Cruise the Caribbean in Style with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago 60614

You’ve decided that you want to go on a luxury vacation to the picturesque Caribbean islands, which is a great choice given the beauty and sheer number of activities that the more than 1,700 miles of beautiful land and islands have to offer.

Finding the Right Caribbean Destination

Finding the right destination and accommodations based on online profiles can be tough, which is where Sunset Travel & Cruise comes in. If you aren’t an experienced traveler — or it’s simply been awhile since you planned a vacation – there are some things you should keep in mind that could make your Caribbean vacation a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Plan the Perfect Caribbean Escape with Tips from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

The Best Time to Travel to the Caribbean

The weather in the Caribbean is pleasant year-round, with the exception of the occasional tropical storm or hurricane, but rates do vary seasonally, and each season brings its own unique events and activities that might factor into your decision.

It’s generally thought the best time to visit the Caribbean is December to April, when it’s slightly cooler (particularly in the northern Caribbean), drier and less humid. However, this is also when most of the tourists flock to escape the cold winter weather from the north. If you go during May to November, know that it can be rainy, with hurricanes possible from July to October – though these are rare in the far south.

With all that said, the most inexpensive rates and fewer crowds happen in May to June and late November to mid December – all while still being able to experience good weather for basking on a beach virtually empty of other tourists.

The Best Luxury Caribbean Vacation Options

Once you know when you want to go, it’s time to decide where you’re going to stay and what you’re going to do. Check out our tips for traveling to the Caribbean here. There are endless options, but Sunset Travel can help you narrow down your choice.

The following are a few of the most popular islands to make your luxury vacation dreams come true.

Antigua and Barbuda

With two islands, you get one paradise vacation. They’re best-known for their pink and white-sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, friendly locals, and the most enjoyable climate in the world. Everything from snorkeling and bodysurfing to historical sites can be part of your trip.

Aruba

The reason this island gets more repeat visitors than any other is because of the beautiful beaches, picturesque weather, and variety of activities offered. Whether you want to take in the vibrant nightlife, snorkel to view the USS Antilla shipwreck, or hike through Arikok National Wildlife Park, Sunset Travel can make it happen.

Bahamas

Comprised of 700 islands and over 2,000 rocks and cays, sprinkled over 100,000 square miles of ocean, this luxury location offers something for everyone. If you have kids, you can visit Aquaventure Waterpark on Paradise Island and play in the 141-acre waterpark. If it’s adults only, go to Arawak Cay (in Nassau) over the weekends and party with daiquiri bars and reggae music.

Barbados

Whether you want to swim, stroll on the beach, or sunbathe, party and play hard or enjoy art, culture and cuisine at its best, you can find it here. Not to mention that it’s the birthplace of rum!

Cayman Islands

More than 2 million people visit this island each year, making it one of the most popular luxury vacation destinations in the world. The tropical beauty of a Caribbean paradise combined with all the amenities you’d expect from stateside sophistication makes it a match made in heaven.

Dominican Republic

One of the highlights of this incredible island is Playa Rincon, a gorgeous beach that has a thick palm forest on one side and the ocean on the other. If you’re looking for adventure, they offer everything from kitesurfing and ziplines to island safaris and scuba diving.

Jamaica

From each morning’s breathtaking sunrise until the sun sets at night, Jamaica presents a magnificent expanse of beauty that makes the island a land of unique experiences, engaging activities, breathtaking landscapes, and a warm, welcoming people. You could literally take multiple luxury Caribbean vacations here and still never get bored.

Travel the Caribbean in Luxury with Tips from Sunset Travel & Cruise of Chicago IL 60614

St. Lucia

Here you can recline on the sandy white beaches, soak in the volcanic mud baths of Soufrière, zipline through lush rainforests, indulge in authentic island food, club-hop on the Rodney Bay strip, and ride ATVs through the countryside… and that’s just the beginning.

St. Maarten

The island provides vacationers the opportunity to enjoy three distinct cultures – the delightfulness of the Dutch on one side, the savoir-faire of the French on the other, and the blending of both in an exotically unique way. Not to mention Maho Beach, which is definitely a must-see experience.

Turks and Caicos

Made up of 40 islands and cays, on the island of Providenciales, known as the Grace Bay beach, this destination has been consistently voted world’s “best beach”. Then you have Club Med, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Thinking of Going On a Luxury Caribbean Vacation?

The choices for your luxury vacation are plentiful, and it can be hard to narrow down exactly just where you should go. Contact Sunset Travel & Cruise today, and we can help you plan out a dream vacation from start to finish!

Unravel the Mysteries of the Greek Islands with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago 60614

Many people often describe “the Greek Islands” as if they were one giant entity, easily popped into and out of and in between, like shops in a strip mall. But look a little bit closer and the magnitude and diversity of the archipelagos becomes as clear as the azure waters.

The Lure of Greece

In reality, there are over 200 inhabited islands in Greece – and over 6,000 isles of varying sizes in total. Each island has its own residents and its own character, from the whitewashed cave homes of the Cyclades to the lush, green Italianate Ionians, to the Crusader castles of Dodecanese.

If you’re one of the lucky ones planning a trip to this beautiful land, there are few things that you should know before you go.

Learn More About Traveling the Greek Islands from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

An Overview of the Greek Islands

Greek sovereign land includes 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, with only 227 islands being inhabited. The Greek Archipelago itself takes up more than 4,600 miles of the country’s total 9,942 mile coastline, offering everything from beaches stretching over many kilometers and sheltered bays and coves to sand-dunes, pebble beaches, coastal caves and wetlands.

Because some of the oldest European civilizations developed on the Greek islands, the islands have unique archeological sites, a distinctive architectural heritage, and local traditions of a centuries-old and multifaceted civilization.

Best Time to Vacation In Greece

If you’re looking for smaller crowds and beautiful weather, June or September are the ideal times to travel to Greece. When it comes to the busy season — roughly late June through early September — you’ll have more ferry routes and open restaurants and beach bars to choose from. However, because there are more visitors to compete with, there are also higher prices to pay.

The weather will actually depend on which island group you travel to. Crete is warmest year-round, so it’s a great choice for late fall or winter — and while some islands are full of locals and see tourists year-round, others, like Santorini, get very quiet come winter.

If you’re looking to take in some of the religious culture, visit Greece during Orthodox Easter, when each island, town, and village celebrates in its own way with religious parades, firecrackers, and revelry. The later Easter falls, the better the weather.

Which Greek Islands Should You Visit?

With so many options available, choosing where to spend your vacation time can seem more difficult than the crossword puzzle in the New York Times. Many of the Greek Islands offer similar attractions — great beaches, beautiful villages, delicious food, and a list of historical sites. If you’re looking for a quiet escape, head to some of the uninhabited islands. If you’re looking for more adventure, stick to the beaten path.

Traveling to the Greek Islands with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago IL 60614

Here’s a small overview of some of the most popular islands:

Crete

As the largest and the southernmost Greek island, located roughly halfway between Europe and Africa, Crete could be its own country with its own customs, climate, accent, and cuisine. There are tourist traps, but there are also incredible beaches, including the unparalleled pink-sand Elafonissi. Add in top-notch ruins such as the palace at Knossos, and a growing locavore scene, and you could spend weeks here without ever getting bored — or hungry.

Corfu

With rich multi-cultural heritage, historic monuments, a stunning natural landscape, crystal clear seas, and excellent weather all year round, it’s no wonder that Corfu is one of the most cosmopolitan Mediterranean destinations. Home to numerous museums and cultural attractions, this destination offers colorful music events, culinary feasts, religious festivals, and carnival celebrations all year long.

Santorini

South east of mainland Greece, in the Aegean Sea, the southernmost of the Cyclades Islands is known as one of the most romantic and beautiful places in the world, making it a popular spot for couples and honeymoons. Thanks to it being a volcanic island, the scenery is beyond compare and one of the main attractions.

Sporades

With dense vegetation, rocky landscapes, and pure blue seas, this island in the northwest Aegean is a uniquely alternative destination. If you’re a movie fan, you can trace the path used in “Mamma Mia!” where the wedding ceremony took place. There’s also a vibrant nightlife, a National Marine Park, the local cheese pie, and gold sand beaches.

Lesbos

Located in the north eastern Aegean, closer to Turkey’s coast than Greece’s, Lesbos is known for its Petrified Forest and for the country’s most famous drink, Ouzo. Unlike some of the other popular Greek islands where mass tourism killed the vibe, Lesbos Island is still a place where you can find the authentic Greek laid-back lifestyle with an ocean overlooking idyllic bays and pretty calm beaches.

Planning a Trip to Greece?

There are just a few of the most popular choices, but it’s really a choose your own adventure — and Sunset Travel & Cruise is here to help you do just that. If you’ve decided to make Greece your next vacation destination, contact Sunset Travel & Cruise today to help plan an adventure that you’ll never forget.

The Best Tips for Traveling to the Caribbean from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago

If there’s one place on Earth that can offer you everything from perfect beaches, delicious cuisines, incredible history, and friendly people waiting for you, that would be the Caribbean islands.

Are you dreaming about the warm sun and sand or do you prefer researching the history of the islands and then taking in the sights? No matter what your perfect island getaway includes, there are some helpful tips to make sure your vacation goes from simply average to absolutely amazing.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to the Caribbean?

With the exception of the occasional tropical storm or hurricane, the weather in the Caribbean is pleasant year-round, but rates do vary seasonally, and each season brings its own unique events and activities that might factor into your decision.

Generally speaking, the best time to visit the Caribbean is considered to be December to April, when it’s slightly cooler (particularly in the northern Caribbean), drier and less humid. However, this is also when most of the tourists flock to escape the northern winter. If you go during May to November, know that it can be rainy, with hurricanes possible from July to October – though these are rare in the far south.

Learn More About Traveling the Caribbean from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

With all that said, May to June and late November to mid December provide the most inexpensive rates and fewer crowds – all while still being able to experience good weather for basking on a beach virtually empty of other tourists.

Know Which Islands You Want to Visit

Knowing when to travel to the Caribbean is one thing, but knowing where in the Caribbean you want to travel is another. The Caribbean islands stretch over more than 1,700 miles in the Caribbean Sea, with some being composed of volcanic rocks, while others of coral and sand. There are some that belong to the U.S., U.K., France, or the Netherlands while some are independent countries. Each island offers up an experience as unique as its personality, including different cultures, popular activities, and tourist offerings.

It’s key to match your island with your personality. If you’re into parties and nightlife, Aruba, Puerto Rico, or the Bahamas will fit the bill. If you prefer activities like hiking up mountains, you’ll find what you’re looking for on more rugged islands like Dominica and Grenada.

Another consideration is air travel, as some islands may require several air connections and only offer infrequent flights midweek. On the other hand, because of its closeness to the U.S. and a sheer number of nonstop flights, San Juan, Puerto Rico, is one of the least expensive Caribbean airports to fly to, as are Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Nassau, Bahamas, and St. Thomas.

It all depends on what you prefer, and Sunset Travel & Cruise will work with you to make sure all your vacation dreams come true.

Choose an Accommodation

Much like choosing an island, the accommodation you choose will be based on your travel style. A popular option is an all-inclusive vacation, meaning you pay only once, but get everything from the room, meals, drinks, activities, transportation, and any other inclusions the resort includes with the deal. This is a good option if you don’t want to spend a lot of time planning the trip, want kid-friendly activities, prefer to lounge around by the pool or beach all day, and don’t care that much about diversity in your restaurant choices.

If you want to really experience local culture and spend time exploring the island, a hotel is the way to go. You will most likely spend more on food and won’t experience as much guidance, but you’re guaranteed an authentic experience.

Keep in mind that off-season rates can reduce prices by up to 40%, so plan accordingly.

Finally, if you’re really on a budget, consider rental options like a villa, Airbnb or Home Away. It’s a popular way of getting cheap accommodation for a few nights, and because they include a kitchen and dining area, you will also save on the cost of meals.

Things to Do In the Caribbean

From taking in the picturesque beaches to exploring the local cuisine, there’s no shortage of activities to do in the islands and it’s impossible to name them all. Simply tell Sunset Travel & Cruise your preferences, and we can find any activity to suit your needs, saving you the time and hassle.

Get Expert Tips for Travel to the Caribbean from Sunset Travel & Cruise Chicago 60614

Some Caribbean Adventures to Consider

Sailing around the Virgin Islands – This is one of the most popular and fun activities you can do. You can get day sails or multi-day trips, a yacht or a catamaran charter; any way you want it, they have it.

Visit Havana, Cuba – Havana is the largest city in the Caribbean and has emerged as a tourist hotspot, rich in history, architecture, and culture — not to mention the subject of one of the most popular songs on the radio. The best time to visit is July when Santiago celebrates its annual Carnival de Santiago de Cuba with music and dancing.

Hike Gros Piton in St. Lucia – If you feel like an excursion and you’re an experienced hiker, plan on taking on the twin volcanic peaks that rise out of the water. They’re a marvel to behold, but an even more incredible experience to climb.

Check out Trunk Bay, St. John – It’s been voted one of the best beaches in the world multiple times, and for good reason. It’s picture perfect with white sands and clear water, and while it costs $5 to get onto the beach, the coral and marine life you’ll see while snorkeling will make it totally worth it.

Planning Your Own Caribbean Vacation?

Whether you want to take in the nightlife in Aruba or the picturesque beaches of Trunk Bay in St. John, Sunset Travel & Cruise will help you plan a Caribbean vacation you’ll never forget. Contact us today!

Explore the Great Pyramids with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

One of the greatest unsolved mysteries of ancient times is the magnanimous Pyramids of Giza near Cairo. Somewhere far away in the secluded desert is the last standing ancient wonder of the world — the Great Pyramid of Khufu.

The Great Pyramids as a Bucket List Item

Walking down the Giza street you’ll see the Egyptian pyramids looming in front of you as you approach them, the sight no doubt taking your breath away. It’s no wonder that visiting the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt is something on many people’s bucket lists.

Travel to the Great Pyramids with Expert Advice from Sunset Travel and Cruise in Chicago, IL 60614

Where are the Great Pyramids?

The Egyptian Pyramids are located within the Pyramids complex on the Giza plateau, about 15 miles southwest of Downtown Cairo.

These pyramids include the Great Pyramid of Khufu (aka Cheops), Pyramid of Khafre (aka Chephren), the Pyramid of Menkaure (aka Mycerinus), which is the smallest of the three main Pyramids of Giza.

The Ancient Egyptians believed that the East side of the Nile (East bank) was for the living, because the sun rises there. The West Bank was for the dead, where the sun sets, which is why the pyramids were purposely built on the West Bank of the River Nile.

When is the Best Time To Visit the Great Pyramids?

Generally speaking, it’s best to visit Egypt is during the winter. More specifically, it’s best to visit the Pyramids of Giza after the morning rush of tourist buses.

This also has the added benefit of missing out on the haze of pollution that normally envelopes Cairo early in the morning.

How to Get To the Great Pyramids

There are various different way to get to this destination, and it will truly depend on your schedule and what you feel comfortable with. The first option is to spend the night at one of the hotels in front of the pyramids, which allows you to simply walk up to the main entrance to the site. Once you’re there, you can either walk or get a horse or camel to ride around the pyramids and nearby desert.

If you’re staying in downtown Cairo, your best best is probably going to be an Uber. It’s less expensive than a taxi, which is another option, and it will save you from having to haggle on cab fare. If you do take a taxi, make sure you agree on a price beforehand and don’t be afraid to bargain hard for a good rate.

Another option is a public bus, which is also rather inexpensive. Finally, you can take the Cairo Metro, which gets pretty crowded during peak hours (7 am to 9 am and 3 pm to 6 pm). Avoid that headache by starting your day early and returning after the rush. It’s efficient, cheap, and will cover all major tourist attractions.

Experience the Best of the Great Pyramids with Expert Travel Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Right in Lincoln Park Chicago, IL 60614

What To Do When You’re at The Great Pyramids

Just seeing the pyramids themselves will leave you in awe, but going inside the Pyramids will take your adventure up to the next level. It might cost you a little bit extra, but it’s worth seeing the inside of The Great Pyramid of Giza, Khafre’s Pyramid, Menkaure Pyramid, and Mers Ankh Tomb.

While there are no mummies inside, you can see those at the Egyptian Museum, which is a highly recommended tourist attraction, as well.

Keep in mind that cameras, including phones, aren’t allowed inside the Pyramids. You can leave your items at the entrance with the guards, who will give you a ticket in exchange that’s needed to collect your belongings when you leave.

What to Wear for The Great Pyramids

Since you will be doing quite a bit of walking around, comfortable footwear is a must. It can get extremely warm in the Pyramid complex, so wear breathable material like linen and be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen.

Are You Planning To Visit the Great Pyramids?

If this vacation is on your bucket list, Sunset Travel & Cruise can plan everything from your flight to Egypt to where you stay and the activities you partake in. Leave it up to us, and together we’ll plan a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Contact us today!

Tour Sicily n in Style with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise in Chicago, IL 60614

What’s the deal with Sicily? It’s more than just the homeland of Sophia on “Golden Girls.” It’s a rugged and attractive island — the largest one in the Mediterranean Sea, to be exact — on the southern tip of Italy. It’s one of the country’s 20 regions, and is separated from the mainland region of Calabria by the five km Straits of Messina.

What Sicily Is Known For

Sicily is known for iconic beaches, historic palaces, and cathedrals that are best visited from May to June or September to October, when temperatures hover around 70ºF. While the weather might be ideal during these months, they also bring larger crowds and higher prices.

As tourist crowds thin out at other times of the year, prices for accommodation drop, which makes off-season travel a good option — traveling in November and December is highly recommended. Winter travel will involve more indoor experiences, such as wine tasting and tours of historic buildings, whereas summer travel will involve more outdoor activities, such a basking in the sun and exploring outdoor markets.

Explore Sicily with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

But no matter what time you go, each season has its highlight.

Winter In Sicily

Winters in Sicily average around 53ºF, but temperatures drop dramatically after sunset, so plenty of warm clothing is needed when visiting the island this time of year. Flights to Italy and hotel prices drop in winter, which means you save when it comes to travel costs.

An added bonus of going in the off-season is that due to lack of tourists, it makes it easier to get to know the locals on a personal basis. A more relaxed atmosphere may also mean better customer service.

Plus, winter offers all sorts of gems to discover. If there’s snow, there’s skiing on Mt. Etna. From culinary delights such as the sea urchin harvest season in February to cool weather golf, wintertime in Sicily offers much more than many travelers realize.

Spring In Sicily

If you’re looking to tour historic sites and take advantage of the scenic beauty, this might be the best time of the year to visit. Spring in Sicily has a mild climate that allows locals and tourists to finally spend the day outside, enjoying the scents of Sicily and some fresh air. It’s not too warm, not too cool, and the cities aren’t as crowded as they are during the summer months.

Starting in April, Sicily is overtaken by the vibrant hues of almond and cherry blossoms and ripening citrus fruit. Many festivals also take place in April and May, including those for Easter. The late-spring, early-summer rush begins in May, so be aware that there might be larger crowds — but it’s worth it.

Learn When to Travel to Sicily from the Travel Experts at Sunset Travel and Cruise Right In Lincoln Park Chicago, IL 60614

Summer In Sicily

The most popular times to visit Sicily are early and late summer, which means the crowds thin out for July and August due to the heat. But if you can take the heat, you can find some good deals.

Summer is the perfect time to get out of the cities and instead explore traditional fishing villages, relax on breathtaking beaches, and swim in the turquoise water. Just keep in mind that some businesses shut down and take a break during the hot season, but gear up for the crowds in late August.

Fall In Sicily

After Sicily’s hot summer, early fall brings in 70ºF temperatures once again. And along with those temperatures brings the height of this Italian island’s tourist season — along with May and June.

Fall is known as the time of olive harvest, and given that the food in Sicily is seasonal, travelers are in for a treat. Enjoy the flavors of the local seafood pasta, arancini, pizza, gelato, and other delicious treats, eating your way through the region while getting to know the culture and the people.

The moderate temperatures mean you can explore the historic landmarks and colorful scenery without overheating. This is why so many people choose fall for their Sicilian vacation.

Are You Planning a Trip To Sicily?

If you’re ready to explore one of Italy’s most popular regions, Sunset Travel & Cruise is ready to make it an experience you’ll never forget. Contact us today!

It’s something that’s on many people’s bucket list — swimming with live dolphins in the beautiful Florida Keys.

Swimming With the Dolphins Is an Ideal Family Vacation

In fact, dolphin encounters are perfectly suited to the Florida Keys because it combines several elements of a visit — family activities, ecotourism, education and conservation, respect for local wildlife, snorkeling, boating, getting in the water, and even a sunset if you time it correctly.

All throughout the Keys, from north to south, visitors can swim with dolphins in their natural environment or participate in a structured encounter. Either way, interacting with these highly intelligent marine animals is an experience you’ll never forget.

Structured or Unstructured Swimming With Dolphins

Most dolphin-swim facilities offer both a structured and an unstructured swim, and it all depends on your personal preference.

Unstructured swims are your best option if you want to interact with dolphins in a more natural environment. Here you can engage with dolphins by mimicking their movements, but keep in mind you shouldn’t touch them. Dolphins will often approach swimmers and interact with them on these swims, but you’re not guaranteed contact.

On the other hand, you have the structured swim, which guarantees contact and includes a trainer who helps participants interact with dolphins.

Whichever swim you choose, there are a few popular places that these can occur.

Dolphin Plus

Located just an hour drive south of Miami, Key Largo’s original swim with the dolphins program, Dolphin Plus,  offers both structured and unstructured swims. The natural, or unstructured, swim lasts for 30 minutes, whereas the structured swim lasts until each swimmer has had a chance to make direct contact with a dolphin.

Both programs offer an approximately 45-minute educational program about bottlenose dolphins and dolphin interactions. In addition, they offer sea lion swims and dolphin therapy.

Dolphin World

Dolphin World offers multiple packages that allow you to swim with dolphins in Key Largo. If you opt for the Full-Day Dolphin Swim Mini Workshop, you’ll get a brief educational presentation, a structured 30-minute interaction with dolphins in both deep and shallow water, 1.5 hours of coral reef snorkeling, and a photo opportunity with a dolphin. If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to take a dolphin ride across the facility’s pool.

Experience Swimming with Dolphins in the Florida Keys with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

It should be noted that while the facility provides snorkel equipment, guests should bring their own towels.

Dolphin Research Center Marathon

The Dolphin Research Center in Marathon is another 30 miles south from Islamorada and a 501(c)3 not-for-profit research and educational facility. They offer several different daily presentations that demonstrate the dolphins’ high flying athletics, dolphin education fun facts, dolphin research, new behavior training, medical behaviors, and much more.

Not only can you swim with the dolphins, but they also offer a selection of interactive experiences that include the chance to observe, meet, play, splash, or even paint with the marine mammals. For those wanting to take it up a notch, guests can accompany a trainer for a full day, learning hand signals, and participating in actual training and feeding sessions.

They’re open every day except Christmas.

Theater of the Sea in Islamorada

Known as a marine mammal adventure park, at Theater of the Sea in Islamorada you can swim with dolphins, sea lions, and stingrays in their natural salt water lagoons through their interactive swim programs. This family-owned attraction has been going strong since 1946, and comes complete with turtles, alligators, sea lions, parrots and more, offering several experiences designed for various age groups.

In addition to swimming and snorkeling with dolphins, the 30-minute dolphin swim includes learning about certain dolphin behaviors like dorsal tows, kisses and hugs.

Ready to Swim With the Dolphins?

If getting into the water with these fabulous creatures is on your bucket list, contact Sunset Travel & Cruise today to make it happen!

The Elephant Experience of a Lifetime in India with Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise in Chicago, IL 60614

Imagine climbing on onto the back of a mighty elephant as you make your way through breathtaking sights. If you’re visiting India, that dream can become a reality and an experience of a lifetime.

Elephants Create the Experience of a Lifetime

Elephants aren’t just a part of zoos and national parks, anymore. Now you can enjoy your vacation with elephants in more ways than you can imagine.

How to Ride the Elephants in India with Expert Advice from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

Elephant Safaris In India

One of the most popular ways to get up close and personal with these magnificent beasts is to take a safari through forest-filled destinations like Kerala, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and others. In fact, they’re offered through almost all the national parks and sanctuaries in India.

It’s best to watch big jungle mammals from close quarters, and if you’re on a lion or rhino safari, staying on top of the elephant keeps you safer than if you were traveling by foot or low to the ground.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Some safaris will not be available throughout the year. They’re usually closed during monsoon season, and for good reason, so be sure to inquire about the availability of the service.
  • Because a safari can last more than two hours, it’s important to carry water with you and stay hydrated.
  • With that said, don’t over-pack and bring more than necessary. Your bag should be compact and easily fastened to the back of the animal.
  • Never try to feed the elephant and always treat it with respect. Trying to get on its back on your own, or kicking/hitting the animal can have dangerous consequences.

Elephant Camps In India

If you want to get really up close and personal with these magnificent beasts, elephant camps are the best way to go. The elephants in the camp are trained to play with both children and adults, meaning you can help bathe them, feed them, play with them, learn about them, and go on a safari in the camp.

Some of the top camps are Sakrebailu, Punnathur Kotta, Theppakadu, and Dubare.

If you’re at an elephant camp, keep in mind:

  • You should never feed any outside food or snacks to elephant — only what the caretaker provides you.
  • Do not irritate the animal or hurt it in any way, always show it the utmost respect.
  • Do not approach the elephants without a caretaker and their approval.
  • If you want to bathe the elephants, it’s best to reach the camp as early as possible.

Ready To Ride the Elephants In India?

If this incredible experience is on your bucket list, contact Sunset Travel & Cruise today to make it a reality!

Tour the Grand Canyon in Style with Expert Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise in Chicago, IL 60614

The Grand Canyon Is Truly a Natural Wonder

Did you know that North America has just one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World?

That would be The Grand Canyon, a bucket list travel destination that stretches 277 miles long through Arizona. Its resplendence draws in more than four million visitors a year, but in order to get the most out of your experience, you’ll need a game plan.

Here are some pointers for your once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Where Is the Grand Canyon?

Located in northern Arizona, northwest of the city of Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon measures more than 270 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, making it one of the biggest canyons in the world.

This natural landmark formed about five to six million years ago due to erosion from the Colorado River, which cut a deep channel through layers of rock. That rock is some of the oldest exposed rock on Earth. In fact, the mile-high walls reveal a cross section of Earth’s crust going back nearly two billion years.

Located near the bottom of the Inner Gorge are some of the oldest known rocks in the canyon, called the Vishnu Basement Rocks. The Vishnu rocks formed about 1.7 billion years ago when magma hardened and joined this region – once a volcanic ocean chain – to the North American continent.

The Best Time to Visit the Grand Canyon

There’s no wrong time to take in the majesty of the Grand Canyon, but there are a couple seasons that are more preferable than others — it all depends on preference. Visiting in the fall and spring will be your best bet to avoid tourist swarms, which means better parking and shorter lines.

Keep in mind that if you go during the summer, temperatures in the Grand Canyon can be dangerously high for hiking some of the routes. On the flip-side, the North Rim and many South Rim trails close in the winter because of snow.

Plan Your Adventure to the Grand Canyon with Tips from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

How to Get to the Grand Canyon

The most popular international airport to fly into is the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), located a three-and-a-half hours’ drive from the South Rim. Other options include flying into Vegas or Flagstaff and driving in yourself.

If you’re not into driving or don’t want to deal with the hassle, you can take the Grand Canyon Railway 65 miles up to the South Rim. The train leaves at 9:30 A.M. (with additional times during peak season) in the morning and comes back at 3:30 pm. During the more than two hour ride, you’ll travel through the Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona that offers plenty of wildlife spotting. There are six different classes of tickets, ranging from a basic bench seat to a Luxury Parlor car with a private bar.

There are also shuttle services available for moving around the South Rim in the Grand Canyon Village area, which can save you the hassle of parking.

Passes are required to enter the park, which can be purchased online. If you’re a big national park fan, it’s recommended that you buy annual America the Beautiful passes which includes your visit to the Grand Canyon and other US National Parks at no extra cost.

What to See at the Grand Canyon

If you’re making the trip, it’s worth staying overnight, in part to catch both sunrise and sunset. If you’re looking for the best viewpoint in the Grand Canyon, that would at Hopi Point. If it’s very busy, you can also see a beautiful sunset from Mojave Point.

You’ll find the Skywalk at Eagle Point, an attraction that hovers 4,000 feet above the Grand Canyon, at the West Rim, which is closest to Las Vegas. The best way to take in the sights is with a hike, but if that’s not your speed, you can also fly over the national treasure. In addition to the helicopter tours in the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, you can also take a shorter and cheaper tour by helicopter or airplane from Grand Canyon Village.

And if hiking and flying aren’t on your list, you can always take in the museums. At Tusayan Ruins and Museum, you can visit the ancestral town located on the East Rim of the Grand Canyon.

At Yavapai Geology Museum (located near the Grand Canyon Village visitor center), visitors can learn about the Canyon’s formation in geological terms and see a glass-paned viewpoint with spectacular views of the Grand Canyon.

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If you’re looking to explore on of the most magnificent sites in the world, Sunset Travel & Cruise is here to make that happen for you. Simply let us know what you would like to see, and we’ll make sure your vacation is packed with the best sights, sounds, and tastes that the Grand Canyon has to offer. Contact us today!

How to Effortlessly Enjoy a Trip to the Eiffel Tower Tips from the Expert Travel Agents at Sunset Travel and Cruise of Chicago, IL 60614

What To Know About Traveling To the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is by far Paris’ most-recognized icon, and it has a rich history that draws in millions of people each year. Some people might think it cliche, but few can deny that when the tower bursts into a shower of scintillating light every hour each evening, it’s truly a sight to behold.

If you’re considering a trip yourself to see the nearly 1,000-foot-high structure, there are a few things that you should know.

Why the Eiffel Tower Is So Iconic

Back in 1889, Gustave Eiffel’s company built Paris’ most recognizable monument, The Eiffel Tower, for the World’s Fair. While many initially regarded the massive iron structure with skepticism, today it’s considered an architectural wonder and attracts more visitors than any other paid tourist attraction in the world — an estimated 7 million people per year.

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The Best Way To Sightsee the Eiffel Tower

The tower has three levels with observation platforms — located at about 200, 400, and 900 feet — all joined by elevators and stairs. However, there’s no one elevator that will take you straight to the top (aka le sommet). To get there, take an elevator or climb 775 steps to the second level. Once you reach the second level, immediately line up for the next elevator, which will take you to the top.

And while seeing things from the top is spectacular, make sure that you take the time to explore the second level. Here you’ll be high enough for great aerial views, but low enough that you can recognize the city’s monuments and take in certain architectural details and feats of urban planning. As for the first level, it offers up a great chance to explore its shops and exhibits, not to mention a vertigo-inducing glass floor that lets you experience what it’s like to stand atop an 18-story building.

The Best Time to Visit the Eiffel Tower

The busiest time for tourists that will have you waiting more than two hours is from mid-July through late August, despite the sweltering summer heat. During weekdays in January, February, the early part of March, and again November through mid-December, you will only have to wait about 30 minutes or less.

When it comes to what time to visit, regular hours of operation from early July through late August are 9:00 a.m. to 12:45 a.m., with the last elevator ride to the top departing at 11:00 p.m. For the rest of the year, the tower is open from 9:30 a.m. until 11:45 p.m., with the last elevator running at 10:30 p.m.

A great time to ascend the Tower is shortly before twilight, so you can experience it at sunset and also after dark. If possible, you’ll definitely want to see it at night when the 20,000 light bulbs sparkle at the top of the tower in a five-minute luminous spectacle every hour on the hour.

Tips for the Best Time to Visit the Eiffel Tower from Sunset Travel and Cruise Chicago, IL 60614

How To Get Your Tickets for the Eiffel Tower

During the busy peak season, ticket lines can be several hours long. Those who just show up with no pre-booked ticket are likely to waste lots of time in the initial entry line — it can be upwards of two hours or more in the summer, on weekends, or on holidays.

One way to avoid this is to skip the ticket line and reserve an entry day/time by prepaying for your ticket. The downside is that you’re locked into a day and specific time, but it can save you hours of waiting in line.

Ticket options vary depending on what you’re planning on doing — riding the elevators to the very top, riding only as far as the second level, or climbing the stairs to the first or second level (the top can only be reached by elevator). Because of these options, prices will also vary greatly depending on age and how many levels you’re going to see.

Why You Should Take the Stairs

The Eiffel Tower is known for the lines you’ll stand in as you wait for an elevator. To avoid wasting hours in line, consider taking the stairs — at least going down, which is a much less physical feat. You’ll need to take the elevator from the top down to the second level, but can use the stairs down from there, stopping as you please to take in the views.

It only takes a few minutes to walk between each level, leaving you more time to explore even more of the great Tower and the city itself.

Are You Planning a Trip to the Eiffel Tower?

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