After the dissolution of the Russian Federation, the parliament of Ukraine adopted the Act of Independence on August 24, 1991, finally declaring the country as an independent democratic state. The country was plunged into poverty but has slowly risen to rank as 38th in the world in terms of GDP estimated at $305.2 billion. It ranks as the 8th most visited country in Europe attracting more than 20 million tourists annually. It is the 44th largest country in the world and the second largest country in Europe. Its many regions are comprised of diverse geographic features ranging from highlands to lowlands. Its landscape consists of vast fertile plains (also called steppes) and plateaus crossed by picturesque rivers flowing southward to the Black Sea and the Sea of Asov.
The country undoubtedly has a lot to offer to tourists ranging from popular city destinations like Kiev, the country’s historical capital with its ancient churches, the harbor city of Odessa, Sevastopol and many more, to the Carpathian Mountains, popular among tourists for its ski resorts and as a major fishing and hunting destination. The Black Sea coastline is also a very popular summer destination, where the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, known for its palaces, villas and dachas, has made it a famous tourist destination in Eastern Europe. It is also home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites foremost of which is the grand St. Sophia’s Cathedral. With so much to offer, a tourist will be hard put to decide where to go. Fortunately, a variety of tours in Ukraine is offered at http://www.enjoy-ukraine.com/tours.htm where one can choose where they can go depending on their interest and their budget.
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Ecuador’s most famous attraction (and if you didn’t know they belonged to Ecuador, you’d best get back to third period Geography), the Galapagos Islands attract tourists from around the world, not to mention good old Charlie Darwin and Dave Attenborough!
This archipelago of evolutionary history belongs entirely to the Ecuadoreans, but they are located a whopping 600 miles away from the mainland. They became the nation’s first UNESCO World Natural Heritage site back in ’78, with the reasons being their utterly unique selection of flora and fauna (due to their isolation) and their importance in scientific history.
Nowadays, they attract visitors from all corners of the globe, from professional biologists to your average curious lover of all things nature.
Scuba Dive the Islands
One of the most popular activities to undertake on a Galapagos trip is to go scuba diving. There’s a small fleet of vessels which are specially outfitted for scuba tours, but we wouldn’t recommend going if you don’t have any experience – they’re mostly tailored for advanced divers.
Most of the equipment will be provided, but you’ll have to bring your own snorkels and fins, as well as your diving license (of course). Once you’re out there in the sea, you’ll forget everything except the moment. There are things down there that literally do not exist anywhere else on this blue planet of ours.
Tour by Foot
A whopping 97% of the entirety of the Galapagos Islands’ land is a National Park. The remaining 3% allows for human settlement, leaving the overwhelming majority entirely free from Homo sapiens inhabitants. The Islands have strict rules and regulations which all visitors must adhere to; for example, you can only visit them via certain authorised boats.
Land-based programmes are a good way of seeing as much of the Islands as you can in a short time. You stay in a hotel on one or two of the four inhabited islands and spend most of your time exploring those ones, as well as being ferried to some of the uninhabited ones.
You can also do a number of more traditional holiday activities, such as hiking, snorkeling, horse riding and mountain biking, as well as indulging in a little bird watching – Darwin’s finches are the ones which led him to his famed Theory of Evolution.
How to Get There
Getting to the Galapagos Islands is a fairly involved process. First of all, you’ll have to get to Ecuador, so it’s best to compare flight prices online. You will probably have to go via Madrid, ending up at either Quito (the capital) or Guayaquil.
From there, you’ll need to take a local flight to either San Cristóbal or Baltra. This should only take about 90 minutes. It’s rather more difficult to gain the licenses for a private flight, so go commercial – it’ll make life easier.
Once you’re there, you can get an inter-island flight from Isabela Island. In all other cases, you’ll have to use designated tour vessels to get around, as stated above.
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The World Heritage Committee added 19 new sites during their 37th session held in Cambodia from June 16 to 27. One of the sites included in the list is the beautiful, often snow-capped strato-volcano we all as Mount Fuji. It has inspired artists and poets alike and is represented in art dating back to the 11th century. It is an internationally recognized icon of Japan and has been the object of pilgrimages for centuries.
Trekkers swarmed to the site on July 1, the first day of the summer climbing season
The addition of the sacred mountain to the World Heritage Sites list has sparked renewed interest from international travelers and agencies. Just this Monday, hundreds of hikers trekked to Mount Fuji as it marked the beginning of climbing season. The climbers started to ascend the mountain as early as 3:00am hoping to catch sunrise at its summit. The climbers were numerous and they lit torches and walked in queues along the path that leads up to the summit.
The mountain has been worshipped in Japan for centuries and is considered a national symbol of Japan. In reaction to the new surge of interest in the iconic mountain, the Japan Travel Bureau Corp has announced a series of day trips for foreigners who can expect to be attended by English-speaking tour guides. The extra tourists may pose environmental problems. The Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures will collect entrance fees to the site on a trial basis this summer which they will spend on the preservation of the mountain. Previous to the enlistment, Mount Fuji attracts around 300,000 trekkers annually.
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This is the best year to visit Scotland when the country has just seen fit to dub 2013 as the “The Year of Natural Scotland.” The latest James Bond movie, “Skyfall” highlighted Scotland’s dramatic countryside and had James Bond hiding out in the country’s misty highlands. Among the events that the country has lined up for this year are: the Dumfries & Galloway Wildlife Festival 2013 (March 29-April 14); Heb Celt 2013 music festival (July 17-20); Scottish Food and Drink Fortnight (September 7-22); and The Open Championship golf tournament (July 14-21). An interesting attraction that was just recently announced is the Gore-Tex Scottish Natural Trail which runs from the English border to Cape Wrath. The trail travels through pristine lochs and glens and follows already existing routes such as the West Highland Way and Rob Roy Way.
There are a variety of attractions that Scotland has to offer. The history and heritage of Scotland alone will probably take up your entire stay in the country. Castles and fortresses pepper its scenic countryside. These castles provide a fascinating window to Scotland’s amazing past such as the Edinburgh Castle, the Stirling Castle, the Eilean Donan Castle and many more. There are also cathedrals, abbeys, and museums where you can sense the heritage and history of this beautiful country.
Each of the country’s regions has plenty of attractions that any traveler will find interesting. Argyll and the Isles have a variety of historic monuments, museums, galleries and gorgeous gardens worth exploring. Some of these historic places are Inveraray Castle, the stronghold of the Clan Campbell since the time of King Robert the Bruce. The beautiful Benmore Botanic Garden situated on the Cowal Peninsula is likewise steeped in history and is magnificently surrounded by dramatic scenery. The Scottish Sealife Sanctuary found on the banks of Loch Creran is a perfect destination for families where children are sure to enjoy the various sea creatures in the area being fed by the staff of the sanctuary.
The Ayrshire & Arran regions have the usual castles, fantastic boat trips and museums to offer. Explore the lochs and islands of Arran, Cumbrae and nearby Bute on board the classic P.S. Waverley which has been restored to its former glory. The Dean Castle and Country Park in Kilmarnock is also a must-see for the erstwhile traveler. Historical objects are found among its world-class collections. Children will surely enjoy the playground and the pets’ corner located in the grounds of the park.
The Kingdom of Fife has a variety of attractions to offer from museums to aquariums, a war bunker and a few animal parks. UK’s underwater viewing tunnel at Deep Sea World allows tourists to dive with sand tiger sharks, explore the seal sanctuary and just watch the beautiful coral reefs. At St. Andrew’s Aquarium, there are interactive demonstrations where you can enjoy feeding the seals or view creatures such as black tip reef sharks, poison dart frogs, piranhas, seahorses, lobsters and meerkats. Scotland’s Secret Bunker is a 100-ft underground bunker where you will see three-ton blast proof doors and watch how the bunker would be used in the event of a nuclear war.
Safaris, historic attractions and the great outdoors are just some of the things you will find in Loch Lomond, the Trossachs and the Forth Valley. Doune Castle near Stirling and the Callendar House in Falkirk are just some of the historic buildings that can be found in the region. Not to be missed is the Blair Drummond Safari and Adventure Park where the whole family can enjoy seeing lions, tigers, giraffes, elephants and watch the sea lion show. Start your tour of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park at the David Marshall Lodge Visitor Center near Aberfoyle where you can also enjoy the high wires, zip wires and ladders.
Finally, travel to Edinburgh and the Lothians region and see Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begin with the world-famous Edinburgh Castle which sits on an extinct volcano overlooking the city. View the Scottish Crown Jewels or be fascinated with the Scottish National War Museum found within the castle walls. Discover life in Edinburgh 100 years ago by visiting Mary King’s Close. A Victorian observatory on the Royal Mile is aptly called Camera Obscura and World of Illusions which will take you to a tour of the city’s history. Take a glimpse at the private lives of royalty via the Royal Yacht Britannia which once upon a time took the British Royal Family on a tour around the world.
Aside from the heritage and history that can be found in Scotland, there are art and culture attractions such as galleries and cinemas, events and performances and other cultural attractions that any traveler is sure to enjoy. Science exhibits and industrial centers are just some of the technology attractions in Scotland. And of course, thousands of bars, cafes and restaurants allow you to discover the gastronomic delights that this beautiful country has to offer.
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A sixth site of major importance to ecotourism in the Philippines is the Apo Reef Natural Park. It contains Apo Reef, the largest contiguous coral reef in the island republic and the second largest such reef in the world. The park consists of three islands, the largest of which is the Apo Island and is located in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro in Southern Luzon. The two other islands that make up the park are Binangaan Island and Cayos Del Bajo Island.
Acclaimed as one of the best diving sites in the Philippines, and some would say the best in Asia, the Apo Reef has been submitted for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in a continuing effort to preserve its raw beauty. The 34-square kilometer Apo Reef is also considered the second largest atoll-reef in the country and consists of two separate coral reefs separated by a 30-meters deep channel. The shallow lagoon found on the island is surrounded by mangroves which serve as a food-source, a nursery and spawning grounds for several marine and coastal species of fauna. The deep channel has a sandy white bottom where patches of branching corals abound. There are about 500 different types of corals in the area. Almost the same number of fish inhabits these waters. Fishing within the reef has been banned and was declared a protected area in 1996. Marine life includes sharks, manta and stingrays and you do not need to go too deep to see these beautiful creatures up close.
The Apo Reef is essentially a submerged lagoon system with two shallow wrecks. The underwater terrain of the area is interesting and consists of coral walls, caves and drop-offs. The presence of the ship wrecks makes the dives a bit more interesting. Wall diving is all the more interesting because of the magnificent corals that abound there. Gorgonians, Napoleon wrasse, parrotfish and thousands of other reef creatures that swim in and out of the crevices of the rock formations makes diving in the area extremely pleasurable. The eastern side of the reef may provide you a closer look at larger sea creatures such as manta rays and sharks which has been aptly name shark ridge precisely because of the presence of these elegant marine mammals.
The park has numerous diving sites. Apo Island is perfect for viewing hard and soft corals, turtles and other big fishes. Hunters Rock is a huge coral wall located about 14kms west of Apo Island. It is a sheer drop that attracts a variety of big fishes. Merope Rock is a vast group of corals where sharks, big-eye trevallies and barracudas are spotted frequently. Shark Ridge is popular as a perfect site for encounters with white and reef-tipped sharks, barracudas and other pelagic species. Binangaan Drop-Off is a diving wall where Gorgonians, hump-head parrot fish, tuna; groupers and snappers are often seen darting in and out of the crevices within these amazing formations. A wide variety of marine fauna from colorful corals to small reef fishes can be sighted off the Coast of Pandan Island.
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