A new study by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) revealed that, more than any other motivating factor, adventure travelers are seeking out transformative experiences while on holiday. An expanded worldview, nature, mental health, and learning opportunities were other motivating factors revealed in the study. What could be more transformative than training with Russian cosmonauts?
Below are seven “Transformative Adventures” we like for 2017.
Track Endangered Black Rhino – Explore the Sand Dunes of Sossusvlei, track the endangered black rhino on foot, and participate in traditional game drives in Etosha National Park. This Adventure Life tour of Namibia also spends two nights walking the Tok Tokkie Trail and interacting with the isolated Himba people.
Train with Russian Cosmonauts – On this exclusive Russian space tour offered by MIR Corporation, witness the manned launch of the Soyuz spacecraft, tour Russia’s premier cosmonaut training facility where you can participate in optional cosmonaut training, and experience the live Soyuz-International Space Station docking.
Hangout with Mountain Gorillas – Encounter some of the last remaining mountain gorillas in the world by trekking into the lush forests of Rwanda with Gondwana EcoTours. Track chimpanzees and the beautiful golden monkey, and keep an eye out for elephants and buffalo.
Visit Isolated Tribes of Ethiopia – Encounter the unique and diverse cultures of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley and learn about the rich traditions tribes there have maintained for centuries on a new tour from Adventure Life. On the Isolated Tribes of Ethiopia tour, see the fossilized remains of the early hominid “Lucy” and learn about the region’s cultures in museums before traveling out long dirt roads to meet and interact with the Hamer, Mursi, Karo, Arbore and Konso people in their villages.
Bike from London to Rome – Ride & Seek has created a cycling tour of historical proportions, tracing the footsteps of Julius Caesar on a 33-day, 2,929 km journey from London to Rome. Crossing waterways, vine-clad hills and mountain passes, this is the only tour of its kind being offered today. Participants will never be the same.
Trek Glaciers with Climate Change Scientist– Big Chill Adventures offers an opportunity to explore the southern part of Iceland, known for its glaciers, icebergs and black sand beaches. Highlights include dogsledding, trekking glaciers, snowmobiling, spelunking, and soaking in geothermal hot springs.
Sip Tea with Mongolian Nomads – Explore the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar and then fly to the red sands of the Gobi Desert to celebrate the Naadam Festival with parades and sporting competitions, such as archery, horse riding and wrestling.
Women from 18 to 71 and 30 different countries distinguished by their sense of adventure are headed to the French city of Nice for the 27th annual Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc taking takes place between March 17 and April 1, 2017, for a woman-only off-road rallye through the Moroccan desert. Here are 5 reasons why you should add the rallye to your 2017 bucket list:
AN UNMATCHED ADVENTURE
The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is a one-of-a-kind adventure, very possibly, the only international off-road Rallye race for women only. Since 1990, it has been bringing together women between the ages of 18 and 71, from more than 30 different countries, who embark on an adventure of a lifetime from the French city of Nice on March 18, 2017 and onward to the start of the Rallye in the Moroccan desert. The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is developing a new vision of automobile competition: no speed and no GPS, just old-fashioned navigation, completely off-road.
EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC OF AFRICA
Morocco is the host country of the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles since its inception. Gazelles in search of nature and the great outdoors will be seduced by the magnificent and varied landscapes of Morocco, with its sand dunes, Rocky Mountains, green valleys, fertile plains, arid plateaus and lush oases. The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc takes place under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, who has authorized the use of the Royal Coat of Arms on the Gazelles’ vests. This is the only event that has ever been granted this honor. Many Moroccans come out to welcome and assist the competition at every step of the way, from the dunes of Merzouga to Essaouira.
RACE FOR CHARITY
The Rallye respects its scenic host country and its people through the actions of the Rallye’s non-profit, Cœur de Gazelles. Attending the rallye supports the charity’s volunteers who work daily to provide the Moroccan people with sustainable aid through concrete actions. A registered non-profit organization since 2001, Coeur de Gazelles works on projects that meet the needs of Morocco’s remote populations: medical care, education, the environment and sustainable development, job training for women, improving living conditions.
AN EMPOWERING EXPERIENCE
All Rallye participants, known as “Gazelles”, leave this adventure marked forever by the experience: they push their limits, have to face themselves, far from their sometimes difficult daily lives as women; there is also a strong element of sharing and mutual aid with their teammate as well as with the other “Gazelles”. Free to choose their own route, they face a challenge every day: to study the map and the day’s geographical coordinates, analyze the risks and difficulties of the terrain and choose the shortest path. They have the choice of driving around a mountain or crossing over it, driving through the dunes or avoiding them.
CUTTING EDGE TECHNOLOGY
While the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is a return to the roots of adventure, it is also, with its satellite system for tracking the teams, on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to safety. This duality is the strength of this unusual competition. With its unique concept, the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc is changing the way people view automobile use. The Rallye is also launching a new electric vehicle category in 2017, which will call its participants “E-Gazelles”. This trailblazing Rallye already boasts an ISO 14001 Environment Management System (EMS) standard. During the recent Climate Conference, COP22 in Marrakech, it was announced that Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc is the Rallye which will set the standard for future rallies around the world, based on its high environmental principles.
TO WIN THE COMPETITION
Every morning the Gazelles receive a Road Book. This document contains only the geographic coordinates or headings and distances of the day’s checkpoints and finish line. Forget about GPS, phones and other modern communication tools: using a compass, a navigational plotter and maps, they plot their route and plan their itinerary.
The rankings are determined by calculating the extra kilometers driven (distance driven between check points minus crow flies distance) and penalty kilometers for any check points not reached. The winning team is the one that finds the greatest number of checkpoints while driving the least number of kilometers.
The Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc may well be the only women-only off-road Rallye in the world. Created in 1990, the event brings women between the ages of 18 and 71 from more than 30 different countries together in the Moroccan desert. Since its inception, the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles has been creating a new vision of automobile competition: no speed and no GPS, just old fashioned navigation, completely off-road: a return to the roots of Adventure. The only requirement is determination. The women who take part in this Rallye—known as Gazelles—are of all ages, social backgrounds, nationalities and levels of off-road experience. Whether in a 4×4, Crossover, Quad, truck or motorbike, they all come to take part in a unique competition: whose competitors share the values of tolerance, solidarity and determination, that respects the host country and its people through the actions of the Rallye’s non-profit, Cœur de Gazelles, and that cares about the environment: the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles is the only motor Rallye in the world with ISO 14001 certification.
While the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles marks a return to the roots of adventure, it is also on the cutting edge of technology, with a satellite tracking system for optimal safety. A new vision of motor sport the pleasure lies in driving without excessive speed, and where the goal of driving the shortest possible distance is in line with our environmental commitment.
Coeur de Gazelles, registered non-profit organization since 2001, is a group of volunteers working to provide sustainable aid to people in need through concrete actions. Coeur de Gazelles works on projects that meet the needs of Morocco’s remote populations: medical care, education, the environment and sustainable development, job training for women, improving living conditions and a desire to spread joy by distributing donations. Actions are set upon a “human scale”, working in partnership with the local population to address the source of the problem, enabling people to become agents of their own development. All donations are used for the direct benefit of the population, in collaboration with local authorities.
BOULDER, CO– Natural Habitat Adventures, the world’s leader in sustainable travel and ecotourism since 1985, is introducing an exclusive new seven-day opportunity to photograph polar bears in the remote Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska, where they roam the shoreline along the Beaufort Sea.
The expedition, Photographing Polar Bears in Alaska’s High Arctic, debuts in August 2017 with three departures for eight guests each: Aug. 21-27, Aug. 24-30 and Aug. 27-Sept. 2. Similar dates are tentatively set for 2018. The per-person double rate from $10,895 includes private chartered roundtrip air from Fairbanks (gateway city) across the Arctic Circle to Kaktovik, flying over the vast Yukon River Valley and glaciated Brooks Range; six private 3-hour boat excursions (limited to just four passengers per vessel) to photograph polar bears and other Arctic wildlife at eye level; accommodations; all meals; and more.
Kaktovik, an Inupiat village of 250 people located on Barter Island in the Beaufort Sea on the edge of the coastal plain, is Alaska’s premier location to view polar bears. Sightings have been increasing in the region over the past few years as bears spend more time on land due to waning sea ice. Nat Hab has operated popular polar bear adventures in Churchill, Manitoba, since the 1980s; this new trip is the company’s first polar-bear-focused trip in Alaska.
The expedition, which takes place at 70 degrees north latitude, is also Nat Hab’s most northerly adventure. Guests fly over the Arctic Circle before landing on Alaska’s North Slope on the edge of the Beaufort Sea. This immersion in the far north provides an unusual chance to witness the impacts of climate change while learning about changing polar bear behavior and how local people face challenges to their age-old subsistence lifestyle.
Guests travel with a Nat Hab Expedition Leader who is an Arctic naturalist and polar bear expert as well an accomplished wildlife photographer offering guidance for all ability levels. Boats are skippered by local resident guides who are intimately familiar with polar bears and their behavior, ensuring a thorough interpretive experience.
The itinerary, exclusive to Nat Hab and its conservation partner World Wildlife Fund, also includes a full day of exploration in Fairbanks, including a visit to the University of Alaska’s Museum of the North and the university’s Large Animal Research Station.
“No other major travel company offers an all-encompassing Alaska polar bear experience like this one, with such an immersive focus,” explains Ben Bressler, Nat Hab founder and president. “Along with multiple extended excursions to view and photograph the bears, we include all the elements to safely and comfortably get you there and home—including internal chartered flights. Once you arrive in Fairbanks, we’ve got your every need covered.”
For information on all of Nat Hab’s trips, descriptive itineraries, date availability and reservations, call 800.543.8917 or visit http://www.nathab.com/. Click HERE to order a copy of the 2017 catalog.
Natural Habitat Adventures is a world leader in responsible adventure travel and nature-based ecotourism. Since its founding in 1985, the company has offered eco-conscious expeditions and wildlife-focused small-group tours to the planet’s most remarkable nature destinations. Inspired and created from years of scouring the planet for the singular and extraordinary, Nat Hab’s itineraries are artfully crafted experiences that are far from “typical.” Trips are guided by professional naturalist Expedition Leaders, and Nat Hab enjoys a longstanding reputation for hiring some of the world’s best guides. Conservation is at the forefront of everything NHA does, and its philosophy is simple: tourism must work with and benefit local communities, which will in turn find value in protecting natural resources and wildlife. NHA is the travel partner of World Wildlife Fund, sharing a mutual commitment to travel as a means of helping to protect the world’s wondrous natural places. Nat Hab has donated more than $2 million to WWF and will continue to donate 1 percent of gross sales plus $100,000 annual through 2018 in support of WWF’s mission.
PROVIDENCE, RI – Early booking rates are available through the end of July 2017 for Arctic and Antarctic cruises in 2018-19 with polar cruise specialist Poseidon Expeditions. Cabin discounts are as generous as 20 percent off the regular rate, depending on category reserved.
Poseidon Expeditions (http://poseidonexpeditions.com/), which focuses on remote polar cruise exploration in the high latitudes, offers May through September cruises in the Arctic and October through February itineraries in the Antarctic.
The stylish and well-appointed 114-passenger expedition ship Sea Spirit serves both regions for Poseidon Expeditions. Applying the early booking discount, Arctic rates in 2018 for the all-suite Sea Spirit begin at $4,660 per person if three people share a spacious Triple Suite. This rate applies to a June 27-July 5, 2018, West Spitsbergen & Polar Ice Edge/ Searching for Polar Bearsadventure. This same suite for three with the early booking discount brings a Nov. 26-Dec.7, 2018, Antarctic Peninsulatour to just $7,564 per person. Double occupancy rates for these departures begin at $6,596 and $10,204, respectively.
Sea Spirit offers all-suite accommodations ranging from 215 to 463 square feet (20-43 square meters). There are two multi-purpose lounges for educational programming and entertainment, a restaurant that can accommodate all passengers in one seating, a well-stocked polar library, and ample outdoor deck space to enjoy the polar landscapes and wildlife.
Activities both on and off the ship are directed by a team of experienced, bilingual polar guides, scientists and educators. Guests are offered many opportunities to venture from the ship. Shore landings provide the chance to explore and to partake in guide-led interpretive walks and photography workshops. Sea kayaking and Zodiac cruising are offered in both polar regions and camping can be arranged in Antarctica. The ship’s expedition staff-to-passenger ratio of 1:9 is one of the most generous in the business.
Travelers bound for the Antarctic Peninsula embark from Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of Argentina. Other destinations in this region of the Southern Ocean include the Falklands and South Georgia Island, once a whaling center and the final resting place of legendary explorer Earnest Shackleton. Icons of the area are penguins, seals, sea lions, whales and birdlife, including albatross.
Arctic-bound cruises include a focus on the region’s wildlife – walrus, polar bears, reindeer, arctic fox, whales and birdlife – as well as delving into the history of polar exploration more than 100 years ago. Early summer travelers will come face-to-face with the contemporary culture of the Intuit and the echoes of the past visits of Vikings. In this shifting landscape of sea ice and icebergs, the Northern Lights are always a possibility on late summer departures.
The next frontier in polar expedition cruising is the High Arctic region known as the Franz Josef Land Archipelago. Few visitors have ventured here and because of multi-year sea ice, access by ship is possible only a few weeks each summer. Poseidon Expeditions is the only company offering dedicated cruises from Longyearbyen, Svalbard to this archipelago of 191 uninhabited, volcanic, mostly glaciated islands that since 2012 are part of the Russian Arctic National Park. The seal industry drove the first explorers here in the mid-1800s. They were followed by others searching for the North Pole.
The complete 2018-19 Arctic and Antarctic schedules, rates and special offers can be found at https://poseidonexpeditions.com/. A new 80-page catalog detailing the company’s ships and activities is also available, and can be requested online or through any of the Poseidon Expeditions offices.
For inquires and reservations in North America, or to request a catalog, agents can contact the company’s Providence, RI, sales and reservation office at SalesUSA@poseidonexpeditions.com or by telephone at 347-801-2610.
With offices in the US, UK, Germany, Russia and China, Poseidon Expeditions is a leading provider of polar expeditions in the cruise industry. In addition to the Sea Spirit, the company provides guests with the unique opportunity to travel to the geographic North Pole aboard the 50 Years of Victory, the largest and most modern nuclear-powered icebreaker in the world. Fourteen-day, top-of-the-world programs are scheduled for both the 2017 and 2018 summer seasons. The company is committed to safe and environmentally responsible polar travel. It is a member of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) and the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO).
(We stayed at the St. Francis Inn some years ago, so we were devastated to learn of the damage from Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 and thrilled to get this report that the inn ,which dates from circa 1791 in St. Augustine, Florida, making it the oldest inn in America’s oldest city, has been painstakingly and lovingly restored and is better than ever. Here’s the report:)
St. Augustine, Florida (February 2017) – The historic St. Francis Inn (circa 1791) sees the light at the end of the tunnel with an extensive Inn restoration that has taken nearly 5 months since the force of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. The horrific storm changed the grand old structure’s destiny. What have emerged are property restorations to many of its buildings and deeper trusted friendships throughout the staff. Owners Joe and Margaret Finnegan will never forget their two goals and the driving force to complete the restoration: keep our staff employed and make our guests comfortable.
Deconstructing the St. Francis Inn
It’s a complex multi-faceted project when you lose the floor of a landmark building from the late 1700s. Imagine tearing up the floorboards throughout the inn and finding that there are many layers of history represented the deeper you go. The surprise was discovering 3 floors leading to the original tabby floor structure that must have been built at least 18” down from street level!
Day after day the workers had to first de-construct the entrance, lobby, parlor, dining room, two ground floor guest rooms and the entire kitchen before beginning the restoration. Next to the main inn, the popular Cottage (which served as a cookhouse during the early years) has undergone significant restoration and the pool needed extensive refinishing too. Additionally the Inn’s award-winning gardens and vegetation were demolished by the storm’s winds and waters ~ now waiting for Spring plantings and regeneration. Many of the St. Francis Inn’s guests’ favorite amenities were temporarily taken away: antique furnishings, fireplaces, Jacuzzis, fishpond and the famous dining room that has been a gathering spot for nearly 230 years.
But a miracle happened and the St. Augustine Historical Society bestowed a wonderful temporary dining option to the Inn and its guests ~ The Finnegans could move their entire dining room’s tables, chairs, sideboards and breakfast to Llambias House across the street from the Inn and call it ‘home’ each day, until the inn was ready to host guests again upon completion of the restoration.
Llambias House Comes to the Rescue
The Llambias House (circa 1565-1763) dating back to the first Spanish colonial period of St. Augustine, has become a cherished opportunity for the Inn guests. They get to enjoy breakfast in the gardens and inside one of the prime examples of architecture first developed by the Spanish and later modified by the British during the colonial period. Recognized as a National Historic Landmark, the Llambias House stands as an important reminder of the influence of Spanish and British colonialism in Florida and their lasting impacts on the United States.
Inn Staff Goes Above and Beyond
How have the St. Francis Inn staff, and the sister property Casa de Suenos staff weathered the half year changes? With true hospitality to each other and their guests! The two bed and breakfast inns are on opposite north/south sides of historic St. Augustine. Yet each day the breakfast buffets, famous nightly desserts and catered events have been prepared in the Casa de Suenos kitchen and transported to the Llambias House and St. Francis Inn courtyard for meals and events.
“Our staff has always been close but having to pull together so the Inn could be cleaned up quickly was definitely a team effort,” says Kelly Brooks, Inn Manager. “We felt lucky that Joe and Margaret worked it out with the construction crew so that we could stay open during the cleanup and restoration so that we could keep our jobs (a huge financial strain on the Finnegans). We learned to be flexible so that we could move from room to room…while keeping reservations coming in and having to locate our daily supplies that needed to find a new home every day. We rolled with the punches many days, because the next day we had to do it all a different way with a new plan!”
Additionally, two of the fulltime innkeepers lost their homes. The St. Francis Inn launched a GoFundMe account to assist in temporary lodging for moving them and their families to a safe haven. Co-workers, prior inn guests and business vendors supported this effort, another commendable example of people coming together to support each other.
St. Francis Inn Completes Restoration
There are many new and beautiful additions to the St. Francis Inn including a state-of-the-art kitchen where guests love to peek in at the cooks and dishes being prepared, new carpeting, paint and furnishings.
“Our staff has made miracles day after day to work within our two inns, juggling beach cottages and guest accommodations to insure their comfort and vacation expectations,” reflects Joe Finnegan. “We didn’t lose one employee during this turbulent time and each employee was flexible with whatever tasks they had to achieve. At the same time, many of our guests enjoyed being a ‘part of history’ when they could view some of the restoration projects and experience dining in the Llambias House ~ but mostly living through the next generation of our Inn’s historic story”.
The world’s warming climate, rising sea levels, booming development and changing political landscape have the potential to impact travel in the not-too-distant future. Here are seven trips highlighting natural wonders, wildlife and cultures to see while you still can.
Antarctica: Major ices shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula have broken apart, retreated or lost volume in recent decades, and the trend continues today with a crack in the Larsen C shelf growing this year. Book a cruise with Adventure Life and use the ship as your base as you explore the peninsula on kayaking, hiking, snowshoeing, mountaineering, camping and Zodiac excursions.
Greenland: Greenland’s ice sheet is one of the largest contributors to sea level rise around the globe and the country experienced its highest average summer temperature on record and an early melt last year. With Big Chill Adventures, you can see calving glaciers, giant icebergs and Arctic landscapes accompanied by geologist and glaciologist Sarah Aciego and professional photographer Mindy Cambiar.
Cuba: Travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba have eased recently with the first regularly scheduled flights between the countries, but the 2016 election brought several tourism-related questions. On this cruise, meet Cubans in person and see the historic architecture of Old Havana and the island’s natural wonders.
Alaska: Several Canadian copper and gold mines are in operation, being explored or under review for approval, and their tailings pose a hazard in the headwaters of Alaska’s major salmon rivers. Book a trip to an Alaskan fishing lodge with Frontiers for a chance to cast for the five main species of Pacific salmon, plus trout, grayling, char and more.
Rwanda: A study released this year shows that 75 percent of primate species have shrinking populations and 60 percent are threatened with extinction, with their decline being attributed to hunting, farming, ranching, logging, mining and oil drilling. Encounter some of the last remaining mountain gorillas, as well as chimpanzees and golden monkeys, on a trek in the forests of Rwanda with Gondwana Ecotours.
Russia: Russia’s Lake Baikal holds about 20% of the world’s unfrozen freshwater – making it the largest freshwater lake by volume – but it faces threats from pollution and hydroelectric projects. With MIR Corporation, travelers can see the lake by train and boat, and also visit the Gobi Desert to the south in Mongolia.
Solomon Islands: Research published last year showed that rising sea levels resulted in the disappearance of five of the Solomon Islands, while erosion on others has forced the relocation of villages. Visit secluded bays and remote beaches, snorkel coral reefs and meet villagers in the Solomons and other nearby archipelagos by booking a cruise with Adventure Life.
Where are the best places in the world in 2017 for Americans to live better, reinvent their life and have a grand adventure? That’s the basis for the new Live and Invest Overseas’ ranking of the “Top 10 Best Places to Live Overseas in 2017”. The list includes locales in traditional places like Portugal, France and Spain, as well as places one might not expect, including the Dominican Republic, Malaysian Borneo, Nicaragua, and Colombia.
“Our best places to live overseas list is part of a new series of New Year rankings that the editors of Live and Invest Overseas have put together,” said Kathleen Peddicord, author and publisher of Live and Invest Overseas, a leading resource on investment, real estate, retirement, and living overseas today. “For this list, we asked ourselves where are the best places in the world to live better, reinvent one’s life, and have a grand adventure in 2017?”
The list includes locales in traditional places like Portugal, France, and Spain, as well as places one would not expect, including the Dominican Republic, Malaysian Borneo, Nicaragua, and Colombia (and Kathleen adds a “bonus”: Paris).
Here are Kathleen’s recommendations:
1) Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal
Portugal is the best-kept secret of Old World Europe. For three years running, we have named its Algarve coast as the world’s best place to retire overseas.
Coastal Carvoeiro, in particular, qualifies as perhaps the most appealing place on earth to call home if you want to live on the water in a real-world (as opposed to a developing-world) setting.
The take-your-breath-away views from Carvoeiro’s rocky coast, the constant sunshine, the near-perfect weather year-round, the food, the wine, the history… it all adds up to top-shelf of living yours for a very bargain price.
Thanks to the current down value of the euro, the enviable coastal Continental lifestyle on offer in Carvoeiro is further reduced… and the cost of a very rentable home or condo is irresistibly discounted.
2) El Poblado, Colombia
Escobar’s dead and the city he and his goons once terrorized is today at peace.
Located in one corner of Medellín, El Poblado offers a comfortable, tranquil, idyllic way of life for a super affordable cost. At the current exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the Colombian peso, the luxury-level cosmopolitan lifestyle available in El Poblado is an even greater bargain.
Medellín is culture rich and Euro chic; its people well dressed, well mannered, and welcoming. Medellín’s heart, El Poblado, is our #1 pick for city living on a budget.
3) Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic
Las Terrenas is quintessential Caribbean with a French twist. The big and established community of French expats living in this white-sand beach town means fresh baguette, great restaurants, and kisses on both cheeks in greeting.
Infrastructure is improving, establishing residency is easy, and the cost of living is one of the great bargains of today’s Caribbean… making Las Terrenas our #1 pick for a new life with a Caribbean Sea view.
4) Santa Familia, Belize
If you want to leave the troubles and the worries of our age behind, little Santa Familia village in Cayo, Belize, is calling your name. Life in Cayo is back to basics, simple, and sweet. You know your neighbors, they know you, and you all look out for each other.
Belize’s Cayo is a region of wide-open spaces, fresh air, warm sun and fertile land, making it our pick for the world’s best place to disconnect and unplug.
5) Pau, France
France is a country of superlatives. World’s best quality of life… best health care… best food… best art and fashion… most beautiful, most romantic city (more on this in a moment)…
To many, la vie française is the good life defined, and the charms and appeals of French Country Life are unrivalled. In this context, we suggest you consider Pau, also known as the “Green City” and the “Garden City,” thanks to its ratio of greenery per square meter per person, one of the highest of any European city.
Pau’s landscape is accessible woodlands, the steep slopes of Jurançon wine country, the history-packed Plaine de Nay and its main town of Nay and the pretty rolling countryside and ancient towns of the Gaves de Béarn.
Pau is also a university town, with close to 12,000 university students living on and off campus, helping to keep it lively.
Brits and other North Europeans have been seeking out this part of France for retirement for years. This is a very friendly bunch of people with a wide range of backgrounds and interests always ready to welcome newcomers.
6) Chiang Mai, Thailand
Since the 1800s, the Thai city of Chiang Mai has been luring expats from the West with its über-low cost of living, great weather (especially compared with elsewhere in Thailand), rich history and distinct culture.
The heart of Chiang Mai lies within its old city walls where ancient and modern Buddhist temples coexist with public and international schools, residential and commercial neighborhoods.
Modern Chiang Mai has grown beyond the ancient walls and offers mega-malls, huge multi-national grocery and department stores, and all other trappings of life in the 21st century.
The biggest advantage to life in Chiang Mai is its cost in general and of health care in particular. A couple can live here comfortably on as little as US$1,100 per month, and you can see an English-speaking doctor for US$20.
7) Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Playa del Carmen is a little beach town that sits about an hour south of Cancún on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Once a sleepy fishing town, the port was inadvertently put on the map by Jacques Cousteau in 1954 when he filmed an underwater documentary of the Great Mayan Reef just offshore.
Divers began seeking out these Caribbean waters for themselves, and in the 1970s a port was built to ferry the tourists from the mainland to Cozumel.
Today Playa is home to more than 10,000 foreigners, including Europeans, Americans, Canadians, Argentinians, Venezuelans and many other nationals of all ages including 20- and 30-somethings, young families and retired couples.
Playa is also a welcoming destination for the LGBT community.
8) Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, in the northeast of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea, is a vibrant, colorful, proud city that combines the passion of the Spanish with the efficiency and organization of the Catalans.
This is a city with a strong energy that has not been dampened by Spain’s ongoing economic woes and the economic, cultural, and administrative capital of Catalonia.
Spain’s second-biggest city is easily and quickly explored thanks to its compact, well-laid-out design… and the opportunities for diversion, entertainment, and discovery are many. Art and architecture from pre-Roman to Modernista is around every corner. This is a city of galleries, museums, monuments, theaters, restaurants and shopping… with the beach just right there.
9) Granada, Nicaragua
Nicaragua is a beautiful country with a troubled history that appeals to the romantic, the poet, the eco-traveler, the surfer (the break off Nicaragua’s Pacific coast is world-class) and the bargain hunter. The cost of living, of real estate and of everything else is a steal.
Geographically, Nicaragua is blessed, with two long coastlines and two big lakes, plus volcanoes, highlands, rain forest and rivers. In this regard, it’s got everything Costa Rica’s got, all less discovered, less developed and less expensive.
Architecturally, too, Nicaragua is notable. Colonial Granada is its architectural jewel. This city, one of the oldest in Latin America, is also busier and livelier today than at any other time during its near five centuries of history, attracting tourists and expats in record numbers.
When you see it, you understand why. The setting for this colonial town is like out of a fairy tale—the lake, the volcano, the mountains. At night, the backdrop is an ink-streaked sky that, just before the sun sets, illuminates the yellow and white cathedrals in ways that would have inspired Matisse to set up his easel.
10) Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo
This laid-back and quiet city is one of the most pleasant places to live in Asia and is incredibly welcoming. Its biggest practical advantages are the low cost of living and the high standard (and low cost) of health care. A couple could live well here on US$1,200 a month or less.
The city is small and walkable, less than 3 kilometers from end-to-end. Life revolves around the water and is lived out-of-doors. At home, you can fill your days snorkeling, diving, boating and ferry hopping from the city center to neighboring islands.
This is a little-known, low-key, low-population destination offering a tranquil, serene, close-to-nature lifestyle at a cost that’s a global bargain.
Bonus from Kathleen: Paris, France
“I would argue that no list of world’s most appealing places to spend time is complete if it doesn’t include Paris. This is as true as we turn the corner into 2017 as it has been since people first compiled world’s best lists.
“Life in Paris can be as good as life gets anywhere. I figure you know that.
“What you may not realize is that the cost of living in Paris can be manageable.
“About a month before our move from France to Panama, my husband Lief presented me with a budget showing that our cost of living in Panama City would be more or less on par with what it had been in Paris.
“I suggested that Lief, an accountant by training, double-check his figures.
“But Lief was right. Our day-to-day costs have averaged out to be the same in the Hub of the Americas as they were in the City of Light.
“Paris is a place where even a modest lifestyle can feel rich and where some of the greatest pleasures—strolls along the Seine, picnics in the Luxembourg Gardens—come free.
“Paris is also a city where a car is an unnecessary liability. We lived four years in Paris happily auto-free. We walked everywhere. The butcher, the baker, the grocer, the wine shop and our son’s school were all less than 15 minutes from our apartment, as were (are) the Tuileries Gardens, the Louvre, the Latin Quarter, six movie theaters and at least a dozen cafes and restaurants.
“When we wanted to venture beyond our quartier we took the Metro. For 1 euro 90 cents you can get from anywhere to anywhere in this city you might want to go.
“Other things in Paris can be cheap, too, including necessaries of modern living like cable, telephone and Internet. You can get a phone plan in France that includes unlimited calls to anywhere in Europe, North America, and the Caribbean plus cable TV and wireless internet and cable for 45 euros monthly.
“These thoughts are on my mind as we move into 2017 because this summer Lief and I will be repositioning our home base from Panama City back to Paris.
“If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go? For me the answer to that question has always been Paris,” Kathleen writes.
Other lists in the 2017 New Year Overseas series are “The Best Places to Buy Real Estate,” “The Best Places to Go Offshore” (for taxes, banking, asset protection, second passports, etc.), and “The Best Places to Start a Business.” Every July, Live and Invest Overseas publishes its annual Retire Overseas Index.
Based in Panama City, Panama, LIOS is the leading resource for people who want to live, retire, and invest overseas. Headed by KathleenPeddicord and Lief Simon – who collectively have more than 50 years’ experience visiting, living, and investing in foreign countries – LIOS and its free e-letter service the Overseas Opportunity Letter have more than 500,000 regular readers.
Explore the roots of the California Central Coast, Find the only CA State Beach you can drive on, explore Hollywood history at the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dune Center, see thousands of Monarch Butterflies, enjoy miles of unspoiled beaches and go back in time at the Oceano Train Depot and The Rancho Nipomo Dana Adobe
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.– Oceano and Nipomo are genuine California beach towns at the edge of the largest sand dunes complex in the state found along California’s Highway 1 Discovery Route covering 101 miles of stunning shoreline and incredible journeys along Coastal San Luis Obispo County. There are must-see spots all along the way that immerse travelers in history and culture and help them find the locals favorite hang outs.
Nipomo Must-See Spots
Nipomo is home to three world-class golf courses, flower-filled greenhouses and orchards laden with citrus and avocados, and fields of strawberries and flowers. Situated as the first town in San Luis Obispo County when traveling on Highway 101, locals proudly proclaim “The Central Coast Starts Here!” Nipomo offers a quaint old downtown featuring the deliciously world-famous Jocko’s Steak House.
Oceano is an authentic California beach town at the edge of the largest dunes complex in the state. The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is the only place in California where visitors may drive on the beach and enjoy the area’s diverse recreation opportunities, from ATV cruising and horseback riding to surf and kayak fishing. The historic Oceano Train Depot served as a classic Type 22 train depot until 1973, and is now a museum filled with a plethora of railroad artifacts.
Enter to Win A $5,000 Oceano and Nipomo Must-See Getaway
Immerse yourself in these hidden gems with by entering to win the $5,000 Must-See Getaway Contest. Just fill out this form and you could be selected to win two nights, three-days in this historic destination along the CA Highway 1 Discovery Route plus two tickets to the world famous Melodrama.