Machu Picchu, Peru

pmMake this the summer you take, or plan, that bucket-list trip through the Sacred Valley of the Inca to the ancient city of Machu Picchu. Get inspired closer to home at two Washington, D.C., events: the Peru-focused Smithsonian Folklife Festival (June 24-28 and July 1-5) and the National Museum of the American Indian exhibition “The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire” (June 26, 2015, through June 1, 2018). Then, book a group tour such as National Geographic Expeditions’ Peru: Land of the Inca, or a classic, four-day hiking trek to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail.

To help protect the integrity of the legendary route, only 500 government-issued Inca Trail permits are available per day. But limited access shouldn’t dissuade people from making the trip, says Alistair Butchers of G Adventures, which leads a variety of Sacred Valley tours. “It’s important for travelers to visit … and do so in a sustainable manner, so they can become ambassadors and help spread the word about the importance of sustainable tourism,” he says. “Through awareness and education we can help preserve iconic destinations such as the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu.”

How to Get Around: If permits are sold out during

Raja Ampat a quick guide to visiting the idyllic Papuan archipelago

indexPicture a tropical archipelago of steep, jungle-covered islands, glittering white-sand beaches, hidden lagoons and luminous turquoise waters. Now throw in pristine coral reefs inhabited by clouds of tie-died fish. Place it in a remote corner of Indonesia largely unknown to foreign tourists, and you end up with the Raja Ampat islands: the ultimate tropical paradise.

Why go?

It’s a big call, but the collection of 1500-odd islands and islets scattered off the northwest tip of Indonesian Papua that comprise Raja Ampat is truly one of Southeast Asia’s most beautiful archipelagos. If that isn’t a good enough reason to put Raja Ampat on your must-visit list then consider the diving, which many authorities on the matter claim is among the world’s best.

Little-known outside hardcore off-the-beaten-track travel circles until the last few years, Raja Ampat’s huge, largely pristine coral reef systems and staggering marine diversity are a diver’s dream. Described by scientists as a ‘species factory’, this region nestled in the heart of the Coral Triangle is home to more than 10 times the number of hard coral species found in the Caribbean.

When to go

The 10 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Indonesia

56-403916-telaga-warna-dieng-plateau-7493145002-When we think about Indonesia, we often think about Bali. But Indonesia is much more than that. It’s a country rich in cultural diversity, home to around 300 ethnic groups and 700 languages. It is one of the largest countries in the world, counting around 17,500 magnificent islands, some of which are still unexplored. This list will explore the top ten places to see while you are traveling across the country.

Dieng Plateau, Central Java

Formed after the eruption of the mountain Prau, the Dieng Plateau is a caldera complex situated at 2,000 meters above sea level. Its location makes it one of the coolest destinations in Indonesia, and the change is easily noticeable coming from the surrounding lowlands. The major sights to visit there include a multicolored lake, a hot spring, breathtaking sceneries from the peaks and ancient Hindu temples. Different in character from the rest of Java, trekking through the lush rolling hills, passing by beautiful plantations, and breathing in the fresh air while looking at the mountains in the horizon, is one of the most

Battambang Cambodia’s lesser-known city

The laid-back city of Battambang in Cambodia’s northwest may have a sleepy ambience distinct from the more upbeat hot spots of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, but travellers who venture here will find plenty of excuses to linger.

A walkable centre, bags of old architectural charm, day trips to temples and traditional villages – plus the chance to ride on a bamboo train – are just a few reasons to include Battambang on your Cambodia itinerary

Architecture and art

Battambang’s compact central district is a fascinating jumble of French-colonial construction and vernacular shophouse architecture that has managed to withstand the long years of destruction and war. It’s a great place for a late afternoon stroll, when the worst of the day’s humidity has dissipated. The two highly informative heritage walks put together by KA Architecture Tours are a great way to explore Battambang’s notable buildings and architectural history at your own pace. Maps are free to download from their website.

Battambang’s historical role as Cambodia’s arts hub is also seeing a modern resurgence, with itsy-bitsy independent art spaces and galleries highlighting a new generation of emerging talent. Check out Lotus Bar &

Tapati Rapa Nui Easter Island’s iconic festival in images

Colorful, spectacular, grandiose – words do little justice to the annual Tapati Rapa Nui, Easter Island’s greatest festival and a vibrant celebration of the island’s Polynesian culture.

For about two weeks in the first half of February, Easter Island (Rapa Nui) comes alive with a series of music, dance, cultural and ancestral sport contests between two clans. Each one puts up a candidate who stand for the title of queen of the festival. This year, Tapati festivities take place from January 29 until February 13.

Rapa Nui’s Tapati triathlon: Taua Rapa Nui

Easter Island has its triathlon – the Taua Rapa Nui – which is one of the most impressive competitions during the Tapati festival and draws crowds from around the island. It’s held in the magical setting of the Rano Raraku crater and consists of three traditional races: the Pora, the Aka Venga and the Vaka Ama.

The Pora race

The Pora is the first race of the Taua Rapa Nui triathlon; it consists of paddling across the lake inside the Rano Raraku crater on a reed boat. All competitors are dressed in traditional costumes and adorned with body paint.

The Aka Venga is the

48 hours in Dallas

During a quick stopover in America’s ninth largest city you’ll happen upon world-famous art and stylish eateries before you see a pair of spurs or chaps. And like elsewhere in Texas, hearty cuisine and wide smiles come in large portions in Dallas

Dallas combines competing images of the Lone Star State. As one of the largest cities in Texas, Dallas’ skyline is a glassy dream, packed with jutting high-rises and LED-lined architecture. But within these city streets lives an only-in-Texas vibe, where cowboy hats and snakeskin boots adorn night-out attire, and the aroma of barbecue lasts until well after midnight.

The Dallas Central Business District (CBD) is the heart of the city, bordered by Reunion Tower’s iconic GeO-Deck to the west and the 75-year-old farmers market to the east. But a real experience of Dallas’ charms should include a foray into its ultra-hip neighborhood, Deep Ellum. Follow this itinerary for the perfect quick trip to this iconic Texan city.

Day 1

Morning brunch and vertigo-inducing sightseeing

Mix class with culture by heading downtown for breakfast at CBD Provisions (cbdprovisions.com), a big-city eatery with a rustic feel. The green chili pork migas – a Mexican-influenced bowl

Free rein the remarkable street art of Bogotá

Without fear of arrest, Bogotá’s street artists are able to take their time creating masterpieces on the walls of Colombia’s capital city. The incredible works vary in method, scale and message, with many containing fascinating cultural nuances and historical references. 

To promote the artists to an international audience and help visitors decipher many of the messages contained in the art, the Bogotá Graffiti Tour was started. The twice daily 2½-hour walking tour through the city is thoroughly rewarding. Simply show up at Parque de los Periodistas in the city center and join in the street art crawl.

A crime no longer

Until 2011 graffiti was a crime in Bogotá, with artists working in fear and under the cover of darkness. Then on August 19, 2011 a 16-year-old street artist by the name of Diego Felipe Becerra was shot to death by police while spray-painting his trademark Felix the Cat on Boyaca Ave. Despite paint on his hands and a bullet in his back, police accused him of robbery and reported that they had killed him in self-defense. The outcry, which included condemnation from the United Nations and the eventual arrest of the two officers, triggered a massive shift

Cheapest ski resorts for February half-term

Bankso in Bulgaria has been announced as the cheapest ski destination in the world this February half-term.

A week’s holiday for a family of four will set you back £2,992 or £748 per person.

Bankso can be found in the south west of Bulgaria at the base of the Pirin Mountains. The resort boasts some of the longest ski runs in the country.At the opposite end of the scale, Vail in Colorado has been named the most expensive resort for families this half-term.

It costs around £9,924 to take a family of four to Colorado to experience the snow – more than three times the amount you would pay for your week in Bankso.

Vail is one of the largest ski resorts in the world with more than 5,200 acres of ski and snowboard ground

The Central Piedmont Alps in Italy have been named as the second best value for a half-term ski trip this year – although you will have to fork out 50 per cent more than you will in Bulgaria.

A week in the Italian resort with your family will cost £4,500, a £356 increase on the overall costs in the same resort in 2015.

The Piedmont Alps

Gear Tips for Tech Savvy Travelers

In this tech-boom age, every season brings a new set of products that promise to simplify our lives.

But technology can be a double-edged sword. Travelers fond of the newly unveiled iPhone 5 and other state-of-the-art gadgets can be wary of bringing all that expensive gear along with them when they go abroad.

That’s why I put this list together — to highlight some stand-out gear that will fit easily into your carry on and make your next trip virtually stress-free.

Here are my recommendations for the tech-savvy traveler in no particular order:

  1. The last thing you want to be doing on that once-in-a-lifetime trip is untangling a bunch of meddlesome cords. AViiQ’s portable travel bagcharges your phone, camera, and other electronic gadgets via a USB hub and comes equipped with a cable rack system that will keep your cords in check.
  2. Misplacing your hotel key, wallet, or smartphone is a surefire way to ruin a vacation. Keep a digital eye on all your important travel accoutrements with the Cobra Tag. Just attach the device to your keychain — after downloading the accompanying (and free) mobile app — and it will remind you when you’ve left something behind

How to Pack for Weekend Trips

Packing for a weekend away isn’t an exact science. I’m not going to tell you “bring two dresses and a pair of jeans.” So much depends on where you’re going, the weather, and your personal style. But I do have some tips I can offer to help you pack for success.

If I’m traveling, I’m usually working, so I have to bring my laptop. Once you know what you’ll actually need, you can start thinking about things you want to bring. Bottom line: Pack what makes you feel your best and what won’t hold you back from adventure.

Here are seven things to think about while you’re packing for your next weekend trip:

  1. Keep calm and carry-on.If you remember your passport, credit cards, and medications you might need when you’re running around before a flight, you’re halfway to golden. Most everything else can be purchased later if left behind. But don’t you dare check a bag on a weekend getaway! Even if you’re not flying, you don’t want to be weighed down. That said, quality luggage is one of the most important investments a traveler can make. Luxury hotel inspector Tiffany Dowdand Erik Wilkinson, a director

My Travel Essentials

I’ve spent the night in four different countries this week.

I went diving on Mexico’s coral reef, was interviewed on French-Canadian television, did laundry in Washington, D.C., and then flew to Buenos Aires for last night’s marvelous dinner at La Cabrera.

Though the life of a modern-day nomad sounds extremely fun, it is also a little hectic. Like traditional nomads, I live in the moment but I am also always thinking about what comes next. Tomorrow brings new adventures with new demands—today’s scuba gear won’t fare well on the Tokyo subway or on horseback in Patagonia.

Thus the contents of my pack change all the time. In the past, I’ve openly shared what I carried for a bus trip to Antarctica and all the gear that lives inside my Digital Nomad office-in-a-backpack. This time, I’m showing you my travel essentials—my basic travel accessories that I almost always have with me.

Now I’m a firm believer that things don’t make you a better traveler, but certain things can make life on the road a lot more comfortable. This is what I’m carrying for my current journey:

  • Passport (with extra pages). Everybody should have a

How to Be a Good Traveler in 10 Easy Steps

Those who leave their homes for temporary jaunts to other places can be sorted into three basic categories:

Tourists, travelers, and good travelers.

(Notice that last one wasn’t capitalized — this isn’t about me.)

I owe many of my most memorable trips to the serendipitous kindness of strangers, and am firm in the belief that you get what you give when you travel. Here are a handful of easy tips to help you bring the good to your own journeys:

  1. Stop acting like you know. Taxi drivers and bartenders are your consiglieres, your guides. Don’t tell them where you want to go; ask them to point you where you should be. This also applies at restaurants. I gave up menus and entrees years ago. Make snacks your friends and simply ask the experts (i.e. people who work there) what you should be eating. If you already know what you want, then you really didn’t need to leave home in the first place.
  2. Tap your friends (and friends of friends) for advice. Ask people what you should go see. I found all the highlights of this road trip by following suggestions from locals (some of them strangers, but

The 10 Rules of Packing

When you’ve spent more than a decade on the road, you get asked some pretty interesting questions. The one query I get most, though, is about packing: what to take, what to leave, where to put it. I’ve taken scads of trips, but every time I get back, I know I could have gone even lighter. Let’s save you some trouble and start with the basics of my lessons learned.

The 10 Rules of Packing

  1. The Golden Rule: Take half of the clothes you were planning to bring and twice the money. I cannot stress how true this is.
  2. Take only what you can fit in a carry on. We’ve all lost luggage before, and it’s a pain. But when it’s 3 degrees in Poland and you’re rocking those horrible sweats you insist on wearing on long flights, hearing “as soon as we find your bag, we’ll send it to you” can really put a damper on your first day. And — no offense to the Polish — but having to buy an entire wardrobe in Warsaw might not be exactly how you want to spend your travel pennies. This also means you’ll have luggage with wheels,

The Best Time to Vacation in Mexico

There is no single best time to go to Mexico, a country where the climate is warm and sunny for much of the year. Good weather is Mexico’s siren song, but the country’s culture also beckons and browsing the local calendar may be just as important as checking the weather forecast. Across the country, communities of all sizes celebrate with a parade of fiestas throughout the year, offering visitors a quintessential Mexican experience.

Climate

Despite its geographic diversity from tropical coastal plains to high, snow-capped mountains, Mexico enjoys a generally benign climate. There are occasional disruptions — afternoon summer thunderstorms in the tropics; cold, rainy fronts that sweep down from the north in winter; and the hurricane season that runs from summer to early fall for residents along the Pacific, Caribbean and Gulf coasts.

Beaches

Mexico’s beach resorts enjoy warm winter weather which is reflected in the peak season hotel prices. Rooms may be hard to find during Easter Week when Mexicans flock to the beaches. Room prices fall in the summer as the humidity rises along the southern Pacific coast, the Gulf coast and on the Rivera Maya. Brief afternoon rain showers occur in the Baja in summer, but the peninsula

Arizona

By day, Sedona’s dramatically sculpted red rock backcountry is the main draw for hikers, mountain bikers, rock climbers, and off-road “Jeepers.” But, at night, all eyes are on the skies. Named the world’s eighth International Dark Sky Community in 2014, Sedona (elevation 4,600 feet) is one of the best places in the world to witness celestial wonders such as a blue moon.

“Don’t think for a second that outdoor adventures end when the sun goes down in Sedona,” says Jennifer Wesselhoff of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau. “That azure sky—so pure, perfect, and devastatingly blue all day—turns into a glittering blanket of heavenly bodies at night. Lack of light pollution combined with haze-free, low humidity desert skies make Sedona a paradise for stargazers.”

How to Get Around: Sedona is located in north-central Arizona two hours north of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport via I-17 North. From the airport, rent a car or book a commercial shuttle. In Sedona, rent a Jeep for a half or full day to four-wheel on roads and trails in the surrounding Coconino National Forest.

Where to Stay: Located within Boynton Canyon and surrounded by red rock cliffs, Enchantment Resort is an oasis with minimal light

Athens, Greece

Experience international theater, opera, classical music, and dance performances in a variety of magnificent modern and ancient spaces. Venues for the 60th Athens and Epidaurus Festival range from the industrial Peiraios 260 (housed in a former Athens furniture factory) to the ancient theater of Epidaurus, built in 340 B.C., buried for nearly 1,500 years, and renowned for its preserved limestone tiers and near perfect acoustics. The festival program includes Greek productions (ancient tragedies and new plays), a Greco-Japanese co-production of Homer’sNekyia, and new interpretations of European classics.

New for 2015: performances designed to spark dialogue about topical Greek issues such as homelessness, job loss, financial insecurity, refugees, and immigrants. During the interactive street performance “In the Middle of the Street” (July 7), audience members can use an MP3 player and earphones to hear the voices and stories of Athens’s newly homeless.

How to Get Around: Most festival venues are in Athens and are accessible via public transportation (bus, trolley bus, Metro, or electric railway). Two venues—the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus and the Little Theatre of Epidaurus—are located in Argolis on the Peloponnese peninsula, about two hours west of Athens by car or bus. Reduced intercity bus fares from Athens are available when purchasing tickets for

Konstanz, Germany

Pedal at your own pace through three countries and around Germany’s largest lake on the Lake Constance (or Bodensee) cycle route. Located in the northern foothills of the Alps, the 40-mile-long lake—essentially a bulge in the Rhine River—is “narrow enough to see across,” says Jim Johnson, president of BikeToursDirect. The asphalt Bodensee-Radweg bike path covers nearly the entire 170-mile circumference of the lake, adds Johnson, who has pedaled the route, and whose tour company offers self-guided Lake Constance biking itineraries (April to October). “By the time you make your way around the lake, you’ve visited three countries: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland,” he says. “The shoreline is dotted with magical, medieval cities and towns, the occasional castle, and peaceful rural villages.” If you’re not up for biking the whole route, hop a ferry to cross the lake or connect to the next city, suggests Johnson. “It’s as easy as rolling your bike onboard. Then, watch the shore, villages, forests, castles, and Alps flow by.”

How to Get Around: Konstanz, located in southwestern Germany, is the German gateway city for Lake Constance. The closest international airport is Zurich in Switzerland (an hour by bus and about 80 minutes by train). Bike rentals are available in Konstanz

The Best Vacations for Couples in the USA

No matter what you and your significant other think is the perfect vacation, the immense variety of the United States offers a spot for you to relax, recharge and enjoy each other’s company. There’s no one “best” vacation to fit all preferences, but whether you want to lie on a beach, cuddle in a mountain cabin, enjoy the great outdoors or stroll through a city to a gourmet restaurant, the two of you can make memories to last a lifetime by exploring all that America has to offer.

Northeast

Millions of tourists visit New York City every year, with good reason: gourmet restaurants, world-class hotels, museums, clubs, shopping and iconic sites to visit. Hold hands with your partner on the top of the Empire State Building, stroll through Central Park or take the ferry to Staten Island for a view of the Statue of Liberty. The CBS Local website recommends The Chatwal (thechatwalny.com) and NYC.com lists the Bryant Park Hotel (bryantparkhotel.com) among the many romantic hotels available in the city. The Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania combine natural beauty with resorts designed for romantic getaways, including the Cove Haven Resorts (covepoconoresorts.com/rooms), where you can find heart-shaped whirlpool tubs for two,

Visit to malang city

Malang is the second largest city in East Java with a rapidly growing population of about 1.2 million.

This is a city of great historical significance. The oldest existing record of Malang as a regency is from the 8th century when it was the seat of government of the ancient Kanjuruhan and Singhasari kingdoms. The city officially became part of the all encompassing Javanese Mataram kingdom in the 17th century which by that time was controlled by the Dutch colonialists. Unsurprisingly given that history, there are several interesting Hindu relics in this area. The city quickly became very popular with the Dutch due to its cool climate, very attractive rural surrounds and easy reach from the main trading port city of Surabaya.

Modern day Malang, although significantly urbanised, has retained much of its historical character, remains vibrant and is regarded as by far the most attractive large city in the East Java region.

Malang Regency is located between two groups of mountains with Mount Semeru, the highest mountain on Java, and Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park to the east. The biggest attraction here must be the beautiful landscape, in addition to which there are some temples not

Indonesia travel books to read before you go

With its plethora of cultures, oodles of islands (17,000+) and a history that could be the plotline for an ambitious miniseries, Indonesia has inspired great reads for the road. From an exploding volcano to the violent days of the Suharto era to travellers in search of love and more, you’ll find books to inspire, inform and delight.

Indonesia Etc, by Elizabeth Pisani (2014)

In one of the best and most readable travel narratives on Indonesia, Pisani covers over 42,000km in one year as she tries to make sense of this vast archipelago with its 360+ different ethnic groups, 700-odd spoken languages and islands from large and populous to tiny and forgotten. She writes with poise, wit and brilliance as she draws on her 25 years living in the nation and enjoys the literal trip of a lifetime.

A Brief History of Indonesia, by Tim Hannigan (2015)

The subtitle says it all: ‘Sultans, Spices, and Tsunamis: The Incredible Story of Southeast Asia’s Largest Nation’. Indonesia expert Hannigan offers a highly readable and entertaining narrative that highlights the many personalities who have shaped the nation – and our perception of it. English pirates, Indian mystics, Chinese

Exploring Kota Jakarta’s old town

While Indonesia’s capital is powering ahead as a global business hub, Kota, its old town, is arguably still its top traveller highlight. Indonesia’s Dutch colonial roots can be explored here, and Jakarta’s historical quarter gives a snapshot of how the cityscape looked before the skyscrapers moved in.

In the 1600s, Kota became the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company. Sadly this colonial heritage was not preserved as well as it has been in the likes of other Southeast Asian colonial outposts such as Singapore and Penang, and there are only a few remnants of the attractive wooden-shuttered buildings left today. Still, Taman Fatahillah (Fatahillah Square) and its surroundings are a sensory feast for a first-time visitor to the city.

Set off on a walking tour at Kota Intan bridge (also known as Chicken Market Bridge). Constructed by the Dutch in the 17th century, the wooden drawbridge extends over the Kali Besar canal, and would have been raised to accommodate merchant ships. The last remining bridge of its kind, it is no longer raised, and can’t be crossed by pedestrians – its planks are in disrepair – but there is talk of a renovation project. For

Learning to freedive in Indonesia

Freediving. It’s easy to understand its appeal. Keen to experience the deep ocean without the cumbersome steel tank and tangle of tubes myself, I decided to give it a whirl on a trip to Indonesia’s Gili Islands.

Freediving is an athletic sport, requiring a certain standard of fitness so you can swim down to a reef and then fin your way up to the surface again. I’ve snorkelled for years, but aware that my technique and safety awareness was lacking, I enrolled on a course at Freedive Gili in gorgeous Gili Trawangan, a small island off the northwestern coast of Lombok. The school is owned by Mike Board, UK Full Immersion freedive record holder and his partner Kate Middleton (no British royal relation!), yoga teacher, and also an expert freediver.

A growing sport

Humans have freedived for millennia. Scandinavian records of freediving date back to 5000BC, the ancient Greeks practised it, and communities of women in Japan (known as ama) and Korea (haenyeo) freedive today to gather shellfish, seaweed and pearls.

Competitive freediving (immortalised in the film The Big Blue) has really taken off in the last 20 years and there are now events