Saturday, December 20, 2014


Montenegro – Amazing Tourist Destination 

Montenegro, a country in the Balkans is on the Adriatic Sea, bordering Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina towards the north, Serbia to its northeast, Kosovo to the east and Albania to the south. Towards the west of Montenegro lies the Adriatic Sea.

Due to Yugoslavia’s tragic civil war in 1990, Montenegro’s tourism suffered to a great extent though in recent times tourism in Montenegro has begun to recover along with stabilized situation in the region and is being explored by tourist from across the world.

Montenegro received a high level of tourism in 2007 which reached a pre-war volume resulting in several roads being renovated which reduced the driving time together with many hotels been renovated or constructed. Podgorica is its largest and the capital city while Cetinje is designated as the Prijestonica which means the former Royal Capital City.

This amazing destination was founded as a state in the 15th century and follows the tradition of the Slavic state of Duklja and was able to maintain its independence at the time of the reign of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. Its independence was acknowledged formally at the Congress of Berlin in the year 1878.

Mountainous Landscapes/Historic Monuments …..

It formed the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, after the World War I, while fighting for the Allied powers and later in 1929, became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Later on it also became part of several incarnation of Yugoslavia till it gained its full independence from the federation of Serbia-Montenegro on the referendum of June 2006.

It was the only subsequent republic of the earlier Yugoslavia which rendered its support to Serbia at the time of the wars of the Former Yugoslavia in the year 1990. Montenegro being small with regards to its area, boasts of amazing mountainous landscapes, historic monuments, dramatic coast lines together with beautiful walled towns. It has gorgeous coast like its known neighbour, Croatia and is a good reason for tourist to visit and explore this beautiful destination.

The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of Ostrog is one of the most appealing sites, which is located against a practically vertical background around 15 km from Niksic. It was founded during the 17th century and is one of the most visited pilgrimage destination on the Balkans. It has a magnificent view from the Bjelopavlici plain which is breath-taking.

Middle Income Country 

Montenegro has been classified as a middle income country by World Bank and is a member of the UN, the World Trade Organisation, the Central European Free Trade Agreement, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe and a founding member of the Union for the Mediterranean.

Moreover it is also a candidate for European Union as well as NATO. Aluminium and steel production together with agricultural processing make their contribution to its industrial output while tourism is an important contributor to its economy.

Montenegro had approximately one million tourists in the year 2007 providing tourism revenue of around £480. Tourism is the backbone of its future economic growth with the government expenses on infrastructure improvements are focused on this goal.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Royal Botanic Gardens – Collections of Conserved Plants/Living Plants/Document

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew was founded in 1759 and this historic landscape garden features the significant period of the art of gardens during the 18th to 20th centuries, housing botanic collections of conserved plants, living plants as well as documents, which have been enriched all through the centuries. Since its creation, the gardens have made remarkable significant as well as uninterrupted contribution to the study of plant diversity and economic botany.

It has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. The Kew Gardens is one of main visitor attraction of London while the second garden in West Sussex, is home to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank and its science and conservation work, provide help in discovering as well as describing the world’s plant and fungal diversity in safeguarding the plant life of the world for the future, together with promoting the sustainable use of plants.

The Royal Botanic Garden is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in UK. Being an international important botanical education and research institution, it has 750 staff with its chief executive being the current Director, Richard Deverell while its board of trustees is chaired by Marcus Agius, Barclays PLC’s former chairman.

Home to Internationally Important Millennium Seed Bank 

The botanic gardens at Kew is organised in Richmond upon Thames in southwest London and at Wakehurst Place, which is a National Trust property in Sussex. This is home to internationally important Millennium Seed Bank and the Seedbank is the site of several research project as well as international partnerships with around 80 countries.

The seeds stored at the banks helps in two functions namely, it provides an ex situ conservations resource as well as facilitates research across the globe by posing as a repository for seed scientists. Kew also functions jointly with the Forestry Commission, Bedgebury Pinetum in Kent that specialises in growing of conifers. Kew’s `Old Lions’ are the oldest and the most magnificent trees together with known dates in the Garden that dates back to the year 1762 while the first of the five `Old Lions is the oriental plane – Plactanus orientalis, which stands towards the northern end of the Broad Walk and opposite the Orangery. The others being pagoda tree, maidenhair tree – Ginkgo biloba, black locust – Robinia pseudoacacia, Caucasian elm – Zelkova carpinifolia,

Kew’s Old Lion Trees 

The pagoda tree which is given a tongue twisting scientific name – Styphnolobium japonicum is a native to China inspite of japonicum, indicating that the tree is Japanese which grows off of the Broad Walks’ central path near the Ice House. The maidenhair tree is a male tree with pollen producing catkins and it is the female trees that produce the fruits with their smelling fleshing coatings.

This tree is also the early introduction from China and one of the remaining trees from the first section of the botanic garden which was started in 1759, by George III’s mother, Princess Augusta. The black locust or false acacia was introduced in 1630s to Europe and the tree originally planted in 1762 at Kew is presumed to have come from the Duke of Argylls’ estate in Whitton and seems to be the survivor of other trees that had been brought to Kew from the estate during the 18th century. The Caucasian elm is the last of the three original Zelkovas and grows in the Herbarium paddock and is not in the public area of the gardens.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Killarney National Park

Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park – First National Park in Ireland

Killarney National Park is besides the town of Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland and was the first national park in Ireland which was created when Muckross Estate was donated in 1932, to the Irish state. The park has been expanded, encompassing around 102.89 km of diverse ecology which includes the Lakes of Killarney, yew and oak woodlands and mountain peaks.

The park is of great ecological value due to the quality, diversity and extensiveness of several of its habitats as well as the wide variety of species which they accommodate, some of which are rare. In 1981, the park was designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve and forms a part of a world network of natural areas having conservation, education, research and training as main objectives.

The main focus of the National Park for visitors is Muckross House and Gardens where the house is presented as a late 19th century mansion with all the necessary furnishings, while the artefact of the period is a major attraction managed jointly by the Park Authorities as well as the Trustees of Muckross House.

Close to Killarney Town is the former Kenmare Desmene which is also part of the National Park featuring Killarney House and Gardens and Knockreer House, an education centre of the park.

Nature Conservation – Important Objective

Killarney National Park is one of the few places in Ireland which had been continuously covered by woodland till the end of the most recent glacial period around 10,000 years ago which was inhabited since at least the Bronze Age around 4,000 years ago.

Archaeologists have discovered evidence that copper mining occurred in the Ross Island area during that era which indicates that it was of considerable importance to Bronze Age people. Moreover the park also has several archaeological features which included a well preserved stone circle at Lissivigeen.

At different period of time, the woods in the park had been disturbed and cleared since the Iron Age, causing a gradual decline in diversity of tree species in the park.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service are responsible in the management as well as the administration of the park and nature conservation is the most important objective of the park where the ecosystems in their natural form are highly valued.

Several Features of National & International Importance

The park is also known for the beautiful scenery and provision for tourism amenities and recreation has been taken care of. The National park has several features of national as well international importance with an abundance of evergreen trees and shrubs together with a profusion of bryophytes and lichens that thrive in the mild Killarney atmosphere, besides the woodlands.

The native red deer are unique in Ireland, a presence in the country since the last Ice Age. The most amazing archaeological remains in the park are from the early Christian period and the most important of them is the Inisfallen Abbey, which are the ruins of a monastic settlement on Inisfallen Island in Lough Leane. The same was founded by St. Finian the Leper in the 7th century and was occupied till the 14th century.

The record of the early history of Ireland, the Annals of Inisfallen as it was known by the monks was written in the monastery between the 11th and 13th centuries which was presumed that the monastery had given rise to the name Lough Leane meaning `Lake of Learning’.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon – A Popular Slot Canyon

Antelope Canyon is a popular slot canyon, small but an exquisitely beautiful geological formation in northern Arizona. Placed on the Navajo Reservation, few miles east of Page, it is open to visitors by Navajo led tour only.

There are two antelope canyon actually located on either side of route 98 – Upper Antelope Canyon and the Lower antelope Canyon which are both owned by the Navajo Nation though separate fee of $18 for each person is charged for each area of attraction.

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope canyon is Tse bighanilini meaning `the place where water runs through rocks’, while the Lower canyon is Hazdistazi or `spiral rock arches’. It was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone mainly because of flash flooding and other sub-aerial processes.

 During monsoon season, the rainwater ran into extensive basin above the slot canyon areas with speed and sand as it rushed into the narrow passageways and over a period of time these passageways eroded away ending in making the corridors much deeper, smoothening the hard edges in a way so as to form flowing shapes in the rock.

Flooding still continues in the canyon and the flood which took place in October 30, 2006, lasted for 36 hours, which caused the Tribal Park Authorities to close Lower Antelope Canyon for five months

Ladders & Staircase Lead to Unbelievable Narrow Canyon

Photographers, nature loversas well as a source of tourism business for the Navajo Nation, will find Antelope Canyon an amazing and a popular destination. Since 1987 private tour companies had the permission to offer tours and have only been accessible by tour since 1997 when Navajo Tribe had made it a Navajo Tribal Park.

Due to the wide exposure range, photography within the canyons is not very easy which is due to the light reflecting off the canyons walls. When one approaches the Canyon on foot, it is not noticeable even from a short distance and will only see a small crack in the rock at the bottom of a dry stream bed. On closer inspection, it reveals a small metal ladder descending into the crack which is barely wide enough for a single person to pass through.

A number of ladders and stairs lead you down in an unbelievable narrow canyon. The sandstone bedrock is intricately carved by the infrequent though violent flow of water and is sculptured into beautiful curves and hollows which vary from one to three meters wide up to 50 meters deep.

Explore Through Guided Tours

The sunlight which filters down portrays a myriad of soft colours and shadows, the effect of which is amazing. Antelope Canyon is to be explored through guided tours especially in areas where it rains during monsoon season and the canyon tends to get flooded quickly since the rain falling several miles away upstream of the canyon tends to funnel into them with little prior notice resulting in flash floods which can take the tourist unaware.

The ladder systems have now been bolted in place and cargo nets are installed at the top of the canyon for safety purpose, while at the fee both, NOAA Weather Radio from the National Weather Service together with an alarm horn has been placed. In spite of improvements being done for safety purpose, the risks of injuries prevails from flash floods.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge
The Capilano Suspension Bridge – A Simple Suspension Bridge

The Capilano Suspension Bridge, a simple suspension bridge crosses the Capilano River in the district of North Vancouver, British Columbia, in Canada. It was originally built in 1889 by George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and park commissioner for Vancouver.

 It was an award winning bridge which is one of Greater Vancouver’s top attractions where locals as well as visitors came from all over the world to enjoy the thrill of crossing the 450 ft. swaying bridge which is suspended on 230 ft. above Capilano River.

It was originally made of hemp ropes together with a deck of cedar planks which was replaced with a wire cable bridge in the year 1903. Towards 1910, Edward Mahon purchased the bridge and MacEchran purchased it from Mahon in 1935 inviting local native to place their totem poles in the park and added a native theme and in the year 1945, the bridge was sold to Henri Aubeneau. The bridge was then completely rebuilt in the year 1956.

Offer Spectacular Views

The bridge offers spectacular views below and the old growth forest. It offers visitors a mixture of adventure, culture and history, making it attractive with complete British Columbia experience and the most sought after site for exploration while on a trip to Vancouver.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is located in a West Coast rainforest and as one explores the nature trails in the Park, they will find interpretive information with regards to ecosystem all over the park. All information with regards to trout ponds with majestic evergreens is provided as one strolls through the rainforest and to get to know more one could join some of the complimentary mini guided tours that are offered on hourly basis within the park.

This bridge is part of a private facility with an admission fee, drawing over 800,000 visitors every year. In 1983, the park was sold to Nancy Stibbard, the present owner. Annual attendance seems to have increased and Treetops Adventures were opened in May 2004. The latest attractions comprised of seven footbridges that are suspended between old growth Douglas fir trees towards the west side of the canyon forming a walkway of around 30 metres above the forest floor.

Largest Private Collections of First Nations Totem Poles in North America

Besides the bridge and Treetops Adventure which is the first venue of its kind in North America, the park also has more attractive features like the rain forest eco-tours, award winning gardens, nature trails, largest private collection of First Nations totem poles in North America, period décor and costumes with exhibits highlighting the park’s history as well as the surrounding temperate rain forest.

Visitors also get the opportunity of experiencing a First Nations performance with their traditional Regalia or ceremonial dress, masks, storytelling as well as dancing. Another attraction was added to the park, in 2011 known as CliffWalk where an entrance fee was applicable.

The heart pounding cliff side journey takes the visitors through rainforest vegetation through a series of suspended walkways which juts out from the granite cliff above Capilano River to previously explored parts of the park. It is high and narrow and not meant for the faint hearted.