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Tunisia - A Short Break in Sousse

Sousse is the third largest city in Tunisia and it is one of the better places to visit in Africa as well as in Tunisia. Getting around the city should not be difficult and it is an ideal city for the independent minded tourist who wants to both experience a wonderful holiday and also take in many pleasing sights to see. You will like the working port in the center of the city as also the Medina that is rich in history and which has some very nice fortifications surrounding it. There is also an exciting beach where tourists and the locals mingle together and if you want to see the rest of Tunisia, you will easily get rail connections to the north and also the south.

Sousse is also the capital of Sahel with olive groves that take up more than two hundred and fifty thousand hectares of land and which is a treasure which contributes immensely to the economy of Sousse itself as well as to the rest of the country. A visit to the Sunday market will afford you opportunity to buy everything from a mule to a motorcycle and if you are feeling hungry, head down to Route de la Corniche where you will find amazing places to eat.

Sousse is a city that has many things of interest which is why tourists flock here from all around the world though main attractions are centered on the Medina that is famous for its ancient ramparts. Within is the Khalel Al Fata Tower that is a lighthouse dating back to 859 AD, and you will also get to see the eight century fortress named Ribat that was used to defend the country against foreign enemies. You will also be impressed by the Great Mosque that has many arches shaped in the form of horseshoes which surround a regal courtyard built in 850 AD by the Afhlabid Emir Abou El Abbes Mohammed.

Another interesting place to visit in Sousse is the Sousse Museum that contains a very attractive garden along with many Roman mosaic collections that are as good as any you will find anywhere, especially such as those found in Bardo.
If you are not averse to visiting nearby places of interest you could head down to Port El Kantaoui that is just fifteen minutes away by taxi or Noddy train. There is also the birthplace of former leader President Bourguiba that is located in Monastir that you may want to visit as well.

In any case, once you are in Sousse you will find many resorts as well as beaches and also many orchards and olive groves. You will especially like the Mediterranean climate and in spite of the fact that Sousse is closely associated with olive oils, tourism is a major activity here and there are more than one million visitors coming here each year just to relax in the many fine hotels and savor the cuisine in comfortable restaurants as well as enjoy the nightlife and gamble at the casinos.

Map of Sousse


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Aruba's Hotel Absurd Ads: Get Pregnant, Get $300 Voucher!

First, let's take a closer look at Westin Aruba Resort. 
That's what you can read in Frommer's Review:

 Built in 1975, the hotel was renovated in 2006 when it went from being a Wyndham to a Westin. Olive, beige, and mustard fabrics accent the cherry wood furniture. Subtle carpeting, flatscreen TVs, and modern rectangular lamps add more Miami style. The trademark Westin "heavenly" beds are indeed a white fluffy retreat from the world.

Fluffy retreat, indeed. The newest controversial Press Release by Westin Hotel PR specialists claims that if a couple can prove thay they have conceived a child during their stay at this Aruba Resort, they will get a $300 voucher for their next vacation. Oh, and the child has to be conceived during, uh... "coral spawning season".

A joke, you say? Not at all. Don't believe me? - Let's read their original Press Release:

Romance Is in the Water in Aruba: Celebrate Coral Spawning Season with Escape at The Westin Resort

$300 ‘Conception Credit’ for Couples Who Conceive During Getaway; All-Inclusive Fall Rates Starting at $199 Per Person

Romance fills Aruba’s waters each fall during coral spawning season, when millions of coral reproduce, forming pink and white clouds that delight underwater enthusiasts. With love in the water, romance-inducing coral spawning season is a fitting time for lovers to escape to the island of Aruba, with its ideal location outside the hurricane belt and year-round sunshine.  The Westin Resort, Aruba invites couples to prolong the relaxing beach days of summer with the all-inclusive experience, with rates starting at $399 per room, based on double occupancy (that’s less than $200 per person, per day, including meals & alcohol), for travel through December 18, 2009.*  As an added bonus, couples who book prior to September 30, 2009 will receive a $100 resort credit, which can be used towards activities such as an in-room massage or other spa services.

Couples who were inspired by Aruba’s coral mating ritual during their fall getaway (September 1 – December 19, 2009), and can prove they conceived during their stay, will receive a $300 ‘Conception Credit’ towards a return visit to the resort in 2010. With all the stress of preparing for a new arrival, the expecting parents will surely be in need of a pre-baby Caribbean retreat.

The Westin Resort, Aruba’s all-inclusive package takes the stress out of planning daily meals and activities and allows couples to focus on the most important thing: each other.  A new twist on the all-inclusive vacation, without sticker shock – or the wristbands and endless buffet lines typically associated – the package includes accommodations, three meals daily, unlimited drinks (yes, beer, wine and cocktails, too), a $25 dining credit for the resort’s fine dining establishments, non-motorized water sports, tax and service fees and more.

For resort reservations or further information, call (877) 782-0149 or visit  When booking, please ask for rate plan CLASSIC.

Maybe we should ask some questions to the hotels' Manager:

1. Are those colorful clouds of coral sperm a real aphrodisiac? Wouldn't you rather go and take a shower after swimming in those "pink and white clouds" floating around in the seawater?

2. How many of kitchen staff members would laugh every time the Chef says: "put the buns in the oven"? How soon these and similar jokes will become obsolete?

3. Will the hotel supply the visitors with free pregnancy tests? How about a fertility pill or viagra instead of regular "goodnight mints" on the pillow?

4. What kind of papers, forms and test results would the hotel staff require to have proven the fact of conception? How about some forensics, photos, or maybe even videos from that special day? 

5. What about the future of the resort? Will the hotel in 2010 transform from "fluffy retreat from the world" to "crying-and-wet return to reality"? Maybe the managerial staff should start making decisions about transforming that modern-style hotel into a "Family Village"? You wouldn't like to loose your customers and their new families, would you? 

6. I suppose there may be already some trying-to-get-pregnant couples who would accidentaly choose this hotel with its offer over some other destination. In that case, maybe you should think about putting the money into the college fund of their child instead?

7. And finally - do you really think that a mere $300 voucher would make anyone think of conceiving a baby? Is that how low you estimate the miracle of birth? Is starting a new life worth only $300 to you? Come on...

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Mauritius Vacation Guide

Mauritius Vacation Guide

by Andrew Muigai

Mauritius has successfully managed to position itself as an exotic beach destination. With beach destinations so plentiful, this has been sustained not by mere hype, but by the substance there is to this claim. Visitors are drawn to Mauritius by the reputation of its 140 km of white sand beaches, and the superb opportunities for water sports. Swimming, beach combing, sailing, surfing, kayaking, diving and deep-sea fishing - there is a sport for almost everyone.

Arab traders discovered the then uninhabited island in the 10th century. But they were not charmed sufficiently to consider permanent settlement. The Portuguese early in the sixteenth century landed, but they too passed over the chance to lay claim for their king. But in 1598 the Dutch finally seized the opportunity. The island was grabbed for and named after Maurice, Prince of Orange and Count of Nassau -then ruler of the Netherlands.

In the century that followed, the Dutch established settlements and devised means to live off the land. They introduced sugar and tobacco, which they farmed using African slave labour. Sugar is today still an important part of the economy. The Dutch were insensitive to the extremely fragile ecosystem that makes up an isolated island such as Mauritius. On their watch, most of the islands' indigenous forests were felled, and lost. The bird known as dodo was also shot to extinction. Thus did the trigger-happy Dutch give life to the expression "as dead as a dodo".

The Dutch courage that had made them pioneers was however not to last. They were subjected to many trials by the forces of nature - cyclones, droughts and floods. And also by the forces of man, for pirates were a constant headache. In 1710, they fled to the more hospitable Cape of Good Hope, at Africa's southern tip. A short five years after the Dutch left, the French claimed the island, and renamed it Isle de France.

The French were much more successful than the Dutch in harnessing the potential of the island. They maintained law and order and laid the foundations for administration of society. Under the celebrated French Governor, Mahé de Labourdonnais, real nation building began. The French brought in more African slaves and expanded further sugar farming. They also laid out some social and economic infrastructure to support the settlers. Port Louis, named after King Louis XV, and today the capital of Mauritius, dates back to this period.

Though the French had introduced systems of law and order, Port Louis turned out to be a favourite of corsairs. Corsairs were mercenary marine who specialised in the plunder of ships on behalf of a client country. The British, a great sea power at the time, had a vested interest in terminating the power of these mercenaries. And that is how Mauritius, so far away from Europe, got involved in the Napoleonic wars. In 1810, the British backed by superior force of arms, persuaded the French to leave the island.

In the 1814 Treaty of Paris, the British - magnanimous victors indeed, allowed the French settlers to remain in Mauritius. They too were allowed to retain their property, language, religion and legal system. The British reverted to the name the Dutch had given the island, but Port Louis retained its name. But in the century and a half that the British ruled, they were never really as grounded as the French had been.

Franco-Mauritians prospered on an agrarian economy based on slave labour. But in 1835, they felt the capricious hand of a great power when slavery was abolished. This is perhaps the single most important measure carried out under British rule, and the consequences had a far-reaching effect on the evolving demographics of the nation. India, a British colony greatly abundant in human resources was the answer to the labour problem that arose. In the years that followed, the descendants of the Indian labourers who came to work the sugar fields greatly multiplied. The Chinese also came -as labourers and traders.

Today, Indo-Mauritians constitute close to 70% of the population. As in other colonies in that historic period, and upto the 1930's in Mauritius, non-whites had very limited say in the running of the country. And that is why Gandhi - that great liberator of men's minds, came to Mauritius in 1901, in particular to give heart to Indo-Mauritians. After years of protracted concessions to democratic rule, the British finally bowed out in 1968, when finally granted independence.

The events we talk about above are however very recent. About eight million years ago, the island emerged from the depths of the sea as result of volcanic activity. Occupying 1860 sq km, it is situated just above the Tropic of Capricorn, 890 km to the east of Madagascar. Rising from the sea, the central plateau formation is about 400 m above sea level. There are mountains scattered in the island, and a few peaks, the highest of which reaches 820 m.

As a country, Mauritius includes the islands of Rodrigues and Agalega, the Cargados Carajos Shoals and a few smaller mostly uninhabited islands. Mauritius is almost wholly ringed by a coral reef that is reputed to be the worlds third largest. Both the Dutch and the French were extremely reckless in allowing the uncontrolled invasion of indigenous forests. Today, less than 2% of these forests remain. Many of the nearly 700 species of indigenous plants are threatened with extinction. Starting from the late 1970's, a belated but systematic effort has been underway to conserve the unique flora of the island.

The wildlife faces similar dangers. In the first place, animal migration to this isolated island was by air or sea only, greatly limiting the diversity of species. The animals the Dutch found included out-of-size reptiles and flightless birds. But except for bats, there were no mammals and no amphibians at all. The animals brought aboard ships by man include monkeys and rats - thanks to the Portuguese, while the Dutch take credit for deer and wild boar. Some of these animals threaten to choke the life out of indigenous species - they eat their eggs, and even their young.

Mauritius is not all bad news for nature lovers' - there are plenty of birds and marine life is abundant. However, some of the endemic bird species, such as Mauritius kestrel, echo parakeet and pink pigeon number not more than a few hundred. Such are now under some form of captive breeding program, with the hope of raising their numbers.

The island's maritime zone boasts more than 1,000 species of marine life- fishes, shells and mollusks, in numbers beyond count. The spectacular way to explore the spectacular underwater world is onboard a submarine. The sub also allows you to see some ship wrecks dating back to the Dutch period.

You can swim at various places at beaches, lagoons and inlets. Swimming beaches are best to the north, though there are other good sites to the southwest and to the west near Flic en Flac. The west coast offers good sites for surfing at Tamarin, and diving at Flic en Flac. At Grand Bay beach, you get good shopping, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants and the chance to interact with locals. In addition, the swimming, surfing, sailing and angling is good. From here, you can also make a boat excursion of the islands to the north.

In the islands' interior, there are good opportunities for hiking and trekking. Black River Gorges National Park has excellent walks, and at the same time you can see some endemic plants and birds. The Réserve Forrestičre Macchabée and Rivičre Noire National Park are also good for hiking. In addition, captive breeding to raise the numbers of Mauritius endangered endemic birds is underway here. For trekkers, you will do well at the plateau at Curepipe and at the island of Rodrigues.

The Royal Botanical Gardens of Pamplemousses are very popular with visitors. The gardens date back to 1735, during the French period. Here you will see a large collection of exotic and indigenous plants in excellent surroundings. Among the most peculiar specimens are the giant Victoria regia water lilies, whose origins are in the Amazon, and the talipot palm- known to bloom once every 60 years before dying. At the Casela Bird Park, you can see some of its 140 bird species, including the rare Mauritian pink pigeon. Some of these excursions are included in the Mauritius tour packages offered by the various vendors.

Mauritius offers some excellent golf courses, and visitors are increasingly aware of it. There are at least three hotels with 18-hole courses and another five with 9-hole courses. The Ile aux Cerfs course, which sits on its own tiny island is the most spectacular. For honeymooners, the island is very welcoming. Almost all hotels offer a special honeymoon package. As a non-resident, you can easily tie the knot here. But a few formalities must be completed with officialdom; make sure you comply before arrival.

Mauritius is at the cultural cross roads of Europe, Africa and Asia. The Dutch, French, Africans, Indians, Chinese and British came under one guise or another and have today influenced the character and cultural life of the island. Though the island is closest to Africa geographically, culturally it is much closer to Asia.

The biggest racial groups are Indo-Mauritians who constitute about two thirds of the nations 1.2 million peoples, followed by Creoles - Afro- Mauritians who are just over a quarter of the population. Franco- Mauritians and peoples of Chinese origin combined make up about 5% of the population. While English is the official language, French, Creole, Bhojpuri and Urdu are widely spoken. Religion is the other factor defining the people of the island, with Hinduism (51%), Christianity (30%) and Islam (17%) leading.

The cuisine of the island reflects the diversity of its people. French, Creole, Chinese and Indian foods - with local variations are all found here. Wherever you stay, you will most likely be able to watch or even dance the Sega. This energetic and erotic Creole dance has origins in the sugar fields, in the days when African labour was captive. You may also be fortunate to encounter any of the various festivals celebrated in this multicultural country. Only the most widely traveled however, will be prepared for the Cavadi. On this Tamil festival, penitents pierce their bodies, tongues, and cheeks while some march on shoes of nails.

Tourism is one of the main pillars of the economy of Mauritius. The bulk of visitors come from South Africa, Germany, France, Australia and UK. Hotels in Mauritius are plenty, and they range from 5-star luxury to those with just basic amenities. Budget stay comes in the form of bungalows, guesthouses and self-catering apartments. The period June to September and around Christmas is the busy season and if you plan to travel then, you are advised to book your accommodation in advance. Mauritius is still relatively affordable, though there has been talk of turning it into an up market beach destination.

Mauritius is a year-round destination. The best times to visit however, are the periods April-June and September- November. These are the months when it rains least and the temperatures are moderate. January to April is hottest, and daytime temperatures can reach 35°C. Temperatures tend to be lower inland, away from the coast. The main rains come between December and April, though there are light rains year round. November to February is when cyclones are most likely to occur. But do not be deterred; chances of meeting cyclones are not very high, and it is estimated that they hit the island about once every 15 years.

If you are keen on water sports, beware that diving is best December to March, and surfing between June and August. For big game fishing, come between October and April. You should be comfortable with light clothing suitable for the tropical climate. But you need warmer clothing for evenings and the southern winter months between July and September. Whatever time of year you travel, do carry some rainwear. In the summer months between November and April, you are advised to bring along sunglasses, sun hats and sunscreen.

Copyright (C) Africa Point

Andrew Muigai is editor of AfricaPoint Insider online newsletter. It is part of - the Africa travel website that has helped thousands of travelers discover Africa. You can view more info on Mauritius Hotels at the website.


Tunisia - A Historical Tour

Tunisia is a very popular tourist destination, even though it's one of the smallest countries in North Africa. This country offers many attractive sights to see including those of historical and cultural importance that are more than a match for anything that can be found in any other North African country. One of the factors that contribute to its historical and cultural charm is the fact that it has been occupied by many great Mediterranean Empires at different times, so those turbulent events are embodied in its history and have given this country a unique as well as interesting way of living that is quite unique in it and not at all like that of its neighboring countries.

Tunisia may be small in size but it has a lion sized number of important places to visit and many interesting activities to do which is why many Europeans flock here to sample the outstanding Islamic architecture and also to take in the sights of ancient Roman as also Carthaginian ruins. Given the friendly nature of its peoples, Tunisia is deservedly a hotspot as far as tourism goes and along with lovely sandy coastlines and the extraordinary deserts, you can be assured of an outstanding holiday and an enervating visit to this Islamic country.

If you want to get the most from your visit to Tunisia, then plan your holidays to fall within the months of March and May which is when the temperature is ideally cool and suitable for sightseeing trips and excursions. You can also keep September and October in mind, the latter being a bit mor windy in some parts of the contry. The warm summers attract most Europeans, so, in the summer months (June - August), be prepared to pay premium money for decent accommodation.

Even though Tunisia is a country of modest size, you will find many interesting places to see, not far away from wach other. A visit to Tunis - the capital city - will provide you with relaxation and then you can venture not far from here to visit the ruins in ancient Carthage as also Utica.

You may consider a visit to a small, yet thriving village of Sidi Bou Said, called "a pearl of Tunisian seaside" because of its spectacular blue-and-white architecture and almost magical atmosphere. You would also appreciate the oasis town of Tozeur that has breathtaking scenery as well as an outstandingly thriving market and the best way to enjoy the scenery would be atop a camel where you should try the camel safaris, which is a wonderful and amazing experience in itself.

You will be simply spellbound with your first glimpse of Tunisia with its golden beaches and wonderfully blue waters. A coastline of more than twelve hundred kilometers provides you with ample opportunity to take in the paradise-like attractions of this Mediterranean land. So, take in some of these places of interest such as Sousse, Monastir, Hammamet as well as Nabeul, Djerba as also Tabarka where there are many waterfront hotels for you to relax in and also enjoy sea sports as well as windsurfing and sailing.

There is also another equally enchanting side to Tunisia where you can view the ancient Roman, Arab as also Berber or Phoenician sites and here you can get a good reminder of the multifaceted historical past of this wonderful country.

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New layout, new destinations!

As you may have probably already noticed, the website layout has been changed - hope you'll like it as much as I do. It certainly gives you more of that travel&vacation feeling.

On the right, you will find a new element of the blog - a module. If you'd like to read something particularly interesting here, something I should, in your opinion, write about - just click and suggest me something. Go ahead, I'm really curious about your ideas :)

Also, prepare for the next travel destinations: Tunisia - thriving cities among Sahara sands and Mauritius - great place for hikers, water sports and golf fans and everyone else who enjoys breathtaking views of its amazing coastline.

In the meantime - if you like my blog, don't forget to subscribe to RSS Feed or follow my newest posts with Google Friend Connect!

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The Marble Cave - a breathtaking visual experience

In answer to my recent blog post, one of the regular readers (thanks, G!) sent me some informations about an another underground "natural miracle", which can be found in Eastern Europe. It is situated in the Crimea region, in Ukraine and called "The Marble Cave" by the locals.

You can visit this extraordinary cave any time you want and admire the amazing natural formations, which are subtelly punctuated by carefully situated artificial light sources.

The beauty of the Marble Cave is unique, making the location very popular among tourists. It is already said to be the second most visited place of this kind in Europe and one in the top five world's most amazing caves.

This crimean landscape above the cave, although rich in hills, rocks, and interesting mountain formations, doesn't match the beauty of the underground jewel hidden beneath the surface.

Some of the most interesting places in the cave are marked with labels giving a clue to what the particular formation resembles. You can find trolls, flowers, elephants... and even a Santa Claus among them!

This one looks like a mammoth, doesn't it?

Some formations resemble underground ancient cities and castles, built and dwelled by mysterious creatures...

Have you visited the cave yourself? If so, feel free to share your experiences and photos! :)

Source pictures:

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11 Breathtaking Underground Lakes and Rivers

We often think that the most wonderful places to see are above our planet's surface. Not many people know that there are some real gems hidden underground. Calm waters of underground rivers, tranquile cave lakes, their tranquile surfaces untouched by human hand.
You can see some of those most spectacular Mother Earth's Underground Crown Jewels below:

1. Reed Flute Cave in Guilin, China was discovered during the Tang Dynasty almost 1,300 years ago.

Reed Flute Cave

Image by Ian Sewell

2. Cheddar Gorge is Britain’s biggest canyon and is found within the Cheddar Caves, where the UK’s oldest complete human skeleton was found in 1903. Known as the Cheddar Man, the remains were estimated to be 9,000 years old.

Cheddar Gorge


3. Hamilton Pool Preserve, in Austin, Texas, was created quite naturally when the dome of an underground cave collapsed revealing this stunning natural pool. It is now frequented by day-trippers and naturalists. That’s naturalists not naturists, although no doubt someone has tried to go skinny dipping at one point!

Hamilton Pool

Van Sutherland

Hamilton Pool from another perspective. When there’s been heavy rainfall, 45ft waterfalls cascade from the rim of the cavern. It must be pretty spectacular when you’re bathing.

4. Stalagtites adorn the roof of Luray Caverns, Virginia, the still waters throwing a perfect reflection.

Luray Caverns

Ashley Dinges

5. Legend has it that early cavemen inhabited Wookey Caves in Somerset, England.

Wookey Hole

Wookey Caves

6. This underground lake in Mellisani Caves, near Kefalonia, was found when the roof of the cave collapsed after an earthquake in 1953.

Mellisani Caves

Liana Photography

7. Lechuguilla Cave, in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico is the fifth longest cave discovered yet at 120 miles (193 km) long and measures 489 metres (1,604 ft) deep, making it the deepest in continental United States.

Lechuguilla Cave

Dave Bunnell

8. This underground lake near Macan Ché on the Yucatán Peninsula is one of many that are considered to be gifts from the gods by the Mayans, and therefore sacred.

Macan Che


9. The limestone flow feeding into this underground lake in Mexico resembles a waterfall turned to stone. Maybe the Ice Queen is privy to this particular cavern?

Cavern Lake Mexico


10. How long must it have taken for this little waterfall in Banff, Canada, to make this underwater lake?

Underwater Cave Banff



If you know of other spectacular underground natural formations or if you have any pictures to share - go ahead, and write.