Do you celebrate Earth Day? It’s one of those special “holidays” where it’s not at all obvious how you should celebrate. Should you do some extra recycling? Maybe ride your bike to work instead of drive? Start a responsible-use program for a local group? If you travel like I do, you might just use the day to see more of planet Earth. It’s a wonderful place that I’ve just started to discover.
Here are some majestic destinations worthy of your Earth Day travel itinerary.
If you want to see Mother Nature in all her glory, then check out what Patagonia has to offer. From the spectacular coast to the shimmering glaciers that stretch high into the heavens, Patagonia will capture your imagination and never let go. The coast offers incredible wildlife and some of the world’s best whale watching (head to Puerto Madryn). Explore the imprints of human hands and rock paintings at Cueva da las Manos (Cave of Hands) a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Go rock-climbing and horseback riding in the shadows of El Chaltén.
When you’ve seen the rest of the world, it’s probably time to head to Greenland. With untouched beauty as far as the eye can see and virtually no roads, you’ll be forced to the sky and water to see the stunning mountains, glaciers and fjords. With the world’s sparsest population and sleepy little villages scattered about, you’ll feel like you have the whole place to yourself.
The land of fire and ice is the perfect Earth Day adventure. Iceland is a mystical and magical place of volcanoes, hot springs, geysers and glaciers. It’s one of the best places on the planet to view the northern lights. Don’t forget to take your swimsuit on your trip to Iceland so you can wade into the warm, mineral-rich hot springs, like the Blue Lagoon. These soothing pools are the Earth’s way of saying “take it easy” and enjoy what nature gave you. [Read More: Iceland: Expect the Unexpected]
Right out of a movie set, the picture perfect landscapes of New Zealand offer your Earth Day holiday some very unique adventures. Take a tour of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ filming locations to see the real life Middle-earth. Jump in your kayak and paddle past enormous waterfalls and dolphins in Fiordland National Park. Pack a good pair of hiking boots, so you can try out the famous Milford Track. And, be sure you leave time to explore the lakes, meadows and volcanic landscapes of Tongariro National Park. The stunning scenery will take your breath away.
The main attraction in Zermatt is the iconic Matterhorn which hangs majestically behind the quaint and car-free town. If you love to ski, Zermatt might just be the one place you can ski anytime. To get an unforgettable tour of the mountains, buy a ticket on the Gornergrat Bahn scenic railroad. The earth-friendly train generates its own electricity as you descend the 1,469 meters down the mountains. Don’t leave without visiting Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, which is the highest cable car station in Europe located right by the Italian border. The views are very different of the south face and you’ll want to take time and see the glacier palace which is below the surface.
One of the best places in the world to visit if you love the outdoors, trekking and photography is Mount Everest. Oh, and you can cross a big one of your travel to-do list by making it to Everest base camp. Don’t worry, if you don’t want to trek up Everest, you can book a flight tour. Be very patient about the weather and if you’re lucky enough to get a clear window, you will love seeing Everest from the air and sipping a little champagne along the way. Also visit Kathmandu which is a destination unto itself offering fun things to do like the Tibetan Singing Bowls at Boudhanath Stupa or the Monkey Temple at Swayambhunath Temple.
Or perhaps you’d like to visit the Faroe Islands on your Earth Day journey? You’d be in good company, because this is one of those places that the savvy travelers know about with impressive displays of lush green landscapes, rocky cliffs and waterfalls at every turn. The Faroe Islands is an archipelago, a group of 18 islands that can be found northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. However, it is officially part of Denmark. Book a local tour to get the lowdown on history and special places, because you’ll find the islands are not too well-documented in travel guides.
One of the most spectacular and beautiful places you will find anywhere, the Canadian Rockies are huge, pristine wilderness with local gems such as Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho National Parks. All five parks combined with three British parks have been name as a single UNESCO World Heritage site for the unique mountainscapes found here. Not to mention the world-famous lakes in the region. You’ll have plenty to explore with Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake and Maligne Lake, all stunning and fed by the large super glaciers in the area. Do you know who Lake Louise was named for? [Scroll down for answer]
Where do you go to reconnect with nature?
Answer: Lake Louise is named for Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, the fourth daughter and sixth child of Queen Victoria.