Heading to Las Vegas whether it is by air or road, you will witness an arid and dry desert with rocky outcrops. So dry and desolate reflecting a burnt orange glow. Arrive in the evening and you will receive a completely different welcome.
Blinded by the bright lights of Las Vegas, the infamous ‘strip’ is sure to capture your full attention. The Luxor Casino with its blaring light from the tip of the pyramid beaming into the dark sky, the Eiffel Tower looming over the centre of the main drag and the Bellagio’s fountains dancing.
Your attention is snapped into every possible direction not knowing where to look and what to take in first. A flurry of excitement whirs inside you – you have finally arrived in the City of Lost Wages, I mean Las Vegas. Where to start in such a contrasting city with so much to see and do? Apart from exploring every casino from top to bottom of the strip, here are a couple of pointers for the first timer of what to see and do on ‘The Strip’.
1. Eiffel Tower viewing platform at Paris
The view from the Eiffel Tower at Paris is breathtaking. Can I go so much to say that I believe it’s better than the view from the real Eiffel Tower? On one side you can see Luxor’s Pyramids flashing in the background and on the other, there is St Mark’s Square at the Venetian, the Stratosphere piercing the skyline in the distance and the Disney castles of Excalibur to your left. The restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, overlooks the Bellagio where you have the opportunity to witness the infamous fountain water works every 15 minutes. While you are here, take time to wander through the quaint imitation Parisian streets, past baguette shops and cafes. Be sure to check out the ¾ size Arc de Triumph!
2. Manhattan Express Roller Coaster at New York New York
Ever travelled on the underground in New York or with a crazy New York cab driver? It can be a pretty hairy experience! Why not take it to the next level and board the Manhattan Express. A yellow cab roller coaster that twists, turns and loops through the cluster of buildings forming a small scale NYC fronted by the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building towering at the back. The Brooklyn Bridge sweeps along the front of the city as you fly past taking in views of the Strip from a different perspective.
3. Mirage Volcano Experience
Witness an absolute audio and visual spectacle. Beginning with smoke flowing from the top, followed by orange flames of fire which then spurt ‘lava’ 100m into the air. The volcano gurgles and bubbles before breaking into sporadic explosions all to the beat of tribal drumming music. Flames puff out the sides of the volcano as the lava continues to shoot skyward and illuminate the night sky. Hundreds of smaller flames dance in the water below, licking the base of the aggressive mountain. The volcanoes choreographed eruption to the suspenseful music makes it spectacular. The volcano erupts every half an hour from 8pm daily.
4. Bellagio Fountains
The Bellagio famed for its iconic fountain show. Having seen this in many movies, I really was not expecting too much, but I was pleasantly surprised. Starting with soft smoke across the rippling waters of Lake Como, the fountains shoot upwards and the dramatic show begins. The fountains dance and sway to the music, (This Kiss by Faith Hill) and light up the lake and the sky. Crowds line the circumference of the lake, the Eiffel Tower the perfect backdrop with almost everyone singing along as these jets of water shoot into the air performing like acrobats twisting, turning and swaying taking away everyone’s breath. Fountains dance every half an hour from 3pm – 7pm and every 15 mins from 7pm daily.
5. Welcome to Las Vegas sign
The famous ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign is located a couple of hundred metres past the Mandalay Bay Hotel in the centre median strip. Not much to see here apart from the sign itself, but well worth a quick visit and a selfie. You will pass the famed Little Church of the West as you make your way here.
6. Pool at Mandalay Bay
The pool, also known as ‘The Beach’ at the Mandalay Bay Hotel is the best Vegas has to offer. Complete with lush landscaped gardens, a wave pool and lazy river to float around in rubber tyres, this modern, chic beach feel vibe makes you feel like you are in another world. Imported sand, private villas, fresh white cabanas and bungalows for those wanting some luxury or shelter from the heat come complete with personal waiters and an extensive cocktail bar. This is the place to chill in the heat of the day. For those looking for something a little more risqué, the Moorea Beach Club offers your ‘toptional’ dipping pool experience.
7. Fremont Street
Fremont Street, commonly known as ‘Old Vegas’ is a must see for the first timer to Vegas. It is where Vegas meets the 70’s. Neon signs line the streets and the pedestrian mall which paves the way between world famed casinos such as the Golden Nugget is creatively canopied with a 460m long Viva Vision video screen. Enjoy a variety of light shows including Heart, The Who, Bon Jovi and many more, every hour with each showcasing a dazzling, glittery show lasting six minutes. Other attractions in ‘Old Vegas’ include the Neon Sign Museum, waterslide through the shark tank of the Golden Nugget and the newly established zip line which zooms along underneath the Viva Vision hi resolution screens.
Whether you head to the Stratosphere for the revolving restaurant buffet, the adrenaline rides on the top of the tower or purely for the best photo opportunity of The Strip, it is definitely worth checking out. The adrenaline rides on the roof of the strip are not for the faint hearted! Are you game to hover 900 feet over the lights below as your roller coaster hangs over the side of the tower or be spun at 40 miles an hour face first to the ground below? If not, it’s still the best place for a view of the strip (and free too!)
Las Vegas is the best place for shopping on earth some would say. With the lowest taxes in all of the USA, there really is something for everyone. You will be sure to grab a bargain or 7 at both the North and South Factory Outlets showcasing your more mainstream designer brands at unbelievably low prices. The Fashion Show Mall, located on The Strip opposite the Wynn Casino and Hotel offers more of your department store shopping – great for make-up and conventional type products. Caesar’s Forum shops inside Caesar’s Palace is your premier shopping scene, offering exclusive up market designer brands on every corner but at extremely reasonable prices. The Forum is for those who like to indulge in a little ‘luxury shopping’. The Miracle Mile located inside Planet Hollywood, is exactly that. A mile of shopping including stores like H&M, Bebe and smaller chain shops. In Vegas you can literally shop til you drop!
10. Get Married!
There is an average of 400 weddings a day in Las Vegas and you can get married for as little as $49. It only takes 3 days for divorce to go through if you realise you haven’t quite found your soul mate. It is the only place in the world where you can get married on Monday, divorced on Thursday and remarried on Friday without missing out on your weekend!
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.