Nestled between two hills on the border of Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area in Tanzania, Rhotia Valley Tented Camp is a special place whose mission does not end with being one of the most warm, welcoming and beautiful lodges in the country. On its website’s guestbook page, messages in four different languages sing its praises. It boasts a coveted five stars on its TripAdvisor profile with one reviewer mentioning the words “Heaven on Earth.” And even if you completely forget its special purpose, it is still one of the best safari lodges in the world.
In addition to being a world-class basecamp, the property is also home to thirty six children - mostly orphans - from around the Rhotia Valley (thirty six as of October, 2012). Profits generated from the Tented Lodge directly support the Rhotia Valley Children’s Home, bringing the local community together under a common goal of creating a better future for local children, as well as employing many residents of the village.
In our “24 Hours In” series, we would like to give travelers a good idea of what there is to do in a certain city if one has 24 hours to spend there. The destinations we’ll be covering include cities that are often traveled through, but not in. These cities often act as international flight hubs, and layovers can extend from hours to a full day at times. So if you’re in a city on your way to or from your destination, following are some of our favorite things to do there!
Lima is many things to many people. Peru’s capital, the country’s largest, most dense urban area, and its main hub for international flights. If you’re thinking of hiking the Inca Trail, exploring the Peruvian Amazon, or taking a flight over the Nazca Lines, you absolutely will spend time in and around Lima’s international airport. (That is, until Peru opens its new international airport near Cusco.) The most likely place you will spend this time, especially if you arrive in the city on a late flight, is the Ramada hotel directly adjacent to the airport.
There are probably two things that keep many travelers from exploring further into Lima during their time here. One is the 45 minutes it takes to reach the city driving from the airport, the other is that the city is not all that visually appealing on first sight, (which is usually from a plane approaching the airport over the city’s less wealthy district.) Trust us though, Lima can be a trip highlight, alongside Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.
Varied cultures come together here, from Inca, to Spanish, to American and uniquely Peruvian, to create what Lonely Planet calls a “cultural phantasmagoria.” To the modern traveler, it almost seems like someone forgot to ask Peru to cleanly separate these cultures into defined eras, the result being a chaotic mixture that manages to sound, taste and feel uniquely Peruvian. Catholic processions are observed by people drinking the ubiquitous Inca Cola, world-class gourmet eateries do business in 17th century colonial buildings. In the past half century, Peru has experienced a mass migration of people from the mountainous countryside to the urban sprawl seeking opportunity, creating a density of people that cities in every developing country struggle to adapt to. The result of this influx, unfortunately, is mass poverty in most of the city. Lima’s historic district, as well as its touristic Miraflores district and residential San Isidro district, are unique for their upscale shopping and dining as well as wide, beautiful boulevards and clean parks.
Do you love beer? So do we. And surprisingly, beer is one of the many reasons we absolutely love traveling to Japan. Beer is big in Japan, and following is a quick introduction to some of our favorite craft breweries on the islands.
Earlier this month, Peruvian president Ollanta Humala announced plans for Peru to open a new airport with closer access to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. This $US 460 million dollar project, reported on by BBC News, aims to drastically improve international access to Peru’s most visited tourist attraction as well as create more jobs for the surrounding community. The closest airport in Cusco is generally too small to accommodate large planes or a high volume of daily flights, and the planned airport in Chinchero, a town about 20 minutes outside of Cusco, aims to improve on these limitations. The project’s first step will be to begin expropriating large lots of land around Chinchero.
On your custom Kenya safari, you are spying one of 700 eastern black rhinos left in the wild, an elephant is not too far off, and a small herd of mooing cattle wanders into your field of vision as you snap the perfect photo of a grazing zebra. There is one place in Kenya where the cows are not out of place, and in fact are welcomed into the environment. This week we’d like to feature a basecamp in Kenya we all get very excited about, Ol Pejeta. Though it is more of a wildlife conservancy, Ol Pejeta is home to a number of lodges and camps, all run by the non-profit organization.
Ol Pejeta encompasses multiple wildlife sanctuaries within its borders. The largest groups of black rhinos and chimpanzees in Kenya live here, as well as the largest herd of Boran cattle in the world. Overall, the park displays a model for wildlife conservation that is effective and inspirational.