Tag: mexico

Camel Riding Cabo San Lucas

camel riding cabo san Lucas

Epic desert journey

Camel riding… in Cabo San Lucas Mexico?

It’s true – you really can go camel riding in Cabo San Lucas on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico! I had a really unique adventure embarking on a camel ride out in the Mexican desert. Tours are available out of Cabo heading deep out into the desert, where you’ll feel transported to an Arabian desert-like wonderland. Bring a book for the bus – it takes a couple hours, but is well worth the trip! It’s truly a peaceful oasis, and I felt refreshed and rejuvenated after my visit!

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Camel introductions

Preparing to Ride the Camels

This is a three phase experience. First, you meet the camels and learn about them followed by a photo op (and, if you’re camel’s feeling frisky, a Casanova-like kiss!) If you’ve always wished you had long eyelashes, prepare to get jealous! The camels are very friendly and serene, and are decked out in colorful accessories! They make quite the fashion and beauty statement…

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Staging area for mounting the camels

Second, you mount the camels in groups of two (solo traveler? no problem, you’ll share with another solo). Third, you embark on an enlightening journey along the beach and through the desert. I had an easy time getting on the camel. I was able to step on a platform, and then I was helped by one of the friendly guides. Each camel passenger is given a headscarf to adorn for protection from the desert sun during the journey. I was feeling very Lawrence of Arabia.

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Camels on parade

Camels are Comfortable!

I found riding a camel surprisingly comfortable and relaxing. Before mounting, I was warned that since the camels are wider than horses some people consider them uncomfortable. That was not my experience. My camel felt a lot more sturdy and the ride smoother compared to the horseback rides I’d been on. My camel was better behaved than any of the horses I’d ridden, and refrained from any jerky motions. Given the choice, I would choose a camel over a horse any day. It was a wonderful way to travel!

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The Mexican Baja desert

Incredible Desert Views

The landscapes of the desert were beautiful. I was there in January, when temperatures were mild. This dazzling desert wonderland is flanked on one side by beach and the other side by mountains, a breathtaking pleasure to behold! And it was so peaceful, so far away from the bustle and commotion of the city of Cabo. Yep, this place has it all!

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Alfresco dining a-la Mexico

Delicious, Authentic Lunch Break

The last experience of the tour was an authentic, alfresco lunch buffet with a wonderfully rustic ambience. Fabulous food in an amazing atmosphere – what more can you ask for after an exhilarating ride? (And, yes, camel meat was available… and optional!) A variety of choices were served… each one of them more delectable than the last!

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Delicious authentic Mexican lunch!

Tequila Time!

Also on the menu: a tequila tasting, featuring abundant varieties of tequila! What a great way to quench your desert thirst…! Non-alcoholic Mexican beverages were also available. It was a fun treat to cap off what was an incredible day, one I will cherish for a lifetime!

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Too much tequila?!

More on Camel Riding in Cabo San Lucas

Camel riding in Cabo San Lucas was a total blast! You can see a video of my experience here (note – filming while riding was not allowed, but I was able to purchase drone video and film the rest of the time):!

Visit my YouTube channel for more videos of exciting destinations!:

Ultimate Travel Adventures YouTube Channel

Check out more of Mexico in my Chichen Itza blog post!:

Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico!

Chichen Itza, Mexico: Ancient Mayan City

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El Castillo (“The Castle”)

Chichen Itza, Mexico: Great Mayan City

Chichen Itza, Mexico is on the Yucatan Peninsula. This ancient city boasts some of the most spectacular Mayan ruins in the world. Chichen Itza has stood the test of time superbly, considering it dates from 600-900AD. The phrase “Chichen Itza” means “the well at the mouth of the Itza.” Although remote, Chichen Itza is frequently featured in bus tour excursions from Playa del Carmen (2 hours, 7 minutes), Cancun (2 hours, 15 minutes), and Cozumel (3 hours, 25 minutes). If that sounds like a long trek, don’t be discouraged. The treasures to be found once you’re at Chichen Itza make every second on the bus worth the journey!

The Castle

El Castillo is, perhaps, the most enthralling architectural marvel of all here. El Castillo, Temple of Kukulcan, or “the castle,” is a 98 foot high enormous ziggurat temple. (Art History tip: when there are steps it is a ziggurat, not a pyramid.) Sacrifices were performed on the platform at the top. This structure may be the most iconic symbol in the world of the ancient Mayan civilization.

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Templo de los Guerreros (“Temple of the Warriors”)

Mayan Warrior Tradition

The Temple of the Warriors is near the castle, where a forest of columns is adorned with depictions of the most honored fighting champions. The Mayans took pride in their fighting prowess, and they’ve immortalized this tradition here. Polities fought over limited natural resources such as obsidian, water, and land for farming. The capture of sacrifices, which is now considered a gruesome part of their spiritual traditions, also sparked violent conflict.

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“Great Ball Court”

Mayan Athletic Skill

Athletes were champions, too. And a favorite structure with visitors here is the Great Ball Court, the largest (551 by 230 feet) and most well-preserved Mayan ball court in the world. The court is surrounded by “stands,” or audience seating areas. Different classes were assigned to different seating areas, becoming increasingly more lavish and “with a better view of the action” as the audience member elevated in social class. It reminded me of the seating structure of the amphitheaters of Ancient Rome, although a whole ocean away. Notice the donut-shaped carving (top left on the photo above.) The ball had to get through this hole, and seeing this, you contemplate the tremendous skill of the Mayan athletes!

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Carvings on the wall of the Ball Court

Sport in Art

Carvings on the walls of the ball court are extremely detailed, and tell the story of the ball game and its athletes. The “winner” had the privilege of being selected for sacrifice through decapitation (also depicted here!) The artwork at Chichen Itza is extremely well preserved and maintained, so it’s a joy to ponder the Mayan culture here! For example, it’s fascinating to consider how much ancient Mayan culture differed from cultures of today!

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“Venus Platform”

More to Explore!

There are many other buildings here to explore, so take your time to notice the intricate detail on many of these structures. There is absolutely no better way to learn about a time and place in history than from the original people, who, here, eternally tell their first-hand story through their artwork. No modern tour guide can tell it so well. The crowds can be enormous here, but there’s lots of room to spread out, making the experience more comfortable than smaller ancient sites. But be sure to bring some sunscreen and cool clothing, because there’s little shade here and it tends to get stiflingly hot, even in shoulder season!

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Overhead view*

*Open source (credit: dronepicr, http://www.commons.wikimedia.org)

In conclusion, you can explore more of Chichen, Itza, Mexico in my full video tour here!:

For videos on more destinations, as well as hotel and cruise ship tours, check out my YouTube channel here!:

Ultimate Travel Adventures YouTube Channel

And for more Mexico, check out my camel riding in Cabo San Lucas blog here!:

Camel Riding Cabo San Lucas

Amazing Mazatlan, Mexico!

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Cliff Diver

Mazatlan, Mexico: Captivating Contradictions

Firstly, Mazatlan, Mexico is a bustling metropolis on the Mexican Riviera. It’s one of Mexico’s most interesting west coast cities. Moreover, you’re never far from the laid-back pleasures of miles of beaches. And oceanfront pedestrian pathways are abundant here. So put on your poncho; it’s time to explore!

Mazatlan’s Cliff Divers

While there are many pleasures to pursue, the most popular attraction may be Mazatlan’s famous “cliff divers.” If you’re up for some real excitement, catch these daredevils in action! These guys make the death-defying leap all day! You can reward their bravery with a voluntary donation. The show is well worth the “price of admission!”

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Big city, big beaches!

Beautiful Beaches

The beaches seemingly are endless here. Enjoy views of the city skyline, and tiny islands in the distance. Warm waves wash over you. The vibrant cobalt waters crash along craggy cliffs along the coast. Mazatlan boasts over 20 miles of beautiful sandy beaches. Some of Mazatlan’s high rated beaches are Playa Olas Altas, Playa Cerritos, and Play Brujas. So have fun finding your favorite!

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Miles of oceanfront walkways

Mazatlan’s Esplanade

Swimming’s not your thing? There are miles of pedestrian pathways sporting the same spectacular views! Statues and other art guide the way like cultural signposts. On the esplanade, you can have a leisurely stroll with the sights, smells, and sounds of the sea. There are many opportunities to stop, sit, and soak it all in. And for people-watching, the esplanade can’t be beat! So set your sights on this seaside paradise!

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Mazatlan Cathedral, exterior

Mazatlan Cathedral

Mazatlan’s most striking architectural highlight may be the  Mazatlan Cathedral, although its more formal name is the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. This baroque revival style building was finished in 1899. The interior is truly inspiring. The sunlight glow beaming through the stained glass windows bathe the sanctuary in brilliantly bold color. And towering pillars line the aisle like exclamation points paying tribute to the undeniable beauty of this place. The building is exquisitely decorated and brilliantly restored, and a Mazatlan must-see. It’s a welcome sanctuary of peace compared to the bustling city outside.

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Mazatlan Cathedral, interior

More of Amazing Mazatlan, Mexico!

In conclusion, Mazatlan is at once old and new, and peaceful and exciting. It is a city to experience contradictions. While it’s a major city, it’s not without its peaceful pleasures.

Check out my full video tour of Mazatlan here!:

And for more great destinations, as well as hotel and cruise ship tours, check out my YouTube channel here!:

Ultimate Travel Adventures YouTube Channel

Want more Mexico? If so, check out my Chichen Itza Mayan ruins blog post!:

Chichen Itza, Mexico: Ancient Mayan City

Costa Maya, Mexico: Segway Adventure Excursion, Town, & Port

Stop two on the Norwegian Dawn Western Caribbean itinerary was Costa Maya, Mexico. Though touristy, I was impressed by the size of the port, and the attempt made to emulate the colonial style in architecture and layout. Surrounded by bright, pastel buildings complimenting the abundant sunshine highlighting them, it felt like paradise. Upon arriving at the port, we were welcomed by brilliantly-colored-costumed local performers.

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A warm welcome!

I signed up for the “Segway Adventure” excursion, and it was to be my first attempt using a Segway. Despite poor balance and osteoarthritis, I found the Segway extremely easy to control, and great fun! I wished I’d had more shock-absorbent shoes, because something about the motor under your feet is a little bit of a strain on them, but it did not impede on my enjoyment too much. After a short training session and feeling very comfortable on the Segway, we were off and into town!

We rolled through a long stretch of town parallel to the beach (don’t think I would have wanted to try to walk it – it was very spread out!), lined with alfresco dining opportunities, street vendors, stores and bars, and more masseuses offering massages than I’d ever seen in my life! (Sorry, Atlantic City Boardwalk!) It was the epitome of hedonism, all of this indulgence on massage tables, listening to the waves crash on the shore, sun-drenched skin, and an abundance of blissful smiles.

Others opted for water sports and swimming in the refreshing, aqua ocean waters, glistening in the mid-day sun as if crystals were floating upon it. The beach area did not extend far into land because of all of the other services on the beach, but it was very long so there was room for everyone. The Segway tour included a post-Segway “Beach Break,” during which I wandered up and down the street and beach, greeting locals in Spanish, and getting hassled by street vendors…

The scenery was beautiful, and the Segway was a marvelous way to take it all in. We were able to cover a lot of ground quickly while enjoying the soft, warm breeze on our faces (and a quick getaway from the more aggressive street vendors!)

Costa Maya is definitely a port to which I would love to return. Granted, it may not be the most authentic experience, and I probably saw as many tourists as locals (if not more) during the stop here, but it was fun nonetheless and the amazing scenery provided an excellent explanation why the place has become so attractive to tourists. It is very clean, well-maintained, and abundant with relaxing things to do, and I look forward to my next visit!

Please visit my YouTube channel for video footage of this stop:

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Travel Flashback: Carnival Triumph to Mexico in September

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By the time this blog publishes, I’ll be sipping Pina Coladas in the Caribbean Sea, (yes – the Caribbean again… hey I like my winter 75 and sunny!) so it was time to pre-schedule a saved blog post from September as a “flashback” this week! Given the trip was unforgettable, didn’t seem to matter that it took place last fall – it feels like yesterday!

We sailed on the Carnival Triumph to Cozumel and Yucatan. The New Orleans departure port offered us a great excuse to take a long road trip, and we stopped in Biloxi at Harrah’s for a couple of nights of unbridled fun gaming and amazing gulf coast seafood! I had never experienced such great table games with low minimums and friendly dealers at any other casino I’d ever been to. Then it was off to New Orleans and the ship. For the first port excursion, I visited the ancient Mayan city of Tulum, and being an Art History major in college I was completely overcome with awe! From the 13th-15th century, the structures of Tulum have held up impressively well considering their age. There are many different buildings; particularly interesting are the temple and palace. I love museums, but there is nothing quite like being surrounded by ancient architecture in a wide open outdoor space to help visualize and imagine how it was back in the day and bring it to life. Of course, these are ruins and heavily damaged, but they really give you a sense of the expanse of the city and some of the day-to-day rituals that were important elements of people’s lives in the time. And then there is the modern population now calling this place home – iguanas! They were crawling all over the ruins, and one of the locals advised me they are the “guardians!”

After the visit to Tulum we visited a community of modern-day Mayans. They provided us a delectable meal including the most mouth-watering, piping hot and fresh off the griddle homemade tortillas. After a stop at a cenote for a refreshing swim it was back to the ship.

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I wanted to choose an excursion suitable for my disabled husband at the next port, so we signed up for the Mi Casa Es Su Casa VIP beach house. We were looking forward to a relaxing day on the beach, in the pool, on the hammocks, and having our appetite satisfied and thirst quenched by attentive waiters while we settled in on loungers drenched in warm, golden sunlight. The highlight of the day was the on-site masseuse who only charged $30 for a half-hour massage that prepared us well for our day of blissful relaxation. After an indulgent massage it was time for spicy margaritas and an array of delicious Mexican specialties on the buffet before a dip in the pool – and ocean. It was a luxurious day of pampering and peace.

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After our Mexican adventure it was back to the ship and the port of New Orleans. Feeling lucky after such a terrific trip, we stopped in at Harrah’s New Orleans for some gaming fun before the long drive home. Sure enough, I left a winner, and had a deposit for the next adventure!

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