Top African destinations for the best wildlife photography

Africa is one of those continents where you will get loads of different places to showcase your skills in photography. And when it is all about picturing the wildlife moments, then nowhere will be as best as the African national parks and the forests. After all, it is a country, which sports a huge number of wildlife species, including some of the endangered species.

Starting from Tanzania to South Africa, these countries form the best places for safari and hence, you can really get some unique shots of the animals living in their wild habitat.

zebra

If you are planning on spending holidays in Africa for wildlife photography, then here are some of the best places you wouldn’t dare to miss!

  1. Massai Mara National Reserve in Kenya

Located in the Eastern Africa, this is a preserved forestland with Savannah vegetation. The five beasts of the jungle can be found here- elephants, hippo, lion, cheetah, and the rhinoceros. A large number of the wildebeests migrate into the area during the winter season. Apart from the wildlife, you can also get to capture the precious moments of the Massai lifestyle in the nearby villages.

  1. The Kalahari Desert in Botswana

With the sand dunes, rusty valleys and mountains, desert plants, and a Savannah climate, Kalahari deserts is one of the important places for wildlife photography. The marshes and the floodplains within the desert are enriched with a variety of flora and fauna. Predators like lion, cheetah, spotted hyena, Cape wild dog, brown hyena, and even the predatory birds are found in abundance. Wildebeest is common in this area including the marine animals like the crocodile.

  1. Etosha National Park in Namibia

With the saltwater pan located in the middle of the Etosha National Park, the forest is said to e the home of many endangered and vulnerable species of animals. Four main types of vegetation covers are the there in the park- the woodlands, the Savannah, the grasslands, and the saline desert. Zebra, black rhinoceros, elephants, lions, springbok, blue wildebeest, and black-faced Impala are some of the different mammals found in the area. A large number of avian species are also there in the game.

  1. Samburu National Reserve in Kenya

Though Masaai Mara Reserve is one of the most important national parks in Kenya, you can never ignore the Samburu National Park. The main attraction of this woodland area is the Kamunyak, a lioness who is said to adopt the oryx calves. Reticulated giraffe, African leopard, lion, Cape Buffalo, and even the olive baboons, and the waterbuck can be found in this area. The Ewaso River is the home to a large number of the crocodile.

  1. Rain Forests of Atsinanana in Madagascar

The rainforests of the Atsinanana consist of six main national parks. Being UNESCO heritage site, the rainforests are important for maintaining the ecological balance of the forests as many species of the Madagascar biodiversity are endangered. Some of the unique species that you will witness within the six national parks are lemurs, mongooses, civets, Madagascar serpent eagle, red owl, and so on.

  1. Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda

The national park is best known for the endangered species of the Mountain Gorilla and the golden money. The main vegetations found in this area are the rainforests and the bamboo forests, providing an ambient habitat for the monkeys. Black-fronted duiker, buffalo, spotted hyena, bushbuck, and elephants are some of the common mammals you will find in the national park. Apart from this, 178 species of birds are found in the park. The Karisimbi volcano is one of the best places for getting some ethereal snaps of nature. Apart from this, there are lakes and caves for your photography session if you want something else other than the wildlife.

  1. Serengeti National Park in Tanzania

Being one of the main parts of the Serengeti ecosystem the park is famous for the migratory wildebeest. Serengeti plains, Western Park, and the Northern Serengeti are the three areas in which the entire national park is demarcated into. Considering the wildlife, you will definitely have the wildebeest, the largest mammal to have existed on the earth’s surface till date, zebras, Impala, Warthog, hippo, Masai giraffe, waterbuck, and so on. Some rare species of the Impala can be found in this national park.

  1. Okavango Delta in Botswana

Formed by the Okavango River, this inland basin is one of the main reserves for the wildlife. The Moremi Game Reserve is the national park, which is located on the eastern part of this deltaic region. Over 400 bird species can be found in this region including the crested crane, the lilac-beasted roller, hamerkop, and the sacred ibis. Considering the animals, you will get the African bush elephant, the hartebeest, springbok, kudu, gemsbok, roan antelope, black rhinoceros, Nile crocodile, and even the vervet monkey.

  1. Kidepo Valley National Park in Uganda

With the rugged Savannah type of vegetation, two main rivers drain the entire land- the Kidepo and the Narus rivers. As two different valleys are there, you will have two different wildlife varieties. In the Narus Valley, you will get the spotted hyena, lion, cheetah, African buffalo, bat-eared foxes, Rothschild’s giraffe and so on.

With so many wildernesses within the subcontinent, Africa has become a major spot for photography safari the wild animals and their daily lifestyle. After all, in the wild regions, the beasts can be on their own, with their primal instincts guarding their activities.

 

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La Paz and Todos Santos, Mexico

La Paz and Todos Santos: It was our first ever girls-only trip and five of us were determined to go somewhere…anywhere to chill, bond, and be wild. Only one condition, it had to be outside USA. To go easy for the first time, we chose Mexico…a place which was closer to our home and within short distance. After lots of going back and forth, we chose Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. After visiting around 60 countries, this was the single most memorable trip that I’ll always cherish.

A small Mexican village - El Triunfo

A small Mexican village – El Triunfo

We planned ahead for the La Paz and Todos Santos trip to get out of the city life of Cabo. If you have an extra day and are looking for an excursion from Cabo San Lucas, this would be a great option. Both of these small towns are rich in history and culture, but my personal favorite was Todos Santos. The distance from Cabo San Lucas to La Paz is about 264 km and took us about 3 hours by car. But don’t fall asleep…most portion of the journey is very scenic and roads/highways are  surrounded by Sierra Mountains that should not be missed.

Reservation for this trip was made before arriving to Cabo thru Easy Cabo Trip. It was $70 per person and paid partial amount from the total to reserve the day. Originally I chatted with Alex from Easy Cabo Trip to book the trip who was extremely helpful with our needs. Our guide/driver, Eric, was someone who I would recommend highly for anyone. He was knowledgeable, friendly, very nice, dedicated, and spoke pretty good English too. We were picked up from our resort sharp at 8am. It was about 10 hours trip from pick up to drop off. And Eric helped us all the way at every step.

Time of Travel: We were in Cabo San Lucas during the 1st week of December 2017. We kept the first couple days and the last day for Cabo itself. In between, on the 3rd day, we decided to go out of the main tourist spots and enjoy the rural parts of the town. Weather in December in Cabo is usually very pleasant. It was somewhere in the 70s and 80s most of the time.

Our Hotel: We stayed in Marina Fiesta Resort and Spa in Cabo San Lucas. Please check out my page on Cabo right side to know more about the resort.

Eating and Shopping: The morning we went to La Paz, Eric, took us to a small breakfast place because we weren’t able to start our morning without some coffee. I had a freshly made delicious beef empanada while others tried burrito and etc. The place had a small shop attached to it where a lady was selling all sorts of dry fruit pastes, spicy candies, and traditional Mexican snacks. I bought a guava paste bar (my kids loved it) and some tamarind hot candies.

Our breakfast place on our way to La Paz, Mexico

Our breakfast place on our way to La Paz, Mexico

Todos Santos is a fun place to do some souvenir hunting. Hotel California can be slightly pricey but it has some nice selections of trinkets and gift items. I bought few keyrings, a rug, and a mug from here. Other stores here sell similar items, sometimes maybe a bit cheaper than Hotel California. But for my rug, I found that Hotel California was cheaper than other stores and they carry some unique items that other stores didn’t have…but don’t forget to bargain.

Souvenirs inside Hotel California in Todos Santos, Mexico

Souvenirs inside Hotel California in Todos Santos, Mexico

Places We’ve Visited: I wish I knew how beautiful Todos Santos is, I would have planned to go there first and spend more time and then go to La Paz after lunch. We barely got a chance to roam around Todos Santos, because it was already dark when we reached there and everything was getting ready to close.

  1. Tropic of Cancer: This is where we first stopped in the morning. It’s a very simple monument in between San Jose del Cabo and La Paz, where the tropic of cancer crosses. Other than the monument itself, there is a small church and some hand-crafts shops are here too. We spent about 15-20 minutes before heading towards our breakfast venue.

    Monument for Tropic of Cancer near Cabo, Mexico

    Monument for Tropic of Cancer near Cabo, Mexico

  2. Gold and Silver Mine: This is an old and unnamed gold and silver mine. It had no sign and was hidden in the middle of a small hill and bushes. A tiny door leads to the mouth of the mine. We didn’t dare to go inside the mine itself.
  3. Iglesia de El Triunfo: Once a mining urban settlement, El Triunfo is a small town where another silver mine, El Triunfo de la Cruz, is located. In fact, it is this silver mine that gave birth to the town El Triunfo. We didn’t go to the mine here, just saw it from a distance from this church. With the Latin cross floor plan of this building with wooden structured roof, Iglesia de El Triunfo dates back to the second half of the 19th The main altar was designed elaborately in neoclassic style.

    Iglesia de El Triunfo in Cabo, Mexico

    Iglesia de El Triunfo in Cabo, Mexico

  4. Playa Ballandra: Playa Ballandra is a calm beach with a beautiful landscape. We spent about an hour walking along the water and taking pictures. It was not overly crowded but was lively.

    Playa Ballandra in Cabo, Mexico

    Playa Ballandra in Cabo, Mexico

  5. Playa Tecolote: This is where we had our lunch. It’s a small private-like beach, didn’t see anything nearby, except for the restaurant which was almost packed with tourists and locals.

    Playa Tecolote in Cabo, Mexico

    Playa Tecolote in Cabo, Mexico

  6. La Paz Downtown: La Paz is an old Mexican port and still maintains that feel and vibe. The corner stone of Cathedral of La Paz was laid in 1861.

    Cathedral of La Paz

    Cathedral of La Paz

  7. Todos Santos: Located in north of Cabo, Todos Santos is one of the small cities of Baja California on the Pacific side. It took about 1 ½ hours from La Paz to Todos Santos and we got here when it was already dark. It would have been ideal if we came to Todos Santos in the morning and stayed until lunch. We could have spent more time and enjoyed the inspirational characteristic of this Mexican town.

Even if you can’t do La Paz, I would highly recommend taking a day trip to Todos Santos…this is almost a must-see when you are visiting Cabo and makes perfect day trip from Cabo. Its tiny community is filled with old colonial style arts and architecture which take you few centuries back. Here are some places we managed to see in Todos Santos.

  1. Mission of Santa Rosa de Todos Santos: This century old monastery is at the heart of this town. The original building goes back to early 18th We could make it to the cathedral right before its closing and there is no charge to visit. It has a simple interior with elegant altar and grand exterior.
  2. Hotel California: The iconic colonial style red building of Todos Santos is the Hotel California. This is located only 2 minutes’ walk from the cathedral. Inside of the hotel is more beautiful than the outside. So make sure to go inside and check out the hotel lobby, bar, café, and shop.
Inside Hotel California in Todos Santos, Mexico

Inside Hotel California in Todos Santos, Mexico

 

 

How To Make Moving as Enjoyable as Possible with Family

Unlike when you’re moving on your own, doing it with your family can require twice as much time and effort from you. For one, you have to entice everyone in the family to help during the move. You have to ensure that their schedule permits it and they actually have the interest to help you. This is especially true for children. Since they’re still innocent, you have to pay attention to everything they’re doing and make sure that their tasks are apt for their skillset. This still doesn’t include the tantrums and misunderstandings you might have to pacify along the way. Fortunately, there are better ways to move from one location to another with your family.

Moving can be tough when you have a big family. More people might mean more helping hands but it can also mean more headaches and stress. If you want your upcoming move to go as smooth as possible, consider making it enjoyable for the family. Doing this might be a struggle but this can change your family’s perception of a move. Tasks can also be completed faster, and your family can be happier. If you want your upcoming move to be as enjoyable as possible, consider the tips below:

  1. Be positive and provide reassurance: If you’ve been living in the same neighborhood for decades, moving can be heartbreaking. You might have already drawn close to everyone living there, treating your neighbors as family members and your children’s friends as your own. This transition can be hard especially for your children. You can turn things around by being positive. Instead of being sad because you’re moving, tell your family that everyone is welcoming an exciting new life. Everyone can start with a clean slate and do whatever they can. Also reassure them that although the location is different, everyone can still make friends with the neighbors. Don’t forget to laugh and joke around during moving day, too. This kind of attitude will influence your family members to do the same.

Photo source: Shutter Stock

  1. Keep communication open: No matter how much you plan for a move, there will always be a few bumps along the way. You might need to move in the next month but your children don’t want to or your family, not like the idea of hiring a moving company. When things don’t go according to plan, always keep communication open. Your sister can’t possibly enjoy the move when she’s uncomfortable moving boxes from your attic to the ground floor, right? Encourage your family to speak out if they have concerns or suggestions. It’ll be easy to provide solutions if you actually know what the problem is.
  1. Translate the move into a game: Instructing children to pack and organize their items during the move can be time-consuming. Constantly looking after them might be an option but with the list of things you have to do for the move, it’s not the best thing to do. Let games help you out with this kind of problem. Before the move, have your children race each other as to who can sort out the most number of items or clean their room the fastest. On the day of the move, the races can involve who can stack the moving boxes neatly or who can carry the most stuff. You can also have fun games during the car ride to the new location. Have your children play Twenty Questions and Bingo.

There are many games which you can use before, during and even after the move. You just have to think out of the box to keep them upbeat! You can also give prizes to the winners as an added bonus.

  1. Create a playlist: Packing items, labeling boxes and moving these from one area to another can become a hassle. When it’s done for days, your family might even be exhausted. To liven things up, prepare a playlist. This can include songs which have a meaning to the family (like the Christmas Carol everyone sang during the holidays or the movie theme song your sister used to sing in her class), your personal favorite or the latest songs being played on the radio. Once your family members hear these songs, they’ll be energized to complete their tasks. You might even hear them singing at the top of their lungs while piling up boxes.
  1. Eat like kings: Food is the best reward you can give to your family after a day of packing, organizing and cleaning. Create a plan of what to serve once your family starts making preparations for the move. If they’re starting to pack their valuables Saturday afternoon, make sure a meal is set for dinner. You can ask them what they want to eat or prepare everyone’s favorite dish as a surprise. During your travel, it’s also important that you pay attention to the food supplies your family has. Bring with you a cooler packed with cold beverages, fruits and nuts. You can even stop for a healthy meal along the way.

Photo source: Shutter Stock

  1. Don’t rush: Being unprepared is one of the reasons why a move can become stressful. You’ll have to rush everyone to finish their tasks as soon as possible, causing them to experience stress too. You can save your family from situations like these by starting early. If you’re planning to live in a new house during the first week of August, you can start packing as early as June. This will give you ample time to sort out all of your items, pack and label them accordingly. When everyone is relaxed and calm during the move, they have more time to have fun.
  1. Meet the children in your new location: When children move to another location, they fear that they’ll be all alone as they don’t have any friends. Most often than not, they would even worry that other children might bully them. Change this kind of perception by meeting the children in your new location. Take time to know them and tell your children about them. You should also teach your children how to introduce themselves so it’ll be easier for them to reach. If possible, create avenues for your children to meet everyone in the neighborhood. Schedule camps in your backyard or have children from your neighborhood visit your house for some snacks.

Change For The Better

Moving from one location to another can be tiring but there are many ways on how you can spice things up. Gradually brush the idea that you’re doing chores during the move; think of them as avenues to have fun and bond with your family. Don’t think that you’ll be leaving your friends in your old neighborhood because you’re actually adding more with the new people you’ll meet. Don’t think lifting heavy boxes is just a boring task but as a medium to have a friendly competition with your siblings. Change your mind set about moving and soon enough, everyone in the family will do the same. It won’t be long before everyone in the family will never look at a move as a burden, but another way to have fun and enjoy!

Author’s Bio:

Dianne has been writing blogs for quite some time now. She is interested in a lot of things which makes it a joy for her to write about different niche. But among all the niches, business and marketing is her favorite. She also gives her audience an idea about hiring a moving company. When she’s not busy writing, Dianne spends her time with her husband Francis and daughter Francinne. This is where she draws inspiration from to continually provide informative blogs to different audience.

 

Lost in Los Cabos, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: “Do you want to take some pictures with a Mexican?” jokingly yelled a man when 5 of us, girls, were walking down the marina of Cabo San Lucas. Five fine girls in an exotic place like Cabo…yeh, we got some attention you can say. But jokes apart, this was my/our first girls-only trip out of the country and we truly devoured every moment of it. This was a much-needed getaway for me and I think, every woman…no matter if you are happy, are going thru tough time, or just need to escape from everything…can use this kind of trip at any phase of your life.

#Cabo in Cabo Marina, Mexico

#Cabo in Cabo Marina, Mexico

Located at the far southern tip of Baja California Sur and filled with natural landmarks around coastline, Cabo is a popular destination in Mexico. I’m not surprised that Cabo San Lucas became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 because of its outstanding cultural value and natural sites which deserve protection for the all humanity. Lots of first-timers and seasoned travelers come here to enjoy its year-round warm weather, adventurous outdoor, every possible water activity, scenic landmarks, and world-class dining/resort experiences. For young travelers, this is also known to be one of the top cities with wild night-life.

A beautiful sunset on Sea of Cortez in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

A beautiful sunset on Sea of Cortez in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Some tips for Cabo that I would like to give the future-travelers are: one, carry US Dollar if you can. No need to carry Mexican Pesos or convert your USD for any reason. They accept USD everywhere and most of the places will give you change in USD also. Credit card is accepted at almost every store and restaurant, except for taxis. But paying by cash may give you better deal on souvenirs or other shopping. Two, be very careful with your ATM card or credit cards. My bank card was swapped with someone intentionally when a man was “helping” me to cancel a bank transaction after I’ve withdrawn some money. Luckily, I noticed within a minute and called Bank of America to stop any transactions. Three, use an ATM machine inside a bank for better rate if you have to take cash out. Standalone ATM machines will charge you sky-rocketing fees to withdraw Pesos from there…avoid that if possible. Four, bargain whenever you are at a shop, unless it’s a fixed price place. They will rise up the price when they know you are a tourist. Whatever the price they ask, start from the half of it and meet at a point where you both will agree. Enjoy this fun process of haggling while in Mexico.

Other than the incident with my ATM card, we felt that Cabo, near downtown and marina, is very safe. We used to go for drinks or snacks and stroll around our resort after midnight and it was absolutely fine. The town doesn’t go to sleep until really late. Just don’t go off road or somewhere shady after dark and try to stay close to the touristy spots as much as you can.

The ride to Cabo San Lucas from the airport is about an hour drive and our private taxi, Easy Cabo Trip, charged $80 one way for five of us. Enjoy the scenic Sierra Mountain range on The Corridor, which is lined with golf courses, resorts, and hotels. We booked the cab ahead of time to avoid any hassle but eventually ended up waiting at the airport for few minutes. Thank God that the airport had free Wi-Fi and I could call the company thru Viber. When the driver arrived, he was extremely nice, friendly, and very helpful. We used the same company, Easy Cabo Trip, to return to airport on the last day and for our day-trip to La Paz and Todos Santos.

Time of Travel: We were in Cabo during the first week of December 2018. Weather is usually very pleasant here around this time of the year…not too hot and not cold at all. But our schedule did get a bit messed up because the sea was rough and bumpy one day and had to push back our boat ride to Land’s End and Sunset Dinner Cruise until the very last day of our stay in Cabo. But other than that, bring your sandals, sunscreens, hats, and cool shades to enjoy the weather to its fullest.

Our Hotel: We stayed in Marina Fiesta Resort and Spa right by the marina. It was a memorable experience with friendly staffs and homely atmosphere. Our rooms were spacious with balconies and huge bathrooms. The resort has 2 swimming pools with bars and all the nice accessories. The roof top hot-tubs are relaxing while you enjoy the view of whole town. We played UNO at night in the lobby once…it’s very spacious with different sections for concierge, hotel check-in, booking trips, a small bar, and lots more.

Fiesta Marina Resort & Spa - our home in Cabo, Mexico

Fiesta Marina Resort & Spa – our home in Cabo, Mexico

The best part of our resort was the location. We couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay in Cabo. Lots and lots of shops and restaurants stretch on both sides of the resorts, the boats and cruise docks are within walking distance, and downtown is only 10 minutes of walk from here. Some of the other tourist attractions were close by too; like Medano Beach is less than 10 minutes’ walk, most of the dance clubs/lounges are within few minutes along with some of the best rated eateries with the view of marina.

Eating & Shopping: Culinary options in Cabo is unlimited and mind-blowing. Street food as well as fine-dine places were superb all way. We couldn’t get enough of fresh ingredients in our dishes and never missed having a big side of guacamole at every meal. Some of my favorite food in Cabo would be (other than guacamole) any shrimp dishes, refried beans in little tostada bowls, tender steaks, Mexican style shrimp cocktail, and any kind of soup. Just be careful with the habanero sauce they give you with tortilla chips…they can be deadly. Also, don’t pass by opportunity to try fresh coconut water if you find a seller…they come in all flavors, but I like mine fresh and pure. Most of the restaurants usually have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Following are all the places where we dined and had great food and would recommend to anyone.

Chilles Rellenos...my 1st lunch dish in Cabo, Mexico in Mango Cantina

Chiles Rellenos…my 1st lunch dish in Cabo, Mexico in Mango Cantina

1st day, we had lunch at Mango Cantina by the marina and very close to our resort, where I tried chiles rellenos which was shrimp stuffed pepper with bean and salad. For drink, I had to have fresh papaya juice and it was delish. Dinner was at a very well-known place, called Mi Casa, near historic San Lucas Church and the town square. This was a bit of walk from the resort (or $10 for cab) but was worth every penny and energy. There is a shop inside the restaurant that sells  “Day of the Dead” figures along with other pretty cool items. Mi Casa gained popularity not only because of providing old Mexican taste, but also for its artistic and quirky interior, beautiful decors, and nice ambiance. With lots of options from seafood to traditional Mexican dishes, everyone will find something they love. I had baked basa fillet wrapped in a banana leaf with sides of beans, and salads. If you are up for it, give a little tip to the mariachi band and listen to some local live music while having a meal.

A very popular restaurant Mi Casa in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

A very popular restaurant Mi Casa in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

2nd day, lunch was at Taco Loco in downtown where the popular bar Cabo Wabo is located. It’s kind of hidden inside a small walled square, but located on the main street of downtown. It was nice to sit outside while trying a Mexican sampler platter. For dinner, we stayed closer to the resort and went to Fisherman’s Landing right by the water. This was a beautiful outdoor place as well with nice views of tons of yachts floating on water at night. The fried jumbo shrimp dish I had was a bit too big and heavy for me. But the highlight of this place is that, if you order guacamole with tortilla chips for appetizer, they will make it right in front of you fresh and quick. For drink, I had virgin pina colada and my friend had freshly squeezed lemonade…both were great.

Our waiter making fresh guacamole for us in Fisherman's Landing in Cabo, Mexico

Our waiter making fresh guacamole for us in Fisherman’s Landing in Cabo, Mexico

3rd day was our day-trip to La Paz and Todos Santos where we had our meals. But on the 4th or last day we were in a bit of rush and had too many things to squeeze in one day. So, we ended up skipping the lunch in San Jose del Cabo and had long awaited dinner in the Sunset Cruise. But we did come out of resort at midnight to have some light stuff. We sat down at La Galeria by the marina. The best shrimp cocktail I ever tried was here and also the best churros. Shrimp cocktail in Mexico is not like the ones we get in The States. The shrimps don’t pathetically dangle from the side of your glass. They are actually mixed in with picco de gallo, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and herbs. Then you mix it with few sauces, depending on the flavor and heat you want and viola…it is mind-blowing. At the end, don’t forget to try hot fried churros with vanilla ice-cream. FYI, Mexican vanilla is way more flavorful and tasty.

Shrimp cocktail in La Galaria in Cabo, Mexico

Shrimp cocktail in La Galeria in Cabo, Mexico

Mexican souvenirs are colorful and fun to shop for. For souvenir hunters, stores in Cabo Marina or in downtown and its surroundings are some good areas. There is a mall near the marina where you can find almost anything. I personally bought Mexican hot-tamarind candies, t-shirts, key-rings, a gecko magnet, Mexican cigar, a hand-made Mexican doll, and Mexican organic ground coffee from Cabo San Lucas. “Day of the Dead” or Día de Muertos figures are almost everywhere and they come in all shapes and colors and sizes. Rugs or hammocks, variety kinds of hot sauces, and clay or wooden potteries are also very popular. The day we went to San Jose del Cabo, I bought couple jewelries made with mother of pearl and coral reef, a hand-painted wooden bowl, a home décor made with clay and metal, few wooden bookmarks, and more Mexican hot-tamarind candies. San Jose offers more of traditional Mexican specialty stores offering unique artwork, ceramics, or even furniture.

Colorful souvenirs of Los Cabos in Mexico

Colorful souvenirs of Los Cabos in Mexico

Again, when shopping here, be sure to bargain unless it’s a fixed price store. If you like something, check other places too and see who gives you a better price and quality.

Places We’ve Visited: We had about 2 ½ days to spend in Cabo and in its surrounding places. One day was left to take a tour to La Paz and Todos Santos (please check the right-side bar for the link). In those couple days, we were able to relax, stroll, shop, look around, and visit some of the must-sees of this town. We couldn’t make it to Chileno Beach and Divorce Beach as some suggested. We saw the 300 hundred years old San Lucas Church (Iglesia de San Lucas) from outside and by the time we got there, it was already closed. It is a historic church of this town and probably worth a visit.

Land's End and The Arch of Cabo in Mexico

Land’s End and The Arch of Cabo in Mexico

Most of these places are very close to each other or accessible by boat, taxi or private shuttle. We didn’t do any adventurous water or outdoor activities, but there are tons of those here if you have time and are up for them. Some of those are scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, parasailing, wave running, kayaking, renting yachts, submarine ride, ATV ride, horseback ride, fishing, whale watching, touring glass factory, and lots more.

  1. Cabo Marina: We arrived Cabo late morning and by the time we checked-in at our resort, it was almost lunch time. We sat down to eat by the marina, only 2 minutes from the resort. After lunch, we went to our room, freshened up, and came back to marina while the sun was still out.

Taking a stroll in Cabo Marina, Mexico

Cabo Marina is one of the thriving spots for tourists and locals. Laced by glamorous stores and mouth-watering restaurants, this is one of the best places for shopping…though you may end up paying high prices. Strolling by the blue water of Sea of Cortez at any time was my most favorite activity here. If you are a sunset or sunrise lover, this place maybe a good spot to enjoy one too, if you can’t get to the beach on time.

Cabo Marina in the evening in Mexico

As I mentioned before, this is a pretty safe place to hang out, even after mid-night. With hundreds of tourists at every corner, this is a 24-hour party place in the heart of Cabo.

Cabo Marina after dark in Mexico

  1. Medano Beach: Medano is nice little beach very close to the marina. We started walking towards the beach in late afternoon and spent little more than half an hour before heading towards downtown. We came back here again on the last day to catch a boat to El Arco.

A late afternoon by the Medano Beach in Cabo, Mexico

  1. Downtown/City Center: Only 20 minutes’ walk from Medano Beach and few minutes from the marina, Downtown is the heart of Cabo and the entertainment hub of the town. This is where most of the well-known bars, and clubs are located. The streets of downtown are always very lively and vibrant with countless eye-catching places. You may find small complexes where boutique shops and classy restaurants hide away from the main chaos of downtown…these were definitely fun to explore.
Street art in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Street art in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

We came across world’s smallest bar while roaming around the downtown. Too bad we didn’t get any drink from there. Not sure, how true this claim is…but hey, if the sign says “World Smallest Bar”, then it is the world’s smallest bar. Oh while you are in downtown or near the marina, enjoy the street arts, take some photos, and appreciate the creativity.

World's Small Bar in Downtown Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

World’s Small Bar in Downtown Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

If you get a chance and see a vendor, try doing a fish pedicure. I had my first fish pedicure in Santorini, Greece and I was sort of craving for another tickling service done to my feet. It’s $15 for 15 minutes where you sink your feet in a tank with hundreds of fish. They will come rushing to your feet for yummy meal…quite an experience for any first-timer.

A small square we found while walking around Downtown Cabo in Mexico

A small square we found while walking around Downtown Cabo in Mexico

The nightlife of Cabo is one of the hottest in whole North America with glittering clubs and bars bursting with loud music. You can feel the energy on the streets too while passing by these places. Good part is that most of these clubs have no cover fees. So just go and enjoy the music, if it’s not your type of place…hop to the next one.

Loved those stores in Downtown Cabo, Mexico

Loved those stores in Downtown Cabo, Mexico

  1. Land’s End, Arch of Cabo (El Arco), and Lover’s Beach (Playa del Amante): We came to these places on our very last day in Cabo. The most iconic landmark of Cabo is the Arch of Cabo or El Arco. Sitting on clear turquoise water of Sea of Cortez against deep blue sky, this is probably the most photographed spot of this town.
Boat ride to El Arco in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Boat ride to El Arco in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

We bought the boat ticket to Lover’s Beach from a lady near the marina. It was $12 per person (it was $15…but we bargained) for a glass-bottom boat ride where you can look at the sea thru a glass bottom on the boat. I would highly recommend it to anyone, because we saw tons of colorful fish on both ways. On our way, the ride was about 45 minutes and they took us to show the Pelican Island, Sea-Lion Island, Land’s End and finally dropped off to Lover’s Beach.

Lover's Beach or Playa del Amor in Cabo, Mexico

Lover’s Beach or Playa del Amor in Cabo, Mexico

Land’s End is known for the exceptionally stunning views because of its gigantic clustered rock formations that were created from the rough wind and sea. This is the extreme southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.

30 million years old rock formation of Lover's Beach in Cabo, Mexico

30 million years old rock formation of Lover’s Beach in Cabo, Mexico

Playa del Amor or Lover’s Beach is an iconic beach in Cabo San Lucas which is framed by 30 million years old granite rocks. This is a stunning but a bit dangerous spot because of its deadly rip current. So, be careful when you get dropped off here. Rip currents are strong here because this is where Sea of Cortez meets Pacific Ocean. Nevertheless, not visiting this beach in Cabo will be like going to Paris and not visiting Eiffel Tower. But there are men at the beach who will take your belongings and help you get down from the boat and to the beach safely; just don’t jump on the water thinking it’s shallow. We spent about an hour at this beach before heading back to Cabo main town again. I got a bit too sick from the small boat ride on rough water to actually enjoy the beautiful rock formation, blue water, and the warm weather. And therefore, couldn’t go towards Divorce Beach at all.

  1. San Jose del Cabo: We kind of squeezed this trip to San Jose in between our morning trip to Land’s End and evening Sunset Cruise on Day 4. From Cabo San Lucas, it was about 40 minutes ride towards the airport on the scenic Corridor. So, we had no time for lunch at all, but it was all worth it. Each way to and from San Jose is $40 USD (or about 800 Pesos) if you take a cab. We were dropped off near the main square and spent barely couple hours roaming around this quiet town…or at least it was very quiet when we were there.
On our way to San Jose del Cabo on The Corridor in Cabo, Mexico

On our way to San Jose del Cabo on The Corridor in Cabo, Mexico

San Jose del Cabo is the older part of this region and a bit colonial style with its old buildings and few squares. There are few nearby small beaches to explore, but we didn’t have time to visit those in our short visit. San Jose del Cabo also has some modern and fancy resorts on the other side of the town for those who like to stay close to the airport.

A tiny and colorful square in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

A tiny and colorful square in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

We started with taking a very brief visit to Municipality Building or City Hall of San Jose, located in the main square. It was open and charged no fees. It’s a simple building with couple murals on walls. Cathedral of San Jose or Mission of San Jose del Cabo Anuiti is situated in the same square. Cathedral is also simple inside with elegant exterior. This mission was founded in April of 1730. But the present façade dates from the first years of 20th century.

Cathedral in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

Cathedral in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico

The square was very quiet without too many tourists or locals. We checked out few shops and bought some stuff before going back to the taxi who brought us here.

  1. Sunset Dinner Cruise: This is a very popular activity in Cabo and many companies offer tickets for this with various options. You can get buffet options, with or without on-board performances, bottomless drinks, and etc. We got our tickets with Caborey that same morning from the same lady who sold us boat ticket to Land’s End, near the marina. We chose dinner with show and live performances and it was $97 per person. The price included unlimited free drinks, dinner, and one of a kind live performance.
Our "Caborey" Sunset Cruise in Cabo, Mexico

Our “Caborey” Sunset Cruise in Cabo, Mexico

The whole cruise was about 2 ½ hours. The upper deck was to enjoy the surrounding water and landscapes and two lower decks for elegant dinner and show. This was a fantastic experience as long as you don’t get any sea-sickness. The boat started little before the sunset and so did live music. We stayed on the upper deck to experience an utterly breathtaking sunset over Gulf of California. The boat took us to the Arch of Cabo. With a velvety red and orange sky in the backdrop, the whole sea looked magical. We got to see the Lover’s Beach, the Arch, and Lands’ End all over again in different lights. Oh yes, if you are there with your partner/spouse…PLEASE, enjoy the sunset together, holding each other in your arms, because you’ll regret later big time if you miss that opportunity.

Live music on the deck of Caborey in Cabo, Mexico

Live music on the deck of Caborey in Cabo, Mexico

After sunset, it was dinner time. We chose combination platter and therefore, were served with sautéed shrimp and steak with mashed potato and salad. And a plate of dessert with hot beverage came afterwards.

Iconic El Arco or The Arch of Cabo from Sunset cruise in Cabo, Mexico

Iconic El Arco or The Arch of Cabo from Sunset cruise in Cabo, Mexico

The last portion of the cruise was the live traditional performance. It included high-energy Mexican folk dances and songs, drums, Argentinian Tango, Argentinian weight on rope show, and some more. This was the main attraction and all of us enjoyed every single show.

Traditional Mexican folk dance in Sunset cruise in Cabo, Mexico

Traditional Mexican folk dance in Sunset cruise in Cabo, Mexico

Winter Wonderland in Leavenworth, WA

Visiting Leavenworth in Washington was on our list for a while, especially around the Christmas/holiday time. This town brought back some sweet memories of small villages of Europe because of its charms and cozy setups.

Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth is German village at the foothill of the Cascades. Its Bavarian style half-timbered colorful houses give this town an enchanting look. Shops and cafes along the road-sides and round the year activities attract thousands of visitors each year. Leavenworth is a popular getaway in Pacific Northwest because of magical Christmas lighting and other winter activities/sports.

Christmas lighting in Leavenworth, WA

If you are planning to stay in Leavenworth during summer break or winter holiday season, be sure to book your hotel ahead of time (way ahead maybe). We stayed in Ellensburg, WA, which was about an hour away from Leavenworth.

Artistic places of Leavenworth in Washington

Artistic places of Leavenworth in Washington

If you are planning to have either lunch or dinner in Downtown Leavenworth, try to make a reservation at a restaurant or cafe in at least couple hours before you are ready to eat. During lunch or dinner time, it gets pretty crazy with long lines, and waiting time in restaurants were at least 2 hours. We ended up having some pretzels and danishes at a bakery. Then made an early reservation at a Mongolian place, called Wok About Grill for dinner. But if time and energy allow, do try some Bavarian style food here, like schnitzel and brats and etc. One final tip about visiting Leavenworth in December is that, make sure to wear few layers of clothes with heavy jacket with other winter gears. It came down to 8 or 9 degree Fahrenheit when we were there.

Bavarian style houses in Leavenworth, WA

Bavarian style houses in Leavenworth, WA

We spent only few hours in the heart of Leavenworth to go around and to enjoy the Christmas lighting and festive atmosphere the town has to offer. I do plan to go back there during summer sometime soon. For now, these are the few places we’ve visited in Leavenworth.

  1. Downtown: This is the heart and soul of Leavenworth. Laced by lots of boutique stores and gourmet restaurants, downtown is the place where the stunning holiday lighting takes place every year. All the cafes and shops will catch your eyes with its decorations or names or their unique products. If you don’t want to be trapped by the crowd near the stores, enjoy the kids sledding on snow from a tiny hill near the gazebo or just sit down with a cup of hot chocolate to enjoy all the alpine beauties all around the city.

Christmas lighting in Downtown Leavenworth, WA

2. Nutcracker Museum: This is one of the coolest and fun museums we’ve been to. With more than 6,000 nut cracking devices, some dating back from the Roman time, this place will definitely make its guests excited.

The Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth, WA

The Nutcracker Museum in Leavenworth, WA

The museum won’t take more an hour to visit and the ticket is only $5 per person. Watch the video before the tour to know more about the nutcrackers and its amazing history. Also, check out the souvenir shop before leaving which has some pre-owned and new nutcrackers from Germany and China. These nutcrackers come in different shapes, sizes, and colors…have fun choosing one for you or the loved ones.

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3. Waterfront Park: This is probably not very popular place to visit in December. We took a little walk along the Wenatchee River. It is probably one of the best kept secrets of this town.

Waterfront Park in Leavenworth, WA

Waterfront Park in Leavenworth, WA

Only few minutes from the main streets in downtown, this Waterfront Park is a quiet place with few trails and a bridge. I can imagine this place in summer time with incredible sceneries and fun outdoor activities.

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