The Cuba Experience

It has been said a million times: “go to Cuba now, while it is still authentic”. And people will probably say it a million times more. Before the Americans flood this paradise, with their all-inclusive resorts and McDonald’s and the Cuban culture is lost. But after spending three weeks on this island, I am convinced it will take a lot more than some Americans and hamburgers for the Cuban culture to get lost. These people are proud of their country, of their food and of their way of living. Even if they don’t own a fortune and have some struggles. So. I would like to rephrase that sentence “Go to Cuba”. Into; it will be authentic for a pretty long time if you ask me, it’s a hell of a country. And while you are there, here’s what you definitely should do to enhance that Cuba experience:

1. Turn of your phone and enjoy the ride
If you are as addicted to your smartphone as I am, this might sound a bit scary. But after a few days of digital detox, you’ll ask yourself why you have never done this before. You see, in Cuba internet and WIFI are not that common. A lot of people don’t even have an internet connection in their homes, let alone on their mobile phones. And they don’t miss or need it. Some Cubans even believe that the internet should be banned from their country since it is making people less and less social. Do as the Cubans do, let go of the feeling of always wanting to be connected to the whole world. Yes, this also means no Google maps and no Instagram. Just look around you, talk to people and feel completely lost and happy.

cuba_havana_oldtimers

2. Drink a Mojito every day, wherever you are
Relax, you’re on a holiday, a little boozing and snoozing won’t hurt. Specially not when you are in Cuba, home of the Mojito. This delicious rum cocktail is what it is all about in this country and you should try as many as possible. No Mojito is the same, whether it’s because of some secret ingredient, the vibe or the view. Not to mention that fact that this elixer of life usually is cheaper than a cola. So it’s best to take another one.

cuba_cienfuegos_mojito_punta-gorda_cocktail_travel
The Cuba experience is not complete without a Mojito!

You can get one on every street corner, but these are my favourite places:
Hotel Nacional – Havana Vedado: this famous hotel bursts with history and the drinks come with an amazing complementary view.
The little beach hut on Playa Los Cocos – Playa Giron: where the lifeguard is your bartender and the prices will have you order round after round. Centro Recreativo La Punta – Cienfuegos: in a little park, at the southern tip of Cienfuegos, a perfectly well dressed bartender will create a masterpiece for you with precision and craftsmanship. Of how I wish I was there right now. Hostal Colina – Trinidad: on the road to disco Ayala, this casa particulara offers ‘special Mojito’s’, and they sure are special. Just like the garden you will be in while drinking them.

3. Travel with a Taxi collectivo, even if it is just once
Getting around Cuba is easy if you book the Via Azul tourist busses. But it’s fun when you book a taxi collectivo! You’ll share this oldtimer ride with as many people that fit in the vehicle (and sometimes even more) and your luggage on top. This is traveling in style, Cuban style. it’s easy to arrange your taxi collectivo on the streets, many drivers offer their services. Usually it’s easy to bargain and to come to an agreement of the price. Just never pay in advance, you can settle that with the actual driver on the day of your trip.

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4. Only stay at Casa Particulara’s
Thinking about booking a hotel in Cuba? Don’t even bother (unless you have unlimited funds and are aiming for an ultimate high-end holiday). Try a casa particulara, you won’t be disappointed. these casa’s are rooms that are rented out by the Cubans. Usually they come with your own bathroom, your own rocking chair on the porch and sometimes your own entrance. And if you are lucky, with breakfast. It’s the best way to travel for a reasonable price and feeling the local vibe. Also, Casa owners have lots of friends and family in other cities, so if your traveling onwards they always know a new casa and will even arrange it for you. Easy does it!

cuba_trinidad_view_old-city

Check out:
Casa Eliza – Rafael Trejo, Vinales: spotless rooms, your own entrance and breakfast under the gazebo. Oh and it’s just on street behind the mainstreet, hello centre location!
Casa Hostal El Castillito Yaya y Monolito – Playa Giron: great food, big rooms and Yaya is like a mother to the guests.
Casa Castro & Anita – between C43 and C44, Varadero: big rooms, great location and sweet people. What more can you ask for?

5. Taking a dive
Cuba is home to some real sweet diving spots. However, the best ones are hard to reach and will eat half of your budget. But there is this one place, between two very tiny villages, where the water calls your name and you won’t loose oxygen over the price. Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) is where you need to be. There are several dive spots, suited for beginners to the more advanced Dive Masters. First timer? At Playa el Tanque you can go into the water without a boat. Just put on your tank and goggles and go! Best village to stay for this dive trip: Playa Giron. It offers not more than about 4 dusty roads, some houses and a war museum. But it has a beach, some restaurants and the divers bus to take you to the fishes. Dive and chill, my friends.

cuba_varadero_beach_ocean_travel

6. From Cienfuegos to Trinidad through the mountains

Cienfuegos, it’s a pretty town a lot of travellers skip. Which is a shame since it is the perfect city to do absolutely nothing for a day or two (and sip on those amazing Mojito’s I mentioned earlier). But beside that cocktail, there is one reason why I would urge you to go to this city, and that is the way out to Trinidad. In Cienfuegos you can book a tour at Cubanacan to travel to Trinidad through the beautiful Parque Natural Topes de Collantes, including the amazing El Nicho waterfalls. At the end you will be dropped off in Trinidad. This private tour will take you through the mountains in a jeep, with a real Cuban tourguide. He can tell you all about the surroundings as well as the (communist) culture and lots of other stories. Plus, he knows exactly when El Nicho is not flooded with tourists and you have the natural swimming pools to yourself (oh and he can take stunning pictures from you). You’ll drive past small, simple villages (which have a school and a discotheque) and taste the most amazing coffee you will ever taste at this small cafe in the middle of the mountains. If you are lucky, you’ll also have the chance to sing along to The Backstreetboys playing on an old CD in the car. Here’s your authentic experience!

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Cuba’s nature is stunning too

Enough said. Go to Cuba. Enjoy it to the fullest.

Love,

Jill

Read Jill’s tips about New Zealand here:

south-island of new zealand__adventurous

World Festival Guide 2017

The festival season has began! Time to put up our new World Festival Guide 2017! We’ve picked our favorite festivals from around the world. Some you might know, others you don’t. But one thing is for sure; book your tickets and dance!

World Festival guide 2017

We are FSTVL, UK
When? 27th – 28th of May
Where? Upminster Greater London
It’s a huge festival with a lot of big names is dance and techno music and guess what, Graig David is even performing! Expect 50.000 people in London’s bankholiday weekend. Tickets are about £60 and almost sold out so if you’re heading over to London you might as well check this festival out. www.wearefstvl.com

We Love Green 2017, France
When? 10th – 11th of June
Where? Paris, France
This festival focuses on sustainability and uses solar power to generate enegrie. It will celebrate it’s 6th year and eadliners include Solange, A Tribe Names Quest, Flying Lotus and Maceo Plex. www.welovegreen.fr

Word Festival Guide 2017
Dance all summer!

Meadows in the Mountains, Bulgaria
When? 9th -11th of June
Where? Bulgaria
If you want something different and special you should check this festival out. Right near the Greek border, this is a festival hidden away in the mountains where you will see day turn into night and the morning fog fall over the trees. A truly encompassing and unique music and arts festival that brings to life the possibility of real adventure embraced by guaranteed sun and friendly faces. Unlike UK festivals our accommodation, food and drinks prices are affordable also because  Bulgaria is yet to convert to the Euro. www.meadowsinthemountains.com

mountain festival

Awakenings Festival, Netherlands
When? 24th – 25th of June

Where? Spaarnwoude, near Amsterdam
The best names in the Techno, minimal and deephouse gather each year to make this festival a huge succes. stages are huge and the sound is spot on. A must visit if you love Techno music! www.awakeningsfestival.nl

Awakenings Festival
The sunset at Awakenings Festival

North Sea Jazz Festival, Netherlands
When? 7th – 9th of Juli
Where? Rotterdam, Netherlands
Our Dutch city Rotterdam does a briljant job in hosting one of the best Jazz festivals in the world. With names like Erykah Badu, The Roots, Gladys Knight, Norah Jones and Usher, it’s hosting more than 1000 artists from the worlds of jazz, hip-hop, and pop music. www.northseajazz.com

north-sea-jazz
Source: North Sea Jazz

Love International Festival, Croatia
When? 29th of June – 6th of July
Where? Tisno, Croatia
Love International was born after Croatia’s legendary electric garden festival ended 2 summers ago. Some of the world’s best DJs provide the soundtrack to open-air clubs, boat parties, beach parties, stages, and even secret island parties. Previously a small funny train is took you from the amazing camping site to the festival so we are expecting more of this and… you’ll make friends for life! www.loveinternationalfestival.com

The Garden Festival
Croatia’s most famous festival (source: Love International)

Sea You Festival, Germany
When? 15th – 16th of Juli
Where? Freiburg, Germany
Just around the corner of the black forest, lays a lake where summer will be celebrated to the max. It’s an intimate festival with 2 stages but the biggest names in dance/techno music. It’s about 6-7 hours drive from The Netherlands so a nice roadtrip that’s well worth it. You can also wakeboard if you’re up for it and cool down in the big lake. www.seayou-festival.de

SeaYouFestival2016_V11
Source: Sea You Festival

Wilderness Festival, UK
When? 3rd – 6th of August
Where? Oxfordshire, England
Here you will find barefoot, flower-garland-toting bohemians dancing about the woods and skinny-dip in the lake at Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire.Grace Jones and Two Door Cinema Club will headline the festival this year but music is not all you can experience here. There is theatre, debate, arts, workshops, food and more. www.wildernessfestival.com

Festival guide wilderness
Is it real? (Source Wilderness Festival)

DGTL Festival, Spain
When? 11th – 12th of August
Where? Parc del Forum, Barcelona
Elke was there when they hosted their first edition and it was amazing. Strangely enough, it rained a lot but that didn’t even matter. Everybody was having a good time. Besides the festival, it’s a great opportunity to eat tapas and check out the capital’s beach. We say: book your flight and go! http://bcn.dgtl.com

DGTL Barcelona

Lost Village Festival, UK
When? 24th – 27th of August

Where? Lincolnshire, England
We had never heard of this one before until this year but wow, this looks cool! Tucked away in a woodland of the Lincolnshire countryside is a world where the best DJ’s and acts come together and make you dance until your feet hurt. Sleep in basecamp where the fun never stops and shop and eat at the village market. Names like Dixon, Jackmaster, The Black Madonna, Ben UFO will be present in this intimate setting. They open the gateway once a year so you better be there to experience the fun.. Check out the cool website for more info!

lost village festival

LolaPalooza, Germany
When? 9th – 10th September
Where? Berlin, Germany
This intimate festival is striking down in Berlin for the 3rd time and with succes! Names like The Foofighters, The XX and Hardwell will be on stage. Book yourself a comfy hotel in Berlin and explore the city! www.lollapaloozade.com

Other cool festivals worth mentioning this spring/summer:

May
20th May: 22Fest, Netherlands
26th – 28th May: Masked Ball Festival, UK

June
31st May – 4th June: Distortion Festival, Denmark
9th – 10th June: Wildlife Festival, UK

10th of June: Komm Schon Alter, NL
15th – 17th June: Sonar Festival, Spain
21st -25th June: Glastonbury, UK
24th of June: Boardlife Festival, NL

July
4th – 9th July: Nowhere Festival, Spain
6th – 8th July: NOS Festival, Portugal
12th – 15th July: Gurten Festival, Switzerland

27th – 30st July: Kendal Calling, UK
27th -31st July: Soundwave Festival, Croatia

August
19th – 20th August: Summer Sonic, Japan
17th – 20st August: Green Man Festival, Wales
24th – 27th August: Shambala Festival, UK

We hope you enjoy our world festival guide 2017!

Love,

Wander-Lust

Book a surprise backpacking trip without a return ticket

Travel organisation srprs.me, founded in 2014, is a travel organization where you can book yourself a mystery holiday or city break. You find out where you are going, at the airport or on the road. Totally on trend, srprs.me believes it’s time to bring some spontaneity back into travel, make your own memories and no longer google your way into a vacation. At Wander-Lust we also believe that the most beautiful things will happen if you have no expectations. You can book blind trips in several themes like Adventure, Broke, City Tripping, Honeymoon & Luxury, Multi City, Road Tripping, Solo Together, Sunsation and the ever changing theme of the Month. A week in advance, you will discover what the temperature is at your mystery destination and what time you should be at the airport or at your car checkpoint. Here you enter a scratch-code into your smartphone. Pretty cool right?

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Are you ready for adventure?

Book a surprise backpacking trip and start the adventure!

Well they’ve just added a whole new dimension to adventure because from this coming Monday you can book a surprise backpacking trip to a surprise destination. With their new travel theme Backpacking, you will be dropped to a destination unknown from which your backpack adventure unfolds. The renewed theme allows you to leave an end date and return ticket out of the package. From your surprise destination, you can then create your own route and choose how long your trip will take.. Are you ready for backpacking 2.0?

Sarah and I actually took one of their surprise trips last year and ended up in sunny Valencia! It was awesome to say the least. Check the moment we found out where we were going:

Love,

Elke

5 x Travel YouTube Channels You Should Subscribe To

YouTube is freakin’ booming and is taking over laptops and screens around the world to inspire young and older generations. Travelers are not just looking on websites anymore, but search for information by checking inspirational video’s from travel vloggers on YouTube. We selected 5 Travel YouTube Channels (and a nice bonus!) for you to subscribe to.

1. Brooke Saward – World of Wanderlust
This Australian cutie is an inspiration for many young women who have a dream. Brooke packed her bags and left everything behind to travel the world. While she did, she started blogging about it and documented everything. Before she even realized it, she became one of the biggest travel bloggers in the world. She started her YouTube Channel a little while after her blogging succes and she gives you tips, travel hacks, personal experiences and her sweet but funny personality really makes you fall in love with this girl. She is taking things a bit slower nowadays as she realized, life is not just about large numbers and being the best in everything. She is more selective about her press trips and wants to be at home more where she started her own bakery recently. https://www.youtube.com/user/brookehaute

World of Wanderlust Travel YouTube Channels

2. Angie Lal – Travel In Her Shoes
She’s a Polish born, Australian educated, Los Angeles based adventure traveler, writer, blogger and photographer. Her Instagram account is already to die for and she decided to focus more on YouTube since a couple of months and things are going fast! Be inspired by the amazing locations she visits and her beautiful sense of style. This girl will take you around the world! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8_L-xSXL3GO2k-FMqmXeZw

travel-in-her-shoes

3. VagaBrothers
We met these crazy bro’s at the TBEX conference in Sweden last year where they gave a seminar about YouTube. They are very savvy with anything to do with video and montage (award winning actually!). They are on a mission to explore the planet by connecting with other young people and inspiring viewers to do the same. And they have! Besides being cute, they are pretty funny too! Check out their cool video’s here: https://www.youtube.com/user/vagabrothers/featured

4. FunForLouis – Louis
He is the biggest travel YouTuber in the world right now and well deserved! He started his channel 6 years ago and gained his subscribers before YouTube was a hype like it’s nowadays. Once he grew an audience, he could focus more on content and adventure. Yes, adventure is Louis middle name! Watch video’s how he’s flying a tiny plane, joining coffee ceremonies, visiting the Hobbit house in New Zealand or riding on the roof of a car. He’s done it all and he is taking you along with the ride. Louis is not the guy who started his YouTube Channel for the views, no he really loves to travel and has stayed humble throughout this big adventure. https://www.youtube.com/user/FunForLouis/featured

5. Hey Nadine – Nadine Sykora
She’s positive, funny, quirky and successful. This is Nadine Sykora. She is posting 2 video’s per week (how on earth does she do it??) and has a lot of travel tips and advice. She does the traditional Q&A’s but it’s never boring. Besides travel she also creates beauty, fashion and comedy video’s. Check her out here: https://www.youtube.com/user/nayders07

hey-nadine-youtube

Bonus: Wander-Lust
Eh well, we need to give ourselves a little self promotion right? ;-) We are waaay behind on YouTube but this will change shortly! We will start to post new video’s soon where we will continue to take you along on our adventures and we are also planning on sharing some inside travel tips. We have to admit that we are not really too keen about vlogging because we can’t imagine that you will find our lives interesting enough that we feel the need to share our every move. BUT, please let us know what you would like to see and we will brainstorm about it. And eh..you can start helping us by subscribing to our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfNCgBBEAs7_ClfgZm1LQNA

Love,

Wander-Lust

Check out our favorite Travel Instagram accounts here!

polabur-amsterdam

A Guide To Malta

If you are reading this, changes are big you’ve got a serious case of wanderlust. We all do. Wanting to travel as far, as much and as long as possible. But, we tend to forget that sometimes, far and long isn’t necessarily what we need. Or what we are capable off (those damn bosses that wont let us travel the world whenever we feel like it). If a 10 day break is all you need, want and can pull off, there are still plenty of places to go where you will feel just as far away as if you traveled all the way to the other end of the globe. We shouldn’t forget those little gems closer to home (well, in case you happen to live in Europe, if not, then this story is not about close to home but still very much worth it ;-)). One of those gems is the medieval and exotic isle of Malta.

Hidden between Italy and Africa, Malta is easily overlooked. A shame, since those pristine beaches, ancient cities, spectacular cliffs, amazing architecture and so much more, is worth every bit of your attention. Whether you want to dance all night long in one of the many bars in St. Julian, work on your tan in Qawra, visit ancient ruins or sniff on some culture in Valetta, you’ll enjoy every bit of it, hassle free. And even though it’s always charming to discover places where you don’t speak the language, the fact that English is the second official language on Malta, makes your trip even more relaxing. Another important detail that will definitely make you want to book: the climate. Between May and October, the average temperature is 26 degrees celsius. Wintertime on the island means an average of 12 degrees. Not too bad eh?

Where to stay
There a enough villages on Malta where you can book your stay, from simple apartments to all-inclusive resorts. Where to stay all depends on your main goal of the trip. Want to head over to one of those resorts? Then Qawra, Bugibba and St. Pauls Bay are your towns. However, don’t expect much of the true Malta here, these towns are full of concrete and tourists. So make sure you have a damn nice resort if this is your home away from home. The true party animals among us should go to St. Julian. This is one of the most vibrant towns, filled with clubs, bars and cocktails. You’ll dance the night away and thanks to the many happy hours, won’t feel robbed inside your wallet. Just be careful here at night, if you don’t watch your belongings closely, you might get robbed for real (oh yeah, my pretty iPhone was a goner after one night in St. Julian’s barstreet, and I wasn’t the only one). So leave your phone at home and party on. The best of both worlds, in my opinion, is the more relaxed but still bustling Sliema. This seaside town, across the water from Valetta, offers nice walks down the boulevard, some great restaurants, good places to stay as well as some more quietness.

Hey, bus driver
Since Malta is home to so many different types of fun, there is one thing you definitely need to do: grab the bus. Until 2011 the island was populated by a large amount of bright yellow, orange, blue and red oldtimer buses, most of them enhanced with religious artifacts of the owner of the bus. It was a sight to be seen and even more an adventure to drive. Unfortunately those buses have disappeared since then, but that does not mean that it isn’t still the best way to make your way around the country. ‘It’s not about the destination but about the journey’ couldn’t be more true here. Just staring lazily out of the window, admiring the landscape zoom by, is the most relaxing way to travel. Best part of it, it’s pretty affordable. Specially when you plan to discover a different part of the island every day. In that case you can buy an unlimited bus pass for 7 days. This ‘ Explore’ card is just 21 euros (yes, they have euro’s) and will get you anywhere you want, day and night. You can buy these passes at a number of sales offices, including the airport. Just ask for the Tallinja Explore card.

Old bus on Malta

Right, so you have your transport all sorted out. Now, where to go?

Fabulous Valetta
This is the countries’ capital, UNESCO recognized, and it’s fabulous. The city is surrounded by water and makes you feel like you have traveled back in time to the middle ages. It has some beautiful churches, St. Johns Cathedral to name one, harbors and tiny alleys to get lost in. If you want to chill out for a while, reading a book or just watch people (or boats), go the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Full of shady places, little fountains and birds. Don’t be scared when they fire the canons that are stationed below the gardens, that just happens. Valetta offers lots of little and big cafe’s and terraces, restaurants and bars. And of course a ton of nice little shops, museums and everything you need for a hot day in the city.

Comino
Wherever you are in Malta, on almost every street corner they’ll try to sell you a cruise to Comino, a small Island where the water is bluer than blue in the Blue Lagoon. This cruise will sail you along the Maltese coastline, it’s super pretty. However, in the summer season, it’s also super crowded. If you happen to find yourself on Malta before June or after September, take the cruise. Just make sure you pay a little extra for the more luxe cruise on a Turkish wooden vessel, you’ll get everything you need including a little mattress on the deck for sunbathing. Don’t go for the cheaper, massive tourist boats. Unless you like to sit on an uncomfortable plastic chair, almost on the lap of your sunburned English neighbor for the entire day. If you don’t fancy the cruise (in the high-season) or if you are on a budget, take the bus! Go to Cirkewwa in the north and embark on of the ferries to the Blue Lagoon. Once arrived, you can stay as long or short as you like. Go early if you want to avoid the crowds (there will be crowds, trust me, but the water is worth it).

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Ghajn Tuffieha Bay & Golden Sands
Hey beach bum, this is the place to go for a tranquil day in the sand. There is, as far as I know, only one resort near these beaches, so it’s much less crowded than the sandy options near the resort towns. Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Sands are next to each other and the bus stop is in the middle of nowhere. The beaches look like hidden bays and you’ll find a lot of locals here as well. There are not many restaurants, so make sure you stock up before you go. All you need to do once you have arrived: find a spot and enjoy. Oh, and to make sure you are back at the busstop in time for the final bus to avoid being stuck here for the night (unless you are up for and adventure, of course).

Hidden Ghar Lapsi
After a long busdrive, you’ll arrive at Ghar Lapsi. At first you will doubt whether you are at the right place and whether you should catch the bus right back. Then you will walk down the street, and see the stairway between the rocks. Climb down and smile, you are in the right place. A natural pool between the rocks is the perfect place to cool down and to chill in the water. Want to chase some fish? Just swim from the pool to the open water, put on your goggles and enjoy the underwater-world. This is a mostly known as a dive site and a far journey from almost all of the villages, so you’ll see more Maltese seniors bathing there than hungover tourists. It’s pure heaven.

Eat cake in Mdina
Exactly in the middle of the island, the medieval town of Mdina arises. Hardly any cars are allowed in this thickly walled city, so you can look around and simply be amazed by the wonder of the buildings, the doors (yes the doors), the views, the smells and the cake. Yes, the cake alone is a reason to catch those buses heading to Mdina. Search for Fontanella Tea Garden, find a spot on top of the city walls, take in the views and the most amazing cakes. If you don’t mind death by chocolate, take the choco one and thank me later.

Malta Mdina

Spinola bay stroll
If you’re staying in Sliema or St. Julian, don’t forget a stroll around Spinola bay. Full of nice places to dine or drink or just soak up the many lights and sounds. There is only one word that describes this bay: lovely.

The colours of Marsaxlokk
Google Malta images and you’ll find the colorful boats of Marsaxlokk. Not a sight to miss. This little fisher town is not spoiled by large apartment buildings and will give you the authentic Malta vibe. The boulevard is the perfect place to grab a bite, since the many little cafes offer great fish meals for very reasonable prices. If you are there on Sunday, the big market will tickle all of your senses.

I think I haven’t covered half of the adventures you can have on Malta, but you get the picture. This is one perfect island, combining sightseeing and other day trips with lazily hanging on the waterfront. There is no need to head over to the other side of the world to experience true adventures. Just make sure to catch the bus on time!

Love,

Jill

How To Decrease Your Ecological Footprint While You Travel

Nowadays, there is so much written about the negative environmental impact of traveling that it almost seems impossible to buy a plane ticket without experiencing any form of guilt. The current growth and way of traveling is simply not long lasting and we’re facing a conflict between wanting to travel but not wanting to harm the planet. Yet -being a traveler by heart- I’ll be the last person on this (still) beautiful planet to discourage you to jump on that plane towards your next new adventure. In fact, I’m telling you exactly what you do want to hear. Go explore the planet, travel the globe and visit the places of your dreams, but we’ll have to make some changes. Cause while we’re all focusing on that perfect world on our Instagram feed, the real world is slowly drowning in our love for her beauty.

sustainable travel

Sustainable travel
One of those changes is putting sustainability on your holiday checklist. It’s the new IT-word that everybody talks about, but what exactly does it mean? I’ll teach you: Sustainability / Noun / [suh-stey-nuh-bil-i-tee] – the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance. Well, that’s what the dictionary says. To me, sustainable travel is being mindful to the economic, environmental, and cultural impact of travel. So it doesn’t necessarily mean we all have to stop traveling around the globe. By not traveling we will actually create far more severe complications. Many countries depend on tourism as a main source of income. Closing the borders will delay the spread of knowledge, economic opportunities and of course… shutting down the money flow.

It’s about making some smarter decisions that will allow earth to slowly recover to their original ecosystem. So let’s put the money where the mouth is: hereby I provide you with an easy to use guidebook to decrease your own ecological footprint.

Traveling
Choose your way of travel consciously. There are thousands of articles on how to travel cheap and comfortable, but (please) put sustainability on your check-list as well.
Paradise might be closer than you think. We go on 15 hours flights to discover the world while we haven’t even discovered our own country. Find a balance between traveling far and staying closer to home. There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist in your own country. In fact, I promise you it will be more fun than you think.
Calculate the Carbon Footprint of your Flight. Living in the Netherlands, I can understand that it’s sometimes unavoidable to travel further away. Although I love our small, flat, cow-country, it would be pretty difficult to climb mountains here… not to mention getting a tan. But if you can’t stop the urge to fly, you ca compensate by paying for your CO2. Calculate how much you use via this website. Also make sure you book your flights with an airline that recycles waste from food, beverages and paper.

At your destination
Support the community you’re visiting by purchasing products from local suppliers. It’s better for the environment, supports the economy and it’s a great way to meet locals.
Combine sightseeing with a workout: rent a bike or walk instead of hiring a car. The advantages are that you can stop whenever you want to take photo’s of the beautiful surroundings (or just a selfie cause the light is great). But moreover, you’ll work on your own health and the health of the globe.
Go for an Eco accommodation. You can choose your hotel that gives you the chance to offset your carbon footprint when you make a booking. By choosing an Eco Resort, you also contribute to the local community. Organisations like Better Places make this possible. By the way, did you know trees can be planted with your donated money for example? 
Mi casa es tu casa. Treat your hotel room like it’s your own house: turn the lights and air conditioning off while leave your room.
Eat vegetarian or vegan foods. Yes this is extremely sustainable. The production of meat and dairy causes more pollution than factories, flights and all traffic combined together. Eating vegetarian is also cheaper most of the time so it’s a win win situation!

how to decrease your ecological footprint

Just as you explore the world, explore which of these guidelines work for you. They are all small steps, but small steps in de good direction. Combine them with your own ideas on how to decrease your ecological footprint and be mindful of your journey. Cause in the end we all want the same thing: make a contribution to a better world.

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

The Salt Flats in Bolivia, A Must Visit!

Reflections, crystal-white salt, never ending views, ice scraped mountains, wildlife, and this all above 4000 km height.  Combine breath taking colorful lagoons with steamy volcanoes, geysers and warm hot-springs. This popular destination is without doubt an unforgettable and magical journey that you will never forget! Experience the world’s largest salt flats: Salar de Uyuni

Salt Flats

The view from the air is exquisite, you can already see the Salt Flats from here

How to get there:
I traveled from La Paz to Uyuni by plane and I paid 1350 Bolivianos for a return flight (this is around 190 euro). The flight only takes 50 minutes and it departs at 7am with Amazons airlines or at 8am with BOA airlines. The view from the air is exquisite, you can already see the Salt Flats from here.
From the airport you need to take a taxi that will bring you to the center of Uyuni for just 10 Bolivianos (1.40 euro).  You can also take a bus from La Paz to Uyuni, that will only costs you 30 euros for a return ticket and they will drop you in the center of Uyuni.  It takes around 8 or 9 hours one way (depending on the traffic).

SALT FLATS

TIP! Make sure you arrive in the center of Uyuni before 10am, so you will have enough time to arrange your tour. The tour starts around 11am.

Tours
The Salar de Uyuni tours range in length from one to four days. During a one day tour you will experience the salt flats as well as a few other sights in the surrounding area and you’ll do it by jeep. The three or four day tours will take you deeper into the desert where you will see steamy volcanoes, geysers, colorful lakes, warm hot-springs, unique wildlife and a lot more…..I definitely recommend a three or four day trip if you like a little adventure.

Salt Flats

Where To Buy Your Ticket
You can choose to book your ticket in La Paz (or another city), but we’d heard that it’s cheaper and also super easy to fix in Uyuni , so we decided to book it there. When you arrive in the center of Uyuni in the early morning you will find many local agencies who all want to sell a ticket to you. They will attack you and it’s hard to choose. For your info, they all offer the same tours, it’s just the price that diverse from the other. Eventually it’s cheaper to book your ticket in Uyuni. We paid 680 Bolivianos for 3 days, including food, drinks and 2 night’s stay.

TIP! Try to find at least 5 people and start to negotiate (every jeep will take a group of up to 6 people).

The Tour
Day 1: 

  • Arrive at the small village of Colchani where you will have the chance to buy some local souvenirs 
  • The original Salt Hotel 
  • Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni salt flats), where you get enough time to make pictures and see the sunset
  • Uyuni center where you will have dinner and spend the night

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Mirror mirror on the wall..

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The Sunset at the Salt Flats is something else..

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Image by Nancy 

Day 2:

  • Wake up at 7am and leave at 8am
  • Breakfast in a small village on the way to the next stop (Bread with jam and coffee or tea)
  • Exploring the Cementerio de trenes 
  • Valle de Rocas where you get lunch (meat with salad and potatoes
  • Small desert of Chiguana on the south side of Salar de Uyuni where you stop at a lookout to view steamy volcanoes
  • Breathtaking colorful Lagoons: Hedionda, Onda with many flamingos , Lagoon Colorodo National park (protected where you need to pay 15o Bolivianos)
  • Eat and sleep in a hostel. You get a tea and coffee with cookies when you arrive and for dinner we got this nice vegetable soup and spaghetti with a bottle of red wine

TIP! Bring your own wine! Or…. If your wine is finito and you wish for more than you can buy it in the small village where you are staying (around the corner), that sells beers, wines, cookies, chips and more.

Salt Flats
Cementerio de trenes

Salt Flats
Valle de Rocas

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Lagoon Onda

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Lagoon Colorodo

Day 3:

  • Wake up at 6am, have breakfast (delicious pancakes for breakfast in the morning with tea and coffee) and leave at 7.30am
  • Visit the Sol de Mañana” geysers while the sun comes up
  • The natural hot-springs. The volcanic activity produces some thermal springs. Best way to get warm again. 
  • Laguna Verde – the green lake – only green in October and November due to the change in alga’s
  • Lunch on the way back – salad with tuna, vegetables and pasta with a beautiful view (6 hour ride back to Uyuni)
  • Last stop is the local market 1 hour before Uyuni. Time to go to the toilet and buy some drinks

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Sol de Mañana” geysers

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Sunset at the geysers

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The natural hot-springs 

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Laguna Verde

You can describe the Salt Flats tour in one word: Memorable! 

Love,

Sarah

Read more about Sarah’s adventure in Bolivia and the main reason she went there:

Bolivia

6 Reasons To Still Love Thailand

Thailand. Once a tropical and far away destination but nowadays, more than ever, a super touristic country where real adventure and authenticity seem to be disappearing and mass tourism seems to be taking over. Some travelers don’t even bother going to Thailand any more, but for me, even after three times, it is still one of my favorite Southeast Asian countries. Why? I’ll give you 6 reasons why to still love Thailand.

1. The People.
Thailand is known as the land of the smile and even though ginormous amounts of tourists have found their way to the land once known as Siam, the Thai people still remain friendly. Of course you have the general exceptions such as the merchants on Khao San Road who don’t even let you try something before buying it, but the (big!) majority of Thai people I met remain respectful, friendly, humble and do everything with a big smile.

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Bangkok

2. The Food.
Okay, this one is a SUPER big cliché, but so true! I tried fresh Spring Rolls in Vietnam, ate Khmer Amok in Cambodia and love a portion of Indonesian Gado Gado, but, let’s be honest, nothing beats a Pad Thai. Thai food is so versatile, so full of flavor and even as a vegetarian you are treated to mouthwatering dishes day after day after day. And yes, food is definitely a reason for me to go to a country and that’s why I love Thailand ;)

3. The convenience.
Traveling around Thailand is easy. Did I say easy? It is super easy! Every hostel has a travel desk and in every town you’ll find heaps of travel agencies. Whether you take the bus, boat, minivan and TukTuk, everything is well planned out and you’ll always arrive on your destination. Flying is sometimes even cheaper than the train or bus (you can, for instance, fly from Bangkok to Krabi for 20 Euros) and vehicles like minivans are often of good quality. Believe me, if you’ve seen what I traveled with in countries like Cambodia you’ll never complain about a Thai minivan again…

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Traveling through Thailand by boat

4. The Islands.
There are so many islands in Thailand that you could easily stay for 2 months, and there is something for everyone. If you like to go partying you go to Koh Phi Phi or Koh Phangan, if you want to relax I’d recommend Koh Lanta (check our tips on Koh Lanta), if you want to get your PADI or want to go snorkeling then Koh Tao is the place to be and if you’re looking for something different then Koh Chang is where you should set sail to. And what all the islands have in common: they are beautiful.

Krabi, Love Thailand

5. The Temples.
What can I say? I love temples, and Thailand has many of them. Some people say that “after you’ve seen one temple you’ve seen them all” but I strongly disagree, especially in Thailand. In Bangkok you can’t miss the reclining Buddha and Wat Arun, whereas in Chiang Mai Doi Suthep is a definite must-go-to. But also walking into the smaller, less well-known temples that aren’t mentioned in travel guides like the lonely planet are worth wandering around.

6. The Sunsets
Yes, there are pretty sunsets everywhere, but the last few I saw during my most recent visit to Thailand were out of this world. Whether you’re in a busy metropole like Bangkok or chilling on an island, Mother Nature will treat you to some of her best sunsets ever. Order a cold Chang, get comfortable and watch the day turn into night.

Sunsets in Krabi Thailand,
Sunsets like no other

I could go on about the weather, the parties, the adventure, how the Thai people speak English and so on but I think I made my point about why I love Thailand: this country is still more than worth visiting. Enjoy! 

Love,

Evelien

*Evelien is one of our guest bloggers who currently travels and lives in Australia. Follow her on Instagram (@eefexplores) or check out her website!

The Wanderlust of.. a Travel Journalist

She has traveled to a stagering 99 countries so far and is going to hit the 100 mark very soon. Sleeping at the most amazing locations, tasting a different cuisine each month and writing about travel in it’s most diverse way. It’s the life of a digital nomad. This is the Wanderlust of Travel Journalist Yvette Bax.

Hi Yvette, tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do?
“I am a freelance travel journalist. I write for (mostly Dutch) newspapers en magazines and I travel all year round. You could say I live my life as a so called ‘digital nomad’. My two bases are Cape Town and Amsterdam.”

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Overlooking the Gocta Waterfall in Northern Peru

One of my favorite press trips I have ever done is driving on a snow scooter from Finland to Russia.

For your uber cool job, you travel to the most amazing places. We can’t help but ask; what has been your favorite destination so far?
“Ufff, that’s a tough one. I like several destinations for different reasons. I absolutely love South Africa and Argentina, as they are my second and third home. (As I live part time in Cape Town and have lived in Buenos Aires before.) I love Africa and South America in general: because the people are very warm and open there. Vibrant cultures, very social, with music, sun and laughter. Furthermore I love Japan for being it’s own crazy little planet, the Philippines for the nature and the cute tarsiers with their funny faces that live there. One of my favorite press trips I have ever done is driving on a snow scooter from Finland to Russia. Driving over frozen lakes, on top of meters of snow where I could only see tree tops popping out: truly stunning. Furthermore I love the orange and red dunes of Namibia, the jungle of the Amazon and the roughness of New Zealand..I could go on and on.”

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Yvette at Machu Pichhu, Peru

And what has been the biggest disappointment?
“The biggest disappointment… Well, I was a bit disappointed about the northern part of Java. I did not like the city of Jakarta much: it was very dirty, polluted and full of traffic jams. Not many pretty things for sightseeing either. But maybe if I would have spent more time there I would have discovered more beauty, who knows. But I loved the southern part of Java and the other islands of Indonesia, as Lombok and Sulawesi especially.”

Have you always been traveler and how did this come about?
“I always loved to travel and whenever I could I did. My first big trip on my own was my trip to Cuba, which was a very special experience. I went for 3 weeks and ended up staying three months. That became the story of my life: always staying much longer than planned. I like to spend a lot of time on one destination: to really get to know a place and its people and culture well: to see it from the inside. I spent several months in Mexico, have lived and studied in Surinam, and Argentina where I went to stay for two months but ended up living one year. And now Cape Town is basically my home, where I spent most of my time since the last three years. Although ‘most of my time’ isn’t a lot since I mostly travel non-stop for my work.”

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Yvette’s gang in South Africa. Photo by Binniam Eskender

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Yvette on top of Table Mountain at her second home South Africa. Photo by Binniam Eskender

Do you find it’s hard to settle back home sometimes, because you’re away so often?
“Yes, it’s very difficult. I don’t even really know where ‘home’ is anymore. I guess it is Cape Town, since I spend most of my time here. So I am used to living in different places, always getting to know new people and other new places. It’s a very hectic, intense and crazy life. But I love it. Sometimes it feels as if I am living in a dream: all the most beautiful spots I get to visit.The amazing and interesting people from all over the world I get to meet. I am making a living out of my two biggest hobbies: travelling and writing. I realize every day how lucky I am, I soak in every moment to enjoy it to the fullest and feel very grateful for all this. But obviously it has it’s downsides too: my last two relationships did not last because of the long distance. And I also do miss my friends and family back in the Netherlands, but we video-Whatsapp call a lot, and my parents also came to visit me here in Cape Town last January, that was very special. And my sisters, parents and quite a few friends also came to visit me when I was living in Argentina.”

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Some of Yvette’s workspots in Australia, South Africa and Fiji

They once gave me a 80 square meter suite in the Lebua State Tower in Bangkok, on the top floor with 4 huge balconies, right below one of the most famous roof top bars in the world.

Could you tip our readers with some of your favorite restaurants or accommodations around the world?
“I love the Tsim Sha Tsui fine dining restaurant in Hong Kong: on the 30th floor with an amazing view over the city and the harbor. The cocktails of the Eyebar on the same floor are exquisite too. My favorite food cities in the world are Hong Kong, Berlin and Cape Town, you have to really do your best to find shitty food there.”

“In Thailand they once gave me a 80 square meter suite in the Lebua State Tower in Bangkok, on the 60th-plus-something floor with 4 huge balconies, right below one of the most famous roof top bars in the world. That was pretty amazing. But in the end I would prefer a cute little lodge in the middle of the nature anytime over such luxury: a week later I stayed in a so called ‘floating rainforest camp’, in a tent floating on a lake in a nature reserve in the south of Thailand. More basic but with a priceless view.”

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The impressive view at Eyebar in Hong Kong Souce

 “I absolutely love the Ngong House hotel, just outside of Nairobi, Kenya. It’s a tree house hotel with beautiful views on the famous Ngong Hills (from the book/movie Out of Africa), in a very cozy and intimate setting. In Cape Town my favorite hotel is Cape View Clifton: a small boutique hotel with and infinity pool and incredible views over the Clifton beaches. Bush camping at the Okavango Delta in Botswana with wild animals walking besides your tent is stunning and fun too. Unless you have to pee in the middle of the night, haha.”

Sounds amazing, we should check those out! As a journalist, you must have written a lot of pieces. Which articles are you most proud of and why?
“I like the articles I have written on South Africa and Argentina best, because I think you really can feel the love I have for those places when reading it. And obviously the articles of places I know in and out are the best, because I have a deeper and better perspective of what is going on, so I can share more than just some superficial ‘hotspot’ information.”

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Traveling can take up a lot time, do you listen to a lot of music and if so, what can we definitely find on your travel playlist?
“For quiet times I love listening to soul music and jazz. For dancing I like to listen to deephouse – especially the funky deephouse with African beats that they play here. I also love salsa, samba, reggae and old skool Motown music.”

As what kind of traveler would you consider yourself? (Luxury, backpacker, adventurer etc.)
“All in one.”

And finally; what will be your hundred destination?
“Seychelles or India. Can’t wait!”

Wow, we’re not jealous at all! ;-) 

Love,

Wander-Lust

Check out Yvette’s website or Instagram where you can follow her adventures!

Bali must do’s for first timers

In my previous blog, I highlighted some sights you should visit in Java. Even though Java is beautiful, I think an even more special place in Indonesia is Bali. Bali is quite a popular destination and once you visited this island you’ll understand why. While in most of Indonesia, Islam is the main religion, in Bali most people are Hinduists. You’ll see Hindu temples everywhere. But these are not the only interesting sights. Here’s are some Bali must do’s if you’re visiting the island for the first time.

Ubud
Ubud is the cultural hart of Bali. It has a lovely center with nice bars and restaurants. It has quite a spiritual vibe with all its great temples. The most impressive one is Gunung Kawi, an 11th-century temple complex spread across both sides of the Pakerisan river. It comprises 10 shrines that are carved into seven (!) metre high sheltered niches on each side. Once you move away from the center, Ubud also has beautiful surroundings, you can walk for example to Campuang Ridge and see beautiful rice fields.

Bike downhill from Mount Batur
This is a spectacular tour which starts in Ubud, from where you’ll drive to Penelokan, which is right next to Mount Batur. You’ll have breakfast overlooking this impressive, active, volcano and its crater lake. After this great start, you will bike downhill back to Ubud. Along the way, you’ll see little villages and visit a coffee plantation, typical Balinese houses and the well-known rice fields.

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Breakfast with a view

Dive in Amed
If you like diving, Amed is the place to be in Bali. There are lots of different dive schools that all offer PADI or SSI courses, or just regular dive trips in case you are already certified. One of the most memorable dive spots is Manta Point, close to Nuusa Lembongan. It takes some time to get there and it’s therefore also quite a pricy dive, but it will be well worth once you see massive – up to 6 metres wide – Manta’s under water. 

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It is called Manta Point for a reason!

Relax at the Gili’s
The Gili’s do not really belong to Bali, but they are the perfect getaway with their white beaches, clear blue water and amazing sunsets. You can easily get there by boat from Padang Bay. Gili Trawangan is the biggest island and mostly known for its parties. Gili Air is a bit smaller but it has a great atmosphere and is very vibrant with all the restaurants along the beach where you can eat sea food that just came out of the ocean. And if you really want some relax time the smallest Gili Meno is the place to be. All islands are home to an impressive underwater world and snorkeling or diving are great activities here. Find more info about the Gili islands here.

There you have it, just a little guide into Bali must do’s for first timers. And I’m sure there will be a second time very soon after!

Love,

Dionne

*Dionne is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands, currently living in Den Bosch. In everyday life she works as a marketing-communications professional. She loves to travel to distant destinations, but she also enjoys a city trip closer to home.