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

June 11,2013

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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Travel Agents vs Big Booking Sites

February 27,2013

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, 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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Tsukiji Fish Market

October 25,2012

Tsukiji Tuna AuctionAt Global Basecamps, we talk a lot about “Cultural Japan Tours,” but what does that entail, exactly? Is Japanese culture the ancient, the samurai, the castles, the tea ceremonies, and the ryokans? Or is Japanese culture the modern, the bright billboards, the manga, the bullet trains, and the pod hotels? The answer, of course, is both. But whenever tradition and modernity can meet and become something new, that is what really excites us about culture in Japan.

Few things are more timeless in Japan than fish, and the Tsukiji Fish Market could be described as fish central in Tokyo, as well as one of the biggest fish markets in the world. The market accepts a limited number of casual observers daily, and early risers will find a bustling, vibrant, coordinated dance of fishmongers, restaurant owners and sushi chefs negotiating for the day’s best catch. For Japanese food enthusiasts, this experience is almost like getting a peek behind the curtain, or watching the foundations being laid at a construction site.

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Best of Basecamps: Rhotia Valley Tented Lodge

October 02,2012

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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24 Hours In: Lima

September 18,2012

In our “24 Hours In” series, we would like to give travelers a good idea of what there is to do in a certain city if one has 24 hours to spend there. The destinations we’ll be covering include cities that are often traveled through, but not in. These cities often act as international flight hubs, 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!

Lima is many things to many people. Peru’s capital, the country’s largest, most dense urban area, and its main hub for international flights. If you’re thinking of hiking the Inca Trail, exploring the Peruvian Amazon, or taking a flight over the Nazca Lines, you absolutely will spend time in and around Lima’s international airport. (That is, until Peru opens its new international airport near Cusco.) The most likely place you will spend this time, especially if you arrive in the city on a late flight, is the Ramada hotel directly adjacent to the airport.Ceviche

There are probably two things that keep many travelers from exploring further into Lima during their time here. One is the 45 minutes it takes to reach the city driving from the airport, the other is that the city is not all that visually appealing on first sight, (which is usually from a plane approaching the airport over the city’s less wealthy district.) Trust us though, Lima can be a trip highlight, alongside Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.

Varied cultures come together here, from Inca, to Spanish, to American and uniquely Peruvian, to create what Lonely Planet calls a “cultural phantasmagoria.” To the modern traveler, it almost seems like someone forgot to ask Peru to cleanly separate these cultures into defined eras, the result being a chaotic mixture that manages to sound, taste and feel uniquely Peruvian. Catholic processions are observed by people drinking the ubiquitous Inca Cola, world-class gourmet eateries do business in 17th century colonial buildings. In the past half century, Peru has experienced a mass migration of people from the mountainous countryside to the urban sprawl seeking opportunity, creating a density of people that cities in every developing country struggle to adapt to. The result of this influx, unfortunately, is mass poverty in most of the city. Lima’s historic district, as well as its touristic Miraflores district and residential San Isidro district, are unique for their upscale shopping and dining as well as wide, beautiful boulevards and clean parks.

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