The Amazon Rainforest is a destination high up on many bucket lists, but given it takes up 40% of South America, it can be hard to know where to begin. In this article, we cover everything you need to know about the Amazon Rainforest, from the best season to visit to the most popular activities. We also compare visiting the Amazon Rainforest in Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador so you know which destination will suit you best.

The best time to visit the Amazon

Obviously, it’s best to wait until after the Covid-19 outbreak has settled and life is back to normal but no matter what season it is, always expect the Amazon to be wet, humid and warm. However two distinct seasons make up the climate of the Amazon, the wet and dry seasons.

The dry season begins in July and lasts until December, temperatures average between 26 to 40ºC (or 78 to 104ºF). You can still expect to endure heavy rain showers, but it is a lot less than compared to the rainy season. This means river levels stay low and it’s easier to explore the jungle on foot.

The wet season runs from January to June and offers cooler temperatures between 23 and 30ºC (73 to 86ºF). The heavy rainfall does make the rainforest a cooler place to explore and the high water levels in the river make cruising easier and give you the option for swimming. However, with more rain comes higher humidity and mosquitos are in abundance.

How to get there

The Amazon is huge, currently occupying 40% of South America, so you’d think visiting it would be easier. The Amazons span from Brazil in the east through to Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia in the west. To get there, the best option is by plane. For Brazil, you can fly directly to Manaus, the biggest city in the Amazon region. If you’re heading to Peru, you can fly directly into Iquitos, this is the same with Ecuador where you can fly from the capital Quito to Coca in only 40 minutes. To see the Amazon in Bolivia it will require more planning and often a flight and then onward transport.

What you can see

The question should be what you can’t see! The Amazon rainforest is home to 10% of the world’s animals, from sloths to monkeys, leopards and toucans. If you are an animal enthusiast, you will be spoilt for choice. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars, so you can get up close to the forest trees and canopies, you never know when you might spot a brightly coloured macaw. But don’t forget to look down at the ground! The rainforest ground is home to many snakes, some deadly such as the anacondas and boa constrictors.
When going on a river cruise you can expect to see capybara’s playing in the wetlands, tapirs and cunning caimans eyeing up dinner. The murky waters are also home to many fish from piranhas to the endangered pink river dolphins.

But it’s not just animals, the Amazon is home to a huge variety of flora and fauna from giant water lily pads to banana trees. The whole rainforest is alive and waiting to be explored.

Activities in the Amazon

There are many activities you can enjoy in the Amazon. The most popular include river cruises and jungle walks. The best time to explore the jungle is night, when it comes alive, opt for an after-dark jungle walk and spot everything from creepy crawlies to armadillos and sun bears. Other activities include learning traditional crafts from native villagers, archery, river rafting, swimming and camping out under the stars. Visiting a native village is a must, it’s important to learn about their connection to the jungle, the role they play as gatekeepers and the importance of their indigenous way of life.

Essentials to pack

The Amazon is hot and humid no matter what the season, so it’s important to pack moisture-wicking clothing. Also, remember long sleeves and long trousers are your best bet. These will help prevent any unwanted insect bites. There are a few other essentials you need to pack
• A head torch for nights in the jungle
• Lots of mosquito spray that has plenty of DEET
• Hiking or walking shoes that are waterproof
• High SPF sunscreen
• A sun hat for when hiking

Also, remember to bring any necessary toiletries or sanitary items. Supplies will be limited in the Amazon and it will be hard to find daily essentials so don’t forget your toothbrush!

How to ensure you travel responsibly

The Amazon rainforest is endangered, so it’s important to ensure your visit helps ensure its survival. You are visiting one of the most diverse eco-climates in the world, it needs to be treated with respect. Remember to take all your rubbish with you and never litter, invest in a reusable bottle with water filtration system and refill it at your hotel or accommodation and try and cut down on your use of throw away plastics.

Remember to always keep a respectful distance from animals and wildlife, this is not only for their protection, but also yours, remember the Amazon is home to many poisonous animals. Listen to your guide, they will always keep you right. Even if you think it’ll make the ultimate selfie, if your guide doesn’t approve it, don’t do it.

Most importantly choose a guide and accommodation option that gives back to the local community. If local people can make a living through tourism, they’ll be less likely to want to damage the Amazon. Some eco-focused accommodation options employ local people and give a percentage of your payment to a local environmental charity. It’s important to research this before going.

Best spots to visit in the Amazon

Below we’ve outlined a few options for you to help you choose the best destination to visit the Amazon.

Manaus, Brazil

Manus is a huge city located in the Amazon, home to around 2 million residents. It is the gateway to the Amazon from Brazil and is a popular spot for tourists to start their journey, because of this, there are plenty of tour operators offering river cruises and trekking trips to suit every budget.

Manaus also has the popular sight dubbed, ‘the meeting of the water.’ This is where the two biggest rivers in Brazil, the Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes meet to form the mighty Amazon. The perfect sight to see before embarking on your Amazon adventure.

Puerto Maldonado and Iquitos, Peru

In Peru, you have two choices for exploring the Amazon. The most popular is Iquitos, which is a big city that is based on the Amazon river. It boasts access to the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, which is home to the endangered pink river dolphins. The best way to experience the Amazon here is by staying in a jungle lodge or enjoying a river cruise.

You can reach Iquitos by a direct flight from Lima. However, if you are looking for something quieter then head to Puerto Maldonado which is in the south-east of the country and offers great opportunities for exploring the Tambopata National Reserve. You can reach the area by plane from Lima. There is more emphasis here on rainforest tours and the best way to experience everything the jungle has to offer it’s recommended you stay in a jungle lodge. Accessing the Amazon in Peru is quicker than in Brazil or Ecuador, so it’s common for people to combine a trek of Machu Pichu with a jungle stay in Iquitos.

Coca, Ecuador

Coca is the gateway to the Amazon in Ecuador. Located on the Napo River, the protected areas of Yasuni National Park and Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve are located nearby. If you are looking for quick access to the Amazon, then Ecuador offers this, with flights from Quito to Coca only 40 minutes. The Amazon here is one of the most diverse places on earth. The area is a haven for birdwatchers, with over 600 species being spotted in the park and over a third of the birdlife found in the Amazon calling it home.

Planning a trip to the Amazon?

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Jennifer Jane Young is the very definition of a successful 21st century multi-hyphenate. Founder of Injoy Living, she also works as a Virtual Business Manager and Strategic Consultant, writer, alongside running her own podcast called ‘The Art of Making Things Happen’.

According to Jennifer ‘The actions you are not willing to take or the decisions you are not willing to make are the ones that will change your life’ .This motto is the perfect reflection to her willpower and resilience to truly carve out the life she wants to live. Amidst a world of dull nine to fives, Jennifer helps people to turn their ideas into reality through her own self-started business, INJOY LIVING. Using her own personal experiences to inspire entrepreneurs the world over, to not settle, and to truly ‘injoy living’ their best lives.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. What inspired you to start Injoy Living?

From a young age I had a ton of creativity and inspiration. My imagination was my safe space but simultaneously I was suffering. Up until I was about 25 I felt like I just didn’t fit anywhere in the world. Throughout my teenage years I suffered with severe anxiety, paralysing me in so many moments, making me feel like I was broken and unlike anyone else. It was a scary time for me because it felt like I was never going to be ok in my life.

I was the black sheep of the crowd, surrounded by people working 9-5 jobs or trying to find their dream program in school and none of that felt good to me. I needed freedom, I needed to do something with my creativity, and I needed to live a life of my own. At the time I could not quite understand all of that yet. In school, I was a little rebel, and I could never hold a job for more than a few months, as I found that it was physically and mentally excruciating. I would daydream of running away from it all and into a life that I would INJOY LIVING.

And so I did.My journey as an entrepreneur began by becoming a Yoga Teacher. I took my summer vacation to do intensive training and never looked back. I FINALLY felt at home in my life. I then went from Yoga Teacher, to Yoga-therapist, to Coach, to Virtual Business Manager & Strategic Advisor.What grew from that was Injoy Living. My company was built to help people craft out the life they are so deeply yearning for, because I believe that we should all be ‘injoying’ our life.

Injoy Living is where personal development meets entrepreneurship. It’s where I serve as a mentor to teach ‘The Art Of Making Things Happen’ by merging inspiration with practicality so people cannot only dream, but also make their dreams happen, one step at a time. I build deep, meaningful connections with people who come into my circle. I wear my heart on my sleeve and share my own journey in an honest way, so that I can use my life and lessons as a stepping stone for them.

The actual big picture vision for Injoy Living came to me when I was on vacation in Ireland, driving through the beautiful Wicklow Mountains. It was so strong that I took out a pad and paper and wrote until my hand was hurting and I could barely hold my pen anymore. I believe that the vision I had that day, was a preview of my life’s mission. Not all of it exists yet, but it’s coming to life, one chapter at a time.

What is Injoy Living all about? How does it help aspiring entrepreneurs the world over?

It’s always about creating a bridge between inspiration and making things happen, through mentoring and practicality. No matter how I’m mentoring someone, I always see myself metaphorically holding my peoples’ hands as I help them step forward. It’s about creating human connection and a community of people on a similar path. I felt so alone for so long, and I don’t want anyone to ever feel that way. There is a unique path for all of us and I want to help people find that path and actually walk it. Through clear intentions, intuitive and strategic actions and the capacity to relax and let go, I help people step forward towards their yearnings. When I am not doing that for myself, I suffer, so when I’m suffering I know that I’m not paying attention to where my intuition is trying to guide me.

Currently my company offers one-on-one services for people to start a business or grow their business with me as the Virtual Business Manager. I mentor through my podcast “The Art Of Making Things Happen” and I invite clients to come work with me under the coconut palms in Cancun Mexico for retreats, work-cations and intensives.

What’s next for you and Injoy Living?

I’m working on getting my book published, where you can read about my philosophy on The Art Of Making Things Happenand one of the biggest leaps I ever took in my life — packing my life and my dog to move to Mexico.

There is so much more to come. I used to get stressed because I wasn’t making things happen fast enough, but now I really appreciate each individual chapter and how they build on each other. If I can spill the beans a little, the next thing I’m working on creating is a caribbean co-working house in Cancun for creatives and entrepreneurs to come stay with me for work & relaxation. I love being a host and taking care of people. You can sign up to Jennifer’s VIP list to be in the first to receive an invitation here.

Talk us through how you help businesses with ‘The Art of Making Things Happen’

I help people connect the dots from their idea/desire to creation. My strength is seeing the big picture and all the pieces involved to make things happen. Where people get overwhelmed, is trying to sort out all the pieces and matching them with the big picture. I help people break things down, problem solve, put the pieces in order and prioritise what to tend to first (while knowing what will be coming next). I’m a natural born project manager.

I also serve by coaching people who are just getting started (or wanting to take their own path) and offering strategic consulting to entrepreneurs. My approach with everyone is highly intuitive.

Communication is the key vehicle to any work or mentoring I do. I offer high-touch support to my community and clients. Unlike so many businesses now online, I want people to feel close to me and have access to me.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a GirlBoss so far?

Taming my creativity. I’ve had to learn that not all ideas are good ones. When creativity hits now I write and write and write. Then I let it sit and see how it feels the next day. I’m a little woowoo so sometimes I’ll pull tarot cards or get a reading from my tarot reader. I trust now that if something is meant to be on my path, it will continue to come bite me in the ass. I use my podcast and writing to channel my creativity, instead of trying to create a new service or a new business with every single blitz of inspiration.

I have to be fully transparent also (because it’s part of my core values as a mentor) and say that money used to be a big challenge for me. Starting at a young age, I had very stressful and scary experiences with money, and those patterns repeated into my adult life. In the last few years, I’ve fallen in love with taking care of my money, with making it, with using it and managing it. It was a long journey, but I finally feel empowered with my finances, which has had a huge impact on my business, success, and peace of mind.

What advice do you have for aspiring GirlBosses who would like to become a Girlboss like yourself?

Connect, connect, connect. You need a community. You need other Girlbosses in your circle. People to talk to and share with. Find a coach or a mentor. Invest in getting help. There are options for support for all different budgets. I would NEVER be where I am today, without the support and connections I have had with other amazing girl bosses. They have helped me become the person I am today. They will share resources with you, connect you with the right people, call you on your bull shit, through your value in your face when you can’t see it yourself. Find your crew is my best advice. No one builds success on their own, not even Oprah. We all need our Gayles!


If you long to take a break from everyday life to enjoy a little fun and relaxation, you might be in desperate need of a tranquil getaway. With so many beautiful destinations at many travellers’ fingertips, it can be difficult to choose the best place to visit for an upcoming break. If you are undecided about where to travel to next, here are four sought after spots for a summer holiday.

Šolta, Croatia

One destination rising in popularity is Šolta, which was often overlooked for many years by travellers who favoured its more popular neighbours, such as Brač or Hvar. Many travellers nowadays, however, are starting to turn their attention towards this stony island, which offers vibrant turquoise waters, pebbled beaches, lush greenery, and picturesque medieval villages.

When you have finished dining at open-air restaurants or chatting to friends or family at stylish beaches and seaside bars, you can watch the sunset over Maslinica bay, which will make you fall in love with Croatia.

Austin, Texas, USA

Austin is an ideal destination for a summer holiday with friends or family, as there are so many things to see and do in this eclectic city. For example, if you want to relax and soak up the intense Texas sun, visit Secret Beach, which is nestled away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

You also will never be short of superb activities and attractions, as you can kayak across Lady Bird Lake, watch the sunrise at Mount Bonnell, or hike up The Barton Creek Greenbelt. Don’t be afraid to venture a little outside of Austin, either, as you could enjoy a tranquil weekend at Lake Travis, which offers boutique hotels, delicious local cuisine, and picturesque lake views. You could even make a holiday extra special by organising a private jet charter to take you straight into the state capital. Find out more:

Grenada, Caribbean

If you dream of spending your days lounging on uncrowded beaches, soaking in a lively local culture and indulging in a flavour-filled cuisine, look no further than Grenada. It is believed many luxury travellers will soon be making their way to the Caribbean country, which has been coined the Spice Island, thanks to the opening of Silversand Hotel in 2018. It offers 43 luxurious rooms and suites, as well as nine villas, and the longest pool in all the Caribbean.

Plus, with many more high-end hotels currently in development, and regular flights and cruises calling at Grenada, it is one destination you shouldn’t disregard when planning a summer holiday overseas.

Salina Island, Italy

Salina Island is undoubtedly one of the most alluring destinations in Italy’s Aeolian archipelago. In fact, it is so beautiful that Domenica Dolce, Stefano Gabbana, and Giorgio Armani have settled down on the breath-taking island, which is located north of Sicily.

Unlike nearby Panarea, you don’t have to worry about it being overrun with luxury yachts, which can detract from its natural beauty, which includes steep mountains, pretty wildflowers and blossoming trees.

When you are not lounging on a stunning private beach or enjoying fresh, local dishes served at its many restaurants, you can drive to the scenic town of Lingua to watch the sun set over Marina Garibaldi.

Although Salzburg has etched a place in our collective consciousness as the idyllic backdrop for the Sound of Music, there is a lot more to discover in this magical city. A marriage of both tradition and modernity, Salzburg is a city that marries a love of music, culture, arts, nature, and especially — food. Join us as we eat our way around Salzburg and experience gastronomic delights so good they will definitely make it to your list of favourite things.

Zirbelzimmer at the Sacher Hotel Salzburg
There is no hotel in Salzburg that better captures its spirit than the Sacher Hotel. Its beautiful oak panelled restaurant, Zirbelzimmer, is the best place in town for a traditional Austrian meal and stunning views of the River Salzach. Its handsome interiors are soaked in centuries of history, with guests like Queen Elizabeth, and the Dalai Lama gracing its hallowed halls. Helmed by the Gault Millau toque awarded Executive Chef Michael Gahleitner, Zirbelzimmer offers a wonderful combination of both local and international cuisine. Don’t leave the Sacher Hotel without trying the original Sacher-Torte. Created by the young Franz Sacher in 1832, for the Prince von Metternich, the Sacher Torte is a word-famous Austrian dessert that combines chocolate, apricot jam, and whipped cream.

Nestled atop the Mönschberg and with an entrance through the Museum of Modern Art that would make even a Bond villain swoon, the M32 is a stunning culinary destination that combines panoramic views, modern stylish interiors, and fresh local fare. Their menu is a combination of Mediterranean and Austrian cuisine, and only uses locally sourced ingredients no further than 32 miles from the restaurant. So if you’re not digging into a Fried fillet of alpine salmon or cutting into Fillet steak — take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the city in the Salzburg’s most beautiful terrace restaurant.

St.Peter’s Stiftskulinarium
Opened in 803 a.d. and located in the historic St.Peter’s Abbey Complex, the St.Peter’s Stiftskulinarium is hailed as the oldest restaurant in Europe. Featuring eleven unique dining areas including vaulted abbey courtyards, intricate baroque halls, and historic wine-cellars, the ST.Peter’s Stiftskulinarium is a dining experience like nothing else in the world. With a menu of haute Austrian cuisine created by Chef Manfred Bessenböcks, it is no wonder why St.Peter’s Stiftskulinarium is one of the highest rated restaurants in Austria. St.Peter’s Stiftskulinarium also offers a “Connaissuer Selections Menu”. An ever-changing weekly menu that offers impeccable seasonal delicacies with matching wine pairings; a definite highlight for a gastronomic tour around Salzburg.



Sun-blazed beaches, breathtaking skylines, and a myriad of natural wonders, are just some of the reasons for visiting the Gold Coast, one of the most popular vacation destinations throughout the last decade. However, trying to see and experience as much as possible in only a week or so of time, can be tricky. You are torn between incredible beaches, theme national parks and trendy shops, luxurious hotels and sparkling nightlife. This is why we prepared a list below to help you plan your days at the Gold Coast and use up the time you have here in the best way possible.

Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise is the most famous city in the area, and the first stop for most Gold Coast visitors. This coastal suburb is literally a paradise for surfers and sun and party lovers. Besides having an amazing beach, Surfers Paradise also offers plenty of entertainment from dawn till dusk. From dining establishments and shops, to late and wild beach parties. Moreover, one of the best surf schools in Australia is located here, so whether you’re an absolute beginner or looking to brush up your skills, this is a great place to practice your moves and hit the waves. Additionally, there’s a hidden gem only a short drive from Surfers Paradise, deep-in-the-jungle hiking trail, the Lost World Valley, with private swimming holes and waterfalls. Make sure to spend some time exploring this off-grid, rainforest track.


Obviously, the most common reason why people decide to come to the coast of Australia is because of its world-class pristine beaches. If you’re looking to spend some time in self-indulgence, with little less hiking, cruising and sightseeing, the Gold Coast is your cup of tea. From suburb feel and family beaches for safe swimming with the kids, such as Broadbeach, through bohemian and hippy vibe at Burleigh Heads, to true locals’ favorite, Nobby beach, the Gold Coast is home to many stunners. Choose based on the kind of experience you’re looking for, but either way you’ll be enjoying a scenic environment, amazing waves and golden sand.

Drive through the Gold Coast

The best way to get the gist of the whole area and see as many places as possible in a short time period is to drive through the whole Gold Coast. Use the services of car hire at Gold Coast airport and start your trip as soon as you land. Especially if you’re on a group journey, with some quality music and car ride games, this can turn out to be a memorable road trip. You’ll enjoy stunning views and breathtaking sceneries.

Twin Falls

Twin Falls is a world-famous waterfall and perhaps the most beautiful one in South East Queensland. It is located in Springbrook National Park, and it’s absolutely beautiful – worth the drive to go see it. It is actually very easy to get there, takes 15 minutes of hiking and all you need to do is follow the road from the Settlement Camping area to Twill Falls Circuit. Since one of its first neighbors is another natural wonder, Jim Jim Falls, these visits are usually combined.

Whale watching

And of course, you just have to get a glimpse of the wild sea world of the Australian coast. in the period between June and October, humpback whales make their migratory journey from the Antarctic to warmer waters where they mate and give birth. If you happen to be visiting the Gold Coast within this time frame, make sure to book a cruise. You’ll also have a chance to see bottlenose dolphins, orcas and huge loggerhead turtles, which are nowhere else to be found in the world. These tours cost less than 70 dollars, and are worth every penny.

The Gold Coast has so much to offer, and this is why it’s good to plan well and ahead so you don’t end up wasting precious time in the land (and water) of sun, surf and sand. With our suggestions from above, you’ll be more than ready to draft a perfect itinerary for your once-in-a-lifetime trip around the magical Gold Coast.

On a cold winter day, our UK travel writer Rachel McAlley set off for a couple of days for #TeamCoco to the Durham Dales to experience the Durham Dales Experience: beautiful countryside, a wonderful 5-star hotel, a well-known arts and cultural museum, and a quaint market town.

I drove through the Yorkshire snow, and into the Durham frost to a very sunny and not at all snowy Rockliffe Hall near Darlington, for a day and night of pure luxury and pampering.

A Solo Female Traveler’s Delight

As a solo female traveller, I wanted to experience the hotel’s grounds and go for a walk, so I took it upon myself to leave my luggage at the reception and head out into the acres of lovely countryside to take in some fresh air and simply enjoy the Rockliffe Hall grounds – an Instagrammers dream!

I was introduced to the brand new MischMasch area of the gardens; a wonderland of curiosities for kids, including six little secret hideaway pods filled with exciting things like a huge Smart TV for movies in one, a pool table and darts board in another, chill out pod to hang with friends in another, and generally have fun in the rest! The child in me wanted to hang out in the pod with the pool table and darts board with my fully grown-up mates and maybe have a glass of wine and just chill for the day.

Indulgence and Relaxation: A Day at Rockliffe Hall

I ventured further afield and took myself through the grounds and across to the Clubhouse, where the hotel’s golfers relax and enjoy a drink and some food. A fab little walk was all I needed after the long drive, and a fab little walk was what I got – it gave me a chance to wind down and enjoy a little me time.

Back into the gorgeous Rockliffe Hall and to The Brasserie for a light lunch (Chicken Caesar Salad, with a side order of fries, and a divine pear tart to finish), looking over the sunkissed golf course and Spa Garden with its steaming hot infinity edge experience pool and warm Jacuzzi, this really was going to be a relaxing stay.

After lunch, I was booked for a 90-minute luxury Neom candle wax massage with an Indian head massage, which was quite possibly the most indulgent massage I have ever experienced. Not only was the treatment super relaxing, but it was also calming, stress relieving, and reflective. The only issue was that the 90 minutes flew-by too fast, I could have stayed for hours having this treatment. This wonderful candle wax massage transported me to a time and place where my mind, body and soul relaxed into that floating state between being awake and asleep – it was simply heavenly.

Ultimate Relaxation and Luxury: Rockliffe Hall Retreat

Post-treatment I was taken to the relaxation room, where I came round from my sleepy state and made the decision to go for a swim in the indoor pool. I could have ventured into the Garden Spa to fully immerse myself in the Rockliffe Hall experience on one of the sound wave therapy beds, but on this occasion, my super-relaxed body couldn’t take me outside, so I simply collapsed on a sun-lounger and then went for a glorious swim.

It was time to leave the award-winning spa and officially check in to my room. Okay, so there are many wonderful luxurious hotel rooms that #TeamCoco have had the pleasure of staying in, but this stunning superior first-floor room in the Old Hall was old-world beauty at its finest, king-sized bed, Egyptian cotton bedding, private living area, huge Smart TV (and a dinky TV at the bottom of the bath), bathrobes and slippers, locally produced biscuits and teas and coffees, plus a Nespresso coffee machine, complimentary water and fresh milk, and extraordinary views of the gardens.

All-in-all the room was a private haven of tranquillity and space, perfect for a solo traveller like myself. I used the desk to do some writing for the magazine and catch up with emails, before taking a bath, and then spending the evening on the sofa watching TV and movies.

Culinary Delights and Morning Vibes: A Stay at Rockliffe Hall

I ordered room service rather than heading to The Orangery, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, as I wanted to enjoy the beautiful Old Hall bedroom that I was lucky to be staying in.

The room service menu was as good as the earlier Brasserie menu, filled with classic dishes, contemporary dishes and room service must-haves. I chose a couple of nibbles (pork scratchings and homemade bread) rather than a starter; I enjoyed the nibbles with a glass of wine before opting for a classic main course (fish and chips with tartar sauce and Yorkshire caviar), a hearty dessert (crumble and ice cream) and a small selection of cheeses. I ordered way too much food, but it was worth it, especially the crumble.

After my ensuing food coma it was time to wrap up warm under the bed covers and dream about fairies in the garden pods at Rockliffe Hall!

Breakfast was taken in the hotel restaurant, it was a buzzing hive of businessmen and women getting ready for the day ahead, couples that had enjoyed a romantic night away from home, and a few solo travellers like myself. Everyone was tucking into either a full English breakfast, eggs Florentine (my breakfast of choice), or simple pastries and coffee, a delicious way to start the day.

Exploring Barnard Castle: History, Culture, and Charm

After checking out of the hotel it was a 40-minute drive across the county from Darlington to Teesdale and Barnard Castle, a quaint market town filled with independent shops and little cafes. I visited a couple of shops in the town including a chocolate shop and a lovely stationery shop. Then I ventured to the world-renowned The Bowes Museum for a morning of culture, history and antiques.

Housing internationally significant collections of fine and decorative arts, the Museum was purpose-built in the 19th Century by wealthy businessman John Bowes and his French actress wife Josephine. Their romantic story was revealed as I wandered around the elegant Grade I Listed building and the gorgeous gardens.

The diverse collections begun by this amazing couple are constantly being added to and currently span three floors of this magnificent French-style chateau in the heart of the Durham Wolds.

Antique Adventures and Abbey Ruins: Exploring the Durham Wolds

Housed in the Museum’s main exhibition space, I spent time being walked through the SOLD! Exhibition (running until May), the display takes the visitor on a journey through 200 years of antique dealing through an innovative ‘shopping for antiques’ theme.

After a couple of hours of culture and history, it was time to depart The Bowes Museum and make my way to the old ruins of Egglestone Abbey before driving from the sunshine of the Durham Wolds back into the Yorkshire snow!

I had a great couple of days filled with relaxation, excellent food, history, and rambling in and around the Durham Wolds aka the Durham Dales, and you can be sure that either myself or someone else from #TeamCoco will be returning to Durham, as there’s plenty more to see including the historical city of Durham itself and also the pretty Durham coast.

This trip for House of Coco Magazine was kindly organised by the following three tourism, hospitality, and arts businesses in the Durham Dales:
Visit County Durham –
Rockliffe Hall –
The Bowes Museum –

It is always advisable to make travel arrangements early when going on holiday. Not only can you get the best rates and be assured of the accommodations you prefer, but there are other, even more important, things to consider when travelling with your dog. This is especially true if you intend to travel outside the UK. Give yourself plenty of time to make the arrangements you need so that you and your furry BFF can have a wonderful holiday with few frustrations.

Always Make Sure Your Destination Is Dog Friendly

Before embarking on your journey, take ample time to ensure that your destination is dog friendly. Although the adverts may say “Dog Friendly Hotel,” you just may find that the size of dogs makes a difference! There are plenty of horror stories where holidaymakers got to their destination only to find that Fido was too big for the hotel policy, or of a wrong breed. Always do thorough research before booking any rooms.

Also, take the time to find out if there are safe dog parks nearby to walk your beloved fur baby and if, by chance, the hotel has dog sitting services. You will find that some of the finer hotels around the world may offer pet and babysitting services.

Choose Your Mode of Travel Carefully

Are you going to be travelling any great distance which usually requires an air flight? If so, you will want to take ample time to really see if this is something you want to subject your dog to. Many dogs become overly stressed when travelling in a cargo hold away from their human and it is not recommended that you tranquilise your pet. Can you find alternate travel arrangements?

Why not ferry across the Channel and then take a train the rest of the way to Germany, for example, if that’s your destination? You know your dog better than anyone and if you feel that your beloved fur baby won’t do well on a flight, you’ve two choices. Get a dog sitter at home or find alternate modes of travel.

Why You MUST Visit Your Vet

You are a wonderful dog owner and so you always visit your vet for well-dog checks at least once a year and you are sure your dog is up-to-date with all his shots. However, some countries require more than just the routine vaccines, and who better to ask than your vet? They may not know the specific requirements but they certainly can help you find the information you need by pointing you to the organisation that would know. Also, you will need to microchip your dog, so if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to do so.

The Benefits of Dog Insurance Cover

Have you considered what it would cost to pay for vet treatment abroad if your BFF falls ill on the trip? An inclusive insurance policy will provide reimbursement to you for up to 90 days abroad if your dog needs veterinary care abroad. Check out cover like that available on, as long as you follow all the Pet Travel Scheme rules, your dog will be covered throughout your holiday.

Packing for Your Dog

Do you realise just how important doing your homework is before travelling abroad with your beloved fur baby? What if you are going to a country where you don’t speak the language and have no clue what the ingredients are in their dog food? Yes, you have pet insurance to reimburse you for vet care if your dog gets ill from dog food abroad, but why put your BFF through that? You certainly wouldn’t like to contract dysentery in a developing nation. That’s akin to what your dog might experience if eating dog food not made up to the high quality you feed him at home!

You may also want to pack your buddy’s favourite toys and chewies for the trip because these can help ward off a panic attack. Chewing is normal behaviour for dogs suffering from anxiety and travelling by air or staying in a new location is sure to cause some amount of nervousness for your dog. Chewies are a must!

Your Key Takeaway from All This

When going on holiday with your dog, there is much to consider. However, it can be summed up nicely by saying that you should always allow extra time for making preparations if you intend to bring your fur baby along with you. There is much to consider from travel restrictions to dog-friendly accommodations and everything in between.

You will need at least one extra visit to the vet and you will want to start preparing your dog for the journey, especially when flying. Take the time to do it right and you will have the most enjoyable holiday ever. Why? That’s simple! It’s because you’ve finally found a way to share your holiday with your BFF. What could be better?

The tourism industry is growing fast that might be putting an extra burden on your pocket. I personally believe that travel doesn’t have to be expensive but as the airfare is getting higher year after year, hotel prices are increasing very fast making the stay costlier. Is there any scope whether you get the joy of traveling to some awesome places and not getting broke?

While doing research to find out tourist places with the least expenses and I have come up with a long list. That has made me feel that I should have known to these places. I was amazed to get to know that the expense of one week tour is less than one month home expenses. To find out a few best options among these, I tapped into a handful of travel insiders to know their experiences to find out the cheapest and most amusing travel places around the world. From that list here are a few of them.


Thailand is a beautiful country with wonderful beaches in the world. Air travel is also not much expensive and which is even cheaper from May to October. There are many hotels and resorts which will be your pocket-friendly. An expert at help with finance homework says you can book a stay in less than $10 in the city like Bangkok. If you want to go for a beach stay and you choose a camping option you need to spend only $3 for one person for a night, only. If you go to Koh Adang, you can limit your budget to 10$ for the entire day with meals and stay, while exploring beaches, waterfalls, and natural beauty. Tourism is one of the major segments in Thailand’s economy that is why Thailand government also promotes it by making the tourism available in affordable price even for a middle-class family.


Vietnam is known for its amazing beaches, rivers, Buddhist pagodas, and bustling cities. This county is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Southeast Asia. This is the only tourist place in Southeast Asia where you can happily live your day in less than 25$ a day. Night stat can be easily found in less than $10. A good meal would cost between $0.5 to $2. Street foods, bus travel, are cheap. Mike ruse an expert at do my statistics assignmentsuggests that one of the most popular ways to travel in Vietnam is through motorbike. This will bring out the cost of living even lower. Fuel is cheaper and traveling through own bike would save the transportation cost through taxies and buses.


India could be one of the best choices I personally prefer. The country has a lot more to offer at less expense. It is a very vast county with many states, famous for different cultures and tourist places. Spending an entire month in India feels like you have scratched the surface only. Mr. Mike a friend of mine, working at searchmetrics discount code has sent to India for a holiday trip stated that; the cost of living is not much. You can easily live a day spending $20 to $30, covering your 3 times meals, staying at a budget hotel, local transportation, and some amusements as well. Places like Kerala, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal, etc. are amazing places to visit within your restricted budget.


The list will be incomplete if I don’t include Cambodia. This is one of the budget friendly places I have ever known. Ruse a tourist says; visiting massive stone temple Angkor Wat would cost you much lower than your expectations. The average daily expense for a backpacker in Cambodia is around $35. But this can be reduced to $10 a day depending upon one’s expectations and style of travel. Meals in any exclusive restaurants can’t be more than $10 and overnight stay at hotel accommodation would cost no more than $3. For breakfast $2 to $3 is sufficient.


Philippines are known for its beaches, sailing, and island hopping, the people and culture, scuba diving and snorkeling, the Banaue Rice Terraces, swimming with whale sharks, natural landscapes, etc. Places are less expensive in terms of tourism. Tourism is an important sector in its economy that is why the government does many things to promote tourism. This may seem unrealistic but an average daily expense in this country is $30 only. An overnight cost at a budgeted hotel would not cost more than $10. If you are comfortable with the roadside meal, use local transportation, using lodge or dorm then you can bring your daily expense to $20 to $25. Adventure activities like scuba diving are quite affordable rather beaches and sunsets are free to enjoy.

With the final day of Mardi Gras upon us, we’ve been looking at how the world’s most famous carnival goes way beyond the stereotype. Our Deputy Editor Sam Johnson has a few tips on how to party like the locals and laissez les bon temps rouler

If you had to choose your last proper meal for 40 days, what would it be? Fish and chips? Pizza? A haute cuisine tasting menu? Personally, I’d ram raid a McDonalds, but people with better taste than me have been doing it with slightly more creativity for years.

The term Mardi Gras is literally the French for ‘fat Tuesday’ (for us, thanks to Domino’s, that’s every Tuesday), which is the final day of fun before Lent, when the Catholic Church established a month of fasting in the lead up to Easter.

The most famous of all Mardi Gras happens in New Orleans, or NOLA if you’re in the know. Back in the day, Creole settlers celebrated carnival season with masquerade balls, with nods to those in Venice and Rome in the 17th and 19th Centuries. French explorers graced the southern settlements and founded Fort Louis de la Louisiane (now Mobile County in Alabama) – the home to the very first Mardi Gras in America. There’s actually a Mardi Gras museum in NOLA for those who care for a more cultural visit.

Nowadays, Mardi Gras is celebrated in the two weeks leading up to Shrove Tuesday, so when we’re all tucking into our pancakes, the Americans are waking up to one severe hangover. Mardi Gras is serious business and it takes the combined efforts of several ‘Krewes’ to organise. The formation of krewes began in Mobile County but transcended across to New Orleans in the early 1700s. Tourism operators Abercrombie and Kent have experts in New Orleans to showcase Mardi Gras like no other, from access to exclusive krewe balls and after parties in mansions, to prime location carnival watching from one of the infamous Bourbon Street balconies.

First time Mardi Gras goers are often overwhelmed by the velocity of it all, and seek temporary refuge in quiet spots around town. Abercrombie and Kent offer a break from the crowds with one of their mixology experts in private courtyards to watch the festivities in comfort. They’ll also teach you how to make the best Sazerac in Louisiana.

Head to the tree-lined Garden District to really immerse in the true spirit of Mardi Gras. Communities come together to enjoy ‘throws’ and celebrate through the festivities with Cajun delight. Abercrombie and Kent can put you right in the centre of the action to enjoy the local way of life, and even participate in one of the parades yourself.

Check out or call one of the experts on 01242 547717 to get the ball rolling for Mardi Gras 2018!

Images courtesy of New Orleans CVB.

Here at House of Coco we’re getting itchy feet and already dreaming about all the new destinations that we’re going to visit as soon as all the bans are lifted. One of the destinations we can’t wait to tick off is Ras Al Khaimah, it’s one of the world’s fastest growing tourism destinations. Juxtaposed between the Hajar Mountains and the Arabian Gulf, the destination remains a hidden gem despite its accessible location, just 45 minutes from Dubai International Airport. The destination is known as being the adventurers’ Emirate and is situated at the northernmost tip of the United Arab Emirates. Its pristine beaches and hotels offer a wide variety of activities from water sports to cookery and arts classes and temperature controlled outdoor pools, while the desert and mountains are ideal for safaris and nature trails for a true Arabian experience.

(1) The World’s Longest Zipline…

For travellers with a quest for adrenaline fuelled adventure, the Jebel Jais Flight is a must. Located on Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the UAE, Jebel Jais Flight is the Guinness World Record’s longest zipline at 2.83km long. Adventure seekers are propelled at speeds between 120 and 150kph from a height of 1,683m above sea level.

(2) Bear Grylls Survival Academy…

Visitors in 2020 can learn the tricks to Bear Grylls survival, with a new brainchild Bear Grylls Survival Academy scheduled to open in Ras Al Khaimah at the end of January 2020. The academy on Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the UAE, will offer participants a wide selection of courses suitable for individuals of all ages and fitness levels. The courses include half-day (five to six hours), 24 and 48-hour courses designed for families and adults. Participants will be exposed to practical and extreme survival techniques necessary to survive some of the toughest terrain in the wilderness such as: how to make a fire in the wilderness, build emergency shelters, learn best ways to use a knife for survival, remote medical trauma, training on navigation techniques, rock climbing and extreme weather survival. The Academy will be run by highly trained professionals.

(3) Five-star luxury at four-star prices…

The Emirate is home to two five-star luxury Ritz-Carlton properties. Whether a digital detox in the middle of the Arabian Desert is the order of the day or a sun-soaked beach break looking out on the Arabian Gulf, guests can sit back and relax knowing that everything is taken care of at either one of these incredible, first class properties:

  • The Ritz-Carlton, Al Wadi Desert amid the beauty of the Arabian Desert, invites guests to connect with nature and culture in an entirely unique way. The resort is equipped with an Equestrian Centre offering guests’ horse and camel rides to experience the desert in true style along with plenty of activities including archery and biking, four dining venues and a spa. Luxury here has no bounds, especially when it comes to the villa suites. Inspired by traditional Bedouin tents, each villa has a private pool and deck, lounge area and, of course, stunning desert views, guaranteed to create an unforgettable experience for the entire family.
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Al Hamra Beach is the ultimate luxury coastal retreat. Located on an isolated stretch of beach beneath the Arabian sun, this five-star resort offers guests exclusive activities and features in a secluded oasis such as snorkelling amid the coral reef, afternoon paddle boarding and owl and falconry shows for the entire family to enjoy. Guests can relax in the sun in one of the 32 beautifully designed private villas lavished with contemporary amenities, each with its own pool and direct beach access, visit the Ritz-Carlton Spa for a holistic treatment and enjoy signature fresh seafood at Shore House restaurant.

(4) Jais Sky Maze…

Visitors to the Emirate can get their adrenaline rushing at a new obstacle maze on the UAE’s highest mountain. Find your sense of adventure 10 metres above the ground as you navigate through several obstacles including rope swings, wobbly bridges, swinging loops and so much more! With two levels of endless fun, the Jais Sky Maze is suitable for adventure seekers of all ages.

(5) Viewing Deck Park on the highest peak in the UAE…

As observation decks go, it doesn’t any grander than this. Opened in early 2018, the landscaped and manicured viewing terraces at 1250m have sublime vistas of the craggy surrounding Hajar Mountains peaks and panoramas that tumble and dip down to the Gulf far below. There are binoculars, for close-up viewing, and plenty of shade provided by sails, on each of the several terraces while the main deck offers parking, toilet facilities and two cafe-kiosks for refreshments.

(6) The Dhayah Fort…

Amongst the magnificent landscapes of Ras Al Khaimah lie beautiful ancient ruins rich in history and cultural significance. Situated in northern Ras Al Khaimah amid the Dhayah oasis, is the famous Dhayah fort. This piece of architecture is steeped in historical importance and is certainly worth a visit and was originally built as a defence structure. With plenty of hiking opportunities on offer, visitors can climb the only hilltop fort still existing in the UAE to explore its history and witness the stunning backdrop of the steep dramatic mountains, surrounding palm gardens and the sea – the perfect opportunity for a quick snap and the fort is free of charge to visit.

(7) The National Museum…

Visitors can immerse themselves in the true Emirati way of life and visit the stunning riads of Ras Al Khaimah immersed in cultural heritage. Travel on a journey through time by visiting the historical sites and local museums to gain a glimpse of the Emirate’s culture, history and heritage. Set in a stunning 17th century riad, the former residence of the ruling family until the 1960’s, The National Museum is located in the western part of Ras Al Khaimah city and houses an eclectic collection of archaeological and ethnological artefacts. All exhibition rooms are situated around the beautiful inner courtyard garden and can be entered through antique wooden doors with traditional carved design. A beautiful setting for visitors to learn about architecture, pearl diving, date agriculture, farming and fishing in the various galleries, The National Museum is a must-see attraction during a visit to the Emirate.

(8) Uncover gems at the Suwaidi Pearl Farm…

Suwaidi Pearl Farm, owned by Abdullah Al Suwaidi, the grandson of one of the country’s last remaining pearl divers. It is the only pearl farm in the UAE that provides locally sourced pearls to jewellers around the world. The farm tour takes you on a 6,000-year journey through the history of Arabian pearl diving, to the days when divers would wear tortoiseshell nose-clips and had heavy rocks fastened to one ankle. Tour participants can select an oyster from a tank; maybe, if you’re lucky, yours will produce a pearl.

(9) Jais Sky Tour…

Adventure meets serenity at the Jais Sky Tour. Adventurers can fly over the awe-inspiring cliffs and canyons of Jebel Jais, as you zip from platform to platform in this unique experience. Covering a total distance of 5km via a series of seven ziplines, ranging from 337m to just over 1km, and averaging speeds of 60kph, the Jais Sky Tour will give you a panoramic, bird’s eye view of the towering Hajar mountains. Navigate your way through the sky and find yourself at the UAE’s highest sky bridge, 1,250mts above the sea level and 300mts above the ground. Pause to capture this unique moment before you cross this 15m bridge and continue the last part of your zipline journey. After an hour of soaring through the sky, we guarantee you will want to do it all over again.

(10) Discover the fascinating tribal culture…

History enthusiasts travelling to Ras Al Khaimah will find a treasure trove of archaeological sites, including 18 historic fortifications, castles and towers dating back to the Bronze Age, within accessible reach. One of the few places in the world that has continuously had settler’s for over 7,000 years, Ras Al Khaimah has a turbulent history that saw the city occupied or challenged by the Sasanians, Islamic clans of the Arabian Gulf, the Portuguese, Dutch and British Forces. Today, Ras Al Khaimah’s society can still be conceded as a tribal society, where tribes are divided into three main categories: mountain tribes, sea tribes and desert tribes. Folklore, folk music, dialogue and dance play an important role in tribes and local communities and are passed down from one generation to another.

(11) Try the new controlled bungee jump, opening in 2020…

Jebal Jais will open the first and only controlled bungee jump in the Middle East in April 2020, which will be suspended 13 metres off the ground and will be positioned 1,500 metres above sea level. Travellers will be able to enjoy the rush of a free fall of eight metres, while having the comfort that the fall is controlled making it safer than a traditional bungee jump.

(12) Relax in the hot springs in the mountains…

Located at the foot of Hajar Mountain, the Khatt Hot Springs are perfect for visitors trying to escape the hustle and bustle of the city this year. Located just ten-minutes from the Ras Al Khaimah International Airport, the healing hot springs were discovered on the edge of the desert in the beginning of the 7th century and showcase spectacular views of the valley with its date palms and numerous farms. The springs are today surrounded by wellness centres and resorts, such as the Golden Tulip Khatt Springs Resort & Spa, where visitors can enjoy a relaxing Turkish bath and sauna, spa massages and treatments, swimming pools and Ayurveda healing procedures.

(13) Dare to explore the Ghost Town of Ras Al Khaimah…

One of the more unique places to visit in Ras Al Khaimah, Jazirat Al Hamra, is an abandoned pearl fishing village which is as fascinating as it is haunting. The village is like an open-air museum, without entrance fees and audio guides, showcasing abandoned houses, schools, a mosque and marketplaces. The village was abandoned when oil wealth gave rise to rapid urbanisation in the creation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This ghost town which visitors can simply drive through, is also famed as a site for the horror production, Djinn.

(14) Learn about the ancient tradition of falconry…

Falconry is an ancient tradition of the Bedouins and an indispensable tool for hunting in the tough conditions of the desert. In ancient times, when the falcons migrated to the Emirates, every resident caught one which would then become his partner for the whole season and a part of his family. When the temperature rose in the summer and the free-living falcons started to fly back to the North, the locals let their falcon go. Today, travellers can witness a unique falcon show at many resorts, including theThe Ritz-Carlton Al Wadi Desert, which houses the region’s most diverse and interactive displays of falcons, hawks, kestrels, owls and eagles. Visitors can witness the Resident Professional Falconers fly their team of dedicated birds of prey using both traditional Arabic and ‘modern’ Western techniques. A tour of the world class Falconry Mews and Rehabilitation and Breeding Centre also rounds off this one-of-a-kind experience.

(15) Eat a typical local meal…

From traditional Arabian cuisine to the finest restaurants, visitors will be spoilt for choice in Ras Al Khaimah. Travellers can dig into local flavours at Al Fanar, known for its machboos (a casserole of meat or fish, rice and onions cooked in spicy sauce) and its seafood dishes such as saloona samak (a stew of fish in a tomato and tamarind sauce). 2020 has also glamorously started with the relaunch of the bi-weekly island-inspired Barefoot Brunch at The Ritz-Carlton, Al Hamra Beach. Guests can enjoy a family-style feast specially designed by the luxury hotel’s culinary team, on the sand. The menu highlights a wide selection of seafood, home-smoked beef ribs, freshly shucked oysters, and more. Crowned with stunning views of the Arabian Gulf, lounge seating and a cocktail bar on the beach, live DJ and after-brunch beach party, the exclusive Barefoot Brunch is an escape to paradise.

(16) Experience the Bedouin Oasis Camp…

The first Bedouin-style desert camp in Ras Al Khaimah provides visitors with the perfect opportunity to explore desert living. This secret haven has been designed for the discerning customer, desiring a traditional magical experience of the Arabian Desert, fused with indulgence and luxury. The Bedouin Oasis Camp is an authentic reproduction of Bedouin life just as it used to be. Guests can learn how to scale the sand dunes in a four-wheel drive, ride a camel or simply just enjoy an overnight stay under the stars, with a sunset wakeup. Rooms for two adults and two children start at £176.00 per night.

(17) Enjoy all-inclusive luxury at the Rixos Bab Al Bahr…

Situated on the pristine white sands of Ras Al Khaimah’s tranquil Marjan Island, Rixos Bab Al Bahr enjoys the beautiful beach, stylish rooms, upmarket restaurants, stunning views, and comprehensive amenities you may expect from a five-star beach resort in the Middle East. With few exceptions, everything is inclusive from the kaleidoscope of cuisine in Seven Heights and the delicious selection of unlimited beverages in See & Sea, Mojito Lounge and Inferno, to the diverse choice of entertainment and nightlife, kids clubs, spa, sports, and recreational activities. Five delectable a la carte restaurants, including a steakhouse and a seafood restaurant, offer a more diverse dining experience.

(18) Eco Mangroves Kayaking in Ras Al Khaimah…

Mangroves and salt flats form a large part of the coastal and inland landscape in Ras Al Khaimah. The mangroves, which are home to a variety of wildlife, including flamingos, extend right into the centre of Ras Al Khaimah bringing a rich sense of nature into the city. Visitors can explore the mangroves by taking kayak excursions and literally lose themselves in the natural beauty. Kayaking is fun, relaxing, very low risk and easy to learn and is open to all even if you have never tried it before. More information can be found here.

(19) Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival…

The Emirate hosts the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival from 31 January – 31 March 2020 under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah. The festival takes place at picturesque 17th century pearl fishing town of Al Jazirah Al Hamra. The abandoned and historic town is rumoured to be haunted. The festival will celebrate the theme of Connected Communities, emphasizing the power of art in bringing communities together and creating shared experiences. The open-air gallery, which is free of cost and open to the public, is set to welcome over 100 international and local artists from 33 countries. Furthermore, the festival will offer an expanded program of public art workshops at Al Jazirah Al Hamra and the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah, and film screenings at VOX Cinemas in Al Hamra Mall.

(20) Relax in a rainforest…

The Ritz-Carlton, Al Wadi Desert also offers a Rainforest Experience which combines European hydrothermal culture with Middle Eastern bathing rituals, creating a rejuvenating sanctuary smack bang the Arabian desert. The experience includes 16 different stations, each traveling one step farther in the journey to relaxation.