A Visit to the Lascaux Cave in France: Paleolithic Wonders

A Visit to the Lascaux Cave in France: Paleolithic Wonders

If ancient history and stunning prehistoric artwork interest you, the Lascaux Cave is something you must see during your lifetime. Part of a complex of caves located near the village of Montignac in the Dordogne region of southwestern France, the cave is famous for its elaborate, Upper Paleolithic paintings. The cave is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination that puts you up close and personal with an exact replica of the original cave.

There’s a lot going on at this mesmerizing location, so let’s break it down.

We’ll start with some of the history, before giving you some need-to-know information, and finally some more details about what you can expect from this experience.

Some Brief History

The Lascaux Cave was first discovered by 18-year-old Marcel Ravidat in 1940, and it was eventually opened to the public in 1948. However, it was closed in 1963 after the influx of visitors began to damage the delicate surface of the paleolithic paintings it housed. An exact replica of the cave called Lascaux II was opened in 1983. The successor to that replica is Lascaux IV, which is the updated replica cave that you can visit today. With its attached museum and down to the millimetre-level accuracy, Lascaux IV is nearly identical to the real thing.

A Visit to the Lascaux Cave (2)

Important Information

When you visit Lascaux Cave, you can expect a roughly two-and-a-half-hour long experience from start to finish. That includes the tour of the replica cave, the self-guided tour, galleries, and art exhibits that add to the experience. The tour through the cave itself takes about an hour, and the rest of the experience is self-guided with the aid of a digital tablet.

Getting Tickets:

You can buy tickets online in advance of your visit here. Tickets are available up to 90 days in advance, right up until the day before your intended visit. Please note that you cannot purchase online tickets the day of your visit, but if you can get them day-of at the ticket centre in person. Tickets are non-exchangeable and non-refundable, so be sure you’re confident when you book.

Tickets are currently 17 EUR each for adults, and 11 EUR for children, and you have the option to choose between English, Dutch, and French tours (Please note that while these prices were accurate at the time of publication, they may change at anytime). 

Lascaux IV is open every day from 9am-7pm.

What You’ll See

The Lascaux experience is broken up into four main spaces: the Belvédère, the Shelter, the Cave itself, and the Studio.

Belvédère and Shelter

The visit starts when you receive a tablet and take an elevator up to the top of the roof of the museum. From there, you can look out over the Vézère Valley and use the augmented reality interactive map on your tablet to see information about the view in real time. It’s a great way to learn about the many surrounding archaeological sites.

At the shelter (also on the roof), you can stand in front of a screen and watch the evolution of the Lascaux area shift and change. It feels like you’re looking into the past through a window. It’s incredible to see how different the landscape looked back in the time of the cave painters. It sets up the “time travel” feeling you get when you move onto your next destination: the Lascaux Cave.

A Visit to the Lascaux Cave (4)

The Cave

You’ll have an appointed entry time to visit the cave with a group of other visitors and a trained guide. Walking into the replica, it feels exactly like you’re going into a real cave. Cool and damp, the re-creation is incredible, and it’s very easy to suspend your disbelief. Of course, it helps that the recreation is built into the same hill as the original, and that you really do go underground for your visit. It’s as real as it can get these many years later!

The main attraction are the paintings. The first one you see is a curiously named painting called “The Unicorn,” even though the animal has two horns. Then you’ll proceed into the famous “Hall of the Bulls” where enormous paintings of bulls seem to leap and run right off the walls. From there, you go deeper, into a series of smaller caves with multicolor paintings of horses, cows, bulls, and symbols in shades of black, brown, red, and yellow. The presence of all these colours is part of why Lascaux is so justifiably famous. Polychromatic caves are very rare, and when you walk through the tour, you’ll feel awed and inspired by the achievements of the people who made the paintings at a time where there was no written language.

A Visit to the Lascaux Cave

The Lascaux Studio

After you leave the hallowed halls of the cave, you can wander at leisure through the Lascaux Studio space, where eight cave walls have been reproduced for you to explore. These include the cave’s most famous works: “Two Crossed Bison”, “The Great Black Cow”, “The Panel of the Imprint”, “The Apse”, “The Shaft Scene”, “The Axial Gallery”, “The Upside-Down Horse” and “The Hall of the Bulls”.

These reproductions include enhanced reality information available on your tablet, giving you more information on the techniques and history of the specific scenes.

Other exhibits of note are the virtual reality version of the cave, which you can view at your own pace on the tablet, the art exhibit where you can create your own virtual cave paintings, a historical exhibit on the history of the cave and why it was closed to the public, and an area with real objects that were found during the archaeological dig.

A Visit to the Lascaux Cave

The Big Picture

Aside from the cave being just plain cool, visiting the Lascaux Cave puts you at the heart of two exciting developments in the history of art. First and foremost, the cave gives you access to some of the world’s earliest and most incredible cave paintings. The discovery of the Lascaux Cave brought Stone Age culture to the modern world, giving us rare access to a time that has few surviving records.

With its high-tech re-creation and careful archaeological preservation, you can experience this wonder without worrying about damaging the original. Lascaux’s reproduction took years to make, and it represents an exciting development in the world of historical preservation.

Seoul Travel Guide: 7 Key Sights And Attractions

Seoul Travel Guide: 7 Key Sights And Attractions

Seoul, South Korea is a huge, vibrant city that is home to more than ten million people. With a population that size, it’s no surprise that there are endless things you can do while vacationing there. From its historic palaces, serene gardens, vibrant shops, incredible food, and some of Asia’s coolest night spots, this capital has pretty much everything you could want and much more you never knew about. If you’re looking for a good Seoul travel guide for the curious beginner, you’ve come to the right place. 

In no particular order, here are 7 key sights and attractions you should check out if you’re visiting South Korea’s largest city. These are essential, but also original and intriguing: the perfect places to encounter the city for the first time in an authentic way. 

Namsan Park

Once the site of a protective city wall, Namsan Park is famous for its incredible city views over Seoul. Palgakjeong viewing pavilion is a free spot to appreciate the view, but it’s definitely worth it to buy a ticket to the viewing platform of N Seoul Tower. At 1,500 feet in the air, the views are breathtaking, and lovestruck couples can attach padlocks to the fence to celebrate their love. On Saturdays, you can stay on the observation deck until midnight, and the night views are incredible. Bring a jacket: It can get windy at the top! If you feel like a treat, there’s also a restaurant in the rotating platform at the very top of the tower.  

Exploring Seoul, South Korea Our Top Picks

Changdeokgung Palace

Though this palace isn’t the largest one in Seoul, it’s my personal favourite for its incredible landscaping and architecture. As Korea’s longest, continually inhabited palace, and its most intact royal residence, Changdeokgung has well earned its UNESCO World Heritage Status.

Aside from the stunning, colourful architecture, the real treat at this palace is the incredible “Secret Garden” that takes up about 2/3 of the property. Traditionally reserved exclusively for the monarch, visitors can now take guided tours of the garden, which features a model nobleman’s home, some incredible scenery, fountains, and even a lotus pool!

The Secret Garden tour and the palace tour require two separate tickets, but they’re inexpensive and well worth the price. English tours run Tuesday through Saturday, and the palace is closed on Mondays.

Exploring Seoul, South Korea Our Top Picks

Hongdae

If you want a taste of Korean youth culture, Hongdae is the neighbourhood for you. Located around Hongik University, this area is a great place for tourists to stay because of its incredible night life, street food, and art. If you’re a night owl, Hongdae is one of the best places to go! Hongdae’s “Club Day” on the last Friday of each month gets you access to the hottest area clubs and music venues for around $14 USD, and you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants.

But if you’re looking for something a little less festive, don’t miss the weekend markets near the university on Sunday. Hongdae’s student-heavy population means shops here are a bit cheaper than the rest of Seoul on average.

Exploring Seoul, South Korea Our Top Picks (3)

Insa-Dong

This neighbourhood is the place to be if you’re hunting for traditional Korean goods. Tea, ceramics, calligraphy, and wooden carvings are all popular wares, making this area a perfect place to hunt for souvenirs and local art. Plus, the whole neighbourhood is picture-perfect and full of windy, adorable alleys lined with street merchants, musicians, and street performers adding a lively energy. Come on weekends to experience the area without any vehicle traffic, and you can almost imagine you’re back in the Joseon Dynasty! Weekends do tend to be a bit more crowded, so for a more laid-back experience, come on a weekday.

Exploring Seoul, South Korea Our Top Picks (4)

Bukchon Hanok Village

To get a glimpse at the traditional style of a Korean home (called a hanok), Bukchon is a beautiful neighbourhood to check out. Located in the hilly north-central area of Seoul, Bukchon Village is comprised of around nine hundred privately-owned hanoks that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. Visiting here is free, though you can stop into some of the hanoks that have been converted into coffee shops or art galleries to take a look inside! Additionally, you can rent a hanok as your home base while you travel.

The area is very hilly, so wear walking shoes and expect to be on your feet for a while. Since it is also a neighbourhood where people actually live, remember to obey noise rules and be respectful of the people who live there.

Exploring Seoul, South Korea Our Top Picks

Cat Cafes

Korea started the cat cafe trend, so you definitely shouldn’t miss visiting one! Visitors to cat cafes can hang out with a small herd of beautiful, friendly cats while drinking coffee or tea. For sanitary purposes, you sanitize your hands upon entering and you usually take your shoes off and replace them with slippers. Then you order your drink or food and take it into the cat section!

You can hang out with the cats as long as you like, and the owners and workers are usually characters who have a lot of passion for their feline friends, so it’s a great place to people-watch. And cat-watch.

Cat cafes are a great place to rest on a busy trip. Who wouldn’t feel relaxed with a cat on their lap and a hot drink?

There are a ton in Seoul, but here are a few recommendations:

  • Y Cat Café: 3F, 358-125, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea
  • Café Café MyeongDong : 8-5 Myeongdong 8-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Exploring Seoul, South Korea Our Top Picks

Jongmyo Shrine

Built in the 14th century, this incredibly well-preserved Confucian royal shrine was once the worship place for the Joseon Dynasty rulers. The original temple was destroyed during the 16th century Japanese invasion, but the 17th century rebuilt temple still stands today. The main shrine and the Hall of Eternal Peace are the notable buildings on the site, and every year the Jongmyo Jerye ritual attracts huge crowds to honour rulers of the Joseon dynasty.

Except on Saturdays, you can only visit the site through a guided tour, so remember to think ahead. A tour is really the way to experience this place; the peaceful atmosphere and restrained decorations might make wandering around here without any context a little dull.

Still, the shrine is incredibly beautiful and relaxing in and of itself, so it’s worth a visit for the peaceful atmosphere alone.

Exploring Seoul, South Korea Our Top Picks

I amsterdam City Card: Should You Get One?

I amsterdam City Card: Should You Get One?

Famously known for its cyclists, lively atmosphere, and chocolate, Amsterdam is a terrific place to travel. It has all the charm of Europe without any fuss, and you can have some really unique cultural experiences. If you’re currently planning a trip to the Dutch city, the I amsterdam City Card might just be for you!

(And yes, that’s the official spelling with a lowercase “A.”) Without further ado, read on to learn why the pass might be a good option on your next trip. 

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THE BASICS

The I amsterdam City Card uses the same basic model as other travel passes: you buy the card and get free entrance to museums, attractions, and public transport systems for the duration of your travel package.  

Here’s what the City Card includes:

  • Free entrance to 50+ museums and attractions
  • Free unlimited public transport
  • Free canal cruise
  • Discounts and coupons
  • A city map and guide book

How it works:  

You buy your City Pass online, and you can choose between 24, 48, 72, or 96 hour passes.

You’ll get a confirmation email immediately, and then you pick up your City Card at any of the following locations:

  • Amsterdam Central Station:  I amsterdam Store, on the North side of the station
  • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol: I amsterdam Visitor Information Centre Schiphol Airport, Arrivals Hall 2: Holland Tourist Information
  • Amsterdam Central Station: I amsterdam Visitor Information Centre at Stationsplein, Stationsplein 10 (opposite the main station entrance)

Your pass becomes active the first time you use it.

Included attractions:

The City Pass covers most of the big name attractions in the Amsterdam area. The Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum, the Rembrandt House Museum, the Royal Zoo, Rijksmuseum, and about fifty other attractions are all included. Here’s a link to the full list of participating attractions.

Plus, you can take a canal ride on any participating tour boat company! We suggest taking a tour that goes out onto the sea. Seeing the city from the water is an incredible experience, and even on cloudy days, the views are incredible.

The Anne Frank Museum is the only big name attraction not included in the City Card, so you’ll have to buy a ticket separately. It costs nine euros, and while the museum is being renovated you must purchase tickets online.

Getting around:

The I amsterdam City Card includes unlimited use of the GVB public transport system, including all buses, trams and metros in the city for as long as your pass is valid. One important point of note here is that your card does not include train rides, including the train you’ll need to take from the airport to Amsterdam Central station. You will need to purchase your own tickets to get from the airport into Amsterdam itself.

Pricing:

Pricing is solely based on the duration of your stay, so in terms of pricing structures, it’s very easy to decide which pass to get.  

Duration lengths:

  • 24 hour pass: €59
  • 48 hour pass: €74
  • 72 hour pass: €87
  • 96 hour pass: €98

SHOULD YOU GET ONE?

Some pros:

  • With one pass, you get access to almost every attraction in the city. It’s a massively simplified touring experience that saves you a lot in terms of planning time.
  • The pricing structure is very simple and easy to understand, and the website purchasing process is seamless. This pass is seriously low-fuss.
  • If you love sight-seeing, the City Card will absolutely save you money. Individual tickets can really add up, and you don’t have to see a ton of sights for the card to end up being the cheaper option.
  • You don’t have to worry about figuring out how to buy tickets for public transport, which can ease a lot of travel anxiety. Just scan your card and hop on!
  • The free canal boat trip is awesome. Boating around the city is one of the best ways to experience it, and the canal boat drivers are usually funny and friendly.   

I amsterdam City Card Should You Get One (4)

Some cons:

  • The card won’t give you travel from the airport into the city, so you’ll have to arrange your own transport.
  • You have to physically pick the card up at a pre-determined location, and that means you can’t pre-book tickets for larger museums until you physically have your card. This can be annoying if you’re trying to plan an itinerary, since you can’t pre-book before your trip. 
  • Your pass will automatically expire once your time frame ends.
  • You can’t go to the same museum a second time; your pass only includes one visit to each attraction.

Should you get it?

The short answer is: Yes! If you like to visit attractions, then the I amsterdam City Pass is a money-saving and convenient way to do it. You only have to buy one pass, and in return, you get access to museums and attractions without having to wait in ticket lines. The pass makes public transport easy and convenient, and you get some extra perks.

That said, the pass may not actually be much cheaper for shorter stays. The longer the pass, the greater the savings, so do some quick math on a short itinerary to see if you’ll actually save money. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of public transport. And, of course, use your best judgment for your trip!

Happy planning and safe travels!

The Paris Pass: Should You Get One?

The Paris Pass: Should You Get One?

With a reputation for art, wine, cheese, and all the finer things in life, is anyone really surprised that Paris isn’t the cheapest place to travel? If you’ve been planning a trip to the country of love, fret no more! The Paris Pass, a sightseeing package, aims to save you money on tickets to major attractions and public transport by bundling them onto one card. It can be a real time saver, but is it something you need to have? Let’s get into the details.

Paris Pass Should You Get One

THE BASICS

Here’s what the pass includes:

  • Access to 60+ attractions
  • Fast track access to select locations
  • One day of hop-on hop-off Paris Big Bus access
  • Paris Visite Pass with unlimited metro access

How it works:  

The pass can be purchased online. It is then either shipped to your house or you can pick it up when you arrive in Paris. You can choose between 2, 3, 4, and 6 day passes. The pass becomes active the first time you scan it. The Paris Pass serves as your ticket when you get to selected attractions, locations, etc. You just scan it and head in!

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Included attractions:

The Paris Pass covers just about every major tourist attraction in the city. The Louvre, the Arc De Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Museé d’Orsay, Versailles, Montparnasse Tower, the Centre Pompidou, the Opera Garnier, and more are all included. The only major attraction that isn’t covered by the pass is the Eiffel Tower.

Here’s a link to the full lineup.  

Paris Pass Should You Get One (1)

Getting around:

The Paris Pass includes unlimited public transport access for the duration of your pass. That includes unlimited RER trains, metro access, buses, trams, and SNCF Overground Trains. It also includes a Seine boat cruise!

Pricing:

Pricing is determined based on the duration of your stay and the age of the traveller. There are adult, teen, and child passes that all have different pricing.

Here’s the breakdown of cost. All prices are in Euros, and the prices go in order of adult, teen, and child passes.

2 day: €131, €81, and €44

3 day: €160, €96, €49

4 day: €189, €106, €56

6 day: €244, €126, €69

Paris Pass Should You Get One

SHOULD YOU GET ONE?

Some pros:

  • If you’re a heavy sightsee-er, the Paris Pass is a fantastic option. You get entrance to many attractions at reduced rates, and the list of included locations is very comprehensive.
  • It’s far cheaper than buying the tickets individually. On some passes, you get savings of more than a hundred Euros, which in most cases covers the cost of the ticket.
  • With the built-in train pass and the accelerated entrance lines, it’s one of the most convenient ways you can get around. You buy it once, and then you don’t have to think about it again. Straightforward and easy to use.
  • If you’re not sure about the attractions element, you can buy a museum-only pass separately, if you prefer. Note that the Museum Pass doesn’t come with included metro access.

Paris Pass Should You Get One

Some cons:

  • The Paris Pass has a “purse value” maximum that you can’t go over during the course of your ticket. Basically, this means that you can’t exceed the total value of the attractions on your card. For example, the six day pass includes 350 euros worth of attraction entrances, so if you exceed that total value using your card by entering multiple places more than once, your card will expire.
  • Your pass will automatically expire once your time frame runs out. There’s no grace period, and the clock starts when you first swipe it at an event.
  • The unlimited transport system only includes metro zones 1, 2, and 3. Frankly, that shouldn’t be an issue unless you have your heart set on some of the outermost suburbs.
  • Finally, note that the 3-day Paris Pass only includes a 2-day Paris Museum Pass. So if you get the three day pass, plan your museum trips on two consecutive days in a row.

So, should you get it?

The bottom line is that if your trip is heavy on attractions, the Paris Pass makes a lot of sense. It’s convenient and includes metro access, so it saves you time and will probably save you money. That said, it might be worth sitting down with your itinerary and actually doing the math on the cost of your intended attractions and a metro card. You may find it’s actually just as cheap to buy your own tickets directly, depending on what you plan to see.

Aqua Wonders: The Most Beautiful Waterfalls in the World

Aqua Wonders: The Most Beautiful Waterfalls in the World

Ah, there’s nothing quite like the breathtaking beauty of waterfalls. These magical displays of rushing water synergize the best parts of hydrology, geology, and gravity to form one awe-inspiring sight. Read on to learn about the most beautiful waterfalls in the world– from North and South America to the African continent. 

Niagara Falls

Let’s start with one of the world’s most famous waterfalls of all time. Located between the border of the United States and Canada, Niagara Falls is two waterfalls with an island between them. On the Canadian side, the water drops an amazing 173 feet (53 metres) before it hits the river below. It’s an absolutely breathtaking sight.

For more on Niagara Falls, make sure to visit our sister site: Secrets of Niagara!

Water Wonders: The World’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls

Angel Falls/ Kerepakupai Meru

The tallest waterfall in the world is Angel’s Falls in Canaima National Park in beautiful Venezuela. The water crashes down for a staggering 3,212 feet (979 meters) over the edge of Auyán-Tepuí mountain. The water drops so far that it atomizes into the air and then recollects down the face of the mountain before it even reaches the bottom.

Water Wonders: The World’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls

Victoria Falls/ Mosi-oa-Tunya

This waterfall, located between Zimbabwe and Zambia, is classified as the world’s largest waterfall because of its impressive height (180 meters) and width (1,708 meters). The water moves across a flat basalt plateau and tumbles down into a sheer crevice. The Tonga name for the falls means “Smoke that Thunders.”

Water Wonders: The World’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls

Iguazu Falls

The Iguazu Falls is located along the Iguazu River on the border of the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná. It is classified as the largest waterfall system in the world, featuring over 275 different cascades. Though it’s not a tall waterfall, it makes up for it in terms of sheer scope.  

Water Wonders: The World’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls

Kaieteur Falls

Located in Guyana, these falls are famous for their beauty and remoteness. Surrounded by wilderness on all sides, there are fewer tourists due to the lack of infrastructure to support them. You can experience Kaieteur in comparative solitude, just be prepared for a journey to get there.

Water Wonders: The World’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls

Gullfoss (Golden Falls) in Iceland

For those who prefer their waterfalls in a more northern clime, Gullfoss is a magnificent falls located in the southwest of Iceland. Though it’s not as high or wide as other falls we’ve mentioned, it’s still incredible to see because the crevice the water falls into makes it seem that the river disappears into an abyss.

Water Wonders: The World’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls

Yosemite Falls

The highest waterfall in the United States, Yosemite Falls drops 2,435 feet and is located in the Sierra Nevada region of California. Fed by melting mountain snow, the amount of water going over the edge depends on the time of year and snow conditions, but it’s truly a breathtaking sight year-round.

Water Wonders: The World’s Most Beautiful Waterfalls

Travel Preferences: Which Vacation Styles Are Your Favorites?

Travel Preferences: Which Vacation Styles Are Your Favorites?

Here at the Loftus Guides, we don’t like to generalize. From our experience, one size rarely fits all. Really, one size doesn’t even fit most. Everyone’s different, and whether we’re talking about your choice of dinner or your vacation destination, you shouldn’t put yourself in a box. And the same goes for travel preferences: everyone has their very own. This is the beauty of travel – to expand your horizons and experience a trip that you will remember for a lifetime.  

Choose a travel style that suits your preferences, passions and habits, and you’ll find your experience to be more relaxed, personal, and experiential. Here are some different travel styles you should consider! Which one suits you the best?

Small Group Travel

For some, touring around the world on a guided tour is the ideal way to travel. With built in structure and a whole new set of like-minded fellow travellers to get to know, small group tours are intimate but still highly social.

Great for: People who enjoy structure but aren’t afraid to make new friends!

Outdoor Travel

If you love getting lost in the majesty of nature (but hopefully not on the trail), you may be an environment-oriented traveller! This type of touring will take you to some of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights and remind you of your place in the ecosystem of our planet. These trips range from the rustic hiking tours across mountains and plains, to more easygoing trips that bring you to more easily accessible destinations.

Great for: People who love nature and own decent hiking boots.

outdoor travel

Thrill Hunter

If you love a good adventure, you may be among those who choose to approach their vacations as experimentation in the extraordinary. Why have an ordinary vacation when you can have a once in a lifetime experience? Sky diving, cliff jumping, zip lining, you name it, travelling for adventure is a surefire way to make memories you’ll never forget.

Great for: People who will try anything once and have an open mind!

cliff diving

City Stays

Urban environments are home to some of the best food, the coolest art, and the most diverse culture. You can have access to a huge range of activities without having to move hotels all the time. Galleries one day, flea markets the next; city touring is a great way to get an energetic sampling of everything.  

Great for: People who have a good grasp of public transport, a love of culture, and a thick skin.

Faith Based Exploration

For the modern pilgrim, visiting sites of religious importance can be an experience that touches every part of their life. Touring temples, churches, and religious historical sites can bring your faith to life and make your spirituality even richer and more personal.

Great for: People whwant to experience a religion with every sense they have!

faith-based travel

Volunteer-based

If you have a civic-minded heart, travelling to a destination and supporting a local community with sustainable volunteer work can combine a love of people with a love of seeing the world! Trips that focus on community development and assisting underserved communities can change you forever.

Great for: People who aren’t afraid to put their back into helping others.

Share with us which type (or types) or traveller you are!