05/22/2014 12:35 EDT | Updated 05/22/2014 12:59 EDT

NatGeo's Eclectic Summer Travel Ideas That'll Leave Your Friends Jealous


(Relaxnews) - Editors at National Geographic Traveler have come up with a list of eclectic summer travel ideas designed to inspire nature and wildlife lovers as well as revellers on the festival circuit.

On the publication's list of top 10 summer trips, there is no Paris, London or New York. Instead, editors have chosen vacation ideas that span horseback riding in the Andean mountain of Ecuador, midnight sun safaris in the mountains and fjords of Norway to diving trips to the Gulf Shores off the coast of Alabama, where an entire ship was deliberately sunk to create an artificial reef.

Here are a few highlights:

Horseback Riding In The Andean Mountains

Carved in the foothills of the Andean mountains at 9,000 to 11,000 feet (2740 to 3350 meters) above sea level are trails that lead horseback riders along Ecuadorian highlands, valleys, green lakes, ancient pre-Incan earth mounds and waterfalls. At Hacienda Zuleta, guests can choose between three to 10-day riding excursions on Zuleteño horses, a mixture of Spanish-Andalusian, English and Quarter horses.

Whole-Ship Reef Diving In Alabama

Last year, a 271-foot-long (83-meter) freighter was sunk deliberately in Orange Beach off the coast of southern Alabama to create an artificial reef, promote marine life, and enable recreational diving. The LuLu is one of 17,000 artificial reefs in the area, and in just over a year has become a breeding ground for baby scallops, sea urchins, snapper, grouper and clouds of baitfish.

World’s Largest Free Blues Festival

Chicago Blues Festival: June 13-15

For three days next month, more than half a million blues fans are expected to descend on Grant Park for toe-tapping, soul-stirring music characterized by electric guitar, bass, harmonicas and drums. This year’s lineup includes Aaron Neville, Bettye Lavette, Dr. John, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and blues drummer Sam Lay.

Midnight Sun Safari In Norway

During the summer months, northern parts of Norway bask under the glow of the famous midnight sun, which remains suspended above the horizon line 24 hours a day. At a time usually reserved for slumber, guests of Lofoten Adventure head out to the open seas to meet the sun when it’s at its best. Along the way, they’ll likely come across sea eagles and colonies of seal.

For the complete list, visit

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