Dream Destinations for Sightseers
|STILL LIFE: Typical view of the Huangshan Mountain region, China (John Wang/Photodisc/Getty)|
Lake Okeechobee (Florida)
According to estimates, there are nearly 50 million bird-watchers in the United States, an enormous army of keen observers of our fine avian friends. Every one of these birders should put Florida's Lake Okeechobee on his or her life list of places to visit. Okeechobee, known to locals as the Big Lake, is in fact the second-largest body of freshwater in the Lower 48, after Lake Michigan. Situated as it is, equidistant between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico in southern Florida, it attracts both marine and inland birds. Though large (730 square miles), it is shallow (an average depth of nine feet and a maximum of 12), and therefore wading birds such as egrets, wood ibis, sandhill cranes and blue herons are right at home here. Seen above are woodstorks gathering in a rookery in spring to raise their young. Bald eagles, pileated woodpeckers, ospreys and red-shouldered hawks nest nearby, and the rare Everglades kite can be found in the southwest section of the lake, feeding on apple snails. Cardinals are plentiful, and during migrations there are warblers; painted buntings and indigo buntings are also drop-in visitors. For birders, the trail around the lake is a pathway to enchantment.
Click here to read Away.com's Okeechobee Travel Guide
The Huangshan Mountains (China)
In Chinese art there are often depicted strange, almost surreal mountains of unnatural steepness and grandeur, enshrouded in swirling mists in their higher realms. Believe it or not, this is representational art; these mountains exist and are as dramatic as anything our imaginations might conjure. The Huangshan range in eastern China was once buried beneath an ancient sea, and later carved by glaciers. The ice did magnificent work, leaving behind dozens of the world's most impressive peaks and notches, including Huangshan's Grand Canyon. The tallest mountainsBright Summit Peak, Celestial Peak and Lotus Flower Peakhave summits more than 6,000 feet above sea level, and many others exceed 3,000 feet. The entire, largely forested range, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990, has an ethereal beauty. There are hot springs at the base of Purple Cloud Peak, and due to climactic conditions in the area, mists often form below the tops of the mountains, creating a fabulous visual effect on high known as the sea of clouds." The Huangshans are a destination of choice for the Chinese, and for anyone who revels in extraordinary Alpine landscapes.
Click here to read Away.com's Huangshan Travel Guide
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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