Tuesday, February 28, 2023

The Best Time to Rent a Car in Iceland: You Asked, We Answered

Gorgeous route 1 of Iceland

Are you planning a trip to Iceland and wondering when the best time to rent a car is? Many travellers visiting the “land of fire and ice” have the same question, so we decided to answer it. In this blog post, we’ll explore all the factors to consider when choosing the best time to rent a car in Iceland, so you can make an informed decision.

Summer or winter?

Road to Vatnajokull, Iceland

When it comes to renting a car in Iceland, one of the biggest questions people have is whether summer or winter is the best time to do so. Generally speaking, summer is the most popular time for visiting Iceland, and as such, rental cars tend to be more expensive during that season. However, if you are looking for a unique and memorable experience, winter can also be a great time to visit Iceland.

Weekday or weekend?

Driving through scenic Iceland

When it comes to renting a car in Iceland, it is important to consider when you plan to take your vehicle out on the roads. While weekends tend to be busier and more expensive, weekdays may be quieter and less expensive. If you’re looking for a good deal, try to book a car rental during the week. You’ll avoid the crowds and potentially save some money. If you do plan on renting a car on a weekend, make sure to book early as prices can spike during this time.

What's your driving style?

Stunning capital city of Reykjavik, Iceland

When renting a car in Iceland, it's important to consider your own driving style and preferences. If you're comfortable taking on rugged roads and off-the-beaten-path routes to see sights like glaciers, then an SUV or 4WD vehicle may be the right choice for you. Alternatively, if you're looking for an easier ride and don't plan on driving off-road, then a sedan may be best.

What kind of car do you need?

The type of rental car you need in Iceland will depend on your driving style and the terrain of your planned route. If you’re planning to take the Ring Road and explore the country’s stunning landscapes, a four-wheel drive is the best option. If you’re looking for an economical option, then a regular sedan or hatchback is a great choice.

How long are you staying?

When it comes to renting a car in Iceland, one of the most important factors to consider is how long you’re staying. If you plan on staying for a short period, say a few days, then renting a car is a great way to get around and maximize your travel experience. On the other hand, if you stay for longer than a few days, it may be more cost-effective to rent a car for the entire duration of your stay.

How much does it cost to rent a car in Iceland?

Gulfoss Waterfall, Iceland

Renting a car in Iceland can be a great way to explore the beautiful country and see its sights. However, the prices vary greatly depending on the type of vehicle. For instance, economy cars start at around $50 per day and will get more expensive as per the make and model of the car. If you’re planning to rent an SUV or minivan, you should expect to pay up to $150 per day.

Note: The pictures used in this article are courtesy of wikipedia.org and have been borrowed under the Creative Commons license. Each photograph has been linked to its host page on wikipedia.org.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Kallidaikurichi to Manimuthar Dam: A Top Scenic and Rustic Cycling Route

Cycling through the rustic roads of Manimuthar

To all those of you who do not know, I have been living in the rustic setting of Kallidaikurichi in Southern Tamil Nadu for a little over half a year. Its rustic environment, culture and solitude is a far cry from the humdrum of Bangalore city life. There is no incessant honking, the air is much cleaner, the people are more relaxed and easy going and there is oodles of culture here.

However, even such a relaxed environment cannot keep the traveler in me quiet. And that is when I pick up my bicycle and explore the nearby nature trails in the Western Ghats, the gorgeous temples in the region or simply just explore the neighbouring villages.

This was one such trip that I did yesterday. The destination was Manimuthar falls, but the forest department did not allow me beyond Manimuthar dam. The reason is they have a blanket ban on all two wheelers beyond Manimuthar Dam.

Cycling Pit Stop at Manimuthar Dam

Kallidaikurichi to Manimuthar Dam is all of 9.8 kilometers one way. As always, I cycled bare minimum, which means I was on my bicycle in my crocs slippers and wearing my sunglasses. I did not carry any water with me or carry any cycle spares. The idea as always was to soak in the surroundings while getting some good exercise in the morning sun.

Manimuthar dam is one of the larger dams in South Tamil Nadu that carries water from the catchment areas of Oothu, Manjolai and Kuthrevatti, one of the wettest regions of India during the North East monsoon. It is located inside the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve and the route from Kallidaikurichi to Manimuthar dam falls on the fringes of this tiger reserve.

At the Kannadigan canal next to Manimuthar Dam

After leaving the agraharams of Kallidaikurichi, I hit the main road of Kallidaikurichi and headed south towards the railway station. Right after the railway station, I turned west, crossed a railway crossing and eased into the quiet countryside surrounding Kallidaikurichi, one of the larger villages in this area.

Once you cross the railway station, the tarmac becomes nicer and the traffic drops to a bare minimum. Rocky outcrops, palm trees and small houses dot the view in front of you and the leeward face of the Western Ghats looms right in front of you. In a few kilometeres, you come across the chiselled massive boulders of Pothai, once illegally quarried for their high quality marble. This is also the place where kids play cricket. As you ride forward, you will see a road that leads to Pottal, the vegetable basket of this region. This is a separate cycle route that I will talk about in another article. You continue west towards Pappankulam village and this is where the terrain starts to climb up and the landscape starts getting green. Rocky outcrops reduce and lush plantations crop up in its place. Amidst this green terrain, you will see a lot of government buildings especially the battalions of the Tamil Nadu police special force who have their training grounds here. This location is Manimuthar village. And as you keep crossing the different government buildings and coconut plantations, you will see a final steep ascending road. The check post at the end of this steep curve is that of the forest department. As I mentioned earlier, no two wheelers are allowed beyond this point and you can relax and enjoy the dam views from here.

The Kannadigan canal from Manimuthar Dam that irrigates this region

This return cycling trip, about 20 kilometers long is a fairly easy ride with a few curves and steep tracks in between. As most of the terrain is green and rocky, the temperature remains pleasant till 10 AM. As the roads were recently laid, they are buttery smooth and in top condition. My favorite part of this journey has to be the lush village of Manimuthar with its officer quarters, police training grounds, fisheries and plantation land. The views from Manimuthar Dam of the mountains beyond and the Kannadigan canal flowing through the villages are special. Kallidaikurichi to Manimuthar Dam is a top scenic and rustic cycling route in the Western Ghats of Southern Tamil Nadu and one that I highly recommend. If you are a cyclist, you should definitely keep this route in mind for your future rides.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Philippines: A travel destination for everyone

Beautiful rice terraces of Northern Philippines

Are you looking for an exciting and memorable vacation? If so, then look no further than the Philippines. With its stunning beaches, lush landscapes, and vibrant culture, the Philippines is a perfect destination for everyone from solo travelers to families. From historic cities to tropical islands, the Philippines offers something for everyone. Let's take a closer look at why the Philippines should be your next travel destination.

Why the Philippines is a great travel destination

Lush green Banaue Rice Terraces covered by monsoon clouds

The Philippines is a dream destination for travelers of all ages and budgets. With its stunning beaches, friendly locals, and picturesque landscapes, there's something for everyone here. From the lively capital city of Manila to the lush region of Bicol, the Philippines has it all. Whether you're looking for a relaxed beach vacation, an adventure-filled trek through the countryside, or a cultural exploration of the cities, you can find it all in the Philippines. The country is full of warm smiles and friendly faces, making it a great place to relax and take in all that the Philippines has to offer.

What are some of the best places to visit in the Philippines?

A Horse shoe bend in the tropical forests of Batad, Philippines

Boracay, an island paradise in Western Visayas, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. With white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and plenty of activities to do, Boracay is a great destination for a beach holiday. There are plenty of Boracay airfare and hotel packages, making it easy to plan a trip here without breaking the bank. Other popular destinations include the historical city of Vigan in Ilocos Sur, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What are some things to do in the Philippines?

Scenic Corong Corong Bay view of Palawan

The Philippines is a paradise for anyone looking for an adventure. From amazing beaches to world-class diving, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained. Boracay, an island in the Philippines, is popular for sunbathing, water sports and adventure activities. If you’re looking for some adventure, take a trek up Mount Luho or explore one of the many caves around the island. From exciting nightlife to natural wonders, the Philippines is a destination that will keep you busy and entertained.

What are some things to eat in the Philippines?

One of the many small and beautiful beaches near El Nido, Philippines

The Philippines is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide variety of dishes for every taste. From local street food to world-renowned restaurants, you will find something to satisfy your appetite. Try some of the classic Filipino dishes like adobo, a marinated stew of pork or chicken, and lumpia, a type of spring roll. For seafood lovers, there is sinigang, a sour soup made with fish or shrimp. And don't forget to enjoy the delicious tropical fruits available year-round.

What are some tips for travelling to the Philippines?

Sabang underground river - one of the new 7 natural wonders of the world

When travelling to the Philippines, plan and make sure you know where you want to go and how you will get there. Book your accommodation in advance, especially if you're travelling during peak season when prices tend to be higher. Do some research on what hotels have to offer before making a booking, as some hotels may include additional activities such as snorkeling or sightseeing tours that can add value to your trip. Finally, always double-check the terms and conditions of any package before booking it - so you know exactly what is included in each package deal.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Exploring the World: How to choose your Next Destination

Gorgeous street stall at Santa Monica Pier, California

Planning a fun trip is always an exciting time. From picking activities you want to do to deciding where you want to stay, the planning of a vacation alone is enough to make a person want the trip to come faster. The biggest decision with a vacation, though, is actually picking a destination. Below are five key ways to pick a vacation spot for your next trip:

5 Factors to Guide Your Vacation Decision

1. Consider your overall budget

While the last thing anyone wants to think about on vacation is money, it’s important to build a budget. Did you know that a one-week vacation in the U.S. costs $1,558 on average for just one person? This price includes lodging, food, transportation, activities, and other unknowns. It’s important to build a budget before picking a vacation destination, so that you can narrow your list to places you can afford.

2. The lodging you want to stay in

In some cases, the lodging you want to experience can dictate where you should travel. For example, those looking to get a true glamping experience, as opposed to camping, shouldn’t look to travel to a city or even a remote wilderness area. Rather they should look at outdoor destinations such as parts of Montana or even Arizona.

Likewise, those who value privacy and warm weather should consider staying away from hotel hotspots and should instead look into lodging like Orlando vacation rentals with private pool access.

3. The goal of the vacation

When picking a vacation spot, you also need to consider what you want to do on your vacation. If relaxing is the name of the game, then a beach destination could be right for you. However, if you’re looking for vibrant nightlife and plenty of activities, a more urban trip may be the better choice.

4. Domestic vs. International

Assuming your budget allows for it, an international trip is always an exciting choice. Depending on how much time you have for vacation can be the focal point of the decision for whether to stay domestic or go international. If you decide to go international, remember that the seasons flip when the hemispheres switch.

5. The time of year you’re going on vacation

If you’re a skier who chooses to visit a ski town in the dead of summer, you likely won’t be very happy with your choice. Plan your vacation activities to align with the time of year you want to experience the destination. Even if this means pushing out your vacation a number of months, you’re more likely to have a fun experience.

Get your dream vacation on the calendar

No two people’s dream vacation will look alike. Some may dream of hitting the slopes right when the snow season begins, whereas others may prefer to lay down on a beach for a week without getting up. There’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to picking a destination, so long as you actually pick a place to go that you love.