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Saturday, October 22, 2011

More Australian home owners switch to renting

AN alarming number of home owners are ditching the white picket fence and opting to rent under financial strain.

One in five home owners dropped out of ownership from 2001to 2009, double the rate for Britain, a new study shows.

While just over half later moved back into the property market, many became reliant on rental assistance or public housing, suggesting that adverse circumstances such as financial pressures, divorce and high housing prices played a part.

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology survey was based on the housing histories of thousands of Australians over nine years.
It found that former owners who did not return quickly to the property market were more likely to enter public housing or qualify for Commonwealth rent assistance than long-term renters.

Why the shift?

Household affordability differentials appears to be shaping this new social form.
This year, Australia has taken the unenviable title as the second most unaffordable housing market in the world.

Australia featured eight of the top 20 markets in which housing is ranked as being "severely unaffordable", according to the 7th Annual Demographia International Housing Affordability.

The survey found that Sydney was the world’s second most unaffordable city, Melbourne sixth and Adelaide 18th.

The remaining capitals all feature in the top 50 with median house prices more than six times the average salary compared to the accepted international standard of three times annual income.
Not only is Australia the most unaffordable housing market in the English speaking world, but it has also recorded a shock rise in mortgage defaults this year.

Investment services firm Moody's said the rate of mortgage holders nationwide failing to meet their repayments rose from 1.36 per cent to 1.67 per cent between March and June.

Meanwhile, the number of homeowners facing mortgage stress jumped to 25 per cent last month from 21 per cent in June, mortgage insurance provider Genworth Financial said in its monthly Homebuyer Confidence Index.
Rental vacancies slipped to 1.8 per cent from 1.9 per cent, it reported. 

Salvors pump another 60 tonnes off stricken oil container ship Rena in New Zealand waters

NEW Zealand salvors have pumped another 60 tonnes of heavy oil off the stricken container ship Rena overnight and will continue their operations through good weather today.

The grounded cargo ship remains broken but stable on Astrolabe Reef off Tauranga as salvage teams work to empty the vessel's fuel tanks of about 1140 tonnes that remain.

Maritime New Zealand salvage unit Manager Bruce Anderson said on Friday the pumping operation was making slow but steady progress.
"The overnight crew will be replaced this morning and pumping will continue today," he said.

"The salvage crew also intends to do sounding tests on the tanks which will provide us with a more precise figure of how much oil remains."

The pumping attempt is just the second since the Rena first grounded on October 5, triggering a marine disaster bigger than anything New Zealand has ever faced.
About 90 tonnes was removed before storms forced salvors to abandon the ship on Monday.

An estimated 350 tonnes had spilled into waters off the Bay of Plenty coast and spread up towards East Cape where oily debris has been sighted at Te Kaha, Waihau Bay and Lottin Point.

"We are seeing a lot of debris from the containers washing up in the eastern Bay of Plenty," national on-scene commander Alex van Wijngaarden confirmed.
He said today's volunteer efforts would focus on clean-ups at the Mount Maunganui's main beach, nearby Papamoa and at Maketu and Waihau Bay further to the east.
"As always, we ask members of the public to work with the response teams to ensure a methodical and safe clean-up," Captain van Wijngaarden said.

Beaches in and around Mount Maunganui would remain closed for swimming and surfing as more oil drifts in, he said.
However, the main Mount Maunganui Beach will stay open for walking.
Fine weather is expected for the long weekend, assisting salvors and clean-up crews.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

National Parks of Nepal:

Bardia National Park

The Royal Bardia National Park was established in 1988, and covers an area of 968 sq. kilometers. It is located in the Far-west Nepal , to the east of River Karnali. It is the largest park in the Terai lowlands. The park is for the most part covered with Sal trees. The area is marked by a wide variety of plant life in its grassland, savanna and riverine forests. Wildlife includes the one-horned rhino, tiger, black buck, gharial crocodile, snakes, lizards and 200 species of birds. 

Chitwan National Park
Nepal 's first and most famous national park is situated in the Inner Terai lowlands of Chitwan. Covering an area of 932 sq. kilometers the park includes hilly areas of the. Parts of the park are 
Shivalik Range covered by deciduous trees. Parts of the park are floodplains of rivers Narayani, Rapti, and the Reu, covered by dense tall elephant
grass, forests of silk cotton, acacia and Sisam trees. Royal Chitwan National Park was officially established in 1973 and included as World Heritage Site in 1984. 

The park in Chitwan is shelter to the last endangered Asian species like the one-horned rhinoceros and the Royal Bengal tiger. Other animals found here are the leopard, sloth bear, wild boar, rhesus monkey, grey langur monkey, wild dog, small wild cats, bison, the four species of deer and other small animals. Marsh crocodiles inhabit the swampy areas. The Gangetic crocodile that only feed on fish, are found in a stretch of the River Narayani. Also found here is one of the four species of fresh-water dolphins.

Chitwan park is also home to 450 species of bird and hence is ideal for bird watching. Some of the resident specialties are woodpeckers, hornbills, Bengal florican, red-headed trogons, waterfowl, Brahminy duck, pintails and bareheaded geese. In summer the forest is alive with nesting migrants such as the fabulous paradise flycatcher, the Indian pitta and parakeets.          

Langtang National Park

Langtang National Park was established in 1976. It covers an area 
of 1,710 sq. kilometers. It is located in the Central Himalayas and is the nearest national park from Kathmandu . Langtang encloses two river areas. It has some areas of subtropical forest, temperate oak forest and pine forests. It also includes alpine scrub and grasses. Plants include blue pine, hemlock, spruce and oak. Wildlife includes wild dog, musk deer and Himalayan black bear. The Himalayan red panda is the resident mascot of Langtang. The Langtang region is a very important transit route for migratory birds.

Sagarmatha National Park
The Sagarmatha National Park in Northeast Nepal includes the highest point on earth, Mt. Everest at 8,848 meters and other mountains Lhotse Shar, Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam, Pumori, Kangtega, Gyachung Kang, Thamserku and Kwangde. Sagarmatha National Park is 1,148 sq. kilometers in area consisting of upper areas of rivers Dudh Koshi, Bhote Koshi and Imja Khola. The rugged region with deep gorges and glaciers is locally called Khumbu, and is home to the famous Sherpas. The park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979. 

Trees such as rhododendron, birch, blue pine, juniper and silver fir are found up to an altitude of 4,000 meters that give to scrub and alpine plants. In late spring and summer, the hillsides around the villages of Namche Bazaar, Khumjung, Thyangboche and Thame are splashed with the colors of different species of rhododendron in bloom. Animals most likely to be seen in Sagarmatha are the Himalayan tahr, ghoral, musk deer, mouse hare, weasel, jackal, Himalayan black bear, wolf, lynx and snow leopard. Birds commonly seen are Impeyan pheasant, blood pheasant, snow cock, snow pigeon, red billed and yellow billed chough, Himalayan griffin vulture and lammergeier.   

Shukla Phant Wildlife Reserve
This reserve was established in 1976. Its area is 175 sq. kilometers. This reserve lies in the flood plains of the River Sapta Koshi in Mideast Nepal , and is a favorite spot for bird enthusiasts. The reserve's vegetation includes spreads of tall grass and patches of Sissoo forest. The last surviving herd of wild buffaloes in Nepal is found here. Other species include wild boar, hog deer, spotted deer and blue bull called Nil Gai. A total of 280 species of birds, including ducks, ibises, egrets, herons and floricans, are recorded here. This area is extremely important for migratory birds. Other animal species include the crocodile, gharial and the Gangetic dolphins. Commercial fishing is also an important activity here.           

Rara National Park

 Rara National Park was established in 1976. It covers an area of 106 sq. kilometers. This park is located in Northwest Nepal. The centerpiece of this park is the pristine Rara Lake. The park mainly covered by coniferous forest. Trees include blue pine, juniper and spruce. Wildlife includes musk deer, leopard, black beer and ghoral. Snow trout is the only fish recorded in the lake. Birds include grebe, snow cock, kalij pheasant, chakor and partridge

Shukla Phant Wildlife Reserve
 The Royal Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve was established in 1976, and is located in the southern part of Far-west Nepal. The reserve is a prime habitat for swamp deer. Other wild animals include wild elephant, tiger, hispid hare and blue bull. Birds of 200 different varieties, including the rare Bengal florican, are found here. Python, cobra, monitor lizards and crocodiles are also found here.

  • Annapurna Conservation Area
  • Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve
  • Kanchanjunga Conservation Area
  • Khaptad National Park
  • Rara National Park
  • Shey-Phoksundo National Park
  • Makalu-Barun National Park
  • Royal Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve
Parsa Wildlife Reserve.          

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Everest Base Camp trek

Everest Base Camp trek: 13/18 days

Everest Base Camp Trek in the Everest region follows the famous expedition route to the Mt .Everest through Sherpa villages. Everest Base Camp trek reaches to the walking peak Kalapatthar and to the Everest Base Camp. Everest Base Camp Trek provides an excellent view of those highest peaks in the Everest area. Beside the mountains, Himalayan glaciers, Lakes and also unique Sherpa culture dominated by Buddhist religion are found in the Everest area. Also Gokyo Ri in the Gokyo valley provides nice view of Mt .Everest and many mountains in the Everest region. Gokyo Lake- Cho La pass 5320m., Renjo La pass 5420m. Trekking are some of many trekking routes in the Everest region.

An outline itinerary:
Day 01, Arrival to airport, transfer to hotel. Our representative will pick you up from the airport and transfer to hotel. Depending upon your arrival briefing about the tour plan. Day02, Sightseeing in Kathmandu. We visit the best of Kathmandu, including Pasupatinath, entre for the Hindu , Baudhanath, the Tibetan Buddhisst pilgrimage centre and Soyambhunath, Buddhist temple (locally called monkey temple).
Trekking plan:
Day03 Upon your flight time (usually early morning) transfer to Airport. Fly to Lukla.Trek commence to Phakding or Monju.2880m.
Day04 Trek to Namche Bazzar.3440m.
Day05 Rest day for acclimatization.3440m.
Day06 Trek to Tyngboche.Visit Tyngboche monastry.3790m.
Day07 Trek to Dingboche.4420m.
Day08 Rest day for an acclimatization. Hike to Nagarjung hill 5000m.
Day09 Trek to Labuchce.4900m.
Day10 rek to Gorakshep.Visit Everest Basecamp, overnight at Gorakshep.5100m.
Day11 Early morning excursion to Kalapatthar 5545m..Trek to Pheriche.4210m.
Day12 Trek to Tyngboche.3790m.
Day13 Trek to Manju.2880m.
Day14 Trek to Lukla.2850m.
Day15 Fly to Kathkmandu. Visit Bhaktapur and Patan (An ancient kingdom).
Day16 Departure

Annapurna circuit trek

Basic highlights of the trek:

A famous walking trail, classic tea houses , great mountain views, trekking in the world's deepest gorge and one of the highest passes Thorong La (5416m) accessible to trekkers. Spectacular views of Annapurna montain range and Dhaulagiri mountain. Natural hot springs. Sunrise and sunset from the Poon Hill viewpoint. Natural beauty, vibrant indigenous rhododendron and the colorful local culture, diverse tradition from the different ethnic people living in this region will enchant every trekkers.
Day1 Arrival to Kathmandu, proceed to Hotel. Day2 Explore the best of Kathmadnu.
Day3 Drive to Besisahar / Bhulbhule.
Day4 Trek to Chamje.
Day5 Trek to Dharapani / Bagarchhap.
Day6 Trek to Chame.
Day7 Trek to Pisang.3250m.
Day8 Trek to Manang.3450m.
Day9 Rest day for acclimatisation.3450m.
Day10 Trek to Churilader.4200m.
Day11 Trek to Thorongphedi 4430m.
Day12 Trek to Mukinath over the Thorong La ( 5416m.)
Day12 Trek to Kagbeni.2800m.
Day13 Trek to Jomsom / Marpha. ( beautiful village with Apple farm.2700m.
Day14 Fly to Pokhara.(Ther are every day flights to Pokhara.
Da14TreK to Kalopani.2650m.
Day15 Trek to Tatopani. ( enjoy the natural hot spring). 1100m.
Day16 Trek to Ghorepani. 2850m. If you are not fit enough or too tired, better stop at Shikha.1890m.
Day17 Early morning excursion to Poonhill (3210m.).
Day18 Trek to Nayapool and drive to Pokhara.
Day19 Full day sightseeing.
Day20 Drive or flight to Kathmandu.
Day21 Bhaktapur and Ppatan sightseeing. Cultural dinner in the evening.

Mustang Trek

Upper Mustang - Lo Manthang.

The Mustang, an arid valley occupies the central northwest area of Nepal bordering Tibet. Access to the region is restricted. Trekking is possible with authorized trekking agents who can organize the legal permits, 500$.minimum 10 days 50 $ for extra extension of each days. The permits limit the number of trekkers entering the region, and therefore the area is much less crowded even during the tourist season. This is an arid, treeless Tibet- like region featuring the walled city of Lomanthang - the capital of an ancient Himalayan Kingdom.The legendary Himalayan kingdom Mustang, offers natural caves (an ancient meditating caves), historical and ancient Buddhist festivals, their everyday lifestyle, rituals and practices.
Trek features
Total duration: 19 days (For Mustang minimum16 and Maximum 24 days.)
Trek duration: 11 days
Max elevation: 4,320m. Grading: Moderate/Strenuous
Trek style: Camping/Home stay depending on group size & choice.
Best season: March-October
Trek starts/ends: Jomsom
Accommodation: 7 nights in hotels on bed and breakfast and tented camp with breakfast, lunch and dinner during the trek.
Trip highlights
discover the hidden an ancient Himalayan kingdom
Witness amazing landscape in the arid Mustang valley.
Remote villages and monastery such as Dhee/Yara/Luri Gompa and Tangye etc. could be organized up on client's time available and readiness.
Trip Outline
Day 01: Arrive in Kathmandu and transfer to hotel
Day 02: Explore the best of Kathmandu (1,338m.)
Day 03: Trek briefing and preparations.

Trek days
Day 04: Fly or drive to Pokhara/ visit around.
Day 05: Fly to Jomsom (2,710m. Trek to Kagbeni.2800m.)
Day 06: Trek to Chele (3,050m.)
Day 07: Trek to Symbochen /Geling (3800m.)
Day 08: Trek to Dhakmar (3,820m.)
Day 09: Trek to Lo Manthang (3,809m.)
Day 10: Explore Lo Manthang (3,809m.)
Day 11: Excursions to Tsoser (3,850m.)
Day 12: Trek to Charang (3,570m.)
Day 13: Trek to Syangboche (3,800m.)
Day 14: Trek to Chhusang (2,980m.)
Day 15: Trek to Jomsom (2,710m.)
Day 16: Fly to Pokhara (900m.)

Day17: Fly or drive to Kathmandu.
Day 18: Final visit / farewell dinner.
Day 19: Upon flight time, transfer to airport.

Additional info: From Lo Manthang trek could be done via Dhe/Yara/Luri Gompa and one of the remote village Tyange, but this part is quite strenuous .People have to be fit and desiring to visit remote areas. Extra 2 more days are needed for this plan from the above itinerary.