The Towering Jabal Sawda in Saudi Arabia

If you love outdoor adventures and are heading to Saudi Arabia, make time to ascend Jabal Sawda, a well-known mountain that offers much to experience.

Image credit-Wikimedia,CC0

Where Is It?

This mountain can be found in the Asir province and is part of the Sarawat Mountain Range overlooking a section of the Red Sea coast. Those planning a visit will find it only around 20 km from the city of Abha; accommodation options here include serviced apartments at properties like Citadines Abha which makes an ideal base for your travels.

 Towering to The Skies

This mountain is known to reach an impressive height of over 3,000 metres providing stunning views of the surrounding areas. While certain sources claim it’s the highest mountain in Saudi Arabia, there is some dispute over this with others stating that the title should go to Jabal Ferwa. Either way, you should not miss visiting Jabal Sawda!

The Idyllic Setting

Those who head here can expect a mesmerising setting with juniper trees and other flora creating a lush landscape. Added to this, are the cool climate and refreshing breezes that make it a popular place for locals looking to escape the heat. Right at the top, clouds shroud the peak adding to the sense of enchantment.

Things To Do

Apart from unwinding here amidst the spellbinding natural beauty, you can engage in some captivating things to do as well. Hiking is a popular pastime to enjoy with both easy and challenging paths on offer. It’s also a great spot for having picnics, while shutterbugs will have plenty to photograph at some breathtaking vantage points.

Why Kandy is Sri Lanka’s Cultural Capital

A popular day-trip destination for all, Kandy is not only home to the Temple of the Tooth but some of Sri Lanka’s top cultural highlights. Here’s why this hill station is deemed the cultural heart of the island.

Ceylon_tea
Charles R. Benedict, Ceylon tea, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Temple of the Tooth

The main reason why Kandy is dubbed the cultural epicentre of Sri Lanka is that it is where the Temple of the Tooth is located. The sacred dental remains of Lord Buddha are contained within this iconic shrine, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site decades ago.

Historic Kandy Lake

Although most visitors know that enjoying a boat ride on Kandy Lake is one of the top things to do in Kandy, few are aware of the legacy of this manmade body of water. Having been the execution site for many Sri Lankan nobles during British colonial rule, Kandy Lake is most infamously connected with the beheading of local hero Madduma Bandara and his family.

Tea Country

Whether you are based at the Hunas Falls Hotel Kandy or any other rest, a tour of the tea estates and factories surrounding the city will illustrate how it is a prime tea-producing region in Sri Lanka. World-famous Ceylon Tea is linked with the plantations and colonial-era tea factories that still function today and form a part of the hillside’s tea country.

 Kandyan Dance and Drumming Heritage

As a dance tradition that differs significantly from the island’s southern dance school, Kandyan dance and drumming techniques date back centuries and have been preserved by local artists.

 

A Solo Traveller’s Guide to Exploring Horton Plains

 

Horton Plains, one of the national parks in Sri Lanka, is an example of Sri Lanka’s unspoiled natural beauty. It is also one of the best places to visit in Nuwara Eliya. With thriving wildlife and milder climate conditions, the place offers a respite from the typical harsh weather conditions of the country.

What you need to know

You need to carry plenty of water with you as there aren’t any shops here. You cannot really bring plastic bags with you, and make sure you don’t litter. Also, if you are planning to visit in the afternoon, wear sunscreen.

Accommodation

There are plenty of hotels near Hotel Plains; all you have to do is take your time and find one that suits your budget. It’s best to choose a hotel like Araliya Green Hills, as Horton Plains is part of the experiences on offer.

Baker’s Falls  

You have to hike through uneven terrain to get here, but it’ll be worth it. Baker’s Falls is one of the principal attractions here. Named after Sir Samuel Baker, a British explorer, the waterfall has a height of 20 metres.

World’s End

World's End
World’s End | Image via wiki media commons

For scenic panoramic vistas, visit the World’s End. The journey is fairly easy, with frequent wildlife encounters. World’s End is a steep cliff that’s considered one of the best lookouts in the country. The views you get here stretch across two provinces.

Camping

To camp in Horton Plains, all you need is basic camping gear; however, as you are alone, you should consult a tour guide to ensure that you don’t do anything you are not supposed to. You can also get in touch with a tour operator.

What You Need to Know About the Sacred City of Kandy

Popularly known as the city of Senkadagalapura, the sacred city of Kandy was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. Drawing tourists, pilgrims and other visitors in numbers, this city radiates a celestial atmosphere which makes it stand out among other cities in Sri Lanka.

 The Positioning

1024px-Knuckles_Forest,_Sri_lanka
Abishek Palraj, Knuckles Forest, Sri lanka, CC BY-SA 4.0

Kandy is located in the central part of the country, with an elevation of 500 metres from sea level. Hidden in the thick forests and majestic mountain ranges, the city stands in pride in all its glory. These mountain ranges include two of Sri Lanka’s most beloved hiking hot spots, Knuckles and Hanthana. Kandy’s location and historical significance have been core reasons for opening up many hotels and resorts like Hunas Falls Hotel, Kandy. Most tourists and pilgrims who visit this sacred city often seek accommodation in a hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka for a comfortable stay as a day’s trip will not do justice to the beauty of the city.

The History

Kandy was the last capital of the country in the era of the ancient kings. It is also home to the Sri Dalada Maligawa, also known as the Temple of the Tooth which shelters the relic of the tooth of Lord Buddha. Although the locals rebelled massively to save the kingdom of Kandy from British rule, the efforts were finally beaten as the British Ceylon period rose from 1815 to 1948, until the country was freed of colonial rule and gained independence.

Climate

While Sri Lanka is widely known for its tropical weather conditions, Kandy’s geographical positioning deviates the city climate to a wetter and cooler temperature as a result of its 500-metre elevation from sea level. However, the city is still a part of the country’s tropical climate and faces the monsoon seasons from May to July and October to December.

The Kandy City

The cityscape of Kandy includes a quadrangular manmade lake at its centre, with two open spaces in which one corner is occupied by the administration buildings of the old capital. Although not as commercialised as Colombo, Kandy still welcomes tourists and hosts several hotels, shopping complexes and local eateries to taste the traditional flavours of Sri Lanka.

A day trip to Magnetic Island

If you’re in Queensland Australia, Magnetic Island is surely not to be missed. The fascinating history and the lively vibe of this island attract so many visitors who look for a change of scene during their visit to Townsville. Here are some things you should know when you’re getting here.

Getting to Townsville

It is fairly easy to get to Townsville either by driving or by coach. You can also get there by Greyhound or Premier Bus. Once you get there, you can pick up your boat tickets to Magnetic Island. If you get here early, you can book a hotel or Townsville Australia suites such as the likes of Oaks Townsville Gateway Suites and return to Townsville after your activities in Magnetic Island.

Getting to Magnetic Island from Townsville

Get on the earlies ferry possible so that you have the entire day to enjoy. It is wise to board the ferry 20 minutes before departure too. Your tickets will cost you a pretty penny, but it is so worth it! Make sure you book your return ferry tickets and bus passes all at once; it may seem like a chunk of cash, but it is better to purchase all of it at once.

Snorkeling

Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef | Image by Great Barrier Reef Encounter via Wikimedia Commons,CC BY-SA 3.0

Now that you’re here at Magnetic Island, there are plenty of things for you to do. At the top of this list is snorkeling at Nelly Bay and Geoffrey Bay. Aside from the gorgeous viewpoints and invigorating hikes, Magnetic island is one of the best places in Australia to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef.

The Forts Walk

This excursion captures the essence of Magnetic Island all into one; koala bears, World War II history and the beautiful lookouts. You will get a thorough education about the importance of the Magnetic Battery in the 1940s and the significance of the island during the war with sweeping views and adorable koala sightings.

Horseshoe Bay

For a refreshing and much-needed lunch break, drop by Horseshoe Bay. This is the quintessential beach town with amazing food and the friendliest locals. You can have a nice meal, make a few new friends, relax and rest up and if you’re too hot you can even take a dip in the beach. There are safe-to-swim areas in this town with stinger nets.

Visit the Blackcomb Peak

Have you ever thought of going snowboarding or skiing? Or have you already tried it out and can’t get enough of it? Either way, the best place to snowboard or ski is none other than Whistler in Canada. Here’s what to expect once you are here.

Whistler Blackcomb

This little snow destination is located in between 2 enormous mountains, one being Whistler and the other being Blackcomb. Of this area between the mountains, 8171 acres is safe skiable topography.

Creekside Village

This is the first place you should be visiting if you are staying at a Whistler hotel. Take the Creekside Gondola to the top of Whistler Mountain where you can begin your snowboarding or ski session towards Blackcomb.

Whistler Village

Skiing in whistler village|Image by Marc van der Chijs via Flickr

If you are looking for a more wholesome experience, this little village is perfect. When it comes to your skiing needs, you can hop on one of the two gondolas at the edge of Blackcomb and go right up to Whistler for a session.

Upper Village

Not far from Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside Whistler is Upper Village where the new gondola to Rendezvous Lodge is available. From here you will be able to access a number of ski spots including the 7th Heave Express lift.

Why You Should Visit Kandy

Once the royal seat of the last kingdom of Sri Lanka, Kandy is a city perched on a plateau at the top of Sri Lanka’s central highlands. There are many reasons as to why you should be visiting Kandy. Here are our top 4.

It’s Perfect for Nature Lovers
The small city is surrounded by emerald mountains and plenty of forest land, estates and the famed Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens. Everywhere you look, even out of the balcony of the best hotel in Kandy there is plenty of nature to adore.

It’s Home to Cultural Treasures
Kandy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important Buddhist landmark site as the resting place of the tooth relic of Buddha which is housed in the Temple of the Tooth at the royal palace in the city centre. It’s a quick drive from mountainside hotels like Hotel Topaz.

It’s a Classic Movie Location
Kandy was famously the location for movies such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Cheng Gong, The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli and Baloo and Thai Flower among others.

It’s Where You Can Find a Good Cuppa
You can also find plenty of tea estates with cafés that will serve you the most delicious cup of steaming hot Ceylon Black tea.

 

The Enchanting Sinharaja Rainforest in Sri Lanka

Featuring a rich biodiversity, the Sinharaja Rainforest is a true natural treasure home to a wealth of endemic flora and fauna. Both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve the forest offers much to discover.

Sinharaja Rainforest
Sinharaja Rainforest | Image Credit : Dan Lundberg, 20160128 Sri Lanka 4087 Sinharaja Forest Reserve sRGB (25674506291), CC BY-SA 2.0

Getting There

Due to its vast size, Sinharaja can be reached from different directions; the Veddagala – Kudawa route passing Ratnapura en route to Kudawa is generally the most widely used. Another option is the Morningside Route also from Ratnapura or via Deniyaya. For convenience, it always helps to stay at a Sinharaja eco lodge in Sri Lanka, ideally by the fringes of the reserve.

Birdlife

The Sinharaja Rainforest is home to around 147 bird species, including 21endemic species; these include the Ceylon Wood Pigeon, Brown-capped Babbler and the Sri Lankan Junglefowl which are amongst the species you may see on birdwatching excursions offered by eco-friendly properties such as The Rainforest Ecolodge. Not to be missed is the chance to witness the ‘Mixed Species Feeding Bird Flocks’ featuring various bird species.

Other Wildlife

Eight endemic species of mammals have been recorded here including the torque macaque and the giant squirrel. Sinharaja also has a high number of butterfly species as well as amphibians and reptiles such as the Green Pit Viper.

Tree and Plant Life

Made up of tropical wet evergreen forest or tropical lowland rainforest, Sinharaja is a rich storehouse for plant and tree species; in fact, more than 60% of trees found here are endemic. Amongst the flora are many medicinal plants too, used in traditional medicine.

Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe. Google+