Monthly Archives: January 2016

Taking to the Skies in Style Hot Air Ballooning

Taking to the Skies in Style Hot Air Ballooning

In 1967, the Fifth Dimension asked the musical question, “Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon?” The song, which was written by Jimmy Webb, was called Up, Up, & Away. Hot air ballooning began in 1783, with a sheep, a duck, and a rooster as the first passengers. The first human passengers took a ride two months later, on November 21st. While helium and hydrogen balloons were later used by the military, such as in World War I, according to the Aerostar company, which makes hot air balloons and equipment, little progress was made on the development of hot air balloons until the 1960s. Ballooning, as a sport and recreational activity, has been increasing in popularity since then, especially in the United States. There are now over 3,500 balloons in the US and about another 1,000 in other countries.

Hot air balloons are based on a simple concept, hot air is lighter than cold air, and therefore, it rises. Modern balloons have three basic components―a lightweight fabric envelope or balloon, a burner, and a basket to ride in. Usually, the envelope is first inflated by a fan. Then the air inside the envelope is heated with a burner, burning a fuel such as propane. Eventually, as the air inside the balloon gets hotter, it overcomes the weight of the basket and passengers, and you have lift-off. The size and shape (and color) of these three components vary greatly, with some balloons being capable of carrying fifteen or more passengers.

Just as with an airplane, in order to fly a balloon in the US, you have to be licensed by the FAA. In addition to written and orals tests, the requirements for a private pilot’s license include at least 10 hours of training, including 6 with an instructor, a solo flight, an ascent to an altitude of 2,000 feet, and two flights of an hour each, within 60 days of applying for the license. However, unlike airplanes or helicopters, hot air balloons cannot be steered, at least not in the traditional sense. The pilot has to rely on the wind. Since the wind can vary based on altitude, limited changes in speed or direction are possible by changing altitude. This method enables pilots to participate in competitions, where the goal is dropping weights onto a target.

Because there is less wind around sunup and sundown, these are usually the times that pilots choose to fly their balloons. They can also fly at night, but because of problems with visibility and the need for instruments and lights, this is rarely done.

Would you like to take a balloon ride, or perhaps even get more deeply involved in the exciting world of ballooning? The Hotairballooning website suggests looking in your local phone book for companies offering rides in your area. Their site also has a ride directory that lists companies by state or Canadian Province. A typical ride lasts about an hour, but many enjoy prolonging the adventure by offering to help with the inflation and deflation of the balloon.

Another way to get more involved with the sport is by volunteering to be a member of the ground crew. The ground crew helps with setting up the balloon, and then follows along in a chase car during the flight, so that they can help the pilot land safely. If you don’t know of a pilot in your area, you might find one at a balloon festival. Hundreds of these festivals take place around the world each year.

Balloon festivals are like fairs, with other activities taking place, and food vendors satisfying the appetites of all those waiting to see the balloons fly. And unlike the flight of a group of powered aircraft, as the sun begins to dip toward the horizon, the evening seems to become more still and peaceful, as the sky is filled with the thrilling sight everyone has been waiting for. So then, even if you don’t want to get involved with ballooning by helping with the ground crew, or taking a ride yourself, you might still enjoy visiting a festival and watching all the beautiful balloons as they go ‘up, up, and away’.

Adventure Vacation Ideas for Couples

Adventure Vacation Ideas for Couples

This time, surprise your spouse by taking him/her on a great adventure. Such vacations are one of the best ways to keep yourself active and energetic throughout the period. They allow you to explore new places in some unique manners, and also help you to get close to the nature in its true sense. Such ideas test your patience, strength, and your faith in hope.

Thrilling Ideas

Biking in Croatia: This is an ideal place for you to visit if you love biking. Croatia is Italy’s neighbor to the east, and it’s endued with beautiful landscapes. You and your spouse can go biking or cycling around the medieval castles and vineyards, along the scenic Adriatic sea.

Grand Canyon Oasis: If you love cascading waterfalls, water pools, and lush vegetation, then the best place to go is Havasupai, which is nestled deep in the Grand Canyon. You can enjoy scuba diving, river rafting, and hiking with your spouse. It is also very famous for the delicious cuisines that you can relish, and sleep peacefully under the starry sky.

Discover Glacier Country (Alaska): Imagine the mountains with puffy snow around it, turquoise water in the sea that is partly covered by snow; you are sitting in a boat and watching black bears, mountains goats, bald eagles, wolves, and breathtakingly beautiful whales. Isn’t it exciting? Well, you can experience all of this at Alaska, which is one of the best adventure vacation regions for couples.

Amazon Rainforests: These tropical forests are so beautiful that you should take your spouse to these jungles, at least once in a lifetime. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery, while sailing in a boat on the amazing Amazon river. This place is also endowed with many unique and rare species of animals and plants.

Hiking in New Zealand: How about hiking, cycling, or biking in a bountiful countryside? In such cases, New Zealand is the perfect place to visit. You can enjoy trekking in the wild, beautiful, and thrilling nature of this country including its national parks.

Challenge the Everest: To get the ultimate adrenaline-pumping experience, you need to attempt to climb the Mount Everest. You can experience the grandness of the Himalayan range, which is endowed with magnificent hiking trails. These mountains is so deeply beautiful that your heart will melt in a minute even in the freezing cold. You can also experience the taste of Nepali culture that is very spiritual.

African Safari: This is one of the most daring locations for thrilling vacations. Traveling to Africa is one of the most mysterious journeys in the world, which has some of the greatest treasures to explore. African Safari is very popular, and its wildlife and nature just leave you speechless. A volcano tour in this country is so exciting that you will never forget about it.

Wherever you go, make sure that you and your spouse share the same interests, when it comes to adventure travel. Also, make sure that you follow all the safety measures before you venture out for such a vacation. Enjoy this time with your spouse to the fullest, and make it a memorable one.

The Top 5 Beaches in the World

The Top 5 Beaches in the World

travel

The lure of the bronze sun, vast azure skies and the endless blue-green oceans on a tropical paradise beach resort make for a perfect holiday destination. With hundreds of beautiful beaches to choose from, some have been given the distinction of being the best beaches in the world. Some of these resorts are listed below.

1) Ka’anapali, Hawaii

One of the most populated, popular best beaches in Maui, Hawaii, Ka’napali is a paradise on earth. It is located in West Maui, two miles north of the historic whaling town of Lahaina and is surrounded by numerous elegant hotels and condominiums. The beach is three miles long and is full of fun-filled activities where you can snorkel, windsurf, jet-ski, parasail and even kayak. It is divided into two separate long stretches by a massive 300 foot cinder cone Pu’u Keka’ known as the Black Rock. The rock divides the sand into two and swimmers find themselves bathing in deep water. The rugged lava coastline around the Rock is also an outstanding snorkeling spot, one of the best on the island. Swimming in the crystal clear waters is safe throughout the year but best outside the season of high winter surfs.

2) Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA

With 60 miles of pristine beach, Myrtle Beach water sports and Myrtle Beach fishing are the finest among the different beaches in America. Besides lazing and tanning in the tropical sun, the soft wide beach provides ample opportunities for swimming, surfing, parasailing, shell collecting and volleyball.

Although your fun begins at the beach, the best attraction always, there is plenty more to do at Myrtle Beach. Besides beautiful beaches, it has delectable food, amusement parks, variety of shopping malls, lively nightlife and adventure sports. With hundreds of attractions, both indoors and outdoors, Myrtle Beach offers fun and excitement for all ages to enjoy.

This beautiful beach resort has more than 100 professional golf courses, a NASCAR sanctioned track, minor league baseball as well as tennis. You can take a deep sea fishing adventure from eight different piers or fish the backwaters and creeks all the way from Little River to Pawley’s Island on the South Carolina coast. Moreover, there is a wildlife sanctuary where you are likely to spot alligators and deer combined with several boat tours to give you a real feel of the place.

3) Cancun, Mexico

Cancun is truly known as the vacation haven of the 21st century with gorgeous beaches of white sands and turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Having started off as a fishing village of only 120 people, Cancun is now a bustling beach resort with a population of half a million and a tourist onslaught of more than two million a year. One of Mexico’s popular and best beaches it features world class resorts, hotels, clubs and malls. It offers something for people of all ages whether it an all-day fun at the beach or an isolated, tranquil island. It is close to Miami and has a number of activities to choose from like parachuting, jet-skiing, scuba-diving and golf. Topless bathing is an accepted activity in and around the surrounding areas of Cancun.

With striking modern hotels along the beach front and a lively nightlife, it is a fantastic getaway for the weary traveler. It encloses a huge lagoon, with water on both sides. Also, much of the Yucatan is easily accessible from here. There are two quite separate parts to Cancún: the zona commercial downtown which houses the shopping and residential centre and the zona hotelera – a string of hotels and tourist amenities around the Cancún Island. This is a narrow strip of sandy beach connected to the mainland at each end by causeways.

4) Montego Bay, Jamaica

Montego Bay is known for its long sandy stretch of bay with miles of coral reef and some of the most beautiful and best beaches in the world. Montego Bay is Jamaica’s second largest city and rests between the gently sloping hills of Bogue, Kempshot and Salem. It extends approximately ten miles from the suburban rich area of Reading at its western edge to the plush villas and resort hotels of Ironshore and Rose Hall to the east.

Montego Bay is made up of two distinct parts – The Gloucester Avenue now called the Hip Strip and the city proper or the downtown.

All along the coastline are beautiful luxury hotels with three main public beaches which offer all amenities and several water sports. For a quieter and tranquil atmosphere you can head to the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean Beach Park, east of the town of Ironshore.

Montego Bay offers a wide variety of entertainment and sporting activities. From fun on the beach to the delicious food served at the waterfront, white water rafting and adventure sports, catamaran rides and fishing charters, it has it all.

5) Phuket, Thailand

Sand between your toes, stunning tropical sunsets, cold drink in your hand and warm blue inviting seas – this is picture perfect Phuket. This island is known for its silky soft beaches, superb oriental hospitality and great value accommodation. You can go diving in the Andaman Sea, golfing at championship courses or indulge in exciting eco-adventures in the tropical forest of Phuket. Take an exhilarating speedboat trip to surrounding islands or a serene cruise around mystical Phang Nga Bay, or simply enjoy Phuket’s vibrant nightlife in Patong Beach.

Known as the Pearl of the Andaman, Phuket is a large island in the Indian Ocean. The surrounding waters contain much varied marine life and the town is known for its quaint Sino-Portuguese architecture. It is a very attractive island for sightseeing with lovely seashores and forested hillsides.

Top Surf Destinations in the World

Top Surf Destinations in the World

Surfing is a water sport where the surfer rides on the waves. It has also given birth to extreme sport like skateboarding. Surfing must be always practiced where there is access to ocean or sea. There are many theme parks that offer artificial surfing, but they fail to provide the same amount of thrill and excitement to the sport.

The surfer must be very cautious as this sport involves a lot of risk like drowning, animal attacks and other injuries/bruises, which could be fatal. This sport needs guidance and it is certainly not safe to venture into it without prior experience. Surfing is the most popular sport in the coastline areas and finding a trainer is very easy. Let’s take a look at the world’s most popular surf spots:

Gold Coast, Australia: Australia undoubtedly has the best beaches and the Gold Coast has the most consistent waves. The Gold Coast is located in the southeast corner of Queensland. With 70km of beaches and four classic points – The Spit, Main Beach, Narrowneck, Palm Beach and Mermaid beach, it is certainly the surfer’s paradise.

Mentawai Islands, Indonesia: Mentawai Islands are one of the most consistent surf destinations in the world. This island comprises of about seventy islands. Mentawai Islands have great waves all round the year but the best time to surf is from June to September, when the waves are high. However, March to October is also the ideal time to visit.

Jeffreys Bay, South Africa: Jeffreys Bay is located in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa and about an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth. Jeffreys Bay is one of the top 5 surfing destinations in the world and it also hosts the annual Billabong Pro surfing event at Supertubes during the month of July. Jeffreys Bay has been luring the surf enthusiast for over 4 decades. Jeffreys Bay has one of the best waves and it has not changed ever since it was discovered. The best time to visit Jeffreys Bay is from June to August.

Fuerteventura, Spain: Fuerteventura is located 90km from the African Coast and it is the second largest of the Canary Islands. Fuerteventura which is also known as the Mecca of surfers has the best surf in the island. This island has a warm climate which is cooled by the Atlantic Ocean breeze and the surfers often express their joy of the wonderful weather. The best season to surf at the Fuerteventura is from October to March. The beginners must be very careful as the waves show no mercy as they are rough. Then most popular waves are the Heirro, Rocky Point, The Bubble and El Muelle, Harbour Wall, the quiter , Shooting Gallery, Generosa, Suicides, Mejillonas, Majanicho, German Rights, Cotillo and Esquinzo.

El Salvador: El Salvador is located in the Central America bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and Honduras is the new surf destination. El Salvador has a tropical climate that is distinguished by warm temperatures during the day and chilly nights, except for the coastal plain. El Salvador has consistent waves throughout the year and all the swells are generated from the southern hemisphere. The surf season at El Salvador is almost year round, from March to October being the most favorable time.

Apart from the above mentioned surf destinations, Uluwatu, Indonesia, Sunset Beach, USA, Costa Rica, Bali, Indonesia, California, North America, Samoa and Santa Catarina, Brazil are also the most popular and favored surf destinations.