Unlike the more popular deserts I've experienced, Wadi Rum is how you imagined a desert to be - beautiful, playful sand beneath your feet, rather than ugly harsh rocks.
Enjoying a little financial comfort from the tourism dollar, you can expect Bedouin guides to take you bombing around the desert in a well-traveled 4x4 truck, stopping off to explore beautiful scenery, jump off sand dunes, and indulge a little rock climbing if you wish.
Expect to camp and eat in simple Bedouin camps with basic amenities, in the middle of the vast desert.
Wadi Rum can be enjoyed as a day-trip from Petra, but budget 2/3 days to properly appreciate it. We booked a two days/one night package through our hostel in Amman.
Everybody we spoke to about Wadi Rum had similar - excellent - experiences.
Google map: bit.ly/cUKlyh
The deserts of Egypt are on the doorstep of Europe. Egypt is just a five hour flight from London and you can do it on the cheap with budget airlines from most regional airports. The Sinai is the best known desert in Egypt and it's getting much more popular. Mount Sinai is the 'feather in the cap' for most tourists, travellers and trekkers, but it's not the best peak going - not by a long shot. Give the jaded sunrise itinerary a miss and head for Jebel Banet, near St. Katherine's. Jebel Banet means 'Mountain of the Girls' and it is said that two Bedouin sisters tied their hair together here and threw themselves off the sheer north face. They were distraught at their father refusing to let them marry the men they loved. The peak itself stands on the perimeter of the High Mountain Region: you can look right out to the Wilderness of the Wanderings from here, where the Israelites are said to have spent forty aimless years (the modern day Et Tih Plateau). From Jebel Banet you can go down past the dripping waterfall of Sida Nugra to the El Karm Ecolodge in Wadi Gharba. This uses solar power to heat the showers, and it uses candles for night lights. The furniture is all made from oversized blocks of stone and wood that make it look like a slightly bizarre insertion of Flintstone graphics into real life. It's well worth staying the night and you can pitch a tent for LE15. Rooms are LE65. The next day I'd recommend you hire a camel to get back to St. Katherine's. Go via Naqb el Hawa or 'Pass of the Winds': this is the old pilgrim route to the Monastery of St. Katherine, and it's the time honoured way to approach it. You have to experience the long, loping stride of the camel and it's far better here than at the pyramids. This is camel trekking at its best. You need a guide to go trekking in St. Katherine's as part of tribal law and they're super easy to find. My tip is to go to the Desert Fox Camp - it's owner is a Bedouin man called Faraj and the guides he employs have the edge over ones elsewhere.
After Sinai I discovered the other deserts of Egypt. Everyone knows about Siwa and Bahariya in the Western Desert and it's a wonderful place to go: 100% recommended. But all the same it's old news and the real buzz frontier at the moment is the Gilf Kebir National Park. This is way down in the vast, empty south west of Egypt. You'll find a Great Sand Sea and the world's biggest meteor crater here. You'll also find an abundance of cave paintings from the neolithic era. These are one of the earliest sources anywhere in the world for the human experience in the desert. They're one of Africa's great cultural treasures. They depict trees, water and large animals, quite at odds with the surrounding environment. They gave rise to a myth of a lost oasis amongst locals, known as Zarzara: lush trees, waterfalls and birds of paradise were believed to be here, and many went looking. You can still see the whitewashed skeletons of people and camels who died in the hunt. Another thing to check out is Jebel Uweinat, a free-standing sandstone massif on the borders of Egypt, Sudan and Libya. This is topped by smooth, rounded peaks and it's dissected by deep, winding wadis. A 360 degree horizon opens up from the high points, with the silence unlike anywhere in the world: it's easy to feel something of the transcendental here. Coming to the Gilf isn't easy: this is real trailblazing adventure travel at the mo. You need permits to get here, and there's a mountain of bureaucracy to climb. But you won't have to have anything to do with it, fixers will sort it for you. If you're in Egypt get to Bahariya - you can get here by public bus in four hours from the Turgoman bus terminal in downtown Cairo (finding this needs a new post tip in itself!). In Bahariya you'll find people who know people. It can be pricey, up to $100-150/ day all inc. Before you go make absolutely sure your jeep is a good, modern one with no deficiencies. Gilf Kebir isn't the sort of place the AA visit. Also make sure you have enough supplies, mostly water. GPS is essential too and your guide MUST know how to work it. You'll have a police guard ride in the front of the jeep when you go: this is necessary as there have been reports of robberies from Sudanese groups in the area. If you're abroad you can try organising a safari through the following companies: www.zarzura.com/ or email Badawiya Safari at email@example.com. You can also try www.geographic-adventures.com and make sure you get this small pocket guide by Alberto Siliotti: //www.amazon.co.uk/Gilf-Kebir-National-Park-Pocket/dp/8887177848liotti:
Finally, there is Egypt's Red Sea Coast. At the moment, most folks go for Hurghada and other big resort towns, but the real thing to see is the Red Sea Mountains. This is a slice of Sinai from Sinai. The rock here is identical to the Sinai; both areas were part of the same crust until the Red Sea split them. You'll notice the same smooth domed red granite peaks and fertile green wadis. The area was explored briefly by the Royal Geographical Society explorer GW Murray in the 19th century but since then it's remained essentially untouched. This could be trekking heaven in the future and there are a number of peaks well worth a try: Jebel Gharib, Jebel Qattar and Jebel Shayib are amongst the best and their summits offer views across to the Sinai's main peaks, including Mount Katherina, Jebel Thebt and Jebel Sabbagh. You can even see the Hejaz of Saudi Arabia on a clear day (at night you'll see the Saudi coast in any weather, as the lights twinkle through the darkness). Aside from the scenery, you'll find giant leopard traps big enough to sleep in and isolated old hermit cells used by early Christians fleeing the persecutions. You'll find mysterious writing on the rocks and old tombs dotted on high west facing slopes. Bedouin tribes here include the Ma'aza, the Rashayed and the Ababda. All over the Middle East traditional Bedouin knowledge is being lost as it becomes less relevant to modern life, but here it is very much a survival necessity. They have no option but to maintain it. You'll see Bedouin hunting gazelles on the plains and digging down into the sand for water and of course you'll get the legendary hospitality for three and a third days in the remote areas. Culture here is much like it was hundreds of years ago. The downside of the Red Sea Mountains is access, and the police oscillate between saying you can have a permit and saying you can't go at all. It really depends on when you're there and how the situation is. Rely on unreliability. Check the situation out before you go with Hany Amr at firstname.lastname@example.org and Ahmed Musa at email@example.com. If you do manage to get into the mountains, they'll be able to help you sort guides too. Of course, you have the option of flaunting local law entirely and finding Bedouin who will take you into the desert hush hush, cloak and dagger: just remember you're taking a risk, for you and the Bedouin (and his tribe - the Egyptian police can be disproportionate when they want to be, especially to the Bedouin). For now, it's probably best to stick to other areas until the permit situation eases up, but just check if you're there. You might get lucky and the desert jewels here are fit to shine the finest crown of them all.
As a final few words I'd just say if you're going to the deserts of Egypt, do it in the transition from spring to summer. Summer is a bad time: you'll often be in the sun, so it won't be 'shade hot' it'll be serious blistering heat that'll feel over 50 degrees. Winter is cold - especially in Sinai and the Red Sea Mountains. Autumn can be lovely and it's the safest bet. Early spring is when the Khamaseen winds blow half of North Africa up into the sky: 'sandstorm season'. Around May is when the desert bloom comes out and a beautiful floral carpet spreads out over the sands. Hopefully, hopefully the Khamaseen will have died down. If so, it'll be perfect!
Some people I know recommend a pair of goggles if you're going in sandstorm season. In terms of equipment, the only thing I'd recommend 100% is a keffeyeh (the traditional Bedouin headscarf). You can use this for all manner of things - from a bivvy, to an arm sling and you can pull it over your head in a sandstorm.
Hope you enjoy the deserts as much as I did - good luck!
For the Sinai: www.desertfoxcamp.com/
For Gilf Kebir: www.zarzura.com/ and Badawiya Safari at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.geographic-adventures.com
For The Red Sea Mountains: Hany Amr at email@example.com and Ahmed Musa at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are few locations in the world that remain as enduring and ageless as the magnificent yet sedate Wadi Rum. It’s longevity is perhaps because time shifts so gradually to the leisurely beat of life. It is conceivable that even the heartbeats of the indigenous Bedouin tribes tick that increment slower, with their face-wide smiles and calm presence. Wadi Rum was romanticised in T.E. Lawrence's magnus opus 'The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ who described it as ‘vast, echoing and god-like’. Inevitably comparisons will be drawn with the renowned Petra, but it was certainly not overshadowed for me, metaphorically or physically with the epic Jebel Rum reaching the soaring height of 1754m.
The desert of Wadi Rum, however, is not what you would conventionally expect. As if grandiosely carved by divine means, the region known as Wadi Rum is actually a series of valleys about 2km wide stretching north to south for about 130km, found in Jordan. The dunes are formed with a radiant red sand and are accompanied by a glorious backdrop of majestic rock formations. Besides the extraordinary desert scenes, you are also able to visit Khaz'ali Canyon, the site of petroglyphs etched into the cave walls depicting humans and antelopes dating back to the Thamudic times, or Lawrence spring, a large crevice in a canyon with ancient inscriptions as well as what is regarded as Lawrence’s house.
Days flow by so effortlessly, I recommend staying at least one night. You can organise a tour by jeep and night accommodation with a Bedouin tribe through an organisation. At the end of the day of touring, we retired back inside the tent, to be fed some of the most mouthwatering food, baked in an under-ground oven. After we were treated to the soporific rhapsodies of a tribe member, and then to confirm what was already an unforgettable day, we dragged our beds outside and slept under the opulent glimmer of the stars. It is the towering mountains that speak louder than the hubbub of a city ever could.
Wadi Rum can be found in the South of Jordan. You can reach it by taxi or bus from either Petra or Aqaba.
Google map: bit.ly/cEaGfO
I also recommend organising the company on arrival, because you will be able to haggle on arrival for a cheaper price.
A remote and relaxed tented camp on the borders of the Udzungwa Mountains National Park in the Kilombero Valley. It's a great place to go for birding and hiking, and the view from the top of Sanje Waterfall out across the sugar cane and the huge Kilombero Valley is breath-taking. Food good, beer cold, staff smiley, monkeys and birds onsite to watch, elephants in the night ... We also rented bikes and went for a ride through the village nearby and into the sugar cane fields. Great few days in a place hardly anyone even knows is there!
Mangula, Kilombero Valley, tanzania. Drive to Mikumi and turn left, basically.
Udzungwa Forest Campsite (HondoHondo).
Dar Es Salaam, PO BOX 34514, Tanzania
+255 (0) 22 261 7166
Google map: bit.ly/9QCBbQ
Beautiful retreat from the stress of modern life. The site is a area of outstanding natural beauty a stones thrown form the sea.
In a quiet corner of Sussex is Hidden Spring Vinyard where they produce wine, cider (apple and pear) and fruit juice, all organic and all delicious. The family that run the farm are friendly and happy to provide tastings, the cider being the best!
There are also two fields to camp in which are family-friendly, secluded and peaceful, and you can even hire a yurt. The best bit is they allow fires in the provided fire pits. Very unusual for campsites but makes the evening special. They sell firewood too.
Easy access to the rest of Sussex make it a good base for a break, or easy to get to to buy the produce.
Tiree (Tir an Eorna=land of barley also Tir barr fo thuinn= land below the waves in Gaelic) is situated in the breathtaking Inner Hebrides, to the west of Mull and south of neighbouring island Coll.
I recommend it as the perfect destination for an island escape. I camped alone and hired a bicycle. The weather was brilliantly sunny if a little windy! It's the best place to learn surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing in Scotland and probably the UK.
I travelled by Scotrail Caledonian sleeper, amazing value, and then on to Oban on the West Highland Line, again amazing value and stunning views. Then CalMac ferry, yet again incredible value and stunning close up views of passing shivers of massive basking sharks and the beautiful Sound of Mull, Ardnumarchan and the other isles.
sevendaysontiree.blogspot.com is my blog with photos of my holiday
is the website for the campsite and watersports tutition
www.tireefitness.co.uk is the website for quality cycle hire
www.isleoftiree.com/ is the community website.
Google map: tinyurl.com/33jo82r
We have just returned from a 10 day holiday at this park. Firstly some couples and families were arriving, without hiring a car, after flying over. You need a car for this one. Excellent site though. Lovely clean pool with water slides, unheated. Also a heated pool on the other side of the camp. Staff were all friendly, especially the Canvas staff (Rochin and Rocco) helped us out whenever we asked.
The on camp shop can be a little expensive so make sure you are stocked up although it is handy for the fresh baguettes and croissants every morning. The on site bar and restaurant is ok if you can't be bothered cooking one night. Again you need a car to explore the local area. Biarritz is fab for beaches and surfing. It can be a little more expensive to eat out there so take supplies onto the beach if you’re there all day for the sun and surf. St Jean de Luz is also a lovely town to visit. Lots of old architecture, golden beaches and restaurants to explore.
The best places in the world take time to get to. Coll is no exception - although in this case, the three hour ferry journey out from Oban passes breathtaking scenery.
Once on Coll, you enter a different world. Tourists are welcome, but there are no 'attractions' or 'interpretation boards' or supermarkets.
What is there, however is pure magic. The island is ringed by white sand beaches, all easily reached from the roads and footpaths that circle the small island. It can boast to be one of the sunniest places in the whole of the UK, and the sunsets out over the wide ocean have to be seen to be believed.
I was there in May and saw dolphins, basking sharks, and even an elusive corncrake.
We pitched our tents in sheltered hollows and sat around camp fires under the stars. During the day, a walk in any direction reveals new delights - castles, crannogs, sandy coves. A stiff walk to the top of Ben Hogh on a clear day opens up views over the most beautiful islands in the whole world.
Fabulous beach with great waves and an incredible campsite where you wake up with a full panorama of the sea Watch out if it's raining though as it always floods! A campervan probably a better bet if you're lucky enough to have one. Ok pub, but much nicer ones just along the coast in Littlehaven.
Wild camping amid the Machair and shell sands of Tragh Mhor (Cockle Strand) with a front row seat for the twice-daily propellor planes from Glasgow landing on the beach, is hard to beat. This most sourtherly of the island chains that form the Outer Hebridies is just eight miles by four miles, with crystal azure blue water lapping soft sandy beaches, a population of 1078 with a strong gaelic culture, seals and even a glacier mountain. All of this just five hours sail from Oben or you could fly and experience the exhilarating landing on the beach. If you do rough camp, smooth the edges with a cappuccino and cooked breakfast at the tiny airport terminal, open 10 to 3 pm.
The website for this delightful site does not do it justice! It lies just outside Tunbridge Wells on the Kent/Sussex border on the Eridge Park Estate. We travelled to Eridge by train and walked for 25 mins or so to the site – all very doable if you pack carefully! The campsite is run by a lovely couple and you have a choice of a pitch in one of two sunny fields or right in the woods. At this time of year the bluebells are spectacular and you feel very close to nature!
I adored the simplicity of the site which does not go in for structured activities and such like. You book in, rock up and pitch up pretty much where you like and just enjoy the surrounds. If you are lazy, you can stroll across to the café which has a well stocked bar and does home made cakes, cream teas and hot meals which change daily. We were lucky enough to see deer roaming on the estate and lots of bunnies enjoying the sun! I went back to work on Monday morning feeling completely rejuvenated in Kent – and it was only a hour from London by train. Bliss!
We spent 12 months in 2009 and 2010 travelling around southern Europe in our VW campervan. On our blog is a full list of all the camp sites we stayed at, as well as other useful information for anyone planning a similar trip and lots of photos of the beautiful places we saw in Italy, Slovenia, Austria, France, Spain and Portugal.
Campeggio Priori is a small camp site and has none of the bells and whistles of the larger sites around Lake Garda. It is a peaceful oasis right in the heart of this lovely town, only five minutes walk from the lake or the cable car, with shops right outside the site's gate. The on-site facilities are excellent, and there is also self-catering accommodation. You can stroll from your tent or campervan through the cobbled, narrow streets and be sitting in a bar by the lake in minutes.
We stayed at Yosemite Pines since we could not get reservations. Yosemite Pines is an RV (recreational vehicle) resort, campground, and lodge located near Yosemite National Park, offering camping with full hook-up for RV as well as cabins. Amenities include a clubhouse, gold mine, gold panning, petting zoo, swimming pool, hiking trail, general store, children’s playground, horseshoe pit, and volleyball.
This is a fully vegetraian eco-camp which is only accessible down a rocky path via jeep. Set back into mountains lie around 11 small huts with basic Turkish facilities but stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the Turquoise Coast. All meals are made from locally sourced produce, most of which is grown on the site itself. On-site the owners have built a raised wooden platform which hosts early morning yoga and there lies a private cove just 15 minutes walk from the camp which hosts evening bbqs, providing the little needed entertainment.
LA is a night and day town.
Watching the sun go down after a long day or before a long night is a great way to break up the pace of this city and see it at its most beautiful.
Sunset Blvd is the vein that flows from Hollywood down through Beverly Hills onto the Pacific Coast Highway. Driving down here anytime of day is fun.
Take a trip north up PCH 1 to Malibu for sunset on Zuma Beach. Tackle point Dume, Dolphins and Pelicans may turn up and it is a stunning beach.
Before the beach off PCH 1 Topanga, or Malibu Creek State Parks are both wonderful spots to watch the sun go down. Get up high to see the city, canyons, sea, simply amazing. Get down fast'ish as it gets dark out there!
Anywhere on the beach can be great for sunsets.
The chic suburb of Manhattan Beach has a romantic pier nicely lit with a small aquarium, stroll on the beach, or head on down the stylish beach side broad-walk to Hermosa for the most laid back beach scene in LA.
Santa Monica pier to Venice Beach. Walk, (hire) blades or bikes. Soak it all up. Get back into the canals of Venice and the Albert Kenny Blvd area for an a different perspective of Venice.
Away from the beach the Yamashiro in the Hollywood Hills is a super cool Japanese restaurant with an amazing view especially for sunset and night views.
No need to damage the budget either, hit the bar room for refreshments. Drink up the views and their delicious cocktails. Mia Tia and the Zombie, I can taste them now ... Zombie = don't drive.
Saunter down into Hollywood after and hit a dive bar and hustle some pool. Or go into West Hollywood and watch the people go by (in Lamborghini's) from the numerous establishments on Sunset Blvd.
The vibrancy of this city and variety of places and things to do is too immense a task for quick tip.
LA is well worth a long flight and pricy hotels.
So many hotels good and otherwise I can't scrape the surface.
Hostels are also hit and miss but some are no good altogether.
USA Hostels in Hollywood - clean, friendly
YHA in Santa Monica.
Surf City in Hermosa. Fun, friendly on the beach.
Camping is available at Malibu Creek SP and is one of the coolest ways to get cheap accommodation in the LA vicinity.
An old farm complex near Arras/Amien converted by Sue and Paul into a guest house with B&B rooms, gîtes and indoor camping. Unusual in that, although catering to all comers, bikers have use of a workshop, drying room and lock-up. Croix race track is five minutes away, great for spectators or participants. Takes about 1¼ hours from Calais. I liked the fact that French people stay there, too.
Rhossili beach is in the Gower.
This beach is beautiful and has some secluded coves which you can have all to yourself if you walk further down it.
It is excellent for fishing and on the rocks you can find many different sea foods to eat.
The beach, just like much of the Gower is often often un crowded even during peak season so I would reccommend it over Cornwall any day. It is also easier to get to than Cornwall as it is serviced by a major motorway.
Pitton cross is a really peaceful campsite that overlooks the beach. It doesn't have a great deal of facilities and is more of of a back to basics campsite but for the view alone and the seclusion it is well worth a visit.
The nearest pub is Worms Head hotel. This has some nice traditional pub food and some good local ales on tap.
On the site we got a tipi from tipi rent, it was the envy of the whole site and provided a very relaxing/romantic atmosphere for my wife and I.
Would reccommend the whole experience and would return again this summer.
The campsite is Pitton cross (15 miles or so from Swansea.)
Pitton Cross Caravan & Camping,
Rhossili, Gower, Swansea, SA3 1PH
Tel : 01792 390 593
I believe the nearest station is Gowerton
The place I got my tipi was www.tipirent.com
Google map: tinyurl.com/yzdj2k4
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com