The Amazon Basin is where the majority of people will say would be the best place to view the wildlife. Actually, you’re more likely to encounter these same animals in the Pantanal.

What is the Pantanal?
Considered the world’s largest freshwater wetlands, the Pantanal is a mosaic of rivers, lakes, swamps, and mudflats.

Where is the Pantanal located?
Although mostly in Brazil, the wetlands creep across the border into neighboring Paraguay and Bolivia — a total area nearly as large as the island of Great Britain or the state of Utah.

What animals are most often seen in The Pantanal?
Hands down, the Pantanal is the single best place on the planet for viewing jaguars in the wild. Among the region’s other intriguing species are giant anteaters, blue-and-gold hyacinth macaws, capybaras and tapirs, giant river otters, the rare and endangered maned wolf, massive anacondas and the ubiquitous caiman. A South American cousin of the crocodile, caiman are found in astounding numbers — an estimated 10 million.

Who are the cowboys of the Pantanal?
The pantaneiro — Cowboys that carry on a lifestyle that originated in the 1700s, when the Pantanal was settled by ranchers moving up from the Brazilian coast. Riding horses that have evolved adaptations for long hours of working in water, the pantaneiro manage herds of gray, humpbacked Brahmin cattle that often number into the thousands.

What are some local dishes I should try?
Two of the area’s cowboy culinary favorites are arroz de carreteiro or “oxcart rice” (a mixture of rice and beef jerky) and sopa paraguaya (a cake-like mixture of corn, cheese, onions and water similar to cornbread).

Do I need a visa to visit?
Yes, you will need both a travel visa and valid passport for this trip. Talk to us, we can help you with both!

China is a great destination for both business and tourism. If you’re taking the kids along, here’s a collection of tips to keep the traveling smooth.

1 – Make sure everyone’s passport is current
All family members need passports to travel to China. We can issue and renew passports for you. If you need your passport within 24 hours, we can handle that too.

2 – You’re going to need travel visas
No matter what type of travel you’re engaging in China, every member of your family will need a travel visa to enter the country. We can expedite your China visa and save you a trip to the embassy.

3- Timing is everything
Make sure that you’re planning your trip to China during a school break or other long break for your kids. Consequently, know when venues in China will be crowded because of Chinese holidays. School summer holidays (July and August), Labor Day (May 1–7), and National Day (October 1–7). Most famous attractions will be over-crowded with Chinese tourists during these holidays.

4- Plan kid-friendly activities
In Beijing, you can visit the Forbidden City, enjoy a rickshaw ride, or explore the Great Wall. Xi’an has the amazing terracotta army. Do a little research and you can find numerous things to do to keep the kids learning about China without a single boring moment.

5-Don’t drink the tap water
Avoid the tap water. If your kids have tummies that get upset easily, it’s a good idea to avoid the food from street vendors.

6-Keep an eye on your kids
Don’t let your kids go off alone, especially at tourist attractions. Some parents give their kids a note written in Chinese with their hotel information and mobile numbers just in case the kids get separated.

7- Souvenirs
Let your kids pick out souvenirs. It’s fun to shop for mementos and keepsakes to remember your family trip to China.

Ghana is a beautiful African country with a lot to see and do. Densely forested nature walks to gorgeous beaches – there’s a little something for everyone. The following are five fun ways to explore Ghana.

1. Go Shopping
There are numerous open air markets to shop at in Ghana. One of the best is the Kejetia Market in Kumasi. You can sample exotic foods, see arts and crafts, and browse vibrant displays of Kente cloth and Ashanti sandals. This is a great place to practice your bargaining skills with over 10,000 vendors. Want more of a “mall” experience? Accra has a large mall ready and waiting.

2. Experience Nature at Her Finest
Kakum National Park has lush forests and beautiful birds. Lake Bosumtwi is surrounded by picturesque mountains and usually isn’t too crowded.

3. Experience History
Ghana is filled with history. From Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle that stands as stark reminders of the horrors of the slave trade. These buildings were final destinations for captured Africans who became slaves in the New World. In the Asante Buildings, you can explore and learn the story of the Ashanti (Asante) Kings.

4. Go to the Beach
Bojo Beach in Accra is known for its breaking waves and beautiful views. Another great beach is Labadi Pleasure Beach also located in Accra.

5. Don’t Just Eat, Learn to Cook It
Anyone can go to another country and enjoy the food. At the Global Mamas Cultural Workshops in Cape Coast, Ghana, you can learn to cook Ghanaian cuisine. They also offer classes in dancing, drumming, batiking fabrics, and head wrapping.

When you’re ready to go, you’ll need a passport and visa, talk to us about expediting both and spend your free time planning your time in Ghana.

We can make getting your passport and travel visa a breeze when you want to visit Russia, but what about the trip itself? Need some ideas for where to go, what to see, and where to stay? No worries we have some ideas for you.

Travelata makes it simple to plan your trip to Russia on one single website. This online travel agency helps you find the perfect hotel or B&B to fit your wants and needs on your visit to Russia. Over 100 cities are currently covered with more added on a regular basis as the coverage expands. The company also has more than 25 brick and mortar locations across Russia, including an office in Siberia. This app is available for both iOS and Android devices.


Would you rather have someone else plan your trip to Russia for you? You need Sletat. This online travel agency covers about 80% of the country, so there will be a lot of options to pick and choose to your trip. Works for iOS and Android.


There are hundreds of stations that make up the Moscow network and getting around can feel overwhelming. A huge helper app is the Yandex app. This app has metro maps for St. Petersburg and Moscow and will help you navigate your way around. Best of all, it works offline as well as online.  Available for both iOS and Android.


Uber is a thing in Russia just like the U.S. and if you prefer to use it – great. If you’d rather go with a taxi service,  Gett will be your new best friend. You can have access to the taxis closest to you and schedule a ride. instead, and you’ll have a network of local taxis at your fingertips. Available for iOS and Android devices.

Learn Some Russian

Russian may seem overwhelming to learn, but pick up a few words to help you navigate. The Learn Russian app has over 10,000 flashcards to help you pick up useful words and phrases. Learn Russian is available for Android devices only.


Japan is a popular destination and for U.S. travelers, no visa is required for entry. Just a valid U.S. passport!

Here are some common questions about visiting Japan for the first time.

How long is the average stay for tourists in Japan? 
Most people tend to stay one to two weeks. Remember, you need 6 months beyond the expiration date of your passport when visiting Japan.

What are some of the main cities to explore?
Tokyo, of course. Kyoto, Nara, and Koya are all excellent places to immerse yourself in Japanese culture.

What is a good way to get around Japan?
Definitely, invest in a JR Pass. It will let you have unlimited train rides and that includes the bullet train anywhere around Japan.





Other than hotels what are good places to stay in?
Hostels are always great for keeping on a budget and meeting new people. AirBnB often has deals and there are guest houses you can rent

What about WiFi in Japan?
There is WiFi but finding it free is another story. Picking up a 3g hotspot device is worth the investment.

How can I renew my passport in a rush?
You can get your passport renewed quickly, start here.


Love sunny beaches? Beautiful ocean views, and puppies? You can have all three if you visit Potcake Place on the island of Providenciales, in Turks and Caicos. Visitors are welcome to not only play with the puppies, they can adopt a puppy free of charge. Donations are accepted to keep Potcake Place running.

There are anywhere from 50 to 70 rescues on the beach at a time, and the rescue adopts out around 500 dogs per year.

The dogs on the island are a mix of Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, and English Fox Terriers, and they grow to be about 45-50 pounds. The mix is called a “PotCake” explained on their site as, “Potcake is the name given to the dogs of the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos Islands. It came about because the locals fed the caked remains of the cooking pot to the dogs. As generations have passed, Potcakes have evolved into a breed which is extremely smart, loyal and loving.”

The Potcake Place site recommends you read about adopting and be ready to make a 10-15 year commitment to your new family member.

If you want to bring home the most unique souvenir ever from a vacation, this should be a destination for you.

If this sounds like a trip you’d love to take, talk to us about making sure your U.S. passport is ready to go.

No matter what the reason is that you need your passport, we can help you.


The number one reason people realize they suddenly need their passport, is the country they are about to visit needs to see that you have more more than 6 months left on your passport before it expires. If you have less than six months left until the expiration date, pretty much consider your passport expired.


You have choices for renewing your passport, changing the name on your passport, or even applying for your first-ever passport for yourself or a child in your family.
If you choose to go through the State Department – there are fees and the process can take on the average anywhere from four to seven weeks. This is exactly the reason it makes sense to outsource the processing of the paperwork to Texas Tower.

We can bring the standard time service for obtaining your passport down to 8-12 days.  If you need your passport on a rush basis, we can have your passport within 24-hours.

Read more about the types of passport situations we can assist you with at the Texas Tower Passport page.

Planning your first visit to China? Here are some tips to know to make your visit go smoothly.

Learn a Little Chinese
Most Chinese people learn English in primary grades. If you speak English clearly and slowly to someone in an urban area, chances are you will be understood. In the more rural areas, it might be difficult to find someone that speaks English. It’s good to learn some Mandarin phrases for basics you might need to ask about.

Make sure Beijing is on Your List of Destinations

2. Focus Your Tourist Destinations
This is not only the capital city of China, but you can see one of the eight Wonders of the World, The Great Wall. Check out the Forbidden City and see the Summer Palace.

3. Look at the Long-Range Weather Forecast Before You Go
China has the distinction of having the largest range of weather of any country on Earth. Because the weather can vary from region to region, look up the long term weather predictions where you plan to visit.

4. How to Shop in China

December is the prime time to score deals. With vendors, most prices are negotiable. Keep your cool, smile when you are bargaining and know not all price negotiations will be successful. Always act like the item isn’t very important and if you walk away, sometimes the vendor will follow you and accept your price.

5. Dining in China

One of the most interesting things about China is every region has a distinct style of cooking. Roast duck in Beijing, Shanghai has steamed pork buns you shouldn’t miss out on, and Guilin rice noodles are delicious.

Once you make your travel plans, talk to us about getting your passport and travel visa, we can make the process fast and easy.

Drone photography has become very popular, particularly for candid wildlife viewing. For every responsible drone operator, there suddenly appeared one that was irresponsible as heck. From breathtaking videos that didn’t disturb a herd of elephants quietly eating leaves turned into a frightened herd of wildebeest stopping their yearly migratory river crossing and abandoning calves at a riverbank with irresponsible drone operators buzzing their cameras over animals heads and frightening them.

Several countries in Africa have banned drones and imposed large fines on anyone using one, especially in national parks which are now considered no-fly zones.

Botswana and Kenya allow drones but only if you apply for a permit and your drone must not disturb the animals in any way or you may face fines and equipment seizure.

Many private reserves allow drones but you normally need to hire your own vehicle and you may not disturb the animals on the reserve or other guests. Most reserves require that if your drone crashes, you may not retrieve it.

Texas Tower processes U.S. passports and can obtain visas for African countries you may want to fly a drone in. Call us today to get started 713-874-1420.


Culture Tour Spotlight- Ghana (1)Instead of hitting the night spots, restaurants, and tourist traps around Accra and other Ghana cities, consider making at least one day a historical or cultural tour. Learning the history of a country is a great way to get to know the people and traditions.

Independence Square, Accra, Ghana photo credit: Rjruiziii
Independence Square, Accra, Ghana photo credit: Rjruiziii

One historical site to see in Accra is found at Independence Square (also known as Black Star Square), home of Independence Arch and the Flame of African Liberation where Dr. Nkrumah declared the independence of Ghana. Located nearby is the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial, the mausoleum of Ghana’s ͅfirst President. See items donated by the estate of Dr. Nkrumah as well as books he authored.

Okomfo Anokye's Sword
Okomfo Anokye’s Sword

Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Kingdom of Gold is another must-see. First, check out Manhiya Palace. The palace was built by the British in 1925 to receive Asantehene (ruler of the Ashanti people) Prempeh I when he returned from exile in the Seychelles to resume residence in Kumasi. This palace was actively used by Ashanti kings until 1974. It is now a museum of the Ashanti Kingdom. Nearby is a sword of legend, the Okomfo Anokye Sword. This sword marks the spot the Golden Stool descended from the sky and has been in place for three centuries. The legend says if the sword is removed, the Ashanti Kingdom will collapse.

Door of No Return
Door of No Return

Ghana was part of the journey for many captured Africans who were sold into the slave trade. Only now are they being honored. At Assin Manso, a burial site for two former slaves who died in the U.S. and Jamaica but were re-interred in August 1998 during Ghana’s first Emancipation Day Celebration. Also nearby is “Slave River” where captured Africans were washed before being confined in the Slave Castles to away shipment to the Caribbean and Americas.
One of these holding areas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, named Cape Coast Castle. You can see a slave castle that is still standing and this particular castle has the door nicknamed “Door of No Return” where slaves left but no one came back.

Kakum Canopy Walkway
Kakum Canopy Walkway

Take in a walking tour at Kakum National Park where you can learn how our ancestors lived in this area. Kakum has Africa’s only aerial walkway trough a tree canopy. The walkway is 1000 feet in length and has a 7-bridge walkway with viewing platforms that are 150-feet above the forest floor. See birds, butter͆ies, and see some of the 40 different species of mammals that reside in this forest, including the shy forest elephant.

What is your favorite destination in Ghana? Let us know on Facebook.