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Why Galle, Sri Lanka Should Be Your Next Stop in Asia

Travel to Galle Sri-Lanka

Galle is a small colonial settlement recognized for its historical importance, yet it increasingly embraces the modern and the new. Visitors are enchanted by the Mediterranean-style atmosphere easily enjoyed without the crowds. Galle is an underrated gem for wanderers who want to take a step back in time without sacrificing the contemporary comforts of everyday travel.

History vs. Modern

Galle was a vital trading post and a busy maritime port for over 200 years. It was a protected harbor where trade between the east and west thrived. Its rich history of invasions and occupations left behind a cultural texture unique, colorful, and one-of-a-kind. The city consists of an old part, and a new part and both are worthy of exploration. The Galle Fort in the old town stands as a living monument to its history, and it is within its walls visitors and locals alike are most enthralled.
There is no better way to absorb the quintessential culture and characteristics of the city than to book your stay at the Galle Fort Hotel. It is an eccentric tribute to the colorful fiber of the Galle community. The grand Dutch mansion’s many incarnations throughout the years give it a multi-layered ambiance you won’t find in any other boutique hotel. The venue maintains much of its architectural integrity while offering award-winning accommodations. You will love relaxing in the frangipani-scented courtyard where poets and dreamers have often been inspired.

Asian vs. European

Galle is a seamless blending of both Asian and European influence noticeable in its iconic buildings decorated with street art and in its eclectic cuisine available in quirky cafes. The colonial presence of the Portuguese in the 15th-century and later occupation by the Dutch were never fully replaced by Asian culture. The result is a wonderful fusion of tradition and sophistication nurtured by a melting pot of artists, innovators, and other creatives who call Galle home. The brightly-painted tuk-tuks still line the streets, yet galleries and shops along the medieval-style pathways are there too.
Most of the restaurants in Galle are quaint and cozy havens filled with the aromas of native spices and seasonings. Visitors can experience local foods at Lucky Fort Restaurant known for its aromatic rice and curries or step it up at the Fortaleza for Sri Lankan fare with a Singaporean twist. You might want to try the Pedlar’s Inn housed in a former British post office. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a friendly cafe-style environment. Moroccan, Chinese, Italian, and French eateries in Galle town give you the opportunity for fine dining around the world.

Shopping vs. Browsing

Galle is a treasure trove of jazzy small shops and those travelers who seek souvenirs will not be disappointed. The new part of the city is home to several malls, yet it is in the old town shoppers find their gems. Koccorikois a motley den of quality handicraft items, the shelves packed with the unusual and the bright. It’s the perfect stop for one-of-a-kind handmade clothes or curious. The spices of Sri Lanka are unique and celebrated around the world. You can just follow your nose in the Galle Fort to Chilli Dragon Spice Shop for the best of fresh cinnamon and curry seasonings. Don’t forget to try some tea while you are there.
Galle is also the ideal destination for travelers who would rather see the sights and soak in the local culture. A visit to the Historical Mansion Museum is a must for an imaginative excursion into the olden days of Galle. The museum contains a vast collection of artifacts including coins, stamps, and odd antiques. Art lovers can browse through the maze of rooms in Sithuvili Gallery where the work of local artists and traditional mask-makers surprise you around every corner. The life-sized art installations and sculptures will blow you away.

Relaxation vs. Activity

Different people travel for different reasons. Some just want to get away and relax; others are seeking out exciting adventures. Galle can accommodate both. Templeberg Villasis a serene getaway tucked discretely on a coconut plantation just minutes from Galle Fort. It is the ultimate retreat with lush gardens and breezy verandas where butterflies lazily flitter and curious monkeys play. The pristine beaches are only a short tuk-tuk ride away. The friendly service and meticulously prepared food will make you feel like you are at grandma’s house instead of a hotel.
Outdoor activities are plentiful in Galle especially if it involves water. You can discover a completely uncommon underwater world in Unawatuna at the Pearl Divers and Water Sports Centre. Certified and experienced divers guide you on an unforgettable diving excursion you will be talking about for years to come. Those who prefer to stay on dry land can take a guided bicycle tour through Galle’s paddy fields, cinnamon plantations, and bird sanctuaries with Idle Bikes. More challenging and invigorating trails are available for the fit and energetic. It’s a great way to explore the countryside.
Sri Lanka is sometimes referred to as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean,” and it is easy to see why. It is a lush oasis rich in fauna and flora. Galle is no exception offering a pleasant combination of forest, beaches, and cultural interests. The district is home to Sri Lanka’s unique tradition of stilt fishing and, if you are lucky, you might get to see fisherman on tall stilts casting their lines in the shallow waters. It is a sight you will not easily forget. After a morning of sightseeing or shopping, you can settle in at the Owl and the Pussycat for a cool drink and a fabulous lunch.
A visit to Galle would not be complete without experiencing the nearby Virgin White Tea Factory. The sprawling working plantation produces high-quality white teas treasured for its anti-oxidant content and said to be some of the best in the world. Visitors are given a rare view of the tea harvesting process by an expert resident planter. The tour ends with a tea-tasting and a slice of chocolate cake! It doesn’t get much better than that. Galle is Sri Lanka’s best-kept secret on its southern coast, and you will be glad you chose to wander there.

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Raising Your Adrenaline While Thrill-Seeking in South Africa

Thrill Seeking in South Africa with WorldVia

From vintage African escapades to harrowing experiences not for the faint of heart, it’s also the ideal place to cut loose and delve headlong into adventure. For anyone considering South Africa for a bit of thrill-seeking, don’t skip these opportunities for an unforgettable experience.

Quad-Bike Safaris:

You don’t have to be a quad-bike enthusiast to enjoy cruising through the pristine South African terrain inspecting elephants, leopards, rhinos, and more. While there are many different options for safaris throughout the continent, quad-bike safaris have become very popular near both Cape Town and Johannesburg for their unique combination of thrill-seeking and scenery.
At the renowned Aquila Game Reserve about two hours from Cape Town, guests have a spread of options catered to creating an individualized experience. While those looking for a mild adventure can do a half-day trip and stay in a luxury lodge, there are also overnight camping options that will take you right out under the stars among the local wildlife. Along the way, explorers can expect to see the Big 5 in African wildlife, including a chance to get just close enough to snap compelling photos of a pride of lions. Aquila Game Reserve also has a working conservation center, where you can check out animals that are being rehabilitated before being sent back into the wild.
While there are plenty of transportation options to get to a quad-bike safari near Cape Town, the same goes for near Johannesburg. One of the most popular spots in the area, Segwati Getaways, taps an extensive network of quad-bike trails that cuts right through stunning terrain. Snaking up the beautiful Witwatersberg Mountains, trails showcase some of northern South Africa’s finest scenery, and visitors are likely to have close encounters with giraffes, water buffaloes, exotic birds, and plenty of others. Trails also are very close to the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site that offers numerous cultural experiences. Although there are many ways to see South Africa’s famous wildlife, zipping through the gorgeous countryside on an easy-to-use quad bike has become a go-to favorite for thrill-seekers.

Rock climbing (or Hiking) in the Drakensberg Mountains:

The Dutch settlers who first came to the region named them the Mountains of Dragons (Drakensbergen in Afrikaans), and there might not be a better or more interesting place to be a beginning rock climber. Swirling with local legends and panoramic beauty, the Drakensberg Mountains are mysterious and inspiring, complete with enormous grasslands and green hillsides filled with endangered plant species. A morning’s drive south from Johannesburg, near the eastern border of Lesotho, the Drakensberg Mountains have more trailheads and outdoor adventures than you’ll know what to do with.
One of the favorite spots for visitors is the Didima Camp at the base of Cathedral Peak, where hikers can find comfortable lodging as they launch into the neighboring attractions. While you can easily spend an entire day or even a week walking through the Didima Valley, most find their way to one of the nearby Cathedral Peak trails that will take you to the breathtaking summit the region is known for. Very green in the summer (December through March) and brown during most of the dry winter, Cathedral Peak has multi-day hiking trails for the most adventurous, and you can even sleep in a cave on the side of the escarpment (Twins Cave).
For those who aren’t quite up for that level of excitement, staying at the Cathedral Peak Hotel or Didima Camp and taking a more direct day hike to the summit still guarantees plenty of thrills and scenery. Also in the Didima area, the Rainbow Gorge Trail is a pleasant 3.4-mile woodlands hike that ends at a waterfall that often boasts a rainbow when there is enough sunshine.
Even if you’re not much of a mountain climber, the Drakensberg Mountains are also a great place to be a curious beginner. At the Sentinel Peak in the northern part of the mountain range, popular beginner courses will have you scaling up rocky bluffs in only a couple days of training, ending with a triumphant view of the escarpment and valley. For those not afraid of a little winter adventure, novices can also learn the art of ice climbing during the coldest parts of the year, and the views are every bit as sensational.

Shark cage diving and cableway tours near Cape Town:

If you’ve ever wanted to slip into a Discovery Channel documentary, all you need to do is charter one of the many boat tours that leave from various spots in Cape Town. While searching for sharks jumping out of the water is sure to yield a memorable experience, true thrill-seekers can find their way into a shark cage in Shark Alley, where your sense of adventure will be challenged by face-to-face meetings with great whites.
One of the most popular launching points is False Bay, where there is a wealth of options for a close encounter with the local marine life in the area. From fall to spring (March through September) you can expect clear waters all around internationally famous Seal Island, the hot spot for catching great whites jumping out of the water in a feeding frenzy. If you want to get into the water next to a great white, a shark cage expedition from either False Bay or Gansbaai Harbour is sure to be one of the most intense experiences of your life. Between the chilly Atlantic waters and a close-up of a great white buzzing by your cage, even a seasoned thrill-seeker will have a spike in adrenaline.
If diving with one of the greatest predators in the history of the planet is a bridge too far, there are also terrific whale-watching options just south of Cape Town off the coast of Hermanus. Sailing along the southwestern tip of South Africa between July and November, visitors can check out the massive southern right whales gliding just off the rugged coast. Thrill-seekers can still take it to the next level here as well by renting a kayak for an even closer look at the many sea beasts of Cape Town.
Meanwhile, taking a cable car to the 3,500-foot peak of Table Mountain will yield a spectacular view of Cape Town and miles upon miles of ocean-hugging coastline. The gigantic Table Mountain National Park – spanning almost the entire west side of Cape Town – also has an exceptional assortment of hiking trails that boast impeccable views of the region, including down to the majestic Cape of Good Hope. With thrill-seeking opportunities to fit every type of traveler, Cape Town is simply an outstanding launching point for adventure.

Gauging the weather:

Many of the activities in South Africa change substantially from season to season, although they’re still predominately doable year-round. In the Drakensberg Mountains, for example, the pinnacle of fall between April and May is generally seen as the best time to hit the hiking trails, as you’ll see a lush green landscape without the constant threat of summer thunderstorms. By winter (roughly May through August) you’ll have to be prepared for temps to drop below freezing at nighttime, though you also won’t have to deal with the rainfall you’ll have to overcome during the summer months. A similar dynamic will be at play for anyone eager to check out a safari; knowing the local climate and bringing the right gear will be a fundamental part of your trip.
As for chartering a boat or hopping in a shark cage, your tour will completely weather dependent and keeping a close eye on forecasts is a must. You’ll also want to have an alternative in mind in case you get bad weather, though that shouldn’t be difficult considering Cape Town’s extensive network of popular sites and icons. For those ready to persevere no matter the weather, however, South Africa is difficult to surpass when it comes to thrill-seeking.

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10 Amazing Family Friendly Things To Do In Rotorua, New Zealand

New Zealand Travel film

You don’t even have to compete for a hotel spot in one of the biggest cities on the map. Instead of heading to Auckland, Christchurch, or Queensland, you can base an incredibly fulfilling family vacation right in Rotorua, NZ.
Rotura is beside a beautiful lake and at the heart of native Maori territory. If you want an amazing New Zealand vacation complete with thrilling theme park rides and beautiful nature tourism all in one — and create the perfect itinerary for your kids — Rotorua has it all.
Let’s take a look at ten incredible places to vacation as a family in Rotorua, New Zealand. Starting with these, you’re sure to find even more amazing things to do.

1) Visit the Hobbiton LOTR Movie Set

The one thing every child (and Lord of the Rings fan) will want to see in New Zealand is the Hobbiton movie set, which is only an hour’s drive from Rotorua. A real-life place where adorable little houses are built into hillsides and tastebud tingling meals are served in taverns fit for any hungry hobbit. Children traveling with you will delight in exploring a whimsical world that is just their size while you and any other grown-ups can learn fascinating facts about how the movies were filmed in this enchantingly designed little village.

2) Revel in the Skyline Rotorua Theme Park

High above the city of Rotorua is the Skyline Rotorua theme park, perhaps one of the most amazing things that this little city has to offer. The Skyline has features that you can find in many New Zealand cities. The cool thing is that it has -them all-. If you want to enjoy a high-speed luge race, zip line over beautiful redwood forests, or take a sky swing with the whole family, the Skyline is your destination. Not to mention some truly incredible views.

3) Meet the Animals at the Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park

If you are vacationing with children and want them to touch and experience the safer aspects of New Zealand’s amazing wildlife, then you can’t miss the Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park. This park focuses on bringing the sensations of nature to you through birds, fish, unique New Zealand mammals, and plenty of hands-on opportunities. Almost every creature in the Paradise Valley Springs wildlife park can be hand-fed by your little ones, creating truly incredible moments and memories to take home.

4) Connect With History in the Mitai Maori Village

One of the fascinating things about New Zealand is their uniquely powerful native culture. The Maori have inhabited this strange and beautiful island for thousands of years, and their traditions reach back into a time before history or western New Zealand settlers. You can experience a taste of their traditional culture by visiting the Mitai Maori Village outside of Rotorua. Share the wonders of traditional Maori dance, canoeing, and tattoo art while enjoying a traditional ground-roasted Maori dinner and a breathtaking fire dance show in ancient tribal style.

5) Take a CampervanRoad Trip

New Zealanders don’t always see vacationing the same way we do. Every inch of their island country is breathtaking, and New Zealanders often take the opportunity simply drive across it. And you can, too. Campervans are like mini-RVs with a kitchenette and cleverly hidden cots that double as a table during the day. If you want to take a short road trip across New Zealand, campervan rental is the perfect way to do this. Experience as a family what New Zealand looks like between towns or drive out to spend a few days in the incredible New Zealand wilderness together. With a campervan, you’ll have everything you need.

6) Get Wild at Velocity City

Believe it or not, Rotorua has a second thrilling theme park available if you’re not done adventuring after hitting up the Skyline. Velocity city has even more opportunities to go really, really fast with less focus on nature and more on every possible kind of speed. At Velocity City, you can free-fall on air, speed boat, and delight in several kinds of a zip line. If your children are nervous about going up in the air for fun, take the family sky swing with them first. Or, if you have teens looking for a once-in-a-lifetime thrill, send them to the Schweeb Racer track. You’ll have to see it to believe it.

7) Become a Human Hamster at OGO Rotorua

Speaking of things that are hard to believe, the OGO Rotorua is one of the single most incredible attractions we have ever encountered. Ever want to roll down a hill in a giant inflatable hamster ball? We know you have, which is exactly why you and the family should visit OGO Rotorua, one of the only places to enjoy this novel and exciting experience. Bring your swimsuits, because, inside the ball, you’ll also be floating in the water.

8) Get Rural At the Agrodome

There are a lot of sheep in New Zealand, so it’s only right that any children with you get to pet and frolic with them at least once. The Agrodome is the safest and friendliest place to meet the lively agricultural side of New Zealand. And all of the cute little fuzzy sheep. There will be plenty of petting, lessons on interesting agricultural topics and a Farm Show featuring very talented farm animals doing tricks any children with you will love.

9) Take to the Sky with Canopy Tours

Have you always wanted to be a nature tourist? Then it’s no surprise you’re in New Zealand. One of the most breathtaking experiences you can have in this incredible place is taking a canopy tour over the tops of ancient redwoods and beautiful waterfalls. Rotorua canopy tours are zip-line experiences where you and the whole family can witness the wonder of New Zealand’s forests and landscapes from high above.

10) Explore the Ruakuri Caves Tour

Finally, don’t forget New Zealand underground. And we don’t mean the music scene. The Maori tradition in New Zealand also extends deep below into networks of caves. The Ruakuri caves are a beautiful place for children to discover the connection between stalactites and stalagmites, bat ecosystems, and the incredible wonder of natural caves. This is the perfect place to cool down after a hot or exciting day and discover an entirely different aspect of how beautiful nature can be.
New Zealand is a wonderful place to vacation with your entire family. And the city of Rotorua is uniquely equipped to give you day after day of incredible family-friendly fun. Whether you like to go fast, explore cultural traditions, or adventure through the rugged landscape, there is more than enough for everyone in your family to have a great time.

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The Adventurer’s Guide to Costa Rica

Surf in Costa Rica

Whether you’re into water sports, hiking (or zip lining) through jungles and rainforests, or exploring volcanoes, Costa Rica has an incredible number of opportunities to experience thrills and challenges.

Ziplining and Canopy Tours

You can go ziplining in many places. However, there aren’t many places where you can experience the kind of natural wonders that surround you in Costa Rica. This is an adventurous activity that people of all ages and physical conditions can enjoy. Here are a few of the country’s best zip lines, canopy tours, and aerial trams.
Canopy Safari is one of the oldest zip lining tours in Costa Rica. They also offer many other activities in their incredible rainforest location, including rafting, a Tarzan swing, and walking tours. They have a Serpentarium, butterfly garden and a Cayman pond on the premises as well.
Jaco Aerial Tram Tour is an aerial tram is good for people who are reluctant to try ziplining but still want to get amazing views of rainforests and jungles. Of course, you can also do both if you’re so inclined! The Jaco tour provides great views of the ocean as well as the forest.
Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is renowned for its incredible diversity of plants and animals. It’s especially great for bird watchers, with more than 400 species of birds including the Quetzal, which is only found in this region. You can observe this amazing reserve for yourself by ziplining or taking an aerial tram tour, which gives you a bird’s eye view of this unique spot. Another favorite activity in reserve is hiking on the Sky Walk Suspension Bridges that are located throughout the forest.

Water Sports

Wherever you go in Costa Rica, you’ll be close to water. It has coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, making it one of the best places in the world to enjoy beaches and water sports. As you venture inland, you’ll also find an abundance of rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. Here are just some examples of where you can find the best water-based activities.

Rafting

Costa Rica offers world-class rafting in a unique tropical environment. You can choose between day trips and multi-day adventures along the country’s many rivers. You can also select trips based on your experience and how challenging an experience you’re seeking (rapids are classified between Class I to Class VI).
Corobici River Float in Guanacaste. This river is classified between Class I and II, making it a good choice for beginners and anyone who wants a relaxing yet beautiful journey with lots of incredible wildlife, especially birds.
Rio Pacuare This river offers a moderately challenging Class III rafting adventure through a rainforest that flows towards the Caribbean. You also have great views of the majestic Talamanca Mountains.
Naranjo River is Class IV+ river is for you if you want serious whitewater action in addition to beautiful scenery. This river presents challenges such as canyon walls and many technical narrows that will test your skills.

Snorkeling and Diving

If you want to get a close-up view of the incredible marine life in the waters around Costa Rica, make sure you go snorkeling or diving. Scuba diving gives you the fullest experience, but you need to be certified. There are, however, quite a few diving schools where you can get your certification. Snorkeling is a simpler way to get a memorable look at the pristine waters.
Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places for snorkeling and diving in the entire Caribbean. In addition to an incredible diversity of fish, you’re likely to encounter dolphins, sea turtles, and manatees.
Manuelita Coral Garden is a protected area has gentle waters, making it a good choice for novice divers. The coral reef attracts many large sea creatures such as black tip sharks, hammerheads, marble rays, and others.
Caño Island Biological Reserve offers amazing diving and snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean all year round. You can find many experienced diving tours in this area. The most famous diving spot is called Devil’s Rock, which has a dramatic underwater landscape of peaks and valleys.

Surfing

You can enjoy spectacular surfing in many parts of Costa Rica, on both the Pacific and Caribbean beaches.
Nosara is a region is popular for holistic and yoga retreats as well as surfing. Playa Guiones is the main surfing beach. It’s also a protected area for sea turtles and other wildlife, so it’s good for encountering wildlife.
Puerto Viejo is one of the best surfing spots on the Caribbean coast. This area attracts many top surfers who come to test their prowess against the legendary Salsa Brava surf break.
Dominical is popular beach town by the Southern (Pacific) coast. The ocean here can produce powerful waves, so it’s not ideal for beginners. However, there are some spots where the waters are calmer. You can also enjoy the bars, eateries, and shops in this trendy area.

Explore Wildlife

If you visit Costa Rica, you’re bound to see lots of beautiful and exotic animals such as birds, fish, reptiles, monkeys, and many others. If this is one of your priorities, however, you can make it a point to visit national parks and other areas known for the species that most fascinate you. The following are some suggestions for finding particular types of animals.
Birds – Costa Rica is famous for its biodiversity. There are an estimated 850 species of birds alone. Fortunately, you can’t help but see many beautiful tropical birds when you’re anywhere in this country. However, some of the best spots for bird watching include the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (mentioned in the section on ziplining), Palo Verde National Park, and Los Quetzales National Park, where you have the best chance of seeing the Quetzal, Costa Rica’s most iconic bird.
Big Cats – Costa Rica has a few big cats such as ocelots and jaguars. They are hard to spot in the wild, though you might be lucky and spot one in a rainforest. One place to see big cats is at a wildlife sanctuary such as the one at La Paz Waterfall Gardens National Park.
Monkeys – There are many species of monkey in Costa Rica. Some of the most common are Howler monkeys, spider monkeys, capuchins, and spider monkeys. One of the best places to see monkeys is the Corcovado National Park.
Three-toed Sloth – These tree-dwelling animals are found in rainforests. If you want to see lots of sloths and learn all about them, visit the Sloth Sanctuary in on the Caribbean coast.
Reptiles – You’ll see lizards and snakes everywhere in Costa Rica. Geckos and iguanas are especially numerous. If you’re not an expert, be wary of snakes as some are deadly. It’s wise to learn a little about Costa Rica’s snakes, especially if you’re venturing into forests and jungles. Other common reptiles include sea turtles, crocodiles, caimans, and black ctenosaur lizards.

Visit Volcanoes

Costa Rica is full of volcanoes. There are, in fact, more than 60 in total. Hiking a volcano is an adventurous activity you can try in almost any part of the country. Before planning your trip, be sure to check on the volcano’s current status. Climbing an active volcano adds some extra adventure though even inactive ones are well worth exploring. Here are a few of the most popular volcanoes to visit.
Turrialba Volcano – If you want to hike a volcano close to San Jose, the capital city, this is the closest. However, for safety reasons, the national park in which the volcano is situated is not always open to visitors.
Arenal Volcano – At more than 5,000 feet, this is Costa Rica’s most famous volcano. Currently inactive, the last eruption was in 1968. One of the advantages of visiting this volcano is that you can also enjoy bathing in some of the numerous hot springs in the area.
Irazú Volcano – This volcano is quite close to San Jose and is Costa Rica’s tallest active volcano at over 11,000 feet. It last erupted in 1994.

Lots of Opportunity for Adventure in Costa Rica

We’ve looked at just a few of the many types of adventure you can find in Costa Rica. Aside from the unparalleled natural beauty and wildlife, you can find world-class resorts, top quality cuisine, a growing arts scene, and versatile nightlife. Few countries offer a greater diversity of activities and attractions. There are many reasons to put Costa Rica at the top of the list for your next adventure tour.

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Best Camping Locations in the Orlando Area

Camping in Orlando

For those who love the outdoors, this is great news. While Orlando does have much to offer for outdoor lovers in the way of amusements, sunbathing, and water fun, there is a whole other side to this amazing city, and that other side is the camping locations. Let’s take a look at some of the best camping options in the city of Orlando and the surrounding area so that you can really get in touch with nature on a whole new level.

The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort

Families, couples, and singles can have a truly unique camping experience when they visit the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort! Spend some time camping in this re-creation of an American Frontier, where you will enjoy the amenities that made Disney World famous in a different atmosphere. You’ll find 750 acres of campgrounds, in addition to recreational activities that include pony, wagon, and carriage rides, the Fort Wilderness Archery Experience, Campfire Sing-a-longs and much more. It doesn’t matter if you are an expert camper or if this is your first time ever on a camping trip, as this campsite caters to people of all levels. Rent a golf cart or ride a bike along the trails as you take in everything that is offered. Now, you can experience Disney World in a way you never imagined as you have the time of your life on this ultimate camping expedition!

Moss Park

At Moss Park, you’ll experience camping at it’s best. Located in the heart of Orange County, Florida, this campsite is great for families, couples, and small groups who want to see wildlife and the beauty of nature in one of the best environments in the entire Sunshine State! Have the best of both worlds as you enjoy the fun of the wilderness or choose to spend some time at the beach area that is located within the park. Go fishing or hiking, or spend some time singing around the campfire. The amenities are wonderful, accessible, and accommodating, ensuring that your camping trip goes as smoothly as possible. The atmosphere is peaceful, completely letting you enjoy everything that surrounds you. Partake in the Scandinavian sport of orienteering, something that you won’t find at many other places! Go kayaking on the lake, hiking along the trails, or enjoy some bird watching at one of the best-kept secrets of Orlando! Tent and RV camping are both available for convenience. Great for leisure and intermediate campers, this is a place you will surely want to come to time and again!

Winter Garden RV Resort

This is camping, Florida-style! Everyone from single people to large families or groups will enjoy coming to Winter Garden RV Resort, as there is so much to see, do, and enjoy. With over 350 sites, the grounds offer amenities such as swimming, games such as shuffleboard, and many other outdoor activities. Set up camp and get in tune with nature, as you will be surrounded by pine trees and wildlife in its natural habitat. Intermediate and expert campers will feel most comfortable here. There is no shortage of things to do at Winter Garden RV Resort, as you embark on a camping trip that you won’t soon forget.

Orlando/Kissimmee KOA Holiday

Whether you choose to stay in a fully furnished deluxe cabin or set up a tent at one of the sites, you’ll want to soak up everything that Orlando/Kissimmee KOA Holiday has to offer! As one of the best campsites in Central Florida, this Kampgrounds of America location appeals to everyone from children to adults. All levels of campers will feel right at home, as the campgrounds offer a castle-themed playground and jumping pad for the little ones, a pool, hot tub, and sauna, bike rentals, and more. Enjoy a game of horseshoes, and don’t forget to stop by the general store to pick up supplies for making s’mores by the fire! With plenty of recreation and welcoming surroundings, Orlando/Kissimmee KOA Holiday will soon become one of your favorite places to enjoy the camping trip of a lifetime.

Orlando NW/Orange Blossom KOA

Another Kampgrounds of America location in Central Florida, Orlando NW/Orange Blossom KOA is a place where families, couples, and groups can create wonderful Florida memories! Amenities for campers of all levels include a pool, dog park, bike rentals, and much more. Meet new friends and bond with those you came to the campsite with as you participate in activities such as corn hole tournament boards, or gather at the playgrounds for some fun. You’ll see some of the most amazing wildlife that you could have ever imagined as you observe cardinals, raccoons, Eastern box turtles, and sandhill cranes. Keep an eye open for the turkeys, green tree frogs, and armadillos, and don’t forget to have the camera ready! Your camping adventure will be nothing short of amazing at Orlando NW/Orange Blossom KOA, thanks to the well-maintained grounds, fishing, boating, and overall wonderful outdoor nature experience. This campsite is truly relaxing and as friendly as can be! You and your group will have a personal experience at this location that is known for being a “slice of paradise”!
Now, you know exactly where to go when you want to experience Orlando from a different perspective! These wonderful campgrounds offer an experience like no other, as you step away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and kick back in the true tranquility of nature. You’ll find peaceful, open spaces that allow you to enjoy Florida like never before. Enjoy your love for the great outdoors, taking in all of the scenic beauty that surrounds you at these hidden gems throughout Orlando and the surrounding area!

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An Ecotourist’s Guide to 3 of Panama’s Most Awe-Inspiring Natural Wonders

Panama Eco-tourism

One of the most exotic locations to experience natural pampering with a unique cultural twist is the southernmost Central American country of Panama. This breathtaking region links to South America via its border with Columbia and its singular sustainable customs showcase amazing eco-adventures, intriguing historical sites, and magnificent ocean backdrops.
Here indigenous and Latino communities welcome those seeking a one-of-a-kind scenic escape highlighted by superior wildlife conservation and stellar outdoor activities and accommodations. Take a look at why Panama is inspiring an increasing number of visitors to experience her awe-inspiring sights, sounds, and eco-friendly scenes that are spread across nearly 30% of the country.

Communing with Nature at Coiba Island National Park

The 38 islands off of Panama’s Pacific Coast play host to many of the country’s 10,000 native plants, 1,500 trees, and over a thousand bird species, garnering them the nickname ‘The New Galapagos.’ They are part the Gulf of Chiriquí’s Coiba National Park Marine Reserve, a 430,000-acre natural wonder where 700 marine species and numerous mammals thrive amidst a breathtaking background of white sand beaches and crystal clear aqua waters. UNESCO named Coiba Island a World Heritage site in 2005 because of its untouched biodiversity, and its central location makes it an off-the-beaten-path locale that’s still less than 200 miles from the bustling capital of Panama City.

Eco-Activities at and around Coiba Island

The diverse marine life at the islands makes scuba diving a favorite activity, and visitors have been known to encounter curious sea turtles, eels, white-tip reef sharks, and a wide array of colorful tropical fish. One of the favorite spots for both snorkeling and diving is Granito de Oro Island because of its unique volcanic formations that create a protected coral reef environment. On the east side of Coiba Island sits the enormous 350-acre Bahia Damas Reef, home to hammerhead sharks, manta rays, Pacific-spotted dolphins, and even humpback whales that have been known to interact with swimmers.
Wildlife also abounds in Coiba’s abundant rainforests, where coconut palms sway gently next to huge Espave trees. The park includes many miles of hiking trails that allow you to spot animals such as howler monkeys, scarlet macaws, white-tailed deer, and black iguanas. Coiba Island itself is a bird lover’s paradise and is home to several species found only in the region, such as the rust-colored spinetail and brown-backed dove. The island of Rancheria (aka Coibita) even houses a small research outpost of The Smithsonian Tropical Institute. The park’s numerous fun scuba diving, bird watching, hiking, and wildlife accredited eco-tours offer exciting day-trip and overnight adventures that will guide you through an impressive array of immersive ecological experiences.

The Nearby Eco-Retreats of Santa Catalina

The newest regional hotspot, Santa Catalina, is just an hour and a half boat ride from Coiba Island and is home to several restorative mind-body accommodations, including the community-centric Santa Catalina Retreats. Here, world-class yoga and surfing experiences await, as do connective adventures with the people in this relaxing, holistic fishing and farming village. Enjoy an oceanfront escape that combines modern, sustainably-built accommodations, adventurous wellness activities, fresh multicultural cuisine, and relaxed local rhythms. Santa Catalina is the primary jumping off point for the day and overnight trips to the beautiful landscapes of Coiba National Park.

Enjoying Biodiverse Adventures at the Panama Canal Watershed

The enormous Panama Canal Watershed was created when the mighty Chagres River was dammed near the entrance to the Atlantic Ocean in 1914 to create a canal passage that ran to the Pacific Ocean. It encompasses over 800,000 acres of pristine landscapes and provides drinking water and hydroelectric power to key parts of the nation. While the surrounding environment may have shifted course due to its creation, the canal mimics the natural opening that was present for millions of years.

Eco-Activities within the Canal Watershed

Today visitors can find numerous eco-adventures at and around the canal zone, including an amazing journey to Chagres National Park. Located just 30 miles from Panama City on the east side of the canal, this enormous nature preserve spans 300,000 acres and offers a diverse array of exciting outdoor experiences. The park’s namesake river showcases exciting Class II-III whitewater rafting experiences, and seasoned hikers can also experience historic guided tours along the legendary 16th century Camino Real (Royal Road) a Spanish route that takes you through rainforests and rugged mountain passes of the region. Here you’ll enjoy hands-on cultural and historical exploration as well as hospitality from the indigenous people who live along the trail.
Not to be outdone by its eastbound neighbor, the west side of the Panama Canal boasts its national park, known as Soberania. One of its major attractions is its diverse bird population, which is especially prominent along the famed Pipeline Road. The Audobon Society recorded a world-record 525 species at this location, including ground cuckoos, colorful trogons, brightly-marked toucans, crested eagles, and Broad-billed motmots. The 100-foot observation tower at the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center allows for optimal viewing these avians as well as sightings of two-and-three toed sloths, tamarin monkeys, coatimundis (raccoons), and over 100 other mammals, such as the forest’s elusive wild jaguars.
Kayakers can enjoy day trips along the 165 square miles of beautiful Lake Gatun, a waterway that was created when the Chagres River was dammed over 100 years ago. A boat trip from the park across the lake takes you to Barro Colorado Island, one of the oldest tropical research centers in the world. Visitors can also visit two other amazing research preserves: Punta Galeta sits along the Caribbean coastline at the northern tip of the canal minutes from Panama’s sixth largest city of Colon, and Punta Culebra Nature Center is located at the Pacific entrance to the canal in Panama City.

Eco-Friendly Watershed Lodging

Inside Soberania National Park sits the rich cultural, spiritual, and ecological warmth of the Gamboa Rainforest Resort. Here, you’ll find an open environment where the local Embera and Wuanaan people provide educational and artistic exhibits highlighting their holistic interactions with the environment. The resort also showcases an innovative wellness spa, an aerial tram, Lake Gatun boat expeditions, and Panamanian eco-guides with expert knowledge of the area. These innovative accommodations are just half an hour from Panama City and within minutes of the Canopy Tower Eco-Lodge, where wildlife watchers can get a ‘bird’s eye view’ from their treetop level bedrooms. Voted by the Ancient Forests Foundations as Best Ecolodge, the Canopy Tower offers a healthy mix of local and American family-style dining and a culturally rich, environmentally-integrative approach to tourism.
For those interested in staying closer to Chagres National Park, Los Altos de Cerro Azul overlooks the park and provides many unique bed and breakfasts, lodges, and hotels that blend seamlessly into the surrounding natural landscapes. Fan favorites include the Mandalas Lodge and La Semilla Ecolodge, where trekkers receive a refreshing welcome and a relaxing experience that includes an enchanting bird observatory, a rejuvenating Turkish bath, miles of local trails, and day trips to nearby Lake Bayano.

Hiking The America’s Largest Inhabited Volcano at El Valle

A short trip west along the Inter-American Highway from Panama City will take you to the lush mountain panoramas of the Anton Valley. Here you’ll find the majestic village of El Valle, which is located within the crater of the second largest inactive and inhabited volcano in the world. The valley is teeming with enchanting cloud-encased mountain peaks that reach up to 3,800 feet, and pre-Columbian stone petroglyphs which have yet to be deciphered. Multifaceted experiences await you in and around this timeless and vibrant Panamanian village.

Eco-Activities of El Valle

El Valle provides an eye-opening view of Panama’s unique ability to combine serious sustainability with even more serious fun. One of the visitors’ most talked-about experiences is the canopy zip lining tour that winds through the valley’s forests and over the amazing 115-foot Chorro El Macho Waterfall. Here you can catch sight of the native blue Morpho butterflies swooping over the pool below the falls, as you swing through the region’s unique ‘cloud forests’ which form when the fog lifts off the fauna and flora that’s spread across the jungle floor. Mountain climbers can try their stamina on the valley’s highest peak, Cerro Gaital which stands at approximately 3800 feet, a height at which you can get a stunning view of the village’s volcanic crater.
Besides world-class mountain hiking and breathtaking waterfalls, El Valle is also home to a thermal hot springs, an orchid center that features environmental presentations, fun horseback riding, and biking adventures, and even a one-of-a-kind sojourn into ‘The Valley of the Square Trees‘, where right angles replace circumferences, and researchers trying to solve the puzzle of a phenomenon seen nowhere else in the world. With her numerous jaw-dropping treasures, El Valle holds a little something for every eco-lover on your list.

Eco-Friendly Mountain Accommodations

The year-round spring-like temperatures make El Valle an ideal place to stay in Panama, and one of the most celebrated accommodations in the region is The Canopy Lodge. Built into the hills of the vibrant valley, this nature lover’s retreat allows you to experience the region’s mysterious cloud forests right outside your bedroom window, and take an extraordinary multi-day bird watching tour to the area’s most famous sites. The lodge also features its library, family-style dining, and environmentally-integrated swimming pool, and is just steps from Chorro El Macho waterfall. Many other ecologically-conscious accommodations also dot the landscape of this magnificent mountain town.
If you’re ready to bring more light, laughter, and community-engaging natural adventures into your world, there’s an abundance of eco-friendly adventures that await you in Panama. The country’s breathtaking mountains, rain forest, oceans, and islands offer you unparalleled cultural and outdoor experiences amidst a landscape of unbridled natural beauty and awe-inspiring ecological delights.

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Pony Trekking–Tour the English Countryside By Horseback

Pony trek Horseback riding travel in England

In Britain, a “pony trek” is a horseback ride that is undertaken primarily for sight-seeing purposes, at a slow pace. It does not necessarily mean you will be riding a pony (although most of the provided mounts are ponies or cobs – short, stocky horses that can carry larger animals). “Horse riding” or “trail riding” means a faster-paced ride for the fun of riding. Generally, you have to be willing to demonstrate basic riding skills to be allowed to go on a trail ride (unlike in the U.S., where the same term covers both). Pony trekking, however, is open to all, even if you have never sat on a horse before. A “pub trek” is a ride that visits local bars–it is not illegal to ride a horse under the influence in the UK, although drinking in moderation is best.
Most pony treks are one hour, a half day, or a full day. Although multi-day riding holidays are available, most are angled towards people who know how to ride. Here are a few tips:

Fitness

If you are not a rider, then even a one pony trekking ride can leave you saddle sore – that is to say, sore in the various muscles you use only when riding. The worst-hit areas are generally the inner thighs and the lower abs (below the belt). If you are planning a half day or full day ride (and certainly if you are booking a riding vacation), then you may want to work on your fitness some first. These exercises will prevent some of the soreness new riders or those who ride infrequently may experience.

What to Wear

Specialist riding gear is not necessary except for helmets. The center will provide helmets since it is illegal to ride on public trails or roads without a helmet in the UK.

In addition to that, you should wear:

  • Long pants– Riding in shorts is inadvisable. The best thing that’s likely to already be in your wardrobe is straight leg, “boyfriend” cut or boot cut jeans. Well fitting sweat pants can also work. Avoid skinny jeans, as they may interfere with your ability to get on and off the horse. Yoga pants are often too loose and may get caught on something.
  • Closed-toed shoes or boots with a bit of a heel– Boots are better than shoes. Avoid athletic shoes, which are particularly prone to get caught in the stirrups if something goes wrong. Hiking boots are also a bad idea because of the broader soles. Also avoid fashion cowboy boots with a very smooth sole, as you will have no grip.
  • A plain, long-sleeved top–Short sleeves might be tempting, but long sleeves will protect you from sun, wind, and accidents.
  • Gloves– Gloves protect your hands from blisters. Cycling gloves are great. Do not ride in plain wool gloves, as the reins will slip right through your hands, especially if they are wet from rain or horse sweat. Trust me.
  • Wicking cotton socks 
  •  Sports bra–For ladies, or a bra that is particularly comfortable and reduces “jiggle.”
  • Sunglasses–Sunglasses are a good idea, especially if you don’t wear prescription glasses. Some people also prefer to ride with a strap to hold their glasses in place.

Choosing a Place to Go

Keep in mind the following when choosing a place to go pony trekking:

  • You get what you pay for. Typical rates (in 2018) work out to around $30-40 an hour. Anything much less than that should be a red flag.
  • Look for a center that is approved by the ABRS (Association of British Riding Schools) or BHS (British Horse Society). These mean that the center and guides have to meet fairly stringent standards of competence and safety.
  • Check reviews on TripAdvisor and similar to see what other customers are saying.

Some great places to try include Snowdonia Riding Stables in North Wales, Loch Lomond Pony Trekking in Scotland, and Masham Riding & Trekking Centre in Yorkshire. The last mentioned has been around for over twenty-five years to my knowledge (the website claims thirty) and uses almost entirely purebred Highland Ponies, a gorgeous rare breed.

Safety

  • Horseback riding is considered a high-risk activity. As previously mentioned, helmets are required in the UK and are provided. Many centers will also not allow you to ride in unsuitable footwear. However, despite that, accidents on the trail are rare, especially if you take the following precautions:
  • Pay attention to the guide. If English is not your first language or if you have issues which might cause you to have difficulty hearing and understanding, talk to them in advance about the issue.
  • Avoid over consumption of alcohol, including on those “pub treks.” If you are too impaired to drive, you are too impaired to ride.
  • If you have young children, don’t let them wander into stalls or barns.
    Stay one length from the horse in front. For those who don’t ride, you should be able to see the hocks, that is the middle joint of the leg, of the horse in front between your horse’s ears.
  • If wearing a jacket, keep it zipped up. Floppy jackets can startle horses.
    Don’t approach a horse from behind or walk behind a horse. Yes, even if you see the guides and grooms doing it. They know how but you may not.
  • Make sure that you are covered by travel insurance if something does go wrong.

Pony trekking is a great way to see the British countryside. The small horses often used may come from breeds that are rare in Britain and all but unheard of outside (Highland Ponies, Dales Cobs, etc). You can reach areas that would otherwise need a difficult hike to access. It’s worth trying to make time during your British vacation for an hour on horseback.

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The World’s Top 5 Waterfalls for Adventurers and Romantics

Victoria Falls

Take waterfalls for example. These wonders are pure nature, but can also have the same emotional impact as the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s busiest cities. Depending on the nature surrounding it, they can attract adventurers and romantics alike.
Whether you’re looking for a thrilling adventure or serene natural beauty, here are the world’s top five waterfalls for you to visit.

1) Niagara Falls, Canada

This fall is famous for a reason. As the world’s second largest waterfall by volume, 7,000 cubic meters per second make their way from the top to the bottom. But the reason it ranks top on this list is a different one: sheer accessibility.
The Niagara Falls is right on the border between the United States and Canada. By most measures, the Canadian side is more impressive. But between the two of them, both sides offer a wide range of ways to experience the falling water masses.
Most visitors enjoy a boat trip on the famous Maid of the Mist, right to the bottom of the fall. The U.S. side offers the Cave of the Winds, a way to get close to the water by foot. Finally, a number of walkways on the Canadian side offer almost direct access to the falls that allow you to get close with this spectacular natural wonder.

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Victoria Falls

2) Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Here, we have the only waterfall in the world even more massive than Niagara Falls. It is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Every second, up to 40,000 cubic meters of water fall down a height of more than 300 feet. Even more impressive, the entirety of the fall line is a full mile long. “Impressive” doesn’t even begin to describe this sheer display of natural power.
While the official name comes from a British explorer, its native name The Smoke that Thunders perhaps describes it even better. The gorges are especially beautiful to visit during dusk and dawn when the rising and falling sun shines onto the falling water in gorgeous tones.

3) Sutherland Falls, New Zealand

That New Zealand is widely considered one of the world’s most beautiful countries in terms of nature should come as no surprise. Neither should the fact that it also happens to be home to one of earth’s most famous and beautiful waterfalls.
The Sutherland Falls are nothing like Niagara or Victoria. Only a thin strip of water falls down a large mountain amidst lush vegetation surrounding it. At more than 1,000 feet, it is one of the world’s highest waterfalls.
Make no mistake: Sutherland Falls is not easy to access. It’s a destination for adventurers, rather than romantics. But if you can brace the remote and challenging Milford hiking track, you will be rewarded with one of the most beautiful waterfalls you can imagine.

4) Angel Falls, Venezuela

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Angel Falls

What can go wrong when visiting a natural attraction named after a heavenly creature? If Angel Falls is any indication, not much. As it turns out, visiting this destination is nothing short of supernatural.
If you thought 1,000 feet was impressive, how do you feel about the 3,200 feet uninterrupted fall in Venezuela? That number makes it the highest waterfall in the world. And the supernatural element doesn’t stop there.
Angel Falls is a waterfall that does not originate from a stream or river, but simply the water accumulated at the plateau of the mystical Auyán-tepui mountain from which it falls. Its local nickname, Mundo Perdido (Lost World), certainly rings true.

5) Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

We end the post with not just one, but a collection of waterfalls that form one of the most stunning lake districts in the world. The Plitvice National Park is home to no less than 16 individual lakes, all connected with waterfalls that are nothing short of gorgeous.
The tallest of the falls is ‘only’ 230 feet tall, and none of the is particularly wide. What makes this area so unique is how all of them work together to form a park that seems like it came straight out of a mystical fantasy novel.
In winter, the waterfalls accomplish a rare feat: they freeze and become even more beautiful. But the same mystical element remains throughout the year, as well. For the fans of nature and romantics among us, Plitvice National Park is a bucket list item to visit.
Each of these waterfalls is well worth a visit, for a variety of reasons. All offer exceptional natural beauty. While some impress through their sheer power, others almost seem delicate. Regardless of which you choose to visit, it will be a journey that you won’t soon forget.

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Local’s Guide To Wild, Wonderful West Virginia

West Virginia Whitewater Rafting Trips

Mountain peaks rise in the distance, silhouetted against a painted sunrise. The wilderness is broken up only by the highway you travel and an occasional cabin or store. No hustle and bustle. No overcrowded cityscape. No smog. Just a natural peace that reigns supreme over the land in front of you.
No, this isn’t some long-forgotten paradise in a country far, far away. It’s right here in the United States, closer than you think. If this sounds like the perfect start to your vacation, then you’ll feel right at home in wild, wonderful West Virginia.

Friendly Locals & A Vast Wilderness

The license plates in West Virginia read “wild, wonderful,” and it’s such an accurate description of the majority of the state. Yes, there are some larger towns (like Charleston), but most of the state is full of barely-inhabited mountains.
The locals are incredibly friendly and eager to chat. Expect to spend half an hour speaking with the owners at every cute store you stop at—and there are plenty of those. West Virginians are incredibly proud of their state, and it is one place where tiny local shops thrive – they frequent these to support their neighbors.
There is a surprising amount of things to do and see for a state mostly overgrown with natural flora and fauna. Among these are thrill-seeking adventures, unique historic sites, a budding art district, and an array of unclassifiable adventures.
If you find yourself in West Virginia, make sure you see or do as many of the following as possible. But also remember to take time to relax! This state is perfect for relaxing, offering a picturesque idea of “the way things used to be.”

New River Gorge Bridge

One of the most photographed places in the entire state, the New River Gorge Bridge holds two distinct titles. It is the longest steel span bridge in the western hemisphere and the third highest bridge in the United States.
The bridge was a project undertaken to help make the trek across the New River easier on commuters and travelers alike. It successfully transformed a 40-minute drive down steep mountain roads into a quick, 30-second drive across a beautiful steel bridge.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

This lunatic asylum was constructed during the late 1800s to house 250 people. During the 1950s, however, nearly two-and-a-half thousand people were being kept here. Conditions were unlivable. Tales of abuse, murder, and much more abounded before it closed in 1994.
Locals say the asylum is haunted and it has even been the subject of several ghost hunting television shows. If you want to test the rumors out for yourself, you can schedule a guided ghost tour through the asylum’s website.

Waterfalls

Since the state is mountainous, with little flat land to speak of, it naturally boasts a significant number of breathtaking waterfalls. To experience the naturalistic beauty of West Virginia for yourself, hike out into the wilderness a bit and view some of the 200+ falls.
A few of the most popular waterfalls in the state include:
Blackwater Falls – located near Davis, WV in Blackwater Falls State Park
Lower Hill Creek Falls – located near Marlinton in Richwood County
Cathedral Falls – just a mile north of the Gauley Bridge
Sandstone Falls – located on the infamous New River

Covered Bridges

West Virginia is home to an incredible 17 quaint, historic covered bridges. Some of them—like the Philippi Covered Bridge in Barbour County—are important Civil war sites. That one is the site of the first land battle which ever took place during the Civil War. The same person who built that bridge in 1852 also built the Barrackville Covered Bridge in Marion County.
Another one of note is the Indian Creek Covered Bridge. It was built in 1904 by “master masons” who ranged from only 16 to 18 years old!

White Water Rafting on the New River

Seeking some adventure and thrills during your trip? Then you need to go white water rafting on the New River. It spans around 360 miles, with some areas gushing quickly and others meandering slowly. The adventure is also a fairly affordable one, with half-day trips starting at around $70 – lunch included!
Fun fact: The “New” River is actually one of the oldest rivers in America. It is also one of the most-frequented travel destinations in West Virginia.

The Tamarack

This unique destination is an art lover’s paradise. A sprawling building with a distinctly peaked red roof, The Tamarack is an exhibition of the finest pieces West Virginian artists have to offer. Every item available for purchase, food ready to eat, and shop owner are born-and-bred West Virginian.
The grounds themselves are a work of art, featuring sculptures and a meticulously designed landscape. The atmosphere is both inviting and awe-inspiring. You can find homemade wood carvings, soaps, candles, paintings, and anything else you could imagine.

Exhibition Coal Mine

West Virginia notable for its coal mining history, so a trip to the state would not be complete without a visit to the Exhibition Coal Mine in Beckley. Which also hosts an amazing dirt racing track if you want to spend the day in the town.
For a small fee of $22 ($12.50 for children), visitors can travel to the old underground coal mining tunnels with a former miner who shares what life was really like when working them. There is a museum, gift shop, and coal mining camp. For safety reasons, it only runs during the warmer months for the general public.
Your trip to wild, wonderful West Virginia just wouldn’t be complete without these amazing destinations—each as unique as the state itself. Whether it’s adventure, relaxation, or history that you’re looking for, the state has something to offer everyone. It is no wonder why West Virginians are so proud of their homeland.

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4 of The Most Scenic Adventures in Maine

Acadia National Park trip in Maine

From (nearly) impossible mountain hikes and a carousel of great camping sites to famous canoe trails snaking through hundreds of miles of pristine wilderness, Maine is home to a series of unforgettable destinations ideally suited for the adventurous soul. With so many options, however, consider a few of these can’t-miss possibilities to get you started on an inspiring trek to the Pine Tree State. Here are a few of the most scenic adventures in Maine.

Biking Adventures in Maine from Bar Harbor to Acadia National Park and beyond

If you’re looking to have a biking adventure in Maine, look no further than Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. It’s nothing but you, the road, and a stunning combination of coastal and forest views after you hop on a bike in Bar Harbor and head out to see the sights. A cozy, 5,000-person town on Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor has long been a summer getaway and it has turned into a biker’s paradise thanks to the incredible list of bike-able destinations nearby, most notably Acadia National Park. There is no wrong way to do Acadia, yet some of the visitors having the most fun are always the ones on two wheels zipping through the park’s many miles of tall forests, old stone bridges, and majestic ponds and lakes.
On the Carriage Roads course, bikers have up to 57 miles of car-free biking paths to cruise through, 45 of which are a part of Acadia. Designed and financed by John D. Rockefeller between 1913 and 1940, Carriage Roads is now a timeless classic of Mount Desert Island and a draw for both experienced bikers and more casual sightseers.
While you can certainly spend an entire vacation just biking Mount Desert Island, another excellent way to go is to cross the bridge to the mainland and continue through a series of quaint towns that highlight some of the best of Maine living. A popular route is biking from to inn to inn from Bar Harbor all the way to Boothbay Harbor, a 118-mile jaunt filled with terrific sights and cozy accommodations. Even if you’re not up for the entire journey, there are plenty of worthwhile stopping points on the way, where you can pick up a car rental and complete the trip to Boothbay. However you choose to do it, the central coastal region of Maine has some of the very best biking you’ll find anywhere in New England, or the United States at large.

Go camping and stargazing nearly off the map at Cutler Coast

The adventures you can experience in Acadia National Park are so vast that many unfamiliar to Maine don’t realize how many other good camping sites there are throughout the state. A place that holds its own with anything you’ll find in Acadia is the Cutler Coast, a spec of immaculate land nearly all the way to the eastern tip of Maine. The Cutler Coast Public Reserved Land is ideal for truly getting away from everyday life and experiencing the world of Maine at its purest, and you won’t even miss that you don’t have much (or any) cell service while you’re gallivanting around the gorgeous terrain surrounding your campsite.
Take your friends to have a stargazing adventure in Maine. Cutler is also a wonderland thanks to its distance from any light pollution. Take your friends to have a stargazing adventure in Maine. Although campsites all over Cutler offer outstanding glimpses of the night sky, dog-friendly Cobscook Bay State Park is only a short drive away and is another renowned spot that brings out both locals and visitors with their telescopes. Tent sites at both places are very reasonable and can be booked far in advance online.
In addition to being a true getaway in every sense of the word, the Cutler area also has no shortage of great hikes and outstanding scenery thanks to a rugged coastline of vertiginous rocks and beautiful sea inlets, which has helped it earn comparisons to some of the most famous scenery in Ireland. For nature lovers, the opportunities for animal encounters are plentiful, especially for bird watchers who might love to catch the sight of a bald eagle soaring overhead.

Canoe the mesmerizing Northern Forest Canoe Trail

If you ever wanted to travel up to 740 miles by canoe (374 miles within Maine), the Northern Forest Canoe Trail is one of the best ways in the world to do exactly that. Opened in 2006, the trail starts all the way near the Maine-New Brunswick border at Fort Kent and doesn’t end until it hits the Adirondack Mountains in New York, taking canoers through dozens of rivers, lakes, and streams alongside many of Maine’s most beautiful natural features. Although the trail is gorgeous any time of the year, it’s nothing short of stunning in the early portions of fall with the classic Maine foliage hovering over the waterways.
Doing the entire trail isn’t practical unless you’re an extreme canoer. If you’re looking for a more tame canoeing adventure in Maine, there are plenty of worthwhile shorter trips that will give you a taste of what the trail has to offer. Section eight of the trail picks up at the New Hampshire-Maine border and pushes east from Umbagog Lake to Rangeley Lake, taking travelers through a wildlife refuge that is famous for its terrific birdwatching and overall sightseeing. Sections 10 and 11 – in central Maine – are also both on the shorter side while more adventurous types might head to the remote north country to tackle section 13 from Umsaskis Lake to St. John River.
If the Northern Forest Canoe Trail sounds a little too intimidating, there are other great areas perfect for relaxing on the water. Just east of Portland, Casco Bay, Cape Small, and Cape Elizabeth all have outstanding kayaking and boating options, as does Highland Lake, which is less than a half-hour from downtown Portland and is a popular spot for the locals in the summer.

Scale to the summit of Baxter Peak of Mount Katahdin

There are plenty of low-key adventures in Maine worth taking embarking on during a trip to Maine. Hiking to the top of Baxter Peak on Mount Katahdin isn’t necessarily one of them, especially if you plan to cross the terrifying Knife Edge for a once-in-a-lifetime thrill. The tallest point in Maine and the northern end of the famous Appalachian Trail, Mount Katahdin is about a mile above sea level and is an awe-inspiring bastion of granite jutting into the sky, complete with a variety of different hikes that tailor to all different hiking abilities.
While the Saddle Trail (near campsite Chimney Pond) is on the light and easy side for hikers headed to Baxter Peak, other hikes like the Cathedral Ridge Route and the Dudley Trail are not typically a good idea for inexperienced hikers. For the truly brave, the Knife Edge is an adrenaline-pumping pathway that takes hikers from Pamola Peak to Baxter Peak, offering dramatic mountain views throughout the most treacherous paths that most will traverse in a lifetime. Only a few feet wide at its most harrowing points, Knife Edge is for experienced hikers with good balance (and confidence), and it’s famous for yielding some of the most breathtaking views of Baxter Peak that you’ll find.
No matter which trail of you choose, you are sure to have an adventure. However, Mount Katahdin – like Maine as a whole – is well worth the hype for anyone who can’t get enough of the outdoors. If you’re looking for beautiful scenery, great hikes and plenty of biking paths, Maine might be the place for you to have your next adventure.
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