Mount Kilimanjaro Defeats Jordanian Princess

It looks like money and privilege can’t buy everything.

Princess Sarah Princess Sara bint Al Faisal of Jordan, niece of King Abdullah II, failed to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the Tanzania Daily News reports.

The 18-year-old princess tried to scale the famous mountain last weekend with a large entourage of assistants and Jordanian international students. She reached the Kibo point at 4,700 meters (15,420 feet) but developed altitude sickness. Doctors climbing with her advised her to descend instead of attempting to reach the mountain’s highest summit, Uhuru point at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet).

Symptoms of altitude sickness include headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, rapid pulse and more. For full coverage see this PDF document. To prevent altitude sickness, it’s best to ascend in stages, staying overnight at an intermediate altitude to give the body time to adapt. The only cure of altitude sickness is to descend to a lower altitude, which should be done immediately.

It’s difficult to predict who will get altitude sickness. When I climbed to similar elevations in the Himalayas the only symptom I noticed was a need for more breaks. On the other hand, a couple of other trekkers who looked far more fit than I was got very sick and had to descend.

The princess hoped to get a certificate of achievement for scaling the mountain. Only three of her party made it to Uhuru Point and got the certificate. She said that she enjoyed her trip to Tanzania and would try to climb the mountain again.

[Photo courtesy Muhammad Mahdi Karim]

Castle Drogo, England, Opens To Public

The last castle to be built in England is opening to the pubic, BBC reports.

Castle Drogo is more of a stately home than a castle, since it was built long after artillery made castles obsolete. It was started in 1910 by Julius Drewe, founder of the Home and Colonial Stores, near Exeter in Devon. World War I and the Depression slowed down construction and it wasn’t completed until 1930. The architecture shows a variety of styles, with a faux medieval granite facade on the exterior. Inside there’s a library in the Norman style, a drawing room in the Georgian style, and many Victorian touches.

Now owned by the National Trust, the castle is undergoing an £11 million ($16.4 million) refurbishment to repair structural faults. The original design was flawed and allowed water to seep in, a problem that started even before the castle was finished. Now the building is seriously threatened by leakage and specialists are busy preserving the castle for future generations.

Visitors will be able to see the work in progress and also visit many of the historic rooms still in their original condition to get an insight into life in an English stately home. Tour guides point out odd little details such as marks on the floor that showed the butlers where to stand while waiting table in the dining room.

On the grounds there’s a formal garden and a path leading down to the still-wild Teign Valley, a good place for birdwatching. Several other trails in the area offer hikes through Dartmoor, a large area of protected moorland.

There’s also a cafe where you can get tea and scones. How very English!

The castle is open every day until November 3.

[Photo courtesy Philip Halling]


Photo Of The Day: The Iconic Torii Of Kyoto, Japan

Today’s Photo of the Day comes from our Gadling Flickr Pool, submitted by Luke Robinson. This image perfectly captures the endless, iconic aisles of torii gates in Kyoto, Japan. These vibrant, vermillion arches are located in Fushimi Inari Taisha, a shrine dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Tens of thousands of the gates form a path that winds through a forest and up Mount Inari.

The gates themselves are typically donated by businessmen – who pay upwards of thousands of dollars – with hopes that it will bring them good fortunes. The further you venture along the trail, not only do the torii become less dense, but so do the people, making the journey quite peaceful. Towards the end of the hike is a clearing with a fantastic view of Japan’s ancient capital.

As cliché as it may sound, I truly believe that no trip to Japan is complete without a visit to Fushimi-inari Taisha. It is impressive, beautiful and absolutely serene.

If you’d like to see your own travel photography featured here on Gadling, upload your shots to the Gadling Flickr Pool, or tag your Instagram photo with @GadlingTravel and your image could be selected as our Photo of the Day!

[Photo Credit: Flickr User Luke Robinson]

Hiking To The Hollywood Sign (No GPS Required)

I studied abroad in Ireland but I never kissed the Blarney Stone. I visited the Great Pyramids at Giza but refused to pony up for the classic photo on the camel. And I went to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, but didn’t bother to put a wish or prayer in one of its crevices. I don’t have an interest in checking off travel cliché to-do boxes or even making bucket lists, but for some reason that I can’t really explain, I wanted to hike up to the Hollywood sign while in L.A. last week.

In many ways, I hate everything Hollywood represents and rarely spend money on the kind of mindless, big budget movies that are produced there. But I love hikes that have some goal at the summit and, well, I wanted to see the damn sign up close. Don’t ask me why.

Earlier this year, there was quite a bit of press about how people who live near the foot of the Hollyridge Trail that leads up near the sign are sick of lost tourists following their GPS’s onto their dead-end streets in search of the trailhead. So rather than use my GPS, I Googled “Hike to the Hollywood” sign and was surprised to learn that there are a few ways to see the sign.

I drove north on Beachwood Drive in Hollywood until the street came to a dead end. There I found hand painted signs that pointed towards a horse stable to the left and the Hollywood sign to the right. It was a warm Thursday afternoon and there were only a smattering of people on the dusty trail, most of them speaking foreign languages and clutching cameras.

The wide path leads you on a gradual ascent through the scrubby, camouflage-colored landscape of the Hollywood Hills. After about 15 minutes, the trail split – to the right was an uphill path and to the left the terrain was level. There was no one around to ask, so I went left and in another 15 minutes came to a little rocky plateau where some French and Russian tourists were posing for photos with the sign as a backdrop.

It felt like a dismal letdown. We were relatively close to the sign but, in honesty, the darn thing looked more impressive from a distance when seen from Beachwood Drive. I headed back in the direction I’d come from and when I got back to the fork I asked a woman who was jogging down the hill from the other direction what was up that way.

“A great view,” she said. “Just follow the trail up and you’ll end up right on top of the Y and W in the sign.”

I followed the path up for about 20 minutes and eventually arrived at the top of Mt. Lee, where a 10- to 12-foot fence stops tourists from trying to hike down and actually pose with the sign itself. I stepped on a rock in order to snap off a few photos and was joined by a couple from Wisconsin that was irate when they saw the fence.

“We can’t even take our photo with it,” the woman complained. And her male companion was annoyed that only half the sign would fit in his camera frame. Nonetheless, they asked me to take their photo standing in front of the fence and I gladly obliged. It may not have been exactly what we imagined, but it was a little piece of Hollywood for us to take back to the Midwest.

[Photo credit: Dave Seminara]

GPS Guided Hikes Explore Mysterious Yorkshire Rock Art

Yorkshire, in northern England, is famous for its beautiful countryside where hikers pass through remote moors and climb rugged hills. They can also explore an enduring mystery of Europe’s past.

Yorkshire has some of England’s largest concentrations of prehistoric rock art. Drawings of recognizable animals or objects are rare. Instead, most are abstract images like these “cup and ring marks,” seen here in this photo by T.J. Blackwell taken in Hangingstones Quarry above Ilkley Moor. They are shallow divots ground into the rock, surrounded by incised lines that often connect to the lines around other cup marks.

More examples can be seen on the so-called “Badger Stone,” also at Ilkley Moor, and shown below in this photograph by John Illingworth.

Archaeologists estimate them to be about 4,000 years old, dating to the transition from the late Neolithic to the early Bronze Age. They’re found in various regions of Europe and hundreds of them can be seen on Ilkley Moor in Yorkshire.

Nobody knows why prehistoric people went through so much trouble to make them. Some researchers have suggested they were territorial markers, or had a ritual purpose. Others think they were some sort of primitive writing. Now hikers can come to their own conclusions by downloading a GPS trail through Ilkley Moor that takes them to some of the best sites. The hike starts and ends at a parking lot and takes about two hours. The Friends of Ilkley Moor created this easy-to-follow hike and have created other hikes as well.

It’s good to note that all examples of rock art are Scheduled Ancient Monuments and it is a crime to damage them.

Photo courtesy John Illingworth.