The Desert Calling !!

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It was 3pm. We were all set for the famous desert safari. Eagerly waiting to be picked up from our hotel apartment lobby. And then came the gleaming white Toyota Land Cruiser. They generally pick up 6 passengers but we were only five and a half! After sitting impatiently and crossing the heavy traffic, it took us more than 45 minutes to finally hit the desert.

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Lets begin..

We all had to fasten our seat belts and hold on the hand railing because it’s time for dune bashing! The car takes you on the lofty dunes and at one point of time you would feel that this time it is going to be upside down. Before I could take a breath the driver plunges the car into a depth and then instantly takes it up to the top. I must say that all the drivers are in love with the sand. And they do it so effortlessly, all the time. The bumpy ride is surely going to pump your adrenaline. The oblique golden rays of the fast disappearing sun, infinite desert and the slight chill in the wind will cast a magical spell on you.

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Our desert camp

As the sun sets over the dunes we approached our camp. Temperature quickly drops as soon as the sun bid adieu. The seating arrangement on the sand, well decorated center stage, light Arabic music, camels, welcome drinks and the chill in the wind create the perfect ambiance for the evening performances. As night pours over the desert even in the middle of the loud music and the madding crowd, I could feel the eternal silence and vastness of the desert when I looked out of the boundary walls of our camp. After dinner, on our way back home, everybody in the car kept quiet and enjoyed the tranquility of the desert. It was a memorable experience indeed.

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Well….you can guess from my expression..!!

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Photo by: Veniza Ferreira Fernandez

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Photo by: Veniza Ferreira Fernandez

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The final entertainment of the evening

Canadian Rockies – The Glacier Adventure

Each and every place under the sun has its own must-see attractions. For the Canadian Rockies (along the border of British Columbia and Alberta) it is definitely the Columbia Icefield. It is the largest icefield in North America, situated at the northwestern corner of Banff National Park. It comprises of eight major glaciers among which Athabasca glacier is most visited due to its closeness to Banff and Jasper. Banff National Park encompasses an area of about 6,641 sq kms.  The dense coniferous forest on the way of the spectacular drive from Calgary will engross you.

North Vancouver – A Place Where Nature Lives

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North Vancouver, a city separated from the City of Vancouver by a shallow coastal fjord called the Burrard Inlet. It is one of the most scenic places in British Columbia. The picturesque surrounding North Shore Mountains, virgin Douglas forests, snow fed rivers along with the urban comfort makes it even more special. But what touched me most is its unprecedented access to the nature. You can just nourish your senses and enjoy the pure bliss of nature. During my short stay in Canada I managed to visit two of the most popular destinations of North Vancouver.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

The Capilano Suspension Bridge is the longest and highest of its kind. The warmth and professional attitude of volunteers of this place will instantly make you feel at ease. The bridge built on River Capilano is 140 meters long and 230 feet high above the river. It is huge and beyond any description. The magnificent sight of the bridge from the point of entry was thrilling. I already had butterflies in my stomach. And then as I gently started walking on the bridge, it started oscillating. I could hear many ‘Oohh’ and ‘Awwh’ around me. Let me tell you that I too joined the group. The thick steel cables did give much confidence but I was hesitant till the end of the bridge. It took us to the West Coast Rainforest of British Columbia, which is the largest intact temperate rainforest zone in the world.

Now here we go….

People like me were also there…

Looking back…

View of the bridge from a different angle

There flows River Capilano

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park has the facility for the students to work together with the rainforest rescuers to learn about its ecosystem. Being a student of Geography I found that very interesting. Students will get an opportunity to learn identifying each species of tree, understand their interdependence, the type of soil in which they grow, understand the importance of decomposing organisms and observing the living examples. It is best place to witness the natural process of soil formation. A heaven for Biogeographers.

Now, the most exciting part of the journey will begin. Cliffwalk, is the most recent addition to the thrill and charm of the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. It started in 2011. It is a heart –stopping experience! It is an elevated and narrow walkway protruding out of the steep granite cliff face above the Capilano River. It took us to the unapproachable and remote parts of the park. Few ejected parts of the walkway are made of very thick and strong glass which will take you to the extreme point towards the deep canyon. Incredible work of engineering.

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Cliff-walk at Capilano Suspension Bridge

Follow your steps….

But it did’nt excite my baby…dosed off immediately after lunch

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Venturing into the deep dense forest…

The dense forest can be covered by the Treetops Adventure. This is a magnificent walk from one Douglas-fir to another through a series of elevated suspension bridges, some as high as 110 feet from the ground. It is indeed a distinctive adventure which has become one of the quintessential activities in Vancouver.

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A series of such elevated suspension bridges will take you through the forest..incredible!

It was incredible to know that we were in the middle of the coastal temperate rainforest which is approximately 500 years old! The main species here are Douglas-Fir, Western –Red Cedar and Western Hemlock – all evergreen trees. The trees are tall and enormous. The tallest among these three is the Douglas-fir reaching heights of up to 120 meters.

Grouse Mountain – The Peak of Vancouver

Named after a ‘Blue Grouse’ bird found on its Alpine Slopes is an all season destination for nature lovers. The pristine natural beauty of the place will have an indelible impression on your mind. It is just 15-minutes from downtown Vancouver. We spent the entire day over there enjoying the nature.

A Skyride Gondola will take you to the serene Alpine station at 3700 feet above the sea level. The spectacular panoramic view of the city, the Pacific Ocean, and the neighboring peaks of the surrounding mountains will take your breath away. I could even see the small inlets and bays around the Mainland Vancouver.

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Skyride Gondola

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As soon as we reached at the top, a dear approached, as if welcoming us to the wilderness.

Grouse Mountain is a refuge for endangered wildlife. Visualize a wildlife shelter where endangered animals exploring and playing around in a safe and secure place. That’s the safe haven, a mountain –top habitat for two orphan Grizzly Bears, Grinder and Coola. Theatre in the Sky also holds a movie on their journey to the Grouse Mountain Refuge. The research, education and conservation center at the top of the Grouse Mountain works constantly on rescue and rehabilitation of endangered species from the whole world.

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The Grouse Grind is a mini-trek cum natural trail through the steep grade into the deep and dense vegetated zone. We enjoyed the stunning beauty of the nature with our 7 month old daughter in a sling bag

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Taking tour into the forested area

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One of the most popular summer programs is the Birds in Motion. Each demonstrations feature Hawk, Great Horned Owl, Falcon and a Bald Eagle. As always, I enjoyed and appreciated the passion and affection of the naturalists out there. They were in love with these birds of prey.

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What an amazingly beautiful creature!

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Welcoming the guests

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Ready for the show

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Posing for me as well

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Waiting for the next call

The Grouse Mountain is the paradise for Skiing. The severe winter in Canada cannot bind people from going out and having fun. Skiing is the hot favorite activity in winter. Grouse Mountain generally gets the first snowfall in the month of October and it can snow as late as June. One can select the ski runs for varying levels of experience. There are specific terrains marked for intermediates and experts. It is said to be best suited for beginners.My husband tried his luck and found it quite a difficult job although. But nevertheless he enjoyed every bit of it.

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People enjoying the snow

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Abode of snow

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Trying his luck

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Children having a fabulous time