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20 Tips For Planning A Successful African Safari Vacation

When planning a Safari, the starting point is to think about the time of year you wish to travel; the anticipated duration of your trip; the type of accommodation you prefer; your budget and any special interests you wish to pursue. The more we know about your aspirations for the trip the easier the planning.

Before even contemplating the different safari areas and the camps/lodges within them, it is helpful to consider the broader context within which the safari areas exist. The first question to ask your self is whether you want the high end exclusive safari destination or a low cost destination. This immediately helps to focus on specific countries, for instance if you are looking for the high end market you may start focusing on Botswana or Namibia, if you are looking for bargain safaris, you may want to focus on South Africa, Zambia or Zimbabwe. By comparing the relative strengths between countries, your choice is further narrowed. The final step is to compare the safari areas within specific countries to decide which is/are most likely to provide the safari experience that you are looking for.

In this article I will highlight the most important factors that you need to take into consideration or think about when planning a safari. I intend to write some sequels focusing in detail on the safari options in different southern African countries, including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

1. Do some research

Start by reading articles or books about African safaris and the ‘big five’ Visit tour operator and travel agency websites to compare information. Make sure as part of your research you get a safari video to have a preview of what to expect. Safari videos are available at http://www.savannasafaris.com/ and other safari operator websites. Through your research you will decide if you will go for a packaged tour or a self drive or a combination of both.

2. Cost of a Safari

Various factors play a role in one’s choice of safari destination and, for most people, cost is one of the many criteria that influence this important decision. The explanation for cost differences between safari destinations, and between camps/lodges within the same areas, is multi-faceted and complicated. The safari market in southern Africa is highly competitive and driven by supply and demand; for instance, right now, Zimbabwe safaris are at a bargain because of the low demand resulting from the political and economic crisis in the country and the uncertainty as to whether or not the general elections coming in March 2008 will be peaceful. It is important to note that in most cases the cost of a safari excludes international flights to/from Africa; visas; passports; vaccination costs; excess baggage charges; optional excursions; spending money; tips; local and airport taxes.

3. Game Concentration

For most people, an African safari is not complete when they do not see the big five – elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and leopard. These animals are concentrated at different places. Please be aware that your trip might bring you into close contact with these wild animals, which can be a threat to your safety and your health. Many of the safari camps are unfenced and particular care must be taken. It is essential that you always follow the advice of your guides, do not walk out on your own and do not touch any plants, animals or insects. You should understand the risks involved and take responsibility for your own safety. Please note that most safari lodges will require you to sign a personal indemnity form and you must be prepared to sign these.

4. Camp/lodge experience.

The level of style and luxury in accommodation, the quality of food and service, facilities and amenities are all important factors to consider when planning a safari. The more expensive properties invariably excel in these elements of the overall experience.

5. Wilderness and exclusivity.

As a rule, the larger and more private the concession /reserve, the higher the premium. Botswana (where private concessions are typically 100,000 acres or larger) is the most prominent example of this model of ‘low volume / high value’ eco-tourism. Zambia is an ‘emerging’ safari destination heading towards this model.

6. Remoteness.

The further from civilization a camp/lodge, the more expensive it is to supply and operate, and the higher the access costs for guests. Zambia’s three major National Parks are very different and fairly far removed from each other. This makes a Zambian safari a very diverse experience, but travel costs are a little higher than in Botswana for example. Namibia, home to some of southern Africa’s most remote camps, is perhaps the most pronounced example of this type of safari.

7. Convenience.

Camps/lodges with private airstrips that are close to camp offer increased convenience due to shorter transfer times between the airstrip and camp. This means less time in transit and more time on safari or relaxing. Such airstrips, in addition to being expensive to build and maintain, are desirable to guests and attract a premium.

8. Political situation.

The biggest factor influencing the discounted rates in Zimbabwe is the negative perception surrounding the government of Robert Mugabe. Without doubt this regime has had a very negative impact on the lives of local Zimbabweans but, as a safari destination for foreign visitors, it is still a good deal destination.

9. Passports & visas.

A full passport is essential and must be valid for at least six months after your return. Generally, visas are not required in South Africa and Botswana for United States and United Kingdom passport holders. Visas are required for Zimbabwe and Zambia. For detailed information about visas you can go to http://www.savannasafaris.com/

10. Insurance.

It is a condition of booking for most safari tours that all passengers have insurance cover. Your insurance should be fully comprehensive and include 24-hour emergency medical cover and repatriation along with general cover for travel cancellation and theft of valuables and personal items.

11. Health.

You should consult your doctor at least six weeks prior to travel. If guests have any medication requirements an adequate supply should be brought from home, as it might not be available locally. Anti-malaria medication is essential. It is recommended that visitors bring plenty of insect repellent and sun cream.

12. Safety & security.

In general, people in Africa have an enviable reputation for being friendly and welcoming. Along with most countries around the world, mugging can be a problem in certain towns and it is advisable that you do not walk at night unless you know the area well. If you are driving yourself it is sensible to arrive at your destination before dark as a myriad of animals enjoy lying on the roads at night. It is always sensible when traveling to take precautions against theft. By far the best precaution is to avoid taking valuables with you on holiday. If you do carry valuables ensure you are discreet. Do not leave any valuables or luggage unattended in a vehicle, unless in a locked trunk.

13. Clothing.

The dress code at all of the camps and lodges is casual and there is no requirement to dress for dinner. We recommend that you wear neutral colors with a good pair of lightweight walking boots for game walks. Evenings are generally spent around a campfire, so a lightweight jumper is advisable. Early morning and night game drives can get very cold, particularly in June/July, so it is recommended that you bring a warm jacket and woolly hat. During the heat of the day a shady hat is essential. A long sleeved shirt and long trousers offer a degree of protection from mosquitoes.

14. Fitness levels.

There is generally no fitness requirement for safaris. On walking safaris the walks are slow and gentle, although the ground is often uneven. Game drives can be bumpy at times and might be uncomfortable for people with back problems.

15. Luggage limits.

A luggage limit applies for light aircraft transfers between camps. Soft bags are recommended for these flights. You will normally be advised of the requirements (if any) at the time of booking.

16. Travel in Africa.

Part of what makes Africa so special is that it is very different from Europe and the USA. Please accept that things do not always happen the way you would normally expect and you must be prepared to adapt your arrangements as necessary. Whilst tour operators make every effort to ensure that your trip goes smoothly it is recommended that you be patient and understanding, accepting a degree of uncertainty and enjoying Africa as it is.

17. Climate.

Although local weather conditions vary, the main weather patterns are the same throughout Southern Africa. Evenings and early mornings can get quite chilly, particularly between May and August. October can be extremely hot and humid (although this is the best time for game viewing as animals congregate around the remaining water). The rainy season is normally between November and March.

18. Currency.

The local currencies in the major safari destination countries are the Zambian Kwacha, the Botswana Pula, South African Rand, Namibian Dollar, Mozambican Metical and the Zimbabwean Dollar. Tourists are expected to use US Dollars in camps, lodges and hotels. For local shopping for souvenirs and sundries you will need local currency. Banks will generally exchange US Dollars, English Pounds, Euros and US Dollars are required for visas purchased at the border posts (take the correct amount as any change will be given in local currency). In most of these countries, especially Zimbabwe, there are black market currency dealers. Changing currency in the black market is illegal, and you can be robbed of your money and valuables. Always ask your hotel staff about exchanging currency.

19. Time.

Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa are all 2 hours ahead of GMT.

20. Memories

Get a journal book, camera or camcorder to document your experiences.

Happy safari planning and enjoy the unspoiled African wild!

Travel Accessories

Traveling for most means excitement and anticipation of good times provided you are venturing for leisure. But at times you do need to travel solely for business or a personal purpose as well. Make sure you are well equipped with apt travel accessories so that you have a trouble free travel experience.

Well, if you are planning to spend your days amidst the natural landscape of lush green land or high on the mountain ranges, beach side etc, you need to equip your self with whole lot of things that are useful and suit your requirement but at the same time they should be appropriate to the place you are going to visit.

Tents, Hammocks, Sleeping Bags, Fishing Kits, Insect Nets, Cookware could be extremely vital travel accessories and simply a must requirement. Similarly the activity you are going to engage yourself in would require its suitable kit – fishing kit, golfing kit or even a kit assembled specially for mountaineering. Don’t forget to check out for suitable headgear say caps, helmets or even capes…even jackets have to checked while for eyes you will require sunglasses which come in innumerable varieties too.

You would need to also take enough batteries which would be extremely important while using your cameras, camcorders etc better still do opt for battery charger and use rechargeable cells. Don’t miss out memory cards and other essential USBs.

Protecting yourself against the harsh sun and insects implies you do need to carry suitable sun protection creams and lotions too. Make it a point to check out the weather condition and pack your clothes suitable to the climate. Do make sure you carry your stuff in portable as well as durable knapsacks or haversacks which need to be waterproof.

If you are planning a trip with your family and kids, make sure you list out all the essential travel accessories and run a check on them at least twice, lest you miss out something important. Run a through check of your travel papers and tickets as well so there is no chance of disappointment.

France Map - Great Holiday Ideas

Be ready to get impressed on your travel France as the country has everything that one could expect from a holiday. Amongst the five top most tourist destinations in the world, facts about France let you see why it is so. It has the fashion capital Paris as its capital city, beautiful nature, beaches, the mountain scenery, and monuments all make it a great tourist destination. Moreover, the experience of visiting the country can vary as to the place you select for your holiday. Holidays on a beach, in the countryside, the big cities to the beautiful villages, all have something on offer for its visitors. There is plenty to explore and discover, loads of activities to get involved in and certainly life long memories to take back home. A great destination, France provides number of holiday ideas a few are mentioned here.

• Adventure Holidays

Take on an adventure holiday to see the real France. For those who love adventure travel, adventure holidays can be a fantastic option. Get a taste of the place, meet the local people when you head on an adventure holiday. On offer are all kinds of different activities that one can pick from like from the extreme sports to the more ordinary. These holidays come in complete package holidays, and tailor made for adult only adventures or for a family holiday that can cater for all ages of children. It’s the horse riding that catches your fancy, mountain biking or is it the hiking, you can find all this and much more for your holiday.

• Cycling holidays

With cycling being a national pastime in France, the organized cycling holidays are becoming very popular. These holidays provide with an opportunity for the visitors to cycle their way into the country and explore the region while having a go at the sport. This year round activity is a very popular among all ages and weather has a big role to play. In addition there are quite and beautiful countryside, with number of roads available for cycling. The well-maintained roads provide excellent cycling areas for cycling. Tour de France, the greatest cycling event in the world takes here in the country. For not the regular cyclists there are organized cycling trips, which combine cycling with accommodation, visits to the areas along the route.

• Skiing holidays

If you are on travel France for a skiing holiday then you will find the country has some of the best ski areas and ski resorts. France is a very popular destination among the tourists and if you skiing is your cup of tea, then Alps provide with excellent ski areas. With many ski classes made available for the tourists who are beginners, everyone can enjoy. Tourists can choose from a wide range of ski accommodation from ski resorts, private ski chalets, chalet apartments to hotels. The ski accommodation meets the needs of all skiers.

• Golfing holidays

France can turn out to be an excellent choice for a golfing holiday for both the professional and amateur golfers, as the country has a variety of golf courses. Playing golf amidst snow-capped mountains or Mediterranean views, it is a wonderful experience. France is a fantastic destination for golf holidays all the year round and plenty of sunshine adds on to the charm of the place. There is a lot of choice as the France map is dotted all over with golf courses. With the specially designed golf holidays, wherein one stays in a luxury villa, a private golf course and this blend of comfort and quality with golf is a quite experience.

• Holiday on a River Cruise

With the varied landscape that France has, a river cruise holiday is a perfect way to enjoy the countryside, the history and the culture as one travels from one place to another. It is the right idea for a relaxing and a different kind of holiday. A river cruise lets you experience, what you can never otherwise see, with every region having its own specialty and beauty.

• Camping holidays

Travel France for a great camping holiday, which is a great holiday idea for fun and adventure. In the recent years, camping has caught on with the tourists and with thousands of campsites available, it is all the much easier to embark on a camping holiday. One will get easily spoiled for choices, with so many to choose from, right from hiring your own tent, caravans, or even a mobile home, is a great way of touring the country. The campsites are well maintained and organized, offering all the facilities for relaxing and entertaining holidays.

Wherever you travel a France map would be a handy tool and should be your accompanist all through your holiday.

Family Adventure Vacations

You might have recently been on a vacation to one of the famous tourist destinations. You might have been organizing outings throughout the year. But how often have you been on a vacation with your family? If you realize, it has been long since you have been on a holiday with your parents or wife and children, plan a family adventure vacation this time.

Trekking Vacations

Hiking through mountainous and hilly regions and walking in the wilds is referred to as trekking. Weather conditions and topography often influence trekking plans. If you are a trekker, you will love to explore the Himalayan regions in India. The Andes in South America is another popular tourist destination for trekking. Alaska’s autumn forests, the rainforests of Australia and Africa and the Kilimanjaro range in Africa offer some of the top trekking destinations. The Ladakh range in India, High Sierra in California, Mount Kenya and the Swiss Alps are some of the other tourist destinations, largely visited by trekkers around the world. There are several walking and climbing routes in Mount Kenya that are used by hikers coming on an adventure tour to this region. The Alps of Switzerland is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. Construction of tourist facilities such as hotels and mountain huts began in the mid-nineteenth century and the Swiss Alps became a popular destination for trekking. It continues to attract large number of trekkers across the globe.

Sailing Vacations

Some enjoy sailing to marinas, which provide tourists with convenient docks and easy access to restaurants. Some prefer to visit sheltered bays and calm waters, while others may like to sail on a yacht to the high seas of Goa. If you enjoy nature’s company, you can choose to go sailing in the quiet river waters with your family, watching sea birds and experiencing the cool breeze. Some of you might like to cruise in the marinas, chatting with your family members over a glass of wine or you might like to indulge in water sports to add a tinge of adventure to your sailing holiday. The Exumas in Bahamas, the Whitsunday Islands in Australia, the British Virgin Island and the Caribbean waters offer some of the most interesting tourist spots for an adventure vacation with family.

Adventure Sports Destinations

Some of you might like to explore the coral reefs of Mauritius or the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and discover the depths of the blue seas on a scuba diving or snorkeling vacation. If riding gigantic waves is your passion, kitesurfing will provide you with all the elements of adventure. The white, sandy beaches of Hawaii, Tarifa and Tenerife in Spain and Boracay in Philippines offer some of the best kiteboarding destinations. Parasailing is an adventure sport that gives you a sense of freedom. For a bird’s eye view of the ocean, you can visit parasailing destinations like Kerala and Goa.

River Rafting Vacations

Whitewater rafting originated way back in 1842 but became a popular sport only in the mid 1970s. Does this adventure sport interest you? If you would like to experience the thrills and chills of the white water, go rafting on the deadly rapids. The white waters of River Ganges in the Himalayas, River Brahmaputra in Arunachal Pradesh and the Colorado River of the Grand Canyon offer some of the world’s best destinations for rafting vacations.

Exploring the Wild

Exploring the wilderness of the forests is one of the best adventures you can gift your family. Spend time discovering the wildlife and observe habitats of wild animals. Such a trip will not only rejuvenate your mind but also teach children the importance of nature and wildlife conservation. The Wild Animal Safari in the Pine Mountain in Georgia hosts a rich animal reserve. The Chobe National Park in Botswana, the Kruger National Park in South Africa and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania serve as some of the excellent tourist locations for a trip with your family. Bird watching is another interesting activity to spend a holiday. Rio Grande valley and the pine forests of East Texas are some of the popular bird watching destinations. Some tourist companies offer opportunities for watching tropical and ocean birds.

Surfing

How about riding down an ocean wave standing on a surfboard? Surfing is a favorite sport of many. If you are one of them, plan your vacations around the surfing destinations in different parts of the world. Hawaii is considered as the original home of surfing. Hawaii beaches are a tourist attraction. The wild waters of the north shore of Oahu in Hawaii, the Pacific coast of California, the western coastline of France and the Sunshine coast in Australia are some of the most popular surfing destinations in the world.

Unearthing Archaeological Sites

If mysteries interest you, plan a vacation to Egypt and explore its archaeological wealth, the Egyptian Pyramids or Mohenjo-daro, a city of the Indus Valley Civilization. The latter is one of the most explored archaeological sites in the world. Ciudad Perdida, San Augustin and the tombs at Tierrandentro in Colombia, Machu Picchu in Peru and the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations are some of the other famous archaeological vacations.

Family vacations give you an opportunity to spend quality time with your family. Remember the last time you took your family on a vacation? Think of the joy you could see on the faces of your children when you declared your plan for a family vacation. I am sure you would want them to feel happy, always. So what are you waiting for? Get ready for an adventure vacation with your family. The pleasure of spending time with your near and dear ones is priceless.

Trekking in Himalayas

For years, the Himalayas have attracted adventure freaks from all across the world. Of all the adventure sports that one can indulge in here, trekking in Himalayas happens to be the safest and most enjoyable option. The best part about trekking is that you do not need to have much technical skills.

If you have a sturdy pair of legs and a determination to discover, trekking is your sport. The mountain ranges of the Himalayas offer trek routes for all abilities. Trekking in Himalayan ranges is a wonderful way to connect with nature and the creatures that it has created. During your trekking expedition, you can also interact with villagers who live in small mountain villages in the Himalayas, completely oblivious of the modern world and the fast changing trends outside.

Even at an altitude of 12,000 to 14,000 ft, there are tiny village settlements in the Himalayas. During your trekking tour to Himalayas, you can come across with hilly folks tending their flock of sheep or goats or herds of yak. Interacting with the nomadic shepherds adds much to the charm of trekking in Himalayas. While you trek, you get an opportunity to forget the frenetic rat race of the city life for sometime.

As mentioned above, treks in Himalayas offer adventurers a range of trekking routes. As per you physical endurance and likes, you can choose your Himalayas trekking category - short Himalayas treks, long Himalayas treks and easy treks. Altitude-wise, trekking can be divided into low-altitude trekking, medium level trekking and high-altitude trekking. If you are looking out for a real adrenaline pumping action, you can go for high altitude Himalaya trekking. For older people, low altitude Himalayas trekking or medium level trekking can be safe options.

Famous Trekking Places in Himalayas
The mountain range of Himalayas spreads from southeast to northwest across the Asian continent. There are a number of places in the Himalayas where trekking can be fun. Trekkers can choose from the Himalaya regions given below.

Trekking in Nepal
For lovers of Himalaya trekking, there are excellent options of trekking awaiting in Nepal. With a range of trek routes on offer, it is almost a trekker’s paradise. The Kunchenjunga region of Himalayas, Langtang region of Himalaya and the Mastang region of Himalaya are the most popular trekking sites in Nepal.

Trekking in Ladakh (trans-Himalayas)
The barren and dry landscape of Ladakh is a favourite of adventure seekers to tread Himalayas trekking routes. The Numbra Valley (or Nubra Valley), Markha Valley, Suru Valley and Zanskar Valley are the major sites for trekking in the trans-Himalayan district of Ladakh.

Trekking in Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas
A uniquely wonderful trekking experience is in store for you in the Garhwal and Kumaon Himalayas of Northern India. The districts of Uttarakhand, Tehri Garhwal, Pauri Garhwal and glaciers of Kumaon are some of the most beautiful places of trekking in Himalayas.

Trekking in Bhutan
For a unique taste of Himalaya trekking, one can also head towards Bhutan. The Chomolhari trek, Laya/ Gasa trek, Bhumthang trek, Lhuntse trek and Lunana trek are popular treks here.

Trekking in India
The northern Himalayas in India are regularly haunted by trekkers from all parts of the world. States like Himachal Pradesh, Darjeeling and Sikkim are famous places for trekking in Himalayas. There are many more options of Himalayan trekking awaiting you in India.

Travel Deals and Hotels in Canada

Canada is a really huge country which occupy most of the northern part of North America. It is actually the largest country in the western hemisphere and the second largest one in the world by total area, with 9,984,670 squad kilometers! From administrative point of view, Canada has ten provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec) and three territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon). This country is also one of the most developed countries on the planet and one of its leading industries is tourism. With so many destinations where can be spent different types of vacations, travel deals to Canada are numerous and tailored for pockets of all sizes. Hotels in Canada are of all categories, from budget hotels which offer rustic accommodation up to luxury 4 and 5 star hotels that have excellent amenities and high level services.

Because of its size is hard to visit all its interesting places and travel attractions during a single vacation. Most tourists have not enough time to spend few months long vacations, so they are advised to choose a smaller part of the country for their getaway or holiday and to try to enjoy better the natural beauties, cultural heritages and other things that can be seen there. All provinces and territories have great spots to visit. Just a very small number of places with natural wonders worth for a visit in each region of Canada are: Dinosaur Provincial Park, Banff National Park of Canada, Cooking Lake and Blackfoot Forest Reserve, Elk Island National Park of Canada, Jasper National Park of Canada, and Waterton Lakes (in Alberta), Vancouver region, Fraser Canyon and Hell’s Gate, Stawamus Chief, Helmcken Falls, Yoho National Park, Garibaldi Provincial Park, the Rocky Mountains (with great ski resorts), Long Beach and Galiano Bluffs (in British Columbia), Lake Agassiz, Riding Mountain National Park of Canada, and Wapusk National Park of Canada (in Manitoba), Kouchibouguac National Park of Canada and Fundy National Park (in New Brunswick), Gros Morne National Park of Canada (in Newfoundland and Labrador), Cape Breton Highlands National Park and and Kejimkujik National Park (in Nova Scotia), Bruce Peninsula National Park, Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Pukaskwa National Park, St. Lawrence Islands National Park and Niagara Falls, with a lot of hotels offering great travel deals to the millions of vacationers who go there each year (in Ontario), Prince Edward Island National Park (in Prince Edward Island), Forillon National Park, La Mauricie National Park, and Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve (in Quebec), Aulavik National Park, Nahanni National Park Reserve, Terra Nova National Park, Torngat Mountains National Park Reserve, Tuktut Nogait National Park and Wood Buffalo National Park (in Northwest Territories), Auyuittuq National Park, Quttinirpaaq National Park, Sirmilik National Park, and Ukkusiksalik National Park (in Nunavut), and Ivvavik National Park, Kluane National Park and Reserve, or Vuntut National Park (in Yukon territory).

As anyone can guess, to all this destinations are offered many travel deals and vacation packages by a large number of tourist agencies. In all regions can be found hotels which represent a good base to explore wider areas and to see more of what this parks and reserves have to offer. But this natural beauties not represent all what is interesting in Canada. There are also more towns to visit such as Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and Ottawa, to mention just a few of them. In this cities can be found more luxurious hotels as in the “wild” regions of the country and there can be enjoyed a another kind of travel deals to Canada such as tours of the cities, visits to museums or different cultural events.

Places to Visit in Louisiana

Places to Visit in Louisiana

Louisiana is a state in the United States of America that shows a strong influence of a multitude of culture. Louisiana particularly is distinctive because of the presence of the culture of the Creoles and Cajuns. This place also attracts tourists in large numbers throughout the year due to the various attractions seen out here. If you are a first time traveler to this amazing place, take a look at some places to visit in Louisiana.

Places to visit in Louisiana:

Avery Island:
This place is located in Iberia Parish, Louisiana. It is actually a salt dome, which is home to a rock salt mine in use since the time of the Civil War. The name stands because in the 1830s, the Avery family had settled out here. It was the American Indians who discovered the presence of the salt dome. Apart from salt, Avery Island is also famous for the manufacturing process of the well-known Tabasco brand pepper sauce. Apart from this, the island has some of the most exotic species of plants and animals.

Acadian Village:
This village or rather, a cultural park is located in Lafayette in Louisiana. A design team specially recreated a Cajun style village out here. Out of the many homes seen out here, the Acadian village has around seven authentic buildings of the 19th century. This village now is a perfect representation of the Cajun lifestyle followed in the past. During the first weeks of December, there are a number of functions planned at the Acadian village. One can rejoice and enjoy the beautiful, melodious music being played out here.

New Orleans Museum of Art:
This museum is located in New Orleans in Louisiana. It includes some of finest collection of art. One can particularly see around 50 beautifully carved sculptures on the landscaped garden. The collection mainly includes art works of French and American origin. This museum is open for students and teachers who can have a tour out here or even conduct workshops.

Jungle Gardens:
Jungle Gardens is located on Avery Island. This beautiful garden also has a bird sanctuary. The garden was created and conceptualized by Edward Avery Mcllhenny. For generations, this garden has been home to the snowy egrets. This goes back to 1895, when Edward raised around 8 of these species at Jungle Gardens. This garden also has interesting collections of plants.

National World War II Museum:
This museum is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. It has an interesting array of exhibits, which are related to the World War II. On the 56th anniversary, this museum was open to the public. It gives visitors a glimpse of the political and the social life of the days during World War II.

Kisatchie National Forest:
This national forest in Louisiana has a number of activities for tourists. The outdoorsy person can find a range of recreational activities such as boating, camping, mountain biking, swimming etc. With over 40 sites developed for such activities, visitors can have a glorious time indeed while being amidst the greens!

Top Ten Travel Destinations

Top Ten Travel Destinations

Globetrotting for some is more than just a way of refreshing oneself! It’s more like an obsession. With every break, ardent travelers who wish to discover new things across the globe are always on the lookout to visit new places to unearth the beauty of nature. Here, I have a compilation of top ten travel destinations (in random order) you can use to plan a fun filled holiday.

Top Ten Travel Destinations:

Mauritius:
This is one hot spot for travelers! This paradise on earth needs no introduction and has a plethora of ocean life waiting to be explored. From the various species of sharks to the beautiful coastlines, Mauritius has much more in store for the avid tourist. White beaches, salty air, beautiful coral reefs and loads of activities targeted for tourists are one of the few reasons why this place is most visited from people across the globe.

Maldives:
This is yet another travel destination that ranks high on the list of beach lovers! Maldives is known the world over for its pristine beauty and gorgeous white beaches. Maldives has some extraordinary underwater life, which attracts people who love to go diving on a holiday. Today, one can find an array of hotels to suit every need if one wishes to explore this beautiful locale.

Rome:
You are bound to be besotted with the beauty of Rome. This modern capital city of Italy has some of the best landmarks of architectural splendor. The beautiful churches and the ancient monuments are a sure delight for the lovers of art. Rome also has some of the most beautiful parks and museums of historic significance.

Scotland:
Beautiful and clean, Scotland is one the most stunning tourist destinations. The beautiful countryside dotted with historic monuments makes it a major hub for ardent lovers of nature. There are many interesting destinations in Scotland you can visit to have a fun filled holiday.

New York City:
New York City has plenty of tourist attractions that make it one of the most visited places every year. You can visit the Empire State building or beautiful museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is always plenty to do in this very busy city. This city also pampers you with some of the most luxurious hotels that promise more than just a comfortable stay.

Washington D.C.:
Washington D.C., the capital of the United States attracts thousands of tourists every year. From the White House to the Gothic architecture, Washington D.C. has several places of interest.

London:
This urban destination is the major hub for fashion and entertainment. London has loads of activities for tourists that flock to see the splendor of this place. Beautiful architecture to some of the major shopping hangouts, London has it all. It also has four World Heritage Sites that are a must-visit for tourists.

Spain:
The culture of Spain in itself is very interesting and it is also a center for the best forms of art. Spain has 40 UNESCO World Heritage sites that draw tourists from all over the world. Spanish cuisine is as vivid as the music of Spain. You can have a fun time visiting the Donana National Park or the historic city of Toledo.

Paris:
This capital of France is one of the hottest travel destinations. Paris holds some of the most famous landmarks that have great historic significance. The Louvre continues to attract over 8 million tourists every year. Paris is therefore the center for art lovers and fashionistas who love to shop for nothing short from the best.

Switzerland:
Think Switzerland and you can imagine gorgeous snowy backdrops! This hot travel destination attracts tourists from all over due to its climate and the beautiful landscapes. People come here mainly for the love of skiing. Switzerland has many such hotspots for the adventurous tourist!

Tips for Traveling on a Budget

Tips for Traveling on a Budget

If you’re feeling the pinch in your travel budget these days, you’re not alone. People are looking at all kinds of ways in which to reduce their spending, and unfortunately for many that means giving up luxuries, including vacations and travel.

But it doesn’t have to. Granted, you may have to adjust your expectations for travel and be willing to make a few concessions, but with a few changes, you can still have a satisfying trip without feeling guilty about the expense.

Here are my favorite tips for reducing the cost of vacation travel:

Plan ahead! This is the number one rule for saving money on your vacation. If you plan ahead enough, you can save a ton of money in all of your travel accommodations. It’s those last-minute procrastinators who are often stuck paying more than premium prices for having waited too long to make reservations. These days, you just can’t afford to be one of them.

Travel to your favorite vacation spot during the off-season. Of course, for some spots that means arriving just in time for monsoon season or during the months of giant-bug infestation or whatnot. Avoid those spots. But some locations are just as lovely during their off-peak months, and you will get unbelievable deals on fares, hotels, and rental cars. Plus, your sightseeing adventures won’t be nearly as crowded.

If traveling by car, make sure your vehicle has been properly tuned-up and is in top-notch condition. There’s nothing less fun (and frequently more expensive) than having your car break down in some godforsaken location like Kearney, Nebraska and need some exotic part they don’t carry (this actually happened to me….apologies to Kearney for the “godforsaken” part, but gee whiz, it really was). Use your best gas-saving techniques like hypermiling and making sure your tires have enough air, etc. There’s probably nothing you can do about the extra weight you’re carrying in the trunk – you are on vacation, after all.

If renting a car, try to not be picky about it. Don’t choose their most popular car with all of the fancy bells and whistles you may not use anyway – decide that saving money is more important, and go with the economy deal. Shop around for the best rental deals in advance, so you’re not stuck having to take what they give you, and talk to the dealer before you agree to a contract. Explain exactly what you need, and you may be able to dump some of the charges for services you won’t use.

If flying, try to have some flexibility about departure and arrival times. This might be difficult if you’re traveling with young children, but if you aren’t, making a few concessions on your flight will be worth it to your wallet. Choose a budget, no-frills airline, be willing to make a couple of stop-overs (these flights tend to be cheaper than direct flights), eat before you get on the plane so you’re not forced to buy the $10 “snack pack,” and if you’re really budget-motivated, offer to be bumped off of your flight if it’s full. Often this means you’ll get a free ticket for a later date, and usually you’ll get on the next flight going your way…but check in advance with the airlines just to be sure.

Check the travel sites’ (like Orbitz or Travelocity) special deals or last-minute fares section. They sometimes have spectacular deals that might fit into your travel parameters. You have to be quite flexible about travel time though, because you need to be ready to take off the next day with those last-minute savers. If you’re feeling daring, check out fare bidding sites like Priceline or similar sites….you might lose out, but if you plan enough in advance, you just might get an unheard-of deal. Some websites will help you gauge whether to buy a plane ticket now or wait until fares improve.

At your destination, choose a budget hotel (are you sensing a theme?). For some people, this defeats the entire purpose of a vacation, and having to meticulously plan and choose the cheapest options in every aspect feels more like work than vacation. If you’re such a person, it might be a good idea to “splurge” on one area, like the hotel, and be a penny-pincher everywhere else. But if the accommodations aren’t the important part of the trip for you, all you really need is a bed and a bathroom, right? Again, pre-planning is the key here. If you plan ahead you’ll be more likely to snag a deal. Conversely, you can also get a great deal by snatching up a discount at the very last minute. Try Lastminute.com for deals like this.

Consider scaling down the scope of your vacation, and plan on say, camping instead of staying in a hotel, or driving instead of flying (which will be cheaper if you’re not going too far).

Consider a “staycation,” in which you stay home, but act as if you’re a visitor to your own town. Take the week off of work, take care of chores in advance, turn off the computer, and check the local visitor’s bureau for fun things to do on your stay-at-home trip.

Some of these tactics might seem undoable, like being able to fly off at the last minute, or being stranded at the airport because you got bumped off of a flight. But if your focus really is on saving money, some of these tips will not be difficult to put into practice, and may make the difference between being able to go on your vacation or having to do without.

Roman Pantheon Architecture

Roman Pantheon Architecture

A Pantheon is neither sacred nor secular, but a place of man and nature, of man and the forces the ancients called the gods.” - William L. MacDonald (Historian)

Roman Pantheon is one of the greatest achievements of the ancient Romans. The ancient Romans were good architects and they built numerous buildings and monuments. Some of the ancient Roman aqueducts are still in tact. Another marvelous example of a Roman architectural style is the Roman Coliseum. The Roman architectural styles have been borrowed by many of the western countries.

Brief History of the Roman Pantheon

The architecture of Pantheon, a monumental structure, is unique to Rome. In Latin and Greek, pantheon means “Temple of all the Gods”. Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, a Roman military diplomat and general, built the original Pantheon in 27 BC. It was build to commemorate the victory of the Octavian army in the Battle of Actium that was fought on 2 September 31 BC. This battle was fought between the army of Octavian Caesar and the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra.

The Pantheon built by Agrippa was completely destroyed in 80 AD when a fire broke out. The Roman Pantheon that is visited by many today was reconstructed in 125 AD by the Roman emperor Hadrian. Hadrian’s architects followed the exact design based on the inscriptions of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. The emperor gave the credit to Marcus Agrippa by inscribing “Made by Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, in his third consulship” in the entrance of the Pantheon. Historians assume Pantheon was a place of worship because it housed all the gods and goddesses of the ancient Romans.

Facts about Roman Pantheon

The Pantheon of Rome is a marvelous example of ancient Roman architecture. This building has been in use for over 2000 years. The Roman Pantheon is famous for its design, size and its huge dome. The Roman Pantheon is a massive circular structure made with bricks. Corinthian-style columns support the gabled roof in the front. The most amazing feature of this monument is its huge concrete dome. The Pantheon dome was thought to be largest, until the recent times. The doors are made of bronze and are over 26 feet high. The doorway of the Pantheon is about 40 feet high and 20 feet wide.

A point worthy of mentioning is, the Greeks greatly influenced the Roman art and architecture. The hemispherical dome of this monument exhibits the charm and influence of Greek architecture and also the Greco-Roman idea of the “Cosmos”. There is an oculus in the center of the dome known as the “Great Eye”, which opens to the sky. The dome is intricately designed and decorated with bronze rosettes. The coffers of the dome were considered as the vault of the Heaven. The historians believe that the “Great Eye” symbolized that the Heavens guarded the entire Roman Empire.

The architectural harmony of this awe-inspiring structure is well balanced and it was achieved by keeping the diameter of the dome equivalent to its distance from the floor. The weight of the dome was greatly reduced by the sunken panels known as the coffers and also by using cement made from pumice and pozzolanic ash (volcanic ash).

The total weight of the dome is approximately 4,535 metric tones. The weight of the upper part of the dome rests on the voussoirs (wedge-shaped stone edges) each measuring 30 ft in diameter. The lower part of the dome rests on eight-barrel vaults. The thickness of the dome at the base is around 21 feet and near the oculus it is approximately 1.2 meters. The distance between the dome base and the floor is 71 feet. The distance of the oculus from the floor is equivalent to the diameter of the dome, i.e. 142 feet. The diameter of the oculus is 7.8 meters.

Each column that supports the gabled roof weighs approximately 60 tons. The columns are 39 feet tall and 5 feet in diameter. These columns were made from stones that were quarried in Egypt. There are sixteen columns altogether in the portico. The “Great Eye” is the source of light and also serves as a ventilator. In case, snow or rain falls inside the Pantheon through the oculus, there are ducts that help in draining the water.

Phocas, the Byzantine Emperor presented the Roman Pantheon to Pope Boniface IV to save it from the destruction and pillage. In 609 AD, it was converted into the “Chiesa di Santa Maria ad Martyres”, a Catholic church. On special occasions, masses are held here. During Papal rule, it was used as a burial ground for kings and other famous people including painters who had embraced Christianity. The interiors of this great monument was done by Giovanni Paolo Panini between 1691-1765 AD. Pope Clement XI built the high altar and the apse (recess of the altar) in 1700 AD. Alessendro Specchi designed this altar. There are tombs of Raphael, the painter (died in 1520); King Victor Emmanuel II (died in 1878); King Umberto I (died in 1900); King Victor Emmanuel III (died in 1947); and many more in the Pantheon.

Some of the buildings that were constructed on the model of the Roman Pantheon are the The Rotunda - University of Virginia, Low Memorial Library - Columbia University, Grand Auditorium - Tsinghua University, Jefferson Memorial - Washington D.C. and Duomo - Florence.