Better late than never. Here we present a 12-minute video slide show of a NABS trip to Tassili National Park, Algeria, in 2006. Photos by Ray Millar, who had previously visited the area in 2003 so some photos from that trip are included as well. Music by Oliver Shanti.
Photos by Mark Berry
Zapato de La Reina (NABSQNO 28R-337392-3121540) is a natural arch in Teide National Park on the island of Tenerife, the largest of Spain’s Canary Islands. It is located a short walk from a parking area at kilometer 50 of the TF-21 road. It has a span of about 14 feet and a height of about 19 feet.
Teide National Park features the Teide-Pico Viejo stratovolcano that, at 3,718 m, is the highest peak in Spain. Rising 7,500 m above the ocean floor, it is regarded as the world’s third-tallest volcanic structure.
At least two other of the Canary Islands harbor arches as well. Los Arcos de Graziola is found on the island of Graciosa (photo here). There are many more, primarily collapsed lava tubes, around the coast of the island of Lanzarote.
This feature known only as “Natural Arch” is carved out of Palliser limestone on the southwest slope of Mount Perce in the Canadian Rockies. The arch is located along the upper reaches of Blue Creek in northern Jasper National Park. These photos and most of the information is courtesy of Brian Catto.
The coordinates are 11U 375960 5922070 (or at least very close) and our best estimate of the span from analysis of Brian’s photos is 150 plus or minus 15 feet. The photo below is taken near Caribou Inn Hiker Camp, the closest hiker campground to the arch.
There is a horse camp called Natural Arch right at the base of the slope below the arch, but the arch cannot been seen from the horse camp. Brian climbed up near the arch and a closer photo is below. If you click for the larger version you can see two mountain goats on top of the arch (upper right of the opening).
The shortest route to the arch involves 40 miles of trail one-way from Rock Lake using the Willow Creek, North Boundary, and Blue Creek trails. The trails are open to hikers and horseback riders. Brian hiked in but reported that he thought the horse camps were nicer than the hikers camps. A backcountry camping permit is required from the Jasper National Park trail office.
This area of the park is closed to all human use from November through February as part of Parks Canada’s woodland caribou recovery plan. The trail up Blue Creek receives little to no maintenance and a trail bridge washout requires a stream ford which would be difficult before late in the season (late August and September). Brian describes the trip as requiring a lot of “planning, route finding, and determination.”
The Natural Arch and Bridge Society is indebted to Niklaus Stöcklin for reporting a natural arch in Kazakhstan. The arch is located at 39T 675930 4878720 and has a span of 40 feet.
The arch is near the city of Aktau, which is located on the east bank of the Caspian Sea. The name means “white mountain” in Kazakh, which may be due to the white cliffs that overlook the Caspian. The arch itself is in white cliffs about 40 km east of Aktau.
Natural Arch and Bridge Society member Ray Millar visited Libya in 2008 and offers this 9-minute video slide show of his trip, which includes a bunch of natural arches on the Akakus Plateau.
By Toru Moriyasu
I am a NABS member from Japan and I greatly enjoyed meeting other NABS members at the 2015 NABS Rally in Escalante. Japan is an island country, so there are many sea arches here, and I would like to share some of them. Generally, they are not very large.
NABSQNO 54S-392039-3885693 is an arch rock near Ukishima in Chiba Prefecture. There is a shrine on the Ukishima island next to the arch rock, and we can land there once in a year when a sacred festival is held.
NABSQNO 54S-374119-3888470 is Umanosedoumon in Kanagawa Prefecture. This area is a bathing beach and in summer many people visit here to enjoy swimming. The photo below is the top of this arch. It is prohibited to walk on it.
NABSQNO 54S-295596-3851220 is the sea cave Tensoudou, with a tour boat going under the arch.
NABSQNO 53S-531185-3727842 is Engetsuto in Wakayama Prefecture. The span of the opening is about 9 meters and the height of the entire rock is 25 meters. This area is a famous tourist resort, with many tourists in high season.
Famous Azure Window in Malta collapsed during a storm on March 8, 2017. Not only did the lintel itself collapse, but the entire outer column fell into the sea.
The arch was considered at risk of collapse and walking across the arch was prohibited only last December. And in January, a slab of rock fell off a lateral face of the outer column during high seas.
The spectacular arch was featured in many movies, including Game of Thrones. Some history of partial collapse can be seen in these movies. In the scene below from the 1981 movie Clash of the Titans, the underside of the arch is flat.
In the scene below from the 2002 movie The Count of Monte Christo, it can be seen that the underside of the lintel has fallen to create a more arced shape.
Here is a 16-minute video slide show by Ray Millar:
The photo below shows two large natural arches at Legzira Beach, Morocco, in the Province D’Agadir about 10 kilometers north of Sidi Infi.
The arch in the foreground, NABSQNO 29R 391178 3257234 with an estimated span of 60 feet, collapsed on September 23, 2016. The remains are shown in the photo below.
The remaining arch, with an estimated span of 90 feet, still stands. Our own Guilain Debossens stands by the arch in the photo below.
A special thanks to Josh Summers of Far West China for providing this update and photos.
Shipton’s Arch in China is one of the world’s giant arches and is already described in some detail on the NABS website. What’s new is that a wooden walkway has been built to provide easy access to view the arch. The 3-minute video below shows the new access (note that when the video states the height of the arch is 1500 feet, that does not refer to the opening itself, which is 1200 feet high).
Shipton’s Arch is located in the mountains northwest of the city of Kashgar, part of China’s far west province of Xinjiang. For the first decade following the 2000 National Geographic expedition that re-discovered the arch, foreign travelers began to request a visit to the arch with local travel agencies. Special arrangements had to be made and at first many of the agencies had no idea what the foreigners were talking about—a proper name in Chinese wasn’t given to the arch until the late 2000s (the name is variously transliterated as “Toshuk Tagh“ or “Tushuk Tash“ in the Uyghur language or Ātúshi tiānmén in Chinese).
These pioneering travelers, including Ray Millar of NABS, talk about an arduous climb that included a 4-wheel drive vehicle, a local guide and a number of rickety ladders.
All of that—for better or worse—has changed.
A new road leads from the highway to a new visitor’s center right next to the trail head. Guides are no longer necessary and the ladders have been replaced by strong staircases. The 1.8-mile trail to the arch is still a tiring climb that requires a certain level of fitness from those that visit. However, it’s no longer the dangerous expedition it once was.
To make your own visit to Shipton’s Arch, all you need to do is arrange transportation from Kashgar for the day. This can be done either through a travel agency or by hiring a taxi off the street. For the latter, you can use the local Uyghur or Chinese (Mandarin) name, or bring a photo so you can point to it.
Hired transportation, depending on the type of car and season, can cost anywhere from 500-800 Yuan per day ($75-$120), so it’s best to get a group together if possible.
Once you reach the visitors center, which can take 1-2 hours of driving, you will be required to purchase an entrance ticket. They point you on your way and off you go!
Josh recommends bringing water and snacks since there is no place to stop and buy this during your trip. He also suggests that many tour companies offer the option to either arrive super early or stay late to see the sunrise/sunset and says it’s gorgeous. The only problem is hiking in the dark, so bring good flashlights.
NABS member Josh Summers is a writer, musician and entrepreneur who currently resides in Urumqi, capital of China’s western province of Xinjiang. He has been traveling and writing about this region since 2006 and has no plans to stop in the near future. You can find his original blog on this subject here.