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January 2010

January 29, 2010

Extreme Job: Meet the Man Who Gets Paid to Dodge Rhinos

Lisa C.

What's twice as tall as Niagara Falls, several times as long, and one of the seven natural wonders of the world? The Victoria Falls, which spans both Zambia and Zimbabwe. But the famous waterfall is not the only thing these two African countries have in common. They both share the honor of being Africa's extreme-sports capital. Their borders are smack dab in the middle of the bridge where most of the really extreme activities like bungee jumping and gorge swinging take place.

But if you think that is extreme, meet someone who willingly goes into the jungle on foot to give visitors a walking tour of the area and its inhabitants. Chiinga Siavwapa lives in the former capital of Zambia and is a licensed safari guide and Falls expert. Here's some questions I put to him:

So I take it that you've tried a few of the extreme activities?: I've done the gorge swing, a couple of boat cruises, and obviously the walking safari, which some people call extreme.

Why is it extreme?: I've had an elephant come after us, a rhino charge, and you have to know how to react. It's always best to back away slowly because a running target is more interesting. I've been trained in animal behavior and it helps that the park provides you with a guard who is authorized to carry a gun.

Continue reading "Extreme Job: Meet the Man Who Gets Paid to Dodge Rhinos" »

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Related Topics: Africa Travel · Outdoor Adventures

January 28, 2010

Top Five Family Vacations, From a 12-Year-Old Perspective

NZ_Arthur's Pass sheep herd_Simon Russell-Photodisc-Getty-83298051
HERD CROSSING: Bring your brood to Arthur's Pass, New Zealand, where sheep have the right-of-way (Simon Russell/Getty)

As the founder of an adventure-travel company, I often have the chance to speak with our guests about their travels. One question I hear a lot is, "How do I know if my kids are ready for a trip to Europe?" (or Costa Rica, or New Zealand, or Peru...)

A recent conversation I had with my oldest son illustrates why I think it's never too soon to introduce kids to the big, wide world.

Jack, now 12, has been traveling abroad with us since he was an infant. (In his first passport photo, aged 11 months, he's wearing a Winnie the Pooh sleeper.) On a recent river-rafting trip, I seized just the right father-son moment to ask him which trips he remembers most fondly and why. With little or no prompting, he offered me the short list of his all-time top five.

5. New Zealand's South Island
While you won't spot any hobbits from the Lord of the Rings movies that were shot here, the whole family will find plenty of miraculous discoveries. Walk on amazing beaches, swim with the world's smallest dolphins, and explore a parrot-filled jungle with its own glacier. At a high-country sheep station, you can spend the day checking on baby lambs and watching the sheepdogs do their work. There's even jet-boat rides on the Dart River. Adults can enjoy sipping their way through award-winning wineries as well as some of the most scenic walks on Earth. New Zealand is a friendly country that captures the imaginations of all ages.

Continue reading "Top Five Family Vacations, From a 12-Year-Old Perspective" »

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Related Topics: Africa Travel · Central America Travel · Exotic Escapes · Family Vacation · Outdoor Adventures · South America Travel · Trip Ideas

January 27, 2010

News Alert: Heavy Rains and Mudslides Hit Inca Trail

By awayblog

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Heavy rains and mudslides around Machu Picchu have knocked out thousands of homes and stranded hundreds of tourists. is reporting that up to seven people have died, while the U.S. State Department posted an alert yesterday that landslides throughout the Sacred Valley have blocked routes in and out of Cusco. The Peruvian government is coordinating a rescue effort to airlift stranded locals and tourists.

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Related Topics: South America Travel · Travel News · Travel Videos

Got Soul? Vail Does!

May Lilley by Gerry Wingenbach (2)
PRETTY AS CAN BE: Australian skier May Lilley (Gerry Wingenbach)

The personal-trainer-toned bodies, postage-stamp-size skirts, and persuasive enthusiasm of Hollywood hit the streets of Park City, Utah, last Thursday with the opening of the Sundance Film Festival. I did what I always do. I left town. It's just not real.

You want real? Come with me to Vail. By nightfall we're at Vendetta's, the local's hangout in the heart of this storybook village. We're at a jam-packed table with several hardcore Canadian riders and a transplanted Australian woman named May, who is as pretty a skier as you could ever hope to see. Outside Vendetta's, it looks like a pillow fight. The snow is falling in perfect blankets. Watching movies is not the favorite sport in this town.

Vail may not have a century-and-a-half-old main street or rectangles of extraordinary Victorian-era architecture like Breckenridge, but don't ever think this place doesn't have soul.

Continue reading "Got Soul? Vail Does!" »

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Related Topics: Skiing & Snowboarding

January 26, 2010

Ways to See the World: Become an Au Pair

By Guest Blogger

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Caitlin Au Pair AMERICAN IN THE ALPS: Between skiing the Alps and traveling on the weekends, Caitlin works as an au pair (Caitlin Byrnes)

Sitting in the Swiss Alps after a day of powder-fresh skiing, it's hard to believe a month ago I was strapped for cash and applying for jobs I had no desire to hold. It wasn't a hard change of course, and a month into it, I'm glad I went for the opportunity. Here I am in a beautiful Swiss town.

No, I'm not trying to sell you a timeshare or steal your money in the newest Internet Ponzi scheme. I'm a twenty-something college grad who ditched the corporate world of clock punching and water-cooler talking to travel the world as an au pair, and this is my story.

Continue reading "Ways to See the World: Become an Au Pair" »

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Related Topics: Dispatches from the Road

Five Great Reasons to Visit Panama

By Guest Blogger

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Panama Beach (Barefoot Panama) STRAND US HERE: The crystal-clear waters of Panama (Barefoot Panama)

1) Accessibility
Panama is a crossroads between the Americas and is served by major airlines with direct flights from countries including the United States, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom. It is only two and a half hours from Miami and four from Houston. An increasing number of flights to Panama mean they're getting less expensive, too. Most people don't need a visa, just a $5 tourist card that you can buy at the airport for single-entry tourist visits (note U.S. citizens now require a passport valid for up to 90 days). You can also travel by bus to Panama from Costa Rica and fly or take a boat from Colombia. With Spain, France, the U.S., and many other countries influencing the history of this country, you will find a lot of people speak more than one language. The currency is the U.S. dollar, officially known as the balboa though locals also colloquially use the term dólar.

Continue reading "Five Great Reasons to Visit Panama" »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Central America Travel

January 25, 2010

Haiti Update: Tents Urgently Needed

By awayblog

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Globe-photodisc As the aid in Haiti moves from a rescue to a relief and reconstruction effort following the 7.0-magnitude earthquake on January 12, reports indicate that there is an urgent need for temporary shelters for the displaced survivors streaming out of Port-au-Prince. According to the International Organization for Migration, it currently has 10,000 family-sized tents on the ground but "estimated needs stand at 100,000 to assist 500,000 persons". Other aid organizations assisting the relief response with shipments of tents and other temporary housing supplies include UNICEF, Plan USA, and the Salvation Army. Please consider donating to these and other aid organizations.

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Related Topics: News · Travel News

January 21, 2010

LIVE NOW!: Real-Time Ski Q&A for Expert Advice

By awayblog

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Skiing-keystone-colorado HIGH & DRY: Keystone Resort, Colorado (courtesy, Colorado Ski Country)

Click over to's Facebook Fan Page this morning to join editor Pieter van Noordennen for a live ski chat from 6 a.m. to noon. Have questions about where to ski this year, the best slopes to match your skill level, the latest and best ski deals, and more? Submit your questions on the Orbitz Facebook profile and receive unfiltered, unbiased advice from our trail-tested, snow-encrusted expert. Pieter is a former senior editor at Skiing magazine and has written ski-travel stories for National Geographic Adventure, Outside, Men’s Journal, and many other magazines, newspapers, and websites in the U.S. and abroad. He learned to ski in the East but has lived in Breckenridge, Boulder, and Santa Fe, plus has logged over 30 ski days a year for five years running.

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Related Topics: Skiing & Snowboarding · Travel Tips

January 19, 2010

The Best of Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Steamboat_Springs-Gerry_Wigenbach COWBOY TOWN: Mountain view of Steamboat Springs, Colorado (Gerry Wingenbach)

I finally went back to Steamboat Springs and the extraordinary ski mountain that towers on the edge of town. It had been too long.

I drove the 300 miles from Park City, all of it on two-lane Highway 40, winding west through a sparsely populated Utah, skirting Dinosaur National Monument, and rolling into northwest Colorado's cattle country. My dog, who's always with me on the deeper journeys, was heads up in the co-pilot's seat. Smoke curled over snow-dusted hillsides from the chimneys of ranch houses. A power line sagged under the weight of a hefty bald eagle. Call it Colorado Gothic.

Crimson-colored strokes of early evening smeared the sky above the Yampa Valley when we rolled into Steamboat Springs. The world looked as if it was burning up beyond the horizon and I was reminded that the best thing about skiing in America is the country itself—America the beautiful.

Several years ago, I spent an entertaining evening with some local ranchers at a roadside bar and grill. Passing by, I decided to stop there again... the clientele had all changed. The place was hopping with Texans, New Yorkers, and Californians. A couple of local ranchers sat at a corner table drinking Coors, so I asked if I could join them. One of the ranchers had just sold his place. But he wasn't happy.

Continue reading "The Best of Steamboat Springs, Colorado" »

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Related Topics: Skiing & Snowboarding

January 15, 2010

Top Ten Sea Views To Dine For

By awayblog

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Muisbosskerm-south-africa View from terrace at Muisbosskerm on South Africa's Western Cape (Charlotte Turner)

Blissful vistas, the crash of waves on the shore, and fresh, salty air to whet the appetite make these oceanside eateries a treat for all the senses.

10) Muisbosskerm, Western Cape, South Africa
9) Café del Mar, San Antonio, Ibiza, Spain
8) Reial Club Marótim, Barcelona, Spain
7) Club 55, St.-Tropez, France
6) Unawatuna, near Galle, Sri Lanka
5) Apsley Gorge Vineyard Café, Bicheno, Tasmania, Australia
4) The Baths, Sorrento, Victoria, Australia
3) Nepenthe, Big Sur, California
2) Boathouse, Breach Inlet, Isle of Palms, South Carolina
1) Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino, B.C., Canada

For more mouthwatering culinary travel ideas like the one above, check out our series of exclusive excerpts from National Geographic's new book, Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe.

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Related Topics: Food and Drink · Top 10 Lists

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