The Global Basecamps Blog

Is Colombia Safe?

8.19.2013

by elias

 

“Is Colombia safe for travelers?”

 

CartagenaThis is the first question that our Colombia travel specialists often get when planning travel there. Americans in particular have concerns about traveling to a country so recently known for its centrality to the drug trade, and the violence that was born of it. I’m going to be honest with you. There’s part of us here at Global Basecamps that wants to lie to you. Part of us wants to say “wait 10 more years for things to settle down,” or “the security is not quite there yet.” There seems to be an exclusive club of travelers these days, a secret cabal of people in the know. They know Colombia has been safe for years. They know its beaches are top notch. They know it is absolutely one of the best countries to travel in almost because so few people go there.

Really, this is no secret if you’ve been paying attention. In 2008, The New York Times officially declared Cartagena a foodie destination. Travel + Leisure called Cartagena a Hidden Retreat in the same year. Last year, the Times seemed to still be on the Colombia-train, moving onto the great eats in Bogota and its tourist revival. It’s a common topic of conversation in our office. How do we get the message across that Colombia is safe, when the New York Times can’t seem to do it? Consider us stumped. The best we can do is describe the perfect vacation setting as best we can, and travelers can make up their own minds.

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How We Travel: Okinawa's Rich Culture & Clear Waters

6.11.2013

by andres

One of our own recently returned from his trip to Okinawa, Japan. He was kind enough to share some of his pictures and experiences with us! This is How We Travel.

I recently had the fortune to travel to Okinawa. Despite having lived for several years on Japan's mainland, this was my first visit to Okinawa and in every way it exceeded my expectations.

I flew into Tokyo and connected directly to Naha, Okinawa's largest city on Okinawa Honto, Okinawa's main island ("honto" just means "main island"). If I had to do it again, I would spend 1-2 nights in Tokyo at the start, because by the time I arrived in Okinawa I was exhausted (and a ramen in Tokyo would have been a nice treat after the 10-hour flight). On the flip side, I was thrilled to wake up the next morning already in paradise... so for shorter trips, flying into Okinawa directly makes perfect sense.

Traditional Grub
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Inca Trail Permits: Why You Should Plan Ahead

5.21.2013

by elias

Salkantay

The Permits

Though it may seem inaccessible and exotic to some, the truth is that the Inca Trail is hugely popular, and receives a metric ton of demand from travelers from all over the world every year. In the 80’s and 90’s, what began as a small number of companies offering guides to hike this four day trek quickly turned into an avalanche of tourism that ultimately threatened the health of the environment, and the priceless Inca ruins along the route.

The Peruvian government quickly saw the risk of destroying its natural and cultural resources. Today, Peru’s Ministry of Culture caps the number of people allowed to hike the trail at 500 per day. Of that number, only 200 are actual tourist hikers, the rest being accompanying guides and porters. Predictably, snagging a permit to hike the trail is a hectic affair. Only a select number of companies are allowed to buy them directly. They are assigned to a specific hiker’s name to prevent a black market of permits. And they sell out quickly. In 2013, Inca Trail permits through July were completely sold out by March.

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New Travel Innovations From Japan

4.29.2013

by elias

Tokyo's Pasmo CardAs part of our clients’ trips to Japan, Global Basecamps nearly always includes one vital piece of equipment. Tokyo’s Pasmo Card is an incredibly diverse tool for travel in the capital; the pass is valid all over the greater Tokyo area’s extensive ground railway and subway systems, can be used to pay for most taxis, and is even accepted at most vending machines and convenience stores. Sounds like an amazing travel tool, right? It just got even better.

Most urban areas in Japan feature similar passes, and as of last month, these passes will now all be valid in each other's cities! That means that with the one card we provide you with for travel in Tokyo, you will be able to travel similarly in Japan’s most popular cities, such as Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Sapporo! Needless to say, this is a boon for Japan’s domestic and international travelers, especially since the process to use and recharge the cards with yen is easily outlined in multiple languages.

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24 Hours In: Johannesburg

12.19.2012

by elias

In our “24 Hours In” series, we present good ideas of what to do in the featured city over a full day. The destinations we’ll be covering include cities that are often traveled through, but not in on your custom tour. These cities often act as international flight hubs on your way to a destination, and layovers can extend from hours to a full day at times. So if you’re in a city on your way to or from your destination, following are some of our favorite things to do there!

Joberg SkylineJohannesburg, as ever, is the cultural and economic heart of South Africa. If you are exploring this beautiful country, or any of its neighbors, there is a good chance you will spend at least a layover in this city of 4.4 million people. Regional flights to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and even Madagascar all pass through its gates multiple times a day. Many Global Basecamps travelers express concern, and even occasional fear, at spending time in what is internationally known as an unsafe city. Though Johannesburg served as a stage for the greater drama of the South African 20th century, the city has striven to improve its international image through urban renewal projects, accelerating these in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup.

We would love to say that the city is completely traveler-friendly and safe, but unfortunately the signs of a turbulent history are still present throughout. Like with any other large urban center in the world though, an easy set of “street smart” rules will help avoid most if not all of these risks. These include not walking alone at night, sticking close to one’s traveling group and being aware of one’s surroundings. All that being said, Johannesburg (aka Joberg or Jozi) is still a vibrant city alive with the constant activity of 4.4 million people living and working together. Twenty four hours can really fly by if you’re not careful!

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