Sunday, June 13, 2010

Travel Inspirations

I am a world traveler, without a doubt and it will always be a part of my identity. Being stuck in one place for long periods of time makes me stir crazy. I want to get out, I want to do something. But when the funds don’t allow me to get out an explore I head to my library instead and check out all the travel books I can find. Lately, I’ve been getting so many ideas and have been so inspired so I thought I’d share a few of my finds and inspirations with you.

Here are some of my favorites from three of the books I have in my possession right now:

Unforgettable Places by Steve Davey, Marc Schlossman, Steve Watkins and Clare Jones

-Trekking the Milford track, Fiordland, New Zealand

This has been called “the worlds greatest walk.” This 4 day, 53 Km trek takes you along the sound, past waterfalls, though forest and wetlands. In contrast it also takes you past mountain peaks and though snowfields.

-Trekking Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Chile

With iconic mountain pinnacles (torres) jutting into the horizon and enormous glaciers gliding toward the ocean, the landscape of this UNESCO Biosphere reserve is hard to match. Trekking the park isn’t an easy feet however, the 6-8 day Paine Circuit covers 100km and has many points of steep assent and descent, but the views are worth it.

-Amalfi Coast, Italy

A 70km stretch of coastline from Sorrento to Salerno where the villages have been built precariously along sea cliffs. An ancient network of paths and staircases connect the villages whose charms are wrapped around their colorful architecture, ornate churches and entertaining squares with the aqua Mediterranean glittering below. You can also hike up into the mountains, through forests and past waterfalls to get amazing views of the coastline.

World Heritage Sites: A complete Guide to 878 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

-Wieliczka Salt Mine, Poland

Located near Krakow, the Wieliczka Salt Mine has been a working rock salt mine since the mid 19th century. Spread out over 9 levels, there are 300km of galleries connecting 2,000 excavation chambers where workers have taken to carving statues and other objects such as churches, alters and bas reliefs out of the rock salt.

-Iguazu National Park, Argentina

One of the worlds most amazing waterfalls, Iguazu Falls is located in the heart of this park which stretches between Argentina and Brazil (where it is called Iguacu). The falls themselves are actually a series of waterfalls and if you’re feeling daring you can take a boat ride along the river, getting you close enough to get a good soaking.

- Goreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia, Turkey

The incredible rocky landscape of Goreme and Cappadocia was created completely by wind erosion and looks more like something out of a fairytale than something you could find on earth. Here, for centuries the inhabitants of the area carved churches and created complete underground cities out of the rocks.

Journey’s of a Lifetime: 500 of the Worlds Greatest Trips by National Geographic

- The Chiva Express, Ecuador

This train is seriously cool. After the floods of the late 1980’s destroyed parts of the track, the original train was replaced with this truly unique train, which is actually a specially adapted bus painted in bright colors. You can sit inside of the bus during the 8 hour trip from Riobamba to Guayaquil, but why do that when you can sit in a seat on the roof, watching the scenery go by from an incredible vantage point. Another unique element of this train ride is that it travels through several different climate zones, starting in the cool Andes and ending in the tropical lowlands, so wear layers.

-Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal

Having done this trek myself (save for the last few days from Dingboche to Base Camp), I could not speak higher of it. Flying into Lukla you get your first distant taste of the high snowy Himalayan peaks. Walking along the trail you pass countless waterfalls and through many small villages where Tibetan prayer flags flutter endlessly in the wind, strung from countless stupas. The second days assent into the hillside village of Namche Bazar is long and exhausting but a necessary step to reach even more spectacular scenery. The farther you climb the thinner the trees get until the land is vast and empty giving you totally unobstructed views of Everest and it’s neighbors Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam.

-The Jungfraujoch Railway, Switzerland

Europe's Highest railway travels across glaciers and next to the mountain peaks of the Bernese Oberland. The train then makes it’s way through a 6 miles tunnel with stops at huge observation windows so you can take in the view. The train ends at the Junfraujoch Plateau (10,700ft) where you can take in the view, explore the “Ice Palace,” or in the summer take a dog sled ride across the Glacier.

So are you feelin inspired now? Each of these books contain hundreds of different trips, locations, and just plain awesome places, so go check ‘em out, or better yet buy them. The inspiration is endless.

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