10 most readily useful Colourful Places With Enchanting Houses

There truly are wonderful places to check out in the world. As soon as we want to get abroad, that which we want is usually to be walking down the roads by having a sense of inner Zen, is not it? If stunning views are your thing, here’s a summary of some of the most colourful places to see around the world – you’ll be amazed at exactly what a lick of paint can do.

1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The favelas of Rio got a facelift back in 2010 when the federal government commissioned two Dutch performers to really make the slums look a bit more vibrant. Since that commission, graffiti music artists happen getting imaginative on every area available, it has been helped by the fact that street art is actually appropriate in Rio. Not a bad solution to get the residents to beautify the place can it be?

2. Copenhagen, Denmark

The capital of Denmark, Copenhagen features a pulsating power about this. Listed because the happiest place in the entire world (no really, there’s a research into it), you can execute a lot worse than trying out residence someplace like here.

3. Burano, Italy

One of many four islands into the Venetian province, it is famed because of its lacemaking, although you’ll find most of the tourism it takes in could be because of its picturesque setting. There are not any cars either, so it’s perfect spot for wander.

4. Jodhpur, Asia

Known as the Blue City (10/10 for creativity) this town in Asia ended up being founded in 1459. The blue homes usually signified your home of the Brahmin, nevertheless now we have all basically got in regarding the work while the town features a genuine identification of its.

5. Cape Town, South Africa

The Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town is awash with color. Understood by any names, it is commonly called the Malay Quarter since many of its residents are of Malaysian descent, although whenever translated from Afrikaans, Bo-Kaap literally means ‘above the cape’.

6. Kulusuk, Greenland

The most remote devote this list, Kulusuk actually settlement by having a populace of 312. Not surprisingly tiny population, the village’s houses are all beautifully painted and contrast wonderfully aided by the gorgeous nature they’re surrounded by.

7. Valparaiso, Chile

Cited as Chile’s social capital, it’s not so difficult to understand why. Adorned with a good amount of museums, cathedrals and colonial buildings, the city has a lot of character together with domiciles act as creative outlets the imaginative population.

8. Pattaya, Thailand

Famed because of its gorgeous beaches and sparkling blue waters, Pattaya has also several of the most gorgeous structures on earth. Whether you’re selecting peace and harmony, or even a part a little more wild, this popular tourist spot includes a little one thing for everyone.

9. Guanajuato, Mexico

An important mining town, Guanajuato may be the richest silver mining areas inside whole of Mexico. This influx of money in 16th century generated serious investment in town, therefore shows, with plenty of gorgeous vistas to appreciate. Additionally it is home to ‘kiss alley’, a location where couples are designed to kiss to be able to bring them good luck for the next seven years.

10. Izamal, Mexico

If you want yellowish, look absolutely no further. The entire town of Izamal emits a sunny radiance with every building awash in a yellowish hue, therefore it feels like summer time all through the year – great way to trick your self into thinking it is hot within the cold temperatures!

Using this sort of inspiration, it form of allows you to want to get tangled up in some outside home painting yourself, right?

You can also read my top 5 lists of the greatest beaches and luxury resorts all over the world.

All Weather Layer

Most useful 10 very first & company Class Airline Amenity Kits & Pyjamas

A joy of travelling medium or long term in very first or business (and quite often economy) would be the airline amenity kits. I have picked out the most effective 10 most readily useful airline kits which could also come with free pyjamas. It could just help you decide which airline to choose in your next long haul trip.

1. Qatar Airways Very First & Business Class Amenity Kits

Qatar Airways has simply launched a new range of amenity kits for first and business course passengers on medium- and long- haul flights.

The bags have now been produced in partnership with luggage designer BRICS and Italian skincare brand Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio. The very first class women’s amenity bag is made inside style of BRICS’s Bellagio show bags and show complete grain leather-based inserts paired with high-tech shell with Tuscan leather-based trim.

1st course men’s business class amenity kits have been affected by the brand’s Sintesis distinct trolley bags. Both travel bags are available four tints: black and grey for males, and white and burgundy for women.

Inside the bags passengers will get items from Castello Monte Vibiano Vechio, including lip balm, hydrating facial mist and anti-ageing moisturiser in business class, using the additional Night data recovery cream in first class kits. Kits have attention masks, ear plugs and socks, with luggage tags plus hair brush in first class. Qatar has announced various amenity bags for the A380.

Qatar Airways have launched Nappa Dori amenity kits for premium passengers travelling on flights within five hours through the airline’s Doha home base. The Nappa Dori kits also function lip balm from Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio, socks and eyeshades.

I like Qatar while you additionally get actually helpful White business pyjamas when travelling in business with Qatar Airways on over night routes. These pyjamas or lounge-wear make the Qatar providing my very first choice for best airline amenity kits.

Discover more about the company Class experience on the Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner and my Qatar Airways Business Class Review on Boeing 777 as well as the Al Mourjan Business Class lounge at Doha airport and Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa top class in Doha’s Hamad Airport. I have also reviewed Qatar Airways top class on A380.

2. Emirates First, Company & Economy Class Amenity Kits

Upper course amenity kits on Emirates are full of bespoke beauty goodies from one of my favourite scents; Bulgari. In business you receive a nourishing face emulsion, body lotion & 5ml eau de cologne, plus deodorant, shaving kit (for males), handkerchiefs, comb and brush. The same kit comes on Emirates in very first. Each set comes with an exclusive fragrance—Red Tea, Ebony Tea, White Tea, Green Tea—developed the flight to correspond using the tints of the nationwide banner of the United Arab Emirates. Scents and kits turn every 3 months, therefore frequent fliers will get a variety of goodies. You can read my latest reviews of Emirates business class London to Dubai and Emirates business course Dubai to Cape Town.

Emirates have introduced the world’s first moisturising pyjamas in first class made for airline usage also to over come dry air this provides the passenger an improved evenings sleep. They will be available to top class travellers on Emirates instantly long term routes. Economy people also have amenity kits boasting Bulgari—albeit somewhat pared down version—on long-haul flights.

3. KLM First & Business Class Amenity Kits

KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) features a unique place in my heart as I lived into the Netherlands once I had been a young girl. KLM is area of the Sky Team alliance and currently have a unique partnership with Dutch haute designer Jan Taminiau. He’s created a group of bags for intercontinental routes into the KLM’s World Business cabin. Unlike other amenity kit pouches, these are six elegant clutches (for women, pictured above) and wallets (mens) in 12 different colours which can be created for post-flight usage. The bags can be obtained in addition to the airline’s exclusive Delft Blue homes, that are collectable ceramic presents which were a KLM present since the 1950s.

4. Cathay Pacific Very First & Company Class Amenity Kits

Amenity kits for first and company course people on Cathay Pacific long-haul flights feature natural skincare services and products from prominent Australian brands Aesop and Jurlique, correspondingly. Aesop branded pouches are gifted to passengers in top class. Inside you can find signature items particularly hand cream and lip cream presented in a particularly created case from Aesop plus a dental kit, earplugs, a wood comb, and moisturising cream and a rest mask. Uniquely stackable camel-coloured Aesop instances are offered on flights to and from Hong Kong, allowing people to attach the two kits together after their journey. Male high grade people receive a grey Aesop situation. In addition get pyjamas which you can see in my own Cathay Pacific high grade review JFK to HKG.

I also reviewed business course on Cathay Pacific on long-haul routes. Here you will get an amenity kit designed by Seventy Eight Percent. Natural skincare products from Jurlique are within the kit, which come in 12 tints and therefore are presented onboard for a rotational foundation.

5. Etihad First, Company & Economy Class Amenity Kits

Etihad supplies the Residence, a three-room suite in the air detailed with a butler solution, a sleep dressed up in Italian linens, an individual shower – see images and a ample offering of Acqua di Parma products, along side Christian Lacroix loungewear.

Etihad high grade passengers, additionally get Christian Lacroix loungewear and toiletries from Hungarian skincare brand name, Omorovicza.

Economy people get yourself a sleep tight kit, which features a cool sleep mask among other goodies. Those in business class accept ultra-hydrating moisturisors and lip balms full of supplement E. on the floor, the airline has partnered utilizing the uber pampering Six Senses Spa in Abu Dhabi while the Etihad’s high grade and business class lounges in Abu Dhabi are excellent.

6. United Very First & Business Class Amenity Kits

United Polaris launched in December 2016, with a world-class lounge, new meals, improved bedding and two new amenity kits: one for business class and another (somewhat larger) kit for top class. In first class the kit is presented in a tan colour bag, although the business the kit is blue. Within the first class case you discover an eye mask, earplugs plus never Disturb sticker, cells and Polaris-themed disposable socks. Toiletries include Cowshed hand cream, moisturiser, lip balm, pillow mist, a towelette and eye balm along with a brush, toothpaste, floss stick, mouthwash, breathing mints, comb, glasses wipe and hand sanitizer.

In operation course you can get an eye mask, earplugs and a don’t Disturb sticker, tissues and Polaris-themed disposable socks, Cowshed hand cream, moisturiser, lip balm, pillow mist, a towelette and eye balm along side toothbrush, toothpaste, floss stick, mouthwash, breath mints, comb, spectacles wipe and hand sanitizer a pen. See my estimation of United from my journey report on United Airlines EWR LAX

More exciting versus amenity kits are United’s new pyjamas, that are identical in both cabins which are passed out on routes 12 hours or longer. There aren’t enough pyjamas for each and every passenger, when you require a set ask for them in the beginning of the trip. You’ll select from mall/medium and large/extra big. The pyjama set includes a top and bottom plus they are quite slim which can be good in the event that you get hot on routes but less good in the event that you tend to get cool.

7. Delta First & Business Class Amenity Kits

Delta now offers Tumi amenity kits featuring Kiehl’s services and products, with hard-sided amenity kits offered on flights from the United States, and soft-sided amenity kits offered on flights toward United States. Goods include Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 and Kiehl’s Hand & Body Lotion with Aloe Vera and Oatmeal (that is probably my favourite hand cream and works brilliantly on dry routes), and a dental kit. Delta One passengers additionally have luxe eye masks by Tumi and socks to help blood supply.

8. United states Airlines Very First & Business Class Amenity Kits

United states Airlines offers retro-themed heritage amenity kits for people in worldwide company class or transcontinental first class with experienced instances made to be re-used as being a mini-tablet computer case.

In international company course the kits will contain a couple of socks as well as an eye mask styled aided by the colours of a certain flight, a toothbrush and toothpaste, mouthwash, headset covers earplugs, a pen, cells, hand cream, lip balm and wipes. American will also start providing amenity kits operating course on its transcontinental service between ny and la and san francisco bay area, and Miami and Los Angeles.

The amenity kits in transcontinental high grade have actually socks as well as an eye mask because of the flight branding, a toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, and individual maintenance systems. Overseas high grade customers will receive bigger kits, containing socks plus an eye mask, mouthwash, headset covers, a brush and toothpaste, earplugs, pen, cells and personal care products. Upgraded pyjamas and cotton terry slippers.

9. British Airways Very First & Company Class Amenity Kits

British Airways is really so extremely British, and though their company class or Club World seats come below competitors like Qatar, Emirates and Etihad, the excellent cabin staff and Biggles- style pilots keep me personally deciding to fly BA. In First you will get a decent zip up case and Refinery lip balm, moisturiser, deodorant, eye gel as well as for guys, shave gel along with the Elemis products which you alto enter Club World. See images in my review of British Airways First London to Muscat.

Passengers in Club World enjoy Elemis products including Lip Balm, Pro-Collagen Marine Cream and Pro-Radiance Hand and Nail Cream, nevertheless the case given these goodies is cheap and nasty compared to the unique zip bags furnished by Etihad, Emirates and Qatar. See images of the British Airways amenity kit within my latest summary of Club World on BA.

10. Qantas First & Company Class Amenity Kits

The smellies within the amenity kits on Qantas are really a bit mean. The brand name is Aspar but as you can plainly see from my photos from my trip report when I flew Qantas Dubai to London, the sizes are very little. You also have Martin give Pyjamas and slippers combined with Aspar moisturisers and spray, deodorant, socks, eye mask, toothbrush, ear plugs, comb and good zip up case.

In most cases a first-class ticket will surely cost thousands of pounds over company class so the amenity kit and pyjamas, the upgraded solution pricing isn’t worth every penny, unless you are purchasing on kilometers or your organization is spending.

In my own modest opinion, top in-flight pyjamas or lounge use will be the White Company set supplied on Qatar closely followed closely by the moisturising pyjamas on Emirates.

The best amenity kits need to be the Bulgari kit on Emirates (I just love that fragrance along with their rotating scents) additionally the fun BRICS bags and Italian skincare Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio, supplied on Qatar. Nevertheless, i enjoy Cowshed toiletries on United plus the Kiehl’s hand cream (Delta) is an absolute favourite of my own.

A unique mention is going down to KLM. Their collectable Delft homes are very special and what is never to like of a free clutch bag or wallet? So KLM additionally comes nearby the top of my report on most readily useful amenity kits.

British Airways in particular falls brief by having a crappy bag (not really a classy zip up case) in Club World and Elemis items that I can simply take or leave.

Most of these air companies also function in my top most useful company Class airlines for very long haul travel and my comparison of Emirates vs Etihad vs Qatar Airways: Best flight In The Middle East and also the most readily useful top class suite into the sky: Emirates Vs Etihad in my own Airline Reviews area.

Guide To United states Express Centurion Lounges

American Express offers the best airport lounge benefits of any charge card both in america and the UK via its Platinum Card. A complimentary membership to Priority Pass offers access to over 600 groups worldwide, like the Aspire lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 5, and you can also show your Platinum Card getting usage of extra lounges operated by Airspace and Delta Air Lines as well as the Eurostar lounge – I have evaluated St Pancras lounge.

United states Express in addition runs its very own airport lounges and it is expanding that system in the U.S.

The United states Express Centurion Lounges consist of Las vegas, nevada (Concourse D, offered by United Airlines), Dallas/Fort Worth (Terminal D, served by American Airlines and international departures), brand new York-LaGuardia (Terminal B, Landside), san francisco bay area (Terminal 3 Concourse F, served by United Airlines), Miami (North Terminal Concourse D, offered by American Airlines), and Houston (Terminal D).

The Centurion Studio can be included and is just like the Centurion Lounge network but in an even more boutique setting, is available in Seattle (Concourse B, served by Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and Virgin America).

The Centurion Lounges are complimentary for American Express Platinum Card or Centurion Card holders. They are a great deal better than domestic U.S. lounges. Menus for every single Centurion Lounge were created by way of a various gourmet chef.

In Las vegas, nevada cook Scott Conant (in nevada, pictured above) cooks up a feast for the lounge, In La Guardia its chef Cedric Vongerichten therefore fourth. This means the food and products are excellent individual towards the location to the lounge, as an example in Dallas-Fort Worth think Tacos plus Texas Toast cocktail (sparkling wine, whiskey, sherry, maple syrup mixed). Good sitting areas are very much an upgraded offering through the comparable lounge that may be accessed making use of your Priority Pass. The Centurion Lounges, except for LaGuardia, also have shower rooms.

A few of these benefits are contained in the Centurion Lounge entry cost, which is waived for Platinum and Centurion Cardholders. (Other American Express Cardholders must pay $50 per individual.) including spa remedies within Exhale salon in Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami.

American Express also operates international lounges including Centurion Clubs in Mexico City (MEX) (T1, T1 Platinum, T2), Buenos Aires (EZE), Rio De Janeiro (SDU), and Sao Paulo (CGH) as well as the Platinum Lounges in Mumbai (BOM) and Delhi (DEL).

Centurion Lounges in the US are free for all using the Platinum credit card or Centurion Card from United states Express. Cardholders are permitted to bring two adult companions, or a partner and two kids, to the Centurion Clubs (on a one guest during the Centurion Studio), while usage of the Platinum Lounges is bound to one friend. Extra guests may be allowed for the cost. Visitors with other American Express card may enter the US Centurion Lounge areas, excluding the Centurion Studio, for a $50 fee.

If you are a fan of lounges you should select your Las vegas hotel to include a club lounge and you can read which Las vegas resorts have actually Club Floors and VIP lounges along with my other other flight and airport lounge reviews.

Top 5 Asian Fusion Restaurants in Barcelona

Barcelona is just a town full of culinary delights from around the globe with many to decide on between, if you don’t plan in advance, you frequently find yourself dining someplace less dazzling than your taste buds might hope, therefore to greatly help avoid this I have built my top 5 Asian fusion restaurants in Barcelona. I enjoy Fusion cuisine which combines components of various culinary traditions and contains helped to generate a few of today’s most exquisite dining experiences. Asian fusion is no exclusion combining delicacies, methods and dishes through the culinary masters of Japan, Cambodia, China and Thailand to mention but a couple of, and the things I actually adore is each time a restaurant adds a nod to its locale such as for instance a tapas twist from right here in Barcelona.

1. Nomm

Top of my list needs to be Nomm which we’ve currently reviewed and is pictured above, somewhat gem of an Asian Mediterranean Fusion Restaurant. Plus the beautifully presented and delicious dishes served, it features a really friendly staff, great atmosphere and a wonderful collection of delicious cocktails created by their mixologists. Decide to try their twists on sumptuous meals like: Wagyu “Jiaozi” Dumplings, SashimiMixto and Tartar de Atun Yellow Fin Picante and their selection of delicious desserts which won’t leave you wanting. Their menu changes seasonally and presents dishes from all over the world inside their conventional kind having contemporary twist. Nomm is also the initial restaurant in Barcelona to have optional “shared dining table experience”, in which diners can rub arms with fellow foodophiles while sampling a palate widening number of innovative dishes.
Avenue del ParaI-lel, 130, 08015,Barcelona
T: +34 932 807925

2. Uma

If you’re interested in one thing unusual and a little quirky, this might be it. This restaurant just seats 11 people in a single sitting and it is extremely popular so you’ll almost positively have to book before you arrive. Run by chef Iker and his partner Anna you will definitely like a unique and intimate and individual dining experience. There’s absolutely no menu, instead all dishes are tailored towards dietary demands that you share before you decide to arrive after which you will be met with an incredible multi-course meal (around 15 courses!). Almost like Alice in Wonderland, absolutely nothing will likely to be exactly what it appears and also you won’t know very well what expect when you simply take your next bite, for example one course ended up being called ‘The Rolling Stones’ which in all honesty appeared as if a plate of old pebbles then again they let you know: “just 6 of those are edible” – great fun! Quick tip: to avoid any unexpected post-dinner awkwardness, this restaurant is cash only therefore come prepared!
Carrer de Rossend Arus, 12, 08014 Barcelona, Spain
T: +34 656 99 09 30

3. KOY SHUNKA

You might have been aware of the fabulous SHUNKA, but KOY SHUNKA is its sister restaurant supplying a more refined experience and awarded its very first Michelin celebrity in 2013. KOY SHUNKA, which means: ‘intense regular flavour’, is an excellent example of Japanese fusion, offering freshly prepared meals produced from the best ingredients, like their delicious nigiri and sushi prepared appropriate prior to you. This is a undoubtedly authentic Japanese experience whilst the owner was created in Toyota (Japan), taught the art of Japanese food at their father’s restaurant from a young age and worked in several restaurants over here before visiting Barcelona in 1997.
Carrer de Copons, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
T: +34 93 412 79 39

4. Indochine Ly Leap

Another of my Asian-Mediterranean favourites, Indochine Ly Leap, creates selection of Vietnamese, Cambodian and Thai inspired tapas dishes prepared in what feels as though an metropolitan jungle, where your low-slung table is surrounded by mesmerising seafood tanks, tropical shrubs and orchids plus it even carries a floating house imported directly through the Mékong river! Ly Leap, the cook, exhibits their expertise with spices, citrus flavours and aromatic herbs, grown in his own roof yard. Take to the chicken marinated in ginger, garlic, soy and coriander which comes wrapped in lemon leaves, lamb with plum sweet and sour sauce or stir fried steamed mussel salad with coconut strips and also you won’t be disappointed! This really is undoubtedly one of the more unique dining experiences you’ll find in Barcelona.
Carrer de Muntaner, 82, 08011 Barcelona, Spain
T: +34 934 51 17 96

5. Kao Dim Sum

Finally, Kao Dim Sum provides Asian dining from viewpoint of handmade dim amount haute food in a simple, contemporary environment. Chef Josep Maria Kao creates ambitious cuisine at reasonable costs with dazzling dishes like fried rooster crest with beef, courgette and ginger. Don’t be fooled by the name though as Kao doesn’t just make dim sum: you are able to enjoy meals with Chinese and Catalan details, like the delicious rib roast with sweet-and-sour sauce or green beans sautéed with bacon and Maresme peas all washed straight down with a few exemplary wines.
Carrer del Bisbe Sivilla, 48, 08022 Barcelona
T: +34 93 417 30 64

Therefore, the next time you’re heading to the cosmopolitan money of Barcelona, always book several meals in these exceptional dining locations that may instantly transport you from the Mediterranean to South East Asia in only a matter of bites!

Nomm

Top 5 most useful Hotels With Private Or Infinity Pools In Thailand

Continuing our group of the top 5 most useful beaches and luxury resort hotels across the world, this informative article describes the most truly effective 5 best luxury hotels, near Krabi or Phuket air-ports in Thailand, with personal swimming pools or infinity pools. There is nothing much better than swimming in your personal room or marvelling at how a azure of the infinity pool merges with the azure associated with sky. Here is my pick of the finest hotels absolutely help attain the best poolside fantasy.

1. Crown Lanta Resort, 1h30 from Krabi Airport

Koh Lanta actually peaceful and culturally rich area offering miles of white sand beaches bordering rugged tree-covered hills and mangroves. Crown Lanta Resort & Spa which also features within my top 5 most useful resorts and resorts on Koh Lanta, is just a beachfront resort which extends across 22 hectares of gentle hills which lead down seriously to dramatic cliffs overlooking the sea. A romantic and personal white sand beach sits in front of the resort and there is additionally immediate access towards the famous 3km very long Klong Dao Beach.

83 generously-sized rooms surround the 2 resort swimming pools. Ocean Private Pool Villas give you a personal infinity-style pool and breathtaking panoramic views of the Andaman water and Phi Phi Island. Enjoy the preferences of Thailand at the on-site restaurants, and stay pampered during the rejuvenating Infinity Spa. In nights, stay beachside during the Reggae Bar and revel in a cocktail while experiencing one of the better programs on area – the sunset.

2. COMO Point Yamu Resort, 45 moments from Phuket Airport

Point Yamu by COMO is a luxury resort found during the tip of Cape Yamu overlooking the Andaman Sea together with dramatic limestones of Phang Nga Bay. Interiors by Italian designer Paola Navone give you a unique phrase of modern Thai luxury. Facilities incorporate a COMO Shambhala wellness retreat and two world-class restaurants for Thai and Italian food.

The Verandah Pool rooms each have four-poster sleep, a full time income space, a verandah with comfortable loungers and a personal aqua-tiled infinity pool, where you are able to view the sun’s rays increase.

The impressive 100m main infinity pool has sun loungers overlooking Phang Nga Bay; lie straight back and revel in the fruity icy poles being regularly taken to guests. The pool is perched by Los Angeles Sirena restaurant where you can order lunch to your sun sleep.

The cliffside location with this hotel means spectacular Andaman water views, however immediate access to a private coastline. Nevertheless the resort comes with a personal COMO Beach Club, 40 minutes by complimentary watercraft shuttle from the resort.

3. Rayavadee, 25 mins from Krabi Airport

Set regarding the sun-kissed limestone Phranang Peninsular on side of Krabi Marine National Park, Rayavadee nestles discreetly amidst tropical gardens and coconut groves against a backdrop of sheer cliffs, lush jungle foliage additionally the clear waters of Andaman water.

The large communal lagoon-style infinity pool (pictured above) is encircled by verdant landscaped gardens and looks out onto the sea. Garden-endowed Spa Pavilions give you a private outside Jacuzzs and all Rayavadee’s pavilions consist of big couple’s shower tubs and snuggly-cushioned wood swings rather than sofas.

Rayavadee also boasts four eateries, each with a bar. Krua Phranang is the best option for Thai seafood dinners by the coastline. Surrounded by breathtaking natural splendor, the resort makes the perfect Thailand honeymoon location.

4. Amanpuri, thirty minutes from Phuket Airport

Its no key that i enjoy Aman Hotels. You are able to find out about my current trip to Aman Grand Canale Venice that has been also utterly romantic.

Amanpuri is saved in Surin beach alongside a beach that may only be reached through the hotel or by ship, maintaining it nearly entirely personal. This resort is beachside versus cliffside so are there no infinity views through the black-tiled children’s pool. As an alternative the pool looks through swaying palms and out within the Andaman Sea. A stone staircase results in Pansea coastline, a rustic-chic restaurant, more pools, a watersports centre and tennis courts. A great spa is saved on the other hand of resort, overlooking Bang Tao beach.

Amanpuri’s spaces are what is unique here. The Garden Pool Pavilion plunge pools need to be the absolute most secluded and personal hotel swimming pools in Thailand. Don your bikini (or not) and splash in utter isolation. It is also worth noting that pavilions 103 and 105 have the most striking sea views.

5. Paresa Resort, 45 Mins from Phuket Airport

With beaches and luscious woodlands that appear to wrap all over you, Paresa Resort is nestled in tropical woodlands and perched high above the ocean. It includes stunning panoramic ocean views.

The style can be an uncommon mixture of the Southern Thai style having modern influence; pavilion-style ceilings and rich timber finishes assist develop a clean, spacious atmosphere. The overall mood is calm, understated design and elegance.

With every room offering stunning ocean views you are spoilt for choice. Most feature a private infinity pool with heavenly views over the Andaman Sea and big sunny balconies with four poster sunlight loungers. This really is actually all you need to melt away your stresses also to watch the blissful sunsets. For an periodic modification of scenery, Paresa’s main 25 meter salt water infinity pool is impressive, having poolside bar to add to the glamour.

Read my other top five best articles to discover the most notable 5 most useful places to visit, my best destinations for the magical Christmas, my most useful locations in Europe, my best wilderness lodges worldwide therefore the most useful swimming pools in European countries.

Swimming With Whale Sharks In Mexico (They’re HUGE!)

Whale Sharks in Mexico

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico

Isla Holbox, Mexico

Swimming with whale sharks is an underwater adventure I’ve wanted to try for years. I finally took the plunge, and swam alongside these gentle giants in Mexico!

I’ve swam with regular sharks before — the kind that occasionally dine on humans. But swimming with whale sharks is a totally different experience.

Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean, growing up to 40 feet long and weighing up to 20,000 pounds. However you don’t have to worry about them eating you with their very tiny teeth.

Which is why you should try swimming with them in Mexico!

Isla Holbox Boat Trip

Sailing Around Isla Holbox

Whale Shark Snorkeling

Anna Snorkeling with a Whale Shark

Whale Sharks Won’t Eat You

Whale sharks are filter-feeders, sucking up microscopic plankton and baby fish with their giant mouths. This makes them similar to whales, although technically they are from the shark family.

They can’t eat humans — which is why swimming with them has become so popular in places like Mexico, the Philippines, and South Africa.

Whale sharks can live up to 70 years old. They move slow enough that we can keep up with them underwater, but barely. You have to swim really fast with fins to stay beside one.

The only real danger is swimming under one. After feeding they sometimes descend without warning… imagine being trapped under a sinking dump truck!

Whale Shark Boats

Tour Boats Waiting for Snorkeling

Sailing The Gulf Of Mexico

My girlfriend Anna (AnnaEverywhere.com) and I booked our whale shark tour with Willy’s Tours in Isla Holbox.

Setting off from the dock at 8am, we sped over the Gulf of Mexico for the next 2 hours. Stopping briefly for photos of a pod of playful dolphins!

The boat was covered, which was nice, because that tropical Mexican sun is hot! Eventually we saw other boats gathering in the distance… this was a good sign.

Whale Shark Tours

Swimming with Whale Sharks

Waiting Our Turn

Unfortunately there was only one whale shark that day. But that’s still better than none, which sometimes happens early or late in the season. So a group of 6 boats took turns sending customers into the water.

We sat on the edge with our snorkel gear on, waiting for the signal to jump in. Once you’re in the water, the goal is to kick hard and fast to keep up with the shark. Because if you hesitate, you might miss it.

They swim effortlessly, but are much faster than they look.

You aren’t allowed to touch the whale sharks because it stresses them out, and may cause them to dive deep, ending the experience for everyone. Only 2 people go into the water at a time, along with your guide.

Whale Sharks Underwater

Huge 30 Foot Whale Shark

Swimming With Whale Sharks

Swimming next to a 30 foot long sea creature, the size of a small bus, was a wild experience. It’s a bit intimidating to be honest… they’re huge! It looks like they could swallow you whole…

But the world’s largest fish won’t try to eat you.

It’s just slurping up tasty plankton and expelling excess seawater through its gills. The white-spotted shark kept her eye on us, but didn’t seem to mind our presence.

Normally whale sharks live much deeper in the ocean — only coming up to eat about 46 pounds of those microscopic organisms each day.

How an animal this big can live on something so small is a mystery to me…

Flamingos at Isla Holbox

A Flamboyance of Flamingos!

Sea Turtle Swimming

Snorkeling with Sea Turtles

Flamingos & Sea Turtles Too!

After swimming with the whale shark 3 times, for a few minutes each, it was time to leave it alone and motor off to the next part of the trip.

Our guide prepared fresh ceviche as we sped back to Holbox, on our way to a reef. There we snorkeled for about 30 minutes with sea turtles, manta rays, and a bunch of fish. Including a few barracudas!

We then sailed into a protected bird sanctuary to watch flamingos and other sea birds hanging out in the shallow water, before heading back to the dock.

Snorkeling with Whale Sharks

Great Day on the Water!

Sustainable Tourism

Is swimming with whale sharks ethical? Personally, I believe responsible and sustainable tourism can help these animals survive.

Sharks of all kinds are being wiped out by overfishing. But conservation & awareness projects to save them are often funded by tour permit fees. Without tours, these programs don’t get much funding.

Yet we also need to be careful, and not wreck the animal’s habitat due to unchecked tourism either. There’s no easy answer.

When To Visit

Whale Shark season on the Yucatan Peninsula is from June to September. This is when the sharks migrate to waters around Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Isla Contoy, and Isla Holbox to feed.

But the best months are July & August, when populations are highest.

Sunny days are better than cloudy days too, but not just because you’ll get better photos. The plankton whale sharks feed on only comes up to the surface when the sun is out, so if it’s cloudy, they stay below.

Holbox Dock

Boat Dock in Isla Holbox

Holbox Beach

White Sand Beaches in Holbox

Getting To Holbox

Most tourists base themselves in Cancun. However, if you have the time, I recommend visiting the beautiful sleepy island of Isla Holbox. Voted a top travel destination by the New York Times.

To get to Holbox, you take a ferry from the fishing town of Chiquila, which is a 2 hour drive from Cancun (3 hours from Playa del Carmen). A bus is also possible, but takes a lot longer with all the stops. Hiring a taxi/shuttle can cost $60 – $100+ USD.

Best Places To Stay

We based ourselves from Isla Holbox at hotel Cielito Lindo, 2 blocks from the beach. I enjoy using AirBnB, but there are great hotels and hostels on Holbox too. If you haven’t yet, make sure to read my article about how to find cheap hotels.

Budget

Los Arcos

Mid-Range

Cielito Lindo

Swimming with whale sharks in Mexico was a pretty unique experience, there are only a few places in the world where you can do this.

Witnessing these gentle giants up close really helps you appreciate how small humans are, and how diverse the ocean is. ★

Traveling To Mexico Soon?

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance here.

Watch Video: Swimming With Whale Sharks


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(Click to watch Swimming With Whale Sharks – Mexico on YouTube)

More Information

Location: Isla Holbox, Mexico
Total Cost: $1100 Pesos ($70 USD)
Official Website: Willy’s Tours Holbox
Useful Notes: The whale shark tour lasts from 8am – 3pm. Normal sunscreen isn’t allowed (to protect the sharks), so make sure to pack some natural stuff if you don’t want to get burned. The sea can be choppy, resulting in seasickness for some people.
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Yucatan
Suggested Reading: The Maya: Ancient Peoples & Places

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Mexico
Whale Shark Snorkeling

READ NEXT: Exploring Mexico’s Secret River

Have any questions about swimming with whale sharks in Mexico? Would you do it? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Rio Secreto: Exploring Mexico’s Underground Rivers & Caves

Rio Secreto Mexico

Rio Secreto Underground River

Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Hiking in waist-deep water through dark caves at Rio Secreto, we turned a corner to discover a massive cavern decorated with incredible stalactites all over the ceiling.

Spelunking, or exploring caves, is one of my favorite adventure travel activities. I’ve hiked and crawled through natural underground passageways in South Africa, Guatemala, Iceland, and more.

But Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is teeming with incredible caves too.

There is something exciting about wandering through the darkness, deep into the Earth, not sure what you’ll discover around the next bend.

Visiting Rio Secreto gives you a taste of this rarely-seen and magical world.

We walked through the jungle to one of the cave entrances led by our guide “Ro”, who told us camera traps nearby had recently captured images of wild jaguars that call the area home.

Rio Secreto Mayan Blessing

Traditional Mayan Blessing

The Maya Underworld

Our adventure begins with a sacred Maya cleansing ritual using smoke. A local shaman asks Mayan death gods for permission for us to enter their domain.

The Maya consider these caves scared, a portal to Xibalba (aka “the place of fear”) — the Mayan underworld.

Ancient skeletons, artifacts, and petroglyphs have been discovered in the cenotes and caves that cover the Yucatan Peninsula. Some date back 13,000 years!

Caves like this were often used for human & animal sacrifice, and even today many local Maya keep clear of them.

In 2007 Rio Secreto’s owner decided to allow eco-tours through 10% of the natural reserve, in order to fund conservation for the rest of it.

Cave Entrance

Entrance to the Underworld

Stalactites in a Cave

Amazing Cathedral of Stalactites

Exploring Rio Secreto’s Caves

There are a few different entrances to the caves, covered in vines. Black holes ready to swallow us into the earth. We switch on our headlamps and head into the darkness, not sure what lies ahead.

Rio Secreto is a maze of passageways and dramatic mineral formations. Water drips lightly from the ends of stalactites on the ceiling into the pristine blue pools at our feet. This water has slowly filtered through the porous rock, which is why it’s so clean.

We’re witnessing millions of years of geological history as we hike and swim through different chambers.

The water is cold, but the air is warm with humidity too. We squeeze through narrow cave passages, sometimes with water up to our chests. But there are also massive chambers, large enough to fit a small house inside.

Secret Caves in Mexico

Swimming through Narrow Passages

Underground River Systems

Limestone cave environments like this are very fragile. Rio Secreto has taken great pains to keep the area pristine, without installing concrete paths or tons of cheesy artificial lighting. It’s just you and your headlamp in the darkness.

You have to watch your footing though, as the cave floor constantly changes from wet and slippery to sharp and jagged. It feels like a proper caving adventure!

Our guide occasionally placed a couple of powerful waterproof flashlights into the water, turning it into a giant glowing river of blue light.

This water is part of an intricate network of rivers that flows beneath the Yucatan Peninsula’s hollow limestone shell. It’s actually the 2nd largest underground river system in the world.

Professional cave divers love the area’s many underwater caves. But at Rio Secreto, the water level is shallow — allowing anyone to explore these caves on foot. No need for specialized scuba gear or expensive training.

Yucatan Caves width=

Pristine Underground Rivers

Getting There

Rio Secreto is located a few miles south of Playa del Carmen, off Highway 307 along the Riviera Maya. It’s about an hour south of Cancun, or 40 minutes north of Tulum.

If you have a rental car you can drive there yourself, jump in a local taxi/collectivo van, or arrange for them to pick you up at your hotel.

Rio Secreto Tips & Advice

If you don’t get too claustrophobic and love exploring caves like me, then Mexico’s Rio Secreto is a pretty awesome experience. You are going to get wet. But don’t worry, that’s part of the fun!

Make sure to bring a swimsuit and towel. Rio Secreto provides a wetsuit, water shoes, lifejacket, helmet, and light.

Cameras are not allowed because of the wet & hazardous cave environment. However trained staff can take photos with special equipment, which you can buy at the end of the tour.

Best Places To Stay

The closest town to stay nearby is Playa del Carmen — but Cozumel, Cancun, and Tulum are not too far away either. I’m a big fan of AirBnB, but there are also great hotels and hostels in Playa too. If you haven’t yet, make sure to read my article about how to find cheap hotels.

The limestone cenotes and caves of the Yucatan Peninsula are very unique to this area, you won’t find anything quite like them anywhere else around the world. They’re one of my favorite tourist attractions in Mexico! ★

Traveling To Mexico Soon?

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance here.

Amazing Rio Secreto in Mexico
Amazing Rio Secreto in Mexico

READ NEXT: Things To Do In Playa Del Carmen

Have any questions about Rio Secreto? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

How To Visit Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor (Safety, Visas, Cost)

Travel in Afghanistan

How to Travel Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor

Afghanistan

In August 2016 I traveled through Afghanistan for two weeks, an American backpacking across the beautiful Pamir mountains in the Wakhan Corridor. This is how I did it.

DISCLAIMER: The US government warns against travel to Afghanistan. Just because I went, does not mean I recommend everyone should go. The safety situation changes on a weekly basis, and requires a good deal of research/planning beforehand.

When I told family & friends I was planning a trip to Afghanistan, they thought I’d lost my mind. Afghanistan, that war-torn middle eastern country full of terrorists, soldiers, car bombs, predator drones, and IEDs.

Why the hell would I want to go there?

Afghanistan has been on my bucket-list for a few years after I met fellow traveler and public speaker Shane Dallas who happened to share his experience with me at a travel industry conference.

I learned that the version of the country most of us see each night on the evening news is simply not the full story…

Parts of Afghanistan can be dangerous, sure, but it’s also full of beauty, hospitality, and history too.

This is the Afghanistan I was on a mission to seek out and share.

Wakhan Corridor

Exploring the Wakhan on Foot

The Wakhan Corridor

Afghanistan’s remote and desolate Wakhan Corridor is called the “roof of the world” by the local people who live there. It’s located in the far North East corner of the country, surrounded on three sides by Tajikistan, Pakistan and China.

The Wakhan is incredibly cut-off from the rest of Afghanistan.

There are no government services, large parts of the region have no roads, and people are basically living on their own in the mountains.

The area is inhabited by two main ethnic groups, the Wakhi and the Kyrgyz. The Wakhi often have two homes, one for winter and one for summer months, made of stone.

The Kyrgyz are more nomadic, living in semi-portable yurt tents made of felt. They move their homes and animals to different valleys depending on the season.

A majority of the population raises livestock for a living. They trade sheep, goats and yaks to merchants from Pakistan or other parts of Afghanistan for clothing, food, and necessities they can’t produce themselves at these remote high-altitude locations they call home.

The Wakhan used to be part of the ancient Silk Road, and explorers Marco Polo and Alexander the Great both passed through this part of Afghanistan on their travels around the world.

Afghanistan Safety

Friendly Faces in Afghanistan

Woman in Blue Burka

Afghan Woman Wearing a Burka

Safety In Afghanistan

Travelers don’t have to worry about the Taliban or Al-Qaeda in the Wakhan. It’s one of the few places in Afghanistan that has remained relatively conflict-free over the years.

The Wakhan is part of Afghanistan’s Badakhshan Province. While the Taliban does have a presence in parts of Badakhshan, the Wakhan region itself is terrorist-free (for now). The main road leading in is currently controlled by the Afghan Military, who keeps the Taliban out.

Most locals living in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor are Ismaili Muslims, who practice a moderate form of Islam. They despise the Taliban, and generally welcome foreign travelers. It’s become an important part of their economy.

But that doesn’t mean the Wakhan is a tourist hot-spot.

The area sees a total of about 100 tourists every year. This is partly due to the taboo of traveling in a war-torn country, lack of reliable travel information, and remoteness of the region.

Afghanistan Visa for Americans

My Tourist Visa from Afghanistan

How To Get A Visa

There is a very specific process for obtaining a visa to enter Afghanistan’s Wakhan corridor, and it involves a trip to the neighboring country of Tajikistan and a town called Khorog near the border.

But first, you’ll need a double entry visa for Tajikistan. You cannot get a double entry visa on arrival at the airport, so you must apply for one in advance at an official embassy or consulate.

Why? After you travel into Afghanistan through Tajikistan, you’ll need to leave through Tajikistan too. Which counts as a 2nd entry into Tajikistan. But typical visas for Tajikistan are only single entry.

With your double entry Tajik visa, the next step is to travel to the town of Khorog, where it’s possible to apply for an Afghanistan visa at the local consulate. Keep reading to learn more…

Dushanbe Monument

Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Arriving In Dushanbe

Flying into the city of Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, is going to be your first adventure. Tajikistan has a reputation as one of the most corrupt countries in the world — and you’ll soon know why.

Dushanbe airport officials asked me for bribes on 2 separate occasions. If you refuse, they send you to the back of the line, or move you to another line, over and over again until you give up and pay them.

Dushanbe Accommodation:

Twins Hotel | Rohat Hotel | Green House Hostel

I recommend spending at least one night in Dushanbe, but probably more. You’ll need to exchange cash, buy last-minute supplies, and get a local sim card for your phone.

The best cell phone company to use is TCell for cell service in the Pamir Mountains. You’ll even have some service on the Afghanistan side for a while.

There’s a basic outdoor shop in Dushanbe called “BAP3ИШ” where you can buy a knife, stove gas, and other camping supplies you might need in the Wakhan. Nothing high-end, just cheap Chinese made stuff.

Khorog Tajikistan

Khorog from Above

Traveling To Khorog

Khorog is a mountain town in the heart of Tajikistan’s remote GBAO region. To travel in Tajikistan’s GBAO region, you need a GBAO permit.

This can be obtained either when applying for your double entry Tajikistan visa, or in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe at the OVIR office.

Now you must travel to Khorog and apply for the Afghan visa in person.

This requires a rough, dusty, 20 hour long 4×4 taxi journey over the Pamir Highway from Dushanbe.

While there’s also a short flight from Dushanbe to Khorog, it’s not easy to get a ticket and is often canceled due to weather.

Khorog Accommodation:

Mountain River Guest House | Delhi Darbar Hotel | Pamir Lodge

Khorog is a major stop for trekkers/cyclists/motorcyclists who are exploring the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan. It’s also the last place you’ll find an ATM, there are 2 or 3 in town. Plan on spending a least a night or two here before heading to Afghanistan.

Khorog Downtown

Downtown Khorog, Tajikistan

Visiting The Afghan Consulate

Khorog is home to a small Afghan consulate that has a reputation for giving out Afghan visas in as little as an hour. As an American, this same-day visa service cost me $200 USD.

Why so much? Because the United States makes it difficult for Afghans to get a visa. So they return the favor with a high visa fee for Americans.

The woman at the consulate was trying her best to persuade me not to visit. Saying the visa is too expensive for Americans, that it won’t be easy to travel there, etc. I assured her I was prepared, and had been planning this trip for years.

At the consulate I had to explain why I wanted to visit Afghanistan (hiking in the Wakhan), and write/sign a letter acknowledging I alone was responsible for myself and my actions in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Border

Afghanistan Border Crossing

Afghanistan Checkpoint

Hanging with Soldiers at a Military Checkpoint

Crossing The Border

With my shiny new Afghan visa in hand, I traveled to the Tajik border town of Ishkashim. It’s a 3 hour drive South of Khorog. One or two shared taxis head to Ishkashim from Khorog each morning.

The desolate Afghanistan border post sits on the right side of the road before you actually reach the town of Ishkashim. Tajikistan border guards have a reputation for requesting bribes, so just be aware.

On the Afghan side of the border, they searched my bags and scanned my passport through the INTERPOL database to ensure I wasn’t a fugitive. After that, I was in! Welcome to Afghanistan.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling nervous standing on Afghan soil.

The border post is a few kilometers away from the nearest Afghan town of Sultan Eshkashim, so unless you want to walk there, an overpriced taxi ride costs $20 for a 10 minute drive.

Ishkashim vs. Sultan Eshkashim: These are two different towns, and it can be confusing. Ishkashim is the border town on the Tajikistan side, Sultan Eshkashim is the border town on the Afghanistan side.
Wakhan Guesthouse

Marco Polo Guesthouse in Sultan Eshkashim

Wakhan Corridor Permission

Hand-Written Wakhan Permit

Eshkashim & Wakhan Permits

Sultan Eshkashim is the entrance to the Wakhan Corridor. Many travelers are happy to just hang out there for a few days to experience a taste of Afghanistan before heading back to Tajikistan.

But if you want to go hiking in the Wakhan, you need to acquire additional permits.

Sultan Eshkashim Accommodation:

Marco Polo Guest House (no website)

While getting these permits on your own is possible, it’s a huge pain in the ass if you don’t speak Persian/Farsi. Instead, I hired an English speaking local to help for about $50.

The permit process involves multiple passport photos, paperwork, plenty of tea, and stops at a few different government, police, and military offices. You’ll have to explain yourself to local officials questioning why you are there, what you do, etc.

The whole ordeal takes 3-4 hours, provided all the offices are even open. They sometimes close down on certain days (Friday/Saturday). I got lucky, but if something is closed you may have to return the next day.

Local officials eventually gave me a hand-written letter granting permission to travel to the next village, where I’d have to request permission again to move on further.

Driving in Afghanistan

Driving in the Wakhan Corridor

Khandud Afghanistan

Ruined Mosque in Khandud

Driving To Sarhad-e Broghil

Now that I had my permits for the Wakhan, it was time to make my way 200 km up the valley in an expensive 4X4 taxi to the village of Sarhad-e Broghil, where the road ends and the true wilderness begins.

I hired a local translator/guide to join me on the trek.

For the next 2 days, Yar Mohammad Attahi helped me navigate additional checkpoints and permit stops as we drove into the mountains, while giving me the opportunity to actually communicate with locals.

The 4X4 journey to Sarhad navigates some of the roughest roads I’ve ever seen. Over boulder fields, into rivers, along the edge of cliffs, and through deep desert sand.

Our beat-up Toyota van was equipped with crappy shocks, broken windows, and was repeatedly crippled by flat tires (5 times). It was one wild ride!

But because so few cars travel out here, and the route is unforgiving to vehicles, the price of this “taxi” journey is high — $350 one way.

Once we made it to Sarhad-e Broghil, Yar and I spent the night at a guesthouse. The next day we began our 100 mile trek across the towering, snow-capped Pamir Mountains.

Tent in the Pamir Mountains

Camping in Afghanistan

Crossing a River in the Pamirs

Hiking in the Wakhan

Hiking In The Wakhan

While I’ll go into more detail about the trek itself in future articles, I just wanted to share some logistics here. I found my guide/translator Yar in the Afghan border town of Sultan Eshkashim.

At the end of the road in Sarhad, we hired a pack horse accompanied by its owner Panshambe to help carry our food & gear for the next 10 days of hiking.

The three of us were completely on our own in the wilderness after Sarhad. Only passing through tiny Wakhi or Kyrgyz communities made up of a few stone huts and yurts. No markets, no doctors, no roads.

I’d brought a camping stove and enough freeze-dried meals for 12 days, along with energy bars and trail mix for snacks. My companions packed rice, tea, and bread for themselves. Over the course of the trip we mixed and shared our supplies with each other.

Unless you bring your own trekking food, your options are going to be limited. Canned fish, beans, rice, and sugar are available to buy in Sultan Eshkashim. But that’s about it. You can sometimes buy flatbread from locals in the mountains.

The 10 day trek maintained altitudes between 12,000 and 16,000 feet. The trails themselves weren’t terribly difficult, as they are used by locals on a daily basis, but it’s the altitude and the dramatic weather that can mess you up.

Some of the trails were perched on the edge of 300 foot drops, and when it snowed (yes, in August), these became much more dangerous. There were many river crossings, but nothing deeper than your knee.

We hiked a loop from Sarhad to Chaqmaqtin Lake, starting on the “high” route through the 16,000 ft. Garumdee Pass, returning on the “low” river route back to Sarhad. You can read more about these trekking routes here.

How Much Did It Cost?

I spent 2 weeks in Afghanistan, with 10 days of those trekking. It cost me about $1800 USD. That doesn’t include 1 week spent in neighboring Tajikistan before and after the trip. Because just getting to the border of Afghanistan is a separate adventure that takes 2-3 days!

To keep things simple, prices are in US Dollars.

Tajikistan Costs

Double Entry Tajikistan Visa: $55 USD
GBAO Permit: $4-$20 USD
Dushanbe Hotel: $10-$80 USD per night (x 2)
4X4 Taxi to Khorog: $38 USD (x 2)
Khorog Hotel: $20-$50 USD per night (x 2)
Taxi to Ishkashim: $9 USD (x 2)

Afghanistan Costs

Afghanistan Visa: $200 USD (cheaper if you’re not American)
Taxi to Eshkashim: $20 (x 2)
Guest House: $10-$25 USD per night (x 8)
Wakhan Permits: $50 USD
4×4 Taxi: $350 USD one way (x 2)
Pack Animal: $20 USD per day (x 10)
Guide/Translator: $30 USD per day (x 14)
Camping: Free

I’d say you want to budget at least $2500 USD and 3 weeks for a similar trip, not including flights. Stuff goes wrong, delays happen, prices change, and credit/ATM cards are useless once you’re in Afghanistan.

It’s a tough place to travel in that respect. You need to plan at least a few buffer days, and bring plenty of extra cash for unexpected situations.

Wakhan Hiking Guides

My Horseman (Panshambe) and Guide (Yar Attahi)

Warnings

Afghanistan is still a very volatile country. While the Wakhan Corridor itself is pretty safe, a foreigner did disappear there recently, and other parts of the province have seen kidnappings and Taliban attacks.

Just because it felt safe when I was there does not mean it always will be.

Also, it’s important for me to point out that the Afghanistan/Tajikistan border sometimes closes without warning. Usually because of Cholera outbreaks, sometimes just because of bureaucratic arguments.

If it closes when you’re on the Afghan side, you’ll be stuck there until it opens again. Which could be a few days, or a few weeks. You need to be prepared for that possibility.

Traveling overland to Kabul from the Wakhan is not a safe option at the moment.

Helpfull Websites About The Wakhan

Other Areas Of Afghanistan

Wakhan Corridor Guide

If you’re planning a trip to the Wakhan, I highly recommend Yar Mohammad Attahi as a guide and translator. Tell him I sent you!

More From Afghanistan

This was just a brief overview of the logistics for traveling in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor. I’ll be sharing much more about the incredible trek itself in future articles.

If you’d like a notification when I publish something new about Afghanistan, make sure to sign up for my newsletter here. ★

READ NEXT: Should You Go To School Or Travel?

Have any questions about Afghanistan? Would you ever consider traveling there? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Road Tripping Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoor National Park

Exploring Dartmoor in the Vauxhall Mokka X

United Kingdom

Petting a wild pony in Dartmoor National Park probably wasn’t the best idea. It lunged for my hand, attempting to bite. There’s a reason these furry ponies are called “wild!”

Dartmoor has sometimes been described as the ‘last wilderness’ of the United Kingdom. Its vast open landscape is home to a variety of unique features — wet peaty bogs, stunted oak forests, rocky outcroppings called “tors”, and icy mountain waterfalls.

If you’re looking to escape London for a while, Dartmoor National Park is an excellent place to relax and enjoy the serenity of nature. The park is only a 4-5 hour drive away from the hustle & bustle of the city.

My friends at Vauxhall loaned me their new Mokka X SUV for the trip, a fun city-friendly turbo diesel with 4×4 capability that can handle off-the-beaten-path adventures.

Dartmoor Ponies at Haytor

Wild Dartmoor Ponies

Sunset at Saddle Tor

Lone Hawthorne Tree at Sunset

Exploring Dartmoor In Autumn

Autumn in Dartmoor is a beautiful time to visit. Sure, it’s a bit colder then normal, but the ground and trees are rich in color. A mix of burnt reds, yellows, and greens. There are less people on the roads too.

The narrow lanes in Dartmoor are a lot of fun to drive, if not a bit scary.

Winding asphalt hugs the hills & valleys, passing through small villages from time to time. Some of the smaller roads are single lane, causing trouble when two people approach from opposite directions.

The area is covered with small stone bridges too. Some of them, called “clapper” bridges, date back to the 1300’s. You can’t drive on the clappers, but they’re a wonderful piece of British history.

Emsworthy Farm

Emsworthy Farm

Waterfalls in Dartmoor

Beautiful Venford Falls

Legends Of Dartmoor

Humans have been living on Dartmoor for at least 12,000 years, so there is a ton of history here. Which means there are plenty of legends and myths too. Here are some of my favorite…

Spectral Hounds: Roaming the misty mires and barren hills of Dartmoor at night, abnormally large and ghostly black dogs patrol the region, and you don’t want to be around to meet them…

Pixies: Small mythical creatures with pointed ears who live in caves, around stone circles, and cause mischief. Similar to fairies and sprites, but a different race.

Headless Horseman: Multiple tales of a headless horseman riding fast over narrow lanes after dark, sometimes accompanied by a pack of spectral hounds.

The Devil’s Visit: Back in 1638, the Devil visited St. Pancras Church in the village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Lightning struck its tower, killing 4 people inside during Sunday mass.

Vauxhall Apple Car Play

Apple Car Play is Great for Road Trips!

Vauxhall Destination Download

Destination Download with OnStar

The Vauxhall Mokka X

Traveling from London out to the wilds of Dartmoor, the Vauxhall Mokka X was a perfect road trip companion during my drive. It’s full of features that make long road trips through unfamiliar territory an absolute pleasure.

Apple Car Play

The ability to connect the car’s touchscreen to my phone, and control my apps is super handy. I listened to my Spotify playlists, loaded previously saved navigation routes, and could make calls with ease. You can even access the power of Siri by pressing a button on your steering wheel!

Destination Download

With OnStar activated in the Mokka X, you can press the OnStar button to call an operator and ask for directions, which will then be uploaded into your car’s navigation system automatically. So nice! It’s like having a personal assistant for your drive.

4×4 All Wheel Drive

The compact size of the Mokka X makes it great for city driving, but with good clearance and 4×4 electronic all wheel drive capability, you can easily navigate winter roads, steep rocky inclines, or muddy off-road tracks in the countryside when you need more traction.

Remote Unlock

Vauxhall has it’s own smartphone app, called My Vauxhall, which gives you all kinds of power over your Mokka X. For example, you can lock or unlock the vehicle from further away then your key fob allows, check tire pressure or fuel level, plus much more.

Haytor Rocks in Dartmoor

Haytor Rocks

Climbing in Dartmoor

Climbing the Granite at Haytor

Hiking Around Haytor

Dartmoor National Park is covered in “tors”, exposed granite rock outcrops sitting on the summit of hills in the region. There are hundreds of these, some of them are pretty impressive.

Many can be climbed, either by scrambling, or rock proper climbing with ropes. One of the most famous is called Haytor.

Hill walking through the moors is a popular activity in Dartmoor, and you can find short or long-distance trails all over the place.

Many take you from tor to tor, passing by old farms, ancient stone circles, or ruined Bronze-age villages along the way.

Mokka X Off Road

Exploring Off-Road with the Mokka X

Sheep in Dartmoor

So Many Sheep!

Dartmoor Ponies

Dartmoor has its own special breed of horses, called the Dartmoor Pony. These hardy ponies have been living on the moor for millennia — there’s evidence of them from 3,500 years ago.

They reminded me a lot of Icelandic ponies, with thick fur, long manes, and short powerful bodies. The harsh winter weather on Dartmoor can be similar to Iceland too.

While the Dartmoor ponies are collectively owned by locals, they roam free throughout the national park, and are not handled by humans. So be careful if you approach, there’s the possibility of getting bitten or kicked.

Yes these ponies are super cute, but they are still wild!

Dartmoor Pony Group

Herd of Dartmoor Ponies

Driving Dartmoor National Park

Driving Dartmoor National Park

Tips For Visiting Dartmoor

There are a handful of villages within the park with decent accommodation like Postbridge and Two Bridges. I spent 3 nights at the Two Bridges Hotel, a wonderful old building on the side of a river. They have an excellent restaurant too.

Some people decide to stay outside the park in the towns of Tavistock or Bovey Tracey. Summer is the most popular time to visit, but I had a great time enjoying the fall colors of early November.

You can embark on all kinds of different outdoor activities in Dartmoor — hiking tors, horseback riding, cycling, rock climbing, even whitewater kayaking is popular here. Wild camping is allowed in certain areas of the park, you can find a map here.

Driving to Dartmoor from London was a fun little weekend road trip getaway. It was nice to discover a slice of rural life in the United Kingdom that I hadn’t experienced before. ★

Tips for traveling to Dartmoor National Park
Tips for traveling to Dartmoor National Park

Watch Video: Dartmoor National Park


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(Click to watch Driving Dartmoor – United Kingdom on YouTube)

More Information

Location: Dartmoor National Park, United Kingdom
Official Website: Dartmoor National Park
Accommodation: Two Bridges Hotel
Car Details: Vauxhall Mokka X
Useful Notes: I spent 4 days and 3 nights in Dartmoor, basing myself in the town of Two Bridges. In the fall, there aren’t many shops or restaurants open in the park. So pack some extra supplies.
Recommended Guidebook: Lonely Planet Great Britain
Suggested Reading: Hound Of The Baskervilles

READ NEXT: Should You Go To School Or Travel?

Have any questions about Dartmoor? Do you think the ponies are cute? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Vauxhall

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Driving Dartmoor National Park With The Vauxhall Mokka X

Dartmoor National Park

Exploring Dartmoor in the Vauxhall Mokka X

United Kingdom

Petting a wild pony in Dartmoor National Park probably wasn’t the best idea. It lunged for my hand, attempting to bite. There’s a reason these furry ponies are called “wild!”

Dartmoor has sometimes been described as the ‘last wilderness’ of the United Kingdom. Its vast open landscape is home to a variety of unique features — wet peaty bogs, stunted oak forests, rocky outcroppings called “tors”, and icy mountain waterfalls.

If you’re looking to escape London for a while, Dartmoor National Park is an excellent place to relax and enjoy the serenity of nature. The park is only a 4-5 hour drive away from the hustle & bustle of the city.

My friends at Vauxhall loaned me their new Mokka X SUV for the trip, a fun city-friendly turbo diesel with 4×4 capability that can handle off-the-beaten-path adventures.

Dartmoor Ponies at Haytor

Wild Dartmoor Ponies

Sunset at Saddle Tor

Lone Hawthorne Tree at Sunset

Exploring Dartmoor In Autumn

Autumn in Dartmoor is a beautiful time to visit. Sure, it’s a bit colder then normal, but the ground and trees are rich in color. A mix of burnt reds, yellows, and greens. There are less people on the roads too.

The narrow lanes in Dartmoor are a lot of fun to drive, if not a bit scary.

Winding asphalt hugs the hills & valleys, passing through small villages from time to time. Some of the smaller roads are single lane, causing trouble when two people approach from opposite directions.

The area is covered with small stone bridges too. Some of them, called “clapper” bridges, date back to the 1300’s. You can’t drive on the clappers, but they’re a wonderful piece of British history.

Emsworthy Farm

Emsworthy Farm

Waterfalls in Dartmoor

Beautiful Venford Falls

Legends Of Dartmoor

Humans have been living on Dartmoor for at least 12,000 years, so there is a ton of history here. Which means there are plenty of legends and myths too. Here are some of my favorite…

Spectral Hounds: Roaming the misty mires and barren hills of Dartmoor at night, abnormally large and ghostly black dogs patrol the region, and you don’t want to be around to meet them…

Pixies: Small mythical creatures with pointed ears who live in caves, around stone circles, and cause mischief. Similar to fairies and sprites, but a different race.

Headless Horseman: Multiple tales of a headless horseman riding fast over narrow lanes after dark, sometimes accompanied by a pack of spectral hounds.

The Devil’s Visit: Back in 1638, the Devil visited St. Pancras Church in the village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Lightning struck its tower, killing 4 people inside during Sunday mass.

Vauxhall Apple Car Play

Apple Car Play is Great for Road Trips!

Vauxhall Destination Download

Destination Download with OnStar

The Vauxhall Mokka X

Traveling from London out to the wilds of Dartmoor, the Vauxhall Mokka X was a perfect road trip companion during my drive. It’s full of features that make long road trips through unfamiliar territory an absolute pleasure.

Apple Car Play

The ability to connect the car’s touchscreen to my phone, and control my apps is super handy. I listened to my Spotify playlists, loaded previously saved navigation routes, and could make calls with ease. You can even access the power of Siri by pressing a button on your steering wheel!

Destination Download

With OnStar activated in the Mokka X, you can press the OnStar button to call an operator and ask for directions, which will then be uploaded into your car’s navigation system automatically. So nice! It’s like having a personal assistant for your drive.

4×4 All Wheel Drive

The compact size of the Mokka X makes it great for city driving, but with good clearance and 4×4 electronic all wheel drive capability, you can easily navigate winter roads, steep rocky inclines, or muddy off-road tracks in the countryside when you need more traction.

Remote Unlock

Vauxhall has it’s own smartphone app, called My Vauxhall, which gives you all kinds of power over your Mokka X. For example, you can lock or unlock the vehicle from further away then your key fob allows, check tire pressure or fuel level, plus much more.

Haytor Rocks in Dartmoor

Haytor Rocks

Climbing in Dartmoor

Climbing the Granite at Haytor

Hiking Around Haytor

Dartmoor National Park is covered in “tors”, exposed granite rock outcrops sitting on the summit of hills in the region. There are hundreds of these, some of them are pretty impressive.

Many can be climbed, either by scrambling, or rock proper climbing with ropes. One of the most famous is called Haytor.

Hill walking through the moors is a popular activity in Dartmoor, and you can find short or long-distance trails all over the place.

Many take you from tor to tor, passing by old farms, ancient stone circles, or ruined Bronze-age villages along the way.

Mokka X Off Road

Exploring Off-Road with the Mokka X

Sheep in Dartmoor

So Many Sheep!

Dartmoor Ponies

Dartmoor has its own special breed of horses, called the Dartmoor Pony. These hardy ponies have been living on the moor for millennia — there’s evidence of them from 3,500 years ago.

They reminded me a lot of Icelandic ponies, with thick fur, long manes, and short powerful bodies. The harsh winter weather on Dartmoor can be similar to Iceland too.

While the Dartmoor ponies are collectively owned by locals, they roam free throughout the national park, and are not handled by humans. So be careful if you approach, there’s the possibility of getting bitten or kicked.

Yes these ponies are super cute, but they are still wild!

Dartmoor Pony Group

Herd of Dartmoor Ponies

Driving Dartmoor National Park

Driving Dartmoor National Park

Tips For Visiting Dartmoor

There are a handful of villages within the park with decent accommodation like Postbridge and Two Bridges. I spent 3 nights at the Two Bridges Hotel, a wonderful old building on the side of a river. They have an excellent restaurant too.

Some people decide to stay outside the park in the towns of Tavistock or Bovey Tracey. Summer is the most popular time to visit, but I had a great time enjoying the fall colors of early November.

You can embark on all kinds of different outdoor activities in Dartmoor — hiking tors, horseback riding, cycling, rock climbing, even whitewater kayaking is popular here. Wild camping is allowed in certain areas of the park, you can find a map here.

Driving to Dartmoor from London was a fun little weekend road trip getaway. It was nice to discover a slice of rural life in the United Kingdom that I hadn’t experienced before. ★

Tips for traveling to Dartmoor National Park
Tips for traveling to Dartmoor National Park

Watch Video: Dartmoor National Park

(Click to watch Driving Dartmoor – United Kingdom on YouTube)

READ NEXT: Should You Go To School Or Travel?

Have any questions about Dartmoor? Do you think the ponies are cute? Drop me a message in the comments below!