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12 Search Results for "rainforests"

  • Beautiful Xishuangbannan in Yu Beautiful Xishuangbannan in Yunan Province China.

    • From: x123456
    • Description:

      Xishuangbanna, an autonomous prefecture of the Dai ethnic group which covers an area of 20 thousand square kilometers borders on Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam, located in the south of Yunnan Province in the People's Republic of China. Its one of the well-known tourist cities in China where the Water-Sprinkling Festival is held each year in the middle of April, famous for natural landscapes of tropical rainforests and minority folk-customs. Many of tourists from around the world visit here every year, especially in the boom season of tourism. If you like, you can go visit Xishuangbannan anytime in a year, since the weather temperature there keeps averagely 16, and only 28 even when its very hot in summer. Its a sunshine place where it never snow.       

       

       

      Rubbers, tea leaves, sugarcane, spices, tropical fruits and some other special local products are all produced in Xishuangbanna, and also there are some developed scenic spots, such as Primeval Forest Park, Wild Elephant Valley, Botanical Garden, tropical rainforests and so on. It is one of the scenic areas and also an important tourist development zone with abundant tourism resources. As you enter Xishuangbannan, you will feel as if you are in a green world where primeval forests, rubber plantation gardens and orchards all come into your sight.  

       

      The Peacock Lake which is surrounded by lakes around it looks as clean as a mirror, covering an area of 18700 square meters. It was developed as a park in 1977 where there are pavilions, exotic flowers, peacocks,pythons, foxes, wild boars, moneys, thrush birds, and some other endangered animals. And there is a waterside pavilion in the middle of the clean rippled lake, on which Pattra leaves, coconut trees, areca-nut trees and oil palm trees are all reflected. What’s more, visitors are allowed to enjoy scenery by boat on the lake.                   

       

      The Wild Elephant Valley of Xishuangbannan is situated in a natural preservation area in the north of Jinghong where there is a vast tropical rainforest that makes it possible for tropical plants to grow and wild animals like Asia elephants to live. There are only 300 Asia elephants in total now. They often haunt as a group at rivers, dense forests, or near people’s residences to hunt for food and water, or to take a walk. On the other hand, a number of tourists from the world are attracted by the landscapes of the tropical rainforest and wild Asia elephants.

       

      http://www.chinaholidaycts.com/

          

       

    • Blog post
    • 1 year ago
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  • Camping in the Pacific Northwe Camping in the Pacific Northwest

    • From: CarmH
    • Description:

      5808_1217508559320_1277048851_30647092_7032606_n.jpgThe Pacific Norhtwest is RICH with just about any climate you can think of. We've got the ocean, we've got mountains, valleys and yes, even deserts.

      I live in Washington State. Our family loves to go camping. Tent camping. One thing that you can almost NEVER count on when you camp in Western Washington is the WEATHER. I'm not sure you've heard this before or not...but it's sorta damp here most of the time. People complain and joke that we don't "tan" in the summer, we "rust". Well...what those people fail to realize is that because of the weather here, which isn't as bad as most think it is, we're afforded rainforests and glorious mountain ranges that all seem to beckon us from hybernation each and every June.

      This weekend we're headed to a place near Mt. Rainier National Park - it's just a wonding road on the outskirts of the base of the mountain along a stream called Skate Creek. We're going with my Brother and his family. It's rustic. It's not something that we're used to. Sure, we've camped at places that don't have running water and toilets, per se. Those port-a-potty style thingymajiggers. They'll work when you really need to get down to the nitty gritty, but this will be my daughters' first time with no restroom facilities whatsoever. Yeah, it's gonna be an awesome weekend...I just know it. Oh - one little tidbit of info I left out. My mother is coming. She hasn't camped in probably 25 years. IT SHALL BE AWESOMENESS!!

      So here we are...the day we're going to leave. We've not "reserved" this place, because apparently it's one of those, "Just drive and then hang a right off the road and WHAMMO, you're there!" And I'm thinking that if my Brother goes there first to secure our site, how on GOD'S GREEN EARTH are we going to find him in this rather densely forested area?! He said, "Helium Balloons. And LOTS OF EM". Excellent. I'm sure nature will appreciate our festiveness/artificial GPS way of finding one another.

      I look forward to returning homw and logging into my account here at Budget Travel to give you an update on my latest adventure.

      HAPPY WEEKEND!

       

    • Blog post
    • 3 years ago
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  • Rainforests to Wetlands Rainforests to Wetlands

    • From: MFDonovan
    • Description:

      Its all here on the north oregon coast

    • 3 years ago
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  • big island in kona city big island in kona city

    • From: milletaylor
    • Description:

      st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";}

      Few days ago I went to kona in Hawaii. Actually I went to see the big island. Big island is a very beautiful place. My friend told me about kona that it is a beautiful place to see. I went there by car and reached there in few hours. After that I checked in to the hotel. I searched this hotel from the net by last minute hotels. I got this hotel and I reserved it. This hotel was beautifully decorated and a peaceful environment was all over there.

      Home to the world's tallest mountain and the world's most active volcano, Hawaii is an island of extremes and superlatives. Where else can you go skiing on a mountain top in the morning and snorkel in a tropical sea in the afternoon? The southernmost island in the Hawaiian archipelago, the Big Island is also the largest island in the chain—bigger than all of the other islands put together--and is the largest island in the United States. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the state's most popular attraction, which is pretty impressive considering just how many attractions Hawaii boasts. Whether you explore the desert-like Kona coast or the lush emerald rainforests of Hilo, the laid-back Upcountry around Waimea or the glitzy resorts of the Gold Coast, the Big Island's many facets offer something for everyone. Hawaii is also the heart of Hawaiian history and culture, the seat of power for Paiea Kamehameha (or Kamehameha the Great), the legendary Hawaiian king who united the islands under his rule. A land of coral and lava, of fire and snow, the Big Island is awesome in its rich natural beauty and offers a dazzling array of vacation options.

      You can do surfing here. Well trained experts are available for teaching you surfing. Life gaurds are also available here. Yoga classes are also available here. You can relax your self by yoga.

      After that I went back to hotel and next morning I came back to our home city. For lodging there are lots of options in kona. You can find cheap hotels as well as costly hotels. There are some hotels which are cheap. They offer lots of discount to the customers and provide world class services to the customers. Kona hotels are very luxurious and some are cheap. Cheap hotels provide very low rates to the customers. White sands village kona is one such hotel. Prices are very low here and lots of discount is offered here. So stay in cheap hotels and enjoy the holidays.

       

    • Blog post
    • 4 years ago
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  • Hanging Bridges Hanging Bridges

    • From: Edward Bell
    • Description:

      Costa Rica

      The hanging bridges in Monteverde were very interesting.  We hiked through the cloud forest before going zip lining.  It is currently dry season (January) and the sun was out in force which I think burnt off a lot of the mist and clouds that normaly would be here.  It was great none the less.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 5661
  • Puerto Rico Rainforest Puerto Rico Rainforest

    • From: laminarwind
    • Description:

      View of El Yunque rainforest near San Juan, Puerto Rico. Image taken from the location where the river with daily rainfall meets ocean.

    • 5 years ago
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  • Emerald Pool, Dominica Emerald Pool, Dominica

    • From: outatym
    • Description:

      A short walk into the Dominican Rainforest, this waterfall cascades into Emerald Pool, so named because it takes on the Emerald Green hue of the surrounding forest.

    • 5 years ago
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  • ALASKA WITHOUT A CRUISE SHIP ALASKA WITHOUT A CRUISE SHIP

    • From: bobcat812
    • Description:

      Bob and Cathy Smith

      Bob and Cathy at Tracy ArmYes, you read that correctly. It is possible to explore Alaska without a cruise ship! My wife Cathy and I retired on the same day in the spring of 2008 and several weeks later we headed for Alaska. A year prior we had begun researching every possible mode of transportation, including large and small cruise ships. We researched cruises first because it was the only mode of Alaska travel we had heard of. Cruise lines and travel agents do a great job of advertising all over the media. Most of our friends who had ever visited Alaska went via cruise ships and liked the experience.

      According to the latest (2006/2007) figures from the Alaska Visitor Statistics Program, 40% of Alaska travel is by air primarily on business, 54% of visitors who come for vacations and pleasure travel by cruise ship. 1% travel by ferry and 4% by highway. An interesting statistic is that of those travelling by ferry, 60% are repeat travelers whose first trip was by cruise ship. This last statistic is revealing. Hang on to it; you'll see why later.

      Cruise ships typically are like fancy hotels. They are a great experience as a treat, especially if the primary reason for your trip is to enjoy the ship. Our reason for going to Alaska was to experience the scenery, small towns, rainforests, Denali National Park and the abundant forms of wildlife. It seemed to us that the ship would detract from our freedom to explore rather than enhance it. Furthermore, we tend to avoid crowds of tourists and get as far away from them as we can. Maybe that's just us.

      We found that there are only three ways to explore the "Inside Passage" of Alaska. If you look on a map that is where you find the small towns of Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, Haines, Skagway and others. The only public highway in the Inside Passage is the Alaska Highway Ferry System. That whole section of the state consists of islands, so if you're going anywhere it is by water or by sea plane.

      We began to wonder about this ferry thing and so we looked it up on the internet by visiting the Alaska Marine Highway System website: www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/Ferry Columbia at Bellingham Terminal

      Much to our pleasant surprise, the ferry boats were not what we expected. Here in Ohio a ferry boat is a little, dumpy barge with cars on it. The Alaskan ferries are like small cruise ships with multiple decks and one or two lower decks for vehicles. The ferries travel the southeast Inside Passage and all over coastal Alaska. They have cabins for those who want them on overnight trips, beautiful observation lounges, good restaurant facilities, small gift shop, internet connections, lounges, spacious decks and naturalist programs. They do not have crystal chandeliers, gambling casinos, grand staircases, professional entertainers or five star cuisine. If you would put on a tux and bow tie, someone would rightfully throw you overboard. The cabins are small but clean and comfortable. Nobody is going to create a towel elephant and leave it on your bed with a couple gourmet chocolates. So if you have always fantasized about putting on a pair of expensive sunglasses and pretending to be a celebrity gracefully floating down the grand staircase on Love Boat, the ferry is not the place to do it.

      Cathy and I werTotem Bight Park near Ketchikane sold. We could travel Alaska on our own terms and schedule.  We would fly into Seattle and board the ferry at nearby Bellingham.  We decided to start the grueling, time consuming planning and booking process by calling the Alaska Marine Highway since it would be our first stop.  On an evening eight months beforehand, we called the toll free phone number. A very pleasant and helpful agent talked with us and told us that besides scheduling the ferry she could also book our entire trip!  After we picked ourselves up off the floor and inhaled smelling salts, we asked her how much the service would cost. "Oh, nothing," she said, "I am an employee of the state of Alaska.  That's what we do." Ninety minutes later our trip was planned.  Cathy and I looked at each other in utter amazement.  What we thought would take eight months took ninety minutes.  During that phone conversation, the agent asked us what towns and attractions we wanted to see and made very valuable suggestions.  Without her help we would have wasted time seeing things that are duplicates or missed attractions we didn't know about.  She asked us what kind of lodging we preferred and we told her bed and breakfasts.  She recommended how much time we should spend at each town in order to enjoy the toMt. McKinley (Denali)wn and its attractions.

      Our actual trip was even more fantastic than we had imagined.  We were on foot and public transportation were successful most of the time in avoiding the human floods of cruise ship tourists.  We spent time in the towns of Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Skagway, Fairbanks, Denali National Park and Anchorage. We were in Alaska 20 days.  When we visited Denali, we stayed at the Back Country Lodge, which is way back in the center of the park and away from the populated entrance. We saw wildlife all over Alaska including humpback whales, eagles, sea otters, harbor seals, black bears, grizzly bears, moose, caribou, foxes and wolves. We didn't see one of each; we saw hundreds.

      In the towns we would sometimes encounter people who were travelling by cruise ship and get into conversations with them.  We noticed that most of these conversations were amusingly similar and went something like this:

      THEY: "So what cruise ship are you on?"

      US: "We're not on a cruise ship." (At this point THEY appeared somewhat confused.)

      THEY: "Then how in heaven's name are you getting around?"Caribou in Denali National Park

      US: "By ferry."

      THEY: "Oh, then, you're DRIVING."

      US: "No, we're on foot."

      THEY: (silence...with the look a dog gives you when it's confused - cocking the head from one side to the other)

      Then, of course, we would relieve their confusion and discuss how we were travelling.  In every case, the people told us they were unaware anyone could travel Alaska like that and expressed the wish that they had known before booking a cruise.  I asked them why they felt that way and they said they would have preferred the freedom of choices and not feeling "herded" as they did on a cruise.

      Earlier I mentioned to hang on to the statistic that 60% of the independent travellers using Grizzly in Denali National Parkthe ferry system had previously taken a cruise.  My guess is that they came on the cruise and while in Alaska talked to someone like us and found that they could control their own vacation.  So they returned on their own to more fully experience Alaska to its fullest.  The cruise had given them a preview sampling taste of the gourmet experience that is Alaska. Our advice is to skip the sampling and go for the main course.

       

       

    • Blog post
    • 5 years ago
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  • We Went To Hawaii June 2nd-9t We Went To Hawaii June 2nd-9th

    • From: Tarina
    • Description:

      OUR ALL INCLUSIVE 8 DAY WAIKIKI VACATION.... WE HAD A BLAST!!!!!  ~So well planned and easy no weird catches~!

      Please if you are thinking about a Hawaii vacation do yourself a favor and visit Aloha Hawaiian Vacations  web site the experience was better then I could ever have imagined and affordable to us a couple with 7 children and average income. 

      Below is what I copied and pasted from their site that is the itinerary for the package we chose and our trip was perfect.

       

       

       

      Day 1
      ROUND-TRIP COACH FLIGHT TO HONOLULU ,7 NIGHTS WAIKIKI HOTEL - FLOWER LEI GREETING & AIRPORT ASSISTANCE - TRANSFER to your Hotel, - PRE-TIPPED PORTERAGE (2pcs, pp At Hotel). - (FREE Afternoon & Evening.) Maybe an evening walk along Waikiki Beach to begin your love affair with Hawaii.





      DAY 2 BUFFET BREAKFAST At The WATERFALL RESTAURANT.
      Morning: Escorted CATAMARAN SAIL -  A Refreshing One-hour Sail (Stunning Scenery and So much fun.... all you can drink for $5 per person)
      Afternoon: OPEN: For World's Most Popular Beach - Waikiki Beach, The pool, Shopping Or Whatever!
      Evening: Escorted HAWAIIAN LUAU - Polynesian Feast & Show Along The Beach - At A Private Cove.  (Next to a big lighthouse... great sunset to be seen.)


      DAY 3 FULL AMERICAN BREAKFAST
      Morning: Escorted Scenic ISLAND ADVENTURE SAFARI: - This Journey Features Secluded Beaches With Turquoise Water, Emerald Mountains, Lush Tropical Rainforests, An Extinct Volcano, Lovely Kahala With Homes Of Movie Stars, Vast Pineapple Fields, The Famous North Shore Surfing Beaches, The Stunning Tahiti-Like Northeastern Side Of Oahu, & Much More! (Waimea Valley & FallsMay Be Added To Safari As An Option - $39, (T$34, C$29). (See OAHU OPTION SHEET). A JEEP-or-CONVERTIBLE May Be Substituted For The Island Safari - To Explore On-Your-Own. [NO Charge For Substitutions]  We went for the car... it was a great day!  For $17.00 we got a map and GPS system and ended up driving around the whole island point to point.)
      Evening: BUFFET DINNER Alongside Waterfalls, Flowers & Tropical Greenery. (After Dinner- Visit The International Marketplace).


      DAY 4 BEACHFRONT BUFFET BREAKFAST At Waikiki's Most Famous Tropical Breakfast Restaurant
      Morning: Escorted Half-Day TOUR TO PEARL HARBOR. Visit Pearl Harbor Museum & Shops + Navy Boat Takes You To Board The Arizona Memorial.
      Afternoon: OPEN
      Evening: The SHERATON POLYNESIAN REVUE DINNER SHOW (Very Popular)-or- DON HO DINNER SHOW -or- GOURMET DINNER AT WAIKIKI'S "SKY-TOP" REVOLVING RESTAURANT With Spectacular Panoramas. (Choose One)


      DAY 5 FULL AMERICAN BREAKFAST
      Morning: Escorted HANAUMA BAY EXCURSION - This Tropical Paradise Setting Is Truly GOD's Handiwork At Its Best! Sightsee &/or Snorkel With Colorful Fish, Sun Bathe & Hike Along Seaside Trails. (Pre-Rent Snorkel Gear For Only $18). A SHOPPING EXCURSION To Hawaii's Largest SOUVENIR & CLOTHING OUTLET & Main JEWELRY OUTLET Is Offered As An Alternative For Hanauma Bay. (Hourly Departures & Returns For Both Shopping & Hanauma Bay).
      Afternoon: OPEN
      Evening: Sunset BEACHFRONT DINNER In The Exquisite SHERATON MOANA SURFRIDER HOTEL. Gourmet Dinner Along The Ocean An Elegant "Fairy-Tale Like" Setting. Later-Visit KINGS VILLAGE


      DAY 6
      OPEN DAY: See Our Optional NEIGHBOR-ISLAND ONE DAY ESCORTED EXCURSIONS (CLICK HERE) To Maui, Kauai -or- "The Big-Island" of Hawaii. You may also add an optional dinner at Waikiki's "Sky-Top" Revolving Restaurant for $48. Also consider our very popular "Ultimate Tropical Experience" option. (See OAHU OPTIONS SHEET (CLICK HERE) for other options).


      DAY 7 BUFFET BREAKFAST At The WATERFALL RESTAURANT
      Morning: The HONOLULU TROLLEY PASS - This "Favorite" Of All Our Clients Takes You To One Of The World's Largest Open Air Shopping Malls, Historical Sites, Famous Fishermans Wharf, Beautiful Gardens & MUCH MORE! CLICK HERE For A Complete List Of Trolley Destinations
      Afternoon: OPEN
      Evening: Escorted Romantic SUNSET DINNER CRUISE - Excellent Dinner, Entertainment And Spectacular Sunset Scenery. The Perfect Ending For A Perfect Week In Paradise. (Choose: From Our Regular Sunset Dinner Cruise #1 -Or- Our Laid-back "Cookout On-A-Boat" Type Cruise #2) Click For More Info.


      NATURE LOVERS May Substitute A Half Day Escorted Guided SCENIC HIKE (#1) To The Summit Of Diamond Head Crater, (Stunning 360 Degree Panoramas) For The Included Morning Activity Listed On Day 2,3, 4, 5 Or 7. + Also Substitute (For These) A Half-Day Escorted GuidedNATURE HIKE (#2) Into Oahu's Lush Mountain Rainforest To Visit A Cascading Waterfall Hidden In Peaceful Jungle Solitude.


      DAY 8
      BEACHFRONT BUFFET BREAKFAST -Or- BUFFET LUNCH. FREE DAY. Approx. Noon Check-Out. Hotel Will Store Your Luggage. PRE-TIPPED HOTEL PORTERAGE, EscortedTRANSFER TO AIRPORT + FLIGHTS HOME, Arriving Next Day. We Will Request A 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. Return Flight For You Unless You Request Otherwise. ALOHA.....

       

      www.aloha-hawaiian.com



       


       


    • Blog post
    • 6 years ago
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  • Island Hopping in Australia Island Hopping in Australia

    • From: Macinfla
    • Description:

       

      On a three week visit to Australia, we traveled 1,700 miles along the eastern coast from Sydney to Cairns. Two of our favorite stops on this trip were islands, each totally different from the other. Fraser Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a decidedly ecological flavor. Hamilton Island is heavily developed yet, in its own right, a beautiful place to behold.

       

      Fraser Island

      This is the world’s largest sand island, with no paved roads and only limited development. As we approached the island by ferry from the Fraser Island Beachport of Hervey Bay we saw a few boats anchored offshore, the boat dock, a small bait shack and a large 4WD bus waiting for its load of tourists.

       The Kingfisher Bay Resort is only a short bus ride away. Its exterior blends into the surrounding trees and its interior lobby is large, airy and open to the elements. Access to our room was along an open boardwalk, which made it seem like we were going to a treehouse. In the room, nature also seemed close at hand, with a wall of sliding doors leading to our balcony with a view of a small pond and a large window in the bathroom, looking out to a walled atrium.

      It was late in the day when we arrived, so we restricted our exploration to the hotel and then spent a little quiet time relaxing on our balcony. We watched ducks waddling along the pond’s banks and dragonflies darting here and there, before a heavy rain storm sent them all into cover. When the rain cleared, we spotted a Kingfisher bird perched in a small bush in between dives into the water in search of a good catch.

      After an expansive seafood buffet in the hotel, a naturalist gave us an overview of the types of wildlife that could be found on the island, including the country’s largest population of dingo dogs. These critters look like regular dogs, but they are wild and the resort goes to great lengths to caution the tourists against approaching the dogs. The resort is fenced and all gates have a caution sign to be dingo-safe.

      That night we chose to stay close to nature by opening the patio doors and sleeping with the air conditioner turned off. What a treat that was! The sounds that we heard seemed to be right out of a Tarzan movie. (If you want to hear the sounds, check out our "Sounds of the Night in Tropical Australia" video at the end of this journal.)

      In the morning, we boarded a jeep for a stop at Lake McKenzie for a swim and then a tour of the rainforest. The thought of swimming in the Lake McKenzie on Fraser Islandlake didn’t seem too appealing until we got our first glimpse of it. Lake Mackenzie is different in a number of ways. First, the lake is formed by the cone of an extinct volcano. There is no underground spring that feeds this large lake; it is filled solely by rainwater. The lake is very deep, but wherever you are in the lake the bottom is clearly visible. The entire lake is surrounded by absolutely white sand with the consistency of powdered sugar. We never saw a lake quite so inviting as this one, even our pictures don’t seem to do it justice. And, we’ve never swam in a volcano before, either. It was hard for the driver to convince us to leave this gorgeous spot for our trip into the forest.

      Satinay Tree on Fraser IslandWe’ve seen a few rainforests and they are always fascinating, but the thing that is unbelievable about this one is that it all grows in sand. At one time there was a large lumbering operation on the island, where the huge satinay trees were cut down for use as utility poles. The satinays grow to well over 200 feet and some are more than a thousand years old. A hike through the forest followed a small stream with water so clear that you had to look closely to see it.

      Rainforest walk on Fraser IslandUnfortunately, our visit to Fraser Island is too short and doesn’t allow us time to visit the huge sand cliffs and dunes that are on the far side of the island. Oh well, that’s a good excuse to come back another time!

       

       

       

      Hamilton Island

      Two days later, we boarded a large high-speed catamaran for a cruise to Hamilton Island, one of the 70+ Whitsunday Islands. This group of islands, formed by a submerged mountain range, is located in the lower portion of the Great Barrier Reef.

      Marina on Hamilton IslandArriving at the island was a startling contrast to the arrival at Fraser Island. There is a huge marina, surrounded by many shops and restaurants and in the background is a sprawl of high-rise hotels and condominiums. The island is highly populated by both tourists and residents, with golf carts used as the main mode of transportation along with several free shuttle buses.

      Our room was on the 14th floor of the Reef View, one of many high-rise towers on the island. The room itself was huge, with one full wall of glass looking out at the beach and beautiful blue water. No dingo dogs on this island, but we were warned that the cockatoos would come right into the room looking for food if we left the balcony doors open!

      This was another late afternoon arrival, so our exploration didn’t begin until the next morning. We began with breakfast at an outdoor buffet Koalathat was surrounded by eucalyptus trees full of koalas. This was our first opportunity to see the most well-known animal of Australia. Other than a few stretches, they spent their time sleeping, as we tourists took pictures.

       

      After breakfast, the day quickly began to reach tropical temperatures. We walked over to the beach and learned that our hotel Sailing on Hamilton Islandincluded free use of all non-motorized water activities on the island. With that we hopped aboard a small two-person catamaran for a morning of sailing! It was the perfect way to cool off.

      After sailing, we spent some time exploring the shops and enjoyed lunch at a pub overlooking the marina. Then we headed back to the beach where we waited for the tide to go out and snorkeling to begin. As the ocean Low Tide on Hamilton Islandreceded, we watched the entire area where we had earlier sailed become shallow and sandy. Bob collected his snorkel gear and his underwater camera and headed out. It’s a good thing that we had another day of underwater exploration scheduled later in the trip, because he needed this practice session. He saw lots of fish, including a stingray, but all attempts at photographing them failed.  

      Our day of fun in the tropical sun was exhausting, so we headed back to our balcony to admire the view until darkness came. With all of the many restaurant choices here, we elected to enjoy the luxuries of our posh room by having a pizza delivered!

      The next morning we reluctantly left Hamilton Island behind to continue our tour northward. There were many highlights to our Australian travels, but these two islands would absolutely be on our itinerary if we ever get back to this great country.

       

      (Below is the video of night sounds in tropical Australia)

         

    • Blog post
    • 6 years ago
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  • Costa Rica 4: Scream of a Baby Costa Rica 4: Scream of a Baby Tarantula

    • From: TimothyState
    • Description:

       

      Scream of a Baby Tarantula

      The top of the volcano exploded like a firecracker. Even from our distance of a couple kilometers, we could hear the lava popping out of Volcano Arenal as it belched glowing flows of lava, which cascade down the mountain like sparks showering over a crowd on the fourth of July. What appears to be small sparks are easily large, molten boulders. The sun set quickly behind Volcano Arenal and the afternoon’s rain clouds built to release a torrent of rain we’ve never seen before. For hours, water came out of the sky. Three inches of rain easily came down in the first hour, if the water level in the pool was any indication. The pace did not let up through dinner, nor did it long after we feel asleep in our room at Volcano Lodge outside the village of La For Tuna .

      “Isn’t this sort of staying to close to the volcano?” Sean mused over dinner. “If it explodes we’re dead.”

      “It’s been exploding in the same manner since 1968,” Dan said.

      “It’s not like Mt. St. Helens,” said Tony, “where pressure builds for years and then it explodes all at once.”

      “I’d be more concerned about the volcano that’s not exploding daily,” I added.

      After dinner, we retired to the porch outside our room. For an hour we watched rivers of lava, and Sean finally regressed, “Okay, this volcano stuff is pretty cool.”

      While the rainstorm put a damper on our up-close and personal evening tour with Volcano Arenal, we saw plenty from our rooms, making for an explosive close to the day. We had arrived at the point of our tour: to take Tony, for his birthday, on a tour of the rainforests and all its side attractions.

      The day started early with a traditional Tico breakfast of rice, beans, and eggs as we sat watching the sun rise on the canyon at Canyon House . While eating, Alexander, our guide for the next three days, showed up and introduced himself. Shorter than any of us, he’s got dark, long wavy hair, and confesses he’s bad with names. After a day, he called me, “Hey photographer.”

      We left San Jose in a mini bus reserved for us, and headed north from the city on Highway 1, the Pan-American Highway, into the foothills surrounding the central valley. We passed through Alajuela , where old colonial buildings ring a beautiful central park serving as a town square that people relax in throughout the day. Just beyond Alajuela, we made a first stop at a coffee plantation.

      “See, in Costa Rica, we gave all the money from the military to the teachers and the schools,” Alexander explained. “We have no military, so we have ninety-five percent literacy. So nobody wants to pick the coffee beans. So Nicaraguans can come for three months at a time and pick the coffee beans, and then they go back.”

      With Nicaraguans picking coffee beans around us, he showed us the plant.

      “The coffee bean cherry is ready to pick when it is bright, bright red,” Alexander explained. “They don’t all turn red at the same time, so they have to be picked individually.”

      Alexander broke open a coffee cherry.

      “See, there are two beans for every cherry.” He offered me a bean. “Take the bean and suck on it. Don’t eat it or bite it. Just suck on it.”

      We each put a coffee bean in our mouth, tasting its sweet honey-like nectar.

      “My father has an organic coffee plantation,” Alexander explained, “and growing up, I used to go in the field and just suck the juice of the coffee bean.”

      We continued north through the villages of Poasito and Vera Blanca . Someone in the van passed the gas of a hundred dead horses, the aftereffects of rice and beans at breakfast producing silent giggles from the peanut gallery in the back of the bus.

      “That smell you smell is sulfur,” Alexander said. “We’re passing right now through two volcanoes.” The silent giggles grew louder. He pointed to the left, “Right there in that cloud is Volcano Poas, and to the right in that cloud is Volcano Barva. Depending on the weather and what way the wind blows, it can be really stinky.”

      Passing over the continental divide, entire slopes were covered in what looked like black tarp.

      “What are those hills covered with?” Tony asked.

      “That is the marijuana,” Alexander said. “We cover it so no one knows it’s marijuana.”

      “Oh?” I say. His sense of humor playing into my American stereotypes.

      He laughs.

      “Those are covers to keep the clouds off the plants. We are in the cloud forest, so there is dense fog most of the time. Without them, how do you say it? Moss? Moss grows and kills the plants.”

      Shortly after crossing the continental divide, we arrived at La Paz Waterfall Gardens , high in the cloud forest of Costa Rica. Alexander explained to us as we hiked deep into the forest the differences between a cloud forest and a rain forest, and how the rainforest is dependant on the cloud forest to keep everything moist. The tree cover was dense, and with a dense fog, it was dark in the forest. We hiked up and down cliffs, at points, the trail navigable only by the stairs that have been suspended from the side of a rock cliff. At the end of the trail is the magnificent La Paz Waterfall, cascading down forty meters.


      “Does anybody have a barrel?” Sean asked.

      “A barrel?” Alexander stops in the trail and turns around, a look of confusion.

      “Yeah. Haven’t you heard of Niagara Falls?”

      “Niagara Falls, yes. What do you use a barrel for?”

      “To go over the waterfall in.”

      “People ride in barrels over waterfalls?”

      “Yeah. They used to do it all the time at Niagara Falls.”

      “That is crazy. If you have a barrel, you can ride over the waterfall, but I don’t come get you. Whatever you say. You are my boss.”

      We had lunch in the cloud forest, where a lodge had been built. The lodge was open air without walls and the canopy of the cloud forest was just a few meters away, providing the illusion we were lunching in the treetops.

      We made our way out of the mountains following lunch, descending very quickly on a curvy road from nearly 5,000 meters to just 200 meters above sea level. Turning a corner, Alexander slammed on the breaks and we lurched forward as he quickly came to a stop.

      “Flat tire! Who helps?” He said. “I kidding. Tarantula in middle of the road. But just a baby tarantula.”

      We jumped out of the car and walked back to a tarantula slowly making its way across the road, one furry leg at a time. Tony and Sean went wild snapping photos of a tarantula on pavement.

      “You got macro? Use your macro, you get good picture.” Alexander said. “Real close-up.”

      Shortly another bus marked by a yellow sign and the word “Turismo” stopped. Tourist buses are marked with this sign, giving us away long before anyone could spot the camera or the excessive jungle wear. A blonde German woman rolled down the window on the van.

      “Tarantula.” Alexander pointed to the giant spider crawling along the path.

      She looked down and started screaming the scream of a hundred schoolgirls. Other buses of tourists and a truck rolled up, all coming to a stop while the woman continued to scream as if the tarantula were about to charge her car. Alexander jumped down on his hands and knees and began to blow at the tarantula, encouraging him to cross the road a little faster. A tarantula crossing the road in the cloud forest had created complete gridlock, grinding commerce and transportation to a halt.

      Tarantula safely across the road, we got back in the bus and started under way again, clearing the traffic jam.

      “That lady make a lot a noise for just a baby tarantula,” said Alexander. “Tarantula no dangerous unless they think you try to be mean. Then they squirt out a poison like they poopied it out, and if it gets you, how do you say it? You get really big.”

      “You swell up,” I said.

      “Yeah. You swell up. I hate to hear the noise of that woman she make when a big tarantula come."

       

       

    • Blog post
    • 6 years ago
    • Views: 4490
  • Backpacking in Olympic Nationa Backpacking in Olympic National Park, Washington State

    • From: chadallen77
    • Description:

      Campsite ona gravel bar in the Hoh River In the Beginning, We Were Ambitious

      I’d had the idea in the back of my head for a couple of years: climb Mt. Ranier in Washington State. I do a lot of hiking, including winter hiking, and Rainier is the destination of choice if you want to step things up a notch and get a taste of real mountaineering. It’s a difficult climb and it's modestly technical—there are glacial traverses, the weather can be extreme, and at 14,411 feet the summit push can induce altitude sickness. About 10,000 climbers attempt the summit each year, the vast majority of them as part of guided trips. Roughly half of these reach the summit. Alas, I would not belong to either of these groups.

      After roping my dad into the mission—he’s an avid mountain biker and I learned to love backcountry hiking from him—I started training. Running, cycling, hiking in upstate New York with a heavy backpack on the weekends. We booked the trip in March, and by the time September rolled around I was feeling confident I could make it to the top on our scheduled ascent the last weekend of that month. My dad was feeling pretty confident too: he’d been mountain biking on a regular basis and was working out in the gym. He’d pulled a calf muscle earlier in the summer at the company softball game, but assured me that it was “95% healed” by mid-August. Later that month, he was on his annual mountain biking trip in Moab, Utah, his final training push. I called my mom while he was there to get the real scoop on his physical condition. She confided that earlier in the week he had called from Moab to say that his calf was bothering him and that he had to “ride like a girl” (that’s my dad for you). This seemed inauspicious, to say the least. When dad got back from Utah I called and grilled him on the details of his physical fitness. He assured me that everything was good to go. It seemed plausible. Kind of. And then I met him at the airport in Seattle...

      He arrived a few hours before me (he lives in Michigan, I was coming in from New York), and was waiting in baggage claim when I arrived. He ambled over to greet me with what was not the minor, barely-visible limp of an old injury, but a shambling gait that clearly favored his left leg and made it look like he’d just been hit in the knee with a hockey stick.

      Mission Aborted

      The final summit push on Rainier is a 4000 foot vertical gain in a single morning, followed by a 16 mile descent the same day. Even at 95% fitness it would be a stretch, and this seemed more like 30% to me. I think the first thing I said was, “Are you kidding me?” My dad has an abiding belief in his ability to pull off anything through sheer force of will—and if willpower isn’t enough, he’ll usually try to make up the gap with duct tape and hanger wire. In this instance he had built a custom leg brace (he’s a Physical Therapist) out of plastic and machined aluminum. I was going to be climbing the most challenging mountain in the lower-48 with a do-it-yourself cyborg.


      We had a heart-to-heart on the spot, and I told him that it wasn’t really about climbing the mountain—in the end I just wanted us to share an adventure. When my brother and I were kids my dad had taken us backpacking in Washington’s Olympic Mountain range four or five summers in a row. Those trips are some of the best memories of my life, and so I suggested we bail on Rainier and do something more low key instead. I was 100% certain that we wouldn’t make the summit at that point. I think Dad was relieved—he knew I wanted to summit Rainier and that we would lose our non-refundable guide fee (next time, buy trip insurance!). But I think he also knew that summiting was out of the question for him.

      So we headed to the REI flagship store in Seattle. If you’re ever in town, be sure to check it out. Even if you’re not an outdoor junkie, it’s worth popping in to see the 65’ glass-enclosed indoor climbing wall, manmade waterfall, and mountain bike test-trails. You can also grab a decent cup of joe at the outdoor coffee shop. There’s plenty of stuff to buy for the non-enthusiast as well. If you need a new daypack and want to have a look at 200 different models, or if you’ve been dying to get your hands on a day-glow purple Nalgene bottle for your desk at work, this is your spot.

      We headed over to the U.S. Forest Ranger desk on the second floor, and browsed through the topo maps. We’d been to a lot of the prime destinations in the park on earlier trips, but with the help of the on-site Ranger we settled on a five-day, four-night backpacking trip up the Hoh River Valley to the glacier on Mount Olympus (no Greek deities guaranteed, though). We had planned to rent some of the extreme weather gear for the climb from our outfitter, so we didn’t have sleeping bags or a tent with us. Luckily, the REI store also has an extensive rental shop, so we grabbed some top-notch gear and hit the road.

      On The Trail

       

      Moss-covered payphoneAt the Hoh River trailhead we phoned home to mom with our itinerary (from a moss-covered payphone booth—no cell phone reception up here), did one last gear check, and set off down the trail. Our destination for the first day was a five mile hike up the trail, the aptly-named Five Mile Island.

      My dad with giant Cedar trees.As soon as we set off down the trail, I was struck anew by the scale of the Olympic forests. It’s one of the only temperate rainforests in the world, receiving an average of 150 inches of rainfall a year. I can best describe it as Jurassic—the Cedar trees dwarf anything you see on the east coast, moss covers everything, and giant ferns tower above your head.

      We’d heard that elk sightings had been frequent lately, and that large herds had been spotted along the trail. Not more than a mile in, on a section of the trail often used by day-hikers, we stumbled into the middle of a herd of 40 or more elk. I’d never seen elk that close; they're simply massive, and the bulls make a “bugle” call that sounds, well, like a bugle. They seemed aware of, but not frightened by, our presence-- and the herd gradually made its way across the trail about 10 yards in front of us. It was such a hypnotic procession that I completely forgot to reach for the camera. I swear it!

      The Hoh RiverAt Five Mile Island we set up camp on a gravel bar in the middle of the Hoh River, fired up the lightweight camp-stove and boiled some water for our freeze-dried dinner. Turkey Chili with Apple Cobbler for desert. I’ve never eaten freeze-dried food except after a long day of hiking with a heavy pack. It tastes pretty good at that point, but I have a feeling it’s only edible if your body is begging for calories. We got a chance to try out the new UV water filter I picked up at REI. Instead of treating water with iodine tablets (which take twenty minutes per liter, and leave an unpleasant aftertaste), or pumping it through a carbon filter (which are bulky and awkward), these compact, pen-shaped devices sport a small UV lamp that uses the same technology employed to sterilize surgical equipment. Using the UV lamp to purify drinking waterYou just swirl the lamp in a one-liter bottle of water for ninety-seconds and, presto—Giardia and all kinds of other micro- and macro-scopic critters that can ruin your trip are out of commission.

      The next day we hiked to Lewis Meadows, another five miles up the trail. We camped in a grassy meadow by the side of the river, and talked to some fellow hikers who had been up to Hoh Lake the day before. They claimed to have seen a dozen black bears grazing on the blueberry meadows on the slopes around the alpine lake. I’ve seen black bears in the wild before and they're amazing—but the report of seeing so many at once seemed unlikely. Nonetheless, we departed from our original plan of hiking up the valley and back to make a one-day side trip up to the lake on the following day.

      Bears, Bears, and More Bears.

      Filling water bottles at Hoh Lake.We weren’t disappointed. It was a grueling, 6-mile climb, with almost 1000-feet of elevation gain per mile. We arrived at the lake in the early afternoon, and it was everything you could ask from an alpine lake. Crystal clear, sitting in a bowl formed by the surrounding alpine meadows that led up to the four summits around the lake, and with views of the glaciers on Mount Olympus. And yes, there were bears. Elk at Hoh LakeMaybe not a dozen, but we counted at least eight. I’ve never understood how such massive animals can get by on a diet consisting mostly of berries and other flora, but this was definitely black bear heaven—there must have been fifty acres of alpine meadows absolutely covered in blueberry bushes. There were more elk to boot. It was a hard place to leave, but as the afternoon crept on we knew we had to start back down, reaching camp just before dusk.

      The next morning, Dad’s calf was feeling the strain of the previous day’s haul, so we decided to lay low and explore the area around Lewis Meadow. In sum: more elk, a lazy afternoon nap by the river, a quick dunk in the icy water, and yet another freeze-dried delicacy.

      On the penultimate day, we backtracked down to Five Mile Island. It was raining, so rather than set up camp on the exposed gravel bar, we chose a nice, dry spot under a large spruce to set up the tent. We cooked under the vestibule of the tent’s rain fly, and settled into our toasty sleeping bags. I fell asleep to the pitter-patter of rain on the tent roof, and fell asleep to the sort of pleasant, contradictory thoughts one has after four days on the trail: Why would anyone want to return to civilization? And: I can’t wait to have a cheeseburger.

      If it Rains 150 Inches a Year, Chances are You’ll See Some Rain


      Fog rolls into Hoh River Valley.About two hours later I woke up—the rain had increased in intensity and my feet were wet. In fact, the entire floor of the tent was soaked through and my thermarest was the only thing between me and the large pool of water forming inside the tent. I poked Dad until he stopped snoring and came-to: his feet were in even worse shape than mine. Tent floors are almost waterproof, but absent a groundcover sheet (and we were absent one), they’ll eventually soak through. I struggled into my rain gear, put on my headlamp, and went out into the downpour to assess the situation. The cozy spot we’d chosen under the spruce tree had two major flaws: (1) It was in the middle of a gentle downhill slope; (2) There was an inch of pine needles on the forest floor. This second flaw had originally seemed like a virtue: pine needles make a nice soft bed, and work to relieve the unforgiving cushion of the thermarest.

      Now, however, the needles were acting like a giant sponge. The water rolling downhill was being soaked up by the pine needles underneath our tent, which was in turn sucking the water out of the pine needles and into our sleeping bags. I frantically begin lifting the tent edges and scooping out pounds of sopping wet pine needles with my arms. I managed to clear things out pretty well, but now the tent floor was soaked and no longer waterproof, so the water rolling downhill and passing under the tent floor was still making things wet on the inside. I was cold, wet and tired, and none of these conditions seemed likely to improve without drastic measures. By drastic measures I mean: water diversion ditches. These are strictly prohibited within the park, because they disturb the natural soil structure and contribute to erosion. But my project was relatively small, and I was, as I said, cold, wet and tired. I found a couple of sticks that vaguely resembled shovels (in the way that sticks resemble shovels only when you’re in such a situation), and begin digging furiously. Within fifteen minutes I had constructed an elaborate network of ditches, canals and drainage pools that the Romans would have been jealous of. I crawled back into the tent, we dried out the floor with our pack towels, and I took a few minutes to watch my waterworks in action. Then I was out like a light, and didn’t wake up until the clouds broke and the morning sun started to heat up the inside of the tent.

      Walking down from Hoh LakeWe broke camp for the last time, ate some hot oatmeal, and headed back to the trailhead. Along the way we passed a couple of groups heading up the valley. We told them about the herds of elk and the swarms of bears, but they clearly thought were just spinning a yarn. I hope they were proven wrong. Back at the trailhead we packed up our gear, changed into clean clothes and headed to the closest town we could find with a burger joint.

    • Blog post
    • 6 years ago
    • Views: 9418
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