1061 of 1092 WHS have been reviewed by our community.

Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

Nan Germany - 10-May-19

Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserves is one of those really unique world heritage sites. As far as I can tell there is nothing on the list that compares to it: a forest full of butterflies. Simply amazing.

With my mandatory guide, I hiked into the park. At first, there were scores of dying butterflies on the ground. Then we ran into larger clouds of butterflies swirling in the air. And eventually, we made it to the butterfly covered trees.

Unfortunately, I visited before lunch. The time wasn't perfect. The parks are in the mountains and before lunch, it's cloudy and potentially too cold for the butterflies to fly around. They even put up a sign (see picture).

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Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape

Clyde Malta - 14-May-19

Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape

I visited this WHS in May 2019. Even though I was short of time, I was determined to drive on from Durdle Door to visit the rather remote mining landscape around St Agnes. I will surely be revisiting this WHS in the near future and next time I'll focus on other sites closer to St Just.

This time round I made the most of a gorgeous bright Spring day (although chilly and windy) to hike from St Agnes Beacon to Tubby's Head. Obviously my primary focus weren't the military remains along the Cornwall and West Devon Coast but the industrial remains of this rather complete and unique mining landscape.

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Cesky Krumlov

Yuri Samozvanov Canada - 15-May-19

Cesky Krumlov

UNique – 9/10

If you want to experience the quintessential charm of a Central European town, there is no better place than Český Krumlov. With the castle tower perched high on the river promontory above the town, and the small bridges hopping over the meandering river beneath, the landscape is idyllic to the point of feeling unreal. A visitor would be hard-pressed to find a spot in town that does not offer a view, and every corner reveals a new sight.

ESsential – 10/10

Like many other towns in Czechia, it is worth to simply take in Český Krumlov without any agenda or itinerary. Outside of the Old Town on the peninsula, there are many paths along the Vltava river and in the Castle grounds. Getting up to a height above the town is an incredibly pleasant experience as it affords you to take in the photogenic town

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Zaruma ciudad minera (T)

Watkinstravel Canada - 14-May-19

Zaruma is a small mining town that was once a major player in the Spanish colonial gold trade. Unlike typical Spanish colonial towns, Zaruma doesn't have a grid pattern though it still manages a small central plaza. Most of the older buildings are made of local wood and have a more typical local style of construction rather than a colonial one. In some areas even the sidewalks are still made of wood. Unfortunately wood doesn't age very well so in some ways the town looks older and more run down than it is but overall it was quite clean and still preserved well enough to get a good feel for what they are trying to convey with the nomination. 

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University of Coimbra

Ilya Burlak USA - 14-May-19

University of Coimbra

Coimbra University, founded in 1290, is the oldest institution of higher learning in the Portuguese-speaking world. Its recognition as a WHS links it to the city as an example of an integrated campus. The core part of the university high up on a hill above town feels like a standalone monument complex, though. The focal point, Pátio das Escolas, is home to the Royal Palace, the university tower, the main university chapel of Saõ Miguel, and the university library.

They are all worth visiting if you go for the "Program 1" combo ticket (ascending the tower requires a small additional fee). The Royal Palace housed the core university spaces from the reign of João III onward; the 16th century monarch greatly expanded the Portuguese possessions abroad as well as made Coimbra into a leading center of learning by establishing a new college of liberal arts and bringing to it many of the Portuguese scholars of the time. There are a few impressive rooms inside, of which the most impressive might be the Great Hall of Acts. The Chapel of Saint Michael, in the west wing of the architectural ensemble of the plaza, is incredibly tiled and decorated

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Blog WHS Visits

WHS #699: Tsodilo

Tsodilo currently ranks 953rd out of 1092 on our list of most visited WHS. That low position has at least 2 reasons: it isn’t a well-known site among the general travel audience and it lies somewhat out of the way from Botswana’s main tourist zone between Maun and Kasane. Those difficult logistics almost beat me as well: the only logical route is when you’re coming from Namibia (the Caprivi Strip) with a rental car like Svein & Randi did last month - then you’ll pass it.  However, I had no car and was staying in Maun. The company that I booked my safari with proposed to fly me north and put me in a “fishing lodge” for 2 nights – I could take a day tour from there. But I found a tantalizing alternative: a half-day tour by helicopter from Maun to Tsodilo!!

So on a Saturday morning I reported at Maun airport at 6.30 am for my flight up there. They fly with small helicopters, there’s only room for the pilot and 3 guests. It takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to the Tsodilo Hills. The pilot had to yell a few times to wake up Maun air traffic control – we were the first to leave just after sunrise. The flight was relaxing, flying rather low over first the farmlands with cattle and then the Okavango Delta. We saw some wildfires but no water at all in this southwestern part of the delta. Only elephants could be seen moving around.

Already from dozens of miles away the Tsodilo Hills appear on the horizon. The rest of the landscape is very flat and these hills do stand out as a beacon. There are some nasty winds blowing around them and the pilot wondered aloud why the helipad was constructed at the backside of a mountain. But we made it to the ground safe and sound. At the Tsodilo airstrip a jeep from Nxamaseri Lodge was waiting for us. The driver had driven all the way from the Okavango panhandle over an hour away just to transport us 10 minutes to the entrance of Tsodilo, from the so-called 'Male' hill to the 'Female' hill. Important as well though he brought the food for brunch - there are no amenities at Tsodilo (except toilets).

We (the pilot, the driver, myself and a local guide) however first started out on the Rhino Trail. This is the most commonly chosen path along the major rock art, at the foot of the ‘Female’ hill. At just after 8 am, it was still very cool especially on the shaded side. The path is mostly flat and sandy. The panels with rock paintings are signposted with numbers and easy to see. Some are so close to the path that you could touch them (it does damage them so that’s forbidden and also one of the reasons you can only walk around with a local guide). Others are higher up the impressive coloured rocks of this mountain. It is recommendable to bring a camera with a good zoom, as that’s the only way that you can see details like hand paintings

The trail also shows some of the caves the San hunters would hide in. A large one was used as a kind of refrigerator, to store meat and cool water in ostrich egg shells. In the early morning sand we also saw footprints of leopard and kudu – a clear sign that the wild animals depicted at the rock paintings are still out there. The oddest rock art panel is the one with a penguin (could be a duck as well) and a whale. They are said to have been made by San that came from the Namibian coast.

Back at the entrance I had a quick look in the museum. Besides the paintings the Tsodilo site is also known for its archeological findings: at the top of the mountain there were two settlements. Lots of fish bones and ostrich eggs have been discovered, but they all seem to have been whisked away to museums elsewhere. Only a few pots are shown now at the site museum, probably because the safety of the objects could not be guaranteed here. We finished our tour at the picnic site, among the squirrels, with a well-deserved brunch and cool drink.

Els - 19 May 2019

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