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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Out of the Box Travels: Explore Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu looms above the Sacred Valley in Peru, a sprawling collection of stone structures, shrouded by mist, and blending harmoniously with the surrounding mountain ridge. Frequently, though inaccurately, described as “The Lost City of the Incas,” Machu Picchu is a favorite among travelers to Peru. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the country just to explore Machu Picchu. LeafCanoer, daijie, recently shared her travels to Machu Picchu in her leaf, “Visit Machu Picchu.” Like many travelers before, daijie spent her time exploring the various areas of this ancient and unique Inca site.

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The citadel of Machu Picchu was built in 1450, presumably as an estate for the Inca emperor, Pachacuti. Using classical Inca style architecture, Machu Picchu consists of structures and buildings made with polished dry-stone walls. The grounds, which sits over 8,000 feet above sea level, is divided into an agricultural area, comprised of terraces, and the urban section, used for administrative purposes. The structures were linked to the rest of the Inca Empire via a road called Qhapaq Nan.

Long overlooked (or unknown) by non-Peruvians, Machu Picchu gained prominence in the early 1900’s through the works of American historian, Hiram Bingham. By 1981, Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary, and in 1983, it joined the ranks of The Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, and the Acropolis of Athens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the outer buildings of Machu Picchu have been reconstructed, with over 30% of the buildings having received some form of restoration prior to it being accepted as a World Heritage Site.

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These days, Machu Picchu is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. It is now one of Peru’s major revenue generators, though it still has managed to retain a certain level of adventure and a rustic feel. For those considering paying a visit to Machu Picchu, here are highlights of places to visit, to get you on your way to explore Machu Picchu:

Visit the Sun Gate
In Inca times, the Sun Gate was used to mark the entrance to Machu Picchu. These days, it serves as a starting off point for exploring the ancient citadel.

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Walk through the Sacred Plaza
One of the most famous parts of Machu Picchu, and undoubtedly one of the most photographed, the Sacred Plaza comprises of three buildings: the Main Temple, the Temple of Three Windows, and the Priest’s House.

Explore the Royal Tomb
Thought to be the final resting place of many Inca leaders, the Royal Tomb boasts some of the best masonry in Machu Picchu.

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Marvel at the Temple of the Sun
The Temple of the Sun is a semi-circular building, the only one of its kind at Machu Picchu, that consists of a large stone altar used for spiritual worship and sacrifice.

Hike along the lower or upper routes
Hiking is by far one of the most popular activities to do at Machu Picchu. There are two main trails to choose from, the lower route and the upper route, and both offer you a nice challenge while you explore Machu Picchu at your own pace.

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Cross the Inca Bridge
Located just 15 minutes away from Machu Picchu is the Inca Draw Bridge, which goes along the original Inca Trail. Though the structure itself is fairly simple and uninteresting, the best part about visiting the draw bridge is the fantastic view of the Andean mountains.

Take in the views at the Guardhouse
Another great place to take in views is at the Guardhouse, which offers panoramic views of all of Machu Picchu.

Whether you are visiting Machu Picchu for one day, or returning for multiple days of excursions, there is just so much to see at Machu Picchu for visitors of all styles and interests. For those of you ready to explore Machu Picchu, check out more of daijie’s leaf on LeafCanoe.

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You can also check out the other leaves on LeafCanoe by downloading the LeafCanoe app.

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Unconventional Travels At Wieliczka Salt Mine

Contrary to what most people may think, travel doesn’t always have to mean seeing popular attractions, visiting monuments, or going to the often-visited tourist attractions. One of the fun things about travel is doing unconventional experiences and seeing a new part of the world. The Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland is one such place, where visitors can actively engage in learning about history and geology. Leafcanoer, ladyd, recently visited Wieliczka, and posted about her travels in her leaf, “Miner’s Route – ‘Wieliczka’ Salt Mine“.

The salt mines at Wieliczka, located near the city of Kraków, is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical importance to Poland. Built in the 13th century, the mine produced table salt continuously for commercial purposes until its official closurwe in 2007. According to the World Heritage Convention, the salt mine illustrates the development of mining techniques in Europe, from early methods used in the 13th century, to more modern techniques used in the 21st century.

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Reaching a depth of over 1,073 feet, and stretching over 178 miles long, Wieliczka salt mine is certainly one of the larger mines in Europe. The salt in the mine has an appearance resembling granite, having a grayish shade, rather than the typical white color of salt. There is also an underground lake within the mine, which is somewhat unique and worth exploring.

The salt mines were not always used for mining purposes. During World War II, German soldiers used the shafts for war-related activities. In more recent times, the salt mine houses a private rehabilitation and wellness complex. Of course, the mine is also open for tourists to come and visit.

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Wieliczka salt mine is known as the “Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland.” Many of the salt mine’s subterranean chambers have been converted into galleries and underground chapels. Additionally, workshops and storehouses have also been built, along with statues made from salt. Many of the earlier statues were carved by the miners themselves, but more recent statues have been carved by contemporary artists and sculptors. One of the galleries has a highly detailed and ornate chandelier, made from the rock salt which has been dissolved and reconstituted to create a clear and glass-like appearance.

Since the 19th century, tourists can visit the mine and take an underground tour of its subterranean chambers. On these tours, visitors are given a glimpse of what mining life is like. They can observe the social and religious traditions of the miners, and learn about the tools, machinery, and technology used at that time period to mine salt. This tour, though, is more than just an observational tour. It’s also an interactive one. Visitors have a chance to dig and transport salt, explore some of the underground chambers, and measure the concentration of methane underground. Visitors are also provided mining uniforms to wear, and are given a chance to roll up their sleeves and work in the mine. In a sense, they get to walk in the shoes of a miner and experience a day in their life.

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This type of travel, though unique and unconventional, can sometimes be the best type of travel, as it gives the traveler a chance to see life from a different perspective. Often, people travel to places to see a famous monument or a landmark, but at the salt mine in Wieliczka, it’s a chance to step into a piece of history. Poland is full of interesting and amazing sights, and the Wielceska Salt Mine is one such sights worth visiting.

For more ideas of where to visit in Poland and in other parts of the world, check out and download the LeafCanoe app.

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