ANTELOPE CANYON Soak in awe-inspiring visions of nature
While the Grand Canyon is perhaps Arizona’s most famous canyon, it is surrounded by many smaller, yet equally impressive, canyons such as Antelope Canyon. This deep, narrow canyon, known as a “slot canyon,” was gently carved from the Navajo sandstone over the course of countless millenniums.
Walk along the sandy floor of either the Upper or Lower Antefope canyons as you gaze up into the dream-like landscape of constantly changing colors and moving shafts of sunlight. Some of the canyon slots are so narrow in places you can stretch your arms out and touch the cool walls from side to side. It is a photographer’s wonderland, so don’t forget your camera.
Note: You must have an authorized guide to hike the upper and lower areas of Antelope Canyon.
HOW TO GET THERE
Antelope Canyon is located near Page on Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, just outside Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. For a scenic drive, begin your journey a few miles northeast of Cow Spring on U.S. Route 160 and end 66 miles later in Page at U.S. Route 89.
From the lively mix of old and new to sugary beaches, Panama is one of Latin America’s most buzzed-about destinations. This alluring gateway between nature and culture is an absolute must for ecotourism with a spark. Go for the lush rainforests, stay for the sustainable resorts, great restaurants, and stylish vibe that’s garnered comparisons to Hong Kong and Miami.
WHERE TO STAY: Panama City is often described as three cities in one-old Panama, colonial Panama, and modern Panama-with hotels ranging from centuriesold mansions to five-star boutiques. Centrally located in the shopping and financial district, The Bristol strikes a balance with lovely old-world elegance and one of the best restaurants in town, Barandas, which serves Panamanian specialties by award-winning chef Cuquita Arias.
WHAT TO SEE: Going green gets a massive splash of style in Panama City. Located within city limits, minutes from downtown’s shops, the Metropolitan National Park is a true “urban jungle.” However, an even sleeker take on ecotourism is the new Museum of Biodiversity, which looks more like a contemporary art museum than an ecological showcase.
WHERE TO GO: The city’s seamless flow between nature and skyline only hints at the extraordinary beauty that lies beyond.
San Blas Islands: The fully sustainable Coral Lodge has secluded bungalows right on the water’s edge with infinity-pool-like access to snorkeling and diving.
Bocas del Toro Archipelago: Relax in the pure surroundings of the solar-powered Punta Caracol Acqua-Lodge, then explore mangrove forests and offshore coral reefs in the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, which is just a short boat ride away.
Mountain Region: In the Chiriqui province, visit the soaring Baru Volcano National Park-from its peak, travelers can see both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
MACHU PICCHU NEARLY OOZES MYSTERY DRAWING THOSE WITH A BOLD SPIRIT UNQUENCHABLE CURIOSITY OR A STRONG INHALER TOWARD THE CAPTIVATING RUINS. MAYBE IT IS MACHU PICCHU’S ANCIENT CHARM THAT TURNS PEOPLE INTO WORLD-CLASS CLIMBERS, OR IT’S SENSE OF MYSTERY AND PLACE. ENIGMATIC BY NATURE, LEGENDS SHROUD THIS CULTURAL LANDMARK. SHAMAN MYTHS EVEN SUGGEST MACHU PICCHU IS A SORT OF PORTAL TO THE SPIRIT WORLD- A PLACE WHERE OLD MEETS NEW IN A SUPERFLUOUS UNION.
For the world-class traveler, Machu Picchu-situated 7,000 feet above sea level-does not disappoint. Hike the Inca Trail for an adventure that lasts any where from two days and one night to eight days and seven nights. After days in the sun, where donkeys bearing human cargo scale teetering lodges and helicopters hover over the landscape to offer you breathtaking views, unwind in a five-star hotel conveniently located in Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire. To the joy of history buffs and the jet set elite, these hotels boast a union of old and new that is sure to entice. For thousands of years, the sacred site has been the destination of pilgrimages and long spiritual journeys, and even today, mystery radiates from the ruins. Machu Picchu is one of the rare places where an undeniable sacredness coexists in the midst of all that is thoroughly modern. It is this integrity and ancient charm that unleashes the world-class hiker in all of us, coerces out endurance we never knew we had and makes us appreciate such natural marvels in our world.
Boasting expansive archways and architectural ingenuity, Hotel Monasterio was founded in the consecrated San Antonio Abaci seminary and is a national historical landmark. The building was restored and a chapel was added after an earthquake in 1650. The Baroque-style hotel features gold-plated frames and paintings of the life of San Antonio Abad by the most innovative artists of the Cusquenian Art School. Relax in your Spanish-style room and enjoy nature in the hotel’s courtyard, which features a soft fountain and 300-year-old cedar trees, gardens and stone cloisters. Enjoy a buffet breakfast and Saturday Inca dinners at the hotel’s El Tupay Restaurant or visit the Main Square/Courtyard for lunch and dinner. Conde Nast Traveler named this luxury hotel Best Hotel in South America in 2008. Calle Palacios 136, Plazoleta Nazarenas, Cusco, Peru, +51-84-60-4000
ELEVEN DEGREES NORTH OF THE EQUATOR, IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE, LIES A VERDANT OASIS. FULL OF WILDLIFE AND SURROUNDED BY THE CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE PACIFIC OCEAN, NICARAGUA IS TRANSFORMING ITSELF INTO A MAJOR DESTINATION FOR ECO-TOURISTS EVERYWHERE. WITH SOARING MOUNTAINS, ACTIVE VOLCANOES, LUSH RAINFORESTS AND QUITE THE SELECTION OF SOUTH AMERICAN ANIMAL SPECIES, NICARAGUA-WHICH, TRANSLATED, MEANS “SURROUNDED BY WATER”- IS PRACTICALLY HEAVEN-SENT IN THE EYES OF AN AVID NATURE LOVER.
With new plant species being discovered regularly, visitors have a chance to be a part of the action in this leafy paradise. The country is not for the weak of heart, however. Be ready to hike through forests, stand atop a volcano, and get a true Nicaraguan experience. Make time to stop at some of Nicaragua’s 78 national parks, including Los Guatuzos Wildlife Refuge, Mombacho Cloud Forest Reserve and Indio-Maiz Biological Reserve. Though the accommodations can get primitive in some cases, the adventure is well worth it. Staying in an ecolodge is a fantastic option, offering a submersion into nature and a memorable experience. And when you take a break from all the exploring, immerse yourself in Nicaragua’s plethora of cultural options. Take in unique performances at the Ruben Dario National Theater, the Victor Romeo Theater and the lusto Rufino Garay Theatre. Revel in pieces of Nicaragua’s history at the Cathedral of Leon, the Church of laleva and Parque Central in Granada. The landscape, outdoors adventures and cultural attractions, in conjunction with the serene views of the Pacific ocean, make Nicaragua a private, romantic-and definitely green-vacation. The destination is engaged in eco-tourism due to its wide range of animals and plants in a comparatively small area as well as its lack of development.
Lido Key’s mangrove tunnels haven’t always been the serene Sarasota icons they are today. In the 1940s they were nothing more than troughs dug out to attract pesky mosquitoes and keep them away from local residents. But the ditches weren’t quite doing their job, so the County decided to take the plot of South Lido Park in a different direction. Workers made three of the larger trenches navigable, and what we have today is hardly reminiscent of the tunnels’ early roots. “What’s really cool is you don’t have to travel far to visit a world-class kayak and canoe route. It’s right in the shadow of downtown,” says George Tatge, manager of beaches and natural areas for Sarasota County Parks and Recreation. The tunnels buzz with biodiversity, Tatgeex plains, in large part because of close proximity to the Gulf, which lends a high salinity to the water. Sponges, shellfish and crustaceans make a home among the clear, shallow paths. It’s also a great locale for bird watching-wading birds rest on exposed mangrove bases just a few feet away from passing paddlers. In Florida’s warmest months, the tunnels are a cool retreat-the shaded trails are generally 10 to 15 degrees cooler than their sunny surroundings, and a Gulf breeze is often in no short supply.
All that’s left of the tunnels’ early days are several large mounds of dirt-the fill from those original ditches. But the County is on that, too. It has already applied for a $1.2 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that it hopes to use to remove the old mounds, along with the non-native plants perched on top. It should all lead to further biodiversity and growth of the majestic tunnels that lie in the shadow of our city.