Archive for February, 2008

Temporary Hiatus

Sorry about the temporary hiatus (even though I hardly think anyone actually cares), but I have been busy with a musical production and will not be writing for a while. 

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The beach of Aitutaki

Captain James Cook discovered a chain of islands just northwest of New Zealand and named them, aptly, the Cook Islands.  The most beautiful of all of these islands is definitely Aitutaki, which, ironically, was not discovered by Cook, but by William Bligh in 1789, just a few days before the now famous mutiny on the H.M.S. Bounty. 

This tiny island is perfect for a nice quiet vacation.  Aitutaki is the home to absolutely beautiful beaches, a 30-mile reef, and a large tropical jungle area.  This makes the island perfect for snorkeling and diving in the pristine waters, lying on the sand of pristine beaches, or hiking through beautiful jungle. 

The best times to travel to this island are from November to February.  This pristine paradise is a wonderful getaway for those looking to escape the fast-paced lifestyle of the modern day.

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The natural beauty of Fiordland National Park

Although the Great Barrier Reef, our previous entry, may be amazing, most New Zealanders, or Kiwis, believe that the Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound in Fiordland National Park on the Southern Island of the country.  Ever since Captain Cook discovered the site, it has been attracting attention for its natural beauty. 

The park is famous for the multitude of amazing fiords that rise up out of the south-western sea coast.  The ten mile-long bay is rimmed by sharp granite cliffs, some as high as 4,000 feet.  There are also a number of waterfalls cascading from the top of the fiords.  Wildlife is everywhere around the park.  Bottlenose dolphins play in the inlet.  Many different seal and bird species call the park home.  During the spring time crested penguins nest in the park as well. 

The clear waters of the sound are also perfect for photography, and boating.   Swimming is acceptable, but may be a bit cold if not done during the warm summer months.  The Milford Sound is also considered the finest hike in all the world.  The four-day, 32-mile path is a great hike for all nature lovers.  The entire area is very scenic and popular for Kiwi vacations.  Despite all of this, it seems to be hidden away from the rest of the world, so finding solitude is very easy. 

There is always the chance of a downpour, but even rainy days have a captivating beauty.  There are number of boat tours always available, so there is never a bad time to travel here.

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The biodiversity in the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef: this is the only living organism large enough to be seen from space.  It stretches 1,200 miles off of the coast of Queensland, Australia.  Amongst the reef, there are hundreds of smaller islands ripe for exploring.  This is the largest marine preserve in the world. Naturally, it is hoe to a plethora of 500 species of beautifully colored coral, 4,000 kinds of shellfish, 1,500 different fish species. 

This reef is perfect for water sports, including sailing, snokeling, and diving.  You can find a travel agency or guides who are willing to help you out on the reef almost anywhere on the northwest coast of Australia.  If you are not into the diving, there is an underwater observatory where you can see all the wonderful underwater biodiversity. 

The best time to travel here is from October to November for the best ocean water conditions.  The clear waters and beauty of the reef is absolutely stunning, and as global warming and changes in climate destroy reefs everywhere, we should try to visit, appreciate, and protect this valuable and unique ecosystem.

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A crocodile in Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park is Located in the Northern Territory in Australia.  It is a superior park, but little known: a perfect location for remote adventures far away from civilization.  Solitude in its most pristine form.

The most famous “asset” of the park are the crocodiles.  The 15-foot beasts that have survived since the bygone days of the dinosaurs.  They now stil laze in the undisturbed rivers in the Kakadu National Park. 

The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural wonders as well as the 5,000 ancient rock paintings of the Aborigines in the rock caves.  Some of these paintings can be as old as 25,000 years. 

Camping and hiking is very popular.  To avoid the flood waters of the rainy season, you may wish to travel here from April to October.  Either way, this park is a great place to go for pristine wilderness and history.

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This monolithic rock is the largest in the world.  It is truly a great place to visit.  It was, and still is the spiritual center for the ancient Aborigines.  The Aborigines are the first people to have seen the great, red rock, possibly as far back as 20,000 years ago.  The rock is also known as Uluru or “Giant Pebble,” in the native tongue.  Sunrise and sunset is a must-see in this part of the world. 

The rock rises 1,142 feet up into the air and has a 5 mile circumference.  The otherwise featureless plain is also a great place to see the native wildlife, including the famous kangaroo. 

Climbing is not prohibited, but is quietly discouraged by the Aborigines as a result of the religious significance of the site.  There is a 511 square mile park surrounding the rock in which hiking, trekking, and camping is extremely popular.  The best times to travel here is from March to May and September to November, or during the dry season.   

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The Great Pyramids of Giza

 The Great Pyramids of Giza in Cairo, Egypt have embodied the ancient world ever since they were discovered by the western world.  Their mystery have captivated millions of people including Napoleon and Churchill.  You too should experience these amazing structures.

The Khufu Pyramid or Great Pyramid is the largest in the world.  It was built around 2500 B.C.  with nearly two-and-a-half-million limestone bricks.  These bricks each weigh two-and-three-quarter tons!  Naturally, a huge work force, one of 20,000 slaves and workers, was required to build this pyramid.  There are also two smaller pyramids and the Sphinx (a figure with a man’s head and cat’s body.  Each night the sunset brings the pyramids alive and paints them an eerie blood red color. 

You can take a camel, a ship of the desert, up to the very base of the pyramids.  The Archaeological Museum of Cairo is also unmatched for mummy and ancient Egyptian artifacts.  It is a must-see for any history buff.

Unfortunately, urban sprawl has accompanied the influx of tourists.  There is only the benefit that lodgings are easy to find.  Although the Pyramids are still essentially untouched, the land surrounding the structures and the Nile River are filled in with slums and cities.  The best time to visit here is from November to March.  Despite this, the experience of seeing the grand Pyramids is absolutely an essential check-off for travellers. 

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