What do you know about puffins? They’re smaller than penguins, they live in Iceland, and they’re cute. Great! Unfortunately, they’re also elusive little creatures, with unique and specific migratory patterns and a habit of nesting in remote hundred-meter cliffs. Like the Northern Lights, puffins are unpredictable, but here are a few suggestions of where and when you’re more likely to spot them.
Glaciers, massive conglomerations of ice, snow and rock, are among the world’s greatest wonders. But they’re also slowly disappearing. These natural phenomena, which have come and gone throughout Earth’s long geological history, appear to be in the process of documenting another chapter in our planet’s story. But while most glaciers are receding at an alarming rate, certain destinations still provide an abundance waiting to be appreciated. What many don’t realize is that many of Earth’s most beautiful places, while devoid of glaciers today, were actually sculpted and created by these fascinating features and are home to unforgettable scenery.
Iceland is a land of stunningly diverse scenery, where you can pass from lush glacial meadows into barren volcanic deserts in the blink of an eye, and where cliffs tower hundreds of meters high only a few steps away from the sea. Backroads’ wide variety of trips here matches the diversity of the island’s landscapes. Every itinerary is different, and each offers a unique perspective on the majestic beauty of this lonely volcanic island. Which one is right for you?
The one thing that has always attracted me to New Zealand–and what I continue to search for while I’m leading Backroads Trips here–is the feeling of living in the moment. In New Zealand there are so many ways to escape and be present with the people that you’re traveling with. I recently had the opportunity to tour the country with my family, and while everything was truly incredible, there were three unique experiences that stood out above the rest.
Everyone’s heard of the Galápagos Islands, with their blue-footed boobies and natural phenomena. But many are surprised to find that they’re a part of Ecuador, a country the size of Colorado replete with its own incredible natural and cultural diversity. Ecuador is a place where you can begin your day with breakfast by the ocean, drive a few hours for lunch in the Andes and finish with dinner in the rain forest.
In my travels throughout the world, I’ve continually heard people naming Costa Rica as an all-time favorite destination. There’s talk of vacationing on the Nicoya Peninsula for a week, doing a yoga teacher training in Nosara, moving to Tamarindo for a season or even moving to Costa Rica permanently. So why is Costa Rica such a hot spot right now?
Yellowstone in the winter takes on an entirely different façade. You wander through the main attractions and it’s quiet. You watch the breath of bison erupt from their snouts as they exhale in the freezing weather. The steam rises from the potholes as you listen to the gurgling of the geysers. Red foxes scamper along the roadside, their color popping against the white background. Sights reveal themselves that seem otherworldly. Each time I found myself touring the snowy roads of Yellowstone, I became lost in the beauty of the park.
Our guests often ask Backroads Trip Leaders, “What’s your favorite trip?” While I jokingly say we don’t offer tours in ugly places, I do have an answer: hands-down my favorite trip to lead is our New Zealand Walking & Hiking Tour.
Iceland is frequently referred to as “the land of fire and ice.” It is an otherworldly landscape and one of the few places on the planet where volcanoes and glaciers coexist. But with its spectacular waterfalls, hot springs like the Blue Lagoon and a sea rich with Viking lore, Iceland should be called the land of fire, ice and WATER!
My love affair with the national parks began when I was 9 years old. I learned at that young age that the best family memories are the ones where we shared an adventure, where we set off and explored something new and exciting together. Those are the memories of my childhood and of my parents that I still carry with me today.
It is easy to express the beauty of Alaska in words but seemingly difficult to articulate the impression this place leaves on the soul. Some say, once you visit Alaska you will never be the same. Not always such a dramatic life change but often times a subtle shift. It is the encounter with the wild that often times brings you closer to your true self.