Every day around dusk the world’s smallest penguins waddle up on a stretch of coast near Oamaru, New Zealand
Is it possible to dislike penguins? There’s something universally adorable about them. Maybe it’s their waddling. Or their tuxedo outfits. Or how they are portrayed in popular culture, as in the wonderful March of the Penguins documentary.
Most penguin stories, including March, take place in Antarctica. However there are several other places on the planet to see wild penguins. At a few of those you can hop in the water and swim along side these friendly, feathered creatures. Here’s a look at our favorite:
The Big Baobab Bar has everything you'd find in a traditional British pub (except more ants).
Sometimes the name of a pub describes exactly what it is. So it is with the Big Baobab Bar in Limpopo Province, South Africa.
The “Baobab” in the moniker refers to a type of tree that’s native to Madagascar and found sprinkled throughout arid regions of southern Africa. The genus is colloquially referred to as “the upside down tree” — in the dry season, when baobabs sheds its leafs, the branches resemble underground roots.
Longtime readers of Spot Cool Stuff might remember our review of Sweden’s Utter Inn. The “inn” is located in the middle of a lake and consists of a single suite with one room above water — and another room beneath it!
It’s amazing being a guest at the Utter Inn, laying snuggled under your sheets while looking out at the underwater scene beyond your bedroom’s windows. But how much more cool would it be if that scene was of crystal clear tropical waters instead of a murky Scandinavian lake?
To answer that question, one needs to travel to the The Manta Resort on Pemba Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. That’s where Genberg Underwater Hotels, the company that designed and constructed the Utter Inn, recently finished work on their second half-underwater suite.
Spot Cool Stuff loves visiting color-bending locales. Like the black, green and red colored beaches of Hawaii. And the pastel-colored mountains of China. And lakes — of pink water?!
A select few lakes in the world — we’re featuring four below but there some two dozen others — have a hue of Pepto Bismol. That’s (usually) because their waters contain a large number of algae that excrete carotenoids. Algae are not the only life forms produce carotenoids. If, on trivia night, you are asked why salmon is pink or why lobster turns red when cooked, “carotenoids” would be your answer. But no animal can make carotenoids in the quality or at a level of pink-ness that the dunaliella salina algae can.
In case you are wondering, these pink lakes are all safe for swimming. (Indeed, both local folklore and some scientific studies have found that carotenoid-rich water is good for you). However, these lakes are also very salty — salt being a byproduct of all that carotenoids production.
Have you ever been to a raucous wedding reception that turned into an epic party? Exactly 202 years ago this October, the German Prince Ludwig the First married Princess Therese and afterwards hosted exactly such a celebration. It was so memorable that the attendees wanted to relive it every year. That desire spawned the annual alcohol-filled party known today as Oktoberfest.
Happily for lovers of celebrations and beer, Oktoberfest has very much spread beyond Germany in the last two centuries. Here is Spot Cool Stuff’s roundup of a few great places to enjoy the occasion outside of Europe. These Oktoberfests span the globe and are attended by revelers across the spectrum of race, religion and political affiliation. We see it as proof that one of man’s most universal and fundamental desires is to have fun — while guzzling beer and wearing lederhosen.
Spot Cool Stuff loves a good safari lodge, one that’s inviting and is in tune with its natural surroundings. Somehow candlelit dinners are more romantic when they are on a wood deck overlooking a river with crocodiles and hippos. Cold drinks taste better when drunk while gazing out at lions and giraffes in the heat of the day. Beds are more comfortable when they double as a refuge in the middle of an animal-filled wilderness.
Spot Cool Stuff also loves South Africa, a wondrous country that has more diversity of culture and landscape than most people imagine.
So it was an easy decision to write up two posts that combine our twin passions for South Africa and safari lodges.
In this, the first of our two-part series, we check out seven luxurious safari lodges. If you’re looking for a resort to celebrate a special occasion (or if you have access to an expense account) consider a stay at one of these WOW-inducing digs that combine luxury with some of the best game viewing in Africa. In our next South Africa post we’ll focus on our favorite budget safari lodges. To stay updated on that (and all the other travel goings at Spot Cool Stuff), follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook or subscribe to our RSS feed and get our travel posts delivered to you directly.
And with that, here’s to luxury in the middle of South African wilderness:
The man made hole is so large that helicopters and small aircraft can not fly near it without the very real fear of being sucked in!
Spot Cool Stuff has been thinking of cool spots lately. Big geologic spots, that is. Circles on the face of the planet of the sort that would make some one browsing around on Google Earth (or traveling in a spaceship) stop and ask What the heck is that circular thing?
Here’s an overview (literally!) of seven of our favorite such spots. They span six countries on four continents:
Spot Cool Stuff has a love of vintage travel guidebooks, the older the better. In one our finds, a guidebook to Afghanistan written in the late 1800s, the authors described the Buddha statues around of the town of Bamiyan as an over-crowded tourist trap. Contrast that with the whole of the last three decades, during which absolutely nowhere in Afghanistan could remotely qualify as an “over-crowded tourist trap.” That, sadly, includes the Bamiyan Buddha statues—they were mostly destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
The point being: Things change. A place that’s uninviting now might become completely pleasant in the future. A great travel destination now could not be so much later.