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Wow! A £25 million luxury ski chalet for £700 per night!

By: Dan Frith

Sounds too good to be true? That’s because it is. But these are the type of listings you will now find frequently on well known globally trusted accommodation web sites. It’s a growing problem in our industry. Alongside these fake listings on authoritative booking sites there also a number of phoney websites sprouting up on the web and looking to trick people into parting with large amounts of cash.

So, you’re surfing the web, looking for accommodation for your proposed ski vacation. All of a sudden you spot an amazing luxury chalet in Verbier for a ridiculously low price. The photos of the interiors are amazing, it’s got an indoor pool, a games room, a home cinema, it’s fully catered too, you can’t contain your excitement, it’s on for €7,000 for the week. Wow! Book it, NOW!

What do you do, in your excitement to grab a bargain your brain slips out of gear, you’re not thinking and you send off a deposit, or sometimes even worse, the whole amount. It’s only later, on reflection, when you’ve come to your senses that you smell a rat. Hang on a minute, €7,000? for a peak week, in a top end chalet in Verbier? Surely that’s too good to be true, and sadly it is. By then it’s too late, you’ve been had and you won’t be the first.

The fake website scam is on the rise and now it’s infected the hugely popular Airbnb site too. This is a worry because this site has, so far, built a reputation for trustworthy transactions. It’s all too easy to get caught out if you’re not on your guard. These fake websites play on the gullible and those looking for a once in a lifetime bargain.

It’s actually happened where a party have turned up at their chalet of choice to be told, “no, sorry, we’ve had no booking from you, who are you”? If this happens to you in peak weeks, you could well be VERY lucky to secure alternative accommodation. It’s back to the airport for you and a miserable trip home with a €9,000 hangover.

So how can you protect yourself? Well first off, the “too good to be true” rule should be applied at all times. It just doesn’t happen that a chalet gets heavily discounted by the amounts advertised.

You may be asked to pay directly to the chalet owners, this shouldn’t happen, you should be directed through the site itself. If you’re not offered this option walk away. The fake listings feature the same message that goes something like ‘PLEASE do not book before you contact me! All the bookings made without prior contact will be canceled! To see if the dates are available e-mail me Zermatt@gpa16.eu’ – All the fake listing will contain this message. Run a mile.

Frustratingly host sites don’t properly always police their site and take the fake listings down before the damage is done. They should be placing warnings for all to see, but I guess they feel this would prejudice potential customers and sow seeds of mistrust in the site itself. So they keep quiet and don’t give sufficient, or indeed any warning.

Alongside the fraudulent listings there are a number of fake websites coming onto the net. Sometimes it can be hard to spot one but the general rule is that they are very sparse in terms of content and detail. They are by and large, cobbled together and just don’t look the part. We’ve spent literally tens of thousands of pounds developing our website and placed side by side with one of these false sites that should be pretty obvious. Here are a couple fake sites that we know have managed to fool holiday makers into parting with their cash:

https://www.chaletspeak.com

https://www.shopchalets.com

If you’re not sure, get a testimonial – ask the agent if they can provide contact details from reputable sources that can testify to their legitimacy. Their bank manager would be a good start.

If you’ve been stung, there’s precious little you can do to get your money back. All we in the industry can do is warn people to be vigilant when making bookings and sending off deposits and full balances. Be warned, be careful and be suspicious. A reputable operator or agent will fully understand your concerns; we are concerned too, it does our industry no favours at all that unscrupulous people are out there preying on our potential clients and friends.

So, be warned, watch out, there are pesky scammers about!




The original content (article & images) is owned by Dan Frith. Visit the site here for other interesting stories.

10 Best Places To Visit in California [With Suggested Day Tours]

By: Fatima Turla

Do you know some of the places to visit in California? You might say, Los Angeles, San Diego, or San Francisco. But other than that, there California has a lot of places that you can go to and explore. These places will let you experience the culture and learn more about this country. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy a luxurious yet adventurous trip! So continue reading for you to have an idea about the places to visit in California.

10 Places To Visit in California
Denys Nevozhai
Other articles you can read:

Table of Contents

Here are the top 10 Places To Visit in California that We Recommend

1. San Francisco

10 Places To Visit in California
Maarten van den Heuvel

San Francisco is a vibrant and exciting city located in northern California. Situated on the tip of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Golden Gate Bridge is the main attraction in the city. Tourists can either drive, bike ride or walk across this famous bridge to admire and photograph wonderful views. Tourists can also go to Lombard Street, which is famous for its tight curves or go to San Francisco’s Chinatown section to have a taste of Asia.

Suggested Tour: San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito Guided Bike Tour

2. Yosemite National Park

10 Places To Visit in California
Drahomír Posteby-Mach

Situated in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central-eastern California, Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular places to visit in California. Visitors love going here for its magnificent granite cliffs, giant sequoia groves, beautiful waterfalls, and diverse animal and plant life. You can hike or drive along the scenic path to experience the wonderful landscapes and glimpse of wildlife.

Suggested Tour: Full Day Small Group Yosemite & Glacier Point Tour – with Hotel Pickup

3. Los Angeles

10 Places To Visit in California
Andi ~ Kernel ˈkaːɔs

Of course, if you’re in California, Los Angeles should be a part of your itinerary. It is the second-largest city in the US and is located in Southern California. It is surrounded by the Pacific Coast, valleys, and mountains. Tourists in L.A. can find some of the well-known amusement parks on the planet here such as Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood. It is also one of the best places in the United States to go in search of celebrities (that’s if you are a big fan).

Suggested Tour: Universal Studios Hollywood General Admission Ticket

4. Death Valley

10 Places To Visit in California
Marco Bicca

Situated in the Mojave Desert, Death Valley makes much of the Death Valley National Park. It is considered as the driest and lowest place in North America, but still, it offers a variety of outdoor activities, historic sites, and nature viewing. Here, you’ll find snow-capped mountains and colorful sand dunes.

5. San Diego

10 Places To Visit in California
NeONBRAND

With its awesome beaches, perfect climate and outstanding tourist attractions, it is not surprising that San Diego is one of the most famous places to visit in California. It is a large coastal city with a small-town atmosphere. The most visited attraction here is America’s premier zoo. You can also visit SeaWorld San Diego and the Birch Aquarium.

Suggested Tour: La Jolla & San Diego Beaches Tour

6. Napa Valley

10 Places To Visit in California
Alexander Gamanyuk

Napa Valley is the ideal destination for wine lovers. So it is one of the best places to visit in California. Its wines are regarded to be some of the best wines in the world. Not only that but Napa Valley also boasts many world-class spas where visitors can get pampered and relaxed after a long pack day.

7. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

10 Places To Visit in California
Vitto Sommella

These two national parks are situated just next to each other in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, and both are well-known for their enormous giant sequoia trees. These trees can grow to be more than 300 feet or 90 meters tall and their trunks can be as much as 100 feet or 30 meters wide. Sequoia National Park is home to Mount Whitney, which is the highest point in the neighboring US. While Kings Canyon boasts the deepest canyon in America.

8. Lake Tahoe

10 Places To Visit in California
Tim Peterson

This is the second deepest lake in the US. The freshwater lake sits both California and Nevada and is one of the top tourist destination all year-round. The lake became a popular winter sports destination after the 1960s Winter Olympics were held here.

Suggested Tour: Lake Tahoe Semi-Private Photography Tour

9. Catalina Island

10 Places To Visit in California
Emma Svalstad

Catalina Island is situated approximately 22 miles or 35 km across the Pacific Ocean from Los Angeles. It is a famous vacation and honeymoon spot. Tourists can reach the island by private boat, ferries, small planes or helicopter. Once you reach the island, transportation is limited to bicycles, taxis and golf carts only.

Suggested Tour: Catalina Food and Walking Tour

10. Big Sur

10 Places To Visit in California
Bruce Warrington

Situated between the Carmel Highlands and San Simeon, Big Sur is a huge, rocky stretch of the Californian Coastline. The area attracts a lot of tourists on road trips because of its incredible jagged rocks, towering redwood trees and breathtaking beaches along the route. Big Sur is more than just beautiful scenery for driving though, it is also an area that provides a lot of top hiking opportunities that wind their way through the numerous state parks encompassed by Big Sur.

Suggested Tour: Catalina Food and Walking Tour

These places to visit in California are just a few of all the wonderful destinations this state has. You can have unlimited options for the tourist attractions or destinations that you can go to. So book that flight and prepare for a blast vacation in California!

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About the Writer

Fatima Turla2Hi there! I’m Fatima. My first major travel was in 2016 in the beautiful city of Cebu. After that, I got interested in traveling. Now I enjoy learning languages and other country’s cultures. My goal is to visit at least one country each year and to share my experiences with other people through writing or blogging. Witness my journey by following me on Instagram.​​​​​​​​​​​



The original content (article & images) is owned by Fatima Turla. Visit the site here for other interesting stories.

The Legend of D.B. Cooper

By: Gary Arndt

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Transcript

On November 24, 1971, a man who identified himself as Dan Cooper purchased a $20 ticket for a short 30-minute flight from Portland to Seattle. 

He had with him a briefcase filled with dynamite and wanted $200,000. 

After getting his money, the plane took off again, Dan Cooper took the money, jumped out of the plane and into history. 

Learn more about DB Cooper on this episode of Everything Everywhere Daily.

———————

This episode is sponsored by the Travel Photography Academy.

In 2007 I sold my home to travel around the world. I bought an expensive camera I didn’t know how to use and took terrible photos.

Several years, a hundred countries, and tens of thousands of photos later, I had improved my photography to the point where I was winning national awards, being named Travel Photographer of the Year three times in North America.


I created the Travel Photography Academy so you don’t have to spend the many years that I did to improve your photography.  I shot the

Even though we can’t easily travel right now, you can still work on improving your photography at home, and in your own community. 

Just go to TravelPhotographyAcademy.com to start improving your photography today. 

———————

Northwest Orient Airlines flight 305 was a short 30-minute hop between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington. The flight is so short that most people would never bother to actually take the flight as it would be easier to just drive. 

The airplane was a Boing 727-100, a detail that will become important to the story in a bit. 

A man using the name Dan Cooper purchased a ticket on the flight. He was a middle-aged white male who wore a suit, a black tie, and a white shirt. 

He sat in seat 18C with a briefcase and an open seat next to him.

To put this all in context, flying back in 1971 was radically different than it is today. You didn’t have to show identification to check-in or to buy a ticket. There were no screening or metal detectors prior to boarding the plane. 

As he sat in his seat, he didn’t exhibit any abnormal behavior. In fact, he ordered a bourbon and soda while the plane was on the tarmac. 

Shortly after the plane took off, he handed a handwritten note to the flight attendant Florence Schaffner. 

Schaffner, not thinking much of it put the note in her pocket without reading it. 

Cooper leaned over and whispered to her, “Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.”

Cooper asked her to sit down next to him in the empty seat and proceeded to open up his briefcase to show her the eight red cylinders which appeared to be sticks of dynamite, wires, and batteries. 

He told the flight attendant that he wanted $200,000 in cash, four parachutes (two primary and two reserve), and a fuel truck waiting at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport to fuel the plan upon arrival. 

Another background item you need to know is what the climate was around hijackings at this time.

1968 to 1972 was the golden age of hijackings. In the United States alone, there were no less than 130 flights hijacked during this period. Most of the hijackings wanted passage to Cuba, which didn’t have an extradition treaty with the United States. 

The policy of all airlines in 1971 was to comply with hijacker’s demands to protect passengers. 

Cooper’s request was taken by the flight attendant to the pilot, who radioed ground control. 

For two hours, the flight circled over Puget Sound. None of the passengers had any clue what was really happening. They were told by the cockpit that they had to circle for mechanical reasons. 

While the flight was circling, the CEO of Northwest Orient approved the $200,000 ransom and arranged for the parachutes and fuel truck to be delivered. The parachutes were delivered from a local sky diving school as Cooper refused military parachutes.

The FBI documented and microfilmed all of the 10,000, $20 bills that were given to Cooper. 

Once the plane got confirmation that the demands would be met, they landed and parked at a distant corner of the tarmac. Cooper ordered all of the windows closed.


When the parachutes and money were delivered, he ordered all of the passengers and flight attendants, save for one, off of the plane. 

When they took off, there were only five people on the plane. Cooper, flight attendant Tina Mucklow, the pilot, co-pilot, and navigator. 

Cooper’s instructions for the pilot were very specific. He wanted the landing gear to remain down, the cabin unpressurized, and for the plane to fly as slow as possible as they flew to Mexico City. 

When the pilot noted that they couldn’t make it all the way to Mexico City like that, they agreed to a fuel stop in Reno, Nevada.

It wouldn’t matter. 

By now it was dark out. At approximately 8 pm, Cooper ordered the flight attendant to go into the cockpit and close the door. 

This is where the particular model of the plane becomes important. The Boeing 727 had a unique feature: an aft door. At the very back of the plane at the tail, there was a door that would open and a folding staircase would come out. This was because the 727 was designed for use in smaller airports that didn’t have a jetway. 

While the crew was in the cockpit, they experience a sudden jump in the tail section of the plane, and their sensors indicated that there was a sudden change in pressure. 

When the flight finally landed in Reno, police, and FBI surrounded the plane, but Dan Cooper was nowhere to be found. 

In addition to the hijacker, two of the parachutes and all of the money was missing.

Cooper had jumped out of the plane. 

What might have been a normal run of the mill hijacking turned into a media sensation. 

The FBI began questioning everyone and looking for clues. They found fingerprints and managed to put together a sketch of the man based on the people who saw him. 

On the off chance that Cooper has used his real name to buy the ticket, one of the first suspects was a man by the name of D.B. Cooper from Portland. This was leaked to the media, and the name D.B. Cooper stuck, and that is what the hijacker is known as today. However, at no point was that the actual name that he used to identify himself. 

There were some unidentified fingerprints that were taken from the plane, but there was shockingly little evidence to go on.

There were five planes, including military fighter jets which followed flight 305, and none of them saw anyone jump out of the plane. None of the flight crew saw him jump because they were in the cockpit. 

The spot where he could have jumped covered a very wide area. They didn’t have GPS back then. They don’t know when he jumped, and how long he might have dropped before pulling the ripcord. 

The best guess is that he might have landed somewhere in Washington State near the base of Mount Saint Helens, however, its just a guess.

Over the next few months, going into spring of 1972, the largest search and recovery operation in US history took place. They had teams of police and army reserve searching the woods. There were multiple aerial reconnaissance flights. They had boats going up and down rivers, and they contacted everyone with a cabin or rural address in the area. 


They found nothing. No body, no parachute, no money. Nothing.

Over 800 people were identified by the FBI as possible suspects, but none of them panned out. 

Cooper had simply vanished out of the back door of an airplane. 

In 1972 they released the serial numbers of the bills he was issued, and newspapers offered a reward to anyone who could produce one, but no one did. 

There have only been a few bits of evidence that have been recovered over the years, and some of them can’t actually be attributed to the hijacking. 

In 1978 a deer hunter in Washington found instructions for lowering the aft door of a Boeing 727. 

In 1980, a family camping along the Columbia River, just north of Portland, discovered three packs of the money given to Cooper as ransom. It matched the serial numbers, were still in the same rubber bands, and in the same order. They had decayed somewhat, but they were confirmed to be the originals. 

In 2017, some amateur researchers claimed to have found some foam from the backpack and possibly part of the parachute straps. There is no confirmation that these were used in the hijacking.

Years later, the FBI did manage to identify some DNA samples from the tie which Cooper left behind in the plane, but they don’t know if the DNA belonged to Cooper. 

There are many amateur enthusiasts who are still focused on the case. They have come up with several theories, including suspects and the theory that there were accomplices. 

As time passed, the legend of D.B. Cooper grew. He became the basis of novels and was used as a plot device in movies and TV shows, as well as songs. The lead character of Twin Peaks was Dale Bartholomew Cooper, aka D.B. Cooper.

He also developed the reputation of a modern-day Robin Hood. He stole $200,000, which has a modern-day value of $1.3 million, didn’t hurt anyone, and got away with it. 

The DB Cooper hijacking ushered in several changes. It ended the era of zero air security. While there had been many hijackings, the DB Cooper case really brought the problem into the spotlight.

The Boeing corporation instituted a small change to the aft doors on their 727 to prevent them from being opened in flight. The new addition is known as the “Cooper vane”.

50 years later, the case of D.B. Cooper has never been solved. In 2016, the FBI announced it was ending any active investigation into the case. 

It is the only unsolved airplane hijacking in history. 



The original content (article & images) is owned by Gary Arndt. Visit the site here for other interesting stories.

5 unique South African safari experiences

By: Jared Ruttenberg

With a plethora of enticing safari and game lodge options available in South Africa, why not opt for a unique experience for your next trip. Here are five of my favorites to whet your safari appetite:

Explore wildlife waterways at Marataba Luxury Lodge

Although sitting on a boat watching wildlife is an experience usually associated with Botswana’s Okavango Delta, thanks to Marataba Luxury Lodges, this experience is also possible in South Africa itself. Marataba operates two high-end lodges in a private concession in Marakele National Park, a three-hour drive from Johannesburg.

In addition to the impressive sandstone mountains and game-filled plains, water safaris are possible along the perennial Marabas River. Arriving at the jetty you’re welcomed on-board Miss Mara, ready to offer you plentiful game, bird, and landscape sightings. Passing by elephants playing in the shallow water, or a pod of hippo rushing into the river are indeed sights to behold. Stay in either the main Safari Lodge’s tented units or in the smaller and more remote Mountain Lodge.

Sleep under the stars at Samara

If it’s an up-close and personal experience you’re after, why not consider spending a night under the stars. Several South African lodges offer sleep out options and one of the most exciting of these is Samara Private Game Reserve’s Star Bed. Set alongside a riverbed, guests are driven to the secluded spot where their night under the African sky awaits. The raised platform has a dining space and arriving at a sunset feast, a bottle of bubbly on ice, and a comfy bed under the stars is indeed a bucket-list African experience.

The star bed is situated in free-roaming Big 5 territory and so game viewing can be done from the safety of the platform. For extra security, there is electric fencing around the platform and guests are given a two-way radio to contact the lodge for any reason. I’ll never forget falling asleep to the sounds of the African bush with a thousand stars overhead to keep me company.

Sleep on a train at Kruger Shalati

In the heart of the Kruger National Park, South Africa’s largest and most iconic park, a previously disused bridge has now had a lease of new life, offering guests the opportunity for a Kruger first: to sleep onboard a luxury train suspended high above the Sabie River below. Having only opened in December 2020, Kruger Shalati is already garnering glowering reports from first visitors.

The glass-walled carriage-rooms offer startling views along the length of the Sabie River. The train is permanently stationed on the bridge, providing a classy homebase for guests to enjoy in-between game drives. There are 31 rooms in total, and then a viewing deck with a pool from which to pass away the day, and continue the game viewing from the elevated position.

Exclusive use safari at Morukuru Family Madikwe

Perhaps the ultimate South African safari experience is one where you get to call the shots. With the privilege of an exclusive use rental comes the chance to do what you want to do, and when you want to, without having to worry about any other guests. Morukuru Family in Madikwe offers exactly that. Around four hours from Johannesburg, a few kilometers short of the Botswana border, you’ll find Madikwe Game Reserve.

Decide that you want chocolate pancakes for breakfast? Simply ask. Want a sleep-in and shorter game drive or walking safari before breakfast? Easily done. Morukuru offers lodge-style accommodation in three exclusive use homes, sleeping 4, 6, and 10 people respectively. My pick is the 4-sleeper Owner’s House, with its prime riverside location, thatched sala – a dining area suspended high above the river – and sunken firepit.

Harvest fynbos honey at Grootbos

Situated in the mythically beautiful Overberg region, two-hours from Cape Town Grootbos Private Nature Reserves offers guests the opportunity for some unique hands-on experiences. This unique lodge celebrates the fynbos – an essentical component of the Cape’s flowering kingdoms, and also the most diverse in the world. In addition to the fynbos safaris, one of Grootbos’s experiences is the chance to join the resident beekeeper to harvest, tap, and bottle your own honey.

There are several hives on the property; significantly the Erica regularis is one of the fynbos species endemic to the area, flowering prolifically in the winter months. The plant is therefore targeted by bees, resulting in a single-origin honey – from one of the rarest plants in the world. Donned in a bee-keeping suit with scores of bees flying about me, I was initially a little daunted, but once acclimatized it was fascinating having insight into their world from up close.




The original content (article & images) is owned by Jared Ruttenberg. Visit the site here for other interesting stories.