Thursday, January 31, 2008

Angel Falls

Angel Falls Venezuela

Angel Falls Angel Falls

Sourced from heaven

If the height and ferocity of a waterfall is taken as its greatness, undoubtedly Angel Falls of Venezuela is the greatest waterfall in the world. For a viewer who looks from the front; the falls may seem as it is poured directly from the heaven! Massive quantity of water plunging from a height of 979 meters (3212) feet is not a common sight that we can see elsewhere in the world! This great fall gives birth to the Mirader Laime Lagoon which is the source the River Churun that flows through the Canaima National Park, Gran Sabana Region Venezuela.


Angel Falls Angel Falls Map

Venezuela is located at the Southern tip of Latin America between Brazil, Guyana and the North Atlantic Ocean. Barring few hitches (the political gimmicks played by the present regime, corruption and crime in the public life) Venezuela is a wonderful place on earth with numerous locations of interest for a tourist.

Isla de Margarita (a duty free port island visited by Venezuelans to buy cheap goods and tourists for its sun and white sand beaches)

Avile National Park (a 210,000 acre forested hill just beside the bustling city of Caracas the Capital of Venezuela)

Los Roques Archipelago (un inhabited groups of islands visited by tourists who seek tropical beaches, bright sun and blue waters)

Mount Roraima (the tallest tepuy in Canaima National Park nearby Auyan-tepui), Canaima National Park etc are all places of interest. The Canaima National Park that encloses gigantic tepuys and the Angel Falls is perhaps the best location of this nation.

Fall of the deepest

In the local language (Pemon) this falls are called Parekupa meru meaning waterfall of the deepest place. The height of this fall is so tremendous that the falling water turns in to mist and showers the lagoon below with a spray of powdery mist! Just calling the tallest water fall does not really convey the message to understand its majesty a comparison seems a must ‘it is 20 times taller than Niagara.

The outside world came to know about a wonderful waterfall only very lately, the first man who said to have sighted it was Ernesto Sanchez La Cruz; a Venezuelan explorer, but that man kept it as a secret for reasons only known to him.

How to see it

Angel Falls

Angel Falls

Two methods can be adopted one is the easiest but a little expensive, hire a small aero-plane and see it detail sitting on your seat! The other the real one is opted by most of the tourists, start the ride via boat from upstream River Carrao it may take about four hours in total, there are places for getting food on way.

From the Carrao the navigation can be continued via River Churun (during summer time Churun may not be navigable in that case you have to trek some more kms). If lucky enough you can reach the Mirador Laime Lagoon in to which the Angel falls; right from the bottom.

The four people army, and a mission that stuck!

When James Crawford Angel (Jimmy) had to fly over the falls while on a mission to explore metal ore deposits; this wonderful thing made him awestruck. He later returned to the site on 16th November 1930 with his wife and two other ‘adventurers’ to the Auyan-tepui and tried to land their Flamingo Monoplane (El Rio Caroni) on the Auyan-tepui, the plane got struck in the marshes.

Angel Falls

Angel Falls

The adventurers had to tread full 11 days to return back to civilization. Altogether the mission was a success as their names got a place in the history. The word ‘Angel’ of the falls is from Jimmy. World still remembers James Crawford Angel by the name of the highest waterfall – The Angel Falls. Ruth Robertson an American photo-journalist had measured it for National Geographic in 1949.

Canaima National park

The Canaima National Park Venezuela is 30,000 sq km in area and known for the ‘Tepuys’ (flat topped mountains known as table top mountains), is located in the state of Bolivar, in area it is almost as big as Belgium.

Mount Roraima is the tallest Tepuy of this park; Mount Auyan-tepui is also a very tall one; from its summit water plunges directly down to a depth of 3212 feet thus giving birth to the world’s highest water fall, The Angel Falls! It is this water that forms River Churun. The ecological diversity of this national park has made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The mountain from which the Angel Falls water plunges is the Auyan-tepui which means ‘Devil’s House’ in the local language. These Tepuis (pronounced as tey POO ees) are sand stone masses commonly found in these areas; they are original materials that formed the ancient super continent Gondwanaland; which later got split in to smaller continents. These tepuis are believed to be 30 million years old and are noted for their flat and generally barren tops.

River Churun

Angel Falls Angel Falls from Isla Raton

River Churun (word churun in local language means thunder) is the tributary of River Carrao in the Canaima National Park. It is an outflow from a natural ‘Mirador Laime’ lagoon formed from the water of the Angel Falls and flows in to the River Carrao there are some tiny islands on the way like the Mouse Island that enables the visitor to catch a full view of the Angel Falls and the other one is Isla Relon. River Churun is navigable only during the rainy seasons.

Un- tapped Angel!

It is a pity that the oil-rich Venezuela is doing anything for the development of this large National Park surrounding the Angel Falls. The airport is nothing but a road of asphalt and its offices mere thatched huts! Roads ill maintained and neglected all these have a telling effect in keeping this Canaima National Park remaining as a potential that is not properly tapped. In short the regime has been successful in keeping the area as remote as in the time when Angel landed there in 1930!

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro - Tanzania - Africa

Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania Africa Kibo Summit of Kilimanjaro

To read a sign-board!

Congratulations! You are now on the Uhuru Peak, Tanzania; 5895 M. AMSL. Africa’s highest point. World’s highest free standing mountain. One of the world’s largest volcanoes; Welcome! These are words written on a sign board placed at the top of the Uluru Peak at the top of Kilimanjaro Mountain, Tanzania Africa. If you have to read the board yourself; have to climb a height of 19340 feet (4600meters) by foot from its base. Anyone with good health and average climbing experience can do it provided he has four or five days to spare!


Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania Africa

Map of Mount Kilimanjaro courtesy:

Tanzania is a medium sized nation located in the east coast of the African Continent. Size is not its prominence for Tanzania; it holds about a dozen of the gems; of which Africa can be proud of like, Zanzibar (an island in east coast of Africa with exciting beaches and lush plantations, it is rich in history and culture. Those who can have vacation in remote islands can have it in nearby Mafia or Pemba islands with shores of live corals and rare fish.

Serengeti, Ngorongoro (hot destinations for wild life migrations)

Katavi National Park; a virtual Garden of Eden protected and surrounded by swamps infested by crocodiles. Katavi is the richest park for its biodiversity where hippos, zebras all characters of the wide African panorama roam free.

Ruaha National Park a remote location on the banks of River Rufiji swarmed with game animals during the summer seasons (June to December). It is rich in lion, wild dog and elephant populations. It is mostly a destination for those who opt for air safari. Tarangire Park is also rich in elephant populations.

All these locations remain the spectacular ones of Africa; but Kilimanjaro Mountain remains as the trump-card of Tanzania’s pack of cards.

A silver chariot in the African sky

Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania AfricaThe rapidly retreating Furtwängler Glacier is near the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro in Swahili means ‘shining mountain’ (Kilima = shining + Enjaro = Mount), during their reign Germans named it Kaiser Wilhelm-Spitze; but the British reversed its name to the old Kilimanjaro.

It does not stand among a crowd of mountains like other mounts, it is towering, snow white and standing apart giving its magnificent view of its snow clad peaks glittering in the sun during day; during nights it gives an illusion of a silver chariot floating in a sky along with the moon that is studded on the sky surrounded by stars. Uluru is a towering delight; that is visible to one standing miles apart in the African planes.

No piggy-back riding

As stated in the sign-board Kilimanjaro is world’s highest freestanding mountain (one may naturally doubt whether other mountains like Mount Everest are supported by some thing like a stay or bracing)! But that is the real height of the mount when measured from base of the mount to its top. Mount Everest is standing on the Tibetan plateau that is world’s highest plateau that is 4700 meters high. Kilimanjaro doesn’t stand piggyback on any plateau; hence it is the free standing mount.

Heights have different measures

Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania Africa

Mountain Nation height from base to summit height from sea level

Kilimanjaro........Tanzania...........4600 M..............................5895 M

Mount Everest....China...............4200 M..............................8848 M

Mauna Kea.........Hawaii............10200 M ............................ 4205 M

Denali.................Alaska US..........6193 M............................. 5900 M

The Seven Summits

Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania belongs to one of the ‘seven summits’ of the world. This ‘Seven Summits’ is a concept put forward by Richard Bass in 1980 (He was a civic leader was the first to ascend all these summits), in which one mount from each continent is named.

One who ascends these seven summits belonging to the seven continents is regarded as a great achiever in mountaineering. They include 1 Everest of Asia, 2. Kilimanjaro of Africa, 3 Mt. Elbrus of Europe, 4 Denali of North America, 5 Kosciuszka of Oceania, 6 Aconcagua of South America and 7 Canrtensz of Australia.

Strato Volcano

It is an inactive strato volcano with no recorded history of eruption. Kilimanjaro is grouped as a strato or a composite volcano; which is generally tall and conical shaped. The strato volcanoes are formed of solidified lava and volcanic ash. Its lava is viscous with acidic nature and cools off quickly without spreading thereby adding height to the cone.

Who climbed it first?

Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania Africa Mount Kilimanjaro seen from the air, with Mt Meru beyond

The Kilimanjaro is comprised of three volcanoes; the highest peak is Uluru on the Kibo Volcano (it has the largest crater on its top which is 1.5 km wide), Mawensi and Shira are the other two. Uhuru’s snow clad summit has always remained a challenge to mountaineers all over the world.

It is believed that an Afrikaner by name Yohanas Kinyala Lauwa -a member of Marangu Scouts- scaled it first. As per records it was first climbed in 6th October 1889 by Hans Meyer a German and Luwig Putscheller an Austrian. At present Tanzanian Government has made necessary facilities for those who attempt to climb the summit. At present a climb on Kilimanjaro is a comparatively easier one; hence it is described as a ‘walkable mountain’!

Short-cuts and huts

There are three short routes to climb Marangu, Rombal and Machama, and three huts provided on the ways with trained rangers with life saving facilities. Climbers who are not accustomed to high altitudes usually fall ill and experience giddiness and breathing problems; the rangers here are experienced in giving first-aids and transporting them on wheel barrows to nearby hospitals.

These camps have facilities for the people to refresh and recoup the first camp (hut) is at Mantara at 2700 meters. The second is Horombo at 3700 meters and the third and the final hut is the Kibo at 4500 meters.

Darling! now I am at the top

Mount Kilimanjaro Tanzania Africa Mount Kilimanjaro from the air

The summit of Kilimanjaro is no more a remote corner cut off from the modern world, it is at present accessible by mobile telephony – it has gained the status of being the highest place on earth with this facility, your spouse can access the progress of your trek by remaining at home. Ernest Hemingway’s story titled ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’, a feat that has made Kilimanjaro the darling of not just explorers but even of the ‘couch-potatoes!

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Niagara Falls

The Niagara Falls

Niagara FallsThe American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls.

A very ‘urban’ fall

There are water falls with grater heights and there are falls which discharge greater quantity of water, but there is no fall as beautiful, popular, visitor friendly as Niagara. It also has the credit of being located closest to the mega cities like New York and Ontario making it very urban compared to Iguazu Falls or Victoria Falls. Niagara also remains as the most commercially utilized falls in the world. The facilities offered to the tourists make this site a heaven of pleasure seekers.

When people of US and Canada think of a vacation and visiting some wonderful natural spot; the first name that comes to their mind is either Niagara or The Grand Canyon. Tourists from far away places; when they pay a visit to the US first prefer to visit Niagara above all other exotic locations of this country. It is no wonder that this water fall remains as one of the best money spinners to the tourism departments of both states.

Niagara River

Niagara is a 56 km long river that carries the water of Lake Erie to Lake Ontario that is located in a much lower altitude. This river also forms as a boundary between Ontario of Canada and the State of New York. Niagara also has the credit of being one of the few rivers that flow northward in this continent.

This river water has in its course licked away a lot of sand and soft rock from its banks thus creating a not so small gorge on both of its sides, at one point it bifurcates and reunite giving birth to a large river island known as the Grand Island. This island is 33.3 sq km in area and has a population around 20,000 people.

A cluster of falls

Niagara Falls The Horseshoe from Helicopter

The Niagara Falls on the River Niagara is actually a cluster of three falls coming between two nations, Canada and The US. It is just 17 miles south east from Buffalo New York and 75 miles from Toronto Canada. The falls in the Canadian portion –known as the Horse- Shoe Falls; is the largest of the three. The US side has two falls The American Fall and the Bridal Weil Fall.

Horse-shoe Fall- the largest among the three; has a height of 173 feet and discharges nine times the water than that of the American fall. One river island known as the Goat Island located between the two on the upper floor of the river separates these two falls.

Niagara Falls

Horseshoe (Canadian) Falls

The American Falls

It is the second largest with a height between 70 to 110 feet; its straight crest width is 830 feet.

Goat Island

The Goat Island is not just a piece of land between two falls, Frederick Olmsted a renowned botanist of 19th century has written that this island has the most original forests

he had ever seen in the continent during his thousand miles tour. This island got its name thus; once miller by name John Stedman kept a herd of goats on this island and it came to be known after the goats; it is said that all of those goats died in 1780 winter. Goats Island offer good view-point of the falls to the visitors like Terrapin Point, it is connected to mainland by bridges that can take pedestrians, car as well as one trackless train.

The American Fall

Those falls of the Niagara located in US are The American Fall and the Bridal-Weil Fall. The American Fall is the second in size as well as water discharge. It has a height of 70 feet and it is 106 feet in width. The Luna Island separates the American and Bride-Weil falls.

Luna Island is a small uninhabited island that stands between American and Bride-Weil falls. It is 130 feet wide between American and Bridal Weil falls and 360 feet long from upstream to the falls. Luna Island offers good view to both falls standing only few feet away, there is bridge enabling pedestrian crossing to the island.

Bridal Weil Fall

It is the smallest of the three falls located in the American side. The Bridal Weil fall has a crest of 56 feet and a height of 78 feet. The Luna Island separates it from the rest and the following locations are located nearby and associated with this fall.

TheCave of the Winds’ (it was originally a natural cave visited by tourists who could see the fall from behind; when the natural cave collapsed this new facility -of decks and walkways- were added that enables visitors to have closer view from the front of the fall. They can even experience the effects of tropical winds of up to 70 km speed simply standing on the decks!

After the fall the water flows directly in to the ‘Maid of Mist’ pool that is about 100 feet below. This pool got its name from the famous ferry service (at present it is used only for sight seeing) in the same name operated from this pool.

The Maid of Mist boat service started in 1846 and (which become without use as bridges were opened) later started as a recreational service). It starts from the calm waters of the Rainbow Bridge and visits all the water falls; its final point is the Horse Shoe fall at the Canadian side where the great fall makes all misty. These boats named as Maid of Mist No I, II, III and etc. This service is accessible from both US and Canadian sides.

Recreation, money and power

Niagara Falls Maid of the Mist leisure boat in front of the Falls

The Niagara Falls that discharges six million cubic liters of water every minute is the largest in the North American continent. The revenue generated from the millions of tourists who visit the spot runs in to billions but that is only one side of the story. Electricity produced from the fall is tremendous as about 90% of the water is diverted for this purpose. Most of the power requirement of Ontario City is met from Niagara’s ‘Sir Adam Beck hydro electric power station’ located at Canadian side.

US and Canada; what a team

It seems wonderfully different when these two nations cordially share the riches of Niagara, no jealousy, no blaming and no war, a phenomenon rarely heard of in other parts of the world. If Canada makes power from Niagara, US also do the same; they have the ‘Robert Moses Niagara Power Station, on their side. Both nations altogether generate 4.4 gig watts of power. Regulation of the flow of water is managed by The International Niagara Board of Control the (IJC).

Something for all!

Niagara Falls Horseshoe from a Fallsview hotel room

Niagara something for everybody to see and enjoy, it is an example for the American finesse in doing business rendering anything a visitor may ask for. For families there are special resorts, offering attractive rates, The Skylon Tower is one wonderful structure that offers sitting and watching the falls and surroundings while dining in a revolving hall at about 776 feet above the fall level! Lundy’s Lane, Victoria Center, Numerous Theme Parks, Fall Avenue, Clifton Hill, Butterfly Conservatory, I max movies and what not?

Valentines Day at Niagara

Niagara Falls frozen over in 1911Niagara Falls frozen over in 1911

Niagara locations have got an air of romance; the thundering waters, wind that Cave of the Wind’ and its high speed wind, ride in the ‘Maid of Mist’ some not so crowded locations all make it fit for a real honeymoon. During Valentine’s Day the whole area is swarmed by ‘love birds’ they have these locations something to celebrate! The company that named the ‘Viagra’ must have in their mind the romantic air of Niagara locations! After all the small difference between Viagra and Niagara is ignorable if both serve the same purpose! Invigorating the sagging soul and spirit!

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Friday, January 25, 2008

A Close Encounter

During our first trip to Kerala we spent a few days in the National Park in Periyar staying at the Spice Village Hotel.

After the mandatory but very disappointing boat trip around the Lake, we were advised by Shibu Bhaskar, the hotel Naturalist, to take a walk inside the park accompanied by a local guide, who would be able to find wildlife, saving us a great deal of frustration and time.

The Forest Canopy
The Forest Canopy

So, at 06:30 the next morning, and along with Shibu, we met the guide at the Park gates, and set out on foot into the forest.

We quickly found sambar Deer, Wild Boar, giant Squirrels and a myriad of bird-life

Malabar Giant Squirrel
Malabar Giant Squirrel

Malabar Trogon
Malabar Trogon
Sambar Deer
Sambar Deer

Nilgiri Langoor
Nilgiri Langoor
Malabar Grey Hornbill
Malabar Grey Hornbill

but the highlight came about 90 minutes into the walk.

As we were walking down a forest path our guide suddenly froze in front of us, and motioned us to do the same. He pointed into a gully on the right, and we could see two large grey mounds, one of which was moving – Elephants, about 50 meters away. 

Herd of Asian Elephants
Herd of Asian Elephants

We stayed for about 15 minutes watching them, and as we did, several other mounds appeared, one a young calf, probably a couple of years old. They were grazing on the move, and passed us without even acknowledging our presence, but obviously aware we were watching them. Following them at a distance, they continued down the gully, but suddenly they changed direction and started to come up the hill towards where we were standing.

From their direction it was evident that they were coming onto the path we had used, and would probably want our bit of it to carry on their journey. They finally reached the cleared path, and turned towards us, about 60 meters away. The warnings posted at the gate “ELEPHANTS ARE DANGEROUS” flashed into my head, and immediately a second thing started to alarm us. Not only was there a two year old, but in between the matriarch's legs was a tiny calf, probably only a couple of weeks old. “Mother Elephants are extremely dangerous” was now closer to the mark, and we started to become very worried!

Juvenile Elephant
Juvenile Elephant

Our guide, either very brave, very stupid, or hopefully, very knowledgeable, motioned us to step into the undergrowth, and crouch down, while he went and stood in the middle of the path, to show them where we were, and that we didn't pose a threat.  The elephants stopped immediately, now about 30 meters from us, and the two senior females came forward to study him. They carried on a conversation in their deep penetrating rumble for a couple of minutes, before deciding that perhaps we were not a major threat and slowly continued towards us.

We were about 3 meters off the path in the bush, crouched down and trying to look like a rock, or tree, or anything other than a human, but also trying to record the scene. Try taking a photo while you are shaking so much you almost drop the camera!

Waiting for the elephants to move on
Waiting for the elephants to move on

They moved slowly towards us, pushing the two young calves to the other side of the path away from us, never taking their eyes off our direction, and passing us not 7 meters away, one almost close enough to touch, if anyone had been that stupid.  They then continued their slow, quiet walk down the track, leaving us to catch our breath, and to relive one of the most amazing incidents we had experienced on our travels.

After that, everything else paled into insignificance so it was back to the hotel for breakfast and to look at the images we had recorded. 

Showing some of the pictures to the guide
Showing some of the pictures to the guide

Not bad under the circumstances, although of course they didn't go anywhere to showing the emotion of the moment.

Lynn & Brian Scott

Brian and Lynn with Shibu Bhaskar
Brian and Lynn with Shibu Bhaskar

Brian Scott is a wedding and portrait photographer, based in the picturesque Ribble Valley of North Yorkshire. He has a lifetime’s experience in photography and is a member of the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers.

Shibu Bhaskar, former naturalist at CGH Earth has worked in Coconut Lagoon and Marari Beach Resort  is   a talented photographer and an activist in conservation of nature.

Seven Underwater Wonders of the World

Seven Underwater Wonders of the World

Seven Underwater Wonders of the WorldPalau Islands one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World

Palau is a cluster of 250 to 300 islets believed to be formed by the uprising of coral from the sea bottom due to geological upheavals. It has a total area of 47 sq km. All these islands are umbrella shaped and connected by beautiful coral bay. These islands are famous for its beautiful beaches where scuba diving and snorkeling facilities are available. Click here to read the full article.

Seven Underwater Wonders of the WorldBelize Barrier Reef one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World

The coral barrier reef of Belize starts 300 meters off shore of Belize and stretches up to 40 km south like a mountain range; its total length is about 300 km (185 miles). For Belize; this coral formations remain as the hub of its tourism industry in fact it is the revenue from tourism that keeps Belize economy ticking. Click here to read the full article.

Seven Underwater Wonders of the WorldGalapagos Islands one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World

Galapagos Islands are an isolated cluster of 19 volcanic islands of varying sizes in the Pacific Ocean located around the equator. It is a territory of Ecuador and located about 600 miles off from it. Galapagos Archipelago (a scattered group of islands cut off from mainland) is well known for its bio diversity and Charles Darwin; the renowned scientist stayed there to do his researches on biological evolution. Click here to read the full article.

Seven Underwater Wonders of the WorldNorthern Red Sea one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World

The Northern Red Sea Region has on its Northern shores Egypt, Israel Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Sudan and Eritrea in its western side; it is more famous for some of the most beautiful coral formations in the world and its exclusive fish varieties. Click here to read the full article.

Seven Underwater Wonders of the WorldLake Baikal one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World

Lake Baikal is known as the Galapagos of Russia as both share a history of spending many years in isolation from external world for very long period; if it was ocean that isolated Galapagos, it was the hostile permafrost of Siberia that cut Baikal from outside world. The flora and fauna of both lands had to evolve independently being cut off from mainstream animals and plants. Click here to read the full article.

Seven Underwater Wonders of the WorldGreat Barrier Reef one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World

The Oceania has much geographical exclusivities for its credit; but Great Barrier Reef that spans 2000 kms near Australia is the most prominent among them. It is the largest coral reef in the world. This rare natural wonder comprises of about 900 islands and more than 3000 coral platforms all formed by millions of years of biological activity has been approved as the icon of Queen’s Land. Click here to read the full article.

Seven Underwater Wonders of the WorldDeep Sea Vents one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World

Deep Sea vents or deep sea hydrothermal vents are geysers that form along with mid ocean ridges. These are just cracks in the ocean bottom in to which ocean water gushes in to be ejected out along with various minerals available with the magma. These vents are places where the magma of the earth’s core gets some exit points. Click here to read the full article.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Palau Islands

Republic of Palau - The Cradle of Biodiversity

Palau IslandsPalau Islands image courtsey:

The Republic of Palau known as the Palau Islands is an Archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean; about 800 kilometers off Philippines. It is a young nation with an area of 459 sq km and a population of 217,000. Palau gained its independence in 1994 (capital Melekeok). English, Palauan and Japanese are the frequently used languages in this island nation. The Palau Island is endowed with most diverse varieties of corals, aquatic plants and fish; hence The CEDAM has listed and ranked Palau Islands as the No.1 ‘Under Water Wonders of the World’ in 1994.

German, Spanish and Japanese rules

Palau had remained as an unknown part of the land even the Philippines the nearest people had little knowledge of these islands. Henry Wilson was the first English to report about the existence of Palau; as his ship wrecked near these islands. Since its discovery until 1898 Palau was under Spanish East Indies, Span ruled it through its regional head quarter at Philippines. Palau had a short spell or German rule also, the Germans outlawed the marriages and rituals as per other religions and they instructed the islanders to plant trees. Even now there are some coconut trees to tell the stories of the German rule.

Palau Island

Palau Islands image courtesy:

The Japanese also had a 30 year spell from 1914 to 1944. In the World War II Allied forces with American army had to engage in severe battle to end the Japanese occupation. Remnants of Japanese occupation and the forceful changes they have made in the civil laws are still visible even now along with the presence of Japanese language.

Umbrella islands

Palau Islands MapPalau Islands Map courtsey:

The Republic of Palau is an archipelago of numerous small islands; these are divided in to 16 States for administration. Its economy is mostly dependent upon tourism; other employments are agriculture and fishing. Altogether there are there are 300 islands (excluding small rock formations) most of them are not permanently inhabited. The island mass is made of soft calcium compounds and it gets corroded by sea waves giving them umbrella shapes.

Blue lagoons

Each of these islands has something to offer for explorers, researchers as well as sight seeing tourists. The Palau Islands have beautiful lagoons; marine as well as fresh water; all filled with diverse corals, fish and invertebrate populations. These lagoons are with sparkling bluish water beneath their waters they hide a beautiful living world not found any where else in the world.

Coral garden

Corals are invertebrates which live in colonies comprising of millions of animals; they lead a stationary life like plants, in ancient times people took them for plants. They secrete a calcium compound exoskeleton that covers its body. Even after the animal’s (the polyp’s) death these skeletons remain intact and act as foundation for the future polyps to live. Thus after several generations these skeletons accumulate and give birth to big mountain like structures called coral reef. The Great Barrier Reef off Australia, the Belize Barrier Reef are coral reefs which are well known ones; The Great Barrier Reef is thousands of kilometers long the longest in the world.

Ngameli Island

Though not as big as the Great Barrier Reef the corals of Palau are more diverse and beautiful than the big ones. Ngameli is an island of this group which has lagoons with ‘coral gardens’; far more beautiful than the gardens human beings can make, this has corals resembling plants, flowers, the soft body corals with enchanting colors like green, red and all possible combinations stands straight as if they are planted there! Scientists have so far identified more than 700 species of corals and 1500 species of fish from lagoons of these islands.

The water world

Palau IslandsPalau Islands image courtsey:

Fish like the blue-headed wrasses, the black masked emperor angel fish, yellow butterfly fish, the green-red brittle stacs that has spikes, the mango sized puffer that can take in water and expand like a balloon; if irritated. Trunk fish with body like a tough trunk offer protection from predators. Then there are the giant clams with body measuring two three feet. The brittle stars are colored blue or red are invertebrates which prefer to stay in crevices offered by the corals. In day times they prefer to stay ‘indoors’ as after sunset they have to be active, life is quite a happy thing for them just get out and eat planktons that is all! The crocodile fish is a look alike of the reptile is as smart as the crocodile, expert in hunting by stealth. Water melon cuttlefish changes not only shape but also color.

Rock Island

Of the many islands Rock Island (locally known as Chelbacheb) under the state of Koror is the most captivating site in Palau. It is a cluster of 250 to 300 islets believed to be formed by the uprising of coral from the sea bottom due to geological upheavals. It has a total area of 47 sq km. All these islands are umbrella shaped and connected by beautiful coral bay. These islands are famous for its beautiful beaches where scuba diving and snorkeling facilities are available.

Jelly-fish Lake

The Jelly-fish Lake is the main attraction of this island. It is a marine lake got isolated from the sea millions of years ago. It has got numerous fish stocks living in the lake for so many years and undergone evolutions making them very unique to this island lake. The Jelly-fish are strange fish who harbor some.

The Sting ray is one example which doesn’t know the art of stinging! The reason for such pleasant evolutions is said to be that as its predators (mainly turtles) got cut off from the lake they did not have to use these stings for so many generations; thus these stings got atrophied due to disuse. What a surprise for the swimmers in the lake they can swim free in the lake without the fear of getting stung!

Blue Corner

Blue Corner, is a part of the island system that is very famous for its visual appeal, here the stream is swift and fish move fast. The corals of this part are almost dead and remain as white patches devoid of their natural beauty and color. Manta and the Eagle Rays are large fish with big ‘wings’ they are common sights in the Blue Corner. Otherwise the currents will sweep him to the open ocean.

As this part is open to the ocean predators like jack fish and sharks occasionally pay a visit to these waters and get a taste of the plankton eaters of this locality; what to say about these fire ants of the paradise!

Ochaeo Legend

Palau IslandsPalau Islands image courtsey:

Each culture has its own legends to cherish; in fact these packs of legends add spice to the routine day today life that has nothing much to cheer about. Palau was cut off from the external world and its people had nothing but their legends to tell each other. Ochaeo was their hero-god, who could acquire the shapes of bird, fish or man at his will. While leading human life he fell in love with his neighbor a Palauan girl by name Mechi ra Omengul he married her. As a god he had other compulsions and one day the couple flew away as birds!

The Chieftain of the tribe recognized the fact that Ochaeo was a god and he built a shrine on the spot dedicated to Ochaeo and his wife from where they flew to the sky. After some days fishermen caught two Eagle spotted rays from the sea; while trying to cook it the whole site exploded and Ochaeo along with his wife flew to the sky. With this incident the people of the island began to worship Ochaeo as a god. Even now there is a platform at ‘Idub’ said to be the shrine of Ochaeo.

Along with corals

While visiting Palau visitors can see along with lagoons, corals, and exotic fish this shrine that has filled the Palauan minds for the past several generations.