The Invisible Bike Helmet

 

We were recently made aware of a rather snazzy innovation developed in Sweden’s urban biking scene by our pal Lyndsey on our Facebook page.

It’s definitely worth a share – and despite the incredible title, it’s not an early April Fools story.

 

Hövding
Helmets are a faff. A life-saving faff – but a faff nonetheless. They’re generally quite uncomfortable, bulky to lug around and annihilate all carefully crafted hairstyles.

Enter the Hövding – a bicycle helmet unlike anything else we’ve seen out there as it’s not really a helmet at all, it’s a collar with an airbag that is triggered when you fall off your bike.

It’s one of those why-hasn’t-this-been-done-before inventions.

 

Cycling safety collar

 

To buy one will set you back €399 with trendy shells available from €59.

 

The company founders say the ‘Hövding is a practical accessory that’s easy to carry around. It’s subtle in design and it will save your life’.

 

Check out this video for their inspiring story:

 

 

Hats off to them.

 

Mont Blanc climber finds ‘crash’ jewels and gives them back.

A French climber making his merry way up a glacier near Mont Blanc this week had a very rewarding day out as he tripped across a treasure box full of precious metals and jewels that had been lost on the mountain for nearly half of a century.

The riches were discovered in a metallic box marked “Made in India” and are believed to have been part of the wreckage from an Air India crash in 1966.

 

Stephane Dan, crystal hunting guide, and Alexandre Pittin, mountaineer and crystal hunter, look at a part of minerals found on Mont Blanc. (AFP)
Stephane Dan and Alexandre Pittin, mountaineers and crystal hunters, check out minerals found on Mont Blanc. (AFP)

 

What’s more, the climber chose not to keep the fortune, thought to be worth around £200,000, but instead anonymously handed it all in to the police to be finally returned to its rightful owners.

Local police were pleasantly surprised by the climbers integrity saying, “He could have kept them but he chose to turn them in because he knew they belonged to someone who probably perished.” What a guy.

Would you have handed the jewels back in? Tell us in the comments below.

 

 

Suddenly interested in exploring the Mont Blanc region for yourself? Thought so. Send out a ski, mountain bike, cycling or walking holiday request with us and go buy yourself a metal detector.

 

Armchair Explorers: Climb Kilimanjaro In A Few Clicks

If you thought Google had peaked with new oceans and Amazon coverage, think again. The tech giant has just added another mountain of images to their portfolio – quite literally.

Dan Fredinburg, or as his business card enviously reads – The Google Adventurer – recently led a heavily equipped team to document the Seven Summits.

You can now ‘climb’ Aconcagua (South America), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mount Elbrus (Europe) and Everest Base Camp (Asia) with much less effort.

Conditions were apparently too rough to go beyond Base Camp on their expedition but it’s only a matter of time.

Explore their images for yourself here.

Or, if you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, explore ourEverest base camp holidayoptions.

Last minute winter escape? Lionfish hunters needed in Belize!

The winter is just dragging on in the Uk isn’t it? If you are anything like us you are probably thinking, ‘hmm, how good would it be to leg it somewhere hot on a whim right now?’

So you can imagine that the urge got a bit harder to fight when we got an email pop in our inbox from Reef Conservation International in Belize telling us they still had a few space left on their lionfish hunting expedition in early March!

An adventure with a purpose… we have a soft spot for them!

Now, at first glance going spearing fish in a marine reserve in Belize doesn’t sound much like a conservation project, but as Jo explained it to me, it became clearer:

‘The lionfish have spread rapidly throughout the Caribbean. They have few natural predators in the Caribbean and studies show that Caribbean predators avoid lionfish.Lionfish are voracious predators and can consumehuge percentages of juvenile fish recruits. In thirty minutes onelionfish was observed eating more than twenty fish! And they breed rapidly; they release around 20,000 eggs every 4 days! Scientists are predicting that lionfish will have a grave impact on Belizesalready stressed stocks of fish and lobster and could spell potential disaster to our marine habitats.’

So whats the details?

Simple really. Down tools, book a flight and head out to Belize for the first two weeks in March. Scuba dive, spear fish, enjoy some great company in a stunning location, and go whale shark watching too! Then come back to find those winter blues have all but vanished!

Enquire now to find out more

You might also want to check out some of other awesome volunteer and conservation based holidays.

Everest clean up trek commemorates 60th anniversary of Hillary/Tenzing feat.

May 29th 1953 was a special day for Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay as they made history by stepping onto the worlds highest peak, Mt. Everest, for the first time.

To honour their accomplishments, Ace the Himalaya announces an 18-day Everest 60th Anniversary trek targeting arrival at Everest Base Camp on May 29th. Here they will have a two-night stay, while a service project to clean up the area will be accomplished along with enjoying an anniversary dinner celebration with Everest climbers. On the very auspicious day Ace has also planned for a special surprise gift to those who were born on the same day (more info here).

The trip begins and ends in Kathmandu along the following route: Kathmandu-Lukla-Namche Bazaar-Tengboche-Lobuche-Gorak Shep-Everest Base Camp-Kalapatthar-Lukla-Kathmandu.

Guests experience high-altitude trekking four to six hours daily. Ace say 100 percent of the money from this project stays in Nepal through the locally owned company leading the tour.

Hired porters and yaks will bring the garbage down to Namche bazaar where it will then be handed over to a Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC).

Prem K. Khatry, managing director of the company, explained that the base camp has become much polluted because of the thousands of annual visitors.

The ultimate joys of our Everest base camp trek are the breathtaking mountain panoramas, so its our duty to conserve its beauty and help keep it pollution free. If you like to trek and be a part of this important mission, this will be one of the most inspiring ways to get involved, he said.

The per person rate of $1,450 includes airport/hotel transfers, twin shared accommodation (in Kathmandu) for four nights with breakfast, guided city tour, sightseeing/monument entrance fees, lodge/guesthouse accommodation during the trek, all needed camping equipment, tented camp at Everest base camp for two nights with full board meals and hot drinks, local Ace the Himalaya licensed English speaking guide, local staff and porters for carrying luggage, all the required equipments (bags, baskets, gloves) to collect the garbage, yaks to carry the collected refuse from Base Camp down to Namche, food, accommodation, salary, insurance, equipment and medicine for all staff, down jacket and sleeping bag for use during trek, airfare from Kathmandu Lukla – Kathmandu including airport departure tax in Kathmandu and Lukla airport, surface transfer from and to Kathmandu, special 60th anniversary Celebration dinner, farewell dinner with culture show in typical Nepali restaurant, all government taxes, VAT, tourist service charges, and official expenses.

Ace the Himalaya works closely with and is one of the main supporters of Sambhav Nepal Foundation, a non-political and non-profit social organization. Ace the Himalaya contributions support the remote village of Arupokhari (Gorkha, Nepal) through donations, sponsorships and partnerships in a wide range of projects.

For more information, to see their other treks including Everest and Annapurna, and make reservations enquire direct to Ace from this page.

You can also check out more treks in Nepal, Everest treks and Annapurna treks from local and independent operators.

Calling budding volunteers over 50!

We heard the other day that well known over 50’s travel company Saga are calling on Britain’s 21 million over 50’s to put their skills to work and get involved in volunteer holidays.

While we can’t yet vouch for the projects themselves, we think there are many possible benefits to this approach – not least that the over 50’s bring a wealth of experience to each project, far beyond anything a spotty 18 year old on a gap year could hope to bring! They do also claim the focus of these projects in on skills transfer and empowerment of locals, not dependance and job replacement, which is a very important distinction.

In an age of profiteering from willing volunteers, it is also reassuring to note that the volunteer programs are a non profit arm, with all profits going to the Saga Charitable Trust.

Saga volunteers can choose from 9 projects across 5 countries in the developing world – Sri Lanka, Nepal, St. Lucia, South Africa and Zambia. As you would expect from Saga, all volunteers can stay in comfortable hotels, and packages include flights, transfers, accommodation, meals and local support.

You can find out more on the Saga website here.

Meanwhile, we also have a range of volunteering holidays for people of all ages, brought to you by local and ‘muchbetter’ vetted companies. Over 50’s welcome, as are skilled individuals of lesser years!

Wheelie Cyprus launch new self-guided cycling holidays in Cyprus

Our membersWheelie Cyprushave addedself-guided holidays to their programme of guided trips and day tours to offer a more leisurely cycling holiday option with a mix of off-road and road riding to suit all abilities. So no need to worry about keeping up with a group!

They are introducing an innovative approach to self-guided cycling holidays in Cyprus by using GPS for easy route finding, together with easy to follow route guides detailing special points of interest.

The unspoilt north west of Cyprus in the Polis region offers a myriad of quiet back-roads and off-road trails where visitors can discover hidden gorges, deserted villages, traditional coffee shops and tiny artisan museums.

But how to find them without a guide?

This new self-guided cycling trip makes it easy. Simply follow the routes using the GPS unit supplied with your hire bike and take in the scenery, rather than burying your head in a map. Any problems, just call the emergency number provided.

Perfect for couples or small groups, the carefully planned routes give daily distance and height gains so everyone can pace themselves, and there is an optional uplift service for anyone who gets tired.

Available from February 2013, the choice of dates is completely flexible, although July and August are best avoided due to the extreme summer heat.

Prices range from GBP 610 to 650 per person and include 7 nights bed and breakfast accommodation in 3 different hotel locations including 2 nights at a luxury spa resort, airport and luggage transfers between hotels, route guides and GPS unit plus emergency support service if required.

Flights, bike hire, optional uplifts, lunches and evening meals are not included.

Contact Helen for more information by clicking ‘Enquire Direct’ here.

New Ski Train to Switzerland

As well as the classic ski train to French resorts including Courchevel, La Plagne, Tignes, Meribel and Les Arcs, this year there will also be a train connecting you straight to famous Swiss ski resorts such as Verbier, Zermatt and Saas Fee.

The new service will unveil prices later this week, but times and route are already known. It will run every Saturday from 22nd December to April 13th. The biggest benefit is that you will no longer need to change trains stations in Paris, lugging your skis and boards with you.

Instead you can simply start in London at 06.57, hop platforms at Lille, then motor on through to Geneva for 14.16, the Aigle (for Villars, Les Diablerets, Champry) at 15.47, Martigny (for Verbier) at 16.13, Sierre (for Crans Montana) at 16.39, Visp (for Zermatt) at 16.57 and Brig (for Leukerbad and Saas Fee) at 17.08.

A very civilised to time to arrive, settle into your ski chalet, sort your ski hire out and get a cheeky aperitif in before dinner!

Fish Geek Week in Raja Ampat with marine biologist Dr. Mark Erdmann

Dr. will conduct a Fish Geek Week at the dive resort Raja4Divers from 11 – 18 May 2013. Mark is a coral reef ecologist and the Senior Advisor to Conservation Internationals Indonesia Marine Program. He has over 20 years of experience to the Raja Ampat and he will share his enormous knowledge about the beautiful marine life with the guests. “I’m delighted to be coming back to Raja4Divers in 2013 to help the resort showcase the superlative reefs and marine biodiversity of Raja Ampat – unquestionably my favorite dive destination on the planet!”
Raja Ampat is part of West Papua in Indonesia and is known as the global epicenter of marine biodiversity.
In the northern part of Raja Ampat, close to the equator, Raja4Divers dive resort is settled on the island Pef. With its spectacular bays, blue lagoons, white sand beaches, hidden lakes, ancient rock art on karst cliffs, pristine blue-water mangroves, virgin jungle and incredible variety of exotic birds, Pef is a mini Raja Ampat all in one.
Raja4Divers dive resort provides spectacular diving on about 45 various dive sites and offers luxurious accommodation in authentic Papuan style bungalows.
More information about the Fish Geek Week and Raja4Divers: http://www.rajaampatdivers.com/fishgeekweek.html

Dr. Mark Erdmann will conduct a Fish Geek Week at the dive resort Raja4Divers from 11 – 18 May 2013.

Mark is a coral reef ecologist and the Senior Advisor to Conservation Internationals Indonesia Marine Program. He has over 20 years of experience to the Raja Ampat and he will share his enormous knowledge about the beautiful marine life with the guests. “I’m delighted to be coming back to Raja4Divers in 2013 to help the resort showcase the superlative reefs and marine biodiversity of Raja Ampat – unquestionably my favorite dive destination on the planet!”

Raja Ampat is part of West Papua in Indonesia and is known as the global epicenter of marine biodiversity.

In the northern part of Raja Ampat, close to the equator, Raja4Divers dive resort is settled on the island Pef. With its spectacular bays, blue lagoons, white sand beaches, hidden lakes, ancient rock art on karst cliffs, pristine blue-water mangroves, virgin jungle and incredible variety of exotic birds, Pef is a mini Raja Ampat all in one.

Raja4Divers dive resort provides spectacular diving on about 45 various dive sites and offers luxurious accommodation in authentic Papuan style bungalows.

More information about the Fish Geek Weekcan be found here.

Snowcarbon Release New Journey Planning Tool For Ski Resorts

Snowcarbon have just released a new version of their journey planner, to help skiers and boarders plan their journey to ski resorts by train.

Showing times and options further in advance than other services, and creating an easier to use platform, Snowcarbon hope to encourage even more people to take the train this winter.

At Much Better Adventures, we’re big fans of taking the train to ski resorts – the journey is not only more enjoyable and relaxed, but also it’s far friendlier to the environment!

The journey planner can help travellers find trains to key resorts, such as Meribel and Chamonix, along with many others in the Alps.

Try out the journey planner below, to see how easy it is to get to your ski resort by train!

Black Sheep Inn Eco Lodge in Ecuador now community owned

In May 2012 Black Sheep Inn, a well known eco-lodge in the Ecuadorian Highlands, and perhaps one of the most famous examples of sustainable tourism, has became 100% community operated.

Alex spent some time at the lodge a few years back, and the news brought some happy memories flooding back! Here is the story:

Edmundo Vega Estrada, the new administrator was born and raised in Chugchiln. He graduated from the local elementary school Juan Jose Flores over 40 years ago before tourism had developed in the area. He moved to Latacunga and then to Quito where he began working in the hospitality industry. From dish washer to kitchen manager to banquet administrator to restaurant manager; he worked at the JW Marriott, Hotel Quito, Hilton Colon and high-end restaurants. Edmundo returned to Chugchiln in April 2012 after being away for 30 years. He wanted to live close to his elderly mother and brother and he wanted to run the Black Sheep Inn. Edmundo speaks a bit of English and French, in addition to his native Spanish.Edmundos team consists of original Black Sheep Inn employees: Narcisa Sigcha, EstherCunuhay, Olga Pastua and Martha Cuyo, who have been involved with Black Sheep Inn for years. Cesar Cuyo and Jorge Guamangate are the maestros who helped build the Ecolodge and still maintain the property.Black Sheep Inn is open year round for individual bookings.Black Sheep Inn founders Andres Hammerman and Michelle Kirby reside on an adjacentproperty and are assisting with the transitional period to ensure quality and to maintain the high level of sustainable practices that made the Black Sheep Inn famous.

View Black Sheep Inn.

View more eco-lodges around the world.