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Image: James Branaman, Tyler Denk
Meagan McLaughlin / CBS via AP
Teammates James Branaman, left, and Tyler Denk, best friends from Los Angeles, sprint to the finish line in Garrison, N.Y., winning the $1 million prize, during the finale of "The Amazing Race 10"
updated 2/22/2007 11:28:38 PM ET 2007-02-23T04:28:38

The all-star edition of “The Amazing Race” started Sunday, featuring some of the most popular teams from seasons past — including frat brothers Kevin and Drew, season seven winners Uchenna and Joyce, and the fabulous gay duo of Danny and Oswald. But while we're thrilled to see some of our favorite teams celebrated as all-stars, we'd also like to take a moment to celebrate the other stars of “The Amazing Race”: the destinations.

From the green hills of Scotland to the golden sands of Namibia, the race has literally taken us around the world and back, showing us some incredible scenery along the way. Out of the dozens of locations where the race has been filmed, we've chosen 10 all-star destinations — one from each season — that stuck out in our minds for their striking landscapes, historical significance or intriguing cultural tasks. Got a location to add? Share it on our message boards!

Season One: Alaska
All-Star Moment: As the penultimate destination in the race's first season, Alaska's snowy landscape was the backdrop for a dramatic dog sledding competition between lawyers Rob and Brennan and married couple Frank and Margarita. And who could forget poor Team Guido, still stranded in the frozen tundra while Rob and Brennan won the million-dollar prize in New York City?

Our Members Say: "My wife and I are both pretty athletic and love the outdoors. We were scheduled to hike Mt. Anderson (6,900 feet) the first day. One small problem — at breakfast, one of the naturalists, through a telescope in the dining room, noticed a grizzly bear on the trail. Regardless, we started up the trail and stopped at a clear spot (about 400 yards from the bear) and noticed that the bear was just hanging out in the same spot eating berries. We ended up going on a different trail (wise choice) — Middle Ridge in an effort to avoid a confrontation." Read more of Alaska - A Very Unique Experience by soxfan

Season Two: Namibia
All-Star Moment: The teams had to navigate themselves through the seemingly endless deserts of Namibia en route to the Matterhorn — not the mountain in Switzerland but rather an enormous sand dune. Once there, the teams climbed to the top, grabbed sandboards and took a wild, head-first ride all the way down.

Our Members Say: "The Namibian Desert has some of the biggest dunes in the world and amazing landscapes. Jeeps can drive you in to see the sights for $10 - $15 per person. But I chose the cheaper (free) option of walking." Read more of Nairobi to Cape Town Overland by Alan

Season Three: Aberdeen Scotland
All-Star Moment: Wacky hijinks ensued when “The Amazing Race” traveled to Scotland and the teams tried their hand at a few traditional Highland games. One member of each team had to successfully complete a caber toss, hammer throw and shot put before racing to the finish line. Their reward for mastering the ways of the Highlanders? An all-expenses-paid stay at Dunottar Castle, the pit stop for this leg of the race.

Our Members Say: "Aberdeen is quite gray — gray stone buildings combined with Scotland's generally gray weather. Even the sand on the beach was grayish. It ain't the Caribbean, but the icy-looking North Sea has its own sort of beauty." Read more of A Year in Scotland by soliteyah

Season Four: Amsterdam, Netherlands
All-Star Moment: Dating virgins Millie and Chuck got spectacularly lost — and did some spectacular bickering — as they tried to guide themselves by boat through Amsterdam's famous canals. While Millie and Chuck eventually won the leg by finding the Fast Forward, the other teams faced perhaps the show's stinkiest Detour option yet: searching a 15-foot pile of cow manure for their next clue.

Our Members Say: "The live-aboard boats along Amsterdam's canals make you want to rent one for your next vacation. When you check out the ads for them, you'll be even more convinced. Many are very luxurious, complete with every convenience. They go for about $1,000 a week. Please don't take the canal boat across from the Rijksmuseum — I want that one!" Read more of Amsterdam — the Best of Europe's Canal Cities by Drumnotes

Season Five: Rotorua, New Zealand
All-Star Moment: Dating couple Colin and Christie thrived on this leg's extreme physical challenges, including an exhilarating whitewater ride on a small board known as a sledge. Colin channeled his inner rodent to try zorbing — rolling down a hill inside a giant plastic ball like a hamster in a wheel. Colin and Christie's mastery of these two quintessential New Zealand adventure sports led them to their sixth first-place finish in 10 legs.

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Our Members Say: "We were then picked up by the Rotorua Economic Development Commissioner and given a tour of the area by helicopter. The delightful sunny day showed off the New Zealand landscape in its best light. We choppered over beautiful lakes and large plantations of radiata pine. Cows and sheep were all over the rolling hills. We also took a swim and visited a hot tub in the geothermal waters of the area." Read more of New Zealand February 2002 by WFDoran

Season Six: Xian, China
All-Star Moment: Xian is well known for its famous terracotta warrior figures, but “Amazing Race” viewers will remember this leg for the drama that took place atop nearby Mount Hua — where a frustrating cultural task involving one key and 3,000 locks led to dating couple Hayden and Aaron's elimination. After a day spent haranguing each other, Aaron shocked viewers by dropping to one knee and asking Hayden to marry him. (She accepted.)

Our Members Say: "Beijing is amazing with the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, the hutongs and huge Peking Duck restaurants. We got up early and went to see Mao's Tomb — a cultural experience worth the wait. The night market is also interesting — do scorpions sting when you eat them? We then went to Xian to see the terracotta warriors. The archeological site is so well done — it is also beyond description." Read more of 20 Days in China by leslie whitehead speranza

Season Seven: Cuzco, Peru
All-Star Moment:
The seventh season of “The Amazing Race” kicked off with two hours of llama-herding, basket-carrying and zip-lining through the mountains of Peru. The leg came to a thrilling conclusion with a footrace through the historic streets of Cuzco in which dating couple Ron and Kelly barely edged out affable best friends Ryan and Chuck.

Our Members Say: "We were still in the Plaza de Armas (the city square) when it began to get dark. The street lights came on and all the second floor restaurants were lit up. It really made the square attractive. We decided to stay in the plaza for dinner, at one of the upstairs balcony restaurants. We decided to splurge, with Alpaca steaks and a bottle of wine. It was well worth the $30 for the meal!" Read more of Three Weeks in Peru by Mike6725

Season Eight: New Orleans, Louisiana
All-Star Moment: The family edition of The Amazing Race visited New Orleans just a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina blew through the area, and in this episode viewers got a chance to see the city — including its legendary French Quarter — as it once was. This episode was dedicated to the people of New Orleans and the surrounding areas devastated by the storm.

Our Members Say: "Yes, the French Quarter and Jackson Square areas are up and running. Yes, our hotel had a convention of about 1,000 people. But on many streets, there were just a handful of tourists. Most shops and restaurants were empty and the French Quarter itself seemed pretty much like a ghost town." Read more of Post-Katrina New Orleans by Francine J.

Season Nine: Sicily, Italy
All-Star Moment: The teams spent two legs racing through the sunny island of Sicily during season nine, stopping in ancient amphitheaters, medieval towns and modern-day markets. Sicily boasted some of the season's prettiest scenery as well as one of its most memorable tasks: a Detour option known as "Big Fish" that led to a tearful meltdown within team "MoJo" (dating couple Monica and Joseph) when Monica couldn't handle carrying a 32-pound swordfish.

Our Members Say: "I have to say that the scenery on this trip was just spectacular and I took more photos than I have ever taken on a trip times two. Besides Palermo, the rest of Sicily was drop dead gorgeous. It was blue sea, brightly colored flowers, white or pastel colors on the homes. Choosing where to shoot was difficult, so you shot everywhere." Read more of Sicily and the Aeolian Islands by LSKahn

Season Ten: Hanoi, Vietnam
All-Star Moment: With a million-dollar prize on the line, it's no surprise that the racers rarely stop to linger and appreciate the places they visit along their journey — no matter how beautiful the destinations may be. But in Hanoi, the racers took a moment to pause and reflect at the infamous "Hanoi Hilton," where John McCain and other American soldiers were held as prisoners during the Vietnam War. Dave (of married couple Dave and Mary) said, "I'm just really honored to be here for my dad."

Our Members Say: "The Hoa Lo Prison Museum is probably the most visited place in all Hanoi by Americans. This is the original site of the famous 'Hanoi Hilton' where the Vietnamese held American POWs, including John McCain. The prison in the 1970's occupied an entire city block. However, 80 percent of the city block has been replaced by a high-rise serviced apartment and office tower which together are referred to the 'Hanoi Towers.'" Read more from member 4Snoopy

The Independent Traveler is an interactive traveler's exchange and comprehensive online travel guide for a community of travelers who enjoy the fun of planning their own trips and the adventure of independent travel. You can access our wealth of travel resources and great bargains here at www.independenttraveler.com, or at www.bargainbox.com.


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