The variety and biodiversity found among the Philippines’ 7,107 islands allow for hundreds of adventurous escapes at a fraction of what they would cost elsewhere. Visitors find sea kayaking in the Calamian Islands, Palawan and Subic Bay; white water rafting through the Cordillera mountains along the Chico River; rough and tumble adventures in Cagayan de Oro and Davao Rivers and the thrill of the sardine run near Pescador Island.
Kiteboarding and boardsailing are mainstays in the island paradise of Boracay. World-class wakeboarding can be found at the Camsur Watersports Complex in Subic Bay and in Lago de Oro. Other popular activities include canopy walks, skydiving, hot air ballooning and flying ultralight planes. Those less inclined toward the extremes can appreciate that the Philippines hosts 760 species of birds—including some of the world’s rarest—like the Chinese Egret, Eurasia Spoonbill and Schrenck’s Bittern. The Candaba Swamps are a well-known bird sanctuary that serve as a stop-over for birds migrating from north Asia to points south of the equator during the cold months in the northern hemisphere.
Still, it can be said that the Philippines’ greatest treasures exist underwater. Rightfully so, considering the islands inhabit the center of the world’s marine biodiversity and coral triangle, where 400 of the world’s 500 known types of coral exist and some 2,000 marine species can be found.
The Philippines is a scuba diver’s dream come true. The warm waters and often-exceptional visibility at the convergence of the Pacific Ocean, South China Sea and Celebes Sea create optimal conditions for discovering WWII shipwrecks, coral, turtles, sharks, rays and about 300 species of underwater creatures so exotic they were only discovered in the past year. No wonder most divers return here for an average of 10 trips each. Next month, from November 2 to 5, the PDOT will be participating in the 2011 DEMA Show in Orlando alongside 24 dive tour operators from the U.S. and the Philippines. Here is a preview of some of the most popular dive sites they will be showcasing.
Peru’s fabled city of Machu Picchu, its magnificent ruins perched 8,000 feet above sea level, high in the cloud forest where the Andes meet the Amazon basin, is one of the great mysteries of the world. Its massive stones fit together flawlessly without mortar, this architectural wonder was built, occupied and abandoned within one hundred years. To this day, no one knows why this extraordinary city, invisible from below, was created and deserted so quickly. Another enigma is how these colossal rocks were carved from the mountain, fit together with such an exactitude and transported. Dubbed “The Lost City of the Incas,” it was missed by the plundering conquistadors and remained hidden from Western eyes until 1911 when American explorer Hiram Bingham re-discovered it.
Descending into Qatar via Qatar Airways is a visual feast for one’s eyes. Their capital city, Doha, set along the sparkling waters of the Arabian Gulf gives way to a land of sandy desert, modern skyscrapers and Islamic arts.
Although most American’s minds turn to Dubai when planning a trip to the Middle East, Qatar, with a total population of approximately 1.4 million is a sun drenched country filled with desert excursions and shopping bazaars; natural attractions, water sports and historical museums. There are luxury resorts and an array of culinary surprises, from critically acclaimed Gordon Ramsey’s Maze restaurant to the local eateries.