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Valparaíso: Chile’s Painted City on the Sea

August 15, 2017

“Valparaíso, how absurd you are…you haven’t combed your hair, you’ve never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you.” – Pablo Neruda

Valparaiso is colourful, vivacious, chaotic and a little surreal.  It’s grungy, a little wild and the life of the party.  Only 115km from Santiago though, this port-town has to be seen to be believed.

Try as I might to sum it up, sometimes you just come across a description that fits perfectly.  This is Valparaiso to a tee…

Poets, painters and would-be philosophers have long been drawn to Chile‘s most unusual city. Along with the ever-shifting port population of sailors, dockworkers and prostitutes, they’ve endowed gritty and gloriously spontaneous Valparaíso with an edgy air of ‘anything goes.’ Add to this the spectacular faded beauty of its chaotic cerros (hills), some of the best street art in Latin America, a maze of steep, sinuous streets, alleys and escaleras (stairways) piled high with crumbling mansions, and it’s clear why some visitors are spending more time here than in Santiago. – Lonely Planet

Colourful houses perch precariously, crammed in next to each other on the port hills.  Funiculars shuttle locals and tourists alike whilst those that choose to amble the streets are rewarded with incredible works of art, found in the most unlikely of places.

It’s a bit of a mess but it sure is beautiful!

To find your way around this unique city we suggest you join a walking tour to help get your bearings.  The city is fabulous but there are some areas that you probably don’t want to venture into.  Joining a local first will help give you the confidence to head off exploring on your own after the tour.

Good news travels fast and after a few people recommended Valpo Street Art Tours we planned our day around making it to their afternoon tour.  If we weren’t so jet lagged we’d have preferred to join their 10.30am tour (leaving us the rest of the day to explore) but sometimes you just can’t fight your internal body clock so the 3.30pm tour was the one we decided upon.

The tour itself was absolutely fantastic.  Eddie, our guide, was full of knowledge and passion.  He shared with us everything we could hope to learn – from the origins of graffiti in New York City in the seventies to the uniquely Chilean spin locals put on it now.  We came away with an understanding of the materials and processes involved in making this amazing works of art and a massive appreciation for the artists that pour everything into their projects.

Is Valpariso Safe?

It’s fair to say the port area doesn’t offer visitors much – it can in fact be a dangerous part of town.  By all means, make sure to visit the city but keep your wits about you, as you would anywhere.  Try to avoid walking on the flat parts of town when it gets dark and limit the amount of cash you take with you.  Don’t wander the city with your camera around your neck (unless you’re on a tour as they’ll ensure you only visit the safer areas) or your phone sticking out of your pocket.

We comfortably walked from the bus stop to the meeting point of our tour – it took approximately 30 minutes and we felt more than happy doing so.

Once it got dark though we hailed one of the local buses which took us directly back to the bus terminal.  Doing so is easy – just stick your arm out on the main road and jump onto any bus… they all head in the same direction.  You’ll pay 280 pesos for the pleasure and be there in a snap.

Chances are, walking would have been fine but why run the risk?

Getting from Santiago to Valparaiso

Getting from Chile’s capital to Valparaiso is a relatively straightforward process, even with minimal Spanish.  We used this helpful transport guide to get there but for simplicity’s sake, I’ll summarise the journey.

Though there are several spots from which you can catch an intercity bus, it’s easiest to do so at the last bus stop in Santiago city which is also conveniently a metro stop.  You’ll find Pajaritos on the red line, most likely in the direction of San Pablo.

As you exit the metro, simply follow the signs towards the ‘Bus Transfer’ area.  Once there, you’ll find the ticket counters directly in front of you and the buses to your right.  The main providers that run this route (Turbus and Pullman) do so every 15 minutes or so and there were plenty of seats available when we were there so there’s really no need to book in advance.

At the ticket counter we’d suggest asking for one of the following depending on your needs:

“Un boleto de vuelta a Valparaíso, por favor” – a return ticket to Valparaíso please.

“Dos billetes de ida y vuelta a Valparaíso, por favor” – two return tickets to Valparaíso please.

“Un boleto a Valparaíso, por favor” – a ticket to Valparaíso please.

Or you can do as we did and have your request pre-programmed onto your Google Translate app as back-up.  As it turns out, my accent is indistinguishably off so being able to flash my request up on the screen was invaluable (just turn your phone to the side to display it in an easy-to-read size).

Tickets can be purchased one way or return but they are cheaper if purchased at the same time.  We found a one way trip to be 5,700 pesos each but the return portion was only an additional 3000-and-something pesos (sorry, we threw out the ticket – silly us!)

If you do opt for a return ticket, you’ll be given an open-ended one.  When you’re in Valparaíso and are ready to head back to Santiago you’ll just need to approach the ticket desk, pass them your ticket and ask for

“La próxima salida por favor” – the next departure please.

Just don’t forget to get off again at the first major stop, Pajaritos (pronounced pa-ha-ri-tos) ready to catch the metro back home.

Valparaíso is unlike anywhere else we’ve ever been.  It’s gorgeous, a little crazy and undoubtedly real.  This city doesn’t try to hide who it really is, instead it embraces it and we’d encourage you to do exactly the same on your trip to Chile.

Eco Tourism Falkland Islands South America

Rockhoppers to Reindeers – A Wildlife Guide to the Falklands

July 28, 2017

With more penguins than people and an island named after the sea lions that amass on its shores, the Falkland Islands are a wildlife destination like no other.

If there’s one thing that draws people from all over the world to visit the Falkland Islands, it’s the impressive array of wildlife that calls the southern archipelago home. Abundant in supply and diverse in nature, the fauna of the Falkland Islands is on par with that offered in the Galapagos, yet much more accessible and without the crowds to compete with!

Whether you’re a keen birder, a wildlife photographer, or a simply love seeing birds and marine mammals in their natural environment – the Falklands will not disappoint.

Falkland Island Penguins

There are five species of penguins that can be found in the Falkland Islands. The most common are Magellanic and Gentoo, followed by Rockhoppers and King, and less often the Macaroni. They’re all unique and all a pleasure to watch.

Their antics will kept you spellbound for hours!

Magellanic Penguins

Seemingly the most prolific, Magellanic penguins can be found burrowing into the soft peaty earth all over the Falkland Islands. These medium-sized black and white penguins are shy in nature, but if you keep your distance, some will happily pose for photographs. Their distinctive circular markings mean they are easily identified, even while hanging out with the Gentoos on the beach.

Gentoo Penguins

The mascot of the Falkland Islands – the Gentoo Penguin – is slightly bigger than the Magellanic, and much more outgoing. You’ll often find them surfing the waves, or walking the ‘penguin highway’ to their colonies inland. Gentoo penguins are also black and white but their orange bills and pinkish feet make them more closely resemble their larger cousins – the King penguin.

Rockhopper Penguins

Rockhopper penguins defy the clumsiness that penguins are renowned for, by deftly climbing the steepest and sharpest of cliff faces. Confidently hopping from one rock to another, their small frame and pink webbed feet scale the island’s walls to perch on rocky promontories overlooking the sea. Their bright red eyes are framed by a crest of spiky yellow feathers that make them look curiously coiffed (and a little bad-tempered!)

Macaroni Penguins

Macaroni penguins look very similar to Rockhopper penguins and the closely related birds like to hang out together in the Falklands. There is a subtle difference in appearance between the two penguins though.

Macaroni’s are slightly larger in size than the Rockhopper. And their crest feathers are more vibrant in colour and more flamboyant in shape! Macaroni penguins have also been known to breed with Rockhopper penguins, creating a hybrid chick.

King Penguins

The largest of the penguins found in the Falkland Islands (and the second largest penguin in the world), King penguins are also the most impressive to see and hear!

The world’s most accessible King penguin colony can be found just 2.5 hours from the country’s capital, Stanley. Their prime spot at Volunteer Point in East Falkland makes it a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike.

Other Birdlife in the Falklands

With over 219 recorded species of birdlife in the Falkland Islands, I couldn’t possibly cover them all in one blog post, but let’s just say it’s a bird watchers paradise!

I loved seeing the monogamous upland geese fly around in pairs, the cheeky caracara who landed on my camera, the flightless steamer ducks waddling on the beach and the rock cormorants battling the wind as they tried to land on rocky ledges.

The outer islands are absolutely teeming with birdlife. I’m no birder, and yet I managed to spot 25 different species in just one afternoon on Weddell Island!

Here are a few highlights…

Black-Browed Albatrosses

Two-thirds of the world’s black-browed albatrosses live in the Falklands and while a large number of them hang out on the harder-to-get-to Steeple Jason Island, I saw a large number feeding just off Weddell Island also. Their elongated wingspan of 200-240 cm is an impressive sight as they swoop in to land.

Black browed albatross flying over the sea, with onother albatross in background, South Georgia Island, AntarcticaSouthern Giant Petrel

As Jane from Weddell Island put it, ‘the albatross get all the glory, but the petrels are just as impressive’.

With a wingspan of up to 205 cm, they certainly deserve their fair share of the limelight. Effortless gliders, you’ll see these birds all around the coasts of the Falklands.

Striated Caracara

More commonly referred to as Johnny Rooks by the locals, these bold-faced birds are usually seen on the outer islands of the Falklands. You’ll find them wherever you find penguins, as the Johnny Rook is a ruthless scavenger.

Cheeky in nature, they aren’t afraid of humans and will take an interest in anything shiny. I even heard reports of them stealing sunglasses from unsuspecting visitors and a gang almost got away with my camera!

Falkland Flightless Steamer Duck

They may be flightless (due to their short wings), but the Falkland Flightless steamer ducks sure know how move! They use a combination of feet and wing paddling that allows them to move at speed on water. Even if in doing so they look rather peculiar!

“These clumsy, loggerheaded ducks make such a noise and splashing, that the effect is exceedingly curious.” – Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle.

Rock Cormorant

Aside from the comedic value of clumsy penguins, watching the incredible antics of the rock cormorants as they battled huge winds to land on barren cliffs was one of my favourite bird experiences. The skill these small birds show as they expertly hover and swoop will take your breath away – as will the sheer number of them!

Marine Mammals

The Falklands unique location and sparsely inhabited islands make them a magnet for marine mammals of all varieties! Although some are harder to see without the help of a boat, even visitors who don’t venture out into the unruly seas will get a chance to appreciate these majestic creatures.

Sea Lions and Elephant Seals

Sprawled out in the sand, bellies turned towards the sun and flippers lazily scratching their sides – you’ll find sea lions and elephant seals clogging the coastlines of the Falkland Islands.

Sea Lion Island is an obvious choice, with 95% of the Falklands elephant seal population hanging out here, but sea lions can be found on many of the other islands shorelines also.

Watch out as you walk through the tussock – disturbing a sleeping seal or lion may land you in hot water. They can move quicker than you think! But chances are, you’ll hear them before you see them – elephant seals in particular let out a guttural sound warning you of their presence.

During breeding season, males of both species put on a show as they battle for the right to breed.

Dolphins and Whales

The most commonly sighted dolphins in the Falklands are the Peale’s and Commerson’s dolphins. There are a four other species native to the waters surrounding the islands, but they are rarely seen close to shore. I was lucky enough to spot both Peale’s and Commerson’s dolphins while on Weddell Island and they put on quite the show – surfing in the shallow waters just off the shore.

Many species of whale can also be seen migrating past the islands. If you look down as you fly around between the islands, you may just see a telltale dark shadow beneath the waves, or spot a blowhole shooting water high into the air.

Most whales pass by the islands on their migration route, but playful orcas are commonly found off the shores of Sea Lion Island for many months a year. They like to prey on the young sea lion pups, so are mainly present between September to February – when there are plenty in supply.

Introduced Species

Both the Patagonian grey fox and reindeer have been introduced to the Falkland Islands. The reindeer were gifted from South Georgia (who later culled their reindeer population) and the foxes were introduced from South America. They’re only present on two islands – Beaver Island & Weddell Island – and it was while visiting the latter that I laid my eyes on both species!

The wildlife of the Falkland Islands is as varied as it is astounding! I’ve never experienced something so unique, so magical, as seeing so many animals and mammals living in harmony with each other, the landscape, and with the human population of the islands.

If you only need one reason to visit the Falklands, the wildlife is it!

Thank you to Blogilicious and the Falkland Islands Tourist Board for sponsoring Nadine’s visit.  What an incredible experience!

Falkland Islands South America

A Practical Guide to Visiting the Falkland Islands

May 22, 2017

The Falkland Islands remain a real untouched gem in the South Atlantic Ocean.  A true nature lovers paradise, wildlife enthusiasts will be in their element in this southern archipelago.

If you’re well versed on the top reasons for visiting the Falklands, no doubt you’ll be wanting to book a trip there for yourself! But before you go brandishing your credit card, here’s everything you need to know about visiting this serene and spectacular island destination.

When to Visit the Falkland Islands

The summer months of December to February are the most popular time to visit the Falkland Islands. The weather at this time of the year is mild, there are longer daylight hours, and the island’s wildlife is at its peak.

As always though, travelling in the shoulder season also has its benefits. It’s generally cheaper, there are fewer people around to compete for that perfect photo op and there’s still plenty to see and do!

Seal pups start appearing on the beaches from September and consequently, this is also when Orcas are spotted offshore. October is the height of the elephant seal breeding season and a great time to watch these massive mammals congregating on the beach. From October you can find baby ducks and geese, and the the penguin chicks which start appearing in November.

I visited in March – at the end of the prime season – but there was still an abundance of wildlife on the islands.

Migrating birds don’t leave until April, and I spotted many seal pups still clinging to their mother’s sides. It was also a great time to see the penguins. Large colonies stood around moulting and waiting for their plumage to renew, while King penguins were busily looking after their young.

How to get to the Falklands

There are flight two routes you can take to visit the Falkland Islands – one via the UK and the other via Chile and for those looking for a quick introduction to the islands, cruise ships also stop off in this unique part of the world.

The UK flight is a Ministry of Defence* charter flight from Brize Norton near Oxford in the UK (this is how I travelled). Flights leave the UK twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays. Returning flights leave the Falklands on Tuesdays and Fridays. The flight takes about 18 hours including a quick refuelling stop on Ascension Island.

The Chile flight is operated by LATAM airways and leaves Santiago every Saturday – returning from the Falklands on the same day. Flights stop at Punta Arenas, and occasionally (once a month) at Rio Gallegos, Argentina on the way.

All flights arrive at Mount Pleasant international airport which is approximately 56kms from the country’s capital, Stanley.

For your onward journey, you can take a shuttle bus or taxi into town.  It’s best to organise your transport with your travel agent or accommodation provider before arriving in the Falkland Islands if possible.

*Don’t let the military aspect of this flight put you off! Apart from the fact you’re flying out of a military base, the flight itself is like any other commercial flight. There are movies playing and an in-flight service to make the journey comfortable.

You can also visit the islands via a cruise ship, with many boats calling into the islands as part of their southern tour. The only downside to this method of travelling is that you usually don’t get too long to explore and enjoy the islands to their fullest.

What to do in the Falklands

You won’t be short of things to do in the Falkland Islands, but you may be short on time to do them all!

Obviously, watching the wildlife in their natural, unspoilt habitat is an amazing activity that is somewhat unique to the Falklands. From visiting the King Penguin colony at Volunteer Point to watching giant elephant seals battling on the beach – there are opportunities at every turn. But that’s not all the islands have to offer!

Brandish your binoculars for a spot of birdwatching, learn about the Falklands War on a battlefield tour, get creative with your camera, go for a hike to a deserted beach or mountain peak, visit the war cemetery at San Carlos, take a flight to the outer islands with FIGAS or drop into the Historic Dockyard Museum for an insight into the Falklands through the ages.

The Falkland Islands have a lot to offer, especially if you’re happy to go exploring.

Which Islands to Visit

When you arrive, you’ll land on the largest of the Falkland’s 700+ islands, East Falkland. It is well worth spending a few days here, as you’ll be able to visit the King Penguin colony at Volunteer Point, the stunning Gypsy Cove with its resident Magellanic penguins, the lighthouse at Cape Pembroke, the historic settlements of Darwin and Goose Green and will get to know the capital of Stanley.

The most important thing to note when planning which of the outer islands to visit is that very few currently offer visitor accommodation.

The ones that do – Weddell, Sea Lion, Carcass Bleaker, Pebble and Saunders – all welcome guests with friendly island hospitality. They all offer intrepid visitors something unique – from Weddell Island’s resident reindeer population and war remains littering the landscape on Pebble Island, to the masses of seals and sea lions that flock to (the aptly named) Sea Lion Island each year.

Getting Around the Islands

From Stanley airport you can catch a flight to many of the inhabited outer islands or even just hop on a ’round robin’ scenic flight!

FIGAS is the government owned flight service that operates on demand, flying locals and tourists around the islands, whilst stopping off to pick-up and drop-off passengers on the way. Most islands have a grass airstrip and the people who own/live on the island are in charge of hanging the wind wand, and meeting the aircraft on arrival.

Flight schedules are determined the night before the flight and are dependent on demand and flight conditions. From my experience, most flights around the islands left around 8-9am. Although my flight from Weddell was delayed until after 11 due to a passing storm.

Flying experiences don’t get more unique than on the Falklands!

Where to Stay

There are plenty of options to stay in Stanley, from intimate guesthouses to large full-service hotels.

Elsewhere in the Falklands, the choice is limited – often to only one establishment per island. These B&B’s and lodges are checked every year to make sure their accommodations are up to scratch, so you don’t need to worry about quality!

All of the hotels and guesthouses I stayed at were very comfortable. Warm and inviting, with knowledgeable and helpful staff or owners, who would go out of their way to make sure my stay was enjoyable, or to offer advice about what to see and do in the area.

When you stay on the islands, you feel a little like a local exploring – everyone treated me with warmth and made me feel incredibly welcome.

Food & Dining

Something caught me off guard in the Falklands – the high quality of the food offered. I’d read that ‘traditional British fare’ was the norm when it came to eating out, but what I experienced was much better than Yorkshire puddings and mashed potato (although those are good too)!

Everything from the delicate flavours of a Moroccan tagine at Malvina House, to homemade vegetable ravioli in a herby tomato sauce at Pebble Island and a delicious Indian curry made from homegrown vegetables at Weddell Island. Every dinner was a sumptuous surprise.

You’ll find that accommodation providers on the outer islands offer a full board option for good reason – there is nowhere else to buy food!  Fortunately though, in my experience, what you are offered is spot on.

The only supermarket in the Falklands is in Stanley, so stock up there if you’re planning on self-catering.

Internet Access

Most of the hotels, both in Stanley and the Islands have WiFi hotspots.

You can purchase a card from your accommodation to use the internet. Prices vary and can cost as much as £10/hour on the islands, to £15/12 hours in Stanley.

The only island I visited that didn’t have a WiFi hotspot was Weddell Island, but Jane and Martin were very kind in allowing me to use their internet connection in the lodge – as long as I did so sparingly.

Essentials to Pack

  • Camera gear – You’ll need lots of storage for all the photos you’ll take – so make sure to bring backup memory cards for your camera. A 200 or 400 mm lens is ideal for capturing wildlife from afar, and a wide-angle lens will do justice to the amazing uninterrupted scenery.
  • Warm clothes. This is a must, regardless of which season you’re visiting, as the weather can be wild and unpredictable at any time of the year. Make sure to bring plenty of layers so you can layer up/down as needed. There are, as they say, “four seasons in one day” on the islands.
  • Good walking shoes. The best way to explore the Falklands is by foot, so make sure to bring good walking shoes/boots. Waterproof is best for exploring the coastal areas and boggy fields.
  • Medicines. This isn’t the place to get caught out without any of your regular prescribed medicines. There is a pharmacy in Stanley for simple items such as painkillers or cold remedies.

A few last things to know before you go!

All visitors arriving in the Falklands must have accommodation booked and a return ticket paid for. You’re also advised (although it’s not mandatory) to have adequate travel insurance that will cover you should you need to be airlifted out of the islands for medical care. You don’t want to be left with a hefty bill should trouble arise!

Certain nationalities will need a visa to enter the Falklands. To see if your country is exempt, check the Falkland Islands government website. Remember to also review visa requirements for any countries you plan on having a stopover in (i.e. Chile or Ascension Island). Also, as the RAF Airbridge operates out of the UK Ministry of Defence facilities, unfortunately, people of certain nationalities are restricted from flying on this service.

The Falklands also have strict biosecurity regulations to ensure their environment is protected. Things to watch out for include food and outdoor equipment (fishing gear, hiking shoes) so be sure to brush up on the restrictions before you begin packing.

The Falkland Islands are wild, unique and an amazing insight into life as it was many years ago when we all knew our neighbours and help was readily on hand.  Locals are friendly and wildlife is abundant.

It’s just waiting for you to explore!

Everything you need to know to organise a Falkland Island trip. Flights, accommodation, transport, food and more - don't visit the Falklands without reading this!

Thank you to Blogilicious and the Falkland Islands Tourism Board for making Nadine’s trip possible.  All thoughts are her own.

Falkland Islands South America

10 Reasons to Visit the Falkland Islands – A Surprising Delight

May 10, 2017

Have you heard of the Falkland Islands?

An archipelago of over 700 islands located off the coast of South America, with more penguins than people and a feeling of remoteness that can only be found in the farthest reaches of the world? If the Falklands aren’t already on your radar then I’m here to tell you why they really should be!

I recently visited the Falkland Islands, and whilst I was a little unsure of what to expect, the reality of visiting this wild and rugged island destination absolutely blew me away.

There are so many reasons you should visit the Falkland Islands but I’ve narrowed down my top 10!

1. Accessible Wildlife

If watching wildlife in their natural habitat excites you, the Falkland Islands should most definitely be on your bucket list!

Never in my life have I seen such a diverse and impressive display of birdlife in such a small area.

Even non-birders will be impressed by the sheer scale of seeing hundreds of cormorants clinging to the side of a cliff, albatross swarming together to feed at sea, or king penguin chicks peeking out from beneath their parent’s plumage.

Several marine mammals also call the Falklands home for many months a year. Sea lions laze about on the stony beaches, their young pups sticking close by as they learn about the world. Giant elephant seals haul themselves under the tussock, leaving telltale tracks in the sand.

But what makes the Falklands truly unique is that the wildlife here is amazingly accessible. Largely without restrictions, so long as you follow the country code!

2. Local Hospitality

The Falkland Islanders are notably proud of their homeland and their enthusiasm is contagious.

Everyone I met in the Falklands was extremely welcoming and friendly, going out of their way to make sure visitors made the most of their stay. From the tour driver who waited for me as I dashed into the supermarket so I wouldn’t have to walk home in the rain, to the locals who invited me in for a cup of tea and a chat.

You’ll feel like a local in no time!

3. Walking & Hiking Routes

The Falkland Islands are an ideal place for anyone who loves walking and hiking.

Although short on marked tracks, the beauty of walking in the Falklands is that you can pretty much trek anywhere you please. Even for the orientation-challenged like myself, it’s hard to get lost, especially on the outer islands. Just follow your nose while keeping an eye on the coastline as a reference point for where you are.

There’s something very freeing about rambling through the fields of diddle-dee or over sand dunes, not knowing what stunning scene may meet you around the next corner.

4. Amazing Food

Touted as offering ‘traditional British cuisine’ I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by the food in the Falklands. But that’s exactly what happened!

The home cooked meals ranged from a delicately spiced Indian curry and handmade beetroot ravioli all the way to a flavoursome Moroccan tagine. There was something to please every palate.

The outer islands often utilise the fresh and delicious produce grown right in their own greenhouses whilst the ‘full board’ option normally includes a cooked breakfast, packed lunch (to take exploring) and a delicious 3-course dinner.

You won’t go hungry when you visit the Falklands!

5. Photographer’s Dream Destination

One thing’s for sure – you will not be short of photographic inspiration in the Falkland Islands. The sheer scale and accessibility of the wildlife make the birdlife and marine mammals the ideal subject matter.

If you stay still, you’ll often find yourself attracting a curious penguin or inquisitive caracara right up to your camera lens!

The islands are sparsely inhabited, which allows the natural landscape to really shine. You certainly don’t have to be a pro photographer to capture the unique beauty of the golden rolling hills, the serenity of idyllic hidden beaches, or the drama of waves crashing against the towering cliffs. Even the weathered old buildings can turn a simple scene into a work of art.

6. Intriguing History

Talk to any Falkland Islander and they’ll have a story to tell about the 1982 conflict. It’s impossible to visit these now peaceful islands without realising the impact of the Falklands War – not only on the people but on the landscape also.

You’ll inevitably come across the burnt out shell of an Argentinean helicopter, the fractured remains of a fighter jet, or a meaningfully positioned memorial to lives lost.

Even walking along the waterfront in Stanley you’ll become aware of the consequences of the war.  The union jacks flapping in the wind tell of a proud patriotic loyalty to Britain, making it clear where loyalities lie.

7. Unique Landscapes

I’ve never seen anything quite like the landscape of the Falkland Islands.

The unique stone runs flow down the mountains like rivers, creating contrast against the gold-tinged flora that covers much of the hillside. On the outer islands you’ll find postcard perfect sandy beaches, sheer stone cliff faces, pebbled shorelines and rocky promontories – often all on the same island!

No two coastlines are alike.

8. Laid-Back Island Life

There’s something very grounding about visiting such an isolated group of islands in the South Atlantic Ocean.

It’s this isolation that lends itself to the islands embracing a true sense of community. The camaraderie between the locals in the Falklands is something that used to be evident in small towns worldwide but is getting harder to come by.

Seldom does a car pass here without a hand raised off the steering wheel in greeting and crime is almost non-existent.

As a visitor, it’s both refreshing and comforting to witness the way people come together to support and help one another.

9. Penguin Paradise

Despite the wide-ranging display of wildlife, the penguins were my favourite part of holidaying in the Falkland Islands. Watching their antics kept me amused for hours!

You can find five species of penguins in the Falklands – Gentoo, Magellanic, Macaroni, Rockhopper and King.

Gentoo’s can most often be found on the beaches, playing in the surf or huddled nearby in groups, whereas the Magellanic penguins prefer to burrow into the soft peaty earth. You’ll find Rockhoppers perched precariously on the rocky cliff faces (along with the odd look-alike Macaroni) and King Penguins, much like their smaller cousins, the Gentoo, hanging around or on the beach.

In any case, you won’t have to venture far to find the Falkland’s Penguins.

10. Off-Roading Adventures

4×4’s are the vehicle of choice in the Falklands and for good reason!

Roads are few and far between on the larger islands, and non-existent on the outer islands – making it the perfect place to indulge in some off-roading fun.

This is not the type of activity you want to try freestyle though. Conditions can be tricky, and knowing where to locate the gates is an art form in itself! Take a tour with a local driver to get to some of the real hidden gems of the Falkland Islands.

The Falkland Islands are wild, unique and incredibly diverse.  They offer experiences like nowhere else and leave a lasting imprint on those fortunate enough to visit.

No, you won’t find multi-storied malls and towering five-star hotels, but isn’t adventure so much more than that?

The Falklands are just waiting to be discovered.  What are you waiting for?

If you’re considering a trip to the Falklands, you’ll want to check out Nadine’s itinerary – she’s packed in all sorts of inspiration for you!

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 The Falkland islands are remote and intriguing beyond belief. Find out why we recommend visiting this surprising island paradise. Animals galore, stunning views and hospitality from another age - can we go now?! The Falkland islands are unique and well worth a visit. Find out why we love the Falklands and the highlights of this amazing group of islands. Find out why the Falkland Islands should be top of your list! Exciting, diverse and chock-full of nature. A surprising paradise - they're just waiting for you.

Thank you to the Falkland Islands Tourism Board for hosting Nadine on behalf of Blogilicious.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

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These Kiwis are Off Exploring – Nathan and Sarah’s Next Six Months of Adventures

May 6, 2017

Incase you missed the memo, we’re moving on from Abu Dhabi in June.

The last almost-two years have been amazing, eye-opening and of course, at times, challenging.  We wouldn’t change it for the world though.  We’ve loved emersing ourselves in a new culture, connecting with like-minded people, having the opportunity to travel more and jumping into this crazy-fun world of blogging.  I’ve grown, both personally and professionally (I’ve been teaching here in Abu Dhabi) and making the move has been an awesome reminder that at any age, you can set off on a new adventure.

Since our arrival in the UAE in August of 2015, I’ve been to 32 new countries (and Nathan’s not far behind) which far surpasses anything I’d hoped for.

It’s funny though how, at least for me, opening your eyes to the world doesn’t quench your hunger for adventure, instead it fuels it.

The more I see, the more I want to see.

The more I explore, the more I appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to do so.

As we start on our journey home, it’s probably not surprising that it’s with real mixed emotions.

When we first arrived in Abu Dhabi it was with the understanding that we would probably only be here for two years – Nathan’s job is back in New Zealand and there was never any doubt that he’d rejoin the family business.

When presented with the possibily of adding a third year into the mix we faced the difficult decision of staying put in the UAE or heading off again.  Though Abu Dhabi has become our home the call of the unknown and the possibility of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure was too great to ignore – so, off we go on our way in June.

We’re pumped to see our family, friends and cats and to chow down on some New Zealand treats – I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed steak & cheese pies and lamingtons!  I can’t wait to get back to the style of teaching that I love, to spend some time revisiting some of our favourite spots in and around Aotearoa and to walk outside in the summer-time without melting!

I’ll miss the hussle and bustle of living in the UAE though – the sea of kandoras and abayas in the massive malls here, the call to prayer singing out throughout the day, the attitude towards travelling and so much more.  I’ll miss having friends that have started to feel like family, my awesome workmates, dinner dates to PF Chang’s and Chili’s and picking up fresh caramel popcorn at the movies.

As much as we know we’ll miss it though, there are new adventures to be had.

My confession is I fall in love with so many places. I’m always half broken-hearted by goodbyes, and I don’t believe in non-attachment. There’s no passion inside of that. I believe in burning, and long, and I believe we leave tiny pieces of ourselves in every place we’ve loved.

Victoria Erickson

It’s time to fall in love with new places all over again…

So, what’s next for us?


We’ll be making multiple stops in Europe over a fairly short timeframe.  Although we would have loved more time there as so much of our travel recently has been up that way, we thought we’d stop into a few of the major cities that we’ve not seen yet to farewell to a continent that we’ve come to love.

  • Paris, France
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Edinburgh, Scotland (where with any luck we’ll make it up to the Isle of Skye!)
  • Barcelona and Ibiza, Spain
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Zurich through to Geneva, Switzerland
  • Kiev, Ukraine

South America

Having never stepped foot in South America we’re a little clueless as to the details of what we want to see and do but we’ve found plenty of inspiration through our friends and our ever-trusty Pinterest account.

We’ll be flying into Buenos Aires in Argentina before making our way over to Santiago, Chile but from there, who knows?

With approximately six months, we’ll be travelling slowly and working as we go.  We can’t wait to have a little more time up our sleeves to to be more responsive with our plans.

Due to the tight timeframe we normally travel on, things have to be super planned-out to ensure we see and do everything we want – this trip will be significantly more relaxed.  Bring it on!

The following places are featuring high on our agenda (but are anything but a conclusive list):

  • Patagonia
  • Machu Pichu and Rainbow Mountain, Peru
  • Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
  • Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia (salt flats)
  • The Amazon Rainforest
  • The Iguazu Falls
  • Christ the Redeemer, Rio, Brazil
  • A cruise to Antarctia or visit to the Falkland Islands – both of these as much less likely but never say never!

Which of these spots have you visited?  Where would you recommend?  What were your favourite things to do?

We’d love to hear your thoughts as we start digging into planning these trips!

The way I figure, the best way to get over moving on from a place you love is to plan the next adventure…

Thanks to Time Wheel, SCMP, Askideas, Keyword Suggests, Traveler Corner, The Bohemian Blog and World for Travel for providing snaps before we have our own.

Brazil Destinations South America

The Beginners Guide to Rio Carnival – Everything You Need to Know

April 10, 2017

Bedazzled samba dancers parade through the streets, drunken revellers party until the early hours, vendors throw sweet caipirinhas into heaving crowds and a mass of beautiful people dance and sing their way late into the hot summer nights.  If you haven’t heard of Rio Carnival, let me introduce you…

Carnival is celebrated in towns and villages throughout Brazil, but the festivities in Salvador and Rio de Janiero are the biggest and best. Rio is vibrant and exotic and its Carnival is a weeklong parade with sounds and colors turned all the way up. Most foreigners think of Rio when they think of Carnival and it’s no wonder why.

So what actually happens during Carnival?

Quite a lot, actually….

Bloccos are the block parties that cover the city streets, happening simultaneously in every neighborhood, all day, every day, for a week. Bloccos are, in a word, crazy.

Live bands play whilst hundred of thousands of people gather to drink and dance. It ends with the masses parading around with the band. So whether you plan to actually attend one of these or just wander about, you’ll be hitting these every few blocks.

This is the people’s Carnival – the free street celebration where you can wear whatever, drink whatever, do whatever and there are no rules. Anyone can be a part of it – this is what Carnival is all about!

The nightly parades at the Sambodrome are the ultimate Rio Carnival tradition and its claim to fame. Samba schools perform here, which are large dance teams that come from different neighbourhoods throughout the city. They have hundreds of people in each school, and the best schools are chosen at the end of the week.

We were lucky enough to actually be a part of this parade, and danced our elaborately dressed selves along the 13-block long stadium, while floats with men and women in incredible costumes followed alongside. The parade takes place on each of the 5 nights of Carnival, is completely packed, and doesn’t end until 5am or so.

Rio Carnival 2017What You Need to Know to Prepare for Carnival

1. Safety

Rio can be dangerous but if you are sensible and keep your wits about you, you’ll be fine. Stash your cellphone somewhere where you can feel it and take only cash – separate it into a few different pockets. If you are going to watch a parade at the sambadrome, know that it’s not the nicest area and that it can be dangerous at night and on weekends.

During Carnival there will be crowds and lots of police, but always try to stay in a group and be wary.

Don’t let safety put you off for even a second – we didn’t have any problems at all – just be a sensible traveller.

2. Transportation

During Carnival, the entire city is completely deadlocked and the streets are closed for parties. Choose your accomodation wisely – book accomodation close to the metro as there is no way you will be able to get to the city centre any other way.

3. Weather

Rio is stinking hot. During Carnival it’s one huge sticky, sweaty party.

Most days are over 35 degrees and sometimes it can be hard to find water. A fun thing about Carnival though is that everywhere you go you’ll see handy unlicensed people making and selling caipirinhas on the streets.

If you want to fit in with the cool kids, you can attach a chilly bin to something with wheels, load it up with ice and drinks and pull it around with you all day!

4. The smell

Public urination is a massive problem during Carnival and it stinks. I probably don’t need to go into much detail about this, but….watch where you walk.

Rio Carnival 2017Carnival is rowdy, colourful and completely wild. If it isn’t on your bucket list yet, then it definitely should be.

Happy travels!

Off to Carnival?  Pin this post for future reference…

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