SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Maria intensified into a dangerous Category 5 storm and pounded the little island of Dominica as it surged into the eastern Caribbean on Monday night, and forecasters warned it might become even stronger.The storm was following a path that could take it on Tuesday near many of the islands already wrecked by Hurricane Irma and then head toward a possible direct strike on Puerto Rico on Wednesday.There were no immediate reports from Dominica after the eye wall moved ashore, but earlier zinc roofs blew off homes as the outer edge of the storm began whipping the island.Dominica authorities had closed schools and government offices and urged people to move from dangerous areas to shelters.“We should treat the approaching hurricane very, very seriously,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit warned. “This much water in Dominica is dangerous.”In August 2015, Tropical Storm Erika unleashed flooding and landslides that killed 31 people and destroyed more than 370 homes on the small, mountainous island.Officials on nearby Guadeloupe said the French island would experience extremely heavy flooding and warned that many communities could be submerged overnight.In Martinique, authorities ordered people to remain indoors and said they should prepare for cuts to power and water. Schools and nonessential public services were closed.With Puerto Rico appearing destined for a hit, officials in the U.S. territory warned residents of wooden or otherwise flimsy homes to find safe shelter.
G Adventures names top 5 destinations for 2016As Australian and New Zealand travellers start looking into what adventures to book for the coming year, the experts at G Adventures, the world’s leading small-group adventure tour operator, have predicted the new hotspots along with new ways to see old favourites.Yurt-making in Kyrgyzstan, relaxing in a floating hammock in northern Brazil, and hiking an ancient pilgrimage trail in Japan are just three experiences for adventure travellers being introduced in 2016.Sri LankaVisitor numbers are increasing for this India Ocean gem, up 17% year-on-year according to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, and G Adventures is expecting its traveller numbers to rise too. It’s launched the Sri Lanka Express, which is full of culture and nature, but can also be combined with a Maldives Dhoni Cruise, for the ultimate twin-centre adventure getaway. Visit a spice plantation and stay in an eco-lodge in the rainforest, and experience a jeep safari in Yala National Park.The ‘Stans – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan Visa restrictions have relaxed in Central Asia recently, so it takes the number one spot for those looking for the most unusual passport stamps. Travellers can learn to build a yurt and sleep in yurts and homestays with local families, supporting community-based tourism along the way. G Adventures have introduced five new trips for 2016 in Central Asia.Northern Brazil This South American superstar will once again be in the international spotlight when it plays host to the 2016 Olympics. This time around, G Adventures is encouraging travellers to head north, staying in a jungle lodge then exploring Chapada Diamantina National Park, a hidden gem with flat top mountains and Brazil’s highest waterfall. If relaxing in a floating hammock over crystal clear, teal-coloured water sounds more attractive, stunning Jericoacoara beach is just the cure. G Adventures is launching two new itineraries in northern Brazil.JapanJapan is more affordable than ever and firmly on the comeback track, hosting both the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympics. In 2016 G Adventures is encouraging travellers to see the parts of Japan most tourists miss, and to see them a different way. With a first-of-its-kind active trip that has travellers hiking along the UNESCO-listed Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route where Kyoto’s ancient emperors once prayed to deities in the trees and rocks. Then cycling across stunning islands following the world’s largest series of suspension bridges, known as the Shimanami Kaido. Finally travellers will kayak around the Bay of Miyajima to see its main attraction, the floating Itsukushima Shrine.Northwest USA This region is experiencing a tourism ‘it’ moment with its combination of hip cities, quirky small towns, and stunning natural parks, which collectively mark their 100th anniversary in 2016. G Adventures new National Parks of the Northwest US trip takes in all of the above. Visiting Wild West mining town Wallace in Idaho, known as the Silver Capital of the World and spending nights camping in Big Sky Country, Montana, and Yellowstone NP, home to the most wild animals in the US. G AdventuresSource = G Adventures