Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bringing the Kids to Costa Rica

Children to Costa Rica

Our family returned from another incredible vacation week. If you're planning a family adventure Costa Rica can be forgotten as a destination location. We love the country and bringing the children makes it that much more enjoyable.

Costa Rica is relatively inexpensive, especially if compared to Hawaii or Cabo, its 'centrally' located so flights from anywhere in the US are less than six hours, you're on the beach less than 2 hours after landing in San Jose, and its an incredible country to bring kids of all ages.

We primarily stay in or near the town of Playa Hermosa, 5 minutes south of the more popular town of Jaco, is where we often stay. All the condo's are virtually on the water and your close enough to be near all that Jaco offers without the relative crowds.

There are plenty of great family tours all located within an hour drive or less from Playa Hermosa. We will detail each tour in coming blogs but as an overview your group can experience large crocodiles being fed a few feet from your boat, an amazing butterfly tour that excites kids of all ages, the world-famous ZipLine (aka Canopy Tour) that sends you hundreds of feet across and above the jungle, and the amazing Manual Antonio national park where you come up close and personal on your short hike to white sand beaches with sloths, monkeys, iguanas and more.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cuba - A Birdwatcher's Paradise

Cuba has so many beautiful birds, many of them unavailable to see in their natural habitat anywhere else in the world. The Cuban government has made concerted efforts over the years to preserve wildlife habitats, even before the current environmental movement made it politically popular. Because of those efforts, Cuba has preserved much of its wildlife in the unspoiled, natural beauty in which it thrives.

One of the more colorful birds you will see on your visit is the Cuban Grassquit, a tanager that is related to Darwin's finches. These birds live in lowland forests and tropical or subtropical dry shrubland. You may not have to travel far to see one as they are very common in Cuba. They are hostile toward other birds of the same species or who share the same colors of plumage. Male Grassquits are easily recognizable by their black mask, the black patch on their breast and a yellow-orange collar that extends to just behind their eyes. Their crowns and bellies are gray, creating a pleasing contrast. The females are basically a faded version of the male. Although not a threatened species their numbers have been decimated by trappers who sell them as caged birds. They are marketed as the "Cuban Finch" and are quite popular all over the world.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

To Conquer Mount Kinabalu

I have wanted to climb Mount Kinabalu in Sabah. Finally the opportunity arose and I boarded a flight to Kota Kinabalu with my other friends and an equal measure of excitement and trepidation. As ever, the flight was comfortable and timely, delivering us to Kota Kinabalu early in the afternoon with plenty of time to make the two-hour drive up to the Kinabalu Park headquarters. As we approached, in heavy rain, to Malaysia's first UNESCO World Heritage Site, I got my first glimpse of the great mountain, with the grey rocks of the summit rising majestically from the lush green forest below, teasing us from behind the clouds. We spent the night in the park and awoke the next morning to a brilliant blue sky filled with sunshine. Weather like that never fails to lighten my step, no matter how many I needed to take.
My group set off from Timpohon Gate at 8.00 a.m. The fresh air and cool temperature were a joy. I found the trail well maintained, and the combination of markers at every 500 metres and regularly spaced rest huts meant that I always knew how much progress I was making. It was a six kilometre trek to the Laban Rata resthouse, where we spent half the night before making the final push for the summit. The last leg - about 1.4 km - didn't sound far but was, in fact, quite a challenge! Whilst there was plenty to look at - the occasional, breathtaking views across the lowlands, the forest, fellow climbers and, porters passing with gas canisters, cases of canned drinks and trays of eggs strapped to their backs - the trail did become a slog and the air got noticeably thinner.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

If You Could Afford to Stay Anywhere in Cancun, Consider These Options

To say that Cancun would be a vacation of a lifetime can be a bit deceiving, because chances are that you will repeat and keep coming back several times. The Mexican beaches in the area are amongst the best in the world, and all the additional activities you could do make it a very unique destination. That said, you could make your Cancun trip a lot better (yes it is possible) if you decided to splurge a bit and go for one of the following top resorts in the Riviera Maya.

Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach

There are many things which make the Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Resort one of the top places to stay in Cancun and anywhere in the world for that matter. Everything about this place is designed to be luxurious and spectacular. The view from the room was as good as the room inside. Every room has an ocean view which is something everyone wants on a beach vacation. The Resort is perfect for business conventions and families alike. If you like golf then you will enjoy the complimentary green fees at the championship golf course nearby. Some of the activities you will be able to enjoy besides the beach include scuba diving, golf, tennis, theatres and museums, fine dining, fitness center, spa, and child programs.