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Affordable Airfare for People On A Budget

It can be very frustrating to spend hours online searching for an airfare schedule in accordance to your timetable and a ticket that fits into your budget. You will definitely see teaser fares in the newspaper or on numerous websites. You need to understand that these kinds of advertisements have tons of restrictions and the schedules for these fares are quite hectic. Thus, people avoid such advertisements because they know that advertised fares are not worth the time or money. You should understand that airlines face competition. So, those people who are searching for affordable airfare need to arm themselves with proven tricks and tips to find discounted airfare tickets.

Discounts

There are many people who are unaware of airfare discounts. You can get discounts if you are a student, veteran, senior, member of travel clubs, or group affiliations. The prices skyrocket during holiday seasons and you won’t be able to find many discounts during the holidays.

Alternative Airports

Driving to an alternative airport can save you loads of cash. Even if you live near the airport the cost of traveling via bus or train to an alternative airport can prove to be beneficial. You will end up saving more money if you decide to travel to an airport situated a couple of hours away from your hometown.

Red Eye Flights

If you do not have a problem with sleeping at the airport, then you can book a red eye flight. These flights are much cheaper than the regular timing flights and can reduce the burden on your wallet significantly.

Ticket Consolidators

There are numerous companies out there that purchase blocks of airfare tickets and then resell them to travelers are affordable rates. These tickets are usually focused on particular destinations such as Disney World, New York City, Hawaii, Las Vegas, and so much more.

Subscribe to Email Alerts

You can always monitor the prices of tickets by signing up for alerts. Create an account on ticket consolidator websites that you trust in. Just check your email regularly and purchase a ticket when you find a deal that fits into your budget.

Traveling by air is a process which requires proper planning. Cheap airfare does not mean low quality services. You just have to learn about all of the aspects of the airline you book a flight with to make sure that the price equals the quality of the services. Also, the incentives of finding cheap airline tickets not only allow you to travel more often, but you will have more money to spend on activities once you get there.

The Great Wall Trek and Zip Line Home-China Travel Article

An old man sat on a three-legged stool atop a metal platform, perched like a cantilevered birds-nest hundreds of feet above the Simatai Reservoir. A toothless smile greeted us next to a hand painted sign that read 40¥ with Chinese characters above. My wife, Janet, thumbed through her guide book while I approached the cabled contraption on which he sat.

“It’s a zip line,” Janet said, pointing to the one inch cable that fell at a forty-five degree angle for what appeared to be miles across the sparkling blue water. A string of frayed gray straps hung like day-old laundry-limp and tired.

I inched towards the edge, “We must be five hundred feet up.”

“Nine hundred,” she responded cheerfully.

The old man stretched the webbing apart to show they were sewn together to form a makeshift climbers saddle. “It says it takes about a minute to reach the bottom,” Janet read.

“Or thirty-seconds if you go straight down,” I mumbled.” The man pushed the straps towards me.

Nine hours earlier, we’d eaten breakfast at our Beijing hotel, only two blocks from the Forbidden City, where we met a shuttle bus. Our driver jerked through a haze of congestion to make several stops and pick up more passengers. An hour later, past stop-and-go traffic and road construction, we reached open green meadows. Four hours later we arrived at Jinshanling, the beginning of our Great Wall trek.

The Wall is a string of segments spreading over 12,000 miles1 (the exact length is arguable). There are three main sections near Beijing. The Badaling location is most accessible, only 30km away. If you’ve seen pictures of The Great Wall in perfect condition, it’s likely they’re from this location. The other two sections, Mutianyu and Simatai, are more remote, about 70km from the city, and only accessible by charter bus. These sections are actually connected and can be trekked, which was exactly what we wanted.

Disappointed at the long ride, our enthusiasm was rekindled on our arrival. Thirty or so people piled off the bus. Younger hikers threw on their packs and, some in sandals, ran up the trail. We hung back to tighten shoes and make final adjustments.

From the parking area we tramped single file for several hundred feet to one-hundred ancient stone steps. At the top, slightly winded and breaking sweat, we took our first walk on The Great Wall. We stood for a moment, silent. I glanced at Janet and Charlotte, my hiking companions. Smiles creased their faces. Hopping with excitement, we began our trek.

The Wall ranges in height from about thirty to eighty feet, and averages fifteen feet wide. Where the Wall has been reconstructed it is pristine, like new. Fortunately, most of it is original. Large segments retain their shape and construction interrupted by lengths of broken and crumbling stone. In the distance it appeared to be a snake crawling across the undulating hills, as far as we could see.

With our first steps we acquired a band of hawkers. A few spoke words of English, but most stretched out arms to offer crinkled plastic bottles filled with brownish water, used maps, wood flutes or T-shirts with a mild chemical odor. As our pace settled, six women tagged along to present their wares and share the story of the wall. “Old, very old,” they said through crooked, yellow toothed smiles. “Mongolian,” they pointed to each other.

In less than a mile the restoration ended and we walked on original pavers from six hundred to two thousand years old. At spots the crumbling wall narrowed to shoulder width. Watch towers waited our arrival every two hundred feet or so. Our hiking boots slid on loose gravel and, at times, the steps, or what remains of steps, were so vertical they required we crawl on our hands and toes. Centuries old dust billowed with each step filling our noses and coating our tongues with a dry chalky substance.

Somewhere, probably at the steep inclines, we lost our entourage of hawkers and found ourselves hiking for miles alone. Occasionally we’d pass above workers at the base of the Wall, shoveling stones into baskets strapped to the backs of donkeys, reminiscent of their ancestors.

Throughout the six mile hike we encountered stretches of wall that appeared impossible to build in a countryside so rugged and remote. Even today it would be difficult. Watch towers ranged from small square outposts to two story fortresses with elegant arched passages and windows. We stopped often to take photographs, snack and meditate on the beauty. Time passed quickly and five hours later we reached the final climb.

Sweat dripped off our noses as we crept down a narrow stairway to a suspension bridge that spanned a deep rivered crevasse. We waited until another groups boots thumped single file across the wood planks to our end.

Not that we didn’t trust a bridge held together by wire cable, but a suspension bridge is like a high wire act-push down on one point and another bounces up. With each asynchronous step, we rose and fell. By the center, we held the wire side cables in a death grip.

Legs fatigued and shaky, we drug ourselves up a final series of eighty degree steep steps to reach the highest point on the Great Wall and our destination, the guard house at Simatai. At the top each of us instinctively raised our arms, Rocky style, in celebration and gazed at the dragon’s back we’d spent the day traversing.

A short descent down the guardhouse steps and we were off the Wall. To our right, the sheer cliff and ahead, a steep one mile trail that led down to our waiting water-taxi. The old man sat on his three legged stool on a metal platform hundreds of feet above the Simatai Reservoir. I approached the rusty confabulation of pulleys and cables.

“It’s a zip line,” Janet said cheerfully, “nine hundred feet down.”

The old man stretched the webbing apart to show the makeshift climbers saddle. “It says it takes about a minute to reach the bottom,” Janet read.

“Or thirty seconds if you go straight down,” I mumbled.” The man pushed the straps towards me, but before I moved, Charlotte jumped the line and grabbed the stirrup, “This is exciting,” she yelled as she lifted each foot through the openings and adjusted the strapping to form a seat. She handed the toothless operator a few bills and as he stuffed them in his pants pocket, he simultaneously clipped the saddle to a pulley mounted on the cable and shoved. She slid off the platform with a scream that disappeared into her descent. In an instant her bright youthful face went from close-up to wide-angle as she slid towards the microscopic platform at the bottom.

Amidst Charlotte’s screams, the gentleman pushed another saddle towards me. I hesitated, then climbed in. As I threaded my hiking boot through the webbing, he jerked, attached me to a pulley and I instantly became the bullet descending at the speed light. I heard a distant scream, Charlotte I thought, until I realized it was me.

A short ferry ride and we boarded another bus for our four hour return to Beijing. A thirteen hour day filled to the limit with sights, sounds and experiences of a lifetime. We’d walked in the footsteps of the ancients and tested the gods of the zip-line and survived. Now – time for an ice cold beer.

Hiking the Bibbulmun Track, Australia

Southwest Australia is one of the worlds 25 biodiversity hotspots and this walk will take you through many of the habitats that make this region so spectacular and world renowned. The entire walk takes six to eight weeks to complete or can be done in shorter stages and is exclusively for walkers only, if you are interested in mountain biking please see the Munda Biddi trail article. The Munda Biddi trail takes a similar course and runs from Kalamunda to Albany as well.

Towns along the trail can be days apart, the longest being 12 days walk so it is important that you carry plenty of food and water. The only source of water on the track is at the campsites which are located a days walk apart, the rain is collected in rainwater tanks which are not filled by any other means. Water may be limited after summer so if you are planning on walking in April/May keep this in mind.

Unlike other famous trails the Bibbulmun is not very crowded and it could be days between seeing other hikers. But it can get busy on long weekends and holidays particularly at the campsites that are easily accessible.

When to go:

Temperatures in the region varies during the year, summer (December – March) is hot and dry with bush fires being a real threat. So the track should be walked in the cooler months (notice cooler- don’t be surprised if in the middle of winter there is at least a few days with temps above 25OC) any time between April and November. October and November can be really hot and dry, and nights get cold in late winter and early spring. Most rain falls in July and August and the southern half of the trail tends to get more rain.

The wildflower season peaks in September and October, can vary based on rainfall and temperatures. The bush comes alive with hundreds of different flowers and colours and should be seen.

Mosquitoes are found throughout the year on the track and the open shelters don’t provide protection from them so a mosquito net is recommended to prevent possible infection with River Ross Virus, some walkers will use the shell (sealed inner) from their tent for protection.

Route:

The track can be walked in both directions, with walkers choosing the direction that suits them or is easier to travel too (more on this later). The most common way to walk is from north to south. The track passes through the towns of Kalamunda, Dwellingup, Collie, Balingup, Pemberton, Northcliffe, Walpole, Denmark and Albany where hikers stay for one or two nights to resupply, wash their clothes and enjoy the hospitality.

The track is well marked with triangular markers with a snake on it, although snakes are commonly found in the bush it is not a warning to walkers, the snake is the Waugal which is a mythological rainbow serpent from the Aboriginal dreamtime. The track is broken down into 9 sections with 8 maps:

Getting There:

If you are walking the entire track you will need to get to/from Kalamunda and Albany. The northern trailhead is on the corner of Mundaring Weir Road and Railway Road, Kalamunda. From the Esplanade busport in Perth you can catch the 282, 296, 299 buses. Check out Transperth for timetables and fees. A taxi from Perth cbd to Kalamunda cost approximately Aud$55, and Aud$36 from the Airport.

The southern trailhead is 409km south of Perth at the Old Railway Station on Proudlove Parade, Albany. Transwa provides buses between Perth and Albany for Aud$59.90 one way. Skywest provides flights to and from Albany for min $186.

Transwa also offers buses from many of the towns along the track to Perth if you want a shorter walk.

Accommodation:

For the majority of the walk you will be camping. There are 49 campsites spaced a day’s walk apart and each has a three-sided timber shelter and are designed to sleep 8-15 people. They are free and offered on a first come first served basis so you should be bring a tent for times when the shelter is full. Each campsite also has a sit-down pedestal pit toilet, rainwater tank, picnic tables and tent sites.

In the towns there are no campsites so you will need to stay in alternative accommodation,

Costs:

Their are no fees to walk the track and stay at the campsites, you will need to pay for accommodation in the towns, food, maps and equipment. There are 8 water resistant rip-proof colour maps that cover the entire track and are essential when taking on the Bibbulmun track as well as 2 compact guidebooks which show car access points, campsites, terrain profiles and distance tables. These are available here, and at some visitor information centres.

Individual maps (1-8) cost Au$11.50 each ($92 total)

or

Northern half map pack (1 to 4) cost Au$42

Southern half map pack (5 to 8) cost Au$42 ($84 total)

Northern Guidebook – covers Kalamunda to Donnelly River Village and includes map 1 to 4 cost Au$35

Southern Guidebook – covers Donnelly River Village to Albany and includes map 5 to 8 cost Au$35

Guided or Solo:

This is a walk that is best done at your own pace and with your own itinerary, if you want to stay a couple of days in a town go ahead or want to skip one you can. But because of the length of time required (not many people have 8 weeks free), or lack of hiking experience there are tours along the track that take in the best sections. The foundation offers tours in May and September that run for 9 days.