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Ten Places for Exploring the Galapagos Islands

Off the coast of Ecuador, scattered along the Equator, lie one of the most famous islands in natural history. The Galapagos Islands, an archipelago of volcanic islands 906 kilometers west of Ecuador, was made famous by Charles Darwin, who spent years recording the animals living on the islands. These days, the Galapagos Islands have become a favorite destination for travelers who enjoy wildlife. Various species of mammals, reptiles, and birds live on the Galapagos Islands, with each island containing distinctive species. Leafcanoer, Daijie, recently shared her experience exploring the Galapagos Islands in her leaf titled, “Explore Southern Islands of Galapagos On Boat”.

As many travelers to the Galapagos Islands can attest, there are many great locations to visit on a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Below is a list of ten places that are perfect for exploring the Galapagos Islands.

North Seymour Island
With an area of 1.9 square kilometers, North Seymour Island is relatively small, but is a great place to see birds. In particular, this island is home to the blue-footed boobies and swallow-tailed gulls, as well as frigatebirds. You can also see sea lions, who love to spend their time lounging around the island.

North Seymour Island - Exploring the Galapagos Islands

Tortuga Bay
Located on the island of Santa Cruz, Tortuga Bay is famous for its white sand beaches. Popular activities to do in this area include surfing on the beach or snorkeling around the nearby lagoons.

Las Loberias
Las Loberias is also a popular spot to see sea lions. On the island of San Cristobal, Las Loberias reportedly has some of the best snorkeling in the Galapoagos Islands.

Charles Darwin Research Station
For those interested in biological research, the Charles Darwin Research Station is an excellent place to start that exploration. Operated by the Charles Darwin Foundation, the research station continues to engage in scientific research and environmental education.

Darwin Station - Exploring the Galapagos Islands

Las Tintoreras
Another popular snorkeling location is Las Tintoreras. Here, snorkelers can see and swim with Galapagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, and even sea turtles.

Sierra Negra
A large shield volcano located at the southern part of Isabela island, Sierra Negra is a well-visited destination for travelers to the Galapagos Islands. Even though Sierra Negra is an active volcano, guided tours are continually offered on a regular basis.

Cerro Bruijo
The beach at Cerro Bruijo is considered to be one of the nicest beaches in the Galapagos Islands. Like other parts of the islands, snorkeling is a common activity at Cerro Bruijo, and behind the beach is a lagoon where visitors can find egrets and blue herons.

Cerro Bruijo

Campo Duro
A safari camp located near Sierra Negra, Campo Duro focuses on eco-tourism and conservation. Campo Duro is also a nice place to see giant tortoises, who have a preserve located nearby.

Las Grietas
In Spanish, the word “grieta” means crevasse or crack. A popular activity to do at Las Grietas is to go swimming in the cool ocean water, surrounded by the tall cliffs of the island.

Leon Dormido
One of the most prominent landmarks in the Galapagos Islands is Leon Dormido, known as Kicker Rock in English. Leon Dormido consists of volcanic rocks formed into tall towers. It is located off the coast of Isla de San Cristobal.

Leon Dormido - Exploring the Galapagos Islands

These ten places for exploring the Galapagos Islands are an excellent starting off point for your own adventure in the Galapagos Islands. For more ideas of what to explore, read more of the “Explore Southern Islands of Galapagos on Boat” leaf. You can also download the LeafCanoe app to check out more travel ideas.

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Back to Nature in the Rockies

When people think of the Rockies, most automatically think of Colorado or Montana. But the region that encompasses the Rocky Mountains actually stretches as far North as Canada, and as far South as New Mexico. The Rocky Mountain region is known for its natural beauty, and is an excellent place to get in touch with the great outdoors.

Leafcanoer, cmlenny, recently shared highlights of a trip to the Rockies in the leaf, “Eastern Idaho/Yellowstone National Park – adventure awaits!” From rivers to sand dunes, geysers to wild animals, the Rockies has no shortage of sights and activities. For those needing a break from everyday life, here are five ways to get back to nature in the Rockies.

Explore the Snake River
The Snake River is considered the largest tributary of the Columbia River, and winds through Wyoming, Idaho, and into Washington state. The river is approximately 1,078 miles long, and forms parts of the historic Oregon Trail. Since the 1890’s, the river has been used to generate hydroelectricity, and is also used to provide water to surrounding farmlands. The Snake River cuts through North America’s deepest river gorge, Hells Canyon. Popular activities to do along the Snake River include fishing, hiking, and boating. The largest white water rapids can also be found along the Snake River, in Idaho.

Back to Nature in the Rockies - Snake River

Visit Mesa Falls
A must-do while exploring the Snake River is a visit to Mesa Falls. There are actually two sets of waterfalls: Upper Mesa Falls and Lower Mesa Falls. These two waterfalls are known to be the last two prominent waterfalls untouched by human control. Upper Mesa Falls stands almost as tall as a 10-story building, and Lower Mesa Falls is not that far behind in height. The views surrounding the falls are breath-taking, and an excellent reminder of the beauty and power of nature. Mesa Falls is located in Eastern Idaho, in the Targhee National Forest.

Back to Nature in the Rockies - Upper Mesa Falls

Camp Out at St. Anthony Sand Dunes
Also in Idaho is St. Anthony sand dunes, which comprises of 11,000 acres of white quartz sand. The dunes are constantly shifting. Some of them reach up to 400 feet high and can move up to 8 feet each year. The sand dunes, located near St. Anthony, Idaho, are a great place to go camping. There are campsites along the east end of the dunes, and also in the south-central portion. Another popular activity to do at St. Anthony Sand Dunes is to go off-roading. Visitors have also explored the sand dunes on horseback.

Back to Nature in the Rockies - St. Anthony Sand Dunes

Observe Animals in their Natural Habitat    
The Rocky Mountains are home to a wide variety of animals. These include elk, moose, mule deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, and coyotes. In Yellowstone National Park, you can also find bison, lynx, mountain lions, and bobcats. The best way time to see animals are in the early mornings and the evening hours, when they are most likely to be feeding. And many visitors opt to camp out in the park, to increase their chances of seeing animals and to be more immersed in nature. However, there are a number of safety considerations to keep in mind when visiting Yellowstone, mainly that since these are wild animals, it’s wise to maintain a safe distance from them to avoid getting injured.

Back to Nature in the Rockies - Bears

Witness Geysers at Yellowstone National Park
Another draw to Yellowstone National Park are the geysers, which are periodically erupting hot springs. The most famous geyser at Yellowstone National Park is Old Faithful, aptly named due to its almost routine eruption every 63 minutes. According to the National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park has almost half of the world’s geysers. Besides Old Faithful, there are a number of other geysers throughout the park, each with its own unique feature that is worth visiting.

Back to Nature in the Rockies - Old Faithful

For many of us, everyday life can get tiresome and tedious. But now that it’s summer, it’s the perfect time to visit the Rocky Mountains and witness nature at its best. For more ideas about how to get back to nature in the Rockies, check out the “Eastern Idaho/Yellowstone National Park – adventure awaits!” leaf and more like it by downloading the LeafCanoe app.

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Thailand off the beaten path

Exploring Thailand Off the Beaten Path

The country of Thailand is known for its exotic beaches, delicious food, and thriving culture. Located in the center of the Southeast Asian peninsula, Thailand boasts a booming economy and attracts over 20 million tourists a year. In 2013, Thailand was among the top ten most visited countries, and one of only two Asian countries to have made that list. Tourism to Thailand makes up approximately 6% of the country’s economy. Clearly, Thailand is a popular travel destination, and the success of the country’s tourism industry has only made it easier for tourists to visit Thailand. But there is more to the country than beaches and food. Taking a moment to explore Thailand off the beaten path can open up a whole new side to what the Thai affectionately call “the land of a thousand smiles.”

Thailand off the beaten path
LeafCanoer cmlenny recently posted a leaf about Thailand called “Thailand in 10 Days.” Within the leaf are plenty of suggestions for seeing Thailand off the beaten path. Below are highlights from that leaf. A guide, so to speak, to experiencing a new side of Thailand.

Try the local street food
The best way to learn about a country is to try the local food. Thailand is known to have some of the best street food in the world. From cool fresh fruit to a hot steaming bowl of soup, Thailand’s street food is sure to surprise your senses and taste buds. A word of caution about street food, however. Always make sure your food is clean, and if ordering cooked food, make sure it is served piping hot.

Thailand off the beaten path

Go shopping at night
The seasoned traveler will tell you, one of the best ways to experience the local side of a country is to visit its markets. The Night Bazaar in the city of Chiang Mai is one such market worth visiting. Located near the Ping River, the Night Bazaar is known for selling handicrafts, jewelry, toys and artwork. If shopping at night is not your thing, you can easily check out the daytime markets, especially the floating markets just outside of Bangkok. The most popular floating markets are Khlong Lat Mayom, Damnoen, and Amphawa, all located around the city of Bangkok.

Engage in local beauty customs
One of the popular trends in Thai beauty as of late are fish pedicures. For a small fee, you can dunk your feet in a pool or tub filled with tiny fish. These fish feed off the dead skin on your feet, and after a long soak, you are left with smooth feet, and a feeling of refreshment and relaxation.

Thailand off the beaten path

Seek out the hot springs
Thailand has a number of national parks worth exploring and visiting. Within many of these parks are hot springs, which have become quite popular among the tourist set. After a long day of exploring, a dip in the hot springs is a well deserved reward for the weary traveler.

Meet an elephant
Getting to know the locals can extend beyond just getting to know the people. Animals are also worth getting to know. For a personal meet and greet with elephants, you can head out to the Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand. Here, visitors can see an elephant up close and personal, touching it and feeding it, while at the same time learning all about what goes into taking care of an elephant.

Thailand off the beaten path
With so many activities to choose from, it’s hard to pick one that really exemplifies Thailand off the beaten path. In actuality, the best way to explore a new country like Thailand is simply to get out into the country and try new things. In the end, these experiences are what will make your trip memorable and worthwhile.

For more ideas of travel and to read what other LeafCanoers have to say, download the LeafCanoe app.

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