Mount Fuji And More Designated As UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Midori, Wikimedia Commons

On Saturday, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee announced this year’s newly inscribed locations to their list of World Heritage Sites from their 37th session in Cambodia. Each year, the UN agency evaluates the most culturally and naturally significant sites that have been proposed to them from countries around the world. Then, they elect the most outstanding to be put on their renowned list.

This year sees Japan‘s iconic Mount Fuji added to the list after previous nomination attempts were rejected due to garbage disposal problems on the summit as well as a perceived lack of uniqueness of the mountain. Japan successfully lobbied for the stratovolcano to be included this year due to the incredibly prominent role it has played in Japanese history, religion and art. One of the most famous Japanese works of art, “The Great Wave,” features the beautifully shaped mountain in the background. The woodblock print even comes from a series named “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.” Today, Fuji-san has come to represent Japan as a whole.Also added to the World Heritage List this year was China‘s gorgeous Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, which have been continuously cultivated for over 1,300 years. Located in Southern Yunnan, the rice terraces cover more than 64 square miles of farmland, where many of the locals still live a very traditional life, living in thatched huts and small villages.

The nations of Qatar and Fiji received their first ever World Heritage Site inscriptions this year. Al Zubarah, a walled fort town in Qatar, was a successful trade post before it was abandoned at the turn of the 20th century. In the years since, much of the site has been covered in sand blown in from the desert, helping to preserve it. Fiji’s Levuka Historical Port Town has been inscribed after more than 25 years of lobbying by their government. The port town was Fiji’s first colonial capital and received strong architectural influences from both it’s British colonial rulers as well as from its own indigenous culture.

In total this year, 19 sites were added to the World Heritage List, from countries in almost every corner of the globe, with the possibility of even more to be announced before the session ends on June 27. Sites that have been given designation by UNESCO receive increased protection under international law, funds for further preservation as well as greater public awareness and tourism. There are presently 962 World Heritage Sites in 157 countries. Other sites include Yellowstone National Park, the Pyramids of Giza, Uluru in Australia and the Darjeeling Railway in India.

UNESCO Considering Adding Great Barrier Reef To List Of Endangered Sites

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia
Richard Ling via WikiMedia

This past Sunday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) kicked off its annual conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Over the next ten days, the 1300 delegates in attendance will discuss which new locations from around the globe deserve possible inclusion on its exclusive list of World Heritage Sites. Some of the candidates include Japan’s Mt. Fuji, the Namib Desert in southern Africa and a series of wooden Orthodox churches located in the Carpathian mountains of Poland and the Ukraine.

Attendees at the conference will also consider adding the Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Australia, to its list of endangered places. The organization routinely reviews the World Heritage Sites and will sometimes call attention to those that it sees as being under threat. This is done in an effort to raise awareness of the possible issues facing those place in the hopes that something will be done to preserve the site before it suffer irreparable damage. Studies have shown that tropical storms, climate change and increased shipping traffic have all had an impact on the health of the reef, bring its future into question. UNESCO is hoping that their discussion of those threats will send a message to Australians that they need to take action to preserve this amazing place.Having visited the GBR myself a few years back, I can tell you that it lives up to is reputation as a spectacular ocean setting. It is amongst the most beautiful places that I have ever seen and the snorkeling and scuba diving there are second to none. During my time there, it was clear that Australians understood that it is a very special place and that they are taking steps to ensure that it stays protected, healthy and vibrant for future generations to enjoy as well. That was something that was underscored in the recent “Reef Live” event, which took place in celebration of World Oceans Day. During that event, thousands of people from around the globe were able to catch a glimpse of the reef through a live tour that was broadcast over the Internet.

Immediately following “Reef Live,” Qantas Airlines announced discounted airfares to Queensland, making it more affordable than ever to head Down Under. Additionally, About Australia is offering some excellent discounted adventure travel package for those looking to visit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef region. For instance, they are currently offering a seven-day/five-night package that includes airfare from Lost Angles and accommodations at the Pacific International Hotel for just $2145/person. Amongst the included activities are a cruise on the GBR, snorkeling tours, a visit to the nearby rainforest and much more. They even have some great opportunities for scuba divers too. These discounted tours are available for travel in November of this year and February of next. Booking must be made by June 24 to take advantage of these savings.

This is an opportunity to visit one of the most spectacular places on the planet at an unbelievable savings. The Great Barrier Reef is a destination that all travelers should have on their list with the understanding that travel there is handled safely and sustainably so as to protect this fragile, yet incredibly beautiful ecosystem.

Photo Of The Day: Morning Landscapes Of Hampi, India

The sun rises over boulders, the Tungabhadra River and the ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire’s former capital to make a gorgeous golden landscape in today’s Photo Of The Day, taken by Arun Bhat. Located in southwest India, this tide of rocks and history are a part of the Hampi World Heritage Site. At its height, the ancient capital was the largest city in the world. Now, it’s home to countless temples and historical sites in a beautiful state of decay.

Be sure to submit your own photos for a chance at our Photo Of The Day. You can do so in two ways, submit it via our Gadling Flickr Pool, like Arun did, or mention @GadlingTravel and tag your photos with #gadling on Instagram.

[Photo credit: Flickr user arunchs]

The Kimchi-ite: Jeju Island, An Escape From The Metropolis

In many corners of the world, winter offers nothing but a biting cold that demands we stay indoors until the flowers start to bloom. But with spring stretching its legs, it’s time we start to do the same. The best way to mentally prepare for spring and summer is to reminisce about trips from the past and to plan a new travel adventure built around shorts and sandals.


Here in Korea, Jeju Island is one of the first places that come to mind when seeking warm weather travel. A popular honeymoon destination, Jeju Island is a small, volcanic isle just south of the Korean peninsula, famed within Korea for its beaches, seafood, unique mountains and tangerines. It’ll be hard to miss the tangerines; they are sold everywhere on the island and are in anything that you’d consider edible.

A sparsely populated, laid-back island, Jeju is the perfect escape from the Seoul megapolis.

Its craggy, volcanic coast is not lined with unlimited sandy beaches like some tropical islands; however, the beaches that it does have are what I consider to be perfect, with large areas of warm, shallow, postcard-worthy, blue water.

Hyeopjae Beach, a gorgeous beach that many Koreans can’t believe is in their own country.

My favorite beach is Hyeopjae (pronounced Hyup-jay). It is far from a well-kept secret but thankfully not quite the “must-do” like Haeundae Beach back on the mainland. The view of the island mountain just across the water is a sight to behold. When I would show my Korean friends back in Seoul photos from the beach, they had a hard time believing that this was in their own country.

Seongsan, a beautifully unique rock of a mountain, known for its sunrise views.

Seongsan Ilchulbong
is a bizarre looking dormant volcano that juts out of a flat landscape, seemingly placed there by accident. It’s a great place to catch the sunrise, lending to its other name, “Sunrise Peak.”

Formed by the now dormant volcano, Hallasan, Jeju is a smattering of volcanic rock.

The most well known of all points of interest, however, is Hallsan, South Korea’s tallest mountain and one of the islands three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s an odd looking mountain that in some ways is actually the entire island itself. Hallasan is an extremely popular hiking spot offering some very accessible trails for beginning hikers.

Fishing is a part of everyday life on Jeju and raw fish is a common part of most meals.

Going hand in hand with fishing, boats can be seen at all times when near the water.

The beautiful Manjanggul Lava-tube is great for a summer day, with temperatures inside dropping to the 50s.

Manjanggul Lava-tube is one of the largest in the world and with Hallasan now dormant as a volcano, it serves as an impressive cave system. Upon first descending down into the tube system, the temperature instantly drops down more than 20 degrees, a welcome bit of natural air conditioning. Beautiful rock formations, rare animal species and awe-inspiring preservation contribute to it, too, being listed as a World Heritage Site.

The sunsets on Jeju, one of the quietest, most laid-back places in Korea.

Jeju Island is the perfect weekend getaway from the city’s mess of towers and people. It is just a short one-hour flight away from Seoul and during the right time, tickets can be in the $200 range. It’s a great place to hop on a bus and get off when something out the window looks interesting. The island doesn’t have a wealth of things to do or see, but sometimes that is the point.

To see more posts on the life, culture, food and excitement of South Korea from “The Kimchi-ite” click here!

[All photos by Jonathan Kramer]

10 Must-Visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Australia


great barrier reef


While Australia is culturally rich and history significant in general, one worthwhile way to explore the best the country has to offer is through its UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These sites are particularly noteworthy in terms of culture and physical significance, and are often beautiful, as well. If you’re planning a trip to Australia, here are 10 must-see UNESCO World Heritage Sites to add to your itinerary.




Great Barrier Reef
Off the east coast of Queensland

Probably the most famous of all Australia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this area contains the largest collection of coral reefs and the greatest biodiversity of all the World Heritage Sites. The are is home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusk. Within the Great Barrier Reef, you’ll find 2,500 unique reefs and over 900 islands. Some species of animals in the area that scientists are particularly interested in include the dugong (sea cow) and the large green sea turtle, which could soon become extinct.


kakadu national park


Kakadu National Park
Northern Territory

A unique example of complex ecosystems, Kakadu National Park includes tidal flats, floodplains, lowlands and plateaux and habitats for rare and endemic species. Because of this, Kakadu is one of the world’s richest wildlife parks. Moreover, rock carvings, cave paintings and archeological sites provide information about the area’s 40,000+ years of inhabitants, from pre-historic hunter-gatherers as well as the aboriginal people still living there today.


shark bay


Shark Bay
Western Australia

Located at the most western part of Australia, Shark Bay has three noteworthy features: its sea-grass beds, which are the largest and richest in the world, its large dugong population of about 11,000 and its stromatolites, which are colonies of algae that create hard deposits and are among the most ancient organisms on the planet. Additionally, Shark Bay is home to five species of endangered mammals, including the boodie, rufous hare-wallaby, banded hare-wallaby, the Shark Bay mouse and the western barred bandicoot.


australian convict sites


Australian Convict Sites
Various areas

Although thousands of penal facilities were constructed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by the British Empire in Australia, this UNESCO World Heritage listing contains 11 of them. These include:

  • Old Government House and Domain (Parramatta)
  • Hyde Park Barracks (Sydney)
  • Cockatoo Island Convict Site (Sydney)
  • Old Great North Road (near Wiseman’s Ferry)
  • Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area (Norfolk Island)
  • Port Arthur History Site (Pictured, Tasman Peninsula)
  • Cascades Female Factory (Hobart)
  • Darlington Probation Station (Maria Island)
  • Coal Mines Historic Site (via Premadeyna)
  • Brickendon-Woolmers Estates (near Longford)
  • Fremantle Prison (Western Australia)

Between 1787 and 1868, about 166,000 people were sent to Australian convict colonies by Britain. Each institution had its own purpose, although all implemented forced labor to help build the colony. The facilities listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites represent the “best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts.”


fraser island


Fraser Island

At about 76 miles long and 15 miles wide, Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. Half the planet’s perched freshwater dune lakes are found here, as well as rainforests, wallum peat swamps, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove jungle, sand dunes and uncultivated coastline. The island is also home to one of the world’s weirdest beaches at Lake McKenzie, where the fine white silica sand is so pure, you can brush your teeth and clean your jewelry with it.


greater blue mountains area


Greater Blue Mountains Area
New South Wales

The Greater Blue Mountains area is made up of eight protected areas, and is mainly praised for its ability to clearly show how the eucalypts in post-Gondwana isolation has changed and adapted over time. Furthermore, the region significantly represents the biodiversity of Australia, as 10% of the vascular fauna as well as many rare, threatened and endemic species live here. Visitors will find the Jenolan Caves Karst Conservation Reserve here, as well as seven national parks, including the Blue Mountains, Kanangra-Boyd, Gardens of Stone, Thirlmere Lakes, Wollemi, Yengo and Nattai.


sydney opera house


Sydney Opera House
Sydney

An iconic symbol of Sydney, Australia, this unique piece of architecture brings together various forms of creativity and innovative. By showing a radically new way of building, the structure has greatly influenced archeciture and design. Furthermore, the opera house serves it’s function of providing a world-class performing arts space, while also responding to its environment and being accessible to the community as a major cultural center.


bungle bungle


Purnululu National Park
Western Australia

Purnululu National Park covers almost 240,000 hectares of remote land. The most prominent feature of the Purnululu National Park is the Bungle Bungle Range, a deeply dissected range made of Devonian-age quartz sandstone which has eroded over the past 20 million years to form the beehive-shaped cones shown above. Not only are they bizarre looking, the process by which they came to be involved the interacting of biological, geological, erosional and climatic phenomena. What’s really unique about these formations is they change in appearance depending on the weather, sun position and season.


lord howe islands


Lord Howe Island Group
New South Wales

Created by volcanic activity more than 6,562 feet under the sea, these islands feature unique topography and a wealth of endemic species. Some of these include the flightless Lord Howe Woodhen, which was once thought to be one of the rarest birds on the planet, and the Lord Howe Island Phasmid, the world’s largest wood insect which was once thought to be extinct. In terms of landscape, sheer mountain slopes, lagoons, a broad arc of hills and remnants of a shield volcano and caldera can be seen. Moreover, this is where visitors will find the world’s most southerly true coral reef.


royal exhibition building


Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens
Melbourne

The original purpose of the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens was for the international exhibitions of 1880 and 1888. Designed by Joseph Reed and constructed from timber, steel, slate and brick, the structure features elements from the Byzantine, Romanesque, Lombardic and Italian Renaissance styles. The venue reflects “the global influence of the international exhibition movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries.”