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Raja Ampat Islands: Your Quick Guide to Visiting this Tranquil Papuan Archipelago

Raja Ampat Islands are one of the most beautiful archipelagos not only in Southeast Asia, but also on Earth. Hence, it’s surely not too much if we highly recommend you to include this tourist destination in your bucket list, especially if you’re an enthusiastic, adventurous diving fan—the diving has been claimed as one of the world’s best by many authorities!

The Raja Ampat accommodation can be divided neatly into three categories. If you’re one of the beach bums, there are a growing number of homestays—Gam Island and Kri Island have so many options. Serious divers can opt for the dive resorts that also typically offer travel packages. And finally, for the ultimate choice, there are live-aboard dive boats, the floating dive resorts sailing sedately from one coral reef to the next. Often, some itineraries with those floating resorts also combine Raja Ampat with neighboring islands, such as Banda Islands of Maluku.

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It doesn’t matter where you put your head under the water, Raja Ampat will awe you with the rainbow of glowing corals and fish. Expect to get up close with giant clams, huge manta rays, schools of barracuda, parrotfish, and fusiliers even on a single dive. Snorkellers can also observe many of those species from above with many reefs always accessible easily even from the beach. In general, though, Raja Ampat is better suited to experienced divers, although some dive spots are relatively ideal for novices too. Reputable dive operators will always require you to provide proof of dive cards and valid insurance.

So, when to visit Raja Ampat? It’s an all-year destination, though many diving spots take a break from July through September as the seas can become pretty rough. For the best visibility and calmest waters for diving, November to March is the best time to visit. Beware of the time between May and October since the region receives the heaviest rain. Plan carefully and enjoy your Raja Ampat travel!

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The 5 Key Tips of Conquering Mt. Kilimanjaro

Hikers travel from all corners of the globe to climb to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Although climbing to the top of the Roof of Africa is not an easy task, you stand a better chance of success if you are adequately prepared and equipped for it. Here is a look at 5 key tips to guide you on this preparation:

Have the Right Attitude

It is often said that success is dependent on 75% attitude and 25% effort. Attitude is fundamental when it comes to conquering Mt. Kilimanjaro, the world’s highest free standing mountain. You should set your mind to the task and convince yourself that you must make it. Getting to the highest point, the Uhuru Peak at 5895M, calls for you to know the kind of challenges to expect along the way, and to be ready to overcome them when you finally encounter them. It does not matter how tired you will feel along the way as long as you keep going up. If you start with the right mental disposition no challenge will be too big for you to overcome.

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However, even with the right attitude, you may require a little expert help. Estimates show that about 65% of hikers fail to reach the peak. Your determination to increase your chances of success might require that you seek the services of a reputable operator to help you. Organized tours are preferred for this kind of arrangement, as they offer the best experience.

Prepare for Success

Proper mental preparation involves setting clear cut goals. It is very important to do so when you set yourself to conquer Africa’s highest mountain. Indeed, hiking experts strongly advise on mental preparation as the key to overcoming 50% of the challenges that you are likely to encounter along the way. The reason for having a strong mental preparation is simple. You are likely to encounter two kinds of people as you climb up: those who have success stories, and those who did not make it to the top. Of course, the anecdotes of those who succeed are likely to buoy you up. However, it is the ones who have given up that will dampen your resolve. If you are not properly prepared mentally, you could be influenced to give up along the way. Therefore, before you embark on the climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro set your goals; and ensure that you stick to your objective to the very end.

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A level of physical fitness is also necessary if you are to successfully reach the summit. You can do some practice hikes to improve on your stamina in readiness for the climb. Also, make a point to see your doctor for a medical exam before departure. You would not want to get an ailment at close to 20,000 feet.

You must remember, however, that no amount of determination should supersede your health. Ensure that your AMS symptoms are closely monitored. Listen to the guides if they advise that you descend.

Be Prepared for Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is a common condition that is experienced by hikers who tackle very high altitude areas. At over 19,341 feet high, the biggest cause of failed summit attempts in Mt. Kilimanjaro is altitude sickness. It is a condition that might make you want to give up on the quest altogether. Altitude sickness is characterized by nausea, muscle cramps, extreme exhaustion, diarrhea and severe head ache. It can affect anyone, regardless of their level of physical fitness. Fortunately, there is medication (like Ibuprofen and Diamox) that you can take before the climb to mitigate the effects of altitude sickness.

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Another good way to fight altitude sickness on the ascent of Mt. Kilimanjaro is to acclimatize. You can do so by choosing a route that has a gentle ascent – one that will take not less than 6 days.

Pack Carefully

Hikers are advised to strike a balance between what you need, and travelling light. Mt. Kilimanjaro’s climate is quite diverse, and a variety of clothing is needed. Among the must-have items are sun protection, warm clothes for the upper reaches, a first aid kit and a sleeping bag. It is possible to hire most of these equipment on-site. Be keen on quality as you do so.

The key to traveling light lies in packing only what you need. It is possible to hire porters on-site, and many of them are able to carry loads of up to 20kgs. If you decide to use them, remember to carry some cash for their tip.

Budget for the Trip

A Mt. Kilimanjaro hike costs anywhere in the region of $2,500 to $5,500 per person. This amount is inclusive of food, camping, transportation to and from the mountain, guides, porters and park fees. Most of the guides and porters speak Swahili, but they also have a good command of English, so communication skills should not be an issue. They are usually well trained and can handle basic emergencies. It is common practice to tip the porters: carry some cash for this.

You may want to use the shorter routes to save on some money, but remember this will compromise on your acclimatization attempts, and you could end up suffering from altitude sickness and failing to reach the summit.

Being the world’s highest walkable mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro provides an allure that is irresistible. The above five tips should provide you with the guidelines you need to pass through the five climate zones that you will encounter as you summit the Roof of Africa.

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Menjangan Island: Brief Guide of What to Do and See There

Menjangan Island is situated just off the northwestern tip of Bali. This small island is also located in the Bali Barat National Park, a protected marine reserve. Surrounded by acres of wonderful coral reef garden where a wide diverse of eco biology shelters there, this island has become popular especially among the divers and snorkelers. The island’s south side is a famous place for tourists and local people alike to dive for coral reef exploration. With Bali Barat National Park surrounding, the 12 dive sites are always protected.

The popularity of this tourist destination has made Menjangan Island a paradise for tourists with so many Menjangan Island resort areas built. For the divers and snorkelers, there are no dangerous currents this area to contend with, so it’s relatively safe to dive and snorkel any time of the year. And aside from the high diversity of beautiful coral species and tropical fish, you can also observe the different kinds of shorebirds and sea birds that frequent the small island.  Plus, you can also spot the Hawkesbill Turtle that frequents the area.

The name ‘Menjangan’ itself means ‘deer’ in English. That is why this small island is also often referred to as Deer Island. The reason is that the island also happens to provide a shelter to the Barking Deer, which is also known as Muntjac.

To reach the island, hire a motorboard from Labuhan Lalang or Pemuteran. Labuhan Lalang is located at the main road towards Singaraja, accessible by minibus from both Singaraja and Gilimanuk. You can also travel by private car from Singaraja to Labuhan Lalang or Pemutaran. If you travel by minibus, the travel time may be double at least, considering the waiting times and stops on the way. Needless to say, when you go to Bali Island next time, be sure to visit Menjangan Island for all the attractions it offers, including Menjangan Island diving!

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Tanjung Puting National Park: Embark on Your Tropical Adventure

Tanjung Puting National Park was initially a wildlife preserve before gaining its park status along with an international reputation. Now, this national park has become Kalimantan’s most popular tourist destination. Accessible via direct flights from Jakarta and Surabaya, it seems like there’s no reason not to visit Tanjung Puting, especially considering the wonder and adventure you can enjoy and experience from one of natural wonders in Indonesian archipelago.

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Sign up for the tour. With many options to choose from, pick one which Tanjung Puting tour price will adjust to your budget. The Park itself is best viewed from a two-leveled live-abroad boat called klotok which travels up Sekonyer River to Camp Leakey. Lounge on the deck during the day to observe the lush tropical jungle with binocular or watch for the colorful kingfisher that flashes quickly. In the evening, spot the sight of proboscis monkeys seeking for protection amidst the treetops. During your tour, take the opportunity to sleep outside as the boat is tied up on the river, enjoying the hum of the rainforest to lull you.Tanjung Puting National Park

Orangutans, however, are still the best known animals in this national park. Here, you can find this endangered ape roaming freely. There are also Malaysian sun bears, clouded leopards, civers, barking deer, sambar deer, mouse deer, and banteng live there. In addition to that, Tanjung Puting also hosts more than 230 species of birds, including the famous bird lakes—the seasonal rookeries for half a dozen threatened species of waterbirds. The Park also has dozens of frogs and snakes, two species of crocodiles, and numerous endangered species including a fish known as the Arwana.

The trip is also a great introduction to the rainforest, especially the trip with a klotok, which will easily make the most memorable experience to have on Kalimantan Island. Fortunately, some klotok now are already outfitted with freshwater tanks, which definitely will let you enjoy your Tanjung Puting tour.