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AZERBAIJAN

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital: Baku
  • Main cities: Ganja, Sumqayit
  • Populations: 9,100,000 (As per the year 2012)
  • Currency: New manat (AZN). Travellers can take US dollars (Pristine condition only) and convert them to local currency. Most businesses accept credit cards, while there is very limited circulation of travellers' cheques. Visitors must fill in a custom declaration form on arrival and get it stamped by a customs officer. Visitors to Azerbaijan must declare amounts above AZN 10,000 (approximately 10,000 euros). Exchange rate approximates (AZN 1.28 = Sterling pound1) Tipping (10% is expected in restaurants).
  • Time: GMT +4
  • Electricity: 220 volts. Adaptor required.
  • Driving: Traffic drives on the left. International Driving permit recommended
  • Public Holidays: Include January 1,20; March 8,21; April 18,21; May 9,28; June 15,26; July 28; October 4,9; November 12,17; December 31. The list includes Muslim festivals, the dates of which are approximate.
  • Language: Azerbaijani. Also Russian, English and Turkish.
  • Religion: Shia Muslim
  • Country Dial Code: + 994
  • Getting there: (Major gateways, including Heydar Aliyev International Airport, Baku (BAK)). Typical flying time from UK is 6 hrs while from New York is 14.5 hrs via Frankfurt
  • Transfers: Baku (15 miles/25 km) bus 40 minutes; taxi 25 minutes
  • Visa requirements: A single – entry, 90 – day visa costs $ 160. All foreign visitors must register with the State Migration Service of Azerbaijan within three days of arrival
  • Health requirements: Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended. For visitors travelling outside the capital Baku, also Malaria.
  • Climate: Summer in Azerbaijan is hot and humid and autumn is warm and wet. Winter is cold and windy, while spring weather is generally unpredictable. Maximum summer temperature is an extremely high 41C; however, temperatures in the mountains and valleys can be very low. The majority of rainfall occurs in the west of the country.
  • Safety by security: It is advised to be aware against all travel to the region of Nagorno – Karabach and the surrounding military – occupied area.
  • What to eat and drink: Azerbaijani cuisine is a blend of Turkish and central Asian dishes, including kebabs, soups, spinach, rice, chickpeas and yoghurt.
  • Frequently asked questions (faque):
  • 1. What religion do Azerbaijanis follow?

A: Most of the population are Shia Muslims. There are also Russian Orthodox and Jewish communities. All religions are guaranteed freedom under the terms of the constitution

  • 2. What is the capital?

A: Azerbaijan's capital is Baku, a leading port on the Caspian Sea. With a population numbering more than 2.5 Million, Baku is Azerbaijan`s largest city; other cities include Ganja (285,000) and Sumqayit (240,000)

  • 3. Where is Azerbaijan?

A: Azerbaijan is a former soviet republic that is located on the western shore of the Caspian Sea. It is bordered by four countries; Russia to the north, Georgia to the north west, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south.

AUSTRIA

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital: Vienna
  • Main cities: Graz, Linz, Salzburgh, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt
  • Populations: 8,387,742(As per the year 2010)
  • Currency: Euro =100 cents. ATMs are widely used in Austria and are called “Bankomat”. Major credit cards are in widespread use. Exchange rate approximate (Euro 1.18 =Sterling pound 1). Tipping( It is customary to leave a 10 percent tip in restaurants and round up to the nearest euro in bars.
  • Time: GMT + 1
  • Electricity: 230 volts. Adaptor required
  • Driving: On the right. An international driver`s license is required
  • Public Holidays: Include January 1, 6; April 18, 21; May 1, 29; June 9,19; August15; October 26; November 1; December 8, 24, 25, 26, 31.
  • Language: German is spoken by 99% of the Austrian population. English is the second language and is widely spoken throughout the country.
  • Religion: Mainly Catholic. Also Protestant and Muslim minorities Some 2% belong to another faith and 17% are non-denominational. Also Jewish.
  • Country Dial Code: +43
  • Getting there: (Major gateways, including Vienna International Airport (VIE), Salzburg(SZG), Innsbruck (INN), Graz (GRZ), Linz (LNZ), Klagenefurt (KLU). Transatlantic flights operate via Vienna (VIE), Munich (MUCH) and Zurich (ZRH). Connecting flights operate to Salzburg (SZG), Innsbruck (INN), Graz (GRZ), Linz (LNZ), And Klagenfurt (KLG). Typical flying time from UK is 2 hrs (to Vienna and Salzburg), While from New York is 8 hrs, domestic 30 – 50 minutes approximation.
  • Transfers: Vienna (11 miles/ 18 km) S - Bahn 25 minutes; airport bus 30 minutes; taxi 20 – 30 minutes; City Airport Train (CAT) 16 minutes; Innsbruck (3.5 miles/ 5.5 km) bus 15 - 20 minutes; taxi 15 minutes; Graz (5.5 miles/9 km) train 12 minutes: bus 20 – 30 minutes; taxi 15 minutes Klagenfurt (3 miles/ 5 km) bus 20 minutes: taxi 15 minutes; Linz (7 miles/ 11 km) bus 20 minutes: taxi 20 minutes.
  • Getting Around: Car hire is available through international companies. The rail and bus networks in Austria are both modern and efficient. It is also possible to travel by river boat along the Danube.
  • Accommodation: Hotels up to five stars in Austria, include design hotels; apartment rental; B & B accommodation; camping; private room rental; alpine huts and also chalets.
  • Visa requirements: Austria is party to the Schengen Agreement. No visa required for stays of up to 90 days. That period begins when entering any country party to the Schengen Agreement. Direct questions to the Austrian Consulate General.
  • Health requirements:  None
  • Climate: Moderate. Summers are warm with cool nights; winters are cold, but with sunny days. The winter snow cover lasts from December to March in the valleys and November to May above 5,906ft; it becomes permanent above 9,186 ft.
  • What to eat and drink: Specialities include soups, various types of dumpling dishes and delicious sweets, cakes and pastries. Famous dishes are wiener schnitzel (breaded veal escalopes), tafelspitz (boiled beef with chive or horseradish sauce), Tiroler knodel (Tirolean dumplings), a variety of strudels like apple strudel and sachertorte (Chocolate cake with jam) or kaiserschmarren (chopped, sweetened pancakes). Vienna is famous for its coffee.
  • What to buy: Embroidery, porcelain, Lodden coats, antiques.

Major Events;

  • 1. International Balloon Festival, Filzmoos, Salzburg (January).
  • 2. Ball of the Vienna philharmonic, Vienna (January)
  • 3. Mozart week, Salzburg (January)
  • 4. Opera Ball at Vienna State Opera, Vienna (February)
  • 5. Hahnenkamm Downhill Race, Kitzbuhl (February)
  • 6. Ski and Wine Weeks, Lech (March)
  • 7. Vienna Spring Festival (March - May)
  • 8. Easter Festival, Salzburg (April)
  • 9. Vienna Life Ball (May)
  • 10. Jazz Festival, Vienna (June).
  • 11. Salzburg Festival (July - August)
  • 12. Opera Festival St Margarethen, Burgenland (July - August)
  • 13. Bregenz Festival (August)
  • 14. Imperial Ball, Vienna (December)
  • 15. Christmas Markets (Mid – November - December)
  • 16. Salzburg Jazz Autumn, Salzburg (October - November)
  • 17. Steirischer Herbst (September / October)
  • 18. Bruckner Festival, Linz (September / October)
  • 19. Haydn Festival, Eisenstadt (September)
  • 20. Danube Island Festival (September)
  • 21. Innsbruck Festival (August)
  • 22. Ambras Castle Concerts and Festival (July)
  • 23. Styriarte, Graz (June / July)
  • 24. Schubertiade, Schwarzenberg (June /August -/September)
  • 25. Narzissenfest (51th Narcissus Festival), Bad Aussee (May)
  • 26. Easter Festivals in Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck (April);

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN AUSTRIA;

  • 1. Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna
  • 2. Belvedere, Vienna
  • 3. Giant Ferris Wheel, Vienna
  • 4. Secession, Vienna
  • 5. Hohen Salzburg Fortress, Salzburg
  • 6. Golden Roof, Innsbruck
  • 7. Swarovski Crystal Worlds, Wattens, near Innsbruck
  • 8. Salt Mines, Hall Statt and Hallein
  • 9. Grossglockner High Alpine Road, Salzburg/ Carinthia.
  • 10. Mini Mundus Model Village, Klagenfurt
  • 11. Benedictine Abbey, Melk
  • 12. Armoury Graz
  • 13. Albertina, Vienna
  • 14. Museum of Fine Arts, Vienna
  • 15. Hofburg Palace, Vienna.
  • 16. Salzburg Carolina Augusteum, Salzburg
  • 17. Stift Admont, Styria
  • 18. Ambras Castle, Innsbruck
  • 19. Ambras Palace, Innsbruck
  • 20. Schonbrunn Christmas Market, Vienna

DESCRIPTIONS OF TOUR DESTINATIONS IN AUSTRIA BRIEFLY;

  • 1. OPERA HOUSES;

Viennese history is peppered with musical heritage (the likes of Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn once called the city home), so it comes as no surprise that the capital has some of the best opera houses in the world including the Vienna state opera and the Vienna volksoper. Tickets to the most popular performances go like hot cakes, so book early.

  • 2. SECESSION

Formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists, the gold - leafed  dome roof of the secession is an iconic sight, with the beautiful exterior a work of art in itself. Home to Klimt’s famous Beethoven Frieze and with regularly changing exhibitions, this is the place to be to get your art fix.

  • 3. VIENNA RING

Explore Vienna’s magnificent ring boulevard, Ringstrasse, on a tourism tram, complete with LCD screens giving information on highlights along the way, including the state opera house, Imperial palace, Parliament and Vienna city hall. However, for the real experience, grab a guide book and jump aboard a regular tram to mix in with the locals. It is a great way to get an overview of the city’s grandeur and is easy on the legs as well as the wallet

  • 4. BELVEDERE

A baroque palace complex with an upper and lower section housing expansive galleries and quaint tea rooms that can keep visitors occupied for hours. The lower belvedere houses the kiss, Viennese artist Gustav Klimt’s most evocative and famous work of art. The gardens in between the two stunning buildings are extensive and very well-tended.

  • 5. COFFEE HOUSES

The Viennese coffee house scene is more alive and diverse than ever. Its sumptuous and traditional cafes are a big attraction, as are fancy chocolatiers like Demel. Visit the Sacher Hotel to taste sachertorte, a decadent chocolate cake coated in a thin layer of apricot jam and chocolate icing.

  • 6. SHOPPING

A short distance from St Stephan’s cathedral is Plankenglasse, an architecturally impressive shopping centre with the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Balenciaga. Luxury shoppers should head for the Kohl markt area, home to traditional Viennese jewellers as well as international designer brands. For something more rough and ready, a flea market comes to life at Naschmarkt early on Saturday morning, selling everything from brick – a – brac to valuable antiques.

  • 7. MELK

An important cultural and spiritual center for over 1,000 years, MELK is famous for its Benedictine abbey - a veritable master piece of baroque architecture. Once residence of the Babenberg family, it was founded in 1089. Melk’s other buildings of note include Renaissance post office.

  • 8. SALZBURG

Best  - known as the birthplace of 18th - century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg was also  the setting for parts of the movie the sound of music. The entire old town of Salzburg was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996; highlights include Salzburg cathedral and Hohen Salzburg Castle.

 

  • 9. INNSBRUCK

With the Alps right on its doorstep, the capital of the Tirol is one of Europe`s loveliest cities, with a fascinating old town whose streets are worth lingering in. Highlights include the lavish baroque St Jacob`s cathedral, completed in 1724; the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) built for Emperor Maximilian I; and the Hofburg (Imperial Palace), which was rebuilt by Empress Maria Theresa in the 18th century.

 

  • 10. KITZBUHEL

This top ski resort owes its early prosperity to silver and copper mining now winter and summer visitors throng the streets of this delightful place. In winter, skiers hit the 60 - plus runs around the Kitzbuheler Horn and Hahnenkamm; in summer the alpine flower garden has more than 100 species in full bloom

  • 11. HOHE TAUERN

The largest national park in central Europe, Hohe Tauern covers 700 square miles and is conveniently accessed from Zellamsee, Lienz, Bad Gastein and Matrei. Besides the magnificent scenery - there are gorges, ravines, mountain lakes and waterfalls - the park offers a wealth of activities, including hiking, rock climbing, Kayaking, alpine rafting and fishing. For further details, please read - National parks around the world from this website(Tour destinations in Europe/AUSTRIA).

  • 12. DURNSTEIN

Dominated by its castle ruins and with superb views of the Danube, this picturesque walled town in Austria`s wachau region is postcard material. Within the ruined fortress, King Richard the Lionheart of England was held captive by Leopold, Duke of Austria, in 1193 and there are 16th century renaissance houses to be found.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN INNSBRUCK (AUSTRIA);

  • 1. SCHLOSS AMBRAS

Situated in the hills above Innsbruck, this 16th – century Renaissance castle is one of the city`s most stunning attractions. Built for Archduke Ferdinand II of Tirol, it consists of two parts. The upper castle has regal rooms to explore, including a portrait gallery featuring works by Titian and Velazquez, among others. Elsewhere, you can visit the sunken bath where Ferdinand’s beloved Philippine bathed, as well as the 141ft long Spanish Hall, one of the most beautiful halls built during the Renaissance. Constructed according to Archduke Ferdinand II`s instructions between 1529 and 1572, it is dominated by 27 Portraits of Tirolean rulers, from Count Albrecht I of Tirol to Archduke Ferdinand II. It now plays host to events, such as concerts of the Innsbruck Early Music Festival.

  • 2. ALTSTADT

Innsbruck`s old town has plenty of gorgeous streets worth lingering in, with its 800 -year history fusing both baroque and gothic architectural styles. This charming alpine town’s main street, Herzog Friedrich – strasse, is a great way to see buildings featuring porticos, decorated loggia and insignia beaten iron. Along this stretch, you can find the 15th - century Gasthof Weisses Kreuz, a house where Mozart resided.

  • 3. BERGISEL SCHANZE

Rising above the city is the impressive glass – and – steel ski jump, designed by the renowned Iraq – British architect Zaha Hadid. Eager fans visit from May to July to witness athletes training. The biggest event on the Ski jumping calendar is the World Cup four hills tournament in January. For a fantastic panoramic view of Inn valley, the charming city of Innsbruck itself and the Nordkette range, you have the option to climb 455 steps or take a picturesque funicular ride to the 164 ft. – high viewing platform.

  • 4. HOFBURG IMPERIAL PALACE

A Rococo treasure, this Austrian historical building is adorned with chandeliers and gold swirls. Visit the 101ft long Riesensaal (Giant’s Hall), which is lavishly embelished with frescoes and grand paintings of Empress Maria Theresa and her 16 children.

  • 5. GOLDEN ROOF

Innsbruck’s gleaming attraction is a gothic oriel built in 1500. In the heart of the old town, the three story Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof) glitters with 2,657 fire –gilded  copper tiles. Constructed as a loyal box for Emperor Maximilian I to enjoy tournaments in the square below, there are images and coats of arms adorning the balcony in his honor.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN LOWER AUSTRIA;

  • 1. LOISIUM IN LANGENLOIS

Around 60% of Austria’s grape harvest is produced in Lower Austria. This wine museum, by American architect Steven Holl, is a contemporary work of art encasing 900-year-old wine cellars surrounded by a landscape of vineyards in the renowned wine district of Niederosterreich. The tour takes visitors through the history of wine before ending in the Vinotheque, where it is possible to taste and and buy some of the best wines of Lower Austria, taking advantage of tips from the in – house Sommelier.

  • 2. SEMMERING BAHN

The first Alpine railway of its kind in the World, this mountain rail road - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - opened in 1854 and connects Lower Austria with Styria, taking 25 miles to overcome the pass at 2,939 ft above sea level. Many visitors combine the train ride with a hiking tour on the rail road trail to appreciate the stunning views and incredible feat of engineering which incorporates 14 tunnels,16 viaducts and more than 100 curved stone bridges.

  • 3. BADEN

Lower Austria is home to more than a dozen spa resorts, including Badenbeiwien (Baden near Vienna), 16 miles south of the city. Famous for its beneficial sulphurous springs with a natural temperature of up to 36C,  the curative water is the basis for numerous treatments. Take the healing waters, or head for the beautiful gardens of Kurpark, where you can watch concerts, plays and operas at an open  - air theater. The Rosarium (rose garden), with more than 20,000 roses and 860 varieties, is another peaceful haven.

  • 4. KLOSTERNEUBURG ABBEY

Located in the market town of Klosterneuburg, seven miles from Vienna, the abbey dates back to 1114 and houses a number of important artworks, including the World - famous 1181 Verdun Altar. It is also Austria`s oldest and largest winery, with a baroque cellar extending over four levels to a depth of 118 ft.

  • 5. THE WACHAU

The verdant wachau river valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, follows the River Danube for more than 20 miles from MELK to KREMS and is known for its stunning baroque architecture, monasteries, churches and vineyards. An hour`s drive from Vienna, MELK is the gateway to this region, and top attractions include MELK ABBEY, with its enormous dome and ornate bell tower. Built by Benedictine monks over 900 years ago, it is Europe`s largest Benedictine monastery and home to the world`s largest ecclesiastical library, with more than 80,000 priceless leather - bound volumes. Other highlights include the cobblestone village of Durnstein, where visitors can sip some of wachau's best crisp, dry white wines and explore the abbey and castle ruins - a great vantage point from which to enjoy the wonderful views along the Wachau Valley.

AUSTRALIA

FAST FACTS:

Capital: Canberra

  • Main cities: Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin, Hobart;
  • Populations: 22,674,736(As per the year 2011 estimates).
  • Currency: Australian dollar (A$) =100 Cents. Major Credit cards accepted. Exchange rate approximates: A$1.06=$1. Tipping (No service charge is added to restaurant and hotel bills, although a 10% tip is customary in restaurants for good service. It is recommended to round up taxi fares).
  • Time: Northeast/Southeast GMT +10. Central time is GMT +9.5. West is GMT +8.
  • Electricity: 240 volts. Adaptor required.
  • Driving: Traffic drives on the left. International driving permit is required.
  • Public Holidays: Include January 1,26; April 18,19,21,25; June 9; December 25, 26;
  • Language: English.
  • Religion: Catholic, Anglican and smaller minorities.
  • Country Dial Code: +61
  • Getting there:(Major gateways, including Adelaide(ADL), Brisbane(BNE), Cairns(CNS), Canberra(CBR), Darwin(DRW), Hobart (HBT), Melbourne (MEL), Perth (PER), Sydney (SYD). Typical flying time (New York to Sydney is 22 hrs. Los Angeles to Sydney is 14.5 hrs. New York to Perth is 25.5 hrs via Dubai. Los Angeles to Perth is 21.5 hrs via Brisbane. From UK to Perth is 18 hrs 30 minutes; UK to Sydney and Melbourne is 21 hrs 30 minutes.
  • Transfers: In Sydney, a rail link connects the airport with Sydney central station and city center. Melbourne has the Skybus Super shuttle, taking half an hour. Adelaide and Perth airports are linked by bus to their city centers, while Brisbane has the Air train. Sydney (6 miles/10 km) train 10 minutes; Melbourne (14 miles/22 km) Skybus super shuttle 30 minutes; taxi 25 minutes; Adelaide (4 miles/ 6 km) taxi 10 minutes; bus 25 minutes; Darwin (8 miles/ 12 km) bus 20 minutes; taxi 15 minutes; Alice springs(10 miles/15 km) bus; taxi; Brisbane [9 miles/15 km] Air train;taxi; Perth [6 miles/10 km] airport bus 30 minutes; taxi 20 minutes; Hobart[10 miles/16 km]. Redline bus 30 minutes; taxi 20 minutes;
  • Ports: Cairns, Darwin, Hobart, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide               
  • Getting Around: Australian cities have efficient public transport systems, most offering a range of passes for unlimited travel. Taxis throughout Australia are usually metered and are reasonably priced. For getting around the continent, visitors benefit from discounts and deals on all forms of transport. Domestic airlines fly between the major cities and to the smallest towns in the outback; the extensive rail network includes not only suburban services, but also luxury long - distance trains such as the Indian Pacific, which crosses Australia from Sydney to Perth in 65 hours. Coaches have air - conditioning and washrooms.
  • Accommodation: Everything from world class hotels in the major cities to motels, guesthouses, private homes, self - catering apartments, farmhouses and caravan/ campsites are all officially graded.
  • Visa requirements:All visitors to Australia, with the exception of New Zealand citizens, require an Electronic Travel Authority Visa (ETA), which is obtainable online or through travel agents, airlines and specialist providers. (Full details on WWW.immi.gov.au)
  • Health requirements:Yellow fever certificate if arriving within six days of having stayed at least one night in infected area.
  • Climate:Australia is in the southern hemisphere, so the seasons are the opposite to those in Europe. There are two climatic zones - the tropical north, with hot, wet summers and dry winters, and the temperate south, which has all four seasons. Snow is confined to the mountainous southeast of the country.
  • What to eat and drink: With a large immigrant population, cuisine in Australia is multicultural, from Greek, Italian, Spanish and French to Chinese, Thai, Lebanese, Indian and African. Beef is the most popular meat, lamb is of high quality; Indigenous fish dishes include Sydney rock oysters, mud crabs from Queensland, snapper, barramundi and freshwater lobster; there is a variety of fruit and vegetables. Among the drinks are wines from noted regions like the Barossa valley and renowned OZ beers such as Fosters, Becks and Castle Maine XXX. BYO (Bring your own) restaurants allow customers to take their own alcohol for consumption.
  • What to buy: Australian opals, sheep skins and leather goods, wine, Aboriginal artefacts/ Paintings.

Major Events;

  • 1. Australian Open Tennis, Melbourne(Mid-January)
  • 2. Tour Down Under, South Australia (Mid-January)
  • 3. Sydney Festival (Mid/ late January)
  • 4. Mardi Gras, Sydney (Late February/early March)
  • 5. Formula 1Grandprix, Melbourne (Late March)
  • 6. Spring Racing Carnival, Melbourne (October)
  • 7. Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race (Starts December 26 in Sydney)
  • 8. New year`s Eve celebrations (December31)
  • 9. Wildflower Festival, western Australia (September)
  • 10. Mark weber challenge, Tasmania (November)
  • 11. Sydney - Hobart Yacht Race (December)

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN AUSTRALIA;

  • 1. Kakadu National Park (Northern Territory)
  • 2. Great Barrier Reef (Queensland)
  • 3. Sydney Harbor Bridge and Bridge climb (NSW)
  • 4. Wineglass Bay (Tasmania)
  • 5. Monkey Mia (Western Australia)
  • 6. Kangaroo Island (South Australia)
  • 7. Blue Mountains National Park (NSW)
  • 8. Uluru (Northern Territory)
  • 9. Sydney Opera House (NSW)
  • 10. Whitsunday Islands and Beaches (QUEENSLAND)
  • 11. Huntger valley wine country (NSW)
  • 12. Port Stephens (NSW)
  • 13. Freycinet National Park (Tasmania)
  • 14. Pinnacles (Western Australia)
  • 15. Great Ocean Road (South Australia)
  • 16. Philip Island Nature Park (Victoria)
ARUBA

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Oranjestad

Populations; 110,000 (As per the year 2013 estimates)

Currency; Aruban florin/guilder (AFL) = 100 cents. US dollars are widely accepted. Euro exchange at local banks. Major credit cards accepted. Exchange rate approximate (AFL 1.80=$1). Tipping (service charge is usually included. If not, tip 10 - 15%) is suggested.

Time; GMT - 4

Electricity; 120 volts. Adaptor can be required or not.

Driving; Driving is on the right.

Public Holidays; Include January 1, 25; February 16; March 18; April 3, 6, 27; May 1, 14; December 25, 26.

Language; Dutch is the official language.  Papiamento is the local language. English and Spanish are widely spoken.

Religion; Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish.

Country Dial Code; +297/+1297

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Queen Beatrix International Airport, Oranjestand (AUA). Typical flying time from Miami 2.5 hrs,  New York 4 hours.  From Uk is 12 hrs via Amsterdam.

Transfers; taxi

Port; Oranjestad

Visa requirements; Visa is required, with except by US visitors for stays of up 30 days as well as by British passport holders for stays of up to three months

Health requirements; None.

Climate; There is a sunny climate all year round, with temperatures averaging 28C. The island is away from the traditional path of hurricanes, so tropical storms are rarely experienced. Average rainfall is moderate, with about 20 inches falling annually.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ARUBA;

  • 1. Oranjestad, the capital
  • 2. Hadicurari Beach
  • 3. Seroe Colorado
  • 4. Chapel of Alto Vista
  • 5. Arikok National Park
  • 6. Fort Zoutman
ARMENIA

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Yerevan

Main cities; Gyumri, Vanadzor, Vagharshapat

Populations; 3, 254, 300 (As per the year 2010 estimates)

Currency; Dram (AMD)=100 lama. Major credit cards are widely accepted. Exchange rate approximate (AMD 411=$1). Tipping (10% expected).

Time; GMT+4

Electricity; 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving; Traffic drives on the right. International licence needed.

Public Holidays; Include January 1, 6; March 8; April 7, 18, 24; May 9, 28; July 5; September 21; December 7, 31.

Language; Armenian,  with Russian and English also spoken

Religion; Christian (Armenian Apostolic). Also Catholic, Protestant, Russian orthodox.

Country Dial Code; +374

Getting there; (Major gateways,  including Yerevan Zvartnots Airport (EVN). Typical flying time from UK is 5 hours and from New York is 14 hours.

Transfers; Yerevan (10 miles/16 km) bus; taxi;

Visa requirements; Visa is required whereas US passport holders require a visa, costing $8 with up to 21 days validity while British passport holders no longer required a visa. Entry stamp is valid for a period of 90 days

Health requirements; Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended; also malaria for certain areas.

Climate; Continental, hot, dry summers (22C to 36C) and cold winters (-5C to  -10C) with plenty of snowfall. Average annual rainfall varies from 12 to 25 inches, with a low humidity level in summer.

Safety and security; Check( www.travel.state.gov/www.gov.uk/fco

Getting Around; Buses in the cities. Yerevan has a subway system.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ARMENIA;

  • 1. Zvartnots temple
  • 2. Garni pagan temple
  • 3. Echmiadzin, ancient capital
  • 4. Lake sevan
  • 5. The khosrov preserve
  • 6. Dilijan National Park
ARGENTINA

FAST FACTS;               

Capital; Buenos Aires

Main cities; Cordoba, Rosario, Mendoza, Santa Fe,  Tucuman, Mar del Plata

Populations; 40, 091, 359 (As per the year 2010 estimates)

Currency; Peso (ARP) =100 centavos. The best currency to take is US dollars. Visa, American Express and Master card credit cards are widely accepted. Exchange rate approximate (ARP 8.13=$1). Tipping (10% recommended).

Time; GMT -  3

Electricity; 220/240 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving; Traffic drives on the the right. International driving permit required.

Public Holidays; Include January 1; March 24; April 2, 3; May 1, 25; June 20; July 9; August 17; October 12; December 8, 25.

Language; Spanish

Religion; Catholic

Country Dial Code; +54

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Ministro Pistarini  International Airport, Ezelza, Buenos Aires (EZE), Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, Buenos Aires ((AEP). Typical flying time (From New York 10.5 hours, from Miami 8.5 hrs.) while from UK is 12 hrs 30 minutes.

Departure Tax; $ 18 plus $ 2.50 security tax is sometimes included in ticket price.

Transfers; Ministro Pistarini International Airport 22 miles/35 km to Buenos Aires (Shuttle bus 40 minutes). Aeroparque Jorge Newbery 2.5 miles/ 4 km to Buenos Aires.

Ports; Mar del Plata (Buenos Aires),  Ushuaia.

Getting Around; Argentina has a modern transport infrastructure. Trains connect all the main cities in the country and there is an efficient bus network in place. The capital, Buenos Aires, also has an extensive subway system.

Accommodation; Hotels in Argentina are classified as one - to five - star,  with the big international chains represented in the main cities. There are also youth hostels and pensions, which are mainly for longer stays. A wide selection of estancias (farms), some 200 years old, offer an exclusive experience for visitors to enjoy country activities and sports.

Visa requirements; Visa is required, except for US citizens who stay for up to 90 days. Also none for British passport holders travelling for up to 90 days.

Health requirements; Yellow fever vaccination recommended if travelling to regions bordering Paraguay and Brazil. Precautions against hepatitis A, polio, typhoid and malaria (some areas) recommended.

Climate; Wide climatic variation. The north is subtropical, with rain year - round. The temperate central area of Argentina is hot and humid in summer, while Tierra del  Fuego,  in the south, has a subarctic climate.

What to eat and drink; Argentina’s cuisine is influenced by Europe, and includes many Spanish - style dishes, Italian pastas and pizzas, and French pastries but the Argentinians and their own style to this food, making them their own. Steaks and as ado (barbecue) are Argentina’s most popular dishes. Regional specialities include empanadas (pastries), locro (stew), humita (corn - based dish) and carbonada (stew). Mate,  also known as Paraguayan tea is made using the dried leaves of Liex paraguayensis, which is related to the common holly plant. It is then soaked in boiling hot water to release the flavour and drunk through a bombilla (a long metal straw). This is a traditional drink in Argentina and drinking it socially can often be an occasion of great ritual and custom. If traveling across the country, you may find that your own supplies of mate are an excellent way to make new friends as the whole point to this drink is sharing it.

What to buy; High - quality goods to buy include leather,  wool or designer fashion and crafts and antiques.

MAJOR EVENTS;

  • 1. Littoral Carnival, Gualeguaychu, Entre Rios and Corrientes (March).
  • 2. Wine Harvest National Fair, Mendoza (March)
  • 3. Trout National Feast, Bariloche, Rio Negro (March)
  • 4. Easter Festivities, Tilcara, Jujuy (March)
  • 5. Argentina World Rally, Cordoba (May)
  • 6. Poncho National Festival, Catamarca (July)
  • 7. Yerba Mate National Fair, Misiones (July)
  • 8. Snow Festivities, Bariloche (August)
  • 9. Buenos Aires International Festival (September)
  • 10. Flower National Fair, Escobar, Buenos Aires (September)
  • 11. Youth Welsh Eistedfodd, Trelew, Chubut (October)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ARGENTINA:          

  • 1. Perito Moreno Glacier, El calafate
  • 2. Iguazu Falls, Misiones
  • 3. The capital, Buenos Aires
  • 4. Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires
  • 5. Ushuaia, World's southernmost city, Tierra del Fuego
  • 6. Valdes Peninsula (whale watching), Chubut
  • 7. Train to the clouds, Salta
  • 8. Dinosaurs' tracks in Ischigualasto, or 'Moon Valley' and Talampaya (San Juan, La Rioja)
  • 9. Ski centers (Mendoza, Rio Negro, Neuquen)
  • 10. Estancias/ ranches; province of Buenos Aires/ La pampa
  • 11. Bariloche and the Argentinian lake district.

TOP ACTIVITIES;  

  • 1. Animal - and bird - watching
  • 2. Fishing
  • 3. Polo;
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

FAST FACTS;

Capital; St john's

Populations; 80, 161 (As per the year 2011 estimates)

Currency; Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) =100 cents. US dollars are widely accepted. Exchange rate approximates (EC$ 2.70=$1). Tipping (usually 10%)

Time; GMT - 4

Electricity; 110/220 volts. Adaptor required

Driving; Traffic drives on the left. A local driver's permit can be obtained on presentation of a full driver’s licence, valid 90 days, for a fee of US$ 20.

Public Holidays; Include January 1; April 3, 6; May 4, 25; August 3, 4; November 2; December 9, 25, 26;

Language;  English

Religion: Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Moravian, Seventh Day Adventist.

Country Dial Code; +1268

Getting there; (Major gateways, including VC Bird International Airport (ANU). Typical flying time from UK is 8 hrs,  while from New York, 5.5 hrs via San Juan.

Transfers: St john's (5 miles/ 8 km) taxi 15 minutes

Departure Tax; US $20 or EC$50

Ports; Heritage Quay, Nelson's Dockyard, Falmouth harbour, Jolly Harbour

Getting Around; There are limited bus services from St John's, the Islands' Capital, while  taxi and rental car are other means of getting around the island.

Accommodation; Ranges from luxury to more modest hotels and guest houses. There is no official classification in Antigua and Barbuda, but hotels are of good quality and accommodation standards   are generally equivalent to three - or four - star properties. There are also villas, cottages, inns and condominiums, but no youth hostels or campsites.

Visa requirements; An onward or return ticket and proof of funds are required for a tourist stay of up to six months.

Health requirements; Yellow fever immunisation essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A and typhoid recommended.

Climate; Temperatures range from 23C in winter to 30C in summer. The rainy season is

September to November, with showers usually of short duration. Annual rainfall averages only 45 inches, making it the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean Islands, and the northeast trade winds are nearly constant, flagging only in September. Humidity is low all year round.

 

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK;

Seafood, particularly lobster, is a staple of Antigua. Other favourite dishes are dukana (sweet potato and salt fish balls),  bacalau (salted fish) and pepper pot (vegetable and salted meat stew). Cavalier Antigua rum and wadadli beer are some of the favourite tipples on the islands.

MAJOR EVENTS;

  • 1. Round the Island Race (January)
  • 2. Antigua Classic Regatta (April)
  • 3. Antigua Sailing Week (May)
  • 4. Carnival (July/August)
  • 5. Independence Homecoming (November)
  • 6. Caribbean Comedy Festival (December)
  • 7. Annual Charter Yacht Show (December)
  • 8. F. Nunes Jr. Sport Fishing Tournament( September)
  • 9. Christmas Valley Mango Festival (August)
  • 10. Sports Fishing Tournament (May)
  • 11. Tennis Week (May)
  • 12. International Kite Festival (April)
  • 13. West indies Vs England Cricket ODI's (February/March)
  • 14. Jolly Harbour Valentine’s Regatta and Rum Festival (February)
  • 15. RORC 600 (January)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ANTIGUA & BARBUDA;

  • 1. St john’s Cathedral
  • 2. Devil's Bridge, natural rock arch and popular swimming spot
  • 3. Nelson's Dockyard, with the 18th - century Royal Navy Dock
  • 4. Shirley Heights, an 18th - century fortified lookout
  • 5. Betty's Hope, the sugar plantation museum
  • 6. Fig Tree Drive
  • 7. Museum of Antigua and Barbuda
  • 8. Martello Tower, Barbuda.
  • 9. Frigate Bird Sanctuary, Barbuda
  • 10. Harmony Hall
  • 11. Pillars of Hercules
  • 12. Fort James
  • 13. Sir Vivian Richards Stadium
  • 14. Heritage Quay, St john's
  • 15. Red Cliffe Quay, St john's
ANGUILLA

FAST FACTS;

Capital; The valley

Populations; 15, 236 (As per the year 2011 estimates)

Currency; Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) =100 cents. All credit cards and US dollar travellers' cheques widely used. Exchange rate approximates (EC$2.70=$1. Tipping (10  - 15% is suggested).

Time;  GMT -  4

Electricity; 110 volts. Adaptor needed

Driving; Drive on the left. Holders of a foreign driver’s license must buy a US $ 20 temporary license from car rental agencies.

Public Holidays;  Include January 1; April 17, 20; May 1, 30; June 8, 15; August 3, 6; December 19, 25, 26;

Language; English

Religion; Mainly Anglican and Methodist.

Country Dial Code; + 1264

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Antigua. Also St Maarten and San Juan. In Anguilla, Clayton J. LLody International Airport (AXA) is 2 miles/3 km from the capital, the Valley. Typical flying time from UK is 8 hrs30 minutes to Antigua, plus 40 minutes transfer to Anguilla. From New York is 6 hrs via San Juan.

Transfers; via taxi

Departure Tax; By air US$20 and US$5 by ferry plus new $3 security fee.

Port: Blowing Point.

Getting Around; There is a limited bus service on the island plus taxis. Car hire is also available.

Accommodation; The island of Anguilla has many five - star resorts and luxurious villas available but it also has its fair share of more affordable accommodation including small inns, friendly guest houses and apartments to suit travelers on a smaller budget.

Visa requirements; Six-month validity required on passport and return or inward ticket.

Health requirements; Yellow fever immunization essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, B and typhoid are recommended.

Climate; Warm all year; hottest from June - October. The rainy season is August  --November; the hurricane season is June -  November.

What to eat and drink; Cuisine on the island combines native Caribbean cooking with Spanish, French, English influences and a strong base of African traditions. Lobster, crayfish, snapper and tuna are popular dishes as well as barbecues. Pyrat rum is the local specialty drink.

MAJOR EVENTS;

  • 1. Moonsplash Music Festival (March)
  • 2. Festival Del Mar (April)
  • 3. Anguilla Day (May)
  • 4. Anguilla Lit Fest: A literary jollification (May)
  • 5. August Monday (August)
  • 6. Anguilla Summer Festival (August)
  • 7. Various golf and tennis tournaments and boat races.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ANGUILLA;

  • 1. Beaches: 33 in total, including Rendezvous Bay
  • 2. Wall Blake House, the Valley National Trust Museum
  • 3. Sandy Ground Village Walking Tours
  • 4. Art trail with galleries in various locations
  • 5. Prickly Pear Island sailing trips.
  • 6. Scilly Cay
  • 7. Music Festivals
  • 8. The Fountain, an important archeological site
  • 'Big spring' Amerindian site.

TOP ACTIVITIES;

  • 1. Wreck diving
  • 2. Sailing
  • 3. Walking tours
  • 4. Golf
  • 5. Snorkeling
ANGOLA

FAST FACTS; 

Capital; Luanda

Main cities; Huambo, Malanje, Benguela,  Cabinda,  Lubango,  Kuito.

Populations; 18, 993, 000 (As per the year 2010 estimates)

Currency; Angola kwanza (AOA). Exchange rate approximate (AOA 160= ($1).

Time; GMT + 1

Electricity; 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving; On the right. International driving permit is required.

Public Holidays: Include January 1, 4; February 4; March 8; April 3, 4, 6; May 1, 25; June 1; September 17; November 2, 11; December 25, 26.

Language; Portuguese

Religion; Indigenous beliefs, Catholic, Protestant.

Country Dial Code; + 244

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Luanda (LA). Typical flying time from London, 14 hrs via Johannesburg. From New York, 20 hrs via Johannesburg.

Safety and Security; Check with travel. state.gov/before you travel. There is also a high level of crime in Luanda.

Visa requirements; You must get a visa before travel or you will be detained at the airport and deported. Apply at least eight weeks in advance.

Health requirements; Yellow fever immunisation required. Precautions against hepatitis A and B, typhoid, rabies, polio and malaria are also recommended.

Climate: Angola has two distinct seasons; the 'rains' from October to April and the 'mist' (May to October). The 'rains' tends to be hot with high rainfall, while the 'mist' is a much cooler, drier season. Temperatures in the north are high, while they fluctuate in the south due to the Kalahari Desert.

ANDORRA

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Andorra la vella

Populations; 76, 098 (As per the year 2013 estimates)

Currency; Euro=100 cents. All major credit cards accepted. Exchange rate approximate (Euro 0.77=$1). Tipping (hotels and restaurants normally include a service charge; waiters generally expect a further 10% tip however)

Time; GMT + 1

Electricity; 220/125 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving; On the right. No special license required.

Public Holidays; Include January 1, 6; March 3, 14; April 3, 6; May 1, 25; August 15; September 8; November 1; December 8, 25, 26.

Language; The official language is Catalan, but Spanish is most commonly spoken; also French and English.

Religion; Catholic

Country Dial Code; + 376

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Barcelona (BCN),  Toulouse (TLC). Barcelona 125 miles/200km (Spain); Toulouse 110 miles/180 km (France). Both have several bus connections to Andorra. Typical flying time from New York is 7 hrs, while from UK is 2 hrs.

Transfers; Barcelona (126 miles/210km) minibus; Toulouse (118 miles/196 km)

Port; The nearest seaport is Barcelona, Spain.

Getting Around; Good bus and minibus networks around the country conveniently link Andorra’s towns, villages and also the ski resorts. Alternatively, car hire is available.

Visa requirements; Visa is essential.

Health requirements; None

Climate; Andorra has an alpine climate that is temperate,  dry and sunny in summer. In winter a generous amount of snowfall ensures good skiing. There is a high percentage of sunny days overall.

Major events;

  • 1. Big Snow Festival (March)
  • 2. Colors de musical (Escaldes - Engordany( July)
  • 3. International Festival Narciso Yepes Ordino (September)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ANDORRA;

  • 1. Old town, Andorra la vella
  • 2. La Margineda Bridge
  • 3. Ordino's Main Square
  • 4. Sant Joan de caselles church
  • 5. Skiing, climbing, trekking
  • 6. Caldea health spa
ALGERIA

FAST FACTS:        

Capital; Algiers

Main cities; Oran, Annaba, Constantine, Batna

Populations; 36, 300, 000 (As per the year 2011 estimates)

Currency; Dinar (DA)=100 centimes. No credit cards. US dollar travelers checks or euro are preferred. Exchange rate approximates (DA 79=$1). Tipping (10% is acceptable for good service).

Time; GMT + 1

Electricity; 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving; On the right. International driving permit required.

Public Holidays; Include January 1, 3- 7; May 1; June 19; July 5, 18; September 23; October 13, 23; November 1. The list includes Muslim festivals, the dates of which are approximate.

Language; Arabic, French

Religion; Sunni Muslim.

Country Dial Code; +213

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Algiers Houari Boumediene (ALG). Typical flying time from UK is 2 hrs 30 minutes, while from New York, 14.5 hrs via Paris.

Transfers; Algiers(12 miles/ 20 km) car 30 minutes; bus 30 minutes;taxi 30 minutes;

Ports; Algiers, Annaba, Oran;

Safety and security; Check with travel. state. gov/ before you travel.

Visa requirements; Visa is essential and required.

Health requirements; Yellow fever vaccination certificate required by those arriving from infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended.

Climate; Hot summers, particularly in the south, with little rainfall. Pleasant from September to May in the north, and from October to April south of the Sahara.

ALBANIA

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Tirana

Main cities; Durres, Shkodra, Vlora,  Elbasan, Korca, Berat,  Fier,  Lushnje.

Populations; 3, 195, 000 (As per the year 2010 estimates).

Currency; Lek (ALL) =100 qindarka. Euro is preferred foreign currency. Credit and debit cards limited, mostly used in the capital Tirana. Exchange rate approximate (ALL 103=$1). Tipping (10% is acceptable)

Time; GMT + 1

Electricity; 220 volts. Adaptor required

Driving; Traffic drives on the right. International and national driving licenses required.

Public Holidays: Include January 1, 7; March 15, 21; April 3, 6, 12; May 1; July 18; September 23; October 19; November 28, 29; December 25; Other Muslim festivals, the dates of which are approximate, and Christian holidays are celebrated.

Language: Albanian. Some English spoken.

Religion; Islam, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Christian.

Country Dial Code; + 355

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Tirana Mother Teresa International (TIA). Typical flying time from New York is 12 hrs via Munich,  while from UK is 4 - 5 hrs via Zurich or Rome.

Transfers; Tirana (18 miles/29 km) bus 30 minutes; taxi.

Departure Taxi; Sterling pound 8.

Ports; Durres, Vlore, Saranda

Visa requirements; Entry card valid for 90 days will be issued at the point of entry for $ 12.

Health requirements; Yellow fever certificate for arrivals from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended, also tick borne encephalitis if travelling to the north of the country. Drinking water outside main cities and towns is likely to be contaminated.

Climate; Temperate,  with warm and dry periods between June and September and cooler,  wetter spells from October to May.

Safety and security; Check, with travel .state. gov/ before you travel.

AFGHANISTAN

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Kabul.

Main cities; Kandahar, Herat, Ghazni,  Balkh, Mazar -e Sharif, Nangarhar

Populations; 29, 117,000 (As per the year 2010 estimates)

Currency; Afghani (AFN)=100 Pul. Exchange rate approximate (AFN 56=$ 1). Typing (10% is acceptable)

Time; GMT + 4.5

Electricity; 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving; Road travel remains very dangerous. Only travel in secure transport with close protection, using reputable local drivers and guides.

Public Holidays; Include January 3, 7; February 15; March 21; April 18, 28; May 1; July 18; August 19; September 23; October 23; other Muslim festivals, the dates of which are approximate, are celebrated.

Language; Dari, Pashto.

Religion; Sunni and Shia Muslim

Country Dial Code; + 93

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Kabul International Airport (KBL); Kandahar International Airport (KDH). Typical flying time from UK is 13 hrs via Delhi, while from Washington Dulles is 24 hrs via Dubai.

Transfers; Kabul (10 miles/16 km) bus, taxi, private car.

Accommodation; Few hotels are of western standard, with very basic accommodation outside Kabul.

Visa requirements; Visa is vital and needed.

Health requirements; Precautions against hepatitis A and B, typhoid, rabies and polio recommended. Also malaria if travelling to areas under 2,000 metres in altitude.

Climate; Continental type with harsh winter. Warm summers everywhere expect in the highest areas of the country.

Safety and security; Check with travel. state. gov/ before traveling.

BURUNDI

FAST FACTS;           

Capital;  Bujumbura

Main cities; Gitega,  Muyinga,  Ngozi, Ruyigi,  Kayanza.

Populations; 10, 216, 190 (As per the year 2011)

Currency; Burundi franc( FBU). Exchange approximate( FBU 2, 531 = Sterling pound 1)

Time; GMT + 2

Electricity; 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving; Traffic drives on the right.

Public Holidays; Include January 1; February 5; May 1, 29; July 1; August 15; October 13, 24; November 15; December 25;

Language; Kirundi, French.

Religion; Christian, mainly Catholic. Also Muslim and traditional beliefs.

Country Dial Code; + 257

Getting there; (Major gateway, including Bujumbura International (BTM). Typical flying time from UK is 11 hrs.

Transfers; Bujumbura (7 miles/11 km) taxi.

Departure Tax; US $ 20

Visa requirements; A visa is required for visits of more than three days and must be obtained in advance of travel to the country.

Health requirements; Recommended vaccinations include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, yellow fever, polio, rabies and tetanus. Also malaria precautions.

BULGARIA

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Sofia

Main cities; Plovdiv, Varna, Bourgas, Veliko Tirnovo,  Rousse, Vratsa, Stara Zagora.

Populations; 7, 364, 570 (As per the year 2011 estimates)

Currency; Lev (BGL)=100 stotinki.  Credit cards accepted in most major hotels and restaurants. Sterling, euro and US dollars are highly recommended currencies to take when visiting Bulgaria. Exchange rate approximate (BGL 2. 34=Sterling pound 1). Tipping (optional; up to 10% for good service)

Time; GMT + 2

Electricity; 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving; Traffic drives on the right. International permit required

Public Holidays; Include January 1; March 3; April 18, 19, 20; May 1, 6, 24; September 6, 22; November 3; December 24, 25, 31.

Language; Bulgarian. English spoken in main towns and resorts. Russian is also spoken.

Religion; Bulgarian orthodox

Country Dial Code; + 359

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Sofia (SOF), Varna (VAR), Bourgas (BOJ), Plovdiv (PVD). Typical flying time from New York is 11.5 hrs  via Zurich, while from UK is 3 hrs.

Transfers;  Sofia (6 miles/9 km) taxi 20 minutes; bus 30 minutes.

Ports; Varna, Bourgas, Russe, Vidin

Visa requirements; Visa is required.

Health requirements; Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended.

Climate; Bulgaria’s climate is temperate,  with Mediterranean -  like conditions on the Black sea further west and subject to icy blasts from Russia. Summers are generally warm, although it is generally cooler in the mountains. Winters are cold with snow. Rain falls year - round.

Accommodation; There is a wide of hotels, from luxury to modest private establishments, many of which are new. Self-catering chalets and villas are available in resorts and mountains, as well as B & Bs.  Large monasteries also offer accommodation.

Major Event;

  • 1. Koprivstica Folk Festival
  • 2. Rose Festival, Kazanluk
  • 3. International Folk Festival, Plovdiv
  • 4. International Jazz Festival, Blansko
  • 5. International “Apolonia” Festival, Sozopol
  • 6. International “culture of wine” Festival, Sofia
  • 7. International Theatre Festival, Varna

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BULGARIA;

  • 1. Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Sofia
  • 2. Rila Monastery and 25 other monasteries, Including Bachkovo, Troyan and Cherepishki.
  • 3. Tsarevets Archaelogical Reserve, Veliko Turnovo
  • 4. Old town of Plovdiv
  • 5. Hissarya Balneological Resort
  • 6. Augusta Roman Fortress (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • 7. Vratsata Gorge and Ledenika cave
  • 8. Vrachanski Balkan and Okolchitsa nature park.
  • 9. Koprivshitsa museum and town
  • 10. Kazanluk and Sveshtan Thracian Tombs
  • 11. Pirin National Park
  • 12. Old town of Nessebur
  • 13. Thracian golden treasures and ancient tombs
  • 14. Black sea coast
  • 15. Blansko, Vitosha, Borovets and Pamporovo ski resorts.

 

  • What to eat & drink;

Bulgarian cuisine is spicy, hearty and tasty. Local dishes  include cold yoghurt soup, Kebapcheta (spiced minced meat rolls) and banitsa (pastry stuffed with fruit or cheese). Fresh fish can be found along the Black sea coast. Bulgarian wine and plum brandy are popular drinks.

  • What to buy;

Embroidered clothes and table linen, crafts, icons, rose oil perfume, woodcraft, wine, plum brandy.

 

Frequently asked questions (Faque);

  • 1. What and where the Rila Cross?

Answer: Carved by a monk over a 12-year period, the cross consists of 1,500 human figures, each smaller than the size of a grain of rice. Rila Monastery is found 75 miles from Sofia.

  • 2. What wildlife can be found in Bulgaria?

Answer: There are around 13,000 species of fauna in Bulgaria, along with 3,000 species of flora. The Vitosha Mountain, South of Sofia, reputedly attracts more than 200 varieties of butterfly in summer.

  • 3. Is self - drive a holiday options in Bulgaria?

Answer:  Those who want to see more of Bulgaria than the beach and enjoy the freedom of travelling by their own pace can enjoy a self – drive holiday with various companies specialising in this very area.

  • 4.  Is there plenty to keep children occupied?                    

Answer: Besides the wonderful sandy beaches that are perfect for family holidays, there are attractions for kids such as water slides, trampolines and horse riding on the Black sea coast. Holidaying families are welcomed in restaurants throughout Bulgaria.

  • 5. What are Bulgaria's beaches like?

Answer: The beaches are superb. The main Black sea resorts of Golden sands, Sunny Beach and Albena have wide sandy beaches up to six miles long.  Many Bulgarian resorts have gained the EU Blue Flag award for clean water.

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN PLOVDIV:    

  • Plovdiv is situated between the Rhodope Mountains, the Thracian plains and the Balkan Mountain Range, Plovdiv is Bulgaria's second - largest city after Sofia, the country’s capital. Dating back 6,000 years, Plovdiv is the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe and the sixth - oldest city in the world. In addition to modern art galleries and bohemian cafes, ancient Plovdiv is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, complete with a Roman Amphitheatre and Ottoman - era baths.

 

  1. ATTRACTIONS;

Only uncovered by a freak landslide 1972, Plovdiv’s most - beloved architectural attraction is its second - century Roman Amphitheatre,  built by Emperor Trajan. Now restored, the site is the best - preserved theatre in the Balkans. It once held around 6,000 spectators and is now used for large - scale performances.

  1. MUSEUM;

Situated in the old town, the Plovdiv Regional Museum of Ethnography - the second largest museum of its kind in Bulgaria - occupies the former home of merchant Argil Kuyumdzhioglu, built in 1847. The building is a beautiful example of local, 19th - century architecture and includes a tranquil courtyard and carved wood ceilings. The museum, which moved into the house in 1938, features six exhibitions illustrating the various historic traditions of Bulgaria, covering subject areas as diverse as farming, folklore, pottery, jewellery, music and dance.

  1. SHOP;

Stalls spilling with silver jewellery, clothes, icons and paintings line the pedestrian mall of Ul Knyaz Aleksandar Located on the southside of the Maritsa River, this strip passes over the Roman stadium and leads up to the Tsar Simeone Garden, filled with gushing fountains and shaded spots to relax in after a day spent hitting the shops.

  1. EAT;

Art cafe philipopolis is a restaurant - cum - art gallery. Once the home of famous merchant Hadzi Aleko, the building showcases contemporary art and Bulgarian classics by artists such as Vladimir Dimitrov and Nenko Balkan ski. The garden restaurant dishes up an extensive array of meat and fish alongside a variety of wines.

  1. BAR;

The famous sky bar is located atop one of the city’s tallest buildings. Grab a cocktail and enjoy panoramic views from the terrace. The vista is particularly impressive at night.

  1. VIEW;

Like Rome, Plovdiv originally had seven syenitehils, although one was later flattened and the others used for quarries. Those offering the most impressive views are Nebet Tepe,  which holds the remains of an ancient Thracian town, and Bounardjik Tepe, where visitors will find the Alyosha monument, a statue of the unknown soldier erected in dedication to Russian soldiers who died in the Russian - Turkish war.

BRUNEI

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Bandar Seri Begawan

Main city; Kuala  Belait

Populations; 407,000 (As per the year 2010 estimates)

Currency; Brunei dollar (B$) =100 cents. Major credit cards accepted. Exchange rate approximates (B$1.25=$1). Tipping (not customary).

Time; GMT + 8

Electricity; 220 - 240 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving; On the right. International driving licence required.

Public Holidays; Include January 1, 13, 31; February 23; May 27, 31; June 28; July 15, 28; October 4; 25; December 25; the list includes Muslim festivals, the dates of which are approximate.

Language; Malay. Also English and Chinese are spoken.

Religion; Mainly Muslim. Also Buddhist,  Christian and indigenous beliefs.

Country Dial Code; + 673

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Bandar Seri Begawan (BWN). Typical flying time from UK is 17 hrs, while from New York is 20.5 hrs via Hong Kong.

Transfers; Bandar Seri Begawan (7 miles/11 km) taxi; bus; car.

Departure Taxi; BR $ 12

Visa requirements; Visa is required, prior to arrival in Brunei for visits of 90 days or longer. Visitors must have onward tickets or sufficient funds to support themselves in Brunei and a minimum validity of six months is needed on your passport.

Health requirements; Yellow fever vaccination certificate required by those arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio are recommended; also hepatitis B (highly endemic)

Climate; Tropical,  hot and humid. Monsoon season is November - December.

BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Road Town

Populations; 28, 882 (As per the year 2009 estimates)

Currency; US dollar (US$) =100 cents. Major credit cards are accepted in many, but not all establishments. Exchange approximate (US $ 11. 64=Sterling pound 1). Tipping (10% recommended for good service).

Time:  GMT – 4

Electricity: 110/220 volts. No adaptor required.

Driving; Traffic drives on the left. Visitors staying for less than 30 days are not required to purchase a temporary driver’s license; if staying for more than 30 days, a license is required.

Public Holidays; Include January 1; March 3, 10; April 18, 21; June 9, 14, 30; August 4, 5, 6; October 20; December 25,26.

Language; English

Religion; Protestant denominations, Christian. Also Hindu and Muslim

Country Dial Code; + 1284

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Terrance B Lettsome International Airport (EIS), 9 miles/15 km from Road Town, Tortola; Virgin Gorda,  Airport (VIJ). Typical flying time from UK is 8 hrs30 minutes to Antigua, 1 hr from Antigua to Tortola. From New York is 3.5 hrs;  Miami 2.5 hrs;  San Juan (SJU) 45 minutes.

Ferry Time; From St Thomas (STT), the ferry link to Tortola takes 45 minutes.

Departure Tax; $ 20 by air; $ 20 by sea; $ 7 by cruise ship.

Transfers; Road Town (9 miles/15 km) taxi 20 minutes

Ports; Road Harbour (Tortola), West End Harbour (Tortola), Great Harbour (Jost Van Dyke), St Thomas Bay( Virgin Gorda),  Gun Creek, Virgin Gorda.

Visa requirements; Visa is required.

Health requirements; Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended.

Climate; The British Virgin Islands climate is hot and sunny year - round, with temperatures of 28 - 30C moderated by trade winds. The hurricane season is June through November, with November being the rainy season.

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS;

  • 1. BVI Spring Regatta
  • 2. Beef Island
  • 3. Trellis Bay
  • 4. Full Moon Parties
  • 5. Sailing, scuba diving, caving
  • 6. Multiple, private and uninhabited islands
  • 7. Emancipation Festival
  • 8. Sage Mountain, Tortola

9. The Baths, Virgin Gorda

BRAZIL

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Brasilia

Main cities; Rio de Janeiro,  Sao Paulo, Salvador, Recife, Manaus.

Populations; 190, 732, 694 (As per the year 2010 estimates).

Currency; The real, plural reais (R$). Most widely recognised foreign currency is US dollar, but Sterling is easily changed in the main cities. All major credit cards are accepted in Brazil and there are ATMs. Exchange rate approximate (R $ 2.26= $ 1). Tipping (10% - 12 % suggested for good service).

Time;  GMT  - 2  to GMT  - 4

Electricity; Current varies in Brazil. Some cities, such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, are 127 volts, while others are 220 volts. Most hotels offer both.

Driving; Traffic drives on the right.

Public Holidays; Include January 1; March 3, 4; April 18 -  21; May 1; September 7; October 12; November 2, 15; December 24, 25, 31.

Language;  Portuguese

Religion; Catholic

Country Dial Code; + 55

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Sao Paulo (GRU), Rio de Janeiro (GIG), Salvador (SSA), Recife (REC), Fortale 29 (FOR), Natal (NAT) and Belo Horizonte (MG). Typical flying time from UK is 12 hrs to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo; 11 hrs to Recife,  Natal and Salvador (via Lisbon). From Miami is 8.5 hrs.

Transfers; Rio de Janeiro (13 miles/21 km) airport bus 40 minutes; bus 45 minutes; taxi 30 minutes. Sao Paulo (16 miles/25 km) airport bus 60 minutes; taxi 40 minutes.

Departure Tax; US $ 38 (Sterling pound 23.75), is usually included in the price of the ticket.

Ports; Rio de Janeiro, Santos (Sao Paulo), Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza, Manaus.

Getting Around; All the major cities have relatively good and cheap public transport systems and taxis are also cheap and easy to find. Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo both have underground systems that are well signposted. Travel between cities is by bus or air; visitors looking to travel extensively should purchase an air pass before arrival.

Visa requirements; Visa is required

Health requirements; Yellow fever immunization is essential if arriving from an infected area and recommended for visitors to Acre, Amazonas, Amapa, Goias, Maranhao, Mato Grosso do sul, Parana,  Rondonia,  Roraima and Tocantins. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio advised; also malaria, depending on area visited.

Climate; Due to the immense size of the country - Brazil is larger than Europe - there are five climatic regions in the South American Country;  equatorial, tropical, semi - arid,  highland tropical and subtropical. Cities on the plateau, such as Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte,  have a mild climate with temperatures averaging 19C. Meanwhile, the coastal cities of Rio de Janeiro,  Recife, Natal and Salvador have warm climates balanced by the trade winds. The average annual temperature is approximately 28C in the north of Brazil and 20C in the south. The seasons are the complete opposite to those of UK.

Accommodation; Brazil offers a complete range of accommodation for visitors, from major international hotel chains to the simplest run guest houses. Outside the main cities, especially in the beach resorts and historic areas, Pousadas -  most are owner run -  are a popular and comfortable option. There is no official hotel star - grading system at present.

Safety and security; Crime rates are very high.  Visitors,  particularly to large cities, should exercise caution and common sense,  especially when traveling at night and around ATMs and banks.

What to eat and drink; In the major cities of Brazil, visitors will find just about every type of cuisine and Sao Paulo in particular is one of the World's great cities for dining out. Every region offers its own cuisine alongside international favourites. They range from the traditional barbecue of the south to the spicy dishes of Bahia in the northeast, a cuisine that has been heavily influenced by Africa and Portugal. If there is a national dish it would be feijoada, a type of stew traditionally served for Saturday Lunch.  Brazilian wines are highly drinkable, if not up to the standards of Argentina and Chile. The local cocktail of choice is the caipirinha, which is based on cahaca,  a spirit made from crushed sugarcane. Brazil's non - alcoholic drinks include Guarana,  made from a plant native to the Amazon basin.

What to buy; clothes, jewelry, leather goods, handicrafts, gemstones.

Major Events;

  • 1. New year celebrations (December 31)
  • 2. Formula 1 Grand prix, Sao Paulo (October)
  • 3. Carnival (February)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BRAZIL.

  • 1. Bonito - capital of the ecotourism (winner of WTM - best responsible tourism)
  • 2. Sao Paulo - Santos - North coast
  • 3. Pantanal
  • 4. Historic towns of Minas Gerais
  • 5. Iguazu Falls.
  • 6. North - eastern Brazil
  • 7. Rio Grande de Norte (Natal)
  • 8. Pernambuco (Recife)
  • 9. Manaus and the Amazon rainforest
  • 10. Bahia (Salvador)
  • 11. Rio de Janeiro.

Frequently asked questions (FAQUE);                                                                                     

  • 1. Will I get to see a football match in Brazil?

Answer; In the cities it is not difficult to see a top - level match. Football is played throughout the year, but don’t look for action around carnival time.

  • 2. Do I need to take malaria tablets?

Answer; Every doctor will have their own answer to this question. The majority of Brazil is malaria - free and occurrences of the disease are very rare, even in the Amazon region around Manaus. It is more a matter of better to be safe than sorry.

  • 3. Is Rio safe?

Answer; Rio is as safe as any major city. Unfortunately, the sheer beauty of the city often puts people off guard and they behave as if they are at a small beach resort, forgetting to take the normal precautions they would in any major city.

  • 4. When is carnival?

Answer; Carnival is a moveable feast that always ends on Ash Wednesday. The world - famous parade of samba schools in Rio takes place on the Sunday and Monday nights of carnival and tickets should be purchased in advance through a tour operator.

  • 5. Is it really worth buying an airpass?

Answer; If you plan to travel extensively in Brazil, the TAM Brazil Airpass represents excellent value, as internal flights in the country are expensive, for details, visit www.tam.com.br .

  • 6. When is the best time to visit the country?

Answer; Brazil is a year round destination, but it is probably best to avoid carnival time unless you actually want to experience the carnival itself

  • 7. What is the weather like in Brazil?

Answer; It depends where you go. In the north and northeast of the country, the weather is tropical year round. As far south as Rio, winter days will be hotter than the hottest summer days, say UK as an example. Remember the seasons are reversed and in winter it can get quite cold from Sao Paulo to the south, especially around popular tourist sites such as Iguazu Falls.

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN RIO DE JANEIRO(BRAZIL);

 

  • 1. FEIRA DO RIO ANTIGO(BRAZIL);

This atmospheric antique and craft fair, held on the first Saturday of every month, buzzes with street performers and dinners at pavement cafes.  There is also plenty of brick -  a - brac for collectors and bargain hunters.

  • 2. SAARA(BRAZIL);

For an immersive experience a world away from the city's air - conditioned malls,  try shopping in this chaotic and colourful market. Lay your hands on the some carnival feathers or beachwear at non - tourist prices.

  • 3. CENTRO CULTURAL BANCO DO BRASIL(BRAZIL);

This cultural centre,  in a 19th  century building,  has a charming cafe and a rolling programme of world - class theatre,  art, music and cinema.

  • 4. MUSEU NACIONAL DE BELAS ARTES(BRAZIL);

Nearly 20, 000 pieces fill the National Museum of Fine Arts, Rio's answer to the Louvre.  Look out for paintings by Brazilian artists such as Candido Portinari and Vitor Meireles

  • 5. MUSEU DE ARTE MODERNA(BRAZIL);

This striking modernist building, housing more than 11, 000 pieces, is arguably Latin America's leading modern art museum. Taking New York’s MoMA as its model,  it is very much a 'living' museum, with workshops, accessible archives and gardens by Brazilian Burle Marx.

  • 6. BOTANIC GARDENS(BRAZIL);

A stroll among fountains and sculptures will bring you encounters with humming birds,  monkeys and marmosets while ancient royal palms, a Japanese - style carplake and giant Amazonian lilies are some of the other highlights in these gardens.

  • 7. FOOTBALL(BRAZIL);

For a preview of the world’s biggest football tournament, visit the city's most famous stadium the Maracanã, which attracts huge crowds on match days.

  • 8. CHRIST THE REDEEMER(BRAZIL);

The cog -  wheeled train that chugs up 2,300ft Corcovado (Hunchback) mountain drops passengers off at the soap stone statue that presides over the city in Tijuca National Park. This is an activity for a clear day, as the panoramic view of Rio is breathtaking.

  • 9. SUGAR LOAF MOUNTAIN(BRAZIL);

Two swaying cable cars make the delightful ascent up iconic sugar loaf mountain, which rises from a skinny peninsula in the broad sweep of Guanabara Bay.  The best time to come is just before sunset, when the city begins to sparkle in the evening light.

  • 10. IGUAZU FALLS(BRAZIL);

One of South America's most impressive natural attractions, Iguazu Falls is shared by Brazil and Argentina(Read - National Parks Around the World section of this wonderful website).  Iguazu is made up of 275 cascading falls, with each side offering a different perspective  -  the Brazilian side, Foz do Iguacu, provides visitors with a complete panorama, while the other side, Puerto Iguazu, allows one to walk to the edge of the falls. For the full adrenalin experience, take a boat ride from the Argentinian side.

  • 11. AMAZON(BRAZIL);

Brazil's most dominant landscape, the Amazon Basin, carved by the huge river system, comprises dense forest and lush vegetation, packed with a huge variety of wildlife - and large numbers of mosquitoes. Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas, is the ideal base from which to explore the rainforest, with local operators running boat tours to accessible areas of the region, including the Rio Negro, Lago Mamori,  Rio Juma, Lago Manaquiri and Presidente Figueiredo. Accommodation ranges from tents to luxury lodges and boats.

  • 12. BEACHES(BRAZIL);

Brazil's most famous stretch of sand is Copacabana in Rio,  which attracts tourists and locals day and night with its wide range of beachfront bars, concerts and night markets.

BOTSWANA

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Gaborone

Main cities; Francistown, Selebi - phikwe, Lobaste,  Ghanzi.

Populations; 1, 900,000 (As per the year 2012 estimates).

Currency;  Pula (P)=100 thebes. US dollars are quoted /charged in the majority of tourist game lodges and safari camps. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards.  Exchange rate approximate (P 8.80=$1). In restaurants 10% is acceptable as no service charge is levied. The norm for safari guides and polers would be US $ 5  per person per day for a guide and US $ 3  a day for a poler.

Time; GMT + 2

Electricity;  220 - 240 volts. Adaptor required (square and round pin sockets are used)

Driving; On the left. International driving permit is required.

Public Holidays; Include January 1, 2; April 18, 21; May 1, 16; July 1, 14, 15; September 30; October 1; December 25, 26.

Language; English is the official language, the national language is Setswana, while each individual tribe has a different language.

Religion; Christian and various beliefs.

Country Dial Code; + 267

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Gaborone (GAB), Maun (MUB), Kasane (BBK). Gateways for travel onwards to Botswana include Johannesburgh in South Africa, Windhoek in Namibia and Harare in Zimbabwe. Regional flights operate to Gaborone, Maun and Kasane. Typical flying time from UK is 12 hrs,  while from New York is 20 hrs via  Johannesburg.

Transfers; Gaborone (9 miles/15 km) taxi 45 minutes; bus services and local shared taxis are also available to get there. Maun is the gateway to the Okavango Delta; a light aircraft transfer from Maun takes 15 - 40 minutes. Kasane is the gate way to Chobe National Park; light aircraft transfers are available. There are no taxi ranks at Maun or Kasane. Tourists generally fly by small six - seater charter air craft between lodges; 4WD vehicles are recommended for all routes in wildlife areas and game reserves.

Getting Around; Tourists generally fly by small charter plane between lodges. 4WD vehicles are recommended for game reserves. Trains and buses tend to be in frequent and operate between Gaborone and Francistown. Very little public transport away from urban areas.

Visa requirements; Visa is important and required.

Health requirements; Yellow fever immunisation essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended; also malaria (especially in the north) depending on area visited and time of year. HIV/AIDs is prevalent and visitors should take every precaution. Bilharzia is also endemic and swimming in untreated water is dangerous.

Climate; Mainly temperate. Summer (October - April) is very hot,  with temperatures rising to 40C and the odd torrential downpour. Conditions are cooler and drier from May to September, with temperatures dropping to around 5C and overnight frosts;

Accommodation; Botswana offers luxury safari accommodation, which is generally tented though of a high - standard with en suite bathrooms. Lodges and camps are small, catering from six to 24 guests. Hotels from one to five stars are found in the capital Gaborone.

Major Events;

  • 1. International Trade Fair, Gaborone (August)
  • 2. Trans Kgalahadi Road Race (April/May)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BOTSWANA;

  • 1. Rock Art in the Tsodilo Hills
  • 2. Nxai Pans National Park
  • 3. Chobe National Park
  • 4. Moremi Game Reserve
  • 5. Okavango Delta (The largest inland delta in the world)
  • 6. Central Kalahari Game Reserve (The world’s second largest reserve)
  • 7. Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (which includes a portion of the huge, salt - encrusted pans.
  • 8. Khama Rhino Sanctuary,  to protect the few remaining rhinos.
  • 9. Gaborone, Botswana’s vibrant and colorful capital.
  • 10. Tuli Game Reserve
  • 11. Linyati, Selinda and Kwando.

What to eat and drink;

Botswana is famed for its excellent beef. The local brew, St Louis,  is a  popular lager.

What to buy;

Diamonds,  baskets, iron and also metal work.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BOTSWANA BRIEFLY;

  • 1. OKAVANGO DELTA(BOTSWANA);

The world’s largest inland delta forms at the point where the mighty Okavango River soaks into the sands of the Kalahari Desert, producing a wonderland best explored by canoe. As the flood peaks between June and August, the waters of the delta attract Africa’s largest concentrations of wildlife. Safari camps offer every level of comfort, from basic to complete tented luxury.

  • 2. KALAHARI(BOTSWANA)

The central Kalahari Game Reserve lies at the very heart of Botswana and, at 20,000 square miles, is one of Africa’s largest and most remote reserves. Visitors may not always find the same abundance and variety of wildlife as in the Okavango Delta – the seasonal nature of the Kalahari’s arid grasslands can make game viewing a matter of feast or famine – but they are guaranteed a pristine wilderness, which they will have pretty much to themselves. Peak safari time is, unusually for southern Africa, the December to April rainy season. Then, the lush growth draws huge migratory herds of springbok, wildebeest, oryx and other grazers, and their attendant retinue of predators, including cheetahs, hyenas and the Kalahari’s famous black – maned Lions. At other times, large game can be elusive, but there is always a fascinating supporting cast of smaller creatures, from desert – adapted birds such as ostrich and sandgrouse to porcupines, meerkats and other smaller mammals. Activities on offer include walking safaris, often in the company of san (bushman) guides who reveal the traditional arts of tracking and field – craft. Accommodation is limited to just two private lodges in the park, located in the deception valley area, plus a handful of camps around the perimeter. Mobile safaris offer some truly remote campsites for the wilderness aficionado. Kalahari itineraries are usually combined with Chobe and the Okavango delta, to ensure Botswana’s entire safari spectrum is covered.

  • 3. CHOBE NATIONAL PARK(BOTSWANA);

Chobe is one of the oldest game areas in southern Africa and is famous for its herds of elephant and Buffalo. Up to 60,000 elephant live here, many notable for their size, largest in Africa. Cut by the chobe river, there is a wide range of landscapes, from swampy marsh to dry bush.

  • 4. MAKGADIKGADI PANS NATIONAL PARK(BOTSWANA)

Covering almost 2,000 square miles, these pans are a wonderland of waterbirds and vast migrating herds of wildebeest and zebra during the rainy season from mid – November to April. The rest of the year, they are a flat, dry wilderness,  a place to feel truly in significant amid the vastness and strange beauty of nature.

  • 5. MOBILE SAFARIS(BOTSWANA);

Mobile safari’s, as the name suggests, move from one location to the next, staying in temporary tented camps. The standard varies from basic, in which participants help with meals and put up their own tent, to luxurious, where no effort is spared in providing a top – end level of comfort, service and cuisine. The more exclusive mobile safaris visit pristine wildlife areas in small groups with expert guides, but all have the advantage of flexibility. They are available from operators in all major regions, including the Kalahari, Chobe and the Okavango.

  • 6. HORSE RIDING SAFARIS(BOTSWANA);

Botswana offers Africa’s best opportunities to meet big game on horseback. A number of riding companies operate in the country’s wildest regions, from Tuli and the Kalahari to the western fringes of the Okavango. The scent of a horse masks that of its human charge, enabling riders to canter alongside plains game such as giraffe and zebra although experienced guides take every precaution around the more dangerous animals, such as elephant or lion. All levels of riding expertise are catered for on horseback safaris. The accommodation combines high – end lodges with comfortable fly camps, while standard safari activities are also available.

  • 7. KWANDO, LINYATI AND SELINDA AREA(BOTSWANA);

This expansive region of private reserves and concessions forms the central part of a huge jigsaw linking Chobe to the Okavango delta, and provides an exclusive safari extension to Northern Botswana’s rich wildlife habitats. Game viewing on the open floodplains around the Kwando – Linyati river system can be spectacular, especially during the dry season. The area is renowned for its predators, including good numbers of the elusive wild dog. This is the domain of the luxury fly – in safari, with small, top – end camps offering plush accommodation, fine cuisine and excellent private guiding. Night drives are also available.

  • 8. MOREMI GAME RESERVE( BOTSWANA);

Moremi is a community – run reserve at the eastern edge of the Okavango. It embraces such legendary safari hotspots as chief’s island and the Khwai riverfront, and merges seamlessly with Chobe to the north. The tapestry of ecosystems – from flooded wetlands to Mopane Woodland – offers outstanding game viewing, including large elephant herds and abundant predators, notably wild dogs. Accommodation ranges from exclusive lodges, such as the world – famous Mombo, to government campsites that comprise little more than a clearing. You can view wildlife on game drives or (from private lodges) on foot. With no fences, the wildlife wanders freely through camp. The dry season, from August to November, sees peak game concentrations.

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

FAST FACTS; 

Capital: Sarajevo

Main cities: Banja Luka, Tuzla,  Zenica, Mostar.

Populations: 3,843,126 (As per the year 2010 estimates).

Currency: The convertible mark (KM),  which is pegged to the euro. Exchange rate approximates (KM1.44 =$ 1). Tipping (10% recommended for good service)

Time: GMT + 1

Electricity: 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the right. International driving permit  required.

Public Holidays: Include January 1, 7, 14, 27; March 1; April 20; May1; August 15; November 3, 25; December 25.

Language: Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian. English is widely spoken. German is spoken in western Herzegovina and northern Bosnia.

Religion: Predominantly Muslim and Orthodox. Also Catholic, Protestant and others.

Country Dial Code: +387

Getting there: (Major gateways,  including Sarajevo (SJJ), Mostar (OMO)). Typical flying time from New York, 12.5 hours via Munich, while from UK is 2 hours.

Transfers: Sarajevo (3 miles/5 km), Mostar, 30 minutes to Medugorje.

Visa requirements: Visa is important and required.

Health requirements: Precautions against hepatitis A and typhoid recommended.

Climate: Hot summers and cold winters. Winters average a daily high of 3C, with snow at high altitudes. In summer temperatures rise to 30C.

Safety and Security: Land mines remain a problem in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Take care when near former lines of conflict, including the suburbs of Sarajevo, and stick to hard - surfaced areas, check travel. state. gov;

BONAIRE

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Kralendijk.

Populations: 15,800 (As per the year2010 estimates)

Visa requirements: Visa is important and required. An onward or return ticket and proof of sufficient funds is required. Length of stay is granted at 30 days and may be extended for 180 days.

Health requirements: Yellow fever immunization if arriving from an infected country. Precautions against hepatitis A  and typhoid are recommended.

Currency: Netherlands Antilean guilder (ANG)=100 cents. Traveler's checks and major credit cards are accepted all over the island. Exchange rate approximates (ANG1.76 = $1). Tipping (10 – 15% expected when service has been good).

Time: GMT -4

Electricity: 110 – 130 volts. No Adaptor required.

Driving: On the right.

Public Holidays: Include January1; February16; April 3, 5, 6, 30; May 1, 14, 24; September 6; October 21; December15, 25.

Language: Dutch.

Religion: Mainly Catholic

Country Dial Code: +5997

Climate: Fairly temperate with year - round sunshine. Average temperature is 82F and average rainfall 22 in. There is a consistent breeze.

Getting there: (Major gateways, including Bonaire International Airport, Flamingo (BON). Typical flying time from Miami, 7 hours via San Juan.

Departure Tax: Included in aircraft.

BOLIVIA

FAST FACTS:

  • Capital; Sucre (constitutional);

La Paz (seat of government)

  • Main cities; Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, EL Alto.
  • Populations; 10, 426, 154(As per the year 2010 Estimates).
  • Currency: Boliviano (Bs) = 100 centavos. The US dollar is the most accepted form of currency. Major credit cards accepted in larger cities. Exchange rate approximation (Bs 6. 90 =$1). Tipping (it is customary to reward good service with a tip in Bolivia). 10% is acceptable.
  • Time; GMT - 4
  • Electricity; 220 volts. (Lapaz also 110 volts). An adaptor may be required for some electrical appliances).
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the right. An international licence is required.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1; March 3; April 18; May 1; June 19; August 6; November 3; December 25;
  • Languages: Spanish. Also Quechua and Aymara.
  • Religion: Catholic
  • Country Dial Code; + 591
  • Getting there: (Major gateways, including La Paz(LPB), Santa cruz(VVI). Typical flying time from Miami is 6.5 hrs, while from UK is 14 hrs30minutes. There are no direct flights between the UK and Bolivia. (& miles /14KM) bus 20 minutes, taxi 15 minutes.
  • Transfers; La Paz (8 miles/14km) bus 20 minutes, taxi 15 minutes. Santa Cruz(10miles/16km).
  • Departure Tax: $ 25
  • Getting around

Domestic air services are best form of travel in Bolivia.  The country's road network is not generally good, due to a lack of paved roads, but work is underway to improve this and major highways are well - maintained. Long - distance buses tend to travel through the night. Rail travel is slow and generally unreliable. Car hire is available in La Paz.

  • Visa requirements; Visa is essential and required.
  • Health requirements;

Yellow fever immunisation essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended; also malaria (below 8, 200ft). Altitude sickness can be a problem for visitors to Bolivia, particularly in mountain regions.

  • Climate;

Bolivia winter is May to October, which is dry, and summer between November and April, which is generally wetter. The highlands and altiplano can be cold in winter; in the tropical lowlands summer can be steaming hot with lengthy downpours.

  • Accommodation;

There is a selection of deluxe as well as first class hotels in La Paz, along with a wide range of mind - range hotel accommodation. There are guest houses in La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.

  • What to eat and drink;

Bolivian food shows a wide variation with altitude and distance. In LaPaz, a great choice is Sajta de pollo, hot spicy chicken with potato and onion. No visitor to Cochabamba should leave without trying silpancho – fried breaded meat with eggs, rice and bananas. Carne de sol is grilled salted meat salted meat served with beans, rice and vegetables. The local brandy is singani.

  • Major Events;
  • 1. Fiesta de la virgen de candelaria, Copacabana, Lake Titicaca (February).
  • 2. Carnival, nationwide (February).
  • 3. Phujilay festival, Tarabuco (March).
  • 4. Festividao de Nuestro senor Jesus del Gran poder, La paz (May /June).
  • 5. Independence Day (August 6).

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BOLIVIA;

  • 1. Amboro National park, nature reserve with more than 800 bird species and 125 mammal species.
  • 2. Lake Titicaca, 3800 meters above sea level, was a sacred place for the Inca civilization.
  • 3. Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde, salt lakes where it is possible to see flamingos.
  • 4. The chore Trek, an Inca trek from the mountains to Yungas.
  • 5. The pantanal, with incredible flora and fauna.
  • 6. LaPaz, the world's highest capital.
  • 7. Cochabamba, the third largest city in Bolivia.
  • 8. Takesi trail, beginning in LaPaz and following Inca - paved roads.
  • 9. Tiahuanacu, key pre - Columbian archeological site.
  • 10. Potosi, one of the world’s highest cities at 13, 420 ft.
  • 11. Salar de uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat.
  • 12. Christo de la Concordia, this immense statue stands atop Cerro de san Pedro behind Cochabamba. It is a few centimeters higher than the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.
  • 13. Museo & Convento de Santa Teresa in Potosi.

TOP ACTIVITIES;

  • 1. Lake fishing.
  • 2. Jungle tours.
  • 3. Eco - tourism.
  • 4. Mountaineering.
  • 5. Trekking.

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BOLIVIA IN DETAILS;

 

  • 1. SALAR DE UYUNI;

The world's largest salt flat sits at a lofty 11,985 ft and blankets an amazing 4,633 square miles. It was once part of a huge prehistoric Salt Lake called Lago Minchin, which covered the majority of southern Bolivia.

 

  1. LAKE TITICACA,

Straddling the Peru -  Bolivia border and flanked by snow - capped mountains, the glimmering, Sapphire - colored Lake Titicaca sits at a breathtaking altitude of 12, 507ft.  At 118 miles long and 50 miles wide, it is the largest high- altitude lake in the world and has long been a place of religious significance for communities in the Andes. In the Bolivian section is the serenely tranquil Isla del sol (Island of the sun), which is covered with the ruins of more than 80 Inca shrines and temples. On the Peruvian side of the lake, meanwhile, the uros people continue to live on artificial islands constructed from tightly - bound reeds, some of them large enough to house 10 families.

  1. MOUNTAIN BIKING IN COROICO;

Bolivia’s coroico Road, descending from the capital La Paz to the hill top town of coroico, has been dubbed the ‘death road'.  Daring mountain bikers can complete a 11,000 ft descent, from snow - capped peaks to steaming jungle down a hair - raising mountain track. The 43 - mile route takes around four hours. Experience is not required, although a head for heights is certainly helpful.

  1. WITCHES' MARKET, LA PAZ;

Known to the locals in the Bolivian Capital La Paz as El Mercado de Las Brujas, this is the one of the most unique sights in Latin America. Bewitching, bewildering, bizarre and also occasionally down right disturbing, the market is full of odd displays and sometimes even odder vendors. This is the place to pick up amulets and potions, jewelry and dried snake skins. Not somewhere for the faint -hearted.

  1. TIAHUANACO;

Once the center of a mighty pre – Inca civilization, this impressive site enjoys a dramatic setting 12,500 ft up in the Andes. Unique stone carvings and impressive structures such as the Gate of the sun and Gate of the moon, as well as the Akapana pyramid, ensure the site, often called Tiwanaku, is one of Bolivia’s star attractions

BHUTAN

FAST FACTS:     

  • Capital; Thimphu.
  • Main cities; Phuntsholing, Panakha.
  • Populations; 742,737(As per the year 2012)
  • Currency; Ngultram (Nu) = 100 chetrums. Hard currencies and American Express/ Visa accepted. Indian rupees can be used. Exchange rate approximation (NU 59=$1).
  • Time; GMT +6
  • Electricity; 220 Volts. Adaptor may be required
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the left in Bhutan. International driving permit required.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 2, 31; February 21, 22, 23; March 2, 3; May 2, 9; June 13.
  • Language; Dzongkha
  • Religion; Buddhist, Hindu.
  • Country Dial code; +975.
  • Getting there; (Major gateway, including Paro (PBH). Typical flying time from New York is 27.5 hrs. via Delhi, while from UK is 10 hrs via Dhaka, Calcutta, or Kathmandu.
  • Transfers; Paro (5 miles/8 km) bus to Thimphu 90 minutes; taxi 75 minutes.
  • Departure Tax; $ 10.
  • Visa requirements;

You will need a passport valid for at least six months from date of arrival and a visa to enter and exit Bhutan. Visas are only issued to those who have booked travel with a local licensed tour operator, either directly or through a foreign travel agent.  Visa clearance takes at least 10 days.

  • Health requirements;

Yellow fever immunisation essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended. Also malaria, depending on area visited, and Meningitis, depending on area visited and time of year.

  • Climate;

Conditions vary with altitude high in the Himalayas.  Spring and autumn are warm. Summer is hot, but winters can be severe.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BHUTAN;   

  • 1. Taktsang monastery and National museum, Paro.
  • 2. Painting school, as well as the National memorial stupa, Thimphu.
  • Safety and Security;

Medical facilities are limited and altitude can be a problem, it is generally peaceful, but with a significant number of areas closed to foreigners.

  • What to eat and drink;

Bhutanese cuisine includes chicken, yak meat, dried beef, pork, pork fat and mutton, usually eaten with red rice. Drinks include butter tea.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BHUTAN IN DETALS;

  • 1. RINCHEN PUNG DZONG;

With a name which translates as 'fortress on a heap of jewels'.  It is easy to see why this is one of the most impressive examples of Bhutanese architecture.

  • 2. TASHICHOEDZONG;

The traditional summer capital of Bhutan and once the seat of power for Dharma Raja, who built the dzong (fortress) and was founder of the Lho - drukpasect, it has been the seat of Bhutan's government since 1952. The two - storey building is surrounded by three storey towers surmounted by a three - tiered golden roof.

 

  • 3. MOTITHANG TAKIN PRESERVE;

This widlife preserve in Thimphu is for takin, the national animal of Bhutan. Originally a min -  zoo, it was converted into a preserve when it was found that the animals would not live in the surrounding forest even when they had been set free.

  • 4. FESTIVALS;

The festivals of Bhutan have a reputation for being raucous, joyous affairs, but they are also spiritual events, believed to gain attendees merit for the next life. Tshechus (festivals) dedicated to Guru Rinpoche are celebrated for between three and five days, according to the location. Highlights are the classical, religious - based dances, and in some tshechus the viewing of the thongdrei (a huge and sacred thangka, or pointed banner).

 

  • 5. NATIONAL MUSEUM;

Housed in the refurbished Ta - dzong building in Paro, the national museum of Bhutan displays cultural artifacts gathered from different parts of the country. The exhibition includes bronze statues, paintings and handicraft items that cover the country's cultural heritage of more than 1,500 years. The museum contains more than 3,000 items.

  • 6. TAKTSANG MONASTERY;

This prominent sacred Himalayan Buddhist site and temple complex is built into the cliff side of the upper paro valley. The first temple complex was built there in 1692, around the Taktsang senge Samdup cave where Guru Padmasambhava - credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan and the tutelary deity of the country - is said to have meditated for three months back in the eighth century. The monastery, which is six miles north of Paro, hangs onto a precipitous cliff at an altitude of 10, 240 ft (3,120 meters).

BERMUDA

FAST FACTS:    

  • Capital: Hamilton.
  • Populations; 64,566 (As per the year2010 estimation).
  • Currency; Bermuda dollar (B$) =100 cents. Us currency is accepted at equal value. All major credit cards accepted. Exchange rate (B$ 1=$1). Tipping (Generally included by hotels and guest houses, otherwise 10 - 15 %).
  • Time; GMT - 4
  • Electricity; 110 Volts. Adaptor required.
  • Driving; On the left with a 35 Km/h to limit. A license is required to rent a motorcycle. There is no car hire availability.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1; April 3; May 25; June 15; July 30, 31; September 7; November 11; December 25,26.
  • Language; English
  • Religion; Christian
  • Country Dial code; +441/+1441

                         Getting there; (Major gateway, including Bermuda international airport (BDA). Typical flying time from Atlanta, 2.5 hrs, while from UK is 6 hrs 30 minutes.

Transfers; Hamilton (10 miles/16 km) taxi 30 minutes.

Departure Tax; Included in the cost of air tickets.

Ports; St George’s, Hamilton Dockyard.

Getting around;

There are no rental cars available on the island of Bermuda, but visitors are able to easily get around by taxi, bus, ferry and motor - scooters. Bus and ferry passengers can also take advantage of the transportation pass, which is available to buy for one, three and seven day’s unlimited use.

Visa requirements;

Visa is essential and required, but you must book accommodation before you arrive. Passport must be valid for proposed duration of stay.

Health requirements; none

Climate; Mild, subtropical climate, with hot summers and mild winters and no official rainy season. The odd shower can be heavy.  Temperatures on the island range from 68F to 84F.

BELIZE

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital; Belmopan
  • Main cities; Belize City, Belmopan city, Orange walk.
  • Populations; 351,600 (As per the year 2013 estimation).
  • Currency; Belize dollar (BZ$) = 100 cents. Credit cards and US dollars widely accepted. It is recommended you enter Belize with US dollars. Exchange rate approximate (BZ$1.99=$1). Tipping (10% suggested).
  • Time; GMT – 6
  • Electricity; 110 volts. An adaptor may be required.
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the right. National driving licence valid for up to 90 days.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1; March 9; April 3,4,6; May 1; September 10,21; October 12; November 19; December 25,26.
  • Language; English
  • Religion; Mainly catholic. Also protestant, Adventist, Baptist, Jehovah’s witness, Anglican and Methodist, Mennonite.
  • Country Dial Code; +501
  • Getting there; (Major gateway, including Philip S.W. Goldson international airport, Belize City (BZE). Typical flying time – Direct flights depart from Atlanta (3 hours), Dallas (3 hours), Houston (2.5 hours), Miami (2 hours) and Los Angeles (4.5 hours). From UK, 11hours via Miami.
  • Transfers; Belize City (10 miles/16 km).
  • Ports; Belize City, Big creek, San Pedro.
  • Visa requirements; Visa is essential and needed.
  • Health requirements; Yellow fever immunisation essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, polio and typhoid recommended; malaria if traveling outside Belize City.
  • Climate; The weather is subtropical in Belize, with temperatures averaging 86F all year – around. The wet season runs from June – October, while the dry season is from November – May and the hurricane season goes from June – October.
  • Getting Around; A bus system operates within Belize City and around the local districts. There is no rail network in the country. Air services operate within Belize and to neighboring countries. There are also water taxis that travel between the mainland and the islands.
  • Major events;
  • 1. New Year’s Cycling classic (January).
  • 2. San Pedro Carnival (February).
  • 3. Placencia sidewalk Arts & Music Festival (February)
  • 4. La Ruta Maya Belize River challenge (March).
  • 5. Holy Saturday cross – country classic (April)
  • 6. Whale shark Day (April)
  • 7. San Jose Succotz Fiesta (April).
  • 8. Cashew Festival (May)
  • 9. Chocolate Festival of Belize (May).
  • 10. Sovereign’s Day (May).
  • 11. Lobster Festival (June).
  • 12. Hopkins Mango Festival (July)
  • 13. Benque Viejo del Carmen Fiesta (July)
  • 14. Deer Dance Festival (August)
  • 15. Costa Maya Festival (August)
  • 16. Carnival (September)
  • 17. Rum Fest(October)
  • 18. Garifuna settlement Day (November);
  • TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BELIZE;
  • 1. Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest on the planet.
  • 2. Great Blue Hole, which is believed to be the world’s largest underwater sinkhole.
  • 3. Archaeological sites – Cerros; Maya Hill, Altunt Ha; water of the Rock, Lamanai; submerged crocodile, Cahal Perch, place of Jicks, Caracol: the snail, Xunantunich; Maiden of the Rock, Lubaantun; place of Fallen stones, Nim Li Punit; Big Hat.
  • 4. Caves – Rio Frio, Barton creek cave, chechem Ha Cave, ActunTunichilMuknal, St Herman’s cave, Tiger cave, Hokeb Ha cave, caves Branch.
  • 5. The rainforest, which covers half of Belize.
  • 6. Cocks comb Basin Wildlife sanctuary, protecting jaguars.
  • 7. Belize zoo, set in more than 29 acres of tropical savanna.
  • 8. Ambergris Caye, the largest cave in Belize.
  • 9. Placencia, the only place in Belize where you will find pure white sand beaches.
  • 10. Half-moon caye, an island nature reserve with more than 98 bird species.
  • 11. Laughing Bird caye, which is named after the laughing bird gull, which breeds there.
  • 12. Turneffe islands, an atoll with more than 70 dive sites.
  • 13. South water caye marine reserve, known for its snorkeling, diving, and fishing.
  • TOP ACTIVITIES;
  • 1. Diving
  • 2. Snorkeling
  • 3. Fishing
  • 4. Watersports
  • 5.  Hiking
  • 6. Caving
  • 7. River rafting
  • 8. Canoeing
  • 9. Bird watching
  • 10. Zip line.
BELGIUM

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital; Brussels.
  • Populations; 10,839,905 (As per the year 2010 estimates).
  • Main cities; Bruges, Liege, Namur, Mons, Antwerp, Ghent.
  • Currency: Euro = 100 Cents. All credit cards accepted. Exchange rate approximate (Euro 0.73= $ 1). Tipping (A service charge is generally included in hotel and restaurant bills, but tip 10% for great service. It is normal to tip cloakroom staff and porters.
  • Time; GMT +1
  • Electricity; 220 volts. Adaptor required.
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the right.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1; April 21; May 1, 29; June 9; July 21; August 15; September 27; November 1,11,15 and December 25.
  • Language; French, Flemish (Dutch) and German, although English is widely spoken.
  • Religion: Catholic majority.
  • Country Dial Code: +32
  • Getting there: (Major gateways, including Brussels international (BRU); Charleroi(CRL); Brussels Midi Railway Station (Euro star), Antwerp (ANR). Typical flying time from New York is 7.5hrs, while from UK is 1 hour.
  • Transfers: Brussels international (7.5 miles/13 km), Antwerp (2 miles/3km).
  • Ports: Ostend, Zeebrugge, Antwerp (cruise);
  • Visa requirements: Belgium is party to the Schengen Agreement. No visa required for stays of up to 90 days. That period begins when entering any country party to the Schengen Agreement. Sufficient funds and a return airline ticket are required.
  • Health requirements: None.
  • Climate: Continental European, except for the Ardennes, where temperatures are 3 – 5 C lower than in the capital Brussels.
  • Getting Around: Belgium has a comprehensive railway and motorway network linking all major cities in the country.
  • Accommodation: Hotels and campsites are star rated one to five. Holiday villages can be found in the country side and self- catering is available on the coast. There are many B & B establishments throughout the country, as well as camping (trekking) huts and also youth hostels.
  • Major events:
  • 1. Dead Rat Ball, Ostend (March).
  • 2. Binche carnival (March).
  • 3. Tour of Flanders Rally (April).
  • 4. Jazz marathon, Brussels (May).
  • 5. Cat Festival Ypres (May).
  • 6. Mechelen Hanswijk procession (May).
  • 7. Ostend at Anchor (May).
  • 8. Procession of the Holy Blood, Bruges (June).
  • 9. Zandfeesten, giant flea market, Bruges (One day in July, August, September).
  • 10. Ghent festivities (July).
  • 11. Brussels Omegang (July)
  • 12. Bath Jub Regatta, Dinant (August).
  • 13. Bruges pageant of the Golden Tree (August).
  • 14. F1 GP SPa (August Bank holiday weekend).
  • 15. Brussels Beer Weekend (Early september).
  • 16. Hop parade & Festival, poperinge (September).
  • 17. Diksmuide Beer Festival (end of September/early October)
  • 18. Halloween in Ostend (October).
  • 19. Hasselt Jenever Festivities (October).
  • 20. Armistice commemoration, Ypres (November 11).
  • 21. Chocolate Festival, Bruuges (November).
  • 22. Christmas markets; all cities including Brussels, Bruges, Liege, Mons and Ostend.
  • 23. Battle of the Bulge event, Bastogne (December).
  • 24. Flower carpet, Brussels (August).
  • 25. Battle of waterloo (June).
  • 26. Ommegang, Brussels (June).
  • 27. BRAFA, Brussels antiques and time art fair (January).
  • 28. Festivity “Namur en Mai”, Namur (May).
  • 29. Festival “couleur café”, Brussels (June).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BELGIUM;

  • 1. The beaches of Ostend and Belgian coast.
  • 2. Herge museum (Tintin), Louvain La Neuve.
  • 3. Waterloo (site and museums of the battle field).
  • 4. Walibi Theme park, wavre
  • 5. Toy museum, Mechelen.
  • 6. Technopolis science attraction.
  • 7. The Beguinage, Town Hall and Museum, Leuven.
  • 8. MAS museum, Rubens House and Diamond Museum Antwerp.
  • 9. St Bravo's cathedral, STAM and castle of the counts.
  • 10. Basilica of the Holy Blood and Belfry Tower, Bruges.
  • 11. In Flanders Fields Museum and Bellewaerde Park, Ypres.
  • 12. Mini Europe Park; Atomium museum of musical instruments, comic strip museum, and Magritte Museum, Brussels.
  • 13. The Horta House (art nouveau), Brussels.
  • 14. The town of spa, known since Roman times for its baths.
  • 15. Grand place and Hotel de Ville, Brussels.
  • 16. Statue of the Manneken pis, Brussels.
  • 17. Autoworld car museum, Brussels.
  • 18. Historic center of Bruges, a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • 19. The battle of the bulge memorial sites, Bastogne.
  • 20. Galleries St Hubert 19th - century shopping arcade, Brussels.

 

What to eat and drink;

Belgium has some wonderful hearty regional dishes and sea food features heavily, as do tempting waffles, pastries and chocolates.  Specialties include shrimp croquettes; boulettes a la Liegeoise (meat balls) and carbonades a la liege Oise (beef marinated in beer); mussels (best season being September -  March) with frites (fries); waterzoo (a creamy fish or chicken stew); strawberries from wepion. There are more than 600 beers to choose from, while jenever is a strong spirit.

What to buy;

Beer, Lace, Belgian chocolates are world famous, tapestries, leather goods such as handbags, crystal, diamonds, fashion items, comics and also cartoon memorabilia.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQUE);

  • 1. Does Belgium have Christmas markets?      

Answer; Most Belgian villages have a market in December, but be aware that dates sometimes vary. The main ones are in Brussels, Liege, Mons, Bruges and Ostend.

  • 2. Do Belgian museums have a closing day?

Answer; Yes, closing day is usually Monday, but days may vary between cities.

  • 3. Is it true you can travel to any Belgian station using a Eurostar ticket? 

Answer; No. Tickets on Eurostar to Brussels used to be valid to any station in Belgium within a 24 - hour period. However, for a small surcharge at the time you book the ticket, you can still choose the option to travel to any Belgian station. This way you can avoid having to queue at the booth in Brussels Midi station.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BELGIUM IN DETAILS;

  • 1. AUTOWORLD CAR MUSEUM;

A shrine for the true car enthusiast, this museum has more than 400 vehicles on display. The entire history of the motor vehicle is covered from 1886 through to the 1970s. There are also rare pre—WW11 models on show.

  • 2. MANNEKEN PIS;

The little bronze boy peeing has been the pride and joy of the inhabitants of Brussels for centuries. Nobody knows why the statue is there and he is the subject of much mythology.    He has a collection of more than 500 costumes, which are on display in the Musee de Ville -  you may even be lucky enough to see him wearing one. He received his first costume as long as 1698.

  • 3. GALLERIES ST HUBERT;

This grand 19th - century shopping arcade near the Grand place has been restored to its original grandeur. Once the haunt of writers such as Charles Baudelaire and Victor Hugo, the arcade now provides a welcome escape from modern day shopping. With its cinema, cafes, bookshops and theater, there is plenty to see and do.

  • 4. THE ATOMIUM;

Built for the 1958 world Fair, the Atomium has become a symbol of the country. The 334ft – tall steel and aluminium structure is designed to represent the atom concept, enlarged 165 billion times. It offers a superb panoramic view of Brussels and its surroundings.

  • 5. BELGIAN COMIC STRIP CENTER;

This is housed in a charming art nouveau building designed by Victor Horta, creator of Lucky Lulle, Spirou. The Smurts and Gaston Lagaffe. You will see how cartoons are made, wise up on production techniques and see antique comic strips of many characters. The museum shop, packed full of books, gadgets and posters, is worth visiting.

  • 6. GRAND PLACE & HOTEL DE VILLE:

Grand place, in the very heart of Brussels, was described by Victor Hugo as “the most beautiful square in Europe” it contains numerous impressive baroque and gothic buildings, many with dazzling gilt details. They include the Hotel de Ville (town hall), a gothic masterpiece from the early 15thcentury. A guided tour takes you into many of its art -  adorned rooms.

BELARUS

FAST FACTS;      

  • Capital; Minsk
  • Main cities; Gomel, Mogilev, Vitebsk, Brest, Grodno.
  • Populations; 9, 577, 552(As per the year 2011 estimates).
  • Currency; Belarus rouble (BYR). US dollars are suitable for exchanging money.  Visa and American Express accepted.  Also euro. Exchange rate approximate (BYR 10, 189 = $ 1).  Tipping (10% in restaurants).
  • Time; GMT +2
  • Electricity; 220 Volts. Adaptor required.
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the right. International licence is required.
  • Public Holidays; Includes January 1, 7; March 8, 15; April 12; May 1, 9; july3; November 2;
  • Languages; Belarusian, Russian, English widely spoken.
  • Religion; Orthodox, Catholic.
  • Country Dial Code; + 375.
  • Getting there; (Major gateway, including Minsk International (MSQ). Typical flying time from New York is 10 hrs, while from Uk is 3hrs.
  • Transfers; Minsk (27 miles /43 km) bus and taxi 60 minutes.
  • Visa requirements; Visa is essential and required.
  • Health requirements; Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended.
  • Climate; Continental, variable in both summer and winter. Average January temperature is – 6c and average July temperature 18c. It rains heavily in late summer and autumn.
  • TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BELARUS;
  • 1. Orthodox cathedral, Minsk.
  • 2. The Hill of Glory, Minsk
  • 3. Botanical Gardens, Minsk.
  • 4. The 16th - century Mir castle
  • 5. Nesvizh palace and town.
  • 6. Sofia cathedral, Polotsk.
  • 7. Palace and park, Gomel.
BARBADOS

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital; Bridgetown
  • Populations; 278,000 (As per the year 2012 estimates).
  • Currency; Barbados dollar (BDS$) = 100 cents. All major credit cards accepted. Exchange rate approximate (BDS$2=$1). Tipping (Hotels and Restaurants generally include service.  Otherwise 10%. For porters, BDS $ 1(27p) per bag.
  • Time; GMT—4 (summer), GMT- 5 (winter).
  • Electricity; 110 volts. Adaptor required.
  • Driving; On the left. International driving permit recognized.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1, 21; April 3, 6, 28; May 1, 25; August 1, 3; November 20; December 25.
  • Language; English.
  • Religion; Predominantly Anglican, with more than 100 religious denominations.
  • Country Dial Code; +1246.
  • Getting there; (Major gateway, including Grantley Adams International Airport, Christ church (BGI). Typical flying time from UK is 8 hours, while from Miami is 3.5 hours.
  • Transfers; Bridgetown (7 miles/11 km) bus 40 minutes; taxi 30minutes.
  • Port; Bridgetown.
  • Getting Around; Buses operate a wide network of scheduled services and taxis have set fares. Rental cars, beach buggies, mopeds and bicycles are options; visitors are required to produce a valid driving license for the issue of a Barbados driving permit, valid for one year.
  • Visa requirements; Visa is essential and required.
  • Health requirements; Yellow fever immunisation essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, polio and typhoid recommended. No visa is needed to enter Barbados for stays of up to six months.
  • Climate; Barbados is consistently hot all year round, but temperatures are never extreme and sea breezes help to offset humidity. The wettest months are June to November, when there is also a risk of hurricanes. Barbados has not had a major hurricane since 1955.
  • Accommodation; Barbados offers a broad selection of places to stay, ranging from luxury and A class hotel to less expensive options, including guesthouses, villas and self-catering establishments.
  • What to eat and drink; Fresh sea food is the islands specialty. The flying fish emblem of   the island Permeates Bajan culture and is eaten baked, steamed or fried. Crane, chubb, kingfish, snapper, dolphin fish (mahimahi) and tuna are popular fish, along with lobster. There is also roast suckling pig, sea urchins, crab soup and   coconut bread. The main drink is rum, which comes in a variety of forms, including planter’s punch, and beer.
  • What to buy; Local handicrafts, a variety of rum, duty - free jewelry, crystal and fragrances.
  • Major Events;
  • 1. Independence Festival of creative Arts (November).
  • 2. Crop over Festival (July – August).
  • 3. Congaline carnival (April - May).
  • 4. Oistins Fish Festival (April).
  • 5. Holders opera season, Bridgetown (March – April).
  • 6. Hole town Festival (February).
  • 7. Barbados Jazz Festival (January).
  • 8. Gospel fest (May).
  • 9. Run Barbados (December).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BARBADOS;

  • 1. Atlantis sub and other cruises.
  • 2. Welchman Hall Gully.
  • 3. Andromeda Gardens.
  • 4. Flower Forest.
  • 5. Wildlife reserve and zoo park.
  • 6. Farley Hill National Park.
  • 7. Gunhill Signal Station.
  • 8. Barbados museum.
  • 9. Harrison’s cave.
  • 10. Francis Plantation.
  • 11. Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary.
  • 12. Chalky Mount Potteries.
  • 13. Francia Great House.
  • 14. Lancaster Great House Gallery & Gardens.
  • 15. Garrison savannah.
  • 16. George Washington House.
  • 17. Atlantis Submarines.
  • 18. Ariel Trek.
  • 19. Catamaran Cruises.
  • 20. Jolly Roger Cruises.
  • 21. Oistins Fish Fry.

TOP ACTIVITIES;

  • 1. Catamaran cruising.
  • 2. Deep - sea fishing.
  • 3. Scuba diving.
  • 4. Surfing.
  • 5. Water skiing.
  • 6. Golf.
  • 7. Coastal hiking.
BANGALADESH

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital; Dhaka
  • Main cities; Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet.
  • Population; 150,493,000 (As per year 2010 estimates.
  • Currency; Taka (TK) = 100 poisha. US dollar is the preferred foreign currency. Exchange rate approximate (TK 77 = $ 1). Tipping (between 5% and 10% depending on service).
  • Time; GTM + 6
  • Electricity; 220 volts. An adapter may be required.
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the left. International permit required.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1,3; February 21; March 26; April 14; May 1, 16, 25; July 13,18; September 23; October 13, 22; November 7; December 16.
  • Language; Bengali. English is widely spoken and understood.
  • Religion; Sunni Muslim and Hindu.
  • Country Dial Code; + 880.
  • Getting there; (Major gateway, including Dhaka (DAC)/Hazrat shahjalal International Airport. Typical flying time from New York is 18.5 hours via Dubai, while from UK is 12 hours.
  • Transfers; Dhaka (11 miles/17km), taxi 45minutes; bus; tuk-tuk.
  • Departure Tax; TK 300, usually included in ticket price.
  • Ports; Chittagong, Mongla.
  • Visa requirements; A visa and an onward or return ticket are required; the visa should be obtained prior to arrival.
  • Health requirement: Yellow fever immunization is essential if arriving within six days of having visited an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid, polio and malaria recommended.
  • Climate; Subtropical, ranging from a daytime low of 18C in the cold season to a maximum 40C in summer. The monsoon season is June – September.

Accommodation; There is a variety of places to stay in Bangladesh. These include hotels, guesthouses as well as self – catering accommodation.

MAJOR EVENTS;

  • 1. Victory Day (December)
  • 2. National Revolution Day (November)
  • 3. Durga puja (Dashami) -  October
  • 4. Buddha Purnima (May)
  • 5. Bangla New Year (April)
  • 6. Independence Day (March)
  • 7. International Mother Language Day (February)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BANGLADESH:         

  • 1. Mainimati Ruins
  • 2. Bangladesh Tea Research Institute
  • 3. Lalbagh Fort, Dhaka
  • 4. Shankharia Bazar, Dhaka
  • 5. Painam Nagar
  • 6. Karnaphuli river.
  • 7. Sitara mosque, Dhaka.
  • 8. Liberation war museum, Dhaka
  • 9. National museum, Dhaka
  • 10. Suhrawardi park, Dhaka
  • 11. Somapiri vihara archaeological site
  • 12. Bhawal national park.
  • 13. Folk Art Museum, Sonargaon
  • 14. Tribal cultural institute museum, Rangamati
  • 15. Dharmarajikha Buddhist Monastery, Dhaka

What to eat and drink;

Bangladesh cuisine contains numerous Persian - Arabic elements and the use of beef sets it apart from the cuisine of west Bengal in India. A staple throughout the country is rice, various kinds of lentil (known locally as dal), fish and mutton. Curry dishes vary from sweet and mild to extremely spicy. To drink, there is borhani, a spiced Mughal drink made from yoghurt with eastern spices.

What to buy; 

Jewellery, items of copper or leather, carpets and clothing.

BAHRAIN

FAST FACTS:                                      

  • Capital; Manama.
  • Population; 1,200,000 (As per the year 2011 estimates)
  • Currency; Dinar (BD) =1,000 fils. US dollars and credit cards widely accepted. Exchange rate approximate (BDO.37=$1). Tipping (Not expected)
  • Time; GMT+3
  • Electricity; 240 volts. Adaptor required.
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the right. International driving licence accepted
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1, 3; July 17; September 23 -25; October 14, 23; November3; December 16. The list includes Muslim festivals, the dates of which are approximate.
  • Language; Arabic, with English widely spoken.
  • Religion; Muslim
  • Country Dial Code; +973
  • Getting there; (Major gateway, including Bahrain international airport (BAH). Typical flying time from New York is 14 hours via Heathrow, while from UK is 6 hrs. 30 minutes.
  • Transfers; Manama (4 miles/6.5 km) taxi 15 - 20 minutes.
  • Port; KBSP Khalifa bin Salman port
  • Visa requirements; Visa issued on arrival for three months. Six - month validity required on passport.  For details, see (www. evisa. gov. bh).
  • Health requirements; Precautions against polio and typhoid recommended; there is a risk of hepatitis A and B.
  • Climate; October to April are mild months in Bahrain with occasional rainfall; the summer is very hot and humid. The best time to visit is from October to May.

Accommodation;        

Hotel options in Bahrain cover the accommodation range, with a good selection of five - star properties available. There are two tourist resorts and a number of tourist apartments.

Major Events;  

  • 1. National Day Carnivals (starting December 16)
  • 2. Eids Festivals (October and December)
  • 3. Music Festivals (October)
  • 4. TA'A Alshabab (September)
  • 5. Heritage Festival (July)
  • 6. Bahrain Summer Festivals (June)
  • 7. Formula 1 Grand prix (April)
  • 8. Spring of Culture Festival (March)
  • 9. Bahrain International airshow (January)

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BAHRAIN:       

  • 1. Seef Mall and Moda Mall
  • 2. Bahrain World Trade Centre
  • 3. Green Building
  • 4. State of the art Malls
  • 5. Market 338 Adliya
  • 6. Bab Elbahrian Arch
  • 7. Adhari Theme Park
  • 8. Lost Paradise of Dilmun
  • 9. Al Areen wildlife park
  • 10. Bahrain National Museum
  • 11. Dar Islands
  • 12. Suq Alqaisariya
  • 13. Old houses of Muharraq
  • 14. Arad Fort, Sheikh Ahmed bin Salman Al Fateh Fort
  • 15. A'Aali Royal Burial mounds and pottery workshops.
  • 16. Bahrain Fort (UNESCO World Heritage site)
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQUE)
  • 1. What will Bahrain do when the gas and oil reserves eventually run out?

Answer: Although the economy of Bahrain is based on natural gas and oil, as reserves dwindle the economy will increasingly look to alternatives such as aluminum processing, financial services and tourism for its income.

  • 2. Is Bahrain linked to Saudi Arabia?

Answer: The 16 - mile/25 km King Fahd causeway connects the Island nation to Saudi Arabia, with which it continues to retain close relations. Other causeways link Bahrain to the neighbouring islands of Muharraq and Sitrah.

BAHAMAS

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital; Nassau.
  • Population; 353, 658 (As per year 2010 estimates)
  • Currency; Bahamian dollar (B$) =100 Cents. Parity with US dollar. Exchange rate (B$1=$1). Tipping (Most restaurants include a 15% service charge. It not, it’s the usual tip.
  • Time; GMT - 5
  • Electricity; 120 Volts. No adaptor required.
  • Driving; Traffic drives on left.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1; April 3, 6; May 25; June 5; July 10; August 3; October 12; December 25, 26;
  • Language; English
  • Religion; Baptist, Anglican, Catholic
  • Country Dial Code; +1242
  • Getting there; (Major gateways, including Nassau (NAS); Freeport (FPO). Typical flying time from Miami, 1 hr., while from UK is 9 hours.
  • Departure Tax; $18.

Transfers;

  • Nassau to city centre (17 miles/27 km); to paradise Island (20 miles/32 km); to cable beach (6. 5 miles/10 km) Freeport to Lucaya (8 miles/13 km).
  • Ports;

Nassau (New Province); Freeport (Grand Bahamas Island).

Visa requirements;

Visa is crucial and needed

Health requirements;  

Yellow fever immunisation essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended.

Climate;

The Bahamas' climate is temperate year round. Temperatures rarely drop below 16 C or rise above 32 C. Rainfalls year - round, with the wettest months June to October, and the driest December to April. There is a risk of hurricanes between July and November.

Accommodation;   

There is a wide variety of accommodation on the Islands of the Bahamas, from guest houses and self - catering apartments and villas to world -  class resorts. Camping is generally prohibited for tourists.

 

Major Events; 

  • 1. New Year’s Day Junkanoo Parade
  • 2. Boxing Day Junkanoo Parade (December)
  • 3. One Bahamas Music & Heritage Festival (November)
  • 4. International cultural weekend (October)
  • 5. Junkanoo Summer Festival (July - August)
  • 6. Eleutheria Pineapple Festival(June)
  • 7. Family Island Regatta (April.)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BAHAMAS;   

  • 1. Dolphin encounter, dolphin experience in Nassau and Grand Bahama Island.
  • 2. Forts (three) in Nassau.
  • 3. Straw markets in Nassau and throughout the islands
  • 4. Crystal clear waters and water sports - fishing, diving, sailing, snorkelling
  • 5. Vendue House, Nassau
  • 6. Christ church cathedral, Nassau
  • 7. Bay street and the woodes Rogers walk, Nassau
  • 8. Atlantis Paradise Island Resort & Casino
  • 9. Freeport, Grand Bahama.
  • 10. Quaint out Islands.

What to eat & drink;

Conch (seafood) prepared as fritters, salads, chowder, deep fried; boiled fish (grouper); macaroni cheese; peas 'n' rice; guava duff; Johnny cake (sweet bread). Kalik is the local beer and popular cocktails include Bahamamama,  Goombay smash and yellow Bird.

What to buy;

Duty-free perfume, watches, jewellery, china, crystal, linen, cameras, leather goods. Barcardi and other spirits are also good value for money.

CHINA

FAST FACTS;                                                                    

Capital; Beijing.

Main cities; Shanghai, Gungzhou, Shenzen, Wuhan, Chongqing, Hongkong, Shenyang.

Populations; 1,339,724,852(As per year 2010 estimates)

Currency; Renminbi yuan(RMB).  US dollars are the best currency to take.  Credit cards are accepted. Exchange rate approximate RMB 6.23=$1. Tipping (service charge normally included. But in mainland China, tipping, not generally expected.

Time; GMT +8

Electricity; 220 volts.  An adaptor may be required for some appliances.

Driving; On the right.  It is possible to hire vehicles for use in Beijing, Shanghai, Hongkong and Sanya, on Hainan island.  International driving licence/permit required.

Public Holidays; Include January 1, February 19-21; April 5; May 1; June20; September27; October 1-3;

Language; Chinese Mandarin.

Religion; Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Taoist.

Country Dial Code; +86

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Beijing(PEK), Shanghai(SHA), Guangzhou Baiyun(CAN), Hongkong(CLK), Macau(MFM). Typical flying time from UK is 9-12 hours, while from Los Angeles to Beijing is 12.5 hours; New York to Beijing 13.5 hours.

Transfers; Beijing (16 miles/26 km) airport bus 50 minutes; taxi 35 minutes. Shanghai (8 miles/13 km) airport bus 30 minutes; taxi 25 minutes.

Ports; Guangzhou, Xiamen,Tianjin, Shanghai, Hongkong, Dalian, Qingdao.

Visa requirements; Visa is essential and needed to enter mainland China, but not Hongkong or Macau. For mainland China, you must get a visa prior to arrival, including for Hainan Island. If you visit Hongkong from the mainland and wish to return to the mainland, you will need a visa that allows you to make a second entry into China. From January 1, 2013, Beijing and Shanghai began allowing foreigners from 45 countries witth visas and plane tickets to a third country to transit through Beijing and Shanghai for 72 hours without a visa for China.  Contact(www.china embassy.org).

Health requirements;

Yelow fever immunisation essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid, polio and malaria (depending on area visited).

Getting Around;

Beijing and Shangai have underground railway systems, and there are bus and trolley bus services throughout the country. Major towns are linked by bus and and efficient and punctual rail service.

The principal means of transport is bicycles, which are used by the majority of the population; bike hire is easy and cheap. Ferries operate between Dalian, Tianjin, Quingdao, Shanghai, HongKong and on major rivers.

Climate; The south is hot and humid with cool winters; the north and central areas have high rainfall, hot summers and cold winters; and the north east has hot, dry summers and severe winters. Beijing has a continental climate, with warm to hot summers and cold winters, with plenty of frost and some snow

  • Accommodation;

There are more than 6,500 hotels in China, with between three and five stars.

  • What to eat and drink;

Main cuisines; Cantonese, Sichuan, Huaiyang and imperial. Drinks; tea, rice wine.

  • Major Events;
  1. Chinese New year, spring festival (January/February).
  • 2. International Labour Day (May 1).
  • 3. National Day (October).
  • 4. Harbin international ice and snow festival (January).
  • 5. Zigong International Dinosaur Lantern Festival (During the spring festival).
  • 6. Annual water – splashing festival in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan (Mid - April).
  • 7. Annual Ethnic Minority singing festival; Lunar March 3 festival (April 21 – 22).
  • 8. China Luoyang Peony culture festival (end of April to the beginning of May).
  • 9. Dragon Boat Festival (June).
  • 10. Naadam Festival, Mongolia (July).
  • 11. Qingdao International Beer Festival (Mid – August).
  • 12. Dalian International Fashion Festival (September).
  • 13. Beijing International Tourism Culture Festival (September).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CHINA;

  • 1. Great wall of China, Beijing.
  • 2. Forbidden city, Beijing.
  • 3. Summer Palace, Beijing.
  • 4. Terracotta Army, Xi'an.
  • 5. Three Gorges, Chongqing (Yangtze river)
  • 6. Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Shanghai.
  • 7. Potala Palace, Lhasa
  • 8. Lijiang River, Guilin.
  • 9. Chinese Gardens, Suzhou.
  • 10. Olympic Games sites, Beijing.
  • 11. Ancient cultural street, Tianjin.
  • 12. Mountain Resort of chengde (BishuShanzhuang), Hebei.
  • 13. Mt. Wutai, Shanxi.
  • 14. Yabul International Ski Resort Heilong jiang.
  • 15. Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai.
  • 16. Chinese Gardens, Suzhou, Jiangsu.
  • 17. West Lake, Huangzhou, Zhejiang.
  • 18. Mt. Huangshan, Anhui.
  • 19. Mt. Wuyi, Fujian.
  • 20. Mt. Taishan, Shandong
  • 21. Shaolin Martial Arts, Henan.
  • 22. Zhangjiajie, Hunan.
  • 23. Splendid China, Shenzhen, Guangdong.
  • 24. Sanya, Hainan.
  • 25. Dazu Rock Carvings, Chongqing
  • 26. Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan.
  • 27. Huang guoshu waterfall, Guizhou.
  • 28. Lijiang Old Town and Mt. Yulong, Yunnan.
  • 29. Mogao caves, Dunhuang, Gansu.
  • 30. Ta’er monastery, Qinghai.
  • 31. West xia Tombs, Ningxia.
  1. HONG KONG/CHINA;
  • Population; 7,000,000 (As per the year 2011 estimates).
  • Currency; Hong Kong dollar (HK$). Major credit cards are widely accepted. Exchange rate approximate (HK$ 7.75=$1).
  • Tipping (hotels/restaurants add a 10% service charge, but an additional 5% may be given).
  • Time; GTM + 8.
  • Electricity; 220 volts, adaptor required.
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the left. International driving permit is recommended.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1, 31; February 1, 3; April 5, 18, 19, 21; May 1, 6; June 2; July 1; September 9; October 1, 2; December 25, 26.
  • Language; official languages are English and Cantonese.
  • Religion; Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian.
  • Country Dial Code; +852
  • Getting there; (Major gateway including, Hong Kong International (HKG). Typical flying time from Los Angeles is 12 hours, from New York 16 hours, while from UK is 11hours 45 minutes.
  • Port; Hong Kong.
  • Transfers; Central/Kowloon (22miles/36km), Airport Express train 23minutes; Airport bus 60-90 minutes to the city center.
  • Visa requirements; Visa is essential and important.
  • Health requirements; No vaccination certificates are required.
  • Climate; Subtropical – hot with high humidity May to September, when there is a possibility of monsoons and even the occasional typhoon. From mid – October to March, it is generally more pleasant with rain; weather conditions are also cooler from December to February.
  • Accommodation; There are over 200 hotels in Hong Kong, from luxury properties to hostels and the YMCA. Most are modern with very modern facilities. There is also a wide selection of budget hotels and guest houses for tourists.

MAJOR EVENTS IN HONG KONG/ CHINA;

  • 1. Chinese New Year (January/February)
  • 2. Hong Kong Arts Festival (February/March).
  • 3. Rugby World Cup Sevens (March).
  • 4. Cheung ChauBun Festival (April)
  • 5. Dragon Boat Festival (June)
  • 6. Hong Kong Summer Spectacular (June-August)
  • 7. Hong Kong Mid-Autumn Festival (September)
  • 8. Wine & Dine Month (November)
  • 9. Hong Kong Winter Fest (November – January)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN HONG KONG;

  • 1. Victoria peak, central, Hong Kong Island.
  • 2. Open – air markets; Ladies’Market, Temple Street Night Market, Kowloon.
  • 3. Tian Tan Buddha statue and Po Lin Buddhist monastery, Lantau.
  • 4. Ocean Park, Aberdeen, Hong Kong Island.
  • 5. Hong Kong DisneyLand Resort, Lantau Island.
  • 6. Repulse Bay, Hong Kong Island.
  • 7. Avenue of stars, Star ferry, the symphony of lights, Tsim ShaTsui, Kowloon.
  • 8. Sik sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon.
  • 9. Stanley market, maritime museum, Murray house, Stanley, Hong Kong Island.
  • 10. Lamma Island, Pengchau, Cheung chan Island, and other outlying Islands.

What to eat and drink;

There are over 11,000 restaurants in Hong Kong, Serving Chinese, Asian and Western Cuisines. They include Cantonese (dim sum, fresh sea food, noodles, rice); Chiu Chow (favourites are duck, goose and sea food,); Peking (Highly flavoured roots and vegetables); Shanghainese (similar to Cantonese Cuisine, featuring preserved vegetables, pickles and salted meats); and Szechuan (Hot and Spicy). Different islands have their own specialities.

What to buy;

Silks, linens, antiques, handicrafts, gold jewellery, fashion, Electronics.

Frequently asked questions (FAQUE)

  • 1. When is the best time to visit Hong Kong?

Answer: Hong Kong is a year – round destination with a mild climate from mid – September to the end of February; from May to mid – September is warm and humid.

  • 2. Is English widely spoken?

Answer: Yes, but it helps to have your destination written down in Chinese for tax drivers.

  • 3. Where is the best area to stay in Hong Kong?

Answer: Most hotels are in the centre, on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. There are also several in the New Territories and on the outlying islands that offer a relaxing alternative to the bustle of the city.

  1. MACAU/CHINA;
  • Population; 591,900 (As per the year 2013 estimates).
  • Currency: Macau Pataca (Mo$) = 100 avos. Pegged to the Hong Kong dollar (HK$). Both are accepted, as well as major credit cards. Exchange rate approximate (MOP$ 7.98=$1). Tipping (Most hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge, but it is customary to leave a small additional tip. Porters should also be tipped.
  • Time: GMT +8
  • Electricity: 220 volts. Adapter is required.
  • Driving: On the left. International licence required.
  • Public Holidays: Include January 1; February 19; April 3, 5, 6; May 1, 25; June 20; September 27; October 1, 21; November 2; December 8, 20, 22, 24, 25.
  • Language: Portuguese and Cantonese are the official languages. English is Macau's third language.
  • Religion: Majority Buddhist, also Catholic.
  • Country Dial Code: + 853.
  • Getting there: (Major getaways, including Macau International (MFM), Hong Kong International (HKG). Also Macau Heliport.
  • Typical flying time from UK is 12 hours.
  • Departure Tax: MOP $ 130 airport tax included in ticket and MOP$ 20 departure tax in ferry ticket.
  • Port: Macau ferry port.
  • Visa requirements: Visa is essential and required.
  • Health requirements; Precautions against hepatitis A and typhoid are recommended.
  • Climate: Moderate to hot. Average annual temperature of just over 20C and a yearly mean average between 16C and 25C. Humidity and rainfall are high. You can expect the occasional typhoon between May and September.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN MACAU/ CHINA;

  • 1. Ruins of St Paul’s
  • 2. Museum of Sacred Art
  • 3. Guia Fortress and Lighthouse
  • 4. Lou Lim Leoc Garden
  • 5. Museum of Macau
  • 6. Macau cultural centre
  • 7. Coloane
  • 8. Senate Library
  • 9. Leal Senado
  • 10. Monte Fort
  • 11. Kun Lam Temple
  • 12. Tin Hau Temple
  • 13. Taipa
  • 14. Old City
  • 15. MGM Grand Macau
  • 16. Colonial Macau.

 

  • Major Events in MACAU/ CHINA;

 

  • 1. 61st Macau Grand Prix (November 13, 16)
  • 2. Macau Food Festival (November)
  • 3. 17thLusofonia Festival (October)
  • 4. 28th Macau International Music Festival
  • 5. Mid - Autumn Festival (September)
  • 6. 26th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest (September)
  • 7. Macau International Dragon Boat Festival (May)
  • 8. Feast of the Drunken Dragon (May)
  • 9. 25th Macau Arts Festival (May)
  • 10. Processions of Our Lord of the Passion (March)
  • 11. Chinese New Year (January – February).

 

 

 

 

  • NATURAL WONDERS OF CHINA;
  • 1. HUANGSHAN

Known as “the loveliest mountain in China,” this UNESCO world heritage site in southern Anhui is one of the country’s most popular attractions, a series of steps leading visitors between key beauty spots and picturesque temples, built by Monks during the Ming Dynasty.

 

  • 2. SICHUAN GIANT PANDA SANCTUARIES

Home to more than 30% of the world’s giant pandas and over 100 other animal species, these seven nature reserves are spread across Sichuan’s Qionglai and   Jiajin Mountains. As the chance of spotting a panda in the wild is slim, the best opportunity of an encounter is at one of the breeding centres within the reserves.

 

  • 3. WULING YUAN

Tall, spindly sandstone formations rise out of the valley like giants’ fingers, over grown with dense green plant life. But they are not the only geological marvel here in far northwest Hunan Province – you will also find two natural bridges, including the ‘Bridge across the Sky’ which towers an impressive 1,170ft above the valley floor.

 

 

  • 4. LI RIVER

The area around this river in Guangxi province is renowed for its natural beauty and it is easy to see why. The greenish water is flanked by spectacular mountains, karst caves and grazing water buffalo, with picturesque towns along the way. A cruise from Guilin to Yanghuo takes around six hours.

 

  • 5. JIUZHAIGOU

Stretching across almost 300 square miles in Northern Sichuan, Jiuzhaigou’s valleys and jugged peaks are a patchwork of dense forests, waterfalls, hot springs, Tibetan villages and more than 100 impossibly blue lakes. The reserve is home to countless animals, including the giant Panda, Sichuan golden snub – nosed monkey, and 140 species of bird.

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN SUZHOU;

The city of Suzhou is located south east of Jiangsu province in eastern China, around 30 minutes by fast train from Shanghai. Often referred to as the Venice of the East due to the high number of canals and bridges in the city, it is located in the Yangtze Delta, with around 42% of its area covered by water. Its classical gardens with pagodas are a significant attraction which saw the city awarded UNESCO world heritage site Status in 1997, while its teahouses, embroidered goods and silk factories are also major draws.

 

  • 1. PIN VON TEAHOUSE: One of the many places to drink tea and snack on dim sum.
  • 2. SILK ROAD CENTRE: Take time out to browse silk shops after a trip to the silk museum.
  • 3. CLASSICAL GARDENS; The four most famous include Lion Grove Garden, the Lingering Garden, Humble Administrator’s Garden, and Master of the Nets Garden.
  • 4. SONG HE LOU (PINE AND CRANE RESTAURANT): This 200 - year- old restaurant serves traditional Suzhou specialties and is located in Taijian Nong (Taijian Lane), also known as Gourmet street, around the Guanqianjie area.
  • 5. RIVA STAKE HOUSE: Located inside the intercontinental hotel, this is Suzhou’s first Mediterranean steak house. Expect a cosy rustic atmosphere, a sophisticated wine list and deliciously decadent desserts.
  • 6. TIGER HILL: Said to resemble a crouching tiger, this is the burial site of King Helv, who ruled the state of Wu from AD 514 - 496. Wander around its pathways to discover the learning pagoda.
  • 7. OPERA: Some of the classical gardens offer free opera for performances during the afternoon. Or try Fu Xi Qin Guan, where you are guaranteed to see performers dressed in elaborate robes and full make – up.
  • 8. LANTERN FESTIVAL: This colourful festival takes place on Jinji Lake, Usually in February or March.
  • 9. SILK FESTIVAL: Discover more about a vital local industry in this annual September/October festival.
  • 10. DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL: A yearly May festival featuring colourful boat races on Jinji Lake.
  • 11. PINGJIANG LU: This cobble stone street features authentic traditional teahouses and cafes, as well as antique shops, and is the place to grab a 45 – minute boat rides through the canals.
  • 12. GUANQIAN JIE: A popular commercial street with century – old stores interspersed with modern chain stores.

 

TOURISM ACTIVITIES IN CHENGDU;

Chengdu is a large and diverse city in the Sichuan province of western China with 12 million residents. A host of cultural and entertainment options keep locals, expats and tourists occupied, while 100 parks – 70 of them public – give the city its laid – back vibe while earning it the title of “National Forestry City”. Chengdu is also the home of the giant panda.

 

  1. ATTRACTION

A visit to Chengdu would not be complete without a trip to see the rarest member of the bear family, the giant panda. Chengdu’s Giant Panda Breeding Centre – located six miles north of the city – was established in 1987 to protect the species through breeding; 50 of the lovable, lazy black and white bears now live at the centre. There is no need to pre - book-just turn up and buy tickets on the day.

 

  1. BUILDING;

One of the oldest temples in Chengdu, the Qing-Yang palace is a must see. Built during the Zhou Dynasty (1022 - 486BC), this beautiful, typically Chinese building once served as a place of worship for Taoists from all over the province. Two symbolic bronze goats stand guard outside.

 

  1. SHOP;

Shoppers won’t be disappointed in this sprawling city, with options ranging from quaint boutiques to gargantuan mega-malls.  One of note   is chicony, a Taiwanese -developed mall selling big brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Dolce and Gabanna. Head up to the ninth – floor food hall to refuel.

 

  1. EAT;

Eating is big business in Chengdu, with hot and spicy Sichuan hots

pots, wontons, and sticky rice balls readily available to test your chilli tolerance. From hole - in - the- wall, cheap and cheerful spots to more upmarket options serving roast rabbit, diners are spoilt for choice. Vegetarians are well catered for, too. You won’t have to go far to find a typical tea house either.

 

  1. BAR;

In the 1990s the face of Chengdu’s traditional pub scene widened to offer sophisticated bars and coffee shops, but the most interesting additions to the conveniently named pub street were book bars, establishments combining a love of books with a love of beer. There are still several in operation but kafta bookstore, located down a cobbled street near the river, is particulary quaint.

 

  1. VIEW;

Fantastic views can be enjoyed from the summit of mount Emei, a sacred Buddhist Mountain located 10,000ft above the city. Opt for a sunrise visit and watch as a deep purple sky gives way to rosy clouds and a bright purple arc as the sun starts to peep through.

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN BEIJING - CHINA:

 

  1. BEIHAI PARK;

This beautiful city centre park is one of the oldest and largest ancient imperial gardens in China, with a man-made island surrounded by an artificial lake at its centre. North of here is prince Gong palace, one of the best - preserved noblemen’s houses in the country and the epitome of classical Chinese architecture.

 

  • 2. TEMPLE OF HEAVEN;   

According to ancient Chinese philosophy, the earth is square, while the heaven is round - hence the prevalence of both shapes in the striking design of this vast complex of temples, which is even larger than the Forbidden City. Dating from the Ming Dynasty and completed in 1420, its Hall of prayer for Good Harvests features a spectacularly intricate caisson ailing. It was as its name suggests - a place where sacrifices and prayers were carried at the emperor’s behest, in the hope of growing abundant crops.

 

  • 3. SUMMER PALACE;

Built during the Jin Dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries, this elegant complex of palaces, temples, and gardens is spread over 700 acres around the Kunming lake. Highlights include the 17 Arches Bridge, the Tower of the Fragrance of the Buddha, and the marble boat - the latter being a popular spot for newlyweds.

 

  • 4. TIANANMEN SQUARE;

This symbol of the Cultural Revolution is dominated by a giant portrait of Chairman Mao, who reshaped the square to enable up to half a million people to gather here. Lining the vast public space are the Great Hall of the people, the legislative centre of China, national museum of China, and Mao’s mausoleum, where the embalmed politician has been on display since 1976.

 

  • 5. FORBIDDEN CITY;

The gigantic complex, stretching across 177 across, was built in the 15th century to houses the emperors - the 'sons of the Heaven' -  and their massive households. This city within the city, which contains around 800 pavilions, is the largest collection of ancient wooden buildings in the world and features a truly impressive architectural mix of red walls and columns, along with yellow tiles, golden door panels, and marble balustrades.

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN SHANGHAI/ CHINA; 

 

  • 1. YU GARDENS;

This beautiful old city green space, also known as Yu yuan Gardens, dates back to the 16th century, and today features more than 30 pavilions, as well as carp - filled ornamental ponds, beautiful bridges and an impressive rockery made from 2,000 tons of yellow stone

 

 

 

  • 2. CENTURY PARK;

The city’s biggest park offers plenty to keep children - and big kids occupied, with everything from rentable bikes and tandems to pedal boats on its waterways. Elsewhere, there is a mini golf course, wildlife park, concert stage, picnic area and plenty of space to lie back and relax.

 

  • 3. SHANGHAI BOTANICAL GARDEN;

It may be far from central shanghai, located eight miles out on the southwestern outskirts of the city, but that is what makes the Botanical Garden a perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle. It is divided into several areas, with ponds, bonsai and bamboo gardens, and exhibition green houses.

 

  • 4. THE BUND;

Stretching along the west bank of the Huangpu River. The Bund was once the heart of the city’s financial district. The street remains a Shanghai icon, with its wide promenade and mishmash of architectural styles - from art deco to neoclassical and gothic revival - being the principal attraction. It is also a great spot for dining and bar - hopping, and for looking across to the high - rise pudong district, which contains the futuristic, oriental pearl Tower.

 

  • 5. FRENCH CONCESSION;

As the name suggests, this district was once under French control, and its distinctly European tree - lined boulevards and villas remain.  You can easily spend a whole day admiring the architecture, but there is also the 24 - acre Fuxing park, a popular tai spot, and a buzzing nightlife.

 

  • 6. OLD CITY;

Settlement in this picturesque part of Shanghai dates back hundreds of years, although many of the buildings have been restored or rebuilt.  The beautiful YU GARDENS and the city’s surviving Confucius temple are two of the top sights here.

 

  • 7. JINMAO TOWER;

Once the tallest building in China, this 88 - storey tower is home to offices and a hotel, but there is also an observation deck on the top floor with breathtaking views across the city.

 

  • 8. RENMIN SQUARE;

Right in the centre of Shanghai, Renmin (people's) square is home to a park and a concrete plaza which, during rush hour, is buzzing with commuters, thanks to its excellent transport connections. Around the square are some of the city’s best museums and the Shanghai Municipal Government Mansion.

 

  • 9. SHANGHAI MUSEUM;

Once located in an old bank building on the Bund, this museum is now housed in a modern building on RENMIN square; its impressive collection includes paintings, ancient bronzes, sculptures, calligraphy and ceramics.

 

  • 10. YU YUAN MARKET;

This market, just outside YU GARDENS, has more than 100 shops and stalls, and while it is undoubted touristy, you can still get a bargain on items such as antiques, silk fans and paintings. It is also home to the city's oldest medicine shop, where you can find traditional Chinese remedies for just about any ailment.

 

  • 11. PLAZA 66;

A slick mall on bustling Nanjingxi Road in Jingan district and the place to go for designer goods. High - end brands including Louis Vuitton, Dior, Cartier, and chopard, have stores here (www.plaza66.com)

 

  • 12. XINTIANDI;

This street was redeveloped in the late 1990s to turn its pretty residential buildings into sophisticated shops, cafes and restaurants. It is now pedestrianised, and its boutiques - housed in traditional Chinese and British - style buildings dating back to the 1920s and 1930s - stock local brands as well as international names such as French connection and Lacoste.

 

  • 13. SHOUNING LU;

For succulent sea food that won’t break the bank, head to Shouning Lu in Huangpu district. This street food haven is best visited at night, when the locals are out in force, and you can get your hands on freshly grilled crayfish, oysters and scallops.

 

  • 14. DIN TAI FUNG;

This chain started life as a street food stall in Taiwan, and has since expanded to have branches around the world, all serving very reasonably priced pork and shrimp Xuaolongbao (soup dumplings). 11a 2nd floor, building 6, xintiandi south block, 123 xingye Lu, Luwan district.

 

  • 15. PEOPLE 7;

You really have to know how you are going to get into this restaurant/bar - the secret, coded entrance provides a challenge to would - be guests, but once inside, the slick decor and ultra-low lighting combine to create an ambient space for enjoying the excellent - and pricey - Pan - Asian cuisine. 805 Julu Lu, Jiang'an district.

 

  • 16. STORMY CAFE;

If walking around the French concession leaves you in need of a caffeine fix, try this little cafe, serving good coffee, beer, cocktails and snacks. The cosy decor features armchairs, cushions and vintage - style posters, and there are board games to entertain you.  229 Danshui Lu, Luwan district.

 

  • 17. TIME PASSAGE;

Cheap drinks, a laid back atmosphere and live music mean this French concession bar is big with students, though visitors are also made to feel welcome. Fridays and Saturdays see rock cover bands take to the stage. 183 caojiayan Lu, changing district.

 

  • 18. GLAMOUR BAR;

The sister bar of M on the Bund, Glamour Bar sits a floor below. Popular with expats, this slick space features three distinct bars - dedicated to wine, champagne and cocktails respectively and serves sophisticated snacks (www.glamour.com)

 

  • 19. COTTON CLUB;

Harking back to Shanghai's 1920s heyday, this smoky jazz club attracts both locals and foreigners, with its house band often joined by visiting musicians. It is located in a concession -  era building with its own garden (www.the cotton club .cn)

 

  • 20. SHANGHAI CIRCUS WORLD;

This arena was revamped in 2005 in preparation for the launch of ERA, its daily acrobatic show that features dives, leaps and motorcycle stunts.  The venue is so well - known it even has a metro station named after it. 2266 Gonghe xin Lu, zhabei district.

 

  • 21. CASH BOX PARTY WORLD;

Japanese - style karaoke, or KTV, has been big in China for a couple of decades, and Shanghai is awash with bars offering the chance to belt out your favourite hits. While they vary in quality, cashbox party world is one of the more respectable, and its private karaoke rooms are popular with young locals. 109 Yandang Lu, Luwan district.

 

TOURISM ACTIVITIES IN HONG KONG/ CHINA;  

Hong Kong’s name literary translates as 'fragrant harbor'. It is one of the deepest natural harbors in the world, with the fragrant aspect coming from incense factories lining the water. Initially, this city may overwhelm with its high - rise, glittering towers soaring over the surrounding island waters, but travel with the current and embrace the chaos in order to truly experience Hong Kong. It is a place to delight in.

 

  • 1. ATTRACTIONS: Away from the bustling city are green hide aways in the form of gardens and mountains offering tranquility and peace. Dragon's Back mountain walk, an easy – going hike, enables you to enjoy another side of Hong Kong, while another mid – city green gem is Nan Lian Garden, a large park decorated with traditional buildings, waterfalls and an array of flowers, making it the perfect serene escape.

 

  • 2. BUILDING: There is no doubt, Hong Kong Is the world’s most vertical metropolis, with more than 1,200 structures above 328ft. Building upwards for decades means Hong Kong now has more skyscrapers than New York. The highest building at 1,587ft is the International Commerce Centre, comprising offices and a hotel, and ranking the sixth tallest in the world. The third tallest building, the Central Plaza, is home to the highest church in the world.

 

  • 3. SHOP: Hong Kong’s shopping culture is booming. In Kowloon, you can experience Nathan Road, Shanghai tailors, Asian street labels and the latest technology. Alternatively, absorb the colorful sights and smells of Hong Kong’s best wet market with its narrow streets brimming full of fruit, vegetables, meat and sea food, which refuses to be stamped out by the convenience of supermarkets.

 

  • 4. EAT: From traditional must eats like dim sum to little street food snacks such as egg tarts and pineapple buns, food is big in Hong Kong. Take the worldwide street food advice and look out for queues of locals when opting to try slush drinks, put cahi ko or octopus’ balls. If you are looking to experience authentic food like hotpots and claypots, head to Fai sea food Hotpots.

 

  • 5. BAR: With limited space, buildings go up, as does everything with them. Bars and restaurants are famously on roof tops or high up in luxurious hotels. Ozone Bar, part of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, is the highest bar in the world and views of the city from this location are bound to dazzle. The Aqua Spirit bar is located at the top levels of the one Peking skyscraper, with a panoramic vista over Hong Kong’s harbor.

 

  • 6. VIEW: Come dusk at Victoria peak, the sky melts into pink and orange before rein carnating as a dazzling Galaxy of the light shimmering beneath you. The highest point on Hong Kong Island has been an exclusive neighborhood hangout since colonial time as visitors headed up higher for cooler air. In the post – air - conditioning era, spectacular city scape views keep them coming.

 

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN DALIAN/ CHINA;

  • 1. BANG CHUIDAO SCENIC AREA;

In the east of the Binhai Road, the southwest coastline area is six miles from the center of Dalian city. The area has islets, scenic hills and beaches, and is shaped like the bangchui (an ancient club-shaped washing tool). Continue along the road to find the beautiful Tiger Beach Ocean Park and swallow Nest Mountain, and finish by relaxing in the Fijianzhuang bathing place.

 

  1. ZHONGSHAN SQUARE;

A 700 ft - diameter square with 10 roads radiating from it, the central land mark of the city was designed by the Russians in 1889. Most of the grand architecture dates from the early 20th century and ranges in style from art deco to French Renaissance. There are green zones and paved areas where people gather to dance in the summer. Several classical buildings created by the Japanese authorities in the first half of the century surround the square itself.

 

  • 3. DALIAN NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM;

It is arguably China’s best natural history museum, with fossils, animals and plants originating from the western Liaoning area dominating the display.  The museum itself is built in the czarist Russian style and surrounded by historic buildings.

 

  1. LABOUR PARK;

A giant football in the center of this public park serves as a reminder of the local soccer team being the best in China at the turn of the century. The Lushun Mountain observation tower is also worth a visit as it offers up beautiful panoramic views of the city. The park also features the thrill of amusement rides and the relaxation of tai chi, so is a place where you certainly won’t run out of things to do.

 

  1. DALIAN INTERNATIONAL BEER FESTIVAL;

Held in Xinghai square for 10 days between late July and early August, the festival is a shrine for the true beer lover. The setting itself is unique, the center of the square resembling a star with two white marble cloud pillars and lamps every 20 meters positioned in the shape of a navigation light. The festival is certainly a novel way to enjoy the wide variety of beer that is available.

 

  1. NOAH'S ARK BAR;

Frequented by local musicians and expats alike, this bar has a laid - back atmosphere where you can enjoy a relaxing drink and live music in the summer, when the front patio is open. The decor is ecletic, with dark wood, candles and booths. A visit here will offer you the perfect relaxing place to unwind after a very busy day in the city.

  1. NIGHT MARKET;

An outdoor market that is also open during the evenings, this is a great spot to enjoy beer and barbecued seafood   in the evening sun. Beginning at the train station and ending at the home inn off Tianjin Jie, the market gives visitors a real slice of local life. In the smaller version of the market, by samba square, there are also fruit stands and more traditional food produce on offer to try.

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CHONGQING/ CHINA;

  

  • 1. THREE GORGES MUSEUM;

China's largest monographic museum includes a permanent exhibition on the Gorges, including a model of the dam, as well as information on southwest China’s minority cultures, Chongqing and the Anti - Japanese war.

 

  • 2. PIPA SHAN PARK/LOQUAT HILL;

A walk up 1,160 ft pipa shan mountain offers spectacular views of Chongqing, especially at night. Legend has it a girl, living at the foot of the mountain, fell in love with a Yangtze River boy, but was forbidden from marrying him as he was too poor. Every night, she climbed the mountain to play the lute in sorrow, until she died   of depression. Hence the mountain being dubbed 'Lute mountain'

 

  • 3. RIVER CRUISES FROM CHAOTIAN MEN DOCK;

Two - hour cruises leave the dock nightly from 7 pm, but arrange tickets on board to save yourself any extra cost.

 

  • 4. CHONGQING RIVER CABLE CARS;

Two routes cross the River Yangzi, China’s largest, and the River Jialing.  Both are within walking distance of the Liberation Monument and offer a bird’s - eye view of the city skyline and its murky waters. The Yangzi ride leaves you in the riverside bar and restaurant district, Nan'an Binjiang LU; the Jialing ride drops passengers off at the Chongqing Grand Theatre and the science museum.

 

  • 5. HUGUANG GUILD HALL;

Built by immigrants from the Hu and Guang provinces (hence the name), this museum complex served as their community headquarters. Recently renovated to reveal the classical Chinese architecture, Guild Hall offers a peak into Chongqing's rich culture and history. The temple, teahouse and garden are worth exploring. There are also several stages, with free performances of Yueju (Zhejiang opera) and Jingju (Beijing opera) every Thursday and Saturday, usually between 3pm and 6pm.

 

  1. SOUTHERN HOT SPRINGS PARK;

Just 11 miles outside Chongqing, southern Hot - spring park was built in 1927 and contains 110 bathrooms and three swimming pools. The mineral spring waters are believed to have healing properties. The springs are surrounded by forests, waterfalls and caves with stalactites and stalagmites.

 

TOURISM ACTIVITIES IN LHASA/ CHINA;

Both magical and mesmerizing, TIBET is a land that delights in its image of Buddhist mystique. Make LHASA - at 11,450 ft one of the highest cities in the world -  your gateway to this remote Chinese region and immerse yourself in an ancient culture that goes back more than 1,000 years. You can take the train from Xining or Chendu for a once - in - a lifetime experience - the journey is certainly as important as the destination.

 

  • 1. ATTRACTION;

The ancient spiritual traditions of TIBET are world - renowned and no trip would be complete without visiting the eighth - century samye monastery, the first Buddhist monastery to be built in TIBET and still a popular pilgrimage site today, with TIBETAN BUDDHISTS traveling for weeks to reach. Its sacred Mandala design symbolizes the mythical Mount Meru.  It's open daily from 8.00am -  5.30pm.

 

  • 2. BUILDING;

Regarded as the most sacred temple in TIBET, Jokhang Temple was built around AD 642 and as part of the Potala Palace is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is also the ultimate destination for pilgrims. Covering about six acres, the four - storey timber complex has a lavish golden top echoing the architectural styles of the Tang Dy nasty, as well as those of TIBET and NEPAL.

 

  • 3. SHOP;

The Chinese government is cementing TIBET's appeal as a tourist destination with all mod cons, including the construction of a 150,000 square meter shopping mall with an underground parking lot in the heart of the ancient city. Until then, shop at Lhasa department store, Tibet sai kang tour go shopping centre and shihuaqiao friendship mall.

 

  • 4. EAT;

With Chinese, Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan influences, as well as western - style offerings, standards are pretty good.  The new Mandala restaurant, a modest affair in Barkhor square, offers roof top dining, tasty curries and helpful staff. Snowland restaurant is the place to go for its renowned yet inexpensive yak steak dinner. Chocolate lovers will find sweet treats at Bread talk.

 

  • 5. BAR;

The fledgling bar scene in Lhasa is music and art oriented. Gang La mie duo show cases Tibetan art, good food and wines. Also in Barkhor street is the 150 - year - old former family home of the 11th Dalai Lama, the cosy Low House Music Bar, where log - themed decor and Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan traditional music are the order of the day. Young hipsters gather in Gauer cafe drink, a gallery - bar, to drink, smoke, listen to music, chat and paint - the butter tea and Tibetan chang are free.

 

  • 6. VIEW;

You will have to climb 1,080 steps to get to the entrance of Potala palace, the highest ancient palace in the world at 12,359 ft. You will need to pace yourself given the altitude, but at the summit you will be rewarded with stunning views over the city, and a once - in - a - lifetime chance to see the interior of what was once the current Dalai Lama's residence.

COLOMBIA

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital; Bogota.
  • Main cities; Medellin, Cali; Barranquilla, Cartagena.
  • Populations; 47,704,427 (As per the year 2012 estimates).
  • Currency; Colombian peso=100 centavos. All major credit cards accepted. Exchange rate (approximate COL$1,884=$1). Tipping (10% is acceptable).
  • Time; GMT - 5
  • Electricity; 110 volts. No adaptor required.
  • Driving; On the right. International driving licence required.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1,12; March 23; April 2,3,5; May 1, 18; June 8, 15, 29; July 20; August 7, 17; October 12, 23; November 2, 16; December 8, 25.
  • Language; Spanish.
  • Religion; Roman Catholic (Majority); Evangelical Christian and protestant christian.
  • Country Dial Code; +57
  • Getting there; (Major gateway, including Bogota El Dorado ((BOG). Typical flying time from Miami is 3.5 hours, while from UK is 12 hours.
  • Transfers; Bogota (& miles/12km) taxi 35 minutes.
  • Departure Tax; US $35
  • Ports; Cartagena, Santa Marta, Barran quilla, Tumaco, Buenaventura.
  • Visa requirements; It is essential and required.
  • Health requirements; Precautions against hepatitis A, polio and typhoid are recommended and for tourists visiting jungle regions, vaccination against yellow fever and tetanus.
  • Climate; The climate varies vastly between different varies vastly between different regions of the country, with conditions on the coast tropical. Rainy seasons are April - June and October - November.

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN COLOMBIA IN DETAILS;  

  • 1. ISLAS ROSARIOS;

One hour from Cartagena, these 43 coral - ringed, palm - studded islands cover 50 acres, forming one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.

 

  • 2. ZONA CAFETERA;

The country's coffee - growing region lies in the shadow of snow -  topped Andean peaks. Valle Del cocora national park, near salento is popular for fishing, hiking and horse riding.

 

  • 3. CARTAGENA DE INDIAS;

This Caribbean Seaport was once a major conduit for gold export to Spain. The walled old city -  a UNESCO world heritage site -  is best explored by horse - drawn carriage, while the Naval Museum makes for a fascinating visit.

 

  • 4. LA CIUDAD PERDIDA;

The lost city in the Sierra Nevada was closed for years due to civil war - its 169 terraces cut into the jungle slopes are now safely open to the public again.

 

  • 5. SALT CATHEDRAL;

Zipaquira's picturesque Spanish colonial city center is well worth a visit, but its main claim to fame is its cathedral, built inside the local salt mines, some 650 ft underground.

 

  • 6. MUSEO DEL ORO;

The Gold museum in Bogota houses the world's largest collection of pre - Hispanic gold work, along with some 50,000 items of pottery, stone art facts, and wood and textile relics of the ancient civilizations of the region.

COOK ISLANDS

FAST FACTS; 

  • Capital; Avarua.
  • Population; 23,400 (As per the year 2014 estimates).
  • Currency; New Zealand dollar (NZ$), supplemented by notes and coins minted for local use. Major credit cards are accepted. Exchange rate approximate (NZ$1.15=$1). Tipping (not customary).
  • Time; GMT - 10.5 hours
  • Electricity; 240 volts. Adaptor required.
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the left. Drivers must have a Cook Islands driver’s licence, obtained from Avarua police station for NZ $20 on presentation of your licence.
  • Public Holidays; Include Jan 1; April 3, 6, 25; June 1; August 4; October25; December 25, 26.
  • Language; Cook Islands Maori. English widely spoken.
  • Religion; Mainly Christian
  • Country dial code; +682
  • Getting there; (Major gateway, including Rarotonga (RAR). Air Rarotonga operates regular services to the southern group islands; services to northern group islands are less frequent. Typical flying time from UK is 22 hours
  • Departure Tax; Included in airfare.
  • Getting Around; Domestic air services to the southern group islands; less frequently to the northern group islands.
  • Visa requirements; Visa is essential and required.
  • Health requirements; Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio are recommended.
  • Climate; The cooler months are June to August; the warmer season is November to March, when you can expect occasional tropical showers. The drier months are April to November; between December and March, conditions are generally damper and more humid.
COSTA RICA

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital; San Jose
  • Main cities; Cartago; Alajuela, Heredia, Puntarenas, Limon, Liberia.
  • Populations; 4,695,942 (As per the year 2013 estimates).
  • Currency; Costa Rican colon (CRC)=100 Centimos. Major credit cards accepted. Avoid street money changers. Exchange rate approximate (CRC 551=$1). Tipping (Tips are expected. Tip hotel porters and housekeeping $ 0.50 - $1. Tip tour guides $.1 -  $ 5. Tip 10% in restaurants.
  • Time; GMT - 6
  • Electricity; 110/220 volts. Adaptor required
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the right. International driving permit is required.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1; April 5, 11; May 1; July 25; August 2, 15; September 15; October 12; December 25.
  • Language; Spanish.
  • Religion; Catholic
  • Country Dial Code; +506.
  • Getting there; (Major gateways, including San Jose (SJO), Liberia (LIR). Typical flying from UK is 12 hours, while from Miami, 3 hours.
  • Transfers; San Jose (11 miles/17km). Coach 20 minutes; bus 20 minutes; taxi 15 minutes.
  • Departure Tax; $ 26
  • Ports; Puerto Limon, Puntarenas.
  • Visa requirements; You must present both a valid passport and either a round - trip ticket or proof of onward travel to another country.
  • Health requirements; Precautions against typhoid, hepatitis A and polio advised. Seek medical advice regarding precautions against cholera and dengue fever. There is a risk of malaria in rural areas.
  • Getting Around; There are domestic flights, but reservations cannot be made outside Costa Rica. Car hire is available in the capital San Jose and road standards across the country are good.
  • Climate; Costa Rica’s climate is warm - year round in the central valley, with temperatures averaging 22C. Conditions are hotter in coastal areas, with little temperature variation between seasons. The rainy season in Costa Rica is from May to November; the dry season is from December to May.
  • Accommodation; There is an excellent range of hotels, most at reasonable prices. Costa Rica is known for eco - tourism and wilder ness lodges are found throughout the country.

 

What to eat and drink;

Rice and beans play a large role in Costa Rican cuisine. Popular dishes are gallo pinto (rice with beans), sopa negra (black beans with a poached egg), piccadillo (meat and vegetable stew) and casado (beef, beans, rice, plantain, salad and cabbage).  Snacks are sold at street stalls and include filled tortillas called gallos. The wide variety of restaurants in Costa Rica ranges from French to Chinese. Rum is the drink of choice for locals; Cafe Rica is caffeine - based option.

 

What to buy;

Handicrafts, leather goods, wooden sculptures, jewelry, pottery, coffee.

 

Safety and security;

Special care should be taken when swimming from beaches, particularly those on Costa Rica's Atlantic coast, as riptides are common. Visitors to the country should avoid street money changers. Travelers visiting jungle areas are advised to be accompanied by an experienced local guide. Drug trafficking is dealt with severely.

 

Major Events;

  • 1. Puntarenas carnival (February)
  • 2. Day of the virgin of the seas (July)
  • 3. Independence Day (September)
  • 4. Limon carnival (October)
  • 5. Expo Perez Zelendoni (February)
  • 6. International Festival of the Arts, San Jose (March)
  • 7. Dia del Boyero, Escazu (March)
  • 8. Semena Santa (March/April)
  • 9. Fiesta civica,  canas (May)
  • 10. Chorotega Tourist Fair, Nicoyal (July)
  • 11. San Jose carnival (December);

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN COSTA RICA;

  • 1. Corcovado national park
  • 2. Nicoya peninsula
  • 3. Jaco and the central pacific coast
  • 4. Arenal and volcanic peaks
  • 5. Guanacaste UNESCO world heritage site
  • 6. The coastal waterways of Tortuguero
  • 7. Rincon de la vieja national park
  • 8. The Rio sarapiqui Region
  • 9. Tabacon hot springs
  • 10. Monteverde Biological Cloud Forest Reserve
  • 11. Tortuguero village
  • 12. Osa peninsula
  • 13. Chirripo national park
  • 14. San Jose’s main museums and cultural attractions
  • 15. Adventure tours; rafting, canopy tours, fishing, mountain biking
  • 16. Provincial capitals of Alajuela, Heredia and Cartago
  • 17. Hot springs;

 

TOP ACTIVITIES;

  • 1. Hiking and Horse riding
  • 2. White water rafting
  • 3. Kayaking
  • 4. Golf
  • 5. Diving
  • 6. Bird watching
  • 7. See the egg laying sea turtles
  • 8. Surfing
  • 9. Scuba diving
  • 10. Sport fishing
  • 11. Canopy tours, where you are hoisted up to a platform in a tree and then sent flying to another tree via a secure zip line.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQUE)

  1. Where is Costa Rica?

Answer; Costa Rica straddles the Central American isthumus between the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The country is bordered by Nicaragua and Panama.

 

  1. What is the capital of Costa Rica?

Answer; The capital is San Jose, at an altitude of 3,757 ft.  The city has a population of over 309,672.

 

  1. Is Costa Rica volcanic in origin?

Answer; Yes.  There are a number of volcanic peaks in the central, Tilaran and Guanacaste mountain ranges that form the spine of the nation between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. There are half a dozen active volcanoes including Arenal, which is one of Central America's most active. The less dramatic activity at the Rincon de la vieja and Tenorio national parks creates mudbaths.

 

  1. What is the highest point of Costa Rica?

Answer; Chirripo, at 12, 533 ft, is Costa Rica's highest mountain.

 

  1. What is the difference between the rainforest and the cloud forest?

Answer; The main difference is it rains less in the cloud forest than in the rain forest. The species of flora and fauna also differ from one to the other.

 

  • 6. Is the water drinkable in Costa Rica?

Answer:  The water is drinkable in most areas of the country. However, it is recommended to use bottled water, especially in areas around the coast.

  • 7. Is there a train service in Costa Rica?

Answer: There is a train tour that goes from San Jose to Caldera. For information and reservations, please call T: 005062333300 or T: 005062210777; the company needs a minimum number of Passengers to operate the service.

  • 8. What is the currency in Costa Rica?

Answer: The Costa Rican currency is the colon. US dollars are widely accepted, but for small restaurants, shops and transportation it is better to pay in Colones.

  • 9. Are credit cards accepted in Costa Rica?

Answer: All major credit cards are widely accepted. There are ATM machines throughout the country.

  • 10. What is the ethnic composition of Costa Rica?

Answer: Around 87% of the population is of European descent. In addition to the majority Mestizo demographic, there are several colonial and national immigrant ethnicities that have restored their unique cultural heritage, such as African descendants, Chinese, Hebrew – speaking people, Lebanese and Italians, as well as the native people of Bribri, Cabecar, Maleku, Teribe, Boruca, Ngobe, Huetar and Chorotega.

  • 11. What should I bring when going to the rainforest?

Answer:  All you need is insect repellent, a raincoat with a hood, hiking boots and a torch. Start a course of malaria immunisation before you head for the forest.

  • 12. Are there domestic airlines that travel within the country?

Answer:  You can contact Sansa Regional on T: 0050622904100 (www.flysansa.com) or Nature Air on T: 0050622996000 (www.natureair.net).

  • 13. Are there English language newspapers?

Answer: The Tico Times (T; 0050622581558 www.ticotimes.net), which was founded in 1956, is one such publication.

  • 14. Where can I go whitewater rafting in Costa Rica?

Answer:  Among the locations where whitewater rafting is available are Pacuare, Reventazon, Corobici, Sarapiqui, Naranjo and Savegre.

  • 15. When is carnival celebrated in Costa Rica?

Answer:  Limon carnivals are celebrated in October, while Puntarenas holds them in late February and early March.

  • 16. Where can I see turtles laying eggs?

Answer: Tortuguero national park in the Caribbean or Las Baulas National Park by the pacific.

CROATIA

FAST FACTS:

  • Capital: Zagreb.
  • Main cities: Split, Rijeka, Pula, Dubrovnik and Osijek.
  • Populations: 4,483,804. (As per the year 2011 estimates).
  • Currency: Kuna (Kn) = 100 lipas. All major credit cards accepted. Sterling easily exchangeable; cash machines in most major resorts. Exchange rate (approximates Kn 5.57= $1. Tipping (10% is expected in hotels, restaurants and taxis).
  • Time: GMT +1
  • Electricity: 220 volts. Adaptor required.
  • Driving: Traffic drives on the right.
  • Public Holidays: Include January 1, 6; April 5; May 1; June 4, 22, 25; August 5; October 8; November 1; December 25.
  • Language: Croatian. English is widely spoken throughout the country.
  • Religion: Mainly Catholic.
  • Country Dial Code: +385
  • Getting there: (Major gateways, including Zagreb (ZAG), Pula (PUY), Zadar (ZAD), Rijeka (RJK), Split (SPU), Dubrovnik (DBV). Typical flying time from UK is 2 hours, while from New York, 10 hours via Frankfurt.
  • Transfers: Zagreb (10 miles/16 km) airport bus 25 minutes; taxi 20 minutes. Dubrovnik (13 miles/ 22 km) airport bus, 20 minutes.
  • Ports: Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Sibenik, Split, Korcula, Dubrovnik, Mali Losinj, Bakar, MetKovic, Rasa, Senj, Rijeka Bakar.
  • Getting Around: Public transport is subsidized and very reasonably priced, with a good train network in the north and buses throughout the country. Frequent ferries operate along the Adriatic coast and to the islands. Zagreb has a tram system, while taxis are metered. Most cities have local bus services.
  • Visa requirements: Visa is essential and needed. On entering, you may be asked to provide proof of sufficient funds and onward travel.
  • Health requirements: None; Foreign visitors to Croatia will be entitled to health, care using the EHIC card on the basis of equal treatment with the nationals of Croatia.
  • Climate: Croatia has three climate zones. The prevailing one in the country’s interior is moderately rainy; the highest peaks have a forest climate with snowfalls; and the areas along the Adriatic coast have a pleasantly mild Mediterranean feel with a large number of sunny days - summers are dry and hot, with winters mild and wet.
  • Accommodation: Hotels in Croatia have been refurbished and upgraded to qualify for internationally recognized star ratings, offering five – star luxury accommodation along with quality three - and four – star hotels. Self – catering along the Adriatic coast and islands is in a mix of family – run pensions and apartments.
  • What to eat and drink.

Zagreb and northern inland cuisine reflects Austrian and Hungarian influences, with hearty meat dishes – spit – roast lamb, pork and duck; goulash; meatballs; paprika – flavored sausages. There is a variety of local beers, good quality wines and spirits, including plum, grape and herbal brandies.

  • What to buy: Lace, silk – embroidered fabrics, hand – carved items in lustrous Brac island stone, ceramics, neckties and jewelry.
  • Major Events:
  • 1. Kvarner Riverine carnival, Rijeka (February)
  • 2. International children’s Festival, sibenik (July)
  • 3. Cest is d’Best, Zagreb (July)
  • 4. Dalmatian Harmony singing Festival, Omis (July)
  • 5. Dubrovnik summer Festival (July / August)
  • 6. The split summer, split (July / August)
  • 7. The Alka of sinj, sinj (July – September)
  • 8. Spancir fest street Festival, Varazdin (August / September).
  • 9. Varazdin Baroque Music Festival (September)
  • 10. World Theatre Festival, Zagreb (September)
  • 11. Days of Truffles in Istria, Livade (October – November).
  • 12. Snow Queen Trophy, Zagreb (January)
  • 13. Festival of St Blaise (February)
  • 14. The Festival of Flowers, Split (May)
  • 15. Echo Festival, Umag (June)
  • 16. Hideout Music Festival, Tisno (July)
  • 17. The Fjera of Rab, medieval festivities (July)
  • 18. Sea splash Music Festival, Pula (July)
  • 19. International Folklore Festival, Zagreb (July)
  • 20. Pula Film Festival (July) and Motovun Film Festival (July)
  • 21. Sonus Festival, Novalja (August).
  • 22. Night of the Full Moon, Zadar (August)
  • 23. Outlook Music Festival, Pula (September)
  • 24. Zagreb International Chamber Music Festival (October)
  • 25. Cravat Day (October)
  • 26. Unknown Festival (September)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CROATIA;

  • 1. Plitvice Lakes National park
  • 2. Kornati Islands National Park
  • 3. Paklenica National Park
  • 4. Dubrovnik’s Old Town
  • 5. Dubrovnik city walls
  • 6. Walls of Ston, Maliston
  • 7. Diocletian’s Palace, Split
  • 8. St. James Cathedral, Sibenik
  • 9. Trogir
  • 10. Basilica Euphrasiana, Porec
  • 11. Zagreb
  • 12. The Dalmatian coast
  • 13. Rijeka
  • 14. Opatija
  • 15. Korcula
  • 16. Hvar Town
  • 17. Pula and Rovinj, Istria
  • 18. Party Islands Pag and Hvar
  • Safety and Security;

Visitors planning to travel outside the normal tourist resorts should be aware there are areas of the country affected by the war, which ended in 1995, with un exploded nimes, Areas suspected to contain landmines are marked with more than 15,000 warning signs.

  • 1. OSIJEK – CROATIA (www.tzosijek.hr)
  • Populations: 83,496 (As per the year 2011 estimates)
  • Time: GMT + 1
  • Language: Croatian
  • Getting there: (Osijek – Klisa International AirPort) (OSI)
  • TOUR DESTINATIONS IN OSIJEK;
  • 1. Baroque Tvrda (The oldest part of the Town)
  • 2. Holy Trinity Square
  • 3. Plague column (a baroque composition in the form of a votive post)
  • 4. Concathedral of St Peter and St Paul (neo – gothic building in the town centre)
  • 5. Museum of Slavonia
  • 6. Archaeological museum
  • 7. Parks and Public Gardens
  • 8. Suspension bridge over the River Drava
  • 9. Exhibition of sealife.
  • Major Events in Osijek:
  • 1. KAOS –Osijek Carnival (February)
  • 2. 6th international Gala Jazz Festival (February)
  • 3. UFO (Urban Fest Osijek music festival) (June)
  • 4. Osijek summer of culture (June / July)
  • 5. Osijek Summer Nights (last weekend of June, July and August).
  • 6. Pannonian challenge (International exteme sports event - August)
  • 7. Land without Borders (Children’s festival – September)
  • 8. 6th international Gala Blues Festival - (December)
  • What to buy in Osijek?

White wines, rakije (traditional spirits), and handmade traditional souvenirs

  • What to eat and drink in Osijek:

Osijek specialities include fisherman’s soup (stew) and a wide range of other fish dishes, shepherd’s stew, meals made from game, sarma (cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat and rice) and other Slavonian meals prepared according to original recipes. Popular desserts include cheese pie, vanilla crescent and pancakes. Osijek also has a wide choice of famous Slavonian and Baranya wines and spirits.

  • Accommodation:

Osijek has three major hotels; the Osijek, Waldinger and Zoo. Others include the beautifully decorated mursa, central silver, Drava, Vila Ariston and Millenium hotels. There is also private accommodation and a hostel called Tufna.

  1. ISTRIA – CROATIA (www.istra.hr)
  • Populations: 208,000 (As per the year 2011 estimates.
  • Main cities: Pula, Porec, Rovinj.
  • Time: GMT +1
  • Language: Croatian. English is widely spoken, also Italian and German.
  • Getting there: (Major gateway, including Pula (PUY)
  • Transfers: Pula (3 miles/ 5km) bus 15 minutes; taxi 10 minutes.
  • Accommodation in Istria: Istria has around 100 hotels up to five – star level and more than 20 tourist villages with self – catering apartments and villas. There are 25,000 tourist beds in private accommodation and farm houses, and around 40 campsites along the coast.
  • MAJOR EVENTS IN ISTRIA;
  • 1. Pula summer – concerts, Opera, ballet, film festival in the amphitheatre (June – September)
  • 2. Classical music concerts in the Euphrasian basilica, Porec (June – September)
  • 3. Croatia open Tennis Tournament, Umag (July)
  • 4. Labinske Konti, traditional folklore, Labin (end July)
  • 5. Rovinian night, traditional event, Rovinj (Mid – August)
  • 6. Tilting at the Ring, Barban (Mid – August)
  • TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ISTRIA;
  • 1. Pula (Roman amphitheatre from the first century BC, triumphal arch and Temple of Rome and Augustus.
  • 2. Porec (Euphrasian basilica with magnificent mosaics included on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • 3. Porec (Cave Baredine, leading to underground lakes)
  • 4. Brijuni island (National Park outside Pula)
  • 5. Rovinj (Beautiful seaside town with numerous islets)
  • 6. Motovun (A medieval hill top village found in the interior of the country)
  • 7. Hum (The smallest town in the world)
  • 8. Vrsar (The largest naturist centre in Europe – Koversada);
  • What to eat and drink in Istria: Air – dried, home cured Istrian prosciutto ham with sheep’s cheese, olives and homemade bread; Pasta with truffles; manestras bobici, a thick vegetable soup with potatoes, beans, corns and prosciutto bone. From the sea come scorpion fish, gilthead, spider crabs and oysters. Local wines include Malvasia and Teran.
  • What to buy: Wood and stone souvenirs, as well as truffles and wine.
  1. ZAGREB – CROATIA (www.zagreb-touristinfo.hr)

The city of Zagreb is the capital and the largest city in the Republic of Croatia.

  • Populations: 792,875 (As per the year 2011 estimates)
  • Time: GMT +1
  • Language: Croatian. English is widely spoken, along with Italian and German.
  • Getting there: (Major gateways, including Zagreb Airport (ZAG), Zagreb main railway station, and Zagreb main bus station.
  • TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ZAGREB;
  • 1. Zagreb Cathedral and Archbishop’s palace complex.
  • 2. St Mark’s Church
  • 3. Lotrscak Tower
  • 4. Dolac Market
  • 5. Zrinjevac Park
  • 6. Maksimir Park
  • 7. Arcades of Mirogoj Cemetery
  • 8. Croatian National Theatre
  • 9. Medvedgrad
  • 10. Museum Mimara
  • 11. Stross mayer Gallery of old masters
  • 12. Museum of Arts and Crafts
  • 13. Tig Josip Jelacica
  • 14. Stone Gate
  • 15. Jarun Lake
  • 16. Mestrovic Atelier
  • 17. Branski Dvori
  • 18. Archaeological Museum
  • 19. Jesuit Church of St Catherine
  • 20. Museum of Broken Relationships
  • 21. City Museum
  • 22. Croatian Artists' centre
  • 23. Museum of contemporary Art
  • 24. Mirogoj
  • 25. Galerija KLOVICEVI DVORI
  • 26. Ethnographic Museum
  • 27. Lauba
  • 28. Croatian Museum of Naive Art.
  • MAJOR EVENTS IN ZAGREB;
  • 1. Audi FIS World cup – VIP snow Queen Trophy (January)
  • 2. Zagreb Time Machine (April – September)
  • 3. Cest is d’Best international street festival (June)
  • 4. ZgKul – Zagreb cultural summer (June – August)
  • 5. IAAF world challenge Zagreb – Boris Hanzekovic Memorial (September)
  • 6. Advent in Zagreb (December);

 

 

  • What to buy in Zagreb: Souvenirs made of wood and stone are popular with tourists.
  • What to eat and drink in Zagreb: There are many restaurants, inns and cafes in Zagreb. The city’s restaurants are renowned for their high quality cuisine, largely consisting of mediterranean and continental dishes, but also international specialities (There are a large number of European national restaurants). Excellent wines from Zagreb and other Croatian regions will make a delicious meal complete.
  • Accommodation in Zagreb: There are more than 6,000 beds in hotels, some of them belonging to world – famous hotel chains. The number of small and family – owned hotels and hostels is increasing.
  1. SUPETAR – CROATIA (www.supetar.hr)
  • Populations: 3,800 (As per the year 2011 estimates)
  • Time: GMT +1
  • Language: Croatian.  English is widely spoken
  • Religion: Catholic.
  • Getting there: (Major gateways, including Zagreb (ZAG), Split (SPU),  Island of Brac Airport (www.airport -_brac.hr), Split - harbour (Split - supetar ferry -  www.jadrolinjia.hr). Typical flying time from UK varies according to season.
  • TOUR DESTINATIONS IN SUPETAR:
  • 1. Mausoleum of petrinovic family in supetar. The Byzantine oriental mausoleum is made of Bracstone, a master piece of Toma Rosandic
  • 2. Ivan Rendic Gallery in Supetar contains leading works from the locally born father of modern Croatian sculpture.
  • 3. Olive production museum and olive routes in MIRCA, showing the tradition of olive production of the Island of Brac.
  • 4. Supetar cemetery, which contains several tombstones created by sculptor Ivan Rendic
  • 5. Roman stone quarries in splitska; an amazing site where the stone for Diocletian’s palace in split was produced, with statue of Heracles.
  • 6. Hermitage of Blaca; home of the Glagolic order built on a high, steep cliff and dating from the 16th century. Croatian candidate for the UNESCO world Heritage list.
  • 7. The Dragon's cave, near the village of Murvica; fascinating cave monastery dating from the 12th century, which features several extraordinary reliefs.
  • 8. Vidova Gora, the highest peak on the Croatian Adriatic, features an amazing view over the archipelago of the central Dalmatian Islands.
  • 9. The Island Museum in SKRIP; interesting ethnographical collection relating to the island's agriculture, cattle breeding, stone masonry, and history of revolution.
  • 10. Pucisca; stone quarries of the World famous Brac white marble and the only existing stone – crafting school in Croatia.
  • MAJOR EVENTS IN SUPETAR;
  • 1. Festival of local seasonal cuisine, Supetar (May)
  • 2. Summer festival of art, music, theatre, folk music and dancing, Supetar (June)
  • 3. Supetar super Film Festival; European documentary films and music (Mid – July)
  • 4. Svpetrvs Festival; World music, film and ballet (July)
  • 5. Vanka Regule, Sutivan, extreme sports (July)
  • 6. Summer carnival, Supetar (last weekend in July)
  • 7. Voi’sa music festival, Supetar (Mid – August)
  • 8. Island Lifestyle Festival, Supetar; Culture/Music (Mid – September)
  • 9. Festival of Varenik, Supetar; gastronomy (October)
  • 10. Dragging of Mrduja islet, Milna; Nautical/ culture (early August)
  • What to buy in Supetar:
  • 1. Hand – made marble souvenirs
  • 2. Home – made liqueurs (travarica, orahovica)
  • 3. Bracki melem; ecological cream made with local honey and propolis.
  • 4. Varenik; the oldest known food supplement in Mediterranean cuisine.
  • 5. Virgin olive oil.
  • What to eat and drink in Supetar;
  • 1. Daily fresh seafood – fish, crabs and shellfish.
  • 2. Island cheese, with its special salty flavour.
  1. 5. HVAR – CROATIA (tzhvar.hr)
  • Populations; 4,239 (As per the year 2010 estimates)
  • Time: GMT +1
  • Language: Croatian. English is widely spoken, also Italian and German.
  • Getting there: (Major gateway, including Split Airport (SPU)
  • Transfers: Split Harbour (15 miles/ 20 km) bus 30 minutes; Split Harbour to Hvar (23.3 miles / 43.1 km) speed boat 55 minutes.
  • Accommodation: Hvar has 13 hotels of three and four - star standard. There are 5,500 tourist beds in private rooms and apartments and two campsites in the area.
  • MAJOR EVENTS IN HVAR;
  • 1. Hvar summer Festival (Concerts, theatre plays (May – October)
  • 2. Lavender Festival. Velo Grablje (end of June)
  • 3. Saint prosper’s Festival (mid – May)
  • 4. International Half Marathon (end – August)
  • 5. Saint Stephen’s Day (October)
  • 6. International New Year Regatta (December)
  • TOUR DESTINATIONS IN HVAR;
  • 1. Bishop’s Treasury
  • 2. Malo Grablje, a picturesque abandoned village.
  • 3. Fortica, a fortress above the town.
  • 4. 13th – century arsenal
  • 5. Red Rocks, a natural landmark near the town of Hvar
  • 6. Pakleni Islands, which lie just off Hvar’s coastline
  • 7. Hvar Historical Theatre, the oldest public threatre in Europe –it turned 400 in 2012
  • 8. St Stephen’s cathedral
  • 9. Franciscan monastery, with its 26 ft – long painting of the last supper and 500 – year – old cypress trees.
  • 10. The Benedictine monastery’s lace - making tradition is protected by UNESCO on its intangible cultural Heritage list.
  • What to eat and drink in Hvar: Traditional Hvar gregada (Fish bouilla baisse), Dalmatian pasticada, which is a rich, stewed beef dish cooked in special sauce with gnocchi; black risotto (made with cuttlefish); and mixed grilled fish are all established traditional favourites, while popular desserts include forski Koloc and paprenjok. Local wines on the menu include Plavac Mali, Bogdanusa and Posip.
  • What to buy: Typical Hvar souvenirs include lavender products; agave lace, traditionally created by Benedictine nuns; Olive products; wine; and also jewellery.

MAIN CITIES IN CROATIA IN DETAILS;

  • 1. ZAGREB:

The lower town, or Donji Grad, forms the center of Croatia’s capital, a grateful grid of wide boulevards and well - preserved Austro – Habsburg architecture, sprinkled with green spaces and cultural attractions. Highlights include the Mimara Museum, displaying works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Van Dyck and Turner; the unmistakable yellow art nouveau Art Pavilion; and the Botanical Gardens. In the upper Town, or Gornji Grad, you will find Gradec, the oldest part of the city, awash with cobbled, pretty streets and cultural attractions, with much of its medieval character still intact. Don’t miss St. Mark’s church, Zagreb’s distinctive fair lytale – like house of worship; Mestrovic Atelier, a museum dedicated to Croatia’s most famous sculptor; and the Archaelogical Museum of Zagreb, with more than 400,000 items. Separating the upper and lower towns of Zagreb is the hilly Kaptol district and the city’s lively public square, Trg Ban Josip Jelacica.

 

 

 

  • 2. DUBROVNIK:

Lord Byron hailed it as the “pearl of the Adriatic” and George Bernard Shaw went even further, eulogising that the Mediterranean city was quite simply “paradise on earth”. The hype is more than justified, with croatia’s shining coastal star perfectly preserved within its sturdy old walls, a pedestrianised oasis spectacularly framed by rugged limestone cliffs and the sparkling Adriatic Sea. The old Town hides within hulking walls and fortresses, a seemingly impregnable prize that only adds to its mystique. Inside is an entire city – state alive with a cocktail of baroque churches and palaces. There is also a trio of monasteries to explore, a remarkable cathedral and other ecclesiastical buildings revealing the city’s eclectic roots, as well as a sprinkling of museums and galleries. It is no museum piece, though, as Dubrovnik’s old Town is alive with cafes and bustling restaurants.

  • 3. PULA;

The largest city in the northern county of Istria. Pula clings to the tip of the Istrian Peninsula surrounded by seven towering hills. Pula is known for its mild climate, calm seas and unspoilt nature, making it the ideal choice for families. The city has a long tradition of wine making, fishing and shipbuilding, displaying a powerful Italian influence from neighboring Venice. Given its links with the Roman Empire, the town is packed with all the Imperial trimmings; temples, arches and a Roman amphitheater.

  • 4. OSIJEK;

Osijek is an inland city on the banks of the Drava River, close to the Serbian border. Extremely popular with domestic holidaymakers, Croatia’s fourth largest city is packed with cultural and sporting events, including the Osijek summer Nights in June, July and August – a series of open – air events, accompanied by food and fairs. The must – see sights include the main square, Trg Ante starcevica, Tvrda, the 18th - century baroque citadel; the promenade by the Drava River; and the pedestrian suspension bridge.

TOUR DESTINATIONS – THE ISLANDS;

  • 1. HVAR:

With its focus the Venetian – era Hvar Town, Croatia’s most fashionable island warrants exploring beyond the capital’s 16th – century fortifications. Leave the design hotels and cocktail bars behind to hike or mountain bike through a rugged landscape of lavender fields and hillside vineyards. Or take a sea – Kayaking trip round the Pakleni islets.

  • 2. BRAC:

On Brac’s south coast, Zlatni Rat is the country’s most photographed beach and top wind surfing spot. The nearby fishing village of Bol remains a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Besides wind surfing, Zlatni Rat offers scuba diving, sea Kayaking, parasailing, water – skiing, jet – skiing and wake boarding. For the uninitiated, pedal boats provide a taster.

  • 3. RAB:

The birth of nudism in Croatia goes back to summer 1936, when Rab’s local authorities granted Britain’s King Edward VIII and his American lover Wallis Simpson permission to swim naked at Kandarola beach. Rab Town is a huddle of medieval stone buildings, grouped on a fortified Peninsula, lined with four Romanesque Church bell – towers. On Rab’s northern tip, Lopar peninsula hosts some of Croatia’s best sand beaches.

  • 4. PAG:

Long renowned for its Paski sir (Pag cheese), made from sheep’s milk, Pag is a top spot for summer beach clubs, focused on Zrce beach, near Novalja. Long summer days’ end with after – beach parties at Kalypso, Papaya and Aquarius, which are transformed into fully fledged dance clubs after dark, hosting international DJs.

  • 5. VIS:

The Island, a former naval base, was invaded by yachties the moment the last submarine left in 1989. It is now a popular summer hideaway, with informal taverns serving Dalmatian seafood dishes. Don’t miss the organic wines, such as the white Vugava and red Mali Plavac, and rogacica, a potent tipple that is made from the carob that grows in abundance here.

  • 6. MLJET:

For centuries, Mljet was little - known, its dense pine forests encroaching on two linked saltwater lakes. On an Islet on the larger of the two lakes, Italian Benedictine monks built an Apulian – Romanesque monastery. Around 100 years ago, Indian mongooses were introduced to wipe out Mljet’s snake population. The western, forested part of Mljet is now a national park.

  • 7. MURTER:

Murter almost joins the mainland, to which it is linked by a 12 - meter drawbridge. Its proximity to the scattered Islets and reefs of Kornati National park makes it a favorite base with the yachting community. Each summer, the Adriatic Nautical Academy (ANA) runs – a sailing school here in Jezera – the courses at various levels include plenty of sailing practice and afternoon theory lessons.

  • 8. LOPUD:

This tiny, car free Island makes a quiet escape from Dubrovnik. Its sole settlement is built around a gently curving bay, while a 15 –minute trek across the Island through the dense, scented vegetation brings you to lovely sunj sandy beach. You can reach Lopud from Dubrovnik by ferry in 50 minutes.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN DUBROVNIK;

  • 1. CITY WALLS:

Every visitor to Dubrovnik should complete at least a partial walk around the city walls. Dating from medieval times, the walls, with their fortresses and towers, frame the historic city. As you make the mile – and –a quarter circuit of the fortifications, which are 82 ft high and 20 ft thick in some places, you will see Dubrovnik’s distinctive red rooftops from every angle, as well as observing tourists and residents below going about their lives, swimming off the wall’s rocky base or dining in open – air restaurants. It takes about an hour to do the full walk.

  • 2. MONASTERY AND MUSEUM:

Dubrovnik’s Dominican monastery was built in the 14th century with the help of the Ragusa government, positioned against the city walls to strengthen its north eastern flank. The museum contains religious art.

  • 3. STRADUN:

Also known as Placa, this is Dubrovnik’s main thorough fare, paved with limestone made smooth by the feet of countless tourists. It is lined with buildings housing shops, restaurants and entry points for Dubrovnik’s network of narrow side streets.

  • 4. CABLE CAR:

In under four minutes, Dubrovnik’s cable car will whisk you from just north of the city walls up to mount srd, offering visitors a breathtaking view of the city from a lofty 1,300ft, looking down on the tettacotta – tiled rooftops of the old town.

  • 5. SPONZA PALACE:

This 16th –century palace houses the state Archives, which contain a priceless collection of manuscripts dating back nearly a thousand years.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ZAGREB;

  • 1. ZAGREB CATHEDRAL:

A Stunning fountain with a gold Madonna surrounded by four angels leads the way to the city’s cathedral on Kaptol Hill. An earlier Romanesque church once stood here, dating back to the reigns of the first Croatian Kings in the 10th century. Today’s incarnation impresses with its vaulting twin spires and Zagreb’s visitors can take a look around the back of the cathedral to see the remains of walls that were built to fend off Ottoman attacks.

  • 2. MIMARA MUSEUM:

It is worth spending an afternoon at the expansive Mimara Museum, whose 4,000 – strong collection includes works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Turner, Renoir and Degas. The Mimara is also home to an extensive archeological collection, including important pieces that were unearthed in crete, Greece, Italy, Egypt and the Americas.

  • 3. ART PAVILION;

The unmistakable Yellow art nouveau Art Pavilion is home to both regular exhibitions and a restaurant serving the local take on schnitzel.

  • 4. ST. MARK’S CHURCH:

Zagreb’s most distinctive church lies at the heart of Gradec. It looks like something from a fairytale, with its bright chequered red, white and blue roof tiles and the chunky Croatian coat of arms woven into the design. Delve inside and admire the stunning depiction of the crucifixion or the sculptures on display by Mestrovic.

  • 5. BOTANICAL GARDENS:

The Gardens boast more than 10,000 plants. Opened in 1890, they show English and French influences.

  • 6. MEDVED GRAD:

The most important medieval monument in Zagreb, this fortress is found on the southern side of Mt. Medvednica just above the city. Once owned by a succession of aristocratic families, the fortress fell into ruin as a result of an earthquake and general neglect, but it was initially built between 1249 and 1254 to protect the city of Zagreb from Tartar invasions.

 

  • 7. STONE GATE:

The eastern gate to Medieval Gradec Town is now a shrine, as according to legend a great fire in 1731 destroyed every part of the wooden gate except for the painting of the virgin and child by an unknown 17th - century artist. Believing the painting possesses magical powers, people come regularly to pray before it and leave flowers.

  • 8. JARUN LAKE:

Part of the lake is marked off for boating competitors, but there is more than enough space to enjoy a leisurely swim in summer, when the clear waters are the ideal temperature in this popular get away spot.

  • 9. MAK SIMIR PARK:

Opened to the public in 1794, Maksimir was the first public promenade in south – eastern Europe and landscaped in an English garden – Style Park, complete with alleys and lawns.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN HVAR;

  • 1. FRANCISCAN MONASTERY;

The gorgeous Franciscan monastery, which dates back to the 15th century, and its adjoining church, our lady of charity, are the perfect places to soak up some of Hvar’s rich cultural and architectural heritage. Inside the monastery, which is just a five – minute walk from Hvar’s main city center, is a museum with an impressive collection of artifacts, including paintings and manuscripts that are centuries old. For those who prefer to be outside, the monastery gardens contain some beautiful trees which provide the perfect place for grabbing a bit of shade in the hot Croatian sun.

  • 2. PUBLIC THEATRE:

The Hvar Public Theatre was built in 1612, and has since been extensively restored to become an important home for cultural events in the city. Amateurs, professionals, local and international acts alike have performed on the stage and continue to do so today, although concerts are becoming increasingly rare due to general wear and tear and poor maintenance of the building. Restoration work is again underway, however, and you can still get a sense of the grand atmosphere of days gone by as soon as you step into the theater. An important monument in the history and heritage of the city, the theatre will no doubt once again be home to concerts and shows, but for now it is simply enough to marvel at the stunning interior until it can be fully brought back to life.

  • 3. PAKLEN ISLANDS:

Those who want nothing more than to grab a towel and head to the beach should go straight to the Pakleni Islands just a little way off Hvar, and easily accessible by boat – taxi. A true paradise, the islands are full of secluded little beaches and coves where you can relax, swim and sunbathe at Leisure away from the crowds. Many places offer boat rentals on the mainland to sail around the Islands, an opportunity which should not be missed. With golden sandy beaches and crystal clear blue water you have only ever seen on postcards, it really is heaven on earth.

  • 4. HVAR FORTRESS;

High above the city lies Hvar Fortress. Built at the beginning of the 16th century. It has been remodelled and expanded under almost every ruler, producing a truly spectacular sight which dominates the entirety of Hvar. Climbing to the very top of the fortress is worth the effort as visitors are afforded stunning panoramic views across the whole city. You can even see out to the Pakleni Islands and the beautiful Adriatic Sea, offering up the perfect photo opportunity.

CUBA

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital; Havana
  • Main cities; Santiago de Cuba, Camaguey, Santa Clara, Holguin, Guantanamo, Pinar del Rio, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Trinidad.
  • Populations; 11,230,229(As per the year 2011)
  • Currency; Cuban peso (CUC) =100 Centavos. All payments for tourist goods and services are made in pesos (CUC), Pegged to the US dollar. If you change US dollars into pesos, a 10% tax is applied plus an exchange commission. Traveller’s cheques (except those issued by US banks) and credit cards (except American Express and Diners club) are accepted. Since May 2010, all travellers visiting Cuba need to have a travel insurance policy with medical expenses coverage. For more information on the travel insurance to Cuba, visit (www.asistur.cu). Exchange rate approximate (CUC 26.50=$1). Tipping (moderate tips are expected in most places).
  • Time; GMT - 5
  • Electricity; 110 volts. Adaptor required
  • Driving; On the right
  • Public Holidays; include January 1, 2; May 1, 20; July 25; October 10; December 25;
  • Language; Spanish. English is widely spoken
  • Religion; Catholic and Afro - Cuban religions prevail, though others exist in the country.
  • Country Dial Code; +53
  • Getting there; (Major gateways, including Havana (HAV), Varadero (VAR), Holguin (HOG), Cayo coco (CCC). Typical flying time from UK is 9 hours 30 minutes.
  • Transfers; Havana (11 miles/18 km) coach, taxi.
  • Departure Tax; CUC 25 ($25) must be paid in local currency.
  • Ports; Havana, Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba.

Getting Around; Coach Company Viazul operates all over the country. Local buses are inexpensive. The main rail route is from Havana to Santiago de Cuba and there are connections from the Capital to other towns. Domestic flights link key areas of Cuba. Taxis and Shared Taxis are plentiful, with low flat fares.

Visa requirements; Visa is essential; Visa is essential and required.

Health requirements; Precautions against hepatitis A, polio and typhoid recommended.

Climate: Cuba’s climate is subtropical - hot all year round with most rain falling between May and October; the dry season is November to April. Hurricanes can occur in September and October on the island.

Accommodation; The range of Cuban hotels, from one - star right through to five - star, is expanding all the time, with properties being built across the country, particularly in Havana, Varadero, Pinar del Rio, Cayo coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos, Playa Guardalavaca (Holguin), Playa Santa Lucia and Trinidad.

Major Events;   

  • 1. International Festival of Low Budget Films, Holguin (April)
  • 2. International underwater photography contest Fotosub colony (April)
  • 3. International Tourism Fair of Cuba, Havana (May)
  • 4. Ernest Hemingway' Marlin Fishing Tournament (May)
  • 5. Santiago de Cuba Carnival, Fiesta del Fuego (July)
  • 6. Havana carnival (July/August)
  • 7. Turnat Nature Tourism Event, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus Provinces(September).
  • 8. International Ballet Festival of Havana (October/November)
  • 9. International Jazz Festival, Havana (December)
  • 10. International Festival of the New Latin American Cinema. Havana and other cities (December).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CUBA;  

  • 1. Havana, with its Spanish colonial architecture
  • 2. Pinar del Rio, featuring fine mountain landscapes
  • 3. Varadero seaside resort
  • 4. Cayo coco/ Guillermo, with coral reef and white beaches
  • 5. Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo las Brujas, Villa Claraprovince.
  • 6. Santa Clara, housing the mausoleum of the Che Guevara
  • 7. Guardalavaca's fine beaches in Holguin province
  • 8. Trinidad, colonial town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 9. Santiago de Cuba, the nation’s second city
  • 10. Necropolis Cristobal colon, a national monument.
  • 11. Bellamar caves, 60 miles from Havana
  • 12. Santa Lucia Beach, with a variety of marine life, on the northern coast of Camaguey province

 

 

TOP ACTIVITIES;

  • 1. Driving, snorkeling, sailing
  • 2. Trekking
  • 3. Bird watching
  • 4. Salsa dancing

What to eat and drink;

Cuba's cuisine is continental and local, with a strong emphasis on seafood. Favorite dishes include omelettes, think chicken or black bean soup, yucca with mojo sauce, malaca and maize with pumpkin and green bananas baked or fried. The national drink is RUM and MOJITOS are also very popular.

CURACAO

CURACAO;

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Willemstad

Populations; 142,180 (As per the year 2010 estimates)

Currency; Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG) =100 cents.  US dollars are widely accepted on the island, as are most credit cards. Exchange rate approximate (ANG 1.76=$1). Tipping (10% expected for good service)

Time; GMT - 5

Electricity; 110 - 130 volts.  Adaptor required.

Driving; Traffic drives on the right. Full licence required.

Public Holidays; Include January 1; February 16; April 5, 30; May 1, 14; July 2; October 21; December 25, 26.

Language; Papiamento. Also Dutch, English and Spanish

Religion; Catholic, with Jewish, Muslim and Protestant minorities on the Island.

Country Dial Code; +599 9

  Getting there; (Major gateway, including Hato International Airport (CUR). Typical flying time from UK is 12 hours via Amsterdam, while from Miami is 2.5 hours.

Transfers; Willemstad (7miles/12km) taxi 20-30 minutes; bus 45 minutes;

Port; Willemstad

Visa; Onward or return ticket, proof of funds and proof of lodging may be required. Length of stay is granted at 30-90 days, and may be extended.

Health requirements; Precautions against hepatitis A, Polio and typhoid recommended.

Climate; Curacao is warm and sunny year –round. The average temperature on the Island is 27C, with refreshing trade winds blowing constantly from the east and picking up in the spring months. The rainy season is from October to February and has short, occasional showers.

CYPRUS

Fast Facts;

Capital; Nicosia (Lefkosia)

Main city; Limassol (Lemesos)

Populations; 803, 147 (As per the year 2010)

Currency; Euro = 100 cents. Major credit cards widely accepted. Exchange rate approximate (Euro 0.73=$1). Tipping (As 10% is added in hotels/restaurants, tipping is not obligatory, but small change is always welcome.

Time; GMT +2

Electricity; 240 volts. Adaptor required

Driving; Traffic drives on the left. International driving permit is required.

Public Holidays; Include January 1, 6; February 23; March 25; April 1, 10, 13; May 1, 31; August 15; October 1, 28; December 25.

Language; Greek. English is widely spoken.

Religion; Greek orthodox

Country Dial Code; +357

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Lamaca (LCA), Paphos (Pafos-PFO). Typical flying time from New York is 11 hrs via London, while from UK is 4 hours 30 minutes.

Transfers; Lamaca/ Lamaka (5 miles/8 km), taxi 10 minutes. Paphos (8 miles/13 km), taxi 15 minutes.

Ports; Lamaca / Lamaka, Limassol (Lemesos);

Getting Around; A scheduled and inexpensive bus network covers the southern part of the Island; buses serve major towns between 6.00 am and 6.00 pm. Trans – urban shared taxis, for four to nine passengers, connect main towns every half - hour from 6.00 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday, 6.00 am to 5.00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Seats can be booked by phone and passengers can be collected from and dropped off wherever they wish. A shuttle service operates from Larnaca airport to major towns.

Visa requirements; Visa is vital and required.

Health requirements; Precautions against hepatitis A and Typhoid are advised.

Climate; Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers, mild winters, and temperatures above 20C in the short spring autumn seasons. Rain most likely in winter, but even in December and January, there is an average of six hours' sun a day. The Troodos mountains provide a summer cool retreat and snow for skiers in winter.

Accommodation; Cyprus has a wide range of accommodation, which includes hotels - the island has a good selection of four - and five - star properties - tourist villages, campsites, self - catering apartments, guest houses, traditional village houses, villas and agro-tourism accommodation, plus camping/caravan sites and youth hostels.

Major Events;

  • 1. Carnival, Limassol (March)
  • 2. Flower Festival (May)
  • 3. Pentecost – Kataklysmos, Festival of the Flood (June)
  • 4. Commandaria Festival, Limassol (July/August)
  • 5. Aphrodite Festival, Paphos (August/September)
  • 6. Wine Festival (September)
  • 7. International Festival Kypria (September/October).
  • 8. Cyprus Rally (March)
  • 9. Shakespeare Festival (June)
  • 10. Cyprus Independence Day (October 1)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CYPRUS;

  • 1. The resort of Paphos on the southwest coast, considered to be the most upmarket resort on the Island.
  • 2. Tombs of the kings, Paphos
  • 3. Mosaics park, Paphos
  • 4. Aphrodite’s Birthplace, Paphos
  • 5. Kourion Greco –Roman Amphitheatre, Limassol.
  • 6. Sanctuary of Apollo, Limassol
  • 7. Kolossi Castle, Limassol
  • 8. Lefkaralace village
  • 9. Kykko Monastery Troodos
  • 10. Omodos village, Troodos
  • 11. Lara Beach, Akamas Peninsula
  • 12. Cyprus Archeological Museum, Nicosia.
  • 13. Venetian walls, Nicosia.
  • 14. Medieval Castle, Lemesos /Limassol
  • 15. Baths of Aphrodite, Latchi
  • 16. UNESCO-Listed painted churches in the Troodos region
  • 17. Archbishop's palace, Lefkosia
  • 18. Pitsilia wine root
  • 19. Monastery of Apostolos Andreas
  • 20. Basilica of Agia Triad
  • 21. Ancient Vouni
  • 22. Cyprus Museum
  • 23. Kantara castle
  • 24. Omeriye Hammam
  • 25. Salamis
  • 26. Byzantine Art Museum

What to eat and drink;     

Cypriot cuisine reflects the tastes of the diverse invaders who have occupied the Island down the centuries, from the Greeks and Lebanese to the French and British. Typical dishes include meze, more than 20 appetizers and savories; Tava (Lamb stew with onions and tomatoes); Stifado (beef cooked with wine, onions and spices); Moussaka (Layered aubergine, minced meat and potatoes); and fish recipes. Desserts are rich and creamy. The local commandaria is the world’s oldest named wine and said to be Richard the Lion heart's favorite. He pronounced it ‘Wine of the kings and the king of the wines.'

What to buy;

Leather jackets and Handbags, shoes, Lefkara lace, prescription glasses, pottery, gold, silver.

Safety and Security; Do not attempt to enter the UN buffer zone anywhere other than a designated crossing point – the area is mined and militarized. Never photograph military installations or anything perceived to be a security interest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQUE);  

  • 1. Is the water safe to drink?

Answer; Yes.  Tap water in hotels, restaurants and public premises is safe to drink

  • 2. Can I get married in Cyprus?

Answer; Yes. As the birthplace of Aphrodite, Cyprus is the ideal setting. The ceremony can be in a church or chapel (conducted by a Catholic or Anglican priest) or a registry office. Some hotels have their own chapel, though these can get booked up well in advance).

  • 3. What are the duty free - regulations?

Answer; There are no limits on what you can buy and take with you when you travel between EU countries, as long as it is for personal use and not for resale.

 

  • 4. Are there golf courses?

Answer; Cyprus has four - 18-hole golf courses of good standard, all in the Pafos area. The minthis Hills (formerly Tsada) and secret valley clubs were joined a few years ago by the championship - rated Aphrodite Hills.  The newest is Nick Faldo’s Elea course, which opened in 2010.

  • 5. What are the main resorts?

Answer; Pafos (Paphos), Lemesos (Limassol), Ayia Napa and Protaras.  Pafos has a wealth of historical sites, Lemesos is Cyprus's second - largest city after Nicosia, and Larnaka has a busy Marina. Ayia Napa boasts the best beaches on the island, while Protaras is a fast - expanding resort.

  • 6. Are there hotels offering spa treatments?

Answer; Yes, there are plenty, including Le Meridien Limassol, the Elysium, Coral Beach, Columbia Beach, and Aeneas, Ayii Anargyri and Aphrodites Hills.

  • 7. Can I stay in the Troodos Mountains’?

Answer; Yes. Houses in villages such as Omodhos have been converted for visitors and generally have two double bedrooms, sleeping up to five.

SZECH REPUBLIC

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Prague.

Main cities; Brno, Ostrava, Plzen, Liberec.

Populations; 10,516,125, (As per the year 2013 estimates)

Currency; Crown (Kc) =100 hellers. Euro and dollars can be easily exchanged. Credit cards are widely accepted. Traveler's checks can also be used.  Exchange rate approximate (Kc 20=$1). Tipping (Between 5% and 15% expected).

TIME; GMT+1

Electricity; 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving; Is on the right. International driving permit required.

Public Holidays; include January 1; April 6; May 1; 8; July 5, 6; September 28; October 28; November 17; December 24, 25, 26;

Language; Czech is the official language. English and German are widely spoken.

Religion; Mainly catholic.  Also Protestant and Orthodox;

Country Dial Code; + 420

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Prague Ruzyne (PRG), Brno Turany (BRQ), Ostrava (OSR).  Typical flying time from New York is 8 hours, while from UK is 1 hour/45 minutes.

Transfers; Prague (11 miles/17KM) airport bus 40 - 45 minutes; local bus 40 - 60 minutes; taxi 30 - 40 minutes.

Getting Around; There is an extensive network of bus, tram and rail services as well three metro lines in Prague. Tickets have to be purchased before travel and validated at the start of the journey. Those without a valid ticket are subject to spot fines. A variety of tickets for unlimited travel include a four - day Prague card giving unlimited travel and entry to more than 50 city attractions. Taxis should display tariffs, but is wise to confirm the fare beforehand and call a reliable taxi company. Avoid hailing taxis on the street. The website (www. vlak - bus. cz) provides domestic and some international train and bus schedules. The Czech railways website is (www.cd.cz/en/default.htm)

Visa requirements; The Czech Republic is party to the Schengen Agreement. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days. That periods begins when entering any country party to the Schengen Agreement. Passport should be valid for at least 90 days after the last day of the intended stay.

Health requirements; None

Climate; The Czech Republic has a moderate climate with four seasons. Although Czech weather can never be predicted with certainty, summers are warm and sunny, but can be damp, while winters can be cold with a good chance of snow. Winds from the east can bring bitter cold in winter.

Accommodation; Hotels in the Czech Republic include the major international chains and are star - rated from one to five; there is also a choice of pensions, hostels, B & Bs, apartments, motels, botels and campsites. The Czech Association of Hotels & Restaurants website is (www.ahrc.cz).  Accommodation in the capital Prague can be found at (www.praguewelcome.cz/en)

Major Events;     

  • 1. Prague spring international music festival (May/June)
  • 2. International folklore festival, Straznice (June)
  • 3. Celebration of the five - Petalled Rose, Cesky krumlov (late June)
  • 4. Smetana’s Litomysl Festival, Litomysl (June/July)
  • 5. Colors of Ostrava (July)
  • 6. Carlsbad international film festival (July)
  • 7. Czech Republic Grand Prix (August)
  • 8. Palaver Wine Festival, Mikulov (September)
  • 9. Pilsner Fest, Pilsnen (October)
  • 10. Prague Christmas Markets (November - January)
  • 11. Prague Winter Festival (January)
  • 12. Days of European Film Festival (January)
  • 13. The Ball season (January/February)
  • 14. Masopust (February)
  • 15. The St. Matthew's Fair (Matejska pout in Czech - February - March)
  • 16. Fabio Fest (March)
  • 17. Witches' Night (April/May)
  • 18. Prague International Marathon (May)
  • 19. Fringe Festival Praha (May/June)
  • 20. World Festival of Puppet Art (May/June)
  • 21. Muzeum Night (June)
  • 22. Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (July)
  • 23. Summer Shakespear Festival (July)
  • 24. Grand Prix Brno (August)
  • 25. Prague Proms (August)
  • 26. Trutnov Open Air Music Festival (August)
  • 27. Wine Festivals (September)
  • 28. Saint Wenceslaus Celebrations and International Folklore Festival Cesky krumlov (September)
  • 29. Prague Autumn International Music Festival of Classical Music (September).
  • 30. Brno International Music Festival (September/ October)
  • 31. International Student Orchestras Festival (October)
  • 32. Prague International Jazz Festival (October)
  • 33. International Festival of Advent & Christmas Music (December)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CZECH REPUBLIC;            

  • 1. Historic center of Prague, with the castle, Charles Bridge and old town square.
  • 2. The Jewish quarter in Prague.
  • 3. National Gallery in Prague
  • 4. Jewish Museum in Prague
  • 5. 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • 6. Historic Cesky krumlov
  • 7. Historic center of Telc
  • 8. Pilgrimage church of St. John of Nepomuk at Zelena Hora
  • 9. Kutna Hora's Historical Center
  • 10. Holy Trinity Column, Olomouc
  • 11. Holasovice historic village
  • 12. Palava Hills Biosphere
  • 13. Lednice - valtice park/complex
  • 14. Litomysl castle
  • 15. Tugerodhat villa in Brno
  • 16. Terezin Fortress
  • 17. Spa Triangle; Carlsbad, Marienbad and Franzensbad
  • 18. National parks; Sumava and Prodyji
  • 19. Czech Switzerland; sandstone rock formations
  • 20. National caves: Punkevni, Konsprusy and Bozkovske
  • 21. Dolomite caves
  • 22. Moravian karst
  • 23. St. Vitus Cathedral
  • 24. Ostrava - Lower Vitkovice
  • 25. Marianske Lazne
  • 26. Karlovy vary
  • 27. Gardens in Kromeriz
  • 28. Troja chateau
  • 29. Strahov monastery
  • 30. Municiple house.
  • 32. Lesser town and St. Nicholas church
  • 33. National Theatre state opera
  • 34. Wenceslaus square
  • 35. Josefov - Jewish Museum
  • 36. The Astronomical clock
  • 37. Prague castle

TOP ACTIVITIES IN CZECH REPUBLIC;

  • 1. Sightseeing Prague and UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • 2. Visit the famous spa towns of Carlsbad and Marienbad
  • 3. Go shopping for Czech garnets, Bohemian glass and wooden toys
  • 4. Hiking and biking the Prague - Vienna Greenways
  • 5. Play golf at Karlovy vary Golf Resort, the nation’s oldest golf club, or the Royal Golf Club Marianske Lazne
  • 6. Enjoy the many live music gigs and festivals;

What to eat and drink;

Czech cuisine is most notable for its rich and hearty meals, including delicious sweets and excellent beer and wine. Gastronomy in the country has various inspirations, but has been most influenced by Australian, Germany and Hungarian cooking. A traditional Czech entree would usually consist of meat (such as beef, pork, duck, goose or game), along with potatoes, cabbage (sauerkraut) or dumplings. To accompany your meal, order a pint of Czech beer (such as pilsner urquell or Budvar) or wine from Moravia.

TOP TIPS;

The Czech Republic is located in the heart of Europe. Delta offers the only non -stop service from New York JFK to Prague. Sending your clients into the country side, which is easily accessible by rail. The Czech Republic is part of the Eurail network (www.raileurope. com).  Accommodation in Prague hotels at less than $100 a night.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CZECH REPUBLIC IN DETAILS;     

  • 1. HOLY TRINITY COLUMN;

The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is one of the finest examples of baroque architecture in the Czech Republic. The three - tiered structure is covered in religious imagery, with sculptures of saints, apostles and the Virgin Mary, topped with a statue depicting the Holy Trinity. Built in the 18th century to celebrate the end of a Plague, in 1758 Olomouc’s residents successfully persuaded the invading Prussian army not to shoot at their monument.

  • 2. KROMERIZ GARDENS;

Called the Garden of Eden by locals, Kromeriz Gardens never fails to impress. With lavish statues, flower beds and fountains, it is a throwback to Prague’s extravagant past, notably the perfectly symmetrical flower gardens, designed in the 17th - century. Once you are done exploring outside, head into the Archbishop's chateau and admire the collection of paintings by old masters, and climb its baroque tower for unbeatable views of the city.

  • 3. PRAGUE CASTLE; Prague castle is, according to Guinness, the world’s largest complete castle complex. There is plenty to look at, but be sure to explore the imposing St. Vitus Cathedral, and head to the main courtyard at midday, where you will see the ceremonial changing of the guard.
  • 4. JEWISH QUARTER;

Trebic's UNESCO - listed Jewish Quarter is ideal for a lazy afternoon spent meandering through the streets.  Dotted along the narrow lanes and passage ways are over 100 historic buildings, including synagogues, a rabbi’s house and town hall. But for a real sense of how large the Jewish population once was in these parts, visit the cemetery, which contains more than 2,000 overlapping gravestones. Elsewhere, the romanesque St Procopius Basilica, built in the 13th - century, highlights the area's christian heritage.

  • 5. PILGRIMAGE CHUCH OF ST JOHN OF NEPOMUK;

Designed by renowned Czech architect Jan Blazej Santin Aichel, this church at Zelena Hora was constructed in the shape of a star. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was built in honor of Czech Saint John of Nepomuk, who was thrown over from the Charles Bridge when he refused to confess the queen's secrets to the king.

CAMBODIA

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Phnom Penh

Main cities; Battambang,  Siem Reap, Sihanoukville.

Populations; 13,395,682 (As per the year 2008 estimates)

Currency; Riel (KHR). US dollars are widely accepted. Credit cards are accepted only in banks and main hotels, and large businesses. Foreign currencies readily exchanged. Exchange rate approximates (KHR 4,009=$1). Tipping (Expected in hotels and restaurants; amount optional).

Time: GMT + 7

Electricity: 220 volts.  An adaptor may be required for some appliances.

Driving: On the right.  International permit as well as local licence is required.

Public Holidays: Include January 1, 7; February 3; March 8; April 13; May 1, 9, 13; June 1, 18; September 24, 28; October 29, 31; November 9, 25; December 10. The dates of some Buddhist festivals are approximate.

Language: Khmer, English and French also spoken.

Religion: Buddhist.

Country Dial Code: + 855

Getting there: (Major gateways, including Phnom Penh (PNH), Seam Riep (REP). Typical flying time from Los Angeles is 18.5 hours via Taiwan, while from UK is 12 hours.

Transfers: Phnom Penh (5 miles/8 km); taxi $ 4-7. Siem Reap (3 miles/5km).

Departure Tax: International flights $ 25 at Phnom Penh.  Domestic flights $ 6.

Port: Sihanoukville International Seaport.

Getting Around: Ways to see the sights of Phnom Penh include taxi, car rental, bus, motorcycle and cyclo (tricycle rickshaw). The cyclo provides visitors with leisurely paced transportation around the city. There are eight provincial airports in Cambodia and water travel is also a popular mode of transport in the country.

Visa requirements: You can get a visa on arrival at most ports of entry. Payment is in US $ only and you need to bring two passport photos. A tourist visa costs US $ 20 for one month and can be extended for only one extra month. Minimum passport validity period of six months from the date of entry. Entry is normally refused if you have a damaged passport or pages missing. Tourists and business travellers may also obtain a Cambodian visa at the airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and at all major border crossings. Cambodia regularly imposes fines for overstay of an expired visa. Airports collect fingerprints upon entry using an electronic process.

Health requirements: Yellow fever immunisation is essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid, polio and dengue fever are recommended. Malaria is a risk, but tourist areas are malaria - free.

Climate: Cambodia’s climate is tropical and humid, with a rainy season from May to October (heaviest rainfall in September and October) and a dry season from November to April. The hot season is March to May, with temperatures between 29C and 38C, and the cooler season November to February (from 17C to 27C).  The rainy season is cloudier and humidity is high at this time.

Accommodation: Places to stay range from international and traditional – style luxury hotels to family - run guest houses.

Major events:

  • 1. Bonn Chaul Chhnam, Cambodian New Year (April).
  • 2. Bonn Visaka Bochea, commemorates the anniversary of the birth and illumination of the Buddha (April).
  • 3. Bonn Dak Ben and Bonn Pnchom Ben, the spirit commemoration festival (October).
  • 4. Three – day water festival, with boat races on the Jonle sap (November).
  • 5. Bonn Chroat Preah Nongkoal, Royal Ploughing Ceremony (May).
  • 6. Moon Festival (November).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CAMBODIA;

  • 1. Phnom Penh attractions including (Wat Phnom, Royal Palace, National museum, Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum, Choeung EK Memorial, Independence Monument and the local markets).
  • 2. Siem Reap Province attractions including (Angkor temple complex, Angkor wat - World Heritage Site), Angor Thom – Bayon, Baphuon, Takeo, Phimeanakas, Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei, Pre Roup, East Mebon, West Mebon, Prasat Kravan, Preah Khan, Neak – poan, Ta Saom, Banteay srei and Roluos Group, Beng Mealea, Mc Dermott Gallery, Phnom Kulen)
  • 3. Sihanoukville: the best beaches include Otres, Ochheuteal, Sokha, Independence and Hawaii. Koh Ta Kiev for a day trip.
  • 4. Stung Phong Roul waterfall.
  • 5. Botum Sakor National Park.
  • 6. Koh Trong.
  • 7. Banteay Chhmar.
  • What to eat and drink:

The Khmer cuisine of Cambodia has much in common with the food of neighboring Thailand, although less spicy, and Vietnam, with which it shares many common dishes and a colonial history. Curry dishes, known as Kari, are influenced by Indian cooking, while the many variations of rice noodles show Chinese influences. Coconut milk is the main ingredient of many Khoner curries and desserts. Strong coffee is a favoured drink.

  • What to buy;

Statues and statuettes, jewels, objects of clay, stone, silver, brass and bronze, rattan and bamboo artefacts, silver plates and betel boxes.

CANADA

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital: Ottawa.
  • Main cities: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Quebec City.
  • Populations: 34, 439,000 (As per the year 2011 estimates).
  • Currency: Canadian dollar (C$) = Cents. Major credit cards such as American Express, Master card and Visa are widely accepted in Canada. Most hotels, stores and restaurants will accept US dollars, though sometimes at a lower rate than banks or airports. Large hotels will usually give guests rates similar to those at the bank.

It is always a good idea for travelers to convert some money to Canadian currency prior to leaving their countries. Exchange rate approximate (C$1.08 = $1). Tipping (waiters and taxi drivers 10-15 percent depending on quality of service received.

Time; Six time zones, from Newfoundland (GMT - 3.5) to British Columbia (GMT - 8);

Electricity; 110 volts.  No adaptor required

Driving; Traffic drives on the right.  The Canadian Automobile Association recommended that all foreign visitors take an international driving permit as well as their national licence. Speeds and distances appear in kilometers, not miles.

Public Holidays; Include January 1; April 3, 5; May 25; July 1; September 7; October 12; December 11, 25, October 12; December 11,25,26.

Language; English (official) 59%, French (official) 23%, other 18%;

Religion; Catholic, Protestant (including United Church, Baptist, Anglican, Lutheran); also Muslim.

Country Dial Code; +1

Getting there; (Major gateways, including -  Calgary, AB (YYC), Charlotte town, PE (YYG); Edmonton, AB (YEG), Fredericton, NB (YFC), Halifax, NS (YHZ), Montreal, QC -  all airports (YMQ), Montreal, QC - Mirabel (YMX), Montreal, QC - Trudeau (YUL), Ottawa, ON (YOW), Quebec City, QC (YQB), Regina, SK (YQR), St john's, NF (YYT), Saskatoon, SK (YXE), Toronto, ON (YYZ), Vancouver, BC (YVR), Whitehorse, YT (YXY), Winnipeg, MB (YWG), Yellow knife, NT (YZF). Typical flying time from UK is 7 hours to Toronto; 9 hours/30 minutes to Vancouver. From New York to Toronto, 1.5 hours; New York to Calgary, 5.5 hours; Los Angeles to Vancouver, 2.5 hours.

Departure Tax; An airport improvement fee (AIF) of up to CS$25 is added to the price of an air ticket. The air traveler’s security charge (ATSC) is levied on all passengers departing from Canadian airports, C$12.71 on Trans - border flights to the US.

Ports; Montreal, Vancouver, St John’s, Quebec City, Halifax.

Getting Around; There is an excellent public transport system throughout Canada and its cities. VIA Rail operates train operates train services in the country and Greyhound Canada provides long - distance bus services, which run frequently.

Transfers; Calgary (11 miles/18 km) 30/40 minutes.

  • Edmonton (19 miles/31 km) 45 minutes.
  • Halifax (26 miles/42 km) 30 minutes.
  • Montreal Mirabel (34 miles/ 58 km) 60 minutes.
  • Montreal Trudeau (14 miles/22 km) 25 minutes
  • Ottawa International (11miles/8 km) 25 minutes
  • St john’s (5 miles/8 km) 10 -15 minutes
  • Toronto Lester B. Pearson (18 miles/30 km) 30 - 40 minutes
  • Vancouver (4 miles/6 km) 20 -30 minutes
  • Winnipeg (4 miles/6.4 km) 20 minutes
  • Visa requirements; visa is vital and required.

Health requirements: None.  For latest information on health matters, travellers to Canada should visit Health Canada (www.hc-sc.gc.ca).

Climate: Because of Canada’s expanses, climatic conditions vary widely and only very general information can be given.  In summer, hotels, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and stores are air - conditioned. In winter, all private and public buildings, railway stations and bus terminals are heated and all main highways are cleared of snow. Although days in summer are warm, evenings may be cool and visitors planning fishing, camping or canoeing expeditions should bring medium and heavier weight apparel in addition to summer clothing.

Accommodation:  Travelers can choose from a wide variety of options, ranging from campsites and youth hostels to cabins, B&Bs, chalets and five - star hotels. It is also possible to stay in more unusual accommodation such as a tipi, igloo or even an ice hotel. There is no official star rating system in Canada, although the system operated by Canada select is becoming more widely.

Major events;

  • 1. Igloo Fest, Quebec (January)
  • 2. Quebec Winter Carnival, Quebec (January/February)
  • 3. Winterlude, Ontario(February)
  • 4. Caribou Carnival, northwest territories (March)
  • 5. Banff Summer Arts Festival, Alberta (May - August)
  • 6. Brigus Blueberry Festival, Newfoundland & Labrador (July)
  • 7. Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Alberta (August)
  • 8. Pop Montreal International, Quebec (October)
  • 9. Winter Festival of Lights, Ontario (November - January)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CANADA;

  • 1. Niagara Falls, Ontario
  • 2. CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario
  • 3. Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
  • 4. Parliament Buildings, Ottawa, Ontario
  • 5. Banff National Park, Alberta
  • 6. Jasper National Park, Alberta
  • 7. Rocky Mountains, Alberta
  • 8. Athabasca Glacier, Alberta
  • 9. Whistler Resort, British Columbia; along with Vancouver, Whistler hosted the 2010 winter Olympic Games.
  • 10. Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • 11. Whale - watching, British Columbia.
  • 12. Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • 13. Quebec City, Quebec
  • 14. Old Port, Montreal
  • 15. Montreal, Quebec, particularly vibrant during the Montreal International Jazz Festival
  • 16. National Art Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario
  • 17. Algonquin Park, Ontario
  • 18. Calgary Zoo, Alberta
  • 19. Lunenburg, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nova Scotia.

What to buy;

Clothing and shoes, jewelry, house wares, books, antiques, maple syrup, Canadian whisky, folk art, gemstones, ceramics. Also carvings, silver and leather goods.

What to eat and drink;

Canada has a multinational cuisine that has been shaped by continual waves of immigration, with many of the country's dishes having been influenced by arrivals from Britain and the rest of Europe. Fine wines are produced around the Niagara region in the east and the Okanagan valley in British Columbia in the west. Hundreds of micro - breweries have developed a huge variety of beers and lagers.

CAPE VERDE

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital; Praia
  • Main cities; Mindelo, Santa Maria
  • Populations; 491,575 (As per the year 2010 estimates)
  • Currency; Cape Verdean escudo (ESC$) =100 centavos. Exchange rate approximates (ESC$79=$1). The currency of Cape Verde is pegged to the euro, which is the best currency to take. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted. Tipping (at the customer’s discretion depending on the level of service provided)
  • Time; GMT - 1
  • Electricity; 220 volts. Adaptor required
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the rights. International driving licence/permit required
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1,20; February 17,18; May 1,19; July 5; August 15; September 12; November 1; December 25;
  • Language; Portuguese is the official language. Also Creole. English is widely spoken
  • Religion; Catholic
  • Country Dial Code; +238
  • Getting there; (Major gateway, including Sal Cabral (SID)
  • Other airports; Boa Vista Rabil (BVC); Maio Vila Maio (MMO); Mosteiros (MTI); Praia F. Mendes (RAI); Santo Antao (NTO); Sao Filipe (SFL); Sao Nicolau Preguica (SNE); Sao Vicente San Pedro (VXE);
  • Visa requirements; Visa is essential and required
  • Health requirements; Yellow fever immunization is essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended. Also malaria if traveling to Sao Tiago Island.
  • Climate; Tropical, tempered by Atlantic trade winds, with temperatures fairly constant and averaging around 75F with eight hours’ sunshine a day. The rainy season is between August and October.
CAYMAN ISLANDS

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital; George Town.
  • Populations; 57,570 (As per the year 2012 estimates)
  • Currency; Cayman Islands dollar (CI$) =100 cents, fixed to the US dollar at CI$1=US$1.21. All major credit cards accepted. Tipping (15% is suggested)
  • Time; GMT -5
  • Electricity; 110 volts. No adaptor required
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the left. A visitor’s driving licence can be obtained from car hire companies and police stations for a small fee on production of a valid driving license.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1,26; February 18; April 3,6; May 18; June 8; July 6; November 9; December 25,26;
  • Language; English
  • Religion; Christianity
  • Country Dial Code; +1345
  • Getting there; (Major gateway, including Owen Roberts International Airport, Grand Cayman (GCM). Typical flying time from Miami, 1.5 hours, while from UK is 11 hours.
  • Transfers; George Town/West Bay (1.5 miles/2.4 km) taxi 5 - 10 minutes; scheduled bus service.
  • Port; George Town
  • Visa requirements; Visa is vital and required
  • Health requirements; Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended.
  • Climate; Temperatures are consistently high year - round at 30 - 35C, tempered by the gentle fanning of the trade winds. The dry season is November to May and the wettest months June to October, when it is more humid and there is also the risk of tropical storms or the occasional hurricane.
CHILE

FAST FACTS;

  • Capital; Santiago
  • Main cities; Valparaiso, Concepcion, Laserena, Antofagasta.
  • Populations; 17, 402, 630 (As per the year 2012 estimates)
  • Currency; Chilean peso (CLP). All major credit cards are accepted. Exchange rate approximates (CLP 557 = $1). Tipping (In restaurants a tip of about 10% are expected; it is not included in the bill. Taxi drivers are generally not tipped.
  • Time; GMT - 4
  • Electricity; 220 volts. Adaptor required
  • Driving; Traffic drives on the right. An international driving permit is required.
  • Public Holidays; Include January 1; April 3, 4; May 1, 21; June 29; August 15; September 7, 18, 19; October 12; November 1; December 8, 25.
  • Language; Spanish. English is widely spoken is major cities, but not in rural areas.
  • Religion; Catholic majority with a christian non - catholic minority
  • Country Dial Code; +56
  • Getting there;( Major gateway, including Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, Santiago de Chile (SCL). Typical flying time from UK is 16 hours, while from Miami is 18 hours.
  • Transfers; Santiago (12 miles/18 km) bus 60 minutes to city center, taxi 50 minutes.
  • Departure Tax; US$26
  • Ports; Valparaiso, San Antonio, Antofagasta, Iquique, Talcahuano, Puerto Montt.
  • Getting Around; Chile's capital Santiago has a modern metro and extensive bus network, which includes minibuses. Another way of traveling in the city is to use one of the colectivos (shared taxis), which operate fixed routes within the city and to neighboring towns. Long - distance buses run to all major and medium - sized cites with three fare bands.
  • Visa requirements; Visa is vital and required.
  • Health requirements; Yellow fever immunization is essential for entry from endemic areas. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid, tetanus and polio recommended, as well as against altitude sickness in the northern altiplano.
  • Climate; There are considerable climatic variations in view of the extreme length of the country, which spans 2,500 miles/4,300km from north to south. The central lowlands enjoy a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers (November to March), with temperatures up to 30 - 35C. The winter (mid -  May to August) is the rainy season, where temperatures vary greatly (at night, temperatures can drop to freezing; during the day, they are 10 - 25C). The Andes are permanently covered in snow on the upper reaches and snowfalls become progressively heavier further south in Patagonia, the wettest and coolest part of Chile.
  • Accommodation; Accommodation in Chile ranges from International five - star hotels down to apart hotels, farm stays and rooms in private homes. There are also rural Cabin Complexes which are available for hire.

MAJOR EVENTS;

  • 1. Santiago Love Parade, Santiago de Chile (January)
  • 2. Feast Day of St Sebastian, Yumbel (February)
  • 3. Derby Day, Valparaiso sporting club, Vina del mar (February)
  • 4. Feast of the Virgin of 40 hours, Limache (February)
  • 5. Rodeo de Rancagua in Rancagua city (March)
  • 6. Independence Day, Rancagua (September 18)
  • 7. Semanas Musicales de Frutillar (January)
  • 8. International Festival Santiago a mil (January)
  • 9. Dakar Rally (January)
  • 10. Tapati Festival, Easter Island (February)
  • 11. Patagonian Expedition Race (February)
  • 12. Festival de vendimia (March/April)
  • 13. Fiesta Cuasimodo, central Chile(April)
  • 14. Fiesta de san Pedro (June)
  • 15. Fiesta de la virgen del Carmen (July)
  • 16. Virgen de la Tirana, Tirana (July)
  • 17. Fiestas Patrias; Chile’s independence Day & Military Day (September)
  • 18. Valdivia International Film Festival, Valdivia (October)
  • 19. El ESanyo horse - racing derby, club Hipico,  Santiago (November)
  • 20. Fiesta Grande de la virgen de Rosario (December)
  • 21. Ano Nuevo en EL mar (New Year at the sea) - December.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CHILE;

  • 1. Torres del Paine National park (south Patagonia)
  • 2. The moai statues of Rapa Nui, Easter Island
  • 3. Ski centers; Portillo, La Parva, EL Colorado, Valle Nevado
  • 4. Wine routes, central region
  • 5. Conguillo National park
  • 6. Pucon
  • 7. El Tatio Geysers
  • 8. Valparaiso, central region (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
  • 9. Atacama Desert, North
  • 10. Chilean stargazing, La Serena (north of Santiago)
  • 11. Lake district (south)
  • 12. Thermal spas, south and central regions
  • 13. Valle Del Elqui (North, close to La Serena)
  • 14. Pucon and Villarrica lake (in Chile's lake district)
  • 15. Glaciers and fjords, south.

 

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK;

Seafood in Chile is excellent, particularly lobsters and oysters. Local specialities include curanto (stew of fish, shellfish, potatoes and different types of meat), parrillada (a mixed grill), empanadas (Light pastry with meat shellfish or cheese), cazuela (chicken - or beef - based soup with potatoes) and pastel de choclo (baked corn meal with chicken or beef. Paila marina is a delectable shellfish stew available throughout the country. Even the most voracious sweet - tooth will be satisfied by locally made Italian - style ice cream (helado) and desserts made with dulce de leche, which is also known as manjar. Chilean wines are world - class and the local cocktail is pisco sour, made from grape brandy, lemon juice, sugar and egg white.

WHAT TO BUY;

Handicrafts and artworks in wood, wool, clay, wicker and silver, alpaca garments, lapis lazuli jewellery, wine and pisco;

TOURISM ACTIVITIES IN CHILE;

  • 1. VALPARAISO; The most unique city in Chile, Valparaiso was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2003.
  • 2. ATACAMA DESERT; Set in the north of the country, the Atacama Desert, known as the driest desert on the planet though surprisingly not that hot - is home to geysers, hotsprings, ravines and lagoons. It offers a blend of fantastic volcanic landscapes and quaint Andean villages.
  • 3. PATAGONIA; The stunning mountain region that Chile shares with Argentina at the tip of the South American continent is famous for its glaciers, icebergs, waterfalls and lakes. The region's dramatic landscape is one of the world's most impressive natural attractions, perfect for trekking, climbing or simply exploring. Highlights of the region include the spectacular mountain range in the Torres del Paine National park, and the ice - blue glaciers and coastal fjords make for a very different holiday experience.
  • 4. EASTER ISLAND: This mysterious island, more than 2,000 miles west of mainland Chile, is one of the most isolated places on Earth. Visitors will be intrigued by the famous statues, figures carved from rock on the Polynesian island between the 13th and 16th centuries, staring out to sea in stony silence.
DEMOCRRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (DRC)

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Kinshasa

Main cities; Mbuji mayi, Lubumbashi, Kananga

Populations; 71, 712, 867 (As per the year 2011 estimates)

Currency; Congolese franc (CDF).  US dollars widely used. Exchange rate approximate (CDF1, 490= Sterling pound1).  Tipping (10% restaurants)

Time; GMT+1 or +2

Electricity; 220/240 volts.  Adaptor required

Driving; Traffic drives on the right

Public Holidays; Include January 1, 4, 17; May 1, 17; June 30; August 1; November 17; December 25.

Language; French, Lingala, Kikongo, Swahili and Tshiluba are also spoken.

Religion; Christianity, small muslim minority.

Country Dial Code; +243

Getting there: (Major gateway, including N'djili Airport, Kinshasa (FIH). Typical flying time UK via Paris is 11 hours.

Visa requirements; Visa is essential and required

Health requirements; Yellow fever vaccination certificate is mandatory. Malaria, rabies, polio, meningitis and cholera are common in DRC. Medical care is extremely limited.

Climate; North of the equator, the wet season is April - October and the dry season December - February. South of the equator, the wet season is November - March and the dry season April - October.

DENMARK

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Copenhagen

Main cities; Aarhus, Odense, Aalborg.

 

Populations; 5, 602, 628 (As per the year 2013 estimates)

Currency; krone (DKK) =100 ore. Most major credit cards accepted. Exchange rate approximates (DKK 5.47=$1). Gratuities are generally not expected in Denmark, expect for special instances when dining in large groups or experiencing exceptional service. Hotel and restaurant bills include discretionary 10%, while gratuities are included in taxi fares. Tip cloakroom attendants small charge and porters DKK10.

Time; GMT+1

Electricity; 220 volts.  Adaptor required

Driving; Is on the right

Public Holidays; Include January 1; April 2, 3, 5, 6; May 1, 14, 25; June 5; December 25.

Language; Danish. Most people speak English

Religion; Mainly Evangelical Lutheran.

Country Dial Code; + 45

Getting there: (Major gateways, including Copenhagen (CPH), Billund (BLL), Aarhus (AAR), Esbjerg (ESB), Aalborg (AAL). Typical flying time from UK is 1 hour/30 minutes, while from New York is 7.5 hours direct, 1O hours via Reykjavik.

Transfers; Copenhagen (5 miles/8 km) train 13 minutes; taxi 15 - 20 minutes. Billund (1.2 miles/2km) bus to Vejle 30 minutes. Aarhus ((AAR) bus 45 minutes. Also Aalborg (AAL) bus 45 minutes alsoaalborg (AAL)

Ports; Esbjerg (Ferry Harwich): Copenhagen (cruise)

Getting Around; In the capital, tourists can obtain the Copenhagen card, which is available for various periods, allowing unlimited travel and free entry to 75 museums and attractions. There is a good public transport network and metered taxis are available. For travel further afield, Danish Railways (DSB) intercity services link most towns. Ferries link Denmark with its neighbors and to its islands.

Visa requirements; Denmark is party to the schengen agreement. No visa required for stays of up to 90 days. That period begins when entering any country party to the schengen agreement.

Health requirements; None.

Climate; Despite Denmark’s northerly position, the weather is not extreme: there are no extremes of temperature or rainfall. The climate is in the temperate zone, and the mild weather is due to the west winds and the sea that almost surrounds the country. While April and May are mild months, the weather is usually warm and sunny from June to August. Autumn months are pleasant, though cooler. Winter tends to be cool and light snow can sometimes occur. Denmark does not have a lot of fluctuation between day and night temperatures, but wind gusts can quickly change the weather.

Accommodation; There is a wide range of accommodation, including hotels, country cottages, castles, manor houses, holiday centers, inns, farmhouses, B&Bs, apartments, holiday cottages, camping sites and hostels.

MAJOR EVENTS;

  • 1. Aalborg Opera Festival (March)
  • 2. Aalborg Carnival (May)
  • 3. River Boat Jazz Festival, Silkeborg (June)
  • 4. Copenhagen Jazz Festival, Copenhagen (July)
  • 5. Aarhus Festival (August/September)
  • 6. Copenhagen Night of Culture (October)
  • 7. Hans Christian Andersen Christmas Market, Odense (December)
  • 8. Old Town Christmas Market, Aarhus (November/December)
  • 9. Funen Village Christmas Market, Odense (November/ December)
  • 10. Tivoli Christmas Market, Copenhagen (December)
  • 11. Wonder Cool Festival, Copenhagen (February)
  • 12. CPH: PIX Film Festival (April)
  • 13. Roskilde Festival (July)
  • 14. Copenhagen Cooking Festival (July/August)
  • 15. Cultural Harbour Festival, Copenhagen (August)
  • 16. Odense Flower Festival (August)
  • 17. Copenhagen Fashion Festival (August)
  • 18. European Medieval Festival, Horsens (August)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN DENMARK;

  • 1. Tivoli, Copenhagen
  • 2. Legoland, Billund
  • 3. The old Town, Aarhus
  • 4. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
  • 5. ARoS Museum of Modern Art, Aarhus
  • 6. Kronborg, Helsingoer
  • 7. Danish National Gallery (Statens Museum for Kunst), Copenhagen
  • 8. Bakken amusement park, Copenhagen.
  • 9. Rundetaarn, Copenhagen
  • 10. Little Mermaid, Copenhagen
  • 11. Arken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen
  • 12. Copenhagen Zoo
  • 13. The Royal Danish Opera House, Copenhagen
  • 14. Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK;

Traditional Danish cuisine includes the well - known smorgasbond (open sand wiches with varied items), roast pork, pickled herrings, smoked eel and meat balls. Danish beers include Carlsberg, Tuborg and Odense Pilsner.

Frequently asked questions (faque)

  • 1. Is Denmark cold?

Answer: Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Denmark has a temperate climate similar to that in the UK

  • 2. Is it expensive in Denmark?

Answer: No more expensive than London or Dublin.

DJIBOUTI

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Djibouti

Main cities; Ali Sabieh,  Tadjourah

Currency; Djiboutian franc (DJF). Credit cards are not widely accepted outside the larger hotels in Djibouti city. Exchange rate approximate (DJF 296=Sterling pound1). Tipping (10% in restaurants).

Time; GMT+ 3

Electricity; 220 volts.  Adaptor required

Driving; Traffic drives on the right. A temporary local permit may be obtained from local authorities on presentation of a licence.

Public Holidays; Include January 1, 13; May 1, 27; June 27; July 28; October 4, 25; December 25.

Language; French, Arabic, Somali, Afar.

Religion; Muslim

Country Dial Code; + 253

Getting there; (Major gateway, including Djibouti (JIB). Typical flying time from UK is 14 hours via Dubai.

Transfers; Djibouti (3 miles/ 5 km) taxi

Departure Tax; US $ 20

Ports; Djibouti, Tadjoura.

Visa requirements; A one-month tourist visa is obtainable on arrival.

Health requirements; Yellow fever certificate required if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, cholera, polio, typhoid and malaria recommended.

Climate; Djibouti is hot all year round, but slightly cooler between October and April.

DOMINICA

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Roseau

Main cities; Portsmouth, Marigot

Currency; Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$) =100 Cents.  US dollars, euros and sterling can be changed at the banks. Credit cards are widely accepted in Dominica. Also visa, master card, and American Express are widely accepted. Exchange rate approximates (EC$2.70=$1). Tipping (at client’s discretion).

Time; GMT -  4

Electricity; 220/240 volts.  Adaptor may be needed

Driving; Traffic drives on the left. A local driving licence can be obtained from the traffic department on presentation

Public Holidays; Include January 1; February 16, 17; April 3, 6; May 4, 25; August 3; November 3, 4; December 25, 26;

Language; English is the official language. Creole and French are also spoken.

Religion; Catholic majority and Protestant

Country Dial Code; + 767/+1767

Getting there; (Major gateways, including Melville Hall Airport (DOM), Canfield Airport (DCF). Typical flying time from New York, 7 hours via San Juan, while from UK is 9 hours (no direct flights from UK)

Transfers; Roseau (40 miles/64km) taxi

Departure Tax; US$22

Ports; Woodbridge Bay, Roseau, Portsmouth, Roseau.

Visa requirements; Visa is vital and required.

Health requirements; Yellow fever immunization essential if arriving from infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A and typhoid recommended.]

Climate; Day temperatures from 27C to 30C; cooler in the mountains. Rainy season July - October.

MAJOR EVENTS;

  • 1. Carnival (March)
  • 2. Hike Fest (May)
  • 3. Jazz'n Creole (June)
  • 4. Dive fest (July)
  • 5. World Creole Music Festival (October)
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC;

FAST FACTS;

Capital; Santo Domingo

Main cities; Puerto Plata, Santiago, Higuey, La Romana,  Samana.

Currency; Dominican peso (RD$) =100 Centavos.  The many businesses accept US dollars and major credit cards, while tourist areas also have ATMs. Tipping (hotels and restaurants include 10% service. Tip an additional 10% in restaurants for good service.

Time; GMT -  4

Electricity; 110 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving; On the right.

Public Holidays; Include January 1, 6, 21, 26; February 27; April 3; May 1; June 4; August 16; September 24; November 6; December 25.

Language; Spanish is the official language. English, French, German and Italian are spoken in hotels and tourist destinations.

Religion; Catholic (95%). Also Protestant, Seventh Day Adventist, Baptist and Mormon.

Country Dial Code; 809, 829, 849

Getting there; (Major gateways, including - Santo Domingo Las Americas (SDQ), La Romana International Airport (LRM), Punta Cana International Airport (PUT), Puerto Plata Gregorio Luperon International Airport (POP), Santiago El Cibao International Airport (STI), Maria Montez International Airport(BRX), El catey International Airport (LTU), and Samana (AZS). Typical flying time from Miami is 2.5 hours, while from UK is 9 hours.

Transfers; Santo Domingo (8 miles/13 km) taxi 30 minutes

Departure Tax; US$20

Ports; Santo Domingo, Casa de campo port in La Romana, Samana and Puerto Plata;

Getting Around; Private taxis are available 24 hours a day in Santo Domingo, Santiago and Puerto Plata.  There are public buses in Santo Domingo, while public taxis, minibuses and motorbikes are relatively inexpensive forms of transport.

Visa requirements; Visitors need a valid passport. Those who do not obtain a Dominican Republic Visa prior to entry must purchase a tourist card on arrival to enter the country. Tourist cards cost US$10, and must be paid in US currency. tourist cards may also be purchased at the Dominican Embassy at the particular country where there is Dominican Embassy available.

Health requirements; Precautions against polio, tetanus, typhoid and hepatitis A recommended.

Climate; The Dominican Republic has a tropical climate, though temperatures are cooled by sea breezes. The hottest month is August and the coolest January, although the temperature rarely drops below 20C.  Conditions are dry in the north between June and September and from November to April in the south.

Accommodation; Places to stay range from small beach inns to small hotels atop hills; from hotels catering for windsurfers to colonial city hostels and adventure traveller hotels; from all-inclusive beach resorts to deluxe city hotels.

MAJOR EVENTS;

  • 1. Laser Midwinter Regatta (January)
  • 2. Master of the ocean (January)
  • 3. Parade of the Three Kings (January)
  • 4. Independence Day (February)
  • 5. Carnival (February/March)
  • 6. Merengue Festival, Santo Domingo (July)
  • 7. Punta Cana Food & Wine Festival (July)
  • 8. Discover Puerto Plata Market Place (October)
  • 9. Dominican Republic Jazz Festival (November).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN DOMINICAN REPUBLIC;

  • 1. Colonial zone in the capital Santo Domingo
  • 2. Altos de chavon; replica of a 17th - century Mediterranean village, La Romana.
  • 3. Ocean World Adventure Park, Cofresi, Puerto Plata.
  • 4. Saona and Catalina island tour.
  • 5. Los Haitises National Park
  • 6. Whale watching in Samana (January/Mach)
  • 7. Lago Enriquillo, one of few saltwater lakes with crocodiles.
  • 8. Eastern National Park
  • 9. Basilica de Nuestra senora de la Altagracia (Basilica of our Lady of Altagracia)
  • 10. Museo de las casa Realas (Museum of the Royal Houses)
  • 11. Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, oldest in the Americas
  • 12. Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park and Reserve, Punta Cana.
  • 13. El Limon Waterfall, Las Terrenas
  • 14. Centro Leon, Santiago
  • 15. Catedral Primada de America (First Cathedral of the Americas)
  • 16. Plaza de la cultura, Santo Domingo
  • 17. Jardin Botanical Nacional (National Botanic Gardens), Santo Dominigo
  • 18. Museo de Ambar Dominicano (Amber museum of Puerto Plata)
  • 19. Mount Isabel de Torres, Puerto Plata.

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK;

The Dominican Republic’s cuisine centres on red kidney beans (habichuelas) and rice, accompanied by chicken, beef, pork or goat, cooked with very mild spices. Popular local dishes include la bendera (rice, red beans, stewed meat and green plantains); sancocho (a thick - soup of seven meats and vegetables); longaniza (spiced pork sausage); and pastelitos (small pastries filled with chicken or other meats). Rums of the local Barcelo and Brugal companies and local beers (Presidente) are the main tipples.

 

WHAT TO BUY;

Traditional craft goods made of horn, wood, leather, shell, amber and larimer (A semi-precious local stone). Also pottery, ceramics, cigars and local rum.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS;

  • 1. Is the Dominican Republic the same as Dominica?

Answer; No, although both are Caribbean island destinations. The Dominican Republic is much larger and forms part of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares Haiti.

  • 2. What are the Dominican Republic's most popular resorts?

Answer; Puerto Plata and Samana are the favoured spots on the north coast, with Juan Dolio and Boca Chica most popular on the south coast. On the east coast, it is the beaches around Punta Cana that find most favour with visitors from abroad

  • 3. What money should I take?

Answer; Visitors will find it best to take traveler's cheques and cash in US dollars.

ETHIOPIA

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Addis Ababa

Main Cities:  Bahir Dar, Mekelle, Dire Dawa Harar, Jimma, Awassa, Nazereth.

Currency: Ethiopian birr (ETB) =100 santim. Credit cards are also accepted by major tourist outlets. Exchange rate approximate (ETB 19.62 = $ 1). Tipping (At the client's discretion,  with ETB 2 to ETB 5 the recommended amount).

Time:  GMT + 3

Electricity: 220 volts. Adapter required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the right in Ethiopia. International driving permit  required.

Public Holidays: include January 3, 7, 20; May2; April 10, 12; May 1, 28; July 18; September 12, 23, 28. The list includes Muslim festivals,  the dates of which are approximate.

Language: Amharic is the working language. English the second official language. French, Italian, Arabic and some 80 indigenous languages are also spoken.

Religion: Ethiopian Orthodox, Coptic, Muslim, as well as traditional beliefs.

Country Dial Code: +251

Getting there: (Major gateway, including Addis Ababa Bole (ADD). Typical flying time from New York is 17 hours via London, while from UK is 8 hours.

Transfers: Addis Ababa (5 miles/8 km).

Departure Tax: US $20 for international departures.

Getting Around: Ethiopian Airlines operates a domestic network and a bus network serves all major towns. A 500 – mile railway line links Addis Ababa and Djibouti. There are 2,500 miles of surfaced roads.

Visa requirements: If you are flying into Ethiopia as a tourist, you can get a visa on arrival at Addis Ababa (Bole) or Dire Dawa International Airports, at a cost of approximately £ 15. If you arriving by other means, or at another airport, you must get a visa prior to arrival.

Health requirements: Yellow fever certificate is required if arriving from an infected area. Hepatitis, polio, tetanus, typhoid and yellow fever immunisation recommended, as well as malaria precautions.

Climate: Ethiopia has two main seasons – the dry season from October through to May (with irregular rain occurring from late January to early March, and the rainy season, lasting from June to mid – September. Temperatures depend on altitude; the highland areas average 16C.

Accommodation: There is a wide choice of hotels – four star, three star, two star and guest houses in Addis Ababa, as well as the five - star Sheraton. Outside Addis Ababa, all large towns have good hotels; those in tourist areas have generally high standards. Campsites are available. For further information on hotels and accommodation, visit (www.ethiopiahotelguide.com)

Major events;

  • 1. Timket Festival, Epiphany (January)
  • 2. Meskel Festival – the finding of the true cross (September)
  • 3. Great Ethiopian Run (November)

TOUR  DESTINATIONS  IN  ETHIOPIA;

  • 1. Rock – hewn churches of Lalibela
  • 2. Gondar Castle Complex
  • 3. Lake Jana and Blue Nile Falls
  • 4. Axum Archaeological Sites
  • 5. Walled City of Harar
  • 6. Sof Amar Cave
  • 7. Semein Mountains National Park
  • 8. Hadar Archaeological Site
  • 9. Ethnic groups of the lower Omo Valley
  • 10. The capital Addis Ababa
  • 11. The Rift Valley Lakes
  • 12. Ethnological Museum, Addis Ababa

What to eat and drink;

The food and drink of Ethiopia reflect the country’s many cultures. A typical dish is wot, a hot spicy stew of meat or vegetables, seasoned with a blend of berbere (hot chilli powder). Often made with doro (chicken). It is normally served with injera( the traditional unleavened bread made from fermented teff flour). Alicha is milder and usually made from chicken or lamb, flavoured with green pepper. Ethiopia produces its own wine; Goudar and Dukam are red wines, while Axumite and Awash Crustal are white. Local honey wine, tej, is found all over the country and katikala is a distilled liquor.

What to buy: Gold, Silver and leather, woven products, Pottery, Coffee.

ESTONIA

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Tallinn

Main Cities: Tartu, Narva, Kohtlajarve, Parnu, Viljandi

Populations: 1,311,870 (As per the year 2014 estimates).

Currency: Euro (EUR) = 100 cents. Major credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants and shops. Exchange rate approximate (Euro 0.73 = $ 1). Tipping (5 – 10% for good service in restaurants).

Time: GMT + 2

Electricity: 220 volts. Adapter required.

Driving: On the right. International permit required.

Public Holidays: Includes January 1; February 24; April 3, 5; May 1, 24; June 23, 24; August 20; December 25, 26.

Language: Estonian. English and Russian widely spoken. Also Finnish.

Religion: Mainly Lutheran Protestant.

Country Dial Code: + 372

Getting there: (Major gateway, including Tallinn (TLL). Typical flying time from New York is 9 hours via Helsinki, while from UK is 3 hours.

Transfers: Tallinn (2 miles/3 km) bus 15 minutes.

Port:  Tallinn, with ferry links to Helsinki in Finland and one daily overnight ferry connection to Stockholm in Sweden.

Visa requirements: Estonia is party to the Schengen Agreement. No visa required for stays of up to 90 days. That period begins when entering any country party to the Schengen Agreement.

Health Agreement: Precautions against hepatitis A recommended.

Climate: Temperate, characterized by warm summers and fairly severe winters.

EL SALVADOR

FAST FACTS;

Capital: San Salvador

Main Cities: Santa Ana, San Miguel

Populations: 6, 194,000 (As per the year 2010 estimates)

Currency: US dollar (US $). Credit cards accepted. Exchange rate approximate (US $ 1.63 = £ 1). 10% recommended in restaurants.

Time: GMT – 6

Electricity: 110 volts. Adapter required.

Driving: On the right

Public Holidays: Include January 1; April 2, 3, 4; May 1; August 3, 4; September 15; October 12; November 2; December 25, 31.

Languages: Spanish. English widely spoken.

Religion: Catholic,  Evangelical

Country Dial Code: + 503

Getting there: (Major gateway, including San Salvador (SAL), 28 miles/45 km from city. Typical flying time from Miami is 2.5 hours, while from UK is 10 hours 30 minutes, via Miami or Washington DC.

Transfers:  San Salvador (28 miles/45 km) minibus 45 minutes;  tax 45 minutes.

Departure Tax: US $ 32

Ports: Acajutla, La Union, La Libertad

Visa requirements: Visa is essential and required.

Health requirements: Yellow fever immunisation essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended; also malaria, depending on area visited. Dengue fever is prevalent.

Climate: El Salvador’s climate is sub-tropical and affected by altitude.  Conditions are hot on the coast, with May-October the rainy season. Upland areas have a cooler temperate climate, while the pacific lowlands are uniformly hot; the central plateau and mountain areas, however, are more moderate.

 

TOUR DESTINATONS  IN EL SALVADOR;

  • 1. Tazumal: Site of El Salvador’s most impressive Mayan ruins.
  • 2. Bosque El Impossible National Park, for its biological diversity.
  • 3. Lake Coatepeque.
EGYPT

FAST FACTS;

Capital:  Cairo

Main cities: Alexandria, Port said, Ismailia, Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, Luxor, Aswan, Qena, Suez.

Populations: 94,000,000 (As per the year 2014 estimates).

Currency: Egyptian pound (LE) = 100 piastres.  Major credit cards accepted. Most popular foreign currencies are the US dollar and sterling. Exchange rate approximate (LE 7.01 = $ 1). Tipping (Generally between 10% and 12%).

Time: GMT + 2

Electricity: 220 volts. Adapter required (two round pins).

Driving: On the left. International permit required.

Public Holidays: Include January 3, 7, 14; April 12, 13, 25; May 1; July 18, 23; September 23; October 6, 13; These dates are fixed. Other religious holidays may vary because of the lunar calendar.

Language: The official language is Arabic. English and French are widely spoken.

Religion: Sunni Muslim, plus Coptic Christian.

Country Dial Code: + 20

Getting there: (Major gateways, including Cairo (CAI), Luxor (LXR), Aswan (ASW), Sharm El Sheikh (SSH), Alexandria (ALY), Hurghada (HRG), Marsa Alam (RMF), El Alamein (DBB), Taba (TCP). Typical flying time from New York is 11 hours, while from UK is 4 hours 30 minutes.

Transfers: Cairo (9 miles/15 km); Luxor (2.5 miles/4km); Aswan (17 miles/28km); Sharm El Sheikh (2miles/3km); Alexandria (4miles/6km); Hurghada (2miles/3km).

Ports: Alexandria, Port Said, Suez, Safaga, Hurghada, Sharm El Sheikh, Port Ghalib, Ain Sukhna, Damietta.

Getting Around:  Airport to Cairo City Center by taxi will generally take a maximum of 30 minutes. Intercity buses, train, taxis and minibuses are also available. Cairo has an underground Metrorail System.

Visa requirement:   Visa is vital and required.

Health requirements: Yellow fever immunisation essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended; also Malaria, depending on the area of the  country  visited and the time of year.

Climate: Hot and sunny throughout the year, Egypt has an average of 11 hours' sunshine a day in Cairo and Luxor during the summer and 8 hours in winter. The Mediterranean coastal region tends to be cooler in summer (November to March),  with the possibility of light rainfall.

Accommodation: Hotels range from one - to five – star. Youth hostels for students and camping facilities are also available. Accommodation on Nile cruisers, mostly based in Luxor, is also star – rated.

Major events;

  • 1. Cairo Biennale (December – February)
  • 2. International Egyptian Marathon, Luxor (February)
  • 3. Abu Simbel Sun Festival (February  and October)
  • 4. Fishing competitions, Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada
  • 5. International Yoga Festival (June)
  • 6. Wafa El Nil Festival, Cairo (September)
  • 7. Pharaons Rally, Cairo (October)
  • 8. Cairo International Film Festival (November)

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN EGYPT;

  • 1. Pyramids of Giza and Sphinx
  • 2. The Step Pyramid at Saqqara
  • 3. Dashur Pyramids
  • 4. El Mouallaqa Church
  • 5. Citadel of Salah El – Din
  • 6. Mosque of Ibn Tulon
  • 7. Cairo Museum
  • 8. Coptic Museum
  • 9. Islamic Museum
  • 10. Temple of Luxor
  • 11. Temple of Karnak
  • 12. Luxor Museum
  • 13. Colossi of Memnon
  • 14. Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
  • 15. Valley of the Kings
  • 16. Valley of the Queens
  • 17. Tomb of Tutankhamun
  • 18. Aswan High Dam
  • 19. Temples of Philae and Edfu
  • 20. Pompey’s Pillar in Alexandria
  • 21. Roman Amphitheater in Alexandria
  • 22. Ras El Tin Palace
  • 23. Alexandria Library
  • 24. St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai
  • 25. Resort Areas; Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba
  • 26. Red Sea Area; Hurghada, Safaga, Marsa Alam,  EL Gouna
  • 27. The Suez Canal
  • 28. The Oases; Fayoum, Kharga, Dakhla, Siwa, Farafra, Bahria.
  • 29. Kom Ombo, Dakka, Kalabsha
  • 30. Aswan, Nubia, Abu Simbel
  • 31. National Cultural Centre, Cairo
  • 32. Cairo Tower (Gezirah), Cairo
  • 33. Pharaonic Village, Cairo
  • 34. Military Museum, Cairo
  • 35. Khan El Khalili Bazaar, Cairo
  • 36. Esna Temple, Upper Egypt
  • 37. Monastery of St. Simeon
  • 38. Agha Khan Mausoleum, Aswan
  • 39. Tombs of the Nobles, Aswan
  • 40. Greco – Roman Museum, Alexandria
  • 41. St Catherine’s Monastery, South Sinai

Top Activities;

  • 1. Visiting pyramids
  • 2. Camel rides
  • 3. Felucca ride
  • 4. Driving and water sports

What to eat and drink;

Among popular Egyptian fare are falafel (deep fried chick pea pattices); fuul mada mmes (cooked beans, mashed with onions,  spices and tomatoes); Kebab (slices of pressed, spit – roasted lamb with seasoning); hamam (pigeon served with wheat stuffing); an umm’aly(bread pudding made with coconut milk, cinnamon and roasted nuts). Popular desserts include baklava and kuounafa (thin pies topped with nuts and liquid sugar).

What to buy;

Carpets, leather, copper, wooden goods in carved nacre, papyrus, decorated statues, traditional clothes (galabaya).

ECUADOR

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Quito

Main Cities: Guayaquil, Cuenca, Santo Domingo.

Population: 14,306,876 (As per the year 2010 estimates).

Currency: US dollar. Major credit cards are accepted. Exchange rate approximate US $ 1.63 = £ 1). Tipping (up to 10% for good service).

Time:  GMT – 5

Electricity:  120 volts. No adapter required

Driving:  On the right. Foreign driving licences accepted

Public Holidays: Include January 1; April 3; May 1, 24; August 10; October 9; November 2, 3; December 25, 31.

Language: Spanish is the official language, with Quechua, Shuar and other native languages used officially in some native communities. English spoken in tourist areas.

Religion:  Catholic 95%

Country Dial Code: + 593

Getting there: (Major gateways, including Quito (UIO), Guayaquil (GYE), Cuenca (CUE), Loja, Vicabamba (LOJ). Typical flying time from UK is 12 hours via Madrid or Amsterdam. No direct flights from the UK. From Miami is 4 hours.

Transfers: Quito (5 miles/8 km) bus 30 minutes; tax 20 minutes; Guayaquil (3miles/5km) bus 10 minutes; tax 10 minutes.

Departure Tax: Included in the airfare.

Port: Guayaquil

Getting Around: There is an efficient railway system. Transport by bus is available throughout the country, both in the cities and in the countryside.

The main routes are served by good quality vehicles, while secondary routes are fully served by lower - quality vehicles. Taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. Road conditions are variable as a result of frequent earthquakes and flooding during the past decade. Flying is generally the best way to travel between cities; all major cities are served by air routes. The Galapagos Islands and certain areas of the Amazon region are accessible only by air, but transportation generally is somewhat restricted. Car hire is available within Ecuador’s major cities.

Visa requirements: Visa is essential and required.

Health requirements: None for Quito and the Galapagos. For the Amazon Jungle and certain coastal lowland areas, yellow fever immunisation is advisable and essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid, tetanus, malaria and polio are recommended. Also precautions against Malaria, which carries a high year – round risk in lowland areas such as the Amazon and the coastal plains

Climate: There are no climatic seasons. Generally October/November and February to May are more prone to rain. December, January and June to September are drier. In the Andes (Quito), temperatures range throughout the year from 10C to 24C; on the coast and in the Amazon jungle from 20C to 33C; and in the Galapagos from 18C to 30C. The climate becomes slightly warmer in February and March, colder in August and September.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ECUADOR

  • 1. Quito, the colonial city dating from the 15th century, declare a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.
  • 2. Galapagos Islands, a national park and marine reserve.
  • 3. Inca ruins near Cuenca in the highlands of the Andes.
  • 4. The Amazon rainforest – covering the eastern half of the country.
  • 5. Cotopaxi National Park, which contains the world's highest active volcano.
  • 6. Sangay National Park, with the impressive Tungurahua Volcano.
  • 7. Avenue of the volcanoes, near Riobamba.
  • 8. Colonial haciendas in the Andean countryside.
  • 9. Other national parks and natural sites. Ecuador has 10 national parks and 14 natural reserves, covering around 4.6 million hectares of land and more than 14 million hectares of water.
  • 10. Bird watching in the country’s forested areas.
  • 11. Indian Culture in the cities of Quito and Cuenca.
  • 12. Volcan Chimborazo, the highest summit in Ecuador and the earth’s closet point to the sun.
  • 13. Wildlife; around 3,800 species of vertebrates, 1,550 mammals.

 

What to eat and drink;

Ecuador is famous for the many exotic fruits it produces as well as Andean potatoes and seafood. The food in the country is very diverse and tasty depending on the location and agricultural growing abilities. Chicken, beef and pork are often enjoyed in the mountainous regions. A common Ecuadorian delicacy is cuy (roast guinea pig). Served with potatoes, this is a popular street food dish in the Sierra region.

What to buy;

Despite their name, Panama hats are actually produced in Ecuador. Good quality hats can be rolled up in your luggage and will later spring back into shape when unpacked. Also handicrafts, carvings and jewelry.

 

DESTINATIONS IN ECUADOR  BRIEFLY;

  • 1. COTOPAXI NATIONA PARK;

The National Park is well – known for the four volcanoes within its boundaries, including the 19,348ft summit of Cotopaxi. Visitors can engage in a number of activities, including hiking, mountain eering, mountain biking, camping and horse riding. There is also a small museum at the park.

  • 2. FLORA AND FAUNA;

Ecuador is one of the planet’s most biologically diverse nations. The country’s drastic geographic and climatic variations have led to the evolution of thousands of species of flora and fauna, most of which thrive in habitats protected by the State and private organisations. Despite its tiny size, Ecuador is home to rainforests, jungles, mountains, islands, deserts, valleys and snow - capped peaks. Ecuador features 10% of the world’s plant species, the majority of which grow in the North - Eastern Amazon, where an estimated 10,000 species thrive. The diversity of the climate here has given rise to more than 25,000 species of trees. Moreover, the Andes is where an estimated 8,200 plant and vegetable species can be found. With 1,600 bird species (15% of the world’s known bird species) in the continental area, and 38 more endemic in the Galapagos Islands, the country also has 106 species of endemic reptiles, 138 species of amphibians and 6,000 species of butterfly. Ecuador has 10 national parks, 14 natural reserves, a wildlife refuge and a recreation area that are all considered part of the country’s natural heritage and are protected by the State.

  • 3. GALAPAGOS ISLANDS;

Known for its incredible mix of polar and tropical species, the Galapagos Islands – a UNESCO World’s Heritage Site – is a place where you can dive into the water and see penguins and tropical fish swimming side by side. Composed almost exclusively of volcanic rock, the archipelago lies around 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean and consists of around 13 primary Islands, five smaller Islands and numerous Islets and rock formations. Several oceanic currents meet in this region, resulting in a mixed temperature range and producing an abundance of marine life, from tropical to temperate fish species. Diving is therefore a popular pastime and the absence of commercial fishing means the waters are teeming with marine life. Reef fish, stingrays, morays, garden eels, turtles, marine iguanas, white tip reef sharks, hammerheads, penguins, and whale sharks are just some of the species divers can spot. The Islands have never been connected to the South American continent, meaning that many of the reptiles and plants living here are not found anywhere else.

FRANCE

FAST FACTS

Capital: Paris

Main Cities: Lille, Rouen, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nice, Toulouse, Strasbourg.

Population: 63,182,000 (As per the year 2011 estimation)

Currency: Euro = 100 cents. Exchange rate (approximate – Euro 0.73 = $1). Tipping (cafes and restaurants usually include a service charge, but it is customary to add a 10-15% tip for good service. Taxi drivers generally expect 10-15% of the metered fare).

Time: GMT + 1

Electricity: 220 volts. Adapter required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the right. National driving licenses are valid in France.

Public Holidays: Include January 1; April 6; May 1, 8, 14, 25; July 14; August 15; November 1, 11; December 25.

Language: French. Most people working in tourism and related fields speak English.

Religion: Catholic and Protestant, with Jewish and Muslim minorities.

Country Dial Code: + 33

Getting there: (Major gateways, including Paris – Charles de Gaulle (CDG), Paris – Orly (ORY), Bordeaux – Merignac (BOD), Lille (LIL), Lyon St Exupery (LYS), Marseille – Provence (MRS), Montpellier (MPL), Nice – cote d’Azur (NCE), Perpignan (PGF), Toulouse – Blagnac (TLS), Eurosta - Train (Paris Gare du Nord and Lille),  Nantes (NTE). Typical flying time from UK is 1 hour, while from New York is 7 hours.

Transfers: Paris – Charles de Gaulle (14.5 miles/23 km) Roissybus 45 minutes; coach 35 minutes; train 27 minutes; taxi 20 minutes; Bordeaux (8 miles/12 km) airport bus 20 minutes; bus 25 minutes; taxi 15 minutes. Lyon (17 miles/25 km) airport bus 40 minutes. Marseille (17 miles/25 km) airport bus 30 minutes; taxi 20 minutes. Nice (4 miles/6 km) airport bus 20 minutes; bus 25 minutes; taxi 15 minutes. Perpignan (4 miles/6 km) airport bus 20 minutes; bus 25 minutes; taxi 15 minutes. Toulouse (6 mile/10 km) airport bus 20 minutes; taxi 15 minutes.

Ports: Calais, Dunkirk, Boulogne, Dieppe, Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg, St Malo, Ro scoff, Marseille, Nice;

Getting Around: An underground railway, or Metro, can be found in Paris, Lille, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse. For travel around the country, the TGV is  France’s high – speed train and SNCF operates the whole rail network. Bus terminals are often found near SNCF railway stations or local tourist offices. There are no national coach links.

Visa requirements: France is party to the Schengen Agreement. No visa required for stays of up to 90 days. That period begins when entering any country party to the Schengen Agreement.

Health requirements: None

Climate: France’s climate is temperate in the north and on the Northwest coast, where summers can be warm and sunny. It is continental, with hot summers and cold winters in the Northeast, Auvergne, Burgundy and the Rhone Valley. The Riviera, Provence and Roussillon have a Mediterranean climate – hot and dry in summer with mild winters, when there is some rain. The mountain regions of the French Alps and Pyrenees have heavy snow in winter.

Accommodation: Hotels in France range from luxury in Paris and other major cities to inexpensive, usually family - run logis, noted for good, basic accommodation with a restaurant. Other options include the castles and mansions of Relais - chateaux; five categories of Hotels and Tourisme, with the new one, “Palace”. Gites de France self-catering holiday homes (often old farm houses), Cottages, Villas, Apartments, 10,500 caravan/campsites and hundreds of youth hostels. Bed-and-breakfasts are known as chambres d’hotes. Furnished accommodation, called meubles du tourisme, is one - to five – star, villages de vacances (holiday villages) include all – in stays with entertainment provided.

Major events;

  • 1. Nice carnival (February).
  • 2. Cannes International Film Festival (May).
  • 3. Le mans 24 – hour bike/car rally (June).
  • 4. Music Day all over the country (June 21).
  • 5. Arc de Triomphe horse race (October).
  • 6. Festival International d’ Art Lyrique in Aix-en-Provence (June – July).
  • 7. Avignon Festival (July).
  • 8. Fete de la Gastronomie (September).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN FRANCE;

  • 1. Eiffel Tower, Paris.
  • 2. Louvre Museum, Paris.
  • 3. Disneyland Paris, Lie-de-France.
  • 4. Notre-Dame Cathedral, Paris.
  • 5. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
  • 6. Arc de Triomphe.
  • 7. Champs Elysees, Paris.
  • 8. Orsay Museum, Paris.
  • 9. Chateau de Versailles, Lle-de-France.
  • 10. Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy
  • 11. Loire Valley Chateaux.
  • 12. War Memorial, Normandy.
  • 13. Pope’s Palace, Avignon, Provence.
  • 14. Vieux Port, Marseille.

TOP ACTIVITIES

  • 1. Water sports on French Riviera.
  • 2. Climbing Mont Blanc.
  • 3. Boating in Burgundy.
  • 4. Skiing in the French Alps.

What to eat and drink;

With its highly varied cuisine, served in elegant restaurants and old – fashioned bistros and given unique regional flavors, France is considered the epicurean centre of the world. Normandy is known for its dairy products, cider and calvados; champagne Ardennes for it famous champagne; Lorraine for quiche Lorraine; Brittany for crepes and seafood; Burgundy for wine; the South west and Pyrenees for foie gras, Truffles and red wine; Armagnac and Poitou for cognac; Alsace for its famous white Riesling wine.

What to buy; wine, champagne, cheese.

ABOUT PARIS AT LARGE;

Paris is much more than just the Eiffel Tower and Disneyland. Hopping on a Batobus along the Seine illuminates just why it has such a mythical reputation as a city of romance and culture. Arranged into twenty arrondissements, each area has its own unique flavor and atmosphere. Wander beyond the tropical tourist traps for a taste of the real Paris and a more affordable vacation.

  • 1. ATTRACTION;

Stealing a quick glimpse of the Mona Lisa may be the most you achieve with the huge number of tourists who flood the Louvre every day to take a photo with the world – renowned painting, but the museum has some 35,000 priceless objects to explore if you can manage, and the renaissance – style palace is also worth stopping to admire.

 

  • 2. BUILDING;

The centre Georges Pompidou with its “inside out” layout is one of the world’s most recognizable examples of modern architecture. It houses the National Modern Art Museum, a movie theatre, library, shops and performance space, and is the Ideal place to spend a few hours immersing yourself in French culture. If you are pushed for time, you can settle for a photo of the colorful Stravinsky Fountain in the adjoining square.

  • 3. SHOP;

For retail therapy, look no further than the glamorous tree - lined champs Elysees as it stretches towards the imposing Arc de Triomphe. The avenue is home to upscale stores and luxury brands as well as movie theatres, cafes and restaurants, and is popular with tourists and locals alike.

  • 4. EAT;

Thoumieux, the old – world bistro with French classics and a slick interior, won two Michelin stars when the restaurant was reopened in 2009 after an overhaul of the kitchen staff. Don’t necessarily expect the friendliest waiters in the world if you pay it a visit, but you will certainly enjoy efficient service, excellent food and potatoes to rival French chef Robuchon’s famous pommes puree.

  • 5. BAR;

During the day, Peniche Antipode is a canal boat which puts on theatre shows for kids, while in the evening it transforms into a music venue for everything from GYPSY jazz to electro DJs, or hosts improv and sketch – theatre nights. The bar on board serves only artisanal and fair – trade products, but has a drink for all TASTES.

  • 6. VIEW;

The sacre Coeur basilica on top of the Mont Martre hill is the highest point in Paris and offers panoramic views. The building was funded from contributions by Parisian Catholics as an act of contribution after the humiliating Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71. Some 234 spiraling steps lead to the basilica’s dome but for the most memorable sight, make the ascent at dusk to see all before you – including the Eiffel Tower – begin to sparkle.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN PARIS;

  • 1. EIFFEL TOWER;

A visit to Paris would not be complete without a trip up the iconic tower to experience the spectacular view from the top. The structure is particularly impressive at night when lit up every hour for five minutes, lending a sparkle to the inky Paris landscape.

 

  • 2. NOTRE DAME DE PARIS;

Although the crowds have settled down since the hype of the Da vinci code, this gothic cathedral is rarely quiet. Go early in the morning when it is least crowded or, to fully appreciate its true splendor, join one of the free organised tours to discover more about the architecture, sculptures, paintings and stained glass.

  • 3. SACRE COEUR;

The “sacred Heart” sits  atop the hill of Mont Martre, which is itself worth the walk up to the highest point in Paris. The basilica was built as a memorial to the French Soldiers killed during the Franco – Prussian war and took 46 years to complete. It was finally finished in 1923.

  • 4. MUSEE D’ ORSAY;

Situated in the 7th arrondissement on the left bank of the Seine, this is one of Paris’s premier art galleries. The museum, which was once a railway station, now features an impressive collection of art from 1848 – 1914 including Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Renoir, Gauguin and Degas.

  • 5. MUSEE PICASSO;

Housed in a stunning 17th - century mansion in the Marais.

  • 6. PARIS OPERA;

The 2,200 – seat Opera house is one of Paris’s most spectacular buildings. Built in 1875 in the neo – baroque style, the venue features a wide variety of opera, ballet and concerts. The opera national uses the high – tech Bastille for new productions.

  • 7. JAZZ VIBE;

Paris may no longer have the reputation for jazz it had in the 1950s and 1960s, but there is still a strong tradition with clubs such as Duc des Lombards, sunset – sun side, Autour de Midi and New Morning leading the way, while jazz club Etoile has been going for more than 30 years.

  • 8. LA GRANDE MOSQUEE DE PARIS;

Visitors may not be permitted into the worship area, but the building has an incredible Hammam and cafe underneath its green and white – domed roof, where sweet mint tea and syrupy cakes can be bought for just $3 to enjoy while you relax with a shisha pipe. Inside, it is incredibly good value for access to the baths, where you can enjoy exfoliation and a massage.

 

  • 9. LUXEMBOURG GARDENS;

There are strict rules in the 55 – acre gardens, such as no walking on the grass or ball games, but don’t let that put you off. The park features pony rides, a puppet theater, playground, vintage carousel, orchard and frequent free music performances, set among the many fountains and statues.

  • 10. YAM’ TCHA

The French – Cantonese fusion cuisine found here makes for a unique experience. In addition, instead of the traditional wine – pairing, the restaurant offers a set menu where each course is matched with the perfect tea.

  • 11. BISTROTTERS;

This tiny restaurant in Montparnasse makes up for its size with huge flavors and service offering beautifully cooked classis French fare – such as escargot and fois gras – without any pretence.

  • 12. PIERRE HERME;

Paris and patisserie go hand in hand and this is undoubtedly the best place in the city for macaroons. Try the signature passion fruit and chocolate flavor or sample the equally delicious tasting rose – infused croissant.

  • 13. LA SEINE;

A stroll along the river is quintessentially Parisian. The lifeblood of the French capital was formerly a major trade route, but today the river’s islands, bridges and quays evoke romantic visions of Paris.

  • 14. FETE DE LA MUSIQUE;

At the summer solstice each year, concerts take place on street corners; in bars, parks and theaters; and even on the balconies of apartment buildings.

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN LA CHAMPAGNE;

  • 1. POMMERY CHAMPAGNE AND VILLA DEMOISELLE;

A historical estate surrounded by gardens, pommery champagne’s cellar and villa are architectural symbols of Reims. The resplendent 18 km cellars and chalk caves hold over 20 million bottles, which can be sampled in the classy tasting room. On the opposite side of Boulevard Henry Vasnier is Villa Demoiselle, a grand art nouveau building, which houses a collection of 20th - century vintages.

 

 

  • 2. VILLAGE OF HAUTVILLERS;

Made up of narrow streets, church and abbey, lofty homes and facades adorned with wrought – Iron signs, the medieval village of Hautvillers is charming through and through. Surrounded by vineyards and forests, the village is famous as a result of a Benedictine Monk named Dom Perignon, who perfected the art of  wine making and paved the way for champagne. Dom Perignon’s tomb can be visited in the village chapel.

  • 3. BOAT TRIPS;

One of the most picture sque ways to discover La champagne’s old bridges and flower gardens is by boat along the Mau and Nau rivers. This alternative way to explore Chalons – en – champagne involves a leisurely waterway tour past everything from the historical old town to the medieval tanners’ and cloth makers' district.

  • 4. REIMS CATHEDRAL;

One of the Europe’s most important Gothic buildings, the 13th  century Notre – Dame de Reims Cathedral was one of the first monuments registered as a UNESCO world Heritage site. Once a coronation site for the kings of France, the cathedral’s towers rise to a height of 81m and its nave includes a vaulted ceiling some 38m high. The cathedral boasts rich statuary – of the 2, 303 statues, the most famous includes the “Smiling Angel”.

  • 5. PALACE OF TAU;

What was once a residence for the Archbishop of Reims and a lodging for the king and his retinue during coronations, the palace of Tau is now a prolific museum. Visitors can explore the coronation chalice, Charlemagne’s talisman and the cathedral treasure as well as 15th century tapestries, statuaries, precious stones and reliquaries.

  • 6. VERZENAY BEACON;

Situated in an expanse of fragrant vineyards, the phare de verzenay offers fairytale views over the Montagne de Reims wine growing estate. From the beacon, panoramas stretch across the sloping vineyards and onto verzenay village to the Southwest. The beacon’s vine museum also offers information on the world of champagne growing, including the varieties of grapes, appellation areas and the grapevine’s growth cycle.

FINLAND

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Helsinki

Main Cities: Espoo, Tampere

Population: 5,426,674 (As per the year 2012 estimates).

Currency: Euro = 100 cents. All major credit cards accepted. Exchange rate approximate (Euro – 0.73 = $1). Tipping (customary only for hotel and restaurant doormen and porters. A service charge is included automatically in hotel and restaurant bills. Barbers, hairdressers and taxi drivers do not expect tips.

Time: GMT +2

Electricity: 220 volts. Adapter required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the right. Head lights must be used at all times.

Public Holidays: Include January 1, 6; April 3, 5, 6; May 1, 10, 14, 24; June 19, 20; November 1, 8; December 6, 24, 25, 26.

Language: Finnish, with Swedish also spoken. English is widely spoken throughout the country.

Religion: Mainly Evangelical - Lutheran, also Eastern Orthodox.

Country Dial Code:  +358

Getting there: (Major gateways, including Helsinki Vantaa (HEL), Tampere (TMP), Turku (TKU), Rovaniemi (RVN), Kittila (KTL), Ivalo (IVL). Typical flying time from UK is 3 hours, while from New York is 8 hours.

Transfers: Helsinki (12 miles/19 km) local bus 45 minutes; Finnair bus 35 minutes; taxi 30 minutes; Tampere (12 miles/19 km) bus 40 minutes; taxi 20 minutes; Turku (8 miles/13km) bus 20 minutes; taxi 15 minutes.

Ports: Helsinki, Turku, Kemi, Kotka.

Getting Around: Capital city Helsinki’s public transport system comprises buses, trams and a single – line metro. Travel cards are available for use in the city, with one – day to five – day options. Trains connect the major Finnish cities. Travelers can purchase a Finn rail pass, which is available for three, five or 10 days within a month. Bus holiday tickets allow 1000 km of travel within a two-week period. There are also flights to other parts of the country.

Accommodation: There is no officials grading system for hotels in Finland, although throughout the country they are of a high standard, with breakfast usually included in overnight arrangements. The most original accommodations include Kemi snow castle, which has an ice bar, ice chapel and rooms made from snow and ice, and the Igbos made from snow,  ice and grass.

Climate: Finland’s climate is temperate, but with marked temperature variations and rainfall distributed throughout the year. Summer is warm and generally sunnier and drier than in the UK; Spring and autumn are mild; winter is mild in the Southern Finland and colder in the North, which has snow cover from December to May.

Major events;

  • 1. Oulu Children’s Theater Festival (February).
  • 2. Kokkola Winter Accordian Festival (February).
  • 3. Turku Jazz (March).
  • 4. Oulu Music Festival (March).
  • 5. Tampere Contemporary Dance Festival (April).
  • 6. Pori Jazz Festival (July).
  • 7. Savonlinna Opera Festival(July).
  • 8. Helsinki Festival (August/September).
  • 9. Helsinki Christmas Market (December).
  • 10. Naantali Music Festival (June).
  • 11. Sodankyla Film Festival (June).
  • 12. Mid-Summer Night Celebration, Seura saari, Helsinki (June).
  • 13. Folk Music Festival Somelo (July).
  • 14. Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival (July).
  • 15. Mikkeli Music Festival (July).
  • 16. Lahti Sibelius Festival (September).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN FINLAND;

  • 1. Santapark, Rovaniemi.
  • 2. Haltia, Espoo.
  • 3. Seurasaari Open – Air Museum.
  • 4. Suomenlina Island.
  • 5. Sarkanniemi Dolphinarium, Tampere.
  • 6. Helsinki Festival, Helsinki.
  • 7. Korkeasaari Zoo, Helsinki
  • 8. Santa’s Resort, Lapland.
  • 9. Moomin Theme Park, Naantali.
  • 10. Sarkanniemi Amusement Park – Angry Birds Park,  Tampere.
  • 11. Linnanmaki Amusement Park,  Helsinki.
  • 12. The Fortress of Suomenlinna, Helsinki.
  • 13. Temppeliaukio Rock Church, Helsinki.
  • 14. Uspensk Cathedral, Helsinki.

TOP ACTIVITIES;

  • 1. Bear Watching.
  • 2. Lake Cruises.
  • 3. River Rafting.
  • 4. Bird – Watching.
  • 5. Fishing.
  • 6. Hiking and Cycling.
  • 7. Ice Swimming.
  • 8. Snow Shoeing.
  • 9. Snowboarding.
  • 10. Downhill and cross – country skiing.
  • 11. Snow mobile safaris.
  • 12. Husky and reindeer safaris.

What to eat and drink;

Fine restaurants reflect the seasons; summer is for white fish with new potatoes, with crayfish coming into season at the end of July. In the fall, the menu contains game and great variety of mushrooms. Fish is available throughout the winter, caught in nets drawn between holes in the ice on lakes and the sea. The new Nordic Cuisine, with fresh, local ingredients, is very popular. The taste of Finnish food is often described as simple, pure and fresh because of the high – quality ingredients used.

Visa requirements: Finland is party to the Schengen Agreement. No visa required for stays of up 90 days. That period begins when entering any country party to the Schengen Agreement.

Health requirements: None

What to buy;

Glass, Leather goods, China, Ceramics, Jewellery and wooden decorations, all of renowned Finnish design; liqueurs made from berries,  smoked reindeer meat, bear pate, dried porcini and chanterelle mushrooms.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQUE);

  • 1. When and where can I enjoy the midnight sun?

Answer: Above the Artic circle from mid-May to the end of July, depending on the latitude. Even in the South of Finland, the nights are light around mid-summer.

  • 2. Is Finland expensive?

Answer: Prices are on a par with, and sometimes lower than, those in the UK. Helsinki prides itself on being the least expensive of Nordic capitals.

  • 3. What is the Santa Claus Connection?

Answer: As the home of Santa Claus, Lapland is possibly Finland’s best - known destination. Lapland also offers excellent opportunities for ski and snow holidays, with the snow season lasting from December until at least April.

FIJI (Former British Colony);

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Suva

Main cities: Lautoka, Nadi.

Population: 854,000 (As per the year 2010 estimates).

Currency: Fijian dollar (FJ$) = 100 cents. Major credit cards are accepted. Exchange rate (Approximate FJ$ 1.84 = $ 1). Tipping (Discretionary, but not encouraged).

Time: GMT + 12

Electricity: 240 volts. Adapter required.

Driving: Driving is on the right.

Public Holidays;  Include January 1, 3; April 3, 4, 6; June 8; October 10; November 11; December 25, 26; The list includes Muslim and Hindu festivals, the dates of which are approximate.

Language: English is the official language but Fijian dialects and Hindustani are also spoken.

Religion: Hindu and Methodist, with Muslim and Catholic minorities, Sikh and others.

Country Dial Code: + 679

Getting there: (Major gateways, including Nadi International Airport (NAN), Nausori International Airport, Suva (SUV). Typical flying time from Los Angeles, 11.5 hours, while from UK is 21 hours.

Transfers: Nadi (5 miles/8 km) bus 20minutes; taxi 10 minutes; Limousines and minivans also available.

Ports: Suva, Lautdica, Levura, Sauu Sauu, Malau (near the town of Labasa).

Visa requirements: Visas not required for visits of up to 4 months. You must have an onward or return ticket. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Fiji.

Health requirements: Yellow fever immunization is essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio are recommended.

FAROE ISLAND

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Torshavn.

Population: 48,509 (As per the year 2013 estimates).

Currency: Danish Kroner (DKK). Major credit cards are accepted. Exchange rate (Approximate DKK 8.87 = Sterling pound 1). Tipping (not customary. Service charge is normally included in the bill).

Time: GMT

Electricity: 220 volts. Adapter required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the right.

Public Holidays: Include January1; April 17, 18, 20, 21, 25; May 16, 29; June 5, 8, 9; July 28, 29; December 24, 25, 26, 31.

Language: Faroese. Danish and English are also spoken.

Religion: Lutheran.

Country Dial Code: +298.

Getting there: (Major gateway, including Vagar International Air Terminal (FAE). Typical flying time from New York, 10.5 hours via London, while from UK is 2 hours.

Transfers: Torshavn, bus 40 minutes.

Ports: Torshavn, Runavik, Klaksvik, Tvoroyri.

Getting Around: Buses link the airport to Torshavn. A system of ferries connects most Islands, with buses linking the various communities.

Climate: The Faroe Islands’ weather is maritime and quite changeable. Average temperatures range from 3C in winter to 11C in the summer.

Visa requirements: Visa is essential and needed.

Health requirements: No requirements.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN FAROE ISLANDS;

  • 1. Torshavn – the capital, with Reyni and Tinganes as highlights.
  • 2. Concerto grotto.
  • 3. The Island of Mykines.
  • 4. Musical events such as the G - festival and Summartonar. The latter sees live concerts staged all over the Faroe Islands every day during summer.
  • 5. Faroese National Art Gallery.
  • 6. Faroese Museum of History and the Open Air Museum in the Old Village Hoyvik.
  • 7. Bird cliffs, Vest Manna.
  • 8. Magnus Cathedral Ruins.
  • 9. Old harbor – Torshavn.
  • 10. Foroya Forn Minnissavn
  • 11. Listasavn Foroya.
FALKLAND ISLANDS

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Stanley.

Population: 2,563 (As per the year 2012 estimates).

Currency: Falkland Islands Pound (FI £1). US dollars, visa, mastercard, and travelers checks accepted by some outlets. There are no ATMs in the Falklands. Exchange rate (Approximate FI£ 0.58 = $1). Tipping (Not expected but appreciated); usually up to 10%

Time: GMT -3 all year round.

Electricity: 220/240 volts. No adapter required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the left.

Public Holidays: Include January 1; April 3, 21; June14; October 5; December 8, 25.

Language: English.

Religion: Christianity.

Country Dial Code: +500

Getting there: (Major gateway, including Mount Pleasant (MPN). Typical flying time from UK is 18 hours via Ascension Island by RAF Air Bridge.

Transfers: Stanley (35 miles/56 km) bus 45 minutes. Book your transfer in advance of travel.

Departure Taxi:  $ 33

Port: Stanley

Visa requirements: Visa is essential and required, but travellers must have proof of travel insurance (which needs to include aeromedical evacuation cover), sufficient funds and return ticket. Minimum six – month passport validity required.

Health requirements: Check with doctor if travelling via South America.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN FALKLAND ISLANDS;

  • 1. Stanley Museum
  • 2. Volunteer Point King Penguin Colony,  East Falkland.
  • 3. Darwin, Goose Green, San Carlos (East Falkland).
  • 4. Port Howard, West Falkland.
  • 5. Outer Island's including Sea Lion Island, Saunders Island, Weddel Island,  Carcass Island and Bleaker Island.
FRENCH GUIANA

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Cayenne.

Main Cities: Saint – Laurent – du – Maroni, Kourou.

Currency: Euro = 100 cents. Major credit cards are widely accepted. Exchange rate (approximate Euro 0.73 = $1). Tipping (in hotels and restaurants. 10% is normal).

Time: GMT -3

Electricity: 220 volts. Adapter required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the right. An international driving permit is recommended.

Public Holidays: Include January 1; February 17, 18; April 6; May 1, 8, 14, 25; June 10; July 14; August 15; October 15; November 1, 2, 11; December 25.

Language: French.

Religion: Catholic.

Country Dial Code: +594.

Getting there: (Major gateway, including Cayenne Rochambeau Airport (CAY)

Visa requirements: Visa is essential and required.

Health requirements: Yellow fever vaccination certificate required. Precautions against hepatitis A, and typhoid recommended; also malaria depending on area visited.

Climate: The climate is equatorial in French Guiana, with temperatures moderated by the trade winds. The average temperature is79F, with highs of 91F.

GERMANY

FAST FACTS

Capital: Berlin.

Main Cities: Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Dusseldorf, Dresden, Hannover, and Leipzig.

Population: 80,500,000 (As per the year 2013 estimates).

Currency: Euro = 100 cents. Major credit cards accepted. Exchange rate (approximate Euro 0. 73 = $ 1). Tipping (Service charge and VAT usually included in the bill. It customary to leave small change or tip an extra 5 – 10% if happy with the service).

Time: GMT + 1

Electricity: 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the right. The licence, vehicle registration documents and insurance papers must be kept with you at all times. The car is required to be equipped with a warning triangle and a first aid kit.

Public Holidays: Include January 1, 6; April 3, 6; May 1, 14, 25; June 4; August 15; October 3, 31; November 1, 18; December 25, 26. Additional bank holidays in some federal states.

Language: German. English is widely spoken.

Religion: Catholic and Protestant.

Country Dial Code: +49

Getting there: Major gateways,  including Berlin Schonefeld(SXF), Berlin Tegel (TXL), Bremen (BRE), Cologne/Bonn (CGN), Dortmund (DTM), Dresden (DRS), Dusseldorf (DUS), Frankfurt/Main (FRA), Hamburg (HAM), Hannover (HAJ), Karlsruhe/Baden (FKB), Leipzig (LEJ), Munich (MUC), Nuremberg (NUE), Stuttgart (STR), Hamburg Luebeck (LBC), Friedrichshafen (FDH), Basel/Freiburg (BSL), Altenburg/Leipzig (AOC), Moenchengladbach (MGL), Munster/Osnabrueck (FMO), Niederrhein (Weeze) (NRN), Paderborn (PAD). Typical flying time from UK is 1 hour 30 minutes, while from New York is 8.5 hours.

Transfers:Berlin Schonefeld (11 miles/18km) S – Bahn 9, 50 minutes; Airport Express Train (RE 7, RB 14) 30 minutes; taxi 40 minutes; Bremen (2 miles/3km) S – Bahn 6, 17 minutes; taxi 20 minutes; Cologne/Bonn (10 miles/17km, 14 miles/22km).  Airport Express Bus 617 to Bonn, 35 minutes; taxi to Bonn 15 minutes; S – Bahn 13 to Cologne, 36 minutes; bus 161 to cologne, 24 minutes; taxi to cologne 15 minutes; Dusseldorf (5 miles/8km) S – Bahn 7, 12 minutes; bus 721, 27 minutes; taxi 15 minutes. Frankfurt/Main (8 miles/12km) S- Bahn 8/9, 19 minutes; taxi 20 – 30 minutes; Hamburg (5 miles/8km). Airport Express Bus 25 minutes; taxi 25 minutes; Hannover (7 miles/12km) S – Bahn 5, 17 minutes; bus 470; taxi 20 minutes; Munich (22 miles/35km) S –Bahn 1/8, 45 minutes; bus 45 minutes; taxi 30 minutes; Stuttgart (11 miles/16km) S – Bahn 2/3, 27 minutes; taxi 25 minutes.

Ports: Bremen/Bremerhaven,  Cuxhaven, Hamburg, Kiel, Rostock/Warnemunde.

Visa requirements: Germany is party to the Schengen Agreement. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days. That period begins when entering any country party to the Schengen Agreement.

Health requirements: No requirements.

Climate: There are wide variations of climate between the northern and southern parts of Germany. The Baltic coast has harsher winters than the North Sea Coast, which has much milder conditions except when there is a bitter east wind. Inland, the eastern regions tend to endure colder winters, with low temperatures and heavy and prolonged snowfalls. Summers can be hot, especially in the south and east; rainfall tends to be evenly spread throughout the year.

Getting Around: The national rail network is operated by Deutsche Bahn (German Railways) and is one of the most extensive and advanced networks in Europe, with ICE trains running at speeds of 186 mph (300km/h). Public transport services are good throughout Germany; within a city, combined local transport tickets are valid on buses, trams and underground railways -  pay your fare prior to boarding using the automated ticketing machines found at the station entrance, at the stop and on platforms.

Accommodation: Germany offers a wide range of accommodation for travelers, from rooms in private houses to holiday flats and world – class luxury hotels. There is a voluntary star rating scheme for hotels and self – catering apartments as there is actually no independent body to award stars. Many travel agents and tour operators in the country use the official German Hotel Guide published by the German Hotel Association, DEHOGA, available from the German National Tourist Office (www.hotelsterne.de).

Major Events;

  • 1. Berlinale International Film Festival, Berlin (February).
  • 2. Carnival in Cologne, Dusseldorf, Bonn and Mainz (February/March).
  • 3. Thuringian Bach Festival in Eisenach, Erfurt, Weimar and other cities (March/April).
  • 4. Wagner Festival (July/August)
  • 5. Wine Festivals, Moselle and Rhine (Fall)
  • 6. Oktoberfest, Munich
  • 7. Christmas Markets in cities and towns all over Germany (during Advent, in the four weeks leading up to Christmas).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GERMANY

  • 1. Rhine and Moselle river cruises.
  • 2. Neuschwanstein castle, Bavaria.
  • 3. Museum Island in Berlin, with the Alte Museum, National Gallery, Bode Museum, Neues Museum and Pergamon Museum – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • 4. Reichstag, Berlin.
  • 5. Brandenburg Gate, Berlin.
  • 6. Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin.
  • 7. Palace and gardens at Sanssouci, Potsdam.
  • 8. Cologne Cathedral.
  • 9. Christmas Markets, Nuremberg, and Dresden.
  • 10. Allianz Arena, Munich.
  • 11. Rugen Cliffs, Rugen Island.
  • 12. Frauenkirche, Dresden.
  • 13. Oktoberfest, Munich.
  • 14. Heidelberg Old City.
  • 15. Romantic Road, with Rothenburg Obderjauber.
  • 16. Hamburg Docks and Fish Market.

What to eat and drink;

Germany has a huge variety of regional dishes and cuisines, although there is no national dish as such. Cold meats and sausages and a wide variety of breads, pastries and cakes, such as Black Forest gateau, are particularly prevalent. Beer is a popular drink and the best – known wines are from the Rhine and Moselle, as well as in Baden and Franconia.

What to buy;

Crystal, Porcelain, Glassware, Linen, Wines, Schnapps, Sweets, Biscuits, Chocolates, Christmas decorations, Beer.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN DUSSELDORF

  1. TUNNEL;

Check out the Kunstim Tunnel (KIT) gallery, located below the Rheinufer Promenade in an old underground road tunnel. Exhibitions are staged by young German and international artists in the submarine – shaped gallery.

  1. KILLEPITSCH;

This local liquor, produced only in Dusseldorf, is blood red in color and made from a combination of 90 fruits, berries,  spices and herbs. The best place to buy yourself a shot is the Et kabuffke bar, where you can bond with locals over their favorite poison.

  1. OLD TOWN;

This area is known as “the longest bar in the world”,  with more than 300 bars and clubs packed into the compact Old Town, and serving the Dusseldorf speciality Altbier. It also offers cobblestone squares, St Lambertus Basilica, the Hofgarten and a statue of Jan Wellem in the market square.

  1. BENRATH PALACE;

An 18th – century grand palace, set in a huge landscaped park and housing three museums. Exploring the gardens, house and science museum makes for a great family day out.

  1. MEDIEN HAFEN;

The newest city landmark, this former harbor has been transformed by innovative new architectural masterpieces that sit next to the preserved old quay walls and rail tracks.

  1. PANORAMA;

Catch fantastic sweeping views across the city from the viewing platform of the Rhine Tower, then eat in the Gunnewig revolving restaurant one floor up. The tower also boasts the world’s largest decimal clock in the form of a light display along its shaft.

  1. KIRMES;

Every July, Dusseldorf holds the largest fair on the Rhine. More than four million visitors a year enjoy rides, traditional beer and food tents, plus a huge parade.

  1. CHRISTMAS MARKETS;

From November 22 each year, Dusseldorf’s various squares turn into spell binding markets for the holiday season.

  1. JAPAN;

Dusseldorf hosts the largest Japanese Community in Germany. Here you can find the EKO House of Japanese Culture, which has a large Japanese garden, traditional tea room, Buddhist temple,  and study center where events are held.

 

 

 

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN FRANKFURT

  1. MAIN TOWER;

At 200m tall and boasting an Observation platform on the 56th floor, Main Tower offers the best views of Frankfurt city center. The lift takes just 45 seconds and is a less exhausting option than the 1,000 stairs. Expect airport – tight security and be warned, the Tower closes during thunderstorms. Although the building is mainly occupied by businesses, there is a restaurant and cocktail lounge on the 53rd floor that is the ideal place to go watch the sunset.

  1. MUSEUM OF MODERN ART;

This contemporary art museum showcases an array of temporary exhibitions. The permanent collection is not always on display, but includes works by Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and Joseph Beuys. The triangular building – known locally as the “slice of cake” – spans European and US art from the 1960s to present day.

  1. OLD JEWISH CEMETERY;

According to Jewish beliefs, tombstones should never be removed or dismantled. The cemetery upholds this belief and over – crowding proves a serious problem.  About a third of the gravestones date back to the 13th century, having survived Nazi rule, while the remainder sit on top of one another and lean in all sorts of directions. The key is available for collection from the museum Judengasse, in exchange for your ID as a deposit. And be sure to bring a pebble to leave on Wand der Namen, the cemetery’s exterior wall, inscribed with the names of 11,000 Frankfurt Jews who died in the Holocaust. The pebble serves to commemorate the deceased.

  1. FRANK FURTER DOM

The “imperial cathedral” in main central, has been called a cathedral since the 18th century, despite never actually housing a bishop. The building was badly damaged during a fire in 1867 and was later raided during the second world war. Its present – day neo – gothic exterior was refurbished in 1948, while its most recent restoration in 1994 gave it its rose – pink – interior. Atop the tower sits a magnificent panoramic view, rewarding visitors who climb 324 steps.

  1. RIVER FRONT PROMENADE;

Walking the grassy banks along the main River is ideal for a sunny day. Lovers linger at the Eisernersteg Bridge to admire the view and fasten a lock to fence. It is already adorned with thousands of locks, engraved with the names of couples, who throw away the key upon fastening as a way of expressing their long – term commitment to one another.

 

 

  1. GAY AND LESBIAN MEMORIAL;

In the heart of Frankfurt Main lies the angel – shaped gay and Lesbian memorial, commemorating the many homosexuals killed by the Nazis. It is no coincidence that the angel’s heard is nearly detached from the body.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN MEISSEN;

Meissen was founded in 929 and has preserved much of its rich history. The Old Town has many examples of renaissance architecture, while the cathedral, castle and Frauenkirche are beautiful gothic structures. Built around the meandering River Elbe, Meissen offers the twin draws of small – town charm and world – class pottery.

  1. ATTRACTION

The Porzellan – Manufaktur (porcelain factory) demonstrates the centuries – old process of Meissen pottery production. The city became renowned as the first porcelain manufacturer in Europe in 1710 and everything is still made by hand, as is the intricate paint work that Meissen pottery became famous for. Take an audio – guided tour of the factory and the on – site museum to learn more. Occasionally the factory stages concerts using the world’s only porcelain pipe organ.

  1. BUILDING;

It was in Albrechtsburg, the gothic castle which towers above town, that the very first porcelain was produced. King Augustus II had urged his alchemists to find the secret to making gold, but instead one of them discovered a method for creating fine porcelain and production began immediately. Visit the castle on the hill today to see its many frescos and two beautifully restored ballrooms.

  1. SHOP;

You can’t go to Meissen without bringing home some of its world famous pottery. The best is to be found at the porcelain factory, where you can also purchase a whole range of items such as jewellery and accessories to take with you.

  1. RESTAURANT;

The Domkeller tavern has been in operation since 1470, and still serves traditional regional food and drink. The highlight of a meal here is the beef goulash, served in a hollowed – out loaf. Try eating it on the terrace, which has views across the river and is positioned next to the city’s cathedral.

  1. BAR;

Sip a brew in the sunny biergarten of the Hotel Burgkeller, which has a patio overlooking the whole Meissen and much of the Elbe Valley. Saxony is a big wine producer and Meissen produces some of the region’s finest bottles, using only grapes from the vineyards in the river valley. Don’t miss out on a chance to sample some.

  1. VIEW;

The Frauenkirche (church of our lady) in the old market place was built from 1416 and opened around 1500. The domed tower was added in 1549, and in 1929 it became the first church in the world to feature a payable porcelain carillon with porcelain bells – 37 in total. They are still played six times every day. Built in a flamboyant gothic style, the church has a 185 ft. tower that affords magnificent views over the town and offers the perfect spot to listen to the wonderful ring of the bells. The church itself is still in regular use, but visitors are always welcome.

GREECE

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Athens.

Main Cities: Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion.

Population: 11,200,000 (As per the year 2012 estimates).

Currency: Euro = 100 cents. Credit cards accepted. Exchange rate (approximate Euro 0.73 = $ 1). Tipping (Generally between 10% and 15% for most services).

Time: GMT + 2

Electricity: 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the right.

Public Holidays: Include January 1, 6; February 23; March 25; April 10, 13; May 1; June 1; August 15; October 28; December 25, 26.

Language: Greek.

Religion: Christian Orthodox.

Country Dial Code: + 30

Getting there: Major gateways – including Athens International Airport, Spata (ATH), Thessaloniki Macedonia (SKG), Rhodes (RHO), Corfu (CFU), Heraklion – crete (HER), Kefalonia (EFL), Zante (ZTH). Typical flying time from New York, 9.5 hours, while from UK is 3 hours 30 minutes.

Transfers; Athens (9miles /14km) airport buses to Syntagma square and Omonia square 30 minutes, and to Piraeus 30 – 40 minutes; taxi to city 30 minutes. Airport train to the city 25 minutes. Thessaloniki (10miles/16km) bus 50 minutes, taxi 30 minutes.

Departure Taxi: Euro 12.15 (international), Euro 8.51 (domestic).

Ports: Athens (Piraeus), Thessaloniki, Patras.

Getting Around: Athens has a metro, suburban railway, bus and trolley bus services. Taxi rates are displayed at ranks, but travelers should always ensure the meter is turned on at the start of the journey.

Visa requirements: Greece is party to the Schengen Agreement. No visa required for stays of up to 90 days. That period begins when entering any country party to the Schengen Agreement.

Health requirements: None

Climate: Mainland Greece and its islands have hot and dry summers with up to 12 hours’ sunshine a day, while sea breezes help to reduce temperatures on the coast and islands, the larger cities, such as Athens and Thessaloniki, can become oppressively hot, with high humidity. Spring and autumn are far more comfortable, but winters, especially in the north of the country, can be chilly.

Accommodation:

Greece offers a wide choice of accommodation for travelers, ranging down in price from luxury hotels to rooms in private houses, particularly on the islands. The Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO) licenses hotels, rooms to let, apartments, villa complexes, campsites and youth hostels. Greek hotels now carry a rating between one and five stars.

Major events;

  • 1. Athens Epidaurus Festival (Spring/Summer).
  • 2. Rock Wave Festival, Athens (July).
  • 3. Carnival in Greece (March).
  • 4. International Book Fair, Thessaloniki (May).
  • 5. Miaoulia Festival, Island of Tinos (June).
  • 6. International Jazz & Blues Festival, Athens (June).
  • 7. Nafplio Festival (June).
  • 8. Hellenic Festival, Athens (June to September).
  • 9. Santorini Jazz Festival (July).
  • 10. Ancient Olympia International Festival (July/August).
  • 11. Chania Summer Festival, Crete (July to September).
  • 12. Heraklion Summer Festival, Crete (July to September).
  • 13. International Music Festival of Santorini (September).
  • 14. Dimitria, Thessaloniki (October).
  • 15. International Thessaloniki Film Festival, Thessaloniki (November).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GREECE;

  • 1. The Acropolis of Athens, Attica.
  • 2. Athens’ museums – learn about more than 5,000 years of civilization.
  • 3. Mount Lucabettus and hiking in the heart of Athens.
  • 4. Sunday morning flea market, plaka, Athens.
  • 5. Minoan Palace of Knossos, Crete.
  • 6. Delphi, Fokis.
  • 7. Royal Tombs of Vergina, Macedonia
  • 8. Mystras, Peloponnesus.
  • 9. Epidaurus Theatre, Peloponnesus.
  • 10. Ancient Olympia, Peloponnesus.
  • 11. Meteora, Thessaly.
  • 12. Lindos, Rhodes.
  • 13. Thira Volcano, Santorini.
  • 14. Kos.
  • 15. Corfu, the garden isle of Greece.
  • 16. Plakias.
  • 17. Hydra, one of the most beautiful island towns.
  • 18. Patmos, where St John is reputed to have written the Book of Revelations.
  • 19. Meteora, monasteries atop sheer rock make for a stunning spiritual site.
  • 20. Samaria Gorge, Crete.
  • 21. Temple of Poseidon.
  • 22. Santorini.

What to eat and drink;

Olive oil, lemons and herbs typify Greek Cooking. Olives, Keftedakia (meatballs), dolmades (vine leaves with seasoned rice), stuffed peppers and aubergines, feta cheese, yoghurt and honey, and candied fruit are other mainstays of Greek cuisine. To drink, Greek wine and Ouzo.

What to buy: Leather goods, jewellery, fashion, Ouzo.

Frequently Asked Questions (Faque)

  1. How can I find timetables and ticket prices for public transport in Greece?

Answer: See the following websites trains (www.ose.gr), ferries (www.gtp.gr), Athens Metro (www.ametro.gr).

  1. Where can I find out about Greek Hotels?

Answer: Visit www.grhotels.gr

  1. How many Greek islands are there?

Answer: Around 2,000, of which 154 are inhabited.

  1. Where can I play Golf?

Answer: There are golf courses in Athens, Halkidiki, Corfu, Rhodes, Crete and the Peloponnese.

  1. Are there facilities for scuba diving?

Answer: Following legislation passed in 2005, diving is now possible almost everywhere for certified divers, although night dives must be conducted with a dive centre. There are however, strict laws against the removal of any antiquities you come across in the water. Amateurs or those needing to brush up on their skills can take lessons at the numerous scuba diving centres and vessels operating throughout the country.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN ATHENS;

  1. ACROPOLIS & ACROPOLIS MUSEUM

This hill top temple dedicated to the goddess Athena is one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks. Go early in the morning or late afternoon to escape the crowds and the worst heat. The admission ticket to the Acropolis will permit access to several other sites in Athens, including the ancient Agora and open – air Theatre of Dionysus. The Acropolis Museum provides an excellent introduction for visitors, with multimedia exhibits depicting life in Ancient Greece and a collection of treasures found on and around the Acropolis site.

  1. NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM;

Without doubt one of the world’s greatest museums, the national archaeological museum is home to statues, frescoes, jewelry and pottery from all over the ancient Greek world. Set aside a minimum of two hours for a glimpse of the 11,000 – plus items on display here. Also, keep an eye out for the often excellent temporary exhibitions.

  1. ANCIENT AGORA;

Once the commercial, political and religious center of Athens, the Ancient Agora is considered to be the birthplace of democracy, where assemblies and legal proceedings were held. Thought  to date back to the sixth or seventh century BC, it is now one of the city’s most popular archeological sites, with visitors able to explore the courts, temples and monuments.

  1. BYZANTINE CHURCHES;

Visit the distinctive Byzantine Churches scattered around the central part of Athens. Pantanassa church is sited in the ever - busy Monastiraki square, while the 11th century Kapnikarea church can be found in the center of Ermou street.

  1. PLAKA;

Lose yourself in the narrow lanes of historic Plaka, near the Acropolis, and admire the impressive, if slowly fading, grandeur of the district’s neoclassical houses. Visit the centre of Folk, Art and Tradition (free admission) to see how a typical Plaka mansion may have looked in the 19th century.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN RHODES;

The largest island in the Dodecanese group, Rhodes is known as the Island of the sun and its capital, the city of Rhodes, is like a coin with two faces. One face is the old town, surrounded by medieval walls and crossed by the street of the Knights’ auberges, the hospital of the knights and the Palace of the Grand Master. The other face is the modern city with its intense nightlife, broad streets, beautiful buildings, large hotels and hundreds of shops where anything and everything can be found. The island is packed with must see attractions, from the many fabulous beaches to a wealth of archaeological sites, including the valley of the Butterflies, the ruins of ancient Rhodes and the Acropolis of Lindos.  South east of Rhodes lies the island of Kastellorizo, whose eponymous capital is built like an amphitheatre and reaches right down to the water front. A small island, it contains important sights such as the Blue Grotto, one of the most gorgeously coloured caves in Greece, and the Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helena. Between Leros and Ikaria lies Patmos, often dubbed the Jerusalem of the Aegean due to the island’s atmosphere during the major christian festivals. Here, in one of many caves, St John is said to have had his vision of the Apocalypse. An imposing monastery devoted to the saint dominates the Island’s skyline, towering above the picturesque houses and mansions below, which almost appear to be “hooked” to the roots of the monastery. The building was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Visitors’ memories of Patmos will be enhanced by an excursion to its rocky coves and pleasant shores, before passing over to the nearby islets of Fourni, Lipsi and Agathonissi. Lipsi is particularly attractive, with enchanting beaches and traditional fish tavernas offering local wine. Grey, gold and green, framed by the blue of the sea and the sky, are the colours that make up Kalimnos; naked rock, golden beaches and verdant valleys. The capital Pothia is known for its distinctive multicoloured houses and there are picturesque villages, thermal springs and idyllic spots for swimming, fishing and relaxing all over the island.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CRETE;

  1. RETHYMNON;

This city is divided into old and new districts, the former showing particular charm with its paved alleyways, arched doorways and stone staircases. Dominated by the huge venetian fortress that overlooks the city, Rethymnon also contains picturesque 16th – century buildings, Byzantine and Hellenic – Roman remains, and the superb municipal gardens. Venetian and Turkish influences abound, with minarets and domed mosques making the neighborhood eminently photogenic.

 

 

  1. CHANIA;

Despite growing number of visitors, this charming town has managed to keep its local and authentic colour. Most popular are the Venetian Castle and the harbor with its waterfront tavernas, fine restaurants and quality accommodation in beautifully restored buildings. Venetian and Turkish influences are again apparent in Chania, with narrow stone paved alleys and backstreets where you can find good shopping opportunities if you are tempted by Cretan handcrafts such as rugs, blankets, wall hangings and the intricate embroidery for which Crete is famous.

  1. HERAKLION;

The administrative, commercial, industrial and agricultural centre of the Island. Heraklion is home to around 125,000 people. With its chic restaurants and lively cafes this bustling urban centre provides a major contrast to the peaceful towns of Chania. Rethymnon and Agios Nikolaos, it is perhaps best known for the nearby Minoan ruins of Knossos, the centre of the ancient civilization.

  1. AGIOS NIKOLAOS;

The capital of the prefecture of Lassithi is situated in part of Crete that abounds with small towns and picturesque mountains villages. Built on Mirabello Bay. Agios Nikolaos is a city where old buildings harmoniously blend with modern architecture. Local tourist attractions include the bijou lake voulismeni, a string of small beaches, the tiny island of Agioi pantes, a fascinating archaeological museum, and numerous fairs.

  1. ELOUNDA;

This small town is known for its luxury resorts, but is not short of traditional charm,  with waterfront restaurants and fine sea views. Offshore is the island of Spinalonga, where in 1579 the venetians built a mighty fortress.

  1. TOUR DESTINATIONS IN CORFU;

This breathtaking island has a green and mountainous interior with a mild climate suitable for mountain biking, trekking and horse riding. Beaches are dotted around the entire coastline with the pristine clear waters of the lonian sea attracting a variety of water enthusiasts. A sunny climate and rise in direct, no-frills flights has contributed to making this a popular holiday destination among all ages with lively nightlife in resorts such as Kavos and Ipsos. Meanwhile, parts of Corfu town have been designated a UNESCO heritage site.

  1. ATTRACTION;

The Asian Art Museum is housed in the neoclassical building of the palace of St Michael & St George and features a remarkable collection of artefacts from China, Japan, Tibet, Cambodia, Thailand, Pakistan and India. Browse over 10,500 items including paintings, sculptures, Jewellery, musical instruments, armour and weaponry.

  1. BUILDING;

One of the most famous buildings is Achilian palace, built in 1890. This magnificent edifice has many classical features and a mythical atmosphere. Admire elegant paintings and classical Greek statues before taking a leisurely stroll in the gardens overlooking the sea and Corfu town.

  1. SHOP;

Visitors can buy everything from olives to typical tourist trinkets in Corfu city where many of the best shops are tucked away down the side streets and seeking them out is a fun way to explore the old town. Visit in the morning when the fish and vegetable market is open.

  1. EAT;

Corfu’s many culinary highlights include traditional dishes such as pastitsada (rooster meat cooked in a delicious spicy sauce), sofrito (Veal cooked in a stew) and stifado (rabbit in a red sauce). Try these dishes at Taverna Nikolas on Agni beach and wash the satisfying Greek food down with some excellent Corfu wine.

  1. BAR;

For those who want to party, the wave Bar at Marathias will provide plenty of action with local DJs and dancing. For something more chilled there are numerous lounge bars by the beach where you can sip a cocktail and enjoy the sunset.

  1. VIEW;

The most remarkable view is from Mount Pantokrater, where you can see the southern islands of Paxos and Antipaxo on one side and the northern islands Mathraki and Erracusa on the other. You can even glimpse the tip of Italy.

GREENLAND

FAST FACTS

Capital: Nuuk.

Population: 56,452 (As per the year 2010 estimates).

Currency: Danish Kroner (DKK) = 100 ore. Most major credit cards accepted in towns. Exchange rate (approximate DKK 5.47 = $ 1). Tipping (Service is included in the price).

Time: GMT - 3

Electricity: 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving: On the right.

Public Holidays: Include January 1, 6; April 2, 3; May 1, 14, 25; June 21; December 24, 25, 26, 31.

Language: Greenlandic, Danish. Also English.

Religion: Lutheran.

Country Dial Code: +299

Health requirements: Precautions against hepatitis are recommended.

Visa requirements: Greenland is party to Schengen Agreement. No visa required for stays of up to 90 days. That period begins when entering any country party to the Schengen Agreement.

Climate: Severe conditions. Brief summer (maximum 10c – 18c in the south, 5c – 10c in the north); temperatures in winter fall to – 20c in the south and – 40c in the north. Annual rainfall is 800 - 900 mm in the south and 110 mmm in the north.

Getting there: (Major gateways, including Narsarsuaq (UAK), Kangerlussuaq(SFJ),  Keflavik, Iceland (KEF). Typical flying time from UK is 6 hours via Copenhagen.

Ports: Upernavik, Ilulissat, Sisimint, Nuuk, Narsaq Qaqortoq Nanor Talik, Tasiilaq.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GREENLAND;

  • 1. Trekking and dog – sledding.
  • 2. Helicopter trip to the Icecap.
  • 3. Cruises among the Icebergs.
  • 4. Greenlandic culture.
  • 5. Northern lights.
  • 6. The midnight sun.
  • 7. Fjords.
  • 8. Whale watching.
  • 9. Pioneering people.
  • 10. Ice and snow.
GRENADA

FAST FACTS;

Capital: St George’s.

Population: 104, 000 (As per the year 2010).

Currency: Eastern Caribbean dollar (EC$). US dollars and credit cards widely accepted. Exchange rate (approximate EC$ 2.70 = $ 1). Tipping (A 10% service charge is usually added).

 

Time: GMT - 4

Electricity: 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the left. A full driving licence is required as well as a local permit, available from local traffic departments/police stations for $ 11. Most car rental forms issue permits.

Public Holidays: Include January 1; February 7; April 3, 6; May 1, 25; June 4; August 3, 10; October 25; December 25, 26.

Language: English.

Religion: Catholic, Anglican,  and Methodist.

County Dial Code: + 1473

Visa requirements: Visa is essential and required.

Health requirements: Yellow fever certificate required from travelers arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid and polio recommended.

Climate: Grenada’s temperature range is; January to December maximum 30 - 32c, minimum 23 – 30c.  The driest period is January – May. The rainy season June – September.

Getting there: (Major gateway, including Maurice Bishop International Airport (GND). Typical flying time from UK is 9 hours 30 minutes, while from Miami is 6 hours via Port of Spain.

Transfers: St George’s (6 miles/11km) taxi 10 minutes.

Ports: St George’s Melville street Cruise Terminal.

GUADELOUPE

FAST FACTS

Capital: Basse – Terre

Population: 451, 000 (As per the year 2012 estimates).

Currency: Euro = 100 cents. Exchange rate approximate Euro 0. 73 = $ 1. Tipping (10% is the norm).

Time: GMT - 5

Electricity: 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving: On the right. National licence accepted.

Public Holidays: Include January 1, 6; February 18; April 6; May 1, 8, 14, 25, 27; July 14, 21; August 15; November 1, 11; December 25.

Language: French; Also Creole dialect.

Religion:  Mainly Catholic, with Protestant and also Hindu minorities.

Country Dial Code: + 590

Visa requirement: Visa is essential and required.

Health requirements: Yellow fever certificate required by travelers from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, polio and typhoid are recommended.

Climate: Tropical climate, tempered by year – round trade winds. Temperatures average between 21c and30c. Dry season is January to April and humid season July to November. In the humid season, precipitation and storms are more frequent.

Getting there: (Major gateway, including Guadeloupe Pole Caraibes International Airport (PTP). Typical flying time from UK is 10 hours, while form Miami is 3.1 hours.

Ports: Pointe – a – Pitre, Basse – Terre.

Getting Around: All islands within French Island group are mere 20 to 45-minute boat ride away.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GUADELOUPE;

  • 1. Beaches (St Anne, Le Moule and St Francois on Grande – Terre, plus Grande Anse).
  • 2. Musee du Rhum (rum museum), near Ste Rose.
  • 3. Mountains of the Parc National de la Guadeloupe.
  • 4. Commandant Cousteau Reserve.
  • 5. Carbet waterfalls.
  • 6. La Soufriere volcano.
GUAM

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Hagatna.

Population: 180,000 (As per the year 2010 estimates).

Currency: US dollar. All major credit cards accepted. Tipping (10% is expected).

Time: GMT +10

Electricity: 120 volts. No adaptor required

Driving: On the right.

Public Holidays: Include January 1, 19; February 16; March 2; April 3; May 25; July 4, 21; September 7; October 12; November 2, 11, 26; December 8, 25;

Language: English, Chamorro.

Religion: Catholic majority.

Country Dial Code: + 1671

Visa requirements: Visa is vital and required.

Health requirements: Precautions against hepatitis A and typhoid recommended.

Climate: Generally hot and very humid with little seasonal temperature variation. Temperatures range from 76 F to 86 F, with an average annual rainfall of 96 ins. The dry seasons runs from December through to June.

Getting there: (Major gateway, including Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport, Guam (GUM). Typical flying time from Hawaii is 7 hours.

Port: Apra Harbor.

Getting Around: Bus services operate to most villages on the island. Car hire is available.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GUAM

  • 1. Hagatna, the capital city.
  • 2. Top dive sites.
  • 3. White sandy beaches.
  • 4. Turquoise and Tranquil seas.
  • 5. Remains of buildings from the Spanish Colonial era
  • 5. Plaza de Espana.
  • 6. Two Lovers Point.
GUATEMALA

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Guatemala City.

Main Cities: Quezaltenango, Villanueva.

Population: 14,361,666 (As per the year 2010 estimates).

Currency: Quetza (Q) = 100 centavos. Visa and American Express are widely accepted. Diners club and Master card less so. Currency and travelers checks should be in US dollars. Exchange rate (Approximate Q 7.78 = $ 1). Tipping (10% is normal in restaurants where service in not included in the bill).

Time: GMT - 6

Electricity: 110 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving: On the right. International permit required.

Public Holidays: Include January 1; April 3, 4, 6; May 1; June 30; August 15; September 15; October 20; November 1; December 24, 25, 31.

Language: Spanish, Plus 22 Indigenous languages.

Religion: Catholic, with Protestant minority.

Country Dial Code: + 502

Visa requirements: Visa is essential and required.

Health requirements: Yellow fever immunisation essential if arriving from an infected area. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid, dengue fever and polio recommended; also malaria, depending on the area visited.

Climate: Due to the range of altitudes, Guatemala’s climate varies greatly. In the highlands, the dry season is from November to April and the wet season from May to October. On both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts there is rain year – round; this is heaviest on the pacific side in June and September.

Getting there: (Major gateways, including La Aurora Guatemala City (GUA), Mundo Maya, Flores (FRS)). Typical flying time form Miami, 2.5 hours, while from UK is 12 – 15 hours. No direct flights.

Transfer: Guatemala City (4miles/6km) taxi 20 minutes;

Departure Taxi: US $ 30, usually included in the ticket price.

Ports: Puerto Barrios, Puerto Quertzal, S. Tomas de Castilla.

Accommodation: Hotels cater for all budgets, from five – star to backpacker accommodation. There are campsites near Tikal, Peten. Casa Santo Domingo is a spectacular colonial monastery converted into a hotel, while Ram Tzul in Coban has ecologically designed jungle lodges.

Major Events;

  • 1. Semana santa, Antigua Guatemala and Guatemala City (Easter).
  • 2. Rabin Ajau Folkloric Festival in Coban, Alta Verapaz (July).
  • 3. Festival of Abaj Takalik (Paabanc), coban (August).
  • 4. Giant kites in Santiago Sacatepequez (November).
  • 5. Downhill Horse Race, Todos Santos Cuchumatan (November).
  • 6. Solstice and Equinox Festival at Uaxactun Mayan site, Peten (March 21, June 21, September 21, and December 21).
  • 7. Flying Stick Festival, Chichicastenango (December).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GUATEMALA;

  • 1. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Maya Site of Tikal.
  • 2. Meet the indigenous Maya Community and learn their traditions in Chichi castenango, Santiago Atitlan.
  • 3. Climb to the summit of Tajumulco volcano.
  • 4. Go windsurfing on Rio Dulce and Lakes Izabal and Atitlan.
  • 5. Take a boat journey from Livingstone along the Rio Dulce to Amatique Bay.
  • 6. Fishing on the lakes Izabal and El Peten.
  • 7. Drink coffee in Coban, capital of the Alta Verapaz Department, or Antiqua.
  • 8. Travel on Horseback, by bicycle, on foot or by four – wheel – drive vehicle from Quetzaltepeque to Jalapa.
  • 9. Take a beautiful drive into the mountains around Huehuetenango.
  • 10. Enjoy ghoulish festivities for the day of the dead (All souls’ day) on November 1.
  • 11. Visit Totonicapan during the week celebrating the feast days of San Miguel Arcangel (September 24 – 30).
  • 12. Visit San Miguel & Tayazal.
  • 13. Visit the remains of great stone heads and other carved reliefs in the sugar cane fields of Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa.
  • 14. Tour Finca Santa Margarita, a working coffee farm.

What to eat and drink;

Maya cuisine and ancient local traditions are at the heart of Guatemalan cooking. Frijol (beans) and corn are the base for most meals, with meat, cheese, avocado, rice and spices. Traditional dishes are found alongside fine cuisine.

GUYANA

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Georgetown.

Main Cities: Linden, New Amsterdam, Port Kaituma.

Populations: 784,894 (As per the year 2010 estimates).

Currency: Guyana dollar (G$) = 100 cents. US dollars accepted; also most credit cards. Exchange rate (Approximate G$ 207 = $ 1. Tipping (10% for good service).

Time: GMT - 4

Electricity: 110 volts. No adaptor required.

Driving: On the left. International permit required.

Public Holidays: include January 1, 3; February 23; March 5; April 3, 6; May 1, 5, 26; July 6, 18; August 1; September 23; November 11, December 25; Also Muslim and Hindu festivals – as well as Christian, the dates varying from year to year.

Language: English, Creole, Plus Amerindian dialects.

Religion: Christian and Hindu, with Muslim minority.

Country Dial Code: + 592

Visa requirements: Visa is essential and required.

Health Requirements: Yellow fever certificate if arriving from an infected area. Hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid, polio and malaria immunisation are recommended. Risk of malaria is high in rural areas, but Georgetown and New Amsterdam are malaria – free.

Climate: The country is hot year - round, but this is tempered by Atlantic breezes. The climate is characterised by generally high rainfall and humidity. The rainy seasons in Guyana are from November to January and between April and August.

Getting there: (Major gateway, including Cheddi Jagan International Airport (GEO), 25 miles/40km from Georgetown. Typical flying time from Miami, 5.5 hours, while from UK is 8 hours.

Departure Taxi: G$ 4,000 (US$ 20).

Port: Georgetown.

Major Events;

  • 1. Mashramani, a carnival type celebration for Republic Day (February).
  • 2. Independence Day (May).
  • 3. Amerindian Heritage Month (September).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GUYANA;

  • 1. Georgetown; St George’s Cathedral, the neo – classical parliament building, Botanical Gardens and Zoo.
  • 2. Kaieteur and Orinduik Falls.
  • 3. Ruined Dutch fortress of Kyk-over-Al.
  • 4. Amerindian Villages.
  • 5. Shea Rock.
  • 6. Lethem Rodeo at Easter.

 

What to eat and drink;

Guyana’s cuisine shows many influences – ranging from Indian curries to Portuguese stews, as well as some Amerindian dishes, African plantain and coconut cooking, and Chinese noodles and fried rice. Rum is popular.

What to buy;

Gold and Silver, jewellery, wood carvings, straw craft, rum.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQUE);

  1. Where is Guyana?

Answer: Guyana is a small state on North Coast of South America. It borders Venezuela to the west, Brazil to the south and Suriname to the east across the Courentyne River. The country gets its name from an Amerindian word that mean “Land of many waters

  1. What is the link with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?

Answer: Mt Roraima,  Guyana’s highest peak in the Pakaraima Mountains that straddle the country’s western border, was the inspiration for sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous novel – the Lost World.

  1. Is Guyana’s wildlife varied?

Answer: It includes Manatees and Capybaras in and around the rivers, Sloths and Jaguars in the forests, and giant anteaters and armadillos on the savannah.

  1. How high is Kaieteur Falls?

Answer: In the Kaieteur National Park, the falls are 822ft. high, with a sheer drop of 741ft. and width of 361ft.

GAMBIA

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Banjul.

Main Cities: Serrekunda, Farafenni, Basse, Brikama, Bakau.

Population: 1,751,000 (As per the year 2010 estimates).

Currency: Dalasi (GMD) = 100 butut.  Travellers cheques are accepted, but there is limited use of credit cards. Exchange rate (Approximate GMD 39.10 = $ 1). Tipping (Optional. A service charge is occasionally included in the hotel or restaurant bill, otherwise 10% is considered an appropriate amount).

Time: GMT

Electricity: 220 volts. No adaptor required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the right. An international driving permit is required.

Public Holidays: Include January 1, 3; February18; April 3, 6; May 1; July 18., 22; August 15; September 23; December 25.

Language: The official language is English. Local languages are Mandinka, Fula, Wollof, Jola, Serere, Serahule, Manjango and Creole.

Religion: Mainly Muslim; also Christian and animist.

Country Dial Code:  +220.

Visa requirements: Visa is important and needed. You may be allowed to enter and given two days to obtain a visa form the Department of Immigration in downtown Banjul.

Health requirements: Yellow fever vaccination certificate required by those arriving from endemic or infected areas. Precautions against hepatitis A, typhoid, polio and malaria recommended; also meningitis depending on area of the country visited and time of year. Drinking water outside the main cities and towns is likely to be contaminated.

Climate: There is a subtropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. There is virtually uninterrupted dry weather with sunshine and clear skies from November to June, when the average midday temperature is 32C.

Getting there: (Major gateway, including Banjul (BLJ). Typical flying time from UK is 6 hours.

Transfers: Banjul (17miles/22km) taxi 30 minutes; car 30 minutes.

Port: Banjul.

Accommodation: A wide range of guest houses, hotels and lodges to suit all budgets and tastes are available. Many hotels have self – contained units set in spacious gardens.

Major Events;

  • 1. Independence Day (February 18).
  • 2. July 22 celebrations.
  • 3. Kanilai Cultural Festival.
  • 4. Janjanbureh Cultural Festival.
  • 5. Roots International Festival.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN THE GAMBIA;

  • 1. River Gambia – for cruising, fishing, tours, bush and beach excursions.
  • 2. Abuko and Kanilai Nature Reserves.
  • 3. Makasutu Cultural Forest and Eco-lodge.
  • 4. Katchikaly and other sacred crocodile pools.
  • 5. Brikama wood – carving centre and crafts market.
  • 6. James Island, Juffureh and other historic sites.

What to eat and drink;

Local dishes include benachin (rice with tomato puree and vegetables); basenyebe, a rich meat stew with beans or vegetables usually served with beans or vegetables usually served with chere (steamed millet flour balls); and domoda, meat stewed in groundnut puree and served with rice. Local fruits include Mangos,  watermelons, grapefruit, papaya and oranges. The local beer is julbrew.

What to buy;

Antique masks, wood carvings,  leather goods, Jewellery, sand painting and basketry. It is illegal to export any article made from wild animal skins, Ivory of feathers of any protected creature.

GEORGIA

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Tbilisi.

Main cities: Kutaisi, Rustavi.

Population: 4,436,400 (As per the year 2012 estimates).

Currency: Lari (GEL) = 100 tetri/tetries. Visa, American Express and US dollars accepted by major visitor concerns. ATMs are increasingly found in major cities. Exchange rate (Approximate GEL 1.76 = $ 1). Tipping (At customer’s discretion for good service).

Time: GMT + 4

Electricity: 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the right. International driving permit required.

Public Holidays: Include January 1, 2, 7, 19; March 3, 8; April 9, 10, 13; May 9, 12, 26; August 28; October 14; November 23.

Language: Georgian, Russian and English also spoken.

Religion: Georgian and Eastern Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish.

Country Dial Code: +995.

Visa requirements: Visa is essential and required.

Health requirements: Precautions against diphtheria, hepatitis A, polio,  typhoid and tetanus recommended.

Climate: The greater Caucasus Mountain Range moderates Georgia’s climate, protecting against cold air from the north, while the lesser Caucasus Mountains protect against the dry, hot air from the south. Average temperatures in summer range from 66F to 71F and in winter from 34F to 37F.

Getting there: (Major gateway, including Tbilisi (TBS). Typical flying time form New York, 14.5 hours via Paris, while from UK is 5 hours.

Transfers: Tbilisi (12miles/19km). taxi 15 minutes; bus 25 minutes.

Ports: Batumi,  Poti.

GHANA

FAST FACTS;

Capital: Accra.

Main Cities: Kumasi, Tamale, Sekondi, Cape Coast.

Population: 24,233,431 (As per the year 2010 estimates).

Currency: Cedi (GHS) = 100 pesewas. Credit cards may be used for payments at leading hotels, airlines and major supermarkets; use only authorized exchanges. ATMs are commonplace in large towns and cities. Exchange rate (Aproximate GHS 3 = $ 1). Tipping (At the client’s discretion).

Time: GMT.

Electricity: 220 volts. Adaptor required.

Driving: Traffic drives on the right. International driving permit is required.

Public Holidays: Include January 1; March 6; April 3, 6; May 1, 25; July 1, 18; September 23; December 4, 25. There are also a number of Muslim festivals, the dates of which may vary.

Language: English is the official language; Twi is the most common local language. Other languages include Ga, Ewe, Hausa and Nzema.

Religion: Christian and Muslim; also traditional beliefs.

Country Dial code: +233.

Visa requirements: A passport and a visa are required, as is evidence of yellow fever vaccination. Passports should have at least six months’ validity remaining.

Health requirements: Visitors to Ghana must have a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Hepatitis A, Polio, tetanus and typhoid immunisation is recommended as well as malaria precautions; also cholera immunisation for those who are entering from an infected area and meningitis, depending on area visited and time of year.

Climate: Ghana’s climate is tropical. The hottest months are March and April (23C – 31C) and the coolest is August (22C – 27C). There are two rainy seasons – March – July and September – October. The dry season is mid – October to early March; during this period, you may experience the north easterly Harmattan winds, which bring dust from the Sahara Desert, reducing visibility considerably.

Accommodation: There is a wide choice of accommodation in Ghana, from five star to budget hotels, guest houses, home lodges, chalets, hostels and campsites.

Getting there: (Major gateway, Kotoka International Airport, Accra (ACC)). Typical flying time from UK is 6 hours, while from New York is 11.5hours.

Transfers: Accra (5 miles/8km) taxi

Departure Taxi: $ 20

Ports: Takoradi, Tema.

Getting Around: There are domestic flights between Accra, Kumasi, Tamale and Takoradi; rail links between Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi; and inter – city buses. Mini – bus (trotro) services are cheaper than taxis and ply the same routes. There is a ferry service on Lake Volta from Akasombo to Buipe.

Major Events;

  • 1. Aboakyer Festival, Winneba, Central Region (May).
  • 2. Edina Bakatue Festival, Elmina, Central Region (July).
  • 3. Kente Festivals, Bonwire, Ashanti Region (July/August).
  • 4. Damba, Bawku, Nothern Region (July/August).
  • 5. Homowo in Accra, Osu, Labadi, Tashie, Greater Accra Region (August).
  • 6. Asafotufiami Festival, Big Ada, Greater Accra Region (August).
  • 7. Oguaa Fetu Festival, Cape Coast (September).
  • 8. Odwira Festival, Akropong, Eastern Region (October).
  • 9. Kobine, Lawra, upper west region (October).
  • 10. Hogbetsotso Festival, Angloga, Volta Region (November).
  • 11. Feok, Sandema in the Builsa Traditional Area, Upper East Region. (December).

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GHANA;

  • 1. Kakum Canopy walkway, Kakum Central Region.
  • 2. Mole National Park, Mole, Northern Region.
  • 3. Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary, Brong Ahafo Region.
  • 4. Cape Coast (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Elmina Castles, Central Region.
  • 5. Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, Greater Accra.
  • 6. Nzulezo, the village on stilts, Western Region.
  • 7. Paga Crocodile Pond, Paga, Upper East Region.
  • 8. Aburi Botanical Gardens, Aburi, Eastern Region.
  • 9. St. George’s Castle.
  • 10. Manhyia Palace, Kumasi, Ashanti Region.

What to eat and drink;

Traditional soups of palmnut and groundnut are local specialities. Ghanaian cuisine also includes Kontomere and Okro (stews), accompanied by fufu (pounded cassava). Traditional catering establishments in Ghana are called “chop bars”. Drinks include palm wine, gin and bitters, star beer, club beer, Gulder and Guinness.

What to buy;

Handicrafts include Ashanti wooden stools, traditional masks and drums. Also clothes, jewellery, leather goods and basket ware.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQUE)

  1. How far from Accra are the main attrations?

Answer: From the capital Accra, Kakum National Park is 112 miles/180 km; Mole National Park is 410 miles/658 km; Cape Coast and Elmina Castles are 91 miles/146 km; Boabeng Fiema Monkey Sanctuary is 285 miles/454 km; and Manhyia Palace, Kumasi is 171 miles 274 km.

  1. Where can I acquire a visa to enter Ghana?

Answer: Ghanaian embassies abroad facilitate the issuing of individual as well as group visas. A visa can also be issued on arrival at Kotoka International Airport, Accra.

  1. How big is Accra?

Answer: The capital has a population of just under a million people.  Other important Ghanaian cities include Kumasi (490,000), the part of Tema (195,000), Tamale (170,000) and Sekondi Takoradi (116,000).

  1. What natural features does Ghana have?

Answer: More than half the country is occupied by the Volta River Basin. Lake Volta is the largest Lake at 3,275 square miles (8,462 square kilometres) and Mount Afadjato the highest peak at 2,903 ft. (885m).

  1. What is the wildlife like?

Answer: Ghana is home to lions, Leopards, Hyenas, Elephants, Antelopes and more. In the rivers you will find Crocodiles, Manatees and Hippos.

  1. How safe is Ghana?

Answer: Ghana is the most peaceful and stable democratic state in West Africa. There are good medical facilities in the towns, but visitors should carry medication they need regularly.

GIBRALTAR

FAST FACTS

Population: 29,752 (As per the year 2011 estimates).

Currency: Gibraltar pound (GB£) = 100 pence. Currency has parity with sterling, which is accepted along with the euro. All major credit cards are accepted. Exchange rate (Approximate GB£ 0.58 = $ 1). Tipping (10% recommended).

Time: GMT + 1

Electricity: 240 volts.

Driving: On the right.

Public Holidays: include January 1; March 9; April 3, 6; May 1, 25; June 8; August31; September 10; December 25, 26.

Language: English. Spanish is widely spoken.

Religion: Catholic, Anglican, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and other denominations.

Country Dial Code: +350200

Getting there: (Major gateways, Including Gibraltar (GIB), Malaga (AGP). Typical flying time from New York, 11 hours via London, while from UK is 2 hours 30 minutes.

Transfers: Gibraltar town (1.5miles/2.5km) bus 15 minutes, taxi 5 minutes, Malaga 90 minutes’ taxi.

Port: Port of Gibraltar.

Visa requirements: Visa is essential and required.

Health requirements: None

Climate: Fairly mild, with an average mean temperature of 13C in winter and 23C in summer. Summer winds vary between dry westerlies and hot, humid easterlies. These easterly winds create the “Lavanter”, which covers the top of the rock in dense blanket of cloud.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GIBRALTAR;

  • 1. Apes’ Den
  • 2. Great Siege Tunnels.
  • 3. St Michael’s Cave.
  • 4. Dolphin Watching.
  • 5. Gibraltar Museum.
  • 6. Upper Rock Nature Reserve.
  • 7. Trafalgar Cemetery.
  • 8. Mediterranean steps.
  • 9. Top of the Rock.

TOUR DESTINATIONS IN GIBRALTAR BRIEFLY;

  1. MEDITERRANNEAN STEPS

If you are relatively fit and enjoy a hike with amazing views and history, you will love this trek on the Eastern face of the rock of Gibraltar along what is essentially a flight of stairs carved from the limestone by the military to connect two strategic defense points in Gibraltar. The steps, which start at an altitude of 590 ft. and finish at 1,375 ft. pass by guns and buildings dating back to world war II. Hikers can see more than 500 species of plants and, in spring and fall, some of the hundreds of thousands of migranting birds.

  1. ST MICHAEL’S CAVE;

Located within the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, this limestone cave network nearly 1,000 ft above sea level was converted into a military hospital during world war II. Today it contains magnificent jagged limestone stalactites and stalagmites created over thousands of years. Strategically placed lights highlights these formations and, due to its natural acoustic qualities, the cave is sometimes used as a concert hall to host special events. This is just one of 150 caves in the rock and others can be explored by prior arrangements.

  1. GREAT SIEGE TUNNELS;

During the American war of Independence, when France and Spain attempted to recapture Gibraltar from the British, the defenders of the rock devised a clever plan of defense against the Great Siege (1779 to 1783) that was to result in their victory. Using sledge hammers, crowbars and gunpowder, they used their hands to dig a labyrinth of tunnels with the aim of getting guns on to a projection from the precipitous northern face of the rock known as the Notch. As they progressed, cannons were taken into the tunnels and holes were cut into the rock all long its face.

  1. THE APES’ DEN

The rock’s most famous attraction is home to tailless Barbary macaques, the only free – living primates in Europe. Considered native to northern Morocco and Algeria, these monkeys probably originally found their way to the rock of Gibraltar on board merchant and pirate’s ships. According to legend, when the apes leave Gibraltar, so will the British – which may explain why British Prime Minister Winston Churchill shipped in Simian reinforcements from Africa when numbers were low during world war II. There are now around 250 living in six distinct families or packs. Newborns can be seen in summer, but they can be quite ferocious when in a bad mood and it is forbidden to feed them.

  1. BOTANIC GARDENS;

These tranquil gardens display a collection of birds, butterflies and plants that include native species and others brought in from abroad, often from former British territories like Australia and South Africa. Tours can be taken around the park to learn more about the flora and fauna and children will love the small wildlife center housing short clawed otters. Barbary macaques, Egyptian fruit bats, Senegalese parrots and Vietnamese potbellied pigs among other creatures. The Alameda open Air Theatre is located within the gardens and offers a variety of open air cinema and live performances.

 
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