Exploring the Rugged Mountain Ranges of Southern Namibia

Southern Namibia is a vast, arid region with landscapes ranging from the desolate Namib in the west to the rolling Kalahari dunes in the east. The gravel plains merging with the horizon, rugged mountains and fascinating geological features will enchant you. Although stark and forbidding, the terrain is especially attractive…

Las Vegas: a City that Defies All Odds

Las Vegas is situated in the United States, in the western state of Nevada; rising like an oasis from the Mojave Desert, this city of over a million people enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year. If ever there was a city that shouldn’t be, it’s Las Vegas. Starting life…

Exploring the Rugged Mountain Ranges of Southern Namibia

Southern Namibia is a vast, arid region with landscapes ranging from the desolate Namib in the west to the rolling Kalahari dunes in the east.

The gravel plains merging with the horizon, rugged mountains and fascinating geological features will enchant you.

Although stark and forbidding, the terrain is especially attractive during the early morning and late afternoon when pastel shades soften the landscape.

Keetmanshoop and Luderitz are the only major towns in this sparsely populated region where distances between small settlements are great. The south is well suited to small-stock farming, and most of Namibia’s sheep are found here – the black-headed  Dorper are reared for mutton; karakul are bred or their pelts.

Most visitors explore central and northern Namibia, so tourism in the south is fairly low-key. Recently, however, several guest farms have sprung up in the region which offer visitors an opportunity to discover lesser known scenic attractions and the local way of life.

Attractions of the area range from spectacular geological features such as Brukkaros, an extinct volcano, to the awe-inspiring Fish River Canyon, the second largest in the world, to the Quiver Tree Forest near Keetmanshoop. Along the desolate west coast lies Luderitz with its romantic history of diamonds, its ghost villages and beautiful German colonial architecture.

For the adventurous, there is the tough Fish River Canyon Backpacking Trail, or the challenge of the white-water canoeing on the Orange River.

Read more
5 Places to Discover in Faro, Portugal

Despite its off-putting suburbs, Faro at heart is a lively place whose old quarter has one of the most elegant squares in the Algarve. This walking tour is best done in the relative cool of the morning. Allow 2 hours.

1. Rua Muzinho de Albuquerque

The streets in this area are named after Portuuguese writers and poets, and the street signs, made of attractive tiles, give short biographical details of each. The area has some interesting buildings, including the astonishing Vivenda Mardlia, on the corner of Rua Almeida Garret, an ochre-coloured creation of fantastic decoration. At the end of the street, Alfarrabista is a bookshop in the old tradition.

2. Teatro Lethe

Formerly the Jesuit college of Santiago Maior, today this building houses occasional exhibitions – and one of the Algarve’s greatest treasures, the Teatro Lethe, During office hours, enquire from the concierge if you can see the teatro, por favor, and you should be escorted to the tiny ornate masterpiece – a reproduction in miniature of Milan’s opera house, La Scala.

3. Largo do Carmo

To one side is the Baroque Igreja do Carmo, the Carmelite Church, whose cemetery contains the macabre Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones). Nearby is the smaller Igreja do Sao Pedro.

Take Rua Filipe Alistao – looking out for the traditional grocer’s store at No.26 – and cross the small square to reach the busy pedestrianised shopping streets which lead to the harbour. Turn right for Praca Francisco Gomes and the palm trees of the Jardim Manuel Bivar.

4. Museo Maritimo

For the best view of the harbour walk out of the Museu Maritimo (Maritime Museum). The harmonious frontage of harbourside buildings is thanks to one of the city’s most prominent citizens – Francisco Gomes de Avelar, Bishop of Faro in the late 18th century – under whos instructions much of the town was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755.

5. Largo da Se

Elegant Rua do Municipio climbs to the picturesque Largo da Se, dominated by the cathedral (open weekends 10am – noon) and the Paco Episcopal (Bishop’s Palace). Follow the narrow streets to the statue of Alfonso III guarding the Museu Arqueologico.

Leave the old town via the restored Arco de Repouso, where you can see a bronze casting of the city’s Moorish charter. To the right is the vast Largo de Sao Francisco and its church. Turn left along Rua Jose Bandeiro.

6. Rua Jose Bandeiro

Beneath the walls a low plaque of azulejos depicts the Tomada de Faro – the reconquest of the city from the Moors by the Christians in 1249. On the corner behind stands a remarkable Art Nouveau-styled decorative building.

Continue along Rua Manuel Belmarco to join Rua de Santo Antonio, the main shopping street, which leads back to Praca da Liberdade and the Museu de Etnografia Regional.

Read more
Las Vegas: a City that Defies All Odds

Las Vegas is situated in the United States, in the western state of Nevada; rising like an oasis from the Mojave Desert, this city of over a million people enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year.

If ever there was a city that shouldn’t be, it’s Las Vegas. Starting life as a windswept watering-hole on the pioneer trail, this is a city that continually beat the odds. Over the decades Las Vegas grew into a kind of neon Camelot, whose casinos and rat-pack style has become almost legendary. But if your ideas about Las Vegas look like an old super 8 movie, prepare to be blown away, and I mean really blown away!

This is not just a city, the Las Vegas of the 21st century is like visiting another planet, a pleasure planet. It’s a total escapist fantasy – everyone is here for a good time from grandma Joe to superstars.

Whatever you want, you can have it here – looking for a taste of classic Vegas ghettio? Head down-town to Freeman street and into a world of old-school cocktail lounges, piano bars and classic casinos.

Ok, now it’s time to hit the strip! If everything’s big in Vegas, it’s a hundred times bigger here. We’re not talking casinos anymore – we’re talking mythical cities, whole worlds geared around you having the time of your life.

Whatever move floats your boat, you’ll find it here. Fancy three days of unbelievable indulgence? Say Bonjourno to the Ballagio and her incredible dancing fountains. Step back in time with the luxury of Ceaser’s palace – this is what ancient Egypt and Rome might have been like if they’d discovered electricity and cocktails or happy hours a little sooner.

Feeling more tropically inclined? Kick of those heels and feel the sand between your toes at the marage and madellae bay resorts. The resorts of the strip are so vast and self-contained it’s possible to land in one and not step outside again until the rest of your stay. But you will step out and explore the unique themes of at least a few others, sampling the incredible shows, dining and shopping experience each one has to offer.

If this neon paradise still ain’t enough for you, Mother Nature has a few surprise of her own. That is, if you can find your way out. The valley of fire is just 50 miles out of town and the Grand Canyon is a half a day drive away. But as the night time descends, Vegas calls. Like an incredible cluster of neon jewels under the desert sky. Las Vegas dazzles like no other city. She’s here to remind us that we’re here on earth not for a long time but for a short time. And Las Vegas will be the best time you ever had!

Read more