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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 in ‘Sport & Adventure’

Monster truck safari in the sun

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Most tourists who choose a Caribbean holiday are usually lured by the promise of the kind of rest and relaxation that the region is famous for but one Dominican Republic excursion guarantees to boost adrenalin levels.

The Monster Truck Safari takes the more intrepid to areas of the island where the more traditional tour coaches can”t, on an 8×8 monster truck that is able to cover harsh terrain giving guests the chance to have a look at the real country.

A fascinating insight into the heart of the island is on offer as the trucks plunge through rivers and over off-the-map trails.

The safari also takes in typical villages where passengers can catch a long look at the Dominican way of life and sample some of the best coffee in the world which may well have been growing that morning.

One of the many stops on the trip is at a river where guests get the chance to have a cooling dip before heading off for the lunch which is included in the package.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18763061-ADNFCR

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Climb Mount Olympus because it”s there

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The Greek temperate climate means that there are alternatives to simply topping up your tan.

This diverse country is equally adept at presenting the adventurer with plenty of activities including a hike up to the summit of the nation”s highest peak.

Home to the gods of ancient Greek mythology, Mount Olympus is possibly the most iconic Greek symbol and at 2,917 metres, Mytikas is the country”s highest point.

An adventurous local named Christos Kakalos made the earliest recorded ascent in 1913 and he lived in the nearby town of Litochoro which is now a thriving tourist town in the shadow of the famous mountain.

A certain fitness level is advisable when climbing Mount Olympus as a steady ascent normally takes two days but, such is the diversity of the fauna and flora, many choose to extend their climb and make use of the many refuges on the way.

Even in summer, warm clothes, a decent pair of hiking boots, sunscreen and an easily-obtained local map are absolute necessities but no specialist gear is needed to negotiate the several well-worn trails and pathways.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.ADNFCR-1652-ID-18760383-ADNFCR

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Over-50s pushing boundaries

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Diving is becoming extremely popular in the over-50 age groupPeople aged over 50 years are pushing boundaries when it comes to travel and activity holidays, new research has revealed.

A quarter of Britons over the age of 50 intend to go on holiday to Australia or New Zealand, while three per cent of this age group want to explore Antarctica, according to the Alliance & Leicester study.

"For many people, turning 50 is a significant milestone and a time when people gain a new lease of life," Emma Walkley, current account manager at Alliance & Leicester explained.

The study also revealed that the over-50s like to push the boundaries with more than one million saying they would like to take part in a bungee jump or skydive within the next five to ten years and one in ten would like to try 4×4 off-roading.

Other activities that were popular on the list were performing on stage in front of a large audience, flying a helicopter, scuba diving and running a marathon.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18739164-ADNFCR

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PERFECT HOLIDAY CONTEST FINALISTS

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Thanks to those who participated in the 2008 isango! ‘Perfect Holiday’ Contest! We were overwhelmed with enthusiastic responses and sincerely apologize for the delay in posting the finalists. But we’ve finally done it! Hooray! The top 5 entries have been selected, and it’s time to VOTE!

FYI: though we could only select 5 finalists, we truly enjoyed reviewing your (100!) entries. We admire your imaginative efforts; thus, the majority of this blog is dedicated to the bulk of entries that did not make it through to the shortlist. We have explained why certain types of entries were not selected and have included some relevant travel tips to assist you in actualizing your dream getaways!

If this sounds boring to you ( – it’s not, actually!), you can skip straight to the action, and:

CLICK HERE to VOTE for one of the TOP FIVE ENTRIES

…as selected by our team of travel writers and product specialists. Go ahead, do it! But remember, you can vote once, and once only!

SOME TRENDS AND TIPS:

(By the way, we’ve listed the finalists at the bottom of this blog in hopes that you will actually read the rest of what we have to say!)

…right, so we learned a great deal about your travel desires and needs from reading your entries—namely that most of you are in need of a good, long holiday! There were also some recurring themes:

1. “It’s not where you are, it’s who you are with…”
A large number you would prefer to spend your precious time away from the office on a romantic getaway with your significant other. Your descriptions of destinations were often very imaginative, but also quite vague, as you focused on the experience that you would have with the love of your life—just the two of you—isolated in paradise. These entries were fantastic (and heartwarming) but were also, unfortunately, more difficult to judge as sometimes we were not sure where, exactly, you aimed to go on your holiday! We suggest visiting the Romantic Retreats section of the isango! website to transform your, ahem, ‘daydreams’ (wink!) into reality.

2. Family First.
A large percentage of you have young children and thus face difficulties with planning to please multiple parties. For you, the ‘perfect holiday’ is one that is free of logistical nightmares: your entries thus tended to be long lists of things that you wanted to avoid (long queues, large crowds, flight delays), rather than of things you actually wanted to do. Though we can do nothing about rubbish airlines (except to complain right alongside you) we can help you to avoid ‘on the ground’ family feuds by encouraging you to plan a detailed itinerary prior to departing. Start with our list of Family Tours under the Activities section of our website, which can be narrowed down, for example, to theme parks and self drive tours.

Others of you focused on the needs of your parents and grandparents, wishing to fulfill their dreams by taking them to parts of the world that they have always wanted to see. We suggest starting with our Seniors category and narrowing your options down by country, or city, from there. (You can also always contact one of our friendly customer service reps if you have any questions!)

3. Some of you are, well, CRAZY…
Really, wow. You submitted some fantastically wild travel ‘plots’ (- you know who you are!). Check out some of our quirkier blogs for more unconventional ideas and inspiration.

Now, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for!

THE FINALISTS:

1. Hanlie Burger, ‘Shipwrecks, Sand Dunes and Desert Elephants’.

2. Louise Brown, ‘Northern Solitude’

3. Sarah Berl, ‘Spelunk!!’

4. Marian Redmond, ‘Campania Felix’, and

5. Sarah Stocks, ‘Tropical Rainforest? Or is it?’

A huge CONGRATS to Hanlie, Louise, Sarah, Marian and Sarah—and all of our participants—for dreaming up such fabulous ‘perfect holidays’! We cannot thank you enough.

Please vote here, and to pass this email along to all of your family and friends!

You can also check out more blog coverage of the contest here.

Thanks again for participating!

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Diving breaks near Sharm al Sheikh

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The diving spots in Sharm al Sheikh are said to be some of the best in the world If you”re going on holiday to Sharm al Sheikh, you must try diving in the beautiful Ras Mahommed National Park which is just 30km away.

Located at the southern tip of the Sinai peninsula, where the Gulf of Aqaba meets the Gulf of Suez, the diving sites at Ras Mohammed are said to be some of the best in the world.

So it”s definitely worth having a try no matter whether you are a seasoned veteran or a complete novice.

If you prefer to keep your feet dry, however, then there is no doubt that you will be amazed by the wild beauty of the beaches, the surrounding desert, the wildlife inhabiting it, as well as the different types of plants that grow here, including the ancient mangrove trees.

Due to its position, strong currents prevail throughout the year here which makes the waters around it very rich in nutrients.

This attracts huge numbers of schools of pelagic and reef fish, somewhere in the range of 1,000 different species.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.

ADNFCR-1652-ID-18734741-ADNFCR

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Italy prepares for Ancient Rome theme park

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The theme park doesn''t fit in with Rome''s character, say critics Italy is planning a new Disneyland-style theme park depicting Ancient Rome.

Mauro Cutrufo, the deputy mayor of the capital, said: "Our model is EuroDisney in Paris."

Attractions in the park would be based on life both in republican Rome, which ended with the murder of Julius Caesar and civil war, as well as the power and might of the Roman Empire.

Rides through a replica of the Colosseum would be offered, where visitors could watch gladiators fight each other or wild animals, as the Emperor looks on.

However, the plans have been criticised as being incompatible with Rome”s character.

Claudio Mancini, head of tourism for the Lazio region added that the theme park was unsuited to the city”s urban preservation plan.

"I say no to Americanisation," he said, adding that "1,000 acres is no small amount."

Tourism to Rome is down by five per cent this summer, mainly due to the credit crunch and the strong euro.

Rome – Visit some of the ancient landmarks such as the Colosseum or tour the opulent Vatican.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18734699-ADNFCR

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Have a laugh in Cape Town

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Enjoy a fortnight of comedy in Cape TownThe Cape Town International Comedy Festival will run from September 7th to 21st.

Now in its 12th year, the festival once again incorporates a number of unique features – with six separate programmes there is something to cater for everyone”s taste.

As usual the festival takes place in the Main Arena at the Baxter Concert Hall, while a special-edition Danger Zone (used for controversial, adult-themed or rude humour) runs concurrently at the Baxter Theatre.

New this year is the launch of an exciting comedy competition programme that includes stand-up contests and Air Guitar play-offs.

In addition, a host of the world”s top street performers will once again amaze and amuse Capetonians as well as visitors to the city at the V+A Waterfront.

"For those of you not familiar with the festival, I hope that a look at this year”s line-up of national and international talent will convince you to give it a try," urges the Mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille.

"It is the best opportunity you will get to lighten up your winter with some good laughs."

Cape Town – From the wine route to the game parks there is so much to see and do in Cape Town.

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Globe trotters unite: a journey with a purpose.

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Our ‘Perfect Holiday’ Contest entries have been rolling in! A few of you got very creative with your responses, crafting globe trotting itineraries with inventive themes. Here are some of our favourites thus far:

1. ‘Southern Music Odyssey’, by Greg Davies

A road trip with a difference—i.e. not your usual ‘Route 66’ or ‘Coast to Coast’ American Dream. Due to my late grandfather’s musical obsession that he passed onto me, my dream holiday would be to drive the southern United States, visiting and enjoying some of the famous sights and sounds of Country music—the Grand Ol’ Opry, Memphis, Tupelo, Austin, Nashville—all in an old convertible…staying at old-style motels along the way and enjoying southern hospitality and good ol’ time music, the way it’s meant to be enjoyed!

2. ‘A Taste for Travel’, by Lydia Houghton

I’d have lobster in Cancun, cocktails in New York, A balti in Bombay, A Guinness in County Cork, coq au vin in Paris, a pizza in fair Rome, a chop suey in Beijing, and Swedish meatballs in Stockholm.

It would be such a treat to take a break from all the cooking, but the only problem is… my tummy might need tucking!

3. ‘Natural World Wonders’, by Chris Woodroofe

My Perfect Holiday would be a tour around all of the natural world wonders: Serengeti Migration, Galápagos Islands, Grand Canyon, Iguazu Falls, Amazon Rainforest, Ngorongoro Crater, Great Barrier Reef, Bora Bora Cappadocia and Victoria Falls. All I would need would be a backpack, a diary, and a camera…this would be my perfect holiday—very simple, but very rewarding, as the natural world wonders are being destroyed…

That’s all for now!

The official shortlist will be posted on the isango! website very soon. Be sure to vote!

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Activity holidays becoming more popular

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More than 10 million activity breaks were booked last yearActivity holidays are becoming increasingly popular as people want to do more than just lounge around the beach, the Association of Independent Tour Operators (Aito) has said.

The activity holiday market has grown 17.2 per cent between 2003 and 2007, according to recent research by Mintel.

By the end of 2008, activity holidays are expected to account for nearly one in eight holidays taken by Britons, growing from just over one in ten in 2003.

Commenting on the trend, Mr Bradley said: "People are feeling that they want to be more active on holiday rather than just purely relaxing on the beach or just doing a city break.

"They want to feel like they are maybe learning a new skill or they are working out where they are and seeing wonderful places around the world."

Mintel estimates that around 10.2 million activity breaks were taken in 2007.

Active and Adventure – Air Activities – Enjoy an exhilarating helicopter ride over New York or a serene hot air balloon ride over the Australian outback.
ADNFCR-1652-ID-18712374-ADNFCR

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Transform Your Dream Holiday into Reality…

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It’s FAMILY TIME!

We’ve gotten some fantastic Perfect Holiday contest entries so far—do keep ‘em coming!

And, after further perusing your travel whims and fantasies, I’ve discovered that many of you dream not simply about secluded, romantic getaways as discussed in a previous blog: you want to get your entire families on board. What a task…

I know it seems difficult to fathom actually leading your family on an Arctic fishing trip…or guiding them through a bustling north African market. So many things to worry about: the cost, transportation logistics, and accommodation… your daughter’s current vegetarian phase…your son’s incredibly fair skin…your mother’s bouts with vertigo…

But have you ever actually tried to translate one of your visions of paradise into a real-life family holiday? Why not give it a try? Just cast all of the logistical details aside for a moment, and focus on the actual on-the-ground experiences that you desire: you can do this by first compiling a concrete, feasible list of tours and activities.

To assist you in this process, I have pasted some descriptive and imaginative Perfect Holiday contest entries below, responding with some suggestions.

1. Debbie’s Arctic Adventure:

“I’d take the family to Iceland for the most exhilarating holiday ever. We’d go whale watching in Husavik where humpbacks, minke, orcas, sperm whales white-nosed dolphins and harbour porpoises leap in the waters of the North Atlantic. We could go snowmobiling on the Solheimajokull glacier. We’d visit spouting geysers, bubbling mud baths and bizarre rock formations and bubbling lava flows in the Golden Circle. I want to tee off at 3am in the Arctic Open where amateurs and professional golfers compete through the night under a spectacular orange night sky. My kids could swim in the sea at the geothermally heated beach at Nautholsvik Bay, and I could ease my bad back in the pure, mineral-rich geothermal waters of the blue lagoon, a bright blue pool in the middle of a lava field which is world renowned for it’s healing properties. On September 20th is the Summer Solstice, the apex of a month of 24 hour daylight when the country celebrates the magic of the midnight sun. (Of course they also experience an equivalent month of darkness so everyone makes the most of the spectacle and parties through the night.)”

Debbie, thanks so much for that insightful description of Iceland! There are plenty of structured, guided tours of these places that you could sign up for to keep your family happy and busy—most of them from Reykjavik. I suggest checking out the following:

1. The Golden Circle Tour

2. Excursion to Snæfellsjökull National Park (Snæfellsjökull Glacier).

3. Blue Lagoon Experience, Reykjavik.

Good luck, Debbie!

2. Karen’s Paradise:

“My perfect holiday is landing in a place where the views and the heat take your breath away from the moment you arrive. I stay in a place where the walls are white, the floors terracotta and the flowers, red. I throw cases on the bed, take out all I need and head out to the pool. I smooth sunscreen on my son and watch, smiling, while he plays and explores and squeals excitedly over the lizards he finds. I lie with my eyes closed behind my sunglasses, sipping a chilled cocktail while the sun makes my skin tingle. My little boy calls from the pool, so I get up, walk to the edge, take a breath and dive into ice cold, ice blue water that in that second makes me feel more exhilarated than I have ever felt before. Later, we visit hot, exotic, noisy markets and walk round, holding hands, buying fabulous things we’ve never seen before. We visit a restaurant and eat delicious, local seafood with velvety wines from a table that faces the ocean as the sun sets. Beautiful people in traditional dress play music and dance while night draws in on the first day of our holiday…”

Well, Karen, this could be a number of places! A few destinations come to mind…have you ever considered visiting the Strait of Gibraltar? You could stay on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain to get your dose of sun, sand and relaxation… and take an excursion to Tangier, Morocco for the ultimate, colourful and cultural experience.

Some organised tours that your son might enjoy:

Kayaking Excursion in Nerja (Costa del Sol, Spain)

5-Day Morocco Sightseeing Tour from Costa Del Sol (from Spain to Morocco)

Strait of Gibraltar and Tangier Sightseeing Tour (Daytrip from Spain to Morocco)

Thanks again, Debbie and Karen!

May your holiday wishes come true!

Happy planning!

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