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Author Archive | Gilles Barbier

Grand Escapades’ Budget Guide To Rwanda

Depending On Your Priorities!

Visiting an Ex-Poachers Village near the Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda

Type Of Travel

When traveling through Rwanda, you first have to decide if you want to focus on the country itself and hence backpack through Rwanda or if you want a “Safari” kind of experience, going through several National Parks (including the Parc National des Volcans). This decision will have a clear and direct impact both on the type of experience you will have and especially on the level of your budget. Continue Reading →

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Tracking Mountain Gorillas

Tracking the Isabukuru Gorilla Family, Parc National des Volcans, Rwanda

I had already tracked Mountain Gorillas in Uganda back in Summer 2011, but somehow I wanted to live this unique experience once again. This was actually one of my main motivations to go back to Rwanda & Uganda in January 2017. And yes, even a second time it is pure magic, a very privileged hour spent with those majestic creatures in their natural habitat… An experience that should be high on anyone’s list!

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Rwanda – Its Much More Than “Only” Gorillas

Children in Kinigi, Parc National des Volcans

Most visitors come to Rwanda to see the Mountain Gorillas and maybe have a quick insight of the Genocide at one of the many Memorials across the country (more often than not the Kigali Memorial Center), and then leave the country for some safari experiences in Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania. But there are various other aspects of the country that really deserve your attention and at least a few extra days!

 

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The Rwandan Genocide

Kigali Memorial Center or Kigali Genocide Memorial, Rwanda

Visiting Rwanda also means facing its tragic past, one of the darkest episodes in Human History. It is a haunting experience… The country is literally doted with Memorials. I had planed to only visit 2 of them. More I could not stomach!

I finally visited 4 different ones, each actually showing a different aspect of those horrid events: Kigali Memorial Center; Nyamata Genocide Memorial (near Kigali); Murambi Genocide Memorial (near Butare / Huye); Bisesero Genocide Memorial (near Kibuye / Karongi…

 

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A Few Glimpses Of Crete

Toplou Monastery, Eastern Creta, Greece

Toplou Monastery, Eastern Crete

Crete: Antique & Recent Cultural Highlights, Beautiful Landscapes And A Paradise For Gourmets!

 

We chose Crete because we wanted to rest & relax and have some descent weather without spending too long on a plane beginning of November. Maybe even more important, we did not want to be tempted to spend the whole time traveling and visiting and discovering during the 9 days we had at hand (ever heard of travel Stakhanovism? Yes, that’s a bit us…)

There is not much to do in Crete, we thought… The ideal place for some lazy and quiet vacations without missing unique places… Right? How wrong! Continue Reading →

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Ibiza – So Different From What I Expected!

Ibiza from the Taxi-Boat, Ibiza

Ibiza from the Taxi-Boat, Ibiza

Yes, Ibiza took me by surprise! I must acknowledge there that going to Ibiza was not my top priority, as I associated this Balearic Island with little else than mass tourism, wild parties with loads of alcohol & other substances and electronic music… But a friend raved about it and I found very cheap flights, good enough a reason to spend 5 days there in June 2016.

Both the Old Town of Eivissa (the Catalan name of Ibiza) and large portions of the island are actually UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and thus protected from developers’ greed! Continue Reading →

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Caño Cristales – The Newest Destination In Colombia?

A Game Of Colors

Caño Cristales, Parque Nacional Natural Sierra de la Macarena, Colombia

Caño Cristales, Parque Nacional Natural Sierra de la Macarena, Colombia

Caño Cristales (in English: “Crystal Spout”), in the Parque Nacional Natural Sierra de la Macarena, is situated approx. 350 kilometers Southeast of Bogota. The river is also called the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow” (yes, Colombians even call it “the most beautiful river in the world”). Why? From July to November, the riverbed is colored yellow, green, blue, black, and especially red, due to the “Macarenia Clavigera”, a reddish endemic algae that flourishes especially in the rapids of the river. Continue Reading →

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Grand Escapades’ Travel Guide To Colombia

South America’s Most Diverse Country?

Colonial City of Cartagena de Indias

Colonial City of Cartagena de Indias

Itinerary And Time Of The Visit

In summer 2009, I spent 7 weeks in Colombia and discovered Salento & the Zona Cafetera; Popayan, San Agustin, Tierradentro & the Desierto de Tatacoa; Bogota; Villa de Leyva, San Gil, Barichara & Bucaramanga; Medellin (during the Feria de las Flores); Santa Marta, Taganga & Tayrona National Park; Rioacha & La Guajira (up to Punta Gallinas) and last but not least Cartagena de Indias. Continue Reading →

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Colombia – A Selection Of 93 Pictures

Templo la Immaculada y San Lorenzo, Barichara, Santander

Templo la Immaculada y San Lorenzo, Barichara, Santander, Colombia

In summer 2009, I spent 7 weeks in Colombia and discovered Salento & the Zona Cafetera; Popayan, San Agustin, Tierradentro & the Desierto de Tatacoa; Bogota; Villa de Leyva, San Gil, Barichara & Bucaramanga; Medellin (during the Feria de las Flores); Santa Marta, Taganga & Tayrona National Park; Rioacha & La Guajira (up to Punta Gallinas) and last but not least Cartagena de Indias.

In summer 2016, I also traveled 7 weeks there and visited Villa de Leyva, Monguí, Barichara & San Gil; Riohacha & La Guajira (up to Punta Gallinas); Medellin (during the Feria de las Flores); Jardín, Salento & the Zona Cafetera; El Chocó (Bahia Solano); Bogota; Caño Cristales; Popayan & San Agustin; and last but not least Cartagena de Indias.

Here you find a selection of 78 Pictures of Colombia… Continue Reading →

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Grand Escapades’ Budget Guide To Colombia

Cheap To Travel, But Not Everywhere!

View of the Café del Mar, on the City Walls, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

View of the Café del Mar, on the City Walls, Cartagena de Indias

Type Of Travel

My two visits to Colombia were quite different: in summer 2009, shortly after my first Round The World Trip, I was traveling on a (tight) budget. In 2016, I was back for 7 weeks to Colombia, and was actually “Flashpacking”: sleeping in nicer hostels or even some more upscale guesthouses, indulging quite a few activities and local tours, partly flying instead of long bus drives and also going to areas Off The Beaten Track like La Guajira (actually no longer a well kept secret), El Chocó (Pacific Coast) and especially Caño Cristales, which turned out to be very expensive… Continue Reading →

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