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What You Need to Know Before Visiting Ecuador

With its diverse landscape and rich culture, Ecuador is definitely a hidden gem in South America that you don’t want to miss. Ecuador boasts amazing terrains, including the Amazon jungle, Andean highlands and the wildlife-rich Galapagos Islands. Following, are some traveling tips that might be useful for your trip, if you do decide to check it out.

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Language
English is rarely spoken in Ecuador, except at very popular and touristy places, such as the Galapagos Islands. It is best to have a translation tool handy or learn a bit of Spanish ahead. In fact, many travelers take Spanish lessons in Quito before heading out. As Spanish schools in Quito often offer very flexible programs and many of them provide traveling-while-learning options; the experience can be really fun.

Food
Other than in the Galapagos islands, food is very cheap and delicious in Ecuador. Even an upscale meal won’t cost you more than 20 dollars in general.  As Ecuadorians don’t use hormones to farm animals other than chickens, all your non-chicken meals are going to be organic at a very affordable price. What’s more, the variety and taste of fruits in Ecuador are also unbelievably amazing. There is no doubt that you should take the opportunity and eat your way throughout the country. You won’t regret it.

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Lodging
Lodging in Ecuador is very affordable. For 20-50 dollars, you can get a decent place to stay.

Currency
Eucador uses U.S dollars and ATMs are everywhere; it’s very convenient. However, credit cards are not widely accepted. Even if a business accepts your credit card, a high convenience fee will be charged.

Safety
In Quito, it is not wise to go out at night. However, it is safe to go out during the daytime. With some common sense, you should be fine. At touristy places, especially the Galapagos islands and Baños, safety is not really a concern, and you can just relax and enjoy.

If you take a bus to other cities, it is best to exercise caution and keep your luggage close to yourself.

The Health System
Although Ecuador is not a particularly rich country, its health service is pretty good and available to everyone, including travelers, at no cost.

Toilet
For whatever reason, toilets in Ecuador can be easily clogged. Avoid throwing anything in them, including toilet paper.

Booking A Galapagos Cruise
1. Exploring the Galapagos Islands by cruise is a very rewarding experience, though it is quite expensive. There are normally last-minute deals if you are a hardcore deal seeker.
2. Since for most of the day you will be either on islands, swimming, or on a boat , it is not necessary to spend a lot on an “upscale” cabin just for the night. Of course, if you don’t care about spending more money, a more expensive cabin does offer a bigger space then basic ones.
3. Due to government regulations, huge cruises are not allowed in the region. So, an average Galapagos cruise is small, can normally hold only 20-30 people in total, and is occasionally very bumpy. It is a good idea to pack some seasick pills for the trip. Plus, the pills can help you get a good night’s sleep, which is essential for the next day’s activities.
4. When you choose the cruise line, make sure to check their route first. Since a cruise needs to renew its licence every year,  their permission to certain areas can be alternated during the renew process, so the reputation of a cruise should go second after the itinerary.

For more ideas of what to do in Ecuador, download the LeafCanoe app to check out Daijie’s leaf and explore other leafs.

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How Accommodations in Tibet Look Like

In the travel diary of my Tibet trip, I mentioned quite a few very basic accommodations. I hope that you didn’t get the wrong impression that you have no other option while traveling in Tibet. So, let me talk a little more about the accommodation options in the remote areas of Tibet.

In general, once you are away from Lhasa, there are no lodge options on the road or in villages, except the one at the Guge kingdom ruins. However, bigger towns do have accommodations that are generally acceptable in terms of cleanliness and facilities. The bigger the town, the more options it can offer. If your budget is over 300 RMB per night, which is about 50 USD, you can have pretty decent options. Since my group had a tight budget,  our choices were normally from the low to the medium levels. You can definitely have a more luxurious option if you would like to spend a little more.

I have marked down the places we went in the map below and summarized the accommodation options for each accordingly.

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Tibet: this is a pretty modern city and has plenty of low, medium, and high-end lodge options. I highly recommend the Danjielin guesthouse, which is within walking distance to the Jokhang Temple, the ShoAkirat, and the Potala Palace. It is the perfect destination for a tourist. The guesthouse is nothing close to luxurious, however, it is well designed in the local style, and is quite tidy. Most importantly, the host is very friendly and willing to help whenever possible. The rate was around 200 RMB/night when we were there.

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Coqen: there were about four hotels in the town, and about two of them were in decent condition. We picked the cheaper one between the two, which cost about 260 RMB/night.

Xigaze: it is a pretty large and relatively modern city, which offers many lodge options, similar to Lhasa. However, we were not very lucky when we got there, as all the rooms were sold out because of the Panchen Lama’s visit. Having no other choices, we stayed in a bath center which provides beds for over night guests. Although all men and women were put in one huge lodge, which made me feel very uneasy at first, it was pretty clean and quiet. You can consider this option when lodges are not available. However, they may take advantage as they did to us, and overcharge you. In my case, I paid 180 RMB/night for a bed, a bit of a rip off.

Tingri: since we arrived there pretty late and left very early the next morning, we didn’t get a chance to get know about the town. However, the lodge we randomly picked was in pretty decent condition. Its standard room, which was about 230 RMB/night, had a private bathroom and running water, which is less common in more remote areas at a similar price.

Zhongba: the town was not big and had limited lodge options. We chose a 200 RMB/night one, which was actually a bad decision. The lodge did have a private bathroom, but no running water, and the bathroom was pretty dirty. There was one decent hotel in town you may consider, which cost 360 RMB/night and the facility was close to the western standard.

Darchen: since it is a popular travel destination, there are quite a few lodge options, though the town is quite small. We stayed in the Savored Mountain and Lake Hotel, which cost about 250 RMB/night. The lodge was in decent condition, very clean room and comfortable beds.

Guge: under the ruins, there is a small village, where there are many locals offering accommodations to tourists. In generally, the local house is very tidy, though really rustic. It is a great way to interact with locals and get to know about Tibetans. The one we stayed in cost about 60 RMB/bed/night. There ware about 5 beds in the room.

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Paryang: try to avoid this town if you can. It has very limited lodge options. The local home we stayed in was in very bad condition. The room had no locks and no private bathrooms and even the window was broken. We heard they were building a 4 star hotel there. Hopefully, it is completed now. Otherwise, you better go to a nearby, bigger town for the stay.

Nyima: it is a big town. You can find many good options for sure there.

Bangor: it is a big town as well, with many options for lodging, ranging from the low end inns to the medium level hotels. The one we chose was an inn, which cost about 160 RMB/night, with public bathrooms.

Namtso: it is a very popular national park. However, the lodging there is very uncomfortable. Due to the government regulations, the whole site had only public bathrooms which could be very far from your room. The room there was very basic, even though it would cost you more than 200 RMB/night. The service was also very basic as well. Hopefully, the condition can be improved soon.

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If you are a nature lover, you can’t miss Alaska

A few days ago, my friend asked me:” Between Alaska and Tibet, which one is better?” Honestly, it was a challenging question. Although Alaska doesn’t have much of history, culture, or local food,  compared to Tibet,  its stunning sceneries and amazing adventurous opportunities are simply hard to resist.
If you would like to see glaciers, you should visit Alaska, because it has around 100,000 glaciers in the state. It is true that Tibet has the world famous Everest glacier, but taking a closer look is nothing easy. However, for Alaska, you can walk on a glacier, kayak around a glacier, or even land on a glacier right from a helicopter.   There are so many ways to explore and experience.
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If you are a fishing enthusiast, you should visit Alaska, because you will for sure catch something from a stream,  a lake,  or the sea .  While in Tibet, it is quite the opposite, because fishing is a taboo there. Athough it has the most unbelievable stunning lakes with plenty of fish, you will be empty handed.
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If you would like to escape a few days from the modern world,  you should visit Alaska, because you can drive a motor home and stop whenever and wherever you feel like to. You can walk in the valley aimlessly, lose the sense of time, do some berry picking, go fishing and cook what you get. The life there can be so simple . While in Tibet, you are more likely to be an observer instead of a participant, because the tough conditions would deter you from the very beginning.

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If you want to see the northern lights, you should visit Alaska, because you can easily drive to a hill top, settle down, relax, and enjoy the amazing wondrousness dancing in the sky while you are only a step away from your comfy motor home.
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If you like Tibet but worried about things getting out of control, you should visit Alaska, because all the adventures are actually well managed excursions, which could be strenuous but nothing near dangerous.
This is Alaska, a place that you don’t want to resist.

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Get To Know Your Travel Style

The wonderful thing about travel is how each experience can be unique and different. Just as each person is a unique individual, each traveler has their own travel style. With LeafCanoe, you can find leaves that suit all sorts of travel styles. From adventurous exploration in the outdoors, to a peaceful retreat on the beach, travel can be what you want it to be.

Over the past year, our expert LeafCanoers have created leaves that represent the wide spectrum of travel styles. If you’re looking for ideas for travel, they’re a great resource to start with. Take a look at these travel styles and see which one suits you the most.

Slow TravelDan McElroy
Do you enjoy living in the moment? Do you prefer to get to know a destination in depth, rather than moving quickly from one destination to another? For some travelers, going at a slower pace is the way to go. This means spending more time in a particular destination, and really understanding the ins and outs of that place. Or it can also mean using forms of transportation that aren’t as fast, such as cars or bikes. Dan McElroy from Searching for your Zen, knows this quite well. He spent several months road tripping around the United States, really taking the time to get to know the country. If you’re looking for travel experiences that showcase the ins and outs of a destination, check out some of his leaves, such as “Jaw Dropping Scenery at Glacier National Park” or “Washington DC – In A Day!

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Budget TravelLaura Studen
If you’re not careful, travel can get pretty expensive, especially if you do a lot of flying overseas. Fortunately, travel doesn’t necessarily have to be pricey. If you love to travel but have limited resources, then you might fall under the category of a budget travelers. Budget travelers know how to get the most travel value out of what they have. Rather than staying at a luxury resort, they choose more simple accommodations like a hostel or a guest house. Instead of eating out every night, they occasionally cook dinners from home. And when it comes to choosing destinations, budget travelers will choose cheaper countries rather than more expensive ones. As a student, Lauren Studen, of Girl x Departure, has a lot of experience with budget travel, and her leaves focus on how to get the most out of a destination. Check out her leaves about Turkey, such as “10 Free Things to do in Istanbul” or her leaf about Bangkok called, “15 Things To Do in Bangkok.”

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Intellectual TravelKathryn Damicone
Travel isn’t always just about the destination. For some travelers, it’s about learning the history of a place, or diving deep into the social and cultural aspects of that destination. Intellectual travelers enjoy the educational aspects of travel, the opportunity to enrich the mind with historical knowledge or a cultural context.  These are the type of travelers who will spend months learning the language before visiting a new place, or who will immerse themselves in the literature of a particular country. At the heart of it all is the desire to connect with other cultures. LeafCanoer, Kathryn Damicone, also known as SocioKathy, loves focusing on the human to human connections that comes with travel. Her leaves, such as “Destination Dresden” or “Maui’s Must See List,” focus a lot on cultural exploration, so typical for the intellectual traveler.

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Adventure TravelDaijie Huang
On the other end of the spectrum is adventure travel. This type of travel is centered around people who love fast paced environments, and who love to test the limits of what their body can or cannot handle.  Adventure travel oven involves activities that are physically challenging or are in a unique location. Those who love adventure travel are happy when they are doing things such as climbing hills, ziplining through a forest, or riding ATVs through the sand dunes. LeafCanoer’s founder, Daijie Huang, has traveled to some very exciting travel destinations with her family, and for those with a more adventurous travel style, her leaves are the perfect travel inspiration. Check out her leaf, “Visit Machu Picchu,” or “18 Day Kenya Safari Itinerary” for some wanderlust worthy adventure travel ideas.

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Pop-Culture TravelToni Frazer
Like the intellectual traveler, the pop-culture traveler doesn’t always focus on the destination. However if that destination is related to something in a movie or a tv show, than the pop-culture traveler is sure to seek it out. These types of travelers are the ones who like visiting a landmark because it was featured in a film. Or they enjoy creating trips that are inspired by a movie, book, or tv show.  LeafCanoer, Toni Frazer, of Enchanted Serendipity, loves visiting filming locations. Her leaf, “The Notebook Filming Locations” showcases several spots in North Carolina where the movie was filmed. Another leaf of hers, “Chicago, Illinois Filming Locations,” highlights filming locations of famous John Hughes movies.

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Nature Travel – Amanda Tiffany
For some, the wonders of nature are what inspires them to travel. Nature travelers love exploring the natural surroundings of a destination. They are drawn to the beaches, the forests, the mountains, and lakes. They focus on the beauty that surrounds them in nature, and they love taking pictures to showcase this natural beauty. Amanda Tiffany from Gallivant Society, has plenty of experience with nature travel. Her leaves about Belize, such as “Explore the untouched beauty of Southern Belize” and “The possibilities for adventure are endless in Cayo, Belize,” all showcase the wonderful natural beauty that can be found during your travels.

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Local TravelAstrid Vinje
Like the slow traveler, those who enjoy local travel often opt to get to know one particular destination really well, rather than hopping from one destination to another. For the local traveler, the focus is on taking the time to live like one of the locals. Local travelers love activities such as cooking classes or city tours, because it gives them a chance to really get to know the local culture. They also enjoy doing activities like visiting a local park, or going to the city market. LeafCanoer, Astrid Vinje, of The Wandering Daughter, loves exploring the local scene during her travels. Check out her leaves such as “A Tasty Tour of Seattle” or “Day Trips From Seattle” for ideas on local travel.

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Responsible TravelLaura Fairbourn
Traveling the world brings with it a sense of social responsibility. Many travelers want more from their travels than just seeing the tourist sites. They want to leave the world better than when they found it. For the responsible traveler, travel is about making sure that your activities do not have a negative impact on the environment or the cultures of the places you visit. They love doing volunteer activities, and are drawn to destinations that exemplify sustainable travel. For LeafCanoer, Laura Fairbourn, of Grassroots Nomad, travel is about having a positive impact on the world. Her leaves, “Petra” and “Savamala Street Art – Belgrade,” offer a unique perspective to travel that focuses on understanding the local culture and history.

travel style

Every traveler has their own unique travel style, and LeafCanoe has a leaf for almost every type of travel style imaginable.  Some of the travel styles not highlighted here include luxury travel, which focus on staying at luxury resorts and pampering yourself on your travels, and food travel, which seeks out to find the very best meal.

If you’re looking for inspiration on where to travel next, think about your travel style, and follow one of our LeafCanoe experts! If you want to become an expert, check out our expert program!

To get started on exploring the different travel styles, download the LeafCanoe app.

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How to Write the Best-Ever Leaf on LeafCanoe

For a traveler, the LeafCanoe app is one of the best apps you can have in your back pocket. With user-generated content, you can have access to first hand experiences of other travelers in the destinations you’re interested in. And if you’re a traveler who wants to share an experience in a destination with other travelers, LeafCanoe is the perfect medium to do this. In a way, LeafCanoe is like the hostel lounge for the digital age, serving as a place for exchanging travel experiences.

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But not all leaves are created equal. Some are more helpful and informative than others. If you’re struggling to create leaves that make an impression, have no fear. Here are some tips to help you create a high quality leaf on LeafCanoe.

Share something unique
People want to hear about the interesting things you’ve done on your travels, so make sure your leaf is about something unique. If you’re writing a leaf about New York City, avoid simply writing about the tourist destinations. Instead, take the time to explore and share some of the off-the-beaten-path destinations like Greenwich Village or East Village. Or, you can make a theme for your leaf, like what LeafCanoer, travelfreak, did in his leaf, “The Ultimate Guide to Eating and Drinking in NYC“.

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Use photos that entice
In this day and age, the cameras on our smart phones are just as powerful as regular cameras. So why not use it to your advantage? Take some great photos of the destinations you are visiting, and use it on your leaf. People are drawn to visual stimulation, and a wonderfully shot photograph will help draw interest to your leaf, as well as provide a much better picture of what your experience was like. Make sure your photos are edited to your preference before uploading them to the LeafCanoe app.

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It’s all in the details
A good quality leaf is one that provides a lot of details about a particular destination. Travelers who are reading your leaf want to know the things that make a place special, so go ahead and provide those details. Is there a particular museum that is open only at certain times of day? Mention it in the description. Are there perfect spots to catch the sunset in a particular city? Share them in your leaf. Your fellow travelers love hearing about these insider tips.

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Location, location, location
Just like in real estate, location is everything. In the case of the LeafCanoe app, it’s more about putting down an accurate destination for your leaf. Since part of LeafCanoe’s functionality includes a map feature for you to pinpoint exactly where your leaf took place, it’s important to be as accurate as you can about the physical destination on the map.

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Get personal
The most important aspect of a high quality leaf is the personal aspect. Rather than provide a generic description of a place, get personal. Explain why that place is significant to you. Describe a funny moment that occurred in that place. Share some tips that you picked up while visiting that place. Give other travelers a sense of your personality.

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The LeafCanoe app is fast becoming one of the go-to apps for travelers. With its use of crowd-sourced information, it can prove to be quite a powerful tool, both for researching destinations and sharing stories about your travels. With the tips provided here, you are now well on your way to creating the best-ever leaves on LeafCanoe, ones that will serve as valuable resources for travelers in years to come.

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Ready to get started on your own leaf? Download the LeafCanoe app and start sharing your experiences with the LeafCanoe community.

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Visit Cayo! Five Ways to Discover Belize

Among the countries that make up Central America, Belize is a little known gem. Tucked away in the north eastern corner of the region, Belize is often overlooked by tourists, who favor its more popular neighbors like Guatemala, Mexico, and El Salvador. According to the World Bank, Belize ranked lowest in number of tourists in 2013, among all the countries in Central America. But contrary to what the numbers say, there is a lot that Belize has to offer. For the intrepid and adventurous traveler, like LeafCanoer, Amanda Tiffany, Belize is a country that’s well worth a visit.

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There are many ways to discover Belize, but one of the best ways is to spend time in the district of Cayo. In her leaf titled, “Cayo, Belize,” Amanda shares some of her top picks for things to do in Cayo. Known for its diverse array of attractions and activities, Cayo provides visitors to Belize a rich sampling of what the rest of the country has to offer. Here are seven ways a visit to Cayo can help you discover the wonders of Belize:

Go take a hike
There is plenty of hiking to do in Belize, and some of them can be quite unique and exciting. Visitors to Cayo often enjoy visiting the Actun Tunichil Mucknal, a cave near the town of San Ignacio. Not only is it a good place to practice your cave exploration skills, it’s also the perfect place to channel your inner Indiana Jones. The cave is home to a Mayan archaeological site, and is filled with skeletons, ceramics, and stoneware. For the less adventurous visitor, Guanacaste National Park and Blue Hole National Park offer one to two mile hikes along their well-maintained trails.

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Hit the biking trails
Belize has seventeen national parks, five of which are in Cayo. Additionally, there are sixteen forest reserves, with five of them located in the Cayo district. For avid mountain bikers, the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve is a popular spot to hit the bike trails. For those looking for more guided tours, plenty of tour companies offer bike tours in the area.

Explore the ruins
Within the district of Cayo, there are several Mayan ruins worth visiting. Besides Actun Tunichil Mucknal, visitors should also visit Tikal National Park as well as the Caracol Ruins, to get a taste of the deep history of Belize. The Mayans inhabited Belize as far back as 2500 BC. These days, only a handful of their temples and structures remain, due to infrastructure development in the area.

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Immerse yourself in the culture
The culture of Belize is a rich mix of Mayan, Spanish, Native American, and Mennonite. There have also been influences from countries like China and Lebanon, due to the large population of these ethnic groups in the country. As a result, Belize’s culture is a hodgepodge of traditions from these various groups. Spending time in the towns in the Cayo district can help you get a taste of the local flavor of the culture. The towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena are bustling with open air markets, and the Mennonite community of Spanish Lookout is also a popular place to visit.

Kick back and relax
The pace of life in the jungles of Cayo is decidedly laid back and relaxed. Since the Cayo district is located inland, there are no beaches, but there are plenty of rivers to enjoy dipping your feet into. Major rivers in the district include the Mopan River and the Macal River. Also, within the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve is the Rio on Pools, a series of pools and waterfalls that is popular among visitors to Belize.

discover Belize

Despite being not so well known in the tourist circles, Belize is a country worth visting and exploring. For the adventurous traveler, there are plenty of ways to discover Belize. From hiking the jungle to getting immersed in the local culture, there is so much to see and do in that country.

For more ideas of what to do in Belize, download the LeafCanoe app to check out Amanda’s leaf and explore other leafs.

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Out of the box travels – Spectacular Biannual Airshows in Radom, Poland

One of the best travel ideas that are out of the box and  don’t require professional equipment and meticulous preparation is to travel for less conventional but unbelievable breathtaking airshows.  All you have to do is grabbing your camera/ smartphone,  immersing in the excitement of the crowd, and admiring the roar of jet engines and the colorful smoke trails left in the sky. If you’re in search of such a unique experience, mark your 2017 calendar for the far-famed “Airshow Radom” that’s recognized as the best European airshow. Well organized and highlighted by its storytelling airshow commentating and interactive displays, the Airshow Radom appeals to a much bigger audience that is beyond military fans.

General Airshow Tips + What to Bring

  • Typically, the biggest airshows in the world are packed with delicious local food stands. Airshow Radom is not an exception. We highly recommend you to try some Polish delicacies there when you visit the Airshow Radom 2017. In case you are on a diet or don’t like to eat out, just pack a lunch and fruits in your bag. Airshow Radom organizers, due to its security measures, do not allow you to take your own beverages, so, take an empty water bottle to fill with water served inside. You can also buy yourself a beer or soda drinks at the food stands.
  • Airshow Radom is always  2 full-day event (at least 10 hours of performances every day), so make sure that you bring a chair or a simple blanket to make your day a lot more comfortable.
  • Airshow Radom is always being held in August and Poland can get pretty hot during the time frame(around 30 C). Bring an umbrella to cover yourself up from the sun and don’t forget to bring sunscreen and apply it every 3 hours to avoid the unpleasant sunburn.
  • Take a camera with a more professional zoom to capture the incredible soaring stunts in action.
  • If you want to take a picture of a plane taking off or landing, take a small plastic ladder or podium to get a better view above the crowd.

5 reasons why going to airshows is a great idea

  1. You will meet plenty of people who are passionate about the aviation and willing to give you many interesting insights of an aircraft . You may be  inspired to try “crazy” things you never thought before! Yes, paragliding, sky diverting, aircraft photography, …etc, only the sky is the limit.

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2.  You will get to know the history of host country: there always are countless displays that exhibit the most interesting historical facts with pictures. You can also find unique, old-fashioned planes, and items that are borrowed from the top-notch national museums (such as the image below).

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  1. This will be an adventurous trip that requires no preparation.
  2. It will broaden your horizons.
  3. You will immerse in the excitement of watching the insanely difficult stunts and picturesque performance by world-class pilots.

Airshow Radom, the biggest event in Europe

The first Air Show Radom was launched in 2000 and it has been an extremely successful event  ever since. It is an international airshow held biannually in the end of August in Radom, a city about 100 km to the South of Warsaw. This year’s edition, which took place over the weekend of 22-23 August, had the best aviators from 20 countries demonstrating the incredible capabilities of air crafts and acrobatic performances. Apart from the soaring aerobatics, there was an aircraft exhibit  called “static air shows”. You can touch it, visit inside, chat with pilots and servicemen, get flying tips from certificated flight instructors, mingle with the crowd, meet new people over a beer with delicious Polish grilled sausages.

Airshow Radom 2015

Roughly 260 planes and helicopters from 20 countries took part in the weekend’s Radom Air Show performances, including military machines from the Polish Air Forces. Two days of elaborate soaring stunts and aircraft displays brought around 200,000 visitors to the show,  and, the airfield was completely packed with aircrafts. Poland was represented by „Biało-Czerwone Iskry” displaying TS-11 Iskra plane and „Orlik” team displaying PZL-130 Orlik.

For the first time,  the Air Show included military equipment and weapon displays on the ground, which are all from the Polish Armed Forces. You could try out your luck in the aircraft simulators or hold the real weapons.

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Fot. Janusz Burda

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Fot. Janusz Burda

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Fot. Janusz Burda

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Fot. Janusz Burda

“Frecce Tricolori”

One of the stars of the 2015 airshow were  Frecce Tricolori (“Tricolour Arrows”), officially known as the 313° Gruppo Addestramento Acrobatico from Italy. This aerobatic demonstration team of the Italian Aeronautic Military, based at Rivolto Air Force Base in the Friuli Venezia Giulia, not only colored the sky with a flypast green-white-red smoke, but also had the most fantastic running commentary. With a lovely Italian accent, the commentator prepared the audience to get ready their cameras right in time for the stunning aerobatics. Many visitors drove over 2,000 km by car to see the 40 minute performance of The Frecce Tricolori in Radom.

An Interesting fact: to honor Luciano Pavarotti, the Frecce Tricolori performed a tricolor smoke trail that represents the Italian flag’s colors on his funeral in Modena, on 8 September 2007. Ever since, this Italian team often plays Pavarotti during its performances – including the AirShow Radom 2015.

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tricolori team on

“Żelazny”

Another great performer was the Polish “Żelazny”  team flying on Zlin Z-526AFS and Zlin Z-50L, adding this year some pretty cool stunts on gliders. It’s a very successful Polish group winning in many European competitions and also well known for its charming female team members…

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MiG29

Although the industry opinions of the TOP 5 performing planes are divided, MiG29, a Russian primary front line fighter, definitely won aviation enthusiasts’ votes for  its distinctive look and incredibly loud roaring sound. MiG-29 is a twin-engine jet fighter aircraft designed in the Soviet Union, developed by the Mikoyan design bureau. It was said that it has filled the technological gap between the Soviet and the NATO fast jets and its sensors and weapon systems can bring down the Tomahawk cruise missiles!

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MiG 21 – Lancer

The Romanian Air Force Commander displayed a MiG-21 Lancer soloist in “the flying pencil”. Although a routine display program since 2013, “the flying pencil”surely entertained the audience who still remember the times when Polish pilots were flying MiG-21,  and,  the younger generation who got to see it in the sky.

lancer

Euro-fighter Typhoon

The Euro-fighter Typhoon displayed by the Capt Federico Petracca and presented by the ‘Boff’ Raffaele Beltrame from Italy made the day. The Euro-fighter Typhoon is the world’s most advanced swing-role combat aircraft with deplorable Air-to-Air and Air-to-Surface capabilities. The aircraft has proven and continues to demonstrate its high reliability  under all climates.

eurofighter typhoon

Mi-24 Hind

The Mi-24 (named Hind by NATO) is a large helicopter gunship and also an attack helicopter that serves as a low-capacity troop transport for passengers. It has been operated since 1972, by the Soviet Air Force and its successors,  and over 30  other nations.

mi-24-super-hind

F-16 ZEUS

The name says it all. The god of gods displayed by a Greek team of course…

zeus

Look forward

Travel to airshows can be a great and fun adventure. There are plenty of airshows  in Europe and the North America.  Below is a list of the  most eminent airshows all over the world.  Are you ready for the fun?

Airshows in Europe

http://www.air-shows.org.uk/uk-and-european-airshow-calendar/european-airshow-calendar-2015/

Airshows in US

http://www.richard-seaman.com/Aircraft/AirShows/

http://www.10best.com/interests/sports-travel/10-best-super-air-show-destinations/

Airshows in Asia

http://www.singaporeairshow.com/aviation-training-zone.php

Airshows all over the world

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_air_shows

Airshow Radom

https://www.facebook.com/pokazy.airshow

Other interesting pages:

http://www.air-shows.org.uk/

http://www.aerotechnews.com/

http://www.thirtythousandfeet.com/news.htm

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Visit 50+ cities in US: A 3 Month American Road Trip in Action

There is something exhilarating about a road trip. No matter where you go in the world, traveling across a country brings with it a sense of freedom and excitement, coupled with the uncertainty of exploring the unknown. One of the best countries to road trip through is the United States. With its mix of interstate freeways and state highways, and an abundance of attractions from the kitschy to the breathtaking, an American road trip is certainly something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.

We recently met up with travel blogger and LeafCanoer, Dan McElroy, who runs the travel blog, Searching For Your Zen. Having spent the last two years backpacking through Europe, teaching English in China, and traveling through Asia, Dan is currently on an American road trip. We sat down with Dan to talk about his travels, his blog, and his tips for doing an American road trip.

What’s the meaning behind “Searching For Your Zen”?
“Searching For Your Zen” was the result of a quarter-life crisis. I had just jumped into the “Corporate World” of the US with aspirations of climbing the ladder and being successful. When I lost my job unexpectedly and with no warning I was forced to re-consider my life and my own definition of “success.” After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that it was time for a change in my life. I was tired of chasing society’s dream and decided I wanted to travel. It was in the moments leading up to a solo 3 month trip to Europe that I started “Searching For Your Zen“. I was on a new adventure in life and my only goal was to be happy again.

What do you look for when you travel?
My ideological answer to that question is, “I’m searching for that place where time ceases to exist.”

In other words, I am looking for those moments in life that are so engrossing that nothing else matters. Those moments when time seems to slow down and life just seems simple for a moment. For me, I find those moments most often when I’m wearing a backpack in a foreign country and meeting strangers in hostels. People have a funny way of becoming their “best self” on the road and that is ultimately what I’m looking for. I want to be my best self and I seem to run into him more often while traveling.

What’s your American road trip goal?
Jess (my girlfriend), Barney (her dog) and myself are hoping to see the US as it was meant to be seen. This country is huge and it seems to demand a slower pace to truly experience it. Like anywhere, the US is just as much about the people is it is about the sites. We want to see the famous sites and we will, but in the meantime we’re talking to people from all over and hoping to get a glimpse into their lives. Our goal isn’t just to see the US, but to actually experience some of the sub-cultures.

What has been your favorite travel memory so far in US?
We are only 2 weeks into the road trip so far, but our favorite experience was when we spent a couple nights on a farm outside of Missoula, Montana. We used CouchSurfing.com and “surfed” with some really cool people! In the mornings we helped out a bit around the farm and then we went swimming and boating in the afternoons. It was a great experience and we met some really good people out there. Montanans are super friendly and the scenery in the entire state was incredible to experience first-hand.

What leafs can we expect next from you?
Because we started our road trip in Montana and Wyoming, we have front-loaded our road trip with national parks! As a result, my first 2 leafs were about Glacier & Yellowstone. In the future though, I would like to cast light on some of those places that don’t always get as much attention, cities and towns with unknown adventures and excitement! I’m more of a city-guy than a country-guy, so the next couple leafs will move from the country and focus on some of America’s greatest cities!

In the end, I am an adventure traveler on a budget. I am always looking for adventure and when I find it, I will share my experiences (along with some budget-saving tips as well).

Yellowstone

Travelers like Dan and Jess are not the first to go on an American road trip. And they certainly won’t be the last. The allure of the road will always call to travelers, and for good reason. From the amazing sights you see to the interesting people you meet along your journey, embarking on a road trip continues to be one of the best ways to experience a country.

To follow Dan’s leafs and for more road trip ideas and inspiration, download the LeafCanoe app.

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Traveling to Greece During the Economic Crisis – A Good or Bad Idea for A Couple?

The Romantic Getaway on Everyone’s Lips in 2015

Without a doubt this summer belongs to Greece. The country has not only been a hot topic for the last couple of months due to its economic crisis, but, it was also on the lips of everyone planning  an affordable summer vacation with his or her significant other. This beautiful and archeologically dense country whose income is based largely on tourism is obviously an important topic for the LeafCanoe team, as we always strive to give you the most reliable and updated traveling tips and information.

In July, we’ve already written about “Pros and Cons” of traveling to Greece during its economic crisis (READ MORE), and right after our article, we have received many questions from the community regarding safety measures and other practical tips on traveling to Greece this year. You’ve asked, so we decided to investigate further and find out the details, as well as special recommendation on where to travel during the economical crisis in Greece.

We interviewed Alex, a LeafCanoer who traveled for 2 weeks across Greek’s islands with her boyfriend and another lovely couple. They came back with the hottest news and still-fresh memories of Greece! We are happy to share the details of their stunning journey and hopefully help you in planning your own dream trip to Greece in an efficient way!

Alex’s Point of View: 9 Things  She Learned About Traveling In Greece  In 2015

Alex, you traveled to Greece from Switzerland with your boyfriend and another couple by car….

1. Is Greece indeed a great destination for a couple?
It has the most romantic sunsets in the world, friendly people and angelic landscapes: just white and blue all around you. Plus, there are a lot of activities for couples who plan to stay for 2 weeks, including quad rides, kitesurfing or donkey rides, so you won’t get quickly bored.

2. Sounds fun. Just wondering, why did you choose Greece, again? You’ve been there for three times, already…
First of all, I’ve never been to islands before as I was hanging out mostly in the mainland exploring (for example) Athens. There’s plenty of things to see in Greece and one week will never be enough, unless you want to run instead of enjoying a truly romantic time with your significant other. Secondly, Greece is pretty cheap and only gets cheaper, and we planned a 2 week holiday on a budget in Europe this year.

3. You weren’t concerned about the big Greek economical crisis?
I was thinking about it for a while, but then we found a really good accommodation deal and  read through many positive reviews of others traveling to Greece. We decided to take the risk and it was worth it. At the end of the day there was practically no sign of an economical crisis everyone was talking about.  Well, we haven’t been to mainland Greece this time, so it’s hard to say what’s happening there, but on the islands it was just like an old, beautiful Greece – full of chilled people, delicious food and wonderful landscapes with lively-as-always villages.   

naxos3

4. How did you get to Greece from Switzerland?
By car through Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Albania…and it was a big mistake. Half of the time it took us getting somewhere, so out of 14 days of holiday, only 4 days I spent on my favorite activity which is beachin’. From the other side it was great to see majestic mountains and Vietnam rice paddies-like fields in Croatia, but if I had to choose I would simply fly over to Greece next time. Just to save more time for chilling in Greece.

vietnam

5. What place on the way to Greece did you love the most?
Probably Dubrovnik in Croatia, where they shot Game of Thrones…

 

game

6. How long did the journey take?
Well, if you go straight to Greece it would probably take around 30 hours, since there’s around 2,500 km to do, but we stayed in Croatia and made other stops on the way to Greece. Also, roads of Albania are not the best, so forget about driving 100km/hour…you’d better have good driving skills if you choose mountainous roads on your way to Greece from Switzerland.

7. You mentioned that Oia, Santorini and Naxos were the best parts of your trip in Greece. How about other spots you visited there?
I did not like Fira that much, because it was crowded and a bit dirty. In my opinion you could easily miss out this part of the trip if you’re running out of time. About museums – I am a big fan of culture and art, but the museums on islands all seemed just the same to me. In every corner you saw the same folk culture. It’s enough if you visit the one museum and the rest of your time you spend outdoors.

8. The best memory?
Quads in Oia! You should try it too! It’s lots of fun.

9. What are you planning to see next time in Greece?
Kreta, Korfu and Zakynthos. I like history so this time I am going to choose places of even bigger archaeological value.

Thanks Alex!

Alex’s Point of View: Two Must-See Romantic Islands of Greece

Naxos
Naxos is the most fertile and the largest of the Cycladic islands – no wonder why it’s called the city of god. It had to be blessed by the god himself since its natural beauty, including the romantic sunsets and endless ocean horizons, are simply divine. All of this of course works like a magnet for the paradise-seeking travelers, especially for newly married couples.
However, apart from its highly attractive visuals, Nexos also boasts an interesting history. Did you know that the city was the birthplace of Zeus, king of the gods? Or that Theseus has infamously abandoned Ariadne after she had helped him escape the Cretan labyrinth? Fortunately, it did not take long before Dionysos (the happy god of wine and ecstasy!), took good care of her. From then on, the wines of Naxos have been efficiently soothing the pain of travelers’ broken hearts, but even if your heart is in good shape I would still suggest you try the wines!
In addition to the great wines, you will also find remnants of impressive archeological monuments and museums as Naxos is a unique blend of ancient ruins and beach culture. Now, lets’ see what other attractions Naxos has in store for couples searching for fun and romance. Read about 5 things you and your significant other should do while in Naxos:

 naxps 5 top
1. Hiking
Portara will be first thing you’ll see from the ferry upon arrival in Naxos. Portara is a marble gateway to an ancient temple that no longer exists and the symbol of the island. It’s also the spot of the famous sunset view of the island, so be prepared to wait a bit in a queue to take a shot there. To hike over there, choose a causeway to Palatia, as the marble gate standing on top of a small islet is connected to the Town of Naxos through a small passageway. This gate is the only one remaining from a 6th century BC temple of Apollo.
If you like hiking, don’t miss Mt Zeus (1004m; also known as Mt Zas) – the Cyclades’ highest peak lying in the vicinity of the enchanting villages of Halki and Apiranthos with traditional footpaths to follow between villages and picturesque churches. Just be careful because the village of Halki is known for producing one of the best citron liquors, like for example the liquor of Marc F.Vallindras a trusted family secret keeps producing the aperitif from the fifth generation. Go and visit Vallindras Traditional Distillery of Kitron, which offers a tour of the kitron liqueur distillation process. At the end of the tour, you can sample this traditional drink of Naxos.

Naxos

2. Enjoy the stunning beaches…but which one?
The ones in the western side of Naxos of course!
Beaches from Agios Georgios and Agios Prokopios down to Mikri Vigla and Alyko have crystal water and soft sand. Even though they are acclaimed, you can still find totally remote spots, another reason to recommend the accommodations on this beachside. However, if you like more “raw” beaches, Naxos also offers pebble beaches and beautiful black beaches typical of most volcanic islands.
If you are more of an active couple, try windsurfing in the lagoon of Agios Georgios, which is claimed to have ideal windsurfing conditions. Or, if you prefer kiting , one of the best kitesurfing beaches is the beach of the Mikra Vigla.

3. Have a romantic walk!
If like taking romantic walks, definitely check out Kastro, where you can explore on paved patches and among the ancient stone buildings. Kastro is called the Greek Venice and it’s the oldest quarter in Naxos Town. And no wonder — Kastro was indeed constructed by the Venetians in the Medieval times!

venetia2

4. Visit Churches
Mix with the locals and follow them to panigiri (religious feast) in the picturesque churches. The panigiria include a litany of the saint’s icon all around the village. And then — dancing, eating, drinking, dancing, eating, drinking… in the central square till you drop out at dawn. There are many religious feasts being held all around Naxos you can’t go wrong.

5. Participate in the Naxos Festival in Bazeos Tower
The Naxos Festival originally started in summer 2001 and takes place in the restored Bazeos Tower in the center of the island. The Bazeos Tower has been functioning as a monastery of Holy Cross from 1600 and now serves as residences and workshops of ceramists. For the last 100 years the tower has hosted exciting cultural events, especially during its acclaimed Naxox Festival. To get a great taste of Greek folk culture, be sure to participate in the plentiful musical concerts and art exhibitions. Festival lasts from July to September, read more here.

Santorini Oia
The road to Oia was narrow and steppy. The village can be reached by a road that meanders along the steep cliffs located to the eastern periphery of Santorini. At certain points this road is so narrow that it looks more like a ridge that can barely accommodate two lanes with no railing for protection.
Santorini is gifted with a unique natural beauty and a wild scenery created by past volcanic eruptions. It is known for the beautiful caldera and two small islands of black lava that are also the youngest islets in the Eastern Mediterranean.
White-washed and brightly trimmed buildings glittering in the Sun on a striking volcanic cliff, the crystal clear blue Mediterranean ocean, endless horizon and churches blue domes decorate every corner of the picturesque landscapes. There’s soooo much to see. Do NOT forget your camera! Like most volcanic islands, Oia has a rather a raw beauty covered with dark pebble beaches and sharp volcanic rocks. I’ve compiled a list of possibly best experiences to try out and enjoy in Oia based on Alex recommendations, so read what you should do below:

dont leave oia

1. Embarking on Caldera sailing cruise
Oia is often crowded during the touristic season as it has plenty of bars, restaurants and hotels positioned right on top of rocky ridge lines and promontories. Best known for its fabulous panoramic view and sunny Mediterranean backdrop, the Santorini Caldera will not disappoint. Oia lies above an under-water volcano; the northernmost part of the Caldera’s crater-like structure was formed by the collapse of land following a massive volcanic eruption. The crater actually looks like a “cooking pot”.
Some calderas are highly mineralized, thus are known for the healthy properties of their hot springs. Rent a boat and take off to the shore to swim in the natural hot springs all around. It’s surprising, but this part of ocean often has rough waters, so this swim isn’t for novices… be careful. Even strong swimmers can have a tough time to making it to the shore. Stick close to the boat. If you don’t feel like being a swimming champion, enjoy the cruise from inside of the boat. Be sure to take plenty of memorable pictures, eat, drink and observe the super romantic sunsets. I promise that you won’t get bored.

oia2

2. Watching the sunset
Talking about sunsets. Many travelers agree that the sunsets of Santorini are the most beautiful anywhere on earth. The best news is that the sunsets can be savored from countless vantage positions all over the island, and Oia is definitively one of them. Romantic lights decorate the newer buildings, including hotels and restaurants built on the cliffs, starkly contrast with the deep blue of the ocean and raw dark volcanic rock landscapes, providing you with truly mesmerizing views of Santorini’s natural beauty and rich Mediterranean history.
A truly great way to experience Santorini’s incredible sunsets is by embarking on a romantic sunset cruise. It doesn’t get any better than that.

oia7

3. Hiring a quad or a bike and riding around the island!
Hiring a quad or a bike is a lot of fun and it’s still a pretty cheap activity (around 15€ for the day plus fuel), and all you need to rent it is to have a standard driver’s license. Touring the island in this way will offer you a more intimate look at the landscape. That way, you will discover areas that are not normally accessible by bus plus you will have the amazing summer experience of salty Mediterranean breezes ruffling your hair. Who wouldn’t love that?
One of the safest roads are near Kamari and Perissa, where you can cruise down to their famous black sand beaches if you want to chill.

4. Staying in a Cave house
There are many lovely hostels “set in stone” and one of them is undoubtedly Caveland in Karterados. Due to its white-washed styling, bright blue doors decorated with fuchsia flowers, it is quintessentially Greek. And if you are a romantic couple, Oia is a perfect getaway and has definitely the best view of the caldera while remaining far away from the lively and crowded Fira. Couples who prefer to be in the center of action should choose Fira over Oia, but this is the chapter of a whole new story, since this time we are focusing on quiet and relaxing Greek islands.

santorini

Conclusion? Even with the economical issues, Greece is apparently more popular this year than we’ve seen it in many other years. The prices are cheap and the U.S dollar is strong. Romantic Greek island getaways continue to be attractive to travelers. So, if you are looking for lovely locations and breathtaking landscapes with staggering sunsets, Oia Santorini and Naxos are highly recommended by couples just like you. Whatever you choose, Alex recommends spending at least 4 days of getaway time on those beautiful beaches and relaxing in two of the most picturesque islands in the Mediterranean. What a great way to charge your battery for the wintertime.

ADDITIONAL PEEKS:
Oia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oia,_Greece
Santorini link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santorini
Naxos link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naxos
Kreta (Crete) link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crete
Korfu (Corfu)link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corfu
Zakynthos link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zakynthos

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Tips for a Great Trip to Glacier National Park

The summer months are coming to an end, but it’s still not to late to go out and explore the outdoors. One of the best national parks to explore the outdoors is Glacier National Park. Leafcanoer, searchingforyourzen, recently posted information about their trip to Glacier National Park in their leaf titled, “Jaw Dropping Scenery at Glacier National Park.” If you’re inspired to do your own trip to Glacier National Park, here are six tips to help you have a great trip to the park:

St. Mary

Dress in layers
The weather at Glacier National Park can be extremely fickle. Temperatures on a summer day can go from extremely hot to extremely cold. Additionally, wind and rain is a big part of the climate in the area, so it’s best to be prepared when planning a trip. Even for a day trip, be sure to dress in layers and bring a day pack. When it gets hot, store your layers in your day pack, and when it gets cold, put on those extra layers.

Going to the Sun Road

Let someone know where you’re going
Countless stories have been told of hikers getting lost at Glacier National Park. One of the simplest things you can do before heading out on your trip is to let someone know where you’re going, as well as give them an expected return date. Most smart phones these days have GPS tracking technology, so it wouldn’t be hard to set that up ahead of time with someone you know. But in case you’re in an area where that technology won’t work, it’s good to use the old fashioned method of telling someone where you will be.

Hungry Horse Dam

Plan your route
There are more than 700 miles of trails at Glacier National Park that you can discover and explore. If you only have a limited amount of time, it’s helpful to plan your route ahead of time. On a similar note, with over 150 mountain peaks at the park, elevation can fluctuate dramatically. Pace yourself, and take plenty of breaks so that you don’t get too exhausted too early in your trip.

Logan's Pass

Learn before you go
Part of planning involves doing a bit of research ahead of time. Before your trip to Glacier National Park, learn about some of the flora and fauna that you might see there. The National Park Service website has a page dedicted to Glacier National Park that has a lot of useful information including activities that the park is offering, the history and culture of the park, and facts about the animals and plants that inhabit the park. The NPS website also posts park alerts, so it’s helpful to check the site before your trip to stay up to date with what is going on at the park.

Ram

Stay hydrated and energized
With all the hiking and exploring that you’ll be doing at Glacier National Park, it’s important to stay hydrated, and bring snacks to keep you energized. Dried fruit and nuts are always a staple in every hiker’s snack list, but also consider bringing some fresh fruit. This can be a refreshing treat on a hot day.

Montana rivers

Bring your camera
Glacier National Park has an abundance of breathtaking views, it would be a pity not to be able to share it with others when you get back from your trip. If you can manage it, bring along a camera on your trip. A good DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera can help you capture some of the beauty of the park, but even a phone with a decent camera can suffice, though you won’t get the same quality photo as with a good camera.

Glacier National Park

Hiking in the outdoors is one of the best ways to enjoy the last months of summer. For more ideas of places to enjoy the outdoors, download the Leafcanoe app.

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