Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Next adventure: Kilimanjaro

A few months ago I met a girl from NY that told me about the great adventure of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. I got interested on the topic, since she mentioned that it was the best adventure of her life, and I would like to share with you my findings. Who knows, you might be interested in joining me on my next adventure!

Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa, the highest 'walkable' mountain in the world, but as incredible as it sounds,
it doesn't require neither technical skills nor climbing experience; anybody in a good health and in a good physical shape can climb it.

There are 6 routes to choose from:

Marangu Route:

This route has a moderate slope, making it less difficult to climb. It is the most popular way up Kilimanjaro, and is the only route with emergency evacuation service. Also, it is the only route with huts, having dormitory and dining rooms.

Machame Route:

This is the second most popular route, and it is considered the most beautiful route up Kilimanjaro.The different kinds of vegetation found along the route make it the most scenery route.

Western Breach Route:

This is the most difficult route up Kilimanjaro. With gradual ascend through the forest you emerge to see wide views of the moorland on Shira plateau, Kibo and Western breach.

UMBWE Route:

This is the steepest route up or down Kilimanjaro, thus those few people who use this route do use this route to descend rather than ascending. The route also offers scenery.

Lemosho Route:

This is another difficult route up Kilimanjaro with more day of acclimatization.Lemosho route needs you to be accompanied by armed ranger as you might encounter wild buffalo/ elephant on your first two days of trekking.

Rongai Route:

The Rongai route is much drier than the southern routes. Elephants and colubus monkeys can be found on the way. As the ascent continues, climbers can enjoy spectacular views over the immense Masai plains of Kenya.

For any of the routes you need between 7 to 8 days to get to the peak, it's just a decision of how fit you are and if you want to take the easy or the tough route. In my case, I prefer the Machami route because it's not the easiest but is not the toughest either and also, it's considered to be the most beautiful one.

Now I have a plan for next year's vacation!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A day in London...

With a wealth of culture, history and attractions, London has plenty of options to offer a visitor. The purpose of this blog is to give the reader an idea of what to visit if he only have one day to spend in this amazing city.

Let's start by grabbing an English breakfast tea before taking the tube heading to the Tower of London, the famous fortresses that has served as a royal palace, royal prison, armoury and a even a zoo. Two of the main attractions here are the incredible collection of the Crown Jewels and the Beefeaters.

Now we are heading to Buckingham Palace, this palace serves as both the office and the London residence of Her Majesty the Queen, as well as the administrative headquarters of the Royal Household. It is one of the few royal palaces in the world that it's still in use, therefore you need to check in advance if it's not in use when you plan to visit.

After spending a few hours at the Palace you can stroll down the garden and relax a bit before catching the double decker that will take you to our third destination of the day; Picadilly Circus.

After so much walking it is now time to enjoy lunch at a traditional English Pub, you can't leave London without tasting its famous "fish and chips" There are plenty of pubs to choose from around Picadilly Circus.

After a good meal, it's time to experience "London Eye", the wheel design was used as a metaphor for the end of the 20th century and time turning into the new millennium.
From each capsule you can enjoy breathtaking views of London's landmarks and on a clear day you can see as far as 40 KM in all directions.

Before the day ends, I recommend choosing from the vast list of theater plays and musicals taking place in London.

There will always be something that attracts your attention. It could be Les Miserables, Mamma Mia, Chicago, Wicked, Oliver or The Phantom of the Opera. The options are wide, the difficult task is to decide which one to attend.

Hope you enjoy your day in London!

Viva La France!

France is the most visited country in the world. It has everything that a tourist could ask for; great food, amazing wines, beautiful beaches, interesting monuments, awesome museums, and the list could go on and on.....

Even though Paris, the City of Light, and its surroundings are the most visited, there are other regions that can also take your breath away...
In the north, Brittany and Normandie have sandy beaches and little harbour towns. Mont Saint Michel is an islet off the coast of Normandy that is home to an abbey from the 11th century that was also used as a prision during the French Revolution.

In the east, Alsace, Lorraine and Burgundy have beautiful cities such as Strasbourg and Dijon. This region is well know for its production of wines, including magnificent pinot noirs and chardonnays. At the center of France we can find the Loire Valley, with its many great castles: Angers, Chambord, Chenonceau, and its charming towns. And we can't forget to mention Chartres with its famous cathedral.

To the south; the French Riviera , Cote D'Azur, has one of the most beautiful seafronts of the Mediterranean Coast. Nice and Marseille are a top destination for visitors during summer. From Nice you can enjoy a day trip to the elite city of Monaco to test your luck on one of its famous casinos while there's a chance you can spot a celebrity.

There's no doubt that with a limited time destined to vacation and all the options available in France, it could be difficult to decide which region to visit. Rest assure that anyone you chose will have its charm and you will not be dissapointed... Bon Voyage!!!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Final Destination: Santiago de Compostela

A few months ago I had the opportunity to visit Spain and walked more than 500 km's across the country following St. James Way.

It's amazing how you can literally walk across Spain just following the yellow arrows that guide you from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela and the great thing is that you don't even need a map...

The St. James Way is a collection of old pilgrimage routes wich cover all Europe and have Santiago de Compostela as a final destination where St. James' remains rest at the Cathedral. During most years about 100,000 people walk this "Camino" for different reasons; some do it as a way to get on touch with nature and to meditate about their lives, others do it as a fitness challenge and others just to meet friends. I can tell you that even if you do it for just one particular reason, at the end of the journey you find out that the other reasons also make an appearance...

Walking trough different regions in Spain; La Rioja, Castilla Leon, and Galicia, to name a few, gives you a taste of the vast culture and gastronomical richness that the country has to offer. It is definitely a totally different experience to drive by the towns along the Camino compared to walk trough them with all the time in the world to stop and explore them at your leisure. Walking trough amazing forests, smelling the sweet scent of lavender fields, and listening to the sound of water running through rivers are memories that will last forever on my mind.

it's the journey that counts, not the destination...

Buen Camino!