Uncategorized

Are you a first time hiker??

Alright, so you’ve booked that big trip to hike Mount Kilimanjaro or maybe you’re thinking about doing the Camino… No matter what, everyone has there first big hike. Don’t stress, we’ve got a quick guide to help you pack and train for any new adventure.

1. SHOES
Start working those babies in! Depending on your hike/walk/trek, you’ll need a good solid pair of boots or trail runners and you SHOULD NEVER WEAR THEM FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THE STARTING DAY OF YOUR HIKE. If you meet someone on your trail who’s done this, you can thank us later. Also, always bring an extra pair, sandals or lite runners to give your feet a rest in.

2. BAG
If you’re travelling with all your own gear, a good bag that fits your back, straps in nicely and is easy to pack and remove is all you need. Try on as many as possible until you’ve found your match. Also, when trying on a bag, but some weight in it so it feels more realistic.

3. WATER
Will you take a water bottle or a camel pack? I prefer the camel pack, 2Litres is perfect, not that heavy and gives you easy access to water. Depending on your length of hike, you might not even need to fill it up more than once a day. But remember, only take tiny sips.

These are just for starters. Any questions on what to pack, just comment below. We’ve got a whole list of essentials coming soon to a blog near you 😉

Asia, Europe, South America, Travel Advice, Trekking

Traveling via Foot – Top 5 Treks that are so hot right now.

Ever thought about travelling via foot?
It’s eco friendly. It’s flexible and inexpensive. It’s great exercise. And you can literally stop and smell the roses when ever you’d like.

Here are our picks of our Top 5 Treks:

1. The Camino – Spain & Portugal
Whether you want to do the full 800km or just the last 100, the Camino has plenty of options and is great for first timers or long time trekkers.

2. Kumano Kodo Complete – Japan
Starting in The Kii Peninsula, south from Kyoto and Osaka, it is one of the most remote and mystical areas of Japan.

3. The Kerry Way – Ireland
The Kerry Way is a looped 9 day walking route starting and finishing in the tourist hub of Killarney. The walking route winds its way around the Iveragh Peninsula taking in some of the most dramatic scenery in Ireland.

4. Nordic Pilgrimage – Norway/Sweden
Vist the Nidaros Cathedral, the world’s northernmost gothic cathedral. Stay in a pilgrim’s cabin, close by to the ruins of a medieval monastery on this week long journey through the fjords or Scandinavia.

5. Patagonia Glaciers Eco-Trek
Spend 3 days being fascinated by the natural beauties near el Chalten on this Los Glaciares National Park Trek Adventure. Overnight at marvelous Eco Domes and make the most of your adventure as you’re guided through De los Tres Lagoon, Piedras Blancas Glacier Viewpoint, Madre e Hija & Torre Lagoons, among others.

Want to know more? Visit our website vtravelnetwork.com or contact your local travel agent today.

South America

8 Trails to take to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. And every year over a million people make the trip to see this amazing landmark.

But not everyone is taking the same path. Here are 8 ways you can reach Machu Picchu.

1. The Classic and Famous Inca Trail. 
The traditional 4-day Inca Trail Trek takes you along the original hand-built stone footpath leading you to Inti Punku (Sun Gate) and ultimately Machu Picchu. This is the most popular route and a permit is needed. Only 300 permits a day are allowed.

2. Salkantay Trek 5 Days / 4 Nights
This challenging and beautiful scenic trek takes you along a popular route in the pristine landscapes of the majestic Andes Mountains. (4-day trek also available)

3. Jungle Adventure 4 Days / 3 Nights
This is the perfect combination of an adrenaline pumping mountain biking descent and trekking in the Andes high jungle through local communities.
(Optional Rafting & Zipline)

4. Lares Trek 4 Days / 3 Nights
A uniquely alternative and cultural trek, the Lares allows you to immerse yourself in the Andean culture and peek into Inca villages at the base of snow capped mountains.

5. Inca Quarry Trek 3 Days / 2 Nights
Witness stunning waterfalls, breathtaking archaeological sites and intriguing Inca engineering marvels at the Cachicata quarry on this recently discovered route. (4-day trek also available).

6. Sacred Valley Trek 2 Days / 1 Night
Stay away from the crowds on this beautiful remote 2-day trek and enjoy awe-inspiring panoramic views of the Sacred Valley dotted with magnificent Inca archaeological sites.

7. Choquequirao Trek 8 Days / 7 Nights
Descend into the Apurimac canyon, climb back up to the fascinating ruins of Choquequirao and finish off at Machu Picchu on this invigorating 8-day trek.
(4-day trek also available)

8. Not interested in trekking? We don’t blame you. Just take the train!

1 or 2-day train excursion to Machu Picchu on the PeruRail are a relaxing and scenic option to Aguas Calientesand the famous Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu. While a one day visit is possible, we recommend staying overnight to enjoy the town and its pristine natural surroundings.

Want to check availability? Just send us a message with your dates or chat to your local travel agent today 

Travel Advice

5 Destinations for the Ultimate Road Trip

Head out on the highway. Looking for adventure? Here are 5 destinations to have the ultimate road tripÂ đŸŽïž

1. ICELAND
Maybe not in winter, but you can totally save some cash renting a car with mates and cruising around this adventure island.

2. CANADA
Again, maybe not in winter. But deciding to drive around Canada is easy. And it givens you more time to stop and smell the moose?

3. USA
If you’ve got the confidence to tackle some of the biggest freeways in the world, get behind the wheel.

4. IRELAND
It takes less than 4 hours to drive from the top to the bottom.

5. VIETNAM
Not quite ready to drive yourself? Hire a driver, or a motorcycle!

 

Travel Advice

Guide to Traveling Solo

Deciding to travel Han Solo is a big deal. You’re a rebel. Taking the Millennnium Falcon on a lonely road trip can be scary. Here’s a quick guide to traveling solo.

1. KNOW YOUR DESTINATION
Wherever you’ve decided to travel, learning any customs or traditions is so important. Even learning hello or goodbye in a new language could save the day.

2. FIRST DAY – NO DRAMA
Do you know how you’re getting from the airport to your hotel? Do you even know where you’re staying? Even if you want to wing the trip, make sure you’re prepared for your arrival. You’ll be tired, excited, nervous, hungry! So don’t fool yourself into thinking you can figure it out when you get there.

3. PUBLIC TRANSPORT IS GOOD
When you’re traveling solo, it’s usually cheaper to use public transport than taking a cab or renting a car, and it’s a great way to meet the locals.

4. TAKE A TOUR
Day tours or even week long adventures are great ways to avoid loneliness and boredom. The best thing: you always have something to talk about, because you’re having the same (hopefully great) experience.

5. JUST DO IT.
Seriously, traveling solo is thrilling and exciting because you’ll never know who you’ll meet or what will happen.

 

Travel Advice

Guide to Creating a Travel Budget

The only way to get serious about travelling is to get serious about your budget. Here’s a few tips to get started on your journey…

1. WHERE YOU GOING?
Get to know your destination. Your budget needs to be tailored for each trip you take. Accommodation and meal prices are going to be a lot different from New York City to island life in Thailand.

2. WHAT’S THE EXCHANGE RATE?
The currency exchange rate could be the difference between staying in a hostel and staying in a 5 star hotel. So make sure you do your research.

3. HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO SPEND?
Set yourself a daily allowance and then add $20. We always spend more than we want but it’s worth over estimating that amount.

4. WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
Stuff happens. You miss your flight, your bag gets lost, or your hostel loses your booking. Travel insurance is always recommended but having an emergency fund included in your budget can make a big difference. AND if you don’t need to use it, you can stock up at the duty free on the way home😉

 

Travel Advice

5 Important Things To Do Before You Travel for the First Time

You’ve booked! You’re excited. You’ve posted about it on Instagram. But first, before you go, there’s a few things to achieve before the fun begins. Trust us, this will lighten the load before you’ve even started to pack. These are our tips on Important Things to do Before you Travel for the First Time.
1. Make Copies of Important Documents
Whether you want to save paper or travel with a binder. Take screen shots of your travel docs and passport. Get photocopies and leave them with friends or family. 


2. Call Your Bank
You don’t want to get denied trying to pay for that Michelin Star dinner in Paris because you forgot to activate your credit card. Or more importantly you can’t book a train or accommodation.


3. Tell Australia You’re Travelling
Alright, that’s a little intense. But seriously, Smart Traveller is a website designed to register where you’ll be travelling in case, well, there’s a national emergency.


4. Clean Your Room
Not to sound like your mother, but you’ll thank us when you come home after backpacking across South America to a nice clean, fresh house. 


5. Make A Check List
This will help you be more organised than you’ve ever been. Even if you’re not a list person, we’ve started it for you.

What would be on your checklist? Let us know. We’d love to hear from you. 

Asia, Central America, Europe, Middle East, South East Asia, Uncategorized

May the Fourth

MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU!

It’s that wonderful day of the year where (us) sci-fi nerds from around the globe (and through the decades now as well!) get to celebrate the infamous May the Fourth! For those who are unaware, which would be scarce these days, “May the force be with you” is a famous line from a famous movie made by a famous director just over 40 years old, the Star Wars saga. Bit of a contentious issue with the Disney Corporation taking over the franchise a few years ago these beloved films have had some extremely exotic locations used to film some of the gorgeous scenery used in the movie.

To celebrate May the Fourth! in style we thought we would take a look back at some of the extraordinary places used for the iconic films, some of the ones that we have visited personally and some of the lesser known locations that are DEFINITELY worth a visit (or five).

Tikal, Guatemala

Going back to the very beginning, the star Maya ruins within Guatemala was used for the very first film and while all of the Mayan sites in Central America have their own individual unique selling points, Tikal was the capital of a civilisation plus a hub location for culture and commerce due to its locale within Guatemala. The Tikal National Park covers over 500 square kilometres and includes thousands of buildings buried under thick jungle, the main complex is made up of 4 main temples that rise steeply up to 44 meters high. To view the famous shot just climb Tikal IV (the only monument you can climb) to get a view of the other 3 temples- instantly recognisable if you’re a fan.

If you want to go spend time at this amazing ruin we’d suggest the Tikal & Semuc Champey Experience 6D/5N with Bamba Experience from AUD540 per person.

Phang Nga, Thailand

Probably best known for the James Bond Island (Koh Ping-gan), Phang Nga is the coastal province on the Western coast of Thailand, bordered by the Andaman Sea and a must-see for those who are visiting the country. Although the cameo appearance is small in the movies it is the background for the homeland of one of the most beloved characters- Chewbacca- and who needs more of an excuse to cruise around the beautiful Thai Isles. Just be aware that the monsoon season hits from mid-October to mid-April so a lot of establishments will shut for the wet period.

How about exploring the area on a Thai Islands Explorer 10D/9N, from AUD1230 per person

Reynisfjara, Iceland

Also known as Black Sand Beach, just south of the city of Vik on the very bottom of the island of Iceland, this area is well known to tourists for not only it’s black pebbled shore but also the striking basalt sea stacks against the cliff (similar to the Giants Causeway in Ireland). In typical Icelandic fashion the area is full of tales and wonder, keep an eye out for the trolls in the water turned to stone by the sun and for the fans this is location of the planet of Eadu used in the most recent Rogue One movie. As Iceland is now more and more accessible to the public we’d recommend heading there sooner rather then later to experience this unspoilt natural beauty.

To visit the trolls down South how about a short trip like the Iceland South Coast Adventure 2D/1N for AUD1105 per person

Guilin, China 

Considered the pearl of China, Guilin is a small prefecture in Southern China, tons of amazing things to see in the region makes its a top place for tourists to visit. Used to fill out Chewie’s home planet, there are lots to keep the wookies occupied here, plus the region is part of 72-hour visa free program- if you’re transiting through China and need somewhere to spend a few days then this may be the ultimate dream location. Amidst karst limestone landscapes, ethnic mountain villages and sprawling terraced rice fields, “East or west, Guilin scenery is the best” truly epitomises this picture perfect postcard location.

For those who want the full China experience how about trying the 8 Day Backpacking tour of China, Hong Kong to Chendgu from AUD759 per person.

Wadi Rum, Jordan

All the way to the very end of the Star Wars saga, the infamous desert of Wadi Rum has been used as the background of lots of famous movies but has also been used in the recent Rogue One movie. Wadi Rum, also known as Valley of the Moon, is a dramatic desert landscape full of twisting rock formations and spectacular sandstone mountains also occupied with wild Bedouin tribes and their camels. A highlight of any tour in Jordan includes spending a night in Bedouin camp watching the stars wheeling overhead in the midst of this extraordinary landscape.

bambaexperience

To get the full experience of the region how about trying the Jordan Highlights Discovery 7D/6N from AUD1085 per person

Ask us about any of the above tours for up to date prices and availability.

 

South America

Happy Like a Little Kid – Travels in South America – Machu Picchu

It was around the time I turned 39 that I thought “Bugger it. I’m going to have my midlife crisis on another continent. I think I’ll trek Machu Picchu for my 40th.”

I chose the Salkantay trail, and we started our 5 day / 4 night trip from Cuzco on the day I turned 40. Bamba offers around a dozen or so options to get to Machu Picchu, all via Cuzco. For the most part, Bamba Experience operate their own trips here, seeing an opportunity to provide better value and quality options than existed previously.

Treks range from one day up to ten or more days if you string a couple of the routes together, and for those that prefer to take it easy, there are also several options by train. The Inca Trail is easily the most famous, but I chose the Salkantay for the extra stunning mountain scenery. And the fact I didn’t want to share the Inca Trail with 499 other people – there was a total of 35 people on the Salkantay when I trekked, including 8 support staff. Our group had five trekkers, a superb guide, Frankie, two miracle working chefs, and a horseman to carry the bulk of our gear.

Day One

A very early start took us out of the city in a van, before stopping for breakfast in a small village, and a last chance to buy supplies. A little further on we met our horses and the start of the trail proper. “Any chance of seeing Condors Frankie?” I asked as we unloaded our gear. “Maybe, but it’s quite late in the season, you’d have to be lucky.”

“Um… is that one there?”

“Wow. Yes. Can you ask for beautiful women next? That was a good trick.”

So it was a good start – sunshine, and birds to look at. Cuzco is at over 3400m, and Machu Picchu only around 2400m. But to get there, we had to cross the Salkantay pass at over 4600m. In the rainy season. The first day was relatively gentle uphill, great scenery, a little sprinkle of rain, and at our campsite by early afternoon.

All the other operators or tour companies had lumped their clients into one big group of 22, with the same amount of support staff that we had for our group of five. On paper I guess the itineraries looked about the same, but as each day passed the larger group was more and more envious of our experience. Not that theirs was bad – just little details on our trip made it better. Frankie was amazing, talking and encouraging us the whole time. He made sure we got to know our other staff by ceaselessly translating for us. They dined with us, pointed out things we wouldn’t have noticed ourselves, and worked their arses off making us as comfortable as possible.

The afternoon was a rest and acclimatisation period before Day Two. (26 kilometres, 6am start, more than 2000 metres of altitude gained by lunch, 4600m pass to get up and over).

In our group we had German Nick, who was 19 and a serious, but really nice kid. Then we had Edward, a tall ginger English Engineer / farmer, and a Swedish couple Abdi and Yazemin. Abdi was originally from Somalia, and Yazemin was from Turkey, and they had recently married in Sweden. Abdi makes films, and had a kick ass drone that he used to take seriously good footage during the hike. Also, an all round top bloke.

Campsite on day one, Mt Salkantay looming.

 

The two of us decided to hike up a side valley during our rest afternoon, to a glacial lake that was about 500m higher in altitude, so close to 3000m. There was a storm threatening but we took our chances, as did a number of the other group. And this was our reward.

 

 

 

I decided to get down to my boxers and swim, which lasted about 1.8 seconds. I was feeling pretty accomplished until a blond Swedish guy with an eight pack of abs did the same, but swam around leisurely as if it was a heated pool and not a lake fed by the glacier about 50 metres above it. He didn’t get bumped off a cliff, but I feel like he deserved to.

Best birthday cake ever (sorry Mum)

I had accidentally let slip, repeatedly, and to anyone within earshot, that it was my birthday. We were already on a hike in the Andes though, but somehow our wonder chefs whipped up a damn tasty cake. Plus a hearty soup as an entrée, meatballs and pasta as a main, a salad, and some fruit.

We watched the glaciers turn orange in the sunset, and headed to bed to ride out a night that dropped to minus ten degrees Celsius. Comfy enough with the rented sleeping bag, and our tents were pitched for us under the thatched shelters shown above. There was at least a western style toilet at every campsite, so we weren’t roughing it by any stretch, but the attitude and cold were definitely noticeable!

Day Two

Not gonna lie, this is a tough day. You NEED good footwear including proper socks, ideally a bit of fitness, and layers of proper outdoor clothing. We were woken with hot coco tea, and while we had a cooked breakfast the crew packed up our tents and gear, and wrapped them against the elements for their journey on our horses.  By noon we had all reached the pass, at our own pace. Yazemin was struggling but showed inspiring stubbornness to get through the entire trek, especially with a soft tissue injury to her knee that she picked up. You’re sweating heavily on the walk up, even though it drizzled most of the time and was pretty cold.

There is  horse rental available for the climb, but happy to report we all declined it and had immense satisfaction reaching the pass. We also had a little swig each of Johnny Black Whiskey that someone had thoughtfully packed, including a small offering to Pachamama, (Earth Mother / the mountain) and then got the hell down the other side, as it had started to snow.

This guy was at our campsite on day two 🙂

It’s all downhill from here

 

By late afternoon we had descended down to below 2000m, and the air was warm. Lunch was in a freezing (but dry) hut, and we were all soaked to the bone, starving and absolutely stoked.  Hot soup and solids never tasted so good, and we all drunk a couple of coco teas to help with warmth and altitude. The constant rain meant the path was basically a stream for the whole afternoon, but the scenery evolved beautifully from alpine to grasslands, forest then almost a jungle like canopy.

Our campsite again had a little shop, and we pitched our tents on the second floor of a basic structure giving us the chance to dry some wet gear. A beer or two and another three course dinner (turkey drumstick casserole) and we all slept VERY well.

Days Three and Four

Mostly fairly gentle up or down hill, walking on a combination of dirt roads and paths. Evening of day three was a small village, camping in an enclosed property, and an optional visit to local hot springs. Optional. As if anyone was going to say, ‘Na, I might just sit here and ignore the chance to soak muscles and have a shower.’ It was great until the local kids turned up and were noisy, boisterous and childish.

Then we went back to have dinner, a bonfire, and discovered ‘Inca Tequila’, and proceeded to be noisy, boisterous and childish. Andrew fell asleep OUTSIDE his tent. It was fairly warm. Bugs like warm too. This is Andrew. Don’t sleep like Andrew.

Morning of day four, we blew away the cobwebs by ziplining. The longest was 900m, and highest was 600m above the canyon floor. A van transferred us to lunch at the tiny town – a few restaurants and a parking lot really – of Hydroelectrica, where we had lunch, and then walked along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu.

We had farewelled our support crew, and just had Frankie for the last 24 hours or so. The lunch was fine, but by the high standards our chefs had set, we were slumming it 🙂 This guy didn’t mind though, and I may have taken a bullocking from the restaurant for letting him eat my leftovers…..

 

 

 

Day Five – Machu Picchu

You will not be disappointed. No, you’re not going to have the site to yourself, but get up early enough to catch opening time and you can easily get pictures like these.

 

 

 

 

 

We took a shuttle bus to the entry, and Frankie showed us the main sights and gave us a good rundown on the little that is known bout the ruins. Then he left us to explore at our own leisure. We had a return shuttle back to Aguas Calientes, where the train leaves from, and a late afternoon train booked back to Cuzco. We wandered around for as long as each of us desired, then made our way back to town for lunch and to board the train.

One thing Frankie told me that day is burned into my memory.

“Machu Picchu means Old Mountain. It is sacred to us. It is pronounced ‘Ma-chew Pick-chew’. When you say ‘Ma-chew Pee-chew’ it means ‘Old Dick’. I’m not sure what you came to Peru for, but I’m hoping it was the mountains.”

Africa, Central America, North Americas, South America

Celebrating International Women’s Day! Top 5 destinations for the independent female.

International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world on March 8th and we’re looking to empower women across the globe. 

Women around the world play an extremely significant role in the travel and tourism industry. Today is International Women’s Day and we are celebrating by highlighting, what we think, are some of the best areas to visit as a female adventure traveller.

Cuba

This exotic Caribbean isle is perfect for all types of travellers due to its amazing diversity. For those who want to relax on the beach with a cocktail in their hands (best mojitos in the world come from Cuba), to those adventurous types who want to explore the national parks all over the country to those who just want to wander through the scenic cobblestone city streets, Cuba is one of the most unique destinations to visit. Full of rum, cigars, music and old cars,  Cuba can satisfy all of your needs

Let Bamba whisk you away for the trip of a lifetime:

CUBA HIGHLIGHTS EXPRESS ADVENTURE 8D/7N
Price per person: AUD1430
Minimum number of passengers: 1

Morocco

Ah Morocco, full of Arabian dreams, spiced coffee and majestic scenery. Picking up popularity for visitors due to it’s picture perfect Instagram locations this intoxicating country includes vibrant mosaic’d marketplaces, dramatic camel rides into the never-ending red deserts, charming beach towns and flavourful, perfectly spiced cuisine. Trek through the mountains or spend a night under the stars in a traditional camp, no matter what adventure you’re looking for Morocco will surely provide an experience never forgotten.


Explore this exotic destination with Bamba:

MOROCCO EXPLORER 8D/7N
Price per person: AUD970
Minimum number of passengers: 1

Peru

The most popular country to visit in South America, Peru has a mix of deserts, beaches, jungles, mountains and the ever popular ruins (like the famous Machu Picchu). It’s a destination bucket list for a lot of people and with good reason. Plenty to see and do across the country, from walking the traditional Inca trek, to soaring over the majestic Nazca Lines to sea kayaking off the coast. Just one note beware of the llamas, they like to photo bomb!

Take on one of the toughest treks around:

INCA TRAIL TREK TO MACHU PICCHU 4D/3N
Price per person: AUD980
Minimum number of passengers: 1

Canada

If you are unable (or unwilling) to spend the money on the traditional train journey in Western Canada there are tons of alternatives available for the single female traveller who wants to see the breathtaking sights that is Canada. Best time of year to visit is the Summer due to the long days and temperate weather plus there are tons of outside adventure activities to enjoy. Watch whales breach, kayak through clear blue lakes, hike through awe-inspiring scenery, enjoy maple taffy, let Canada fulfill all your adventure dreams.

Let Moose Travel help you enjoy the best of Canada:

CARIBOU
Base price per person: AUD873
Minimum number of passengers: 1

Mexico

With some of the most famous Maya archaeological sites (Chitchen Itza), some of the best food in Central America (pollo con mole for the win!) and natural wonders around every corner Mexico is a traveller’s dream. With just a basic smattering of Spanish you can explore the country to your hearts content, tasting and exploring across this diverse Latin America country, from the infamous Tijuana to the colonial Mexico City to the laid back Mayan riviera. Come and fall in love with Mexico!

Let Bamba entice your taste buds:

INCREDIBLE MEXICO ADVENTURE 15D/14N
Price per person: AUD1300
Minimum number of passengers: 1

Ask us about any of the above tours for up to date prices and availability.