Monthly Archives: April 2017

A journey through San Francisco

San Francisco was the epicentre of the Summer of Love, a movement intent on changing the foundations of American society forever. Half a century later, Tamara Hinson journeys through the city to discover how much of that hedonistic era still lingers. 

In Haight-Ashbury, a Bob Marley track blares from Amoeba Music, an independent bookstore. Nearby, fragrant clouds of smoke billow from an apartment above a street art-adorned smoke shop.

Modern-day hipsters are slowly replacing those in the neighbourhood with the closest ties to 1967’s Summer of Love. But look closely and you’ll still see reminders: in the tie-dye filled windows of Love on Haight, a glitter pot-filled store owned by Sunny Powers, a local woman whose motto is “Never be afraid to sparkle”. And in Jammin on Haight, an explosion of psychedelic T-shirts and Grateful Dead music posters.

The Grateful Dead’s former publicist, Dennis McNally, is the man behind On the Road to the Summer of Love, an exhibition helping refresh the memories of those with little recollection of that heady, marijuana-fragranced summer, 50 years on.

One of the stranger exhibits at the California Historical Society’s exhibition is a sheet of LSD. Its owner avoided prosecution by claiming his glass-covered sheet of class A drugs was clearly for display, not consumption.

It’s one of several events commemorating the 50th anniversary of 1967’s Summer of Love, when more than 100,000 activists, artists and entrepreneurs flocked to the city to change the world with music, art and positive vibes. They protested about the Vietnam War, set up organic food movements and sang about healing the world. And, as the LSD exhibit suggests, they got high.

Best routes in Canada

Rugged and vast, Canada is a road-trippers dream. Driving gives you the freedom to travel at your own pace – pull over and drink in the scenery along the way or break up the journey with hiking and kayaking.

Whether you’re into mountains, beaches or urban heritage, here are five of our favourite routes.

 

1. The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

The Cabot Trail loops 298km around the north of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The route winds along the coast for much of its length with viewpoints overlooking the North Atlantic.

Locals tout fall as the best time to travel, but the dramatic landscapes of Cape Breton Highlands National Park look good throughout the year. Moose roam the park, where walking trails give you the opportunity to stretch your legs and breathe in the crisp sea air.

Islanders here are proud of their French-influenced Acadian heritage and Celtic ancestry, and love to celebrate it with loud live music in local pubs. Experience it in Chéticamp, a fishing village where you can tuck into locally landed lobster and seasonal seafood.

Be sure to park up in Pleasant Bay and join a cruise to spot whales and seals, and don’t miss the chance to kick off your shoes on the sand close to Ingonish.

 

2. The Icefields Parkway, Alberta

You can motor along the 232km route of the Icefields Parkway in just four hours, but that wouldn’t do justice to the magnificence of the woodland wilderness, waterfalls and jagged mountains either side of the highway.

This route runs between Banff and Jasper, cutting through the Rocky Mountains and skirting through two national treasures, Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. They are the home to the vast Columbia Icefield. Learn about the region’s geology during guided hikes on the Athabasca and Saskatchewan glaciers.

Overnighting at one of Jasper National Park’s campsites means being able to stare at constellations in one of the world’s biggest dark sky reserves.

On sunny days, the sight of snow-capped mountains and blue skies reflecting on the surfaces of the Peyto and Waterfowl will have any keen photographer stopping every five minutes.

The otherworldly landscapes of Namibia

From the spectacular dunes of the Namib Desert to the serpentine chasm of the Fish River Canyon, the rugged mountains of the Great Escarpment to the acacia-studded sands of the Kalahari, Namibia has no shortage of stunning landscapes.

Desert and semi-desert covers most of the country, but Namibia is far from devoid of life. The wetter northern strip hosts Etosha, one of Africa’s premier national parks, brimming with lions, rhinos and elephants, while the rivers – including the majestic Zambezi – mark the nation’s northern and southern borders and promise glorious sunsets and exotic birdlife.

To celebrate the release of The Rough Guide to Namibia, author Sara Humphreys has picked fifteen of the country’s most incredible landscapes.

 

1. Dead Vlei in Namib-Naukluft National Park

Featured in many a wildlife documentary, the giant sculpted apricot dunes round Sossusvlei are justifiably one of the country’s major attractions. Not only are they extremely high, but they magically change colour in the early morning and late afternoon light.

At the foot of “Big Daddy” – the area’s tallest dune, and a deceptively long climb – lies Dead Vlei, an eerie, white clay pan dotted with skeletal trees several hundred years old.

 

2. Kwando River

More than 450 bird species inhabit the lush, sub-tropical Zambezi Region, Namibia’s curious panhandle that stretches across the top of Botswana.

Head for one of the idyllic lodges along the beautiful Kwando River, which meanders through the Bwabwata, Mudumu and Nkasa Rupara national parks. The parks offer an enticing mix of woodland, reed beds and floodplains, brimming with spectacular birdlife and home to hippos, crocs, buffalo and rare antelope.

Best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you’d rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are the best places to travel alone.

 

1. Lombok and the Gili Islands, Indonesia

Not as overrun as Bali, its more famous neighbour, Lombok is gaining a sterling reputation with independent travellers who want to learn to surf, snorkel or dive in beautiful, clear waters. Inland, the lush green paddy fields stretch to the massive Gunung Rinjani volcano with its waterfalls and hot springs. The three tiny but increasingly popular Gili Islands off Lombok’s northwest coast are easy to access – Trawangan is where the party’s at.

 

2. Cuba

The Cuban capital of Havana conjures images of crumbling colonial architecture, 1950s Chevys, salsa and cigars. However, with the political scene inside Cuba shifting, private enterprise is being encouraged and small businesses across the country are opening and expanding. Now is a great time to visit those tiny back street restaurants and artisan shops. Homestays have always been characteristic of travel in Cuba, and this, along with low crime, means going it alone is safe and rewarding.

Not sure where to start? Check out our list of 23 things not to miss in Cuba.

 

3. Guatemala

If you’re looking for the best places to travel alone in Central and South America, don’t overlook Guatemala and its ancient Maya ruins. It’s an inexpensive place to travel, which means you could stay for a while to learn Spanish or even volunteer. Come here for adventure activities like hiking, kayaking and whitewater rafting – and to explore the jungle and get up close and personal with Central America’s most active volcano. Haggling for fresh produce in one of the country’s colourful markets is an adventure in itself.

The ways to lose the crowds

Yellowstone. The name alone conjures images of grizzly bears, bubbling moonscapes and the frontiers of the Old West. But in the face of surging visitor numbers – a record 4.25 million in 2016 – you’re now just as likely to see crowds.

It’s no surprise, considering the world’s first national park has long been a wish-list staple, though it does make getting away from it all more difficult. Here’s how you can forge your own path in America’s greatest wilderness.

 

1. Go off-road

There’s an old saying in Yellowstone: 97 percent of visitors use three percent of the park. Whether or not that’s still strictly true these days, you’re definitely going to find yourself with company if you solely stick to the roads. Instead, ditch the tarmac and traipse the trails.

Try the route to Trout Lake, an easy half-mile track that’s perfect for first-timers. After a short, steep climb through dense forest, you’ll come across a lake with a surface as smooth as glass. Watch bison grazing beneath the snow-dusted peak of Mount Hornaday, and look out for black bear prints around the rim.

 

2. Avoid peak season

There are plenty of reasons why summer is a magnet for the masses – not least more reliable weather, longer days and the opportunity to try llama trekking. But you shouldn’t underestimate the crowds, particularly if you’re hoping for an escape from the hubbub. In 2016, more than a quarter of the park’s annual visitors were recorded in the month of July.

If you’re after a quiet break, try visiting another time. Spring is best for wildlife, with baby animals galore and both grizzly and black bears descending from the mountains. Winter is ideal for adventurous types, as most roads close and you’ll have to get around using snowmobiles and skis.