Monthly Archives: October 2012

UNESCO World Heritage Site #182: Sian Ka’an

Posted by on October 9, 2012

UNESCO World Heritage Site #182: Sian Ka’an

UNESCO World Heritage Site #182: Sian Ka’an

From the World Heritage inscription:

Sian Ka’an is situated on the eastern side of the Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo. Where possible, boundaries were defined to coincide with natural features: the site is bounded by the Caribbean Sea and the barrier reef to a depth of 50 m in the east; by the junction between the marshes and semi-evergreen forests in the south-east; and by the junction of Chetumal and Espiritu Santo bays catchment basin in the south. The northern and north-eastern boundaries are defined by the limits of farming cooperatives. The northern sites can be reached by a dirt track from Tulum, whereas Punta Pajaros is only accessible by boat or aircraft.

Sian Ka’an lies on a partially emerged coastal limestone plain which forms part of the extensive barrier reef system along the eastern coast of Central America. Much of the reserve lies in a zone of recent Pleistocene origin which still appears to be in a transitional stage. A large series of sinkholes (cenotes) exist in the area and are characteristic features of the Yucatán and Florida peninsulas. The hydrological cycle is complex and the water table is permanently close to the surface. There is little surface running water within the reserve as it usually filters fairly rapidly through the shallow rendzina and saskab (granular whitish and brittle limestone) soils, and the limestone rock to subterranean channels. Owing to their hardness the waters in the reserve are generally very clear. A geological fault crosses the reserve from south-west to north-east, influencing its topography and hydrology. In general, soils are unsuitable for agriculture.

Most people who travel to the Riviera Maya region of Mexico probably go to visit is famous beaches or Mayan ruins. They are probably unaware of the ecological treasure located nearby in Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve.

My day in Sian Ka’an was spent cruising through mangrove swamps in an outboard boat, photographing birds and exploring old Mayan structures.

If you should visit Tulum, Playa del Carmen or even Cancun I’d strongly suggest taking a trip away from the tourist hotspots for half a day and visit Sian Ka’an. Its a unique place to explore a mangrove ecosystem and it will give you a chance to see what the region looked like before the arrival of Europeans.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The Single Biggest Thing You Can Do To Stay Safe While Traveling

Posted by on October 6, 2012

I’ve been extremely fortunate traveling. In over five years traveling in over 100 countries I have never been robbed, mugged or even had anything stolen in my hotel room. Cross my fingers, I’ll be able to keep this streak going indefinitely.

That being said, I try not to do anything that will get me in trouble. I attempt to look and act rather innocuous, which means that hopefully some other unlucky traveler will get targeted instead of me.

However, in the course of my travels I’ve met many people and heard many stories of travelers who weren’t so lucky. In a shockingly large number of them, there was a theme which keeps cropping up. A thing that travelers keep doing, which is putting them at significant risk.

I have heard enough of these stories to be convinced that if you just do this one thing, the odds of bad things happening to you while traveling would be greatly reduced.

What is the secret?

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Amy’s First Passport Stamp

Posted by on October 5, 2012

With half a decade of non-stop travel under my belt, I can talk about a lot of subjects related to travel. The one thing I cannot talk about, however, is what it feels like to travel for the first time. Recently my assistant Amy made her very first trip outside of US/Canada. I asked her to write about her experience traveling abroad for the first time.

In the comments, feel free to share your first time traveling outside of your home country. Everyone remembers their first time and everyone has a different story.

Here is Amy:

A Cross in the Pyrenees near Vall de Nuria

Growing up, my parents weren’t all that big into travel. While we had family vacations, they were always short road trips. So when I graduated from high school, I had been in only 5 states (all of them bordering my home state of Texas) and had never flown in a plane. When I finally did fly for the first time, I flew Dallas to Lubbock. That short haul flight was not all that impressive, nor was Lubbock, but it did prove to me that I could do it and there was nothing to be afraid of.

In the past ten years or so, I’ve definitely broadened my horizons. I’ve been to 34 US states, including Alaska and Hawaii. I have lived outside of my home region for a significant portion of time, and I definitely love the rush of adventure. That 18 year old that was afraid of flying? She herself grew into a glider pilot, and married an airline pilot. I now easily jump on and off flights, fly standby and can calculate the best routes better than the average gate agent.

However, one thing still eluded me – foreign travel. (more…)

Photo Essay : Yosemite National Park, California

Posted by on October 4, 2012

Yosemite National Park is one of the crown jewels in the United States National Park System. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Yosemite twice; once in 2009 and in 2012 with my G Adventures Travel Photography tour. It is on my short list of the most photogenic places in the world. It is almost impossible to visit and come away with bad photos.

Those of you who have visited Yosemite know just how beautiful it is. Those who haven’t owe it to themselves to visit at least once in their life.


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