The Valley of Whale, Egypt

The deserts of Egypt contains some of the best preserved paleontological sites in the world one of which is Wadi al-Hitan or the Valley of Whales. This remote valley in the Western Desert, some 150 km southwest of Cairo, contains valuable collection of fossils and bones of a now extinct, suborder of whales, called the archaeoceti. These fossils explains one of the greatest mysteries of the evolution of whales: the emergence of the whale as an ocean-going mammal from a previous life as a land-based animal. Wadi Al-Hitan is the most important site in the world for the demonstration of this stage of evolution. It portrays vividly the form and life of these whales during their transition. No other place in the world yields the number, concentration and quality of such fossils, as is their accessibility and setting in an attractive and protected landscape.

The fossils of Wadi Al-Hitan dating back to 50 million years show the youngest archaeocetes, in the last stages of evolution from land animals to a marine existence. They already display the typical streamlined body form of modern whales, whilst retaining certain primitive aspects of skull and tooth structure, as well as hind legs. Many of the whale skeletons are in good condition as they have been well preserved in the rock formations. Semi-complete skeletons are found in the valley and in some cases, even stomach contents are preserved. Fossil of other early animals such as those of sharks, crocodiles, sawfish, turtles and rays found at Wadi al-Hitan makes it possible to reconstruct the surrounding environmental and ecological conditions of the time.

There is considerable evidence which indicates that the basin of Wadi Hitan was submerged in water some 40 to 50 million years ago. At that time, the so-called Tethys Sea reached far south of the existing Mediterranean. The Tethys Sea is assumed to have retreated north and over the years deposited thick sediments of sandstone and limestone visible in rock formations in Wadi Hitan.

Geological studies have been carried out in the area since the 1800's, and the first skeletons were found around 1830 but were never collected due to the difficult accessibility to the site at that time. At first, it was thought to be a huge marine reptile. It was only later in 1902, that the species were identified as whales. For the next 80 years they attracted relatively little interest, largely due to the difficulty of reaching the area. In the 1980s interest in the site resumed as four wheel drive vehicles became more readily available.

Wadi Al-Hitan, now a Unesco World Heritage site, is visited by only 1,000 people each year.


7 Beautiful Pink Beaches in the World

Most of the beaches in the world have common similarity when it comes to sand color, texture and water quality. In fact, there are countless of beaches in different part of the world. You know that sand comes in colors of yellow, white, or gray. Sometimes, if it’s volcanic, also black. But what about a pink sand beach? That’s right! beaches where the sand is colored pink! As incredible as it may seem, they do exist, but there are very few to be found on Earth. You can even count it in your fingers.

What Causes Pink Sand?
Pink sand is a result of tiny red organisms that grow on the dead coral reefs and pieces of shells which fall to the ocean floor and is washed onto shore. It is also made of natural formulation of calcium carbonate from very small marine invertebrates that mixed to corals and shells and other marine things which has Foraminifera, microscopic amoeba that has a red or bright pink body shell. All of these are what causes the sand to have a pink hue.

1. Pink Beach, Komodo National Park – Indonesia

Pink Beach on Komodo Island is famous for its beautiful pink sand. This color is a mixture of sand from white calcium carbonate and the bright red skeletons of organ pipe corals, which are relatively abundant in certain areas of Komodo National Park. Other pink sand beaches are found in some of the eastern bays on Komodo Island, as well as in southern Padar. Komodo National Park is the real wonder of the world. one of the last frontiers of the underwater world

2. Pink Beach, Harbor Island-Bahamas

Pink Sands Beach, Harbor Island is the place to go for natural beauty, elegant resorts and most importantly, three miles of perfectly pink sand and gentle waters. The ocean is ideal for swimming – warm throughout the year and generally calm, protected from the rolling waves of the Atlantic by a coral reef

3. Pink Beach-Bermuda

Pink Beach Bermuda is one of amazing beaches with long stretches of soft sandy powder pink beach. Bermuda might be infamous for mysterious disappearance of more than 100 ships and planes but it has a unforgettable charm. The hidden face of Bermuda, is that it is incredibly gorgeous.

4. Pink Beach, Santa Cruz Island – Philippines

The place where you can find pink sand in Zamboanga is on Santa Cruz Island, Philipplines. It is quiet there, and beautiful. There are red corals in the waters around Santa Cruz island. As those red corals age and die off, they form sand that is pink. It is that simple, but it is so very beautiful

5. Budelli Island, Sardinia – Italy

Pink Beach, Budelli Island, North-East Sardinia – Italy. One of the islands of the Archipelago; Budelli has an area of just 1.6 square kilometres. The beach takes name from the particular pink coral colour of the sand, due to the numerous shells and little fragments of red corals. Nowadays no one can reach anymore the beach due to the fact the tourists were taking away the sands, however it can be admired from the sea.

6. Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean Island-Caribbean

Pink Beach Bonaire, Caribbean Isalnd. Sunbathe on this pristine, pink-hued sand beach that shelves into shallow crystal clear waters perfect for holiday. Relax beneath one of the palm trees that dot this unspoiled beach and look out for pink flamingos. Wear sandals on the beach to protect your soles from washed-up coral and wear reef shoes or flippers when going for a swim.

7. Lagoon of Balos, Crete – Greece

Pink Beach Balos, Crete, is a special beach. It has white and pink sand and many-many seashells – actually, the pink colour of the sand comes from old seashells that have been transformed by the power of the sea. The waters are shallow, crystal-clear and warm. As Balos is a lagoon, swimming there is like swimming in a vast, very picturesque pool!


Spectacular Train Route in The Andes

The Chanaral – Llanta – Potrerillos line in Chile is one of the most stunning railways in the world. It connects Potrerillos, a now abandoned town and mine in the remote Andes located 2850 meters above sea level, with the filtration plant and workshops in Llanta and Diego de Almagro, where the line connects to the Longitudinal Norte, and continues to ChaƱaral and the harbor at Barquito. The line was built starting 1916 by the Andes Copper Mining Company to connect the Potrerillos copper mine and smelter with Pueblo Hundido (now called Diego de Almagro), where it connected to the state railway network, which continued to ChaƱaral.

The Potrerillos mine started production a decade later in 1927. The railway was subsequently used to transport supplies to Potrerillos and refined copper to the harbor at Barquito. Although the deposits of Potrerillos were smaller and its ores of poorer quality than those at Chile’s principal copper mine at Chuquicamata, the mine made an important contribution to the country’s copper production. The diminishing quality of its ore and the discovery of another substantial body of copper ore in 1954 at nearby Indio Muerto, finally lead to the closure of Potrerillos mines in 1959. The company town that had been established at Potrerillos was abandoned by the end of the 20th century, but a copper smelter and refinery continued to operate at the location.

In 1959, the mines at Potrerillos were replaced by those at El Salvador. Since then, the liquefied ore is transported by pipeline from El Salvador to a filtration plant near Llanta, from where the dried ore concentrate is transported by railway to the Potrerillos plant. Potrerillos now supplies other plants with sulfuric acid, required for purification of copper, both by truck and railway.

The line between Potrerillos to Barquito is 155 km long, and between the mines to the filtration plant in Llanta is 90 km in length. The most spectacular section is the ascent between the station Montandon (2350 m) and Potrerillos (2850 m), where it passes through closed curves and tunnels, always beaten to the slope. On the last 66 km between Llanta and Potrerillos, the railroad first passes a rugged, lonesome valley and finally winds up to the terminus of the line, passing a breathtaking mountain scenery.

Can you spot the train in this picture?

A train climbing towards Potrerillos.

A train loaded with copper concentrate from Llanta, near Montandon - Potrerillos in metric gauge line, with a maximum slope of 3.9% in this section.A beautiful condor accompanying the passage of the train, from the heights of Andes mountain.

A train loaded with 23 tank cars full of sulfuric acid, leaves the Potrerillos copper plant.

A train loaded with sulphuric acid accelerating out of Montandon, at the foot of the 3.9% grade.

From the colorful heights of Andes mountain, two EMD GR12 and FERRONOR copper train already soon get to Potrerillos foundry, and with its characteristic and complete black color seems a tattoo on the wall of the mountain.


Farming in Desert Wadi Rum

The valley of Wadi Rum in southern Jordan, near the border with Saudi Arabia, has a landscape so alien it is nicknamed "Valley of the Moon." Mountains of granite and sandstone rise next to valleys filled with red sand. A range of narrow gorges, natural arches, towering cliffs, ramps, massive landslides and caverns lie scattered across an area 720 square kilometers. The area is naturally arid, receiving little annual precipitation and supporting only sparse vegetation. Its surprising that anything at all can grow on the sun baked earth, yet the desert regions of Israel and Jordan have for years been the subject of numerous agricultural projects. Recently, Bedouins living in the Wadi Rum region have become involved in unique agricultural projects that are beginning to become successful.

Jordan’s Wadi Rum desert happens to be the site of Jordan’s largest mixed farm – Rum Farm. Rum was established in the year 1986, in the midst of the Wadi Rum desert on 2,000 hectares of land. While it seems like an odd choice of location, it begins to make sense when you learn that under the Wadi Rum desert, and stretching under the border mountains and well into Saudi Arabia, is a large aquifer. In fact, much of this desert nation’s water supply is dependent on this single water source.

Rum Farm specializes in the cultivation of open field vegetable products, grains and forage, including eggplants, cabbage, figs and pomegranates, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The crops grown there by Rum Farm Organics are being grown by using special irrigation techniques and method of agriculture that is said to have been in use in ancient times by such peoples as the ancient Egyptians and Nabateans.

Water is drawn from subterranean aquifer, 30 to 400 meters deep, and irrigated on 78 hectares circular fields, by using a pivoting ramp with watering nozzles. Special plastic “poly tunnels” are also used to help conserve water and deal with extreme desert temperatures.

The company’s techniques are so successful that the farm now produces a large part of Jordan’s food supply, before being trucked north hundreds of kilometers through the desert to the capital of Amman and other locations.