Archive for the ‘Travel Hit Lists’ Category

Exploring Patagonia – Five Things

Thursday, April 28th, 2011
The Perito Moreno Glacier. Photo: Allison Dale

The Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia. Photo: Allison Dale

Ever wonder how it is on the other side of the Equator? It might be hot in the Southern Hemisphere, but there’s snow, ice, and glaciers too in Patagonia, where during a heat wave, temperatures  might reach all of 78 degrees Fahrenheit.

1) The explorer Magellan named the region, which includes the southernmost portions of Chile and Argentina, after the native people there. He used the word Patagón, or giant, to describe the group, who were an average height of about 6 feet tall, much taller than the Europeans of the time.

2) Rawson, the capital of the Chubut region of Patagonia, was settled by Welsh immigrants in 1865, as part of an effort by the Argentinian government to attract settlers to areas outside of Buenos Aires. The going was even tougher than they anticipated; the settlers had been told the arid plateau of Chubut was much like lush, green lowland Wales.

3) Humans have inhabited Patagonia since 10,000 BCE, if not longer, and traces of past settlements can be found across the region. One of the best known is the Cueva de las Manos (cave of hands), located in Santa Cruz, Argentina. The cave painters used ink made from hematite, and some archaeologists speculate that the young men stenciled their hands on the cave as part of a tribal rite-of-passage ritual. The cave was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

4) The Patagonian region of Santa Cruz, in Argentina, is home to a 52-square mile petrified forest. The forest grew 150 million years ago, during the Jurasssic period, and was later buried under volcanic eruptions at the beginning of the Cretaceous Period, when the Andes began formation.

Cave Paintings at the Cueva de las Manos in Santa Cruz, Argentina. Photo: Mariano Cecowski.

Cave Paintings at the Cueva de las Manos in Santa Cruz, Argentina. Photo: Mariano Cecowski.

5) Some of the most famous residents of Patagonia include the Magellanic penguins of Magdalena Island. Situated in the center of the Strait of Magellan, Magdelena Island hosts 60,000 breeding pairs of penguins. Penguins mate for life, going back to the same nest to meet and breed each year.

Need more reasons to travel to Patagonia? Check out Smithsonian’s  Patagonian Explorer tour, where you’ll explore the glaciers, islands, and windswept landscapes of Tierra del Fuego, the Beagle Channel, and more.

Ushuaia, Argentina, the world’s southernmost urban center, is 6,500 miles away from Washington, DC. What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home? Please share.

Travel Hit List: Central America

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

As the cold weather sets in, we’re dreaming of warmer places. Join us for a quick journey to the sunny skies and balmy seas of Central America.

Morpho butterflies make their homes in Central America, where they feed on fermenting fruit.

Read: our account of coral spawning at a reef  off the coast of Panama, and why this is critically important to undersea ecology from Smithsonian Magazine.

Hear: how people from Central America once entertained each other with homegrown lyrics on Calypsos of Costa Rica from Smithsonian Folkways.

Watch: How scientists have been studying biodiversity at Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal since 1923 from Smithsonian Channel.

Chew: your gum with your mouth closed, while you learn about the origins of chicle in southern Mexico and Central America from our Food and Think blog.

Check out: What’s new at the Smithsonian Latino Center, including the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum in Second Life.

Go: Now is a great time to book your travel to Costa Rica, Panama, or Guatemala with Smithsonian Journeys.

Travel Hit List: Our National Parks

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

There’s hardly an American tradition more venerable than a long, hot road trip to one of our national parks. Families have been experiencing the wonders of the natural world this way since Yosemite was designated as the world’s first national park in 1906. Since the weather’s getting a bit cool for hiking in the mountains, today we’ll take an armchair tour of our nation’s natural treasures.

Yosemite Falls over Merced River. Photo: Anton Foltin

Yosemite Falls over Merced River. Photo: Anton Foltin

Read: How people are working to preserve the natural soundscapes in our national parks from Smithsonian Magazine.

Hear: American Favorite Ballads, including Shenandoah, Home on the Range, and This Land is Your Land, performed by Pete Seeger from Smithsonian Folkways.

Watch: Excerpts from the new Ken Burns documentary – The National Parks: America’s Best Idea from PBS.

Eat and Drink: Did you know that you can bring your own picnic to the National Zoological Park? BTW, no feeding the animals!

Check out: Excavations by geologists in our national parks (and elsewhere) have unearthed much about prehistoric climate change. Our interactive online program teaches you how to use 55 million-year-old leaves to gauge temperature change, from Smithsonian Education.

Go: Now is a great time to book a journey to our National Parks.

What’s your favorite childhood memory in a National Park or other protected area? Share below.

Travel Hit List: Japan

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Taizoin Temple Tea Garden, Kyoto. Photo: Daniel Hagerman

Forget the cold, rainy weather, your overstuffed inbox, and that growing pile of voicemails. Take a minute to go on a virtual trip to Japan, where they revere the old, but embrace the new.

Read: Serene temples, beautiful gardens, and a reverence for ancient traditions can be found on Japan’s less-traveled San-in Coast. From Smithsonian Magazine.

Hear: Sakura: A Musical Celebration of the Cherry Blossoms. From Smithsonian Folkways.

Watch: A video of modern Japanese artisans faithfully recreating the painstaking processes of Edo period printmaker Katsushika Hokusai. From the Smithsonian Channel.

Eat and Drink: Become a student of tea and discover the intriguing beauty that is the Japanese Tea Ceremony. From the Smithsonian Journeys Blog.

Check out: Masterful Illusions, an online exhibition of Japanese Prints. From Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries.

Go: Now is a great time to book a journey to Japan.

Join: Smithsonian Journeys is on Facebook. Become a fan today.

Travel Hit List: Spain

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
Jeff Koons' "Tulips" outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. Photo: Jessica Engler

Jeff Koons’ “Tulips” outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. Photo: Jessica Engler

We love traveling to Spain, any chance we get. Not only do we get the opportunity to brush up on our rusty high-school Spanish, we take in the paella, the architecture, the modern art, and the cool cafe culture. Get your virtual Spanish fix with today’s travel hit list.

Read: A brief history of Spanish coins, courtesy of the folks at the Smithsonian National Numismatic Collection.

Hear: The Flamenco music of Andalusia, thanks to Smithsonian Folkways.

Watch: Smithsonian Magazine’s video on the history of chocolate, which made its way to Europe after the Spanish conquest of the Americas.

Eat and Drink: Art makes its way to the table courtesy of Spanish chef and innovator Ferrán Adriá and his fellow artists.

Check out: how historian Dana Bleichmar is changing assumptions about the Spanish conquest of the Americas, based on the drawings that naturalists and artists working for the Spanish crown made of the things they found in the new world.

Go: Now is a great time to book a journey to Spain, including our new Study Abroad programs for High School Students.

Join: Smithsonian Journeys is on Facebook. Become a fan today.