ALL POSTS IN [Outdoors and Adventure]

Saturday marks Alaska Day, commemorating the transfer of the territory of Alaska from Russia to the United States in 1867. While most of us won’t be on hand in the beautiful, seaside town of Sitka to celebrate, we thought we’d take the opportunity to marvel at Alaska’s glaciers, fjords and otherworldly scenery, as shared with us by Travel Channel fans on Instagram during the ideal summer season. The vast and largely untouched state beckons with lush landscapes, natural wonders and amazing wildlife, waiting to be explored by air, by land or, as the trend goes, by sea on an Alaskan cruise. These photos may be just the inspiration you need to plan your journey to “the Last Frontier” now.

Alaska

“We’re headed to Aialik Glacier, the biggest in Kenai National Park.” – @marksbucket READ MORE

Recently back from filming an episode of Expedition Unknown in Peru, global explorer and host Josh Gates shares his tips for traveling to a country best known for its iconic ruins.

What brought you to Peru?

We’re here filming an upcoming episode of Expedition Unknown for Travel Channel. The series deals with historic mysteries around the world, and in this case, we’re diving into the grand culture of the Inca and the legend of one of their lost cities. It’s a thrilling story, and documenting the rugged beauty (and rugged challenges) of traveling into the jungles of Peru is going to make for an awesome episode!

What were your expectations while filming/visiting Peru?

Due to Peru’s largely “vertical geography” (a whole lot of mountains), each part of the country is wildly distinct from the next. One day you’re enjoying the warm ocean air in Lima, the next you’re shivering and trying to catch your breath in the high-altitude city of Cusco. Tomorrow, you might be kicking snow off your shoes in the Andes or sweating bullets in the verdant jungles of the Amazon. In other words, you never know what to expect here!

A great example is Lima, which, on the surface, is an easy place to dislike. After all, it’s essentially a desert — a city teetering on dusty cliffs with gridlocked traffic and a perennially gray sky. After centuries of earthquakes, Lima is also a maze of tumbledown buildings that seem to be in a constant state of disrepair. But then, you round a corner and get stopped in your tracks by a stunning colonial cathedral or a spirited local festival. A little exploration will take you into charming neighborhoods such as Miraflores. Great restaurants, live music and a pulsing nightlife are just waiting to be found. Like all of Peru, Lima is full of amazing surprises. READ MORE

Adventure Life

Planning a cruise to the Galapagos can be overwhelming simply because there are hundreds of ships and tour companies to choose from.  Once you’ve decided when you want to visit the Galapagos Islands, taking a cruise on a small yacht is the best way to see the more remote islands and wildlife.

Don’t let the word “yacht” give you the impression that you’ll spend your days lazing in the sun as you drift among the islands — tours to the Galapagos come with itineraries calling for early-morning wakeup calls, challenging hikes and multiple excursions daily. Translation: You’ll be spending most of your waking hours exploring the islands rather than relaxing on the ship. But you wouldn’t want it any other way when given the chance to visit a destination known for wildlife so epic that it inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.

I opted to cruise with Adventure Life because this sustainable travel company is a member of the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) and helps fund conservation projects to protect this double World Heritage site. As a guest on the M/Y Galapagos Grand Odyssey, I saw first-hand the benefits of traveling on a smaller luxury ship because it made the expedition experience both more intimate and comfortable. Here are some things I learned from traveling the Galapagos by ship:

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Yosemite National Park, 1903

Photography by National Park Service

On August 25, the National Park Service celebrated its Founders Day, marking the day in 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act, which created the Park Service.

In this week’s throwback Thursday, President Theodore Roosevelt and famed naturalist John Muir — considered the “Father of the National Park Service” — are pictured riding horses in California’s Yosemite Valley, with Half Dome standing in the distance, in 1903. Without Muir’s influential writings on Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park — one of America’s first wilderness parks — may not exist today.

In honor of the Park Service, plan a family fun trip to explore the natural beauty and wildlife of one of the 401 national parks in the US — say, Yosemite. Known mainly for its waterfalls, Yosemite offers a plethora of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and fishing for park visitors to enjoy. Plan ahead and visit on one of the Free National Park Days throughout the year!

 

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Perspectives / Getty Images

The Galapagos Islands are a natural wonder unlike any other place on the planet. The islands are a volcanic archipelago teaming with one-of-a-kind animals and plants, thanks to a very remote location more than 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, and the fact that many species uniquely evolved since it’s difficult to migrate from one island to the next. (Each island has its own distinct landscape—the destination is, after all, the spark that fueled Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution).

Travelers are flocking to the Galapagos Islands largely due to the awe-inspiring animals (think: playful sea lions, century-old giant tortoises, and prehistoric-looking marine iguanas) and easier travel to the remote destination in recent years (there were only a few flights to the islands a week in the 70s, and today there is an average of about six a day). In fact, visitors to the Galapagos surged from only 11,765 in 1975 to a whopping 204,395 in 2013, according to the Galapagos National Park Service.

This tourist boom is impacting the delicate ecosystem by keeping the demand for flights high and causing a bigger carbon impact; requiring more cargo ships to up the odds of oil and other fuel spills—not to mention ocean contamination from boat paint; increasing trash with limited ways to dispose of it; causing degradation to natural environment with more people visiting fragile habitats; draining the already-limited fresh water supply; and increasing the risk of invasive species hitchhiking to the islands on ships and planes carrying tourists. Sadly, the Galapagos Islands were added to the list of World Heritage Sites in danger in 2007.

Even though an influx of travelers is putting this delicate eco-system at risk, there are ways you can use travel to help preserve rather than destroy this double World Heritage site.

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Niagara Falls, 1859

Photography by Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Niagara Falls, the collective name of 3 waterfalls (Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls), straddles the border between the US and Canada, and is one of the most visited waterfalls in the world.

Pictured above, 2 people enjoy a breathtaking view of the American Falls from Prospect Point in Niagara Falls State Park — America’s oldest state park — in 1859.

If Niagara Falls is on your list of “Places to Visit,” enter this month’s sweepstakes for a chance to win a $10,000 trip for 2 to the Falls!

And don’t forget to check back every week this month for our Vintage Summer Throwback Thursdays.

 

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Photo Courtesy of Chris Burkard

I was up late trying to beat a bad case of insomnia when I saw Carson Daly’s interview with pro photographer Chris Burkard, who apparently has a knack for traveling to the most remote corners of the Earth to capture his travels, nature and usually, surfers in action.

Based in San Luis Obispo, CA, Chris is a senior staff photographer for Surfer Magazine, and contributes regularly to various international publications and brands like Patagonia. The self-taught photographer and artist has worked on 3 book projects: Distant Shores: Surfing the Ends of the Earth, The California Project and Plight of the Torpedo People.

I was inspired and amazed by Chris’ work and thought it would be fun to find out more about the man behind the lens of so many awe-inspiring photos.
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Hold on to your sorting hats Harry Potter fans, tonight on an all-new episode of Trip Flip, host Bert Kreischer surprises one lucky family with the adventure of a lifetime to Universal Studios Orlando.

Not only do our lucky winners get a whole day to enjoy the park, but they also receive an exclusive opportunity to be the first guests to walk the grounds of the latest addition to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley.

Diagon Alley has everything a wizard could ever want: select a wand at Ollivander’s (or let it select you, really), collect novelty items from Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and pick out your Hogwarts threads at Madam Malkin’s Robes for All Occasions. And for those of you who dabble in the Dark Arts, there is no better place for you then Borgin and Burkes, located down Knockturn Alley. READ MORE

These 2 west-coast cities are rich in history, iconic landmarks and diverse cuisine. You can take a stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge; walk down the Hollywood Walk of Fame; or indulge in LA’s vast food truck scene. But, you don’t have to choose between historical sightseeing and extreme adventure for your next vacation. While its rich culture makes San Francisco a historical gold mine, its location makes it the perfect spot for adventure. Surrounded by Muir Woods and Point Reyes National Seashore, the “City by the Bay” offers hiking, kayaking and more. READ MORE

Rio Grande do Sul

Photography by André Maceira

When you think of Brazil, do you think of cowboys in wide-brimmed hats and red neck kerchiefs, verdant canyons and apple strudel? Didn’t think so.

These things happen to be as Brazilian as a pulsating samba beat; Technicolor carnival costumes and intoxicatingly beautiful beaches, and you can find them in the country’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, which is getting ready for its star turn during the 2014 World Cup.

The region will reveal a side of Brazil that few know with culture and customs traced back to fiercely independent gauchos, along with determined Portuguese, Spanish, German and Italian settlers.  These customs show up mostly in the region’s foods. There’s chimarrao, the evra mate tea sipped from a communal cup called a cuia; galeterias, restaurants serving the pastas, polenta and grilled chicken of Italian immigrants; and café colonial, serving plate after plate of German-inspired dishes, including strudel. And then, there is churrasco, the gaucho parade of grilled beef, pork and chicken, probably Rio Grande do Sul’s most well-known export. READ MORE

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