- Written by Dan
Inspire Your Adventure Travel
HI's Favourite Fives
A Roundup of Our Favourite Places and Activities to Inspire Your 2014 Travel Adventures
Get Close to Wildlife
Shuswap Lake, B.C., Canada – Salmon Spawn
Every year the Adams River in interior B.C. becomes the scene of a natural miracle as salmon return to the area to spawn. During dominant years, 2014 being the next, it is an amazing sight as the quiet river turns from clear and silver to red, as up to three and a half million sockeye salmon return to spawn. During October, salmon will start swimming upstream, travelling back to their fresh water birthplace to lay eggs. For every 4,000 eggs the salmon lay, only two adults will return to lay eggs in the spring. After laying their eggs, the sockeye salmon will die, becoming food for their natural predators like eagles, osprey, bears and coyotes. In the spring the eggs hatch and the fish will spend its first year in the fresh waters of Shuswap Lake. The small salmon will then migrate down the Thompson and Fraser Rivers to the Pacific Ocean and start the cycle again.
Natural Reserve Park in Hornstrandir, Iceland – Puffins
Home to one of the world's largest colonies of puffins, Iceland is a great place to see these beautiful birds. Over half of the world's Atlantic puffin breeds in Iceland, with an estimated three to four million pairs each year. One of the largest bird cliffs is in the Natural Reserve Park in Hornstrandir in northwest Iceland. Combining hiking and bird watching, Hornstrandir is ideal for those wishing to catch a glimpse of these birds in action. Puffins typically mate for life, but if the pair doesn't produce an offspring for several years, the birds will “divorce” and find a new mate.
Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, Prince Rupert, B.C., Canada – Grizzly Bears
The first protected area in Canada specifically for grizzly bears and their habitat, the Khutzeymateen Provincial Park (a.k.a. Khutzeymateen/K'tsim-a-deen Grizzly Sanctuary), is a diverse land and marine sanctuary. Its rugged peaks tower about 2,100 metres above a valley of wetlands, old growth temperate rainforests and a large estuary. Tours are only allowed with a permitted guide, but well worth your time.
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe – Elephants
Zimbabwe’s largest park, the Hwange National Park is the perfect place to see The Big Five! Named after a local Nhanzwa chief, the park area is around 14,650 square kilometres and just an hour south from Africa’s mighty Victoria Falls. Boasting over 100 species of mammals and almost 400 species of birds recorded, Hwange National Park is a great choice for those looking to
Ningaloo Marine Park, Australia – Whale Sharks
Between April and June, you can swim with the gentle whale sharks at Ningaloo Marine Park, Western Australia. The world's largest species of fish, the whale shark is a filter feeder, meaning it gulps large quantities of water before filtering out the plankton through mesh-like rakers in its gills. Growing up to 18 metres long, this docile creature is still an enigma to us. Little is known about its life and behaviour, so conservation groups like Ecocean keep an online database where researchers can submit photos and information about whale shark sightings. Other incredible animal sightings in Ningaloo are humpback whales between June and November, as well as rare turtle species hatching in January and February.
Hostels for a Flashpacker
HI-Whistler, B.C., Canada
From skiing, boarding, mountain biking and bungee jumping to ziplining, whitewater rafting, snowmobiling and ATVing, Whistler is the perfect place for anyone who loves outdoor activities. Opened in July 2010, HI-Whistler is a purpose- built hostel and originally used as a part of the Whistler Athletes’ Village during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. There is more to HI-Whistler than just a place to sleep. You can grab a coffee, snack, meal and beer or wine at Cheaky’s Café in the hostel lobby, or lounge on the outdoor decks with mountain views in sight.
Boasting that it’s the “most modern castle in Europe,” HI- Nuremberg is set in part of an impressive castle that has undergone extensive renovations. Reopened in March 2013, the hostel perfectly combines contemporary design with the historic accents of the castle, the modern rooms are all en- suite, there are common areas and meeting spaces, and the hostel has a chic bistro. Located in the historic city centre, it’s near to museums, beer gardens and World War II landmarks.
Sydney Harbour YHA, Australia
One of the eight HI hostels in Sydney area, Sydney Harbour YHA was built above archaeological remnants of colonial Sydney, in the heart of the city’s historic Rocks precinct. With incredible views across Sydney Harbour, the hostel has a large self-catering kitchen, spacious communal areas, an on- site grocery store, a coffee bar and a huge rooftop terrace. All rooms are ensuite and have air-conditioning. Centrally located, Sydney Harbour YHA is within walking distance to the iconic Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the best museums, as well as the Botanic Gardens, Darling Harbour and the Sydney Observatory.
Located in the Chinatown/Theatre District area, the brand new HI-Boston is near some of the best entertainment the city has to offer. You can walk to the Boston Common and the famous Freedom Trail. Make sure to visit the Quincy Market, full of food stalls and free entertainment. Guests can enjoy daily programs, lectures, films and workshops right in the hostel, as well as board games, a pool table and Wii games in their Activity Room. The hostel also offers free Wi-Fi, a 50” HDTV and hair dryers in all bathrooms.
Hostel Hanoi – Topaz Hotel, Vietnam
Located in the heart of downtown Hanoi, HI’s Topaz Hotel offers guests a boutique hotel experience. You'll find no dorm rooms here, all rooms and suites are private with ensuites and have amenities such as air conditioning, Wi-Fi, flat screen TV's, tea and coffee makers, and even a mini-bar. Hostel Hanoi even has a spa! This place is fit for any flashpacker.
Combining German, French and North Italian cuisine, Swiss food is rich and tasty. One of the nation’s favourite dishes is cheese fondue, usually served with bread cubes in a traditional ceramic pot called a “caquelon” or a “raclette.” The cheese
is melted and served with potatoes, cocktail gherkins, onions and other pickled fruit. If you’re a fan of potato pancakes, give a rosti a try. It’s a patty made with raw potatoes and fried in butter or fat. What holds the rosti’s shape is nothing except the starch in the potatoes.
Italy’s mouth-watering cuisine is renowned all over the world. The birthplace of pizza, gelato and spaghetti, Italy should be on any foodies’ places-to-visit list. Other notable Italian foods include tiramisu—a dessert made with biscuits soaked in coffee and layered with whipped mascarpone cheese and egg yolks. Mortadella, a large, heat-cured sausage is another favourite, made of finely ground pork with small cubes of pork fat. Another popular Italian dish is risotto, originally from the Piedmont region of northern Italy; typically, risotto is made with short? grain rice and a broth for a really creamy finish.
Singapore cooks up some of the best Southeast Asian dishes in the world. These include staples like chicken rice—steamed or boiled chicken atop fragrant oily rice and sliced cucumber, and fish head curry, where the best and most tender part of fish is in the cheeks. Other local fare include the spicy mee goreng, a dish with yellow egg noodles fried with tomatoes, egg, green chilies, mutton mince, cabbage and diced potatoes. Have a sweet tooth? Make sure to try the cendol, a shaved ice drink with green jelly noodles coconut milk, gula Melaka (palm sugar) and sometimes kidney beans, grass jelly cubes, creamed corn and even durian paste.
Folks tend to forget about Spain’s culinary prowess in favour of other European countries like Italy and France. But for serious foodies, Spain is a must-see (or rather eat). Paella is a typical rice meal in the port city of Valencia and a Spanish staple. Its main ingredients are rice, green vegetables and some meat or seafood. Another famously Spanish dish is gazpacho, a refreshing cold tomato soup, usually blended with green peppers, garlic, cucumbers, onions, vinegar, tarragon, sugar and water. Often, it’s served with croutons, cucumber and avocado.
Much of Argentina’s cuisine draws from meals of the gaucho tradition. Some well-known Argentinian staples include empanadas and savoury pastries with a variety of meat and vegetable fillings. Cardonada is also popular and is a stew full of potatoes, meat, pumpkins and corn, often baked inside the pumpkin itself. You must also try milanesa, a piece of breaded meat, often eaten as a main course or as a snack in sandwiches. For dessert, try anything with dulce de leche, a popular caramel- like paste used in cakes and pancakes and made by simmering milk and vanilla-flavoured sugar together, yum!
HI- Penticton in British Columbia, Canada, is employing a variety of green methods to reduce their consumption. Using the sun’s energy, the hostel has a solar water heater, using about 40 percent less fuel to provide hot water for their guests. The low flow shower heads at HI-Penticton will get you clean with 50 percent less water because for every five-minute shower, approximately 18,000 litres of water is saved annually. Finally, the hostel has gone old school to stay cool in the summer. Its exterior blinds are drawn when the sun is hottest to keep the heat outside, reducing the reliance on the air conditioner.
HI-Reykjavík City, Iceland
In the heart of Laugardalur Park and next to the national sport stadiums and Iceland’s biggest pool and spa, HI-Reykjavík City is a Swan Eco labelled hostel and has been awarded the HI Quality Certificate. A 30-minute walk from the city centre along the scenic Reykjavík coastline, this hostel is committed to being friendly to nature and its surroundings. Other facilities include free WiFi in bedrooms and lounges, three fully- equipped kitchens, a dining area and a coffee bar.
HI-Riviere-du-Loup in Quebec, Canada, is almost as green as it gets! is almost as green as it gets! Committed to reducing their energy consumption and doing their part for the environment, the list of actions they’ve taken over the last years is long. Better insulation, improved piping, reduced use of water shower, a compost station, a hostel garden for self-catered meals, rainwater recycling and a sustainable purchasing policy are just a few examples of the practices that have been introduced. Above it all, they’ve managed to accomplish all of this by using creative and accessible solutions focused on reducing consumption, without having to install complex technologies.
The Backpack Cape Town Hostel, South Africa
The Backpack Cape Town Hostel has the privilege of being Fair Trade accredited in tourism. This means that it adheres to fair trade criteria, fair wages and working conditions, fair operations, purchasing and distribution of benefits, ethical business practices and respect for human rights, culture and the environment. The hostel has won many awards, including the 2011 Imvelo Award for best Single Resource Management Program in Waste Management. This chic hostel offers a swimming pool, stunning views of Table Mountain and close
proximity to the gorgeous Clifton and Camps Bay Beaches.
Hostel Curitiba – Curitiba Eco, Brazil
Home to the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity, Curitiba is notable for doing its part in protecting Brazil's ecosystem. Surrounded by native trees and a stream, the hostel is located within seven square kilometres of unspoilt natural beauty. All rooms have beautiful views of the hostel amid the forest. Hostel Curitiba also has a living room, a TV room, a swimming pool and laundry facilities for guests.
Hostels for the Whole Family
Hostel Stayokay Domburg, Netherlands
Housed in the 13th-century Castle Westhove, Stayokay Domburg is the perfect place for families to sleep like kings and queens. The hostel has been fully renovated, yet has retained its nostalgic atmosphere and has turrets and a moat! There is a great beach nearby for frolicking in the sand or water, as well as a forest if you feel like a walk through the trees. In the summer, you can gather on the terrace and experience the amazing view of the dunes.
INOUT Hostel, Barcelona, Spain
In the heart of Collserola Park, the INOUT hostel in Barcelona is surrounded by five hectares of gardens and forests, but near an underground station, so you can be in the city centre in no time. With lots of terrace space and a great outdoor swimming pool, this hostel is great for families of any size and age. Other facilities include living rooms, a games room and WiFi.
Glendaloch Youth Hostel, Co Wicklow, Ireland
In one of the most picturesque places of Glendalough National Park, this hostel is perfect for a family who wants to do some fishing, rock climbing and even pony trekking. Private ensuite family rooms are available, as well as a self-catering kitchen and free parking. Once the home to a sixth-century monastic settlement of saints and scholars, this hostel is located in an area full of history.
HI-Lake Louise Alpine Centre, Alberta, Canada
Lake Louise is the perfect four season destination to share with your friends and family. Hiking, sightseeing, skiing and snowshoeing are just a few of the activities that are popular in the area. At the HI-Lake Louise Alpine Centre, families benefit from a selection of private, family and group rooms at an affordable price. The self-service kitchens, large common areas, and children’s area allow families the most cost-effective way to enjoy the entire Lake Louise experience.
HI-Pescardero Pigeon Point Lighthouse
Fifty miles south of San Francisco, perched on a cliff on the central California coast, the 115-foot Pigeon Point Lighthouse has guided mariners since 1872. This hostel offers families comfortable lodgings in four houses set just beside the lighthouse. Each house has a cozy lounge, fully equipped kitchen and bedrooms and just on your doorstep are cove beaches, tide pools, and an oceanfront boardwalk.