20 Most Recent Community Reviews
Forts and Castles Gold Coast Chris W.
I visited all 11 castles that are on the list during my week road trip along the coast of Ghana. Driving yourself is straightforward (international drivers license is needed and enforced). Google Maps is your friend by finding the castles. A short summary and some tips if you plan to visit them all too:
If yuo have just a day these 3 are a must see. Cape Coast is "best" as the guided tour has lots of information and there are some small expositions. Elmina can be done without guide I think then but ELmina is nice with local fish market. Do go there with guide so they can show you more and do make the walk up to St Jago too! Worth it.
- Cape Coast Castle, Cape Coast
- Elmina Castle, Elmina
- Fort St. Jago (Fort Conraadsburg), Elmina
Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Zos M
[Visited Ningming Cluster on Jan. 13, 2018]
English information on Hanoi-Nanning train route is limited. But coming from Hanoi, the MR1 train actually stops at Ningming Country. Hotels in Hanoi can book train tickets – mine costs $35 USD to Pingxiang Border and I bought Pingxiang-Ningming at the station for 11 RMB. The train leaves Hanoi at 9:15 PM and arrives Ningming at 7:00 AM.
Abu Mena Stanislaw Warwas
Visited in November 2017. Whatever they tell you at the branch of Ministry of Tourism in Alexandria (at the SW corner of Saad Zaghloul Sqaure), there is no direct public transport from the city to the archaeological site and the new monastery. The best way is to hire a taxi and have a good map because taxi drivers are not even aware that there’s a site like this not very far from the city – agree on the price before heading off, we paid 40 USD for six-hour trip. If you really want to get there by public transportation, take a bus to Borg el Arab International Airport and ask the driver to leave you at the junction to New Borg el Arab city. Then you have to wave for the passing cars, although hitchhiking is not recommended. If you’re lucky, you can get to New Borg el Arab, and you’ll still have almost 6 km to walk.
Coron Island Natural Biotic Area (T) Boj
The property is currently the Philippines' only mixed cultural and natural site in the tentative list, and one that has most potential for inscription.
On surface level, most tourists would be quick to compare Coron with El Nido (another property in the tentative list) in terms of natural landscape, beauty and biodiverity. Hence, there is a need to promote how the culture of the Calamian Tagbanuas - the indigenous group living in Coron - is intimately intertwined with landscape and seascape management of the island, its surrounding reefs and islets. See uploaded photo describing the vast expanse of the property.
Ivrea, industrial city of the 20th century (T) Joel Baldwin
My wife and I visited Ivrea in January 2018 on a sunny winter's afternoon. It's an easy one hour train ride from Turin's two main stations, and trains leave about every hour. The (proposed) World Heritage area is adjacent to the train station, and everywhere is fully walkable.
There's a nice trail of information signs, talking about the Olivetti company and its eponymous founders - the main employers for the town in the 20th century. The large factory building is very impressive and reminded us quite a bit of the Van Nelle factory in Rotterdam.
Etosha Pan (T) Els Slots
The Etosha Pan in northern Namibia is one of the world’s largest salt pans. It is a former lake bed of 4,730 square km. Nowadays the area is mostly a dry, saline and uninhabited desert. This combined with the high temperatures results in the fact that no flora or fauna to speak of can survive there. Only ostriches sometimes seek shelter here from predators. Vehicular traffic on the pan itself is forbidden.
On the fringes of the pan there are natural (and artificial) waterholes, grasses and shrublands that support high numbers of mammal and bird species. They are protected within the Etosha National Park, which with a founding date of 1907 is one of the oldest conservation sites in Africa.
Benguela Current Marine Ecosystem Sites (T) Els Slots
Few of you will be familiar with the Benguela Current. At least I wasn’t before I started researching my Namibia trip. At the country’s Tentative List I found an entry called The Benguela Current Marine Ecosystem Sites. It could surely do with a more catchy name and/or an epic subtitle if it ever were to be nominated, but in reality it is quite an interesting site. The Benguela Current is an ocean current that carries icy cold, wind-driven upwelled waters from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. These waters are very rich in nutrients, and they support a whole food chain from phytoplankton via fish to sea birds and marine mammals.
Takht-i-Bahi Michael Novins
I left Islamabad early on a December 2017 morning on the Grand Trunk Road to Taxila, an hour to the northwest, to visit the WHS's ruined second-century Buddhist monastery. From Taxila, it was a two-hour drive to Takht-i-Bahi, another Buddhist monastery, which was abandoned in the seventh century. From Takht-i-Bahi, it was less than an hour to Peshawar, where I arrived just in time for Friday prayers at the 17th-century Mahabat Khan Mosque. The mosque is located down one of the many narrow passageways in Qissa Khawani Bazaar, where the friendly vendors were surprised to see an overseas customer. In fact, I didn't seen any other foreign visitors in the heavily fortified and militarized city, maybe because it's less than 40 miles from the border with Afghanistan.
Rohtas Fort Michael Novins
In December 2017, I set out on the Grand Trunk Road from Lahore to Islamabad, where, after around four hours, we reached the much-improved turn off to the sixteenth-century Rohtas Fort. From what I was told, the fort receives very few western tourists; in fact, I was the only overseas tourist during my visit, so I was assigned a personal security detail. I’m not sure a guard was necessary, though, since all of the locals who approached me were only after a group photo with the foreign intruder.
Makli, Thatta Michael Novins
In December 2017, I made a day trip from Karachi to Makli necropolis, about 60 miles to its east, which might be the world’s largest funerary site -- the ten square kilometer burial ground contains approximately one million tombs, mostly built between 1570 and 1640. Almost as interesting as the abundant tombs, were two elderly snake charmers who set up shop along the dirt path leading from the entrance to the tombs. The snake charmers seek visitors to fund a musical performance on the pungi, the wind instrument whose rhythmic sound and movements appear to hypnotize a de-fanged Indian cobra. Their second act is to entice visitors to purchase a serpent to battle an Indian mongoose to the death, although the mammal’s acrobatic agility, coarse coat and resistance to snake venom ensure its victory.
Camino Real Svein Heltberg
Visiting Camino Reale de Tierra Adentro – a route which probably has a history of very harsh conditions hundreds of years ago, makes you somewhat respectful. Nevertheless as an overseas traveler the knowledge of these facts is superficial, but still we would like to look into this site - at least some of the authentic places that the site comprises of - to see what it’s like today.
On our three week visit to Mexico july 2017 we had singled out a number of sites on the “Camino” for potential visits, in addition to WHS cities. It’s easy to tick of this site with no extra effort, but we would like to see if we could find other parts of the old road.
Novodevichy Convent Yuri Samozvanov
UNique - 4/10
Located in the south-west region of Moscow, not too far from the banks of the Moskva river, Novodevichy convent does not give an impression of a religious complex at first glance. Tall, thick convent walls, crowned with twelve towers appear impenetrable and would not be out of place in a fortress protecting the approaches to the capital. The walls encase several monumental structures: the Smolensky Cathedral, several churches and the six-tiered belltower, once the tallest building outside of Kremlin.
ESsential - 4/10
Wadden Sea Kbecq
A couple of years ago we visited the German part of the Wadden Sea WHS with stops in Dorum (where you can have a look inside the Obereversand lighthouse) and Dornum (where you can make a walk along the Wadden Sea following the Heller path).
However, to get a proper feel of this WHS we decided to participate in a ‘wadloop’ (mud hike) in the Dutch part of the Wadden Sea WHS. There are various agencies offering such hikes using different routes. We opted for the one starting from the little village of Wierum to the Engelsmanplaat (Englishman sandbank) and back to Wierum.
In total it’s about 12 km which takes about 4 hours, a short break on the sandbank included. A guide is recommended (or even obligatory?) since the sea currents can be very dangerous.
After recently visiting Chernigov in Ukraine, I’ve had an urge to write about my admiration for this related city of Veliky Novgorod in Russia. I have visited this city twice, in summer 2005 and winter 2009. I like this city more than any cities in the Golden Ring of Moscow simply because it seems to be historically more important and there seem to be more variety of attractions here.
I can’t remember how I got there from St. Petersburg, except that one of the two times I got on a bus from the main bus station in St. Petersburg, which was somewhat far from any of the train stations in St. Petersburg.
Fishriver Canyon (T) Els Slots
Spectacular New Year’s Day visits are starting to become a habit of mine: it was Virunga in 2016 (gorillas on New Year’s Eve, chimps the next morning) and the Rock Islands of Palau in 2017. On the first of January 2018, I woke up at the edge of Namibia’s Fish River Canyon. I had only been sleeping intermittently because of the strong, howling winds blowing through the canyon and along the chalets of the Fish River Lodge which has been built exactly on the rim. From my bed I could see the sun rise above the canyon, constantly changing the illumination of the rocks.
Okinoshima Island AC
I visited 3 out of the 8 inscribed components of this site on a day trip in early December, namely Hetsu-miya on Kyushu, and Nakatsu-miya and Okitsu-miya Yohaisho both on Oshima. I of course could not visit the main attraction of this site and its attendant islands. As for the tombs I found them to be a hassle to reach and so skipped those.
There are a few direct buses to Hetsu-miya from Fukuoka, and the first one of these on Saturdays (maybe on Sundays too but I did not check on that since I made the visit on a Saturday) goes all the way to the Konominato Port from where the ferry to Oshima can be taken.
Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Solivagant
The first problem regarding our intended visit to Thungyai - Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries (HKK) was where exactly to enter this very large site, most of which is remote and inaccessible. The 2014 map on the UNESCO web site is described as a “Clarification”. It may indeed be better than the even worse one of 1990 but is pretty useless for identifying roads which go into the inscribed area or even for relating the park boundaries to those on other maps which did show roads such as Google or our paper “Reise Knowhow”! In the end I found this (and click on “Open Map”) which showed just 2 entry points to HKK from the East. These would seem to be the same as those referred to by Frederick Dawson in his review below.
Venetian Works of Defence Jay T
One doesn't have to look any farther than the city walls of Kotor in Montenegro to see they are part of the Venetian Works of Defence Between 16th and 17th Centuries World Heritage Site. On the wall near the Maritime Gate to the city is a carving of the Lion of Saint Mark, symbol of the city of Venice. Above the city walls are fortified defenses snaking up a mountainside to the Castle of Saint John. When I visited Kotor in October this year, my first goal was to hike the fortifications to the castle for a view of the old town and the bay. There are many steps and switchbacks along the ramparts leading up the mountain, but there are also ample opportunities to stop and enjoy the views. Somewhere around a third of the way up the mountain is the Church of Our Lady of Remedy, which is small but scenic.
Ban Chiang Solivagant
Oh, how I love WHS like Ban Chiang (BC) - It may not offer iconic monuments but it is relatively infrequently visited and uncrowded, covers a lesser known but interesting/significant historical period/culture and has plenty of “issues” regarding its inscription and recent history, together with opportunities for “post-visit investigation”!! Since its discovery in 1966, BC has experienced world-wide fame as the cradle of a “newly discovered civilisation” which had independently developed its own bronze making technology, followed by archaeological controversy and revision, and looting of its treasures, leading to international action to try to recover them. Its pottery artefacts fill private collections Worldwide and grace musea in USA, London and Berlin. I report (at some length!!) on some of the “issues” below in the light of our visit in Nov 2017.
Historic Centre of Tchernigov, 9th -13th centuries (T) Tsunami
I visited Chernihiv (Chernigov in Russian) in December 2017.
The provincial city of 300,000 people 100 miles NE of Kiev was surprisingly modern, well, at least the center was. It was filled with pleasant cafes and was completely devoid of the physical turmoils in the east of the country or the political one in Kiev, at least to the eyes of this foreigner who stayed there only for 3 nights.
But this is a very historic city. In fact it's so much so that I'd call this city Ukrainian version of Veliky Novgorod in Russia, which I have visited twice before. Indeed both cities played major roles in the formation of Kievan Rus in the 9th century, which is the predecessor to both Ukraine and Russia of today, and come with the oldest church in each country.
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