Canada is a truly spectacular country and easily one of my favourites! There’s so much to see and do there it’s impossible to pack it all in on one trip – that’s why I love going back. I’m excited to see what new things I discover when I head back to Ontario in August.
One thing that Canada is famous for is its wildlife, if you’re a keen photographer then you should book your flight here right away. Having been fortunate enough to photograph the wildlife in Canada myself I can testify that it’s an amazing experience.
There are around 200 kinds or mammals, over 400 bird species and a variety of oceanic life – it’s not difficult to see why Canada is known as a paradise for animal lovers. Being the second largest country on the planet you will have a lot of ground to cover in order to see all of the wildlife. So we’ve put together a list of our favourite animals that you should try to get a glimpse of.
Don’t get too close to these guys! The male adults weigh in at about 790 pounds on average and with claws of 200 inches long they don’t have to worry about other animals. There are around 25,000 grizzly bears in Canada, so if you take a decent tour in the right area you’ve got a good chance of seeing them.
You might have heard cougars being described on wildlife programmes as mountain lions or pumas. Their range goes from the Canadian Yukon as far as the Southern Andes in South America. Cougars are ambush predators so can be a little tricky to spot, so expect to take your time and make sure you’re patient – it’s worth the wait!
How could we talk about wildlife in Canada and not mention the Moose? If you want to get a glimpse of the moose then you better get over to Canada soon, that’s because the population of Moose in North America is unfortunately declining at a rapid rate. One of the best places to see these large beautiful animals is in Algonquin Park in Ontario – even there it can be tough because there are 3,000 Moose living in over 3,000sqm of parkland.
Have you been to Canada before to see the wildlife? I would love to hear all about your experiences there and what animals you were lucky enough to see. Just pop everything you’d like to share in the comment section below.
Home to 1.3 billion people, India is one of the oldest civilisations in the world. It houses every major world religion and the diversity of food, culture, language, dress and landscape is astounding. There are more than twenty languages spoken in India with English being the bridging language, so no need to worry about a translator.
From the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, from the modern metropolis to the world’s oldest inhabited cities, planning a trip to India can be daunting. Accept that you can’t see it all in a single trip, and then decide where you would most like to go.
With such a large population it is little wonder that the noise and crowds can be totally overwhelming for first time travellers to India. The over populated cities teem with people, cars, rickshaws, cattle and other domestic beasts, so a well planned trip to India should include some time along the coast, at a tiger reserve or in the mountains. There are plenty of internal flights in India and they are inexpensive so getting from place to place is not a problem.
As usual Agness and Cez of eTramping are here to offer you travel advice. A visit to the Golden Triangle, which includes the cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, followed by a trip to Kerala on the coast of India will afford you a balanced view of India, its cultures and landscapes.
The Golden Triangle
Delhi is truly a city of contrasts. New Delhi was planned by British architects in the 1920’s and became the capital of Indian in 1931. It is modern and well planned. Take a rickshaw across to Old Delhi, the walled portion built in 1639, and you are plunged into the charm of Indian architecture, food and culture.
Experience vibrant colours and the hustle and bustle of Indian city streets. Bargain hunt in the over crowded alleyways. Almost anything is on sale in these narrow streets encased in stalls. Make sure to bargain as the prices on offer are around twice what the vendor expects you to pay. If you fail to bargain it will raise an eyebrow, but that won’t stop the vendor from relieving you of your money. As tempting as it may be, you should not purchase food unless you are satisfied that it has been properly cooked. Many tourists have had their holidays spoilt by dodgy food. Tap water is also not safe in India.
The Sikh shrine of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is well worth a visit. Built in 1783 this beautiful white marble building with golden spires is fronted by an enormous pool of water. Visitors are expected to cover their hair and to leave their shoes outside. Information on protocol is available outside the shrine.
Visit Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. Finished in 1656, this magnificent building is built from red sandstone. It can accommodate 25000 people in its courtyard. Include the Red Fort on your itinerary as it is just opposite the Jama Masjid. It served as the main home of the emperors for over two centuries and now houses a war museum.
From Delhi take a day-trip to Agra, which though not a terribly exciting city, does house the legendary Taj Mahal. Costing the equivalent of $827, this mausoleum was commissioned in 1632 to house the remains of the favourite wife of the Shah. The latticework, calligraphy, inlays and carved marble, adorning both the interior and exterior of this magnificent building have drawn millions of visitors over the centuries.
Hire a car and a driver. They’re cheap in India, and take a drive to Jaipur. Known as the Pink City, Jaipur boasts a mix of historical forts, palaces and modern shopping and commercial areas. Walls surround the old city, and visitors may enter through one of eight gates.
The Palace of the Winds is central to the city and is well worth a visit. This five-story structure was built to allow the occupants of the harem to see the streets outside, but remain unseen themselves.
Take two or three hours to visit the City Palace in the centre of the old city. It is ornately decorated and houses museum pieces, miniature art, old weapons and magnificent carpets.
The Jaigarh Fort once housed the Royal treasures, and is now one of the star attractions in Jaipur. Its walls and watchtowers overlook the city from a nearby mountain peak. It houses the largest moving canon in Asia.
On the southern tip of India, Kerala offers a completely different holiday experience. Surrounded by tea plantations, mountains and the sea, even the culture differs. It is more diverse than any other area in India. Once on the ancient spice trade route, there is plenty of evidence of Dutch, Portuguese, British and Chinese influence in the architecture and historical buildings, which include churches and a Jewish sector.
You can fly to Cochin. It has an airport.
Hire a houseboat or take a day trip, and view the tranquil tropical banks of the river, and see the daily life of Indians living in the rural areas. Some of the waterside businesses offer free sunset ferry trips.
Visit Kerala Kathakali Centre to see a daily performance of the traditional dance drama of this region. Elaborate costumes and make-up turn this an experience to remember.
Kochi was the last place visited by Vasco da Gama. He died there in 1524 and his remains were buried in the churchyard of the oldest church in India. The ancient St Frances Church is well worth a visit.
Throw a Chinese net. The fishermen will assist you in lowering and lifting these five hundred year old nets for a tip.
Once is not Enough
One trip to India is never enough. There is just so much to see – some more suggestions. The rich culture and history will draw you back. There are however some downsides. Be warned never to drink water from the taps in India and be careful where you buy food as many a visitor has end up with tummy problems. You may want to consider going vegetarian, as much of the population of India is vegetarian so there is an abundance of vegetarian food to choose from. Avoid eating salads and don’t use their ice. India has a reputation for cheating and scamming so be vigilant. Dress modestly and enjoy the ride.
In 1899 Mark Twain described India as
“the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendour and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a thousand nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history”.
Not much has changed.
Ever since I set out on the road, I have been slowly but surely trying to tick items off my bucket list. So far I have competed around 70% of the original list, but have probably added the same amount of experiences onto said list as I have completed. One of the big ticks that I was looking for was to see Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights and last year I was fortunate enough to do just that. I always had in mind that I’d go to Norway or northern Scotland to see the lights but I decided to change course at the last minute and go to Greenland with Oceanwide Expeditions. This turned out to be a great move as the cruise that I took was spectacular, and so too was Greenland. If you haven’t been yet, here are just 5 reasons why Greenland should be on your list of places to visit.
I have long been fascinated by the Inuit culture and the way in which they live, and survive, in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. During your trip to Greenland you can meet and learn about this tribe if you visit Thule. Not only is this one of the most northern places on the planet, during your time here you can learn about the traditions of the Inuit tribe and how they keep them alive in the modern world.
My main reason for visiting Greenland was, as aforementioned, the incredible natural spectacle that is Aurora Borealis. The reason why I chose Greenland to see them is because you can get a crystal clear view of this phenomenon, 300 nights of the year. I didn’t want to face the disappointment of visiting a country and missing the lights, or only seeing a small light show. Throughout Greenland you can see the full show, in clear conditions, for the large part of the year.
Much like the Scandinavian countries which it is close to, Greenland also has some beautiful Fjords to discover, and Tasermiut is really the pick of the bunch. They call this place the big wall playground thanks to its vast array of sheer rock faces which sees climbers from all over the world come to scale the cliffs. Here you will also find kayaking trips and trekking routes, as well as some natural, thermal hot springs to warm you up in the cold conditions.
Classed as one of the world’s natural Wonders, this UNESCO World Heritage site is the place where you can see one of the fastest moving and most active glaciers on the planet. Set in west Greenland, you can join a trek that will take you right to the edge of the glacier where you can see this incredible feat of nature in action.
In order to see the very best of what Greenland has to offer, you need to jump in a kayak and glide across the clear waters as you explore. The kayak has been used by the people of Greenland for thousands of years and it has become an iconic symbol to the people and the country itself. There is a huge range of locations where you can kayak and get up close and personal with sea creatures and birds, sharp and intriguing glaciers and paddle around the rugged coastline on routes which have been used for generations.
I can’t recommend Greenland enough, and I feel like the cruise was definitely the best place to capture as much of this country as possible.
Group traveling has become somewhat popular around the world and even featured in many movies and books. Some companies offer group travel packages and discounts, so you may still go with your spouse or someone you know and join a group of strangers, or you might go entirely on your own.
You may opt to go with a group travel company that plans everything for you, from booking your domestic flight offers to giving you a detailed itinerary, or you might go with a less organized group travel experience that gives you more freedom.
It can be an exciting prospect, but it can also create a sense of nervousness for a lot of travelers.
The following are some things to know about group travel if it’s something you’re considering.
Do Thorough Research
The best thing you can do to ensure that you really enjoy your group travel experience is to do your research ahead of time. You want to see what the travel company operating the trip focuses on, how their groups usually come together, the role guides play in the whole experience and anything else you can find.
Not every group travel experience is going to be right for every person.
If there’s anything you’re unsure about after doing online research, call the company. They’ll be able to tell you what they specialize in, and who usually travels with them.
Don’t forget to see what other travelers are saying about the company or the tour on social media.
Be Okay with Guidelines
If you’re someone who hates being told what to do, you’re probably not going to love a group travel experience. In order to make these tours valuable and safe for the group, there will be rules and guidelines you’re expected to follow.
Some people enjoy this because they feel like it allows them to get the most from their trip, but if you think it could be a problem for you, you might want to rethink the group concept.
You’re also going to have to give up some level of control, even on a trip where there’s a lot of freedom and flexibility.
Connect with People In Smaller Groups
A lot of times people will take group trips because they want to meet new and interesting people, but that’s tough to do in a large group.
When you’re traveling try to focus on getting together with small groups of people. For example, maybe you’ll have time for a lunch together or a certain event when you have some downtime. This is the best way to really get to know people that are traveling with you.
Finally, just because you’re on a group trip doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take some time alone. You can find opportunities along the way to slip away from the group and recharge because it can be tough to make conversation with strangers all day. Don’t feel like people are going to be upset if you want alone time because they’re likely doing the same thing.