Posts Tagged ‘Cultural travel’

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 

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Belize’s Exotic Eco-Adventures

Belize's Xunantunich Ruins

There are many exotic sights and extraordinary wonders to be witnessed across the far flung destinations on the planet, but people rarely have the time to travel to the remote reaches of the world.  It’s hard enough to find a long weekend, let alone the trips that take to you to beaches unexplored or ruins buried in the jungle. So, with that in mind, when we heard about Absolute Belize we wanted to hear more. Absolute Belize specializes in crafting spectacular and unique travel itineraries and creating authentic Belizean experiences for travelers who are seeking something out of the ordinary. Another great selling point…  for Americans, Belize is a much shorter flight and an English speaking destination.

Whale Sharks in Belize

For those who are searching for the best diving in the world and have always wanted to witness the Great Barrier Reef, Absolute Belize also offers itineraries to experience the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere and three of the four major atolls in the Caribbean, including the famous Blue Hole. During the full moons between March and June, Whale Sharks, usually seen in South Africa or Indonesia, migrate off the coast of Belize. Whale Sharks are the world’s largest fish, growing to an enormous 50 feet in length. Witnessing these magnificent creatures is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  The Belizean waters are teeming with marine life in all sizes and shapes, including 70 types of hard corals and nearly 500 species of fish – truly a diver’s paradise.

The Lodge at Chaa Creek

People talk about the 100-year anniversary of the rediscover of Machu Picchu and the fascinating Incan culture, but December 2012 is also the end of the Mayan calendar so it would also be an amazing time to see the Mayan sites in Belize. The Maya civilization spread into the area of Belize between 1500BC and 200AD and flourished until about 1200AD. Several major archeological sites—notably Caracol, Lamanai, Lubaantun, Altun Ha, and Xunantunich—reflect the advanced civilization.

A Full Moon under Belize Skies

Despite being an endangered species, Manatees are also widely present in the waters of Belize. Swallow Caye has been declared a wildlife sanctuary and serves to protect the manatees and other marine life that call this habitat home.

An Aerial View of Ambergris Caye, Belize

Is seeing the Aurora Borealis a dream?  What about an equally spectacular light show? A nighttime snorkel off the island of Ambergris Caye is not to be missed – view the nocturnal creatures of the underwater world and witness them flashing their bioluminescence, where hundreds of species of fish and invertebrates use chemicals within their bodies to produce light.

All of these amazing adventures in one nearby destination! And great resorts to stay at as well.

Black Jaguars of Belize

Widely reputed as one of the Caribbean region’s best examples of sustainable, ecotourism, The Lodge at Chaa Creek is a pristine eco-lodge located in heart of the lush Belizean rain forest. The private 365 acre nature reserve is set along the banks of the Macal River in the foothills of the Maya Mountains and is home to a number of exotic jungle dwellers including peccaries, jaguars, monkeys as well as over 300 species of tropical and migratory birds. Guests are literally surrounded by one of the most pristine ecosystems in the world. The reserve features miles of well-maintained trails for guided horseback riding, mountain biking and nature walks. You can canoe down the Macal River, go birding, discover the rainforest and nearby Maya archaeological sites, relax with a luxurious spa treatment, kick back in a hammock or indulge in the fabulous cuisine at the award winning restaurant. From US $105 per person per night plus 9% hotel tax and 10% service charge.

Ka'ana Boutique Luxury Hotel

Conveniently located near all major touring attractions in the Cayo District of Belize, Ka’ ana Boutique Luxury Resort is another premier choice for discerning travelers. With nearby cultural, historical and eco-adventure attractions, Ka’ana is a luxurious adventure outpost. In addition to fine dining, spa services, and an infinity swimming pool, they have some amazing touring options (and an abundant array of wines from around the globe). From US $250 per night plus 9% tax and 10% service charge.

Sweet: Lesbian Travel with a Twist

What if going to a beautiful resort, giving back to a community in need, and partying your butt off were all possible in the same week – and what if the whole trip was carbon neutral? This is exactly the kind of trip customers of Sweet embark upon – an adventure filled with do-goodery… and debauchery.

Sweet is the latest in lesbian travel… with a twist. Merging the best of lesbian travel with social and environmental awareness, Sweet aims to make the world a better place while having a blast in it. All of Sweet’s vacations are carbon neutral, meaning they offset the pollution created by their air, land and sea travel. They traveling to amazing places (Belize, Mexico, Italy) with the very best lesbian entertainers and extravagant parties, while also supporting their guests’ personal enrichment, raising money for worthwhile causes and doing meaningful projects all over the world. How sweet is that?

Sweet's Founder, Shannon Wentworth

This niche travel company has set out to change the world – one bite-sized chunk at a time. The founder of Sweet, Shannon Wentworth, believes that if we break down this huge social issues (poverty, pollution, human rights, education in developing nations) that we can make a difference. We agree, Shannon, and we commend you!

Sweet has given back in many ways – from filling over 200 giant bags of garbage from Uvero Beach in Mexico and painting bright cartoon characters on the walls of a children’s hospital ward to donating two new computers to a children’s e-learning center in Honduras – Sweet is dedicated to enriching the lives of not only their guests but also enriching the communities that they visit. PBS also just did a feature on Sweet’s  ‘In the Life’ program, calling Sweet customers ‘voluntouristas’. Pretty fun so check it out here:  Sweet Lesbian Eco-Travel or, better yet, discover sweet for yourself!

www.discoversweet.com

India: Call of the Wild

Call of the Wild

If the thought of a wildlife tour in India evokes images of dense jungles, white tigers, crackling campfires, and nights in tents, you’re not far from the truth. Drawing on every eco-adventurer’s desire to see India like Kipling, Geringer Global Travel has created the ultimate wildlife journey to India: The Call of the Wild India Tour. Accompanied by Susan Geringer, an India travel and tour specialist, and Yatish Bahuguna, a well-known Indian wildlife guide and naturalist, savvy adventure seeking travelers can sightsee in the cities of Delhi, Jaipur and Agra, and then explore some of the world’s most famed national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Ranthambhore, Bandhavgarh and Kanha.

On the Game Drive in India

Along this exciting journey, you’ll get acquainted with India’s diverse ecology: plush vegetation with dense forests housing rare medicinal plants and exotic flowers; a prolific bird life with myriad varieties unique to the region; and an abundant wildlife. During the trip, you’ll visit Ranthambore National Park, one of India’s Project Tiger reserves and largest national parks. Conservation programs and successful breeding programs have saved many species from near extinction. Situated in Sawai Madhopur, Ranthambore is home to one of the largest banyan trees in India and one of the best places for guests to spot the majestic predators of the jungle.

A little elephant riding in India

The next wildlife adventure will be in Bandhavgarh, where you’ll ride elephants and go on game drives exploring the rocky terrain, boisterous landscape and distinctly rugged ambience of Bandhavgarh National Park. Bandhavgarh National Park, where the famous white tigers of Rewa were discovered, has the highest known tiger population in India. Guests will then head to one of the most well maintained parks in Asia, Kanha National Park. Kanha National Park, a tiger reserve with lush bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines, provided inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s famous novel The Jungle Book. In addition to the diverse wildlife and bird population at Kanha Wildlife Sanctuary, the highlight of the park is Bamni Dadar, popularly known as Sunset Point, which offers an awe-inspiring backdrop of the sunset.

This 14-day tour, priced from $3,999 per person (double) is scheduled to depart U.S. on Saturday, March 10, 2012. This tour of India includes: hotel accommodations for 13 overnights with the land arrangements and domestic transportation as per the itinerary in twin sharing rooms; all meals; chauffeured air-conditioned transportation with bottled water; English-speaking guide or naturalist, Yatish Bahuguna, throughout the trip; jeep safaris and elephant rides inside the park; park and monument entrance fees as per itinerary; all current applicable taxes. Single room supplements are also available.

www.geringerglobaltravel.com

Que Rica… Colombia!

El Penol Lake near Medellin - Colombia

Colombia is a destination ready for discovery. From its beautiful landscapes, rich heritage, cosmopolitan cities, and mouthwatering cuisine, Colombia is rumored to be THE next hot destination in Latin America. Listed below are the top reasons to fall in love with the passion of Colombia, and a million reasons for wanting to stay. So what inspires you?

  • Coasts: As a destination where the sand is caressed by two oceans, Colombia’s privileged location allows its visitors to enjoy over 2,900 km of coasts on two oceans and the Caribbean Sea. Talk about the ultimate beach vacation! Long, tranquil beaches between jungles and the sea line most of the Pacific coast, while the Caribbean coast contains wide beach beaches, large resort complexes, and various shops and restaurants. Make sure to experience the country’s diving adventures. Go to the depth of Colombia’s colorful seas. Bordered by both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, there is a world that is designed for the delight of divers under the sea. The famous Seaflower Biopsphere Reserve around the Island of Providencia contains the world’s third largest reef park, and is a global haven for spotting the sea’s shiny starfish, crabs, angelfish, corals, sponges and various other species in strange shapes and vibrant colors.

Colombia Coffee Farmer (c) Neil Palmer - CIAT

  • Coffee: Recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2011, Colombia’s Coffee Triangle is known for producing the world’s best coffee. Let the aroma and the taste of coffee surround you, while getting to know the beauty of the key regions. Keeping in tradition with its diverse culture and landscapes, Colombia pays tributes to its roots by containing food that is a mixture of Indian, Spanish, African and Arabic cuisines. Every region is has its own gastronomy, related to its natural resources. Delight in the ocean’s bountiful harvest in the Caribbean region; Savor the meats, potatoes, beans and corn in the Andean region; Enjoy the Pacific Coast’s abundance of rice, lentils, and rice; and appreciate the veal, manioc and various fishes in the Orinoco River region.

Colombia's Amazon (c) Jill Robinson

  • Nature: In a land where the earth breathes, The Amazon is the traditional destination of scientist and scholars who want to learn to talk with nature. Containing the world’s second longest river the largest tropical jungle on the planet, Colombia’s shares the Amazon Rainforest with Brazil and Peru. Enjoy the fauna and flora of the jungle by zipping between trees, or hiking along the forest various jungle paths. 90 percent of Colombia is Nature, while 10 percent of Colombia’s territory is protected by nature reserves– including 37 national parks, 12 fauna and flora sanctuaries, two natural reserves, and one parkway—11,000,000 hectares that encompass beautiful scenery, a variety of climate and soils, floras and fauna, and 230 civil society natural reserves. Talk about Biodiversity! Colombia contains the world’s largest collection of amphibians, butterflies and flowers. It also holds the title of containing the world’s second highest number of bird species (containing 1,865 bird species). From June to November the country turns into the homes of hundreds of bird, whale, and marine turtle species that visit the Colombian Pacific coast to mate, feed, and take rest on their migratory journey.

Cartagena

  • Vibrant Cities: Colombians are festive by nature, and always seek opportunities to celebrate their cultural heritage. From the colorful Barranquilla Carnival every February and Medellin Flower Fair every August, to the much acclaimed Cali Fair, there is always a reason to celebrate. Colombians take pride in the rich cultural life contained within their cities walls. From cosmopolitan Cartagena, modern Bogota, passionate Cali and progressive Medellin, each one of  Colombia’s cities offers its guests something different and unique. Known for their warm and friendly spirit, the people of Colombia are ready to open their arms to the whole world. Seeking to show the world its true face, Colombia’s passion for developing its global status in the world is the ultimate driving force for their authentic energy and dynamic spirit.

There’s even more to be discovered in person. With a booming tourism sector, Colombia is ready for you.

www.colombia.travel

Kenya: Hanging with the Maasai Mara

Extraordinary Journeys Africa

This week, one of my friends posted that she was headed to Kenya for some photography work.  In addition to her being an all around creative badass, she’s probably been to Kenya more times than I can count, but each time she mentions Africa, I start to daydream about the dusty roads, colorful smells, and vibrant energy of Nairobi. So, of course, I felt compelled to find some cool, feel good trips to this glorious nation just for you. To that end, I came across Extraordinary Journeys Africa, specialists in bespoke customized safaris to Africa, who are offering a unique six night trip to Kenya for the last minute travel junkies (October 10th-16th, 2011). Now, since I’m a fly-by-my-seat kinda gal, that’s *just enough* time for me to find someone to water my plants so I can jet off to Kenya.  Why is this trip so cool? you ask.

Well, it’s a community exchange program with a remote Masai Mara community followed by a luxury safari adventure, that’s why.  For a special rate of $6,000 per person (normally $7,200), it’s being done in partnership with the Founder and Project Director of Under the Acacia organization and the first two days will be spent in the remote area of Loita hills where travelers will be introduced to an impoverished community that in just two years has been equipped with schools, sanitation, running water and a thriving community. Travelers will experience exclusive interactions with community members and learn ways in which they can make a difference. The next four nights of the trip will be spent in the beautiful Masai Mara exploring the amazing wildlife and experiencing thrilling safari adventures of a lifetime.

Community Project: $500 will be donated on behalf of each participant to help build a new classroom at Esoit Academy in Kenya. This project is spearheaded by Under the Acacia, a not-for-profit that works in tandem with remote communities in Kenya to generate sustainable initiatives and community development.

Masai Mara Reserve

Itinerary:

October 10-11 Loita/Olarro

Participants fly to Siana Springs where their driver/guide warmly welcomes them and takes them on a game drive en route to the luxury Olarro Camp, nestled along the Loita Hills. In partnership with Under the Acacia, guests will  meet with the chiefs, elders, and students of this special community of Maasai. The next day, they participate in the school opening and a very lively dedication ceremony at the new Esoit Academy.

October 12,13,14,15: Maasai Mara/Olanana

On day three, a beautiful three-hour drive takes guests to Olonana Camp where they can experience daily game drives to see the great migration of the wildebeest or track the Big Five; take advantage of the spa facilities by trying traditional African remedies; or relax in the library on their private terrace overlooking the river filled with hippos below. Guests will also be able to arrange for hot air balloon rides, bush dinners or visiting another Under the Acacia school project (a 1.5-hour drive away). After lunch on the last day, visitors fly to Wilson Airport and transfer to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for their flights home.

About EJ Africa
Run by an extraordinary mother-daughter team, EJ Africa organizes customized trips for honeymooners, families and individual travelers to Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Mixing and matching safaris, camps, lodges, and villas, with travel by private planes, 4x4s, hot air balloons, elephant, camel and even horse, EJ Africa has planned over 500 trips to Africa and not one has been the same.

www.ejafrica.com

Exotic Asian Escapes

Pink Beach - Indonesia

Recently, Asia Transpacific Journeys sent me some information about their new custom journeys and small group trips to the Asia/Pacific region so I had to share the details; primarily because I’ve never seen such interesting itineraries to places like Komodo Island or Myanmar before. Founded in 1987, they claim that no other company offers such expertise in the region and I’m of the mind to believe them. With long-standing connections in Asia, outstanding personalized service, and deeply insightful cultural interpretations, this has made them the travel company of choice for organizations such as the American Museum of Natural History, the World Wildlife Fund, and Ivy League alumni associations so see below for some trips that are sure to tickle your fancy.

Indonesia: Pink Beach in the Komodo Archipelago

Indonesia’s 17,000 islands are home to stunning beaches, none more famous than Pink Sand Beach in the Komodo Archipelago. Komodo Island is also home to incredible wildlife such as the Komodo dragon, and offers unsurpassed snorkeling. Travelers can stay on a wonderful private yacht (hello, Captain!) or opt for gorgeous island resorts.

Best time to travel in Indonesia: Now through October.

Vietnam in Style: Six Senses Con Dao

Vietnam: Con Dao Archipelago

White-powder sand rings the 16 pristine islands that comprise the stunning Con Dao Archipelago, where impressive rock formations jut from crystal-clear Windex-blue waters. Deserted, perfect beaches, a ring of colorful coral reefs and a towering mountain backdrop make this magnificent national park Vietnam’s top insider tip and one of Asia Transpacific Journeys’ favorite seaside destinations.

Best time to travel Vietnam: November to April, so travelers should start planning their winter getaway now.

Now is a great time to plan a trip to Myanmar (Burma) with the best season to visit coming this fall.

Myanmar: Ngapali Beach

The country is up-and-coming and offers plenty of hidden treasures, including the snow-white sands of Ngapali, the second largest beach inSoutheast Asia and a great place for strolls along the vast, sandy beach. Stunning Ngapali Beach is as unspoiled as it gets and makes a great place to relax and enjoy the views, and engage in other activities such as swimming, snorkeling and fishing.

Best time to visit Myanmar: November to March.

Cambodia's Swanky Digs: Song Saa Island Resort

Cambodia: Koh Rong Archipelago

Cambodia’s islands, situated in the sapphire waters of the Gulf of Thailand, are a true treasure trove for those travelers looking for a quiet and tropical escape to get away from the crowds. Most of the islands in the Koh Rong Archipelago remain remote oases of virgin rainforests, tropical reefs and glistening white beaches, and opportunities for offshore adventures and water activities are plentiful.

Best time to travel to Cambodia: October through April.

www.asiatranspacific.com

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