Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com Trip Ideas, Itineraries, Maps & Area Experts Tue, 16 Jan 2018 20:02:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 https://deathstar-650a.kxcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cropped-moon_logo_M-32x32.jpg Moon Travel Guides https://moon.com 32 32 125073523 Pick Your Parade: How to Do Mardi Gras in New Orleans https://moon.com/2018/01/pick-your-parade-mardi-gras-in-new-orleans/ https://moon.com/2018/01/pick-your-parade-mardi-gras-in-new-orleans/#respond Tue, 16 Jan 2018 20:00:05 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=62427 Mardi Gras is New Orleans at its peak: colorful, over-the-top, and full of vibrant history and tradition. The festivities range from colorful street masks and costumes to balls: masquerade parties that occur at the end of a parade where the Mardi Gras royalty present themselves and party with their friends and the paying public.

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Mardi Gras is New Orleans at its peak: colorful, over-the-top, and full of vibrant history and tradition. It officially starts in February or early March, and lasts for 2–3 weeks prior to Lent (Epiphany to Ash Wednesday for those who celebrate, as “Fat Tuesday” began as a way to indulge before the fasting and solemnity of Lent). The festivities range from colorful street masks and costumes to balls: masquerade parties that occur at the end of a parade where the Mardi Gras royalty present themselves and party with their friends and the paying public.

But Mardi Gras’s most famous events are the parades themselves. Free and open to the public, the parades are sponsored by krewes, which feature colorful floats, marching bands, motorcycle squads, dancers, entertainers, and, sometimes, a royal court (the king, queen, maids, and dukes of a krewe). Spectators vie to catch throws—trinkets like beaded necklaces, stuffed animals, and commemorative doubloons—that are tossed from the various floats. For most krewes, each year brings a new theme, usually with a historical, mythical, or topical bent.

Only a few official Mardi Gras parades run through the French Quarter, including the raunchy Krewe du Vieux, the wine-themed Krewe of Cork, the dog-filled Krewe of Barkus, or the sci-fi-themed Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus. Most of the other parades in and around the city (including Uptown, Mid-City, Metairie, and communities on the west bank and north shore) are surprisingly family-friendly. Some have special throws, such as the hand-decorated shoes offered by the Krewe of Muses, which usually rolls on the Thursday before Mardi Gras weekend. Parade routes are listed in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and online (nola.com, mardigras.com, mardigrasday.com, mardigrasneworleans.com).

a crowd of people gathered to cheer and watch the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras parade floats are sponsored by organizations called krewes. Photo © sandoclr/iStock.

New Orleans Superkrewe Parades

The biggest krewes, or superkrewes, are Endymion, Bacchus, Orpheus, Zulu, and Rex, each with their own traditions, style, and themes, so make sure not to miss your favorite!

Endymion

The Krewe of Endymion is the city’s largest parade, a superkrewe that features enormous floats, magnificent court costumes, and celebrity grand marshals.
When: 4:30pm on the Saturday prior to Mardi Gras
Where: Starts near City Park and travels down Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue, culminating with its ball in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Bacchus

The Krewe of Bacchus features incredible floats and celebrity kings, from Danny Kaye to Will Ferrell. Signature floats include the Bacchasaurus, Bacchagator, and Baby Kong.
When: 5pm on the Sunday prior to Mardi Gras
Where: From Napoleon Avenue and Tchoupitoulas Street, it rolls through Uptown on Napoleon Avenue, along St. Charles Avenue, and down Canal Street, ending at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

Orpheus

Co-founded by Harry Connick Jr., the Krewe of Orpheus has featured a slew of celebrity monarchs, from Stevie Wonder to Anne Rice.
When: 6pm on Lundi Gras
Where: From the corner of Napoleon Avenue and Tchoupitoulas Street, it rolls through Uptown on Napoleon Avenue, then along St. Charles Avenue, down Canal and Tchoupitoulas Streets, to the Orpheuscapade, a black-tie event at the convention center.

Zulu

The Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club presents one of the season’s most anticipated parades, during which spectators vie for painted coconuts, the krewe’s signature throw. Zulu also hosts the Lundi Gras Festival, a free music event on the day before Fat Tuesday.
When: 8am on Mardi Gras
Where: From the corner of Jackson and South Claiborne Avenues in Uptown, it travels along Jackson Avenue, continues north on St. Charles Avenue, follows Canal and Basin Streets, and ends at Orleans Avenue and Broad Street.

Rex

Since 1872, the king of the Krewe of Rex has reigned as the king of Mardi Gras. The parade features majestic floats, masked riders, and a royal court. Mardi Gras officially ends with the Rex Ball at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel on Canal Street.
When: 10am on Mardi Gras
Where: The parade travels down Napoleon Avenue from the intersection with South Claiborne Avenue in Uptown, then along St. Charles Avenue and down Canal Street toward the Mississippi River.

Now that you’ve chosen your ideal parade, check out our tips for planning a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.


Enjoy the revelry of Mardi Gras in New Orleans this year with the help of this guide, which introduces beginners to the biggest krewes, their parade routes, and a helpful schedule of events.


Adapted from the First Edition of Moon Nashville to New Orleans Road Trip.

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6 Lesser-Known Nashville Live Music Venues https://moon.com/2018/01/6-lesser-known-nashville-live-music-venues/ https://moon.com/2018/01/6-lesser-known-nashville-live-music-venues/#respond Tue, 16 Jan 2018 18:46:48 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=62416 They call it “Music City” for a reason: Nashville’s music scene is legendary. From live venues to indie studios, rowdy honky-tonks to intimate folk shows, this is where America goes to make music.

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They call it “Music City” for a reason: Nashville’s music scene is legendary. From live venues to indie studios, rowdy honky-tonks to intimate folk shows, this is where America goes to make music. Sure, there are plenty of country shows—this is the home of country music, after all—but dig a little deeper, and you’ll see that Nashville has even more to offer than its quintessential twang. Once you’ve checked off must-visits like the Grand Ole Opry and Bluebird Café, check out some of these indie alternatives. They may be missing from some of the tourist listicles, but the spirit of Music City is alive and well in these lesser-known venues.

exterior view of the live music venue The Basement in Nashville

The Basement provides a divey-but-intimate live music experience. Photo © Jen M. Silver, courtesy of The Basement.

The Basement

The name of The Basement (917 Woodland Ave., 615/645-9174) alone should tip patrons off to the vibe here: dark, divey, and a little rough around the edges. But that’s what makes the venue so wonderfully intimate, and draws music aficionados to its performances showcasing local singer-songwriters, rockers, and more. They host ticketed events, but there are also plenty of free shows with seats on a first come, first serve basis. Added bonus: they serve food!

Mercy Lounge

Locally popular club Mercy Lounge (One Cannery Row., 615/251-3020) has been showcasing up-and-coming Nashville bands and nationally known artists since 2003. It’s far enough away from the bustling downtown scene to feel like a well-kept secret, but busy enough that you know you’re onto something good. Performers have included Alabama Shakes, HAIM, The Black Keys, and Snoop Dogg—just to name a few. You’ll also get a little taste of old Nashville here: the venue is located in the city’s historic Cannery building, built in 1883. The structure has housed multiple venues—in a past life, you might have caught an Iggy Pop or Greg Allman show here!

crowd of people watching a band perform at Mercy Lounge in Nashville

Nashville’s Mercy Lounge. Photo © Nolan Knight, courtesy of Mercy Lounge.

Exit/In

While not technically an indie venue by most standards, this spot on Elliston Place (colloquially know as “Rock Block”) is the stuff of Nashville legend. With past performers that have included The Ramones, Death Cab for Cutie, Talking Heads, Etta James, and oh-so-many more, Exit/In (2208 Elliston Pl., 615/321-3340) has built a name for itself as one of the most historic rock venues in town. Drinks are fairly priced, bookings vary to suit just about every taste, and the crowd is welcoming. In short, you’re guaranteed a good time here.

The End

If the raucous energy is still calling your name, head across the street from Exit/In to The End (2219 Elliston Pl., 615/321-4457): a long-running dive that has hosted the likes of Fugazi, The Kills, The Flaming Lips, REM, and more. Whether you catch a household name, a local punk band, or an up-and-coming rapper, the infectious fun at The End will keep you dancing long after the end of the show.

Third Man Records Blue Room

Third Man Records (623 7th Avenue South, 615/891-4393) is an independent record label founded by Jack White (one half of the Detroit rock duo The White Stripes) that has become as synonymous with Nashville as hot chicken (okay, nearly). Intentionally built in a less-than-prosperous neighborhood, the label made full Nashville assimilation its raison d’être. From country and blues to old-fashioned rock n’ roll, TMR’s artists include Margo Price, Wolf Eyes, Wanda Jackson, White’s own The Dead Weather, and of course, White himself. You can listen for yourself at the label’s Blue Room—the only live venue in the world where artists can record their performances direct-to-acetate. Check out TMR’s website for upcoming shows.

back view of Fontanel Mansion where live music is hosted in the summer

From May to September, the Fontanel hosts the Back Porch Concert Series. Photo courtesy of Fontanel Nashville.

The Fontanel

Sitting just outside Nashville proper in Whites Creek, this 136-acre former estate of country music icon Barbara Mandrell has been drawing locals and tourists alike since 2010. There’s plenty to do at The Fontanel (4125 Whites Creek Pike, Whites Creek, TN. 615/724-1600), from strolling the trails to touring the mansion, but the live music is the real charmer. Head to the Café Fontanella to hear local artists and dine on delicious Southern and Italian cuisine. In the summer, check out the Fontanel’s Back Porch Concert Series: an outdoor live show every Thursday evening from May to September. Admission is free, and attendees are invited to bring a picnic blanket or lawn chair, relax by the fire pit, and enjoy the melodies wafting in the summer breeze.


They call it “Music City” for a reason: Nashville’s music scene is legendary. These 6 Nashville live music venues may be lesser-known, but are no less fantastic for an intimate and lively concert experience.


Find more recommendations for what to do in and around Music City in Moon Nashville to New Orleans Road Trip.

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10 Tips for Planning a Trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras https://moon.com/2018/01/planning-a-trip-new-orleans-mardi-gras/ https://moon.com/2018/01/planning-a-trip-new-orleans-mardi-gras/#respond Sun, 14 Jan 2018 03:49:21 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=62404 Let the good times roll. This motto is at the heart of Mardi Gras, where for a few blissful weeks people live life to the fullest. But your trip could flop without careful planning: luckily, here are 10 ways to make sure you have the perfect Mardi Gras.

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Laissez les bon temps rouler: Let the good times roll. This motto is at the heart of Mardi Gras, where for a few blissful weeks people live life to the fullest. But your trip to New Orleans could flop without careful planning: luckily, here are 10 ways to make sure you have the perfect Mardi Gras.

masks and mardi gras decorations in new orleans

New Orleans is the place to be for Mardi Gras! Photo © jkaufmann88/iStock.

1. Know when to go.

Carnival season technically begins on January 6 (known as Twelfth Night, or the Feast of the Epiphany), but Mardi Gras Day shifts every season from mid-February to early March. Mardi Gras parades usually start about two weeks prior to Fat Tuesday, but most revelers venture to New Orleans for the weekend preceding the climactic day—from the Friday before Fat Tuesday through midnight on Mardi Gras.

2. Know where to stay and book ahead.

Make reservations well in advance. Note that many hotels require a minimum stay of three nights during Mardi Gras weekend, and costly special-event rates may apply. Although you’ll find cheaper hotels near the airport, staying there will require renting a pricey car and enduring long commutes to reach the main festivities. You’ll save time by staying in a more convenient neighborhood, such as the French Quarter. For a good night’s sleep, stay in the CBD or Faubourg Marigny districts, both of which lie within walking distance of the Quarter. As an alternative, you can stay in some of the quieter inns throughout the Garden District, Uptown, and Mid-City, most of which are accessible via the streetcar lines.

3. Pick your neighborhood.

Mardi Gras is intense, so pick your neighborhood to get your ideal dosage. If you seek debauchery, the French Quarter will not let you down. However, celebrations elsewhere in the city—notably in Uptown along the St. Charles Avenue parade route or in Metairie along Veterans Memorial Boulevard—are much more family-oriented and tend to be dominated by locals, or at least Louisianians.

4. The best deals are online.

Utilize Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks for last-minute hotel deals, ride-sharing possibilities, and other ways to save time and money during peak travel weeks. The New Orleans CVB routinely posts information about upcoming events, so check in regularly!

5. Beware of scams.

Many residents rent out rooms and cottages for Mardi Gras visitors. While you may find a good deal this way, make arrangements as early as possible and be aware of unscrupulous landlords.

streetcar traveling in New Orleans

Use alternative transportation methods during Mardi Gras. Photo © Wandersmann/iStock.

6. Plan your transportation.

During Mardi Gras, the French Quarter is closed to non-essential vehicular traffic. Hailing a cab can be difficult (even with ridesharing, the streets are full of people), so many visitors prefer getting around town via bus, streetcar, or foot. Some even opt to rent a bicycle (or bring their own).

7. Stake out seats.

If you want to be close to the floats, you’ll need to arrive several hours early. For major parades, such as Endymion, many people set up blankets, chairs, and ladders the day before, and stay with them, as it’s illegal to leave such marked areas unattended. Pick a spot near a public restroom, and bring snacks, beverages, and portable chairs. Given the influx of out-of-towners, make reservations at your can’t-miss restaurants or dine at off-peak times.

8. Prepare for mayhem.

The French Quarter might be the rowdiest neighborhood, but city festivals are prime events for boisterous crowds and opportunistic crime. Visit with a friend (or several), arrange regular meeting spots when splitting up, and keep an eye on your wallet. Float riders in the major parades, like Endymion and Bacchus, tend to hurl trinkets with unnecessary force, so look out.

9. Wear a costume.

On Mardi Gras Day, you’ll see costumed revelers dressed as everything from pop culture icons to political statements. Do as the locals do and wear a costume (or at least purchase a mask, available in shops throughout the Quarter); it might even get you cheaper invitations to a Mardi Gras ball! Remember to prepare for the possibility of cold, rainy weather, which is common in February and March.

10. Eat king cake.

King cake, essentially a giant cinnamon roll, is the season’s most famous treat. Grab a slice at a local coffeehouse or pick up an entire cake at places like Rouses Market, Gambino’s Bakery, Haydel’s Bakery, Maurice French Pastries, and the seasonal Manny Randazzo King Cakes.

If it's your first time planning a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, careful planning is in order. Luckily, we've got 10 expert tips for making sure your NOLA trip is perfect.


Adapted from Moon Nashville to New Orleans Road Trip.

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8-Day Falkland Islands Travel Itinerary https://moon.com/2018/01/8-day-falkland-islands-travel-itinerary/ https://moon.com/2018/01/8-day-falkland-islands-travel-itinerary/#respond Sat, 13 Jan 2018 19:22:48 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61720 For visitors to southernmost Patagonia, the Falklands make an intriguing detour, but an inflexible one. The islands offer unique wildlife viewing opportunities. Colonies of Sea Lions, Elephant Seals, Penguins and other sea birds are a must-see for travelers.

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For visitors to southernmost Patagonia, travel to the Falkland Islands makes for an intriguing detour, but an inflexible one. There is only one weekly flight, on Saturday, from the Chilean city of Punta Arenas to the Mount Pleasant International Airport (MPN). Likewise, travel within the islands requires, for the most part, using air taxis whose itineraries depend on demand rather than fixed schedules. For a visit this short, and with limited accommodations, advance arrangements are nearly essential. Depending on availability, other sites could be substituted for those mentioned.

Most visitors enjoy the islands between October and March, when migratory seabirds and marine mammals return to the shoreline to breed. The concentrations of penguins, cormorants, albatrosses, elephant seals, and other species are greatest in December and January, when chicks and pups are present; these are also the longest days of summer, with more flexibility for wildlife-watching. That said, signature bird species such as the king penguin are present year-round.

blue waters on the shore of coastal Falkland Islands

Coastline of the Falkland Islands. Photo © Cheryl Ramalho/iStock.

Day 1

Arrive at Mount Pleasant and make an immediate FIGAS flight connection to Pebble Island, West Falkland. Overnight at Pebble Island Lodge, with a visit to 1982 combat sites and nearby seabird and marine mammal colonies. Alternatively, fly to Saunders Island, with self-catering accommodations; visit 18th-century ruins of the earliest British settlement and the bird-rich shoreline.

Day 2

Enjoy a full-day exploration of Pebble Island wildlife sites, with gentoo and rockhopper penguins, the occasional king penguin, and sea lions. Alternatively, on Saunders, take a long but rewarding hike to diverse penguin and black-browed albatross colonies at “The Neck” or to similar wildlife at “The Rookery.”

Days 3-4

Catch a FIGAS flight to Carcass Island, West Falkland, with elephant seal colonies and many birds, including an abundance of the striated caracara, a rare but remarkably tame raptor. Stay at Carcass Island ranch.

striated caracars on the Falkland Islands in Patagonia

Striated caracaras on the Falkland Islands. Photo © Jeremy Richards/iStock.

Day 5

Take FIGAS to Sea Lion Island, East Falkland, home to three penguin species, large elephant seal and sea lion colonies, giant petrels, uncommon small birds, and large stands of native tussac grass, more than two meters high. Stay at Sea Lion Lodge.

Alternatively, visit Bleaker Island, which has most of the same wildlife as Sea Lion, with less expensive but still comfortable accommodations.

Day 6

Do morning sightseeing on Sea Lion or Bleaker, with an afternoon FIGAS flight to Stanley. Find hotel or B&B accommodations in town.

penguins on the beach in the falkland islands

Colony of Gentoo Penguins in the Falkland Islands. Photo © Cheryl Romalho/iStock.

Day 7

Take a full-day overland excursion to Volunteer Point to visit the king penguin colony, also with gentoos and Magellanics, returning to Stanley in the afternoon. Do a Friday-night pub crawl, if desired.

Day 8

Morning is free for sightseeing in Stanley, with an early-afternoon departure for Punta Arenas.


There's only one flight a week to and from the Falkland Islands, but this remote and beautiful Patagonian destination is worth including in your travel itinerary. Here's how to make the most of your week.


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

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Patagonia Vacation Itinerary: 2 Weeks in Nature https://moon.com/2018/01/patagonia-vacation-itinerary-2-weeks-nature/ https://moon.com/2018/01/patagonia-vacation-itinerary-2-weeks-nature/#respond Sat, 13 Jan 2018 18:28:06 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61653 Patagonia offers an astonishing diversity of natural environments for travelers to explore on a 2-week vacation. The coastline abounds in wildlife, including elephant seals, penguins, and sea lions.

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Patagonia offers an astonishing diversity of natural environments for travelers to explore on a 2-week vacation. The coastline abounds in wildlife, including elephant seals, penguins, and sea lions, but the great distances require time and money to see it. Public transportation is fine along the main highway but poor off it. The same is true of the Patagonian steppes, home to the llama-like guanaco and the ostrich-like rhea, and the southern Andean forests beyond the main tourist clusters.

Northern Argentine Patagonia boasts major paleontological sites in and around the city of Neuquén, and in and around the city of Trelew, near Puerto Madryn, as well as the wildlife mecca of Península Valdés. Along much of the Andes, particularly on the Chilean side, volcanism is an active presence.

steaming crater of Villarrica volcano in Chilean Patagonia

Volcanic features abound in Patagonia. Pictured here is the Villarrica Crater in Chile. Photo © Martinelli83/iStock.

Day 1

After an early-morning arrival in Santiago, start sightseeing. Plan on a seafood lunch at the picturesque Mercado Central and a visit to the information offices of Conaf, the country’s main national parks and conservation agency. Alternatively, in lieu of a hotel, ride a comfortable sleeper bus to Temuco, gateway to the upper Biobío’s araucaria forests.

Day 2

From Temuco, reached by sleeper bus (roughly nine hours) or a two-hour flight from Santiago, rent a car to explore the streams, gallery forests, and araucaria woodlands of Parque Nacional Tolhuaca and the upper Biobío, with accommodations at Curacautín or Malalcahuello. Bring binoculars for bird-watching.

trees of Araucarias in Malalcahuello National Park Chilean Patagonia

Araucarias in Chile’s Malalcahuello National Park. Photo © ToniFlap/iStock.

Day 3

Plan a full-day hiking excursion to araucaria forests above Malalcahuello, on the slopes of Volcán Lonquimay, with a post-hike soak at the nearby hot springs.

Days 4-5

Take a leisurely drive in the upper Biobío through Lonquimay and forested, thinly populated land of the Pehuenche people, entering Parque Nacional Conguillío via the southern Melipeuco approach. It’s about 150 kilometers, but plan on a full day with sightseeing and photographic stops. After an orientation visit to the visitors center, camp or find cabaña accommodations nearby.

On the following day, try any of several hikes among Conguillío’s lava fields and araucaria forests.

aerial view of forest and lake in Conguillio National Park in Chile

Explore the araucaria forest in Parque Nacional Conguillío. Photo © Alberto Loyo/iStock.

Days 6-7

Make a morning departure for Lago Villarrica (100 kilometers), with accommodations in Villarrica or Pucón (20 kilometers farther). The drive is only a couple of hours, leaving most of the day free. Plan an excursion to the Termas Geométricas hot springs or an afternoon rafting on the Río Trancura.

The next morning, tackle a strenuous full-day climb to the crater of Volcán Villarrica, one of the continent’s most active volcanoes. Alternatively, spend a full day hiking to the Andean lakes of nearby Parque Nacional Huerquehue where, with luck, Andean condors glide overhead.

Day 8

Return to Temuco and bus to Puerto Varas (5 hours), spending a leisurely afternoon on the shores of Lago Llanquihue, in the shadow of Volcán Osorno’s perfect snowcapped cone—Chile’s counterpart to Mount Fuji. Alternatively, take a shuttle to the ski area, where, even in summer, the lifts carry hikers close to the snow line for panoramic views.

the city of Puerto Varas backed by Llanquihue Lake and Osorno Volcano in Chilean Patagonia

Puerto Varas sits on the shores of Lago Llanquihue and has fantastic views of Volcán Osorno. Photo © Dmitry Saparov/iStock.

Days 9-10

Hope for fine weather on the classic, full-day bus-boat shuttle to Bariloche, Argentina, via Lago Todos los Santos. Stay in or near Bariloche.

The next morning, tour Bariloche and its Museo de la Patagonia Francisco P. Moreno, which emphasizes natural history and conservation. In the afternoon, plan an excursion on Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi’s Circuito Chico, a loop that includes a stiff trail hike to Cerro López for panoramic views of the Andes and Lago Nahuel Huapi. Alternatively, boat to the lake’s Isla Victoria, formerly home to the park system’s ranger school.

Day 11

From Bariloche, a smooth paved highway rounds Nahuel Huapi’s eastern shore and then turns northwest to Villa La Angostura (1 hour’s drive). A long but not taxing day hike leads to the myrtle forest of Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes and back. Those with less stamina can take a boat one-way or round-trip. Return to Bariloche for a comfortable overnight sleeper bus to Puerto Madryn (14 hours).

Sea lions bask on a beach south of Puerto Madryn, Argentina.

Sea lions bask on a beach south of Puerto Madryn, Argentina. Photo © byvalet/123rf.

Days 12-13

Start the day with a visit to the Ecocentro Puerto Madryn, an environmental museum. In the afternoon, take time for in-town beach activities such as diving or windsurfing.

The following morning, depart early by tour bus or rental car for Península Valdés (about 1 hour away). Depending on the season, there will be elephant seals, penguins, orcas, or right whales. Many other species—rheas, guanacos, and sea lions, for instance—are present year-round.

Day 14

Catch a morning flight to Buenos Aires, with the afternoon free for and lunch and sightseeing. Plan an evening departure flight for home.


Spend two weeks in Chile and Argentina exploring Pacific coastline, Patagonian steppes, national parks, and the Andes mountains with this nature-inspired Patagonia vacation itinerary.


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

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Visiting Patagonia’s Perito Moreno National Park https://moon.com/2018/01/visiting-patagonia-perito-moreno-national-park/ https://moon.com/2018/01/visiting-patagonia-perito-moreno-national-park/#respond Sat, 13 Jan 2018 17:00:14 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61620 The Sierra Colorada’s intensely colored sedimentary summits are the backdrop for the lake-laden, wind-whipped, and wildlife-rich high country of Parque Nacional Perito Moreno, which is possibly Patagonia’s wildest park.

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The Sierra Colorada’s intensely colored sedimentary summits are the backdrop for the lake-laden, wind-whipped, and wildlife-rich high country of Parque Nacional Perito Moreno, named for the founder of Argentina’s park system. Possibly Patagonia’s wildest park, where Paleo-Indians covered cave walls with images of guanacos and human hands, it’s a major reason travelers have braved the past rigors of La Cuarenta.

belgrano lake winds through the Sierra Colorada in Perito Moreno National Park in Argentine Patagonia

Lago Belgrano in Parque Nacional Perito Moreno. Photo © Dmitry_Saparov/iStock.

Comprising 115,000 hectares of Patagonian steppe, sub-Antarctic forest, glacial lakes and fjords, and high Andean pastures, the park is 220 kilometers northwest of Gobernador Gregores via RN 40 and RP 37. It’s 310 kilometers southwest of the town of Perito Moreno via RN 40 and RP 37.

At 900 meters, its base elevation is higher than Los Glaciares, and its climate is colder, wetter, and more unpredictable. Its highest summit is 2,254-meter Cerro Mié. Snowcapped 3,700-meter Cerro San Lorenzo, north of the park boundary, is even higher.

In the drier eastern steppes, the dominant vegetation consists of bunch grasses known collectively as coirón. To the west there’s a transitional wind-flagged forest of lenga and ñire, the ubiquitous southern beeches. In more sheltered areas, there are dense and nearly pure lenga stands along the shores of Lago Azara and Lago Nansen.

Troops of guanacos patrol the steppes and even some of the high country where there is summer pasture; the huemul (Andean deer) grazes the uplands in summer but winters at lower elevations. The puma is the top predator, but there are lesser killers in red and gray foxes. The pilquín or chinchillón anaranjado is a species of viscacha unique to Santa Cruz province and southernmost Chile.

The largest birds are the Andean condor and the flightless rhea. Other impressive species include the águila mora (black-chested buzzard eagle), the large ñacurutú owl, Patagonian woodpeckers, and the carancho (crested caracara). The many lakes and streams support abundant wildfowl, including flamingos, black-necked swans, grebes, wild geese, and steamer ducks. Unlike other Patagonian lakes, those within the park have remained free of introduced fish species.

South American guanaco grazing in Perito Moreno National Park in Patagonia

Guanacos graze in the Patagonian steppes. Photo © Mandy2110/iStock.

Sights and Recreation

While Lago Burmeister is worth a visit, the cave paintings are closed to public access. There are large troops of guanacos on Península Belgrano, reached by an isthmus immediately west of Estancia Belgrano (which is no longer a tourist ranch).

One of the best day hikes is 1,434-meter Cerro León, a 2.5-hour climb immediately north of Estancia La Oriental, which offers the area’s best, easily accessible panoramas (be prepared for changeable weather). The volcanic overhang known as the Cerro de los Cóndores is the flight school for condor chicks.

Accommodations

There are free but barren campsites with pit toilets at the APN’s Centro de Informes, at the park entrance. The more appealing Lago Burmeister campground consists of Tehuelche-style lean-tos in dense lenga forest. The water is potable, but no supplies are available—campers must bring everything.

On Lago Belgrano’s north shore, Estancia La Oriental (Rivadavia 936, San Julián, Buenos Aires tel./fax 011/4152-6901, Nov.-Apr., US$150 d, US$70 dorm for up to 4 people, camping US$30 per tent for up to 3 people, with hot showers) has both conventional accommodations (seven rooms sleeping up to 22 guests) and protected campsites near the lodge. The breakfasts (US$10) of homemade scones, bread, jam, ham, and cheese deserve a detour, but the dinners (US$35) are nothing special.

Transportation and Services

Rangers at the Centro de Informes, at the park entrance, provide maps and brochures and offer guided hikes and visits; they can also be reached through the APN (Paseo 9 de Julio 610, tel./fax 02962/49-1477, peritomoreno@apn.gov.ar) in Gobernador Gregores. There is no admission charge, but the park closes to the public from May to October.

Rental cars offer the greatest flexibility, though it’s possible to hire a car and driver in Gobernador Gregores or the town of Perito Moreno. Hitching from the highway junction is feasible but uncertain.


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

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Top Things To Do in El Calafate, Argentina https://moon.com/2018/01/top-things-to-do-in-el-calafate-argentina/ https://moon.com/2018/01/top-things-to-do-in-el-calafate-argentina/#respond Sat, 13 Jan 2018 16:42:47 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61070 El Calafate is the poster child for Argentina’s tourism boom. The gateway to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and its spectacular Glaciar Perito Moreno, it has its own points of interest to explore.

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Spreading along the south shore of Lago Argentino, a giant glacial trough fed by meltwater from the Campo de Hielo Sur, fast-growing El Calafate is the poster child for Argentina’s tourism boom. The gateway to Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and its spectacular Glaciar Perito Moreno, it has its own point of interest in the Glaciarium, a new museum of and about the rivers of ice. Here are a few suggestions for things to do in El Calafate during your visit.

bright blue sky over the freshwater Argentino Lake in El Calafate Patagonia

Lago Argentino in El Calafate. Photo © IcyS/iStock.

Orientation

El Calafate (pop. 21,500) is 320 kilometers northwest of Río Gallegos and 32 kilometers west of northbound RP 40, which leads to the wilder El Chaltén sector of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and an adventurous overland route to Chile. While only about 50 or 60 kilometers from Torres del Paine as the crow flies, the town is 215 kilometers from the Cerro Castillo border crossing and about 305 kilometers from Puerto Natales via Argentine highways RN 40, RP 5, and RP 11, plus a short distance on the Chilean side.

A former stage stop, El Calafate has an elongated city plan that has spread barely a few blocks north and south of its main east-west thoroughfare, the pompously named Avenida del Libertador General José de San Martín (for Argentina’s independence hero). Most services and points of interest are close to “Avenida Libertador” or “San Martín,” as the street is variously called, but explosive hotel growth has taken place to the east, on and near the former airfield.

Sights in El Calafate

West of town on the road to the Glaciar Perito Moreno, the Glaciarium (RP 11, Km 6, tel. 02902/49-7912, 9am-9pm daily, US$20 adults, US$8 ages 6-12) places the Patagonian ice sheets in natural and historical perspective, in state-of-the-art hilltop facilities. Within its walls (shaped to mimic the angular ice blocks on a glacier’s tongue), sophisticated exhibits focus on the formation of the southern Patagonian fields, their original coverage and present extent, and details on individual glaciers. There are also detailed accounts of discovery and research, with special emphasis on explorer and conservationist Francisco P. Moreno. In fact, there’s even a robot of an elderly Moreno at his desk, writing his memoirs with a spoken narration of his thoughts.

Built with private funds, the museum promotes public consciousness of climate change and environmental deterioration. The consulting glaciologist is Pedro Skvarca, an early mountaineer in the region who found his life’s calling in the preservation of the massive rivers of ice and the summits that surround them. In addition to the regular exhibits, there is an art space and a 120-seat theater that offers a 3-D tour of the glaciers themselves, worthwhile for those who lack time to visit all of them. There’s also a café for snacks and sandwiches, as well as the Glaciobar Branca, a subterranean ice bar (US$12 more; US$6 under age 16). It’s a good distance from town, so it offers its own free shuttles hourly.

view of the outside architecture of the Glaciarium museum in El Calafate Argentina

El Calafate’s Glaciarium was built to mimic glacial ice blocks. Photo courtesy of the Glaciarium.

In town, the Centro de Interpretación Histórica (Almirante Brown and Bonarelli, tel. 02902/49-2799, 10am-8pm daily Sept.-Apr., 11am-5pm daily May-Aug., US$10 adults, US$6 over age 65, US$5 ages 6-12) offers a sophisticated timeline that puts southern Patagonia’s natural, cultural, and historical events in context. It has many photographs, good English translations, and a quality library. Admission includes remise (meterless taxi) transportation from downtown.

The Museo Regional El Calafate (Av. Libertador 575, tel. 02902/49-1924, 8am-2pm Mon.-Fri., free) has sparse exhibits on paleontology, natural history, geology, and ethnology. The pioneer families’ photographic histories show promise, but it still lacks an explanation of the 1920s labor unrest that led to several shooting deaths on the estancias.

At the north edge of town, Reserva Municipal Laguna Nimez is a freshwater body frequented by more than 100 bird species. Guides from the Universidad de la Patagonia now take visitors for interpretive walks (10am-8pm daily, US$6 pp) through the wetlands and along the lakeshore. Information is available at the municipal tourist office (Coronel Rosales s/n, tel. 02902/49-1090, 8am-8pm daily).

One sight that locals know but few foreigners recognize is the Casa Kirchner (Los Gauchos and Namuncurá), home of the late president Néstor Kirchner and his wife, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Maps - Patagonia 4e - El Calafate, Argentina

El Calafate, Argentina


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

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Things to See in St. Petersburg, Florida https://moon.com/2018/01/things-to-see-in-st-petersburg-florida/ https://moon.com/2018/01/things-to-see-in-st-petersburg-florida/#respond Sat, 13 Jan 2018 15:39:08 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61762 The city of St. Petersburg lies on the bay side of the Pinellas County peninsula. It has more history, more of a sense of place and sophistication than the beach towns along the Gulf side.

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The city of St. Petersburg lies on the bay side of the Pinellas County peninsula. It has more history, more of a sense of place and sophistication than the beach towns along the Gulf side. There are romantic bed-and-breakfasts, fine restaurants, and cultural attractions. If you are planning a trip to Florida, here are some of the best things to see in St. Petersburg.

front facade of Dali Museum in St. Petersburg Florida

The Dalí Museum houses the most comprehensive collection of surrealist works by the artist. Photo ©2018 – Salvador Dalí Museum, Inc., St. Petersburg, FL.

Salvador Dalí Museum

Perhaps the most popular art museum in Pinellas County is the Salvador Dalí Museum (1 Dali Blvd., St. Petersburg, 727/823-3767, 10am-5:30pm Fri.-Wed., 10am-8pm Thurs., $24 adults, $22 seniors, military, police, firefighters, and educators with ID, $17 students, $10 ages 6-12, free under age 6), the world’s most comprehensive collection of permanent works by the famous Spanish surrealist master, with other exhibits relating to Dalí. Opened in 2011 to worldwide acclaim, the architect Yann Weymouth designed an awe-inspiring building described as a “building that combines the rational with the fantastical: a simple rectangle with 18-inch thick hurricane-proof walls out of which erupts a large free-form geodesic glass bubble known as the enigma.” The impressive helical staircase inside the building recalls Dalí’s own obsession with spirals and the double helix shape of the DNA molecule.

The new Avante Garden outside the building extends this theme and provides a calming space to explore the relationship between math and nature. The new museum has quickly become nearly as popular as the collection housed inside. AOL Travel News listed the museum as one of the top 20 buildings to see in your lifetime, and the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects named it as the top museum design in the state.

Dalí himself is as recognizable as his “paranoiac-critical” paintings. Maybe only Van Gogh in his post-ear incident self-portrait is more reliably identified than Dalí, with his long waxed mustache and extreme arched eyebrows. Upon moving to the United States in the 1940s, Dalí made himself the lovable eccentric who introduced the average American to surrealism—and the average American really liked it.

The Salvador Dalí Museum is a dense concentration of his surrealist works, what he described as a “spontaneous method of irrational knowledge based on the critical and systematic objectivation of delirious associations and interpretations.”

The museum is wonderful—a great space where the work is described and presented well. Even if you don’t care for what you have seen of his work in books and prints, it is an incredible experience to view the original works in their larger-than-life sizes. And if you have never experienced his works at all, the museum is almost sure to make you a fan.

Museum of Fine Arts

In 2008, the Museum of Fine Arts (255 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, 727/896-2667, 10am-5pm Mon.-Sat., noon-5pm Sun., $17 adults, $15 seniors and military, $10 students and ages 7-18, free under age 7) unveiled its much-anticipated Hazel Hough Wing. It started with a gangbuster exhibition of works that have been rarely on view, or in some cases never before displayed at the MFA. Featuring works by such noted artists as Renoir, Léger, Pissarro, Matisse, Fabergé, Chuck Close, and James Rosenquist, it showcased just how marvelous the museum’s collection is. Right on the waterfront adjacent to Straub Park, the museum contains a full range of art from antiquity to the present day. The collection of 4,000 objects includes significant works by Cézanne, Monet, Gauguin, Renoir, Rodin, and O’Keeffe. Its permanent collection’s strength is 17th- and 18th-century European art, and the museum has a lovely garden as well.

replica of the Benoist airplane at the St. Petersburg Museum of History

Replica of the Benoist XIV, the world’s first commercial airliner. Photo courtesy of St. Petersburg Museum of History.

St. Petersburg Museum of History

St. Petersburg Museum of History (335 2nd Ave. NE, St. Petersburg, 727/894-1052, 10am-5pm Mon.-Sat., noon-5pm Sun., $15 adults, $12 seniors, $9 military, veterans, students, and ages 6-17) is one of the oldest historical museums in the state, with family-friendly displays and exhibits depicting St. Petersburg’s past. It was remodeled and enlarged in 2005, with a local history exhibit that contains a Native American dugout canoe, an exact replica of the world’s first scheduled commercial airliner (it flew out of St. Petersburg), and lots of other interesting exhibits.

Florida Holocaust Museum

The Florida Holocaust Museum (55 5th St. S., St. Petersburg, 727/820-0100, 10am-5pm daily, $16 adults, $14 seniors, $10 college students, $8 under age 18) is the third largest of its kind in the United States. Part of the museum is devoted to the memory of the millions of victims of the Holocaust, and it also showcases loosely linked exhibits, such as the work of Czech artist Charles Pachner (who lost his whole family during the war) or the mixed-media paintings, sculptures, and installations of contemporary French artist Marc Ash.

photographs and a boxcar at the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg

The Boxcar Exhibit at the Florida Holocaust Museum. Photo courtesy of the Florida Holocaust Museum.

The Morean Arts Center

The arts are booming in St. Petersburg, especially visual arts. Opened in 2010, the 5,000 square feet of gallery space at the Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center (719 Central Ave., 727/822-7872, 10am-5pm Mon.-Sat., noon-5pm Sun., $20) is a beautiful showcase for the Seattle glassblower’s eccentric work. The center is divided into six small galleries, plus classroom space for ceramics, painting, drawing, digital imaging, photography, printmaking, jewelry making, metalworking, and sculpture classes.

Great Explorations

After spending time at Sunken Gardens, give the kids their due next door at Great Explorations (1925 4th St. N., St. Petersburg, 727/821-8992, 10am-4:30pm Mon.-Sat., noon-4:30pm Sun., $10, $9 seniors, free under age 2). The hands-on science center has lots of slick educational exhibits on things like the hydrologic cycle or ecosystem of the estuary. Many of the exhibits are best appreciated by kids up to about age 11, but exhibits such as Gears and the Laser Harp have appeal even to older kids. If your family enjoys hands-on science museums, head over to Tampa’s MOSI for a bigger dose.

the St. Petersburg pier and a large boat at sunset

The pier is under renovation, but visitors can still enjoy a ride on a chartered boat. Photo © Moose Henderson/iStock.

The St. Petersburg Pier

As of 2017, The Pier (800 2nd Ave. NE, St. Petersburg, 727/895-7437) is undergoing a massive renovation that will bring more waterfront commerce space and extend the park along the shoreline. When it’s finished, you’ll be able to rent bikes, grab a rental rod and reel and fish off the end, visit the little aquarium, dine in the family-friendly food court, or browse the complex’s many shops. During renovation, you can still depart from the marina on a sightseeing boat charter, or see a flick at the 20-screen movie theater nearby.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Tampa & St. Petersburg.

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San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina https://moon.com/2018/01/san-carlos-de-bariloche-argentina/ https://moon.com/2018/01/san-carlos-de-bariloche-argentina/#respond Sat, 13 Jan 2018 06:32:19 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61618 If Patagonia ever became independent, its logical capital might be San Carlos de Bariloche, the highest-profile destination in an area explorer Francisco P. Moreno called “this beautiful piece of Argentine Switzerland.”

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If Patagonia ever became independent, its logical capital might be Argentina’s San Carlos de Bariloche, the highest-profile destination in an area explorer Francisco P. Moreno called “this beautiful piece of Argentine Switzerland.” Bariloche, with its incomparable Nahuel Huapi setting, is the Lake District’s largest city, transportation hub, and gateway to Argentina’s first national park. Moreover, in the 1930s, the carved granite blocks and rough-hewn polished timbers of its landmark Centro Cívico set a promising precedent for harmonizing urban expansion with wilder surroundings.

view of Bariloche, Argetina, and Nahuel Huapi Lake on a sunny day in Patagonia

San Carlos de Bariloche and Lago Nahuel Huapi. Photo © Elijah-Lovkoff/iStock.

Dating from 1902, Bariloche was slow to grow. When former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt visited in 1913, he observed:

Bariloche is a real frontier village. . . . It was like one of our frontier towns in the old-time West as regards the diversity in ethnic type and nationality among the citizens. The little houses stood well away from one another on the broad, rough, faintly marked streets.

When Roosevelt crossed the Andes from Chile, Bariloche was more than 400 kilometers from the nearest railroad, but it boomed after completion of the Ferrocarril Roca’s southern branch in 1934. Its rustically sophisticated style has spread throughout the region—even to phone booths. Unrelenting growth, promoted by unscrupulous politicians and developers, has detracted from its Euro-Andean charm. For much of the day, for instance, the Bariloche Center, a multistory monstrosity authorized by the brief and irregular repeal of height-limit legislation, overshadows the Centro Cívico.

As the population has grown from near 50,000 in 1980 to over 110,000 in 2010, its microcentro has become a clutter of chocolate shops, hotels, and timeshares and is notorious for high-school graduation bashes that leave hotel rooms in ruins. Student tourism is declining, in relative terms at least, but Bariloche still lags behind aspirations that were once higher than Cerro Catedral’s ski areas. Like other Patagonian destinations, it booms in the summer months of December, January, and February.

Bariloche holds a unique place in Argentine cinema as the location for Emilio Vieyra’s Sangre de Vírgenes (Blood of the Virgins), a Hammer-style vampire flick that was ahead of its time when shot in 1967 (it’s available on DVD). Perhaps Vieyra envisaged the unsavory things to come, but Bariloche’s bloodsuckers are only part of the story. The city and its surroundings still have much to offer, and at reasonable cost. Many of the best accommodations, restaurants, and other services lie along or near Avenida Bustillo between Bariloche proper and Llao Llao, about 25 kilometers west.

architectural details of the clock tower in Bariloche Argentine Patagonia

The municipal clock tower in Centro Cívico. Photo © Rudimencial/iStock.

Sights in Bariloche’s Centro Cívico

Even with the kitsch merchants who pervade the plaza with Siberian huskies and St. Bernards for photographic poses, and the graffiti defacing General Roca’s equestrian statue, the array of buildings that border it would be the pride of many cities around the globe. The view to Lago Nahuel Huapi is a bonus, even when the boxy Bariloche Center blocks the sun.

The Centro Cívico was a team effort, envisioned by architect Ernesto de Estrada in 1936 and executed under APN director Exequiel Bustillo until its inauguration in 1940. When the municipal Torre Reloj (Clock Tower) sounds at noon, figures from Patagonian history appear to mark the hour. The former Correo (post office, but now the tourism office) is one of several buildings of interest, with steep-pitched roofs and arched arcades that offer shelter from inclement weather.

At the Centro Cívico’s northeast corner, Museo de la Patagonia Francisco P. Moreno (Centro Cívico s/n, tel. 0294/442-2309, 10am-12:30pm and 2pm-7pm Tues.-Fri., 10am-5pm Sat., from US$1.25) attempts to place the region (and more) in ecological, cultural, and historical context. Its multiple halls touch on natural history through taxidermy (better than most of its kind); insects (inexplicably including subtropical Iguazú); Patagonia’s population from antiquity to the present; the aboriginal Mapuche, Tehuelche, and Fuegian peoples; caudillo Juan Manuel de Rosas; the “Conquista del Desierto” that displaced the indigenous people; and Bariloche’s own urban development. There is even material on Stanford geologist Bailey Willis, a visionary consultant who did the region’s first systematic surveys in the early 20th century.

Exequiel Bustillo’s brother, architect Alejandro Bustillo, designed the Intendencia del Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi (Nahuel Huapi National Park Headquarters, San Martín 24), one block north, to harmonize with the Centro Cívico. As a collective national monument, they represent Argentine Patagonia’s best.

San Carlos de Bariloche map, Argentina

San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

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Jamaica’s Best Waterfalls https://moon.com/2018/01/jamaica-best-waterfalls/ https://moon.com/2018/01/jamaica-best-waterfalls/#respond Thu, 11 Jan 2018 00:10:04 +0000 https://moon.com/?p=61715 From lively swimming holes to secluded mountain rivers, you'll fall in love with Jamaica's waterfalls. Here's how to hike, admire, or swim in the best falls on the island.

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From lively swimming holes to secluded mountain rivers, you’ll fall in love with Jamaica’s waterfalls. Here’s how to hike, admire, or swim in the best falls on the island.

waterfalls pooling at Dunns River Falls Jamaica

Visitors can climb through the falls and enjoy the warm Caribbean water. Photo © coleong/iStock.

Waterfalls on Jamaica’s North Central Coast

Blue Hole River

Blue Hole River features a series of waterfalls and natural pools found along the White River in an area known locally as Breadfruit Walk. Once relatively unvisited by travelers, this section of the river has become a hot spot, and locals who keep the banks clean and guide visitors to the different pools suitable for swimming ask for a US$10 pp contribution. The area is the first set of swimming holes you’ll reach after turning right at the JPS substation. You’ll see a parking area on the left as you come around the first bend in the rocky road.

Dunn’s River Falls

By far the most visited attraction in Jamaica, if not the Caribbean, is Dunn’s River Falls (tel. 876/974-4767 or 876/974-5944, 8:30am-4pm daily, when cruise ships are in port 7am-4pm daily, US$20 adults, US$12 ages 2-11). The site is owned by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) and receives over 300,000 visitors a year who come to climb the waterfalls, starting from the mouth of the river where it tumbles down to meet the sea in the middle of a golden-sand beach. The river’s cool spring water in the warm Caribbean make an exhilarating swim. The falls themselves are climbable by anyone at least 90 centimeters (36 inches) tall. As long as you’re steady on your feet, it’s not too much of a challenge, provided the water level isn’t too high. Hand rails have been installed at the most challenging stretch just before the underpass beneath the road.

Konoko Falls

Konoko Falls (Shaw Park Rd., tel. 876/622-1712, cell tel. 876/408-0575, 8am-5pm daily, US$20 adults, US$10 under age 13) was upgraded in December 2015, bringing endangered animal species to a breeding program in partnership with the Hope Zoo Preservation Trust. Visitors can see yellow-billed and black-billed parrots, iguanas, and yellow snakes as well as conies and a pair of American crocodiles. The waterfalls are fit for swimming and climbing, with nearby restroom facilities, a bar, and a jerk pit. A museum features a history of the Taino, Jamaica’s earliest inhabitants, and a display covering the local watershed. Ysassi’s Lookout Point, named after the last Spanish governor of Jamaica, boasts spectacular views over Ocho Rios and the bay. A Romanesque pavilion above the falls is used for events and weddings.

Konoko Falls is on the Milford River, which flows through the gardens before descending through town and out the storm gulley by Moon Palace Jamaica Grande. Konoko was once a banana walk, or gully, on Shaw Park Estate until the gardens and waterfalls were developed in the early 1990s. To get to Konoko, turn right opposite the Anglican church heading toward Fern Gully on Milford Road (the A3) and follow the signs off Shaw Park Road. Previously known as Coyaba Gardens and Mahoe Falls, the attraction was recently rebranded Konoko, meaning “rainforest” in Arawak, the language of the Taino.

Laughing Waters

Laughing Waters (contact Janice Chong at St. Ann Development Corporation for bookings, tel. 876/974-5015, chong@udcja.com), located just east of Dunn’s River Falls and Pearly Beach, is probably the most stunning beach in Jamaica for the combination of gurgling falls and fine, golden sand. The beach was made famous in the first James Bond film, Dr. No, when Ursula Andress emerges from the sea singing and enchants 007, played by a young Sean Connery.

The beach is privately managed by the St. Ann Development Corporation and isn’t open to the public except by rental; however, locals visit the beach and are rarely bothered.

Nature Falls

Ocho Rios is known for its lush gardens, though some are far better maintained than others. One of the nicest free waterfalls in Ochi, known as Nature Falls, is frequented mostly by locals who come for picnics and to wash off their vehicles in the shade. The river and falls are located just off Shaw Park Road, along a dirt road that branches off the road to Perry Town just past the Y where it splits from Shaw Park Road.

One Love Trail

One Love Trail, located about one kilometer (0.6 miles) west of Island Village Shopping center heading out of town, leads down to a beautiful waterfall spilling onto a small beach protected by a reef just offshore. Caretaker Goshford Dorrington “Histry” Miller (cell tel. 876/893-1867) takes tips for keeping the place clean and sells artwork and natural jewelry.

bountiful waterfall flowing into a river surrounded by rainforest in Jamaica

Travelers can easily spend a day exploring Reach Falls. Photo © Jekurantodistaja/iStock.

Waterfalls on Jamaica’s East Coast

Reach Falls

Reach Falls (tel. 876/993-6606 or 876/993-6683, 8:30am-4:30pm Wed.-Sun., US$10 adults, US$5 under age 12), or Reich Falls, as it’s sometimes spelled, is located in a beautiful river valley in the lower northeast foothills of the John Crow Mountains. The river cascades down a long series of falls that can be climbed from the base far below the main pool where the developed attraction is based. Start at the bottom and continue far above the main pool to get the full exhilarating experience. To climb the full length requires about two hours, but if you stop to enjoy each little pool, it could easily consume all day. A dirt road about one kilometer (0.6 miles) before the parking area leads down to the base of the falls.

Roselle Falls

Just east of White Horses is Roselle Falls, where locals often congregate to wash or cool off. The small cascade is right next to the main road (the A4). Reggae Falls, formed by a reservoir along the Morant River, is an unmanaged attraction with a deep pool at the bottom of the dam where you can swim behind the waterfalls and are likely to have the place to yourself.

ys falls in Jamaica

Take a splash in the river near YS Falls. Photo © Oliver Hill.

Waterfalls on Jamaica’s South Coast

Christiana Bottom

In Christiana Bottom, the Blue Hole is fed from underground streams with two waterfalls dumping into the pool. There’s another waterfall at William Hole farther downstream. To get here from Mandeville, turn right immediately after the NCB bank on Moravia Road, then take the first left around a blind corner, and then the first right, which leads to Christiana Bottom. Continue past the first left that leads to Tyme Town, and park at the entrance to the second left, a wide path that leads down to the river. Ask for Mr. Jones for a guided tour (US$20) of Blue Hole and William Hole and his farm, where he grows ginger, yams, potatoes, pineapples, bananas, and sugarcane.

YS Falls

By far the best conceived and organized waterfalls destination in Jamaica, YS Falls (9:30am-3:30pm Tues.-Sun., US$17 adults, US$8.50 children 3-13 years), on the YS Estate, has been operated by Simon Browne since 1991. The YS River changes with the weather—normally clear blue, and brown after rain in the mountains when it swells. A bar and grill on the property serves jerk chicken, and gift shops sell a wide array of books, crafts, and Jamaica-inspired clothing. Lounge chairs surround two swimming pools, one with colder water near the base of the falls and the other slightly warmer by the picnic area.

A canopy tour (US$50 adults, US$35 children) with a series of three ziplines traversing the falls, is operated by Chukka Caribbean. The tour is a rush, to say the least, and perhaps the most exhilarating of Chukka’s many canopy tours in Jamaica, given the scenery.

Waterfalls on Jamaica’s West Coast

Mayfield Falls

Located in Flower Hill near the Hanover border, The Original Mayfield Falls (tel. 876/610-8612 or cell tel. 876/457-0759) is one of the best waterfall attractions in Jamaica, having been developed with minimal impact to the natural surroundings. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon cooling off in the river and walking upstream along a series of gentle cascades and pools. Four- to five-hour tours (US$85 pp) include round-trip transportation from Montego Bay, entry fee with a guided hike up the river, and lunch afterward. The entry fee is significantly lower if you have your own vehicle and includes a guide (US$15). Lunch may be purchased separately (US$10-22).


Take a hike to the most beautiful natural pools and waterfalls in Jamaica, then enjoy swimming in warm Caribbean water surrounded by lush rainforest.


Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Jamaica.

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