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Archive for ecotourism

Sand and Shingles

By Linda Tancs

Heather and gorse, shingles and sand.  That’s what you’ll find at Dunwich Heath, Britain’s gem on the Suffolk coast.  The scenery is bursting with color this time of year, not to mention enviable bird watching for the likes of the Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark and others.  During school holidays the ranger team provides child friendly activities such as pond dipping and bug hunting.  Geocaching is one of many new activities; you can borrow a free tracker pack at the information hut.

Take a Walk

By Linda Tancs

Writer Robert Louis Stevenson once remarked that the forest changes and renews a weary spirit.  That’s good news for England’s Midlands: the centre of England, once a hub for the Industrial Revolution, is being renewed and recharged with the dedication of 200 square miles to conservation.  Dubbed The National Forest, it embraces parts of Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire.  And what better way to explore a forest than on foot!  This year marks the launch of the National Forest Way, a 75-mile waymarked path traversing the region.  Coinciding with the launch of the trail is the National Forest Walking Festival.  Taking place through 29 May, you’ll have over 70 walks to choose from as you ramble in the woodlands.

The Land of Canaan

By Linda Tancs

In the 1700s the wild valley on the western slope of the Alleghenies looked like the Promised Land to an adventurer in the region.  Or so the story goes.  Regardless of its veracity, that valley is known as the Canaan Valley in West Virginia.  Home to the country’s 500th National Wildlife Refuge, its cool and moist climate provides a haven for 580 species of plants and 288 different animals.  Endangered bats, salamander, dragonflies and priority bird species such as brown thrasher, Eastern towhee, and American woodcock no doubt find it heavenly.

 

Water for Elephants

By Linda Tancs

November is Manatee Awareness Month in Florida.  Despite their popular nickname “sea cow,” these aquatic mammals are actually related to the elephant.  This time of year, when the waters of the Gulf cool down and subject these gentle giants to cold stress, you’ll find them instead in the balmy waters of Crystal River, less than two hours north of Tampa.  During manatee season, more than 150,000 people will visit the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge to snorkel and kayak among manatees, the only place where such interaction with this endangered and federally protected species is allowed.

Life on the Farm

By Linda Tancs

Is a farmer’s life for you?  Here’s one way to find out:  choose a Swedish farmstay.  With over 300 participating farms, you can choose your length and type of accommodation, like a quaint B&B on an organic farm, for instance.  Don’t worry, you needn’t milk the cows.  There’s ample opportunity for horseback riding, hiking, swimming, fishing–or just enjoy the fertile farmlands of a district like Skåne.

The Grand Staircase

By Linda Tancs

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has the distinction of being the first monument overseen by the Bureau of Land Management rather than the National Park Service.  Holding court in southern Utah at an expansive 1.7 million acres (slightly larger in area than the State of Delaware), this world class geologic and paleontological site comprises not only the Grand Staircase but also the Kaiparowits Plateau and the Canyons of the Escalante.  A staircase of cliffs and terraces, the Grand Staircase’s multi-hued formations represent 200 million years of Earth’s history, featuring fossils of fish and early dinosaurs from the Triassic Period (the vermilion cliffs) as well as Jurassic sand dunes (the white cliffs).  An ancient freshwater lake deposited the siltstone comprising the pink cliffs at the top of the Grand Staircase.  Nearly one thousand miles of roads provide access to what may arguably be one of the greatest shows on Earth.

The Gannets of St. Lawrence

By Linda Tancs

St. Lawrence River is one of the world’s longest rivers, dissecting Québec at its southern latitudes.  Along the river are many island pearls, not the least of which is Île Bonaventure.  Located at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, the island hosts the largest colony of northern gannets in North America.  A haven for ecotourists, the island’s national park (one of 27 in Québec) features a five-million-ton monolith shaped by nature’s fury that is accessible at low tide.

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