From Wilderness

Joshua Tree Music Festival attracts people of all ages

Joshua Tree Music Festival paints a perfect picture of music, relaxation and fun for festival goers

As some of us are preparing for the second weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival that kicks off today, many of us are dying of envy as we watch our friends done headdresses, lace, and art gear to enjoy the festivities. However, there is another amazing festival that takes place in awe-inspiring Joshua Tree — the Joshua Tree Music Festival, which is happening May 14-17, 2015.

The Joshua Tree Music Festival is its own experience, and festival planner Barnett English is proud to plan a global music festival that is fun for people of all ages. This is completely different experience from other festivals because your children, friends and family can all come to this event, bond, and truly revel in the experience that can only be had at Joshua Tree.

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If people aren’t familiar with the Joshua Tree Music Festival, it’s important to note that it’s definitely an intimate affair, said English.

“We are not a huge festival – we have at most 4,000 people on site,” he explained. “There are no crushing crowds, and you can get right in front of the stage. It’s super laid back. From my experience, Coachella has about 100,000 people, and the madness can get pretty intense. Ours is not like that. You can see the eyeballs of the guy playing the guitar. It’s a more authentic experience because you are not getting lost in a sea of people.”

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This festival melds the overwhelming spirit of desert freedom with powerful music from around the world to create a lighthearted oasis for music lovers. Magically magnificent art installations, a robust Kidsville schedule, the heavily shaded Music Bowl, a full spectrum of yoga classes from sunrise to sunset, 27 different music playshops and didjeridu classes, late night Astronomy theatre, and a World Market further inspire, intrigue and invite festival goers.

Not to knock bigger, louder, and rowdier festivals like Coachella; it is absolutely a blast when you know how to survive Coachella and all the insanity that comes with it. However, for some, the overwhelming crowds, heat, and overall experience is dampened because you don’t really connect with new friends, or even have the same experience as your own friends. At the Joshua Tree Music Festival, your kids can dance and sway to the music, or you and your significant other can spend time stretching at the yoga class before heading to the main stage together.

Th-19The festival has been held at the same site since its conception, and is held at a privately owned campground with sweeping views of Indian Cove National Park.

“The folks that own the place have given us five acres of 40 acres for us to dream and build stages, shops, and yoga area,” said English. “At the end of the festival, we don’t tear down; we get to leave it here and add onto it every year. It’s not very common that a festival can do that, and we are super grateful to make it funkier.”

The Joshua Tree Music Festival has two main stages, and bands alternate between the two so that no two bands are playing at the same time. This allows for guests to have the same experience, creating a bonding experience.

“All weekend long and afterward, people are affected in a positive way,” said English. “The music has been inspiring and they walk away with more energy. I love to see people have the time of their lives. People come away with meaningful conversations and new friends that they can’t live without.”

If you can’t make it this May, don’t fret. English is proud to say that the festival is so much fun, he and the other planners host it twice a year.

“We are having the 13th annual festival in May, but we also have the 10th annual fall event in October,” he said. “We just couldn’t wait a whole year!”

Full festival line up, schedule, and more information at the following sites:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Kayakers come out in droves for the Port Angeles Kayak and Film Festival

Port Angeles Kayak and Film Festival unites Film Lovers with the Great Outdoors This Weekend!

by Andrea Verdin

The weekend is nearly here, and for those of us who are scrounging for an adventure, it may be time to head to Port Angeles for a one of a kind experience: the Port Angeles Kayak and Film Festival.

Festival Logo

This event will span two days, with a pre-party starting on Friday night, and continuing through Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19 at Hollywood Beach in Port Angeles, WA. Throughout the entire weekend, there will be over 25 different events happening for anyone interested in paddle sports or film to join.

“We are so pleased to bring an event of this caliber to Port Angeles for a second year,” says Tammi Hinkle, owner of Adventures Through Kayaking, one of three local co-organizers of the Festival. “It’s truly a one-of-a-kind event; no other festival in the country highlights and promotes all classes of paddling. Participants can take an Eskimo rolling class, get educated on tides and currents, learn how to land their craft in surf, experience stand-up paddle boarding and much more.”

img22A “It’s a continuation of an event that used to happen in the area,” said Hinkle. “It’s really about community, being outside, sharing experiences, and being excited about outdoor recreation. It’s absolutely a family event.”

“The best part,” Hinkle continues, “is that almost anyone can participate. The Festival is open to all levels and all ages. It’s a community event that we hope anyone with an interest will come out and enjoy.”

There are 12 different short films that feature some sort of paddle sport. Keynote speaker will be professional kayaker and co-founder of the Ikkatsu Project, Ken Campbell.

paddle-boardersAcccording to Campbell, the Ikkatsu Project is an initiative to raise awareness of the impact that toxic pollutants are having on beaches and shorelines through print, films and data-gathering expeditions. After his presentation, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the world premiere of Message in a Plastic Bottle, a film by Ken Campbell that discusses the Ikkatsu Project’s third film, which chronicles his 150-mile journey from Olympia to Bellingham aboard the Hyas yiem, a kayak constructed of discarded single-use plastic bottles. The presentation will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 18 at Peninsula College’s Maier Performance Hall.

Since Port Angeles is a quaint portside town, it has all of the smalltime charm that allows for relaxing and enjoying yourself in between films. Hinkle recommends spending a little time enjoying the Olympic National Park after the festival, so you may want to bring a pair of hiking boots and a mountain bike as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADuring the Port Angeles Kayak and Film Festival, over 20 classes are available to guests, and they can create the itinerary that interests them. One novice might want to learn the basics of kayaking or stand up paddle boarding, while an experienced kayaker might want to focus on navigation or cold water immersion.

“Some of our instructors are very well known in the kayak world,” said Hinkle. “You can bring your own kayak, or you can rent. Gear is included with some of the classes. The festival itself is free, and the only cost is for class participation, with the cost ranging from $5 to $35.”

Don’t fret about being lost in class; each class allows for intimacy with the instructors.

“We have really small classes, with a maximum of eight people,” said Hinkle. “We always have at least two instructors, even in a class of eight for the quality of instruction. There is going to be a lot of learning from very highly acclaimed teachers.”

For more information, go to www.portangeleskayakandfilm.com or call (360) 417-3015.

Discovery Wildlife Tours in Breathtaking Alaska

All Aboard Yacht Charter Alaska Cruises Makes for Unique Tours

by Andrea Verdin

Summer is perfect for exploring the Great Outdoors. You want to be one with nature, communing with animals and exploring uncharted territory. However, that’s hard to do when you’re booking a trip with a big tour company that caters to thousands of guests at a time. In order to get the thrill of kayaking up to a brown bear, or seeing an eagle perched atop a glacier, you may want to book an Alaskan cruise with All Aboard Yacht Charter.

Kayak with brown bear in Alaska with All Aboard Yacht Charter
Kayak with brown bear in Alaska with All Aboard Yacht Charter — Courtesy photo

All Aboard Yacht Charter Alaska Cruises are different from the bigger cruise lines in a variety of ways — a smaller boat, a smaller group of people, and a less rigid schedule. This leaves plenty of room for a person yearning for a true nature getaway to relax, unwind and explore Alaska’s natural beauty in peace.

With a maximum of 12 guests on each Alaskan cruise, guests’ days are spent cruising and sightseeing, watching whales, fishing, hiking, beach combing and bear viewing. Late afternoon Discovery anchors in a secluded bay where guests have the opportunity to explore by kayak or skiff, help the crew set crab pots or just relax on board. Humpback whales are regularly seen breaching, lunge feeding or tail slapping and often come very close to the boat. It is not uncommon to spend an hour or an afternoon watching humpback whales, orcas, dall’s porpoises, sea lions, sea otters, bald eagles and a variety of sea birds that also inhabit the Alaskan waters.

According to Discovery Captain Ben Swanson, off boat excursions are the true highlight of each cruise. Guests can pull their hiking boots on and traverse on bear trails through lush temperate rainforest to clear salmon streams. Admiralty Island has the densest population of Brown Bears in the world and is a popular site for Bald Eagles, so be sure to keep your camera handy.

Brown Bear meets an off boat excursion from the All Aboard Yacht Charters team
Brown Bear meets an off boat excursion from the All Aboard Yacht Charters team

“We try to show guests a little bit of everything,” said Captain Swanson. “We can see whales, then hike and soak in natural hot springs. We are obviously so different from a traditional cruise ship. We let guests see what others don’t ever see. We go off the beaten path into desolate bays.”

Based on the number of guests aboard the Discovery and their interests, each trip into Alaska may be completely different. If a group prefers to kayak, they may, and if they choose to take their cruise on land, they may also spend some time in a terrain that is limited to a special few.

“One thing that is pretty special about our cruises is that we are able to go ashore in Southeast Alaska,” said Captain Swanson. “We have a permit to go to shore or fish because we have all the permits required, which many of our competitors don’t. If guests say they would like to hike on the beach, we have the ability to let them.”

Discovery by waterfall FT IMG_6179 Guests on bow IMG_6195

If guests prefer to lounge about the Discovery, there’s still plenty to take in. With wrap-around windows, every seat has a spectacular view of the Alaskan beauty that surrounds the ship.

The All Aboard Yacht Charter Alaska Cruises take place on the 1931 classic yacht MV Discovery, a beautiful fantail yacht. At 87-feet in length, this boat has a perfect blend of old world charm and modern conveniences.

“The windows surround the whole boat,” said Captain Swanson. “We have over 30 windows, and even on a rainy day, a guest can sit in the salon and see all the wildlife, or come to the wheelhouse and sit in the co-pilot’s seat with a cup of hot chocolate. We have wrap around decks that let guests walk around the whole boat, or relax in the fantail lounge outside.”

Don’t think that just because the Discovery is a smaller ship that you’re not going to get world-class treatment. Each cruise has a chef that will not only provide extraordinary culinary experiences, but he will also meet any dietary needs or restrictions that a guest might have. As an added bonus, any fish that are caught by guests can be enjoyed the same evening after they were caught.

MV Discovery Salon - Forward in eveningIMG_0549 MV Discovery Salon - Dining

 

Captain Swanson and his team have a vast amount of knowledge about the Alaskan terrain, and they know how to keep each guest happy throughout the experience, which is truly solidified by the experience of sharing this once-in-a-lifetime trip with others.

“People are so enamored with the boat when they arrive, and it’s really neat to share that with someone,” said Captain Swanson. “We end up staying up every night until 11:30, sitting and reflecting over a whale encounter or fish story that was moving.”

If you’re really looking for that kind of moving experience, this is the trip for you.

For more information on the All Aboard Yacht Charter Cruises, go to  www.AlaskaCharters.com, email allaboard@alaskacharters.com, or call (800) 767-1024 or (360) 898-7300 if outside the US.

Zambia jeep safari with Wild Planet Adventures

Experience Extraordinary Zambia Safari Tours with Wild Planet Adventures

by Andrea Verdin

It’s time to plan your summer getaway, so the Wander team has begun to look at ways to get the most out of your vacation. We’ve been looking both at international and domestic travel, small weekend getaways and elaborate international excursions.

If you’re the type who loves diverse travel, looking for a chance to see exotic wildlife and stay in the middle of nature, then see Zambia – Africa’s Hidden Safari Gem – with Wild Planet Adventures.

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The safari season in Zambia is year-round, but the best wildlife viewing is from July through October, so you want to make sure that you plan with this in mind. Because African safari travel is such a popular getaway, it may be hard to choose a travel company to plan a safari with. However, Zambia safari tours are a head and shoulders above all others for several reasons.

Wild Planet Adventures founder Josh Cohen explained that Zambia is one of Africa’s least visited countries, and since his company specializes in intimate encounters with exotic wildlife, this was a perfect option for his guests.

“Guests have the ability to see unusual animals and their behaviors that might not always be seen,” explained Cohen.

The reason Zambia safari tours are markedly different from other African safaris is the lack of tourism and jeep congestion.  With less than 860,000 annual visitors compared to South Africa’s 9.5 million, Zambia ranks among the least visited African countries.

canoe safari

“Unlike East African countries where it’s common to find up to 50 vehicles chasing a lion, Zambia boasts remote sectors where guests are unlikely to see other vehicles,” said Cohen, who explained that his Zambian tours do not require his guests to be in caged busses. “Safari-goers still enjoy 360 degree views from open jeeps instead of being crowded into nine-passenger mini-vans.”

Without numerous vehicles surrounding the same animals, there is no risk that animals will lose their ‘wild’ instincts.

“Wild Planet Adventures goes to great lengths to preserve the authentic safari experience by combining truly isolated and remote locations with master guides who exemplify tracking as an art form, so travelers see authentic ‘wild’ animal behavior while minimizing adaptation,” Cohen said.

lion at shumba camp

In addition, guests can choose to combine tours, so they can experience walking, jeep, and canoe safaris. This allows for a broader experience of animal exposure.

“It’s an adrenaline rush,” said Cohen. “Once we saw a herd of elephants surround their matriarch while she gave birth. On our canoes, we enter watering holes where herds of elephants and hippos just walk across, right in front of us. When these factors come together, you get a superior experience.”

shumba camp

Of course, just because you are in the middle of the safari doesn’t mean that you have to stay in an uncomfortable tent on a lumpy cot.

“Zambia has the same high end camps that other African tour camps have,” said Cohen. “Overall, Africa has high standards for its guests.”
There are a lot of safari travel options for guests to choose from when planning Zambia Safari Tours, with options for every budget.
For detailed tour itineraries on all of Wild Planet Adventures wildlife eco-tours and safaris, call toll-free 1.800.990.4376, visit http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/ or contact trips@wildplanetadventures.com.

 

WPA Zambia from Wild Planet Adventures on Vimeo.

Tower Tours ventures into Napa Valley, Muir Woods and more

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Climb aboard the Tower Tours bus.

Written by and photos by Nadia Ibanez

Living in SF sans car can be slightly nerve-wracking for a person who can’t still on the weekends. While I’ve walked the streets and explored all of the emerging neighborhoods in town, sometimes a girl just needs to get some air outside of the City. Thankfully, I discovered Tower Tours, a travel bus company taking out of towners and Fog City newbies to the area’s best destinations.

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