The United Nations (UN)General Assembly has approved the adoption of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The resolution, adopted on 4 December, recognizes “the importance of international tourism, and particularly of the designation of an international year of sustainable tourism for development, in fostering better understanding among peoples everywhere, in leading to a greater awareness of the rich heritage of various civilizations and in bringing about a better appreciation of the inherent values of different cultures, thereby contributing to the strengthening of peace in the world.”
Located in one of the flattest places on the face of this planet are the strange and unexplained Sailing Stones of Racetrack Playa – Death Valley – California – USA. Once a year the “Playa” or flat desert pan experiences short winter rains and becomes slippery as the hexagonal desert floor turns back to mud. During this time the boulders and rocks move leaving clearly visible tracks behind them. Although scientists believe that high winds are responsible, some of the rocks will suddenly change directions and move at almost perfect right angles to their previous direction. All the evidence suggests that this is not a hoax although it is also said that the movement of these rocks has never been captured on film or video. In this technological age we wonder why time lapse photography hasn’t been used?
The Sailing Stones add mystique to Death Valley but the real strangeness of this place is its desperate isolation, heat and incredible flatness.
Siem Reap is a relatively small town 315 kilometres north of Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. Here, growing tourism has created a boomtown because Siem Reap is close to Angkor, the ancient capital of a huge and mysterious jungle realm.The Temples of Angkor are the remains of various religious buildings that were built by more than ten kings of the Khmer realm between the 7th and 16th centuries A.D.
The gigantic roots of kapok trees cling to the moss-covered walls of the temple complex and everything is dominated by the encroachment of nature. The monastery was once home to 5,000 including more than 2,000 monks and more than 600 female dancers who played an important part in the sacred rituals and ceremonies of that time.
Found on both land and in the ocean throughout the Bahamas and the national waters of Belize are deep circular cavities known as Blue Holes which are often the entrances to cave networks, some of them up to 14 kilometres in length. Divers have reported a vast number of aquatic creatures some of which are still new to science. In addition, they’ve recorded chambers filled with stalactites and stalagmites which only form in dry caves. For the explorers this was proof that at one time, nearly 65,000 years ago, when the world was in the grip of the last major ice age, the sea level of the Bahamas was up to 150 metres lower than it is today. Over time the limestone of the islands was eroded by water and vast cave networks created. When sea levels rose again about 10,000 years ago some of these collapsed inwards and the Blue Holes were formed.
The Great Blue Hole is located in the Light House Reef aproximately halfway between Long Caye and Sandbore Caye. It is about 60 miles east from the mainland of Belize (city). In 1997 it was designated as a World Heritage site.