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Archive for national parks

Singapore’s Southern Ridges

By Linda Tancs

Part of the Southern Ridges, Mount Faber Park is one of Singapore’s oldest parks. Its hilltop is covered by a secondary rainforest, a unique green space in this thriving financial capital. You’ll enjoy a panoramic view of the southern part of Singapore and the southern islands from the cable cars heading to Sentosa, Singapore’s island resort. Alternatively, view the terrain from the telescopes at one of the many lookout points that are situated at various sides of the ridge. The Southern Ridges Guided Walk begins at the park, where visitors can learn about its history and natural heritage.

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Park Country

By Linda Tancs

Chances are, if you’ve visited St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, then you’ve encountered Virgin Islands National Park. That’s because two-thirds of the island is parkland, with key attractions like Annaberg Plantation and Trunk Bay in its borders. With so much area to explore, you needn’t fear going it alone. Ranger-guided tours abound in the park, covering hikes, shore walks, bird walks and even snorkel tours. The Reef Bay Trail is a year round hiking tour, where the island’s oldest and tallest trees are found amidst sugar plantation ruins, stone walls from cattle grazing and ancient rock carvings left behind by the pre-Colombian Taino. The L’Esperance Hike (available November thru April) follows an old Danish road that leads to a scenic transition from shady tropical forest to a desert-like landscape. Along the way you’ll find the island’s only baobab, a sacred tree species that was brought to the Caribbean by enslaved Africans. Both hikes end with a 40-minute boat ride back to the Cruz Bay Visitor Center.

Skiing in Paradise

By Linda Tancs

Contiguous with Vanoise National Park in France, Italy’s Gran Paradiso National Park joins with it to form the largest protected area in Europe. The first national park in Italy, it’s located in the Graian Alps, between the Aosta Valley and Piedmont regions. Gran Paradiso is a mountain located entirely within Italy, its highest at over 13,000 feet. Leave behind the hustle and bustle of slopes in France and Switzerland. The quieter pistes south of the Mont Blanc Massif offer charming alpine huts and traditional Italian hospitality.

French Wildlife in Savoie

By Linda Tancs

Vanoise National Park in southeastern France is the country’s oldest national park. Occupying over 130,000 acres, it stretches to the Italian border and is contiguous with the Gran Paradiso National Park in Italy. Originally founded in 1963 for the protection of the Alpine ibex (a wild goat that suffered greatly from hunting beginning in the 16th century), conservation efforts have proved fruitful. About 2,000 ibex reside in the park, the largest national population. Other animals found there include 5,500 chamois as well as marmots, foxes,  golden eagles, black grouse and perhaps rarest of all, the three-toed woodpecker, which purportedly has only ever been seen in Savoie and Haute-Savoie.

A Butterfly in the Caribbean

By Linda Tancs

Seen from the sky, Guadeloupe’s two main islands look like the wings of a butterfly in the Caribbean. A French overseas territory, Guadeloupe is an archipelago of over a dozen islands with scenic displays ranging from a tropical forest and volcano to endless white, sandy beaches. The easygoing beach atmosphere is evident in Grande-Terre (the eastern half of the butterfly). Mountainous Basse-Terre, the western island, is home to Parc National de la Guadeloupe, which is crowned by the spectacular La Soufrière volcano. Of the smaller islands, don’t miss a visit to Marie-Galante, source of the nickname “isle of a hundred mills” thanks to its production of rum—reputedly among the best in the world.

 

An Urban Oasis in D.C.

By Linda Tancs

Officially authorized in 1890, Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., is the third national park to be designated by the federal government. This 1,754-acre city park has over 32 miles of hiking trails and paths, a planetarium, Civil War fortifications, mills and colonial houses. Two popular attractions are Old Stone House and Peirce Mill. Situated in the midst of Georgetown, Old Stone House is the oldest structure on its original foundation in the nation’s capital. Peirce Mill was the most successful water-powered gristmill along Rock Creek until 1897 and today serves as an educational and heritage site. The Friendship Heights Metro is the closest station to the Nature Center, where you can find maps and other information about the park, which is free to enter and open year round.

Iceland in Miniature

By Linda Tancs

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is often referred to as Iceland in miniature. True enough, considering its 56 miles cover everything the country has to offer, from volcanoes and lava fields to glaciers, cliffs and beaches. At the westernmost part of the peninsula is Snæfellsjökull National Park, the only Icelandic national park that stretches to the sea. The area takes its name from the saga of Bárður Snæfellsás, the half-man, half-troll protector of the region whose colossal stone statue is in Arnarstapi.

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