Karamea New Zealand – Natural Beauty of the North West Coast

North West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island

Sign Welcome to Karamea New ZealandMost people have never heard of Karamea New Zealand on the South Island’s West Coast. Tourists and locals often skip Karamea; it is relatively unspoiled. That is what attracted us. Reading about New Zealand’s pristine natural bush, the hikes, and wild coastal oceanfront, plus the quiet town of Karamea with its surrounding beauty drew us there. Places like the Oparara Basin and the unique arch rock formations, and Karamea are at the end of the West Coast’s northern road. An adventure where our only costs were room and food; truly an ‘adventure in style for less.’ All of the sights  Continue reading

TranzAlpine Scenic Railway Journey – 5 reasons to take the train

New Zealand’s TranzAlpine Scenic Railway Journey

KiwiRail's TranzAlpine Railway empty carWhen thinking of the Alps, the Swiss Alps come to mind; I never considered any other Alps, and yet New Zealand has the beautiful Southern Alps.  And the TranzAlpine Scenic Railway Journey is the best way to see the Southern Alps.

Simply sit back and gaze at the stunning scenery through the huge windows in the comfortable seats of the TranzAlpine Scenic Railway.   What a wonderful opportunity to take in the Canterbury Plains, the farms, the foothills to the mountains, the gorges, river valleys, and the jaw dropping snowcapped Southern Alps, even in summer. Or …

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Top 10 Favorite Places in New Zealand’s South Island

Top 10 New Zealand’s South Island

Want to know the best places to spend your time when in New Zealand’s South Island?

Lochmara pole carvingsAfter completing a trip of a lifetime, we are excited to share our favorites. Four and a half weeks in New Zealand’s South Island, and we can show you mountaintops, snow, beaches, oceans, wineries, seafood, varied history and culture.

This is the first article in a series on the top places to visit in New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific South Seas. Since there is so much to share, this first article will give an overview of our top 10 favorite places in New Zealand’s South Island. It will be followed by more in-depth information and photos about each of the top places we recommend and others, as well as those to avoid that are over-hyped. Continue reading

Morocco – A Colorful Journey

Morocco – A Colorful Journey

Tile facade of Morocco buildingHave you ever wanted to immerse yourself in a non-western culture, something totally different, exotic, and colorful?  My friend Gail wanted to celebrate her birthday by experiencing a totally different environment from her norm.  After 2 months of research on Morocco, and with the help of hotel owner from Skoura named L’ma, Gail planned their own private experience.  Her own trip was less expensive than standard packages and just as nice.

This article takes you through the colorful two week tour that she and husband Mitch experienced, and what they loved about Morocco.

Morocco Travel – What was different? Continue reading

Canadian Bus Trip Vacation – Value & Experience

Canadian Bus Trip Starr ToursIn deciding what to do for summer vacation last year, friends Mark, Karen and their daughter, decided on a Canadian Bus Trip where they could relax, and let Starr, a local bus tour company, do the planning and driving. This post is a result of an interview with them that discusses the 6-day trip, and its pros and cons.

Selecting the Canadian Bus Trip – Quebec City and Montreal

MOverlook of Montreal from Mount Royalark’s friend had recently used Starr, and Mark liked the idea of having someone else do the driving (sounds good to me!).  Mark hadn’t been to Montreal and Quebec City so it sounded like a good choice. The Canadian Bus Trip description sounded inviting – “Explore the rich culture and Continue reading

Choosing Galapagos Land Accommodations

Courtyard at Galapagos Suites

Courtyard at Galapagos Suites

Before choosing Galapagos Land Accommodations, select the islands where you want to stay. If taking a land-only trip, I recommend splitting your time between Santa Cruz, staying in Ayora, and Isabela. Then you must decide if you want a 5-star hotel with all of the amenities, a hostel, or something in between.  Another big consideration is Continue reading

Costa Rica Travel Agents and Accommodations

As you may recall from other posts, our home base in Costa Rica was in Guanacaste, on the Pacific Coast.  Based on Costa Rica Travel Agents and Accommodations available, we chose the Playa del Coco area, and stayed quite a long walk from town at Ocotal Beach Resort.  We chose Ocotal because of the reputation of its dive operation.

Dive Shop recommended by Costa Rica Travel Agent

It is located on a beautiful site overlooking the Pacific, and not far from town by taxi.     Unobstructed View from Costa Rica Hotel Accommodations

Since we planned to dive and brought all of our dive gear, it was more convenient to rent one place for the whole time in Costa Rica. Then we did day trips or overnights to other areas, like San Jose, Arenal, and Tamarindo.  Volcano AheadSome people may think it is crazy to pay for 2 rooms, but it is much easier for us to choose our base, travel from there and only pack what we need.  (See our separate post for More on Diving in Costa Rica.)

Booking Accommodtions + Tours

The Costa Rica Accommodations that we chose for this trip were booked through Continue reading

Costa Rica Diving

More on Diving in Costa Rica

Diving is different, as you are diving in colder waters and around rock formations rather than coral.  There seem to be more very small colorful creatures, and more larger animals.

For exaOctopusmple, I have never seen so many octopus out during the day as I did during Costa Rica diving.  When I look at our pictures, almost every day has photos of octopus.

 

 

 

Puffers resting together in the rocks in Costa RicaThe cute puffers are everywhere; they were Continue reading

Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica & Ziplining

Land Adventures  in Costa Rica

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Know that it rains more in the central part of the country, in the regions near the Arenal Volcano and the Monteverde Cloud Forest – 2 choice locations.  We had wet weather in December around the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. You need a rain jacket.  The fog will often restrict the view of the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica.  We lucked out and had the volcano come into view while it was erupting at sunset – yeah!

While the coast is warm, 80s & 90s degrees F, the Arenal and Monteverde are  Continue reading

Ecuador and Galapagos Travel Adventure Planning

Mountain lake near Cuenca EcuadorI am excited to say that we are planning to spend part of Winter 2016 in  South America, specifically partaking in Ecuador and Galapagos travel adventures and in areas outside of Quito Ecuador both Land and Sea. Although Ecuador is a small country, it is ecologically diverse, from the Andes to the Amazon, to the Continue reading