world best travel places: November 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Spring In Greece - Kos Island

As soon as you leave a plane you are embraced by mild and warm air. It's not hot like on the mainland, all the island is blown through by the wind. This post won't contain architecture, sights, important historic ruins or excavations. Because it's not the most meaningful here. It's the territory of the nature, mountains and the sea. Emerald water kisses the coastal pebbles, everything around is in bloom, the air has so many smells, hardly caught but so wonderful.

Bruges - the Cemetery of Umbrellas

Bruges originates from the word "Bryggia" that means "Pier". 
It was founded in 852 by count Baldwin The Iron Arm. In present days Bruges is a large tourist destination of Belgium. Cute, hospitable, friendly Bruges. A lot of shops where famous Belgian chocolate may be bought.
It's pleasant just to walk along its streets without any map. And it's diffucult to lose your way here because the old center is not big and surrounded by a canal.
Besides, hiring a bicycle is a great idea, cyclists have many rights and cars always give way to them. Don't forget your camera - something interesting can be seen at each corner.
But this post is mostly about sad umbrellas of Belgians. Why? When it starts raining here, the wind is very strong and many umbrellas break. Belgians throw them away and buy new ones. That's why in rainy days Bruges is such a cemetery of umbrellas...
Most of all thrown out umbrellas at the stores where they are sold.
Some of them have just been bought...
Even if an only spoke is broken an umbrella is not needed anymore...

Cascais - "Little Stone" of Portugal

Cascais is a wonderful city of Portugal located 30 minutes driving from Lisbon. So you may get there by taxi only for 20 euros. As it is one of the main resorts of the sunny coast (Portuguese Riviera), you may bathe there, the city has all resort attributes: beaches (windsurfing), restaurants, clubs, the embankment at the foot of the citadel, churches, chapels. But probably the main thing located there is a wonderful museum of an artist Paula Rego.
By the way, the name "Cascais" is originated from the word "cascale" - "little stone".

Berlin.1:1000 And 1:500 Scale

In the next building of the museum of history and culture of Berlin (Märkisches Museum) there is an interesting place where one can see "The city model of Berlin". Admission free.

Interactive Museum In Hong Kong

Hong Kong scientific museum is widely popular due to numerous interactive show-pieces.
The energetic machine is installed on the first floor of the museum and consists of interwoven reinforcing tubes and bronze cylinders. When the machine is set into action one gets easily fascinated by endless movement of balls.
Illusions in the world of mirrors.
It is allowed to touch the show-pieces which can be used while teaching schoolchildren physics.
Distorting mirrors.
Take a picture of your reflection in the mirror.
Exhibition called "Marvellous Inventions of Leonardo da Vinci" was held from October to February and included 5 conditional areas such as "War", "Hydraulics", "Flight", "Studio of Leonardo" and "Mechanics".
General view of the "War" area.
How diving started up.
Inner construction.
Pictures in the "Studio of Leonardo". Find the difference between two similar pictures of Mona Lisa.
General view.
The earliest bicycle was invented by Leonardo.
Flying butterflies on the screen.

Abandoned Amusement Park In Berlin

In Berlin there is an abandoned amusement park, once the pride of the German Democratic Republic and the favourite place for the citizens to rest. But how does it look today? Let us see.

Hua Shan Mountain - the Holy Top of Taoism

Hua Shan Mountain, Shaanxi Province, China. One of the five holy mountains of Taoism in China, located in the range of Qin Ling. It is famous for picturesque rocks and a difficult and dangerous ascent on the top. The path in the mountains connects many tops till the highest one of 2100m, it's a unique route. On the way there are a lot of Taoist monasteries, pagodas, temples, gates and bridges. In China they say: "If you have visited the five holy mountains of China, you may not go to the others, but if you have visited Hua Shan, even those four are not necessary". The Hua Mountains used to be called Si Yue - "Western Mountains". The name "Hua Shan" - "Blossoming Mountan" they got due to the resemblance of five peaks of theirs: the Eastern, Western, Southern, Northern and Central - with a lotus flower.
The Hua Shan Mountains are closely connected with Taoism and are mentioned in its early texts as one of the places suitable for Taoist religious practices and alchemy lessons. They say that Lao Zi himself lived here. The most part of the constructions were built here in the period of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Up to date the well preserved are Yuquan (the XI century), Dongdao temple (1714) and Zhenyue palace of the Yuan dynasty. In December 1990 UNESCO included Hua Shan in the list of the objects of the world nature heritage. Now this place is rather popular among tourists. You may climb the mountain either on foot or by funicular. 5 hours up along the path from the town of the same name. Traditionally pilgrims have climbed only along the path and slept under one of the mountains to go around all five peaks the next morning.
Strange combination indeed: cucumbers and soda water.
The rocks with lots of small temples, caves, stairs...
On the top at last.
Very narrow stairs
It's really the place of calmness - all temples, caves, stairs are in full harmony with the landscape.

Stickers of Berlin

Stickers are like memories of childhood, bright and meaningful, we all loved them being kids. Growing up we still love them, but begin to stick them on our suitcases, for example. But Berlin is a place where they are stuck right in the streets, here and there.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A beautiful sunset

The complementary affect of the blue sky is the red sunset or sunrise. At sunset the light from the sun reaching the observer has traveled through the most atmosphere possible and has had most of the blue component of the white light scattered resulting in predominately red light reaching the observer or illuminating clouds that the observer can see. The light at sunset is more likely to be red than sunrise because the turbulence in the atmosphere during the day can mix more particles into the atmosphere which enhance the scattering.

Bali Four Seasons Resort

Have you ever imagine a magnificent hotel in the middle of the jungle? Well, there is one now! One of the world’s famous chains of hotels- The Four Seasons, has now its resort in Bali, in real jungle! One night in this wonder-like hotel will cost you only 750 US dollars! And for that (rich people will say pocket-money:)) money, you can enjoy in rooms with jungle-view, instead of a sea-view, and you will find that that’s more interesting thing to see in the morning when you walk to your balcony, awaken by the sounds of the jungle. Also, the hotel is designed like a wellness and spa center, so you can really relax at one of the many swimming pools, hot tubes in the open space, and even a beautiful little lake. Terraces are designed like one of the seven world’s wonders- the Hanging Gardens of Babylon? The interior design is modern, but has a little bit taste of Asia with its wooden built, light colors and even little sculptures from religions of Asia. Every room is very wide and spacious and has a lot of light, which also contributes to your relaxation. This paradise on Earth is truly a must-see place for everybody who can afford to come here.

Berlin Flower Fairytale

Berlin may be explored again and again, it always has something to impress. Just amazing how many hidden places it has that ordinary tourists will hardly go to.
Today it's 'Britzen Garten' - the park that turns into a real fairytale in April. In the landscape park occupying the territory of 90 hectares, you will find a picturesque lake, lawns for active and passive rest, playgrounds, various animals, lots of tulips and even the biggest in Europe sundial.

Yes, and we didn't mention that in Britzer Garten there are a rosarium and a rhododendron grove. The park itself is located near Neukölln. In 2002 it was included in TOP-10 the most beautiful parks of Germany.

Spellbound Forest: Turkey Like You've Never Seen It Before - Part II

Once you were already amazed how charming may be the forest of Turkey. It's time to continue...
The wonderful forest in the mountains, the pleasure for your eyes.
The sun rays change the pictures so much!
Unusual hoarfrost, long, needle-like, crystals...
Some minutes before the sunset, yellow-orange gamma of the falling sun is strengthened by the color of the last year's red needles a bit strewed with snow. 
Ski resort Uludag

Luxurious Royal Mews

The Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace still serve the Queen and other members of the Royal Family, providing them with horses and parade transport for various solemn occasions such as coronation, state visits and weddings. Ironically, you will hardly see any horses there. The open to the public part of the mews more resembles of a museum of coaches than a stable.

Alpian Paradise

Moving from Milan to Munich you may see all the splendour of the Swiss Alps. Enjoy!

Turkey At A Glance

Turkey is a wonderful place for tourists. Today we'll have a quick glance over some Turkish cities to prove this.
Harran is a district in the southeast of Turkey near the Syrian border.
Kids are hurrying to school. The school has only 2 or 3 stores and is overcrowded. That's why children have different timetables and lessons start at different time.
Traditional houses of Harran are used for living. They also contain souvenir shops and small cafes.

The Way To The Holy Complex of Ariza

Approximately 20 km from Beirut, in the mountains, there is a city called Ariza - an important place for pilgrims that like a complex located there. It's fascinating to get to the complex by cableway from Jounieh - it takes 10 minutes and about 7 US dollars (there and back).

Windmills As Symbols Of The Netherlands

One of the main symbols of the Netherlands is windmills, no doubt. They can be easily met behind road turns or hill slopes ( that are rather rare objects in the plane Netherlands) one by one or by whole groups. Kinderdijk with its comparatively small territory has 19 windmills of the 18th century. May be that is why guys from the UNESCO included this ensemble into their list in 1997.
The village Kinderdijk is located in the province Southern Holland in the confluence of the Nord and Lek rivers.

Nature in all shapes

Collection of beautiful pictures of Mother Nature,Enjoy..“SAVE MOTHER NATURE!!!” She is beautiful.

Easter Islands

Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeastern most point of the Polynesian triangle. The island is a special territory of Chile. Easter Island is famous for its monumental statues, called moai created by the Rapa Nui people. It is a world heritage site with much of the island protected within the Rapa Nui National Park.

The name “Easter Island” was given by the island’s first recorded European visitor, the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, who encountered it on Easter Sunday 1722, while searching for Davis or David’s island. The island’s official Spanish name, Isla de Pascua, is Spanish for “Easter Island”.
The current Polynesian name of the island, “Rapa Nui” or “Big Rapa”, was coined by labor immigrants from Rapa in the Bass Islands, who likened it to their home island in the aftermath of the Peruvian slave deportations in the 1870s. However, Thor Heyerdahl has claimed that the naming would have been the opposite, Rapa being the original name of Easter Island, and Rapa Iti was named by its refugees.
There are several hypotheses about the “original” Polynesian name for Easter Island, including Te pito o te henua, or “The Navel of the World” due to its isolation. Legends claim that the island was first named as Te pito o te kainga a Hau Maka, or the “Little piece of land of Hau Maka”. Another name, Mata-ki-Te-rangi, means “Eyes that talk to the sky.”
Easter Island is a volcanic high island, consisting mainly of three extinct volcanoes: Terevaka forms the bulk of the island. Two other volcanoes, Poike and Rano Kau, form the eastern and southern headlands and give the island its approximately triangular shape. There are numerous lesser cones and other volcanic features, including the crater Rano Raraku, the cinder cone Puna Pau and many volcanic caves including lava tubes. Poike used to be an island until volcanic material from Terevaka united it to Easter Island. The island is dominated by hawaiite and basalt flows which are rich in iron and shows affinity with igneous rocks found in Galapagos Islands.
Easter Island and surrounding islets such as Motu Nui, Motu Iti are the summit of a large volcanic mountain which rises over two thousand metres from the sea bed. It is part of the Sala y Gómez Ridge, a mountain range with dozens of seamounts starting with Pukao and then Moai, two seamounts to the west of Easter Island, and extending 2,700 km (1,700 mi) east to the Nazca Seamount.
Pukao, Moai and Easter Island were formed in the last 750,000 years, with the most recent eruption a little over a hundred thousand years ago. They are the youngest mountains of the Sala y Gómez Ridge, which has been formed by the Nazca Plate floating over the Easter hotspot. Only at Easter Island, its surrounding islets and Sala y Gómez does the Sala y Gómez Ridge form dry land.
In the first half of the 20th century, steam came out of the Rano Kau crater wall. This was photographed by the island’s manager, Mr Edmunds.
Trees are sparse on modern Easter Island, rarely forming small groves. The island once had a forest of palms, and it has been argued that native Easter Islanders deforested the island in the process of erecting their statues. Experimental archaeology has demonstrated that some statues certainly could have been placed on “Y” shaped wooden frames called miro manga erua and then pulled to their final destinations on ceremonial sites. Other theories involve the use of “ladders” (parallel wooden rails) over which the statues could have been dragged. Rapanui traditions metaphorically refer to spiritual power (mana) as the means by which the moai were “walked” from the quarry. But, given the island’s southern latitude, the climatic effects of the Little Ice Age may have contributed to deforestation and other changes, though such speculation is unproven.
Jared Diamond dismisses past climate change as a dominant factor on the Island’s deforestation in his book Collapse which presents an extensive look into the collapse of the ancient Easter Islanders. Diamond argues that the disappearance of the island’s trees seems to coincide with a decline of its civilization around the 17th and 18th century. Midden contents show a sudden drop in quantities of fish and bird bones as the islanders lost the means to construct fishing vessels and the birds lost their nesting sites. Soil erosion due to lack of trees is apparent in some places. Sediment samples document that up to half of the native plants had become extinct and that the vegetation of the island was drastically altered. Chickens and rats became leading items of diet and there are contested hints that cannibalism occurred, based on human remains associated with cooking sites, especially in caves.
The large stone statues, or moai, for which Easter Island is world-famous, were carved during a relatively short and intense burst of creative and productive megalithic activity. A total of 887 monolithic stone statues have been inventoried on the island and in museum collections. Although often identified as “Easter Island heads”, the statues are actually complete torsos, the figures kneeling on bent knees with their hands over their stomach. Some upright moai have become buried up to their necks by shifting soils.
The period when the statues were produced remains disputed, with estimates ranging from 400 CE to 1500–1700 CE. Almost all (95%) moais were carved out of distinctive, compressed, easily worked volcanic ash or tuff found at a single site inside the extinct volcano Rano Raraku. The native islanders who carved them used only stone hand chisels, mainly basalt toki, which still lie in place all over the quarry. The stone chisels were re-sharpened by chipping off a new edge when dulled. The volcanic stone the moai were carved from was first wetted to soften it before sculpting began, then again periodically during the process. While many teams worked on different statues at the same time, a single moai would take a team of five or six men approximately one year to complete. Each statue represents a deceased long-ear chief or important person, their body interred within the ahu, or coastal platforms, the moai stand upon.

Beautiful landscapes of Canada

Canada is located in North America and stretches all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific, being made up of ten Provinces and three Territories. To the North is the Artic ocean; Davis Strait on the North East separates it from Greenland, to the East is the Atlantic Ocean; the South is bordered by the United States of America and the West by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska.
A country of outstanding natural beauty, Canada has a wide variety of landscapes; the mountains, the prairies, lakes and rivers with many national and provincial parks to protect the habitats. With a total land mass of 9,984,670 sq km (3,855,103 sq mi), Canada is the second largest country in the world. There are more lakes and inland waters in Canada than any other country, in fact 7.6% or 755,180 sq km (291,577 sq) is made up of fresh water.
Most images of Canada refer to the Mounties, bears, snow or the Rocky Mountains with the amazing turquoise lakes though there is truly more to this vast landscape. Tourism is a large part of the economy with the abundant natural resources quickly turning Canada into a rich and vibrant country that is a permanent listing at the top of the best places to live. With distinct seasons – the winters are cold with plentiful snow and then warm summers, the best way to survive is to make the most of natures offerings
Skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling are popular pastimes and great exercise and fun. In the summer, hiking, camping and exploring the great outdoors are fantastic ways to spend your free time. This is especially true when you are amongst the most breathtaking and fabulous scenery the world has to offer!

Spectacular views of coast

This post contain 28 photos of some amazing views of coast and nature that you ever seen. Take a few moments end enjoy in them….


The main agents responsible for deposition and erosion along coastlines are waves, tides and rivers. The formation of coasts is also heavily influenced by their lithology. The harder the material the less likely it is to erode. Variants in the rock create different-shaped coastlines.

Tides often determine the range over which sediment is deposited or eroded. Areas with high tidal ranges allow waves to reach farther up the shore, and areas with lower tidal ranges produce deposition at a smaller elevation interval. The tidal range is influenced by the size and shape of the coastline. Tides do not typically cause erosion by themselves; however, tidal bores can erode as the waves surge up river estuaries from the ocean.

Waves erode coastline as they break on shore releasing their energy; the larger the wave the more energy it releases and the more sediment it moves. Coastlines with longer shores have more room for the waves to disperse their energy, while coasts with cliffs and short shore faces give little room for the wave energy to be dispersed. In these areas the wave energy breaking against the cliffs is higher, and air and water are compressed into cracks in the rock, forcing the rock apart, breaking it down. Sediment deposited by waves comes from eroded cliff faces and is moved along the coastline by the waves.

Sediment deposited by rivers is the dominant influence on the amount of sediment located on a coastline.Today riverine deposition at the coast is often blocked by dams and other human regulatory devices, which remove the sediment from the stream by causing it to be deposited inland.

An emergent coastline is a coastline which has experienced a fall in sea level, because of either a global sea level change, or local uplift. Emergent coastlines are identifiable by the coastal landforms, which are above the high tide mark, such as raised beaches. Alternatively, a submergent coastline is a coastline which has experienced a rise in sea level, due to a global sea level change, local subsidence, or isostatic rebound. Submergent coastlines are identifiable by their submerged, or “drowned” landforms, such as rias (drowned valleys) and fjords.

A concordant coastline is a coastline where bands of different rock types run parallel to the shore. These rock types are usually of alternating resistance, so the coastline forms distinctive landforms, such as coves. A discordant coastline is a type of coastline formed when rock types of alternating resistance run perpendicular to the shore.
Discordant coastlines feature distinctive landforms because the rocks are eroded by ocean waves. The less resistant rocks erode faster, creating inlets or bays; the more resistant rocks erode more slowly, remaining as headlands or outcroppings.

Lakes around the world

Maligne Lake is a lake in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. It is located 44 km (27 mi) south of Jasper town site, accessible by motor vehicle. Boat trips run to Spirit Island, one of the most popular sights of Jasper National Park. The 44 km Skyline Trail, Jasper’s most popular, highest and above treeline, multi-day hike, begins at Maligne Lake and finishes near the town of Jasper.

Maligne Lake is approximately 22.5 km (14 mi) long and is 97 m (318 ft) at its deepest point. It averages 35 m (115 ft) in depth. It sits at approximately 1,670 m (5,479 ft) asl. It boasts a resident self sustaining population of rainbow trout and brook trout.
Maligne Lake is fed and drained by the Maligne River, which enters the lake on its south side, near Mount Unwin. The Maligne River drains the lake from its northern end. Maligne Lake, as well as Maligne River, Maligne Mountain, and Maligne Pass, takes its name from the French word for malignant or wicked. It is theorised that an early French voyageur created this name in reference to the current of the Maligne River near its confluence with the Athabasca River.

Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains of the United States. It is located along the border between California and Nevada, west of Carson City, Nevada. Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America. Its depth is 1,645 ft (501 m) making it America’s second-deepest, (Crater Lake, in Oregon, being the deepest at 1945 feet (594 m) deep).
The lake was formed about 2 million years ago and is a part of the Lake Tahoe Basin with the modern lake being shaped during the Ice Ages. It is known for the clarity of its water and the panorama of surrounding mountains on all sides. The area surrounding the lake is also referred to as Lake Tahoe, or simply Tahoe.

The word “Denali” means “the great one” in the native Athabaskan language and refers to the mountain itself. The mountain was named after president William McKinley of Ohio in 1897 by local prospector William A. Dickey, although McKinley had no connection with the region.
Charles Alexander Sheldon took an interest in the Dall sheep native to the region, and became concerned that human encroachment might threaten the species. After his 1907-1908 visit, he petitioned the people of Alaska and Congress to create a preserve for the sheep. (His account of the visit was published posthumously as The Wilderness of Denali, ISBN 1-56833-152-5). The park was established as Mount McKinley National Park on February 26, 1917. However, only a portion of Mount McKinley (not even including the summit) was within the original park boundary. The park was designated an international biosphere reserve in 1976. A separate Denali National Monument was proclaimed by Jimmy Carter on December 1, 1978.
Lake Crescent’ is a 12 mile long body of water 17 miles west of Port Angeles, Wa on Hwy 101. It is a popular recreational area withinOlympic National Park and is home to a number of trails, including the Spruce Railroad, Pyramid Peak (Washington), and the Barnes Creek trail leading up to the beautiful Marymere Falls. The Spruce Railroad Trail follows the grade of what was once the tracks of a logging railroad. Following this trail on the North side of the lake, one can find the entrance to an old railroad tunnel as well as a popular swimming and diving area known as The Devils Punch Bowl.

yramid Lake is kidney-shaped lake in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. It lies at the foot of Pyramid Mountain, a natural landmark that overlooks the town of Jasper.
Pyramid Lake has a total area of 1.2 km2 (0.5 sq mi) and discharges in Athabasca River through the 2 km (1 mi) long Pyramid Creek.
Several picnic sites are established on the shores of the lake, as well as boat ramps. Hotel accommodations are also available on the lake. Pyramid Lake is connected by hiking trails to the town of Jasper, and other touristic sites such as Pyramid Mountain, Patricia Lake and Cabin Lake.
Mono Lake is believed to have formed at least 760,000 years ago, dating back to the Long Valley eruption. Sediments located below the ash layer hint that Mono Lake could be a remnant of a larger and older lake that once covered a large part of Nevada and Utah, making it among the oldest lakes in North America. At its height during the last ice age, the lake may have been 900 feet (270 m) deep; prominent old shore lines, called strandlines by geologists, can be seen above Lee Vining (near the white “LV”) and along volcanic hills northeast of the current lake.
It is the terminal lake in a watershed fed by melting runoff, with no outlet to the ocean. Dissolved salts in the runoff thus remain in the lake and raise the water’s pH levels and salt concentration.
The lake is in a geologically active area at the north end of the Mono-Inyo Craters volcanic chain and is close to Long Valley Caldera. Geological activity is caused by faulting at the base of the Sierra Nevada, and is associated with the crustal stretching of the Basin and Range Province.
Volcanic activity continues in the Mono Lake vicinity: the most recent eruption occurred 350 years ago at Paoha Island in Mono Lake. Panum Crater (on the south shore of the lake) is an excellent example of a combined rhyolite dome and cinder cone.
The Vermilion Lakes are a series of lakes located immediately west of Banff, Alberta, in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
The three lakes are formed in the Bow River valley, in the Banff National Park, at the foot of Mount Norquay. They are located between the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks. A hot spring is found at the third lake.

St. Mary Lake is the second largest lake in Glacier National Park, Montana, created by a widening of the St. Mary River.
Located on the east side of the park, the Going-to-the-Sun Road parallels the lake along its north shore. At an altitude of 4,484 feet (1,367 m), St. Mary Lake’s waters are colder and lie almost 1,500 feet (460 m) higher in altitude than Lake McDonald, the largest lake in the park, which is located on the west side of the Continental Divide. Here, the great plains end and the Rocky Mountains begin in an abrupt five thousand foot (1,500 m) altitude change, with Little Chief Mountain posing a formidable southern flank above the west end of the lake. St. Mary lake has a surface area of 3,923 acres (15.88 km2).
The lake is 9.9 miles (15.9 km) long and three hundred feet (100 m) deep. The waters of the lake rarely rise above 50 °F (10 °C) and is home to various species of trout. During the winter, the lake often is frozen completely over with ice up to four feet (1 m) thick.

10 Most Scenic National Parks in the United States

From deep canyons and vast deserts to crystal exotic bays and dazzling glaciers, North America’s National Parks feature world’s most scenic natural beauties. The U.S. is home to almost 400 natural parks that preserve our planet’s most exceptional and diverse formations and sites. In this beauty contest of 10 most scenic national parks the winners do not differ much from the defeated.

10. Death Valley, California, Nevada.

Death Valley National Park is the hottest and the driest spot in the United States. It is a place where the record-breaking temperature of 134 °F (56.7 °C) hit on 10 July 1913. It was the hottest day ever reported in the country. Moreover, it is also the lowest place in North America – 282 feet (86 m) below sea level (at Badwater).
Rock formations, salt pans, desert and “skeletonized” ranges (mountains with very little soil on them) are the main features of the park’s dramatic landscape.

9. Kenai Fjords National Park. Alaska.

Kenai Fjord National Park is the smallest national park in Alaska covering an area of 2,833 square kilometers, but it is home to one of the largest ice fields in the United States – Harding Icefield. The park’s beauty consists in a vibrant blend of glaciers, bays and coves, fjords, and abundant marine wildlife. The park is home to such animals as black bears, moose, humpback and orca whales as well as northern sea lions and sea otters.

8. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Hawaii.

Key personalities of the stunning landscape of Hawai?i Volcanoes National Park are Kilauea and Mauna Loa, the world’s most active volcanoes. Mauna Loa (Long Mountain) is the largest shield volcano – 18,000 cubic miles (75,000 km3) – in terms of area covered on Earth. It measures 13,679 feet (4,169 m), while Kilauea is four times smaller and it has precisely 4,091 ft (1,247 m).
A blend of lava remnants, volcanic ash, black sand mixed with tropical lush rain forest and exotic beaches are the park’s main characteristics.

7. Arches National Park. Utah.

The uniqueness of the Arches National Park’s landscape is undeniable. The park is home to around 2,000 natural sandstone arches that form amazing rock sculptures of many different shapes and sizes. It is the largest concentration on natural arches in the United States.
Among highlights of the park is Balanced Rock – the big rock on top is the size of three school buses!
The best time to visit the Arches is spring, when the temperatures are moderate and the wildflowers cover the landscape.

6. Virgin Islands National Park. St. John.

Virgin Islands National Park, a little paradise on Earth, is almost completely surrounded by the turquoise waters of the ocean and amazing coral reefs. The park has 14,689 acres (59 sq km) and it takes up around 60% of the Saint John island.
The white sand beaches, crystal waters and exotic plants make the park an excellent destination for hiking, diving, snorkelling, or just strolling around and relaxing.
The park also features ruins of sugar plantations that emerged on the island in mid-18th century.

5. Denali National Park. Alaska.

Magnificent summit of Mount McKinley towering above the landscape is a landmark of the Denali National Park, Alaska. McKinley or Denali, which means “the great one” in the Athabaskan language, the highest mountain in the North America, is only one of many features that give the park its scenic beauty.
Denali Park is wild, dramatic, and vast. It is home to grizzly and black bears, moose, gray wolfs, foxes and lynx. Savage tundra covered with ferns, grasses and mosses stretches through the park. Only 300 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the park’s ecosystem is sub-arctic, with cold winters, so the best time to go is summer, when the days are long and temperatures are warmer.

4. Yosemite National Park. California.

There must be a reason why over 3.5 million people a year visit the Yosemite National Park. It is the grandeur of the park that attracts crowds, tempting visitors with its spectacular cliffs and rocks, waterfalls, mountain streams, clear lakes, sequoia and oak groves and abundant wildlife.
The park that was inscribed on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 contains five vegetation zones that are home to rare plants and diverse fauna: the black bear, mule deer, bobcats, marmots and chipmunks.
The park is an all-year destination, but to avoid crowds it is better not to go during weekends and public holidays.

3. Zion National Park. Utah

The promenade of reddish and white colors captured in Navajo Sandstone formation constitutes the beauty of the Zion National Park, the first national park established in Utah (1909). Navajo’s rocks form the Zion Canyon, the main feature of the park. The canyon is 15 miles (24km) long and it can be viewed from the bottom (in contrast to Grand Canyon). Crystal streams, amazing rock formations and diverse plants can be seen along a 6 mile long road that leads into the canyon.
The Zion is home to a broad collection of plants, birds (289 species), mammals (such as the mule deer and mountain lions) as well as reptiles.
It is also an all-year destination, but spring and fall is perfect for hiking and strolling around.

2. Yellowstone National Park. Wyoming. Montana. Idaho

People have been fascinated by the exceptional beauty and unique natural phenomena of Yellowstone National Park for centuries. In 1872 it became the world’s first national park, and since then it has been attracting thousands of visitors each year (which strongly worries environmentalists).
Among distinctive features of the park are hot springs and around 300 geysers. The park houses the world’s largest active geyser – Steamboat Geyser that is able to throw water more than 300 feet (90 m) into the air.
What’s more, Yellowstone Park is a land of mountains ranges, lakes, waterfalls, deep canyons, wild forests and abundant wildlife. Among most prominent representatives of the park’s fauna are the endangered gray wolf, lynx, and grizzly bears as well as the bison, elk, moose, mule deer and many many others.

1. Glacier National Park. Montana.

Glacier National Park is often called the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem” or “Backbone of the World”. It is an intact land of lakes and mountains where hundreds of plants and animal species have their kingdom.
In 1932 Glacier Park and the neighboring Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada were declared the first International Peace Park. The parks cooperate in research and wildlife management.
The park has several hundred lakes, of which only 131 have been named, and two hundred waterfalls. The site is covered with 1,132 plant species from amazing trees to wildflowers. The park is also home to the grizzly bear and the Canadian lynx – the world’s threatened species.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu was actually the unintentional consequence of the search for Vilcabamba – a town established by the rebellious Inca Manco Capac II after Peru was invaded by the Spanish. From this town, the remaining Incas would attack the Spanish settlers in Cusco for the following 36 years. But in 1572, the Spanish invaded the troublesome settlement, and executed Manco Capac’s successor ending the Incan dynasty. The location of this legendary settlement was forgotten – living on only in a few vague maps and clues left by future generations. Machu Picchu is 80 kilometers northwest of Cusco, on the crest of the mountain Machu Picchu, located about 2,350 meters above sea level. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in South America and the most visited tourist attraction in Peru.
It is above Urubamba Valley. From atop the cliff of Machu Picchu, there is a vertical rock face of 600 meters rising from the Urubamba River at the foot of the cliff. The location of the city was a military secret, and its deep precipices and mountains provide excellent natural defenses. The Inca Bridge, an Inca rope bridge, across the Urubamba River in the Pongo de Mainique, provided a secret entrance for the Inca army. Another Inca bridge to the west of Machu Picchu, the tree-trunk bridge, at a location where a gap occurs in the cliff that measures 6 metres , could be bridged by two tree trunks. If the trees were removed, it would leave a 570 metres fall to the base of the cliffs, also discouraging invaders.
The city sits in a saddle between two mountains, with a commanding view down two valleys and a nearly impassable mountain at its back. It has a water supply from springs that cannot be blocked easily, and enough land to grow food for about four times as many people as ever lived there. The hillsides leading to it have been terraced, not only to provide more farmland to grow crops, but to steepen the slopes which invaders would have to ascend. There are two high-altitude routes from Machu Picchu across the mountains back to Cusco, one through the sun gate, and the other across the Inca bridge. Both easily could be blocked if invaders should approach along them. Regardless of its original purpose, it is strategically located and readily defended.
In 1909, 337 years after the last of the Incas was killed, Doctor Hiram Bingham from Yale University visited Peru and became fascinated by the legendary settlement and vowed to return in search of it. In 1911, he returned with seven others sponsored by Yale University and the National Geographic Society. In July, Bingham and his team set off on their explorative Inca trail trek and very quickly stumbled upon a settlement that they christened Patallacta (and sometimes called Llactapata).
A week into the expedition, Bingham and his team camped at Mandorpampa (now Aguas Calientes) and spoke to the owner of a local hacienda, Melchor Artega. He told the group of some fine ruins up in the mountains, and agreed to accompany Bingham the next day. When Artega and Bingham reached the top of the mountain (the others passed on the trip due to heavy rain!), they were amazed to be met by two locals evading the police and taxes, Toribio Richarte and Anacleto Alvarez, who led them to the ancient site.
The discovery of Machu Picchu left Bingham “truly breathless” according to his book, but he wrongly inferred that the site was the legendary settlement of Vilcabamba that he had previously set off in search of! The following year, Bingham returned to the site to begin clearing the ruins of overgrowth and vegetation, and three years later the site stood as it does today. A railway link was constructed in 1928 and roads to the ruins were finised in 1948. It eventually reached World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. Years before this, in 1964, Bingham’s mistake had been discovered – this was not the ruins of Vilcabamba which were discovered some 5 kilometres further along by Gene Savoy. Ironically, Bingham had actually passed through the site in his original 1909 visit but considered the ruins unimportant!
What Was Machu Picchu and Why Was It Abandoned?
There are several theories about what Machu Picchu symbolised, now that most people agree it isn’t Vilcabamba as Bingham theorised. These all centre around the archeological belief that Machu Picchu was abandoned before the Spanish arrived (how else would it have avoided being destroyed by them?)
* It was the ceremonial centre of a large region and possibly the ‘royal estate’ for the Inca Pachacutec and his family clan. Its sacred position (in Incan terms) between mountains and rivers lends credence to this. This would mean that for many a trip along the Inca trail to Machu Picchu would have been a religious pilgrimage!
* It was a look out point guarding the road to Cusco from the Amazon Basin
* It was used to protect the source of coca used in every part of Incan religion
* It was the last refuge of Cusco’s Virgins of the Sun (Incan nuns)
* It was the location where the first Incan, Manco Capac, emerged from a sacred cave.
Obviously it can’t have been all of these, but it’s interesting that it causes such debate to this day.
And why was it abandoned? Some say the death of Pachacutec will have caused a new royal estate to be built for the next leader; others say that the water supply simply dried up.
Whatever you believe, an Inca trail trek remains an unbeatable cultural experience and one that should be on every traveller’s checklist. If you haven’t followed the Inca trail to Machu Picchu yet, you should consider visiting and discovering the secrets of the Incas for yourself.