Madagascar Unmasked

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Experience the wilderness of Madagascar in this travel post by guest blogger, Nellie Huang of WildJunket.com. Nellie was Dabble’s featured blogger in Issue 5‘s I Dabble In… profile.

There are few places as remote and wild as Madagascar, and even fewer that offer such fulfilling and authentic travel experiences.

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La Grand Isle (as it is known in French, meaning the big island) is like nowhere else on Earth: it is home to a unique group of endemic animals and plants which had evolved after the island’s separation from the African continent 165 million years ago. Only in this part of the world can you find cheeky lemurs, chameleons and ferocious fosas, as well as bizarre-looking baobab trees and spiny forests.

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We experienced the wilderness of Madagascar–sleeping in the forest, watching lemurs and chameleons in their natural habitat and flowing down rivers on dugout canoes.

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In the Kirindy forest, we saw the adorable grey mouse lemur upclose and personal and watched sifakas leap from one tree to another. At the Tsingy de Bemahara, we climbed sharp karst rock faces to get a awestriking view of the jungle from above. Back in the town of Belo-sur-Tsiribihina, we wandered through the colorful and bustling central market, taking in Malagasy culture. By the time we got to Morondava, we were thrilled to be feasting on cheap and delicious seafood at Chez Maggie.

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Kicking back at the laidback, empty beach town of Ifaty, where the ocean and spiny forests surround us, I’m writing this from our thatched-roof beachfront bungalow at the gorgeous Hotel Le Paradisier–the sun is setting before me and the ocean is turning from a shade of deep blue to golden. I’m blessed to be here, and can’t wait to see what more surprises Madagascar has to offer.

Madagascar is an excellent place to get in touch with raw, unspoiled nature. Read more about the wildlife, nature and beautiful people of Madagascar on Nellie’s blog, Wild Junket.

How to be a good traveller

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Travel journalist and thrill seeker, Nellie Huang shares tips on being a good traveller. Nellie was Dabble’s featured blogger in Issue 5’s I Dabble In profile.

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A ‘Good’ Traveller–

Has an open mind and welcomes any form of adventure! I think this is quintessential to maximizing one’s experience while travelling. If you’re too afraid to try the local exotic food (grasshoppers!) or have qualms about visiting the Tannery (too smelly for you?), then you really might be missing out on some great stuff!

Respects other cultures and is genuinely interested in a different heritage. I have met many world travelers who surprisingly shock me with mocking remarks on certain traditions and customs they are unable to accept.

Speaks politely and blends in. You see them everywhere, the bunch of loud-mouthed teenagers talking at the top of their voices at the Piazza, the group of drunk Brits on the beach of Ibiza slurring loudly, they stand out like flamingos, and no the locals don’t usually like them.

Understands cultural differences and does not expect others to speak in her/his language. Many English-speaking travelers make the mistake of assuming that everyone speaks English too, and gets frustrated when they don’t. (I used to be one. Damn I’m ashamed.)

To read the entire article, visit Nellie’s blog Wild Junket.

 

Andean Villages of Northern Argentina

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This beautifully written post by guest blogger, Nellie Huang of WildJunket.com, is the perfect example of why everyone should dabble in travel. Nellie was Dabble’s featured blogger in Issue 5‘s I Dabble In… profile.

Nestled by the pre-Andean Sierras (mountain range), the immeasurable beauty of the landscape and quaint little villages make Northern Argentina my favorite part of the country. Heading further north from the colonial city of Salta, we found ourselves entering a different world — from modern cities to wild nature and cobblestoned towns lined with bright Andean colors.

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Paseo a las Nubes

Following the route of the famous ‘tren a las nubes’ , our guide Pablo brought us through the meandering paths of the Sierra Castille, past streams, rolling mountains and snow-capped peaks. The train is well-known as the highest altitude train route in the world. The landscape consisted of steep peaks dotted with cactus, ruins of ancient civilizations and llamas grazing on the endless fields.

As we climbed to altitudes as high as 4200m, we chewed on coca leaves (the plant from which cocaine is extracted from) to prevent altitude sickness, which can cause quite severe headache and short of breathe. Cruising through breathtaking views and climbing up peaks, it was definitely one of the best ways to see Argentina’s nature.

San Antonio a los Cobres

The ‘tren a las nubes’ route ends at this mining town where copper ( ‘cobre ‘ in Spanish) is found abundantly. We sought refuge from the cold at a restaurant where we tried llama meat for the first time. The indigenous animal is not only reared for their wool but also for their tender meat.

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Purmamarca

Further north in the Jujuy province is the tranquil mountainous town of Purmamarca, famed for the ‘Sierra de los siete colores’ (Mountain of 7 colors). Naturally formed by layers of different minerals (copper, iron etc), the mountains display beautiful strands of colors, as though God had decided to paint it this way.

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The main plaza of the Purmamarca is littered with artisan shops and stalls that are decorated with brightly colored llama carpets and jumpers. Unlike other towns, Purmamarca is distinct with its boutique artisan shops that are modern yet thick with local flavors.

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With locals dressed in authentic Andean ponchos and bright llama skirts, threading the alleys of Humahuaca, I found myself dreamily lost in this mountain daze, totally enchanted by their culture and traditions.

For the complete story of Nellie’s time in Northern Argentina, visit Wild Junket, where adventure lives.

Landscapes of the Arctic

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Experience for yourself the breathtaking landscapes of the arctic in this travel post by guest blogger, Nellie Huang of WildJunket.com. Nellie was Dabble’s featured blogger in Issue 5‘s I Dabble In… profile.

There’s something haunting about the Arctic landscapes: aqua blue icebergs floating on crystal water, massive glaciers crackling in the background towered by snow mountains.

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Few places boast such striking physical appeal and raw wilderness as the polar regions. Since returning from the Arctic, I’ve found it hard to get the images of sparkling glaciers and sounds of trickling ice water out of my head.

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My arctic expedition with Gap Adventures took me around the Svalbard archipelago of the High Arctic region. This group of islands belong to Norway, although geographically, they are closer to the North Pole than continental Europe.

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Besides being the largest wilderness of Europe, this is also one of the Arctic regions that offer the widest variety of landscapes, wildlife and ecosystems.

Each day of our Arctic expedition presented to us starkly distinctive landscapes: from brown moss-covered mountains one day to thousand-year-old glaciers the next. Through our cabin windows, we would wake up to see frosty ice fields in the morning, then green tundra slopes by night. There wasn’t a single moment of monotiny in our backdrop.

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To read about Nellie’s full experience in the Arctic, please visit Wild Junket.

The Best Beaches in Europe

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Travel journalist and adventure junkie, Nellie Huang of WildJunket.com, slows down to enjoy a more relaxing travel experience that the beaches of Europe have to offer.

Whether it’s a secluded bay with emerald surfs slamming on sandstone cliffs, or wide stretches of golden sand glimmering with turquoise waters, Europe has a constellation of beaches that makes summer alone worth living.

Here are 3 of the 8 beaches Nellie believes are the best in Europe.

Navagio Beach, Zakynthos, Greece

Also known as Shipwreck bay, this cove is the trademark of the island and one of the most famous in Greece. Huge vertical cliffs surrounding the white sand creates a paradisical stretch of islet. It can only be reached by boat (leaving hourly), from Porto Vromi. Greece is one of Europe’s most popular summer playground, so avoid the crowd by hitting the beach in April or end of September.

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Las Islas Cies, Galicia, Spain

Voted by the Guardian as one of the best beaches in the world, the island 92 s main stretch of powdery white sand is as calm as a lake. The wild and stunning island of Islas Cies is protected by the goverment as a national park, restricting the number of visiting tourists. There is only camping available on the island, so this keeps any form of intervention minimal. This is one of my personal favourites.

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Patara, Turquoise Coast, Turkey

Dunes, dunes and more dunes. This rare stretch of beach is backed by the golden dunes and the Taurus mountains. Due to the strict conservation efforts, there are no buildings around, keeping the beach in unspoiled conditions. The beach is one of the few remaining beaches in the world, where the Loggerhead turtles still come to lay their eggs between May and October.

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Discover the other 5 of Nellie’s 8 of the Best Beaches in Europe.