Vote for the new Seven Wonders of Nature

A few years back there was an organized effort to select a New Seven Wonders of the World, which resulted in a list of seven amazing places that joined the Great Pyramids on a modern list of spectacular destinations. Now, a similar effort is being made to select a New Seven Wonders of Nature as well.

The process began not long after naming the New Seven Wonders, with more than 440 locations, in 200 countries being nominated. That list was eventually whittled down to 77 locations for the second round of voting, which resulted in 28 finalists which are now being considered.

Amongst the finalist are such iconic places as The Amazon Rainforest in South America, the Grand Canyon in the U.S., and Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Those locations are well known and are likely to earn a spot on the list, although there are a few destinations that are just as spectacular, but are lesser known to the genearl public. Those places include Milford Sound in New Zealand, the Mud Volcanoes of Azerbaijan, and Jeju Island in Korea.

The organizers of the competition have made it easy to cast your votes for the New Seven Wonders of Nature, but just in case you need a little help, they’ve created a video showing you just how to make your selections. Voting will continue in 2011, with the officiall annoucement expected to come on November 11. (11/11/11)

If I were pressed to make my choices, my Seven Wonders would include The Amazon, The Great Barrier Reef, The Galapagos Islands, The Grand Canyon, Kilimanjaro, Angel Falls, and Jeju Island. What are yours picks?

Iraq opens Najaf airport, hopes to spur tourism

The Dalmatian Coast and Marrakech are so 2007 — you aren’t a real hipster traveler until you’ve visited Iraq’s newly accesible tourist destination: Najaf.

Officially opening its doors this month, Al-Hamza airport was just revamped by Kuwaiti investors and is now geared towards bringing in tourist dollars. Najaf, a southern city in Iraq, is home to the shrine of Iman Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed, and apparently attracts over nine million pilgrims each year. Their hope is that this airport will increase tourism by an additional ten percent.

Know what else might increase your tourism? Not being at war.

But perhaps this is an indication of the state of affairs in the war stricken country. As a country, when you’re able to concentrate some effort on development, infrastructure and tourism instead of security and defense, perhaps things are looking a little brighter.

As a destination, Iraq has plenty to offer. Before the war, the Antiquities Museum was supposed to be among the richest in the world, while what remains of The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are allegedly in Al-Hillah.

Given the current conflict, I’m still a little hesitant to book my trip out to Iraq. Hopefully some day I’ll be able to take my children to see what’s left of Babylon.