What Kind of Habitat Do Leopard Geckos Live In?

The leopard gecko happens to be one of the most famous lizards because it is easy to breed and has an easy-going temperament for its owners. In addition, it does not require a large terrarium and its nightlife makes it an ideal animal for those who work during the day. This reptile is also recommended for novices because of its simple basic needs. Now let us know about the best habitat for leopard gecko.

Cohabitation: 4 rules to respect

What Kind of Habitat Do Leopard Geckos Live In?

  • Never put two adult males in the same terrarium because they would kill each other!
  • Never move a female having previously lived with a male in the terrarium of another male because she would appear to the eyes of the latter as a rival.
  • Nevermore make babies, young geckos and adults live together. The smallest would then be devoured by the oldest!
  • Never put too many geckos in the same terrarium. This would create stress and develop aggressive behaviors. To find out how many geckos a terrarium can accommodate, just perform a simple calculation. Multiply the length of the terrarium by its width and once the result obtained, keep only the first number. Example for a terrarium of 60 cm in length and 50 cm in width: 60 x 50 = 3000 so it will be able to accommodate 3 geckos at the maximum (so ideally 2).

Heating and lighting

What Kind of Habitat Do Leopard Geckos Live In?

As said before, the gecko is an animal that lives at night. Lighting the terrarium (using bulbs or neon lights) is therefore essential. In addition, it must absolutely reproduce the alternation of day and night that it knows in the wild. Warning: if UV is necessary to allow the gecko to synthesize vitamin D and calcium, overexposure to UV can be the cause of cancer and blindness in certain species, in particular the strains of albino specimens.

The duration of the day-night cycle differs from one breeder to another: some provide 14 hours of heating and lighting against 10 of darkness, others prefer a cycle of 12 hours each.

Regarding heating, it is essential to divide your terrarium into two zones of equal size: a hot zone and a cold zone. At night, set the thermostat between 20 and 22 ° C. It is advisable to place at least two thermometers for your terrarium for perfect control. Also, we advise you to have at least one hygrometer thermometer in order to be able to control, in addition to the temperature, the humidity of the premises.

The leopard gecko is an animal whose temperature varies according to that of its environment. Below the appropriate temperature threshold, the activity of your reptile will be abnormal: inability to digest, functioning of the organs in slow motion, lower performance of the immune system. If, conversely, the temperature is above this threshold, your reptile may well be in danger of death.

The heating mat

What Kind of Habitat Do Leopard Geckos Live In?

For heating in the strict sense, you have several options: carpet or cable, ideally to be completed with a heating lamp. The two devices are indeed complementary: the carpet and the cable directly heat the floor while a lamp heats the ambient air.

The heating mat is generally installed under your terrarium. It can possibly be placed inside, but only on condition of avoiding any contact with the animal, using, for example, a perforated plate placed in front of the heat source. The carpet must be placed in a hot zone, on the same side as the heating lamp. The heating cable is also installed indoors in a hot zone, avoiding direct contact with the animal (risk of burns).

Always choose the number of watts of your carpet, cord or lamp carefully: it depends on the size of your terrarium, 25 watts for a small terrarium, 50 to 75 watts for a medium and 100 watts for a large one.

And above all, whatever the heating mode selected, always couple it with a thermostat to prevent the temperature from being too cold or too hot, which would represent a real danger for the animal.

Layout and decoration

What Kind of Habitat Do Leopard Geckos Live In?

Some breeders adapt to a strictly functional environment but the ideal is still to reproduce the natural environment of the reptile by decorating your terrarium.

First of all, we do not recommend the use of sand. Wood chips are the safest substrate because they avoid the sometimes fatal dangers of sand. Also avoid synthetic grass, which is conducive to the proliferation of germs and bacteria.

A reptile shelter is an essential place because the gecko hides there and rests there during the day. You must provide at least two shelters per animal: one in the hot zone and one in the cold zone. To best reproduce its original habitat, it can possibly be filled with foam.

Do not hesitate to decorate his place of life with artificial plants, stones, flat or large, roots, branches placed vertically to allow him to climb. Like shelters, these elements should if possible be slightly inserted into the ground and partially covered with substrate. Fill the spaces without substrate so as not to leave the floor “bare”.

Finally, maintain good terrarium hygiene by changing the water every day and regularly collecting the excrement. Several times a year, clean the terrarium and its accessories and replace the substrate.

Water and food

Do not forget to place a water bowl where your gecko can drink clean water, to be renewed every day. Next to it, place a bowl full of food. Crickets are the food base of the lizard. Note that it is not recommended to feed them with mealworms (morio worms). Feed them if possible using forceps.

Always remember to supplement your diet with calcium powder, essential to prevent diseases related to decalcification. You can serve him this powder in a dish or sprinkle it directly over his meal. This will prevent the gecko from finding the missing calcium by ingesting sand, which can lead to often fatal intestinal obstructions. Finally, keep in mind that the health of your reptile is measured by the size of its tail. A thin tail will therefore be synonymous with an insufficiently nourished or sick gecko.

What Type of Fleece is a Best Choice for Your Guinea Pigs?

What Type of Fleece is a Best Choice for Your Guinea Pigs?

Just like any other house pet, you may not wish your guinea pig to be wandering around the home at night. A hutch or cage is the most suitable place to keep your lovable guinea pig comfortable. Some of the pet owners discover that their guinea pig likes lying in their enclosure. It’s their shelter for everyday actions such as eating, resting, or the particular jog throughout the cage.

Bigger is better while choosing the cage:

What Type of Fleece is a Best Choice for Your Guinea Pigs?

What is the best guinea pig bedding you think to provide your tiny cavy? That’s a pretty good question!

If you’re buying the guinea pig for the first time, a general mistake that several first-timers do is the dimension (i.e.), size of the cage.

The bedding of your guinea pig should be a one-time investment that will suit them conveniently throughout their ages as a grown-up. Most hutches seen at retail pet shops do not suggest the exact sized bed for your pig. While the enclosure may look fit for when they’re a baby, all sized guinea pig will require enough space for running around in the grass.

As most pet keepers do not allow their pet pigs out for extended periods, a bigger cage enables them to move their limbs around more, so allowing for a stronger and more peaceful piggie. The more action your guinea pig makes, the less possible they are to receive serious difficulties with their well-being later in life.

Larger areas are also helpful to you as the pet owner too! A bigger cage is more comfortable to clean. The larger area limits the accumulation of waste and allows your guinea pig to divide their bath space from their resting area.

Bed buying criteria for the pet owners:

What Type of Fleece is a Best Choice for Your Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pig bed should be wide enough to hold:

  • A food dish
  • Hay manger
  • Water bottle
  • Hiding home/additional accessories
  • Space for resting and utilizing the bathroom

Their beds should likewise be a cable with a rock-solid base. Any cable on the ground can probably injure their little toes and give it difficult for lying or stepping on.

Fishbowls or glass bowls, although they may look more comfortable to wash and clean out, are dangerous to guinea pigs. Their solid glass surfaces do not let for appropriate airflow to flow in and out of the cage. The inadequate ventilation isn’t healthy for either yourself or your guinea pig.

Fleece- the best guinea pig bedding:

What Type of Fleece is a Best Choice for Your Guinea Pigs?

Fleece is the best guinea pig bedding to use. Using Fleece you can conserve on cost in the great run because it can be washed again and again and it is reusable. You can modify the levels, size, etc. It’s likewise easy acceptable to adjust if you desire to make it larger or add levels under the road. The total price is much more affordable than what you’ll give for a store-bought bed, and you’ll be capable to provide your piggies many more rooms!

Store-bought beds are small even the biggest size accessible at a pet shop is most frequently never sufficient for one guinea pig to live conveniently. Males can likewise become regional, so to withdraw or reduce fights between two piggies you need to provide them with more places, so they are unengaged to roam and relish themselves. Females profit from this additionally!

The best guinea pig bedding is cheap, doesn’t create respiratory difficulties like theme bedding and you can still get fun shades and modify your cage though you like. A rubber-coated bed, two rags, and a separate layer of fur are all you require.

Spacing and the right place to set the bed:

What Type of Fleece is a Best Choice for Your Guinea Pigs?

If space is a crucial factor in choosing your bed, beds with various levels are an excellent chance to own that is less expanded out. Multiple layers also give great possibilities for your cavies to do exercise for their healthy life.

Temperature and position are essential for any tinier pet and it is incapable to move as easily as they wish. The perfect temperature for a guinea pig is approximately 65-75 degrees F. Their home should be placed far beyond from any air vents, heaters, shutters with direct sunshine, or chimneys.

If you are decided to utilize fleece, then make a part of the bed a dedicated kitchen field where you place their feed, grass, and water. Notwithstanding what the beautiful images online might show you, fleece as the best guinea pig bedding becomes very popular for your lovable pets.

DIY Coffee Mugs for Mother’s Day Gifts

Mother’s Day is almost here and you need a gift again. Maybe you should get coffee mugs for mom. Its hard to say. You might find yourself getting stressed out once again, but this is not the time for that. Mother’s Day is the opportunity get something to make your mom happy. Try to focus on this thought and everything will be fine. Most moms don’t want something expensive anyway. You can get them something simple like a coffee mug or a big I love you letter. Relax and get then a gift that shows you love them. That’s all that really matters.

You probably want to make your own coffee mug this time around. Money might be a issue this year. You got to look back in the couch and do things crazy again. Well, the process to make a coffee mug is not too difficult. All it takes is a little bit of this and some love. Find a up that looks like a coffee mug to start. Then,use materials you can afford to make a coffee mug for your mom. The materials can be things you find int he house or at your local grocery store. Moms are not picky creatures. Just breathe in and follow these little steps to get coffee cup ideas.

Ideas to Make Your Own Coffee Mug

First, find a cup laying around the house or make a cup

Make sure the cup looks like the coffee mugs for mom you usually get. Now, making your own cup requires you to make one from clay, so you should pick a cup you already have. But, if your feeling artistic, then ignore what I just said. Whatever cup you find, make sure it can be decorated easily.

Use sharpie pens or permanent markers to decorate the coffee mug

These materials work best when trying to decorate a home made cup. You can also use paint if you want some. Take the material you chose and write something. I suggest you write something with love or write something you mom likes. The gift is for your mom remember.

Put your finger print on the mug

Its not mandatory, but it lets your mom know its personally made. The fingerprint touch is very old school. Most people don’t do it. But, You mom might appreciate the realness.

Put some decorations on the mug

You can put glass, paper, or other objects that can stick with glue. Your not making a kindergarten sundae. Try to find some things that make the coffee mug look cool and enjoyable. Don’t put something on there that will embarrass your mom.

Pick some stickers to put on the mug

Not interested in gluing things to a cup? You should just put stickers on it. Its a homemade cup and stickers tend to stick if they are not messed with. Your mom won’t mind the simple art. She might even think your being smart for saving time.

Put a family photo on a mug

Putting family photos on things is nothing new. But, you putting a family photo on a cup is something rare. Most people don’t want people on their cups. Put one on your mom’s cup and see what happens. Maybe things will be good.

Make the mugs match two people

The two people can be you and your mom. You two will drink from the same coffee mugs and people will know. They will know you two show a connection that is connected to love or friendship.

Feeling like adding some sparkles to your coffee mug?

This might seem a bit out of place, but you can put glitter on your coffee mug. The mug will feel and look like a child did it. But, the face reaction your mom will give you will tell you if its worth it. Glitter tends to brighten up the day and remind you of the good times. Remember its the thought that makes the best gifts.

Wrap the coffee mug up with colorful tape on the outside

The tape will look like a kid’s toy. The cup will still look cool and interesting. People will come to visit your mom and say “who made that.” That will insist her to mention you. If you want to be remembered for being the most creative, then you should get pieces of different color tape and put it on the outside of the coffee mug.

Turn the coffee cup into a flower pot

Moms like flowers. Your mom is the one who hates coffee. That is understandable. You can get her a cup and turn it into a flower coffee cup. It will save you money and make her happy. Hey, who feels like getting a refund for something that was suppose to be a gift for someone else?

Types of Maternity Underwear For Pregnancy

Your pregnancy will cause a lot of stretching here and there that you will definitely need a new set of wardrobe to fit your bulging belly in and still feel comfortable in that. You might have been so busy with all the other changes that you need to deal with since you learned that you are growing a baby inside of you that you may not have given much thought about your underwear.

It is quite understandable as you might still be attached to whatever underwear that you are wearing at the time you read about this. It won’t be long that you will realize that your undies are not going to provide you the support that you need once your baby bump starts to really grow. It’s a smart way to have the best underwear for pregnancy in your wardrobe, so you will have something to wear comfortably that will lessen whatever uneasiness that your condition might bring.

The best maternity underwear for pregnancy can be a loyal friend that you can depend during pregnancy and postpartum.

You might be thinking, do you really need to have a maternity underwear.

Of course, you will need a maternity underwear. With all the stretching that your growing bump will create, whatever you may be wearing during pre-pregnancy may not give you the comfort that your body desperately needs throughout the rest of your pregnancy and even during postpartum.

Though you may feel temporary relief from any discomfort when you take a shower, nothing beats wearing an underwear that provides optimum support, especially around your belly.

How does a maternity underwear differ from an ordinary underwear?

In an effort to ease the discomfort that pregnant women may have during pregnancy, many maternity clothing manufacturers have continuously developed maternity wear with interesting design and make. This includes providing pregnant women with more comfortable pieces of maternity underwear that comes in many shapes, sizes, designs and are made for different purposes. It doesn’t matter if you prefer maximum support that granny panties offer or the sensual thong that you’d rather have. There will always be a comfortable, stretchy maternity underwear style that will suit you. Such maternity underwear will help you rock your bump and post-baby body in style and with ease.

Five basic types of maternity underwear are available online and maybe even in your local stores. Under each type, you can find a huge variety of types and styles to consider. Once you fully understand for what purpose each type is made, you can confidently pick the best maternity underwear for pregnancy that will provide what you need.

Basic Maternity underwear

These pieces of underwear are made of breathable cotton and other stretchy, soft materials. There is nothing fancy about these undies but they provide the right comfort that you are expecting from a go-to maternity underwear. One of these will just be perfect for any regular activity that you to accomplish in a day.

For basic maternity underwear, you have several options to choose from: the over belly maternity, lower-rise maternity underwear, maternity thermal underwear, as well as the plus size maternity underwear.

An over-the-belly underwear is made to cover your entire bump with the underwear. In essence, it provides some form of support for your expanding belly. For those who may experience itching on the lower part of the belly may feel uncomfortable with the elastic part of the underwear cutting into the belly. The over belly underwear will just be a perfect choice.

In case you would rather wear an underwear that does not touch your belly, then opt for the lower-rise maternity underwear. This underwear is usually cut in a v-shape, so it won’t touch your belly. They are also designed to be fold-overs, so you can adjust them to the size of your bump. They can also be cut as shorts and boy shorts for fuller coverage in the thighs and the buttocks.

If the cold weather is something that gives you the worries, you may want to buy a maternity thermal underwear, instead. There are several brands offering this type of underwear. You may just have to do the necessary research to find the ones that will provide you the support and comfort that you want.

For bigger-sized pregnant women, a plus size maternity underwear is also available. Brands like Thyme, Motherhood, Cezara, are just a few of the brands that offer maternity underwear that can carry up to 4x so that you can feel great even with a such as you have.

Sexy maternity underwear

Your pregnancy should not be a reason for you to have fun in the bedroom. If you’re in for some sultry moments with your husband, just feel alluring with a pair of sexy maternity underwear. Look for one that’s made of lace and with brightly colored shades.

Maternity pregnancy underwear

This maternity underwear provides more support to your entire belly a well as your back. It is made to be a little tight. This makes it possible for this underwear to hold the belly better by distributing the weight in it. Many have tried it and loved it. I’m pretty sure you will if you want one like it.

Maternity underwear for hospital wear

The hospital is a not-so-pleasing place to be and you wouldn’t want your favorite underwear in there. That’s why you can put on one of these disposable maternity underwears. This mesh underwear is usually provided free by hospitals.

You can use it even after you have given birth as it can hold the pad that you will also most likely need after giving birth.

Maternity underwear afterbirth

After giving birth you will feel and look flabby. It will take some time for your skin to regain its firmness and natural tone. Wearing maternity slimming underwear is one of the things that you need to do to allow your skin to regain its former shape. They won’t just provide adequate support, but you will also look great in them.

With the best maternity underwear, you can face pregnancy with lesser concerns. This gives more assurance that you and your baby will have a happier and healthier pregnancy.

Natural Remedies For Iron Deficiency Anemia During Pregnancy

Your pregnancy may be looking so well for weeks now. You have so sure that you and your baby will continue to enjoy a healthy pregnancy. After all, you have been eating a healthy diet and have taken what you think is the best iron supplement for pregnancy. You also prefer red meat than veggies.

Then the strangest news comes in. You get the diagnosis: pregnancy anemia So, your pregnancy is going along swimmingly well when all of a sudden you get the diagnosis: pregnancy anemia. You were so confused and don’t know what could have happened. You are just all so sure that you have been doing the things that you think will provide the best pregnancy conditions for you and your baby.

There really is no reason to worry. This is a common concern for many other pregnant women, even those who prefer natural for their health. Anemia, along with other health issues like acne, constipation, and heartburn, urinary tract infection, hypertension, infection, and several health conditions are rather common complaints. Fortunately, there are a huge variety of natural solutions that you can use to restore to allow yourself and your baby get the most from your pregnancy as well as provide an adequate amount of this essential mineral to your diet.

What is pregnancy related anemia?

This health condition results when the body does not have sufficient healthy red blood cells. When this happens, oxygen that should be moved from the lungs to the body’s tissues (source) might take a long time to be transferred. Experts indicate that there are about 400 types of anemia. However, the majority of anemia that is reported during pregnancy is caused by low iron. Coming in second is folate deficiency.

Why do pregnant women become anemic during pregnancy?

Amount half of the population of pregnant women have anemia, so there is a great chance that you will also be having this concern. It is possible that even if you have never experienced being anemic before and you do have a healthy diet, you may still experience being anemic at some point in your pregnancy.

One of the main reasons for having this condition during pregnancy is an increased blood volume that happens during pregnancy. Experts explain that while you are pregnant, you may have 25-40% more fluid flowing through your veins. Your body pumps in more blood to the baby to provide the fetus for proper development. As such, your system will need more red blood cells and more nutrients (iron) to make this process possible.

Another reason for having this condition during pregnancy has to do with bodily fluid retention. This can also increase tremendously, resulting in a more diluted red blood cell count. Pregnant women are reported to have a “total body water increase from 6.5L to 8.5L.” If you think and feel that you are already about to suffer from this condition even during the early part of your pregnancy, this might just be the reason for it.

For pregnant women who prefer to eat plant and plant-based foods, there is a greater risk of developing this condition than those who would rather have red meat. This is due to the fact that lots of animal protein have higher iron content. Red meat, liver, as well as seafood, are rich sources of iron. However, there are many pregnant women who have aversions to animal meat during their pregnancy.

You will also be at a higher risk for developing anemia during pregnancy if you are carrying more than one fetus or are having multiples. This can also be true if your last pregnancy was spaced closely to your present pregnancy. Morning sickness can also put you at a greater risk of having this condition.

If you are prone to having heavy periods, then you have a higher tendency to be anemic as well. Other conditions that may cause heavy bleeding such as polyps, ulcers, or even donating blood also consumes much of the red blood cells in your body.

What are the signs of anemia during pregnancy?

You will know that you are anemic if you see these indicators. Although you may have most or all of them, you may still not be certain whether the indicators are indeed symptoms of anemia. As mentioned earlier, other common pregnancy-related conditions may also cause this condition. You will need to consult with your doctor if you are indeed anemic or manifesting other health concerns such as blood pooling in the feet, hormonal changes, or even a lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

  • Dizziness
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dark under-eye circles
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Concentration problems
  • Pale skin, lips, and nails
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Feeling exhausted

Where do you get the right type of iron?

Diet plays a significant role in maintaining an adequate level of iron, folate, and B 12 in the body. These nutrients are all essential in preventing and reversing anemia. However, not everyone knows which food-sources should be consumed to provide the necessary amount of iron in the blood.

There are two different types of this mineral– heme and non-heme. Non-heme type of iron is found in plants and plant-based foods like spinach, lentils, and beans. These food sources are also used to fortify products with iron.

The problem, however, is that non-heme iron is not readily absorbed by the body. To supplement the lack of iron absorption in the body, many pregnant women would turn to iron pills available in local stores. Most of these iron supplements contain ferrous sulfate, a non-heme and difficult and also difficult for the body to digest. Hence, the consumption of this type of iron supplement may cause severe nausea.

Foods like spinach, berries, fruit, nuts, legumes, cereals, and broccoli contain polyphenols, which  inhibit iron absorption. Phytates can also prevent iron absorption. It can be found in grains and beans. Tea contains tannins which can also decrease iron absorption by up to 50%.

Foods rich in calcium are also not a good thing to have to get more iron for the body to use. Calcium is said to decrease iron absorption (heme and nonheme iron) by 50-60%.

So, what are the natural remedies for pregnancy anemia that you need to consider?

Here’s a list of foods that you may want to eat more if you are diagnosed of being anemic.

  • Red meat
  • Liver pills and shots
  • Beef and chicken liver
  • Molasses
  • Terrasoul Camu Camu powder Vitamin C. Vitamin C is noted to increase iron absorption from non-heme plant and plant-based food sources.

Iron Supplementation for Pregnancy

You may also consult your doctor for the best iron supplement for pregnancy. Your primary health provider will be your best bet to provide the right supplement you will need for your pregnancy.


Keeping yourself is your primary responsibility during pregnancy. This will also give the assurance that your baby is kept healthy inside your tummy. If you are seeing signs of anemia even while ensuring that you are following the right diet and lifestyle, consult with your doctor right away. Stay healthy and have a healthy pregnancy.

Making your own shrimp bisque

The shrimp bisque remains one of the favorite traditional French dishes. Its origins are from Charente, in the Western part of France (our favorite source for culinary inspiration, with great reason!), where the abundance of seafood (aka shrimp as well) makes this a wonderfully fresh and tasty dish.

This is a recipe by celebrity chef and Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten (Ina, we all love you here at Destinations Uncovered), but I will tell you my own experience of making the bisque, starting with shopping for shrimp. You would need about a pound for 4 servings and my tip is that you don’t buy the cheapest and, hence, the smallest shrimps: you will have a harder time peeling them. It’s also a good idea to buy shrimp with the head on: you need to make some seafood stock, and what you peel off the shrimp is the best for that. So, once you are home, you can start cleaning your shrimp: take off the head, peel off the hard shell and throw everything peeled into a big pot with boiling water – as said, this will make your stock (great stuff!) Let boil for about 15 minutes, then strain and set aside. You also have to devein the shrimp, meaning that, with a sharp knife, you take out the stringy vein on the back of the shrimp (it’s really not as disgusting as it sounds). Yes the cleaning and deveining bit can take some time, so start this at least a few hours before you’re ready to cook and serve. Set your clean shrimp aside.

The second important part of your bisque is the leeks. Take about 3 leeks and chop them. Cook them in olive oil until they are light brown: you want them tender but not burnt obviously (you have probably read this in all recipes…there is just no better way of saying it). Ina says 10 minutes, which is about right, but use your best judgment rather than time. Add garlic (about 3-4 cloves – you can never have enough garlic in a dish) and season with some cayenne pepper. Then, add the shrimp. Here is the key to cooking the shrimp: you cook them only until they turn pink-anything over that will make your shrimp too chewy, ruin your dinner and end the world (ok, maybe we are exaggerating here). The cognac and sherry go in to complete this great mixture: don’t overdo it, maybe about ¼ cup of each. Now comes the really fancy stuff: everything goes in the food processor and is blended to a puree.

The last part of the making of this soup involves melting ½ stick of butter in a pot (those of you who love Ina know that butter is never to be missed in her dishes), then adding ¼ all-purpose flour and 2 cups of half and half. Stir and then add the pure, the stock (yes, remember the stock?), 1/3 cup of tomato paste and salt and pepper.


Travel Firsts: First time on the Amazon River

The trip in the Amazon jungle was my “trip of a lifetime”. You know what these are: those trips that you plan for years and years and then you start saving money for them for more years and years, until they finally happen. The sheer size of the Amazon River gave it a legendary figure: second longest river in the world, but with the largest waterflow and an average discharge that is greater than all the next seven largest rivers combined. Almost 50 kilometers wide during the rainy season, 1,100 tributaries and I should probably stop here.

A trip to the Amazon River is not one of those trips in which you jump in your car on a whim and drive from Berlin to Paris or from Washington DC to Boston. You need a tour company to guide you and choosing one is not the easiest task. You want to get as much of the experience as possible (agreeably, this is a place where you are less likely go back just whenever you feel like it), but without getting anything else, like animal bites or near death experiences. This is why when selecting the company, I tried to look beyond the marketing part of it and read more in depth as to what the company offers. I stopped at Green Tracks (http://www.greentracks.com) and not only because their sustainable message appealed to me, but also because I looked at their staff and found that the people running the day-to-day trips and tours have backgrounds in anthropology or environmental studies. So, they definitely seemed like the right people for a trip to the Amazon.

The second big choice that I had to make was the type of trip to select from Green Tracks (and trust me, they have a lot). After much consideration, I chose the Amazon Camping Trip, mainly because I liked how it was presented as a trip for “those wanting to experience the rainforest on their own terms and indulging their personal interests”. On my own terms…Cool! Usually I had to fight for having anything on my own terms and here they were offering it right up front. The camping trip is in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, a great place for spotting animals and birds, navigating small rivers and canals and just feeling great about being in the rainforest (let’s call it the jungle, from now on, it just sounds so much cooler).

He reason I am going so fast through this part is because I wanted to tell you more about what this trip actually meant, other than talking about all these things you get to do. Camping in the jungle is probably the best experience ever. First, this is not a honeymoon safari, where being in the wild actually means staying at a luxurious lodge. Camping in the Amazon actually means spending time on the ground, in the jungle, in tents, hearing the sounds of the rainforest, the thrill of the wilderness, the danger of wild animals (yes there are snakes, so be careful). Second, there are no words to describe what this amazing experience really means to a person: you have to try it yourself. If I did it, anybody can (and no, the piranhas don’t go chasing you in the boat!). Have fun and be sure to send us photos!So, it all started in Iquitos, in Peru. We visited the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañon rivers, where the whole Amazonian madness begins as these two rivers merge to produce the Amazon. We stayed at the Pacaya-Samiria Amazon Lodge and then spent 4 nights camping in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. I experienced all the excitement I expected to and desired on this trip: I fished for piranhas, I took the canoe down Yagua Creek (and by the majestic “I”, I mean of course that I was accompanied every second of the way by one of the professional guides), and I met some of the locals in a riverside village.

Marathons in June

It is probably unnecessary to explain why this is part of our adventure section, but one can remember that the first guy who tried the feat, namely the Greek soldier, Pheidippides, perished in the attempt. With all this introductory encouragement, the month of June has some excellent events for those who are passionate about running marathons, with additional fractional options for those of you who are passionate, but don’t have the stamina (or desire) to run the entire course.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon & Half Marathon (June 23rd).
The best thing about this marathon is that it is in Seattle and by Seattle, we mean the entire fun part of downtown. The full course also takes you to Seaward Park, one of the landmarks of Seattle, an amazing forest laid out on a peninsula going into Lake Washington (however, by the time you get here you will have experienced about half the marathon, so those physical cramps might hold you back a bit from enjoying the scenery). The bands and cheerleaders along the way help make this a great experience. On the down side: there have been complaints about Cytomax handouts (too rare) and other offerings that are necessities for the runner during the course (water and bathrooms). At the same time, the number of hills in the city itself is less pleasant when you are letting your lungs out. Overall, a fun course to try at some point!

Stockholm Marathon (June 2).
Right at the beginning of the month, the Stockholm marathon is one of the several organized on the Old Continent. You’ll find tradition, culture and history all on this marathon course. Although only 30 some- years in existence (the inaugural edition was in 1979), the beginning and end to the course is right at the 1912 Olympic Stadium, so it gives a historical sensation to the whole deal. The Stockholm Marathon is also a chance to visit much of the old part of the city, with such sites as the Royal Palace or the City Hall, which is still wonderful, even during this time you are putting in tremendous efforts. The city is relatively mild when it comes to the ups and downs of the course and the Swede’s organizational skills are an extra plus.

Cork City Marathon (June 4).
We like Cork, the second largest city in Ireland, so the Cork City Marathon is one of the choices we make here. The course is also nicely done so that you get in as much of the city views as possible, including a run through the marina and passed Blackrock Castle. The Irish are passionate throughout the course, so you will get plenty of encouragement, which, as you runners out there know, sometimes makes the difference between finishing and not finishing. The weather is not always the best: occasionally hot, you can add to that some strong gushes of

If you want a great place to relax after the Cork City Marathon, book in advance a room at the amazing Liss Ard Estate, in Skibberen. Although it is about 80 kilometers from Cork, this historic house is set in amazing scenery, with ample gardens and a great breakfast, just the right thing for to unwind after the race.


If you are in Peru and someone comes up to you and invites you to go sandboarding with him, don’t look at him like you both had too much to drink last night: sandboarding is not only a cool adventure activity today, but also one that Egyptians and Chinese reportedly used to practice over 1,000 years ago.

In Peru, this is an especially awesome undertaking. For one reason because Peru is home to the largest sand dune in the world, the Cerro Blanco, standing 2070 meters above sea level. Since it is less likely that you will be able to say that you have climbed the highest mountain or traveled the seven seas, at least you have sandboarded the highest dune! Other sandboarding options include the dunes at La Huacachina de Ica or several along the coast of Camana, but trust us: if you are going to do this, go for the very top.

Peru Adventure Tours offers a custom sandboarding tour, complete with transportation in sand buggies and additional options, such as a tour of the dunes. The company is flexible in offering you a customized package, so shoot them an email, let them know what you want out of this experience, and leave it to them to plan something great. The prices are not outrageously expensive either: depending on what you want, the package will likely cost around $70 per person.

The most important part of the equipment is the sandboard, which is a little different from the snowboard you might know, mainly because the surface itself is different in consistency and texture. The base of your sandboard is harder and the laminex material it is made of makes waxing an absolute necessity before going downhill (if you take a tour package, you will be briefed on all this, but you will be an A+ student if you’ve read this article beforehand and come prepared).


  • Go early: the main difference between sand-boarding and snowboarding (other than the obvious sand vs. snow) is the environment: sand=dessert=hot weather. So, if you are not on the dunes by 6.30 or 7 am, it will get too hot for you to do too many descends and it will be a missed opportunity. You will sleep when you are dead, anyway, as the song goes. Another interesting idea is in the late evening, once the sun has gone down: the lights from your sand buggy will create a unique experience on your way down.
  • Go with the tour option or, at least, make sure you choose an option where a sand buggy regularly takes you to the top of the dune for every trip down: you will really appreciate this once you realize how much you would have to otherwise had to walk uphill.
  • You pick up speed really fast: if you are a beginner, remember that falling to your side (on your backside) is always a great way to stop if you start going too fast. And the safest as well!
  • Keep your clothing light: the weather will get very hot and the experience will definitely be more enjoyable if you are dressed adequately for this. That said, when you fall (for most people it won’t be a matter of if, but when) the sand is quite scratchy and uncomfortable, so you might want to avoid shorts. A pair of light cargo pants would be ideal.

Beginner or expert, however you get down the dune you can expect a fast ride down – faster than on snow! If you can’t stand up and board, an easier way is to sit on your bottom on the board, hold on to the sides, and ride it like a sled.WHAT TO EXPECT
Half the fun of sandboarding is getting there. You’ll feel like you’re on a real live roller coaster as dune buggy speeds up and down sand dunes, slipping and sliding at breakneck speeds. Fortunately the drivers are skilled and your likelihood of rolling is minimal, but even if it happens, you’re surrounded by a steel frame, so passengers are unlikely to get hurt.

Sandboarding is a truly unique adventure that you might want to try at least once in your lifetime. The fact that you are going downhill, but outside is hot and you don’t see white all around is only part of it. If you are deterred about going all the way to Peru for this (although, remember, it is the highest sand dune in the world), you can always try other locations, include several in the US (Arizona and California are a couple of good picks, with the likes of Yuma Sand Dunes, Carmel Beach or The Pit in
Sand City).

First Time in North Korea

This is definitely a ”first” for many and, for most, a last as well. It is not that North Korea is not an interesting country, in its own way, or that it is not worth going to, but its remoteness, its lack of contacts with the outside world (there are only a couple of direct flights from the Sunan International Airport that operate on a daily basis, mostly to China and Russia) and the constant feeling of being watched and carefully supervised make it a place I would not want to go back to. So, bottom line, if you are willing to accept restrictions on your freedoms and travel back to Stalinist times, this is definitely an adventure not to be missed. You will be one of only 2,000 annual foreign visitors in the country.

Since we are talking limitations on travel, your flight will likely come in from Beijing. You do need a tourist visa to get into North Korea, but usually this is not a problem (unless you are a journalist, which would kick the ball into a completely different dimension and make this a double-adventure issue) and is usually handled by one of the travel agents that will take care of your trip (no, this is not one of those trips where you buy your flight tickets on Expedia and send an email to your chosen hotel – you’ll need a professional agent). If you have trouble getting a visa (residents of some countries do) then consider signing up for a teaching job teaching English, the employer will take care of the legalities of entry into the country.

The first thing that will shock you in the airport is that your passport is retained “for security issues”. It is never very clear whether it is your security they are worried about or the security of the country itself (you dangerous traveler you) or that of the Kim triad (to which we will refer later in this article).

The most revered Kim is Kim Il Sun, Eternal Leader, which translates into his picture being posted through the city (and country). You will be amazed to see he has not aged a bit, despite being dead since 1994. Kim Il Jung, Dear Leader, joined him recently, to the dismay and sadness of the entire nation. His successor, Kim Jong Un, is yet to be named, although Great Successor seems to be the word of choice. As a good word of advice, restrain yourself from saying anything bad about all these leaders and their policies, no matter how absurd you feel they are (and they are, they really are): you are likely to be under some sort of surveillance throughout your trip. Your tour will cover at least one or two of Kim Il Sun’s statues and you will be asked to lay a wreath of flowers at his mausoleum (you would be wise to comply with this request).Much of the architecture you will see around the capital is a combination of Stalinist architecture (read “monstrous buildings”) and veneration of the three Kims that have led the country since its independence and appearance as a nation in 1948. Some of the interesting architectural points on your tour will be the Juche Tower, the Palace of Culture and the Arch of Triumph (not quite the same as Napoleon’s).

If you do get a chance to go outside of the capital, you will likely be surprised by the wide highways with almost no cars on them, as well as, in general, the strangeness of activities such as cutting the grass by hand or cleaning the pavement by hand. You will become used to the guide telling you about the “greatest” this and the “largest” that – some of these are even true: the largest hotel in the world was started in Pyongyang, but construction was stopped because of a lack of funds. There remains a gruesome silhouette that dominates the city.


  • The work day in North Korea has a three hour rest period in the afternoon. Kind of Mediterranean, isn’t it?
  • Many buildings have no elevators because of uneven intervals between the floors.
  • North Koreans must abide by state mandated rules about their clothing and hairstyles, so everyone looks more or less the same.
  • Kim Jong Il’s biography states that he was born under a double rainbow.
  • Traffic lights have an additional, fourth light (blue), signaling when the car can turn right. This is when they work…


  • North Korea has the fifth largest military in the world, with 20 % of the population aged 17 to 54 in the army
  • Military spending is around 25 % of the North Korean GDP
  • It is believed that North Korea has at least 6 nuclear weapons.
  • 60% of North Korean children suffer from malnutrition, with most of the food going to the military

Before you go (or instead of) watch the Dutch documentary “Welcome to North Korea”, which won an Emmy award for best documentary in 2001 (yes, it will still be relevant today).

This is really an adventure trip, because, wherever you are coming from, it is likely you have only experienced this if you lived in Stalinist Soviet Union in the 1930s or in some of the former Communist states in Europe. It is an experience worth undertaking, if only to understand what happens when there are no checks and balances, when groups of individuals are allowed limitless power and when they decide to run social experiments on the population they are supposed to be serving. On the adventure side, have no fear: stick with the rules, respect what your guide says, don’t speak badly of the Leaders and you will be all right to tell the story.