Belmond Royal Scotsman, Edinburgh

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If you haven’t yet spent an entire vacation aboard a moving hotel-train hybrid, you’re missing out. The Belmond Royal Scotsman is a once-in-a-lifetime intimate travel experience comprised of private cabins, a cool, lounge-like observation car, and a spa; the train accommodates just 40 passengers and makes great stops along the journey through the Highlands. You can design your own itinerary, choosing from excursions like the Strathisla Distillery in Keith, the Rothiemurchus Estate for some clay pigeon shooting, and of course, an opportunity to explore a giant castle or two in true Scottish fashion, plus much more. This beautifully designed time machine will sweep you off your feet, both figuratively and literally.

GETTING THE MOST OUT A MORNING IN GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK SOUTH RIM

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Racing across the U.S. to see as many sights as possible isn’t always the best thing to do with kids on a road trip. There is a lot to see in the state of Arizona. No matter if you are passing through or on a cross-country road trip  across the country a stop at the Grand Canyon is a must. Even if you only have  a morning to check it out.

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Start out your Grand Canyon adventure on the South Rim pull into the parking spot outside of Yavapai Lodge in the park. This will be your home for the night. 

EL TOVAR ON THE GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK SOUTH RIM

El Tovar Hotel is the place to stay in the Grand Canyon. As one of the Fred Harvey Company hotels opened in 1905, it is still considered one of the top park lodges in the nation. You might get lucky enough to snag a room before it is booked up, but if not, you could have breakfast there. 

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HOPI HOUSE AT THE GRAND CANYON


Glass Skywalking Around Tianmen Mountain, China

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A new glass walkway in China that winds along the cliff of Tianmen Mountain is now open to the public.

Called the Coiling Dragon Cliff skywalk, the 100-m walkway clings to the side of the mountain in Hunan’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.


The walkway is opened to  public visitors brave enough to venture along the path.


It is the third glass walkway in the Tianmen Mountain. The park already has a glass bridge that spans 430 m over a canyon.


At least 4000 feet in the air (4700 feet above sea level), a three-foot-wide walkway clings to one face of Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie, China, above a rocky ravine. With a glass bottom, the tourist attraction provides a crystal-clear view of where one wrong step could take you.


Your Perfect Week in Alaska

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Article by Jett

Alaska’s capital is so much more than a quick cruise-ship stop. From glaciers to islands and alpine trails, here’s how to spend a week in Juneau.


Day 1: Juneau

Alaska has miles of gorgeous, wild territory to cover, so use Juneau as your base to explore the state. Jump start the trip with a cup of locally roasted Heritage Coffee. (In case you need an extra jolt, there’s outposts all over downtown.) Then, stroll past the many food trucks and carts on South Franklin St as you make your way to Alaskan Crepe Escape to try the Greek, with feta, hummus, artichoke, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives. Once you’re fueled up, buy a ticket for the Mount Roberts Tramway. The scenic ride up is short, but the best panoramic views are at the top, where you can see over Juneau, Gastineau Channel and the craggy Boundary Range in the distance. After exploring Mount Roberts, rest your weary soles on the deck at Tracy’s King Crab Shack while devouring a platter of their famed King Crab Legs and sipping an ice cold Alaskan Brewing Company beer.


Day 2: Skagway


Hop the ferry — or take a propeller plane, if you’re feeling adventurous — to spend the day in Skagway, 100 miles north of Juneau. Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted at the visitor’s center, an odd building covered in nearly 9,000 pieces of driftwood. From there, take in Alaska’s historic role in the Gold Rush at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park and the Gold Camp Cemetery. (Another don’t-miss stop nearby is the scenic Lower Reid Falls; trust us, you’ll want the insta-shot.) Round out the afternoon on a bike tour with Sockeye Cycle, where you’ll pedal through the foggy, quaint streets of Skagway before heading back to Juneau.


Day 3: Tracy Arm Fjord and Sawyer Glacier


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The morning sets off bright and early on a catamaran cruise to Tracy Arm Fjord and Sawyer Glacier with Allen Marine Tours. The trip, which lasts five to seven hours depending on weather conditions, drifts by a rugged landscape of cobalt blue icebergs, waterfalls and jagged cliffs. Keep your eyes peeled for the rare black bear and whale sighting. After the chilly journey, pull at a stool at The Alaskan Bar, where the locals mingle with visitors over a pint and some live music.


Day 4: The Flume and Perseverance Trail


While there are thousands of trails throughout the state, Juneau has its own set of paths worth walking. Make your way to the Golden Creek Flume, an easy network of raised wooden planks surrounded by towering cedar, fir and spruce trees. Want a real challenge? Trek up the steep Perseverance Trail, taking a break at one of the 12 bridges to look out over the waterfalls, streams and emerald green growth. All that exercise works up an appetite, so grab a bowl of chowder and watch the seaplanes take off from the waterfront deck at Alaskan Fish & Chips Company


Day 5: Ice caves and Mendenhall Glacier


When in Alaska, you really can’t get enough of the glaciers. And Alaska Shore Excursions gets you up close and personal with the impressive Mendenhall Glacier. You’ll kayak across the lake, then strap on crampons (ice climbing boots) to summit the glacier and wander through the electric blue ice caves. Defrost from the day’s adventures by cozying up at The Rookery, an art gallery, restaurant and cafe trifecta in Juneau.


Day 6: Douglas Island


Just across Gastineau Channel is Douglas Island, which has a small, rustic community on one side and miles of untouched back country on the other. Take off for a five-mile jaunt up to Mt. Jumbo Trail, where you’ll be greeted with sweeping vistas of Juneau at the peak. Back at the base, hit The Island Pub for the freshly baked focaccia bread and the Alaskan Fudge Co.  for a sweet, chocolatey treat (we love the Klondike Walnut).

Day 7: Tongass National Forest


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Spend your last day fishing for salmon and halibut. You’ll even get a to-go gift, as most boats will ship the day’s catch back home for you. To get the full Alaskan experience, take refuge in one of the secluded Turner Lake Cabins in the Tongans National Forrest . Light a campfire and cook the Sockeye you snagged earlier, to be enjoyed under the stars.


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Where Sustainable Travel Is Headed in 2017

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Article Contributer New York Times


Sustainable tourism — bringing global awareness to travel and putting it into action — is a top priority for the United Nations this year. The organization has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.There were nearly 1.2 billion international travelers in 2015, up from 674 million in 2000, according to the United Nations. The latest figure represents nearly one out of seven people in the world and is expected to grow to 1.8 billion people by 2030.


This rapid increase of tourists is exactly why sustainable tourism needs attention now. The impact of tourism on the world can be negative or positive.


 Sustainable  tourism has three guiding principles for hotels, tour operators, airlines and cruises (as well as destinations and tourists): environmentally friendly practices like minimizing the use of plastic; protecting natural and cultural heritage (think rain forests and historic sites); and supporting local communities by employing local staff, buying local products and engaging in charity work.

Granted, these aren’t novel ideas, but they are ever-evolving. Here is a snapshot of where sustainable travel stands today and what’s in store for it in the coming year.

The Mainstreaming of Sustainability

Travel experts say that sustainable travel is still a niche movement. “Some travel companies try to be sustainable, while others ignore the idea, and from the traveler side, demand and awareness is soft.

 Booking.com, which describes itself as the world’s largest travel hotel booking site with a database of around a million properties, conducted a global survey last March of 10,000 travelers and found only 42 percent of those questioned considered themselves to be sustainable travelers. Sixty-five percent said they hadn’t stayed or didn’t know if they had stayed in eco-friendly accommodations. 

In another survey the company conducted last year of about 5,700 hotels, only around 25 percent reported that they had sustainable travel initiatives in place.Nevertheless, the travel industry and travelers have made significant progress. 

Cruise Ships Get On Board


Cruise lines have lagged behind hotels and airlines when it comes to sustainable travel,  but lately that’s changed, with several cruise companies stepping up their efforts.

Royal Caribbean, for example, has a new partnership with the World Wildlife Fund to help with ocean conservation. For starters, the company will reduce the carbon emissions from its ships by using scrubbers, machines that eliminate nearly all of the environmentally harmful sulfur dioxide from a ship’s exhaust system.

Also, by the end of 2020, its fleet of 44 ships will use seafood only from fisheries and farms certified as sustainable and won’t serve overfished species like swordfish. And most of the ships being built for the line will be powered entirely by natural gas and generate electricity through fuel cells, which produce minimal air pollution.

Smaller cruise companies, too, are getting into sustainability. Peregrine Adventures is introducing 10 carbon-offset itineraries in 2017, and the riverboat brand Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is now working with the social enterprise ME to WE to offer guests the opportunity to volunteer, including one in Rajasthan, India, where they help build a new classroom at a village school.

Airline Incentive: Cost


Airlines are in the midst of a big push to reduce their use of fossil fuels. These fuels are harmful to the environment and expensive, and the more airlines use, the more it costs them. Fuel accounted for one-third of operating costs in 2015.

Last October, 191 countries reached a landmark agreement at the International Civil Aviation Organization meeting in Montreal to help aviation achieve carbon neutral growth starting in 2021.

Qantas, Lufthansa, American Airlines and JetBlue are among the carriers making sizable investments in aircraft that burn less fuel and are therefore most cost-efficient. Lufthansa has ordered 116 new Airbus planes that are 15 percent more fuel efficient than comparable models. Five of the planes are already in the sky.

JetBlue made news last year with its purchase of 330,000 million gallons of biofuel — fuel that is made from organic matter including agricultural products and significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It will start using it in 2019. 

Eco-Friendly Tours Are Increasing

There are a growing number of tour operators today that are committed to running socially and environmentally responsible trips.

Intrepid Travel, for example, now offers more than 1,000 group tours a year that are fully carbon neutral, up from around 900 last year. The company uses local transportation and locally owned accommodations and donates money to carbon offset programs. In 2017, Intrepid will offer 65 new carbon offset tours, including a 15-day trip of Myanmar’s cultural highlights.

Luxury tour operators like Remote Lands, Butterfield & Robinson and Abercrombie & Kent are also incorporating sustainability on select trips. Abercrombie & Kent has a new 11-day Iceland itinerary this year, which includes accommodations in an eco-friendly hotel, a tour of Hellisheidi Power Plant, one of the largest geothermal power plants in the world, and a visit to a sustainable geothermal greenhouse.



More Hotels Green Up

Efforts by hotels to go green have been fairly modest: reusing towels and sheets and installing low-flow shower heads, for example. But a growing number of properties are making sustainability their main attraction. “When it came to hotels, sustainability was once associated with eco-resorts or African safari camps, where they’ve been working to protect local wildlife for years. But today, it’s become the defining element of both trendy urban properties and stylish beach resorts.

More than a dozen such hotels are scheduled to open this year, including the February debut of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., the third location for Barry Sternlicht’s sustainably focused brand. The 194-room hotel will incorporate native greenery and reclaimed materials in its décor, including walnut from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and offer electric car service from Tesla.

Also new is the Reef by CuisinArt, a beachfront property in Anguilla powered by a solar generation system that saves 1.2 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year and creates potable solar water for guests and the island’s residents.

And in Africa, there’s a sustainable camp, Bisate Lodge, opening in June that’s newsworthy because of its location in Rwanda next to Volcanoes National Park, known for mountain gorillas. The lodge’s parent company, Wilderness Safaris, is reforesting more than 66 acres of habitat of the critically endangered gorillas, hiring mostly local employees and selling only locally produced items in its gift shop.

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Cool Things to See in Big Bend National Park

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Article Contributer James Stafford

Big Bend National Park in West Texas’s Chihuahuan Desert exceeds 800,000 acres. To put that into perspective, the park is bigger than Rhode Island. Big Bend boasts breathtaking desert landscapes, hundreds of bird species, dozens of reptile species, buildings dating back to the 1800s, artifacts dating back 9,000 years, and animal fossils dating back to the Cretaceous Period. The park also includes these  exciting features.



The Window Trail

The Window Trail is a path leading to a V-shaped canyon called the Window, a perfect vantage point for sunset-viewing. The hike towards the Window is downhill all the way; the hike away from the Window is especially strenuous. The backdrop is one-of-a-kind, though, and the desert peaks magnificent to behold.



 Boquillas Canyon Rapids 

Boquillas Canyon offers a whitewater rapids expedition you’ll never forget. It‘s a 33 mile-long trip down the Rio Grande, and includes two nights of camping out beneath a canyon rising 1,200 feet. The experience is mystical.

 Langford Hot Springs

Sitting in Langford Hot Springs, situated adjacent the Rio Grande, is like sitting in a hot tub, but even more refreshing. The waters of these springs are about 105 degrees Fahrenheit; the springs were formed by volcanic activity.

 Emory Peak 

Emory Peak is the highest point of the Chisos Mountains, a mountain range completely contained within Big Bend National Park. And you can scale Emory Peak via the Emory Peak Trail. No climbing gear is necessary, but you should be cautious the whole way up. You should also watch out for mountain lions.


Castolon Historic District

The adobe buildings of the Castolon Historic District give guests a taste of an earlier era. This section of the park was once home to a U.S. Army camp and to an encampment for Mexican refugees during the Mexican Revolution. The Castolon Visitor Center houses exhibitions related to both camps.

Chisos Mountains Lodge

If you’re looking to spend the night inside Big Bend but aren’t quite up to roughing it, the Chisos Mountains Lodge provides luxurious accommodations. The only lodge inside the park, it’s open all year long, and lets you stay in either a room or a cottage. And because Chisos Mountains Lodge is perched at an elevation of 5,400 feet, every room offers views that seem to stretch on forever.


Old Ore Road

Old Ore Road is 26 miles of unpaved scenic glory. This road served as a transport route for mining companies at the start of the twentieth century. Motorized vehicles have long since replaced the mules, however. Be sure your camera’s ready to go: Old Ore Road provides countless terrific shots of the mighty Chisos.


Sam Nail Ranch

Big Bend was once home to many a homesteader; the land resembled a John Wayne movie. One of those brave and hearty settlers was Sam Nail. Nail arrived in 1909, amassed 15,000 acres in the ensuing years, and departed in 1946. Today Nail’s former ranch is a place to sit beneath a willow or a walnut tree, admire the hummingbirds, and reflect upon the beauty of it all.
 The Colima Warbler

The Colima warbler is a mostly brown or gray bird , about 4.5 or 5 inches in length, with a yellowish-orange tail and white circles surrounding its eyes. The male Colima warbler also has a splash of orange atop its head. This bird nests on the ground, and is native to an area that extends from central Mexico to southwestern Texas. Each year between April and September, however, the Colima warbler can be found in the Chisos Mountains, and nowhere else in the world.

The Stars

Big Bend is far from city lights and sources of air pollution. As a result, the starfields visible from the park are stunning: The stars are vivid, sharp, and shaped like diamonds.


Enjoy!’

YourTourGuru 

The Grand Canyon. Which Rim is the Best To Visit

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Article Contributer Luke Durban

One of the great wonders of the world, no trip to the US is complete without stopping to experience the Grand Canyon.

But at almost 450 km long, and over 1,100 km in circumference, how do you even know where to start?!!

There are options to take in the West Rim glass skywalk, and stay overnight at a ranch on native land. You can choose to travel on horseback, and witness the magic of a sunrise which most tourists will never understand.
The following are the pros and cons of visiting each of the Grand Canyon’s 4 available rims.

The West Rim

 Rim, where the glass floor of the Skywalk looks straight down into the canyon below.

The Hualapai ranch experience is one of kind. Treated to wagon rides, mock cowboy duels and horseback rides to the canyon edge, the little ranch was built to resemble a western town from the 1850’s.

Staying overnight at the ranch  is the absolute privilege of watching the sun rise and set over the canyon rim, an experience many visitors go without.

Needless to say, the tour of the West rim is worth every penny, and you will look back with only fond memories of this trip.

Though You might feel underwhelmed by the canyon itself,  it is not the vast, endless expanse you might expect.  In fact, it can’t be more than a few hundred metres wide.


Grand Canyon South Rim

The Southern Rim is the most popular and most developed part of the Canyon. This makes it the most accessible, but also the busiest by far. Free shuttle buses leave from the parking lots and service around 7 or 8 different vantage points along the cliffs, each with a slightly different angle of the same view.

There is a visitors center as well as a cafe at the western-most bus stop; visitors are not allowed to drive on the same roads as the shuttles, so a definite con could be that there is no way of avoiding the busy buses.

However, don’t let the onslaught of millions of annual visitors detract you from visiting the South Rim. As one of the widest points of the canyon you are treated some of the most spectacular views, and its actually easy enough to ditch the crowds by straying away from the paved path and walking closer the edge.

For first time visitors I would highly recommend the South Rim over the West, as this is where travelers will witness the iconic image that is so commonly associated with the Grand Canyon.


The North Rim

The Western and Southern Rims are the two most common Canyon areas to visit (mainly due to accessibility from urban centres), however there are of course plenty of additional areas to explore.

The North Rim for example sits roughly opposite the South, though offers intriguingly different views while bringing in about a tenth of the visitors annually. Being a full 1,000 feet higher than that of the Southern Rim, the temperature is also cooler which allows more vegetation to grow.

For this same reason, the North Rim is closed during winter due to heavy snowfall. North Rim will be open from May 15 – October 15 2015.

The East Rim

Horseshoe Bend at the very Eastern Rim is an area of the Canyon which is quickly growing popularity, and while not worth driving to as a sole destination in itself, it is certainly worth the detour for those with extra time.

Crowds here are much fewer, and while there are lesser view points than located on the West Rim, the views are equally as spectacular.

Which Rim is the Best to Visit?

The bottom line is this: The West Rim is closer to major hubs like Las Vegas, and is included in more tours for this reason. 

The Skywalk is cool though a bit gimmicky. However combine your West Rim experience with a ranch stay, and the trip is definitely worth it.

Those seeking photos that will make family and friends back home exceedingly jealous should opt for Grand Canyon South Rim. Hire a car, and consider booking a night in Kingman or Flagstaff to allow enough time for a full experience you will never forget.

While the Northern and Eastern Rims of the Canyon may not offer the same iconic view of the South, these areas see substantially fewer crowds, and are well worth the detour if spending an extended amount of time exploring Arizona State.