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Dare to Explore! Six Extreme Travel Destinations

For those who follow travel, extreme travel is fast becoming one of the most popular travel trends in recent years. As people are becoming more exposed to the world around them, there is a growing need for travelers to seek out the undiscovered places or test their limits.

extreme travel

We at LeafCanoe are all about seeking out and sharing unique travel experiences. For us, extreme travel fits the bill for an experience that is unique and worthy of sharing. Here are our picks for extreme travel destinations.

Petra
This ancient city in Jordan is high on the list of places to visit for many adventurous travelers. Characterized by its buildings carved directly into the sandstone rock, Petra personifies the idea of extreme with its location in the desert, with rugged canyons and mountains. Petra is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site, and is a great destination for travel buffs. For more ideas about what to see in Petra, check out the leaf, “Petra,” by LeafCanoer, grassrootsnomad. You can also read our blog post about Petra, called “Six Reasons to Visit the Ancient City of Petra.”

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Antarctica
Nothing can be more extreme than the South Pole. With temperatures that can drop down to -80 degrees Celsius, and no indigenous cultures that exist in the area, Antarctica can be quite the difficult place to be. Yet, despite the hardships, people still visit Antarctica, fueled by their desire to witness nature at its most extreme. For those wanting to visit Antarctica, the best option is to go through one of the many cruise companies that travel there. But travelers, be warned! These cruises do not come cheap, with prices ranging from $3,000 for budget cruises, to upwards of $20,000 and beyond for luxury ones.

extreme travel

Iguazu Falls
For another taste of nature at its extreme, visit Iguazu Falls, the world’s largest waterfalls, located in South America. Iguazu Falls is part of the Iguazu River, which forms a border between Argentina and Brazil. The falls are approximately 2.7km in length. A number of little islands dot the edge of the falls, which help to form smaller separate falls and cataracts. The falls are accessible by either going through Brazil or Argentina.

extreme travel

Machu Picchu 
If you’re in the mood for some adventurous hiking, set your sights on Machu Picchu. Located in the mountains of Chile, a visit to this ancient Incan city is a great way to test your endurance and strength. Many of the buildings at Machu Picchu no longer stand, but there are plenty of the ruins to explore. For ideas on what to do in Machu Picchu, check out LeafCanoer, daijie’s leaf, “Visit Machu Picchu.” You can also look at our blog post on Machu Picchu, titled “Out of the Box Travels: Explore Machu Picchu.”

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The Himalayas
These mountains, spanning across India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, and Pakistan, are a great starting off point to exploring the region. Many visitors come to the Himalayas to climb its peaks, the most popular of which is named Mount Everest. But the sheer beauty of the landscape is worth explore on its own, despite its close proximity to Mount Everest.

extreme travel

El Capitan
For the avid climber, El Capitan is the ultimate test of your climbing skills. Essentially a veritcal piece of rock, El Capitan is one of the most challenging mountains to climb, and few climbers have been able to complete it. The mountain, which rises almost 1km from the ground, is located in Yosemite National Park in California, and is visited by dozens of tourists each year.

extreme travel

Although extreme travel has been gaining in popularity and interest, it is more than just staying on top of the latest travel trend. For many, extreme travel is a way of life. It has the potential to shape who you are, and can help make your travel more meaningful and enriching.

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Five Ultimate Mountain Town Retreats in America

For those who live in the city, the mountains offer the perfect place to take a retreat. Out among the hills, you can fully take in nature with a hike, a bike ride, or even a climb. Fortunately for the mountain lover, the United States has a number of beautiful mountains and mountain ranges, from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachian Mountains. These places are perfect for the ultimate mountain town retreat.

mountain town retreats

Leafcanoer, Kim Fish, recently posted about her visit to Gatlinburg, TN in the leaf titled, “Gatlinburg: The Gateway to the Smokey Mountains.” It’s full of interesting tid bits about the area, as well as tips and tricks related to travel in Gatlinburg.

If you are looking for a place to spend a mountain retreat, we’ve compiled a list of five of the ultimate mountain town retreats in the United States.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee
The town of Gatlinburg is undoubtedly the quintessential American mountain town. Located 39 miles southeast of Knoxville, the town is a common starting off point for a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains. Gatlinburg has a number of popular attraction including a Ripley’s museum, as well as Dolly Parton’s Dollywood, located near the town.

mountain town retreats

Taos, New Mexico
In the heart of the New Mexican desert is a mountain town like no other. The mountain town of Taos offers a beautiful setting and a thriving community for artists. Near the modern town of Taos is a traditional Native American Pueblo that has been occupied for over a thousand years. Visitors can come to Taos Pueblo and learn about traditional Native American culture, as well as catch a glimpse of how life is like in a pueblo.

mountain town retreats

Estes Park, Colorado
Colorado in general is an excellent place to spend a mountain retreat. But the town of Estes Park is by far the most beautiful and most popular among visitors to the Rocky Mountains. One of the highlights of the Estes Park is the historic Stanley Hotel, which offers panoramic views of Lake Estes, and was also the location for the famous horror movie, The Shining.

mountain town retreats

Stowe, Vermont
The town of Stowe offers a number of picturesque views. In addition, it is a popular spot for arts and craft shows, festivals, and car shows such as the British Invasion, a showcase of British cars held annually in the month of September. Stowe is a known for its skiing, and some of the points of interest in the town include the Trapp Family Lodge, owned by the famous von Trapp family, and the Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum.

mountain town retreats

Leavenworth, Washington
For a quirky mountain town experience, head to Leavenworth, a mountain town with a decidedly Bavarian feel. The town of Leavenworth was officially incorporated in 1906, but it wasn’t until 1962 that members of the community decided to give the town a Bavarian theme. Since then, many of the buildings have been remodeled to resemble a German town in the Alps, and Leavenworth now hosts an annual Oktoberfest celebration. It’s also home to the Nutcracker Museum, which holds a large collection of nutcrackers. The perfect time to visit Leavenworth is actually in the winter, when the whole town is decked out in holiday decorations.

mountain town retreats

No matter where you are in the world, sometimes it’s nice to take a retreat into the mountains to reconnect with nature. In mythology, mountains symbolize strength and stability, and spending time in the mountains can certainly help you channel your own strength and stability. With these five ultimate mountain town retreats, the mountain experience is now well within your reach.

Looking to discover your own perfect mountain town retreat? Download the LeafCanoe app for more travel ideas and inspiration.

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Something for Everyone in Beautiful Bali

Even before it was made famous by Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Eat, Pray, Love, beautiful Bali had always held a special allure to travelers. This tiny island in Indonesia is full of natural beauty and welcoming charm. Known as the island of the gods, Bali is a popular spot for surfers chasing after the perfect wave, luxury travelers looking for the perfect beach resort, and even artists seeking out the perfect creative retreat. No matter what type of traveler you are, there is something for everyone in beautiful Bali.

Beautiful Bali

LeafCanoer, ladyd, recently shared her tips on Bali in her leaf, “Bali Miracles.” Highlights of her leaf include exploring rice paddies in Ubud, visiting the island’s many temples, and sampling the local seafood in Jimbaran. Bali is a great choice for any type of traveler.

The Luxury Traveler
Luxurious beach resorts line the coasts of Bali, where white sands are as common as the motorcycles that zoom along the roads or the Bintang beers that are served at the restaurants. In Bali, luxury travelers can have their pick of resorts, including brand names like Four Seasons, Marriot, Westin, and Sheraton. In addition to the abundance of resorts, there is also an abundance of shopping opportunities in Bali, from the brand name stores around Kuta Square, to the famous goldsmiths and silversmiths in Celuk Village.

Beautiful Bali

The Budget Traveler
On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re the type of traveler who wants to minimize spending, there are plenty of cheap lodging and eating options for you. Indonesia’s currency, the rupiah, is relatively weak compared to the dollar, which makes the cost of living in the country quite inexpensive. Guest houses are a popular accommodation option for budget travelers, but there are also cheap hotels and hostels that you can choose from. As for food, you’ll find that places that serve local cuisine will be much cheaper than those that serve Western style food.

Beautiful Bali

The Adventure Traveler
The island of Bali is full of natural wonders, and as such, there is a plethora of outdoor activities available for the adventurous traveler. Since the 70’s, Bali has been known as one of the surfing capitals of the world. Besides surfing, there are plenty of other water activities to choose from, including snorkeling and scuba diving. On land, adventure travelers can take their pick from hiking, biking, and exploring the island’s many volcanoes and caves. After a long day of adventuring, you can also take some time to unwind at any of the yoga retreats that can be found throughout the island.

Beautiful Bali

The Cultural Traveler
Bali is a unique oasis of Hinduism in a country that is predominantly Muslim. Balinese culture centers around music, dance, and temple worship. Travelers who love learning about local culture will enjoy visiting the many temples that dot the island and are used on a daily basis by the Balinese. There are also plenty of opportunities to catch a dance performance or a shadow puppet show. These shows are often accompanied by a percussion ensemble known as a gamelan. The city of Ubud is known as the cultural center of Bali, and is a must-see for anyone who really wants to get to know the culture of Bali.

Beautiful Bali

The Family Traveler
Bali is not just a place for adults. There are plenty of activities geared towards kids throughout the island. In the Kuta area, the new water park, Waterbom, is a popular place for families who come to visit Bali. Many of the tourist activities in Bali are kid-friendly, and the hotels on the island are actually quite accommodating to traveling families. Kids especially love visiting the Monkey Forest in Ubud. There is also the Bali Safari and Marine Park, that includes both a safari and an aquarium, and the Bali Tree Top, which features zip line circuits for all ages.

Beautiful Bali

No matter what your travel style is, Bali is the ideal place to spend your next island vacation. There is truly something for everyone in Bali.

To see more of ladyd’s leaf about beautiful Bali, or to read up on other tropical destinations, download the LeafCanoe app.

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The Best Way to Experience Cappadocia

The region of Cappadocia in the country of Turkey is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and intriguing places to visit in the world. It is an area rich with cultural history, and a stunning landscape to beat. Yet it is also slightly off the beaten path, and falls largely under the radar for the average tourist. For those looking for a bit of adventure in their travels, there are a number of ways to experience Cappadocia, and see all that Turkey has to offer.

Leafcanoer, girlxdeparture, recently shared her experiences in Cappadocia in her leaf entitled, Things to do in Cappadocia, Turkey. Her leaf is full of tips and suggestions on things to do while visiting Cappadocia. For those planning a visit to the area in the near future, here is our suggestion for the best way to experience Cappadocia.

experience Cappadocia

With its tall rock formations, often called fairy chimneys, Cappadocia offers travelers a surreal landscape to enjoy. Many of these rock formations were created by volcanic eruption, formed and shaped after millions of years of erosion. The region, located on a high plateau in central Turkey, has a number of cones, pillars, pinnacles, and chimneys reaching as high as 130 meters. Trekking and climbing are popular activities in Cappadocia, and there are a number of companies that offer walking tours and climbing excursions in the area.

experience Cappadocia

In addition to being a geological wonder, the area is also a historical one, with traces of settlements going as far back as several millennium ago. Many of these early inhabitants carved tunnels and caves directly into the rock. Often these caves served as hiding places for political and religious refugees, since Cappadocia sat in the middle of two opposing empires: first the Greeks and Persians, and later, the Byzantine Empire and their rivals. In the early days of Christianity, Cappadocia served as a refuge for Christians, and many monasteries were established in these caves. These days, Cappadocia is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and travelers can visit some of these well-preserved caves to learn about the history of the area.

experience Cappadocia

The major towns and areas to visit in Cappadocia include Urgup, Goreme, Ihlara Valley, Selime, Guzelyurt, Uchisar, Avanos, and Zelve. Many visitors enjoy seeing the historic mansions and cave houses in Urgup, Goreme, Guzelyurt, and Uchisar. Also in Goreme is the Goreme Open Air Museum, which showcases the monastic communities of Cappadocia. This museum allows visitors to see more than 30 churches and chapels carved from the rock formations. Many of these churches have frescoes dating back to the 9th and 11th centuries. Even if you’re not a history buff, it’s worth exploring for the sheer uniqueness of the experience.

experience Cappadocia

Being on the ground to experience the geography and history of Cappadocia is nice, but by far the best way to experience Cappadocia is from the air. From up high, you can really appreciate the otherworldly scenery, and see the influence of humankind’s touch on this natural landscape. Hot air ballooning is a popular activity in Cappadocia, and most of the companies that offer hot air balloon tours center around the town of Goreme. The best time of year to go is from April to October, when the weather is clear and not too cold. However, there are some hot air balloon companies that offer rides during the winter.

experience Cappadocia

If you’re the kind of traveler who is up for adventure, Cappadocia is the perfect place. It offers a good balance of nature and history, while still being a beautiful place to be in. For more ideas of ways to experience Cappadocia, or to find out other places to visit in the world, download the LeafCanoe app.

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Six Things to Do When You Visit Maui

Maui is a traveler’s paradise. The second largest island in Hawaii, Maui is packed with stunning views and beautiful landscapes. The island is visited by over two million visitors a year, who come for the mildly temperate year-round weather. With the climate and the scenery, Maui is a perfect spot for travelers to visit any time of year.

visit Maui

LeafCanoer, sociakathy, recently visited Maui, and shared her experiences visiting the island in her leaf entitled, “Maui’s Must See List.” Taking a cue from sociokathy’s leaf, here are six things you must do when you visit Maui.

Buy Local
Hawaiian culture is very different from the culture of the mainland, and nowhere can you see it more than in the local arts and foods. Maui is a great place to buy local Hawaiian crafts and goods. Small towns, like Paia, have a number of boutiques and shops selling local artisan goods, and are a great place to experience local arts scene.

visit Maui

Take in a Sunrise
Being an island, Maui has several great places to take in a sunrise. A popular place to observe the sunrise is Haleakala Crater. At its peak, there is an enclosed gazebo that offers a stunning view of the sunrise. There are plenty of options to get to the peak: whether on foot, by car, or by bike. Any way you choose, the outcome is something that is both breathtaking and memorable.

visit Maui

Ride the Waves
Maui, like the rest of Hawaii, is known for its surfing. There are plenty excellent surf spots around the island. One of which is near the small town of Haiku, which boasts some amazing surfing, as well as great beaches to hang out at. If you’re more interested in observing surfing, rather than engaging in it, you can go to Honolua Bay, one of the more popular surf spots on the island, to check out local and visiting surfers in action.

visit Maui

Explore the Local Flora
Hawaii is home to a diverse array of local plants and flowers. A common place to observe local flora is to visit the Ali’i Kula Lavender Farm. Situated in the uplands of Maui, the Lavender Farm offers a hidden gem, an oasis of flowers and plants. If you’re in the mood for exploration, and interested in learning more about the local environment, this is a great place to start.

visit Maui

Go on a Hike
The great thing about Hawaii is its abundance of outdoor activities. There are a number of national and state parks in Maui that offers plenty of trails for hiking. One of the most popular parks in Hawaii for hiking is ‘Iao State Park. Another popular trail for hiking is Twin Falls, which offers views of waterfalls, as well as several swimming holes. Leafcanoer, sociokathy, recommends Haleakala National Park, which includes a peaceful and secluded bamboo forest.

visit Maui

Take a Scenic Drive
Maui doesn’t have many major roads, but the roads that are there offer some fantastic views of the ocean and the scenery. A popular scenic drive is along Hana Highway, which winds past waterfalls, beaches, ocean views, and panoramic vistas. Another popular drive is along Kahekili Highway. This road takes you along hairpin turns, past roadside fruit stalls and along awe-inspiring vistas. It’s worth taking a day to drive along one of these roads to enjoy the scenery.

visit Maui

Maui is a wonderful place to visit, with its beautiful natural landscape and abundance of outdoor activities. For the nature enthusiast, Maui is a virtual playground of things to do. Or even if you just enjoy relaxing on the beach, Maui offers plenty of relaxing beaches and surf spots. This list is just a start for your next visit to Maui.

For more ideas of what to do when you visit Maui, check out more of sociokathy’s leaf. Or you can download the LeafCanoe app to explore other places to visit around the world.

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Five Beautiful Reasons to Visit Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is a land of enchantment. The name alone conjures up images of fancy resorts, stunning desert landscapes, and mythical stories. The capital and second most populous city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi sits along the coast of UAE, with several of its islands jutting out into the Persian Gulf.

With a population of over 1.5 million people, and a cultural center that’s teeming with activities and attractions, Abu Dhabi is a growing and expanding metropolis. It is a popular tourist destination as well, with upwards of 3.5 million tourists visiting its shores each year. People who come to visit Abu Dhabi come for the glamour, the culture, and the scenery of the city.

visit Abu Dhabi

But travel to Abu Dhabi need not be restricted to the high end variety. There are plenty of things to do in the city that doesn’t require a lot of money. In the leaf titled, “Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque,” LeafCanoer, nitabulati, shared one of their favorite places to visit in Abu Dhabi.  In addition to the mosque, there are dozens of other affordable attractions for travelers to see as well.

Whether you are a budget traveler or a luxury traveler, here are five beautiful reasons to visit Abu Dhabi.

visit Abu Dhabi

The sunsets
The desert sun burns hot during the day. But as evening falls, the night time coolness brings a welcome respite to the desert heat. Since the city of Abu Dhabi faces west into the Persian Gulf, sunsets in the city are a spectacular sight. There are several companies that offer sunset cruises, but if you are not interested in spending money, you can simply walk along the Corniche, a long coastal road in Abu Dhabi, to observe the beautiful sunsets.

visit Abu Dhabi

The water
A perk of Abu Dhabi being a coastal town is its close proximity to water and beaches. Some of the best beaches in Abu Dhabi include Yas Beach, the beach at the Ritz-Carlton, and Saadiyat Public Beach. In terms of water sports, travelers to Abu Dhabi can enjoy jet-skiing, kayaking, fishing, kite surfing, and paddle boarding, and essentially every kind of water sport imaginable.

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The architecture
Abu Dhabi’s splendid architecture ranges from traditionally inspired designs to more modern and avant-garde concepts. Traditional architecture in Abu Dhabi was heavily influenced by the tribal groups that originally inhabited the land. These structures were simple in design and material, but were greatly suited for the hot and arid climate. As the country experienced a boom in its economy due to oil, traditional architecture soon was replaced by sleek sky scrapers and buildings with more modern designs. These days, some of the most popular buildings to admire are the Sun and Sky Towers on Reem Island and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Building.

visit Abu Dhabi

Etihad Towers
Another example of Abu Dhabi’s more modern architecture are the Etihad Towers. Consisting of five uniquely designed buildings of varying heights, the Etihad Towers are a collection of office spaces, apartments, and a hotel. One of the buildings, Tower 2, is the second tallest building in Abu Dhabi, and features an observation deck that lets visitors see stunning views of the city and water.

visit Abu Dhabi

Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque
The Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is a popular place to visit among travelers, and is also a great example of Abu Dhabi’s beautiful architecture. Completed in 2007, the mosque is the largest in Abu Dhabi and features more than 1,000 columns, 82 domes, and chandeliers gilded with 24 karat gold. With its grand architectural design, it is a place that is both spiritual and opulent. Yet, thousands of worshipers come to the mosque every day, and the mosque is a space of spiritual importance to the people of Abu Dhabi.

There are a number of reasons to visit Abu Dhabi. The above listed are just a few. For more information on Abu Dhabi, or to get inspiration for other places to travel, download the LeafCanoe app.

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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.

discover Belize

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.

discover Belize

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.

discover Belize

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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Why You Need to Visit the Canadian Rockies

Experiencing the great outdoors is something that can be enjoyed any time of year. In spite of the cold winter months, a visit to a place like the Canadian Rockies can be jam-packed with outdoor activities. LeafCanoer, sociokathy’s leaf, “Canadian Rockies Summer Guide,” talks about the many things visitors can do when visiting the Canadian Rockies in the summer. But even in the dead of winter, there are plenty of other reasons to visit the Canadian Rockies.

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Natural Wonders
Majestic snow-peaked mountains dominate the scenery of the Canadian Rockies. Accentuated by bright blue lakes and lush evergreens, this mountain range, running from the Canadian prairies to the Pacific Coast, boasts stunning scenery all year round. The Canadian Rockies’ mountains impress all those who come to visit. From high peaks like Mount Robson and Mount Columbia, to smaller ones like the Snow Dome, these mountains certainly stand tall along the Canadian Rockies’ skyline. Aside from mountains, the Canadian Rockies also serves as the source of many rivers including the Fraser, the Columbia, The North Saskatchewan, the Bow, and the Athabasca Rivers.

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National Parks
The Canadian Rockies consist of five national parks: Jasper, Banff, Kootenay, Yoho, and Waterton. All five of these parks were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984 due to its mountain landscapes. Additionally, they all offer a wide range of activities year-round for visitors of all types.

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Outdoor Activities
For the outdoor enthusiast, the Canadian Rockies is a dream come true. In the summer months, visitors can raft the white water rapids of rivers like the Sunwapta and Athabasca Rivers. Alternatively, visitors can stick to dry land activities like rock climbing or hiking. In the winter months, places like Banff National Park offers back country skiing. And if you are of the more adventurous sort, you can try your hand at mountaineering, or even ice climbing.

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Festivals Galore
An abundance of events and festivals fill the calendar for the Canadian Rockies. Winterstart Festival kicks off the season with events in Banff and Lake Louise, running from mid-November to mid-December. Other winter festivals in the Canadian Rockies include Jasper in January, happening in mid to late January in Jasper, and the Winter Magic Festival, happening in the town of Hinton, Alberta in the month of February. The highlight of the spring season is the Canmore Uncorked Food and Drink Festival, a new culinary festival in the town of Canmore. The summer months, on the other hand, are packed with events and festivals, including Performance in the Park at Banff, the Wild Mountain Music Festival in Hinton, and the Canadian Death Race, a challenging adventure race taking place in August in Grande Cache, Alberta.

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Retreat from Urban Living
City life has its perks, but sometimes you need to get away and disconnect. For those who visit the Canadian Rockies, it’s more than just an opportunity to be close to nature, it’s also a retreat from the pressures of urban living. A peaceful hike among the trees, or soaking in the beauty of nature on the banks of Lake Louise can help bring you more perspective on what’s important in life.

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Fulfilling A Challenge
For many who come to the Canadian Rockies, a visit there is also a chance to fulfill a challenge. Whether it involves climbing some of the highest peaks, like Mount Robson, tackling the rapids on the Kicking Horse River, or backcountry camping at Banff National Park, there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to challenge themselves and test their limits.

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From hiking to mountain biking, skiing to whitewater rafting, there is always something to do when you visit the Canadian Rockies, no matter what time of year. For more ideas on travel to Canada and to other destinations, download the LeafCanoe app.

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Eight Reasons to Road Trip Through Oman

Few countries can spark the imagination much like Oman. Located on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman is a land of vast deserts and beautiful beaches. It’s also full of friendly towns and lush oases. Leafcanoer, blogfromtheblue, recently posted about their travels to Oman in the leaf, “A scenic drive along the coastal road from Muscat to Sur.” As any visitor to Oman can attest, one of the best ways to see the country is by car. Here are eight reasons why you should road trip through Oman.

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The coastal scenery
Oman’s coastline stretches across over three thousand kilometers of beaches and rocky shores. There are a handful of beaches to visit and take in the scenery. Al Bustan Beach, located in Muscat, overlooks the mountains, while Dhofar beach has a number of lagoons filled with flamingos.

Al Mazara

The surreal landscape
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Oman is also home to the largest expanse of desert in the Arabian Peninsula. This desert is known as “The Empty Quarter,” and stretches out over more than 400,000 kilometers of land. Other notable areas of desert include A’Sharqiyah Sands, as well as Ramlat Tawq, an area filled with beautiful sand dunes.

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The wadis
Scattered throughout Oman are small oases, known as wadi in Arabic. These areas consist of small patches of greenery surrounding fresh water. Driving through Oman, you are sure to come across a wadi during your travels. Wadis worth visiting are Wadi Shab and Wadi Tiwi, located near Muscat. Another wadi to visit is Bimmah Sinkhole, which is connected to the sea through an underground tunnel.

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The towns
From the capital of Muscat, to the southern city of Salalah, taking a road trip through Oman lets you explore the vast diversity of towns throughout the country. The bustling city of Muscat is filled with white buildings, palm trees, and well-tended gardens. The coastal town of Sur, on the otherhand, has a more laid back beach town vibe.

Sur

The camping
One thing to keep in mind when embarking on a road trip through Oman is having a place to rest your head for the night. Aside from nature reserves, private establishments, and military bases, it’s easy to camp anywhere along the road. If you are interested in more specific camping areas, one such place is the A’Sharqiyah Sands, which stretches out over tenthousand kilometers, and is known to be one of the most beautiful camping areas in Oman.

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The people
Unlike traveling through a country by plane, taking a road trip through a country really gives you a closer glimpse of the people of that country. The majority of Omanis are of Arab descent, but there is also a large South Asian as well as African population within Oman.

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The pace of travel
Traveling across a country by car forces you to slow down the pace. Rather than jetting from one city to another, you can take your time and enjoy the places that you come across on your travels. This gives you a chance to get to know the tribal culture of Oman, as well as its rich maritime history.

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The lure of the open road
Oman’s roads have gone through a number of renovations the past few years. Many of the country’s roads are paved, which makes it easier for cars to traverse through the area and explore. Many travelers to Oman opt to road trip through the country, so you will undoubtedly be in good company.

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Whether you are taking a short jaunt from Muscat to Sur, or traversing through the whole coast of Oman, there are plenty of reasons to take a road trip through Oman. To get you started on your own road trip, download the LeafCanoe app and check out blogfromtheblue’s leaf.

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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.

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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.

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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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