Archive for the ‘Cultural travel’ Category

A Modern Safari Fit for a King or Queen

The latest Netflix series on our minds (and ‘recently watched’ lists) has without a doubt renewed an interest in the royals and their connection to Africa. andBeyond has created a safari to give guests a taste of the royal treatment…

Kenya and The Crown

cottars-1920s-camp

Cottars 1920s Camp

Home of the classic safari, Kenya has an undeniable connection to Britain’s colonial era with its historical aura of elegance and grandeur. In fact, as documented in the recent television series, it was in Kenya that Queen Elizabeth first received the news of the death of her father, King George, and of her ascension to the throne. Inspired by this and the many other connections between the royal family and this former colonial stronghold, andBeyond has created a modern safari fit for a queen called Kenya and the Crown.

kenya-safari-masai-mara-tours

Lunch with the Masai Mara

This grand itinerary visits places made famous by explorers and royals of old, including special touches like vintage vehicles, which will take the intrepid traveler on a journey far back in time.  andBeyond, one of the world’s leading luxury experiential travel companies, has designed personalized high-end tours in 15 countries in Africa, five in Asia, and four in South America. The company also owns and operates 31 extraordinary safari lodges and camps, which positively impact more than 9 million acres of wildlife land . Taking exceptional care of its guests in order to make a difference; its commitment to sustainable responsible travel, conservation and community empowerment has been globally recognized with multiple awards over the years.

kenya-masai-safari-tours-migration

A Kenyan Migration Adventure

Highlights of the itinerary:

  • Stay in the famous Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, host to characters such as Theodore Roosevelt on his epic 1909 safari Walk in the footsteps of legends on an historical tour of Nairobi, visiting sites such as the Railway Museum and Karen Blixen’s home.
  • Relax in the lovingly maintained colonial mansion of Giraffe Manor.
  • Experience the wilderness of Tsavo from the luxury private camp inspired by none other than the honorable Denys Finch-Hatton of ‘Out of Africa’ fame.
  • Feel the thrill of walking where the Tsavo man-eating lions once roamed.
  • Ride in a Vintage 1928 International SS motor Truck as driven by Robert Redford in the film ‘Out of Africa.’
  • Explore the Masai Mara celebrating the era of classic luxury at Cottar’s 1920 which is reminiscent of the 1920s.
  • Enjoy a Heliflip to Lake Rutundu for a champagne breakfast where Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton.
  • The obviously excellent photographic opportunities throughout this historical journey.
luxury-africa-safrai-kenya-lewa-downs

The luxurious accommodations of Lewa Downs

Rates:

  • January 1, 2017 – December 31, 2017    
  • Starting from $19,551 USD per person sharing
  • 10 Days / 9 Nights

Make the Most of the Adventure:

Guests can add to this Kenyan adventure by hopping across the border to Uganda, putting them within reach of the once-in-a-lifetime experience of tracking Gorillas and taking them to the end of the ‘Lunatic Line’ in Kampala.

Complement the Northern section by spending a few nights on Lake Victoria – andBeyond’s travel experts can tailor-make the itinerary.

Specially Created for:

  • History buffs
  • Romance
  • Wildlife enthusiasts
  • Avid photographers

A Luxurious Kenyan Safari fit for a King or Queen

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Best Destinations for Ecotourism

Montserrat Volcano

Montserrat Volcano

Ecotourism is no longer trend that started in the 90’s to describe responsible travel to largely untouched areas. Now, it has largely realized its aim by creating an industry of conservation that offers clear benefits to the local community.  Recently, it’s become even more popular as traveler demand has driven a desire for destinations that are eco-friendly and modeled after sustainable practices. Plus, there’s nature and for those who can afford it, they want to escape. These destinations also often offer a bit more in terms of cultural activities and a means to learn more about the soul enriching ways of a local community.

With this in mind, we’re featuring three destinations that inspire: Montserrat, Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica –  with unspoiled beaches, uninhabited areas, and archeological sites that can only be accessed by hiking, biking or kayaking.

Lime Tree Cottage 1

Lime Tree Cottage – Montserrat

MONTSERRAT

With its mountainous terrain, hiking the trails on Montserrat is the best way to see the untouched areas of the island. Additionally, diving excursions allow visitors the unique opportunity to see beautiful volcanic rock formations and vibrant marine life that now thrives after the 1995 eruption of the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano.

Montserrat’s villas offer prime accommodations for couples, families, friends and even colleagues who long for an affordable upmarket Caribbean getaway with all the amenities of home. The secluded destination provide visitors with the ideal opportunity to experience a traditional Caribbean vacation in tranquil surroundings and away from large chain resorts, crowded beaches and traffic-jammed streets.

Most of the villas offer airport and ferry transfers, car rentals, stocked kitchens, housekeepers, baby-sitting services, cooks, and  villa-specific organized activities during your stay.

http://www.visitmontserrat.com/villas/

Rates start @USD $1,000/per week

From mid-April through mid-November for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom villa with a housekeeper, swimming pool, wet bar, wireless internet, washer and dryer. These villas are perfect for visitors looking to immerse in Montserrat’s volcano-viewing experience (considered a modern-day Pompeii), rich Irish heritage, bird-watching, hiking trails, aquatic adventures and more.

Argyle Waterfall_Main Ridge Rainforest

Argyle Waterfall – Trinidad & Tobago

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Unlike its Caribbean counterparts, Trinidad & Tobago’s biodiversity is most similar to that of Venezuela. The best way to see its local flora and fauna is by hiking through its many trails, especially the Northern Mountain Range of Trinidad that was once attached to South America and the Main Ridge Rainforest in Tobago, the oldest protected reserve in the western hemisphere. The underwater scenery in Tobago is just as spectacular as it boasts more than 300 different species of coral, especially the largest brain coral in the world.

brain coral - credit Oswin Browne.jpg

Brain Coral (c) Oswin Browne

Acajou Hotel, Trinidad

This small, eco-friendly, family run hotel is situated in a little fishing village called Grande Riviere located on the beautiful and dramatic northern Coast of Trinidad. Flanked by the wide expanse of vegetation on the steep hills of the Northern range, Acajou (the French for ‘tropical wood’) offers travelers the opportunity to be one with nature, view it’s beauty in its simple majesty, rest to the soothing rhythms of the ocean, meditate on its treasures or simply have a unique candlelight dinner. The hotel is built as a group of traditional cottages nestled between the beach, a crystal clear river and mountains covered by lush rainforest. Influenced by Indonesian, Polynesian and Japanese architecture, the cabins are made of local and imported woods, including bamboo and are designed to create a feeling of complete privacy.

www.acajoutrinidad.com or call 868.670.3771

Asa Wright Nature Center Lodge, Trinidad

The original estate house of the former coffee-cocoa-citrus plantation has been beautifully remodeled over the years as a comfortable headquarters where guests gather to watch the incredible bird-life from the fabled verandah. Your observation time there is punctuated by a high tea in the afternoon and ends with a traditional complimentary rum punch cocktail as the sun sets over the Arima Valley. This main house and its several cottages nestled nearby in the lush flower-filled grounds are your home for one of the world’s best birding adventures. Not your classic Caribbean resort, the Centre’s “swimming pool” is a natural grotto on a free-running rain forest stream where guests can relax and escape from the tropical heat. All of the cottages feature rooms with private verandahs and guests can also retreat to their private oasis to observe the brilliantly colored birds found on the Centre grounds.

www.asawright.org

Cuffie River Nature Retreat and Ecolodge, Tobago

Located on the island of Tobago, this small yet intimate lodge is equipped with ten rooms, two of which are executive suites. Each has been tastefully furnished with private balcony. The design of the building has been carefully chosen to facilitate natural lights and air currents. Low wattage bulbs and solar lighting are also used throughout the grounds.  Conservation of water is of great importance given that the property uses rain and spring fed systems and successful practices have included short flushing toilets, rationalized washing and towel changes only when indicated by guests. To further maintain its natural ambiance smooth faced clay blocks and tile are used while furniture and other fixtures are all made from locally manufactured products. The lodge is situated on the edge of Tobago’s forest-the oldest in the western hemisphere. It is surrounded by bamboo groves, fresh water springs, exotic flowers and wildlife.

www.cuffieriver.com or call 868.660.0505

Footprints Eco Resort and Spa, Tobago

This 62-acre property is a designated nature preserve with hiking and bird watching trails galore. With the use of materials such as teak, wallaba slabs, and native recycled hardwood the resort has maximized the consumption of local, yet natural building materials. All rooms are equipped with solar water heaters, gas stoves and photovoltaic lighting. The hotel grows fresh organic herbs and vegetables throughout the property and prepares breads, ice creams, cakes, sauces, and even condiments, fresh daily. Surrounded by the virtually untouched Culloden Reef that begins a few feet from the shoreline of the property and is available for guests to snorkel and scuba dive, the resort offers the comfort of a modern hotel in a purely natural setting.

http://footprintsecoresort.com 

Footprints also makes properties as environmentally sensitive, and in connection with our environment, as possible by:

• Using traditional architecture, and reclaimed, recycled and local materials to a maximum

• Waste management  for grey water, runoff water, sewerage waste, and solid waste

• Fresh water conservation measures including sea water pools

• Kitchen waste and yard waste composting to reduce solid waste and provide organic fertilizer for gardens

• In-house organic garden produces fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, chicken, and honey for restaurant use to reduce food miles

• Bird and butterfly gardens with local wildflowers, fruit, food, and forest trees to attract wildlife and support the recovery of beneficial insects, such as butterflies and honeybees

• Support for local fishermen and farmers by showcasing local ingredients and traditional cuisine.

As they say, “Food shares the story of our culture through a medium that everyone can enjoy.”

Kariwak Holistic Haven Hotel, Tobago

A holistic haven and hotel, Kariwak Village has carved a distinctive niche with its award winning 2 acre garden bursting with tropical shrubs, foliage and flowering trees filled with bird song, dominated by the thatched roof ajoupa and its teak floor … the venue for Tai Chi, yoga, gentle stretching exercises, Buddhist meditation sessions and similar holistic activities. The Kariwak kitchen is supplied with abundant fresh herbs from the garden, those same herbs are lovingly transformed into delicious Caribbean meals which are served with a friendly smile in the open air restaurant.

www.kariwak.com or call 868.639.8442

Diving in Costa Rica

Diving in Costa Rica

COSTA RICA

Costa Rica’s ecotourism is one that enthusiasts cannot miss, featuring lush forests, thriving ecosystems and breathtaking waterfalls only accessible by foot. Just like Montserrat, Costa Rica has underwater volcanic rock formations which are home to various species of fish, rays, turtles and white-tip reef sharks alongside vibrant coral reefs.

Environmental sustainability is at the heart of Costa Rica’s tourism industry. For that reason, the Costa Rica Tourism Board introduced the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program in 1997. This program differentiates businesses of the tourism sector based on the degree to which they comply with a sustainable model of natural, cultural, social and economic resource management. Visitors who choose to visit CST designated tourism companies such as hotels, tour operators and car rental companies support businesses that take proactive measures to avoid the negative impacts on the environment, culture and society. There are currently 346 hotel, tour operators, car rental agencies and theme parks certified under the program here, so check it out!

http://www.visitcostarica.com/ict/paginas/sostenibilidad.asp?tab=0

Volunteers Rebuild Nepal, Brick by Brick

nepal travel

One year has passed since the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in April last year. While Nepal is doing everything it can to recover and rebuild, the country is still in need of significant aid and resources.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, Projects Abroad initiated a Disaster Relief Project to assist with the recovery process. Since the project began in June 2015, hundreds of Projects Abroad volunteers have made incredible progress in helping with the organization’s goal of restoring a safe learning environment for children in the Kathmandu Valley. Currently volunteers’ efforts are focused on reconstructing Yashaswi Gurukul English Secondary School, the sixth Disaster Relief site to date. Their help has been invaluable.

volunteer nepal

When the work at Yashaswi Gurukul is completed, the new building will also serve another purpose. As aftershocks continue even nine months later, and the fear of another large-scale quake remains, the school building will be able to serve as a safe gathering space for the local community, in case of further disaster. Projects Abroad staff estimate that work at this site will conclude in the next month or so, and then volunteers will move on to the next site where they are desperately needed.

Projects Abroad has made a commitment, not only through Disaster Relief but also through Teaching and Care Projects, to restore stability to the education of young students. In working with dedicated local experts and volunteers, the organization is striving to get Nepalese communities back on their feet, brick by brick!

For more information on how to get involved yourself with Disaster Relief work in Nepal, have a look here:

www.projects-abroad.org/volunteer-projects/building/disaster-relief/volunteer-nepal

 

Honduras: An Eco-Resort’s Latest Organic Offering

The Lodge at Pico Bonito’s New Organic Spa and More…

Honduras Eco Hotel

Dinner at The Lodge at Pico Bonito (c) Small Luxury Hotels of the World

We’re back from the holidays and we’re already ready to plan our next vacation. You too? If getting back to the grind is inspiring daydreams of ditching it all for a trip away from it all, we have a great suggestion for you…

The majestic jungles of Honduras!

Because really… there’s nothing like being in the middle of the glorious jungle filled with over 40 different types of tropical butterflies, toucans, motmots, and miles of private trails through canyons, waterfalls, and swimming holes. If that’s not reason enough, how about a mystical Temazcal (Mayan sauna) in the center of the jungle to get your trip – and your soul – steered in the right direction?

The Pool at Pico Bonito

The Pool at Pico Bonito (c) Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Temazcal, which comes from the Nahuatl Word temacalli, means ‘house of heat.’ Originating in the pre-Hispanic indigenous culture in Mesoamerica, legend has it that the dome shape of the steam house represents Mother Earth’s womb, and those taking part in a Temazcal are said to experience a rebirth.

Honduras’ top eco-resort, The Lodge at Pico Bonito, is inviting travelers to abandon the stresses of home, ignite a new outlook on life, and increase circulation of the senses with their new organic spa offerings and we think it sounds like an excellent idea. It’s also been named one of the top 50 eco-lodges by National Geographic Traveler.

Honduras Eco Resort Lodge Pico Bonito

The Lodge at Pico Bonita’s Standard Room in the Center of the Jungle

The new outdoor spa, set to debut on January 15th, will have three circular cabins on stilts to maintain balance and harmony with the natural energies of the environment (one cabin for individual massage, one cabin for couples massage, one cabin with a Vichy shower, one Temazcal, and a nearby plunge pool).

Here some just a few deliciously organic spa offerings:

Revitalizing Cotinga, in the Temazcal, begins with an aromatic steam therapy to oxygenate the pores of your skin. The treatment continues in their Vichy shower with a pineapple exfoliation and a therapeutic anti-inflammatory chamomile mud wrap. (Note: Temazcal rituals need two people per session so bring along your partner for a truly liberating couples experience)

Aromatherapy, or Essential Oil therapy, is also on offer. Taking a holistic approach of using extracts from plants to balance, harmonize and improve the mind, body and soul by using essential oils such as spruce, rosewood spruce, rosewood, frankincense, and blue tansy. Detox relaxes muscles, improves circulation and relieves joint pain by using essential oils such basil, grapefruit, cypress, marjoram, mint, and lavender to drain and remove toxins.

Organic spa treatment

Organic Ingredients Good Enough to Eat!

Organic Fruit Facials incorporate seasonal fruits like cucumber, melon, banana, lychee, papaya, pineapple and passion fruit, along with cacao and honey, to refreshen your face. The best part? Their 50-minute facial only costs US $45. For those feeling even more romantic, there’s the Romantic Rio Coloradito Treatment, a lavender-fused massage to delete back and neck tensions from all those days sitting at the computer. It’s followed with a warm foot purification scrub (using honey and flowers for her and herbs for him) while sipping on a delicious tea from local fruits and aphrodisiac spices.

Honduran Rafting Excursion!

Honduran Rafting Excursion! (c) Small Luxury Hotels of the World

The eco-lodge is worth the escape alone. A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World™, its five-star amenities are set on the edge of Honduras’ second largest National Park, ten miles from La Ceiba. There’s a trio of four-story observation decks overlooking the jungle canopy and adventures like white water rafting and jungle safaris through protected mangroves make it an unforgettable experience. Plus, with only 22 private cabins, it’s the perfect place to escape city life, in eco-chic style.

www.picobonito.com 

The Silk Road Awaits

The People of Tibet at a Horse Festival (c) Antoine Taveneaux

The People of Tibet at a Horse Festival (c) Antoine Taveneaux

We’re anxious to get ourselves to Tibet so when we saw this tour, we had to share.

MIR Corp is offering a unique 18-day Silk Road and Tibet Tour exploring the Tibetan Plateau on a splendid circular route that embraces the sacred cities of Tsetang, Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse.  Guests will drive from Lhasa through the Tibetan highlands to sacred Yamdrok Lake, hike from hillside Pabonka Monastery to the Chupsang Nunnery, ride the high-altitude train from Lhasa to Lanzhou, and enjoy an authentic Uighur meal served in a private Kashgar home.

Here is the full itinerary

Days 1-2: Beijing

Spend a night in Beijing, then board a flight to the Tibetan Plateau.

Days 3-8: Tsetang, Lhasa, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Shigatse

Spend six incredible days exploring remote corners of rural Tibet. Spend a night in Tsetang and visit the country’s first monastery, its first palace and the Yarlung Valley, home of its early kings. Continue to Lhasa and experience Tibetan culture at the massive UNESCO-listed Potala Palace, where yak-butter candles flicker in front of thousands of altars. Wander Barkhor Market, where you can bargain for yak-wool boots or Tibetan fur hats trimmed with brocade. Venture into the valley where Chupsang Nunnery is hidden. Take a breathtaking drive over Khampa Pass at 15,700 feet, to Gyantse’s celebrated Kumbum, stopping to enjoy the views from the shores of turquoise Yamdrok Lake, said to be a goddess incarnate. Drive to Shigatse to discover the traditional home of the Panchen Lamas, Tashilhunpo Monastery, whose gleaming golden roof can be seen flashing from afar.

Days 9-13: High-altitude railway, Lanzhou, Dunhuang

From Lhasa, board the high-altitude train down to Lanzhou, passing by Tangula Station, the world’s highest railroad station. In Lanzhou, visit the Gansu Provincial Museum to admire the iconic bronze Flying Horse, perfectly balanced atop a bird. Fly to Dunhuang, founded in 111 BC, where the Mogao Buddhist Caves were created across ten centuries by Silk Road travelers, pilgrims and artists. Visit Crescent Moon Lake, bubbling up in the midst of the Taklamakan Desert sand dunes at the foot of Mingsha (Echoing Sands) Mountain, and take a short camel ride.

Days 14-18: Urumqi, Turpan, Kashgar

Fly to Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, and drive to Turpan, a welcome oasis on the northern Silk Road. The sweet wine grapes cultivated in Turpan are irrigated with a 2,000-year-old gravity-fed system that brings water from the glaciers of the Tien Shan. Explore the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, begun in 366 AD when a Buddhist monk from India scooped out the compacted red sand of the riverbank to form the first cave. Investigate the underground tombs of Astana and the ruins of ancient Gaochang. Tour Kashgar, the 2,000-year-old fabled city that greeted Marco Polo as he entered the Middle Kingdom. Browse its Sunday animal market, where you can purchase livestock for meat, milk or transportation, and explore the remnants of Kashgar’s atmospheric Old Town before a meal in a private home.

The tour starts at $5,895 and is happening May 16-June 3, 2014 and September 26-October 13, 2014.

So what are you waiting for? Time to feel the power of Tibetan enlightenment.

http://www.mircorp.com/tour_csrt.asp

Escape to La Paz!

Does that look like peace enough to you?

Does that look like peace enough to you?

La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico means ‘Peace’ and we must admit, La Paz has the upper hand when it comes to “off-the-beaten path” activities. We’ve been there and can attest to that. From swimming with sea lions to sipping champagne, there’s no shortage of R&R or adventure.

Hidden away on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula approximately 135 miles north of Cabo San Lucas on the Sea of Cortez, the city is a gateway to one of the world’s most unique and bountiful ecosystems, declared a World Heritage Site and dubbed by French marine biologist Jacques Cousteau ‘the aquarium of the world’.

Exploring the aquarium of the world

Exploring the aquarium of the world

The city’s rich cultural history, striking natural wonders, white sand beaches, turquoise waters and world-class sports fishing have made it a magnet for romantics seeking a secluded getaway, outdoor enthusiasts looking for adventure and families in search of a kid-friendly place to explore. Outside selected La Paz as best weekend escape of 2013 and Beautiful Bride as one of the top six honeymoon destinations for San Diegans. Direct flights are available from Los Angeles on Aeromexico, while a new four-lane highway makes the drive from Cabo San Lucas only 90 minutes.

A little whale watching up close for the adventurer in you...

A little whale watching up close for the adventurer in you…

For The Adventurer

Adventure is a big draw for experiential travelers who look to connect with the essence of their destination. The waters surrounding La Paz have one of the world’s most diverse marine ecosystems whose exceptional number of fish species-891, 90 of them endemic-has earned the area a World Heritage Site distinction.

Visitors can dive deep into the culture and right into El Bajo, a popular dive site known for schooling hammerheads, amber jacks, tuna, and giant Pacific mantas; or explore Espiritu Santo, a UNESCO protected gem that boasts approximately 23,800 acres of untouched ecosystems.

From mid December to late March visitors can experience the migration of gray whales, which swim approximately 5,000 miles from the Artic and North Atlantic to mate or give birth in the shallow lagoons of Magdalena Bay-approximately two and a half hours from La Paz.  For adrenaline junkies looking for some action, a whale shark encounter is the perfect end to a dive trip. These gentle filter feeding giants, weighing in at 79,000 pounds, are the largest fish in the world and can sometimes surpass 40 feet in length.

Approximately 45 minutes south of the city, travelers can visit a 124-acre cactus sanctuary dedicated to the conservation of the dozen species native endemic to Baja Sur region.  North of the city, trails lead hikers to secluded and pristine beaches, showcasing one of the most impressive sights in La Paz-the juxtaposition of the sea and desert.

The Malecon

The Malecon

For Families

If you are traveling with kids, Los Islotes, a colony of approximately 500 Californian brown sea lions, is a must-see. The playful pups are a fun and special treat for snorkelers and even the most seasoned divers.

La Paz is home to miles of virgin coastline, with dozens of white-sand beaches whose calm, crystalline waters are perfect for kayaking, snorkeling, paddle boarding and swimming. El Tesoro, a bay beach surrounded by mountains, is the perfect beach for kids as it boasts calm and shallow waters, and also features a small playground and restaurant. Coromuel, the first beach on La Paz’s scenic road, is where many families spend their weekends. The beach, lined with palapas (tiki huts), offers Jet Skis for rent and a variety of equipment for water sports.

Balandra, La Paz’s most famous beach, is the ultimate place for relaxation and known worldwide for its spectacular views of white-sand mountains and the bright blue sea. Balandra’s waters are so shallow and calm bathers can walk to the other side of the bay. Balandra is also home to El Hongo, La Paz’s signature mushroom-shaped rock formation.

The century old buildings and bustling boardwalk with ice cream stands, also offer a nice cultural component to any family vacation. The Regional Anthropology and History Museum located in the heart of the city displays an interesting collection of fossils and cave paintings that give insight to the daily lives of the town’s first dwellers.

Fresh ceviche at Azul Marino

Fresh ceviche at Azul Marino

For The Foodie

For those who live to eat, La Paz has a number of restaurants ready to satisfy the even the most discerning palates.

Stroll down the Malecon (boardwalk) to find an array of colorful choices. For starters there is El Bismarkcito, a local favorite popular for its fish dipping sauce, and shrimp tacos. A block away from the boardwalk, travelers can spot the fisherman delivering his catch of the day to El Empanada, a friendly spot famous for its chocolatas, or chocolate clams, a delicacy harvested from the waters of the Sea of Cortez whose peculiar name stems from their brown-colored shells.

Local chefs like Cristina Kiewek, from CostaBaja Resort and Spa’s resort award-winning restaurant Azul Marino, have created menus based off traditional Mexican recipes with an added global flare.

Kiewek’s newest venture, Nim, situated in downtown La Paz, has been well-received since it’s opening in in October. Built on an old historic home with large open spaces and ample natural light, the restaurant boasts a variety of international plates such as New Orleans style oysters, Vietnamese pho, Mediterranean Carpaccio, Moroccan lamb and traditional crowd-pleasers like guacamole and Mexican sopes (hand-made, thick corn tortillas with meat toppings).

Nim’s sister restaurant Azul Marino offers its guests a gourmet atmosphere, and the best Asian-fusion in town (think melt-in-your-mouth summer rolls and yellowtail tartare with hints of ginger!).

Fresh fish at Luna Bruja (c) Baja.com

Fresh fish at Luna Bruja (c) Baja.com

Pichilingue, a five-minute drive from El Tesoro, is home to two famous seafood restaurants, Restaurant Playa Pichilingue and Luna Bruja Restaurant. Its shallow, calm waters are perfect for kayaking and paddleboarding, a great way to feel less guilty after indulging in all of La Paz’s delicacies.

Great. Now I want to go back all over again!

Truffle Hunting, Wine Tasting, and Bike Riding in Piedmont!

That's a truffle. Don't get any funny ideas.

That’s a truffle. Don’t get any funny ideas.

A Truffle huntin’ we will go, a truffle huntin’ we will go!

Who wants to wine taste, bike ride AND hunt for truffles? Who wouldn’t?

Ciclismo Classico, a leading outfitter of cycling vacations around the globe, is offering a food and wine focused Italy cycling tour in which guests stay in family-run luxury hotels, dine at the best local restaurants, and pedal through the vineyards and villages of Piedmont.

Gavi

Gavi

The most important vineyard centers of Gavi, Acqui Terme, Alba, lower Monferrato and Turin serve as the focal points of this eight-day tour. On exclusive winery visits, local experts discuss the tradition of winemaking and the nuances of the area’s many microclimates that give the wine its prized sophistication. Who wouldn’t want to learn about wines in Italy too? With great wine comes cuisine that includes a blend of Northern Italian and French influences, with the truffle and mushrooms as seasonal key players. Other highlights include: hunting truffles with local truffle hunter, biking emerald valleys & vineyard-laden hillsides, exclusive wine tastings and sumptuous dinners.

Riding through vineyards

Riding through vineyards

This tour happens Oct 12 – 19, 2013 and starts at $4,395 so it’s not too late to get on it!

This intermediate Piedmont bike tour covers 250 total miles and averages 40 miles per day. The trip starts with a ride from Gavi to Acqui Terme, passing Castles of Monferrato, a hilly area where each village is protected by a castle. The vineyards of Dolcetto, Cortese, and Moscato are the landmarks of this area. Fantastic food, fine wine, and a daily workout really makes this an ideal Italy holiday.

Guests cruise the vineyards of Barolo and Monforte, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Langhe Area. Along the way, Carlosa local truffle hunter will give a special demonstration with his loyal dogLara. The months of October and November see the frenzy and competition of truffle season as both hunters and buyers compete to find the wonderful fungi. Alba is the truffle capital of Italy and throughout each weekend of both months, it hosts truffle mayhem with the White Truffle World Auction and the Truffle of the Year. The International Truffle Fair is happening Oct 12 – Nov 17, 2013.

Ah, Piedmont...

Ah, Piedmont…

The landscape offers a patchwork series of vineyards as well as fruit and nut tree farms. Guests continue riding north, entering the round hills area of Monferrato. On the final day, riders head west toward Turin, capital city of Piedmont. Along the way, the route offers a rollercoaster ride up and down the lower hills of Monferrato. The last climb approaches Superga, an important monument in the hearth of all the “turineis.” From here a magnificent panorama of the 2006 Olympic site appears.

For more information check out: Italy cycling tours or visit http://www.ciclismoclassico.com

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