Category Archives: Nature

New Inscription in 2014

I know, I know, I haven’t written for a while. I was sick, we moved, we traveled and one year has passed. I’m ashamed, really and my thought now is to revive my blog, bring it back to life, put new ligt on new and old sites, tell you abou my travels to existing places and places that I visit that may or may not be on the list. Welcome back!

Here’s the list of new sites for this year and in some cases some short comments from me. Mostly personal comments. Let’s go!

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Water lilly in Okavango Delta in Botswana.

The following cultural properties have been inscribed on the World Heritage List

  • Bolgar Historical and Archaeological Complex, Russian Federation – medieval city of Bolgar is part of this site on the shores on Volga River. I’d like to go there some day. Do I dare go to Russia? I’m not sure right now.
  • Bursa and Cumalıkızık: the Birth of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey – City of Bursa, a part of Ottoman empire. Turkey has for a long time been on my want-to-go-to-list.
  • Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey, Germany – Looks nice, looks tempting, maybe not impossible soon.
  • Caves of Maresha and Bet-Guvrin in the Judean Lowlands as a Microcosm of the Land of the Caves, Israel – Tempting, interesting, but as long as the political situation looks the way it does, I can only dream.
  • Decorated Cave of Pont d’Arc, known as Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc, Ardèche, France – Nice caves with prehistoric art. I’m interested in ancient times, caves and ancient drawings, so yes, this sounds very interesting.
  • Erbil Citadel, Iraq – great citadel in the city of Erbil. Looks interesting, but as long as Iraq is not too stable I’m not going to travel there.
  • Historic Jeddah, the Gate to Makkah, Saudi Arabia – gate to Mekkah sounds like a very interesting place. It’s probably important to many as well. For me it will wait until the political situation in the area is more stable.
  • Monumental Earthworks of Poverty Point, USA – 19th century plantations in the Mississippi Valley in a place that has been used for over 2000 years. Interesting and yes, I want to visit it.
  • Namhansanseong, South Korea – was designed as an emergency capital for the Joson dynasty (1392–1910), in a mountainous site 25 km south-east of Seoul. Its earliest remains date from the 7th century. I’d like to visit this one as well.
  • Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir, Palestine – The Battir hill landscape comprises a series of farmed valleys, known as widian, with characteristic stone terraces, would be nice to visit, but…
  • Pergamon and its Multi-Layered Cultural Landscape, Turkey – monumental temples, theatres, stoa or porticoes, gymnasium, altar and library were set into the sloping terrain surrounded by an extensive city wall. Yes, please!
  • Precolumbian Chiefdom Settlements with Stone Spheres of the Diquís – Costa Rica – nature and archeology. Four archaeological sites located in the Diquís Delta in southern Costa Rica, which are considered unique examples of the complex social, economic and political systems. I loved Costa Rica, so I’d like to see this one as well.
  • Pyu Ancient Cities, Myanmar – Pyu Ancient Cities includes the remains of three brick, walled and moated cities of Halin, Beikthano and Sri I’d like to travel moer in Asia, so this one is very possible as well.
  • Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System, Argentina , Bolivia (Plurinational State of) , Chile , Colombia , Ecuador , Peru – This site is an extensive Inca communication, trade and defence network of roads covering 30,000 km. May’be I’ll travel part of them one day.
  • Rani-ki-Vav (the Queen’s Stepwell) at Patan, Gujarat, India – Rani-ki-Vav, on the banks of the Saraswati River, was initially built as a memorial to a king in the 11th century AD. Stepwells are a distinctive form of subterranean water resource and storage systems on the Indian subcontinent. I don’t know. India has always been a place I’d like to go to and something that can wait till later.
  • Shahr-i Sokhta, Iran – Shahr-i Sokhta, meaning ‘Burnt City’, is located at the junction of Bronze Age trade routes crossing the Iranian plateau. Both yes and no, I’d love to see Iran, but I’m not sure if it’s safe enough righ now.
  • Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor, China , Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan – a 5,000 km section of the extensive Silk Roads network, stretching from Chang’an/Luoyang, the central capital of China in the Han and Tang dynasties, to the Zhetysu region of Central Asia.The Silk Roads has been a dream for a long time.
  • The Grand Canal, China – The Grand Canal is a vast waterway system in the north-eastern and central-eastern plains of China, running from Beijing in the north to Zhejiang province in the south. I’ve been wanting to go to China for a long time, so why not.
  • Tomioka Silk Mill and Related Sites, Japan – a historic sericulture and silk mill complex established in 1872 in the Gunma prefecture north-west of Tokyo. Japan is also on my most-wanted-list.
  • Van Nellefabriek, Netherlands – Van Nellefabriek was designed and built in the 1920s on the banks of a canal in the Spaanse Polder industrial zone north-west of Rotterdam. Looks rezlly cool. Too bad I missed it last time we were in Holland.
  • Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato, Italy – This landscape covers five distinct wine-growing areas with outstanding landscapes and the Castle of Cavour, an emblematic name both in the development of vineyards and in Italian history. Sounds really nice.

The following natural properties have been inscribed on the World Heritage List

  • Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area, India – This National Park in the western part of the Himalayan Mountains in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh is characterized by high alpine peaks, alpine meadows and riverine forests. Forget what I said about India. I’d love to see it.
  • Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, Philippines – a mountain ridge running north-south along the Pujada Peninsula in the south-eastern part of the Eastern Mindanao Biodiversity Corridor, the Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary has an elevation range of 75–1,637 m above sea level and provides critical habitat for a range of plant and animal species. I was to Philippines ones. I loved its nature and I’d love to visit this one.
  • Okavango Delta, Botswana – This delta in north-west Botswana comprises permanent marshlands and seasonally flooded plains. It is one of the very few major interior delta systems that do not flow into a sea or ocean, with a wetland system that is almost intact.Been there, seen it, agree! And I’d love to go back!
  • Stevns Klint, Denmark – This geological site comprises a 15 km-long fossil-rich coastal cliff, offering exceptional evidence of the impact of the Chicxulub meteorite that crashed into the planet at the end of the Cretaceous, about 65 million years ago. Denmark is not too far from me, so it’s possible.

The following mixed property has been inscribed

  • Trang An Landscape Complex, Viet Nam – on the southern shore of the Red River Delta, Trang An is a spectacular landscape of limestone karst peaks permeated with valleys, some of which are submerged, and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs. I loved Viet Namn when I was there and I’d love to go back.

The Committee also approved extensions for the following sites

 

Many new sites, few updated. Well, I think it’s time to travel again!

 

//Monika

 

 

 

 

 

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Namib Desert and Sea, keep your heart warm

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Welcome back! I missed our blog while I enjoyws the summer and vacation. Any new sites I visited? Actually only one, Edinburgh. We went to Scotland with Edinburgh, Glasgow an Islay. More about that trip later, now let’s look at Namibian desert and sea. It’s a new UNESCO world heritage site and one of my favourite on the list.

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Desert has its creatures, this is desert zebra

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Where the desert meets the sea

I visited Namibia together with a friend during three weeks in December 2010 and January 2011. I’ve written about it in three -part story in following posts: part one, part two, part three. This part is only about Namibia, its desert, its sands, its sea, its wonderful nature and its great people. Namibia welcomed us with warmth and calmness and during the entire time in Namibia I felt calm and happy.

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Sand, sand, sand, where doeas desert end and the beach begins?

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Definetly the beach, or desert

We saw and visited different kinds of deserts here. Grey sand, yellow sand, red sand, white sand. We saw sand dunes and rock desert. In Swapkomund, on Africa’s East coast we saw the sea and its creatures. We saw few flamingos, other water birds, playful seals, we ate shrimps and sea food and we interacted with local people, among them women traditionally dressed in cow-hats.

Going to Swapkomund was interesting. We travelled through the desert for hours. suddenly the desert became a beach, just by the sea. Where is the border? What is the desert? What is beach?

We also saw Himba people, that live closed to the nature, keeping their old traditions and customs. We actually visited a Himba-camp and were welcomed there by the people living there. We were shown their way of living and their customs. Some guys in our group found this quite disturbing and uncomfortable, like going to a zoo with people, but I see it as a wat to connect and actually understand that the other people might be different, but are also people, like everybody else. Understanding and connecting.

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Desert is not as deserted, as you think

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Fish River Canyon, no sea, only desert

On the New Years Eve we visited Fish River Canyon, worlds second largest canyon after Grand Canyon. The desert here was more stony, but still very dry and very, very beautiful. T first there was cloudy and rain in the air, we almost gave up the thought of a sunset, but then the clouds just split and we got to view the most magical sunset over the canyon.

Some of the places we visited actually had some rain, like Fish River Canyon. Others haven’t had any rain since lat year in February and others for the last five years. But even if there was no rain the desert was very much alive. There were insects, spiders, lizzards and snakes. We went out with a guide and watched different signs of desert creatures.

The desert was also filled with all the different plants. There were trees with just few small leaves on top, there were bushes that were poisonous and other bushes that moved with the wind. We saw dry plants that opened up and spread their seeds when they were hit buy a drop of water and then went to sleep until the next rain. Desert is very much alive.

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Dune 45

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More dunes

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Dune 45 again

We also visited the red sand dunes and climbed up on Dune 45. They are numbered in order and they actually move in the wind. They change shape and position a little sometimes. Climbing the dunes is not easy. For every step up you glide two steps down. It’s easier without the shoes. Finally we made it and saw a magical sunrise.

By the dunes we saw huge crows. They were black with white collars and were waiting for food from tourists probably.

In the desert there are also some mammals. There are desert elephants that live here. We haven’t seen any, but we saw few desert zebras. They are a little bit different that the usual zebras. I’m not sure if I could see the difference, but our guides could.

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Desert, no rain here

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Evening in the desert

We visited a part of Namibia called ;oon landscape. It was a stony desert, a bare landscape, that is pretty big, pretty amazing and very pretty. It’s like being on a different planet.

All the different parts of Namibia were like different planets, many different planets.

We met another people group in the desert, Bushmen. They communicate with click-sounds and live in small huts out in the desert. They live of what the desert gives.

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Beautiful desert

We saw sand, mountains, rock, beach and sea. The desert showed us that it’s alive, just as the sea is very much alive. I’m impressed with Namibian desert it gave me warmth, live and happiness. The fesert is alive.

Link: Namib Sand Sea

My grade is five, five, five.

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

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Making Swords for the Army at Wira

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Some time ago I wrote a post about Engelsberg iron works, that is a world heritage site in the middle of Sweden. I mentioned another place in that post, namely Wira iron works, which I find as nice as the former one. So why is the former a world heritage site, but no the second one, nor the other places just like these two, that must also exist.

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Green surroundings

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Museum

Wira bruk or Wira iron works is a village and an historic iron works in Österåker, near Stockholm in Sweden. Wira bruk was founded around 1630. On the basis on a monopoly granted by a royal privilege it manufactured most of the rapiers and swords for the Swedish army into the mid 19th Century.

The royal privilege lasted until 1775, but the forge continued to supply weapons to the Swedish armed forces into the 19th Century and later manufactured civilian products, such as axes and scythes, into the mid-20th Century. Wira bruk is now a museum.

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Inside the smithy

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Inside the smithy

Sounds pretty much like Engelsberg, maybe even better, so why is only Engelsberg mentioned like special and unique? Is it because Wira is too close to Stockholm and someone wanted to spread the special places? I agree that today Engelsberg is better preserved, maybe due to the place being a wUNESCO World Heritage site. But back in the days life and work here were pretty similar.

The village looks pretty similar, they both have dark red houses where worker lived, both have a small museum, although the one at Wira is as interesting, both have an old smithy. The one at Wira is older and more destroyed by time, but you can visit it. Engelsberg have a mansion that is private and not possible to visit and Wira has iron workshop, where you can buy real iron stuf. From small hooks and can openers to larfe grills.

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Mysterious grave inside the smithy

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The water wheel

The both places are located by water and both places have water wheel. The mosquitos where larger at Engelsberg and we saw more frogs there, at least when we went there and Wira had more ducklings in the lake.  Wira have also Wira games at the end of each summer with dance, song and old music.

While being in Wira smithy we discovered an old, mysterious grave. Why is it here? Who was he? Why was he burried here and not, as others, by the church? Did he do anything wrong? It’s interesting, disturbing and I’ve been trying to find answers. Maybe one day I will find out.

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Beautiful red smithy

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In the village

I have no idea why the one is a world heritage, but not the other. I mean there is another site that contains over hundred old houses in another part of Sweden, several miles apart, so why not these?

I’ve been to Wira several times at least. It’s cute, picturesque and beautiful place. It’s perfect for a summer excursion with or without picnic and the museum is really interesting. Last time we were here we saw a family of duckling with mother duck and the previuos time we saw cows in the field behind Wira. So near city and in the nature.

//Monika

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How Green is Green? Costa Rica vs Bwindi in Uganda

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The daily prompt today is about jealousy and green eyes and the color green. The first part is not really my piece of cake, but I love green. I love the fresh color of spring grass, I love the green trees and I love green jungle with all its creatures, the tiny and the huge ones. The jealous part, well, I’ve been jealous sometimes. It’s mostly about someone else getting something that I want or going somewhere where I want to go. But life is too short to sit and be jealous. Let’s do something about it. Enjoy life, try to live it as best as you can.

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The jungle is green, so are its creatures

This post is about my trip to Costa Rica compared to my trip to Bwindi and Uganda. Green jungle in the both parts of the world. Green monsters (with black eyes living in the both jungles. Tiny creatures and huge creatures. Insects, birds, lizzards and wonderful monkeys and apes. The green world is wonderful.

My previous posts about Costa Rica are here and here, so I will not describe the trip. Let’s go for the green parts and compare to Bwindi. Are all the jungles the same? What is similar and what is not? My post about Bwindi and its gorillas is here.

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Tiny ants carying green leaves for their nest

 

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Green frog under a green leaf

Rain forest in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a green place, no questions about it. There is rain forest, plants grow on top of each other, the humidity is high and rain days many. A neighbour country, Nicaragua has desert, sand, draught. Unfair? Our guide said that it was due to Nicaragua cutting down it’s rain forest. When there is rain forest there is lots of humidity from its plants that drop down. From the water drops the clouds are created, since the air is warm, and clouds raise to the sky and fall down as rain. And so on. When you cut down the forest there is nothing to start the process, there is no homidity to drop from the trees and soon the cut down forest becomes a desert with only sun to make it worse.

Creatures of the forest

Costa Rica kept the forest and its creatures. Most of them are tiny. The biggest we saw was a crocodile. The are several types of monkeys and lizards and birds and turtles.

We saw tiny ants occupied with carying leaves. They are using them in their nests. Pretty cool sight. We saw also small green frogs under the leaves. There are also poisonous frogs, but we didn’t see them and they are not green.

There were many birds in Costa Rica, but only the tiny humingbirds were green. And fast.

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Even the tiny hummingbirds are green

Bwindi impenetrable forest in Uganda

Now let’s go to Uganda, from Latin America to Africa, from tiny creatures to bigger onces, from rain forest to impenetrable forest. And still green, still wonderful and still warm. The jungle here is dense, it’s situated high in the mountains, so the hiking is hard, very hard.

Bwindi in Uganda, or Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, is a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the few places on this planes where there are gorillas. They are not green, but black, their eyes are black as well and these are not monkeys, but apes. And huge. The silverback that we saw weights about 250 kilos. Imagine a creature like that climb trees. And they do, pretty fast.

 

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The jungle in Bwindi is green as well

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The black beast hiding in the jungle

Creatures of the forest

Other creatures of the forest are not as green and tiny as in Costa Rica either. We passed killer ants. The forest rangers told us to RUN when we encountered them. They bite hard, over and over again until they or you die. Not so nice.

There are also chimps, elefants buffaloes and other large animals in Bwindi, but we saw only gorillas. And the ants. And pretty many mosquitoes. I would say that the creatures of Bwindi are more dangerous and deadly that the onces in Costa Rica and not as green.

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Green jungle, black gorilla

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Beauty and a beast in one

What is better

I loved Costa Rica and I loved Bwindi. They are both better, both are worth visiting, both are green. Let’s say: green is better. Green is life, green is hope. Jealousy? Let’s give it another color. Green is too good.

Over and out.

//Monika

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Green-Eyed Monster.

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Proud Masai Warriors

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Last year in July we visited Kenya and Uganda. We saw several World Heritage sites, like Rift Valley Lake system, Kasubi Tombs in Uganda and Bwindi Impenetrable forest. It was both nature and  culture, gorillas, hippos and Bugandi kings. It was educational and interesting. But meeting Masais, although it’s not a world heritage was interesting, exciting and very nice experience. They are the people who choose to live in symbiosis with nature, in simple huts. They hunt, they have cattle and goats and they just live, like they always used to.

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Masai warriors performing a traditional dance

We were previously told that Masais don’t want to be photographed. The explanation we were given was that some believed that we were stealing their souls. Maybe, maybe not. But it was OK if we previously payed and visited them in their village. Well, whatever the reason and explanation I’m not surprised. I would also be very unconfortable if everyone poited a camera at me, just because I had colourfull, traditional garments. And I would come up with an explanation, that at least some people, would respect. I admit that I took a photo or two in secret, and other people on the tour did as well, but we never put cameras in their faces.

When visiting the Masai village in Masai Mara we were allowed to take as many photos as we liked and ask as many stupid question. Happy hour for happy tourist.

Masais were traditionally dressed as they usually are, they were tall and gracefull and very friendly. They treated us with respect and accepted our cameras, our curiosity and our, sometimes strange, questions.

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A Masai next to a hut

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A Masai kid

The Masai warriors started with showing us a traditional dance. There was a lot of jumping, very high. I still don’t know how they do it, but they reach great highs from standing still, like there was no gravitation. Very fascinating.

There was also a kid running around the village. He abserved the dance and we all could see that he was learning. In a few years he also is going to be jumping, like the others.

After the dance it was time for women in the village to sing for us. They are as colourfull as the men and also short haired, but a little bit shorter. The little boy did not observe them as intensively, but he was running around with a stick. Future warrior.

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Jumping high

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Masai women

After dance and song we were divided in groups of two and went inside the huts. Why? To drink goats blood? No, Masai do that, we were just going to see the huts and talk to the warrior that the hut belonged to.

Our warrior was son of the chief, as several others, since the chief has several wifes and several children, and maybe future chief. He told us that not only humans, but sometimes also goats sleep in the hut. The village is moved every seven years, mostly because of the termites that destroy the houses. The Masais choose to move before the houses are destroyed and find a new place for a village.

We asked some questions and talked about their lifes. Very interesting. Finally we bought some necklaces. They looked like a lion tooth, but we were told that it was a soft rock, carved as tooth.

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Masai kid observes and learns

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One of the warriors and chief’s son

After visiting the hut we went out to the village again. The questions continued. Masais showed as a plant that was used as mosquito repellent and some other plants as well.

Finally the son of the chief showed us some fur. It was lion’s fur. Masais used to go out and hunt a lion to proove their manhood. Nowadays it’s a little bit different. Enough animals die because of the poachers, so Masais work as park rangers. When a lion has to be checked by a veterinary, or chipped, Masais help out and get to cut some of the hair from the fur. The tradition still lives, a little bit altered. Lions stay alive and happy and Masais as well.

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In colourfull garments

The visit in the village was indeed interesting and giving. I would for sure go again and see these friendly people.

People are never world heritage sites. Should they? I think so. Entire cultures should be protected as well. It has today become survival of the one with most money and biggest gun, not the fittest, smartest and most connected to the nature.

I’ve read lately that there are plans in Tanzania to throw out Masais from their land to build a hunting ground for rich, spoiled people who want to kill lions and leopards. (source: Avaaz) I hope it’s wrong, but money talks. I hope that it’s not going to become reality.

//Monika

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