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The adventurer's guide to the top travel destinations in the natural world

Apr 13, 2012, 8:21 a.m.

Are you tired of 5 o'clock traffic, tall buildings blocking the sunset and huge crowds of people everywhere you go? If so, spend your next vacation immersed in the quiet beauty of the natural world by choosing a travel destination far from the hustle and bustle of modern civilization. If you're the kind of person who thrives on adventure and loves exploring all that mother nature has to offer, the following guide will grant insight on the top travel destinations in the world and the enriching experiences that await you there.

Following in Darwin's footsteps at the Galapagos Islands

Right off the coast of picturesque Ecuador lies the Galapagos Islands, which is famous for Darwin's groundbreaking research on evolution and natural selection. Darwin chose this spot in the early 1800s because of its remote location and the wide variety of animal species in the region. Today, many of these beautiful and unique species still roam the island, including iguanas, blue-footed boobies and adorable, friendly sea lion pups. In addition to sites on the island itself, you can ride out into the Pacific Ocean on a motorboat (called "pangas" by natives), put on your snorkel and explore the world beneath the sea. You can even see the colorful parrot fish, diving penguins, and the famous giant Galapagos tortoises up close when visiting the islands of Santa Cruz and Isabela.

Have an exotic Russian experience a bit closer to home at Sitka, Alaska

If you don't have a passport, you can still have a nature-filled vacation at the culturally rich town of Sitka, Alaska. Located off the coast of Baranof Island, Sitka was originally home to Russian fur traders who left a cultural mark on the town that is still present today. Visitors can purchase staple Russian souvenirs, including the famous matryoshka nesting dolls, and enjoy Russian-themed restaurants in the heart of the city. The natural part of your trip comes into play with Sitka's National Historic Park, which features a long trail that runs through a gorgeous rainforest and a 113-acre park complete with spruce trees, hemlock, exotic flora and novelty totem poles spread throughout.

Brave the cold and explore the snowy peaks of the South Georgia Islands

For stunning arctic landscape and wildlife, it doesn't get much better than the South Georgia Islands, Falkland Islands and the nearby continent of Antarctica just off the southern tip of South America. Ride on a zodiac craft to the shore of surrounding islands that feature wildlife of all kinds. According to Heidi Sarna, contributor to Frommer's Travel Guides, Gold Harbor alone is home to more than 100,000 king penguins, thousands of sea birds and several four-ton elephant seals lounging on the beach. Tour guides often note that the area is prone to whale sightings as well, so make sure to bring your camera along to capture the beauty of one of these gorgeous creatures.

Vacations in the city can be fun, but adventure trips in remote, nature-filled regions of the world can truly open your eyes to the stunning beauty of the world around us. For brave souls who want to leave industrial society behind and venture off into the wild, these travel destinations may be just what you need to get a breath of fresh air and start enjoying the simpler things in life.

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