An island paradise you haven’t seen

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A trip to this long-lost Eden – known for its tropical forests, azure seas, creative cuisine and quirky city – will show you a whole new side of Cuba.

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The downside to retiring in paradise

EN0DGH family enjoying romantic sunset on the beach

You’re tired of winter. But before you move somewhere warm to retire, consider this.

Kathy McCoy and her husband, Bob Stover, retired to Arizona from their home in California six years ago.

It’s not an uncommon move for US retirees, to relocate somewhere calmer and warmer in retirement. But, since they’ve moved, McCoy and Stover discovered a few things they didn’t anticipate. First, their city in Arizona is a “snowbird” destination, meaning that many people spend winters there but live elsewhere during other seasons.

The couple wasn’t prepared for the area’s summer weather.

“About half of our community is only here three to four months a year,” McCoy, 71, said...

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Business trip: New York City

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A view of Manhattan from the Top of the Rock observation deck (Credit: John Moore/Getty)

The city that never sleeps is on a roll, with a record 52 million visitors in 2012 and a total of 100,000 hotel rooms expected by 2014.

When it comes to business travel, New York City is on a roll. In 2012, the city hosted a record 52 million visitors, whose spending produced a whopping $55.3 billion in economic impact.

While most business travellers have likely bedded down at hotels in the popular, central Midtown area, demand has prompted a hotel building boom across all five boroughs, providing a slew of new, upscale options in areas like the Upper West Side (NYLO hotel), Greenwich Village (The Jade Hotel), Brooklyn (Wythe Hotel) and Queens (Z Hotel)...

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Peru’s other lost city

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Larger than Machu Picchu and far less known, Choquequirao still makes you feel as though you’re practically the first to arrive.

The trek to the lost Incan city of Choquequirao is one of the most difficult in Peru. From the town of Cachora, located 161km west of Cusco, it’s an 18km walk to Capuliyoc Mountain, then down to Playa Rosalinas, where travellers camp for the night. Waking early, trekkers then have to cross the Apurímac River and traverse 8km of gruelling uphill switchbacks to reach the campsite close to the ruins. Then, the next morning, it’s another 2km hike up to the ruins themselves, 3,100m above sea level. To get back? Well, it’s the same way you came.

“I’ve had people in their 60s and 70s do it,” said Juan Barrios, a guide from the Adventure Life trekking company...

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‘The ice had a heartbeat’

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A British cyclist, who has been biking the length of six continents for the past five years, tackles a daring – and freezing – route in northern Mongolia.

The most disturbing part of walking over Lake Khövsgöl in northern Mongolia wasn’t the sound of cracking ice. It was the thuds.

The thuds meant that water was on the move, bubbling up through fresh rifts in the metre-thick ice that lay under my boots, three pairs of socks and numb feet.

My hope was to cross the frozen lake by bicycle and camp out on its surface – although the soundtrack was highlighting some icy holes in my plan. This was the latest in a series of two-wheeled adventures, having spent the last five years cycling across six of the Earth’s continents.

Walking on frozen Lake Khövsgöl (Credit: Credit: Stephen Fabes)

Walking on frozen Lake Khövsgöl (Credit: Stephen Fabes)

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A one-way trip lasted seven years

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As many of her friends settled down, Sabrina Iovino opted out of the rat race and began a life of full-time travel.

Surrounded by young, good-looking backpackers in Bangkok, Thailand, I made up my mind: once I got back home to Germany, I was going to quit my job and travel the world.

It was 2007, and I had taken a short trip to the humid nation to take a break from the rat race in Berlin. Almost everyone I met told me the same story: “I’m travelling around the world for a year, and you?” I was embarrassed to say I would go back home in a couple of weeks to my boring nine-to-five life as a graphic designer for a start-up company. My friends were getting married, buying cars and houses and looking down at me, wondering why I didn’t want to pursue the same goals...

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A paradise protected by butterflies

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Turkey’s 86,000sqm Butterfly Valley is home to roughly 100 species of butterflies, creating a protected oasis where time seems to stand still.

Our boat pulled in about two hours before sunset, when the disappearing light was turning the Mediterranean Sea from sapphire to aquamarine and the descending shadows were creeping up the imposing rock walls that isolate Butterfly Valley. The beach was nearly empty and the water was calm enough to skip stones across. As the sun finally lowered itself into the sea, I dove in with it, floating on what looked like liquid sunshine.

Located on Turkey’s famous, 500km Lycian Way and only accessible by water, the 86,000sqm Butterfly Valley is home to roughly 100 species of butterflies, including the endemic orange, black and white Jersey Tiger...

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Five days in Russia’s Ring of Fire

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After being all but off limits, Russia’s strictly protected Kronotsky Zapovednik opens to travellers, revealing 650kg bears and the world’s second-largest gathering of geysers.

We had left the brown bears below us in the Valley of the Geysers, where they ambled among purple orchids, emerald grasses and the second-largest gathering of geysers on Earth.

Now, our small group of trekkers ascended through meadows gilded with golden rhododendron. We drank from snowfield streams. Spectacular volcanoes loomed ahead, part of the great arc of volcanic and seismic activity known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. We were trekking the highlands of Russia’sKronotsky Zapovednik, diadem of the world’s largest system of strictly protected nature reserves.

And I was one of the first foreigners permitte...

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The eerie grave of 200,000 monks

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Adam H Graham takes a spiritual retreat to one of Koya-san’s 54 shukubo: inns where guests are encouraged to meditate, commune and eat vegetarian cuisine with the monks or nuns.

It was dusk when we entered the cemetery. A stone path, faintly lit with lanterns, snaked under the towering hemlock and umbrella pine trees. We cautiously walked down it and plunged into the embrace of a sacred 1,200-year-old forest. Flickers of light bounced off ancient graves, shadows moved through the thick incense-scented woods and faces carved into stone eerily peered at us from the graveyard’s blackest corners. It felt like we were being watched. And perhaps we were. After all, this wasn’t just any cemetery...

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Seven of the world’s riskiest roads

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In many cases, these routes are less travelled for a reason: they feature terrifying drop-offs, unpredictable mudslides and a complete lack of concrete paving. Yet people still go.

As Robert Frost knew well, the road less travelled is often the more interesting choice – at least when it comes to talking about one’s travels. In order to find some routes both less-trodden and worth bragging about, we asked the users at question-and-answer site Quora “What are the world’s most interesting roads?”

While some readers described routes that traverse one of the world’s coldest regions, or tunnels that only measure 4m wide, other respondents took our question to its limit, recommending roads that were not only interesting, but dangerous as well...

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