If you ever need to salt your potato, a trip to Lake Magadi may be worth your while.
- Lake Magadi is a lake found in the Great Rift Valley of Kenya, Africa, that has a notably high salt content; and ‘magadi’ means ‘soda’ in the native Swahili language.
- Lake Magadi covers an area greater than 100 square kilometres (39 square miles), and it is roughly 32 kilometres (20 miles) in length and 3.2 kilometres (2 miles) in width, at its furthermost points.
- The salt density of Lake Magadi is quite high, with some salt deposits in the lake reaching 40 metres (131 feet) in thickness.
- Lake Magadi is mostly fed by water sources of a high salt content, including various hot springs on the edge of the lake, and some streams, particularly during the wet season; and the lake has no outlet, as the water mostly evaporates.
- Due to Lake Magadi’s large quantities of salt, one of the only fauna species found in the lake is a cichlid fish, with the scientific name Alcolapia grahami, which is endemic to the edges of the lake where the water temperature is tolerable.
- A type of mineral – trona – can be found abundant in Lake Magadi, from which sodium carbonate, or soda ash is extracted; a chemical that is commonly used in dyeing fabric, and creating glass and paper.
- Lake Magadi is among the largest sources of trona in the world; and the lake is surrounded by igneous rocks, and sits at at the lowest part of the valley it is found in, at approximately 600 m (1968.5 feet) above sea level.
- When Lake Magadi contains water, typically up to a metre deep (3.2 feet), it is a bright pink colour, as a result of the salt content.
- Lake Magadi is a popular wading and breeding site for flocks of flamingos, and other birds also gather in the area, making it a favoured bird watching location.
- Lake Magadi is under threat from pollution from nearby areas, partly from environmentally hazardous farming methods, and as a result the quality of soda ash mined from the lake has decreased in recent years.
Kairu P, Lake Magadi Slowly Choking, 2015, Daily Nation,http://www.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/DN2/Lake-Magadi-slowly-choking–/-/957860/2798804/-/g28hplz/-/index.html
The bright colours of Xochimilco really convey a sense of fun!
- Xochimilco is a district or borough of Mexico City, in Mexico, North America, and a lake of the same name is also found in the region.
- The area of Xochimilco comprises of a range of roughly 125 square kilometres (48 square miles), and contains many canals, made hundreds of years ago in the Pre-Hispanic period.
- Xochimilco was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, as part of the historic centre of Mexico City, due to its long-established extensive canal network.
- The many canals that snake throughout Xochimilco, stem from the nearby lake and are utilised for transportation, often using brightly coloured boats named ‘trajineras’, and as a result, the area has become a significant tourist attraction.
- In 1928, the Mexican government created Xochimilco as part of a restructuring project of Mexico City, separating the city into 16 boroughs, and as of 2010, around 415,000 individuals resided in the district.
- Originally Xochimilco was the area of which a city of the same name was located, and the site is now considered a part of the borough’s historical centre.
- There are many man-made islands in the Xochimilco area, know as ‘chinampas’, which are surrounded by the canals, one of which is known as the Island of Dolls, as many dolls can be found hanging there.
- The term ‘Xochimilco’ comes from the native Aztec language, translated as ‘flower field’ or similar, referring to the area once being a site used for agricultural purposes, mainly growing flowers and crops on the chinampas; and the area is still known for its flower production.
- Xochimilco’s canals are threatened by pollution, urbanisation, introduced fish species, and over-pumping of the water which has led to severe decline in water levels; all of which contribute to risking its status as a World Heritage Site.
- In Xochimilco, 49 different festivals are run in the borough each year, with the main festivals celebrating the most beautiful women in the region, ice-cream, and olives, among other things.
Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco, 2016, UNESCO World Heritage Convention, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/412
Is it worth climbing the treacherous heights of the Mustang Caves just to bury the dead?
- The Mustang Caves is a network of manmade caves found in a remote area of Nepal, in the Himalaya mountain region, in Asia.
- The ‘Mustang Caves’ are also known as the ‘Caves of Mustang’ and ‘Sky Caves of Nepal’.
- Some of the Mustang Caves reach an elevation of 47 metres (155 feet) from the valley floor.
- Around 10,000 caves are thought to be associated with the Mustang Caves network, many of which were homes, contain murals, or are sites of burials.
- Originally the Mustang Caves were not accessible to foreigners as a result of political unrest in nearby Tibet, and since 1992, it has been open to visitors who obtain a permit.
- At least 8000 documents have been discovered in the Mustang Caves, most thought to originate from around the 1400s AD, and many are works of a spiritual nature.
- Climbing up the Mustang Caves can be dangerous task, as rocks ahead are prone to loosening or crumbling, while the stability of the ledges are unpredictable.
- It is thought that the Mustang Caves were originally used as gravesites, and were later adapted as shelters and homes, and by the 1400s, they were mostly abandoned and used for religious purposes.
- Approximately two thirds to three quarters of the human bones found occupying the Mustang Caves have cuts on them, possibly as a result of the civilisation’s burial procedure of slicing the flesh off the bones and allowing vultures to consume it.
- In the Mustang Caves area there are a few small towns and villages, and as the area once belonged to Tibet and was closed to outsiders for a long time, it has kept much of its historical language and culture, most of which reflects Tibetan customs.
Don’t try your luck taking a dip in the Boiling River of Mayantuyacu.
- The Boiling River of Mayantuyacu is a river that winds through the Amazon rainforest in central Peru, in South America.
- The Boiling River of Mayantuyacu is also known as ‘Shanay-timpishka’, named by the local natives, translated to mean something like “boiled with the heat of the sun”.
- The length of the heated part of the Boiling River of Mayantuyacu is about 6.4 kilometres (4 miles), with a depth of up to 5 metres (16 feet) and a width of up to 24 metres (80 feet).
- The temperature of the Boiling River of Mayantuyacu ranges from 50°C to 100°C (122°F – 212°F), and it can quickly cause a third degree burn – burning all skin layers.
- The Boiling River of Mayantuyacu is a peculiar phenomenon, as no active volcano is located near the river – the closest is approximately 700 kilometres (430 miles) away, as the source of other boiling rivers is typically volcano activity, though it is likely fed by a number of hot springs.
- The Boiling River of Mayantuyacu is considered sacred, and is believed to be a place with spiritual and healing powers by the natives, who have long known of its existence.
- The Boiling River of Mayantuyacu is the final resting place of animals unfortunate enough to wander into the water, as the temperatures cook the animals alive.
- Robert Moran, an American geologist discovered the Boiling River of Mayantuyacu’s in the 193os, though it wasn’t until 2011 that scientific documentation began, by American geoscientist Andrés Ruzo, who rediscovered the river, led there by his aunt, after hearing tales of it twenty years earlier.
- The local legend explains that the hot waters of the Boiling River of Mayantuyacu were released by a giant mythical serpent named ‘Yacumama’.
- Due to its isolated location, the trek to the Boiling River of Mayantuyacu is potentially dangerous, and it is about an hour from the nearest health centre and three hours from the nearest hospital.
You may have braved Hashima Island… but can you brave the Island of Dolls?
- The Island of Dolls is a man-made island, known as a ‘chinampa’, in a canal in the Xochimilco area, approximately 28 km south of Mexico City.
- ‘The Island of Dolls’ is also known as ‘Isla de las Muñecas’ in the native Spanish, and as of 2013, it was decorated with over 1,500 dolls.
- It is said that in the 1950s, or perhaps in the 1920s, a girl drowned in the canal next to the Island of Dolls, and a doll was subsequently hung on a tree on the island, to appease her spirit.
- A recluse, Julián Santana Barrera, was the lone resident of the Island of Dolls until his death, and was the person who began the tradition of suspending dolls on the island.
- Barrera is said to have continued collecting dolls to display on the Island of Dolls, so the spirit of the drowned girl could play with the dolls, or so the girl’s spirit would not continue to haunt him.
- The original dolls of the Island of Dolls were often found in the canal; rubbish sites; or given to Barrera in exchange for his farm produce.
- In 2001, Barrera, who inhabited the Island of Dolls for about fifty years, drowned in the canal, supposedly in the same spot as the legendary girl had drowned years prior, and it is possible it was a deliberate act, so that he could join the girl’s spirit.
- The Island of Dolls is a site of particular tourist interest, and takes approximately 2 hours to navigate to the island by boat, with many visitors bringing their own dolls to hang on the island.
- The dolls of the Island of Dolls are of poor condition, weathered by wind, rain and general water submersion, and often a haven for insects; while many are without clothes, limbs and even bodies.
- The Island of Dolls story is considered by many as fictional, and simply told by the hermit to explain his bizarre collection of dolls, while visitors to the island claim dolls have whispered to them, while some superstitiously believe that the dolls ‘awaken’ during the night.
Isla de las Monecas -The Island of Dolls, n.d, Isla de las Monecas, http://www.isladelasmunecas.com/
Ilulissat Icefjord makes even white a stunning site.
- Ilulissat Icefjord is a glacier-carved channel of water found in the coastal area of west Greenland, near the town of Ilulissat.
- ‘Ilulissat Icefjord’ is also known as ‘Ilulissat Isfjord’ in Danish and ‘Illulissat Kangia’ in native Greenlandic.
- Ilulissat Icefjord is typically littered with icebergs as a result of ice breaking from the Jakobshavn glacier, or ‘Sermeq Kujalleq’ as it is called in Greenlandic, that feeds into the fjord, and large icebergs typically bank up at the mouth of the fjord as the water there is not deep enough for the icebergs to pass through.
- In 2004, the UNESCO World Heritage Convention designated Ilulissat Icefjord as a World Heritage Site, and fjord has an area of approximately 40,240 hectares (99,435 acres).
- The glacier of Ilulissat Icefjord, the Jakobshavn glacier, disperses 10% of all the ice released from Greenland’s glaciers, which equates to 46 cubic kilometres (11 cubic miles) per year, a figure greater than any other glacier in the world apart from those in Antarctica, and as of 2015, it moves approximately 40 metres (131 feet) a day, making it the fastest on earth, and it is gathering speed each year.
- Due to the unique nature of Ilulissat Icefjord and its significant ice formations, the area is a site of extensive research that has been undertaken for centuries, and as a result is said to facilitate insight into climate change.
- Ilulissat Icefjord begins at the Jakobshavn glacier, that forms from the Greenlandic ice sheet which covers most of the country, and exits into Disko Bay.
- As a protected area, and for safety reasons, Ilulissat Icefjord has restrictions on various transport methods in the area, and visitors to the area may make use of scenic helicopter flights; dog sledding; or hiking on foot; and while there is generally an opportunity to sail around the mouth of the fjord, boating is restricted in the fjord.
- Icebergs that travel from Ilulissat Icefjord, move into Disko Bay and out into Baffin Bay, and eventually into the North Atlantic Ocean.
- Among the best times of year to visit Ilulissat Icefjord is during the summer when the sun never sleeps, causing the sky to silhouette in bright oranges behind the ice.