ALL POSTS IN [Outdoors and Adventure]

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

 

Earth Day New York, Times Square

On April 22, more than 1 billion people in 192 countries around the world celebrate Earth Day. Since its first celebration in 1970, Earth Day has focused on increasing awareness and sustainability of the environment through a variety of educational programs, exhibits and events.

Each year, the Earth Day Network — an organization that works with more than 22,000 partners, including environmental advocates, educators and organizations to promote the environmental movement — coordinates Earth Day events with cities and countries around the world. READ MORE

 

National Cherry Blossom Festival

Photography by Reuters

Each year, in March and April, millions of people flock to Washington, DC, to experience the beauty of the National Cherry Blossom Festival when thousands of cherry blossom trees bloom along the Tidal Basin.

Today marks the average peak bloom date for the cherry blossom trees, and while the actual bloom date is difficult to predict, the National Park Service predicts that this spring’s peak bloom period is between April 8 and 12.

If you’re planning a visit, a stroll along the Tidal Basin is a must, but here are some other ways you can also celebrate the festival in the nation’s capital: READ MORE

Arctic Man

Arctic Man

From Alaskan cuisine to winter sports events and hotel restorations, escape to Alaska with Andrew Zimmern, Adam Richman and Anthony Melchiorri this Sunday on Travel Channel from 2|1c to 7|6c READ MORE

Tough Mudder Pittsburgh 2013

Tough Mudder participants do a 12-foot-high jump into Walk the Plank.

Earlier this year, you had a goal. Then life happened, and so did the weather. But now that spring has finally arrived, it’s time to get back to that moment, a couple months ago, when you told yourself that 2014 would be the year of getting back into shape.

And what could be a better way to get motivated and enjoy the spring weather than to visualize what could be all yours to enjoy: Moments like trudging through waist-high mud … and scurrying in mud pits with electric wires dangling just inches from your face … or jumping into a vat of ice-cold water that, surprise!, you can only escape by swimming underneath one very long headboard … or climbing over a 9-foot-high wall, affectionately known as the Berlin Wall, while praying you land in one solid piece on the way down? And finally — in the piece de resistance — running through dangling wires juiced with 10,000 volts of electricity so powerful it’ll knock you to the ground. READ MORE

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