Bali: Your Trip to Paradise

beach and Pura Batu Bolong temple Nusa Dua, Bali.jpg

Pura Batu Bolong Temple – Nusa Dua, Bali

When it’s time to think about a warm winter getaway, time to think Bali. The popular tour company, World Spree, is offering an 11-day Exotic Bali package for only $1,899 from New York or San Francisco ($200 more from Los Angeles) that includes round-trip air on China Airlines, taxes, fuel surcharges, fabulous hotels, daily breakfast, five other meals, all ground transportation, sightseeing tours and a professional English-speaking guide.  And $1,899 is probably less than you’d spend to go to the  same old Caribbean or Hawaii.

Why Bali?

borobudur-night

Borobudur by Night

Bali is a chance to experience a totally different culture, while also enjoying a sun-splashed beach vacation. The trip starts with five nights in Bali’s cultural capital, the picturesque hill town of Ubud, full of color and chaos, artists’ studios, handicrafts shops and garden restaurants. Here, you’ll stay in the stylish boutique resort Alaya Ubud, which is surrounded by emerald green rice paddies but within walking distance of downtown. Its elegant Balinese-style rooms are complemented by a spa, swimming pool and restaurant.

Bat cave (Goa Lawah), Bali, Indonesia.jpg

Bat Cave (Goa Lawah)

Balinese Hinduism, the predominant religion, shapes much of the island’s life and culture.  There are thousands of temples and shrines and colorful religious ceremonies can be seen regularly.  You’ll visit a temple fed by local springs and have the chance to take part in a traditional purification ceremony, and visit a Monkey Forest that’s home to three holy monkey temples. Just remember, they’re wild monkeys and not afraid of humans, so keep an eye out as they can get frisky! Other excursions include a famous coffee plantation,  the Mother Temple , lunch on the edge of a volcano caldera with a breathtaking view of Lake Batur, and a  special day in a village where you will be warmly welcomed by the locals.

Beach Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia.jpg

Beach Nusa Dua

Then comes the totally relaxing part of the vacation: four nights at  the luxurious Melia Bali Resort in Nusa Dua, famous for its glorious white sandy beaches lapped by warm shallow waters and surrounded by lush green foliage.  There are tons of possibilities here (a safari, ocean rafting, a catamaran cruise, shopping in Kuta, a traditional fire dance) or just soaking up the sun and enjoying the serenity of this exotic  beachfront resort that overlooks a reef-fringed lagoon , exhuberant tropical gardens and a swimming pool that winds through the grounds.

Beach chairs on perfect tropical white sand beach Bali.jpg

Beach chairs on a perfect tropical white sand beach… sigh

Two post-trip options are offered on the way home: a 4-day Stopover in cosmopolitan Singapore, with its exciting cuisine and great shopping ($599 per person) or a 3-day Stopover in Taiwan, which has wonderful Chinese food and a world-class museum ($220 per person). All prices quoted are per person, double occupancy, and are subject to availability.  There is no additional charge for credit cards. 

www.worldspree.com

 

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8 “Bro-Cations” for Adventurous Guys

Guys Fishing Trips Ponoi River

Check out the size of this catch on the Ponoi River in the Russian Arctic (c) Frontiers Travel

With golf’s popularity steadily in decline (although my colleague would disagree as he’s single handedly keeping it alive) and saloons & barber shops no longer the male refuge of choice (for shame!!), many guys are turning to adventure travel to bond with their buddies. A growing number of men are participating in “Bro-Cations” that are all about bonding, unwinding, and pushing the limits through engaging and sometimes extreme activities. Gone are the days of sipping umbrella drinks and lounging by the pool. So, check out some of our favorite “Bro-Cations” for adventurous guys.

8 “Bro-Cations” for Adventurous Guys

amazing guys trips Land Rover Tours

Nothing sexier than a Land Rover Tour through the Silk Road (c) Mir Corp

1. Drive a Land Rover across Exotic Lands – Since MIR Corporation’s inception in 1986 they have been creating custom overland adventures. These self-drive tours often involve groups of buddies piloting Land Rovers, motorcycles or even vintage automobiles across the rolling steppe of Mongolia, through the charming towns and villages of Siberia, or even along The Silk Road. These journeys are momentous, unforgettable and limited only by one’s own imagination.

http://www.mircorp.com/about-mir/mir-clients/overland-expeditions/

2. Fish Remote Russian Wilderness – Ryabaga Camp on the Ponoi River is located above the Arctic Circle and accessed via a 2 hour Mi-8 helicopter ride across remote Russian tundra. A totally wild Atlantic salmon population thrives in the Ponoi River. Anglers enjoy single occupancy cabins with gourmet food and fine wine. Frontiers International Travel arranges everything, including flights, activities, and visas.

http://www.frontierstravel.com/ryabaga-camp-the-ponoi-river

Mountain Biking South America

Experience some of the best mountain biking in South America

3. Mountain Bike Ecuador’s Cotopaxi National Park – Experience the exhilarating thrill of biking Cotopaxi National Park on this intrepid Ecuadorian bro-cation. Designed for experienced and advanced mountain bikers, this challenging and beautiful itinerary takes bikers through Santa Rita Ecological Reserve, El Tambo Trail, The Road of the Lahars, and down Cotopaxi Volcano. Ride on natural trails in the highlands that pre-date the Incas; swoop down the slopes of Cotopaxi; and enjoy flowing single-track across Andean deserts on this tour of a lifetime.

http://www.adventure-life.com/ecuador/tours/3951/cotopaxi-mountain-biking

trips to greenland

Glacier Trek in Greenland (c) Big Chill Adventure

4. Dogsled and Trek Glaciers in Greenland – Travel to West Greenland to explore and photograph fantastic landscapes of pristine beauty, exotic, arctic wildlife and northern lights. This all-inclusive adventure is a splendid introduction to the highlights of Greenland: calving glaciers, palatial icebergs, dogsledding, wildlife viewing, and trekking the Greenland Ice Sheet.

http://bigchilladventure.com/trips-cat/greenland/

Belgium beer tour

Belgium Beer Rocks!

5. Belgium Beer Bike Tour – Biking Belgium is truly a beer-loving cyclist’s dream, as there are 1,130+ beers brewed in country. In addition to Trappist ales and abbey beers, it churns out lagers such as Stella Artois and Jupiler. This unique itinerary offers access to more boutique breweries than any other European bicycle tour.

http://www.ciclismoclassico.com/bike-belgium/

dude ranch city slicker trips

Giddy Up!

6. “City Slicker” Cowboy Weekend – Hike, ride horses, ATV, and play cowboy at Red Reflet Ranch in Wyoming. The ranch is both working ranch and luxury resort where guests are treated like family. Additional activities include guided hikes, dirt bike rides, fly fishing and mountain biking. Guests can explore the 25,000 acre ranch, work cattle, fish on private streams and enjoy abundant wildlife. Gourmet dining includes ingredients from the ranch’s butcher shop, organic greenhouse and gardens. From cattle drives to branding, the true western lifestyle thrives at Red Reflet.

http://www.red-reflet-ranch.net/

Hawaii Cycling Tour

Bike like an Ironman

7. Tackle an Ironman Bike Course – Bike tour operators Ride & Seek and Big Island Bike Tours have partnered to offer a new Hawaii tour on which guests will ride the infamous Ironman Kona bike course, cycle through famous coffee plantations and ride up the world’s largest active volcano Mauna Loa (13,677 ft.). Other highlights include: luxury accommodations, soaking in the heated tide pools of Kapoho, and delicious local cuisine.

http://www.rideandseek.com/kom/hawaii

Visit Amazon Tribe

Visit an Amazon Tribe Deep in the Rainforest of Ecuador

8. Visit Amazon Tribe – Venture deep into the rarely accessed Amazon Rainforest to meet the indigenous Achuar tribe of the Ecuador. Contact with this tribe was only made in the 1970s, and their culture is more intact than most of the world’s tribes. Hike volcanoes, visit remote waterfalls, spot tropical birds and other exotic wildlife, learn about flora & fauna, kayak Amazon waters, and stay at one of the most remote, ecologically responsible ecolodges in the world.

http://gondwanaecotours.com/tour/amazon-rainforest-ecotour/

The Dancing Nymphs of Angkor

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

This week, Will Ottley explores the Buddhist/Hindu temples of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat complex and discovers that ancient civilizations’ wisdom lives on in the treasure trove of temples and monuments they left behind.

What surprised me most about Siem Reap, Cambodia was not the grandeur and sophistication of the temple complexes. Walking among the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world, I was struck by the overriding presence of the ‘feminine’. Carved into every wall of this vast complex are the images of Devata (goddesses) and playful Apsara (nymphs). This beautiful setting blends a rich history of Buddhist and Hindu influences that exude a feeling of peace and hint at the grandeurs of the lost Khmer civilisation.

Siem Reap, a Temple Base Camp

Siem Reap is a short (less than an hour) flight from the international airports of Bangkok, Phnom Pehn, and Ho Chi Minh City. It serves as the base for visiting the surrounding temples and caters for all travellers’ requirements. It can equally be enjoyed as a single traveller or a family. You can stay in a five-star luxury colonial style hotel that offers traditional afternoon tea, such as Raffles (+855 63 963 888), boutique alternatives such as Shinta Mani Club (+855 63 761 998) or mid-range options such as Tara Ankor hotel. (+855 63 966 661).

Shinta Mani

Shinta Mani

There is an array of excellent local restaurants easily reachable from your hotel by tuk-tuk (think horse and carriage, with a motorbike in place of the horse). They offer traditional Khmer and Asian cuisine, such as the local delicacy, Amok, a thick curry soup made with coconut cream. Two good options are the Khmer kitchen (+855 63 964 154) and the Chamkar Vegetarian Restaurant (+855 92 733 150).

Khmer Kitchen

Khmer Kitchen

There are traditional dance and dinner shows such as Apsara Theatre (+855 63 963 561). These can be quite touristic and you ideally need to book in advance. There are also luxury spas, such as Bodia spa that offer a full range of body treatments including the traditional Khmer massage (+855 63 761 593).

The Temples of Angkor

Visiting the wondrous temples of the UNESCO Archaeological Park, can, at times make you feel like Indiana Jones. From the 9th to 15th century Angkor, was the heart of the Khmer Kingdom. The most famous temples of Angkor Wat, the Bayon, Preah Khan and Ta Prohm, exemplify changing periods of Khmer architecture. Mini-buses packed with tourists set off early to see Angkor Wat, on what is termed the inner-circuit route to see the main temples, followed by the outer circuit on subsequent days (it will make sense when you get there).

Bayon

Bayon Temple

These package tours break for breakfast and lunch at the same time each day, leaving the temples virtually empty. My advice is to hire your own tuk-tuk or taxi, from as little as $15 a day, and to visit the temples in the opposite direction to the arranged tours, taking a later breakfast and lunch. By staying out later, you also get to watch the sunsets shimmering above the tree line. A 5am start to see the stately sunrise over Angkor, is also very popular.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

You can hire a knowledgeable tour guide with good English from $45 per day, or just enjoy the experience of discovering the temples for yourself with a guide book. Each temple is unique. The complex of Bayon for example has amazing head carvings, whilst the complex of Ta Prohm was so overgrown when it was excavated that they had to leave trees in place to protect the structure from collapse. This haunting temple was used when filming Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and is a definite highlight.

Getting There and Around

You can travel to Siem Reap via Bangkok from London with British Airways (0844 493 0775; ba.com), and Air France (0207 660 0337) from under £500 per person return. Internal flights to Siem Reap from Bangkok with Air Asia from £70.

Cambodian visa information: www.cambodianembassy.org.uk

Will Ottley is a freelance travel writer and author of the inspirational fable, “Mountain Garden”, but does not work with or for any of the parties mentioned in this article.

Follow Will Ottley on: www.mountaingarden.co.uk

Ireland: The Wild Atlantic Way with Vagabond Adventure Tours

Vagabond Tours

Vagabond Tours

The Wild Atlantic Way… we’d never heard about this rugged beautiful place before, but, apparently, it’s the longest defined coastal touring route in the world, embracing Ireland’s wild West Coast landscape, ancient monuments, and historical sites. This stunning route twists and turns for 1,600 miles along an undulating coastline from the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork. The Wild Atlantic Way is not just a driving route, it’s an invitation to adventure.

With countless ways to explore it by sea kayaking, hiking, mountain biking and even surfing, we wanted to introduce our readers to Vagabond Adventure Tours of Ireland makes it all accessible, thanks to their smartly planned multi-sport scheduled trips that take adventurous travelers to these authentic, off-the-beaten path areas along the route. In operation since 2002, Vagabond was founded by Rob & Amy Rankin after traveling extensively through Southern Africa. Impressed by the classic African travel modes of safari and overland tours, they decided to bring the concept to Ireland. They established Driftwood Irish Journeys of Discovery in 2011 as a division of Vagabond to offer trips for more leisurely travelers. We can dig that since we love leisure.

Surfing in Ireland with Vagabond Tours (because... why not?)

Surfing in Ireland with Vagabond Tours (because… why not?)

Utilizing custom-designed Land Rovers that take no more than 13 passengers, Vagabond trips explore an area in depth with daily adventures. One day, it might be sea kayaking in sheltered waters off the coast of Cork, while another day its horseback riding along a beach in Kerry. Nightly stays are in coastal villages and towns, in locally-owned guesthouses and small hotels.

One of Vagabond’s classic Wild Atlantic Way journeys is their World Tour of Ireland. Focused on the southwest and counties Kerry and Cork, this seven-day trip includes sea kayaking off the Beara Peninsula, horseback riding on the Dingle Peninsula, and mountain biking in Killarney National Park.

The price is $1,340, based on double occupancy, including accommodations and breakfasts.

The Wild Atlantic Way may be Ireland’s best-kept secret and with the dollar at its strongest in 11 years, this is quite possibly the perfect year to discover it.

vagabondtoursofireland.com

Alaska Fishing Lodges: The Lodge at Steamboat Bay

Steamboat Bay

Steamboat Bay

When I was a kid, my father used to take me fishing for rainbow trout. It’s one of my favorite memories to date. The casting of the line, the waiting for a bite, the cleaning of the fish, perhaps my least favorite part, but memorable and at one with nature, nonetheless.

I’ve never been to Alaska, but I do know this. If I go, you bet I’ll be fishing. Steamboat Bay Fishing Club came across our radar when we heard they were expanding their accommodation offerings with the addition of The Residence at Steamboat Bay, available to book for the 2015 summer season. Completed February 2015, the new eight-bedroom manor will join The Lodge at Steamboat Bay, inviting an additional eight guests (increasing the total guest count to 24) to indulge in luxury amenities at the closest lodge to the best fishing in southeast Alaska. The 2015 season (mid-June to mid-August) also brings to the Club a new fishing fleet of custom-built 27’ heated cabin cruisers each equipped with a livewell and dual outboard engines. The new fleet provides guests with an upgraded boating experience, including more deck space, an onboard head, and satellite radio. Sounds like a facing party, doesn’t it? Exclusively located on Noyes Island near Ketchikan, just a 90-minute flight from Seattle, The Residence at Steamboat Bay is adjacent the original Lodge.

A Room at the Residence

A Room at the Residence

Like the Lodge, the Residence features iconic Steamboat Bay styling including Native American artwork and artisan hand-crafted construction using island timbers, local stones and antique materials reclaimed from the island’s original seafood cannery. The new Residence also has something particularly cool: a transparent floor showcasing views of the salmon stream that runs beneath the house! Residential-style oceanfront and forest view accommodations with en-suite bathrooms, a comfortable Great Room featuring a large wood burning fireplace (because you can’t have a lodge without a fireplace), and its own hot tub on the Residence’s spacious deck overlooking the bay are other super fine lodge lovin’ features.

Getting toasty by the fire

Getting toasty by the fire

Guests at The Residence get complete access to the services and amenities at the nearby Lodge, including a made-to-order cocktail reception at the hosted open bar, fine made-to-order Alaskan cuisine, on-site therapeutic massage, bay kayaks, a sauna styled after a traditional Slavic banya, and more. Not bad for a fishing club that hosts novice and experienced anglers alike to enjoy the region’s best-guided salt-water Alaskan sport fishing, while exhilarating in spectacular coastlines and wildlife. This premier location is just minutes from the best fishing spots for trophy-sized wild Alaska King Salmon (Chinook), Silver Salmon (Coho), Halibut, Lingcod, Yelloweye Rockfish and more than 20 other abundant species. To ensure an exclusive experience for guests, Steamboat Bay Fishing Club will reserve booking The Residence for travelers that bring up to eight guests in addition to accommodating sixteen at The Lodge.

I’m hungry now. You too?

www.SteamboatBay.com

Antarctica: Adventure aboard the Expedition

Antarctica. So hot, it's cold.

Antarctica. So hot, it’s cold.

Massive, magnificent, and astounding, Antarctica is a continent of superlative, a must-see corner of the planet topping almost every adventurous traveler’s wishlist. Each day presents a new discovery, whether you’re cruising icy waterways, trekking through boisterous penguin rookeries, or paddling by inquisitive whales as you explore the floe edge by kayak.

The awe-inspiring, vast expanses of Antarctica will reach to your very core and you can’t help but be forever changed which is why we think exploring aboard the Expedition in small-ship style is a great way to see the craggy expanse. With adventure options that make it even more spectacular, you can set sail for the ultimate adventure—kayak, hike, Zodiac cruise, and camp all on the Great White continent!

From $4,999/per person

Call 877 412-8527 to chat with an Expedition Specialist or visit:

www.expeditiontrips.com 

A Weekend Deal to Iceland

Iceland's Famous Thermal Pools

This amazing deal just came into our inbox from Icelandair and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Iceland just topped Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2012 list as the best country to visit so, to celebrate, Icelandair has launched a 96-hour sale on the new Northern Lights and Golden Circle Tour package from New York City.

Now just $767 per person including all taxes, this deal is available for long-weekend escapes in early 2012.

It costs much less than similar land-only packages, essentially making the airfare free and the whole package 50% off.

This is a prime time to visit Iceland, as NASA scientists believe that the Northern Lights will shine its brightest in more than 50 years in 2012.

Icleand's Northern Lights

The deal includes:
– Roundtrip airfare to Reykjavik from New York City
– Three nights at the 4-star Hotel Reykjavik Natura
– Evening tour to view Northern Lights (Note: The Northern Lights is a natural phenomenon, and sightings are not
guaranteed.)
– Guided tour of the Golden Circle region
– Dinner at the Lindin Restaurant (famous for using locally grown, organic Icelandic ingredients)
– Admission to Laugarvatn Fontana Steambaths
– Weekend departures on Jan. 13, 19-21, 26-28; Feb. 2-4, 9-11, 18, 23; March 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 22-24

After enjoying the jewels of Icelandic nature, you’ll experience Iceland’s geothermal power with a visit to Laugarvatn Fontana spa with its natural steam baths and open air hot pools. Relaxing at this fountain of wellness will surely stir up an appetite.   Nourish your body with a dinner at the local restaurant Lindin, known for its award-winning, delicious chocolate mousse.  The chef is a member of  the Icelandic National Culinary Team.

For full details and to book, click the link below. Book by Friday, Nov. 4. This package is also available in November and December for slightly more.

Book Your Weekend Deal To Iceland

How to book this Icelandair and Visit Iceland deal: Click the blue Book Now button, then select four nights (the first night is the overnight flight) and two travelers for the Golden Circle & Northern Lights package.