Do not be fooled by the more commercial 'human zoo' township tours, which will take you in a bus around the township, drop you for half an hour to see the Hector Pieterson museum before whizzing you past the houses of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. The Lonely Planet
recommends a couple of low-key tours led by locals and I opted for a tour which included two days being shown around by a local girl and a
night's stay in a typical shack. I got on so well with my guide that we went out drinking in the evening and I slept on her shack floor instead of in my own place. On the Sunday we cooked lunch all together and I let her daughter and nieces highjack my camera for a while -
they managed to take far better photos than I could have done!
Google map: tinyurl.com/y9uv4po
Near to Fishhoek is the vibrant township of Masiphumelele, which you can explore on cyle or walking tours. The best walking tour is led by
the engaging Charlotte 'Nomthunzie' Swartbooi, a local resident. The tour is extremely good value and you get to see a side of Cape life
somewhat different to the upmarket areas of Cape Town. The other residents are fairly friendly and happy to for you to take photos,
especially the children, who clamoured to play with my camera and see the photos.
Athlete Haile Gebre Selassie's sister shows people around Addis and takes them to some interesting places. We toured with her around Addis and had hit some corners of Ethiopia no other tourists would have the chance to do.
+251 911 627898. Azaltich Gebre Selassie
So, I've been to Thailand before, and of course as a seasoned budget traveler in such a touristy country, I had no trouble getting around at all. If anything, it was a bit too easy, and I spent some time trying to get away from Bangkok and Phuket and off into the mountains.
Point is, for most of us there is no reason for any sort of help. But then my mom really wanted to go. She doesn't travel much, and is always afraid of 5 billion different things, and to be fair, things are a little different when you're older. There are lots of western, reputable (read more expensive) tours that take you to the main sites in Thailand, and although they're obviously more than the local fare BY FAR, they're still really, really reasonable, especially for an older woman who is used to "flying to Europe every now and then."
She ended up loving it.
So remember, it isn't just for the young folks, there are lots of large tours of the country as well. And if you're really adventurous you can even fly into Cambodia, get on the Mekong, and cruise into Vietnam.
Here's a decent list of the offerings:
Thailand: not just for backpackers anymore!
Sure, it is possibly the most touristy attraction in Vietnam. Sure, there are five billion cruises of the area and it is hard to choose which one you want. But you should still go. Because it really is beautiful - and it's a bloody world heritage site. The people at UNESCO usually get that thing right; it's pretty picture-perfect.
If you're the type that has limited time and needs reliability and predictability, there are plenty of western-style Vietnam tours. See below.
Tour comparison page of some of the major operators:
I know you can only take a 10kg bag plus handbag on the six-seater planes (my stuff wasn't weighed), but be aware that anything you need to buy in Canaima i.e. booze is amazingly expensive. Beers 10Bs a can. I paid 80Bs for two rum & cokes...
Do a bit of research into where you will be staying in Canaima. There are a couple of very swish places with fantastic views, but the rest are more basic. I overheard some European people in a group who were very unhappy with their accommodation taking into account the price they had paid."This is just NOT good enough..."
If you go up to stay at Angel Falls expect things to be basic. There will be food and "some" water. Take any booze but also take some extra water for cleaning your teeth etc. Don't forget the guide companies have to lug the stuff up there.
(Ear plugs are a must... snorers...)
I also recommend taking the tractor & trailer option on the way up; the walk is a bit of a slog. In the canoe our guide allowed us to spend some of the trip sitting on our life-jackets, but other groups were not allowed to, the nearly three hours sitting on a small hard wooden bench is not much fun... Shoes get wet...
I went to Canaima in August 2009. There were lots of mozzies. We didn't have to portage on the river trip up to Angel Falls but the boat was bottoming a lot. I can imagine that in drier times of the year there would be considerable scrambling up through the rocks. I was told that earlier in the year tourists were arriving with no idea that due to the lack of river flow it was impossible to get up to Angel Falls. The locals in Canaima had to put up with a lot of criticism when, in their opinions, the European travel agents should have been informing their clients.
We arrived in the afternoon and trekked up to the viewpoint (me 50 mins, my wife 1.30 hrs) - sunny and clear. The next morning the falls were covered in mist... tough on the group that had stayed the night with the plan to trek up then.
Of the gift shops the one nearest the airport was the most reasonably priced.
All in all we had a great visit. We had a great time.
A lot of people just do day cruises on the Rhine. Bingen and Koblenz are the scenic parts of the Rhine River, to be sure. But if you're going alone, a cruise alone the river can be an excellent way to get a feel for some of Europe's best attractions.
You can stay in the cities and not see the countryside, or you can take the train all over the map... and have the countryside blur by you at frightening speeds. I like the boat because it is slow, leisurely, and actually feels like a vacation.
For a 1.5 week trip (which I think is about the max most of us can do on vacation), here's what I would recommend for a Rhine River Cruise:
You can get all the way from Amsterdam to Colmar in nine days, at a relaxed pace, seeing a ton of quaint locations along the way.
I found this travel agency via a Lonely planet guidebook. I took their football experience tour to watch a River vs Boca game and it was the greatest event and atmosphere I have ever experienced in my life:)
After that I booked with them a tour in Patagonia and a few more tours in Buenos Aires. The guides where cool and the tiger navigating expedition better then the commercial one.
I really recommend these young people for whatever you want to do in Argentina.
If you are looking to experience Costa Rica's rainforest, but like to be away from hordes of tourist, this may be your place.
Set just outside Braulio Carrillo National Park getting there is part of the adventure. A very easy bus ride to Horquetas followed by a two hour jumpy tractor ride and another two hour walk through the forest.
Their accommodation goes from extremely basic, in the Casa de Guias, set 200 metres in the middle of the forest, with no electricity to a much more comfortable Lodge.
The walks around, guided by bilingual locals, or volunteers, are through some deep jungle and are everything you would ever should expect in this environment. You will hear a lot of noises, and you may see some birds, and your guide may find some snakes, monkeys, frogs or pacas. However, always remember animals are and should be shy of humans.
This is not Manuel Antonio, a tiny park where animals can't hide, this is proper jungle, but still showers, great food, beer, and some card games after trekking for a day... and if you are brave you can swim in the cold waters of the waterfall.
This is my account of the day: adegreeaday.blogspot.com/2009/08/rara-avis-spiders-and-other-thrills.html
We have just completed our second tour with this exceptional company. They organised us a convertible car this time around to add a little extra fun.
Their knowledge of wine and gastronomy of the area is unparalleled and their high level of attention to detail and tailoring the tour to your specific requirements is why we returned a second time.
This time we focussed our wine discoveries in the Medoc area as we didn't have time to visit it properly the first time. We also enjoyed a day's private cookery class which was fantastic fun. If we ever return I think we'll go the full hog and ask for their chauffeured services when we go vineyard hopping.
I would like to recommend an Art Nouveau bus tour operated by ARAU (Atelier de Recherche et d'Action Urbaines), a non-profit local resident's group of architects, designers and interested citizens. The tour takes you to the most extravangant houses of the time around 1900, explaining not only who built it, but also who lived in it and what happened to the building throughout the century. The tour includes visits to the interiors of some Art Nouveau buildings, some of which are not open to the public.
The tour guide we were lucky to join was a very entertaining man, who also told us a lot about city developement and the way Brussels deals with its historical monuments.
It is rare to find a tour operator as friendly, informative and efficient as this one. All our tours involved very small groups (in one case just the two of us) and personalized service at no extra cost. No busloads, no being herded around like cattle. Highly recommended.
We recently returned from a Champagne-tasting weekend booked with Grape Escapes where you abseil into the wine cellars. It was brilliant fun - and a different twist to the usual vineyard tours. We got to learn how to open a champagne bottle with a sword too. Good value and good fun!
The Cantillon Brewery is the last of what were once plentiful Gueuze Breweries in Belgium. The family brewery makes Gueuze, a unique beer that depends entirely on windborn yeast to complete the beermaking process, introducing an element of luck that most brewmasters wouldn't dream of accepting. To use the wild yeast the brewery has a number of unique features that cannot be found in any other brewery.
The location is also ideal. Just a fifteen minute walk from Brussels' Grand Place, there is no problem with imbibing as much of this wonderful beer as you would like and then wondering how to get home. The metro public transport system makes this a wonderfully tasty and safe experience.
On the very occasional rainy day in Yorkshire there can be no better way to while away a few hours than a visit to the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham. At the "Shepherded" tour you will learn about the traditional brewing process in the warm and barley scented environment sets one up nicely for a sample of the ales.
I would recommend the Golden Sheep or perhaps the special Monty Python's Holy Grail (tempered over burning witches!). Best of all are the Bistro and Baa..r; wonderful food, huge portions in a lovely setting with views out over the Dales (when it's not raining that is). Puns are definitely the order of the day here but don't feel sheepish - it's a visit ewe won't regret.
The surrounding village of Masham is also worth exploring; there's a village square, a great little grocery and sweetshop and, if you haven't had quite enough beer yet, it is also home to Theakston's brewery with a visitor centre.
Black Sheep Brewery, Wellgarth, Masham HG4 4EN tel:01765 689227
Visitor car park
I really recommend taking a tour around one of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro - it is one of the most interesting (and exciting!) things I have done during my travels. It's a real eye-opener to wander down through the tiny streets of the favelas, seeing how so many people live in such poverty. All the people we passed seemed happy, were incredibly friendly and loved to have their photos taken (except for the drug dealers, who we were advised not to photograph!). Absolutely fascinating trip, with the added thrill of a ride on the back of a motorbike to get there. Great views of the city too.
Rocinho favela, tour arranged by bealocal.com
Holidaying in the wettest part of Britain is always a risk, so if you're at a loss for something to do when the rain inevitably come down on the Lake District, why not try the Jennings Brewery tour at Cockermouth?
It's quite a large real ale brewery with plenty to see and a very good choice of beers in their bar afterwards. There's also a shop.
While each of these breweries might well give you a tour, each of them is so small you can see what’s going on while you taste their wares. The end of September is the Great American Beer Festival and the perfect excuse to wind through the autumnal mountains and deserts in search of a hearty brew.
The claim for Colorado’s first Microbrewery lies just north of Denver in the university town of Boulder. The Boulder Beer Company has its own huge range of beers with seasonal additions and everything from lemony wheat beers to deep dark porters. On the way up, you’ll pass Fort Collins where the large New Belgium Brewery lies and you’ll find these beers all over the country. You can tour this site to see just what care and attention goes into the production of these relatively small batches. Pick up an Onion to read on your travels and get into the vibe of this beer hunt.
Just west from Denver, in Golden, Miller has their Coors factory and a purpose built town to run the thing. The tour is free and gives you three half pints of beer to try at the end of your journey round one of the biggest breweries in the world. You’re here to see what NOT to do.
Heading down highway 70, you’ll hit Idaho Springs where the Tommyknockers brew their range of interesting beers. The food is just what you want from this backwoods hangout and the beer comes to take away in Growlers. While you’re here you can sample the waters in an amazing 60s throwback ‘spa’, and stroll the cowboy main street.
These being the Rockies, there’s a lot of thermal water about and Glenwood Springs, just the other side of a gorgeous canyon, about two hours from Idaho Springs, makes a great stop, the baths here are open air and lie right next to the Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub. As well as beer, you’ll also often find mead on the menu, just to give your hopped out palette a rest.
From here you can hop on a train to Utah, and another home of small time brewery, Salt Lake City. You can learn all about the LDS or explore the ring of ski resorts that tower over the flat of the city. If you want to return east, you could get on the train, or in the land of the freeway, you’d be advised to head south and into Mesa Verde, and Durango before snaking your way through Colorado Springs and back to Denver.
Established in 1868 this wonderful brewery on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island produces a wide variety of tasty beers, from "summer" to "black". The local population boycotted its main rival's beer a few years ago when the brewery was threatened with closure, saving it!
The best part of the tour is at the end when, after already tasting all the beers, the guide leaves you in the bar and says "do what you like for 10 minutes....." It's amazing how much can be drunk in such a short time!!
corner Turamaha & Herbert Streets, Greymouth, www.monteiths.com/nz (03)7684149
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com