South Africa: Site of the Cradle of Humankind


South Africa is a favorite tourist destination because of the many different attractions it has to offer; but not too many people are aware that a lot of historians believe that the place where the earliest humans thrived can be found in South Africa.  Aptly named the Cradle of Humankind, this UNESCO Heritage Site is situated 50km NW of Johannesburg.  The place is also a mere hour’s drive from Gauteng Province, South Africa’s richest and most populous province

Historians concluded that the Cradle of Humankind is the place where humans first came about after discovering a significant collection of the oldest hominid fossils onsite. The first of the ape and human-like discoveries was fondly called Mrs. Ples, a fully grown Australophitecus. The remains were unearthed by Robert Broom in 1935. More similar finds were dug up in subsequent excavations.

Likewise, primitive stone tools were recovered.  This further bolstered the belief that this is indeed the first human settlement, and cemented the Cradle of Humankind’s place in history.  More than 850 ape-human fossils have been unearthed from various excavations in the area to-date.

Visiting the site, you will notice the strip of caves known as the Sterkfontein Caves that are made out of dolomitic limestone, a section of which is open for public viewing.  This is among the most popular attractions of the UNESCO heritage site simply because it is where Mrs. Ples, estimated to be 2.6 million years old, was unearthed in the 1930s.

With at least 500 fossilized remains uncovered, the Sterkfontein Caves is considered as the single most significant archeological site in the history of humankind. Here, you will see awe-inspiring depictions of pre-historic life as recreated by John Gurche, a world-renowned artist whose other similar works are featured in the Smithsonian Institute and the American Museum of Natural History.

This alone is enough reason to make your long trip to the African continent worthwhile.  Just imagine walking along the same caves where our first ancestors dwelled millions of years ago. It will probably be the most spine-tingling experience you will ever have.

Of course there are skeptics who would disagree and argue that hominids may have actually lived in different places the world over, and the big number of discoveries at the Cradle of Humankind is mainly due to the site’s ideal conditions for fossilizing humanoid remains. Be that as it may, there is no denying the fact that the place was inhabited by the oldest human ancestors ever found.

Other than the Cradle of Humankind, there are other activities to do and tourist attractions to see nearby. There are also good restaurants and a number of hotels, including a 4-star hotel where you can stay during your South African vacation.

The underground boat ride can provide an unforgettable experience as you will have a feel of how early man lived. For the more adventurous, the game reserves and balloon rides are a must-try. More relaxing activities include horseback riding, fly fishing, and getting pampered at the spa. Likewise, not to miss is a sampling of the famed South African wines and the native delicacies.

4 Top Beaches to Visit in Europe

Smugglers Cove

To most adventure seekers and ordinary travellers, Europe is among the dream destinations, what with its old gothic churches, medieval castles, grand museums, and delicately-designed gardens.  However, other than these great tourist attractions, the continent also offers some of the most stunning beaches that feature ivory shores, blue waters, and wonderful sunset views. Here are some of them.

Shipwreck Beach – Zante, Greece

Despite its name, Shipwreck beach is among the most stunning beaches you can find in Europe. It attracts a lot of visitors on a daily basis, especially from 11:00 in the morning until about 3:00 in the afternoon. So if you want to enjoy the beach without the busy crowd, you may want to come early in the morning or later in the afternoon when most visitors have already left. The place offers turquoise blue waters and white sandy beaches ideal for swimming and sunbathing.  The main highlight of the secluded cove, however, is the smugglers’ shipwreck that rests on the shore. The vessel was swept ashore by a violent storm while it was being pursued by the navy. Today, tourists flock to the beach to see the shipwreck.

Curonian Spit, Lithuania

The Curonian Spit is a narrow 98 km. stretch of sand dune standing right in the middle of the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon. It has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. It connects Lithuania and Russia that both serve as gateways to the beach. Visitors will surely enjoy basking under the seemingly endless sun, as well as the clear blue waters, and the golden sands of the beach. The warm water is ideal for fun water activities like swimming and snorkeling. In summer, the sun is up until way into the evening.

Praia Da Marinha Beach Algarve, Portugal

Algarve in Portugal is home to numerous warm-water beaches, the most notable being Praia De Marinha that is situated between Armacao de Pera and Carvoeiro. Considered as the most stunning beach cove this side of the world, it is bound by breathtaking rock formations and cliffs. Soaking in the crystal clear waters or lying on the sand while enjoying the magnificent views are enough reasons for tourists to flock the beach. Snorkeling is also ideal as the place teems with unique marine species. The towering cliffs and mysterious caves are just waiting to be explored.

Zlatni Rat Beach, Croatia

Another highly-recommended beach destination in Europe is the Zlatni Rat Beach that is conveniently located west of Croatia’s Bol Harbor. Golden Horn, as it is otherwise known, is a world-famous sandbar surrounded by lush green forests and blue waters. The half-kilometer stretch of sandy beach interestingly changes position and shape relative to wind intensity and direction.

Other than being an ideal spot for sunbathing and swimming, the beach features marine life diversity and is perfect for diving and snorkeling as well as other fun water activities such as boating, kayaking, and surfing. The more adventurous and thrill-seeking visitors can try exploring the forest trails. The place can get a little bit crowded, though, in summer.

Sydney, Florence, and Buenos Aires: 3 of the World’s Best Tourist Destinations

Sydney Opera House

If you are looking for an ideal destination for your planned vacation overseas, Sydney (Australia), Florence (Italy), and Buenos Aires (Argentina) are three of the best and most popular cities among tourists.  Read on to find out why.

The Cradle of the Renaissance – Florence, Italy

Known as the Cradle of the Renaissance, Florence is among the most amazing cities in Italy. It is famous around the world for its ancient architectural marvels that have stood the test of time, well-preserved through centuries. The city is also home to some of the world’s best art galleries including masterpieces of famous artists like Michelangelo.  With Florence being home to people who love great food, you must be ready to whet your appetite when you sample the city’s mouthwatering delicacies. Florence is also known as a Fashion City so expect to discover the latest fashion trends when visiting.

Following are some of the must-see tourist attractions in Venice: Santa Croce, the biggest Franciscan Church in the country; Boboli Garden & Pitti Palace; Galleria dell’ Academia where you can find very important scriptures and works of art from hundreds of years ago, particularly the 13th – 16th centuries; Galleria degli Uffizi that houses some of the important works of art from the Renaissance era; Campanile, a historic bell tower; Il Duomo, the cathedral of Sta. Maria del Fiore; Ponte Veccio, an ancient structure that was the first bridge built in Florence; and the Baptistery, another popular ancient building. Spend some time exploring the city and you will discover other less popular ancient and modern attractions of the city.

The Paris of the South – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, is the country’s largest and most popular city. Just like tango, the dance that traces its roots to Argentina, Buenos Aires is both graceful and alluring. Known for its rich historical heritage, the city is home to numerous theaters as well as some of the most exquisite European architectural designs.

Must-see tourist attractions in Buenos Aires include: Puerto Madero, the city’s most modern area; Palermo, a trendy destination that is excellent for sightseeing; San Telmo, a town where you can find traces of its rich history through its architecture and structures; La Boca, a delightfully colorful town in the old Buenos Aires port; Plaza de Mayo, the most important political structure in Buenos Aires; Recoleta, an urban center that showcases French-style buildings and architecture; Congress, a stunningly beautiful building made of grey stone; Tigre, a town that offers fun and exhilarating outdoor activities; and Belgrano, popular to tourists because of its excellent restaurants, shopping malls, and other modern essentials.

The Emerald City – Sydney, Australia

The largest and oldest city in Australia, Sydney is best known for the Sydney Harbor that is considered as one of the world’s most magnificent harbors.  The Sydney Harbor offers picturesque and fascinating views of Sydney from the bay.

There are a lot more places to see and visit in Sydney including the Observatory Hill, and Harbor Bridge & Opera House. The bridge is among the best in the world in terms of aesthetics and design. You can climb it to enjoy amazing views of the city from the top.

Why Visit Prague

Vltava River Prague

Today, the Czech capital of Prague is fast emerging as a favorite tourist destination primarily because of the old world appeal and charm it exudes. Situated in Central Europe, Prague draws millions of visitors every year to see the city’s famous architecture and medieval landmarks, and soak in the city’s rich cultural heritage.

From the age-old towers and churches to the cobblestone streets, exploring the city on foot gives the impression of travelling through time. This is particularly true when traversing the Old Town where you can find the famous Church of Lady Before Tyn and the Astronomical Clock which have both been declared by UNESCO as World Heritage sites.

A vacation in Prague will never be complete without visiting the famous Prague Castle, the world’s largest ancient castle. It is one of the most prominent structures in the city and offers a sweeping view of Prague.  There are other interesting attractions in the castle’s vicinity such as the intricate Royal Garden, Castle Picture Gallery, and the St. Vitus’s Cathedral nearby.

Another must-see attraction in the city is the Charles Bridge that connects the Old Town to the Lesser Town. The 500m-long bridge was built sometime in the 14th century.  Baroque statues line the bridge that offers picturesque river scenery. It is best to visit the bridge early in the morning, in time to view the amazing sunrise as the bridge can get crowded and busy during the day.

Also known for its thriving art scene, Prague is home to several galleries and museums like the Czech National Gallery, Czech Museum of Fine Arts, and the Jewish Museum that feature contemporary pieces and the works of some of the world’s greatest artists such as Mucha’s art nouveau gallery and Mozart’s famous masterpieces.

It is best to explore the city’s tourist attractions on foot as you can discover lesser known attractions and take a closer look at the way people live, although public transport options are easily accessible. The main train station can be found in Praha-hlavní nádraží while the Florenc Bus Station, the main bus terminal, is also nearby.

Biking is also a good alternative, although it can be quite challenging to navigate through the cobble streets. Taking the tram to go around the city is likewise a good idea, but it is never advisable to take a cab when touring the city as cab drivers are quite notorious for overcharging tourists.

Depending on how long you intend to stay in Prague, there are tour passes available for tourists. These packages may include bus and tram passes for one or two days, as well as walking tours to some of the more accessible city attractions. Walking tour participants are provided with pamphlets and literature that include an overview of the visited tourist destinations.

The best time to spend a Prague vacation is during the months of May to September as these are considered the “lean” months for tourists. The city offers visitors a different kind charm during this period without the noise and bustle of the busy crowd. Emerging from its troubled history, the Czech capital has slowly reinvented itself as one of Europe’s most stunning capitals and tourist destinations with its massive reconstruction and restoration efforts.