Sunday, 30 September 2012

Peru Travel: The Wari Culture

The Peruvian highlands are generally less visited than other more famous areas of the country such as Cusco or Puno. However they possess some hidden gems that should not be missed on a trip to Peru. This culturally rich region abounds with archeological sites, fascinating unspoiled traditions and particularly hospitable people that will make your trip to Peru unforgettable

One of the many interesting sites of Rio Mantaro Valley, in the central sierra, which will ravish all history addicts is the impressive ruins of the ancient capital of the Wari Empire. Fairly unknown by the majority of tourists to Peru, the Wari is a fascinating culture which once encompassed several hillsides outside Ayacucho, between 600 and 1,100 AD. The Wari site is located about 14 miles (23km) north of Ayacucho, and is believed to have been home to over 50,000 at the peak of its development.

The Wari, also spelled Huari, were a militaristic, expansionist and very religious society in the 7th century who managed to conquer most of Peru where they established a strong and oppressive empire, imposing their own language and culture on their subjects. The Wari empire reached its apogee in the 9th century before fragmenting into several sub-groups which were eventually conquered by the Incas.

There are several Wari sites remaining in Peru, the best known being Cerro Baul, north ofMoquega in the far South of the country, Toro Muerto, which are petroglyphs about three hours from Arequipa, the Pachacamac site south of Lima, Pikillacta nearby Cusco, and Wilcahuain near Huaraz. The capital city in the highlands near Ayacucho is the most impressive remnant of the Wari culture.

The influence of the Wari culture on Peruvian history has been particularly strong as they were the first to built roads connecting their outposts, system later extended by the Incas. Their massive buildings were made to resists earthquakes often feature polygonal rock blocks, an architectural element which the Incas also adopted. The Waris are also known for their extraordinarily refined tapestries and woven textiles, among the best produced by any culture in the world. Some well-preserved examples can be seen in several museums in the country.

By : Hortense Soulier

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Travel the Route of 1000 Kasbahs in Marrakech

A Marrakech holiday is one full of exotic and rich culture. As you wander the souks and sample the tagine, you will experience a world a million miles away from your own. But outside of the city walls there is an entirely different world awaiting you. Your holiday in Marrakech will take a different turn as you journey the Route of 1000 Kasbahs towards the Atlas Mountains.


Ouarzazate, known to the Moroccans as 'the door of the desert', is the first stop for those wishing to take their Marrakech holidays out of the city. South of the High Atlas Mountains, the Berber province has become known for the fortified city or ksah, Ait Benhaddou. This beautifully structured, mud-brick fortification contains many wonderful examples of Kasbahs and, though most inhabitants have moved on, it still houses twelve families who repair the damage the ksah suffers with each heavy rainfall. As you make your way up through the city you'll pass collections of goods crafted by these dwellers, which you can buy as an entirely unique souvenir of your trip. A particularly impressive example of the Moroccan Kasbahs, Ait Benhaddou has been the setting for many successful movies, including Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Alexander and The Mummy.

Dades Gorge

Travel a little further into the Atlas Mountains themselves, and you will find the Dades Gorge. The marvellous colours of the valley are the first thing to notice, with the green riverbed lined with volcanic red rock. Impressive Kasbahs are dotted over the landscape, blending in with the soil and rocks so that you have to look twice to see them. The winding roads take you through the magnificent scenery and lush palms of the mountains, and past fascinating landscapes, including the bizarre rock formation known as 'the Monkey Fingers' due to its uncanny resemblance. Venturing into the Dades Gorge allows you to see breathtaking backdrops unlike anything you will see in Marrakech. Holidays to Morocco are enormously enriched by the colourful landscapes of the Dades Gorge.

The Skoura Oasis

Found in the middle of the Dades Plain, the Skoura Oasis radiates an air of peace. The immense palm groves make visitors feel as if they have been wrapped up in nature itself. However the main reason to visit the Skoura Oasis, other than the sense of tranquillity, is to view the Amerhidl Kasbah. This 17th Century Kasbah is immortalised on the back of the 50 dirham note, and is one of the more fascinating Kasbahs in Morocco. You can take a tour of the mud-brick building, venturing through prayer rooms and kitchens that have been preserved all these years and be amused when your guide shows you traditional artefacts along the way, such as old-fashioned door locks and hairbrushes, to see if you can work out how they were once used. Resembling an Eastern castle, you can gaze out over the ramparts at the desert views and rows of palm trees, enjoying the peace after what was likely to have been a frantic start to your holiday in Marrakech.

Todra Gorge

Slightly less secluded but equally magnificent is the Todra Gorge, found on the east side of the mountains. Cool your feet in the stream running through the gorge, and watch as Moroccan families go about their business - swimming, washing fruit, and even doing their laundry. One of the most dramatic sights to be seen in Morocco, standing at the bottom of this cut in the mountain looking up at the dizzying height of the walls above, you will be glad that you ventured out of Marrakech. Holiday makers from all over Morocco travel to the Todra Gorge regularly, in order to enjoy the cool, fresh streams running through the gorge.

Marrakech holidays are undoubtedly full of dramatic and fascinating culture that you are unlikely to have experienced before. But the areas surrounding Marrakech and stretching into the Atlas Mountains have so much to offer. For truly outstanding landscapes, be sure to head out of Marrakech along the Route of 1000 Kasbahs.

By : Nick Wrightman

Tuesday, 25 September 2012



The Nile is the longest river in the world, stretching north for approximately 4,000 miles from East Africa to the Mediterranean. Some people believe that the river Nile has its source at th Ripon Falls in Uganda where it leaves Lake Victoria. The Nile has been a source of contention between Egypt and the East African Countries namely Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.

Studies have shown that the River (Iteru, meaning, simply, River, as the Egyptians called it) gradually changed its location and size over millions of years. The Nile flows from the mountains in the south to the Mediterranean in the north. Egyptians travelling to other lands would comment on the "wrong" flow of other rivers. For example, a text of Tuthmosis I in Nubia describe the great Euphrates River as the "inverted water that goes downstream in going upstream."

Three rivers flowed into the Nile from the south and thus served as its sources: the Blue Nile, the White Nile and the Arbara. Within the southern section between Aswan and Khartoum, land which was called Nubia, the River passes through formations of hard igneous rock, resulting in a series of rapids, or cataracts, which form a natural boundary to the south. Between the first and second cataracts lay Lower Nubia, and between the second and sixth cataracts lay upper Nubia.

Along most of its length through Egypt, the Nile has scoured a deep, wide gorge in the desert plateau. At Aswan North of the first cataract the Nile is deeper and its surface smoother. Downstream from Aswan the Nile flows northerly to Armant before taking a sharp bend, called the Qena. From Armant to Hu, the River extends about 180 kilometres and divides the narrow southern valley from the wider northern valley.
Southern Egypt, thus being upstream, is called Upper Egypt, and northern Egypt, being downstream and the Delta, is called Lower Egypt. In addition to the Valley and the Delta, the Nile also divided Egypt into the Eastern and Western Deserts.
The Nile Valley is a canyon running 660 miles long with a floodplain occupying 4,250 square miles. The Delta spans some 8,500 square miles and is fringed in its coastal regions by lagoons, wetlands, lakes and sand dunes.

The Delta represented 63 percent of the inhabited area of Egypt, extending about 200 kilometres from south to north and roughly 400 kilometres from east to west. While today the Nile flows through the Delta in only two principal branches, the Damietta and the Rosetta, in ancient times there were three principal channels, known as the water of Pre, the water of Ptah and the water of Amun. In classical or Graeco-Roman times, these were called the Pelusiac, the Sebennytic, and the Canopic branches. There were additionally subsidiary branches or artificially cut channels.
The most dominant features of the Delta as the sandy mounds of clay and silt that appear as islands rising 1-12 meters above the surrounding area. Since these mounds would not be submerged by the inundation, they were ideal sites for Pre-dynastic and Early Dynastic settlements, and indeed evidence of human habitation has been found. Perhaps these mounds rising above the water table inspired the ancient belief of creation as having begun on a mound of earth that emerged from the primordial waters of Nun.

There were several major oases of the Western desert, which comprised about 2/3 of Egypt: the Fayoum, where during the Middle Kingdom period the capital of all Egypt was situated, and which increasingly became one of the most densely populated and agriculturally productive area in Egypt, the Bahriya, where many sarcophagi of the Graeco-Roman period have been found, the so-called Golden Mummies, Kharga and Dakhla, which were known for their excellent wines, and Siwa, whose Oracle of Amun was consulted by Alexander the Great to demonstrate that he was the true successor to the kingship of Egypt.

The Eastern Desert was exploited in Pharaonic times for its rich minerals.
The mere mention of the name of the Nile evokes for modern man images of Pyramids, great temples, fantastic tales of mummies, and wondrous treasures. But the Nile represents life itself to the people of Egypt, ancient and modern. In fact, for thousands of years, the River has made life possible for hundreds of thousands of people and animals, and has shaped the culture we today are only beginning to truly understand.
The River filled all areas of life with symbolism. In religion, for example, the creator sun-god Ra (Re) was believed to be ferried across the sky daily in a boat (compare that to the Greeks and Romans whose non-creator sun-god rode across the sky in a chariot driven by fiery horses, and Hymns to Hapy (Hapi), the deity personifying the Nile, praise his bounty and offerings were left to him, and the creation myths, as mentioned earlier, revolve around the primordial mound rising from the floodwaters surrounding it; in ritual where Nile creatures such as the hippopotamus, whose shape the goddess Tawaret took, or the crocodile, called Sobek, or Heket (Heqet), the frog, deities deemed powerful in the processes of childbirth and fertility, were revered, in writing, where floral signs such as the lotus and papyrus figured prominently, in architecture, where the very structure of temples emulated the mounds of the Nile and its waves, from the bottom to the top of capital columns and the trim on walls, and in travel, where models of boats have been found dating from the fifth millennium BCE.

The god Hapy was earlier mentioned as being the personification of the floods and ensuing fertility. Two Hymns to the Nile, one probably composed in the Middle Kingdom, the second written later in the Ramesside period, praise Hapy and the river for its renewed life for Egypt.

"Hail to you Hapy, Sprung from earth, Come to nourish Egypt Food provider, bounty maker, Who creates all that is good! Conqueror of the Two Lands, He fills the stores, Makes bulge the barns, Gives bounty to the poor." (from the Middle Kingdom hymn as translated by Lichtheim)
From the earliest times, the waters of the Nile, swollen by monsoon rains in Ethiopia, flooded over the surrounding valley every year between June and September of the modern calendar. A nilometer was used to measure the height of the Nile in ancient times. It usually consisted of a series of steps against which the increasing height of the Inundation, as well as the general level of the river, could be measured. Records of the maximum height were kept. Surviving nilometers exist connected with the temples at Philae, on the Nubian Egyptian border, Edfu, Esna, Kom Ombo, and Dendera, as well as the best-known nilometer on the island of Elephantine at Aswan.

The ancient Egyptian calendar, made up of twelve months of 30 days each, was divided into three seasons, based upon the cycles of the Nile. The three seasons were: akhet, Inundation, peret, the growing season, and shemu, the drought or harvest season. During the season of the Inundation, layers of fertile soil were annually deposited on the flood-plain. Chemical analysis has shown how fertile the Nile mud is. It contains about 0.1 percent of combined nitrogen, 0.2 percent of phosphorus anhydrides and 0.6 percent of potassium.
Since most of the Egyptian people worked as farmers, when the Nile was at its highest and they could not plant, they were drafted by corvee into labor projects such as building Pyramids, repairing temples and other monuments and working on the king's tomb.

Herodotus, the great Greek philosopher, wrote of the Nile: "the river rises of itself, waters the fields, and then sinks back again; thereupon each man sows his field and waits for the harvest." The great historian also called Egypt the gift of the Nile. This description would lead the casual reader to imagine Egypt as being a great paradise where the people simply sat and waited for the sowing and harvesting to need be done. But the ancient Egyptians knew better. Too high a flood from their river, and villages would be destroyed; too low a flood and the land would turn to dust and bring famine. Indeed, one flood in five was either too low or too high.
The rock inscription called the Famine Stela, dated in its present form from the Ptolemaic period, recounts an incident, (whether real or fictitious is not currently known for certain), from the period of King Djoser of the 3rd Dynasty. The King writes to a governor in the south, describing himself as disheartened over the country's seven-year famine. The King learns from a priest of Imhotep that if gifts are given to the temple of Khnum, the creator-god of the region, who it was believed had control over the Nile and it's flooding, then the famine would be ended.
Many modern travellers to Egypt today take a Nile cruise as part of their package. And why not? To see the land as its people do, one must journey on the river. A felucca is often the water vehicle of choice.

The Nile flowed from south to north at an average speed of about four knots during inundation season. The water level was on average about 25-33 feet deep and navigation was fast. That made a river voyage from Thebes (modern Luxor) north to Memphis (near modern Cairo) lasting approximately two weeks. During the dryer season when the water level was lower, and speed slower, the same trip would last about two months. At the great bend near Qena, the Nile would flow from west to east and then back from east to west, slowing down travel. No sailing was done at night because of the danger of running aground on one of the many sandbank and low islands.
When one cruises on the Nile, one might pass by the ancient and significant sites of Karnak itself, Luxor, on the other side of the river from Karnak, Dendera, with its grand temple to the goddess Hathor, Abydos, with its marvelous temple built by Seti I as well as being the site of Earlier Dynastic tombs, Esna, with its temple to the potter and creator-god Khnum, lord of the region who was credited as having the power over the river and its richness, Edfu, with its temple to Horus, Kom Ombo, with its double temple to Sobek and a form of Horus called Haroeris, and Aswan itself, with its mighty modern dam. Truly, the Nile is the Heart of the ancient and modern land of Egypt.

By : Alphaxad

Thursday, 20 September 2012

While Traveling the World Avoiding Problems Is Simply Hard

People tend to pack a lot of unnecessary stuff when preparing to travel somewhere. Not only that your bags will get heavier and you'll end up paying for extra luggage but you could also get arrested and not knowing why.
First of all, take your time to consult the list of prohibited items in the country you are about to visit. For safety issues some common items are prohibited almost everywhere in the world. Even if you care for your own safety don't think about taking weapons with you or you'll end up having to go back home.

Also anything that might cause suspicions like gun-shaped lighters or toys, metal forks, knives, razors, hammers, scissors are prohibited. For sure you'll find some to buy in the country you'll spend your holiday. If you plan to practice sports there, you should know that baseball bats or golf clubs are on the "absolutely not" lists in airports for your handbag. Not to mention lighter fluids or fireworks.

Also you have to know that other items like liquids, gel products, shampoos, sun screen, creams, toothpaste in small amounts can be taken normally on planes but only if stored in transparent food bags.

Odd as it might seem in some countries you are not allowed to take vegetables or fruits with you. Citrus fruits, pome fruits, stone fruits, tropical or temperate fruits, berry fruits, beans, potatoes, garlic, onion, shallots are for example prohibited in South Australia. Fruits and veggies that are allowed there include coffee berry, pineapples and olives.
Anything you pack should be verifiable, not wrapped in gift paper.

Even if you have to take two flights to get where you want to, you should know that some items you were allowed to take in the first plane could be strictly forbidden in the second one. So you'd better consult the lists of the airline and keep your bag as simple as you can.

By : world travel

Friday, 14 September 2012

Hangzhou Travel - The "City of Heaven"

Hangzhou Travel "The City of Heaven"

Hangzhou is the "City of Heaven" and is beyond dispute the finest and noblest in the world, according to Marco polo, the great Italian traveler. Now it is renowned for its historic heritage and natural beauty and known as the most beautiful city in China. Hangzho is located in the northeast of Zhejiang Province, China. It is the capital of the province as well the provincial economy, politics, education and culture center.

Hangzhou was among one of the six ancient capitals (along with the present Beijing, Xian, Luoyang, Kaifeng and Nanjing) in Chinese history. In the times of Wu & Yue and Southern Song Dynasty, Hangzhou reached its prime in terms of economic and political development.

A Hangzhou travel is regarded as an experience of the beautiful southern China's scenery and its rich historical heritage. One of Hangzhou's most popular sights is West Lake. The lake covers an area of 6 square kilometers and includes some of Hangzhou's most famous historic and scenic places. The area includes historical pagodas, cultural sites, as well as the natural beauty of the lake and hills. There are "Ten Scenes of the West Lake", a collection of ten scenic views formed during the Southern Song Dynasty. They are distributed around and within the lake, and serve to show the charms of the West Lake  through a use of varying locations, varying seasons, and varying times of day. Each scene is unique, and when taken together, are said to present the essence of West Lake scenery, and form the core of any West Lake tour. Following you will have a chance to appreciate the tea ceremony art in the Tea Plantation. For the rest of the day enjoy your free time to explore this heavenly beautiful city.

Lingyin Si (also Soul's Retreat Temple) is believed to be the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanghou, as well as one of the largest and wealthiest in China. Like most of the other landmarks in Hangzhou, Linyin Temple has witnessed numerous destructions and reconstructions. Nowadays, this temple is thriving as a destination for both pilgrims and tourists, home and abroad. It features a large number of grottos and religious rock carvings, the most famous of which is the Feilai Peak ("the peak that flew hither").

Hangzhou is also well known for its fame in silk industry and tea plantation. Hangzhou silk is best in the world since the past 1000 years from Tang Dynasty. Silk products are vast in Hangzhou, among which the Hangzhou Satin is the most famous and successful export products. The layered weaving process is labor intensive and produces fabulously luxurious fabric that feels great next on the skin. For visitors coming to Hangzhou, tailors are available everywhere who make dresses, shirts and other clothing from silk and satin, just within several days.

The West Lake Dragon Well Tea, grown on the hills surrounding the city, is Hanghzou's specialty. It is also called Longjing Tea, one of the best green teas in China. Dragon Well Tea is most famous for its unique fragrance and flavor; flat, slender strips of tea leaves in bright green liquid. Furthermore, Dragon Well Tea aids one's health in many ways regardless of your age. It is used to deter food poisoning, refresh the body, stop cavities, fight viruses, control high blood pressure, lower the blood sugar level, and to prevent cancer. Hence, Dragon Well Tea is regarded as the elixir for health and is widely sold and accepted all over the world.

Hangzhou Cuisine is the representative of Huaiyang Cuisine (in Zhejiang Province), one of China's eight cuisines. Hangzhou Cuisine is featured for freshness, tenderness, softness, smoothness and sweetness of its dishes with mellow fragrance. Famous dishes like West Lake Sour Fish, Dongpo Pork, Longjing Shrimp Meat, Jiaohua Young Chickens, Steam Rice Flower and Lotus Leave Wrapped Pork, etc. are widely known and loved home and abroad.

The climate in Hangzhou is humid subtropical with three distinctive seasons. The best time for the enjoyable Hangzhou tours is from spring to autumn.

Here is normal Hangzhou Highlight Tour that is from China Connection Tours:

Day 1 Hangzhou Arrival
Arrive in Hangzhou. Check into a hotel near the West Lake. Enjoy your free time around the lake.

Day 2 Hangzhou city tour with lunch.
Today you visit the beautiful West Lake by boating. After lunch for Hangzhou dishes in a local restaurant, you will visit the Lingyin Temple and Feilai Peak and then the Six Harmony Pagoda. Of course you won't miss the Tea Plantation visit to enjoy the famous Dragon Well Tea.

Day 3 Hangzhou
Depart from Hangzhou, ahead for next destination.

By : Eric Xu with China Connection Tours

Saturday, 8 September 2012

New Zealand Luxury Travel - The Effects of the Recession and the Boom Bust Cycle

The current recessionary environment sweeping the world has been notable for both its severity, and also its wide ranging scope. Travel, and in particular luxury tourism, is sentiment-driven consumption, and is therefore highly susceptible to the current recessionary mindset.

The decision to travel requires the means and the will. In a recessionary environment, both of these factors can be affected. The effects of a recession on the means are obvious: jobs are lost; investment portfolios are compromised and devalued. What is less obvious however is the effect of a recessionary mindset on the will to travel. Tourism is all about feeling good. People take luxury tours to enjoy themselves. Even though a recessionary environment might not affect the personal means of certain market segments, the general negative environment surrounding a recession is often enough to take away the feel-good factor, and therefore the will to proceed with a sentiment driven purchase.

The inbound New Zealand tourism industry is in a unique position in that our distance from almost all of our major markets makes travel to this country expensive. The cost of getting to New Zealand further encourages travelers to stay longer, thereby making their vacation even more comparatively expensive. Recognizing this paradigm, the New Zealand Tourism Industry has through the years focused on the value added segments of the tourism industry, including the luxury sector. This is an understandable position to take but does the inevitable high cost/value positioning of our tourism product make us more susceptible to recessionary down-turns? The answer to this question is complex. Our high cost/value tourism product feeds directly into a boom-bust cycle of demand. The higher cost aspect of our tourism makes us highly susceptible to the downturn of an economic cycle -the bust! Ironically however, while the distance to New Zealand underpins our high cost tourism product, it also makes the demand for the same high value product non-perishable. Put simply, a trip of this magnitude is anticipated so much that the desire to do it remains for many years even if current economic circumstances do not allow it. Any demand that is unfulfilled does not perish, but is simply deferred until circumstances improve, with a resulting deferred boom in the industry.

In summary then, the relatively isolated location of New Zealand makes it highly susceptible to a boom-bust tourism cycle. In a recessionary phase, the high comparative cost of our tourism product exacerbates a drop in demand. However the high comparative value of our luxury tourism product often results in that drop in demand being deferred until the recessionary cycle is over, with a resulting tourism boom.

It is critical for the success of tourism businesses to understand this boom-bust cycle, and use a planning horizon that covers both the boom and the bust parts of the economic cycle.

By : David Francis

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Travel the New York Main Attractions in 9 Hours

Going around the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building to Times Square, New York features a plethora of iconic landmarks, enchanting tourist spots and some historic sites. Anybody visiting New York would obviously want to see them all and not miss any. But the question is how many of them can you truly see within 9 hours.

Here are some of the memorable places you must see and the onus is therefore on you to suitably chalk out your itinerary. If you are going to come away from New York without seeing any of these, then it can be said that your trip to New York was incomplete.

Empire State Building Tour, the New York's tallest building, is an Art Deco masterpiece that was opened in 1931. Tourists can avail the elevator up to the 86th-floor observatory deck and have a commanding view of the streets of Manhattan.

New York Sky-ride - Located on the second floor of the world-famous Empire State Building, the New York Sky-ride is an exciting, fun-filled, family-friendly virtual tour simulator - the only such tour simulator in NYC. During this 30-minute tour, you will soar high above the streets of New York, viewing many NYC landmarks such as Times Square, Yankee Stadium, and the Statue of Liberty.

United Nations Building provides visitors the rare opportunity to see the world body where the leaders of the world meet to discuss all crucial international issues.

South Street Seaport is one of the most alluring areas in New York. Have a great shopping experience here and dine at any of the top New York restaurants and partake in the most exciting NYC nightlife

Museum of Modern Art is arguably the most prestigious NYC museum and art gallery. The museum features some of the most famous paintings of all time.

Central Park is one of the most salubrious parks in New York City. Spread over 843 acres, the park offers tons of things to do in NYC. Participate in the famous Central Park Carousel and the Wollman Ice Skating Rink.

Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest and longest suspension bridges in the United States. This iconic bridge, a National Historic Landmark since 1964, spans the East River and connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Grand Central Station: With 44 platforms and 67 tracks along them, Grand Central Terminal, also known as Grand Central Station, is the longest train station in the world and one of the most unforgettable sights in New York City.

Madame Tussaud Museum, in Times Square, houses some of the life-like celebrity wax figures. Watch all your favorite celebs, historical personalities, and sportsperson.

Ripley's Believe It or Not - One of the more recent additions to Times Square, 'Ripleys Believe It or Not' showcases the strange and celebrates the weird from around the world.

You can avoid paying high entrance fees at the NYC attractions. Instead, you and your family members should purchase the New York Explorer Pass. With so many pass options, you will be able to view all of the sights and many landmark sites at discounted rates.

The New York Pass provides free entry to more than 50 NYC attractions and discounts on sightseeing tours, stores, theaters, restaurants and more. The sights include the Empire State Building Observatory, Statue of Liberty tour, Ellis Island Immigration Museum, and American Museum of Natural History, Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum, NBC Studio Tour, Central Park Zoo, and many more!

By : Larry Daron