Argentina travel guide

Cafayate – a pleasantly unexpected treasure of Argentina

cafayateCafayate is located in the central zone of the Valles Calchaquíes, at a distance of 1,329 kilometres from Buenos Aires. It is an important center for exploring the Cafayate valleys and the wine making areas. To further add to the appeal of the city, the largest golf course in South America is currently built just outside the city.

Although popular among tourists, Cafayate is definitely one of the South America highlights , especially if you are looking to taste the traditional wines of Argentina. Most wines in Argentina are red but the white wine produced only from the grapes grown in this region will give you a unique taste of the country.

The best way to explore the area is to rent a bike for a day and tour the wineries on your own (of course, skip the bike when you are tipsy, you really don’t need accidents to happen during your vacation, do you?). Keep in mind that summer is the best time to visit the city.

The city is about 3.5 hours south of Salta. Flying into Salta is the easiest way to get so when you look for airfare to Argentina , check the fares directly into Saltra or into the capital and then look for a domestic flight into Salta. It’s not a bad idea to spend several days here exploring the impressive buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th and early 20th centuries.

Cheap hotels in Argentina are not hard to find especially if you visit cities such as Cafayate. It is filled with affordable places to stay and some of them even have a pool. There are many excellent restaurants clustered around the main square. There are luxury hotels in the city as well and they can be an excellent choice for a romantic holiday (prices start at $250 per night and include breakfast daily and champagne upon arrival).

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Peru travel guide

Things to Consider When Booking an Adventure Trip in Peru

hikingSometimes even the most intrepid traveler wants to sit back and let someone else do the work for a change. Because as rewarding as planning a trip from start to finish can be, it can also be exhausting. And hey, wasn’t this supposed to kinda be a vacation?

In these instances, it’s good to know that there are packaged trips that don’t treat people like herded sheep and that won’t result in you losing any indie traveler cred you had to start with. In fact, some of the package trips you can take will force you to be more active and outdoorsy than you might have been if you’d planned the trip yourself. I’m talking about tours that are typically called “adventure trips.”

Adventure trips are more common in some parts of the world than others, and luckily for anyone interested in a trip through Peru there are plenty of choices when it comes to adventure trips in South America.

Not all adventure trips are created equally, as some of them are truly about getting you out into nature for hiking, zip-lining, and the like. Others might just be smaller group tours that utilize local transport and incorporate things like biking trips into what is a relatively normal-looking schedule. You’ll have to look through the options to see which ones appeal to both your travel style and your budget, but the good news is that you won’t be lacking for choice.

A few things to keep in mind when you’re looking at adventure trips in Peru:

  • Not all adventure trips will include your airfare to and from Peru; it’s important to factor this in when you’re looking at prices, but remember you can find cheap Peru airfare elsewhere if they don’t include it.
  • If you have a particular thing you’d like to focus on during your trip, be sure to either let the tour company know that (in case they can accommodate you) or think of extending your trip to Peru to enjoy whatever you might have missed on the tour. For instance, if you’re a wine lover, you might want to do a bit of wine tasting in South America after your organized trip is over.
  • As mentioned in the point above, it’s important to talk to the company running an adventure trip before you sign on – the groups are smaller, so they’re more able to tailor a trip to suit the people on the trip as opposed to just accepting something out of the box. It’s not hard to negotiate with a tour guide, you just need to know what you want beforehand.

As a side-note, a somewhat off-the-beaten-path spot in Peru was featured on a list of 5 “unexpected treasures” of South America recently – so if you can’t find a tour company that includes a stop at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina in Arequipa as part of their itinerary, definitely look into making it a stop on your own itinerary.

photo by Rick McCharles

Los Angeles

Make LA Your Gateway to Australia

melbourneAt 14 hours or so, the flight from Los Angeles to Australia isn’t exactly short. But LA is the closest US gateway to the land “down under”, which makes it the most popular jumping-off point for anyone traveling from the States to Australia.

Most cheap flights to Australia depart from Los Angeles as well so if you’re headed to Oz, there’s a good chance your travels will take you through LA, if only for a short layover.

If you’re planning a trip to Australia, check out these hotels in Melbourne, which, along with Sydney, is one of the country’s most popular cities. Though it often plays second fiddle to Sydney, Melbourne is a favorite of many travelers and well worth visiting.

You can see more and extend your stay in Australia by taking on some temporary work. Check out our guide to working holiday visas in Australia to learn all about the program and how you can travel the continent for up to 12 months while working your way around.

Photo by fotograf1v2

Edinburgh Planning a Trip

Hop Over to Ireland to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Right

stpatricksdayTo some people it seems like the month of February is a cruel joke – it’s often the dreariest month, with nothing but gray skies and rain for days on end, and from here it feels like the next long vacation is months away. But you don’t have to be Irish to put a certain date in mid-March on your calendar that represents a great party to look forward to.

I’m talking, of course, about St. Patrick’s Day.

While St. Patrick’s Day isn’t as huge a holiday in Scotland overall, it’s still an excuse to wear green and drink more than you might otherwise. And in Edinburgh there are likely to be bigger St. Paddy’s Day parties than in some other cities. But if you really want to party properly, your best bet is to head to Ireland – which, luckily, is easy to do from Scotland.

There are lots of holidays that people travel for when airfare increases just before and just after the big day, and there’s a little bit of that associated with St. Patrick’s Day – but it’s still much easier to find St. Patrick’s Day travel deals than it is to find deals for bigger holidays throughout the year. If you’re already in Scotland, you should be able to find cheap flights to Dublin or even cheap flights to Cork (if you want to skip the crazier Dublin celebration altogether) on one of the many discount airlines serving the Emerald Isle. In particular, you should definitely look for Ryanair flight deals, since they’re actually an Irish airline. Just remember that their super-low fares usually also come with super-low standards for service.

Once you figure out how to get over to Ireland for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday, you’ll want to sort out your accommodation next. More intrepid travelers may be used to arriving in a new place and then finding a place to stay – but when you’re talking about visiting (say) Dublin over such a major holiday, you may end up with no place to lay your head or leave your bags because everything’s booked. So the sooner you can reserve a room, the better off you’ll be.

Also remember that Dublin is a notoriously expensive city to visit, so you might want to look into the many hostels in addition to searching for cheap hotels in Dublin. And if you’re all about the party, the closer you stay to the Temple Bar area means you’ll have less distance to stumble home after a long night of drinking.

photo by Barnacles Hostels

England travel guide

England Preparing for the World Cup

englandkitMuch of the English sporting world is abuzz with the countdown to World Cup 2010 – and with good reason. After not making it into the last Euros tournament and a pretty dismal track record so far when it comes to World Cups, this year I don’t think the English squad would surprise anyone if they took home the trophy (or at least made it to the final). The Italophile in me would like to credit Fabio Capello with much of the success, but in reality the team this year is pretty outstanding no matter who the manager is.

The two BootsnAll staffers who will be in South Africa for the World Cup this year aren’t England fans – one’s Scottish (so you can see the problem there) and the other’s an Aussie. But I have no doubt that they’ll be surrounded by crowds of England supporters at many of the World Cup venues – because on top of being a football-mad nation, England also produces some pretty intrepid travelers.

If you’ll be making your way from England to South Africa come June, I dearly hope you’ve already got your travel needs sorted – because with every day that passes the opportunities for deals get fewer and farther between. Still, if you’re a master procrastinator, don’t miss these tips on finding World Cup travel deals from Europe – they may help you save a few quid on your flight (which could mean a few extra beers in South Africa, either to celebrate a victory or mourn a loss).

If you’ll be visiting England during the World Cup, I’d suggest that even if you’re not a huge fan of footy that you check the schedule of games to find out when England is playing. Then, on game day, secure a spot in a cozy pub and watch the game with a crowd of English supporters cheering their team on from afar. It’s almost like being there. Only, perhaps, without the vuvuzelas.

And whether you’re making the trip to South Africa or will be watching the games on TV back in England, you’ll need to be properly outfitted lest anyone think you’re cheering for another country or (heaven forbid) just not paying attention to the tournament. You may be able to pick up a cheap knock-off jersey on the streets of London, but it may also fall apart after one washing. Instead, get an England 2010 World Cup jersey that will last – and that shows your true Three Lions pride. And, if you’re really geeking out on the games, don’t forget to get the new England away kit, too!

Los Angeles Things to Do

Get Out of LA for Some Horse Racing, Kentucky-Style

derbyLos Angeles has lots going for it when it comes to being a top travel destination or even a place to live (efficient public transportation aside). The weather’s unbeatable, the shopping is superb, the beach is right there, and there’s always plenty to do. Unless, of course, you’re a huge horse racing fan. In that case, nothing can replace a trip to see the Kentucky Derby in person.

Sure, there are horses that race around tracks all over the country, and some fine horse races in California. But the Kentucky Derby’s the Kentucky Derby, and no amount of mint juleps and big hats in LA will make up for the fact that you’re not there. So put the Kentucky Derby on your bucket list – and then consider checking it off this year.

The Kentucky Derby isn’t until May 1 this year, so you’ve still got plenty of time to make your travel plans. Since it’s such a major event, you don’t want to wait too much longer, but you’re certainly not looking at a last-minute trip just yet.

To start with, you can still get a cheap ticket to Louisville that will help you keep the whole trip within budget. And although it’s a city with lots to do and see besides the Kentucky Derby, there are still options for cheap hotels in Louisville, both for the Derby and for an extended stay if you’d like to spend a little more time in Kentucky before heading home.

And before you pack your bags, be sure to read through these Kentucky Derby travel tips – including what you can and can’t bring to the Derby itself and a few things to do in Louisville and the area around the Derby.

photo by Lisa Andres

Peru travel guide

A vacation to remember: climbing El Misti

el-mistiI have hiked on mountains and hills, climbed the walls of abandoned citadels and always wanted to tempt fate and embark on a journey of a lifetime: climbing one of the famous volcanoes in the world.

Peru is not only famous for being home to the interesting Nazca lines and colorful festivals; it’s also the place where El Misti can be found. El Misti is a volcano, located just outside Arequipa. It last erupted in 1870 and it hasn’t been showing signs of wanting to mess with the travelers’ plans soon.

For those used to hiking, the climb is not a big problem. However, you need to consider the altitude. Arequipa is located 2400 meters above sea level and spending several days here surely helps with getting used to the air. The climbing trip takes two days (and one night). Although the volcano can be climbed as part of a day trip, you need to start very early and be used to the high altitude. So, it’s better to choose the longer trip and spend a night at 4800 meters. There’s nothing like a dinner on top of the world.

The volcano can be climbed year-round but from January to March it can be either rainy or snowy so the trips might get canceled.

Arequipa is served by an airport but if you fly from abroad it’s better to look for cheap flights to Lima . From here, you can take the express bus to Arequipa (they are quite expensive, but they are cheaper than flights and safer than regular buses).

Once the transportation solved, look for cheap hotels in Peru . Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru so it’s easy to find places to stay. Average nightly rates start at US$40-50 but do make sure you read the reviews and choose a safe place to stay.

Exploring El Misti is not the only interesting thing to do while in Arequipa. The historical center is well worth your time and the ancient districts of Yanahuara and Cayma can be quite an interesting experience as well. The city also has beautiful bridges to check out.

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