The Best Hotel Hot Tubs In The World

Hotels are often praised for their outstanding accommodations and incredible dining, but what about the extra amenities that can make your vacation go from good to outstanding. Hotel hot tubs can play an important role in making your experience unforgettable. Forget the dingy hot tubs located beside the hotel pool and get ready to experience some of the best tubs in the world. From outdoor hot tubs that give views of mountains, valleys and wildlife to hot tubs that are built right into your room; these 15 hotel hot tubs will make you want to book your vacation today!

15. Amangiri, Canyon Point, UT

Set on 600 acres in Canyon Point and built right into the landscape, this luxury resort offers views over the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, perfect for travelers who love the desert. Along with a massive size swimming pool and incredible terrace, there is a beautiful hot tub located at the base of the rock wall.

King-sized daybeds and sun loungers provide the ultimate place to relax while not in the water. Whether you choose to visit in winter or summer, the hot tub is the perfect place to gaze up into the open sky and watch for stars at night. Guests here will also enjoy the water activities on nearby Lake Powell, exploring the national parks and experiencing the spa treatments.

Via Pinterest

14. Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa, Beaver Creek, CO

This luxury resort doesn’t just offer one hot tub but five, each with their own selling points, which make this resort one of the best to visit if you are looking to spend some time soaking. If you are looking for some adult only time make sure to wander over to one of the two adults-only hot tubs, if it is a view you are after, make sure to check out the one with a jaw-dropping view of the Vail Valley.

Our favorite hot tub here though is the one with the cascading hot waterfall, straight off the natural rock formation that surrounds the tub. If you are looking to get slope-side service, make sure to head over to the tub that comes complete with cocktails, a personal waitress, plush robes, hot towels and truffle popcorn. If you feel more like swimming and less like relaxing make sure to check out the year-round heated outdoor pool.

Via InTomorrow

13. Twin Farms, Barnard, VT

This all-inclusive Vermont resort is home to ten freestanding cottages that feel more like luxurious homes than rustic cottages. Most of these ten cottages also happen to feature incredible hot tubs. Located both inside and out, guests have their choice of accommodation when booking and whether you are looking for a sunken indoor hot tub next to a fireplace or an outdoor tub in a private screened porch, you are in luck.

Each cabin has been designed by professionals and it is no surprise that guests here come back year after year. Our favorite hot tub of all though is the one located inside the Aviary cottage. Guests who stay here will have the opportunity to soak in a tub that has been sunken in granite rock, with views of the New England forest from the huge window. A towering stone fireplace sits a stone’s throw away and you can assure you will never be cold here.

Via Andrew Harper

12. Regent Palms, Turks and Caicos Islands

Part infinity pool and part hot tub make up this incredible multi-million dollar paradise. Overlooking the North Atlantic and situated on the impressive Grace Bay Beach is a ten-person hot tub located inside the infinity pool on its own island. Wooden decking, sun pods, stylish loungers, chilled towels, fresh fruit and complimentary Wi-Fi set the stage for this incredible soaking experience.

The resort itself boasts 72 suites and is just steps away from white sand beaches and turquoise waters. Other amenities include a 25,000 square foot spa, floodlit tennis courts and an abundance of water sports including sailing, kayaking, and snorkeling. It’s easy to spend the entire vacation here poolside though, and whether you are relaxing in the hot tub or plunging into the warm pool, it’s absolutely breathtaking.

Via wowamazing.com

11. Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown, New Zealand

On the edge of Lake Wakatipu is an alpine cedar and stone lodge that offer incredibly beautiful suites, rooms, and guest cottages. It is here where guests will find an incredible hot tub overlooking The Remarkables mountains. The hot tub is surrounded by floor to ceiling glass doors which open to expose it to all the elements and with lit candles surrounding it; this is the perfect romantic destination.

An additional hot tub is located outside the spa, along with a sauna and heated swimming pool. If you are traveling with a family or group of friends, make sure to book the owners cottage where you will have access to your own private hot tub located on the balcony overlooking the beautiful surroundings.

Via Andrew Harper

10. Blancaneaux Lodge, San Ignacio, Belize

It is no surprise that this hot tub makes this list as it was actually designed by Oscar-winning production designer Dean Tavoularis. The lodge actually has a hydroelectric plant that heats the 11,000-gallon tub with the excess electricity it produces, and unlike a typical hot tub that has many bubbles, this one is just straight hot water. Housed in a tropical jungle, soaking in this tub is like escaping reality, even just for a short time.

What makes this hot tub so unique is the fact that it was constructed by local stone craftsmen with thousands of pieces of local granite. Guests here can enjoy drinks served to you by the bar; just make sure to let the bartender know you are heading down there in order to get the best service.

Via thewaywardpost.com

9. The Ski Dream Home, Park City, Utah

This opulent ski-in, ski-out home is located 8,000 feet above sea level atop Deer Valley Resort’s Little Baldy Peak and offers an incredible 12-person stone hot tub. Guests here won’t have to worry about being cold in the frosty weather with the outdoor fireplaces, heated wrap around decks and a heated outdoor pool. From the hot tub, guests will be privy to watching the sun turn the Wasatch Mountain Range into brilliant shades of purple while sipping on a cocktail from one of two bars located inside the house.

Other amenities in this luxurious house include six bedrooms, ten bathrooms, DJ booth, a home theatre, pool table and a full swing golf simulator. After spending days hitting the slopes via a privately heated ski bridge, make sure to relax in this ultra swanky, breathtakingly beautiful outdoor stone hot tub.

Via Luxatic

8. Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives

It is one of the most romantic hot tubs on this list, located at the ultra-luxurious Conrad Maldives Rangali Island hotel. The hot tub is situated outside the beautiful over-water spa and is meant for just two people, giving guests the utmost privacy. Overlooking the clear Indian Ocean, surrounded by vibrant coral reef and heated to 104 degrees; guests will have no reason to ever want to leave this hot tub.

You won’t have to worry about getting out anytime soon as hotel staff will provide you with fresh fruit juices and cool aromatic towels while you are soaking. Other awesome amenities at this resort include an underwater restaurant, an underground wine cellar featuring over 20,000 bottles of wine, holistic treatments from the beautiful spa and unique experiences such as swimming with whale sharks.

Via Simply Maldives Holidays

7. Doe Bay, San Juan Islands, WA

This rustic resort is tucked away on beautiful Orcas Island and the focus here is on reconnecting with nature. Three clothing-optional outdoor hot tubs are at the heart of the resort, overlooking the Salish Sea and out to the other islands of the San Juan Archipelago. The tubs can seat up to eight people and can be used by guests of the hotels as well as drop-in guests, for a fee.

Guests of this resort can choose from campsites, cabins or yurts as their accommodations and there are plenty of activities to experience on the island. Relax and renew your spirit with yoga or massages, before heading over to the sauna and soaking tubs which remain at a lovely temperature of 104 degrees all year around.

Via Everyone’s Travel Club

6. Nimmo Bay Resort, British Columbia, Canada

Guests of the Nimmo Bay Resort in British Columbia can soak their cares away in one of two red cedar hot tubs that are tempted at a lovely 104 degrees all year around. The setting itself is absolutely stunning and the views from one of the eight-person hot tubs are equally impressive; cascading waterfalls, lush green vegetation and the feeling of being tucked in the middle of nowhere.

Many guests here dare to take a plunge in the cold pool before hopping into the hot tubs for the ultimate cold-hot experience that is meant to invigorate your body and senses. The tubs are actually filled with the clear waters that fall from the top of Mount Stephens. Other activities at this all-inclusive upscale resort include heli-fishing, whale watching, paddle boarding, hiking, and kayaking.

Via mananatravel.com

5. The Hotel on Rivington, New York City

This hotel located on the lower east side is a secretive hot spot for anyone looking for incredible views, a great party, and an incredible rooftop hot tub experience. This 10 seat coveted cedar hot tub is the perfect place to enjoy some cocktails while taking in the view. The round cedar hot tub looks more like a bucket and only adds to this ultra-hip penthouse.

Surrounding this sleek hot tub is incredible extras such as an outdoor shower to cool off in the summer, an outdoor fireplace to warm your toes in the winter and some incredible themed party nights. This hotel boasts luxurious and sleek guestrooms, celebrity parties and a full-size pool table in the lobby.

Via blog.kitchentrotter.com

4. Banyan Tree Lijiang Resort & Spa, Lijiang, China

Guests of this incredible resort won’t have to share a hot tub with anyone else, as each garden villa comes complete with its own two-person private hot tub. Hot tubs look out onto the famous Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and are heated to a comfortable 100.4 degrees. With world-class dining, an incredible spa and luxurious accommodations; this resort offers something for everyone to enjoy.

While soaking in the tub make sure to request some local plum wine or traditional Chinese tea. Other amenities at the resort include Yoga, outdoor tennis courts, a state-of-the-art fitness center and an abundance of tours and treks to experience.

Via karmatrendz.wordpress.com

3. The Molori Safari Lodge, South Africa’s North West Province

This five-suite lodge boasts one of the most impressive hotel hot tubs in the world. This in-ground tub can seat up to six people and visitors should prepare themselves for awesome wildlife viewing. From the hot tub, guests can watch as elephants, zebras, wild dogs and even lions graze nearby. The Molori Safari Lodge is located deep inside the Madikwe Game Reserve, a 185,329-acre reserve that is teeming with wildlife, and is malaria free!

Guests can not only enjoy this epic hot tub but are also treated to a personal butler who serves them traditional drinks and snacks while they are soaking. As an added bonus this beautiful hot tub is surrounded by an equally stunning infinity pool, gorgeous wood furnishings and comfortable chairs and couches.

Via XO Private

2. Hotel Villa Honegg, Lucerne, Switzerland

This outdoor hot tub is one of the largest on this list, being more like a steaming swimming pool than a regular hot tub. On the back lawn of this 1905 mansion is where this incredible hot tub is located, overlooking the pristine Lake Lucerne. In the winter time, the dramatic landscape includes snow-covered peaks while the summertime green grassy hills roll on as far as the eye can see.

This ultra-modern tub is sleek in design, with stainless steel railings and crisp cut corners, contrasting brilliantly with the surrounding stone. Other amenities at this beautiful hotel include a 20-seat cinema, e-bike rentals, salon and fireplace room, a nearby golf course and an excellent restaurant.

Via AWOL – Junkee

1. Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff, Canada

Known for looking more like a castle straight out of a fairytale rather than a hotel, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel offers incredible luxury, beautiful surroundings, and one epic hot tub. This enchanted landscape is home to blue skies, towering mountains, huge pine trees and snow-capped peaks. In the middle of all of this sits an outdoor hot tub that begs to be soaked in. Whether you choose to visit in the summer or winter, guest will enjoy soaking in the healing waters while they breathe in the alpine air.

Also located on this magnificent property is the equally impressive Willow Stream Spa, offering its own indoor and outdoor hot tubs, along with numerous treatment rooms and mineral pools. There may not be anything more magical than soaking in the warm waters while taking in the views of this breathtaking landscape that surrounds you on all sides.

Via photos.banfflakelouise.com

12 Best Museums to Walk Among Dinosaurs

If you ever had the inkling to come face to face with a dinosaur, now is your chance. Although there are not any Jurassic Park theme parks as of yet; there are plenty of museums where you can get a more realistic idea of where dinosaurs came from and how they evolved. From China to New York to the land down under these 12 awesome museums give you the chance to walk among the dinosaurs, each offering their own unique spin on exhibits and displays.

12. Jurassic Land, Istanbul, Turkey

Part education and part entertainment, this is the closest you will come to living out your Jurassic World fantasies. Your journey here starts at the museum which features bones and eggs from millions of years ago and takes visitors through the history of dinosaurs with incredible exhibits. The science center is among the favorites and informative guides take visitors through, talking about the incubation units and introducing them to the moving realistic looking dinosaurs.

There is a great digging workshop for kids and after excavating they will receive a certificate. The 4-D theatre is suitable for all ages, although if you have really young kids it may be scary. This interactive film takes visitors a ride to Dinosaur Island and be prepared as you may just want to watch it again and again. Part museum, part amusement park, this is best suited for families with kids.

Via istanbulkesfi.com

11. Iziko Museum, Cape Town, South Africa

You won’t be heading here to see dinosaurs such as the famous T-Rex or Stegosaurus; instead, you will find prehistoric beats from the Karoo Region. This museum caters to visitors who want to learn more about the less known dinosaurs and their cousins that inhabited the continent. The dinosaur hall is where you’ll find a permanent exhibition called Stone Bones of the Ancient Karoo.

Here visitors will find ancient lizards, huge crocodiles and a cast of the most complete skeleton of Heterodontosaurus found to date. Make sure to check out Kirky the dinosaur, arguably the cutest dinosaur in the history of South Africa. The Museum houses more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance and you will want to explore more than just the dinosaur hall here.

Via fireflyafrica.blogspot.com

10. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center, Colorado

Although this museum is quite small, it delivers an awesome experience for those looking to learn more about dinosaurs. The center features an awe-inspiring display of dinosaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles, pterosaurs, and fish of North America’s late Cretaceous period. Graphics and life-restoration sculptures are used to help visitors imagine these animals in real life.

What is so cool about this museum is the fact that you can see right inside the working fossil laboratory through the glass windows. This is a great museum for kids as it is not so big they will get tired and there are plenty of activities for them such as a fossil dig box, activity stations, and two short movies. Visitors will definitely want to take advantage of the tour that is included with admission as they run about an hour long and are highly informative.

Via The Dinosaur Stop

9. Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, Germany

Besides housing an extremely large collection of bones excavated from Tanzania, 250 tones to be exact, this museum is also home to the tallest dinosaur on display in the world. The Brachiosaurus dominates the first gallery, standing at 41 feet, 5 inches tall. Also on display at this museum visitors will find the impressive Kentrosaurus, a spiky lizard that lived in the Upper Jurassic period.

What might be the most impressive here though is the Archaeopteryx fossil, thought to be the best-known fossil in the world and provides the link between birds and dinosaurs. One of the most interesting things this museum has done is install Jurascopes that allow visitors to bring the dinosaurs to life.

Via YouTube

8. Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta

This museum is home to the permanent exhibition “Giants of the Mesozoic”, where a battle between giants is taking place. The world’s largest dinosaurs are shown here in a predator vs. prey situation and replicate the badlands of Patagonia, Argentina, where the largest dinosaurs in the world were unearthed. This exhibit features the Giganotosaurus, a dinosaur that is comparable in size to the T-Rex, as well as the Argentinosaurus, who scientists claim is the largest dinosaur ever classified.

Visitors will want to look up as more than 20 pterosaurs are shown overhead. Other notable features in this museum are the pterosaur and dinosaur tracks, remnants from an Araucaria tree, a fossilized crocodile, and additional fossil casts. It should be noted that all the fossils are cast replicas of the original specimens as the actual fossilized bones remain in Argentina, where they are considered a national treasure.

Via Expedia

7. Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science, Brussels, Belgium

The most important pieces in the museum are definitely the 30 fossilized Iguanodon skeletons, discovered in 1878 and helping to make the dinosaur hall Europe’s largest museum hall completely dedicated to dinosaurs. This museum is not just fascinating to walk through though, it actually offers an incredible amount of education through the interactive exhibits including the details of the fossilization process and dinosaur digs.

Parents will love watching the eight interviews with paleontology experts around the world while kids will have a blast in the paleo lab where they can touch and explore real fossils, along with putting together a life-sized stegosaurus and walking in dinosaur footprints. This museum does an excellent job linking dinosaurs to modern-day animals, making it even easier to understand how evolution works. A win-win in our books.

Via Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

6. Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, Alberta, Canada

This museum holds more than 130,000 fossils and is the only one of its kind dedicated to the science of paleontology. This museum focuses on education, creativity, and fun while opening visitor’s eyes to the fascinating world of dinosaurs. Visitors will want to make sure to head over to the Albertosaurus exhibit where this close relative of the T-Rex is displayed moving across a dry river channel.

This exhibit was the result of scientific evidence collected from a mass grave. The Dinosaur Hall features one of the world’s largest displays of dinosaur remains that have been reconstructed and a favorite of many visitors. A rotating fossil display will enthuse visitors who are looking to see more of the tens of thousands of fossils this museum has. Make sure to make your way over to the Cretaceous Garden and experience what that environment was like and see Canada’s largest collection of prehistoric plant relatives.

Via fortwoplz.com

5. Zigong Dinosaur Museum, Zigong, China

This museum attracts over seven million visitors a year, in part because of its awesome location atop a fossil site. The excellent reputation it holds comes from the life-like exhibits, unique architecture, magnificent burial sites and incredible environment. Visitors here will experience two floors of displays and exhibits. The first floor features the favorite of many, Dinosaur world where 18 dinosaurs of different species and size are displayed.

The first floor is also home to the burial site, the largest burial site for watching spot-on protected dinosaur fossils so far known in the world. The second floor features a treasure hall, a display of all the flora and fauna from that period and displays on the evolution of dinosaurs and species. This huge roc cave-like museum was the first museum in Asia dedicated to dinosaurs and will surely not disappoint visitors.

Via CNN.com

4. American Museum of Natural History, New York

This museum has one of the greatest dinosaur fossil collections in the world and houses two famed dinosaur halls in the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing. The Hall of Saurischian Dinosaurs is where visitors will find one of the major groups of dinosaurs, the ones with grasping hands. It is here where you will find the infamous Tyrannosaurus rex and the Apatosaurus. Along with the fossils, there is a slew of video footage and photography exploring the history of paleontology at the museum.

The Hall of Ornithischian Dinosaurs features the group of dinosaurs defined by a backward-pointing extension of the pubis bone and include such dinosaurs as the Stegosaurus and Triceratops. The museum has actually developed a dinosaur map to go along with the exhibit and visitors can use the app to help plan their way through the exhibits. For kids ages 6-13 there is a special overnight experience that takes place in the dinosaur hall where they can explore the exhibits by flashlight.

Via Citi Bike

3. National Dinosaur Museum, Canberra, Australia

Home to the largest permanent display of dinosaur and prehistoric fossils in Australia, this is where you should head if you want to know anything about dinosaurs down under. The museum actually follows the evolution of life and just happens to put the emphasis on dinosaurs. The favorite part of this museum has to be the dinosaur garden, with its imposing dinosaur sculptures made out of fiberglass and animatronics.

The museum has only been in operation since 1993 and with 23 complete skeletons, and over 300 displays of individual fossils, it is growing and expanding its collection as each year passes. Special experiences here include guided tours, children’s learning events, and fossil digs.

Via ABC

2. Wyoming Dinosaur Center, Thermopolis, Wyoming

It is one of the few dinosaur museums that have its own excavation site within driving distance and the standout attraction is the 106 foot Supersaurus on display, although their claim to fame here is the Archaeopteryx.  Only 12 specimens exist in the world and “The Thermopolis Specimen” is second only to the “Berlin” specimen in terms of completeness, including a well-preserved skull.

Also, there are over 30 mounted dinosaurs including two Velociraptors and a 41 foot T-Rex that is attacking a Triceratops horridus. Walking through the museums means following the time displays which go from earliest life forms to dinosaurs and finally mammals. The dig site can be toured in nice weather and it’s a rare opportunity for visitors to see dinosaur bones in the ground and the actual excavation of them. The real draw here is the chance to speak with actual paleontologists or to join one of the “dig days”.

Via Pitchengine

1. The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

It has the most famous of all museum dinosaurs, Sue, the largest, most complete, and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the world. The original skull weighs over 600 lbs and flashes 58 teeth and she is over 42 feet long and 67 million years old. That is just the beginning of this awesome dinosaur experience here at the Field Museum of Natural History.

The permanent Evolving Planet exhibition takes visitors on a journey through an expanded dinosaur hall where you learn about every major group of dinosaurs, where they lived, and what scientists have learned from Sue. Kids will love the fossil play lab located in the dinosaur hall. Don’t miss the 3-D movie where visitors are taken on a ride through Sue’s life, from hatchling to a 7-ton ferocious beast.

Via Chicago Tribune

Mind-Blowing African Walking Safaris

The time is now to rediscover the magic of the walking safari, the first kind of safari there ever was. Discover nature and wildlife using your own two feet, along with an experienced guide. From Kenya to Zambia to the mountains of Uganda and all the way down to South Africa, find out why your next safari should be a walking safari.

8. Tassia Walking Safaris, Kenya

If you are searching for a taste of unspoiled Africa, a Tassia Walking Safari is most definitely for you. The Tassia lodge is where the magic starts to happen, situated on the 60,000 acre Lekurruki Community Ranch, and is home base to all who want to experience a walking safari. The most exhilarating way to explore the area is by foot and Mart Wheeler lends his expertise to those wanting to get up close and personal with wildlife. Martin is an expert at tracking wildlife and will lead guests on rigorous treks and climbs. Expect to spot elephants, buffalo, giraffe, hyena and leopards here. Wheeler also offers an overnight fly camp safari into the Kenyan Bush where you will be treated to an evening under the stars as well as not just one but two walking safaris with ample opportunity for wildlife viewings.

Photo by: Tassia Lodge
Photo by: Tassia Lodge

7. Selinda Explorers Camp, Botswana

This small camp is located on a remote stretch of the Selinda Spillway, very close to the heart of the pristine 320,000-acre private Selinda Reserve and only caters to 8 people at a time. Four custom designed tents have been set up underneath the towering jackalberry and mangosteen trees and much effort has been made to rekindle the magic of a proper expedition camp. The majority of wildlife viewing activities is done via walking or canoe, with open vehicle game drives only when necessary. Each morning and late/evening is when the wildlife viewing it at is best and expects to see elephants, hippos, lions, zebras and more. Expect nothing short of a true African walking safari which makes you feel as though you have stepped back in time, just with better food, better drinks and beautiful accommodations.

Photo by: Great Plains Conservation
Photo by: Great Plains Conservation

6. Kitich Walking Safaris, Kenya

The tiny intimate Kitich Camp is located in the remote Mathews Range of forested mountains in Northern Kenya and walking safaris are the only choice offered here. The guides at this camp are known as masters of the forest, they know the trails intimately and can sense the wildlife before they see them. Like stated earlier, this camp avoids game drives and encourages guests to explore on foot. This mountain forest is home to a variety of animals including forest elephant, lion, buffalo, Melanistic leopard, Colobus monkey, waterbuck and zebra, as well as over 350 bird species. As an added bonus the cozy lounge at this camp overlooks the floodlit open river glade and at night guests can watch elephant, buffalo, bushbuck and the occasional leopard emerge from the forest to drink from the river.

Photo by: Kitich Camp
Photo by: Kitich Camp

5. Rhino Walking Safaris, South Africa

Guests here should be prepared for an intimate, quality, pristine wilderness experience while still lapping up luxury in 12,000 acres of pristine bush outside Kruger. Two highly qualified guides will share their wealth of knowledge on animals, trees, grasses, insects and birds as they take a maximum of eight guests on an incredible walking safari. Plains Camp is home base during the walking safaris and offers four East African Safari-style tents complete with elegant furnishings, treasure antiques and incredible food to eat. A cool plunge pool offers the chance to enjoy a cocktail while overlooking the plains between walks. Expect the walks in this safari to be upwards of four hours long as it is important to get the full hands on sensory experience. For an additional experience make sure you try out the platforms that allow you to sleep under the stars.

Photo by: Plains Camp - home of Rhino Walking Safaris
Photo by: Plains Camp – home of Rhino Walking Safaris

4. Selous Safari, Tanzania

Roughly the size of Switzerland, the remote Selous game reserve in south-east Tanzania is Africa’s largest protected wildlife reserve and one of the few places in the country to offer walking with camping. From rivers to open plains to woodlands to lakes and even hot springs, the variety of wildlife found here is simply overwhelming. By day guests will walk with the ranger to a secluded location where you will find your camp set up. Evenings will bring drinks around the campfire, eating under the stars and sleeping in the wild. Days are spent with gentle hikes in the cooler part of the days, searching out wildlife viewing opportunities. This is no luxury safari; frills are kept to the essentials; good simple food, cold drinks and a comfortable bed-roll. The trade off is an opportunity to see wildlife in their true habitat, alongside a knowledgeable guide.

Photo by: The Selous Safari Company
Photo by: The Selous Safari Company

3. Buffalo Camp, Zambia

North Luangwa National Park is one of the last unspoilt true wilderness areas left in Africa, and best explored by foot. Renowned by its huge herds of buffalo and other species, this park deserves to be discovered. The seasonal bush camp is only open from June to October and its recommended you stay at least 3 nights to get the full experience. The walking safaris normally last about 4 hours per day and are led by a highly trained Zambian guide as well as an armed Zambia Wildlife Authority guard. Accommodations are six chalets all overlooking the Mwaleshi River and as of the past two years are now a part of the Black Rhino Sanctuary, which allows visitors to live amongst the last of these critically endangered animals.

Photo by: Kapishya Hot Springs & Buffalo Camp
Photo by: Kapishya Hot Springs & Buffalo Camp

2. Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp, Zambia

Most people when they think of walking safaris think of the bare necessities but Anabezi Luxury Tented Camp is changing that. Although this company offers vehicle safaris as well, they are well-known for their walking safaris. At base camp visitors will be treated to swimming pools, a large game viewing deck, two large common decks with fireplaces, and large luxurious tents that feature indoor and outdoor bathrooms, teak beds, private deck with pool and beautiful furnishings. Experienced guides will take visitors through the surrounding areas on foot exploring the different flora and wildlife by daylight. Or choose to take a safari by canoe, with a guide and explore the wildlife on the riverbank as you paddle gently downstream. This luxury safari is the perfect mix of walking, canoeing and vehicle guided treks.

Photo by: Anabezi Camp
Photo by: Anabezi Camp

1. Nkuringo Walking Safaris, Uganda/Rwanda

Developed in 2007 as a sustainable tourism initiative, Nkuringo Walking Safaris pairs incredible guides with groups of visitors in a multi-day trek to view some of the most beautiful animals in the world, gorillas. Join one of many walking safaris that this company offers, including a 10 day journey that takes visitors to Bwindi The impenetrable Forest that is home to mountain gorillas. Participants of this safari will stay overnight in tents, dine on delicious food and witness some of the most amazing creatures in the forests, including the Golden Monkey. This is not your typical walking safari where treks only last a few hours, in some cases you will be required to walk upwards of 8 hours and therefore participants must be in good shape. In return, you will be treated to an experience of a lifetime.

Photo by: Nkuringo Walking Safaris
Photo by: Nkuringo Walking Safaris

Extreme Sports Guide: 10 Best Spots in the World for Insane Stunts

From base-jumping and snowboarding to canyoning and bouldering, check out these beautiful natural spots where adrenaline junkies get their daily fix of death-defying stunts. Ranging from extreme to family friendly, get ready for the adventure of a lifetime at the 10 best spots around the world.

10. Underground Tubing

Also called blackwater rafting, get ready for the underground adventure of a lifetime at the Waitomo caves in New Zealand, a major tourist attraction in the North Island. Cave tubing is a great way to see up close the glowworms and ancient rock formations in a series of caves found in the northern King Country region. Formed on Oligocene limestone, the caves are an exciting family friendly activity that will make unforgettable memories. For the more adventurous, specialized tourism companies can take you on an extreme cave crawl that leads to spots rarely seen by the crowds.

Waitomo caves NZ

9. Zip Lining

With the popularity of eco-tourism in Costa Rica, zip lining is often included as part of the tour. Traversing a treetop incline by a pulley is also a great way to see the lush rainforest. Feel like a bird gliding along the horizon as you make your way across Selvatura Park. The zip tour is full of lush, breathtaking scenery, but adrenaline junkies should head to Sun City, South Africa for the world’s longest, fasted zip-line. The Zip 2000 is an intoxicating thrill ride blasting across the safari at 100 mph. It might seem dangerous but Zip 2000 (www.zip2000.co.za) has boasted a 100% safety record since it opened in 2004. It’s also open to kids 12 and up, making it a thrilling family adventure. Zip-lining enthusiasts claim that it feels just like flying, not freefalling like on bungees and parachutes.  

zip line

8. Coasteering

With coasteering, thrill seekers can get their fix of adrenaline on the edge of the world, literally. Head to Pembrokeshire, Wales, the rocky and precarious coastal cliff that is a top spot for extreme outdoor adventures. In a series of swimming, diving, and climbing trails, coasteering involves traversing the rocky coastline on foot and without the aid of watercraft. There are several coasteering outfits that offer guided tours across the windswept coastline, so get ready for a day full of cliff jumping, rock climbing, and swimming in the waves. Coasteering may seem like a sport for daredevils, but with the proper safety equipment and expert guides leading the way, even kids can do it, making it ideal for an outdoor family adventure against a backdrop of breathtaking coastal cliffs.

Coasteering

7. Canyoning

Also called river trekking, this rugged outdoor sport encourages the use of climbing techniques and equipment to rappel and climb rugged canyon terrain. The best places for canyoning are mountains with flowing water like The Grand Canyon in Arizona, which contains breathtaking scenery and some of the steepest canyons in the world. A good place to start is on a mountain with flowing water where you can follow a local expert through a tour of cascading waterfalls, windswept boulders, and trickling streams. Another popular spot for canyoning is in Norway and its Scandinavian fjord country. Armed with a wetsuit, helmet, and climbing gear, get an up close look at the Jostedal glacier as you swim, climb, and rappel your way across the Sognefjord, one of nature’s best obstacle courses.

Jostedal glacier

6. Bouldering

Bouldering, also known as climbing without safety equipment, can be as daring or dangerous as you want it. For thrill-seekers, it’s just you and thousands of feet below, so one wrong move and game over. Even so, that hasn’t stopped this popular sport from becoming a possible competition in the 2020 Olympics. Ranging from 10 to 25 feet, the boulders are quite a challenge, especially without any ropes or safety nets. Instead, climbers must rely on their skills and fearlessness to conquer the boulders one precarious step at a time. Popular spots for extreme bouldering is the lower Sierra Nevada Mountain range in Bishop, California, the giant Rocklands of South Africa, and the forests of Fontainebleau in France.

bouldering

5. Ice-climbing

If you have nerves of steel, get ready for the ultimate thrill as you ascend ice formations with nothing more than an ice pick and a will to live. Adrenaline junkies use Colorado’s Ouray Ice Park (www.ourayicepark.com), the world’s only park devoted to this extreme winter sport. Situated within walking distance of the town of Ouray, the ice park is a man-made climbing area in a natural gorge. Free and open to the public, the park also offers a range of climbs from easy and moderate to high-level. Depending on experience and skill level, there are many climbs to choose from, including the Kids Climbing Park and the Scottish Gullies for the more advanced ice-climber. So, get your axe in gear and head to the San Juan mountain range and the spectacular, rugged terrain of the Rockies. 

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com
Arina P Habich / Shutterstock.com

4. Bungee Jumping

Bungee jumping is a classic adrenaline rush go-to because if it’s a bridge and it’s high up, why not jump off it? Plus, even the craziest daredevils feel somewhat protected by the bungee cord, the only thing between a stunt of a lifetime and certain death. One of the most popular jumps is at Macau Tower, the highest commercial jump established by Kiwi entrepreneur and professional daredevil AJ Hackett. Since the 90s, adventure seekers have traveled to this adrenaline-making mecca for the thrill of their lives. Located on the mainland of China in Macau, the Las Vegas of Asia, the 765-ft jump is in the Guinness World Records as the Highest Commercial Bungee Jump in the world.

nikitabuida / Shutterstock.com
nikitabuida / Shutterstock.com

3. Cave Diving

If you can handle the real dangers of freshwater cave diving, get ready to dive deep into an underwater hole in the earth for an up close look at ancient stalactites in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, an area known for containing the world’s largest concentration of sinkholes. Surrounded by a lush tropical rainforest, plunge into the dark inner depths of crystal-clear turquoise waters. Another popular spot for thrill-seekers is Ginny Springs State Park in High Springs, Florida, one of the most dangerous cave dives in the world. On the way to the network of caves, some as big as two football fields, there are signs covered in skull and crossbones and with the ominous warning, “People have died here.” Even so, it’s one of the top cave diving destinations in the world for its extensive system of caves and caverns.

cave diving

2. Sky Jumping

Popularized by Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, sky jumping is the ultimate thrill. Instead of jumping out of a plane, adrenaline junkies head to the nearest giant cliff and jump off, gliding into the air with the help of a winged bird-like suit. A favorite spot for this extreme sport is the mountains of New Zealand, a region known for its large population of extreme sports enthusiasts. The sport involves a wing suit, which is designed to help you glide through the air in a death-defying free fall and then finally the deployment of a parachute. This activity is perfect for sky divers who want to take the next step in their daily adrenaline fix. Only the most experience skydivers should attempt this. In fact, it is recommended that participants have at least 200 free fall sky dives under their belt before they take the plunge.

sky jumping

1. Heli-skiing

Heli-skiing is so dangerous it’s outlawed throughout Europe, but for the extreme adrenaline junkie, Alaska and the wild frontier of the Chugach Mountains is a popular spot for one of the most daring stunts. Considered to have the world’s deepest, softest powder, the Chugach peaks are an ideal spot to reach treacherous skiing slopes, ones that are so high and rugged that they can only be reached by helicopter. Only advanced skiers and snowboarders should try it, but for those looking for the ultimate thrill, there are several local outfits that can get you to the colossal vertical gorges and inspiring snow-capped peaks. Now is the time to channel your inner Bodhi from Point Break because “If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price.” No pressure.

heli ski

The 7 Best Stargazing Spots in the Southern Hemisphere

If there’s one thing humans across the globe have been doing since time immemorial, it’s looking up at the dark night sky and feeling awe. The movements of celestial bodies in the heavens have filled us with both curiosity and a sense of beauty, sometimes coupled with insignificance and loneliness. Gazing up at the stars can be a humbling, mystifying experience and the southern hemisphere is actually better situated to gaze into our home galaxy, the Milky Way. These 7 destinations provide some of the best stargazing experiences in the southern half of the globe:

7. Wiruna -Australia

Wiruna isn’t an International Dark-Sky Association-certified site, but it is an area in New South Wales that has been specifically designated for stargazers. Since 1993, in May of each year, astronomers of all stripes, from professionals to amateurs, gather here amid the eucalyptus to celebrate the South Pacific Star Party. The Astronomical Society of New South Wales owns the land and provides observation facilities, as well as accommodations for stargazers from around the world. Wiruna is near Ilford, about 220 kilometers northwest of Sydney. The area is considered one of the premier stargazing sites in Australia and, indeed, the world over. Although the ASNSW does hold some open nights, Wiruna is generally open only to ASNSW members, members of other astronomical societies and their guests. The society also has an observatory nearby, where they hold some of their public open nights.

Photo by: Marriott
Photo by: Marriott

6. Cape Town -South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa, is the home of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). Founded in 1972 and operated by the National Research Foundation of South Africa, the SAAO has a number of telescopes and serves as a link for global scientific and technological collaboration. The primary telescopes, including the South African Large Telescope (SALT), are located at the Sutherland site, some 370 kilometers from the Cape Town site. While the SAAO may seem like it’s too technical for amateur astronomers, it hosts open nights throughout the year when visitors can talk to scientists. Open nights are held twice monthly, on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month, beginning at 8 p.m. Guided tours through the facility’s museums are also available. Here, you can see the Crux constellation and in April 2015, the SAAO discovered the first comet in South Africa in 35 years.

Photo by: SAAO
Photo by: SAAO

5. NambiRand Nature Reserve -Nambia

The NambiRand Nature Reserve in Nambia is one of the southern hemisphere’s few certified Dark Sky reserves and the only one in Africa. It was officially designated by the IDA in 2012. The park is a large private preserve, one of the largest in Africa, that operates primarily on the proceeds of low-impact tourism. Run by the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust Centre, the reserve was established to protect and conserve the unique ecology of the Namib Desert. The NaDEET Centre runs programs to educate guests about the environment, including the sky. Overnight programs give visitors the opportunity to sleep in open-air units at the Soussusvlei Desert Lodge where they can view the stunning night sky in one of the darkest locations on the planet. Trail guides are trained in aspects of astronomy, which they share with guests as they take in views of the night sky.

Photo by: FramePool
Photo by: FramePool

4. Uluru -Australia

While Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) isn’t designated as a Dark Sky Reserve by the IDA, it is undoubtedly one of the best stargazing spots in Australia. While the inselberg is stunning by day and most famous for its red glow at dawn and dusk, stick around after hours to witness an amazing display across the nighttime canopy. Part of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and a scared place for the Anangu people, Uluru lies more than 300 kilometers from the nearest large town, Alice Springs. That means the surrounding area is relatively free of light pollution. The area is easily accessible by highway. Uluru rises to a height of 863 m (2,831 ft), meaning that you can get above any potential light from vehicles along the highway—and get just a little bit closer to the stars. Look for the Milky Way, the Southern Cross and the aurora australis.

Photo by: Ayers Rock Resort
Photo by: Ayers Rock Resort

3. Kruger National Park -South Africa

One of the largest game reserves on the African continent is also one of the best places to view the southern night skies. The park is home to 9 different trails, some of which require overnight stays in the park to traverse. There are several camps and lodges in the park as well, where visitors can rest up overnight before heading out again. The wilderness areas of the park are virtually untouched by humans. Kruger also connects with parks in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Much of Kruger’s landscape is flat savannah and bushveld, and the park is remote enough that light pollution isn’t a concern here. At dusk each day, astronomy tours depart from Singita Game Reserves in the far east end of the park. Visitors should look for the Southern Cross, Scorpio and, if you’re lucky, the rings of Saturn.

Photo by: Amazing Telescopes
Photo by: Amazing Telescopes

2. Atacama Desert -Chile

The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is world-renowned for how dry it is; it’s reportedly the driest place on earth. People have compared parts of it to Mars, leading to film producers filming scenes set on Mars in this location and even NASA using it as a test site for eventual Mars missions. But the Atacama’s unique landscape also make it one of the best stargazing locations in the world. The harsh climate has discouraged people from settling in the desert, meaning there’s little threat of light pollution. The desert’s elevation and its location in the rainshadow of not 1, but 2 mountain chains mean it doesn’t even have clouds on most nights, leaving the sky clear and bright. Add in the fact that the Atacama is located in the southern hemisphere and you have a winning combination that draws astronomers from around the world.

Atacama Desert Chile Telescopes

1. Aoraki Mackenzie -New Zealand

Located on New Zealand’s South Island, Aoraki Mackenzie is another IDA-certified Dark Sky Reserve comprising Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin. Lighting control started in the 1980s to minimize light pollution experienced by Mt. John Observatory. Since then, lighting control has been used to protect wildlife, promote nightsky tourism and even preserve Maori culture, as the indigenous peoples of the island used the stars to navigate the island and incorporated them in their lore. Since 2012, Aoraki has been a Dark Sky Reserve, but it has long been recognized as one of the best stargazing places on earth—turning the area into a reserve ensures that Aoraki stays that way for future generations. The Hillary Deck offers telescopes for visitors, allowing a more up-close look at the heavenly bodies. Big Sky Stargazing offers an orientation at the Digital Dome Planetarium, introducing features of the southern night sky.

Photo by: Rob Dickinson
Photo by: Rob Dickinson

Lonely Planet’s Best Animal Adventures for Families

Looking to spice your family vacation up? Perhaps you are sick of white sand beaches, all-inclusive resorts of over-the-top kid based destinations. If you are after adventure, animals and something out of the ordinary, Lonely Planet has just named its Best Animal Adventures for Families for 2016. So what are you waiting for? Pack those bags, get those passports out and discover these once-in-a-lifetime adventures.

9. Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, Chengdu, China

Giant Panda’s are not only a Chinese national treasure but are loved around the world by many, and with fewer than 2,000 of them left they are an endangered species. This non-profit research and breeding facility for these animals was founded in 1987 with just 6 pandas that were rescued from the wild. It has recreated the natural habitat for the pandas to have the best environment possible for rearing and breeding. Visitors here will walk along the paths observing the giant pandas of all ages, resting, eating, drinking and playing with one another. Visit early in the morning to see the baby pandas playing about. Experts are on hand to speak to visitors about the pandas, and how you can best protect them. Note that this experience should be for slightly older kids as there is a policy on being quiet within the base.

"1 panda trio sichuan china 2011" by chensiyuan - chensiyuan. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.
1 panda trio sichuan china 2011” by chensiyuan – chensiyuan. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.

8. Yellowstone National Park, U.S.A

Over three million guests visit Yellowstone National Park each year and as the world’s oldest National Park, it has plenty to offer families in search of an animal adventure. It has the world-famous reputation of easy-to-spot wildlife and whether you are looking for bears, moose, mountain goats, elks, eagles or beavers, they can all be found here. One of the best ways for families to spot wildlife is to head deep into the park, camping and staying off the beaten path. There are numerous tour operators that run specialty family tour throughout the park where rangers help kids track, catch and band songbirds, take float trips down the Snake River- a popular spot for bears, moose and beavers, or horseback through the park. Self-guided or guided, this park is a family fun adventure not to be missed.

Yellowstone National Park

7. Goats in Trees, Essaouira, Morocco

The best part about Morocco, other than the goats in the trees, is the fact that this country LOVES children. Expect to find locals who pat your little one’s heads as they walk by, family-friendly hotels with playground and playrooms and plenty of stretches of beach to discover. Back to the goats in the trees though. It is an extraordinary sight to see goats, high up in the trees, munching on argan nuts. Indeed, though these goats absolutely love the nuts that grow on the Argania tree and are known to swarm the trees all at once, making this one roadside stop worth making.

Goats in Trees, Essaouira, Morocco

6. Refugio Nacional de Fauna Silvestre Ostional, Costa Rica

This 248-acre coastal refuge was created in 1992 to protect the arribadas, or mass nesting of the Olive Ridley sea turtles. This phenomenon occurs from July to November, peaking from August to October and these turtles nest in large groups that can number in the thousands. You will have to keep your kids up late for this activity but it is well worth it, trust us. You can spend the rest of your days exploring the incredible country of Costa Rica and all that it offers including even more turtles, crocodiles, butterflies, birds and more. There is no shortage of wildlife or incredible activities to do here!

Photo by: Efetur
Photo by: Efetur

5. Bat Flights, Carlsbad Caverns, U.S.A

Every evening in the summer, in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, visitors are treated to a spectacle of bats leaving their home in search of dinner. If your kids have any fascination with bats, this is absolutely the place to take them. The bat flight program starts with a talk from a park ranger in an outdoor amphitheater where visitors sit to take in the dazzling display of hundreds of thousands of bat as they begin to pour out of the cave. They fly in a spiral pattern, sort of like a bat tornado and the acoustics are so good you can hear their wings as they whoosh by. Not only will this blow your kids minds, but yours as well. Check the website for certain nights when you can stay after the bat flight and learn about the nighttime sky.

Photo by: CNN
Photo by: CNN

4. Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

It is Uganda’s most visited national park and attracts visitors of all ages from all over the world with its enormous display of wildlife. Count on seeing hippopotamus, elephants, African leopards, Congo lions, chimpanzees and more. Housing over 95 species of mammal and 500 species of birds, you won’t ever hear your kids mutter the words “I’m bored”. This national park is also famous for its tree-climbing lions whose males actually sport a black mane. Within the park expect to see volcanic cones and deep craters, crater lakes, wetlands, forests and more. With lodges located within the park, along with the Kazinga Channel, it is easy to spend a week exploring this incredible habitat.

Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda

3. Walkabout Wildlife Park, New South Wales, Australia

A visit to this wildlife park where native Australian animals roam free is a spectacle whether you visit during the day or at night. Some of the animals you will see during the day include koalas, dingoes, flying foxes, Tasmanian devils, cockatoos, lizards and dragons. The favorite part of the day though comes when the sun sets and the nocturnal animals come out such as the boobook owls, tawny frogmouths, bilbies, bandicoots, sugar gliders and more. Roaming free around the park visitors can expect to see emus, wallaroos, kangaroos, wallabies and snakes. Families can experience the nocturnal animals during either a nocturnal tour or a ranger-led wild sleep over, in either an eco-cottage or under the stars at the campsite.

Photo by: Walkabout Wildlife Park
Photo by: Walkabout Wildlife Park

2. Monkey Rescue, Pretoria, South Africa

Do something meaningful as a family during your next vacation and volunteer at the primate sanctuary in South Africa. Caring for more than 120 primates that have been rescued from labs, zoos and people; this organization is dedicated to caring for these monkeys that cannot go back into the wild. Volunteers will help with food preparation, making monkey beds, providing enrichment and more. And don’t worry, there is special “monkey time” carved out which will allow you to spend time with the primates and get to know them. Note that this experience is only for families with older children.

Photo by: International Primate Rescue sanctuary
Photo by: International Primate Rescue sanctuary

1. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

It just may be the ultimate wildlife adventure, for anyone of any age. Discovering the Galapagos Islands with kids means creating one of the most intimate wildlife encounters, and requires a lot of planning. Family friendly cruises are the recommended way to do this trip with kids, as they offer a ton of amenities on board and create special learning opportunities for young ones. Swim with friendly sea lions, snorkel with turtles, observe giant wild tortoises and learn about the incredible ecology of this magical place. Do note that some tour operators require children to be a minimum age and it’s best to do your research before booking this incredible vacation.

Photo by: Abercrombie & Kent
Photo by: Abercrombie & Kent

15 Things to See and Do in South Africa

South Africa is an extremely diverse country that offers so many unique experiences for travelers. Whether you’re planning a family vacation or a solo backpacking trip, South Africa has a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy. You’ll find heart-racing adventures for the thrill seeking enthusiasts, beautiful hikes up it’s mountainous terrain, historical monuments that have shaped history, and so much more. Coming from a tumultuous past, this country has built itself up into one of the best travel destinations with thriving cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg along with many quaint towns and villages in between. Here are 15 of our favorite things to see and do in South Africa.

15. Spend a Night at the Afrovibe Adventure Lodge

Located in the town of Sedgefield on Myoli Beach, the Afrovibe Adventure Lodge is a backpackers paradise. This hostel sits on 14 km of untouched beach, far away from any large cities, but is easily accessible by Baz Bus, a bus service in South Africa. You don’t need to venture far to have fun, this hostel offers plenty of activities like surfing, wakeboarding, kite surfing, paragliding and paddle boarding just to name a few. But, if you’d like to go off-site for some more exhilarating fun there is an on-site Adventure Center that will hook guests up with excursions like shark cage diving and bungee jumping. Guests can stay in four star rated rooms with private bathrooms and spacious balconies. If you are looking for some of the more refined comforts of home, stay at the nearby beach house which has free WiFi, a fireplace, kitchen, outdoor terrace, wooden deck with ocean views, a braai (barbecue) and indoor lounge areas. Need I say more? In the evening, wander downstairs to the Pilipili Beach Bar and restaurant to grab some grub. As the night continues, go outside grab a drink from the tiki bar and sit by the fire. Don’t forget to walk out onto the beach and view the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen!

Photo by: Afrovibe Adventure Lodge
Photo by: Afrovibe Adventure Lodge

14. Take a Tour of Robben Island

Robben Island is one of the most monumental places in South Africa as it played a significant role in the country’s history. This island is now a historical hub as it was home to Nelson Mandela for 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment. Now a World Heritage Site, Robben Island was feared by many because of its haunted past. It has been a hospital, prison, mental institution, leper colony and even a military base. Located 9 km from the shore in Table Bay, Robben Island is a short ferry ride away from Cape Town’s waterfront. Ferries to the island depart daily on each hour from 9 am to 3 pm. Upon arrival, visitors will be given a tour of the island by former political prisoners who can provide personal accounts of their experience on Robben Island. The tours will include a visit to maximum security, Mandela’s former cell (which has been virtually untouched since he was imprisoned there), a trip to the lime quarry where Mandela and his fellow inmates participated in hard labor, the Leper’s Graveyard and the house where Robert Sobukwe was left in solitary confinement for nine years. This island’s treacherous past is sure to leave an imprint on all of its visitors and is a must-see for all of South Africa’s tourists.

Robben Island

13. Go to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg

The Apartheid Museum is another historical monument to visit while in South Africa. Located near downtown Johannesburg, it’s one of the most popular attractions in this big city. The experience is both eerie and inspiring. Taking guests down South Africa’s dark path of racial discrimination, you will learn what it was like living during the rise and fall of the Apartheid. The entire tour is entertaining as the museum is full of interactive displays like text, film, audio and live encounters. Even the building itself is an exhibit as it was designed to resemble the prison conditions of Robben Island. The first interactive exhibit begins before even entering the museum. Visitors are ushered into two different lines depending on what their ticket says, one entrance is labelled ‘white’ and the other ‘non white’ to give people the idea of what it was like to live in a racially segregated society. Venturing through the museum is a dramatic and emotional journey with areas that are not recommended for small children. But if you’ve got little ones, the day doesn’t have to be all about education and history, located beside Gold Reef City, a popular theme and amusement park that will thrill the kids, so stop by before or after visiting the museum.

Apartheid Museum Johannesburg
Gil.K / Shutterstock.com

12. Spend a night on Long Street in Cape Town

Long Street is the party capital of Cape Town, especially since it is conveniently located in the central hub of downtown. The entire street has a buzzing atmosphere with bustling streets and tons of culture and fresh authenticity oozing from the various shops, restaurants and bars. With a constant buzz of energy, Long Street is a great place to visit day or night, it never seems to slow down. A personal favorite among tourists is Mama Africa’s which is a common tourist spot offering some great authentic food, drinks and friendly service. As a central destination for tourists and locals, there are plenty of places to stay while on Long Street. Check out the Long Street Boutique hotel which is centrally located with easy access to all the major nearby attractions and activities.

Lspencer / Shutterstock.com
Lspencer / Shutterstock.com

11. Take a Hike up Table Mountain or Lion’s Head Mountain

Table Mountain is by far the most well known hike as it is South Africa’s most iconic landmark. This mountain is so popular, there are 350 trails to choose from- each varying in skill level so you can choose the route that works for you. The more strenuous hikes can take up to three hours and you’ll want to spend some time at the top as there is a restaurant, gift shop and spectacular lookout points that provide some great photo opportunities, so plan to spend a good amount of time here. After an exhausting climb, catch a ride to the bottom on the cable car and you’ll receive a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the mountain you’ve just conquered. Lions Head is the second most popular hike among tourists and locals.  At an intermediate level with some steep climbs, this hike is not suitable for the unfit, elderly or very young. There are areas of this hike where you must use a chain link fence to keep balance and metal ladder grips for climbing. The reward for finishing is great, because once you’ve reached the top of this hike, you’ll feast your eyes on the scenic backdrop of Cape Town’s city bowl while scanning the other side with a view of Table Bay and the Atlantic shoreline. The trek takes about an hour and half  to hike one way (depending on breaks, of course), so allow for three hours to finish the hike in its entirety.

Table Mountain

10. Check out the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town

The Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront is an area of Cape Town that is a must-see and hard to avoid as it contains lots of shopping, dining and entertainment venues. The scenery is beautiful with Table Mountain towering in the background of the old working harbor with large ships and tugboats constantly moving in and out of the bay creating an oddly pleasing contrast with the modern V&A district. With lots to do there’s two large cinema complexes within the shopping center, Two Ocean’s Aquarium which is a world class aquarium and two museums. The Alfred mall and clock tower are where you’ll find most of the best shops. If you’re looking to spend more of your time outdoors, take a walk along the beachfront boardwalk or hop on one of the numerous boat rides that run regularly out of the harbor. There’s a giant Ferris wheel known as the Cape Wheel that gives riders a 360 degree view of the city’s landscape. Take a guided historical walking tour of the waterfront and you’ll be told stories from an era when the Dutch, British, Flemish and Malay slaves and sailors had to blend together to create South Africa’s working population. Don’t forget to check if the outdoor amphitheater is hosting any music, dance or theater performances because show’s run constantly throughout the year.

Diriye Amey / Shutterstock.com
Diriye Amey / Shutterstock.com

9. Go on a Safari Game Drive

South Africa is home to what is known as the ‘big 5’ which includes leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino. The most popular and well-renowned park to visit is Kruger National Park which ranks as the best in all of Africa. Kruger is also the largest game reserve in South Africa, the park totals nearly two million hectares of land and is larger than the entire country of Israel! A natural sanctuary where animals roam freely this is an experience unlike any zoo. This park is so large that many people spend more than one day here – the accommodations range from camping in overnight hides to luxury lodging. Kruger offers the chance to do a self drive through the park and view the wildlife or participate in a guided tour with park operators. Choose from game drives, bush walks, wilderness trails and foot safaris – there’s a little something for everyone. There are rest camps, picnic areas and waterholes that offer prime opportunity to view animals who wander out of the bush for a refreshing water break. Because of the vastness of this park, it is divided into regions so visitors can decide what kind of experience they would like to have. The northern areas of this park border on Zimbabwe and Zambia so be sure to do your due diligence and check to see if you will need malaria pills to enjoy a stay at this park.

Kruger National Park

8. Take a Drive Down Chapman’s Peak Drive

Chapman’s Peak Drive, or “chappies” as known to the locals, is a winding highway that travels down the Atlantic coast along the Southwestern tip of South Africa between Noordhoek and Hout Bay. It is a 9 km route with 114 curves and 593 m of rocky coastline and has been deemed by many as ‘the best marine drive in the world.’ This trek gives 180 degree views of incredible scenery, with towering mountains that contrast beautifully with the sheer drops to the sea. Whether you’re traveling alone or with the family, there’s plenty of areas to stop and have a picnic. There are three major picnic stops and 45 pit stops along the way with small tables to sit and relax on the Hout Bay side. Don’t have a car? Don’t fret! You can explore this route on foot by hiking one of the numerous trails on the Silvermine Nature Reserve and Cape Peninsula National Park. It is worth setting aside half a day or even a full day. If you are traveling during the late winter (South African winter) you’ll even spot some southern right whales as they migrate along the coast! Be sure to make a pit stop in one of the small country villages along the way for a souvenir from the local shops or refreshing beverage at a local restaurant.  

Chapman’s Peak Drive

7. Go Whale Watching in the Western Cape

South Africa is one of the best places in the world to go whale watching with frequent visits from annual migrations of southern right and humpback whales, plus pods of dolphins all year round. Every June, the southern right whales migrate from Antarctica to the warmer South African climate. The best time for whale watching is from June to November along the Cape South Coast. Peak calving season is in July and August, but the whales can be seen into September and October. Now – where’s the best place to spot these majestic creatures? The best areas are from Doringbaai to the coast of St. Lucia. If you’re in Cape Town, you can often see them from the road right along the False Bay coast. Hermanus in Walker Bay offers the best whale viewing from land in the entire world! Follow the path along the cliffs and you can get within 20 meters of the traveling whales.

Southern Right Whale

6. Go On a Township Tour

Township tours have been debated, scrutinized and praised by the media and fellow traveler enthusiasts. Despite all of this, townships in South Africa are an important part of the country’s history and act as a constant reminder of Apartheid in the 90’s. These townships were built as a way to segregate the population, but now despite widespread poverty, some are now thriving communities. There are many tour companies that operate walking tours (and driving tours, but walking tours are much more respectful). It is important to note that you do not attempt to venture into these townships unguided as it can be dangerous for tourists to explore alone, so go with a guide. Most of these tour companies provide employment to individuals living in the townships as tour guides, so you’ll definitely get the most authentic experience! These tours are inexpensive and most put profits back into the communities. It’s a great learning experience and chance to really experience the country. Don’t make the common mistake of being a disconnected tourist!

Diriye Amey / Shutterstock.com
Diriye Amey / Shutterstock.com

5. Take a Wine Tour in Stellenbosch

The small picturesque town of Stellenbosch is about an hour from Cape Town, tucked away between secluded mountains in the Jan Kershoek River Valley. This small university town is home to the oldest wine route and most developed wine estates in the county, thus why it is the best place to experience South African wine! The scenery here alone is worth the trip, and the opportunity to soak in the views while sipping wine is just an added benefit. You can enjoy thorough educational tours learning about the entire wine-making process, or simply go visit these beautiful wineries for the elegant experience. Before heading out on a wine tour, be sure to explore the town of Stellenbosch and all is unique sidewalk cafes and restaurants!

Stellenbosch

4. Do the World’s Highest Commercial Bungee Jump

Are you an adrenaline junkie? If so, this is the perfect adventure for you! On the border of the Eastern and Western Cape along the Garden Route is where the company Face Adrenalin has been operating it’s bungee on South Africa’s largest bridge over the Bloukrans River since 1997. Home to what was once the highest commercial bungee jump in the world, it’s technically now the third, but when you’re jumping head first off a bridge it’s all the same thing, right? For bragging rights it’s still recognized around the world as ‘the world’s highest bungee from a bridge.’ Those brave enough to take this leap are suited up in a full body harness with ankle connections and dropped 216 meters toward the river below. Don’t worry, we won’t hold it against you if you chicken out!

Bloukrans River

3. Swim with Penguins at Boulder’s Beach

Located in Simon’s Town about a 35 minute drive from Cape Town is a place known as Boulder’s Beach, the home to a breeding colony of over 2000 endangered African penguins. The unique boulders which are spread along the sandy shores are up to 540 million years old. As part of a marine protected area, be prepared to pay an entrance free in order to enter this park and view the penguins. The large boulders keep the beach safe and sheltered so it’s the perfect beach spot to bring the little ones. There’s plenty of hidden spots to explore! Then, take a walk down the wooden boardwalk that winds through the park along the breeding and nesting grounds of the penguins. With visitors flocking in and out each day, the penguins here are definitely not afraid of people, but be respectful and don’t try to pick up the penguins or touch them because they can and will bite! The penguins will swim in the water with you and wander along the beach, it’s quite unbelievable to get so close, it’s sure to be a day your kids won’t forget.

Boulder Beach

2. Go Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai

Shark cage diving is one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Africa. This activity is not for the faint of heart! This thrill seeking activity allows people to view the underwater world in the most unique way, a true up close and personal experience! The world’s largest predatory fish is commonly spotted off the shores of South Africa. There are many tour companies operating out of Gansbaai  – so there are no shortage of choices! You will have the option of viewing sharks from above water (for those who are a little bit nervous!) and of course, for the unique experience of coming face to face underwater in the cage. There’s no need for scuba gear or a diving license because the cage has an open top for breathing, secured to the boat never going more than one meter below the surface. The typical tour takes about three to five hours depending on weather conditions, sea conditions and shark behavior. The best time to book an excursion is between the months of June and September when trips to the open water average sightings of four to five different sharks a day! Sign me up!

Shark Diving in South Africa

1. Travel the Garden Route

The Garden Route stretches along the south-eastern coast of South Africa, from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River Village on the Eastern Cape border down the N2 coastal highway. This road trip route is the most popular tourist attraction in South Africa and is completely unique to the country. An iconic feature of South Africa with no shortage of sights to see, the best sights are found in secrets spots off the side roads, perfect for a quick stop and photo-op. The towns along the way have a rich history of early inhabitants and tales of elephants crossing the Outeniqua Mountains from the Oudtshoorn coast for many centuries. The name was coined from its rich ecological system, vegetation and large floral kingdoms, secluded bays, lakes and lagoons. The road follows along the ocean shores, through luscious green mountains and quaint little towns untouched by the developed world. Keep your eyes peeled at all times and you’ll likely catch a glimpse of some humpback whales, bottlenose and common dolphins, even killer whales who frequently visit the shore, especially in Plettenberg Bay.

Bloukrans Bridge South Africa Garden Route

The 12 Best Scenic Tram Rides in the World

Some may call them gondolas, others may call them cable cars or aerial tramways but we call them trams. By tram, we aren’t talking about the light-rail or streetcars that run through most of Europe; we are talking about the cable-suspended cabins that seamlessly float through the air. All over the world these trams offer incredible sweeping views of oceans, mountains and cities. From trams that offer free public transportation to those with glass floors, here are 12 of the best tram rides in the world.

12. Roosevelt Island Tram – New York City, United States

It is one of America’s only aerial tramways used for urban mass transit and that fact alone makes this tram pretty incredible. It serves more than two million commuters and tourists a year connecting Roosevelt Island to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Each cabin can hold up to 110 people and the trip only takes three minutes. The draw for tourists seems to be the sweeping views of Manhattan and the East River it provides from 230 feet in the air. This Tram has been featured in many television shows and movies and continues to be one of the most loved trams in the world.

Stuart Monk / Shutterstock.com
Stuart Monk / Shutterstock.com

11. Gibraltar Cable Car – Gibraltar, Spain

Many people have never heard of Gibraltar mainly because it is a very small British Overseas Territory that is located on the south coast of Spain, often referred to as “The Rock.” One of the highlights here is a trip on the cable car. It has been around since 1966 and not summiting the top via cable car would be like going to the Grand Canyon and not looking over the rim. The ride to the top only takes six minutes, but visitors are provided with an audio guide that talks about the history of the area. Sweeping views over the strait and into Northern Africa accompany riders. At the top visitors will be privy to the view of two continents, three countries and the meeting point of two great bodies of water. There is only one hitch to being at the top of this rock and that is the thieving resident apes that are waiting for you. Make sure to leave all food below and hold onto your camera as these apes love to steal right from your hand.

Gibraltar Cable Car , Spain

10. Table Mountain Aerial Cableway – Cape Town, South Africa

It is one of three trams in the world where each circular cabin rotates a full 360 degrees during the ascent to Table Mountain. The five minute trip up provides spectacular views and has been enjoyed by over 20 million people. A quick fact about this cable car, it was actually one of Cape Town’s first tourist attractions and opened in 1929. On the ride up and at the summit visitors are granted 360-degree views of Cape Town, Table Bay, nearby mountains and the rest of Table Mountain National Park. Also at the top is where you will find three hiking trails, a guided walk, self-serve restaurant and souvenir shop. One of the more popular times to ride this tram is sunset as there seems to be no better place in Africa to watch the sun sink away than on top of Table Mountain. If you are feeling really adventurous, skip the cable car ride back down and rappel down the cliff face.

Table Mountain, South Africa

9. Sandia Peak Tramway – Albuquerque, United States

It is hailed as North America’s longest aerial tram and has the world’s third longest single span. That alone is enough for us to want to get to Albuquerque and ride it today. At 2.7 miles long the tram provides sweeping views of the steep rocky terrain. The trip starts off in the suburbs of northeast Albuquerque and spends 15 minutes taking visitors up to the high desert peaks of the Sandia Mountains. Riders should expect an elevation change of about 4,000 feet and a temperature drop of 30 degrees. It works on a double system where one tram ascends and the other descends, each being able to hold up to 50 people. When this tram was first constructed in 1966 the engineering company touted it as being one of the most difficult tramway construction projects because of the terrain. You can just imagine what those views look like from 3,000 feet in the air.

Sandia Peak Tramway

8. Telluride Gondola – Colorado, United States

This ultra laid back ski town offers an equally cool form of public transportation. It offers a 13 minute tram ride between Telluride and Mountain Village. What makes this tram even better, riders can ride it as many times as they want for free. Since it opened in 1996, this tram has always been free and motors along leisurely at 11 mph operating from 7 am-midnight. This tram offers incredible 360 degree views of the San Juan Mountains and locals refer to it as the “best commute in the country.” Everyone is welcome on this tram including your four legged furry friends as long as they are on a leash. Equipped with ski and snowboard racks in the winter, bike racks in the summer and blankets all year round. This tram has truly thought of everything to make your ride unforgettable.

Telluride Gondola, Colorado

7. Skyline Gondola – Queenstown, New Zealand

The views from this gondola, the steepest of its kind in all of the Southern Hemisphere, are epically amazing. This tram takes visitors 450 meters above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to the top of Bob’s Peak. You can even take your bike up on it. But what awaits visitors at the top is what makes this tram one of the best. Besides the awesome viewing platforms and outdoor terraces, there is a plethora of activities that await visitors on this peak. For the adrenaline seekers, paragliding, bungee jumping and luge racing are all offered at the top. For those not quite daring enough, there are plenty of mountain biking trails, stargazing tours and scenic dining options as well. The 222- degree view of the Remarkable Range, the town center looking like a Lego city and the plethora of activities at the top make this one amazing tram ride.

ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com
ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com

6. Dubrovnik Cable Car -Dubrovnik, Croatia

Soar up above Dubrovnik’s orange-roofed walled Old Town on this amazing cable car that goes 1,329 feet up into the air. The original cable car that was opened in 1969 was actually bombed out during the 1991 Balkan conflicts, but has since been replaced and re-opened in 2010. It only takes four minutes to do the entire run, but it remains one of the best ways for visitors to take in the Dalmatian coast anytime of the day. It is possible to buy a one-way ticket up and that often gives visitors the best of both worlds, as the walk down is just as scenic and only takes a mere 30 minutes. We suggest aiming for sunset as the sky lights up with color when the sun sinks beneath the Adriatic Sea over this twinkling city with its snaky roads and rocky islands.

Dubrovnik Cable Car

5. Hakone Ropeway – Hakone, Japan

With over two million riders a year, the Hakone Ropeway is hailed as the world’s busiest gondola, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. This 30 minute journey takes visitors 2.5 miles from Togendai Station on the shores of Lake Ashi to Sounzan Station in Hakone, an area known for its hot spring baths. It makes two stops along the way and promises views of the snowcapped Mount Fuji, the crystal clear blue waters of Lake Ashi, the volcanic fumes of Owakudani and forested mountains. The trams run at one minute intervals to the tourist busy town of Hakone, where locals tell visitors to eat a hardboiled egg that has been soaked in the sulfur rich water in order to add seven more years to their life. We aren’t too sure about the jet black egg, but we are sure about making this tram ride a must do while in Japan.

Hakone Ropeway, Japan

4. Langkawi SkyCab – Langkawi, Malaysia

The SkyCab is located at the oldest part of South East Asia and whisks visitors over jungle and rock that is 550 million years old. There are actually three parts of this tram ride, first the base station located at the foot of the Machincang Mountain where visitors catch the tram. The second station is in the middle at an elevation of 650 m above sea level that provides panoramic views of the main island. There are viewing platforms available and here is the chance to get up close to the unique flora. The top station sits at an elevation of 708 m above sea level and features two viewing platforms that offer dramatic views. The entire journey takes about 15 minutes if you choose not to get off and takes you to the island’s second highest peak, Mount Machincang.

Langkawi SkyCab

3. Ngong Ping 360 – Hong Kong, China

It is hailed as being one of the world’s best cable car experiences and with its choice of cabins, incredible views and cultural village, it is easy to see why. The journey is 3.5 miles one way and takes visitors between Tung Chung Town and Ngong Ping on Lantau Island. To start off the gondola makes a hard turn to begin its journey over the stunning Tung Chung Bay and into the lush green mountains of Lantau Island. The views include the South China Sea, the Tian Tan Buddha Statue, the International Airport and the flora and fauna of North Lantau Country Park. For those visitors wanting to splurge, book the incredible crystal cabins that are outfitted with a glass floor, giving you a bird’s eye views over all the sights. You will end up at the touristy Ngong Ping Village where you can visit the monastery, see the giant Buddha statue and explore the museum of cable car replicas from around the world.

Ngong Ping 360

2. Stanserhorn CabriO – Stans, Switzerland

It is the world’s first double-decker, open-top tram in the world and for those of you who are afraid of heights – you may want to skip it. Opened in June 2012, this cable car zips visitors 3,737 feet to the top of Stanserhorn. The lower level of the car with floor to wall windows fits a comfortable 60 people. Taking the staircase to the top is most recommended where an additional 30 people can fit. Fresh mountain area, 360 degree panoramic views and the wind in your hair is what you can expect up here. It takes just six and a half minutes to reach the top and before you know it the rolling green hills, towering mountains and bright blue waters will be below you. It may be the first open-air tram but we doubt it will be the last.

Photo by: Stanserhorn-Bahn
Photo by: Stanserhorn-Bahn

1. Grenoble-Bastille Cable Car – Grenoble, France

Since 1934, a steel cable has connected Grenoble to the summit all year round, in the world’s first urban route that opened with 12-sided cabins painted blue. Nowadays the cable cars look a little different in their ultra modern bubble shape with floor to ceiling windows in a cool silver and red color. Made of plexi-glass and steel these cabins fit six people each and are responsible for taking visitors from the banks of the Isere River to the ancient Bastille fortifications, in just four minutes. Safety is their number one priority here and in January these cable cars shut down for 20 days in order to perform drills, checks and maintenance. On a clear day, not only will visitors have sweeping views of the city of Grenoble but can also see the gorgeous Alps including the iconic Mont Blanc.

Grenoble-Bastille Cable Car

The Cheapest Cities for Expats to Live Around the World

With so many reports and studies on the world’s most expensive or most livable cities, we have a refreshing new take on the subject with the least expensive places to live in, housing costs and all. This list is intriguing for adventure travelers and expatriates looking for a nice place to spend a year abroad or even for a warm, safe place to retire. Some places are cheap and nice through circumstances beyond their control, others are inexpensive because they are lousy places to change planes on a layover, let alone spend time living in. But some of the following are diamonds in the rough that you may not have heard of and you’ll definitely want to find out more about. So here is the Dollarama edition of travel destinations.

10. Tbilisi, Georgia

Tbilisi is an obscure place off the beaten path, but not for much longer. It’s said to be the next must-see wine destination. The winemaking tradition here goes back about 4000 years. Strikingly set on cliffs, bisected by a river, the architecture and cuisine of Tbilisi is a crazy, critically-acclaimed fusion of East, West, Russian and Near Eastern. The old city is a beautiful rabbit-warren of narrow streets and alleys. Instead of Starbucks coffee shops, there are wine bars on every corner. The beautiful wine route through stunning scenery is largely unknown – for now. A little apartment just outside town is barely $200 a month. It is a shockingly poor country. Sixty per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. There are signs of better days ahead but still, Tbilisi will remain a memorable place to visit or live at any price.

Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com
Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

9. Managua, Nicaragua

Managua is one of those old, down at the heels, completely charming Latin American cities that resembles that past as if time simply stopped moving back in 1962. According to Numbeo, three bedroom apartments downtown can still be had for $466 a month. Or as the legendary Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians sang in a 1946 recording, “Managua, Nicaragua is a beautiful town/You buy a hacienda for a few pesos down”. Actually real estate prices are on the rise as it becomes more popular as a retirement destination and a place for expats to chill for a spell. Always warm, a cultural and financial center and a university town, it has cheap fine-dining, crazy markets, insane traffic, occasional garbage collection, and proximity to some impressive natural beauty. Guidebooks warn about wearing flashy jewelry at night, but the same be said of Cleveland.

Managua, Nicaragua

8. Cape Town, South Africa

A heavenly alignment of the economic planets for expats as the South African Rand is hitting fifteen year lows with no letup in sight, making one of the world’s great destinations ridiculously affordable. It’s no accident that more people visit Cape Town than the Great Pyramids. The one-bedroom downtown apartment is $600 and a meal at McDonald’s is $3.80. That’s not to suggest you should eat there all the time or even at all, but it is an uncannily accurate reflection of the cost of living. Yes there is crime and the tragic sadness of the Apartheid townships. But they should remind you how far this country has come and that you are truly blessed to see Table Top Mountain as you leave your flat every day. It’s also a great treat to be able to make a quick drive to some of the world’s best vineyards and feel the presence of greatness in Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island.

Cape Town South Africa

7. Minsk, Belarus

Poor Minsk needs a little travel lovin’. Its battered economy sinks deeper every day with that of its biggest customer while Russia disintegrates with the effects of sanctions for invading Ukraine and the disappearing price of oil. But even 40 years ago, in his 1975 comedy Love and Death, Woody Allen uses Minsk as the setting for The Village Idiots Convention. It does have its cosmopolitan side but still, it is a virtual police state run by Alexander Lukashenko, a poor man’s Vladimir Putin whose views seem locked in a Cold War era time warp. They make great beer but seriously, when one of the 10 Best Tourist Attractions is the one time home of convicted Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, it makes you think twice about hanging here for long.

Minsk, Belarus
Grisha Bruev / Shutterstock.com

6. Banjul, Gambia

Banjul is a little jewel on an island in the Gambia River in The Gambia of which it is the capital. It has a wonderful market, a charming if decrepit old town and only 43,000 people. Stunning beaches. The languorous pace of life that agrarian societies have. Lonely Planet calls it “urban Africa at its best”.  Its main economic staple is the growing and processing of peanuts, which is apt since that’s what its currency is worth. The annual per capita Gross Domestic Product is $1700 USD which puts it down there with the likes of North Korea and South Sudan. It can be a nice place, maybe even idyllic, but sometimes abject poverty and the persecution of innocent minorities can take the shine away. A small cost can sometimes come at a high price which might be why the expat community is on the small side here.

Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com
Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

5. Skopje, Macedonia

Skopje is a cheap place to live looking at all the comparisons. A pound of chicken is $2.31 and the three-bedroom downtown apartment is $422. Walmart can’t match these prices. Plus it’s just been given a modern facelift though it still has an ancient fortress dating back to the fifth century, a fantastic old bazaar second only to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and breathtaking mountain lakes and canyons nearby. Lonely Planet says it has some of the most affordable dining in Europe. It is two hours and 47 minutes by car to the renowned beaches and nightlife of Thessaloniki in Greece. It does have an unemployment rate of 27%, but this is a travel site you won’t find advertised online. Talk about a hidden gem!

Andrei Tudoran / Shutterstock.com
Andrei Tudoran / Shutterstock.com

4. Tunis, Tunisia

Recent terrorist attacks, responsibility for which has been claimed by Islamic State militants will wreak havoc on the country’s already fragile economy. At least half a million jobs depend on a tourism sector worth over $20 billion and that should be in past tense. The wonderful beaches and the sublime combination of Arab, French and African influences will be cheaper to experience but expats, especially Westerners, will need an amazing reason to settle there. The U.S. State Department advises “U.S. citizens in Tunisia maintain a high level of vigilance, as terrorism remains a significant concern”. It doesn’t really sound like now is the time or place to look for bargains here, now does it?

Tunis, Tunisia

3. Karachi, Pakistan

It sounds fantastic with a wealthy industrial, commercial, artistic and financial hub, one of the fastest growing cities in the world. Called the City of Lights for its nonstop nightlife. Close to fabulous beaches on the Arabian Sea. Less than $400 for a three bedroom place in the city. What’s not to like? You can’t help but wonder why it is so cheap. Unfortunately, it is not ideal in terms of deadly heat waves, unsustainable power accessibility and high rates of crime. So, if you can look past these headlines, it’s one of the cheapest places to travel in the world.

Asianet-Pakistan / Shutterstock.com
Asianet-Pakistan / Shutterstock.com

2. Windhoek, Namibia

Windhoek is the capital of Namibia and largest city in the country. It has a westernized appearance and wouldn’t look out of place anywhere in North America. Well, except for north of the Tree Line. It is clean, relatively safe, with a stable and occasionally corrupt government it is magically placed in one of the world’s most biodiverse and scenic nations. Numbeo.com says a one-bedroom apartment is $491 a month. Most expats can find work in the booming tourism business or the uranium and diamond mining companies. Main courses at the best African cuisine restaurants start at $8. Talk about a cheap date! Those who have traveled here rave about the ecotourism and safaris throughout gorgeous orange deserts. The New York Times put it at #6 of world’s destinations to see. Decent wine at $4.83? What are we waiting for -grab a wine glass and go!

Grobler du Preez / Shutterstock.com
Grobler du Preez / Shutterstock.com

1. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

At 63 Kyrgyzstani Som to the dollar, a gin and tonic sets you back about a buck and a half while dinner will be five to 10 dollars. If you must, Marlboro’s are 86 cents a pack. According to the Expatistan cost of living chart, the rent for a two bedroom apartment in the expensive part of town is $763 USD. That’s about one-ninth the cost for a similar place in the survey’s most expensive city, Luanda, Angola. Many of the expats who travel here work the gold mines or teach English to students. It’s not the safest place to travel, but when visiting here be sure to take a tour along the legendary Silk Road.

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

10 Awesome Aquariums Where You Can Spend the Night With Sharks

Imagine drifting off to sleep while a shark silently stalks above you, or a school of colorful fish dart in and out of coral, all while you are safely tucked into your warm sleeping bag, next to your kids, or a loved one. Aquariums around the world are taking experiences to a new level by offering a variety of overnight experiences. These sleepovers allow guests to explore the aquarium after dark, learn more about the marine life that live there and have the opportunity to go behind the scenes and participate in feedings and cleanings. From Toronto to California to South Africa, here are 10 awesome overnight aquarium experiences.

10. Vancouver Aquarium -Vancouver, BC

Spending a night at the Vancouver Aquarium is like no other in Canada, and offers visitors an exciting opportunity to go behind the scenes in their marine lab. Visitors on one of these sleepovers will have the opportunity to touch local invertebrates including live sea stars, anemones, sea urchins and more. Visitors can choose from different sleepovers including a family night where participants embark in a variety of activities, presentations and tours. They also offer an incredible Valentine’s night sleepover for the romantic couple that wants to create unique memories. A three course plated dinner, a presentation on the sex lives of sea animals and a behind the scenes tour is included with this sleepover. Fall asleep in the Arctic Canada underwater gallery to sights of the majestic beluga whales swimming right in front of your eyes in this awesome Canadian aquarium sleepover experience.

Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock.com
Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock.com

9. Georgia Aquarium -Atlanta, GA

Sleeping at the aquarium doesn’t have to be just for kids as the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta offers adults-only nights, along with a variety of family themed nights. The family nights are recommended for ages seven and up and include a variety of activities and behind-the-scenes tours, specifically focusing on whales and sharks. The adults-only sleepovers here are hugely popular and for good reason. The behind-the-scenes tours, gallery tours, activities and events that the aquarium plans for adults gives you a once in a lifetime chance to get up close and personal with the marine animals. Dinner, snacks, a 4-D movie and more are all included here. Make sure to spend the next day talking in the dolphin show and exploring the aquarium during daytime hours.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

8. Maui Ocean Center -Wailuku, HI

The aquarium here is an exciting place to be after dark as the creatures that normally hide during daylight hours make their debut, while others seem to disappear right before your eyes. The sleep with the shark sleepover at the Maui Ocean Center offers a total hands-on experience complete with fun activities, education, crafts and a movie. Watch as the sharks behavior changes from day to night, learn more about the marine animals and even have the chance to help an ocean naturalist feed the turtles and rays. This sleepover program is offered to anyone ages six to 13, accompanied by an adult. When you are all tuckered out from a fun-filled night, curl up in your sleeping bag and watch the Open Ocean show of the mesmerizing Sea Jelly exhibit. This program is one of the most hands-on sleepovers and promises to delight visitors of all ages.

Photo by: Joe Boyd via Flickr
Photo by: Joe Boyd via Flickr

7. Two Oceans Aquarium -Cape Town, South Africa

Not anyone can spend the night at this aquarium, but if you happen to be a member, part of an educational group or want to hold your child’s birthday party here; you will have access to a pretty awesome sleepover aquarium experience. The aquarium closes to the public at 6 pm, which allows sleepover guests plenty of time to explore the aquarium after dark. A kid-friendly dinner, a ton of planned activities, movies and more await guests here. Exhibits include the penguin exhibit, Indian Ocean gallery, touch pools, Atlantic Ocean gallery, predator exhibit and more. Birthday parties are perhaps the most popular sleepovers here, an experience your child will never forget. They happen to be best for children aged eight to 12.

InnaFelker / Shutterstock.com
InnaFelker / Shutterstock.com

6. Aquarium of the Pacific -Long Beach, CA

Grab your sleeping bag and prepare for the ultimate family adventure at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach California. This is one of the best sleepovers if you are looking for the most hands-on activities. Sleepover guests will embark on an awesome scavenger hunt with the whole family as well as have a pizza dinner, guaranteed to make every kid happy. Next up guests are encouraged to pet marine animals such as sharks, sea stars and sea jellies. You can even help participate in a fish feeding. A light snack before bed and the chance to paint your own souvenir t-shirt is also included with this experience. These themed overnights do fill up quickly and are normally offered in the summer, winter and Halloween; all complete with a different theme. These sleepovers also happen to be one of the most budget friendly on our list.

Photo by: Tracie Hall via Flickr
Photo by: Tracie Hall via Flickr

5. Newport Aquarium -Newport, KY

This awesome overnight experience is something not to miss if you are in the Newport Area. First up, children and adults of all ages are welcome although they do recommend children be at least 6 years old. Each group of children must be accompanied by an adult and there will be no shortage of fun activities to keep everyone entertained all night long. Along with backstage animal experiences and encounters, sleepover guests will get guided tours, help with tank feedings and enjoy either a shark or penguin presentation. The sleeping areas include Shark Tunnel (our personal favorite), Jellyfish Gallery or Coral Tunnel. An evening snack and breakfast is included, as is admission to the aquarium the next day. At just $49 per person, this is an amazing price to check out what happens after dark at this ultra cool aquarium.

Photo by: Jeff Kubina via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Jeff Kubina via Wikimedia Commons

4. SeaWorld -San Diego, CA and San Antonio, TX

For any animal lover ages four to 14, with an adult chaperone, a family sleepover at SeaWorld might just be the most unforgettable and exciting night of your life. Your event begins at 5:45 pm where guests will be invited to check in and eat a delicious pasta dinner. Following that are a multitude of animal encounters and fun and educational activities. Bedtime ranges between 10 pm to midnight and sleepover guests are encouraged to explore SeaWorld the entire next day, as admission is included. Kids also love the fact that they get a souvenir SeaWorld sleepover t-shirt to take home. If you happen to take the kids to SeaWorld San Antonio, try to visit during the Christmas season and stay overnight at the South Pole with the penguin encounter. Nothing says Merry Christmas than waking up to these cheerful creatures. Whichever experience you decide to try, you won’t be disappointed at SeaWorld.

Roka / Shutterstock.com
Roka / Shutterstock.com

3. Monterey Bay Aquarium -Monterey Bay, CA

Seashore sleepovers at this aquarium offer animal loves the chance to experience the aquarium after hours, even choosing to sleep next to your favorite exhibit. Check in begins at 6 pm and sleeping areas are first come first serve, which means you best come early to get the sleeping area you want. The doors close at 8 pm to the general public and that is truly when the adventure begins. Special programming throughout the night means you won’t ever be bored and participants can choose to explore the aquarium on their own or participate in one of the many activities. A light evening snack is offered and bedtime is between 10:30 pm and 11 pm. In the morning have a continental breakfast in the café and spend the rest of the day exploring the aquarium by daylight.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

2. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada -Toronto, ON

Let’s talk facts; this aquarium features over 16,000 animals, North America’s longest underwater viewing tunnel and more than 100 interactive exhibits, including three touch exhibits featuring horseshoe crabs, sharks and rays. What makes this aquarium even better, which we didn’t think was possible, is there shark sleepovers. Yes we said shark sleepovers. Visitors are invited throughout the year to curl up under the famous shark tank and sleep under the watchful eyes of the scary sharks that swim overhead. Included in this experience is admission to the aquarium in the evening and the next day, a take home activity in the classroom and a late night snack plus breakfast. The aquarium does remain open to the general public until 11 pm on the night of the sleepover but rest assured you will be the only ones that get to experience the overnight in the dangerous lagoon tunnel, packed full of sand tiger sharks, roughtail stingrays and green sea turtles.

mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com
mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com

1. National Aquarium in Baltimore -Baltimore, MD

It is no surprise that this impressive aquarium boasts two awesome sleepovers for anyone over the age of eight. Visitors here can choose to sleepover with the dolphins or the sharks, each offering unique programming. For dolphin lovers the evening begins with a talk from the marine mammal team where you will get to know the dolphins and discover how they learn and play. From there, a kid-friendly dinner is served and you are off to experience the 4-D immersion films, explore the aquarium after dark and discover the behind-the-scenes area with expert guides. Fall asleep in one of the underwater viewing areas and in the morning help wake the dolphins up with an exclusive enrichment session. If you choose to sleep with the sharks, expect much of the same experiences; only substitute the dolphin with the shark. A once in a lifetime opportunity awaits you here at this awesome aquarium.

LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com
LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com