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World Heritage Site

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Recent Community Reviews

1032 of 1073 WHS have been reviewed by our community.

Canal du Midi Ilya Burlak, USA 16.11.17

Canal du Midi

One could argue that you can do Canal du Midi justice only by renting a boat to navigate a portion of it. On the other hand, the canal itself is uniformly the same narrow strip of water at any point of its stretch, only the surrounding scenery may vary. Finding myself in Toulouse and having only a couple of hours to spare in August of 2017, I figured I'd stop at a few random points along the canal and call it a reasonable visit.

The first stop was in the center of Toulouse, between Boulevard des Minimes and Boulevard Matabiau. The canal there looks like any stream in an urban setting, nothing too exceptional.

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Komodo National Park Svein Heltberg, Norway 16.11.17

Komodo National Park

In October 2017 we had a two week round trip in Java and Bali and it peaked with a two day mini cruise in the Komodo National Park – really the only way to see the park.

A flight took us from Denpasar, Bali, to Labuan Bajo, Flores, and a taxi took us down to the harbour. Our “small” vessel was a 50 or 60 foot wooden boat with two double cabins (for the four of us) and a crew of four. There were one day cruises available with a speedboat to Komodo, but the two day “slow cruise” is recommended.

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Qhapaq Ñan Nan, Germany 15.11.17

Qhapaq Ñan

A site like Qhapaq Nan is fairly difficult to grasp. Is it the roads the Inkas built to connect all parts of their empire? Or does it refer to the sites the roads connect? Or a combination of the two? It doesn't really help that the nomination file comes in at 500 MB, the site names are somewhat cryptic IDs and that the GPS coordinates repeatedly do not match the nomination file boundaries. For a detailed discussion using Pachacamac as example, check Solivagants comments in the forum. 

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Corcovado National Park and Isla del Cano Biological Reserve (T) Esteban Cervantes Jimenez, Costa Rica 15.11.17

Corcovado National Park and Isla del Cano Biological Reserve (T)

Site visited on my December-January vacations, for a whole week, a trip that I had been wishing to do since my childhood’s readings about the Costa Rican National Park System, that helped me highlight the importance of the Osa peninsula conservation complex.

The Nature:

After visiting both protected areas, I think they fully live up to Corcovado’s name as “the most biologically diverse point on Earth”. During my visits to 2 different ranger stations (closer San Pedrillo and farther away and more pristine Sirena), I saw many more different species than I had ever seen in any national park in my country, and in different life stages, daytimes, and habitats than I had seen them before.

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Sucre Nan, Germany 15.11.17

Sucre

Sucre is one of the prettiest cities in Latin America I have encountered in my travels so far. Immediately when I exited the shared cab from Potosi and stepped out at Parque Simon Bolivar, I was smitten by the white colonial and post colonial buildings that make up the city center. Personally, I would put it near the top along sites as illustrious as San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato. To me it's second only to Mexico City.

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Blog: WHC 2018: Chaîne des Puys

After two Referrals in 2014 and 2016 respectively, France will try once again to get the Tectono-volcanic ensemble of the Chaîne des Puys and Limagne Fault enlisted – probably already next year. It’s a natural site that covers a string of 80 dormant volcanoes and a parallel geological structure to the west that shows inverted relief.

Cloud cover over the Puy de Dôme

When I prepared for this trip, I opted to visit the Gour de Tazenat – an almost perfectly round crater lake or “mare”. But when my rental car plans fell through, I had to find a way into the core zone of the Chaîne des Puys by public transport. Fortunately its main landmark, the Puy de Dôme, lies just 15km west of the city of Clermont-Ferrand and I was able to catch a shuttle bus between Clermont-Ferrand and the Dôme Railway Station on the last day of the season.

The Puy de Dôme itself nowadays can only be accessed via the Panoramique des Dômes, a panoramic rack railway that covers the final km’s to the top. A return trip costs 12.30 EUR (in low season), though you can save a bit by riding up and walking down which supposedly takes some 50 minutes. At 10 a.m. I unfortunately found the Puy covered in the clouds. A temperature of -1 degrees Celsius was displayed at the departure station. Apparently it’s best to sit to the left in the train (for the better views), but it didn’t matter much this day as nothing was visible anyway.

Ruins of Mercury temple at the top

So what did I encounter at the top of the Puy de Dome? It was freezing cold indeed, the grass covered with hoarfrost. A strong wind was blowing as well, making any form of hiking a struggle. The clouds were so low that I could not see where to go from the upper train station. I just went uphill a bit more until I arrived at the ruins of the Temple of Mercury. This Roman temple was discovered when the scientific station at the top was constructed. They’re now trying to rebuild it – it is fairly large and it’s interesting to know that the Romans came to the top of this hill as well. The best thing on this day however was the adjoining exhibition room: clean, dry and warm.

Beforehand I wondered whether 1 hour and 10 minutes at the top would be enough (as that was all I had to be back in time at Clermond-Ferrand Airport). Well, I even had time for a 30 minute break at the convenient cafeteria next to the upper station. Around it there are many panorama viewpoints, but on a cloudy day there’s just nothing to enjoy.

A few more dormant volcanoes

So will it be third time lucky for the Chaine de Puys? Rarely have I read such negative reviews of a site by IUCN as these, and I guess they will continue to try preventing inscription. The Advisory Body’s opposition is based on two pillars: the high degree of human intervention and the comparatively low interest of the volcanic features on a global scale. The human intervention takes many forms, such as the antenna on top of the Puy de Dôme: “this entirely unnatural feature dominates the landscape and significantly and permanently detracts from its natural aesthetics”. Also active quarrying within the area must be stopped.

Regarding its volcanic features, “IUCN considers that the Convention should aim to list the sites that have the most significant scale and extent of natural values. Identification of the most significant sites in absolute terms, and not their "scale models", is the appropriate basis for defining Outstanding Universal Value.”

Published 18 November 2017

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