Top 4 Amazing Tree House Hotels in Italy

By Alessia Morello

The best tree houses to sleep in while in Italy

If you’ve always wandered to sleep in a tree house surrounded by meters and meters of snow … now is the time!

The United States has been the forerunners of this wonderful idea and even Italy in recent years has worked hard to make tourists and locals live a unique experience by spending a holiday staying meters high in the middle of our amazing woods.

I’m so happy to announce that one of the most beautiful and design tree house is in my area, the northeast of Italy, in the middle between Venice and Austria and this place with has breathtaking views and the beautiful woods full of giants beech, larch and fir create a really magic atmosphere. 

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The Pinecone of Malga Priu, Ugovizza in Friuli Venezia Giulia (Italy)

In a place where man and nature come together the Pinecone is a design treehouse built respecting nature and its environment. 3 amazing floors where you can see the woods around at 360°.

This is part of one of the many eco-sustainable projects to support the mountain economy even in the less touristic areas of Italy. It combines respect for the environment and design and aims to bring more people closer to the mountains and to eco-sustainable tourism. This is absolute not cheap but I assure you that the experience is worth the money spent.

At the main floor you can find the living room, the toilet and the kitchen all built with local wood from Italian artisans. At the top floor you can find in an amazing round room the bedroom with a window above you perfect to see the stars before sleeping and on the lower floor 2 hanging chairs wait you for your relax with a breathtaking panorama. Isn’t a magic place to stay?

 

Tree Village in Claut, Friuli Venezia Giulia

This is the biggest treehouse village in Italy. Here you can find more solutions and is perfect for families. Built in the middle of a National Park close to the most amazing mountains of the Dolomites, the memories of a holiday in this village will remain in the heart forever. Here the contact with nature is total. Breakfast is served under the leaves of the trees before going out to explore the park through well-marked paths or swim in the river. The activities for kids are various and the parents have the time to relax and have fun.

Click this LINK to check out the Tree Village website.

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B&B La piantata, Arlena di Castro (Viterbo)

The owner says: “At 8 meters from the ground, among 12 hectares of hills planted with lavender, in the thick foliage of an ancient oak tree, it has built the refuge of your dreams”. 

This is the dream of any foreigner who comes on holiday in Italy, sleep in the country surrounded by rows of vines or cultivated fields and to feel this classic “italian atmosphere”. This place is a super luxury treehouse where you can have breakfast in your private balcony and smell the fragrance of the lavender all around you. This is a really lovely escape where you can appreciate the slow pace of time and being together. 

Here is a LINK to see much more of this luxury option and the beautiful surroundings.

 

Caravan Park in Alto Adige

If you love the mountains and the classic alpine style this area is what you are looking for. The Alto Adige is famous for the amazing mountains and for the beauty of their villages. During a holiday here you can opt for a sporty trip and do trekking, hiking, mtb and more or with their dozens of spas decide to take a holiday in total relaxation. If you want also to combine an unique experience the treehouse at the Caravan Park is the best you can find.  Here you have a flat all for you with an incredible view and bathroom with sensory shower, whirlpool and sauna. Not bad at all! 

You really have to check out this site to believe the majestic natural beauty of this place – click this LINK to see for yourself!

Top 4 Amazing Tree House Hotels in Italy 2I know that the things to visit in Italy are various but visiting the mountains and sleeping in places like this help the locals to work and live in the places where they are born. I hope more people start to come in Italy for visiting and do trekking in our amazing mountains and start to appreciate the slow life and focus more on what we have and not what we miss.

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Alessia Morello lives in the north-east of Italy. After working for several years around the world she decide to stop and come back in her homeland and do the things she loves like trekking into the Dolomites with her dog Giorgino and creating posts and videos for her blog. She grew up doing outdoor adventures with the family and now the nature is part of her life. Other interests? Rock climbing, mountain bike trails, cooking vegetarian recipes and having fun!

Follow her travels at www.theitaliansmoothie.com and on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

How to Build an Emergency Snow Trench Shelter

How to Build an Emergency Snow Trench Shelter

By Carley Fairbrother

Why Build a Snow Trench Shelter?

Imagine you are out for a snowshoe or a backcountry ski, and you get lost, or a storm makes travel too dangerous, or your friend gets injured. You need a shelter, and fast. Luckily for you, you are surrounded by one of nature’s most convenient building materials.

 

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Contrary to what your instincts might tell you, snow is a excellent insulator. While a snow shelter isn’t likely to get much warmer than 0° c, it probably beats whatever winter weather you are trying to hide from. Snow and ice shelters such as quinzhees, snow caves, and igloos have been used for millennia, and be rather roomy comfortable, but they also take a lot of time and energy to build.

 

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Trench shelters are quick, effective, and can be built in many different snow conditions. They are not, however, very comfortable. If you have plans to stay overnight in a snow shelter for fun, I would recommend a snow cave or a quinzhee (see video below for how to build a quinzhee). With the right tools in your emergency kit, and maybe a little practice, a snow trench shelter should take less than an hour to build.

 

Some Helpful Tools

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Mylar emergency blanket: I like to carry at least two with me, even in the summer. When wrapped around you, they will reflect your own body heat, preventing loss of precious heat. They can also be used to reflect heat from your fire, or can line the roof, walls, or floor of an emergency shelter. If you want to get creative, add tarp, signal, and fishing lures to a mylar blanket’s possible uses

Folding saw: This is a great addition to a winter emergency kit. Wood for making fires and shelters can be tricky since most of the dead wood is under the snow, and a saw makes collecting it a lot easier. You can make a trench shelter without branches, but they make building the roof and insulating the floor a lot easier.

Collapsible shovel: A shovel is a safety essential of you travel in avalanche terrain, but it can come in handy for any snow travel. I use mine to build a trench or a wall to protect myself from wind while I eat or rest. If you don’t have a shovel, bare in mind that it is important keep your hands warm and dry in a winter survival situation, so try to find something besides your hands to dig with, like a snowshoe.

Tarp: I carry a silicon 5’ x 7 poncho/tarp. A cheap alternative is to pack along one or two big, heavy duty garbage bag. An extra mylar emergency blanket could work too, though they aren’t particularly durable and could tear on a branch.

 

Get Building!

Step 1- Choose you Location

Choose where you want your entrance and what direction you want to lie. While sleeping with your feet close to entrance may keep you warmer, it will make for a slow exit if you need to get out quickly, so plan for your head to be near the entrance. You’ll want your entrance facing downwind, so take note of where any wind is coming from. A slight hill can make digging easier if the snow is deeper than six feet or so. Otherwise, find a level spot.

Step 2 – Break ground, err, snow

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Dig a three foot hole where you want your entrance to be. Ground is a lot warmer than snow, so dig to the ground of you can.

Step 3 – Dig your trench

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Now that you’ve gotten the right depth, it’s time to dig out the trench. It’s going to be up to your body to heat that space, so the smaller the better. Make it a little wider than shoulder width and around two feet longer than you body.

Pile snow up on the sides to make it a little taller (especially if the snow is less than three feet deep). If you have enough snow, pile it around the entrance as a windbreak too. If you get any big snow or ice chunks put them aside.

Step 4 – Lay the framework

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Skis and ski poles make fantastic roofs, but even with them, extra branches will make it more stable and easy to work with. The important part here is to work with what you have or what you can find.

Step 5 – Lay down the tarp

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If you have an extra emergency blanket, it could be a great addition here. Lay it down first. Try to spread your tarp so that the edges touch all the sides and secure it in place with anything you can find with weight; branches, ice blocks or packed snow will all work.

Step 6 – Bury it

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Fluffy snow provides the best insulation, but use what you have. When I was building this trench shelter, I found a good ice layer, so I balanced them on my frame until the gaps were filled in, and then buried it in fluffier snow.

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Step 7 – Add an air hole

Add a vent hole at the end or your trench by poking a stick under the tarp and wiggling it until it’s a inch or so in diameter. The entrance will probably provide enough air, but an extra hole for ventilation is still a good idea.

Step 8 – Insulate the floor

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It may seem like it would make more sense to put the floor down before the roof, but roof building knocks down a lot of snow, so you’d likely find yourself rebuilding the floor anyway. Lay down green fir or spruce bows, or whatever you can possibly find to add space between you and the snowy floor. I used a sleeping mat for this shelter because I didn’t want to damage the trees in my yard. After the snow is totally covered, lay down your emergency blanket. It works best with some space between you body and the blanket, so add another layer of branches. They will also help the blanket stay in place.

Step 9 – Get cozy

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Crawl in and fold any of the rest of the emergency blanket over you. If you have an extra, and it’s not in the roof, you can out it on top of you. Move you pack, or whatever else you can find, into the doorway to block the wind. Don’t make it airtight though; you need oxygen.

Never place the emergency blanket over your head. At worst, it could this cause suffocation; at best, it will cause moisture buildup that will keep you cold.

 

Some final thoughts

This could be modified for two people by making it wider, but still keep it as small as possible.. The closer you are to your friend, the warmer the both of you will stay.

As I mentioned, this is not a comfortable shelter. It’s hard to move around, or get in and out. Being alone in the dark, in a confined space, buried in snow is not something that I imagine a lot of people enjoying. Trench shelters do, however, get you our of the elements and give you something warm to lie on.

Another thing to remember is that no shelter will ever be the same. It will always depend on what you have with you, what your needs are, and what you can get from the environment. If you go into the backcountry in deep snow, it is definitely worth it to practice building snow trench shelters with the supplies you carry. The more you practice, the faster you will be, and the more ready you will be to improvise if need be.

Oh, and those mylar emergency blankets will never fold up again, so buy a few to practice with.

 

Watch Carley’s  short videos on this subject:

How to Build a Snow Trench Shelter

How to Build a Quinzhee

 

10 Best Winter Hiking Trails in Southern Utah

By Janiel Green

We have all felt the Winter chill, and some of us even the winter blues. Why not get outside and explore what your favorite trails are like in the winter time? Winter gear is readily available, and snowshoes are cheaper than ever. Here are a few of my favorite trails in Southern Utah. Depending on the year, it may look deceivingly like Springtime.

 

  1. Corona Arch Trail in Moab

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Any trails that allow dogs is on the top of my list! Corona Arch is one of those trails I have hiked several times with my Dog Zoey. There are not many trails within National Parks that do allow dogs on them, but Moab is special in that it does. The Trail is relatively easy, but when traveling with your dog, there is a ladder and a steep climb with chains. With a little guidance from me to Zoey, she was able to scramble up the mountain and find a route around the ladder with her four little legs.

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 The flat expanse prior to this is lined with arrows painted on the rock in the winter, and with the spring rains, they place cairns (stacked rocks) to help guide you to the Arch. There are two arches that you end up visiting: Bowtie Arch and the greater more impressive Corona Arch. Be sure to pack a picnic as this is an excellent spot in the winter to soak up the sun and chase away those summer blues. Please check the weather prior to doing this hike, if it is snowing the rock tends to be slick. Most of the trail to the first ladder is sandstone so you would just need good treads on your shoes. You can still see the arch if you choose to do the trail but will have to stop at the first ladder.

 

  1. Inspiration Point in Bryce Canyon National Park

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This is an easy drive over from Zion’s National Park, and well worth the drive. The different areas that are the most noteworthy are slightly hidden behind pine trees, so when entering the park (which there is a fee) be sure to ask for a map. There are brown wooden signs with white writing on the side of the road to guide you. Be sure to keep your eye out for them as they blend in well to the pine trees.

Inspiration point is one of the more popular trails and in the mild to moderate range. If you have bad knees or a bad back be sure to bring your hiking poles with you. Depending on the year it may get slick due to the trail being made mostly of sand. The weather may be different here than in other parts of southern Utah so be sure to check each National Park weather service. If you are lucky you can get a light dusting of snow on the tops of the towers in the basin and really gives it a special look with the stark white on red and the moisture bringing out every shade of color in the rock.

 

  1. Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park

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This is a very well-known hike, but not many attempt it in November or the deeper winter months. There are some treacherous areas should it be raining or snowing, but well work the effort and risk of going should the weather be favorable. This picture was taken in November with a rain storm blowing in, but never actually dumped any rain. The thing to know about Utah is that if there is rain on one side of the street, you can walk to the other side and have sunny weather. I would rate this trail in the moderate to hard range, with those who are afraid of heights to steer clear and opt for Observation Point instead as it is less hazardous and dizzying.

 

  1. Canyonlands

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For a more serene type of outdoor bonding, I would suggest Canyonlands National Park. This is a more laid-back park, with a trail right near the visitor’s center with fantastic views. Bring your camping stove, cook up some soup and a hot drink and just enjoy and bond with those who came with you. If the weather gets bad while you are in Southern Utah, this is a great alternative to the other hikes.

 

  1. Courthouse Towers and the Three Gossips

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Located in Arches National Park, this hot spot for climbing is also a great hike for all. You can see it either from the car park with an educational sign, or you can hike to the towers themselves. If you drive 4.5 miles from the park entrance you will see the carpark. There are also several other interesting rock formations in this area such as the Tower of Babel, and Sheep Rock. Please stay on the trail as there is a fragile bacterium that grows as a crust on the ground in southern Utah that helps prevent landslides and runoff from happening.

 

  1. Dead Horse Point

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You have two options with this location, you can either drive or take the trail near the visitor’s center. The trail itself is mostly flat with fantastic views of the cliffs and valleys that surround you. Check out the Legend of Deadhorse Point and see why it was named as such. If you take the trail be sure to bring your camera as you will be greeted with several odd and unique rock formations along the way. The trail is mostly rock with some sand that could get a little muddy in the winter, but overall even if the weather was bad you could still manage this easily.

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  1. Double Arches in Arches National Park

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An easy trail accessible all year round in full of bird watching and if you happen to go in the summer the trail is filled with wildflowers. The trail is mostly sandy so be prepared to get a bit muddy if you go in the winter (easily thwarted with some gaiters). These are quite unique as compared to other arches in this park as there are two of these massive wonders right next to each other. Be sure to check out the parade of elephants right next two the arches (rock formations that look like circus elephants on parade).

 

  1. Vodoo Trail in Dixie National Forest

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This is another trail that allows dogs and although it is a shorter loop it is quite fun. There are different rock formations that appear as if you have landed in the movie Labyrinth and make you want to break out in one of David Bowie’s songs. This is a moderate trail with some snowy, sandy areas but there is enough traction on the trail that it is easy to work around the trail conditions. Park next to the Dixie National Forest sign, the visitors center will be closed, but there is a sign that will have several other trails for you to explore.

 

  1. Angel’s Palace Trail in Kodachrome Basin State Park

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This was surprisingly one of my favorite trails, I have never seen photos of this prior to attempting this trail. The view over the valley, the palace that is strikingly white among the sea of red. I felt as though I started out on a trail and ended up in heaven. The trailhead is clearly marked with parking nearby. The trail is easy with a few hills and valleys to hike through. The hardest part about this trail is following the arrows, which are not always correct as some appear to be broken. I was able to find my way around the hills and was greeted with a fantastic view.

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  1. Fisher Towers in Moab

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With sweeping views of the surrounding valley and one of the most popular climbing trails, this is a must on your list. The Titan towers over you as you approach this trail, with the trail to the optimal viewing point being 1.5 miles, and the amphitheater rock formation just beyond this. The trail is a steep downhill entrance with a moderate to hard level rating of the trail. When you approach the first fork in the trail be sure to take the trail in front of you and do not veer to the left as this leads to a dead end and a sheer drop off. There are both parking and restroom facilities available at the trailhead.

 

Bonus: Tunnel Arches in Arches National Park

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An easy trail 0.7 miles roundtrip and good for all hiking levels. Perfect in the wintertime as this is a mostly sunny trail and made mostly of rocks. Have a fantastic time crawling around in this odd little tunnel with the perfect time to get a picture when the sun is shining through the arches. Pine Tree Arch is right near this arch as well and worth a look.

 

Summary

If you are experiencing the winter blues, smog, and inversions that come with the winter months. Plan a trip to Southern Utah, get some fresh air and reconnect with nature with the 10 Best Winter Hiking Trails in Southern Utah. Happy travels, happy tales, and see you on the flip side.

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About the Author: Janiel Green

Janiel Green - Cultural TrekkingJaniel is the founder and creative produce of Culturetrekking.com. She uses hiking outdoors as a way of expanding her internal boundaries. Her website is committed to connecting cultures, exploring without boundaries and finding unique art & adventure wherever she goes. Her favorite quote is from Patrick Rothfuss, “No man is brave that has never walked a hundred miles. If you want to know the truth of who you are, walk until not a person knows your name. Travel is the great leveler, the great teacher, bitter as medicine, crueler than mirror-glass. A long stretch of road will teach you more about yourself than a hundred years of quiet.”

Nature Play Ideas

Nature Play Ideas 2

By Bryony Sumner

When we were packing up our house to set off on our camping adventure around Australia one of the things that shocked me the most was how many toys we owned! Our boys were only aged 1 and 2 at the time – so in just 2 short years we had gathered enough playthings to start a sub-branch of Toys-R-Us! And the ironic thing was that the boys were always at their happiest when playing in the garden, finding the longest stick, or pulling all the dishes out of the drawers for a pretend picnic.

Nature Play Ideas 4I’m sure that we’re not unique in this – children thrive when using their imagination for play and it has been proven that the benefits of being outdoors go way beyond simply the goodness of fresh air. Playing in nature has shown benefits in all stages of childhood – from physical to social, emotional and cognitive development – and getting back out into the open was one of the top reasons for us deciding to hit the road.

As a family of four living full time in our bus and travelling Australia, storage is a big issue for us. We sometimes struggle to squeeze in the bare essentials – so when it comes to packing toys we have to be very selective. With this in mind we decided to pack as few as possible – we’ve got some Lego, cars and games for rainy days – but on a whole we depend on Mother Nature to provide our playthings. Here are some ideas that we use regularly that are great for camping and outdoor holidays – no extra packing required and the kids love them!

 

Nature Scavenger Hunt

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Nature Play Ideas 19This is a great game that can be tailored to suit all ages. If you have a pen and paper and your kids can read and write you can give them a written list to search with. As our boys are young we do this item by item – they go and search for one thing and when they bring it to us we give them the next challenge. This game works for all locations too – if we’re at the beach I get them to search for shells (you can do the biggest or smallest shell, the strangest looking shell, a round shell, a long shell etc) seaweed, coral, cuttlefish or sticks. If we’re in a forest they search for leaves, flowers, pine cones or nuts.

You can add an element of learning to the game by getting the kids to search for something beginning with a certain letter, or something of a certain colour, or collecting 3 of an item. You can add a time limit for older kids to increase the excitement – or if there are more kids you can make teams.

 

Build a Make Believe Camp

This is a favourite with the boys – they search for sticks to make a campfire, rocks to go around the outside, large leaves to make shelter, then they collect different pretend foods to cook on the fire. Their imaginations run wild and it keeps them busy for ages!

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Wild Art

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Getting creative with nature provides so many opportunities for crafty play – we have made pictures with the things we have found on bushwalks, used leaves to do different painting styles and made daisy chains and hats to wear from our treasures.

 

Nature Play Ideas 1Rock Lego!

Rocks are an absolute delight to all our family – we love fossicking and finding different minerals and stones – and hubby even did a lapidary course so he knows how to polish them. When we are at a pebbly beach or at the river we always search for interesting stones – we make towers with them or build mini houses, and hubby has always been a fan of friendship stacks.

 

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Pirate Play

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If we’re at the beach or at a playground where there is a sandpit we turn into pirates for the day! I draw a basic treasure map – and X marks the spot of some hidden treasure. We collect treasure first (big shells, driftwood etc), pretend it came from a pirate ship then I make the boys turn around (no peeking!) while I bury the items in the sand. They then have to use their buckets and spades to uncover the hidden loot.

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There are a few toys that we feel need to be packed for every trip – a ball, frisbee and bats for sports games are always played with heaps, and a pack of cards can be used for lots of different games for all ages.

But the best games are the ones that cost nothing, fuel their imagination and get them back into the great outdoors!

Happy camping!

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