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Know Before You Go: Nepal

8.16.2011

by temo

Annapurna Circuit

Nepal is one of the world’s premier adventure travel destinations. Nepal’s trekking options are endless. Rivers wind down the snow-capped mountains, creating some of the best river rafting and kayaking opportunities in the world. Discover the traditional architecture and holy temples in Nepal’s ancient cities to learn more about the country’s fascinating culture.

Nepal is about 54,363 sq miles with a population of approximately 30 million. The largest city, with more than 1 million people, is the capital, Kathmandu. Many visitors, drawn to Nepal by the unique eco tours, leave equally enchanted by the friendly demeanor of the Nepali people. Nepal is one of the best budget destinations around the world.

Cultural Norms and Etiquette

Nepal is a unique blend of culture and customs. There are more than 100 ethic groups in Nepal each with their own customs, tradition, and rituals. This colorful culture is a blend of religious etiquette and cultural norms a little different from anywhere else. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when preparing for a Nepal tour:

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Tales From the Lost World

8.9.2011

by temo

Our well traveled intern, Temo, has written another great blog for us about his time spent in Venezuela. Read more about his adventures in his previous blog posts, Climbing El Pico de Orizaba and Exploring Northern Baja.

To me summer vacations stand for long adventures and exploring foreign countries. When I was growing up, my family and I lived in Venezuela for over 4 years. I have some incredible memories and great friends from that period of my life. A couple of years ago my family and I went back to visit the country and decided to go explore the land that English author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle dubbed as "The Lost World."

Venezuela is a beautiful country in the northern end of South America, right next to Colombia and just north of Brazil. It has some of the most varied and spectacular natural environments in the world. You have crystal waters in the Caribbean Sea, vast floodplains in the Llanos, one of the largest rivers in the world that slices the country in half, the Orinoco, and the Venezuelan Andes in the east. In the south of Venezuela you will find a vast wilderness area part of the Amazon Rainforest known as the Gran Sabana, one of the most important natural attractions in the country.

Canaima National Park

Established in 1962, Canaima National Park is located in the south east state of Bolivar close to the borders with Brazil and Guyana. It is a place of unique beauty in the world. It encompasses most of the Gran Sabana and with almost 7.5 million acres; it is considered one of the largest national parks in the world. The park was conceded World Heritage Status by UNESCO in 1994. Canaima holds some of Venezuela's most beautiful attractions.

So for our vacation, we flew from Mexico City on the direct overnight to the capital, Caracas, and immediately transferred on a regional flight towards our old home of Puerto La Cruz in the north coastal state of Anzoategui. After visiting old friends and enjoying the Caribbean beaches for a couple of days we set off on the two day drive south towards La Gran Sabana.

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Exploring Northern Baja

7.20.2011

by temo

Temo, an intern at Global Basecamps, has written another blog about his travels to Mexico. Read more about Mexico tours in his previous blog post, Climbing El Pico de Orizaba.

Baja

Northern Baja California is one of the most extensive, solitary and naturally beautiful places in Mexico. With over fifteen years exploring the peninsula, I have found a wide variety of experiences and natural landscapes that are as unique and beautiful as any other in the world. If you are looking to get away from it all and find solitude, you don’t have to go so far or spend much to find that perfect beach or unique vacation experience. Remember that an ecotourism vacation starts with the destination you choose and what better way to reduce your carbon foot print than to skip the flight, carpool with friends or family (if you're close enough) and still find a natural paradise. In Baja, solitude, peace, relaxation and fun are all wrapped up in a beautiful pristine natural environment.

You should start by driving past Tijuana and Rosarito and continue south on the toll road to the port city of Ensenada, which can be your first stop. Known as a tourist town, Ensenada acts as a great base from where to explore the many options in northern Baja. The city has a wide range of affordable accommodations and a diverse mix of restaurants for any palate or budget.

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Climbing El Pico de Orizaba

7.12.2011

by temo

One of our interns, Temo, recently traveled to Mexico and climbed the tallest mountain in the country, El Pico de Orizaba. Below he shares his experience with us. Thanks Temo!

Mexico has been receiving some terrible reviews and travel warnings for tourists because of the violence and insecurity issues it is currently facing. But the reality is that the violence has seldom been directed to Mexican tourists and even less towards international tourists. The social situation has led to a major decline in tourism across the country and at the same time it has created some great opportunities for the savvy traveler and the budget conscious adventurer. Many small hotels and tour companies are eager to give special discounts during almost any season. This is how I found a great deal for my Mexico ecoturism adventure.

Teotihuacán

Last winter break (December 2010) I decided to rediscover some of my heritage and also challenge myself physically and mentally on a journey of self discovery. So, on my Mexico tour I decided that I wanted to climb El Pico de Orizaba, also known as Citlaltepetl (which means the Star Mountain). At 18,800 feet it is the tallest mountain in Mexico and the third tallest in North America, only after Mt. McKinley and Mt. Logan in Canada. It is located in between the states of Puebla and Veracruz, almost a 3.5 hour bus ride from Mexico City.

Since I am based out of San Diego the easiest way to get there was to fly out of Tijuana International airport towards Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport. Upon arrival, and prior to the 3 hour bus ride to Puebla, I wanted to make a quick day trip to the beautiful ancient Holy city of Teotihuacán just an hour drive from the airport. The immense and beautiful temple pyramids of the Sun and Moon are one of my favorite places to visit in Mexico. It is said that ceremonial rituals were carried out at the tops of these perfectly constructed engineering marvels and were coordinated with the movements of the sun, moon and stars.

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Know Before You Go: Cultural Norms in Colombia

6.17.2011

by temo

When preparing for your next ecotourism vacation it’s good to consider the country’s cultural norms and social etiquette. This is important so we can maintain a good, positive and sustainable tourist-host relationship. As we have mentioned in our previous Know Before You Go blogs, a great way to do this is by taking just a little time before your travels to read up on your host country’s culture, social norms, and codes of conduct. A little effort goes a long way! Locals will recognize your efforts, because that shows them respect and tells them that you care to learn about their country and culture.

Colombia Flag

The cultural norms of Colombia are bits of info and social tips for visitors from all over the world that will help you further enjoy the vacation.

Language in Colombia

The official language is Spanish, spoken by around 43 million people. In addition there are approximately 500,000 speakers of different American Indian languages. Colombians are very polite and are proud to speak in proper Castilian (Spanish). Even though Spanish is spoken all over South America, each country has its own set of local Spanish slang terms.

“A LA ORDEN” : This is probably the single most heard and used phrase in Colombia. It literally means “at your order”. You will encounter numerous different situations where they use the phrase.

  • You can use it to substitute “thank you” (gracias)
  • It is used to ask “may I help you?” (a la orden?)
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