How to Plan an Unforgettable Visit to the Gorafe Desert

The province of Granada in Spain has two unique features, the Alhambra, one of the very few Muslim palaces in the world and the Geoparque of Granada, an impressive area that shows the history of earth of the last 2,5 million years, including the Gorafe desert.

The Geoparque is a huge area (more than 4700 km2), but the most interesting town and surrounding area is without any doubt Gorafe. There are three sites that you simply cannot miss when visiting.

How to get to the Gorafe desert?

Whether you are staying in Granada, Malaga or Almeria, the easiest – and fastest! – way to go to Gorafe desert is via the A92; there is a direct exit to the town.

Gorafe desert in Grenada, Spain
Gorafe desert in Grenada, Spain

Places to visit in the Gorafe desert

The first place to visit is The Megalithic Constructions Interpretive Centre, an educational center dedicated to the 240 dolmens in Gorafe and life during the Megalithic period. The center is located in the heart of the village and admission is about 3 euros. You can only visit it at noon or at 5pm in the afternoon. The guided visit takes about 3 hours.

Afterward, you should pay a visit to the dolmens themselves in the Megalithic Park, just outside the village. Admission is free! Gorafe has the highest concentration of burial mounds in the whole of Spain.

Megalithic Park in Gorafe
Megalithic Park in Gorafe

The highest part of the park is located on a road called Mirador del Llano de Olivares. If you keep on following this road, you will eventually arrive at the area commonly known as “the Gorafe desert”. Technically, this is not a desert, but rather an impressive series of badlands, in all shapes, sizes and colors. A must-see! Lots of tourists visit this area via a company that organizes guided tours.

The biggest disadvantage is that these tours can be quite expensive. (100 euros and more). The good news is that you can visit these badlands also on your own.

With a bit of luck, you can see these fellows:

Mirador del Llano de Olivares
Mirador del Llano de Olivares

Keep on following the road; a bit further, you can see Gorafe from a different point of view!

Gorafe in Spain
Gorafe in Spain

You are now very close to the badlands. For the most part, you will be driving on a dirt road which is in a quite good condition. Here and there, there are potholes: just use your common sense and drive slowly.

This is the kind of landscape you will see:

After an hour, you will see a very dramatic landscape. It’s called “Los Coloraos” and can be best compared to a small version of the Grand Canyon:

You could continue on the same road, but we strongly advise against this, mainly because the road becomes quite dangerous. It’s better to turn around and drive back to Gorafe.

More practical information for visiting Gorafe

A visit to the three sites will take at least one day. There are several hotels in Gorafe and some of them are located in caves! Check Booking for more information.

Looking for a meal? Don’t forget that in the province of Granada, tapas are free! If you combine them with a racion (big tapa), a bocadillo (sandwich) or a mixed salad, you have a proper meal. If you insist on a restaurant, go for a “menu diario”(usually 3 courses and 1 drink for 10 euros!). We had lunch in the bar opposite the church of the neighboring village of Villanueva de las Torres (big fresh tapas!). Last but not least, during summer, make sure you have plenty of water with you.

There are plenty of other interesting locations:

  • If you can’t have enough of the badlands, check out the villages of Belerda and Fonelas (about 35 kilometers to the southwest of Gorafe);
  • about 50 kilometers to the east, you will find the Embalse de Negratin, a reservoir with turquoise water surrounded by pinkish badlands;
  • Or you can go to Guadix (30 kilometers to the south) and explore its cathedral and cave houses.


Visit Kazakhstan – Where Old Meets New on the Ancient Silk Road

Until twenty years ago Kazakhstan was one of the great unknowns, a relatively undiscovered region of the former USSR. But today, many travelers are excited to visit Kazakhstan.

Located along the ancient Silk Road, this land of vast plains, beautiful mountains, clear lakes and clean rivers was considered basic, unwelcoming and remote to all but a few of the hardiest adventure travelers.

Today, Kazakhstan is an ethnically diverse republic with a unique culture mix on the border between Europe and Asia.

It is prosperous, modern, and chic in places, unspoiled, cultural, and quiet in others. It borders the Caspian Sea, the only inland sea in the world and is famous for its caviar; it is also the nation which gave the world tulips, apples and domesticated horses.

Bol'shoye Almatinskoye Ozero, Almaty in Kazakhstan
Bol’shoye Almatinskoye Ozero, Almaty

History of Kazakhstan

In the past Kazakhstan was broadly divided in two – the area of the settled Silk Road in the south, and communities of nomadic horseback herders who covered the rest of the country.

This situation continued until the early 20th century when the Kazakh people, under Soviet rule, suffered serious hardships.

An estimated 1.5-2 million died of hunger, some people fled to China, whilst others, mainly intellectuals, were repressed by the regime; this is undoubtedly where the image of an unwelcoming and cold land originated. However, in December 1991 Kazakhstan was proclaimed an independent state, and circumstances started to change.

Places to visit in Kazakhstan – Its Towns, Cities & Countryside 

As large as Western Europe and four times the size of Texas, Kazakhstan is totally diverse. North, south east and west, there are opportunities to enjoy everything from five star hotels to traditional Kazakh tent homes – yurts, where guests can learn about local customs, lifestyle and traditions.

There are mountain trekking and wildlife reserves, extreme touring adventures and chances to try out the ancient tradition of hunting with birds of prey. There are also opportunities for those interested in history and culture.

Kazakhstan is eager to attract foreign visitors, so those that take time to visit, are treated with enormous respect and genuine hospitality.

Visit the south of Kazakhstan

The south is rich with ancient history and culture. It is renowned for its medieval architecture, mausoleums and ancient burial mounds, it also the location of Kazakhstan’s equivalent of Cape Canavera — the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

  • Almaty, the city of the apple tree, was the nation’s capital between 1929 and 1998, and is the largest financial and cultural centre in the south. It is one of Kazakhstan’s most beautiful cities situated at the foot of the Zailisky Alatau Mountains, a base for exploring and winter sports. 
  • The Shymbulak ski resort offers exhilarating runs on deep snow between November and April, and during the spring, summer and autumn, there are walking and hiking opportunities through the gorges and foothills as well as chances to relax by crystal clear lakes.
  • The vast steppe of Baikonur is the location of the Baikonur cosmodrome, the largest of its kind in the world. This was where cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was blasted into space in April 1961 to become the first man to orbit the earth; it is also where the first satellite ‘Sputnik I’ was launched into obit. Until a few years ago tours of the site were not available to foreign visitors, but today everyone can view the launch complex, space shuttle ‘Buran’, Gagarin’s launch site, as well as a small museum which houses photographs of every expedition launched. There are also pieces of Gagarin related memorabilia, including his uniforms and a keepsake of soil from his landing site.

The site is located in a semi arid and unpopulated area with links by road and rail. It is advisable to arrange visits through a specialist tour company such as Country of Tourism Ltd or Kendala Adventures, as permits are in high demand, especially leading up to launches.

Visit Kazakhstan, Almaty
Almaty, Kazakhstan

Places of the Silk Route in Kazakhstan

The most highly populated region of Kazakhstan, Shymkent, is the third most populated city in the country. The city was founded during the 12th century as protection for the town of Sayram, an important stop on the Silk Route 10km to the east, but the town soon grew to become a central market town for trade between the settled people and the nomads.

Two other fine examples of an important towns on the Silk Route are Turkestan (Yassay) and Taraz.

Taraz is more than 2,000 years old and known as the city of merchants. It has ancient archeological monuments such as the fretwork covered 12th century mausoleum of Aishai-Bibi, a UNESCO protected monument, and the unique 16 rib umbrella dome of the 11th century Babadja-Khatun mausoleum, the only one of its kind in Central Asia. Finally is the city of Turkestan, 1500 years old, and the final resting place of the Muslim poet and humanitarian, Hodzha Ahmed Yassavi

Sayram, Kazakhstan
Sayram, Kazakhstan

Visit Western Kazakhstan

Western Kazakhstan is the crossroads between Europe and Asia. The Caspian Sea, the Volga, and the Ural Rivers make it a prime area for hunting, angling, and water sports. Here, it is also possible to witness the second lowest land level on the earth, the Karaghiye Depression; 132 meters below sea level. There are clear springs, beach resorts and canyons where extreme travelers will appreciate rock climbing on striking cliffs.

It is not just southern Kazakhstan that was influential in the Silk Route, the west and the Caspian Sea were also hugely significant. Small settlements – Caravanserais, survived here at Sartash, Ketyk, and Alta. There is also the legendary sacred mountain of Sherkala, where ruins of a fortress belonging to Jochi, eldest son of Genghis Khan, can still be seen.

As well as a thriving beach resort, the area around Aktau is the home to galleries of rock carvings attributed to nomads dating back between the 10th and 2nd centuries BC, and an underground necropolis created by Beket-Ata, the Muslim prophet to whom all creation was open. 

Ustyurt National Biosphere Reserve is a land of desert landscapes, lowlands, plateaus and a haven for rare animals. Ustyurt moufflon, cheetah, jackal, fox, saiga, gazelle, and long spined hedgehog are all found here. As well as the reserve, Ustyurt also features the ruins of ancient settlements and cemeteries on the banks of the Dead Kultuk, which are thought to belong to nomadic tribes from the 4th century BC.

Visit Northern Kazakhstan

Northern Kazakhstan is another region which provides excellent outdoor opportunities such as cycling, boating, and off-roading, as well nature reserves and health resorts.

One of the most popular resorts for both locals and visitors is Borovoye. Known as the Switzerland of Kazakhstan, and just like its namesake, it has a rich variety of restaurants, bars, shops and nightlife. It is a natural oasis with lakes, and unspoiled green forests, camping sites and spa resorts on the lakeside. Visitors looking for a remote experience can cross the small mountainous isthmus to reach Big Chebach Lake, which is a perfect, unhurried wild experience.

The capital of Kazakhstan, Astana, is a cosmopolitan and architectural city. Set on the banks of the Ishim River, the city has everything from opera and ballet to modern architecture such as the Baiterek Tower, the symbol of the city. At the top of the 97 meter tower there is an observation deck with a bird’s eye view for miles around. There is also a restaurant, art gallery, and a large aquarium lower down.

Astana, Kazakhstan
Astana, Kazakhstan

Visit Central Kazakhstan

Central Kazakhstan is a huge and relatively undiscovered region of the country, and location of the unique Blakhash Lake; one of the largest lakes in the world.

Balkhash Lake is the largest undrained reservoir after the Aral and Caspian seas. It is unique because of the different mineral composition of its water in the eastern and western parts, and it’s also a phenomenon because of its fish. There are an incredible amount of fish in the lake; trout, marinka fish, carp, white amur, barb fish, bream, barbel fish, catfish and many others. Every year between 8 and 10 thousand tons of fish are caught here.

The central region is also home to Bektauata Mountain Massif which comprises of bizarrely shaped rocks. In clear weather the massif can be seen for hundreds of kilometers, giving it the nickname ‘the lighthouse of Balkhash’. Daylight penetrates deep into its caves, where cavers explore grottoes and crystal cellars. Over thousands of years the pounding elements have eroded the granite to create fantastic rock formations with names like the Mushroom, the Chest, and the Turtle.

Visit Eastern Kazakhstan

Eastern Kazakhstan is distinguished by the Altai and its wooded foothills, the Irtysh River and lakes; this is the border with China, Mongolia and Russia. The mountain ranges of Rudnyi, Southern Altai, Kalby, and Saur-Tarbagatai play a considerable part of the region’s landscape.

Snow capped Belukha Mountain is the highest mountain in Altai and Siberia. It is the kingdom of ice and snow, with incredible thundering avalanches and clear, sparkling waterfalls. Berkutaul, meaning home of an eagle, is the neighboring mountain and another of the of the Southern Altai’s popular peaks. At 3,373 meters, this area is also home to the endangered Snow Leopard, some of the most illusive animals on the planet.

Markakol Reserve is another land of animals. Siberian stags, ermine, brown bears, elk, foxes, lynx, sable, the rare red wolf and birds such as falcon, grouse, black stork, and herring gull can all be found in the woods. There are attractive rocky mountains covered with greenwoods, fir forests, and sub alpine meadows, rich in flowers and rare medicinal plants.

Kiin-Kerish, which literally translated means proud beauty is a natural city made from tertiary clay; an incredibly beautiful and unique place with distinctive orange, white and red structures. The main feature of Kiin-Kerish is small layers of sand and clay with imprints of plants from its ancient tropical past and the fossils of rhino, crocodile, turtle and salamanders.

Visit Kazakhstan, Belukha Mountain
Belukha Mountain


A Guide to the Best Cities in Italy to Visit

Are you already planning your unforgettable Italy trip?

Combining delicious food, glorious architecture, saturated history, and impressive art heritage, this extraordinary country has it all to make you fall for it from first sight. Thus it’s no surprise that the list of unmissable places in Italy can be simply endless.

For your convenience, below, we created a compilation featuring Italy’s best destinations making an excellent introduction to the region and its dolce vita lifestyle. This should help to make the best out of your Italy trip.

Eternal Rome

Indeed, the expression “all roads lead to Rome” is another confirmation that the heart of the country is a good starting point for any Italy expedition, especially for first-timers.

Attracting travelers from all over the world, this art-laden European metropolis can be easily called an enormous living museum. Among its narrow streets are hidden Renaissance palazzos, Baroque fountains, beautiful chapels, and charming piazzas. As for places worth checking out during your trip, make sure to visit the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Saint Peter’s Basilica, and, of course, the iconic Colosseum.

The Colosseum or Favian Amphitheater is an incomparable icon of Rome and a must-see spot where you can find out more about epic gladiator fights, entertaining performances, and other legendary events.

Alluring Venice

With its limitless capacity to enchant, striking Venice is more than just a city. It’s an entire series of 118 tiny islands divided by dozens of canals and connected by over 400 elegant bridges.

Let yourself get lost among the little alleys, shop the stalls that line the streets or stop by the Rialto Market, and, as a highlight, explore lapping waterways on a traditional gondola to see the beauty of the town from another angle. Wondering what else can make your Venice travel experience even better?

Thanks to developed lagoon aquaculture, Venetian cuisine offers a mind-blowing selection of seafood dishes. Believe us, accompanied with bubbly prosecco, these mouth-watering delicacies will provide a total blast of your taste buds!

Antique Florence

Famous worldwide as the cradle of the Renaissance, charming Florence represents a paradise for all passionate art enthusiasts since it encompasses numerous exquisite masterpieces of the era.

Tour the Gallery of the Academy of Florence to see the original “David” by Michelangelo, stroll the library of San Lorenzo, and make sure to pop in Uffizi Gallery, which is home to incredible works by such skilled creators as Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Leonardo da Vinci.

In addition to high-class museums, this fantastic town is dotted with various historical sites, monumental cathedrals, and glorious palaces, including the white-marble Baptistery, Bargello palace, San Miniato al Monte basilica, and the Medici Chapel.

Tranquil Siena

Situated just 43 miles (70 kilometers in equivalent) south of gorgeous Florence, this wonderful hill town in Tuscany has plenty of things to marvel at. According to ancient legends, Siena is considered to be found by Senius, son of Remus.

When speaking about this lively city, it’s impossible not to mention its main pride, Il Palio, or exciting horse race. This thrilling competition is run around the central piazza two times in summer. Interestingly, you can also see this event in action in the famed James Bond film called Quantum of Solace!

During your stay, save some time to peacefully wander the cobblestone streets, visit the eye-catching Siena Cathedral, and overlook the city from Torre del Mangia, an 85-meter high tower constructed in the 14th century.

Bustling Milan

Being one of the most visited destinations in Northern Italy, the world’s fashion and design capital offers plenty of things to see and do.

As a base for the city’s awesome shopping scene, chic outlets and luxurious boutiques are scattered around the area dictating contemporary fashion trends and attracting everyone with their bright showcases.

Apart from high-quality shopping, think about delving into Milan’s cultural legacy and paying a visit to the city’s remarkable museums and galleries. Witness the grandeur of Milan Duomo, stop by the famous La Scala Theater, traverse the historic Brera district, and pop in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie to see the grand Leonardo da Vinci’s fresco “The Last Supper.”

Vivid Cinque Terre 

How about visiting not just one, but the whole five towns at once? Nestled in the region of Liguria, the Cinque Terre coast is a UNESCO-listed destination that represents a claster of  Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore fishing villages.

Each one of the five strikes with its petite colorful buildings, breathtaking sea views, and heart-warming coziness but still having its own unique character.

Apart from offering some of the most dramatic sceneries on the planet, Cinque Terre provides plenty of hiking opportunities. For centuries, the only way to get around the area was on foot! Thus today the local network of mountain trails is heaven for adventurous hikers eager to conquer unoccupied hills and enjoy untouched natural beauty.

To guarantee great comfort for all guests, the paths here differ in complexity and the length of the journey, so you can easily choose the one according to your preferences.

Summing up, miraculous Italy has everything to satisfy even experienced tourists. And apart from choosing the right destination, a well-planned route is a key to having an unforgettable holiday.

To see many-sided Italy at its best, as an option, you can build your travel itinerary with Triptil and make your travel dream come true!

Costa Rica 7 Day Itinerary: Visit the Nicoya Peninsula

Looking to book your next adventure? Or simply want to escape reality?

Look no further than the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica – a standout Central American country.

It thrives on passion for life; perhaps its most appealing attribute, and boasts a vibrant display of jungle and coastline which is home to some of the world’s most diverse wildlife.

And the best part is that you can see it all in one week. 

Limited to seven days ourselves, and on a very tight budget, my sister and I flew into San Jose where we stayed for one night before catching the bus and ferry across to the west coast to Montezuma (on the east side of the peninsula).

This was our first stop on our Costa Rica itinerary.

Costa Rica itinerary

Montezuma

Our week in Costa Rica itinerary started off spending four days in Montezuma.

Where to stay in Montezuma 

Luz en el Cielo-Eco B&B/Hostel. This place is unreal. It costs between $16 – $20USD per night for a shared room, with cooked breakfast included. Not a bad price to pay for a clean hostel in a spectacular location-nestled in the colourful jungle and an arms throw from the beach and town. They also have private dorm rooms and cabanas.

The staff are great- extremely friendly and helpful, the showers are warm, and the hammocks are perfect for monkey and bird spotting.

Book your stay here.

What to see in Montezuma

Montezuma is the epitome of hippie. Just stroll 50 meters down to the main street from your hostel and you’ll see for yourself. It draws a multi-ethnic crowd of an artistic and beach-loving nature. Stalls decorated with hand-made crafts and jewelry line the street, sarongs and artwork are on display, and alfresco-beach style cafes bars and restaurants provide the perfect setting for you to partake in the continuous mellow party.

Costa Rica itinerary, Montezuma
Montezuma in Costa Rica

Montezuma itinerary

Day One: Hiking to waterfalls

You can’t visit Montezuma without hiking through the overgrown jungle to an opening where waterfalls tumble into large natural pools of cool, emerald water. There are two large waterfalls – the highest standing at around 14 meters tall, often seen with Tico’s diving from it head first into the water below.

For the sane and safe, though not lacking an adventurous side – a rope swing and smaller jumping rock provide an afternoon’s worth of fun. The easiest way to reach the waterfall is by following the dirt road bypassing town heading south. I do however suggest you take the other path off the beaten track and use the vines to hoist yourself up the steep parts of the jungle. It’s beautiful seeing it this way and the views are spectacular.

Leave yourself a full day for this as you may find yourself wanting to explore beyond the falls. 

Day Two: Day trip to Tortuga Island

Every day a trip to Tortuga Island leaves from Montezuma in the morning, taking you on a 40 minute boat ride across pristine waters to your destination. The boat stops at two large rocks just off the beach.

Here you will discover an incredible underwater world as you snorkel in the warm water before heading onto the main island for a feast of fresh fish, a game or two of volleyball and perhaps a jet-ski or banana boat ride. 

Tortuga Island in Costa Rica
Tortuga Island in Costa Rica

Day Three: Secluded beach day

You may need a helping hand to find this one but its worth seeing if you can. A 15 minute walk north along the rocky beach will take you away from the populated main beach to a stunning, secluded spot enclosed by jungle and rocks.

You can spend the day soaking up the sun, rolling on the sleepy waves in the sea, and trekking a short way up the fresh water stream to a small opening for natural mud-masks and a massage under a waterfall.

This is the perfect spot to unwind, relax, read your book or just zone out and forget about your worries.

Day Four: Zip-lining through the treetops 

Spend your last day in Montezuma zip-lining through treetops of jungles alongside incredible wildlife on a canopy tour. This is awesome. Zip lining is like going on a flying fox, but you go faster, longer and you’re harnessed up. A perfect way to finish up your Montezuma experience.

Montezuma in Costa Rica
Montezuma in Costa Rica

Santa Teresa

Our next stop on our Costa Rica itinerary was Santa Teresa which sits on the west side of the peninsula. 

Where to stay in Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is a long stretch of coastline, lined with restaurants, bars, small stores and jungle. It’s a surf-lover’s, yoga fanatic’s, photography guru’s utopia. There are so many hostels to choose from, though we chose to stay up the Northern end away from the main part of town which was perfect for us as we wanted our last couple of days to be peaceful.

Search for accommodation in Santa Teresa here.

What to see in Santa Teresa

It’s impossible to describe Santa Teresa in one word. It truly is an absolute paradise. Spend your morning and evenings walking 40 minutes to and from the other end of ‘town’ either along the beach or dirt road and you will stumble across some hidden treasures.

The beauty of Santa Teresa is that although it is defined by a long stretch of coastline, it is broken up into separate beaches by rocks and vibrant green trees, perfect if you want to steer clear of the main crowds.

Costa Rica Itinerary, Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa in Costa Rica

Santa Teresa itinerary

Day Five: Walk through the town & beach

I would highly recommend you walk along the stretch of dirt road to town ducking into the many small stores they have full of sarongs, swimwear, jewelry, crafts and surf gear.

Stop for lunch at one of the many “soda’s” along the way which will set you back around $4USD depending on your café of choice.

There’s not much to see in the main part of town, so you may not want to spend your time looking around there. Instead I suggest you walk back along the beach and pick a beach front bar to settle on a hammock in and sip the afternoon away with a mojito in hand as you watch the sun set over the surfers.

Day Six: Hit the waves

Grab a surfboard from your closest hire shop and take to the waves. Though if you haven’t surfed before or if you are a beginner, make sure you don’t go alone as the currents are strong and rips are common in parts.

If you are experienced, this is an absolute haven for you as Santa Teresa is home to world-class waves, and many who have simply visited on a surfing holiday in the past have ended up staying. 

Book a surfing lesson in Santa Teresa here.

Day Seven: Relax on the beach

Spend your last day in paradise letting it unwind you, relax you and mellow out somewhere on the beach. Don’t forget your camera as the setting is perfect to get the perfect photo.

Pick a restaurant at night (Rocamar restaurant has a laidback vibe with beanbags and hammocks to laze about on), and let the music transform you into a state of bliss.

Exploring more of Costa Rica? Here’s a few tips:


Cost Rica 7 Day Itinerary: Visit the Nicoya Peninsula

Looking to book your next adventure? Or simply want to escape reality?

Look no further than the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica – a standout Central American country.

It thrives on passion for life; perhaps its most appealing attribute, and boasts a vibrant display of jungle and coastline which is home to some of the world’s most diverse wildlife.

And the best part is that you can see it all in one week. 

Limited to seven days ourselves, and on a very tight budget, my sister and I flew into San Jose where we stayed for one night before catching the bus and ferry across to the west coast to Montezuma (on the east side of the peninsula).

This was our first stop on our Costa Rica itinerary.

Costa Rica itinerary

Montezuma

Our week in Costa Rica itinerary started off spending four days in Montezuma.

Where to stay in Montezuma 

Luz en el Cielo-Eco B&B/Hostel. This place is unreal. It costs between $16 – $20USD per night for a shared room, with cooked breakfast included. Not a bad price to pay for a clean hostel in a spectacular location-nestled in the colourful jungle and an arms throw from the beach and town. They also have private dorm rooms and cabanas.

The staff are great- extremely friendly and helpful, the showers are warm, and the hammocks are perfect for monkey and bird spotting.

Book your stay here.

What to see in Montezuma

Montezuma is the epitome of hippie. Just stroll 50 meters down to the main street from your hostel and you’ll see for yourself. It draws a multi-ethnic crowd of an artistic and beach-loving nature. Stalls decorated with hand-made crafts and jewelry line the street, sarongs and artwork are on display, and alfresco-beach style cafes bars and restaurants provide the perfect setting for you to partake in the continuous mellow party.

Costa Rica itinerary, Montezuma
Montezuma in Costa Rica

Montezuma itinerary

Day One: Hiking to waterfalls

You can’t visit Montezuma without hiking through the overgrown jungle to an opening where waterfalls tumble into large natural pools of cool, emerald water. There are two large waterfalls – the highest standing at around 14 meters tall, often seen with Tico’s diving from it head first into the water below.

For the sane and safe, though not lacking an adventurous side – a rope swing and smaller jumping rock provide an afternoon’s worth of fun. The easiest way to reach the waterfall is by following the dirt road bypassing town heading south. I do however suggest you take the other path off the beaten track and use the vines to hoist yourself up the steep parts of the jungle. It’s beautiful seeing it this way and the views are spectacular.

Leave yourself a full day for this as you may find yourself wanting to explore beyond the falls. 

Day Two: Day trip to Tortuga Island

Every day a trip to Tortuga Island leaves from Montezuma in the morning, taking you on a 40 minute boat ride across pristine waters to your destination. The boat stops at two large rocks just off the beach.

Here you will discover an incredible underwater world as you snorkel in the warm water before heading onto the main island for a feast of fresh fish, a game or two of volleyball and perhaps a jet-ski or banana boat ride. 

Tortuga Island in Costa Rica
Tortuga Island in Costa Rica

Day Three: Secluded beach day

You may need a helping hand to find this one but its worth seeing if you can. A 15 minute walk north along the rocky beach will take you away from the populated main beach to a stunning, secluded spot enclosed by jungle and rocks.

You can spend the day soaking up the sun, rolling on the sleepy waves in the sea, and trekking a short way up the fresh water stream to a small opening for natural mud-masks and a massage under a waterfall.

This is the perfect spot to unwind, relax, read your book or just zone out and forget about your worries.

Day Four: Zip-lining through the treetops 

Spend your last day in Montezuma zip-lining through treetops of jungles alongside incredible wildlife on a canopy tour. This is awesome. Zip lining is like going on a flying fox, but you go faster, longer and you’re harnessed up. A perfect way to finish up your Montezuma experience.

Montezuma in Costa Rica
Montezuma in Costa Rica

Santa Teresa

Our next stop on our Costa Rica itinerary was Santa Teresa which sits on the west side of the peninsula. 

Where to stay in Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is a long stretch of coastline, lined with restaurants, bars, small stores and jungle. It’s a surf-lover’s, yoga fanatic’s, photography guru’s utopia. There are so many hostels to choose from, though we chose to stay up the Northern end away from the main part of town which was perfect for us as we wanted our last couple of days to be peaceful.

Search for accommodation in Santa Teresa here.

What to see in Santa Teresa

It’s impossible to describe Santa Teresa in one word. It truly is an absolute paradise. Spend your morning and evenings walking 40 minutes to and from the other end of ‘town’ either along the beach or dirt road and you will stumble across some hidden treasures.

The beauty of Santa Teresa is that although it is defined by a long stretch of coastline, it is broken up into separate beaches by rocks and vibrant green trees, perfect if you want to steer clear of the main crowds.

Costa Rica Itinerary, Santa Teresa
Santa Teresa in Costa Rica

Santa Teresa itinerary

Day Five: Walk through the town & beach

I would highly recommend you walk along the stretch of dirt road to town ducking into the many small stores they have full of sarongs, swimwear, jewelry, crafts and surf gear.

Stop for lunch at one of the many “soda’s” along the way which will set you back around $4USD depending on your café of choice.

There’s not much to see in the main part of town, so you may not want to spend your time looking around there. Instead I suggest you walk back along the beach and pick a beach front bar to settle on a hammock in and sip the afternoon away with a mojito in hand as you watch the sun set over the surfers.

Day Six: Hit the waves

Grab a surfboard from your closest hire shop and take to the waves. Though if you haven’t surfed before or if you are a beginner, make sure you don’t go alone as the currents are strong and rips are common in parts.

If you are experienced, this is an absolute haven for you as Santa Teresa is home to world-class waves, and many who have simply visited on a surfing holiday in the past have ended up staying. 

Book a surfing lesson in Santa Teresa here.

Day Seven: Relax on the beach

Spend your last day in paradise letting it unwind you, relax you and mellow out somewhere on the beach. Don’t forget your camera as the setting is perfect to get the perfect photo.

Pick a restaurant at night (Rocamar restaurant has a laidback vibe with beanbags and hammocks to laze about on), and let the music transform you into a state of bliss.

Exploring more of Costa Rica? Here’s a few tips:


Best Places to Visit in the Amalfi Coast in Italy

Fortunately, there is no such thing as the ultimate vacation scenario, as everyone has their own idea of what a dream holiday is.

Yes, planning a getaway would be much easier if there would be some universal answer, there is no arguing that. But life would be so much duller that cost just doesn’t justify the means.

However, there are several popular ideas on what makes a perfect trip setting. For some people, it’s the tropical paradise from the Bounty chocolate bar commercial, while others long for the unique larger-than-life atmosphere of the capital cities. Quite a few dream of snow, fjords, and the miracle of aurora borealis.

And, the gem of Italy, the stunning Amalfi Coast is definitely one of the most interesting options on the list of the favored vacation destinations. And with so many incredible places to visit in the Amalfi Coast, it’s no surprise!

The picturesque coastline seems to belong to another world, a window to a paradise realm from a different universe. The pure beauty of the sceneries takes your breath away even if you’ve been to this remarkable region multiple times before.

Everything seems to be too good to be true: nature, food, limoncello liqueur, and brilliant sights, so deciding what should go on your must-see vacation list can be rather challenging.

So, let’s explore some of the most interesting options to look for with Italy vacation packages

Best Places to Visit in the Amalfi Coast: Sights Not to Miss

It’s bold (to say the least) to assume that someone can visit all the impressive landmarks of the region during one holiday, so why not start with something less ambitious?

For example, you can pick three interesting places you would like to visit for your first trip, and it will leave you some time to enjoy a gastronomic tour, explore the cities you’ve chosen for your stay, and set off on some impromptu excursions. 

Blue Grotto on Capri Island

A stunning natural wonder, the Blue Grotto, is an extraordinary sea cave that can easily become the highlight of your trip. This magical natural wonder belongs to another planet and feels like a setting for one of the Doctor Who episodes. 

The entrance to this not-so-secret landmark hardly stands out, two meters wide and about a meter high, so you need an experienced guide to get inside. Visitors have to lie on the bottom of a rowboat to be able to get in, but this minor inconvenience is well worth the stunning beauty that waits for them inside. Upon entering, they see a wide cave going deep into the cliff and illuminated by the rich blue light, coming from the seawater, so clean it seems impossible.

In the Roman times, this place was a bathing hole of the second Roman emperor and looked more civilized – decorated with sculptures (two of them you can find in Anacapri museum) and boasting a few resting areas, but time erased the traces of luxury, and the Blue Grotto now seems as untouched as it once was.

Cathedral of Saint Andrew & Cloister of Paradise

The city of Amalfi boasts plenty of fascinating sights, but if you don’t have much time and have to pick just one of them to explore thoroughly – check out the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, also knows simply as Amalfi Cathedral.

It’s probably one of the most visited places in the Amalfi Coast.

You won’t miss it, because the sight is a real head-turner, dominating the views of the Piazza del Duomo, the heart of Amalfi.

To be fair, a place like that, combining unique style, fascinating history, and unparalleled cultural heritage, makes quite a bizarre sight, neighboring with cozy and always busy streets filled with shops and cafes. But such an interesting position only adds to its charm.

The cathedral houses the relics of Apostle Saint Andrew, and its interiors can make even seasoned travelers gape in awe. 

Cloister of Paradise, adjusted to the cathedral is also an interesting sight to stop by. This beautiful place is a small garden with palm trees and amazing flowers, the kingdom of green and blossom, and it was designed as a graveyard for the rich merchants of Amalfi, but it’s nothing like any cemetery you’ve seen before.

This island of tranquility is surrounded by a majestic peristyle, supported by over a hundred columns. During your visit, make sure to keep an eye out for the ancient sarcophagi, nestled around the cloister. 

Vallone delle Ferriere

Even if you are not a big nature fan, take a short break from the famous sandy beaches of the Amalfi Coast and give the famous Vallone delle Ferriere hike a chance.

A truly remarkable way to see a different side of Amalfi, enjoy some breathtaking views, and take advantage of a few unique photo opportunities. Don’t worry, no special physical training is needed to explore the trail, it’s relatively easy and mostly descending

The path will lead you through a beautiful valley where you can see the ancient ruins of the medieval foundries, passing old water mills (once the engine, powering the world-famous paper industry of Amalfi) and majestic waterfalls. The whole hike takes about three hours, and it’s better to set off early in the morning if the day promises to be hot.

The best advice I can give you – wear your trainers and don’t forget your swimming suit, and make sure to thank me later! 

As you can see, even these three places to visit in the Amalfi Coast, a bare minimum of an Amalfi Coast tour, already make a fantastic reason to choose this sun-kissed vacation as your next holiday destination!

But you can rest assured, that there is so much more to see and do there, that you will want to come back to this unique Italian region time and time again.

Top Places to Visit in Colombia

There are so many incredible places to visit in Colombia!

If you’re going to be visiting anytime soon, here’s a list of the must-do’s when you visit Colombia!

Related Read: Undiscovered EcoTourism Destinations in Colombia

Top Places to Visit in Colombia

1. Cabo de la Vela

Welcome to the “Wild West” of Colombia. Home of the Wayuu people, Cabo de la Vela is truly a unique and wonderful place to visit. This is where the desert meets the sea. Spend your days hiking to wild and unique beaches. Spend your evenings lounging under the star filled skies in a chinchorro (a large, comfortable hammock with a built in cover, made by local Wayuu women). Eat fresh, daily caught lobster and fish. Greet the goats, iguanas, lizards and crabs as you explore the beaches “Ojo de Agua,” “Pilon de Azucar” and rocky cliffs overlooking the expansive Caribbean Ocean at the northern edge of the South American continent.

Cabo de la Vela is one of those places to visit in Colombia that is well worth the journey.

2. Bahia Aguacate

Literally “Avocado Bay” this gem of a destination is truly where the jungle meets the sea. Set amidst palm trees and lush tropical forest, Bahia Aguacate offers amazing ocean views with craggy rock outcroppings against a backdrop of dazzling blue waters and bluer skies. Bahia Aguacate is a breathtaking hour walk from Capurgana, a small fishing village that boasts of a hopping nightlife on the weekends.

A short boat ride away from Capurgana is La Miel, the first successful European settlement on the mainland of the Americas, 1510. From there, take a 30 minute hike across to border back into Colombia, to the picturesque beach town of Sapzurro. This corner of the continent is reachable only by plane or speedboat, so this spot has retained its rugged beauty.

If you are looking to feel the sun, swim in crystal blue waters, and hear only the sounds of the waves and the ocean breeze, Bahia Aguacate is the destination for you!

3. Mesa de Los Santos

Located in the State or “Departamento” of Santander, about an hour south of Bucaramanga, Mesa de los Santos, “The Plateau of the Saints,” was once home to the Guane and is rich in history, culture and beauty. The Mesa butts up against the Chicamocha Canyon, the largest canyon in Colombia.

Hiking along the Mesa is like a journey back in time. Pre-Colombian petroglyphs, caves for spelunking and amazing views. One can almost imagine how it would feel to live here among the multicolored sand and rocks, stunning blue skies and yawning canyons as the Guane once did. Rock climb at perhaps one of the world’s best sites – La Mojarra – enjoy the sweetest pineapple you’ve ever had or just experience some of the most amazing topography in Colombia.

Whatever you brings you to Colombia, you must visit Mesa de Los Santos!

Places to visit in Colombia - Mesa de Los Santos
Mesa de Los Santos in Colombia

4. Palomino

Another one of the great places to visit in Colombia with a beach.

Palomino is a deserted beach, the deltas of two large and beautiful rivers surging with wildlife, a one of a kind mountain range, reflecting the morning sun. In Palomino, you will find all of this and more! A sleepy town northeast of Santa Marta, is where you can go for peace and relaxation.

Plan a day trip to hike part way up the Sierra Nevada and float down the lazy Palomino River always to the Caribbean Ocean. Stay at one of the all inclusive beachfront lodgings and enjoy nighttime walks along the beach where the sand “sparkles” with static electricity at every step! Or just enjoy solitude and sunshine on the beach.

If you are looking to “get away from it all” Palomino is the perfect place in Colombia to refresh your body and soul!

5. Barichara

Barichara is by far one of the most charming small towns or “pueblos” in Colombia. Located in the Santander region, Barichara’s white washed buildings with traditional rock “zocalos”, or baseboards, steps one back in time.

Men in traditional garb linger on park benches while children wander home from school, savoring afternoon ice cream.  Barichara, originally named “Barachalá” by the native Guane, meaning “a good place to rest” – an appropriate description of this lovely town. Don’t miss the “Camino Real Guane,” a path from Barichara to the very small pueblo of Guane.

In this case, the journey is the destination, as the views are incredible and the stone pathway is filled with age old fossils. Barichara is also home to the “Hormigas Culonas” or Big Booty Ants, a delicacy of the region. These ants are farmed locally and are eaten pan fried, as snacks, on steak, in a delicious sauce or just about any way. If you are looking to experience a small, colonial Colombian pueblo with lots of character, don’t miss Barichara!

6. Cartagena de Indias

Located on the Caribbean Colombian coast and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cartagena de Indias, Cartagena for short, is most famous for its preserved downtown, the “ciudad amurallada” or walled city. With horse drawn carriages, colonial architecture, international cuisine and boutique hotels, Cartagena attracts tourists from all over the world.

Historically, Cartagena was the most important Spanish port in South America where all the gold was stored and later shipped to Spain. This lent to the fortification of the city, preventing invasion from English and French official and non-official attacks. Today, the city walls welcome countless national and international tourists making it the most popular tourist destination in Colombia. If you want unsurpassed history, a caribbean feel and a conglomeration of tastes, Cartagena travel delivers!

Places to visit in Colombia
Cartagena in Colombia

7. Coffee Triangle

Usually when one thinks of Colombia, two words come to mind: Coffee and that other “C” word.

The best coffee in the world is grown, handpicked, washed, roasted and packaged here in everything from giant, mass production operations to small, family owned farms. The coffee triangle or “Eje Cafetero” is a large area covering the middle of Colombia. Here the Andes Mountains provide the best topography for growing the many varieties of Arabica coffee. Enjoy a cultural coffee tour or take a tour through a large direct exporting operation, both providing a different look at the business of coffee.

Countless, centenarian Haciendas dot the country side and the hills are lush with coffee, guayacan, mandarin and plantain trees. Starting from the northern most point of Manizales, down to Pereira and then swinging to the east to Armenia, the region hosts many localized customs, traditions and peoples.

Calling all coffee lovers! The coffee triangle is waiting for you! Don’t let it wait long!

8. Valle de Cocora

Wax Palm trees, check. Breathtaking views, check. Tourist trap, double check.

To be fair, Valle de Cocora doesn’t have to be tourist trap but it’s definitely a must places to visit in Colombia. This is why it attracts large flocks of national and international tourists all wanting to see the Colombian national tree and tallest palm trees in the world.

The best time to visit Salento, the jump off point to the valley, is during the week. However, if you’re a professional people watcher or enjoy shopping for handicraft souvenirs in very boutique type shops, Sunday is the day to show up.

The valley is best hiked and one should start early enough to not miss the return Jeeps to town. Head north once you’re at the top and come down the Valle de las Palmas or Valley of the Palms. As the name implies, this is where the majority of the wax palms will be found. The trek down is magnificent with breathtaking views of the entire valley, best to be done as the sun is close to setting. The wax palms shimmer and rustle in the wind. A river runs through the valley and adds a refreshing coldness in the heat of the valley.

Truly a unique place with an even more unique flora.

9. Santiago de Cali

Dubbed the Salsa Capital of the World, Santiago de Cali, Cali for short, is the third largest urban center in Colombia and sits snuggly in the Valle del Cauca, the largest valley in Colombia.

The Feria de Cali, held the last week of each year, is the main tourist attraction for the city with salsa concerts and “rumba” or partying being its main focus. Bull fights, parades and other shows round out the festivities. The nightlife in Cali is world famous and the main reason to come.

If you’re a salsa aficionado, interested in taking lessons from world champions or hanging out in a legendary salsa club, Cali is your go to destination. Every day of the week offers a club or two or more with booming sound systems playing Salsa, Reggeaton, Merengue and even Champeta.

Cali is also a great jump off point to visit Lago Calima, the top kite and windsurfing destination in Colombia and other points South, such as Popayan, San Augustin and Pasto.

With a tropical daytime heat and a cool nightly breeze, it’s a partier’s paradise.

10. Termales Santa Rosa del Cabal

Colombia’s unique geography gifts it with many thermal springs and this one is above and beyond the best places to visit in Colombia for a thermal spring experience. Termales Santa Rosa del Cabal are actually two sites: one more private with a hotel, and another one that is for day users.

Both source all of their water from thermal springs up high in the mountains where the water temperature is at a scorching 190 F/88 C degrees. The hot cascade then merges with  an ice cold waterfall, and is then routed to the baths. At the hotel site, there are private baths that accommodate up to four people, and an outdoor shower for those staying in the original part of the hotel.

The hottest section of the main pool is adjacent to the waterfall  at 100 F/37 C degrees. Pools further from the waterfall are progressively cooler. Next to the “coolest” pool is an ice cold waterfall, a lovely place to cool off and increase circulation after languishing in the warmth of the thermals.

With a full service food section, plenty of space to move around, and numerous pools of healing thermal water, Termales Santa Rosa del Cabal is a perfect way to add relaxation to your Colombia trip.


How to Visit Cusco & Machu Picchu on a Budget

If you ever got astonished while watching a picture of Machu Picchu, I have something to tell you: Reality is 10 times better! 

No picture captures the spirit, energy and breath-taking natural surroundings of the ruins. That is why even if it wasn’t one of the top destinations for backpacking it would still be worth every dollar you spend on that trip. But the whole “adventure” point is to push some limits, for that reason I want to share with you the recommendations from my personal experience and my Peruvian friends so you can make the most of it.

Peru is perfect for travelers on a shoestring budget, and not just the backpacker hordes. Visiting Machu Picchu on a budget is totally possible!

Machu Picchu on a budget
Machu Picchu on a budget

How to Visit Cusco & Machu Picchu on a Budget

Peru’s currency is the nuevo sol (S/) and compared to other South American countries, traveling costs are low – it’s easy to survive on $30-40 USD a day. However, if your budget is slightly tighter, then here are a few tips on how to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu on a budget.

1. Bargain

Bargaining is almost a rule in every small community and town, and Cusco is not the exception. 

a. Hotel: 

If you arrive to Cusco by bus, on the terminal you’ll be approached by several “hotel representatives” that will harass you until you go to their hotel. This is good news for you, because if you play your cards right, they’ll fight against each other with the only competitive advantage they have: Rate. I managed to get a room with private bathroom 3 blocks away from the Main Square for U$D 4 per night (this was in 2007).

Bonus track: Most of them will pay for your taxi to make sure you go to their hotel. 

b. Tours: 

Regardless if you chose to go hiking the Inca Trail or going on a regular tour, you’ll have to go to one of the many travel agencies around the main square. All of them offer the same product, with that in mind walk around, asking and bargaining till you find the best deal. 

c. Handicrafts and regional products: 

I don’t need to explain how this works. Test your negotiating skills and you’ll get an average of 50 to 60% off. You’ll find the best product quality, variety and prices in the small towns along the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

2. Nightlife in Cusco on a budget

All the nightlife in Cusco happens around the main square, where you’ll find several pubs and night clubs. Just choose any random point and start walking around the square (clockwise or counterclockwise works!). Every bar will try to make you go in, that’s why they’ll offer you free admission and a free drink.

All you have to do is go inside, have your drink, spend some time if you like the place and move on to the next bar, where the same thing will happen again. When I and my friends got back to the starting point we thought “OK, that’s it”, so imagine our surprise when all the bars started offering the free drinks again! In our case, we just went back to our favorite, but in theory you can get drunk without spending a dime.

3. Eating in Cusco

Every wise traveler will tell you this “Stay away from the touristic places”. On this case, walking just 3 blocks away from the square will be enough. Find a “picanteria”, that’s where the locals eat. We had a (simple) 3 courses meal for U$D 2,50 (corn snack, soup and ceviche).

4. Churches

An important part of this trip, is visiting Cusco’s stunning baroque churches like the Cathedral, La Merced and Jesuit church to name a few. They boast an artistic patrimony of sculptures and paintings from the Cusco School (XVII century) and earthquake-proof architecture with fascinating shapes. You need to buy the “tourist pass” (U$D 10) to enter the Cathedral, and pay a small admission fee for the other churches, but if you go during the mass, you can enter for free. *

5. Sacsayhuaman

In the times of the Incas, the city of Cusco used to be shaped as a Puma. Sacsayhuaman, which are now beautiful ruins overlooking the city, used to be the Puma’s head. You can enter for free before the opening time (7am)… Of course my choice was to sleep an extra couple of hours!

Depending on how much time you have and which are your interests it may be worth to buy the tourist pass. A one-day partial Cusco ticket is $25 and includes entrance to Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay.

Sacsayhuaman in Cuzco, Peru
Sacsayhuaman in Cuzco, Peru

6. Train to Machu Picchu

At some point, you’ll have to take the train (even if you walk the Inca Trail, you’ll need it to go back). They’ll tempt you to buy the Deluxe Train instead of the backpackers’ one. It certainly is beautiful with those panoramic windows and first class service. But all the fun happens in the backpackers’ train… We found ourselves into a party (literally) with adventurers from all around the world. Don’t miss that experience!

7. Time is money! 

You want to arrive early to Machu Picchu; the deluxe train arrives about 10 AM, which means that that’s the time when everything will be crowded. I’d recommend spending the night in the close town of Aguas Calientes and waking up early in the morning. If you didn’t walk the Inca Trail, resist the temptation of walking up to the ruins just to prove yourself how adventurous you are. That’s a waste of time and energy. Go straight to the ruins by bus, and finish early enough to climb the Huayna Picchu for the most amazing panoramic view of the citadel. You can start your way up until 1PM and they have a limited space for the first 200 people.

8. Free souvenir

Take your passport with you when you visit Machu Picchu and go to the visitor’s center, where they’ll enrich it with a fancy rubber stamp of the ruins.

More posts on Machu Picchu & Cusco


Reasons to Visit Yellowstone National Park in Winter

Home to a great collection of geothermal features, an abundance of wildlife, the most spectacular views and a thick blanket of snow – Yellowstone National Park in winter is an adventurer’s dream.

Plus, there’s less visitors – so you get to experience the true beauty of the park without the crowds!

So, if you’re brave enough to face the cold, windy and snowy days during the months of November through to April, you’re in a for a treat.

If you’re not quite convinced on experiencing a Yellowstone National Park winter, national park located in the western United States, here’s a few reasons why you should.

10 reasons to visit Yellowstone National Park in winter

Yellowstone in winter is a true wonderland.

Here’s why:

1.      The snowy landscapes and geysers

The wintery landscapes in Yellowstone National Park are absolutely breathtaking! From the steam rising up from the geysers and hot springs to the bison trekking through the snow and the frozen streams.

Old Faithful, the nearly 500-year-old geyser in the park, continues to erupt. In winter, the near-boiling water hits the chilly air and falls down in tiny icy crystals and flakes. Watching the geysers erupt against the backdrop of the snow and stunningly blue skies is a sight to behold.

Yellowstone in winter - the geysers
Witness the Yellowstone geysers in winter.

2.      The winter activities

According to the locals, the best way to experience Yellowstone in winter is on a pair of cross-country skis! From cross-country skiing to snowshoeing – there’s plenty of adrenaline pumping winter-based activities to explore in the area.

You’ll find several places nearby who rent gear and several companies specialising in guided trips if you’d rather not go out alone (this is recommend unless you’re extremely experienced in navigating the snowy hills).

3.      Snowmobiling

In mid-December, many of the roads in the park are only open to oversnow travel, meaning that visitors may only enter the park via snowmobile, snowcoach, snowshoe and cross-country ski.

West Yellowstone offers 400 miles of snowmobiling terrain outside Yellowstone National Park on national forest service land. It’s a snowmobilers paradise, with loads of tour companies taking you into the park on the snowmobiles. The terrain caters to all levels, from beginners to experts.

4.      The wildlife

The Yellowstone National Park in winter is still home to a variety of wildlife. The less-crowded park means that you’ll get to observe the wildlife facing the elements of winter without hoards of other tourists surrounding you.

Against the snowy background, the animals are also much easier to spot and you can easily track them in the snow. Expect to see bison, elk, river otters, wolves and other Yellowstone National Park animals.

Plus, you’ll get to see the bison in their winter coats! Huge balls of snow dangle on their beards, making them look even more impressive.

5.      The cozy lodges in Yellowstone National Park

There’s nothing better than curling up on a sofa with a hot drink (or whiskey), a good book, a crackling fireplace nearby and view of a snowy landscape outside. That’s ultimate relaxation, right?

This is exactly what you’ll get when you visit Yellowstone in winter. Note that not all lodges stay open during the winter months (and due to COVID restrictions, a few more might be closed this year). Best is to check out the full list of Yellowstone accommodation to see what is available.

6.      The quiet, peaceful solitude

Not many people visit Yellowstone in winter, which means that you get to truly experience the natural beauty completely on your own. In the winter, the park is nothing but miles of peaceful solitude in the wilderness.

It’s the perfect winter escape if you want to disconnect from humans, unplug your laptop and switch off your phone.

And since the park is primarily accessed via guided oversnow transport, you get experience Yellowstone’s canyons, woods, wildlife and hydrothermal forces in a much more intimate way.

7.      The Yellowstone holiday traditions

If you love the traditions that come with the holidays, then you’ll still get to experience the magic of the season in Yellowstone. Some of the popular traditions include candlelight Christmas Eve services in the Mammoth Chapel, tree lighting on Officer’s Row and festive Christmas dinners held at the local lodges.

If you’re in the area for New Years, then you’ll get to ring in the new year at Old Faithful, where everyone heads out to the geyser viewing area shortly after midnight to watch the first eruption of the year.

8.      Practice your snow photography

With so much natural scenery around you, Yellowstone in winter is an ideal spot to practice your snow photography skills.

The landscapes are filled with contrasts – from clear blue skies to snowy fields, steamy geysers and woolly animals. You can shoot these images on your own or join one of the guide-led photo safaris on offer.

9.      Witness the star-filled night sky

Yellowstone comes alive at night – from the parks most well-known creatures coming out to play to the star-filled sky lighting up the land.

To witness this spectacular scene, you need to join one of the nighttime snowcoach tours. The tours take you past the hissing geysers and passing wildlife and eventually stops for you to get out and witness the beauty above you. The countless stars on display will leave you in awe.

10.  Take a dip in a hot spring

This one is for the true adrenaline junkies, or the people who just want to say ‘I took in a dip in a hot spring in below zero degrees’.

The naturally heated waters of the hot springs won’t freeze, even during the coldest of winters. Which leaves for a fun opportunity to take a dip any time of year! The water is so warm, that no matter how cold it is outside, you’ll be so comfortable that you won’t want to get out.

Look out for the spot where the Boiling River meets the Gardner River, about two miles north of Mammoth. This is a popular swimming spot during the summer months but is sparsely visited in the winter months – making it one of the more unique experiences of a Yellowstone National Park winter.

Ready to start planning your adventure in Yellowstone National Park in winter?


Why You Should Visit Murcia, Spain

Located on the Mediterranean coast, the vibrant city of Murcia truly comes alive with the help of its lively architectural heritage and energetic cultural atmosphere.

Although it’s a lesser-known city of Spain, there are a number of memorable things to do in Murcia, things to see and several Murcia attractions that will prove that this city really is one of Spain’s most underrated gems.

So, why visit Murcia?

Here’s a few reasons…

Murcia beach, Spain
Murcia beach, Spain

Top reasons to visit Murcia, Spain

Your authentic Spanish experience begins now … and thankfully it comes without the usual tourist crowds. 

The beautiful Murcia beaches 

For those of you that consider yourselves to be sunshine lovers, you’ll be happy to know that Murcia experiences over 3000 hours of sunshine every single year. What’s better is that one of the main Murcia attractions is, without a doubt, its picturesque beaches.

Combine the glorious sunshine of Murcia with its unspoiled sands and refreshing turquoise waters and you have officially located paradise. 

With the glistening city sharing its glorious sunlight with you, meandering through the Cape Palos peninsular is a definite sun worshipper’s dream. For those looking for a picturesque leisurely walk, strolling through Cala Cerrada and Calarreona promises exceptional panoramic views of the shoreline.

If you have time, we also thoroughly suggest visiting the southern part of Costa Blanca that is delicately dotted with a number of energetic and colourful towns. Whilst there, make sure to head over to Torre de la Horadada where a number of quaint beaches await you.

The culinary delights

For all the foodies at heart, Murcia truly is your culinary haven

This city, with its labyrinthine streets, is heavily populated with a number of high-end dining experiences, Michelin-star restaurants and lively tapas bars that will tantalise those tastebuds. 

For those of you looking for a more authentic eating experience, you will appreciate that the city of Murcia also offers a number of local ‘holes-in-the-wall’ and cafes that serve traditional delicacies and dishes. From seafood stews and paella to old-style chorizo and fried squid, you’ll know that your food has been prepared following authentic generational family recipes. 

In short: homemade Spanish foods truly are a genuine Murcia attraction!

Now for some name-dropping!

If you aren’t sure where to start when it comes to sampling all the food Murcia has to offer, don’t panic, we’ve got you covered! We suggest heading out to Plaza de Las Flores. This square has a variety of diverse food selections that will appease even the pickiest of eaters. While you’re there, you have to try one of Murcia’s traditional pies at Zaher bar. Make sure to order your pie with one of their local ciders … you won’t regret it! And if you have a serious hankering for seafood, courtesy of the local nearby harbours, La Tapa restaurant is where you’ll want to be.

The vibrant villages

If you currently have a list of things to see in Murcia, your itinerary isn’t complete unless you have ‘visit local villages’ on it.

In a city where no one is ever rushed (note: it did take them 330 years to build their cathedral), you can see how their continued patience and dedication to exceptional detail has contributed to their picturesque villages. Known, and adored, for the whitewashed buildings that line the rugged hillsides, Murcia’s quaint and cobbled streets are just another charming attraction on offer.

One of the things you have to see in Murcia is the Ricote Valley journey from Archena to Blanca. This truly is where mother nature shows off with the help of her bold cliffs, luscious lemon groves and crystal-clear waters. But her visual riches don’t end there. Murcia also has historical beauties including its castles that can be found along Alamha, Mula and Lorca where their ancient charm and ruins remain intact. 

The main takeaway here: bring your camera and a few portable batteries – you’re going to need them!

The fresh produce

There may be a number of things to see in Murcia, but there are also a number of things that you have to taste too! And well, to the delight of many, Murcia has done away with the intrusive fast-food chains (you’ll actually have to search for a McDonalds) and embraced wholesome and fresh eating experiences instead. 

All of your culinary expeditions in Murcia will prove one thing: this sun-drenched city produces unimaginable amounts of fresh produce. In fact, picture your local food market back home and increase its size by 20 … that’s North and West Murcia for you!

Murcia’s agricultural lands offer locals an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. From oranges to lemons, tomatoes and lettuce, it truly is an agricultural utopia. For this reason, many locals have even referred to the lush and giving lands of Murcia as La Huerta de Europa, which translates to The Market Garden of Europe!

The many Murcia attractions

When it comes to finding things to do in Murcia, you are in for quite the selection. First up? Water activities. With warm waters that run along the Mediterranean, visitors to the city’s shoreline will be able to explore their more adventurous side, with windsurfing, jet skiing and water-skiing being on offer. 

For those of you that prefer the water from a safe distance, you will appreciate the conservational areas, including the Tenerife which is a must-visit of the Murcia attractions. You can also head straight for the natural parklands and follow the pine-scented walking trails or get your heart racing through the rosemary lined hiking trails of the Santuario de la Fuensanta that will feature perfectly on your current Instagram page. 

When it comes to finding things to do in Murcia, just know that this city is quite the show-off. If you are looking to experience exceptional natural beauty, taste authentic cuisine and take in various historical wonders – Murcia is the place to be!

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