Do you find traditional hotels and resorts uninteresting when out on a vacation? Avid adventurists and nature lovers will say ‘yes’ to this question, and this attitude is the reason why the camping culture around the world is on rise. Camps help you to experience nature at close quarters. Be it on mountains, in deserts or be on beaches, camping is an ideal way of exploring the beauty of nature. India and its diverse geography offer a variety of camping sites where you can spend the night under a moonlit sky, sitting with your friends around a bonfire enjoying the beauty of nature. HoliDaze picks from the top camping sites in India include:

Camping in Rishikesh, one of the top places in India for camping

Rishikesh

  Uttarakhand

Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Rishikesh is a tourist place with deep spiritual connection where tons of adventures await. The place is one of the most sought after camping sites due to its awesome natural beauty and various adventure destinations. Living by the banks of the River Ganga is a great experience for anyone. July to September is the best time for enjoying camping in Rishikesh and perfect for adventure lovers.

Camping in Spiti Valley, one of the top places in India for camping

Spiti Valley

  Himachal Pradesh

Located in the Trans-Himalayan belt of Himachal Pradesh, Spiti Valley is described as “a world within a world” by the famous English poet Rudyard Kipling. Camping here gives you a wonderful opportunity to get close to nature and explore this stunning valley. Spiti Valley is also a well-known adventure destination amongst Indians but has yet to truly catch on with foreign tourists -- all the more reason to visit now, before it does! Camping here in May or June gives you relief from the heat of late summer.

Camping in Mussoorie, one of the top places in India for camping

Mussoorie

  Uttarakhand

Adventure lovers and campers gather in Mussoorie to enjoy the thrills of camping and return home with memorable experiences. You will feel like you are in a different world soaking in the splendid views of the white capped Himalayan peaks from the comfort of your camps. Mussoorie, also known as the gateway to Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines, is the favorite spot of trekkers due to its rugged terrains and scenic beauty. March to June is the ideal time for enjoying camping in Mussoorie.

Camping in Jaisalmer, one of the top places in India for camping

Jaisalmer

  Rajasthan

Camping near to the Sam Sand Dunes in Jaisalmer gives you the opportunity to enjoy local Rajasthani food, cultural dances and more. The camps are lit by Mashaals and campfire to provide a truly royal feel of the bygone era. If you are yet not satisfied, watching stars at night from the deserts of golden city is an experience of a lifetime. You can also enjoy camel safaris in Jaisalmer. Needless to say, winter is the best season to enjoy camping here.

Camping in Ladakh, one of the top places in India for camping

Ladakh

  Jammu and Kashmir

Camping is truly an exciting experience in the land of high passes. Enfolded by the arid mountains, Ladakh offers a variety of camping sites for campers of all types. The banks of Pangong and Tsomoriri lakes are ideal camping sites where you can explore the beauty of Ladakh. Of course some other travelers prefer camping in Markha Valley, another favorite destination among trekkers. July and August are the best months to enjoy camping in Ladakh.

Camping in Chandertal Lake, one of the best places in India for camping

Chandertal Lake

  Himachal Pradesh

Also dubbed as ‘the lake of moon’, Chandertal Lake is an ideal camping site. Located at an elevation of 4300m (14,107 ft) in Lahaul and Spiti Valley, Chandertal Lake offers you a great camping experience right in the lap of nature. A stay in the camps here will surely mesmerize you and bewilder your senses. However, altitude sickness may be an issue.

Camping in Anjuna Beach, one of the best places in India for camping

Goa

  Goa

Known for its beautiful beaches, Goa offers campers a variety of camping sites. Spending a night at a camp on one of the Goa’s most popular camping locations allows you to experience the happening culture and nightlife of Goa. Agonda beach, Ashwem beach, and Anjuna beach are a few of the best camping sites here. You will get to experience something new with a beach party while camping in Goa. And be honest, who doesn't love beach parties?

Arguably the best way to enjoy the serenity of nature, camping is one of the best outdoor activities that anyone can enjoy without intense training or practice. It allows you to escape the city and modern life, and provides an opportunity to explore the unexplored countryside. The next time you are in India, be sure to take some time off the beaten tourist trail to enjoy a little camping.

See More       India Unexplored: 24 Incredible Offbeat Destinations   India HoliDaze Guides

Published in India

Thoughts of Montana often conjure up scenic images of rollings hills, pristine streams and snow-capped mountains, however the most gorgeous time of year is undoubtedly during the winter.

There are few things more gorgeous than fresh snowfall that has yet to be broken by tracks or the twinkling of a thousand stars on a cold, cloudless night. And nothing is more fun in this winter wonderland then gliding down a mountain slope on skies or tearing across the fresh snow on a snowmobile.

Snowy Montana winter

Before beginning to traveling the farthest corners of the globe I started in my own backyard and few states impressed me as much as Montana during the winter. Not only is it gorgeous but it's also a playground for grown-ups, a chance to once again feel like a carefree kid with no responsibilities. It is also an amazing family destination because it is fun for all ages.

Two years ago while passing through Montana I had my first experience with winter glamping and no other glamping experience since has come close. It's hard to even convey how amazing it is to spend the day outside, bundled up against the low temperatures and frolicking around like a kid, only to come inside from the cold and instantly be transported to warm, safe haven where a nice glass of German Riesling and a warm fire await.

Montana glamping

Glamping is still a relatively new vacation option yet it is one that has quickly become popular in many countries around the world. It is, as the name suggests, glamorous camping and no other form of camping compares. Imagine a tent, yurt or other semi-permanent structure that is so elaborately furnished and stocked with modern technological conveniences that it is hard to even believe it isn't a luxurious cabin. Now that is glamping.

However the best part of glamping in the winter is the outdoor activities.

SKIING

Arguably the most popular of all winter spots, Montana is well-known for it's amazing skiing. What the states lacks in population it makes up for in mountains and they come alive during the cool weather months. Whether beginner or expert there is something for everyone in this great state.

ICE-SKATING

Picture a pristine frozen lake...and now imagine you whisking across it on skates, spelling out your name in cursive letters or doing figure eights. Ice-skating is my favorite of all winter sports and as most of you know how clumsy I am, it should go without saying that I don't injure myself nearly as much on the ice as I do while skiing.

SLEDDING / SNOWMOBILING

Whether you prefer hitting the snow on a gasoline powered beast of a machine or comfortably sailing across it on a horse-drawn sleigh, both offer a relaxing and refreshing way to enjoy the winter wonderland.

Ranch Rock Creek in Montana during the winter

Of course there are plenty of other winter activities to partake in, especially if you stay somewhere that will cater to your every whim, such as The Ranch at Rock Creek. This includes winter paintballing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, sledding for the kids and pistol or rifle shooting for the adults.

Tempted to try glamping, either as a family or as a romantic getaway for two? The Ranch has you covered! Of course if you still are not sold on that idea, they also have private log homes and a more traditional iconic lodge. Whichever you decide just know that the possibilities for wintertime fun are endless. This year make your winter vacation an unforgettable one at The Ranch at Rock Creek!

Have you ever been glamping?

Share your comments below!

  This post was brought to you by The Ranch at Rock Creek in Philipsburg, Montana. Photos provided by The Ranch and flickr // timo_w2s ridge

Published in United States

Recently I had the pleasure of discovering a refreshing new side to Ohio, the hidden gem known as Hocking Hills. Nestled in the southeastern portion of the state, this area is known for its rolling hills and glacier-carved valleys. As a result of these iconic valleys the region is also home to a surprising amount of migratory fauna and even several types of flora that are usually only found in the cooler climates of Canada.

In addition to offering a wealth of outdoor activities, the nearby towns provide several interesting sightseeing opportunities and tours that cover a variety of interests and hobbies which visitors of all ages will find appealing. Together they make Hocking Hills a fantastic and inexpensive family getaway that proves there is much more to the Buckeye State than simply the "3 C's." Ohio also has the geographic distinction of being located within a single days drive of 50% of the United States population, further strengthening the region as an ideal destination for a refreshing family vacation.

 

Get Outdoors And Stretch Those Legs!

Surpassed only by their love of football, Ohio residents are extremely proud of the 200,000 acres of state and national parks scattered across this diverse state. Hocking Hills State Park is one of the most prominent in the region and receives as many as four million visitors each year.

An overwhelming one million of those visitors arrive just during October, when the autumn color change transforms the entire area into a vivid and impressive landscape that attract non-stop hordes of "leaf-peepers."

Unfortunately for me I arrived just a couple days after Hurricane Sandy had ravaged this colorful scenery. The storm was so powerful that its effects were felt even this far inland, where 60-70mph winds stripped the deciduous trees of every last leaf and covered the ground in countless shades of auburn. Luckily that in no way diminished the joy of exploring this area.

Hike Or Bike The Many Trails Of Hocking Hills State Park

There are a total of nine hiking trails in varying lengths and difficulties and two great biking trails located within Hocking Hills State Park that allow visitors to choose their route based upon whichever sights appeal to them. One of the most popular of these trails is the hike to Old Man's cave, which you can see pictured below.

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Although the largest crowds at Hocking Hills State Park occur during the autumn color change, this area happens to be blessed with spectacular wildlife and scenery regardless of the season. In fact each has its own appeal and distinct reasons for visiting. Whether witnessing the first new leaves of the spring awakening or trekking through this snow-covered winter wonderland, Hocking Hills State Park never disappoints!


Pat Quackenbush

But believe it or not all of thise natural beauty is trumped by resident naturalist Pat Quackenbush. Pat's all-encompassing knowledge of the local history and climate combined with his vivid storytelling and skills in mimicking the sound of local wildlife culminates in the perfect tour guide. I've traveled extensively through 46 US states, camping and exploring a wide range of both parks and climates, and without a doubt Pat is the all-around best naturalist I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. His love and dedication to the region are undeniable and certainly add that special spark when experiencing the local outdoors.

A more extensive list of the outdoor adventures offered including upcoming events can be found on the Hocking Hills State Park official web page.

 


Listen and learn the circle of life as told by Shawnee story teller Wehyehpihehrsehnhwah

An Unforgettable Shawnee Storytelling

For those who crave a more unique outdoor experience there is no better option than a guided tour through Saltpetre Cave State Nature Preserve. The highlight of this two-hour expedition up into the hills is an enthralling session with Wehyehpihehrsehnhwah (pronounced Way-u-per-shenwa), which takes place in the fourth and final cave along the trek. Approaching hikers will be able to hear his traditional Native American flute melodies rising through the hills long before being able to spot the source.

Otherwise known by the much easier to pronounce nickname "Shawnee Storyteller," Wehyehpihehrsehnhwah consistently captivates audiences from his first word to the very last. His stories offer a different perspective on the Hocking Hills region as well as thoughtful insights on our responsibility as the dominant species of this planet. They are comprised of a mixture of local history and knowledge of regional nature and wildlife, engaging Shawnee practices and stories of the past, personal childhood experiences, and even include thought-provoking cultural wisdom that has been passed down through the generations by tribe elders. Visitors are unanimously impressed by Wehyehpihehrsehnhwah and frequently find that leaving is hard to do.

Here are a few of my photos from both the initial hike through the nature preserve and our subsequent session with the Shawnee Storyteller.

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To learn more about Wehyehpihehrsehnhwah and his stories please consult Hocking Hills Adventure Trek. They also offer several more challenging trails intended only for experienced hikers.

 

Get Your Adrenaline Pumping!

Ohio's First World-Class Zipline Adventure

Canopy tours are the perfect excursion for those nature-lovers whom are also avid thrill-seekers and typically feature multiple ziplines and sky bridges. Just a few weeks before my visit a group from Discovery.com had popped in for a visit, after which they named the Hocking Hills ziplines as one of the top ten ziplines in the world! (View the article)

The canopy tour includes a total of ten ziplines but the prime attraction of this three-hour excursion is the SuperZip, Ohio's answer to the public demand for a "higher, longer, and faster" zipline. It covers more than a quarter mile and includes a breathtaking stretch directly over the Hocking River that makes the most of the zippers' "Superman-style" flying position.

Individuals are launched in pairs from an 85-foot tower perched atop the hillside and reach speeds of up to 50mph, making the SuperZip a fun race for anyone with a competitive nature.


This is the SuperZip as seen from the launch platform. Notice the Hocking River in the distance.

Although the SuperZip can be experienced either by itself or as part of the full canopy tour package, I strongly recommend the latter -- especially if you have never been ziplining or on a canopy tour before. You may be surprised at just how much fun you have been missing out on.

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Canopy tour details and contact information available via Hocking Hills Canopy Tours.

Kayaking & Camping On The Hocking River

From April through October the Hocking River is popular among both kayakers and canoers, as visitors will notice when ziplining over the river. Two different lengths are offered, both filled with a variety of spots suitable for beaching your craft to rest along the shore or bask in the tranquil sounds of nature, allowing participates to extend this into a all-day event if the mood arises.

To get the best of both worlds, ziplining and kayaking, I suggest what is known as the "Float & Fly" special. This trip will take you down the longer of the two kayaking routes and passes directly underneath the SuperZip. Located there is a small landing area on the right side of the river for zippers to safely stow their kayak and make the short walk up to the SuperZip launch tower. After the group has completeled this exhilirating zip then its back into the kayaks for the remaining leg of the cruise.

Check out a few of my photos from our kayaking adventure below. You may even recognize a couple of my fellow travel bloggers, such as Kristen from Hopscotch The Globe and Will from Wake And Wander.  

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Overnight camping is also an option for anyone wishing to continue this experience past sunset. Visitors can either bring their own tents and set up camp in several designated campgrounds ($7/each) or rent one of the four-person cabins that are scattered along the river. Cabins include basic amenities such as heating/cooling, refrigerator, and microwave and cost $60/night during the week or $70/night on Fridays and Saturdays.

Further details including specials and upcoming events can be found on the Hocking Hills Canoe Livery website.

Of course these activities are but a fraction of all the outdoor adventures awaiting visitors of Hocking Hills and the surrounding area. Depending on the season other great choices include a variety of haunted hikes and ghost stories, wildlife observation and education treks, fishing, hunting, and even occasional nighttime activities/events. Keep this in mind the next time you find yourself passing through Ohio or searching for an affordable family vacation. And as always, if you have any questions that are not answered by the links included then feel free to give me a shout.

Have you experienced the region? What were your favorite outdoor adventures?

Share your comments below!

Published in United States

Australia is a continent of extremes with Queensland generally going through two types of weather per year; dry, clear and cool or wet, muggy and hot. The recent bout of arid conditions, coupled with crystal-clear sunshine days means that the National Parks in Queensland, Australia are in top condition for discovery through camping, hiking and four-wheel driving.

We took advantage of the 25+ days of no rain to head out and explore a spot we had not visited previously: Conondale National Park. Approximately 130km North West of Brisbane in South East Queensland, the reserve spans an enormous 35,000+ hectares. To gain access we had two creek crossings to make. The waters at this time of year were less than half a metre deep, but it was still a thrill to take the vehicle pummelling into the glassy, ice-cold streams.

We were at once surrounded by trees, hundreds of years’ old, rainforest with towering palms and other native plant life of every shade of green ever conceived. With our windows down, crisp country air rich with the scent of earth began filling our nostrils and immediately grabbing our attention, its’ coolness like a slap in the face.

We parked up at the first campsite which was a wide-spanning grassy area in amongst trees and flanked by thicker forest and bordered at one side by the pristine creek, glistening in the sunshine. Soon we discovered there are four separate campsites. These are some of the best maintained areas we’ve seen, including toilets, running water, creek views, rainforest surrounds and fire rings. Campsite 1 even includes shower facilities. Families, couples and individual adventurers have plenty of privacy and space between each site.

img src="/images/countries/australia/conondale-national-park.jpg" alt="Sunset at Conondale National Park in Queensland, Australia"
Photo by duality via flickr

Here are our top 10 tips for a safe & rewarding camping trip to this unique area:

  1. Log on to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service website to check current conditions, closures and any current warnings www.derm.qld.gov.au
  2. Choose your preferred spot and pre-book your campsite www.qld.gov.au/camping or ph 13 74 68 (within Australia)
  3. Hire a 4×4 vehicle. Shop around for the best deals with Sunshine Coast or Brisbane companies. They will generally be willing to beat the last quote you receive.
  4. If you’re not into camping, there are plenty of B&B options in nearby Maleny, Montville or Kenilworth.
  5. For hiking, pack plenty of water and food – take more than you think you’ll need. Make sure you take a map of the trails with you.
  6. Whatever you bring in, you must bring out with you. Don’t leave anything behind, including food that could be consumed by animals and encourage them to become reliant on humans. Instead pack all refuse and dispose of when you return to town.
  7. Plan ahead. For those using the mountain bike trails as well as hiking trails – only walk/ride within your ability.
  8. Be aware that there is no mobile phone signal, so ensure you are well-prepared and exercise caution at creek crossings, on slippery trails and so forth. Don’t take unnecessary risks.
  9. Allow yourself enough time to walk back to camp before dark.
  10. Look up, look down and look around. Be aware of your surroundings, keep your noise to a minimum and you’ll come upon wildlife in its’ natural habitat. Enjoy the scenery and the stillness of your surroundings.

Australia is ever-teetering on the knife-edge of extremes. Severe drought crippled much of the continent for many years before 2011 brought the heart-breaking flood disaster. Ever in the forefront of our minds are how much we depend on the fragile weather system and how important it is for us to get out and enjoy the national parks when that system is in balance, remembering to never take it for granted.

Published in Australia

We decided at the last minute that we needed to take a family vacation but we were running short on time and money, so what was I to do? I had read a blog post a few months ago about yurts. This got me interested, what's a yurt?? I was asked by my friends when I first mentioned it to them. Basically a yurt is a round, heavy duty, permanent tent. It has heavy gauge vinyl for the sides and wooden supports for strength. Our short camping adventure took us to Torreya State Park, near Bristol, Florida in the United States. This was the only yurt (at least that I could find in a state park) in the entire state. We made our reservations the day before we were set to arrive, so I was excited to see that there was availability with short notice.

What's in it (or not in it)?

  • Ours was equipped with both a queen and bunk beds. There were no linens on the bed, just a vinyl covered mattress. I think this is fairly universal, so bring those with you. We brought a sleeping bag for the wife and myself, as well as Jr, so we were covered there.
  • There was also a table, 2 rocking chairs, 2 others chairs and a chest of drawers. Guess if you were staying for a while this would be good, but we were only in it for a couple days.
  • Here's where the wife was sold on the idea.... Air Conditioning! We were in Florida, so 80 degree nights is not out of the ordinary. Needless to say, we were comfortable! Also, hanging from the middle of the yurt was a fan with light... Much better than the battery powered lantern we usually take with us. Also, there was wired power within the yurt so we didn't need the extension cord that we brought.
  • On three of the side of the yurt, there were screen roll down windows. We kept ours up most of the time for lighting purposes.
  • We did not have running water (or restroom) inside of the yurt. The policy for pets was that they weren't allowed in the yurt, and there was also no smoking or stoves allowed in the yurt. All things that weren't a big deal to us, but I'm sure could be a little cumbersome if you wanted to bring the family pooch along for the camping trip.

What's the downside to yurt camping?

There is one down side to the yurt. All future "camping" trips will be compared to it, and I have a feeling they won't fare well. The yurt camping concept is nothing short of ingenious. You are only a step away from the wilderness, yet you have a roof that will withstand the heaviest rain, and AC for those hot summer days. You really do have the best of all worlds.

So, whether you are new to camping, or just new to yurts (like I was), if you get the chance to try a yurt, DO IT! It is surprising how much it was like a tent, but with all the comforts of home. We will definitely take advantage of one next time they are available at the campground that we are looking to stay at. They are usually a little more than a regular campsite (ours was $40/night) and sites were around $15-$20.

Published in Miscellany Articles

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