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GLOBEROVERS

The magazine for the intrepid traveller Volume 2 · Number 2 · December 2014

www.globerovers-magazine.com

Special Edition: 50 Incredible Destinations

Special Edition

50 Incredible Destinations The intrepid traveller’s essential list of must-do destinations in 2015

Bolivia - Salt lakes and wildlife of Uyuni Ecuador - Fearless animals of Galapagos Islands Svalbard - Dog sledding near the North Pole Nepal - Trekking to Mount Everest basecamp Papua New Guinea - Goroka Sing-Sing Festival VOL. 2 · NO. 2 December 2014

Greenland - Inuit settlement at Kulusuk Kyrgyzstan - Jailoos and glacial lakes Afghanistan - Remote mountain villages Yemen - Time stands still at “Manhattan of the desert” ... and 41 other destinations ranked on 10 criteria

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Globerovers is published in Hong Kong by Globerovers Productions. Printed in USA Copyright Š All Rights Reserved

More information at www.globerovers-magazine.com www.facebook.com/globerovers contact@globerovers.com


VOL. 2 · NO. 2, December 2014

Journal of Globerovers Productions · GR

Globerovers Special Edition

50 Incredible Destinations

It is tough to decide which destinations to visit when time and money are limited. It is an even tougher task to make a list of the fifty most incredible destinations when there are so many amazing places around the world to choose from. Personally experienced, and systematically evaluated by our Globerovers Editor-in-Chief, this list focuses on some off the beaten track destinations for the intrepid traveller. Some cities such as Warsaw strangely made it to the list not because the city is high on the intrepid index, but purely because it is just incredible.

ARTICLES

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ARTICLES

Salar de Uyuni & Vicinity, BOLIVIA Galápagos Islands, ECUADOR Dog Sledding, SVALBARD Himalayas and Mnt. Everest, NEPAL Goifulhafehendhu Atoll, MALDIVES Perito Moreno Glacier, ARGENTINA Machu Picchu Ruins, PERU Jailoos & Glacial Lakes, KYRGYZSTAN Temples of Bagan, MYANMAR Wadi Rum & Petra City, JORDAN Okinawa’s Zamami Beach, JAPAN Kazbegi Mountain Village, GEORGIA Kīlauea Volcano, HAWAII, USA Kulusuk Village, GREENLAND Shibam Hadhramaut, YEMEN Tikal Mayan Ruins, GUATEMALA Corcovado National Park, COSTA RICA Ancient Monasteries, ARMENIA Glaciers and Ice-Caps, ICELAND Kaluts of the Desert, IRAN The Golden Ring, RUSSIA Kerala Backwaters, INDIA Minapin Glacier, PAKISTAN Drepung Monastery, TIBET Bucovina Monasteries, ROMANIA

Dog Sledding - Svalbard, Gateway to the North Pole.

126 130 134 138 142 146 150 154 160 164 168 172 176 180 184 188 196 200 204 208 212 216 220 224 228

Ancient Khiva City, UZBEKISTAN Angkor Wat Ruins, CAMBODIA Uyghur Livestock Market, CHINA Cartagena de Indias, COLOMBIA Hokkaido Birdlife, JAPAN Bulunkul Village, TAJIKISTAN Glaciers & Icebergs, ALASKA, USA Wildlife, SOUTH AFRICA Ship Breaking Yards, BANGLADESH Ruins of Baalbek, LEBANON Salvador da Bahia, BRAZIL Cave Monastery, MOLDOVA Guanajuato, MEXICO Terra Cotta Warriors, CHINA Fairy Chimneys, TURKEY Top of The World, NORWAY Kotor Fjord, MONTENEGRO Goroka, PAPUA NEW GUINEA Shughnan Village, AFGHANISTAN Sarajevo, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA Islamic Architecture, BORNEO Warsaw Old City, POLAND Dubai & Burj Khalifa, UAE Architectural Masterpieces, MALTA Red City of Dubrovnik, CROATIA

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Editor‛s Message “Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien

John Tolkien (3 Jan 1892 – 2 Sep 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist, university professor, and author of “The Hobbit”, and “Lord of the Rings”.

Dear Readers, This fourth edition of Globerovers Magazine is a Special Edition dedicated to bringing you fifty options of incredible destinations to go and explore! ON THE COVER:

Andean Flamingoes, Laguna Colorado, near Uyuni Salt Flats, Southern Bolivia

Globerovers Magazine

currently is a bi-annual magazine, available in digital and printed formats. We focus on bringing to the intrepid traveller exciting destinations and inspiring photography from around the globe. Published in Hong Kong Printed in U.S.A WHO WE ARE: Editor-in-Chief - Peter Steyn Editorial Consultant - Tsui Chi Ho Graphic Designer - Peter Steyn Photographer & Writer - Peter Steyn Text Editors - For this issue only a few ghost editors who worked late at night! FOLLOW US: www.globerovers-magazine.com www.globerovers.com facebook.com/globerovers twitter.com/globerovers pinterest.com/globerovers CONTACT US: contact@globerovers.com

Each destination was carefully evaluated on ten criteria and awarded a star-rating between one and five. They were then ranked according to their overall evaluation scores. All criteria, except three, carried the same level of importance in calculating the overall score of each destination. The three special criteria that carried a higher level of importance were “Intrepid Index”, “Excitement Level”, and “Extraordinary Level.” So for example, while a particular destination may score relatively low on Safety, Accommodation, and Transportation, if it scored particularly high on any of the three special criteria, its ranking will be boosted. While Syria is a fantastic destination, it was omitted from the list due to its current state of civil war. The situation in Syria is dire and we do not recommend any leisure travel to Syria. While Yemen, Pakistan, and Lebanon are also not particularly safe at the moment, they are included. Take extra care when visiting these, and all destinations, in particular those with low Safety ratings. We recommend travellers to any of the mentioned destinations to monitor the safety situation before visiting and to always take travel warnings seriously. The inclusion of any destination on this list does not signify Globerovers Magazine endorses its safety. Always take the long way home!

Peter Steyn

Editor-in-Chief and Publisher All rights reserved. Reproduction of any part of this magazine is strictly prohibited without the prior written approval of the publisher. The publisher does not take responsibility for any potential inaccurate information herein.

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188

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130 212 200

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1 Salar de Uyuni & Vicinity

BOLIVIA

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

***** *** ***** ***** ****

Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

*** **** *** **** *****

In A Nutshell Salar de Uyuni in southern Bolivia is the world’s largest salt flat and stretches over an area of 10,582 km². The area is elevated at an average of 3,600 m above sea level so hiking at times can be very tiring. This vast salt flat is covered by a few metres of salt crust which contains about 60% of the world’s known lithium reserves. After the rains, usually around January, the area is flooded with water which offers a very different view of the white salt surface. The “Palacio de Sal” salt hotel offers rooms built entirely of salt. A trip through this part of the world should also include the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve which is rich in scenery and includes highly acidic turquoise lakes, snow-capped mountains, natural hot springs along the shores of the lakes, active hot bubbling mud pools, and steam vents. A variety of fauna and flora includes three species of pink South American flamingos (the Chilean, Andean and rare James’s flamingos), 80 other bird species, the Andean fox, llamas, alpacas, and a colony of rabbit-like viscachas hopping around the rocky outcrops. Giant cacti decorates Incahuasi Island (a.k.a. Fish Island).

Getting There and Around Get to the small town of Uyuni via the capital La Paz, to the north. Alternatively, from the Argentina border in the south a long Landrover trip goes through spectacular scenery. Uyuni town lies to the east of the salt flats, has several travel agencies where you can book a vehicle and driver for the 3 to 6 day trip through Salar de Uyuni and the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. Shop around and take recommendations of good drivers from fellow travellers.

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A llama grazes in the fields next to Laguna Ca単apa near Salar de Uyuni while Andean flamingos forage in the brackish waters.

Salar de Uyuni viewed from Isla del Pescado (Fish Island). The rocky outcrop in the middle of the salt lake got its name from the shape of the island. It is covered in gigantic cacti (Trichocereus pasacana) and coral-like structures. 7


Sol de Mañana thermal area is located close to Salar de Uyuni in southwestern Bolivia and extends over 10 km², at an altitude of between 4,800 m to 5,000 m. This is powerful and raw nature!

Laguna Verde is a salt lake that covers an area of 17 km² and is located at the foot of the volcano Licancabur. Due to its high arsenic levels, the water colour varies from turquoise to dark emerald depending on the wind which causes disturbance to mineral sediments on the bottom of the lake.

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Formed by constant strong winds filled with abrasive sand, Árbol de Piedra is a 7 m high “stone tree” that juts precariously out of the altiplano sand dunes of Siloli.

Laguna Cañapa has a surface area of only 1.42 km² but is popular among several species of pink South American flamingo, including the Chilean flamingo, Andean flamingo and rare James’s flamingos.

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Driving across Salar de Uyuni (10,582 km²), the world’s largest salt flats at an altitude of 3,656 m. While dry most of the year, when rain falls in January (up to 70 mm) the flats are flooded with water.

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Galápagos Islands ECUADOR Intrepid Index

Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

***** ***½ ***** ***** **½

Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

***½ ***½ ***½ **** *****

In A Nutshell Located 972 km west of continental Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands is a 2.5 hour flight from Quito city. Pay a US$100 “entry tax” upon arrival and board the bus to the main town of Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz. From here (or back in Quito), book a 10-day boat cruise at one of the local agents and set off for the islands. The better boats accommodate about 10 to 14 people on board. Sail at night to spend the day-time exploring the islands which abound with many native species. What makes the Galápagos so unique is that most animal species have little fear for humans. Some of the most unique animals include the large Galápagos tortoises, marine and land iguanas, lava lizards, Galápagos penguins, blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, magnificent frigatebirds, Sally-lightfoot crabs, and many more. After the long boat cruise, explore the few islands where independent travel is permitted. These include Isla Santa Cruz, Isla Isabela, and Isla de San Cristóbal. Watch out for Sierra Negra, an active large shield volcano at the south eastern end of Isla Isabela which rises to an altitude of 1,124 m.

Getting There and Around While it is possible to arrive from the South American coast via a large pleasure boat, the better way is to take a flight from mainland Ecuador to Puerto Ayora on the Galapagos island of Santa Cruz. Boat cruises around the islands vary from “economy” to “super luxurious “. Choose the type that best fits your lifestyle and your budget. Some islands near Santa Cruz can be visited without a guide. There are ferries between some of these islands.

A marine iguana hides behind his mother’s tail.

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A juvenile magnificent frigatebird sits patiently on the nest waiting for its parents to return with fish. Frigatebirds never land on water and always catch their food in flight, which they often steal from other seabirds.

Swallow-tailed gulls are taking a nap in front of a Galapagos sealion. 13


A land iguana ponders its next move while warming up in the morning sun.

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Sally-lightfoot crabs perform a love dance on the black volcanic rocks.

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The Galรกpagos giant tortoise can weigh over 400 kg and reach a length of up to 1.8 m. Here on the Galรกpagos Islands some of them live for more than 100 years.

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Dog Sledding Svalbard, NORWAY Intrepid Index

Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

***** *** ****½ ***** *

Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

**** ***½ **** **** *****

In A Nutshell If you want to be on top of the world, head up north to the Svalbard Islands, gateway to the North Pole. Other than being a

°wonderworld of snow during the nine winter months, there is ample wildlife, including at least 500 polar bears on the main

islands of Svalbard and another 2,500 in the wider region. The polar night lasts from 26th October to 15th February, so bring your flashlight as you will need it around the clock. Winter is spectacular with the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) dancing in the skies but temperatures can go down to -40°C and lower with the windchill. In summer, when the midnight sun lasts from 20th April until 23rd August, it is bright skies 24 hours a day. There is much less ice and snow so the polar bears congregate around the icy regions of Svalbard. This is the best time of the year to spot the bears, which is best done from a boat. In addition to bear spotting, winter escapades include dog sledding, glacier caving, snowmobiles, and cross-country skiing. Polar bears are a real danger here and going out of town, you should not travel without a guide who must, by law, carry a gun.

Getting There and Around From Norway’s capital, Oslo, a daily flight stops at Tromsø in the far north to pick up a few more adventure travellers. From here it is a 60 minute flight to the small airport outside the village of Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen Island. An airport bus will be waiting and drop you off at your guesthouse. The village is small so walking is the best option for getting around.

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The Noorderlicht is docked on a frozen bay in the east of Svalbard. Arrive by dog sled and stay in a comfortable cabin to enjoy the Dutch hospitality for a night or two. Polar bear sightings from the deck is almost guaranteed.

Along Templefjord towards the east coast of Spitsbergen Island the sea is frozen and a river runs across the frozen sea waters. Carefully cross the river by snow-mobile and continue on to the far east coast in search of polar bears. 19


Dog sleds are used for polar bear spotting. Six harnessed huskies are controlled by the musher (standing) to help with some pedalling and braking, with the passenger in the bucket.

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Photographing in -40째C temperature is challenging. Throw a cup of boiling water in the air and it blows away as flurries. Camera batteries lose all their power in minutes when exposed to this cold.

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4 Himalayas & Mnt. Everest

NEPAL

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

***** ** ****½ ***** ****

Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

** *** *** **** *****

In A Nutshell The trek to Mount Everest basecamp starts at the little village of Lukla (2,850 m) which is a 45 minute scenic flight from the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. From Lukla the path goes through the village of Phakding and then on to Namche Bazar at an elevation of 3,440 m. From here head up to Khumjung (2,850 m) and its famous Thame Monastery where the scenery gets really impressive all the way up to Gokyo Ri (5,357 m) to see sunrise over Mount Everest (8,848 m) directly to the east. From Gokyo Ri hike over the Ngozumpa Glacier, the largest glacier in Nepal. The next village is Dragnag (4,700 m) with a small guesthouse. Next hike over the dangerous Cho La Pass (5,330 m) from where it is non-stop stunning mountain scenery all the way down through Dughla (4,630 m) and up to Lobuche (4,940 m). Get used to the higher altitude and hike further north to Gorak Shep (5,164 m) and then up to Mount Everest basecamp (5,364 m). The way back goes via the beautiful Dingboche village (4,420 m) and then further south to Tengboche (3,867 m). This area offers views of Everest (8,850 m), Nuptse (7,861 m), Lohtse (8,414 m), Taboche (6,367 m), and Ama Dablam (6,858 m). From Tengboche the scenic path descents back to Namche Bazar and further descents into Lukla where your small plane is waiting to lift off from the scary airstrip. Trust you will land safely in Kathmandu.

Getting There and Around Once you get to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, spend a day or two asking fellow travellers if they have a good guide to recommend. Rent high quality equipment and warm clothing (excellent quality available) and fly to Lukla. Do at minimum a 16-day hike. Back to Kathmandu and fly west to Pokhara. From here take a 10 to 15 day hike up to Mount Annapurna. Your guide will look after guesthouse bookings all the way. Be warned: the higher up, the more basic the lodging and food.

Mount Everest (8,850 m) on the left as viewed from between Tengboche and Namche Bazar. 26

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After crossing the massive Ngozumpa Glacier and staying at the small guesthouse at Dragnag (4,700 m), the next morning its time to cross the dangerous Cho La Pass (5,330 m) to Dzonglha (4,830 m) and to Lobuche (4,940 m).

After passing the Cho La Pass (5,330 m), stay in the guesthouse at Dzonglha (4,830 m) before ascending through the Lobuche Pass (5,110 m) to Gorak Shep (5,164 m) near Everest basecamp (5,364 m) and Kala Patthar (5,550 m). 27


Mount Everest (8,850 m) as viewed in the early morning from Gokyo Ri (5,357 m).

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The mountain scenery north of Dole Village (4,048 m)

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5 Goifulhafehendhu Atoll

MALDIVE ISLANDS

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

****½ ***½ ***** ***** *½

Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

****½ ***½ **** ***** *****

Fehendhoo Island has a population of about 2,500.

In A Nutshell The Republic of the Maldives (better known as the Maldive Islands) is a chain of twenty-six atolls situated in the Indian Ocean about 700 km southwest of Sri Lanka and 400 km southwest of India’s Kerala State. There are many atolls and islands to choose from. Highly recommended is Goifulhafehendhu Atoll (also known as Goidhoo Atoll) at the southern fringe of Southern Maalhosmadulhu Atoll, with code letter “BAA”. Goifulhafehendhu Atoll has only two islands with tourist accommodation - Fulhadhoo and Goidhoo. Fulhadhoo Island has a population of about 300 people and one small guesthouse with four rooms. It is a long island with beautiful beaches and sandbanks at the far ends while the rest of this skinny island is covered with lush trees. At the northern rim of the atoll is Fehendhoo Island, another inhabited island, plus many smaller uninhabited islands such as the incredible Innafushi Island. Take day trips to the surrounding islands and enjoy the most beautiful beaches on earth! The people are friendly, the food is spicy and good, the skies are clear, the air is clean, and the water is crystal clear and warm. This is truly paradise on earth!

Getting There and Around Arrive by air on the island of Hulhule where the international airport is located. Within minutes you will be on your way via a private pickup arranged by your hotel located on nearby island of Hulhumale which is connected to the airport island by causeway. Highly recommended is to take the 10-minute ($1) ferry from immediately outside the arrivals hall to the island where the capital city, Malé, is located. To reach Goifulhafehendhu Atoll, take a fast boat at Malé for a 1.5 hour ride north to Fulhadhoo Island.

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The boat jetty at Fulhadhoo Island where the small fast motor boat arrives from MalĂŠ Island. The village is home to about 300 people, and one small guesthouse with 4 comfortable rooms.

The beaches around the islands are super clean and the water is crystal clear and warm. Snorkelling close to the inhabited islands are not exceptionally good. However, reefs further away have spectacular marine life. 33


Innafushi Island, now also known as “Globerovers Island”, is uninhabited and a short motor boat drive away from the inhabited Fulhadhoo Island. The water here is particularly beautiful. 34

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Innafushi Island viewed from a height of 84 m. Its a small uninhabited island overgrown with palm trees and small shrubs.

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6 Perito Moreno Glacier

ARGENTINA

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

****½ *** ***** ****½ ****

Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

In A Nutshell Perito Moreno Glacier is one of most impressive and most accessible glaciers in the world. The total icefield here holds the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water. A full day visit allows for views from different vantage points around the terminal (front-face) of the glacier. The glacier is about 30 km in length and is one of many glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. The terminal is 5 km wide, with an average height of more than 60 m above the surface of Lake Argentino. The surrounding hills offer spectacular views of the glacier while other glaciers along the lake (e.g. Upsala Glacier) can be visited by catamaran. Glacier hikes are offered and as long as you are very careful, you won’t die a slow icy death. Join a local glacier hiking group with guide, put on your crampons (spiked ice-boots), tie up the ropes, and get onto the glacier. An unforgettable hike indeed! While in the area, also check out nearby Upsala Glacier. While Perito Moreno Glacier is probably the most impressive, other glaciers worth visiting can be found in Alaska, Pakistan, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Antarctica, Nepal, and elsewhere.

Getting There and Around Located in the Los Glaciares National Park in the Santa Cruz province, it is a 90 minute minibus ride (80 km) from the town of El Calafate where a few small hotels and guesthouses serve as base. El Calafate (pop. 6,500) is a nice town and good base for many scenic spots in the area, including the spectacular flamingos that congregate on Lake Argentino. Rent a car or travel with a group in a minibus.

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Perito Moreno Glacier is a 250 km2 ice formation that stretches back for about 30 km. Glaciologists claim that it is one of only three Patagonian glaciers that is actually growing.

The glacier front terminus, or snout, of Perito Moreno Glacier is 5 km wide and rises more than 60 m above the surface of Lake Argentino. It has a total ice depth of about 170 m. 39


Perito Moreno Glacier has a powdery blue colour which comes mainly from compressed snow and ice crystals formed by air bubbles. It appears blue as a result of an overtone of oxygen-hydrogen (O-H) in the frozen water which absorbs light at the red end of the visible spectrum (long wavelengths) while the blue end of the visible spectrum (short wavelengths) is transmitted and scattered. The longer the light travels through the ice before reaching our eyes, the more blue it appears.

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7 Machu Picchu Ruins

PERU

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

****½ *** ****½ ***** ***

Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

*** ***½ **** ****½ *****

In A Nutshell Located in the Andes mountain range, the Camino Inca (Inca Trail) passes through alpine tundra, cloud forests, valleys and hills (most notably over the 4,215 m Warmi Wañusqa known as “Dead Woman’s Pass”), a few villages, ancient rock tunnels, and lesser known Incan ruins, before reaching the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. Most of the trail is the original, built by the Inca people more than 500 years ago. While there are several hiking routes, as well as an easy train and bus route, the “classic hiking trail” is a scenic and challenging hike that takes three days. Small hiking groups are equipped with a few porters and a chef to take care of tents and food. On the final morning of the journey hikers wake up before sunrise to reach the viewpoint from where the day’s first sunrays on the ancient ruins are celebrated. The ruins of the 15th-century Inca city of Machu Picchu appear mysterious under the early morning sunshine. Built around 1450 it is located 2,430 m above sea level, though some part of the trail is at over 4,200 m. Hike with a guide but make bookings many months in advance. Independent hiking has been outlawed for a few years now.

Getting There and Around Fly into the rustic town of Cusco (near the Urubamba Valley) and spend at least three or four days to get used to the high altitude. From Cusco, your guide will arrange transport to the starting point of the Inca trail. After three days of hiking, the trip ends at Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. Spend the day here and then walk down to the train station at Aguas Calientes for the train and bus ride back to Cusco.

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Above and below are the ruins of the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. Built around 1450, the city was abandoned a century later at the time of the Spanish conquest. The lost city was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham.

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The ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu as viewed during sunrise from high above the nearby hills.

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8 Jailoos & Glacial Lakes

KYRGYZSTAN

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

***** *** **** ****½ *****

Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

**** ** *** ***** ****½

In A Nutshell Landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is unquestionably the star of Central Asia. Independence from the brutal force of the Soviet Union was followed by a bloody revolution in early 2010 which overthrew the former president. The country seems to enjoy stability now and the Kyrgyz people seem happy and are extremely hospitable. Markets are stocked with interesting merchandise from around Central Asia, as well as local foods and fruits such as berries, peaches, grapes, and succulent figs. Head to the jailoos (meadows) along Song-kul and Issyk-kul lakes and stay in a yurt owned by a local family. Get your horse named “Baby” and gallop into the hills and along the snow-capped mountains. Pack your tent, sleeping bag, food and gas-stove and head into the mountains for a multi-day hike to a glacier in the Tien-Shan mountains or the Pamir-Alay mountains. Upon return, soak in one of the hotsprings to rejuvenate yourself after the strenuous trekking up to the high altitude glacial lake of AlaKul lake and down to Altyn Arashan. Visit several small villages along the lake shores or in the mountains. Spend at least a week in the mountain village of Arslanbob and munch on local walnuts and fruits. You will never forget your trip to Kyrgyzstan!

Getting There and Around The most common route entering Kyrgyzstan is by land from China’s Xingjiang province, either via the expensive Torugart Pass or further south via the cheaper Irkeshtam border. Alternatively fly into Bishkek, the capital city. Public transportation can be cumbersome, but with a lot of patience it will be an exciting and very rewarding experience. Large buses are rare, so along the busiest routes it is common to take minibuses, called marshrutka. Everywhere, including the less busy routes, is served by shared taxis.

Hiking from above Ala-Kul Lake in the Terskey Alatau mountains down to Altyn Arashan.

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Yurts are set up on the jailoos (summer pastures) near Jeti-Ögüz in early spring and taken down in late autumn. Families always keep a spare yurt for lonely travellers.

The red sandstone rock formations known as the “seven bulls of Jeti-Ögüz.” This unique formation of cliffs is composed of rock consisting of individual fragments within a fine-grained matrix that have become cemented together. 49


Ala-Kul lake (3,560 m) is a rock-dammed lake in the Terskey Alatau mountain range.

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9 Ancient Temples of Bagan

MYANMAR / BURMA Intrepid Index

Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

****½ ***½ ****½ ****½ ****½

Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

***½ *** ****½ ***** *****

In A Nutshell

Dhammayangyi Pahto.

Bagan, the ancient seat of several Burmese dynasties, is located along the eastern banks of the Ayerawaddy River. Covering an area of about 25 km², this location was chosen by the ancient kings of Bagan since the 11th century to build these temples and pagodas to earn religious merit. Legend has it that they were built during the reigns of no less than fifty-five kings who ruled over this kingdom. With more than 2,200 temples, pagodas, and stupas, the ancient city of Bagan is one of the most impressive of its kind. During the glory days of Bagan (11th to 13th century), it was home to around 4,400 structures of different sizes and importance. However, wars and earthquakes have reduced the structures to the current number. In Asia, the only archeological sites of such grandeur are the Angkor Wat (Cambodia) and Borobudur (Indonesia). Take at least two or three days to work through the area, as well as the adjacent sites. Best time to visit is early morning or late afternoon.

Getting There and Around Just 145 km southwest of Mandalay, Bagan is easily reached by 11-hour (slow boat) or 9.5 hour (fast boat) on the mighty Ayerawaddy River. From Yangon take a flight (Yangon Airways, and not state-owned Myanmar Airways) which takes a little more than an hour. Rent a bicycle or donkey cart to get around the many temples.

Around the Khay-Min-Gha temples.

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Globerovers · December 2014


Covering an area of about 25 km², the 2,200+ temples, pagodas, and stupas of Bagan are spread out and best explored on bicycle or a donkey cart.

The Ananda Pahto temple was built by King Kyanzittha around 1090-1105 as a work of religious merit. According to legend, the king was inspired by Indian monks who told him of their life in the Nanadamula cave in the Himalayas. 53


Thatbyinnyu Paya, the tallest temple in Bagan, was constructed in the mid-12th century during the reign of King Alaungsithu (born Zeyathura Sithu) who lived between 1089–1167. When the king fell ill in 1167, Narathu, his second son and heir apparent, murdered his dad by smothering him with blankets. Narathu also killed his elder brother Min Shin Saw and to atone for his sins, he went on to build the nearby Dhammayangyi Temple (see photo on opposite page), the widest and biggest temple in Bagan.

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Dhammayangyi Temple, constructed by King Alaungsithu who also built the Thatbyinnyu Paya.

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10 Wadi Rum & Petra City

JORDAN

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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In A Nutshell Located on the slopes of Mount Hor, the ancient Edomite / Nabataean city of Petra in south-central Jordan remained unknown to the Western world until 1812. This rock-carved city was established around the 6th century B.C. as the capital of the Nabataeans. However, Petra’s glory days declined rapidly under the Roman rule and after an earthquake in 363 B.C. destroyed its water management system. Petra spans across a large area that can be covered in two or three days. You need good hiking shoes and a lot of energy to climb the many steps and steep paths. Beyond the city limits are many cave-dwelling residents worth a visit. To the south of Petra is the Valley of the Moon (Wadi Rum) in southern Jordan. Sandstone paintings attest to human presence in this area since prehistoric times. This area is most known for the background setting in a number of films such as ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ The surroundings are majestic, in particular the sunsets and the night skies. Stay in a large Bedouin tent while the local guide prepares sand-oven baked chicken and other delicacies. If you dare to smoke, there will be some apple fragrant waterpipes (hookah) to puff on at night.

Getting There and Around The town of Petra is a three-hour drive south from Amman by minibus. The archaeological city starts a few kilometres outside town. Most hotels offer a free drop-off at the entrance gates. Pre-arrange a two to four day stay in the Wadi Rum desert from Amman, Petra, or from Aqaba. The bus will drop you in the village of Wadi Rum which has many Bedouin inhabitants. Here your guide will pick you up for the trip into the desert. Bring along a musical instrument. Nights under the starry skies are magical!

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Camels in front of the massive Petra amphitheatre cut into the hillside at the foot of the en-Nejr mountain.

A Banu al-盧、uway盪ュト》 Bedouin man watches the sunset over the desert of Wadi Rum. 57


The Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”) is the most recognisable structure at Petra. This elaborate temple of classical Greek-influenced architecture is carved out of a sandstone rock face.

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Staying overnight in a large Bedouin tent in the desert at Wadi Rum is an unforgettable expeDriving Salar dechicken Uyuni (10,582 world’s largest salt flats at of 3,656m rience. across Enjoy Bedouin which iskm²), slowlythe grilled by hot coals buried in an thealtitude sand. Watch While dry beautiful most of the year, when rainred-sand falls in January (up topuffi 70mm) flats are flwaterpipe. ooded with water. the most sunsets over the desert while ng onthe a sheesha

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11 Okinawa’s Zamami Beach

JAPAN

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In A Nutshell Japan’s southern islands of Okinawa are well known for the raging battles during World War II. Other than the tunnels used by the Japanese navy, little evidence is left of the war. Okinawa is a true intrepid gem which offers fantastic scenery, culture, food and more. The main island of Okinawa with its many smaller islands is a paradise of pristine beaches with clear waters, and an abundance of sea life only second to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. There are several smaller islands to the west of the main island to explore such as Aka, Agenashik, Tokashiki, Kerama, Tonaki, Kume, and Zamami, with the latter being most highly recommended. Zamami Island is small enough to walk all-around in a day. The small village is friendly and the few guesthouses offer superb Japanese hospitality. Enjoy the beaches, hiking around the islands, and the spectacular snorkelling at Agenashik Island’s northern end.

Getting There and Around Fly into Naha, the capital of Okinawa Islands. From Naha, ferries go out to the outlying islands. Get around the islands on foot or bicycle, and between islands by ferry or private boat. The further away islands are best reached by domestic plane from Naha. The islands are expensive so make sure to bring lots and lots of Yen!

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The crystal clear waters of Furuzamami Beach, on Okinawa’s Zamami Island. The beach is made of tiny broken corals rather than just sand, which keeps the water so brilliantly clear.

Sunset over Okinawa’s Zamami Island is truly spectacular. The brilliant yellow and orange colours change swiftly across the skies while bathers are having a good time in the crystal clear warm waters. 63


The beautiful turquoise waters of Furuzamami Beach on Okinawa’s Zamami Island. The water and beaches are clean and mostly deserted.

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12 Kazbegi Mountain Village

GEORGIA

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In A Nutshell

Tsminda Sameba Church

The sleepy mountain village of Kazbegi in northern Georgia in the Caucasus region is located at the end of the infamous “Georgian Military Highway”. Kazbegi is the main town of Khevi, the region north of the Jvari Pass. To the north of the village, across the Caucasus Mountains and the snowy peak of Mt. Kazbek towering to the west, lies the Russian province of Chechnya and the city of Grozny. Kazbegi, officially been renamed as Stepantsminda, sits at an altitude of about 1,750 m. Architecturally just a cluster of mainly Soviet-era buildings, the village itself is not particularly attractive. The beauty lies in the picturesque location of Kazbegi and its nearby sister village of Gergeti. However, the star attraction here is the famous hill-top silhouette of the Gergeti Trinity Church, which in Georgian is referred to as “Tsminda Sameba”. In addition to enjoying the village lifestyle and the beautiful Tsminda Sameba Church on a hill high above Gergeti village, there is good hiking in the area. Accommodation is mainly in the form of homestays.

Getting There and Around From Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, marshrutkas (shared taxis) or minibuses make the three to four hour trip up north to the village of Kazbegi. It is a scenic drive that passes through several villages worth spending an hour or two. Once at Kazbegi, walk westwards to the village of Gergeti and from there up the steep footpath to the Tsminda Sameba Church. From here the views are stunning across the villages and the Caucasus Mountains. Return to Kazbegi via the valley and cool stream on the east side.

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Tsminda Sameba Church is perched high on the nearby hill above the village of Gergeti. Shrouded under the low clouds are the Caucasus Mountains and the snowy peak of Mt. Kazbek towering to the west.

The village of Gergeti lies close to Kazbegi. The hiking path starts at Kazbegi and leads through Gergeti to Tsminda Sameba Church perched high on the nearby hill. 67


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The Tsminda Sameba Church is perched high on the nearby hill above the village of Gergeti, with the Caucasus Mountains covered in clouds. While its a tough hike up here, the views are truly rewarding.

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What is shark finning? Finning is the process of cutting off the fins of a shark and discarding the body at sea. This wasteful and often cruel practice contradicts all principles of sustainable shark fisheries management and conservation.

Why are sharks vulnerable to exploitation? The life history of sharks is typical of top predators, and completely different to most commercial fish, which mature early and produce vast numbers of tiny eggs. In comparison, most sharks grow slowly, mature late and give birth to a few large pups after a long gestation period. Consequently, shark populations decline rapidly when targeted by fisheries and recover slowly, if at all. Shark populations may continue to decline, potentially to unviable levels with species becoming regionally extinct. There are now 126 species of chondrichthyan fish listed in a threat category on the IUCN’s Red List, with a further 107 species listed as Near Threatened.

Why Oppose Shark Finning? •

Although some sharks are killed before finning (a live shark represents a danger on board), many are still alive when their fins are cut off, and are thrown back into the sea alive to die.

Finning is hugely wasteful - wet fins typically represent less than 5% of a shark’s body weight & discarded carcasses could provide a valuable protein source, particularly in developing countries.

The environmental impact of removing large numbers of sharks from ocean ecosystems is hugely complex and unpredictable. Most sharks are top predators and scientists believe sharks play a key role in marine ecosystems by keeping their prey populations in check. Removing this control is likely to have a damaging effect on marine ecosystems.

Today many shark populations are experiencing a downward spiral of reduced populations due to increasing fishing pressure and increasing prices. Over the last 15 years some Atlantic shark populations have declined by up to 90%. However due to the covert nature of the fin trade fins originating from illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) fisheries means that we have likely underestimated the effect on global shark populations.

Finning Facts •

Hong Kong is the world’s shark fin trading centre, accounting for 50-80% of fins traded worldwide. Currently the EU supplies 27% of all fins imported into Hong Kong.

Sharks’ life history makes them vulnerable to exploitation – for example, Basking Sharks take 15-20 years to mature, have a 2-3 year gestation period and produce only 4–6 pups.

Wet fins typically represent < 5% of a shark’s body weight.

Some Atlantic shark populations have declined by up to 90% in the last 15 years.

Sets of fins can sell for more than US$700/kg, with Hammerhead Shark fins among the most valuable by weight.

A single Whale Shark pectoral fin can sell for up to US$15,000.

Global trade in shark fins is increasing, and the market for shark fin soup is estimated to be growing by 5% per year.

The EU’s fin to carcass ratio is among the weakest in the world.

A third of European sharks, and a total of 126 species of chondrichthyan fish are listed under a threat category on the IUCN Red List, with a further 107 species Near Threatened.

Find out more at www.sharktrust.org/finning SOURCE: http://www.stopsharkfinning.net/docs/StopSharkFinningCampaignFactsheet.pdf 71


Kīlauea Volcano HAWAII, USA

13 Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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In A Nutshell Kīlauea volcano is one of the world’s most active volcanoes but also one of the most assessable. After being a submerged volcano for about 450,000 years, is been active above the sea for the past 100,000 years. In fact, its current stretch of continuous activity has been since January 3rd, 1983 during which time it, until now, has resurfaced more than 123 km2 of land. While most areas are dangerous and off-limits to the casual tourist, the more determined traveller can get access to the flowing lava by joining a local, and experienced guide, which most likely operates without permission from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park authorities. A strenuous hike from the now closed (and lava destroyed) road takes the determined hiker to the flowing lava. This is a dangerous hike and should not be attempted by inexperienced hikers. Hikes deep into old lava tubes are also possible. A helicopter flight over the Puu Oo cinder-cone and over the boiling sea where the lava enters, is an unforgettable experience. Appreciate and respect the raw power of our planet.

Getting There and Around Fly to Hilo town on Hawaii’s Big Island. Find a guide online or at one of the adventure guesthouses or travel agents for a hiking trip to the active lava fields. To get stunning and close-up aerial views, get into a helicopter at the Hilo Airport. To see the rest of this incredible island with unspoilt beaches, mountains, and waterfalls, rent a car and drive around the Big Island.

Magma flows in underground natural lava-tubes all the way (10 km) into the sea where it explodes into huge steam plumes as it gets into contact with the cold water. Several square kilometre of new land has been formed by the drying lava. Where the lava reaches the ocean waters, it is still at 1,140°C.

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The Puu Oo cinder-cone in the eastern rift zone of the K朝lauea volcano viewed from a helicopter.

Lava oozes out from the lava-tubes and flows onto older lava fields. 73


Lava oozes out from the lava-tubes and flows onto older lava fields. Magma in the tubes are at about 1,250°C but when it turns into lava above ground it quickly cools down to a yellow 900°C and then down to a faint red glow at about 480°C.

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Kulusuk Village GREENLAND

14 Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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In A Nutshell Greenland is a massive island and the few settlements are remotely tucked away on smaller islands, some of which are surrounded by drifting icebergs along the periphery of the main island. As the gateway to eastern Greenland, Kulusuk is a sleepy Inuit settlement of 300 souls, located in the Ammassalik region. The village is situated on a small rocky island between jagged mountains and extensive fjords, and is most of the time surrounded by icebergs and a glittering sea of ice. The area offers spectacular year-round scenery. Long hikes around the Torsuut Tunoq Sound are rewarded with views of floating icebergs (in summer) and views of the front of the active Apusiaajik glacier which can be reached on foot or by snowmobile (winter only), or by chartered boat (summer only). The panorama is dominated by the majestic mountains on Apusiaajik Island. Look out for millions of wild black berries and beautiful green arctic moss and arctic cotton in summer. Medical treatment is practically non-existent, so step carefully whatever you do! Traditional hunting and fishing still remain a vital source of income for the few families here who speak Tunumiit oraasiat - a Greenlandic dialect.

Getting There and Around Kulusuk is on the east coast of Greenland and just a two hour flight from Reykjavik, Iceland, on the turboprop plane of Air Iceland. From the Kulusuk Airport it is a 15-min walk to the only hotel, and then a 20 min walk to the small village. Other villages can be reached by helicopter, dog sled, or by chartered boat (summer only). When the waters are not frozen and the husky dog sleds are grounded, the best way to get around is on foot, by boat, or by helicopter to the nearby glaciers and the village of Tasiilaq.

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The small village of Kulusuk is situated on a small rocky island between jagged mountains and extensive fjords.

Huskies are patiently waiting for the winter when dog sleds are the most practical means of transportation. 77


Chunks of ice which broke off drifting icebergs lie strewn across the shallow sea water and rocky beaches near Kulusuk village.

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15 Shibam Hadhramaut

YEMEN

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In A Nutshell ,Yemen, officially known as the Republic of Yemen, is located in the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, south of Saudi Arabia and west of the Sultanate of Oman. While most of Yemen is worth exploring, the Hadramawt Valley is of particular interest.

The historical region of Hadramawt is located along the Gulf of Aden in the south Arabian Peninsula of Yemen. The most notable feature in the Hadramawt Valley is the city of Shibam Hadramawt. Described as “the oldest skyscraper city in the world” and “the Manhattan of the desert”, it dates from the 3rd century A.D. and was the ancient capital of the Hadramawt Kingdom. Houses in Shibam are made from mud bricks built into towers which rise up to 11 stories (30 m) high. While the city is about 1,700 years old, the high rises were built in the 16th century to protect residents from attacks by the Bedouin. However, wars have necessitated the rebuilding of the towers several times. The surrounding mountains and valleys offer ample hiking opportunities. Be very careful as this is regarded a dangerous area to foreign tourists. People are generally friendly. Most people across Yemen still wear their traditional clothing. Many men wear, as symbolic decoration, the jambiya which is a short curved-blade dagger.

Getting There and Around While you can undertake an interesting, but very long trip by road from Sana’a, you probably won’t get a permit these days as the route is dangerous to foreigners. Best is to fly on Yemenia Airway from Sana’a to the town of Sayun in the Hadramawt Valley. Sayun is a good base for travelling in his area. Rent a car with driver to visit nearby Shibam, Tarim and other villages.

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The city of Shibam Hadramawt is described as “the oldest skyscraper city in the world” and “the Manhattan of the desert”.

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An eagle’s view from a nearby mountain top of the city of Shibam Hadramawt. This 16th century mud-brick city of tower houses is home to about 7,000 inhabitants.

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16 Mayan Ruins of Tikal

GUATEMALA

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In A Nutshell Deep in the dense jungle of northeast Guatemala are the ruins of Tikal. Of all the ruins of the Inca, Mayan, and Aztec civilisations scattered across the Americas, Tikal is probably the most remote, and almost consumed by the dense jungle. The preColumbian Maya civilisation at Tikal was one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Mayan people. Located in the Petén Basin region, some of the structures here date back as far as the 4th century B.C. Tikal reached its apogee during the period of A.D. 200 to 900 with a population estimated at about 80,000 inhabitants. During this time it controlled vast stretches of territory and dominated many smaller city-states in the region. After about 900 A.D. Tikal fell into decline and was eventually abandoned. Due to the site’s remoteness in the deep jungle, Tikal wasn’t visited in modern times until John Lloyd Stephens arrived in 1848 and only in the 1880’s did archaeologists (Alfred P. Maudslay) start to uncover and record the ruins. Get a local guide, climb up to the top of one of the temples before sunrise, and listen to the stories about this Mayan civilisation and its ultimate demise. Spider and howler monkeys abound in the trees and colourful toucans fly around.

Getting There and Around Get on a public bus from Guatemala City for the long ride to Santa Elena from where a taxi goes across the causeway to the tiny village of Flores, situated on an island in Lago Petén Itzá. Flores is a lovely village surrounded by the tranquil waters of Lake Petén Itzá. To Tikal, the minibus pickup is at 3 am for the 90 min drive. It arrives in time to view sunrise from the top of one of the temples.

Mundo Perdido is a popular Tikal pyramid from where to view the ruins and jungle.

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Temple of Ah Cacao (a.k.a. Temple of the Great Jaguar, and Tikal Temple I), built around A.D. 700-750. It rises 47 m above the jungle floor of Tikal.

The temples of Tikal are overgrown by the dense jungle which is home to many species of birds and monkeys. 85


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Temple of Ah Cacao (left) and the Temple of the Mask (right) built around 700-750 A.D.

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17 Corcovado National Park

COSTA RICA

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In A Nutshell

Scarlet macaws high in the tree-tops.

Located on the Osa Peninsula in the southwest of Costa Rica along the Pacific Ocean, the Corcovado National Park covers an area of 425 km² of stunning ecological variety. The park has been labeled as “the most biologically intense place on earth” and the abundance of wildlife is evident. The jungle offers opportunities to see the endangered Baird’s tapir, the rare harpy eagle, American crocodiles, spectacled caimans, jaguars, sloths, Tamandua anteaters, tayras, collared peccaries, ocelots, agoutis, several species of monkeys including the squirrel monkey, white-faced capuchin, mantled howler, and the Geoffroy’s spider monkey. This is also a bird-lover’s paradise where you will see many scarlet macaws, pelicans, curassows, black hawks, spectacled owls, hummingbirds, and 220 species of butterflies. While popular among professionals such as ecologists, few casual travellers make the strenuous trip to this park. It is a very long and tough journey to get to Corcovado, and includes hours of hiking through the jungle and, if coming from the south, a 7-mile stroll on the beach. Along the way you will come across incredible wildlife and unspoilt nature. Take a dip in one of the many clean rivers or streams but keep an eye on the crocodiles and caimans.

Getting There and Around The tough part is to get here! From the Trans-American highway to, or from, Panama, take a bus to Golfito from where you take a ferry across the gulf to Punto Jimenez. Ask around town if any drivers cross the peninsula to Carate from where a 7-mile beach and jungle hike gets you to the Sirena Ranger Station. Accommodation is limited to a few bunker beds at this Ranger Station, so book well in advance.

A whimbrel (locally called a “piguilo”) is a type of curlew.

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A spectacled caiman warming up in the sun next to a small ravine just a few minutes walk away from the Sirena Ranger Station.

An endangered Bairdâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tapir forage along a stream deep inside the jungle. They are not aggressive or dangerous per se, but they will chase you if they feel annoyed or threatened. 89


From Carate to the Ranger Station is a 7 mile walk along the rugged beach. Many scarlet macaws can be seen high in the trees along this beach.

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18 Ancient Monasteries

ARMENIA

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Church service at the Khor Virap.

In A Nutshell As tourists flock to ancient religious buildings across Europe, few venture into the Caucasus region to explore the ancient monasteries of Armenia. Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, the monasteries are spread out across Armenia. With hardly any tourist activity, no entrance fees, and no souvenirs shops, it is indeed a special experience to do ‘monastery-hopping’ in Armenia. It is a surreal experience to walk into a 12-century monastery with no noisy tourists around you with the sunbeams streaming onto pulpit stones which were laid here hundreds of years ago. The sound of silence is immense as you try to imagine what life would have been here during the heyday of these buildings. While some of these monasteries and churches are still being used for religious services complete with resident monks, many have been abandoned for many years. While Armenians are quick to point out that Armenia is more than just monasteries, for the international traveller, Armenia will unquestionably be remembered as the country with the most amazing ancient monasteries.

Getting There and Around It makes sense to be based in a northern town to explore the northern half of Armenia, and then be based in Yerevan to explore the south. Public transportation is basic and cheap, and adds a lot of excitement to a traveller’s day. Hitch hiking is considered safe, so where the marshrutkas (minibuses) don’t go, try your luck with hitching a ride. The most memorable monasteries are off the beaten paths and are surrounded by farmlands or small villages, which makes reaching them more challenging, but rewarding.

The 17th century Khor Virap is an Apostolic church monastery located in the Ararat valley close to the border with Turkey. It remains an important pilgrimage site and regular church services are held here. 92

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The Saghmosavank is a 13th-century monastery (completed in 1221) located next to a precipitous gorge carved by the Kasagh river near the town of Ashtarak, northwest of Yerevan.

The Goshavank is a 12th century monastery located in the village of Gosh, to the west of Dilijan town, in northern Armenia. 93


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Haghartsin is a 13th-century monastery (built between the 10th and 14th centuries) located near the town of Dilijan, northern Armenia.

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19 Glaciers and Ice-Caps

ICELAND

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In A Nutshell

Flying high over Vatnajökull glacier in southeast Iceland.

Glaciers and ice-caps cover over 10% of Iceland’s surface while much of the remaining surface is covered in lava rock. Glaciers and glacial lakes, icebergs, and black volcanic sand beaches are in abundance. Iceland’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull, covers an area of 8,300 square km while the top 13 glaciers together cover 11,200 square km. The best area for easy access to the glaciers are between Vik in the south up along the east coast to Höfn to see glacier tongues out of Vatnajökull. Vatnajökull is by far the largest glacier and is more appropriately referred to as an “ice cap.” The second largest glacier is Langjökull, located in central Iceland, and is relatively easy to reach. The other large glaciers are Hofsjökull (in central Iceland), Mýrdalsjökull (in the south), and Drangajökull (in the far north west). Iceland is a challenging destination and great care should be exercised along the high cliffs and glaciers. Several travellers have disappeared into glaciers and over cliffs. Roads are fairly well maintain but are often narrow and built along dangerous cliffs. Heavy fog, snow and icy roads make driving a real challenge.

Getting There and Around Fly into Reykjavik and rent a four-wheel drive with high clearance above the ground. This will allow you to take many of the smaller dirt roads which often lead to exciting destinations. While driving is the most comfortable, cycling and hiking will be by far the most rewarding. The best way to experience Iceland is to hike for several weeks but carry your tent and all your supplies. Once in a while drop in at a town to stock-up.

Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier which is a tongue of the larger Vatnajökull glacier in southeastern Iceland.

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Svínafellsjökull is a glacier tongue of the massive Vatnajökull, the largest and most voluminous Icelandic glacier which, at 8,300 km², covers more than 8 percent of the country.

Skaftafellsjökull glacier is located in the Vatnajökull National Park in southeastern Iceland. The glacier’s front is 4m high and is streaked with mud and grit (moraine). The glacier has retreated significantly in the past few years.

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Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon (in the forefront) at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier which is a tongue of the larger Vatnajökull glacier in southeastern Iceland.

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20 Kaluts of the Desert

IRAN

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In A Nutshell Located in the salty Dasht-e Lut desert in southeastern Kerman Province is a large area of eroded rocks called the Kaluts. The Kaluts is the largest expanse of yardangs in the world. A yardang is a streamlined hill carved from bedrock and formed by wind erosion which removes the soft rock while the hard rock remains. While the Dasht-e Lut desert is vast, the Kaluts is concentrated over a smaller area where you can roam on feet, 4WD, or with your scrambler bike. Get loose and feel the freedom! This area is among the hottest places on earth. On a nice summer day the temperature can easily rise well above 50ºC and even up to 60ºC. The surface of the desert sand has been measured at temperatures as high as 70°C which makes it one of the hottest places on earth. Camping (not during the cold winter months) is possible though discouraged by some locals who fear the “desert pirates” and other bandits. As you arrive in the Kaluts you will be wondering if you have stumbled into a lost city with miles and miles of eroded towers, walls, and fortresses. This is unquestionably one of the most stunning desert sceneries in the world.

Getting There and Around From Tehran fly into Kerman in southern Iran and then arrange a car and driver to take you up to the Kaluts. Locals prefer to avoid the Kaluts claiming the danger of bandits and other “unpleasant people”. Once you got a car and driver, head out of town and then swerve in an eastern direction towards the Afghanistan border. The drive is about 150 km east of Kerman past the Zagros mountains (4,000 m) into the vast Dasht-e Lut desert.

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Eroded sandcastles of the Kaluts stand proudly in the scorching sun in the Dasht-e Lut desert.

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Eroded sandcastles in the Dasht-e Lut desert surrounded by a vast expanse of sand where only shrubs and grasses can be found in some shady valleys. The most common plant life is mugwort, an aromatic plant which has medicinal properties and is used as an herb to flavour food. A few bird species can be found here including the ground jay, Houbara bustards, larks and sandgrouses. This desert is also home to many larger animals such as the Persian gazelle, leopards (in mountainous areas), wild cats, wolves, foxes, Persian onager, Asiatic cheetah, and some wild sheep, camels, and goats. 102

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The Golden Ring RUSSIA

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Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Savior, Suzdal.

In A Nutshell Russia has much to offer to the intrepid traveller and one of the most rewarding destinations is located to the northeast of Moscow. Referred to as “The Golden Ring” (Золотóе кольцó), the area is comprised of several historical towns rich in culture and known for their majestic golden onion-domed religious buildings. These towns played a significant role in the formation and growth of the Russian Orthodox Church over many years. They have also preserved the memories of some of the most significant events in Russia’s history. Often described as “open-air museums”, the architecture mostly dates back to between the 12th and 18th centuries. Among the noteworthy towns on the ring road are Vladimir, Suzdal, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, Rostov Velikiy, Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, and Sergiyev Posad. While a few buildings have been designated as museums, most of the churches and monasteries are occupied by resident monks and nuns. Be discrete when visiting to not disturb the worshippers. Before leaving home, brush up on your Russian and cyrillic skills. Few people speak English and cyrillic is used extensively. Without speaking some Russian, it will be very challenging to travel around Russia as most people ignore English speakers.

Getting There and Around Fly into Moscow from where trains and buses, or private cars, travel into the Golden Ring area. From Moscow several buses and trains travel to the first town, Vladimir. From here, only buses and shared taxis travel to Suzdal and onwards to Kostroma. From Kostroma, which is back on the train line to Moscow, travellers have a choice to reach the remaining towns by bus or train. Of course, there is always the option of a private car, preferably with a good local driver.

St. Ipaty Monastery, Kostroma.

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The St. Nicola Cathedral in Pereslavl-Zalesskiy was built in the 18th century but was mostly destroyed during the Soviet period.

The wooden Church of St. John of Nazianze near the river Ishna, Rostov Veliky. 105


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Assumption Cathedral at the Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius (Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius) in Sergiev Posad is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church.

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22 Kerala Backwater Houseboats

INDIA

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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In A Nutshell Alappuzha, also known as Alleppey, is a town along the Arabian Sea and is best known as the gateway to the Kerala Backwaters. The “backwaters” of Kerala connects Kumarakom and Kochi towards the north and Quilon to the south and is a chain of brackish lagoons, inlets, rivers, and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast (known as the Malabar Coast). Lord Curzon of Kedleston (11 January 1859 – 20 March 1925), a British Conservative statesman who was Viceroy of the Indian Empire, described the Alleppey backwaters as the “Venice of the East.” Get your snacks, drinks, and friends and walk along the canals to choose the best boathouse. A two-day-one-night trip will suffice, though a three-day-two-night trip should be superb. At various locations the boat will stop at your request at which time you can get off and mingle with the locals, take photos, and do some shopping in the markets. At sunset the boat will dock at some peaceful spot under the coconut trees at which time you will enjoy a cocktail followed by dinner prepared on board. The keyword here is relaxation and meeting the welcoming local Kerala folks.

Getting There and Around Alleppey can be reached by either flying into the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram in the south of Kerala State, or via Kochi in the north of the state. From either these places travel by train or road along the Malabar Coast to Alleppey where you can board your boat. There are several other places to board, though Alleppey has the biggest choice of boats.

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A large variety of houseboats are available for rent from places like Alleppey. Boats are generally rented privately so no need to share the boat with strangers. They are affordable and solo travellers commonly rent their own boat.

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Kerala houseboats vary from basic and rundown boats to brand new luxury boats. Whatever you want, it comes at a fee. The nicer boats are really a treat with comfy sitting space and a cosy bedroom or two. On board will be the captain steering and navigating the boat, the chef, a waiter, and likely also a machine-man.

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Minapin Glacier PAKISTAN

23 Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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In A Nutshell Minapin Glacier stretches from below the base of Rakaposhi Peak (7,788 m) to Diran Peak (7,266 m) in the Karakoram mountain range in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. The glacier is best reached from the Hunza Valley where the 6-hour hike starts at Minapin Village. As the best time to hike is during the hot summer months (May to September), it is advisable to leave the Minapin guesthouse at dawn (4:45 am) to arrive at the Rakaposhi basecamp (3,650 m) by 11 am. The hike is steep but the scenery is stunning. About an hour before reaching basecamp, the terminal of the glacier moraine (unconsolidated glacial debris of soil and rock) becomes visible. Continue the climb and soon the blue-white glacial tongue comes into view. The last part of the hike is strenuous but as Rakaposhi Peak and the white glacier seracs (columns of glacial ice) gets closer, the adventure spirit will boost you further up. Camp at basecamp next to the glacier and you will frequently hear the roars of avalanches and glacier cracking.  Go for a hike on the glacier towards Diran Peak where you will see several glacial rivers and large crevasses and seracs. Hike further up to Rakaposhi Peak if the weather is good or hike over to Diran Peak. 

Getting There and Around Fly from Islamabad to Gilgit, capital of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. From Gilgit drive to Minapin Village in the beautiful Hunza Valley. Stay overnight in a guesthouse and at dawn start the 6-hour hike to Rakaposhi basecamp. Stay over in a tent for at least one night, and then return to Minapin Village.

Minapin Glacier flanked by Diran Peak (7,266 m) on left and Rakaposhi Peak (7,788 m) on right.

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Minapin Glacier facing towards Rakaposhi Peak (7,788 m) on the far right, and Diran Peak (7,266 m) on the far left.

Walking on Minapin Glacier facing away from Rakaposhi Peak (7,788 m) in the direction of the Hunza River. 115


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As the Minapin Glacier melts in the summer, rivers form that run down into the Hunza River.

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24 Drepung Monastery

TIBET

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

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In A Nutshell Tibet is known for its monasteries, many of which are hundreds of years old. The three most revered, known as the “great three”, are Ganden monastery (located at an altitude of 4,300 m at the top of Wangbur Mountain), Séra monastery (a short drive north of Lhasa), and Drepung monastery (located a few kilometre northwest of Lhasa at the foot of Mount Gephel). Founded in 1416, Drepung is the largest of all Tibetan monasteries. It was the residence of the Dalai Lamas until Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (the 5th Dalai Lama who lived from 1617 to 1682) constructed the Lhasa Potala Palace in 1645. Potala Palace was home to the Dalai Lamas until the current (14th) Dalai Lama had to flee to India during the 1959 Tibetan Uprising against communist China’s occupation. Referred to as the “Nalanda” of Tibet, Drepung was known for the high standards of its buddhist teachings. Drepung monastery was home to between 7,000 and 10,000 monks in the 1930’s, but since communist China invaded Tibet in 1950 and destroyed thousands of monasteries, including half of Drepung, the number of monks have shrunk. Since China’s occupation, monasteries have lost their independence and spiritual credibility in the eyes of Tibetans as China security services strictly control the monasteries. The Chinese government shut down the entire Drepung monastery for five months in 2008 after monk-led protests against Chinese rule turned violent. Regardless, a visit to Drepung monastery is a surreal experience!

Getting There and Around Fly into Lhasa after going through a lengthy process to get the necessary visa and permits from China. From Lhasa is it a short drive by taxi north to Drepung monastery.

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Monks studying as the morning sunrays stream into the Drepung monastery.

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25 Bucovina Monasteries

ROMANIA

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In A Nutshell

Sucevita monastery.

Located at the foothills of the Carpathian mountains, the Bucovina region in northeastern Romania is known for its 48 monasteries and Byzantine churches built during the 14th and 15th centuries. Stefan the Great (Stefan cel Mare) ruled here between 1457 and 1504 and constantly fought back the invading Turks. He built one monastery or church after each of his battles to praise God for allowing him to win. He decorated them with vivid frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, and heaven and hell. By depicting dramatic Biblical scenes he intended to teach Christianity to the illiterate. When he died, his son Petru Rareș, continued his work. Deemed masterpieces of Byzantine art, these paintings are one-of-a-kind. Over the years, scientists are yet to explain why the paintings, especially those on the externals walls, have remained in such good condition. Known as the “Painted monasteries of Bucovina”, some of the monasteries have resident monks or nuns, while others are dedicated as museums. Among the best preserved are the Arbore, Humor, Moldovita, Pătrăuți, Probota, Suceava, Sucevița, and Voronet. Whether you are interested in religion, history, architecture or art, you certainly will be mesmerised by these incredible masterpieces.

Getting There and Around Take a train from Romania’s capital city, Bucharest, up north to the town of Suceava. Get off at the main Suceava station and find a guesthouse that provides day-trips to the monasteries. Alternatively, book transportation in town. Most monasteries are too far apart for hiking. Having private transportation, you need about two to three days to do the ten best monasteries.

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Moldovita monastery, located in the commune of Vatra Moldoviței, Suceava county, was built in 1532 by Petru Rareș, who was Stefan the Great’s son.

Voroneţ monastery, located in the village of Voroneţ was constructed by Stefan the Great in 1488 over a period of 3 months and 3 weeks. The frescoes feature an intense shade of blue known in Romania as “Voroneţ blue.” 123


Humor monastery, located in Mănăstirea Humorului, about 5 km north of the town of Gura Humorului, was constructed in 1530 by Petru Rareş. It currently is home to nuns and dedicated to the Dormition of Virgin Mary.

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26

Ancient Khiva City UZBEKISTAN

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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In A Nutshell Modern day Khiva is a city with more than 50,000 inhabitants. The ancient inner city (Itchan Kala) is surrounded by 10-meterhigh plastered brick walls whose foundations were laid around the 10th century. The current walls were erected in the late 17th century and have often been repaired and rebuilt since then. The Itchan Kala of Khiva retains more than 50 historic monuments such as mosques, medrassah, bathhouses, mausoleums, harems, and arks, as well as more than 200 houses built during the 18th and the 19th centuries. One of the most precious buildings inside the walls of the Itchan Kala is the Juma (Friday) mosque which was established during the 10th century and rebuilt in the 18th century. Of the 212 carved wooden columns inside the mosque, several date back to the 10th century while others are from the 15th to 18th century. While three to four days are enough to explore the entire Itchan Kala with all of its interesting buildings, an additional few days could be spent on exploring the surrounding areas such as the Aral Sea and the town of Moynaq to the north.

Getting There and Around Enter Uzbekistan by land from Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, or Kazakhstan, or fly into Tashkent, from where a domestic flight goes to Urgench airport, 35 km from Khiva. An interesting 19-hour overnight train travels from Tashkent to Urgench from where it is a 30-minute taxi ride to Khiva. During long train rides be prepared to act as an entertainer as fellow passengers will congregate around a lonely foreigner to listen to stories, see photographs, and to share their food and drinks.

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The Harem, behind the huge wall to the west of the Isfandiyar Palace, was built between 1906 and 1912, and is located outside the walls of Khivaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Itchan Kala. It is currently closed for renovations.

The Khuna Ark is a fortress within the walled city. Parts of the Ark date back to the 5th century. Much of the structure was completed in the 17th century, although most of what is left today dates from the 19th and 20th centuries. 127


A view from the Ark tower over Khiva’s ancient inner city (Itchan Kala).

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27

Angkor Wat Ruins CAMBODIA

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

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In A Nutshell Constructed in classical style of Khmer architecture between the 12th and 15th century for King Suryavarman II (as his state temple and eventual mausoleum), King Jayavarman VII and others, the ancient city of Angkor contains the magnificent remains of the capital of the Khmer Empire. This Buddhist temple complex is regarded as the largest religious monument in the world. While known as a Buddhist temple, Angkor Wat was originally dedicated to Vishnu, the supreme god of Vaishnavism, which is one of the four major branches of Hinduism. It wasn’t until the late 13th century when the temple transferred from Vaishnavism (Hindu) to Theravada (Buddhist), which continues to the present day. While the Angkor Wat main temple is the most grandeur building, the temples of Angkor stretch over a large area. Angkor Wat is by far the most visited temple, so the best time to avoid the crowds is very early in the morning. Many of the further located temples are less visited and offer great solitude to the weary traveller. Get to these off-the-beaten-track temples early in the morning. Sit, relax, and imagine what life might have been here many years ago. Stay in the nearby town of Siem Reap.

Getting There and Around Fly into Siem Reap or take the 5-hour river ferry (July-March) from Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, to Chong Khneas 12 km south of Siem Reap. In Siem Reap, rent a tuk-tuk and driver (full/half-day basis) and agree (in writing) on the routes, destinations, schedule, and the fare.

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The main temple of Angkor Wat at sunset.

Some of the many temples in the vicinity of the grand Angkor Wat. 131


The main temple of Angkor Wat early in the morning. To avoid the crowds, arrive here before sunrise.

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28 Uyghur Livestock Market

XINJIANG (CHINA)

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

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In A Nutshell While livestock markets are not exactly on the priority list of every traveller, the Sunday livestock market outside Kashgar (Xinjiang Province, western China) is like no other in the whole wide world. Come here not only to see the range of sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, camels, yaks, cattle, and other beasts, but most of all to see and meet the rugged animal farmers who congregate here. Western China is no place for the weak, and to be a Xinjiang animal farmer you need to be very tough. The market grounds are large with hundreds of livestock on display. While prospective buyers are meticulously inspecting the teeth of the animals, others are taking the horses for a ride before confirming the transaction. Several make-shift restaurants along the fringe of the market grounds serve up freshly slaughtered and cooked mutton soup, BBQ’d steaks, shashlik (kebab), freshly baked nang (Uyghur flat bread), and other yummy and fatty foods.

Getting There and Around Fly into Kashgar from selected cities in China (e.g. Urumqi, Beijing, Xi’an), or cross by land from Kyrgyzstan or Pakistan. Chinese land border crossings are notoriously painful experiences but try to keep patient. Toilet facilities at some of these China immigration buildings, most notably at Torugard Pass border, are utterly disgusting. The livestock market is about 10 km outside of Kashgar. Walk around the market grounds and at the end of the day catch a taxi back to Kashgar.

Fat-tailed sheep looking for a new owner. 134

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A young camel awaits his turn to be traded for money or for other livestock.

Goats are lined-up at the Sunday market. Some buyers would put several of these goats in their family car to be driven off to their new home. 135


The livestock market is held on Sundays just outside of Kashgar town. Here farmers buy and trade sheep, goats, donkeys, horses, camels, yaks, cattle, etc. Several make-shift restaurants serve up fresh cooked meat, bread, and other yummy food.

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29 Cartagena de Indias

COLOMBIA

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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In A Nutshell Cartagena de Indias in the northeastern corner of Colombia along the Caribbean Coast dates back to 4,000 B.C. More recently (1500’s) this Spanish colonial city was founded, named after Cartagena in Spain, and became the centre of royalty and wealthy viceroys. Being under frequent attack from invaders, the fortressed city offers interesting examples of military strategy as well as preserved colonial architecture. Cartagena is also most associated with pirates in the Caribbean Seas. The colonial walled city and fortress were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Entrance to the fortified historical centre is via Puerta del Reloj (Clock Gate) which leads into the colourful Plaza de los Coches (Square of the Carriages). Several squares, cathedrals and castillo (fortresses) adorn the old town. In addition to strolling the interesting streets and markets, take a hike over to the relatively more touristy area of Bocagrande with its hotels, shops, restaurants, nightclubs and art galleries. Also take a day-trip to nearby Playa Blanca and Islas del Rosario for incredibly beautiful beaches, islands, birds and marine life.

Getting There and Around Due to a potential risk of kidnappings from long haul buses, it is much safer to fly from Bogota to Cartagena. Walk around the old town, nearby colourful markets, as well as the Bocagrande beach area. Nearby La Popa hill offers great views but be careful and don’t walk alone at night.

A Botero sculpture in front of Church of Santa Domingo.

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Colourful old colonial buildings along the streets of the old town of Cartagena.

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An informal evening dance practice at Cartagena’s zocalo (central plaza).

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Hokkaido Birdlife JAPAN

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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In A Nutshell To single out one great destination in Japan is a tough task because there are so many incredible destinations all over Japan. However, one totally awesome destination is the northern island of Hokkaido. Once again, all of Hokkaido is amazing, but if you are a nature lover, and big birds in particular, head over to eastern Hokkaido. In the southeast of the island, near the town of Kushiro, are the marshlands of the Kushiro Shitsugen National Park. Japan’s most revered bird, the Tancho crane (red-crowned crane) can be viewed here all seasons. Thought to be extinct, 20 birds were discovered here in 1926 and through serious conservation efforts they now number more than 1,000 birds. They are known for their love dances which features prominently in ancient and modern Japanese art. Further north, halfway between Kushiro and Abashiri, is Lake Kussharo, Japan’s largest caldera lake. Located in the Akan National Park, the lake freezes over in the winter with the exception of an area where a hotspring flows into the lake. In winter this warm spot is home to Whooper swans who escape to Kussharo’s warm water from the bitter cold of Siberia, Russia.

Getting There and Around Get to the village of Kawayu Onsen by train from Sapporo via Abashiro. The swans are at Kussharo Lake near the village of Kawayu, while the cranes are to the south, just north of Kushiro town. Local transport is a real challenge. Rental cars and taxis are prohibitively expensive and public transport, other than trains, almost non-existent. Take the 6 km walk from Kawayu to Kussharo Lake - try to hitch a ride. To see the cranes, there is a limited local bus service to the marshlands.

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In early winter the Whooper swans escape the bitter cold weather in Siberia, Russia, and fly down to Hokkaidoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Kussharo Lake, where hot springs keep part of the lake free from ice.

Japanese Tancho cranes (red-crowned crane) perform their love dances on the snow at the marshlands of the Kushiro Shitsugen National Park. 143


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Whooper swans on Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido. Known as “Japan’s Loch Ness”, after reported sightings of the lake monster called “Kusshii”, the lake offers a warm retreat in winter to the swans from Siberia. 145


Bulunkul Village TAJIKISTAN

31 Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

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In A Nutshell If you are looking to get away from the crazy civilised world, then head out to Bulunkul, Tajikistan - one of the most remote villages on earth. Located close to the shallow Bulunkul freshwater lake, this small village lies in the upper Gunt Valley of Tajikistan’s Pamir Mountains. The village is windswept and apparently one of the coldest villages in Tajikistan. The few houses, most with a small barn for their livestock, are clustered together. Its a dusty village with no paved streets. The simple houses are constructed from a mix of clay bricks, wood, stones, and mud, and even a few yurts. Have lunch with the locals in their modest home for a small fee. The woodstove will be sizzling in a short time to bake bread and mutton shashliks. Vodka flows at all times of the day. Spending time with these friendly folks is an unforgettable experience! The road past the village leads for 1.5 km to another freshwater lake named Yashilkul (Green Lake). If it is not laundry day for the village ladies with their kids, then the hot springs can offer a soothing soak. Both lakes are surrounded by wetlands as well as sand and pebble plains that form part of the ”Bulunkul and Yashilkul Lakes and Mountains Important Bird Area.”

Getting There and Around Bulunkul is very remote, which is why you should come here. The easiest option is to fly on the small plane from Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, to Khorog next to the Afghan border. From Khorog take a long drive along the Pamir Highway. A few minutes before the turn-off to Langer, turn left (north) into the Bulunkul Lake road. The village is 16 km from the Pamir Highway.

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The people of Bulunkul are accustomed to basic living in a windswept village that gets bitterly cold and snowy during the long winter months.

A few yurts serve as homes to some of the residents of Bulunkul. 147


A lonely yurt serves as a home to some of the residents of Bulunkul.

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32 Glaciers & Icebergs

ALASKA, USA

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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In A Nutshell Alaska is a vast state well known for its unrivalled and unspoilt nature. It is also known for its most impressive and most beautiful glaciers, in particular the Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay, the Spencer Glacier in the Kenai Mountains, the Matanuska Glacier along the Glenn Highway, and several glaciers in the Glacier Bay National Park, and around Prince William Sound. Alaska just has too many impressive glaciers to mention them all. You only truly appreciate these giants when you stand in front of them, at a safe distance, in particular when huge chunks break off and plunge into the sea waters. Another excellent way to appreciate them is to fly over Alaska. Only then can you see the massive scale of the glaciers. Compared with glaciers in Pakistan, Tibet, and Iceland, the Alaskan glaciers are generally more clear with less moraines (unconsolidated glacial debris of soil and rock). As many of the glaciers have their terminals into the sea, the best way to get close to them is by boat. Exit Glacier near Seward allows you to drive up to near the glacier and then to walk right up to it. Always be careful as glaciers are unpredictable and can be very dangerous.

Getting There and Around Fly into Anchorage and rent a car. Other than group tours, public transportation is limited. Roads are well maintained and accommodation is in abundance. Several tourist boats do day trips along the rugged east coast to see the glaciers and abundant wildlife such as bears, whales, sea otters, mountain goats, etc. Some small roads lead to surprisingly interesting places such as glaciertongues and bird colonies.

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The Holgate Glacier in the Kenai Fjords National Park near Seward.

Bear Glacier in the Kenai Mountains in Kenai Fjords National Park, as viewed from the air when flying on the Seattle to Tokyo route of Japanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s All Nippon Airways (ANA). 151


An American bald eagle sits on a drifting iceberg in Prince William Sound near the town of Whittier.

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33

Wildlife SOUTH AFRICA

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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In A Nutshell South Africa is known as “a world in one” where you can travel in a short time from the tropical rain forests to the snowy mountains, vast deserts, idyllic beaches, savannahs, and in many places you will be close to wildlife of all creeds and sizes. To see the Big Five (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and white/black rhinoceros) the best is to head up to the northern parts of the country. Stay in one of the many lodges and go on a big game trip with a 4-wheel drive vehicle. There are many national, provincial and private parks and reserves to choose from. The largest is Kruger National Park along the border with Mozambique. For a more exclusive experience, stay at one of the larger private parks nearby such as Sabi Sabi and Mala Mala, or choose a private lodge in a private game reserve. Large or small reserve, you will have an unforgettable time in South Africa’s bushveld. Fortunately you don’t only go to South Africa for the wildlife. The South African cuisine is excellent and so is the local’s hospitality. As you sip on your Cabernet Sauvignon while carving your biltong with a sharp knife, don’t forget to look up and spot the lions. Dinner will be served outside at the lapa and will be a braai with krummel pap and boerewors. Enjoy!

Getting There and Around It all depends on where you want to go! There are many game reserves all over South Africa but for the Big Five and other large wildlife it is best to visit a game reserve in the northern parts of South Africa as well as nearby Namibia and Botswana. From Johannesburg fly into a nearby town from where to drive by road to your chosen game reserve. Some game reserve only allow dedicated 4-wheel drive vehicles while others, such as the national parks, allow standard road vehicles.

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Three plains zebraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in the Leeupoort Private Game Reserve.

Two juvenile South African giraffe in the Mabula Private Game Reserve. 155


A white rhino in Mabula Private Reserve. Sadly most rhino’s had to be de-horned recently due to poaching. Every day rhinos are killed for their horns in Africa by poachers on demand of buyers mainly in China and Vietnam. These buyers use the horn fibre as an aphrodisiac and obviously turn a blind eye to the decimation of the species. This particular rhino may be dead by now, or luckily alive but without his horn.

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34 Ship Breaking Yards

BANGLADESH

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

** ** * ***** *****

In A Nutshell For a travel destination of a very different kind, Bangladesh offers the Ship Breaking Yards along the beach outside the city of Chittagong which is probably the largest and most primitive ship demolition yard in the world. Its only rivals are those at Gadani (Pakistan), Alang (India), and Aliağa (Turkey). Decommissioned ships from around the world come here to “die” in the shallow shores along the Bay of Bengal. Wealthy operators who sell the scrap metal to smelters, employ unskilled and often under-aged labourers at daily wages as low as US$2 per day. Child labourers generally get paid half the wage of adult workers. Most operators invest little in providing protection glasses and proper gloves. Basic tools such as hammers, chisels, and blow-torches are used, while only human labour is employed to carry massive steel sheets away from the ships. This is not a tourist attraction and most, if not all, operators will refuse entry to any camera-wielding visitor. Due to investigative journalism and negative press coverage, both local and international, you will need a local guide with good connections and persuasion skills. Photography is highly regulated, such as no photos of under-aged workers, or workers without safety equipment.

Getting There and Around From Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, fly southeast to Chittagong. The Ship Breaking Yards is not far outside the city but you must have a guide to take you there and tactfully arrange entrance to where the action is on the beach. Be very careful where you walk as this is a dangerous working area. Stay within the photography limits set by the manager.

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Large decommissioned ships are dismantled on the beach in a very primitive manner.

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Workers appear like midgets against these massive ships, but piece by piece they will dismantle this ship until nothing but small pieces are left for recycling.

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Ruins of Baalbek LEBANON

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In A Nutshell

Temple of Bacchus.

Located in the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, east of the Litani River, Baalbek is regarded as the finest example of Imperial Roman architecture at its apogee. It is also one of the most well preserved temple ruins in the Middle East. During its glory days, the city was known as Heliopolis. The ancient origin of Baalbek dates back about 9,000 years though Heliopolis came into existence around 334 B.C. The three gods that were worshipped here are Jupiter, Venus, and Bacchus. The most well preserves temple here was dedicated to Bacchus. Of the temple of Jupiter, only six Corinthian columns remain standing. The temple was 88 m long, 49 m wide, and surrounded by 54 massive columns. At 21 m high, the columns are the same height as a 6-storey building. During the 16th century Baalbek passed into the hands of the Ottoman Empire but then started its decline. The 1759 earthquake badly damaged the structures, and a 2006 attack by Israel on the Hezbollah terrorist organisation added more damage. Regardless, Baalbek remains a fairly well preserved ancient city and if you only visit one ancient city in the Middle East, it should be Baalbek. As the town of Baalbek is a major base for Hezbollah it is important to be vigil at all times.

Getting There and Around Baalbek is about 85 km northeast of Beirut, and 75 km north of Damascus, and can be reached by public bus. Buses terminate in Baalbek town where you will find acceptable accommodation. From town it is a short walk to the ruins. Make sure to leave the ruins before closing time or you will be locked in. With much yelling, someone may hear your cries for help and open the big steel gates. Warning: current hostilities in Gaza, Syria and Iraq makes Lebanon susceptible to violence.

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Above: The Great Court of the Temple of Jupiter (60 A.D.) is 135 m wide and 113 m long. Below: The “Six Corinthian Standing Columns” from the Temple of Jupiter.

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The Temple in honour of Bacchus (though it was traditionally referred to as the “Temple of the Sun”) is surrounded by forty-two columns nearly 20 m in height.

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36

Salvador da Bahia BRAZIL

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In A Nutshell Historically known as Cidade de São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos (City of the Holy Saviour of the Bay of all Saints) along the northeast coast of Brazil is a laid-back town known as Brazil’s “capital of happiness.” Bahia has a distinct African flavour and its the African influence that makes Bahia the centre of Afro-Brazilian culture in Brazil. About half of the population can trace back their ancestral heritage to Africa who were primarily Yoruba speakers from Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, and Togo. Salvador da Bahia is also famous for its annual street carnival, Afro-Brazilian culture, spicy Bahian food, music, endless beaches, and the Portuguese colonial architecture in the town’s centre known as “Pelourinho”. Pelourinho and its surrounding neighbourhoods abound with magnificent colonial palaces, churches and convents, most of them dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. Several eateries serve up traditional authentic local cuisine made with spicy African ingredients. Spend a few days here to enjoy the architecture, in particular at Largo do Pelourinho, Convento de Igreja de São Francisco (built between 1708-1723) and museums such as the Museu da Cidade in Pelourinho. Watch the impromptu capoeira performances in streets and parks.

Getting There and Around Comfortable long haul buses from Rio de Janeiro go north along the coast to Salvador. En route, make a few stops at some idyllic beaches with true Brazilian culture and character such as Ariel de Ajuda, Trancoso, and Porto Seguro. Alternatively take the 2-hour flight from Rio. Around town take a taxi which is more convenient and safer. This is not a safe city so be careful.

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Largo do Pelourinho (below) and the surrounding streets (above) are among the oldest and most colourful areas in the city. Several restaurants here serve up spicy Bahian food such as moqueca, acarajĂŠ and vatapĂĄ.

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Largo do Pelourinho is a small triangular square in the oldest part of the city. It is surrounded by colourful buildings, interesting shops, and restaurants that serve up traditional spicy Bahian cuisine.

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Cave Monastery MOLDOVA

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Your car and driver

In A Nutshell The Cave Monastery (Mănăstire în Peşteră) of Orheiul Vechi is arguably Moldova’s most interesting attraction and one of the world’s most secluded places of worship. Carved into a massive limestone cliff in this remote spot of Moldova, a few naturally open windows overlook onto the gently meandering Răut River. The monastery was dug by a few Orthodox monks in the 13th century and remained mostly inhabited until the 18th century. When the Soviets gained control over Moldova they shut it down but in 1996 a few Orthodox monks returned to restore the monastery so each monk now can have their own tiny stone bunk bed. They continue to slowly restoring both the monastery and the above-ground church built in 1905 and dedicated to the Ascension of St Mary. A tiny, highly atmospheric, chapel inside the monastery also acts as the village church.

Getting There and Around Take a local bus from Moldova’s capital, Chişinău, for an hour drive north towards the town of Orheiul Vechi or Trebujeni. Get off at the intersection to the village and walk for 7 km (or hitch a ride) to the monastery. Go early in the morning so you can return early afternoon as the public bus does not pass the intersection in the late afternoon.

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The monastery is carved into a limestone cliff and the naturally open windows overlook onto the Răut River.

The entrance steps leading down to the little chapel of the monastery. 173


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One of the resident monks at the Moldovaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Orheiul Vechi Cave Monastery.

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Guanajuato MEXICO

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The city tunnels roads

In A Nutshell Situated northwest of Mexico City, the city of Guanajuato is known for its beautiful setting, its colourful houses, its El Pípila statue on a nearby hill, and its unusual underground tunnels. Constant flooding in the 1700’s spurred the construction of large tunnels to contain and divert water overflows. After the reservoir (La Presa de Olla) construction in the 1960’s brought the flooding under control, the now dried tunnels were converted into underground roads. Guanajuato is also known for its colourful old town, and the funicular that goes up to the El Pípila statue on a nearby hill from where the view over the city is spectacular - day or night. Many guesthouses are located in historical buildings in the old town. Restaurants serve up authentic Mexican food. And then there are the Guanajuato mummies! These “accidental mummies” were unearthed between 1865 and 1958 since a local law required that relatives pay a grave tax. Most of the bodies in the cemetery were disinterred because many families could not be found or could afford to pay the tax. Some 120 mummies (which include the world’s smallest mummy - a foetus from a pregnant woman) are on show in a little museum on the outskirts of the city. Certainly worth a look if you have a strong stomach!

Getting There and Around Take a deluxe non-stop bus from Mexico City for the 5 hour trip north to Guanajuato. Walk around town and make sure to take a walk in some of the tunnel roads. To see the mummies, take a taxi or bus from downtown Guanajuato to the “Museo de las momias”, located high on a hill overlooking the city.  On the way to or from Mexico City, also stop over for a few nights at the nearby town of San Miguel de Allende, just about  60 km east of Guanajuato.

One of Guanajuato’s accidental mummies. 176

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View of the old part of Guanajuato City from the El PĂ­pila statue on a nearby hill.

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View of the old part of Guanajuato City from the El P铆pila statue on a nearby hill.

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39 Terra Cotta Warriors

CHINA

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In A Nutshell Just 20 km east of the town of Xi’an lies one of China’s most amazing attractions. Welcome to the Army of Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses which relatively recently became one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of modern times. Accidentally discovered by peasant farmers digging a water well in 1974, the “Terra Cotta Army” or the “Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses” is a large collection of terra cotta (clay-based unglazed ceramic) sculptures depicting the armies of Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di. Shortly after taking to the throne, Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di ordered more than 700,000 labourers to work on his tomb. Upon his death the land was in turmoil. As order broke down, rogue forces raided the pits where clay soldiers stood guard and plundered their real weapons. Interred for more than 2,150 years, an entire army of life-size terra cotta soldiers and horses have been standing just a few metres underground. Since the first discovery by the farmers, archaeologists have located some 600 pits with complex underground vaults. While much of the area still has to be excavated, what we can see today are three pits with some 1,900 terra cotta soldiers and their entourage.

Getting There and Around Fly into the international airport of Xi’an, or get here by bus, car or train from anywhere in China. From the main railway station a special fleet of buses frequently depart to the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum.

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A very small section of the Terra Cotta Warriors in Pit #1.

Pit #1 opened to visitors in 1979 and contains about 6,000 terra cotta figures of soldiers and beautiful statues of horses facing eastwards in a rectangular array, each one either armed with a spear, dagger or halberd. 181


The front rows of Terra Cotta Warriors in Pit #1.

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Fairy Chimneys TURKEY

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In A Nutshell The Cappadocia region in central Turkey is dotted with both natural and human made marvels. Humans have inhabited this area in early times (circa 1800 to 1200 B.C.) and the first record of the “Cappadocia” name dates from the late 6th century B.C.  Ancient volcanic eruptions 3 to 9 million years ago blanketed this region with thick ash, which over many years solidified into a soft rock, called tuff, which is tens of metres thick. Early inhabitants have carved a living in large underground caves as well as above ground in rock cavities formed by these volcanoes.  They have expanded these rock cavities into large homes, places of worship,  storehouses, and animal shelters. Rocks near Göreme have been eroded by wind and water into hundreds of pillars and minaret-like towers and are affectionately known as “love-valleys.” The erosion left only the harder elements behind which formed a fairy tale landscape of mushroom shaped cones, pillars, pinnacles, and chimney-like structures which stretch as far as 40 m high. Make sure to visit the 7-floor underground City of Derinkuyu (8th–7th B.C.) which is an underground city with a complex system of tunnels and large caves. Also visit the rock-carved churches along the canyon of the Ihlara Valley which date from the Byzantine period (395–1453).

Getting There and Around Take a train to the town of Kayseri and then a bus to the rock-carved towns of Göreme, Nevsehir, Avanos, or Urgüp where you will book into a cave-room guesthouse. These towns can also be reached via a bus from Kayseri airport, or a long-distance bus from Istanbul and Ankara. Walk and bike around the area. Take a bus to Derinkuyu and the Ihlara Valley. Spend at least a week here as there is much to explore.

The scenery around Uçhisar, Cappadocia. 184

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The “love-valleys” of Cappadocia were formed by wind and water erosion which left only the harder elements behind to form a fairy tale landscape with mushroom-like structures.

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“Love Valley” in Turkey’s Cappadocia region is home to some incredible rock structures formed by water and wind erosion.

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41 On Top of The World

NORWAY

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Ankenes near Narvik.

In A Nutshell The Lofoten archipelago in Norway’s Nordland region lies within the Arctic Circle but is known for its mild winters. For a few weeks in winter the sun does not rise, and in summer it does not set. Come here in mid summer to enjoy the “white nights” when you can explore the islands for 24 hours non-stop. Known for the tranquil villages and majestic mountains, these islands are also blessed with wildlife that include millions of sea birds such as the colourful puffins. Moose and otters also roam around. A common sight around the villages is the drying of unsalted cod, called “stockfish.” Back on the mainland is the beautiful town of Narvik. Hike up to the nearby hill for some stunning views over the town and the surroundings. I very scenic train rides to Narvik leaves twice a day from Luleå, northern Sweden, and passes by Kiruna where, in winter only, you can stop to experience the famous Swedish Icehotel. Take a bus from Narvik for a scenic drive to Tromsø, in the very far north of Norway.  This is a beautiful town, especially when viewed from nearby Storsteinen Mountain (421 m) which is reached by cable car. The winter scenery in northern Norway is stunning!

Getting There and Around To get to the remote Lofoten Islands in the northwest of Norway, take a 4-hour ferry ride from Bodø on the mainland to Moskenes on Lofoten. From Moskenes hitch a ride, or walk 6 km to the southern village of Å. Alternatively fly in from Narvik, Oslo, or Trondheim. Get around the islands by hiking and biking. Hitch a ride on the mail-boat from Reine for a scenic trip to tiny settlements. To get to Narvik take a train from Sweden or fly into Narvik. Reach Tromsø by bus from the south, or fly in from Oslo.

The town of Tromsø in the grip of winter. 188

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Colourful houses of Narvik. A hike up the snowy hill allows for some stunning views over the town and the nearby coastline and small settlements.

The beautiful village of Reine, in the southern part of the Lofoten Islands. A little further south is the tiny settlement of Ă&#x2026; which lies at the most southern end of the islands. 189


Covered by a blanket of snow, the northern town of Troms酶 as viewed from nearby Storsteinen Mountain (421 m) which is reached by cable car.

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42

Kotor Fjord MONTENEGRO

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In A Nutshell

Sveti Stefan.

The old Mediterranean port city of Kotor is located in the southern-most fjord in Europe in the Bay of Kotor, at the edge of the Adriatic Sea. Its location renders it as one of the most picturesque places in Europe. The old part of town (Stari Grad) is almost completely surrounded by the highly fortified city walls. The Stari Grad is one of the best preserved medieval towns in the Mediterranean and includes sites such as the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon built in 1166. Climb the 1,350 stairs to the top of nearby St. John’s (San Giovanni) mountain to get a breathtaking view from the St. John’s Castle. Along the hill-climb are many remnants of the old city and its ancient fortresses as well as the impressive Church of Our Lady of Remedy which dates from 1518. Take a day trip around the bay and visit the islets of Sveti Đorđe and close by Gospa od Škrpijela. These tiny islands are in the Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska). About 35 km south along the Adriatic Sea lies the idyllic Sveti Stefan - formerly a village island it was changed into a resort by the Tito regime and now is connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus with an Aman Resort.

Getting There and Around Montenegro is located south of Croatia and north of Albania. When travelling along this stretch of coast along the Adriatic Sea, take a bus to the town of Kotor. Hike around town, up the hills, and along the bay.

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Breathtaking views of Kotor from the nearby Mountain of St. Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (San Giovanni).

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Climbing the 1,350 steps to the top of the Mountain of St. John’s (San Giovanni) offers stunning views of Kotor’s red-roofed houses.

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43 Goroka SingSing Festival

Papua New Guinea

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In A Nutshell Every year in September, since 1957, the small Eastern Highlands town of Goroka turns into bright colours as the Papa New Guinean tribes come from across the country and its small islands, dressed in their traditional outfits, to dance in the Singsing festival. This is primarily to show off their colours and music to competing groups, while locals are enjoying the spectacle. This is not a show put together for international tourists, yet some travellers do attend and most everybody is mesmerised by this extraordinary festival. Among the groups who attend from across the main island of Papua New Guinea and several of its small islands are the Hela Wikman Koroba Singsing Group, Leremi Singsing Group, Junner Rolex Singsing Group and the Yaira Singsing Group. The people of Papua New Guinea are exceptionally friendly and warmly receive foreigner travellers with the highest respect. While it is an expensive country to most travellers, it is unquestionably one of the most incredible destinations on earth.

Getting There and Around Fly into the capital city, Port Moresby, from Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and a few other international destinations. From Port Moresby take a domestic flight on Air Niugini or on Airlines PNG to the town of Goroka in the Eastern Highlands. Accommodation in Port Moresby is extremely expensive, but less expensive in Goroka. The Lutheran Guesthouse in Goroka is more affordable and a very pleasant place for independent travellers.

Edinburgh Castle.

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44

Shughnan Village AFGHANISTAN

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In A Nutshell While Afghanistan is a country blessed with beautiful mountains and historical villages, much of the country is still too dangerous for most travellers. However, currently some areas have been declared safe enough for limited travel. The relatively safe northeastern region is best approached from the border crossings at either Khorog, Tajikistan or further south at Ishkoshim, Tajikistan. Get a tourist visa at the Afghan consulate in Khorog and head for the closest border crossing. A short taxi ride from the centre of Khorog drops the lone adventurer off at a narrow bridge across the Panj River to the Afghan side. Here both the Tajik and Afghan immigration officials are friendly and will be most surprised to see a tourist crossing. Once stamped on the Tajik side, walk across the short, narrow bridge to the Afghan side where you will go through similar procedures. The nearby village of Shughnan is about a five kilometre hike from the border crossing north along the Panj River. Take it slow and explore the village. The people are friendly and with many police carrying machine guns, the place should be safe enough. Overnight with a friendly local family and enjoy the culture exchange!

Getting There and Around Fly from Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe, to the small town of Khorog and then cross the border into Afghanistan on foot. Walk about 5 km north of the border crossing along the Panj River to reach the small mountain village. Hiking around the village is best done on foot, and better if you have a new local friend to walk with you.

People typically sleep on the floor with all unmarried boys and men in the family sleeping in one room and the unmarried girls and women in another room. Even socialising tends to be separated.

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The walk from the Tajik-Afghan border crossing along the Panj River passes through some beautiful farmland and mountain scenery on both sides of the river, which serves as the border.

The market at the village of Shughnan is very authentic and have not changed much over many years. 205


The people of Shughnan live very basic and most are quite friendly, albeit totally amazed to see a foreign traveller.

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Sarajevo BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA 45

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In A Nutshell

Ćevapčić and Ayran.

Sarajevo is known for the place that sparked World War 1 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria at the Latin Bridge. Sarajevo is sadly also remembered as one of the burning points of the Bosnian War of the early 1990’s which left unforgettable scars on the town’s modern history. Both Sarajevo and Mostar suffered heavy losses of human life. The many white graves dated between 1992 and 1995 will stand testament of this war for many years to come. More than 20 years after the end of the Bosnian War, many buildings remain in disrepair and bullet holes can be seen on buildings across these towns. Now peaceful, these towns and their surrounding rolling hills and valleys have a special charm not to be missed. The surrounding area is beautiful, in particular the train ride all the way from the coast to Mostar and on to Sarajevo. Have some Ćevapčić and pilsner every day! Also try the famous Ayran yogurt drink.

Getting There and Around A 10-hour overnight train from Zagreb (Croatia) goes through Sarajevo, then arrives a few hours later in Mostar and terminates along the Adriatic Sea at Ploce in Croatia. Sarajevo can also be reached by train from Budapest (Hungary) and Belgrade (Serbia). The train ride between Sarajevo and Mostar is particularly scenic.

Graveyard in Sarajevo

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From a nearby hill Sarajevo looks peaceful. Hard to think that so many people died here just about 20 years ago.

Sarajevoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Latin Bridge where Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassination on June 28, 1914 which started World War I. 209


The Bosnian War lasted from 6 April 1992 to 14 December 1995. Now Sarajevo is peaceful but white graves of so many young men who died are evident of the many casualties of war, estimated widely between 25,000 and 329,000.

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46 Islamic Architecture

BORNEO ISLAND

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In A Nutshell

Kota Kinabalu’s City Mosque.

Borneo Island is the third-largest island in the world, and is divided among three countries: Brunei, Malaysia, and the largest area (73%), is part of Indonesia. While the island is more known for its tropical rain forests (and destruction thereof), Borneo is lesser known for the incredible architecture of its religious buildings, particularly in Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Seri Begawan. Kota Kinabalu is the capital of the state of Sabah, located in East Malaysia, which is on the northern side of Borneo Island. Kota Kinabalu’s two most impressive mosques are the City Mosque (completed in 2000) and the older Sabah State Mosque (1974). Bandar Seri Begawan is the capital and largest city of the Sultanate of Brunei, bounded by the state of Sarawak in East Malaysia and Brunei Bay. The city is known for two impressive mosques: the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque (1958), and the Jame’asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque (1992). While the architecture is impressive, Borneo has much to offer travellers such as the rain forest, wildlife, idyllic islands with great diving, and an interesting culture with good food.

Getting There and Around Both Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Seri Begawan can easily be reached via major Asian hubs such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Hong Kong, as well as by flights from selected European and Middle Eastern cities. The major mosques are all located in the cities. To get into the country-side and jungle, take a domestic flight, rent a car with or without driver, or take public buses.

Sunset over Pulau Tiga, south of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

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Kota Kinabalu’s City Mosque on Likas Bay is based on the design of the Nabawi Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Surrounded by a man-made lagoon, it has the nickname of “The Floating Mosque”.

Built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the sultan’s reign, the Jame’asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan city is the largest mosque in Brunei. It is locally referred to as the Kiarong Mosque. 213


The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Brunei is considered to be one of the most beautiful mosques in Asia, and even in the world. It is a fusion of Mughal architecture and Italian styles and features a very impressive golden dome, an interior of Italian marble walls, granite from China, crystal chandeliers from England, and some of the most beautiful carpets from Saudi Arabia.

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Warsaw Old City POLAND

47 Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

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In A Nutshell Known as a “Phoenix City” with reference to Greek mythology in which a ‘phoenix’ or ‘phenix’ is a long-lived bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn, Warsaw has survived countless wars throughout its long history. One example: After World War II when about 85% of the city was destroyed, the city had to be rebuilt almost from scratch. Now Warsaw is known for its palaces, aristocratic residences, mansions, royal gardens and grand parks. However, apart from the Old Town centre, Warsaw is a relatively young and refreshing city. In the Old Town look for the Royal Castle with the King Zygmunt’s Column, Market Square, and the Barbican historic fortifications. Nearby on the Royal Route is the Presidential Palace and about 15 km south of the Old Town is the orange-and-green Wilanów Palace. The Kabaty Forest is located in Ursynów, the southernmost district of Warsaw, and a tranquil retreat away from the city life.

Getting There and Around Fly into Warsaw from many European cities, or arrive by bus or train. The public transport in the city is reasonably good so just explore the city on foot and by public transport.

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Rynek Starego Miasta, also known as the Old Town Market Place is the oldest part of Warsaw. Blown up by the German Army in 1944 it has been beautifully restored.

Alleys close to the Rynek Starego Miasta, Old Town, Warsaw. 217


The colourful Rynek Starego Miasta in Warsaw’s Old Town.

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48 Dubai & Burj Khalifa

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Intrepid Index

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In A Nutshell Located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai is one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). As a relatively young city, Dubai was formally established on June 9, 1833, when the Bani Yas tribe moved from Emirate of Nejd, the second Saudi state, to the Dubai Creek. It officially became part of the UAE in 1971 and quickly developed into an important trading hub in the region. Since then the city has emerged as a cosmopolitan metropolis and now claims “world city status.” Over the past ten years, Dubai has invested billions of dollars to put itself on the world map by becoming symbolic for its skyscrapers, most notably holding the current title of the “world’s tallest building”, the Burj Khalifa. In fact, it holds several official records, including being the “Tallest existing structure”, “Tallest structure ever built”, “Building with most floors”, “World’s highest nightclub”, “World’s highest restaurant”, “World’s second highest swimming pool at the 76th floor”, etc. Reaching a whopping height of 829 m (to top of the antenna) after five years of construction, the Burj Khalifa was completed in on October 1, 2009 and officially opened on January 4, 2010. The highest outdoor public viewing platform is on floor 124.

Getting There and Around Dubai is a major hub for international air travel, so getting to Dubai is easy. Getting around Dubai is a bit more tricky. Only two lines (Red Line and Green Line with 49 stations) of the subway train, the Dubai Metro, winds through the city. Beyond the reach of the metro it is best to take a taxi, and some limited bus services.

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The towering Burj Khalifa with a floor area of 309,473 m2 rises high above the desert sand around Dubai.

The 63 storey (306 m) Burj Dubai Lake Hotel is dwarfed alongside the 163 storey (829 m) high Burj Khalifa. 221


Views of Dubai from the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa.

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49 Architectural Masterpieces

Malta

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In A Nutshell On most maps of the world, the Republic of Malta appears as a tiny dot in the Mediterranean Sea, if it appears at all. Located almost in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea (south of Sicily and east of Tunisia), Malta is one of the smallest countries in the world, but also one of the most densely populated with a rich history to match. Among its past rulers are the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Sicilians, Knights of St John, French and the British. With nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this is a country not to be missed. Travel all around the main island and also visit nearby islands to explore the rich history. In most places it feels like life has not changed in a 100 years. Little coffee shops, grandeur historical buildings and churches, all make it a very special destination. Don’t miss the ancient walled capital of Malta called Città Vecchia (the Mdina) with a history that goes back to over 4000 B.C. The present Norman and Baroque architecture dates back to between 870 to 1091. The 1693 earthquake destroyed many buildings but were subsequently rebuilt. Also visit Marsaxlokk fishing village, and Dwejra Bay on the pretty Gozo Island.

Getting There and Around A couple of airlines fly into Malta International Airport in Luqa. Rent a car and drive around the island. Every night sleep at a different village, or remain based in one place from where to travel daily. Public transportation is not extensive and would be a waste of time if you want to get to the more exciting parts of Malta.

Marsaxlokk fishing village.

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Marsaxlokk fishing village in the southeastern part of Malta is known for its colourful fishing boats and bustling Sunday market.

Church of Saint John the Baptist (The Rotunda) in the village of Xewkija, Gozo island. Built from Maltese stone and consecrated in 1755, it claims to be the third largest unsupported dome in the world. 225


Buildings around Malta’s Grand Harbour. This natural harbour has been in use since at least the Phoenician times, around the 10th century B.C.

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50 Red City of Dubrovnik

CROATIA

Intrepid Index Ease of Access Safety Excitement Level Budget Friendly

*

**** ****½ ** ***½ ½

Accommodation Transportation Food and Drinks Local Hospitality Extraordinary Level

**** **** ***½ *** ***

In A Nutshell Founded in the 7th century, or even earlier, on a rocky island named Laus, the city of Dubrovnik is among the 10 best preserved medieval walled cities in the world. Located on the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik was spared during World War II but sadly received heavy damage from shelling during the breakup of Yugoslavia while besieged by the Serb-Montenegrin forces. The town has a rich history that spans over millennia. Today’s Dubrovnik is unfortunately rich with busloads of tourists as well as immigrants who have settled more permanently. Regardless, Dubrovnik is a beautiful sight, in particular when viewed from the nearby hills when you can’t see the hordes of tourists and tourists shops. As you look from afar, just imagine what life would have been like back in the 13th to 18th centuries. Best is to do a homestay with the friendly locals outside Dubrovnik and then to visit the old town very early in the morning, or in the evenings to avoid the bus- and boatloads of tourists. A walk on the path atop the city walls offers a bird’s-eye view of the city. Nearby islands, such as Lokrum Island, can be visited on day trips.

Getting There and Around Many people visit Dubrovnik on a stopover of their luxury boat trips along the Adriatic coast. A better way is to travel northbound by bus from Albania and Montenegro, or southbound from Zagreb and Split. Small ferries cover nearby islands, while larger ferry boats pick up and drop off passengers at a string of islands along the Adriatic coast. An area worth discovering.

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The walled city of Dubrovnik as seen from a nearby hill.

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Dubrovnic looks so peaceful when viewed from high up on a nearby hill.

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GLOBEROVERS

The magazine for the intrepid traveller Volume 2 · Number 2 · December 2014

www.globerovers-magazine.com

Special Edition: 50 Incredible Destinations

Special Edition

50 Incredible Destinations The intrepid traveller’s essential list of must-do destinations in 2015

Bolivia - Salt lakes and wildlife of Uyuni Ecuador - Fearless animals of Galapagos Islands Svalbard - Dog sledding near the North Pole Nepal - Trekking to Mount Everest basecamp Papua New Guinea - Goroka Sing-Sing Festival VOL. 2 · NO. 2 December 2014

Greenland - Inuit settlement at Kulusuk Kyrgyzstan - Jailoos and glacial lakes Afghanistan - Remote mountain villages Yemen - Time stands still at “Manhattan of the desert” ... and 41 other destinations ranked on 10 criteria

Globerovers Magazine available at:

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Globerovers Magazine, Dec 2014  

This 4th edition (December 2014) of Globerovers Magazine is a Special Edition which lists 50 of the most incredible destinations to visit in...

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