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    • Where: Queenstown, New Zealand
    • Who: beachbum
    • When: April

    We had 4 days in Queenstown and to be honest were spoiled for choice with things to see and do. The town itself is beautiful.

    As its the adventure capital of the world it would be rude not to partake in some scary sports! My boyfriend and I decided to go all out and do a tandem bungee jump off the Kawarau Bridge. Kawarau is the oldest bungee in the world and still today attracts lots of tourists - either jumping or jumper watching! The jump itself is a 47 metre free fall over the Kawarau river. After lots of "do I, dont I" thoughts, we took the plunge and I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of our lives. The adrenaline you get from doing a bungee can not be beaten, two it!

    The gondola and luge is also a must do. The views overlooking the snow capped mountains and Wakatipu Lake need to be seen to be believed. Once your at the top of the gondola there is loads of sports you can do from mountain biking to luging! The luge is a great experience and is definitely worth a go! I would recommend a visit just before the sun sets so you can see Queenstown coming to life at night. Speaking about nightlife, Queenstown isn't short of bars. The after midnight atmosphere is buzzing and nightclubs and bars here are legendary.

    We visited Queenstown mid April. Weather was bright and sunny although you did need a jacket and gloves as it would get quite chilly particular when up on the gondola. A trip to Queenstown is a must if in NZ.

    Published: 18 November 2013

    • Where: Mombasa, Kenya
    • Who: beachbum
    • When: October

    I was luckily enough to spend a week in Kenya during October. We flew directly into Mombasa and enjoyed a week at the Diana beach area. The beach was beautiful and we spent lots of lazy days in the sun. Unfortunately there was a lot of touts along the beach trying to sell paintings, sunglasses, etc etc. it was fine at first but after a bit it did get a bit annoying as they didn't seem to take no for an answer.

    We took a trip to Nyali beach for a change of scene and whilst this beach also had vendors they seemed less persistent and much more friendly. Nyali beach was gorgeous - beautiful clear seas, soft white sand and lots of swaying palm trees. It has a vibrant beach scene with a real mix of characters from locals to tourists. Food in the beach bar was also really good and nice and cheap.

    All nature lovers should not miss a trip to the Nguuni Sanctuary which gives you a real opportunity to enjoy an "out of Africa" experience. The sanctuary is home to lots of friendly giraffes who are more than happy to pose for photographs! We booked a BBQ with the park in advance and it was a great experience to eat in the wild surrounded by amazing scenery!

    We traveled to Mombasa in October. Although it was the start of the rainy season we enjoyed fab weather with sun-kissed days and temperatures of 29 degrees. Perfect!

    Published: 17 November 2013

    • Where: Borneo, Malaysia
    • Who: sai
    • When: October

    The main reason for my trip to Borneo was to see the Orangutans in their natural habitat. It had always been on my bucket list and so when I got the opportunity I jumped at it!

    Borneo did not disappoint and it was amazing to see baby and adult orangutans swinging through the tree-tops at Sepiloks Rehabilitation Centre (one of just two places in the world where you can see wild Orangutans).

    Whilst in Borneo we also decided that we would climb Mount Kinabalu - South East Asia's tallest mountain. This fantastic 2 day/1 night hike brought with it both smiles and tears and I must admit was much more challenging than I had envisaged. However arriving to the peak, 4095 metres above sea level at sunset seemed to make every step worth it. Big tip - make sure you take good solid walking shoes. I had bought fake Nikes from China Town in Kuala Lumpur and unfortunately they didn't last the distance!!

    After our hike we enjoyed hopping on over to Kuching in Sarawak and spending time relaxing the the traditional boat houses. It was nice to spend a few nights unwinding in luxury to ease our aching muscles. Kuching itself is also worth a look - the bustling waterfront is a great place to enjoy cheap local eats and a few beers. In the evening the river come alive with little stalls selling crafts and sweets which make good souvenirs to bring home with you.

    We travelled to Borneo in October - just before the start of the rainy season. Weather was warm but we did get some days of torrential rain. If I went to Borneo again I would probably try and travel between April and October to avoid the downpours!

    Published: 15 November 2013

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    • Where: Kerala, India
    • Who: kayley
    • When: April

    Following a 10 day trip in Rajasthan, we really wanted some Indian 'beach time' so decided to extend our trip by a week to visit Kerala.

    We visited in April which is the start of 'dry season' and enjoyed glorious sun and temperatures of 30 degrees every day. Kerala is a lot more relaxed than mainland India, the way of life is very slow and less frantic. We enjoyed having breakfast whist watching locals catch their fish for the day and then play footie on the beach for the next few hours before their afternoon siesta.

    Kerala is beautiful. Beaches are stunning and everywhere you look you see sandy beaches, canals, mountains and green hills. The food is amazing and their local curries are renowned. We loved their curries so much that we even ended up eating them for breakfast some mornings, polished down by local roti's and coconut smoothies!

    One thing everyone has to do in Kerala is experience life on a traditional house boat. We booked a one night trip on a private boat for two. It cost around £100 per person for the night but included all our food and drink plus our own private skipper and waiter! The backwaters themselves are stunning - it was a great way to finish our trip as there was nothing to do other than simply lie back on the boat in awe at the amazing scenery. The backwaters are so unspoilt and you really feel like you are stepping back in time and seeing a glimpse of real Kerala.

    One tip - take lots of mosquito repellant to Kerala. There is water everywhere and this combined with 30 degree heat makes mosquito's rife. I would go back to Kerala in a heart beat and this time would stay at least 2 weeks to really enjoy the islands relaxed pace.

    Published: 25 October 2013

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    • Where: Malaysia
    • Who: TiLi
    • When: May

    Malaysia is an incredible country! There is just so much to experience, but in short during my travels some of my absolute favourite places were Langkawi on the Malaysian Peninsula, its was boiling hot, the beaches, the atmosphere and the bars really made it a great place to party! We were even lucky enough to experience the bio-luminescence in the warm sea water - so amazing a glowing green when you move around in it!

    We stayed a few days on the Perhentian Islands, complete opposite of Langkawi, very quiet, beautiful beaches, Coral Bay beach was the perfect place to wind down. You can dive here, and there is an incredible shipwreck to investigate, almost still intact, very eerie.
    You can't visit Malaysia without enjoying KL, great shops, great service, really inexpensive for haircuts and massages if you've been travelling and need one! The Petronas towers are a really awesome sight.

    Next, the island of Mabel which most people visit for the diving, and so did I. Truly fantastic diving but I was really disappointed that such a lovely Island was so unkempt and full of smelly rubbish and stray dogs.

    I went to lots of places along the way but the highlight for me was flying over to Bourneo to Kota Kinabalu to climb Mount Kinabalu. I'm not normally a hiker or trekker but I'm fairly fit which helps when you are trekking a 13000ft mountain! The experience is really once in a life time and the views are just simply breathtaking, see my picture. Take a tour and you'll be able to stay on the mountain and watch the sun rise, there is just nothing like it. I was there in May and the weather was perfect for the climb, obviously you need to wrap up but it was mild weather.

    I wasn't overly fond of the food here, but saying that when we managed to get to nicer eateries in towns I really enjoyed some delicious food even if I was dubious about what exactly was in it sometimes!

    Published: 11 March 2013

    • Where: Nicaragua
    • Who: Luca
    • When: April

    Absolutely amazing country! Cheap, cheerful and full of delicious rum.
    We began our journey through Nicaragua in Managua. This is the capital and to be honest is just a big dirty city, like pretty much all central american capitals. We only stayed here for a day before deciding to do a big trip out to the Corn islands. It took three days to get there as we went by land. It was a really exciting adventure at the beginning, however, once we got to the pirate town of Bluefields we'd had enough. It hadn't stopped raining and we had to catch a 3 hour boat to the Corn Islands. In summer, or just generally when the sea is calm this could be pleasant and may only be 3 hours, however, it took us 6 hours and was absolute hell. People were throwing up everywhere. I wouldn't wish that boat trip on anyone in bad weather. Once we got to the Corn islands it was fantastic. One of the cheapest untouched Caribbean islands. It was magical; I definitely recommend it! Needless to say we flew back to Managua after a week at the amazing Corn Islands.

    We then moved onto Leon, where we caught up with some friends and went Volcano boarding (amazing!). This was a nice city, definitely worth visiting. we stayed at the Big Foot hostel.
    Next on the list was Grenada, which was an amazing little town. Lots of tourists though and lots of child prostitution which really disturbed us. Besides this it was a really nice place.

    From here we went onto the big lake, lake Ometepe. We stayed on the boob shaped islands for 3 days and went scootering around the islands. 3 days was enough as it was a bit boring.

    The best was yet to come. After the lake we went onto the border town called San Juan del Sur. This was by far my favourite. You could surf, fish and drink every night and it was soooo cheap. Definitely recommend this place.

    We ended up staying over a month in total in Nicaragua and it was amazing. Highly recommended!

    Published: 26 February 2013

    • Where: Peru
    • Who: crengifo
    • When: June

    Excellent experience visiting Peru for the first time, spent a month (June) visiting friends and family in Lima, Cusco, Tambopata, Lares and Iquitos. Classed as the 'winter' period in Peru, but temperatures stayed around 20'C and it rarely rained which is a good job as I come from Manchester.

    Travelled independently but also embarked on an organised trip which included Lima, Cusco, Aguas Calientes, the Lares Trek (the Inca Trails alternative), the historical sites (Macchu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Pisac and the Sacred Valley) and Tambopata (amazon jungle reserve). In hindsight buying each part separately would have worked out cheaper but this would have needed a lot of organising. Don't be put off if you can't book the Inca Trail (commonly sells out six months in advance), the Lares was wonderful, really rural, no other tourists and high!! (4600ft). At this time of the year it is cold though (-10'C!!) Macchu Picchu is a must, get to the bus station for 4-5am for the bus the time up there alone with less tourists is amazing - LEAVE BY MIDDAY! Remember that a guided, organised tour will be with 10-12 other people/couples who you are with a lot of the time!!

    Other highlights - pink dolphins in Iquitos, having a pisco sour in the old colonial british bar in Lima, the Lares thermal baths, clubbing with the locals in Cusco, the french restaurant run by nuns in Lima, the food you can eat around Miraflores and Lima notably 'La Mar' (for their delcious bloody mary with scallops in cocktail), the amazon rainforest at night, boat trips on the amazon, the swanky bars in Miraflores, llamas!!!

    Published: 31 August 2012

    • Where: Santa Marta, Colombia
    • Who: Casey2012
    • When: January

    Santa Marta is located in the north of Colombia, the main bonus is that the weather is nice and sunny pretty much all year round. The main areas to visit are Cartagena, Santa Marta (town), Taganga and Tayrona National Park as well as numerous beautiful towns and villages inbetween.

    Cartagena is probably the most popular with tourists on a budget to those looking for a high end holiday. Just walking around Cartagena is a wonderful experience, there are many street entertainers, little markets, lively bars and in general just a nice buzz about the place.

    Santa Marta town is a bit more of a local town but still has a great nightlife and a good base for visiting the surrounding areas. From there you can catch a 'colectivo' little minibuses that the locals use to Ronda for a swim in the rivers with the locals or to El Rodadero for a swim in the sea or a nice relaxing day on the beach.

    Taganga is by far my most favourite place in Colombia. It consists of one main street full of restuarants, cafes and bars selling lots of fresh food especially fish. A lot of the roads are just rubble which just adds to it's chararter. The community feel in this village is hard to describe unless you go and I would highly recommend a visit. During the day it is very relaxing and walking to some of the other beaches is a must but make sure to bring water. Locals and tourists mix during the evening either over a mouth watering local meal or dancing salsa in the clubs followed by live music on the beach.

    Last but not least is Tayrona, words can not describe the beauty of this place, it is like looking at a postcard. Staying in the park is not exactly luxury but worth it, during the walk to each campsite there is lots of nature and animals to see.

    My top tips, try Redds (alcoholic flavoured beer) & papas rellenas (filled potatoes)

    Published: 16 August 2012

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