Summer is almost over but that does not mean you cannot start planning for your next vacation.
Take the Golden Gate Ferry, San Francisco, Calif.
The San Francisco Bay is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque vistas on the West Coast and experiencing it by ferry is affordable and also a perfect way to explore the beautiful towns north of the city's peninsula. Start at the San Francisco Ferry Building, which is a tourist destination in its own right, with a renowned farmers' market three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) and a great selection of shops. Board the ferry to Sausalito for a short, 30-minute ride. The ferry sells wine and beer, so enjoy a drink while taking in the views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the bay. Cyclists can bring bikes for free, so VirtualTourist members recommending taking or renting a bike so you can tour Sausalito's quaint town before returning to the big city.
Drive Australia's Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia
Only 60 miles from Victoria's capital of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road winds alongside the Southern Ocean from Torquay to Portland. Created by soldiers returning from World War I, the 180-mile route includes a variety of sights, such as world-renowned beaches, national parks and shipwrecks. The most famous sight along B100 is the Twelve Apostles, a natural formation of limestone stacks, which seem to magically rise from the Southern Ocean. There are two walkways alongside the Twelve Apostles, so park your car and get a great photo.
Bungee Jump at the Macau Tower, China
Most bungees are built into gorges or natural settings, so how about jumping off a manmade structure into a booming harbor beneath you? This is just the case at the Macau Tower, the world's second-highest bungee jump, dropping 765 feet from a platform around the tower. The views are incredible, but also terrifying. You'll drop a few feet from a steel tower with cars driving beneath you and it's enough to terrify even the most confident daredevil. If you get up there and aren't ready to jump, the tower has other offerings. They provide skywalks so you can walk the perimeter of the tower on the rim, but with a harness and without needing a leap of faith. They also offer a Tower Climb, although it doesn't involve jumping, it's even higher than the bungee. Climbers do a 328-foot ascent to the tower's summit at 1,108 feet.
Sleep on the Edge: Skylodge Adventure Suites, Urubamba, Cusco, Peru
The Skylodge Adventure Suites in Urubamba, Cusco, Peru, is definitely not for the faint of heart. The rooms literally hang off the side of a mountain and the only way to access them involves rock-climbing up a few hundred feet. And getting down? Zipline. The hotel's "transparent luxury capsules" provide a 300-degree view of the majestic Sacred Valley. And at only 24 feet long and 8 feet wide, they do come equipped with a private bathroom where you can still enjoy the views. Enjoy all this luxury at approximately $350 USD per person.
Wine Taste in Valle De Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico
Let's be honest. When people think of wine regions, Mexico is probably not at the top of the list. But over the last 20 years, the quality of wine from Valle de Guadalupe in Baja, California, has caught the eye of many. Now complete with its very own wine route, the Guadalupe Valley offers a South of the Border experience, allowing visitors to the area to choose from more than 50 wineries, a dozen small hotels and B-and-Bs, and even fine dining. VirtualTourist members recommend checking out the wines and the view at Vinas de Garza and insist that dinner at Laja, which has been dubbed Mexico's version of French Laundry, is a must.
Train Ride on the Eurail Montenegro Express from Bar, Bar to Belgrade, Montenegro and Serbia
Enjoy one of Europe's most scenic train journeys, passing through 254 tunnels and over 435 bridges when you're a passenger on the Eurail Montenegro Express from Bar on Montenegro's Adriatic coast to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. The 108-mile adventure passes by Lake Skadar, the highest railway viaduct in Moraca valley Montenegro and Kumanica monastery along the Lim River in Belgrade. Additionally, you'll view beautiful country side, mountains and gorges.
Cave Cruise, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, North Island, New Zealand
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves have been in existence for more than 100 years and attract people from all over the world, due to its high concentration of glowworms, which produce an amazing sight to see. Take a guided tour through the limestone cave and a boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto where these tiny insects glow in the dark and reflect off the water deep under the ground. The acoustics in the cathedral cave is astounding. Stalactites, stalagmites and sculptures have formed as a result of water dripping from the roof of the caves or flowing over the exposed limestone walls. There are well laid out tracks through the native bush that surround the caves as well.
Scuba-diving, Sharm El Skeikh, Egypt
The reefs of Sharm el Sheikh in the Red Sea are a divers' paradise. In addition to having relatively warm waters all year long, low rainfall and mild currents allow excellent visibility, in some places up to 150 feet. As one of the saltiest seas in the world, a large variety of endemic species can be found here, including the bright yellow Masked Butterfly fish, the Red Sea Flasher Wrasse and the Picasso Triggerfish, which lives up to its name by resembling a picture of the painter, among others.
Hiking Cinque Terre, Italy
Italy has long been a bastion of cultural icons and landmarks, from religious sites to Renaissance masterpieces. Of the sites to be visited, Cinque Terre is among the most beautiful, and also the most unique. Composed of five small villages perched above the Ligurian Sea, the towns date back to the late medieval period and are still, in 2016, unable to be reached by car. While one can access them by train and boat, neither transport provides the same experience as the hike between the towns. Slowly descending from the rocky cliffs into each brightly painted fishing village is an experience unlike any other in the world. Hiking from Riomaggiore, the southernmost village, to the fifth town, Monterosso, is quite a workout (11 miles) and it usually takes about five hours, but can take longer, depending on how fit you are. Instead, many complete the first leg of the trip, from Riomaggiore to Manarola. This section is commonly called the "Via dell' Amore" and is paved and level, so it's a great half-mile stroll for travelers of all ages.
Gorilla Spotting, Volcans National Park, Rwanda
With only 850 mountain gorillas presently inhabiting the world, it's amazing that 300 of them live in a country as small as the state of Maryland. High in the mountains of Volcans National Park in Rwanda, 18 mountain gorilla groups reside, 10 of which can be visited by tourists. Since permits are required to visit the groups, VirtualTourist members suggest applying well in advance, especially if you plan on visiting during a peak time. Another thing to take into consideration: since groups range in their location, visiting one group might only take a short walk through a forest, but another group might be saddled with a 90-minute trek through dense growth. However, members guarantee that visiting the gorillas is an experience of a lifetime. It's also worth noting that it is a significantly shorter trek to their location in Rwanda than in the two other countries where they can be found, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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