This is Faith Lapidus.
And this is Steve Ember with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we bring you the second of three programs about beautiful and unusual places in our world. Last week, we told about structures built hundreds or thousands of years ago. Today we tell about some of the great natural Wonders of the World. We do not have time to visit all these places, but here are a few from several different countries.
We begin our program today high in the southeastern mountains of Venezuela. Water falls from a mountain called Auyan-tepui or Devil Mountain. The water falls from a height of nine hundred seventy-nine meters. It ends in an area called Devil’s Canyon. The water begins to fall in a tightly controlled stream. However it ends in a beautiful white cloud of water spray.
This waterfall is the highest in the world. The local native people called it the Churun Meru. It is now called Angel Falls. An American pilot named Jimmy Angel saw the beautiful waterfall for the first time in the nineteen thirties. He was flying alone in a small airplane looking for gold when he saw water falling from a great height. Some time later several friends said the waterfall should be named after Jimmy Angel.
A small airplane is still the best way to enjoy this beautiful sight. You can also visit the area under the falls after a three-and-a-half-hour boat ride and a one-hour walk through the jungle. And you can see Jimmy Angel’s little airplane if you visit Venezuela. It is considered a national treasure.
From a waterfall in Venezuela, we travel to another mountain. This one is in Japan. It is one of the most photographed mountains in the world. It is Mount Fuji on the island of Honshu. The Japanese call it Fujisan and they say it with love and honor.
Mount Fuji is a sleeping volcano about three thousand seven hundred meters high. It is the tallest mountain in Japan. Since ancient times, the Japanese people have considered it a holy mountain. It has also been the favorite subject of thousands of artists. Its picture has even appeared on Japanese money.
Mount Fuji is an almost perfectly shaped volcano. A crown of white snow covers the top of the mountain most of the year. Mount Fuji seems to rise sharply out of the ground into the shape most recognized as a volcano.
A large area is missing from the side of the mountain. This is a result of its most recent explosion in seventeen-oh-seven. But the missing part of the mountain does nothing to decrease its beauty.
Mount Fuji is much easier to enjoy than Angel Falls in Venezuela. On a clear day people can see it from both the major cities of Tokyo and Yokohama. The easiest way to see the famous mountain is on a train from Tokyo to Osaka. Or you could climb the mountain to get an even better look. Thousands of people climb Fujisan each summer.
Next, we travel to the desert of the southwestern United States. In fifteen forty, Spanish explorer Garcia Lopez de Cardenas was searching this desert area for gold. The desert area is almost flat, like a table.
His exploration team had been traveling north from Mexico for several weeks. Suddenly one morning he and his group came to an area that stopped their exploration. They could not continue. In front of them was a huge hole cut in the ground.
Most of this canyon was more than one thousand two hundred meters deep. It was more than three hundred kilometers long. This huge deep canyon extended as far as the explorers could see. It was very beautiful. The sunlight made deep shadows and seemed to change the shape of things every minute. The colors also changed with the movement of the sun and clouds. Often, some areas of the deep canyon appeared bright red. Other times they were a deep brown or purple.
The exploration team tried for three days to reach the river far down in the canyon. They failed. They could also see no way to move around the huge canyon. A lack of supplies forced Captain Garcia Lopez de Cardenas to return to Mexico.
That beautiful deep canyon is the Grand Canyon. It is a National Park that includes an area of almost five hundred thousand hectares. It is one of the most studied natural areas in the world. The high canyon walls are a record of the past written in rock. Explorers have found fossils of ancient creatures near the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
People can see many kinds of animals in or near the great canyon. These include large deer. They do not fear the people who come to visit the Grand Canyon. The canyon, its animals, plants and rocks are protected in this special place.
The Colorado River is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The river took several million years to cut the deep canyon into the face of the Earth. It is still doing this today.
Visitors today do not have a problem reaching the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the great Colorado River. Many people take long exciting trips in rubber boats on the river.
Millions of people from around the world visit the Grand Canyon National Park each year. Many stay for less than a day. However, people leave with the memory of this beautiful natural wonder that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Next we travel across the Pacific Ocean. Our next natural Wonder of the World is the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It extends more than two thousand kilometers along Australia’s northeast coast. It is the largest group of coral reefs in the world.
A reef is a limestone formation that is usually under water or just above it. The coral that forms the reef is made of the hardened remains of dead sea animals called polyps. Thousands of millions of living coral polyps and plants are attached to the reef. The coral is many different colors. The water near the reef is usually clear and visitors can see far down into the ocean.
This natural formation supports many different kinds of fish, sea turtles, crabs, giant clams, birds and other wild life.
Millions of visitors from around the world come every year to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef. Many people visit in boats that have glass bottoms so they can see the fish and the colorful coral. Others swim among the fish using underwater breathing equipment.
Swimming along the reef is fun. But it can also be dangerous. The huge great white shark is one of the creatures that swims near the reef.
|Part of the Great Barrier Reef as seen from space|
Scientists believe the Great Barrier Reef is about thirty million years old. However, in recent years, people have caused problems for the reef. Some took coral from the reef. And boats dumped garbage or human waste.
Now the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, an agency of the Australian government. Visitors are told it is against the law to collect any of the limestone or coral or to damage the reef in any way.
Laws prevent oil companies from drilling for oil anywhere near the reef. The Australian government has also worked to make sure nothing is placed in the ocean that would harm the great reef. Scientists are working to make sure that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef remains healthy and a true Wonder of the World for years to come.
We would have liked to have enough time to tell about other great wonders of the world -- Victoria Falls, for example. This huge waterfall in southern Africa is on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. Another great waterfall brings visitors to the border area between the United States and Canada. They come to see the famous Niagara Falls.
We also wanted to tell about the huge volcano that exploded near the Island of Krakatoa in Indonesia. And the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest in Nepal, should be on any list of natural Wonders of the World.
It is easy to visit most of these great natural wonders if you have a computer. If your computer can link with the Internet system you too can enjoy these beautiful sights. Have fun exploring.
This program was written by Paul Thompson. It was produced by Jill Moss. This is Faith Lapidus.
And this is Steve Ember. Join us again next week when we bring you the third part of our Wonders of the World series on EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.