Victoria Falls, Zambia

>> Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wonder: Victoria Falls
Country: Zambia
Region: Livingstone
Visitable: Yes
The Victoria Falls is one of the best spectacular natural wonders of the world, also called “Mosi-oa-Tunya” constitutes the largest curtain of water in the world into the Zambezi Gorge with its 1708 meters wide.
Wonder type: Natural Wonder National Wonder

The Victoria Falls is called “Mosi-oa-Tunya” by the local people, the smoke that thunders, and constitutes one of the best spectacular natural wonders of the world. With its 1708 meters wide became it in the largest curtain of water in the world also by its remarkable falls. The waterfall is situated in southern Africa on the Zambezi River between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. It boasts of being the largest waterfall in the world with the most unusual in form and having the most diverse and easily seen wildlife of any major waterfall site.
Mosi oa Tunya
The Victoria Falls still inspires visitors as it did with David Livingstone in the 1860s. The falls and surrounding area of this remarkable preserved natural state have been declared National Parks and a World Heritage Site, thus preserving the area from excessive commercialization.
During the flood season from February to May is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face, and the walks along the cliff opposite it are in a constant shower and shrouded in mist. The minimum flow occurs in November.
Two cities are part of Victoria Falls: at the eastern end of it, Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe lies on the southern bank of the Zambezi River and at 18km south of town, Victoria Falls Airport has international services to Johannesburg and Namibia. The second city, Livingstone in Zambia is a historic colonial city and tourism centre for Victoria Falls lying 10km south on the Zambezi River. Its airport has connections to Lusaka and Johannesburg in South Africa.
Victoria Falls - Livingstone
Victoria Falls - Livingstone side
Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia is an UNESCO World Heritage site along is twinned to the Victoria Falls National Park in Zimbabwe. It covers 66km2 from below the falls in a north-west arc along about 20km of the Zambian river bank.
Both Parks contain abundant wildlife including sizable population of elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, vervet monkeys, baboons and a variety of antelope. Lion and leopard are occasionally seen. The river above the falls contains large populations of hippopotamus and crocodile. Klipspringers and clawless otters can be glimpsed in the gorges, but they are mainly known for 35 species of raptors. The Taita Falcon, Black Eagle, Peregrine Falcon and Augur Buzzard breed there. Above the falls, herons, Fish Eagles and numerous kinds of waterfowl are common. The most notable aspect of the area's vegetation though is the rainforest nurtured by the spray from the falls, containing plants rare for the area such as pod mahogany, ebony, ivory palm, wild date palm and a number of creepers and lianas.
Some activities can be undertaken such as the “Flight of Angels” providing an superb vista of the falls, the upstream river and its many islands. For more adventurous the “Microlighting” with stunning views of Victoria Falls. Rafting is the most popular adventure. Visitor can also kayak, canoe, go on guided walking safaris, ride on horseback and lunch on Livingstone’s Island.
The Devil´s Swimming Pool is a famous feature naturally formed, near the edge of the falls, accessed via Livingstone Island. People can swim as close as possible to the edge of the falls without continuing over the edge and falling into the gorge due to a natural rock wall that stops their progress despite the current.


The Great Barrier Reef , Australia

Country: Australia
Region: Queensland
Visitable: Yes

It is the largest Corals Reef of the world and is the only collective organism that can be seen from the orbit of the Earth.
Wonder type: Natural Wonder Underwater Wonder

This wonderful corals reef is the only live collective organism that can be seen from the orbit of the Earth. The Great Barrier Reef is an amazing site of extraordinaire beauty located in the northeastern coast of Australia, where it can find almost all corals species of the world. It is the largest corals ecosystem of the planet and without doubt one of the most beautiful places of the Earth.
This place is named thus; because is an outer reef located along the Australian coast, but with a channel between the continental coastline and the reef whose depth is around 60 meters. This Reef has over 1000 islands, most of them encircled by coral reefs; these islands are the home of a great number of animals and forests; therefore these islands are one of the main attractions of the Great Barrier Reef. The Barrier Reef is composed by around 9000 islands and 2800 individual reefs, it spreads along 2600 Kilometers, occupying almost 344 400 square kilometers. Each individual reef has a size between 1 and 10 000 hectares. Besides, this marvelous ecosystem hosts also around 400 coral species, 1500 fish species, 4000 kinds of mollusk and several mammals and reptiles endangered such as the large green turtle or the dugong (also known as sea cow). There is also a great population of birds in the islands. Because of this variety Australia owns one of the richest seas of the world; therefore the country receives every year around one billion dollars thanks to the fishing industry.
The great variety and number of corals in this site is due to the ideal conditions of temperature and light of this region of the planet. The shallow and warm waters (around 18 ºC and 30 meters depth) of the zone combined with the sunshine that illuminates these waters during the entire year provide a perfect environment for the development of corals, which created also an ideal ambient for the other species that inhabit the ecosystem.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most beautiful underwater spectacles of the world; therefore is a true paradise to do scuba diving. This activity is also the best way to know the Great Barrier Reef. Diving in this natural wonderful is the opportunity to enter into an amazing universe of color, created by the abundant marine life. The reef looks like an endless set of gardens in bloom under ocean.
Unfortunately like most underwater paradises of the world, the Great Barrier Reef has been affected by the human contamination, which comes mainly of the rivers of the northeastern Australia, which transport to the ocean the remains of the fertilizers and pesticides used by the farmers. These chemical residues cause the decreasing of the oxygen in the water killing many corals and other species. The over fishing is also a great threat for the balance of the ecosystem.


This natural wonder was born around 18 million years ago. In that time Australia had for first time a coastline with water temperatures that allowed a new range of live, including tropical reef building-corals. This environmental change was caused by the separation of the territory of Australia of the ancient Gondwanaland territory that was composed by Australia, Antarctica and South America. The modification in the ambient conditions generated also the evolution of the continental species that inhabited Australia before the continental separation; producing new tropical species.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef
The most important growing period of the corals reefs occurred two million years ago; since then the periodic glacial ages have lowered the sea level several times, this fact caused the exposition of the reef and the massive died of corals, leaving limestone hills instead of the colorful corals reefs. Nevertheless, once glacial period finished the sea level rises again and new corals polyps form new reefs, completing the life cycle. Many thousands of generations of dead corals, have constructed themselves with their skeletons, walls stones, which were covered by a great variety of new organisms.
The Australian aborigines that arrive to Australia around 40 000 years ago, were the first human that had contact with the Great Barrier Reef. They fished in this zone since ancient times. Nevertheless, the first historical registers about this natural wonder, dates from the XVI century, when a Portuguese expedition reached the eastern coast of Australia in 1522. Later, several expeditions of different Europeans countries, like the Dutch expedition led by Willem, explored during long time the Australia’s coasts. But, the Great Barrier was really known by Europeans only after June 1770 when the Bark Endeavour which was under rules of the captain James Cook, struck the Great Barrier Reef ; therefore the crew was forced to stay 6 weeks in the region where now is the modern city of Cooktown, to repair the ship. Thanks to this accident, the scientists that composed the Endeavour crew (Daniel Solander and Joseph Banks) had the opportunity to study the Reef. After this voyage, the international scientific community knew the existence of the Barrier Reef.
During the next decades the Barrier was extensively studied by several expeditions led by explorers such as William Bligh, Mathew Flinders or the Hydrographer Philip Parker King, who accurately charted most part of the northern Reef in 1820. Nevertheless, the studying of the Barrier was almost completely abandoned the rest the XIX century and many islands of the Barrier Reef were used as deposits of guano or to built lighthouses. Only in the XX century the scientific community began to study seriously this place. In 1922 was created the Great Barrier Reef Committee, which was the first association that studied detail the Great Barrier Reef, since then, several efforts to study and protect this place have been done.
In 1975 the Australian Government created the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, whose management is responsibility of the Queensland Government and the National Government. The authorities of the Park have established an administration program that includes management plans, education programs, permits and incentives to protect the Natural Reserve, etc. In 1981, the Great Barrier Reef was declared World Heritage by UNESCO, became the largest World Heritage area, covering 347 000 square kilometers. It is also considered by CEDAM one of the Wonders of the Underwater World.
In the last decades the Great Barrier Reef became an important tourist destination, mainly to the lovers of the scuba diving. Therefore, many tourist infrastructures has been built along the Queensland coastline to host the almost two million visitors that every year arrived to the zone, turning the tourism, the first economic activity of the region, generating around 5 billions dollars per year. The range of tourist services is very varied; there are boat tours, cruises, helicopter flights, underwater tours, etc.
Nevertheless, the management of the tourism in the Great Barrier Reef is very efficient and is oriented towards tourism ecologically sustainable; since, 20% of the incomes generated by visitors are used to the research and conservation of the Barrier Reef. However, the preservation of this natural paradise is a task that must be constant and it is a task for all people of the World.


Parícutin Volcano, Mexico

Wonder: Parícutin Volcano
Country: Mexico
Region: Michoacán
Visitable: Yes
Parícutin is a cinder cone volcano which from its birth of eruption between 1943 and 1952, it represented a dramatic period in the lives of Parícutin people, but like most cinder cones it will never erupt again.
Wonder type: Natural Wonder National Wonder

Parícutin is a cinder cone volcano in the Mexican state of Michoacán, close to a lava-covered village of the same name. It is part of the Michoacán-Guanajuato Volcanic Field which covers much of west central Mexico.
Dioniso Pulido, a Tarascan farmer, along with his wife and their son witnessed the initial eruption of ash and stones first-hand as they plowed the field, that began as a fissure in his cornfield. Much of the volcano's growth occurred during its first year, while it was still in the explosive pyroclastic phase. Nearby villages Paricutín (after which the volcano was named) and San Juan Parangaricutiro were both buried in lava and ash; the residents relocated to vacant land nearby.
View of Parícutin's crater
After one year, the volcano had grown 336 meters tall, for the next eight years it would continue erupting, but the activity would slowly decline. In 1952 the eruption ended and Parícutin went quiet, attaining a final height of 424 meters above the cornfield from which it was born. Like most cinder cones, it is a monogenetic volcano which means that it will never erupt again.
Parícutin is the youngest of more than 1400 volcanic vents in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and North America. Three people died as a result of lighting strikes caused by the eruptions, but no deaths were attributed to the lava or asphyxiation.
During the active phase of Parícutin volcano, shots were included in the film Captain from Castile by the 20th Century Fox’s, released in 1947.
Actually two different elevation are attributed to Paricutín: 3170 meters by the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program and and 2774 meters by and along with GPS measurements on Google Earth.
The most recent volcano formed on the Western Hemisphere, from its birth of the eruption between 1943 and 1952, it has represented a dramatic period in the lives of Parícutin people, who losing crops, livestock and suffered substantial property damage during the natural disaster.


On the afternoon of February 20,1943, the farmer Dionisio Pulido in the state of Michoacán was readying hid fields for spring sowing , when he felt a thunder and the ground nearby opened in a fissure about 150 feet long. He recalled later, “the trees trembled, and is was then I saw how, in the hole, the ground swelled and raised itself 2 or 21/2 meters high, and a kind of smoke or fine dust–gray, like ashes–began to rise, with a hiss or whistle, loud and continuous; and there was a smell of sulphur. I then became greatly frightened and tried to help unyoke one of the ox teams”
Parícutin Volcano - Michoacán
Parícutin Volcano - Michoacán
A volcano was being born under the farmer’s feet, Pulido and the other witnesses fled. The next morning when he returned, the cone had grown to a height of 30 feet, hurling out rocks with great violence, and during the day the cone grew another 120 feet. At night incandescent bombs blew more than 1000 feet up into the darkness, and slaglike mass of lava rolled over Pulido’s cornfields.
Around the world the volcanic eruptions are commonplace, but the birth of an entirely new volcano of a distinct vent from the magma chamber, is genuinely rare. In historic times only two new volcanoes have appeared in North America, one of them Jorullo to west of Mexico in 1759. And 183 years later Parícutin was the second. Both rose in an area called Mexican Volcanic Belt which stretches about 700 miles from east to west across southern Mexico. The eruptive activity created a high and fertile plateau due to a layer of volcanic rock was deposited on it, according to geologists. This belt is the most populous region in Mexico during summer months.
Some 300 earthquakes shook the ground, a day before the volcano began to erupt, on February 19. Three days later with the cone rising and fiery skyrockets, the first of many geologists who would monitor and map Parícutin’s behaviour over the next nine years arrived. During the first year of violent, explosive growth and change, the cone topped 1100 feet fourt to fifth of its final height and almost all vegetation was destroyed due to the ash snowed on the city. Finally the lava destroyed the nearby villages, the next year to the most violent period, but most villagers had seen their livelihoods disappear long before that.
Lava flows continued with little interruption over the next years, and almost exactly nine years after Parícutin was born, the volcano experienced its last major spasm of activity on February, 1952. By then, villages and farms had been relocated with government assistance.


Mount Everest, Nepal

Wonder: Mount Everest
Country: Nepal
Region: Sagarmatha
Visitable: Yes
The Mount Everest is part of the Himalaya range in High Asia and with its 8.848 meters is the highest mountain on earth. It also called Chomolungma, Qomolangma or Zhumulangma.
Wonder type: Natural Wonder National Wonder

The Mount Everest, the highest mountain on earth with 8.848 meters above sea level, is part of the Himalaya range in High Asia and is located on the border between Sagarmatha Zone, Nepal and Tibet, China. It is called Sagarmatha, Chomolungma, Qomolangma or Zhumulangma. Name in Nepal is Sagarmantha which means “goddess of the sky” and the name in Tibet is Chomolungma which means “mother goddess of the universe”.
Around 1856 when the Great Trigonometric Survey of India established the height of Everest 8,840 m, the mount was known as Peak XV. In 1865 upon recommendation of Andrew Vaugh, the British Surveyor General of Indi, the English name was official “Everest”. He was unable to purpose a local name in common for Nepal and Tibet people however Chomolungma had been use by Tibetans for centuries.
Amazing Mount Everest
The Mount Everest attracts climbers of all levels, from experienced to novice climbers which willing to pay substantial sums to professional mountain guides to complete a successful climb. The mountain still has many inherent dangers such as altitude sickness, weather and wind. In spite of that information by the end of the 2007 climbing season, there had been 3679 ascents to the summit by 2436 individuals, which this means climbers are a significant source of the Nepal tourism. The government requires to prospective climbers to obtain an expensive permit, coasting up to $25,000 per person. Everest has claimed 210 lives, including eight who perished during a 1996 storm high on the mountain.


The discovering occurs when the British began the Great Trigonometric Survey of India to determine the location and names of the highest mountains, using giant theodolites (500kg) around 1808. They reached the Himalayan foothills by the 1830s in spite of Nepal was unwilling to allow them to enter the country due to suspicious of political aggression and a possible annexation, so several requests by the surveyors to enter Nepal were turned down. They were forced to continue their observations from Terai a region south of Nepal, but the conditions were difficult due to torrential rains and malaria, three survey officers died from malaria and the two others had to retire due to health hazard.
Mount Everest
Mount Everest
In 1847, Andrew Waugh made a number of observations from Sawajpore station at the time Kangchenjunga was considered the highest peak in the world. He noted a peak beyond it, some 230km away, but he doesn’t the only one John Armstrong, one of the officials saw the peak and called it peak “b”. However due to the great distance of the observations, closer observations were required for verification. The next year clouds thwarted all attempts to make closer observations of peak “b”. Finally then numerous calculations in March 1856 Waugh declared to Kangchenjunga with 8582m and Peak XV was given the height of 8840m and concluded that the mountain was most probably the highest in the world.
The next challenge was clearly name the peak, the survey was anxious to preserve local names (Kangchenjunga and Dhaulagiri where local names) but Waugh argued that he was unable to find any commonly used local name because it was hampered by Nepal and Tibet being closed to foreigners at the time. Chomolungma was the best known local name in Tiber for several centuries but many local names existed too. Waugh argued that would be difficult to favour one specific name over plethora of local names and he decided that Peak XV should be named George Everest such as his predecessor as Surveyor General of India. But George Everest opposed the name suggested and told the Royal Geographical Society in 1857 that Everest could not be written in Hindi nor pronounced by “the native of India”. However the name prevailed despite the objections and in 1865 the name was officially adopted “Mount Everest” for the highest mountain in the world by the Royal Geographical Society.
Actually there are two main climbing routes, the southeast ridge from Nepal and the northeast ridge from Tibet as well many others less frequently climbed routes. The first route is technically easier, more used by climbers and it was the route used by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, the first recognized of fifteen routes to the top by 1996.

Ascent history

1885: Clinton Thomas Dent, president of Alpine Club suggested in his book Above the Snow Line that it was possible climbing Mount Everest.
1921: The first expedition was exploratory not equipped for a serious attempt to climb the mountain; it was leaded by George Mallory. They will must to descend due to unprepared for the enormity of climbing.
1922: The British returned. George Finch climbed using oxygen for the first time at a remarkable speed 290m per hour. Mallory and Col.Felix Norton made a second attempt where seven native porters were killed by an avalanche. Mallory was faulted for leading a group down. 1924: George Mallory and Andrew Irvine made and attempt on the summit via the North Col/Northeast Ridge route from which they never returned. In 1999 the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition found Mallory’s body on the North Face in a snow basin below and to the west of the traditional site of Camp IV. The mountaineering community has raged as to whether or not one or both of them reached the summit 29 years before the confirmed ascent of Everest by Sir Edmund and Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. In an effort to deploy the British Union flag at the top, Lady Houston a British millionaire funded the Houston Everest Flight of 1933.
1953: A ninth British expedition led by John Hunt returned to Nepal. Selecting two climbing pairs to attempt to reach the summit, Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans were the first pair and reach within 100m of the summit, but they turned back after becoming exhausted. Their caches of extra oxygen were a great aid to the following pair, the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay who two days later made its second and final assault on the summit. They reached the summit on 29 May 1953 at 11:30am via the South Col Route, pausing at the summit to take photographs and buried a few sweets and a small cross in the snow before descending.
1980: Reinhold Messner climbed during three days entirely alone from his base camp at 6500 m to finally reach the mountain summit for the first time without supplementary oxygen or support on the more difficult Northwest route via the North Col to the North Face and the Great Couloir.
1996: The deadliest year in Everest history, where fifteen people died trying to come down from the summit. 2005: The pilot Didier Delsalle of France landed a Eurocopter AS 350 B3 helicopter on the Mount Everest summit.
2008: China paved a 130km dirt road from Tingri County to its Base Camp and will become the highest asphalt-paved road in the world. A China Telecom cellular tower near the Base Camp provides phone coverage all the way to the summit.


Harbour of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Wonder: Harbour of Rio de Janeiro
Country: Brazil
Region: Rio de Janeiro
Visitable: Yes
The Harbour of Rio de Janeiro is a natural beauty surrounded by the city of Rio and formed by the Atlantic Ocean which wore out the soil and rocks along the coast.
Wonder type: Natural Wonder National Wonder
Rio de Janeiro Harbour is located on the south-western shore of Guanabara Bay, which is surrounded by the city of Rio along a strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the mountains: Sugar Loaf Mt, Corcovado Peak, and the hills of Tijuca. The harbour was formed by the Atlantic Ocean which wore out the soil and rocks along the coast.
Harbour of Rio de Janeiro at Night
The naked and lopsided mountain called Pao de Acucar evoked the sugarloaves fashioned on the island of Madeira, guarding the entrance to the bay. The highest mountain was called Corcovado “the hunchback” due to its humped profile. Nowadays a statue of Christ the Redeemer crowns the 2,300 foot-high peak.

The geology of this amazing place is admired by people who said: “God made the world in six days and on the seventh, he concentrated on Rio”. Its climate is wonderful and the beaches are free to everyone.


Rio de Janeiro Harbour
Harbour of Rio de Janeiro
Portuguese explorers named the Harbour of Rio de Janeiro as “the River of the First of January” because they were convinced that they had reached the mouth of a great river, when they gliding toward a narrow opening in the coastline on the New Year’s Day, 1502. They found beyond this entrance lay a body of water stretching 20 miles inland. French established a colony in 1555, but were expelled, so the population increased and the city grew larger. In 1960, the capital was changed to Brazilia.
Tamoio people named Guanabara or the “arm of the sea” so nearly five centuries later, both the native and European names persist. The large waterway was not a river; it was an island-studded bay that holds a roaring metropolis. Times ago it was a tropical wilderness teeming with tapirs and jaguars. And now, instead of caravels and dugouts, super-tankers and yachts glide across the magnificent balloon-shaped harbour of Guanabara Bay.
Today, the Harbour of Rio de Janeiro and the beaches are crowded and in some instances are polluted, but the natural beauty of Brazil’s mountains by the bay is unquestionable.


Grand Canyon, United States

Wonder: Grand Canyon
Country: United States
Region: Arizona
Visitable: Yes
The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided gorge carved over millennia through the rocks of the Colorado Plateau. Take time to enjoy its beauty and size, to sit and to watch the changing play of light and shadows over its vast spaces.
Wonder type: Natural Wonder National Wonder

The Grand Canyon more than an awe-inspiring view, is a colourful, steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River in northern Arizona, United States. The canyon is a great chasm carved over millennia through the rocks of the Colorado Plateau. It contains one of the first national parks in the US. President Theodore Roosevelt was a major proponent of preservation of the Grand Canyon area, visiting on numerous occasions to hunt mountain lion and enjoy the scenery.
The canyon was created by the Colorado River over a period of 17 million years according to the research released in 2008. With 446 km long, ranging in width from 6.4 to 29km and attaining a depth of more than 1.6 km. Six million years ago, the canyon started from the west, then another formed from the east, and the two broke through and met as a single majestic rent in the earth, it merger apparently occurred in the area known as the Kaibab Arch.
The area was inhabited by Native Americans who built settlements within the canyon and many caves. People considered it as a holy site. The first European, García López de Cárdenas arrived in 1540. In 1869, Major John Wesley Powell with a thirst for science and adventure, made the first recorded journey through the canyon as “leaves in a great story book”.
The Grand Canyon offers to visitors, amazing vistas on the rim which mean an unmatched throughout the world. In spite of not being the deepest canyon in the world, is known for its overwhelming size and its intricate and colourful landscape. These thick sequences of ancient rocks are beautifully preserved and exposed in the walls of the canyon. Also the Grand Canyon National Park is one of the world’s premier natural attractions with around five million visitors per year.
View of Grand Canyon
Colorado Plateau has been created by the movements of sediments thousands of feet upward. The higher elevation has resulted in greater precipitation in the Colorado River drainage area, but still not enough to change the semi-arid characteristic. The uplift of the Colorado Plateau is uneven, and the north-south trending Kaibab Plateau that Grand Canyon bisects is over a thousand feet higher at the North Rim than at the South Rim. Colorado River flows in a curve around the higher North Rim part of the Kaibab Plateau and closer to the South Rim part of the plateau is also explained by this asymmetry. The result is deeper and longer tributary washes and canyons on the north side and shorter and steeper side canyons on the south side. In addition the best views of the expanse of the canyon are from the North Rim, so temperatures and lower because of the greater elevation, but heavy rains are common on both rims during the summer months. The uplift has steepened the stream gradient of the Colorado River and its tributaries which has increased their speed and thus their ability to cut through rock due to the great depth of the Grand Canyon. During the ice ages, weather conditions increased the amount of water in the Colorado River drainage system. Approximately 5.3 million years ago the Gulf of Californian changed the base level and course of the Colorado River when it opened and lowered the river’s base level. About one million years ago, volcanic activity deposited ash and lava over the area, which at times completely obstructed the river, but these volcanic rocks are the youngest in the canyon.


Searching the fable Seven Cities of Cibola a group of Spanish explorers under orders from the conqueror Francisco Vásquez de Coronado arrived to the Grand Canyon. The Captain Garcia Lopez de Cardenas along the Hopi guides and a small group of Spanish soldiers travelled to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon between Desert View and Moran Point. Some of them descended some one third of the way into the Canyon, but they were forced to return because of lack of water. It is speculated that their Hopi guides known routes to the canyon floor but they must have been reluctant to lead them to the river. Afterward, no Europeans visited the Canyon for over two hundred years.
Grand Canyon - Arizona
Grand Canyon - Arizona
In 1776 Francisco Atanasio and Silvestre Vélez, two Spanish Priest, with a group of Spanish soldiers, explored southern Utah and travelled along the North Rim of the Canyon searching a route from Santa Fe to California in Glen and Marble Canyons. So they eventually found a crossing at present-day Lees Ferry. At the same year Fray Francisco Garces tried to convert an Indian group and spent a week near Havasupai.
In the 1850s Brigham Young gets to make good relations with local Native Americans and white settlers, he discovered Lee’s Ferry then he acted as a diplomat between Powell and the local native tribes to ensure the safety of his party. In 1858, John Strong Newberry probably was the first geologist to visit the Grand Canyon.
There was an interest in the region by its promise of mineral resources, mainly copper and asbestos in the late 19th century. Early residents soon discovered that tourism was destined to be more than mining so many of the early tourist accommodations were not much different than the mining camps from which they development.
In 1901 the railroad was extended from Williams, Arizona to the South Rim, and the formal tourist facilities increased dramatically. By 1905, a world class hotel on the canyon's edge, the El Tovar Hotel stood where it does today. The Fred Harvey Company, known throughout the west for hospitality and fine food, continued to develop facilities at Grand Canyon, including Phantom Ranch, built in the Inner Canyon in 1922.
On March 5, 2008 the federal officials started a flood in the Grand Canyon in hopes of restoring its ecosystem, which was permanently changed after the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1963.


Aurora, United States

Wonder: Aurora
Country: United States
Region: Alaska
Visitable: Yes
Natural colored light displays in the sky, usually observed in the polar zone at night. Often it appears as a greenish glow rising from an unusual direction extending in east-west.
Wonder type: Natural Wonder National Wonder

Aurorae are natural colored light displays in the sky which are usually observed in the polar zone at night. They occur in the ionosphere in this way some scientists call them “polar auroras”. The effect is known as the aurora borealis in northern latitudes, “Aurora” is for Roman goddess of dawn and “boreas” is for Greek name for north wind. Also called the northern polar lights because it is only visible in the Northern sky from the Northern Hemisphere and it most often occurs from September to October and from March to April. The Cree call it the “Dance of the Spirits”. In southern parts is called aurora australis or southern polar lights with similar properties, “australis” is the latin word for “of the south”.
Often it appears as a greenish glow or sometimes a faint red, as if the sum was rising from an unusual direction, generally it extends east-west direction. So it appears as curtains and some times they form “quiet arcs” and active aurora evolving and changing constantly. Each curtain consists of many parallel rays, each lined up with the local direction of the magnetic field lines such as the aurora is shaped by Earth’s magnetic field.
Aurora at dawn
Benjamin Franklin brought the attention to the “mystery of Northern lights” and theorized the shifting lights to a concentration of electrical charges in the Polar Regions intensified by the snow and other moisture.
The collision of charged particles from Earth’s magnetosphere, electrons, protons and heavier particles with atoms and molecules of Earth’s upper atmosphere produce the Auroras. The particles have energies of 1 to 100 keV, which originate from the sun and arrive so near to the Earth with a relatively low energy of the solar wind. Many factors influence in the color of the aurorae, most of them are green and red emission due to atomic oxygen, low level red and very high blue/violet aurorae are produced by molecular nitrogen and nitrogen ions. The ionic nitrogen produces light blue colors and the neutral nitrogen gives off the red and purple color with the rippled edges. In addition the interacting of gases, different compounds of oxygen and nitrogen with the upper atmosphere will produce different colors, and the level of solar wind activity from the sun can also influence in the color of aurorae.
Aurora frequency of occurrence is common in the Poles in temperate latitudes, when a strong magnetic storm temporarily expands the aurora oval. The most common large magnetic storms are during the peak of the eleven year sunspot cycle or during the three years after that peak. Actually the geomagnetic storms that ignite aurorae occur during the months around the equinoxes and are tied to Earth’s seasons while polar activity is not.
On August 28, 1859 and September 2, 1859 as a result of the “great geomagnetic storm” are produced the auroras, the most spectacular ever witnessed throughout recent recorded history. Probably the aurora was produced by one of the most intense coronal mass ejections in history, very near to the maximum intensity of the sun. Some telegraph lines seem to have been of the appropriate length and orientation which allowed a current to be induced in them and actually used for communication. The following conversation occurred between two operators around two hours using no battery power at all and working solely with the current induced by the aurora.

History of aurora theories

These theories are now obsolete, but some time ago has been proposed to explain the phenomenon.
Aurora Boreal - Alaska
Aurora Boreal - Alaska
  • Auroral electrons come from beams emitted by the sun, claimed by Kristian Birkeland around 1900; his experiments in a vacuum chamber with electron beams showed that such electrons would be guided towards the Polar Regions.
  • The aurora is the overflow of the radiation belt, “leaky bucket theory”. This was first disproved around 1962 by James Van Allen and co-workers.
  • The aurora is produced by solar wind particles guided by Earth’s field lines to the top of the atmosphere. Its true for the cusp aurora, but outside the cusp, the solar wind has no direct access.
Some of the best places to enjoy of this amazing natural wonder are:
  • Greenland during the winter months occupies the first position. With certainty the first place where these natural wonders were seen, towards 13th century.
  • Bear Lake in Alaska offers unique colors when the aurora reflects on its waters or almost always on its ice.
  • Fairbanks in Alaska near to Polar Arctic Circle and along with Denali National Park is considered such as one of the best places, because it counts with highest mountains and icebergs.
  • Murmansk in Rusia, is a port city located on the Kola Peninsula, near to Finland and Norway that converts to aurorae in the main tourist attraction of the region.
  • Iceland is a unique country with a very wide range of landscapes where we can appreciate the superb aurorae.
  • Yellowknife, a small community in Canada is a perfect place to feel the nature when the multicolored lights dye the sky.
  • Scandinavian legend said that the boreal aurora was caused by big ships of herrings jumping in the sky. So the magic is still around of this phenomenon and Norway converts itself in a touristic destination with its nights of safaris to contemplate the aurora, like Estonia which offers the aurora as the main tourist attraction over all between U.S people.
  • Finland with its own myth that explain to a fox running between clouds, it’ll be the cause of the wide range of colors in the sky. In this way we could enjoy of this spectacle even from an igloo.
  • An exceptional experience can be propitious from a ship to enjoy of aurora in the Michigan Lake, U.S.
But after seeing all these places on the Earth, we can consider that probably the best place where seeing an aurora boreal could be from the sky, flying near to Polar Circle. It will result an unusual and unforgettable view.


Teotihuacan , Mexico

Wonder: Teotihuacan
Country: Mexico
Region: Mexico DF
Visitable: Yes
Teotihuacan is the most visited archeological complex of Mexico. It is famous by its pyramids, which are amongst the highest pre-Colombian constructions of America
Wonder type: Man-made Wonder National Wonder

Teotihuacan is the most visited archeological complex of Mexico. It is located around 30 miles (48 Km) northeast Mexico City in the municipality of San Juan de Teotihuacan. Within this archeological complex are some of the largest pyramidal structures of America. The original name of the city was lost in the time as well as the name of the civilization that constructed the city. The current name “Teotihuacan” was given by the Aztecs and it has several interpretations, being the most accepted "place of the gods" or "place where one becomes a god".
The city is composed by many structures; burn there are five main elements: the Avenue of the Dead, the Pyramid of the Sun, the Pyramid of the Moon, the Ciudadela and the Feathered Serpent Pyramid.
View of Teotihuacan
The Avenue of the Dead is the main avenue of the city; it leads from the Moon Square to the Ciudadela, from north to south for more than 2.5 Km, dividing the city into two zones. The avenue is flanked by wonderful ceremonial buildings such as the Pyramid of Sun and Pyramid of Moon.
The Ciudadela (Citadel, named thus by Spanish who believed that it was a fort) is a great square (about 160 000 square meters) surrounded by several temples. It believes, that the Ciudadela was the religious and political center of Teotihuacan. The Ciudadela contains the Feathered Serpent Pyramid, a stepped pyramid which is one of the most impressive structures of the complex. It is dedicated to the Feathered Serpent or Quetzalcoatl one of the most important gods of the Mesoamerican culture.
The largest and most impressive structure of the Teotihuacan complex is definitely the great Pyramid of the Sun. This great structure has a base of 215 by 215 meters and it is 63 meters height. It is at the east of the Avenue of Dead in the northern part of Teotihuacan. It was originally composed by four stepped platforms a terraced platform and a superimposed temple; unfortunately the upper-most portion of the structure was totally destroyed. The excavation and reconstruction of this monument began at the beginning of the XX century by Leopoldo Batres
The Pyramid of the Moon is a beautiful building smaller than the Pyramid of the sun, located at the northern extreme of the Avenue of the dead. This Pyramid dates from 200 AD. This pyramid has a platform at top, which was used to do ceremonies in honor to Chalchiutlicue, goddess of the water and the moon.


The origin of this place and the civilization that built it is very mysterious; many archeologists think that it was a Toltec work. Nevertheless, the Toltec civilization reached its apogee long time after the Teotihuacan’s creation. Another theory proposes that the eruption of the Xitle volcano caused a massive emigration from the central valley to the Teotihuacan valley creating a new multiethnic culture; therefore; it believes that the city was inhabited by several different ethnic groups amongst them Otomi, Totonac, Nahua, Zapotec, Mixtec and Maya people. The evidence of this theory is the variety of architectural influences that it can see in the different areas of Teotihuacán.
View of Teotihuacan
View of Teotihuacan
The oldest building of Teotihuacan dates from the 200 BC while the great Pyramid of the Sun was finished around 100 AD. Teotihuacan reached its apogee from 150 to 450 AD being the largest city of America and the sixth of the world during its peak in the five century. The city hosted 150 000 inhabitants in its greatest splendor. There are evidences of cultural interchange between Teotihuacan and the centers Mayas during this period, like the architectural style of Teotihuacan (known as “talud-tablero”) which can be found dispersed in all Mesoamerica.
Teotihuacan was an industry center which produced pottery and jewelry; many tools of obsidian found in the city are evidences of this fact. There are not texts in Teotihuacan because apparently the inhabitants of this city did not know the writing. Nevertheless, Maya inscriptions found in Honduras and Guatemala refer to a great King that ruled over Tikal and Uaxactun who reigned in a city whose description fits very well with Teotihuacan’s description, which is another evidence of the great power and influence reached by Teotihuacan.
The collapse of the Teotihuacan’s civilizations occurred between the VII and VIII centuries. Initially scientists thought, Teotihuacan was invaded and destroyed by other civilizations like the Toltecs. Nevertheless, today there are evidences of a great internal rebellion against the high social class of the city. The decline of Teotihuacan would has been caused by climates changes which produced an agricultural disaster that caused hunger and despair among the population, weakening the power of the ruling class.
Then other cultural centers such as Cacaxtla, Xochicalco or Cholula took the power vacuum left by Teotihuacan. However, Teotihuacan was still a respected site, when Aztecs occupied the zone, they built a new city over the remains of Teotihuacan, but they considered Teotihuacan an important religious and ceremonial center. Aztecs were who created most mythical stories about the origin of Teotihuacan and its creators.
During the colonial period Teotihuacan was forgotten, like most pre-Colombian centers of the New World. But, the interest for this archeological center was reborn in the XX century, when the first archeological excavations began. Today, Teotihuacan is the largest and most famous pre-Colombian complex of Mexico and one of the most wonderful places of the world.


Temples of Bali, Indonesia

Wonder: Temples of Bali
Country: Indonesia
Region: Bali
Visitable: Yes
Bali is known as the Island of the Gods. This paradisiacal Islands has and endless number of Hindu temples, each one more beautiful than the other
Wonder type: Man-made Wonder National Wonder

Bali is a beautiful Island in Indonesia known as the “Island of the Thousand Temples” or the “Island of the Gods”, because of the great number of wonderful Hindu temples there are in the Island. It says that Bali has more temples than houses. Each village of Bali has several temples. Besides, each home in the Island has its own small temple. All Bali temples have a special orientation from the mountains and the sea.
Usually the temples of Bali are ornamented with an impressive and intricate set of carvings, mainly on the gateways. Besides, almost always a couple of magnificent stone statues are always saving the temples.
According to the Balinese tradition, the temples are the point of meeting amongst the humans and the gods. The temples are specially considered during some festival days or in the “odalan” (temple anniversaries). In these dates the temples are decorated to praise the gods. The word in Sanskrit for temple is “Pura”, which means “space surrounded by walls”.
In Bali each thing or activity has its own temple, there are village temples, family temples, rice fields temples, temples for animals, etc. Nevertheless the bigger Hindu temples on Bali are used only in special occasions. Most temples of Bali can be classified into these categories: Pura Puseh (origin temples), which are the most important and are reserved to the founders of villages (Balinese are worshipers of their ancestors). Pura Desa dedicated to protector spirits that guard the villagers. Pura Dalem (dead temple), where is venerate Durga the Shiva’s wife and deity of the dark and destruction. Besides, there are several temples dedicated to the spirits that protect the agriculture, these temples are known as Pura Subak
However, there are around 50 largest temples and only some of them are considered the most important of Bali, amongst them are:
Pura Tanah Lot, it is an impressive temple near the village of Beraban to 13 Km of Tabanan. The temple is suspended on a huge black volcanic rock in middle of the sea. The temple has only one tower and it is decorated by foliage spilling over the cliffs. The image of this temple remembers a beautiful Japanese bonsai. Tanah Lot like most sea temples of Bali is dedicated to the guardian spirits of the sea. According to the chronicles this wonderful temple was constructed by the priest Nirartha in the XIV century. It can walk to the temple only when the tide is low. This temple is opened only to Hindus and is closed for tourists.
Pura Besakih, it is the most important and holiest temple of Bali. It was originally dedicated to the god Gunung Agun (the mountain) since pre historical times. Currently the temple is a religious complex composed by around thirty sanctuaries; most of them were constructed between XIV and XVII centuries. An important feature of the temple is the great number of Merus (wooden buildings with pagodas as roofs). This temple was also a center of political power, between I and V centuries, the temple was the palace of the Geigel- Kiungkung dynasty. Now this temple is considered the “Mother Temple” of Bali and is very respected by all Bali citizens. The paramount sanctuary of the temple is the Pura Panataran Agung. The main inside patio hosts the Trisakti shrine, which is dedicated to the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Visnu and Siwa , which is very honored during the festivals that is also the most amazing time to visit the temple .
Pura Kehen, it is located at the south slope of Bangli hill, is one of the oldest temples of Bali. The temple saves some ancient manuscripts made on bronze. This sanctuary is the second largest temple of Bali. There are three patios in the temple, which are decorated with statues, wonderful carvings and are connected by stairs. Pura Kehen was founded in the XI century by Cri Brahma Kenuti Ketu. One of the most representative elements of the temple is old Banyan tree that is in the second courtyard.
Pura Ulun Danu Batur, it is located in the Batur village in the Kintamani district. It is the second most important temple of Bali after Pura Besakih. The temple is situated in a beautiful location at the Batur Lake at the foot of the Gunung Batur Volcano. The religious complex is composed by nine sanctuaries dedicated to Hindu gods like the goddess of the Batur lake, Dewei Danu or the God of the mountain Batu. The original temple was built in the XI century; unfortunately it was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1926. The current temple was reconstructed by the local people and has a notorious Chinese influence in its architectonic style.
Pura Uluwatu, it is another wonderful temple that combines perfectly the human art with the beauty of the nature. It is located at the western of the Bukit Peninsula. The temple is constructed at the top of a cliff 90 meters over the sea. There are not accurate registers about the age of this temple, but it is one of the most ancient of Bali. Pura Uluwatu like Tanah Lot is dedicated to the sea deities. The access to the temple is only allowed one at a time. Pura Ulawatu has three inner courts which are surrounded by coral stone. Besides, both the front and the inside halls are ornamented with stylized birds.
There are many other temples in Bali such as Lempuyang, Goa Lawah, Makori, Watukaru, Jagadnahata, Maospahit, Tirta Empul, Pengerebogan, Andakasa, Masceti, Sakenan, Dalem, Ubud's Pura Taman Saraswati,etc. All of them are great architectural gems and each one has something unique to offer. Therefore the countless and amazing temples of Bali are considered all together, one of the great man-made wonders.


The Island of Bali was initially inhabited for people from the Maritime Southeast Asia. But the greatest cultural influence arrived from India since the first century AD. Oldest temples of Bali were constructed from 913 AD such as Pura Ulun Danu Batur, Pura Kehen, Gunungkawi, amongst other.
Temple of Tanah Lot in Bali
Temple of Tanah Lot in Bali
The Hindu influence in Bali was major between 1293 and 1520 when the Hindu Majapahit Empire founded a colony in Java; but when this colony declined; the intellectual and political elite migrate to Bali, further consolidate the Hindu influence in the region. Temples like Tanah Lot were built in this historical period, during which, many Hindu priests arrived to Bali.
At the beginning of the XVI century began a period of cultural independence in Bali because of the Migration of the Majapahit Empire towards east. During this time several other temples were constructed in Bali, but with an style some different. Several parts of the Besakih temple, were built in this period as well as the Sangeh Monkey Sanctuary.
Bali Ricefield
Now, the temples of Bali are still important places of worship. Most temples of the Island are scenario every year of colorful religious festivals. Usually people carry offerings to the temple to honoring the three gods of the Hindu trilogy. These offerings consist of palm leafs, flowers and foodstuffs. All these offerings represent in the Hindu cosmology to Siwa (Shiva), whereas the holy water represents to Wisnu and the incense represents to Brahama. The temples of Bali have still a very important role in the historical development of the region.


Temples of Bagan, Burma

Wonder: Temples of Bagan
Country: Burma
Region: Mandalay
Visitable: Yes
The temples of Bagan or Pagan (as anciently was known this place) are an extraordinary set of ancient Buddhist sanctuaries, which were built mainly between the X and XII centuries in the actual territory of Myanmar (Burma)
Wonder type: Man-made Wonder National Wonder

The temples of Bagan or Pagan (as anciently was known this place) are an extraordinary set of ancient Buddhist sanctuaries, which were built mainly between X century and XII century in the actual territory of Myanmar (Burma) on the eastern bank of the Ayerwady River to 145 Kilometers (90 miles) of Mandalay city.
The impressive religious complex of Bagan is composed by around 2200 temples and pagodas and covered an area of almost 26 square miles. These temples are a compendium of the architectural styles developed in the region during the historical period, they were constructed such as "Stupa with a relic-shaped dome", "Stupa with tomb-shaped dome", "Sinhalese-styled stupa", "North Indian model", "Central Indian Model", "South Indian model", "Mon model". Nevertheless, most structures were built using two kinds of buildings: the pagoda and the temple.
Both types of structures have their own goals. The pagoda was a symbol of adoration, whereas the temple served for worship and meditation. To build the structures the constructors used mainly bricks, sandstone and large-sized timber. Some metals like iron and bronze also were used but not extensively. The pagodas were constructed using a structural framing system, which consists of a systematically framed outer wall brick, strengthened with sandstone at intervals and a central hard core consolidated with brickbats and earth.
Some of the most important and beautiful temples that remain standing in Bagan are:
Dhammayangyi, it was constructed by the king Narathu from 1167 to 1170 and is the largest temple of the complex.
Shwesandaw, this was one of the first temples built in Bagan. It was constructed by Anawahta and its stupa enshrines hairs of Buddha. This temple is known also as the Ganesh Temple because of images of this Hindu god were in the corners of the temple’s terraces.
Mahabodi is an exact replica in smaller scale of the famous temple of Bodhi in India. Mahabodhi was constructed by the king Nataungmya and it is totally covered with niches which contain images of Budha.
Amnada Temple, it is one of the most beautiful temples and in 1990 received a golden gilding in its 900th anniversary of construction. The temple hosts also four great golden statues of Buddhas.
Shwe Zi Khon, it is perhaps the most beautiful and important temple of Bagan. It host several hairs and bones of Buddha. The construction of the temple was initiated by the king Anawrata and was finished by its successor the king Kyanzittha. This temple is scenery of a great religious festival every year and is still today an important pilgrimage center.
Thatbynnyu is the highest structure of Bagan with 61 meters height (around 201 feet).


The archeological and religious Bagan complex covers about 16 square miles. Most structures in this complex were constructed from the 1000 to 1200 AD. During this time Bagan was the capital of the Burmese Empire for second time. The golden age of Bagan began in 1057 AD when the King Anawrahta conquest Thaton. Anawrahta was Buddhist; therefore he brought back to Bagan the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism and with the help of a monk from Lower Burma, he converted the people of the country to the Buddhism.
Anawrata initiated the massive construction of temples and other religious buildings in Bagan which we can see still. But his successors were who continued the tradition started by Anawrata by 290 years, since they constructed over 10000 temples and pagodas in Bagan.
Shwe Zi Khon Pagoda
Shwe Zi Khon Pagoda in Bagan
During its apogee Bagan was one of the most important religious and cultural centers of Asia, it reached a population 300 000 people and around 10 00 temples and pagodas existed in Bagan. Unfortunately the attacks of enemies and several earthquakes destroyed most buildings of the ancient capital of Burma.
The golden age of Bagan finished in 1287 when the region was invaded by Mongols, who sacked the city and the temples. Nevertheless, the city was still an important Buddhist center, but its political importance was lost forever. Little by little the city was abandoned and nowadays only the temples and some archeological remains survive of which was one of the most important capitals of Asia.
The Burmese government has tried to restore the temples of Bagan. Unfortunately, these restorations have been made without respect for the original materials and architectural styles of the building. Therefore UNESCO never declared Bagan as World Heritage. But, Bagan is definitely one of the sites of the planet that worth visiting before die.


Machupicchu, Peru

Wonder: Machupicchu
Country: Peru
Region: Cusco
Visitable: Yes
One of the new seven wonders, the most beautiful Inca city and the main archeological site of America.
Wonder type: New Seven Wonder Man-made Wonder

Machu Picchu is located on a remote secondary road in nearly impassable terrain high above the Urubamba River, Machu Picchu sits nearly 2438 meters (8000 feet) above sea level, on top of a ridge between two peaks of different size. The name "Machu Picchu" comes simply from its geography. It literally means "old peak", just as "Huaynapicchu" is "young peak". The more accurate translation relates, however, to the concept of size, with Machupicchu as the "bigger peak" and Huaynapicchu, the "smaller peak".
Machu Picchu, the most famous citadel of the Incas, is accessible by train from Cusco or traveling along the Camino Inca. The city was never discovered by the conquerors Spanish and remained lost for centuries. Machu Picchu is an architectural jewel, which combine perfectly the architectural style with the beautiful natural environment that surrounded it. The Beauty and the Mystery of its walled ruins that once was the palace the thinnest Inca of stone surrounded by the virginal landscapes, the flora and green jungle bathes its abrupt topography.
The citadel is divided into two sectors: the agricultural and the urban, where there are main squares, temples, palaces, storehouses, workshops, stairways, cables and water fountains which run through both sectors, which measure 20 and 10 hectares respectively. Machu Picchu was built according to its natural surroundings, with its constructions following the natural curves and dips and rises in the land.
The sector is surrounded by a series of terraces of different types and sizes which had two main functions: to grow crops and halt the erosion caused by the rains. The most eye catching terraces lie at the entrance to the citadel. They begin at the cluster of rooms located at the entrance and climb up to the top of the mountain until they stop at a large rectangular room. There are no canals as they were not necessary, as the constant rains and ever-present humidity allowed the plants to grow without irrigation. The only water channel that flows through the urban sector crosses through the central terrace.
The control gate is made up of a three walled room with a view with several windows, which can be found in front of the main gateway. There is a good panorama from here of the agricultural and urban sectors and the surrounding landscape. In the upper part, they also found sculpted stones that belong to the area, which indicated the Incas used the stones to make offerings to their gods. On this same piece of ground lies a granite boulder sculpted with steps. But the most striking feature is that it is pierced with a ring, the purpose of which is unknown.
One can see a long stairway that leads to the front gate. This sector houses the most important constructions of any Inca city, where one can appreciate the talent, effort and quality of the pre Hispanic builders, as the constructions are entirely made of granite, a very hard rock that is different from that used in Cusco. The city is U-shaped and containing the temples, houses and workshops on platform terraces that the american scientist Bingham, called the Military Group.
The Temple of Sun is shaped like a semi-circle and built on solid rock, an existing granite block shaped to blend with the natural curves, with a diameter of 10.50 meters. The Intiwatana is located on a hill made up of several terraces, it is a granite rock sculpted into three steps. In the central part one can see a rectangular prism that is 36cm high and which is pointing from North-West to South-East. Its four corners are directed to the four cardinal points. The Intiwatana had specific functions: it measured time (the solstice and the equinox) by using sunlight and shadow, and also served as an altar. In Quechua, "Inti" means "sun" and "Wata" means "year", thereby giving us the meaning of a solar year observatory.
The sacred rock, located in a four-sided spot flanked by two three-sided rooms, features a monolithic rock sculpture. The pedestal, which is approximately 30cm high, resembles a feline. From another angle, it looks like the profile of a mountain near Machupicchu. The Temple of Three Windows is located west of the main square, has a large rectangular floor. The enormous polyhedrons have been carved and joined with millimetric precision.
The Main Temple is located north of the Sacred Square, very near the Temple of Three Windows. Doors are a common sight in Machupicchu and especially in this sector. They vary in texture, size and architectural style that set them apart from each other, although all have the same trapezoid shape. To the South of the complex, between the Temple of the Sun and the Royal Palace, the area houses a series of water fountains, the only sources of the vital element for the residents of Machu Picchu.
There are four main squares at different levels, but share the characteristic of being rectangular in the classic Inca style, interconnected by sunken stairways in the parameters of the terraces. The main square is the largest, which just like the main squares in all Inca cities had religious and social functions.


Machu Picchu was done constructed and used by Inka Pachakuteq, that was the greatest statesman of the Tawantinsuyo, Pachakuteq ruled from 1438 for 1471, called the great age of the Inca empire; unfortunately it lasted less than 100 years, because the empire collapsed under the Spanish invasion. Although the citadel is located only about 50 miles from Cusco, Machupicchu, it was never found and destroyed by the Spanish, as were many other Inca sites.
In the XIX century explorers like Eugenie de Sartiges, George Ephraim Squire, Antonio Raimondi and Castelnau never reached Machu Picchu, although most of them crossed the Andes to the almost inaccessible ruins of Choquekirau, built high above the Apurimac River. In fact, the outside world simply stumbled upon Machupicchu, for it had never been lost to those who lived around it.
In December 1908, Bingham attended the First Panamerican Scientific Congress in Santiago, Chile. It was there that he decided to follow the old Spanish trade route from Buenos Aires to Lima, and it was to that end that he traveled to Lima and hence to Cusco. In Cusco Bingham made the acquaintance of one J.J. Nunez, then prefect of the Apurimac region, who invited him on the arduous trip to the ruins of Choquekirau.
On his return to the USA, Bingham decided to organize another expedition to Peru. Bingham returned to Cusco from where he journeyed on foot and by mule through the Urubamba Valley, past Ollantaytambo, and on into the Urubamba gorge. On July 23, Bingham and his party camped by the river at a place called Mandor Pampa, where they aroused the curiosity of Melchor Arteaga, a local farmer who leased the land there. Bingham learned from Arteaga that there were extensive ruins on top of the ridge opposite the camp, which Arteaga, in his native Quechua, called Machu Picchu, or "Old Mountain". Bingham offered to pay Arteaga well if he showed the ruins. He demurred and said it was too hard a climb for such a wet day, accompanied only by Seargeant Carrasco and Arteaga, Bingham left the camp. From the river they climbed a precipitous slope until they reached the ridge at around midday.
Here Bingham rested at a small hut where they enjoyed the hospitality of a group of peasants. They told him that they had been living there for about four years and explained that they had found an extensive system of terraces on whose fertile soil they had decided to grow their crops. Bingham was then told that the ruins he sought were close by and he was given a guide, the 11-year old Pablito Alvarez, to lead him there.
Almost immediately, he was greeted by the sight of a broad sweep of ancient terraces. They numbered more than a hundred and had recently been cleared of forest and reactivated. Here young Pablito began to reveal to Bingham a series of white granite walls which the historian immediately judged to be the finest examples of masonry that he had ever seen.
First Light at Machu Picchu on the Winter Solstice
According to Bingham, "I had entered the marvellous canyon of the Urubamba below the Inca fortress. Here the river escapes from the cold plateau by tearing its way through gigantic mountains of granite. The road runs through a land of matchless charm. It has the majestic grandeur of the Canadian Rockies, as well as the startling beauty of the Nuuanu Pali near Honolulu, and the enchanting views of the Koolau Ditch Trail on Maui, in my native land…..”
Machupicchu, the ancient Inca City was named to be part of the new list of the Seven Wonders. The global vote that began in 1999, accumulated near 20 million votes in its initial phase. And the final decision on July 7, 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal to name to Machupicchu one of the New Seven Wonders of the Contemporary World for satisfaction of the Cusqueño town (Cusco's people). Machu Picchu is today the main archeological site of Peru and America, and probably the most beautiful place of the world.


Karnak Temple, Egypt

Wonder: Karnak Temple
Country: Egypt
Region: Luxor
Visitable: Yes
The religious complex of Karnak at Luxor was the most important religious center in Egypt while Thebes was the capital of the Empire, its wonderful temples and sculptures are one of the greatest wonders of the planet
Wonder type: Man-made Wonder National Wonder

The religious complex of Karnak on the northern edge of Luxor was the largest religious site of the ancient world, covering around 100 hectares. Its original name was Ipet-isut that means “The Most Select of Places” The complex is located on the banks of the Nile River and is after pyramids the most famous archeological place of Egypt. Karnak is an impressive set of temples which were part of the Thebes city, the capital of the Egyptian Empire during the middle Kingdom and the new Kingdom.
The Karnak complex is composed by 4 main parts. The most famous and largest of them is the Precinct of Amun-Ra; since it is the only that is accessible for tourists. The other three parts are the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Montu and the Temple of Amenhotep.
The main deity that was adored in Karnak was the Egyptian God Amun whose temple is situated in the center of the complex. The Temple of Montu is located at the north and the Temple of Mut is at the south. In addition to the main temples, there are also several small temples and chapels in the entire complex, such as the Temple of Khonsu, the Temple of Osiris Hek-Djet or the Temple of Opet.
An avenue of ram-headed sphinxes (symbols of the Amun god) leads to the front of the giant first pylon where there is a great statue of the king Ramesses II. The first pylon was never finished and there are near this pylon, some remains of a mud brick ramp, which is the only example that shows how the pylon was constructed.
One of the most impressive parts of Karnak is the Hypostyle Hall, which is located passing through the Second Pylon. This hall is considered one of the most important works of architecture in the world. The construction of this wonderful hall started during the reign of Amenhotep III and was finished by its grandson the King Ramesses II. All walls, ceilings and columns are painted with the natural earth tones. The roof of the hall is 82 feet (25 meters) high and is supported by 12 papyrus columns set in two rows of six, which are made of sandstone. Besides, each row of main columns is flanked also by seven rows of 9 columns of 42 feet (12.8 meters) high each one. In total 134 columns compose this wonderful place. The hall is ornamented with reliefs that represent scenes of the Egyptian mythology of the creation. Whereas the outer walls of the Hypostyle Hall are adorned with battle scenes of the reigns of Seti I and Ramesses II.
Hypostyle Hall in Karnak
The third Pylon was constructed by Amenhotep III, in this zone there are also several impressive obelisks such as the obelisk of Tuthmosis I which is 70 feet (21 meters) height and 143 tons weight or the obelisk of Hatsheput (one of the few female pharaoh) that is 97 feet (30 meters) high, weights 320 tons and was dedicated to Amun. The fourth and fifth pylons were built by Thutmose I and they are smaller than the third pylon.
Karnak is a marvelous place that you can visit from 6:30 am to 5:30 pm. Admission costs LE 20 for foreigners and LE 10 for foreign students. There are guided tours available in several languages.


The construction of the complex of Karnak began with the 12th Dynasty (1991 – 1785 BC). The first temple was dedicated to the early god of Thebes, the god Montu. Nevertheless, the construction of the temple was a work that lasted around 900 years, since many pharaohs of several dynasties added several constructions (temples, shrines or pylons) in Karnak.
Entrance to Karnak
Entrance to Karnak
Karnak was part of the ancient city of Thebes which was the capital and the cultural center of the Egyptian Empire. The complex of Karnak was during a long and continuous time the main religious site of Egypt. Nevertheless, the temple was abandoned during short time when the pharaoh Akhenaton took the power and decided to abandon the worship to Amun and replace it for the worship to the Sun God Aten; then he constructed a new capital and new temples. But, after Akhenaton’s death, the worship to Aten was forgotten and the Theban priests destroyed all the signals of the Aknhenaton reign and the Sun’s worship. Then, Karnak became again the religious center of Egypt.
In the IV century BC when the Greeks conquered Egypt, they moved the capital of the Kingdom to Alexandria marking the beginning of the end to the religious center. However, the site was even respected even in the Ptolemy Dynasty and in the early Roman time. But, in 323 AD Constantine the Great recognized the Christian religion and in 346 AD the Emperor ordered to close all the pagan temples. Then the Karnak complex was abandoned and four Christian churches were established within the enclosure of the complex.
During the Medieval Age, the ancient Egyptian culture was forgotten and even the location of Thebes was unknown. Only in the XVI century a Venetian traveler described the complex of Karnak. Later several travelers wrote chronicles about Karnak and other important sites of the ancient Egypt during the XVII and XVIII centuries, until 1798 when Vivant Denon a scientist member of the Napoleon’s expedition described the complex with detail.
Today Karnak is after the pyramids the most famous and visited place of Egypt. One of the most impressive examples of the greatness of the ancient country of the pharaohs and a great source of information for archeologists from all the world, who search answers about the still mysterious history of the great Egyptian civilization.


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