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Photo Gallery / Adventure Travel / Hiking / Australia Travel / Northern Territory Travel / Alice Springs Travel / Larapinta Trail / → All Tags
Last week, we went on a six-day excursion and hiked several sections of the Larapinta Trail, a walk that runs 139 miles through the Northern Territory of Australia. In the past few years, it has become known as one of the country's top treks due to its beautiful desert landscape and challenging rocky terrain. It starts in Alice Springs, is broken down into 12 sections, and is meant to take the average hiker 10-14 days to complete.
We did just over 60 miles of it over the course of the week, walking between 8 and 12 miles each day. It was an ideal time to tackle it, with the weather transitioning from winter to spring in the desert. Clear nights and moderate temperatures allowed us to sleep outside our tents under the stars, and it was hard to find a cloud in the sky on most days.
Adventure Travel / Grand Canyon Travel / Havasupai Travel / Arizona Travel / Hiking / Camping / → All Tags
Our photo gallery of Havasu Falls highlighted the stunning beauty that awaits adventure travelers who make the journey into the Grand Canyon, and from those you can see that milky turquoise water, stretching canyon walls, and jagged rock formations stole the show for us visually. But there were also many interesting and unexpected aspects of the area that surprised us, some that provided context that enhanced our trip and others that, simply put, surprised the hell out of us.
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Havasu Falls at the end of the Havasupai Trail in the Grand Canyon
Most people only see the Grand Canyon from above, looking out from a viewing platform on the South Rim near the visitor center. But getting down into this Wonder of the World provides an incredible perspective on its size and scope, not to mention its beauty.
Adventure travelers have been immersing themselves in the Canyon for centuries, backpacking rim to rim or rafting their way along the Colorado River. Last week, we took one of the easier routes of submersion, hiking the 11-mile Havasupai Trail to what we consider to be the Canyon's, and perhaps North America's, best oasis.
Wish You Were Here / Adventure Travel / Hiking / Grand Canyon Travel / Arizona Travel / Havasupai Falls / → All Tags
We're down there... somewhere.
Most people only see the Grand Canyon from above, looking out from a viewing platform on the South Rim near the visitor center. For those that need a reminder of its "grandness," the canyon is 277 "river miles" long, one mile deep, and 18 miles at its widest point.
It's an amazing sight, for sure, one of which we need a much closer look. This weekend, we're headed off on a multi-day backpacking trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, making our way to Havasupai Falls, about an 11-mile hike from the top of the canyon.
When this writer went to the small town of Damascus in western Virginia to research a few stories, I basically ran myself into the ground, hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail in the morning and biking the Virginia Creeper Trail in the afternoon. Before my visit, when I was explaining to friends where I was going, I told them that Damascus sat alongside the App Trail. I was wrong about that. Turns out, the trail goes right through it.
Like, really through it, as in the sidewalk down the center of town is part of the trail. This in itself is what makes Damascus such an interesting place. Every person that hikes the Appalachian Trail - which is 2,184 miles from Georgia to Maine and takes the average person 6 months - must walk through the town of Damascus. You meet some interesting characters to say the least, from the hikers to the people in the town who help them out. It's not unusual to see tents set up in front yards, locals taking in the weary walkers for a night or two.
Saba Travel / Caribbean Travel / Island Travel / Island Hopping / Hiking / Adventure Travel / → All Tags
We told you about the lack of beaches, the memorable airport, and the pristine, world-class diving, but there’s much more to love about Saba once you scratch the surface and go beyond the headlines. Here are five more awesome things we discovered that helps to define life on this tiny Caribbean island:
You Can Hitchhike Without Worry
If you walk down the road outside the main drags of town, you probably won’t even need to stick out your thumb – locals will most likely pull over and ask if you need a ride. During our trip, we met a Canadian who told us a great story about arriving to Saba and hitchhiking to his first day of work. He found himself in the back of a truck, sitting on the metal floor next to a goat, the animal sliding against him in the moving vehicle. When the driver asked where he was going and what he did on the island, the man said he laughed out loud before responding, his hand on the goat to keep it at bay, “I’m a doctor. I’m going to the med school.”
A doctor might be a respected and prestigious position in North America, but no one is above riding in the back of a pickup with the local wildlife on Saba.
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As we learned, Saba certainly isn't known for its beaches, shooting straight up from the sea in dramatic, volcanic fashion. On the coastline, you will definitely see the rocky nature of the island, but at the center of Saba sits lush rainforests.
On our recent visit, we hiked to the highest point on the island and were rewarded with sweeping views of the town of Windwardside on southeast corner of the island. Coming down on the other side, we caught a glimpse through the trees of Saba's capital, The Bottom. The view from the hills above the airport is a great one, too, especially if you can time it with the landing of a plane. It is from there that you can also see up to a half dozen islands in the distance: St. Maarten, St. Barth's, Anguilla, Nevis, St. Kitts, and St. Eustatius.
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Question: When was the last time you went to an airport for a drink when you didn’t have a flight? Turns out, Saba’s claim that it has the shortest commercial runway in the world isn’t the only reason to visit its airport – it’s also a damn good place to grab a drink and chat up some locals.
But first, the runway itself. It’s one of the main reasons, in conjunction with the fact that it has no beaches, why the island has remained so protected from mass tourism. At a mere 1,312 feet long, nothing larger than a small prop plane can land (as a comparison, Denver has the longest commercial runway in the U.S. at 16,000 feet).
Adventure Travel / St Maarten Travel / St Martin Travel / Caribbean Travel / Hiking / Orient Beach / Simpson Bay / Maho Beach / → All Tags
Pic Paradis is the highest point on St. Martin (1,391 feet), and those who make their way to the top are rewarded with 360-degree views of the island. You can either hike or drive to the top, so the beauty is open to all ages and abilities.
The view was a bit hazy in certain directions on our recent visit, but it is an absolute must-do for visitors with a few days to explore. You have to change positions at the summit to see the whole island -- it will be obvious -- but its perspective will not only show you the beautiful green-blue contrast of the land and the sea, but allow you to gain a feel for the different corners and layout of the island thanks to a labeled map at top.
We start with a above and below looking southwest towards Simpson Bay and Maho Beach:
Mount Hua, or Mount Huashan, in Shaanxi isn't exactly the tallest mountain in the world (about 7,000 ft), but it definitely houses one of the more "exciting" hikes we've come across in terms of climbs that have popular public trailheads.
There are various trails that lead to the top that require various levels of
cajones courage, including incredibly steep staircases and the now-infamous "plank trail" you see in the photos. The daredevil trek takes you across a "boardwalk" and up a series of "ladders," ultimately ending at a Taoist teahouse. Man, that must be some good tea!
It's that time of the year again, the time when the year just plain ends. Alas, we can't just let 2013 go that easily, especially since travelers spent it both up in the air and up in arms over a crazy range of topics. Needless to say, we're ready to get going into 2014, but first we're taking a brief look back at the best of 2013 with the Jaunted Travel Awards,or as we fondly refer to themThe Jauntys.
Everyone's hip on the fact that Hawaii has some of the world's best beaches to go along with volcanic interiors and incredibly lush rainforests, but this year's best kept secret is that the State harbors its own "grand canyon" on Kauai.
Known as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon is ten miles long and 3,000 feet deep (to give you some perspective, the real Grand Canyon 277 miles long and 6,000 feet deep). "Waimea" is Hawaiian for "reddish water," and is no doubt a reference to the color of the canyon and the tint the water takes on as it runs through.
When people talk to potential (and current) tourists about the Na Pali Coast of Kauai, one of the first things they do is spout off about how many movies it has been in and what famous people grace its shoreline with their presence. To that, we roll our eyes. Seriously, Daffy Duck could materialize and waddle through the water for all we care, and it'd still be the same surf, right? It leaves us wondering: Does scenery this amazing really need any justification?
The Kalalau Trail is 11-miles of postcard photography and awe-inspiring vantage points, and it's not just about the ocean-mountain combination - it's the way it presents itself. See, lots of places have oceans and mountains, but few combine in such dramatic fashion. The tropical setting surrounds you with thick, bright, and colorful vegetation, much of which is edible, be it fruit trees of mango, avocado, guava, and orange or edible herbal trailside supplements. The ocean comes to life too in a way that's different from, say, the coast of California. You can see it in the photo above. The blues, the greens. The in-betweens.