Travel Expert Brings Local Flavor To Guidebooks, Video

guidebooksKnown worldwide as travel editor for CBS News, Peter Greenberg has traveled the planet bringing far away places into living rooms for decades. Now, Greenberg shares his expertise on destinations around the globe in his new “Like a Local” series of guidebooks, videos and travel tips that go on sale April 16.

Teaming with Michelin, Greenberg is releasing the series of “Like a Local” travel guides to Buenos Aires, Cuba, the Caribbean, New Orleans, and Miami that have must-see sights and activities, but also reveal insider tips on how to navigate the process of travel to get the best experience.

“Learn tips like how to avoid the touristy tango clubs in Buenos Aires and dance with the locals in a milonga,” says a release touting Greenberg’s endeavour. Telling “where to find street food stalls serving locally sourced seafood in the Bahamas; how to spend a day with Cuban tobacco farmers in Pinar del Rio” and more, the series looks to be a winner.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to Greenberg in Amsterdam and found him as colorful and descriptive about travel as one might expect. Speaking of his recent PBS special, “Mexico:The Royal Tour,” Greenberg was as passionate about experiencing the country with Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderón as his guide, undertaking whale watching in Baja California, rappelling down the Cave of Swallows in San Luis Potosi and zip-lining through the jungles of Puerto Vallarta.

Bringing that level of up-close and personal experience to us via guidebooks, videos and tips, the project promises to be far more than the sum of it’s parts.

Packing for Travel Tips


[Image via Flickr user LollyKnit]

Mexico tourism adds environmentalists to list of foes

MexicoMexico gets bad press for a number of reasons causing travelers to use extra caution when visiting south of the border. Attractions, like UNESCO biosphere sites along the Baja California Peninsula, draw travelers but a newly thriving coral reef is under threat from a mega-development planned for the area, adding environmentalists to Mexico tourism’s list of foes.

In Cabo Pulmo, Mexico, the shallow reef was a typical degraded reef 17 years ago that had been damaged by commercial boats dragging their anchors through the coral to get at valuable species that lived there.

“We started noticing there were fewer fish, and we were having to go farther out,” says Judith Castro, a local commercial fisherman. “We just saw the reef as a garden. We didn’t know the importance of it.”

Aided by local residents, the economy was gradually transformed from fishing to ecotourism, and the amount of life on the reef blossomed, increasing by 460 percent.

Now, a new sprawling project would transform the sleepy little village of Cabo Pulmo into a major tourist destination with about 30,000 hotel rooms, golf courses and a marina on a strip of seaside desert about a 90-minute drive northeast of the Los Cabos resorts.Opposing the project, The World Wildlife Fund recently brought schoolchildren bearing the flags of 70 countries to present almost 13,000 signatures from around the world asking President Felipe Calderon to cancel permits for construction at the site.

“It is unique, not only in Mexico, but in the world,” says Omar Vidal, the head of the WWF in Mexico. “It is a nursery for marine species to repopulate many areas of the Gulf of California.”

Mexico is a land rich in natural beauty and wonderful places to visit, making the country still one of the most visited in the world. Of course, this means tourism is an important part of the economy. At a time when cruise lines have canceled stops at Mexican ports and an updated US Department of State Travel Warning does not help matters, a new tourist destination is going to be awfully hard for Mexico’s government to pass up as it weighs its options.

Visit Los Cabos, Mexico




Flickr photo by NOAA’s National Ocean Service

Mexico’s safest destinations

MexicoCrime in Mexico has kept travelers away from some parts of the country that are riddled with the results of drug cartel operations. Everything from murder to mass graves and the acts of brutal drug lords has caused the U.S. Department of State to issue warnings against travel south of the border. Still, there are a number of places deemed safe by a variety of sources that are worth a look if not a trip to visit.

Our first five safe places to visit come from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Five Safest Places in Mexico. At only 1.1 deaths per 100,000, the agricultural state of Tlaxcala is rated as Mexico’s safest state followed by the Yucatán at 1.3 that has a well-developed tourist infrastructure and thousands of archaeological sites.

Up next is Puebla at 1.85 with 2,600 historic buildings, a wealth of archaeological sites, and virtually nonstop festivals originating in five distinct pre-hispanic cultures ahead of the small state of Querétaro with just 2.02 deaths per 100,000. Best-known for its role in ending Spanish rule, the state also claims three of Mexico’s major wineries and maintains a Cheese and Wine Museum.

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Renewed Baja California Sur, sfgate tells us, was the first flash point when President Calderón upset the drug cartels’ equilibrium and has been barely touched by drug violence. Adventure travelers will find hiking, kayaking, surfing and windsurfing, zip-lines, cave paintings and hot springs here.Tapping Lonely Planet for more safe places to visit in Mexico we find Mexico City, now cleaned up to be a ‘Disney version’ of its former gritty self, Todos Santos where “well-heeled New Mexico artists, organic farmers and even some Hollywood types have snapped up property and put down roots” and San Miguel de Allende where regular festivals, fireworks and parades dominate the local scene.

  “If it’s resorts you want,” says Lonely Planet, Huatulco is a rare success story in recent resort development. This former fishing village has become the Oaxacan beach resort of choice lately, benefiting from its gentle development plan that keeps much of the 12 miles of sandy shoreline completely unspoiled and the town under six-stories high.”

Finally, rapidly growing Playa Del Carmen comes in to round out our list of ten safe places to visit in Mexico. More than a day trip for cruise passengers, visitors come from all over the world in what looks to be a very safe destination, just one of the many we found in Mexico.

Flickr photo by RussBowling