Travelling through Peru? Sandboarding in Huacachina is a dream come true for adrenaline junkies with a need for speed.
Over the course of 3 hours you’ll race through the desert in sand buggies, bomb headfirst down some of the steepest slopes in the region and watch a spectacular sunset sink beneath the horizon.
Sherryll Catindig gets ready for her first slope in Huacachina, Peru
Tours cost from 40 soles (£10) and include transportation – which is just as fun as the sandboarding itself – equipment, hostel pick-up and guides. The instructors at Desert Adventures are great, going beyond the call of duty to show you a good time.
Sandboarding in Huacachina, Peru - Sandbuggies in Huacachina - Fabulous Travel Guide
Fancy skipping the buggy rides? Hire your own board and hike up to the top on foot. See more pictures of sandboarding and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for more travel updates.
Huacachina sand dunes, Peru - Pictures of Huacachina, Ica - Fabulous Travel Guide
Planning a trip to Cartagena in Colombia? Dedicate a couple of days to Playa Blanca – a beautiful stretch of sand on Isla de Baru.
The crystal clear water and coral reef is great for snorkelling so make sure you take your own equipment. Most travellers end up staying overnight in hammocks for just 7,000 cops (£2.35) and spending lazy evenings in one of the few candlelit restaurants.
Locals will try and sell you everything, from full body massages to handwoven hammocks. You will be constantly pestered – and prodded! – so be firm and politely decline.
When you’re not splashing around, try the fresh cerviche for 8,000 cops (£2.70) or treat yourself to a pinacolada (10,000 cops). It may be a little overpriced but you can’t get much more Caribbean than drinking out of a coconut shell…
Get down to the port for around 8am. Tickets to Playa Blanca cost from 30,000 cops (£10) and include transport both ways. You’ll also need to pay 12,000 cops in tax.
Make sure you arrange a time and place of pickup and if you’re travelling in a group try and get a discount. Boats usually leave at 9am so hang around until you hear your name called out so you get on the correct boat!
Tayrona National Park, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, is a breathtaking combination of rugged jungle, looming mountains and crashing waves.
One minute you’re hiking through the mud listening to howler monkeys swing through the trees, the next you’re strolling along white-sand beaches and taking snaps of crocodiles lurking in the rivers.
Tayrona National Park - Beaches at Tayrona National Park - Fabulous Travel Guide
How to get there
Catch a local bus from Santa Marta for 5,000 cops (£1.60 – approx 1 hour) or get a private minibus for 15,000 cops (£5- 30 mins) – these operate from both Taganga and Santa Marta. Entry costs just 35,000 (£11) and you’re free to stay as long as you want.
Where to stay
If you fancy staying overnight (highly recommended!) then you need to get there early. Hammocks and tents cost from 10,000 cops (£3). We loved Don Pedro, the first campsite you arrive at. It’s a 10 minute walk from the beach but the restaurant serves decent food (fish, chicken, rice and beans) and cold beers.
Don Pedro campsite - Tayrona National Park, Colombia - Fabulous Travel Guide
Cabo San Juan De Guia is another good option and close to Cabo beach – arguably the best in Tayrona. There’s a restaurant overlooking the beach, a football pitch and plenty of space to pitch a tent.
Don’t fancy trekking back to the entrance in the morning? Hire a horse for around 35,000 cops (£11).
Travelling around Colombia? Taganga is a great base for exploring the Caribbean coast. Hit the beach or learn to scuba dive. Follow me on Twitter for more updates!
If you thought Lanquin was pretty, gear yourself up for Lake Atitlan – another one of Guatemala‘s hidden gems. Surrounded by volcanoes and shrouded in mystery, this dramatic region is as breathtaking as it is unique.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala - What to do in Lake Atitlan - Fabulous Travel Guide
Where to stay
Lots of backpackers choose to stay in San Pedro (pictured below) where there’s cheap accommodation, great Spanish schools and a lively bar scene. Those looking for a more tranquil vibe should head to San Marcos where impromptu yoga classes spring up on the cliff tops. Love to shop? Panachel is packed full of souvenir stores and boutiques.
San Pedro, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala – Fabulous Travel Guide
What to do
* Brush up on your Spanish skills
If your Spanish is a bit rusty, why not take a class? Lake Atitlan has some of the cheapest schools in Central America. San Pedro Spanish School is one of our favourites with sunny classrooms and professional teachers. Five days is just $70 – and you get 4 hours per day, one-on-one tuition.
* Go cliff jumping in San Marcos
Throw yourself off a 10m-high platform (pictured below) into Lake Atitlan. The stunning backdrop of volcanoes makes for a fantastic photo.
* Hike San Pedro Volcano
Love treking? Climb the beautiful San Pedro Volcano and experience some of the best views in Central America. Make sure you take a guide – robberies have been reported on some of the trails.
* Relax in thermal springs
Enjoy fantastic views of the lake as you laze around in thermal pools in San Pedro.
Planning a trip to Central America? With so many beaches to visit, both on the Pacific and the Caribbean, you’ll be hard pushed to see them all. So we’ve come up with a list of must-see places:
1) Caye Caulker, Belize
Head to The Split in Caye Caulker and enjoy a cold beer on a picnic bench in the sea. Don’t miss the snorkelling trips from Raggamuffin Tours – they’re the best on the island!
The Split, Caye Caulker, Belize - Fabulous Travel Guide
2) Playa El Tunco, El Salvador
The black sand beaches on the coast of El Salvador are a welcome change from the rest of Central America. Make sure you hire a surf board and hit those waves – they attract surfers from all over the world.
Playa El Tunco, El Salvador - Picture of the Week - Fabulous Travel Guide
3) Tulum, Mexico
The Mayan ruins in Tulum are perched 39ft above sea level on a cliff overlooking the sea. Get there early to catch the sunrise and avoid the tourists.
Best beaches - Tulum, Mexico - Fabulous Travel Guide
4) San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
There are several beaches in San Juan del Sur – all great for keen surfers. We love the local beach for its spectacular sunsets and chilled out vibe.
San Juan del Sur - Best beaches in Central America - Fabulous Travel Guide
5) Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Playa Tamarindo stretches as far as the eye can see – making it great for those who like their own space. It’s also a great place to party and meet fellow travellers.
Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica - Best beaches in Central America - Fabulous Travel Guide
Planning a trip to Sweden? Book a stay at the ICEHOTEL and experience the infamous Northern Lights from one of the best spots in the world.
Located just 200km north of the Arctic Circle in a small village called Jukkasjarvi, this hotel is said to offer its guests the best possible chance to witness this incredible phenomenon – a spectacle of dancing colours in the mid-winter darkness.
Northern Lights – Sweden – Fabulous travel guide
Guided tours leave the hotel at 11pm every night and return by 2am. Locations vary, depending on the weather. Reservations can be booked on the day (before 10pm).
When you’re not catching a guided Northern Lights tour at midnight, there’s plenty to explore at the hotel. Brave the freezing temperatures in your very own ice room (pictured), take an ice sculpting class or mingle with guests at the ABSOLUT ICEBAR JUKKASJÄRVI while sipping colourful ice drinks.
Best time to go
The best time to see the Northern Lights is between mid August and mid April. January has the highest number of clear days and in percent the lowest average cloudiness – the essential precondition to be able to view the Northern Lights.
With both South West Four and LED taking place over the bank holiday weekend, it was always going to be difficult to choose between them.
Fortunately, I bagged tickets for both festivals, and I even managed to squeeze in a little trip to Notting Hill on the Monday.
So which was better? LED kicked off in Victoria Park on Friday, with Calvin Harris and David Guetta headlining the first night. With two main stages, it was a more intimate affair than SW4 but the atmosphere was electric, the sun was out and the drinks were surprisingly cheap.
South West Four monopolized the majority of the south London crowd over the weekend, taking over Clapham Common for an almighty rave that saw thousands of music lovers flock through the gates each day.
Aside from the fact it poured with rain just as everyone was queueing to get in, and the toilets were in a permanent state of disarray (I saw one girl actually batter down a door) it proved to be a brilliant day.
Once the clouds had scurried across the horizon there were blue skies and relieved faces. The dance tents came to life, changing DJs in quick succession, while the main stage played host to a whole raft of big name DJs including Fat Boy Slim, Kissy Sell Out and Uffie.
South West Four festival | SW4 | Fabulous travel guide
So which was better? It’s pretty hard to decide to be honest. My advice? Get a Friday ticket for LED, a Sunday ticket for South West Four, and leave Saturday to recover. Perfect.
Got bank holiday blues? Book a last-minute trip to Ibiza for the closing parties and visit the zoo – arguably the best place on the island. Go on, you know you want to…