Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Senegal

Senegal Flag


"Bulge of Africa"


Why visit Senegal?
Known for beaches, birdwatching, culture, fishing, music, historical sites, and villages.



Photo Credit: Mariam/Pixabay 



At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Beads, drums, glass paintings, masks, metal sculptures, musical instruments, printed fabrics, shell jewelry, wicker goods, and wood carvings.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Banana Glacé (dessert). Bassi-Salté (stew). Chere (couscous). Footi (vegetable sauce). Maafe (stew). Thiakry (pudding). Thieboudienne (fish dish).
  • Local Drink to Try: Attaya (tea). Bissap (juice). Dakhar (tamarind juice). Flag (beer). Gazelle (beer). Gingembre (ginger brew).

Fun Facts
  • West African country.
  • Exports calcium phosphate, chemicals, cotton, fabrics, fish, and groundnuts.
  • The story-telling profession (griots) is passed down by generations; it requires years of apprenticeship training in genealogy, history and music. 
  • African Renaissance Monument (Dakar) is the tallest statue in Africa.
  • First African country to host an Olympic event, 2026 Summer Youth Olympics (Dakar).

Photo Credit: François BENOIS/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (January) Abéné Festival, (February) Festival of Foundiougne, (April) Rites & Initiation Ceremonies, (May) Dak’Art Biennale, Exhibition & Festival Gorée Island, Kaay Fecc, St Louis Jazz Festival, (September) Kankourang Exit Festival, (October) Festival of the King, (November) Dakar Big Carnaval, Dakar Music Festival, Gorée Diaspora Festival, (December) Abéné Festivalo, Festival International du Film de Quartier, and Le Fanal.
  • Holidays: New Year, Independence Day, Easter Monday, Labour Day, Korité, Day Off for Korité, Ascension Day, Whit Monday, Tabaski, Tamkharit, Assumption of Mary, Grand Magal de Touba, Maouloud, All Saints' Day, and Christmas Day.

Good to Know
  • Not the ideal destination for budget conscious travelers.
  • Considered one of the best developed tourist industries in Africa. 
  • Dress conservatively.
  • Required to carry copies of your government issued ID at all times.
  • Official language is French. 
  • Cuisine is influenced by North African, French, and Portuguese.
  • Southern region experiences the most rain.
  • Riptides are strong.
  • Avoid swimming alone, on isolated beaches.
  • Avoid Casamance region.
  • Rainy Season is July - September.
  • Due to Harmattan winds between January - February air pollution is effected.
  • Dry Season is December - April.
  • Outside of the major cities lacks luxury lodging options.
  • Most picturesque fine sandy white beaches are in Petite Cot.
  • Known for shark, swordfish and tuna fishing.
  • Homosexuality is illegal, punishable 1-5 years in prisons and a fine of 1,000,000fCFA (approximately $2,000USD).
  • Beware of pickpocketing, purse-snatchers, and street crime.
  • Remote areas are known to have landmines.
  • Avoid demonstrations.
  • Lacks medical facilities and treatment centers.
  • Avoid tap water consumption.
  • Sanitation does not meet western standards.
  • Tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections do not commonly occur. 
  • Prevalent Diseases: Malaria, Measles, Meningococcal Meningitis, Rabies, Tuberculosis, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and Zika.
  • Avoid swimming or wading in still waters due to Bilharzia (parasite).
  • City of Dakar beaches are considered polluted. 


Photo Credit: Pierre2424/Pixabay 



This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Tourist VISA required.
  • Yellow Fever Vaccination required. 

Prone to droughts and Harmattan winds.

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

Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Bassari, Fula & Bedik Cultural Landscapes, Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, Island of Goree, Island of Saint-Louis, Niokolo-Koba National Park, Saloum Delta, and Stone Circles of Senegambia.


Photo Credit: Pierre2424/Pixabay 



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

Monday, October 24, 2022

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Flag



Why visit Saudi Arabia?
For the traveler seeking to enjoy Arabic culture, archaeological sites, desert scenery, history, horse racing, markets, religious shrines, and ruins.


At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Camel chairs, carpets, coffeepots, gold, Hofuf pots, hookahs, and pearls.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Kabsa (rice dish). Mutabbaq (stuffed pancake). Saleeg (rice dish).
  • Local Drink to Try: Sobia (cold drink).

Fun Facts
  • Customs and traditions that date back to the 7th Century (601AD - 700AD).
  • Since 2018, women are empowered to have a Driver’s License and legally drive.
  • Second largest oil producer and exporter in the world.

Photo Credit: SofieLayla Thal/Pixabay 



Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (February) National Festival of Janadriyah, The Saudi Cup, (March) AlUla Hot Air Balloon Experience, Historic Jeddah Festival, Riyadh Spring Festival, Symphony Under The Stars, (April) King's Camel Race, (June) Saudi Comic Con, (July) Grand Hajj Symposium, Summer Festival, (August) Al Qassim Date Festival, Sharqiah Season Festival, Souk Okaz, (September) Hala Jeddah Festival, Riyadh International Book Fair, (October) Davos in the DesertFuture Investment Initiative Institute, Riyadh Spring Festival, (November) Red Sea International Film Festival, (December) Jeddah International Book Fair, MDL Beast, and Winter at Tantora Festival.
  • Holidays: The Feast of the End of Ramadan, The Feast of the End of Hajj, Founding Day, and Saudi National Day. 

Good to Know
  • Do not consider visiting unless you're willing to adhere to conservative Islamic attire requirements. 
  • Land border crossings with Qatar are closed.
  • Avoid Yemen area travel.
  • Dress modestly.
  • Business travelers require a sponsor.
  • Commercial or personal drone use requires approval from the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA).
  • Has no taxes.
  • Public display of non-Islamic religious items is not permitted.
  • Horse Racing Season is October - May.
  • Consumption, importation, manufacture, or possession of alcohol or illegal drugs is severe punishment.
  • Women should avoid traveling alone.
  • Tourist VISA are granted to select organized tour groups.
  • The weekend constitutes Thursday and Friday.
  • Criticism of Islam or Muslim is not permitted.
  • Friday is considered a day of prayer.
  • LGBTI relations is subject to severe punishment.
  • Tour itineraries are closely controlled.
  • Photography of government buildings, governmental facilities, military bases, police, or security personnel is not permitted. 
  • Electronic devices are subject to inspection upon entry and/or exit. 
  • Religious shrines are only open to Muslims.
  • Majority of spectator sports are only permitted to men. 
  • Wearing lightweight cotton clothing is recommended.
  • Air pollution is of concern in Al Jubail, Dammam, Jeddah, and Riyadh.


Makkah Royal Clock Tower, Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Photo Credit: GLady/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.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: $16,000USD.

Prone to humidity and sandstorms.

  • Best Time to Visit: April - May & October - November
  • Coolest Months: November - February 
  • Hottest Months: March - October
  • Peak Season: October - February

Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Al - Ahsa Oasis, Al - Hijr Archaeological Site, At - Turaif District in ad - Dir'iyah, Ḥimā Cultural Area, Historic Jeddah, and Rock Art in the Hail Region.


Photo Credit: ekrem/Pixabay 




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Thursday, October 20, 2022

Sao Tome & Principe

Sao Tome & Principe Flag



Why visit Sao Tome & Principe?
Ideal for the adventurous travelers seeking off-the-beaten tropical destination to enjoy enjoy beaches, birdwatching, camp on isolated beaches, deep-sea fishing, mountains, natural tropical scenery, rain forests, scuba diving, snorkeling, and waterfalls.
 

At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Bead necklaces, postage stamps, and wood carvings.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Bobofrito (fried snack). Calulu (fish dish). Canjica (porridge). Estufa de Morcego (bat stew). Feijoada (fish stew). Moleo de Peixe (fish dish).
  • Local Drink to Try: Aquadente (distilled). Criollo (beer). Gravana (rum). 

Fun Facts
  • Islands formed approximately 30 million years ago.
  • Volcanic soil dates back to 3 million years ago.
  • Uninhabited until 1470.
  • Home to the rare bird, São Tomé fisca.
  • A part of the Cameroon Volcanic Mountain line.
  • São Tomé is the most mountainous island.
  • Pico Cão Grande (Great Dog Peak) is 2,175 ft above sea level (São Tomé).
  • Largely exports cocoa and coffee.
  • Coffee is often used as a seasoning or spice.

Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Holidays: New Year, Day of King Amador, Commemoration of the Batepá Massacre, Labour Day, Independence Day, Armed Forces' Day, Nationalization of the Roças, São Tomé Day, and Christmas Day.

Good to Know
  • Portuguese is the official language.
  • Requires patience and time to get to the islands.
  • Not considered touristy islands.
  • Few carriers serve Sao Tome Airport (TMS).
  • Prearranged transfers are highly recommended from Sao Tome Airport (TMS).
  • Departure tax applies. Estimates around $20USD.
  • Pick-pocketing is known to occur in tourist areas.
  • Sanitization is considered below western standards.
  • Avoid tap water consumption.
  • Eastern Atlantic waters offer barracuda, black marlin, blue marlin, sailfish, and yellow-fin tuna.
  • Due to precipitation the southwestern region of the islands is the greenest.
  • Medical care is limited.
  • Prevalent Diseases: Malaria, Rabies, Schistosomiasis, Tuberculosis, and Yellow Fever. 
  • Medication and pharmacies are limited.
  • Strictly forbidden is photographing government buildings, military, or the Presidential Palace.
  • Flights best connect the two islands.
  • Avoid swimming or wading in freshwater due to Bilharzia (parasite).
  • English is not spoken nor understood.
  • Year-round humidity is approximately 80% - 90%.
  • Rainy Season is October - May.
  • Possession, trafficking, or use of illegal drugs is severe punishment.
  • Evenings may require a sweater.
  • Avoid demonstrations.
  • Backroads require four-wheel-drive vehicles. 
  • Hospital Central Ayres de Menezes (São Tomé) is the only island hospital (São Tomé).
  • Credit cards are not widely accepted.
  • Legacy of Portuguese rule is visible in the country's culture, cuisine, customs, and music.
  • ATMs only accept cards from local banks.
  • Domestic Violence is a punishable crime with up to eight years in prison.
  • Ferry Service between Sao Tome and Principe islands is limited

This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity upon return and one blank page for entry stamp.
  • Tourist VISA required for longer than 15 days.
  • Yellow Fever vaccination required. 
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: 10,000EUR.

Prone to droughts, flash floods, high humidity, hurricanes, landslides, and strong winds.

  • Best Time to Visit: October - May
  • Coolest Months: June - September
  • Hottest Months: January - April
  • Peak Season: April, June, & October - November


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

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Wednesday, October 19, 2022

San Marino

San Marino Flag



Why visit San Marino?
Ideal for travelers seeking to enjoy architecture, beaches, castles, culture, hiking, historical sites, mountain villages, museums, medieval streets, ruins, and shopping.


At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Ceramics, cheese, coins, liquor, postage stamps, and wine.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Cacciatello (dessert). Fagioli con le Cotiche (bean soup). Nidi di Rondine (baked pasta). Pasta e Ceci (soup). Torta Tre Monti (layered cake).
  • Local Drink to Try: Biancale (wine). Brugneto (wine). Mistrà (anise liquor). Roncale (wine). Tamir Shachar (liquor). Tessano (wine). Tilus (truffle liquor).

Public Palace of the Republic of San Marino, San Marino. Photo Credit: Sabine/Pixabay 


Fun Facts
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865), 16th President (1861 - 1865) of the USA was named an Honorary Citizen
  • Birthplace (1984) of retired (2020) Grand Prix Motorcycle Road Racer, Alex De Angelis.
  • Third smallest European country.
  • Fifth smallest country in the world.
  • Inland from the coastal city, Rimin (Italy).
  • Highest point is Mount Titano (2,424 feet).
  • Has no public airport, only a small private airstrip located (Torraccia). 
  • Along the northeastern range of the Apennine Mountains (Italy).
  • Capital city (City of San Marino) is located atop Monte Titano.
  • More female Heads of State have held office compared to any other country.
  • Known to have more vehicles than people.
  • Not permitted to coin its own currency and obliged to use Italy's mint.
  • Prints their own postage stamps.
  • Football is the most popular sport played followed by basketball and volleyball.

Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (June) World Motorcycle Championship, (July) Adriatic Music Festival, Ethnological Festival, Jazz Festival, and (December) Marvels of Christmas.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Epiphany, Feast of Saint Agatha, Easter, Easter Monday, Anniversary of the Arengo, Labour Day, Corpus Christi, Ferragosto, All Saints' Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Saint Stephen's Day, and New Year's Eve.

Photo Credit: demsi3art/Pixabay 


Good to Know
  • Requires proof of sufficient funds and a return plane ticket
  • Official language is Italian.
  • During Winter Season (November - March) hotels and restaurants tend to be closed or operating on limited hours.
  • Traffic lights are limited.
  • Purchasing counterfeit goods can lead to detainment and/or fine.
  • A great stop while visiting northern Italy regions of Emilia Romagna and Marche.
  • Nearest airport is Federico Fellini International Airport (RMI), formerly Rimini Miramare Airport (RMI).
  • Bus tickets must be validated prior to boarding.
  • Fines are imposed for driving without the proper permits in historic downtown areas.
  • Public transportation consists of 8 local bus lines.
  • Rimini Railway Station is the nearest rail system.
  • Taxi service is limited.
  • Has 1 legally operating casino, Del Titano of San Marino.

This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport with six months of validity upon return and two blank pages for entry stamp.
  • Currency Restrictions for Entry/Exit: 10,000EUR.


San Marino City, San Marino. Photo Credit: David Mark/Pixabay 


  • Best Time to Visit: April - June & September - October 
  • Coldest Month: November - March
  • Hottest Months: June - September
  • Peak Season: April - June

Your Must-See & Do
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites: San Marino Historic Centre and Mount Titano 


Three Towers of San Marino, San Marino. Photo Credit: Sebastiano Iervolino/Pixabay 



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

Monday, October 17, 2022

Samoa

Samoa Flag



"Cradle of Polynesia"


Why visit Samoa?
Ideal for the traveler seeking to enjoy active volcanoes, beaches, blowholes, culture, deep-sea fishing, hiking, jet skiing, natural pools, sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling, villages, waterfalls, water sports, and wildlife.


At a Glance
  • Souvenirs to Buy: Baskets, kava bowls, shell jewelry, weave mats, wood carvings, and wrap arounds clothing.
  • Local Cuisine to Try: Kalo (vegetable). Koko Alaisa (dessert). Masi Samoa (cookies). Oka i'a (fish dish), Paifala (stuffed pastry). Panikeke (pancake). Pani Popo (rolls). Palusami (stuffed leaves). Pisua (dessert). Sapasui (vermicelli noodles). Samoan Poi (dessert).
  • Local Drink to Try: Ginger Mojito (cocktail). Kava (classic). Niu (coconut). Taula (beer). Vailima (beer). 

Photo Credit: David Mark/Pixabay 



Fun Facts
  • The fa'a Samoa culture dates back over 3,000 years.
  • O Tamaiti won the prestigious Best Short Film (1996).
  • An 8.0-magnitude earthquake caused an Tsunami (2009).
  • Samoa 'ava Ceremony is a solemn ceremonial beverage ritual bestowal of matai chiefly titles consumed in a ranking order.
  • A dance performed by males is said to be derived from slapping insects on the body (fa'ataupati).
  • Traditional dance (sasa) consists of rows of dancers performing synchronized movements with wooden drums.
  • Highest peak (6096 ft) is Mount Silisili (Savai'i Island).
  • Pose culturally significant tattoos; for male its geometrical patterns covering from the knees up towards the ribs (Pe'a) and below knees to the upper thighs for females (malu).
  • Once called Western Samoa is now simply called Samoa.
  • Consists of two large islands: Savai'i and Upolu and smaller islands: Apolima and Manono.
  • Savai'i is their largest island.
  • Elections are held every five years.
  • Government provides mandatory 8 years of primary and secondary education tuition-free until the age of 16.
  • Has 5 uninhabited islands.
  • Samoan cocoa beans are of very high quality and used in fine New Zealand chocolates. 
  • Majority of the population resides on main island of Upolu (Apia).
  • Burial site (Mount Vaea) of Robert Louis Stevenson (1880 - 1894), Scottish Author best known for Kidnapped and A Child's Garden of Verses, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Treasure Island.
  • National sport is Rugby.
  • Customarily, families with a shortage of females are known to raise boys as girls.

Special Holidays/Occasions
  • Annual Events: (March) Apia Arts & Crafts Fair, (April) International Game Fishing Tournament, (May) Fire Knife Festival, (June) Fautasi Outrigger Canoe Competition, (July) Tafesilafa’i Festival, (September) Apia Jazz Festival, and Teuila Festival.
  • Holidays: New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, Mothers' Day, Independence Day, Labour Day, White Sunday, Lotu a Tamaiti, Arbor Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.


Photo Credit: Simon/Pixabay 



Good to Know
  • Both men and women should dress conservatively by covering their legs.
  • Onward/return tickets required for entry.
  • Blowhole areas tend to be very slippery. 
  • Official languages are English and Samoan.
  • Polynesian culture compares to Fiji, French Polynesia, and Hawaii.
  • From October - November locals are known to search for "Caviar of the Pacific" (coral worms).
  • Given their location "Ring of Fire” makes them vulnerable to earthquakes which can trigger a tsunami.
  • Cruise ships dock at the Main Wharf on Beach Road (Apia).
  • Beyond tourist areas credit cards are not widely accepted.
  • Most popular beaches are Lalomanu Beach (Upolu), Manase Beach (Savai'i), and Return to Paradise Beach (Upolu).
  • Health care is considered below our western standards.
  • Do not leave your belongings unattended.
  • Avoid tap water consumption.
  • A small fee is required at Return to Paradise (Upolu).
  • Prevalent diseases: Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika.
  • Hiking is popular at O le Pupu-Pue National Park (Upolu).
  • Tourism is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections do not commonly occur.
  • For a local shopping experience visit Old Apia Market (Apia).
  • Aggie Grey's (Apia) and Tanoa Tusitala Hotel (Apia) host weekly traditional Samoan Dance Shows.
  • Stray dogs are known to wander the streets.
  • Traffic travels on the left side of the road.
  • By local customs, do not eat while walking.
  • Buses tend to be crowded, slow, uncomfortable, and undependable.
  • Same-sex acts are a crime and punishable up to seven years in prison. 
  • Sunday is commonly a day of worship amongst locals.
  • By local customs, do not point your feet or legs at anyone. 
  • Nude or topless sunbathing is illegal.
  • Avoid transporting through villages at 6:20PM while locals practice their daily devotionals (sa'a).
  • Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended on secondary roads.
  • Rainy Season is from November - April.
  • Ferry Service operates between Apia, American Samoa, and Pago Pago.

This international destination requires:
  • A valid passport and one blank page for entry stamp.

Prone to earthquakes, heavy rains, landslides, monsoon, strong winds, tropical cyclones, and tsunami.

  • Best Time to Visit: June - October
  • Coolest Month: June - October
  • Hottest Months: December - April
  • Peak Season: December - January

Photo Credit: Holger Detje/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


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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.   

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