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Cataclysms, Cliffs, and Canyons

by ExperiencePlus! - Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cataclysms, Cliffs, and Canyons

Most anywhere you travel, you’ll find scenic attractions and interesting landscapes.  But unless you’ve recently taken a geography class, you probably don’t know much about how the stunning landscapes across the world got the way they did.  This month’s three featured tours will have you hiking through some of the most unique topography you’ll ever see.  Some of these “wonders” were formed in a matter of hours, while others slowly materialized over hundreds or thousands of years.  Walk with us and witness the remains of devastating volcanoes, the weather’s slow shaping of stone, and the exceptional products of human ingenuity. 
On our Hiking the Amalfi Coast & Capri tour in Italy, you’ll walk around the summit of Mount Vesuvius, the only volcano on the European mainland that has erupted within the last 100 years.  Then you’ll visit the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the two cities buried by the volcano in 79 AD.  Over the course of just twenty-four hours, the landscapes there were changed forever as molten rock shot miles into the air and pyroclastic surges of lava flowed down Vesuvius, killing everything in their path.  The coastline took on a new shape, and the cities and their people were literally buried, sealed underground for over 1800 years. 
Today the excavated portions of these cities offer the rare opportunity to view the way people lived two thousand years ago.  Pottery, artwork, furniture, and even people were “frozen” in time, perfectly preserved under more than six yards of ash and stone, in some of the most distinctive and detailed ruins in the world.
Farther north in Italy you’ll find equally impressive landscapes on our Hiking Tuscany and the Cinque Terre tour.  In the area’s five coastal villages—Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore— it wasn’t fast and deadly hot magma that shaped the earth, but human resourcefulness.  Early inhabitants dealt with a rugged terrain that had almost no flat space by terracing their fields.  Here you’ll see vineyards like steps, colorful villages that seem to rise vertically up from the sea, and churches perched high on peninsulas.  Climb 33 flights with 377 steps each up to Corniglia, the village which sits 100 meters up on a promontory. See Vernazza suspended on a stately cliff, and enjoy the beach at Monterosso.

Far from the volcanoes and cliffs of Italy, you’ll also find some truly inspiring geological formations in Moab, Utah.  Join our Hike Canyonlands and Arches National Parks tour and everywhere you turn you’ll be impressed with the endless mesas, buttes, arches, and canyons that have been carved out of the land.  Cataclysmic upthrusts and centuries of wind and water erosion have exposed contrasting rock colors, deepened canyons, and formed natural “sculptures” with names like “Balanced Rock” and “Delicate Arch.”  On our tour you’ll stand at the top of the canyons with a lofty view that stretches as far as you can see.  You’ll marvel at the graceful arches bending up from the earth, their bright red sandstone a brilliant contrast to the blue of the vast sky above.  And after hiking through both national parks, you’ll also have the chance to raft or kayak the Colorado River. 

Even if you aren’t a geologist, you’re sure to appreciate the swooping scarlet arches in Utah, the pristine ruins in Pompeii and Herculaneum, or the terraced fields and cliffside villages of the Cinque Terre.  So join one of our walking tours this fall.  Hike through rocks etched out by the patience of wind, rain, and ice.  Imagine the ground beneath you as hot lava long ago.  Slow down on your own two feet, and see the earth up close.

Fall Hiking Tour Departures:







Mt. Vesuvius and the ruins it created.

Ruins at Pompeii.

Preserved paintings.


Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.