Friday, June 26, 2009

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem. It is often known as one of the wonders of the world. It is composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands scattered for over 3,000 kilometres over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometers. It consists of 3,000 coral reefs and many islets, atolls and coral cays. The Great Barrier Reef is blessed with the breathtaking beauty of the world's largest coral reef. It supports a wide diversity of life, and was selected as a World Heritage Site. The reef is a very popular tourists spot. Most of the Reef is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. It was declared as a national park. The Great Barrier Reef has a very rich biodiversity consist of important sea creatures like Whales, Dolphins, porpoises and turtles of more than six different types and also dwarf minke whale, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, and the humpback whale, salt water crocodile, sharks, stingrays etc. The Great Barrier Reef is a breeding area for humpback whales and is also the habitat of a few endangered species including the Dugong (Sea Cow) and large Green Sea Turtle.

Corals - Great Barrier Reef uniqueness comes from its three thousand coral reefs, islands, cays and lagoons, which are all at different stages of development. The reefs are the product of ten thousands years, during which the oceans rose to their present level after the last Ice Age. Small creatures known as coral polyps join together to form colonies of coral makes the reef. The coral reef can grow only in areas where there are sunlight. The most appropriate environment for coral is shallow warm water where there is a lot of water movement, where the water is salty, low in nutrients and plenty of light. Live coral is coloured by algae, but dead coral is white. Polyp looks like a jelly-like blob surrounded by a ring of tentacles on top. The busiest time in the reef is during night when the coral polyps feed, pushing out their multi-colored tentacles to entrap tiny sea creatures and plants called plankton. The reef looks like full of flowers when the billion of tentacles come out. The coral islands are home to all sorts of sea birds such as frigate birds, gannets, gulls, noddies, sea eagles, shearwaters and terns. Female turtles can be seen laying their eggs here during the summer. The sheer beauty of its fish and coral waterscapes draws two million tourists annually who come to see the underwater spectacle via diving, snorkeling and glass-bottom boating.

Sea Creatures - 17 species of sea snake live on the Great Barrier Reef. More than 1,500 species of fish live on the reef, including the red-throat emperor, red bass, clownfish, and several species of snapper and coral trout. Six species of sea turtles come to the reef to breed – the green sea turtle, hawksbill turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle,olive ridley and the flatback turtle. A large group of dugongs live here. In mangrove and saltmarshes near the reef Salt water crocodiles lived.

Scuba Diving - This spectacular area has also become one of the top scuba diving sites in the world. There are 16 exclusive dive sites on 4 spectacular outer reefs. These are Thetford, Pellowe, Milln and Flynn. The dive sites have an average depth ranging from approximately 30 to 80 feet. Scuba Diving is most refreshing, entertaining and thrilling. Its tropical climatic conditions makes it popular for Scuba Diving. The sea is calm, throughout the year. Due to which this place has acquired for the activity of scuba diving.

Exploring the Great Barrier Reef is exciting, safe and easy. You can snorkel or scuba dive on boat trips with experienced crew on hand to supervise.Because of its natural beauty, both below and above the water's surface, the Great Barrier Reef has become one of the worlds most sought tourist destinations.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Khajuraho - The Temple City Of Central India

Khajuraho is Located in the Chhatarpur District of Madhya Pradesh.Situated in the Bundelkhand region of Madhya Pradesh, Khajuraho temples are known worldover for its erotic sculptures. The name Khajuraho is derived from the Hindi word 'khajur' meaning date palm. Khajuraho temples were built by the Chandela rulers during the 9th and 10th century AD. Originally there were 85 temples, but now 22 temples are present. Khajuraho temple complex has been divided into three categories namely – Western Group, Southern Group and Eastern Group.The temples Chausath-Yogini, Brahma and Mahadeva made up of granite and others are made up of sandstone, buff, pink or pale yellow in colour.The temple of Vishnu which is now famous as Lakshmana temple built by Yasovarman.The Visvanatha, Parsvanatha and Vaidyanatha temples belong to the time of king Dhanga. King Ganda built Kandariya Mahadeva. Passion,art,lifestyle and culture showcases in the temples of Khajuraho.
Western Group of Temples-The western group of temples is the largest group of temples.It include some of the most famous temples.The western group of temples include Lakshmana Temple, Chausath Yogini, Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, Chitragupta Temple, Matangeswara Temple, Vishwanath Temple, Varaha Temple.

Kandariya Mahadev - It is the most magnificent temple in the western group.It is the largest and dedicated temple to Lord Shiva.The inner portion of the temple is beautifully decorted and the carved ceilings,pillars added beauty to it.The temple built with sandstone. The Kandariya Mahadev temple is divided into ardhamandapa, mandapa, a mahamandapa supported with pillars, the garbagriha.The outer wall shows ,god- goddesses, groups of lovers.
Chausath Yogini – It is the oldest among all and dedicated to Kali.Its name Chausath comes from the 64 Yogini`s of Goddess Kali and one belong to Goddess herself .Today ,only 35 Shrines remain. Chausath Yogini Temple built of granite.
Lakshmana Temple -The Lakshmana Temple is dedicated to the Vaikuntha form of Lord Vishnu.The temple is decorated with various images of gods and goddess in the Hindu Pantheon.It is one of the most preserved temples of khajuraho. The temple is well known for the three-headed idol of the incarnations of Vishnu they are, Narasimha and Varaha.
Chitragupta Temple – It was built between AD 1000-1025.This temple is dedicated to Sun God. It is famous for a Nandi Bull facing the shrine.

Vishwanatha Temple – This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and built by King Dhanga. The temple has entrances with magnificent stone lions guarding northern steps and southern steps are guarded by elephants.
Varaha Temple - The Varaha is dedicated to Vishnu's boar incarnation.
Devi Jagdambi Temple – It is decorated with some of the rare sculptures.Uppermost portion of these temples show some of the most erotic sculptures in Khajuraho temples.It is dedicated to Goddess Kali but was originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

Matangeswara Temple – The temple is dedicated to Lord shiva.It is outside the premises of Western temple. Matangeswara Temple is famous for 8 feet high lingam.

The Eastern Group
The eastern group of temples divided into two groups Jain temples and Hindu temples.The three Jain temples in the eastern group of Khajuraho temples are Parasvnath temple , the Adinath temple and the Ghantai temple. The three main Hindu temples of the group are the Brahma, the Vamana and the Javari.
Adinath temple – This temple is dedicated to the Jain saint, Adinath.This temple is famous for Carved figures of the Yakshis.
Parsvanath temple – It is the largest jain temple among the eastern group.Carvings are taken from day to day activities.The temple is decorated with beautiful sculptures of celestial beauties.
Ghantai Temple – In this temple you can see a jain goddess on a winged Garuda.Here you can also see carved 16 dreams of the mother of Lord Mahavira.
Brahma temple –This temple is famous for four faced statue of Brahma.
Vamana Temple – The outer walls of this temple shows beautiful carvings of apsaras in different sensuous moods.

Javari temple –This temple is famous for its magnificent architecture and design complex due to which a lot of tourist attracts towards the Javari temple.It is also one of the best Hindu temple in Khajuraho.

Hanuman Temple – Here you could worship 8 feet tall statue of Hanuman.
Dulhadeo temple – The temple dedicated to lord Shiva.Inside the temple there is huge Shiv lingaThe figures carved on the walls are heavy ornamented.The Dulhadeo temple also known as ‘Kunwar Math'.
Chaturbhuj Temple - The exotic sculptor inhances its glamour and elegance of the place.The architecture consist of the mahamandapa and an ardhmandapa, sanctum, shikhara and an antarala.

A combination of science and art of architecture the temples have a very interesting legend behind them that connects them to the origin of Chandela dynasty. The khajuraho temple were built during the reign of the Chandelas who trace their origin to the mythical sage Chandratreya born of the moon. According to the different versions Khajuraho owes its existence from maiden named Hemvati. Hemavati, was a beautiful young daughter of a Brahmin priest and she was a child widow. One day while bathing in the river Rati she was seduced by the moon god. The Moon god, mesmerized by her beauty. A son was born of this union between a human and a god. He was named Chandravarman by his mother. To save herself and her child she took refuge in the dense forest of Central India as she was a child widow. The boy grew up to become a brave king who went on to establish the great Chandela dynasty. When he was established as a ruler, he had a dream-where his mother implored him to build temples that would reveal human passions and thus would bring hidden human desires into open.The temples of Khajuraho attracts tourists towards its erotic sculptures on the temples walls. Though highly sensual and erotic, the engravings on these temples have a symbolic importance and there have been many interpretations of their existence.The motive behind the temple means that if a person wants to achieve God, he has to forget all this at the outset.

The Khajuraho group of monuments has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the top tourist places of India. Khajuraho, the temple city of central India, is famous throughout the world for its exquisitely carved temples. Thousands of visitors and tourists from all over the world visit the Khajuraho temples every year.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Knysna Oyster Festival

Knysna is renowned for its oysters, which are celebrated each year during the Knysna Oyster Festival.The Knysna Oyster Festival attracts around 65,000 visitors each year, among them dozens of food lovers, who come to the festival to slurp their way through platefuls of Crassostrea gigas ,Knysna’s home-grown oyster.They are some of the tastiest on the planet. Oysters taste even better with a glass of wine or bubbly.Oyster festival is all about life ,fun and sports events and also enjoy seafood and wine celebrations.During the festival there are numerous competitions to enter or watch, sport events, including a snowboard competition on a specially set-up snow ramp, and for the little ones include puppet shows, fun workshops. The first Knysna Oyster Festival was held in 1983, on the initiative of a local businessman keen to attract visitors to the Garden Route and one of its favourite resorts in the winter months. The festival is essentially a lifestyle celebration of sport and the good life and has established itself as one of the most popular annual events in the Western Cape.
Soft adventure and sports include bowling,golf,canoeing, navigation event. Some tough competitors can enter the drift dive challenge or the forest marathon while the cycle tour is the biggest mountain and biking event in Southafrica. From Arts & Crafts to Sports, Exhibitions, Fun Fairs, Boat Shows,Food and Wine and other entertainment covered many areas from the Old Goal Maritime Museum to the Belvidere Manor House, Thesen’s Jetty, Lorie Park, Waterfront Knysna Quays, the Heads and other locations along the picturesque beauty scenery of Knysna. More than 80 exciting events ranging from super-popular sports events and adventure challenges to wine and whisky tasting and gala evenings, draw a large crowd to the beautiful Garden Route town. Whether you're sporty , pleasure seeker, adventurous or just plain hungry, Knysna is the place to be in July. Party goers should check out Rockspots, various live music gigs and a variety of entertainment on every day of the festival in July.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jingdong Grand Cnyon

Jingdong Canyon scenic area, located north of Yuzishan Village, is composed of two scenic areas ?? the grand canyon and Jingtai Mountain. The scenic area is adjacent to Panshan Mountain in the south, and to the Jingdong Cave, Jinhai Lake, Huangyaguan Great Wall, the Eastern Tombs of the Qing Dynasty and Wuling Mountain in the east, and is about 82 kilometers from downtown Beijing. Since its opening in 1992, many visitors have flocked to the area and it is a well-known scenic area in Beijing and Tianjin.The canyon, about three kilometers long, boasts of dozens of natural sceneries and landscapes, such as green mountain and crystal water, caves and ponds, waterfalls and springs. Jingdong Grand Canyon is situated about 85 kilometers east of the center of Beijing. From an aerial view the canyon, thanks to its many water surfaces, looks like a glittering gem inlaid within the triangle formed by the three big cities of Beijing, Tianjing, and Tangshan. To the south of the canyon lies Panshan Mountain, while to the east lies Huangyaguan Great Wall, Duyue Temple, the Imperial Tombs of the Ming (CE 1368-1644) & Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasties, and Wuling Mountains, to name the most noteworthy sites. The best season to explore this vast natural wonder is in early autumn, in August or September.
Also called Wulongtan ("Deep Pool of Five Dragons") Grand Canyon, Jingdong Grand Canyon spans some 6 square kilometers. Inside the canyon are numerous caves, deep pools, craggy peaks, splashing waterfalls, and an enormous reservoir. Hundreds of hectares of pine trees grow in the canyon. Nestled here and there under the verdant pines are small villas and log cabins where visitors to the canyon can pause for a rest. The reservoir's 30-meter-high dam provides deep water for those fond of water sports.

In the sunny spring time, flowers are everywhere on the mountains; in summer, all mountains become green, mountain springs gush and flow, and visitors here would feel cool away from the suffocating summer heat; in autumn, all trees on the mountain turn red and golden, and visitors have the chance to harvest ripe fruits; and in winter, the mountains are covered with snow and ice, and the waterfalls become icy, producing a polar scenery.The scenic area has more than 60 tourist attractions. It has two special scenic areas ?? the Jingtaishan Forest Scenic Area and the Canyon Scenic Area. At the bottom of the canyon, there are five deep ponds connected by brooks, six tourist function zones namely canyon expedition zone, mountain-top sightseeing zone, water amusement zone, exhibition zone, fruit-picking zone and the leisure .

Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City is a place of pleasure in Joburg.Gold Reef City is a combination of entertainment complex made up of a theme park and casino facilities. Gold Reef City is a combination of fun and fantasy. Located on an old gold mine, the park is themed around the gold rush on the Witwatersrand. Park staff wear period costumes of the 1880s.The buildings built inside the compound designed like the same period.

The Apartheid museum is located next to Gold Reef City, which is a good place to spend to find out more about the apartheid era.The museum exhibits include antique clothing and children's toys, which take the visitor back 100 years to the city that was.The carefully-documented history of Apartheid,beautifully depicted in the Museum, is a must-see on a South African visit. And nowhere else will the tourist find such a comprehensive and colourful depiction of mining life at the turn of the nineteenth century.
The Theme park has an abundance of adventures rides, gaming, restaurants, and tours for you to enjoy. Its a fun place to take the kids. Youngs as well as old enjoy the adventure rides. From the skyline, the Giant Wheel, Anaconda and Tower of Terror will beckon all you find here. The Anaconda is the only inverted roller coaster in the world and is currently the record holder for the fastest and tallest inverted roller coaster in Africa. The Tower of Terror is a vertical drop roller coaster which features a drop of 47 meters, and a pull-out which features a positive G-Force of a massive 6.3G's.
You can also visit the original gold mine in a lift that goes down to 220 meters below the surface.Those interested in gold mining can see the gold-containing ore veins in an old mine, or observe in a small museum how real gold is poured into barrels.Thousands of feet down to a shaft of the Crown Mines there were round the looooong tunnels and the mine workers demonstrated how the gold was mined which gave a vivid impression of the work of the gold-miners.

The casino at Gold Reef City offers abundance of gaming choices. The casino at Gold Reef City is open 24 hours a day. Your gaming options include slots, various tables, for the high rollers and much more. Everyone from international travellers to family groups will find here something to keep them occupied. With 1600 slot machines and 50 tables ranging from Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat and various different kinds of Poker, there is an abundance of entertainment.
Gold Reef City provides educational aspect to any visit. The combination of Apartheid museum, historical theme park, rides, restuarants and casino is a superb combination.International travellers savour the offering of traditional African music, dance and history found throughout the complex. It is well worth a visit to Gold Reef City, to see how this entertainment package is put together and presented.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival (also called Yuanxiao Festival) is on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month. It is closely related to Spring Festival.In the old days, people began preparing for the Spring Festival about 20 days before. However, the Lantern Festival,everything returns to normal. Yuan literally means first, while Xiao refers to night. yuanxiao is the first time when we see the full moon in the new year. It is traditionally a time for family reunion.
There are many different beliefs about the origin of the Lantern Festival. But one thing for sure is that it had something to do with religious worship.One legend tells us that it was a time to worship Taiyi, the God of Heaven in ancient times. The belief was that the God of Heaven controlled the destiny of the human world. He had sixteen dragons at his beck and call and he decided when to inflict drought,storms, farmine or pestilence upon human beings. Beginning with Qinshihuang, the first emperor to unite the country, all subsequent emperors ordered splendid ceremonies each year. The emperor would ask Taiyi to bring favorable weather and good health to him and his people. Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty directed special attention to this event. In 104 BC,he proclaimed it one of the most important celebrations and the ceremony would last throughout the night.

Another legend associates the Lantern Festival with Taoism. Tianguan is the Taoist god responsible for good fortune. His birthday falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month. It is said that Tianguan likes all types of entertainment. So followers prepare various kinds of activities during which they pray for good fortune.

The third story about the origin of the festival goes like this. Buddhism first entered China during the reign of Emperor Mingdi of the Eastern Han Dynasty. That was in the first century. However, it did not exert any great influence among the Chinese people. One day, Emperor Mingdi had a dream about a gold man in his palace. At the very moment when he was about to ask the mysterious figure who he was, the gold man suddenly rose to the sky and disappeared in the west. The next day, Emperor Mingdi sent a scholar to India on a pilgrimage to locate Buddhist scriptures. After joumeying thousands of miles,the scholar finally returned with the scriptures. Emperor Mingdi ordered that a temple be built to house a statue of Buddha and serve as a repository for the scriptures. Followers believe that the power of Buddha can dispel darkness.So Emperor Mingdi ordered his subjects to display lighted lanterns during what was to become the Lantern Festival.The custom of lighting lanterns continued. However, the lanterns would develop from small simple ones to those of various color and shape. The scale of the celebration would also increase greatly.

Until the Sui Dynasty in the sixth century, Emperor Yangdi invited envoys from other countries to China to see the colorful lighted lanterns and enjoy the gala performances.By the beginning of the Tang Dynasty in the seventh century, the lantern displays would last three days. The emperor also lifted the curfew, allowing the people to enjoy the festive lanterns day and night. It is not difficult to find Chinese poems which describe this happy scene.In the Song Dynasty, the festival was celebrated for five days and the activities began to spread to many of the big cities in China.Colorful glass and even jade were used to make lanterns, with figures from folk tales painted on the lanterns.However, the largest Lantern Festival celebration took place in the early part of the 15th century. The festivities continued for ten days. Emperor Chengzu had the downtown area set aside as a center for displaying the lanterns. Even today,there is a place in Beijing called Dengshikou.In Chinese,Deng means lantern and Shi is market.The area became a market where lanterns were sold during the day.In the evening, the local people would go there to see the beautiful lighted lanterns on display.

Today, the displaying of lanterns is still a big event on the 15th day of the first lunar month throughout China. People enjoy the brightly lit night. Chengdu in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, for example, holds a lantern fair each year in the Cultural Park. During the Lantern Festival,the park is literally an ocean of lanterns! Many new designs attract countless visitors. The most eye-catching lantern is th

Dragon Pole, This is a lantern in the shape of a golden dragon, spiraling up a 27-meter -high pole, spewing fireworks from its mouth. It is quite an impressive sight!Besides entertainment and beautiful lanterns, another important part of the Lantern Festival,or Yuanxiao Festival is eating small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour. We call these balls Yuanxiao. Obviously, they get the name from the festival itself. It is said that the custom of eating Yuanxiao originated during the Eastern Jin Dynasty in the fourth centuty, then became popular during the Tang and Song periods.The fillings inside the dumplings or Yuanxiao are either sweet or salty. Sweet fillings are made of sugar, Walnuts, sesame, osmanthus flowers, rose petals, sweetened tangerine peel, bean paste, or jujube paste. A single ingredient or any combination can be used as the filling . The salty variety is filled with minced meat, vegetables or a mixture.The way to make Yuanxiao also varies between northern and southern China. The usual method followed in southern provinceds is to shape the dough of rice flour into balls, make a hole, insert the filling, then close the hole and smooth out the dumpling by rolling it between your hands.In North China,sweeet or nonmeat stuffing is the usual ingredient. The fillings are pressed into hardened cores, dipped lightly in water and rolled in a flat basket containing dry glutinous rice flour. A layer of the flour sticks to the filling, which is then again dipped in water and rolled a second time in the rice flour. And so it goes, like rolling a snowball, until the dumpling is the desired size.The custom of eating Yuanxiao dumplings remains. This tradition encourages both old and new stores to promote their Yuanxiao products. They all try their best to improve the taste and quality of the dumplings to attract more customers.

China Festivals...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adventure Tour to South Africa

South Africa is surrounded side by side by breathtaking mountains. South Africa offers world-class climbing, surfing, diving, hiking, horseback safaris, mountain biking, river rafting etc. There are over a hundred listed paragliding or hang gliding launch sites were you can enjoy.Thousands of kilometres of hiking trails around the country in desert, forest,you can see. South Africa is the most scenic and beautiful place for tourists to participate in adventure activities.South Africa offers a large variety of adventure activities,sports etc.On the border of the Eastern and Western Cape has the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. South Africa is home of the highest bungi jump, biggest sand dunes and tallest mountain.
Some of the famous adventure activities are :-
Abseiling table mountain - The world famous Table Mountain soars above Cape Town at 1000 metres above sea level. The "long drop" is 112m high - and about a kilometre above the city - making it the world's highest commercial abseil. The views from here are breathtaking.

Bungee jumping - The highest commercial Bungy Jump in the world stands at 216m high and is at the Bloukrans Bridge up the Garden Route of South Africa.

Canoeing, rafting & kayaking - The most popular is the Orange,it's a long, green-fringed oasis running through the mountainous desert area. Incredibly scenic, it also has a few fun rapids.The trail of approximately 75km is suitable for the complete novice and specially designed, stable, 2-man, Indian-type canoes makes it safe for the whole family, both young and old. There is some fun canoeing in the lakes area of the Garden Route, especially Wilderness and Knysna Lagoon.
Fishing - Shore angling is the most popular form of fishing - perhaps because it is the most accessible.
Horseback safaris – If you're comfortable on a horse you can take a ride through magnificent mountain scenery and also through vineyards.
Kloofing - Jumps range from 3 meters high to 22 meters high and it might seem crazy but it will give you an xtreme adventure xperience.
Rock climbing - South Africa offers some of the best, and most diverse, rock climbing in the world. Outside Durban, there are also a lot of sport climbs. The Cedarberg, two-and-a-half hours drive north of Cape Town, is a world-class bouldering area - and boasts some of the best rock climbing routes in the country.Cape Town is built around Table Mountain, a national park consisting of two great, hard rock types - Table Mountain sandstone, and Cape granite, which offers fantastic friction climbing.
Scuba diving - South Africa has an enormously long coastline, which isn't quite within the usual range for tropical diving. Mozambique Current flows down our east coast and at Sodwana Bay we have the most southerly coral reefs in the world.You can see pretty colourful fish and some great nudibranchs, including the outrageous Spanish dancer. Whale sharks, turtles, dolphins and ragged tooth sharks are often seen in specific areas.
Whale Watching - During the correct seasons, Southern Right Whales make the coastline their home and often come here to give birth. Hermanus, a beautiful fishing village up the coast from Cape Town, is a destination for some of the world's best land based and boat whale watching.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is Africa's oldest established wildlife park.Kruger National Park covers 18,989 square km and extends 350 km from north to south and 60 km from east to west.It is situated north of Johannesburg.Kruger National Park atmosphere is so unique. Most of the park is situated in the Lowveld. To the west and south of the Kruger National Park are the two South African provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga.In the north is Zimbabwe, and to the east is Mozambique. It is now part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, that links Kruger National Park with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe, and with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique. It is the largest game reserve in South Africa.The park boasts a fabulous variety of game and birdlife in its various habitats.The Kruger National Park is home to number of species: 336 trees, 49 fish, 34 amphibians, 114 reptiles, 507 birds and 147 mammals. The park has 8 main gates that allow entrance to the different camps.The names of these gates are Paul Kruger, Numbi, Malelane, Punda Maria, Crocodile Bridge, Orpen,Phalaborwa , Phabeni and Pafuri.The Kruger National Park is divided into six ecosystems - baobab sandveld, Lebombo knobthorn-marula bushveld, mixed acacia thicket, combretun-silver clusterleaf, woodland on granite, and riverine forest. It boasts the highest variety of wildlife in Africa which inlcudes the "Big Five", hippos, crocodiles, giraffe, cheetah etc.Kruger National Park is divided into 4 regions so visitors could understand easily which region they want to explore first.The regions are :-
The central region :- The central region supports nearly half the park’s lion population as well as numbers of leopard,hyena and cheetah. Possibly the main reason for this is the quantity of sweet grasses and abundant browsing trees found in this area that support a large group of antelope, giraffe, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest.
The northern region :- The Letaba and Olifants rivers contain as much as 60% of the Kruger park’s hippo population, and bird life here abounds. There are plenty of bushpig in the undergrowth of the Luvuvhu River and on most of the river banks you can hope to see sizeable herds of elephant buffalo,bushbuck,and Kudu concentrated near a water supply.
The far north region :-This is a rather fascinating part of the Kruger National Park. Sightings of rare birdlife and major areas of sand formed by river flood plains, combined with sandstone formations of the Mozambique coastal plain, make it attractive to visitors. A picnic site on the river bank provides hours of splendid bird viewing.
The southern region :- The valleys are home to trees rarely found in other parts of the Kruger park, such as the Cape chestnut, coral tree and lavender fever-berry; and granite lies beneath most of the region, producing distinctive smoothed koppies at irregular intervals, which are typically surrounded by rock figs and form ideal locations for rock dassies or hyrax, baboon and klipspringer, not to mention the odd leopard. This is the region where you’re almost sure of seeing a white rhino as most of them occur here.
Safari tours :- You can also enjoy Safari tours.Hence the Kruger National Park is one of South Africa`s premier tourist attractions. Safari tours are mostly common here.During safari you can view Big Five,Elephant,Lion,Rhino,Buffalo and Leopard.You should also see Zebras, Wildebeest,Bush pig,Impala,Giraffes and baboons which are all quite easily spotted. The best time to see game in the Kruger National Park is during the winter months of April to September.November and December are the calving months, this is a fantastic time for a safari.
Water and Bush Birds in the Kruger :- There are over 600 species of water and bush birds in South Africa’s top reserve.Great egrets, reed cormorants and white-faced ducks are found by the water alongside giant kingfishers, grey and green-backed herons,plovers and black-winged stilts.You can spoteasily hornbills as well as eagles, hooded vultures and other birds of prey. Among the most colourful birds are Carmine bee eaters and lilac-breasted rollers.
Bush walks :- It is one of the most incredible ways to learn about the fragility of the ecosystems of the Kruger Park and to see the smaller, animals and insects of the park like termites, spiders, snakes and plants. Bush walks can last up to four hours.
Wilderness trails :- There are many trails offer in the Kruger National Park.Some of them are Metsi-Metsi, Napi, Massingir and the Sweni Wilderness.

Dian Chi Lake

Kunming is famous for its multitudinous scenic spots and places of interests from ancient times, while the West Mountain & the Dian Chi Lake are the outstanding places among them. They are located in the southwest of Kunming in Yunnan Province. The West Mountain is 15 km away from Kunming, standing straight in the lakeside of the Dian Chi Lake and on the foot of the mountain is just the Dian Chi Lake.

The Dian Chi Lake, also called "Kunming Lake", "Kunming Pond", and "Southern Lake of Yunnan" in ancient times, is a plateau lake with beautiful scenery, the lake is 40 by 8 kilometers and is 1,886 meters above sea level. The lake water and the sky seem joining mutually like a city sea, dense mist and rolling water are on the surface of the lake, and sails are strolling above the water. It claims to be "a pearl on the Yungui Plateau" for a long time.Being the largest lake in Kunming and the sixth largest fresh water lake in China, Dian Chi Lake is 300 square kilometers (116 square miles) in surface area, 1,885 meters (6,185 feet) in altitude and about 40 kilometers (25 miles) in length (from north to south).The west side of Dian Chi Lake is the mountain forest, while on the east side are lands dotted with the fisheries and agribusinesses. Traditional fishing boats still sail on the lake, hooking and netting. Taking a boat to voyage between the blue sky and the green water, breathing the fresh air and viewing the birds flying just at your side, what an enjoyable, light-hearted and free moment it is!.When the weather is fine, there are white flocculent or massive clouds floating in the cerulean sky, the cyan water waves under the golden sunshine and the surrounding mountains reflect their silhouettes on the water. If you take a walk on the lake shore you will feel intoxicated by the beautiful landscape.The most beautiful view of Dian Chi Lake appears at dawn and sunset, the refraction of the ethereal rays glitter on the water surface just like thousands of silver fishes swimming and playing. At night, when the breeze is fleeting over the water and the world is brimming over with hazy moonlight, Dian Chi Lake lies in silence and breathes in peace like a sleeping beauty.The ocean-like Dian Chi Lake is the best place to go for those people who wish to get away from the bustling city and be close to the nature. Facing such a beautiful and capacious place, one may forget everything even himself, the only thing left is the amazing scenery before you.On the West Mountain, you can overlook the crossed green fields and the vast green Dian Chi Lake, the high and low peaks ranged at random at distance and emerald forests and elegant meditation rooms closely.Having the advantages of beautiful scenery and rich plants on the mountain, the West Mountain has already become a large-scale forest park after the transformation by Kunming City Government. Nearly 3,000 kinds of woody plants are growing on the mountain and the Ginkgo, Yulan magnolia and epiphyllum are unique in Kunming. The sago cycas, metasequoia, yew podocarpus and peacock China fir handed over in the geology history and the rare plants in the Dianzhong Plateau such as moss, alangium and Yunnan camphor tree are in addition to the above.The Longmen is the most beautiful scenic spot on the West Mountain. If climbing the Longmen and overlooking the endless Dian Chi Lake, you will see the green wave ripples and the pretty scenes of the lake. If enjoying the Dian Chi Lake on the close Grand View Pavilion, you will see that the waving water is running to your eyes and the sails are strolling in the light mist on the lake.
Yunnan Ethnic Villages:
The village acts as a good shortcut to understand the social customs of the ethnic groups in Yunnan. It has a natural sun-bathing area where you can escape from the heat of summer. Twenty-five ethnic nationalities have their respective villages and conduct many activities to present their unique folkways and beautiful clothes. Also you can enjoy the water screen movie and an elephant performance, have a taste of the local dishes and buy pretty handicrafts.
Daguan Park:
Daguan Park is vibrant with rock gardens, pavilions, bridges and murmuring water. It is famous for the longest couplets in China on the Daguan Pavilion. The Daguan Pavilion was built in the year 1828. It commands a lovely view. The couplet written in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), contains 180 characters brimming with literary grace. During festival evenings, gatherings take place here.

Baiyukou Park:
Baiyukou Park is on the west bank of Dianchi Lake. Here a small hill looks like a white fish opening its mouth to Dianchi Lake. Near the Irregular shore line, beautiful gardens are hidden among green trees. In spring, the cherry trees are in blossom, adding luster to this serene place. Overlooking Dianchi Lake, you can see white sails of boats on the glistening lake and gulls skimming over the waves.

Haigeng Bank:
Haigeng Bank is about four kilometers (2.5 miles) long while ranging in width from forty meters (131 feet) to three hundred meters (984 feet). The bank, like a floating jade belt, is in fact a watershed of the Dianchi Lake. Slender willow twigs sweep the lake in the gentle breeze. In the south is a wonderful natural swimming pool which is always crammed with people in midsummer.
Kwan-yin Hill:
Kwan-yin Hill is bordered by the vast lake and has an altitude of 2,040 meters (6,693 feet). Lofty peaks on this hill seem to thrust themselves straight towards the sky. A Kwan-yin Temple built here in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was once a popular resort of Buddhism. Remaining are a seven-tier brick pagoda, houses, and a gate to the Kwan-yin Temple.

Spring Festival

The Spring Festival is the largest and most important festival in China. It is the first day of the lunar calendar and usually occurs somewhere between January 30 and February 20, heralding the beginning of spring, thus it is known as Spring Festival. This traditional festival is also a festival of reunion; no matter how far away people are from their homes, they will try their best to get back to have the Reunion Dinner.

The Chinese meaning of this festival is Guo Nian. Guo means "pass over" and Nian means "year." The origin of the Chinese New Year Festival can be traced back thousands of years through a continually evolving series of colorful legends and traditions. According to one of the most famous legends, in ancient China there lived a horned monster named Nian who was extremely ferocious. Nian lived deep at the bottom of the sea all the year round and climbed up to the shore only on New Year's Eve to devour the cattle and kill people.Thereupon on the day of every New Year's Eve people from all villages would flee, bringing along the old and the young, to the remote mountains so as to avoid the calamity caused by the monster Nian. Then, one New Year's Eve, the people of Peach Blossom village were getting ready to hide when there came from outside the village an old beggar with a stick in his hand and a bag hanging upon his arm. His eyes twinkled like stars and his beard was silver.Seized with panic, the villagers were in a great hurry to run away. Some were closing the windows and locking the doors, some were packing, and others were urging the cattle and driving the sheep. At a time when the people were shouting and the horses were neighing no one was in the mood to care for the beggar.Only a grandmother living in the east end of the village gave the old man some food and advised him to flee to the mountains to avoid the monster. But the old man stroked his beard and said with a smile, "If you allow me to stay at your home for the night, I'm sure to drive away the monster Nian.The old woman was surprised to hear this. She looked at him unbelievingly only to find that, with white hair and ruddy complexion, the old man had a bearing out of the ordinary. She went on to persuade him to take flight. But he only smiled without reply. Thereupon the grandmother could not help but leave her home and flee to the mountains.Around midnight the monster Nian rushed into the villages. He found the atmosphere was quite different from that of the previous year. The house of the grandmother in the east end of the village was brilliantly illuminated, with bright red paper stuck on the doors. Greatly shocked, the monster gave a strange loud cry.The monster Nian stared angrily at the house for a moment then, howling furiously, made a charge at it. As he approached the door, there suddenly came the sounds of explosions. Trembling all over, the monster dared not take a step forward.It turned out that the color red, flames, and explosions were what Nian feared the most. And when the door of the grandmother's house was thrown open and an old man in a red robe burst out laughing in the courtyard, the monster Nian was scared out of his wits and fled helter-skelter.The next day was the 1st of the first lunar month. When people came back from their hideouts and found everything safe and sound, they were quite surprised. The old woman suddenly realized what had happened and told the villagers about the old beggar's promise.The villagers swarmed into the grandmother's house, only to find that the doors were covered with red paper, the embers from a pile of bamboo were still giving out exploding sounds in the courtyard, and a few candles were still glowing in the room.The story was soon spread far and wide and everybody was talking about it. They concluded in the end that the old beggar was surely the celestial being who came to expel the calamities and bless the people, and that red paper, red cloth, red candles, and the exploding firecracker were certainly the magic weapons to drive out the monster Nian.To celebrate the arrival of such good luck, the elated villagers put on their clothes and new hats and went one after another to their relatives and friends to send their regards and congratulations. This was soon spread to the surrounding villages, and people all got to know the way to drive away the monster Nian.

From then on, on each New Year's Eve, each family sticks on their doors antithetical couplets written on red paper, blows up firecrackers, keeps their houses brilliantly illuminated and stays up late into the night. Early in the morning of the 1st of the first lunar month they go to their relatives and friends' homes to send their regards and congratulations. These customs have been passed down through the generations, making it the most ceremonious traditional festival of the Chinese people.Spring Festival which is also called Chinese New Year falls on January, 1st, according to the Chinese lunar calendar. It is usually called as Yinlinian. This is the most important festival in China. It originated in Shang DynastyWhen Spring Festival comes, spring comes as well. Everything comes to life and plants are prosperous. Just having experienced a cold winter, people are so excited to welcome a new spring.The warm atmosphere is not only in the houses, but also in the streets. In many places, lion dances and dragon lantern show are performed during Spring Festival. In some places, people kept the customs of Shehuo performance, visiting flower market, going to the temple fair. During this period, the cities are full of lanterns and the streets are crowded with people. Activities last to the 15th of January, this can be an end of Spring Festival.People in different places celebrate Spring Festival in different ways. Generally speaking, a Chinese family will hold a Spring Festival feast, light firecracker and give lucky money to children during Spring Festival. See details of Chinese New Year Celebration (Spring Festival).

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Jiuzhaigou Valley

Jiuzhaigou Valley is one of the most beautiful National Parks in the world, and definitely the number one National Park in China. If you like Alpine landscapes, streams and waterfalls you should not miss the Jiuzhaigou Valley. Currently this is one of China's top tourist destinations among Chinese visitors, but it is still not very well-known among foreigners. If you have already visited China's main tourist cities, and want to see an amazing natural environment, you should add Jiuzhaigou Valley to your destinations list.

It is said that if there should be wonderlands on the earth, Jiuzhaigou Valley must be one of them. There is no equal elsewhere that has sceneries and fables of dreamlike eloquence, or natural purities like a fairyland as Jiuzhaigou Valley.Jiuzhaigou Valley is located in Nanping County, 450 kilometers (about 280 miles) to the north of Chengdu City. Its name is due to the existence of nine stockaded villages of Tibetan origin, and it is always regarded as a holy mountain and watercourse by the Tibetan people.Jiuzhaigou Valley is a great masterpiece of nature having dreamlike scenery and abundant natural resources. It combines blue lakes, waterfalls, verdant forests, snow-covered mountains, and the folk customs of the Tibetan and Qiang peoples.

Legend has it; that long, long ago the deity of mountain named Dago had a crush on the goddess Semo, and he gave a mirror that was made from wind and cloud to the goddess. However, the devil appeared and made trouble to Semo. Inadvertently, Semo broke the mirror into 108 pieces, which fell down to the earth and then turned to 108 colorful lakes. The lake is also called Haizi by local people.

Shuzheng Valley:
Shuzheng Valley is a main tourist route of Jiuzhaigou Valley. It is about 14 kilometers (about nine miles) in length with over 40 lakes, representing 40% of all the lakes in Jiuzhaigou. The major scenic spots in Shuzheng Valley are Double-Dragon Lake, Bonsai Beach, Reed Lake, Spark Lake, Tiger Lake, Shuzheng Waterfall, Rhinoceros Lake, and Nuorilang Waterfall, etc.

Shuzheng Waterfall:
Shuzheng Waterfall is the first waterfall you will encounter in the valley. It is 62 meters (about 203 feet) wide and 15 meters (about 49 feet) tall. Though it is the smallest of the four main waterfalls in Jiuzhaigou Valley, it will bring heart quakes to first time visitors. The green forests surround nineteen lakes of different sizes and levels. The lake water in the upper reaches flows slowly along the shoal and is divided into countless streams by the groves in the lake. Then the streams join on the top of Shuzheng Waterfall and suddenly drop down to the lower lakes. The sprays fly in the air, creating an elegant screen.

Nuorilang Waterfall:
Nuorilang Waterfall is 32 meters (about 105 feet) wide and 25 meters (about 82 feet) tall, and it is the widest waterfall in Jiuzhaigou Valley. Nuorilang means 'grand and magnificent' in Tibetan, so it is a gorgeous waterfall. The top of the waterfall is very flat. It is said that originally there was no waterfall but a platform here long ago. Then a monk brought a spinning wheel when he returned to this place. A Tibetan girl learnt the skill of spinning very soon, so she carried the wheel to the platform and showed her sisters how to spin. The cruel man Roza considered that she was doing something evil and kicked her, as well as the spinning wheel off the cliff. In no time, torrents rushed Roza and his accomplices down the mountain, so the platform had turned into the waterfall. When the sun shines in the morning, flowery rainbows can be seen in the sky, which make the waterfall more charming and splendid.

Peacock River:
Peacock River is 310 meters (about 1,017 feet) in length and wends along the deep valley with flowers and trees on its two sides. The water appears in a cacophony of varietous colors: dark green, golden, and sapphire blue. When autumn comes, the forests are covered with hoarfrosts and the fallen leaves are bestrewed all over the lake. When seen from above, the bright and clear water flows in a colorful world and it is like a peacock displaying its fine tail feathers.

Five-Flower Lake (Wuhua Lake):
The pride of Jiuzhaigou Valley, Five-Flower Lake lies at the end of the upper reach of Peacock River, 2,472 meters (about 8,110 feet) above the sea level and five meters (about 16 feet) in depth. Most of the colorful leaves are gathered in the lakefront and interlaced as brocades. The water that contains calcium carbonate as well as hydrophytes with different colors presents a versicolor sight, azure blue, blackish green and light yellow, etc, so it is named Five-Flower Lake. The local people say that it is a holy lake, and where there is the water, there must be flourishing flowers and trees. When looking down from the mountain, you will find that the lake with hills on three sides is just like a huge upended cucurbit pouring colorful water to the lower place.

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One of the main reasons to visit Assam was to see the mighty river Brahmaputra and to site the one horned Rhino at the Kaziranga national Park.A picturesque drive from the commercial capital of Guwahati of nearly 220 kms (approximately 5 hours) brings you to the natural habitat of the one-horned Rhinocerous, the Kaziranga Park, which is one of the best places of the world to see the Great one horned Rhinocerous on the verge of extinction.

Kaziranga lies on the southern banks of the Brahmaputra River, northeast of the Guwahati, partly in Golaghat district and partly in Nagaon district of the state. The forest full of tall elephant grass and swampy marsh lands, an ideal habitat of the Rhino was originally established as a game reserve and later declared a sanctuary in 1940 to counter excessive poaching. But it was only in 1974 that it was given the status of National Park. Kaziranga has the rare distinction of not only saving the prehistoric mammal from the verge of extinction but also of increasing its population in a spectacular manner. With a population of over a thousand, the one-horned Rhino's are the largest concentration in the subcontinent.

This prehistoric animal has stood the wrath of time and has fought to adjust with changes in nature and its surroundings. It is a nearly hairless mammal with a height of around 6 feet and weighing nearly four tons. Basically a solitary and peace loving animal, the females can get disturbed without any provocation when in custody of its calf. The single horn on the nose, which can sometimes be as long as five feet, is the main instrument of the animal for a fight. The Rhino likes to live in tall grassland and swampy marshes. They are brown or gray in colour and thick skin forms plate like folds resembling armor. The horn if once broken grows again, and it is for this horn, which is believed to have medicinal prowess, that the animal is hunted down.
Watching the magnificent rare specie from the back of an elephant, early on a winter morning, is a sheer delight.Along with the Rhinos the marshland is habitat for the many other species as well like the elephants, Indian Bison, swamp deer and many other species of deer, the sloth bears and tigers too. The jungles and the marshy lands also make a good habitat for the migratory birds like the Pelicans and Hornbill, Egret and eagles as well. The common birds and animals also have a major population in the park. Thus viewing wildlife at Kaziranga Park because of its vast open spaces, the presence of the mighty Brahmaputra, and adjoining Mikir hills makes the trip a complete jungle adventure.Near to Kaziranga are some good excursion points. The Kakochang waterfalls and the ruins of Numaligarh and many tea gardens are prime attractions.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Yellow Mountain: Huangshan

The famous scrolls of Chinese black and white paintings of high mountains, rocks, trees and sea of clouds come alive in Huangshan Mountains in the south Anhui province. It is a marvelous mountain area, now on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. There is an old saying well known throughout the country "No need to see any other mountains after Huangshan!" Huangshan has spectacular landscape with its four unique scenes: interesting shaped rocks, waterfalls, unique shaped pine trees growing out of rocks, and its sea of clouds. Huangshan has all, the steepness, the grace, the elegance, and so on. Huang Shan Mountain area is such a marvelous place with spectacular vista and its ever-changing scenes attract tourists in all seasons and inspire countless Chinese painters and poets for thousands of years.Of all the notable mountains in China, Mount Huangshan, to be found in the south of Anhui province, is probably the most famous. Originally known as Mt. Yishan it was renamed Mt. Huangshan in 747 AD in recognition of the legendary Huang Di, who was the reputed ancestor of the Chinese people and who made magic pills for immortality here.

Wu yue is the collective name given to China's most important mountains, namely Mt. Taishan in Shandong Province, Mt. Huashan in Shaanxi Province, Mt. Hengshan in Shanxi Province, Mt. Songshan in Henan Province and Mt. Hengshan in Hunan Province. It is said that you won't want to visit any other mountains after seeing wu yue but you won't wish to see even wu yue after returning from Mt. Huangshan. This saying may give you some idea of the beauty and uniqueness of Mt. Huangshan. Together with the Yellow River, the Yangtze River and the Great Wall, Mt. Huangshan has become one of the great symbols of China.

Yellow Mountain, also named Huangshan,is famous for its marvelous and beautiful scenery. It is one of the most popular tourist resorts in China.The landform of Yellow Mountain is a kind of typical granite mountains and forests. It was the result of several movements of lithosphere as well as the work of nature during the long geological age. 77 peaks are more than 1,000 metres above sea level. Granite limestone towers and oddly-shaped rocks spread all over the scenic area.

The legendary pines, oddly-shaped rocks, phantasmagoric sea of clouds, hot springs and winter snows have own Yellow Mountain the world famous reputation of the five unique views. Yellow Mountain has brought together all the strong points other mountains have: grand, strange, baffling, arduous, steep, flourishing, quiet and spacious.There is another noticeable place near Yellow Mountain - Huizhou Culture (also known as Xin'an culture) which is one of the three regional cultures in China. Huizhou Culture includes Xin'an Philosophy, Xin'an Painting School, Xin'an Medicine School, Huizhou Style Architecture, Anhui pot gardening, Huizhou Sculpture, Huizhou Opera, Huizhou Cuisine and so on. It's a miracle of excellent traditional culture of the Chinese nation.

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The Drakensberg mountains of South Africa is a 200-kilometre-long mountainous wonderland and world heritage site.It is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa.It is also know as “uKhahlamba” or“The Barrier of Spears”. The Dutch Voortrekkers named it as 'The Dragon Mountain'. It forms a natural border between Lesotho and KwaZulu Natal.The largest proportion of the Drakensberg area falls in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The Drakensberg Range has three sections,South, Central and North.The Northern Drakensberg comprises Royal Natal National Park,Rugged Glen Nature Reserve,Amphitheatre,Mont-aux-Sources, Ifidi, Mnweni & Ntonjelana valleys, Singati Valley, the Mnweni cutback, Mponjwane, and the Saddle.The Central Drakensberg or Berg comprises of Mlambonja Wilderness Area, Cathedral Peak,Organ Pipes, Ndedema Gorge,Ndumeni, Mdedelelo Wilderness Area, Monk’s Cowl, Champagne Castle,Cathkin Peak,Injasuti, and Giant’s Castle Game Reserve.Southern Drakensberg has Mkhomazi Wilderness Area,Loteni,Kamberg,Vergelegen,Hinghmoor,Sani Pass,Mzimkhulwana Nature Reserve, Mzimkhulu Wilderness Area, Garden Castle, Rhino, Giant’s Cup Hiking Trail, Bushman’s Nek, Sehlabathebe National Park, Thomathu, Devil’s Knuckles, and Ramatseliso's Nek.
The mountains are capped by a layer of basalt approximately 1,400 m thick, with sandstone resulting in a combination of steep-sided blocks.The Drakensberg Mountains, with their awe-inspiring basalt cliffs, snowcapped in winter, lush yellowwood forests and cascading waterfalls, form a massive barrier separating KwaZulu-Natal from the Kingdom of Lesotho. This 243,000 hectare mountainous region known the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park has been preserved and venerated for eons since the San people or bushmen roamed these slopes.This is one of South Africa`s best hiking spots, with varied environments and awesome views. It is an important region for adventure activities like mountaineering, camping, bird watching, river crossing, trout fishing, and many more such activities.The entire Drakensberg is riddled with incredible waterfalls, rock pools, mountain streams, crisp mountain air, caves and special spaces that draw both visitors to South Africa and locals alike.
Cave and cave paintings :- In Drakensberg of KwaZulu Natal lies Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park which is a world heritage site , it also has over 600 examples of rock paintings in caves around the park. The Drakensberg has between 35000 and 40000 works of bushman art and is the largest collection of such work in the world. The oldest painting on a rock shelter wall in the Drakensberg dates back about 2400 years", "paint chips at least a thousand years older have also been found.It is famous for its outstanding both in quality and diversity of subject. Drakensberg range is a major tourist destination in South Africa and one of the best-known adventure destinations in the world.

Mont-aux-Sources :-It is regarded as the one of the highest portions of the Drakensberg Mountain range. Mont-aux-Sources is regularly described as a mountain block. The amphitheatre, of which Mont-aux-Sources is part, is a five kilometre wall of rock that is at once intimidating and awesome, and forms part of the Royal Natal National Park.It is surrounded by mountain peaks and visitors can enjoy hiking.
Cathedral Peak :- It is surrounded by most spectacular mountain scenery.The peak is bordered by two wilderness areas the Mdedeleo and Mlambonja.It is a retreat for nature lovers, mountain bikers and rock climbers.
Giant’s Castle :- It lies at the southern end of the Drakensberg.It get its name from the outline of the peaks and escarpment that combine to resemble the profile of a sleeping giant.There are a number of hikes to choose from and they range from the rather severe hike to Bannerman Hut, to the more sedate Champagne Pools circular walk from Giant’s Castle main gate, which takes you to secluded pools for swimming and fishing.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

West Lake (Xi Hu)

Originally a shallow sea inlet, due to the laying down of silt this 5.68 square kilometers (about 1,404 acres) of water became the famous West Lake. With an average depth of just five feet the lake comprises five distinct sections. The largest part is known as the Outer Lake and it is bounded by the North Inner Lake, Yuehu Lake, West Inner Lake and Lesser South Lake. Held in the embrace of hilly peaks on three sides, this water wonderland has been an attraction for centuries and it is small wonder that it was a favourite imperial retreat. The lake and its environs have all the elements of a traditional Chinese garden but on a grand scale. The natural setting of strangely shaped peaks, serene forests and springs, dense foliage and a myriad of blossoms especially in springtime are enhanced by a treasury of sculpture and architectural features. Whatever the season, the panorama is pleasing to the eye and the nuances of light shade together with the moods of the weather present an ever-changing picture that justifiably has been described as 'intoxicating'.
A number of specific features can be singled out as worthy of particular note. To the south of centre of the Outer Lake is a manmade island known as the Island of Little Oceans, that encloses four small lakes. From here one can view the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon when at night candles are lit in stone lanterns jutting out of the water thus creating the impression of the reflections of three moons. The scene is truly magical on the night of the Autumn Moon Festival. Solitary Hill Island lies between the Outer Lake and the north Inner Lake and is an ideal spot from which to admire the vista. The nearby Two Peaks Embracing the Sky is another impressive sight, especially when crossing the lake by boat.
Near to the lake can be found the Ling Yin Temple in its woodland setting near to Fei Lai Feng (Peak Flown From Afar). Legend has it that this limestone peak flew from India where it had formed part of a holy mountain. These are of particular interest to Buddhists and those who have a love of sculpture and art. The Mausoleum of General Yue Fei is a monument to the patriot who was murdered in 1141 at the behest of his archrival Qin Hui, the Song prime minister. These buildings like others in the vicinity of the lake such as the slender Six Harmonies Pagoda add to the calm and beauty of their surroundings.

No visitor to the West Lake and Hangzhou can fail to learn something of this city's most famous products, namely silk and Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea. Since the Tang Dynasty (618-907) silk products from Hangzhou have found their way all over the world. The National Silk Museum is the first Chinese national museum to be dedicated to silk culture and is the largest of its kind in the world. A similar museum is dedicated as homage to tea. Located at the West Lake Dragon Well Tea Plantation, the National Tea Museum provides a fascinating insight into the history and production of Chinese tea. Often referred to as the 'wonders of West Lake' Longjing (Dragon Well) tea and Hupao (Running Tiger) Fountain is each worthy of the attention of the visitor.
Another natural spectacle to be found here is the tidal bore of the Qiantang River that has enthralled people for centuries. Overlooking the river estuary stands the 13 storey high Six Harmonies Pagoda. Dating from 970 and built on the site of an earlier pagoda that served as a lighthouse, the name refers to the six codes of Buddhism i.e. harmony of the body, speech and thought and the renunciation of personal pleasure, opinions and wealth. A climb to the top of the pagoda carries the reward of an impressive view over the river.

Crossing the river is the Qiantang River Bridge. This is the first two-tier bridge to have been designed and built by Chinese engineers in modern times. The other great feat of much earlier engineering is the Grand Canal. Linking Hangzhou in the south with Beijing in the north, this is the longest man-made waterway in China and surpasses both the Suez and Panama canals.


Suncity in South Africa offers everything and more and it has become a haven for holidaymakers to South Africa.Sun City Resort is set in the North West Region of South Africa.Sun City is a luxury South African casino resort. The Resort has a unique heartbeat and an African rhythm of its own. It was planned in the style of a sunken, legendary African town .This is pure fantasy and your every desire is met.It offers a multitude of attractions and activities to keep everyone occupied. Sun City attracts more than 25.000 visitors every day.It has a combination of golf, game and gambling, as well as world class hotels.It is the perfect choice for any holiday in South Africa. A huge variety of sport activities can be enjoyed at Sun City.It is surrounded by the magnificent mountains of South Africa` s Pilanesberg National Park and the game viewing opportunities are superb. Sun City offers the best golfing in Africa.You can enjoy Flying in a Tiger Moth, riding an elephant, hot air ballooning, archery, quad biking and much more. There are four world-class hotels including the magnificent Palace of the Lost City. Suncity in South Africa offers everything and more and it has become a haven for holidaymakers to South Africa .It amazed the visitors with its glamorous casinos, gourmet restaurants, sports facilities etc.You could get a lot of facilities here:-

Watersports and Activities :- South Africa has year round good atmosphere making it famous for sports such as squash, swimming,tennis, horse riding,mountain biking, golf etc. Sun City has laid out spectacular jogging trails. A wide range of water sports including Water-skiing, Parasailing and Sunset Cruises can be enjoyed at the Resort's Waterworld.
Sun City Nightlife and Entertainment :- Here famous artists perform throughout the year.
Valley Of The Waves :- This is the most advanced water park in South Africa. This water park has five exhilarating flume rides.

Potala Palace

Originally built by King Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century, Potala Palace is located on the Red Hill of Lhasa, Tibet. Destroyed by lightning and war, Potala Palace had been rebuilt by the Fifth Dalai Lama in 1645. Since then, Potala Palace has become the seat of Dalai Lamas and also the political center of Tibet. The thirteenth Dalai Lama extended it to the present size, 117 meters (384 ft) in height and 360 meters (1,180 ft) in width, covering an area of more than 130, 000 sq meters (about 32 acres). Mainly comprised by the White Palace (administerial building) and the Red Palace (religious building), Potala Palace is famous for its grand buildings, complicated constructions, devotional atmosphere and splendid artworks.

Perched upon Marpo Ri hill, 130 meters above the Lhasa valley, the Potala Palace rises a further 170 meters and is the greatest monumental structure in all of Tibet. Early legends concerning the rocky hill tell of a sacred cave, considered to be the dwelling place of the Bodhisattva Chenresi (Avilokiteshvara), that was used as a meditation retreat by Emperor Songtsen Gampo in the seventh century AD. In 637 Songtsen Gampo built a palace on the hill. This structure stood until the seventeenth century, when it was incorporated into the foundations of the greater buildings still standing today. Construction of the present palace began in 1645 during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama and by 1648 the Potrang Karpo, or White Palace, was completed. The Potrang Marpo, or Red Palace, was added between 1690 and 1694; its construction required the labors of more than 7000 workers and 1500 artists and craftsman. In 1922 the 13th Dalai Lama renovated many chapels and assembly halls in the White Palace and added two stories to the Red Palace. The Potala Palace was only slightly damaged during the Tibetan uprising against the invading Chinese in 1959. Unlike most other Tibetan religious structures, it was not sacked by the Red Guards during the 1960s and 1970s, apparently through the personal intervention of Chou En Lai. As a result, all the chapels and their artifacts are very well preserved.

From as early as the eleventh century the palace was called Potala. This name probably derives from Mt. Potala, the mythological mountain abode of the Bodhisattva Chenresi (Avilokiteshvara / Kuan Yin) in southern India. The Emperor Songtsen Gampo had been regarded as an incarnation of Chenresi. Given that he founded the Potala, it seems likely that the hilltop palace of Lhasa took on the name of the Indian sacred mountain. The Potala Palace is an immense structure, its interior space being in excess of 130,000 square meters. Fulfilling numerous functions, the Potala was first and foremost the residence of the Dalai Lama and his large staff. In addition, it was the seat of Tibetan government, where all ceremonies of state were held; it housed a school for religious training of monks and administrators; and it was one of Tibet's major pilgrimage destinations because of the tombs of past Dalai Lamas. Within the White Palace are two small chapels, the Phakpa Lhakhang and the Chogyal Drubphuk; dating from the seventh century, these chapels are the oldest surviving structures on the hill and also the most sacred. The Potala's most venerated statue, the Arya Lokeshvara, is housed inside the Phapka Lhakhang, and it draws thousands of Tibetan pilgrims each day.

Upon entering the East Portal, visitors will come into the Deyang Shar courtyard where Dalai Lamas watched Tibetan opera. West of the courtyard is the White Palace. As the winter palace of Dalai Lamas, the White Palace is a seven-floor building originally built in 1645. The wall of the palace was painted to white to convey peace and quiet. The Great East Hall on the fourth floor is the largest hall in White Palace, occupying a space of 717 sq meters (about 7,718 sq ft). This hall was also the site for holding momentous religious and political events. The living quarters and offices of regents are on the fifth and sixth floors and while the top floor consists of the East Chamber of Sunshine and the West Chamber of Sunshine. Because of the sunshine in the chambers all year round, the East and West Chamber were the places where Dalai Lamas lived, worked and studied. The furnishings are sumptuousness and comfortable, revealing the dignity of Dalai Lamas. Standing on the spacious balcony, visitors can look down on beautiful Lhasa.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Vredefort Dome

Two billion years ago a meteorite hit the earth creating an enormous impact crater.This area, near Vredefort in the Free State, is now known as the Vredefort Dome. Vredefort Dome a truly unique, indeed mind-boggling site . It is 120 km south-west of Johannesburg and also it is the oldest astrobleme found on earth. With a radius of 190km, it is also the largest and the most deeply eroded. It is said to have been created by a chunk of rock the size of Table Mountain vaporizing 70 Cubic Kilometres of earth on impact and a crater 300km wide. The Vredefort Dome is among the top three, and is the oldest and largest clearly visible meteorite impact site in the world. Vredefort's original impact scar measures 380km across and consists of three concentric circles of uplifted rock. They were created by the rebound of rock below the impact site when the asteroid hit. Vredefort Dome bears witness to the world’s greatest known single energy release event, which caused devastating global change, including, according to some scientists, major evolutionary changes. Vredefort is the only example on earth to provide a full geological profile of an astrobleme below the crater floor. The inner circle, is still visible and can be seen in the beautiful range of hills near Parys and Vredefort.Within the ring of hills found granitic gneiss rock. The force of the impact produced deep fractures in the underlying rock. Rock melted by the impact flowed down into the cracks, producing what are now exposed as ridges of hard dark rock - the granophyre dykes.The Vredefort Dome is a natural heritage site.When you visit the area you will find small hills in a large dome shape with beautiful valleys between them. Evidence has been found by geologists that the cause of this upliftment was an extreme impact event. Its mountains and valleys, the Vaal River bed, and many different climatic and soil conditions giving rise to a vast variety of different vegetations, exceptionally varied bird life, all this makes the Dome a very special place to live in and to visit. It was voted South Africa's seventh World Heritage site at Unesco's 29th World Heritage Committee meeting in Durban in July 2005.
The dome is an all-year round destination, although in the winter months the cooler air and reduced vegetation make hiking easier.The nearby structure of the Dome to the north is very recognizable.You can enjoy hiking and bird-watching, Canoeing, rafting and fishing, camping, riding, mountain-biking and -climbing on the site.

The Bund :Shanghai

The Bund is one of the most recognizable architectural symbols of Shanghai. The word ‘bund’ derives from an Anglo-Indian word for an embankment along a muddy waterfront and that is what it was in the beginning, when the first British company opened an office there in 1846. It became the epitome of elegance during Shanghai’s history as a city of trade. Now many attractive new constructions have been erected in addition to the historical buildings. A 771-metre long retaining wall for flood control was built. Atop the wall is a spacious walkway for sightseeing. Paved with colorful tiles and dotted with flower beds and European-style garden lights. It is a good place for a leisurely stroll and a view of the Huangpu River. The Bund, which extends from Jinling Road in the south to the Waibaidu Bridge over the Suzhou Creek in the north, is on the western bank of the 114 kilometer long Huangpu River, a tributary of the Yangtze River.

The Bund stretches one mile along the bank of the Huangpu River. Traditionally, the Bund begins at Yan'an Road (formerly Edward VII Avenue) in the south and ends at Waibaidu Bridge (formerly Garden Bridge) in the north, which crosses Suzhou Creek.The Bund centres on a stretch of the Zhongshan Road, named after Sun Yat-sen. Zhongshan Road is a largely circular road which formed the traditional conceptual boundary of Shanghai city "proper". To the west of this stretch of the road stands some 52 buildings of various Western classical and modern styles which is the main feature of the Bund (see Architecture and buildings below). To the east of the road was formerly a stretch of parkland culminating at Huangpu Park.This area is now much reduced due to the expansion of Zhongshan Road. Further east is a tall levee, constructed in the 1990s to ward off flood waters. The construction of this high wall has dramatically changed the appearance of the Bund.Looking out on the river, various cargo vessels, speedier tourist ferries and other locally owned boats, some of which remind visitors they are still in a developing country, can be seen navigating the Huangpu. Visitors might need reminding, with the towering skyscrapers, the Oriental Pearl Tower, the neon lights indicating the offices of top world brands and European architecture surrounding them.

The commemorative square at the junction with Nanjing Road features a fountain and a statue of Chen Yi, who in 1949 became the first mayor of Shanghai in the communist era. Opposite the Customs Building is an electronic clock that shows standard times in various world localities on a water-like curtain. All around are Chinese wisterias, gingko trees and azaleas. Buildings in Greek, Renaissance and Baroque styles can be seen along the west of the Bund.
The wharf for pleasure boat rides is also at the end of Nanjing Road. A boat ride on the Huangpu River will take visitors down to the estuary of the Yangtze River and back in just over three hours.

More Shanghai attractions...