Category Archives: Off the Grid

Off the grid is a minimalistic and self-sustained, community-driven lifestyle designed to help people function without the support of the government or corporate infrastructures, such as an electrical grid, telephone or internet network.

Unique Places: Iceland’s Pridrangar Lighthouse

Iceland’s Pridrangar lighthouse is often described as the most isolated lighthouse in the world. It is a historical and iconic landmark that has stood guard over the country’s rugged coastline for over a century.

Located on the western coast of Iceland, the Pridrangar lighthouse is an essential navigational aid for ships sailing in the treacherous waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Cover Photo by Richard Tanguy CCBY3.0

Located on Iceland’s rugged and beautiful coast, it is a must-see destination for anyone visiting this unique and fascinating country. Here are a few fun facts about this fascinating and beautiful lighthouse:

  1. The Pridrangar lighthouse was built in 1906 to help guide ships safely through the narrow and rocky waters off the coast of Iceland. It was the first lighthouse to be built in the country and was an important step in developing Iceland’s modern maritime infrastructure.
  2. The Thridrangar lighthouse is only accessible by helicopter. Also, it is actually uninhabitable. No one lives here.
  3. The Pridrangar lighthouse is located on a small island called Vigur, which is located off the coast of the town of Isafjordur. The island is home to a small population of birds, including puffins and other seabirds, and is a popular destination for birdwatchers.
  4. The Pridrangar lighthouse is powered by renewable energy sources, including solar panels and wind turbines. It is one of the first lighthouses in the world to be powered entirely by renewable energy and serves as a model for other lighthouses around the world.
  5. The Pridrangar lighthouse is known for its beautiful and distinctive design, which features a white stone tower with a red roof and a black-and-white striped pattern on the lower portion of the tower. The lighthouse is visible for many miles out to sea and is a well-known landmark for sailors navigating the treacherous waters of the North Atlantic.
  6. The Pridrangar lighthouse has played an important role in Iceland’s history and has been the site of many important events. In World War II, the lighthouse was used as a lookout station by the Icelandic Coast Guard and was also used as a radio station for ships sailing in the North Atlantic.
  7. Today, the Pridrangar lighthouse is a popular tourist attraction and is open to visitors during the summer months. Visitors can tour the lighthouse, learn about its history, and enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding coastline.

Overall, the Pridrangar lighthouse is a fascinating and historic landmark that is rich in history and beauty.

Wilderness Backpacking Tips for Beginners

Backpacking comes with tons of benefits to it, both mentally and physically. You’ll recharge your batteries, become relaxed, and you’ll regret not going for an outdoor adventure sooner. But, later is better than never, and you need to know a few basics beforehand. Going into the wild without any previous knowledge can easily turn into a disaster, but lucky for you, we’ll walk you through the basics of wilderness backpacking.

“Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.” — Antonio Machado

There are two generally distinct kinds of backpacking:

  • Wilderness backpacking — hiking in areas away from civilization, sleeping in tents or cabins
  • Urban backpacking — traveling from city to city, sleeping in hostels or other lodgings

In the rest of the blog, we’ll cover wilderness backpacking tips as a form of self-reliant travel that affords opportunities to see off-road sights available no other way.

Wilderness Backpacking Tips

We’ll remain beginner-friendly, tell you all about the equipment you’ll need and what and how to pack, and share some of the best backpacking meals and ideas with you to have enough energy to enjoy a great adventure!

The importance of having the right equipment

Once you decide to pursue your outdoor adventures, you need to be prepared to invest in some high-quality gear that will have multiple purposes and will also last you for at least several years. It’s no joke; gear can be pretty expensive. You’ll need a tent, sleeping bag, and comfy backpack if you’re looking for adventure. 

Your backpack should be big enough to fit all of your things inside. It would be best if you purchase one with foamy cushions on the shoulders and the back. That way, there will be fewer pressure points, and you’ll carry it around with ease.

Ideally, the backpack should have multiple compartments for better organization. You don’t want to look for the matches at the bottom of your backpack, right? 

If you plan to share your tent with people, you should definitely look for a bigger one, but if privacy is your priority, then a small tent will serve its purpose. You also get to pick your favorite color!

The sleeping bag also comes in different shapes and sizes, but what matters most is the filling product. There are sleeping bags with synthetic fill and ones with natural filling. Thanks to advanced tech, the later ones can be safely purchased by people with allergies!

Do not underestimate the trail

Sometimes, the trail can be closer to your home, and you’ll think that it’s going to be a quick journey.  You’ll pack lightly, grab a water bottle and one sweater, and be on your way. Well, that’s the biggest mistake you can make.

No matter how small the trail is, and no matter how close to civilization you are, you should always prepare beforehand. That’s the golden rule of all backpackers out there- never underestimate the trail.

Look for online testimonies, read about the trail, and ask people who’ve been there already. That is the best way you can learn all about it. Also, make sure to check if the trail is marked if there is a drinkable water source, and preferably, sleeping huts in case it gets cold during the night.

It would be best if you could take a quick look at it by driving around the area, especially if there is a road nearby.

Pack and dress accordingly

Depending on the season, and the kind of trail you choose, you need to pack accordingly. If it’s summer, you’ll have no need for an extra warm sweater, but you can forget all about that tank top you planned on wearing if it’s winter.

Depending on the terrain, you can opt for comfortable walking shoes or boots with thick soles that will protect your feet and ankles. Either way, you can ditch those oxfords that you find super cute. 

When you’re packing, put the tent, the sleeping bag, and the extra clothes at the very bottom or on top of the backpack. Secure them if necessary. In the smaller compartments of your backpack, you can store a power bank, flashlight, matches, or lighter, and a basic first aid kit.

Put your pocket knife in the smallest compartment; you never know when you might need it.

Food and water

It is one of the most important things to bring with you on your hike. Your backpack should have enough space to store water bottles and snacks. If you’re a whole group, you can split your stashes amongst each other to relieve some of the weight on your shoulders. You can even bring meat with you, set up a campfire, and have a friendly night filled with chat and laughter.

But if not, premade food is your friend here. Always look for food that is high in calories and full of nutrients. Forget all about the calorie count. You’ll be moving a lot, carrying a lot of weight, so you’ll be burning those calories in no time. You might even drop a pound or two in a matter of days.

The food that you’ll bring should contain carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fibers. Also, just when you think that you have enough water, put one extra bottle inside your backpack; you never know when you might need it.

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Nazca Lines in Peru: A Photo Gallery

Nazca is the capital of the Nazca Province located in the Ica District of the Ica region of Peru.

The Nazca Lines are a group of very large geoglyphs made in the soil of the Nazca Desert in southern Peru. They were created between 500 BC and 500 AD by people making depressions or shallow incisions in the desert floor, removing pebbles, and leaving differently colored dirt exposed.

For decades anthropologists, ethnologists, and archaeologists have studied the ancient Nazca culture to try to determine the purpose of the lines. In general, one common hypothesis is that the Nazca people created them to be seen by the deities in the sky.

The Nazca Lines were designated in 1994 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Most lines run straight across the landscape, but there are also figurative designs of animals and plants. The individual figurative geoglyph designs measure between 0.4 and 1.1 km (.2 and .7 mi) across.

The combined length of all the lines is over 1,300 km (800 mi), and the group cover an area of about 50 km2 (19 sq mi).

The lines are typically 4 to 6 inches deep. They were made by removing the top layer of reddish-brown iron oxide-coated pebbles to reveal a yellow-grey subsoil.

The width of the lines varies considerably, but over half are slightly over just over 1 foot wide. In some places they may be only 1 ft wide, and in others they could reach up to 6 feet wide.

Some of the Nazca lines form shapes that are best seen from the air, though they are also visible from the surrounding foothills. The shapes are usually made from one continuous line.

The figures vary in complexity. Hundreds are simple lines and geometric shapes; more than 70 are zoomorphic designs, including a hummingbird, spider, fish, condor, heron, monkey, lizard, dog, cat, and a giant human.

Other shapes include trees and flowers. Furthermore interesting to note, the largest lines are about 370 m long.

Because of its isolation and the dry, windless, stable climate of the plateau, the lines have mostly been preserved naturally for ages.

How To Get Here

The high, arid plateau stretches more than 80 km (50 mi) between the towns of Nazca and Palpa on the Pampas de Jumana, approximately 400 km (250 mi) south of Lima.

The main PE-1S Panamericana Sur runs parallel to it. The main concentration of designs is in a 6 mi by 2 mi rectangle, south of San Miguel de la Pascana hamlet. This is the region where most of the notable geoglyphs are visible.

Nazca People

A Nazca Female Figure (made of sperm whale tooth, shell and hair)

Although some local geoglyphs resemble Paracas glyphs, scholars believe the Nazca Lines were created by the Nazca culture.

Nazca society developed and flourished over 1500 years. Their history can be divided into four phases: the Proto Nazca (100 BC – 1 AD), the Early Nazca (1–450 AD), Middle Nazca (450–550 AD), and Late Nazca (550–750 AD).

Strongly influenced by the preceding Paracas culture, which was known for extremely complex textiles, the Nazca produced an array of crafts and technologies such as ceramics, textiles, and geoglyphs.

They are known for two extensive construction projects that would have required the coordination of large groups of laborers:

  1. Nazca Lines, immense designs in the desert whose purpose is unknown, and
  2. Puquios, underground aqueducts for providing water for irrigation and domestic purposes in the arid environment.

Note: Several dozen Puquios are still function today. Think about that! Talk about ancient engineering!

Palpas glyphs

The Paracas culture is considered by some historians to be the possible precursor that influenced the development of the Nazca Lines. In 2018, drones used by archaeologists revealed 25 geoglyphs in the Palpa province that are being assigned to the Paracas culture.

Many predate the associated Nazca lines by a thousand years.

Some demonstrate a significant difference in the subjects and locations, such as some being on hillsides.

Paracas Candelabra, Peru

Chinchas glyphs

Further north from the Nazca, Palpas region and along the Peruvian coast are other glyphs from the Chincha culture that have also been discovered.

The Fall of Nazca Civilization

From 500 AD, the civilization started to decline and by 750 AD the civilization had fallen completely. This is thought to have occurred when an El Niño triggered widespread and destructive flooding.

Evidence also suggests that the Nazca people may have exacerbated the effects of these floods by gradually cutting down Prosopis pallida trees to make room for maize and cotton agriculture.

These trees play an extremely important role as the ecological keystone of this landscape: in particular preventing river and wind erosion.

Gradual removal of trees would have exposed the landscape to the effects of climate perturbations such as El Niño, leading to erosion and leaving irrigation systems high and dry.

Times have changed 

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Camper Van: One of the Best Travel Investments

There are many ways to spice up your travels and ensure that you are getting everything out of them in terms of comfort and convenience. And with so many things to consider on the market, making the right choice can be admittedly a bit difficult.

In this blog, we will look at why we believe a Camper Van is one of the best travel investments you can make to improve the quality and comfort of your travels. If you haven’t thought about a van as an option yet, it’s definitely something worth looking at.

6 Benefits of Owning a Camper Van

If you are dreaming of hitting the open road, amid this coronavirus pandemic, then consider a camper van aka motorhome.

Balancing Comfort & Utility

Volkswagen Autosleeper Clubman GL

The best thing about a van is also the main reason for its existence – it combines comfort and utility, and balances them in a great way that gives you the best of both worlds. It’s hard to overstate how useful a van can be when you have a larger family to ride around with, or a lot of luggage to take with you.

And it can also be great for certain special situations, like when an emergency comes up that requires you to rest somewhere on short notice. All in all, a van can cover many of the important bases for traveling efficiently.

Note: Camper vans due ton their smaller size can be parked in your garage or driveway, which eliminates having any additional storage fee.

Affordable to Own

Photo (Dutch Camper Van) by Charles01 CCBYSA3.0

If you haven’t looked into camper vans yet, you may think that these beasts must cost a fortune. But you would be surprised to know that camper vans are affordable for most people who already owns cars, SUVs, or minivans.

Despite the extra space and additional features, the basic models aren’t much more expensive than a standard minivan. With gas prices at all time low and improved fuel utility, this means you’ll be able to hit the road without overspending on gas.

Note: Camper vans are more fuel efficient than larger RVs.

Easy Maintenance, Affordable Insurance

An Old Volkswagen Camper Van

On top of that, your typical van isn’t that difficult to maintain either. It doesn’t take a lot to keep it in a good condition compared to a regular car, and finding a good insurance quote should not be a problem if you look around.

For example, sites like Quotezone (UK) can provide you with a van insurance quote, but do make sure you’re looking for camper van insurance and not commercial vehicle insurance. While Quotezone is primarily aimed at car and van customers, it can be a great starting reference point for your future search.

Great for Couples and Friends

A Talbot AutoSleeper 1991 model

Imagine road-tripping with your significant other. Or, with your best friend. All without having to worry about having a fixed itinerary or hotel bookings. With a camper van or motorhome, you can make plans as you go. Not only this provides you the privacy and freedom, it is also adventurous.

Any Class B Camper Vans are completely self-contained, which means it makes them a popular choice for camp grounds. You  don’t have to worry about pitch a tent, use an outhouse, or cooking outdoors all while battling unpredictable weather or unfamiliar places.

Great for the Sociable Types

Photo (GMC Chevrolet G30) by Daniela Kloth under GNU1.2

Even if you don’t travel with a family, a van can still be a great investment into your trips that can make them much more comfortable and convenient. If you like getting together with new people, this is one of the best options you have, and you can even throw small parties in there from time to time.

Of course, it can be difficult to keep things clean with so many random people coming in and out, so consider that in advance as well. If you can handle that though, a van is definitely something that will be right up your alley.

Lastly, Safety

Photo (VW Classic Camper van) by Paul Palmer CCBY2.5

We can’t talk about anything that weighs over a ton and moves at such high speed with a metal body without considering safety. Safety is a huge priority for us and it should be all of us.

The good news is all newer models are built incredibly sturdy. Plus these days, you get powerful disc braking systems, parking sensors, backup cameras, etc. in almost all standard models, without paying anything in extra.

Conclusion

These factors and more should get you on the right track and should show you the benefits of investing in a good van.

If you’re still not convinced, just talk to some people who’re already using a van regularly, and get their input. You’ll definitely get many positive responses, and will learn a few more reasons for potentially giving this idea a go if you’re still on the fence about it.

Author Bio

Rosana Beechum is a freelance writer who loves to talk about all things lifestyle, including travel, fashion, money-saving hacks, and more. She’s traveled the world and contributes articles that offer practical advice and tried-and-tested tips.

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225 National Parks in Africa: List of National Parks

There are over 225 National Parks and popular Game Reserves on the African continent. National parks can be found in a large majority of African countries, being most numerous in Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Namibia, and South Africa.

Many of these parks are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. They can be visited for safaris and to see the African flora and fauna.

The mighty lion in Botswana

Some nations also have considerable areas designated as private parks, game reserves, forest reserves, marine reserves, national reserves, and natural parks.

We have selected the most popular Game Reserves to be included in this list of National Parks because we believe you should not skip them. They are equally as impressive as any National Parks on this list.

National Parks in Africa

Listing all countries alphabetically (A to Z).

Algeria

Sahara desert, Algeria

  • Alhaggar National Park
  • Belezma National Park
  • Chrea National Park
  • Djebel Aissa National Park
  • Djurdjura National Park
  • El Kala National Park
  • Gouraya National Park
  • Taza National Park
  • Theniet El Had National Park
  • Tlemcen National Park

Angola

Sunset in Angola

  • Bicauri National Park
  • Cameia National Park
  • Cangandala National Park
  • Iona National Park
  • Longa-Mavinga National Park
  • Luenge National Park
  • Luiana National Park
  • Mucusso National Park
  • Mupa National Park
  • Quiçama National Park

Benin

Antelope calf drinking mother’s milk, Benin

  • Pendjari National Park
  • W National Park — also called W of the Niger National Park spanning Niger, Benin & Burkina Faso

Botswana

A leopard in Okavango Delta in Moremi National Park, Botswana

  • Central Kalahari Game Reserve
  • Chobe National Park
  • Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
  • Makgadikgadi Pans National Park
  • Moremi National Park  in the heart of the Okavango Delta

Burkina Faso

Oryx Antelope (almost near extinction in the wild)

  • Arli National Park
  • Deux Balés National Park
  • Kaboré Tambi National Park formerly called Pô National Park
  • W National Park — also called W of the Niger National Park spanning Niger, Benin & Burkina Faso

Burundi

  • Kibira National Park
  • Risizi National Park
  • Rurubu National Park

Cameroon

Mount Cameroon, Africa

  • Bénoué National Park
  • Bouba Njida National Park
  • Boumba Bek National Park
  • Campo Ma’an National Park
  • Faro National Park
  • Korup National Park
  • Lobéké National Park
  • Nki National Park
  • Waza National Park

Cape Verde

Fogo volcano

  • Fogo National Park

Central African Republic

  • St. Floris National Park
  • André Félix National Park
  • Bamingui-Bangoran National Park
  • Dzanga-Ndoki National Park
  • Mbaéré Bodingué National Park

Chad

A Caravan in Chad’s Sahara

  • Aouk National Park
  • Goz Beïda National Park
  • Manda National Park
  • Zakouma National Park

Democratic Republic of the Congo

A chimpanzee in the wild

  • Garamba National Park
  • Virunga National Park
  • Kahuzi-Biéga National Park
  • Kundelungu National Park
  • Lomami National Park
  • Maiko National Park
  • Mangroves National Park
  • Salonga National Park (North and South sections)
  • Upemba National Park
  • Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Note: This is not a national park. This is a reserve with core protection and multi-use areas)

Republic of the Congo

A Mandrill Monkey in Congo

  • Conkouati-Douli National Park
  • Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park
  • Ntokou-Pikounda National Park
  • Odzala-Kokoua National Park
  • Ougoue Lekiti National Park

Côte d’Ivoire

  • Assagny National Park
  • Banco National Park
  • Comoé National Park
  • Îles Ehotilés National Park
  • Marahoué National Park
  • Mont Nimba National Park
  • Mont Péko National Park
  • Mont Sângbé National Park
  • Taï National Park

Djibouti

  • Day Forest National Park
  • Djibouti National Park
  • Yoboki National Park

Egypt

White Desert National Park, Egypt

  • Gabal Elba National Park
  • Lake Burullus Protectorate
  • Lake Qarun Protectorate
  • Nabq Protected Area
  • Ras Muhammad National Park
  • Saint Katherine Protectorate
  • Sannur Valley Cave Protectorate
  • Siwa Oasis
  • Taba Protected Area
  • Wadi Allaqi Biosphere Reserve
  • Wadi El Gamal National Park
  • Wadi El Rayan Protectorate
  • White Desert National Park

Equatorial Guinea

  • Monte Alen Park

Eritrea

Mountains in Eritrea

  • Dahlak Marine National Park
  • Semenawi Bahri National Park

Ethiopia

Simien Mountain Gelada, Ethiopia

  • Abijatta Shalla Lakes National Park
  • Awash National Park
  • Bale Mountains National Park
  • Mago National Park
  • Nechisar National Park
  • Omo National Park
  • Simien National Park — stunning mountain scenery and important wildlife populations in Ethiopia
  • Yangudi Rassa National Park

Kenya

Maasai Mara

  • Aberdare National Park
  • Amboseli National Park
  • Lake Nakuru National Park
  • Meru National Park
  • Mount Elgon National Park
  • Nairobi National Park
  • Samburu National Park
  • Sibiloi National Park
  • Tsavo National Park (East and West)
  • Maasai Mara Game Reserve (Note: not a National Park but the most popular destination in Kenya)

Gabon

A herd of African Buffalo

  • Akanda National Park
  • Batéké Plateau National Park
  • Birougou National Park
  • Crystal Mountains National Park
  • Ivindo National Park
  • Loango National Park
  • Lopé National Park
  • Mayumba National Park
  • Minkébé National Park
  • Moukalaba-Doudau National Park
  • Mwangné National Park
  • Pongara National Park
  • Waka National Park

Gambia

  • Abuko National Park
  • Bijilo National Park
  • Kiang West National Park
  • Niumi National Park
  • River Gambia National Park

Ghana

Life in Ghana, West Africa

  • Bia National Park
  • Bui National Park
  • Digya National Park
  • Kakum National Park
  • Kalakpa Game Production Reserve
  • Mole National Park
  • Nini-Suhien National Park

Guinea

  • Badiar National Park
  • Haut Niger National Park

Guinea-Bissau

  • Cacheu River National Park
  • João Vieira Marine Park
  • Orango Islands National Park

Lesotho

  • Sehlabathebe National Park — a remote mountain reserve great for hiking with rare wildlife, impressive waterfalls, and ancient rock paintings and stone shelters

Malawi

  • Lake Malawi National Park — pictured above
  • Kasungu National Park
  • Lengwe National Park
  • Liwonde National Park
  • Nyika National Park — a large highland national park in Malawi

Mozambique

A Nyala Antelope in Mozambique

  • Gorongosa National Park
  • Limpopo National Park

Namibia

Antelopes in a flowers meadow in Etosha National Park, Namibia

  • Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park including the Fish River Canyon Park
  • Bwabwata National Parkcomposed by ex “Caprivi Game Park” and ex “Mahango Game Reserve”
  • Etosha National Park — abundant wildlife in the “big white place”
  • Fish River Canyon Park the second largest canyon in the world
  • Khaudum National Park — maybe the most remote of all Namibian national parks, known for its tourist-terrorizing elephants
  • Mudumu National Park
  • Namib-Naukluft National Park — contains the famous Sossusvlei valley and the world’s highest dunes
  • Nkasa Lupala National Park
  • Skeleton Coast National Park
  • Waterberg Plateau Park — another good place to watch wildlife

Niger

  • W National Park — also called W of the Niger National Park spanning Niger, Benin & Burkina Faso

Nigeria

Zebra is common across sub-sharan Africa

  • Chad Basin National Park
  • Cross River National Park (Okavango and Oban sections)
  • Gashaka-Gumti National Park
  • Kainji National Park (Borgu and Zugurma sections)
  • Kamuku National Park
  • Okomu National Park
  • Old Oyo National Park
  • Yankari National Park

Rwanda

Rwanda is the best place in the world to see Silverback Gorillas

  • Akagera National Park
  • Volcanoes National Park — in Rwanda is full of impressive rainforest and volcanic scenery of the Virunga Mountains and is perhaps the best place in the world to see rare mountain gorillas. Across the border, in Uganda, it is known as Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.
  • Gishwati Forest
  • Nyungwe Forest National Park

São Tomé and Príncipe

  • Obo National Park

Senegal

  • Basse Casamance National Park
  • Isles des Madeleines National Park
  • Langue de Barbarie National Park
  • Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary
  • Niokolo-Koba National Park
  • Saloum Delta National Park

Seychelles

A beach in Seychelles

  • Curieuse Marine National Park
  • Morne Seychellois National Park
  • Praslin National Park
  • Ste. Anne Marine National Park

Sierra Leone

  • Gola Rainforest National Park
  • Outamba-Kilimi National Park
  • Western Area National Park

Somalia

  • Daallo Mountain
  • Hargeisa National Park
  • Hobyo grasslands and shrublands
  • Jilib National Park
  • Kismayo National Park
  • Lag Badana National Park

South Africa

A Yellow Billed Hornbill in the mountains of Pilanesberg in South Africa

  • Addo Elephant National Park
  • Agulhas National Park
  • Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
  • Augrabies Falls National Park
  • Bontebok National Park
  • Camdeboo National Park
  • Golden Gate Highlands National Park
  • Karoo National Park
  • Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
  • Knysna National Lake Area
  • Kruger National Park
  • Mapungubwe National Park
  • Marakele National Park
  • Mokala National Park
  • Mountain Zebra National Park
  • Namaqua National Park
  • Table Mountain National Park
  • Tankwa Karoo National Park
  • Tsitsikamma National Park
  • West Coast National Park
  • Wilderness National Park
  • Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park

South Sudan

  • Bandingilo National Park
  • Boma National Park
  • Nimule National Park
  • Southern National Park

Nile Crocodile in Sudan

Sudan

  • Dinder National Park
  • Lantoto National Park
  • Radom National Park
  • Suakin Archipelago National Park

Swaziland

  • Hlane Royal National Park known for its Rhinos

Tanzania

An Elephant Family in Serengeti, Tanzania

  • Arusha National Park
  • Gombe Stream National Park
  • Mount Kilimanjaro National Park
  • Lake Manyara National Park
  • Mahale Mountains
  • Mikumi National Park
  • Mkomazi Game Reserve
  • Ngorongoro Conservancy
  • Ruaha National Park
  • Rubondo Island National Park
  • Serengeti National Park — the biggest national park in Tanzania, perhaps the archetypal African game park; becomes the Maasai Mara National Reserve over the border in Kenya
  • Selous Game Reserve
  • Tarangire National Park — one of the best places in the world to see lions

Togo

  • Fazao-Malfakassa National Park
  • Fosse aux Lions National Park
  • Kéran National Park

Tunisia

  • Bou-Hedma National Park
  • Boukornine National Park
  • Chaambi National Park
  • El Feidja National Park
  • Ichkeul National Park
  • Jebil National Park
  • Sidi Toui National Park
  • Zembra and Zembretta Islands National Park

Uganda

A mountain Gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
  • Kabelaga National Park
  • Kidepo Valley National Park
  • Murchison Falls National Park
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park
  • Rwenzori National Park home of the almost mythical, otherworldly scenery of the Mountains of the Moon in Uganda

Zambia

  • Blue Lagoon National Park — very accessible
  • Kafue National Park — the largest national park of the country
  • Lavushi Manda National Park
  • Liuwa plains National Park
  • Lochinvar National Park — excellent for bird watching
  • Lower Zambezi National Park
  • Luambe National Park — used to be the president’s private game reserve, now pristine wilderness without mass tourism
  • Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park
  • Nsumbu National Park — used to be very popular in the 1970s but has declined in the last decades
  • North Luangwa National Park — one of Africa’s great safari destinations
  • Nyika National Park
  • South Luangwa National Park

Zimbabwe

  • Victoria Falls National Park — one of the world’s largest waterfalls (pictured above)
  • Gonarezhou National Park
  • Chimanimani National Park
  • Chizarira National Park
  • Hwange National Park
  • Kazuma Pan National Park
  • Mana Pools National Park
  • Matobo National Park
  • Matusadona National Park
  • Nyanga National Park
  • Zambezi National Park

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Henry David Thoreau On Travel and Being Present

Henry David Thoreau was an American essayist, poet, and philosopher. A leading transcendentalist, he is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings.

Below are some of Thoreau’s thoughts on travel and being present in time. We hope you’ll enjoy this selection just as much we enjoyed compiling it for you.

You Don’t Need Money to Travel

One [of my friend] says to me, “I wonder that you do not lay up money [but yet] you love to travel; you might take the cars and go to Fitchburg today and see the country.”

But I am wiser than that. I have learned that the swiftest traveller is he that goes afoot. I say to my friend, suppose we try who will get there first. The distance is 30 miles; the fare 90 cents. That is almost a day’s wages.

Well, I start now on foot, and get there before night; I have travelled at that rate by the week together. You will in the mean while have earned your fare, and arrive there some time tomorrow, or possibly this evening, if you are lucky enough to get a job in season.

Living Deliberately

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

On Wandering in the Wild

Life consists with wildness. The most alive is the wildest. Not yet subdued to man, its presence refreshes him. One who pressed forward incessantly and never rested from his labors, who grew fast and made infinite demands on life, would always find himself in a new country or wilderness, and surrounded by the raw material of life. He would be climbing over the prostrate stems of primitive forest trees.

I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil — to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.

Our Perception Changes

There is hardly anything that shows the short-sightedness or capriciousness of the imagination more than traveling does. With change of place we change our ideas; nay, our opinions and feelings. We can by an effort, indeed, transport ourselves to old and long-forgotten scenes, and then the picture of the mind revives again; but we forget those that we have just left.

It seems that we can think but of one place at a time. The canvas of the fancy is but of a certain extent, and if we paint one set of objects upon it, they immediately efface every other. We cannot enlarge our conceptions, we only shift our point of view.

The landscape bares its bosom to the enraptured eye; we take our fill of it, and seem as if we could form no other image of beauty or grandeur. We pass on, and think no more of it: the horizon that shuts it from our sight also blots it from our memory like a dream.

In traveling through a wild, barren country, I can form no idea of a woody and cultivated one. It appears to me that all the world must be barren, like what I see of it. In the country, we forget the town, and in town we despise the country.

The Pleasure of Traveling

I have all my life delighted in traveling, though I have never enjoyed that pleasure upon a large scale. Wood, water, wilderness itself had an inexpressible charm for me, and I had a dreamy way of going much farther than I intended, so that unconsciously my return was protracted, and my parents had sometimes serious cause of uneasiness.

On Taking Long Walks in Nature

It is true we are but faint-hearted crusaders, even the walkers, nowadays, who undertake no persevering, never-ending enterprises. Our expeditions are but tours, and come round again at evening to the old hearth-side from which we set out. Half the work is but retracing our steps.

We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return—prepared to send back our embalmed hearts only as relics to our desolate kingdoms.

If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again—if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk.

I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend 4 hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.

I, who cannot stay in my chamber for a single day without acquiring some rust, and when sometimes I have stolen forth for a walk at the eleventh hour of four o’clock in the afternoon, too late to redeem the day, when the shades of night were already beginning to be mingled with the daylight, have felt as if I had committed some sin to be atoned for,—I confess that I am astonished at the power of endurance, to say nothing of the moral insensibility, of my neighbors who confine themselves to shops and offices the whole day for weeks and months, ay, and years almost together.

The New World

Sir Francis Head, an English traveller and a Governor-General of Canada, tells us that:

“In both the northern and southern hemispheres of the New World, Nature has not only outlined her words on a larger scale, but has painted the whole picture with brighter and more costly colors than she used in delineating and in beautifying the Old World. The heavens of America appear infinitely higher, the sky is bluer, the air is fresher, the cold is intenser, the moon looks larger, the stars are brighter, the thunder is louder, the lightning is vivider, the wind is stronger, the rain is heavier, the mountains are higher, the rivers longer, the forests bigger, the plains broader.”

The Joy of Nothingness

Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time.

I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance.

I realized what the Orientals mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works. For the most part, I minded not how the hours went. The day advanced as if to light some work of mine; it was morning, and lo, now it is evening, and nothing memorable is accomplished.

The Cost of Anything

The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.

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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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10 Famous American Explorers Who Shaped The World

America remained hidden beneath the curtains of ignominious darkness, but later when explorers came, it was the happy ground for many.

There were and are many great American explorers who turned the tide of exploration in the Modern World.

ANN BANCROFT

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A girl who had a learning disability but did not give up, instead she became a risk-taker.

Born in Minnesota, and graduated from St Paul Academy and Summit School she eventually became a wilderness instructor. She was the only women to go on the International North Pole Expedition on sleds.

It was just the beginning of an exciting journey. She crossed both polar Ice caps- North and South, her obsession with The Poles did not diminish.

She conducted the first-ever all-female expedition to the South Pole. Other than being a feminist, she is also a staunch supporter of the LGBT Community.

DANIEL BOONE

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Explorers are those who dare to tread on the unholy ground. Daniel Boone – started a trade which gained popularity.

He went game hunting, then he sold the pelts in the fur market. Boone became the first American to settle west of Appalachian Mountains.

The route which he marked became the Wilderness Road- filled with attacks from Shawnee Tribes. Where Boone settled later became home to 20,0000 Americans, and it was Kentucky.

Boone had guts to trail through the paths that nobody ever touched, and in doing so, he discovered something worthy. He also founded the village Boonesborough in Kentucky after himself.

RICHARD MOHUN

Born in Washington D.C, Mohun became a commercial agent for U. S in Congo and Angola. During his work as a commercial agent, he led a campaign against the Arabian slaves. He subsequently became counsel to Zanzibar.

His three-year posting here made him middle-man between rivals in the Anglo- Zanzibar war. Seeing his dedication, the Belgian Government gave him an assignment which he happily accepted.

He had to layout a telegraph line from Lake Tanganyika to Wadelai on the White Nile. His ship- Sir Harry Johnson took him from Zanzibar to Africa.

On their way, his crew faced a lot of problems- from cannibals to laying the long transmission lines. It took him three years to do so, and he was the only one standing alive at the end of the expedition.

FREDERICK COOK

Despite the reputation of a Failed Explorer Frederick Cook has some wins under his belts. His clash with Robert Peary did not help his image. And whatever he claimed to achieve, got denied by Peary.

When Cook claimed that he reached the North Pole on April 21, 1908, a year before Robert Peary, his accounts were not trustworthy. His claim of climbing the Mt. Denali is also denied, the picture which portrays the Fake Peak- is the photo of a small peak 19 miles away from Mt. Denali.

But after all the denials there is one truth that proves Frederick Cook did go in an expedition to the North Pole but whether he reached is a big question mark. He discovered the first and only American Arctic Island- Meighen Island.

WILLIAM CLARK

Clark- a native of Virginia joined Military and took part in the Northwest Indian War. But at the age of 26, he retired because of his poor health. After six years in Mulberry Hill, Louisville he, Meriwether Lewis recruited William for Corps of Discovery.

The mission of this expedition was to establish trade with Native Americans, explore the territory of Louisiana, find a waterway from the US to the Pacific Ocean. In the Pacific, Coast Clark became the tough slave owner, but the indigenous people respected him.

SACAGAWEA

 

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Sacagawea was the lone woman in the team of Lewis and Clark Expedition. Born as Shoshone, she got kidnapped at the age of 12. She was the slave wife of the Toussaint Charbonneau who accompanied Lewis and Clark. Sacagawea knew how to speak Shoshone. Hence Lewis and Clark thought it was a good idea to hire Charbonneau as his wife speaks Shoshone.

When they headed for the expedition from the port, Sacagawea was pregnant. Both Clark and Lewis nick-named her baby Pompy. She was the lady who guided Lewis and Clark through every basin, mountain pass and gave them the optimal route.

KIT CARSON

A vagabond in nature, he truly outdid any other explorer of his time. Carson came from a humble family in rural Missouri. At the age of 16, he went to become a mountain man.

Later, after accompanying Ewin Young in his Mexican California Expedition, he became a fur trapper.

His marriage in the Rocky Mountains was to Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes.The next ten years passed in a flash when he guided John C. Fremont through California, Oregon, and Great Basin area, giving us the Oregon Trail.

ROBERT EDWIN PEARY

While Cook’s claim of reaching the North Pole is fraud, Peary’s claim became null in 1913. After careful evaluation of his accounts, we know that he never really reached the North Pole. He was just 60 miles away from it.

Though his desire remained unfulfilled, he took eight expeditions to the North Pole. His every attempt was to get closer to the North Pole.

His first expedition in 1886 was to Greenland, he decided to travel solo using a sled, but a Danish Official Maigaard convinced that it is suicide to visit the North Pole alone. 1891 to 1909 – he took four expeditions, of which last two were solely to reach the North Pole.

GEORGE ROGERS CLARK

He worked for the militia in the American Revolutionary War and made valuable contributions by capturing – Vincennes and Kaskaskia.

This led to the British ceding the power of North West. He also led the opening engagements of Northwest Indian War.

There were accusations against him drinking while on duty, which forced him to resign. In later years he led the Lewis and Clark expedition through the Pacific Coast.

His knowledge of the west’s natural history gained him many students like John Pope and John James Audurbon.

DONALD BAXTER MACMILLAN

Born in Massachusetts, Macmillan became a world-class explorer of the Arctic. He studied geology at Bowdoin College. And he went on his first expedition with none other than Robert Peary. After than explorations became a daily thing for him.

In his 46 year career, he went on 30 expeditions. He was the first to introduce the use of radios, electricity, and plane in Arctic.

And he also studied flora and fauna of the Arctic, bringing back with him samples and photos of the Arctic scenery. He took his last expedition when he was 82, and he died thirteen years after that.

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.

4 Great Places for Camping in the USA

Getting your pants dusty, wandering in the beautiful woods with nature all around, star-gazing, enjoying the warmth of a campfire and returning to your tent in the end for a peaceful sleep, that is what camping is all about.

It is about waking up to the sounds of the birds chirping around and the morning breeze. Camping helps the mind and body to relax and breathe in the fresh air.

I have made a list of a few places that are the best spots for pitching your tents and having the camping experience of your life. You will get to know the most amazing features of each natural utopia, the cost of the trip and the perfect time to visit. So, what are you waiting for?

Continue reading to discover the campsite of your dreams, then gear up and take a few friends for a perfect escape from the busiest routine life.

White Mountain National Forest

If a rustic trip in the Northeast is what you are looking for, you must head towards the White Mountains in New Hampshire. It can be ultimately exciting for hiking enthusiasts because these mountains give a real rugged challenge. The best time to visit is in the fall because the sight of the red, yellow and coral shades that spread all around is utterly stunning to the eyes.

The forest has 24 campgrounds in total with developed campsites that require reservations. There are also places for setting up tents and some log lean-tos spread throughout the place that may require a small fee as well.

You can get the per day pass to the park for about $3 whereas the passes for a week are $5. Rates for campsites vary from $18 to $24 for a night, while tent camping is free.

 Shenandoah National Park, Virginia 

If you are a reader who resides in the D.C. area, get ready for the most beautiful experience of your life. A lush green destiny that is just a few miles away waits for you. The park has the most splendid waterfalls and peaceful backwoods with trails that extend 500 miles. Shenandoah (in Virginia) also offers a great hike to Old Rag Mountain, which is the toughest, yet worth it because of the unforgettably remarkable view you get from its peak.

The best part is it welcomes you all year around. However, there are a few sections of the road that are closed due to rough weather conditions and deer hunting season. In particular, March to November are the best times of the year to visit this park.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve, New York 

If you love nature and outdoor sports, the Minnewaska Park Preserve in Upstate New York is a perfect spot for you. The park is surrounded by magnificent rocky terrain that offers a great deal of adventures. The footpaths extend 50 miles where you can bike, explore, hike or just enjoy every bit of nature. This park is filled with waterfalls, beautiful rock formations, crystal clear lakes, thick backwoods, sharp cliffs and breathtakingly stunning sights. Plus, it makes a perfect spot for rock climbing for the pros. In a nutshell, the list of the activities it offers is just about endless.

You can pack and go camping there anytime between May and November if the weather allows. If you become a member, you only need to pay $24, whereas, everyone else must pay around $38.

Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland 

Those who love to spend quality time at beaches, living in tents and having bonfires on the sand, Assateague Island in Maryland makes their dream come true. It is an island with not only beaches but also thick forests and coastal harbors. You can even find a community of horses there which makes the whole experience a more exotic one. It is open all year round with a $30/night campsite fee.

Author’s Bio

Shawn Michaels is a blogger who loves to write about his outdoor experiences. He is also a passionate rock climber and loves traveling. Currently, he is studying and spends his free time reading reviews and gear shopping! He regularly blogs at Thesmartlad.com. Also, check out his article on the best waterproof boots that can assist you in your outdoor adventures.

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Mystery: Why Planes Don’t Fly Over Tibet?

Blessed are curious for they will find answers to the mysteries. Many questions pop into our head from time to time. Many unsolved mysteries spark interest in our minds. And I can’t rest till I find the answer to it.

Tibet is the land of a series of world’s highest mountains, and you would be surprised that no planes fly over Tibet. What is the reason behind dodging Tibet for flight routes?

Why Planes Don’t Fly Over Tibet

Aerial View of Tibetan Plateau

Before we delve into the reasons, let us look into a few interesting facts about Tibet.

Facts About Tiber

Tibet is an autonomous region of China. It is in the southwest part of China, and it shares borders with India on the West, Nepal on the Southwest, Burma, and Bhutan on the southeast.

Tibetan Plateau is the highest one in the world, and it is home to the Great Himalayas. Mountains like Everest (8850 m), Kangchenjunga (8586 m), Mount Kailash (6638 m), Makalu (8481 m), Cho Oyu (8201 m) stand high in the Tibetan land. The average height of this mountain ranges is 8000 m or 26000 ft.

Tibet has one international airport, one is Lhasa Gonggar Airport, the other airport Ngari Gunsa Airport is a dual-use military airport. The Lhasa Gonggar Airport is 62 km away from Lhasa the capital city of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

And the average elevation of this area is 3650m. You need to wait patiently till your breathing pattern adjusts to the height slowly.

These facts help you understand why planes choose not to fly over Tibet.

The Elevation of Tibet

With a series of world’s highest mountains, the highest being Everest at 8850m (29035 ft)- It becomes a giant huddle for the planes. The highest cruising altitude that is allowed to commercial planes is 28- 35,000 ft (8000 m). And as you can see the elevation of Himalayan mountain ranges is around 30000 ft, the aircraft generally do not fly over the Himalayan ranges.

You must know that there are layers of the atmosphere. That is the next reason of why planes do not fly over Tibet.

Air Turbulence in the Layers

We all know that there are four layers of the atmosphere. And the closest one to the Earth is the Troposphere which continues from ground level to 7 miles above the ground level. The Himalayas are at the height of 5.5 Miles. They are at a point in the Atmosphere where one layer gives in to the other.

The Troposphere changes to Stratosphere. Most planes fly in the upper boundary of the troposphere. And flying in the lower layer of Stratosphere is only advised if you have enough supply of oxygen.

As the height of atmosphere increases, the air thins. It means that the volume of oxygen in the air decreases as we move above. And with an increase in height, there is also increase in air pressure. That results in air turbulence and disturbances.

If there would be no mountain ranges, then the pressure of winds at such a height would be easier to deal with. But the mountain ranges make it harder for the planes to deal with Turbulence at the lower layer of Stratosphere (where there is already less oxygen and water vapor).

Avoiding Risk of Drift Down Procedure

Most of the planes have a capacity to fly higher than 20,000 ft. But most of the airliners have only 20 Minutes of passenger oxygen. And according to Aviation rules, a flight must descend to 10,000 ft before running out of passenger oxygen.

With the wide expanse of mountain ranges in Tibet, at a height of 28,000-30,000 ft, it becomes difficult for pilots to bring down the planes to a height of 10,000 ft early enough. Even though any pilot pulls off this trick, he will land with an oxygen deprived blue colored passengers. The airliners do not want this kind of fuss, so maybe they avoid flying over Tibet.

Airport Hopping

Airplanes follow a geodesic curve while flying. Geodesic means the shortest distance between points in terms of constant velocity. If there is an airport where you have to reach, and your plane hops at one airport on the way, there is also an airport nearby with the same distance from your destination (in the case of emergency).

All plane routes are planned according to this geodesic curve. But Tibet lacks airports. As we mentioned earlier, there are only two airports in Tibet, which are at 1357 km from each other.

It is not a mystery that Planes do not fly over Tibet, But it is the scientific reasons which make it impossible to fly over Tibet.

 

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