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Africa Blog Guide South Africa

Best Time to Visit South Africa

South Africa is a country that offers almost everything to a tourist and a traveler, with a large scale of flora and fauna, jungle safari’s, Cuisine, one of the oldest culture and traditions to learn about and the vibrant capital famous for its nightlife. It is a country known for its warm hospitality and has its place cemented on every Tour and travels page.

It is located at the southernmost point of Africa. It is surrounded by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Lesotho. Famous for its homegrown wine and chakalaka (A Traditional Dish of South Africa) Contrary to the belief that Johannesburg is the capital, South Africa has 3 capitals, Cape Town, Pretoria, Bloemfontein. It one of the largest exports of gold and is one of the strongest economies of Africa. Its inhabitants are of mixed race and it is a multi-ethnic society with a huge variety of religion culture tradition and languages, unlike other African countries which are dominated by colored individuals. this country is often described as a rainbow nation due to its diversity especially during the time of apartheid.

Although, South Africa got independent in 1910, It wasn’t till 1931 that it was fully independent of the British empire. Nelson Mandela was the first black president of this country and ended apartheid through negotiations in South Africa and bringing in peace to a racially divided nation and fighting for human rights around the world.

Apart from the wild animals and vast deserts, it is famous for its cuisine which is heavily meat based. Its most popular sport is soccer, rugby and cricket and soccer is its national game. FIFA 2010 was hosted in South Africa.

The top ten reasons to visit South Africa –

Budget

It is easy on the pocket for a budget traveler, there are many hostels and guest houses and thus a backpacker’s paradise and for travelers who want to relax, there abundant of resorts around the country with luxurious services

Natural beauty

South Africa is famous for its scenic wonders like Kruger National Park, Table Mountain, Apartheid Museum, Castle of good hope, Mandela house, cape point, Sabi-Sabi, Cape Peninsula. It is a destination for all age groups and preferences.

Adventure

The Adventure capital of the world, it is an adrenaline junkie’s wish list with over 100 adventure sports and places there is something for everyone from mountain walks and hot air balloon to shark cage-feeding and spotting a lion.

Diversity

It is one of the only African countries which honor’s its tradition and immigrant culture. It has 11 official languages. It is the ultimate combo of nature, culture, heritage, adventure, wildlife and the colorful vibe.

Wildlife

The favorite destination for animal planet, it is the only country to have the big 5 lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo, the name was termed by African hunters as these animals are the toughest to hunt on ground and then there is whales, penguins, meerkats, hyenas and birds.

History

For the history and heritage enthusiasts, you could discover the n national’s struggle for freedom and the role of Nelson Mandela, Thomas Nkobi, Hector Pieterson, Steve Biko and many others. An inspiration for many.

The top attractions are

  • Cape Town and Cape Peninsula
  • The Winelands
  • Durban
  • Johannesburg
  • Soweto
  • Wild coast
  • Robben Island

South Africa is a year-round destination due to its unique geography, varies regional climatic conditions and wildlife opportunities the cape generally has a beautiful weather with dry and hot in its summer months while the best time to visit for viewing the whale in between Early July to Mid-November, The Climate of South Africa is usually dry and little bit sunny, it falls in the temperate zone very close to the equator and extreme weather conditions are rare. The climate is highly influenced by its ocean which is surrounded at 3 sides

Different Season in South Africa From Jan – Dec

South Africa has a beautiful temperature with a lot of sunny and dry days. There are various factors for this like altitude and oceans. temperature is dropped around 6*C for every 1000 feet you go up. Indian ocean is on the east coast which is warm, Atlantic on the west which is relatively cold. It usually has dry and wet seasons in most parts of the country exert the western cape. Johannesburg is the weather is usually mild due to its high altitude sunny in the day and cool in the night.

There are four major seasons in South Africa

Spring

Spring is from Sept to November, the change over from winter to spring is windy till the rain starts. it is around 25-30 degree celsius in the day and nights are cooler and thus a light jacket is ideal for this time. It is the ideal time to visit places around cape town. Spring is also a good time for wildlife enthusiast who wants to go on safari as nature is dry and animals can’t hide easily. Ziplining is considered one of the ultimate adventures of South Africa that allows you to enjoy morning sunrises and the rugged terrain

Summer

Summer starts from December until February. Major parts of the country experience rainfall during this time, Temperature is around 25-30 degree celsius and can go up to 40 degree celsius with a dry and hot day and slight showers in the evening. This is the ideal time for trekking or travel around the cape This is the ideal time to relax at the beaches. The country is known for its long beaches and beach sports

Fall

Fall starts from March till May, the grass turns yellow and brown and trees shed their leaves, this is ideally the best time to visit as there is very little rain over the country and it is warm but not too hot, nights are cool but not very cold. This time of the year many tourists flock the country for its large Festivals organized over the course of wildflower festival, whale festival, International Documentary Festival and many more. It is the ideal time to also view the nature with the dreamy and picturesque landscape with beautiful ochers and wine color in nature and fantasy looking settings, perfect for the photographers.

Winter

The winter period is from June to August. Lloudy days and minimal rain and cold nights and snow occasionally. Minimum temperature is -5C and maximum is 25C. July is the wettest month of the year and due to the winter, the wind is cold. A must visit is the sardine run around the southern coast of Africa where billions of sardines wash up the shore.

Though South Africa is not famous for its snow due to its varied climatic conditions and elevated height at some regions, there are few spots where you can see the city turn into a white winter land, Eastern Cape’s inland towns Hogsback and Sutherland is ideal spot to witness snow in winters. Winter is the budget season to visit, due to its less crowd it is perfect to go in winters as u can easily get tickets for parks and roam around in big groups. Booking of hotels and flight tickets are very easy due less tourist traffic.

A brief description about month/season

South Africa is situated in various climatic conditions. There are areas with Mediterranean and with deserts and even tropical climate. The temperature of all these places vary place to place and it is the opposite of the seasons in the northern hemisphere of the continent.
Spring in South Africa is one of the most visited and beautiful places in the world, it is a country where the variety of landscapes and activities are endless. In Regions located away from the coast, they have good winds in spring, unlike the winters.

The average temperature in September is 12C with maximum 26*C and lowest 7*C, Octobers are slightly warmer in days and pleasant in evenings with maximum temperature at 28*C and minimum around 14-15*C. By November spring starts to end and is a trans period to summer with temperatures rising to 29-30*C with the minimum in nights of 16*C.

Summer Starts at mid-November and the temperature starts to rise by December. dry heat through the day and warm nights. Although the largest amount of rainfall falls in the summer season.

Further ahead of cape town, places like Stellenbosch temperatures will be slightly higher. This is the time living near the sea is good and there is a slight breeze. One must be aware of strong winds while planning a trip as strong winds will not give you the right tan. Newborn animals are the best spot during this season. It also the ideal time for seeing animals in the open as water is scarce and all the animals come during the day to drink water. Post the first rains the scenic nature turns green and its low season resulting less crowded parks, it is also the best time for bird watching and migratory birds as it is the ideal climate for them. Higher altitude areas are generally hotter and the shores of Lake Malawi are very hot.

To have the best out of the country the ideal time to visit is between December and January as it is during this time that maximum of the festivities and events are organized. During this time, the weather too is much pleasant. The days are warm with the temperature going to a maximum of 20 degree celsius. The nights too during this time aren’t much cold. It’s all pleasant and cozy, making this time the ideal for planning a vacation. The kick start of autumn with the leaves starting to turn pale and the winds starting to chill, this season is the host for the wild flower festival as well. The blooming of the wild and the unusual flowers magnifies the beauty of the season.

Also, winter is a very pocket friendly season. With less tourists pouring in at this time, this season is ideal for all the enthusiasts who wants to explore the place to it’s core and not let the entire trip burn a hole in their pockets.

Though there is no written rule on what time one should visit the country, and what is the perfect time to visit. The country has numerous things to offer to it’s travelers throughout the year. So, depending on every individual’s requirement one can visit the country. The only time one should avoid going to this country is during the time of excessive heat periods. The temperature spurs up to it’s extremes and there are chances of one not being able to adapt to the extremes. o have the best of the visit, one must be sure at what he is expecting out of the trip, and based on that one must opt for what season to prefer.

Every season has beautiful and picturesque landscapes to offer to every individual, so one will never be disappointed with the country no matter what time of the year it is.

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Blog Costa Rica Guide

Best Time to Visit Costa Rica

Located in the heart of Central America, Costa Rica is beautifully border lined by both Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Having a total area of 19,730 square meters; the country is approximately similar in size to West Virginia. The vast hub of some of the rarest plant and animal species of the world; Costa Rica have more than 500,000 plant and animal species- from micro insects to the giant anteaters; which henceforth makes the country one of World’s most biologically diverse countries.

To add more to it, it has been claimed that almost 4 percent of total earth’s species resides in this heavenly abode. The country protects one quarter of its wild land with the help of law. The country undoubtedly makes its mark as an ideal destination for one and all. This ‘rich coast’ stands apart from its neighbors on numerous trends including sustainable tourism, surfing, farm-to-table restaurants and much more. Also, the infrastructure of the country is developed by keeping an equilibrium with the green energy like wind energy and hydro energy.

So, the country is a perfect blend of ecology and history residing together in a peaceful and family oriented culture where one can easily center oneself on a yoga mat or surfboard, the descending bat-filled caves or the misty volcanic peaks, biking or biking; the only limit a tourist has in this country is the return date!

The main source of the country’s income is tourism. To add more of a wow factor to its beauty and serenity is the fact that ever since the country attained democracy; that was back in 1949; there is no army in the country since then.

With just a marginal existence on the globe i.e. 0.03 percent of the surface, the country proudly shelters 4 percent of the biodiversity in the entire world. Of the total land, 26 percent is composed of the conservation and naturally protected territory.

Apart from tourism the country is also a great center for investments and thus offers amazing potential for the establishment of many multinational companies; all credit to the outstanding academic level of the natives and also, the political stability of the country and higher standards of modern services.

Geography

The country is majorly centered to rugged highlands ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 meters. The Central Mountain Range, The Guanacaste Mountain Range, and The Talamanca Mountain Range are the centric ranges extending throughout the country. Apart from mountains, the country also has several active volcanoes. The coastline borders both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean; also there are numerous streams and rivers which are a tourist hub attracting rafters from all over the world.

Being a tropical destination; the country’s look and landscape go a continuous change throughout the year and hence the country is always in a constant state of renewal. So, every time is the right time to visit this lush green country. One should tailor their trip based on their interests to have a fuller experience which will be satisfied beyond one’s imagination.

With a tremendous diverse landscape, the land is fledged will lush green vegetation amalgamated with stunning flora. The jungles, beaches, and wide climate zones and a wider array of terrain all come together to shape up this beautiful country the way we all see it today; also it all further leads to making the country the best playground for all the adventures ranging from wildlife viewing to rafting to hiking or maybe just relaxing next to the beaches and soothing the soul.

This country has something or the other interesting and exciting discovery to uncover no matter what the season is. So, every time is the right time to visit this country to go the beaten path and receive endless rewards.

The Wildlife

Whatever one has seen or read on animal planet, Costa Rica is the place to come close to almost all of those species. The beautiful scarlet macaws can be easily sighted making their flight. And, one cannot miss out the sight of keel-billed toucans, the mangrove swamp, the white-faced Capuchin and the howler monkey making his haunting calls. The blue morpho butterflies amid the orchid-festooned trees are certainly a treat to the eyes. And to dive into the colorful tropical fish, rays, sharks, dolphins, and whales all come together to become a reality to any conservationist’s dream.

Outdoor Adventures

Costa Rica offers a dizzying suite of thrilling outdoor adventures in every possible shape and size. The sun-dazed afternoon at the beach, the squeal-inducing rush of the canopy zipline; the country offers adventures for all. The hikes and the brisk high altitude trail of the country along with the rushing white-water rapids and the warm water all come together to offer the best to the traveler. The vast and diversified national parks let the visitor enter into a world with a perfect blend of both rainforest and cloud forest. The volcanoes add more to the vistas. So, the country is the most splendid platform for every individual to experience nature at its best and to replenish the soul.

One should note that the busiest times in the country are during Christmas and New Year’s and also on the week leading up to the Easter Sunday; also known as semana santa. So, if one wants to enjoy nature to its core and to have a true bliss it is advisable to avoid going during these times.

Climate

Being a tropical lush destination, the country undergoes a constant shift in landscapes throughout the year, and hence there’s a constant state of renewal. So, no matter how many times one visits this place, the country always have something new to offer. And, every time is the perfect time to visit this place and get amused at its richness and the huge variety is has to offer. Hence, one should tailor his trip based on the interests and thus have an experience like never before.

No matter what season one goes in, there is always exciting to unfold and to get awestruck at. The country definitely is something of the beaten path where the traveler gets endless rewards throughout the journey.

Seasons in Costa Rica

There are two major seasons in Costa Rica which are the dry ‘summer’ (verano) which stretches from January to April and the rainy ‘winter’ (invierno) which is from May till December. These two seasons further corresponds to the tourism high season and low season. Peak season is often used to describe the time period between the two weeks from just before Christmas which prolongs until after the New Year. It is during the peak season only when special higher prices are in effect because of the holidays.

The terms dry and rainy are aptly used to describe the beach destinations of Guanacaste and Nicoya which are in the northwest corner of the country. The remaining pacific side and most of the central mountains follow a much similar pattern but with more precipitation than in general.

The east half i.e. the Caribbean half of the country doesn’t have much strong seasonal variation and the area tends to remain rainier throughout the year. To the contrary, during the month of September and October, when the rest of the country is experiencing heaviest rain of the year, the Caribbean beaches are dry, warm and sunny.

The seasons experienced in the country are reverse to the U.S. and Canada as during December till April when the north is blanketed in snow, Costa Rica enjoys perfect and pleasant summer. The rainy/wet winter months are often coined as “green season” in order to attract more tourists.

The Dry/High Season: December through April

Yes, definitely the dry season. Even February when the peripheries are all blanketed in snow, this place surely looks like summer. The most attracting highlight of the high season is the amazing weather. Throughout the season the country experiences lesser rain and surprisingly in areas like Guanacaste and Nicoya, it’s downright arid. Adding more to the season, wildlife is easier to spot as the entire wildlife concentrates towards the shrinking water sources and also, the deciduous trees shed off their leaves hence thinning the camouflage and make the sight of the wildlife more prominent.

The other reason why summer is the ideal time for the Northern and European travelers is that the country provides them an escape from the snow, cold and dark at home. The extra hours of sunshine and the warm beaches have an extra appeal when one is knee deep in slush. Also, the arctic storm drive ocean swells southward and thus the surf is bigger and much more reliable in the season.

The only disadvantage of the season is that the season is tourist high season which means it becomes harder for the tourist to get reservations and the place is relatively crowded which makes the prices spur up instantly. Starting from Christmas till the end of first week in January and the Easter week, the jeopardy of every traveler is doubled. As the place is too full fledged with a lot of international travelers and the beaches are over flooded with tourist. So, if you want to enjoy the place to its core; it is advisable to avoid going during these times.

But, for those who enjoys crowds to the most, this period serves as the ideal one to them. Because of the extensive crowd every place and everything is running till extended hours. The bars and nightclubs are more lively and energetic as there is an amazing audience for live music and other amazing performances, which certainly doubles up the charisma of the place.

The Rainy/Low/Green season- may through November

The winters; also coined as the low season has been dubbed as the “Green Season” by the country’s tourism industry as it definitely makes a better first impression of the season than being referred to as “rainy”. The travelers are much aware that this time doesn’t need any add ons to make it appealing as during this season the prices are already halved, the crowd is very thin and the rain forested slopes of the mountains starts getting drenched. And the perfect sunny days around the beach aren’t at all unusual now.

Best Time to Go

Undoubtedly, the high season for tourism at Costa Rica runs from late November to late April, which perfectly coincides with the extreme chill of United States, Canada and Europe.
Also called the dry season, this time is the best to enjoy the unadulterated bliss of nature to its extreme. The tropical beaches are prettiest and undoubtedly a visual treat to the eyes and the soul. The lesser amount of rains adds up to making this season as the perfect time to visit the place. Tourism is at its maximum tilt during December and first week of January and the prices are a little high. So, with proper pre planning including the reservations of the places, this is the ideal time to enjoy the major attractions to its fullest.This is the time when everything is green form the rains of the bygone season along with clearer blue skies.

The local tourism operators often call the green season as an apt euphemism. As, it is during this time frame when even the arid brown and barren Guanacaste is all flourished and is richly lush and verdant. To experience the flourishing of nature, the replenishing of the flora and fauna; the green season is the ideal. And to add more to it, the prices during this time are negotiable and already reduced with easy access to all the places without much of crowd; also the rain is limited to just a few hours in the daytime.

The only drawback of the season is the rugged roads with muddy slippery blotches which makes it a little difficult and impassable without the help of a four- wheel- drive. Also, because of the rains many lodges shut down during the season and it also seems a little dark sometimes. The nights are a little prolonged with the sun setting at around 6:00 pm year round.

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Blog Guide Sightseeing USA

National Parks in Florida

Planning your next vacation? Florida has many beautiful national parks offering primitive sites with amazing views and an ethereal glimpse of nature that should not be missed in a lifetime. These national parks offer a wide range of fun-packed experiences whether it is camping, snorkeling or just historic site seeing.

Each national park in Florida has its own exclusive element where you can delve into the reefs, wildlife, and history. The weather is best from November to mid-April, most of the parks are open whole year but during wet summers, some tend to close for a brief period.

Here is a must-try list of best six national parks in Florida that you should include in your itinerary immediately.

1. Everglades National Park

This national park is one of a kind. Everglades National Park is the largest tropical wilderness in the United States which is a 1.5 million-acre subtropical and tropical habitat. It was established in 1947 to retain the biological diversity and is home to alligators, Florida panthers, the American crocodile, 350 species of birds and many other species, giving you an extraordinary view of wildlife and ecosystems.

Best time to visit

Every year over a million people visit this national park specially in from December to March when temperature is low, making it the ideal time for camping as there are lesser bugs.

Directions

This Park is huge and in contrast to most of the other National Parks, the Everglades has three entrances in three different cities. The first main entrance is  Homestead Entrance, the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center is located at this entrance, as well as  Royal Palm and Flamingo. The second one is Miami Entrance referred to as the Shark Valley Visitor Center which is closest to the Greater Miami Area, Florida. And the last one is the Everglades city entrance called the Gulf Coast Visitor Center closest to Naples, Florida in the west.

Things to do

For having the best experience of Everglades, it would be advised to either rent a boat as most of the park is only accessible by water .Visitors like to take a walk on the boardwalks and trails along the main park road to join in ranger-led events. If you like biking, you must visit the Snake Bight Trail near Flamingo and the Shark Valley. Long Pine Key and Flamingo campgrounds offer great sites for camping along with the facility of drinking water, grills, rest rooms and tents. There are several walking trails in the park like the Pineland trail, Pahayokee Overlook and Mahagony Hammock trail which vary in hiking difficulty, making them attractive spots. Along with these,

Everglades National Park offers fascinating wildlife view, and if you are lucky, you may also get a glance of exquisite birds or alligators. This park is a famous spot of fishing too.

2. Big Cypress National Preserve

The 720,000-acre Big Cypress National Preserve has a similar wildlife and terrain like the Everglades National Park, but this park custom made for camping and hiking. The freshwaters of the Big Cypress Swamp back the prosperous marine estuaries along Florida’s southwest coast. This amazing National Park is massive, diverse and accommodates a blend of tropical and temperate plant communities that are central to a diversity of wildlife including the Florida panther.

You can visit Big Cypress with your own vehicle or take a walk, exploring the scenic drive and a lot of the viewpoints and boardwalks.

When to Visit

People like to visit mostly in dry winter months. Although hiking in this national park is pleasant in all seasons. Programs and activities begin November go through April.

Things to do

Hiking lovers can explore the southern terminus of the  Florida National Scenic Trail which is located in Big Cypress in the winter season. You can also explore Turner River Road that runs alongside Turner River and expect to see alligators, birds, turtles, fish, and wildflowers. Other recreational activities like hunting and camping are famous too. The Loop Road and the  Tamiami Trail are acclaimed for wading and walking.

3. Biscayne National Park

Located in South Florida, Biscayne National Park is the largest marine park in the National Park System covering 172,971 acres and safeguarding the southern section of Biscayne Bay, including a rare combination of aquamarine waters mangrove shorelines and fish-bejeweled coral reefs. Almost 95% of this National Park is forest and the bay has broad mangrove forest. Simply rent a boat and enjoy the beautiful park; boat rentals are widely available.

This national park is considered one of the most fascinating parks in the whole country. It consists of four primary ecosystems: the southern expanse of Biscayne Bay, the northernmost islands of the Florida Keys, a narrow fringe of mangrove forest along the mainland shoreline and the beginning of the third-largest coral reef in the world

Things to do

There are many things to do for the whole family, counting guided ranger walks, fishing, boating, diving, snorkeling, paddling, hiking, camping, wildlife watching, etc. With a guided boat tour, this park is ideal for saltwater fishing, you can catch lobsters, crabs, snapper but a lot of species are protected so it is better to take fishing awareness classes first and keep yourself informed.

Also, if you are looking for something intriguing, spearfishing is also allowed in this park. Other than fishing, visitors also find snorkeling and scuba diving in the park. You can find many shipwrecks that are amazing dive sites; Biscayne national park is home a minimum of five shipwrecks.

This National Park is also famous for sightseeing. Outside the park boundaries is the Key Biscayne where you’ll find the alluring and historic Cape Florida Lighthouse which has been there since 1825.

4. Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park lies almost 68 miles west of Key West in the  Gulf of Mexico, established in the year 1976. With seven small islands, this 100- square mile national park is mostly open water. It is the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson, picturesque blue waters, archipelago’s coral reefs and abundant sea life and the huge number of species of bird life that frequent the area. It is accessible only by boat or seaplane. The center of attraction of this park is Fort Jefferson, an enormous but incomplete coastal  fortress which is the biggest brick structure in the  Western Hemisphere and is buildup of more than 16 million bricks.

It is estimated that on an average about 63,000 visitors annually visit the Dry Tortugas National Park. It is difficult to visit the park with private boat considering the distance that is why most of the visitors come by ferry or seaplane from Key West.

Climate change has shrunk some of the seven islands. The Dry Tortugas is classified as a borderline subtropical-tropical ecosystem. It anchors species that do not commonly breed in and are not ordinarily found anywhere else in the continental United States or the water body enveloping it.

Birds

There are 299 species of birds in Dry Tortugas National Park making this park one of the top birding destinations in North America, however out of the 299 only 8 species nest generally inside the park. During the month of April, birdwatching exercise increases as many migratory bird species pass through the park. Even if you are not an ardent birder they are an eye-catching extension to the amazing scenery.

Snorkeling

During the summers, the water in this park is exceptionally clean and clear, making it ideal for snorkeling as compared to diving in most of the keys. As the park is away from the land and sits in a guarded area, the reef has not been harmed by humans. In comparison to rest of the state, it has more sea life too.

Diving

This national park is considered as one of the most divergent diving sites in the United states where you will see rare nighttime creatures like octopus and basket starfish.

5. Canaveral National Seashore

Canaveral National Seashore bluster the longest stretch of undeveloped beach on Florida’s east coast almost 24 miles of pristine beachfront was created on January 3, 1975. Canaveral is essentially a conservationist beach containing 58,000 acres of barrier island, open lagoon, coastal hammock and pine flatwoods and as a protected area will continue to be as it is today. It is a  United States National Seashore based in  Brevard County and  Volusia County in the  East Central Florida. The best and accomplished aspect in the park is actually man-made -a 35 feet high mound of oyster shells constructed by Native Americans referred to as Turtle Mound which summit gives a splendid view of the lagoon, ocean and the island. It represents an amazing illustration of a comparably stable barrier beach supported by a dynamic lagoon system.

Along with hiking, visitors can spend time in watching turtles and finding out many of the archeological assets in the park. Recreational activities include fishing, canoeing, surfing, sunbathing, swimming, camping, sightseeing and boating. This beach has almost hundred and fifty recorded archeological acquisitions, largely consisting of sea fossils. As wildlife is more accustomed to cold weather, that is why this national park is considered great to be visited in winters and on top of that its location in Central Florida is an added advantage. You can get into the National park either by a plane or drive a car.

In summers the temperature goes up to 90’s and its hot and humid while in winters the temperature remains 60-70 degrees and weather is mild. However, in January and February the temperature can go down to freezing point. The hurricane season starts from June and goes through November and would be most affluent in the month of August and October.

Canaveral National Seashore has a huge, diversified and alluring range and variety of sea and terrestrial animals. The park provides habitat for fourteen species of federally-listed endangered animals which is the second greatest number in the whole National Park Service. These include seven reptiles- Loggerhead sea turtle, Green sea turtle , Leather back sea turtle, Kemps’s Ridley sea turtle, Hawksbill sea turtle, Eastern indigo snake, Atlantic salt marsh snake and Gopher Tortoise; four birds- Bald eagle, Wood stork ,Florida scrub jay and Arctic peregrine falcon and three mammals- West Indian Manatee, Southeastern beach mouse and Right whale.

6. Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve

Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is a United Nations  National Preserve in Jacksonville, Florida, established in 1988 and extended in 1999.It is named after for the primitive Timucua people  (Timucua Indians) who lived along northeast Florida’s waterways. Considered an ecological time capsule of Old Florida, the essentially undeveloped land comprises of 46,000 acres of wetlands, habitats, city, county, state, salt marshes, coastal dunes, hardwood hammocks and federal land. It is one of the most beautiful national parks in the south and also the most ecologically significant one.

History

The Timucua-speaking tribes who had 35  chiefdoms throughout northern Florida and South Georgia Archaeologists believe their culture had remained originally consistent for more than 1000 years. But that is before the Europeans arrived, after that the Timucuans handled badly and the tribe faded by 1800.

The preserve is huge and entirely free making it ideal to explore openly and settle in for a complete weekend. Visitors take a ferry to reach the preserve which is located on parcel separated by St. Johns River.

When to visit

The best time to visit this national park would be mid-October to April as the weather is cool then and bugs are less. And for the Kingsley Planation’s living history garden, May to September would be the ideal time. Also in those months, you can view American bald eagles, wading birds, and pink-hued roseate spoonbill.

What to do

The four trails of the  Theodore Roosevelt Area located near the Fort Caroline National Memorial give a glance of old Florida, walking on these trails would be give a spectacular and worthy view. This park is considered a great spot for hiking as well.

If you are planning a trip soon, this detailed description of each National park would give you a clear picture.

Categories
Blog Guide USA

Best Time to See Northern Lights in Alaska

With winter almost here, are you hunting for places to visit? Well, your search ends now! Winter is the perfect time for paying a visit to Alaska to see the glorious northern lights. To fully enjoy the glory and magnificence of this heavenly display, you have to stay under the ever-changing lights and silently watch them curve and curl, slide and glimmer.

Terry Onsager experienced the spectacular view of the Northern lights or Aurora in Northern Norway. Basically, it is the best place to see these lights. You can also follow his footsteps or you can make your own track, it is up to you. The best time to see these auroras is between winter and spring season. It will be a thrilling moment to see the auroras with your own eyes. The cause of this wonderful phenomenon is that the solar particles are blown towards the earth’s magnetic field more than 60 miles above the earth’s surface.

What Are Northern Lights

Polar lights or Aurora Polaris are a natural occurrence actually found in both the northern and southern hemispheres that can be a truly wonderful experience. The Scientific name of Northern lights is Aurora Borealis. Aurora region is the most active place in Alaska in Arctic region. Tourists are very enthusiastic when they see the nature’s divine light show in the night. The lights are so heavenly vibrant it is like that God is doing the show of light. You can see them in some areas such as Greenland or Alaska in the most of nights throughout the year. The colors and the different patterns of the lights and their shapes make you feel that you are in a space.

How The Northern Lights are Formed

On the surface of the sun when solar activity exhales a cloud of gas, the Aurora is born. It is an electrostatic phenomenon. This is called a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) by all the scientists. The collision takes place with the Earth’s magnetic field. This magnetic field is actually invisible. If you are able to see the shape of this it is like a comet with a long magnetic tail stretching the earth in the opposite direction of the sun.

When a collision of coronal mass ejection takes place with the magnetic field, it results in complex changes to happen in the magnetic tail region. These changes then produce currents of charged particles, after which they flow with lines of magnetic force towards the Polar Regions. These particles are enhanced in energy in Earth’s higher atmosphere. When oxygen and nitrogen atoms collide with these particles, they just produce stunning auroral lights.

The color of the gases is different. Yellow-green light is the most common color because of excitation of Oxygen atoms. Blue and violet lights occur because of ionized molecular Nitrogen. At lower altitudes, you will see vivid red color because of excited molecules of oxygen and Nitrogen. These three are the basic colors.

Pierre Gassende in 1621 named these Northen lights as Aurora Borealis. He first thought that it is a bright sunrise because it has a reddish pink color. But after some scientific research, it was clear that these are Northern lights and appeared in the deep dark. Scientists again said that “Aurora is really so beautiful, but the invisible flows of these particles and magnetism going on the same time can also be the reason of damaging of our electrical power grid and satellites which are operating in space too.” This is the reason why scientists are so eager to know the physics of Aurora and these solar storms so that we are able to keep our technology safe and secure.

Best Time to See Northern Lights in Alaska

To fully enjoy the glory and magnificence of this heavenly display, you have to stay under the ever-changing lights and silently watch them… curve and curl, slide and glimmer.

Terry Onsager experienced the Northern lights or Aurora in Northern Norway. Basically, it is the best place to see these lights. You can also follow his footsteps or you can make your own track, it is up to you. But the only thing you need to know that when to go.

Late in summer is also a good time to spend your vacations in that place. But the best time to see these auroras is between winter and spring season. Really, it will be a thrilling moment to see these auroras with your own eyes. Here are some suggestions to plan the trip according to the best time to see northern lights in Alaska.

  1. If you are ready to view this amazing aurora lights and plan a trip for the same then you should not plan this trip in the middle of the summer. There is absolutely no sense in doing this. You need complete darkness to see these lights and during summer it is less in places in the auroral zone. The sky should be clear all around. Spring and winter time is less cloudy than autumn in the northern auroral zone. That is the reason you should plan your trip between December and April. You may be able to see these lights clearly during these months.
  2. Coincide your trip time with the new moon. Make sure that you are away from city lights when you want to see northern lights. It needs complete darkness. Dress warm and plan to watch from 10 PM to 2 AM. Although an active period of these lights can occur at any time during dark hours. This period is about 30 minutes of duration and if the activity is very high then it may occur every two hours. These lights have irregular occurrence. It may occur randomly or not at all.
  3. You can get an idea or updates from aurora forecast institute i.e. Geophysical Institute about how active these northern lights are in your place. This is just an amazing experience to see these lights live. Don’t miss the opportunity at all.
  4. Being aware during the peak winter season, when all around weather is coldest and nights are darkest then waking up at midnight will definitely not waste your time. You will see the real heaven on the earth. Just believe that your time and money will be totally worth it. You can also make your trip in late summer season i.e early September.

And finally, if you don’t want to move from your place and also want to experience these lights then there is an option made available to you by The Canadian Space Agency. This agency offers you a live feed of the skies above Yellowknife, in their territories.

Best Place to See Northern Lights in Alaska

You always want the best for your kids. So, why not start by providing them the best view of the Northern lights? Following are the key places to see the aurora lights at their full glory. You can plan the visit as per your convenience.

1. Fairbanks

Although you can probably see northern lights all over the state, the utmost reliable place is Fairbanks. Up and inland, Fairbanks geographically comes under the “auroral oval,” where auroras are seen more often. You can also go outing for several hours north from there, generally offered by operators like Northern Alaska Tour Company. You can take a trip and enjoy the heavenly feeling to the fullest. This tour can also take you to areas like Murphy Dome or Chena Lake.

2. Denali National Park

Denali National Park situated between Anchorage and Fairbanks, also known for the highest mountain peak in North America. It is a perfect place to see the Northern Lights. It is only a 3-hour drive south of Fairbanks, you can spot the auroras out here. Because of lack of light and less pollution, it is a wonderful destination for a marvelous Northern Lights view. Best way to see the northern light in this area is to book a lodge around this park because these lights occur in a random fashion and may not be visible daily. Many lodges give you the facility to ring a wake-up alarm when these lights appear.

3. Anchorage

Although Fairbanks is the best place to see the Northern Lights, one more place can also get a wonderful show, that is Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city. If you are going to Anchorage then Salmon Berry Tours offer an overnight and multi-day tour to Talkeetna and Fairbanks too. They provide transportation facilities so that you can enjoy your experience without any hassles in the way.

4. Brooks Range

Another option is that you can book a multi-day stay at Iniakuk Wilderness Lodge. This remote lodge is 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle and 200 miles north of Fairbanks. It’s a low-profile lodge so no disturbance of city lights is here. It’s a fabulous idea that you spend the whole day in snowshoeing or dog sledding. At coldest and darkest midnight heavenly lights are waiting for you to dance with you. Trust me, it will be a fabulous and unbelievably awesome day of your life.

5. Nome

Nome is another place to see the Northern Lights. In this visit, you can get a chance to dog mush and also watch some of the World’s best racers. There are various things to enjoy like snow machine races, bar game tournaments, basketball, craft fairs and art shows apart from viewing the Northern Lights. These Northern lights are not seen every night but when it is seen the experience is just breathtaking. The local residents will be more than thrilled to help you out and guide you through your journey.

6.Coldfoot

Coldfoot is basically known as a truck stop because previously it was served as a truck stop. This is also a perfect place to view the auroras. It is a town of 10 in the Yukon region in northern Alaska. Arctic Circle Aurora Fly & Drive Adventures will make your visit to Coldfoot worthwhile and also keep you in a cozy, comfortable tour van to see the beauty of these lights.

7. Barrow

Barrow, a small town, is situated on the very top of the country’s largest state is just about 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle. You can see the aurora show by simply looking out of the window. Mind you, the temperature drops to negatives here! In this town, you can also enjoy its native culture where dog sledding is a traditional game and fun to participate. You can take a flight from Anchorage to reach Barrow.

8. Sweden

Best viewing locations for the Northern Lights in Sweden are Abisko, Kiruna, and Swedish Lapland. These areas are scientifically proven as an ideal spot for viewing the Northern Lights due to a unique microclimate.

9. Finland

Best Viewing locations in Finland are Kakslauttanen, Luosto, Utsjoki, Nellim, and Ivalo. Upon arrival in the Hotel Aurora, you’ll be given an “Aurora Alarm” that starts to beep whenever the northern lights are seen.

10. Iceland

When you leave the hot and happening nightlife of the city and head out to the open area of Þingvellir National Park you can easily spot the Northern lights. Moreover, as long as you’re outside Reykjavik you can view them from almost anywhere in the country.

Conclusion

Sometimes it is misunderstood that the glow of city lights are actually northern lights, but in reality, Aurora starts with greenish bands moving towards the east-west direction, then sometimes changing into undulating waves. They create green, greenish-yellow, dull blue, or some time even blood red curls of color. Previously it was a myth that these lights had supernatural powers, and more than this some thought that these lights are actually the dancing spirits of the dead.

Well, call it whatever you want, there is no denying that it is a paradise on the earth. It’s a nature’s gift to Alaska. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the Northern Lights with your own eyes. So plan this winter to see the magic of God’s creation and enjoy this beautiful journey to see the Auroras. It does not matter whether you call them the northern lights or aurora borealis. Watching these beautiful green dancing bands of light in the sky is really an amazing experience that you must have at least once in your lifetime.

Categories
Blog Guide Spain

Things to do in Madrid – A Tourist Guide

Madrid, as we all know is the capital city of Spain. The popularity of Madrid can be known from the fact that it became favorite destination in Europe in Mid-2000, to be specific it was the fourth most visited placed. Of course it was the first most visited place in its country, Spain. You must be knowing that it is the headquarters of WTO (World Tourism Organization) and FITUR- the International Tourism Fair of Spain. The most important centre of Madrid is Puertadel Sol. This is the place where you can expect transport to almost any place in the city and the country.

Madras is the center place for a rich cultural heritage of Spanish origin. You can find many historical places such as Churches, museums, palaces and also it is also a place of royal botanical garden. If you are the one planning to a holiday in Europe, Spain definitely should be your holiday destination. This place is suitable to go with family, friends and children. Here are some of your holiday destination points in Spain.

Churches

Madrid has a number of catholic churches which are known for their artistic beauty

  • San Nicolás de los Servitas– the oldest church having the oldest bell tower dating back to 12th
  • San Pedro el Real– second oldest church with high brick tower
  • Jerome Church-It was constructed in 15th century by catholic monarchs. It is a gothic church. This church is being renovated as part of expansion of El Prado Museum. It is proposed to have neoclassical collection and also sculptures by Leone Leoni and PompeoLeoni
  • Bishop Chapel-It was constructed in 16th century and contains tombs of Vargas family. They are artistic pieces of Spanish Renaissance sculpture
  • Isidore Church-It was built by Maria, daughter of Charles V of Germany and I of Spain who eventually became Empress of Austria. It was originally built as a school for the children (which is now also a school). During the Spanish civil war the artwork was destroyed. This church also has intact tomb of Saint Isidore Laborer and urn of hiswife.
  • The Royal Convent of La Encarnación– it was built in 17th century by queen Margaret and interiors of the Church were created by architect Ventura Rodriguez.
  • San Francisco el Grande Basilica has the 5th largest diameter dome to Christianity.

Museodel Prado

Prado museum is the world famousSpanish art museum.  This museum contains works of European artists from 12thto 20th century. It was founded in 1819 as the museum for painting and sculptures. It has Spanish royal collection. The museum contains works of artists such as Francisco Goyaby Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, and Diego Velázquez.

The building of the museum “Museodel Prado” was constructed by of Charles III (Carlos III). It was an attempt to make Madrid a monumental place and a grand building was constructed.

Different sections which are worth watching in Museodel Prado are

  1. Mozarabic murals from the Church of San Baudelio de Berlanga
  2. The Knight with his Hand on his Breast and The Holy Trinity– El Greco
  3. Bartolomé Bermejo, Pedro Berruguete, Juan de Juanes paintings
  4. Las Meninasand The Seamstresses , paintings by Velázquez

Now the museum has about eight thousands of paintings, drawing, prints and a thousand sculptures. All these antiques date back to 12th to 20th century. Most of these antiques are present on the museum and few are given to other museums and institutions forstudy.

Las Meninas by Velázquez, is a master piece in the museum. It is the creation of Velázquez, an Italian.

Because of increasing number of tourists and of its historical importance the museum is being expanded and is the expanded version is seems to be ready by 2019.

MuseoNacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía

It was constructed in 20thcentury and was inaugurated in September 1992. The museum highlights the creations of the two greatest Spanish artists Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. Guernica, the famous painting of Picasso is placed in MuseoNacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. This museum is named after Queen Sofia.It is now the national museum of Spain.

You can find general hospital of Madrid here. Architect José de Hermosilla has worked on this building and later many other architects have also worked on it. There were renovations and reconstructions in this building and finally the hospital was closed in1969.

The history of this museum dates back to 18th century when its central building was a hospital. The building was Centro del Arte (Art Center) from 1986 and later expanded. This museum has also undergone expansions to hold temporary exhibitions, auditoriums, restaurants and offices etc.  This museum holds two auditoriums.

Nightlife

Nightlife of Spanish people starts from midnight to 6.30 am in the morning. The best places known to be a part of Spanish night life are Tribunal, Atocha, Alonso Martínez or Moncloa, Puertadel Soland Huertas. These places will be occupied by both locals and tourists till morning. Chueca is the famous tourist spot for gay people. The main attractions of night life are Tapas bars where you can find Spanish cuisine, cocktails, club, live music, theatres etc. There will be live music concerts in association with La Noche en Vivo. Many artists showcase their talent in these live sessions

Nightlife use to be dull in Spain, it all started only in 80s after the death of Franco. After his death La Movida, cultural movement gained momentum. It is prohibited in Madrid to drink on street. It can lead to a fine of €600. Previously it was a practice to drink in streets and park which was called calledbotellón, though it is still practiced in some parts.

Palacio Real (Royal Palace)

Palacio Real (Royal Palace) is a place where public functions such as state ceremonies and official gatherings are being held. It was built in 9thcentury. It was rebuilt by King Felipe V with stone and brick to avoid any fire mishap. It became the residence of Carlos III in 1764. The palace is spread over 13 hectares. It is one of the finest palaces in the European continent. The interiors are decorated with the artistic works of Giaquinto, Tiepolo and Mengs and his students. Interiors are made of Spanish marble, stucco, mahogany. It has 870 windows and 44 staircases.

The Madrid royal palace has royal armoury and royal pharmacy. Royal armoury is from the best armorers of Italy and Germany. It has armories from 15th century. It consists of armors of Charles V and Philip II. It also contains armory and full tools of Battle of Mühlberg of Emperor Charles V. These armories were destroyed or lost during Peninsular War and Spanish Civil War.

Royal pharmacy features royal cabinets which were the storage units of herbs, prescriptions etc. It has prescriptions of members of royal pharmacy. Even the bottles used for making and storing medicines were manufactured by La Granja de San Ildefonso (Segovia).

Garden of this palace is called Campo del Moro Gardens. Plaza de Oriente is the monumental section of thepalace. It contains statues of Gothic kings. It consists of sculptures of 20 Spanish kings. It has statues of 5 Visigoth kings and 15 kings of Christian kingdoms in the Reconquista.Statues are made of lime and are erected in two lines with gardens in the surroundings.

Royal Theatre

Also called as Teatro Real, opera house or correctly the Opera theatre, is located between Plaza de Isabel II (or “Plaza de Opera”) and Plaza de Oriente.  This place is in front of Royal palace. It was constructed by the Queen Isabel II which was her official residence. Gaetano Donizetti performed La Favorita on its inauguration day as Opera theatre on 19 November 1850.

It has a capacity of about 1800 people. The theatre has 28 boxes, 8 proscenium boxes and a Royal Box.  It has one floor La Rotonda which is open to general public.

The theatre has undergone a number of structural and constructional changes then a Royal order was passed on7th May 1850 to stop the opera and complete the building work in 5 months.

There is no dominant architectural style as the theatre has undergone a number of reconstructions and renovations. It was designed by LópezAguado y Moreno. The opera house has two divisions. The main building is reserved for royal family.

The theatre was being used as a dance hall, a gunpowder store, barracks during the Spanish Civil War etc.

It was again opened in 1997 as opera house as proposed by Queen Isabel II previously.

During 19th and 20th centuries this Opera theatre was reputed as the finest Opera house in Europe

Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid

The garden was started in 1755; it is an 8 hectare botanical garden at Murillo Square. It was started by King Ferdinand VI. It contains more than 2000 plants. This garden was designed by Francesco Sabatini and Juan Villanueva upon orders of King Charles III. The garden is layered into 3 terraces and plants are arranged as per Linnaeus. The main reason of promoting this garden by king was to promote study about botany, discover plants and classify.

Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid is declared as artistic garden in 1942.

There are 3 terraces

  • Terraza de los Cuadros: This layer contains ornamental plants, medicinal, aromatic plants etc.
  • Terraza de lasEscuelasBotánicas: It contains 12 small fountains and plants are plated taxonomically
  • TerrazadelPlano de la Flor:Plant arrangement in the romantic style.

Debod Temple

It was constructed in Devod village in 2ndcentury BC. It is an ancient Egyptian temple

The original temple is close to Nile and Philae, the goddesses of Isis.  In the year 1960 UNESCOdecided to save this temple by construction of Great Dam of Aswan. To preserve this rich cultural heritage, UNESCO took an international call and decided to take the help of Spain andDebod temple was handed over to Spain.The temple was rebuilt in Spain’s West park near to Royal Palace and PlazaEspaña Square.

Plaza de España (Spain Square)

It is one of the popular tourist destinations in central Madrid. It has two skyscrapers the Madrid Tower and the España Building. Torre de Madrid (“Madrid Tower”) was built in 1957 and is one of the highest towers which have offices.

Linking Parks Urban Hike in Madrid

You can enjoy hiking in the central of Madrid on foot with the help of a local guide. You will come close to local culture and folklore with this adventure. This hiking will give you an idea about old streets of Madrid, historical places etc.

Street Art Tour of Madrid

This street tour will showcase the arts of various artists globally at festivals of CALLE Lavapiés, MurosTabacalera and Urvanity.

The other art tour centres are El Campo de Cebada(formerly a community sports center) and La Tabacalera’s walls. Lavapiés is a place where you can find many nationalities.

Sierra de Guadarrama National Park Guided Hike

Experience the flora and the fauna of Spain with the picturistic beauty of the place by hiking from Sierra de Guadarrama National Park. This place is located at one hour distance from Madrid. It is suitable for all age groups including children and adults.  Explore the place with a local guide to enjoy the tour.

Whenever you are planning a vacation to Madrid, you can check for your favourite festival out their

  • 2 May, Fiesta de la Communidad (Madrid’s Community Day).
  • 15 May, San Isidro Labrador (Madrid’s patron saint).
  • 13 June, San Antonio de la Florida (Moncloa neighbourhood’s patron saint).
  • 16–25 July, Virgendel Carmen festivities (Vallecasneighbourhood’s patron saint).
  • 6–14 August, Virgen de la Paloma festivities (Madrid’s popular patron saint).
  • 7 August, San Cayetano (Cascorroneighbourhood’s patron saint).
  • 10 August, San Lorenzo (Lavapiésneighbourhood’s patron saint).
  • 9 November, Feast of the Virgin of Almudena (Madrid’s patron saint).
Categories
Blog Guide USA

Best Time to go to New Orleans

One must enjoy all the seasons on this earth, but when you are planning outing then you must be careful about the weather of that place. It not only helps you in selection of clothes and also prevents health issues because of extreme weather conditions. Be safe and try to study about any place weather conditions before landing. New Orleans situated in United States, is one such place where rough conditions of weather makes it a difficult choice to travel round the year by tourist. Let us try to understand the weather of New Orleans from New Year to Christmas along with the festivities of each season

Starting with December and  January

Winter temperatures of this month goupto 60. There will be fewer tourists at this time and you can make your trip an economical one as the hotel rates will be reasonable. This month marks the anniversary of Battle of New Orleans

Sugar Bowl (January)

The name may sound weird if I say it is associated with football, but yes it is the annual football game of college. It is played in Mercedes-Benz Superdome.  The annual football game dates back to January 1, 1935. It is one of the famous football game matches among Orange Bowl and Sun Bowl. Currently the football game is sponsored by Allstate insurance company and hence it is officially Allstate Sugar Bowl.

The team of Sugarbowl seems to have high payouts. It is estimated that CEO of Sugar Bowl had a salary of USD 607, 500 in 2007 and each participating team seemed to have earned USD 14-17 in 2006.

It will be a feast for football lovers to visit New Orleans in the month of January and even the team players will have a good payout.

Since 2012, Sugar Bowl is being broadcasted on ESPN channel. ESPN has bought rights to sugar bowl till 2026. Sugar bowl received USD 55 million in 2014-15 seasons to broadcast the football game.

Battle of New Orleans Anniversary (January)

This battle refers to series of fights between December 1814 and January 1815. This fight was between American forces and British forces to occupy New Orleans. The American forces were leadby Major General Andrew Jackson and British heads were Admiral Alexander Cochrane and General Edward Pakenham.Treaty of Ghent brought an end to the war.

February-May

The temperature during this time varies between 70s to 80 degrees. This is typical spring season which is warm. Hotel rates will be high this time, prefer doing hotel booking way in advance as many tourist come during this period. Even the hotel rates seem to be high during this period.

Mardi Gras (February-March)

Commonly known as Shrove Tuesday or fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras is the French word which means fat Tuesday, it refers to eating fatty food before fasting of Lenten season. It begins at Epiphany and ends before Ash Wednesday.

French Quarter Festival (April)

It is the largest Free Festival in the United States and it is reputed as world’s largest platform to showcase Louisiana music. The festival was founded in 1983 with its 1st event in 1984. The festival has music concerts showcasing jazz, blues, and zydeco. This festival is also famous for New Orleans food where restaurants promote local food to the tourists.

This festival is organized by French Quarter Festivals Inc, Madero is the CEO and Jeremy Thibodeaux is the president of French Quarter Festivals Inc.

In 2014, the festival had an audience of about 732,000.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (April-May)

Commonly called as Jazz fest, it is also a musical and cultural event. During this event many of the artists show their talent at the local night clubs. This festival is about local music and culture which comprise of  blues, R&B, folk music, gospel music, Cajun music, Afro-Caribbean, Latin, rock, rap music, country music, bluegrass. The most important both traditional and contemporary Jazz music is also the focus of attraction during the event.This festival is held between last week of April and first week of May. The festival is estimated to bring about USD 300 million annually.

New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (May)

A group of wine lovers and restaurateurs came together to celebrate the local food and wine; and give the proceeds of the celebrations to charity. The event came as New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE). The actual cost involved in the event will be given to the restaurant owners and wine suppliers, only the profit will be given to the charity. New Orleans Wine & Food Experience (NOWFE) started in 1992. First festival was hosted by Sheraton Hotel. It started as a four day event the Royal Street Experience, two Grand Tastings, seminars, and champagne brunches. Initially there were no advance booking of tickets for the festival. The festival had an advantage of USD 6000, which was distributed among three charitable trust in equal amounts. The next events were carried out in Fairmont Hotel at a larger scale. Fairmont Hotel hosted the event for two years.

These days events come witnesses about seven thousand attendees. This event brings about a chefs, winers and hoteliers together to provide the best cuisine and wine. This festival has offered USD 1.2 million to charitable organization. This festival offers the diners tasty food and at the same time

To do things at this festival includes

  • Pairing of wines with the selected food
  • The Royal Street Experience will give you good food and good life experience with music and wine
  • More than 250 producers of wine and over 100 restaurants showcase their food at Grand Tastings.
  • You can also attend seminars on food and wine

June-August

This period is typically hot and rainy. Tourist avoid this period because of heat and humidity. You cannot do an easy street walk because of the weather. Hotels will be readily available during this period with reasonable price.

Festivities during this season

Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival (June)

Louisiana is the place where several music generesincluding  jazz, brass bands, R&B, rock and roll, gospel, swamp pop etc have emerged. It is also the birth place of Cajun music and hence the Zydeco music.

This festival is celebrated in June 2nd week on Saturday and Sunday where Cajun and Zydeco music live sessions will be held in Louisiana. This event happens in Old US Mint ground and start at 11 in the morning till 7 in the evening. There will be two stages for each music form.

It is not only the festival of music you can expect great food of Cajun. Artisans from Acadiana Region showcase and sell their arts and crafts during this festival. This festival is held in parallel to Creole Tomato Festival and is organized by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation.

Cajun and Zydeco Music

History of Cajun music dates back to over 2000 years to Cajun tribes of European origin, especially from Germany and Poland. The instruments of Cajun music are on fiddles, guitars, accordions and crooning vocals.

Zydeco is a music form whose main flavor is Cajun but additionally it will have soul, Gospel, R&B, rock and jazz. It uses same instrumentation as in Zydeco and will have more instrumentation.

Satchmo Summer fest (July-August)

This festival is in honour of the jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong. It is the annual festival whichis held in Old New Orleans Mint which is now Louisiana State Museum. This fest is the stage for many musicians including of for traditional and contemporary jazz, big-band jazz. It also has stage for new comers to showcase their talent. This festival is held in early August which coincides with Armstrong’s birthday.

COOLinary New Orleans (August)

During this time of the year people in New Orleans and the surroundings state of New Orleans become guests in their own city to enjoy the delicious cuisines. Hotels give special discounts and packages during this season. You can go on a city ride by biking. You can go around to see the museum, or the scenic beauties.

Red Dress Run (August)

HHH (Hash House Harriers) is the annual festival to fun and joy where people wear red dresses, drink, live music while running through the French Quarter and downtown New Orleans. Men and women both can participate in this race who are above 21 years of age. The main feature of this race is that proceeds will be given to the needy people.  People run for about 3 to 4 miles. The event starts at 9 where people assemble, register and start their dink. The actual game time starts by 12.30 pm with people wearing mostly red color dress and running.

NOH3, New Orleans Hash House Harriers, it is one of the organization which holds the run and proceeds of the run will be given to charitable trusts to help needy people. People will wear costumes, bear within limits as you have to run or try to run, people sing bawdy songs. It is a festival of fun and joy.

September – November

This time is the better than the summer season to visit. The temperatures will be between 75- 80. Also make a note that you can expect hurricanes. Especially August and September you will find hurricanes. Have an eye on the local weather when visiting New Orleans during this period. There are lot of cultural events taking place during this time and it is more enjoyable than summer

Louisiana Seafood Festival (September)

Louisiana Seafood Festival  is a three day event held during the fall. During this time chefs from biggest hotels come to show their talent of food. This festival also features cooking demonstration, local folk culture, arts and food from the renowned chefs. The taste of food resembles that of Mexican gulf. Many renowned seafood hotels Acme Oyster House, Arnaud’s, Pontchartrain Point Café and Café Giovanni etc,Come forward for this festivals. The main items during this festival are various sea food animals such as fish, crawfish, shrimp, crab, oysters etc.

There will be variety of dishes to please your palate. The festival also has booths that showcase local arts and crafts and also Souvenir baseball caps, wood works, textiles etc. There will be many musicians performing during this time. the celebrity chefs who have participated inthis event includes Duke LoCicero of Café Giovanni, Chris Lusk of Café Adelaide, Michelle McRaney of Mr. B’s Bistro to name a new. The profits of the festival goes to Louisiana Hospitality Foundation (LHF)

Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival (October)

This festival is organized by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation who are also the organizer of the annual the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

This festival is celebrated in Lafayette Square. There are two stages in the square such that the music of one stage doesn’t effect the music of the other stage. Many renownedmusicians have performed in this festival to name a few Barbara Lynn, Luther Kent, Don Vappie etc. The festival offers barbeque food with tinge of South. Again this festival is all about good food and music.

New Orleans Film Festival (October)

NOFF (New Orleans Film Festival) started in 1989 providing platform for film industry people from producers, director, actors, actress, writers to showcase their talent. Films are featured in various theatres including Canal place. Unlike other events this festival is not free of cost. This festival shows full length, short movies animations etc.

Voodoo Music Festival (October-November)

This festival started in 1999. This is a three day festival of music with long weekend of music, food and the local culture. The festival happens in City Park which has two main stages and a number of small stages. The festival also has a number of food counters; shops of local arts and crafts jewelers etc., will be available. You will have to buy tickets, tickets can be of single day or a long weekend or VIP. Many of the clubs offer late night music, where you can share a leg till morning.

Oak Street Po-Boy Festival (November)

It is a one day event of live music food and arts and po’ boy, a traditional sandwich from Louisiana.

Categories
Blog Guide India

8 Places to Visit in Hyderabad

Hyderabad, the very name brings in the flavor and taste of its signature biriyani, the world famous Nawadi cuisine. It is not to mention that this historical city of once the rulers of India has a historical value. This fast-growing city of Andhra Pradesh is emerging as one of the poshest areas to live in. Apart from being one of the most important centers for education and employment, Hyderabad also offers several beautiful places for tourist attraction.

If you haven’t been in Hyderabad ever, you must visit it as soon as possible, not just to experience the historical city but also to witness how Hyderabad has been bridging past and future, adapting and accepting what the present time demands.

The ideal time to visit the place is between Septembers to March. The weather then remains pleasant and soothing. Starting from the famous Hussain Sagar Lake to Ramoji Film City, to Chowmahalla Palace, Charminar, the place offers a series of tourists’ locations which will mesmerize every people from any age group.

Listed below are few such beautiful places that you need to visit once you are in Hyderabad to make your journey memorable.

1. Golkonda Fort

The Golkonda Fort is one of the most famous tourist attractions of Hyderabad. It is about a distance of about 9km from the city. Apart from being of the most sought historical place, there is a striking feature of the Golkonda Fort.  If you stand at a certain point near the dome entrance and clap your hand, it can clearly be heard at the hilltop marquee that lies at a distance of approximately a kilometer away from the dome. This feature was designed so that it could warn the people living inside the fort about the approaching danger in the older times. In the recent time, this has enhanced the oozing charm of the place for the tourists.

Golkonda Fort displays grandiose halls, magazines, stables, four beautiful drawbridges and accumulated cannons. Fateh Darwaza, the outermost part of the Fort, is also one of the most beautiful places to witness. The name, Fateh Darwaza means Victory gate in the literal sense. This place marks the striking engineering of the older times and glorifies the fort even more. The mines that are present here produce the most coveted and priceless gems like the Koo-i-Noor, Darya-i-noor, the Idol’s Eye and Hope Diamond.

Also, the light and sound show that takes place before the closing of the fort, in the evening increases the beauty of the place.

2. Chowmahalla Palace

During the reign of the Asaf Jahi, this beautiful palace was built in the years between 1875 and 1869. This mesmerizing monument had been the official residence of several Nizams of Hyderabad. The elaborate ceremonies, the hospitability of the guests and any big functions took place in the edifice of Chowmhalla Palace.

The palace is designed in such a way that the refection of the Nawabi culture is still very prominent from brick to brick.  Till the present day, the palace belongs to Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah, who is the legal heir of the Nizams. Recently, in the year 2010, the place has been beautified and decorated after the Asia Pacific Merit award with UNESCO.

The construction of the Chowmahalla Palace beholds a daunting sight too. The Chowmahalla Palace showcases a very tantalizing artwork of arches, domes, and windows which are scrupulously carved out designs. The complex structure is gracefully adorned with fountains, beautiful verdant gardens, numerous palaces, a clock tower, and the council hall.

Grand Khilwat, or the darbar hall of this palace is the most outstanding feature of this place. It has been like a fairytale to the people there that all the fine extravagant dinners used to take place in the courtyard and was the best thing to witness. Now, the place stands as a beautiful oxymoron holding onto the beautiful heritage with the modern beautification.

3. Snow world

Sounds unbelievable, isn’t? But, it is the only place in Hyderabad that snows throughout the year. Snow World is not only a tourist attraction but also the most visited place for the locals too. To lure you, even more, this information is a must. The Snow World is the world’s first and the biggest snow-themed park.

The best thing about the snow park is that the artificial snow is made out of mineral water. So, even if for a minute you consider the hygiene of the place, you will be enthralled. Every day, almost 3 tonnes of fresh snow is added in order to make the place forever attractive for tourists. So, you will experience the best snow in the least expected place. This makes it a must visit place in Hyderabad.

To build this magnificent and mammoth themed park, approximately 20 million INR was spent. This place has been designed by one of the best art designers in India, Mr. Nitish Roy. Nitish Roy is an Indian production designer, art director, and an architect. This park was inaugurated on 28 January in the year 2004 by Chandrababu Naidu. Everything inside the park is of snow.

There are ice-slides, snow-play grounds, Snow Mountains, sculptures and much more all that has been made of artificial snow. No matter what the temperature is outside this park, this park will provide you with a different snow zone. You will be provided with everything that would prevent you from catching a cold and experiencing the best of the snow park.  Also, you can enjoy the Icy Food delicacies as well.

4. Ramoji Film city

This is the most common and the most sought sight for tourist all over the year. This was set up by Ramoji Rao after whom the film city has been named in the year 1996. Amidst the happening city of Hyderabad, Ramoji Film City provides beautiful cinematic themes to the tourists and this is one of the major attractions in Hyderabad.

There are several things that you can feel, learn and witness inside the film city which has been certified by the Guinness World Record as the world’s largest Film Studio Complex. It is usually said that no director can leave the film city without directing a film here as the location is such. Also, the film city takes pride as they attract millions of tourists each year.

If you are a Bollywood buff and dream of having a Bollywood sets for real life, you can even experience it. You can visit a number of gardens along with a toy train ride and can even indulge in outdoor activities and adventures. There are smaller versions of eminent monuments of the country. You can walk through the gardens and the very sets of several well-known films like Bahubali. It is a great experience to be a part of the largest movie set.

5. Charminar

The most common place situated at the heart of the city is Charminar. During the reign of Quli Qutb Shah, this monument was erected after he decided to shift the capital from Golconda to Hyderabad.  The monument has four minarets, hence the name, Charminar. The places look beautiful in the night when it is illuminated. This place has the flavor and taste of the old Hyderabad city and so the life around Charminar is awe-striking.

The area around Charminar is well known for the colorful bangles, pearls and scrumptious dishes and jewelry. The true essence of Charminar is captured in four major things, the laid-back crowds, the appetizing biriyani, the crowded market and the world famous Irani Chai.

The glories days of the older era is prominently portrayed through this Charminar which was erected in the year 1591. The mammoth structure stands predominantly is believed to be the first four Khalifas of Islam. The monument is situated on the on the eastern bank of the river Musi amidst the tangled older city of Laad Bazaar. The Charminar is an example of extravagant artistic luminosity and is also considered to be one of the most beautiful structures in India.

Towards the northern side of Charminar, there are four gateways which are commonly called Char Kaman. This was constructed according to the fundamental directions. Initially, it was planned that the structure would serve as a Mosque which has the Indo-Islamic architecture. This is one of the most important structures of the older era portraying the Persian Architectural skills of the artisans.

6. Papi Kondalu

You can ditch Kashmir for this beautiful district of Khammam which provides you the Papi Kondalu mountain range. Often the place is termed as the Kashmir of Sound India and is one of the most sought tourist attraction of Hyderabad. The place offers you with lush greeneries, a crystal clear river where you can enjoy boat riding and kayaking and a beautiful view of skylines. The scenic beauty of the place is so mesmerizing that you will gape and ogle for hours without any tiredness.

Papi Kondalu provides you with a wide variety of natural vegetation which is spread across several districts of Andhra Pradesh and the Eastern Ghats. The wildlife sanctuary of Papi Kondalu is the home to several animals like the Panthers, tigers, hyenas, jackals, spotted deer and antelope and a wide range of birds.

7. Hussain Sagar Lake

Hussain Sagar Lake is the largest and the most renowned artificial lake in the entire Asian continent. Also,  Hussain Sagar Lake is one of the most admired tourist spots in Hyderabad. During the reign of Quli Qutub Shah, this lake was built under the supervision of Ibrahim in the year 1563. The place goes by the name of Tank Bund. Interestingly, there has been a sculpture of Buddha which was later added to the Hussain Sagar Lake which has added more beauty to the lake. The lake is adorned with a dam wall which is about 3km long and connects the twin cities, Secunderabad and Hyderabad.

You have the opportunity of indulging in several outdoor activities like water sports, fishing, kayaking, boat riding and much more. The monolithic Buddha statue at the center of the lake is awe-striking and looks glamorous beyond words. The statue was installed in 1993 and was inaugurated by Dalai Lama.

The outline of the lake looks like a studded diamond necklace while you stand at the Tank Bund will lure your eyes and make you love the place even more.  The road has also earned a name because of the beautiful view, Necklace Rod. UNWTO has also declared Hussain Sagar Lake as the Heart of the World as it has the unique heart-shaped structure.

8. Laad Bazaar

If you are a shopaholic and want to buy something that has the taste and smell of Hyderabad, you must visit once the oldest market of Hyderabad, Laad Bazar. The place is also famous by the name choodi bazar. There is a story why the place is known as laad bazaar, laad is the other name for lacquer which is used to make bangles. But not just bangles, this place is equally famous for its sarees, jewelry that is studded with precious stones of ruby and Panna.  This is a shopper’s paradise.

As the legend goes, the market depicts the very rich and varied history of the place. The market was originated by Ladi Begam who was the queen of then the Nawab of Hyderabad, Mir Mehboob Ali Khan. The legend says that the place was built for her so that she can roam freely without any problems. The road here is narrow, not all rickshaws are allowed to enter.

It is better that you stroll through the market so that you can enjoy and experience the better and original view of the market. The zari sarees, the Panna, and ruby studded ornaments and the colorful and luring bangles are all very attractive and you cannot resist them. So, you must visit this place to know the rich culture of Hyderabad.

So, if you are planning to visit Hyderabd, these places are a must for you. This tour guide to Hyderabad will help you enjoy the best of Hyderabad even if you visit for a short span.