16 Fun Ways To Enjoy ‘Earth Day’ Travel Ideas All Year Long - http://travelporn.info | luxury travel sitesApril 9, 2018 5:51 pm
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Travelers are often the best cheerleaders for celebrating our world’s natural beauty and bounty. Inspired by Earth Day, held on April 22, here is a fun look at 16 terra-terrific vacation ideas — grouped into the four elements: earth, wind/air, fire and water. Where do you want to go?
1 EXPLORE COLOSSAL CAVES OF KENTUCKY
As the world’s longest cave system with more than 400 miles of mapped terrain beneath a hilly landscape and valley, Kentucky‘s Mammoth Cave National Park rightly earns its razzle-dazzle spotlight as spelunking heaven. Its enormous chambers and looping labyrinths are entrancing eye-openers. Tune in as park rangers turn you on to learning about cool new environmental monitoring programs. Then drive approximately 40 miles southwest to entertainment-abundant Bowling Green, where Kentucky’s Lost River Cave, a seven-mile cave system with a massive entrance that reveals a cathedral-like cavern, boasts the only underground boat tour in the state. Admire 60 aboveground acres of wooded nature trails.
2 HIKE THE DEPTHS OF NEW MEXICO
Encompassing more than 120 caves beneath the biologically diverse Chihuahuan Desert — itself laced with rocky canyons and craggy ledges, blooming cacti and myriad wildlife — is the spectacular Carlsbad Caverns National Park in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. Its physical grandeur is only part of the allure, as park rangers lead tours that explain the caverns’ human history from prehistoric times to American Indian habitation, then European exploration and present U.S. supervision. On the National Register of Historic Places, Carlsbad Caverns also showcases a museum with park archives, artifacts and one-million-plus cultural resources. From late April through October, hundreds of bats swiftly emerge from the cave’s gargantuan entrance every late afternoon-evening as dusk settles. They soar-swirl-swoop in circles above, filling the sky. It is a stunning sunset dance of the bats.
3 WANDER UNDERGROUND WONDERS OF VIRGINIA
In Virginia‘s Shenandoah Valley, Luray Caverns is a geological thrill — with towering stone columns, an immense Giant’s Hall, Titania’s Veil (a cascading formation of calcite, the crystalline form of limestone) and a dreamy subterranean lake. The region is dotted with picturesque farms, charming towns, farmers’ markets and quaint inns. Where to stay: Hotel Laurence, a boutique property in Luray.
4 BE AWED BY A DESERT IN CHILE
In Chile‘s northeastern high plateau of San Pedro de Atacama, near the Andes Mountains, the all-inclusive Explora Atacama resort is cocooned on 42 acres that neighbor sand dunes and salt pans, red soil esplanades and hot springs. Hike, horseback ride and cycle via more than 40 Explora tours. This multi-hued, mesmerizing desert-scape is often called other-worldly. Explora, which also owns properties in Chile’s Patagonia and Easter Island, as well as Peru’s Sacred Valley, operates on a philosophy of embracing riveting remote areas with exuberant excursions while accommodating travelers in luxurious lodgings.
WIND / AIR
5 SUMMIT A SKY-HIGH PERCH IN NEVADA
At 10,776 feet high, Mount Rose grandly embellishes the skyline of Nevada‘s Reno metro area and northern Lake Tahoe. The pass between Mount Rose and Tahoe Meadows is a favorite vacation escape for hikers and campers. Follow the Tahoe Rim Trail past woods of hemlock and limber pine, expanses of seasonal wildflowers and a gushing year-round waterfall. Then hoof a rockier ascent on the Mount Rose Summit Trail, the elevation of which is 8,915 feet. By the round-trip finish, approximately 10.6 miles will have been stomped by your boots. This is a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other way to spend an accomplished-feeling physical day, getting to better know the Earth. Where to stay: Reno’s boutique Whitney Peak Hotel holds the Guinness Book of World Record for the tallest rock climbing wall at 164 feet. Its Basecamp sports a humongous climbing gym and fitness center with a 7,000-square-foot indoor bouldering park.
6 FEEL UPLIFTED VIA A HELICOPTOR IN ECUADOR
High-Altitude Heli Tours with Metropolitan Touring whirls above this extraordinarily diverse country that straddles South America’s equator, from which Ecuador gets its name. Swoon over sweeping vistas of Pacific beaches, Andean cloud forests, Amazon rainforests, Highland Indian villages, colonial cities, snow-topped mountains and vast volcanos. Lift off after an eye-candy visit to Ecuador’s 9,350-foot-high capital of Quito, layered with a well-preserved colonial center, 16th- and 17th-century churches and buildings influenced by European, Moorish and indigenous cultures. Where to stay: Quito’s Renaissance-style, gracious and lovely Casa Gangotena, which was built as an aristocrat’s home in 1534.
7 SKY DIVE OVER UTAH
Is this the year to write sky-diving on your bucket list? Or to parachute yet again in a new horizon? Moab in southeastern Utah — near red-rock Arches National Park and buttes-and-mesas Canyonlands National Park — offers joyful jump-scapes. Sky Dive Moab runs well-regarded aerial adventures. For additional on-the-go-on-the-ground revelry, opt for epic whitewater rafting, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and jeeping. And don’t miss the Native American rock art and dinosaur tracks.
8 GO UP, UP, AND AWAY IN A BEAUTIFUL BALLOON ABOVE ARIZONA
In Phoenix, Arizona, colorfully float with Rainbow Ryders above the Sonoran Desert — home to a remarkable multitude of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, bees and more than 2,000 plants. With decades of top-flight know-how, Rainbow Ryders is the biggest business of its kind in the southwestern U.S. The desert is also an exciting playground for biking, hiking, canyoneering, rock-climbing, kayaking and paddle boarding, all of which will make you extra hungry, so delve into Phoenix’s stellar, award-winning restaurant scene. In the spirit of Earth Day, also choose eateries with al fresco scenic outlooks or under-the-stars patios. Then, toast the sun down. Where to stay in Phoenix: At the base of Camelback Mountain, unwind at stately The Royal Palms Resort and Spa — a Spanish Colonial-inspired hideaway with Mediterranean and hacienda accents that date to the 1920s — which is approached on an entrance driveway flanked by regal palm trees. A soothing, pampering retreat, its open-air Alvadora Spa is notable for wellness classes. Or de-stress at legendary Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria Resort with eight pools, a 92-foot water slide, traditional sophisticated afternoon tea, an elaborate Biltmore Spa and a heritage festooned with VIP guests: presidents, celebrities and business titans.
9 SCUBA DIVE OFF THE COASTS OF TURKS & CAICOS
Travelers with young children have long sung the praises of all-inclusive, family-friendly Beaches Resorts. Its Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa is a particularly splash-happy haven. Located on the Caribbean island of Providenciales, on gorgeous 12-mile Grace Bay Beach, the resort, which is grouped into different village-themed accommodations, centerpieces an indulgent 45,000-square-foot waterpark. For family members able to scuba, the Turks & Caicos Islands offer among the most amazing underwater dive sites on Earth — and this resort provides unlimited, all-included diving opportunities with PADI-certified instruction, as well as a fleet of new state-of-the-art Newton dive boats. Other water sports include snorkeling, paddle-boarding, wake-boarding, water-skiing, glass-bottom boating, tubing, Aqua-triking, Hobie Cat sailing, wind-surfing and kayaking. Or laze in a water hammock.
10 SWIM AMID THE GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS IN ECUADOR
Six hundred miles off the Pacific coast of Ecuador lies the inimitable Galápagos Islands — like no other place on Earth. Metropolitan Touring is a leader in guided journeys to Ecuador, Peru, Columbia and the volcanic archipelago of Galápagos, an isolated region that holds an astonishing array of plant and animal species, many of which are not found anywhere else. In 1835, it is here that Charles Darwin jumpstarted his theory of evolution. Metropolitan Touring’s eco-green, comfy-deluxe Finch Bay Galápagos Hotel — Puerto Ayora’s sole beachfront property on Santa Cruz Island near Tortuga Bay and the Charles Darwin Research Centre — and its newest Santa Cruz II ship are ace sightseeing springboards. These islands are distinctly inhabited by green sea turtles, Darwin finches, pink iguanas, lava lizards, Galápagos doves, Galápagos penguins, flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, Galápagos sea lions and more. Finch Bay presents gourmet meals by a Cordon Bleu-trained chef; relish Ecuadorian sweets and savories at dining tables set under the night sky, studded with stars.
11 EYE THE UNDERWATER WORLD VIA SHIP
The polished, gastronomy-exalting French cruise line, Ponant, currently with a five-ship fleet, will launch the elegant Le Lapérouse this June, the first of six new Explorer ships that reveals a world’s first: the Blue Eye multi-sensory lounge, ensconced seven feet beneath the water line with two portholes in the shape of a whale eye, designed by Jacques Rougerie, a renown French architect-oceanographer who excels in devising underwater habitats. A rousing sound system, orchestrated by music-composer-and-sound-design-maven Michel Redolfi, will stream live sea sounds into the lounge from a three-mile radius. Digital screens will also feed live video footage from three cameras secured beneath the ship to maximize the experience. Sofas will gently vibrate in unison with the acoustics. Le Lapérouse and its stylish sister expedition-level ships will be specially engineered to circumnavigate the Earth — with captivating stops in Iceland, Scandinavia, the North Sea, the Mediterranean, Greece, Egypt, the Seychelles, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia, among other far-flung ports. Ambitious plans for an ice-breaker ship is in the works for a 2021 christening.
12 SNORKEL AND MORE IN GRENADA
On the southwest coast of the Caribbean’s lush island of Grenada is the world’s first Underwater Sculpture Park (part of the Molinière-Beauséjour Marine Protected Area), a man-made reef approximately 25 feet below the water’s surface displaying more than 100 statues that form 13 artworks made from a resilient, reduced-pH cement that promotes coral development — successful in attracting marine life and raising human awareness of pro-environment priorities. British artist Jason deCaires Taylor jumpstarted the project, casting many of his figures from real women and children of Grenada. Especially evocative are The Lost Correspondent (a man with typewriter at a desk topped by historical newspaper clippings) and Vicissitudes (life-size figures of local children, holding hands in a circle). Several dive operators coordinate tours. Where to stay: The all-inclusive Sandals LaSource resort includes complimentary, unlimited PADI-certified dives to the Underwater Sculpture Park as well as an ingenious SNUBA system in which a long airline, harnessed to a raft and supervised by an instructor, enables snorkelers to visit this submerged site. Fifteen shipwrecks surround Grenada, which has the largest wreck dive site in the Caribbean, the Bianca C, located just outside the St. Georges Harbor. On land, Grenada, called the Spice Island, is a major exporter of nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and bay leaves. You’ll savor the scented air.
13 CLIMB A VOLCANO IN COSTA RICA
As the top-notch travel expert for 18 to 35 year olds, Contiki crafts action-packed, meaningful getaways appealing to millennials — more than 300 lively sojourns to six continents, guided by a #noregrets belief that life’s greatest lessons are learned through travel and that coloring outside the lines is a good thing, a way to stretch yourself. For example, its 14-day Costa Rica Unplugged trip swings, zings, zips and dips through thick jungles, butterfly sanctuaries, cloud-draped mountains, rejuvenating hot springs and along hikes into the 29,692-acre Arenal Volcano National Park, itself part of the larger 504,094-acre Arenal Conservation Area, which protects 16 reserves. Costa Rica, in Central America, takes its Earth responsibilities passionately: 26% of Costa Rica is set aside for conservation and nature-protected territory. Covering merely .03 percent of the globe’s surface, the country contains 5% of existing planet-wide biodiversity, an astounding ratio. This nation’s motto is Pura Vida (pronounced poo-rah vee-dah). It means simple life or pure life — and is a revered way of living.
14 BE WOWED BY A VA-VA-VOOM VOLCANO IN ITALY
Italy‘s Mount Etna is not only Europe’s highest volcano (currently topping an elevation of 10,808 feet), but also one of Earth’s most active. Rising majestically on the east coast of the geographically diverse island of Sicily, Mount Etna is avidly guided by many tour companies on hiking, jeeping and mountain biking expeditions. Excursions Etna employs geologists, botanists and naturalists — a science-savvy way to boost travelers’ understanding. Where to stay: The artistic, pretty town of Taormina (its history harkens to ancient Greeks and Romans, who built an amphitheater that is still in use today for concerts, festivals and other events). Taormina’s cliffside Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo and seaside Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea are both exquisite properties with indulgent spas and applauded restaurants.
15 WATCH MOLTEN LAVA FLOW IN HAWAII
In Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, covering 330,000 acres on the Big Island of Hawai’i, two of the world’s most vigorous volcanos — Kīlauea and Mauna Loa — remind humans of the Earth’s primordial forces: formidable and ever-changing. Check in at the visitors center upon arrival at the park; rangers provide helpful advice about weather and volcanic conditions. The park is open 24 hours a day; often sunrise or sunset offer the most dramatic views. The present summit of Mauna Loa stands about 56,000 feet, as measured from the depressed sea floor. To put that awesome fact in perspective: It is more than 27,000 feet higher than Mount Everest, a continental volcano. Kīlauea‘s molten lava flows vividly to the sea. For daily Kīlauea eruption notices with video, go here. Relish a Jurassic Park-like adventure, walking through the Thurston Lava Tube, carved by lava about 500 years ago. There are 150 jaw-dropping miles of wilderness trails, some ruggedly remote such as Halapē, others challenging such as Crater Rim Trail and yet others brimming with rainforest greenery such Halema‘uma‘u Trail. More than 1,000 native species of flowering plants grow in Hawai’i; 90% are endemic, found only here. Where to stay: Within the national park, Historic Volcano House is wondrously perched on the rim of the Kīlauea caldera with a view toward Halema’uma’u Crater. At Crater’s Edge, a more intimate lodging with two private vacation rental studios, is nestled one mile from the park in the arts community of Volcano. Prefer larger, full-service pampering? A two-hour drive away is The Fairmont Orchid with tropical gardens, waterfalls, white sand beach, lagoon, spa, 10,000-square-foot pool, fitness center, tennis pavilion and a children’s program.
16 TREK A VOLCANO IN WASHINGTON STATE
Washington State‘s 110,000-acre Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, 50 miles northeast of Portland, Oregon and 96 miles south of Seattle, is a sought-after walkabout for both novice and seasoned climbers, although every route includes some steep inclines. Infamous for its cataclysmic 5.1 magnitude earthquake in 1980 that eliminated the entire north face (the largest observed landslide in recorded history), the approximate 8,363-foot Mount St. Helens Volcano is positioned in the Cascade Range along the Cascade Volcanic Arc, a portion of the Pacific Rim of Fire that includes more than 160 active volcanoes. Mount St. Helens, known for its pyroclastic flows and ash explosions, is closely watched by the U.S. Geological Survey. There are campgrounds and cabins in the Mount St. Helens vicinity. Go, too, for the bicycling, fishing, hiking, horseback riding and bird-watching — the area’s other welcoming, nature-loving diversions.
It’s a big Earth. Get out there.