Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Islands of Pirates

Caribbean Sea, 50 miles east of Puerto Rico. The small twin-engine has just been lying on the dusty track of Tortilla, the island of turtles. From the scenery was nothing short of spectacular: some sixty green islands, islets and reefs. The first sensation I felt on the ground is just off the warm embrace of the wind light. We look around. Across the street, to greet us, there is a tiny airport. After the formalities for entry rented a car and just outside we see to have arrived in holidays paradise. The road that runs along the sea of endless beaches seem to follow ... Stroke from time to time by the wind gently sways the palms look like elegant ladies and sinuous.

The British Virgin Islands have preserved intact for centuries throughout their shocking beauty still boast the most beautiful beaches and desert of the world, a sea warm and crystal clear with a thick barrier reef that encloses an extraordinary variety of fish and the remains of beautiful Spanish galleons lie on the bottom with great chests that are the delight of divers. For the less experienced enough to have a mask, suddenly, the sensation of swimming in an aquarium filled with coral and colorful fish. For the more fortunate can also happen to hear the calls of whales that number reaches these seas as early as can spot from a boat, and in these cases it is good to switch off the engines, or from the sky, with Fly BVI departing from Beef Island. They allow you to attend for just 150 yards to one unforgettable sight: the girls take refuge in the coves where they give birth to children with whom then swim together, boys, off, competing for mating. Some whales sighted reach 15 meters and are able to do seem very small boats that cross many of those seas.The BVI, so the habitue chiamano the British Virgin Islands, however, are primarily a vacation packages paradise for sailors around the world. Dotted with dozens of marine resorts and deserted bays, the coasts of the BVI are all a perfect harbor for the boats sailing on the sea are carried away by the constant trade winds blowing. For those who can not afford the luxury of a boat for himself, there are many rental companies that offer places for mini cruise boat to measure. The most beautiful anchorages are located in Sopers Hole Road and Harbor: the first is deep and sheltered and offers daily connections by boat to St. Thomas and St. John, the other is the largest port of the island and you can breathe atmosphere a little 'retro thanks to the many colonial buildings that skirt and the swarm of people who work in the shipyards.

Leaving the sea from where to explore Tortola. The island has 15 thousand inhabitants, its old city is Road Town, the administrative capital of the BVI. The city looks cheerful dozens of pastel houses alternate with stalls of fruit and colorful coral beaches: from Long Bay to Smuggler's Cove up to Apple Bay, the surfer's beach. Nearby is the Bombas Shack Bar sgangheratissimo a bar decorated with things picking up here and there. The owner, a former surfer, is rivers of beer and rum to the patrons, an accomplice to the Caribbean music and the roar of the surf. The local rum is now a rarity. The only distillery on the island is the old remains Call wood Distillery in Cane Garden Bay, producer of the famous Arundel. It was owned by a buccaneer, Richard Call wood, great grandfather of the owner and still the rum is produced following the old recipes handed down from generation to generation by the Afro-Caribbean population: the sugar cane is cut and pressed, the juice collected in large boilers and boiled, and after a series of steps the rum is finally ready for the aging of four years in old oak casks.

On the island, near Mount Sage, you can also go trekking. The area also contains an ancient rainforest. Along the paths, some practices, even on horseback, meet rare species of colorful birds, frangipani trees, agave plants and ginger. From Road Town, in the direction of MacNamara, take an old mule track that leads to the ruins of Fort Charlotte, an old fort built during the years when the pirates infested those seas. Strategically located on Sir Francis Drake Passage, the place is a great lookout point for the whole island. To the south, however, the gaze is lost in the vast expanses of plantations of sugar cane, bananas and pineapple.

From Tortola reach in half an hour, with a ferry boat, Virgin Gorda. Columbus named the island "Fat Virgin" because of its slender shape the sides and round the center, is long and 16 km wide just three.It has excellent docks: from North Sound, a veritable oasis for those who practice water sports in Anguilla Point famous for the spa overlooking the sea where you can enjoy huge lobsters and oysters just caught up to Calquhon Reef suitable for boats that exceed five feet of draft. Near Spanish Town, the marina, is The Baths, a beach characterized by huge granite rocks as high as ten meters that form caves and coves of exceptional beauty, unspoiled natural pools and lagoons. Just go up a bit 'inwards to enjoy a wilderness: twisted mangrove roots provide an excellent refuge for pelicans, herons and iguanas whose presence is marked by characteristic signs that read "Caution Iguana Crossing".

But you can not leave without first having BVI Anegada. The best way to achieve it to travel by sea. This can be seen just, its highest point so far only eight meters and is for this reason that Columbus called it "Anegada", or submerged. The tiny coral atoll is also accessible by small planes from Beef Island or Tortola, in just 15 minutes. From above, what you see is only a thin strip of white sand lost in a turquoise sea. Its reef over the centuries has caused the sinking of numerous sailing ships and for this motivoera formerly inhabited by the buccaneers who used it as a basis for spotting ships in distress and pillage. The island is now home to just 150 souls who live by cultivating the land and fishing.

Simple people, the courteous and quiet, dallandatura almost dancing. Their days are punctuated by the rise and the sunset. There are few tourists, no fun at night but only untouched nature and silence. At sunset, near Flamingo Pond, will be showcased dozens of pink flamingos, undisturbed, fishing in the lagoon small fish. Continuing along the road, you come across a small wooden resort run by a lovely lady who has left the English to England to settle on the island. Lives alone with a kid named Charlie and leisure that is written in the local newspaper. Facilities include exotic breakfast on the beach and dinners of lobster and crab that she fisheries. He has a gentle manner, but the view is a bit 'sad, like someone who has fled from God knows what. Even Steven, a former U.S. Navy Seals, a kind of Rambo, lives on organizing tours for tourists from sharks in search of strong emotions. He left behind a life certainly not common. With him, lives his brother, a fire-eater who suddenly shows on the beach.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Malta Cities Guide

A Guide to the Three Cities of Malta
Malta is a southern European country which is located centrally in the Mediterranean Sea just to the south of Italy. It is a small country which is only 300 square kilometers in size although its location made it strategically important in history and it has been a prized possession over the years. A number of the powerful nations in European history have ruled the country including the Greeks, Romans, French and British although it gained its independence in 1964 and is now a Republic. Another of the powers that ruled the country was known as the Knights of St. John which was a religious/military order that prospered in the Middle Ages. They were responsible for many of the fortifications constructed on Malta, the most famous of which is the three cities of Malta. The three cities comprise Cospicua, Vittoriosa and Senglea and these are surrounded by a line of fortifications which is known as the Cottonera Line. Some information about the cities includes the following.

Cospicua is the largest of the three cities and is centrally located between the other two. All three are in the area surrounding the Great Harbor of Malta which is a natural harbor that has been in use for thousands of years. The history of Cospicua as a maritime location dates back to Phoenician times around 600BC and the area of the city has been in use since this time. However the development of the city itself did not really take off until the 18th century when the Knights of St. John constructed a dockyard. This has been extensively used into the modern day although its use as a working dockyard has declined in recent years and plans are now in place to transform it into a tourist attraction and commercial centre. The patron of the city is the Virgin Mary and there is a church dedicated to her in the city.Other tour packages attractions to see include the fortifications surrounding the city, St Helen’s Gate and Bir Mula Heritage which is a museum documenting much of the history of the city. The city also stages a famous feast on the 8th of December each year which is held to commemorate the Immaculate Conception.

Vittoriosa is a small, ancient city on the south side of the Great Harbor of Malta. It also goes by the name of Birgu and its locality is perfect for safe anchorage which made the area of the city well used from the earliest of times. Many of the powers that have ruled Malta contributed to the development of Vittoriosa. However the city really came to prominence when the Knights of St. John were the rulers of the country as they made it their base and also the capital city of the country. The carried out much work on Fort St. Angelo which lies at the head of the city and also the other fortifications which surround the city. Vittoriosa played a vital part of the defense of the country during the 1565 Siege of Malta when the Ottoman Empire attacked. The city was never captured and its defenses held out to help the Knights of St. John gain a decisive victory. However not long after this the Grand Master of the Knights began construction of a new city which was to be known as Valetta and in 1571 this became the new capital of Malta. Vittoriosa lost much of its influence following this. Today the city is home to around 3,000 residents and is a popular vacation package destination in Malta. There are many attractions to see and some of these include Fort St. Angelo, the Malta Maritime Museum, the Vittoriosa 1565 Museum and St Lawrence’s Church. The many holidays attractions make it an interesting city visit and its beautiful location adds to the appeal.

Senglea is the third of the three cities and this was constructed by Claude De La Sengle from whom it gets its name. It also played a pivotal part in the 1565 Siege of Malta and as it resisted the attempts of the invading Ottoman Empire it was given the name Civitas Invicta meaning undefeated citizens. The area of the city was originally used as hunting grounds by the Knights of St. John although was eventually developed by Claude De La Sengle into the city it is today. It currently has a population of around 3,500 people although this is greatly reduced from earlier times. It suffered much damage during the Second World War as it was bombarded by German aircraft and much of the population left at this time never to return. The city has a few famous travel attractions apart from the fortifications which surround it. The statue of Jesus Christ the Redeemer is the most well known of these and this is located in the Basilica which is a beautiful building to see. Other tour attractions include the Gardjola Garden and the local band club which plays at the festivals staged in the city.

The three cities of Malta are an interesting place to visit and see some of the history of the country. The fortifications which surround them are an impressive sight and a trip to see the three cities is sure to be an enjoyable and fascinating experience.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Eco tourism in India

Eco-tourism is more than a catch phrase for nature loving travel and recreation. Eco-tourism is consecrated for preserving and sustaining the diversity of the world's natural and cultural environments. It accommodates and entertains visitors in a way that is minimally intrusive or destructive to the environment and sustains & supports the native cultures in the locations it is operating in. Responsibility of both travelers and service providers is the genuine meaning for Eco-tourism.
Eco-tourism also endeavours to encourage and support the diversity of local economies for which the India tourism related income is important. With support from tourists, local services and producers can compete with larger, foreign companies and local families can support themselves. Besides all these, the revenue produced from tourism helps and encourages governments to fund conservation projects and training programs.
Saving the environment around you and preserving the natural luxuries and forest life, that's what eco-tourism is all about. Whether it's about a nature camp or organizing trekking trips towards the unspoilt and inaccessible regions, one should always keep in mind not to create any mishap or disturbance in the life cycle of nature.
Eco-tourism focuses on local cultures, wilderness adventures, volunteering, personal growth and learning new ways to live on our vulnerable planet. It is typically defined as travel to vacation package destinations where the flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. Responsible Eco-tourism includes programs that minimize the adverse effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and enhance the cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural factors, initiatives by hospitality providers to promote recycling, energy efficiency, water reuse, and the creation of economic opportunities for local communities are an integral part of Eco-tourism.
Historical, biological and cultural conservation, preservation, sustainable development etc. are some of the fields closely related to Eco-Tourism. Many professionals have been involved in formulating and developing eco-tourism policies. They come from the fields of Geographic Information Systems, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Photography, Marine Biology and Oceanography, National and State Park Management, Environmental Sciences, Women in Development, Historians and Archaeologists, etc.
Eco-tourism is considered the fastest growing market in the tourism industry, according to the World Tourism Organization with an annual growth rate of 5% worldwide and representing 6% of the world gross domestic product, 11.4% of all consumer spending - not a market to be taken lightly.

What is Eco-tourism?

Fundamentally, eco-tourism means making as little environmental impact as possible and helping to sustain the indigenous populace, thereby encouraging the preservation of wildlife and habitats when visiting a place. This is responsible form of India tours and tourism development, which encourages going back to natural products in every aspect of life. It is also the key to sustainable ecological development.
The International Eco-tourism Society defines eco-tourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." This means that those who implement and participate in Eco-tourism activities should follow the following principles:
Minimize impact

Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect
Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts
Provide direct financial benefits for conservation
Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people
Raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climate
Support international human rights and labour agreements
Aware of the Environment - Today the "Green Laws" of conservation are making people aware of how man and the environment can live symbiotically for more time to come and eco-tourism is the only way to maximize the economic, environmental and social benefits of tourism. Everyone is a stakeholder in the process and we clearly need to avoid our past shortcomings and negative impact that they have had.

In India too the movement is gathering momentum with more and more travel and travel related organisation's are addressing the needs of the eco-tourists and promoting tour itineraries through eco-tourism in the country. Some basic do's and don'ts of eco-tourism are listed below:
Carry back all non-degradable litter such as empty bottles, tins, plastic bags etc. These must not
litter the environment or be buried. They must be disposed in municipal dustbins only.
Observe the sanctity of holy sites, temples and local cultures.
Cut noise pollution. Do not blare aloud radios, tape recorders or other electronic entertainment
equipment in nature resorts, sanctuaries and wildlife parks.
In case temporary toilets are set-up near campsites, after defecation, cover with mud or sand. Make
sure that the spot is at least 30 meters away from the water source.
Respect people's privacy while taking photographs. Ask for prior permission before taking a

Do not take away flora and fauna in the forms of cuttings, seeds or roots. It is illegal, especially in
the Himalayas. The environment is really delicate in this region and the bio-diversity of the region
has to be protected at all costs.

Do not use pollutants such as detergent, in streams or springs while washing and bathing.
Do not use wood as fuel to cook food at the campsite.
Do not leave cigarettes butts or make open fires in the forests.
Do not consume aerated drinks, alcohol, drugs or any other intoxicant and throw bottles in the wild.
Do not tempt the locals, especially children by offering them foodstuff or sweets. Respect local
Polythene and plastics are non biodegradable and unhealthy for the environment and must not be
used and littered.
As a traveller, you will have an impact on the environment and culture of the place you are visiting. Here are some rules of thumb to make this impact positive!

Golden Rules When You Travel
Learn about your destination before you get there. Read guidebooks, travel articles, histories,
and/or novels by local authors and pay particular attention to customs such as greetings,
appropriate dress, eating behaviours, etc. Being sensitive to these customs will increase local
acceptance of you as a tourist and enrich your trip.

Follow established guidelines. Ask your eco-tour operator, guide and/or the local authorities what
their guidelines are for limiting tourism's impact on the environment and local culture. Staying on
trails, packing up your trash, and remaining set distances away from wildlife are a few ways to
minimize your impact in sensitive areas.

Seek out and support locally owned businesses. Support local businesses during your eco-travels to
ensure maximum community and conservation benefit from your spending.
Eco-Tourism in India is still at a very nascent stage, but there are for sure conscious efforts to save the fragile Himalayan Eco System and culture and heritage of the indigenous people, which is probably the largest concentration in the world.
Holiday Camping vis a vis Hotels accommodation are gathering momentum amongst the metropolis traveller. A plethora of holiday camping options are available in the Himalayan belt, where soft adventure tourism is packaged with holiday camping to create an acceptable eco-tourism product. Resorts tucked deep inside jungles of Karnataka, House-boats of Kerala, Tree Houses at Vythiri combine to make India one of the most diverse eco-tourism destinations on the planet.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Jammu kashmir Ladakh

Set like a jewelled crown on the map of India, Kashmir is a multi-faceted diamond, changing its hues with the seasons - always extravagantly beautiful. Two major Himalayan ranges, the Great Himalayan Range and the Pir Panchal, surround the landscape from the north and south respectively. They are the source of great rivers, which flow down into the valleys, forested with orchards and decorated by lily-laden lakes.The Mughals aptly called Kashmir ‘Paradise on Earth’ where they journeyed across the hot plains of India, to the valley’s cool environs in summer. Here they laid, with great love and care, Srinagar’s many formal, waterfront gardens, now collectively known as the Mughal Gardens. Anecdotes of four and five centuries ago describe their love for these gardens, and the rivalries that centred around their ownership. They also patronized the development of art & craft among the people of Kashmir, leaving behind a heritage of exquisite artisanship among thes people and making the handicrafts of the land prized gifts all over the world.Kashmir is a land where myriad holiday ideas are realised. In winter, when snow carpets the mountains, there is skiing, tobogganing, sledge-riding, etc. along the gentle slopes. In spring and summer, the honey-dewed orchards, rippling lakes and blue skies beckon every soul to sample the many delights the mountains and valleys have to offer. Golfing at 2,700 m above the sea, water-skiing in the lakes and angling for prized rainbow trout, or simply drifting down the willow fringed alleys of lakes in shikaras and living in gorgeous houseboats are some of the most favoured ones.

Where To Stay In Paradise - Houseboats
Many tourists who book tour packages are attracted to Srinagar by the charm of staying on a houseboat, which provides the unique experience of living on the water in a cedar-panelled elegant bedroom, with all the conveniences of a luxury hotel. Srinagar's thousand or so houseboats are moored along sections of the Dal and Nagin Lakes and river Jhelum, each decorated fancifully and named romantically and even whimsically. Like hotels, houseboats vary in degree of luxury and have been accordingly graded by the Department of Tourism. A luxury houseboat, like a luxury hotel has fine furniture, good carpets and modern bathroom fittings, while the ‘D category’ (the lowest category) of houseboats, like low-budget hotels, is spartanly furnished. Like hotels too, houseboats vary widely in their locations. Some overlook the main road, others look out onto lotus gardens and yet others face tiny local markets and villages, all right in the middle of the lake! All houseboats, regardless of category, have highly personalized service. Not only is there always a "houseboy" for every boat, but the owner and his family are never far away. The cost per day of hiring a houseboat includes all meals and free rides from the houseboat to the nearest jetty and back, as no houseboat on the lakes is directly accessible from the banks.

How To Reach Paradise
Indian, Jet Airways, Kingfihser Airlines, Jet Lite, Deccan, Spice Jet, Go Airl operate regular daily flights to Srinagar from Delhi, Mumbai and Jammu. They leave from Delhi directly, from Delhi via Jammu, and from Bombay via New Delhi and Jammu.
Ladakh - Land Of Endless Discoveries
Ladakh is a land abounding in awesome physical features, set in an enormous and spectacular environment. Bounded by two of the world's mightiest mountain ranges, the Karakoram in the north and the Great Himalaya in the south, it is traversed by two other parallel chains, the Ladakh Range and the Zanskar Range.For nearly 900 years, from the middle of the 10th century, Ladakh was an independent kingdom, its ruling dynasties descending from the kings of old Tibet. The kingdom attained its greatest geographical extent and glory in the early 17th century under the famous king Singge Namgyal, whose domain extended across Spiti and western Tibet right up to the Mayum-la, beyond the sacred sites of Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar.
Gradually, perhaps partly due to the fact that it was politically stable, Ladakh became recognized as the best trade route between the Punjab and Central Asia. For centuries it was traversed by caravans carrying textiles, spices, raw silk, carpets, dyestuffs, narcotics, etc. Heedless of the land’s rugged terrain and apparent remoteness, merchants entrusted their goods to relays of pony transporters who took about two months to carry them from Amritsar to the Central Asian towns of Yarkand and Khotan. On this long route, Leh was the midway stop, and developed into a bustling entrepot, its bazars thronged with merchants from distant countries.

The famous pashmina (better known as cashmere) also came down from the high-altitude plateau of eastern Ladakh and western Tibet, through Leh, to Srinagar, where skilled artisans transformed it into shawls known the world over for their softness and warmth. Ironically, it was this lucrative trade that finally spelt the doom of the independent kingdom. It attracted the covetous attention of Gulab Singh, the ruler of Jammu in the early 19th century, who sent his general Zorawar Singh to invade Ladakh in 1834 AD. There followed a decade of war and turmoil, which ended with the emergence of the British as the paramount power in north India. Ladakh, together with the neighbouring province of Baltistan, was incorporated into the newly created state of Jammu & Kashmir. Just over a century later, this union was disturbed by the partition of India, as a result of which Baltistan became part of Pakistan, while Ladakh remained in India as part of the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

Where To Stay In Ladakh
Leh offers many kinds of accommodation to suit almost every one to stay for vacations. Most of the hotels are family-run establishments and, therefore, service is more personalized than professional. Hotels are classified into A, B,C and D/economy categories while guest houses are divided into upper, medium and economy class. Tariff for A category hotels generally include all meals, offering a choice or combination of Continental, Chinese and Indian cuisine, with one or two local fares thrown in for variety.The guest house is a less formal accommodation, offering rooms in a part of the residential house or its annexe, where the guests can share the host family’s kitchen and living room for meals. Apart from the reasonably low tariff offered for accommodation ranging from very good to merely basic, the guest house system also provides an opportunity for the tourists to see and experience Ladakhi life from the inside.

How To Reach Ladakh
Indian, Jet Airways, Deccan operate regular daily flights to Leh from Delhi, Weekly flights do operate from Srinagar to Leh.
Jammu - The City of Temples
Jammu region is home to several ethnic communities which follow traditional life-styles with distinctive cultures of their own. Among these communities, the Dogras constitute the dominant group. They are mainly concentrated in the outer hill and outer plain zones covering Kathua, Udhampur and Jammu districts and the lower parts of Rajouri district. A martial community by tradition, their folklore centres on eulogies for war heroes, both legendary and historical. Even the region’s architectural heritage, comprising elaborate castles and hilltop fortifications that are visible everywhere, bespeak the community' s long-drawn preoccupation with battles and ruling of distant lands. Yet the region’s history is not completely bereft of traditions of art and culture. Thus, while the troops fought battles in distant areas, the royalty and the nobility nurtured art and culture. The Pahari miniature paintings that have justly become famous throughout India, are the finest examples of their artistic achievements.
Nestling in the foothills of the Himalayas, with the river Tawi flowing alongside, is the place that Raja Jambu Lochan discovered one day while he was on a hunting trip. Legend has it that he came upon a clearing where he saw a sight that left him wonderstruck. A tiger and a goat stood side-by-side, drinking water from the same place in the Tawi River. He was so struck by this unusual sight that he decided to build a city on this land where no living creature seemed to bear enmity towards each other. Little is known of Jammu’s subsequent history until, in 1730 AD, it came under the rule of the Dogra king, Raja Dhruv Deva. The Dogra rulers moved their capital to the present site and Jammu became an important centre of art and culture, especially the Pahari school of paintings.
Today, as if in testimony to Raja Jambu Lochan’s vision, the city of Jammu has come to be known as the ‘City Of Temples’. Innumerable temples and shrines, with glittering ‘shikhars’ soaring into the sky, dot the city’s skyline, creating the ambience of a holy and peaceful city

Where To Stay Jammu - The City Of Temples
Jammu City offers a variety of accommodation options for the visitors, ranging from luxury hotels to humble lodges.
How To Reach Jammu - The City Of Templess
Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Kingfisher, Deccan, Jet Lite, Spic Jet, Go Air operates scheduled services between Jammu & Delhi and Jammu & Srinagar/Leh. Rail Jammu Tawi is an important railhead of the Northern India. The main trains operating to/ from Jammu are: