Monday, January 25, 2021

Fiji

Fiji Flag



"Soft Coral Capital of the World"




Why visit Fiji?
Island of paradise offers beautiful beaches, coral reefs, culture, fire walking, exquisite world class scuba diving, golf, hiking, ocean kayaking, lagoons, snorkeling, surfing, white water rafting, windsurfing, and yachting. 


A popular destination for:
  • Amateur & Professional Photographers
  • Bucket List Destination
  • Cruise: Disembark/Embark
  • Destination Wedding
  • Groups: Family, Friends, Incentive Travel, Multigenerational, Reunions
  • Milestones: Anniversary, Birthday, Honeymoon, Retirement
  • Romance

Tokoriki Island, Fiji. Photo Credit: Gary Runn/Unsplash


At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Bounty rum, bark cloth, cannibal forks, coral, grass skirts, pottery, shell jewelry, and wood carvings. 
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Kokoda (marinated fish). Purini (burnt sugar pudding). Roti (bread).
  • Local Drink to Try: Bu (fresh coconut). Fiji Beer. Fiji Watter (bottled). Kava (national drink). 

Photo Credit: KuyaAndy/Pixabay 



Fun Facts
  • Since Second Millennium BC occupied by humans.
  • In 1643, Abel Tasman, Dutch Explorer arrived.
  • In 1774, Captain James Cook, British Navigator arrived.
  • In 1874, became a Colony of Britain.
  • In 1970, became independent.
  • In 2016, Cyclone Winston (Category 5) made landfall causing approximately $1USD billion in damages.
  • Fiji consists of 332 Islands, 106 are inhabited. Approximately 522 smaller islets. 
  • Majority of the population resides on Vanua Levu and Viti Levu.
  • Majority of the islands are volcanic but none are active.
  • Nickname "Chieftain's Leap" (Wakaya Island) results from citizens leaping over the cliff to avoid being tortured and cannibalism. Tasting of the flesh of the enemy was done "to indicate supreme hatred and not out of relish for a gastronomic treat", said William MacGregor (1909-1914), Lieutenant.
  • The first born son (Jean-Michel Cousteau, French Oceanographic Explorer) of the Jacques Yves Cousteau (1910-1997), French Explorer partly owns Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji, Savusavu (Vanua Levu Island).
  • Approximately 83% of the island is "communal land", which can only be leased but not sold.
  • Largely exports bottled water and sugar cane.
  • Fiji Islands were known as the Bligh Islands.
  • Mount Tomanivi (Viti Levu) is the highest point.
  • On Vatukoula Island gold mining is practiced.
  • International visitors are usually from Australia, United States, and New Zealand.
  • Their beauty was filmed in Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004), Cast Away (2000), Mr Robinson Crusoe (1932), Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991),  and The Blue Lagoon (1980).
  • Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma is the largest Christian denomination population.
  • High School Students continue for a five year education or leave after three years following an entry examination.
  •  Rugby is their national sport.
  • Fijians diets are coconut based inspired by Chinese dishes and Indian curries.
  • Underground cooking "lovo" is common for special events: birthdays,  funerals, holidays, and weddings.


Photo Credit: David Mark/Pixabay 


Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (February) Festival of Colors, (July) Bula Festival, Hindu Fire Walking, South Indian Fire Walking Festival, (August) Festival of the Friendly North, Hibiscus Festival, (September) Coral Coast Festival, Fiji Regatta Week, Sugar Festival, (October) Festival of Lights, (November) Blue Sky Fiji Music Festival, Diwali Festival, and South Pacific World Music Festival.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Holi, Ram Naumi, Easter, Palm Sunday, Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Day, National Youth Day, Queen's Birthday, Fiji Day, and Boxing Day.

Photo Credit: HJ/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • Tourists primarily visit the Coral Coast, Denarau Island, Mamanuca Islands, and Nadi. 
  • Plan to dress modestly off the beach and out of the hotel or resort.
  • English is the official language, although natives often speak Fijian or Hindustani as well.
  • During low tides Viti Levu's beaches become tidal flats.
  • Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands offer the picturesque white sand beaches and blue lagoons.
  • Ambulance services are not widely available.
  • Offers a variety of world class five-star hotels and resorts. 
  • Fijian Fire Walking is over hot stones vs Indian Fire Walking is over glowing embers for religious purposes.
  • Hyperbaric Chambers are not in service, the nearest chambers are in Australia and New Zealand.
  • A 9% Government Value Added Tax (VAT) is applied to all goods and services.
  • A 5% Environment & Climate Adaptation Levy is applied at hotels and resorts.
  • Prior to your airport departure with original purchase receipt you may claim claim a Tourism VAT refund on your Government Value Added Tax (VAT) charges.
  • Waterfalls along the Lower Navua River (Viti Levu Island) are picturesque.
  • Peak Surfing Season is April - October (Tavarua and Namotu Islands).
  • Do not purchase turtle shells or whalebone goods!
  • Collected seashells must be declared!
  • Do not wander into villages uninvited. 
  • Most stores are closed on Sunday.
  • Local custom upon receiving kava (psychoactive drink)  is to clap once (cupped hands), say "bula," and gulp down. Return the empty cup to the giver and clap three times, saying "vinaka".
  • Professional drones must be pre-registered.
  • Ferry Service connects to neighboring islands.
  • Safety Inspections for equipment and facilities do not regularly occur.
  • Diseases prevalent: Dengue, Chikungunya, Typhoid, and Measles.
  • Avoid public transportation for safety reasons.

This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity upon return and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Tourist VISA not required for visits under 4 months.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $10,000USD.


Winter Season is Northern Hemisphere's summertime. 
Subject to cyclones, earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides, monsoon, and tsunami.


  • Best Time to Visit: April - October
  • Coolest Months: May - October
  • Hottest Months: November - April
  • Peak Season: July - September

Hard Rock Cafe (Denarau Island) Nadi Viti Levu, Fiji. Photo Credit: Birgit Ligotzky/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Levuka Historical Port Town

Photo Credit: Pixabay 


Ready to embark on custom and personalized services, your journey begins with Louvet Travel

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"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page" Saint Augustine


                                       All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Ethiopia

Ethiopia Flag




Why visit Ethiopia?
For the well traveled adventurous traveler seeking to enjoy architecture, archaeological treasures, birdwatching, culture, fossilized remains, game reserves, historical sites, markets, mountainous landscape, religious shrines, ruins, solid rock churches, and trekking.



Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia. Photo Credit: Solen Feyissa/Pixabay 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Amber, biblical goods, blankets, coffee, handwoven cotton clothes,  leather shields, carves, silver, tribal daggers, and wood carvings.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Ayibe (cottage cheese). Dabo Kolo (baked bread). Ful (breakfast fava beans). Injera (flatbread). Kinche (porridge). Kitfo (raw beef).
  • Local Drink to Try: Atmet (barley and oat-flour). Borde (fermented). Buna (traditional brew coffee). Tej (honey wine). Tella (barley beer).


Arba Minch, Ethiopia. Photo Credit: Taylor Wilcox/Unsplash 



Fun Facts
  • In 1927, Haile Selassie I (1892-1930) was crowned Emperor (1930-1974).
  • Until 1936, occupied by Italy.
  • In 1941, took control from Italy.
  • In 1960, Shambel Abebe Bikila (1932-1973), Marathon Runner won a Gold Medal during the Summer Olympics (Rome, Italy) running barefoot.
  • In 1964, Shambel Abebe Bikila (1932-1973), Marathon Runner won his second Gold Medal during the Tokyo Olympics (Tokyo, Japan).
  • In 1994, an American Paleoanthropologist and Professor from the University of California (Berkeley) found the oldest hominid ever discovered dating back from 4.2 million year ago.
  • In 1996, Fatuma Roba (1973), Long Distance Runner won a Gold Medal during the Summer Olympics (Atlanta, Georgia).
  • In 2019, Archaeologists discovered a mole rat diet from the Middle-Stone Age.
  • Previously known as "Hidden Empire".
  • Uses the Julian Calendar; 12 months of 30 days and the remaining days forming a 13th month. New year starts on September 11.
  • Native plant, khat (or qat) contains alkaloid cathinone. Leaves are chewed for a euphoria stimulant and loss of appetite.
  • Third most populous African country.
  • Home to some of the oldest skeletal evidence of anatomically modern humans ever found.
  • First independent African member to the League of Nations and the United Nations.
  • Land belongs only to "the state and the people", citizens may lease land (up to 99 years), and are unable to mortgage or sell.
  • Largely exports coffee and corn.
  • Field and track are the primary sports.
  • Ambo Mineral Water is sourced from the springs in Ambo Senkele.
  • City of Aksum is the heart of the "most powerful state between the Eastern Roman Empire and Persia".
  • "Lucy" is the fossilized female bones discovered dating back to four million years ago.


Fasil Ghebbi Castle, Gondar (Amhara Region), EthiopiaPhoto Credit: MariamS/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) Genna Festival, Jan Meda International Cross Country, Timkat Feast, (March) Ethiopia Games, Tensae Cycle Race, (May) Addis International Film Festival, Ethiopian Film Festival, Music Festival, (September) Meskal Festival, Meskal Festival, (November) Great Ethiopian Run, and (December) Arba Minch Festival of Music & Dance.
  • Holidays: Ethiopian Christmas, Epiphany, Victory at Adwa Day, Good Friday, Easter, International Workers' Day, Ethiopian Patriots Victory Day, Derg Downfall Day, New Year's Day, and Finding of the True Cross.


Ethiopia. Photo Credit: Peter Wieser/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • Majority of the population is stricken by corruption, hunger, poor sanitation, poverty, and weak infrastructure.
  • Prone to droughts.
  • Children often say "ferengi" (foreigner).
  • Religion prohibits consumption of animal products Wednesday thru Friday.
  • Citizens generally eat with their fingers. Local custom, one eats with their right hand. 
  • The Eritrea border is closed to all travelers.
  • Thousands of unexploded landmines exist.
  • Credit and debit cards are not widely accepted.
  • Averages seven hours of sunshine per day.
  • Majority of the population lacks access to a waste treatment facility. 
  • Clock time is different, instead of 00:00 it's 06:00 which best coincides with sunrise throughout the year.
  • Export Permits and receipts are required for animal skins, antiques, precious stones, and religious artifacts.
  • Beyond personal use laptops and video equipment must be declared upon arrival and departure.
  • Avoid demonstrations and protests.
  • Do not walk alone, especially at night.
  • Crimes known to occur pickpocketing, purse snatching, stolen passports, theft from vehicles, and violent robberies.
  • Due to parasitic disease Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia) do not stand or swim in still water.
  • Do not drink tap water.
  • Sanitation is often considered below our standards.
  • Your cell phone must be registered upon arrival. SIM cards will only work with registered cell phones.
  • Same-sex couples are usually unable to share a hotel room. Consensual activity is illegal and punishable by imprisonment by local law.
  • Medical facilities and practitioners are extremely limited; shortages and limitations exist.
  • The high altitude is known to impact travelers fatigue, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and sleep.
  • Prevalent diseases include Cholera, Malaria, Rabies, Schistosomiasis, and Tuberculosis.
  • Public transportation is unregulated and considered unsafe.
  • Ethiopian Driver’s License required to drive.
  • By local law, it's illegal to give money to beggars when your vehicle is stopped.


Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, Lalibela, Ethiopia. Photo Credit: D Mz/Pixabay 



This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity upon return and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Tourist VISA required.
  • Yellow Fever vaccination required. 
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $1000ETB.

Since, 8/31/20 a Level 3: Reconsider Travel Advisory due to civil unrest and communication disruptions. 
Subject to tropical monsoons.

  • Best Time to Visit: October - June
  • Coolest Months: November - February
  • Hottest Months: July - September
  • Peak Season: September - January


Ethiopia. Photo Credit: D Mz/Pixabay 



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Aksum, Fasil Ghebbi, Harar Jugol the Fortified Historic Town, Konso Cultural Landscape, Lower Valley of the Awash, Lower Valley of the Omo, Rock-Hewn Churches, Lalibela, Simien National Park, and Tiya.


Mount Entoto, Addis Ababa,Ethiopia. Photo Credit: Alexander Jungmann/Pixabay 



Ready to embark on custom and personalized services, your journey begins with Louvet Travel

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"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page" Saint Augustine


                                            All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice. 

Eswatini

Eswatini Flag




Why visit Eswatini?
Visitors will enjoy birdwatching, culture, exotic wildlife, fly fishing, game reserves, golf, hiking, horseback riding, markets, mountain biking, picturesque terrains, prehistoric rock art paintings, waterfalls, and whitewater rafting. 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Artificial flowers, baskets, batiks, battle axes, beadwork, calabashes, candles, drums, hand blown glass, leather goods, local gemstones, mats, pottery, soapstone carvings, and walking sticks.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Sidvudvu (pumpkin porridge). 
  • Local Drink to Try: Umcombotsi (sour beer).


Fun Facts
  • Since 1986, ruled by King Mswati III.
  • Formerly known as Swaziland.
  • Wealth is determined by the number of cattle one owns.
  • A man must pay the Father of the Bride (dowry) in cattle to marry.
  • Polygamy is commonly practiced.
  • Home as the leading sugar exporter for Coca-Cola.
  • Traditional healers throw bones to predict ones future.
  • South-central black rhinoceros are critically endangered.
  • The traditional beehive hut has three structures for cooking, sleeping, and storage. 
  • Healers (Sangoma) are chosen by their ancestors, trained followed by a graduation ceremony.


Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (Feburary) Marula Festival, (May) Bushfire Music Festival,
    (July) Sibebe Survivor, (August) 
    Reed Dance, (October) Simunye Country Fair, and (December) First Fruits.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Birthday of King Mswati III, National Flag Day, Labor Day, Ascension Day, King Father's Birthday, Somhlolo Day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and Incwala Day.


Good to Know
  • A great stop over when visiting Mozambique or South Africa.
  • Law prohibits photography of government buildings, military vehicles, police, official ceremonies, royal family, royal palace, or soldiers.
  • Do not speak negatively against the royal family.
  • HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis are widespread.
  • Impacts of climate change brings concern to food insecurity.
  • Do not display your cell phone or large amounts of cash.
  • Do not wear expensive jewelry or carry valuables in public.
  • Avoid demonstrations, protests, and strikes.
  • Medical facilities are limited.
  • Jaywalking is subject to a fine and temporary detention.
  • Mini bus taxis are often overcrowded.

This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity upon return and two blank pages for entry stamp.
  • Tourist VISA not required for visits under 30 days.
  • Yellow Fever vaccination required from select countries. 

Seasons are in reverse of the Northern Hemisphere; December is mid summer and June is mid winter. 

  • Best Time to Visit: May - September
  • Coolest Months: April - September
  • Hottest Months: October - March
  • Peak Season: December


Ready to embark on custom and personalized services, your journey begins with Louvet Travel

Your one stop source: Accommodations I Air I Car Rentals I Cruises I Disney Excursions I Tours I Transfers I Travel Insurance I Villa Rentals



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"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page" Saint Augustine


                                          All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Estonia

Estonia Flag



Why visit Estonia?
Known for beaches, boating, canoeing, churches, culture, fishing, golf, historical sites, horseback riding, islands, kayaking, lakes, medieval castles, manor houses, museums, national parks, pagan ruins, saunas, skiing, and winter sports.


Saaremaa (largest island), Estonia. Photo Credit: Makalu/Pixabay 





At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Amber, caviar, dolomite marble, juniper wood carvings, hand-knit sweaters, leather goods, pottery, and vodka.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Curd Snack (sweet curd cheese). Hernetatrapuder (porridge). Kiluvõileib (sandwich). Leivasupp (bread soup). Mulgipuder (national dish). Rukkileib (black rye bread).
  • Local Drink to Try: Kasemahl (birch sap). Vana Tallinn (herbal liqueur).

Tallinn, Estonia. Photo Credit: Martin Hochreiter/Pixabay 


Fun Facts
  • In 1807, A Le Coq brewery was founded.
  • In 1820, Saku Brewery was founded.
  • In 1918, became independent from Germany and later invaded by Russia.
  • In 1920, Russia resigned all sovereign claims.
  • In 1926, radio broadcast began.
  • During 1930, engaged in "secret military cooperation" with Finland.
  • In 1943, thousands fled to Finland to avoid fighting in the German military.
  • Held 1980 Summer Olympics Sailing Regatta (Tallinn).
  • In 2001, won the Eurovision Song Contest 
  • In 2004, became a NATO Member.
  • In 2005, the first country in the world to hold internet voting in local elections. 
  • In 2011, adopted Euro currency.
  • In 2016, Kelly Sildaru, Freestyle Skier  won the  Winter X Games becoming the youngest gold medalist (13).
  • Home to NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.
  • Has 2222 islands and over 1400 lakes. 
  • The city of Tartu has been burned down over 65 times.
  • Island lore, place a doughnut-shape stone on the pile of stones and your wish will be granted (Hiiumaa Beach).
  • Citizen Developers were instrumental to computer application, Skype.
  • Saaremaa Island was off limits for many years.
  • Rare Siberian Flying Squirrel is present (east area).
  • Healthy males between 18-28 serve in the military for 8 or 11 month term tours of duty.
  • All their natural gas is imported from Russia.
  • Port of Tallinn is one of the largest port enterprises of the Baltic Sea.
  • First post-Soviet Republic country to legalize same-sex marriages.
  • Students learn English, Finnish, French, German, Russian, Spanish, or Swedish.

Pühtitsa Convent, 

Kuremäe, Estonia. 
Photo Credit: Makalu/Pixabay 


Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) Baroque Music Festival, Tudengijazz Festival, (March) International Conference on Management, Economics & Social Science (ICMESS), Meremess, Saaremaa Opera Days, Tallinn Music Week, (April) Harpsichord Days Festival, International Choir Festival, International Conference of the Estonian Nurse Directors Association (EstNDA), Jazzkaar Festival, (May) Tallinn Craft Beer Weekend, (June) Grillfest Good Food Festival, Into The Valley Festival, International Folklore Festival BALTICA, Old Town Days, (July) Estonian Song Festivals, Haapsalu Tchaikovsky Festival, Hard Rock Camp, Hiiu Folk Festival, Juu Jaab Festival, Ollesummer, Parnu Opera Days, Tallinn Organ Festival, Tallinn Song Festival Grounds, Viljandi Music Festival, Voru Folklore Festival, (August) August Blues, August Dance Festival, Culture Night, Kuressaare Maritime Festival, Leigo Lake Music Festival, Tallinn Pride, Tartuff, Weekend Festival Baltic, White Lady Festival, (September) Walking Lights Festival, (October) Rainbow Jazz Festival, Tartu City Marathon, (November) St Martin Day Fair, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Tallinn Food Fest, (December) Christmas Jazz, Christmas Market, Kalana Saund Winter Wonder, and Midwinter Night's Dream.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, The Epiphany, Independence Day, Anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty, Good Friday, Native Language Day, Easter Sunday, Spring Day, Whitsunday, National Flag Day, Day of Mourning and Commemoration, Victory Day, Midsummer Day, Restoration Independence Day, European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, Resistance Fighting Day, Local Government Day, All Souls' Day, Fathers' Day, Day of Declaration of Sovereignty, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.

Port of Tallinn, Estonia. Photo Credit: Angelo Giordano/Pixabay 


Good to Know
  • Old Hanseatic Tallinn is considered one of the most beautiful Eastern Europe Cities.
  • Ski Season starts late December, best in the south.
  • Ski tracks are often lit by torches.
  • Late summer the sunrise is around 3AM and sunset around midnight.
  • Lunch is their main meal.
  • By law you must wear small reflectors on clothing during darkness outside. Failure to do so is subject to $50-$500USD fine.
  • Pickpockets are known to target tourists.
  • Crumpled, defaced, discolored, or torn U.S. currency is often rejected.
  • Has zero tolerance for Driving Under the Influence (DUI).
  • Beyond metropolitan cities, medical care is considered below our standards.
  • Seatbelts are mandatory.
  • It's illegal to turn right at a red stop light.


Viru Gate, Tallinn, Estonia. Photo Credit: Aleksander Trunov/Pixabay 


This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with three months of validity upon return and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $10,000USD.


Palmse Manor, Haljala Parish (Lääne-Viru County), Estonia. Photo Credit: Ningel/Pixabay 


  • Best Time to Visit: May - September
  • Coldest Month: January - February
  • Hottest Month: July 
  • Peak Season: 

Haapsalu Castle, Haapsalu, Estonia. Photo Credit: Pixabay



Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Historic Centre (Old Town) of Tallinn and Struve Geodetic Arc.


Rakvere Castle, Rakvere, Estonia. Photo Credit: AI Leino/Pixabay 



Ready to embark on custom and personalized services, your journey begins with Louvet Travel

Your one stop source: Accommodations I Air I Car Rentals I Cruises I Disney Excursions I Tours I Transfers I Travel Insurance I Villa Rentals




Stay connected, find us online: Alignable Facebook  LinkedIn  Pinterest  Slack  Twitter 

"The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page" Saint Augustine


                                             All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Subject to change without notice. 

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