The Pont D’arc of Vallon-Pont-d’Arc is a 40m high natural bridge above the Ardeche River and the starting point of a canoe camping adventure. Take boats for three days instead of the normal two; you will be given a large barrel but will still have to plan carefully what you put inside if you have not light weight camped before. Book one night at each of the two bivvy campsites; not as basic as they sound as they have wash blocks with hot showers and campsite barbeque stands. Bring all your own food, but you can refill your water bottles at the natural springs. The slow pace will give you time for long lazy picnic and swimming lunch stops and a chance to paddle in the afternoons when the crowds have disappeared downstream. With our children we found many fish, crickets, lizards, frogs, one otter, plenty of wild boar evidence and also, more scarily, a water snake. In the evenings we hunted for glow worms and cicadas before sleeping in a row outside, looking for shooting stars. Don’t risk leaving the tent behind though, it rains in August even in the South of France.
canoe hire: www.aventure-canoes.fr/
camp site by the river: www.campings-ardeche.com/camping_frs/ardeche/clients/camp-des-gorges/f1.html
We love camping at Domaine D'anglas in the Herault Gorge, 20km from the French Mediterranean coast. You camp among trees by the side of the river Herault and can sunbathe and swim yards from the tent. The campsite is also an organic vineyard, and in the evening we buy chilled fresh rose on tap to take back and drink by the river. Kayaks can be hired from many operators around nearby Granges; even in August we have not needed to book more than a day ahead for this. The grade two river flows gently through a scenic gorge, past a medieval village and a ruined mill; a few rapids make sure you don't relax too much. If you bring your own kayaks and experience, you can have the picturesque five km of narrow, white gorge ending at the Pont du Diable almost to yourself. All of the grade four drops were easily inspected and portaged when we paddled this section at low, summer levels. The Pont du Diable, an 11th century bridge, is an excellent swimming spot and next to Saint Guilhem le Desert - a world Heritage Site and one of the most beautiful medieval villages in Europe.
Nearest Station/Airport 45 mins in Montpelier
The location has to come first, only 30 minutes from the Lakes but nowhere near as over run. This part of the North Lancashire coast is relatively undiscovered - an spectacular area of natural beauty - and you can have the beach all to yourself.
The Holgates park is wooded, with lots of wildlife, including rare birds that nest at the nearby RSPB site. We stayed in a very luxurious caravan that we hired, but you can take your own and there is also some space for tents. On the day that it rained, we used the truly luxurious swimming pool and spa - incredibly clean changing rooms and decent lattes in the cafe.
The village of Silverdale is a short walk away and had a great butcher and greengrocer as well as a couple of good pubs. There is also an art and pottery gallery with a good cafe attached.
The kids were happy running wild - the park is about 24 acres I think, but feels rural and safe with a great play area. We were happy outside the van with a glass of wine watching the most amazing sunset I have ever seen in my life. It takes quite something to get me to relax so quickly but this place certainly has it.
We camped at Blair Atholl a few times when I was young. We'd generally stay around the area since it's such a stunning spot with plenty to do. The most memorable moments for me were when my brother and I went swimming in the absolutely freezing cold waters of the River Tilt. I remember it being so scary and exhilarating! It's a narrow little river but pretty deep; you can't see the bottom in many parts which means there's lots of pools to jump in to! Each time we'd stay in the water until we couldn't feel our fingers or toes. I like to think that I'll do it again one day.
I suggest a campsite at only 350m from the amazing beach of Sant Pol, on the Costa Brava. They rent lovely wooden bungalows, private and unique, surrounded by flowers, trees and plants. It's very cosy and plenty of facilities for your holidays in wooden cottages.
Street: Doctor Fleming 1, E-17220 Sant Feliu de Guixols. www.campingsantpol.cat, phone +34 972327269, nearest airport is Girona-Costa Brava. GPS 41º 47’ 10’’ N, 3º 2’ 28’’ E
Accommodation in a city can be expensive. When I want to stay in Amsterdam I more often than not stay at any of the fabulous campsites dotted around Amsterdam. There is a central one just behind Centraal Station across the water or several others in the outskirts of the city - they are always a bargain and well maintained - give it a go, camping in the city is fun.
All campsite information can be found through the Amsterdam tourist board.
The beach at Fegina is dominated by the famous concrete statue of the Giant, built beside the terrace of a local villa. Representing Neptune, the god of the sea, and despite today having no arms, trident and a leg, this massive sculpture is nonetheless impressive! Monterosso al Mare is the most western town of the Cinque Terre. The village is protected by hills covered with vineyard and olive groves and has beautiful beaches, steep rugged cliffs and crystalline waters.
The main train station is La Spezia. Here you need to take a regional train that stops in every Cinque Terra town.
We have just taken the plunge and bought a caravan to tour France. Our first stop (of decent length) is in a beautiful village called Le Bar Sur Loup. We found a great campsite that will let us stay with our dog along the gorges, aptly call Les Gorger du Loup.
Because it is half an hour from coastal towns such as Antibes we are close enough to get to the beach but far enough away from all the commercialism.
Five stars all round
I know its obvious but wet wipes and wellies were invaluable, and a load of bananas came in handy to give to the kids, but the best tip I've heard is... be careful what you get up to in your tent with the torch on!
Most people plan to camp nearest the stage with the best line-up, or perhaps near the gates for less of a walk, or near the toilets for midnight emergencies or perhaps near food stalls etc… this is wrong!
The only thing you should be considering when planning a potential festival campsite is where you will end up at the end of the night. There is nothing worse than dragging your drunken wreck of a body half way across a dark campsite riddled with pitfalls, guide ropes and other hazards at 3am.
Think about it and find the tent area that will be open the longest. Camp nearby. This way at that ungodly hour when you finally decide to head to bed you can even crawl your way back if need be.
This is genius. I camped next to a family last year at Glastonbury who seemed to have bought everything with them but the kitchen sink: portable loo, mini fridge and enough food to feed the entire site. The first thing they did when they arrived was build a family size dining table out of the fire wood. I don't think they ever left their camp, all they seemed to do was eat and drink. When it came to packing up they pulled out their workmans loading trolley, stacked up all their stuff and wrapped the whole lot up in clingfilm, firmly securing it for the long walk back to the car. The only thing they had to carry was their packed lunch for the journey home. Brilliant!
I have been going to the Big Chill for several years and it wasn't until last year that I bought a roof tent for the Land Rover. By far the worst part of the festival is packing away at the end when the fun is over and getting everything back to the car when you are feeling worse for wear. With a roof tent every manufacturer has easy design assemble and disassemble which takes less than one minute with mattress and bedding already inside. The design folds out over the back of the 4x4 (or any make of car with roof bars). It has an extra piece of fabric which clips to the underside of the tent to create an area that you can use to cook, shower or use the port-a-loo - you are totally self sufficient and when the festival finishes, it takes minutes to fold away. This is far cheaper than any camper van and just as good.
MyWay Tents - www.mywayrooftents.co.uk
A few essentials to help festivals be more comfortable:
Take some tarpaulin to sit on in case its muddy and a blanket for warmth in chilly evenings or to act as a roll matt.
Mobile phones are useful for locating lost friends and also take an old handset for when the battery dies to avoid queueing for hours to charge it up.
Most festivals have good food stalls (Glasto' green fields have great healthy options) so don't bother with a stove. Nuts, fruit cereal bars and chocolate are good to keep you going though - and a three litre box of wine!
If you need a tent, its worth getting a three man for two people, as there's room for all your other stuff and get one with a porch to keep muddy boots away from your clean stuff but in a dry area for the next morning.
The obvious tip is toilet roll, baby wipes, bin bags and antiseptic hand gel.
Comfortable wellie boots (see the funky wellies website) and a good rain jacket for bad weather - shades and suncream just in case you get lucky with the British weather.
And don't take anything you value too much in case of loss, theft or weather damage - I lost a great pair of shoes to the Glasto flood of 05!
Big Bend national park was a real eye opener, pretty far from the beaten track and despite its beauty, relatively unknown. Real John Wayne country with a single access road through a wide rift valley. Smoking volcanoes to your left, mountain lions in the distance, cowboy cacti all along the way. Stunningly beautiful, remote and there on the Mexican border near the bottom of the 'bend' is a real oddity... the small town of Lajitas. This is not the place you'd expect to find a town where the mayor is an elected goat (apparently the other candidate was so unpopular they jokingly elected a goat in his place) and the President plays golf at an exclusive, lush green private club.
Loads to do including Kayaking, horse riding, exploring, climbing, camping... an amazing experience that you'll never forget, I'd recommend to anyone and everyone.
Anay Camping is a real 'oasis' in the desert. Travelling through Libya can be a frustrating experience because this country is far from becoming a truly developed tourist destination, which explains why independent travel hasn't been possible there until recently. Why Ghat and Easter? Although there are some truly fantastic Roman and Greek sites on the Mediterranean, pushing inland and into the Sahara is an exciting and rewarding experience. Other desert locations are far more developed and commercial (Ghadames, Uwbari ) but Ghat has a totally different, uncontrived feel. The old town is still relatively original and the town is within striking distance of prehistoric cave paintings which document what this area was like when lush vegetation and classic African mammals and reptiles were still inhabitants. The campsite is unusual for three main reasons:
They make affordable, palatable meals.
You can rely on security and there are friendly locals in the area who will invite you into their homes.
There is hot water if you time your bathtime correctly. I used my own tent and cooked my own food, as well as dining in the basic but friendly restaurant. I made friends with the workers at the site, locals living in the area and other tourists on organised tours (I was travelling independently, without a guide, using local transport.)
You can fly to Tripoli with BA, catch a local bus to Sebha, then go with a pre-arranged, local tour guide to Ghat via Uwbari and the cave paintings.
Easter is a good time to visit because the day temperature hasn't become unbearable yet and the night temperature isn't so extreme.
Huts are available if you don't have tents. Both food and accommodation is inexpensive and of an acceptable standard. I was there at the beginning of 2007.
2 kms south of Ghat, just off the main road to the Algerian border
But what a countryside. Trust me, if you are willing and able to make the effort, an amazing array of beaches, flora and fauna await you at Wilson's Promontory.
We travelled from Melbourne by coach to a small town called Foster where we stayed in a nice little hostel. The lady that ran the place was kind enough to drive us to the 'base camp' which is where we got the necessary permits to access the Prom.
We stocked up with as much as we could carry and set off. You must do your homework before you even get there. Know where you're heading and don't stretch yourself too much. When you find a nice campsite, pitch your tent and explore the locale.
The chances are, you may even have an entire beach to yourself overnight if you catch it in the right season and it's not too busy. We once spent an entire evening in one of the places called Oberon Bay with a beach about five times the size of Bondi all to ourselves. Truly magical but as I said before, it's a lot of effort because everywhere can only really be accessed by foot and you must carry everything with you.
The facilities at most the campsite are basic so you need to take water with you and also water purification tablets for any top-ups you get while you're exploring.
We followed a circuit around the coastline which took us about three days which I think was enough. It meant we had access to all of the bays and beaches that were on offer.
Wilson's Prom is a very remote part of Australia but is very lush and green which is an amazing contrast to the red dust and rocks of other less accessible parts of Oz. Even though the Great Ocean Road is in itself a very nice place to head to, make the effort to head towards Wilson's Prom and you will not be disappointed.
Instead of flying in to the rock, why not fly to Alice Springs instead. Hire a car or campervan and load it up with everything you will need and then head South on the Highway until you reach the turn off for the rock. Once there you will find they have a decent campsite where you can pitch a tent or plug in the van!
Having a fully stocked vehicle means you can explore at your own pace and be totally self-sufficient which means not having to rely on the accommodation, restaurants and tours which are quite expensive because they have a captive market. Also despite what you see in some of the photos, the resort is quite a way from the rock itself so being able to drive out to it before the sun rises is a great bonus.
A trip like this means you not only get to experience the vastness of this country but also, if you're up well before sunrise, you might be lucky enough to actually feel the desert waking up around the rock. A truly unforgettable experience.
Two summers ago I went with my partner to the Isle of Mull in Scotland
for our summer holiday. We camped on a wildly beautiful beach for a
week (I feel guilty to say where - to spoil the secret - but there are
plenty to choose from) and then we treated ourselves to two nights in
a little luxurious hotel. There are also loads of beautiful bed and
breakfasts and little hotels and we have never eaten so well in our
lives - always fresh local produce, lots of fish and home grown
We had such an amazing time that last Summer we decided to
go to Scotland again - this time to the Isle of Skye and then across
to Harris. Again I feel guilty to tell the secrets of this place but
the beaches on Harris in particular are mindblowingly beautiful. When
we show people our holiday pictures, they don't believe it is Scotland
- white white sand beach - all to ourselves, with turquoise blue sea
and the most serene mountain backdrop.
We had two days of horrible
rain but the rest of the time it was blazing sun- we both came home
with deep tans after 10 days. On the 2 days that it rained we went sea
It’s so easy to look for the quickest route through somewhere familiar, but by ditching the car for a bike you have no choice but to go on the slow roads. This can shed a whole new light on familiar journeys leading you to small pockets of undiscovered rural life. This principle carried my fiancé and I with great ease and pleasure through 1600km of English and French countryside from London to The Pyrenees. By plotting a route that largely follows cycle paths and river valleys, it is possible to stay mostly on flat ground all the way from Dieppe to The Dordogne. The ease of the landscape means that you can take your time and by loading the bike with panniers and a tent perched on the back you have everything you need to be as flexible as you like. On this trip we cycled between 3 – 6 hours a day, stopping at villages that took our fancy for coffees, snacks and lunch, camping when we've had enough of being on the bike and stopping at some places for two nights to explore on foot when it suits. With the freedom and slower speed to that of a car or camper van you end up seeing much more of the country and can explore lesser trodden areas.
This has meant the trip has been rewarding not only from an exercise perspective, but we have found fascinating pockets of France that we didn't know were out there. From Dieppe we rode down the Avenue Verte for 40km South to Forges-les-Eaux, a disused railway track that has been paved for cyclists lined with big old crumbling farm houses and orchards. At Forges-les-Eaux we picked up small roads following the River Eure through riverside villages and woodland until we spied the 12th and 16th Century spires of Chartres Cathedral. After stopping to absorb some culture in Chartres, we spent a day cycling through France's industrial farming plains where the road cuts straight through crops that stretch as far as the eye can see. Hungry for prettier roads we joined the Loire river at Blois, whose castle is famed for spanning 4 centuries worth of architecture, and followed the river past perfectly manicured chateaus, vineyards and sunflowers all the way to Chinon. From the castles, wine and brocantes of Chinon we followed The Vienne River to the Medieval town Chauvigny and from there we weaved our way into the Dordogne, through back roads littered with rustic country mansions. Once we had mastered some of the hills of The Dordogne we followed the river from Ste Foy le Grande through to St Emillion, world heritage sight and particularly good feasting and wine territory. On leaving The Dordogne we continued further into the forests of Aquitaine to Bazas, a few thermal spa towns and then coast before it was time to climb up the breathtaking (and a little back breaking) foothills of The Pyrenees to St Jean Pied de Port.
Whilst these places could have easily been seen by car or camper van, being on a bike changes how you experience the country you are passing through. The lack of engine and main roads makes you considerably more at one with the surrounding environment, leaving birds and other wildlife undisturbed and in full view as you pedal pass. The lack of closed windows and doors also makes you an unintimidating and intriguing traveler, open to interactions with complete strangers wherever you are. Our holiday was littered with meeting new people: chatting with strangers wherever we are, receiving invitations for coffees, dinners and aperitifs.
Cycle routes and paths from England to France: thames-path.com/MU/avenueverte/discover/
Forget those factory-line safaris where you sit in a cramped minibus following a line other minibuses through a crowded wildlife park. If you want a genuinely wild experience, you need to do it on foot. A walking safari through the South Luangwa National Park is a unique experience, staying in comfortable bush camps, each day exploring a new section of the park and experiencing the raw thrill of encounters with animals in the wild.
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