Our Favorite Travel Destinations on water, Part 1

 Eastern Caribbean CruiseSt. Maarten

Several Cruise lines have itineraries for the Eastern Caribbean.  We think this journey should include these islands: St. Thomas, US; St. John, US; Anguilla, UK; the fascinating of St Martin, France/Sint Maarten, Netherlands; and Antigua.

Most sailings will embark and disembark from San Jose Puerto Rico.  Renowned for their pristine white sand beaches, Azure, sapphire, turquoise waters, gentle breezes, and coral reefs bursting with tropical fish, each island has it own character, history and culture.

St. Thomas and St. John offers a US approach to Caribbean living, dining and entertainment with some of the best shopping in the region.  While French St. Martin offers numerous dining options, Dutch St. Maarten offers expansive shopping.St. Martin

The best snorkeling and coral reefs are on St Thomas and St. Martin.  Most islands have great inland hiking trails with spectacular scenic overlooks, lots of flora and fauna.

High season is typically December to April.  Summers can get very hot and humid. Summer and fall are often hurricane season but the ships are great about rerouting out of harms way.

Resources:  Windstar Cruises, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity

Duration: usually 7, 10 to 14 days.

Lake Titicaca, Peru/Bolivia, South AmericaLake-Titicaca

If you traveling in the region, Peru or Bolivia, plan to spend a few days and nights in one of the larger Cities, like Puno, Peru or Copacabana, Bolivia on Lake Titicaca.  Better yet, a night or two at the Ecolodge La Estancia on the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) closer to Copacabana and La Paz, Bolivia.  Discover the ancient ruins on the island.

At just over 13,000 feet, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable Lake in the world.  Day trip to the islands are plentiful from both Peru and Bolvia shoreline resort towns.  Each of the islands has its own culture with colorful local costumes in the villages and markets.

Close to shore you will see massive beds of reeds.  Just beyond will be islas flotantes, floating island, the traditional homes of the Uro people, who have lived on these island dating back to the Incas.  Keep and eye out for the traditional totoro reed boats made from bundled lake reeds lashed together to make canoe-like boats, the local transportation for the Uro.

Try the typical local dishes like Alpaca steak, fish from the lake or roasted guinea pig.

Do not miss the night sky.  It was literally like being in the best and biggest planetarium on earth.night

Best time to go is between May and October.  Be prepared for extreme changes in temps.  Intense sun during the day and close to freezing by night.  Electric power is inconsistent.  A flashlight is essential.

Resources:  www.peru.info.com, www.peru-explorer.com, www.kensingtontours.com, www.viator.com/lake-titicaca, www.amazonadventures.com/lake-Titicaca

Yangtze River, The Three Gorges, China

The Yangtze River is one of the longest rivers in the world.  Its length is 3,915 miles long starting in the Tibetan Plateau and ending in the East China Sea.

three gorgesAdd a 3-4-5 day river cruise to any China trip and enjoy the journey from one of the 4 and 5 star ships.  Cruises travel West from Chongqing, Yichang, Wuhan and Jingzhou or East upriver in reverse.yangtze

The highlight will be the 150 stretch or the river Three Gorges region where the gorge walls tower 610 feet above the river and 1.3 miles from bank to bank.  Depending on your ship choice, it will take four to five hours to pass through five locks.

There are a wide variety of side trips available, small boat trips to pristine tributaries, shopping excursions, theater and entertainment venues, major museums, small villages and temples.

Depending on your tour choice, you journey may be part of a longer China journey from companies like Grand Circle, Uniworld, Tauck, Avalon Waterways or Viking Cruises.  Or put your own trip together and book you river portion directly with Victoria Cruises (our choice), Orient Royal Cruises, or many others.

Best time to travel is Spring or Autumn or anytime in between but it will be warmer.

The Mekong River

The Mekong River’s source is a spring in the mountains of Tibet that flows 2500 miles through six countries: Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, China, Myanmar (Burma) and Vietnam.mekong laos

There are a variety of ways to travel the river.  It can be in conjunction with other travel to each country, or several countries, or a day trip, or a river journey.  Intrepid travels often hire a raft to

We have traveled on the Mekong independently by hiring a fast long boat in Thailand for a wonderful ride zipping up the river to a remote village where we then hired elephant for a trek into the rain forest and a remote stilt village where we had a home cooked Thai lunch before retuning to the comfort of a 5 star hotel.

We sailed twice more on the Mekong, first in Vietnam as part of a small organized tour (16).  It was a wide, beautiful, peaceful day trip past remote village, incredible scenery and lots of wildlife. And just last year in Laos, from the World Heritage site, Louangphrabang upriver to Pak-Ou, an amazing limestone cavern to see hundreds of Buddha statues of all shape, sizes and ages.mekong cave

Other highlights were the riverside villages, one with one of the largest bells in the world that you can actually climb into, ancient temples, fishermen and gleeful children everywhere.

Go during the cool, dry season, December to February.

Backwaters of Kerala, India

keralaKerala is an incredibly beautiful part of South India, a chain of brackish lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea.  Partly man made, partly natural, at the confluence of 38 rivers.  A largely agricultural and fishing region where the lagoons are used to transport goods and services to the numerous villages.

Fresh water is used for irrigation while the brackish and salt water are used for fishing.  The local folks of all ages use the canals and lagoons as streets and highways.

The main event for travelers is to hire a houseboat with crew for as many days as you would like.  The boats are mainly former rice boats that have been converted into house boats for tourists and travelers.  They are particularly popular for couples celebrating a honeymoon or a romantic getaway.kerala-backwater-trip

They come in all shapes and sizes.  Ours was part of the royal fleet with two decks, a handful of private rooms with en-suite facilities, a chef and crew.  The food was fresh daily and prepared to perfection (usually very spicy/hot).  The local tiger prawns were amazing.

It’s a great way to take a break from the sensory overload India often offers.  Floating along the byways, observing a simpler rural lifestyle, post card sunrises and cocktails by sunsets.Kerala fishing news

The best time to go is November to February.  Avoid the monsoon season, March to October.  Insect repellant is essential.

Resources: www.india tourism.com, www.keralagreenery.com, www.ktdc.com, www.oattravel.com

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