The Most Colorful Destinations In The World

There are many ways a place can delight the senses. The majestic height of a mountain. The power of a waterfall. The overpowering silence in the serenity of the wilderness. The raucous sounds of the jungle or an outdoor opera in a Roman amphitheater in Provence. But perhaps because it’s the most easily reproduced in the mind, the most indelible memories of all are the color of privileged moments in impossibly beautiful places. Waves crashing on shores sound the same everywhere. But the pristine blue and white of a beach on the Maldives shine forever. The fields of Lavender in Grasse do not need a photo to produce a fond recollection. Nor does the flaming orange sun melting into the Andaman Sea. It is not only natural phenomena that can take your breath away. The brilliant hues of the Sistine Chapel or the calliope of colors in the famous bazaars of Morocco never fade however old they become. No less a brand than the Smithsonian has diversified into a number of different revenue streams, including travel. Their stable of experts has designed tours on many different themes, one of which is The Most Colorful Destinations. None of the above are included, which, if nothing else, goes to show the Smithsonian experts don’t know everything. Doubtless, many of you will have other sites of color lodged in your hippocampus. No one is saying there are the only colorful places on Earth. But they make for a pretty good start.

10. Northern Lights, Thingvellir, Iceland

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The ghostly glow of the elusive aurora borealis have fascinated people for millennia. The celestial light show is caused by the collision of gas particles in the atmosphere. Named for the Roman Goddess of the Dawn, they can be best seen in remote northern locales, the renowned travel writer Bill Bryson chose Hammerfest Norway to see them recounts being bored stiff for days before he did. The Smithsonian picks Thingvellir, with its UNESCO World Heritage site National Park and ION Hotel with its neo-Scandinavian cuisine and more importantly, floor to ceiling windows in case of a sudden outburst in the sky. Seekers are at the mercy of weather not even all the Smithsonian experts in the world can control but prime time is said to be March-September.

9. Keukhenhof Gardens, Amsterdam, Holland

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The lovely myth about the origin of tulips is that they sprang from the Turkish steppes watered by the tears of a jilted lover. They originated there, were imported by the Danish Ambassador to Constantinople, and were the subject of the world’s first speculation bubble. The Dutch have raised them to an art form and Keukenhoff’s seven million, multi-hued blooms are rightly called The Greatest Flower Show on Earth.” New strains are bred every year and there are orchids, roses, lilies, and other blooms on display in the idyllic 79-acre park complete with ponds, streams, and landscaped pathways. It dates from the 15th-century herb garden tended by a countess in a nearby castle. A truly intoxicating experience for memorable sights and scents. A feast for the eyes and nose sounded a little clunky, don’t you think?

8. Cinque Terre, Italy

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Imagine a Friendly Italian Giant with a basket of gelato colored houses sprinkled the perch impossibly on the sheer cliffs of an ancient blue sea. That would be Cinque Terre (CHINK-way TERE-ah) or Five Lands, 5 fishing villages really dating from the 7th century until modern times linked only by the sea and a narrow footpath which makes a lovely hike for the many tourists who seek the place’s colorful charm and quiet. There is a train but no cars. High up the thigh of the Italian boot in the west coast region of Liguria which also gave the world pesto. Monterosso is the oldest and biggest, Vernazza the prettiest. The trail isn’t climbing Everest but it’s no walk in the park either with lots of ups and downs. A short boat ride south lies Portovenere with the same style of colorful building but a few stories higher than those of Cinque Terre.

7. Ngorongoro, Tanzania 

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The size and diversity of the herds who make the Great migration to this conservation area are staggering. Millions of wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, and Cape buffalo with lions, leopards, and cheetahs on the heels move to summer feeding grounds in the Tanzanian grasslands. The Ngorongoro (Masaai “Gift of Life”) Crater is a sanctuary for a wide variety of animals, birds of all kinds of sport, stripes, and hues, set with the rich colorful flora of the savannah and forests 2000 feet below the plain. Watch for the rare black rhinoceros and witness the splash of pink of flamingos, the golden straw-colored bristles on crowned cranes, the ostrich feathers that were once the height of fashion for European women. Even the traditional clothing of the Maasi appear to be in full bloom. An entire ecosystem like no other.

6. Monteverde, Costa Rica

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Another stunning, stellar ecotourism destination. Pound for pound acre for acre, few places offer more exotic biodiversity and natural beauty than Cost Rica. The Biological Reserve is a gorgeous cloud forest. A rich green canopy itself covered in mist sheltering a pristine paradise for birders and floraphiles. The Smithsonian itinerary says to expect to me “100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds (including 30 kinds of hummingbirds), and 2,500 species of plants (including 420 kinds of orchids), including the fascinating transparent Glasswing butterfly and the almost mythical brilliantly plumed resplendent quetzal. The quetzal was considered sacred in some Central American cultures. Though it sings and flies poorly, Mayan legend holds that the bird once sang with aching beauty but went silent at the brutal Spanish conquest of the 16th century. It prophesied the singing would resume when the land and people regain their complete freedom.

5. Forbidden City, Beijing

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Though it may seem overmatched by transparent butterflies and Dutch tulips, the Forbidden City’s distinctive yellow roof tiles and iconic architecture are a fac9nating study in the historical and cultural significance of color. It lives on in one of the most relentlessly urbanizing cities anywhere, the largest surviving enclave of ancient wooden structures in the world a miracle that it still stands. Forbidden because no one was allowed to come or go without the express permission of the Emperor. The Yellow is in fact the color reserved for the Emperors’ buildings and clothes dating back to the Tang Dynasty of the 7th century. Red is the symbol of good fortune and despite the unspeakable horrors leaders have inflicted on their people, no other colorful setting is so deeply entrenched in a peoples’ ethos.

4. Machu Picchu, Peru

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There may be no more compelling sight to be had in this lifetime than dawn over the long-abandoned, still mysterious Incan site of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes with a foreboding grey sky and the Andean peaks as background. The United Nations Educational, Scientific Cultural Organization calls it “an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization.” Built by 1450, abandoned a century later, and undiscovered by Europeans in 1911The green of the land with the color of ancient stone set in an altitude in which hotels offer complimentary oxygen is like a Sistine Chapel in the sky.

3. Jatiluwih, Indonesia

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The color green is most often associated with Ireland. But that is with respect to a Eurocentric view. There may be no greener place on earth than the spectacular terraced rice fields of Bali. In Bali rice is not just another carb. It is a gift from the Gods and treated with great reverence. The Jatiluiwih fields are unforgettable, faultlessly manicured, bursting tropical green irrigated by the water by a lake so sacred, that even thinking, swimming or boating is sacrilegious.

2. Strasbourg, France

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Actually this lovely old city, now the capital of the European Union is the culmination of a cruise along the Rhine and Mosel Rivers which includes Christmas markets in beautiful historic towns such as Koblenz and Bernkastel. Strasbourg’s city center is yet another UNESCO Heritage Site and home to “Christkindelsmärik”, France’s oldest and Europe’s largest holiday market, dating from 1570. The decorated late Renaissance-era buildings are unforgettable with the backdrop of Notre Dame Cathedral recalling centuries-old celebrations. Stalls offer locally crafted Christmas artifacts as well as delicious food and wine from one of the great culinary capitals of the world. A splendid colorful gourmet Christmas with legendary Alsatian wines without the December deepfreeze. Strasbourg’s average temperature at that time of year is 37 Fahrenheit. A feast for the eyes and palate of any faith.

1. The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

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A teeming self-contained ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest in the world. Home to a kaleidoscope of the brilliantly colored underwater life of fish, turtles, and the coral of the Reef itself.  Especially worthy of the top spot here because it sadly ranks highly as one of the most threatened by climate change. An incredible 1600 miles of coral, it is a staggering thought that this is the largest structure in the world created and inhabited by living organisms. From the smallest tropically colored fish the whales and dolphins, it could very well be Mother Nature’s most sublimely rendered palette of color. It has been compared to a rainforest of the sea.

The World’s Most Spectacular and Unique Picnic Spots

There are few more idyllic, memorable, budget-friendly activities than enjoying an outdoor picnic. Whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic spot to nosh wine and cheese, a family looking for a day outing, or a big group planning an event or reunion, there are loads of spots that will enhance the overall features with scenery, amenities and unique features built right into the setting. And there are many who agree that food just taste better outside.

1. Irvine Regional Park, CA

Located in Orange, CA, Irvine Regional Park is a mecca for family fun that includes a picnic. In addition to numerous picnic tables and outdoor grills, there is a host of activities to partake in after you’ve finished your potato salad. There are bike trails (bike rentals available), equestrian trails, pony rides, paddleboats and fishing. There is even a train that the family can hop on for a ride across the park, as well as a zoo.

2. Huayna Picchu, Peru

Looking for a picnic perch with a view? You can’t get much better than spreading your blanket out atop Huayna Picchu in Peru, breaking your bread and taking into the vistas out and below. At an elevation of 9,000 ft., stopping atop this mountain after a reportedly grueling hike- not only gives you a chance to rest and refuel your body after the hike, but a chance to refresh your soul as well, with a stunning panorama of the 15th century ruins of Machu Piccu, including the Urubamba River Valley and the iconic city of Inca.

3. Gatineau Park, QC

Gatineau Park, located just outside of Ottawa, ON has 5 different picnic areas within their network of parks. The park is very popular with mountain bikers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Charcoal BBQs are available at various locations throughout the parks, as well as lots of picnic tables. The Etienne Brule Lookout is a popular picnic spot and offers fantastic views of the Ottawa River and connects to hiking and biking trails.

4. Grand Canyon South Rim, AZ

You’ve heard of dinner and a show? How about lunch and a view? And as views go, you can’t replicate the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon National Park at the South Rim has over 300 miles of trails to wander, take in this wonder of the world. Desert View Drive, which winds along the south rim of the Canyon leads to the Desert View Watchtower. Along this road are several lookout points and picnic areas. If you’re looking to extend your stay and camp, reservations are highly recommended. There are three campgrounds at the South Rim, including tent sites that can accommodate up to 50 people and three vehicles- so if your picnic plans are for a large group or reunion- this is a good spot for you.

5. Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park, Bristol UK

This fun park expands over 50 acres along the River Avon and has loads of family activities, including a petting zoo, mazes, a toddler village, and indoor and outdoor play areas. The park offers a “Riverside Experience” with miles of trails to follow along the river, providing idyllic picnic spots along the way.

6. Shannon Falls Provincial Park, B.C.

In Squamish B.C., Shannon Falls cascade down over Howe Sound, and are the third tallest falls in British Columbia. A meandering trail through the forest will get you down to the base of the falls- which is where you’ll want to head for photo ops and great views. If you feel like a longer hike, this trail hooks into the Stawamus Trail, which spreads its way out to three different summits. Shannon Falls Provincial Park is well-equipped for picnickers with a concession stand and picnic area located next to the parking lot. This area is for day-use only, making it ideal for a daytime hike and picnic to take in the views.

7. Villa Borghese Park, Rome

Villa Borghese is Rome’s answer to New York’s Central Park, with vast amounts of green space, walking trails and ponds. This park spreads out over 226 acres, and is populated with statues, museums, fountains, theatres and a zoo. There is a wide patchwork of lush, idyllic gardens in which to stop and smell the roses- literally. There are lots of grassy patches under trees to spread out your blanket and feast on your Italian picnic basket. Afterwards you can wander to one of the many man-made lakes and feed the ducks.

Choquequirao – Cool Facts About Peru’s Other Lost City

10. Introducing Choquequirao

Choquequirao: sister of Machu Picchu, the golden cradle, keeper of many secrets. This monumental site built by the Inca’s holds many secrets as archeologists have barely scratched the surface of what lays hidden beneath the earth.

Choquequirao is located on the spurs of the Wilkapampa mountain range in the La Convención Province in the northwestern part of the Cusco region and was first discovered in 1710 by Spanish explorer Juan Arias Diaz. Over 250 years later in 1970 excavations began and to date only 1/3 of this site has been explored, leaving much to be discovered.

9. The History of Choquequirao

Choquequirao is often considered the twin of Machu Picchu, for the resemblance they have to one another in terms of architecture and structure. The history of Choquequirao is widely speculated and with only 1/3 of the site excavated, it’s only theories that exist about this incredible set of ruins. The first theory is that the city was built as a royal estate by Tupa Inca, the tenth ruler of the Inca Empire who lived during the latter half of the 15th century.

It is said that Tupa Inca intended to build a city similar in location and design to Machu Picchu, which is said to have been built by his father and predecessor, Pachacuti. Another theory states that Choquequirao was built around the same time as Machu Picchu, and its construction was commissioned by Pachacuti, rather than by his successor.

8. Evidence of Tupa Inca

Choquequirao is located in the area considered to be Pachacuti’s estate and the architectural style of several important features appears to be of Chachapoya design, suggesting that Chachapoya workers were probably involved in the construction which means Tupa Inca probably ordered the construction. Confusing, we know.

To further back up this claim, colonial documents also suggest that Tupa Inca ruled Choquequirao since his great-grandson, Tupa Sayri, claimed ownership of the site and neighboring lands during Spanish colonization.

7. Choquequirao’s Importance

There is something that all experts agree on though and that is that Choquequirao was most likely one of the entrance checkpoints to the Vilcabamba, one of the most important valleys in the perimeter. It most likely served as an administrative hub serving political, social and economic functions.

It is no doubt that the city also played an important role as a link between the Amazon Jungle and the city of Cusco. It has also been widely speculated that Choquequirao provided a seasonal pilgrimage destination for regional state-sponsored ceremonial events. And going one step further there is evidence to suggest that Choquequirao was also an important center for the cultivation and distribution of coca.

6. The Layout

Architecturally this city is very similar to Machu Picchu and laid out over six square kilometers. There are two plazas along the crest of the ridge that follow Inca urban design and host main structures such as temples, elite residences, and fountain and bath systems. The complex of the city is divided into 12 sectors, with different contents in each but it seems most of the buildings were used for one of three things; ceremonial purposes, residences of the priests, or used to store food.

5. Excavations

The recent excavation of Choquequirao has further revealed the skill of the Inca engineers. Everything here was built with great precision and attention to detail. The wealthy residents of the city built houses with towering double doors, the water fountains were made with large rocks as to not wear quickly and flat slabs were created under windows in order to store food. Most buildings are well-preserved and well-restored, making it an absolutely beautiful place to visit.

4. Unique Features

There are a couple of significant and interesting features of these ruins. On a set of terraces down the stairway of the main plaza, there is unique art. The builders of the city decorated each terrace with white rocks in the shape of either llamas or alpacas, now thought to pay tribute to this animal as they were used to transport food and supplies.

There are also two unusual sacred temple sites that lie below the two plazas. They are step terraces that have been designed around water, leading experts to believe that water played an important factor in this city.

3. Day 1 of “The Trek”

Getting here to discover this ancient city is the hard part, and the trek is considered one of the hardest in Peru. It’s no surprise that during high season when Machu Picchu is seeing 2,500 visitors a day, Choquequirao is seeing 30 people. From the starting point at the village to the ruins and back this trek is a whopping 46 miles, and that doesn’t take into account the elevation changes.

On the first day it’s an 18km walk to Capuliyoc Mountain, then down to Playa Rosalinas, where travelers camp for the night. The trail drops 6,000 feet to the floor of the Apurímac River valley during that first day. If you choose to travel alone make sure you have money for the two different access fees along the trail. It is possible to travel there without a guide, just make sure to brush up on your Spanish.

2. Day 2 of “The Trek”

Day two is when it gets really intense, as trekkers then have to cross the Apurímac River and traverse 8km of grueling uphill switchbacks to reach the campsite close to the ruins. Here some people continue on the extra 2km to reach the ruins, 3,100m above sea level but most spend the night at the campground. In the morning, refreshed, it’s a 2km hike up to the ruins themselves.

Most guided tours take anywhere from 4-7 days to complete this trek as getting home is just as hard as getting there. What you will be rewarded with though is sweeping mountains views at every turn, lush wilderness, untouched ruins and the place to yourself. This is not a tourist destination, yet and besides a couple more travelers who have made the same journey you have and a few excavation workers, the ruins are yours to explore.

1. The Future

Although the ruins are deserted now, they may not stay that way forever. In August 2014 completion of the Puente Rosalina bridge, which spans the Apurímac River made it that much easier for people to visit. Now tour operators can easily cross the bridge on horseback, instead of using a hand pulley system to transport them across the river one by one or hiring another set of horses to be waiting on the other side.

Campsite owners say the number of travelers has increased since the completion of the bridge. Officials also have a plan in motion to construct a cable ride that would shorten the journey from a multi-day trek into a short 15-minute cable car ride. The timeline for the cable car has already been pushed back twice, and the bridge took an extra four years to construct so chances are we won’t be seeing it anytime soon. One thing remains certain though, Choquequirao remains so spectacular because of how untouched they are and we secretly wish they would stay that way.

 

The World’s Scariest Stairs

Stairways have the ability to be beautiful, graceful and elegant but not all stairs are created equally. There are hundreds of thousands of staircases around the world that are downright scary, for many different reasons. Some have caused death, many are falling apart and others lead to eerie experiences. From the depths of Paris to the peaks in Yosemite to the tops of temples; here are 12 of the world’s scariest staircases.

12. Inca Stairs, Peru

The Inca Stairs leads up to one of the most famous photographed peaks, carved into the side of Huayna Picchu and they are among the scariest stairs in the world. If you want to ascend these stairs you will have to be one of the first 400 visitors to the ruins, as in recent years the park has capped the number of climbers.

A total of about 600 feet of steep granite rocks create the stairs and in recent years metal chains have been added to some parts that are especially dangerous. The stairs lead to the Moon Temple, one of the least visited worship places in Machu Picchu and many do not make it all the way up them as they are that scary. The views from the top are surreal, overlooking the Urubamba River and the ruins below.

11. Moaning Cavern Stairs, California, USA

The bones of approximately 100 prehistoric humans were once found at the bottom of these stairs, in this largest single-chamber public cave in California. In order to reach this cave, that is big enough to fit the Statue of Liberty in, climbers must descend 235 stairs, 144 of which are on a spiral staircase.

This damp cave is known for its eeriness, sounds of moaning and wailing are often heard as visitors make their way down. Back in the early 1900’s before the stairs were built visitors were actually lowered into the cavern in buckets with only candles or whale oil lamps to light the way. The history of this place, along with the creepy sounds will surely make the hair on the back of your neck stand straight up.

Via Pintrest

10. Cape Horn Stairs, Chile

Cape Horn is known as the last piece of land on earth before Antarctica and this tiny little piece of land is visited by few people. Most people come here to visit the Albatross Monument, a monument dedicated to the thousands of sailors that lost their lives in the treacherous seas. To climb these stairs you must first be able to get here, a harrowing thought considering only seven cruise ships disembark at the Island.

Grab your rain gear and some water as you land on the island to face 162 slippery ocean sprayed stairs. By the time you reach the top you will most likely be soaked, cold and wind whipped. The hardest part of the stairs comes at the top when the stairs flatten into tiers of wooden boardwalk, slippery, soaked and covered in mist. The reward when you climb these stairs is access to a place that few ever get to visit.

9. Sagrada Familia, Spain

It was clear when architects built this Roman Catholic Church they did not consider the number of people who would be coming here to worship. Gaudi has envisioned a forest canopy when designing the rooftop here but didn’t quite think of what the stairs would look like when more and more people came.

The spiral staircase to the top is downright scary, void of any banisters or handrails. It coils high and long against the tightly enclosed walls and at anytime hordes of people are trying to ascend and descend. Many people avoid this church simply because of the stairs and if you think are brave enough to challenge it, don’t say we didn’t warn you.

8. Flørli Stairs, Norway

These stairs pride themselves on being the longest wooden staircase on earth, made up of 4,444 steps that ascend 2,427 feet from the bottom. They start at the edge of Lysefjord and run to the top of the mountain in the small village of Flørli. The stairs run alongside the former water pipes as the now abandoned village of Flørli used to be a power plant village.

The stairs seemingly cling to the side of the mountain and provide breathtaking views all the way up. Count on questioning every creak you hear as you ascend up as these stairs, as they are both old and noisy, due in large part to the fact they are wooden. The hike up will take you anywhere from 3-5 hours and at the top, you will be rewarded with fantastic views and a history lesson from the historic hydropower hall that still exists.

Via Pulpit Rock Experience

7. Angkor Wat Temple Stairs, Cambodia

These stairs were supposedly created to be steep, in order to remind climbers that heaven is hard to reach. Therefore it seems there is no shame in hanging your head, dropping down to your hands and knees or pulling yourself up with the ropes provided to reach the uppermost temples. The stairs are actually inclined at a 70 degree angle and are known to be some of the steepest stairs in the world.

Many people have actually spoken out about these stairs, proclaiming that it’s not right to have tempting stairs in a worship area. Take extreme caution if you choose to climb these stairs as one missed step can lead to you tumbling down them, sure to cause injury and maybe even death.

6. Half Dome Stairs, California, USA

Located in Yosemite National Park, these next stairs lead up to the most iconic peak in Yosemite Valley but getting up here is only possible for about 400 people a day. Snag one of these hard to get permits between Memorial Day and October to attempt this gruesome seven mile all-incline hike. What awaits climbers is a climb up a rock face along a cable ladder, for more than 400 vertical feet. It is absolutely essential that climbers check the weather forecast before attempting this hike as people have fallen to their death.

Proper footwear and gear is a necessity and be aware that if you try and climb these stairs without a permit, you will face possible jail time and fines. Hikers will be rewarded at the top with incredible panoramic views of the Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra.

5. Catacombs, Paris

Most everyone has heard of the Catacombs, the home of the remains of more than six million people, and if visiting isn’t scary enough, one has to contend with the creepy staircases. To reach the actual catacombs visitors will have to descend 130 steps, a narrow spiral stone staircase that leaves many claustrophobic. The sun and light quickly fade away as you descend into the darkness where bones and skulls await.

There is another set of stairs that await visitors on the way out, this one made up of only 83 stairs and most people ascend them quickly, wanting to get back into the fresh air and sunlight. A dizzying spiral staircase leading to rooms of bones; yup we think that qualifies as one of the scariest sets of stairs in the world.

4. Taihang Mountains Spiral Staircase, China

Far southwest of Beijing is a 300-foot tall spiral staircase that draws visitors from all over the world. That, in fact, was the goal of this incredible staircase when it was built, to encourage visitors to come to the Taihang Mountains in Linzhou. This so called “Stairway to Heaven” is built right on the side of the mountain and offers incredible views. But not just anyone is allowed to climb this staircase.

All potential climbers here have to sign a form stating that they have no heart or lung problems and that they are under 60 years of age. Looking more like a beanstalk, this dizzying staircase is not meant for the weak and visitors who plan on going on should be in good shape. No one quite knows what will happen if you lie about your age, but we suggest sticking to the rules and getting here before you turn 60.

Via Daily Mail

3. Pailon del Diablo Waterfall, Ecuador

Translate the name of this waterfall into English and you get “The Devil’s Cauldron”, therefore it should come as no surprise that these stairs are extremely scary! They were built to blend into the landscape and at first glance, you won’t even notice them but be aware, these steps can play tricks on you. The steps themselves are made out of smooth, oversize pebbles that become slippery from the mist of the waterfalls and offer extremely little traction.

When looking down at them they create an illusion of a slippery stone slide and the chance of falling off is high. For those of you who want something to hold onto, there is a metal railing that runs the length of the stairs. Don’t depend too much on it though, it gets slippery from all the water droplets and some say it’s really not that sturdy. The view of the waterfall from the top though is totally worth trekking up and down these stairs.

2. Haiku Stairs, Oahu, Hawaii

These stairs are actually so scary that they have been banned, as in no one is allowed to use them anymore. This rickety set of 3,922 stairs lead half a mile up Oahu’s Koolau Mountain Range. These stairs were actually contrasted in 1942 by the U.S Navy as a means to install communication wires and were nicknamed the “Highway to Heaven”. Daredevil hikers quickly discovered them after WWII and started to climb them for their absolutely incredible views.

In the 1980’s the stairs were officially closed to the public due to safety reasons, although many chose to ignore it and still climbed them. Nowadays there is a guard placed at the bottom of the stairs and many of them were destroyed when a storm blew through in 2015. It is unsure what the future of these stairs is, but if they ever happen to reopen we suggest tackling them, as even though they are scary, the views are beyond words.

1. Mount Huashan Heavenly Stairs, China

It is considered one of the most dangerous walks in the world and although the name deceives you with the word “heaven”, these stairs are more like hell. No one in history has actually even counted the number of steps, perhaps they lost count as they peered over the edge and were faced with a deathly drop. The stairs are carved into a sacred Taoist mountain and go so high up into the mountainside you lose track of them.

The side stone steps are supported by a single railing in which many trekkers hang on to as they ascend up. Unfortunately, if you thought these steps were the most dangerous part, you would be wrong. What awaits climbers after these steps is a trail known as the most dangerous on earth, a horizontal walkway consisting of planks fastened to the side of the mountain with just a single chain.

Via The Beauty of Travel

The Top Destinations Being Destroyed By Tourism

More people than ever before in history are exploring beyond the boundaries of their own country to take in the incredible beauty the world has to offer. In fact, tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, with over 1.1 billion people traveling internationally in 2015 alone!

While travel certainly has many economic benefits, such as providing people with jobs, it also has some negative impacts as well. For these 10 natural wonders and historic sites, the swell of tourists has begun to threaten their long-term preservation. If we’re not careful, we could destroy these precious places for good.

10. Venice, Italy

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It’s no secret that Venice is sinking, and the hordes of tourists that flock there each year certainly aren’t helping. During peak season, the picturesque floating city can see upwards of 80,000 tourists per day, making it so overcrowded that some of the main tourist attractions become inaccessible. And many of these tourists are brought to the city by cruise ships, whose traffic threatens the waterways and historic areas they travel through.

9. Great Pyramids, Egypt

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Of the original Seven Wonders of the World, only the Great Pyramid of Giza remains. At the current rate of deterioration, however, it—along with the Sphinx other pyramids at the historic site—may not be around for much longer. Many decades of mass tourism to this area of Egypt has led to irreparable damage to these ancient structures, and any attempt to restore them has only led to further destruction.

8. Roman Colosseum, Italy

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The grandeur of Rome’s Colosseum is certainly not what it was when it opened in the year 80 AD. Almost 2,000 years of wear and tear has not been kind to the structure, nor have tourists, who have been caught moving or stealing stones and graffiting the remaining pillars. Although the site is now mainly piles of broken stone, it is a historic site from which there is still much to be learned and needs to be preserved and respected as such.

7. Stonehenge, United Kingdom

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The still-unexplained phenomenon that is Stonehenge draws many thousands of tourists each year. They have, unfortunately, caused quite a bit of damage to the prehistoric stones by chipping away at them, and restoration attempts have not returned them to historical accuracy. Several busy roadways that are located in close proximity also threaten the area.

6. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

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Proudly displayed on Cambodia’s flag, this ancient temple boasts classical style Khmer architecture and is one of the country’s top attractions. While money from tourism is used to restore the structure, it is one of the leading causes of its damage. Not just from foot traffic either; graffiti has been found on many of the walls. Unless the government takes action to limit tourist traffic, this World Heritage site could be destroyed beyond repair.

5. Antarctica

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This once-remote location is no longer quite so. The rise in cruise ship traffic has increased water pollution, threatening the continent’s coastline and the species that inhabit it. Fortunately, the Antarctic Treaty has limited the number of people on-shore to 100 at a time, and ships that carry more than 500 passengers are not allowed at any of the landing sites.

4. Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

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Since being featured as a private paradise in the 2000 film The Beach, the Phi Phi islands of Thailand have become a bucket list destination for many. The pristine beaches and clear water of these virgin islands may not last for much longer, however, as the rise in tourism has attracted resort developers. It seems as though Thailand is serious about preserving their land though, as another popular tourist island, Koh Tachai, was recently closed indefinitely to tourists in order to allow the environment to rehabilitate.

3. Great Wall of China

Photo By: Shutterstock

Although it once stretched more than 5,000 miles, over the years approximately two thirds of the Great Wall of China has been destroyed. This is largely due to the thousands of tourists that walk, vandalize and graffiti it each year, but also because of environmental erosion and sections being torn down to make way for development. A lack of government funding for protection of the Great Wall mean these factors will continue to threaten it in future.

2. Machu Picchu, Peru

Photo By: Shutterstock

Located high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, the ancient Inca village of Machu Picchu is truly a sight to behold. It’s no wonder it tops many people’s bucket lists. But such a massive influx of visitors has threatened the preservation of this ancient archaeology; UNESCO has even considered placing it on their list of World Heritage in Danger. The country’s government currently limits the number of tourists to 2,500 per day, but even that may be too many to prevent irreparable damage.

1. Galapagos Islands

Photos By: Shutterstock

The incredibly diverse ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands is what helped Charles Darwin develop his Theory of Natural Selection, but it is incredibly fragile to outside influence. So much so, that UNESCO placed the location on its World Heritage in Danger list in 2007. In order to preserve the land and its wildlife, many tourist restrictions have been put in place—including the requirement that a licensed guide accompany all visitors of Galapagos National Park.

7 Trips Perfect for Taking in Your 20s

Age is just a mind set but your body, on the other hand, can deal out something a little less easygoing than attitude when you start getting up in numbers. While there’s really no ideal age to get up and take a crack at some of the world’s most adventurous destinations, tackling some of the following trips can be a lot easier in your 20s than in later years, especially when you might have a family in tow. Being single, young, and without boatloads of responsibility makes these endeavors some of the best to take in your 20s.

7. Mountain Bike Lake Tahoe’s Rim Trail

Encircling North America’s biggest alpine lake, Tahoe Rim Trail spans more than 260 kilometers and offers some of the best vistas from any single track. With more than 128 kilometers open to mountain bikers, Tahoe Rim Trail presents an epic ride with the track between Spooner Summit and Tahoe Meadows one of the best riding trails in the country. Bring your A-game here, where fast descents and gritty, skyward climbs bring a heart to the brink while offering rewards of spectacular Nevada desert views. Beginning at Spooner Lake campground, ride nine miles until splitting off to adjacent Flume Trail, a 35 kilometer run which technically isn’t part of the trail but is the Rim’s signature ride. When the lake comes in to view, the scene is breathtaking–keep your eyes on the single track though and stop to let them wander across the great landscape.

Lake Tahoe’s Rim Trail

6. Explore Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

On Namibia’s North Atlantic Ocean coastline is the Skeleton Coast, referred to by the Portuguese as The Gates of Hell and by Namibia’s bushmen as The Land God Made in Anger. The name stems from the book Skeleton Coast, written by John Henry March in 1944. It chronicled the Dunedin Star shipwreck of 1942, just one of many floundering off the Namib Desert Coast for the treacherous, rocky conditions. The landscape is barren, desolate, and stories abound of seafarers wandering endlessly in search of water and food. If you’re not a sailor, you’ve got nothing to worry about, only a surreal environment best known for the scattered bones of seals and whales, and possibly even a few ancient human remains. The Skeleton Coast is one of the most remote areas in southern Africa. Adventure tours take groups through, exploring the world’s biggest sand dunes, tracking endangered Black Rhinos and elephants on foot through the desert, and meeting Namibia’s indigenous tribes.

Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

5. Climb Huayna Potosi, Bolivia

A mountain climbing trip in your 20s is somewhat a rite of passage so why not aim for Bolivia’s Huayna Potosi, a 20,000-foot high mountain surpassing all the U.S.A’s highest peaks by at least a mile. Huayna Potosi is in Cordilla Real and though to climb it you’ll need ice axes and crampons, you won’t need any other technical experience, just basic equipment. Choose one of dozens of guided trips to Potosi in Paz, where you can’t pass a door front without someone shouting a climbing deal at you. The most common route is a no-nonsense glacier ascent. The first day is usually spent setting up camp, hiking to the glacier base, and practicing a variety of techniques, from walking to rescue. Day two is go time, but it’s on day three, when the peak is reached that the rewards are reaped with astonishing views of La Paz, Lake Titicaca, jungle valleys, and the entire Cordillera Real expanse.

Huayna Potosi, Bolivia

4. Yacht Week

Yacht Week requires no special skills–there are no glaciers to scale, mountain bikes to ride, or anything that takes more than just having a good time. Yacht Week is a seven-day adventure aboard a luxury yacht, hanging out in the trendiest spots, and exploring the best place to get a tan. It’s really quite perfect for anyone in their 20s. First, you choose a destination: Croatia, the British Virgin Islands, Italy, Greece, or Thailand. Next you choose a yacht type and then begin the journey with a boatload of friends and international personalities. On each of the seven days, a new destination is reached, with up to 20 yachts in tow, and every night, all the Yacht Week people party together at exclusive events. You don’t even need to know how to sail, though bonus points if you do because you won’t have to pay for a skipper.

Photo by: The Yacht Week
Photo by: The Yacht Week

3. Burning Man, Black Rock Desert, Nevada

Started in 1986 by two friends who burned an effigy on a beach during the Summer Solstice, Burning Man has grown through the years to become one of the biggest and most unique events in the United States, from a mere few hundred people throughout the 1980s to more than 60,000 people in 2015. The event is based on ten specific principles.“Burners” are inspired by the values echoed through these principles and endeavor to pursue a more connected and creative existence. How this is actually achieved is what’s so incredible about Burning Man. Tens of thousands of people gather to create “Black Rock City,” a makeshift society solely based on self-reliance, art, and self-expression. Each year there is an annual art theme, scores of special events, creative circles, and of course, the burning of the man on the final day within the temporary community. This is the place to completely let go of inhibitions.

burning man

2. Motorbike through Vietnam Highlands

Riding a motorcycle through Vietnam isn’t an act of madness, nor one of bravery. Vietnam’s cities do have some crazy, hard-to-manage roads but all you really have to know is how to cross a road in the country and the motorcycle part all slips into place. If there’s a gap in the road, traffic will swarm there. Once you learn that, and how to take it slow, everything is so much less daunting. One great route is to begin in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), explore the Mekong Delta via a boat ride, and continue on through the Vietnamese highlands by motorcycle. Make your way up and down the gorgeous countryside, stay in friendly, traditional villages, and meet like-minded people en route. Independent travelers can rent or buy a motorbike easily (if you buy one, it’s no different than haggling over a used car and you can easily offload it on another potential sightseer, often for what you paid).

Motorbike  Vietnam Highlands

1. Trek to Machu Picchu via the Sacred Valley

If pleasantly meandering, centuries-old trekking paths between traditional Peruvian villages sounds good, read on. If you’re yearning for a look at the alpine ruins of Machu Picchu, taking the alternative hiking route through the stunning Sacred Valley is the way to go. Yes, the Inca Trail is a classic and it’s definitely an incredible route but today, with no independent treks permitted, all you’ll see is mostly large groups of tourists ambling their way forward, with porters lugging their gear. But where the Inca Trail is a solid four to five day hike, the path through the Sacred Valley is ten, with about six hours of solid hiking each day at altitudes crossing mountain passes at well over 13,000 feet. Though it sounds a little rough, it’s a beautiful walk for anyone even moderately fit. The best part is the chance to explore and visit the village of Cachiccata and many other small, Peruvian alpine villages.

Machu Picchu  Sacred Valley

8 Ways to Explore the Mighty Amazon River

The diversity and unrivaled size of the Amazon basin is a wonder adventure travelers flock to for experiencing the incredible ecosystem and boundless opportunity for exploration. Larger than India, the basin stretches over eight countries, offering more subtle joys than grandiose expectations: quiet, riverside villages, haunting cries of howler monkeys, and the silent but mighty movement of the river itself. This springboard to almost 30% of the word’s species provides a look at astounding bio-diversity and though unexpected surprises are possible, it’s the sheer breadth of the backdrop that’s most impressive.

8. White Water Rafting

The largest section of the Amazon River flows through Brazil just below the equator: the river runs east to west, crosses into Peru, and features tributaries throughout Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia. Immense amounts of water cascade from the Andes into flourishing Amazon canyons, crating exhilarating white water rafting experiences. The Amazon delivers exciting journeys spanning a day or two to three weeks and more with options for different ability levels. A four-day journey along the Rio Apurímac starts near Lima, Peru: the river carves through 9,000-foot deep canyons then unwaveringly descends into broad, bucolic valleys and lush Amazon rainforests. Adrenaline junkies might prefer a 12-day jaunt along the Tambopata River beginning north on the Lake Titicaca shoreline in Puno in Peru’s high plains. Riverside camping, and wildlife viewing (parrots, monkeys, alligators, tapirs, and more) are part of this intoxicating adventure.

Photo by: Ecuador and More
Photo by: Ecuador and More

7. Canopy Tours

Where primates effortlessly glide through forest canopies, navigating the trees has become a long lost skill among people today. Thankfully some innovative and ambitious entrepreneurs have allowed us to reclaim some of that lush domain and take the trees via zip-line and canopy tours, and what better place to experience the joy of careening over the jungle than in the Amazon basin. This incredible perspective offers a close look at wildlife whose habitats would otherwise be completely shrouded. These tours are also environmentally friendly, eliminating the need for disrupting habitats while trekking through undisturbed forest areas. This eco-friendly activity involves gliding nimbly amid treetops from platform to platform, gaining speeds of around 30 kilometers, hitting both penchants for raising adrenaline and exploring the Amazon’s ecosystem without disturbing animals and plant life. There are opportunities in each country in the basin to arrange zip-lining and canopy tours.

Zipline jungle

6. Wildlife Sanctuary Volunteer Work

Volunteering at one of the many wildlife sanctuaries in the Amazon is an eye-opening, and rewarding experience. Volunteers needn’t have special knowledge of animals but are required to have passion and stamina as well as a team-building attitude. Volunteers help to rehabilitate some of the most exotic wildlife found in the Amazon basin–animals injured by other animals, suffering from unfortunate accidents, rescued from animal trafficking, or situations of mistreatment and/or illegal situations. In Ecuador, there is ample opportunity to participate in wildlife rehabilitation and release programs, many which work together with local indigenous communities. Volunteers work on feeding and care, helping to maintain the sanctuary, and constructing animal enclosures with professionals among other specified duties. These programs are great for anyone in a wildlife field or program though you truly only have to be an animal lover to participate.

baby monkey

5. Jungle Trekking

Wildlife reserves and national parks throughout the Amazon River basin are plentiful and ideal for observing wildlife in natural habitats. Guided hikes (especially through Brazil’s Jaú National Park and Peru’s Manú National Park) are the most popular ways to explore–a professional, well-versed expert treks where you’re almost guaranteed a look at a host of native animals including pink river dolphins, manatees, caimans, massive river turtles, a wealth of primate species and maybe even a jaguar, not to mention some incredible trees and plants. Treks span anywhere from a day to several days to weeks with accommodation in a lodge or camp in the jungle. To reach the deepest parts of the Amazon, treks usually involve a lot of canoeing or kayaking which requires a healthy level of physical fitness. The packages are diverse, including anything from piranha fishing to bird watching and anaconda hunting (just to look at of course).

Amazon jungle trekking

4. Amazon River Jungle Beaches

The beaches of the Amazon River are scattered around Manuas in Brazil. Ponta Negra Beach is 12 kilometers long, running along a Brazilian neighborhood ripe with restaurants and bars. The beach is far from the deepest reaches of the Amazon rainforest but sits on a tributary and is perhaps one of the most relaxing and convenient aspects of the basin. Tupe Beach is 32 kilometers from Manuas, a white sand beach on the dark Rio Negro busiest on weekends but sublimely empty during the week. When the river recedes, 260 feet of sand is available–a popular place for sunbathing. On the Rio Negro’s left bank is Moon Beach, shaped like a crescent moon and backed by lush vegetation. The water is cold, clean, and clear and fringed by white sand–an ideal Amazon river beach to enjoy the Brazilian sun and relax or a day or two.

Ponta Negra Beach

3. Go Eco-Chic

For some, the Amazon jungle is extremely enticing but roughing it in a tent or rustic lodge just isn’t in the cards. Staying in an eco-chic cabin, or glamping, is a great solution–a way to revel in rainforest beauty without worrying about insects, snakes, or other possibly undesirable creatures. Staying in a comfortable, and often chic little cabin, rather than taking a machete through a week-long jungle trek, is an ideal solution. In fact, you can skip the trek altogether, pick up a few nice bottles of wine, and spend some time basking in the rainforest backdrop while wiling away your time in a breezy hammock. Eco-lodges built from reclaimed materials, are a great way to stay protected in the thick of the jungle and often feature flush toilets, screened restaurants, and hot showers in sustainable accommodations with little to no environmental impact.

eco lodge amazon

2. River Cruising

From budget to luxury, there are hundreds of options for navigating tributaries of the Amazon River and Rio Negro to explore the forest depths. Cruises offer a different perspective than jungle trekking, showcasing marine species such as piranha, river dolphins, and giant otters along with wildlife along the riverbanks: kingfishers, herons, squirrel monkeys, parrots, and more. As budget and time allow, river cruise activities can also include fishing, viewing colossal water lilies, and visiting riverside villages. Hammock-rigged boats afford a look at passing scenery with ease–some boats are fully equipped with professional guides (and air conditioned cabins) ready and able to cruise the whole stretch of the Amazon, stopping at points of interest along the way. Pontoon boats, big barges, and simple, traditional boats make this journey all the time. Villages use the river as a main transportation source so there’s always many options for different tastes.

Amazon Discovery Cruise

1. Anavilhanas Archipelago

The unforgettable scenic journey throughout the scenic Anavilanas Archipelago is one of the most impressive adventures available in the Amazon. This group of river islands is the largest in a freshwater archipelago and located in Brazilian Amazon on the Rio Negro–just over 95 kilometers from Manaus upstream where the river broadens 26 kilometers wider. Extreme biodiversity is the main attractions here, where the preserved area encompasses more than 390 islands spanning almost 100 kilometers and blanketed by native rainforest. This natural, incredible labyrinth teems with wildlife and diverse landscapes. Many say the best way to see the archipelago is on a live-aboard cruiser or by staying overnight at one of the area’s lodges. This spot is especially good for birders–hummingbirds, parrots, and owls are just a few bird species to spot. Pink dolphins and caimans also make appearances in this flourishing Amazon region.

Anavilhanas Amazon

9 Awesome Canyons That are Just as “Grand”

What’s in a name? When we’re talking about canyons, one name will always come to mind before any other: the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA. The name sure seems like a successful marketing ploy—not only is the Grand Canyon the first name that comes to mind, it’s often the only one. That’s despite the fact there are plenty of other canyons out there, scattered around the world, some of them larger, wider or deeper than the Grand Canyon. Here are just 9 examples of canyons that are just as “grand” as their American counterpart.

9. Katherine Gorge (Australia)

Bordering on the better-known Kakadu National Park, Nitmiluk National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia is home to a series of gorges on the Katherine River and Edith Falls. The Katherine Gorge is the central attraction of the park, which was formerly called Katherine Gorge National Park. The Katherine Gorge is actually a series of 13 gorges cut deep into the sandstone by the Katherine River. The gorges are home to a series of rapids and falls, as the Katherine River moves through the area. In the dry season, the gorges are disconnected from each other as the water dries up. Cruises will take you up to the 5th gorge, but you can also strike out and explore on your own via canoe or flat-bottomed boat. There are also 2 campgrounds and a number of trails throughout the park.

Katherine Gorge

8. Copper Canyon (Mexico)

Move over, Grand Canyon; Mexico’s Copper Canyon system should probably be your top North American canyon destination. This group of 6 distinct canyons, located in the southwestern part of Chihuahua state, is larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon. They’re also breathtaking, thanks to the large deposits of copper in their formation: the canyon walls are eye-catching copper and green hues. Copper Canyon has been the site of tourist development for the Mexican state, although there has been some resistance from local peoples and there are concerns about developing a tourist industry that protects and respects this sensitive ecosystem. Popular ways of exploring the canyons include hiking, biking and horseback riding. The Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico runs between Chihuahua and Los Mochis, and the train travels through Canyon Urique, the main canyon in the system.

Copper Canyon

7. Nine Mile Canyon (Utah)

Don’t let the name fool you—Nine Mile Canyon in Utah is actually more like 40 miles (60 kilometers) long. While it’s not necessarily the longest, deepest or widest canyon in the U.S.—and certainly not in the world—it has earned itself a reputation as the world’s “longest art gallery,” thanks to its extensive collection of rock art by the Fremont and Ute peoples. Ruins from these cultures also make the area an archaeological hotspot. There may be 10,000 or more individual pieces of rock art in the canyon, including the famous Cottonwood Panel, making it North America’s largest concentration of rock art. Many sites in the canyon have been added to the National Register of Historic Places since 2009, and there are plans to add more in the coming years as efforts to preserve the rich heritage of Nine Mile Canyon continue.

Nine Mile Canyon (Utah)

6. Rugova Canyon (Kosovo)

The Rugova Canyon, also known as the Rugova Gorge, is approximately 16 miles (25 kilometers) long and up to 1,000 meters deep in some places, making it one of Europe’s longest and deepest canyons. The canyon was carved out over years as the glacier near modern-day Pec melted and eroded through the Prokletije Mountains, near the border between Kosovo and Montenegro. The Pec Bistrica river cuts through the canyon, dividing it in 2. Waterfalls, colossal rocks and caves dot the landscape. The Gryka e Madhe (Great Canyon Cave) is one of the better-known caves in the area, although only about 11 kilometers of the cave system have been explored to date. Obviously, the area is popular for spelunkers, but it is also popular for rock-climbers, reflected in the recent addition of a via ferrata (iron road) for climbers.

Photo by: Otaulant via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: Otaulant via Wikimedia Commons

5. Itaimbezinho Canyon (Brazil)

About 170 kilometers from Porto Alegre, in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, is the Itaimbezinho Canyon. The canyon is located within the Aparados da Serra National Park, which was created in 1959 specifically to protect the canyon. One of Brazil’s first parks, Aparados da Serra is relatively small and has a daily cap on the number of visitors in order to better protect sensitive environments. The canyon is approximately 6,000 meters (6 miles) long and has a maximum width of 2,000 meters at some points, with a depth of about 1 mile, making it the largest canyon in Brazil. Waterfalls dot the landscape as the Rio do Boi wends its way through the canyon. The park offers hiking tours through the area. The Cotovelo Trail is a popular option, as it winds around the edge of the canyon.

Itaimbezinho Canyon

4. Fish River Canyon (Namibia)

Namibia is home to plenty of natural wonders, including the Namibian desert’s infamous red sands, but this African country is also home to Fish River Canyon—not only the largest canyon in the country, but the largest canyon on the whole African continent. The canyon is approximately 160 kilometers (100 miles) in length, with gaps up to 27 kilometers wide and depths of nearly 550 meters in some areas. The Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail follows the canyon for about 88 kilometers, from Hobas to the hot spring resort Ai Ais. There are a number of footpaths and some shortcuts, which means that the hike will be largely up to the hikers. While hiking the trail can take 5 days, trail running is a popular and faster way of taking in the canyon—the current record for trail running is just under 7 hours.

Fish River Canyon

3. Colca Canyon (Peru)

The Colca Canyon, located on the Colca River in Peru, is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. That’s fitting, considering that the canyon is one of the deepest in the world, with a depth of 3,270 meters (10,725 feet). More than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, it is only the second-deepest gorge in Peru, ranking behind the Cotahuasi Canyon. The Colca Valley area surrounding the canyon is popular with tourists for other reasons as well: the area is rich with pre-Inca cultures, including the Collagua and Cabana peoples who still inhabit the area, as well as Spanish colonial towns. The Canyon is also noted for bird-watching, as it is home to the Andean condor and tourists flock to see them flying at close range near the Cruz del Condor. Ruins, rock art and local festivals are also popular attractions.

Colca Canyon

2. Tiger Leaping Gorge (China)

Part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan World Heritage Site, the Tiger Leaping Gorge lies on the Jinsha River, a tributary of the Yangtze River. The river passes between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain in a series of rapids, down cliffs 6,600 feet (2,000 meters) high, creating one of the world’s deepest and most spectacular river canyons. The name comes from a legend, in which a tiger leaped across the gorge at its narrowest point to escape a hunter. Even then, the tiger was still leaping across 82 feet (25 meters)! The area is popular with hikers and backpackers from other areas of China and abroad. The high-road hiking path is well-maintained and takes hikers through a variety of micro-ecosystems along the gorge’s length. Although the gorge is only 15 kilometers long, the high road is approximately 22 kilometers (14 miles).

Tiger Leaping Gorge

l. Indus River Gorge (Pakistan)

The Indus River passes through the Himalayas, rising in Tibet and flowing through India and Pakistan, before emptying into the Arabian Sea. In the northern territories of Pakistan, the river must pass through the Nanga Parbat region, home of the world’s ninth-highest peak, the infamous Nanga Parbat. As the Indus winds through this mountainous region, it flows through enormous gorges, some of them 17,000 feet (5,200 meters) deep. Near Dasu Patan in Kohistan, the gorge plunges to a maximum depth of 6,500 meters—making it one of the deepest, if not the deepest, canyon in the world. Some dispute about the depth of the gorge and other contenders continues today. Nanga Parbat is likely the better-known tourist attraction in the area, but the Deosai Plains and the Karakorum Highway are also popular with visitors.

Indus River Gorge

6 Outstanding South American Festivals

Of all the continents in the world, it’s apparent South America’s people have the most innate penchant for parties of all kinds, from food fairs to music festivals and religious fetes, each is celebrated with passion, enthusiasm, and a rainbow of costumes. If you’re lucky enough to hit a festival, be sure to book well in advance–the secret has long been out and people literally flock to these fantastic fiestas. Some are complete chaos and others orderly and easygoing; be sure to do some research and know what you’re in for because some South American festivals can be off-the-charts-wild.

6. Semana Santa, Peru

Kicking off two days before Palm Sunday and celebrated for ten dynamic days until Easter Sunday arrives, Semana Santa is one of Peru’s most outstanding festivals. This religious fete is a hotel-filler and one of the best times to stay with a local family (Peru’s tourist office provides homestay options). The Friday kick-off starts with a parade honoring Our Lady of Sorrows (La Virgen de los Delores)–at this point consider standing out of the way: it’s customary to levy “sorrows” upon spectators by slingshot fitted with pebbles. Otherwise the mood is fairly somber yet Semana Santa still paints the streets colorful with religious traditions, vibrant processions, art and music shows, traditional competitions, and abundant, delicious Peruvian fare. Be sure to attend on the Saturday preceding Easter Sunday for an all-out Peruvian bash that plays out until morning, definitely showing the wilder side of locals.

Photo by: Flickr/motoperu
Photo by: Flickr/motoperu

5. Tomorrowland -Sao Paulo, Brazil

Tomorrowland is an extension of an electronic dance music (EDM) festival stemming from Boom, Belgium, also one of the world’s biggest and one that’s been happening annually since 2005. Tomorrowland has stepped into South American terrain–where it’s evident crowds can’t get enough–bringing in some of the best Djs to Sao Paulo in the first week of May over three days solid. Dreamville is the onsite camping accommodations available to festival-goers at Tomorrowland where you can pitch your own tent but there are three other (much easier) camping options including a pre-made tent fit with sleeping bags, small but arty cabanas, and the Dream Lodge reminiscent of a night safari tent complete with access to scores of amenities–the prices aren’t cheap though! This festival is so popular tickets sell out in a matter of minutes and then the only way in is to buy a package deal.

Photo by: Fest 300
Photo by: Fest 300

4. Mendoza Wine Harvest Festival

Since 1936, the Mendoza Wine Harvest Festival (Fiesta National de la Vendimia) has been uniting wine growers, vineyard hands, locals, and thousands of visitors in a spectacular show of love for the Cuyo region and the incredible wines it produces. The festival is a culmination of celebrations happening between December and February throughout Mendoza’s 18 districts. Starting off the first weekend of March, the region’s bumper harvest is celebrated famously with wine, food, music, and innumerable special events.  Concerts, parades, fireworks, and general merrymaking create a definitive carnival-esque atmosphere under blue skies and starry nights. A mammoth finale performance at Mendoza’s Greek Theater features hundreds of dancers and actors, the National Grape Harvest Queen is crowned, and the entire celebration ends with a huge fireworks display. As one of the world’s most renowned harvest festivals, this Mendoza gala is definite must for any traveling oenophile.

T photography / Shutterstock.com
T photography / Shutterstock.com

3. Corpus Christi Festival, Ecuador

Ecuador has long been recognized for enduring indigenous traditions including numerous festivals throughout the year. Ecuadorians love just about any reason to celebrate and especially love their customary observances–they really do put on extravagant shows. In the small town of Pujili, the  Corpus Christi Festival happens in the second week of June, welcoming thousands of Ecuadorians for a fete blending the commemoration of both harvest to Incan Sun God Inti and Holy Communion. Food, art, folk and regional dance, and music are intrinsic parts of the festival and culminate following a days-long fiesta in the El Danzante parade where traditional clothing and costumes come together in a kaleidoscopic exhibition. If you do make it to Pujili, head just 15 minutes further to Latacunga National Park for Andean forests alongside striking rivers and lakes and forest habitats within the Amazon, a dramatic area mostly unexplored by tourists.

Fotos593 / Shutterstock.com
Fotos593 / Shutterstock.com

2. Tango Festival -Buenos Aires, Argentina

Precision, tempo, elaborate clothing, and most of all passion rise to crescendo during the Tango Festival in Buenos Aires, one of the most famous dance festivals in the world and one for both pros and the keenly interested but inexperienced. The dramatic tango was born in Argentina’s brothels and over the decades, has become one of the most sensual, provocative, and emotional dances of all time favored by all social classes. The Tango Festival starts with a series of recitals and shows called La Festival; there are film screenings and lessons city-wide. Then comes the main event: the Tango Championships. During the celebrations, there’s a must-see event at the massive, alfresco milonga (tango hall) where more than 10,000 dancers (tangueros) careen across Buenos Aires’ cobblestone streets–it’s a beguiling show that can make anyone want to learn the tango if they don’t already know.

Photo by: Fest300
Photo by: Fest300

1. Carnival -Brazil, Columbia & Uruguay

Carnival is celebrated throughout South America in Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Columbia but the Brazilians undoubtedly celebrate with the most passion. Prior to the onset of Lent, numerous Argentinian towns celebrate Mardi Gras but no one seems to do it quite as well as it’s done in Rio de Janeiro where a phenomenal party takes place. In Salvador, flatbeds called blocos, fitted with pumping sound systems drive music bands around the city for a full-on, three-day party to end all parties. Second prize for the best Carnival celebration goes to the city of Barranquilla in Columbia where African-style dancing, parades of floats, and ultimately Miss Carnival receives her crown. Riding in at close third is Uruguay, where in the city of Montevideo, they carry Brazil’s zeal for Carnival and celebrate with unbridled enthusiasm–no neighborhood goes untouched by Carnival–with dance parties, countless parades, and extreme Latin revelry.

Celso Pupo / Shutterstock.com
Celso Pupo / Shutterstock.com

The Top Countries You Can Visit For Less Than $50 a Day

With more people traveling around the world, countries are getting even more expensive to visit. Despite popular beliefs, it is possible to pick the right place where you can stretch your dollar for days, even weeks. Doing your research, opting for public transportation, and eating in local spots will all go a long way to helping you stick to your budget.

10. Thailand

Despite its popularity, Thailand has remained one of the cheapest countries to visit over the years. The north side of the country is definitely cheaper than Bangkok and the islands but you will be hard-pressed to spend more than $50 a day. Rooms go for about $6-10 per day and a meal from a local restaurant will run you $5. The picture-perfect islands are even a bargain here, provided you don’t want to stay in a luxury resort. Local buses are cheap, beers are cheap and activities and sightseeing rarely runs you over $15. It is no wonder Thailand remains a hugely popular destination for budget travelers and although many continue to flock here, there is still plenty to explore without being engulfed in the crowds.

Phang Nga Bay Thailand

9. Greece

Greece has always been a bit of a budget traveler’s paradise when it comes to Europe. The fall of the economy in Greece has only made it more affordable to visit. Whether you are choosing to visit one of the islands or the mainland, there are bargains to be found. In the past few years, tourism has actually been on the decline of this beautiful country and has dragged the low prices even lower. Street vendors will sell you fresh delicious gyros for under $3 where a huge lamb meal complete with local alcohol might run you $10. Hotels and rooms can be as cheap as $20 a night and take local buses to save even more. Stay away from the touristy islands to save on accommodations and meals and choose to visit the roads less traveled.

Athens, Greece

8. Peru

Peru is one of South America’s liveliest and friendliest countries and it just so happens to be one of the cheapest to travel in. Although most travelers come here for the Inca trail, Peru is absolutely loaded with other things to see and do. Stay in a hostel for around $10 or splurge for a guesthouse that will run you $25 a night. Sit down meals are rarely over $5 and the local intracity buses cost around $1. What costs the most in this country are the activities you do. Book last minute specials when you arrive in Peru to visit Machu Picchu at half price or explore other ruins of Inca destinations for less. Hit the deserted white sand beaches, sail the Amazon and explore a beautiful country full of happy and funny people.

Lima Peru

7. Romania

Romania is the perfect country to experience old-world charm at half the price. Although many people associate this country as a decrepit ex-Communist nation, Romania is actually full of awesome things to discover. This Eastern European country offers medieval villages, castles and beautiful countryside. The time to travel here is holiday season which is the low season where you can stay for even cheaper. Expect to pay around $10 for a room and $5 for most meals. Entrance to the museums and galleries are quite cheap at $5-10 and makes for a perfect way to explore the cities. Try to stick to the smaller towns here as the touristy ones can charge double or triple for rooms and meals. If you have always wanted to explore Europe but found the price point to be high, try hitting up Romania for the ultimate European adventure.

Radu Bercan / Shutterstock.com
Radu Bercan / Shutterstock.com

6. Portugal

The cheapest place to visit in Western Europe is the beautiful and lively country of Portugal. Beaches, wine country, historical cities, and towering cliffs make it an exciting place to discover. Dorm beds can be found for about $20 a night and an even cheaper option is to camp as this country is home to spotless campgrounds located right on the beach. Meals can be a bit pricey and the bigger cities such as Lisbon often offer the most affordable food choices. Lisbon also happens to be one of the most affordable cities to stay in a five-star hotel, just in case you feel like splurging for a night. Take advantage of the free admission days that most cities offer with access to museums and galleries, ride the cheap and efficient public transit systems and enjoy this wonderful country at an extremely low price.

Porto Santo, Portugal

5. Cambodia

Cambodia is one of the cheapest countries on this list to visit and much like its neighboring country of Thailand it offers rich history, great cuisine, and a good nightlife.  This country is also less developed and less explored and therefore comes in even cheaper than Thailand. A fully private room in a typical hostel with air conditioning will only cost you about $8 a night where a typical hotel room with A/C will only run you $15-20. Food is even cheaper, most costing $2 for local food and $6-8 for a more typical Western meal. Even exploring the jungles, the cities, and the ruins won’t cost you a lot. With some of the nicest people around and raw rugged beauty at every turn, it is easy to understand why travelers often call this country their favorite. You will be hard-pressed to spend $50 a day here unless you want to live like a king.

Cambodia Floating Market Seller

4. Nicaragua

It’s the largest country in Central America but one of the least discovered and therefore extremely cheap to travel in. That is until it becomes more popular like neighboring Costa Rica. For now, though it is easy to make your way through the country experiencing the lively people, colorful towns, surfing, wildlife and volcano trekking that will keep you entertained for weeks and all for the cost of less than $50 a day. Sleep in a hammock for $5 or splurge for a room with a bathroom for $20. Food costs just mere dollars whether you are eating from a street vendor or local restaurant. Getting around is cheap and easy, either by using local buses or hopping in the back of a local truck, an ever-popular choice with locals and visitors alike. Stay away from the touristy area of San Juan del Sur as prices tend to be inflated and there are more beautiful beaches and jungles to the north.

Nicaragua

3. Indonesia

This beautiful chain of islands looks to be expensive with its stunning blue waters and silky sands. But don’t let the pictures fool you. If you can get away from the more touristy places it is actually quite affordable to travel within the country. In fact, it’s the plane ticket to get here that costs so much. The touristy south near Ubud and Kuta are where visitors will want to avoid, as they are full of dirty beaches and overpriced resorts. Head to the rather unexplored areas instead and it is easy to find a room in a hostel or guest house for less than $4 a night. Street food will only cost you a couple of dollars where a restaurant meal may run you $6. For well under $50 a day you will find rice terraces, black and white sand beaches, volcanoes, food markets, and jungles.

Mount Bromo, Indonesia

2. India

India is extremely cheap to travel to and instead of asking how one should survive on $50 a day most people ask how they can do it on $20 a day. Yes, it is possible. Local Indian vegetarian food is the way to stick on budget with the occasional splurge on meat and you can bank on spending no more than $10 a day total on food. Rooms can be found for about $5 a night. Take rickshaws instead of taxis and local buses. The flight to India is definitely the most expensive part about traveling here but once you have arrived, everything else is truly a bargain. With the exchange rate being as it is, changing dollars into rupees is advantageous for the traveler and they are seeing 50% more money to travel with, thus making India one of the best bargain countries on this list.

India Market

1. Turkey

Turkey is a unique mix of eastern and western culture which visitors should plan on spending at least a few weeks discovering. Luckily it is easy to live on much less than $50 a day here and despite popular beliefs, it’s actually not that expensive to reach. Istanbul happens to be one of the handfuls of cities around the world where airfare bargains are the norm. Hostels will be your most expensive part costing about $20 a night but the quality is high and often includes a wonderful breakfast. Typical food such as kebabs and shawarmas will only cost you about $2. The good news is the buses run frequently and are cheap, offering the chance to explore a lot of this country. Turkey offers spectacular landscapes, delicious food, fantastic sights and plenty of things to do all for the mere price of $50 a day.

Istanbul, Turkey