The Global Basecamps Blog

Best of Basecamps: Nishimuraya Honkan Ryokan

12.30.2013

by elias

Japan’s Culture Through Ryokan

Nishimuraya RyokanFew countries can claim their hotels as one of their main tourist attractions. Japan is different. Staying in a traditional ryokan provides insight into what Japan values: simple, well-made food, courteous service, tradition, a place that feels like home.

No one travels in Japan more than the Japanese themselves. Part of this is due to the values listed above, and part of this is because of the natural hot springs that dot the islands. Weekends at a hot spring resort are not just common, they’re a necessary respite from the stress of urban living. Knowing this, it’s safe to say that the country’s best ryokan are located near the country’s most popular natural hot springs.

And so we come to Nishimuraya Honkan Ryokan, a traditional yet luxurious basecamp in Kinosaki-cho, Japan.

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Best of Basecamps: Titilaka

10.1.2013

by elias

Getting to Lake Titicaca

TitilakaYou get an idea of why Titilaka is so special as you land at nearby Juliaca airport. As excited as any traveler is to see stunning Lake Titicaca, the cities of neighboring Juliaca and lake-side Puno are… not a good introduction. There is poverty in Puno, there is an indigenous culture forgotten by modern civilization, there are incomplete brick buildings, there is a growing urban haze. And bad news for most travelers: most of the hotels on Lake Titicaca are within view of all of this.

But then your private driver keeps driving, and driving, and driving. Almost blissfully, the city gets left in the rear view mirror. City sounds and sights give way to family farms and the families that work them. Long views of the lake compliment the wide open sky that feels closer at this high elevation. And thirty minutes later, you arrive at your country estate.

Titilaka truly feels like your weekend home on the lake. Titilaka feels like it waits for you, like nothing happens when you’re not there, like somehow you’ve earned this level of service and comfort. Upon arrival, attendants host an almost ceremonial “welcome bonfire” on the shore, where a first sunset is enjoyed with tea and tapas. An attendant is available in your living room at all times. Chefs prepare world-class meals in your kitchen. Your guide knows your name and is ready to take you on any excursion around the lake. Titilaka, in some way, says “welcome home” every time you return, even if you were just gone for the morning.

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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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Travel Agents vs Big Booking Sites

2.27.2013

by elias

Luna Blue Hotel in Playa Del Carmen, MexicoOne of the most common questions we get is “why do people need a travel agent these days?” Surely, with the rise of the internet and big self-booking websites, travelers are more empowered than ever to research and organize travel than ever before. But as ever, Global Basecamps stands by its philosophy that booking through a knowledgeable, experienced travel expert with personal relationships to hotels and lodges is always preferable. At the end of the day, booking through a company like Global Basecamps benefits not just the traveler, but the destination!

This month, SFGate.com published an article that we believe outlines the benefits of booking your travel through an agent over a booking site. The article tells the story of the couple who own a hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. After a series of miscommunications, the relationship between the 18-room hotel and the website collapsed. Through what the article calls a “descent into the surreal” the website used its considerable clout in the travel industry to hurt the hotel’s business instead of supplementing it.

Though travelers may find the occasional deal on a booking site, their biggest downside is actually the reason they are so successful. Big booking sites prioritize volume, and the bigger the hotel, the more rooms they can sell. Too often, the smallest hotels in the world don’t garner the attention they deserve from a booking site, and are relegated to a secondary status. Too often, those small hotels are often the world’s best!

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Best of Basecamps: Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge

10.2.2012

by elias

Rhotia Valley Tented CampNestled between two hills on the border of Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area in Tanzania, Rhotia Valley Tented Camp is a special place whose mission does not end with being one of the most warm, welcoming and beautiful lodges in the country. On its website’s guestbook page, messages in four different languages sing its praises. It boasts a coveted five stars on its TripAdvisor profile with one reviewer mentioning the words “Heaven on Earth.” And even if you completely forget its special purpose, it is still one of the best safari lodges in the world.

In addition to being a world-class basecamp, the property is also home to thirty six children - mostly orphans - from around the Rhotia Valley (thirty six as of October, 2012). Profits generated from the Tented Lodge directly support the Rhotia Valley Children’s Home, bringing the local community together under a common goal of creating a better future for local children, as well as employing many residents of the village.

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