More and more, travelers don’t want to spend their vacations lying down on the beach; they want to live it up on mountaintops, through rushing rivers, in ancient ruins, or soaring over the scenery in a helicopter, on a zip line, or with a parachute. Whether your adventure involves cycling, wildlife watching, kayaking, skiing, climbing, or caving, Latin America is a prime locale. Thrill seekers, get ready and put one, two, or all five of these destinations on your itinerary.

  1. Galapagos. Not only is this region of the world incredibly rich in wildlife, including many endemic species, it offers a variety of fun ways to enjoy the local scenery. Visitors can cruise, walk, hike, snorkel, swim, kayak, and cycle as they absorb the sights and sounds of nature. You can accommodate any fitness level, from children to extreme mountain biker, at this stunning destination.
  2. San Salvador. Gorgeous scenery and interesting architecture greet visitors to El Salvador’s capital, which is just a short trip to sites like Joya de Ceren. This Mayan complex invites you to step back in time and explore ancient culture. Also close are beaches, ripe for canoeing, swimming, surfing – and even some lounging after a tough day of exploring volcanic rock cliffs.
  3. Costa Rica. Take a “canopy” tour, which is an exhilarating zip line ride over the rainforest; go for a night jungle walk (with a guide!) to see the nocturnal animals most visitors miss; and ride the rapids. There are leisurely raft rides for families – and terrifying white water versions for old pros. Either way, soak in the scenery. Literally! Reward yourself for hanging on with a soak in a mineral-infused hot spring.
  4. Peru. If adventure means meeting diverse and interesting people, Peru is for you. Peru hosts over 3,000 festivals each year, and most celebrate the culture and religion of its people. One of the most exuberant is the feast of the Virgen de la Candelaria. Held in Puna in February, visitors will witness the famous “Devil Dancers,” bright, colorful costumes, dance groups, lively music, and a procession featuring an image of the Virgin.
  5. Wine Tours of Argentina and Chile. If adventure is trying new things, why not indulge in culinary thrills? Find a tour, or create your own, that winds through the backcountry and cities of Argentina and Chile. Along the way, you will sample not only the finest wines and foods, but nature’s best as well as the beautiful scenery glides by.

Latin America has something to offer everyone, no matter what their definition of “adventure”!

Australia is world famous for its rugged Outback, but it has more than its share of sophisticated cities. Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and others offer cosmopolitan charm with a distinctive Aussie flavor. Sydney, though, retains a special spot in the hearts of world travelers. The oldest and largest of Australia’s urban centers, Sydney is home to iconic architecture, awe-inspiring natural beauty and wildlife, diverse culture, and many of Australia’s most revered historical landmarks. A visit gives you the opportunity to do everything from shopping for designer clothes and taking in a show to surfing at Bondi or paddling down the Georges River.

There is something for everyone in this dynamic city. But there is also something everyone must do: visit the Sydney Opera House! This is arguably the most famous opera house in the world, and with over 40 different shows each week, there is certainly a performance for you. In addition, you can dine and shop in the historic building. You can also enjoy the unique architecture from the outside with a boat tour of Sydney Harbour or by simply walking (make your end stop the Royal Botanic Gardens – a refreshing treat after the Australian heat!).

Sydney Harbour Bridge offers an abundance of activities in itself. You can walk or bike and work off an extraordinary meal, or bring your extraordinary meal there and picnic under the bridge. These activities are free and provide stunning views of the city. Other items of interest are the Olympic Park, Darling Harbour, Luna Park (a theme park), the Rocks (preserved from early Sydney settlements), and a variety of museums and art galleries.

Nature lovers are in luck: Sydney may be a city, but its furry and four-legged friends have not all moved out. Some, like the residents of the Taronga Zoo, have views the rest of us envy. Visit giraffe, koala, leopard seals, lemurs, lion, elephant, ostrich, emu, and other favorites and listen in on one of the expert talks. Bring sunscreen and a picnic, and you have a great day ahead of you. Other parks include the Koala Park Sanctuary, the Sydney Aquarium, and Sydney Wildlife World. If you are up for a drive, try the Australian Reptile Park to see the native wallabies, kangaroos, and dingos. You might also keep an eye on Darling Harbour or the Circular Quay for whales.

Sydney is one of the world’s most exciting, hospitable cities. You will never lack for adventure – or leisure!

Visitors from all over the world are drawn to the stunning scenery and mystical culture, steeped in history and tradition, of Southeast Asia. Laos and Cambodia are a true travelers’ dream. If you need to get away, these two nations are as “away” as you can get. Forget the smartphones, computers, tablets, and gadgets: in Laos and Cambodia, you can get lost in the beauty of the land and in the hospitality of its pleasant people.

Cambodia is rapidly becoming a prime tourist destination, particularly at its most famous site, Angkor Wat. The Buddhist temple complex is not only a stunning feat of architecture; it has great religious and cultural importance as well. As much as visitors love the ruins, natives respect and revere it. In the middle of the jungle, the connection between man and nature is deeply felt; despite a crowd (over half a million people visit Angkor Wat each year), it is an ideal place to reflect and enjoy a quiet sunset.

Laos, too, offers an exceptional experience at its Pha That Luang temple in Vientiane. Dating from the third century, the gold-covered stupa has been kept up, and its striking appearance is a source of great pride for the Lao people.  Another stop worth taking: the Patuxay Monument, also in Vientiane. It is often referred to as Laos’s “Arc de Triomphe.” It is, in fact, modeled after the French monument, but it is embellished with Buddhist mythological characters.

Many of Laos and Cambodia’s greatest attractions are similarly connected with spirituality and religion and invite the guest, if he or she wants, to reflect. The pace of life is much slower than in the Western world, and in many areas, it is untouched by digital gadgets and constant connectivity. Disconnecting from our phones gives us the chance to connect with the wonders of these two unique nations.

You have a gold mine of natural beauty and cultural sites at your fingertips. One of the best aspects of visiting Laos and Cambodia is that it is budget-friendly. Accommodations, food, attractions, and souvenirs are cheap, especially compared with many European, central Asian, and North American destinations.

Why not stay a day or two, or a week or two, longer? In this corner of the world, it is possible to get lost in the history and the beauty –in fact, you’ll find it very difficult to leave!

Brazil is blessed with great natural beauty and biodiversity, but its cities are every bit as lively, vibrant, interesting, and gorgeous as its rainforests. Filled with interesting activities, fascinating cultures, ancient traditions, and modern amenities, Brazil’s top cities manage both to sate visitors’ thirst for adventure and leave them wanting more.

Just a few wonderful Brazilian cities not to be missed:

1. Rio de Janeiro. Brazil’s most famous city, Rio de Janeiro is home to remarkable beaches, nightclubs, restaurants, museums, galleries, shops, restaurants, and much more. Ideally situated, the city offers the best of all worlds with thrilling natural beauty and equally enticing manmade attractions. Only 15 minutes away, you can explore the rainforest in the Parque Nacional de Tijuca or take the train to Corcovado for stunning views from the mountain peak. Back in town, you can enjoy sidewalk cafes, try your hand – or feet – at samba with a lesson, or take a nap and get ready for the famed nightlife of Copacabana and Ipanema. There is no shortage of fun activities or relaxing opportunities in Rio de Janeiro.

2. Sao Paulo. They say Sao Paulo works so the rest of Brazil can play. It is the business center of the country, but don’t let that fool you: paulistanos know how to have fun. While the city is at work, wander through its many museums, including the Museo de Arte de Sao Paulo, and parks, including the gorgeous Parque Ibirapuera. Take in a futebol match or a race at the Sao Paulo Jockey Club or while the afternoon away shopping at malls or markets. When the sun goes down, choose from an array of ethnic restaurants, and hit the nightclubs.

3. Recife. A gorgeous truly Brazilian city, Recife offers visitors an eclectic, vibrant mix of seaside fun, artistic and cultural vitality, and thriving business. The city has retained its historic charm, which you can experience for yourself by strolling through the old city. The many treasures include the Teatro Santa Isabel, Catedral de Sao Pedro dos Clerigos, the Basilica de NS da Penha, and the lively Mercado do Sao Jose. Exciting festivals and nightlife complement the languorous pace of the beach, and many consider Recife the cultural heart of Brazil with its love of traditional arts, crafts, music, and dance. An entire vacation can be happily spent here!

Explore Brazil’s top cities and discover why they are among the world’s best treasures.

Machu Picchu! When you ask 100 people what to do in Peru, 100 will say, “Visit Machu Picchu!” It Is one of the most stunning destinations in the world, shrouded in mist and carved into a Peruvian mountaintop. But it is just one of Peru’s many treasures. Go, hike, take the scenic train in, snap plenty of pictures, and enjoy this remarkable Incan city – and then venture back down the mountain to try something different!

Trek through the Amazon

More than half of Peru’s land is occupied by the steamy jungle, and you can hike, trek, kayak, canoe, and explore this wild world. What’s hiding in the lush greenery? You can hear them, often, before you see them, and the cacophony of nature shuts out all other distractions. Joining a tour helps you get the most from your trek through the rainforest, and staying at a lodge allows you to hear the nocturnal residents wake up and start their “day.”

Hit the Beach in Mancora

If your jungle trek has left you hot and sweaty, or if you’d prefer to skip hot and sweaty and go right to relaxed and refreshed, a visit to Mancora is in order. The resort town is home to white sandy beaches and striking turquoise water. Top-notch lounging and sunbathing are available, as is excellent surfing. It is not unusual to feel as though you have the beach to yourself during the day, but then have throngs of people come out to enjoy the nightlife. The best of both worlds! Luxury accommodations and restaurants round out Mancora’s many charms.

Visit Historic Cusco

Cusco has a variety of cultural sites and museums so you can brush up on your Peruvian history. Less busy ruins at Inka Wasi, pre-Columbian architecture in the city center, and the famous Hatun Rumiyoq Street offer a glimpse into the wonderful identity of the city. Visit thriving markets for unbeatable bargains – and pickpockets, so keep a tight hold on your money! Hit the Museo Irki Yachay to see textiles and a display of art created by children from remote Andean villages, watch a show at the ICPNA, and grab a bite to eat at one of the many excellent restaurants. Often, people pass through Cusco on their way to Machu Picchu, but it is very much worth a visit.

Peru offers visitors adventure, beauty, and marvels around every corner. Whether you’re on a mountaintop or in the middle of a city square, you will find plenty to do in Peru.

Patagonia: synonymous with adventure, rugged landscapes, and diversity. An amalgamation of European settlers from the 19th century and native peoples such as the Mapuche and Tehuelche, Patagonia’s geography is just as diverse. From the soaring Andes mountains to the endless expanse of plains, and from the Pacific to the Atlantic, this small region is home to remarkable variety. For visitors, this ensures a vacation of a lifetime.

Patagonia is an isolated region; it is only now becoming a prime destination for upscale adventure-seekers. With towns like El Chaltens it is easy to see why. Surrounding mountains offer a nature-lover’s playground with hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, ice climbing, and other activities. After a day defying death and extreme temperatures, relax at one of the area’s many restaurants and cafes. If you have a sweet tooth, a visit to La Chocolatería Josh Aike is in order. Sample the chocolate factory’s “hot” chocolate or fondue and wine. If you over-indulge, you can always work it off with an extra hike!

To spot some of the native wildlife, head to Punta Tombo. This 200-hectre reserve is home to the Magellanic penguin, king and rock cormorant, black oystercatchers, and other species. Don’t get too close: penguins may look cute and cuddly, but they have a pretty fierce bark! If you’re looking for something a bit larger, Puerto Madryn offers some of the best whale watching in the world. The magnificent animals breed in the warm waters between June and December and are out in numbers.

History buffs will love Cueva de las Manos. A Unesco World Heritage site, the cave features rock paintings dating from 7370 BC. A tour guide will bring you back in time as you see the evolution of the art – and of the people who created it. The tour is free, and if you pack a lunch, you have a fun-filled day that costs very little while giving you much back.

Whether you visit Cabo Dos Bahias Nature Reserve to see more penguins, marvel at the Glaciar Perito Moreno, or go to Capillas de Marmol to see the most achingly blue water and amazing stone formations, you will be seeing the best of Patagonia, and you can be assured there will always be something as exciting around the next corner. Wildlife, natural beauty, and sophisticated city life exist peacefully together and create a unique destination for the adventure traveler.

There are hundreds of waterfalls throughout Costa Rica, many of which are not accessible to the public. If you search hard enough, you can find a few destinations that do allow visitors. Because of the natural geography of the peninsula, rainwater flows towards the Montezuma side, so there are many waterfalls with water year round. Most of these have swimming holes, two have rope swings, and one is perfect for cliff diving.

Montezuma Falls

Montezuma Falls is considered the most famous waterfall in Costa Rica. It is actually comprised of three separate falls. To get to the first falls, you will want to begin at the ocean near Hotel Amor and trek up the river for about 10 to 20 minutes until you reach the highest waterfall, which has a huge swimming hole. To reach pool 2 and 3, you must climb up a steep path to the right of pool 1 and follow a trail up and to the right. Soon you will find a steep trail leading down. At this point, you will be between pool 2 and 3.

 

Delicias Falls

Not far from Montezuma Falls is a beautiful cascade known as Delicias Falls. Located in the next river valley to the south, this 40 meter high fall is relatively secluded and you might be the only one to visit it all day. These falls have a series of small depressions filled with water, perfect for romantic moments that nobody will be watching but the howling monkeys.

 

Cocolito Falls

Cocolito Falls is a magical place located about a two hour hike away from Montezuma. Should you decide to take the trip, you won’t be disappointed. These falls are very beautiful and can often be seen with a rainbow in them. The beach just before Cocolito is a perfect cove complete with white sand and turquoise water. Try to make the trip as early in the morning as possible. It is a very hot walk down the beach. Keep your eyes peeled, you are very likely to see wild animals on the beach at that time of day.

 

Montezuma is a place that attracts free spirited travelers for its mystical ambiance. You will definitely want to pay a visit when visiting Costa Rica.

Traveling is a wonderful way to bond with your loved ones and create shared memories that will become centerpieces of family stories for years to come. But where to go? It can be difficult to choose a destination that really does have something for everyone. You want it to be kid-friendly – but it’s your vacation, too! You want to expose your children to world wonders, nature, culture, and, most importantly, fun. Here are a few suggestions that will deliver all of this, and much more.

South Africa

Zoos are always a favorite destination for children, so why not one-up that? Game reserves in South Africa offer the rare opportunity to see magnificent animals that most other kids see only in artificial habitats. At Madikwe Game Reserve, for instance, they will get a chance to see how the Cape hunting dog, spotted hyena, giraffe, zebra, antelope, elephant, rhino, and lion act in the wild. It is also malaria-free, so you can feel more comfortable about taking your family on this wonderful adventure.

New Zealand

Fun, and sun, for the whole family! Swimming with dolphins appeals to the kid in all of us, and lounging on the beach, watching your kids play in the surf certainly has its appeal. Fish for trout, charter a boat, explore historic cities, go whale-watching, kayak up the Avon River, hike the coastline, or take a helicopter tour. There is no shortage of family-friendly activities – but you may want to bring a babysitter with you so you can sneak off to go bungee-jumping, skydiving, or visit one of the many wineries!

Chile

Pick your level of adventure. If you have young children, you can choose easy, meandering hikes in Torres del Paine National Park. Your family will have the opportunity to explore the Chilean Patagonia and its abundant wildlife. If your children are older, you can opt for multi-day hikes with stays at hostels for a shower and a bunk for the night. After roughing it, a trip to Santiago is in order. Wonderful food helps you build your energy for more adventures, and markets provide the opportunity to pick up some authentic Chilean souvenirs. Santiago has a host of museums, parks, and playgrounds to enjoy as well.

When you travel with your family, these, and many other, destinations offer excitement for everyone. Activities can be tailored to meet the needs of even very young children –and even very jaded teenagers! – and you will relive the fun again and again.

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