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.

 

Yosemite Park’s 10 Best Hikes

Picture alpine meadows, high altitude lakes, and granite domes; this is Yosemite National Park, the second oldest national park in the U.S and one of the most beautiful places on our planet. Nearly four million people visit this park a year and although many come to see the most popular attractions such as Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, there is so much more to discover. Hiking through the park is the only way to discover the magic of it, and here are the park’s best hikes.

10. Gaylor Lakes

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It is one of the most overlooked hikes in Yosemite and easy enough for both beginners and families to hike, something hard to come by in this incredible national park. It takes anywhere from 2-5 hours depending on how much exploring you do and only has one real steep climb at the beginning. From the trailhead, hikers will climb steadily to a ridge with views of the high Sierra including Mt. Dana and Dana Meadows with its scattered ponds, offering some of the best high-country views off of Tioga Road.

The Gaylor Lakes valley actually contains five picturesque lakes and lends the feeling of a prehistoric time and one almost expects to see dinosaurs roaming through it. Hikers won’t have to contend with crowds here either as even during the busy season hikers are spread out.

9. Cathedral Lakes

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The Cathedral Lakes trail is one of the most popular hikes along Tioga Road although compared to Yosemite Valley, it is serene and uncrowded. It is a 7 or 8-mile round trip depending on whether you want to visit both the lower and upper lake. The trek is a hard 8 miles as the hike starts at 8,600ft, offering some serious altitude, and climbs over 1,000ft in the first mile.

What hikers will be rewarded with though are stunning views, shimmering waters backdropped by the iconic spire of Cathedral Peak. Hikers can explore the granite slopes, meadows, and peaks that surround the lakes. Make sure to look at the lower lake’s southwest side as the granite drops steeply away and offers views of Tenaya Lake, with its bright blue water shimmering in the distance.

8. Panorama Trail

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This hike actually loses 2,800 feet in elevation, which makes a lot of people think that it is an easy hike but they would be wrong. This 8.5-mile one-way hike challenges hikers with its 800 ft of switchbacks and plenty of difficult small steps, but the views are well worth it. Everywhere you turn on this hike offers incredible views and includes Half Dome, Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, Illilouette Falls, Yosemite Falls, and the entire Valley.

There is an awesome unmarked detour to Panorama Point, take the trail that is about half a mile after you cross the bridge over Illilouette Creek, and prepare yourself for panoramic views ranging from Glacier Point to the Royal Arches, North Dome, and the back of Half Dome. If you can handle the up and downs and don’t mind catching a shuttle at the end; this is one unforgettable hike.

7. Vernal & Nevada Falls

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If waterfalls are what you are after, this day hike is the perfect choice for you. Vernal and Nevada Falls are two of the most spectacular waterfalls in the park and hikers will get a glimpse of the famous Yosemite Falls in the distance. The loop is started by hiking up the steep granite steps that makeup Mist Trail and then proceeding down the John Muir Trail which lends spectacular views of both falls.

The granite slab located on top of Nevada Falls is the perfect place to picnic and snap amazing photos. Do this hike in the springtime when the water is flowing fast and it is less crowded than in the summer. Make sure to bring plenty of water, snacks, and decent hiking shoes. If you do hike in the summer make sure to head out early to avoid the afternoon heat and throngs of people.

6. Glen Aulin

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This is another hiking trail that offers spectacular waterfall views and the trick here is the further you go along the trail, the more waterfalls you actually see. The trail starts by descending down the Tuolumne River for about 5 miles in which you will cross Tuolumne Falls and White Cascade, as well as numerous pools that branch off from the trail. In June and July, White Cascade is an incredible place to take a swim so make sure you have your bathing suit.

If you feel like making this 10-mile hike into a 16-mile hike make sure you keep heading on and you will hit California Falls, LeConte Falls, and Waterwheel Falls. That is a total of five waterfalls in 16 miles! The Glen Aulin campsite is where you will turn around to keep the hike at 10 miles and beware that the last mile before the campsite is a deep descend and it’s helpful to have trekking poles.

5. Clouds Rest

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For those hikers who want to experience Half Dome but don’t want to fight the crowds or are unsuccessful in getting a permit; the hike to Clouds Rest is perfect. Hiking this trail you actually get to look down on Half Dome and get a 360-degree view of Yosemite Valley. Round trip is just over 14 miles and hikers should be experienced to make it to the top and back down.

The hike starts at picturesque Tenaya Lake and ends with some easy rock scrambling before reaching Clouds Rest, where you should have your camera ready to snap some unbelievable photos. Keep your eyes peeled for the climbers attached to the cables on Half Dome and realize that you have a better view. This awesome hike is a well-kept secret amongst many and arguably provides the best views of the valley.

4. Mono Pass

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This hike takes place at a high altitude and if you are coming from sea level it is recommended you take a few days to acclimatize before attempting this hike. The hike starts at 9,700ft and ends at 10,599 ft; lung-busting heights if you aren’t used to them. The first part of the trail leads you through beautiful streams, alpine meadows, and glacier domes.

The latter half of the hike will be through barren, rocky landscapes; making you appreciate how high you really are. Hiking Mono Pass is an 8-mile trek and in early summer the creeks are often overflowing with water making them hard to pass without getting wet. Prepare yourself for stunning views of the massive Mono Lake, 4000ft below you, when you reach Summit Lake and Sardine Lake. A real mix of ridges, forest trails, and rocky landscapes makes this one awesome hike.

3. North Dome

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If you are looking for another way to view Half Dome that is less crowded, there is yet another option for you. North Dome is an 8.8-mile round trip that offers unparalleled views of Half Dome as well as the peak of Clouds Rest. Although the hike up isn’t the most scenic in the park, it is the view from the top that draws hikers here. In fact, the only crowded part of this hike is at the top as people are unable to tear themselves away.

If you feel like hiking another mile or so make sure to check out the detour to Indian Rock Arch, a natural granite arch about 15 feet high. You will want to give yourself 4-6 hours to do the round trip hike and make sure to bring a pair of binoculars if you want to view the teeny tiny people making their way up Half Dome.

2. Tueeulala & Wapama Falls

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There are few hikes in this park that bring you so close to a giant cascading waterfall than this one. In springtime is when you will find the falls at their mightiest but beware that the trail is sometimes closed as the water actually roars over the bridges. This is a great hike for hikers with little experience as it features easy up and down terrain rather than the steep terrain that a lot of the park features.

On the way to Wapama Falls, you will pass Tueeulala Falls which spring spectacularly from the cliffs from more than 1000ft above the trail. Over the entirety of the hike, Hetch Hetchy Dome and Kolana Rock will loom over you, Kolana Rock’s north face being the nesting site for peregrine falcons. If you want to take the kids along for this hike make sure you are prepared with lots of water, snacks, sunscreen, and enough time as it’s not as easy as one may think.

1. Half Dome

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It wouldn’t be a list of hikes in Yosemite Park if we didn’t include this one. Although we have given you many more options to experience the views you get from Half Dome, there is truly something magical about actually hiking it. Hiking this glacier dome isn’t easy though as permits are now required and the cable route to the summit is only open from May to October. It is a big 14-mile round trip hike that first takes you along the Mist Trail and then up to the 8,842ft summit.

Steel cables are in place to help hikers up the final 600ft and many times this part takes a long time due to crowds and lineups. If you are jittery and nervous expect to move up very slowly. The summit is a whopping 5 acres and mostly flat, giving 360-degree views of the valley. If you are heading down the glacier on the same day make sure to watch as the sun sets quickly and you won’t want to walk in the dark.

The Best Things to do in Zion National Park

Zion National Park is Utah’s oldest and most popular national park, due to its desert waterfalls, emerald pools, incredible hiking trails and awesome red cliff formations. It is somehow equally beautiful and improbable. Perhaps that it why it draws more than three million visitors a year, who come here to hike Angel’s Landing- a knife-edge tiptoe along a serrated mountain ridge, or who come here to explore the canyon floor or the Emerald Pools. Whether you have one day here or a week, we suggest checking out these 7 best things to do in Zion National Park.

7. Take a Horseback Tour

There is nothing like exploring Zion National Park and all that it has to offer by horseback. Choose from a one-hour ride that will follow the Virgin River for about a mile to the Court of the Patriarchs or for a more adventurous day, book the ½ day tour. The ½ day tour will take you around the Sandbench Trail, gradually ascending 500 feet and giving you a spectacular view of the southern end of Zion National Park.

Families can enjoy this gentle horseback ride providing children are over the age of 7 for the 1-hour ride and over the age of 10 for the ½ day ride. No experience is necessary on these rides, making it a unique way for anyone to explore the canyon.

6. Kolob Canyon Trails

It is easy to drive by the Kolob Canyon exit but it is well worth pulling off and not just to use the washrooms at the visitor’s center, but also to go half a mile up the road and explore. It is recommended you visit here during sunset, as the colors are absolutely stunning. There are a few trails here to choose from, ranging from a one-mile round trip hike to one that’s almost 6 miles.

The Taylor Creek Trail is one of the favorite hikes as it is a solid 5 miles that have little ups and downs, making it relatively easy. Hikers will reach the Double Arch Alcove, pass two cabins that are great for photo ops and cross the crystal clear creek several times. If you only have an hour or so here take the Timber Creek trail that is a 100-foot ascent following a ridge to a small peak that looks out onto Timber Creek and the Pine Valley Mountains.

5. Hike the Zion Narrows

It is the most famous backcountry route, a 16-mile journey into skinny canyons along the Virgin River’s north fork, only accessible from June to October. At least half of your hike will be in the river and depending on water levels, the water could be waist height. In saying that, this is no easy catwalk. The total trip takes about 12 hours and is best done over two days, staying in one of the 12 designated campsites deep in the canyon.

Expect lush hanging gardens that spring from the walls, turquoise colored water, dark corners and towering canyon walls. It is important to have the proper equipment when hiking this trail and many outfitters near the park rent it at a fair price. This once in a lifetime trails awaits you at Zion National Park.

4. Visit the Zion Human History Museum

Located just one mile north of the park south entrance, this museum is open to visitors daily from March to November. Here visitors will find permanent exhibits that display the rich human history of Zion National Park. Focusing on American Indian Culture and the historic pioneer settlement, the museum also illustrates the enormous effects of water in Zion.

After all, water is why people have traveled through and settled in Zion and is the creator and destroyer of the scenery that makes Zion so famous. There is a free 22-minute movie that is shown every half hour that provides an excellent overview of the park and a ranger is there to answer any questions. A small bookstore is a perfect place to pick up souvenirs such as maps, posters or books.  Make sure to head to the back patio area of the museum for an incredible view of Towers of the Virgin.

3. Hike Emerald Pools

It is one of Zion’s sweetest signature trails, generously loaded with breathtaking scenery. It is one of the most family-friendly hikes in the park that leads to waterfalls, pools and a dazzling display of monoliths. There are a total of four pools, the lower, middle and upper pools, all which take different trails to reach. The Lower Emerald Pool trail is paved and the easiest of them all, ranging just half a mile long until you reach the lush alcove of the lower pool, where ferns and moss sprout from the mountainside.

The trail actually ducks behind twin waterfalls that spill from the middle pool. There are actually two middle pools, which boast impressive views of Red Arch Mountain, Cathedral Mountain, and Mount Majestic. The trail leading up to the Upper Emerald Pool is more rugged and steep, but worth every step as you get to the secluded oasis of the pool, which is framed by colossal cliffs on three sides.

2. Hike Angels Landing

This strenuous 5-mile round-trip hike provides some of the Zion’s best overall views but you best be in good shape if you want to attempt it. The trail climbs 2.5 miles with sheer 1,500 ft. drops surrounding the very narrow trail; it is actually considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the USA. It is important to note that the hike is often extremely crowded and in some parts, it is so narrow that only one-way traffic is allowed through.

You will want to start this hike early in the morning and give yourself about 3-4 hours to complete it. Expect awe-inspiring views of the park from the top, that is if you are brave enough to complete the last half-mile where the trail becomes even more dangerous and steep. We think it’s worth it, and you will too as you stand on top of the world and revel in its beauty.

1. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

If there is one thing to do in Zion National Park it is the scenic drive. This drive offers the best overview of the park and can be completed even if you just have one day here. We recommend beginning the drive in the east, making your way through the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel and descending into the Zion Canyon.

It is here where you will be met with a stunning landscape of majestic monoliths, mesas, and other fascinating formations. There are a total of six switchbacks, two tunnels and many pull-offs where you can stop and take pictures. At the Canyon overlook you can get out of your car and walk the one mile round trip trail to view the West Temple and the Towers of the Virgin.

7 Awesome Things to do with Kids in Alberta

Cowtown, as it’s often referred to, it’s absolutely jam-packed with things for kids and it’s no wonder so many families choose to visit the beautiful province of Alberta. From the epic mountains that offer exceptional glacier lakes and hiking to the incredible zoos and malls, this province offers something for every age. Discover the awesome dinosaur museum, the annual Calgary Stampede and more with these 7 awesome things to do with kids in Alberta.

7. Experience the Calgary Stampede

It is one giant party that takes place every summer and provides enough entertainment for kids to tire them out, both physically and mentally. The Calgary Stampede is for adults too but the big focus is on families here. There are endless rides, midway games, fried foods such as Oreo cookies and chocolate bars, livestock shows, a rodeo, pancake breakfasts and more.

The Stampede Parade is a favorite among little ones as the World Champion Calgary Stampede Showband leads the parade, followed by beautiful floats, marching bands, riders, celebrities and more. Visit the Indian Village, play a couple games of ring toss, get your picture taken under a giant cowboy hat and have fun until the cows come home.

6. Go Caving

Discover the secrets of underground caves when you head to Canmore to dive deep into the Rat’s Nest Cave; a wild undeveloped cave under Grotto Mountain. Discover a cave in its natural state where there are no handrails, no walkways, and no lighting installed. Discover breathtaking chambers of stalagmites and stalactites, lit by only the light on your helmet. There are a few different options depending on the age of your kids.

The Adventure Tour is one of the most popular, with a minimum age of 12 and runs a total of 6 hours long, with 4 hours spend underground. If your kids are younger than that you will want to book the Discovery Tour, a short 2-3 hour tour that includes a catch and release fossil hunting activity, wildlife tracking and a visit to the cave.

5. Travel to Drumheller

It is here where the famous Royal Tyrrell Museum is housed, a museum dedicated to the study of dinosaurs and where children can come face to race with real fossils. The museum features over 40 dinosaur skeletons, numerous kid’s programs and fun hands-on activities including fossil casting. This museum also happens to run a very cool 60-minute guided hike called “Seven Wonders of the Badlands” where the guide will take you through rocks that tell stories, ancient giants and those mysterious popcorn rocks that are seen everywhere.

After spending some time at the museum make sure to head to the Hoodoos- the unique rock formations that are over 70 million years old. They cannot be climbed but feel free to explore the surrounding areas and marvel at these crazy looking rock configurations.

4. Take a Jasper Raft Tour

A unique way to experience Jasper National Park is to take a scenic float trip down the Athabasca River, a designated Canadian Heritage River. Here all families need to do is sit back and enjoy the ride as a licensed guide provides commentary on the human and natural history of Jasper. Navigating the same route used by fur traders over two centuries ago, the guides will do all the rowing for you!

The trip is about 2.5 hours and covers 16km, passing through gentle rapids and calm stretches allowing you to take in the spectacular scenery around you. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as moose, wolves, mountain sheep and bears. This trip is truly designed for families, as anyone aged 2-99 years are welcome. Tours do operate rain or shine and a poncho will be provided if necessary. Enjoy Jasper from a different view and relax while someone else does the paddling and the talking.

3. Explore Lake Louise

Located within Banff National Park, Lake Louise is the perfect destination for families looking to get outdoors. This emerald green lake is absolutely breathtaking to look at and the region has a range of hikes for families. Whether you want an easy lakeside stroll or a steeper ascent, you can find it here. While you are here make sure to take a ride on the Lake Louise Gondola which takes visitors up Mt. Whitehorn offering spectacular panoramic views.

If you are lucky, the kids might just spot some grizzly bears or elk during the summer days. Ascend either on a ski lift, or a closed gondola, best for younger kids. If you have slightly older kids who are more interested in hitching a ride along the lake, make sure to book an awesome horseback tour that will give spectacular views of the colorful lake.

2. Visit the Calgary Zoo

The Calgary Zoo is a magical place, one where kids can come face to face with animals. A place that gets lit up with twinkling lights in the winter and that feature numerous outdoor exhibits in the summer. It is a zoo that took a huge hit during the flood and has rebuilt itself into a family-friendly attraction that is definitely worth checking out. What is nice about this zoo is there is a lot of things to see and do packed into a smaller space, meaning less walking for the little ones.

But don’t kid yourself, there are still plenty of animals to marvel out including lions, giraffes, gorillas, tigers, monkeys and more. And then there is the magnificent Penguin Plunge display. One of the best in Canada, this display gets you so close you could reach out and touch the playful penguins (No touching is allowed though). Watch them as they dive, splash and interact with visitors in this awesome exhibit. Trust us, the line up is worth the experience here.

1. Play at the West Edmonton Mall

The West Edmonton Mall is literally a kid’s paradise, absolutely loaded with attractions that cater to any age of kid (we can’t promise the parents you will ever get your kid to leave here). To start off with, let’s talk about World Waterpark that houses the largest indoor wave pool and more than 17 unique waterslides and play features. Did we mention the simulated surfing attraction as well?

Then there is Galaxyland, the world’s largest indoor amusement park that features more than 24 rides and play areas for all ages. A challenging 18-hole mini-golf course, a professional sized ice rink, an underground aquarium and a bowling alley are just a few more of the exciting things that happen at this mall.

Discovering St. Helena Island: 6 Things To Know

It is one of Britain’s oldest and most remote outposts, isolated in the South Atlantic and more than 1,200 miles from the nearest major landmass. Welcome to St. Helena Island. For decades the only way to reach this fascinating island was to take the five-night journey aboard the RMS St Helena ship, but with the announcement of a new airport scheduled to open in 2016, there will be new ways to reach this fascinating island. This island evokes a sense of wanderlust with its wind eroded desert to emerald hillsides to lush vegetation. The surrounding coastline features 1000 feet high cliffs that have been pounded and carved out by the crashing Atlantic waves. Discover this beautiful island, what to see, what to do and how to experience this magical place.

6. Where to Stay

There are currently three hotels on the island, a number of guest houses and a handful of bed and breakfasts. During the summer months (December through March) the island is at its peak tourist time and booking accommodations in advance is a must. The Consulate Hotel is located in Jamestown and features comfortable and relaxing accommodations in an 18th-century building.

The Farm Lodge Country House Hotel, on the other hand, is spread over 10 acres with lush tropical gardens affording peace and tranquility to its guests. Bed and Breakfasts include the Sleepy Hollow B&B located just outside of Jamestown and Willowdene, an establishment based upon a coffee plantation. Visitors are welcomed to all hotels, guesthouses, and others with open arms on this island.

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5. Where to Eat

There are a surprising number of restaurants and pubs to be found on this small island and across the board, the atmosphere is generally informal and children are welcome. Whether you are looking for a coffee shop, take-out or a more sit down formal restaurant, you can find it here. If you are looking for great local fare head to Tasty Bites, a relatively new joint that opened in 2014. Patrons can dine on local produce including meat, fish and locally grown veggies along with snagging some of the best sunset views on the island.

If you are looking to score some incredible coffee head to the St Helena Coffee Shop where owners have been growing coffee on the island for 20 years. Offering light lunches, breakfast and afternoon tea, this is the place to be to snag a great cup of joe. The best part about all the places to eat here is that you will be fully surrounded by some pretty epic scenery.

Via St Helena Tourism

4. Explore Jamestown

Jamestown, the island’s capital can keep you occupied for a few days with all that it offers. To start your day, make sure to head to the Museum of Saint Helena where you can learn all about the islands history and natural history. Located in a 19th-century warehouse, the hours are limited so make sure you check before going. The information is up to date and the installations are stunning. If you are feeling adventurous head over to Jacob’s Ladder, a somewhat misnamed staircase that is said to have 699 stairs.

The ladder is a heck of a climb, the stairs are high and although there are railings, there are no landings for the entire length. You may want to snag a local kid and ask them to teach you how to slide down the railing in order to reach the bottom faster. Other attractions in Jamestown include the Heart-Shaped Waterfall, the post office in which you can buy the most famous exports-postage stamps, the Castle and its gardens and the oldest Anglican Church in the southern hemisphere.

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3. Golfing

It wouldn’t be a trip to St. Helena Island without golfing on one of the most remote golf courses in the world. The course is unlike others in many ways, starting with the ground conditions. Here you will find fairways that are both weedy and patchy, as well as made up of loose volcanic earth, and double as a grazing ground for goats. The bunkers are compacted sand, a public road crosses four of the fairways and you tee off on the ninth hole in the shadow of Napoleon’s final living quarters.

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2. Swimming

It may come as a shock but there are no actual sandy beaches in which to sunbathe or swim at on this island. In fact, the best swimming is in the south at Lot’s Wife’s Ponds, large natural tide-pools that although can be difficult to get to, are entirely worth the trek. Start off at Sandy Bay, which isn’t actually Sandy and follow the hiking paths. There is also a public pool located in Jamestown that can be used.

Via Tales from St Helena

1. Visit the Country

Leaving Jamestown behind and discovering the country of St. Helena is a must when you are on the island as a ton of awesome things to see and do await visitors. Start off at the St. Helena Distillery which is located in the Alarm Forest. It is here where you will discover White Lion Rum, Midnight Mist coffee liqueur and the islands Juniper flavored gin. Head over to the plantation house where the island’s governor resides to take in the charming gardens, the oldest tortoise in the world and a tour of the house.

Just make sure you book your tour in advance if you want to go into the house. Outdoor lovers will want to check out Diana’s Peak National Park where many of the islands endemic plant species live. Diana’s Peak rises 823 meters above sea level and is actually the highest point on the island, and on a clear day boasts the best views.

Via Saint Helena 15.55 South 5.43 West

6 Things to See and Do in Uruguay

It is South America’s smallest country and has flown well under the radar for a long time in terms of tourism, but this year it is shaping up to be one of the hot spots to travel to. Think moments not made for tourists, the longest running Carnaval in the world, boutique wineries to explore and more. From learning how to dance the tango to soaking up the sun on the beach to exploring cobble street towns, here are our favorite six things to do in this tiny, but a fun-filled country of Uruguay.

6. Learn the Tango

Uruguay claims to be one of the capitals of the Tango and it’s hard to dispute that claim, seeing as in the city of Montevideo, the tango was danced for the first time. In the Old City, about 150 years ago the streets teemed with immigrant workers from Europe, freed slaves and fortune seekers who frequented neighborhood brothels and bars.

It is here where the tango emerged, a combination of African rhythms, Italian opera and a touch of polka thrown in. Today the Old City remains a mecca for the tango and although it’s a nocturnal business, visitors who are just learning can join lessons early in the evening before hitting the dance floor.

5. Attend the Carnaval

Carnaval is celebrated around the world but no one celebrates it like the country of Uruguay, who celebrates it for a whopping 40 days! From the end of January to mid-March, the country is decked out in costume parades, satirical comedies in the streets and contests for artists.

Montevideo is the best place to get involved as it hosts the most parades, the biggest drums, and incredible activities to join in on. The Llamadas is the two-night parade that is absolutely one of the highlights of the carnival, as are the tablado shows. Depending on when you go will depend on what you see but you can guarantee that it won’t disappoint.

4. Tour the Wineries

This country is the fourth-largest producer of wine in South America and it pays to check out some of the incredible wineries while you are here. A budding new wine route features over 15 small boutique wineries, a welcome change to the mass producers that are often seen around the world. Visitors are welcomed to these wineries with open arms, with owners taking great care to offer fabulous wines to taste, fabulous on-site restaurants and behind the scenes tours.

Make sure to check out the 15-acre Vinedo de Los Vientos where guests are treated to high-quality wines paired with lamb and beef cuts. More boutique and sophisticated is Bodega Bouza which overlooks the white sands of Punta del Este, one of South America’s hippest beach resort towns. Each bottle they produce lists the wine’s vintage, number of barrels used in the marking and quantity of bottles produced.

3. Explore Colonia del Sacramento

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is full of old colonial buildings, cobbled streets and quaint restaurants. Exploring the town only takes about a day and can easily be done on foot, although there are many shops that rent bicycles and scooters. The main attraction here is most definitely the historic center and the eight small museums you can visit for just one price.

Make sure to check out the Museo Municipal for its electric collection of treasures including a scale model of Colonia and a whale skeleton. One of the favorite things to do in this town is eat, due to the high number of restaurants that offer spectacular local food. One of the best places is Buen Suspiro, a cozy spot that specializes in local wines and cheese. In the winter cozy up beside the fire or in the summer grab a table on the back patio, we suggest reserving ahead for either.

2. Hit the Beach in Punta del Diablo

The former fishing village of Punta del Diablo is one of the greatest spots to be in this country, especially if you are planning on hitting the beach. Don’t expect high rise hotels, ATM’s or flashy things here; instead, you will find a laid-back surfer lifestyle where time is spent on the beach, day and night. If you wanted to learn how to surf it is easy to grab a board and an instructor from a local shop, or if waves aren’t your thing, sit back on the soft sand and soak in the sun.

Horseback riding is popular in off months to enjoy the awesome sunsets and many visitors choose to play in the large sand dunes. A dozen small bars and restaurants line the city, most only operational during the peak summer season and a handful of hostels, hotels and campgrounds are available for visitors.

1. Stay in an Estancia

Visiting and staying at an Estancia is Uruguay is about learning the history and culture of the country, it means unplugging and heading out to the country to experience typical rural life. If visitors are looking to do a little something different, this would be it.

Seeking out a traditional estancia is important and be prepared to switch off and join in the family life as this is no party place or entertainment venue, it is indeed a real South American Ranch. Join the ranchers on horseback as you learn about sheep herding, de-worming, branding and more. Eat traditional meals, sleep by candlelight and truly immerse yourself in the way of life for rural folk in this country.

7 Awesome Things to do with Kids in Oregon

Oregon is truly a visitor’s paradise, offering an abundance of things to see and do. But its not just grownups who have a great time in this state. There are a plethora of fun things for kids too, and we aren’t just talking your typical science centers and zoos. The state of Oregon encourages you to get outdoors with its towering ski hills, outdoor adventure centers, national parks and outdoor markets. You won’t find the kids telling you they are bored with any one of these 7 awesome things to do in Oregon.

7. Ski at Mt. Bachelor

Central Oregon’s most eligible ski gem Mt. Bachelor rises impressively over the high desert’s lava beds and pine forests. It hosts the highest-elevation ski runs in Oregon at just over 9,0000 feet and features 88 runs, seven high-speed quad lifts and a host of other activities that cater to the entire family. There are daily lessons to sign the kids up for, as well as adult lessons for the grownups.

If the kiddos don’t feel like strapping on the skies or snowboard, why not head over to the Snowblast Tubing Hill where kids and adults can slide down the 800ft hill. There are also free interpretive tours with a forest service naturalist on snowshoes. For something a little different why not head over to Oregon Trail of Dreams, a company offering winter sled dog rides. In the summertime Mt. Bachelor offers kids bike camps, disc golf, scenic chairlift rides and hiking.

6. Explore Crater Lake National Park

Traveling to Crater Lake National Park with kids is one serious volcano adventure that will thrill both the kids and the adults. The color of the water will surprise you, as it shines a brilliant blue, due to the fact that no streams flow into it and there is no sediment or other things to cloud the water. Head to the Rim Village Visitors Center where the kids can grab Junior Ranger booklets and check out the junior ranger activities that happen throughout the day.

Take the Rim Drive which offers many different outlooks as it loops around the lake, just make sure not to stop at every outlook as the kids will get bored. The two-hour boat trip around the lake is the perfect activity for kids, as they will learn about the different formations and history of the lake, or head to Cleetwood Cove which has access to the Lake, just beware the water is cold!

5. Play at Cannon Beach

This beautiful beach is known as the gem of the Oregon Coast, beckoning visitors from all over the world, along with a slew of locals who come to play here. The massive beach is a total of nine miles long and provides visitors with views of the Pacific Ocean and incredible sea stacks, including the iconic 235-ft. Haystack Rock. Cannon Beach is also full of tide pools featuring crabs, sea stars and other fascinating specimens.

Bonfires are popular amongst locals and visitors when the sun starts to fade and it’s an epic spot to watch a colorful sunset. In the sleepy town of Cannon Beach, visitors will find a handful of restaurants, galleries, cafes and a quaint small town feel.

4. Shop at the Portland Saturday Market

Head to the beautiful city of Portland where craft beer flows freely and the people are friendly. But there is more than that here in this wonderful city, including a plethora of awesome things to do with the kids. Besides the typical playgrounds and child-friendly activities, the Portland Saturday Market offers families the perfect outdoor outing. It is the largest continuously operated outdoor market in the United States.

This outdoor arts and craft markets are packed full of street entertainers, magicians and plenty of food trucks. Kids activities vary from week to week but include things like visitors from the Oregon Zoo, face painting, a puppet theatre and more. The main stage features a variety of local musicians and entertainers each week.

3. Explore Mt. Hood

There is endless fun for kids in the Mt. Hood area whether you are heading here in the winter or summer. Summertime brings free fishing clinics and guided hikes in the Mt. Hood National Forest, along with thousands of miles of hiking trails, with plenty of them family-friendly. Trillium and Frog Lake are the perfect canoe or kayak destinations and there are plenty of shops that offer rentals to visitors.

The Mt. Hood Adventure Park is open both summer and wintertime and provides endless hours of fun for all ages. In the wintertime plan on the kids sliding down the hills on tubes, riding kiddie sized snowmobiles, and an indoor heated play zone. In the summertime at this resort kids will have a blast mountain biking, bungee trampoline jumping, mini-golfing, rock climbing and more.

2. Visit Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

This 32,000-acre wonderland was created by ocean currents mixing with powerful winds, turning this landscape into more sandy hills and valleys then you can ever imagine. It is the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America and there is no place like it on earth. Wind-sculpted dunes tower over 500-feet above sea level and provide a playground like no other.

Thousands come to drive these sands, whether on a motorcycle, quad 4X4 or sand rail. There are numerous rental shops in the area in case you don’t happen to have your own off-road vehicle. Besides whipping across the dunes, there are a plethora of other activities here such as hiking, fishing, canoeing, horseback riding, and camping. With over 30 lakes, ponds and streams and some awesome coastal forest to explore, get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air.

1. Whitewater Raft on the Deschutes River

There are plenty of outdoor adventures to be had in Oregon, especially when it comes to the town of Bend. From this town, families can book an exciting whitewater rafting excursion on the Deschutes River. Sun Country Tours have been running whitewater rafting excursions since 1978 and offer a number of family-friendly rides.

The Big Eddy Thriller is a favorite amongst families as the little ones don’t even have to paddle! Splashing through rapids that range form class I to class III, there is plenty of float time in-between for little ones to catch their breath. You will get all the gear you need, experienced guides, life vests and one heck of a good time!

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

7 Best Things to See and Do in Manitoba

Manitoba is often overlooked as a tourist destination, although no one can quite say why, and frankly it shouldn’t be. This province is absolutely loaded with awesome things to see and do, including one of the top places to view the incredible Northern Lights. Along with outdoor adventures such as polar bear viewing and hiking through national parks, Manitoba offers its fair share of festivals, museums, markets and more. Discover the best 7 things to see and do in this highly underrated province.

7. Play at Whiteshell Provincial Park

Just an hour or so away from Winnipeg is the Whiteshell Provincial Park, loaded with hills, lakes, valleys, forests, and rivers. Inhabitants of the park include deer, moose and black bears with much of the wilderness here being undisturbed. In the summertime go swimming at one the beaches, scuba dive in the clear waters, or hike along one of the scenic trails, ranging from 3km-60km.

Wintertime brings ice-fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and skiing. There are 200 lakes here, a range of accommodations, a golf course, museums and even a goose sanctuary. Soak up the scenery here, doing whatever activity you desire, just make sure to take plenty of pictures.

Via Flickr.com

6. Attend the Icelandic Festival

The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba is also known as Islendingadagurinn and takes place in the small town of Gimli. It is the largest Icelandic gathering outside of Iceland itself and the second oldest continuous ethnic festival in North America. The province itself has strong historical connections to Iceland and spends a weekend each summer celebrating the culture.

Over the weekend numerous events take place such as beach volleyball, pancake breakfast, music and poetry, midways rides and games and more. Daily demonstrations of Viking age warfare, tactics, skills, entertainment, and fashion take place, sure to enthrall people of all ages. Eat Icelandic food, join in on traditions, introduce the kids to culture and spend the weekend in one surreal Canadian landscape.

Via Icelandic Festival

5. Visit the Forks

The Forks is Winnipeg’s meeting place, nestled in the heart of downtown and is one of the most beloved places in the city. For over 6,000 years The Forks has been a meeting place, from the time when Aboriginal peoples traded here to buffalo hunters to tens of thousands of immigrants. Today it is home to more than 4 million visitors annually, who come to discover the wide range of shopping, dining, entertainment, and attractions.

Many visitors flock to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights which is an awesome addition to the city of Winnipeg. The Forks is also home to the Manitoba’s Children Museum, Arctic Glacier Winter Park which features skating trails and toboggan runs, and the Boardwalk Promenade. Don’t miss out on The Forks Market with its impressive six storey tower with a viewing platform.

Via Winnipeg Free Press

4. See the Polar Bears

Churchill is one of the few human settlements where polar bears can be observed in the wild and if you have ever dreamed of seeing these magnificent creatures in their homes, Manitoba is the perfect province to do so. October and November are the prime viewing times when the bears begin their move from their summer habitat on the tundra back to the ice that forms every winter over Hudson Bay. There are a few different ways to view the bears, and it is highly recommended joining a reputable tour guide, as they adhere to strict guidelines in order to protect the bears.

Tundra vehicles can take visitors over the snow and ice and protect visitors from curious bears or guided walks are available to areas where bears frequently stop by. Staying at a wilderness lodge along the bear’s migration route provides an exciting experience for visitors to watch for bears right from the lodge. The spectacular animals can reach up to 1,320lbs and have no natural enemies, making them both fearless and impressive.

Via World Wildlife Fund

3. Visit Riding Mountain National Park

This scenic park can be visited all year round and proves to be the perfect combination of recreation area, and nature reserve. The landscape is a combination of forest, prairie and super clear lakes and rivers. The park is home to a number of species of wildlife including moose, elk, wolves, bison and hundreds of bird species. Hikers will delight in the 400km of hiking trails throughout the park, ranging from easy patrol roads to grassy trails to steep cliffs.

The cold deep lakes here provide excellent fishing lakes and among the most popular are Clear Lake, Deep Lake, and Katherine Lake. Other activities include canoeing, camping, boating, swimming, scuba diving and snowshoeing, snowmobiling and skiing in the wintertime. The park is most easily accessed by Highway 10 which passes through the park and the south entrance is at the townsite of Wasagaming.

Via AD Virdi Photography

2. Explore the Mennonite Heritage Village

The Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach recreates Mennonite life from the 16th century to present day and features more than 20 furnished buildings spread over 40 acres. Wander through the street village, dine at the Livery Barn Restaurant where the traditional Mennonite fare is served, explore a classic Mennonite housebarn and visit the fully operational Dutch windmill during the summer season.

The galleries house historic and heirloom treasures from Poland to Russia to Canada and visitors can find souvenirs at the Visitors Centre which is open all year round. The site is full of volunteers who are descendants of early blacksmiths, millers, and shopkeepers, who love to chat with visitors and answer any questions about the site.

Via Flickr.com

1. See the Northern Lights

To travel to Manitoba and not catch a glimpse of the awe-inspiring, ever-changing phenomenon of the Northern Lights would be a travesty. This province is home to some of the world’s most luminous locales for gazing at the shimmering curtains of multi-colored lights that dance across the night sky. The best viewing times are from January to March and Churchill is one of the top three spots on the planet to witness them.

One of the best ways to see them is to book an overnight adventure that offers sky-gazing access from the deck of a heated tundra vehicle. Or head further south and stay in a lakeside lodge in Flin Fon where it is said they can be seen all year round. Grab your camera and ready for yourself for an absolutely mind-blowing visual experience.

Via Frontiers North Adventures

7 Things to See and Do in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan is associated with miles of endless fields, an incredible collection of lakes in the North and just happens to be the sunniest province in the country. It is here where you can experience vibrant cities, uncrowded parks, abundant wildlife, incredible outdoor adventures and a plethora of museums and galleries. From stunning hiking trails that wind their way through forests and around lakes to the largest RCMP heritage centre in Canada to miles of clear rivers and lakes to canoe, it is easy to spend weeks exploring this province. The list could go on and on but for now here are 7 things to see and do in the province of Saskatchewan.

7. Visit Prince Albert National Park

It was the home of First Nations people for thousands of years and is a stunning landscape of spruce bogs, large lakes and aspen uplands. Whether you are a serious adventurer looking for an overnight experience or a daytripper, this park offers something for everyone. One of the classic Canadian adventures you can have here is the Bagwa Paddling Route, an overnight canoe or kayak loop that covers multiple backcountry lakes with portages between.

This experience covers the parks diverse terrain without requiring an extensively long time commitment. For daytrippers, there are plenty of short hikes and day trails that are accessible from the road. Keep your eyes peeled for plenty of wildlife including bison, white pelicans, moose, world, bears, caribou, eagles, elk and more.

6. See the Sandcastles at Beechy

They were first discovered in the early 1990’s, these towering sandcastles that look as though a million or so kids were involved in the biggest sandcastle building competition in the world. They sit on the banks of Lake Diefenbaker, easily accessible from the town of Beechy.

Feel free to climb around these magnificent structures where Prairie Falcons nest and Bull Snakes can be found. Along with these unique formations, visitors will find a sunken hill- where one side of a grassy hill just seems to slide away, as well as Magnesium Sulphate Lake.

Via canadiannaturephotographer.com

5. Fort Walsh National Historic Site

In 1875 this site was established, intended to stop the illegal whiskey trade and became one of the most important posts in the West. Visitors to this site can step back in time and discover what life was like on a working fort in the time of rotgut whiskey runners. Here you will meet costumed characters who tell true stories of the days when rifle shots and canons were fired at the fort.

Hike the 400m trail through the Cypress Hill forest along Battle Creek, visit the trading post and test your bartering skills, pack a picnic to enjoy or visit the visitor’s centre for a fantastic panoramic view of the Cypress Hills from the patio area. Kids will love becoming an official Parks Canada Xplorer and there are plenty of fun activities and cool souvenirs for them at this historic site.

4. Visit the RCMP Heritage Centre

A truly Canadian experience awaits visitors to the RCMP Heritage Centre, the largest of its kind in Canada. The centre is breathtakingly beautiful, designed with stone, glass and concrete and houses state of the art exhibits, multimedia technologies, and engaging programs. The centre tells the story of the RCMP to the world, through numerous tours and engaging activities. Equipment, weapons, photographs and more are on site for visitors to discover.

Visitors won’t want to miss Sgt Major’s Parade where the drill staff put cadets through their paces. The parade includes a roll call and inspection of the troops, accompanied by the cadet band. If you visit in the summer expect to be treated to the outdoor theatre on horseback, driving tours and more.

Via YouTube

3. Canoe the Clearwater River

The legendary Clearwater River has it all- unspoiled wilderness, inviting campsites, excellent fishing, thrilling white-water and awe-inspiring scenery. Paddling the Clearwater means following the footsteps of incredible historic northern explorers and voyagers. If you want to paddle the entire river it takes about two weeks, although most canoeists tend to focus on one section- in particular the 105km section from the Clearwater’s confluence with the Virgin River to Contact Rapids, which takes about a week.

Expect one stunning scene after another with waterfalls, rapids, cliff-lined canyons and rock gardens. The campsite that overlooks Smoothrock Falls may just be the best wilderness camping you have ever done, or at least that is what you think until you arrive at Skull Canyon. Whether you are a professional paddler setting out on your own, or you join a guided canoe trip, this is one thing to put on your Saskatchewan bucket list.

Via Canadian Heritage Rivers System

2. Head to Regina

It is the capital city and deserves a visit, seeing as its home to a 100-year old symphony, some lively sports fans, fascinating museums, events and more. If you happen to visit here during the CFL season, it is essential to get to a Roughriders game where you can join thousands of fans eat, drink and cheer their favorite team on, just be sure to bundle up! Journey through the history of the province at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, where geology and natural history take precedence.

If art is more your thing head to the Mackenzie Art Gallery where free admission offers you access to outstanding local and international artists. Free public tours for people of all ages make this an awesome experience. Or spend the day wandering the downtown streets in search of unique shops, awesome restaurants, spas and more.

1. Go Underground in the Tunnels of Moose Jaw

This year-round attraction entertains guests from all over the world with its unique productions of Canadian history. Visitors will head under the streets of downtown Moose Jaw for two guided theatrical tours. The Chicago Connection Tour lets you relive the days of Al Capone, as a bootlegger in 1929. Start out at Miss Fanny’s club, wind your way up and down seven sets of stairs and through tunnels, with surprises along the way.

The Passage to Fortune Tour lets visitors experience first hand the hardships of early Chinese immigrants as you follow their path through Burrows and Sons Laundry into the kitchen of Mr. Wong’s café. This is an excellent, informative and realistic look at a small piece of history.

Via YouTube