Tagcrumbs are places worth remembering

Let’s face it: there are tons of online travel resources out there, and they seem to be growing exponentially by the day. It came to my attention that one of those millions should not be overlooked. Despite its rather unfortunate name, I found Tagcrumbs, a Germany and UK-based company, to be quite useful and informative.

The premise here is simple. When you come across a cool place in the world (one worth remembering), sign into your Tagcrumbs account and tag it by location. You can then write a little blurb about it, adding specific recommendations if you like. Each Tagcrumb is connected to a specific location and has some tags added to it. That way you can easily search for nearby places that are relevant to you.
The site will eventually provide a way to send your tagcrumbs to your friends as well as upload new tagcrumbs from your mobile phone.

Ultimately, Tagcrumbs is a comprehensive site that allows you to organize and share interesting stories, opinions and insider tips with the world. Right now, it’s just getting started, and while notable places in the U.S. have yet to be tagged, I could see this resource really taking off with the proper publicity. All this site needs is a little incentive for users.

So go ahead: get to it — Tagcrumb away!

Face to Face with West Africa’s Wildlife

The Penjari Biosphere is a wildlife preserve in a remote corner of the West African nation of Benin. Like many such wildlife areas, it struggles with poachers and environmental problems, but tourism, in the form of photo safaris like the one in the video, is an important source of income for the area.

Even the most jaded tourist, wary of tourist traps and non-authentic experiences, would find a safari like the one in the video exciting. The fact that getting up-close and personal with wild animals is an attractive proposition is nothing new to the African tourism industry, but fully capitalizing on the tourist potential while protecting the wildlife for future tourism is the challenge. But, there are now economic reasons for creating a sustainable tourist model. The more interest in wildlife tourism grows, the more demand there will be for sustainability.

This video was taken in early morning, when the Penjari’s animals all head for the nearest watering hole. Check out the menacing elephant about a minute-and-a-half in.
Video courtesy of Boing Boing

Five endangered places you should see now, before they’re gone

If you knew a place was going to disappear soon, even if it wasn’t one of your top must-see destinations, would you visit it just in case you regretted never seeing it later on? Our brand-new sister blog, the Green Daily, recently published this post on vacation destinations that are on the brink of being extinct. A word to the wise: see them now or you might never get a chance. Here’s what made the list:

  1. Traditional China: Sadly, many Chinese landmarks and artifacts have fallen victim to the Yangtze River Valley damming project, which has flooded many traditional places along the historic body of water. And more of China is disappearing each day, particularly in the Yunnan province.
  2. The San Rafael Glacier, Chile: Glaciers are one tragic victim of this thing we call global warming, and they’re literally turning to water before our eyes. See this one before it disappears.
  3. Quirky Caribbean: When you go to the Caribbean these days, chances are you’ll see very little of the actual culture of this amazing destination — but you’ll see a lot of your all-inclusive resort! Travel outside the box and experience the culture in all it’s glory. Sure, the booze doesn’t flow like water in the real Caribbean, but you’ll have a much more rewarding experience. And you’ll be helping preserve this vibrant, dynamic culture.
  4. Red Sand Dunes, Namibia: Tourism and recreation are quickly eroding this naturally beautiful spot. For a one-of-a-kind experience, see these dunes before they’re gone for good.
  5. Village Culture in Romania: Romania’s mountain villages for up in the alps are a place where tourists can be transported back in time — people even still use carts and horses for transportation! But joining the European Union is sure to have a deep impact on these quaint communities.

The Happiest Country on Earth is…

For those of you unfamiliar with the reality TV series Survivor or have better things to do with your time than watch average folk battle it our for prizes and such by competing in gladiator type competitions, you may not be familiar Vanuatu. Perhaps, you’re fortunate enough to know about the group of islands in the South Pacific Ocean without the help of television and if you are you may also like to know that Vanuatu has ranked tops as the world’s happiest country. According to this Yahoo News piece, a study measuring people’s wellbeing and their impact on the environment has ranked Vanuatu at the top with Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, and Panama trailing close behind to complete the world’s top 5 happiest places to reside. Not really surprising if you ask me. Islands always come off as cheerful places to me and having been to Costa Rica myself, I could certainly see myself living there. As far as Vanuatu is concerned – I’d love to go there as much as I’d love to go to Somalia. Happiness is what you make it.

The Happy Planet Index is complied by the British New Economics Foundation (NEF) and also combines life satisfaction, life expectancy and environmental footprint to rank countries. Hopefully the results won’t drive herds of shutter-bug tourists to happy little Vanuatu or away from Zimbabwe, an African country my friend finds as one of the best, but ranks 178 on the list. The U.S. comes in at 150, Canada (111), France (129), Germany (81), Japan (95) and Russia (172).

What do you think? Agree or disagree? What do you consider the happiest place on Earth?