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Discover natural wonders found nowhere else in the world with a Galapagos Island cruise

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Galapagos Island cruise

If the Galapagos Islands are not on your bucket list yet, then they should be. This unique and beautiful place is home to amazing creatures and scenery you will not find anywhere else on the planet.

And there is really only one way to truly experience the wonder of it all – from the sea. Only that way can you discover all there is to fall in love with.

Experience a real island paradise

Situated around 620 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, this magnificent archipelago of 19 islands, and many more small islets, is also known as the Enchanted Islands. And for good reason.

Each island is unique and beautiful in it’s own way, whether it has stunning white sandy beaches or dark, forbidding and barren volcanic rocks. Add this to the sapphire blue waters surrounding them, and the abundance of wildlife, and this is something that every visitor will remember for the rest of their lives.

There is nothing else like it, and Galapagos island cruises are just the thing to see it all in it’s full glory, where travellers can enjoy the majesty, the sounds of nature and experience the intimacy of such a special location, with a specialist guide and every need catered for.

It is best to travel at night, making the most of the epic night sky as you have never seen it before, and using the day time to explore the different islands and what they have to offer.

Get up close and personal with nature

The Galapagos Islands themselves, and the surrounded marine reserve, are a perfect melting pot of marine species. Ideally located at the confluence of three ocean currents, with islands created through ongoing volcanic activity, it has allowed flora and fauna to develop in such a way that is simply unique to this area.

It has been called a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’ due to the species thriving there. So much so, that when Charles Darwin arrived on his ship The Beagle, the things he saw later led to his development of the theory of evolution.

Add all of this to the extreme isolation of the islands, and a lack of natural predators, the wildlife has little fear of inquisitive visitors and are just as likely to observe you as you are them.

Playful sea lions and gigantic and majestic sea tortoises allow humans to get up close is a way you will not find anywhere else. If you have not booked your visit yet, what are you waiting for, a Galapagos cruises last minute trip is one you will never regret.

Check out each island and it’s amazing uniqueness

Each island has its own features and persona.  Take for example Santa Cruz island, which hosts the largest city, Ayora. Here you can visit the Darwin centre and see where the turtles and iguanas come to breed.

Then there is Isabela island – the largest in the archipelago. Formed from five volcanoes, and still active, reaching as high as 1,700 feet, this island is a landscape  of petrified lava, and home to flocks of flamingos and giant tortoises.

Fernandina island is also an active volcano, but you are able to set foot on the island at Punta Espinosa to see many thousands of marine black iguanas warming themselves on the rocks in the sunshine, and red crabs moving about the rock.

Then on the islands with beaches, such as Rabida Island, you get the rare chance to see sea lions in their own habitat, playing with their young, and relaxing.

And this is only a tiny fraction of the things you can see in this beautiful place. Description does not do it justice, it has to be seen and felt to truly appreciate this inspirational location.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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Travel

Visiting Peru: all you need to know before traveling to this beautiful country

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Peru things to know

Peru is one of the most popular trips in South America, where you will find the Inca ruins, the historic cities, the wild nature of the Amazon, incredible landscapes of valleys, deserts and beaches, along with one of the best cuisines in the world, with the ceviche as a star dish, which make this trip exceed all your expectations.

What to see in Peru?

There are many interesting and beautiful places to visit in Peru such as Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, Arequipas or Valle de Colca.  The impressive Andes mountains are cut by footpaths left by ancient civilizations shape dramatic landscapes that can only be explored on foot. This is why Peru is a dream destination for trekking through its staggering arrray of trails winding through Inca ruins and lost cities.

Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is the country’s most recognized trail. In just 26 miles it manages to combine beautiful mountain scenery, lush cloud-forest, subtropical jungle and, of course, a stunning mix of Inca paving stones, ruins and tunnels. The final destination of the trail just cannot be beaten: Machu Picchu, the mysterious “Lost City of the Incas”. You can make this inca trail in 4 days or in 2 days.

Salkatany trail

Salkantay trek is a high altitude 46 mile in Cusco region considered to be a less touristy alternative to the famous Inca Trail. It takes you through some incredible nature areas of the Andes with breathtaking scenery and amazing wild life. Salkatany trekking includes a visit to Inca sites: Llacpata, Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes.

Required documents

Depending on the country of origin, more or less documents are requested to enter Peru, and some ports of entry, including land borders, require you to fill out an Andean Migration Card.

Passport

To enter Peru, it is an essential requirement to present a valid passport. Make sure your passport has been stamped on arrival, or you may not be able to enter Peru again. Foreigners must always carry photo identification with them while in Peru. A passport photocopy is acceptable.

Visa

Most of the countries of America –including the US- and Western Europe do not require a tourist visa to enter Peru. Tourists can stay for 183 non-extendable days. For longer business, study or work stays it is necessary to previously request the corresponding visa to the Peruvian consulates.

Currency

The “Nuevo Sol” is the official currency of Peru. U.S. dollars are widely accepted in Peru, but you will always get a better rate paying in soles than in dollars, and soles may be necessary for low-cost purchases. Credit cards are accepted in most of the cities in the country, and bank machines are plentiful there. When visiting other parts of the country, be sure to carry enough cash. Most prices are negotiable in Peru. Learn the going rate and negotiate fairly: Americans have a reputation abroad for overtipping and overpaying.

Health advice

The sanitary conditions in Peru are good, especially in the cities. In recent years, the supply of health services has been modernized and increased, both hospitals and clinics provide adequate care, but it is always advisable to have health insurance for your trip.

Vaccines

There are no mandatory vaccines for entering Peru, although routine vaccinations are wise for Peru, including vaccines for Hepatitis A and B, flu, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and polio. If you wish to visit the Amazon region of the country, the Ministry of Health recommends vaccination against yellow fever – at least 10 days before the trip to be effective.

Watch out the sun, the altitude and the weather

Visitors to Peru need to take precautions with the altitude. Walk slowly, keep very well hydrated, get as much sleep as possible, and eat lightly to minimize negative effects. Oxygen is available free of charge at most hotels to help. Drinking coca tea and, especially, chewing fresh coca leaves can help deal with the effects of altitude. Also, UV rays are very strong above sea level, so wear sunscreen and a hat, even if the day is cloudy

The best season to visit the country is between September and December. In Peru it is usually very cold in the morning and then very hot at noon. Try to wear many layers of clothing so that you can take off as you need. And carry a backpack to carry the jacket, the scarf just in case.

Safety tips

Standard precautions apply for most of these destinations, including the need to be wary of pickpockets in crowded tourist. There are some neighborhoods in Lima that are best not visited by tourists, especially at night areas –check the Peruvian Government Website for further advice… When traveling to and from the airport, it’s wise to keep valuables out of sight, for example, underneath your legs instead of on an empty seat.

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A Historical exploration of Khajuraho

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khajuraho temple

The UNESCO world heritage temples of Khajuraho are situated in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh. Built by the kings of Chandela dynasty during 950 to 1050 AD, these exquisite temples were lost to the world from 13AD onwards till they were discovered by the British in 1838 under the cover of dense date palm trees.

 This collection of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples are Khajuraho temples are famous for art on stone. Variously described as living temples, Temple of Love and consisting of unique erotic sculptures the Khajuraho group of temples are considered by many to be the pinnacle of India’s temple art. The temple complex creates an eclectic mix of spirituality, eastern philosophy, architecture and cultural heritage.

Khajuraho is best visited during winter on account of its extreme climate. Summer months can be very hot. The famous Khajuraho Dance Festival is held in March and attracts visitors from across the world.

 Khajuraho is well connected to major cities by train and by air. The airport is 5km from the city centre and links to Delhi, Agra and Mumbai. It is best recommended to use a trusted cab service provider like Savaari, where you can make an online booking by downloading the Savaari App.

Western Group of temples.

 The Western group of temples have the largest of the temples and are richly decorated and form the main area of attraction

  • Lakshmana Temple – The temple dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva is the oldest of the Khajuraho temples and has some the finest sculptures that can be seen in India.
  • Kandariya Mahadeo Temple – This Shiva temple is covered with beautiful carvings, sculptures and frescos that are known for their beauty, grandeur and finesse.
  • Devi Jagdamba Temple – This relatively dainty temple dedicated to Goddess Jagadamba has three bands of sculptures and the uppermost layer has some of the most erotic sculptures that Khajuraho is also famous for.
  • Chitragupta Temple – One of the rare temples of the Sun God in the country.
  • Vishwanath Temple – The temple is unique for its colossal bull statue dedicated to Nandi, the favourite companion of Lord Shiva.

Eastern Group of Temples

  • Parsvanath Temple – The Jain temple shows an eclectic mixture of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim influences in its three roof architecture.
  • Ghantai Temple – This Digambar Jain temple has a beautiful frieze inscribed on stone depicting the 16 dreams as seen by the Mother of Lord Mahavira. The temple though gets its name from the remarkable pillars, carved with chains and bells.
  • Brahma Temple – Among the oldest temples in Khajuraho, the temple is built entirely using granite and sandstone and dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

 Southern Group of Temples

  • Chattarbhuj Temple – Situated 3 km from the main city, the temple is the only one in Khajuraho without any erotic sculpture and faces west. Best visited during the sunset, the temple is known for the intricate and beautifully detailed four-armed idol of Lord Vishnu.

Do remember to attend the Light and Sound Show conducted in the Western group of temples that describes the horary past of these beautiful monuments.

Khajuraho is surrounded by other places of interest, such as the Panna National Park and the Ranneh Falls. Do plan your visit and hire outstation or local cabs from the airport to visit these temple complexes.

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Smart Traveling: Managing Your Money on the Go

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budget travel grand canyon

A partial landscape view of the Grand Canyon during sunrise. Picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

Smart travelers are people who are clever when it comes to managing their money, even when they’re on the go. They are people that are able to budget and save, even when faced with all the worldly temptations that they come across while on their travels. Plus, they are people who are able to stretch their spending across the whole duration of their time away from home, no matter how long that may be. 

Ask yourself this; are you smart with your finances when you’re traveling? If you don’t think that you are, then make sure to check out the helpful advice on the matter of being a smart traveler below. 

Keep tabs on your bank account

When you travel, you escape the pressures of your life back home. You escape the pressures of working and studying, as well as those surrounding the balancing of your professional and personal life. When you travel, it’s just you, whoever you may be traveling with and the open road before you.

It’s okay to escape the pressures of your life, but it’s not okay to escape the particular pressure that is your bank account. No matter how far you go, you need to regularly check your bank so that you can keep tabs on how healthy it is looking. How can you be sure that you weren’t being charged double the amount you should have been for drinks on that night out you had? The only way to be sure is to log onto your internet banking portal on a safe, secure device and network to check your account as soon as you can. Or, you can sign up to text alerts that will bring the information you require regarding your spending to you, rather than you having to go to it. Such alerts will warn you when suspicious spending has taken place, too, so they’re well worth signing up for. 

Keep up with your bills back home

Again, you may be escaping certain pressures back home when you head off on your travels, but there are just some that you can’t run away from. One such pressure may be the need for you to pay bills.

Having a life set up back home is going to mean that you are going to need to keep up with all of your important monthly payments. Be it payments on your home, on your car or even on something as simple as your phone; you need to make sure that they are going out of your bank each month. You need to make sure they are going out if you don’t want to miss a due date, trigger fees and then ultimately hurt your credit score. To keep up with your outgoings, you need to embrace continuous payment authority, otherwise known as autopay. As suggested in its name, autopay automates regular payments, meaning you don’t need to take time out of your travels to send the money you owe over to whoever is seeking to collect it.

Traveling is an expensive game, there’s no denying that. If you want to be stretching your adventure as far as it can go, then you need to be finding ways to cut into the amounts that you spend while you’re on the go. To do this, you’re going to have to seek financial rewards whenever and wherever you can.

First, this means finding yourself a reward credit card, the best of which can be found at Bonsai Finance, as this will gift you the chance to spend more money at any one given time. The Chase Sapphire card, especially, is one that you should be looking at as it works alongside travel partners, such as big airline and hotel companies, to provide money back on required traveling expenses. Second, you should be seeking to make as much use as you can out of airline miles, otherwise known as frequent flyer miles. When you do, you accumulate a free-spending fund with every mile you travel, meaning you could end up getting yourself a free plane ticket after traveling a certain distance.

The best way to manage your money, whether you’re on your travels or not, is to set budgets for yourself. Budgets that you not only set but, for the most part, adhere to. By doing so, you stop yourself from spending all those little, seemingly innocuous amounts of money, and by doing that you save yourself a boatload in the long run.

When it comes to budgeting throughout your traveling experience, you should first find ways to save on all the things that are necessary for you to maintain a good standard of living. For instance, this should mean you not only make full use of the free breakfast being offered at your hostel by heading down to it but by stocking up for your day while you’re there. If your hostel offers you the chance to make sandwiches, don’t be afraid to make extra for your day ahead! Doing so will see you get the nutrition you need to travel to the best of your ability, without having to spend big on having meals out.

Something else that you should do is load up on entertaining material before you are suckered into buying magazines at the airport. By bringing your own entertainment, which could mean packing your laptop with movies or bringing a device full of reading material, you stop yourself from having to spend money on things that will, sooner rather than later, have you wondering where all of your money has gone.

You should never let fears about your finances stop you from traveling. If you want to head out and the see the world, give in to your desire to itch your wanderlust scratch and do it! When you do do it, just don’t get silly with your finances. Make sure you are keeping up with your bank and your payments, make sure you are finding financial rewards wherever you can and make sure you are always budgeting.

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