Tips to Plan an Adventure Trip to the Amazon Rainforest

The Indigenous Amazon
It is believed that the Amazon rainforest is home to more than 50 indigenous communities that have never been in any sort of contact with the outside world.
The Amazon is the second longest river in the world after Nile, and its basin, which is also a marvel in itself, spans across eight countries. These include Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname, apart from the little overseas territory of France, viz., French Guiana. The Amazon rainforest, also known as the Amazon Jungle, covers most of the area occupied by the Amazon Basin in South America, and is undeniably the largest forest on our planet. It is a dense, moist, broadleaved jungle that supports such an unparalleled and varied ecosystem and offers such countless possibilities that at times, it almost seems like a fantastical dream―a folkloric region that boasts of near mythical inhabitants and happenings. But what really holds an element of mystique is the river itself; the majestic Amazon keeps on displaying its power and might from time to time.

Welcome to the Jungle!

The Amazon rainforest, as mentioned before, is the region of countless possibilities. It has so much to offer to the adventure-seekers that there comes a point when the forest expanse just starts seeming endless; you might stumble upon something new and exciting with every single step that you may take in Amazon’s wilderness. And this is precisely what makes the rainforest one of the most sought-after destinations of adventure enthusiasts―whether it is individual/group adventure or family fun, the Amazon Jungle is a treasure trove of ample opportunities for everyone.

Best Time to Travel

◆ In general, the Amazon rainforest experiences rainy season between November (or December) to about June.

◆ This is the time when the water level in the Amazon river rises, and the low-lying areas along its banks tend to get flooded. But owing to the risen water levels, many of the smaller channels along the basin actually become accessible at this time.

◆ This is best time for river cruising/kayaking adventures.

◆ On the other hand, between the months of July to December, the forest experiences dry season.

◆ This is the time when the water levels start receding with the rise in temperature. As the water recedes, a number of submerged beaches and trails get uncovered, thus, adding more exciting possibilities for adventures.

◆ For people who wish to indulge in activities such as fishing, hiking, and watching wildlife and birds, the dry season is the best time to travel.

Basic Factors to Consider

◆ The very first factor to take into consideration while planning a trip to the Amazon rainforest is whether you want to hire a tour operator or travel on your own.

◆ While traveling independently is possible, it often comes with its own set of complications. However, if you have a lot of time at your disposal, this option might suit you.

◆ If you opt to travel on your own, you will need to conduct thorough and adequate research, and make all your bookings―transport and accommodations―well in advance, and confirm them again before embarking on your journey.

◆ On the other hand, if you have limited time at your disposal and/or are planning your Amazon adventure for the first time, it is recommended that you hire a reputed tour operator who can take care of all the details of your trip and help you manage your budget.

◆ Independent travelers, even those who have been to the Amazon rainforest before, need to note that in most cases, you will feel the need to hire local tour operators, who will be able to help you with inland transfers and other basic facilities such as food and drink.

◆ The most important thing to consider is that you will need to have a local guide with you, especially if you intend to visit certain remote areas in the forest. A local guide who is well-versed with Spanish as well as the indigenous language of the region may be provided to you by your local tour operator.

◆ It should also be remembered that the Amazon region is prone to torrential rains that occur in the region almost every day. Owing to this, problems such as delayed flights and people missing the connecting flights are quite common there.

◆ Therefore, while booking your tickets, ensure that you do not miss out on this point. See to it that there is enough interval of time between the two flights you are going to take.

◆ Independent travelers must keep in mind that booking online will give them plenty of opportunities to avail discounted offers and other benefits, especially if they are booking well ahead. So, look for them and compare prices before making the final payment.

◆ Apart from the ones mentioned above, the most important factor to be considered is your overall budget. If you choose to go on a lavish, luxury trip to the Amazon rainforest, it would mean traveling by domestic flights/private cars, staying in upscale lodges/camps, eating grand lunches and dinners, and enjoying state-of-the-art facilities. However, such a trip will perhaps cut you off from the local culture and keep you from enjoying the reality of life in the Amazon.

◆ Budget travel to the region will mean that you will probably get very basic amenities like windowless chalets, public transport, and mediocre lunches and dinners.

◆ The best way to balance your budget in the Amazon region is to choose a good package deal that will include―apart from lodging―food, excursions, and other necessary facilities.
The Easiest Routes
◆ The Amazon rainforest can be best accessed through four countries, viz., Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

◆ If you wish to get into the rainforest from Brazil, the easiest and fastest route is from Manaus―the largest city of the Amazonas state in northern part of the country. You will find a good number of tour operators in Manaus, catering to all kinds of budgets.

◆ From Peru, the easiest way to access the Amazon rainforest is via the city of Iquitos in the Loreto Region of the country. Almost all the excursions to the Peruvian Amazon start from Iquitos. However, it should be noted that Iquitos can only be accessed from the rest of the country by air and water.

◆ The Ecuadorian Amazon can be accessed by means of flights and buses from various places in the country. The easiest option is to charter a small plane from the Ecuadorian capital city, Quito, or from Guayaquil, the country’s largest city. You can land on one of the regional airports on the edge of the Ecuadorian Amazon, such as that of Shell Mera. Road travel to the Ecuadorian Amazon is possible―the most common route is from Baños in central Ecuador to Puyo on the western edge of the Ecuadorian Amazon. However, it should be noted that the road journeys in this region may be dangerous owing to its rainy weather and hazards posed by landslides.

◆ The major hub for excursions into the Colombian Amazon is the country’s southernmost city, Leticia. It is surrounded by numerous paths that lead right into the Amazon rainforest, and one can take a bus or rent a car from the city. Several river cruises to the jungle can also be booked from Leticia, which take tourists to seemingly forbidden places of the Colombian Amazon, thus, making them a unique experience.

Duration of Stay

◆ Irrespective of the country through which you opt to enter the Amazon, a week is generally regarded as a good amount of time to spend in the region and enjoy it satisfactorily.

◆ Out of the week’s seven days, a maximum of two to three days are usually required for travel and transfers. This leaves out four to five days for indulging in activities and excursions, which tend to be just enough.

◆ Those who have a longer duration of time at their disposal can explore different regions of the Amazon, rather than sticking to one particular area. This will not only enable them to discover more of Amazon, but will also increase their opportunities to indulge in various adventures.

What to Expect

◆ There are a few common activities which virtually every visitor to the Amazon indulges in. These include hiking, canoeing, whitewater rafting, bird watching, camping in the wilderness at night, and fishing. Most of these activities are often included in the tour; however, confirming the same is always a good idea.

◆ If you enter from the Brazilian side, you get a very typical, textbook-type glimpse of the Amazon rainforest, but only at the surface level. If you are interested in wildlife, Brazilian Amazon may be disappointing for you. There has been large-scale deforestation in the area of late, owing to which the wildlife therein has been dwindling. However, you can indulge in adventures such as river cruising, kayaking, sport fishing, and tree climbing.

◆ Brazilian Amazon is known for the various indigenous communities that reside there, and travelers to the region get enough opportunities to visit them and interact with them.

◆ If wildlife interests you more, opt to enter the jungle either from Peru or from Ecuador. There are great spots in these areas for bird watchers and lepidopterists, and of course for wild animals like jaguars, spectacled bears, and rare species of monkeys.

◆ Those wanting to experience the best of both worlds should choose to travel from the Colombian side. Colombian Amazon boasts of both, indigenous settlements as well as great flora and fauna.
So, what are you waiting for? Head to the Amazon rainforest and experience the adventure of your lifetime. Only remember to respect the sanctity of the jungle and the privacy of the species in there. Moreover, as far as possible, avoid going in the wilderness without a local guide. Lastly, travel as light as possible, but remember to carry all the essentials including insect repellents, sunscreens, and antiseptic hand gels.
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Snorkeling Destinations in the Caribbean are Pure Magic Ideas

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
―Jacques Yves Cousteau
It does, indeed. After spending all our living span being bogged down by gravity, it sure is a welcome change to be floating in the depths of the sea, exploring a completely different world. And speaking of the marine world, what better place than the Caribbean? None, without a doubt.

Which is why, we bring you a list of places that are perfect for snorkeling in the Caribbean Sea. And believe me, we’re not just talking about viewing some gorgeous corals here; we’ve got stingrays, dolphins, whale sharks, and the likes.

Remember, the best time to be in the Caribbean is the dry season from December to April. The weather during these months is calm and breezy, making it perfect for snorkeling, diving, or simply lazing around.
Best Snorkeling Destinations in the Caribbean

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
How about an up, close, and personal encounter with the biggest fish in the sea? Yep, come to Isla Mujeres between June to August every year, to witness a massive whale shark congregation that is sure to have your wits floored. In fact, even before you take a dip, you’ll be able to witness hundreds of dorsal fins skimming the surface―a truly awe-inspiring sight indeed. Plus, there are also chances of spotting some dolphins and manta rays, along with the native flamingos on the shore. The island is located in the Yucatán Peninsula, in the southeastern corner of Mexico.

Stingray City, Grand Cayman
Stingray City is located in the shallow waters of the northwest corner of Grand Cayman’s North Sound. It is within a natural channel that passes through the barrier reef and consists of a string of sandbars. Stingrays happen to be the gentle inhabitants of the sea, and are a delight to have around. More so, if you’re carrying some treats in the form of squids. The drama that follows, is something which needs to be experienced first hand, as the stingrays’ antics always manages to keep you spellbound. And the best part? You can get here all year round.

Cayo Diablo National Park, Puerto Rico
Keeping Fajardo in eastern Puerto Rico as your hub, Cayo Diablo is a 20-minute boat ride away from the town’s shore. It lies on the fringes of the Atlantic, yet is very much in the Caribbean. This area is famous for Elkhorn and Staghorn coral, with a jagged limestone periphery. However, nestled in these depths are some rather extraordinary sea turtles. Breathtakingly beautiful, this is probably the only place in the Caribbean that offers such close encounters with sea turtles.

Bonaire
You may have heard of Bonaire, located off the northern coast of Venezuela, as a premier diving destination, but it holds true for snorkeling as well. Off the coast of its capital city, Kralendijk, a wide variety of corals and colorful fish await you in the warm waters here, along with some sea horses as well. Klein Bonaire is an uninhabited island further off the coast of Kralendijk, around which you will find filefish and queen angelfish. Windsock is also a popular snorkeling venue, with people spotting barracuda, tarpon, or even turtles.

The Bahamas
The joy of swimming alongside dolphins probably is one of life’s finest and most subliminal experiences. Even if you’ve had the opportunity to swim with captive dolphins, you ought to make a trip to the Bahamas, where you’ll be gliding next to an Atlantic Spotted dolphin. The thrill is comparable to none. And while you’re in the Bahamas, don’t forget to check out Dean’s Blue Hole, where you’ll be jolted to discover that you can go from a depth of 5 feet to a jaw-dropping 600 feet in a matter of a few laps. And while you’re doing that, don’t forget to spot some turtles, dolphins, and porpoises.

Cancun Underwater Museum, Mexico
Mexican Caribbean’s biggest attraction remains the Cancun Underwater Museum, with hundreds of sculptures placed underwater off the coast of Isla Mujeres and Cancun in southeastern Mexico. Yes, we do know about the one in Grenada as well, but frankly speaking, one simply needs to dive, rather than snorkel there, as the clarity of the water can be quite low on most days. Coming back to Cancun, the 450 sculptures here are also by the same artist who created the Grenadian versions―Jason deCaires Taylor. The museum is a part of the Cancun National Marine Park―a wonderful sight, which offers a memorable journey of exploration.

Belize
Belize is a country on the northeastern coast of Central America bordering Mexico on the south, and offers fantastic sites for snorkeling. 11 miles off the coast of the southern town of Placencia lies Laughing Bird Caye, a fabulous snorkeling spot suitable for all levels of expertise. This is where you’ll find a vast expanse of reef species, including parrotfish, yellowtail snapper and barracuda. Also on the agenda is Shark Ray Alley, a part of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, which is home to several Nurse sharks, as well as Southern Stingrays. The locals promise great visibility and close encounters at a depth of just eight feet, which makes it a must-visit snorkeling spot in the Caribbean. You may also wish to visit Ambergris Caye, the largest island of Belize located northeast of the country. Here, you can take a dip off the Lighthouse Reef to snorkel around the edges of the famed Blue Hole, which is Belize’s premier diving site.

Dominica
Many tend to confuse this tiny island in the Lesser Antilles with the Dominican Republic. Dominica is a small nation with a big reputation as a snorkeling hotspot. Champagne Reef is located near Pointe Michel, a small town on the southwest coast of Dominica, south of the capital, Roseau. The area gets its name from the effervesce emanating from fissures in the seafloor, giving the impression that one is swimming in a bottle of bubbly. But that’s not all―you also need to be on the lookout for parrotfish and lobsters. Scotts Head, in the southern most tip of Dominica is a stellar diving spot, but it does hold some thrill for snorkelers too. It’s past the capital city of Roseau, just over an hour’s drive away. This ancient volcanic crater has a veritable wealth of marine plants along its walls, and you certainly don’t need to dive to see it.

So, this was a round-up of the best snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean. But as we mentioned before, any place is a great place to hit the sea when you’re on any of the gorgeous islands here. Do make sure that you tick these off your list.

Tips to Best Places for Hot Air Balloon Rides

Hot air balloon ride! These words alone are enough to create an upsurge of excitement! We can only imagine the rush that we would get when we actually experience it. Find out about the best places around the world for hot air balloon rides, that will more than mesmerize you and offer you the experience of a lifetime.

Flying high in an endless sea of clouds, one amongst the birds, with a cool breeze brushing past you, the occasional gust of wind playing through your hair, raw and pleasant sun-rays gently settling upon your body, and your eyes wandering off as far as they can see, with nothing to obstruct your view… If this is not what being on top of the world means, then what does? This was only but a brief description of what you feel and experience when you are riding in a hot air balloon. It is almost as if you are weightless, drifting along with the wind in extreme silence, except the occasional fire bursts inside the balloon. The feeling is surreal, one of a kind, nothing short of what would feel like magic.

The whole point of taking a trip to the skies on a hot air balloon is to get a bird’s-eye view of the scenic locales, lush landscapes, snow-capped mountains, and rivers snaking through the valleys. You will appreciate the sunrise/sunset (depending on the time of day when you take the trip) in a totally different light after you have witnessed one during your flight. The world is aplenty with beauty, and there are many places that are just apt for flying in a hot air balloon. Here are some of the most amazing places that guarantee breathtaking views from a hot air balloon. Take your pick and get packing already!

Describing and reading about it, is only feeling a fraction of what it actually feels like. It can only feel as beautiful as one’s imagination is. Actually, being afloat on a hot air balloon is the only thing that wholly justifies its awesomeness and the magic that it creates.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, also known as the ‘Adventure Capital of The World’, is a resort town in Otago, New Zealand. It is cozily settled on the banks of Queenstown Bay, an inlet on Lake Wakatipu. The snow-covered mountain tops, the serenity of Lake Wakatipu, the lush greenery bordering the lake, and the vast blue skies, all form part of a beautiful view, which leaves you speechless and breathless. It gets infinitely better when this view is enjoyed from atop a hot air balloon. No wonder it was an inspiration for Peter Jackson to direct his Lord of the Rings movie series with this dainty and picturesque town as the backdrop.

Don’t Miss:
Apart from hot air balloon rides, the added attractions that Queenstown has to offer are skiing, sky diving, bungee jumping, paragliding, and some other land and river adventures. For those interested in spending quiet, quality time, you can take part in events that involve art, culture, history, wine tasting, nature and sightseeing around town.

Cappadocia, Turkey

The Cappadocian region that comprises steep hills, rugged and profound valleys, conspicuous canyons and magnificent rock formations, is settled in Central Anatolia, Turkey. Hot air balloon rides are the best way to experience one of nature’s self-created, most amazing cities of Cappadocia. It is a popular tourist attraction in Göreme. It is an experience within an experience to noiselessly glide over this imperial stretch of the city, and watch the enormity of the rocks, houses carved within rocks, ancient churches caved within huge monolithic rocks, set against a bold backdrop volcanic landscape. Be fascinated by tiny pigeonholes hewn within the monumental rocks, infinite fairy chimneys strewn across the region, vineyards that form a part of fertile valleys and orchards that add a pop of bright colors to the scene, lighting up your day.

Don’t Miss:
When viewed from above, it looks as if you are flying over the moon, literally! The landscape of the Cappadocian region appears very moon-like. Also, the underground cities formed here are a major attraction.

Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

Bagan is an area in Central Myanmar, famous for being home to the largest number of Buddhist temples, ruins, pagodas and stupas. Nestled on the banks of the river Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy), engulfed by a dense cover of lush greenery, this region is a beautiful combination of raw nature, ancient culture, rich heritage, serene spirituality, and a touch of modern architecture. Such a combination lends it a distinct aura and mentally appeals any tourist.

Riding in a hot air balloon over the scenic beauty of Bagan, will only make you realize how the grandness of the heritage, the calmness surrounding you and the magic unfolding in front of your eyes, could make it the adventure of your lifetime.

Don’t Miss:
Few know that Marco Polo described Bagan as ‘one of the finest sights in the world’. As the sun rises over the horizon, the tombs of temples and stupas and the Bagan pagodas form outstanding silhouettes against the reddish-pink hue of the morning sky. Spread over an area of 16 square miles, the entire landscape is dotted by at least 5000 architectural structures, historical ruins, religious temples, pagodas, and stupas. Look as far as you can, and not once will the view disappoint you.

Gstaad, Switzerland

Nestled cozily in the village of Saanenland, Gstaad steals the show with its unspoilt snow-capped Swiss Alps, lush green landscapes, modern art and culture, contrasting ancient historical heritage, exotic dining options, and conventional shopping centers. Gstaad is known for being a traffic-free center, shadowed by tranquility and peace so surreal that it feels like heaven on Earth. As if this wasn’t enough, a hot air balloon ride over the ice-crowned, and heaven-reaching alpines, will leave you awestruck and make you put your life in a perspective or two. The dewy grass-filled highlands, tiny wooden houses dotting the steep mountain slopes, and the snow-covered white mountain tops glistening like jewels on a crown in the morning sun, all form a spectacle that is visually enthralling and just sweeps you off your feet.

Gstaad’s prodigious micro-climate and exceptional flying conditions is the icing on the cake, which makes it an ideal location for hot air ballooning.

Don’t Miss:
Every year, in the last week of January, during the International Balloon Festival in Chateau d’Oex, the Gstaad sky is filled with tons of bright and bold-colored balloons, that loom overhead and create a visual spectacle in itself. Also, the village livens up during the winter when its annual winter sport festival is scheduled. So, ideally, winter would be the best time to visit Gstaad, so that, along with hot air ballooning, you get to experience other characteristic events too.

Istria, Croatia

Istria is the largest peninsular region in the Adriatic Sea. It is a part of three countries: Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. Istria is surrounded by deep blue seas, enigmatic green hills that roll out into eternity, architecture that explains ancient Russian culture and heritage beautifully. All this enveloped in the perfect continental, Mediterranean climate, makes Croatia the best place to unwind yourself and get back to life with a fresh perspective, if you are looking for one. The hot air balloon rides here are a treat for the eyes, your body, your mind, and your soul. You cannot help, but be in awe of Istria’s spellbinding beauty and magnificence. Whether it’s an early morning dawn flight, or a late evening dusk flight, hot air balloon rides over this wonderful piece of Earth will leave you breathless, and asking for more.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Welcome to the largest city in New Mexico, America. A city where hot air ballooning is taken so seriously, that a hot air balloon festival is celebrated with utter enthusiasm and pomp, every year! The ‘Cosmic Carnival’, an annual event that takes place in October at the Albuquerque Balloon Museum, is the largest hot air balloon event in the world. It is a sight that will blow your mind. Hundreds of balloons rise up in the air, gliding effortlessly, illuminating the sky with thousands of colors and the minds of the spectators with pure ecstasy and joy.

Don’t Miss:
The Sandia mountains that border the eastern side of Albuquerque are something that should be enjoyed from a hot air balloon. They appear reddish in color and are hence, believed to be named Sandia, which is Spanish for watermelon. Laid against the sky’s gentle blue backdrop, the Sandia crest is an amazing natural creation, formed due to uplifting. As the balloon glides past the entire dimension of the mountain range, observe that the western face is extremely rocky, whereas it slopes gently on the east.
The Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The Serengeti was first discovered by Stewart Edward White. This national park is spread over a straggling 5700 square miles. Its name comes from the term siringet, which means ‘the place where the land runs forever’. The hot air balloon ride in the Serengeti National Park, gives you a chance to look at forests, landscapes, sunrise and sunset, wildlife, and nature from a completely different and fresh perspective. The balloon rises with the rising sun, and floats where the wind takes it. Regarding wildlife spotting, it would be better to go on a hot balloon safari with an open mind, sans any preconceived notions. After all, it is better to be surprised than be disappointed. On a lucky day, which is most of the days, you can spot one or more kind of wildlife that includes hippos, lions, hyenas, tigers, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, antelopes, giraffes, various exotic birds, and also the varied plant life that includes the gorgeous acacia trees.

Don’t Miss:
A secret tip – The best time to go hot air ballooning in the Serengeti is when The Great Wildebeest Migration happens (October to August). Hundreds of thousands of zebras and wildebeests migrate from the Serengeti to the Maasai Mara reserve in Kenya. An awe-inspiring spectacle, the great migration is a sight that is sure to send a shiver down your spine. It should definitely not be missed while hot air ballooning in the Serengeti.

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, also known as the ‘Red Rock Country’, is a dainty little city set in the northern region of the US state of Arizona. Set against a massive, rocky backdrop of reddish brown mountains and monoliths, Sedona is famous for being a place where there is something for everyone. It entertains a tourist’s spiritual, historical, contemporary, and even adventurous interests. There will be no time left for you to get bored here.

Hot air ballooning over the picturesque Sedona presents a view in front of you so beautiful, that it leaves you enchanted by the beauty of Mother Nature. The changing color of the rocks, with the change in the intensity of the sun’s rays, is a spectacle that leaves you awestruck. Just sit back and relax in the cozy balloon basket, as you gently rise off the ground along with the rising sun, feeling as light as a feather, as tranquil as the silence of the night, and as excited as a little child, all at the same time. Enjoy the breathtaking view that presents a sharp contrast of green trees against the red rocks, with the river snaking through, to provide a mildness to the contrast.

Don’t Miss:
As you fly over the Arizonian landscape, make sure you get a good look of the Chapel of the Holy Cross, the Vortex Schmortex, and the Oak Creek Canyon, amongst other stand-outs. Hot air balloon rides offer a mesmerizing panoramic view of the entire expanse.

Lake Champlain, Vermont

Lake Champlain is a natural freshwater lake in North America within the boundaries of The United States of America. Hot air ballooning over the sparkling shores of Lake Champlain can be dubbed as the experience of a lifetime. The thrill experienced while the balloon drifts leisurely over the cool and glossy waters is unmatched with anything. Plush landscapes, embellished with the greenery of Green Mountains, border the shores of Lake Champlain for as far as your eyes can see. Keep all worries aside for sometime and dedicate this trip to yourself, cleanse your soul, love yourself, feel happy and allow the scenic beauty of Vermont to sink in as you look at vast fields, looming mountains, fully bloomed trees, and the clear waters. On a lucky day, when the skies are clear and cloudless, you will be able to see as far as Canada and Montreal.

Don’t Miss:
It’s the little things that matter the most. Whilst flying over the countryside, and not very high, you can actually get whiffs of smokes from houses that pass by beneath you during the flight. You might get the aroma of cooking! Also, when flying at tree-top level over the forests, you will sometimes be able to spot beautiful wildlife like turkeys and deer.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

The timelessness, endlessness, vastness, magnificence, mystique and silence of Wadi Rum is sure to stun you to the core, leaving you breathless, a tinge of humbleness and insignificance hovering about you. Wadi Rum has been declared the most stunning, gorgeous, and engaging desertscape there ever was. Also known as ‘The Valley of The Moon’, Wadi Rum, located at the south of Jordan, is actually a continued series of valleys which are approximately 2 km wide, and are sprawled for about 130 km N-S. It covers almost 720 km of desert area, with enormous sandstone mountains and huge granite rocks jutting out from the sand shores.

Gliding through the crisp desert air in a hot air balloon over the eternal sands of Wadi Rum, you feel a certain calm reside over you. The shifting positions of the sun create an effect that feels as if the mountain rocks and the sand change colors throughout the day. This effect tends to arise myriad moods within you and make you ponder over the mystery that life is. You cannot come to Jordan and not go to Wadi Rum; it is a must-visit.

Don’t Miss:
The Burdah Rock Bridge, standing 35 m tall above the ground, is considered to be one of the highest natural arches in the world. Naturally-formed huge monolithic rock structures, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Bedouin camping, the sunrise and sunset in the desert, and many other wonderful, captivating sights are some things that will keep you engaged whilst you lose track of time, sense and other worldly cares.

Napa Valley, California

Dubbed as one of the premier wine regions of the world, Napa Valley is an American Viticulture Area in California, United States. Its most famous attractions are the closely knit vineyards spread across acres of land. When viewed from a hot air balloon, the vineyards seem like one huge sprawling stretch of a lush-green grass blanket. Panoramic view that encompass the magnificent rolling hills and valleys, and gorgeous hues and colors of the sky merging during the setting or rising of the sun, are a feast for your eyes. You couldn’t agree more that very few places on Earth take you into a trance and make you wonder, “Is this what Heaven is like?”

Don’t Miss:
There is something for everyone here. Based on your interests, you can go wine tasting, fine dining, spa hopping, hot air ballooning or just sit back, relax and soak in the striking beauty and calmness of the valley.

The Outback, Australia

The Outback is a desiccated, dry and arid desert region on the outskirts of the Australian subcontinent. It is also known as ‘Never-Never’, ‘back of beyond’, or ‘back o’Burke’. Owing to the typical climatic conditions, which are unsuitable for the survival of life, this region is extremely thinly populated. It does, however, boast of a wide variety of wildlife such as dingoes, emus and red kangaroos. Hot air balloon rides in The Australian Outback, allow tourists to observe the wildlife at its best, and appreciate the greatness and immensity of the Outback. You can opt for either the dawn or the dusk flights. Night flights are mesmerizing, as the Outback night sky is the best place to stargaze, and get the best possible and uninterrupted views of endless seas of stars, constellations and even some planets. If you are lucky and your flight takes off at the scheduled time, you even get to experience the Australian Outback sunset – a delicate yet empowering and harmonious melange of soft, beautiful, and unexplained colors over the horizon.

A dawn flight is just as much enjoyable and delightful. It starts with the balloon taking flight just as the sun starts to rise. As the balloon rises higher and higher, you can see silhouettes forming against a backdrop of the brightest and boldest of sunrises, which fills up the morning sky with shades and hues of the colors of the sun.

Don’t Miss:
The Outback is the only place in the world that has the largest fossilized dinosaur stampede. Hundreds of thousands of dinosaur footprints have been immortalized in mud stone near Lark Quarry. These can be clearly observed from your hot air balloon. Also, you might just come across the original and traditional Australian Aborigines, who still continue to live by the ancient ways of life. Many cattle stations (some as big as Belgium itself!) are something that cannot be missed and are a great sight to watch from the balloon.

Riding on a hot air balloon makes it to almost everybody’s bucket list. But, striking the activity that you have wanted to do all your life off the list by doing it at the right place, that is the trick. This isn’t something that you do everyday, this will be a once in a lifetime opportunity. The adventure that you are ready to embark on, is going to make a memory that will stay with you for the rest of your life. It is important that you create the best memory possible. A memory which is capable of making you relive the experience, a memory at which you will look back in fondness, happiness, ecstasy, and pure joy.

Best of Sandboarding at These Mind

Sandboarding in Europe!
One would be surprised to find a sandboarding site in Europe, which is considered to be the hallowed turf of skiing. But Monte Kaolino in Hirschau, Germany, happens to be the host of the annual Sandboarding World Championships. It is also the only place to have a lift which ferries people to the top of the 120m-tall dune.
Sandboarding may seem like a fun sport, but wait until you hear this―in skiing, lifts take you to the top of the slope, and all that’s left for you is the thrill of waltzing down. Sand dunes, on the other hand, are a different ball game altogether, since it is impossible to build lifts in these areas. Therefore, sandboarders need to be extremely fit to climb these dunes (in the hot weather, mind you), before the fun part begins.

Well, there is the option of getting hold of a dune buggy or an all-terrain vehicle, but it kind of kills the macho-ness of the sport. So, let’s gather our wits, and draw up all the strength we can, before we head out to these fabulous sandboarding destinations.

Sandboarding Destinations
The Middle East

Siwa desert Egypt
▶ Siwa, Egypt

▶ Big Red, Dubai
The most happening sandboarding happens where the deserts are―so the obvious place to begin with has got to be the Middle East. In fact, Egypt is actually believed to be the country where this sport originated. The Great Sea of Sand near Siwa, Egypt, is considered to be one of the top sandboarding sites in the world. With dunes rising as high as 500 feet, and slopes of 70 degrees or more, amateurs need to stay away from this one. Also, the area happens to be smack dab in the middle of nowhere, which means that only the truest sandboarders at heart can make it here.

Dubai is a hot-shot destination for all intents and purposes, as it even has a humongous skiing facility, despite being located in a searing, hot desert. But it’s these hot deserts that we’re interested in, at the moment, and Dubai sandboarding glory is the ‘Big Red’ (also known as Al Hamar), a massive 300-feet high sand dune. Dubai is also home to the Hugo International Sandboarding Championships, held annually in conjunction with the Dubai Shopping Festival in January.
Africa

Swakopmund, Namibia
▶ Swakopmund, Namibia

Sossusvlei, Namibia
▶ Sossusvlei, Namibia

Cape Town, South Africa
▶ Cape Town, South Africa

▶ Johannesburg, South Africa
The southern region of Africa is home to the Namib desert, estimated to be the oldest desert in the world. The places which beckon sandboarders are Swakopmund, on the coast of northwestern Namibia, and the Skeleton Coast Sand Dunes at Sossusvlei, in the southern part of the Namib desert. The dunes here are massive, some of which can measure up to 900 feet. Needless to say, only the extreme thrill seekers head here.

Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa also have some fantastic sites for sandboarders. Close to Cape Town are the Fish Hoek Dunes, which are not as menacing as the ones in Namibia, and are suitable for beginners as well.
South America

Duna Grande, Peru
▶ Duna Grande, Peru

▶ Cerro Blanco, Peru

▶ Cerro Iman, Chile
South America’s varied topography places the fertile Amazon plain in the vicinity of the most arid deserts in the world. We’re not interested in the bountiful Amazon at the moment, it’s the deserts we’re fancying.

The sand dunes in Peru, are seriously tall. The Duna Grande, located in the valley of Las Trancas, Nasca, measures an imposing 1,760 meters, and has attracted sand boarders from all over the world. Close in range lies Cerro Blanco, the tallest sand dune in the world, measuring 2,078 meters, with only the hardcore professionals taking a go at it. Some do attempt gravity-defying drops, reaching speeds of up to 50 mph while descending.

Going southward, you can head to Cerro Iman, near Copiapo, Chile, where an annual sandboarding competition is held. The event attracts sandboarders from the world over.
North America

Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area, Michigan
▶ Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area, Michigan

Sand Master Park, Oregon
▶ Sand Master Park, Oregon

Jockey’s Ridge State Park, North Carolina
▶ Jockey’s Ridge State Park, North Carolina

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
▶ Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Sandboarding in Michigan? You’ll definitely assume we’re kidding. But the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Area between Lake Michigan and Silver Lake comprises 2,000 acres of mighty sand dunes, all of which are perfect for sand surfing and sandboarding.

The Sand Master Park in Florence, Oregon, is considered to be the world’s premier sandboard park, where novices can even take private lessons in sandboarding. Besides, the park also has dune buggy tours, and a sand sculpting arena.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head, North Carolina, boasts of being the best sandboarding destination on the east coast. While sand sledding is fairly common, you do need a permit to sandboard here, and are allowed to do so only between October and March.

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado seems oddly placed in the middle of the Rockies, but are a haven for sandboarders. The park has dunes as tall as 750 feet, considered to be the tallest in North America. Mind you, it’s a three-quarter-mile trek from the parking lot to the first dunes, which means that you need to be armed with food, water, and a lot of sunblock.

Remember to be Cautious
Sandboarding is an extreme sport, with its own set of risks. Therefore, if you happen to be a novice, ensure that you adhere to all the safety protocols explained to you by your instructor. Indulging in stunts while being unprepared can cause serious trauma, or could even be fatal. If you happen to be experienced, you have all the more reason not to get carried away with the thrill, since you are aware of the risks involved. Always make sure that you are following prescribed sandboarding etiquette at all times.

The thrill of any extreme sport can be heady and exciting beyond words. Do make it a point to pick the right gear and choose the right conditions to sandboard at most, if not all, the destinations mentioned here.