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Tips On Choosing Great Cairo City Breaks

Cairo is definitely a tremendous destination for people that are looking for wonderful city breaks. We are faced with many different excursions and sightseeing tours that are organized every single day. Group and private tours are present with visits to Old Cairo, Memphis, Coptic sites, Islamic sites, Sultan Hassan Mosque, Albaster Mosque, Azhar Mosque, Giza Pyramids, The Sphinx, Egyptian Museum and others.

The truth is that Cairo stands out as a great opportunity, a city that is renowned for the lifestyle it offers. There are entertainment activities available every day and night, with Cairo City breaks ranging from 1 to 3 days.

Unfortunately, there are many different options available and it can be quite hard to find the suitable Cairo city breaks you may want to consider. Take all the time that is needed to see what options are available for you. That is what will help you to find great breaks.

Whenever choosing, consider the following.

 

Cairo
By Gary Denham under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

How Long Will The City Break Be?

This is the most important thing that you have to consider at the moment. In most cases people opt for a weekend Cairo city break, which can cover many different attractions you would love. A trip that only lasts one day is definitely not enough, even if there are such options available. You should only consider the one day Cairo break when you are looking at a much longer Egypt trip.

How Much Money Would You Pay?

There are some pretty cheap Cairo city breaks available, offered by various travel agencies that are not at all great in terms of offered quality. You need to look at many packages and see how much money you are asked to pay. Compare based on two factors:

  • The sites that are covered on the duration of the break
  • The reputation of the travel agency

Why Does Travel Agency Reputation Count?

We noticed that some people believe that the Cairo city breaks offered by those agencies that only now appeared on the market are the best since they are surely the cheapest. This is definitely not the case. Those agencies that are reputable have a huge advantage. They can easily gain access to the best accommodations and you will surely appreciate the fact that they can negotiate great prices for tourists.

Use The Internet For Research Purposes

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they want to go on Cairo city breaks is choosing based on the first site that they locate. Keep in mind that the internet basically features all the information you need in order to choose the best option that is available for you.

If you find a city break tour that you love, see what tourists say about the experience that they had in the past when on it. That basically offers all the information you need. We will not recommend specific Cairo city breaks but you should be aware that you should not hurry. There are so many things that can be seen in the city and around it. Just make sure that you choose according to what you would enjoy to experience.

Things To Do In Tanzania

Tanzania, well known around the world as the home of Kilimanjaro is currently one of the most popular of all safari destinations in Africa. Tanzania was formed out of 2 nation-states and now offers everything from incredible white sandy beaches to wildlife that you will never forget. In order to highlight some things that you will love, here are the things to do in Tanzania.

 

Visit The Serengeti National Park

 

Serengeti National Park
By N. Feans under CC BY 2.0

 

This one is arguably the most popular of all Tanzania’s tourist attractions. It is really well known as a big game safari. That is mainly due to the fact that there is an annual migration of zebras and wildebeest noticed. You should seriously consider a May visit since that is where the migration starts. The wildlife show is definitely spectacular.

 

Visit Ruaha National Park

 

safari in Ruaha National Park
By Thomson Safaris Tanzania under CC BY 2.0

 

Ruaha is right in the heart of Tanzania. It is the largest of all the national parks that can be found in the country and you can easily come across elephants, leopards, lions, wild dogs, impala, giraffes, zebras or jackals. You get the opportunity of experiencing nature in a close environment and you will love the fact that there are not too many tourists to bother you.

 

The Selous Game Reserve

 

Selous Game Reserve
By Rob under CC BY 2.0

 

Here you can see a lot more savanna animals than anywhere else in the country because of government regulations. Many of the visitors will arrive via plane. You will love the fact that river trips and walking tours are allowed. In addition, no permanent structures or human habitation is allowed.

 

Mafia Island

 

Mafia Island
By gill_penney under CC BY 2.0

 

Mafia Island is smaller than popular attraction Pemba but it is also a part of Spice Islands. The population here is of around 40,000 and although the name can be a little deceiving, there is absolutely no organized crime present. The name is just similar. Here you can enjoy game fishing and scuba diving while also being able to relax on wonderful sandy beaches. If in the area, make sure that you also consider Pemba as it is less crowded than the really popular Zanzibar. You can also enjoy marine life here with great scuba diving locations.

 

Lake Manyara

 

Lake Manyara
By Marc Veraart under CC BY 2.0

 

During the wet season, you will be able to see around 300 migratory bird species. This includes thousands of lovely flamingos. During the dry season you can also enjoy various different wonderful animals since there are various mammals like elephants, giraffes, wildebeests and hippos. Different safari lodges are available and you can enjoy various safaris.

 

Mount Kilimanjaro

 

Mount Kilimanjaro
By Koen Muurling under CC BY 2.0

 

We cannot mention the things to do in Tanzania without a mention of Kilimanjaro. The inactive volcano nested peak is the highest in Africa and houses the highest of all free-standing mountains around the world. It is located really close to the equator but the snow-capped peak will make everything incredibly attractive, a top tourist attraction for all interested trekkers and mountaineers.

As always, such a list is always subjective. Did you visit Tanzania? If so, what was the favorite attraction that you enjoyed? We would love to hear about it. Maybe we will get to enjoy it one day.

General Facts You Might Want To Know About Sao Tome And Principe

Sao Tome And Principe is a democratic republic that does seem to gain a lot of popularity lately among travel lovers. It is located on Central Africa’s Western Equatorial Coast, right in the Guinea Golf. Since you may want to consider it for your next vacation, here are some general facts that you may want to be aware of.

 

Sao Tome And Principe
By João Máximo under CC BY 2.0

 

Sao Tome And Principe Geography

The republic is located in the Gulf of Guinea and it is the second smallest African country. We basically talk about two regions that are united. Sao Tome has a length of 50 kilometers and a width of 30 kilometers. Principe has a length of 30 kilometers and a width of 6 kilometers. To get an idea where you are, the Equator line goes through Ilheu das Rolas, an island that is right under Sao Tome And Principe.

Climate

As you would expect, the climate in Sao Tome And Principe is tropical at the sea level. It is humid and hot with an average yearly temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. There is little variation in temperature on a daily basis. In the interior of the country we have higher elevations and average yearly temperature goes down to 20 degrees Celsius, while having nights that are usually cool. If you want to visit outside of the rainy season, you should be aware that the heaviest rains happen between October and May.

Wildlife

There are not many native mammals found in Sao Tome And Principe although there are many bat species and the Sao Tome Shrew present. These two islands have many different endemic plants and bards, including the Sao Tome Ibis, the smallest ibis in the world and the largest of the sunbirds, known as Giant Sunbird. You will also want to see the Sao Tome Fiscal, a really rare Begonia species and make sure that you look for the hawksbill turtles.

Sao Tome And Principe Demographics

Since the country is relatively new, the first ever census is quite recent, 2011. The total population is estimated at a little over 160,000 and the vast majority is present in Sao Tome. The entire population is basically formed of descendents of other countries that reached the islands from the year 1470.

Most of the people are Roman Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists and Evangelical Protestants. There is also a pretty small population of Muslims. There are 4 national languages out of which Portuguese is spoken by 95 percent of all people and is considered to be the only official language.

Culture

The culture in the republic is a mix of Portuguese and African influences. You will be able to experience socope and ussua rhythms in Sao Tome and in Principe you will see the dexa beat. All local dances and rhythms are influenced by Portuguese ballrooms. You can also participate in shows of Tchiloli and danco-congo.

On the whole, even if we are talking about a small country, you surely already figured out the fact that there are many different things that you can see. Make sure that you take advantage of the possibility and visit now since prices are lower than they are about to be in the future.

City Break in Athens

Renowned all over the world for its rich culture, great historical monuments and multifaceted character, the capital of Greece is a place you should visit once in your lifetime Considered to be the birthplace of classical civilization, Athens features many interesting sights. In terms of sightseeing, the place you certainly have to visit is the iconic Acropolis, a fine sample of classical architecture, and the neighboring New Acropolis Museum exhibiting parts of this unique structure. Sip a coffee on the museum’s terrace overlooking part of this imposing marble structure or just wander around the cobbled streets of nearby Plaka, a quaint area filled with traditional cafes and taverns, as well as souvenir shops. Moreover, there are plenty fun things to do in this fascinating city, when the history buff inside you has seen enough.

 

Acropolis Athens
By Aleksandr Zykov under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Easily accessible by plane thanks to its luxurious international airport, Eleftherios Venizelos, Athens is flocked with visitors from all over the world, who are more than pleased to find out that there is a plethora of accommodation from budget hotels and hostels to luxurious international accommodation, such as the Holiday Inn Athens Airport Hotel .

Take a walk up and down the city’s biggest shopping street, Ermou, to feast your eyes on fancy and elegant shopping windows. But, make sure you explore the area’s arcades, where hidden little treasures are patiently waiting to be discovered by inquiring visitors. Shops selling antique furniture and vintage clothing, traditional cafes, taverns and spice markets can travel you back in time and give you a taste of old Athens.

 

Afternoon in Ermou Street
By Panos Asproulis under CC BY-ND 2.0

 

Seek the best view from any terrace around central Athens. Apart from the cozy, bohemian and elegant bars, Athens also offers a plethora of roof bars in hotels and hostels. Some of them might only be open for their guests; however, there are still plenty that would be more than happy to serve you a refreshing cocktail with magnificent views.

See the other side of Plaka. For an off the beaten track walk in Plaka, head for the unique neighborhood of Anafiotika. Resembling the tiny Cycladic island of Anafi, the area is filled with cafés and taverns to ease you appetite.

To soak up that all important sun, sea and sand, explore the beaches lining the coast of Attica. From crowded organized beaches to secluded idyllic coves the wider Attica area caters for all tastes. Fun lovers can swim in the beaches of Varkiza and Glyfada featuring top-notch beach bars and beautiful people. Couples and isolators will be more than happy to swim in the coves of Sounio.

Get your checked tablecloth and a basket filled with sandwiches, wine and fruit ready and set off for a pick-nick day in the parks of Attica. You can either spend your day on Filopappou hill overlooking the Acropolis or relax in the lush green surrounding of Andreas Syggros park in the northern suburbs. Have your lunch right beside the gothic church, which is unique in the whole of Greece.  Other choices include the park in Kesariani Shooting Range where you can also use the local snack-bar, and the eco-park of Antonis Tritsis featuring ponds with little ducks, lush green surroundings and information kiosks.

By Zoe Mouchritsa

Seven good reasons why your next holiday should be in Alanya

Turkey has become one of Europe’s premier holiday destinations, and this can be attributed to many things. The country itself is amazing and the fact it covers two continents means it has a varied and diverse culture in both food and dress. My first ever visit, was to Istanbul and I spent many days looking in the Grand Bazaar and the local shops. Istanbul is endless and I think if you walk for days you would never reach the end.

 

By kallerna (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
By kallerna (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Proximity: Alanya is about a two hour drive from the nearest international airport and is situated on the coast. This means Alanya can offer sandy beaches and beautiful fishing ports and villages along the coast line. There is a closer airport by the name of Gazipaşa, but this is for internal flights only.

 

Weather: The weather in the region is renowned for heat and dry spells lasting months. It really is a breath of fresh air, during your visit you will enjoy the sea breeze that is cooling and refreshing. It is fair to say that the midday sun is very strong and I would recommend you do some shopping or have an afternoon sleep, away from the sun during these hours.

 

Location: With the Mediterranean on its coast means you have a variety of water activities at your disposal. Scuba diving, sailing, fishing and so much more, it is a clean and warm sea that has many delights to offer.

 

Beaches: Being on the coast of the Mediterranean, Alanya can offer many sandy beaches both big and small. The locals have their own hide always and you are best to ask if it is a secluded beach you are searching for. Think outside the box and look on Google map prior to your visit to Alanya so you are well prepared.

 

Historical architecture: During my visit to Alanya, I particularly liked the Red Tower, part of the Alanya Castle. It is so well preserved and looked after. It gives you an insight in to how life in Alanya used to be, and I love history wherever my travels take me. There are so many places to visit during your stay and I always fined a guided tour is the best way to see the important and most historical landmarks.

 

Food: I particularly liked the food that was on offer in the all-inclusive restaurant and out in the cafes and bars. Turkey has a beautiful countryside that grows a variety of vegetables and spices that are used in local dishes that will change the way you eat forever. Do not be shy, try everything and you will be amazed at what can be done with such natural ingredients.

 

Culture: The culture of this amazing country is attributed by its very location, covering two continents. You will find a wide diverse culture that is very well preserved, their religion is followed along with some beautiful and respectful traditions.

A whistle stop tour in Rethymno, Crete

The Greek Island of Crete is said to be blessed by Gods and it’s easy to see why. Its stunning coastline, imposing mountains, mix of Minoan and Venetian architecture and spine-tingling (we don’t say that lightly!) cuisine make the island an incredible place to visit. Whether you are looking for total relaxation, floating in turquoise waters, rich and lively nightlife or have a passion for history, Crete will impress you.

If you want a true taste of the island and are planning a full tour, then you should definitely add some space in your schedule for Rethymno. Just two hours from the main town of Heraklion, even if you only have time for a day trip, it’s well worth it.

 

Boat and lighthouse Rethymno, Crete
By Thomas Münter under CC BY 2.0


The Old Town and the restaurants

Discover the Old Town of Rethymno. This should be the starting point of any visit to Rethymno, as well as the place you’ll end up in the evening for a boozy shot of raki or indulging in some divine Cretan cuisine and try some restaurants such as Alana Restaurant. Start of from Paleologos street, where you’ll find a Venetian Lotzia, a lovely 6th century building which is now the Public Library. Wandering around the cobbled streets of the Old Town, which are naturally adorned with pink bougainvilleas, you’ll meet many historical sites of interest. A favourite is the Rimondi Fountain, a leftover from the Corinthian Era complete with elaborate lion heads that still flow with water today. Next up check out the Historical and Folklore Museum, housed in a Venetian townhouse, it offers a real insight into the history of the island. Their permanent exhibition features handmade textiles, traditional costumes and tools and materials from days gone by. At the nearby Church of St Francesco why not relax and take a moment of reflection before continuing to the Mosque Neratzes, formerly a small chapel dedicated to the Mary of Augustans and currently in use as a conservatoire.

 

Historical district of Rethymno on Crete
By Sergey Stoma under CC BY 2.0


The Fortezza fortress

The highlight of the town is The Venetian fortress Fortezza perched high on top of Paleokastro hill. Thanks to its raised position, Fortezza is the symbol of Rethymno and can be seen from every single spot in the town. Once a sanctuary to the Goddess Artemis, and shaped like a star, it was built by the Venetians to keep the town’s inhabitants safe from invasion. Take an hour or two to put yourself in their shoes and discover what it must have been like to live on the island hundreds of years ago. In the summer a newly built theatre the Erophylli offers outdoor music and theatrical performances. It’s hard to beat soaking up a wonderful outdoor theatre performance on a balmy summer evening.

Old Venetian Harbour

Finish your tour with a walk along the old Venetian harbour. The promenade is made for long, easy strolls and simply watching the world go by. It’s lined with colourful buildings, fish tavernas and rows of Turkish and Venetian inspired buildings. At the end of the pier you’ll meet the dramatic lighthouse with a small café which is busy from morning until night. In the evening go back towards the Rimondi Fountain, where you can indulge in a lush evening of food, including local specialities, fresh fish grilled with olive oil and lemon dressing, snails with vegetables and of course, a couple of shots of local raki!

By Zoe Mouchritsa

Croatia Adventure Travel Offers Plenty of Sporting Activities

When you go on your adventure trip to Croatia, you will be able to explore incredible natural beauty of this country, discover centuries-old historical monuments, and enjoy numerous water activities on its many rivers and on Croatia’s amazing Adriatic Sea coastline.

 

Croatia is a land of startling natural beauty. More than a thousand islands (most of them uninhabited) dot the sea around the thousands of miles of coastline. National forest lie scattered at the base of bare mountains thrusting up through the earth and the inland portions are filled with incredible pastoral beauty, simply begging to be hiked.

 

Adventure travel through Croatia is an amazing experience and will yield enormous benefits. How do you do it, though? What are the best ways to experience adventure and enjoy sport activities through the country? What companies offer Croatia adventure packages? Here are a few helpful tips to get you going.

 

By Greenweasel (self-taken by Greenweasel in engl. Wiki) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Greenweasel (self-taken by Greenweasel in engl. Wiki) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Kayaking and Rafting

Croatia boasts an enormous amount of coastline and 1,200 islands begging to be explored. You’ll find many rafting and kayak companies offering sea kayaks for your enjoyment. You’ll also find a considerable amount of whitewater rafting in the country’s rivers. While there are numerous companies offering trips, the oldest and most established is Huck Finn Adventure, located in Zagreb. They feature rafts and kayaks, a well as professional guides to help you stay on track. Whether you want to adventure by sea or enjoy the numerous rivers in the region, this is a great option.

 

Sailing the Seas

Croatia is a land renowned for the coast; consummately, you’ll find a number of companies offering sailing and yachting expeditions through the blue Adriatic. You can explore thousands of coves and inlets or venture out to the uninhabited islands just offshore. You’ll enjoy incredible benefits aboard several craft plying the crystalline waters. You’ll also find that prices are very low, compared to other exploration methods.

 

Diving the Area

Diving in the Adriatic is not like diving in the Caribbean. You’ll find aquatic life in plenty, but the real attraction is historic shipwrecks. Just off Vis (an island off the coast of Croatia), you’ll find an enormous graveyard of ships to explore. Numerous dive companies exist to help you make the most of your aquatic adventure in Croatia.

 

Camping, Hotels and Hostels

You’ll find over 500 campgrounds located on the coast and throughout the pristine islands that offer you the best way to stay during your excursion. The prices are cheap, the sites are clean and well-maintained and you can easily make it to the next one in a day. You’ll also find a number of hostels dotting the countryside, especially in the inland regions. Hotels are plentiful, but located around major cities, such as Zadar, Dubrovnik and Zagreb.

 

Your Croatia adventure travel need not end there. There are many other options and activities available for you to enjoy. Visit AIP Travel for more holiday and travel tips in Croatia.

5 Perfect Ski Resorts To Visit In Austria

Are you planning to visit a ski resort during your next holiday? If so, there is a pretty good possibility that Austria will be considered since there is a growing popularity among ski lovers from all around the world. It is obvious why. All that you have to do is look around and you will see stunning photographs from wonderful ski resorts in the country.

 

Mayrhofen – Tirol

 

Mayrhofen
By larsjuh under CC BY 2.0

 

A quite fun packed ski resort. Everything here is basically geared towards snowboarding and free skiing. There are many slope types that are available and we can say that the entire mountain side is beautiful.

You should consider a visit during the famous Snowbombing Festival, which is quite massive from a musical and cultural point of view.

Mayrhofen is great if you want to relax or just cut loose. We recommended the festival because the atmosphere is even better and the entertainment options are numerous during that time. The experience is definitely memorable.

 

Saalbach – Salzburger Land

 

Saalbach – Salzburger Land
By Leo-setä under CC BY 2.0

 

Saalbach is great for families that have children, groups of travelers, snowboarding lovers and those that love après ski. You can do a lot here and it is a guarantee that you will actually have a vacation.

While in the area, make sure that you check out the Ski Circus Snowboard Park. It offers many different fun filled activities for both non-skiers and skiers. You will love the fact that there are slopes that are suitable for intermediate, expert and beginner skiers or snowboarders.

The only problem is that this resort is quite popular at the moment. You need to book your stay in advance. Check pages like the Saalbach Travel Austria one so that you can see what is available based on the accommodations that you are after.

 

St Anton Am Arlberg – Tirol

 

St Anton Am Arlberg – Tirol
By stefan m under CC BY-ND 2.0

 

The resort is quite close to Switzerland and it has a really long skiing history with various local teachers going to USA to popularize this sport in the country. There are various royals from Europe and celebrities that can be seen here during their holidays. This is a highly popular Summer ski resort in Austria as it is nested at an altitude of over 1,300 meters.

Due to the fact that the ski resort is popular for different types of tourists (including those that would not ski), there are many different small cafes and bars. You can expect a friendly small town atmosphere that is fueled by the history of the region.

 

Kitchberg – Tirol

The Kitchberg resort is found in Kitzbuhel Alps. It is a resort that is well renowned for the scenic landscapes that are visible, together with the highly diversified list of ski routes. You will always find something to do thanks to the 65 kilometers of ski routes. There is also a large selection of snowboarding opportunities if you do not actually like skies.

 

Ischgl – Tirol

 

Ischgl
By Leo-setä under CC BY 2.0

 

There are different stars that love Ichgl so if you go during the on-season, it is almost a guarantee that you will see some world renowned stars. The resort is integrated in the Stubai SuperSki/Innsbruck Glacier Ski Austrian area. You automatically gain access to downhill skiing, 12 km of slopes and there are 7 ski lifts, marked slopes and 11 pistes.

Besides the options that are available in Ischgl, you can also go skiing to everything in the Stubai SuperSki/Innsbruck Glacier Ski area.

Choose The Best Austrian Ski Resort For You!

The 5 resorts that we mentioned above are just some of those that are available in Austria. You should try to allow yourself enough time to consider all the options that you can find. Have patience and use the internet in order to basically learn all that you can about the accommodations that are available at the moment. If you have the necessary time, leave a comment and let us know of the options that you loved in the past. Also, offer tips for the resorts we mentioned if you know them.

Memorable activities in Texas

Memorable activities in Texas Certain places, features, vistas, and situations can make a travel experience in Texas most fulfilling and memorable. Texas has a vast geographical space, a diverse mixture of demographics, and multiple physical attractions that delight tourists and travelers across the state. Social activities in the various cities of Texas including entertainment and sports can make traveling particularly fascinating. Below are some of the most memorable activities for first-time and regular travelers in Texas.

 

san antonio texas
By Tim (Timothy) Pearce under CC BY 2.0

 

  • Touring and shopping at the San Marcos Outlet malls is ever fulfilling and marvelous.
  •  The Premium and Tanger outlets offer attractive goods and services in all seasons.
  • Sampling the delights of the San Antonio River walk rejuvenates many travelers.
  • The physical attraction and the presence of shops and restaurants enthrall travelers.
  • Touring the Alamo building offers insights into the great history of Texas.
  • The Alamo is particularly significant due to the 1836 Battle of the Alamo.

 

Alamo building
By Scazon under CC BY 2.0

 

Experiencing the Marvelous Sea World of Texas

Traveling across Texas remains incomplete without a stopover at the Sea World Saint Antonio. Texas is about the only place in the United States that features extremely fascinating marine shows that captivate travelers and travelers who find it unique and memorable. Travelers enjoy the thrilling rides in the water and the inexhaustible beauties of marine life. The flourishing marine tourism is particularly fulfilling during the festive months of Easter and Christmas. Some of the activities that enrich the Sea World experience include:

 

By Matt McDaniel under CC BY-ND 2.0
By Matt McDaniel under CC BY-ND 2.0

 

  • Onsite dining under the moonlight
  • Highly attractive exhibits
  •  Packages for vacation
  • Various forms of entertainment

 

The Fascinating Pedro Island National Seashore

Laguna Madre
By Dhruvaraj S (originally posted to Flickr as South Padre Island) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Padre Island National Seashore stands out as a geographical marvel that distinguishes Texas as one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. The seashore is also famed as the longest of its kind in the world. One of the most significant geographical facts about the seashore is that it separates the Laguna Madre from the Gulf of Mexico. Travelers enjoy the picturesque features of the shore with many of them making frequent return tours at the place to savor the aesthetics of geography. Foreigners interested in touring the marvels of Texas must go through the ESTA clearance, which ascertains the eligibility of all entrants in the US. The automated system is highly efficient and reliable. Some specifics that enhance the natural beauties of the seashore are:

  • The seashore comprises of wind tidal flats, prairies, and dunes.
  • The seashore is among the very few natural homes of the Kemp’s sea turtle.
  • Nearly 400 species of birds feature around the seashore.
  • The seashore carries the historical significance of Spanish explorations.

Generally, a travel experience through Texas can be memorable by combining the manmade and natural attractions. The specifics would include visiting the famous places such as the islands, shoes, and places of historical significance while also mixing with the exuberance of Texas social life. The fun and merriment that mark the various cities’ nightlife adds to the memorability of the travel experience. Texas does not impose restrictions on touring many of these attractive sites even to foreigners as long as they are cleared by the ESTA system.

Cultural Immersion in Lake Titicaca Peru

With a surface area of 8,300km2 and situated at 3,810m above sea level, Lake Titicaca, located between the border of Perú and Bolivia, is considered the highest commercially navigable lake in the world. The freshwater lake is home to a number of islands with Amantaní and Taquile being the principal ones on the Peruvian side. Also, here lies an archipelago of artificial floating islands made entirely from totora reeds.

Touring these islands can be easily arranged from the lakeside city of Puno, Peru, with each island offering a different cultural experience. It takes about thirty minutes by boat to reach the floating islands of Uros.

 

Taquile Island, Lake Titicaca, Peru
By Emmanuel DYAN under CC BY 2.0

 

Once you alight, the sensation is akin to walking on a moving boat dock, where the floor is a bit wobbly, making you wonder about its stability. But the Uru people who inhabit these islands continually replenish the totora reeds, on average, every three months.

You spend roughly an hour learning about how the Uru had come to live and maintain life on these islands by relying on this plant, which grows abundantly in the lake, for food, cooking, medicine, construction, and transportation. Then, there’s the opportunity to take a ride on a balsa, boats the Uru also construct out of totora. And for those who love collecting passport stamps, you can get one for Lake Titicaca, making for a brilliant souvenir.

Uros may be the least culturally immersive and has been characterized as somewhat “touristy.” So if you can spare a full day on the lake, include a trip to Taquile. From Uros, it takes another 2.5 hours to get to (or three hours directly from Puno).

Taquile and its textile art is on UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, where knitting is exclusively done by the men and the women exclusively make the yarn and weave. The craftsmanship is so intricate that it looks machine made.

 

Las islas de Uros, Lake Titicaca, Peru
By ronan crowley under CC BY-ND 2.0

 

But aside from this remarkable cultural activity, the views of Lake Titicaca afforded from the island and the simplistic beauty of the surroundings as you walk the one hour towards the main square is absolutely stunning. Along the way, you will notice how the people of Taquile recycle everything as the lifecycle of a worn out rubber tire, made into a shoe sole, now serves as a door hinge.

Topographically, the hike is only a gradual ascent, but the high altitude makes it challenging. If not sea sickness, altitude sickness is a common occurrence. The best way to prevent a medical emergency where help is not easily accessible until you return to the mainland is to spend some time acclimatizing in Puno. The return to port is not back the same way, but rather a descent down 500 narrow and steep stone steps.

And if you have even more time, commit to a two day, one night excursion that includes an overnight stay on Amantaní . Amantaní  is the furthest from Puno, about 4 hours, but only an hour away from Taquile. The island is beautiful in a subdued way. Not as lush and verdant as Taquile, but with a plenitude of agricultural terraces that extend practically up to the sheer cliffs that plunge into the ocean.

At the port, local families await to greet the small groups that they will be paired with to host. The homestay provides a glimpse into everyday life. Accommodations are simple. There is no running water, electricity, or showers.

 

Lake Titicaca in Peru
By Emmanuel DYAN under CC BY 2.0

 

Groups and their families hike up to the highest point, Pachatata (Father Earth), to enjoy the sunset. Also here, is an ancient ruin, where it is believed that if you walk around it three times counterclockwise, your wish will come true. Later in the evening, you dress up in traditional costume to attend a party hosted by the community and return in the early morning hours to fall asleep under a clear night sky full of twinkling stars. There are other possibilities for Lake Titicaca tours that are a bit less commercialized so be sure to ask about the options.

Regardless of which islands you choose to visit, there’s no doubt that Lake Titicaca offers a memorable experience.

By Jaclyn Lee