Sureit’s easier to tramp the world without the cramping armor of woolen scarves,fluff jackets, gigantic mittens and fur-lined snow boots. But then again, winterscenery can hardly be rivaled in terms of mystery and magic.
Bear Lake, Alaska
Thereare several dozen lakes by this name in the world, and at least that many placesunder the northern- and southern-most skies to see an aurora. But if you everhappen to be by this particular lake in Alaska, you may consider yourself luckyas the natural, polar light show you can witness here is said to be notably enchanting.
Churchill, MB, Canada
Fancysome shoulder rubbing with the King of the Arctic or hugging a fluffy,frolicking cub? Well, much as you can stroke a lion in a South African safaripark, in Churchill you are only allowed to do the watching. You can be sure though thatobserving the powerful predators from luxurious custom built Polar Rovers or, better yet,from comfy tundra lodges located in an area of high polar bear density, givesenough thrill. In the heart of the subarctic tundra, you’ll have an opportunityfor 24-hour viewing of the magnificent animals in theirnatural habitat, under the aurora painted Arctic sky.
Stretchingacross the Parang Mountains from Novaci to Sebes, in the SouthernCarpathians of Romania, the National Road 67 has quite aptly beennicknamed ‘the Transalpina’. Since most road trippers opt for the famous Transfăgărășan,the DN67C journey and the stupendous views you get on the way can be enjoyed inrelative solitude. If you’re tempted to tackle its curves, bear in mind the highway is usually closed in December.For a phenomenal spectacle of color, make sure you plan for an mid-to-late falltrip.
Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
The the Perito Moreno is by far the most gorgeous ice formationamong the 356 glaciers in the UNESCO-protected Parque Nacional Los Glaciares and one of only three Patagonianglaciers that are actually growing. With a 5 km long front line and a heightof over 70 meters above the level of the water, Perito Morenoallows for a trekking experience that can take up to 5 hours. The lessadventurous may secure a convenient vantage point along the observation walkwayand watch the detachment of huge ice blocks that collapse with a roar into LagoArgentino.
Located in the north-eastof Finland, Kuusamo is a gateway to magical Lapland and a perfect place for allsnow-related endeavors. 90% of the municipality’s land area is forested, so gofigure how beautiful it is when everything gets covered with a thick duvet of powdersnow. Kuusamo is home to Ruka Ski Resort, which has grown into a stellartourist center and guarantees a vacation full of fun, pampering and unforgettablevistas of lake-dotted Oulanka National Park.
In the landof wilderness, raw landscapes, virtually no trees, no roads and almost completesolitude, the tiny, brightly-colored settlement of Kulusuk in southeasternGreenland is so surreal and unexpected that it looks like a polar fata morgana.The traditional pursuits of hunting and fishing do not provide sufficient support for thevillagers, so many of them depend upon tourism. HotelKulusuk, a convenient base for visitors, organizes day trips withattractions such as traditional dance performances and dogsledding.
Niagara Falls, USA/Canada
Boatrides into the roar of Niagara Falls are temporarily suspended in the winter months, butthis time of year brings a different dimension of excitement and beauty to oneof the world’s most iconic waterfalls. The “Winter Festival ofLights”, which runs from late November to early January, offers anextended spectacle of light, with curtains of color illuminating the falls eachnight for up to seven hours. And if the winter is particularly cold, the tinydroplets sprayed around by the gushing walls of water form a unique frozenlandscape by clinging to the nearby trees, rocks and lamp posts.
Anexpedition to Antarctica is a risky endeavor. First you got to pay through thenose to get on a boat, and it’s preferably a small cruise ship that can gowhere the big ships can’t, so the costs can easily get astronomical. Then, forthe two days that it takes to navigate through the treacherous Drake passage,you stay in your cabin bed and pray for someone to kill you. Finally, if the natureproves particularly malicious, all you’reable to see instead of tiptoeing penguins and awe-inspiring icebergs is a milkywall of thick fog. But if you’re lucky and the weather is favorable, you’llcome back home as a different person…
Jigokudani Monkey Park, Japan
Hostileforests, treacherous cliffs and boiling water that bubbles out ofalmost invisible cracks in the frozen ground have earned it the name“Hell’s Valley”. But it’s not so much the springs themselves thatattract hordes of visitors to the park as the wild Japanese Macaquesthat descend to the valley during the winter months to thaw theirbones in the steamy pools. Watch them cuddle together and play indeep snow. So hilarious! Of course, Jigokudani is not all aboutmonkeys. Skiing routes abound and so do opportunities to takemassages, visit temples, participate in authentic tea ceremonies, tryJapanese archery or cook soba noodles. All in all, a stay full ofgenuine relaxation and fun.
Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Thetowering red sandst
one formations of Colorado Springs’ peculiar Garden neverlook so magical and striking as when covered with a winter coat. On a brightday, the layers of white and fierce orange unfold against a backdrop ofsnow-capped Pikes Peak and a frame of almost perfectly clear blue skies,producing a Daliesque panorama with a 300 million year old background of geologicalartistry.
What’s your favorite winter location?