Exploring Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains, one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.
When the boy arrives with our firewood and squats down on the dust-covered floor to escape the hailstorm raging outside, I can barely tear my eyes from him.
It’s not only that he’s five years old and all alone or that he’s wrapped Jedi-like in a threadbare grey blanket, or that he has materialized through the maelstrom accompanied by a retinue of six drenched cows. Neither is it the fact that, with the fire burning, he spends the next hour motionless, glowering, crouched like a mute boulder with steam coiling off his sodden clothes. When he gets up to leave, he stops at the doorway to empty his Wellington boots of the pooled water he has been crouching in the whole time.
It is, quite simply, that he is the first thing I have seen all day that hasn’t seemed impossibly huge and unfamiliar. Outside are the Simien Mountains, where encountering anything small is a rarity.
Spending time here, I am already discovering, gives you a pretty good impression of how Jack must have felt on that first expedition up the Beanstalk.
Looming high among the volcanic outriders of the Great Rift Valley in northern Ethiopia, is nature with a serious case of gigantism: a basalt escarpment 40 kilometers long, staggered between altitudes of 11,000 and 15,000 feet, populated with super-sized plants and armies of monkeys 500-strong. In 1978, UNESCO dubbed it “one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world,” and consecrated the Simien Mountains National Park in its very first batch of World Heritage Sites, alongside Yellowstone and the Galapagos Islands.
Until recently, however, outsiders have not always been able to walk its high plateaus. From 1983 to 1999, while Mount Kilimanjaro — Simien’s rival for the “Roof of Africa” title — was elbowing its way onto the pages of every ‘Things To Do Before You Die’ tome in the bookstore, a tragic combination of famine and regional warfare was grinding the Simien’s tourism potential into dust.
In recent years, however, a steady trickle of infrastructural improvements and foreign investment — epitomized by the opening of the up-market Simien Lodge, dubbed “Africa’s Highest Hotel,” would seem to point towards a promising future. I have come here to find out whether this epic tableland might one day become the most coveted pin on the trekker’s map of Africa.
Setting off from Sankaber — the classic trailhead for a trek in the Simiens — marks my introduction to a world of unrestrained visual overload: walking over broad tundra patrolled by the spiky fronds and 10-foot high flower stems of giant lobelias; staring into endless skies crisscrossed by squadrons of huge raptors; and moments spent lying in the dust, belly-down to quell the vertigo, watching streams spill over the escarpment rim, plummeting hundreds of meters before fishtailing into clouds of vapor. By the time a big-billed raven — twice the size of its European cousins — swoops down to croak for the crumbs from my packed-lunch, the Simiens have taken my lofty expectations and dropkicked them off the cliff.
Yet this is all a prelude, and it’s on the second morning that the show really begins. It finds me at the Gich campgrounds, one of three tracts in the national park set aside for camping, where I’ve been dozing top-to-tail with Dawoud ‘Chigger Yeh-Lem’ [No Problem] Suleyman, an infectiously enthusiastic guide, and Alemu, the obligatory rifle-toting scout.
All three of us are still damp from a run-in with some table-country weather, after our arrival last night was greeted by a welcoming committee of bruised clouds and marble-sized hailstones that thwarted our best efforts to pitch our hired tents. In one corner of the field stands a ‘lodge’, “but it is crap,” Dawoud had assessed bluntly, deploying for the first of many times the vernacular he picked up during a year studying at a college in Chichester, England. Further inspection revealed little more than a mud-spattered shed. We ended up seeking sanctuary in a communal open-sided roundhouse, crescented around the embers of our evening fire.
After the night that followed, which was largely spent avoiding leaks in the grass-thatched roof, it is comforting to know that our next stage is a short one. We are following an itinerary suggested by the National Park HQ staff in the nearby one-road town of Debark and today — a circuit of the plateau north and back to Gich — the going will be almost pancake-flat, affording me maximum gawping time along some of the park’s finest vantages.
The sun is still an extra-planetary smear on the horizon, the lobelia scattered across the moorland a triffid-like army just landed. We set off at a trot — to beat the dawn and to stave off the morning chill — across ground still spongy from last night’s rain.
Somewhere to the north, I hear a chorus of chirrups: the gelada monkeys, this region’s tousle-haired icons, are clambering out of their cliff-face caves to join us on the tableland. These gelada are the star-turns in a charismatic cast of creatures unique to the Ethiopian highlands.
Over the course of our trek, I will run into them time and again. But this morning the wildlife is a sideshow. For now, it’s all about the views. After an hour’s walk, with stomach-turning abruptness, the ground drops away below me for a vertical mile.
The trail slithers out from the plateau onto a narrow spine of splintered rock, ending in a knuckle of boulders known as Imet Gogo. It is the park’s most celebrated viewpoint and with good reason. Looking north from its 12,000-foot apex, I see a pair of rock incisors standing in sharp relief, their jagged tips snagging curls of mist. Beyond, vast arid plains start to coalesce through the haze, rising up into ranks of buttes and mesa-like mountains swathed in mineral colors.
This is the sort of view — all friable plains and pinnacles — that the Simiens are famous for. Travelling here in the 1920s, this landscape inspired poetry in the British adventuress Rosita Forbes. “When the old gods reigned in Ethiopia they must have played chess with these stupendous crags,” reads a passage of her 1925 travelogue From Red Sea to Blue Nile.
But now the chess-piece metaphor seems too genteel. The shapes I see are violent: the ravine behind me is the blow of a battle-axe; the table-peak in the distance the anvil from a blacksmith’s forge; the ephemeral abutments disappearing into the haze are the raised scar-tissue of a subterranean skirmish, remnants of a Titan’s war.
After an hour’s walk, with stomach-turning abruptness, the ground drops away below me for a vertical kilometer
Such impressions are not too far from reality: science’s explanation is no less traumatic. The clue is in the buttes: they mark the locations of long-extinct volcanic vents which, a few dozen million years ago, pumped out a superheated ooze of lava that solidified over time into a gargantuan igneous dome of basalt more than three kilometers thick. Five million years ago, with Ethiopia’s early hominids still a glint in evolution’s eye, an ice age added the finishing touches, as mighty glaciers kickstarted the process of gnawing away the cliffs that now fall away all around us.
One American visitor, reeling off shots by the dozen, sums up the end-result rather well: “A bit like half the Grand Canyon,” he says. “Only grander.” The panorama pretty much shut everyone up after that.
All the while, three lammergeyers — relatives of the vulture — pull figure-eights overhead, taking turns dropping in on cow femur bones scattered on the rocks to get at the marrow within, maneuvering without a single wing-beat even though I cannot feel a breath of the wind they’re riding.
Some of the park’s residents are more elusive but — with the exception of the weather, which for the duration of my visit breaks into a pell-mell of precipitation each afternoon — everything is going my way. The next morning, after another cold and soggy night at Gich, a local boy helps me catch a glimpse of the most elusive of them all.
“My name is Tazo. Have you seen the fox?”
He is a child-herdsman — spindle-legged, barefooted, half-mummified in a maroon cowl — who appears apparition-like as I crest a bluff on the trail. “Over there!” he points. I follow the line of his stabbing finger to where a statuesque beast with a slender muzzle and flame-colored fur is ghosting across the frosty landscape some 200 feet away. This is a special privilege, to encounter an Ethiopian wolf, the world’s most endangered canid (or ‘dog’ if you are not a taxonomist). This lanky shadow is one of an estimated 550 of his species still alive in the wild.
A simien fox, the world’s most endangered canid.
“Blimey!” says Dawoud, joining us on the ridge as the specter spies us and canters away. “We hardly ever see them.”
It is an auspicious start to a day spent mostly on the move — at 11 miles, our longest kick. Bypassing Imet Gogo, the trail turns east through the full spectrum of the Simiens landscapes, first edging along the green-walled void of the Meflekeaw Ravine; next passing over a golden prairie rumpled with the filigreed headwaters of a phantom stream; then climbing for 2,000 feet through a gnarled forest of heather trees, where the rain has unleashed the scent of wild thyme.
Along a winding track, over steady terrain, the kilometers fall away behind our boot heels with Dawoud up front, me in the middle, and Alemu, aquiline and fierce, bringing up the rear in vigilant silence, a burlap sack full of our accumulated litter slung over one bony shoulder and antique bolt action rifle — which never leaves his side, even in slumber — on the other.
“To warn away the kids,” Dawoud claims, when I ask why the gun is necessary, although when we next encounter some back among the high grasslands, their presence is hardly intimidating. On an outcrop, nearing our trek’s 13,000-foot high point, some entrepreneurial children have gathered to hawk cow-horn goblets and eucalyptus crooks to anyone filing over the summit.
For the Amhara pastoralists who live within the park’s boundaries, selling trinkets to tourists is a recent diversification from an otherwise ancient way of life. As the journey progresses, the opportunity to spend time with them becomes as integral a part of the Simien experience as the extraordinary landscape they call home. Seldom does an hour pass without some sight of a tukul — the mud-walled roundhouse with conical thatched roof seen throughout Ethiopia’s highland communities — or a chorus of high-pitched hellos assailing us from the top of a distant hill.
One family invites us into their tukul to shelter from a squall. Ducking under the low lintel, I am greeted by a cacophony of bleats and mews. As my eyes adjust to the gloom, I make out a veritable menagerie: little platoons of chicks skitter over the earthen floor; four goats and a tethered calf shelter beneath sleeping platforms rough-hewn from eucalyptus branches. A kitten lies catatonic by the fire, beneath walls decorated with zigzags drawn in charcoal. We sit down on low stools. The father — slender, with a delicate beard — offers us stiff and stodgy barley bread.
“It is taboo for them not to offer us something,” whispers Dawoud in my ear. While the daughters winnow barley in a corner, a little saleswoman appears in the doorway, catching my eye and revealing a single hen’s egg from the folds of her headscarf. I swap it for a jar of honey that I picked up in Lalibela. She scampers off, giggling victoriously.
Beyond, vast arid plains start to coalesce through the haze, rising up into ranks of buttes and mesa-like mountains swathed in mineral colors.
While the men catch up on local gossip, the mother prepares an impromptu coffee ceremony. Beans are roasted on an iron plate, frankincense is burned on an upside-down saucepan lid, and the mud-thick brew is served to those gathered — three cups each, as is the custom. She does all this with a baby goat-skinned to her back, and a small glowering boy with a Mohican haircut clasped to her belly.
“He is afraid of faranjis [foreigners],” says Dawoud, and you can hardly blame him. Like mountain pass and lowland plain, we are worlds apart.
Back on the trail, the clouds have become dark and ragged, and we scurry to beat the weather to Chenek camp: a few ranger huts strewn along a ledge and two shelters positioned on a lobelia-studded slope beside a stream. In the 1980s, this area was a refuge for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front during its uprising against the infamous Derg regime. The rebels had a stronghold at Chenek and hideouts in caves that perforated the mountainsides. Today, however, things are a lot more hospitable. The lodge here is less crap than the one at Gich, if only for the fact that there is a pretty girl inside with a crate of warm Dashen beer.
An unpaved road — the only one to penetrate the national park — runs through Chenek, and the hour of our arrival coincides with a commotion further up the hillside, where a tour agency’s four-wheel drive has become lodged in a ditch.
This road is the most obvious manifestation of the changes being wrought here due to an upsurge in tourism that shows little sign of slowing.
“We are hoping that the growth of visitors doesn’t become a curse,” says Dawoud after we’ve joined in the heave to extricate the jeep. “When I started guiding a decade ago, we would only see a few hundred visitors a year. Today we get up to 200 arriving every day in high season.”
“Isn’t that good for the area?” I ask, thinking of the new hotels I’d seen being flung up in Debark, of plans to resurface the Gonder road, of jobs and tourist dollars.
“Of course it brings in money and employment opportunities, and it gives the government a reason to rehabilitate wildlife and vegetation — investors are starting to realize that this could be one of the big natural attractions of Africa. But the benefits haven’t reached the people who live within the park boundaries.”
Dawoud goes on to explain that the Ali family, whose hospitality we’d enjoyed earlier, are some of more than 3,000 Amhara pastoralists living in these highlands. But their relationship with the surrounding land is an uneasy one. In 1996, soil degradation caused by centuries of overgrazing catapulted the Simien Mountains National Park onto UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites in Danger. Although the conservation picture is improving — a 2010 report found that the local population of Ethiopian wolves has risen fivefold since the mid-1990s — the region’s highlanders remain pegged for resettlement, and may not be here much longer.
She serves the mud-thick brew to those gathered — all this with a baby goat-skinned to her back, and a small glowering boy clasped to her belly
“When I was a child people used to wear beautiful traditional woven clothes, but you don’t see it today. My grandmother used to provide milk for local villages in calabashes. Today you can hear the children asking tourists for plastic bottles to use instead. They end up as litter…” Dawoud tails off ruefully, stricken by the classic development versus culture dilemma.
If the time I spend at Chenek is anything to go by, the Simiens face a battle to keep the hordes away. Beyond boasting more eye-popping views, Chenek is also home to some of the park’s most unabashed gelada herds. Each morning they clamber up onto the escarpment, before gathering in groups of a dozen or so to graze and groom, shuffling around on their backsides and picking through the tussock-grasses that surround the camp.
To say that gelada sightings are guaranteed would be to undersell the reality, which is that I can sit and observe them in close proximity for hours. The monkeys, exhibiting the chutzpah of a species that has evolved in isolation, hardly pay us a second glance.
“They are the only monkeys to eat almost nothing but grass,” says Dawoud as we crouch near a particularly insouciant group that evening with our Dashen beers. The herd before us, he explains, comprises several “harems,” each bossed by a dashingly accoutered alpha male with leonine incisors and rockstar-worthy mane. The troublemaking groups of young males who strut about in smaller posses are bachelor-pretenders, their barks and leaps a “strength display” designed to test the alphas’ resolve.
The Simiens have long been a favorite of the natural history filmmaker’s lens, and these are scenes straight from naturalist David Attenborough’s archives. My experience brings to mind those 10-minute diary segments at the end of nature documentaries: camera crews returning from some inhospitable wilderness with straggly beards and a few seconds of never-before-seen footage in the can. Here, by contrast, the phenomena are playing out before me: the Discovery Channel live, and on-demand.
Some trekkers use Chenek as the base camp for the onward push to scale Ras Dashen, Ethiopia’s highest peak at 15,157 feet. But for once the egocentric drive to bag a summit does not grab me, its lure overridden by the urge to sit and let the images soak in. I spend the last couple days taking shorter walks out and back, skirting the crags that ripple eastwards, and scouring the cliffs for rare glimpses of walia ibex, a mountain goat with extravagant scimitar horns that’s unique to this region, and the last creature on my Simiens checklist.
Indeed, as I prepare to descend the Beanstalk, the ibex is the only member of the cast that has not spoiled me rotten. That is until my final afternoon, when Dawoud comes running into the tukul with some news: “Come and see… the ibex… more than 20 have come right into camp to graze!”
Except by now, of course, I’m not surprised at all.
Author: Michael Hardy
Luca Campigotto counts Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner as one of his greatest aesthetic influences. Look at the Italian-born photographer's images and it's easy to see the impact. His lavishly produced books of nighttime photography like Gotham City contain visions of what the 1982 sci-fi classic might've looked like if it took place in present-day New York instead of the Los Angeles of the future. But a few years ago, while in China working on his latest book, he got the opportunity to photograph a city unlike any he'd ever captured before.
"I met a guy who asked if I wanted to go to Chongqing," Campigotto recalls. "I said, 'What is Chongqing?' He said, 'It’s the biggest city in the world.'"
Officially created in 1997, Chongqing sprawls across 950 square miles of Sichuan Province and has a population of over 30 million people, making it by some measures the world’s most populous city. But it’s also just one of China's 15 or so megacities—urban centers of 10 million or more—that have sprung up, in some cases almost ex nihilo, over the past few decades. They’re the result of one of the biggest human migrations in history wherein hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens are moving from the countryside into cities.
Campigotto documents Chongqing, along with dozens of other locations across China, in his recently published book Iconic China. His reason for choosing China may have been mundane—"I was 54, and I felt guilty that I’d never been"—but the photographs are anything but. Using a large-format digital camera, Campigotto captures stunning images of sites ranging from the glowing Shanghai skyline to claustrophobic Hong Kong apartment towers to Beijing’s futuristic architecture.
To his surprise, Campigotto was never hassled by the police, as he has been in nearly every other country he’s visited. The only time he had a problem was when he tried to shoot from the top-floor observation deck of his Shanghai luxury hotel, which prohibited him from using a tripod.
Campigotto came away from the project with ambivalent views about China. "The cities have incredible architecture and unreal locations," he says. "The thing that disappointed me is that, whenever I travel, whether it’s in the Middle East or South America, I always look for something genuine. In China I didn’t find anything genuine. Everything is brand new, renovated, shiny."
The one exception, ironically enough, was Hong Kong—the original "city of the future" and one of the inspirations for Blade Runner. "It was the newest city 20 or 30 years ago," Campigotto notes. "So now it actually looks a little old."
Discover secrets for a long and satisfied life from nations that know best.
Travelers throughout history searched for a mythical spring with healing waters that promised everlasting life. Although a true Fountain of Youth remains to be found, people today live longer than ever.
Common sense says that the more developed the economy, the better chances it has for longer life expectancy with access to a high level of healthcare. Plus, a healthy diet never hurts. [Read more about the happiest countries in the world.]
The UN relied on longevity around the world as one factor to weigh into rankings of the happiest countries in its latest report. Here are some secrets travelers can learn from the countries where people live the longest.
Treasure Island, which sits between San Francisco and Oakland, is sinking fast, at a rate of a third of an inch a year. - Frank Ramspott/Getty Images
If you move to the San Francisco Bay Area, prepare to pay some of the most exorbitant home prices on the planet. Also, prepare for the fact that someday, your new home could be underwater—and not just financially.
Sea level rise threatens to wipe out swaths of the Bay's densely populated coastlines, and a new study out today in Science Advances paints an even more dire scenario: The coastal land is also sinking, making a rising sea that much more precarious. Considering sea level rise alone, models show that, on the low end, 20 square miles could be inundated by 2100. But factor in subsiding land and that estimate jumps to almost 50 square miles. The high end? 165 square miles lost.
The problem is a geological phenomenon called subsidence. Different kinds of land sink at different rates. Take, for instance, Treasure Island, which resides between San Francisco and Oakland. It’s an artificial island made of landfill, and it’s sinking fast, at a rate of a third of an inch a year. San Francisco Airport is also sinking fast and could see half its runways and taxiways underwater by 2100, according to the new analysis.
Now, subsidence is nothing new to climate scientists. “People have been aware that this is an issue,” says UC Berkeley’s Roland Burgmann, coauthor of the paper. “What was missing was really data that has high enough resolution and accuracy to fully integrate” subsidence in the Bay Area.
To get that data, the researchers took precise measurements of the landscape from lidar-equipped aircraft. They combined this with data from satellites, which fire radar signals at the ground and analyze the return signals to estimate how fast land is moving either toward the spacecraft or away from them.
By comparing data from 2007 to 2011, the team showed that most of the Bay’s coastline is subsiding at a rate of less than 2 millimeters a year. Which may not seem like much, but those millimeters add up, especially considering a study that came out last month suggested sea level rise is accelerating.
"You talk to someone about, Oh the land is going down a millimeter a year, and that can be kind of unimpressive," says the University of Nevada Reno's William Hammond, who studies subsidence but was not involved in the study. "But we know as scientists that these motions, especially if they come from plate tectonics, that they are relentless and they will never stop, at least as long as we're alive on this planet."
Speaking of being alive on this planet: Humans have induced subsidence at an astonishing scale by rapidly depleting aquifers. Take the South Bay, for instance. “Parts of San Jose have been lowered up to 12 feet due to groundwater extraction,” says USGS coastal geologist Patrick Barnard. Fortunately, the extraction policies that led to those losses are kaput. But the same can’t be said for the rest of the planet, in particular for communities that are suffering drought exacerbated by climate change.
“It's not a major concern for the Bay anymore,” Barnard adds, “but it is for in general aquifers worldwide, especially in developing countries where a lot of groundwater is extracted from these large river deltas where millions of people live. They're already extremely vulnerable to sea level rise.”
The developing world is nowhere near ready to deal with subsidence and rising seas, but neither is the developed world. This is a problem that defies human ingenuity. It’s not like the San Francisco Bay Area can build one giant sea wall to insulate itself. And it’s not like low-lying Florida can hike itself up, or New York City can move itself inland a few hundred miles.
“There is no permanent solution to this problem,” says Arizona State University geophysicist Manoochehr Shirzaei, lead author of the paper. “This will impact us one way or another. The forces are immense, it's a very powerful process, the cost of really dealing with it is huge, and it requires long-term planning. I'm not so sure there's a good way to avoid it.”
Save for keeping seas from rising in the first place. That, of course, would require a tremendous global effort to cut back emissions. But even conservative projections suggest future sea level rise could be dramatic. Which means we as a species have to seriously reconsider the idea of a coastal town, or in case of the Bay Area, a sprawling coastal metropolis. Because the sea is coming to swallow us, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
There is a polemical issue in the halls of production at Uma Nota Culture. Is it Brasil with an “s” or Brazil with a “z”?
Essentially, in the English language, Brazil is normally and properly spelt with a “z” and in Portuguese it is spelled with an “s.” Our resident editor and word form stickler Jonathan Rothman insists that since the accepted form in English is with a “z” then we should stick with this. The argument: if people are to take us seriously in press releases and the media etc., then we have to show we can spell.
The more outlandish me thinks this is ridiculous and that language is an living form of expression, and as artists and authors of our own content we have the creative licence to push the accepted conventions in the pursuit of recreating symbolic associations and piqueing the interest of the public. I mean, c’mon, the name of our jam and festival is Uma Nota! I see it as a way of introducing a more worldly forms into the the Anglo camps of cool urban-ness.
But what exactly is the origin of this confusion of Brasil vs Brazi? Well, the name Brasil for the country comes from pau-brasil or brazil wood, which used to be the country’s main resource for export in early colonial times.
OK fine, but what about the spelling? This was due to some historical confusion and a lack of (gulp) accepted form. I remember finding a coin once in Belo Horizonte that dated from the 1870s and the wording was “Brazil.” How could this be? well after some digging I found some info on the about page of the Brasilia municipality:
Above: The bill to the left dates back to 1917. Notice the inscription “Republica dos Estados Unidos” at the top, and the “do Brazil” right under it. However, this other bill to the right, printed in 1921, brings the inscription “Republica dos Estados Unidos do Brasil”. This confusion lasted until 1945, when Brazil and Portugal met and agreed on the first Orthographic Vocabulary of Portuguese Language; such vocabulary defined the form “Brasil.”
And there we have it: the Anglo world kept using Brazil with “z” because, , we suppose, that is what they were used to doing.
The debate among all lovers of Brazilian culture (the infamous “brasilphiles”) continues.
The Rio Carnival 2019 is approaching. Start Planning Your Journey and Reserve Tickets in Advance
The city is truly world famous for its street parades, Carnival balls, and parties everywhere that are held a week before Lent, giving the locale a distinct character and attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors yearly. Every year promises a whole new experience, making the Rio Carnival 2019 one of the most awaited events today.
How It All Began
Tracing its roots back to as early as the 1700s, the Carnival started out as one of the things the Portuguese immigrants brought to the country.
It has always been an excellent healing event, as it has always allowed participants to detach from their worries and just have fun despite the hardships that people were going through. Starting out as a simple event involving friendly street fights to a full blown masquerade ball, and the grand festivity that it is today, the Rio Carnival is not only a fun occasion but is also a showcase of local history.
From being a celebration for the rich, beginning as a masquerade ball hosted by an Italian ambassador’s wife in 1840, it has developed into a community event, as evidenced by blocos, or smaller and more localized celebrations.
The Sounds of Samba!
Like in the past celebrations, the Rio Carnival 2019 is also an excellent opportunity to dance to the tune of the samba.
The Samba is a famous Brazilian dance that is an integral part of the Carnival. If you’re in Rio for the celebrations, do visit the Sambadrome as it will provide the most excellent exposure to Rio culture. By doing this, you can witness different samba schools compete for the highly revered Champion of Champions.
Dates for Rio Carnival 2019
They will be showcasing their talents for five nights during the festival, providing an awe-inspiring sight for spectators. Aside from a show at the Sambadrome, samba schools contribute excitement and fun to the Carnival.
Not only will they provide show stopping dance numbers, but they will also portray a specific theme which they will interpret through dance and production.
The schools will not only choreograph a routine, but they will also compose a song, make a float, create costumes, and do parades out in the streets. They basically create entire shows, making them some of the most important elements of the Carnival.
What to Expect When Attending the Carnival Week
There will be tons of exciting events during the Rio Carnival 2019 so be ready to rearrange your schedule to fit everything in. To get the most out of the occasion, it would be best to come prepared and know what to expect to see and enjoy while in the city. There will definitely be something that will suit everyone’s taste, preferences, and interests.
The Carnival kicks off, however, with the crowning of King Momo. This will usher in a great party, where rules are disregarded. The Sambadrome events will immediately commence and showcase performances by adults and children alike. The best schools will be awarded during Ash Wednesday and will perform once again the following Saturday. As most festivities go, the Rio Carnival 2019 will definitely be composed of a lot of dancing.
Carnival balls will be held in various parts of the city, in different hotels and locations. The most prestigious, however, is the Magic Ball at the Copacabana palace Hotel and the Scala Balls. The Scala Balls come in various forms, with the Red and Black and the Gay Balls being the most popular.
The Magic Ball is more for the rich and famous, being the most expensive of all the events in the city during the Carnival week. Street parties are also among the top events enjoyed during the Carnival.
The city will be in full blown party mode during this time of the year, so it is easily expected to have parties at almost every street corner. These small festivities are organized by blocos and samba groups mainly, which involves a lot of dancing, parades, and fun.
Be a Part of the Carnival
Also dubbed as the “biggest party in the planet”, the Carnival is a well attended affair. It attracts millions of tourists from every part of the globe. Everyone who wants to take part of Rio’s rich culture and heritage choose this specific time of the year to soak up on local traditions, history, and customs. If you want to take part in the Carnival, planning in advance would be your best ally.
Booking tickets and hotel rooms as early as now for the Rio Carnival 2019 will help you get ahead from the droves of tourists who will be flocking the city for the celebration. Come armed with a taste for fun, open-mindedness, and enthusiasm for something new and exciting, and you’ll surely enjoy Rio’s annual Carnival.
By Viktoria Baranyai MyExpatWorld.com
Most of us don’t want to know how long we will live. However, there are some countries where most of us would like the answer to that question. This list is based on data provided by the World Economic Forum. Out of 137 nations included in the study, the top 10 countries with the highest life expectancy are all in Asia or Europe. Those in the bottom 10 (not mentioned here) are all in Africa.
1. Hong Kong SAR – 84.3 years
2. Japan – 83.8 years
3. Italy – 83.5 years
4. Spain – 83.4 years
5. Switzerland – 83.2 years
6. Iceland – 82.9 years
7. France – 82.7 years
8. Singapore – 82.6 years
9. Sweden – 82.6 years
10. Australia – 82.5 years
No need to move if you don’t happen to live in one of these countries. There are plenty of good tips here that we can incorporate in our daily lives no matter where we live.
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Here are some facts you probably didn’t know about Valletta, Europe’s capital of culture for 2018.
Some of you may think the idea of camping during the winter is insane. Surely only a glutton for punishment or a hardcore outdoors lover would dream up such a crazy scheme. You love the outdoors, but your camping is only going to happen in the summer.
The truth is, winter camping can actually be quite refreshing.
If you are looking for some solitude and snow, a winter camping trip is the perfect getaway. Instead of flocking to the beach to find rest and relaxation, try bundling up and heading north.
However, before you begin your excursion it is important to understand the specific types of shelter, food, and clothing needed to prepare yourself for the adventure ahead. The worst thing you can do is wander into the frigid wilderness unprepared. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Here’s what you need to know before your next winter camping trip.
Having a suitable base camp to return to after a long day of hiking is essential for your safety and comfort during the trip. Your tent must be sturdy and able to protect you from elements like wind, ice, and cold nights.
Can you imagine having your tent ripped off you in subzero weather at 2:00 AM? It’s like something out of The Revenant. The right shelter is crucial.
Three-Season Tents will work for a trip in a mild climate that has stable weather patterns. If you’re heading to places like Colorado or Utah, a three season tent will be the perfect shelter. When using this tent, ensure that you situate your camp in a sheltered area to minimize wind exposure. For extra protection against ice storms, bring a tarp to cover your tent in inclement weather.
And remember the first rule of winter camping: The moment you say, “Surely there won’t be any ice storms,” you’re going to find yourself buried in block of ice.
Four season tents are invaluable when heading to harsher climates. These tents are made with a heavy-duty double walled canvas material and are available in a circle or square shape. Four season tents sometimes have a space for a for a stove to keep your shelter warm. Four season tents are more expensive , but are a good investment for serious hikers and hunters.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, building a snow shelter is your warmest option. The simplest structure to build is a quinzee–also known as an igloo!
A few guidelines for building a quinzee that would make even the most rugged outdoorsman proud. Katie Roberts recommends:
After taking a lunch break, head inside to smooth the inside walls and get situated. Perhaps consider adding some decorations, such as a few throw rugs, some antique furniture, and a television. Just kidding.
Your sleeping bag is an essential part the shelter needed for your trip. Your sleeping bag will act as an extra layer of protection from the cold while in your shelter. Bags are available in the traditional rectangle sharp and “mummy” shapes.
Mummy bags are available in longer lengths, giving you an extra storage space at the bottom of your bag. Mummy bags also offer superior insulation because of the distinct shape. The top is wider than the bottom, wrapping you tightly in a “mummy” position.
Most winter bags are rated for cold temperatures. Choose the rating of your bag depending on the climate you are exploring.
The final layer of protection is a sleeping pad. Sleeping pads are inserted into your sleeping bag and act as extra insulation for your body. Plus, they keep your body from pressing against the hard ground all night, which is a bonus the more old and rickety your become.
These pads are usually inflatable, designed to make packing a breeze. Typically, the best sleeping pad options include a foam and air core. So essentially it’s like you’re sleeping on a Nike Air shoe. Sort of.
Durable shelters protect you physically, but also act as a place of comfort after a testing day. Preparing your shelter, from the tent to your physical core warmth is important for your safety during your trip. Remember, after a day of hiking, you’re going to be cold and exhausted. You want a place to come back and warm up. If you skimp on the shelter you’re going to regret it down the road.
Once you have secured your shelter, ensure that you have the appropriate clothing for your excursion. Like your shelter, the key to winter camping clothing is layering. You will need layers like long underwear, core warmers, and insulating jackets. It’s always better to overdress for your climate than be unprepared for unexpected cold. If necessary you can strip layers off.
Dry wicking socks will assist in protecting your feet from the sweat produced that can create discomfort. Many seasoned hikers suggest layering your socks. However, if the layering makes your boots too tight do not use this tip.
If your boots become too tight, layering your socks works against you by cutting off circulation – you need blood flowing to your feet to keep them warm.
The most important layer to consider is your boots. Light hiking boots will not work on a winter excursion. Those Uggs your mom bought you for Christmas? Leave them home. Winter boots need to be waterproof and insulating.
Crampons are a tool that attach to your boots to offer stronger traction. Many crampon options are available for moderate to extreme terrain. Be sure to ask an expert which style suits your trek the best. Crampons are especially important if you’re going to be hiking over ice.
Snowshoes and Skis are used when trekking through snow deeper than one foot. They assist you in staying on the surface and allow you to maneuver through both soft and hard packed snow. Trying to hike mile after mile through knee deep snow will exhaust you in a matter of moments.
The human body burns more calories when it’s cold, simply to keep warm. According to Princeton University, a person on a winter backpacking trip needs 4,500 to 5,000 calories a day.
This means that your diet for the trip must include high levels of carbs, fats, and protein throughout the day to keep your body fueled. Luckily, it is much easier to pack perishable foods during winter trips because the outdoors is your refridgerator! This allows you to bring things like meat, cheese, and butter– foods that will work to keep your body fueled.
This is also your excuse to double down on all those foods you normally don’t eat. Consider your entire trip one long cheat day on your diet!
For breakfast, double down on protein. Try spreading peanut butter on an english muffin for a quick and easy meal. Also, enjoy your cup of coffee to start the day off warm.
Lunch should include more protein and carbs. Because you can pack meat, it’s easy to make a sandwich with lunchmeat and cheese to refuel.
Dinner should balance protein, carbs, and fats to keep you warm overnight. Try cooking some chicken and rice smothered in butter.
Snacks are easy for winter trips. Bring along things like nuts, almonds, cheese sticks, and chocolate filled gorp (your chocolate won’t melt).
Also, anything you cook with a stove in the cold will use three times the fuel it would during the summer.
Finally, the most important part of your diet on the trip is water. Because your body is burning so many calories, you dehydrate faster. It is easy to forget to drink water when you’re cold, but you must be consciously drinking throughout the day. Drinks like hot cocoa and tea should only boost your calories.
Tips for Trekking
Many other factors, including navigation and downtime, play into the safety and success of your trip. In addition to your three basics needs, mind these factors while you prepare:
Where Should I Go?
With so many beautiful locations for a winter camping trip, it’s hard to decide where to explore! Start by visiting these 5 beautiful parks in the United States:
Winter camping isn’t just for extremists. As long as you know what you’re doing, and don’t do something stupid like hike in only a t-shirt for hours on end, you can thoroughly enjoy your trip.
During your trip, ensure the fulfillment of your three basic needs: food, clothing, and shelter. Before embarking on your journey, ensure that you have the proper supplies to meet you needs. By taking care of these essentials, you will free yourself to enjoy the world you are exploring and have a successful winter camping trip.
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