Top Destinations for your Summer Escape!
Take that Vacation at These TOP Summer Destinations
As the school yards clear out, and the flower blooms start to burst, it’s time for that much anticipated season . . . Summer Vacation! You worked hard through the holidays, and made it through the muddy spring, so it’s time for some much needed time off. Only one question remains. Where to go? We’ve put together our Top 5 Destinations for summer fun. From ideal weather, fantastic annual events, and breathtaking locations, one of these destinations is bound to be on your To-Do list.
Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia: Treasures of South America
Melt into a tour of South America’s treasures. Starting in Ecuador, take a tour of the fantastic city of Quito. Visit the old churches and cathedrals, which radiate beauty and intricate décor. Visit the recently restored 24 De Mayo Boulevard, named after the battle which sealed Ecuador´s independence, followed by La Ronda Street that will give you a sense of traditional Quito. Finish the tour with a visit to the Equator monument, and stand at the intersection of the sphere’s surface! After your dose of Quito, jump to the heart of evolution, and visit the Darwinian finches in the Galapagos. From the blue-footed boobies, to the roaring seal lions, cruise through the islands that defined evolution, and bask in the sun and views. After this, hop down south to the capital of Peru. Take a city tour of the historic center of Lima, and get a sense of Peruvian history from the beautiful buildings and museums. From here, you’ll transfer to Cusco, and acclimate for a day before you take a train to the majestic Machu Picchu. The train will take you through the Sacred Valley of the Incas up to the town of Aguas Calientes, where you will then board a bus to see the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. The journey continues to Bolivia in La Paz, the highest capital in the world at 12,000 feet. You will visit the Uyuni salt flats, which have one of the biggest salt lakes in the world, creating a truly unforgettable experience as they reflect the sapphire-blue Altiplano sky. You’ll finish the trip with a dip in the natural hot springs of Polque. Then fly home and brag about that South American tour you’ll never forget!
Guatemala and Belize: Combining Mayan History and Sandy Beaches
Combine the Central American wonders of Guatemala and Belize. Begin your tour in Guatemala, with a tour of Antigua. Having been the capital city of the Central American Spanish army for two centuries, take a walking tour of the area and relish in the colonial architecture and historical highlights. From here, enjoy a scenic boat ride across Lake Atitlán to Santiago, passing by the three impressive volcanoes of Toliman, Atitlan, and San Pedro. Once you arrive, take a tour to visit the home of the Mayan God Maximon, see the local shaman performing rituals for the townspeople, and visit the local church and markets that illustrate the Mayan history and influential art. After a transfer back to Guatemala City, take a flight to Flores, to explore the splendor of the Maya City of Tikal. One of its largest buildings is the Temple of the Two-headed Serpent, which measures up to 70 meters high. From its peak, one can perceive the sounds of the rain forest: more than 300 species of birds, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and toucans. Enjoying the fantastic Mayan Ruins? Well hop across the border to San Ignacio, Belize. Visit the Xunantunich Mayan Site, a major ceremonial center, and one of the country’s larger excavated sites. Here you will also visit the Belize Zoo, full of indigenous species not easily seen in the jungle; birds, cats, crocodiles, monkeys, etc. Continue to Belize City, to see the Altun Ha Maya site, and major hub for Mayan ceremony and trading. Ready for some rest and relaxation? Take a flight over to San Pedro, and enjoy the fabulous beaches of Ambergris Caye. Take a snorkel tour to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, enjoy the local Belizean cuisine, and sit under that cabana with a margarita! What better way to end the perfect summer vacation.
Incredible Indonesia: Bali and Sulawesi
There’s nothing like slipping into the blue waters of the Bali coast. Begin your trip with a journey into a rural Balinese town, to visit local homes and farmers. Have breakfast hosted by a friendly native family, and then learn more about Subak, the traditional irrigation system; the process of growing, harvesting, and even cooking the rice. Visit Pura Kehen, a temple surrounded by myth and mystery, and then continue to Kintamina, where you will enjoy lunch overlooking Mount Batur; an active volcano with the picturesque Lake Batur in its crater. Then it’s off to the coast! Enjoy the fantastic Bali beaches, and explore the area. Several excursions including an island cruise or cooking class can be added to your stay. From here, take a hop, skip, and a jump over to Ujung Pandang, the capital of South Sulawesi. Tour the villages of Tana Toraja where you will see Tongkonan houses with their boat-like roof and get a glimpse into the daily life of a culture untouched by the outside world. Visit Lemo, a Unesco World Heritage Site and possibly the most well-known Toraja burial site. Here the burial chambers of high-ranking deceased are cut into the cliffs, and well-dressed wooden effigies are placed along the balconies. Visit Suaya, the royal graves of the Seventh King, and the Londa burial caves to really experience the Sulawesi historical culture. Finish your journey with a visit to the mountainous region of Batutumonga, and then Marante, where you will find the famous ‘hanging graves.’ Although slightly eerie, the coffins, skulls, and bones are placed to celebrate life, so embark on one of the most interesting sites in Indonesia. Now that’s quite a combo!
Kenya and Tanzania: Tap into the Great Migration!
Can you imagine seeing millions of wildebeests, zebras, and gnus descend on the Mara plains with predators close behind? Why not see it in person! Between the months of July and October, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t check Kenya and Tanzania off the list to see the ‘great migration.’ Start by staying in a safari lodge in Amboseli. Amboseli is considered one of Kenya’s most scenic parks. Famous for their elephants, make sure to explore the bush with several night game drives, and day tours of the area. Try and spot those nocturnal critters, including aardvarks, several cats, caracals, bat-eared foxes and African wild cats. From here, it’s finally off to the main event. Pack your bags, and transfer to the rolling plains of the Masai Mara Game Reserve. One of the “Seven New Wonders of the World”, over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Over the course of several days, enjoy day excursions that will expose you to the vast population of Wildebeests, swarming the plains. Look out for other native beasts that will be roaming, including lions, elephants, and giraffes. See the sunset over the reserve during the night drives, and share stories by the campfire following delectable dinners. Continue being in awe of this annual event by seeing the other side of the stretch. Pack up and fly to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Start by taking a tour of the mesmerizing Ngorongoro Crater and Highlands, before transferring to the Serengeti. Upon arrival to the bustling reserve, jump immediately into an afternoon game drive, and see those at the end of the migration train. With several days of exciting tours, and evening rides, be exhilarated by everything the Serengeti has to offer. Now book that trip, and watch the Wildebeest roam!
Sri Lanka: There’s nothing like the Kataragama Festival
Check South-East Asia off your list, and head to the splendor that is Sri Lanka. The beginning of the summer marks the end of the monsoon season, so the ideal travel time lands during the end of July into August. With this, you’ll be exposed to the most mesmerizing festival of this orient region; the Kataragama Festival. This primarily Hindu pilgrimage draws thousands of devotees during this two week period. Parading at night, the streets are full of acrobatic dancers, lavishly dressed elephants, and spirited musicians. Travel to Kandy, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, and expose yourself to the charms of the area. Visit the Royal Botanical Center, showcasing over 4,000 species of flora. From here, dive into the festivities. Watch as the canine tooth of the Lord Buddha is paraded down the street at night, which is illuminated by bright lights, and brilliant décor. Built up for 45 days before the main event, Kandy is filled with a fervor of enthusiasm. After the festival madness, head towards Colombo, and stop at the Asiatic Elephant orphanage of Pinnewala. The orphanage was created for those elephants abandoned by their parents, and cannot be reintroduced to the wild. Visit the adorable creatures, as they love to entertain their guests! From here, it’s off to the Sinharaja Rain Forest, the least disturbed and biologically unique lowland rain forest remaining in Sri Lanka. It is a treasure trove of endemic species including trees, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Explore the forest on foot with a local trekker, and wave hello to the purple faced leaf monkey. Vibrant festivals, plush rain forests, and elephants . . . what else could you ask for?