Tag Archives: Hawaii

Guest Post: 4 Real Places of Unreal Beauty

Blue Fire Public Relations submitted the following guest post, including the links. I’m pretty picky about guest posts, but I really liked the four images on this one and wanted everyone else with the travel bug to see them. I edited the guest post very slightly.

The globe has been trotted, mapped and conquered, yet natural beauty remains and continues to beckon adventure seekers. From sprawling Asia to hometown America, the world is covered in wonders. Though the pictures may make you believe they’re from a fantasy land, here are four amazing places that actually exist:

Wulingyuan Scenic Area (Hunan, China)

Wulingyan Scenic Area

With 243 peaks surrounded by more than 3,000 karst upthrusts, Wulingyuan scenic area is filled with waterfalls, limestone caves and rivers unlike any other, according to LonelyPlanet.com. Located just outside of Zhangjiajie city, the subtropical forest of the park is locally known as the inspiration for James Cameron’s the idea for the floating mountains in “Avatar.” In 2010, Gadling.com reported that city officials renamed a peak called “Southern Sky Column” in hopes to draw more crowds to the park. The new name of the peak? “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.”  (Photo from Flickr user Jetske / Jetske19)

Writer’s Tip: The Zhongtian International Youth Hostel, located in Zhangjiajie city, has a sister branch on the mountain. If you stay there, you can pay to have your bags transported between the two hostels; just keep your personal information, passport and picture ID on you. My comment: When I visited China soon after the opening of the Three Gorges cam, the itinerary included a designated scenic area near Yichang, downstream from the dam. Tucked into a valley not far from the is a scenic area in which reenactors are (or were) stationed to demonstrate traditional fishing, agricultural and domestic skills.

Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

Old Faithful

Found in America’s first national park and known as America’s best-known geyser, Old Faithful is still as beautiful as ever. The geyser erupts about 20 times a day and can spout water anywhere between 130 and 190 feet in the air, according to Yellowstonepark.com. The place to experience steaming vents and shooting columns of water, Yellowstone is home to about half of the world’s geysers, making it the largest concentration of geysers on earth. Old Faithful (Photo by Flickr user Adrian Valenzuela)

Writer’s Tip: Before going on this trip, dig through your closet for your Teva sandals, waterproof hiking boots and an umbrella, as you’re going to need them. My comment: I’d don Gore-Tex or other rain gear rather than carry an umbrella. I want my hands free for photography.

Tunnel of Love (Kleven, Ukraine)

Tunnel of Love

A rarely used railway track in the small Ukrainian town of Kleven is slowly garnering attention as photographs surface of the phenomenon taking place. In an area of dense trees, a train has carved out a tunnel just big enough for it to chug through. Otherwise, the arching area is completely overgrown by greenery and leaves — creating what’s now known as the Tunnel of Love. According to the International Business Times, the area has become particularly popular with the young crowd, and lovers holding hands walk through the tunnel in spring. (Photo by Panoramia.com user Serhei under Creative Commons license)

Tip: Not yet tagged a tourist attraction, the Tunnel of Love is located 217 miles from western Kiev, the country’s capital city, noted by the International Business Times. When preparing for the trip, consider investing in a money belt to keep your passport safe and an identity theft protection company like Life Lock to monitor your personal information while you’re away. My comment: If China is not on your travel schedule, you can have a similar experience, sans railroad tracks, driving though the Tunnel of Trees, two rows of eucalyptus trees arching over the road to Poipu on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.

Gran Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni, Bolivia)

Gran Salar de Uyuni

According to Ruaverdebolivia.com, the Gran Salar de Uyuni was part of Lake Minchin, a giant prehistoric lake. Now it’s the world’s largest salt flat. Located in southwest Bolivia near the crest of the Andes, the area is roughly 25 times larger than the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. It’s estimated that Salar de Uyuni contains 10 billion tons of salt, though only 25,000 tons are extracted annually, revealed on the Ruta Verde website. (Photo by Flickr user Jürgen Schiller García / schillergarcia_

My comment: The startling white surface behind the cacti and other desert plants is the Gran Salar, the great salt flats of Uyuni.

Hawaii’s Volcano House Will Reopen

Iconic hotel in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park back on track

Volcano House, boarded up.
I have been to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park four times — most recently in June 2011. With Kilauea, one of the Big Island’s five volcanoes (and the only active one), disgorging steam, volcanic debris and flowing lava since 1983, the park’s topography has been different from one visit to another. An additional difference last year from my previous visits over nearly two decades was that the Volcano House with its ringside view of the eruption was boarded up, and that had nothing to do with volcanic activity but rather with concessionaire issues. The details are too tedious to detail, but re-opening is on the near horizon — and that is good news worth sharing.

Since 1824, a lodging structure has perched on the edge of the Kīlauea caldera to shelter park visitors. The first real Volcano House was built in 1866, and that year, Mark Twain wrote that “the surprise of finding a good hotel in such an outlandish spot startled me considerably more than the volcano did.” The great American writer presumably did not visit during an active cycle that would have eclipsed everything his wonderment at the hotel’s location, but in these says, seeing the red rambling landmark boarded up and neglected is simply sad. The current structure was built in 1941 and has been shuttered since 2009.

Thankfully, that’s going to change in the foreseeable future.  A 15-year concession contract has been awarded to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes Lodge Company, LLC to operate the Volcano House and other visitor services within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The  Hawaiʻi-based company, owned by Ortega National Parks, LLC, is a partnership between Honolulu-based Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Inc., and Ortega National Parks LLC, a company with 16 years of experience operating concessions within national parks in California and New Mexico, including Bandelier, White Sands, Muir Woods, Carlsbad Caverns, and Death Valley. The locally based Aqua Hotels and Resorts, Inc. manages 18 hotels and resorts on five islands in Hawaiʻi .

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