Nature's Star Turns - Page 2

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4. Antarctica: The Icy Bottom of the World
Sail from Buenos Aires aboard ship to the only continent covered with an ice cap—a true continent with 18,000 miles of coast. Here, in the shadow of Norwegian explorer Roald Amudsen (who first reached the South Pole in 1911) you can still find huge elephant seals, giant petrels, and deserted islands with entire skeletons of whales laying about on the shore. See steep ice cliffs indented with deep cobalt blue fjords. Go ashore on Zodiac rafts and explore by foot. On Paulet Island, mingle midst giant flocks of Adele penguins. Sailing through the Lemaire Channel, watch for humpbacks and orcas. With 24 hours of daylight, your trekking is limited to your own endurance.

5. Thailand: Behind the Facade
Trek down the "River of Kings," preferably on an old rice barge, perhaps one trimmed with mahogany from the glory days of that export, puttering past sampans and women bathing on shore in sarongs. In the 1600s, merchant ships sailed up the Chao Phraya River to reach the "Venice of the Orient," and you can do the same. At the end of the line is Ayutthaya, capitol of the Kingdom of Siam, with antiquities that long predate Christ.

6. Alaska: Our Own Domestic Ice Palace
Denali National Park, with its tundras and Arctic vistas, and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, with its green waters and snowy peaks, are the jewels in this wilderness. But you can pick your own tour, based on your animal of choice—from bear, caribou, Dall sheep, moose, and eagles. Don't forget about the water, where you'll find sea lions and whales. Mountain meadows or whitewater rafting? Take your pick; they're all here.

7. Kenya: New Wilderness to Explore
Kenya has long been known for its national park system. Now, however, a true wilderness north of Galana that had been closed to visitors for years is open at last. In Tsavo East, you can see Kenya's healthiest herd of elephants. Here, you will be in a natural place that rivals the diversity of the far-better-known Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. Imagine a bird count of 500 different species! On the Yatta Plateau, watch the world's largest lava flow—from a distance. Be on the lookout for crocs. Stay away from the Land Rovers that drive you safely from place to place and go for a walking or camel safari.

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