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Trip Doctor Series: Trekking, Walking and Hiking

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I don’t know about you, but this fantastic spring weather makes me want to dust off my hiking boots and go explore one of the world’s most beautiful rural landscapes on foot. Thankfully, all I need to do for inspiration is to flip through the May issue’s Trekking, Walking and Hiking package. Every week this month, I’ll highlight a trip from our story that I hope might inspire you to take an adventure of your own.
 
Hike: Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks
Where: idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

Off the Beaten Path creates bespoke trips that combine the ragged peaks and pristine lakes of Glacier National Park with the abundant wildlife of Yellowstone. This spring the outfitter is partnering with Airstream 2 Go to provide top-of-the-line trailers as part of custom itineraries in the Rocky Mountains. Nine days from $2,900. 

Jennifer FlowersJennifer Flowers is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @JennFlowers.

Photo courtesy of NPS / Jim Peaco

TripAdvisor Launches GreenLeaders, Just in Time for Earth Day

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How green is your getaway? To determine exactly how evironmentally responsible your destination is, TripAdvisor has lauched its GreenLeaders program. In the works for over a year, GreenLeaders rates green hotels and B&B’s on a scale of five levels, and broadcasts the exact details of what each of those properties is doing to operate on an energy budget.

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Is Something Rotten in the City of La Jolla?

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If you’re in La Jolla for lunch, you might think twice before asking for patio seating.

According to various reports including one from The Associated Press, seriously stinky breezes are leaving tourists and business owners gasping for air.

"We've had to relocate tables inside," Christina Collignon, a hostess at the cliffside steak restaurant Eddie V's, told the AP. "Because when people go out to the patio, some are like 'Oh my God. I can't handle the smell.'"

The area of La Jolla Cove is home to some of the city’s best restaurants, posh boutique hotels, and a few famous, well-heeled residents like Mitt Romney. It's also an area of "special biological significance" by California law, which means there are strict regulations to protect local marine life, like dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals, and countless birds.

Those rules have made the area attractive to large numbers of two endangered species, brown pelicans and cormorants. Both species have flocked to La Jolla, no pun intended, and have covered the seaside rocks and outcroppings with guano—lots of guano. The resulting scent, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune article, is akin to a blend of “rotting vinegar and human body odor.”

For years, La Jolla has been the site of another wildlife-related debate: the seals that have taken up residence on the previously human-covered Children's Pool beach. A new “beach cam" monitors both the seals and any humans who might bother them.

And now the bird funk, some say, is hurting local business. The owner of legendary local restaurant George’s at the Cove has started an online petition to clean up the poop—although city officials have indicated that environmental safety makes that chore complicated. Some have argued for horn blasts to shoo the birds away, while others have suggested tarps or intimidating falconry.

One La Jolla waiter, meanwhile, says that this may be the price one pays for natural harmony. “People come here because they want to see nature,” Anton Marek told the AP. “Poop is a part of nature.”

Photo by istockphoto

Saffire Freycinet’s Oyster Tastings

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There are some hotels that immerse guests in local culinary traditions. And others that actually immerse them. Overlooking a national park on Tasmania’s eastern coast, Saffire Freycinet (all-inclusive; $$$$$) offers visits to a nearby marine farm, where a guide suits you up in waders, leads you to a waiting table in a cool, pristine bay, and pulls a handful of Pacific oysters from the water. He swiftly pries the bivalves open and serves them right there with just a squeeze of lemon and a glass of sparkling Tasmanian wine. Silence, stillness, and a dozen creamy oysters from some of the purest water in the world. What better way to get a taste of Tassie?

Photo by Tourism Tasmania & Pure Tasmania

Trip Doctor: Smart New Initiative Rethinks Bottled Water in Hotels

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You already knew that the bottle of Evian on your hotel room nightstand comes with a hefty price tag. But if you happen to see a swanky, Yves Behar-designed bottle next time you’re traveling, that charge will go to a good cause.

Last week, a number of luxury hotel chains, including several Ritz-Carltons, Dusit International, Banyan Tree, Six Senses, Soneva, and others have signed on to a new campaign called Whole World Water, whereby each property will filter, bottle, and sell their own water rather than importing. The proceeds go to various clean water programs around the world, yielding an estimated $1 billion-a-year to resolve our global water crisis.

Speaking about what prompted the idea, co-founder Jenifer Willing said, "There are one billion people who live without clean water, and one billion tourists travelling the globe each year." And the idea has (sea) legs: Richard Branson, Edward Norton, Treehugger founder Graham Hill, and Charity: Water president Cristoph Gorder are all pledging support. We couldn’t agree more.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of World Water

EX-PATS: Chocolate Making in Grenada

Would you drop out of an Ivy League university for chocolate? Former University of Pennsylvania undergrad, David "Mott" Green did.

Originally from New York City, Mott left Penn to pursue a more altruistic (and sunny) lifestyle in Hermitage, Grenada. After noticing how exploitive the chocolate industry was on the island, he thought, Why don’t cocoa farmers produce the chocolate themselves? Since then, Mott has spent the last 25 years operating the bean-to-bar Grenada Chocolate Company. His efforts to bring Grenadian citizens back into agriculture have helped create a sustainable alternative to the harsh chocolate industry.

Ditching the classroom to eat, live, and breathe chocolate? Sounds like the sweet life to us!

EX-PATS is the Reserve Channel's YouTube series. To watch full episodes, click here.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Trip Doctor: Are You Right for the World's Greatest Internship?

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When you think of an internship, chances are you imagine a young collegiate making photocopies and going on coffee runs. But what about spending two weeks living large (while getting your hands dirty) at some of Costa Rica's best eco retreats, including Lapa Rios on the Osa Peninsula, the Fica Rosa Coffee Plantation & Inn, or the chic new Kura Design Villas (pictured) on the Costa Ballena?

Cayuga Collection, the company behind eight pioneering eco resorts in Costa Rica and Nicaragua (and 2010 Global Vision Award winner) is accepting applications for what it calls "The Best Internship in the World," open to anybody with extensive travel experience and interest in getting a behind-the-scenes look at how luxury and sustainability can be compatible. According to Cayuga cofounder Hans Pfister, the successful candidate will be "a well traveled person or couple who can put our blend of high end service and responsible tourism to the test." In other words: "age doesn’t matter, attitude does."

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Trip Doctor: World Economic Forum Releases 2013 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index

The World Economic Forum just released its 2013 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index, a report that evaluates 140 destinations across the world based on safety and security, environmental sustainability, and cultural and natural resources, among other "pillars" of tourism.

Among the findings:


° Switzerland is the best overall place in the world for tourism.

° In a further blow to its floundering travel industry, Egypt ranks last for safety and security, behind Yemen (139) and Pakistan (137). Kenya is ranked no. 135. Finland, meanwhile, is the safest place to travel.

° Sweden, Switzerland, and Finland take the top three spots for environmental sustainability. Oil-rich Kuwait comes in last.

° Brazil, Australia, and the United States are the best destinations for natural resources. Sorry, Rihanna, Barbados ranks near the bottom at no. 133 in this category. Haiti brings up the rear.

° Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States are the top five places for cultural resources, edging out contenders France (8), Greece (25) and Italy (7). South Korea (no. 10) is the only other non-European country to break the top ten in this category. (Thank you, PSY?) In last place: Burundi.

The whole list can be found at the World Economic Forum's official website.

Have a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at tripdoctor@aexp.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.

Coming Soon to Guam: Dead Mice From the Sky

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There are two things that Guam is particularly famous—or infamous—for: its residents love of Spam, and the area's snakes. According to some experts, Hawaii—another Spam-lovers paradise—is just one unlucky plane ride away from becoming a den of vipers, too.

Both canned processed meats and snakes arrived in Guam right after World War II, courtesy of the armed forces (the Spam as non-perishable meals; the snakes as stowaways on ships). Since then, Guam’s now-thriving brown tree snake population has been responsible for decimating the local bird population, gnawing on power lines, biting lots of folks, and generally giving Guam a bad name.

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EX-PATS: Surfers Conserving Costa Rica

Surfers will travel far and wide in search of the perfect pipe. For Florida native Louis Wilson in 1974, this meant a two-month drive from Miami to the then-shack village of Tamarindo, Costa Rica.

In this new episode of the Reserve Channel's series, EX-PATS, host Savannah Jane Buffet catches up with Louis on his love for riding waves and protecting the saltwater jungles of Costa Rica. His passion for conservation led him to open up one of the oldest eco-tourism destinations in Central America, Hotel Las Tortugas. Forty years later, Louis and his fellow ex-pat wife, Carrie, are still living la pura vida amongst the leatherback turtles and tiger-herons.

Check out the full episode for more on Louis' quest to conserve Tamarindo.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

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