Monthly Archives: February 2011

Backpacking in Buenos Aires, Argentina: A Photo Diary

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 8/10

Buenos Aires is an incredible city. It is a place that has captured many a backpacker’s heart and extended many a trip by weeks, months and years. Known as the Paris of South America, it is filled with romance, adventure and intrigue and can always tempt you to stay one day longer. Then another, and another…

From late night parties, beautiful steak and stunning wine to beautiful architecture, football fanaticism and historical legends, BA will enchant even the most demanding of visitors. South America is packed with wonderful cities but Buenos Aires stands up there with the best and it’s difficult to leave disappointed. The photos below should give you a little taste why, if you want more then you’ll have to book a flight…

11 SEO Tactics to Avoid on Your Travel Blog

If done right, Search Engine Optimisation is a great way to extend the reach of your travel blog. Whilst many people see SEO as a dark art that is only carried out by people trying to game the system, taking part in white hat SEO practices can produce fantastic results for your blog which brings in a lot of new readers.

Whilst i do plan on writing a post on ‘Great SEO Tactics for Your Travel Blog’ very soon, i thought i’d precede it with a few pointers on what not to do when you’re upping the SEO activity on your blog! So here we go.

DO NOT……

1. Stuff your site’s meta data (keywords, description, title) with keywords.
2. Take part in link schemes (i.e. Link Market et al – these are bad news and Google doesn’t like them!)
3. Scrape copy from other blogs and websites to use on your own – always make it unique.
4. Pay an online scheme to submit your blog to hundreds of directories automatically
5. Hide text with CSS or by using the same colour text and background
6. Waste time comment spamming – spend the time wisely participating in the community
7. Ignore social media – it now affects rankings as well as being a great way to meet the travel community
8. Link to other websites using hyphens, commas and the like
9. Worry about Toolbar Page Rank
10. Link to unrelated websites for a quick buck (especially gambling, pharmaceutical etc..)
11. Let advertisers pull the wool over your eyes by offering you ‘free’ content which links to their site

So there are a few things for you to consider! If you avoid these sort of tactics and focus on the right way to do SEO then you’ll be on the right track. I’ll follow this post up with a more positive one (!) with actionable SEO tips for you and your blog. In the meantime, if you have any SEO tips (or questions) of your own then comment away!

Ouarzazate, Morocco – Backpacking Photo of the Week

Wherever you look in Morocco there is an opportunity for a great photo. I’ve discussed before the huge variety in the landscapes, the people in stunning dress and the wonderful artistry around every corner so i won’t witter on about it again!

This week’s Backpacking Photo of the Week was taken in Ouarzazate in Central Morocco. It is known as the ‘door to the desert’ and has featured in many films due to the architecture which is still reminiscent of days gone by. Much of the local area has been used in films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator and it continues to be the go-to place for film studios.

The architecture that draws the film studios in is also incredibly appealing for travellers, with terracotta walls and tiled rooves everywhere you look. This photo was taken down one of the many small streets leading into the souks deep in the city and captures a local taking a breather from his busy day:

Backpacking in Eastern Europe: 3 Must Visit Destinations

Europe is an amazing place to go travelling. There is a fantastic array of destinations in such close proximity compared to other continents like South America where a 12 hour bus journey is the norm. Do that in Europe and you’ll have sailed across about 4 countries! With so many places so close together its tempting to try and pack in as much as possible during your travel time. I prefer to spend a bit longer in a few choice places and really get to know them and if you do too, then the following 3 places should be parked at the top of your list of must visit destinations:

Lake Bled, Slovenia:
A stunning lake set in beautiful surroundings, Lake Bled is the perfect getaway when you have been stopping off at the wide range of Eastern European cities on your trip. The backpacker’s journey in this part of the world is often quite city-orientated, moving from capital to capital by train and taking on life in the fast lane. After countless nights on the town, days of pavement-pounding and stunning (if slightly repetitive) architecture, Bled is the perfect escape.

Life slows down here, the quiet streets only see a car from time to time and it is nature that takes over. Surrounded by lush green mountains the lake sits beautifully hidden away from the pressure of city life and allows travellers to sit back, have a breather and contemplate their journey so far. Hiring a boat and rowing out to the island is a must, where a small church sits, majestically overlooking the lake in all its splendour. If your journey has taken you from Prague to Bratislava to Budapest, then it’s time you took some time out and enjoyed this hidden, rural gem.

Kazbegi, Georgia
Here i am harping on about Kazbegi again, and with good reason. This place is a true diamond and likely to explode on the backpacking scene as people continue to venture further east on their journeys. Start off in the village of Stepantsminda and then the region is your oyster. Treks around the area offer surprises around every turn, whether it’s another glacier or a small mountain village where the locals invite you to join them for tea. Watch your step though, because you might come across Darial Gorge which is soon to house the 2nd largest monastery in Georgia and there’ll be some steep drops!

Whatever you choose to take in, Kazbegi will blow your mind and is worth continuing the journey east a little further!

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Many people visit the Czech Republic to see its capital, Prague. But if you leave Prague and head straight across the border then you’re missing a trick. Cesky Krumlov is a truly breathtaking place that can stand shoulder to shoulder with the very best. The town itself is stunning; bohemian architecture, red tiled rooftops and cascading mountains. The picture postcard surroundings are reason enough to make the trip and spend a few days taking in the country air. But there’s more to it than that. This is a mecca for the adventure sports traveller. Most of it is water based, with white water rafting top of many people’s list as they endeavour to meander through the Sumava National Park, getting their adrenaline pumping along the way.

Whatever you’re looking for from your Eastern European experience, Cesky Krumlov will deliver it in spades. Adventure, architecture and stunning surroundings; one not to be missed!

The Ultimate Jungle Destination: La Mosquitia, Honduras

Top Backpacking Destinations Ranking: 9.5/10

Of all the places i have ever visited on backpacking trips, La Mosquitia is the the most remote I have ever been. And by a long way too. And that’s not to say i’ve spent most of my travels in cities partying my heart out. Patagonia, the trek across Peruvian mountains to Machu Picchu, driving through American deserts; these all pale into remote insignificance when you’re in a cayuco paddling down a river in the Honduran jungle.

La Mosquitia takes up nearly the entire eastern half of Honduras and remains undeveloped and sparsely populated. To get there requires a bi-plane which will only squeeze 20 people in at a push. And don’t look down when you come in to land – all you’ll see is a strip of grass in amongst the trees, likely with a few kids running around chasing a ball. This is no Heathrow.

From there you find yourself a captain with a cayuco; long, motorised dugout canoes which the locals use to get around. If you want to get further into the area then this is the only way around. No roads, no cars, no other options. Then it’s time to get comfy as the distances between riverside villages are pretty big. This is where the adventure starts to get rewarding though as you realise how far you are from civilisation. Technology goes out the window and you’re back to nature with a bang.

I spent 4 days travelling by boat around the area with our captain, going deep into the jungle and staying in various communities who welcomed us with open arms. I was as intriguing to them as they were to me. Fascinating experiences were abound, whether it was hopping in the boat at nightfall and paddling out to search for crocodiles (terrifying but amazing!) or discovering a tree that, when chopped, dripped pure drinking water. Tasty it was too! Wildlife was everywhere and surprises like ancient petroglyphs were hiding around every corner.

But the most satisfying times were those spent in our cayuco, cruising through the jungle with nothing to do but take in the surroundings. Stunning jungle, wonderful sounds and no hint of another human being for miles around. For any backpacker looking to truly get off the beaten track, La Mosquitia is the real deal.