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This post was edited by Cicci at 2012-3-19 11:03|
Chile’s Lakes and Volcanoes Region
This glorious landscape of fuming volcanoes and emerald green lakes, ancient forests and steaming hot springs lies in the heart of Chile between northern Atacama and southern Patagonia. Settled and still cherished by the native Mapuche people, the region has ten volcanoes, scores of lakes and white-water rivers, and ten national parks and reserves. Pucon, a bustling adventure-sports town at the foot of Villarrica Volcano—centerpiece of Villarrica National Park—offers hiking (on volcanoes, mountains, and around lakes), white-water rafting, and soaking in natural hot springs. Two hours south is Huilo-Huilo Biosphere Reserve and its rare double volcano. Here, soar through the rain forest on three zip-line networks, glacier-trek on volcanoes, and walk the new Cultural Route showcasing local crafts like bee-keeping, weaving, and the making of traditional "wood fairies." A final three-hour drive south leads to Chile's largest lake, Llanquihue; its most photographed volcano, Osorno; and its first national park, Vicente Perez Rosales. Stay where "nature is the protagonist”—at the sustainably built Arrebol Patagonia Hotel in Puerto Varas.
|Photograph by Bobby Haas, National Geographic|
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
Location—it’s within a day’s drive of half the U.S. population—helps make Great Smoky Mountains the most visited national park. But with over 800 square miles of terrain and more than 800 miles of hiking trails spread across some of the oldest mountains on Earth, there is plenty of room for everyone to roam. Spring is prime wildlife and wildflower viewing season in this international biosphere reserve. Spot wild turkey, deer, black bear, and elk in one of the park’s least visited areas, western North Carolina’s isolated Cataloochee Valley. Throughout the Smokies, pink lady’s slipper, painted trillium, and Dutchman's-breeches are among the blooms blanketing stream banks, woodlands, and mist-shrouded meadows.
|Photograph by William Manning, Corbis|
The 62nd annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, April 25-28, features 134 walks and programs led by rangers, botanists, entomologists, naturalists, and storytellers. Register online or at the park to join a wildflower trek along the Appalachian Trail through old growth spruce fir and pristine beech wood forests, learn the herb lore of Appalachia, or discover why the Smokies are called the Salamander Capital of the World.
Voss’s southwestern location—between Hardanger and Søgne fjords, an hour’s train ride from Bergen—make the adventure sports capital a best-bet home base for day trips in, on, and around Fjord Norway. Immerse yourself in the world’s largest concentration of saltwater-filled glaciated valleys on a Fjord Tours "Norway in a Nutshell" trip (departing Voss daily, year-round). The daylong introduction to the fjordlands combines serpentine train trekking along the famous Flåm line (one of the world’s steepest, climbing 2,900 feet in less than an hour) and cruising through the Nærøyfjord World Heritage Area, an archetypical fjord landscape considered among the world’s most scenic and best preserved.
|Photograph by Jørgen Opsann, Alamy|
Spring is tune-up season for Voss’s annual adrenaline-fueled outdoor festival (Extreme Sports Week, June 24-July 1). Before the crowds descend, create your own adventure challenge experience. Depending on when you visit (early-to-mid-spring is still winter sports season), ski or snowboard at Voss Resort, raft the Strandaelva and Raundalselva rapids, or negotiate the climbing-balancing-zip-line obstacles of Voss Klatrepark, a challenging high-ropes playground open mid-May to mid-September.
Temps de Flors Festival, Girona, Spain
Spring paints Catalonia’s sunshine-laced Costa Brava region in vibrant colors: Bright umbrellas shading café patios in seaside Calella de Palafrugell, turquoise waves lapping white pebble beaches in Cap de Creus Natural Park, and flowers cascading down cathedral steps during Girona’s annual Temps de Flors festival, May 12-20.
|Photograph by David Adamson, Alamy|
Wander the old city’s labyrinth network of steep, cobbled lanes where unexpected urban gardens and bloom-inspired art installations adorn monuments, stone-walled courtyards, and city squares. Beyond the festival, hike along Girona’s ancient Roman walls, explore Europe’s best preserved Jewish quarter, and indulge in the experiential cuisine of El Celler de Can Roca, named the second best restaurant in the world in 2011 by Restaurant magazine.
From Girona, hop an early train to Figueres, where native son Salvador Dalí conceived or designed every aspect—from the giant white rooftop eggs to the geodesic dome—of the Dalí Theater-Museum. The surrealist masterpiece (inside and out) houses the world’s single largest and most diverse Dalí collection, as well as the artist’s crypt.
Expo 2012, Yeosu, South Korea
Mountainous Yeosu peninsula’s 300-plus jagged islands, two protected national marine parks, and rich maritime heritage made this southern coastal city a natural choice to host Expo 2012: "The Living Ocean and Coast," May 12 to August 12.
|Photograph by Topic Photo Agency/Corbis|
Along with promoting responsible ocean stewardship and sustainable technologies, Yeosu’s world’s fair-on-water introduces visitors to local cuisine (try the Dolsan Island Gat Kimchi, a potent and pungent mustard greens blend) and tourist sites—walk across the breakwater to Odongdo Island, home to 70 wildflower species (and typically blanketed with thousands of flowering red camellias through April).
More than a hundred countries are participating in the Expo, and 8 million people are expected to stroll—and float—through the mini-city event site: a marine-focused theme park of sorts encompassing interactive oceanography exhibits and futuristic floating pavilions. At the Marine Life Pavilion, Korea’s first glass-domed aquarium offers 360-degree underwater views of rare and endangered sea creatures, including beluga whales; leafy and weedy sea dragons; and Baikal seals. Pictured here is Dadohaehaesang National Park.