Jiuzhai Valley National Park China : Visiting the North of Sichuan province in China was definitely on my wish list. The area that this national park covers is simply awesome. It has under it 72,000 hectares, that seem to stretch forever. The Min Mountains and Tibetan Plateau are within it. It was fascinating to watch the nine local Tibetan villages that lie in its sphere.
Almost every major city of the world has its own zoo. My wife and I argued while finalising our itinerary over the entertainment quotient of visiting a simple zoo in Moscow when there is so much more to see. We checked in the history of the Moscow Zoo, Russia and then visited its official website. We had our answer. The kids were going to have a hell of a time visiting the Moscow zoo, it was quite evident to both of us that this is not going to be an ordinary zoo experience, and something wonderful lies in store for us. Just the architecture of the castle shaped entrance this historic zoo is enough to engross you for hours at once.
The zoo spans across an area of 53 acres. It is almost impossible to survey the entire mega-structure in just one day. All my family and I could do was to see some of its highlights but rest assured it was much more than what we could embrace and absorb. The zoo has to major sections which are connected through a footbridge with a large water body flowing underneath. People often argue against zoo visits and support visits to a sanctuary or national park. The simple reason is the natural settings and peaceful environment. There is no greater joy than to observe the beautiful creatures in their niche and natural habitat.
The Moscow zoo is not an ordinary zoo, I say it again. The zoo has kept every animal in its most natural environment and there is absolutely nothing artificial about the entire zoo. One has the added advantage of being able to see these majestic creatures without any risk and with surety unlike any natural reserve.
The zoo is home to 6000 different animals and over a thousand different species. There are sections dedicated to different sections dedicated to Marsupials, Primates and carnivores like bears. A mega aquarium has also been set up with rare sea creatures. The section for kids include a Creatures of the Night show, A Sea Lion Show and a show featuring rare and unique trained birds. My wife and I joined my kids in each of these shows. I didn’t want them to miss any part of this unique opportunity. The waterfalls and streams in the zoo add to its natural beauty and serenity.
Such a splendid creation reflecting a historical landmark stands as a pride to the city. Precisely saying, each corner of the land is designed with vibrant and bursting culture blended with a high pulsating sense of heritage and ancient history. The wide spread tourist attraction provides the visitors with impressive and memorable trips. Going along the southern part of Brazil, there was my next exciting spot to visit which was the Quinta da Boa Vista Brazil. It is the oldest zoo and the iconic park housing the largest natural museum which was formerly the residence to the Royal family.
Not only the tourists but the local people were equally seen in huge numbers enjoying peacefully lying on the sloping lawns of the garden area. The place has been famous as the popular public park. The grassy hills around the lake boundary gave me a meditating and relaxed feeling. But the main attractive corners are the Rio Zoo and the museum. The park’s open areas hold the number of concerts during the summers. The lake crowned a beautiful island housing a Greco-Roman styled temple. The swan shaped boating attraction amused my kids wholeheartedly.
The featuring element of that attractive place is the Sao Cristovao Palace built in neo classical styled structure. The neatly maintained sprawling and landscaped garden face the palace’s entrance giving it a royal look. The palace was earlier the residence of the Brazil’s imperial family which was then transformed as National Museum after the establishment of First Brazilian Republic. The museum presently hosts many exhibitions on anthropology and natural history. The displays were simply captivating, especially the marvels like largest meteorite ever found in the country and the ‘Luzia’, the oldest skeleton uncovered within the Latin America.
The Rio’s Zoo was the pleasing part to the kids basically. Lying on the west part of the park, it housed many specific creatures like Blue Macaw with huge collection of other species like giraffe and elephant. The authority was delivering a commendable duty in order to protect the species from any harm either from the natural beings or the outsiders. The neoclassical gate at Quinta da Boa Vista Brazil stood at the entrance of the zoo which was once the welcoming note to the famous palace. The place left an awe inspiring thought in us and we moved towards the hotel with more expectations of the next spot, Sugarloaf Mountain Brazil.
One cannot leave Australia without viewing the kangaroos and Koalas. So, the next day, we planned to spend a considerable time (that turned into almost entire day) at the very popular Feather dale wildlife park. We woke up kids by saying “wanna meet kangaroos”, and they were up awake in a moment. We chuckled at them and then disclosed the secret of our destination of the day. Me and my kids are nature lovers and I make every effort to make them sensitive towards all forms of life. So, here I got an excellent opportunity, and we were on for it.
We had our breakfast in the room, and my wife packed some eateries for the day. She very well takes care of the kids, like only a mother can do.
We were moving in our private conveyance and reaching there from the Sydney centre took us around 40 minutes. Like all other places, here also I booked the tickets in advance. Featherdale Wildlife Park is in east of Sydney and is sited near the Blacktown.The place wasn’t crowded; and we were looking around at our own pace. It was so pleasant to see the cleanliness and well organized place.
Kangaroos and Wallaby were all in open- no cages, no bars. It was the closest encounter to see the animals roaming in the natural surroundings. The animals were also used to the populace and were not scared or running away from us.
The staff here was also very affable. We were touching the animals, hand feeding Kangaroos, and cuddling Koalas. Akash and Adarsh were so happy, that they asked the staff if they could take the Koalas home!! The park is home to the world’s largest compilation of Australian native animals, with around 2000 critters living here at Featherdale, that includes saltwater crocodiles, bats, wallabies, wombats, emus, and reptiles etc.
The park also facilitated a cafe, a souvenir shop, and numerous picnic areas along with barbecues, so that visitors can enjoy a complete Aussie experience. We had an amazing experience at the Featherdale Wildlife Park and will recommend this park to all age group.
Our vacation in Australia was about to end. It’s been a remarkable journey at this place and we cherished each and every moment of it. This was our last day to roam about and explore more of Australia, and we chose our next destination to be Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park. This national park is emblazoned as a World Heritage site by the United Nations owing to its exceptional widespread natural values, and also for its marvelous cultural values.
What makes the huge rock formations of Uluru and Kata Tjuta truly remarkable is the fact that they rise from relatively flat sand plains. The place is situated in the Red Centre region of Australia. People come here to witness the impressive presence and the changing colors of sun rising and sunsets. Visitors also enjoy the camel treks all the way through the Kata Tjuta.
We reached the site only to see Uluru as a gigantic, round and red sandstone monolith extending to around 9.4 kilometers in circumference with a height of 340 meters. We also explored the Rock art of the caves that are present around the base. These are valuable testimony of the lasting cultural ethnicity of Anangu. We were astonished to see these so closely. Many people consider the place with spiritual experience, but for us, it was more of a visual appeal.
Most people climb up the rock owing to the respect they feel for the conventional owners and the Ranger walk proved as an expression of importance of Uluru to the Anangu people -in practical as well as spiritual way.
We all approved on a more leisurely pace and took a number of photographs of Uluru that expressed numerous colors- the fiery red and yellow tone of the Rock and the hues in the adjoining landscape. At a distance of about 32 kilometers towards the west of Uluru are located domes of Kata Tjuta. However, this area is sanctified with Anangu men’s law and, therefore, any elaborate knowledge of it is constrained.
We were careful to keep the water handy and our pace moderate while absorbing the beauty of this beautiful red desert.
As we neared the end of our trip, it did not quite mean that the energies and enthusiasm was waning too. This day we made it real fast in the morning because we had the flight to catch to get to the Kruger National Park South Africa. The flight would take 4 hours and 15 minutes approximately and for the next day we had accommodations in the National Park itself in the various huts that they provided with. The flight was comfortable enough and soon we were in the car to reach the National Park premise. As we entered, close to the reception is the souvenir shop that had lovely stuff covering almost all essentials of everyday use but indigenously made with touches of the place either in prints or in logos. I finished checking in.
Our luggage was taken to the thatched hut-like accommodations but it had all possible modern amenities too. Lunch was a community affair with the guests of all the nearby cottages being served together in a buffet style. Our choice of food had already been consulted with us and the chefs tried their best to put together a vegetarian fare for us. Then, we were scheduled for the game; the jeep that was to take us to all the vantage points from where the animals could be spotted was ready for us. Interestingly, the officials at the Park gets a memorandum signed by the guests which has it that if the wild decides to make you their meal, you would have to forgive him! Basically it meant that gaming in the park is not the security concern of the officials.
But there is no reason to fear for anything at the Kruger National Park South Africa because gaming or viewing the animals in their natural habitat is done with full care without disturbing the animals and keeping in mind the security provisions every step of the way. There are guides and security officers which give full cooperation to the tourists looking to have a wonderful experience at the premise. The next day would be our finale in South Africa with Voortrekker Monument Pretoria on our agenda.
The morning in Jo burg was great. Although the city has a reputation of some or the other notoriety yet, there was calmness in the atmosphere in this morning as if the people were done fighting and struggling and may be were finally observing peace. The troublesome days for South Africa and Johannesburg were indeed over and the days being spent here as a tourist is ample proof for that. This day I would take my children to the Johannesburg Zoo South Africa. Functional since the year 1904, the zoo facility spreads over an area of about 200 acres and has a great amount of species that get reared and bred here. In fact the very famous Siberian Tiger, which is considered the endangered species, have been successfully reared here. The dangerous ones in the zoo which the kids were keen on are the African Hippo, the Puff Adder, the African Hippo and the Nile crocodile.
I had made arrangements with the hotel travel desk to arrange for the car commute to the zoo and that seemed the reliable thing to do. The zoo has a wide variety of options to indulge in for locals as well as for tourists. In fact, I had prior bookings with one of the tours of the zoo, the ones where I had the option to make a choice between the Ferry Tour, the Night Tour and the Zoo Snooze. We had tickets to the Ferry Tour which helped us get on a ferry for a total of 90 minutes and we are taken to five major animal complexes to observe the animals up close and also interact with their care takers. This tour is locally very popular with birthday parties and the likes. It also allowed us to go where only the staff of the zoo could go- the animal night rooms, the kitchen and the hospital to understand how the zoo works.
After my tryst with some of the lovely animals among the countless species here in the Johannesburg Zoo South Africa, I could feel that my childhood was revisited through this trip. As we proceeded to the South African National Gallery South Africa, I could sense that my family- my wife and kids had a wonderful time as well.