Endless summer: Year-round warm-weather destinations

By Arran Wallace

With the June solstice firmly behind us, summer is gradually drawing to a close. The nights are getting longer, and the weather is getting colder, causing many of us to daydream of a summer that never ends. Wouldn't that be lovely? Imagine it—warm weather in December instead of bracing yourself against whipping winds, sub-zero temperatures, and heavy snowstorms. While it's not possible to bring the warm beach weather of the Caribbean to a Midwest winter, you can escape the cold and snow.

Head out to one of these warm vacation spots from November through February, as these places boast year-round warm temperatures and sunny weather!

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Fundadores Park on Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Photo courtesy of MissTourist.com

In Mexico, the Riviera Maya can be found on the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in the Caribbean, and is a popular location for both locals and tourists. The region boasts a low tropical climate, with mean annual temperatures ranging from 75 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and the jungles and beaches one expects from the Caribbean.

Popular activities include swimming with dolphins, jet skiing, and scuba diving, as you might expect, but the region is also home to some incredibly preserved Mayan ruins. History buffs and culture vultures will love a visit to Tulum on the coast or Chichen Itza, which is two hours inland. The area is serviced by the Cancún International Airport, with many direct flights from the U.S.

Central Valley, Costa Rica

One of the many waterfalls in La Paz Waterfall Gardens in Costa Rica.
Photo courtesy of Costa Rica Guide.

Costa Rica's Central Valley, where the capital of San José is, has a tropical wet and dry climate, and average temperatures vary very little, with averages of 71 degrees Fahrenheit in October and 75 degrees Fahrenheit in April. The result is an incredibly fertile terrain, teeming with lush jungles, winding rivers, and impressive volcanoes, making it one of the best vacation spots for trekking and adventure.

Visitors can explore the rainforests and mountains by hiking, rafting, zip-lining, and taking an aerial tram above the tree canopy. Meanwhile, the city of San José offers a variety of urban and cultural activities. This is likely the first port of call for most visitors, with the Juan Santamaría International Airport just 12 miles west.

Santa Barbara, California

Tall palm trees in Santa Barbara, California.
Photo courtesy of The Blonde Abroad.

As you might expect from southern California, temperatures in Santa Barbara are pleasant throughout the whole year. Even during winter, from November to March, temperatures can climb up into the 60s in the afternoon—the perfect, warm, beach weather for barefoot walks on the sand, albeit perhaps a little too brisk for a dip in the sea for all but the very brave!

During the summer, visitors can rent out paddleboards, kayaks, and bikes to explore Butterfly Beach and the harbor. Visiting in winter, you can avoid the crowds and go shopping on State Street or visit the bohemian Funk Zone, with its art galleries and boutiques. Once you work up an appetite, there are dozens of unique eateries to satisfy your cravings, including everything from Japanese to Mexican cuisine.

Canary Islands, Spain

The incredible Mount Teide, an active volcano on Tenerife, one of Spain's Canary Islands.
Photo courtesy of Rough Guides.

Spain's Canary Islands, located off the western coast of Morocco, have a subtropical and desert climate, which is regulated by the ocean winds, The end result is mild temperatures all year round, with a low of 65 degrees Fahrenheit in January and a high of 76 degrees Fahrenheit in August—making these islands one of the best beach vacations in Europe at any time of the year.

There are seven islands in total, and all boast sublime beaches and the opportunity go scuba diving, whale watching, and sky diving for a unique view of the islands. On the island of Tenerife, though, is where you will find Teide National Park and Mount Teide, Earth's third tallest volcanic structure.

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Simonsberg Mountain in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Photo courtesy of Adventurous Kate.

The coolest and wettest entry in our list, nor strictly a land of endless summer, Stellenbosch still boasts warm weather in December, January, and February, due to its location in the southern hemisphere. Located to the east of Cape Town in South Africa, Stellenbosch is famous for being the main wine region of South Africa, and as such, visitors flock from all around the world to visit the vineyards and wineries to sample their wares.

Don't like wine? Not to worry! There are two nature reserves nearby, Jonkershoek and Jan Marais, both of which offer hiking and mountain biking routes, as well as fantastic spots for games with the family or romantic picnics. The more adventurous will enjoy Pete's Adventure Farm, where you can go ATVing, do some horseback riding, or try your hand at archery. Giraffe House is home to—you guessed it—giraffes and other animals, making it a great option for a day out with the family.

Bangkok, Thailand

Chatuchak Market, one of the largest in the world, located in Bangkok, Thailand.
Photo courtesy of The Crazy Tourist .

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is one of the best vacation spots in winter, boasting average temperatures of 80 degrees Fahrenheit in these months. In fact, the temperature barely changes all year, and its seasons can be divided into three—hot, rainy, and cool—although their cool is our hot! The city itself is famous for its incredible nightlife, fantastic street food, and as a base to explore the beaches on the Gulf of Thailand, where you can go whale watching and scuba diving.

Other attractions in the city include the fascinating Grand Palace and nearby, the Wat Pho Buddhist Temple, which is home to a 46-meter-long, gold-plated, reclining Buddha statue. The best way to get around is by taking a "sky train," where you can see Bangkok from a height in the comfort of an air-conditioned carriage. If possible, try to visit between April 13-15, when Songkran, or Thai New Year's, is celebrated. The whole city breaks out into a huge water fight! It's not just a way to keep cool, even though it definitely helps; the tradition comes from the Buddhist belief that this will wash away any sins and bad luck.

Dahab, Egypt

Relax by the pool overlooking the sea in Castle Zaman in Dahab, Egypt.
Photo courtesy of Castle Zaman.

Dahab, Egypt, is located on the southeast coast of the Sinai Peninsula and has a hot desert climate. Tempered by the winds coming in off the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea, the city ends up having nice weather year-round. October is a great time to visit, as, by then, the highest temperatures have passed, and the town begins to cool. A whole world away from the chaos of downtown Cairo and the pyramids, Dahab is a mellow beach town on the backpacker trail and is famous for being one of the best diving spots in Africa.

In addition to scuba diving, you can also explore the land surrounding the town on horseback or by camel, giving you an insight into the local Bedouin culture, as they gallop through the desert canyons to drink traditional tea at an oasis. The area is also home to St. Catherine's Monastery, which was built upon the spot where Moses was said to have encountered the burning bush. As if that weren't enough, the monastery is found at the foot of Mount Sinai, the 7,497-foot mountain where the Ten Commandments were received by Moses.


Feeling inspired? Keep exploring on Glamping Hub to find where you're going to extend your summer!

Travel Guide: Maine

By Fred Jéquier

Maine, New England, is the most northeastern state in America, known for its rocky coastline, role in maritime history, and stunning areas of natural beauty, like the granite and spruce islands of Acadia National Park. Baxter State Park, one of 42 state parks in Maine, is a prime example of why "The Pine Tree State" is the perfect place to visit in any season—featuring the endpoint of the Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin, herds of moose, and a coastline dotted with candy-striped lighthouses, like the one at West Quoddy Head.

Getting there

Traveling to this part of New England, you'll have 18 different airports to choose, but there are five Maine airports in the state that are well connected to areas of interest. For those traveling from overseas, there are two international airports. Portland International Jetport is on the outskirts of the southern, coastal city of Portland—getting you to the coast in no time. Bangor International Airport is more centrally located, but it's still only 40 minutes by car, approximately, from the coast. It's also just 90 minutes from Baxter State Park!

The three remaining major airports are regional, with Bar Harbor Airport giving you easy access to Mount Desert Island, while Knox County Regional Airport is perched on the coast about an hour from Augusta, the state capital—where you'll also find the third regional airport, Augusta Airport. Be sure to double check the state if you plan on flying to Augusta; you don't want to end up in Georgia when you've been planning to get in some whale watching for your spring vacation!

Things to know before you go

When and where?

Maine is perfect for a visit all year round. Depending on what tickles your fancy, however, will help you determine the best time of year to go and where to base yourself for your getaway.

1. Summer fun

This is the only time of year with date-specific times to visit. The summer season kicks off on the 4th of July. This is when seasonal businesses are open and ready for the influx of visitors, which typically ends for the year on Labor Day.

Summer is the perfect time to head to one of Maine's astoundingly beautiful beaches. It's hard to believe, but Maine has more coastline than California—3,478 miles compared to California's 3,427—but its rugged, rocky, and pine covered coast only has 70 miles worth of sandy beaches, all of which are undeniably beautiful.

2. Fall foliage

When fall comes, New England is one of the best places to go and see the stunning autumnal colors, and Maine, is no exception. In fact, whether you head inland to Baxter State Park or stick to the shoreline around Rockford, you are guaranteed a beautiful stay during the fall.

The peak time to see the red, auburn, and golden leaves decorate the trees falls into a relatively small window. Typically, you have from the last week of September through the first couple of weeks in October, so be sure to make all of your travel arrangements sooner rather than later.

Photo taken by Vincent Mistretta Photography.

3. Winter wonderland

When the winds of winter come to Maine, they bring a mountain of snow, so now is the time to head inland and find a spot to ski and snowboard. With the ski season starting in mid-November and great ski resorts, such as Sunday River, Mt. Abram Ski Resort, Sugarloaf, and more, you'll have your pick of places to enjoy Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. In fact, Maine boasts a long ski season, some years not ending until May!

Photo from Visit Maine.

4. Whale watching

Around mid-April each year, Maine plays host to some seasonal residents. This is the preferred time of year for pods of whales and dolphins to visit the state, as the abundance of local waters are rich in sand eels, copepods, plankton, and fish—meaning you can head out on a whale-watching tour. Overlapping with the summer-fun crowd, both whales and dolphins tend to stay in residence until mid-October, when they start their migration south to warmer waters for the winter.

Photo from Dockside Guest Quarters & Restaurant.

Culture

1. Eating and drinking in Maine

Eating in Maine is a veritable treat. With the ocean playing such a big part in the state's tourism, it's hardly surprising that seafood is on most menus, especially fresh lobster. Maine is also famous for its blueberry pies, though, which have become so synonymous with Maine cuisine that, in 2011, the State Legislature designated blueberry pie as the official state dessert.

Maine also has its fair share of beverages to boast. In addition to a plethora of tasty New England IPAs that are brewed in the local breweries, other local specialties include a variety of apple ciders and Allen's Coffee Flavored Brandy, which is sure to give you a lift!

2. Festivals

Maine isn't just a destination for foliage followers, ski enthusiasts, or people wild about wildlife! When you're planning your trip, you should consider timing it to fit in one of the festivals held here. Whether you want to celebrate food and drink—and let's be honest, who could blame you?—, music and movies, or even the great outdoors, Maine has got you covered.

Maine Lobster Festival

Sadly, we've all missed this one for 2019, but as fate would have it, it'll be ready and raring to go again in 2020. Held in the coastal city of Rockland during the first weekend of August each year, this is the perfect opportunity for visitors to indulge in fresh lobster over a long weekend. After all, you can't go to Maine and not try one of its most famous exports!

Maine International Film Festival

Held over a 10-day period, the Maine International Film Festival will be returning to big screens from July 10-19, 2020. Boasting the best in American independent and international cinema, the festival also features work from up-and-coming filmmakers. If you're a real film buff, you'll love the chance to get involved in informal Q&As, as well as meet-and-greets with the directors, actors, and composers involved in making the movies.

Photo from Maine Insights.

Maine Lakes Winter Carnival

This annual winter carnival, which takes place each year in February in the idyllic Highland Lakes, is the perfect opportunity for you to enjoy a whole range of winter-based activities. Dog sledding, horse-drawn wagon rides, snow sculpting, and an ice fishing competition are all big parts of the festival, and there are also kid-friendly activities and events, as well. If you're feeling particularly brave, or you fancy yourself as the next Wim Hof, you can get involved in the charity polar dip, too!

Photo from Portland Press Herald.

Learn more about glamping in Maine in this interview with one of our hosts in White Mountain National Park, and continue your New England adventure with tips and advice in our blog about a fall-foliage road trip.

Top 10 luxury tents in Victoria, Australia

By Alexis Vega

Despite being the second smallest state in Australia, Victoria is huge when it comes to diversity of regions, outdoor recreation, attractions, and landscapes you have to see to believe. From great nature displays, such as The Twelve Apostles, Yarra Valley, and aboriginal landmarks, to iconic events, like the Australian Grand Prix, Victoria appeals to even the most demanding travelers and makes the perfect destination for an outdoor holiday.

Not just any holiday, though! We are talking luxury, glamour, and style in the great outdoors. Victoria plays host to some great glamping sites, like our top 10 favorite luxury tents, for you to experience nature without giving up any creature comforts. Just imagine sleeping under the stars, watching the sunset, or relaxing in the hot tub at one of these first-class properties! Keep reading to find out the best way to add some luxury to your next outdoor holiday in Victoria.

1. Eco-Friendly Tent in Phillip Island, Victoria

Located in a secluded setting on Phillip Island, this eco-friendly tent boasts off-grid solar power and energy-efficient utilities. Whether you're looking for a couple's getaway, or hoping to enjoy some peace and quiet with a small group of friends, this adorable rental is perfect. It is just 600 meters from one of the best surf breaks and secluded beaches on the island, and what’s more, if you stay here, you'll have the chance to see some of the unique wildlife that calls the area home.

2. Romantic Bell Tent near Stunning Beaches in Ventnor, Victoria

Offering extreme comfort and high-quality bedding, this bell tent is the perfect option for couples who wish to relax in style in one of the most beautiful locations in Australia. By picking this rental, you'll be able to enjoy long hikes exploring the incredible surrounding natural beauty, or visit one of the many wonderful wineries Victoria boasts for a day of tours and tastings.

3. Bell Tent with Breathtaking Views on Phillip Island, Victoria

Another great option for couples looking to enjoy a quiet holiday together is this bell tent in Ventnor on Phillip Island. An eco-friendly option, the hosts have ensured that you'll be comfy and cozy with a queen-size bed and plenty of high-quality bedding. In the surrounding nature, you will be able to try out a whole range of great outdoor adventures or spend days relaxing in your own private haven.

4. Bell Tent on the Ovens River in Porepunkah near Bright, Victoria

This brilliantly appointed bell tent is tucked away along the Oven River, just a short drive away from downtown Bright. With a solar-heated swimming pool and plenty of amenities, you will find it hard to leave the glamping site, but since it's ideally placed to enjoy both the great outdoors and some small-town recreation, you won't want to miss out on all this area has to offer!

5. Bell Tent near Daylesford in Victoria, Australia

With a charming interior boasting armchairs, a luxurious queen-size bed, as well as quality blankets, pillows, and throw rugs, this lovely bell tent near Daylesford is in the perfect spot to explore some truly stunning areas of natural beauty in Victoria. While the surrounding area is best known for its mineral springs, there are also several amazing parks and gardens to be explored. You can also enjoy a day in the city with a visit to Melbourne, which is under an hour's drive away.

6. Tent with a Private Chimenea in Inverloch, Victoria

This tent is set in the coastal town of Inverloch and offers an exceptional location for a beach getaway. The tent offers plush bedding and a seven-meter dock with a chimenea, as well as an outdoor campfire. Local attractions include Anderson Inlet, Bunurong Marine National Park, Eagles Nest, and Twin Reefs.

7. Beachfront Tent near Wilsons Promontory National Park in Yanakie, Victoria

Tucked away near the beach in Yanakie and just a 5-minute walk from the entrance to Wilsons Promontory National Park, this bell tent sleeps two guests and it’s tastefully decorated, making you feel comfy and cozy in a stylish setting. This rental is perfect if you want to spend your holiday sunbathing and swimming, as you'll be just a short stroll from the nearest beach.

8. Stylish Bell Tent for Two near Hepburn Springs in Victoria, Australia

This gorgeous property with a sleek interior is located near the town of Daylesford and can accommodate two guests. Daylesford is settled in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range of Victoria, so anyone staying here will have quick and easy access to some great areas of natural beauty. Hepburn Mineral Springs is just a stone's throw away and is well worth a visit during a stay at this spot.

9. Romantic Tent with Waterfront Views in Yanakie, Victoria

With views of the ocean on one side and stunning countryside on the other, this romantic glamping tent is located in Yanakie, and includes all the essentials for an unforgettable glamping adventure. Stay here, and you will find yourself within easy walking distance of the Yanakie boat ramp at Duck Point, and close to Wilsons Promontory National Park.

10. Romantic Bell Tents near Rosebud, Victoria

These stunning bell tent rentals can be found just outside of Rosebud, Victoria, in a beautiful rural setting. Each one of them comfortably sleeps two guests. The property lies on the Blue Ranges Estate, a vineyard sitting 200 meters above sea level that offers incredible panoramic views of Port Phillip Bay and the Bass Strait. These stunning vistas create the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway.


Book one of these deluxe tents in Victoria, and and start planning your Australian glamping adventure today!

Best pet-friendly places to stay to celebrate your pooch on National Mutt Day

By Arran Wallace

National Mutt Day, also known as National Mixed Breed Dog Day, is celebrated on both July 31 and December 2, because why have just one party in honor of dogs when you can have two? The day was created to raise awareness of mixed breed dogs in shelters that are constantly overlooked in favor of purebred dogs, despite mixed breeds making up almost 80% of the dogs in shelters.

While mixed breeds may not conform to neither Western society's nor the media's standards of beauty, they tend to be healthier, better behaved, and just as intelligent as, if not more than, pure breeds. And we, for one, think they're very cute—just have a look at two of our office dogs below!

Winston (L), whose breeds are unknown, and Croqueta (R), a Husky and German Shepherd mix.

To celebrate this fantastic day, we've put together a list of some of our favorite pet-friendly places across the U.S. so you and your dog can celebrate in glamping style.

Romantic and Pet-Friendly Safari Tent Rental in Woodlands of Olympia

This simply stunning safari tent for two in the woodlands of Olympia, Washington, is perfect for a romantic getaway—as long as that romantic getaway involves a third wheel with four legs. Located in the woods, but with the feel of a hotel suite, you'll never want to leave!

Pet-Friendly Cabin Rental near Eldora Mountain Ski Resort in Nederland, Colorado

This cute, little cabin for two is located just outside of Denver, Colorado, making it an easy-to-get-to option for a city break. Surrounded by the woodlands of the lower Rocky Mountains, your pooch will absolutely adore running around here, and afterwards, you can both snuggle up together to warm up after a full day of snowy activities.

Pet-Friendly Dome Rental near San Antonio, Texas

Located just outside San Antonio, Texas, this unique property can sleep up to four guests in an interesting dome structure, while offering an incredible location with many features to explore with Rover, such as the Guadalupe River State Park and City Lake. Both you and your dog are sure to have the time of your life!

Spacious Pet-Friendly Yurt in Smith River National Recreation Area, Northern California

This gorgeous yurt in California doesn't just look fantastic—it has so many great amenities, too! There's room for six guests to enjoy a wonderful vacation together, with a spacious lounge, fully-equipped kitchen, and a barbecue. There's even a private hot tub to sink into after a busy day. Unfortunately, the dog can't join you in the tub, but there's plenty of space for him or her to run around while you soak!

Pet-Friendly Cabin Rental in the Woods near Nauvoo, Illinois

This classic, all-American cabin in the woods is great for a getaway at any time of the year. It really comes into its own, though, when it's snowing outside, and there's a fire roaring away in the fireplace. Picture this—sitting in the armchair with a cup of cocoa, snowflakes falling outside, and your dog spread out in front of the fire, tired from a day of hiking. Pure bliss!

Authentic Pet-Friendly Tipi Rental with Gorgeous Nearby Pond in Bellevue, Idaho

This classic glamping accommodation in Idaho has a simply stunning interior and a wood-burning stove to keep things cozy. Not only are you able to explore Lookout Mountain and the Big Wood River while in the area, but your dog will also love meeting the farm animals on site, which include chickens, horses, goats, dogs, and cats.

Pet-Friendly Tiny House Getaway with an On-Site Dog Park near Waldport, Oregon

Although small, this tiny house in Oregon has everything that two guests need to enjoy a getaway together, but the best part of this rental are the social areas. There's a games room with a ping-pong table, a pool table, a dartboard, and various board games. In the evening, there's a barbecue and fire pit area to socialize around. Oh, there's also a dog park on-site and pristine beaches for morning walks at just five minutes away!

Pet-Friendly A-Frame Cabin in Arapaho National Forest in Breckenridge, Colorado

Surrounded on all sides by the Arapaho National Forest in Colorado, your dog will definitely feel at home bounding through the trees and up and down the hills. At the end of the day, everyone will love returning to the creature comforts of this A-frame cabin. Outside, there's a deck where you can enjoy the views with a drink, while inside, there is a large sofa with a TV for chilling out in the evening. There's even a dog bed, so Rover won't feel left out!

Pet-Friendly Camping Tent for a Getaway near Woodstock, Vermont

Located in a secluded spot in the woods of Vermont, this safari tent is perfect for those wanting to get back into nature. While furnished inside with a queen-size bed and a wood-burning stove, guests will surely be spending most of their time outside, either on the deck, at the picnic table, by the fire pit, or hiking with the furry one through the forest.

Pet-Friendly Cabin Rental with a Private Pond near Aspen Lake in Innsbrook, Missouri

With all the fantastic features on offer at this cabin just outside St. Louis, Missouri, you may never want to go outside! Rest assured, though, if you do—and let's be honest, there's no way your dog is letting you stay inside all day—you'll find plenty of places to explore, including Aspen Lake and the surrounding woodland, streams, and ponds. As the movie title says, "All dogs go to heaven," and given the location, your dog might just think that they have!

Pet-Friendly Safari Tent Getaway on a Small Farm near Pine Plains, New York

Located in Upstate New York, this secluded safari tent is perfect for a break from the city. Imagine waking up, pulling the tent doors open, inhaling the fresh country air, and watching your dog bound off into the greenery. Beats sleepily stumbling down flights of stairs to be greeted by a busy, traffic-filled street, doesn't it? There's even a hammock for you to chill out in while you watch your best friend explore the grassy space in front of the tent.


Can't adopt a mutt? No problem! You can still support them by donating to or volunteering at your local animal shelter! You can find the one nearest you on Pet Finder, ASPCA, or Adopt A Pet.

Top 10 winter glamping destinations near Melbourne

By Alexis Vega

When in the thick of winter from June to July in Australia, Melbourne rises up as one of the top cities to spend the cold season in. But why are winters in Melbourne so special? During winter, the city turns into a dreamland, where food festivals, art shows, and markets take place to invite Melburnians and visitors to stay active and have some fun during the season. Outdoor activities, such as skiing, ice skating, and bathing in natural hot springs, are also part of the reason Melbourne is the "Capital of Cool"—and the perfect destination for your winter holidays.

Where to stay

If visiting this amazing Australian city sounds like a plan, wait until you try winter camping here!
The following accommodations are 10 of our most extraordinary, eco-friendly, and glamorous rentals near Melbourne to make sure your stay will be one you'll never forget.

1. Eco-Friendly Villa near Daylesford

Located near Daylesford, Victoria, this eco-friendly villa accommodates up to 15 guests in five, perfectly decorated bedrooms. Large groups will enjoy the spaciousness of two living rooms and a fully-equipped kitchen, where breakfast is served every morning. Outside, you can explore five acres of gardens, enjoy the private, cedar hot tub, and participate at the on-site activities studio, where the hosts run workshops and classes.

2. Luxury Cottage in Yering

This luxurious cottage is located in Yering at a nature reserve in the heart of the Yarra Valley. Accommodating up to four guests, the cottage features two rooms, one bathroom, and a cozy living room with a fireplace—making this cottage perfect for a family getaway. The surrounding valley is not only home to kangaroos, echidnas, and wombats that can be seen wandering around the property, but also to vineyards, wineries, chocolateries, and ice cream shops, which are all within 10 minutes by car.

3. Log Cabin in Woodlands of Yarra Valley

Tucked in the woodlands of the Yarra Valley, this log cabin can comfortably accommodate up to six guests amid its three, beautifully designed bedrooms. Outside, an ample open deck—complete with a covered dining area and a luxurious hot tub—features views of the expansive fields and beautiful scenery that surround the cabin, where wombats and wallabies can be spotted.

4. Oceanfront Cabin with Private Beach in Bass

Uniquely designed to accommodate up to six guests, this vacation rental is located in Bass and boasts panoramic oceanside views, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors. This modern cabin has three bedrooms and two living rooms, in addition to a sunny deck, where you can watch the sun rise and set or simply just relax. The best part? There's a private stretch of beach that sits on the property that's all yours to use!

5. Unique Cave in Gippsland Region

Set in the Gippsland region of Victoria, this unique cave is the perfect location for a getaway for two—offering up luxurious decor and a wood-burning fireplace to create a cozy and romantic atmosphere. You and your significant other are sure to enjoy this carved-in-the-hills accommodation and its surrounding dams, creeks, bushland, and native wildlife.

6. Vibrant Barn near Moondarra State Park

This unconventional, yet magnificent, barn is located near Moondarra State Park and accommodates up to five guests. It comes with all the essentials for a fantastic stay, including a delicious breakfast every morning! The barn also features a rustic patio with a barbecue and great views of the green fields that surround the property—an ideal choice for those who seek the peace and serenity that nature provides!

7. Stylish Bell Tent near Daylesford and Hepburn Springs

Located near Daylesford and Hepburn Springs, this stylish bell tent welcomes two guests, with its charming interiors and luxurious furniture and amenities. The property is close to the aforementioned, well-known mineral springs, as well as Wombat State Forest, which makes it an ideal spot for those who want a romantic getaway with plenty of opportunity for outdoor adventures.

8. Peaceful Cabin near Mount Toolebewong

This gorgeous eco-friendly cabin is located in Mount Toolebewong and can comfortably accommodate up to two guests. You're sure to love the six large skylights that let in plenty of natural light, as well as the ample deck, from which you can enjoy the views of the forest. The cabin is a TV- and Wi-Fi-free space so you'll have no trouble at all disconnecting from your phone and reconnecting with nature.

9. Luxurious Tree Houses in Rainforest of Olinda

This luxury tree house hotel offers one-bedroom accommodations for two that are the perfect rental for a couple's getaway. The site is situated on two hectares of rainforest and fern gullies in Olinda, Victoria, which can be admired from the comfort of your bed—thanks to the windows in the vaulted ceiling—and the private balcony.

10. Secluded Pod in Healesville

Winer of the 2018 RACV Victorian Tourism Awards for unique accommodation, this glamping pod in Healesville comfortably accommodates two guests. Tennis courts, a pool, and a heated spa are all available for you to enjoy on-site, while off-site, bird watching is a popular pastime in the area.


To book one of this fantastic accommodations, click here! For more stunning accommodations in Victoria, check out our curated collection!

Extreme adventure travel: The Haute Route

By Fred Jéquier

Photo from Wilderness Travel.

When we think of the Alps, we normally think of skiing, snowboarding, and snow-covered mountains, but winter is not the only time to enjoy this stunning mountain range. Once the ski season has wound down for the year, it's time to get out the mountain bikes and boards or pull on your hiking boots.

The Haute Route is the perfect way to explore great swathes of the Alps. It gives any intrepid explorer the chance to combine both hiking and mountaineering without having to emulate career climbers and free soloists, like Alex Honnold, or ultra athletes, like Anton Krupicka—all while giving visitors to the region a comprehensive tour of this incredible mountain range.

Photo from Alex Honnold.

What is the Haute Route?

The Haute Route is a trekking expedition through the French and Swiss Alps that was first traversed in 1861 by climbers making their way to climb the Matterhorn. Over the years, the route has been perfected, and it is now a network of well-marked and signposted trails that lead travelers through valleys and mountain paths to mountain huts, small inns, and hotels in the idyllic villages and towns dotted along the way.

The expedition is a safe way to enjoy a mountaineering trip that doesn't require ropes, crampons, or specialized devices, but still remains challenging, due to the daily elevations and distances—all of which are achievable for anyone with a decent fitness level.

Photo from Nanuk Experience .

Starting in Chamonix, France, the route takes hikers over the swiss border, ending in Zermatt, just under a fortnight later. Taking part in this trip will not only give you the chance to explore some beautiful Alpine towns, but you will also get the chance to see Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn in all their glory.

The hike will take you from altitudes of 1,800 meters to almost 3,000 meters over the course of the expedition. You'll get to enjoy a front row seat to Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn; explore valleys, lakes, and glaciers; try some great local food; and learn about the region's history and culture.

Photo from Pinterest .

Who to go with

With a trip of this caliber, you're going to want to go with a guide who knows the route like the back of their hand and has a wide range of experience leading expeditions. There are various tour companies that offer great experiences and differing packages, depending on the wants and desires of the adventurer signing up to get involved in some Alpine trailblazing.

1. Wilderness Adventure

Wilderness Travel is one such company, with numerous veteran guides when it comes to leading an expedition. In addition to their Alpine adventure, Wilderness Travel has packages available all over the world, catering to all adventuring tastes and abilities.

Their Haute Route package, starting at $5,995, covers accommodation and all but two meals over a 12-day period. If this hike isn't challenging enough, the more intrepid explorer can also opt for their bespoke, Great Alpine Traverse, that will take you from Chamonix in France, through Switzerland, northern Italy, southern Germany, and finally to the historic city of Salzburg, Austria.

2. Alpenwild

Alpenwild specializes in trips and treks through the Alps. They also have a variety of packages available to their clients, each one offering differing difficulty levels and the option of either guided or self-guided treks.

The full, guided option will get you an all-inclusive experience. For $4,595, you'll get picked up at Geneva Airport, transported to Chamonix, and you'll have a guide leading the group for the full 11-day trip, followed by transportation from Zermatt to Geneva on the final day. All accommodations and meals, minus drinks and gratuities, are also included.

The self-guided option, starting from $2,895, also provides transportation to and from Geneva Airport, along with 13 nights in hostels, huts, and inns. Buffet breakfasts in each of the accommodations are available. Nine evening meals are also included, but you'll need to find a spot to eat in Chamonix, Verbier, and Zermatt, which will be easy enough. All three towns have a wide variety of restaurants and bars to choose from, so your only dilemma will be choosing between them all.

Alpenwild also provide you with all the information, maps, and documents you will need to complete the trip, including detailed route directions, basic trail maps, hotel contact information, train and bus schedules, and nearby emergency medical contacts.

What to bring

It goes with out saying, a trip like this requires a specific packing list. While you can leave your climbing ropes and crampons at home for this one, there are certain things that you should remember to put into your rucksack before catching your flight to Geneva. Here are just a few suggestions for your Haute Route adventure!

1. Hiking boots

It may seem like an obvious one, but there's never any harm in a small reminder. You're going to be hiking over some tough, albeit stunning, terrain, so a sturdy boot is vital. The better boots on the market offer support for your foot while also ensuring you don't roll your ankle if you step on loose rocks and turf. If you're buying new boots specifically for your trip, make sure you wear them in first to avoid blisters and discomfort on your trek.

Photo from Blacks.

2. Foot care products

When you reach your accommodation each night, the first thing you're going to want to do is unwind with a hot shower or a relaxing bath. Once you've washed away the day, make sure your feet are looked after well. Using moisturizing creams will help, but it doesn't stop there. Before you get going in the morning, make sure to use the same creams; mycota powder, which contains zinc undecylenoate and undecylenoic acid; and anti-rubbing tape in the areas you are susceptible to getting blisters in—all of which will ensure your feet don't go through undue trauma along the way.

Photo from Andrew Skurka.

3. A lightweight jacket

Yes, you are going in the summer, but it's still a mountain range! There's no denying there will be days when you're more comfortable with just a fleece or even a t-shirt, but when you're up to nearly 3,000 meters, staring the mountains in the face, you'll be grateful you packed a quality, lightweight jacket.

The Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket is a good option—light, yet warm, and water-resistant, it is easy to pack, and you'll definitely use it after your trip. Made from a 100% recycled polyester ripstop shell and lining fabric, the jacket zips to the neck, ensuring full body coverage. Although on the more expensive end of the spectrum, this will last you for years, making it a worthwhile investment.

Photo from Patagonia.

How to prepare

You've booked your trip, and you've bought your equipment, but you can't rest on your laurels now! While the Haute Route is doable for both rookies and mountaineering veterans, you'll still need to prepare your legs for what's about to come.

Photo from Pinterest .

1. Running

Going running several times a week is great preparation. You're not just strengthening your legs; you're also improving your cardio and lung function. You're not preparing for a marathon, so a five-kilometer run in the park two to three times a week should be enough.

2. Head to the gym

Going to the gym can be a bit of a drag, but some upper body work will help strengthen you up for carrying a backpack up mountain paths for a couple of weeks. While you're there, why not spend some time on a stair stepper, too? After all, a large portion of each day is going to be spent going up hill, so a few sessions will strengthen your joints before your adventure.

3. Hike before you hike

In the same way that the best way to prepare for a marathon is to run, the best way to prepare for a hiking holiday is to go hiking. You can pick some spots close to home, and once a week or so, head out and stomp up hills, through forests, and along footpaths for a few hours.

Again, as with running, you don't need to head out on a hobbit-sized quest, but getting your feet used to the idea of extended walking will only make it easier when you're halfway up a mountain path. It's also a great opportunity to break in those new hiking boots, as well!


Caught the hiking bug? Check out this blog for incredible places to hike and suggestions of places to stay on your next extraordinary adventure!

Where to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing

By Mikaela Amundson

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." - Neil Armstrong

It's been 50 years since the United States put a man on the moon and this month of July will mark some extraordinary events for history and astronomy lovers alike! Five decades after the "Eagle" landed, mankind still looks to the sky in awe like they have for thousands of years. We love any excuse to get outside and bask in the awesomeness of nature, so let's honor this momentous leap that was taken in 1969 and where the space frontier will take us next!

Keep reading to find out where to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Apollo 11 astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, walks on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969,
in a photograph taken by Neil Armstrong.
Photo courtesy of History HD.

U.S. celebrations

Alabama

At the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, otherwise known as “Rocket City," the whole area is celebrating its integral role in developing and building the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo Moon mission. There will be a whole week of events, including music performances, moon landing reenactments, and even an attempt to break a Guinness World Record by launching 5,000 model rockets simultaneously.

Photo courtasy of Nasa on Unsplash.

Washington, D.C.

D.C. is home to world-class museums, and the National Air and Space Museum is no exception. Their celebration of Apollo 50 will feature special, hands-on exhibits, an outdoor festival, and a chance to see Neil Armstrong's suit on display for the first time in 13 years.

The celebrations here culminate with a late-night party called, “The Eagle Has Landed," at 10:56 p.m. on July 20 to mark Armstrong’s first step onto the moon. The D.C. celebration focuses a lot on President Kennedy's leadership and promotion of the U.S. Space Program, which makes for a great history element to this event!

Portland

At the OMSI, a.k.a. the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, they're hosting a block party for stargazers. At Rooster Rock State Park and Stub Stewart State Park, starting at 9 p.m. on July 20, you can see some sky highlights—Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, star clusters, and the gorgeous waning gibbous moon. This museum is always great, but it has a lot of extra special fun up its sleeve this week!

Ohio

What better place to celebrate Apollo 50 than in Neil Armstrong’s hometown of Wapakoneta? The Armstrong Air and Space Museum is hosting a week's worth of events, filled with celebrations of their most famous resident that include rocket launches, interactive museum exhibits, music events, a fun run, a gala, and more.

U.S. stargazing

Photo courtesy of Joshua Earle.

If you can't make it to any formal celebrations for Apollo 50, you're still in luck for a star-filled July! There is a fair amount of notable celestial activity expected throughout the month that you can read about here. Below, you'll find the ones we're most excited about!

  • July 13: Close Approach of the Moon & Jupiter
  • July 16: Partial Lunar Eclipse (North and South America can expect to see this eclipse in the dusk and night hours of July 16, while Europe, Asia, Africa, India, and Australia can expect the early morning and before dawn hours of July 17.)
  • July 21: Peak of the α–Cygnid Meteor Shower
  • July 29: Peak of the δ–Aquarid Meteor Shower
  • July 31: Peak of the Piscis Australid Meteor Shower

TV

If you can't get out to any moon events this year, be sure to check out NASA's special TV programming on Friday, July 19, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m EDT for their showing of "NASA’s Giant Leaps: Past and Future" to celebrate. The show will be coming to you live from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with segments in Houston, Huntsville, D.C., Ohio, and Seattle. You'll see Apollo memorabilia, anniversary celebrations, and hear from Apollo astronauts. Find the stream here on NASA's Apollo anniversary events page.

Outside of the U.S.

Europe

If you're not in the U.S. for this momentous, month-long space extravaganza, don't worry! We've got you covered with a few other places around the world that are known for their incredible nighttime views.

La Palma, Canary Islands

The northernmost island of the Canary Islands' seven main islands, La Palma is known for its incredible stargazing and has been named an UNESCO Starlight Reserve, in honor of the amazing celestial views you can catch there.

Hella, Iceland

This small town in South Iceland is known for not only amazing star views, but also the Northern Lights! It's one of the southernmost viewpoints for the Aurora Borealis, making it perfect if you're not quite prepared for the arctic cold.

Tuscany, Italy

The birthplace of the telescope is another spot well known for its stargazing. See the same stars Galileo did when he first looked to the heavens, and enjoy a dazzling display out in the Tuscan countryside.

You can find more details about these places, as well as some more European stargazing locations here.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Australia

There are some great spots for viewing the stars in Australia—its low light pollution and unique southern hemisphere placement make it a premier spot for star enthusiasts.

Parkes Telescope

At the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, you'll find the telescope that was watching when Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon in 1969. This spot offers great views, interesting exhibits, and activities for the whole family to explore the stars.

Gingin Observatory

In Western Australia, visit the Gravity Discovery Centre to find this observatory, which houses the world's largest radio telescope ever built. The dark skies, guidance from expert astronomers, and accessible telescopes make this a top-notch spot.

Sydney Observatory

Back in NSW, just outside the capital city of Sydney, this observatory can be found on a hill overlooking the harbor. The Sydney Observatory houses the oldest working telescope in Australia, which was originally built to view the Transit of Venus in 1874.

For more details about Australia stargazing, check out these resources here.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Check out more properties on Glamping Hub to find the perfect stargazing escape today!

Your guide to Greece in the summertime

By Eric Wright

As far back as 480 B.C, the rivaling city-states of Ancient Greece faced fierce power struggles from within, as well as the threat of slavery and death by distant tyrants with armies so massive they shook the ground. Throughout the passing centuries, the war-torn region experienced periods of conquest by the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires, who left footprints that would echo throughout eternity. From these complex political movements and often brutal confrontations, the influx of new technologies, engineering techniques, and precious materials allowed Greece to prosper into the multi-faceted culture we see today.

On March 25, 1821, Greece declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire and was officially recognized as a country in its own right, ushering in an age of freedom. Nowadays, the spellbinding history surrounding the aptly named cradle of Western civilization sees over 30 million visitors flock to its lands each year to soak up the rich historical legacy, as well as enjoy world-class beaches and a continental climate.

We've compiled the ultimate summertime guide to Greece, the legendary home of the gods of Greek mythology.

Before you go and good to know

Getting there and around

The busiest airport in Greece is in the capital of Athens. This international hub receives direct flights from most European cities; however, the airports in Santorini and Crete also run several flights throughout Europe.

As a country with thousands of hidden islands, the ideal way to travel to them once in Greece is by ferry, while taking in the epic coastlines along the way. One of the best sites to book ferries is Ferryhopper, which offers daily trips to the major ports scattered across the peninsula. Although tickets don't generally sell out, it is a good idea to book at least a few weeks in advance to give yourself some peace of mind while vacationing.

In terms of traversing the islands, there are several options. Renting a car from Athens and taking it on the ferry can be a handy way to avoid wasting time once the ferry arrives; however, all of the islands have affordable rental companies that offer scooters, buggies, ATVs, and bikes at a reasonable price, too.

Culture

Widely considered to be the birthplace of democracy and Western civilization, Greece's evolution has transformed the country into one that enjoys a captivating mix of both history and myth. With a tale that traverses the Bronze age and the classical, Roman, and Ottoman periods, the secluded islands and vast mainland of Greece offer a compelling insight into human history.

Start your own Herculean adventure by visiting the birthplace of civilization at the Acropolis in Athens and the throne of Zeus at Mount Olympus on the mainland, all before journeying across the horizon to the Minoan palaces of Knossos on the island of Crete.

Events

Photo courtesy of Why Athens.

A great way to discover the roots of the time of legend is by attending one of the diverse and vivacious events around the country every year. The Athens Epidaurus Festival takes place from June to August and showcases ancient drama, plays, ballets, operas, art exhibitions, and classical music concerts around several theaters in Athens.

Other popular summer festivals include Megaro Gyzi Festival in Santorini every August, with its traditional music and eclectic art exhibitions; Naxos Festival in the Cyclades, showcasing theater performances and art workshops between July and August; and Sani Festival in Halkidiki, which offers dance performances and painting exhibitions from July to September.

Food and drink

The Greek's intense pride in their history means that many of the dishes found in the charming restaurants nowadays very closely resemble those eaten decades, even centuries, ago. One such ancient dish is the absolutely delicious, sun-dried octopus. Found in most fish taverns across the remote islands, the octopus is first hung out in the sun for up to 24 hours before being charcoal grilled, seasoned with fresh lemon, and washed down with a generous glass of some local ouzo. Truly a meal fit for Zeus himself!

Other tastebud-tingling dishes not to be missed in the land of the setting sun include creamy feta cheese salads; fried fish and calamari fresh from the Mediterranean or Aegean Sea; gyros filled with spit-roasted meat and Tzatziki sauce; the iconic, oven-baked Moussaka; and, of course, olives with lashings of that famous olive oil that has been perfected by the Greeks over thousands of years.

Places to visit

1. Athens

As the capital of Greece and one of the world's oldest cities, with a recorded history dating back over 3,000 years, Athens is an ideal way to start your Greek adventure. There are few sites as iconic as the 2,500-year-old Acropolis, which rests majestically on a rocky outcrop right in the heart of the city. Some of the monuments found at this fabled site are generally considered the greatest architectural achievements of Ancient Greece, such as the towering Parthenon. The city flourishes with history around every corner; however, those looking to delve deeper into how advanced the ancient Greeks were shouldn't miss the chance to visit The National Archaeological Museum—widely regarded as one of the best in the world.

In terms of soaking up the local culture, the Monastiraki Flea Market offers a veritable feast for the senses. It's one of the liveliest squares in the city, where locals come from far and wide to sell their wares. The crisscrossed streets of the neighborhood itself are also a great spot to take a much-needed break by sipping on a cocktail at one of the rooftop bars while gazing upon the monumental views of the magnificent Parthenon. After a busy day exploring, there's no better end to the day than watching the sunset over the Acropolis from Mount Lycabettus.

2. Mykonos

The whitewashed oasis of Mykonos is just a scenic, two-hour ferry ride from Athens, with tickets generally costing between 20 and 40 euros. Located in the center of the Cyclades, the picturesque paradise offers a fantastic mix of glamorous nightlife and old-world simplicity. The winding streets of the capital, Hora, or Mykonos Town, create a wonderful, labyrinth-like setting, with colorful wooden doors, charming local houses, and tiny Greek churches at every turn, while Little Venice boasts jaw-dropping vistas come sunset.

Other must-see corners of this island gem include the iconic Mykonos windmills, standing high on a hill near Mykonos Town; the Church of Panagia Paraportiani, with its four, unique chapels, each built at a different point in history; and the mythical birthplace of Apollo, Delos island, which showcases the ancient ruins of temples, villas, and theaters. If dancing until the sun comes up is what you're looking for, Cavo Paradiso is the place to be. The international DJ lineup at this beach club offers an unforgettable night of clubbing, meeting fellow partygoers, and watching an indescribable sunrise across the vast Aegean Sea.

3. Milos

As one of the lesser known islands, compared to tourist hubs, such as Santorini, the enchanting island of Milos truly is a hidden gem not to be missed during a Greek adventure. Generally cheaper and less crowded than its more popular counterparts, the undisturbed coves and caves of Milos make a welcome respite away from the crowds.

The beaches of Sarakiniko and Kleftiko will leave you breathless with the sheer beauty of their white cliffs and rich geology. Kleftiko, an old pirate hideaway, is only reachable by boat, meaning that taking a trip around the island from one of the many tour companies is an absolute must. At Sarakiniko, you'll find a moonscape, alien-like environment, where you can explore the hidden coves, bathe in the calm, shallow inlet, and even try some exhilarating cliff jumping.

There are so many remote beaches on the island that you'll need at least a few days and a rental car to truly get the most out of Milos, including Firiplaka Beach, Paliochori Beach, Firopotamos Beach, the ancient village of Klima, and the fishing village of Mantrakia, which has some of the best seafood found anywhere in Greece at the superb Medusa Restaurant.

4. Santorini

The quintessential image of the Greek islands for many is the blue domed churches of Santorini. This rugged, volcanic island affords some spectacular sunsets, and the whitewashed towns that dot the jagged slopes are sure to captivate visitors.

That world-renowned image of the dreamy, blue domes can be found in the quaint village of Oia, located on the northern point of the island. Although this may be one of the most picture-perfect spots on the planet, it's important to take note that the town gets incredibly busy in the afternoon—often with hour-long queues just to get that perfect snap. Try getting the early bus to arrive by around 9 a.m. so you can take in all the beauty away from the impending mobs.

Another unique spot in Santorini is Red Beach, found on the south side of the island, which is a curious red sand cove that is towered by dramatic, Mars-like cliffs. There are other black and gray sand beaches nearby that are worth a visit, including Perivolos, Perissa, and Kamari, while the towns of Akrotiri, Caldera, and Fira offer a generous combination of old-world charm and Instagram-worthy photo ops.

5. Crete

The ferry route from Santorini to Crete runs several times a day and takes just a few hours—making the historical center of Europe's earliest advanced civilization an essential stop while island-hopping. As the biggest island in Greece, it's advisable to prolong a stay at the birthplace of Zeus to take in all the godly sights on offer. Regularly spoken of as Europe's oldest city, the Palace of Knossos is an ancient architecture lover's dream, while the Sacred Monastery of Arkadi and the Koules Fortress both offer a glimpse into the more recent history of Crete.

Heavenly beaches are also scattered across the island, one of the most beautiful and notable being Balos Lagoon. Wedged between the capes of Gramvousa and Tigani, the shallow turquoise waters are simply divine. Another essential day trip while in Crete is Elafonisi Beach, made famous by the movie, "Captain Corelli's Mandolin." In this dreamlike nature reserve, the angelic pink sand and clear turquoise water offer a genuine celestial slice of paradise.

Local culture brims on the island, too, with Chania's Venetian Harbour, Lake Voulismeni, and Rethymnon Old Town containing a gorgeous blend of sweet cobblestoned streets, intriguing Renaissance architecture, and a plethora of lively bars and delectable local restaurants that serve fresh local produce.


For more exciting travel guides, jam-packed with helpful information for your upcoming trips, check out our Travel Guide series on the blog!

Extreme adventure travel: Via Ferrata in Cumbria, England

By Arran Wallace

What better way to disconnect from your daily routine, embrace the great outdoors, and get some quality time with friends or family than by trying a new and exciting activity together? You have a plethora of options for your next unique experience, but our top suggestion for this summer will take you to the U.K.

For the ideal extreme adventure travel plan for this summer, check out the Via Ferrata in Cumbria, England.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

What is a via ferrata?

Via ferrata means iron path in Italian and is a climbing route that consists of a steel cable and iron steps and ladders, all of which are fixed to rock. Some via ferratas go the extra mile and include suspension bridges and zip-lines for those seeking an extra adrenaline rush.

Climbers attach themselves to the rock by clipping their harness to the steel cable and use the steps and ladders to progress. It's like a mix of traditional rock-climbing and scrambling, and it makes certain altitudes and peaks more accessible to the non-expert climber. All you need is sensible footwear and a good head for heights; most places provide or rent out all of the necessary equipment.

The need-to-know about Cumbria's Via Ferrata

Photo courtesy of Honister Slate Mine.

This particular via ferrata is located in the last working slate mine in England—Honister Slate Mine—where mining was carried out from 1728 until 1989. The mine was closed for a few years, but it was later reopened in 1997, with the addition of a tourist attraction within the Lake District National Park that includes underground tours and a visitors center.

Soon afterwards, the Via Ferrata (England's first!) was installed and proved to be extremely popular—even winning the "Best Tourism Experience in the Lake District" in 2011! It follows the original track that the miners used up the steep incline of Fleetwith Pike, reaching a height of 2,126 feet.

What to expect

Cumbria's Via Ferrata works like every other. Although trained guides accompany you and help to fasten you securely to the steel cable, it's all up to you to navigate the cliff-facing ladders, bridges, and narrow edges. It can be a mentally challenging, yet ultimately rewarding, activity, and whenever the going gets tough, just remember, miners used to do this without safety equipment!

There are two routes available to budding climbers: the Via Ferrata Classic and the Via Ferrata Xtreme. Both take around three hours, but the Xtreme follows a slightly different route—throwing in more edge exposure, vertical climbs, cliff-edge ladders, and a Burma bridge and cargo net to cross.

What to remember

Photo courtesy of Honister Slate Mine.
  • At Honister Slate Mine, all the necessary equipment is provided, including harnesses and helmets, but you are expected to dress appropriately and wear sensible footwear, so no heels or sandals!
  • Wear your helmet at all times, even during the designated breaks. While extremely unlikely, there may be the odd falling rock from above.
  • Your guide is there for a reason! Listen to the safety information before you start off, and if you get stuck, you can ask them the best way to maneuver across the rocks.
  • Check weather conditions before booking! You don't want to be holding onto iron rungs when lightning comes.
  • Take only essential items, such as water, high-energy snacks, gloves, and sunglasses. Mobile phones tend not to survive falls of hundreds of feet!
  • While the cable is there to be used, try not to use it for excessive load-pulling; use the iron rungs and rock face to push and pull yourself up.
  • Have fun, and don't look down!

What to enjoy in Cumbria afterward

Photo courtesy of the Lake District National Park Facebook page.

Once you're back on ground level and have got your sea legs back, you're going to want to check out what else there is on offer in the area. For those who love being in nature, Cumbria is a haven for outdoor activities, and much of the region is covered by the Lake District National Park.

In this national park, you'll find a rolling landscape of hills, valleys, and lakes, from which the park gets its name. Scafell Pike—England's largest peak at 3,209 feet—is just 10 kilometers south of Honister Mine; however, those wishing to conquer its peak will have to drive up, around, and back down south to attempt the summit on its western side.

Photo courtesy of The Crazy Tourist.

The quaint and charming towns of Keswick and Ambleside are both within easy driving distance of the mine, offering visitors the chance to experience typical architecture of the region and a surprising amount of traditional pubs, given their size.

Cumbria is also known for its various breweries and distilleries, and the famous Lakes Distillery is known for its whisky called, "The ONE" whisky, which was the first blended whisky in the British Isles. They now create their own gins and vodkas, too—the only ones brewed in Cumbria—and have been named one of the "Eight Distilleries to Visit Before You Die" by World Whisky Day.

For those who prefer something a little lighter, Hawkshead Brewery is an innovative craft brewery that offers interesting taps, such as marshmallow and chocolate imperial stouts. They host brewery tours and beer festivals throughout the year, too! The brewery is located near the town of Kendal, the birthplace of Kendal Mint Cake, which is a peppermint confection popular among British climbers as a quick source of energy. Check to see if your Via Ferrata guide has any spare ones in his or her pockets!


Gearing up for a holiday? Check out all of our offerings in England for more unique adventures!

The real Cinco de Mayo and where to celebrate

By Jackie Dreyer

While it may be fun to make up an extra excuse to eat tacos and drink tequila, we've been missing the point when it comes to the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo. In the U.S., the historical significance of May 5 has been largely passed over in favor of a massive spike in beer sales (in fact, in 2014, more beer was sold on Cinco de Mayo than on Super Bowl Sunday or St. Patrick's Day!), and it's time to set the record straight.

Let us teach you about the real Cinco de Mayo and where to honor this celebration in the U.S.

The facts

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not the celebration of Mexico's independence, which is actually celebrated annually on September 16. 40 years later, Cinco de Mayo came to be.

The story goes that, in 1862, Mexico found itself indebted to a number of European countries, so Napoleon III decided it was the perfect time to take advantage of Mexico's weakness and set up a monarchy in North America. Thus, French troops attacked the town of Puebla, Mexico, but General Ignacio Zaragoza was prepared.

Pleading for the help of all able-bodied men available, Mexico rallied together that May 5 and got the French to surrender, with the French suffering a loss of 500 troops, while General Zaragoza only lost less than 100 of the 2,000 men that showed up to fight that day.

From this day onwards, May 5 is recognized as a day of Mexican pride and resilience, and it has only increased in national significance over time, though it is not a national holiday in Mexico.

Extra credit reading: For an extremely thorough breakdown of important historical facts before, during, and after the Battle of Puebla, check out this article by National Geographic.

Where and how to celebrate

Mexico

Many travelers head straight to the source and go to Puebla for the most authentic Cinco de Mayo celebration. In Puebla, you'll get to enjoy colorful and joyous parades, in addition to a reenactment of the battle. As an added bonus when you're in Puebla, be sure to visit the city's beautiful and well-maintained cathedrals, which are what have turned the city into a UNESCO World Heritage Center.

Heads-up: If you're planning a trip to Mexico for Cinco de Mayo, heading anywhere other than Puebla will lead you to find people just going about their daily lives!

Denver, Colorado

Denver, Colorado, holds a two-day festival called "Celebrate Culture" that is put together by a local non-profit organization, NEWSED Community Development Corporation. On the morning of Cinco de Mayo, there is a large community parade, complemented by three different stages, where everyone can enjoy all different types of Hispanic music groups, as well as the well-known Hispanic Fiesta Colorado Folklorico Dancers.

Photo from Cinco de Mayo "Celebrate Culture" Festival.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, California, boasts the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the U.S., starting the last weekend of April with Fiesta Broadway. At this street festival, you'll get to enjoy popular Latin American artists and nibble on authentic dishes. Fiesta Broadway, however, is just the tip of the iceberg; TripSavvy has got you covered with a full Cinco de Mayo itinerary.

If you've got time to do additional sightseeing in L.A., pepper some more historical value into your trip with a detour to El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the original Spanish and Mexican neighborhood in the city, and Olvera Street, where you'll find great restaurants, food trucks, and street vendors.

Photo from El Pueblo Historical Monument.

Extra credit reading: For more ideas on where and how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, USA Today has a great rundown from the West Coast to Washington, D.C.


No matter what time of year you decide to explore Mexico, be sure to check out our travel guide on everything you need to know before you go.