Touring across Australia has never stopped to marvel me with its numerous seen and unseen wonders. But what's the most amazing, specially as we toured across the Great Ocean Road and Port Campbell National Park, were the 12 Apostles! A wonder still hidden from much of the world, we saw it while touring across the Great Ocean Road by air on a helicopter. While the majestic Grampians and Victorian flora and fauna are truly picturesque too, we just couldn't get enough of our tour of the 12 Apostles and extended it, going further towards Philip Islands. Like it is said, the 12 Apostles are truly a pilgrimage, "paying dawn and dusk homage" at the "Wild heart" of Australia's Great Ocean Road!
HOW TO GET THERE: The 12 Apostles are located 275 km west of Melbourne, approximately a four-hour drive along the Great Ocean Road. While you can reach there by coast, a day's tour in a helicopter gave us the best experience!
We visited Tasmania's east coast village- Coles Bay, during the same trip to Australia. While we visited the world famous Winegalss Bay, the most beautiful and probably one of the most unheard of places was "The Hazards" and the Freycinet Park. What we saw here was one of the most interesting experience into wilderness, for we saw red granite cliffs tumbling their ways into the cold ocean, surrounded by the park and its most unusual animals, ranging from the white-breasted sea eagles and red-neck wallabies to the Tasmanian pademelons. What's more is the abseiling, boating and fishing, snorkeling, coastal wine tasting and scenic flights that were just the perfect ways to experience the essence of Coles Bay. The entire experience truly makes up for the most marvellous coastline I have ever travelled! HOW TO GET THERE: Coles Bay is about 45 minutes' drive from Swansea and around 30 minutes' drive from Bicheno, both on the east coast of Tasmania.
As we drove down National Highway 1, and eagerly awaited to reach Ladakh, my attention turned towards a board that read a cautionary message, but as usual no one paid heed to me! Until we saw it coming to reality as we parked our car on the Magnetic Hill. Parked in neutral gear, we first thought it was some paranormal ghost story coming to life as the car moved up the steep slope of the mountain!! As reality broke to our frozen selves, within seconds we all ran behind the car, which was now speeding up to beyond 10 km/hr!! Well, it was in turn just plain physics and no freak accident, if only my friends would have listened to me earlier when I hap pointed out to the board that read "Magnetic Hill"!
Driving along the arc that formed around the city of Kirkuk, in the Sulimaniyah region in the north of Iraqi Kurdistan was a marvel that awaited the eyes- Lake Dukan. Driving along the eastern border of Iraq was in itself a sight. Along came the sketch of the vast desert badlands meeting the foot of the Kurdish mountains, which was a backdrop all along our drive. And it was even more scenic as we reached the fresh pristine blue waters of Lake Dukan. While there were a few resorts around for us to rest in the meantime, I just couldn't resist exploring the vastness of barren serenity that made for our experience at this largest lake in Iraq.
When we were kids and enamored by the magical scenes of illumination in the Arctic Polar ice shown in the animated disney motion picture Brother Bear, it definitely had made an addition to our bucket list for trotting around the globe. And this came to reality when I finally pulled up enough courage and determination to go to the North Pole and see the wonders that the Arctic Norwegian achipelago of Svalbard. As we camped there for two nights in a row, the moonlight unravelled the beauty laden before us of the mystic clouds concealing the enigmatic sky lit with the most beautiful hues stirring life into the still ice sheets! It's the most life evoking experience, without which my travels would have seemed incomplete.
Standing tall amongst the Limassol Ranges are the Troodos Mountains. At the heart of the island of saints, culture and beauty- Cyprus is a region which has abundance to offer to a traveller like me. As I set foot in the south-east of this region, backpacking around Troodos, I discovered the unique picturesque scenery that surrounded these mountains. Exploring its much talked about dense forests and mines, I further delved my footsteps into the valleys encompassing beautiful vineyards and scenic panoramas. While I could clearly see how the Troodos valley was truly meant for all seasons, what amazed me the most were cultural treasure of the place. The archaic remains and monastery of kykkos, amongst other mountain views, added to the beauty that lay around and beyond Troodos. And my trip to Troodos came to a perfect end as I walked in serenity on the cobbled streets arched with blossoming orchards.