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Rainforests, Safaris and Mountains, Oh My!

By Jenna Kelley

“Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport.”

Just imagine…zip lining through the Costa Rican rainforest or touring on a South African safari, even basking in the romantic culture in Argentina and visiting the Alps in the beautiful European country of Austria. The 4 hemispheres offer a rich, romantic culture, flora and fauna filled terrain, and exotic animals (those you might not even see in a zoo). Costa Rica, South Africa, Argentina, and Austria are world landmarks that will satisfy the hunger of adventure-crazed travelers.

Costa Rica is filled with beautiful rainforests that paint your vision with fresh greenery, misty waterfalls and soothing bodies of water. One of Costa Rica’s most stimulating excursions is zip lining from tree to tree. The cables can go as high as two hundred meters (over 650 feet) as you swing your way down to the bottom. Zip lining atop the trees made me feel as though I was gliding across a green cloud and into the forest becoming one with the monkeys. (skyadventures.travel) Don’t miss the opportunity to partake in a high-ropes course and reveal your inner Tarzan. If you’re more of an on-land traveler, the rainforest has many different trails to horseback ride or ATV down a more scenic path. (adventureparkcostarica.com)

The most terrifying, but exhilarating experience is to go canyoning where you are placed in a harness and take off scaling down a canyon descending to the bottom. Waterfalls and creeks surround you as you feel the adrenaline rush everyone dreams about. It is paradoxically safe, and one of the most surreal experiences in Costa Rica. It’s a memory to treasure forever. (costacanyoning.com)

On to South Africa, known for it’s exotic safaris as active wildlife roams around beautiful landscapes. Some safari trips include sailing down the Zambezi River, and coming within inches of the tusks of enormous elephants. The safari rides will make you feel as though you are a character in The Jungle Book. It is unbelievable how close you come to these untamed animals. In Cape Town make sure to wander the streets and take in the flavors of the small markets, along with a tour of the Cape Peninsula. Come up close and personal to families of African Penguins waddling along the aqua blue waters of the peninsula. There are lions hidden between the rocks that lie in the grassy fields, and even ostrich’s elongating their necks towards a lighthouse. It’s a photographers dream. (exoticsafari.co.za)

Now, if you’re like me and enjoy a nice glass of wine you can spend a relaxing day tasting some of South Africa’s most refined and best-known wineries. Tour the majestic land where the wine is grown on a private tour of the wine regions of Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. You can even indulge in the culinary flavors of South African with wine, cheese, and delicious chocolates to peak your taste buds. (luhambotours.com)

For the ultimate thrill seeker, way above the Bloukrans River lays the highest commercial bridge bungee in the world as high as 216 meters (over 700 feet). Face Adrenalin, a company that operates this exhilarating feat, are proud to tell you that they’ve run accident free since 1997. Facing our fears, we learned the essence of gravity on this once in a lifetime experience that will leave you with goose bumps. (faceadrenalin.com)

With a change of scenery, we tangoed into the beautiful country of Argentina for our nest stop. The romantic vibes that radiate throughout this country makes everyone fall in love, as it’s the home of the sensual tango and sexy music. We took a bicycle tour in the famous neighborhood of La Boca, located in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. The vibrantly colorful buildings will catch your eye. With every stop you can’t help but notice the pride that was put in el barrio de La Boca, ‘the neighborhood of La Boca.’ Twirl down the cobblestone streets of El Caminito, or ‘little walkway,’ and witness the outstanding tango dancing performers and intricate art, displayed and sold while enjoying romantic music as you stroll by. An evening would not be complete without heading to the theatre for a tango show. I envy the women wearing those amazing bright red costume dresses, as they really illustrate what it is to be a strong, feminine woman. (theargentinaspecialists.com)

As Costa Rica and South Africa have jungles and safaris, Argentina is home to the famous Andes Mountains. Bariloche is home to the Andes Mountain crossings, and you can trek through the mountains on the Huella Andina trail on a hiking tour, or you can travel down the cross paths by bike or horseback (I prefer horseback). The mountains are simply amazing and would be a hiker’s and rock climber’s dream vacation. As beautiful as the Andes Mountains are, the Iguazú Falls are just as incredible. There are more than two hundred falls as you stroll in your raincoats down a wooden pathway to really be able to see the falls up close. It is absolutely breathtaking. (welcomeargentina.com)

If you love the musical The Sound of Music, you are going to be enamored with our fourth stop in Austria. As the country is known for many things, Austria is famously known for The Sound of Music, which was filmed in this breathtaking vast grassland and picturesque Alps. A real treat is to take the Original Sound of Music Tour and visit all of the places in Salzburg where the movie was filmed, along with listening and singing to the original soundtrack. I really was able to grasp my inner Julie Andrews who played Maria, famously pictured running along the countryside while belting out “The Hills are Alive.” Make sure to talk a stroll along the Makartsteg bridge, also known as the Love Lock Bridge, in Salzburg, where thousands of infatuated couples have left their amorous thumb prints by engraving padlocks and tying them onto the bridge, leaving behind their legacy of love while throwing the key into the river below.. (salzburg.info)

The Austrian Alps are magnificent and you can take a private glacier tour from Salzburg and drive along Grossglockner High Alpine Road. Driving up as high as 2511 km. (over 1560 miles) you will experience and witness drastic weather and terrain changes from snow on one side to various colored flora on the other side. Also, there are an abundance of opportunities to get out of your car and taste the beauty by drinking in the cool crisp mountain air. (kensingtontours.com)

The four hemispheres of the world are contrastingly astonishing places that will not disappoint as you will have the experience of a lifetime. Costa Rica, South Africa, Argentina and Austria are stunning countries that have so much to offer to anyone who is willing to take on their wanderlust by the reins and gallop into a world full of immense beauty, adventure and romance.