Sunday Special – Troödos Region, Cyprus


 

I like islands. In fact, my “happy place” is an island (that would be Ireland). I’d like to visit many an island in this world simply because it is an island. One of those is the Mediterranean isle of Cyprus. Today we will take a look at its  Troödos Mountain Region which has some interesting things to offer.  

This mountainous area of Cyprus is located almost smack in the middle of the island with the mountains covering most of the western portion. The tallest peak is known as Mount Olympus (not to be confused with the one in Greece) or Chionistra,  locally.  It is home to several ski slopes and resorts that operate January through to April. During the summer months take advantage of the numerous hiking trails and nature walks. Keep an eye out for some of the waterfalls such as Millomeris Falls and Caledonia Falls.  Although there are resorts and hotels in the villages in this area you can get closer to nature by camping in the designated areas in Troödos National Forest Park.  The plant life in the area is impressive, including a number of endemic Cypriot varieties.  Let’s not forget about the animals as well. Several protected species of birds may be spotted so bring your camera. 

For history enthusiasts and the reason I chose to research the Troödos region today is for the UNESCO World Heritage Troödos Region Painted Churches. I am fascinated by religious buildings despite not being religious myself. Perhaps due to the combination of art and architecture, two things that I appreciate. And that budding photographer in me likes to photograph them.  Ten Byzantine monasteries and churches make up this world heritage site. The artwork within the buildings are specific to Cyprus and unique to this particular region of the island. 

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Kykkos Monastery (a painted church), Cyprus – Photo credit: Gerhard HauboldKykkos 01 CCC BY-SA 3.0

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Troödos  Mountains, Cyprus – Photo credit: Tech broTroodos MountainsCC BY-SA 3.0

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Millomeris Waterfall, Troödos Mountains in Cyprus – Photo credit: DickelbersMillomeri waterval in troodosgebergteCC BY-SA 3.0

 

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Sunday Special – Réunion Island


A small island that is blessed with natural beauty is tucked away in the Indian Ocean in the shadows of Madagascar and Mauritius. This isle, known as Réunion Island, is located approximately 700 km / 434 miles east and 200 km / 124 miles southwest of Madagascar and Mauritius, respectively. As a French overseas island it is part of the European Union (E.U.) though it remains outside of the Schengen zone thus retaining its own immigration code.

Regarded mainly for its abundance of hiking trails for all levels (over 900 km / 559 miles) its mountainous and volcanic terrain draws outdoor lovers into its fold. With trails for all experience levels one can take in lush rain forests, peer into the crater of an still active volcano (Piton de la Fournaise), gaze at fields of cane sugar, and even learn about the flora, fauna and geology of the area with a discovery trail. In fact, the island has such incredible topography that 40% of it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Though there is more to Réunion than the volcanoes, cirques and calderas.  Stunning beaches, natural marine reserves, flowing rivers and more. Even though it is a French territory there is a mixture of cultures that add a vibrant element to the islands culture. Peoples from Madagascar, Africa, Europe, and Asia all flavour the culture, music, and the food. This place strikes me as a wonderful place to explore and unwind at the same time. 

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Langevin Falls (also known as Grand Galet Falls) in Reunion National Park – Photo credit: No machine-readable author provided. JoKerozen assumed (based on copyright claims)., Cascade LangevinCC BY-SA 2.5

 

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Crater of Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island – Photo credit: User: Bbb at wikivoyage shared, ReU PtFournaise KraterDolomieuCC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday Special – Okavango Delta, Botswana


The 1000th UNESCO World Heritage site is Botswana’s expansive Okavango Delta. This delta, deep in the heart of the Kalahari Basin, is fed by the Okavango River which has transported sand through its waters from Angola for centuries. The uniqueness of the Okavango Delta is that one would not expect it to exist in such a parched land, yet its waters collect with flooding from the river in January and February and rains in April and May.  Hot temperatures result in evaporation of 36% of the water. All this produces varying levels of water through an area of 250 x 150 square km / 155 x 93 miles and an elaborate and extensive eco-system. Wildlife abounds here with mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and plants species each into dozens and hundreds. It is a world in and of itself, often dry and often wet. It has been declared one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.  

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Group of Lechwe, Okavango Delta – Photo credit:  Original uploader was PanBK at en.wikipedia, Group-of-Lechwe-at-dawn, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Zebra’s of the Okavango Delta – Photo credit: diego_cue, Zebras in the Okavango Delta – Botswana – panoramio, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Water lilies growing in Botswana’s Okavango Delta – Photo credit: diego_cue, Water lilies in the Okavango Delta – Botswana – panoramio, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

 

Sunday Special – Lake Hillier, Australia


Tucked off the southern coast of Western Australia is the Recherche Archipelago (or Bay of Isles). Found within this cluster of isles is one named Middle Island. This small parcel of land has bit of a history – pirates, whaling, salt mining and various shipwrecks through the years. Though what bring me to post about this little isle is the colour pink. Yes, pink! A popular colour indeed, however it is rarely associated with water. Water is often blue, green, murky brown or clear, not pink. Lake Hillier is pink. Very pink. Unlike some other pink lakes found in the world that change colour due to temperature, this lake stays pink. Scientists are not 100% certain why it is such a vibrant shade of pink but believe it is due dunaliella salina, algae that thrives in highly salty water. The presence of halobacteria is also believed to contribute to lake’s colour. Additionally, it has also been deemed safe for people to swim in it, however the lake is difficult to access.  There are some local boat cruises to the archipelago though I found little on access to the lake, which may be limited so as to help keep the area protected. It appears that there are helicopter tours over the lake (and I imagine that would be rather spectacular) which I saw on Trip Advisor but again, nothing too recent or in depth.  Well, whether one can visit it or not, it does seems like a cool thing to have on our earth. 

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Bubblegum pink Lake Hillier, Australia – Photo credit: Kurioziteti123LIQENI HILLIER – ROZECC BY-SA 4.0

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Lake Hillier, Western Australia – Photo credit: Aussie OcLake Hillier 2 Middle Island Recherche Archipelago NR IV-2011CC BY-SA 4.0