Culture

Drop Everything You’re Doing And Take A Look At This Ridiculous National Park

Today’s agenda: the rugged, beautiful Torres Del Paine. Or, according to one early visitor, “one of the most spectacular sights that human imagination can conceive“. 

And it’s a solid flex. This UNESCO world biosphere reserve is, in fact, one of the most uncontaminated places on the planet. Every casual shot of it deserves to be slapped on a bottle of fancy mineral water. 

Everyone from backpackers, adventure junkies and Pinterest users seem to fall in love with its otherworldly mountains, lakes and glaciers at first sight. So here’s everything you NEED to know about this slice of heaven. 

Torres del Paine National Park sits in Chile’s Región de Magallanes.

Credit: Google Maps

This 1810-sq-km park is for sure one of South America’s best.  

The closest major town to it is Puerto Natales – about a four hour ride away. If you’re coming from Chile’s capital, Santiago, just hop on a plane to Punta Arenas and bus on over. 

And its landscape is to DIE for.

Credit: WilliamPatino.com

Landscape? More like dreamscape.  

The lay of the land is some of the most unique and diverse you’ll ever lay eyes on. Just imagine snow-capped horned peaks and mirror lakes. Waterfalls, emerald forests, rivers and gleaming glaciers. Are you keeping up? 

All thanks to earth movements from over 12 million years ago that shaped these unusual landforms. The resulting jaw-dropping scenery has us all eating humble pie.

Their massive granite towers – or torres – will take your breath away.

Credit: AdventureWomen.com

A definite highlight of this park is to see the torres (or towers), themselves. It’s named after them after all (Torres del Paine = Towers of Paine). 

These three granite peaks loom over the Patagonian terrain in true tower fashion; imposing and impressive. Even on a misty afternoon, the clouds swirling around the highest peak of Paine Grande (3,050m), are a sight to behold.

It’s full of majestic glaciers that you can WALK on top of. 

Credit: Corey Rich

Oh yes, and Torres Del Paine park is chock-filled with glaciers. 

Like the one in that photo, called Grey Glacier. We’d argue its more of an unreal icy blue, with jagged bumps and crevices that paint a surreal shape against the mountainside. You can ice trek your way across it, because that’s apparently, totally a thing. 

And there are plenty of glaciers to go around. 

There’s also Torre Glacier at the foot of Cerro Torre. 

Credit: Dreamstime.com

This white and turquoise masterpiece is full of ice caves and deep holes that were carved out by water. Climbing it will earn you one heck of a view of Cerro Torre, Torre Egger and other wintery wonders.

Fun fact, because glacier ice is so dense, it absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue. Hence glaciers often seem to almost glow with an ethereal blueness. 

Speaking of blue – the park is full of lakes and waterfalls in EVERY shade of it.

From ghostly greyish blue to a vivid aquamarine – this park seems to be making its way through the colour wheel. 

It’s also full of the most beautiful lakes, lagoons and rivers, all formed from glacier melt from the nearby Southern Patagonian Ice Field. The most important river is the Paine, which crosses from lake to lake, crashing spectacularly into three stunning waterfalls along the way (like Salto Grande, shown above). 

And guys. You can literally kayak right up to these giant glaciers.

Credit: ecocamp / Instagram

This isn’t your average family kayak trip. Here, you can paddle your way right up close to some of these silent icy giants floating in the lakes. Lakes that are at more than five hundred meters of depth! Phwoar. 

And, we bet you’ve never seen a sunrise like this.

Credit: Thousandwonders.net

Sunrise in this park is probably as good as it gets. Just imagine, the horns of the torres glowing purple and fiery red at early morning as first sunlight catches on the rocks. 

Plus, the park is teeming with life, from owls to armadillos.

What’s more, this park is home to a mindblowing variety of plants and animals. Andean condors wheel through the skies whilst guanacos (a close cousin of the llama) graze in the open steppe. 

Keep an eye out for foxes, Andean deer and even ARMADILLOS. Lucky visitors might even spot a puma or three. The flora is also rich in everything from desert plants to orchids. And birds are plentiful – from woodpeckers, to the great horned owl. 

And it’s a hiker’s paradise.

Credit: IntrepidAdventures / Instagram

Most unsurprisingly, the park is a huge hit with hikers. And there are loads of trail options. There’s the famous W trail that runs through the main tourist attractions, and there’s the lesser-trod O Trail that circles the mountain on a 93.2 km trail.  

Most of the hikes in Torres Del Paine are doable for anyone who comes equipped. So bring your wife, bring your kids. Hike, fish, climb, ice trek, whitewater kayak. Or just gawp at your surroundings. 

You don’t even need to rough it (unless you want to).

Credit: IntrepidAdventures / Instagram

Turns out you can actually hike its most popular trail in relative luxury. By that we mean sleeping in beds, taking actual showers and eating hot meals. Rumour has it you can even get pisco sours en route,  (supposedly served up with a tiny chunk of glacial ice).  

Happy campers just need to book their place in advance, but there’s no shortage of camping grounds. There’s even a ranger station that sells food! 

And good news is you can head there year-round.

Credit: Tom Alves

The usual peak period for travellers is from October into April when it’s warmest. There’s more sunshine, less rain, and the days are longer. 

In autumn and winter, sure temperatures drop and it’s more prone to rain. However you’d be likely to spot more wildlife and soak up a whole other level of peace and quiet (and cheaper entry!) 

Now excuse us as we book flights. 

Read: Here Are Some Hikers Of Color Who Will Inspire You To Travel The World And Explore Nature

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There’s A Mysterious “Bat Cave” Full Of Blind Snakes Near Cancun And It’s Creepy AF

Things That Matter

There’s A Mysterious “Bat Cave” Full Of Blind Snakes Near Cancun And It’s Creepy AF

Mexico is full of incredible natural beauty, so it’s no wonder that it’s frequently one of the world’s most visited destinations. People love to visit the picturesque beaches, the ancient ruins, lively cities, and relaxed pueblos. But we would imagine that few people would add this mysterious ‘bat cave’ to their list of destinations, considering it’s full of blind snakes that hang from the ceiling to catch their prey. 

Mexico’s mysterious ‘bat cave’ is part of a truly unique ecosystem. 

Cancun is one of Mexico’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s home to some of the world’s greatest beaches and tons of adventure at cenotes and Mayan ruins. But, apparently, it’s also home to a unique ecosystem that includes a so-called bat cave home to thousands of blind snakes that hang upside down. Yikes!

The cave, located less than 180 miles from Cancun’s spectacular beaches, is home to a species of blind, deaf snakes that feed mainly on flying bats.”This is the only place in the world where this happens,” Arturo Enrique Bayona Miramontes, the biologist who discovered it, told Newsweek.

The cave system remained completely unknown to tourists and surprised many scientists, who marveled as the jungle was peeled away to reveal another species, another hidden natural world.

The “cave of the hanging snakes” has a 65-foot wide mouth from which thousands of bats of seven different species swarm out every night, seeking food in and around Lake Chichancanab, some 2 miles away. When the bats return from nighttime feeding, some become food for the snakes.

The cave is a bat paradise – unless they become food for the blind and deaf snakes.

The giant cave is home to hundreds of thousands – perhaps even millions – of bats who cling to the cave’s roof. Joining them in the cave are a unique species of blind and deaf snakes that strike unsuspecting bats as they fly by.

The technique of the yellow-red rat snake is frighteningly precise, Bayona Miramontes said. “These snakes do not see or hear, but they can feel the vibrations of the bats flying, and they use that opportunity to hunt them with their body, suffocating their victims before gobbling them down.”

If you’re feeling adventurous, the cave is open to a limited number of visitors.

The cave is located nearby a very small Mayan community in Kantemó, on the Yucatan peninsula. Although the village is so small that it only has one church, the community has been working hard to protect this unique ecosystem.

Only 10 visitors are allowed inside the cave at a time and no photography is permitted. Since the pandemic began, the cave has been closed but it will reopen when the health department of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo allows tourism again.

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Mexico Is Owning The Instagram-Worthy World Of Glamping With These Bubble Hotels

Culture

Mexico Is Owning The Instagram-Worthy World Of Glamping With These Bubble Hotels

Right now just about everyone is itching to go on vacation. But considering that we’re still mid-pandemic and the call remains to socially distance, what can one do?

Sure, glamping is nothing new – it’s filled our Instagram feeds for years and was around long before that – but it may just provide travelers with that socially-distanced staycation that so many of us need right about now. Or, better yet, wait a little while longer and get yourself to Mexico where several new glamping bubble hotels are popping up.

Mexico will soon have three “bubble hotel” options for tourists looking for the next level of “glamping.”

When you think of camping, many of us think of bugs, not showering, and doing our private business behind a bush somewhere. While that’s still definitely an option for those of us that are into it, glamping has been a trend towards making the camping experience a more comfortable one.

Glamping has been gaining popularity among nature lovers, who also want to enjoy those everyday creature comforts, but in the midst of beautiful landscapes. That’s why bubble hotels have been popping up across Mexico, to offer clients a unique stay, close to nature they’re the perfect ‘getaway’ to get out of your daily routine.

From the bosque outside Mexico City to the deserts of Baja, Mexico is a glamping paradise. 

These bubble hotels have rooms described by travel guidebook publisher Lonely Planet as essentially inflatable, transparent domes designed to allow guests to cocoon themselves in nature without quite leaving their material comforts behind. 

There are already two such properties across Mexico with a third which will begin welcoming guests sometime toward the end of this year.

One of those that is already operational is Alpino Bubble Glamping in Mexico City while the other is the Campera Bubble Hotel in the Valle de Guadalupe wine region of Baja California.

Located in the Cumbres de Ajusco National Park in the south of the capital, the former has just two “bubbles,” a 40-square-meter deluxe one that goes for 4,500 pesos (about US $220) a night and a 25-square-meter standard where a stay costs a slightly more affordable 4,000 pesos.

Both have views of the Pico del Águila, the highest point of the Ajusco, or Xitle, volcano, and come equipped with telescopes that guests can use to get a better view of the surrounding scenery and night sky.

Bubble glamping isn’t the camping our parents dragged us out to do in the woods as kids.

Credit: Alpino Bubble Hotel

Sure you may be connecting with nature and enjoying awesome activities like horseback riding, stargazing, hiking or rafting, but these properties come with all the creature comforts we’re used to. 

Move nights, wifi, breakfast in bed, warm showers, luxurious bedding, and even a full bar are all standard amenities at many of these properties.

What do you think? Would you be up to stay the night at one of these bubble hotels?

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