Upon landing in Windhoek on my very first day in Africa, I knew this would be a markedly different type of vacation. After all, it’s not every day that you spy a family of baboons along the road just outside the airport of a capital city or a couple of feral horses galloping through a punishing landscape. Over the next two weeks, surprises and indelible moments unfolded (you will never be unable to forget the frisson you feel the first time you see a 20-foot-tall giraffe pop up from behind a tree just a few feet from your car), and Namibia very quickly started to surpass all my expectations. With a broad range of sites and activities, from lolling about on lazy afternoons on a beach along the Atlantic Ocean to skydiving over the orange dunes of the Namib Desert, this country in southwestern Africa offers plenty of activities for everyone. Read about the top five things to see and do in Namibia >
If you’re planning to visit a fabricated haunted house for Halloween, or to attend a party in a costume that’s anything but frightening, I have an alternative: Go to an authentic ghost town. These abandoned places teem with vacated, decaying buildings and with the spirits of a long-vanished population. You’re unlikely to run into a vampire or a sexy French maid; a rolling tumbleweed is more probable, or the hint of an odd susurration carried on the wind that blows through the silence of these eerie, deserted places. You can find them all over the globe, from Chile to Italy to Japan, and they will give you a thrill, and a chill, like no other locations in the world. Read about the top five ghost towns >
One of my favorite cities in the United States is located smack in the middle of nowhere near the California-Nevada border. It’s not on a main — or even a secondary — road, and its permanent population is zero. You can’t get there by train or bus, direct or connecting flight. No art galleries are open for browsing, no parks for an afternoon stroll will greet you, and you won’t be able to refill your tank because there are no gas stations. You can’t book a room for the night, and forget about grabbing something to eat — restaurants don’t exist.
Why on earth is this seemingly godforsaken place one of my favorites? Because it’s Bodie — the largest, best preserved, and most fascinating ghost town in the country. And exploring an abandoned city that used to have a population of about 10,000 more than satisfies my fascination with ruins: What was this place? How did it come into existence? What happened here? Who lived here? And why did it end? Read more >