Stranded Travelers In The Arctic Receive Emergency Supplies From Canadian Military

Earlier today the Canadian military conducted an operation to deliver emergency supplies to a group of stranded travelers that are adrift on an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean. The supplies were dropped onto the ice via a C-130 Hercules cargo plane and included life-rafts and other survival gear to help keep the castaways safe until further assistance can arrive on the scene.

The nearly two dozen travelers were exploring remote Baffin Island on a tour offered by a company called Arctic Kingdoms. Late Monday evening or early Tuesday morning, the 30-mile long ice floe on which they had made camp broke away from land and began to drift out to sea. With no way to get back onto Baffin, the travelers are at the mercy of the ocean currents while they wait for someone to come rescue them. Canadian authorities say that they are currently about 12 kilometers (7.8 miles) off shore.

Arctic Kingdoms provides adventurous travelers with an opportunity to go on wildlife spotting excursions in the Arctic. The tourists on this particular trip were hoping to encounter polar bears, seals and other animals unique to the region, but now they are getting a bit more of an adventure than they bargained for. According to a post to the company’s website however, everyone is in good health and spirits.

Due to the remote nature of Baffin Island, it is taking some time to scramble helicopters from Newfoundland that can mount a rescue operation. Those helicopters were expected to be onsite later today at which time search and rescue teams hope to begin evacuating the travelers.

10 Colorful Cities From Around The World

Manarola When many people think of cities, they picture concrete, skyscrapers, road work and steel. The truth is, however, there are many cities around the world with a more vibrant and colorful atmosphere. In fact, some of these places are so creative and beautiful, they are a work of art in themselves.

Deep blue structures reside next to loud pink and sunflower yellow houses, as hot orange and rich spring purple buildings sit across the street. Being able to see this fusion of colors in one place is reason enough to visit each of these unique cities.

For a more visual idea of colorful cities around the world, check out the gallery. Have a favorite colorful destination of your own? Tell us in the comments.

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[Images via Big Stock]

L’Anse aux Meadows: A Viking colony in Canada

L'Anse aux Meadows, Viking

The Vikings were some of the best sailors of the Middle Ages. They sailed all over the Mediterranean, far up the rivers of Russia and across the north Atlantic to colonize Iceland and Greenland. For a long time archaeologists wondered if they ever made it to other parts of North America besides Greenland. Although some Viking sagas mention a land called Vinland to the west of Greenland, no reliable traces of further Viking settlement were discovered until 1960.

In that year, a Norwegian archaeologist discovered a Viking village on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland, Canada. Called L’Anse aux Meadows, the site includes several houses made from sod put over a wooden framework. One building was identified as a smithy, and another as a carpenter’s workshop. Several distinctively Viking artifacts were found, proving they really did make it here.

The settlement has been dated to about 1000 A.D. and doesn’t appear to have been used for very long. One interesting aspect of L’Anse aux Meadows is that it looks like a typical Viking base camp for hunting and exploration. That hints at more Viking sites waiting to be found. Archaeologists found butternuts at the site, a plant that doesn’t grow this far north, suggesting the Vikings were sailing to the south or perhaps trading with the Native Americans.

%Gallery-150700%L’Anse aux Meadows is now a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visitor center explains the history of Viking exploration, and reconstructed sod huts give you a feel for what it was like in those days. Re-enactors explain Viking shipbuilding, cooking, ironworking and navigation. You can even listen to a Viking saga!

There’s a lot of natural beauty to the site too, including rare plants and sweeping views of the sea. Icebergs are a common sight. Although L’Anse aux Meadows is a bit out of the way for most visitors to Canada, you’ll be rewarded with some fascinating history and a harsh but beautiful landscape.

While L’Anse aux Meadows is the only confirmed Viking site in west of Greenland, several controversial sites in Canada and the United States have been proposed as evidence of an extensive Viking exploration of North America. Tomorrow I’ll be writing about those, so stay tuned!

Photo courtesy user Rosino via flickr.

Ireland added to the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail now extends all the way to IrelandYou’ve heard us sing the praises of the Appalachian Trail on more than one occasion here on Gadling. It’s the 2181-mile long trekking route that runs from Georgia to Maine that is considered amongst the best in the world. Turns out, the trail just got a whole lot longer, stretching all the way across the ocean to Ireland.

Officially, the AT is an American trail, and more than 2.5 million hikers use at least some segment of it on an annual basis. But there is also an International Appalachian Trail that extends all the way to the most northerly point of Newfoundland, Canada, adding an additional 1900+ miles to the route. That IAT is now jumping across the pond to Ireland, where it will run from Donegal to Antrim. According to Paul Wylezol, Chairman of the International Appalachian Trail, Ireland was added to the IAT because of “its direct physical connection to Newfoundland across geologic time, and its cultural and ethnic connection to eastern Canada and the US in modern times.”

In other words, Ireland once was connected to North America as part of the super-continent known as Pangaea, and because of that, it is getting added to the Appalachian Trail. Organizers hope to also add sections in Scotland, Norway and Greenland, as mountains in those locations are geologically related to the Appalachian Mountains. In fact, there are some indications that they may have once been a single range, before continental drift pushed the Earth’s land masses out to their current locations.

Hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail has long been considered one of the most impressive accomplishments in long distance trekking. For those hoping to achieve that feat in the future, it has suddenly gotten a lot longer and more challenging. I don’t think a pair of water proof boots are going to cut it.

[Photo credit: Paulbalegend via WikiMedia]

Epic cycling tour comes to North America

Tour d’Afrique Ltd., the adventure travel company that organizes some of the best cycling tours on the planet, has announced the latest addition to their catalog, and this time they’re bringing their magic to North America. This new ride is aptly named The North American Epic, and when it launches next May, it will cover nearly 5000 miles, stretching from the Pacific Coast of California to the Atlantic Coast of Canada’s Newfoundland.

The North American Epic gets underway on May 29th from San Francisco, and immediately proceeds south along the Pacific Coast, before the riders turn east, heading into the desert. From there it’s on to the Grand Canyon, and the Four Corners of Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico, before tackling the Rocky Mountains themselves. The tour continues into the American Heartland, taking the legendary Route 66 east across Missouri and Illinois, then turning northward toward Michigan and the Great Lakes region, before finally crossing the border into Canada. Cycling through Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec, before proceeding up the scenic St. Lawrence Sea Way, the riders will experience plenty of Canadian hospitality before the ride finally comes to an end in St. Johns, Newfoundland on the 28th of August.

This three month long cycling tour features 76 days in the saddle, along with 16 rest days, and costs $9950 for the complete ride. But as with all their tours, Tour d’Afrique Ltd. offers cyclists various options for riding shorter sub-sections of the entire route. In the case of this tour, there are five shorter segments that can be ridden in any combination as well, allowing those with time constraints to take part in this great new tour too.

And for adventure cyclists looking for something a bit more exotic, check out the company’s 44 day ride along the Silk Road or their 80 day tour of South America. But for something really adventurous, go for the flagship ride, the Tour d’Afrique, which is 120 days in length and runs from Cairo to Cape Town.

[Photo credit: Tour d’Afrique Ltd.]