Best things to do in Death Valley

Death Valley. Photo: Pedro Sagüés

Best things to do in Death Valley

September 25, 2010  |  USA  |  3 Comments
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Death Valley is a National Park 2 hours away from Las Vegas that features the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America. For such reason, people recommend visiting the park during the coolest season (December and January). In my opinion, Death Valley is worth a visit especially during the hottest season (from June to August), when temperatures reach up to 134ºF (56ºC). Both days I spent there, temperatures reached 127ºF (53ºC). Few places in the world offer you the chance of experiencing such a high temperature. It makes you feel like you’re risking your life just by standing outside of your car for less than an hour without any water.

At night, the temperature drop to 100ºF (37ºC), so it’s more comfortable to sleep in a hotel with air conditioning (we decided not to sleep in our RV). I recommend going to Furnace Creek, a resort situated in an oasis in the middle of the desert with four restaurants, a saloon, spring-fed swimming pools and an 18-hole golf course (the world’s lowest course at 214 feet below sea level). I stayed at the “Ranch” and woke up at 7am to play golf. It costs $30 (water, balls, clubs and golf cart included) and you can take your time because you’ll be the only one out there. I loved it!

Things to do in Death Valley

There are many interesting places. I asked the locals for the coolest things to do in Death Valley in one day. Their answer was:

  • Zabriskie Point, an amazingly varied landscape, with multiple colors and textures. Go early in the morning or before sunset to get the best light for taking great pictures.
  • Badwater Basin, the lowest point in Death Valley (282ft / 86m under the sea level), is probably the best known and most visited place in the park. It’s a salt flat with small spring-fed pools of undrinkable water. I recommend walking onto the salt flats and standing for a while in the suffocating heat. What an experience! On your way back to the resort, you can visit “Devil’s Golf Course” (so-named because it’s so rough that only Satan himself could play golf there). It’s worth a quick stop just to see the unique rock and salt formations.
  • Stovepipe Sand Dunes are just a short drive from the ranch. Scramble to the top of a dune and enjoy the sunset. Be sure to bring enough water with you.

People also recommend visiting “Titus Canyon“, “Ubehebe crater“, the “Racetrack” and enjoying the magnificence of the valley from “Dante’s View“. I haven’t been there so I can’t recommend it.

I visited Death Valley on my way to the Burning Man 2010.

More information about Death Valley: Official website, map download,

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Photo credits: Pedro Sagüés

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Burning Man: extravaganza in the desert

Burning Man 2010 Photo: Pedro Sagüés

Burning Man: extravaganza in the desert

September 12, 2010  |  USA  |  19 Comments
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I’ve just arrived from the “Burning Man”, an amazing event held in the Black Rock Desert (Nevada, United States), in the middle of nowhere, where 50.000 people get together for a week, with no electricity, no cell service, no water or food supplies, with daytime temperatures that reach 100 degrees (F) and 45º (F) at night. Everyone provides their own supplies and shares them with others.

Within days, “Black Rock” becomes the third largest city in the state of Nevada. It’s perfectly planned: with avenues, boulevards and public monuments around a central plaza. The principles of coexistence are respected by all and are raised by an excellent organization with more than 2,000 volunteers.

The objective of the organizers is to show that it’s possible to build a society based on participation, civic responsibility, respect, tolerance, self-expression, gifting and one that is 100% free of prejudice.

The only traffic allowed are bicycles and “mutant vehicles”, original mobile sculptures built for the occasion that delight the audience: 40 meters long moving pirate ship converted into a disco, Tiki bars that serve free Rum while carrying their “clients.”

The result is spectacular: People planning a week with a year in advance, wanting to spend the best week of the year, with little sleep and a lot of partying and, most importantly, with the intention of being very faithful to the spirit of the event.

The priorities are the individual and its diversity. Everybody is welcome, regardless of age, creed or sexual orientation. Coexistence happens in hundreds of different camps where you can find almost everything: a three-floor Irish bar that offers cold beer, free massage in exchange for a smile, artists who paint naked bodies, camps that teach how to dance tango, recognized DJ’s or artists who perform daily shows or camps that promote the practice of free sex.

You become the greatest gift for the community.

Once you are a participant in this event, you truly grasp its significance. The key is to act generously, without expecting anything in return. You become the greatest gift for the community.

At the end of the week the city dissolves without a trace, as if nothing had occurred, as if no one had walked there. Participants return to their daily life having lived an unforgettable week, with the intention of maintaining the spirit for the rest of the year and with the conviction that they’ll return in the next edition.

Will you go to Burning Man 2011?

If so, please let me know. This will be my second year, so I am not an expert. Every tip is very welcome: which camp do you recommend? A special picture I should take? Something I should do? Or if you want me to take a picture of you, just let me know!!

Update: This article has had a great coverage. I would like to thank the Burning Man staff for the multiple recommendations and links to this article. The latest, in september’s newsletter

People also ask me about the photographic equipment I used at the Burning Man. I purchased most of the bags, cleaning kits and other accesories in this website with great gifts for photographers called Regalador.com.

Click on images to enlarge[nggallery id=”27″]
Photo credits: Pedro Sagüés

Click here to see more pictures taken by me at the “Burning Man”
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Bhutan, the kingdom of happiness

Bhutan- Taktshang monastery. Photo: Pedro Sagues

Bhutan, the kingdom of happiness

August 25, 2010  |  Bhutan  |  No Comments
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Bhutan is a deeply Buddhist remote and enigmatic country nestled in the heart of the Himalayas. Since the beginning of time immemorial, mystics, philosophers and pilgrims have been drawn to these mountains in their personal search of wisdom, inspiration and happiness. In fact, Bhutan is the only country in the world which puts happiness at the heart of government policy by supporting the “Gross National Happiness”.

Bhutan is not an ordinary place. Visitors will be surprised that the cultural and traditional lifestyle are still intact. In the silence of this remote country, at the Buddhist monasteries, surrounded by fluttering prayer flags and overlooking the green valleys, one feels part of another world, away from computers, iPhones, cars… It gives you an alternative vision of what is truly important in life.

To safeguard these treasures, the country has consciously adopted a controlled tourism policy. Each year, approximately 25.000 tourists enter the country. They all have to pay a minimum of 220$ a day in an all included tariff (food, accommodation, …). Don’t expect luxurious hotels.

Travelling inside Bhutan is very uncomfortable. There are narrow roads: you drive at an average speed of 30km/h a meter away from the deepest valleys you’ll ever see.

Besides the amazing people (they’re always smiling), the peaceful atmosphere, the impressive monasteries and the stunning views, the activity I liked the most was the unforgettable three day trek in the lower Himalayas (up to 4.400 meters altitude, 20 km a day… and freezing cold December temperatures at night (-18º C).

Useful info about Bhutan: Wikipedia, National portal of Bhutan, Tourism Council of Bhutan.

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Photo credits: Pedro Sagüés

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The Akha Experience in Laos

The Akha Experience in Laos. Photo: Pedro Sagüés

The Akha Experience in Laos

August 23, 2010  |  Laos  |  No Comments
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The Akha Experience is a community-based trekking that takes the participants on a three day learning experience into the culture and daily life of the Akha tribe in Muang Sing (Laos).

I did the experience in 2007. It consisted of a 6 hour a day trekking through the forest where we had the opportunity to visit eight villages, meet their villagers and learn their culture. We slept in their lodges, ate their food, played with their children, learned to spin cotton or pound rice, sang their songs at camp fires…

It’s an amazing experience that gives you the change to share three days with people with few resources but tons of happiness

More information about the Akha Experience.
People ask me if there is any special equipment you should wear or bring to the bush. Although you really don’t need it, I’d recommend to take a compass with you. I bought mine at this great website plenty of great gifts for adventurers.

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Photo credits: Pedro Sagüés

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Road trip from Nice to Monaco

Best places in French Riviera. Bestplacesin.com. Pedro Sagüés

Road trip from Nice to Monaco

August 19, 2010  |  France  |  No Comments
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The French Riviera (Côte d’Azur) is one of the best places in the world. What I liked the most of all was the road trip from Nice to Monaco, along the Mediterranean coast that I discovered thanks to Robin’s blog.

Nice

The trip starts in Nice, the capital of the French Riviera, the second most visited place in France after Paris. It has plenty of things to do: you can visit the old town (with narrow streets, old houses, …), walk up to the castle hill (in fact, there’s no castle anymore, but stunning views of Nice), visit the Matisse Museum, walk down the seaside promenade (by the way, the beach has no sand, just rocks!!) or walk around Cours Saleya, a place that transforms during the day from a food and flower market to a bar and restaurant area. Few places in the world have so many people on the streets at night. I recommend just walking around but having dinner in the streets that surround it (Rue Rossetti, Rue de la Prefecture, …).

From the city center, head east to Boulevard Princesse Grace de Monaco, pass by Villefranche Sur Mer, take Bd Napoleon III (great views of the bay), and head to Saint Jean du Cap Ferrat, popular getaway for the rich and famous, with a small but impressive marina and perfect for romantic walks (along the coastal paths) or peaceful holidays with your family. I loved this place!

Eze

Continue your trip: pass by Beaulieu Sur Mer (really close to Cap Ferrat and also a very nice place), Eze Bord de Mer and head up to Eze, an “eagle’s nest” medieval fortified town overlooking the sea from a 427 metres high cliff (1,401 ft). A not very touristic town with a beautiful church and glamorous and expensive hotels with stunning views of the Mediterranean sea (Relais & Châteaux de la Chevre D’Or and Chateau Eza).

La Turbie

Right before arriving in Monaco you’ll find La Turbie, a small town known as Monaco’s balcony. You can enjoy impressive views (you don’t need to pay) of the Principality from the terrace of 13 B.C. Trophée d’Auguste, a symbol of the power of the Roman Empire.

Finally: if you like superyachts, this is your paradise. The French Riviera is a major yachting centre, with marinas along its coast. Each year the Riviera hosts 50% of the world’s superyacht fleet.

Thanks also to http://twitter.com/Guide2CdA for his great tips about French Riviera!

Click on images to enlarge[nggallery id=”24″]
Photo credits: Pedro Sagüés

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Sault, the capital of the Lavender

Sault, the capital of the Lavende. BestPlacesIn.com. Pedro Sagues

Sault, the capital of the Lavender

August 17, 2010  |  France  |  19 Comments
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People often associate French Provence with the lavender fields. When visiting the Provence and not seeing them, they usually get disappointed. Visiting Sault, the capital of the Lavender, is the only way of really enjoying the magnificent views of the lavender fields, walk through them and smell its aroma. If you’re asking yourself: Where can I find the best Lavender fields? Sault is the answer. You won’t be disappointed, trust me: Sault is what Provence really looked like in your mind and, definitely, one of the best places in the world.

Lavender is harvested from July to October. After that, very few fields remain unharvested so the tourist can enjoy them. I really encourage you to visit Sault before September. On August 14th and 15th is the Lavender Festival. The celebration comprises games, competitions and other activities to do with lavender, including sales exhibition of local products.

I recommend taking the “Chemin des Lavandes”, a 1,5km walk through the Lavender fields and distilleries.

If you’re coming from Avignon, take the road through Mazan and you’ll enjoy the beautiful views from the Mount Ventoux

Sault official website

These are some of the highest ranked books in Amazon about Lavender:

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Photo credits: Pedro Sagüés

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