Sunday Special – Milford Sound, New Zealand


Various countries and destinations can conjure up a variety of images when we hear their name. They can range from cities filled with towering skyscrapers and urban romance, to meccas of mouth-watering foods options, to history and art full of awe and beauty. Others impress their natural beauty into our minds. New Zealand is one of those countries for me. The home of “Middle Earth”, rugged coastlines, cool glaciers, and beautiful mountains come to mind when I think of this island nation. I have not been yet but I certainly will make it there. 

Milford Sound is one of this country’s iconic natural beauties. Located on the southwest side of the South Island this fjord runs 16km / 9.94 miles from the Tasman Sea inland to the head of the fjord. Sheer rock faces and majestic mountains flank the fjord’s side and I imagine it forces you to look and ponder the wonder of nature.  Found within Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is quite accessible. In fact it is very popular and often teeming with tourists. The area is also known to be one of the wettest places on the planet so do expect rain rather frequently. Due to its popularity there are many ways you can experience the awe. Take it in from the air with flights soaring above or from the water on frequent boat cruises. If you want to be a bit closer to nature then kayak along the waters or walk along the Milford Track, a 53 km / 33 mile long trail. Any way you see it, it seems to me that Milford Sound will amaze you with its beauty.

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Milford Sound, New Zealand – Photo credit: MarosteguiMilford Sound (New Zealand) – 3CC BY-SA 3.0

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Bowen Falls in Milford Sound, New Zealand – Photo credit: Bernard Spragg. NZ from Christchurch, New Zealand, Bowen Falls Milford Sound NZ. (10657996025)CC0 1.0

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Hanging around in Milford Sound – Photo credit: Steve Collis from Melbourne, Australia, Milford Sound (5863219806)CC BY 2.0

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Sunday Special – The Great Trail, Canada


HAPPY CANADA DAY! Today, July 1st, is Canada’s birthday. This nation is relatively young and though we do have some interesting historical sites much of the allure of this country comes from it’s vast and varied natural beauty. Canada has rugged coastlines, serene beaches, vibrant cities, quaint towns, majestic mountains, and incredible wildlife. Really it’s to be expected of the second largest country by landmass.  We are 9,985 square km / 3,855 square miles big! That is a lot of country. Many of us Canadians measure distance by hours (driving, flying, etc) due to its sheer enormity. 

So how can one see this very large place? Well there are a number of ways though today we will look at it from the ground up – The Great Trail. Formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail its construction began in 1992. Twenty-five years later the trail now traverses 24,000 km / 14, 900 mi of the country. The world’s largest recreational trails runs from Newfoundland through to BC, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.  Connecting the country it flows through wilderness areas including some waterways, and both rural and urban communities. Spend a day, a weekend or more on the trails. You can explore the wilds of BC or see the urban landscape of Southern Ontario. Perhaps you want to experience the rustic and coastal beauty of the Atlantic Coast. All this won’t be hard to find as 80% of Canadians live within 30 minutes of the trail which makes it accessible. Plan it all at the website above or download The Great Trail app for both iOS and Android. And if you’re are really energetic you can walk the whole darn thing just as  Dana Meise, the first person to complete it did. Or  like Sarah Jackson who was the first woman to complete the trail. Now that is a long walk.

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Cape Spear, Newfoundland. The most eastern point in North America and where The Great Trail begins (mile zero) – Photo credit: Michel Rathwell from Cornwall, Canada, Cape Spear Newfoundland (41321652542)CC BY 2.0

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The restored Kinsol Trestle on BC’s Vancouver Island, part of The Great Trail – Photo credit: VrsmithKinsol-Trestle-From-Riverside-RoadCC BY-SA 3.0

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The Great Trail (formerly Trans Canada Trail) in Manitoba – Photo is Public Domain

Sunday Special – Kandersteg, Switzerland


While watching an episode of “One Strange Rock” on National Geographic Channel I observed a giant wall of ice and someone scaling it. The name of this behemoth frozen waterfall is Breitwangflue or Crack Baby” (hmmm) and its located in Switzerland. Now I am not one for ice climbing or any kind of climbing for that matter (unless its into bed so I can sleep), however, I was intrigued by what was around this area of Kandersteg in the Bernese Oberland. Of course this land-locked European country is famous for its natural beauty of pristine lakes, rolling hills and impressive mountains so I imagine it is quite a beautiful locale especially if waterfalls freeze so stunningly as Crack Baby does.

It would seem that I was correct and the area has much to offer in the way of natural beauty.  It is a getaway to an Alpine town that locals and in-the-know tourists have on their radar.  If you enjoy outdoor adventures then visiting this easily accessible town is a must. Here are some of the activities and sights to take in Kandersteg and area.

  • Oeschinen Lake: This glacially-fed lake can be hiked to from town or ride up in the Oeschinen Gondola to take in amazing vistas from its 1578 m / 5177 ft elevation. Fishing is also popular on the lake.
  • Rodelbahn Alpine Slide: In the summer months whip down this 750 m / 2460 ft alpine slide for an exhilarating ride.
  • Ricola Herb Garden: Ricola has six herb gardens and one of them is located in Kandersteg.  You can visit and see the herbs that are used in their lozenges.
  • Landgasthof Reudihus: This historic Swiss-style hotel was built as a private home in 1753. It’s a fine example of Bernese craftsmanship and has been carefully maintained. 
  • Outdoor Activities– This area is ripe for enjoying the outdoors. Hiking, fishing, boating, ice-climbing/mountaineering, paragliding, swimming, Nordic walking – take your pick!

This location certainly sounds like a haven for nature lovers!

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Stunning Lake Oeschinen near Kandersteg – Photo credit: TonnyBLakeOeschinenCC BY-SA 3.0

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Town of Kandersteg – Photo credit: Earth explorerKandersteg, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Special – Zambezi River, Africa


We have reached the end of the alphabet and with that we are looking at Africa’s great Zambezi River (also spelled Zambesi) where it flows through six countries, feeds the amazing Victoria Falls, and finally empties into the Indian Ocean. Africa’s fourth largest river runs east through Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and on through Mozambique to the ocean for 2, 574 km / 1,599 miles. 

This amazing river (often referred to as the River of Life) has been a vital source of life for centuries to the peoples and wildlife around it. Though in recent times it has been dammed to harness hydroelectric power in two major areas: the Kariba Dam between Zambia and Zimbabwe and Cabora Bassa Dam in Mozambique. Although these dams bring hydro power to these countries there are side-effects to the river and its wildlife as well. 

The Zambezi River is divided into three sections: Upper, Middle, and Lower Zambezi and then ultimately forming the river’s delta. The incredible Victoria Falls marks the border of the Upper and Middle Zambezi and is a border for Zambia and Zimbabwe. Spanning total width of over 1,700 m / 5,600 feet and dropping 108 m / 354 feet it produces the world’s largest sheet of falling water. The mist produced floats above giving it a cloud-like appearance. 

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Victoria Falls seen from Zimbabwe – Photo is Public Domain

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The Zambezi River is known as the “River of Life” and supports wildlife like this hippo. Photo credit: Bernard GagnonHippopotamus in the ZambeziCC BY-SA 4.0

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Sunset on the Zambezi River, Zambia. Photo credit: Joachim HuberZambezi River, Zambia (2546105466)CC BY-SA 2.0