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NGSS: Core Idea: ESS3.A    

CCSS: Speaking and Listening: 5

TEKS: 6.12E, 7.10A, 8.3B

Wild Vacation Spots

Discover the extreme hotels located in some of Earth’s most awe-inspiring environments

JESPER ANHEDE/©GENBERG ART UW LTD

BENEATH THE WAVES: The Underwater Room offers an up-close look at sea creatures.

ESSENTIAL QUESTION: What characteristics do scientists use to divide up the major ecological areas in the world?

Would you like to have tropical fish peer into your bedroom from the ocean outside your window? Would you climb up a sheer rock face to stay the night suspended from the side of a cliff? Or how about sharing your breakfast with a giraffe? People get to have these amazing experiences when visiting some of the world’s wildest hotels.

These lodgings are designed so guests can take in the nature around them. Each destination is set in a different biome—a community of organisms found in a certain type of environment. Reaching these spots isn’t easy, but adventure-seekers willing to make the treks are rewarded with breathtaking landscapes, astronomical sights, and local wildlife. Would you be bold enough to visit these far-out spots?

Would you like to have tropical fish peer into your bedroom? They can if the ocean is outside your window. Would you stay the night hanging from the side of a cliff? Some people climb up a sheer rock face to do this. Or how about sharing your breakfast with a giraffe? People can have these amazing experiences at some of the world’s wildest hotels.

These hotels are built so guests can take in the nature around them. Each place is set in a different biome. That’s a community of plants and animals found in a certain kind of environment. Reaching these spots isn’t easy, but adventure-seekers are willing to make the trips. Their rewards are breathtaking landscapes, cosmic sights, and local wildlife. Would you be bold enough to visit these far-out spots?

JESPER ANHEDE/©GENBERG ART UW LTD

UNDERWATER LIFE: Sea creatures like this batfish swim past the windows.

UNDER THE SEA
Pemba Island, Tanzania

UNDER THE SEA
Pemba Island, Tanzania

JIM MCMAHON/MAPMAN®

At the Manta Resort, guests can spot barracudas, angelfish, and wriggling octopuses from their bed. The resort is located on Pemba Island, off the eastern coast of Tanzania. But tethered offshore is a special floating suite called the Underwater Room.

During the day, guests who stay in the Underwater Room can dive from a deck into the Indian Ocean’s turquoise water. Later, they head to their bedroom 4 meters (13 feet) beneath the surface. Two big windows offer the perfect view of this coastal ocean biome.

Shoals of reef fish drift by. Octopuses sometimes attach themselves to the glass. And at night, shy creatures like squid come to visit, attracted by underwater lights fitted to each window. Some animals seem as amused by the suite as the guests are, says Matthew Saus, who runs the resort: “Three batfish and a trumpetfish we call Nick are always looking inside.”

At the Manta Resort, guests can spot sea creatures from their bed. Barracudas, angelfish, and wriggling octopuses are among them. The resort is on Pemba Island, off the eastern coast of Tanzania. But a special floating suite is tied offshore. It’s called the Underwater Room.

Guests at the Underwater Room can dive from the upper deck into the Indian Ocean during the day. At night, they head to their bedroom 4 meters (13 feet) under water. Two big windows offer the perfect view of this coastal ocean biome.

Groups of reef fish drift by. Octopuses sometimes stick to the glass. And at night, shy creatures like squid come to visit. Each window has underwater lights that attract them. Matthew Saus runs the resort. He says that some animals seem to like the suite as much as the guests do. “Three batfish and a trumpetfish we call Nick are always looking inside.”

COURTESY OF KUSI SEMINARI/NATURA VIVE

DON’T LOOK DOWN! Guests of the Skylodge sleep on a cliffside at dizzying heights.

CLIFF HANGER
Cuzco, Peru

CLIFF HANGER
Cuzco, Peru

JIM MCMAHON/MAPMAN®

Natura Vive Skylodge is not for the faint of heart. It’s located in the Andes Mountains, high above the farmland of Peru’s Sacred Valley. Guests stay in clear capsules bolted to the side of a steep cliff—400 m (1,300 ft) above the ground.

To reach their rooms, visitors have two choices: They can either clamber up 750 metal rungs attached to the side of the mountain or ride a zip line from a neighboring cliff. Each capsule is made up of floor-to-ceiling transparent panels, giving every room a jaw-dropping view of the valley below. Guests might even spy a rare Andean condor soaring at eye-level just outside their windows. This enormous bird’s wingspan can meaure up to 3 m (10 ft).

Skylodge is situated just a few miles from Peru’s tropical rainforest. As a result, the weather in the area tends to be hot and humid, though temperatures high up on the cliffs are cooler than those in the valley below. During the wet season, from December through March, it rains just about every day. Guests can often watch lightning illuminate the sky as storms roll in. Rain or shine, the view is always amazing, says Skylodge co-owner Natalia Rodriguez.

Natura Vive Skylodge is not for the faint of heart. It’s in the Andes Mountains, high above the farmland of Peru’s Sacred Valley. Clear capsules are bolted to the side of a steep cliff. That’s where guests stay, 400 m (1,300 ft) above the ground.

Visitors have two choices to reach their rooms. They can climb up 750 metal rungs fixed to the side of the mountain, or they can ride a zip line from a nearby cliff. Each capsule is made up of see-through panels from floor to ceiling. This gives every room an amazing view of the valley below. Guests might even spot a rare Andean condor flying at eye-level just outside their windows. The huge birds’ wingspans can measure up to 3 m (10 ft).

Skylodge is built just a few miles from Peru’s tropical rainforest. That means the weather in the area tends to be hot and humid. But high up on the cliffs, it’s cooler than in the valley below. The wet season runs from December through March. Then it rains just about every day. Guests can often watch lightning flash in the sky as storms roll in. The view is always amazing, rain or shine, says Skylodge co-owner Natalia Rodriguez.

KAKSLAUTTANEN ARCTIC RESORT/WWW.KAKSLAUTTANEN.FI (LEFT); RALF FREY/KAKSLAUTTANEN ARCTIC RESORT/WWW.KAKSLAUTTANEN.FI (RIGHT)
  • GLASS HOUSES: Special insulating glass keeps the igloos warm and doesn’t frost—even in frigid temperatures (left).
  • SKY SHOW: Auroras typically form at an altitude of 50 to 300 miles above Earth’s surface (right).

ARCTIC IGLOOS
Saariselkä, Finland

ARCTIC IGLOOS
Saariselkä, Finland

JIM MCMAHON/MAPMAN®

During the fall and winter months, an incredible phenomenon can be seen above the Arctic: bands of green, pink, and purple lights dancing across the night sky. These auroras occur as charged particles from the sun interact with Earth’s atmosphere. To watch this light display outdoors, people would have to brave temperatures that can reach a frigid -40°C (-40°F). Or they can take in the fascinating sight from inside a warm and cozy glass igloo at the Kakslauttanen (kak-SLAUW-tah-nen) Arctic Resort.

The resort is located 241 kilometers (150 miles) north of the Arctic Circle—an imaginary line that circles Earth near its North Pole—in a biome called the taiga. There, conifer trees like pine and spruce endure long, harsh winters and short, cool summers. The secluded spot became the site of a hotel in 1973 when its founder’s car broke down on a remote road in Finland’s far north. Alone in the wilderness, he made camp and fell in love with the area. Since then, his camp has grown to a resort with more than 100 cabins.

“We have guests from absolutely all over the world,” says Kakslauttanen spokesperson Mika Viitanen. Visitors can ride snowmobiles, sled behind huskies, go ice fishing, or spy reindeer. But the most popular activity by far, says Viitanen, is viewing the northern lights from the hotel’s igloos.

An incredible sight appears above the Arctic during fall and winter. Bands of green, pink, and purple lights dance across the night sky. These auroras happen when charged particles from the sun hit Earth’s atmosphere. People can watch this light display outdoors, in temperatures that can drop to -40°C (-40°F). Or they can watch the amazing sight from inside a warm and cozy glass igloo at the Kakslauttanen (kak-SLAUW-tah-nen) Arctic Resort.

The resort is 241 kilometers (150 miles) north of the Arctic Circle. That’s an imaginary line around Earth near its North Pole. The resort is in a biome called the taiga. Conifer trees like pine and spruce grow there. They live through long, harsh winters and short, cool summers. The lonely spot became the site of a hotel in 1973. That’s when its founder’s car broke down on a remote road in Finland’s far north. Alone in the wilderness, he made camp and fell in love with the area. Since then, his camp has grown to a resort with more than 100 cabins.

“We have guests from absolutely all over the world,” says Kakslauttanen spokesperson Mika Viitanen. Visitors can ride snowmobiles or sled behind huskies. They can go ice fishing or spot reindeer. But Viitanen says one activity is the most popular by far. It’s watching the northern lights from the hotel’s igloos.

CATERS NEWS/ZUMA PRESS

BREAKFAST BUDDY: A giraffe joins guests for breakfast at the manor.

BREAKFAST SAFARI
Nairobi, Kenya

BREAKFAST SAFARI
Nairobi, Kenya

JIM MCMAHON/MAPMAN®

Even if you’re not an early riser, you won’t want to sleep in at Giraffe Manor. Every morning, animals called Rothschild’s giraffes stick their long necks inside the windows to eat breakfast with guests. While people enjoy muffins and fruit, the giraffes gobble up food pellets from the same tables.

On the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, 12 Rothschild’s giraffes roam the manor’s 150 acres and surrounding wilderness.

What if you’re not an early riser? You still won’t want to sleep in at Giraffe Manor. Animals called Rothschild’s giraffes hang out there. Every morning, they stick their long necks inside the windows to eat breakfast with guests. People eat muffins and fruit. The giraffes eat food pellets from the same tables.

The manor has 150 acres just outside Nairobi, Kenya. Twelve Rothschild’s giraffes roam the grounds and the wilderness around it.

Since the 1940s, people have destroyed much of the animals’ natural forest and grassland habitats. By the 1970s, only about 100 Rothschild’s giraffes remained in Kenya. The owners of Giraffe Manor wanted to help. They brought a young, wild giraffe to the grounds as part of a breeding program. She thrived, visiting the manor and sticking her head through the windows for treats. Now her descendants keep up the tradition.

“The breeding program has been a huge success,” says Mary Lever-Morrison, the hotel’s manager. The African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, a nonprofit organization operating in partnership with the hotel, has reintroduced dozens of Rothschild’s giraffes to reserves around the country. Kenya now has more than 1,500 of the animals.

People have destroyed much of the animals’ natural forest and grassland habitats since the 1940s. By the 1970s, only about 100 Rothschild’s giraffes were left in Kenya. The owners of Giraffe Manor wanted to help. They brought a young, wild giraffe to the grounds as part of a breeding program. She did well there. She even visited the manor and stuck her head through the windows for treats. Now her descendants do the same.

“The breeding program has been a huge success,” says Mary Lever-Morrison, the hotel’s manager. The African Fund for Endangered Wildlife is a nonprofit organization working with the hotel. The organization has placed dozens of Rothschild’s giraffes in reserves around the country. Now Kenya has more than 1,500 of the animals.

ARIADNE VAN ZANDBERGEN/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

BIG BEASTS: Rothschild’s giraffes can grow to 19 feet tall and weigh 2,500 pounds.

CORE QUESTION: Which hotel in the text would you most like to visit? Describe the climate, landscape, and wildlife you’d encounter there.

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