Category Archives: South America

Reading List: Peru

WIT (9).png

It’s time for a reading list! We haven’t had one of those in a while, but let’s take a look this week at Books to Read before you travel to Peru!

Macchi Picchu has been a popular destination for decades, attracting some of the top tour operators and adventure enthusiasts, like G Adventures and more. Read more about operators who travel in Peru:

The 7 Best Countries for History Buffs

Day Trips from Lima, Peru

Peru Feature: Machu Picchu

Peru Feature: The Mountain City of Cuzco

TOP 6 BOOKS TO READ BEFORE YOU SCALE MACHU PICCHU

Lost City of the Incas, The Story of Machu Picchu and its Builders, by Hiram Bingham. 

This classic account is a gripping story of exploration, archaeology and natural history — and still an outstanding overview of the site itself. With original expedition photographs. Originally published in 1952, the book is still an excellent account, not only of the expedition but also of the site itself.

41JP72RDX2L._SX293_BO1,204,203,200_

Death in the Andes, by Mario Vargas Llosa. 

The first man of the Peruvian literature, Mario Vargas Llosa wrote dozens of stories set in Peru. In his novels, he comments on the difficult Peruvian reality, complicated history and the country’s quirks. Death in the Andes is a gripping page-turner that brings the readers back to the times the 1980s. 

The Heights of Macchu Picchu, by Pablo Neruda. 

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda composed this long-form poem after visiting the famous Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. With complex, evocative imagery and a strong sense of spirituality throughout, this is one of Neruda’s best and most well-known poems.

The Incas, People of the Sun, by Carmen Bernard.

This jewel of a book features hundreds of archival drawings and photographs, a chronology and long excerpts from the journals of early explorers. It’s a guide to the ancient monuments, daily life of the Incas, and history of exploration.

91jSL0X4gjL

Turn Right at Machu Picchu, by Mark Adams. 

You can’t find any list on Peru-related reading without several stories about Machu Picchu and the Inca heritage. Turn Right at Machu Picchu is one of the more popular books. Mark Adams did a remarkable job, first researching thoroughly the Inca history, and then tracing the steps of Hiram Bingham, the legendary discoverer of Machu Picchu.

Trail of Feathers: In Search of the Birdmen of Peru, by Tahir Shah. 

Obsessed with a Spanish monk’s report of Incas who could “fly like birds,” Tahir Shah set out on a journey across Peru in search of these titular “birdmen.” The result of his quest is this wonderfully weird travelogue, tracing his journey through jungle, mountain and desert. This book is perfect for travelers with an appreciation for mysticism and the surreal.

Leave a comment

Filed under Peru, Reading List Series, Reading Lists, South America

Travel News: Egyptian Mummies, King Tut, & Venice’s New Tourist Tax

WIT (5).png

Egypt Unveils Ancient Burial Site, Home To 50 Mummies 

Reuters UK reports Egyptian archaeologists uncovered a tomb containing 50 mummies dating back to the Ptolemaic era, in Minya, south of Cairo, the Ministry of Antiquities said on Saturday. The mummies, 12 of which were of children, were discovered inside four, nine-meter deep burial chambers in the Tuna El-Gebel archaeological site. The identities of the mummies were still unknown, said Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. “We have not found names written in hieroglyphics,” he said, adding it was obvious from the mummification method that the individuals whose remains were found had to some extent held important or prestigious positions. Visitors, including ambassadors from several countries, gathered at the discovery site where 40 of the mummies were exhibited during the announcement ceremony. Some of the mummies were found wrapped in linen while others were placed in stone coffins or wooden sarcophagi. The archaeological finding was the first of 2019 and was unearthed through a joint mission with the Research Centre for Archaeological Studies of Minya University.

Premium Bus Lines Emerge, Challenging Airlines 

Forbes reports the bus is back. The amenities that have vanished from airlines in recent years, swift departures, comfortable seats, fine dining’ are appearing on premium bus lines sprouting across the US, some staffed by attendants and equipped with leather chairs, wide video screens and tables for work or dining. The bus lines are competing with airlines in important corridors like D.C. to New York and Los Angeles to San Francisco. The largest carrier, Vonlane in Texas, refers to its service as “a private jet on wheels.” Premium buses may also draw riders from Amtrak, but airlines stand to lose the most, according to Joseph Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. “Let’s face it, most frequent flyers, even those flying business class, have grown weary of spending time in airports,” Schwieterman said. “Being able to step out of an Uber or cab and immediately climb aboard a custom-designed motor coach can feel like a godsend, even if the trip takes longer.” The Chaddick Institute has released a 2019 outlook report on the intercity bus industry, highlighting premium bus services as a prominent development. There are now 17 premium bus operators in the US. Four launched in 2018, and the report predicts more in the future. “These services are attracting new demographic and socioeconomic segments to motor-coach travel, including travelers otherwise likely to fly,” the report states.

tutankhamun-509752_640

King Tut Revealed: Iconic Tomb Reopens After Decade Of Restorations

Travelwirenews reports visitors have poured to the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in Egypt after conservationists completed decade-long renovations, cleaning up the dust-covered walls of the burial and erecting a viewing platform. The mummified body of the 18th Dynasty pharaoh, wrapped in fresh linen sheets, has been put on full display in the special oxygen-free glass case. Photos of the face and feet of the pharaoh, who ascended to the throne at the tender age of nine or ten and reigned for only nine years, have been released following a thorough clean-up and restoration works at what has become one the world’s most renowned tourist attraction sites. Although the centuries that passed since the pharaoh’s death did their work on the mummy, his face has been almost fully preserved and none of the toes are missing. The 3,000-year-old tomb, discovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter almost a century ago in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, has become the symbol of the ancient kingdom, luring crowds of tourists from all over the world. The incessant flow of visitors took a heavy toll on the burial chamber, changing its inner atmosphere and endangering the artifacts. Apart from physical damage such as scratches from filming equipment and lost items, it has suffered from dust, humidity and carbon dioxide. Conservationists have cleaned up the murals depicting the scenes from the pharaoh’s life and fitted an air filtration and ventilation system into the tomb. The work by Getty Conservation Institute and Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities started in 2009 and was underway for 10 years, save from a brief halt due to the political unrest in 2011. During the restoration, the conservationists paid special attention to mysterious brown spots on the walls of tomb feared to be toxic mold potentially dangerous to humans. However, the scientists determined that while the spots were of microbiological origin, the bacteria, whatever it was, have long since died and present no danger.

American And United Boost Onboard Entertainment Options

American Airlines announced that travelers can now stream Apple Music at no charge. United announced that it is eliminating charges for DIRECTV, a live TV service available on more than 200 Boeing 737 aircraft. Previously, the airline charged $5.99 to access live TV on flights shorter than two hours, and $7.99 on longer flights. Competitors American, JetBlue, Southwest and Delta already offer live TV on flights for no charge. On American flights, travelers who subscribe to Apple Music will now be able to stream more than 50 million songs onboard at no charge, Digital Journal reports. American is the first airline to offer free streaming of Apple Music. Airline officials said the new service, like the airline’s investment in high-speed wifi and live TV, is part of an effort to give travelers more entertainment and productivity options.

ushuaia-2563042_640

Ushuaia Makes Room For More Cruise Ships

Ushuaia, at the southern tip of Patagonia, has gained more docking space for small and medium-size ships as Argentina acts to accommodate the growth of Antarctica expeditions and cruises around South America. Seatrade reports the removal of an idle floating drydock opened more berthing space for cruise ships. This was possible thanks to the removal of an Argentine navy floating drydock that sat unused for approximately 20 years. The governor of Tierra del Fuego requested the change, which required the involvement of several areas of the national government. The Ministry of Transport entrusted the project to Gonzalo Mórtola, comptroller of the General Ports Administration. Mórtola collaborated with the navy and the prefecture to obtain authorization and move forward with landside improvements financed by the Provincial Directorate of Ports of Tierra del Fuego. Once repaired, the dock will be used by the navy to service boats that patrol and protect southern Argentina. Thanks to the investments in infrastructure and the low rates implemented by the national government to boost the cruise industry in the region, this season Ushuaia is receiving 36 cruise calls, many of them maiden visits, and a 16% increase in cruise passengers from last year. In addition, the large ships Celebrity Eclipse and Royal Princess were able to dock without problems thanks to the dredging carried out by the province with the collaboration of the Port Buenos Aires. Also, fuel costs were decreased, leading to more bunkering in Argentine ports instead of in Chile. ‘It is important to continue moving forward with the necessary infrastructure works so that more and more cruise ships visit us,’ Mórtola said. ‘This promotes tourism, generates work and allows more and more people to know the attractions of our country.’

Dangerous Air Quality In Bangkok

Travelwirenews reports Bangkok is the world’s most-visited city and relies on tourism for economic growth. The travel and tourism industry in Thailand is concerned, and some visitors are canceling trips or leaving the City of Angeles early. The reason is haze and poor air quality. The Air Quality in Delhi, India is a dangerous 342, while Bangkok is in a state of panic over an unhealthy 170 reading. For Indians, it’s a routine situation, for visitors and locals in Bangkok it means a run on an air purifier, that is now often out of stock. Bangkok is the world’s most-visited city and relies on tourism for economic growth. The travel and tourism industry in Thailand is concerned, and some visitors are canceling trips or leaving the City of Angeles early. The reason is haze and poor air quality. Residents fear a long battle lies ahead to keep the toxic smog at bay, signaling growing opportunities for purifier makers such as Sharp or mask manufacturer 3M in the city of roughly 10 million people. More than 2 million people are tracking Bangkok on the IQAir AirVisual app, compared with about 80,000 for the Indian capital. A rattled Thai military government is stepping up oversight of the worst polluters, such as factories. Weather patterns, vehicle fumes, construction dust and the burning of both trash and crops have also been blamed for the haze. While some businesses may benefit from demand for products that fight smog, the metropolis as a whole is at risk of being the big loser, because of tourism.

venice-3183168_640

Venice Tourist Tax To Be Introduced In May

The Telegraph reports a tourist tax that Venice will introduce in May has been criticized by the country’s tourism minister as “useless and damaging”. Plans to charge tourists €3 (£2.60) from May 1, with the amount rising to a maximum of €10 within three years, were announced on Monday by Luigi Brugnaro, the mayor of Venice.  “The city will remain open to all,” he said. Venetians will be exempt from the tax, as will Italians who commute to work there from the mainland, and children under the age of six. Revenue from the tourist tax will be used to offset the high charges that Venetians pay for services such as rubbish collection, which is more expensive because of the city’s unique geography. Handcarts are used in the narrowest alleyways and refuse has to be taken away on special barges. The tax will apply to tourists who arrive by cruise ship, in water taxis and by plane or train. The cost will be incorporated into their tickets, although the logistical details are still to be worked out. The 50,000 inhabitants of the city endure great inconvenience and the costs of maintaining Venice are exceptional.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Egypt, Europe, Peru, South America

Travel News: Viking River Cruises Adds Itineraries for 2019

WIT (2)

Busabout Launches Hop-On, Hop-Off Travel In The US

Busabout, the popular hop-on hop-off coach service that offers travelers as much or as little structure and support as they want, is expanding with a new product launch and destination offering for 2019. For the first time, Busabout will offer its classic coach network on this side of the pond with the launch of a hop-on, hop-off network which provides unlimited travel between eight stops on the US west coast. The Travel Corporation-owned company’s original hop-on, hop-off service, launched in 1998, has grown to connect 38 cities across 14 countries in Europe. As in Europe, the US circuit will see a coach pass through each of the cities on the itinerary every two days and travelers can hop on or hop off the network as many times as they want throughout the duration of their pass. Pass increments include two weeks, one month, two months, an unlimited pass or, for the first time this year, a standalone one-week pass.

Southwest CEO: We Won’t Introduce Basic Economy 

While the big three US network airlines, Delta, United, and American, have introduced a no-frills Basic Economy product that generally comes with no seat selection or early boarding, and JetBlue plans to do so, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly flatly ruled it out. In talking about two revenue-generating initiatives planned for 2020, which will be detailed later this year, Kelly also crushed any speculation and repeated that the airline will also not introduce bag fees for the first two checked bags. In other words, those bags will still fly free. 

hawaii-839801_640

Hawaiian Airlines Flew Its First International Hawaiian Language Flight

In December Hawaiian Airlines Flight 852 made history. Guests on the flight from Haneda Airport in Japan to Kona International Airport were greeted by six flight attendants fluent in Hawaiian. Every passenger was greeted with kukui nut lei before departing Japan and fresh flower lei upon leaving the plane in Kona. Hawaiian Airlines crew also announced all boarding and in-flight announcements in ‘Olelo Hawaii, followed by Japanese and English translations. Passengers also received a travel-size language book, a “how-to” guide for ordering drinks in Hawaiian and a commemorative certificate of participation. Hawaiian Airlines also made history by flying with a native language flight between Hawaii and the U.S. Mainland during its flight from HNL to Las Vegas in December.

Viking River Adds Itineraries for 2019

Open Jaw reports Viking has announced the addition of two new itineraries and a variety of new pre- and post-cruise extensions to its river cruise offerings for 2019. Debuting in March 2019, the new 10-day Holland & Belgium itinerary will sail between Amsterdam and Antwerp, allowing guests to explore the inland waterways of the Low Countries and visit new ports of call for Viking: Rotterdam, Maastricht, and Nijmegen. Also, in commemoration of World War II and D-Day, Viking will offer a new 11-day cruisetour, Paris & D-Day 75th Anniversary, with two special departures that coincide with the June 6, 2019 anniversary. On this historic journey, guests will travel from London to the maritime city of Portsmouth before boarding their ship in Paris and sailing through Normandy, where they will visit and honor D-Day landing sites. 

What Passengers Would Like To See On Ultra Long Haul Flights

Airlineratings reports stationary exercise bikes, cafes, and virtual reality are on the wishlist of features Qantas passengers would like to see on ultra-long-haul flights. The responses captured last year in conjunction with Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre are part of research being done as Qantas prepares to launch the first non-stop, long haul flights from Australia’s East Coast to New York and London from 2022. 

wheelchair-1595802_640

Travel Firm Offers First-Ever Tours Of Machu Picchu For Wheelchair Users

Travelwirenews reports Wheel the World is offering the first-ever tours of Machu Picchu for wheelchair users thanks to a ‘trekking-style’ mobility aid. Wheel The World uses a foldable wheelchair made from steel and aluminum. The wheelchair is able to navigate the bumpy terrain and narrow walkways. The firm currently offers four-day tours of Peru to Machu Picchu and Cusco. The 600-year-old Inca site in Peru had previously been off-limits to traditional wheelchair users due to its rough terrain, steps, and narrow walkways. The firm, which specializes in tours for those with disabilities, has developed a way to visit the Unesco site by using a special foldable trekking-style wheelchair. The chair itself is made from steel and aluminum, the same as a bicycle, and it has a wheelbarrow shape because it only has one wheel and two long sticks at the front. The chair cannot be self-propelled by the user but travel companions or guides can carry it using these sticks and a handle at the back. It is also fitted with suspension, brakes and a harness so it can easily travel over uneven or steep ground.

Oceania Cruises To Eliminate Plastic Water Bottles

Cruise Industry News reports Oceania Cruises has announced an initiative to eliminate millions of plastic water bottles per year through a new partnership with Vero Water. The deal is part of the line’s OceaniaNEXT enhancement and the company’s larger Sail & Sustain environmental program. “By introducing Vero Water to the Oceania Cruises experience, we are not only taking a quantum leap forward environmentally, we are providing our guests with the gold-standard of still and sparkling water,” stated Bob Binder, President & CEO of Oceania Cruises. As part of its OceaniaNEXT initiative, the line’s ships will be outfitted with Vero Water’s still and sparkling water distillation systems starting in April. Installation of the Vero Water systems will ultimately eliminate an estimated three million plastic bottles per year.

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe, News, Peru

Travel News: Luxury Sailing Cruise Line Ponant Adds Free Wifi on all Sailings

WIT (4).png

New Adults-Only All-Inclusive Resort Opens In Florida Keys
The Press Release reports all-inclusive, adults-only luxury resort, Bungalows Key Largo, opened on the Northernmost island of the Florida Keys. Opening as the first-ever all-inclusive in the Keys and located just 63 miles south of Miami, the upscale, boutique, waterfront resort features 135 private bungalows dotted across the property’s 12 acres. Organic textures, soothing tropical hues, and all-natural materials complement the bohemian expression of Key Largo’s relaxed cabana lifestyle. The expansive, adults-only oasis is nestled within a botanical garden edged by the ocean and flanked by the Intercoastal Waterway and Everglades National Park. Immersed in timeless island-elegance under thatch roofing, Bungalows Key Largo boasts three dining experiences: Bogie & Bacall’s for multi-course fine dining and wine pairings, the beachside Sea Señor for Mexican fare under cooling coconut trees and resort-casual seafood restaurant, Fish Tales, inspired by the vibrancy of Capri in Italy. For those laying by the sun-drenched infinity pool or on the sands of Coconut Beach, the resort also features two floating six-seat tiki boats, aptly named the S.S. Rum Runner and S.S. Margarita; Largo Larry’s food truck for quick beach bites and the Sunset Tiki Bar where exotic cocktails are served across African teak and guests can enjoy sunset happy hours surrounded by unpretentious, coastal décor. Call your WIT Travel Agent for the full details!

Rapid Response Force Deployed To Carry Out Checks At US Airports

National Deployment Force officers have been drafted into major US airports to carry out security checks after one in 10 security staff called in sick over the weekend. The normal absence rate for Transportation Security Administration staff at this time of year is about 3%, but more staff are calling in sick rather than working without pay during the US government partial shutdown. The shutdown, which means there’s no money to pay around 800,000 government employees, including airport security staff, is now in its fifth week. As a result of staff shortages, passengers are seeing longer security queues at some airports. A checkpoint at Baltimore airport was shut down on two occasions last weekend due to a lack of staff but reopened on Monday. “Some airports experienced longer than usual wait times,” the TSA said, adding that the average waiting times are within the 30-minute standard for regular screening lanes. Of the 1.78 million passengers screened on Sunday, the TSA said fewer than 7% had to wait longer than 15 minutes. National Deployment Force officers, who make up the TSA’s rapid response team, have been drafted into several airports including Newark, New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.

World’s Largest Eco-Friendly Underwater Theme Park In Bahrain

The world’s largest eco-friendly underwater theme park is coming to Bahrain. Expected to welcome visitors by summer 2019, the underwater playground will feature a submerged 70-meter Boeing 747 aircraft. The plane is believed to have been transported to Bahrain from Fujairah, UAE, and is reported to be the largest plane ever to be submerged. The announcement, made by the personal representative of His Majesty King Hamad, president of the Supreme Council for the Environment, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, confirmed: “Covering an area of over 100,000 sqm, the exceptional dive experience includes several structures in addition to a submerged jumbo jet as its centerpieces, such as a replica of a traditional Bahraini pearl merchant’s house, artificial coral reefs and other sculptures fabricated from eco-friendly materials, all submerged to provide a safe haven for coral reef growth and a habitat for marine life.”

ubud-277349_640

Bali To Introduce Tourist Tax

Bali plans to impose a US$10 tax for all foreign tourist arrivals. Revenue will go toward environmental works and protection of cultural assets, said Bali governor Wayan Koster.”Most foreigners come to Bali for a holiday, local tourists only come to visit their family, have meetings or for their institution’s events,” he added. Bali is trying to combat the growing problem of plastic waste strewn on its beaches and in the ocean. The island generates more than 3,000 tons of rubbish every day. It has already taken steps to ban single-use plastics such as straws and plastic bags but remains to be seen how effective this will be.

Emirates Introduces Entertainment Playlist Syncing Ahead Of Travel

Emirates has introduced an innovative new function on its app to allow customers to create bespoke playlists ahead of their flight and sync it to their seats once on board. Customers can plan their trip more effectively, and maximize their onboard experience by using the Emirates app to browse the expansive entertainment catalog at any time. ice, Emirates’ award-winning inflight entertainment has reached a new milestone of over 4,000 channels of on-demand entertainment. The catalog includes over 1,000 movies, more than any other airline, popular television box sets, tens of thousands of music tracks, podcasts and games. The syncing capability is currently available on over 100 Emirates Boeing 777 aircraft and will be made available progressively across the entire fleet, including A380 aircraft in the coming months. In addition to the catalog, travelers can browse through their flight’s menus and wine lists up to a month before the departure date. The Emirates app also features 3D seat maps which allows customers to navigate the interior of the Emirates A380 and the Emirates Boeing 777 during seat selection and explore the spacious cabin before they board.

Universal Orlando Is Accepting Reservations For Its Newest Hotel
Universal Orlando revealed the opening date for the second phase of its Endless Summer value-priced resort. Universal and its partner Loews Hotels are now taking reservations for Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, Dockside Inn and Suites, which will start accepting guests in May 2020. Prices start at just $89 a night for the budget-priced hotel, which is going up on the site of the former Wet ‘n’ Wild water park. Dockside’s sister hotel next door, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites, will open this August. Reservations have been available for that hotel for a few months now, with its rates starting at $85 a night. These promotional rates for both hotels are based on a four-night stay.

sugarloaf-mountain-1679285_640.jpg

Brazil Plans To Eliminate the need for Visitor Visas For US Citizens 
Brazil plans to eliminate the need for visitor visas for Americans, the country’s tourism minister said on Wednesday, as President Jair Bolsonaro seeks to turn around the lagging tourism sector and engineer cozier relations with the United States. The visa initiative is part of the Foreign Ministry’s plan for the first 100 days in power of Bolsonaro, who assumed office on Jan. 1, Tourism Minister Marcelo Alvaro Antonio said in an interview “Our intention is really to eliminate visa applications for Americans.” Bolsonaro won the presidency running on a right-wing populist platform. He has sought to realign Brazil with the United States, unlike the leftist Workers Party government that led the country for 13 of the past 15 years and favored relations with fellow developing economies. “The left has treated the United States as an adversary, but not our government,” Antonio said. “President Bolsonaro wants to embrace the United States as a partner of Brazil.” Brazil is Latin America’s largest economy but has long punched below its weight in tourism. The country currently receives 6.6 million foreign tourists a year, roughly half that of New York City alone. Brazil will also seek to eliminate visas for Canadians, Japanese and Australians but the timeline is up to the Foreign Ministry, Antonio said.

Ponant Adds Free WiFi on All Sailings

The luxury cruise line Ponant announced that it is offering unlimited free access to WiFi to all guests across its fleet of ultra-luxury French-flagged vessels. All Ponant passengers will have free access to WIFI throughout the entire ship from January 2019, irrespective of their category of stateroom,” the company said, in a prepared statement. Ponant noted the complimentary WiFi will add to the customer experience aboard and is a key step in the company’s ship digitization process. Ponant also recently inked a deal with industry-leading connectivity provider Global Eagle to provide new technology, entertainment, and television services.

Leave a comment

Filed under Brazil, Cruises, Europe, News

Autumn in New York (and London, and Tokyo…)

Copy of wittravel blog header

End of Summer is fast approaching, and the brisk autumn wind has begun to seep into our evenings. While some of us are recovering from sunburns and sand in our shoes, we’re already looking forward to scarves and hot mochas. Today, we have time for a brief tour of the world in all its autumnal colors. 

vienna-1822138_640

Vienna

tree-2371512_640

Argentina

tokyo-2805500_640

Tokyo

paris-1768706_640

Paris

new-zealand-1738275_640

New Zealand

memorial-255507_640

Berlin

nature-970089_640

Chile

mountains-2915417_640

India

moor-261171_640

Belgium

lake-2092508_640

Ireland

istanbul-1702792_640

Istanbul

greece-2766230_640

Greece

facing-garden-1214958_640

Seoul

danube-2043113_640

Budapest

city-2262229_640

Melbourne

chinese-garden-1980853_640

China

central-park-535644_640

New York

castle-977828_640

Switzerland

canal-257474_640

Amsterdam

autumn-2863484_640

England

autumn-2099059_640

France

ancient-2066722_640

Rome

ancient-architecture-1942158_640

Beijing

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, Europe, South America

Travel News: Startup Plans To Send Tourists To The Edge Of Space 

 
Hapag-Lloyd Releases Statement Following Polar Bear Incident
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises released a statement on Sunday morning following a weekend incident that left a polar bear dead in Spitsbergen. ” This Saturday on a trip ashore in Spitsbergen during a BREMEN cruise an accident occurred: a polar bear guard, an expert employed by the cruise line, was attacked on land by a polar bear. The guard suffered head injuries, however, he was responsive after the attack and was airlifted. He is out of danger, with no threat to life. In an act of self-defence, unfortunately, it was necessary for the polar bear to be shot dead. We very much regret this incident. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is very aware of its responsibility when travelling in environmentally-sensitive areas and respects all nature and wildlife. To prepare for a shore leave, the polar bear guards go ashore in advance after sighting the landing site as a group and without passengers. They then set up a land station and check the area again to make sure that there are no polar bears in sight. As soon as such an animal approaches, the shore leave would be stopped immediately. The incident occurred when the four-person polar bear guard team, who are always on board for these expedition cruises as required by law, prepared for a shore leave. One of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted and he was unable to react himself. As the attempts of the other guards to evict the animal, unfortunately, were not successful, there had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person. The injured person was immediately provided with medical care and flown to a hospital with a rescue helicopter. We are in personal, direct contact with him. His condition is stable and he remains responsive. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises has worked comprehensively and co-operatively with the Norwegian authorities to reconstruct and clarify the incident on the ground and will continue to do so.
Southwest Airlines Promises They Still Won’t Charge for Bags 
Condé Nast Traveler reports at least one airline has some good news about fees you don’t have to worry about. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in an earnings call on Thursday that the airline will continue with its policies of free checked bags, no change fees, and open seating for the foreseeable future, despite the fact that they’re potentially leaving billions of dollars on the table by doing so. I don’t think we need to change the essence of what Southwest Airlines is to still find opportunities to drive revenues,” Kelly said. While he said the company was exploring new ways to make money, he didn’t divulge details, only adding that they were “very handsome opportunities.” No need to sweat the small stuff: customers won’t see the changes for awhile, not in 2018, and perhaps not even in 2019, Kelly said. Southwest is largely fee-free, but it doesn’t assign seats; instead, passengers can shell out $15 for EarlyBird Check-In to improve their place in the boarding line so they can nab that precious window seat. They also can pay around $50 for each leg of their trip to board with the first group of passengers. The airline’s hands-off, free-bags-and-change-fees approach hits a note with travelers. The Dallas-based airline routinely bests JetBlue, Delta, United, and American when it comes to value for the money, credit card perks, and, uh, flight attendant friendliness. The airline even announced yesterday that despite rising fuel costs, its ticket prices were falling. 

Arizona Startup Plans To Send Tourists To The Edge Of Space 
Travelwirenews reports a Arizona startup plans to send tourists to the edge of space using high-altitude helium balloons, but tickets will definitely cost at least $75,000 each. World View Enterprises has plans to send passengers to a lot more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface. The firm will use high-altitude balloons for a ride proponents say will undoubtedly be a lot more peaceful than rocket-based systems. World View currently launches missions primarily for the government, with roughly 50 within the last year. For passenger flights, World View is rolling out a capsule dubbed Voyager, which includes windows on all sides. While it will not reach official boundary of space, passengers should be able to see Earth fall away beneath them. In just a couple of years, wealthy tourists could see themselves going for a relaxing visit to the edge of space, towed by way of a high-altitude, helium-filled balloon. World View Enterprises has been honing its flight system during the last couple of years before plans to send passengers to a lot more than 100,000 feet above Earth’s surface. World View has conducted over 50 flights within the last year. In 2015, a then-Google exec completed a record-breaking free fall from about 136,000 feet, counting on a suit and balloon developed by World View over the course of three years. At present the firm primarily conducts missions for the government, including a recently available effort to fly a military imaging system from Arizona to Mexico.
 
 
Inca Rail Upgrades Trains To Machu Picchu 
Travel Market Reports that Inca Rail in Peru was acquired by the Carlyle Groupsome two years ago and has now rebranded as Machu Picchu Trains by Inca Rail and significantly upgraded its product offering. With a $10 million investment from Carlyle, the company has refurbished its cars, enhanced the onboard experience, ratcheted up the amenities, added a 360-degree panoramic-view observation deck with an outdoor terrace, and offers a private charter service. The company expanded its first-class offering from 30 seats to 60 seats, adding a second 30-seat car, and adding an observatory lounge car between the two cars. The 360-degree observatory lounge is unique in the market, “not only because we have more panoramic windows, but it is the only train with an open terrace. It’s wonderful because since we want to deliver as full an experience as possible, this is the way the customer can experience the journey with the five senses, to see, to smell, to hear and to feel more of the journey. There are no windows so you can take pictures.” Inca Rail also upgraded the technology on the train to accommodate the needs of today’s wired travelers. “It’s also the first train that offers state-of-the-art technology, with a USB port for ISP to charge phones and iPads if you want to take pictures and don’t have batteries. It’s also the only train that has an entertainment system that lets passengers follow the trip with their phones. They can see where the train is going. There are many things to see along the way. They can hear the narration in different languages and find out what is outside, the Incan ruins or the Urubamba River. There is also music and video from the Andes. So, it’s a unique train. The company now offers four classes of service: private, first class, 360 Degree and the standard Voyager service. “For the top luxury class, we offer a private service on a chartered basis, it’s unique in market. You can charter the whole car and it’s at your disposal. You travel with a chef, staff and butler service. It includes upscale dining with a five-course meal, whisky, live music, a lounge and a bar. It’s for one to 10 people. It could be couples, families or friends. You charter the service and it’s completely private, the only private charter in the market.” Passengers can catch the train from Cuzco or Ollantaytambo. From Cuzco, the train leaves from Poroy Station, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Cuzco. The trip to Machu Picchu is about three hours. From Ollantaytambo, passengers catch the train near the site itself and the trip takes about an hour and a half. The train drops passengers off at the Machu Pichu Pueblo Hotel, formerly known as Aguas Caliente, at the foot of the final climb to the Citadel. The final leg of the trip is taken by bus. With its new, upgraded service, Inca Rail is including a private bus for the final climb. The Peruvian government implemented some restrictions, last July. There are two shifts for visitation: in the morning between 6 a.m. and noon, or from noon to 5:30 p.m. In addition, the authorities mandated that visitors have to be accompanied by a licensed tour guide so they know where to walk without damaging the site.


 
Virgin Galactic Completes Rocket Powered Test Flight
CNN reports the race to put tourists into space seems to be a glacially slow one most of the time, and then it suddenly takes a supersonic leap forward. That is what happened with Richard Branson’s long-delayed Virgin Galactic project, which last Thursday completed a rocket-powered test flight at 2.47 times the speed of sound. Carried up to an altitude of 46,500 feet over the Mojave Desert in California, Virgin’s VSS Unity was released from its mother ship before blasting into the stratosphere. With rockets blazing for 42 seconds, it then entered a near-vertical climb to 170,800 feet, approximately halfway to the edge of space. The ship then glided back down to Earth, making a successful landing at the Mojave Air and Space Port. The third rocket-powered outing in less than four months was hailed as the most successful yet for the project, which eventually aims to carry passengers and commercial payloads into space. It was the first to reach the mesosphere, which Virgin Galactic describes as an “under-studied atmospheric layer” because it’s beyond the range of balloon flight. “This was a new altitude record for both of us in the cockpit, not to mention our mannequin in the back, and the views of Earth from the black sky were magnificent,” Mackay added. Branson predicted it would be up and running by December in an interview released on the eve of the latest test. If Virgin Galactic gets up and running, passengers paying north of $250,000 will experience a two-and-a-half-hour flight to the edge of space. The flight will culminate with several minutes of weightlessness during which they’ll be able to float from their seats.
 
 
 
Hawaii’s Honolulu Airport Will Run On Thousands Of Solar Panels
Hawaii is doing the most when it comes to environmental conservation. The state officially banned all chemical sunscreens, which contain coral-bleaching ingredients, in early July. A number of hotels across the islands have gotten rid of plastic straws and single-use plastics (read our full list of companies that are saying no to single-use plastics). And the state has pushed to use exclusively clean energy by 2045. Hawaii’s Department of Transportation took another step, announcing that Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport will be outfitted with 4,260 solar panels by the end of November, with the aim to cut the airport’s electricity bill in half. Thousands of solar panels will cover the roof of Terminal 1’s parking garage to help capture the rays of Honolulu’s 270 days of sun a year. There also are plans to add more to Terminal 2’s parking garage in the coming years (and, ultimately, a whopping 21,000 across all of Hawaii’s airports). More than 98,000 light fixtures at Honolulu’s airport will be replaced with LEDs as well, the state’s DOT reports. Honolulu is far from the only airport trying to decrease its carbon footprint. George Airport (2,000 solar panels), between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth in South Africa, and Cochin International Airport (46,000 panels) in India’s southwestern Kerala region are both run completely by solar energy. The South African airport hopes to be carbon neutral by 2030 and the Indian airport,-which serves nearly eight million passengers annually-hopes to reduce its carbon emissions by 330,000 tons over the next 25 years. Gatwick Airport in London is officially carbon neutral as of last summer, using 100 percent renewable energy, emphasizing electric car rentals, and building the world’s first airport waste management plant to turn cabin waste into energy on-site.
 
 
New TSA Scanners Could Allow Travelers to Keep Their Liquids and Laptops 
Open Jaw reports the TSA plans to have up to 40 units in place at 15 US airports by the end of this year, with plans for another 100 or so more by the end of the government’s fiscal year 2019. The Transportation Security Administration announced plans to expand testing of a new carry-on bag screening technology that it says could detect the kinds of materials that caused it to issue a ban on liquids and powders. The new checkpoint technology is expected to result in fewer bag checks. In the future, the agency said, “passengers may also be able to leave laptops and liquids in their carry-on bags.” The computed tomography scanners (CT) utilize 3-D technology similar to the kind doctors use to view and rotate images of the human body. “TSA is committed in getting the best technology to enhance security and improve the screening experience. Use of CT technology substantially improves TSA’s threat detection capability at the checkpoint,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “By leveraging strong partnerships with industry, we are able to deploy new technology quickly and see an immediate improvement in security effectiveness.” CT technology testing started in 2017 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and Boston’s Logan International Airport, with John F. Kennedy International Airport receiving the third such machine. Abroad, London’s Heathrow International Airport is among several international airports testing the 3D technology.

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Central America, Europe, News, North America, South America

8 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

travel news (2)

8 New UNESCO World Heritage Sites

We have a bunch of New UNESCO Heritage Sites on the list, to add to our ever-growing bucket list!

All of these cultural and natural landmarks are recognized for their outstanding value to humanity. Discover which wonders made the list this year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a handful of our favorites. Learn more about other sites on the UNESCO official webpage

What are some of YOUR favorite UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

Let us know in the comments!

naumburg-2091943_640.jpg

1. Naumburg Cathedral, Germany

Built in the 11th century, this gorgeous cathedral is remarkable from a distance for its stain glass windows and soaring Gothic arches. Its real claim to fame, however, is the medieval art inside—including 12 life-sized statues of the cathedral’s founders. The Naumburg Masters was a workshop of sculptors and stonemasons in the 13th century who dedicated their work of realistic sculptures to the cathedral and all over France, Middle Rhine area and boundaries of the German Empire. This is a destination for history buffs — the cathedral and the region around it has a high density of authentic monuments and structures dating back to the High Middle Ages.

2. Chiribiquete National Park, Colombia

Ever-surprising Colombia takes next place with this national park, sometimes called the Maloca (“Amazonian long house”) of the Jaguar. As Colombia’s largest protected site, it protects 10,810 square miles and over 3,000 species of animals and plants. High on the sandstone plateaux, over 75,000 rock paintings have been found. Nature lovers will surely love this one.

church-190476_640

3. Ivrea, Italy

This small Piedmont town near Turin is famous for its 20th century industrial boom in typewriters and computers. Stunning Ivrea is also a remarkably beautiful village, resting on the Dora Baltea river, and, at the time of writing, still off the usual tourists’ map.

4. Caliphate City of Medina Azahara, Spain

The Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus is highlighted all across southern Spain, especially Alhambra. Added to the list of must-sees this year is the Medina Azahara. These ruins, 1.5 hours from Seville, were built between 940 and 975 c.e. and once held the seat of the Caliphate of Cordoba.

5. Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, South Africa

The Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains are so ancient, with volcanic and sedimentary rocks dating back over 3 billion years. More adventurous travelers will have quite the holiday hiking and biking around the town of Barberton and the nature reserve.

6. The Border of Hedeby and the Danevirke, Germany

Once a Viking trading post, this cultural landscape now consists of the ruins of a 33-km-long fortification–the Danevirke–as well as the archaeological site of the trading town Hedeby. Hedeby rose in power on the major trade routes between the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia, as well as between the Baltic and North Seas.

7. Göbekli Tepe, Turkey

This mysterious archaeological site in southeastern Turkey is the oldest known example of hunter-gatherer settlers in the world. It houses the world’s oldest known megaliths, with around 200 pillars in about 20 circles, and may have the world’s oldest temple as well. Göbekli Tepe dates back to around 9600 and 8200 b.c.e., and is a fascinating glimpse into ancient Mesopotamian culture.

8. Hidden Christian Sites, Japan

Kyushu Island keeps many historical secrets, but its historic Christian community that draws the eye of UNESCO—with 10 villages, Hara castle and cathedral that were built between 16th-19th centuries, despite a ban of all outsiders during the Tokugawa Shogunate. Along with these Christian remnants, visitors can explore active volcanoes, bubbling hot springs and marvelous waterfalls.

What UNESCO World Heritage Sites are you looking forward to seeing in 2018?

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, Colombia, Europe, France, Germany, Japan, South Africa, Turkey