Tips, deals, and advice on traveling the continent on a budget.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Ensuring Indulgence In Your Luxury Villa Holidays

Advancing into a new level of luxury, holiday makers has been introduced to private villas, a rather new alternative to luxury holiday accommodation previously served by five-starred resorts. Private villas offer the sixth star to the meaning of luxurious holiday accommodation, total privacy. When resort hotels only offer only the bedroom and sometimes the balcony at your private disposal, private villas offer the whole house, including staffs, dedicated for you.

Most private villas are also private holiday home of the owners which they only use a few weeks every years, leaving most of the time remain unused. Many of them are remotely managed by the owners from abroad whilst some are managed by professional property management companies. Of course, in both cases their ability to provide ultimate holiday experience during your stay could not be as credible as well-known five-starred brands like Sheraton, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Westin, and others alike.

Ensuring that you are getting the sixth star without compromising the other five – which are guaranteed by resort hotel chains – can be a challenge. Whilst you can start your holiday plan by searching for private villas available for holiday rental on the internet, ensuring that the quality of both the villa and its services is not as easy as typing "private villa rental" on Google.

A few weeks back a group of young families from Singapore rented a luxurious five bedrooms villa close to the famous Seminyak beach in Bali. After convincing communication and looking into the pictures they were finally assured that the villa was exactly the one they want. Their feeling got even stronger at the day they arrive. An air-conditioned bus awaited them at the airport to transfer them to the villa. They found the villa amazing, wide yard for the kids to play on, large sparkling swimming pool, wide pool-deck, and most of all, romantic bedrooms with lace mosquito nets for the parents and bedroom with multiple trundle beds with TV, DVD player, and even a game console for the kids.

Nightmare started when they went into shower late at night after dinner at one of the island's most famous beachfront fine dining restaurant. The hot water does not work. The annoyance increase even more as when reported to the staff, they had to wait until the villa manager came the next morning before they can have it fixed.

After the hot water installation fixed they thought everything would be doing all right. Unfortunately they were wrong. After enjoying the first splash of the hot water and applied some soap, the water suddenly stopped. The story went over again. They had to wait until the manager came the next day to get it fixed. You may imagine how they flushed the soap from their body and shampoo from their hair.

Of course, for nearly a thousand Dollars a night, those annoyances should have never happened. The villa management should know how to prevent these, and manage an immediate fix if they still arise. But blaming the villa staff, the villa manager, the management company running the villa, or even the owner would not wipe the bad experience from your holiday memory.

How do you prevent this from happening? One way you can do is by renting it through a professional rental agency. Whilst your first encounter can be through the internet, you should look at the website, its sleekness, information it provides, the way it composed, these all reflect their professionalism in their business. Furthermore, don't just immediately book one. Try to communicate with their representative to get a personal feeling if they really do care about your indulgence more than your money. More than just read testimonials on the website, ask them to give you contact of their previous guest having experience in both dealing with them and staying in certain villa. In most of the cases, if they had good holiday experience, they will be excited to tell you.

Never think that dealing through agents will cost you more money. You will get the same price even if you contact the owners directly as they are bound in a business agreement with rental agents. Agents do not charge you for their services. Owners pay them the commission out of the price they set. In fact, you have to be careful if an owner allows you to pay less by booking direct as it indicates that the villa is not professionally operated. You can shop around the net to find a credible rental agent. If you are planning your holiday in Bali, you may want to start with Villa Rental Bali

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lake Resorts In Oklahoma

Oklahoma is known as "America's Frontier Lake State." As such, it is covered with scenic lake resorts, fishing spots, and tourist destinations. The state is also known for its excellent casinos and bingo halls. In the following article, I'll be profiling four areas which qualify as lake resort towns. Any of these locations would make an excellent spot for your next vacation or weekend getaway.

Guthrie, Oklahoma - Located in Logan County, Guthrie is part of the Oklahoma City Metroplex. As of 2003, the population was 10,110 (almost exactly the same as the day it was founded over 114 years ago).

The city was founded during the Land Run of 1889, and its population jumped from zero to 10,000 in a single day. It was the original capital of both the Oklahoma Territory and the State of Oklahoma (Oklahoma City became the new capital in 1910).

Guthrie is a very well preserved example of a Victorian city. The entire central residential and business district has its original architecture completely intact. It is the largest urban Historic Preservation District in the United States. There are several museums to visit in the city, including the Oklahoma Territorial Museum, the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple, and the National 4-String Banjo Hall of Fame.

Guthrie holds an annual Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival which draws over 15,000 visitors from around the world. South of Guthrie, you will find two lakes named Liberty Lake and Guthrie Lake.

Guthrie has also been the site of numerous film and television productions. Movies such as Twister and Rain Man have taken advantage of Guthrie's unique beauty.

Checotah, Oklahoma - Located in McIntosh County, Checotah is named for the first elected Chief of the Creek Nation after the Civil War, Samuel Checote.

The city is home to a Civil War battle site (The Battle of Honey Springs), a number of antique malls (although their city sales tax is among the highest in the state), and a thriving historic district. It also claims to be the steer wrestling capital of the world. Country singers Carrie Underwood and Mel McDaniel call Checotah their hometown.

As for lakes, Checotah is located near to Lake Eufaula, which was once the largest man-made lake in the United States (with 640 miles of shoreline). Especially during the summer months, this city is often filled with tourists and fisherman looking to relax and enjoy themselves.

Eufaula, Oklahoma - Located in McIntosh County, Eufaula boasts a population of 2,639. Lake Eufaula is the largest lake located entirely within the State of Oklahoma. The city is situated around Eufaula Cove, a gateway to such activities as camping, boating, fishing, and water skiing. If you like to catch (and eat) bass, crappie, and catfish, then you are certainly in luck! There are also plenty of deer and turkey to admire, and many consider the area to be a bird watchers paradise.

Durant, Oklahoma - Situated near Lake Texoma (one of the largest man-made lakes in the country), Durant is the county seat of Bryan County and has a population of 14,795. It is also the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The city has also been recognized as the Magnolia Capital of Oklahoma.

Lake Texoma brings in around 10 to 12 million tourists every year, so you can often find visitors from all over the country in this charming city.

Whichever destination you choose, you can rest assured that the lakes and resorts of Oklahoma will provide you and your family with ample opportunities for rest and relaxation. And if you enjoy gambling and playing bingo, you might want to visit some of the state's fine casinos and bingo halls.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Do You See Green Or Yellow

Yeah, it's that's time of year again! The birds are singing, the bees are buzzing, the mosquitoes are biting and the yellow stuff, known as pollen, is EVERYWHERE! Is this what all those people who hate the cold dark days of winter look forward too? Surely there is something that can be done about all the yellow stuff. The weather man says don't wash the windows or the car just yet. There is still alot to come. Open up the window for some fresh air, and an hour later, you sneeze and yellow stuff goes everywhere! The porches are yellow, the trees are yellow, the grass is yellow, and even the animals are yellow. I even rub my hands on my husband's black car so he looks like a bumble bee! (Yes, I am bored, but I usually entertain myself rather well!)

Here I am sitting at my desk, trying to do some of that internet marketing that I have heard so much about and I can't even concentrate because of all the yellow stuff floating around. I live in the deep south part of Mississippi and I just don't get it! Should I move up north? Should I go to another country? Should I go to the local hotel so I can work? What should I do?

Well, being the creative person I can sometimes be, I think I will collect the yellow stuff, add some water and sell it to people on the street for lemonade. That might make me a quarter or two, seeing how I haven't made any doing this marketing thing. But that's ok. Maybe I can come up with some way to market this pollen stuff. If I could, I would be a VERY, rich woman. So, what do you think, can you help me see some green instead of yellow? Maybe I could help you see some green too! If you can, let me know, and we will dust off all that yellow and make room for the green. Enjoy Spring....even if it is all yellow!

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Fishing Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake is the largest natural body of water found west of the continental divide. It is surrounded by gorgeous mountains on both sides and the water within the lake is home to one of the greatest populations of lake trout in the entire United States. Lake Trout fishing is by far the most popular type of fishing on this lake, but there are many other species of fish present within the lake as well. Some of these species would include: Lake Whitefish, Northern Pike, Bull Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Perch. The bottom line is that Lake Trout are, by far, the fish that most anglers choose to fish for.

Flathead Lake is one of the best lake trout fisheries in the country, with 15-20 pound lake trout being a fairly common occurrence. If you've never fished on Flathead Lake, there are many guides in the area that can take you out for a wonderful day of trout fishing. If you've never fished Flathead Lake, a guide wouldn't be a bad idea, because with the lakes extreme depths finding schools of fish can become a bit tricky. The lake is over 200 feet deep in places. To Fish Flathead Lake effectively, a boat equipped with downriggers is a great idea.

Flathead Lake is also home to an enormous population of Lake Superior Whitefish. In many parts of the country these 3-5 pound beauties are considered a delicacy, and Flathead Lake has plenty of them. In fact in the fall you can even go river fishing for them. Fall is spawning time and they "run" up the Flathead River to spawn. There are so many of them that they get stacked up in almost any hole. In the spring, when the perch fry hatch, Whitefish can be caught in the Elmo area. With the limit of whitefish on Flathead Lake being 100 per angler, a persons freezer can be filled on one fishing trip, although cleaning that many fish would be a nightmare!

Flathead Lake not only offers beautiful scenery, but it offers the angler many opportunities as well. As mentioned earlier, a guide is never a bad idea, especially on a lake of this size. Flathead Lake is 15 miles wide and 32 miles long, so that's a lot of water to cover if you're just visiting. A trip to a local tackle shop to pick up a map and ask a few questions will probably suffice as well.

The bottom line is that fishing opportunities abound in Flathead Lake. And if you happen to be in the market for a trophy Lake Trout, you'll have a hard time finding a better place to search for it than Flathead Lake. Fifteen to twenty pound "Lakers" Are a fairly common occurrence, and trophies are fairly common as well.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Top African Lion Safari Destinations For 2007

The African lion has been in the news during the past few years possibly for the wrong reasons. Considering the lion has been touted as an animal headed for possible extinction in the years to come, this news must horrify safari enthusiasts and animal lovers worldwide.

The African Lion - Will It Survive?

When talking about the king of the jungle and everything the lion represents, it's hard to imagine from an outsiders perspective that this symbol of strength could even be considered as a species on the endangerment list. What could possibly be a threat to this magnificent beast... Well, the answer should have come to you quickly... man!

More to the point, progress, and as Africa continues to implement newer technologies in the areas of farming and infrastructure, more and more of the mighty African lion's habitat is being whittled away. The result of this is both lion and man are brought into direct conflict and as the great animal's habitat is being eroded, so is it's natural food source which means it needs to look for alternatives.

These alternatives are the farming animals which graze the former territories of the lion. They are easy pickings for one of the world's most ferocious and skilled hunters but with it comes the wrath of man, who naturally has to protect his own interests and livelihood; so it's the lion who comes off second best. You can guess the resultant action!

Best African Lion Destinations On Safari

If you are planning an African safari, undoubtedly the highlight from an animal perspective is the African lion. To see this mighty creature in the flesh is one thing but to actually see it in action is another. You see, despite it's hunting capabilities the lion is somewhat of a sleeper. Yes, they can "shut-eye" for up to twenty hours a day which can be a nightmare if you are hoping to capture the king in all his hunting glory!

As a photographer, some patience is obviously required but as a tourist an amateur camera person then given the obvious time constraints associated with group tours on safari then it becomes a little like "pot luck."

There are many excellent destinations within Africa to see the lion. The two best destinations to see the lion in 2007?

- The Serengeti in Tanzania is our first choice. Why? The migration of the wildbeest during the last half of the year. The lions and many other predators lay in wait as their prime food source scampers across the countryside.

- Kenya's Masai Mara is another African lion hotspot. Again the wildbeest migration is a strong reason while the open landscape is an ideal environment.

- South Africa has several options to see the lion including the magnificent Kruger National Park.

- Botswana has plenty to offer for safari enthusiasts but the presence of big cats such as the lion draws visitors here regularly. Check out Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta East... great African landscape and plenty of wildlife to go with it!

An African lion safari is a once in a lifetime experience for most. There are some excellent programs now in place to ensure the king of the beasts makes it to the next century. Now is a great time to head off on safari to see the lion in it's own backyard!

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Parking at Cardiff Airport – Frequent Traveller Tips

As a businessman I frequently fly out of Cardiff. The airport solely operates from one terminal. This means that when you want to park your car at one of the available car parks you not have to consider from which terminal your flight departs. Most of the parking sites I used already for dozens of times and as an experienced traveller I know exactly which company provides the best services. I hope you can use some of my advice and who knows maybe it will make your future travels a little bit more relaxed.

These days, I always book my parking service in advance through the internet. It is definitely the best means of saving yourself some time so you do not have to rush getting through security and customs. In addition, online booking will often save you a couple of pounds too and we all know airport parking a rather costly service.

The majority of the available Cardiff parking agencies provide a fairly standard level of service. Similar standards of service and security are available almost everywhere you go. Most of the car parks only vary in their fee and situation. I always base the choice I make on how much they charge and how much time I have.

If you have never parked your car at Cardiff airport before and you don't know what service to choose, below I mention a few companies which run excellent parking sites with a satisfactory service.

NCP operates the long duration parking service at Cardiff airport which is ideally located right on the other side of the terminal building. Certain sections of the facility are within walking distance of the terminal. However, during the summer there is a transport service available which is operational every five minutes. The duration of the trip to the terminal lasts only five minutes.

Also recommendable is Cardiff Airparks Services. This well-established and reputed company is located within a short distance from the terminal as well and offers a free transportation service which is available around the clock each day of the week. Fees are reasonable.

Last but not least there is The Highwayman. Their parking site is situated at the end of Cardiff airport's runway and is run by a local family. The facility has nine years of experience and is excellently secured ensuring you absolute piece of mind regarding your car's safety while you are travelling.

Over the past years I've tried a number of other methods, but my conclusion is that these internet airport car parking booking services mentioned below provide the most simple and fastest way of making your suitable parking arrangements at Cardiff. I travel about thrice a month out of Cardiff and have tried these excellent services several times. I really recommend pre-booking parking online as it saves you a great deal of time and it's hassle-free.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Adventures in Peru - Trying for 16,000 Feet - Huambo Part 2

About a month previous to this, I hiked up to an extinct volcanic crater near my house. I got up to 15,000 feet on the slope of the crater and ran out of time so had to go back down. It looked like the rim might be another 1,000 feet higher. On a Monday I decided to return and try to get to the top of the rim on the crater. Unfortunately, due to getting to bed too late the night before, when my alarm went off at 6:15, I couldn't drag myself out of bed. "Just a few minutes more" turned into 15, then 30 and I finally got up at 7:00. Part of the problem is that this is the coldest time of the year here, it gets down to about 40 degrees F. at night outside and just below 60 inside. Still not moving very fast, I didn't leave the house until 8:25. By now it was up to 50 degrees but I was hiking in the shadow of Cerro Huiñau so it took a few minutes to get warmed up. Going up hill helped, and soon I got into the sunlight and had to take off my fleece jacket.

I was going to take the same trail as last time, at least to the base of the crater but I guess I wasn't paying attention and soon realized that I was on the wrong side of a water reservoir. That one was easy; I soon found the correct trail on the other side. Shortly after that I came to a fork in the trail and decided to take the left fork, as the right one didn't seem to be a main trail and it didn't connect up with the trail at the road crossing above. What looked so promising soon turned into a bushwhack up terraced fields which was no fun. When I came to an irrigation canal going to the right I followed that and was soon at the correct trail. I came to another fork and again tried the left one and that turned out to be the right choice, I was soon right at the upper trail across the road that I had to hunt for last time.

Making good time, I started up a very steep section and was busy looking at my altimeter watch to see how fast I was climbing. It was between 30 and 40 feet a minute, and I was feeling good, not having to stop and rest. Up past two waterfalls, a couple of small houses and soon into a terraced pasture. Wait a minute; this isn't the same trail as last time! I had missed the trail again, probably looking at the altimeter too much. Again a bushwhack up, got to another canal, took it to the right and was back on the correct trail, but this time I had wasted over 30 minutes trying to find a passable route. I was soon at the base of the crater, which is open on the front side so it is kind of a horseshoe shape. Last time I had stayed on the floor of the crater and went straight up the slope on the backside of the crater. This time I figured it would be faster to start on the left side of the "horseshoe" and follow the ridge up and around to the center and highest part of the rim.

My house is at 8800 feet. After climbing almost 4,000 vertical feet, I was starting to drag. I always seem to "hit a wall" at about 13,000 feet. Even though it was early for lunchtime here, I decided to stop and eat at 13,000 feet, which was about four hours from the start. After lunch, I had another 30 minutes of rocky, brushy slope and then made it to the start of the rocky ridge. I was expecting this part to be easy as there is often an old use path on the ridge but this was a very rough ridge, lots of large rocks and boulders, and very slow going. There were numerous times when it looked like there was an impassable rock cliff ahead of me. It was a fairly narrow ridge with a very steep slope on the right and a drop off on the left. However as I got close to each obstacle, I was able to find a way over or around it and was able to keep climbing. It was mostly 3rd class scrambling with some 4th class to keep my attention focused. The worst one came at about 14,500 feet. By this time I knew I wasn't going to have time to get to 16,000 feet and it looked like I might not even make 15,000 feet. There were these large boulders and slabs of rock, stacked up on end and leaning on each other. At first it looked like I could go under but that looked too scary so finally ended up climbing over. It reminded me a lot of the climb up Mt. Russell, next to Mt. Whitney, except not as much exposure here most of the time.

I was getting near my original turnaround time of 3:00 pm but had already decided that I was not going to return the same way. I could see a steep sand and gravel slope near what I hoped was a 15,000 foot peak, so had decided to slide down that to the crater floor. This would be much quicker so I didn't have to worry about the time deadline anymore. The almost full moon was due to peek over the rim any minute and I knew that I could be back to a good trail before dark. There, with the bright moon, I was looking forward to another nice night hike back. My target peak turned out to be a few hundred feet short so had to keep going to the next peak, which registered 15,040 feet. Just about this time the moon came up, but I was a day earlier before the full moon, so there was still an hour of sunlight left and the moon wasn't near as bright as last time.

It was a pretty quick slide down, even though I had to keep moving over to the left or right to find a good gravel slope to slide down. I did make one mistake, instead of going all the way down to the crater floor and easier flat hiking (and maybe even a trail), I decided to traverse the side of the crater about 2/3 of the way down, thinking it would be quicker. It turned out to be very rough, rocky and with tall grass, so it was hard to see where to step, as well as at a steep slope, slow and miserable going. About halfway back I decided to give up the slope and go down to the crater floor. There I found a trail going my way almost immediately and was soon back at where I started up the ridge, just as the sun was setting. I was about 30 minutes earlier than the last time but the moon was higher as well. After seeing a beautiful sunset, I had a nice moonlit hike home, and didn't even need to use my headlight. The first time I had to use it some, where the moon was still hidden behind the mountain or trees. Reminded me of how much I miss all the full moon hikes we did in Los Angeles before I came here.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Machu Picchu Peru - Home Of Gods

Many times we have listened of machu pichu peru, who have visited it will they give testimony and they have been amazed of the prowess of this indigenous people of the Andes that with their work, effort and patience, were able to live in the skies.

Peruvian cultural patrimony has its beginning in the wonderful Andean civilizations, which flourished previous to the Spaniards' appearance. Peru's archaeological treasures such as machu picchu are evidence of many significant achievements similar to those of other great civilizations.

At the present time, different musical expressions, dances and songs, folkloric festivities (religious or not), arts and crafts, gastronomy and other activities (that varies according to different regions) are important expressions of Peruvian and Latin-American cultural heritage.

Peru was the cradle of the Inca empire, and later the seat of the Viceroyalty of Peru which had jurisdiction over all of Spanish South America with Cusco Peru the most important and capital city. It is the home of many indigenous ethnic groups. Popular celebrations are the product of every town's traditions and legends. These celebrations gather music, dances, meals and typical drinks. In addition to the religious celebrations like Christmas, Corpus Christi or Holy Week, there are others that express the syncretism of the indigenous peoples' beliefs with the Christians'. An example of this kind of celebration is the Alasitas (an Aymara word that, according to some studious people, would mean «buy me») that combines a crafts and miniatures fair with dances, meals and a mass.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Beauty Of Florida Awaits You For Your Vacations

If you decide to go on vacations and are considering Florida as your destination, here are some topics that will convince you of its convenience. Let me assure you that The Sunshine State will offer you all the peace and rest that you are seeking along with entertainment and joy all mixed up and all in the appropriate measure. You'll get back from your vacations feeling brand new.

Main Tourist Attractions On Florida

On Florida you'll learn that there are many different things to be done and to visit on vacations. For instance, you have the beaches: Daytona Beach, Miami Beach, Palm Beach and also Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Saint Augustine, etc. You'll enjoy the beautiful sand and sea along with all the services provided by the shore-by resorts that can make life at the beach a lot more enjoyable.

You'll also have shopping centers on all major cities, especially in Miami where you can find probably the biggest shopping centers of the whole country offering all kind of products, brands and models. The culinary offer is also outstanding, there are restaurants offering food from all over the world: Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, French, Italian, and all the regular American gastronomic options for those who are a bit conservative when it comes to eating.

And let's not forget that in Orlando, you can find Disney World whit the most technological advanced entertainment shows with lasers, special effects and marvelous games for the joy of both small kids and grown up ones too.

Benefits Of Being Close To Home

Wherever you reside, Florida is close to home. At most, you can get back after a 2 hour flight; Actually, Florida IS home and you'll soon realize that. You get the perfect paradise beaches without having to deal with a different language and currency. Everything will be familiar, yet different and more enjoyable. And you'll surely rest unworried knowing that if something happens you can communicate and travel instantly without hassles at all.

Special Offers And Loans For Financing

Paying for your vacations doesn't have to imply sacrifices. If you don't have enough savings you can purchase all inclusive packages in Florida with your credit card or if you are more of the adventurous type and want to avoid high interests, you can resort to secured or unsecured loans that will come with lower rates and longer repayment programs and leave your credit card's limits unaffected to pay for other expenses while you are enjoying your vacations.

Just search the internet for holiday loans and you'll be presented with thousands of results to choose from. You can't imagine how many offers on loans for going on vacations are out there. Just give it a try!

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Gites Were Originally Started To Help The Falling Income Of Agriculture Industry In France

I remember my first stay in a gite de France and I will never forget it. Every time we switch on an electric appliance the lights would blow. The wiring would glow during the night which was pehraps our only form of heating. The beds were from the Victorian age, this is only a guess as they were only 1.50 meters long and my legs would hang out the bottom of the bed so the French mosquitoes could enjoy an English holiday maker. The shower was not much better, enough hot water for one person per day. Do not worry things have changed. Now days gite de France is a well organized. All those offering gites have regular inspections by gite de France and have to comply to the regulations of gite de France. All gites are classified according to their location, comfort and amenities and on merit are awarded by an "ear de corn" ranging from one to four. What is a French Gite Holiday in a French Gites Like ? For those of us that have used gite de France or had a gite holiday in a French gites we immediately relate the word French gite to holiday accommodation which is exactly what it is. But it is strange that the word gite or French gites is not used in the English speaking part of the world except when referring to France. Even the English and other nationalities that have settled in France use the word French gite or gite to explain their holiday accommodation. In France many forms of gite or gites exist such has Gite Rural, Gite Chambre d'hotes, Gite d'enfants, Gite d'etape et gite de sejour and Gite accessible. gite rural limousin. The word gite is also becoming popular with different regions of France for instant you have gite de Charente or Gite Rural Limousin last month alone there was 569 searches each day for the word gite rural limousin. In our village they have started a website called Brossac Gites and there are over 300 gites upon it.

French Gite Holiday

A typical French gite holiday After you have made your booking, which can be done in advance by witting, by telephone or on the Internet you load up your car with all that you may need including your bed linen toweling and probably a lot more than you will ever use you head off for the voyage ahead car full of kids and thoughts of previous French gite holidays. After negotiating the auto routes, service stations and not forgetting the peage (Otherwise know as a donation to the auto route de France) Eventually you arrive to be welcomed by the gite owner. You are all prepared with your rusty knowledge of the French language only to find the owner is Belgium or English and speaks perfect English. This could be the case now days as many foreigner who have settled in France run Gites or Gite holidays and do so very well. After you have unloaded the car made up the beds you may have time to rustle up something to eat before you can settle back and relax. The next morning it is up and off to the village to take on some bread and other French delicacies for breakfast (Remember they close at midday). You just have time to finish the last croissant and clear up the breakfast dishes before you are off to the supermarche to stock up and do not forget Lunch today. If you are like me you arrive at the supermarche just in time for Lunch closing and have to come back again at 3.00 o'clock. Well what ever you end up fighting your way round the supermarche eventually you check out Normally they have 5 cash desks but only one in operation because of staff holidays, I wonder if they are having a gite holiday in a gite rural limousin or Charente. Anyway it is back to the Gite for Lunch (Thats if you made it before 12) and maybe just maybe you will have time for an excursion. The days normally pass this way it is a bit like being at home doing what you normally do but in a different place.having said all this I have had some great gite holidays and some awful ones as well but, I would recommend that you take one and then let me know or write an article and I will put it upon this page.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Forget Flying - Take A Snow Train To The Alps

I've realised that planning a holiday is one of the most stressful experiences. I thought booking for two people was bad – try booking for a whole group. Adding to the stress is modern day air travel. Restrictions on hand luggage, costs for taxes, costs for extra bags, costs for extra leg room, flights cancelled due to strikes. The stress is never ending.

Flying to London once a week from Edinburgh, I get to see my fair share of delays and extra costs, so when I came to booking a group ski holiday I decided to avoid risking a repeat experience.

Choosing not to fly to the French Alps leaves two options. One, a 24 hour coach journey with cramped seats or secondly, take the train. The big issue here though is price. A typical return coach journey from London to Tignes costs £109 (quoted by National Express) whereas a return train journey using Eurostar's overnight ski train service costs around £219 for a standard return ticket in March.

Ruling out the coach journey, I decided to go for the train. The other major factor between travelling by air and rail is carbon dioxide emissions. With all the publicity surrounding man made global warming, travelling by train is the eco-tourists choice of travel. Typical CO2 emissions for a return flight to France are estimated at 250kg/CO2. The equivalent journey by train sees emissions cut to around 40kg/CO2.

Having made my decision to travel by train I looked into the other benefits of travelling on snow trains. The two main snow train providers are Eurostar and Rail Europe, both of whom operate day and night services to the French Alps. On the night train, Rail Europe's snow trains have a bar and a disco carriage. A couple of glasses of wine followed by some cheesy dancing and you can then retire to the four or six berth couchette accommodation (located well away from the disco carriage).

Another great benefit of taking the train is the ability to carry your skis or snowboard free of charge, unlike air travel where you normally have to pay at least £15 per ski set, per flight.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of all is two additional days skiing. Normally when you pay for a weeks ski holiday you travel Saturday to Saturday but by taking the snow train and travelling overnight, you can ski both Saturdays and get two additional days skiing. Marvellous.

With only 3 overnight ski trains left this season, the snow train is definitely worth considering for a final fling on the slopes.

For more information please refer to;

Rail Europe

Trainmountain – Snow Train Destinations

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Family Ski Vacations: Practical Christmas Vacation Ideas for Families Who Love Winter Sports

Family ski vacations are among the most popular Christmas vacation ideas now days. These vacations are great fun if you are into winter sports.

All it requires is for you to take your family to a ski resort during the Christmas vacations and enjoy the various winter sports activities like skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and tubing.

If you do not know any of these sports, a skiing vacation is the best time to learn them. You can also teach these sports to your kids - after all there is no better time to learn than childhood. Family ski vacations are not just about skiing and other sports. There are other fun things that you can do with your kids, like getting them to enjoy the snow.

Why would you want to plan your family ski vacation during the Christmas holidays?

Because, with the onset of the winter, many people experience the winter blues. The best antidote for these blues is sitting down and coming up with some great Christmas vacation ideas. Family ski vacations during your Christmas holidays can be great therapy, and can give you the chance to recharge your batteries for the coming months ahead.

Another practical reason for planning family ski vacations during the Christmas holidays is that during these vacations, you get enough time off, no matter which walk of life you come from. School-going kids get a long holiday during this period. The more time you get to stay away holidaying, the fresher you will feel. Also, this will give you more time to learn and hone your skiing skills.

So does planning the ideal family ski vacation difficult? While family ski vacations may be great Christmas vacation ideas, the next thing to do after deciding to take one is to plan for it.

The first step in planning such a vacation is to identify a good ski resort in a scenic locality, a place that is child-friendly and has good accommodations. All ski resorts may not be suitable for families and skiers who are at the beginners' level. While some resorts may have lovely accommodations, the skiing slopes may not be suitable for beginners.

However, it will not be difficult for you to find such a resort, as there are plenty of resorts that are great for new skiers.

Once you have identified a few such ski resorts, you now need to look at which of these offers the best holiday package.

Your idea behind a skiing vacation is to pack in skiing with having fun with the rest of the family as well, and the resort you choose should fulfill that objective.

If there are beginners in your family, choose a resort that has all the required conveniences, and has slopes that are specially oriented so as to enable the newcomers to come back to the top easily. The resort that you choose should provide you, as well as other beginners, with all the required equipment, such as boots, skis.

The resort would also provide you with poles and training sessions. You can learn skiing with your own family here.

Now days, there are numerous ski resorts, all of which provide custom or specially-designed slopes and facilities for profit in their business, by providing their customers good facilities. Also there are numerous ski resorts offering free tickets for kids.

There are other incentives as well – some offer free tickets and free lodging while buying a ticket for you. Again, some of them have childcare facilities, also. They take special care of those children who are raw in this sport and easily get tired on the slopes.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Luxury Golf, Luxury Vacation - All In One Small Country

To many Golfing enthusiasts the best vacation is a Golfing vacation. It's a great way to get a group of friends together and bond in ways only golfers know. Golf is very revealing about ones personality.

There are few poker faces on the golf course and the physical and mental demands of the game take hold of the persona and shake out that solid corporate person you left at the office. There are some wonderful northern hemisphere locations for golfing vacations: Ireland, Scotland and Florida. But for those who want to venture further a-field in off-season, consider heading south to New Zealand.

Basking in temperate climate ideal for outdoor pursuits, New Zealand proudly boasts a number of internationally graded golf courses, and in recent years, adjacent accommodation has reached a similar standard. With favourable exchange rates, New Zealand is a perfect golf vacation destination.

Golf is a national pastime in New Zealand, with one of the highest golf players per capital world-wide. It's people are sporting, friendly and not too timid to take on a Northerner on the golf course. But if you prefer to get away from the golfing masses, New Zealand has a selection of top class golfing resorts.

It's hard not to sound like a travel brochure when describing these courses, but being familiar with each of these locations, I am only too eager to share my top picks heading from North to South.

Carrington Resort - Northland

Carrington Resort is located on the Karikari Peninsula, halfway between Doubtless Bay and the northern spit. With panoramic sea views from several holes, the course lies within the boundaries of an extensive vineyard and winery – the perfect combination for a golfing vacation.

The course is relatively new, opening in 2002, and was recently redesigned by Matt Dye to give an interesting and challenging test for golfers of all levels. For those that prefer to see sand on the beach rather than the golf course during their vacation, you will be delighted that the course in not heavily bunkered.

The accommodation matches the course in terms of quality with a members area providing common meeting ground for rehashing the golfing prowess of the day before relaxing to dine in an equally superb restaurant, naturally with its own excellent wine cellar. And for partners not into the golfing frenzy there is a range of fitness and exploring options ideal for unwinding after a long flight.

Kauri Cliffs - Bay of Islands, Northland

Moving down the coast a bit we come upon Kauri Cliffs, with 180 degree views of the Pacific Ocean, Cape Brett and the Cavalli Islands. Opened in 2000, the 6510 metre par 72 golf course was designed by David Harman, Orlando, Florida. Kauri Cliffs will test the best, and was named 49th best golf course in the world by Golf magazine and awarded Best New International Golf Course in 2001 by Golf Digest.

Its holes wind through marsh, forest and farmland, and of the 15 holes with sea views, six are played along sea plunging cliff-tops. There's no retrieving those water shots here!

Non-golfers can enjoy the spa and pool facilities, or venture to one of three private beaches. For a little more adventure, try fishing, sea kayaking or hunting possum or wild boar with a resort guide.

Gulf Harbour - Whangaparoa Peninsula, North Auckland

Gulf Harbour, just 40 minutes north of Auckland is another cliff hugging course, designed by American designer Robert Trent Jones Jr. It hosted the 1998 World Cup of Golf and 2005 NZ Open. As an important part of a residential / hotel / marina complex, the course claims to offer "one of the best golfing experiences for players of all handicaps".

Gulf Harbour Country Club has an association with nearby Gulf Harbour Lodge to provide accommodation packages, giving it a pseudo resort persona. A magical area for a relaxing after dinner stroll around the marina.

Lakes Resort - Coromandel

Moving further down the North Island, on the eastern coast you will find Lakes Resort on the Coromandel Peninsula, well known for its white sand beaches, boating and adventure activity. The Lakes Resort golf course, designed by Canadian firm Sid Puddicombe Associates, claims to have 'the best back nine holes in New Zealand'. Its wetlands, native bush and white sand bunkers typify the diverse landscape that makes New Zealand so beautiful.

Non-golfers are not forgotten with deep sea fishing, sea kayaking tours, swimming with dolphins, snorkelling and diving in some of the clearest and most beautiful coastal waters of New Zealand. But don't let all this talk of natural splendour fool you. The greens at The Lakes are without question among the best in New Zealand; being made from L93 Bent grass developed at the University of Georgia in the U.S.

Wairakei International - Bay of Plenty, Taupo

Moving inland to the center of the North Island is another NZ, golfing showcase, the Wairakei International. Wairakei borders the spectacular Lake Taupo at the southern end of the countries main volcanic region. One of New Zealand's oldest courses, its grand wooden boundaries and recent upgrades maintain its status of one of New Zealand's finest golf courses.

For the luxury seeking, Huka Lodge, on the banks of the Waikato River above the Huka Falls, is only a few minutes drive. Relax at the end of the day with fishing pole and superb NZ wine. A real mans dream.

Cape Kidnappers - Hawkes Bay

Venturing back out to the East Coast from Taupo to the Hawkes Bay we have Cape Kidnappers, well known for its gannet colony, but better known amongst golfers for its wineries. Natural features aside, we have another cliff top surprise for you with the Cape Kidnappers course.

Built on a ridge-and-valley landscape with spectacular sea views, this course boasts one of the great golf holes of the world. Cape Kidnappers is a par-71, 6400metre course and an ideal location for your teams long drive contest. The back tees are more suited to single-figure handicappers long and straight off the tee. But don't fret - there are four other tee boxes. A spectacular and challenging course.

There is a wide range of private lodge style accommodation in this region to choose from and its winery based cuisine is world-class. There is no boredom for either golfers or non-golfers in this region.

In the next article we will take a detailed look at our South Island golfing treats at:

Clearwater Resort - Christchurch Terrace Downs - Canterbury High Country Millbrook Resort - Queenstown

New Zealand has taken a unique step in recognising the high quality demanded by international golfers, Tourism New Zealand, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, New Zealand Golf Association, and the New Zealand PGA formed a quality-control group 'The Best of Golf New Zealand'. All of the above courses have met their approval.

The Grand Canyon SkyWalk is Ready!!!

Hey, I visited Grand Canyon last year - Nov - concluding my trip to Vegas. Took the air, helicopter trip over the to the Hualapai reservation - part of the privately held Grand Canyon - owned by the Indian Tribe. The tribesmen were really pissed with the project - thought it would never really complete - it was already 18 months since it started and some pissed that other tour attractions were going to take a hit. The walkway was lying around gathering dust while some work was going on around the canyon edges. Did see the steel cubes and steel logs which I understand now were meant to roll the walkway over. The Skywalk is about 70 feet over the rim and close to 4,000 feet over the canyon floor and some million odd pounds- designed to withstand 150 mph winds. They told that is has some shock absorbers to keep the walkway from wobbling as people walk through. It would be scary to walk over the canyon if the damn thing wobbles. It is certainly going to be a great sight - getting completed today. Hope it brings some riches to the empoverished Indian tribes in the region.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Yoga Tour India

Yoga seeks to unite the individual soul with the universal Soul or God through a sustained effort to control one's mental and physical faculties. A yoga tour in India therefore, is the ideal way not just to seek the union but also to relax and rejuvenate oneself. Stress and fatigue have become a part of our daily lives and yoga is the best way to chill out and relax. Apart from maintaining body weight and flexibility, yoga increases your energy level and productivity.

Take a yoga tour to one of the destinations in India and bring in the healing secrets of the past into your modern day lives. A yoga tour in India can be exciting if you plan it well. You will get a chance to learn about the age old therapies of keeping physically fit which will lead to genuine inner contentment and self-actualization. Contrary to the popular belief, yoga can be practiced by everyone and has an amazing effect on the body and mind energies allowing one to deal with life's ups and downs with a sense of equanimity.

The yoga tours in India include a tour to North India, tour to South India, Kailas-Mansarover Tour. Most travel agencies offer a yoga tour to cities like Delhi, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Jaipur and Agra as these cities are regarded rich in the age old cultures. A yoga tour can last from 8-15 days and you can even catch on the chance to stay in an ashram or a camp. If you want to enjoy the luxuries, you can take a yoga tour by staying at hotels or resorts that provide an ultimate luxury experience.

Apart from this there are some resorts who offer special facilities for relaxation and the teaching of yoga by expert teachers. Yoga and meditation classes are held every day in the pollution free and green environment. It is followed by a good balanced-diet meal for optimum results. If one adopts this way of living in their daily lives, they can lead a healthy and an illness-free life forever.

You can also plan a customized yoga tour where you can opt to go to places selected according to your own preference. The package that you pay for any yoga tour in India organized by any travel agency or agent would normally include accommodation, all meals as per the program, and all transport arrangements as per the program by car and driver, transport by train or plane as decided with meals and services of a guide.
Take a yoga tour in India and learn the secrets of leading a stress-free and a healthy life.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Discover Exciting Family Getaway Adventures

One thing many parents want their kids to experience is culture in other countries. One way to ensure that they are able to do this is to take them on vacations to these other countries. Through adventure vacations, you can have all the planning done for you. You only have to show up at the designated time and place. Here are a few family adventure vacations that will ensure you and your family have a wonderful time.

Go to Peru and follow in the footsteps of the Incas. Prices are about $2595 per person, and includes 13 nights in hotels or lodges, 12 days of multi-activity and sightseeing including easy trekking. There are a lot of things included in a package like this. You will get a professional English-speaking local leader, internal flights and associated airport transfers, and all land transportion involved in the itinerary. There will be hotel, hostal, hacienda and jungle lodge accommodation for a total of 13 nights.

A guided sightseeing tour of Cusco and a tour on horseback of some of the sights near to the city are also included. All rafting equipment will be provided along with professional English and Spanish-speaking river guides, trained in first-aid, swift water rescue and C.P.R. If you care to participate, mountain bikes, bike gloves and helmets will also be provided. A guided tour is provided at Machu Picchu and the entrance fees at Machu Picchu are also included. Meals are provided, except for some lunches and dinners.

If you want your children to experience a different culture, but can't afford to go out of the country, you might try taking them out west, to experience life back when it was simpler. This trip can cost around $2795, and includes 2 nights in hotels, 5 nights in cabins and 7 nights camping, 13 days multi-activity and sightseeing including easy trekking.

You will have a professional local driver/guide, all land transport involved in the itinerary, including a 2-day rafting tour on the Colorado River and jeep tours above Telluride and at Monument Valley. You will go to National parks, where the entrance fees will be paid for. You will have hotel accommodation in Denver and in Las Vegas, 5 nights' campground cabin accommodation, and 7 nights' camping in tents. This also includes campground fees and all equipment (not personal equipment).

Most meals are included, with the exception of dinners on Days 1, 2, 5 and 14, breakfast on Day 2 and lunch on Day 2. You will be enjoying the great outdoors while riding around a working ranch on horseback, jeep and all-terrain vehicles. Sleeping under the stars and singing songs around campfires never sounded like so much fun.

Just remember, kids love to learn about different ways of life. Whether that means visiting another country or just going to a different state, they will come away with a lot of knowledge about the places they have been and things they have seen. Not only that, they will have had fun in the process. They will look forward to that "What I did this summer" essay when school starts back up!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Being Smart With Your Holiday Car Rental; Know Before You Go

Car rental suppliers sometimes get stuck in the same category as car- sales people, meaning that most people don't like them and want to avoid all contact with them.

A survey done by car hire booking agent, Vroom Vroom Vroom, revealed that most renters of their feel they've been duped by a supplier in some way. Out of 745 respondents to the survey, almost half of the responses were negative. Almost 200 had replied that they felt the suppliers had misrepresented themselves to them regarding their rental costs, and another 112 felt like their experience hadn't been up to par.

From what the Vroom survey results say, the feeling of skepticism seems to be justified. It's quite un- nerving just how many car renters don't feel that the major suppliers are living up to expectations. While the majority seem to think the global brands are doing a good job, a fair amount of renters have been disillusioned after their experiences with one.

The main issue will always be added costs on top of the quotes originally given out to customers. The Vroom office gets countless emails from concerned renters, wanting to double check whether the quote is final, or if they will be slapped with lots of other fees when they arrive.

While Vroom can safely say that their quotes always include all fees charges and taxes, the biggest problem as an agent, is making renters aware of their terms and conditions. You'd be surprised how many customers only decide to ask questions after they've already made a booking. Situations like that are what lead to confusion at the reservation desk and complaints about misrepresentation.
In simple terms, you need to read the terms and conditions before you book, if you don't like what you read, you can always book with another supplier.

You can find the terms and conditions of each car by clicking on the one you like and scrolling down to the box below the booking form. All details are listed here, including the rental requirements, insurance excesses and terms and conditions.

In the end, you are paying for your car rental and you deserve to be kept in the loop. You shouldn't pay to have the wool pulled over your eyes, so be sure to get what you pay for and know what you're entitled to before you arrive.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Quick Tips for a Cheap Disney Vacation

As far as family vacations are concerned, there is no worthy competitor to the best theme park destination of all time. Disney World has drawn millions of people throughout its history, and its continued commitment to customer service and expansion insures that millions more will flock to this vacation wonderland. Planning a trip to Disney World is relatively easy with the wide array of online tools available, but finding the cheapest Disney vacation options requires a little more research. Here are some simple strategies to getting the best discounts on your Disney World trip.

Do all of your research before booking your vacation. The most common mistake made by first-time Disney vacationers is allowing the excitement of their trip to lead to impulse decisions. Most reservations involved with your vacation will require some sort of security deposit. Failing to investigate all of your available options could lead to unnecessary expenses. Unfortunately, if you do find a better deal, you will likely lose your deposit from the original reservation.

Create a comprehensive budget for your vacation. It is impossible to find the best deal for your family unless you know how much you have to spend. Estimate the costs associated with all aspects of your vacation. This includes obvious categories such as lodging and travel, but should also take into account expenses associated with park admission, rental cars, dinning, souvenirs, and fun money. Remember that all of these items typically cost about 30% more in the prime Disney tourist zones. You will become a better shopper once you have an understanding of your family's needs and financial limitations.

Consider using a Disney vacation package, but beware of the fine print. Vacation packages are a great way to streamline the costs of a Disney World vacation. Disney offers a number of different options within their "Magic Your Way" packages. Each option offers different levels of inclusive costs, such as lodging, park tickets, and meals. While this can be a great alternative to the pay-as-you-go strategy, the items included with each package tend to have strict restrictions. Make sure you are able to use all the package benefits in the time you will visit Disney. Too many people waste their money by upgrading to packages with features they will never use. This is the trap that marketers hope you will fall into – leaving hundreds of unused dollars on the table.

Explore the many different options available outside of Disney World. The area surrounding Disney world is filled with great attractions and alternative lodging options. Becoming familiar with them will open up many avenues to saving money on your vacation. Consider spending two or three days directly on-site of the park and then transferring to a cheaper off-site hotel. This will not only save you money on lodging and dinning, but it will also add some new excitement to your vacation.

Planning ahead is the most crucial part of securing the cheapest Disney vacation. It is amazing how many people simply sign up for the first package offer they find on the internet. This is not to say that these families won't have fun, but the smart shopper can greatly enhance their vacation with a little research. If you are unfamiliar with the resources available online, or simply don't have the time to bargain shop; then visit Here you will find all of the information you need to make informed planning decisions for your Disney World Vacation.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The 10 Most Stupid Camping Mistakes In The World

What a great thing it is to be man, master of all we survey.

With the new camping season upon us today is just taking some time to reflect on some of the stupidest camping mistakes we have made and which we have heard about. If you would like to share some of your stories for our next book please email us from the web link below.

Remember, these are all actual things we have either done or seen done, they are not urban myths, which just goes to show how even the simple things in life like camping can be eye opening...

1. It is raining or windy outside so let's start the fire inside the tent.

2. Pitching the tent or swag in a "dry" creek/river/gully bed with a storm coming.

3. Setting up camp below the high water mark on an ocean tidal riverbank. (That actually was pretty funny to wake up with waves washing through the swag).

4. Testing the pan toffee (liquid molten hot boiling sugar in a pan over an open fire, usually eaten AFTER it cools down and hardens) with a finger (I still can't believe he did that) and the very next day putting an unopened can of baked beans in the fire to warm them up... Mental Note never go camping with this guy ever again.

5. Driving away from the campsite to get some supplies with the tent still set up and roped to the car.

6. Watching with no concern the kids go swimming at dusk, with dogs, in an ocean inlet next to where fishermen are cleaning fish and where signs are posted saying "beware shark infested waters" (When we told the local Police they just shook their head at the stupidity).

7. Leaving dinner meat out to defrost inside a tent in bear/crocodile country and expecting the animal to not tear the tent to pieces trying to get at the meat. At least it was in a plastic bag so the flies wouldn't get at it.

8. Camping near the edge of a cliff, getting up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet, tripping over the tent rope and over the edge of the cliff.

9. Doing the dinner washing up in crocodile infested waters. Have these people no idea how fast those things are? They can drag grown horses into the water. Oh yeah and then that night going swimming in the same river. They must have had some serious angels watching over them.

10. Using petrol or gasoline to get that stubborn fire moving along nicely in wet weather. I knew it was stupid but thought I would be able to step back quick enough, gee that fireball moves fast!

I know we said 10 but can't go past these last two...

11. trying to hand feed (take your pick we have heard them all) that cute looking possum, baby bear, fox, fruit bat. The claws people, what do you think the claws are for?

12. Too tired at the end of the camping birthday party to clean up the leftover food and woke up in the middle of the night to find every possum within about 30 miles having a fight over the leftover chocolate birthday cake. But wait here is the good bit, when I went outside (in my undies) with a broom to chase them away they ran at me, actually ran at me and tried to bite/attack/slash me!

I had gone from a warm cosy bed to being attacked by possums in my undies in the middle of the night, all to save some chocolate birthday cake.

On that note hope you had a good laugh and hope none of these things ever happen to you.

Another time we will post an article on some of the fishing misadventures we have had and seen and heard about. Please let us know your favourite stories for the new book...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Kenya Safari Park Lodges - 9 Finest Lodge & Camps in Kenya Parks

Budget and Medium Lodge and camp accommodation

Camping is essentially your only option if you want to stay in the park but cant spring for a proper lodge. If you don't want to camp but are happy sleeping outside the park, head for Voi.

1. Ndololo Safari camp

A great value tented camp run by the owners of the Tsavo Park Hotel in Voi. The 22 comfortable tents have knotted wooden furniture, mosquito nets and canvas toilet and shower cubicles. A buffet lunch here costs Kshs 850, and there is a good bar. The camp also offers nature walks with Masai guide.

There is a US$10 park camping fee on top of the room rates. Prices for this Kenya tented camp are US$35/60/80 for s/d/tr in low season and US$40/70/90 for high season.

2. Tarhi Safari Camp

Owned and run by a German company, this is another reasonably priced tented camp right on the edge of the Voi River, about 14km east of Voi gate. It's a lovely peaceful spot. Rates include meals and wildlife walks with Maasai guide. It's technically a special campsite, so an additional camping fee of US$15 is levied. Prices of the camp are US$60/100 for half board.

3. KWS Campsite

There is a single camping area with basic toilets near Kanderi Swamp. Elephants wander through here all the time. You can always pop in for a beer or a meal at the Ndololo camp if you book in advance. There are also a few special campsite (adult/child US$15/5), which move from year to year.

Top end/Luxury Park accommodation

4. Voi safari Lodge

Just 4km from Voi gate, this is a cracking lodge owned by Kenya safari lodges and hotels. It's a long, low complex perched on the edge of an escarpment over looking an incredible sweep of savannah, with a rock-cut swimming pool and a natural waterhole that attracts elephants, buffaloes and the occasional predator. Rather chubby rock hyraxes sun themselves on the ledges. Facilities include several restaurant and bars

5. Kilalinda Safari eco-lodge

Proof that even top-end resorts can take environmental issues seriously, this very fine eco-lodge was built without felling a single tree.

Accommodation is in luxury cottages; if you really want to splash out, opt for the Twiga suite (single/double US$525/786), which has its own private Jacuzzi. All guests pay a US$20 conservation fee that goes into assisting local community projects and maintaining the surrounding wildlife conservancy.

6. Satao Safari Camp

On the Voi River, this is a popular up market tented camp run by top class operator Southern Cross safaris. It's nicely laid out, with 20 canopied tents surrounding a water-hole and you can take guided bush walks (US$30) and hire jeeps for wildlife drives (US$100 per day).

A sister camp, Satao Rock camp, in the Taita Hills Reserve should now be open for business. Price ranges for Satao camp is US$ 80/120 in low and US$160/200 for high season.

7. Galdessa Safari Camp

On the Galana River, 15km west of Lugard Falls, this place is close to the rhino sanctuary and is heavily involved in rhino conservation projects. It's very eco-friendly but frighteningly expensive, especially if you wish to book the eight tents for exclusive use.

These rates include wildlife drives. Prices here are US$336/512 for a s/d in the low season and US$ 446/684 in the high season.

8. Epiya Chapeyu Tented Camp

A decent tented camp in a lovely glade by the Galana River, shaded by some palm trees. Wildlife walks and drives are available. The camp is run by an Italian company, and caters for fellow Italians. Prices at this camp are US$$72/144 for a s/d.

9. Patterson's Safari Camp

Further west is another tented camp with the usual self-contained safari perma-tents. It's a relaxed place, only 9km from Tsavo Gate, and it sits on the spot where Patterson finally a hunted down the man-eaters of Tsavo. So far no vengeful lion spirits (or relatives) have turned up to try and get their own back…

The African safari club owns the tented crocodile camp, close to the Sala Gate; there are several more private camps outside the park here Prices of the Patterson's tented accommodation camp are US$65/90 in the low season and US$ 85/120 in the high season.