Réunion: A Hidden Island

July 19th, 2011

One of the most interesting travel destinations in Africa, or even the world, is the island of Réunion.  Réunion is an absolutely tiny island – smaller than 1000 square miles – located off the eastern coast of Madagascar.  The island has belonged to France for hundreds of years and is designated as its own unique “overseas region.”  Réunion is a beautiful island with one extinct and one active volcano (which actually most recently erupted in January of 2010) and three calderas, essentially collapsed former volcanoes.  Calderas are notable in that most hot springs in the world are formed by being part of a caldera.  Réunion is also host to various species of animal and plant life that can be found in very few places in the rest of the world.

Réunion’s official and primary language is French, although English is present as well. Culturally, Réunion is extremely diverse and manages to blend French, African, Indian, and Chinese traditions and styles.  As a result, Réunion has a style of music (“Sega” music) that is unique to only a few similar islands in the world, and Réunion’s exact style is still unique from these other locations.  Réunion has many other unique cultural landmarks, such as an infamous church that stands closer to the active volcano of the island than any other building. In the larger eruptions since the church was built, lava flow has actually come within just a few feet of the church’s walls on multiple occasions, but it’s never actually damaged the building itself.

One of Réunion’s most fascinating features is its ecology. As mentioned above, Réunion has a diverse ecology with many creatures that cannot be found anywhere in the world.  Réunion additionally has an extremely tropical climate, and has actually set the world record for most measured rainfall over one day and over three days.  However, these periods of powerful rains are mainly constrained to the rainy season that begins in March, so it’s easy to plan around these downpours.

Réunion’s tourism industry is rapidly growing as people from the mainland of France, as well as visitors from all over the world, feel obliged to seek out and explore a new and diverse culture that’s almost unlike everything seen in the world today because of its unique cultural blends, blurring of modern lifestyles with traditional, rural jungle living, and willingness to attract new visitors to learn about its rich history.

To be guided, or to trailblaze? The pros and cons of a travel guide explained!

July 4th, 2011

When you’re traveling to some of Africa’s more historically exciting locales (most notably Egypt, although people don’t necessarily associate Egypt with Africa), there will often be a time where you and your travel partners must decide if you are going to use a travel guide for the entire trip.  Companies like EF Tours provide large, group tours that include travel to all parts of a country or point of interest as well as interesting cultural experiences, such as travel by train or boat instead of more conventional methods such as bus or plane.  Additionally, travel guides know exactly what they’re talking about, at least in terms of fulfilling the itinerary.  As far as I can tell, it seems to be completely random as to whether or not a travel guide has just memorized the spiel for each particular location or if they’re passionate scholars on the subject, but either way, the information presented in the tour itself will be interesting.


Another obvious benefit of a travel guide is safety.  While working with a travel guide, their company is essentially liable for you – if you were to be hurt while following a travel guide, your family could sue on your behalf because the company essentially led you into a dangerous area.  Obviously, travel companies would rather avoid these lawsuits, and they’ll do their best to make sure you only go to places where they feel confident they can maintain local security.  As a result, while you’re actually with your tour guide, you can be pretty sure that you’ll be safe, but don’t let this lull you into a false sense of security while you’re traveling.


These advantages of having a tour guide have to be weighed against the significant disadvantage of feeling like you’re tied to a schedule and a chaperone. This drives a lot of people completely crazy and they do everything they can to get away, while others feel like they don’t have to sweat the small stuff of their trip, so it’s a lot less stressful. Personally, I love me some unguided adventure, but I’m a lot more comfortable doing it on my own home turf, like for local trips. When traveling somewhere new, especially internationally, I’d rather sit back and let someone else show me the cultural hallmarks. I’m not afraid to admit I’m in unfamiliar territory, and to me, a travel guide is an easy way to learn the ropes.  Whatever your preference, though, just be sure to learn as much as you can about the culture and stay safe.

Save yourself the pain: Travel light!

June 29th, 2011

The ultimate in packing light can be found in many “survival kit in a ____” items online.  These include survival kits that fit in water bottles, tobacco tins, or even in film canisters. On an ordinary vacation, only taking a survival kit with you is a little silly, no matter how well equipped, but packing light and efficiently is always a good idea. Not only does it make it easier to carry luggage, but it’s harder to lose things when they’re always close at hand.


One of the most obvious things that should come to mind when packing efficiently, especially before a journey by plane, is to not take along any checked baggage.  While this seems at first extremely difficult, especially considering the miniscule amount of space airlines offer underneath a seat, it’s certainly not unreasonable.  You can fit a professional travel backpack under those seats, although it’s a tight fit.  From here, roll up all your clothes as best you can and put the heavier stuff in the bottom.  Toiletries can go on top, but remember that you can find travel size kits in the airport you arrive in and stock up there, as opposed to taking it all the way with you.


Another trick is to roll up underwear and putting them in an extra pair of shoes, if you’re bringing another pair along.  Finally, the actual number of clothes you should bring? Well, that varies.  Some people think that you should pack very lightly and try to buy clothes at your destination. This will help ensure you have seasonable clothes, but it might be tricky to bring them all back.  Personally, I figure it’s actually easier to pack while you’re at home and have time to think, so I like to pack old and ratty clothes (especially socks or undershirts) and throw them away when I’m done using them so I don’t have to worry as much about packing on the way home.


However you travel, it’s best to at least keep efficiency in mind so you have less luggage, weight, and responsibility.  If you can fit all of your things in a single carry-on backpack, good for you – you made your life a lot easier.  If not, don’t worry too much about it. At least you aren’t living out of a sardine can.

Amazing Africa Cruises 2011

April 12th, 2011
Africa Cruise

Africa Cruise

Africa, the most magnificent of all the world contestants and the homeland of the world really is a must see for anyone that has never graced its lands. With such a great diversity of cultures and of course the stunning and world renowned wildlife! The plantation is vast with a great deal of flora and fauna to deal with; the “Dark Continent” is truly an unforgettable place you have to experience. Many cruise ships will go there but from experience travelling on the Africa tours from great ships is the way to go, you will cruise down from North to South Africa in leisurely time giving you weeks to take in this wonderful and unique continent.

Africa has been the setting for romance as well as mystery for centuries. This incredible continent has drawn hunters, adventures explorers, missionaries, and thrill-seekers from across the world ever since man found a way to sail across the seas.

North Africa makes you think of resilient desert residing tribes, snake charmers, spices and great pyramids. Right at the other end is South Africa, a country that has a great wealth of different places to visit from hustle and bustle and buzzing night life of Cape Town with its beautiful mountain, to great tranquil areas to relax, in quaint little towns, and all sorts of sports, to Durban in KwaZulu-Natal with its year-round summer weather, fantastic waves and great vibe.

African cruises will take you down beautiful Suez Canal. You’ll get to see the splendid Ancient African Pyramids and relax on the long stretching beaches of the Indian Ocean islands. You should also visit one of the many different game parks throughout Africa to experience the really wild wildlife.

Kruger National Park; Then there is Tanzania with its numerous national wildlife parks where big game is as much part of the ground as the dirt; or visit the excitingly beautiful Kruger National Park in South Africa, home to a fantastic variety of big game, including lion, rhino and great African elephants, the ones with the Big Ears to keep cool in the beating African sun. Come and gaze at Table Bay at the top of one of South Africa’s most impressive natural assets, Table Mountain, or unwind at a pub in the lively Long Street while listening to some live music with the bands that play down there. Don’t forget to stop at the Cafe Royale in Long Street for a tasty gourmet burger and sweet potato fries. Trust me it will be the best burger you’ll ever eat!

I whole heatedly recommend taking the African cruise and cruising all the way from the UK down the whole of Africa from top to bottom to really understand and appreciate this wonderful continent. Hope to see you sipping a cool real lemonade or cocktail in the African sun soon.

One-Stop Destination for Travel Brochures

March 25th, 2011

Trees are turning green, the sun is peeking from behind the clouds, and days are growing longer. Summer planning is just round the corner. Whether you are dreaming of destinations for families or pining for romantic retreats, tourism brochures are a good place to start. Forget searching dusty displays. You can now order free travel guides online, and you get to choose everything you need from only 1 website.

Perhaps exotic vacations are out of the question this year, but there are likely many destinations inside a short drive from your house. In this case, arm yourself with travel leaflets and select a few places that
Interest you. Then plan day trips or short stays that fit your position. You might check out information about campgrounds and festivals close by. State Parks are also a good idea.

On the other hand, this may be the year to see the US or take the kids to Disney
World. While Internet sites are beneficial,
there’s nothing quite like families
sitting around the kitchen table taking a
look at printed visitors
guides together. Besides, if you’re like me, you’re probably in front of the computer twenty four
seven. Do you
need to sit in front of the same dusty screen at the end of the day
while you dream of a calming evening out with
the family? Potentially not, right?

leaflets are great method to have the
info you want to take on your trip without
wasting a large amount of toner from your
printer cartridge. If you wish nevertheless , they
might be downloaded to your
personal computer immediately – a
good option if you are in a hurry to receive them.

When it comes to holidays, travel brochures andvisitor’s guides are a practical addition to word-of mouth and web info. In a snap, you can easily gather recent information on old classics or find new locales you never imagined. Better yet, the guides can be quickly sent to your mailbox with no delivery charges ; And no credit card is required. Remember, though, that you can always download
further leaflets after you
get to your destination. If you order the right
travel leaflets or visitors guides, summer planning should be

A Guide To Your Holiday To Lanzarote

January 23rd, 2011

Being on a budget while you are on a holiday does not limit you to just sunbathing and strolling. In fact, there are several of activities that you could surely enjoy for a very low price if you just know where and how to spend your money. This is guaranteed for you to have an exciting holiday break despite the fact that they are just cheap. One of these destinations is Lanzarote Island which is located in the northeastern Canary group of islands. With the surprisingly increasing amount of travels and tourism offering cheap flights and accommodation, Lanzarote is a great option for a cheap holiday.

Different kinds of hotels can be found on the island, which really make an impact on how much you are spending. You could even save more if you would stay on a local apartment and you will also have a chance to taste their local delicacies. The same goes for food, you may want to consider self catering as it can often save you ample amount of money in the long run for you to spend them more on other activities. Another way to save money initially when you book is to go to a budget airline and see what they are offering on flights to Lanzarote.

Talking more about the accommodations in Lanzarote, it has a large number of holiday villas available on rural and urban areas. Villas are indeed a bit pricey. For those who still want greater privacy and a more local experience than a hotel could provide, Lanzarote also has many holiday apartments available for lease at a very reasonable price. A choice is also available here: in addition to resort-style complexes with all the usual facilities close at hand, there are also apartments in more local environments where you can soak up more of the real “island vacation” atmosphere.

If you are looking for a change from the beach or poolside you have many options available to you. One of what I would say to be the best attractions on the island is Timanfaya national park, where you can witness cold water being thrown down a newly dug hole erupt back seconds later in a flurry of steam. The temperatures in this volcano covered landscape reach up to 600°C just below the surface! In fact a very unique local restaurant “el Diablo” takes great benefit of the nature of the place by providing grills directly over the hole from the ground.

However, if you prefer swimming and would really love doing it then I would suggest the Playa Grande beach which is situated right in the centre of Puerto del Carmen. This beach resort is Lanzarote’s most lively resort for it has a great place for night party just inside the resort. This busy beach is over one kilometre long and has convenient shower and changing facilities. Along with their good amenities, they also offer pedalos and banana boat if you want a more exciting stay. If you are staying in the end of Puerto del Carmen closer to Matagorda and Los Pocillos, they also have a beach with lots of sun beds available to hire and wind-breakers to stop you getting sand blasted.

By: Jessica Nielson

How Do You Approach The Holidays?

November 23rd, 2010

I’ve struggled a bit with this article trying to put my thoughts into words. How do you talk about something that has so many sides to it like holidays? This time of year can be a lot of fun but it can also be filled with a lot of stress.

With the holidays fast approaching (I mean they are on us now) things start to really heat up and move quickly. If we’re not really careful we can get into “doing mode” and believe performance is all that really counts.

You know the get it done, keep going, and get more done, kind of things.

To help me with this article today, I went to dictionary.com to get a general definition of holiday:

1.    A day free from work that one may spend at pleasure, especially a day on which custom or the law dictates a halting
of general business activity to commemorate or celebrate a particular event.

2.    a religious feast day, a holy day.

3. Chiefly British, A vacation. Often used in the phrase on holiday.

It seems that the first two definitions are really appropriate for many of us during this time in Western Culture. There are a number of holidays celebrated during December that fall into the “day of leisure…a halting of general business activity to commemorate or celebrate a particular event” or that fall into the “holy day” category.

But I know that for me I need to be really careful or the actual day of the holiday is not so much a “day of leisure” as it is a “day of recovery” because I’ve been way out of balance getting to the day. Or maybe worse, it is a day filled with so much activity; celebratory meals, company, gifts, etc., that the day is a blur of activity rather than a day of enjoyment.

My new mantra “awareness is curative” helped us to feed 18 people Thanksgiving Day. And in addition we were able to enjoy everything that went into the day including the planning, buying and preparing. The trick was to fill each day with lots of STOPs to get a handle on where we were and check to see if things were on course.

If you’re not familiar with the notion of STOP it’s out of “The Inner Game of Work” by Tim Gallwey and it goes like this:

(S)tep back from the situation

(T)hink about what is going on

(O)rganize your thoughts (get in touch with you)

(P)roceed again (maybe slowly) in the chosen direction

These STOPs allowed both Tom and I to stay organized and to really plan the event from menu to market, to prep, to table and to serve. But it did something else for me that was much more important.

The STOPs allowed me to stay in touch with why I was doing the dinner and what my bigger goal was. When I started to be a bit agitated or worried over things the STOPs provided a wonderful way to check in with myself and keep on track both emotionally as well as functionally.

Here is another big piece…I walked away from work completely guilt free. The STOPs helped me stay on course to complete what was necessary in the office. That way I was completely free from my business obligations while preparing for the event.

So what does all this have to do with “awareness is curative?”

If I can stay on top of why I’m doing something and how it relates to my bigger purpose then I have all the internal
momentum I need to see things through. My desire is taking me through the steps rather than some outside sense of obligation.

And if my desire is pushing me forward it’s pretty easy to stay on track. Why? ‘Cause it’s my desire – in other words, I want to do it.

All of this is to say…give yourself permission to enjoy the time you take off from work. If you don’t get a project
completed before it’s time to switch gears, just leave yourself good notes so you can pick you where you left off and give yourself permission to leave it. (Those good notes will help a lot to leave the project plus you’ll love them when you come back!) Then you move into your holidays with plenty of time to accomplish your holiday goals.

Take a moment to reflect on where you are, what you’ve learned and where you’re headed. Remember this is a time for you to replenish. But in my opinion what is more important is that it is a wonderful time to celebrate your life; to celebrate the incredible miracle of you.

By: Jillian Middleton