Travelling has been a rejuvenating experience since ancient times. Exploration, self-discovery and entertainment have always been the cornerstones of an expedition, leaving travellers curious and excited.
The wide spectrum of leisure and adventure activities on holiday captivate guests and accentuate the excitement quotient. These activities are intended to entertain tourists and recharge the vigour into their lives. Hiking is one such exuberant tourist activity involving long and leisure walks across the countryside, exploring the mysterious beauty of nature.
Hiking – in a Nutshell
Europe gave rise to the Romantic Moment called Romanticism towards the end of the 18th century. This Romantic Era sparked off a literary, musical, artistic and intellectual movement, emphasizing emotion and individualism.
It also inspired a change in attitude towards nature, giving rise to the concept of walking across the countryside for pleasure. Walking is considered a popular outdoor recreational activity in the Western World. It can range anywhere from a leisure walk across the city to trekking the landscape and the mountains.
These are extended walks,individuals and groups undertake across a landscape for several days. These are very similar to backpacking and trekking.
In this article, let’s probe deeper into the hiking domain of travelling and throw light on significant destinations offering awe-inspiring views.Most parts of North America, Europe and prominent regions in South America and Africa lure the wanderlust with their epic hiking trails. Most of these hiking trails are loaded with other breath-taking activities and camping options.
International Hiking Wonders – Points of Interest
Glacier National Park
The Crown of the Continent sits proudly in Montana’s Rocky Mountains amidst pristine forests, magnificent lakes and alpine meadows. Featuring over 700 miles of hiking trails, its valleys run down to the Canadian Border. Bask in the glory of scenic views as you walk along the picturesque Going-to-the-Sun Road that passes the park and crosses the famous Logan Pass. This road sits at the highest elevation of 6,646 feet. The road also provides access to several hiking trails. Cycling, guided tours, boating and camping are other adventurous activities tourists can indulge in.
Tour du Mont Blanc
Unwind across the Mont Blanc massif as you pass through Europe’s most popular long-distance walking trail covering Italy, Switzerland and France. Visit seven valleys as you traverse through Chamonix, Les Houches and Zermatt dipped in the pristine Swiss Alps. The classic trail takes you through blooming meadows and steep, exposed rocks. The high points include Col des Fours and the Fenêtred’Arpette with out-of-the-world views at 8,478 feet high.
Everest Base Camp
Welcome to the highest mountain range in the world. The Everest Base Camp is a must-visit for hiking enthusiasts. This is the place where you get to see the highest point on the planet, Everest or Chomolungma. It is considered as the Goddess Mother of the World. The South Base Camp in Nepal is at an altitude of 5,364 meters and, the North Base Camp in Tibet sits at 5,150 meters. The snow-capped peaks of the Everest are the highest in the world where you experience a different world altogether.
Yosemite National Park
Breath-taking rock formations, towering waterfalls, the tranquillity of Sierra Nevada Mountains, ancient & gigantic sequoia trees. All these and more make Yosemite a natural wonder and a magical sight to behold. The famous Half Dome is captivating to the human eye, especially when sun-kissed. The vast wilderness and deep valleys leave you spellbound and, the Glacier Point and Tunnel View give a spectacular perspective. What’s more? Check out the guided tours and climbing lessons, including the unforgettable Half Dome cables route.
Grand Canyon National Park
This national park is a leading favourite among all hiking enthusiasts. Hiking the Grand Canyon offers an overwhelming expedition and dominates a very large part of Arizona. Stretching up to 277 miles, the canyon charms travellers with striking views of the Colorado River featuring a steep curve. River trips are an all-time favourite and, the red and orange grandeur is a marvel to gaze. Mather Point and Yavapai Observation Station are the well-known viewpoints with camping facilities.
Simien Mountains National Park
If you are looking to traverse a trail loaded with distinct wildlife and a landscape droned in nature, you have to head to this exotic national park. Located in Ethiopia, the park features soaring grasslands dotted with Heather trees. Enjoy panoramic views of the mountains from Gidir Got and ImetGogolookout. Camp at Sankaber, Geech or Chenek as trails pass through them.
Fish River Canyon
Namibia is home to the world’s second largest canyon featuring gigantic and deep gorges that are up to 27 km wide and nearly 550 meters deep. The 800 km-long Fish River is over a billion years old. This hiking trail is one of the toughest and, a successful completion takes you to 5 billion years old geological history.
Yellowstone National Park
The 3,500-sq. mile wilderness spreading across Wyoming and Montana is a pristine wonder featuring the most dramatic peaks and canyons. Hot springs surround the multi-coloured pools. The lush forests and rivers feature endless walking trails. Take in the views of hot geysers forcing steaming waters high towards the sky. If that’s not enough, the park is home to numerous animal species including wild bisons, bears, antelopes, wolves and more. Hike the Yellowstone Lake, a freshwater lake that is set over 7,000 feet in North America.
Witness one of the world’s most captivating and wildest natural terrain traversing Tasmania’s walking trail. The Australian wonder lets you explore the ruggedCradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park. As you walk along, astonishing views of glacial mountains, rainforests, vast plains and wild rivers take over your senses. The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is a biodiversity hotspot with a range of wildlife and eucalyptus groves.
Sarek National Park
The grandiose of 2,000+ meters high mountains, extended & deep narrow valleys and turbulent waters make one of the oldest National Parks in Europe an invaluable hiking spot. Make your own route and explore at your own pace at this high alpine area covering a vast delta landscape. This hiking beauty in Sweden has over 100 glaciers and, the rugged landscape is home to large elk and reindeer.
Zion National Park
Head to Southwest Utah and, gear up for an unforgettable hiking expedition taking you across towering mountain ranges, natural arches, canyons, rivers and monoliths. The reddish and tanned canyons are a scenic marvel and, the area is great for exploration and backpacking. Enjoy a lazy stroll across the Riverside Walk or explore the scenic surroundings hiking the Hidden Canyon. Angels Landing is the most popular hiking spot featuring a narrow ridge with stunning views.
The Narrows and Weeping Rock are hikers’ favourite points, challenging, breath-taking and adventurous. Th Observation Point is worth the visit offering jaw-dropping views of Angels Landing and the panoramic Zion National Park. That’s not all. If you are someone who enjoys scenic views while driving, then take the Zion canyon Scenic Drive. Wade through the Virgin River and set off for an adventurous walk through the canyon.
The wonderous mountain range bordering Austria and Italy is Tyrol’s spectacular hiking and biking trail with loads of natural setting. Just laze around or walk at your convenience to a unique panorama from famous ridges. Hochfeiler, the highest point of the ZillertalAlps awaits tourists for a mindboggling view above sea level. Go for a walk in the valley or take a stroll in the wild nature reserve.
Blyde River Canyon
South Africa’s hidden jewel set across the sparkling Blyde River gives an expansive view of the awesome Drakensberg Mountains. Rich with flora and fauna, the canyon, consisting of red sandstone, offers hikers a unique and stimulating experience. Witness boundless views of rich surroundings from Mariepskop. It’s the highest point there towering 1,944 meters above sea level. Covered with lush foliage, it’s the largest green canyon in the world.
And, if you seek a break, head to the Blyde Hillside Houses set in a tranquil atmosphere with the backdrop of the fabulous Drakensberg Mountains.
Olympic National Park
The most unique national park on the planet located in Washington State is home to several distinct ecosystems. It’s a nature lover’s paradise gifted with glacier-capped mountains, temperate rainforests and a wild coastline. The hiking trails cut through the old-growth forest and pass through the Pacific coastline. The coastline offers dramatic views of the Olympic Mountains.
In recent years, hiking has become the most popular and most enjoyable activity for adventurous and active travellers. Exploring the outdoors gives travellers the opportunity to break away from the hustle bustle of city life and bask in nature’s glory. The numerous activities, both for leisure and adventure, have given holidays a brand-new perspective.
The dozens of activities including camping, horse riding, trekking, boating, walking tours, fishing, kayaking, exploration, mountain climbing, and many others make for a perfect hiking expedition.
Life-changing experiences and self-awareness are the direct by-products of hiking. Hiking provides the opportunity to study the mysteries of nature to learn the historical significance of a region.
Grey skies ahead – Malta prepares for a gloomy 2021 if they can’t tackle financial crime
By Dhanum Nursigadoo, ComplyAdvantage
With the summer drawing to a close, many countries who rely significantly on warm weather tourism will be assessing the impact of Covid-19. Being a small island in the middle of the Mediterranean you would expect Malta to be taking a significant economical hit – just like we are seeing in other popular European holiday destinations – but this doesn’t take into account the strength of the Maltese economy.
Emerging from the eurozone crisis with one of the most dynamic economies strategically positioned between three continents, Malta has had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the EU and has recently seen its GDP growth expand year-on-year. But perhaps the most important aspect of the Maltese economy has been its attraction for foreign businesses with only a 5% tax on profits. It is no secret that Malta is a tax haven, probably one of the most effective tax havens in the world.
But you can’t pick and choose who takes shelter, and it’s no secret that money launderers have been taking advantage of the regulatory landscape in this archipelago.
The conditions of a tax haven suit criminal enterprises, who can take advantage of the opaque environment and blend their illegal activities with the same operations enjoyed by high net worth individuals and corporations who are looking to reduce their tax bill. And last year Malta’s keenness for secrecy and avoidance resulted in a damning report by Moneyval – the Council of Europe’s Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) body – which found that while the nation had made some efforts to curb money laundering there was still much to be desired in order to bring the tax haven up to standard. Overall, they were of the opinion that Malta viewed combating money laundering as a non-priority and this resulted in branding Malta with low to partial ratings for 30 out of the 40 Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations.
The findings of the report were stated to have the potential to “create within the wider public the perception that there may exist a culture of inactivity or impunity”. This follows on from a series of international high-profile stories regarding Malta and financial crime. Most shocking was the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia – who investigated corruption and money laundering in her native country – and was killed by a car-bomb three years ago leading to international outrage and condemnation.
Now Malta is in a race against time to turn their reputation around or they will suffer genuine consequences. The FATF have threatened to place Malta on a “greylist” of high-risk jurisdictions unless they have shown a genuine commitment to combatting financial crime and implemented the recommendations of the Moneyval report. If they fail, this would make Malta the first EU country to make the list and join others such as Panama, Syria and Zimbabwe.
The pandemic has actually given Malta more time to meet these obligations, and it has been widely reported that an initial summer deadline has now been moved to October due to the widespread disruption.
As we head into the autumn, there are signs that Malta has begun to take action. The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has created and established an empowered AML now headed up by Anthony Eddington, formerly of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and who has previous experience of tackling anti-financial crime at Deutsche Bank. This team has already begun working closely with international experts, specifically partners in the US through the US embassy in Malta and the United States Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). In May this collaboration led to 25 new cases focused on money laundering in particular, and with plans to increase standard inspections and on-site investigations into businesses in Malta, it appears there is a change to the country’s priorities.
Importantly, the report highlighted a problem for countries that choose to become tax havens. In some cases it was not that the Maltese authorities deliberately turned a blind-eye, but simply that they did not have the necessary knowledge to effectively tackle financial crime in the first place. Law enforcement appeared unable to even recognise when crime was occurring.
But this blurring of financial compliance will not help businesses if Malta does indeed become “greylisted” this year. While not as devastating as being blacklisted (the two occupants of this list are Iran and North Korea) there are significant detrimental effects to being put on the FATF greylist. Although this signals that the country is committed to developing AML/CFT plans (unlike the blacklist) it still sends out a warning signal to the world that this is a high-risk area, with the country in question subject to increased monitoring and potential sanctions from the IMF and the World Bank. Make no mistake, being put on the greylist will be catastrophic for Malta’s economy.
It remains to be seen how the work to avoid such a calamity will affect Malta’s tax haven status. Perhaps with an increased fight against financial crime there will be less ability to defend one of Europe’s most competitive tax regimes. But if Malta does not show they are genuinely committed to tackling this problem, then the pandemic disruption to the island’s tourism may be minor in comparison to the grey clouds that now approach their shores.
How will the UK prepare a supply chain for the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines?
By Don Marshall, Marketing role at Exporta.
The challenge of mobilising a supply chain for the introduction of a global and nationwide vaccine will be enormously complex. The process will be costly, and it’s likely the figures will stretch to the hundreds of millions for both the production of the vaccine itself and its distribution across the UK. We must prepare and plan a supply chain strategy to ensure it reaches those most in need in a timely and safe manner.
The task of immunising a whole population is something that has never been planned or likely imagined by anyone within a standard supply chain. A supply chain that goes directly from the manufacturer to the end consumer, or user/ patient in this case, is complex and goes beyond the scope of any single logistics company. It would have to be conceived and delivered via a large joint effort and collaboration between multiple organisations. Effectively distributing the vaccine will depend on the source of manufacture, its storage requirements, and protection of the vaccines from manufacture through to patient administration.
The majority of vaccines require storage within a specific temperature range and need to be handled safely and in hygienic conditions. Depending on where the vaccines are manufactured, the transport legs will vary; if they are coming from overseas, air freight will increase cost and complexity. In addition to supplying the vaccine, syringes, needles and containers also need to be taken into account when preparing the supply chain.
Securing the specific types of boxes or containers i.e. the lidded containers normally used for transporting pharmaceutical products will mean acquiring them from all available stockists and manufacturers. Delivery vehicles would then need to be considered, with temperature-control factored in. The medical supply chain can inform their approach to distribution by assessing data from previous supply chains, and how large quantities of vaccines have been sent out in the past. Collating successful vaccine delivery examples from other parts of the world would be advantageous here, the more we can do to prepare for a logistical challenge of this magnitude, the better.
The distribution of this COVID vaccine will be unique in its scale and for that reason, additional supply chains will need to be mobilised. Apart from medical supply chains, those best suited for this type of transportation are the fresh/frozen food industries and supermarkets. I would mobilise these businesses to assist with the vaccine’s distribution wherever possible and use their car parks and facilities for the temporary medical centres needed to administer the vaccine to the public.
Using the food industry and supermarket networks would leave the current pharmaceutical supply chains intact for health services, pharmacies and the NHS. It would protect those vital services and continue to serve communities across the UK. Inevitably, it would place a short term strain on food supply chains, but these are supply chains that are well-equipped and versed in coping with excess demand i.e. the spike endured from the brief spell of public panic buying at the start of the crisis. With adequate resourcing and planning, I believe the UK supply chain can and will handle this challenge.
Dealing with the loneliness crisis with assistive technology
By Karen Dolva, CEO and Co-Founder of No Isolation
Humans are social beings, and for most children, school will be their most important social arena. Unfortunately, however, many children and adolescents with long-term illnesses are unable to attend school for extended periods, due to treatment plans, ill health or more recently due to the risk of infection. Research has shown that long-stints of school absence for children and adolescents with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME) and cancer can range from months to years.
These prolonged periods of absence, which often lead to limited interactions with other children and adolescents, can result in children completely losing their social network, leaving them feeling cut off, lonely and isolated, all as a result of something that is completely out of their control. What kind of consequences can this type of social isolation have for children and young adults?
In a recent in-depth investigation into the impact of COVID-19 on the emotional and educational development of British school-aged children, No Isolation partnered with independent researcher, Henry Peck, to look into the impact of COVID-19 on school aged children, to shed further light on the consequences of school closures, not only across the UK, but the long term effects that this can have on children and adolescents everywhere throughout the pandemic.
As a company working to abolish loneliness and isolation amongst those suffering with chronic illness, we were already aware of the effect that social isolation can have on a child’s educational development and mental health. For the investigation we collected responses from 1,005 parents and carers of 1,477 children spanning primary and secondary school.
Results of the study found that a concerning 76% of parents and carers reported that, since lockdown, they have become worried that their children are suffering from loneliness. Results also showed that parents and carers of 5-10-year-olds worry that their children are lonely often or all of the time, whilst parents and carers of 11-16-year-olds are concerned that their children are lonely at least some of the time. This is likely due to the fact that older children have greater access to social technologies, while younger children often rely on non-verbal forms of communication such as facial expression, physical contact, and through play, all of which is difficult to recreate whilst away from the school setting.
At No Isolation we are committed to creating solutions that will help children stay connected to their friends and their education, regardless of circumstance. We’ve seen first-hand the devastating impact that loneliness can have on a child, and know that children that can’t attend school don’t just miss out on learning, they miss out on friendships too. Losing this contact during the early years developmental stages can be devastating, leading to anxiousness and an increase in feelings of isolation. This report sheds light on the hundreds of thousands of young people that may not be able to rejoin their friends in school, and it is vital that they don’t fall through the cracks. We plan to continue researching the impact of this unprecedented pandemic and driving the conversation around how we, as a nation, can ensure the mental wellbeing and educational development of those most affected.
Loneliness has been found to have serious implications for both physical and mental health. People suffering from loneliness are 32% more likely to have a stroke and are 26% more at risk of early mortality. From No Isolation’s own research into the impact of school absence due to long-term illness, we have found that children are particularly vulnerable to loneliness if they cannot attend school.
Researchers, Perlman and Peplau, define loneliness as a negative feeling, stating that a lonely person is experiencing a discrepancy between desired and actual social contact. Being socially isolated is not synonymous with being lonely, but there will often be a correlation between social isolation and loneliness. Though much empirical research on adults and adolescents shows a link between loneliness and depression, many studies have found that friendship-related loneliness is more explanatory for depressive symptoms among adolescents than parent-related loneliness. One possible explanation is that friends are the preferred source of social support during adolescence.
With that in mind, we should be both sad and alarmed by the high numbers of young people unable to attend school, and more so by the fact that we do not really know who they are or exactly why they cannot go to school. Research has shown that social isolation and loneliness often correlate with mental disorders, including depressive disorders, there are, however, options available for children and adolescents in the form of assistive technologies, enabling them to stay connected with education and their peers.
The provision of dedicated school staff, inspirational hospital schools, the use of avatars like AV1 that enable children to attend school remotely, are just a few of the ways that assistive technology and exemplary attitudes are helping children with long-term illnesses from becoming disconnected from essential social networks. There are also examples of individuals who are pushing to keep children from falling between the cracks and becoming invisible, such as Amy Dixon, who is running a petition that will do exactly that, bringing these issues to the attention of those who can make a real change. It is, and will be, thanks to these exemplary changes that more support is being offered to children that are virtually invisible across the UK at present.
However, not all children have the option to receive these kinds of provision. There are pockets of excellent practice driven on an individual and local level, but there needs to be systemic change at a policy level, to ensure everyone is supported.
Educational provision for children out of school due to illness appears to be something of a postcode lottery, with some families having to fight for 3 hours of home tuition a week, whilst others are offered 15 hours by default. This is thought to be, in part, due to the open statutory guidance which allows for flexible interpretation of government guidelines, as well as financial limitations schools and city councils face. To improve the lives and outcomes of this group of children, is to create a more accurate view and analysis. This can be done by joining up existing datasets, by asking better questions, and by building a model that predicts future numbers of children from falling outside of the system. This, in turn, will push the issue up the political agenda and drive much needed changes to statutory guidance. Most importantly, it would lead to more support for children that are seemingly invisible across the UK.
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