Aspiring Backpacker - Just read up and set off! http://aspiringbackpacker.com Showing you how to backpack around the world. Fri, 28 Aug 2015 08:20:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru – Two birds with one stone http://aspiringbackpacker.com/2015/08/kilimanjaro-mount-meru-birds-stone/ http://aspiringbackpacker.com/2015/08/kilimanjaro-mount-meru-birds-stone/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 08:20:49 +0000 http://aspiringbackpacker.com/?p=4204 By Burnham Arlidge

Standing at almost 6,000 meters, Kilimanjaro is the highest free standing mountain on earth and draws thousands of tourists a year, all with the dream of reaching the roof of Africa. Its rugged beauty, stunning vistas and changing landscape make for one of the best treks in the world.

 

However, standing 70km South-west of the mountain is Kilimanjaro’s little brother – Mount Meru. The fourth highest peak in Africa, Meru is an active volcano (although dormant) with a rim-lined crater extending across the entire East flank of the mountain with a drop off of 1,500 meters, making it one of the highest cliff faces in Africa.  Standing just over a 1,000 meters shorter, Meru is often overshadowed and overlooked by its larger brother.  Meru though is an incredible trek in its own right and there are a number of reasons why people looking to climb Kilimanjaro should seriously consider climbing Meru first.

Why climb Meru

Firstly, as mentioned above, thousands of tourists descend upon Kilimanjaro every year – this is not the case with Meru. Although Meru is beautiful and offers a lot of things Kilimanjaro can’t, it still experiences only a tiny percentage of tourists compared to its big brother. This fact makes for a far more relaxed and authentic trek with none of the wild magic being lost by the hordes of climbers.

Another reason to climb Meru is its wildlife. For any animal lovers out there Meru is the place to climb! The lower reaches of the mountain are so abundant in wildlife that it is mandatory for an armed park ranger to accompany you on Meru. You will almost certainly see buffalo, monkeys, warthogs and a wide array of African birds and, if you get lucky, zebra and giraffe also!

The Meru trek is a beautiful one. The jungle landscape on the lower reaches looks like something out the Jungle Book with its gnarled trees and criss-crossing vines. However, one of the main reasons people trek this route is for the crater rim walk near the summit that is very narrow, sharp falling and exhilarating – especially if it’s windy! Once on the summit you’re rewarded with some truly incredible 360 degree views of the surrounding landscape, including Kilimanjaro.

Acclimatization

One of the most notable reasons for climbing Meru is to use it as a warmup for Kilimanjaro, almost like a taster session. This is mainly for acclimatization purposes as altitude sickness can be a real problem on Kilimanjaro. Don’t underestimate Meru though, at 4,566 meters, it is a tough trek and easily high enough to induce altitude sickness – I was gulping for air up there and I’ve done my fair share of altitude trekking. Meru is useful in that it is high enough to force your body to acclimatize to the altitude, making the necessary changes it needs in order to account for the lack of oxygen. This makes trekking Kilimanjaro a much easier task as your body has already adapted before you ascend the larger mountain.

On top of the acclimatization, Meru prepares you for the same tour operation as Kilimanjaro. You have a guide and porters to carry your luggage and cook your meals. You move up through several climate and vegetation zones in 1 day and we summited the mountain in the dark – just like Kilimanjaro. We also descended over 2,000 meters in the same day which is a process followed on Kilimanjaro.

To summarize

I would strongly recommend anyone looking to climb Kilimanjaro to first consider trekking Meru. For myself, the trek up Meru almost eclipsed my trek up Kilimanjaro. The wildlife was highlight for me as we saw several zebra on top of the regular suspects. The landscape was similar to that of Kilimanjaro, but the lack of tourists made the trek feel slightly more special. The crater rim walk was one of the best bits and the views we had on summit morning were breath-taking. Therefore, I believe Meru is a must for any serious trekker who is venturing to Kilimanjaro.

 

     

 

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A Backpacker’s Guide to Melbourne http://aspiringbackpacker.com/2015/08/backpackers-guide-melbourne/ http://aspiringbackpacker.com/2015/08/backpackers-guide-melbourne/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 15:46:19 +0000 http://aspiringbackpacker.com/?p=3149 Melbourne is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, where tradition meets modernity. If you’re thinking about backpacking around Melbourne this year, then the city is also the perfect adventure holiday too, not least because of it’s fantastic array of attractions! Home to over 4 million Australians as well as people from all over the world, Melbourne can be found standing proud on the banks of the Yarra River, and it one of Australia’s top vacation destinations.

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The city is also home to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a spectacular example of amazing architecture and design. Nicknamed ‘the home of sport’, all major sporting events in Australia are held here, this is a stadium that simply can’t be missed. Let’s take a look at some of the other top attractions you simply can’t miss out on when backpacking across Melbourne this year!

 

Melbourne Museum

Entry to one the best museums in the world is only $10, and it’s open every day of the year meaning it is perfect for families, with kids even getting concession prices. Located in the north of the Melbourne Central Business District, Melbourne Museum is very easy to get to, and it’s surrounded by loads of restaurants, parks and shopping too.

No matter what time of year you visit, this museum will always be busy, however sampling the fantastic range of exhibits early before 11am will help you to beat the crowds, with the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre a tourist favourite. For the kids, the complete skeleton of a large blue whale is a particular highlight, and don’t forget to visit the cafe which offers some great local cuisine!

 

William Ricketts Sanctuary

William Ricketts was a great Australian sculpture born in Victoria, and this sanctuary is dedicated to his works. Not only is this public park open all year round, but there are beautiful pieces everywhere you look, making this sanctuary perfect for a romantic walk with your loved one. Purchased by the Victoria Government from private owners, the William Rickets Sanctuary is one of the most iconic places to visit in the city, and you can even have a picnic here with the family.

 

 

Brunswick Street

Brunswick Street is the activity center of Melbourne, where Australian lifestyle blends with unique fashion. From sampling some of the city’s best coffee houses to touring the local markets and stores, you could easily spend an entire day on Brunswick Street, not least because of the great tourist atmosphere. The shopping here is some of the best in Australia, and there are plenty of places to buy suitcases if yours isn’t going to fit all your purchases in! Brunswick Street is also very accessible, and there are great transport links at both ends, from busses to trains.

 

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Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort, Australia http://aspiringbackpacker.com/2015/08/aquis-great-barrier-reef-resort-australia/ http://aspiringbackpacker.com/2015/08/aquis-great-barrier-reef-resort-australia/#comments Wed, 05 Aug 2015 13:37:13 +0000 http://aspiringbackpacker.com/?p=3107 Aquis Resort 

The Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort is being hailed as a mega-complex to rival the great man-made structures found in Dubai, Singapore and Macau.

The plans for the Aquis are describe it as an innovative, exciting and a world-class integrated resort. There will be a variety of accommodation, including: 3,750 hotel rooms provided by 9 different luxury hotel brands, 1,180 apartments and 130 villas located on a beachside location at Yorkeys Knob. There will also be: an international class casino, two theatres, a sports stadium, an aquarium, a reef lagoon, a championship golf course and plenty of high-end shopping outlets.

The economy of North Queensland is highly dependent on tourism, and this resort is being touted as a way to provide a huge boost to its ailing economic situation. Recent figures have shown that less than a fifth of oversees tourists visiting Australia are heading north to areas such as Cairns. It is hoped that this resort will help to attract an influx of tourists, particularly from Asia. It has also been estimated that the Aquis will create 26,700 indirect and direct employment opportunities once it is operating, which will eliminate the current ‘low season’ unemployment issues in Cairns.

With 750 tables and 1500 machines, the Aquis Casino is sure to be a considerable draw for those who enjoy a holiday flutter. However, the developers are also keen to provide reassurance that the Aquis will completely comply with responsible gambling initiatives and understands the need to ensure there is an approach of personal and community support. Aquis hopes to be an Australia-wide leader when it comes to adopting international ‘best practice’ standards and policies for responsible gambling. The online casino operator Metro Play are looking forward to seeing the resort up and running in the near future, giving some of their customers a fantastic destination to plan a trip to.

The resort is sure to benefit from its close proximity to the incredible World Heritage Site, The Great Barrier Reef. In response to those who have raised concerns about a resort of this nature being constructed in this area, it should be noted that the Aquis will not provide marine access from the resort to the ocean, and therefore there would be little chance of any negative impact on the reef. The planning for the site has been conducted with consideration for environmental issues and with the aims of improving the environmental condition of the reef at this site.

If plans for the Aquis resort are approved, construction of the site will begin in 2014, with an estimated completion date of 2018.

 

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Traveling around Denmark away from the main attractions http://aspiringbackpacker.com/2015/07/traveling-denmark-main-attractions/ http://aspiringbackpacker.com/2015/07/traveling-denmark-main-attractions/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 15:23:32 +0000 http://aspiringbackpacker.com/?p=4193 Denmark is a beautiful country and offers many sights for tourists to explore. There are the picturesque castles and palaces around the capital, Copenhagen, as well as the clean beaches and stunning forests if you choose to travel further afield. If you’re looking for a different tourist experience, you’ll find a great range of attractions away from the main tourist sites.

 

Off the beaten track

For those who want to see the real Denmark, you need to look further than the general guidebooks. For instance, when you’re in Copenhagen, you could visit the neighborhood of Christiania, where you’ll find an eclectic mix of workshops and organic cafés, alongside the freethinking residents. They even provide guided tours throughout the year.

The country is renowned for its natural beauty, and one of the most picturesque areas is Northern Jutland. This offers fantastic landscapes, and the stunning beaches make it popular with locals and tourists. While you’re there, you can visit the spectacular sand-covered Buried Church.

Many tourists spend all their time in Copenhagen, but Aarhus, the second biggest city, also has plenty to see. It has an extensive range of nightlife and restaurants, as well as cultural and historical attractions such as the Aarhus Cathedral.

 

Sticking to a budget

Many people think of Denmark as an expensive country, but if you know where to go, it doesn’t have to be. The North Sea landscape is one of Denmark’s greatest sights. The cliffs and sand dunes are all free to explore and stretch along the west coast.

For getting around Copenhagen, you can hire a bicycle, which is an extremely popular option and very cheap. There are lots of routes that you can follow, and there are many cozy cafés where you can stop for a rest. While you’re cycling around, you can admire the country’s stunning architecture. Some of the buildings in Denmark date back 400 years, including mansions and castles. Many of these are open to the public, and entrance is often free.

 

Where to stay

Denmark offers a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and tastes. You can opt for one of the hotels in the cities or main tourist destinations or choose to camp out in the amazing countryside. If you want to go for something different, there are a range of apartments in Copenhagen and across the country that are available to hire on a short-term basis. These provide you with all the home comforts and are a great option if you want to stay together as a family. You can come and go as you please, and you don’t have the same restrictions on mealtimes as you would with a hotel. There are some delightful residencies to choose from.

A vacation to Denmark doesn’t have to be the same as every other trip or city break. There is so much to see and do in the country that you can spend your time away from the main tourist sites without feeling that you’re missing out.

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Five Unforgettable Dominican Moments You’ve Got to Try http://aspiringbackpacker.com/2015/07/unforgettable-dominican-moments/ http://aspiringbackpacker.com/2015/07/unforgettable-dominican-moments/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 07:43:07 +0000 http://aspiringbackpacker.com/?p=4188 The Dominican Republic is a diverse place to visit, satisfying many different tastes and desires. You may come for the beaches and the enticing all-inclusive resorts, but don’t leave before you check out…

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  1. The artisans’ village at La Romana

Situated on the southeast coast of the Dominican Republic, La Romana is home to the wonderfully interesting Altos de Chavón, which is a replica of a 16th-century artisans’ village. It’s also one of the island’s top spots to buy crafts.

Fashion fans will appreciate the area’s upscale Casa de Campo resort, as it’s decorated by Oscar de la Renta, Dominican designer of gowns to the stars. If you enjoy golf, Casa de Campo has one of the best courses in the Caribbean, and it boasts several hotels, lovely landscaped gardens, groomed tennis courts, a riding school, and polo grounds.

  1. Whale calving at Samaná Peninsula & Samaná Bay

This beautiful bay is dotted with islets and edged with beaches shaded by waving palms. There are many marine animals in the humid waters of Samaná Bay (Bahía Samaná), and the opportunity to scuba dive amongst them is not to be missed. But more splendid still is the sight of the humpbacked whales that come here to calve during January and February.

You can also visit the nearby Parque Nacional Los Haïtises, known for its rock formations, caves filled with birds, and pre-Colombian pictographs, set on a stunningly verdant collection of islands.

  1. White water rafting at Jarabacoa

The Rio Yaque del Norte, which is the Dominican Republic’s only whitewater river, runs through Jarabacoa, and offers gentle rapids for rafting. You’ll pass spectacular landscapes of pine forests and mountain scenery on your raft, and if they entrance you enough, you may find that you want to stay longer. Explore the rivers, waterfalls and peaks by mountain biking or hiking the many trails, and enjoy natural rock climbing here too. The alpine landscape and milder climate make active holidays here a joy.

  1. Sliding down the 27 waterfalls of Damajagua

More waterfalls await you at Damajagua—27 of them, in fact. To experience this series of cascades you must put in a little effort: From Puerto Plata, take a short drive, followed by a quick wade to the other side of the river, and then a hike through the abundant forests. It’s all worthwhile once you’re confronted by the beauty of the waterfalls; you can clamber onto the rocks underneath the spray and take in the peace of the surrounding landscape. And to get home again? Use the waterfalls as a giant natural waterslide and jump and slither back down.

  1. Dune-buggying at Punta Cana

For more excitement, head to Punta Cana. Located on the eastern tip of the Dominican Republic, this is an area packed with hotels and famed for its dreamlike beaches. Scape Park is nearby and offers a full menu of activities, with a zipline tour, dune buggies for hire, and swimming at the Hoyo Azul Lagoon.

If all this sounds exciting to you, you will find the Dominican Republic an easy place to fly to, with regular scheduled flights and a wide choice of resorts and hotels to stay in. For more details on the region, see how other travellers have rated it.  Here is one excellent guide, and you’ll also find that the Dominican Tourist Board provides solid, up to date information.

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The Most Popular Islands to Visit in Vanuatu http://aspiringbackpacker.com/2015/06/popular-islands-visit-vanuatu/ http://aspiringbackpacker.com/2015/06/popular-islands-visit-vanuatu/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 10:11:34 +0000 http://aspiringbackpacker.com/?p=4176 There isn’t a more beautiful place to visit this year than the south Pacific! In fact, it’s one of the most beautiful places just about any time of the year. More specifically, the country of Vanuatu is one of the more interesting and picturesque locations in that region. Consider that Vanuatu is a Y-shaped archipelago that consists of over 80 different islands. With so many different island’s how is one supposed to choose which ones are most worth visiting?

Tanna Island is probably the most popular and prevalent of all. On this island sits one of the most famous and accessible volcano’s in the world, Mount Yasur. It is so accessible that you can actually walk to the rim of the mouth, just be careful and follow the posted safety notices. If you fancy yourself the adventurous type there is plenty of swimming and snorkeling to be had. Tanna is home to natural underwater caves and gorgeous coral reefs. It’s also quite fun to visit the many local villages here and to take in all of the local customs.

Another popular island is Penecoste. An interesting and world famous ritual performed on this island is land diving. The locals have been practicing this for many years, and it is said to have given way to what most of us westerners know as “bungy jumping”. The only difference is that the locals are jumping from hand made towers of wood and dropping to the ground with only a vine attached to their ankles. This feat is said to showcase the male prowess and to bring fertile crops in the coming season.

No visit to Vanuatu is complete without stopping in Efate Island. This island is home to the country’s capital Port Vila. This is a hot commerce and tourism area so make sure to the check it out and you might find some good buys. Efate also has a plush rain forest.  This allows you to enjoy both a busy tourist and resort area, or to get away from it all in the remote wilderness.

Vanuatu is notoriously economical and budget friendly. If you happen to live in Australia it is a favorite vacation spot with many flights going to and from. It’s common to find cheap flights from Sydney to Vanuatu, so make sure to keep an eye out for upcoming summer deals.

 

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