Avenue of the Baobabs

These trees may look like they are straight from Disney’s upcoming live-action Jungle Book movie, but it’s just Avenue of the Baobabs, which line the dirt road between Morondava and Belon’i Tsiribihina in western Madagascar. Its striking landscape draws travelers from around the world, making it one of the most visited locations in the region. Baobab trees, up to 800 years old, known locally as renala (Malagasy for “mother of the forest”), are a legacy of the dense tropical forests that once thrived on Madagascar. Continue reading for more.

5. Neuschwanstein Castle – Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle is a nineteenth-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Fussen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds. The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886. Since then more than 61 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle. More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with as many as 6,000 per day in the summer. The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and later, similar structures.

4. Wisteria Tunnel – Japan

Located in the city of Kitakyushu, Japan, Wisteria Tunnel can be found at Kawachi Fuji Garden, home to 150 Wisteria flowering plants spanning 20 different species. It’s located approximately 6-hours from Tokyo, and the best time to visit is from late April to mid May, typically peaking at the end of April. Since it’s a private garden, expect to pay a small entry fee.

3. Mont Saint-Michel – France

Mont Saint-Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France, located approximately 0.6-miles off the country’s northwestern coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times, and since the eighth century CE has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. One of France’s most recognizable landmarks, Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and more than 3 million people visit it each year.

2. Sea of Stars – Vaadhoo Island, Maldives

Vaadhoo island is famous for the ‘sea of stars.’ This marine bioluminescence is generated by phytoplankton known as dinoflagellates. Woodland Hastings of Harvard University has for the first time identified a special channel in the dinoflagellate cell membrane that responds to electrical signals – offering a potential mechanism for how the algae create their unique illumination.

1. Waitomo Glowworm Caves – New Zealand

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves attraction is a cave at Waitomo on the North Island of New Zealand, known for its population of glowworms, Arachnocampa luminosa. This species is found exclusively in New Zealand. They are around the size of an average mosquito. This cave is part of the Waitomo Caves system that includes the Ruakuri Cave and the Aranui Cave. The guided tour through the Waitomo Glowworm Caves brings the visitor through three different levels and begins at the top level of the cave and the Catacombs. The levels are linked by the Tomo, which is a 16 m vertical shaft made of limestone.