Travel

Visiting the peak of the world is enthralling, and captivating

Mount Everest is the Earth’s highest mountain, with a peak at 8,848 metres above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international border between China and Nepal runs across the precise summit point.

Elevation: 8,848 m. First ascent: May 29, 1953. Prominence: 8,848 m. Mountain range: Mahalangur Himal, Himalayas. First ascenders: Tenzing Norgay, Edmund Hillary.

Mount Everest attracts many highly experienced mountaineers as well as capable climbers willing to hire professional guides. While not posing substantial technical climbing challenges on the standard route, Everest presents dangers such as altitude sickness, weather and wind. Most expeditions use oxygen masks and tanks above 8,000 m (26,000 ft).

Everest can be climbed without supplementary oxygen, but only by the most accomplished mountaineers and at increased risk. Humans do not think clearly with low oxygen, and the combination of extreme weather, low temperatures, and steep slopes often require quick, accurate decisions.

Getting there

Flights to Kathmandu are expensive. Look instead for cheap flights to Bangkok. After you’ve found one, go to thorntree.lonelyplanet.com and ask on the ‘Thailand’ branch for the current prices for Bangkok – Kathmandu flights. Biman (Bangladeshi) Airways usually has the cheapest flights. You will have a one-evening layover in Bangladesh but they put you up in a hotel and you get to see a bit of Dhaka.

History

In 1856, the Great Trigonometric Survey of British India established the first published height of Everest, then known as Peak XV, at 29,002 ft (8,840 m). In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical Society upon a recommendation by Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor General of India. Waugh named the mountain after his predecessor in the post, Sir George Everest. Although Tibetans had called Everest “Chomolungma” for centuries, Waugh was unaware of this because Nepal and Tibet were closed to foreigners.

 

Egyptian pyramids are gateways to ancient civilization, human ingenuity

(Toronto Today Report)

To visit the Pyramids of Egypt is to be awe-struck by their monumentality, their celebration of the fundamental human need to engage in creativity. The earliest known Egyptian pyramids are found at Saqqara, northwest of Memphis.

The oldest among them is the Pyramid of Djoser, constructed in 2630 BCE–2611 BCE, during the third dynasty. Records show this pyramid and its surrounding complex were designed by an architect known as Imhotep, and, are generally considered to be the world’s oldest monumental structures constructed of dressed masonry.

There are 138 pyramids discovered in Egypt as of 2008. Most were built as tombs for the country’s Pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods. The number of workers involved in building the pyramids ranges from a few thousand to twenty thousand, and, up to 100,000.

The most famous among them are the ones found at Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo. Several of the Giza pyramids are considered as the largest structures ever built. The Pyramid of Khufu at Giza is the largest. It is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still in existence.

Tourism is Egypt’s second largest source of revenue, bringing in $13 billion in 2010. Visitors are captivated by how each stone block is raised by artisans to reach waist-high. One wonders how hard it must have been to make them at a time when there were no cranes or earthmovers or power tools.

 

The Grand Canyon is not something to miss

Grand Canyon National Park is the United States’ 15th oldest national park. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, the park is located in Arizona. The park’s central feature is the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River (picture above), which is often considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The park covers 1,217,262 acres (1,902 sq mi; 4,926 km2) of un-incorporated area in Coconino and Mohave counties.

Canyon Activities

The Hermit’s Rest Tour: A two-hour motorcoach tour travels eight miles along the West Rim Drive of the Grand Canyon to historic Hermit’s Rest. There are stops at several spectacular viewpoints to see the tortuous Bright Angel hiking and mule trail, thundering rapids of the Colorado River, and Hermits Rest, a unique building of native stone created by Mary Jane Colter in 1914. This tour departs two times daily on a year-round basis [ PHOTO ].

Mule Riding Excursions: These rigorous sightseeing excursions are almost as famous as the Grand Canyon itself. Mule trips operate year-round and two different tours are available. Reservations for these trips should be made far in advance and directed to: Grand Canyon Nat’l Park Lodges, Reservations Department, Post Office Box 699, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023. The mule trips are usually booked six to 12 months in advance. However, all interested visitors without reservations may place their name on a waiting list upon arrival at the Bright Angel Lodge transportation desk.

Railroad Express: For a half-day tour, step hack in history and, ride the rails in a turn-of-the-century steam train operating between Williams, Arizona, and the Grand Canyon. Tour departs daily based on railway schedule.

History

Scientists estimate the 277 miles of twisting canyon took 3 to 6 million years to form. The oldest rocks are said to be 400 million years old.

Although the Grand Canyon has been known to mankind for thousands of years, it was one of the last areas of the United States to be thoroughly explored.

The Spaniards were the first white men to view the Grand Canyon in 1540, 80 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

Francisco Coronado was searching for gold and the Seven Cities of Cibola when Indians told him of a great river to the north. Coronado then sent Garcia Lopez de Cardenas and a party of 12 men to investigate this mysterious river. Cardenas and his men were guided by Hopi Indians and 20 days later found themselves at the edge of a great chasm – the Grand Canyon [ PHOTO ].

The depth and vastness of the canyon were not immediately obvious to Cardenas. After three frustrating days searching for a way down to the river, the Spaniards realized that what appeared as easy from above, was instead, very difficult [ PHOTO ]. The party managed to descend only one-third of the way. Had the Hopis wished to guide the Spaniards over the many obstacles of the canyon to the river, they could easily have done so. The Indians simply did not trust the explorers. Coronado and his men moved on, in search of other legends.

The Grand Canyon and all of its splendor was then left to its original inhabitants, the Indians, and remained so for over two more centuries. The Grand Canyon attracted little attention until 1869, when a one-armed Civil War veteran, Major John Wesley Powell set out with four boats to explore the Colorado River. The journey was long and arduous and Powell lost two of his boats and three of his men. Powell eventually navigated the Colorado and finally reached the point where Lake Mead is today, 72 days later Major Powell’s published account of this journey encouraged scientific study of the canyon, and thus, tourism slowly evolved.

By 1870, the Santa Fe Railroad arrived at the Grand Canyon, offering transportation to those intrigued by the canyon. Through an Act of Congress, the Grand Canyon was made a United States national park in 1919.

The Grand Canyon’s Many Climates

The Grand Canyon has many climates due to the elevation. The temperatures at the South Rim, with an elevation of 7,000 feet (2,134 meters), range from highs in the teens during the winter months to in the 90s in the summer The weather can change abruptly throughout the year and the afternoons in the summer months are prone to afternoon thundershowers [ PHOTO ]. It is not uncommon to see storms in the canyon and clear weather on the rim. During the winter, the South Rim receives several feet of snow. It is always advisable to dress warmly during the winter months when visiting the Grand Canyon even during the summer months.

Hiking the Grand Canyon

Day hikes in the Grand Canyon do not require permits. Self-guided hikes, both short and long, are available on nature trails and paths between the Yavapai Museum and Hermit’s Rest, a distance of approximately 9 miles (14.5 km) [ PHOTO ]. The South Rim Nature Trail extends along the rim of the canyon between Maricopa Point and the Yavapai Museum. The entire length of the trail is paved and is level in most sections. Visitors may walk the entire 3-1/4 mile (5 km) length or only a portion.

Permits are however required for overnight hiking in the Grand Canyon National Park. All reservation requests must he sent to: Back Country Reservation Office, Post Office Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023. There is a waiting list for last minute cancellations. Contact the Back Country Reservation Office upon arrival at the park to he placed on this list.

Camping in the Spectacular Canyon

Within the national park area, it is necessary to camp within a designated campsite. Camping in a forest or overlook area could result in a fine. Mather Campground, located in Grand Canyon Village, is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. (No hookups available.) For hikers who wish to overnight in the Grand Canyon, Indian Gardens and Bright Angel Campgrounds are available. Reservations and permits are required. Contact the Back Country Reservation Office. Camper Village which is located seven miles (11 kilometers) south of the national park in Tusayan, Arizona with 250 sites for tents and campers. Full hookups, restrooms, and showers are available. A miniature golf course for family fun is also available. Contact: Camper Village, P.O. Box 490, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023.