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Category Archives: Travel

Beach Central America Beaches for Surfing

When it comes to water adventurous vacation, Central America comes to the mind first. With a lot of beaches with pristine sands and large open area ideally suitable for a variety of adventurous activities, beaches there offer a good opportunity for full fun and pleasure coupled a chance for digging through plenty of delicious cuisines that you will have irresistible cravings for.
If the sea surfing is part of your vacation, Cost Rica and Punt Rica are two best beaches that allow for unstoppable water recreational activities. From sea surfing, boating, motor boating, cruising to fishing, you will have plenty of different experience all you vacation. Not only that, there are many restaurants offering a variety of palatable dishes. So you can have a chance of enjoying beautiful yummy dishes with your family.
When in Costa Rica, you must go to the Nicoya Peninsula, the home to a beach often known as Playa Tamarindo that is among the best beaches across the USA. Unlike other places, it is more than just a tourist hotspot that offers a variety of accommodation and entertainment. The Manual Antonio a famous nature reserve is more than a reason for those who want to explore of the beauty of nature from a close distance. Also, the place boasts of many world-class hotels offering great accommodations at the most reasonable price to tourists from across the world.
Another place that makes an ideal choice for an exciting and thrilling vacation is called Palencia which is situated in the sought of Belize at the end of a very small peninsula. It is often referred to as being a beach that allows tourists to have an amazing relax as well as explore the water or marine life in exciting ways. Also, it has incredible flora life. If you have a passion for photography, the place offers a gilded opportunity for photography. Rich wildlife, beautiful aquatic life, and amazing scenery from dusk to dawn make tourists from across the world visit here. It is one of the most visit Central America beaches for surfing and other adventure water activities such as motor boating, scuba diving and so on.

Other beaches widely known for sea surfing and other water sports include Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua as well as Belize. They are less developed areas so they are one of the best places for those who want to explore natural life in a different way. You not just enjoy the surfing, but also dig through a number of amazing things that you can hardly find at other places. They are excellent places for a perfect fun packed vacation either with family, spouse, or colleagues.

Andaman Island

Dominated by luxury crystal blue water beaches, world class diving adventure fun and far- flung location, Andaman is an ideal holiday destination for honeymooners. With lovely emerald waters and mangrove forest, the island features some of world’s richest and virgin marine reserves.

Being a Union Territory of India, the Andaman is an archipelago of 570 tropical islands, out of which 36 are inhabitant. A part of Nicobar Islands, 86 percent of land is covered by forest area. The population here comprises South and Southeast Asian settlers, as well as Negrito ethnic groups. Spread over 6408 sq. kms, accompanied by Nicobar Islands, the region enjoys tropical and humid climate which is seamless for vacation.

Boosted with immensely rich flora and fauna, the region is truly gift by nature to humanity in Bay of Bengal. With having 100s of islands, only few are open for tourists. Some of major attractions of Andaman are- Ross Island, Cellular Jail National Memorial, Little Andaman Lighthouse and Elephant Beach. The best part of Andaman Islands is the scuba diving and other underwater adventures. With Port Blair, the capital city being well-connected to major Indian cities, travellers can easily travel to this location. So pack your bags and head to this nature’s gift to humanity.

How to Reach Andaman?

Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman is well-connected to other countries. Port Blair is well-connected through air with Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. Port Blair is also connected through water transport from Chennai, Kolkata and Visakhapatnam. The connectivity is becoming better with more and more travellers are choosing Andaman as the ideal tourist destination.

By Air:

Large numbers of tourist travel to this island country from around the world. Travellers can travel to Port Blair easily through airways as several aviation including Jet Airways, Air Deccan, Indian Airlines and Spice. These flights connect to Port Blair from cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai. All flights take 2hrs to reach Port Blair.

By Sea:

Port Blair, the capital city of Andaman can be reached by sea. Usually 3-4 boats sail a month between Port Blair and Chennai and takes 3 days to reach. Similarly is between Kolkata and Port Blair. A monthly ferry runs between Visakhapatnam and Port Blair taking 4 days. All boat put their anchor at Haddo Jetty.

Getting Around Andaman:

With the increasing number of tourists coming in, getting around Andaman has become quite easier. Tourists can rent cars and bikes to roam around. A car with a driver will cost approx. Rs 500 per 35km. You can even go for motorbikes that can be rented from Port Blair and from all other islands under certain rent amount. There are certain restrictions for foreigners to drive their own vehicles to North and Middle Andaman.

Boat:

You can reach to different islands by boat which are available in different jetties and at the specific timings. There are regular ferries to visit important places like Havelock Island and Neil Island.

Where to stay in Andaman:

Andaman offers many options for tourist to stay at. From 5 stars to guest houses, tourist can select as per the budget and choice. Below are few options to stay in Andaman:

  • Sinclairs Bayview:

This 3 star hotel is located on the road to Corbyn’s Cove, 2km outside town. The hotel offers nice seaside garden with hammocks to lounge. The hotel offers free airport transport to its guests.

  • Gold India Beach Resort:

Set in Havelock Island, every room here is air-conditioned and features flat screen TV. The resort offer free use of bicycles and bike to travel around. Guests can enjoy water sports available near the resort.

  • Hotel Hill Top International:

Located in Port Blair, each room is well maintained with modern amenities. Chidyatapu Sunset Point is 23 km and the Vandur Beach is 25 km. The Port Blair Bus Station is 3.5 km and the Veer Savarkar International Airport is 8 km away.

  • Sea Shell Havelock:

Featuring restro and bar, this guest house is located in the most peaceful location of Andaman. Kalapathar and Elephant Beach are located 5-6km away from the guest house. Guests can enjoy both Indian and International cuisines like Urban Takka and some refreshing beverages.

What to See?

Andaman Island is blessed with nature’s beauty, accompanied with crystal blue sea, dense forest and soothing breeze. Every beach here is exotic blended with freshness and alluring environment. Andaman offers some best options to see around:

Port Blair: This capital city is the famous destination to visit in Andaman. Surrounded by dense lush forest and rugged coastline, the capital creates and image of Indian rural areas. With the vibrant cultural mix of Bengalis, Tamils, Telugus, Nicobarese and Burmese, it is the perfection destination to explore.

Havelock Island: Blessed with white-snow beaches, coastline with shacks and offering the best water adventure sports, Havelock Island should not be missed. This is the location where every tourist visits and stays during their trip.

Neil Island: This tranquil island is the most peaceful location in Andaman Island. Though it doesn’t offers luxury amenities as Havelock offers, but still remains the perfect destination.

Little Andaman: Get the feast mangroves, jungle and teal ringed facing the enigmatic beach of Little Andaman. Though it was badly by 2004 Tsunami event, this spot remains the favourite spot for tourists.

What to do?

Water Sports:

Enjoy the water sports at Havelock Island and Ross & Smith Island. The latter is connected by narrow sandbar and is the best location for snorkelling and swimming.

Restaurant:

Visit Excel Restaurant at Port Blair and enjoy dinner under the alluring bamboo-rooftop above Hotel Lalaji Bayview. You can enjoy grilled fish, burgers, Israeli dishes and other such menus.

Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park:

You can enjoy half snorkelling trips Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park for those who want to enjoy underwater experience. There are around 15 islands of mangrove creeks, tropical rainforest and reefs. You can travel by boat that departs 9am from Wandoor Jetty, costing ₹750 in addition to the ₹500 permit.

Little Andaman Lighthouse:

14km east of Hut Bay, this lighthouse offers magnificent view over the coastline and forest. You can have peaceful walk over this lighthouse beach where very few log into.

Samudrika Marine Museum:

This museum is run by Indian Navy and is the home of diverse range of exhibits tribal communities, plants, animals and marine life. Just outside the museum you’ll see a skeleton of young blue whale washed ashore.

Tour of Zion in Las Vegas

Zion Canyon National Park is a global treasure, and is one of the reasons that we have rules regarding national parks. Zion is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled locations in the world, and each year plays host to hundreds of thousands of tourists from all over the world who want to experience the beauty of the area. Every few years or so, there is some sort of encroachment that threatens the park, which is warded off by the rules regarding development within the area itself as well as within a buffer zone around it. The area has had development attempts in all forms ranging from natural resources exploration and harvesting to tourism, and in order to keep the area unspoiled all forms of development have been put down. This does create a bit of a travel issue with regards to visiting the area, however.

When you decide that you are going to tour Zion, you are going to realize quickly that the nearest cities are Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, and neither of them is a short drive. It will take more than four hours to drive to the park from either area, and although there are smaller cities closer to the park they are not able to service major airlines. This will create an issue for anyone who is not local to the area, and who needs to fly in order to visit. Major airlines flying into Las Vegas will give you the best prices and most availability of flights, and the fact that Las Vegas is a tourist town will mean that there are more hotel and restaurant choices available there than in Salt Lake City. This is why so many choose to begin their Zion tour by flying into Las Vegas, and doing the tour as part of a larger vacation that will use the city as the starting and ending point.

Several tour companies operate out of Las Vegas providing these very types of tours. Generally, Zion is offered as part of a larger tour package that will visit several national parks over a period of two to five days, generally camping in one or more park overnight in order to heighten the experience. Operators utilize this travel plan in order to maximize the experiences of the trip while minimizing driving time. Next time you want to experience a southwestern national park, start in Las Vegas.

Morocco Adventure Holiday

Contrary to popular belief, Morocco isn’t all about the marketplaces & the stunning cosmopolitan city. There’re in fact a lot of things to see and do for those who are on Morocco private holidays. As a frequent traveler I had the opportunity to explore Morocco quite a few times. So, here I explained few exciting things to do during your excursion in Morocco.

Morocco is a nation of both incredible landscapes & enthralling cities, so if your adventure taste involves the affection for heights, you’re in for a genuine treat. Just visualize boarding on a hot air balloon from Marrakech and quietly glide over Morocco while relishing the awe-inspiring backdrop. The Morocco tour agency I went through for a hot air ballooning adventure also encompassed a trip to a village to have mint tea & home-baked bread while interacting with a native Berber family.

For those people who’re into more adventure than just a slow glide on the air, private flights are offered by many travel company as well. Several routes are accessible if you pick this alternative, and these trips can last amid an exciting 12 minutes to a widespread 4 hours.

A more comprehensive & encompassing helicopter trip that suggest is Atlas tour which takes approximately 1 hour to accomplish. During this excursion in Morocco, you have the opportunity to witness the significant backdrop of the Atlas Mountains, Lake Takerkoust, Ouirgane, Toubkal, Oukaimeden, the Ourika Valley, and Marrakech.

Do you fancy racing a quad bike around the town? Well, bike enthusiasts will like the adventure of coasting around Palm Grove where they can zip around, praising the picture-perfect ‘green-region’ of Marrakech which’s home to some of the most stunning holf courses, luxury homes and hotels. You’ll also have the opportunity to tour the popular Marrakech Piste oasis, ride some breathtaking dunes, and explore some Berber hamlets before stopping to relish a tea break with some of the friendly local people.

If you’re after a more planned desert experience with a tour guide, you better contact a reliable travel agency in Morocco. Reputed travel firms may also offer you with a customized itinerary that include helicopter rides, hot air ballooning and quad biking in the sand.

I hope you enjoy reading this article and hopefully it will help you get ready for your next luxury Morocco holidays. Morocco is such an amazing country, that you will wish to visit again and again.

The Manaslu Circuit Trekking

Hiking around the Manaslu region provides a very unique chance to explore a genuinely undamaged province of Nepal. This province of Nepal witnesses a lesser number of trekkers throughout the year, which makes a trip here more exclusive & untouched. Opened for hiking since 1991, Manaslu offers an exceptional raw splendor along the border of Tibet and Nepal and now is a controlled trekking trail, permitting organized trekking groups special permits to get access into this province to explore its awe-inspiring circuit. On the whole, you can say Manaslu circuit trekking is a lifetime experience.

Manaslu boast a very unique atmosphere, which’s wonderfully affluent in biodiversity that has made this province one of the best traveler destinations in Nepal since long. The grand Himalayan ranges inside this province encompass cultural diversity & natural splendor with high elevation romantic glacier lakes & exquisite flora and fauna, which make this the most liked trekking areas in Nepal.

The Manaslu Circuit trekking starts with a drive to Arughat then to Soti Khola. The route then go through several settlements such as Jagat, Machha Khola, Philim, traditional hamelets, dense woodlands and relishing the picturesque vistas of the enclosing mountains concurrently. On the route, you’ll also come to see diverse flora and fauns of the Manaslu Conservation Area. The hike includes crossing the Larkya La Pass at a stature of 5,213m, then finally trek towards Besisahar, Dharapani and drive back to Kathmandu. Manaslu circuit trekking can be customized from moderate to difficult as per your wish. With adequate time to rest & acclimatizing during the journey you can successfully clear the obstacles.

Ideal time for Manaslu circuit trekking:

Ideal time for Manaslu trekking would be throughout the months of March to May and early September to November. Being a demanding hike for more than 2 weeks, it’s pretty essential to be in an excellent shape with great fitness level prior to joining this expedition. Just like Everest base camp trekking and upper mustang trekking proper acclimatization & other essential safety measures should be taken care of. Moreover, you need to ensure that you’re prepared to encounter the challenges that will come on your way.

Because the mountains are unpredictable places, be ready for the adverse weather, landslides or other natural causes. These changes almost always throw up something you had not thought you would do but end up being glad you did. I’d thoroughly recommend this trek.

Adventure Treks to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu offers great conditions for trekking. The world famous trails are surrounded by beautiful mountains and valleys, historic places and is least polluted making it great for anyone who wants to enjoy beautiful sceneries, learn some ancient history of the people of south America and suck in the fresh air from the environment. No wonder the Machu Picchu wilderness is one of world top trekking adventure destinations.

For anyone interested in choosing their own tour, it is important that you understand that trekking the Machu Picchu trail requires at least four days for you to be able to fully appreciate the beauty if the picturesque landscape marked by beautiful forests, rivers, and the ancient Incans kingdom ruins. When you arrive in Peru for the great trek head straight to the city of Cuzco where your trekking adventure should start and pass through a beautiful country before reaching the historical and once lost Machu Picchu city.

Before you start your adventure treks to Machu Picchu it is important to note that this is a very popular adventure trekking site in the world. This popularity has negative effects on the trail. In order to conserve the trail, the government of Peru sets restrictions on the number of trekkers on the trail. Because of this, you are required to obtain a permit from the government before you start your trek. This means that you should try and organize your trip in advance and before traveling to Peru and if possible book into a group tour with one of the local tour organizations which will help seek all the permits you need for the trek. Most people just travel blindly hoping that they will be allowed on the trek. This blind travel often ends up in disappointments.

So what should you expect when you choose your own trekking tour in Machu Picchu? There are three major crowd pullers to this treks; the great history of the Incans, the ability to exercise in a serene environment and being closest to nature that you can get.

The world famous Incans had a rich and quite interesting history. It is believed that the Incans were among the first civilized communities in the world. The community is believed to have emerged in the 1200 AD and developed tremendously over the years. They build Machu Picchu as their capital city around 1450 AD but abandoned it a century later because of the Spanish conquest. Other than Machu Picchu which seems to defy aging, the trail has lots of pieces of history from the past that will both fascinate you and cause an itch in you to want to know more about the people who lived here a thousand years ago.

If you love to exercise and stay fit, then the Machu Picchu trail will help you do that in a beautiful and serene environment and without having to undergo the rigors of having to run around your neighborhood or on a treadmill. The trek should take you about four days walking across the Anders. Here you will have to climb mountains, descend steep hills and if possible bicycles uphill. All this makes up for a perfect moderate fitness exercise that will not only help your joints but will also help tone your body.

Machu Picchu is a great place to trek. It has a perfect environment filled with beautiful mountains and historical ruins for you to see.

Way Pack for Trips

Where are you going? The wilderness

The elements will be both a marvel and a maverick force. Often finding yourself miles from shelter and civilisation, you’ll need to carry protective kit. Advances in the design of walking shoes mean clunky hiking boots might not be essential, but a quick-drying, wind- and rain-proof shell or jacket will be. Large plastic bin liners, ziplock bags in different sizes and/or waterproof bag liners will help keep kit dry.

Packing essentials

Temperatures will vary wildly with weather, season and altitude, so embrace the layering system.

  • Base layer: a high-wicking, close-fitting top and possibly bottoms. Merino wool is warmest and needs less frequent washing.
  • Mid-layer: fleece or similar on top; quick-drying walking trousers on the bottom.
  • Outer layer: a breathable waterproof/windproof jacket and trousers.
  • Extra-warm layer: a down jacket for use at night can be spirit-lifting, and adds comfort on chilly damp days.

Where are you going? The cool culture city

While perhaps not so culturally unfamiliar, this destination still demands careful suitcase strategy. Many of the essentials will be digital. Want to hotfoot it across town to bag that gold-dust restaurant reservation/show ticket/cheap hotel room? Then download interactive offline maps or apps that access wi-fi without resorting to roaming charges. And while the scene may be hot, the weather might not. Layers are key for looks that balance comfort and style.

Packing essentials

  • Comfortable shoes: your kicks should be stylish but should also sit happily on your feet while pounding miles of pavement.
  • Sunglasses: it might not always be sunny, but life in the city, from the glare of the morning-after to that dazzling check-in moment at the hotel, demands sleek shades.
  • Cashmere jumper: this softie packs down to almost nothing and is the perfect defence against ferocious summer air-con in hotels and on the plane.

Where are you going? Rainforest expeditions

Packing for protection in the tropics is paramount. You’re most likely modes of transport to explore this part of the world will be exposed: canoes, kayaks, jeeps and your own two feet. It’s hot, but you’ll need to cover up.

You may be here to see the big mammals – howler monkeys, jaguars, orangutans or even tigers – but the most prevalent beasties are the smaller, biting kind. The other stinger is humidity, which will play havoc with everything from skin to suitcases if you’re unprepared.

Packing essentials

  • Shoulder the burden: a sturdy backpack is best for this terrain.
  • Quick-dry: the tropics can cool down at night so you’ll need layers, but ensure they’re made of quick-drying material (not cotton) or you’ll be clammy and chilly.
  • Itchy and scratchy: insect repellent containing DEET (diethyltoluamide) and an anti-itch ointment are must-haves.

cruiseYou’ll need high-spec binoculars to hand if you hope to spot Antarctica’s elusive wildlife © Andrew Peacock / Getty Images

Where are you going? The Antarctic

You’re going outside… you may be some time. But, in fact, as most Antarctic trips are cruises, much of your southern exposure is likely to occur in the comfort of a very well-equipped ship, with short excursions by motor boat and on foot. As such, Antarctic forays don’t require huge amounts of specialist gear. It’s worth investing in a decent pair of insulated waterproof boots, though.

Packing essentials

  • Parka life: most Antarctic ships provide a take-home parka jacket for each passenger, so leave that hulking great down-filled puffer jacket at home.
  • Chill out: Antarctic cruising is generally casual, so you don’t need that ball gown. Each operator has different dress codes and supplied kit, however, so read up before you travel.
  • Best bins: pack the highest-spec pair of binoculars you can afford, and a camera with a good zoom, unless you want to see nothing but the occasional finned blob.

Where are you going? High-desert trekking

From the Great Basin and the Mojave deserts of the USA to the Sahara-backed Moroccan Atlas Mountains, take a high-altitude desert trek and it soon becomes clear that not all deserts are made of sand. Packing for active trips here needs to take temperature extremes into account, along with footwear and kit that can tackle rough, rocky, exposed terrain. Take a leathery leaf out of a cowboy’s book and stay covered up. The more skin is exposed to the elements, the more evaporation (and dehydration) occurs.

Packing essentials

  • Be bio: go for biodegradable soaps and lotions where possible and, if you want to up your chances of spotting wildlife, ditch scented deodorants and perfumes.
  • Go solar: in these sun-soaked parts of the world, a solar charger will get more than enough exposure to be useful. That said, wi-fi and phone signals are likely to be scant, so while your devices may be charged, their use will be limited. Consider a GPS as a back-up, and perhaps a traditional compass, too.

Where are you going? Big-Five country

The tiny charter plane that delivers you deep into the African bush dictates all when it comes to suitcase strategy. For over-packers, the associated weight restrictions are as brutal as a lion kill – limiting you to luggage that averages as little as 10kg. And within this small soft duffle (forget wheelie cases) you need to combine kit that is functional, photogenic and, ideally, includes some outfits that have at least a little fashion flair.

Packing essentials

  • Colour me glad: up your chances of getting nose to whisker with the big game and blend in with the bush by wearing natural, earthy tones.
  • Get protective: Buy a couple of choice pieces of clothing that are UV-protective and pre-treated with bug repellent.
  • Camera kit and caboodle: powerful binoculars, a compact camera for snaps, SLR and long-range lenses, extra batteries, memory cards, charger… Photographic gear will already account for much of your luggage, but it’s worth considering an additional item: a rubber air-blower to remove grit and sand from clogged cameras and lenses.

Where are you going? Round the world (RTW)

How to fit kit for two hemispheres into one bag? Doing so is the key to packing successfully for a true RTW trip. Consider what you can ditch as much as what’s essential. If you need heavy trekking boots and a down jacket in New Zealand or South America at the start, but won’t use them again as you travel via the South Pacific/Asia, consider sending stuff home as it becomes redundant.

Packing essentials

  • Pull the cord: you can use a bungee or parachute cord to tie things to the outside of your pack, make a line to dry clothes, or strap your bag to the roof of a bus.
  • Plug it: does your room-mate snore like a howler monkey? Pack earplugs. These will also serve you well when bedding down for that long airport layover, or during that clattering long-distance train journey.
  • Travel trilogy: the lucky formula for light packers comes in threes. Namely three pairs of socks, three pairs of underwear and three shirts; one to wear, one to wash, one to dry.

Losar Festival of Ladakh

The festival of Losar dates back to the pre Buddhist era. This festival is celebrated in many places across the world which includes India, Nepal and Tibet. Especially, in India, the celebrations are highly eventful and ostentatious. It is celebrated in Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. It is the celebration conducted to mark the beginning of the new year. The Losar festival in Ladakh is really popular among the people and is also known to be the best. Usually, the celebrations involve an elaborate schedule. A huge concentration of Buddhist population gets together to celebrate this important occasion of the land. A lot of preparations are undertaken way before the festival date arrives. It is conducted during the winter season and is one of the most distinctive events of the region.

Basically, Losar is also commonly known as the festival of Ladakh. It is a ceremonial event where prayers and religious offerings are made to the deities in the Gompas and domestic shrines and to the spirits of the land. During the preparations, the houses are cleaned and washed, old and unused items are usually replaced with new ones, or disposed to ward off negativity, houses and similar areas are decorated beautifully to welcome positive vibes, abundant offerings are made to each other known as ‘Lama Losar’, people visit, meet and greet one another. It is a festival of colour, lights, love, joy, happiness, laughter and so on. The picturesque landscape of the region adds to the beauty of the festival. There are huge crowds grooving to the lively atmosphere of the region. There is an exorbitant display of traditional dances, cultural events, local music, stage plays and fights, sumptuous and delectable food and much more. There are joy and entertainment in every step. This festival continues to be celebrated for about three days in a row during every winter. However, the place of the event and the dates tend to change each year. The Ladakh Festival 2016 date is December 30 as per the current record.

As mentioned above, this festival is an important affair of the entire region. During this period the place is full of tourists enjoying themselves with the local crowd. Many prefer to plan their trips during the celebration time itself in order to make the most of their vacation. Ladakh is an awesome place and the chilling winters are too exciting for any traveler. The tourism department of Ladakh is hospitable and responsible. However, one can plan their trip with the help of any reputed and authorized travel agency to visit Ladakh. All the needful details and itinerary will be provided accordingly. One must surely visit the region and enjoy every bit of the scenic place.

Outdoor adventures in Kosovo

In spite of the growing variety of ways to experience Kosovo’s natural beauty, the promotion efforts of its adventure industry have been largely of the word-of-mouth variety until recently. While those in the know might be happy to keep the unspoiled magic of Kosovo’s countryside a secret, we just had to share. Consider this your guide to thrill-seeking in Europe’s youngest country.

Hiking

For most of the people who have walked Kosovo’s craggy perimeter over the centuries, climbing mountains has been an essential way of life, whether that was to reach new plains of grass for animal feed or to trade with a neighbouring village. Thanks to its location along increasingly prominent mega-hiking trails – like the seven-country, 2000km Via Dinarica and the German-backed Peaks of the Balkanstrail – a growing number of visitors to Kosovo have also started to claim its multitude of 2500m-plus peaks.

There are plenty of in-country resources about how to best approach Kosovo’s top treks. Local tour operator Rugova Experience has been guiding the Peaks of the Balkans trail since 2013. Creative upstart Balkan Outdoor Experience (boexperience.com) also offers some outside-the-box packages, such as a hiking and yoga trip to the top of the 2403m Hajla peak on the Montenegrin border. The trip includes hearty homemade meals and an overnight stay in a mountain lodge maintained by local mountain expert and environmental protection advocate Fatos Lajçi (+386 49 204 421).

Biking

What comes up must come down. What better way to descend from your rocky heights than at the helm of a bike? While you can get your mountain biking fix on a visit to the capital Pristina and its 62km Germia Park, you must go further afield to western Kosovo to experience the country’s most heart-pounding routes. Although it’s becoming easier to find marked biking trails, you will likely need the guidance of local experts like Outdoor Kosovo or Catun (catun.net) to find your way as a short-term visitor.

Launched in 2014 by an architect with a passion for cultural preservation, Catun – a variation on the word ‘village’ in Albanian – also offers road biking tours that take visitors through the heart of the Kosovo countryside, past several newly restored 18th-century stone houses known as kullas. To experience true Albanian kulla hospitality, make sure to stop by the home of Isuf Mazrekaj in the small village of Drenoc. Here you can refuel on the layered crepe-like local delicacy known as flija, prepared in the traditional way over an outdoor fire.

Other mountain adventures

Italian for ‘iron road’, the via ferrata mountaineering technique is best known for its use by soldiers crossing the Alps during WWI. Today, it is an increasingly popular way to reach some of Kosovo’s most splendid views from the top of Rugova Canyon outside the western city ofPeja (Peć). The municipality brought in Italian experts to help design the country’s first via ferrata, which built demand for a second in the canyon – as well as its newest attraction: a zipline. Balkan Natural Adventure (bnadventure.com) is the best local resource to book your via ferrata, zipline, caving or rock climbing adventure in the Rugova region. Another local operator, Outdoor In (ibarski-kolasin.org) offers an even more extreme via ferrata in the northern Serb-majority municipality of Zubin Potok.

Horseback riding

Not all of Kosovo’s best outdoor attractions are out west. For those drawn to adventures of the equestrian variety, the eastern municipality of Gjilan (Gnjilane) is home to a fully fledged dude ranch: the aptly named Vali Ranch (vali-ranch.com). Catering to various levels of ability, the ranch offers lessons in its arena, as well as longer rides out through the neighbouring wooded hills. With three restaurants, a petting zoo, a spa and a (fairly kitsch) hotel on site, Vali Ranch is a family-friendly escape for all ages.

For a more rustic experience, one must head south – nearly to the Macedonian border – to the mountain town of Brod. Although there have been concerns about animal care in the past, tour operator Traveks (traveks.com) is working with local horse owners to up their standard of care. With more horses than cars in this quiet town (known for producing fresh white cheese), you will fit right in on its winding rocky paths.

Snow sports

With its ring of mountains, Kosovo enjoys fairly regular snowfall in the winter. Though a €400 million deal to renovate the aging ski resort of Brezovica (brezovica-ski.com) seems to have stalled for the time being, it is still the country’s best option for carving fresh powder when the temperatures drop. The resort usually only has one operational lift, but – for the more adventurous – ski touring opens up endless possibilities to explore the exceptional untouched terrain in this part of the Sharr (Šar) Mountains.

Back in Rugova, Nol Krasniqi and the team at Balkan Natural Adventure also offer snowshoeing tours that will definitely keep you warm during the chillier months. After a full day making tracks through the peaceful forest, reward yourself with a glass (or two) of the local fruit brandy rakija and a warm meal in the home of the Shala family in the nearby village of Drelaj.

Make it happen

Kosovo is easily accessible by plane, with daily direct flights connecting Pristina to Istanbul and several major Western European cities. Buses are the best option both for getting around Kosovo and for reaching it from neighbouring Balkan capitals like Skopje and Tirana. For lodging in western Kosovo, consider any of the guesthouses listed above or the centrally located Hotel Dukagjini in Peja (Peć). Arxhena Hotel is a well-appointed option in Brod, while the ski-in, ski-out Woodland Hotel (facebook.com/pages/Woodland-Hotel-Brezovicë) offers the best stay in Brezovica.

Stavanger adventures

Here you’ll find the big wilderness that southwestern Norway does so well – jewel-coloured fjords, cliffhanger trails, dune-fringed beaches and moon-rock landscapes with a beauty that borders on the surreal. Here are just some of the adventures to be had on Stavanger’s doorstep.

On the edge: Pulpit Rock

The anticipation will mount on the cruise from Stavanger across Lysefjord, as day-trippers brave the top deck for close-ups of sheer cliffs and the rainbow-arced waterfalls that spill down their vertical faces. These mighty granite rocks razor many hundreds of metres above opalescent waters of cyan, azure and turquoise. It’s a sight that inspires towards the poetic and the profound, and one that distills the ethereal beauty of Norway’s southern fjords.

Preikestolen, or Pulpit Rock, is the iconic fist of rock which thrusts 604m above the fjord. To reach it, you can take a 4km-long path – partly hacked out by Nepalese Sherpas – which wriggles up through a dense forest of gnarled pine and birch, before shimmying across granite slabs and exposed cliffs to the plateau.

Pulpit Rock is spectacular whatever the Nordic weather gods throw at it; not even fog can detract from its heart-stopping proportions. While most hikers sensibly stand well back from the precipice, some caution-free visitors dangle limbs precariously over the edge or pose for selfies, even though it seems they might blow off the edge with the gentlest puff of wind.

Near the trailhead is a 350m-long zipline (preikestolenfjellstue.no/zip-line), which ups the vertigo further still and offers fleeting glances of the Lysefjord scything its way through a ripple of grey mountains.

Head for heights: Kjerag and Flørli

Stavanger is also the jumping off point for a number of other staggering day hikes, including a more challenging 28km version of the Preikestolen trek (seven to eight hours). Every bit as arresting is the region’s other rock star – the 1100m-high Kjerag. This mighty rock with a five-cubic-metre boulder wedged into a crevice in the cliffs is such a freak of nature it looks superimposed. Hikers rave about the stiff 10km hike to the top, while the vertical drop makes it a prime launch pad for BASE-jumping.     

Slightly to the west of Kjerag is Flørli (florli.no), a long wooden stairway – the longest in the world, in fact – which leads to heavenly views. Puffing up the 4,444 steps brings you to a viewpoint 740m up that commands an outlook deep into Lysefjord and the Preikestolen massif.

Fjord thrills

Hitting the fjords near Stavanger reveals the region in a whole new light. The scenery switches the instant you leave the harbour, with rugged, seabird-dotted islets and bays coyly tucked into the pleats and folds of the cliffs.

To up the adventure a notch, take a RIB ride (fjordevents.no) that bounces and swerves across the inky waters at speeds of up to 50mph, leaving you windswept, wave splashed and crying out loud for more.

Should you prefer to paddle the fjord at your own pace, gazing up to the cliffs and rock formations in quiet exhilaration, there are plenty of opportunities to slip into a canoe or kayak, for instance with Rogaland Activ (rogalandaktiv.no). Porpoises, sea eagles, seals and wild goats are often sighted. A night in the wilderness can be combined with kayaking, stand-up-paddle-boarding or canoeing at the foot of Pulpit Rock at Preikestolen Mountain Lodge (preikestolenfjellstue.no).

These can easily be tied in with a trip to Flor & Fjære (florogfjare.no), a little Eden near Stavanger, which bears the imprint of landscape gardener Olav Brin and his wife Siri. Once barren, the island of Sør-Hidle is now a riot of colour, plumed with palms and cacti, bamboo and olive, figs and banana trees, plus seemingly every flower under the sun.

Paths wend past a meditatively calm bonsai garden, where neatly clipped trees reflect in a koi-filled lake, and through gardens stippled with slender cypresses and fragrant with lavender – all of which flourish in the local microclimate.

Mighty waves and moon rock

Heading south of Stavanger, the Jæren region has the kind of big skies, open horizons, lush farmland and ocean views that can instantly lift a mood. On a clear day, the pure, sharp light is dazzling, and surfers, windsurfers and kite-surfers harness North Sea waves on the broad, dune-backed beaches of Borestranden and sublime Solastranden. One of Norway’s 18 national tourist routes wends its way through the region; this 41km coastal road (nasjonaleturistveger.no/en/routes/jæren) strings these beaches together with cultural highlights like Kvassheim Lighthouse (friluftsfyret-kvassheim.no), which dates to 1912, and Sverd I Fjell, a trio of mighty Viking swords embedded in rock that marks where King Harald Fairhair fought a battle to unite Norway in 872 AD.

Further south still, the scenery shifts and gives way to the massive boulders, deep valleys and pockmarked, cave-pitted hillsides of the Magma Geopark (magmageopark.no). This unique, 2320-sq-km protected area is scarred by the erosive forces of the last Ice Age and if the landscape seems lunar, that’s because it is – the dominant rock here is anorthosite, a rare igneous rock that is more common on the moon than on earth.

A terrific base for exploring the park and its fjords is Sogndalstrand, a dinky harbour village crammed with listed 19th-century wooden buildings. From here, it’s possible to take a boat across the gorgeous Jøssingfjord to Helleren. While settlements have been here since the Stone Age, the big draw today is the two houses that huddle below a rock overhang. A nearby marked trail makes a 300m scramble up the rocks to Hellersheia where soul-stirring views across Jøssingfjord await.

Top billing for hikes in the Geopark, however, goes to the Brufjell, a three-hour circular walk involving a challenging descent to the coast and some truly impressive caves and potholes carved out by glacial erosion at the height of the last Ice Age. Like much of this region, the route looks freshly minted for a film set and somehow not quite of this world.