Daily Escape

Rapa Nui National Park

Photo by Michael Hanson / Aurora Photos

Rapa Nui National Park

Easter Island, Chile

As if being the world’s most isolated inhabited island wasn’t enough, Easter Island -- about midway between Chile and Tahiti -- is famous for these giant, stone monoliths that dot the island and face both the sea as well as local villages. No one is quite sure what the moai represent, though one theory holds they were carved by the island’s original inhabitants who most likely sailed here from what is now French Polynesia. And like most ancient monuments, the moai were probably religious icons that also had astrological applications. 


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Isla Taboga
Isla Taboga

Isla Taboga

Isla Taboga, aka Island of Flowers, is a volcanic island in the Gulf of Panama that has become a bustling tourist destination. Local companies provide hiking, nature walk, snorkeling, sightseeing, whale watching and fishing tours. The island has beautiful beaches, but Isla Contadora, Playa Bonita and Play Veracruz are a couple alternative spots to go. 960 1280

Adam Reeder, Flickr  

Metropolitan Cathedral Casco Viejo

Metropolitan Cathedral Casco Viejo

Located in Panama City’s suburb of Casco Viejo, the Metropolitan Cathedral -- built between 1688 and 1796 -- is an example of the country’s religious colonial architecture. After a $4 million dollar renovation in 2004, the cathedral will be remodeled to house a museum that will follow the construction, function and future of the Panama Canal. 960 1280

Thickstock  

Panama Canal

Panama Canal

Completed in 1914, the 48-mile long Panama Canal is a major international trade route, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. So it’s no surprise that the American Society of Civil Engineers declared the canal one of the seven wonders of the modern world. 960 1280

Thickstock  

Plaza de Francia

Plaza de Francia

Take a stroll around Plaza de Francia while chomping on a raspado or Sno-cone. Toursists should head down Calle 1a. It turns into the lovely Paseo Esteban Huertas, a walkway on top of las bovedas (the vaults), which originally functioned as a Spanish dungeon and later as a jail, storehouse and offices. 960 1280

Daniel Escobar Paz, Flickr  

La Piedra Pintada

La Piedra Pintada

Hop on a bus in Panama City to visit La Piedra Pintada, a 15-foot boulder with ancient petroglyphs carved underneath it. It’s a simple remnant of El Valle’s pre-Columbian culture, and a great spot for history buffs. 960 1280

Hector Romero, Flickr  

Downtown Panama City

Downtown Panama City

Panama City is the capital and the largest city in Panama. A political, administrative, international and commerce hub for the country, Panama City is also the largest city in Panama. The city has a dense skyline of mostly high-rise buildings, surrounded by a large belt of tropical rainforest. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Monkey Island

Monkey Island

Take an eco-friendly journey along the Panama Canal with stops in Sounds of Silence and Monkey Island (pictured), where tourists can see 4 different species of monkeys and other wildlife, all within 40 minutes of Panama City. 960 1280

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Plaza Bolivar

Plaza Bolivar

Surrounded by 19th-century architecture, Plaza Bolivar is a great spot for locals and tourists to congregate for drinks and dinner at various cafes located around this popular social spot. Street musicians perform tips near a monument built to honor Venezuelan general Simon Bolivar -- located in the center of the plaza. 960 1280

whl.travel, flickr  

Albrook Mall

Albrook Mall

Albrook Mall is the largest amusement mall in Panama. The magical atmosphere -- filled with balloons, bright decorations, music, an Italian carousel and more than 400 stores -- is perfect for the whole family. Artesanias Panama Bahia, Flory Saltzman Molas, Avenida Central Mall, Galeria Arte Indigena and La Ronda are a few other spots to shop in Panama City. 960 1280

Rogelio, Flickr  

Ceviche

Ceviche

La Marea, Segundo Muelle, Ego, Machu Pichu and Mercado de Marisco are all restaurants to sample delicious ceviche. Panamanian ceviche is usually made with Squid, shrimp, octopus, lemon juice, chopped onion, celery, habanero pepper and sea salt. Most local restaurants serve ceviche de corvine (white sea bass) as an appetizer. 960 1280

Carlos Casas, Flickr  

Los Diablicos

Los Diablicos

Part of Panama’s rich culture and folklore, the Diablicos Sucios is a religious-themed celebration that often includes a lively devil dance that portrays the age-old battle between good and evil. Dancers, donned in devil masks and multi-colored clothing, usually perform the devil dance as a method religious conversion. 960 1280

Darien Montanez, Flickr  

El Nispero Zoo

El Nispero Zoo

El Nispero is not your typical zoo. Most of the animals found here are former pets that were donated or confiscated from their owners by government authorities. Tapirs, collared peccaries (wild pigs), jaguars, white-face capuchin monkeys, macaws, Asian golden pheasants and white peacocks are just a few animals tourists will spot while taking a leisurely stroll through this zoo. 960 1280

Orban Lopez Cruz, Flickr  

Chorro de Macho

Chorro de Macho

Take a canopy tour over 85-foot tall Chorro El Macho, the most famous waterfall in El Valle. If a zip-line tour isn’t your thing, then we recommend a hike along the trails in the surrounding forest near the falls or taking a dip in the swimming pool located at the base of the towering waterfall. 960 1280

Chuck Holton, Flickr  

Sancocho

Sancocho

Sancocho de gallina is Panama’s national dish. It’s made with chicken, cilantro, yuca, mazorca and otoe. Yellow squash is added to create a regional version of the dish called Sancocho chiricano. Rumor has it that this delicious dish is not only used as a metaphor for the country’s racial diversity, but it’s also a great remedy for a hangover. 960 1280

remo del orbe, Flickr  

Amazon Rainforest
Amazon Rainforest

Amazon Rainforest

Explore the Amazon rainforest, or Amazonia, and its indigenous plant life, including the water plant Victoria regia (pictured). This dense, lush forest covers more than 2 million square miles of South America’s Amazon basin. The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, followed by Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. The jungle represents more than half of the planet’s remaining rainforest, making it the largest and most diverse rainforest in the world. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Amazon River

Amazon River

Plan a mind-blowing excursion down the 4,000-mile-long Amazon River -- the largest river in South America, and the largest drainage system in the world. Although the length of this river is equivalent to the distance from NYC to Rome, there is much debate as to whether the Amazon is longer than the Nile River in Egypt. The Amazon River’s source comes high within the Andes Mountains, near the Pacific Ocean, and its mouth is in the Atlantic Ocean on the northeastern coast of Brazil. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Negro River

Negro River

Adventurous travelers can take a cruise along the Negro River from Manaus, Brazil, to experience the Amazon Rainforest and to explore the January Ecological Park. Some cruise lines offer unique excursions, including a hike through the jungle, alligator spotting, fishing, tree climbing, snorkeling, parasailing and educational excursions to learn more about the indigenous people that live along the river. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Ariau Amazon Towers

Ariau Amazon Towers

Stay at the Ariau Amazon Towers, a hotel built high in the treetops with canopy walkways 70 feet in the air. During your stay, enjoy the fauna and wildlife like the friendly monkeys, macaws, sloths and parrots. This exclusive hotel made Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the “25 Extraordinary Places Worth That Extra Mile.” We agree. For the perfect honeymoon hideaway, we recommend the honeymoon suite, built 110 feet up a mahogany tree. 960 1280

Jorge Andrade, flickr  

IBEROSTAR Grand Amazon

IBEROSTAR Grand Amazon

If a treetop hotel isn’t your thing, try the IBEROSTAR Grand Amazon. Guests can check into this floating luxury hotel -- featuring 73 cabins, each with private balcony -- for a 3-night stay along the Solimões River that includes a visit to a local village, bird-watching around the Igarapés and piranha fishing. For the 4-night stay, guests tour the Negro River and take a motorboat safari to the Anavilhanas Islands. Make the most out of your trip and combine the 2 options for a 7-night stay. 960 1280

Jorge Andrade, flickr  

Indigenous Nations Games

Indigenous Nations Games

While you are visiting the Amazon, you may be lucky enough to immerse yourself in a unique cultural event like the Indigenous Nations Games of Para in Altamira. Indigenous people from 38 ethnic groups participate in the Games in which athletes compete in disciplines like spear throwing, canoeing and swimming. In the photo, a member of Brazil's Kayapo tribe prepares to compete in the bow and arrow competition. 960 1280

Reuters  

Kayaking in the Amazon

Kayaking in the Amazon

Take an Amazon kayaking tour on the Urubu and Jatapu rivers. Manaus is surrounded by the Amazon Negro rivers, but some companies do not offer kayaking tours on these rivers because they are miles wide and can be dangerous for kayakers during rainy and stormy weather. 960 1280

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Boi-Bumba Folkloric Festival

Boi-Bumba Folkloric Festival

Plan a fun trip to witness the Festival do Boi-Bumba or the Parintins Folklore Festival in June. This festival is the 2nd largest annual festival in Brazil -- only Rio’s Carnival draws more participants. Held in Parintins, Amazonas, this 3-day festival celebrates a local legend about a resurrected ox, and 2 teams -- Garantido and Caprichoso -- must compete to retell the story in 2.5 hours. The teams try to outdo one another using flamboyant dances, singing and parade floats in the Bumbodromo -- a stage that holds about 35,000 spectators. 960 1280

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Uakari Mamirauá Reserve Lodge

Uakari Mamirauá Reserve Lodge

Located in Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve, the Uacari Floating Lodge is a rustic, eco-tourism getaway to observe the Amazon’s wildlife. Recognized by UNESCO as part of the Natural Heritage of Humanity, this floating lodge has 5 bungalows with 2 rooms, 2 bathrooms and a porch with a view of the river and forest. The central floating area has a natural swimming pool, kitchen, restaurant, bar, video room and library. What makes this lodge unique is that it generates income for the reserve’s 8 local communities and preserves the natural community. 960 1280

Gabriel Britto, flickr  

Zip Lining in the Amazon

Zip Lining in the Amazon

Get an amazing view of Brazil and the Amazon’s canyons, rivers, waterfalls and more, by taking canopy tour. Rafting, hiking, cycling, snorkeling and surfing are few examples of how you can keep your adrenaline pumping when visiting the area. 960 1280

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Ver-o-Peso Market

Ver-o-Peso Market

Go shopping at the Ver-o-peso Market in Belem, Brazil. Locals and tourists visit this market to pick up fresh fish, handcrafts, natural essence perfumes, and native vegetables and fruits. Clock Tower Square, Solar da Beira, Feliz Lusitania and the Açaí Fair are a few places to visit and things to do when visiting this popular market. 960 1280

M.Maselli, flickr   

Amazonas Theatre

Amazonas Theatre

For travelers looking for an alternative to “roughing it” in the Amazon -- visit the Amazonas Theater in Manaus. This theater is home to the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra, which regularly rehearses and performs here. Music concerts and other popular performances are held here. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Amazonas Opera Festival

Amazonas Opera Festival

From March until May, the Amazonas Theater also hosts an annual Amazonas Opera Festival. The Amazonas Philharmonic is the official orchestra of the Festival. This photo shows a scene from the 2008 world premiere performance of the opera Ca Ira, composed by former Pink Floyd vocalist Roger Waters and performed by an all-Brazilian cast. 960 1280

Reuters  

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