Discovering Africa

Discovering Africa… Africa boasts a rich history and culture, and of course, the most abundant wildlife that people come from all over the world to admire. Most countries within Africa have numerous game reserves and national parks that offer exciting game viewing including the Big 5, exotic birds, and some of the most unique plant life. For those who are outdoor enthusiasts, Africa is your playground! Even if you are an admitted city slicker, you will find Africa one of the most fascinating places on earth, with many vibrant cities and towns that will appeal to your urban sense of adventure. Vacation Rental Homes | Vacation Rental Caribbean

Hike of the Week: Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, AZ

Climb above Phoenix for an aerie-like view over the valley.

Camelback Mountain

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 2.4 miles (out and back)
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: 2 out of 5


Score the best view of the Valley of the Sun on this leg-burner. From the Echo Canyon trailhead (33.5213, -111.9738), head southeast up Camelback’s flank, zigzagging past boulders, cactuses, and sagebrush to the 2,707-foot summit. (Watch for rattlers.) No one said this was a quiet hike, necessarily, but no one’s complaining about the super-easy access, either. 

In 1.2 miles, gain some 1,700 feet on this StairMaster. The last bit is a straight scramble, but the 360-degree view at the top is worth it. I.D. Squaw Peak to the northwest, Mummy Mountain to the north, and South Mountain to the—you guessed it—south, beyond the Papago Buttes and Salt River. Between it all, it’s heat waves and the glinting windows of buildings and pools of Phoenix proper.

Tag us @backpackermag and #hikeoftheweek on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook if you do this Hike of the Week. Backpacker

Holiday in Europe

Holiday in Europe… The best known Christmas market in the Alps is organized every year in Trento’s Piazza Fiera. 70 wooden huts selling culinary delights, presents, souvenirs and seasonal decorations just fill the square spreading the pleasant Christmas spirit in the whole area. A great place for a stroll as well as for a shopping adventure, Trento Christmas Market makes a great way of spending your afternoon or evening after a dynamic day filled with outdoor activities. Vacation Rental Homes | Vacation Rental Caribbean

Discover Europe

Discover Europe… Transportation and Accommodation Considerations Europe offers a wide range of Hotels, Motels, and Inns. If you are looking for a good deal on quality accommodations, check out travel discount websites. You will find a wide range of various types of accommodations in Europe at great prices. If you want to reduce the amount of planning for your trip, consider an all-inclusive vacation package which can include such travel items as flight, accommodations, car rental, etc, for one lump sum. You can save a lot of money. If you are going to travel to many places in Europe and do not want to rent a car, it is easy to travel by rail. Vacation Rental Homes | Vacation Rental Caribbean

Deal of the Week: Gregory Zulu 65 and Jade 63

Get our favorite all-around backpack of the year for 25% off now.

No matter what you have planned, this adaptable load hauler can handle it. “The Zulu hits the trifecta of breathability, comfort, and organization, and it weighs less than 4 pounds,” our reviewer wrote. “That, combined with the 65-liter capacity, makes it a top pick for anyone looking for a versatile multiday pack.” A comfy padded hipbelt, tensioned mesh backpanel, and huge stuff-it pouch round this model out. 

Buy Zulu 65 Now for $171.73 (25% off)

Buy Jade 63 Now for $171.73 (25% off) Backpacker

How to Clean Mud from Shoes, Big and Small

Don’t stay inside just because the trail is a mess. But you can make cleanup easier with these simple tips.

Learn to clean your shoes—it’s worth the effort.

Ah, the signs of spring. Warmer and longer days, trees leafing out, birds coming back—and mud. Whether it’s snowmelt or rain, trails get sloppy in spring time. And don’t try and go around: It’s better for the environment to walk right down the middle of a muddy trail instead of widening it (some vulnerable trails actually close in spring; learn the local ethic and check with your trail authority before heading out). Bonus: Kids love to get dirty. Cleaning mud from their (and your) shoes is just part of the deal—and it will prolong the life of footwear since mud and grime can degrade seams and upper materials. Here’s how to do it right.

1. Avoid the washing machine. It may be tempting to toss footwear into the washing machine, but don’t do it. The tossing and turning, swishing and swashing, and constant soak can damage and misshape shoes. This is especially true of leather boots. You can remove the laces and toss those in the washing machine.

2. Start cleaning on the trail. At the end of your hike, seek out a creek, puddle, or patch of snow. Dip your muddy shoe (still on your foot) in the water or drag it in the snow, cleaning off mud. The more you get off now, the easier the cleanup at home.

3. Let them dry. Though it’s best to get mud off right away, if mud still lingers after the step above, leave boots outside to dry. The caked-on, hard mud will be much easier to get off when it’s dry. Just bang them sole to sole and the dried mud will come off (in chunks, do this away from others and in a place that can get dirty).

4. Repurpose your toothbrush. To further clean shoes, dip a soft brush (like an old toothbrush) into a solution of water and mild soap, like dishwashing soap. Scrub extra muddy/dirty parts of the shoe.

5. Avoid the dryer. The dryer wreaks more havoc on shoes than the washing machine. The heat of a dryer breaks down glues used to adhere shoe parts and can add to overall deterioration of your shoes.

6. Avoid the sun. The sun works like a dryer, and its intense, direct heat will also melt glues. You can put shoes outside in the shade and make use of a warm day and fresh air to help speed up the drying process.

7. Use newspaper. To expedite drying time, remove liners and stuff newspapers inside shoes. The permeable surface of newspaper will help draw moisture away from the shoe.

8. Treat them right. To extend the life of your waterproof shoes and leather footwear, use product. To re-waterproof shoes and boots, try Nikwax’s Footwear DuoPack Fabric & Leather.To treat leather and keep it from drying out, try Nikwax Conditioner for Leather

9. Get back out there and get muddy again! Want to become an expert at maintaining and repairing all types of gear? Take our course and make your gear last forever, or as close as possible. Backpacker

Barcelona in Spain

Barcelona in Spain… Because less people are travelling to and within Europe, travel companies are offering much more competitive deals to tempt visitors to use their services. This means you can stay in luxury hotels and get first class travel for the amount of money you might normally spend on a budget holiday, especially in the more severely affected countries. With less tourists around, you also won’t have to fight against so many backpack-laden, camera-wielding foreigners to get a glimpse of the Acropolis or the Sistine Chapel! According to research by The Huffington Post earlier this year tourist attractions in Greece, one of the countries which has been hit worst by economic problems, are still open and busy, but not as crowded as usual. Vacation Rental Homes | Vacation Rental Caribbean

Cottage in Europe

Cottage in Europe… Why now is a great time to visit Europe If you’ve always wanted to visit Europe but worried about the expense, now is a great time to make that trip. Due to the economic downturn in Europe, especially in countries such as Greece, Spain, Spain, Italy and Ireland, the exchange rate is in Americans’ favour and you can experience all the tourist attractions and local traditions for a very reasonable price. Vacation Rental Homes | Vacation Rental Caribbean