Karatu Simba Lodge: Eco-friendly Lodging with Stunning Views in Karatu Tanzania

Karatu Simba Lodge hotels in Karatu Tanzania

Karatu Simba Lodge is a new eco-friendly lodge located near the Ngorongoro Forest in Tanzania. Many safari travelers stop for a night in Karatu because of its strategic location between Lake Manyara National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. The Karatu Simba Lodge is committed to environmental conservation with its reliance on solar power and emphasis on water conservation; however, the lodge also offers all the amenities that weary safari travelers will be wanting after a day of bumpy, dusty roads, including en-suite flush toilets and hot showers, wireless internet, a swimming pool, complimentary afternoon tea and coffee, and nightly campfires. The lodge sits off the main road along the northern safari circuit amongst a series of small farms and offers beautiful views to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Forest. If you’re lucky you might even get to spot elephants, buffalo, baboons, or other animals wandering outside the forest from the safety of Read the Rest…

Kissing Giraffes, Baby Elephants, and a Danish Lady: How to Spend a Day in Nairobi

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During our recent trip to Kenya, we had to decide how to best spend a day in Nairobi since we had only a limited amount of time in the city. It may have started as a small British rail depot, but Nairobi is now Kenya’s capital, the most populous city in eastern Africa, and a major business, political, and financial hub in Africa. Nairobi is one of the largest cities in Africa and a growing one. We were quite surprised by both the amount of construction and industry and the significant presence of major international corporations in the city. At the same time, Nairobi, like many large cities, struggles with issues of crime, poverty, and unemployment. Wealthy suburbs like Karen and Lang’ata stand in marked contrast to the nearby slums of Kibera, demonstrating a large social and economic divide. Most tourists arrive at the NBO airport and then head out the next Read the Rest…

Fine European Dining at Machweo Wellness Retreat near Arusha Tanzania

Machweo Wellness Retreat and Fine Dining Onesa House Arusha Tanzania gourmet dining

The day we completed our trek of Mt. Kilimanjaro, we headed back to Arusha to enjoy the warm beds and gourmet dining at Machweo Wellness Retreat & Fine Dining. We were told during our recent trip to Africa that “you don’t come to Tanzania for the food”, which is likely true given the stunning scenery, amazing wildlife, and endearing people to be found in this enchanting country. Ethan and I found the food to be quite tasty throughout our travels in Tanzania, but travelers looking for restaurants serving up gourmet dishes may be hard-pressed to find good options. Tucked away in the green hills just outside of Arusha, travelers will be pleased to discover not only a small boutique hotel but a restaurant that has been critically acclaimed for its European-African fusion four-course gourmet meals. Sitting side-by-side Onsea House and Machweo are two properties jointly run by the Janssens, a Read the Rest…

Our Charity Climb of Mount Kilimanjaro for Climb for Sight

Mount Kilimanjaro Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb for Sight Vision for the Poor charity climb Kili

This past January Ethan and I made the decision to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to help support a non-profit organization called Vision for the Poor. Through our climb, we raised donations from both individual and corporate sponsors to be used to support the treatment of children and families in need of sight-saving eye surgery and new eyeglasses in Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Peru, and Tanzania. We just completed the climb about one week ago and Ethan summited and got to stand on the top of Africa as Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 19,341 ft. (5,895 meters)! Neither of us are mountain climbers and while Mt. Kilimanjaro does not require technical climbing, it is quite a difficult trek because of the altitude and the final steep ascent at the top. I found this out first hand as while Ethan successfully Read the Rest…

Thai Nguyen: A Visit to Vietnam’s Tea Region with Footprint Travel

Thai Nguyen tea region Vietnam Footprint Travel tea tour from Hanoi

As tea lovers, Ethan and I were excited to visit the Thai Nguyen province with Footprint Travel’s Tea & Bike Tour. Thai Nguyen province is the premiere tea growing region of Vietnam and is famous not only for its green tea, but also for its beautiful Nui Coc Lake and mountain scenery. Located about 2 hours from Hanoi, this region is a popular local vacation destination for Vietnamese travelers who want to relax on and around Nui Coc Lake, but has yet to be widely promoted as a tourist destination for Westerners. A great place to add to your Vietnam trip itinerary if you appreciate tea and/or want a break from crowded Hanoi. There is much to do in this scenic province, but we focused our visit specifically on the tea-related attractions. Our private day tour from Hanoi with Footprint Travel included stops at a local tea growing plantation, a Read the Rest…

Drinks with a View: 10 Best Rooftop Bars in Ho Chi Minh City

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We love to find places that offer good views of a new city and the rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh City provided not only an excellent opportunity to get a good orientation to the city, but also the chance to savor some delicious cocktails. Ho Chi Minh City, often still referred to as Saigon, is a booming city on the rise—quite literally! You’ll see the shorter historical French colonial buildings next to giant sleek glass-and-steel skyscrapers throughout the downtown area making for an interesting city landscape. We discovered that there are essentially two places to look for good rooftop bars in the city: hotels (old and new) and business towers. You have a wide array of choices from historical colonial-era hotels to up-and-coming glitzy nightspots, depending on whether you feel like contemplating the war-era days of Graham Greene or hanging with hipsters in a modern lounge. You can also have Read the Rest…

Our Favorite Castle in Germany: The Mighty Burg Eltz

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Burg Eltz is the German castle that has impressed us the most and currently holds the title as our favorite castle in Germany. Even in a region where it is almost impossible to not stumble over some ruined castle, this castle really stands out. Burg Eltz sits in a forested green valley alongside the babbling Elzbach Creek in the Mosel Valley, hidden away from the traffic of the main roads. Walking up (or down) to this magnificent castle provides for a really knockout view, as it looks today much as it did in 1540 when the last major part of the castle was built. Unlike the vast majority of castles along the Mosel and Rhine Rivers, this was one of the few that was not destroyed or badly damaged. Its history is quite fascinating as it has been owned within the same family since at least the 12th century and continues Read the Rest…

Guide to Halong Bay Cruises in Vietnam & Our Cruise with The Au Co

Halong Bay Cruise Vietnam The Au Co Cruises Review

Halong Bay is considered one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in Vietnam, and a Halong Bay cruise is a must-do on many travelers’ lists. Imagine an emerald bay peppered with about 2,000 tiny vegetation-topped islands which feature numerous caves, lagoons, coves, and coral reefs. This breathtaking UNESCO heritage site has recently received the honor of being named one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the world and is not surprisingly one of the most popular attractions in Vietnam. Most visitors need little convincing to visit, but the array of cruise options can be daunting as hundreds of boats ply across the waters of Halong Bay each day. Cruises range widely in price and companies offer a variety of cruise lengths, itineraries, amenities, and activities. We’ll share our tips on how to choose a Halong Bay cruise, answer common questions about Halong Bay cruises, and review our own recent Read the Rest…

Dreaming of Turkey: Colorful Turkish Hammam Towels from sorbet ltd

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These colorful handwoven Turkish hammam towels from sorbet ltd have us dreaming of Turkey! Ethan and I have been thinking about visiting Turkey within the next year and we were very delighted to have the opportunity to review a set of sorbet-colored hammam towel hand-woven in rural Turkey. These towels, also called peshtemal towels, have a long and important history in Turkish social life and have been worn as clothing, used in ceremonial bathing of brides to be, and today are mainly associated with their use in traditional Turkish baths or hammams. Recently, Turkish hammam towels have also been popping up on beaches, pool lounge chairs, yachts, and in travelers’ suitcases as these towels are not only beautiful but lightweight, quick-drying, and made of natural absorbent fibers. We’ve used ours mainly as beach towels, but one of the problems we have with all beach towels is them blowing away in the Read the Rest…

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi: A Historic Hotel in Vietnam’s Capital

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The Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi serves the dual role of being both a historical landmark and a luxury hotel. Opened in 1901 by two French investors, the French colonial-style hotel soon became one of Southeast Asia’s most iconic hotels and today is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Vietnam, This grande dame has not rested on her legendary laurels but continues to modernize and innovate, undergoing massive renovations over the past few decades, including the opening of an award-winning spa in 2009. Honored to be the first Sofitel Legend property (only a handful of Sofitel properties carry this distinction), the hotel offers three restaurants, three bars, seven function rooms, an exclusive Club Lounge, a heated swimming pool, a health club, and the luxurious Le Spa du Metropole. A unique offering by the hotel is a daily guided Path of History tour that provides guests with not only an opportunity to learn more about the hotel’s history Read the Rest…

Up at 4am: Early Morning Adventures in Hanoi Vietnam

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One morning while in Hanoi Vietnam, we got up before 4:00am to go on an early morning city tour. Crazy, right?! Now, we are not early morning people by any means, but we trusted our guide and drug ourselves out of our comfortable beds to explore Hanoi at 4:00am. We are so glad we did as there are things that you only have the opportunity to experience early in the morning in Hanoi and few tourists venture out at these hours. We explored chaotic early morning markets, witnessed the changing of the honor guards ceremony, joined the local early risers for tai chi at Hoan Kiem Lake, searched for a magic turtle, and had breakfast with the locals in the Old Quarter. All that before 8:00am! Interested? We’ll give you a list of places in Hanoi Vietnam you might want to visit on a morning venture of your own and share Read the Rest…

Travel Advice: A Guide to Passport Photos and Visa Photos

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Recently we’ve been needing to apply for several international visas for travel in Asia and Africa, which means we’ve been filling out application paperwork for each country and obtaining a lot of visa photos. Even though biometric passport and visa photos are just simple digital photos, most people have them taken professionally because they need to meet the country-specific requirements of the destination and in the case of passport photos, may be accompanying a person for a full 10 years. Ethan and I have each needed almost a dozen visa photos over the past several months, and we became very frustrated with the cost of passport and visa photos at our local drugstores. After paying almost $50 for 8 photos (ridiculous!), we started researching the various places where we could get visa photos taken and exploring the do-it-yourself options where you can take and print your own photos. After our research, we have Read the Rest…

Exploring Vietnam: A Hoi An Day Trip

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Hoi An is a postcard perfect historic riverside town that has been carefully preserved so that the Old Town looks as it did centuries ago; however, the town is hugely popular and the crowds might have you searching for some Hoi An day trip destinations. Hoi An is certainly a gem but we were feeling a bit claustrophobic in this UNESCO heritage town after a couple of days, so we decided to spend a day exploring the nearby area. We booked a day tour through eOasia which is an online booking website that consolidates local tours and activities in more than 12 different countries in Asia. The tour we chose included the temples at My Son, a local market, a local pottery village, and a relaxing cooking cruise along the Thu Bon River; however, there are also several other worthwhile day trip destinations in the area. We’ll give you some Read the Rest…

Enjoy your Beach Vacation in Style with UjENA Swimwear Swimsuits

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Like many women, I have struggled to find a swimsuit that fits me well. Several years ago, I spent one entire summer going through stores’ swimwear racks trying to find a one-piece swimsuit that would fit me. I finally gave up as they were all too long for me or just didn’t fit my body properly. However, when packing for our recent trip to Southeast Asia, I wanted to have a swimsuit that would allow me to move around a bit more and would be more conservative than my bikini. So I decided to give my search for a one-piece swimsuit another try, but I started my search online this time. An online search brought me to UjENA Swimwear. UjENA offers a large array of swimwear, including custom swimsuits and an exclusive size assurance policy. The family-owned brand sells and ships swimwear internationally, but all swimwear is manufactured in the Read the Rest…