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  • Nature | Peru > Paracas National Reserve, La Cattedrale
    Updated at Jun 27,2013

    The next day we went visit Paracas National Reserve. On this little island called Ballestas you can see plenty of seals and birds. A little boat will take you sailing between them, and if you look at the shore you'll be able to see the famous Nasca Lines - the famous huge ancient drawings made by the natives in the ground, and probably there paths in which they walked in ancient religious ceremonies. 

    The tours can be arranged from every hotel in Inca you'll stay in. There were also flights above the Nasca Lines if you want to experience it differently and you have the money... 

  • Nature | Peru > Chachapoyas > Gocta Waterfalls
    Updated at Jun 27,2013

    The next day I traveled with Colin and anther Peruvian tourist coming from Lima to Gocta Waterfalls - another local pride since it's the third tallest free-leaping waterfall in the world (although this  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gocta_Cataracts claims it's only the fifth...). 

    The road passes through the wild forest, but with a well maintained road. The tourist agency provides the car and the the guide, and if he knows all the various interesting plants and fruits in the forest you'll only gain. 

    The waterfall is so high you can see it from every point on the road. When you reach  tens of meters distance from it, the hot humid air of the forest turns to a cold breeze filled with water spray. We did the necessary step and jumped into the water (with prepared swimming suits). We knew that waters falling 710 meters should be cold. But we didn't have a clue how cold test centigrade can be until we stood there, screaming to the tour guide to take a picture - "rapido! rapido!" before our legs would freeze and we couldn't move or breathe. 

    After this adventure, the dry clothes we left behind we found soaked in water. We sat wet and trembled while the tour guide wouldn't stop talking in Spanish about the "history" of the waterfall - which was actually a collection of Spanish legends of sirens and farmers. 

    The way back was hard and exhausting, because of the wet clothes, the rising heat as the sun climbed up the sky, and the relief at the end of it is huge. 

  • Nature | Italy > Laghi di Fusine
    Updated at Jul 10,2013

    Day 16 – A short detour to Italy

    Being so close to Italy, we decided to spend one day in the country. First we drove to Lago di Fusine, a turquoise and green lake with a snowy mountain in the background, with ducks swimming around, it was a truly lovely sight. 

  • Nature | Slovenia > Bohinjska Bela
    Updated at Jun 22,2013

    We returned to Bohinjska Bela and walked to the far side of town for a view of the cliffs and the waterfall. The waterfall there was only a weak stream in the waterfall, but the cliffs were very beautiful, with a mountain climber hanging from them.

  • Nature | Austria > Wörthersee
    Updated at Jun 22,2013

    In the first gas station we bought a sticker for the roads. We looked for the first lake and missed it. Then we saw a lake that paled in comparison to the lakes we saw in Italy and Slovenia. We were not thrilled with the city of Villach, and moved on to Worthersee Lake. We drove around a long time but couldn’t find a place with a good view. Eventually we found one and stopped and had a cappuccino. 

  • Nature | Ecuador > Galapagos > North Seymour Island
    Updated at Jul 1,2013

    The next day I did the last tour to the northern Seymour island. The island was very small - in the tour you walk all of it - and packed with the famous  lue Foot Boobies. The iguanas there are large and yellow - it turns out that each island in Galapagos has it's own unique iguana species. 

    You also reach a white magical beach in which you can snorkel and see interesting fish - I guess it doesn't get close to what you see in a cruise to the farther islands, but still it's pretty. 

  • Nature | France > Paris, France > Bois de Boulogne
    Updated at Aug 5,2013

    Day 6:
    This is our last day in Paris. How can we end such a trip? We chose to go to Bois de Boulogne. It's not a trivial destination for a first visit in Paris, and certainly not with youth, but we wanted to have an atmosphere change, have a little outdoors/nature experience. We went down to the metro and got back above the ground at Porte Dauphine station, trying to figure out our current location on the map and how to navigate to our destination. Each metro experience feels like we’re emerging as moles in the middle of an unfamiliar territory. It requires an orientation reset each time, according to the ground locations and hints, like street names, signs, squares and special monuments. This time we couldn't find any guideline so we just started to go deep into the forest at the first path we found. The Boulogne is a huge forest combining a wild and pristine area with other parts that are more civilized and well organized. We reached more and more paths and junctions, but as usual we just let our feet lead us ahead, without carefully planning. It was pretty quiet around, and we could hear the birds singing.

    We walked on the road until we reached a nice lake. We had plenty of hours to spend, so we decided to walk around the lovely lake. The lake was quite big and had a small island in the center. On our way around the lake we met what looked like a dog’s morning walk - some dog walkers surrounded by many dogs. When they reached the lake they started playing with the dogs. They threw objects away into the water and the dogs went chasing after it, swimming in the water, and returning it to the owner. We spent some time watching this funny play.

    We continued to walk, looking for a Kiosk and compensate ourselves by the fact that we have one snack in our bag that will save us if we were to fall into a real hunger crisis. The lake is alive, breathing, flourishing and lovely. Nice reflections appear all over, secret gardens, trees full with flowers, families of ducks and other water birds floating on the lake. The young lady decided to give up her snack and feed the small ducklings and their parents. It was so close and at the same time so opposite and different from the busy city. We reached the southern end of the lake and started heading back along the other bank after completing a full circuit of the lake. On our way we saw a boat that goes back and forth from the lake bank to the island. We decided to give up the sailing and continue walking to the Kiosk and bought ourselves something to drink and eat. To our surprise, we met again the dogs and their walkers; we walk slowly and enjoy the beauty and silence.

  • Nature | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 12,2014

    Osterley Lock to Greenford. Capital Ring Section 8 (4 June 2013).

    Source: Capital Ring web site: http://www.walklondon.org.uk/uploads/File/leaflets/cr8directions_31052010142933.pdf

    Start: Boston Manor Tube Station.

    End: Greenford Station.

    Distance: 10 km.

    Introduction: This is a very green walk along the Grand Union Canal towpath, beside the River Brent and through a series of parks and open spaces. It’s mostly level walking, on firm towpaths and tracks and grass or earth, but may be muddy in wet weather. There are some short slopes. The route follows the Grand Union Canal and its locks at Hanwell, by the Wharncliffe Viaduct, Brent Lodge Park and Perivale Park.

    There are both pubs and cafés at Boston Manor, Brent Lodge Park and Greenford and there are public toilets at Brent Lodge Park. There are public transport links on National Rail at Hanwell and South Greenford as well as buses along the way.

    Directions: From Boston Manor Station, on the Heathrow branch of the Piccadilly Line, turn left along Boston Road for 350m, then left again opposite the Harvester pub along a broad path. Cross a road and keep ahead to pass through a kissing gate, then bear left. Follow this path ahead for 200m (it might be muddy after wet weather), ignoring
    turns as it descends between trees to the Grand Union Canal where the
    section starts. Turn right along the towpath to Osterley Lock, and keep
    ahead.

    From Osterley Lock: Cross a long footbridge, where the River
    Brent flows off to the right:

    This part of the Grand Union Canal makes use of the River Brent as much
    as possible, though some artificial ‘cuts’ have been made to provide a
    straighter route, as here. The Grand Union Canal links London with
    Birmingham, a distance of 145 miles (232km). It opened in 1805 as the
    Grand Junction Canal, but gained its present name after a merger in 1929 with other waterways:

    Follow the towpath for three quarters of a mile (1.2km):

    Just before Hanwell Bottom Lock an alleyway to the right leads to the Fox Inn. The Capital Ring continues then leaves the canal after the first (bottom) lock, bearing right to follow the River Brent, together with the Brent River Park Walk:

    There are six locks altogether in the Hanwell flight, taking the canal up 16m in a third of a mile. After 600m is the historic stone Hanwell Bridge. There has been a bridge at this point since at least the 14th century, but the present bridge dates from 1762, with several later widenings. The path dips under the bridge, but as it is sometimes under water, on occasions walkers have diverted onto the Uxbridge Road and crossed at the traffic lights on the right. On the far side of Uxbridge Road, stay beside the river, on the grass of a sports field. Ahead is the impressive Wharncliffe Viaduct built in 1838 by lsambard Kingdom Brunel, the great Victorian engineer, to carry the Great Western Railway from London to Bristol. It is named after its sponsor, Lord Wharncliffe, whose coat of arms can be seen at the centre. Queen Victoria had her royal train stopped on top so that she could admire the view:

    Follow the path across the Brent, then bear left under the viaduct to enter Churchfields Recreation Ground. The link to Hanwell Station follows the tarmac path ahead uphill. At the top, turn right along a broader path and follow this for 150m to the road. Keep ahead and turn left along a road called Golden Manor, then right along Campbell Road, which leads to Hanwell Station. Continuing along the Capital Ring, turn sharp left down a slope and follow the left side of the field, with the river now on your left and the spire of St Mary’s, the parish church of Hanwell, up to your right. Pass through the gate into Brent Lodge Park, formerly the grounds of a mansion home of the rectors of St Mary’s. The broad path ahead leads to a seasonal café, toilets, a children’s zoo, the Brent River Park Visitor Centre and the stables from the former house. However, the Capital Ring climbs the steps on your left by the signpost, then follows the left hand side of the field, with the river still to the left. To the right is the Millennium Maze, opened in 2000 on the site of a former bowling green. The route now snakes along the field edge, in company with the river bends. The route passes through a copse then descend steps to a wide gap in a fence. Keep ahead then go left across the river. Immediately turn right, then shortly follow the left fork beside a sports field. Continue along the main path in this direction for 500m, as the path leads away from the river, between bushes and hedgerows through the Brent Valley Golf Course:

    Soon after the golf course, at a path junction, bear right to return to, and
    cross over, the river, with the houses of Elthorne Heights ahead. Immediately turn left, then follow the path as it winds behind a reed-filled inlet. Stay close to the river, ignoring a ramped track leading up to the right. Soon, beside a weir with rushing water and just before a lovely avenue of willows, turn right up steps. Then turn left to follow the edge of Bitterns Field, a reclaimed landfill site. At the far end, go down more steps and continue beside the river to Greenford Bridge at Ruislip Road East. The facilities of Greenford town centre with pub and cafés, lie a few hundred yards to your left. The route continues across the road, there is a pedestrian crossing 130m to the right. Here the Capital Ring heads northwards - turn left, then immediately sharp right at a grassy area into Costons Lane. Follow the road as it bends left, then shortly cross over to enter Perivale Park. Follow the main path as it angles through Perivale Park, bearing left over Costons Brook, then left again beside a golf course. Just before a park exit, turn right inside the park to pass a bowling green. Then after some tennis courts bear half left by some huts along a path leading to a car park. Cross over this and keep ahead to the road. The dual carriageway ahead is the A40 Western Avenue, the main road from London to Oxford. Cross it by the footbridge - there is a ramp and steps. To the right lies South Greenford Station. On the far side of the A40 turn left along a side road, then shortly right into Cayton Road. At its end, past the last house, turn right along a footpath that follows around three sides of a sports field.

    On the far side, turn right along Bennetts Avenue, which swings left to reach Greenford Road. Turn right, passing under two bridges — the first carries the Paddington to Greenford trains, the second is used by the Central Line. Section 8 ends at the crossroads, with the Westway Cross Shopping Park on the right, where Section 9 starts.

    For Greenford Station, turn left across Greenford Road then keep ahead along Rockware Avenue. The station is to the left at the far end.

  • Nature | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 12,2014

    Woolwich to Falconwood - Capital Ring Section 1: (1 June 2013).

    Source: Capital Ring Web site: http://www.walklondon.org.uk/uploads/File/leaflets/cr1directions_20102010104554.pdf (with some modifications and enhancements).

    Start: Woolwich Arsenal or Woolwich Dockyard Stations, Woolwich Foot Tunnel.
    End: Falconwood Station.
    Distance: 12 km.
    Introduction: This is one of the longest walks on the Capital Ring but the bonus is that it has great contrasts, going from the River Thames to Oxleas Meadow, one of the highest points in the area. The route is mainly level but there are some steep slopes and two long flights of steps, both of which have detours so that they can be avoided. There is a mixture of tarmac paths, pavement, rough grass and tracks.

    There are bus stops along the way, so as this is a long section you can break your walk. There are links with the Thames Path National Trail and Green Chain Walk; in some places you may find you have to follow the Green Chain signs. There is one detour on the route which is well marked. It is hoped that eventually the route will follow the river for a longer distance. 

    Directions: From Woolwich Arsenal DLR station head northeast on Woolwich New Rd toward Spray St and turn left at Spray St. Turn right toward Beresford St. (Restricted usage road). Turn left onto Beresford St.
    Go through 1 roundabout, turn right onto Bell Water Gate and sharp left toward Woolwich Foot Tunnel. Turn sharp right onto Woolwich Foot Tunnel. (Note: the Capital Ring signposts at the entrance of the tunnel might be misleading. With your face to the river you have to LEFT and walk along the river).
    The walk starts by the southern end of the Woolwich Foot Tunnel and heads along by the River Thames towards the Thames Barrier. The Woolwich Foot Tunnel was built in 1912 and goes under the river to North Woolwich, which is the end of Section 15 of the Capital Ring. The Woolwich Free Ferry takes vehicles and foot passengers over the Thames and has been operating for over 800 years:

    Head past the two cannon that remain from the Gun Drill Battery when this area was a Naval Dockyard:

    Shortly after the cannon and past a modern estate the path reaches the flood defence wall; either climb up the Linkbridge for a good view of the Thames Barrier or use the ramp to the left. The Thames Barrier was proposed following a terrible storm in 1953 which produced a tidal surge up the river; it drowned many people and caused great damage. The barrier was completed in 1984 and its huge steel gates can be raised in 45 minutes. There is a visitor centre off Woolwich Road.

    Follow the Capital Ring signs to Woolwich Road and Maryon Park. Once in
    the park turn left up the slope, then turn right into the main part of the park. On the left is a fingerpost and beside it a map of the park. Maryon Park, and Maryon Wilson Park which is next, were once owned by the Maryon Wilson family of Charlton House. This park was formed from sandpits and another nearby sandpit is now the home of Charlton Athletic Football Club. Either bear right at the tennis courts and walk up the 115 steps or follow the alternative route on the Green Chain walk to the left of the tennis courts. Cross over Thorntree Road to Maryon Wilson Park, which was once part of the old Hanging Wood (there is a large Green Chain signpost on the opposite side of the road here). Follow the wide tarmac path past the children’s zoo:

    The next park is Charlton Park. There is a riding school on the right and
    several football pitches ahead. Turn right along the wide tarmac path - Charlton House is ahead. Charlton House in the distance was built in 1612 for Sir Adam Newton, and is one of the best examples of Jacobean architecture left in London. It was restored in 1878 by Norman Shaw for the Maryon Wilson family. There are toilets and a coffee shop here:

    Continue along Charlton Park Lane and turn left into Inigo Jones Road to
    get to Hornfair Park:

    Next go across Baker Road and head over Woolwich Common and across Shooters Hill. The Roman Watling Street crossed Shooters Hill on its way from Dover to London. The name Shooters Hill may come from gunnery practice on Woolwich Common or it may have been from the highwaymen who haunted the road. In A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, a stagecoach struggles up the muddy road of Shooters Hill. Go up the hill and into Castle Wood, part of Oxleas Woodlands. At the top is Severndroog Castle. Severndroog is an eccentric triangular castle standing 19 metres high. It was built as a memorial to Commodore Sir William James, owner of the land in the 18th century. The East India Company employed him to suppress piracy and he captured a fortress in India with this name. His widow built the castle after his death in 1784:

    To get to the rose garden of the now demolished Castlewood House, either go down 72 steps (some of which are uneven) or take the Green Chain alternative route. If you take the alternative route turn right at the junction at the bottom of the hill to reach the gardens. Further on, some steps on the left of the path lead up to the former gardens of Jackwood House. To continue along the Capital Ring, return to the path down the steps. Continue through the woodland to Oxleas Meadows where there is a cafe and toilets:

    Continue on to Oxleas Wood and cross over Rochester Way and into the ancient Shepherdleas Woods, now part of Eltham Park North:

    The last section of this walk follows a path through the trees:

    Here either turn right to cross over the road on Falconwood Bridge to get to the start of Section 2 of the Capital Ring or go on ahead to Falconwood Railway Station.

  • Nature | United Kingdom
    Updated at Mar 13,2014

    Our following offer is of a pleasant, lazy FULL day - visiting a couple of wonderful historical sites with magnificient gardens and parks: Hall Place and Danson House.

    Our itineraries of hall House and danson House - can be combined into a very pleasant full day out of London.

    Dining out: in the steak house near Hall Place or Nando's restaurant opposite the central bus station in Bexleyheath.

    Directions:

    20 minutes walk from Bexley rail Station (zone 6). Go through Bexley High Street and ask for the "Bridge". Just off the A2 road with bustling transportation. 

    Open daily 10.00 - 17.00. 7 GBP (concessions - 5 GBP) for unlimited entry during the year. My personal impression is that you can skip visiting the house and concentrate on the stunning gardens (free). Entrance to the current exhibition in Hall Place house - free as well. 

    Nice looking cafe' on the Cray river with small waterfalls. There is a fabulous (reasonably priced) adjoining grill / steak house.

    On weekends - farmers' market in the main entrance.

    Magnificent Gardens, stunning topiariy sculptures, interesting glasshouses, sunken garden, rose beds, visitor centre with nice displays of local artists and riverside cafe', endless meadows (sometimes with wildlife).

    Allow 90 minutes - 2 hours for visiting just the gardens

    Amazing topiary of chess pieces and Queen's Beasts:

    Rose Garden:

    River Cray:

    Hall Place Cafe':