Connect with us


Most beautiful places on earth: Some paradises on Earth



The most threadbare word in travel would surely be “paradise”. But what exactly people mean when they over-use this descriptor? The simplest manifestation of a traveler’s nirvana is a magnificent location. But one person’s notion of beauty is another’s monochrome.

Deserts or big-sky fields could be paradise to some, alarmingly unstructured to others. Mountains and forests are one person’s spiritual home, another’s claustrophobia. Thickly peopled cities, with their weight of history and culture, are the substance of civilisation or its betrayal. Indeed, even the sea and its salty associations, though commonly accepted as the apotheosis of paradise, has its critics.

Paradise is more a state of psyche – not just a beautiful place but an emotional condition, a spiritual revelation, a feeling of serendipity or accident of fate where perfection collides – or all of the above. Paradise is highly personal, because it’s where you feel happiest.

At its most complex, it could be a yearning for something extraordinary, pure and mystical, for perfection in a flawed world. It might relate to our happy childhood places. It could be a counter to the lives we lead – serene or frenetic.

Seven of our writers have thought about the many destinations they’ve visited and picked their “paradise found”. We have three wild places, a village high on a mountain lake, two islands and, interestingly, only one city, perhaps reflecting our first-world perspective.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

It is first light when we put ashore at Isla Bartolomé, our boots crunching on volcanic rocks as we step across the hurling bow of our Zodiac. A couple of meters in, a fluted top rears behind the sea, dappled with orange spatter cones and sooty magma streams. A lunar landscape born of fire, it is however fierce as it seems to be delicate. Reaching the summit we peer down on a perfect bend of beach, a spearheaded obelisk known as Pinnacle Rock mooring its furthermost point. From our lofty position the beach below is a scarf of gold, a painter’s stroke separating turquoise water from singed land.

The Galapagos Islands, a remote archipelago of 13 volcanic islands straddling the equator, isn’t your typical island paradise. It’s more than that. It’s a place where cormorants have forgotten how to fly and iguanas have learned to swim; where the sea floor is speckled with choc-chip starfish and boobies in red boots hold tight branches like Christmas baubles. It’s a place where half the animal species that call it home are discovered nowhere else, and most don’t give a toss that you are here.

I’m traveling with Lindblad Expeditions aboard the 96-passenger National Geographic Endeavor II, a 10-day expedition that will bring us close to natural wonders that most people can only dream about. We’ve already visited Espanola Island, created more than 3.5 million years ago and one of the oldest in the archipelago. Here, we witnessed the courting dance of blue-footed boobies, were sneezed on by snotty marine iguanas, and watched in wonderment as waved albatross landed from the sky on an “albatross airport”.

On Floreana Island we wade ashore on a green sand beach, spot lipstick pink flamingos and snorkel over coral gardens. Afterwards, we flop on the warm sand alongside resting sea lions a later, as the sky blushes pink, we kayak in the midst of pairs of loved-up sea turtles.

What else is there to do in paradise?

Snorkeling around the base of Pinnacle Rock with penguins (indeed, penguins), I feel like I’ve slipped through a fissure that has brought me to another dimension. Indeed, even Darwin was compelled to write, “whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so straightforward a beginning endless forms most beautiful and wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

In the event that this isn’t paradise, I don’t know what is.

Hallstatt, Austria

Mountains come close to paradise, and I don’t think I’m alone. Since forever, humans – wandering Japanese monks, ancient Greeks, Hindu holy men – have looked to the slopes for inspiration, spiritual enlightenment and escape. Then Romantic writers “discovered” the beauty of the formerly terrifying mountains for Europeans in the 18th century, finding images of happy goatherds and freedom fighters. Mountains became the subject of poetry and painting, and soon high tourism was born. Mountains cause my soul to sing wherever I might be, but I especially like the contrast of rugged nature and dainty human endeavor you find in the European Alps. Surely paradise must resemble this: majestic, muscular pinnacles coupled with pretty gardens, gingerbread houses and clear flowerboxes in a yin-yang of landscape.

No place better captures this than Hallstatt in Austria’s high Salzburgerland, where rearing mountains are pockmarked with pools of gob-smacking gorgeousness. It provides a scene as ridiculously kitschy as any on a chocolate box. The village sits on the edge of a lake paddled by swans and surrounded by limestone precipices. The water is so clear you can see fish flit. On the off chance that I at any point get to paradise, it had better resemble this.

There’s consistently a fly in the ointment of travel destinations claimed as paradise: tropical diseases, monstrous hotels, irritable locals, a lack of plumbing. Not in Hallstatt though. Hotels are comfy cozy, lively locals frill about in dirndls, and the only thing you might die of is a surfeit of landscape. Indeed, even dead people here look beautiful. They have their skulls painted with roses and gentians and stacked in a charnel house beside the 800-year-old church, which has a splendid lake see. Pastel houses tumble down to blue water cross-hatched by boat wakes. Church bells bang. Meadows are an Impressionist sprinkle of yellow buttercups.

Whenever I’m in the mountains, my spirit soars. I turn to them in times of trouble, because stresses seem trivial in the face of their eternal rocks. The mountains will be here long after my problems have gone, and I’ve gone, too. I track down this topographical perspective liberating. Mountains are for bright tramps beneath silent snow tops, murmuring waterfalls and pine-scented forest. They provide intervals of beauty and solitude snatched from a crowded, accelerated existence of busyness. Travel is supposed to cause you to feel good, and mountains are my piece of paradise.


The world’s largest frozen desert, the loneliest and coldest place on Earth that’s the most hostile to living beings, may not immediately come into view when you hear “paradise”. But in the event that you, similar to me, consider paradise to be more about peace and purity than piña coladas, mental clarity than water clarity, and rediscovering your feeling of wonder for the planet than rediscovering your suntan, then Antarctica must, indeed, be the place.

For the past 59 years, since the Antarctic Treaty was first signed by 12 countries including Australia, the entire continent enjoys been dedicated to harmony and science. With today’s threats of climate change and global conflict, it seems almost miraculous that the treaty has not only survived this long, but continues to gather new signatures, guaranteeing Antarctica remains the most pristine corner of the earth.

Because this peaceful continent (which is generally twice the size of Australia) has a maximum population of about 4000 people throughout the summer months, it’s one of the last places on earth where you can see things left just as they are, with barely any interference from humans. Standing on the cold shores of Neko Harbor, curious baby penguins waddling through the snow by your feet as you look out at icebergs the size of skyscrapers, will leave you feeling that there may be hope for our planet after all.

This inclination will emerge over and over in Antarctica. As your Zodiac geniuses past full white crabeater seals waving from the tops of icebergs. As whales flash their tails from the cold depths while you watch from your luxurious ship’s deck, champagne in hand. As you slide past the soaring white bluffs of the Lemaire Channel, so picturesque it has been nicknamed Kodak Alley, and you suck in another lungful of pure, frosty air. It’s beauty you can be awed by, a place of true majesty that also has the power to drag you completely and utterly into the present moment. Perched on top of some snow-capped slope, surrounded by nothing but ice and snow and perfect silence, you’ll feel you’re the last person left invigorated on Earth. Which, really, is the truest form of escape.

Put essentially, Antarctica restores your feeling of wonder for the world. And what could be more paradisiacal than that? There may not be balmy beaches. There may not, for the unfortunate, even be daylight. But this frozen edge of the world is, for me at least, paradise on earth.

Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

This is where I chanced upon paradise, or close to enough: mulling 15 degrees south of the Equator within an ancient rift valley is the 2000-square-meter Mana Pools National Park on the Zambezi River, game rich beyond belief, one of Africa’s last pristine wilderness areas.

It is about as far away as you can get from Sydney, my home, which only occasionally yields looks at a touchingly imperfect paradise, discovered mostly in its diversity, history and vibrant surge of people, loved ones and friends.

But travel is often about seeking something different, and because we travel on a finite excursion, it also implies a perpetual quest for perfection.

We think we discover it, yet tell ourselves there’s something better up ahead. The trick is think that its more often within. But in the absence of that, here it is spread before me on the Mana Pools flood plain.

This primeval place is where you can inspect your own limitations – its raucous beauty and savagery renders singular cares insignificant. Paradise is in the chugging cacophony of hippo, howling hyena, soft elephant snuffles and frightful sound of lion outside your tent, the giant Nile crocodiles, the up-close breath of danger. In its simplest form, it is life, death and heavenliness – a purging of the soul.

In the June-to-October dry season, the great predators and herbivores descend from the woodlands of the Great Rift Valley’s escarpment to the mopane thickets and rich alluvial riverine terraces, shallow pools and flood fields of World Heritage-listed Mana Pools, signifying “four pools” in Shona.

These are the perennial pools or oxbow lakes, remnants of the old riverbed that run parallel to the river’s primary channel. As waterholes and streams evaporate, tropical moisture yields a rich smorgasbord of sweet grasses, mopane, sausage trees, baobabs, Natal mahogany and the protein-mineral-rich units of the winterthorn acacia tree – “the magic time of the cases”.

We have come to canoe and stroll on seven days long mobile camp safari that reaches 50 kilometers along the river. Across the swift-streaming Zambezi is Zambia, ascending to the rift escarpment. Brilliant stars beat a short path to my cross section top tent.

But paradise is subjective. Former president Robert Mugabe plundered Zimbabwe. In Mana Pools, we wake to the screeching of a hippo being butchered. Our Mana Pools-born guide and son-of-a-guide tells us workers’ wages go unpaid. Instead, they must winnow to eat.

Hopefully, post-Mugabe Zimbabwe, more open to tourism, will re-discover its “magic time of the units” and the paradise that is Mana Pools will no longer need any qualification.

Savusavu, Vanua Levu Island Fiji

I’d been to many a tropical island by the time I first visited Vanua Levu, but there was something about it that stirred the soul. Flying over gem shaped reefs and atolls strung out like pearls in an iridescent green sea, and winding up off the well-worn tourist trail was special, sure; but it was more than that. It felt like coming home.

Savusavu, Vanua Levu’s charming harbourside town, exudes a warmth, I’d not felt anywhere else. Known as Fiji’s “Hidden Paradise”, its deep harbor, spectacular reefs and secluded, palm fringed bays are esthetically beautiful in a postcard perfect sort of way. But here the earth beneath your feet overflows an energy that instantly causes you to feel more settled, walk slower, breathe easier. Time seems to slow down and, unfailingly, you forget about it.

I first came to Savusavu in 2006 and stayed at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort. It made such an impression on me, I decided to get married there. Twelve months later we tied the knot in a thatched bure as waves gently lapped the shore. A searing sunset lit up the Coral Sea, hurricane lanterns glowed along the shoreline as we were serenaded by a radiant Fijian ensemble. Just two hours earlier, I’d been snorkeling off the dock, spotting curious soldier fish, giant clams and dramatic looking Lion Fish. Given I was pregnant and sick day in and day out, it was the ultimate stress-free wedding.

That was more than a decade ago now. From that point forward we’ve returned so many times I’ve lost count. We’ve celebrated birthdays (including our daughter’s second birthday), our 10th wedding commemoration, dived with Jean-Michel Cousteau himself, and brought friends and family over with us to experience the place we love most in the world. The staff resemble family. We stress over them, raise money if something’s needed, bring over packages of donations, and follow their lives with interest.

Whenever we approach the resort along the narrow road that hugs Savusavu Bay, I feel an overwhelming surge of emotion. As I step from the vehicle, the sound of the Bula welcome song greets us, along with a heady waft of frangipani and coconut. I’m pulled into warm hugs by staff, who have become friends; others give high-fives with the biggest grins. “Welcome home,” they say and I grin back and reply, “thank you”, because I truly feel like I am.

Salvador De Bahia, Brazil

On the off chance that there is an afterlife, there is no way I’m spending it in a garden. Nature is all well and good, but the exemplary idea of a verdant, verdant paradise just doesn’t work for me – and not just because I’m useless with secateurs. I would prefer to spend my afterlife somewhere interesting. I would want to be around there, a place filled with people and energy, where I can appreciate fabulous food and a vigorous cultural scene. A city where – depending on your mood – you can both kick on and kick back. In short, I want to spend it in the Brazilian city of Salvador de Bahia.

For a paradisical place, Salvador has a fairly appalling past. For centuries, this former Brazilian capital was one of South America’s chief slaving ports, the place where the ships from Africa would unload their suffering human cargo. The city’s colonial heart, a neighborhood of pretty pastel-painted houses, is even named Pelourinho, in memory of the whipping post that once stood in its central square.

So why for heaven’s sake would I pick this city – which, in the same way as other South American cities, continues to have issues with poverty and crime – as my everlasting home? Because Salvador is a city with plenty of upsides. It has a balmy climate and gorgeous colonial architecture, not to mention the best food in Brazil. (I could eat moqueca, the more-ish seafood stew, every day of my life). What really sets it apart, in any case, is its people.

Salvador is known as Brazil’s party capital and, in contrast to Rio and Sao Paulo, the celebrations aren’t confined to hip nightclubs. Music moves through the streets of the city, which is also where the best parties take place. Don’t waste your time agonizing over what to wear; Salvador isn’t that sort of place. Just turn up and participate.

What I really love about Salvadorans, nonetheless, is their attitude to life. They are generous, carefree and friendly, and they don’t sweat the small stuff. Indeed, even the spirits that they worship as part of the local Candomble faith, based on West African religions, have a zest forever. Take a gander at the offerings laid out at crossroads: they include stogies and bottles of cachaça, the local sugar cane spirit. In Salvador, even eternal beings appreciate a party.

Indeed, Salvador is the city I can envision myself drifting through for eternity. And you know what else? At the point when it all gets too much and you need some time out, you can head to one of the sandy golden beaches that periphery the town. Now that’s paradise.

Lord Howe Island

One of Australia’s quiet surprises, Lord Howe Island barely registers with the wider world, and there are plenty who prefer it that way. Anchored 550 kilometers due east of Port Macquarie, the island measures barely 11 kilometers from one end to another and two across at its widest point, yet rarely is so much crammed into a particularly tiny pimple of dry land. The lagoon in the shelter of the reef on the western side of the island hosts the world’s most southerly coral gardens. On the eastern side are surf beaches and sheer bluffs that hurl themselves vertically from the sea. In the interior are dense forests of the miraculous banyan tree, which can traverse 100 square meters with its root structure of soaring columns. The summit of Mount Gower is richly invested with rainforest and most of the island’s lower story is blanketed by a rustling canopy of kentia palms, once the mainstay of Lord Howe’s economy.

The sea life is phenomenal. In the surrounding waters, warm and cool currents collide, generating a wealth of marine life that includes giant clams, sea turtles, clownfish, lionfish, tuna, butterfly fish and the doubleheader wrasse, an animal categories remarkable to the island’s waters. The island is also a biological ark, a perch for exotic types of sea birds in migratory excursions that might take them as far north as Siberia. Boobies nest along the breezy precipices, white terns drift like snowflakes among the kentia palm forests and ternlets nest along the base of the bluffs. Ruler Howe is the only place on earth where providence petrels breed. One of the greatest concentrations of the fabulous red-tailed tropic bird can be found along the island’s northern precipices.

So much natural bounty is mightily invigorating. Everyone swims, snorkels, climbs, fishes, bicycles, takes up bird watching or even golf for the sheer pleasure of whacking a ball around the lovely nine-opening course. The first thing to do is head over to the Wilson’s shop and hire a bike. Next, look at the tours on the board opposite the post office. Guided tours often book out several days in advance and you need to hustle to pursue fishing, jumping, sightseeing, climbing and snorkeling tours.

Just as its birds, its fish, its strolls, its eccentric island ways, Lord Howe Island is a potent personality-altering substance. Wherever you go you’ll come across visitors murmuring over some particularly heartening piece of real estate. We are all improved by exposure to Lord Howe Island – better, kinder, healthier, happier. This is the manner in which the world ought to be. Paradise, with brass knobs on.


Here’s all you need to know whether UK is in your travel plan



In the event that you are wanting to travel to the UK, your ride isn’t going to be a smooth one. As India remains in UK’s ‘red list’ of countries, here’s all you need to know about travel restrictions and exceptions for those traveling to England.

As of now, visas for travel to London have been waiting until further notice and no Indians are being issued fresh travel visas. In this case, those who want to travel to the UK must have a long-term visa.

But regardless of whether one has a long-term visa, the person cannot directly travel to the country and have to take a flight from a country which is in UK’s green list. Secondly, the traveler ought to have stayed for at least ten days in a “green list” country.

UK’s Green List countries



Falkland Islands

Faroe Islands



Israel and Jerusalem

New Zealand


South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

None of the countries mentioned in UK’s green list are permitting travelers from India. As of now, Turkey, South Africa, Egypt, Russia and Nepal are the countries that have relaxed travel restrictions for passengers from India.

In a rare occasion that you discover a country, flying from Delhi to that place might be close to impossible given the flight options and routes.

England has categorized countries in three different lists that have different set of norms to be followed to show up in country.

Read More Article

Continue Reading


Visiting Coco Island National Park, North Puntarenas



When visiting Coco’s Island National Park, Costa Rica, both suburbanites and urban city dwellers are going to be amazed by the adventure that awaits. Tropical animals and exotic avian and marine life are just a couple of the attractions that magnetize travelers visiting this beautiful island. The massive variety of wildlife is extremely attractive to visitors seeking eco-tourism discovery and excursions. Positioned 370 miles from Puntarenas, this island gem off of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is its very own remarkable world, set apart even from other parts of Costa Rica. This seclusion amplifies the inclination that this remote (but accessible) island is an unusually delightful getaway, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Ecological Framework

The Costa Rican government has worked tirelessly to protect plants and animals in the national park, despite being faced with financial shortfalls and other challenges. While pigs, rats, and goats have threatened some of these exotic species, the local authorities have been fighting a fierce and uphill battle to continue to protect indigenous wildlife. This area has enormous biological significance to the country, because of the large quantity of changing species that are residents of the island. By extension, this island has biological significance to the world at large. Ecologists and biologists from around the world have picked Coco’s Island National Park to explore nature’s internal workings.

Rare Finds

A trek through the national park will probably expose tourists to many sorts of wildlife that are not common on the average city street. In fact, the area is teeming with animals that are so rare, they cannot be located anywhere else on the planet. In the nearby water, 270 sorts of fish are abundant, and a snorkeling adventure provides an intimate perspective on their variety. These exceptional finds are conventional discoveries in Coco’s Island National Park fauna. The phenomenal verdure is exhibited by the 235 breeds of plants that punctuate the island’s versatile landscape.

Lay of the Land

Volcanic transformation has carved precipices and valleys into the island landscape, creating a spectacular panorama. The absence of colonization has helped to preserve the island’s stunning and pristine composition. This lack of human settlement implies that there are no hotels, hostels, or cabins for overnight stays on the island. This also implies that island sees are not obstructed by high-ascent, super chain establishments. The intent is for Coco’s Island to remain a preserved sanctuary for wildlife and maintain an unsullied view for travelers in search of nature’s secrets.

Daytime Exploration

The island is accessible exclusively by boat, and the grand excursion to the point of destination almost rivals the sights to be seen upon arrival. Tourists wishing to visit the island are welcome to take roadtrips to explore. Travelers may wish to discover the mysteries of the sea with a scuba plunging excursion. These adventurous tourists can explore sensational underwater caverns. In Coco’s Island, Costa Rica, snorkeling is a favorite pastime. Tourists can see the wonders of the sea while floating above the local marine life, if comfort doesn’t allow for the ultimate scuba plunging submersion.

Daytime Exploration

The island is accessible exclusively by boat, and the picturesque excursion to the point of destination almost rivals the sights to be seen upon arrival. Tourists wishing to visit the island are welcome to take roadtrips to explore. Travelers may wish to discover the mysteries of the sea with a scuba plunging excursion. These adventurous tourists can explore dazzling underwater caverns. In Coco’s Island, Costa Rica, snorkeling is a favorite pastime. Tourists can see the wonders of the sea while floating above the local marine life, if comfort doesn’t allow for the ultimate scuba jumping submersion.

Continue Reading


England ‘green list’ of approved travel destinations revealed



Travelers from the UK have been given the go ahead to visit Portugal, Gibraltar and Israel from May 17 when months of restrictions making it illegal to travel abroad for a vacation will reach a conclusion.

The UK government has finally revealed the 12 countries and territories that will be designated “green” once the current ban on non-essential travel is lifted after long stretches of speculation.

The much-anticipated announcement looks set to lead to surge in vacation bookings for the countries that have gained a coveted spot, although there was disappointment that the list didn’t contain certain prime travel destinations.

A traffic light system is now in place, with countries split into three different categories based on their Covid-19 infection and vaccinations rates, along with the prevalence of any variants of concern.

The full green list is: Portugal including Azores and Madeira, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, and Israel.

France, Greece, Spain and Italy have been put on the “amber” list, which implies travelers will be required to quarantine for 10 days on returning to the UK.

Then Turkey, the Maldives and Nepal, are being added to the UK’s “red” list of countries from which most travel is banned. That list already includes South Africa, India, Namibia and the United Arab Emirates.

“I regret the favorite summer destinations like France and Spain and Greece, are not yet included,” UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said during a press conference on Friday.

Traffic light system

“But every three weeks from reopening, we’ll be reviewing the countries, to perceive how and where we can expand the green list. So this is just a first step.”

Travelers intending to visit a “green” destination should take a pre-departure test, just as a PCR test on or before day two of their arrival back in the UK. Notwithstanding, they won’t be required to quarantine.

Those traveling from a country designated “amber” should quarantine for 10 days, take a pre-departure test and also get a PCR test on day two and eight of their isolation.

“Amber” travelers will meet all requirements for the test to release conspire, which permits holidaymakers to take a PCR test after five days’ quarantine. On the off chance that they receive a negative result, they are permitted to go out into the community.

Those wanting to occasion in a destination on the “red” list face the toughest restrictions, and should check in at one of the UK’s quarantine hotels, at a cost of £1,750 (around $2,445) per adult, on their return just as follow similar testing rules for those showing up from “amber” destinations.

According to Shapps, travelers can use their NHS app to demonstrate their Covid vaccination and testing status, while a paper alternative will be available to those who don’t have a smartphone.

‘Too cautious’

The news will come as a relief to British holidaymakers, who’ve been banned from traveling outside England “without a reasonable excuse” since tougher lockdown restrictions were put in place in January.

In recent weeks, those caught flouting the standards risked fines going from £5,000 ($7,000) to £10,000 ($14,000).

After the announcement, the World Travel and Tourism Council expressed disappointment that the US was not included on the “green” list, and accused the UK government of being “too cautious.”

“We welcome this first initial step by the UK government to begin opening the way to international travel with the announcement of today’s ‘traffic light’ system,” reads an official statement from President and CEO Gloria Guevera.

“Notwithstanding, airlines and the wider Travel and Tourism sector will be hugely disappointed that the US, which has a comparative vaccination achievement rate has not been included on the ‘green list’ as it would have enabled the resumption of transatlantic travel, which would have thrown a vital life saver to the sector in two of the biggest Travel and Tourism markets in the world.

“Holidaymakers and business travelers will be disappointed by today’s information, with so couple of countries on the ‘green list’, while Europe steals a walk on the UK by continuing to open up and welcome visitors back.”

Continue Reading


Copyright © 2020 WNNGC. Theme by WNNGC, powered by WordPress.