Category Archives: Bucket List

All travel bucket lists and all kinds of bucket lists. Get inspired and add some of our suggestions to your own bucket list. Keep traveling, keep exploring. This world is yours.

Family Gap Year: Visiting All 50 US States

If you’re from the United States, you probably think of it as just “home.” But the US is one of the biggest countries in the world, with incredibly diverse geography, and you could explore it for years without getting bored.

Just as the song says, “from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam…”

Sunrise on South Padre Island, Texas

Many people have the goal of visiting all 50 states, and our family is no exception. In the past two years, our family of six has traveled the US full-time and visited 45 states.

Counting previous trips, we’ve actually been to 49 out of the 50 states (just Alaska left to visit!), so it’s safe to say we are experts on traveling with a family in the United States!

Why Travel the United States

The US contains a vast array of geographical landscapes and cultural experiences. You can enjoy a tropical beach in Florida, explore the deserts of the southwest, visit Hollywood and New York City, see a volcano in Hawaii and a glacier in Montana, ski down a mountain in Colorado, admire the prairie grasslands in Kansas, and so much more.

And it’s all incredibly accessible! When you travel within the continental US, you can reach every area by car or RV. Laws are generally the same from state to state, and you can freely travel across state borders.

When our family decided to move from the southwest US to the east coast, we thought, “Why not take our time getting there?”

Two years later we still haven’t settled down. We are traveling full-time and loving every moment. While we do want to head overseas, the 2020 pandemic delayed those plans, so in the meantime we are just enjoying seeing as much of the beautiful USA as possible.

Devil’s Bridge in Sedona, Arizona

How to take a family gap year

We started with the idea that we’d take one year off to work remotely, homeschool our kids, and travel — what’s become known as a family gap year. Now is the perfect time to take a family gap year, as modern technology has made travel more accessible than ever before.

Many full-time traveling families live in an RV, but we don’t. The six of us travel in our minivan and primarily stay in Airbnbs for four weeks at a time. This lets us take advantage of the hefty discounts that Airbnb owners often offer for long stays, enjoy the physical space of a house or apartment, and really experience each location like locals.

I could write a novel about all the details of how to take a family gap year, but the two major tips are:

1. Sell or rent your house and put your mortgage/rent money toward your lodgings, and

2. Work remotely and homeschool.

If you’re willing to give up the comfort of having a homebase, at least temporarily, and you have a job that you can take on the road, then you have ultimate freedom!

Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico

How to visit all 50 states

Our route to 45 states in two years has been a little…how should I say this? All over the place! We’ve made three loops across the country so far with a fourth coming up soon.

We like to visit the southern states in the winter and the northern states in the summer (for obvious reasons), and we’ve been alternating exploring new places and revisiting old favorites. We often stay for about a month at each location, but sometimes we visit destinations for just a weekend, in between longer stays.

If you want to be super efficient in your US travels, you might want to check out Randy Olson’s optimal US road trip maps, or TripSavvy’s list of must-see American attractions in an ordered loop you can begin at any point.

However you decide to travel the US, there’s beauty and fun to be found wherever you go!

Glacier National Park, Montana

Must-Visit USA Destinations for Families

Hopefully the information that follows helps you to plan your ultimate USA travels, whether you hit the road full-time or make separate trips over a number of years. We haven’t been everywhere, but we’ve been a lot of places, and these are our favorites!

Pacific Northwest

We began our travels in the Pacific Northwest, an area of the country that we had never visited before. It was like a magical land, always misty with very tall trees and rocky beaches.

Our Airbnb on Whidbey Island even had a family of deer that liked to relax in the yard.

Must-visit destinations in the Pacific Northwest:

Whidbey Island

  • Check out the “disappearing cannons” at Fort Casey
  • Attend the annual Kite Festival

Fly a kite at the Whidbey Island Kite Festival

Friday Harbor

  • Learn about whales at The Whale Museum
  • Go orca watching at Lime Kiln Point

Seattle

  • Go up in the Space Needle
  • Visit Understory at the Amazon Spheres
  • Watch the fish throwers at Pike Place Market
  • Take a boat ride at The Center for Wooden Boats

Ride a wooden boat on Lake Washington

Portland

  • Browse the shelves at Powell’s Books
  • Get a Voodoo Donut
  • Visit the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

California

California is a unique state that deserves a category to itself. Spanning almost the whole Pacific coastline, there is much to see from the northern vineyards and redwood trees to the bustle and beaches of southern California.

Must-visit destinations in California:

Northern California

  • Hug a giant redwood tree
  • Visit a Sonoma vineyard

San Francisco

  • Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Visit Fisherman’s Wharf
  • Have some chocolate at Ghirardelli Square
  • Drive or walk down Lombard Street
  • Ride a cable car

Ride a cable car in San Francisco

Drive the Pacific Coast Highway

View from Pacific Coast Highway

Southern California

  • Walk the Santa Monica Pier
  • Hike to the Hollywood sign
  • Visit Disneyland
  • Learn about space at the Griffith Observatory


Visit Griffith Park for great views of Los Angeles

Southwest USA

We lived in Arizona for 15 years, so we are well-acquainted with the southwest! Growing up in Maine, I never knew the desert could be so beautiful, but the vistas of the southwest are something wonderful to behold.

Just keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, tarantulas, and scorpions, all of which we encountered at one time or another!

Must-visit destinations in the Southwest:

Nevada

  • Walk the Las Vegas Strip

Utah

  • Drive through colorful Zion National Park


Drive through Zion National Park for gorgeous vistas

Arizona

  • Stay at the Wigwam Motel on Route 66
    Drive Gate’s Pass in Tucson for gorgeous desert views
    Watch a gunfight in Tombstone
    Marvel at the Grand Canyon


The Grand Canyon makes every jaw drop

New Mexico

  • Attend the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

Four Corners

  • Stand in four states at once!

Texas

Another state big enough to have its own category is Texas! As they say, everything is bigger in Texas. There are several major cities with lots to offer, from Austin to Dallas to Houston, and there’s also quite the impressive coastline on the eastern side.

Our favorite Texas cities are San Antonio and South Padre Island.

Must-visit destinations in Texas:

Amarillo

  • Spray paint the cars at Cadillac Ranch


Add your mark on the cars at Cadillac Ranch

San Antonio

  • Tour the Alamo
  • Take a boat ride along the Riverwalk

South Padre Island

  • Ride the go-karts at Gravity Park
  • Visit the rescued sea turtles at Sea Turtle Inc.
  • Take a sandcastle building lesson


Learn how to build the perfect sandcastle on South Padre Island

Florida and the Gulf Coast

We love visiting the Gulf Coast, from the rich history in New Orleans, to the miles of white sandy beaches in southern Mississippi, Alabama, and along the Florida panhandle.

As a family with young kids, we’re no strangers to the theme parks of Orlando, and we love the tropical paradise of Miami and the Keys.

Must-visit destinations in Florida and the Gulf Coast:

New Orleans

  • Visit the French Quarter
  • Listen to some jazz music at Preservation Hall
  • Eat a beignet at Cafe Du Monde and a muffaletta from Central Grocery

Alabama

  • Relax on the perfect sandy beach in Gulf Shores
  • Attend a Mardi Gras parade on Dauphin Island

Florida

  • Visit Disney World
  • People-watch on South Beach in Miami
  • Visit the southernmost point in Key West
  • See the mermaids at Weeki Wachee


These mermaids perform incredible feats underwater!

Southeast USA

There’s so much history, culture, and good food to be found in the south! Visit in the fall or spring for weather that’s “just right”. We fell in love with South Carolina when we visited on our travels and now plan to settle down there and live the beach life!

Must-visit destinations in the Southeast:

North Carolina

  • Walk through the dreamlike UNC botanical gardens in Charlotte


The UNC Botanical Gardens are straight out of a fairytale

South Carolina

  • Try all the flavors of moonshine at the Kentucky Mist Distillery in Myrtle Beach
  • Watch the sunrise from Surfside Beach
  • Take a carriage tour through the streets of Charleston

Tennessee

  • Make some music at the Musician’s Hall of Fame in Nashville
  • Try Nashville Hot Chicken (if you dare)
  • Tour Sun Studios in Memphis

The Mississippi River

  • Take a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River

Georgia

  • See the Spanish Moss in Savannah
  • Try all the flavors in the World of Coke tasting room in Atlanta

Mid-Atlantic US

The mid-Atlantic is where our country was born! There are lots of historical sites to visit in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New York, gorgeous beaches along the shore, and of course the one-and-only New York City.

Must-visit destinations in the Mid-Atlantic:

Virginia

  • Stroll the Virginia Beach boardwalk
  • Visit Historic Jamestowne

West Virginia

  • Hike part of the Appalachian Trail


Hike the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia

Washington DC

  • Tour the three branches of government
  • Visit the national monuments
  • Explore the (free!) Smithsonian museums
  • Watch the pandas at the National Zoo


Say hi to the pandas at the National Zoo

Pennsylvania

  • Tour Independence Hall and visit the Liberty Bell

New York

  • See a Broadway show
  • Go up to the crown inside the Statue of Liberty
  • Visit Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park
  • Visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
  • Spend a day at Coney Island


Ride the rides or enjoy the beach at Coney Island, New York

New England

New England will always be home to me! I love the beaches and port towns of Maine and New Hampshire and the rich history of Massachusetts. Visit in the summer for beach weather, in the fall to see the gorgeous leaves, or in the winter if you’re brave!

Must-visit destinations in New England:

Boston, Massachusetts

  • Walk the Freedom Trail
  • Take a Duck Tour
  • Visit Faneuil Hall
  • Watch the fish at the New England Aquarium

Enjoy the picturesque foliage in fall


There’s nothing like the fall foliage in New England

Maine

  • Go shopping in Kennebunkport
  • Have the greatest pizza of your life at Pizza by Alex in Biddeford
  • Eat pier fries in Old Orchard Beach

Midwest USA

We spent four weeks in Louisville, Kentucky, and then explored the rest of the midwest on a whirlwind three-week excursion, hitting all the hot spots. Here are some of our recommendations for a trip through the midwest!

Must-visit destinations in the Midwest:

Louisville, Kentucky

  • Tour Churchill Downs (attend the Kentucky Derby if you get the chance!)
  • Watch baseball bats being made at the Louisville Slugger Factory

Ohio

  • Visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Indiana

  • Go duckpin bowling
  • Drive a racecar with the Indy Racing Experience Driving Program

Detroit, Michigan

  • Sing in Studio A at the Motown Museum
  • Take the Coney Dog Challenge

Chicago, Illinois

  • Take a reflection picture in the Bean
  • Visit the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Put your forehead against the glass at the top of Willis Tower
  • Eat a Chicago-style hotdog and deep-dish pizza

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Visit the Milwaukee Public Market and get something cheesy

St. Louis, Missouri

  • Go up in the Gateway Arch


Look out on the west from 630 feet high at the Gateway Arch

Central USA

I wasn’t sure if we’d ever make it to some of the central states, because we tend to take routes that don’t pass through them. But on our mission to visit as many states as possible, we made sure to head that way! What can you see in the middle of the US?

Must-visit destinations in the Central US:

South Dakota

  • Visit Mount Rushmore

Nebraska

  • See Chimney Rock (remember it from playing Oregon Trail?)


Chimney Rock: even better than the 8-bit version!

Kansas

  • Go 650 feet underground and explore a salt mine

Oklahoma

  • Visit the National Oklahoma City Memorial

Mountain West

The Mountain West region encompasses lots of different terrain, from the Rocky Mountains in mile-high Denver, to Yellowstone’s effervescent springs in Wyoming, and the frozen glaciers in Montana.

Must-visit destinations in the Mountain West:

Idaho

  • Eat baked potato ice cream at Westside Drive In


Looks like a potato, tastes like ice cream!

Glacier National Park, Montana

  • See a glacier
  • Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road


You’ll never forget the gorgeous views at Glacier National Park

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

  • See Old Faithful erupt
  • Marvel at the Grand Prismatic Spring


Yellowstone is a truly unique geographical experience

Colorado

  • Stand a mile high on the Denver Capitol Building steps
  • Tour the haunted Stanley Hotel
  • Visit Garden of the Gods

Alaska & Hawaii

Alaska is the only state we haven’t visited yet, but it’s in the plans! Hawaii was our honeymoon destination back in 2005, and we hope to visit again someday with the whole family.

Must-visit destinations in Alaska & Hawaii:

Alaska

  • See the Northern Lights

Hawaii

  • Tour a volcano
  • Watch the surfers at the North Shore
  • Attend a luau
  • Walk on a black sand beach

I hope this has given you a ton of great ideas for how you can travel and experience the United States with your family. There is truly so much to see and do, from coast to coast!

Author Bio

Megan Tenney travels full-time with her husband and four children. At Family Gap Year Guide, she teaches regular families how to take life on the road! Grab her free guide on how to afford full-time travel and live your dreams of seeing the world with your family!

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Top 10 Best Disney World Attractions

Let us face it! It has been our dream since childhood to visit Disney World at least once in our lifetime. Planning a trip to Walt Disney World puts you in good company. It is the flagship of Disney’s worldwide theme park empire and is, by far, the most popular theme park resort in the world.

Year after year, Disney World has been one the most visited vacation resort in the world, with an astounding number of attendants averaging over 50 million tourists annually. The figure speaks volumes about its out-of-proportion popularity.

Disney World at Nighttime

Though many people around the world want to visit this wonderful entertainment complex in the United States of America, very few, know the marvelous rides and attraction sites this place has to offer.

Long story short, going to Disney World will be an exercise in futility if you miss out on the following 10 top best attractions of the place. Mark them in your checklist and be sure to enjoy them right from the get-go.

Magic Kingdom Park

Magic Kingdom aka Cinderella’s Castle

It is a theme park inspired by a fairy tale castle of a movie made in 1950. It represents the classic story of Cinderella rising from being an orphan to a princess. T As the protocol goes, you will get a chance to be a princess or a knight at its very own salon.

Moreover, you can get to experience fine dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table, which is a once in a lifetime thing. But make sure you reserve a seat for yourself, or you might miss this opportunity.

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Disney Wedding Pavilion

A wedding is unarguably the most important day of an individual’s life. This is one reason why we leave no stone unturned to make it a memorable occurrence. But if there is any place in the world that truly deserves to host your dream wedding, it has to be none other than Disney Wedding Pavilion.

Disney Pavilion

Concerning the wedding ceremony, the Disney Wedding Pavilion is everything you can venture to imagine.

It is based in a dazzling setting, which will charm each one of the guests on your list with spectacular views and romantic archways. In addition to providing aesthetic pleasure, it serves as an ample picture-point for guests. Everything is designed in such a way that they make up for a great background for photography.

Disney’s Boardwalk

Fireworks seen from Disney World Boardwalk

Disney’s boardwalk occupies the area of roughly 90000 square feet. Here, you will witness an endless streak of shops, nightclubs, and restaurants. What could be better than shopping around and munching one of the most delicious foods you will ever have in your life?

Simply put, if you have an appetite for the typical nightlife of a metropolitan, the boardwalk is surely your cup of tea. This attraction is commonly referred to as a village on the water.

As you stroll along, your kids are quite likely to come across street performers. Talking about the most popular sites of this place, they are Atlantic Dance Hall and Jellyrolls.

Note: If you want to view the Disney World from a wheelchair user’s perspective, then read: 17 Reason Why I Love Walt Disney World.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Tree of Life in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The park is a special treat for animal-lovers. Whether you are fond of African, Asian, or species that belong to other vast and varied parts of the world, you can watch them all buying a single ticket. The park is also home to several animals that are almost on the verge of extinction. Rest assured, the experience is bound to cast a spell on your mind.

Speaking of formalities, you can explore the animal kingdom from 9 AM to 5 PM. Therefore, be smart to manage your time, or else you will go end up regretting big time.

Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park

Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney World

Are you one of those many people who are the victim of poor work-life balance? If yes, then you would be spending only a fraction of your time with the family, and even taking your kids to a local park might seem like an uphill task.

Attractions like Blizzard Beach Water Park allows you to splash into action and have fun with your family that you have been missing all these days.

Ranging from Summit Plummet to Runoff Rapids, it has tens of innovation water slides that will shock you. However, it would be a mistake to assume that the place is all about water. There are also numerous delicacies in Frostbite Freddy’s Frozen Freshments and Lottawatta Lodge. It is hands down one of the very famous attractions in Disney World.

The American Adventure

The whole point of going on a vacation is taking a much-needed break from hectic life. There is no harm in opting for a vacation spot that educates you and your children in a fun way. That is where Disney’s American Adventure swings into action.

The American Adventure at the Disney World

Once you step into this place, you will fall in love with American history, partly because America has a very proud history and partly because of the way this history is illustrated here.

From great depression to the deceleration of independence, many other historical landmarks are recalled during the projection. Those who have already been through this adventure will assure you that no one can walk off from the theatre without getting a deep sense of American history. Guess what, and you do not have to be time-bound for this show. So if you do not make it in time, you can always wait until the next round begins.

ESPN Wide World of Sport Complex

The ESPN Sports Complex is erected on a massive real estate. If you are into sports, this place will facilitate you to compete in nearly 60 top-tier games, taking the factor of age completely out of the equation.

Of course, not all of us are sports-enthusiasts. But if you are, you can choose to be a spectator and cheer for your team.

Awesome Planet

Our planet has been going through wear and tear since the dawn of history. However, in the last few decades, our ecosystem has collapsed like anything, and scientists say that the worse is yet to come. Provided unprecedented threats to our planet, it becomes even more important to visit this attraction.

The Awesome Planet film was made in partnership with Disney Conversation Fund to tell the story of our beloved planet and why it is important to take care of it. It calls upon the people to think and pay attention to global emergencies such as climate change and many others. Awesome Planet will do a world of good to you and your family in terms of igniting civic sense.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios at Disney World

If you have been a fan of Disney films, you cannot ask for anything better than Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As it turns out, there is a huge fan-following of Disney films because Hollywood tower remains the busiest place in the entire Disney world throughout the year.

Hollywood Studios owes much of its popularity to the recent openings, namely, Stars Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story.

Since the opening hours of this attraction keeps on fluctuating, staying on top of the time-management will be the key.

American Heritage Gallery

This list surely cannot come to a close without mentioning the name of the American Heritage Gallery. It showcases the heritage of America by displaying authentic artifacts along with some contemporary works as well. It is a major tourist attraction as it represents the richness of American culture.

Main Street, Disney World

Taking a few pictures here and there and getting to know more about the diversity of the American culture would be a great use of your time at Disney.

The Final Verdict

Undauntedly, every part of Disney World is gold. But if you lack time and other resources to explore all of it, then sticking to the places mentioned above will guarantee not only unlimited fun but also the best return of your investment at the same time.

Enjoy and have a blast!

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Our 7 Days Kenya Safari and the Big Five Game

Africa marks our 6th continent. Since Kenya is one of the best destinations to go for a Safari, we picked it as our first country to explore in Africa. It has been on our bucket list for so long and at last, we were about to experience a new continent!

We were excited! Moreover, we were going to see the “Big Five” in the wild! We picked Australken Tours and Travel as our safari company and they thoroughly impressed us! In short, we highly recommend them! They are mid-budget-range, locally owned and operated, flexible, and very, very professional!

Magical Kenya

In Africa, the Big Five game animals are the Lion, Leopard, Rhinoceros, Elephant, and African Buffalo. The term “big five” was coined by big-game hunters in the colonial past, and it refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on “foot” but is now also widely used by safari tour operators.

That said, we were in for a surprise because on our 7 days safari we saw animals which we did not even know exists (such as the ones pictured below)!

Waterbuck mating

Our 7 Days Kenya Safari

We’ll first share what was on our safari itinerary plan which then follows our experiences!

Day 0: Get to Nairobi

We arrived in Kenya late evening. This is the day where you will mostly rest and meet your tour operators and discuss your final safari logistics and trip plan!

Nairobi traffic 

Day 1: Nairobi to Amboseli

Trip plan: Depart from Nairobi for Amboseli National Park. Check-in and have lunch at AA Amboseli Lodge. Later proceed for the evening game drive in search of gigantic elephants the park is famous for, with chances of seeing lions, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, hippos, and different species of birds not forgetting the views of Mt. Kilimanjaro on a clear day. Meal plan (Lunch & Dinner provided)

Our Experience: Jambo, Kenya!

Giraffe and Zebras are everywhere in Kenya! You don’t even have to go to a park!

We woke up early morning (partially because we were jet-lagged and also because we were super excited to begin our safari!) We ate breakfast at our hotel and met Zippy our tour operator. She introduced us to our safari guide/driver, Albanus who has been doing safari tours for the past 29 years!

Since we chose a private safari tour, it was just two of us and our safari driver/guide. After a warm introduction, we were picked from our Nairobi hotel and started our first day of Safari towards the Amboseli National Park.

It was a lovely, sunny day. The warmth of the sun was so energizing. As we started our drive south towards Amboseli, to add to our adventure, our vehicle broke down midway. While we waited for it to be fixed, we saw Giraffe, Zebras, Donkeys, and pretty wildflowers by the roadsides.

Our safari van was fixed in 2 hours and we took some cool photos and stretched a bit and talked about the culture, tribes, and wildlife in Kenya!

Highway to Mombasa

The drive to Amboseli along the Mombasa highway was spectacular. One thing that really stood out at first was the magnificent landscape of Kenya. Red soil, beautiful landscape, cattle grazing, almost everything along the road was something new and different for our eyes!

During our drive, we crossed multiple small towns. It was very interesting to see life in rural Kenya as we drove through these small towns. Many people waved and smiled as we passed through; such a great welcome.

Not to forget the Acacia tree with birds nest and butterflies humming around, it was truly a moment of bliss. Mid-January is the season for mangoes in Kenya, so we also grabbed a bag of mangoes from the street vendors.

Morning view from our AA Amboseli lodge 

Finally, we reached our lodge, quickly grabbed lunch, checked into our super cute tent and in the evening we headed out for our first game drive. We saw tons of Zebra very close to the park.

Next, we entered the park and caught a family of elephants grazing. We were surrounded by elephants and it was just so spectacular.

Amboseli is known for its huge Elephant population 

Oh, another fun story, while we were entering Amboseli National Park, a Maasai man came to sell us handicraft. We did not want to buy a souvenir on our first day so he proposed bartering since he loved our The Art of Travel wooden watch. We exchanged our wood watch for a Maasai women wood sculpture.

It was the first time in our travels that we have bartered. This was an amazing experience! He was happy and we were happy! What a day! With all these fond memories our Day one of African safari came to an end. What an adventure!

Day 2: Amboseli National Park

Trip plan: After breakfast, we spend the day exploring the park. We also walked to the observation hill for the scenic view of the park and picnic lunch. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)

Our Experience: A spectacular view of Kilimanjaro

Glorious view of Mt. Kilimanjaro

With sounds of rain and thunder, we woke up early morning. The rain had stopped during sunrise and we caught glimpse of Mount Kilimanjaro standing tall in all glory. We were very lucky.

After a quick breakfast at the camp, we started our day at the park. During our drive, we saw many new animals.

A Cheetah family 

Playful yellow baboon monkeys, a lonely wildebeest, happy family of hippos, family of 3 cheetah all out for their fresh meal hunt, happy flamingo and Pelicans in the swamp, sneaky fox, busy Pumba, cunning hyena, skeptical ostrich, sassy giraffe, curious buffalo, herds of elephants, impala, and gazelle all around the park. Not to forget hundreds of species of birds on the ground as well as flying.

Pink Flamingos 

We went to the observation point for lunch where we had 360-view of the park. We ended the day at Masai Mara village where we saw cultural welcome dance and learned how the community functions in the tour through the tiny village.

Maasai tribe of Amboseli 

Day 3: Drive to Lake Naivasha

Trip plan: After an early breakfast departs from Amboseli passing via the outskirts of Nairobi en route to the Great Rift Valley where we will have a stopover to admire the escarpment before we proceed Lake Naivasha where we will arrive in time for lunch at West beach camp. Later we will proceed for an hour’s boat ride with chances of seeing hippo and different species of birds. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)

Our Experience: Everything happens for a reason

Early morning we started towards Lake Naivasha from Amboseli. Our van broke down again (Ugh!). So while our van was getting fixed we had some unforgettable moments interacting with the locals.

Our van broke it in front of a local handicraft store which was perfect for us to buy some souvenirs and check out local handicrafts. The lady at the shop was really sweet and she had some really cute collection. We bought a few souvenirs here (pictured below).

We moved along but the car needed more maintenance. We had to stop by a small town. While we were thinking about how unfortunate it is to have our car broken and possibly miss the activity planned for the day we spotted a beautiful Masai mother feeding her little baby girl.

A Maasai with her baby

I was watching her and the baby who was very friendly. The Maasai woman could not speak much English but she looked at us and smiled. I asked if I could take a picture with her and she was absolutely okay. After the photo and some interactions, she said “little money” and I was happy to give some money to the mother.

Next, we realized that there is a street market across the road selling shoes and all kinds of stuff. I was in much need of shoes since my only shoes broke on day 1 of safari (what a stroke of luck, right) so I bought a pair of safari type boots for 400 Kenyan shillings (i.e. $4 USD). It kind of looked somewhat tarnished but it did serve my desperate need since I was in my flip flops.

Shopping for shoes 

It also made me appreciate simple things in life and to be humble. I have nearly 50 pairs of shoes back home but all I needed was one.

Moving on to another mishap we were out of our camera’s SD card capacity in just 2 days. We underestimated how many pictures we would take and we needed an SD card which is really hard to find in small towns. Still, we inquired the guy who sold shoes if we can find an SD card anywhere. He directed us to the cyber cafe nearby.

We went to the cyber cafe but they did not have an SD card for sale. Turns out that the guy working there is a photographer himself. He offered us to loan his SD card but we were not coming back there. We asked if he could sell to us and buy a new one for himself.

He was really sweet (and helpful and honest). He agreed to sell his memory card for the price that is sold in the market rather than asking us for an insane amount since we were in high need of that. (Needless to say, we are friends now! When you travel with an open mind you make friends from all walks of life.)

By the time we did all our necessary shopping our van was ready. We were really happy that we used the time and found what we needed. Just when we hit the highway the van started acting up again. The radiator got so heated that smoke and water was coming out, the car stopped again for the third time absolutely In the middle of nowhere.

We had a deep sigh this time because now we are not only missing the boat ride at Lake Nakuru which was planned for the day but we are stuck absolutely out of nowhere. Our driver was thinking and figuring out what to do, what is the nearest town, etc.

Suddenly an old Maasai man who lived nearby came for help, then another young Maasai shepherd came to help. They all greeted us with a handshake and smile. The old man’s wife also came by and got some clean water for the car. They were curious.

The old man asked Salil to let him see things through the camera lens. He was so happy when he could see things far away up close through the zoom lens. It was a moment of joy.

Then all the men pushed the van if it could work after we put the clean water but it didn’t. Luckily since our van was not functioning as well from day 1 another van was on its way from Nairobi. We waited a while and it finally came to our rescue.

We got on the new van and started to contemplate that if our van did not break maybe we would not have such an authentic local experience and get to know how warm, nice, and helpful Kenyan people really are.

We stared towards Lake Naivasha and stopped by Great Rift Valley which was spectacular. Finally, late in the evening we reached our accommodation near Lake Lake Naivasha and ended the day with some really memorable experience and a delicious dinner.

At this time we were thinking that we have made the best of every situation thrown at us. We made lemonade when life gave us lemons for real.

We ended the day at West Beach Camp by the shores of Lake Naivasha! It was a gorgeous lodge and we were the only guests besides one another couple! Both the sunsets and sunrise in Kenya are spectacular.

Sunrise from West beach camp

Day 4: Lake Nakuru

Trip plan: After breakfast, we will depart from Lake Naivasha for Lake Nakuru National park where we will explore the park with a chance of seeing rhino, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, baboon, monkey, leopard among other wild not forgetting a visit to the baboon cliff for the scenic view of the park. We will also explore the shores of Lake Nakuru with the chances of seeing flamingos. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)

Our Experience: Something unexpected

Morning view at West Beach Camp, Lake Naivasha

We woke up, ate breakfast and as planned we headed to Lake Nakuru national park which has the salty lake Called Nakuru. On the way there we saw a lot of wildlife!

As we were exploring Nakuru, out of nowhere, we saw a lone male lion. This was the first time we saw a lion. He was a big male taking a nap under a bush. After about 30 minutes of waiting, he did stand up to watch us. He did not seem bothered at all and we felt the thrill of seeing a huge lion so close.

Next, we saw a huge troop of olive baboon monkeys, the zeal of zebras, heads of buffalo running, mommy and baby white rhino chilling, Waterbuck, gazelle, pumbas playing, and dozens of birds.

It was unreal for us to see a lion, we were not even expecting. We had picnic lunch at baboon cliff where we got a good view of the park and salty lake. It was really peaceful up the hill.

Lake Nakuru

The water level is rising at the park and it’s flooding a lot of sections in the park. The view at Lake Nakuru was unreal; the trees were half under the water and dead, making them home for birds to stop by.

It was a lovely day at Nauru. The camp where we stayed had such amazing food we were relaxed and excited for Masai Mara.

A mother and baby Rhino at Nakuru

Day 5: Lake Naivasha and Maasai Mara

Trip plan: After breakfast, we will continue with our safari to the renowned Maasai Mara game reserve which is Kenya’s premier game reserve. It is the home of the “big five” – lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, and elephant, as well as cheetah, zebra, giraffe and vast herds of plains antelope and numerous other wildlife. We will arrive in time for lunch at Osero luxury Camp followed by afternoon game drive before you return to Osero luxury camp to wait for dinner followed by overnight. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)

Our Experience: Hakuna Matata

We woke up early morning and headed to Lake Naivasha for a boat ride. We were supposed to do the boat ride on day 3 but we did manage to squeeze this on day 5.

 

Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake, unlike Lake Nakuru which is a saltwater lake. We had a memorable boat ride where we spotted numerous birds singing, cruising, and sunbathing on the trees.

We also saw a lot of hippos here! They are mighty creatures and the babies look so cute!

The highlights of lake Naivasha were seeing green plants grow on the lake, the fishermen catching fish, hippos with their family and an eagle hunting fish from the water. These are some moments we will always remember.

After Lake Naivasha, we headed towards Masai Mara straight. It was a long drive but we could see so much of the country by land. Finally, after a long drive, we reached Masai Mara.

The moment we reached Masai Mara we could instantly feel how different it is from other parks we have been. Not just the size but the landscape. It was interesting and unique. Vast grassland, meadows, small hills around, different kinds of trees (like the sausage tree and fig trees) and scattered acacia trees it was all adding to its beauty.

It was late afternoon game drive we were spotting new animals we have never seen like Topi, Dik-Dik, and Steenbok.

Topi

We were driving and suddenly we spotted three young male lions sleeping and fooling around. They were muscular, strong, and powerful. We watched them take a nap and change bushes. It’s rare to see three male lions all together but we were lucky.

Two teenage lions

As it was about time to exit the park we spotted a family of Cheetah. A mother and 3 cubs chilling. This was the first time we saw cheetah so close. They are so lean and curious. They look adorable too.

With an amazing first game drive at Masai Mara, we headed to our lodge. On our way back just outside the park, we saw so many Pumba running around with their tail up. They are so cute to watch.

Jackal

There was also a Jackal running across the road. We followed him for a while and it ran away.

Our lodge was deep inside the park in the wooded area. We had dinner at the lodge where Maasai people danced for us. They asked Salil to join and so Salil did participate. We’ll share the Maasai dance video on YouTube.

Maasai welcome dance

At night we could hear Hyena howling. We also heard elephants and we woke up to birds chirping. What an experience!

Day 6: Maasai Mara

Trip plan: We will spend the whole day exploring the expansive Maasai Mara game reserve in search of Elephant, Zebra, Wildebeest, Rhino, Buffalo, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard and other plains game with a visit to the Mara river where we might have a chance to see hippo and crocodile. We will return to Osero luxury camp to wait for dinner followed by overnight. Meal plan (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner provided)

Our Experience: A very special moment

It started with pretty heavy rain early morning in Masai Mara but our guide assured us that it will still be a great game drive because animals, unlike humans, are not bothered by the rain.

We were driving towards the park early morning and the rain started to slow down a bit. On our way, we spotted two Masai kids in school uniform trying to cross a stream and go school.

They were small and after the rain, the stream had got to the road. We asked our guide to stop and offer them a ride to school. They were very happy. We dropped them at their school and they smiled and said ‘Asante’ which means ‘Thank you’ in Swahili.

We had just started our game drive in Masai Mara and thankfully the rain had also stopped. As we were watching some game around the park our guide got a call from his friend. After the call, he said, “guys, sit down. I think we’ve got something.”

Usually, the guides have a radio where they share what animals are spotted or they call and let other guides know about any major game around.

Also until the very end of our safari, we realized that guides usually don’t tell you what you’re going to see next or what can be seen. It totally makes sense because until today we were never told what exactly we are seeing, so every time we saw something we were always pleasantly surprised.

We knew there is something coming up but honestly, we did not pay much attention to what it would be. During that drive, we were just admiring the beauty of the park and landscape.

Suddenly we were on a road where few vehicles were stopped. We then knew there’s got to be something here hence so many vehicles. Our guide said “here is a pride of lion sleeping on the road”.

Our jaws opened wide as we saw 13 lions 8 females and 5 cubs having their siesta time. It was such a wonderful surprise. We luckily got a good spot to admire these sleeping lions on the road. Some cubs were curious and looking at us. Some were going back and forth around the female lioness for milk.

We saw them pet each other, cuddle, nap, stretch, stand, and sleep again. It was just magical. Hard to comprehend in words.

An hour felt like a minute. That mother-child bond and love we encountered was one of the most special moments at Maasai Mara. Our heart was filled with joy.

As of the 6th day of our Safari, we have seen 4 of the big 5 and many other interesting and important members of Africa’s beautiful savannas. Now we were on a hunt for the big cat aka Leopard.

Leopards are very shy animals unlike cheetah and the hardest to spot among the big five. Since it rained all night the road was very muddy. We went on a hunt around a lot of places where we could spot leopards like the fig tree, sausage tree, and the famous acacia tree.

We saw a wildebeest leg handing on a tree. Most likely a leopard must have had its meal there. There were no signs of leopard around and in all honesty, we did not feel sad about that. Nature and animals have their own rule and we cannot challenge that.

This was not a zoo where one can always trace an animal. The wildlife here is part of the vast African Savanna where we humans are no one but visitors in their homeland. With that registered in our brain and with much respect for the wildlife we drove towards the Mara River where the great migration from Serengeti of Tanzania to Masai Mara of Kenya happens.

On the border of Tanzania (behind us) and Kenya (in front)

On the way, we stopped at the border of Kenya/Tanzania. Such an interesting place. We were also thinking about how all these animals cross borders and that nature is not bound by any county or borders.

We reached the Mara river and took a short hike around the river with a ranger. This was our first hike experience at the park. It was beautiful and remarkable to set our foot and walk through the land of some deadly predators.

The famous Mara river full of hippos and crocodiles

We spotted some hippos in the river and the guide gave us a lot of information about the wildlife there. After that, we started our way back to our camp. On the way back we spotted two Waterbucks mating putting in a show for everyone. We also saw a lot of African Ostriches.

By sunset, we made it back to our camp to enjoy the evening. We enjoyed our gorgeous tent, had a wonderful conversation with the Masai guard, and a very scrumptious dinner with our guide. It was a day filled with the most pleasant surprise of all.

Day 7: Maasai Mara to Nairobi

Trip plan: Early morning game drive followed by breakfast then we will depart from Maasai Mara as we continue with your journey passing via Narok town then proceed to Nairobi where we will be dropped to catch our homebound flight. Meal plan (Breakfast provided)

Our Experience: Farewell until we meet again

The last day of our Safari. Just the thought of this made me teary and sad. As I was contemplating over my cup of Kenyan tea about this entire Safari trip and all the beautiful encounters with all different species of wildlife.

With Maasai people

The breathtaking views of the African savannah, the gorgeous Acacia trees, the bushes, the insects, the birds, the view of Masai cattle grazing, the smiles of kids waving, the people, the food, the smell of the air, the red land, everything almost everything that we had experienced in these 6 days will be safely treasured as beautiful moments in Africa.

Our Osero luxury camp in Maasai Mara

We checked out from our camp and went for one last quick drive around the park to bid farewell to the beautiful land and then headed towards Nairobi. We reached Nairobi and wanted to meet our Facebook friend from Kenya at the local mall (we
have never met her in person) we were excited.

Our tour operator also came to say goodbye. She got us a beautiful souvenir. She was very apologetic about the vehicle incident but it was all unexpected and we had nothing but good memories out of the trip. We told her that we’ll be back for more!

The terrain inside the park is pretty rough and with rain gets very muddy. We have seen a lot of vehicles break down as well so it comes with the experience. Overall we had an amazing time and actually we did not miss any activities as planned so we were very happy with our overall adventure in Kenya!

With our friend Anita at Nairobi airport 

We finally met our friend and ate our last meal in Kenya together. We shared hugs, laugh, and wonderful conversations. Our friend offered to drop us to the airport, and we had more conversations in the car and such an amazing time overall in Kenya.

With all of this in our hearts, it was time to bid farewell to beautiful Kenya. The memories made in the continent of Africa will always be very dear to us. Back from the trip, we feel extremely rejuvenated, fulfilled, and grateful for all the experiences we had along the way.

The Ultimate Guide to US National Parks Road Trips Across America

If you are like us, chances are you love road trips and you want to visit all the National Parks in the United States. But, the United States is a vast landmass and if you work a full-time job or run a business, you have limited vacation days. Plus, traveling requires planning and money.

In 2019, we finished our quest to visit all 50 US States as “the First non-US born Couple”. During our 5 years long adventure, we made numerous road trips, drove more than 15,000 miles, visited more than 100 US Cities, and explore over 30 National Parks.

We thought, sharing our journey will be a helpful resource for other wanderlusters who are planning a similar adventure.

Death Valley National Park, Nevada

US National Parks Road Trips

Before we jump into the best ways to visit the America’s National Parks and various google maps routes, let’s take a quick step back and reorient ourselves on what is our goal here.

The goal here is to visit most (if not all) of the US National Parks.

There are 61 National Parks in the United States. If you’ll try to drive to all of them in one stretch, it will be more than 15,000 miles of driving and it will easily take you over 3 months. But, we are not going to propose that. Enjoying nature is opposite of rushing!

Therefore, the purpose of this guide is to help you save money and time while enjoying the beauty of the North American continent. It’s not a record making or breaking quest, it’s a carefully thought-out itinerary for anyone who has a busy life and day-to-day responsibilities. Jobs, businesses, family, health concerns, and so on.

Depending on where you live or if you are flying from abroad, you can start anywhere (on any of the loops) and then make your way towards Eastcoast, Westcoast, Midwest, or the South.

West Coast National Parks Road Trips Itinerary

Since California has the most National Parks in the contiguous United States, let’s start here.

Below is the trip we planned for ourselves along with our friends who live in the San Jose area. Please note, we live in Boston (on the opposite coast) and the tickets to San Francisco is usually the cheapest among all California airports. So, we made San Fransisco as our start and end point.

Depending on where you are coming from or if you happen to live in California or Oregon, you can tweak the journey to your liking and whatever best suits your situation.

California National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

Since California has 8 National Parks and it’s one of the largest state, this loop only consists of California National Parks.

Link to open in Google Maps

Yosemite National Park, California

Pacific North-West National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

This loop includes the States of Washington and Oregon on the west-coast, and the states of Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.

We flew to Seattle from Boston and started south. Portland city should not be missed and there are plenty of scenery near Bend so we added those as out stops. Crater Lake National Park is a short drive from Bend.

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

In Idaho, we made Boise our night stops and Idaho Falls as a stop for Grand Teton National Park.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

From the Grand Teton, you head directly north into the Yellowstone National Park and you should give it at least 2 days. There is just too much to see here. Also, note that in terms of the size, Yellowstone is larger than the state of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

Continuing north, we passed through Choteau and made East Glacier village our pit stop for entry into the Montana’s crown, Glacier National Park. Again, the weather is unpredictable and allow yourself a few extra days so you don’t miss the breathtaking beauty of many green, blue, and turquoise colored glacier-fed lakes.

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

After that, you can head west and if you want you can explore Spokane on your way. Continue further west to North Cascades National Park, then head south to Seattle. Then explore Olympic National Park and Rainer National Parks.

Visit the Space Needle and the famous fish and farmers marker – Pike Place.

Link to open in Google Maps

Links to open in Google Maps

The above two loops (California loop and Pacific Northwest loop) covers 15 National Parks out of 61 total. Woohoo! You are off to a great start.

You have already achieved almost 25% of your goal.

Denver National Parks Road Trip

We flew from Boston to Denver and this time our eyes were set on the magnificent beauty of Colorado’s Rockies and the reddish desert of Utah.

Link to open in Google Maps

Stone Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

Las Vegas National Parks Road Trip

Next, we flew to Las Vegas from Boston (the tickets are usually cheap to Vegas from almost anywhere in the United States). This time, we focused on the great Canyons of Arizona and the remaining wonders of Utah, including Westworld’s Monument Valley.

Link to open in Google Maps

The above two loops gives 12 National Parks which brings your totals to 27/61. This is getting exciting, isn’t it! You have just made 4 trips from your home base (wherever it may be) and you are already 44% done towards your milestone!

The Narrows in Zion National Park, Utah

Minneapolis National Parks Road Trip

This time we flew from Boston to Minneapolis as the tickets are again usually cheap and it’s the biggest airport for the next 5 National Parks road trip loop.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota is the best place to see wild bisons and wild horses. Whereas Wind Cave and Badlands in South Dakota is a unique geographical wonders.

Bisons in Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

Minneapolis and Michigan bordering with Canada and surrounded by the Great Lakes is amazing during the summer time.

Link to open in Google Maps

Talk about driving across the entire country from the comfort of your own rental car or RV. After making this 5th trip, you are more than halfway done. Your totals after visiting the above 5 National Parks now stand at 32/61.

Badlands National Park, South Dakota

You have now visited more than half of all National Parks in the United States. Congratulations! 

Let’s shift gears and head to the South now for a long road trip before we continue our journey into the Midwest and Northeast and Atlantic South.

Phoenix or Albuquerque National Parks Road Trip

This last trip will wrap up everything in the South, Pacific Northwest, the Rockies, and the West Coast. And you have two choices in terms of where you want to start and finish your road trip: Phoenix, Arizona or Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Depending on whether you are flying in or driving and whichever city seems to be nearer and cheaper, you can pick either one and do this loop. You have 5 National Parks to cover in this trip:

Petrified Forest National Park, Saguaro National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and Big Bend National Park. Two in Arizona, one in New Mexico, and two in Texas. (If you wondering where is Grand Canyon, scroll above to Las Vegas National Parks Road Trip loop.)

Link to open in Google Maps

You have now 37 national parks out of 61 total. 😉 Talk about wandering around!

The Big St. Louis National Parks Road Trip Loop

The goal of this big road trip is to finish everything remaining except the National Parks of Alaska (eight), Hawaii (two), Florida (three), and Maine (one). By doing this almost 3500 miles long loop, you’ll end up with 47 National Parks out of 61 total.

Now, that’s almost near-80% finished! And, you are just 4 trips away from finishing your adventure.

Link to open in Google Maps

In the above loop, you have got two newest National Parks of the United States, the St. Louis Gateway Arch and Indiana Dunes in Indiana. On this trip, you’ll also pass through great cities such as St. Louis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Memphis.

Florida National Parks

Florida has three National Parks. Everyone has heard of Everglades National Park and the gators but did you know, Florida also has two marine area that are protected National Parks: Biscayne and Dry Tortugas.

Alligator in Everglades National Park, Florida

You can fly to Miami and then rent a car and drive to Everglades. Then drive back to Miami and then drive to Biscayne National Park. In the end, head to the Key West and explore Dry Tortugas National Park.

Now you are “50 National Parks visited” kind of person.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park, Maine

For your 51st National Park, fly to Boston or Portland, Maine and then drive to Bar Harbor, Maine and enjoy the scenic beauty of Acadia National Park. It’s amazing during the Fall colors.

Since we live in Boston, we have been to Acadia numerous times and in all seasons. Maine has a beautiful coastline and Acadia is the crown jewel.

Woohoo! Congratulations! You have just finished 51/61 and all of the National Parks in the Contiguous United States.

You can pat on your back and take a moment to allow yourself to celebrate. This is quite a milestone! Not many people have seen this beautiful country coast-to-coast and you are among the lucky few!

Alaska National Parks

Fly to Anchorage and rent a car and visit the four national parks near the Anchorage region. These are: Lake Clark National Park, Katmai National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, and Kenai Fjords National Park.

Then head south to Juneau, Alaska to visit Glacier Bay National Park. It’s accessible only by ship or plane.

Next, head north to Denali National Park and then continue further north to the Gates of the Arctic National Park. Upon return, either from Fairbanks or Anchorage, you may want to take a flight to the last remaining national park in Alaska, Kobuk Valley National Park.

Denali National Park, Alaska

Hawaii National Parks

What could be a better a place to finish this epic adventure than in Hawaii. Hawaii was the 50th state of the US and it has 4 major islands that everyone visits to: Oahu, Big Island, Maui, and Kauai.

For the National Parks adventure, you’ll be visiting Maui and the Big Island (also called as Hawaii). In Maui, you have Haleakala National Park, and on the Big Island, you have Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park.

Congratulations once again, now you have visited all 61 US National Parks! 

If you are wondering what’s next, check out our Ultimate Travel Bucket List page to start new adventures!

Note: The cover photo is of Yellowstone National Park, our favorite national park along with Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park.

A Travel Guide To Sahara Desert With 8 Pro Tips

The Sahara Desert has always been a center of attraction for the tourist who visits Morocco. It is impossible to resist the beauty of orange sand around you.

You could feel the ancient culture of Morocco by riding the Camel in the Sahara. I bet when you ride camel you would feel like Aladdin searching for Jasmine!

Note: You may think (based on the movies or books) that Sahara is just about riding a camel or walking barefoot in the sand. Let me tell you, it’s much more than that. Also, I will share some really interesting ideas which you can do in Sahara and make your trip more memorable.

Must-Do Things In The Sahara Desert

The beauty of Sahara is very unique and it is different from many pieces of nature that you have ever seen in your life.

To experience the place where there is no civilization, no buildings and no signs of footprints because the sand will cover your footprint is a treat in itself. In this short guide, I will give you some tips to enjoy your Sahara tour to the fullest.

A native desert girl

Camel Trekking

Many people think that camel riding is a very tiring and uncomfortable thing but most of them do not know that in the evenings they are padded with blankets and supplies. You could easily ride and enjoy the journey in the evening.

Have fun with Sand boards

Sand boards will be provided by your hotel. Ask the staff they will give you the sand boards to enjoy. If you are with family, they will give separate boards to kids. What you can do is slide down the dune.

Look for highest dunes with good slopes and you will have a time of your life. Trust me!

Enjoy the beauty of Sahara

Most people waste a lot of time taking pictures of different places. I recommend enjoying the tour fully. See the beauty around you with your own eyes, not by the eyes of the camera.

Sitting alone outside of your camp and gazing the sky full of stars is an experience which you will never forget.

Watch Sunrise & Sunsets from the sand dunes

Wake up early and see the sunrise. See how the sun rays turn the sand into Golden. You could find orange sand dunes in the western part of the Sahara near Morocco.

Marrakech is very popular because of its Sahara Desert Tours. If you want to enjoy a 3 days desert tour from Marrakech then follow the link as they offer some really good tour deals to the Sahara Desert.

Go on a desert safari

Similar to camel tours and walking tours, you can also do a desert safari. These desert safari drivers (a 4×4 jeep or other SUVs) are experienced and you’ll have one thrilling experience of a lifetime. It’s a ‘must try’.

Set up a desert tent

No trip to the Sahara is complete without having spent a night in the desert in an open (or covered) tent while laying down directly under the night sky and cold sand.

All of the above can be either self-organized or booked as a tour.

Do not rush

Enjoy the trip in its deepest sense. A lot of people try to explore the Sahara Desert very quickly and when their time gets over, they usually said they did not explore even half of the desert. You must plan your desert tour for at least 3 days.

8 Pro Tips Before You Embark on the Sahara Adventure

Before you go to Sahara make sure you should know what to pack and I will show you the necessary item which you should not leave behind. Leaving these would cause unnecessary pain in the Sahara. So, without further ado here is the list.

Don’t forget sunglasses

This is the most obvious thing to pack because there would be strong UV rays which can damage and may even burn your eye’s soft tissues. According to the American Optometric Association if you do not wear sunglasses in that kind of area where the sun is at its peak then you risk of macular degeneration.

As a bonus, glasses will also protect your eyes from any sand that might get into your eyes with the breeze.

Sun protection

Speaking of strong and hot sun, do not forget to bring sunscreen. Moreover, wear full sleeve shirts to protect your arm and wear a hat is also highly advised to protect you from sunstroke.

Carrying a water bottle is also highly recommended because when you ride the camel you will dehydrate very quickly.

Wear comfortable shoes

You might watch in the old movies like in Aladdin in Lawrence of Arabia where the main protagonist walks in Sahara with no shoes or in sandals. But please do not make this stupid mistake in the afternoon when the sun heats up the sand becomes very hot.

Believe me, you do not want to be out in the dunes without proper protection for your feet. If you are with some good travel company, they may provide you with some extra pair of shoes which you can use in your desert excursion.

Pro Tip: You will get a chance to walk bare feet on the sand in the morning and evenings when the sand is cool.

Magnificent desert sunset in the Sahara

Carry a light scarf

You should buy a scarf before going to Sahara. It will help you when you are going to sleep outside of your camp at night.

Although most of the times you should not have to worry about the sandstorms if there is a little wind, you could cover your face with the scarf

Pack a jacket

Many people thought that Sahara would be very hot then why should we buy jackets? You should know that Sahara will not be hot every time. It would be cold in the mornings and evenings.

If you are coming in winter then you should definitely pack a pair of jackets with you.

Carry a chapstick

The air in the Sahara is very dry and will take a toll on your lips for sure. Couple of time I have seen men wearing their wife’s lipstick to keep their lips from peeling.

So, protect yourself from this kind of embarrassing situation and keep lip balm or Chapstick with you.

Pack a great camera

Sahara is considered as a heaven for photographers. There is an unlimited number of interesting photos in Sahara like sunrise, changing colors of sand dunes in the morning, sunset, Camel riding, Clear sky with thousands of stars, etc.

If you bring digital Camera then I recommend bringing its bag to protect it from dust also do not forget to bring its batteries or charger.

Book your tour with a credible travel agency

My final tip would be to book your Sahara Tour with some credible travel agency. Last year before going to the Sahara Desert, I have found that there are a plethora of travel companies out there making false claims.

You should book your extrusion with some specialists and with locals who knew the place very well.

I booked my Sahara trip with Marrakech Desert Trips. I have found them very professional and they guided me very professionally throughout my trip. They told me the accurate expenses before and did not charge me with any extra dime.

Best Time To Visit The Sahara Desert

A morning walking tour exploring the sand dunes

Sahara is open for almost all year. You could plan the tour any time any day. But according to me, the best time is from October to early May. During these months’ temperatures would be not that much as in June to September.

You may encounter some sandstorms in January to April but they are just mild sandstorms and you could easily get away with them by putting the light scarf as I mentioned above and you would be fine.

Author Bio

Sheraz Shahzad is a part-time travel blogger, part-time digital marketing specialist, and full-time dreamer. He loves the photographic medium for expressing what he loves about life. He always finds himself lost during travel.

Aside from his taste for adventure, he loves doing two things while traveling: meeting new friends and trying new food. You can contact him on LinkedIn to work on your travel website.

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Top 100 Places People Most Want to Travel

Have you ever wondered what are the top 100 places in the world that people most want to travel? Well, we did some research and here we present you a list of awesome destinations that you can turn into an epic bucket list.

These top 100 places are the most desired among travelers from around the globe. (Listed in no particular order for curiosity and surprise.)

In other words, below are the top 100 places to visit before you die. How many of these have you visited so far?

London

Paris

New York City

Singapore

Las Vegas

Los Angeles

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Bangkok

Bali

Sydney

Cairns

Vancouver

Galapagos Island

Madagascar

Jerusalem

Mecca

Jordan

Agra

Goa

Jaipur

Kerala

Rome

Vatican City

Venice

Switzerland

Hawaii

Bahamas

Bermuda

South Africa

Amazon River and Jungle

Egypt

Iceland

Costa Rica

Belize

Easter Island

Hong Kong

San Francisco

Toronto

Alaska

Grand Canyon

Dead Sea

South Beach, Miami

Tokyo

Madrid

Barcelona

Berlin

Bora Bora

Maldives

Amsterdam

Ibiza

New Zealand

Shanghai

Dubai

Beijing

Salt Flats, Bolivia

Kathmandu

Tibet

Melbourne

Buenos Aires

Mexico City

Cancun

Panamá

Rio de Janeiro

Mykonos

Santorini

Morocco

Istanbul

São Paulo

Seoul

Scotland

The Great Wall of China

Machu Picchu

Tahiti

Bhutan’s Tiger Nest Monastery

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Banff, Canada

Tanzania

 

Kenya

Vietnam

Phuket

Austria

Preikestolen, Norway

Niagara Falls

Stonehenge

Namibia

Tikal, Guatemala

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow

Iguazu Falls, Brazil-Argentina

Yellowstone National Park

Dolomites, Italy

Khajuraho Temples, India

Patagonia, Argentina

Maasai Mara, Kenya

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Alhambra, Spain

Ice Cave, Skaftafell, Iceland

Gobi Desert

12 Apostles, Australia

Bagan, Myanmar

Mt. Everest Base Camp

The Best Month To Cruise To Antarctica

Oh! when the summer arrives, Antarctica sounds divine, doesn’t it? The summer months and early winter months mark as a travel season for most of the North Americans and Europeans. Many fly halfway across the globe to visit their dream destinations.

If you are planning to visit Antarctica, why fly and spend big bucks when you can immerse yourself in the excitement of an Antartica cruise! Antarctica might be the coldest and the driest, but it is also the queen of polar expeditions.

So, when you get a chance to ditch all the regular tour packages and embark on a polar voyage, why not take it?

Visit in November

Golden sunset in Antarctica

Traveling to Antarctica is not all flowers and the sunshine. That is why most of the travelers tend to visit during the summer months.

But we recommend that you travel in winter. Since Antartica is in the southern hemisphere, it means the months of November and December are warmer while the northern hemis[here begins to get chilly.

Spring Scenery

The Austral Spring is already on the go and you can see the sights that you will seldom see if you take the cruise at any other time of the year.

Emperor penguins 

You see the cute penguins following the courtship rituals, humpback whales feeding on the zooplankton, Crab-eating Seals guarding their younger ones and Southern Elephants on the watchdog duty.

It is only at this time of the year that the entire Antarctic habitat decides to unveil itself.

White Christmas

It is not just the animal habitat that is in its ultimate glory. The white sheet of icebergs shine and glow with the nests of various animals. It is the best time to capture the unadulterated magic of the Southern Pole.

Antartic scenery  

The Hurtigruten Way

Hurtigruten is an age-old cruising company, based in Norway. Instead of flying, you can cruise along in the expertly designed ships and see the frozen beauty of Antarctica up close.

There are many cruise packages that Hurtigruten offers. And that includes three of its leading ships – MS Fram, MS Roald Amundsen, and MS Midnatsol.

MS Fram

  • No of Cruises available – 8
  • Short trips – 5

MS Fram is a trendsetter in the line of adventure travel ships. It offers five short voyages to Antarctica. It’s usually a two-week voyage from Ushuaia. Argentina through the mysterious Drake Passage.

They also have tours in January-February, but it’s more expensive than November. We recommend traveling in November when the price is lower, and the sights are gorgeous.

But the golden deal is in October. It is just the time when the Antarctic ice starts melting and you can see the polar wildlife come out of their hiding. MS Fram departs from Montevideo, Uruguay in South America.

Another season package is available in February, where you get to see the beautiful Chile Coast. As we said earlier the price tag during January – February goes a notch higher.

A golden sunset in Antarctica

MS Midnatsol

  • No of Cruises available – 9
  • Short trips – 9

MS Midnatsol offers shorter voyages than the other two ships. And it gives a luxurious experience even in the remotest of locations. You get a Jacuzzi and a sun deck in the freezing poles, isn’t that exciting?

All the itineraries of MS Midnatsol are short and swanky. The ship offers a two week trip in November and a few trips in February.

If you really want to celebrate White Christmas, then MS Midnatsol does offer a Christmas voyage each year. A two-week adventure trip to Antarctica is the best way to finish strong and start your new year!

If you are interested in seeing the Chilean Fjords or touching the icebergs or if you want to enjoy the views of the Patagonian Coast- then check out MS Midnatsol tours.

Hiking on the slippery ice might sound tempting and MS Midnatsol makes it possible. You can go on circling and enjoying the beauty of the South American coast and may even visit the Falkland Islands.

Light reflecting through frozen polar ice

MS Roald Amundsen

  • No of Cruises available – 3
  • Short trips – 2

This brand new addition to the fleet of Hurtigruten is MS Roald Amundsen. It defines sustainable travel to perfection. It uses modern technology in an environment-friendly design which is commendable.

There are number voyages of MS Roald Amundsen to Antarctica each year. Usually, the tours span to 18- 19 days and are far pricier than the other ships. But as we mentioned earlier, you can’t go wrong on any of these ships!

Related Posts

Trekking in Nepal: A Bucket List Experience

If you are a serious wanderluster, chances are Nepal is high on your travel bucket list. With eight of the top ten highest summits in the world and some of the most beautiful landscapes which are only reachable on foot, trekking in Nepal is one of the unique experiences of South Asia.

Trekking is the most popular tourist activity in Nepal and travelers have a lot of options to choose from on the streets of Kathmandu and Pokhara (the trekking hub).

Kathmandu valley, city view

The huge variety of options allows for people of many ages and capabilities to attempt a trek in the country.

Treks can be anywhere from just a day long to 20 days long. There are easy treks and difficult alpine climbing. There are treks where you’ll have porters and guides and then there are options where you just need a guide to come with you.

Despite what many may perceive, trekking in Nepal is not necessarily wandering alone through an uncharted wilderness.

Trekking through the countryside 

As they walk along the well-marked trekking paths, travelers will often discover quite the opposite; hundreds of locals passing through each day as they haul food, water, and other odd necessities back to their tiny villages, along with dozens of fellow trekkers.

The regularly-spaced villages and tea-houses allow trekkers good opportunities to rest and recover, either for a few minutes or the night.

The strong culture and unreserved friendliness of the Nepalese people can also be witnessed as one traverses the hill tracks.

Best Time for Trekking in Nepal

The best seasons for trekking are the dry and warm seasons, March-June and September-November. During these times, the temperature is bearable and skies are usually clear, although the skies are foggier and the rain begins in May-June.

Note: It is possible to trek out of season, but expect lots of rain and leeches during the summer monsoon season and severe cold and closed passes during the winter months.

Experience and Fitness Level

Trekking independently

As we have mentioned above, there are treks suitable for a wide range of experience and physical fitness.

An easy trek with Nepali support (guide and porter) and tea-house accommodation is quite attainable for anyone who is “reasonably fit”.

Note: Reasonable fitness here means you can walk uphill for a few hours each day. Your backpack is the only thing you’ll carry yourself.

Longer treks, crossing high passes and into remote regions demand a higher degree of endurance. For summiting a mountain taller than 5000m, it is desirable to have some alpine climbing experience (because you may encounter snow and hard ice).

What Supplies to Carry

While trekking in Nepal, your needs will be simple. It is, therefore, best to carry only what you absolutely need and leave the rest behind.

View from Pokhara

Enjoy the scenery and savor the moment. Leave books, gadgets, toys, and fancy cameras. They all make your bag heavy. (If anything, perhaps carry a dairy and a pen).

You can buy or rent everything you need in the Thamel neighborhood of Kathmandu or in Pokhara.

Note: When it comes to shows it is best to use your own footwear that is already broken in. Because you will be walking hundreds of kilometers and a new or misfitting shoe can be quite painful on your feet.

The main essentials to bring are sturdy and comfortable hiking boots, a sleeping bag (depending on your accommodation), a daypack, a few changes of clothes for the varying temperatures, fleeces & down jackets, a water filter & bottle/cup and some essential medicines.

For cold weather, hiking pants, thermals, gloves, neck warmer or scarf, beanie, a warm inner jacket and a windproof and waterproof outer jacket are essential. For the more difficult treks involving mountaineering, crampons and ice axes may be required.

Note: Always carry a map and compass whenever you venture into the wilderness (anywhere in the world).

Other items to bring include a hiking stick or two, waterproof case, fabric bandages such as moleskin, a headlamp, water purification supplies, altitude sickness and other medication, a lightweight camera, and binoculars.

Note: On the popular trekking routes, everyday supplies, such as toilet paper, soap, chocolate bars, and even basic hiking supplies can be purchased along the way, though prices rise dramatically as you go higher in elevation. Try to stock up lower down and buy locally-produced products such as fruit, and biscuits.

You may see several Buddhist statues on your trek

Go Guided vs. Independent?

This is more of common sense or a subjective question than a technical one.

Whether to join an organized group, trek unguided with other independent travelers or to hire your own guide and/or porter is a personal decision based on the difficulty of the trek, your budget, capabilities, and prior experiences.

Note: Guided treks must be legally organized through TAAN registered trekking agencies in Kathmandu and Pokhara. No one else — no hotel, no street broker, no nice person you just met, not even a trekking guide — is legally authorized to organize a trek.

Going Guided

During the main seasons, there are many group treks, and it is generally easy to find a group doing the trek of your choice. Group treks can be the both small or mid-sized. You can shop around for one that fits your needs.

On a guided group trek, all the necessary trekking gear, food, fuel, and other goods are carried by the porters. The cook will prepare all the meals during the camping trek. Trekkers carry only a daypack, as required.

At night, tents for dining, sleeping and washing are provided and set up. Mattresses, sleeping bags, tables, and seating are arranged by staff. For large group treks, a chief guide is employed to pre-arrange and then to oversee the entire program.

A Sherpa (Assistant Guide) is also hired to lead the staff and assist the Sirdar (Chief guide). All land transportation, local permits, taxes, porter insurance, port dues, and entrance fees to National Parks or sites that are part of the trip are arranged by the agency.

Note: When signing up with an agency, you should speak with several and make detailed inquiries about the differences in service besides just the base cost. Having someone along who is experienced, professional, attentive, and can speak your language could be very important.

Annapurna Trail, Nepal

Tipping in Nepal

If you are employing the services of guides and porters, it is customary to present a tip to the head guide at the end of the trip. This will be divided up between the various people employed in your group.

Note: Like most tips, the amount will vary depending on the quality of services provided, but it could be between 5% and 10% of the total cost of your trek.

Going Independent

Independent trekking is quite easy in the main trekking areas. You can also team up with an experienced local person.

If hiring staff independently and without an agency, be mindful of your responsibilities to ensure that your guide is suitably equipped for the job and stays safe.

Note: Know that foreigners on a tourist visa are not legally allowed to hire any staff directly.

Donkeys are often used to haul supplies

Get the Required Permits

Police checkpoints are numerous and unavoidable and park officers can check your permits at any time, with a fine of double the normal cost if you are caught without the proper permits.

Note: Do not try to bribe officers or police personnel; it might get you in more trouble than you think. You must purchase conservation or national park entry and TIMS (Trekkers’ Information Management System) card.

TIMS card

The Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card is required for several treks in Nepal.

There are two types of TIMS cards:

  • Green (independent trekkers) – more expensive
  • Blue (trekkers in a guided tour) – less expensive

Individual TIMS (green cards) are obtainable only from Nepal Tourism Board offices in Kathmandu and Pokhara and from the Trekking Agents Association of Nepal office.

Note: Make sure that you bring the required insurance documentation, a photocopy of your passport, and passport-sized photographs when applying.

Treks in Annapurna, Khumbu, & Langtang

Treks in these areas only require national park entry tickets (prices vary per park) and a TIMS card, but do not require “special permits”.

Treks in Restricted Areas

Restricted areas such as Dolpo, Mustang, Manaslu, and Kanchenjunga require “trekking permits” (but not the TIMS card), which are obtainable only through trekking agents.

Trekking Mountain Peaks

There are 33 mountain peaks in Nepal of 5,650-6,500 m height classified as trekking peaks. Trekking Peaks require a qualified “climbing guide”, permits and deposits to cover camp waste disposal.

Climbing permits for these peaks can cost anywhere from $350 USD for one to four members to $500 USD.

Trekking Tips & Good Habits

  • Trek legally: If you trek independently, you are not allowed to take any staff by law. For this, you need a trekking agency authorized to employ staff for foreign trekkers. Do not hire staff or “independent guides” through hotels, unless they have a trekking agent license or offer this service through an affiliated trekking agent.
  • Please make sure you take all of your trash, including bottles and cans from goods consumed in restaurants, to the nearest truck-accessible road for the most proper disposal available. You may note pollution and lack of trash management in villages on treks—including trash-clogged rivers and mounds of discarded beer bottles. Nepal is struggling with its rapid development and hasn’t yet figured out how to dispose of its waste. Don’t contribute to the problem any more than necessary!
  • Filter your own water: Plastic water bottle use is increasing around the Himalayas. Try to use locally available water; you can use purification tablets, which are easily available, and most tablets make water drinkable within 30 minutes.
  • After your trek, you can donate your clothes to the porters’ clothing bank, which is managed by the KEEP association. This bank is in the Thamel neighborhood of Kathmandu and provides clothes to the trekking porters and their families.

Top Trekking Itineraries

The Himalayas in Nepal

The Great Himalayan Trail

The Great Himalayan Trail is a 1,700-km trek that connects all the main trekking areas. It is possible to make this trek with a coterie of very good guides, cooks, porters, equipment (including technical gear) and payment of many expensive fees.

The window for completing this trek is exceedingly short as snow closes the high passes for much of the year.

Annapurna Region Treks

Annapurna

The Annapurna Region, north of the middle hills city and the trekking base city of Pokhara, includes Annapurna I, the 10th tallest mountain in the world at 8,091 m above sea level, as well as thirteen additional peaks over 7,000 m and 16 more peaks over 6,000 m.

All of these treks offer amazing views of this mountain range.

  • Annapurna Circuit (18-21 days) – circling the Annapurna Mountains
  • Annapurna Sanctuary (14 days) – an oval-shaped plateau 40 km north of Pokhara, at 4,000 m above sea level. Trek through the sanctuary to Annapurna Base Camp.
  • Annapurna Base Camp (7-10 days) – can be reached via various routes.
  • Poon Hill (3-5 days), at 3,210 m above sea level, northwest of Pokhara, is the most famous viewpoint in Western Nepal.
  • Jomsom Muktinath Trek (5-10 days) – treks to Jomson, a village on the other side of the Annapurna mountains that can also be reached by air, and Ghorepani, a village that is 2,750 m above sea level. This area is always very windy.
  • The Royal Trek (3-4 days) – an easy trek with excellent views of the mountains and local villages. The trek was made famous by Prince Charles.
  • Mardi Himal (5,587 m) (4-7 days) – a trek that offers amazing views at the summit of Mardi Himal.
  • Khopra/Khayer Lake Trek (7-14 days) – a sacred lake at 4,500 m asl, reachable via a moderate/strenuous hike.
  • Sikles Trek (4-7 days) – a camping and homestay-based trek through the villages and the Gurung settlement of Siklis.
  • Panchase Trek (3-5 days) – a popular easier trek with great views.
  • Kande to Australian Camp to Pothana to Dhampus to Phedi, or reverse (3-4 days) – an easy trek for those that do not want to try the more challenging treks. Spend a night in each location to enjoy the sunrise and the sunset.
  • Gurung Heritage Trek (5-7 days) – Hike through the villages of the Gurung ethnic group, known for being humble with a great sense of humor.
  • Upper Mustang Trek (12-16 days) – the former Kingdom of Lo that has a culture very similar to Tibet, has amazing Trans-Himalayan scenery although it is a difficult trek because of high altitude, exposed terrain, and continual strong winds. This trek requires a restricted area permit of US$500 per 10 days, making it less favorable for budget travelers.
  • Naar-Phu Valley Trek (12-15 days) – a hidden Tibetan valley just north of the Annapurna Circuit.
  • Dolpa Trek (15-21 days) – Upper Dolpa is the remote Land of the Bon, almost as Tibetan as Nepali. Lower Dolpa is more accessible and can be reached by plane.
  • Manaslu Trek (14-21 days) – Manaslu is the 8th highest mountain in the world at 8,156 m above sea level. Hike unspoiled trails through remote villages and over the Larke pass at 5,135 m to circuit the mountain. You are required to have special permits and the services of a guide.

A Sherpa village on the way

Kathmandu Valley Region

  • Nagarkot (2 days) – offers a great spot for watching surrounding mountain ranges at sunrise or sunset from atop the hill.
  • The Kathmandu Valley Cultural Trekking Trail (5 days), includes treks to Nagarkot and Dhulikhel
  • Shivapuri Hiking Trek (5 days) displays the best of Nepal’s rural culture, biodiversity and stunning Himalayan views. Trekking routes to Nagarkot, Gosainkunda, Helambu and the Langtang National Park (see Langtang region).
  • Indigenous Peoples Trail – a cultural delight with marvelous viewpoints through the Ramechhap district, just east of Kathmandu

Langtang region

  • Helambu & Gosainkunda Trek – a short taxi ride from Thamel to the roadhead at Shivapuri leads to a trail through the middle-hills countryside of Helambu, either circuit around and return to Kathmandu or cross the pass to the sacred Gosainkunda lake (4,380 m), descend and then hike up the Langtang valley
  • Langtang Valley Trek – start in Shyaphru Besi (bus from Kathmandu) and hike up the Langtang valley beneath stunning mountains that form the border with Tibet. Reach Kyanjin Gompa (3,830 m), where you can decide to continue further, climb the peaks just above the village, or descend back.
  • Tamang Heritage Trail (5-7 days) – cultural trek to meet the Tamang people, as well as enjoying great scenery in the Langtang Himalayas.

Mount Everest region

Gokyo Lake, Mount Everest, Nepal

  • Everest Base Camp Trek and the ascent of Kalar Patar – Visit the Buddhist Tengboche monastery for the Mani Rimdu festival in November. Explore the Gokyo valley with its sacred lakes and stupendous views of four 8000-m peaks. Or a circuit of the region crossing the high passes or Cho La and Renjo La.

Namche bazaar sherpa village

  • Khumbu – Take the bus to Jiri or fly to Lukla then hike up to Namche Bazar, capital of the Sherpa lands at the foot of Everest.
  • Island Peak Trek (trekking peak) – takes in some of the most spectacular scenery in the Himalayas.
  • Mera Peak (trekking peak) – During the ascent of Mera Peak (6461 m), enjoy panoramic views of Mt. Everest (8,848 m), Cho-Oyu (8,201 m), Lhotse (8,516 m), Makalu (8,463 m), Kangchenjunga (8,586 m), Nuptse (7,855 m), and Chamlang (7,319 m).
  • Makalu Barun is the 5th highest mountain in the world. This trek gives the opportunity to see rhododendrons, orchids, snow leopards, red panda, musk deer, wild boar, wild yak, and Himalayan Thar.
  • Numbur Cheese Circuit (12-14 days)

Mount Everest Base Camp Trek

Chitwan Region

Chitwan National Park

  • Chitwan Chepang Hills Trail (from the Trishuli River to the Terai)

Far Eastern Nepal

  • Milke Daada Ridge (7 days) – Spectacular views at 3,500 m asl and a visit to the bazaar town of Chainpu.
  • Kanchenjunga (21 – 28 days) – The 3rd highest mountain in the world. It is in far-eastern Nepal on the border with Sikkim in India. Peak 5950 is a more doable trek along this mountain.

Mount Kanchenjunga

Far Western Nepal

  • Rara National Park (8 days) – a remote trek that is hard to get to. The mountain views are not as nice as some of the other treks, but the highlight of this trek is a view of Nepal’s largest lake
  • Humla and Mount Kailash (18 days) – a trek that includes entrance into Tibet.
  • Api and Saipal Himal (16 days) – a remote off the beaten track trek to the mountains of far-western Nepal
  • Khaptad National Park (7-10 days) – a remote trek to Khaptad National Park that stretches over four districts of Province No.7 namely, Bajhang, Bajura, Achham and Doti.

Hiking in the Himalayas

Where to Sleep

Tea houses (lodges) at settlements at various points on the trek offer dorm room accommodation and simple basic meals reflective of what the local people in the area eat.

Although many tea houses and hotels in the hills and mountains are reasonably comfortable, some may be dirty and rather basic.

Note: Bedrooms and dorm rooms will not be heated. Note that linens are not provided by the lodges, and nights can get very cold, so it makes sense to bring a sleeping bag even for teahouse treks.

A Himalayan village in Nepal

Camping can be conducted almost anywhere in the country. Camping treks can be fully organized and supported by a team of guides, cooks, and porters to accompany you.

Homestays in local villages can also be organized by your guide.

Safety Tips

Always carry a head torch or lamp, water, some food, and a mobile phone with helicopter evacuation number in case of emergencies.

Altitude sickness

Please read up extensively on Altitude sickness. Click the link to refer our page on acute mountain sickness (AMS). Be familiar with the symptoms and do not ignore them. Be sure to keep to a conservative ascent schedule and drink plenty of fluids.

If you or anyone in your party begins to experience symptoms of AMS, do not ascend any further, and if they do not improve, then descend to a lower altitude.

Note: Carry some Diamox (Acetazolamide) pills, which can be bought at local pharmacies in Nepal. Diamox forces the kidneys to excrete bicarbonate in the urine, therefore making the blood more acidic, which stimulates breathing, increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood. Diamox is not an immediate fix for acute mountain sickness; rather it speeds up part of the acclimatization process which in turn helps to relieve symptoms.

Drink More Water

One thing that is often overlooked is that your body requires large amounts of water at altitude to counteract sickness so be sure to drink more than you are used to.

Water Contamination

Buy antibiotics for stomach infections at a local pharmacy when in Kathmandu or Pokhara. Getting a med for bacterial and amoebic infections is recommended.

For drinking water, the best practice is to treat all water as being contaminated, especially water in the cities.

Please do not buy bottled water on the trek as there are no rubbish disposal systems on the trek. It is both less expensive and better for the environment to treat your own water.

The main two options for trekkers are to use the safe drinking water stations along the trek for a small fee or bring your own water purifiers.

Chlorination and iodine tablets are available in the main cities.

You can also use a filter with a ceramic cartridge or a UV treatment system such as a Steripen which should remove anything 1 micron in size or larger. You might want to combine two of these systems just to make sure you have made the water completely safe.

Note: Use treated water for brushing your teeth.

Get Rescue Insurance

Before the departure check that your travel insurance covers trekking activities and the conditions.

Note: Be aware that “some” insurance companies view even walking in the mountains as “mountaineering” and will not provide coverage. So you may have to shop around.

Most reputable trekking agencies will require proof of rescue insurance before you start on your trek. It would be very costly to pay a helicopter rescue at 5000 meters.

Trekking Solo in Nepal

Make sure you trek with other people—especially on side treks with unclear paths. If a problem occurs, it is much easier to get help if others are nearby.

Note: Many people have gone missing or died on treks.

If you do not have a trekking partner, then look for one in Kathmandu or Pokhara. It is usually easy to find other like-minded people with similar travel plans. But do not trust any strangers blindly. If in doubt, go for a guided tour.

12 Months, 12 Challenges: Happy New Year

Happy New Year! You have hit the reset button and you get to start fresh. Congratulations, you have made it to the new year, a new beginning in many ways.

This morning, on January 1st, Neha and I brainstormed and discussed how can we make this year a little different and more interesting than any of the previous years.

A New ‘New Year’

We didn’t want to do any new year’s resolutions this time. Like, lose another 10 pounds or travel to 6 new countries kinda common, boring, silly stuff.

This year, we wanted to do something fun and inspirational. Something that can be replicated by anyone and can be measured and therefore hold us accountable.

Read Next: 69 One Month Challenges That Will Make Your Life Better

 

12 Months, 12 Challenges

After drinking a gallon of water to flush all the alcohol from our system from the last night’s new year’s eve party, and peeing around 15 times, we were finally hit with a lightbulb moment.

We thought of how we can turn an ordinary year into a transformational year. Something that is both fun and motivational for our travel-addict community.

We had a nicely brewed cappuccino by the window while we enjoyed the sunny Boston afternoon. We discussed what challenges are practically doable by most people and beneficial to the doer even if they fail. We brainstormed and selected the following ideas.

Related: If you like challenges, you’ll love Our Ultimate Travel Bucket List

12 Challenges in 12 Months

  • One month without alcohol and soda
  • One month of being total Vegan
  • One month of sugar detox
  • One month of running 1 mile each day
  • One month of yoga every day
  • One month of social media detox
  • One month of caffeine detox
  • One month of eating only at home or home-cooked meal
  • One month of no Netflix and TV
  • One month of daily reading for at least 30 minutes
  • One month of daily mindfulness meditation for at least 20 minutes
  • One month of doing a random act of kindness

No soda, no alcohol, no caffeine

Monthly Challenges Breakdown

  • January – one month without alcohol and soda
  • February – one month of being total Vegan
  • March – one month of sugar detox
  • April – one month of running 1 mile each day
  • May – one month of yoga every day
  • June –  one month of social media detox
  • July – one month of caffeine detox
  • August – one month of eating only at home or home cooked meal
  • September – one month of no Netflix and TV
  • October – one month of daily reading for at least 30 minutes
  • November – one month of daily mindfulness meditation for at least 20 minutes
  • December – one month of doing a random act of kindness

Well, this is going to be both fun and tough.

That said, we want to encourage you to make your own list of challenges and play along with us.

A new day, a new start

Benefits of Monthly Challenges

Whether it’s writing a novel in 30 days or doing 30 days of yoga or 30 days of running or 30 days of detoxing, there is a good reason that 30 days challenges are getting popular. I believe:

  • Monthly challenges are a great way to instill new healthy habits
  • Anyone can commit to doing anything for 30 days
  • The 30 days duration is neither too long nor too short
  • A monthly schedule is easy to track and follow
  • These can be turned into fun group activities and can be viewed as games

Well, the clock is already ON. Let’s get started and motivate each other!

Challenge Your Friends

Please share your progress and lessons learned from each challenge on the social media of your choice or just comment below.

Please follow us on @The Art of Travel and @Fitness_Girl_Daily. We’ll be sharing our progress and our failures on Instagram stories.

Please tag us in your posts if you are planning to do any of the challenges above.

And, once again, a happy new year to you and yours from all of us at The Art of Travel family.

5 Best Underwater Adventures in the World

Life underwater is an entirely different realm of exquisite and out-of-this-world beauty. If you are fascinated by the vigor that colors bring, then underwater adventures should be on your bucket list.

I mean on top of everything on your bucket list! There is just no way you should miss an underwater adventure; it’s going to be like missing half your life for crying out loud!

Okay, I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic but it’s true. An underwater experience will change your perception of marine creatures and you may never be the same again.

The ocean is the topmost element we take for granted day by day but it’s funny that humans act this way because our Planet Earth is composed of 70% water.

Can you imagine an entirely different world living underneath us?

If you want to open your eyes to a magnificent underwater empire, check out these top 5 best underwater adventures in the world.

1. Swimming with Whale sharks in Cancun, Mexico

The whale sharks are one of the largest and most docile marine inhabitants that feed on planktons, krill, or anchovies. So there’s no need to fear these gentle giants.

Cancun is one of the best places to see free-roaming whale sharks because it’s known for the world’s second largest barrier reef. The best time to visit is between mid-June and August where the whale sharks elegantly glide in the water.

But please, keep your hands to yourself because they have a strict “NO TOUCHING” rule.

2. Scuba Dive at the Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Do you want to know an interesting fact? The Great Barrier Reef is the largest and healthiest coral reef in the world.

Because of its size, it’s can be seen in outer space! I don’t even have to mention all the various underwater creatures you’ll see, the abundance of 2,900 individual reefs and 300 coral cays says it all. You can expect a bio-diversified diving experience!

3. Cage Diving with Great White Sharks in Shark Alley, South Africa

South Africa is home to a number of great white sharks and ‘Shark Alley’ is one of the popular choices to encounter these ferocious creatures up-close through cage diving.

Take note that you don’t need scuba diving skills but the cage is submerged in the open sea with the great whites circling with curiosity, and It will seem like you can rub elbows (or fins) with these creatures because of the proximity!

The experience is just overwhelming!

4. Diving at the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park, Caribbean Sea

If you want a totally natural underwater experience with a touch of human creativity, then this is definitely for you. The park has 65 concrete sculptures that are bizarrely beautiful.

There are the ‘Vicissitudes’ where it features children holding hands, ‘The Lost Correspondent’ where a man is working on his typewriter, and so much more!

5. Atlantis Submarine Tour in Oahu, Hawaii

If you like to experience underwater adventure in the comfort of a submarine, tick this off your list! All you need to do is pick a spot near the windows and immerse in the beauty of Oahu’s brilliant underwater life!

Author Bio

Susan Brooks is a passionate blogger who loves to write about home designs, renewable energy innovations and more. She spends her free time hiking, swimming, camping and spending time with her family. She also blogs at  GeneratorLab which is a site filled with home energy tips and guides.

Visit All 419 US National Parks Points of Interest

The National Park Service manages 419 individual protected units in all 50 US States as well as in the District of Columbia and 14 US territories.

If you want to travel to all of them, it’ll most likely take you years (possibly decades) and can become a massive bucket list adventure.

United States Capitol, Washington DC

US National Parks Points of Interest

These 419 protected points of interest in the US National Park System is bucketed into over a dozen different categories. These are:

  • National Parks (61)
  • National Monuments (87)
  • National Historic Sites (77)
  • National Memorials (29)
  • National Battlefields, Parks & Sites (16)
  • National Military Parks (9)
  • National Historical Parks (52)
  • National Lakeshores (4)
  • National Parkways (4)
  • National Preserves & Reserves (21)
  • National Recreation Areas (18)
  • National Wild & Scenic Rivers & Riverways (15)
  • National Scenic Trails (3)
  • National Seashores (10)
  • Other Designations (12)

US National Parks

Arches

  1. Acadia National Park, Maine
  2. Arches National Park, Utah
  3. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
  4. Big Bend National Park, Texas
  5. Biscayne National Park, Florida
  6. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
  7. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
  8. Canyonlands National Park, Utah
  9. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
  10. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
  11. Channel Islands National Park, California
  12. Congaree National Park, South Carolina
  13. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
  14. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
  15. Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada
  16. Denali National Park, Alaska
  17. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
  18. Everglades National Park, Florida
  19. Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska
  20. Gateway Arch National Park, Missouri
  21. Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
  22. Glacier National Park, Montana
  23. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  24. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
  25. Great Basin National Park, Nevada
  26. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
  27. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
  28. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas
  29. Haleakalā National Park, Maui, Hawaii
  30. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
  31. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
  32. Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
  33. Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
  34. Joshua Tree National Park, California
  35. Katmai National Park, Alaska
  36. Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
  37. Kings Canyon National Park, California
  38. Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska
  39. Lake Clark National Park, Alaska
  40. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
  41. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
  42. Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
  43. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
  44. National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa
  45. North Cascades National Park, Washington
  46. Olympic National Park, Washington
  47. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
  48. Pinnacles National Park, California
  49. Redwood National Park, California
  50. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  51. Saguaro National Park, Arizona
  52. Sequoia National Park, California
  53. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  54. Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
  55. Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands
  56. Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
  57. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
  58. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska
  59. Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming
  60. Yosemite National Park, California
  61. Zion National Park, Utah

The Narrows, Zion

US National Monuments

African Burial Ground

  1. African Burial Ground National Monument, New York
  2. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Nebraska
  3. Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, Texas
  4. Aniakchak National Monument, Alaska
  5. Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico
  6. Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
  7. Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, District of Columbia
  8. Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, Alabama
  9. Booker T. Washington National Monument, Virginia
  10. Buck Island Reef National Monument, Virgin Islands
  11. Cabrillo National Monument, California
  12. Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona
  13. Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Alaska
  14. Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico
  15. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Arizona
  16. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, Florida
  17. Castle Clinton National Monument, New York
  18. Castle Mountains National Monument, California
  19. Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah
  20. César E. Chávez National Monument, California
  21. Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, Ohio
  22. Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona
  23. Colorado National Monument, Colorado
  24. Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho
  25. Devils Postpile National Monument, California
  26. Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
  27. Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado and Utah
  28. Effigy Mounds National Monument, Iowa
  29. El Malpais National Monument, New Mexico
  30. El Morro National Monument, New Mexico
  31. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Colorado
  32. Fort Frederica National Monument, Georgia
  33. Fort Matanzas National Monument, Florida
  34. Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Maryland
  35. Fort Monroe National Monument, Virginia
  36. Fort Pulaski National Monument, Georgia
  37. Fort Stanwix National Monument, New York
  38. Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina
  39. Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico
  40. Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming
  41. Freedom Riders National Monument, Alabama
  42. George Washington Birthplace National Monument, Virginia
  43. George Washington Carver National Monument, Missouri
  44. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, New Mexico
  45. Governors Island National Monument, New York
  46. Grand Portage National Monument, Minnesota
  47. Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Idaho
  48. Hohokam Pima National Monument, Arizona
  49. Homestead National Monument of America, Nebraska
  50. Honouliuli National Monument, Hawaii
  51. Hovenweep National Monument, Colorado, and Utah
  52. Jewel Cave National Monument, South Dakota
  53. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon
  54. Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine
  55. Lava Beds National Monument, California
  56. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
  57. Montezuma Castle National Monument, Arizona
  58. Muir Woods National Monument, California
  59. Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah
  60. Navajo National Monument, Arizona
  61. Ocmulgee National Monument, Georgia
  62. Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve, Oregon
  63. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona
  64. Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico
  65. Pipe Spring National Monument, Arizona
  66. Pipestone National Monument, Minnesota
  67. Poverty Point National Monument, Louisiana
  68. Pullman National Monument, Illinois
  69. Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah
  70. Reconstruction Era National Monument, South Carolina
  71. Russell Cave National Monument, Alabama
  72. Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument, New Mexico
  73. Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska
  74. Statue of Liberty National Monument, New Jersey and New York
  75. Stonewall National Monument, New York
  76. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona
  77. Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Utah
  78. Tonto National Monument, Arizona
  79. Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, Nevada
  80. Tuzigoot National Monument, Arizona
  81. Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument, Virgin Islands
  82. Waco Mammoth National Monument, Texas
  83. Walnut Canyon National Monument, Arizona
  84. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
  85. World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Alaska, California, and Hawaii
  86. Wupatki National Monument, Arizona
  87. Yucca House National Monument, Colorado

Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument

National Historic Sites

San Juan National Historic Site, Puerto Rico

  1. Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site, Pennsylvania
  2. Andersonville National Historic Site, Georgia
  3. Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Tennessee
  4. Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, Colorado
  5. Boston African American National Historic Site, Massachusetts
  6. Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, Kansas
  7. Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, North Carolina
  8. Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, District of Columbia
  9. Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, South Carolina
  10. Christiansted National Historic Site, Virgin Islands
  11. Clara Barton National Historic Site, Maryland
  12. Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, Pennsylvania
  13. Eisenhower National Historic Site, Pennsylvania
  14. Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, New York
  15. Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site, California
  16. First Ladies National Historic Site, Ohio
  17. Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, District of Columbia
  18. Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Arizona
  19. Fort Davis National Historic Site, Texas
  20. Fort Laramie National Historic Site, Wyoming
  21. Fort Larned National Historic Site, Kansas
  22. Fort Point National Historic Site, California
  23. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, North Carolina
  24. Fort Scott National Historic Site, Kansas
  25. Fort Smith National Historic Site, Arkansas, and Oklahoma
  26. Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, Montana and North Dakota
  27. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Washington
  28. Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, District of Columbia
  29. Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Massachusetts
  30. Friendship Hill National Historic Site, Pennsylvania
  31. Golden Spike National Historic Site, Utah
  32. Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Montana
  33. Hampton National Historic Site, Maryland
  34. Harry S Truman National Historic Site, Missouri
  35. Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, Iowa
  36. Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York
  37. Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Pennsylvania
  38. Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Arizona
  39. James A. Garfield National Historic Site, Ohio
  40. Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, Georgia
  41. John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site, Massachusetts
  42. John Muir National Historic Site, California
  43. Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, North Dakota
  44. Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Illinois
  45. Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, Arkansas
  46. Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters, Massachusetts
  47. Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, Virginia
  48. Manzanar National Historic Site, California
  49. Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, New York
  50. Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, District of Columbia
  51. Minidoka National Historic Site, Idaho
  52. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, South Dakota
  53. Nicodemus National Historic Site, Kansas
  54. Ninety-Six National Historic Site, South Carolina
  55. Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site, District of Columbia
  56. President Bill Clinton Birthplace Home, Arkansas
  57. Pu’ukoholā Heiau National Historic Site, Hawaii
  58. Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, New York
  59. Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, New Hampshire
  60. Saint Paul’s Church National Historic Site, New York
  61. Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Massachusetts
  62. San Juan National Historic Site, Puerto Rico
  63. Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, Colorado
  64. Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, Massachusetts
  65. Springfield Armory National Historic Site, Massachusetts
  66. Steamtown National Historic Site, Pennsylvania
  67. Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, New York
  68. Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, New York
  69. Thomas Stone National Historic Site, Maryland
  70. Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, Alabama
  71. Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, Alabama
  72. Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, Missouri
  73. Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, New York
  74. Washita Battlefield National Historic Site, Oklahoma
  75. Weir Farm National Historic Site, Connecticut
  76. Whitman Mission National Historic Site, Washington
  77. William Howard Taft National Historic Site, Ohio

Vanderbilt Mansion, New York (NHS)

National Memorials

  1. Arkansas Post National Memorial, Arkansas
  2. Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, Virginia
  3. Chamizal National Memorial, Texas
  4. Coronado National Memorial, Arizona
  5. De Soto National Memorial, Florida
  6. Federal Hall National Memorial, New York
  7. Flight 93 National Memorial, Pennsylvania
  8. Fort Caroline National Memorial, Florida
  9. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, District of Columbia
  10. General Grant National Memorial, New York
  11. Hamilton Grange National Memorial, New York
  12. Johnstown Flood National Memorial, Pennsylvania
  13. Korean War Veterans Memorial, District of Columbia
  14. Lincoln Boyhood Home National Memorial, Indiana
  15. Lincoln Memorial, District of Columbia
  16. Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the Potomac, District of Columbia
  17. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, District of Columbia
  18. Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
  19. Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, Ohio
  20. Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, California
  21. Roger Williams National Memorial, Rhode Island
  22. Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Pennsylvania
  23. Theodore Roosevelt Island, District of Columbia
  24. Thomas Jefferson Memorial, District of Columbia
  25. Vietnam Veterans Memorial, District of Columbia
  26. Washington Monument, District of Columbia
  27. World War I Memorial, District of Columbia
  28. World War II Memorial, District of Columbia
  29. Wright Brothers National Memorial, North Carolina

Abraham Lincoln Statue at Lincoln Memorial

National Battlefields, Parks & Sites

Big Hole National Battlefield, Montana

  1. Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland
  2. Big Hole National Battlefield, Montana
  3. Cowpens National Battlefield, South Carolina
  4. Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Kentucky, and Tennessee
  5. Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Pennsylvania
  6. Monocacy National Battlefield, Maryland
  7. Moores Creek National Battlefield, North Carolina
  8. Petersburg National Battlefield, Virginia
  9. Stones River National Battlefield, Tennessee
  10. Tupelo National Battlefield, Mississippi
  11. Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, Missouri
  12. Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Georgia
  13. Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia
  14. Richmond National Battlefield Park, Virginia
  15. River Raisin National Battlefield Park, Michigan
  16. Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site, Mississippi

National Military Parks

Chickamauga Battlefield

  1. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Georgia and Tennessee
  2. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park, Virginia
  3. Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania
  4. Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, North Carolina
  5. Horseshoe Bend National Military Park, Alabama
  6. Kings Mountain National Military Park, South Carolina
  7. Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas
  8. Shiloh National Military Park, Tennessee
  9. Vicksburg National Military Park, Louisiana and Mississippi

National Historical Parks

  1. Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park, Kentucky
  2. Adams National Historical Park, Massachusetts
  3. Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Virginia
  4. Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, Rhode Island
  5. Boston National Historical Park, Massachusetts
  6. Cane River Creole National Historical Park, Louisiana
  7. Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park, Virginia
  8. Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico
  9. Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, District of Columbia, Maryland, and West Virginia
  10. Colonial National Historical Park, Virginia
  11. Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia
  12. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, Ohio
  13. First State National Historical Park, Delaware
  14. George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, Indiana
  15. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia
  16. Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, New York
  17. Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, Maryland
  18. Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Ohio
  19. Independence National Historical Park, Pennsylvania
  20. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Louisiana
  21. Kalaupapa National Historical Park, Hawaii
  22. Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, Hawaii
  23. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Alaska, and Washington
  24. Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, Oregon and Washington
  25. Lowell National Historical Park, Massachusetts
  26. Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Texas
  27. Keweenaw National Historical Park, Michigan
  28. Manhattan Project National Historical Park, New Mexico, Tennessee, and Washington
  29. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, Vermont
  30. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, Georgia
  31. Minute Man National Historical Park, Massachusetts
  32. Morristown National Historical Park, New Jersey
  33. Natchez National Historical Park, Mississippi
  34. New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, Massachusetts
  35. New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, Louisiana
  36. Nez Perce National Historical Park, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington
  37. Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park, Texas
  38. Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, New Jersey
  39. Pecos National Historical Park, New Mexico
  40. Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, Hawaii
  41. Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, California
  42. Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve, Virgin Islands
  43. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Texas
  44. San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, California
  45. San Juan Island National Historical Park, Washington
  46. Saratoga National Historical Park, New York
  47. Sitka National Historical Park, Alaska
  48. Thomas Edison National Historical Park, New Jersey
  49. Tumacácori National Historical Park, Arizona
  50. Valley Forge National Historical Park, Pennsylvania
  51. War in the Pacific National Historical Park, Guam
  52. Women’s Rights National Historical Park, New York

Women’s Rights National Historical Park, NY

National Lakeshores

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

  1. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
  2. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana
  3. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
  4. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan

National Parkways

Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia
  2. George Washington Memorial Parkway, District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia
  3. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, Wyoming
  4. Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi

National Preserves & Reserves

  1. Aniakchak National Preserve, Alaska
  2. Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Alaska
  3. Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida
  4. Big Thicket National Preserve, Texas
  5. Craters of the Moon National Preserve, Idaho
  6. Denali National Preserve, Alaska
  7. Gates of the Arctic National Preserve, Alaska
  8. Glacier Bay National Preserve, Alaska
  9. Great Sand Dunes National Preserve, Colorado
  10. Katmai National Preserve, Alaska
  11. Lake Clark National Preserve, Alaska
  12. Little River Canyon National Preserve, Alabama
  13. Mojave National Preserve, California
  14. Noatak National Preserve, Alaska
  15. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Kansas
  16. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, Florida
  17. Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico
  18. Wrangell-St. Elias National Preserve, Alaska
  19. Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Alaska
  20. City of Rocks National Reserve, Idaho
  21. Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, Washington

National Recreation Areas

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California

  1. Amistad National Recreation Area, Texas
  2. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Montana and Wyoming
  3. Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, Massachusetts
  4. Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Georgia
  5. Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma
  6. Curecanti National Recreation Area, Colorado
  7. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, New Jersey and Pennsylvania
  8. Gateway National Recreation Area, New Jersey and New York
  9. Gauley River National Recreation Area, West Virginia
  10. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah
  11. Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California
  12. Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Washington
  13. Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona and Nevada
  14. Lake Meredith National Recreation Area, Texas
  15. Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, Washington
  16. Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Washington
  17. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California
  18. Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area, California

National Wild & Scenic Rivers & Riverways

Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, Texas

  1. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Kentucky and Tennessee
  2. Buffalo National River, Arkansas
  3. New River Gorge National River, West Virginia
  4. Mississippi National River and Recreation Areas, Minnesota
  5. Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri
  6. Alagnak Wild River, Alaska
  7. Bluestone National Scenic River, West Virginia
  8. Delaware National Scenic River, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania
  9. Great Egg Harbor National Scenic and Recreational River, New Jersey
  10. Missouri National Recreational River, Nebraska and South Dakota
  11. Niobrara National Scenic River, Nebraska
  12. Obed Wild and Scenic River, Tennessee
  13. Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River, Texas
  14. Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway, Minnesota and Wisconsin
  15. Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreation River, New York and Pennsylvania

National Scenic Trails

Appalachian Trail

  1. Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Maine to Georgia (13 states)
  2. Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail, Alabama, Mississippi, and, Tennessee
  3. Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia

National Seashores

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

  1. Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland and Virginia
  2. Canaveral National Seashore, Florida
  3. Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
  4. Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina
  5. Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina
  6. Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia
  7. Fire Island National Seashore, New York
  8. Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida and Mississippi
  9. Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
  10. Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Other Designations

Constitution Gardens, District of Columbia

  1. Catoctin Mountain Park, Maryland
  2. Constitution Gardens, District of Columbia
  3. Fort Washington Park, Maryland
  4. Greenbelt Park, Maryland
  5. National Capital Parks-East, District of Columbia
  6. National Mall and Memorial Parks, District of Columbia
  7. Piscataway Park, Maryland
  8. Prince William Forest Park, Virginia
  9. Rock Creek Park, District of Columbia
  10. White House, District of Columbia
  11. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Virginia
  12. Saint Croix Island International Historic Site, Maine

Cost of Travel

Only 118 of 417 park sites charge entrance fees. One can obtain a park entrance pass by visiting a park site that charges an entrance fee.

National Park Maps

You can view maps on specific park websites. You can also get a map from the national park services when you visit the park.

Camping in National Parks

For campground reservations, visit Recreation.gov. Not all parks participate in this service; many campgrounds are first come, first served.

For more information on specific camping and lodging services offered at the park(s) of your interest, please check specific park websites.

How do I reserve a tour in a park?

You can book some park tours through Recreation.gov. But note that not all parks participate in this reservation service. For more information on tours offered at a specific park, please see the park search.

Can I bring my pet to a national park?

Some national parks welcome pets—in developed areas, on many trails and campgrounds, and in some lodging facilities.

What do I need to know about driving off road in national parks?

Before you head out, check with the national parks that you intend to visit. In many national parks, off-road driving is illegal. Where off-road driving is allowed, the National Park Service regulates it.

15 National Parks Fun Facts

  • There are over 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures preserved within the 417 National Parks System.
  • Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska is the largest National Park in the country at 13.2 million acres of area.
  • Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania is the smallest national park unit at a mere 0.02 acres of area.
  • The Appalachian Trail is a 2,185 mile long public trail that traverses the scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains from Maine to Georgia.
  • The nation’s deepest cave is 1,593 ft deep in New Mexico at Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
  • Yellowstone National Park sits on top of a super volcano, one active volcano, thousands of petrified trees, and almost 300 waterfalls.
  • Yosemite National Park supports more than 400 species of vertebrates including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.
  • There are more than 2,000 documented arches in the Arches National Park, some as tall as up to 300 feet.
  • Acadia is the oldest park east of the Mississippi River and the first instance where the land was donated to the federal government.
  • Bryce Canyon has the largest collection of hoodoos–odd-shaped pillars of rock–in the world.
  • Crater Lake’s volcanic caldera is almost 6 miles in diameter and 3,900 feet deep.
  • Maui’s Haleakala, meaning “House of the Sun” in Hawaiian, is one of the world’s largest volcanic craters.
  • Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park two active volcanoes are within the bounds of this national park, Kilauea being the world’s most active.
  • Isle Royale National Park is the only national park in the United States that completely closes in the off-season. The park is typically closed November through mid-April due to extreme weather conditions. Also, Isle Royale has the most repeat visitors.
  • Mammoth Cave National Park is the world’s longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored.

Top 7 Countries You Must Travel If You Love Music

Visiting different countries around the globe and experiencing a rich culture, history, and music is always exciting. Music tells a lot about a culture. Exploring a place along with music is one of the best experiences in the world.

We have created a list of top 7 countries that you must visit if you are a music fan and love traveling.

Read Next: 5 Epic Art Festivals Around the Globe

Best Destinations For Music Lovers

Music is my life!

England

London Bridge, England

England is a country with an extraordinary music scene. The most famous music cities in England are Liverpool and London. Liverpool was home to the Beatles band. It is also often called the “pop capital of the world”.

Every year thousands of Beatles fans visit Liverpool during the international Beatles week. London also hosts some great music festivals, and it also has a lot of events for classical music fans.

United States

Coachella

In the United States, the music market is three times larger than any other country. And it is home to six of the ten highest-grossing music venues. Think about that for a moment.

Some of the cities that you must visit during your trip to America are:

 

The USA has something for everyone’s music tastes. It has music festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, Ultra, SXSW, and pitchfork music festival.

It also has events like the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. So, the USA is the place to visit for the best live corporate event band.

Lollapalooza

Germany

Germany is famous for its electronic music scene. Germany is host to some of the best music festivals.

Lollapalooza Berlin, MELT, Hurricane, Splash, Highfields, and MS Dockville are some of the most famous music festivals that you must attend if you are visiting Germany for your music vacation.

Cuba

Cuba has a very rich and interesting music culture and its city Havana is a place that should be on every music lovers bucket list. The Havana International Jazz festival is an event that every jazz fan has to experience.

Jazz festival

Brazil

Image credit – Rio Music Carnival

Among all their talents one thing that the Brazilians also know a thing or two about partying. The country has a beautiful culture and landscape and even more beautiful people. Rio is one of the must-visit cities if you are in Brazil.

Carnival, Rio, Brazil

Brazil hosts loads of music festivals every year some of which are TribalTech, Ultra Brazil, DGTL Sao Paulo, and of course the Rio Music Carnival.

Netherlands

DJ Armin Van Burren mesmerizing the crowd

The Dutch people are the leaders of electronic dance music. Many amazing and talented DJs including Tiesto and Armin Van Burren call the Netherlands their home. The capital of Netherlands, Amsterdam is a place that every music lover must visit.

The city is the best during the Amsterdam dance event in mid-October. The Amsterdam music festival is also held during this event where many DJs from all over the world perform. 

So, anyone who is a fan of electronic music should add visiting Netherlands and Amsterdam to their bucket list.

Belgium

Tomorrowland is one of the most famous electronic dance music festival held in Boom, Belgium. Starting in 2005, it has since become one of the world’s largest and most notable music festivals and now stretches over 2 weekends. It’s so popular that tickets usually sell out in minutes after opening.

Tomorrowland Electronic Music Festival

About the Author

Kristal Bean is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes wedding planner. In her free time, she homeschools, works out and loves to listen to live music. Check her blog Green Light Booking.

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15 Places To Go For The Best Northern Lights Experience

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis is a phenomenon that can be seen with the naked eye from late-August to mid-April when the sky turns dark around 6 PM to 6 AM. The colorful light display is highly visible in the Auroral Zone, which is between latitude 65 degrees and latitude 72 degrees.

Parts of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the British Isles, the Scandinavian Peninsula, and Russia are the best places to experience the Aurora Borealis.

Experiencing the dance of Northen Lights

Best Northern Lights View

In this post, we will provide you with the list of 15 best places from where you can experience one of the most sought-after bucket list worthy destinations to view the Northern Lights. Auroral displays can appear in many colors although as you’ll notice, pale green and light pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, blue, and violet can also be in the mix.

Fairbanks, Alaska

As the largest city in the interior region of Alaska, the city lights may distract you so you may want to go farther into the northeast to Chena Resort from where you can view the Aurora while relaxing in a hot spring. You do not need to be observant at all times because they provide an Aurora alarm service which alerts guests when the light show starts.

As seen from Beaver Creek Scenic River in Alaska

Murmansk, Russia

Located above the Arctic Circle in northwest Russia, be prepared because temperatures can drop to as low as -40 degrees Celsius in the Russian winter. This season also brings polar nights where the sun is constantly below the horizon. During this period, the sky will be completely dark, increasing your chances of viewing the Northern Lights.

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Yellowknife, Canada

Located in the northwest of Canada, Yellowknife is just 250 miles from the Arctic Circle. A half-hour drive will bring you to Aurora Village, a teepee campground where you can view the Northern Lights from the comfort of warm and cozy viewing chairs.

As seen in Yellowknife, Canada

Labrador, Canada

Found in the eastern part of Canada, the forbidding terrain and extreme climate keep the region pristine. The top of the ski trail at the Birch Brook Nordic Ski Club, located near central Labrador, will provide you with a view of the Northern Lights reflecting on vast snow-covered trails.

Yukon, Canada

You do not need to be on land to be able to view the Northern Lights. The partnership between Tourism Yukon, Air North, and the Yukon Astronomical Society now offers flights from Whitehorse, Yukon that specifically flies over the Auroral zone to allow viewers to see the Aurora from the air. You can now enjoy the beautiful northern lights from 36,000 feet above the Yukon.

As seen from Yukon Territory, Canada

Abisko National Park, Sweden

Surrounding mountains and prevailing winds create an atmospheric effect that clears the sky over this region found on the center of the Swedish Lapland. The cloudless winter night creates an excellent viewing condition of the sky along with the view of the mountains and alpine meadows.

Tromso, Norway

Located above the Arctic Circle, this city in northern Norway is a famous site for viewing the Northern Lights. You can make the viewing more special by boarding the Hurtigruten, the Norwegian coastal steamer, so you can view the Aurora in a fjord. Don’t worry if you fall asleep, the ship provides wake up calls when the Aurora is visible.

As seen from Norway

Svalbard, Norway

A remote archipelago located north of Norway known for glaciers and frozen tundra, the islands here have long, dark, cloudless nights with dry weather – ideal conditions for viewing the Northern Lights. Although you will find more polar bears than people, there will be no shortage of attractions, from dog-sledding to backcountry skiing.

 

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Luosto, Finland

Santa’s Hotel Aurora glass igloos provide visitors with a different experience as they view not just the Northern Lights, but the whole arctic scenery from inside a Lapland hut-styled room with glass roof and walls. Here you can view the Aurora from the comfort of a fully equipped hotel room just a few steps from the reception and other services.

As seen in Finland

Oulanka National Park, Finland

Located in the Lapland regions of Finland, Oulanka National Park is one of the best places to go to see beautiful scenery backdropped by the Northern Lights. Comprised of pine forests and river valleys, you can find various camping areas from where you can view the Aurora.

Another shot of the dancing Aurora from Finland

Kangerlussuaq, Greenland

A region close to the Arctic Circle, this town in western Greenland is the main air transport hub so getting here will be easier than the other locations. Having clear skies 300 days a year also makes this a prime location for viewing the Northern Lights.

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

The Northern Lights are visible from the whole of Iceland but you can improve the experience by viewing it from Thingvellir National Park, located in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which is a popular tourist destination because of its history and geology.

As seen from Iceland

Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

The largest national park in Britain, located in the Scottish Highlands, where you can perform daytime activities like skiing and hiking. Once night falls, one of the best places to view the Northern Lights is in Glenlivet Estate. Awarded a Dark Sky status, this location ensures that there are no artificial lights that prevent you from seeing the Aurora.

As seen in Scotland (Picture credit)

Isle of Skye, Scotland

The British Isles frequently have cloudy skies, but when the cloud cover breaks during the winter, the low light pollution paired with the breathtaking view of jagged mountain ranges, sea cliffs, pools, and moors makes for a beautiful scene backdropped by the Northern Lights.

On an Alaskan Crusie Ship

When you book a cruise ship going to Alaska during September, you would probably think that the highlight of the trip would be on one of the cruise shore excursions in the rugged outdoors, but you may be pleasantly surprised when the Northern Lights suddenly presents itself at sea.

Aurora Borealis

That’s it! These top 15 places offer unique perspective and view of the Northern Lights.

One tip in general: for those planning a visit to these areas, don’t make it a trip just for the Aurora Borealis because this phenomenon is elusive and you might be disappointed when you don’t see it. Clouds, weather, light pollution, time in hand, things that are not in your control can affect your viewing experience.

Having other activities planned will ensure that you will enjoy your trip whether you see the dancing Aurora Borealis or not.

Also, these aren’t the only places where you can view the Northern Lights. Sometimes, the Aurora presents itself in unexpected locations. So if you find yourself in the auroral zone in the evening, just face north, look up, and you just might get lucky.