Death Valley National Park has turned out to be one of my absolute favorite places in the world, and definitely my favorite California national park so far. The landscapes are bizarre and unique, and the park is large enough that you can have complete silence. We will definitely be back soon! (But not in the summer!)
Cotopaxi National Park is an intense experience that is not to be missed if you have an extra day in Quito, Ecuador. It's also a hike you don't want to underestimate! Check out our guide and review of Rebecca Adventure Travel as your choice for Cotopaxi hiking.
Getting from Los Angeles, California to Quito, Ecuador requires two flights and a layover. In our case, about 11 total hours of travel. For me, the thought of these long flights means anxiety. I get worried about having space for our carry on's (we never check) and about how uncomfortable we'll be. The result of which is often the next day of our trip being ruined by jet lag and exhaustion. Copa Airlines business class really ups the luxury and reduces your flight anxiety!
The Galápagos Islands are a gigantic national park owned by Ecuador that covers 3,087 square feet! To see all 20 islands you really do need to do a cruise, so the first question is: how much do you really want to see? (BTW, if you want to see all the islands expect to stay for weeks!) In reality, there are a number of islands available from the inhabited islands of Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, and Isabella. Enough for you to get a real sense of the major diversity in this wonderful park.
It's hard to imagine another park that can rival the beauty and glory of Yosemite National Park. Located in Central California, Yosemite National Park offers incredible landscapes, hiking for all skill levels, and some of the most stunning views in the world. The best part is that Yosemite is a relatively easy park to navigate! Consider some of our tips and experiences before planning your trip.
As a travel planner, I find booking transportation to be one of the most complicated parts of creating the perfect trip. One amazing lesson I have learned is, when possible, always book a local, private driver! In each case we have done this, we have been given unique side trips and tours that aren't listed on any website. Believe me, locals know best. You can read all the blogs you want by foreign travelers, but locals will always have the private tips to the less touristy spots and of course, the best food! This travel article is dedicated to our most favorite finds through our private, local drivers.
Chris and I live in Los Angeles. It's been our main travel port now for nearly 4 years, but prior to that our main international travel port was JFK in New York City. Talk about two of the most populated and difficult airports in the world! Let's start with a couple images
Peru is a South American country with so much amazing history and such incredible landscapes. It's hard to decide what to do! For us, the Salineras de Maras and Moray sites about 50 kilometers northwest of Cusco are an ABSOLUTE MUST! Not only are they beautiful and unique, but they are brilliant technological innovations.
Our trip to Peru began in the city of Cusco, but due to the high altitude (over 11k feet above sea level!) it was suggested to us to travel down in altitude so that we could acclimate to the altitude without getting altitude sickness. (Tip: Get the altitude medication BEFORE you leave the states! This helps your body to prepare for the incline and it helped us tremendously).
Dealing with money abroad can be complex, confusing, and sometimes inconvenient! It's easy to make mistakes and even lose money in the process. Consider these tips. Please click on the title of the link for the full article!
Joshua Tree National Park covers 1,200 square miles, if you can believe it! The park has three entrances. We have taken trips into all entrances, and I encourage you to utilize the West entrance, 5 miles south of the 62 on Park blvd.
This week's throw back is dedicated to one of our most favorite trips, Costa Rica! When planning for Costa Rica, you will see that you can can fly into San Jose or Liberia airports. Flying into San Jose brings you to the center of the country, which means a long way to the shores. We chose to fly into Liberia, and did not regret it! Liberia is a smaller airport, so it was a breeze to get through customs and immigration. This airport brings you to the absolutely gorgeous, Guanacaste region. You will pay a little more for this airport, but not enough to make it not worth it!
Guanacaste is the Northern Pacific region of Costa Rica. This area is unique because it has what is called a "tropical dry forest." From December to May, this area has a "drought". This makes the region more tolerable because there is low humidity, although you still get the heat!
IF IT'S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS!
When searching for flights for an upcoming trip to the Galapagos, I used Kayak to help me set my expectations. Those were destroyed when I realized that Kayak was showing me fares not really available. Check out this one:
This is a flash back post to January, 2012. Chris and I decided to make our first trip to the Asian continent, which included Beijing, China, Siem Reap, Cambodia, and many cities in Thailand. We chose to visit Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We had heard from a friend that was an absolutely amazing experience. Tourists have to be careful with attractions where you are getting up close and personal with wild animals like these. There are a lot of reports of abuse. We chose Patara because it had a stellar reputation for being a sanctuary and successful breeding facility, and we were not disappointed!
Patara's claim to fame is "owning an elephant for a day," and they are not kidding. Unlike other elephant meeting destinations where 50 people ride one sad elephant, Patara provides each of its visitors with their own...FOR THE ENTIRE DAY! There are small groups as well, and each elephant comes with a unique handler who stays with you the entire time.
Our day started off with a meet and greet with some babies. Patara is known for their successful breeding. If you follow them on Facebook, you will be privileged to LIVE birth footage!
Day 2 started with another intense drive from Visalia into Sequoia National Park. The drive is about 45 minutes to Ash Mountain entrance on the 198, and a good 40 minutes or more traveling the winding roads (the worst of which isn't even pictures above). It's a tough drive, so keep this in mind when deciding where to stay!
We had recovered well from day 1 in Sequoia National Park and decided again to arrive to the park early. Day 2 is a Saturday on Memorial weekend, we left Visalia at 7am, arriving to the park around 7:45am. This half hour difference from the day before left us sitting in a line to gain entrance and a much slower move through the park as there was more traffic. Tip? Leave early!
In order to avoid intense tourist traffic, we headed right to Moro Rock, a very popular site that is NOT for the faint of heart and nothing I would ever do with hundreds of other tourists. Again, get here early on any weekend! Not only did we avoid the crowds, but the sun is punishing on the climb and I can't have imagined doing the 350 steps any later in the day.
Moro Rock is about a 35 minute drive from the Ash Mountain entrance. On weekends you are forced to park in the General Sherman Tree Museum parking lot and take Route 2 to the Moro Rock Parking area. You can also do a 2 mile hike, but we chose the bus! Once you arrive there is a concrete stairway that takes you 350 steps to the top and THE most magnificent views of the weekend.
Our visit to Sequoia National Park is definitely one of the most amazing and awe inspiring experiences I have ever had. Over the course of two full days we traversed dramatically different terrains after extremely careful planning.
To prepare for this trip, I started in the obvious place...the National Park Service website. Sequoia National Park is ENORMOUS, 404,064 acres, and this excludes Kings Canyon National Park. This is where I found planning to get complicated. With just two days to visit, we had to make sure to choose areas and attractions that were within realistic distances from each other, and no website I found provided any clear plan or guide. Even sites that appear close to each other on the map can be upwards of 45 minutes drive time due to the curvy roads (LodgePole to Crystal Caves for example). Additionally, we chose not to camp and instead we stayed in Visalia, adding about 3 hours of driving per day. So, here is our timeline for 2 days: