Subscribe to isango! RSS feed
World’s leading site for travel experiences - Tours, Activities, Shows, Excursions and more
Find amazing experiences Book before you go. Local rates. Handpicked suppliers Find out more >>
We’re funny (usually), controversial (sometimes) and insightful (always!). Our travel experts share their experiences below in hopes of hearing back from YOU. So read, comment and enjoy!

Posts from February, 2014

The Sun is Shining on Brazil

0

The title may sound rhetorical.  The very mention of the name Brazil and sunshine springs to mind.  During the coming year it will be very much in the global limelight.

Three of the world’s largest events are due to be held in Brazil.  In a few days the Rio Carnival will begin.  The FIFA World Cup 2014 will kick off in a few months from now – in June to be precise.  This will ensure that thousands of football fans from around the world will pack the stadiums and beaches of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.  Barely will the dust and excitement have settled when the 2016 Olympics will put Brazil right back on the world’s front pages.

football

Brazil is a large country stretching roughly 4,800kms from north to south and 2,700km from west to east.  This is a vast country of golden beaches, lengthy stretches of ocean front, towering mountains and millions of acres of jungle.  Her boundaries cover an amazing array of geographical features that can be broadly categorised as the Amazon River Basin in the north and the Brazilian Highlands in the south.  The mighty Amazon, and its tributaries, serve more than a third of this area, which is so large that ocean-going ships can travel 3,700kms upstream.

The other watery aspect to Brazil is its coastline that runs for about 7,500kms.  This is probably the most popular and well-known feature of the country.  The indigenous Tupi-Gurani Indians call Brazil “Pindorama,” which aptly means “land of the palm trees.

While Brazil’s naturally diverse landscape is rich and varied, it is her beaches that make it such an attractive and magnetic tourist destination.  These sunny, sandy havens can be found the length of the country but it is the south-central regions that have the most famous and highly visited beaches including the legendary Copacabana.

rio

Copacabana is located in the city of Rio de Janeiro.  Its beautiful sands extend for miles.  However, it is the 4km stretch known as the ‘balneiro’ that is world famous because of its hedonistic and totally relaxed social traditions.  That, by the way, is only the day to day feature of this amazing beach.

Rio de Janeiro and by association Copacabana celebrates New Year every year in the most sensational way.  It is among the largest in the world.  The fireworks display runs for almost half an hour, while the revelry involving music and dancing can continue till well past dawn.  In fact, the spectacle bringing in the New Year is the single largest Brazilian attraction.  It is estimated that more than 2 million people from Brazil and all over the world pack the sands during that night.

Another massive event is the Rio Carnival.  This flamboyant, colour splashed, over the top six-day party brings the whole city (and country) to a standstill.  From 28th February to 4th March nearly 5 million people will watch, dance and sing through the streets of Rio de Janeiro.  These huge displays of fantasy played out on the streets are fuelled by time, effort and money.  So large has the event become that it is probably “The Greatest Show On Earth.”

carnival

The Copacabana is not the only attraction in Rio de Janeiro.  There is also the iconic Sugar Loaf Mountain, the Christ Statute (one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World) and numerous historic parts of the city.

A visit to Rio de Janeiro is always a high-spirited affair.  It is also stunningly beautiful and full of contradictions.  Rio de Janeiro is a captivating city and worth every moment spent in discovering it.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Touring The Nausori Highlands, Fiji

0

When you travel the length of the Fiji Islands you find that every island – inhabited or uninhabited – seems to be just as magical as the other.  Each of these 300 or so of the Fiji Islands is a jewel set in the perfect blue South Pacific Ocean. Even among so much beauty, here are some fantastically scenic places in the Fijian archipelago that, simply, stand out from the rest.

fijiwater

One of these exquisite places is the Nausori Highlands.  The Highlands are located on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu.  The area is relatively unspoiled by modernity and development.  Here the traditions and culture of the Fijian people has not changed in millennia.  The customs and practices of the local inhabitants are untouched by the outside world.

The best, to my mind, and only way to encounter firsthand the true Fijian experience is to take a trek through one of the most beautiful places on Earth.  A walking tour is a fantastic opportunity for the casual and also the ‘I want the authentic local feel’ visitor.  The cultural and eco-tourists will also be hugely thrilled with a trek up into the Nausori Highlands.

The trek will take you high up to almost 5000 feet to the mist-shrouded mountains.  They can be surprisingly chilly during the evenings and early mornings.  So packing a warm sweater or a jacket is a good idea.  

The mountains are covered with luxuriant rainforests.  Numerous clear streams and rivers that flow across the landscape invite you to bathe in their cool waters.  The jungles are populated with plenty of very raucous and brightly coloured tropical birds.  Walk along trails that have been used by the local villagers for untold generations and have not changed in all that time.

The journey up into the highlands will also give you amazing views of Viti Levu‘s rural countryside and of Nadi Bay.  You will also have uninterrupted views of the Mamanuca and Yasawa Island groups stretching out into the distance.

fijiwater2

The sheer beauty of the Nausori Highlands is not the only enjoyable aspect of a trip up there.  It is also the amazing people who live here and their gentle, warm and uninhibitedly inviting ways.  You will come across a number of long-established Fijian villages and a fantastic opportunity to experience their traditional rituals and courtesies.

The people are all too willing to teach you about their unique culture.  You can get a chance to peek into the tribal ways of Fijian villages tucked away and out of sight of the world.  The greeting involves a drink of Kava, a ceremonial beverage, which is quite significant to Fijians.  Guests are invited to an open kitchen and to participate in preparing an authentic Fijian meal.

The food is cooked over a firewood stove and comprises of coconut milk, spinach or Taro leaves stuffed with fresh water prawns or beef with a sprinkle of coconut cream cooked in a green bamboo trunk.  The meal also includes yams and taro along with a drink of freshly squeezed lemon juice or “yaqona” (Fijian traditional drink made from grounded pepper roots).

No interaction with Fijians is complete without singing and on that front one is never disappointed.

The magnificent scenery, the beauty of the islands, the timeless village life and the warmth of the people will add up to an experience like no other.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Shotover Jet Boat Rides Nadi, Fiji

0

Like so many of its South Pacific cousins, the Fiji Islands were formed by volcanic activity.  Its incredible beauty lies in the balmy climate, spectacular mountains, warm incredibly blue waters, fabulous beaches and tropical rainforests.  The Fiji Islands are still a blessed paradise for visitors.

It is the relationship between the innumerable coves, inlets, creeks and the land that make it a water sports paradise.  From indulging in surfing and kayaking to sedate fishing or heart-stopping jet boat rides, there is no place that quite gives you the same experience or excitement as Fiji.  One of the most exhilarating activities you can hope to get into, while in Fiji is a ride on a jet boat.  Fiji’s weather also makes the ride a year-round activity.

The boats are all fabricated and brought in from New Zealand who is the world-wide leader and pioneer of this high-powered sports technology.  Its big V8 drives provide the gut-wrenching acceleration, unbelievable manoeuvres and 360 turns executed at over 80 kmph, which are the highlights of the experience.

Jet boat rides can be booked from the docks of Denarau Island in Nadi.  They also start from there.  Typically the ride lasts for about 30 minutes.  You roar across Nadi Bay, along the Denarau waterfront and past mysterious mangrove forests.  The thrills and water spray come in equal measure as your jet boat speeds under bridges and flirts with the rocky banks of the Nadi River.  The grab handles along the sides of the boat usually get a good working over by passengers.

Taking a Shotover Jet Boat ride promises to be the ride of a lifetime and an experience you will not forget – ever!

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Museums In Cardiff

0

Cardiff has so much going for it, yet remains unpretentious. The city has a long history and a rich cultural heritage, which is amplified today as the city grows with an increasing number of prestigious national and international institutions. Cardiff has attracted people (many of them students) from all over Europe and the world. So bountiful is Cardiff’s diversity that about 94 languages are spoken in the city currently.

Cardiff’s attractiveness has seen it rise to become one of the top 10 destinations in the UK. Spread across the city, the museums and galleries showcase its historical, industrial and cultural past.

National Museum Cardiff
Cathays Park

National Museum Cardiff
 

The National Museum Cardiff contains exhibits of art, natural history, geology and archaeology.  There are some outstanding examples of paintings, drawings, sculptures and ceramics from all over the world.  There are thousands of other exhibits including insects, fossils and Bronze Age weapons.

The Museum houses a fantastic collection of Impressionist paintings.  The Marine gallery section has the world’s largest Leatherback Turtle and a skeleton of a Humpback Whale.  The Evolution section has superb depictions of the evolution of early human beings, the Big Bang origins of the universe and the formation of the Earth.

There are a series of regular events, guided tours and exhibitions.

Entry to the museum is free.

St Fagans: National History Museum
4 miles west from Cardiff City Centre
Just off the A4232

st fagans national history museum

The National History Museum is located within the wonderful grounds of St Fagans Castle.  This spectacular 16th century building is the centre piece of an open-air museum. The beautiful 100-acre grounds enclose forty carefully re-created buildings from different periods.

These are living, working-place buildings that include houses, a farm, a school, a chapel and a Workmen’s Institute. You can see and experience what it was like to work and live in times gone by. The museum has galleries filled with costumes, farm implements and other Welsh cultural artifacts. Outdoors you can see various native farm animals and witness daily farming tasks, while indoors craftsmen demonstrate traditional Welsh skills.

The museum conducts traditional musical and dance festivals throughout the year.

Entry to the museum is free.

Big Pit National Coal Museum

Nothing epitomizes Wales like the mining industry and the Big Pit National Coal Museum is the best place to experience and understand that aspect of Welsh history. A trip 300 feet down the exciting yet scary mining pits will give you a close and up-front feel of what miners had to face every day.

The museum includes tours of the famous Pithead Baths, mining galleries and original colliery buildings. You can walk down the tunnels that once were the working places of miners. The Big Pit National Coal Museum is one of the UK’s best mining museums.

Entry to the museum is free.

The National Roman Legion Museum
High Street
Caerleon (30 minutes from Cardiff City Centre)

The Welsh region was once the westernmost outpost of the Roman Empire. The Romans built the Caerleon fortress in 75 AD to guard its boundaries and for more than 200 years it did so. The fortress is one of just three permanent fortresses built by the Romans in Britain. It has the best remaining amphitheatre in Britain and also the only remains of  legionary barracks in all of Europe.

The fortress was turned into a museum in 1850 so that people could see and learn what made the Romans rulers of the world. The museum has some half a million superb artifacts of that period. It also puts on exhibitions that show how Romans lived, fought, worshipped and died. The museum has an important collection that gives insights into the evolution of civilian settlements around these Imperial strongholds.

Entry to the fortress and museum is free.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Oscar-Nominated Films Bound To Impact Tourism

0

The Oscar nominees are out!  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present the 86th Academy Awards on 2nd March 2014 at the Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles.  The ceremony will be watched by millions all over the world. 

These Oscar-nominated films also have a massive impact on tourism around the world.  This phenomenon has been on the rise for a while now.  The Lord of the Rings and Narnia series saw tourism to New Zealand grow by leaps and bounds.  Braveheart and Mamma Mia! did precisely the same for Scotland and Greece respectively.

The latest Oscar-nominated films are bound to see people “discovering” the settings.  Here are a couple of movies from the latest batch that are sure to put the spotlight on locations where they were shot.


12 Years A Slave

This movie is bound to increase visits to the pre-civil war and historic plantations of Louisiana. Based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup,  a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery to work on plantations in Louisiana.

There are several plantations in the area, such as the idyllic Oak Alley and Laura that have been beautifully preserved.  Their rooms echo with the history and drama of a bygone era, while providing insights into the unique Louisiana Creole society.  Significantly the slave quarters still survive, which is sure to resonate with scenes from the movie. 

12 Years a Slave won the 2014 Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama.  It has been nominated for nine Academy Awards.


The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the real-life exploits of Jordan Belfort, a New York stockbroker.  He set up several securities frauds that reflected the high stakes corruption on Wall Street in the 1990s.  It depicts a decadent lifestyle, sex and drug fuelled parties and dangerous stock trading deals.

The movie is surely going to motivate people to visit this best known street among New York’s avenues and districts.  Wall Street had previously gained notoriety for its financial shenanigans that caused the epic meltdown of 2007-2009.  It is now looked upon as the lair of rogue traders carrying out complex dirty deals, that have the power to ruin lives and even the economies of entire countries.

On Wall Street traders made billions of dollars through their trading excesses while millions of people lost everything and banks collapsed.  The Wolf of Wall Street plays into that reputation, while drawing visitors from far and near.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS