Africa

5 Wonderfully Earthy Glamping Sites

Camping has traditionally brought sophisticated urban dwellers out in hives, but the emergence of glamping—a hybrid of “glamor” and “camping”—has changed things. Now, luxurious yurt and tepee sites boast 100% cotton bedding, organic welcome hampers and indecently abundent tea lights. So no more struggling with a tent and airbed!

Glamping sites range from little more than a pre-erected tent with simple Ikea furnishings to something more akin to an upmarket hotel. Along the way many have missed the point—either too basic or too plush and removed from the natural surroundings.

Here is a look at five luxury camping sites that have achieved the perfect blend, providing absolute immersion in the great outdoors whilst maintaining a just-so degree of indulgence and luxury:

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Egypt’s Time-Forgotten Eco-Resort

The resort itself feels a little like the casbah in Star Wars (except without the space aliens and bar fights)

We are prepared to stand by this bold statement:

The Adrere Amellal is the single coolest eco-resort on the African continent!

Set within a scenic oasis, at the foot of a dramatic rock-mountain, amidst the desert in Egypt, the Adrere Amellal has the feel of a place time forgot. The local Berbers here still live much like they’ve done for centuries, wearing their traditional clothing, speaking their native Siwi (not Arabic) and harvesting the bountiful dates and olives by hand.

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Lose Weight While Traveling:
Three Fun & Cool Trips

A vacation is a wonderful time to get away from the normal day-to-day. But you needn’t spend it sedentary and immobile, sipping cocktails and grazing at the buffet.

To combat vacation hangover and dreaded weight gain here are three fun trips that will challenge your mind and your body. You’ll return home from each of these trips in better shape than you left.

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Ice Bars In Warm Places

At almost any bar in the world you can get a drink with ice. At a few you can get a drink in ice. While sitting on seats made of ice. At a table made of ice. Surrounded by walls made of ice.

The concept of the ice bar originated, logically enough, in Sweden where both water and freezing temperatures are abundant. These icy drinking establishments soon became popular around Scandinavia, partly because they combined two elements Scandinavians tend to embrace (cold and alcohol) and partly because these bars’ LED lighting, artworks of frozen water and and intimate settings made them great places to chill out. (Pun. Sorry.)

Today, there are more than two dozen ice bars around the globe including ones in Amsterdam, London, Poland, Canada and Alaska. Not all of these frozen saloons are in places with cold climes. Hence this Spot Cool Stuff overview of ice bars in warm places.

For the purposes of this review, a “warm place” is anywhere it doesn’t snow in the winter and regularly gets hot in the summer. So, the ice bar in Beijing doesn’t count. The one in Shanghai would have had it not recently closed.

All of the selections on this list, like most of the ice bars anywhere, charge an entrance fee to get in. Usually this fee includes one free drink and use of cold-weather clothing that is designed as much to protect patrons from the bar’s sub-freezing temperatures as it is to protect the bar itself from the patrons’ body heat. To help keep their establishments below freezing, ice bars also have strict limits on the number of people allowed in.

And with that, let’s kick back with a cold one and tour the world’s ice bars in warm places . . .

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Tips For Finding Cool,
Yet Inexpensive, Cruises

Spot Cool Stuff’s single favorite piece of travel writing, the David Foster Wallace essay A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, is a humorous accounting of the absurd side of taking a cruise—that part of cruising in which overweight Hawaiian shirt-wearing passengers are herded between crowded shuffleboard tables, bad buffets and overpriced tourist-trap shore excursions.

Your next cruise needn’t be like that. Your cruise can (and should!) be a fun thing you’ll want to do again. And that fun, interesting cruise can also represent an excellent travel value. Our tips for finding cool, yet affordable, cruises:

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5 Cool, Luxurious (and Inexpensive) Hostels

Mention the word “hostel” and most people recoil in horror, perhaps haunted by memories of dirty dorms, queues for the bathroom and rowdy backpackers. But hostels have transformed in recent years into some of the best value accommodation around, offering the same comfortable rooms and range of facilities you’d expect in a hotel.

As the credit crunch bites and travelers cut back on their holidays, this couldn’t be a more timely transformation—why pay the high room rates of hotel chains when you can get the same standard in a hostel?

Forget the standard youth and backpacker hostel, the term now covers a huge range of lodgings, from guesthouses to beachside apartments (you can even find hostels in tree-houses and old castles these days!). Many hostels now boast private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, widescreen TVs and even a Jacuzzi if you’re lucky!

The rise of the ‘boutique’ or ‘design’ hostel in major cities, with cutting-edge design, stylish interiors and high-tech facilities, is perfect for those of us that want to be cheap and chic.

Here is a look to the five most luxurious hostels out there:

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5 Cool Cargo Ship Cruises

Conjure an image of what’s it is like to go on a cruise. Are you picturing buffet dinners? On-deck spinning classes? Retirees playing shuffleboard? Many cruises really are like that. But if you’re looking for a different sort of cruise scene consider traveling by cargo ship.

Cargo ship travel is the un-cruise. There’s nothing fabricated about it. Every day thousands of freighters ply the high seas. Some of them have extra state rooms and accept passengers to tag along for the ride. This is as “real” as travel gets.

Of course, cargo ship cruising is not for everyone. Cargo ships don’t have swimming pools, evening entertainment, rock climbing walls or organized mixers on Lido decks. Go on a cargo ship cruise and there might be as many as four or five other paying passengers like yourself. Or, you may be the only one. And while cargo ships often have comfortable sleeping quarters they’re unlikely to be luxurious.

To book passage on a cargo ship you can go directly through some shipping lines. But we recommend working through a travel agent that can vouch for the quality of the food and accommodations and can make sure your itinerary includes sufficient shore leave time. One of the best agents for cargo ship cruises is Intrepid Travel. Here’s a look at their five cool cargo cruise ship itineraries:

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