Author: mountainmanpioneer

Great Hiking Spots in Mauritius

The mention of Mauritius gets most people to envision white sandy beaches holding back deep azure waters against clear skies matching the color of the ocean.

Resorts are aplenty serving delicious Mauritian cuisine. But did you know that the island nation, which is a part of Africa is also blessed with lush jungles that are home to cascading waterfalls and beautiful land and aerial critters?

Let’s take a minute to thank the volcanic eruption that occurred millions of years ago to create the island.

While water-sport enthusiasts have plenty to revel in, hiking opportunities come as a cherry on the top of the cake. Its a total win-win!

Whether you’re looking to book a honeymoon package to Mauritius or travel solo, here’s presenting the most ideal places to go hiking in Mauritius.

 

Ideal Places to Go Hiking in Mauritius

Black River Gorges National Park

Expanding over 68 sq. km of land, the Black River Gorges National Park treats hikers with trails that stimulate even the weakest of sight senses. You can ascend the lush carpeted slopes of the Black River Peak and feast your eyes on astounding vistas of the lagoon down below or take the trail that leads to the enchanting Alexandra Falls or discover the marshy lands abundant with various plant species by taking the pathway close to the Petrin Centre. Too tired to walk? Hire mountain bikes and explore the wilderness here. No matter what you choose, you’re guaranteed to spot some awesome wildlife including the Mauritian flying-fox, macaque Monkeys, and the green echo Parakeet. Note that there is an entry fee of Rs. 100 per person.

 

Le Pouce Mountains

Standing tall between the Signs Mountain and the Peter Both Mountain the Pouce Mountain, is the nation’s 3rd tallest peak, situated in the north-western part of Mauritius. Here’s a fun fact: Le Pouce is a French word that literally translates to “the thumb”, thanks to the thumb-shaped pinnacle. Treks normally commence from Port Louis or St.Pierre. Once you reach the top, you’ll be treated with a panoramic view of the lush north, sugar-cane fields, and a few tiny islands in the distance. Although this is one of the easiest climbs in the country, make sure that you hire a tour guide for the best experience.

 

Lion Mountain

Lying in the Bombous Mountian belt, the Lion mountain offers a loop trail that takes about three hours to complete. While the seascapes at the mid-level offers verdant views of the surrounding valleys, you’ll be bestowed with staggering views of deep blue lagoons at the summit that just cannot be paralleled. The mountain is abundant in indigenous vegetation but here’s the big caveat – the terrain is pretty rugged so its advisable to book a tour guide to help you cross the rough patches.

 

Some Useful Information:

Best Time to go Hiking: It’s best to visit during the winter months i.e. between May to December.

Hiking Essentials: Flexible water-bottle, a hat, sunscreen lotion, a backpack, hiking boots, and a good camera (optional).

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Iceland For KIDS! Tips and Activities

Iceland is known as an extreme adventure destination famous for its volcanos, waterfalls and glaciers but that doesn't mean that it can't be a fantastic family vacation destination as well. 

In addition to all of the volcano hopping and glacier trekking that you probably already have planned...

 

Here are my Top Kid-Friendly Activities in South East Iceland:

1.) Bounce on the moss covered lava fields

Once you get even ten minutes outside of Reykjavik, you’ll see them. Rolling, green, glorious fields beckoning your kids from the backseat of your rental SUV. Pull safely over and let them loose. The moss that covers the lava field is extremely resistant and bounces back to little running feet. They can hop or run and their foot steps will feel super charged. It’s bound to add to some family fun! 

Some fields are better than others in terms of the ‘bounciness factor’ and our tour guide took us to the field pictured above. Ask your tour operator for recommendations or just rely on trial and error, there are fields almost every where you look once you are out of the city.

 

2.) Experience an Earthquake at the Earthquake Exhibition

On your way to the volcano area from Reykjavik is a solid two hour drive, you can break it up by visiting an exhibit on the 2008 Quake that shook Iceland. You can actually take a look at an 5,000 year old earthquake crack displayed under glass under ground, see what a kitchen would look like after a quake and even feel what a +6 Richter quake feels like by taking a turn in an earthquake simulator. The exhibit is free, the simulator is not. 

The exhibit is located in the same building at the Tourist Information Center in the shopping center of Sunnumörk in Hveragerdi which is about 45 km east from Reykjavik. 

 

3.) Watch skateboarders and take in the art at the local skatepark in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is an unexpectedly family-friendly city. There are a few parks around town but my favorite was the colorful skatepark in the city center. Slides for kids, skate ramps for teens and a huge spray-painted sea lion mural makes sure there is something for everyone. The park is near The Lebowski Bar which is a great place for beers for the big kids (you!) after the little ones are off to bed too.

 

4.) Make friends with some Icelandic horses

Iceland is known for it’s beautiful breed of Icelandic horses. Smaller and stockier than most horses, Icelandic horses resemble ponies and are so sweet and cute. We pulled over on the side of the road and patiently made friends with a docile-looking bunch. Farms and ranches are everywhere along the highways outside of the city so ask your tour guide if he or she has any they can recommend to visit with the kids. 

 

5.) Visit the Local Thermal Baths

The Blue Lagoon is a luxurious retreat and something very special for mom and dad but after you have spent a day relaxing at Iceland’s most famous lagoon, make it a family trip by going to a local city thermal bath with the kids. 

My favorite is the one by the sea in Reykjavik. When I was there, local and tourist families were grilling dinner on the barbeque, parents were relaxing in the hot baths and kids were running around and playing on the sand in the warm sea (it’s the run off from the thermal bath)- even though it was cloudy and cold outside! 

I can’t give specific directions to here but if you ask around to locals for where the Thermal Baths are by the beach and sea in Reykjavik, they should be able to point you in the right direction. It is about a 15 minute walk from Bus Hostel and SADCars Rental car.

 

A few tips to make your family vacation more enjoyable:

The weather varies in Iceland from windy to chilly to downright rainy and cold. Be sure to bring breatheable, layering pieces that dry quickly if wet and can be shed as the day heats up. I personally love LL Bean Kids because of their 100% Guarantee, if your kids are tougher than their gear just bring it back and get a new one at anytime- my mom LOVED this policy for us when we were little. 

Rain gear is a MUST. For little ones I recommend a full plastic rain suit, ponchos or a long rain jacket for adults (make sure it will cover your thighs as you are walking up volcanos or through lava fields in the rain) and a travel umbrella to throw in your purse for days spent exploring the city. 

Bring two pairs of outdoor shoes for the kids on every expedition. One pair of high-top hiking boots to keep out loose gravel on more intense hikes and a pair of sneakers that you know you kids feel comfortable in to change into as soon as you're off the volcano or out of the wet area. Most likely your tour guide will carry a backpack that you will be able to stash things in so you and your family can explore hassel-free but ask first.

Keep an extra pair of clothes and shoes in your rental car. Iceland is best explored by car so you will be spending a good amount of time traveling in your car or in the car of the tour company you are with- take advantage of this by stashing a small bag of extra clothes and an extra pair of comfy shoes for you (the kids shoes should be in your guide's backpack.) These will come in handy if you get soaked one of the waterfalls (like we did!) and it's nice to change out of hiking boots and into sneakers when you can. We toured with Jon from South Iceland Adventures for two days and just left our bag in his car overnight, I would assume whatever tour company you are with will let you do the same. 

24-hour daylight is hard on kid's sleeping patterns. At least a week before your tip to Iceland, start your kids on sleeping with eye masks. It feels weird and they will rip them off at first but after a few nights, the masks should stay on tight. Make it special by ordering a fun mask online like this Zombie sleeping mask or a matching Kitty night dress and mask here. 

Iceland's history is as fun as a fairytale. Look for kids books on vikings, volcanos, puffins and whales and read them together in preparation for your trip so the little one's have things to engage their imagination and look forward to on your vacation. Here's a good kid's adventure book to start with. 

Food in Iceland is mostly fish and meat-based and not exactly picky-eater or kid-friendly. However, in a pinch most petrol stations sell hot dogs and most restaurants can make kid-friendly fair if you ask. I am vegetarian and even though most of the time there was nothing veg on the menu, they were able to whip me up something wonderful at every place we ate. 

 

Iceland surprised me with how kid-friendly and family oriented the culture is and I'm sure you and your family will fall in love with it as much as I have.  

If you would like to read about the rest of my week-long Volcano Hopping adventure in Iceland, have a look here and to see my Photo Gallery on Iceland, have a look here.

Thanks and Happy Travels!

 

Travel tip shared by LindsayMC for Travel Dudes.

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Best Hikes in Yosemite National Park, California

Existing as one of the most iconic national parks in the USA, Yosemite is home to some of the best trails in the park system.

Featuring stunning meadows, lakes, waterfalls and granite cliffs; many of the park's most beautiful landscapes are only accessible by lacing up one's hiking boots and hitting the trails. From hiking bucket list worthy Half Dome to scrambling up Clouds Rest Trail, the hikes here offer something for everyone and are one of the best ways to discover the area.

Keep in mind that Yosemite is also one of the more central national parks in California, and makes for an essential addition to any California National Park Road Trip Itinerary

Ranging from easy to hard, and day hikes to backpacking, here are 10 of the best trails found in Yosemite National Park...

 

Top Hikes in Yosemite National Park

1. Vernal and Nevada Falls

LEVEL: Hard

DISTANCE: 8.8 Miles

ELEVATION GAIN: 2,191 Feet

TYPE: Loop

Beginning at Happy Trailhead near shuttle stop #16, hike by two gorgeous and famous falls located within Yosemite Valley. This hike starts off with a stroll along the river, followed by a steep incline until reaching the foot of the bridge. Hikers will pass by a closer look of Vernal Falls, then Emerald Pools and hike alongside Nevada Falls to the hike’s highest point. Head down the John Muir Trail in the summer for more views of Nevada Falls, as well as Liberty Cap, before reaching the original footbridge again. Portions of the JMT are closed in the winter, so head back down the same trail to the trailhead during this time of year.

 

2. Half Dome Trail

LEVEL: Hard 

DISTANCE: 14.8 Miles

ELEVATION GAIN: 5,164 Feet

TYPE: Out and Back

Undoubtedly the most popular hike in Yosemite Valley, visitors come from far and wide for the opportunity to summit Half Dome. This endurance hike can take anywhere between 10 to 12 hours, meaning hikers should be in the best shape before attempting. The cables usually go up starting towards the end of May and a permit is required for the trail during this time. Most start at sunrise and decide on a turn around time if summitting does not seem doable by sunset. The last 400 feet are the hardest once reaching Half Dome, but the hike down is a breeze. Hikers usually opt to take the Mist Trail back down, which is the original way up, though the John Muir Trail is also an option and provides a change of scenery. For Half Dome Permits visit the National Park Service website (recreation.gov) or call the Yosemite Park Ranger Station.

 

3. Upper Yosemite Falls Trail

LEVEL: Hard

DISTANCE: 7.2 Miles

ELEVATION GAIN: 3,175 Miles

TYPE: Out and Back

One of the most visited falls in the park, as well as the tallest waterfall in North America, Yosemite Falls offers hikers an easier lower falls trail or the more challenging upper falls trail. Consisting of three sections, visiting Upper Yosemite Falls takes hikers about six to eight hours roundtrip. The trail is 3 miles one way starting at Camp 4 and once at the top, there’s a platform to admire the valley floor nearly 2,500 feet below. Although not as popular as the lower falls, this hike will prove to be quite satisfying once the summit is reached.

 

4. Lower Yosemite Falls Trail

LEVEL: Easy

DISTANCE: 1.0 Miles

ELEVATION GAIN: 52 Feet

TYPE: Loop

Just a quick stroll up to the the falls, the Lower Yosemite Falls is one of the most popular trails in the park due to its short distance and accessibility. Kid friendly and wheelchair accessible for the first half of the loop, the trail is open year round, but can be icy in the winter — proceed with caution. Spring is the best time for viewing as the waterfall is often dry from late July through October. 

 

5. Four Mile Trail

LEVEL: Hard

DISTANCE: 9.2 Miles

ELEVATION GAIN: 3,612 Feet

TYPE: Out and Back

Traveling 3,200 feet down to Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point, this trail features views of famous sites along the way including Half Dome, North Dome, El Capitan, Cathedral Rocks, and full views of Yosemite Falls. The relentless switchbacks are not for the faint of heart - hikers can also choose to hike one direction as long as transportation is secured when reaching the end of the trail. Note that winter closures are generally in effect from November to late May or early June, so plan to hike both directions during this time of year.

 

6. Glacier Point Trail

LEVEL: Easy

DISTANCE: 0.6 Miles

ELEVATION GAIN: 236 Feet

TYPE: Out and Back

One of the park’s iconic destinations, visitors must park and walk a little over a half mile to the final destination. Once at Glacier Point, a picturesque 270-degree view of the valley, as well as Half Dome and three of Yosemite’s famous falls are on full display. Not much of a hike, but rather a stroll, this is a must see sight. In the winter, the road to Glacier Point is closed from November to late May or early June, but cross country skiing and snowshoeing are both welcome to access Glacier Point. Strap on a pair of either and opt to spend the night at Glacier Point Ski Hut where there are bunk beds and various amenities. A reservation is required for this accommodation.

 

7. Clouds Rest Trail

LEVEL: Hard

DISTANCE: 12.3 Miles

ELEVATION GAIN: 3,113 Feet

TYPE: Out and Back

A heavily trafficked trail found northeast of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, this is one of the best places to enjoy the view of the famous half mountain. This granite formation requires scrambling up a narrow edge with sheer drop-offs in order to arrive at the top, which is not for the faint of heart. Hikers will pass through flat trails, switchbacks, beautiful woods, a stunning lake and of course, the daring scrambling at the end. Once done, be sure to head back the same way to the trailhead.

 

8. Sentinel Dome Trail

LEVEL: Easy

DISTANCE: 2.1 Miles

ELEVATION GAIN: 456 Feet

TYPE: Out and Back

Home to beautiful wildflowers in the Spring, April through November is the best time to experience this trail and provides much worth for little work compared to many of the other trails in the park. Made famous by Ansel Adams in 1940, this trail is easy enough for most hikers. After  crossing over a stream, the hike begins on a gradual slope until reaching the summit of the dome featuring 360 degree views of the valley below. Along the way, hikers will pass by views of El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Nevada Falls, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, as well as endless views of the gorgeous high sierras.

 

9. Mirror Lake

LEVEL: Easy

DISTANCE: 5.6 Miles

ELEVATION GAIN: 334 Feet

TYPE: Loop

Perfect for nearly any skill level, this longer hike offers stunning views on an almost entirely flat trail. An easy loop around Yosemite, this trail makes it way around Mirror Lake, which is famous for its nearly crystal clear reflection of neighboring Half Dome. Surrounded by mounds of snow in the winter or colorful wildflowers in the summer, this trail is well marked and less crowded than others found in the area. Take the free park shuttle to the far east end of the valley for the trailhead, or park your car at the Ahwahnee Hotel.

 

10. Bridalveil Fall Trail

LEVEL: Easy

DISTANCE: 1.0 Miles

ELEVATION GAIN: 52 Feet

TYPE: Loop

One of the first falls upon passing through Tunnel View, standing at 620 feet tall, this short walk is a great opportunity to stretch those tired legs after a long drive up the mountain. Although much shorter than its neighbor across the way, Yosemite Falls, the mist created here is what makes it unique. When the wind blows, it appears as though a veil worn by a bride. Like most falls in the sierras, this one is best seen in the spring, but more often than not, there is water on it during the winter months as well, just not as much as other times of the year. Although the path is in fact paved, it's not wheelchair accessible due to the slight slope, but it is family friendly.

 

Yosemite Hiking Tips

Note that Yosemite is a park that does in fact receive a heavy amount of snow in the winter months.

Many roads are closed to trails at higher elevations or are only accessible by snowshoe and cross country skiing. For those still accessible, trails are slick and should be used with caution.

And year-round, all trails should always be trekked with enough water and food in case of an emergency. Although Yosemite Valley may feel very safe due to its high visitor attendance, accidents do in fact happen and hikers should be prepared for any scenario. And of course, always stay on the trail and pack everything you bring in, back out.

Remember to leave it better than you found it for future generations!

Top Reasons to Visit Romania

Romania is a country in the southeast part of Europe. This country boasts unique history, spectacular nature, surprising architecture, charming cities and castles, etc.

if you are planning to go on a vacation, but you still don’t know which destination to choose, why not consider visiting Romania? You can even explore Romania using a yacht at the French Riviera.

Here are some of the fantastic reasons why you should visit Romania

It is affordable

Although Romania is part of the European Union, it is a budget-friendly destination since your foreign money can come in handy. Prices for hotels and food are low compared to Western Europe. Some cafes and restaurants that are near tourist attractions may be a bit expensive, but they are still affordable.     Moreover, the admission fees for castles or museums are reasonable as well as transportation.

 

The people are friendly

No matter how amazing a country is, its people can make a huge difference. Romania is one the countries in Europe which is famous for hospitality and friendliness. Another good thing about Romania is that you can find people speaking English in some parts of the country. The younger people will gladly show you directions or give you advice when needed. 

 

The Danube Delta

River Danube is the second-largest river in Europe and it marks the southern border of the country before emptying into the Black Sea. It is a mark of natural beauty being a vast protected land. This river is ideal for bird watching, fishing, hiking, and boating.

If you are a nature enthusiast, then this is a must-visit destination for you. The Danube Delta is also the best and the largest preserved delta in Europe, hosting over 350 species of birds living in its marshes and lakes. It is a biosphere reserve habitat as well.

 

The Painted Monasteries of Moldova

Romania is home to one of the most picturesque places in Europe. The eight monasteries comprise of churches that date back to 13th to 16th C. Some of these monasteries serve as burial places for noble families. They are unique and well preserved.

 

Historic restaurants and delicious food

Romania is a country full of food, and the people there love food. In every corner of Romania, you will find friendly faces happy to serve you some delicious food. It’s typical soup “ciorba” is unique as well as some other dishes such as “sarmale”.

Apart from the unique and tasty food, Romania is home to very old restaurants with incredible interiors, painted ceilings, and ornate wood. The popular ones are located in Bucharest’s historic center. They include Casa Doina, Crama Domneascâ, Caru’ cu Bere, etc.

 

Breathtaking castles [including Dracula]

Romania has plenty of breathtaking landscapes and castles hidden on rocky hilltops. One of the castles includes the Bran Castle. It has a spurious connection to Stoker’s narrative. Other unique castles include Peleș castle and 14-century Corvin Castle.

The Maramureș Castle boasts towns and villages that resemble those of the Middle Ages that had the hay racks, horse carts, and wooden churches. Romania has a rich medieval history with beautiful castles.

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Missing AT Hiker’s Body Found Near Approach Trail in Georgia

The body of a missing Appalachian Trail hiker bound for Maine was discovered Wednesday afternoon near a creek about a mile from the Hike Inn Trail in Georgia, Dawson County Fire Chief Danny Thompson said at a news conference Wednesday night.
Eddie Noonkester of North Carolina, who began his hike on the Approach Trail in Amicalola Falls State Park on Friday, Feb. 14, was reported missing on Sunday after a friend called 911 to report concerns about Noonkester’s health. ...

The post Missing AT Hiker’s Body Found Near Approach Trail in Georgia appeared first on The Trek.

Andy Samberg Is Ready for Anything

Unless you’re lighting a stuntman on fire, the set of a magazine photo shoot can be a pretty tedious place. A photographer stares into a monitor, a pack of bearded bros in Carhartt pants rigs lights and fiddle with those photo umbrellas, which surely have a purpose (though I couldn’t tell you what that is). […]

Andy Samberg, Spring Gear, & More: Our March Issue Is Here

Andy Samberg is all geared up for the cover of our March issue—on stands today. In our cover story, writer Mickey Rapkin caught up with the Hollywood funnyman, producer, and father on the set of our photoshoot in the Hollywood Hills. “I’ve been working so much,” he tells Men’s Journal. From starring in this year’s […]
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