Posts Tagged ‘adventure travel’

6 Things: Our National Parks

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

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, including our new America’s National Parks tour, a journey through 5 breathtaking National Parks in one phenomenal vacation.

What’s your favorite National Park? Please share.

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute work with the local animal populations.

Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute work with the local animal populations.

Between bats, birds, and coral reefs, the folks studying biodiversity at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama stay pretty busy. In fact, if you’re a college student, your chance to help them out with their research (and get college credit for it) comes in the summer of 2011. Here’s a few more things to know about our friends at STRI.

1) They’re using using radio telemetry  to track the routes and interactions of animals around – and across – the Panama Canal. They’ve also discovered that sloths aren’t as lazy as we thought. Click to read more from Smithsonian Magazine.

2) They’ve set up an underwater reef webcam at the Galeta Marine Laboratory in Panama. Click to check out the action.

3) They study bats, lots of bats – in fact, there are 74 species of bats living on Panama’s Barro Colorado Island, not far from STRI. Thanks to the Smithsonian Channel, you can meet the Smithsonian scientists who study them.

4) STRI  has a great interactive web site for kids, where they can learn (in English and Spanish) all about sharks.

There’s plenty more where that came from. Click here for STRI’s main page, here for more information on our college summer program, Exploring Panama: Biodiversity in the Tropics, and here for all of our travel opportunities in Panama

Where would you like to go next summer? Please share.

Volcanoes of the Pacific Northwest

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

 

File:MSH82 st helens plume from harrys ridge 05-19-82.jpg

Mount St. Helens on May 19, 1982. Photo: US Geological Survey.

Located only 50 miles from Portland, Oregon, Washington State’s Mount St. Helens is seared into our memories for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980. The eruption took life, property, and the summit of Mount St. Helens, which is now topped by a large crater. While Mount St. Helens is the nation’s most active volcano, the Pacific Northwest actually has a long history of volcanic activity, centered on the Cascades mountain range.

At Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument, visitors can explore the Lava River Cave, a lava tube formed after a volcanic eruption when surface lava cooled and hot lava continued to flow beneath. The underground channel where this lava flowed now forms a long cave. Crater Lake, also in Oregon, the deepest lake in the United States, was also formed by volcanic activity.

Of course, there’s more to the Pacific Northwest than volcanoes. Join us next September for our Pacific Northwest Hiking experience to learn about all of the state’s stunning natural wonders and biodiversity, as well as the delicious food and wine of Oregon and Washington.

Where’s your favorite place to go hiking? Please share.

Did you know? The Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program tracks volcanic activity worldwide, and you can click here  for more on Mount St. Helens.

Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Exploring Tracy Arm by Zodiac. Photo: Michael S. Nolan, Lindblad Expeditions

Tracy Arm in Southeast Alaska is a 22-mile-long fjord with waterfalls cascading from its high, glacially-carved walls. Black bears feed along the shoreline and mountain goats scale the steep granite cliffs. Twin glaciers are located at the end of the fjordSawyer and South Sawyer—and sculpted icebergs are commonplace sights. The fjord was named after Civil War General Benjamin Franklin Tracy, who served as a Union brigadier general for the 109th New York Infantry Regiment. It was designated as a wilderness area in 1980 by the U.S. Congress.

Want to see more? Join us May 22 – 29, 2011 for our Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness Cruise.

Have you been to Alaska? How was it? Please share.

Treasures of Peru

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
A Peruvian woman weaving, Photo by Carmen-Julia Arze

A Peruvian woman weaving, Photo by Carmen-Julia Arze

If there were only five things we would do in Peru, here’s what we’d suggest:

  1. Hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Yes, there are easier ways to get to the sacred city in the Andes mountains, but it is a completely different experience when you have put the sweat equity into the journey and are witnessing a quiet sunrise over the ancient ruins.
  2. We all want to go shopping, but going shopping with a local on a Sunday at the Pisac Market in Cusco provides a cultural experience you won’t find anywhere else. You’ll learn which traditional and authentic art pieces are worth buying, and how to make a really great deal – in Quechua.
  3. Experience the Cajamarca Carnival held every February where events include the decoration of cars, the public mocking of public figures, and dance, music, and lots of food. Also keep in mind that to really attend the Cajamarca Carnival, you will likely be soaked with water by the time you leave.
  4. To be in South America, and not find yourself in a rich rainforest is simply a shame. Try a rafting trip and a hiking excursion where you’ll witness amazing wildlife you won’t see anywhere else.
  5. Eat at least one meal with a Peruvian family. You may be trying new foods (such as Roasted Cuy – also known as guinea pig- a delicacy in Peru), but you’ll also make new friends in the process.

To experience all that Peru has to offer, join us on one of our many tours to explore Peru.

What would you recommend a traveler do in Peru?