Great Tips for Planning a Round-The-World Trip

The RTW traveler: a breed of road veteran surpassed in experience perhaps only by the steely-eyed, scarf-wearing newspaper foreign correspondent.

The idea of round-the-world travel has been gaining traction in recent years, with more and more people, from a widening variety of age ranges and backgrounds, deciding it’s possible to add a big trip to their life-plan. Especially as more businesses and workers have taken up remote working – meaning that you can travel the world, while keeping up with your day job!

But, what goes into planning a round-the-world trip?

I’m going give you a few tips (seven to be exact) to help you better arrange your planning, to you show you how to kickstart your round-the-world trip with an ease you may not have recognized.

To more easily break it down, I’ll put the process into chronological steps you can tick off one by one.

Planning a Round-The-World Trip
Planning a Round-The-World Trip

7 Tips for Planning a Round-The-World Trip

Step 1: Finalize where you’re going

Before you start planning your round-the-world trip, you need to have an idea of where you’d like to go.

This process of deciding where to go may have started when you first discovered there was a world out there to travel to, when you first saw images of places like the Great Pyramids and Machu Picchu, when words like Burma, Bali and Buenos Aires only just began to capture your imagination.

The final decisions about destinations should take place about six to eight months before you want to leave. This way you’ll still have a couple months before you lock down your route by buying plane tickets. 

If you need to, hang a world map on your wall, put some pins or stickers on it, and reinforce the idea that you’ll actually be in these places soon. Adjust them if your itinerary strategy or motivation changes. If anything, this process will serve to coalesce your vision, not to mention sharpen you geography skills – which is great since you’ll be needing them later on.

For some inspiration, check out these posts:

Step 2: Create your round-the-world trip budget (and stick to it)

The financial aspect of round-the-world travel planning may be the most challenging and least fun part but someone’s going to have to pay for the trip, and if it’s you, set a budget. It could be the one thing that keeps you on the road when others are running out of money.

There are ways to determine how much things are going to cost; the Internet is rife with information about the costs associated with round-the-world trips, so use the resource to formally assign some costs to your budget plan.

Make yourself comfortable and physically write down your numbers based on your personal traveling style. Use a spreadsheet if necessary, some expensive budgeting software, an abacus, whatever works best for you because you’ll want to be able get a complete overview as you work your way through the process.

Here are some categories to get you started:

  • Plane tickets – see step 4.
  • Accommodations – you’ll need a place to stay every night, but this doesn’t have to be expensive. If this is a concern, extend your stay in countries where the cost of living is cheaper, and lower your room standards in countries that are more expensive. Look to homestays, couchsurfing, long-term rentals to keep costs down.
  • Food – if you’re a self-proclaimed epicurean, budget for lots of restaurants, otherwise set you food budget lower by vowing to eat cheaply.
  • Entertainment – i.e. tours, shows, activities. Things like white water rafting, ziplinging, Zorbing come up via circumstance and you might not want to miss out. Keep money in this category so you can actually thrill yourself once in a while, perhaps with a jetboat ride around the fjords of New Zealand.
  • Transportation – trains, cars, taxis, ferries, tuk-tuks, bike rickshaws. This is absolutely essential to have in the budget; you’re going to be covering a lot of ground outside the plane, make sure you have money to get places.
  • Purchases – things like souvenirs, specialty items. Keep this small since you’ll quickly grow weary of carrying things around or else shipping them home.
  • Minor incidentals – give yourself a big buffer on this because things come up, many things and you don’t know quite how things will be on the road. You can adjust it a few weeks after your trip starts to see how you’re doing resisting overspending.

Step 3: Plan what you’ll be doing when abroad

Even at this point you should have a pretty good idea about how you’ll be spending your time while you’re on the road. This helps dramatically when alloting how much time to spend in each place. Take it from me, a place can get pretty dull when idly passing each day by.

Will you be:

Each of these requires different time commitments. You’ll also need to know how long for reasons such as visa stays, setting dates for departing flights, aligning dates for planned events down the road.

Revisit your budget to include these details.

Step 4: Pick up your tickets

There are a variety of places to purchase round-the-world plane tickets. I won’t go into them here suffice it to say some are better than others. But certainly don’t stop at the first place you see.

Also know that the airlines are not the only game in town. As a matter of fact, my recommendation is unless you’re using airline miles, look elsewhere. The Alliances’ websites may be slick and easy on the eyes but it doesn’t mean you’re doing yourself a favor by using them to buy your tickets. There are numerous rules, restrictions and pigeonholes that aren’t immediately clear but that force into traveling a certain way, and quite unnecessarily. Perhaps get a price from the airlines to set the bar and buy the trip elsewhere.

It’s actually possible to have the ticket purchasing process be fun, not riddled with frustrations, headaches and uncertainties.

Choose your patronage based on the following:

  • Value
  • Service
  • Pleasure of experience
  • Gut instinct

Do-it-yourselfers, remember: a couple hundred dollars more spent to have someone else book your tickets may be the difference between unsolveable logistical road snafu and an effortless journey around the world. The choice is up to you and how you want to go about planning a round-the-world trip.

If you’re doing it all yourself though, remember to tick that ‘flexible’ tickets box – you never know!

The best time to buy plane tickets is 4 – 6 months before your departure.

Step 5: Organize your life

You’re taking the trip, you’ve already decided that. In order to keep everything on track, you’ll need to make sure the time leading up to your departure is spent making smooth transition into your traveling life. I’ll call this your “exit strategy”.

Think of this strategy as a straight line to your departure day, and then think of a puppy trying to walk that line. Every time the puppy strays off the line (due to sparkly objects, the smell of cooking steak, someone trying to make him do tricks) pick him up and put him back on. Always remember, at the end of the line is you getting on the plane!

Your exit strategy will function best if you write down a timeline of when you need to do things to get done by the time you leave. A written timeline will make it 100% easier to remember what you’ve forgotten. If you need help putting a timeline together, there are options online.

Some major parts:

  • Set up your job sabbatical or organise your remote working schedule.
  • Deal with your pets, house and car.
  • Get passports/visas.
  • Buy plane tickets.
  • Get travel insurance.
Planning a Round-The-World Trip
Planning a Round-The-World Trip

Step 6: Book a couple nights of accommodation in the first few cities you’ll be traveling too

Give yourself smooth arrivals in foreign cities by knowing where you’ll be going when you get off the plane. Book a couple nights accommodations before you leave for the first few cities (you can always extend the stay if the location and price were right) then book accommodations further along as you get better at predicting your needs.

It’s probably not a good idea to book stays more than a month or two ahead since things may change dramatically on your itinerary and canceling or changing reservations is often trickier than booking them.

Step 7: Get ready to leave for your round-the-world trip

This may arguably be the most angst-ridden time you’ve ever known. There are a million things left to do, and that’s okay. You can’t change that. What you can change is your approach to them. If you’ve been using a planning timeline, you should be perfectly set up to slide right into traveling. You’ll have purchased all the items you need to buy, you’ll have set up your vitals for your absence, you’ll have kissed the dog goodbye.

Organization is key, make it a habit and it will help you dramatically once you’re on the road.

That should do it. Seven steps to get you juiced to start achieving your travel dreams!


Basecamp Hotel: Chic, Comfortable ‘Base Camp’ in South Lake Tahoe

Surround by tall pine trees at the basin of Heavenly Mountain and a close walk to the shores of Lake Tahoe, Basecamp Hotel is a rustic camp-like accommodation with chic undertones located in South Lake Tahoe on the border of California and Nevada.

The hotel offers travelers a stylish home base with a strong resemblance to that of a base camp to rest after an adventurous day discovering the area’s natural beauty.

The highly-affordable and eco-friendly hotel in South Lake Tahoe adds a sheer bit of luxury to make everyone a happy camper.

Book your stay here

Basecamp Hotel South Lake Tahoe
Basecamp Hotel South Lake Tahoe

Our experience of staying in Basecamp Hotel, South Lake Tahoe

Designed with exploration in mind, the 50-room boutique hotel offers travelers modern amenities in a cozy atmosphere. From a typical plush king-sized room to queen-sized rooms featuring bunk beds, the hotel can accommodate any size party. Each room takes on a rustic decor lined with reclaimed wood, painted tarps as headboards and comfortable wool blankets at the end of every bed. The high-thread count bed linens featured in each room adds a touch of luxury for travelers. Other amenities include a flat-screen TV, gear racks, free wireless Internet access, a desk and a spacious in-room bathroom with a walk-in shower and eco-friendly bath products.

Energy efficient room heaters, in-room recycle bins and reclaimed building materials are just a few of the additional green credentials Basecamp Hotel offers. But while the hotel’s founding principals include sustainability, its chic comfort is the main attraction.

The rooms at Basecamp Hotel

Travelers can take advantage of a unique experience and stay in their Great Indoors room, which brings the great outdoors camping experience indoors. Lined with green carpet to resemble grass, an electric log fireplace, landscape painting adorning the walls and a tent pitched over a king-size bed, book your “campsite” inside Basecamp Hotel.

Or step into the lap of luxury where travelers have the option of renting the Penthouse Suite. After a day of exploration, unwind with a stocked wet bar and views stretching through the forest to the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

Basecamp Hotel South Lake Tahoe accommodation
Basecamp Hotel South Lake Tahoe accommodation

Communal areas at the eco-hotel

communal environment is encouraged inside Basecamp Hotel as it provides travelers a lounge area with large leather couches to sink into and a fireplace to warm up by all while sharing stories and travel experiences with others. Or enjoy a coffee with a fellow traveler during continental breakfast, which is served daily and included in the price of the room.

The hotel also offers two dinner sittings at the large reclaimed farm table in the center of the lobby; share in a fondue experience among other travelers or possibly another family style dish depending on the day of week and time of year.

A few added touches Basecamp Hotel offers travelers includes a roof-top hot tub over looking the mountains, cozy fire pits to toast some marsh mellows at night and a stocked cash bar featuring organic beers and steaming hot chocolate.

With long trails through the woods, water activities within walking distance and two of North America’s best ski resorts are just some of the natural resources just waiting to be explored, Basecamp Hotel is the most affordable and stylish option no matter the type of traveler or adventurist.

The eco-friendly hotel will have you traveling back to South Lake Tahoe year after year.

Book your stay here

Basecamp Hotel South Lake Tahoe
Basecamp Hotel South Lake Tahoe

If you’re going to Lake Tahoe in the skiing season, check out these ski resorts in Lake Tahoe.


How to Plan for Last Minute Vacations

When we have no idea what travel restrictions are going to be place when, planning your travels in advance has been a bit tricky lately. Which is why we’re seeing an increase in last minute vacations!

Arranging last minute vacations typically means higher budgets and more stress.

This is certainly true for travelers who have no experience exploring last minute vacation deals.

However, with a little bit of foresight, careful planning and the following tips you can greatly reduce your expenditures and spend more time and money enjoying your vacation!

How to plan last minute vacations
How to plan last minute vacations

Preparing for your last minute vacation

1.  Plan your expenditures

Set aside a budget for your vacation. If you are taking the entire family for a vacation, then you need to set aside a budget for every member of the family. This will enable you to avoid impulse expenditure and unnecessary fights.

2. Know your destination

It is important that you learn about your holiday destination prior to travelling. Find out about the local transportation, some popular sites as well as the general climate of the destination. You may want to make some print outs to bring along.

3. Know your destination’s currency conversion rate

Be aware of the exchange rate for the location to which you are traveling. If you can, convert your currency before making the trip. Airports and tourist resorts typically add premiums to their exchange rates that can unnecessarily increase your travel budget.

Discovering Last Minute Vacation Deals

Here some of the tips that can help you to plan your last minute vacations effectively without straining your budget.

1.  Search for deals online

Most hotels and airlines advertise discounts packages on their websites. In addition, you can also find great deals on online travel agencies. If you are looking for on-budget last minute vacations, be sure to search and compare the deals that multiple agencies and airlines offer for various destinations.

2. Register for alerts

You can sign up for price drop alerts from online travel agencies. This is a great strategy because you will get instant alerts in your inbox as soon as airfares or hotel bookings drop below a certain price.

3. Opt for all-inclusive packages

If you are planning a vacation to a place where you will stay at a single accommodation, then all-inclusive vacation packages might be the right deal for you. This is because most travel agencies offer great discounts on all-inclusive vacation packages, taking care of your airfare, accommodation and meals. This is a great way of saving money in the long run. But on the others side you will loose the fun of exploring the destination and trying out different restaurants.

4. Call the airline help desk or travel agent

If you are running out of time, then consider making a direct call to the airline’s help desk in order to discover the best vacation deals. You may also want to book your ticket through an agent who can meet your requirements at a discounted price.

5. Be open to your options

Finally, it is important that you are flexible with your options when planning last minute vacations. It may turn out that you cannot get your favorite seat on the plane, or that your flight may arrive late at night. In such events, you will have no choice but to compromise on your preferences if this will reward you with a good deal on airfare or accommodation. Sometimes, you have to think outside the box to realize the best deals on last minute vacations.

Last minute vacations can be a great option if you are working on a tight budget. These vacation packages are usually abundant towards the end of travel dates when there are several un-booked packages available or when there have been cancelations.

With adequate research, you will certainly find the best deal by holding on until the last minute before making your holiday reservations.

Check out these tips for travel planning:


Volunteer Abroad Travel Insurance – Travel Dudes

You will need travel insurance when you plan to volunteer abroad. Most companies that organize travel trips insist or recommend you having volunteer abroad travel insurance.

Travel insurance is an insurance that is intended to cover medical expensesfinancial and other losses incurred while travelling.

Travel insurance can be gotten directly from insurance companiestravel agents and travel suppliers. The insurance covers student travel, business travel, leisure travel, adventure travel, cruise travel and international travel.

If you’re going to be volunteering abroad, you’re going to need to get specific travel insurance.

Buy travel insurance now!

Buying volunteer abroad travel insurance
Buying volunteer abroad travel insurance

Buying volunteer abroad travel insurance

Buying travel insurance is tricky especially when finding the right plan for you that will cover you extensively. Travel insurance covers you against risks such as severe weather, last minute cancellations, terrorist attacks, emergency/accidental care, and travel delays, missed connections, lost baggage etc.

Most people buy travel insurance so that they are medically covered when they are abroad; they don’t want to lose money due to cancellations and others want to prevent losing their luggage and travel documents.

There are various companies to buy travel insurance from depending on your location, price and what you want. Some insurance companies provide travel insurance which is niche specific where they specialize in student travel; others offer simple policies for everyday travelers, some offer just medical insurance or evacuation plans. 

World Nomads, for example, has specific travel insurance for volunteering abroad – get more details here.

Depending on what plan you want there are generally two types of plans which are package plans and travel medical plans.

When planning to buy travel insurance when volunteering abroad consider the following

Trip Cancellation insurance

Trip cancellation coverage provides reimbursement for lost travel expenses if you need to cancel your trip. Unexpected events like sickness, death, severe weather, industrial strike, terrorist incidents, something happens to your destination residence, theft of travel documents like passports, financial default by tour operator, and you may be needed back at work.

Trip cancellation insurance is important because some volunteer abroad fees are expensive which can go up to $ 5,000. With some organizations you are asked to plan early in advance in order to confirm a place with them. In such a situation during the period of waiting a lot can happen and you may need to cancel your trip. Also volunteer abroad programs involve a lot of several stops and connections and they have a higher risk of problems and things to go wrong.

Trip cancellation is important as you may choose to volunteer as a group or as a family and you may need to cancel because one of you may fall sick. This will save the money that could have been lost. Depending on the insurance company you use, they each have a number of reasons for you to cancel and they will reimburse you. Trip cancellation coverage should be bought early in advance to make sure you get the full benefits.

Medical insurance

Health insurance from your country only covers you while you are at home. When you decide to volunteer abroad you will need travel insurance. Travel insurance takes care of medical coverage while you are volunteering abroad.  When you are abroad despite of the vaccinations you are given you are still prone to be infected by indigenous diseases.  

The coverage includes being taken to hospital, being treated, charges for hospital stays, the cost of drugs, and evacuation back to your home country. Medical insurance is important since when you are in a foreign country and you might know where the hospital is. Also they may be speaking in a foreign language and getting help might be a bit difficult. When you are evacuated back to your home country, they will take you straight to hospital for further treatment. When buying medical insurance, inform them of your preexisting conditions to make sure you are fully covered.

Other advantages

Travel insurance covers against lost or damage baggage. This happens a lot due to connecting many different flights. It also protects against your property being stolen. There are some occasions when you arrive at your destination and your baggage is delayed.

The cover includes reimbursement of essential items like toiletries, and basic clothing. Some companies offer extra coverage on car rental damage protection, identity theft, and adventure travel coverage. Consult your travel agent on which is the best insurance company to use and what exactly they cover

Examples of travel insurance companies

There are many companies, travel agents and specialty travel companies that provide travel insurance.  They vary greatly on price and what they offer or cover.

At Travel Dudes, we highly recommend getting travel insurance from World Nomads.

Volunteer activities in their Standard plan may cover include:

  • Hospitality or work at bars.
  • Farming such as fruit picking, WWOOFing or other manual labor.
  • Wildlife or animal care.
  • Environmental or conservation work.
  • Au pair, nanny or other volunteer childcare.
  • Teaching.
  • Retail work such as shop assistant or store manager role.
  • Office or clerical work.

Volunteer activities their Explorer plan may cover include:

  • Undertakings in construction or renovation projects, including painting, using power tools, operating machinery or roadwork.
  • NGO support and disaster relief.
  • Medical and health care work (health education, medical services, medical practitioner).

Get a quote from World Nomads below:

Check out our other posts about travel insurance:


Sustainable Travel Tips on a Budget

Want to leave goodness in your path when you travel?

These sustainable travel tips will help you to embark on travels that are good for the earth, communities and yourself.

They will help you to immerse in local culture, see the land through the eyes of the people who live there and it will save you a ton of money.

It’s also possible to travel sustainably while on a budget…here’s our tips.

Sustainable travel tips
Sustainable travel tips – Walk, bike and use public transportation over taxis, rental cars, and flights.

Sustainable Travel Tips on a Budget

Live happy. Live healthy. Live free. Live beyond yourself. And travel sustainably.

Here’s our top sustainable travel tips:

1. Walk, bike and use public transportation over taxis, rental cars, and flights.

2. Eat locally produced food. Stick to a whole food plant based diet, which means more veggies, fruits, grains, nuts and less or no animal products

3. Be a part of the local economy. Eat local, shop local, play local. Avoid national chains and corporations.

4. Reduce- Reuse- Recycle– In that order. Trash sucks, don’t make it! Check out our sustainable camping tips.

5. Use the sharing economy. Use websites like couchsurfing.comwarmshowers.org, wwoof.net and craigslist.org. The sharing economy is one of our top tips for how to travel the world for free!

6. Buy less stuff and purchase used stuff when you can. You can buy second-hand camping gear, luggage and clothes.

7. Conserve water and electricity. Just be conscious of your usage. Refrain from buying water in plastic bottles by rather taking your own travel water bottle and filling it up with tap water (where safe).

8. Don’t use one time use anything’s (bags, take out containers, bottled water, straws, napkins etc.) Carry your own reusable dishes, cutlery and bags.

9. Positive consumerism. Buy from businesses that are using business for good.

10. Simplify. The less you need the easier it is to be friendly to our planet and to get around.

11. Travel light and carry only what you need (here’s our guide on how to pack lightly). It will force you to interact with the locals.

12. Be conscious. When you make decisions take into account where things come from and how they were produced. If you don’t know then find out. Take action by putting the information you find to good use.

13. Live beyond yourself. How do your actions affect other humans, animals, and the earth? Make your decisions based on the wellbeing of everyone and everything not just you.

14. Lend a hand to the local community. Spend time at orphanages, volunteer at a community kitchen, or pick up trash from the beach. There are so many ways to give back!

15. Help protect wildlife by refusing to purchase wildlife products and take part in tourism activities that include animals.

16. Don’t go where you’re asked not to go. Certain places are out of bounds for a reason – they could be private land, or they could be protected wildlife areas. Respect the rules of both the land and the local community.

Check out these other sustainable travel tips:


How to do Sustainable Camping

Camping provides access to beautiful hiking and fishing sports, making it the ideal way to escape from the daily chores so you can unwind and relax.

It is important to keep the environment in mind though – and that’s where sustainable camping comes in.

There are a lot of things you can do to make your stay at a campsite eco-friendly.  

Sustainable camping tips
Sustainable camping tips

Related Read: Camping Survival Tips for Adults

Top tips for sustainable camping

Let’s have a look at the things you can do to minimize the damage on the environment when camping:

Use solar energy 

When camping in a motor home, portable solar equipment creates pollution-free electricity and therefore it is an excellent clean alternative. They can provide power for a number of devices such as radios, chargers and lights.

If you want to have a shower in the great outdoors why not use a solar shower? It is as simple as filling a water bag in the morning so that you’re ready to wash in the afternoon. 

Here’s a few great solar-powered camping gadgets:

These are all great gadgets to add to your sustainable camping kit!

Take your litter with you 

Campsites have huge problems with waste, therefore if you go to a campsite make sure you throw away all the litter you have produced. Instead of adding to the litter problem, try to leave the campground in better condition than you have found it. This is crucial because it can take months or even years for litter to decompose. Also try not to leave food, as this attract animals to the campsite for a snack.  

Have a safe fire 

Most campsites have fire restrictions you should pay attention to, whilst other campsites even have their own fire rings you can use. When choosing wood go for fallen timber instead of cutting wood off trees.

When you can’t make a fire because of safety restrictions you can use camping stoves to cook, lanterns to provide you with light and extra clothing to keep you warm.  

Wash it green

If you keep the environment in mind and bring reusable cutlery then also wash it green. Instead of using toxic detergent, you should try to use biodegradable soaps. Also remember that liquid waste should not be emptied into a river, but onto vegetation or dry ground.  

Green equipment 

Nowadays caravan dealers choice in camping materials, so choose wisely. When it comes to sustainable camping you can consider the following idea’s:

Choose a tent that is completely made out of recycled materials. If that’s a bit too expensive for you, have a look at pre-owned tents or eco-friendly tents at a sporting goods store.

There is also a broad range of eco-friendly sleeping bags. Whatever choice you make, be sure to look at the materials before you decide to buy a tent or sleeping bag.

Check out these great camping spots in the US:


How to Get Tickets to View da Vinci’s Last Supper Painting, Milan

Milan, in Northern Italy, has so much more to offer than the boutiques and football, its roads are steeped with history, and there are so many churches and cathedrals to see and absorb the culture.

Milan also offers relaxation from all the sightseeing strains in the way of its many spas. Or take a gondola trip around the labyrinth of Milan’s canals, something which this Italian city is less well known for. There is no shortage of things to enthrall and captivate in this admirable place.

Or, you can witness the painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci.

Painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci
Painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci

Experiencing the painting of The Last Supper by Da Vinci

It has to be noted that one of the unmissable attractions of Milan, is Da Vinci’s masterpiece, The Last Supper. This has always been one of the most famous paintings in the world since its creation in the 15th century. Interest has risen even more significantly since the publication of Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code in 2003.

Tickets for the Last Supper are very popular, and sell out quickly, often weeks in advance, so it is advisable to book your Last Supper tickets early if you intend to see this world famous controversy for yourself. Only a certain number of people can visit the Last Supper masterpiece in one day, so as to preserve it, so make sure you don’t miss out.

The Last Supper painting is kept in the Santa Maria delle Grazie (Holy Mary of Grace – Wikipedia) church. The church itself is a alluring tourist attraction and definitely worth a visit. It is one of the most grand churches of the Lombard Renaissance, and took 20 years to build.

It is worth looking at the various tours which operate around Milan, and combine the Last Supper tickets with some other fun excursions to make the most of your day. Other interesting things to do include La Scala Opera House, the world renowned opera house, and Corso Venezia, a fashionable street.

This tour by Get Your Guide, includes the Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in central Milan and Milan’s renowned opera house, La Scala – plus, guaranteed tickets to see the painting of The Last Supper.

How to get tickets to view da Vinci’s Last Supper in Milan?

The famous Last Supper fresco of Leonardo Da Vinci in Milan is notoriously difficult to access for viewing, as the number of visits is limited and people book months in advance.

If you’ve not booked in advance and arrive in Milan to find that there are no tickets left, what can you do?

It turns out that there are still possibilities to see the masterwork, albeit, at a slightly higher cost.

The only way visitors to Milan can see this masterwork without advance reservations is to book a guided tour.

One way is to go to a Milan Tourism Point and book the LookMi tour or the LookMi Light tour. These tours include a visit to the Last Supper every day except on Monday. With the Milano Card (buy it here), you get 10% off on the tour’s price.

Another possibility is the three-hour Autostradale bus tour or the ATM City tour.

The Autostradale Look-Mi tour departs from Piazza del Duomo in front of the Cathedral, near MacDonald’s, at 9.30 am, lasts three hours and includes Cathedral – Gallery – Scala – Sforza Castle – Last Supper – Arch of Peace – Arena – Monumental Cemetery. The price includes transportation from and to main hotels, entrance fees to monuments, and the guided tour. Online booking from the Autostradale website. You are eligible to a 10% discount with the MilanoCard .

The ATM tour operates from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9:30 a.m. in Largo Cairoli (opposite the Castello ) and ends at about 1:00 in Piazza Duomo. The website gives a schedule. Info line 02 48036999. There are also tours, albeit with a slightly different program, but include the Last Supper, on Wednesdays (1pm) and Friday/Saturday (2:15 pm).

On the Internet you may find other tours at different costs, e.g. at 24Milano and Zani Viaggi , Viator, and TicketItaly.

Yet another possibility is to book at least a few days in advance with Last Supper Tickets. You can not book here more than three days in advance.

To pay the normal entrance fee of 6.50€, you’ll have to make a reservation the official way, at the Vivaticket website, months in advance! The availability of tickets changes rather a lot over time, so come back to the site regularly (you may just have luck).

On site there are guided English language tours at 9.30 and 3.30 (3.50 euro extra fee). To book this guided tour, you first need to get tickets for one of the two periods and then contact the call center (02 92800360) to book the guide.

Book your Last Supper tickets early

Remember to purchase your Last Supper tickets before your trip to ensure you don’t miss anything.

Discover more of Leonardo da Vinci’s Milan by exploring more of his work throughout the city, including the Sforza Castle, Biblioteca Ambrosiana and Museo Poldi Pezzoli.


What is Travel Insurance? And Why You Need It

Travel planning isn’t all about booking flights and hotels, it includes a few boring aspects….one of them being travel insurance.

What is travel insurance you might ask?

Travel insurance is one of those things that you have to have, but hope you’ll never use.

If you’re a traveler that loves to count every penny then travel insurance is probably not high on your list, as you won’t reap any immediate benefit from your purchase…but trust us, you’ll be happy you got it should anything go wrong on your trip! Travel insurance will save you A LOT of pennies when you have to make use of it.

There are different travel insurance options available, some travelers may be happy with a general policy, while others prefer a tailored package provided by companies such as World Nomads.

Various cover options include trip cancelation, luggage protection, emergency medical expenses, and emergency medical transportation.

What is travel insurance?
What is travel insurance, and why do you need it?

What is travel insurance?

Travel insurance includes various types of cover for your travels. Here are the main things that travel insurance includes.

Trip Cancellation/Interruption

This is the most basic coverage and covers most events that would result in you not being able to take your trip.

Examples include but are not limited to: Sickness, Injury, Job Change, and Financial Distress (bankruptcy) to either yourself or any of your travel companions. A good policy may also cover Delays, Terrorism, Political Change, Supplier Cancellations and Natural Disasters.

Single Occupancy Coverage

If you have arranged for double occupancy accommodation and your partner cancels or has to change their plans, you can get the required “upgrade” covered by insurance.

Trip Delay / Missed Connection

Any delay that is out of your control can entitle you to compensation.

Legal Assistance

This coverage can provide access to local legal experts in the event you get caught in any legal misunderstandings.

Accident / Medical Expense

Any procedures or treatment performed during your trip or potentially as a direct result of an event that occurs on your trip. This segment of coverage can sometimes include a minor amount of Dental care as well.

Note that SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance now includes cover for Covid-19. As with any other illness on the cover, all medical expenses will be covered – as long as you didn’t contract the virus before taking out the insurance. Testing for COVID-19 will only be covered if deemed medically necessary by a physician. The antibody test is not covered, as it is not medically necessary.

Pet Coverage

If you are bringing your pet (this is generally restricted to a cat or dog) they can be covered for emergency medical expenses.

Emergency Evacuation

This coverage is necessary for trips where you may not be near medical facilities and you may need transport like a helicopter or express train to get to a proper medical facility.

Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D)

If an event causes the loss of any body part (dismemberment), you can be compensated according to standard fee schedules. The other portion of coverage is self-explanatory.

Baggage Coverage

If your baggage is lost or delayed, you can get reimbursed for necessities as well as clothing and other personal effects.  Some plans will cover items that include laptops and electronic devices.

Our recommendation is to ensure that you at minimum purchase Trip Cancellation/Delay coverage since that covers any major trip changes. Some Medical plans will continue your coverage while you are traveling abroad so the Accident/Medical Coverage, Emergency Evacuation, and/or AD&D coverage may even be redundant for some travelers.

However, the medical coverage you get from a travel insurer can be of much better quality, and can put you as a traveler at a lower risk of having to pay up-front for exorbitant medical fees before being reimbursed.

Additional coverages should be subscribed at the travelers discretion.

Questions to ask oneself before deciding on coverage include:

  • Is my time away flexible or do I have a strict schedule?
  • Does my plane ticket guarantee I make it to my destination? (i.e. Budget carries like Ryanair do not)
  • What is the airline policy on lost/delayed baggage?
  • Will I be in an urban setting or will I be far away from civilization? (Evacuation potential)
  • Does my home country and the country I’m visiting have a strong relationship? (Legal Assistance)
  • Who will I be traveling with? Is my traveling partner a potential flake that may end up costing me money?
  • Do I need specific insurance, like volunteer abroad travel insurance.
Buying volunteer abroad travel insurance
Buying volunteer abroad travel insurance

10 Reasons why you need travel insurance

1. Emergency medical care

You never know when you could get sick or injured while on a trip. This is especially important if you are taking part in adventurous activities like hiking, snowboarding, surfing, or scuba diving.

With travel medical coverage, you won’t be paying a huge medical bill. You’ll also have assistance services –  in your own language – to locate a suitable medical facility and arrange transportation.

2. Luggage protection

You never know when you’re luggage will get lost on the plane, get stolen while traveling on local buses/trains etc., or get damaged while in transit. This includes not only your clothes in your suitcase but your precious equipment such as camera, laptop, cell phone etc.

If your luggage is delayed, travel insurance will reimburse you for each day you are without it, and if it’s stolen you’ll be covered to be able to replace your items.

3. Cover if your trip gets canceled

There could be a number of reasons why you have to suddenly cancel a trip — illness, family emergencies, work responsibilities, or another emergency comes up and you can no longer go. You never know what life is going to throw at you.

With trip cancelation coverage, you’ll be able to recover your expenses for these covered reasons and more.

4. You miss your connection or your flight is canceled

If you are traveling a route that requires more than one flight and you happen to miss your connection for whatever reasons, many travel insurance policies will cover you for those missed connections. The same goes for if your flight is canceled.

5. Adventure and sports coverage

If you are planning on doing any adventurous activities or participate in any sports, this cover will be extremely important for you. World Nomads covers a number of different activities including those in the snow, water, air, on land, and a variety of sports.

Whether your scuba gear gets stolen or you get injured while windsurfing, you’ll be covered.

6. Working or volunteering abroad

You can get tailored travel insurance if you’re going to be working or volunteering aboard, you’ll then be covered for anything that happens to you while on the job. Specific covers include for child care, general farm work, hospitality, restaurant, teaching, admin work, ski instructor, and even for office work.

7. Assistance with emergency prescriptions

If your prescription medication gets lost, stolen, or runs out, there are travel insurance covers that will assist you with filling in an emergency prescription. This is an important cover if you’re on any vital medication!

8. Your travel company goes under

What happens if you book the most amazing trip with a tour company months before you’re due to leave on the trip, then just before something happens to the company and they close down? Some travel insurance companies will help you recoup your expenses already paid and help you book another trip.

9. Losing your documents abroad

This is possibly every travelers worst nightmare. A good travel insurance policy will help you replace your documents and assist in getting you home.

10. A natural disaster or terrorism act

Should a natural disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, or flood occur or an act of terrorism happens wherever you are, you’ll want to get home. A travel insurance policy will assist in getting you home safely.

Also, if these should happen in your destination before you leave and have to cancel your trip, you’ll also be reimbursed for your expenses.

Where to get travel insurance

World Nomads

For a good travel insurance, we strongly recommended World Nomads. They are a well-known and trusted brand among many frequent travelers, they offer good value for money, flexibility, availability to claim online while you’re still away, offering coverage for a range of adventure activities, provide up-to-date travel safety alerts through their World Nomads Travel Safety Hub, and even allow you to buy a World Nomads policy if you’re already traveling.

Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travelers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

Note that World Nomads does not cover travel to countries with a COVID travel ban, so familiarize yourself with the exclusions (read more about their Coronavirus cover here). Nonetheless, getting travel insurance is extremely important to get while travelling in a pandemic.

Get a quote from World Nomads below:

All in all, the rates for full coverage Travel Insurance are very reasonable given you choose the right provider. It is well worth getting full coverage if you can. You will be very grateful for the options full coverage provides should your trip not go as planned. 

We have seen many trips be interrupted by unforeseen circumstances (even before Covid-19), and a good quality travel insurance plan, such as the one offered by World Nomads or SafetyWing, that covers everything is often the savior of a spoiled vacation. 

Knowing what you are paying for and what your plan includes is important, and we hope the breakdown of each aspect of coverage helps you next time you are researching and purchasing travel insurance.


Corcovado National Park Hike: A Jungle Hike for the Whole Family

Kids and adults love a good adventure!

If your planning a family getaway that will excite the kids and amaze the parents, Corcovado National Park on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula is sure to delight everyone.

It’s exciting for families to explore the heart of a tropical jungle together, and to see exotic wildlife in it’s natural habitat.

One of the things to do in the park is to do a Corcovado National Park hike.

This blog post shares our experience of hiking in Corcovado National Park with kids.

Corcovado National Park hike, Costa Rica
Corcovado National Park hike

About Corcovado National Park

The Corcovado National Park is located on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. While the park is one of the more remote in the national park system, Corcovado provides excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. 

Flora and fauna in the Corcovado N.P. 

National Geographic called Corcovado National Park the “most biologically intense place on Earth” and this is no exaggeration. All four of the monkeys species found within Costa Rica (Mantled Howler, Squirrel Monkey, Spider Monkey and White-faced Capuchin) exist in large numbers throughout the park.

  • Two crocodilians (the occasionally large and saline tolerant American Crocodile and the small Spectacled Caiman) persist within all of the park’s major waterways, as do Bull sharks.
  • The Jaguar population within the park is the healthiest in all of Central America, however it is still extremely unlikely for a visitor to spot one (most locals have never seen them either.)
  • Many other elusive cats call the park home as well, including the Puma (which is slightly smaller and more arboreal in Central American than in the United States, probably due to competition with the Jaguar,) Ocelot, Jaguarundi and Margay.
  • The park is one of the last strongholds of the Baird’s Tapir and there are hundreds within decent proximity from Sirena Station, usually found lounging in the shade or in shallow pools of stagnant water.
  • There are dozens of snake species present, many of them venomous, including the Fer-de-lance (also known as terciopelo or “Costa Rican landmine”,) the Bushmaster, the Eyelash Pit Viper, and the Coral Snake.
  • The largest snake within the park is the non-venomous Boa Constrictor.
  • Numerous other small mammals and reptiles are common within the park including, but by no means limited to, the White-nosed Coati, Sloth, Tamandua, Giant Anteater, Basilisk, and Ctenosaur.
  • Birds include the highly endangered Scarlet Macaw, the Tiger Heron, Black Vulture and the Toco Toucan, among hundreds of others including the critically endangered Harpy Eagle.

Getting there by bus

Regular bus service is available to Puerto Jimenez. Passenger truck service from Puerto Jimenez to the southern entrance at Carate occurs on a biweekly or greater basis.

The journey generally takes between 3-5 hours by road depending on weather, traffic conditions. 

Getting there by 4WD

All roads on the Osa Peninsula exhibit the disrepair characteristic of Costa Rica outside of the main tourist destinations. The road from Puerto Jimenez to Carate require a 4WD vehicle as it is a gravel road with several required river fordings.

It is recommended that this drive should only be attempted during the dry season. Note that Carate is next to the beach. Take care not to pass Carate as it is poorly marked. Parking is available by paying the store/bus stop which is Carate.

4WD Taxis are available for the passage from Puerto Jiminez to Carate. They are easy to find on the main strip of Puerto Jiminez. 

Fees and permits

Permits must be reserved in advance. You must have a permit to stay overnight at Sirena. In practice, the Park often allows campers with their own food to enter without advance reservations and prepayment, but during busy times of the year even the camping areas are filled, especially Sirena Ranger Station.

Sirena is the only ranger station that offers dormitory lodging and hot meals in addition to camping. La Leona, San Pedrillo, and Los Patos offer only camping with no food service.

It is possible to secure park permits directly from the Ranger Station in Puerto Jiménez. They also do accept credit cards now (visa/master).

Corcovado National Park Hike

Hiking in the tropical rainforest together as a family can help to build a foundation of love for the outdoors and create family experiences that will be remembered over a lifetime.

Hiking in the tropical rainforest jungle with kids and young adults is different experience than with a group of only adults. Kids hike slower, their perspective is from a place closer to the ground. Kids are curious and have many questions about the new environment. There is a real joy in discovering the jungle from a young persons point of view.

The most important consideration in undertaking a long hike with children is to keep them engaged and interested through out the hike. One great way to keep them engaged is to keep a list of all wildlife encountered, and then to review the list together over dinner.

Related Read: Bird Watching Tips for Costa Rica

Both kids and adults will be amazed at the number of different species that they found in the forest. There are many games that can be played on the trail together to keeps kid’s engaged, another good one is to pick a letter and search for things in the jungle that start with that letter. For example, the letter is M, and they spot Macaw, Monkey, Motmot, Morpho, etc. 

It’s important to remember that kids and young adults have different abilities and stamina and parents need to honestly assess if it’s both physically and psychologically possible for their child to make a major multi-day hike to Corcovado’s Sirena Biological Station or if a shorter day trip is more appropriate. Evaluate your child’s ability to walk on their own for 6-8 hours, and be sure your kids enjoy hiking and exploring.

Corcovado National Park hike details

The best seasons for doing the Corcovado National Park hike are the dry season from mid December through April and the beginning of the Green Season in May, June and July. From mid August through mid November is the thick of the rainy season. The park is closed in October due to inclement weather. 

Park reservations are necessary to enter the park, even for day trips, so be sure to arrange your reservation through the park office or your guide before hand. 

Two great hikes for families into Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park both start at the La Leona Ranger Station, accessed from the small town of Carate. A third option is to charter a plane from Puerto Jimenez to fly you into the park.

1. Day trip to Rio Madrigal for kids age 6 and older and adults who prefer shorter walks

This hike starts in the morning at the La Leona Ranger Station, and takes hikers 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) to Rio Madrigal. Along the trail, look for scarlet macaws, monkeys, morpho butterflies, mushrooms, and other flora and fauna.

While this hike can be made without a guide, guides are recommended as they can spot, share and explain the natural ecosystem and animals to the entire family. Bring a picnic lunch and your swimwear for a refreshing river swim and then hike back out to the La Leona Ranger Station in the afternoon.

2. Multi-day adventure (3 or 4 days) to Sirena Biological Station for kids ~12 years old and up and adults who enjoy serious hiking

This multi-day hike also starts in the early morning at the La Leona Ranger Station and takes hikers 17 kilometers (10 miles) from La Leona to Sirena Biological Station. Along the trail your guide will point out a wide range of flora and fauna from the forest floor all the way up into the rainforest canopy. This hike should not be made without a family friendly guide, as there are several river crossings and beach outcrops to navigate in collaboration with the tides.

Day one is spent hiking to Sirena Biological Station, the middle day(s) are spent exploring the network of trails around Sirena, and can include river swimming, waterfalls, and nature walks, and the final day is spent hiking out to La Leona Ranger Station.

3. Charter a plane into Sirena Biological Station

A third option for families not able to hike into Sirena Biological Station is to charter a plane from Puerto Jimenez (seats 6) to fly in / and or / out of the park. This option skips the day long hike, and offers amazing aerial views of the Osa Peninsula. The landing on the grass airstrip in the middle of the jungle is another experience you’ll not soon forget. 

Hikes along the La Leona Trail meander from beach to forest, so be sure to bring plenty of water (3 liters per person is recommended), a hat and good sunscreen for this expedition. 

Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica
Corcovado National Park

Tips before the hike

  • Get your kids outdoors often to look around for the small stuff – insects, fungus, birds.
  • Let kids participate in practicing their hiking skills before the big trip. 
  • Share maps, pictures of animals, insects and plants found in the tropical rainforest.
  • Express and share your own sense of excitement with your kids.

Tips during the hike

  • Bring plenty of snacks to eat and water to drink.
  • Give kids their own daypack or camelpack filled with water, emergency whistle, flashlight and snacks.
  • Emphasize fun: spotting exotic wildlife, funny plants, or river swimming is always fun.
  • Embrace the pace set by the kids, stop often to let kids rest, watch, and fuel up.
  • Take lots of pictures to remember the fun.
  • Let kids be kids and be prepared to change the plan if it’s not working.

What to bring on the hike

  • Plenty of water
  • Snacks for hike in / out
  • Hat & swimsuit
  • Comfortable lightweight clothing
  • Sunscreen & sunglasses
  • Closed toe, ankle high footwear
  • Insect repellent
  • Camera / binoculars
  • Sheets / tent for Sirena
  • Flashlight / other essentials

Related Read: Must Have Hiking and Camping Gear

More Tips for hiking safely in Corcovado National Park Costa Rica

Drinking water

The water at the ranger station is potable, but if you are concerned, bring some type of water purifier. The park recommends you carry 1.5 liters of water for the La Leona and Los Patos hike, but I’ve seen my guests drink this within the first 2 hours. Know your self and your water needs, dehydration and heat-exhaustion are common illnesses in the park.

Sunscreen

It’s recommended to use sunscreen, a hat, and long sleeved shirt on the hike from Sirena to La Leona. While much of the hike is through the jungle, there are long stretches along the beach that benefit from sun protection.

Insect Repellent

Recent outbreaks of Dengue Fever in Costa Rica are a concern. Currently there is no Malaria to be worried about. Also, bug spray helps with the sand flies and no-see-ums…

Solo Hiking? No

It’s best to hike with a guide or a hiking buddy. There are several tricky river crossings and tricky rocky ocean/beach crossings that need to be navigated at low tide…

Don’t hike off-trail

Each year people try to bushwack their way to discovered areas of Corcovado, and each year the local community has to preform rescue missions to find them when they go missing. For your safety and the safety of others, it’s best to stick to the marked trails.

No Swimming

Crocodiles and Bullsharks rule the ocean here and love to swim at the mouth of rivers. In addition, the currents and tides are quite powerful.

River Crossings

Cross carefully and quickly, and never risk crossing the rivers at high tide or during heavy rain.

Snakes

Watch where you step and touch. There are Fer de Lance and other poisonous snakes in the region. Be especially careful around rivers and streams where they come to eat frogs, especially at night.

Ants

Seemingly harmless, their bites sting for up to one hour…

Peccaries/Wild Pigs

There are two different species of peccaries in Corcovado, the Collared and the White-lipped Peccary. They run in packs and can be very aggressive. If threatened by a group of peccaries, climb a tree until you are six feet or higher off the ground.

Is the Corcovado National Park hike worth it?

While it’s really a hike vs a stroll through the park, Costa Rica’s Corcovado National Park hike is an experience of a lifetime. Corcovado is home to 5% of the world’s biodiversity and has been described by National Geographic as the most “biologically intense” place on earth.

A trip into Corcovado will be a trip your family will never forget.


Visiting Damaraland and Spitzkoppe, Namibia

It was the 30th day of my amazing African adventure and I couldn’t believe I had been driving around this continent for a month now! After visiting so many amazing places already, next up was visiting Damaraland and Spitzkoppe.

On this day, we left the spectacular Etosha behind and travelled onward through the desert, to Damaraland and Spitzkoppe. As we departed Etosha we were fortunate enough to be greeted by a few more animals, waving us off on our journey. We saw a male lion, with two more far off in the distance (binoculars were necessary at this point!), some ostriches, zebras and giraffes.

Visiting Damaraland and Spitzkoppe was part of the Serengeti, Falls & Cape Town Overland: Sunsets & Safaris tour with G Adventures.

On route to Damaraland and Spitzkoppe in Namibia.
On route to Damaraland and Spitzkoppe in Namibia.

We even witnessed some springbok “spronking” (a comical four-legged jump).

A springbok “spronking”.
Photo found on Google as I didn’t manage to capture this hilarious moment, but this is a springbok “spronking”!

Starting the journey to Damaraland and Spitzkoppe

Our journey was a bumpy one, and with 70% of Namibian roads being dusty and uneven, we wouldn’t return to paved roads until we reached South Africa. We stopped off to see some enormous termite mounds, and although they weren’t of much interest to our Aussie travel friends because they can be seen in Australia too, I found them fascinating.

There are five types of termites:

  • The “workers”, who build the mounds. They are sexually immature, blind, wingless and the smallest of the three.
  • The “alates”, who are winged and have no purpose in the group. They simply hatch and fly.
  • The “soldiers”, who protect the mound, have sharp jaws and defend their colony.
  • The “queen”, who has the longest lifespan of any insect in the world, with some queens reportedly living up to 30 to 50 years. They are the only ones who lay the eggs and so the future of the mound depends on them. If the queen does die though, her daughter can take over.
  • The “king”, who mates with the queen for life and fertilizes the eggs.

All termite mounds in Africa lean to the west because of the sun and the wind, there are 3,100 species of termites and millions live in each mound. Aardvarks and other animals attack termites for food and the local people will also eat the alate and soldier termites, as they are full of protein and are delicious when fried, according to our CEO and guide Wellington. As well as a food source, the locals use the soil from the mounds to build houses.

Termite mounds in Namibia.
It’s amazing to think that such tiny creatures can create this massive mound!

We also saw the national plant of Namibia, Welwitschia mirabilis. Endemic to the Namib Desert, it can live up to 2,000 years and grows sideways.

The Welwitschia mirabilis - the national plant in Namibia
The Welwitschia mirabilis – the national plant in Namibia

The final stop before reaching Damaraland

Our final stop before reaching Damaraland was a national monument: Namibia’s Petrified Forest.

Here we were taught about a phenomenon that began around 280 million years ago, when the end of the Ice Age caused an enormous flood. Trees were uprooted and ended up in Namibia, where they were buried underground and changed form due to the penetration of minerals caused by pressure. They had become petrified, meaning they were now trees made of stone. As a result of erosion, the trees reached the earth’s surface and were discovered by two farmers in the 1940s.

The Petrified Forest National Heritage Site in Namibia
The Petrified Forest National Heritage Site in Namibia
The Petrified Forest National Heritage Site in Namibia
The Petrified Forest National Heritage Site in Namibia

Learning about the Damara culture in Damaraland

Once we arrived into Damaraland, we took a tour of the Living Museum to learn about the lost culture of the Damara people. Though they no longer live in the traditional manner, the tour aims to keep the culture alive for future generations. We watched singing and dancing and the men demonstrated their fire starting ability, which we were told was a skill they needed originally, in order to impress a woman into becoming their wife. We also entered the women’s workshop, where they were creating jewelry and knickknacks out of materials such as ostrich egg shells, seeds and porcupine spikes.

We learnt about the traditional medicines and the Damara peoples’ resourcefulness in their creation of tools. For example, they would use springbok horns to make weaponry for hunting that could also be used for pipe smoking.

Their clothing was made from goat leather and we observed a game they played for hours and would take very seriously (which I’d seen played in Zanzibar), called Bao. This would be used to teach their children how to count in the Khoekhoe language. 

The Damara people in Namibia
Our friendly guide, Sharon
The Damara people in Namibia
The Damara people in Namibia
The Damara people in Namibia
The Damara people in Namibia
The Damara people in Namibia
The Damara people in Namibia
The Damara people in Namibia
The Damara people in Namibia

A tour of Twyfelfontein

The following day began with a tour of Namibia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Twyfelfontein. Afrikaans for “doubtful fountain”, there is a spring here which seldom receives rainfall (hence the name), but it is best known for its multitude of prehistoric rock engravings.

These were made during the early Stone Age and depict hunting maps, footprints, waterholes and animals, including giraffes, elephants, ostriches and rhinos. Some of the artists must have been nomads because there were even animals such as penguins and seals, which would’ve been found elsewhere.

The engravings were made using quartz stones and were discovered in 1921, but it was never clear exactly when they were made, with historians predicting anywhere between two to six thousand years ago. Thought to have been the work of Bushmen or Nama artists, there are more than 2,500 rock carvings and paintings in the area.

Twyfelfontein - Namibia's first World Heritage Site
Twyfelfontein – Namibia’s first World Heritage Site
Rock engravings in Twyfelfontein - Namibia's first World Heritage Site
Rock engravings in Twyfelfontein – Namibia’s first World Heritage Site
Twyfelfontein - Namibia's first World Heritage Site
Twyfelfontein – Namibia’s first World Heritage Site
Twyfelfontein - Namibia's first World Heritage Site
Twyfelfontein – Namibia’s first World Heritage Site

From Damaraland to Spitzkoppe

It was now time to leave Damaraland and travel south towards Spitzkoppe. En route we made a few pit stops and the first of which was at a village populated by Herero people.

We were encouraged to explore their markets, as tourists buying their handmade wares was their main source of income. I bought a beautiful bag and we gave the children water. Our CEOs told us that it was important not to give them food or sweets, as we don’t want to encourage a begging culture, we cannot give them the same tomorrow, and they may not be able to brush their teeth after eating sweets.

Wellington also referred to the saying:

‘give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime’.

This phrase stayed with me and is something that it seems G Adventures feel strongly about because they support so many worthwhile enterprises which do exactly this.

Shopping in markets in Namibia
I bought my bag from this lady’s stall. Her dress was exquisite!
Shopping in markets in Namibia
Giving the children water from our tap at the back of the lando

We passed Brandberg Mountain, which at 2,573 metres, is Namibia’s tallest mountain. We also stopped to meet some Himba people, who are indigenous and have an estimated population of around 50,000 living in northern Namibia.

Wellington told us some information about this fascinating group, whose ancestors can be traced back to the early 16th century. They carry out arranged marriages from the age of 10 and their perception of wealth is reflected in the number of cows that they own.

They wear special contraptions around their ankles to protect them from snake bites and they make their own natural hair extensions, sun cream and mosquito repellents. Women are not allowed to use water for washing, as traditionally there were many great droughts and only the men were permitted to use this scarce commodity.

Therefore, the women used (and still use) smouldering charcoal which they would mix with herbs and wash in the smoke produced. Similarly, the men engage in polygamy but the women are forbidden from doing so.

Brandberg Mountain on the way to Spitzkoppe in Namibia
Brandberg Mountain
A Himba lady and her two sons
A Himba lady and her two sons

Arriving in Spitzkoppe

As we arrived into Spitzkoppe we noticed its many granite peaks in what seemed like every direction, as they stand out dramatically from the flat surrounding plains. It was beautiful to walk around this almost-700-million-year-old area, and we spent the rest of the day climbing and exploring the breathtaking landscapes in the Namib Desert.

Spitzkoppe in Namibia
Spitzkoppe in Namibia
Spitzkoppe in Namibia
Spitzkoppe in Namibia

Just before the sun set, we clambered up one of the peaks and watched from above, listening to the bird song and gazing at the natural beauty around us.

Sunset in Spitzkoppe in Namibia
Sunset in Spitzkoppe in Namibia
Touring Spitzkoppe in Namibia
Touring Spitzkoppe in Namibia
Touring Spitzkoppe in Namibia
Touring Spitzkoppe in Namibia
Touring Spitzkoppe in Namibia
Touring Spitzkoppe in Namibia

Click here to view my 360° virtual tour of sunset on one of Spitzkoppe’s peaks!

In the evening, we enjoyed each other’s company around the campfire, singing and stargazing at the incredible night’s sky.

Stars in Spitzkoppe
Stars in Spitzkoppe
Nighttime in Spitzkoppe
Nighttime in Spitzkoppe
Nighttime in Spitzkoppe
Nighttime in Spitzkoppe

Next up, we ventured to Swakopmund, where we would be exploring the Namib Desert by board instead of foot.

Thinking about exploring Namibia? Check out the Namibia tours offered by G Adventures – many include visiting both Damaraland and Spitzkoppe.