There’s More to Iceland Than Ice!

December 30th, 2015 by Gannon & Wyatt

It’s true that Iceland has ice, but it’s not cold all the time. In fact, the weather changes so quickly that you might feel like you’ve experienced all four seasons in one day. There are some other things about Iceland that might surprise you:

Iceland

Iceland Water Fall

Waterfalls.

There are about 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland. Because there are glaciers, frequent snow and rain, and plenty of cliffs, it’s the ideal environment for waterfalls. Some are big and powerful, others small trickles, but all are beautiful to see.

Iceland Glacier

Snowmobiling on glaciers

Glaciers.

Glaciers have their own weather. It’s true! These big icy masses have their own weather systems and aren’t affected by the sun. 10% of Iceland is covered by glaciers and people travel from all over the world to study them. There are tours where people can climb and hike on the glaciers, or even ride snowmobiles.

Iceland Hot Springs

Hot Springs.

Volcanoes made hot springs. Because of Iceland’s geography, the volcanic land and geo-thermally heated water create steamy hot pools called natural spas. You can swim in some of them, or just relax in the mineral-rich water.

Icelandic Caves

Caves.

Adventure is under the ground. Iceland has lots of caves to explore. Those made by the volcanoes are called “lava tubes.” They have stalactites and stalagmites and all kinds of cool shapes left by the lava. When a cave is around for a long time, it gets covered by ice and frozen sculptures.

Rafting in Iceland

Have you traveled anywhere that was full of surprises? Tell us about it in the comments!

Wildlife at Great Bear Rainforest

December 16th, 2015 by Gannon & Wyatt

When most people hear the word “rainforest” they think of hot, tropical jungles, like in the Amazon. But there are also temperate rainforests, which means that they can be cooler and have conifer trees. That’s right, it can feel like Christmas in the rainforest!

Great Bear Rainforest

Great Bear Rainforest is in Canada on the British Columbia Coast. It has incredibly unique wildlife because it is close to both the mountains and the ocean. Here are some of the animals we saw there:

Sea lions

Sea Lions.

These social animals love to hang out together on land. They stay in a big group and jump in the water when they are hungry or want to go for a swim. They eat all kinds of fish and can stay underwater for five minutes at a time.

Cougars.

There are lots of cougars in the Great Bear, although they prefer to come out at night and can be hard to spot during the day. Also known as mountain lions, these cats are large and quiet. They hunt small animals like rodents, or large animals like deer. They can jump 18 feet into the air and run up to 50 miles per hour!

Photographing Whales

Whale Tail

Whales.

Humpbacks, fin whales, and killer whales all can be seen in the Great Bear. Lots of people visit just to catch a glimpse of them from their boats and we were lucky to see a whole bunch of humpback whales. They like to slap the water with their tails and eat tiny fish like krill.

Spirit Bear

Spirit Bear Canada

Spirit Bear.

A subspecies of the black bear is the Kermode bear. They are native to the area and nicknamed “spirit bears” in BC. They are very special because one out of every ten cubs is white instead of black. Spirit bears are one of the rarest animals on earth, so we were very excited to see one!

Gannon and Wyatt Great Bear Rainforest

Have you seen any special wildlife? Tell us about it in the comments.

What to do in Greenland

December 2nd, 2015 by Gannon & Wyatt

Greenland is one of the most remote places on earth and also one of the most beautiful. It’s not a place many people travel to because it’s somewhat isolated, though you can take a day trip from Iceland and fly there in less than two hours.

Greenland from airplane

Once you’ve arrived, there are things every traveler should do!

Greenland village

Visit the local people.

It’s pretty special to live in such a unique, unspoiled place. Smile and wave hello to the local people. Most are indigenous and their families have lived in Greenland for generations. Stop by the local gift shop and buy a handmade craft as a souvenir. Go to a restaurant and sample the food. They serve fresh fish, crabs, and if you’re adventurous, even seal and whale meat.

See the sledding dogs.

Dogsledding is an important part of Greenland’s traditions. Greenlandic sled dogs look like large huskies, can run really fast, and like to hang out together in packs. We even got to pet some that were puppies!

Dogsledding

Dogsledding puppies

Look to the skies.

If you are traveling between September and April, you can see the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. It’s a spectacular colorful show in the sky. You wear lots of warm clothes and drink hot cocoa while you patiently wait for the lights to start. You’ll be glad you stayed awake because there’s nothing like it!

Experience the icebergs.

Greenland is the iceberg capital of the world and there are thousands of icebergs. You can see them from the airplane, from coastal towns, or up close from a boat. Each one is different and they make creaking noises as air escapes through their cracks.

Greenland icebergs

Wyatt with icebergs

Have you been to Greenland? Where is your dream place to visit? Leave us a comment!

Icy Greenland Water

Travels with Gannon & Wyatt Holiday Giveaway

November 16th, 2015 by Gannon & Wyatt

We know that the spirit of adventure is in all of you, which is why we are super excited to bring you this holiday giveaway so that you can document all of your travels, adventures, and creativity!

GoPro Holiday GiveawayUse the Rafflecopter widget below to earn entries to win a brand new GoPro HERO4 — it’s the smallest, lightest, and most rugged GoPro yet, perfect for capturing moments from your next hiking, biking, swimming, camping, or neighborhood adventure!

Good luck!

Pssst…you can Tweet every day for extra entries!

 

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3 Interesting Facts About Botswana

October 21st, 2015 by Gannon & Wyatt

Our very first adventure took us to Botswana, a beautiful country located in South Africa with more than 2 million residents. Here are some of the fun and interesting facts that we learned.

3 Interesting Facts About Botswana

Interesting Facts about Botswana

1. Elephants

In South Africa, Botswana has the largest elephant population and the average African elephant lives to be about 56 years old. Did you know elephants that live out in the wild live longer than elephants that live at zoos? The average age for an African elephant in a zoo is only 17 years. That’s quite the difference and lots of food for thought.

2. English

English is the “official” language of Botswana and is taught in all the schools and spoken in tourist areas. However, Setswana is the national language and the most spoken language throughout the country.

3. Diamond Mine

Before Botswana because an independent country, it was controlled by the British government and one of the poorest and least developed countries in Africa.

Once it gained its independence, a huge diamond mine was found in Orapa and Botswana is now one of the most prosperous countries in Africa. Eco-tourism is also a fast growing sector of Botswana’s economy. Each year, the government invests a large portion of the budget in education.

Do you know any interesting facts about Botswana or Africa? Share in the comments!

5 Interesting Facts About Egypt

October 14th, 2015 by Gannon & Wyatt

Egypt is an amazingly beautiful place that we had the privilege of exploring while writing our book Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Egypt. Here are five interesting facts that we learned during our adventure that you might not know!

5 Interesting Facts about Egypt

5 Interesting Facts About Egypt

Fact #1: The Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and the largest Egyptian pyramids. This incredible structure weighs as much as 16 Empire State buildings!

There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock and the pyramid is built on top, the private chamber of the King and Queen are higher up in the pyramid, and the main part is actually a complex of buildings.

This complex includes two mortuary temples in honor of Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, three smaller pyramids for Khufu’s wives, an even smaller “satellite” pyramid, a raised causeway connecting the two temples, and small tombs surrounding the pyramid where nobles are buried.

The Great PyramidPhoto credit: Great Pyramid by Nina

Fact #2: The Egyptian alphabet contained more than 700 hieroglyphs!

Hieroglyphs are made from two Greek words:

  1. Hieros meaning holy
  2. Glyphe which means writing

Essentially, it means holy writing. Isn’t that neat? You can visit this website to see what your name in hieroglyphs!

Fact #3: Cleopatra was the last of a series of rulers called the Ptolemies who ruled Egypt for nearly 300 years. She was also allegedly, the last true pharaoh of Egypt.

The story of Cleopatra is very interesting! The tomb of her and her husband Antony has never been found. You can learn all about Cleopatra’s life here.

Egyptian FlagPhoto credit: Wikipedia

Fact #4: The Egyptian flag consists of 3 colors, which are red, white, and black. There’s a gold eagle on the white part of the flag. The black on the flag is representative of oppression, the white on the flag is representative of a bright future, and the red represents the struggle against oppression.

Fact #5: Ancient Egyptian women had more rights than most other women in the ancient world. Some examples are that they could own their own property and own their own businesses. Women from more affluent families could become doctors or priestesses, too.

These are just a few fun facts about Egypt. Do you have an interesting or favorite fact about Egypt? Share in the comments below!

Travel Quotes You’ll Love

September 21st, 2015 by Gannon & Wyatt

Quotes connect with people on so many different levels, especially when those quotes speak to what a person is passionate about. Since our passion is travel, here are some of our favorite travel quotes.

Travel Quotes Life To Escape Us

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” — Samuel Johnson

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” — Mary Ritter Beard

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” — Bill Bryson

Travel Quotes New Way Of Seeing Things

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” — Lao Tzu

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by.” —  Robert Frost

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” —  Anatole France

Travel On

Do you have any favorite travel quotes? Share them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

I Am the Hummingbird

September 18th, 2015 by Keith Hemstreet

Wangari Maathai was a great champion of human rights and environmental conservation. She founded the Green Belt Movement, which helped replant tens of millions of trees in Kenya, and started the Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies at the University of Nairobi. In 2004, she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She passed away in September 2011 at the age of 71.

In remembrance of this inspiring woman and her many accomplishments, we have posted a short video clip of Wangari Maathai delivering a simple, yet powerful message.  We hope you enjoy, take it to heart, and remember to “be the hummingbird.”

Top 5 Castles in Ireland to Visit

September 8th, 2015 by Gannon & Wyatt

A visit to Ireland is a once in a lifetime experience. Imagine going to some of the amazing castles in Ireland that were built as far back as the 1400s! You get to experience a little piece of that history. Here are some of the castles we think are the most beautiful and meaningful in Ireland.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

This list just wouldn’t feel right without including country’s top castle. It has been the center of British power for over 700 years and houses the amazing Chester Beatty Library. Since the 1938 inauguration of the very first President of Ireland, all inauguration have taken place at the castle.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

This castle is one of the most popular tour sites in Ireland. People come from all over just to kiss the Blarney Stone. The legend is that kissing the stone endows the kisser with the gift of gab, eloquence, or skill at flattery. Isn’t it such a beautiful and grand castle? For more information, here is their website.

Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle

This is another one of the most popular tourist attractions in Ireland. It was built in the 15th century and is still standing strong today. The MacNamara family built the castle back in 1425 but the initial settlement is thought to date back to the time of the Vikings. It is so neat to see something still standing that was created so long ago, and it is open to the public to tour. If you want to learn more about the history of Bunratty Castle, take a peek here.

Cahir Castle

Cahir Castle

This beautiful castle is one of the largest ancient castles in Ireland. It was built in County Tipperary in 1142 by Conor O’Brien, Prince of Thomond, on an island in the river Suir. In 1961 the last Lord Cahir died and the castle reverted to the state.

To find out more information and history about this castle, you can check out fun facts here.

Dunguaire Castle

Dunguaire Castle

Built in 1520 by the O’Hynes clan on the picturesque shores of Galway Bay, this restored 16th century tower house sits on a rocky outcrop on the shores of Galway Bay. We’ve saved the best one for last. There is an awesome legend that goes with this castle.

Legend has is that part of the attraction of Dunguaire’s Castle is that the Lord of the castle was very generous. It is said that he even continued this generosity into the afterlife. One example of this is the story about a poor beggar whom King Guaire had often helped in life. The beggar visited the King’s grave and said, “King Guaire, even you cannot help me now.”

Undeterred even by death, the King’s skeletal hand dropped several gold coins at the beggar’s feet. According to legend, still to this day, if a person stands at the front gate and asks a question, they will have an answer to their question by the end of the day.

So Dunguaire’s Castle might be the first on your list if you have a question that needs answering right away!

These are a few of the many amazing castles in Ireland that you might want to visit! If you’ve ever been to Ireland, what was your favorite castle? What was your favorite attraction?

Nature Can Make Kids Smarter

July 24th, 2015 by Keith Hemstreet

The famous naturalist Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “When we walk, we naturally go to the fields and woods: What would become of us, if we walked only in a garden or a mall?”

Walden Pond where Henry David Thoreau penned his famous book on the value of spending time in nature.

Walden Pond where Henry David Thoreau penned his famous book on the value of spending time in nature.

I could venture a guess, as I know a handful of people who spend far too much time in malls. However, I’d much prefer to focus on the benefits enjoyed by those who spend time rambling, instead, in the great outdoors.

Anyone who has wandered into the woods, taken a leisurely stroll along the beach, or even sat in the shade of an expansive oak, has most likely felt the positive effects of nature. Spending time in nature helps settle the mind, reduce stress, and establish a physical equilibrium. Place yourself in a natural setting and it is likely that whatever issues have been troubling you will suddenly seem trivial. Since I was young, I have been aware of this healing power, but Mother Nature’s good vibrations may actually do far more than just lift the spirits, especially in the case of children.

You can't deny the good feeling that comes over you in the presence of nature's spectacular beauty.

You can’t deny the good feeling that comes over you in the presence of nature’s spectacular beauty.

A recent study suggests that green space around schools—grasslands, trees, and plants—might actually make kids smarter. How’s that for added value? Not only does nature make you feel good, it can improve your brain function, as well.

The following is an excerpt from Olga Khazan’s article in The Atlantic, dated June 16, 2015:

“A new study out Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that green spaces can actually boost cognitive outcomes in children—in part by protecting their brains from air pollutants. For the large study involving 2,623 schoolchildren in Barcelona, researchers first assessed the amount of greenery around the children’s homes, along their commutes to school, and surrounding the schools themselves. They then measured the children’s working memories and attention spans using a series of word and number tests. The children who had more vegetation around their schools showed more progress in working memory and attention over the course of a year, a finding that held true even after the authors controlled for socioeconomic status. Not only did the plant life soak up much of the elemental carbon around the schools, the authors write, green spaces are also known to reduce city noise and stress while increasing opportunities for exercise.”

So, just in case any of us needed an additional reason to encourage young people (and adults) to connect with nature, there you have it—simply surrounding ourselves with green space might just make us happier, more intelligent, and thus, better people.

I, for one, am sold.