Sunday Special – Utah, USA

Happy New Year! I hope it has started well for everyone. Welcome back to the next Sunday Special. We are close the end of the alphabet, at the letter “U”. So today we’ll take a look at the American state of Utah.¬†

One of the the “Four Corners” states where Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and New Mexico’s borders converge, Utah is recognized for its¬†varied landscape and natural beauty.¬† It is made up of different geological regions of the Rocky Mountains, the Colorado Plateau, and the Great Basin. The result is a terrain filled with diversity such as mountains with lush valleys, arid regions filled with deserts, salt lakes and flats, and sandstone territories filled with incredible bluffs, striking canyons and arches.

With such a variety in natural beauty this state has plenty to offer with 5 national parks: Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Capital Reef. Winter activities of skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and more are in abundance particularly near Salt Lake City. Head into the Moab area for some challenging mountain bike trails. It seems Utah has much to offer. 

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San Rafael Swell in Utah, USA РPhoto credit:, San Rafael Swell 4892804322, CC BY 2.0


Hoodoos in Utah’s Bryce National Park, USA – Photo credit:¬†James Marvin Phelps,¬†Hoodoos from the Peekaboo Loop Trail – Bryce Canyon National Park,¬†CC BY 2.0


Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah, USA – Photo is Public Domain



Sunday Special – R√©union 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. 


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



Crater of Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island РPhoto credit: User: Bbb at wikivoyage shared, ReU PtFournaise KraterDolomieu, CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday Special РKauai, USA 

The small American archipelago of Hawaii boasts some beautiful landscape in its Pacific Ocean location. The oldest of the 8 main islands is Kauai, it is the fourth largest and is located northwest of the island of Oahu. 

Referred to as the “Garden Isle”, its lush and jungle-like terrain offers beauty like no other. Having myself only visited Oahu and enamored by its beauty I imagine that Kauai would wow me. ¬†In addition to its lush green canopy, Kauai boasts serene beaches, impressive surfs and waves, and good hiking up a few mountains. Kawaikini is the highest point on the island (1598 m / 5243 ft) with¬†Mount Wai Ľale Ľale following at 1569 m / 5148 ft. With peaks such as these it is no surprise that one of the US’s most dangerous yet spectacular hikes is found on this small isle. The Kalalau Trail is an 18 km / 11 mile hike (double that for round trip) through rugged coasts, deep valleys and uneven terrain. Permits are required and is only for prepared, seasoned hikers. The mountains are not the only topography to impress. Waimea Canyon is waiting to take your breath away. There are couple of lookout points to see its size and the red-hued rock formation. Or take in¬†NńĀ Pali Coast State Park.¬†The craggy and rocky coast is popular for boat tours, kayaking, and snorkeling among the fishes. And of course, surfing is always in fashion in Kauai. With numerous beaches and great waves there is something from the novice to the expert. Though, should you prefer a bit more “R & R” then Kauai offers that too. As mentioned, there are plenty of beaches. And the low-key vibe of the small towns allows for a leisurely paced getaway. Aloha!


Secret Beach, Kauai РPhoto credit: Bryce Edwards from San Jose, CA, USA, Secret Beach (HDR) (522900051), CC BY 2.0


Glass Beach, Kauai РPhoto credit: Jason Popesku, Glass Beach in Kauai, CC BY-SA 2.0


Waimea Canyon, Kauai РPhoto credit: Kyle Pearce, Waimea Canyon HDR, CC BY-SA 2.0

Sunday Special – Dublin Mountains Way, Ireland

Exploring a region by foot can be one of the most worthwhile ways to see it. This is certainly not limited to strolling through city centres. Walking and hiking is an activity enjoyed by many, from easy hikes spanning a few hours to ones that are strenuous and require days to finish. The payoff is exercise, breathing in nature and some phenomenal views. 

Dublin Mountains Way, only a mere 8 km / 5 miles from Dublin was named one of the most scenic walks in the world by Barry Stone in his book 1001 Walks You Must Take Before You Die (2015).¬†The 43 km / 26 mile trail winds from easterly Shankill through to Tallaght in the west. Although it is considered a moderate to difficult hike that can take anywhere from 1 – 3 days it has been divided into three sections that can be done at any pace. ¬†The trail was completed and opened in 2009 by the Dublin Mountains Partnership (DMP) and they continue to maintain and upkeep the paths. Their website offers descriptions of the routes, downloadable .pdf maps as well as event listings, transit information and “Leave No Trace” material. ¬†The DMP also have also set up mountain biking routes, assembled ¬†bouldering sites, introduced wheelchair orienteering on way-marked trails and manage conservation and upkeep of the area. As with any activity, make sure you are prepared and let someone know where you are going.¬†

Ireland is a stunning country, arguably one of the world’s most beautiful. Why not see it’s beauty by roving and wandering along these paths?

The Scalp From Barnaslingan Hill

The Scalp (Barnaslingan) on the Dublin Mountains Way РPhoto via Wikimedia Commons РTaken and owned By Joe King (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons


The Hell Fire Club along the Dublin Mountains Way РPhoto via Wikimedia Commons РTaken and owned by jasonrogers [CC BY-SA 2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons