If you've ever dreamed of finding yourself entrenched in the mysticism and beauty thought only captured by the imagination and brush of the late Bob Ross, do yourself a favor and put Patagonia at the top of your "Places to Visit Before I Die" list. Located in the sparsely populated southern end of South America, Patagonia harbors natural beauty and grandeur I thought was only made possible by highly paid Hollywood graphic designers. Shared by Argentina and Chile, Patagonia comprises the southern section of the Andes Mountains. While this wild, remote and sometimes difficultly accessed wonder of nature is large enough to explore over a myriad of lifespans, we decided to at least get a taste of it by taking on the popular 4 day, 3 night "W" Trek in Torres Del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia.
Exploring Tiger's Nest
Tucked away on a steep Cliffside in the majestic Upper Paro Valley of Bhutan, Paro Taktsang (also known as Tiger’s Nest) is an absolute must for any adventurers preparing to embark on a trek through Bhutan’s Himalaya Mountains. This Himalayan Buddhist sacred site was constructed in 1692 around a cave (also called a “tiger’s lair”) where, legend holds, Guru Padmasambhava meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th Century. Padmasambhava is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan and is the tutelary deity of the country.
The Tiger’s Nest is a roughly 6.2 mile one way hike from the Paro Valley bottom through gorgeous forest with about 3,000 feet of elevation gain. A moderately difficult day hike, many trekkers spend their first day in Bhutan hiking the out and back to the Tiger’s Nest in order to acclimate to the high altitude.
Riads are a traditional Moroccan house, located within an ancient medina (walled city), which is designed around a central courtyard and or/garden. These beautiful homes have been restored to reflect traditional Moroccan decor, but also with the modern amenities you would find in 4 and 5 star hotels.
As you approach a riad from one of Morocco's narrow, labyrinthine streets, you will likely notice that each door looks similar, but also has its own personality. When you open the door to the riad, you will enter in a hallway that does not permit you a glimpse into the heart of the house. This 'layered' effect of walls, doors and hallways are a historical privacy feature for the residents of the house....allowing the outside door to be open to the public, while offering protection for those within...and also creates a sound barrier against the noise of the streets. As you pass from the bustling streets, through the nondescript exterior and into the central courtyard/garden of a riad, you may be surprised and delighted by tranquil, elegant beauty you will find within. A diamond in the rough!