Visit the Great Barrier Reef at a substantial discount

The Great Barrier Reef IslandsYesterday we told you about a new travel survey from LivingSocial that revealed that Americans consider themselves the worst travelers in the world. That same survey also asked respondents to rank their top international travel destinations with Australia‘s Great Barrier Reef coming out on top. To celebrate this distinction, and to help make some of those travel dreams come true, Hamilton Island is now offering a discount of nearly 40% for future visitors.

The Hamilton Island & Sydney package includes everything you’ll need to enjoy an Australian vacation. The itinerary features round-trip flights on Virgin Australia from Los Angeles, ground transportation to and from the airport and five nights stay in both Sydney and on Hamilton Island itself. It also includes snorkeling excursions on the Great Barrier Reef; a visit to the world famous Whitehaven Beach; access to windsurfing, catamarans and paddle skis; and much more. The package is priced at $3646, which represents a 38% savings, and must be taken between April 1st and September 15th of this year.

Having visited the GBR myself a few years back I can attest to how beautiful a destination it truly is. The Whitsunday Islands, of which Hamilton Island is a part, is amongst the most stunning places I’ve ever been and I completely understand why it was named as the top “dream destination” on the LivingSocial survey. Other places that earned a place on that list include the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the Great Wall of China. No word yet if any of those places are offering discounts on travel as well.

New stretch of Great Wall of China found using Google Earth

Great Wall of China, Mongolia, Gobi Desert
A British researcher scanning through images from Google Earth has discovered a new section of the Great Wall of China.

Surprisingly, this part of the famous wall isn’t in China, but rather Mongolia. The Great Wall is actually comprised of several walls built in various centuries by several different rulers starting in the fifth century B.C., or perhaps earlier.

When Great Wall expert William Lindesay spotted what looked like a wall cutting across a remote part of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia’s southernmost region, he headed out with a team to follow along 60 miles of it. This photo, courtesy Alec East, shows the kind of terrain these modern-day adventurers had to deal with.

The wall varies in construction depending on the terrain and resources. In some parts it’s made of local volcanic basalt, while in others it’s a simple berm of sand and shrub cuttings. Lindesey believes this new portion of the wall is part of the so-called Wall of Genghis Khan, which, despite the name, is not considered a project by the famous conqueror but actually the Han Dynasty of China in 115 B.C.

Lindesay says this is the first time part of China’s defenses has been found outside of the modern boundaries of China. A journalist for the New York Times may have discovered a portion of the same wall in Russia in 2001.

Video of the day: dancing on the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China isn’t just for visiting and photographing–it’s for dancing. Today’s Video of The Day showcases YouTube user WHZGUDZ busting moves on the Great Wall of China, literally. The song, “Russian Lullaby” by Butch Clancy, certainly adds to the overall effect of this video, but it’s captivating even with the sound turned off. The striking juxtaposition in this video is what caught my eye. A stylish, young, male dancer brings life into what looks to be a silent and still day in China, ridden with low-laying fog. This video showcases the landscape surrounding one of the world’s greatest tourist attractions while displaying a performance that puts things in perspective a bit.

The Great Wall of China is over 2,000 years old. Many people from across the globe have visited this spot, all hailing from varying cultures, which include, among other things, varying styles of dress and dance. This dancer featured in the video is not, I am sure, the first person to dance on the Great Wall, nor will he be the last. He is one of many and that, in itself, is a testament to the beauty of the Great Wall, standing strong as styles and people alike come and go.

Visit the Great Wall of China in Beijing

The Great Walls of China

China, Great Wall of China
There was more than one Great Wall of China, a Chinese archaeology team has discovered.

Several portions of the wall are actually double, triple, or quadruple walls running closely parallel to one another. This was a common feature in many ancient fortifications because it made the position harder to take. Often the troops would be garrisoned between the walls for protection against surprise attacks from the rear. The land between the walls also offered a protected area for flocks and farmland to provision the troops.

The Chinese team found that the main wall was larger than the others. The investigation continues.

Several walls were originally built starting in the 5th century BC or perhaps earlier. Under the Emperor Qin Shi Huang in c.220 BC, the earlier scattered walls were linked together to make a continuous fortification to protect China from nomadic tribes to the north. The Great Wall was lengthened, added to, and rebuilt several times in later centuries. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) there was a major expansion during which 5,650 km (3,511 miles) of wall were built. A recent survey found the entire wall, with all of its branches, runs for 8,852 km (5,500 miles). This figure will have to be reassessed now that parallel walls have been found.

[Photo courtesy Francisco Diez]

25 newly-discovered travel destinations from Wanderfly.com

newly-discovered travel destinationsIf you’ve checked out Wanderfly, the new travel planning and booking service that suggests destinations and activities based on your interests, you know they’ve come up with some unique and untouristy destinations. Now they’ve gone beyond the beaten tourist track with 25 newly-discovered travel destinations. Why just see the Great Wall of China when you could see a whole city full of kittens in China (far greater if you ask us!)?! Fan of Dolly Parton? Thousands go to Dollywood, why not relax on a man-made archipelago in the shape of Dolly and Kenny Rogers at Islands in the Stream in Dubai? Can’t get enough of that rascal Charlie Sheen? Intrepid adventurers can get inside his brain and see what all that tiger’s blood does.

The Wanderfly researchers teamed up with Whim Quarterly to unearth these new places and the best activities to do. The new destinations were chosen for their interactive experiences to give travelers the most authentic experience. “We challenge any traveler to find even a single destination that can compare to these unearthed gems,” says Wanderfly co-founder Christy Liu. “Paris? London? Cleveland? With respect to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they all pale in comparison to such places as ObeCity, Funkytown, and Your Mom’s House.”

For more on these exciting new discoveries, visit Wanderfly.com and click the crazy kitten on the home page and then Get Going. But hurry, some of these destinations may only be available on April 1st.