Monday, 12 October 2015

Cerro Sarisariñama

Cerro Sarisariñama is a tepui, a flat-topped mountain in Jaua-Sarisariñama National Park at the far south-west of Bolívar StateVenezuela, near the border withBrazil. Its altitude range is 300–2,350 metres. The name of the mountain originates from the tale of local Ye'kuana Indians about an evil spirit living in caves up in the mountain and devouring human flesh with a sound "Sari... sari...".
The tepui is in one of the most remote areas in the country, with the closest road being hundreds of miles away.
Similar to other tepuis, Sarisariñama consists of quartzite of the Roraima formation, belonging to Paleoproterozoan. The summit area of Sarisariñama tepui is 546.88 km² and the slope area is 482 km².
Sarisariñama is unique among tepuis, with a 15–25 metre-high forest fully covering the top of it. This isolated ecosystem is especially rich with numerous endemic species of plants and animals.
The most distinctive features of this tepui are its sinkholes. There are four known sinkholes. Two, Sima Humboldt and Sima Martel, are visually unusual, huge, and well known, with isolated forest ecosystems covering their bottoms. The largest one, Sima Humboldt, is up to 352 metres wide and 314 metres deep. Another Sarisariñama sinkhole, the 1.35 km long Sima de la Lluvia, has been very important for exploration of the processes of erosion on tepuis.

Sarisariñama became a much sought destination for exploration after 1961, when pilot Harry Gibson noticed both enormous sinkholes. The summit of Sarisariñama was reached only in 1974, with a helicopter. Initial investigations were done at both sinkholes, including a descent to the bottom of Sima Humboldt. A more thorough speleological investigation was done two years later, in 1976 by a joint Venezuelan-Polish expedition. They discovered one more sinkhole, Sima de la Lluvia. For some two decades it was the longest known quartzite cave (1.35 km) in the world and its exploration to a great extent solved the mystery of the formation of these sinkholes. In total there are four sinkholes known on Sarisariñama.
Nowadays access to Sarisariñama is restricted to scientific researchers
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Mount Roraima

Mount Roraima (SpanishMonte Roraima [ˈmonte roˈɾaima], also known as Tepuy Roraima and Cerro Roraima;PortugueseMonte Roraima [ˈmõtʃi ʁoˈɾajmɐ]) is the highest of the Pakaraima chain of tepui plateaus in South America. First described by the English explorer Sir Walter Raleigh in 1596, its 31 km2 summit area is bounded on all sides by cliffs rising 400 metres (1,300 ft). The mountain also serves as the triple border point of Venezuela (claiming 85% of its territory), Brazil (5%) and Guyana (10%).
Mount Roraima lies on the Guiana Shield in the southeastern corner of Venezuela's 30,000-square-kilometre (12,000 sq mi) Canaima National Park forming the highest peak of Guyana's Highland Range. The tabletop mountains of the park are considered some of the oldest geological formations on Earth, dating back to some two billion years ago in the Precambrian.
The highest point in Guyana and the highest point of the Brazilian state of Roraima lie on the plateau, but Venezuela and Brazil have higher mountains elsewhere. The triple border point is at 5°12′08″N 60°44′07″W, but the mountain's highest point is Maverick Rock, 2,810 metres (9,219 ft), at the south end of the plateau and wholly within Venezuela.
Many of the species found on Roraima are unique to the plateau. Plants such as pitcher plants (Heliamphora), Campanula (a bellflower), and the rare Rapatea heather are commonly found on the escarpment and summit. It rains almost every day of the year. Almost the entire surface of the summit is bare sandstone, with only a few bushes (Bonnetia roraimœ) and algae present. Low scanty and bristling vegetation is also found in the small, sandy marshes that intersperse the rocky summit. Most of the nutrients that are present in the soil are washed away by torrents that cascade over the edge, forming some of the highest waterfalls in the world.
There are many examples of unique fauna atop Mount Roraima. Oreophrynella quelchii, commonly called the Roraima Bush Toad, is a diurnal toad usually found on open rock surfaces and shrubland. It is a species of toad in the Bufonidae family and breeds by direct development. The species is currently listed as vulnerable and there is a need for increased education among tourists to make them aware of the importance of not handling these animals in the wild. Close population monitoring is also required, particularly since this species is known only from a single location. The species is protected in Monumento Natural Los Tepuyes in Venezuela, and Parque Nacional Monte Roraima in Brazil.
Since long before the arrival of European explorers, the mountain has held a special significance for the indigenous people of the region, and it is central to many of their myths and legends. The Pemon and Kapon natives of the Gran Sabana see Mount Roraima as the stump of a mighty tree that once held all the fruits and tuberous vegetables in the world. Felled by Makunaima, their mythical trickster, the tree crashed to the ground, unleashing a terrible flood. Roroi in the Pemon language means blue-green and ma means great.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The Waitomo Caves is a village and solutional cave system forming a major tourist attraction in the northern King Country region of the North Island of New Zealand, 12 kilometres northwest of Te Kuiti. The community of Waitomo Caves itself is very small, though the village has many temporary service workers living there as well. The word Waitomo comes from the Māori language wai meaning water and tomo meaning a doline or sinkhole; it can thus be translated to be water passing through a hole. The caves are formed in Oligocene limestone.



The limestone landscape of the Waitomo District area has been the centre of increasingly popular commercial caving tourism from as early as 1900. Initially mostly consisting of impromptu trips guided by local Māori, large sections of cave near Waitomo Caves were later taken over by the Crown and managed as a (relatively genteel) tourism attraction from 1904 onwards.

Today, a number of companies, large and small, specialise in leading tourists through the caves of the area, from easily accessible areas with hundreds of tourists per hour in the peak season, to extreme sports-like crawls into cave systems which are only seen by a few tourists each day. A visit to Waitomo Caves made Number 14 amongst a list of 101 "Kiwi must-do's" in a New Zealand Automobile Association poll of over 20,000 motorists published 2007, and in 2004, around 400,000 visitors entered caves in the area.



The main caves in the area are the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Ruakuri Cave, Aranui Cave and Gardner's Gut. They are noted for their stalactite and stalagmitedisplays, and for the presence of glowworms (the fungus gnat Arachnocampa luminosa).

Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni (or Salar de Tunupa) is the world's largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi). It is located in the Daniel Campos Province in Potosí in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes and is at an elevation of 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above mean sea level.

The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average altitude variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium. It contains 50 to 70% of the world's lithium reserves, which is in the process of being extracted. The large area, clear skies, and the exceptional flatness of the surface make the Salar an ideal object for calibrating the altimeters of Earth observation satellites.


The Salar serves as the major transport route across the Bolivian Altiplano and is a major breeding ground for several species of pink flamingos. Salar de Uyuni is also a climatological transitional zone since the towering tropical cumulus congestus and cumulus incus clouds that form in the eastern part of the salt flat during the summer cannot permeate beyond its drier western edges, near the Chilean border and the Atacama Desert.


Salar de Uyuni is part of the Altiplano of Bolivia in South America. The Altiplano is a high plateau, which was formed during uplift of the Andes mountains. The plateau includes fresh and saltwater lakes as well as salt flats and is surrounded by mountains with no drainage outlets.

The geological history of the Salar is associated with a sequential transformation between several vast lakes. Some 30,000 to 42,000 years ago, the area was part of a giant prehistoric lake, Lake Minchin. Its age was estimated fromradiocarbon dating of shells from outcropping sediments and carbonate reefs and varies between reported studies. Lake Minchin (named after Juan B. Minchin of Oruro) later transformed into paleolake Tauca having a maximal depth of 140 meters (460 ft), and an estimated age of 13,000 to 18,000 or 14,900 to 26,100 years, depending on the source. The youngest prehistoric lake was Coipasa, which was radiocarbon dated to 11,500 to 13,400 years ago. When it dried, it left behind two modern lakes, Poopó Lake and Uru Uru Lake, and two major salt deserts, Salar de Coipasa and the larger Salar de Uyuni. Salar de Uyuni spreads over 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi), which is roughly 100 times the size of the Bonneville Salt Flats in the United States. Lake Poopó is a neighbor of the much larger Lake Titicaca. During the wet season, Titicaca overflows and discharges into Poopó, which, in turn, floods Salar De Coipasa and Salar de Uyuni.
Lacustrine mud that is interbedded with salt and saturated with brine underlies the surface of Salar de Uyuni. The brine is a saturated solution of sodium chloride,lithium chloride and magnesium chloride in water. It is covered with a solid salt crust varying in thickness between tens of centimeters and a few meters. The center of the Salar contains a few "islands", the remains of the tops of ancient volcanoes submerged during the era of Lake Minchin. They include unusual and fragile coral-like structures and deposits that often consist of fossils and algae.
The area has a relatively stable average temperature with a peak at 21 °C (70 °F) in November to January and a low of 13 °C (55 °F) in June. The nights are cold all through the year, with temperatures between −9 and 5 °C (16 and 41 °F). The relative humidity is rather low and constant throughout the year at 30 to 45%. The rainfall is also low at 1 to 3 millimeters (0.039 to 0.118 in) per month between April and November, but it may increase up to 70 millimeters (2.8 in) in January. However, except for January, even in the rainy season the number of rainy days is fewer than 5 per month.

Jiuzhaigou Valley

Jiuzhaigou (pronounced [tɕjùʈʂâɪkə́ʊ]Chinese九寨沟; literally: "Valley of Nine Fortified Villages"; Tibetanགཟི་རྩ་སྡེ་དགུ།ZYPY: Sirza Degu) is a nature reserve and national park located in the north of Sichuan province, China.
Jiuzhaigou Valley is part of the Min Mountains on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and stretches over 72,000 hectares (180,000 acres). It is known for its many multi-level waterfalls, colorful lakes, and snow-capped peaks. Its elevation ranges from 2,000 to 4,500 metres (6,600 to 14,800 ft).
Jiuzhaigou Valley was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1992 and a World Biosphere Reserve in 1997. It belongs to the category V (Protected Landscape) in the IUCN system of protected area categorization.

The stunning Unesco World Heritage Site of Jiǔzhàigōu National Park is one of Sìchuān’s star attractions. More than two million people visit the park every year to gawp at its famous bluer-than-blue lakes, its rushing waterfalls and its deep green trees backed by snowy mountain ranges.
Add into the mix kilometres of well-maintained boardwalk trails and ecotourism camping trips and you’ll begin to get a feel for Jiǔzhàigōu’s charms.
The best time to visit is September through to November, when you’re most likely to have clear skies and (particularly in October) blazing autumn colours to contrast with the turquoise lakes. Summer is the busiest but also rainiest time. Spring can be cold but still pleasant, and winter, if you’re prepared for frigid temperatures, brings dramatic ice-coated trees and frozen-in-place waterfalls (as well as lower prices).
Peak-time tickets for students and over-60s are ¥110. Over-70s and children under six can enter for free.
Jiǔzhàigōu means ‘Nine Village Valley’ and refers to the region’s nine Tibetan villages. According to legend, Jiǔzhàigōu was created when a jealous devil caused the goddess Wunosemo to drop her magic mirror, a present from her lover the warlord god Dage. The mirror dropped to the ground and shattered into 118 shimmering turquoise lakes.