Posts Tagged 'UNESCO'

Whisk Yourself Away to the Galapagos Islands!

Looking for a rewarding trip or study abroad adventure this fall? Imagine protecting endangered species while interacting with some of the world’s most vibrant wildlife. Intrigued? Then South America, more specifically, Ecuador, is right up your alley. The Galapagos Islands. The Amazon. The Andes. The list goes on.

Galapagos Islands

Watch Out for the Friendly Sea Lions!

Watch Out for the Friendly Sea Lions!

Become close friends with sea lions. The wildlife owns this UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll find huge sea turtles, a few spotted eagle rays and various other deep-sea creatures. The friendly Galapagos penguins may join you for a swim. Prefer land? You’ll be in good company with flamingos, mockingbirds, warblers, hawks, blue-footed boobies, herons and other shorebirds. The 19 islands also offer great hiking, from easy to strenuous. Pick your poison.

Amazon

The Amazon provides endless entertainment for fans of rafting, kayaking, hiking, or mountain biking. Explore the jungles around Calluacocha Lake, in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. This wildlife sanctuary is home to several hundred species of birds, 13 species of monkeys, 1, 000 species of butterflies, and 1, 500 species of trees, as well as caimans, jaguars, ocelots, otters, and millions of insects.  Mountain bike through the  Bellavista Cloud Forest and tropical rainforest; go whitewater jungle rafting down the Blanco and Toachi rivers; or explore the tropical dry forest ecosystem in Machalilla National Park.

Andes

Quito Offers Unrivaled Beauty

Quito Offers Unrivaled Beauty

More adventures await you in the Andes. Explore the capital city and UNESCO cultural heritage site of Quito. This unique city is known for its architecture and features colonial buildings, which display its baroque history. As you cross the Equator line, check out the indigenous market at Otavalo, explore the Avenue of the volcanoes south of Quito, take a train ride through the “The Devil’s Nose,” and visit the Ingapirca and Cuenca UNESCO heritage city. There’s a lot to do!

Volcano Trekking

Another adventure you won’t find anywhere else: Volcano trekking! Witness gorgeous sunsets and amazing wildlife amid towering volcanoes! Ecuador Trekking Tours offers a variety of adventures for travelers. The Cotopaxi National Park is a 36,000-hectare nature and wildlife sanctuary surrounding the highest active volcano in the world. Or check out the Guagua Pichincha Volcano. Standing at 4,874 meters, it’s a spectacular place to hike.

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Protecting Your Favorite Travel Destinations

What do the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and Yosemite National Park in California all have in common? Any takers? They are all World Heritage sites. Odds are if you’ve traveled anywhere in the world or are planning a study abroad trip, you’ll visit at least one World Heritage site. What is a World Heritage site and why should you care? Well, if you want any of those beautiful locales to disappear, stop reading.

WHC Protects Temples Like This One in Agrigento, Sicilia

WHC Protects Temples Like This One in Agrigento, Sicilia

Traveling is not just about jotting things off your to do list. It’s about learning new cultures as well as our own past. In an effort to preserve important locations and habitat around the world, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) developed the World Heritage Centre (WHC).  Centuries of habitation, exploration, and tourism have led to the deterioration of antique palaces, monuments,  marine reserves, and national parks. The World Heritage Centre nominates these places to its “World Heritage List,” to raise awareness and preserve the site’s legacy through additional government involvement.

Developed by an American in 1972 and modeled after the National Parks system, the World Heritage List recognizes sites that are natural or cultural or mixed and demonstrate a “universal value to humanity.” They represent remarkable architecture or technology, or ecological or biological importance.

Each year the World Heritage Committee nominates vulnerable areas of cultural and historical significance. This past week the Committee added to the list: the Stoclet House in Brussels, Belgium, The Tower of Hercules (an ancient lighthouse) in La Coruña, Spain, and the Swiss watch-manufacturing towns of La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle. The Committee will conclude its nominating process in Sevilla, Spain on Tuesday, June 30th. Next year the U.S. government hopes to nominate Mount Vernon in Virginia and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii to this prestigious list.

Which World Heritage Sites have you visited? Check out this list. Some might surprise you. On a recent trip to Loreto, Mexico in Baja California Sur I went kayaking, clam diving, and snorkeling in the Sea of Cortez. Guess what? The islands and protected areas of the Gulf of California (aka, Sea of Cortez) are on the World Heritage List. An interesting fact: the UNESCO site in the Sea of Cortez is home to 695 plant species and 891 species of fish, more than any other marine or island property on the World Heritage List. Cool, huh?

Take a Stroll Down Andrássy Avenue in Budapest, Hungary

Take a Stroll Down Andrássy Avenue in Budapest, Hungary

Other recognizable locations include: the historic centres of Florence, Napoli, and Siena, Italy; Taj Mahal in India; the city of Budapest in Hungary; the Loire Valley in France; the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador; and Machu Picchu in Peru. I’ve been to five of the above mentioned sites…how about you?

You’ll notice most sites on the World Heritage List are famous. With fame comes challenges in preservation. The World Heritage Centre encourages visitors to be aware and travel responsibly. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can share and preserve World Heritage sites check out the Friends of World Heritage website. You can also donate to support communities around the sites. For every $1 donated, both Expedia and the United Nations Foundation will match your donation. Don’t forget to let Gulliver help you plan your next big adventure!

Loreto, Mexico – A Hidden Oasis

Going abroad? We at Gulliver recommend taking that road less traveled.  If you’re planning to study or take a trip to say, Mexico- which you should- skip the parties in Tijuana, the hustle and bustle of Mexico City, or spring break in Puerto Vallarta. After a significant hiatus from traveling overseas, my best friend invited me to meet her in Mexico.  Next stop? Not Los Cabos or Acapulco, but the small, sport fishing town of Loreto.

A Beautiful Start to the Day

A Beautiful Start to the Day

Loreto?  That’s exactly what I thought. A New York Times article said travelers visit this area of Baja California Sur for the “beach and the charming village.”  Others describe Loreto as “paradise.” The town sits 700 miles south of the US/Mexico border, on the Sea of Cortez.  It’s surrounded by mountains and the ocean and is known for fishing, whale watching, dolphins, and kayaking. The Islands and Protected Areas of the Sea of Cortez have also been declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The people of Loreto are extremely outgoing.  From restaurant chefs, to multimillionaires, local tour guides, and hotel owners, they all know each other. The town is pretty quiet right now, due to the economic recession and the off-season. Even our outdoor adventures were pretty secluded. It was a welcomed change.

Our travel guide, Antonio, turned into a good friend. Antonio, a Loreto native, works with Paddling South a Baja Adventures Tour Company. Our first adventure found us hiking through canyons en route to Misión San Javier– the second oldest mission in the Californias. The oldest mission, Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto Conchó, built in 1697, sits in the historic center of Loreto. Our next trip, sea kayaking and snorkeling on Isla Danzante, introduced us to dozens of starfish, exotic fish, an octopus, and a turtle. Both locales lie just south of Loreto.

Sea of Cortez, Baja Coast

Sea of Cortez, Baja Coast

Our fascination with the sea… and hunger for seafood enticed us to go clam diving. Antonio voluntarily took my friend and me to Los Conditos and taught us how to dive. I don’t know what proved more rewarding, catching the clams… or eating them! Antonio couldn’t join us for lunch, but his boss, Trudi, took us to Loreto Islas, where the head chef Francisco (Antonio’s Uncle) served up our clams.  Simply stated, the cuisine in Loreto is delicious!

In less than one week I went from knowing nothing about this coastal town of Loreto to befriending many of the locals and expats.  My friend works for the United Nations Foundation and visited Los Cabos, La Paz, and Loreto as part of the World Heritage Alliance conference. The mission: to protect historical sites, marine preserves, and promote sustainable tourism around the world.  If you are looking for a unique experience overseas, Loreto is the perfect place to watch the sunrise, meet the locals, walk along the Malecon (boardwalk), swim with the dolphins, or people-watch while sipping a strawberry margarita.


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