Monday, February 27, 2017

X-treme Canyoneering in Grand Canyon of Jordan

Thrill seekers looking for extreme canyoning experiences are turning to the Mujib Gorge known as the Grand Canyon of Jordan. Located in the Mujib Biosphere Reserve adjacent to the Dead Sea, the Mujib Gorge offers hiking and canyoneering in one of the most extreme environs the world has to offer.

Mujib Gorge AKA Grand Canyon of Jordan. Photo courtesy of Wild Jordan
Called torrentismo by the Italians, kloofing by South Africans or barranquismo by the Spanish, the extreme sport of canyoneering involves hiking, scrambling, swimming and repelling. Depending on seasonal rainfall, the Mujib Gorge may contain pools deep enough for swimming. A 20-meter (67-foot) tall waterfall meets enthusiasts near the mouth of the canyon.

Scrambling the water falls in one of the lowest places on Earth.
Adventurers chose between wet and dry trails at the Mujib Biosphere Reserve formerly known as the Wadi Mujib Reserve before the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the extraordinary place a biosphere reserve in 2011. One of the most popular, the Siq Trail is open April 1 – October 31 for guided or self-guided hikes. The trail starts at the Visitor Center near the Mujib Bridge, where hikers scale a dam by use of a cantilevered walkway and follow the river flanked by towering sandstone cliffs to the base of the large waterfall.

Other hiking trails such as the Ibex Trail, where you can view the famous rock “statue” of Lot’s wife and perhaps glimpse Nubian Ibex, require official guides. The Dead Sea below this highline trail provides a startling backdrop during the whole hike.

Lot's Wife hoodoo. Photo by Stacey Wittig
Near the lowest elevation of the planet, the Mujib Biosphere Reserve is the lowest reserve on earth. The remote desert environ is bisected by the Mujib River that cuts deep through rough geologic formations.

The Mujib Biosphere Reserve is about one and a half hours from Amman, the capitol city of the Middle Eastern nation. The desert area gets an average of 330 days of sunshine per year with less than 100 millimeters (3.9 inches) of rainfall, so bring hats, sunscreen, first aid kits, drinking water and dry bags. Stay on the trails and camp only in official sites. Take only pictures, leave only footprints.

Mujib Gorge and trail ramp. Photo by Stacey Wittig
The Mujib Biosphere Reserve is part of Jordan’s progressive national park system that is administered by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN).
Explore more about the Jordanian Grand Canyon by clicking here.


Travel journalist Stacey Wittig was the guest of Jordan Tourism Board North America (JTBNA). This article first appeared in Grand Canyon Examiner in Spring 2016. #LearnJordan #MyJordanJourney

Monday, February 20, 2017

Spring Spree: Santa Fe Celebrates Spring Break With “Kids Eat Free”

AAA Four Diamond Resort Offers Fun Perks & Experiences For Tourism Santa Fe’s “Kids FreeFest”
Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort, the AAA Four Diamond resort located 15 minutes north of downtown Santa Fe, is welcoming the youngest of spring breakers with special perks, freebies and VIP experiences as part of Tourism Santa Fe’s “Spring Break 2017 Kids Free” Promotion.

As part of the city-wide promotion targeting family spring break travelers, Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort will offer plenty of fun for the little ones, including:
  • Free goodie bag at check-in
  • Kids 12 and under eat free 
  • Free kids manicure with paid adult manicure
  • Free kids golf lesson with paid adult lesson
  • Free putting and driving range with paid adult
  • Free candy samples at Senor Murphy’s candy shop

Additional family activities and attractions in Santa Fe include "cork art" projects at Estrella De Norte Vineyard, complimentary entry at the Museum of International Folk Art, free kids admission to Wildlife West Nature Park, treasure hunts at Shiprock Santa Fe and much more. Located just 15 minutes from historic downtown Santa Fe, Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder offers an ideal location for families looking to explore Santa Fe.  

The promotion is available February 26 through April 20, 2017. Click here to book this package or visit www.hiltonbuffalothunder.com for additional resort information.

Check out the new daily flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport to Santa Fe. Quick and easy!
American Airlines: www.aa.com

Stacey Wittig is a travel writer based in Flagstaff, AZ. This month she was a guest at the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder Resort and is writing about her fabulous stay for upcoming travel articles.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Do You Have the Skills to Survive in the Wild?



In 2012 Schizophrenic Anton Pilipa disappeared from his home in Vancouver. In early 2017, he was found, barefoot, walking down a dirt track in the Amazon some 6,500 miles away. Apparently, while his family feared him dead, he’d walked the entire journey by himself, without documentation, and somehow survived. Maybe he is the luckiest guy on the Earth right now or maybe this begs the question, do you have the survival skills to survive like this?

For most of us to survive in the wilds, we need to know the following:

  • How to put up a shelter
  • The right survivalist attitude
  • Know how to find clean water
  • Build a fire
  • Find food
  • And develop naturist skills

There’s a lot more to it than just that, but these are the basics anyone needs in order to survive the wild. You need to know your terrain, how to read a map or how to navigate without one using the sun and the stars, how to spot dangerous animal tracks, survive in both hot and cold, wet and dry, conditions, and keep warm. To find out about all of these skills and more, check out extensive guide to surviving the wild - Anton did not need it, but maybe you will.

Blog post by guest blogger Jenny Holt

Friday, February 10, 2017

Verde Valley’s largest wine tasting: Pecan and Wine Festival March 18-19

What: 16th annual Spring Heritage Pecan and Wine Festival, which includes the Verde Valley’s largest wine tasting, Verde River Runoff Canoe and Kayak Race and the Verde Valley Archaeology Fair

Where: In beautiful and historic Downtown Camp Verde, AZ, at the corner of Main Street and Hollamon Street. Race launches form White Bridge River Access Point.

When: Saturday, March 18 (10 p.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday March 19 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), 2017
Cost: Free admission. Charges apply to wine tasting and race entries

The Town of Camp Verde and its partners announced today the 2017 Spring Heritage Pecan and Wine Festival, March 18 and 19. Taste the region’s award-winning wines, race your canoe or kayak, and celebrate the rich agricultural history, as well as the rich and ancient cultural heritage of Arizona’s Verde Valley.

Pecan and Wine Festival: Featuring wine tasting from a dozen or more of the valley’s premiere wineries along with 60+ food and craft vendors from Sedona and the area.

Verde Valley Archaeology Fair: Hosted by the Verde Valley Archaeology Center, this popular family event includes activities surrounding Arizona State Parks’ Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month, the International Archaeology Film Festival and the Festival of American Indian Art.

Verde River Runoff Canoe and Kayak Race: A ten-mile race open to competitive boaters as well as pleasure boaters.

Fort Verde State Historic Park is right next-door and will be sponsoring a Pecan Pie Contest and Vintage baseball.

Camp Verde is located on the banks of the Verde River, just over an hour’s drive north of Phoenix on Interstate 17 and less than an hour from Prescott and Flagstaff. Offsite shuttle parking available at the Bashas’ store parking lot on Finnie Flat Road.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Romantic Santa Fe


Santa Fe is now an easy, romantic getaway from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport thanks to a new direct flight. Blow away your Valentine this month with a surprise romance escape. How I'd love to hear those words, "Just pack your bag, honey. I'm taking you on a surprise trip. You'll find out where we are going when we check-in at the airport."

Don't have time to make the plans, you say? Well, now Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder makes it easy for you to create you own love story with their Ultimate Romance Package, good through the end of Cupid's favorite month.

From breakfast in bed, to wine tasting in Santa Fe’s award-winning vineyards, this Valentine’s romantic getaway will make your sweetie's heart throb with delight.

The special Santa Fe romance package includes:
  •          Breakfast each morning at Iguana Cafe or room service for two guests
  •          $20.00 spa credit per person at Wo’ P’in spa
  •          A complimentary appetizer at the resort’s fine dining restaurant, Red Sage. (With purchase of two entrees.)
  •          A bottle of wine or sparkling cider and handmade chocolates delivered to the guest room upon check-in
  •          Two for one wine tasting at Estrella Del Norte Vineyards
  •          Come early or stay late, early check in or 2 p.m. check out based on availability
  •          Concierge pre-call to assist with romantic touches and personal requests.
Photo by Karen Water
But wait! There's more...

Additional specials are available at Wo’ P’in spa where guests can enjoy 15 percent off any 50-minute treatment or an 80-minute couple’s massage. Each spa experience draws on natural, indigenous healing elements to influence serenity, health and balance.

Located in the high desert of northern New Mexico on the sovereign Native American land of the Pojoaque, Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Resort & Casino offers one of Santa Fe’s most unique golf, spa and gaming resort experiences. With nine suite types, including the opulent two-level Governor’s Suite, each room features a magnificent view of the spectacular northern New Mexico countryside.

All you have to do, is book your flight on American Airlines to SAF (Santa Fe, New Mexico.)

Find out more about resort packages at www.hiltonbuffalothunder.com. For reservations or for more information please call +1-505-455-5555 or visit the hotel’s website on Hilton.com


 About Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder
Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder offers one of Santa Fe’s most unique resort experiences located on the sovereign Native American land of the Pojoaque. Featuring traditional Pueblo architecture, the AAA Four Diamond resort is home to a world-renowned Native American art collection valued at over $2 million maintained by an in-house curator. Rich with amenities for all interests, the resort offers 27 holes of golf at Towa Golf Club,  Pojoaque-influenced spa services at the Wo’ P’in destination spa, lavish indoor/outdoor pool complexes, world-class fine dining at Red Sage and opportunities to enjoy Las Vegas-style gaming and sought-after entertainment and events at the adjacent upscale casino. With 395 guest rooms and 66,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, the resort is the largest of its kind in Northern New Mexico. For more information, visit www.hiltonbuffalothunder.com.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Relax and recharge in scenic Sedona during the hectic holidays with special package



The holidays are hectic - so why not plan a weekday getaway to relax and recharge in scenic Sedona, Arizona, plus get a great deal while doing it?

Kimpton Amara Resort and Spa, nestled amongst the picturesque red rocks of Sedona, is offering the limited-time “Amara on the Rocks” winter package on weekdays starting from $187 a night (compared to weekend rates ranging from $259 - $429). The Arizona resort package includes:
  • Rates starting from $187 (or 15% off best available rate). 
  • Stays Sunday through Thursday only.
  • 2 specialty cocktails upon arrival at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen.
  • Hosted morning coffee and tea service in the Living Room.
  • Complimentary Social Hour from 5:00pm to 6:00pm in the Living Room.
  • Rate code: PROCKS
  • Book now through the end of the year

In addition to the discounted stay, Executive Chef Robert Hoffman of Amara’s signature restaurant, SaltRock Southwest Kitchen, has recently launched a new winter menu featuring
 delicious dishes that marry the fresh, light and seasonal approach to California cooking with culinary traditions and ingredients of the Southwest and Verde Valley. Some standouts include Braised Osso Buco ($26), Duck Confit Tacos ($10), Whole Fried Quail ($31) and Sedona Chopped Salad ($13). Full menu attached.


The resort’s award-winning spa, Amara Spa, is also offering the limited-time 90-minute, “5 Element Balancing Facial” for $190. The journey will begin by floating on a cushion of warm water & connecting to the Earth by breathing in Sedona air that is purified by a warm glowing salt lamp to deepen relaxation. The facial is continued in a state of reflection with vibrational sounds of a vortex metal heart chakra singing bowl to promote healing from daily stress. During the facial, experience a warm stone hand and arm massage complete with a luxurious hand treatment and a face massage incorporating the use of petrified wood carved stones to encourage renewal and regeneration for personal growth. Regroup back to the world with a light dusting of mineral make-up and a cup of refreshing energetically charged five element water. What a way to take a breather from the hectic holidays.

To book a reservation for this holiday getaway, visit amararesort.com or call 928.282.4828.



ABOUT AMARA RESORT AND SPA
As Kimpton’s newest addition to its Arizona properties, Amara Resort & Spa is an intimate, boutique resort that offers 100 spacious guest rooms and suites, combining modern design with Arizona’s comfortable, laid-back lifestyle and views of the surrounding red rocks, Oak Creek and lush foliage. While Amara is just steps from the hustle and bustle of Sedona’s uptown shopping, dining and cultural hub, the resort is situated below the main area, nestled on the banks of the creek, which makes it feel worlds away. Amara’s signature restaurant, SaltRock showcases a menu of Southwestern-inspired cuisine marrying the fresh, light and seasonal approach to California cooking with culinary traditions and ingredients of the Southwest and Verde Valley. Lead by Executive Chef Robert Hoffman, SaltRock serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and its outdoor patio offers guests a breathtaking setting under the stars with a majestic red rock backdrop, live music Thursday through Saturday and views of the heated, sea salt infinity-edge pool and nearby fire pits. The award-winning Amara Spa provides guests with a serene and tranquil spa experience with massages, facials, body treatments, complimentary daily yoga as well as all-natural products that nourish and rejuvenate mind, body and soul. Amara Resort and Spa is located at 100 Amara Lane, Sedona, Ariz. 86336. To learn more, visit amararesort.com or call 928.282.4828.