September to November and April to June are the best times to visit. While January to February is the high tourist season in Buenos Aires, it is also accompanied by crowded streets, high prices, high temperatures, and muggy weather.
Best time to visit the wine valleys around Mendoza
March and April are the seasons when the foliage is in its stunning and colorful transition, especially in the Lake District/ wine valley region of the country, where visitors will see whimsically copper and gold vines and brilliant shades of orange in the beech groves.
Best time to visit Patagonia
The best time to visit the wind-swept Patagonia region is from December to February (winter). Because this is the high season, tour prices also tend to be more expensive during these months.
Best time to visit the beaches
Argentina’s hot summer runs from December to January and has perfect beach weather.
Best time to visit ski resorts
The Argentine winter extends from June to August, meaning that many beaches are closed but the mountain ski resorts are open for business.
|Posted on January 5, 2017 at 8:50 AM||comments (0)|
By Sarah Grainger, BBC Travel
Tourists arrive via the capital, Georgetown, where the country’s British and Dutch colonial past can be seen in the white clapboard houses and the dykes that keep the steamy, low-lying city above water. The Pegasus Hotel Guyana sits along Georgetown’s sea wall, and its poolside restaurant is a popular meeting place for the country’s elite.
Due to a lack of paved roads and other infrastructure, getting around outside of the capital is difficult for independent travellers. Most people take trips to the interior with experienced tour operators that are based in the capital, like Wonderland Tours and Roraima Airways. The most popular trip offered is a one-day tour to Kaieteur Falls, the world’s longest single drop waterfall by volume, located deep within the jungle’s southwest. Small 10-seater planes make the hour flight to the falls, approaching up the river canyon and swooping down close to the lip of the cascade for the perfect photo op, before landing at the nearby Kaieteur airstrip.
From there, an easy 10-minute hike to the falls takes you through Kaiteur National Park, where you are unlikely to see other groups of tourists but you can catch a glimpse toucans, macaws and golden tree frogs. The falls are 741ft, almost five times the height of Niagara and two times the height of Victoria Falls. They are also remarkably untouched – there is no guardrail or fence to warn tourists of the dangers of getting too close to the edge.
In the North Rupununi wetlands in Guyana’s southwest, visitors can take jeeps to the remote Dadanawa Ranch, after driving through open savannah and across floating pontoons, on a journey also organized by tour operators in Georgetown. The area is home to jaguars, giant anteaters and the Arapaima – the world’s largest freshwater fish. Birders come to see rare species like the Cock-of-the-Rock, the Blood Parrot and the Harpy Eagle.
Further down the Rupununi River, at Karanambu Lodge, world-renowned otter expert Diane McTurk welcomes guests to share her home and see her pioneering conservation work with orphaned giant otters. Guyana is one of the last existing strongholds for these native South American animals, and visitors can even swim in the river with them.
Those with a head for heights can keep following the river to the Iwokrama Centre, a river lodge and research centre where a canopy walkway gives visitors a new perspective on the rainforest. A 500ft trail of suspension bridges snakes 100ft in the air, through the forest’s mid- and upper-level canopy.
Guyana, aware of its potential as an ecotourism destination, is struggling to manage the competing demands of development and conservation. In November, the Marriott hotel chain began construction in Georgetown, and US air carriers, such as American Airlines are considering establishing routes to Guyana soon. Currently, Delta Airlines has services from New York to Georgetown and Caribbean Airlines flies between Port of Spain and Georgetown, connecting Guyana to the Caribbean and North America.
To counteract this development, the country is trying to implement a carbon credit scheme that will see richer economies pay to preserve the Guyanese rainforest and save it from destruction by gold and diamond miners. Former president Bharrat Jagdeo came up with this unorthodox plan to keep Guyana’s rainforest pristine and the Norwegian government has already agreed to participate, paying millions of dollars to Guyana to offset Norway’s carbon use. In return, Guyana has promised to guarantee the preservation of the forest in the immediate future, preventing illegal logging and mining and thus helping to put the brakes on climate change.
|Posted on November 29, 2016 at 7:10 AM||comments (0)|
By Hannah Peterson, Greenhearttravel.org
In high school and college it is likely that you will receive some kind of encouragement to travel, study or work abroad. It may seem like you have a lot going on so you don’t seriously consider these opportunities or maybe you write them off since you plan on traveling later in life. I would encourage traveling at any age, but the earlier you begin it, the better lessons you get.
When you are young you are still finding yourself and preparing for your school and career. The skills and experience you gain from traveling abroad can give you life-long personal benefits as well as a leg up in the professional world.
In high school and college you have the luxury of having flexibility since you can study anywhere in the world and have relatively long study breaks. It is a prime time to take advantage of your freedom and youth.
Top 6 reasons to travel abroad while you are young:
1. You’ll Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
As young people most of us have a pretty established comfort zone. At home with mom and dad, in a community that has known you for probably a good part of your life. You have your established, friends, activities, hangouts and possibly jobs. We become comfortable in these daily roles and the idea of breaking out them can be scary and uncomfortable.
The problem is, you learn the most in uncomfortable, unfamiliar situations. In our daily routines, you know how to act and respond to people and your surroundings. Being in a new place, with different people, who hold different values and go about life differently (or not so differently you may find) strips all that familiarity away.
It can be scary, but once you figure out that you can connect with people despite differences, and you can navigate foreign environments, you become a smarter, more competent individual. Embrace the discomfort. Search for it, because it is helping you grow.
2. Traveling Builds Confidence
As you conquer the obstacles of figuring out how to use public transit in a foreign country, or asking for simple things in a grocery store, you are building a confidence and ability to adapt in foreign situations. I remember moving to a country where I spoke little to none of the language.
When I returned home, I moved across the country to a state where I had no family, friends or connections. The prospect of that move may have intimidated me before living abroad, but then I thought to myself, ‘Well, if I can do it abroad in a completely foreign system, I will be just fine in a place where I at least share the language.’
You realize that you CAN do things, despite the obstacles and suddenly the obstacles seem less obstructive and more like welcomed challenges.
3. You Will Develop Cultural Sensitivity
Being culturally sensitive is key in our globalizing world. It is not enough to say “people from X country are like this.” It is important to look for underlying values that may explain a certain behavior in order to practice cultural sensitivity. A good example is when I was in Spain (especially in the south), where they take a 2-3 hour siesta and lunch in the middle of their work day.
Many people view this cultural norm as the people just being lazy when it really has a lot more to do with the fact that historically Spaniards value family face time. Eating together as a family is more important to them than maximizing work time by scarping a sandwich down at their desks.
Being aware of cultural values and norms is not only fascinating, but can help us understand international issues and conflicts, or even relate to the cultural norms of a foreign business partner. It is an important skill to be able to shift perspectives and see where someone else is coming from.
Cultural sensitivity will help you with your communication on both business and personal levels.
4. You Can Adapt to Globalization
Whether you like it or not, with the internet and social media, we are globalizing quickly. It is not unlikely that you would end up with a job that have you travel for business or take part in conference calls with international business partners. In our globalizing world it is important to be culturally sensitive and it can’t hurt to know a foreign language.
In the business world, having lived abroad can give you a competitive edge. Use the confidence and cultural sensitivity that traveling helps you develop and help it make you successful.
5. Be Immersed in a Second (or Third) Language
Before I lived abroad I never truly understood the beauty of becoming fluent or even proficient in another language. In the United States we don’t need to know another language, or many would argue that. Once you travel abroad you realize that especially in Europe, almost everyone you meet speaks at least two languages somewhat proficiently.
We in the States have a bit of a disadvantage since geographically we cannot country-hop as easily as Europeans can, and our only neighbors speak English and Spanish. This is why traveling, especially for us, is even more important. I would argue that in the globalizing world it really can only benefit you to speak another language. Not to mention, it opens up a whole new world of people you can now connect with and understand that you would never have gotten the chance to get to know had you never learned their language.
Living abroad is really the best way to learn a new language since you are forced to challenge and practice your skills on a daily basis.
6. Infinite Opportunities to Network
I have studied and worked abroad and made some incredibly valuable connections. If you are interested in working internationally or even just having a couch to stay on in a country that you love, never underestimate the value of networking wherever you go.
One thing I have learned in my time abroad is that people are generally very friendly and love to talk about their home and culture. This is not always the case, but more than often it is. Making friendships abroad can make this big world seem a little smaller and help you feel more connected wherever you go.
The best advice I can give is to meet as many people on your travels as you can. It will definitely make your time abroad more enjoyable since the locals know best! Plus you never know when these connections will come in handy in the future whether visiting each other for fun or otherwise.
|Posted on October 13, 2016 at 11:20 AM||comments (0)|
The good news is that the weather in Nicaragua is always hot – at times unbearably so, actually. There are a few places to visit in Nicaragua where the temperatures are a bit milder. I ended up going to some partially because this way I could get a break from the heat that was killing me. The best time to visit Nicaragua is during its dry season, from November to March or April: the sunny days and dry weather, however, attract more people (but Nicaragua is never too crowded). The rainy season starts at the end of March, and this is when the country is as green as it gets. I hardly recommend going between September and November: prices may be much cheaper, but it is the tail of the hurricane season and floods and rain may really ruin the trip.
The only international airport is Managua. There is a $10 USD entry fee that all tourists who visit Nicaragua need to pay. Customs is really easy to clear, but some officers may ask a proof of onward travel to a different country. Nicaragua is part of the Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement, a treaty that also includes Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador and that allows the free movement across borders between the four countries. In practice, this means that when entering one of the four countries visitors get a 90-days visa and in order to renew that it will be necessary to travel outside of them (ie in Costa Rica, Mexico or Belize).
It is possible to cross the border between Nicaragua and Honduras at Las Manos, El Espino or El Guasule. There is also a boat service crossing the Gulf of Fonseca and connecting Potosí in Nicaragua to La Union in El Salvador, and there is a $2 USD exit fee. Not many people actually use this crossing, and in fact I tend to discourage those wanting to do it. The tide changes dramatically within a few hours, the waves make the crossing a difficult one, and what is often described as a leisurely trip is infact a bumpy crossing where all passengers get soaking wet.
The border with Costa Rica can be crossed at Peñas Blancas or by boat via Los Chiles. Costa Rican authorities require anybody entering the country to show proof of onward travel, in the form of either a bus or a plane ticket.
Currency in Nicaragua
The Nicaraguan currency is the Cordoba. The exchange rate is around 27.2 Cordobas for one US Dollar at the moment. Dollars are widely accepted, and in any case they can be exchanged at any bank. Furthermore, money can be exchanged even in the street. At any corner in the centre of cities and near a bank there are men, usually wearing a badge, who exchange money at the official rate. It is completely safe to do so – I usually count how much I need to change and calculate how much I expect beforehand.
People sometimes ask me if it is safe to visit Nicaragua. I can’t hide that I have heard stories of people being robbed, but I have always felt safe there even as a solo female traveller. In fact, it is one of the safest countries in Latin America. Sure, I always keep an eye on my belongings and I avoid walking alone and in the dark in areas that are not considered safe, but other than that, I never have any problems even when taking the bus. Obviously, being able to effectively communicate in Spanish helps. Only the people who work in tourism really speak English!
Transportation in Nicaragua
One of the best things to do in Nicaragua is travelling by chicken bus. Chicken buses are old American school buses that have been driven all the way to Central America, their engine substituted, and they are now used for public transportation. They are very cheap, if only a bit uncomfortable: they only leave when full – and by full, I mean packed to the point that passengers may really feel like chickens in a cage. I still think they are fun: they are a great part of the culture of the country, locals widely use them, and I even saw the odd chicken a few times. And in the middle of all those people, the ticket man goes around to collect the fares, and street vendors get on board to sell whatever goods – from fruit to drinks, from pens to medicines.
The buses follow a fixed route, but there aren’t real bus stops. So, as long as on the route, people can get on and off the bus continuously, which means that the bus stops every minute or so and that trips that would normally take 30 minutes may take even over an hour.
Stations are actually fun places to visit in Nicaragua: while the drivers wait for the buses to fill in, the ticket men go around the station calling the destination and looking for passengers. It makes the place very lively and noisy, as well as colourful. It is beautiful to look at the chicken buses. Some of them are actually beautifully restored: newly painted and decorated, the ones that cover longer distances even have flat screen tv and a good sound system (too bad for the choice of movies and music which is never to my liking!).
Taxis in Nicaragua are very cheap, and usually have a fixed price per area. I normally ask how much it will be to go to my destination before getting on board, and if I am travelling long distance I barter a bit, but drivers tend to be honest. Taxis are shared, which means that even if there already are persons on board, the taxi will stop to pick up other passengers, as long as they are going in the same direction. A good way to meet local people.
I even hitchedhiked a few times. I had not intended to, really, but when I once missed the bus from León Vieja back to León, a passersby to whom I had asked questions and later on saw me waiting for the bus offered a ride, since he was going in the same direction.
Eating and drinking in Nicaragua
Nicaragua produces some amazing fruit and is actually one of the biggest producers of beef in Central America: in fact beef is delicious here. It is also common to find lamb (locally called pelibuey) and lots of fresh fish and seafood along the coast.
One of the best things to do in Nicaragua is having a fresh juice. Needless to say, fruit in Nicaragua is delicious, and fruit juice is always made from scratch: just lots of juice, purified water and ice, a hint of sugar and at most some yogurt. My favourite is limonada (lemonade). It is very common to find fresh fruit stalls in the streets and squares: vendors peel and cut the fruit and sell it for a very cheap price. It’s a really healthy snack! Other common snacks are fried yucca and plantain.
While the local cuisine is not internationally considered one of Nicaragua tourist attractions, I still find it interesting and tasty. Gallo pinto (rice and beans) is the national staple, much like bread in Italy I would say, and Nicaraguans accompany every meal with it. There have been times when I had gallo pinto at breakfast (with scrambled eggs, a corn tortilla and platano maduro, which is a ripe plantain slowly cooked in oil), lunch and dinner (along with some grilled chicken, a cabbage salad and a corn tortilla).
Places to visit in Nicaragua
I have been to Nicaragua three times, I have been all over the country, and I can say there are so many places to visit in Nicaragua that it is easy to spend a couple of months there. Although I keep going to my favorite places, for which I feel a special connection, I have found that there are so many things to do in Nicaragua that it is easy to find something different to do every day. However, if one has limited time to visit Nicaragua, there are some attractions that should not be missed.
Granada and things to do in Granada
Most people who fly to Nicaragua go to Granada, which is at about 1 hour drive from Managua, as soon as they land. This is definitely one of the most famous Nicaragua tourist attractions, and for a good reason. The weather here is more pleasant than in other parts of the country because, while incredibly hot during the day, the breeze from Lake Nicaragua (known locally as Lake Cocibolca and through which the Nicaragua Canal should be built) cools it down a bit in the afternoon and evening.
Tourists fall in love with its architecture and splendor; with its bright colours and cobbled streets and with its slow paced life. There are many things to do in Granada, it just is such a beautiful colonial city that will make any photography lover go crazy with its elegance and colours. There also are many out of town adventures that are easily accessible.