Bryce Canyon - a stunning US travel destination

Written by Felicity Walker

Bryce Canyon is not a canyon. It isrepparttar spectacular edge ofrepparttar 146194 Paunsaugunt Plateau, a place where intricately carved towers and archways of stone shimmer in a dazzling array of colour underrepparttar 146195 bright sun.

The state of Utah inrepparttar 146196 United States is home to many beautiful National Parks, and Bryce Canyon National Park ranks as one ofrepparttar 146197 most magnificent and awe inspiring.

15 million years agorepparttar 146198 earth in this region began to shift, forming a series of plateaus. The Paunsaugunt is an extensive plateau, withrepparttar 146199 Paria River gradually eroding awayrepparttar 146200 edge to form Bryce Canyon.

The rock in Bryce Canyon is composed of layer after layer of sediment deposits, deposited millions of years ago whenrepparttar 146201 area was atrepparttar 146202 bottom of a lake. Nowrepparttar 146203 Paria River has exposedrepparttar 146204 layers, allowing a detailed history ofrepparttar 146205 lake to be determined.

The Park itself was established in 1924, and was named after an early settler inrepparttar 146206 area, Ebenezer Bryce. He emigrated from Scotland, married a local girl then moved southwards in stages, building sawmills as he went.

Inrepparttar 146207 mid 1870s he reachedrepparttar 146208 Paria River, where he and his family settled for a number of years. It was at this time that Bryce made his immortal comment about Bryce Canyon - he called it "one hell of a place to lose a cow".

The area remained basically undiscovered by European tourists,repparttar 146209 first guest houses only being constructed aroundrepparttar 146210 time whenrepparttar 146211 park was officially established.

Luckily this has led to Bryce Canyon being an area of largely unspoiled beauty, as well asrepparttar 146212 enormous scientific value ofrepparttar 146213 historic information trapped in its pinnacles and spires.

The canyon is by no means a stagnant place -repparttar 146214 rim recedes by an average of about a foot every 50 years, and in this ever changing scene it is water that playsrepparttar 146215 most vital role inrepparttar 146216 shaping and eventual destruction ofrepparttar 146217 magnificent scenery.

Becauserepparttar 146218 rock was laid down in layers, there is a variation inrepparttar 146219 hardness ofrepparttar 146220 rock formed. When water runoff trickles acrossrepparttar 146221 rock, some areas erode rapidly whereas others hold firm.

This variation in erosion speed causesrepparttar 146222 formation of pinnacles, or "hoodoos" of stable rock. In some placesrepparttar 146223 water seeps down through cracks and eats out holes beneathrepparttar 146224 surface. Whenrepparttar 146225 side rock erodes away, an archway is left behind.

Eventuallyrepparttar 146226 arch collapses, leaving two more pillars to joinrepparttar 146227 rest. The ever changing vista of colours, spires, walls and archways is spectacular at any season, andrepparttar 146228 park is open all year round.

Mount Kenya - Up High at God's Mountain

Written by Andrew Muigai

Mount Kenya is Africa's second highest mountain, after Kilimanjaro. It is estimated to be 2.5 million years old, and Kilimanjaro at 750,00 years of age is really an upstart. Time has really taken its toll, andrepparttar peak is thought to have dropped from 6,500 m those millions of years ago to 5,199 m today. The mountain is an extinct volcano, whose plug forms what is todayrepparttar 146193 peak area. The crater was long ago, done to death, by nature's untiring erosion agents.

Mount Kenya is an awe-inspiring spectacle that dominatesrepparttar 146194 central Kenyan highlands. It is perhaps understandable thatrepparttar 146195 Kikuyu people who reside on its lower slopes thought it fit for Gods' abode. And it inspires people in strange ways. In 1943, Felice Benuzzi, an Italian prisoner of war held at Nanyuki atrepparttar 146196 base ofrepparttar 146197 mountain, and two companions, escaped and attempted to scalerepparttar 146198 summit. With just a few handmade climbing tools, he managed reach Point Lenana,repparttar 146199 mountain's third highest peak.

But Benuzzi was at least an accomplished mountaineer. In 1988,repparttar 146200 Mount Kenya Rescue Team discovered and retrieved an elder ofrepparttar 146201 Meru people way up atrepparttar 146202 chilly heights of Peak Nelion (5,188 m). Only experts, with proper equipment and guides reach Nelion. He appeared unaware ofrepparttar 146203 feat he had accomplished and was perturbed byrepparttar 146204 fuss his rescuers raised. He explained his mission was "going to God". He was kitted in a manner you will not see recommended in any guide book- in a single blanket and open sandals. The animals do weird things too: a few years ago,repparttar 146205 frozen bodies of a leopard and colobus monkey were discovered at Nelion.

Mount Kenya is located 180 km torepparttar 146206 north of Nairobi. The mountain falls within Mount Kenya National Park. The park is made up of a protected area above 3,200m altitude, together with two small salients reaching to 2,450 m alongrepparttar 146207 Naro Moru and Sirimon trails. It was set up in 1949 and covers an area of 715 sq km. It is further surrounded byrepparttar 146208 Mount Kenya National Reserve, which extends over 2,075 sq km. The park hasrepparttar 146209 distinction of being simultaneously a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve.

The mountain is made up of three main zones:repparttar 146210 rocky peak region,repparttar 146211 afro-alpine moorland with its scattering of giant vegetation, andrepparttar 146212 extensive lower slopes covered in mountain forest and bamboo. The astonishing ecological diversity is one ofrepparttar 146213 attractions of this giant. The ecological processes that have brought aboutrepparttar 146214 afro-alpine flora in particular intrigue scientists. There are 81 species of plants here that are found nowhere else inrepparttar 146215 world.

Inrepparttar 146216 lower forest zone, there is plenty of wildlife including buffalo, elephant, sykes monkey and bushbuck. The animals are however generally difficult to see. Further up,repparttar 146217 animals are even scarcer though hyena, leopard, buffalo and civet cats have been sighted. The only animal you are likely to see inrepparttar 146218 upper alpine zones isrepparttar 146219 rock hyrax. Though it isrepparttar 146220 size of a domestic cat, it resembles a rat more. The seemingly humble rock hyrax has some powerful relatives inrepparttar 146221 animal kingdom and it countsrepparttar 146222 elephant as its biological kin.

The mountain attracts over 30,000 enthusiasts every year. Point Lenana (4,985 m),repparttar 146223 so-called trekkers peak, can be reached by any reasonably fit and suitably prepared person. The summit hasrepparttar 146224 twin peaks of Batian (5,199 m) and Nelion (5,188 m), and is accessible to only those with technical mountaineering and rock climbing experience. This mountain is not an easy one to conquer and each year not more than 100 climbers make it torepparttar 146225 twin summit peaks. Mount Kenya is in fact considered to be more technically challenging thanrepparttar 146226 higher Kilimanjaro (5,894 m). But those who make it torepparttar 146227 top experience some of Africa's finest rock and ice climbing.

The mountain has very many fans and especially fascinates technical climbers. The author and mountaineer, Rick Ridgeway - author ofrepparttar 146228 Seven Summits, declares that of allrepparttar 146229 worlds' mountains this is his favourite. Halford Mackinder planned and ledrepparttar 146230 first expedition on record to reachrepparttar 146231 summit in 1899. But ifrepparttar 146232 Meru elder mentioned above is anything to go by,repparttar 146233 locals must have long ago been torepparttar 146234 mountaintop. The Mackinder trip was a great success and his party discovered many species of animal and plant life then unknown in Europe. A new species of eagle owl, for example, was first recorded by this expedition and subsequently named after Mackinder.

Though Mount Kenya is practically onrepparttar 146235 equator, you will find snow and ice and even glaciers. However, inrepparttar 146236 one hundred years since Mackinder conqueredrepparttar 146237 mountain,repparttar 146238 number of glaciers has dropped from 18 to only 7 that remain today. The culprit for this isrepparttar 146239 global climate change that has accelerated in recent years. Scientists tell us that duringrepparttar 146240 ice ages large glaciers reached below 3,000 m. Todayrepparttar 146241 largest glacier isrepparttar 146242 Lewis Glacier at 4,600 m. The continuing retreat of glaciers is expected to have a negative impact on downstream eco-systems, not to mentionrepparttar 146243 scenic appeal ofrepparttar 146244 mountain.

Mount Kenya isrepparttar 146245 source of Tana River- Kenya's biggest river- and was for many years seen as an inexhaustible water fountain. Not any more-repparttar 146246 loss of glaciers and forest cover has brought this assumption into disrepute. The loss of forest cover is particularly worrying, because it is avoidable. How to saverepparttar 146247 forests of Mount Kenya has long engaged environmentalist Wangari Maathai-the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner. She was born onrepparttar 146248 lower slopes ofrepparttar 146249 mountain and has in her lifetime witnessedrepparttar 146250 changes up atrepparttar 146251 mountain.

You can reachrepparttar 146252 peak area by taking one of three routes: Naro Moru, Sirimon and Chogoria. Good roads will get you form Nairobi to Naro Moru, Nanyuki and Chogoria -repparttar 146253 base towns for each ofrepparttar 146254 trails. There are alternative routes but most have fallen into disuse and you need superior navigation skills and stamina to attempt them. This includes: Burguret, Meru, Kamweti, and Timau. It is highly recommended that you stick torepparttar 146255 three popular routes. But if you have a good reason for doing otherwise, or indeed for pioneering your own route, you are required to register withrepparttar 146256 park authorities.

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