Archive for February, 2011

Indonesia Visa Requirements to Visit the Jungles of Sumatra

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

This week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most breathtaking and ecologically diverse places on the planet. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most threatened. The Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra consists of three national parks. Gunung Leuser National Park is located on the north side of the island. It houses an orangutan sanctuary and research station, and is home to other endangered species like the Sumatran elephant, Sumatran rhino and Sumatran tiger.

Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park is on the southwestern side of the island. The park’s boundaries include both mountainous and lowland terrain and is blessed with many rivers, lakes and hot springs. Kerinci Seblat National Park is the home of Sumatra’s highest mountain, Mt. Kerinci, and Lake Gunung Tujuh, the highest volcanic lake in Southeast Asia. Here, you’ll also find the mysterious, grotesque corpse flower in its native habitat.

Here’s what UNESCO has to say about this World Heritage Site:

Outstanding scenic landscapes abound at all scales. The mountains of each site present prominent mountainous backdrops to the settled and developed lowlands of Sumatra. The combination of the spectacularly beautiful Lake Gunung Tujuh (the highest lake in southeast Asia), the magnificence of the giant Mount Kerinci volcano, numerous small volcanic, coastal and glacial lakes in natural forested settings, fumaroles belching smoke from forested mountains and numerous waterfalls and cave systems in lush rainforest settings, emphasise the outstanding beauty of the Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra. (more…)

Mauritanian Visa Requirements to See the Eye of the Sahara

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

Can you imagine how surprised the first astronauts to orbit the earth must have been when they saw an enormous blue eye staring back at the from the Sahara Desert?

The “eye” was actually a landform called the Richat Structure, otherwise known as the Eye of the Sahara. With a diameter of approximately 31 miles, it was originally thought to be the landing site of an ancient meteorite. However, scientists have since concluded that it’s actually a natural geological feature called a “symmetrical uplift.” (h/t Environmental Graffiti)

Unfortunately, visiting the Eye of the Sahara is a little complicated. First, you’ll need a Mauritanian visa. Plan ahead: the US Department of State advises that “Mauritanian visas require an invitation or sponsor, can take up to several months to process, and must be obtained prior to travel. Visas are no longer available at border crossings or at the airport upon arrival.”

Once you get into the country, you’ll have to make arrangements to travel safely to the Adrar region near the town of Ouadane, then to get to the formation. The Eye of the Sahara is best viewed from the air — if you’re lucky, you may be able to hire a hot air balloon!

Here’s what you’ll need to apply for a Mauritanian tourist visa:

  • 2 completed Mauritanian visa application forms
  • 2 passport photos,
  • An International Certificate of Vaccination for yellow fever
  • Round trip plane tickets or a copy of your itinerary
  • A copy of a recent bank statement or a reference letter from your bank

RushMyTravelVisa can help you get the documents you need for your trip. We’ll walk you through the paperwork, explaining exactly what you need and answering any questions you may have. Then, we’ll deliver your application to the Mauritanian Embassy for the fastest possible processing.

Applying for a Mauritanian visa? Let us help!

Oman Visa Requirements to Camp Out in the Desert

Friday, February 25th, 2011

It might seem as if the whole Middle East is going up in flames, but at least for the time being, Oman remains calm and welcoming to tourists. One of the country’s main attractions is the “Empty Quarter,” a vast stretch of desert made more hospitable by the camps and resorts sprinkled throughout.

Joshua Hammer of the New York Times recently visited this region of Oman, staying in the 1,000 Nights Camp. Here’s how he described the area:

The Sharqiya Sands, or Ramlat al-Sharqiya, of the Empty Quarter is one of the world’s most desolate and starkly beautiful regions: 4,800 square miles of rippled, undulating dunes that rise as high as 300 feet above the desert floor. It is also one of the not-to-be-missed attractions of Oman, an oil-rich and peaceful sultanate, bordered by Saudi Arabia to the west, Yemen to the south and the United Arab Emirates to the north.

The 1,000 Nights Camp tempts tourists with delicious food, luxurious accommodations, and lots of peace and quiet. Oh, and horses. I adored the Black Stallion series as a little girl, and the thought of riding horseback across the sand dunes is like a childhood dream come true.

To get to Oman, you’ll need a valid passport and an Oman visa. US citizens can get a 30-day, single-entry visa at the border, but you can also apply ahead of time for a multiple-entry tourist visa. (more…)

Brazilian Visa Requirements to Visit Marajó Island

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler column is a great place to get inspiration for international vacations that won’t break the bank. Recently, the Frugal Traveler visited Brazil, recommending Marajó Island. It definitely sounds like an awesome trip-read the description and see if you don’t find yourself wanting to book a ticket:

“While the morning away on the smooth sands of a virtually empty, mangrove-studded beach. Wander all afternoon through gorgeous wetlands, spying on sloths, scarlet ibises and capybaras (the world’s largest rodent). Dine in the evening on tender filet mignon of locally raised water buffalo covered in water buffalo mozzarella and wash it down with pitchers of icy mangaba juice.”

Sounds awesome, right? But you can’t just book a ticket, unfortunately. This is Brazil, and before you can enter the country you’ll need a Brazilian visa. You must submit your application in time to have your visa issued before you travel, as you won’t be allowed on the plane without it.

Here’s a rundown of what you’ll need to get a Brazilian visa if you’re traveling as a tourist:

  • Your passport. Note: your passport’s expiration date must be at least 6 months into the future for you to get a Brazil visa. You’ll also need 2 or more blank pages in the back. Before applying for your visa, get a passport renewal or add pages as necessary.
  • One visa application form
  • 2 passport-sized photos
  • A copy of your itinerary, which must have the dates you plan to enter and leave Brazil.
  • A clean, readable copy of your driver’s license or state-issued ID card.
  • If you will be visiting friends or relatives, you also need a letter from your hosts. (more…)

Zimbabwe Visa Requirements to See the Rock Art of Matobo Hills

Monday, February 21st, 2011

If you visit this week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll see some of the most incredible rock art in all of Africa. The Matobo Hills of Zimbabwe have been inhabited for many thousands of years, since well before the dawn of agriculture. The area’s distinctive boulders and caves form natural shelters that humans have long taken advantage of. The name Matobo means “Bald Heads” in the language of the Ndebele people.

According to the World Heritage website, “The Matobo Hills has one of the highest concentrations of rock art in Southern Africa. The rich evidence from archaeology and from the rock paintings at Matobo provide a very full picture of the lives of foraging societies in the Stone Age and the way agricultural societies came to replace them.”

There are several camps for tourists in and around the national park. In addition to the prehistoric rock art, the Matobo Hills are also a great place to view endangered African wildlife such as rhinoceros, giraffes, zebras, wildebeest and ostrich.

To enter Zimbabwe, US citizens will need a valid passport and a Zimbabwe visa. You’ll also need to be able to show a return ticket and prove that you have enough money in the bank to support yourself. You can get your visa at the border or in the airport, or you can apply for one in advance from the Embassy of Zimbabwe.

To apply for a Zimbabwe visa, you’ll need the following documents:

  • Your passport
  • 2 completed application forms
  • 2 passport photos

Also, if you will be entering or exiting Zimbabwe via South Africa, you need to have at least 2 completely blank pages in the back of your passport per entry-otherwise South Africa won’t let you in.

RushMyTravelVisa can help you get the visas you need for your next trip to Africa. We’ll research your itinerary, walk you through the paperwork and expedite your visas for the fastest processing available.

Apply for your Zimbabwe visa today!

5 Reasons to Get a Laos Visa

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

After decades of war, Laos is slowly but surely picking up and moving on, and the country is now being discovered by increasing numbers of Western tourists. Here are 5 great reasons to get a Laos visa and go see this beautiful country while it’s still relatively undiscovered:

1. Luang Prabang: Walking into this gorgeous little town is like stepping into the past. Picture-perfect, flower-strewn landscapes combine with charming buildings and serene temples to create an enchanting travel experience.

2. The Plain of Jars: Thousands of ancient stone jars carved from local boulders dot this mysterious landscape. Who made them, and why? Just as with Stonehenge, the answers are lost in time, though the number of human remains and grave goods found in nearby excavations implies that they must have been connected to ancient burial rites.

3. Tubing in Vang Vieng: Floating down the scenic Nam Song River, beer in hand, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Laos. The town of Vang Vieng is quite popular with backpackers, but the surrounding countryside retains the ambiance that the town itself has lost.

4. Four Thousand Islands- During the dry season, the mighty Mekong River recedes just enough to create thousands of tiny islands. This is a great place to watch for the rare Irrawaddy dolphin or just relax on a hammock.

5. Wat Phu- This ancient ruined temple on the base of a cliff was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.

To visit Laos, US citizens are required to have a valid passport and a Laos visa. See Laos Visa Requirements for Tourists for more information on how to get the visa.

If you plan to get your Laos visa before you leave the States, RushMyTravelVisa can help. First, your visa specialist will research your itinerary to ensure that you have all the necessary documents before you leave. Then, we’ll walk you through the paperwork and expedite your application for the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Laos visa today!

Get a Russian Visa to Go Rafting in Siberia

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Siberia’s mighty Kaa-Khem river is one of the few great untouched rivers left on the planet. From its source in the mountains of the Sayan, it descends on its course at an average rate of 17.4 feet per mile. That makes for swift currents and exciting class 3 and 4 whitewater.

If you’re a rafting enthusiast, this could well be the trip of a lifetime, but because the region is so remote, very few outsiders ever experience it. This year might be your best shot – Echo River Trips is celebrating its 40th anniversary by offering a chance to run the Kaa-Khem with Vladimir Gavrilov, one of their most respected river guides.

The 15-day trip includes rafting plus opportunities to hike in the surrounding taiga forests and to try to catch some of the monstrous fish that live in the river. Since the area is so isolated, you’ll start off the journey with a helicopter ride into the wilderness. As Echo says on their blog: “A river trip that begins with an Mi-8 helicopter ride will make you feel more like James Bond than any martini ever could.”

You’ll need a Russian visa for this trip, and getting one can be an adventure in and of itself. This trip is nonrefundable, so be sure to apply as far in advance as possible and to make sure you understand all of the necessary rules and regulations.

Here’s what you’ll need to apply for your visa:

  • Your passport.
  • A completed visa application form
  • 1 passport photo
  • A copy of your airline tickets or a copy of your itinerary showing your flight number and the dates that you’ll be in Russia.
  • A tourist invitation from a Russian travel agency or hotel that can serve as your visa sponsor. If you’re going on an organized tour like this, this will be provided for you by the tour group.

None other than the US State Department calls the Russian visa system “restrictive and complicated.” Do yourself a favor and work with a visa agency like RushMyTravelVisa. You’ll get the assistance of a trained, professional visa specialist to research your itinerary and walk you through the paperwork, step by step. Then, we’ll expedite your application for the fastest possible processing.

Apply for your Russian visa today!

    Get a Kenyan Visa to Visit Lake Turkana

    Saturday, February 12th, 2011

    This week’s featured UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest permanent desert lake in the world. Lake Turkana is located in Kenya along the border with Ethiopia. Sometimes called the Jade Sea, this salt lake surrounds an active volcano on Central Island.

    Lake Turkana is a salt lake, but it’s not nearly as salty as the Dead Sea, and animals like fish, crocodiles and birds thrive there. In addition to the crocs, large numbers of scorpions and poisonous snakes make it a dangerous place for tourists to travel unguided. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t go, only that you this park is best visited as part of an organized tour with a reputable tour group.

    The Lake Turkana World Heritage Site consists of 3 protected national parks: Sibiloi National Park, Central Island National Park and South Island National Park. It was added to UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997. UNESCO says, “The Lake Turkana ecosystem with its diverse bird life and desert environment offers an exceptional laboratory for studies of plant and animal communities.”

    For non-scientists, that translates to excellent wildlife watching. In addition to the crocodiles that live in the lake and the migratory birds that make it a temporary home, herds of zebras, giraffe and antelopes roam the shore, hunted by prides of lion and by cheetahs.

    When visiting this particular World Heritage Site, do be careful! The State Department released a travel warning regarding Kenya in December 2010 – read the full text here so that you know what the hazards are and how to protect yourself.

    Despite the risks, Lake Turkana is a sight worth seeing. If you want to go, you’ll need a passport and a Kenyan visa. (more…)

    Should You Use an Agency to Get Your Vietnamese Visa?

    Friday, February 11th, 2011

    Getting a visa can be a complicated and confusing process. Some countries’ visas are relatively easy to apply for on your own, while others are so complicated that you’re almost guaranteed to be better off if you hire someone to do it for you. What if you’re going to Vietnam as a tourist? Should you use an agency to get your Vietnamese visa?

    Lauren Quinn of MatadorTrips researched applying for a Vietnamese visa on her own. Here’s how she described the process:

    “It’s a strange and confusing process for those of us native to countries of privilege. As an American, I’m used to walking up to a customs window, flashing a tourist-dollar smile, and getting my stamp.”

    Although she considered dropping her passport off herself at the nearest Vietnamese embassy, she eventually decided to get a “Visa Approval Letter,” which allows you to get a visa on arrival. To get this letter, you have to contact a travel agency before you leave for Vietnam. One word of caution should you choose to go this route: Make sure you get in touch with a reputable agency. The US Department of State notes that “U.S. Citizens have reported unscrupulous travel agencies taking advantage of travelers and charging extremely high fees upon landing.”

    A visa approval letter can be a good option if you’d prefer not to let your passport leave your possession. If you’d rather get the visa in advance and avoid any potential unpleasant surprises at the airport, applying through a visa agency can make the process much simpler and less confusing.

    If you’d prefer to just go ahead and get the actual visa in advance, RushMyTravelVisa can help. We’ll walk you through the application process step by step, then expedite your paperwork with the right Vietnamese embassy or consulate for the shortest possible processing time.

    Need a Vietnamese visa? We can help!

    Get an Indian Visa to Visit Mumbai

    Thursday, February 10th, 2011

    Mumbai’s got it going on this month. First of all, the Kala Ghoda Art Festival is happening even as we speak. The festival runs from February 6th to February 13, and features music and dancing, theatrical performances, literature and poetry readings, film screenings, visual arts and street performers. There is also a special program for kids. All of this is free of charge! For an excellent write-up of the festival, check out this piece by Sumiit Lakhutia of MatadorTravel.

    The art festival coincides nicely with Mumbai’s second annual Restaurant Week, which also ends February 13th. The restaurant week is an attempt to promote Mumbai’s small but growing fine dining scene by allowing participants to enjoy prix-fixe menus at some of Mumbai’s more upscale restaurants. Each meal costs 1,000 rupees per person, or approximately $20.

    Mangal Dalal, a food writer who helped start the first Restaurant Week last year, explained to the New York Times that upscale restaurants face special challenges in a city used to cheap food:

    “In Mumbai, people are still very conscious of what they’re paying for a meal. It’s difficult to start a high-end restaurant, which is why we wanted to promote the experience of fine dining and help restaurants attract a more diverse clientele.”

    To visit Mumbai, you’ll need both a valid US passport and an Indian visa. Unless you already have a visa, that basically rules out taking a spur-of-the-moment trip, but don’t worry: Mumbai is always an exciting place to visit.

    To get your Indian visa, you must apply in advance. See Indian Visa Requirements for Tourists for more details.

    Applying through RushMyTravelVisa makes the application process much quicker and easier. If you plan to pass through another country on the way to or from India, we’ll research your itinerary and let you know what the visa requirements are. Then, we’ll walk you through the application process and expedite your paperwork with the appropriate Indian embassy for the fastest processing available.

    Need an Indian visa? Let us help!