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Adventure New Zealand

Anything But a Light Paddle: White Water Rafting Down the Kaituna River (and the Largest Commercially Rafted Waterfall in the World!)

April 22, 2017
Rafting the Kaituna River, Rotorua New Zealand

Kiwis sort of have a track record of being a little crazy, and white water rapids seem to bring out the worst of us as seen here and here, however could I really call myself a travel blogger if I didn’t jump on every opportunity to try out as many of the activities New Zealand has to offer?

Probably not.

So when my partner mistakenly tells me I would NOT be gate crashing a boys day out before his best friend got married (keyword here mistakenly), of course I jumped on board for white water rafting in Rotorua, before heading to Cambridge for the gorgeous wedding of our two friends.

I’m going to say it right away, I have not a single regret and thoroughly enjoyed the escapade, however it did leave me a little shaken.

I’m not the biggest adrenaline-junkie around but I do love giving things a shot.  I also have this strange habit of going gung-ho into these sorts of activities feeling no fear, but then once I actually experience them for what they are (e.g. a little bit dangerous) I’m left questioning my sanity.

I have to admit, this was definitely one of those times.

Rafting the Kaituna River, Rotorua New ZealandWe booked with Kaituna Cascades, a really fun group of guys, who look like they truly love their job. We signed up for their highest grade of rafting, a choice I thoroughly recommend.  It’s not overly exerting, it’s not particularly dangerous and the views are beautiful.

The trip takes you down (up?) the Kaituna river, through ‘historical’ rusty old power plants, beautiful inlets of water, cliff sides covered in classic Kiwi foliage and sends you careering through some stunning green water.

But let’s be real here – you’re not going white water rafting for a peaceful row through scenic vistas!

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re the kind of person looking for the next opportunity to be pushed around, thrown about, tipped upside down, and in one unfortunate instance, smashed pelvis-first into a rock.

Ok. Maybe you aren’t looking for that last experience – but don’t worry, I’ve got some tips at the end to hopefully keep you bruised-pelvis free…

For my first experience white water rafting, I would say this was definitely a good fit. While it has a pretty significant waterfall drop at one point (OK, it might just be the largest commercially rafted waterfall in the world!), as white water goes this was pretty easy-going and a good starting point for anyone who, like me, might be afraid of getting the technique wrong.

When it comes down to it, there’s really nothing to it but to listen to your instructor and do as much shouting as you can – and you will shout!

But wait – what was that I said about a smashed pelvis??? Don’t worry, no bones were broken, just a serious bruise and that’s definitely avoidable.

Rafting the Kaituna River, Rotorua New ZealandWhile the guys at Kaituna were awesome and made sure they did the utmost to ensure we all had the best time that we could, I still ended up getting hurt. Which I suppose is what you risk – or even hope for – when doing something like white water rafting.

There were two spots on the trip where they said we could get out and swim; the first being a lovely gorge-like area of the river, and the second being um… right before a waterfall.

So that first one sounds great, right?! And it was. It was like being swirled around in a giant pool – a pool surrounded by nature and people laughing from exhilaration.

That last one, though? Um, not so great. We all jumped at the opportunity to dive back in the water after the fun we had in the gorge!  Just quietly, I think the instructor was keen to get us in too, as he didn’t manage to get us to flip the boat going down the big waterfall.

In retrospect, perhaps this wasn’t the most strategic place to get out of the raft though?

We all found ourselves careering towards the waterfall and despite the instructors’ best efforts to call us back to the boat, our swimming was no match for the current. In the end, one of us went down the waterfall by himself – a fairly scary experience I would say – while my partner and I were instructed to hold onto the side of the boat as it went down.

Now, I’m not an expert – as I said this was my first time rafting – but holding onto a boat as it goes wherever it pleases down a rocky waterfall? It was less than ideal.

Not only did we have the full force of the current, but also the full weight of the boat on top of us.  Both Michael and I were slammed against the rocks and then dragged across them.

Honestly, the experience shook me quite a bit and from there I was kind of keen to get out of the water.

Regardless of this, I thoroughly recommend the Kaituna Cascades guys and I absolutely recommend trying out white water rafting.  I’d just encourage everyone to be a little bit more wary of when you get out of the boat. Oh, and please, PLEASE don’t hold onto the side of a raft as it slams its way down a waterfall.

Just trust me on this one.


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Find out what it's like to go over the biggest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. New Zealand, home of adventure sports should be next on your list! Rotorua, NZ

As this was a last minute plan, I didn’t have my GoPro on me but I would like to give a big shout out to Jacob Laukaitis who went down the river with us and got some awesome footage. He hasn’t put the clips into a Youtube video but when he does you can find them here, or see a bunch of his awesome travel shots on his Instagram account.

Activities Adventure Asia Sri Lanka

Taking to the Skies over Bentota – Paramotoring and Heli Flights in Sri Lanka

April 13, 2017

Whether you’re an absolute adrenaline-junkie or a little more on the cautious side, Bentota in Sri Lanka has you covered.  Paramotoring and helicopters will help you take to the skies – without breaking the bank but with all of the fun!

Though we’d unequivocally recommend giving both a shot, we’ll explain the differences between the two offerings so you can make the right choice for you.

Paramotoring with Sky Club

Paramotoring was what initially took us to Bentota – it was an experience that neither of us had tried before and looked like the perfect combination of excitement and absolute peace in the skies.  We’d both been sky diving before and I’ve paraglided in the past so between the two, we thought we had an idea of what to expect.

Suren and Natalie run Sky Club, the leaders (and only certified operators) in Sri Lanka and they are hands-down the only company to head up on a paramotor with.  They single-handedly brought this sport to the island nation and worked with local aviation authorities to ensure proper regulations were established.  Once they were given the go-ahead to begin flying, the couple trained ex-air force personnel and never looked back.

During the course of your flight, you’ll sit securely in a custom-designed cart.  The parachute above your head controlling your direction (flown by the expertly trained pilot of course) whilst the massive fan behind him decides the height at which you fly.

The whole experience was surprisingly calm – from the effortless takeoff to the smooth landing, there was never a point in time where either of us felt nervous (which says a fair bit as Nathan’s not a fan of heights).

These machines just feel like they were built to soar through the sky – probably because they were!

Even if you don’t think you’re brave enough, we’d urge you to give paramotoring a go – it’s surprisingly manageable, even for the most nervous of flyers and you’ll certainly be in safe hands with the Sky Club team.

Heli Flights with Skylark

Following our paramotoring session (and a quick dip in the ocean), we made our way over to the heli pad and before we knew it were racing over Bentota in what was to be a significantly different experience.

Can you tell from the next picture how we felt about it?

If paramotoring was surprisingly relaxed with stunning views out over the ocean, our heli flight was an adrenaline-inducing adventure that practically had beach-goers on the ground ducking for cover (in the very best of ways!)

In safe hands, we hopped into our ride for the afternoon, suited up with our headphones and took to the skies for the second time that day.

Our flight started with a relaxed tour of the surrounding area, taking in Sri Lanka’s famous architecture, buddha statues and lighthouses before whizzing over the beach in an exciting acrobatic performance.

I’m sure you could ask for the more mundane version of this flight but, really, why would you?

How to Get to Bentota Beach

Located on the stunning Bentota Beach, you’ll find both Sky Club and Skylark within easy reach of each other – you can walk between the two in less than five minutes or, if like us, you go from one activity straight to another, the helicopter will even drop you off right outside the paramotoring spot.  How’s that for a memorable transfer!

Many people choose to stay in Bentota (which is half way between Colombo and Galle) but more so opt for the beaches in and around Galle or the historic city itself.

Trains

If you too are based near Galle, there are many trains that connect the two regions – we found the train station staff to be friendly and helpful and the train system easy to navigate making it a great option.  Second class tickets were only 100 Sri Lankan Rupees each (less than NZD1 or USD0.65 each) and the ride took approximately an hour.  If you’re planning on making the trip, you’ll find train times departing here and returning here.

Helpful Hint:  The Aluthgama train station is less than a kilometre from Bentota so if you find more convenient connections there, don’t be afraid to walk down or catch a tuk tuk – it’s incredibly easy to find.

Tuk Tuk

Before making a move for the beach we checked in regarding the train departure time but managed to misunderstand the time we needed to be back – who knew 3.15pm and 3.50pm could sound so similar?

Left with the choice of either waiting around for two hours for the next train (and missing our snorkelling session at Jungle Beach) or hiring a tuk tuk straight away, we elected to head back to Galle ASAP.  The tuk tuk to get home set us back LKR2,000 in total – though it was a significant price hike over the train, it ended up worth it to be back ready for the afternoon activities we had planned.

Tuk tuks in the area are generally comfortable and safe and heading back by road, we managed to catch some sights we didn’t see on the train.

Though we didn’t intend to hail a tuk tuk for the ride home, the combination of train and tuk tuk ended up working well for us whilst still keeping the costs relatively low.

Two Very Different Experiences, Both Equally Worthwhile…

If you have the time and the funds (and let’s face it, adventure activities like these don’t come any cheaper whilst retaining stringent safety standards), we really recommend you give both of these activities a go.

Sitting in the open air as the paramotor glided above the heads of visitors below was a fantastic experience – serene with a touch of excitement, we couldn’t take the smiles off our faces.  This activity is relatively unique to the area too so it’s a great opportunity to try something new.

By comparison, the helicopter ride in Bentota is chock-full of excitement with tight turns and sudden drops.  It’s not for the faint of heart but is a great way to get your pulse going and to see a little more of the area as you fly further inland.

Why choose one though, when for the price of trying one of these activities elsewhere, you can do both over one of Sri Lanka’s most gorgeous beaches?

It was an easy decision for us!


Looking for adventure in Sri Lanka? Yes you are! Check out paramotoring and heli rides at Bentota Beach - the most affordable adventure activities around! Fly high over Sri Lanka. Bentota Beach offers the most amazing paramotoring and heli rides at affordable prices. Find out why we recommend you take to the skies...

Thank you to Sky Club and Skylark for so kindly hosting us both for the purpose of this review.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

Accommodation Adventure Asia Eco Tourism Mid-Range Sri Lanka

Adventure & Glamping in Sri Lanka – Not Your Average All-Inclusive!

March 29, 2017
Borderlands - Adventure glamping in Sri Lanka

An easy drive from Colombo you’ll find Borderlands, an all-inclusive Sri Lankan adventure camp in Kitulgala, the adrenalin-sports capital of the country.  We normally recoil at the word ‘all-inclusive’ when it comes to our travels but not this time!   Read on to find out why Borderlands should be a must-see on your visit to Sri Lanka…

It’s an amazing thing to leave a place feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

You’ve probably heard about the health benefits of practicing gratitude—how it can boost your mood, help you treat others better, improve physical health, and keep stress and fear at bay. Now, here’s a little trick for how to automatically infuse more gratitude into your life: Spend more money on experiences, and less on material objects.

Real Simple – Amanda MacMillan

Gazing through the shroud of netting out into the Sri Lankan jungle, you just can’t help but feel appreciative.  If experiences are where it’s at, then this one would be hard to top.

Layer after layer of a jungle, from the closest painted in hues of vibrant green, to the last few trees silhouetted against the sky, sitting high on the misty mountain – all laid out in front of us without having to leave our bed. The call of countless birds and lizards, the buzz of insects waking up, the river racing along below us.

How fortunate were we to have spent even a few nights in paradise like this?

Borderlands is about as far from a typical all-inclusive holiday destination as it gets.  Yes, for a set rate you’ll get a roof over your head (and a million dollar view to boot!) and all of your meals included.  Also included are two adventure activities a day with fully trained guides and free WiFi.  Unlike your average all-inclusive resort though, Borderlands has an overwhelming sense of character and a jungle outlook that just can’t be beaten.

Lounging in the chill-out area, we spotted a chameleon in the first five minutes of being there and throughout the day, magnificent eagles soared back and forth.  Even if you’re not on the hunt for adventure, Borderlands is a great choice in Kitulgala – it’s the ultimate in back-to-nature adventure in the true spirit of Sri Lanka.

Our room obviously wasn’t your standard hotel room but it was perfect for the location.  With plenty of ventilation and a fan, we didn’t get too hot and there was a partial sunshade to stop the morning daylight from streaming in – we went with it though, leaving it open so we could see the fireflies and birds out in the jungle.

Attached to our room was a partially outdoors ensuite (with a hot-water shower and toilet) and his and hers hand basins.  We also had a couple of tables, beanbags, fresh drinking water, electrical outlets and lights in our room – though it wasn’t fancy, it was more than adequate.

We’ve sometimes stayed in luxurious hotels and have come away less impressed than we did from Borderlands which says a lot about our experience there.  If you’ve got a good sense of adventure, this place is for you!

Food, Glorious Food!

We arrived at Borderlands a little unsure of what to expect when it came to meals but the food on offer was absolutely delicious!  Hearty and varied, every meal was one to look forward to and served up buffet style, there was plenty to go around.

Adventure is Calling

Though you can stay at Borderlands just to take advantage of the facilities and delicious food, we recommend you book in the full package including activities.  The team is known as being the most safety-conscious in the area (they were also one of the founding companies on the Kelani river) and their care and professionalism really shone through – if there’s one company you want to be pushing your personal boundaries with, it’s these guys.

White Water Kayaking

Our first activity started very quickly with a dunk in the water!  After jumping back in the kayak (and then falling out a few more times) we started to get the hang of keeping our balance in the whitewater.  The whole experience was a blast and with a river that’s currently a grade 2, it was the perfect introduction to kayaking in this environment – the right balance of challenge and security.

Borderlands - Adventure glamping in Sri Lanka kayaking

Advanced Canyoning

Having been on an amazing canyoning trip once in the past we had high expectations from this activity!  Did it stack up?

We started with a hike down to the canyon though gorgeous tea plantations and farmland, our guides stopping to show us a range of local produce (with a few tastings thrown in too).  Once we made it to the river, we received a full safety briefing and made our way to the first obstacle, as double rock slide into the cool water below.  After slipping and sliding down a few rocks we approached the first of our cliff jumps… at approximately 12m high, we decided to save it for the braver souls amongst us and scrambled down the rocks instead.  With another smaller jump (which was much more to our liking) and an abseil our canyoning adventure was almost over.

We had a great time up the canyon with our two guides (we weren’t kidding when we said Borderlands was safety conscious) but wished the experience was a little longer.  Considering they’re making use of the natural environment only 10 minutes from the campsite though, it’s a fantastic introduction to canyoning.

Mountain Biking

From a fitness point of view, mountain biking made the other two activities feel like a walk in the park.

I can’t even recall the number of times I mentally chanted this saying back to myself as we kept pedalling up that mountain…

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger”

– Nietzsche, 1888

Fortunately, our lovely instructor foresaw what was to come and had the Borderlands truck follow not too far behind us up the hill.  We made it about half way before stopping and hitching a ride with him!

At the top, we stopped for a while in an ancient cave, tried to spot the local bats and admired one of the region’s waterfalls – a gorgeous spot and a great chance to catch our breath!

With the choice of going off-road or following the path we took up, we elected to stick to the ‘road’ – better safe than sorry we decided.  With spectacular views and a comfortable pace headed back downhill, I don’t think there’s any doubt that we made the right choice.

Was it physically hard?  Yes.

Were we pleased we did it?  For sure!

Borderlands - Adventure glamping in Sri Lanka mountain bikingBorderlands is about as close to the perfect jungle experience as it gets.  Tropical and wild whilst retaining a touch of comfort and calm, we really couldn’t recommend it enough to those adventurous spirits amongst us.

Leave your hair dryer at home, come with a can-do attitude and get stuck in – you won’t regret it!


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An easy drive from Colombo you'll find Borderlands, an all-inclusive Sri Lankan adventure camp in Kitulgala, the adrenalin-sports capital of the country.  We normally recoil at the word 'all-inclusive' when it comes to our travels but not this time!  Find out why we fell in love with this unique accommodation. An easy drive from Colombo you'll find Borderlands, an all-inclusive Sri Lankan adventure camp in Kitulgala, the adrenalin-sports capital of the country.  We normally recoil at the word 'all-inclusive' when it comes to our travels but not this time!  Find out why we fell in love with this unique accommodation.

Thank you to Red Dot Tours for recommending and organising our stay at Borderlands.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

Activities Adventure Dubai Middle East

Dubai: Home to the Largest Inflatable Water Park in the World!

March 16, 2017
Aqua Fun Dubai - largest inflatable water park in the world JBR

Dubai is a city that pushes boundaries; if they can build it bigger, better, taller or more complex then you can be certain that this city will! This attitude extends to all facets of life, so it’s no wonder that when the idea of building the world’s largest water obstacle course was hatched, that it was destined for Dubai.

Located a short swim off JBR beach, you’ll find exactly that – the world’s biggest inflatable park, which just happens to form the Dubai logo when seen from above.  Would you expect anything less from a city that markets itself so proudly?

After kitting up on the beach, we began the short swim over to the course itself. The first obstacle? Getting on!

Nathan and I had a go at a smaller course whilst we were in Cozumel, Mexico and I found it next to impossible to actually get up on the inflatable from the water. These courses are serious-exercise-business!

Thankfully though, Aqua Fun have installed entry mats and ladders to help those of us who are less athletically inclined. Even with the mats, getting up on the course is a bit of a challenge but it is manageable and as they say, nothing worth having comes easy.

As we climbed aboard, we watched other others brave souls having a crack at the course – the lady closest to use scooting along the track just to slip and fall on the bouncy surface. Surprised, we couldn’t help but wonder if she was a little lacking in co-ordination! As it turns out though, even walking on the flat entrance part of the course is a challenge as we promptly found it, slipping and sliding all over the place.

We spent the next hour climbing, jumping, balancing and swinging our way through a variety of obstacles. Some were physically very demanding whereas others were more about technique than strength. Regardless, they were all great fun!

If we were to have one critique, it would be that the course is little repetitive with the same obstacles repeated at either side of the ‘track’. The advantage of this is that you can have a go on your obstacle of choice without having to wait on other people to clear it – if it’s busy on one side, work your way over to the other. It does feel a little like a missed opportunity to add more variety to the course though (and to actually make it feel bigger) – had there been more options, we would have stayed out on the water longer still. To be fair though, our aching muscles probably couldn’t have taken much more!

We came off the course with a few new scratches and bruises to add to the collection but huge smiles that showed it was all clearly worth it! If you have an adventurous spirit, we’d definitely suggest checking out Aqua Fun. Though you’ll find it easier if you have a good level of fitness and balance, it is within reach of most people, a heck of a lot of fun and a fun dose of adventure in the city.


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Duabi is now home to the largest inflatable water park in the world.  Located in one of Dubai's nicest areas, find out what we thought about it.  Is it worth stopping by Aqua Fun on your stopover to the city of the future?

Thank you to Aqua Fun for hosting us for the afternoon.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

Activities Adventure Africa Eco Tourism planning Tours

How to Pick an African Overland Tour – A Guide to Booking the Trip of a Lifetime

February 26, 2017

Overlanding in Africa is a once in a lifetime trip – one that I had been dreaming of since I was a young girl collecting promotional wildlife cards from the petrol station.  Fortunately for me I was able to live this reality last year, spending seven weeks overlanding  in Africa, exploring nine countries, and getting a taster of what the truly incredible continent of Africa has to offer.

The biggest challenge I faced before for departing on this amazing journey was choosing what overland company to book with.  There are so many options, all offering amazing destinations, different price brackets and similar itineraries and it was a little overwhelming, to say the least.

If you’re looking at overlanding in Africa without spending a fortune, this post is for you!  Read on to find out my top tips on how to select the perfect budget overland trip for you and your needs.

Flexibility

Being flexible with the duration of your trip and your start and end dates, opens up staggering possibilities of trips, routes and options, often saving you money in the process.  Many of the overlanding operators in Africa offer similar routes and itineraries and though it’s hard to tell from many of the websites, a lot of the companies operate a looping system – this means that there is flexibility when selecting both your route and start locations.

Keep an Eye on Your Budget

Really look into every detail of what is included in your overland trip.  There can be a lot of added expense and Africa can be surprisingly expensive (especially tourist activities).  Commonly, overland trips are divided into two payments, one for the tour and one as a local payment (which can be nearly as high as your tour payment).  The local payment is for your day to day expenses in Africa (such as groceries, petrol and campsite fees).  When setting your budget, do not only account for your flights, trip payments, and additional tourist activities, include a budget for nights that meals aren’t included at the campsites (these add up), upgraded accommodation (you will have the opportunity to upgrade from your tent to other guest accommodation in many locations), lunches (if not included in your tour) and any other day to day expenses – small expenses can add up over a period of months.

Check the Included Safari Adventures

The main priority for most people overlanding in Africa is to see the amazing wildlife. Safaris are brilliant – the knowledge of your game driver is mind-blowing and it’s an experience not to be missed.  Unfortunately the harsh reality is a lot of the safaris are not included in your tour payments.  Be sure to research what safaris are included as part of your tour and the costs involved in the game drives that aren’t included.  Safaris are relatively expensive and the added costs of the game drives will quickly add up.

Contributing – Consider How Much You’re Willing to Do Yourself

Traveling at the best of times is exhausting work and an overland trip is definitely not an exception!  The cheaper your trip the more you will have to contribute towards the day to day running of the tour and that can be hard work.  Your responsibilities might include setting up and putting down your tent (you will be a pro in no time), packing the truck with all the gear (tents, luggage and cooking facilities), setting up the cooking facilities, cooking dinner (for a large group), cleaning the dishes and the truck (obviously not all at once, there will generally be a rota).  This can be challenging work, and generally where the tension and conflict amongst the group will playout.  Be aware of these factors and the required responsibilities before selecting your trip – if you’re looking to relax after a day out on the road, then chances are, you’ll want a more inclusive-tour.

Dig Into Reviews

Reviews are always an extremely helpful consideration and whilst obviously these are all down to each individual’s personal preferences, if there is common opinion across the reviews it can really show the difference betweenc companies/routes.  I would recommend reading the reviews with a focus on the company itself, tour guides, outside operators (for game drives) and reliability of vehicles as all of these factors will impact your trip significantly.

 Research, Research, Research

While this can be a tedious task it’s one that will ensure the best adventure for you. I found the best place to start was determining a rough time frame for my trip and the places that I couldn’t miss (for me this was the great migration, trekking with the mountain gorillas, visiting a local village and fitting in as many game drives as possible).  Once I had decided on these factors I started the research process.  What was the best company for me, the best route to take, what was included in the tour and the optional activities?   Eventually by changing my itinerary and starting and ending in different locations I was able to see everything I wanted plus a tonne more.

Reach Out!

Don’t be afraid to contact tour companies for advice and options.  All of the companies I had contact with were extremely helpful and also gave me options that weren’t listed on their webpage.  They’re the experts and are there to help – be sure to reach out.

Ready to Begin Planning your African Overlanding Adventure?

To get you started with your planning, here some popular budget African overland companies.  All have fantastic reviews and offer a range of overland tours to suit different needs and budgets.

Tucan Travel – Absolute Africa – Intrepid Travel – G Adventures

Happy planning!


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A guide to booking an amazing African overland trip - on budget and on point! Booking an African overlanding trip can be overwhelming - this guide will help you come in under budget with an amazing trip!

Activities Adventure Destinations Middle East United Arab Emirates

Jebel Jais Via Ferrata – The UAE’s Newest and Best Adventure Activity!

February 24, 2017

Ras Al Khaimah, with its towering canyons and cloud-peircing mountain peeks feels a little out of place compared to the stereotypical view of the United Arab Emirates.  Dazzling skyscrapers, mind-blowing super cars and endless sand dunes, are all expected, but visitors generally don’t generally associate the UAE with such a natural, rugged beauty.

Those that don’t know are missing out.

Opened at the end of 2016, the Middle East’s first commercial via ferrata offers adventure-seekers a chance to enjoy the crisp, fresh mountain air whilst testing out their nerve traversing Jebel Jais, the highest mountain in the UAE (and part of the Hajjar mountain range).

What is a Via Ferrata?

We’re far from mountaineering experts, so we’ll pass you over to the real pros to answer this question…

A via ferrata (Italian for “iron road”) is a protected climbing route found in the Alps and certain other locations. The essence of a modern via ferrata is a steel cable which runs along the route and is periodically (every 1 to 10 metres (3.3 to 32.8 ft) fixed to the rock. Using a via ferrata kit, climbers can secure themselves to the cable. The cable can also be used as aid to climbing, and additional climbing aids, such as iron rungs (stemples), pegs, carved steps and even ladders and zip lines are often provided.

Want our take on a via ferrata?  Boundless fun!

What Can I Expect from my Day on the Via?

Upon arriving at the meeting point we were greeted by three instructors, all with beaming smiles, and a group of equally adventurous travellers.  After a quick (but more than adequate) safety briefing, we were kitted up, had a practice and were on our way.

This particular via ferrata is made up of three key routes along with three ziplines.  All three ziplines are completed regardless of the course you select (on at 50m, another at 60m and the longest, a massive 300m) but the overall level of difficulty comes down to the track you undertake.

Jebel Jais Via Ferrata RAK route map

The ledge walk is the easiest of the routes (though still presents plenty of challenge and excitement) and what the vast majority of people start off on.  Once you’ve earned your stripes, you’re able to return and have a crack at the middle path (which includes a vertical overhang to pull yourself up over) or the far track, with its 120m vertical ladder line.

We were more than happy to start off on the ledge walk and found it the perfect balance between fun and adrenaline.  There were some pretty major rocks to climb up and over but physically it was definitely manageable which is more than I’d probably be able to say about the middle path (which is considered the most challenging).

We spent the next three hours snaking our way up and over boulders whilst hugging the cliff face.  Secured by a harness and two carabiners every step of the way, our safety was never in doubt but as with all heights, making your way over them (and jumping off on the ziplines) is a mind-over-matter challenge, more difficult for some than for others.

I’m not phased by heights but Nathan’s not such a fan (as you’d have known, had you seen him on the ledge before the final zipline!) but with the patience and support of our three fantastic guides, he saw everything through, having a great time in the process.

There’s no doubt that parts of this course will be challenging for some.  Even if it does push you out of your comfort zone, go with it – there’s no better feeling than proving to yourself that you’re capable of more than you first thought.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon

We’d heard great things about Ras Al Khaimah before our visit to the region but with the addition of the via ferrata, it has become an absolute must-see in the UAE.  Adventure, gorgeous mountainous views and a blast of fresh air, the via has literally been the best thing we’ve done here in the UAE (and we’ve lived here for almost two years).

If you’re paying a visit to Dubai or Abu Dhabi, be sure to get out of the city and hit the mountains!


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Jebel Jais Via Ferrata - RAK's newest adventure activity and the best in the UAE!

Thank you to the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority and Jebel Jais Via Ferrata for hosting us.  We had the most fantastic time out on the via and, as always, all thoughts are our own.

Activities Adventure Eco Tourism Europe Finland

Barks and Recreation – A Husky Snow Adventure

February 4, 2017
Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland, Bearhill Husky, dog sledding review

This week I had one of those moments. You know, when you are in the midst of doing something so amazing that you think to yourself, “girl, you gotta remember this moment forever because this is so awesome” and you try to soak everything up like a sponge so you can replay it again and again in your head.

I’ve not had many of those moments, but driving a husky sled through a silent, snowy Scandinavian landscape with the stars twinkling above me was definitely an experience I’ll never forget.

I arrived in Rovaniemi (that’s Finnish Lapland – and the home of Santa Claus FYI) and immediately booked myself in for a husky sled ride with Bearhill Husky. I did a lot of research before choosing Bearhill as I wanted to support a company who treated their dogs well – and it didn’t hurt that they were ranked number one on TripAdvisor.

I was picked up promptly after lunch and off we went in a minivan into the arctic wilderness. I was childishly excited to find that our guide, Brendan, was also a kiwi – there’s not many of us this far North!

We were taken into a yurt (I love that word!) and were given arctic snow suits, shoes, socks and gloves – everything we’d need to stay nice and warm in the Arctic. After a quick run down of what we were going to be doing, we went outside for a quick lesson….and this is where I am embarrassed to admit that I thought driving a husky sleigh would be like a horse and cart – sitting up the front, shaking the reins and saying giddy up in a genteel voice. It was actually way more exciting than that – driving a husky sled means that you balance on the back of it with one foot on each runner and support yourself using the handle bar. There’s a long metal pedal which is there to press your foot down on to brake – the rest is all up to the dogs!

After just this two minute lesson, we were off! I was partnered with Alistair, a newbie like myself from Australia – he took the reins for the first drive whilst I sat in the sled, bundled up and cosy with a woollen blanket around me. This was perfect as it allowed me to take photos as the sun was setting (the polar twilight starts at around 3pm and lasts for an hour) and my goodness, was it spectacular. We sped silently through snowy forests and over frozen lakes, over icy banks and fields – I felt just like the white witch of Narnia, but unfortunately without the fancy fur robe.

When it was my turn to drive I found it to be easier than I expected, but holy moly was it cold. Temperatures in Rovaniemi often dip below -30 degrees Celsius, so I was very thankful for the arctic snowsuit I had on. Driving was a blast (literally – a blast of cold air) and though there wasn’t as much opportunity to gaze at the landscape I absolutely loved every second of it.  We stopped regularly so that Brendan could check that we were ok and safe, and that the dogs were doing well too – we were well looked after throughout the afternoon.

Unfortunately for us, it was over far too soon – though ideally, I’d have preferred if the sledding never came to an end!

Back at the base we parked our dog sleds and were allowed to play with our newfound fluffy friends (who were gorgeous, friendly and very well looked after) and we also got to spend some time with an energetic bunch of young husky puppies.

Our last stop was for hot juice and cookies in the warm yurt, where Brendan answered all of the questions we had about the dogs.

So, would I recommend Bearhill Husky?

Yes, yes and yes!

I went home absolutely buzzing from the experience and couldn’t wait to tell everybody I knew about how great it was. It was expensive but worth every penny – if you get the chance, go!

It is definitely a once in a lifetime op-paw-tunity (I had to slip one dog pun in, sorry) and it is not to be missed. Fabulous!


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Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland, Bearhill Husky, dog sledding review

Adventure blogging Travel

10 Amazing Bucket-List Adventures – Better Get Planning!

January 15, 2017
Bucket List The World Pursuit

People travel for any range of reasons but for us, it is often the unique and awe-inspiring experiences that each area offers that draws us in.  We recently reached out to a bunch of our fellow travel bloggers to better understand the adventures they’ve enjoyed.

Does bucket list inspiration get any better?


Horseback Riding to the Tsaatan Reindeer Herders in Mongolia – Ze Wandering Frogs

Visiting the Tsaatan reindeer herders in Mongolia is a full-fledged adventure. It requires a 12-hour overnight bus from Ulaanbaatar to Murun, and another 12-hour Russian mini-van ride over bumpy dirt roads and fast rivers to reach Tsagaannuur by Lake Khovsgol. From there it takes anywhere from a one to three day horse ride to arrive at the nomads’ camp (depending on the season and where they camp).

Our Mongolian guide prepared our horses and the packhorses carrying our bags and food for our five-day trip. Mongolian horses are quite different than the horses one might ride in Western countries. Small, partially wild, with a mind of their own. The gear is handmade – a wooden or metal frame saddle with little cushioning, and tack made of thin torn ropes.

We got to know our horses as we rode through fantastic scenery painted with the fall colours of late September. We crossed wide open valleys and pine forests. Our horses struggled stuck knee-deep in the muddy taiga and slid on the steep and rocky trails with barely space for their hooves. I used to own my horse and am usually a confident rider, but I confess this was a challenging ride – not for the faint of heart.

The six-hour trip over these treacherous conditions left us sore all over and eager to arrive. Our guide would confess at the end of the voyage he was glad no one – human or horse – broke a limb…

A short pause as we reached a pass allowed us to stretch our legs and enjoy a panoramic view of the Khoridol Saridag mountains, with summits over 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) high. Luckily the camp was only a short distance away.

We were thrilled to finally see the reindeer and their herders, the famous Tsaatan nomads. They shared their yurts with us for five night, high in the forests. We picked blueberries, I got a hand at (unsuccessfully) milking a reindeer, and we followed them as they grazed on the Ulaan (red) taiga.

The Tsaatan family allowed us to glance into their millennia-old traditions and we loved every minute of our stay. Our horses were never far, and brought us from camp to camp. My mare did not like crossing rivers – an issue when you have so many in the mountains. My husband’s horse did not like rocks and struggled on the rocky trails.

The return over the steep slippery slopes was tricky, and we had to lead our horses by hand. Many times I thought my mare was going to overrun me, or at least step on my feet. We quickly reached the valleys around Tsagaannuur and with the horses eager to return to the barn, we let the horses finished our ride at full gallop – the too-soon end of our adventure to the Tsaatan.

Adventure travellers and lovers of the outdoors, Patricia & Bruno – Ze Wandering Frogs – enjoy hiking, diving and kiteboarding, but are up for any challenge. They have over 30+ and 5 continents under their belts and are currently on a round-the-world trip. Check out where they are now on their Facebook page.


Traversing India by Auto Rickshaw – No Back Home

One of the most difficult, adventurous and life changing things I have ever done was drive an auto rickshaw across India. Yep, 4000km zig-zagging our way from the far south of India to the far north east of the country, in a 3 wheeled vehicle most wouldn’t trust on a golf course, in less than 2 weeks. 

Epic breakdowns, meltdowns, close calls and scary moments filled our 14 hour days, but as we approached the finish line, we would have done anything to keep going.

So what is this all about (and how can I do it too) you must be wondering?  Several times a year, The Adventurists, a group out of the UK, organises (I use that term loosely) a run across India in the name of charity. You sign up, pay your entrance fee, design your rickshaw and raise money for charity before putting your life on the line for one of the most amazing adventures you can imagine. The Adventurists set the start and ending points, provide the rickshaws and then leave the rest up to you.This is not a guided tour of India. There is no life support team to help you out along the way. It is up to you, your partners, the kindness of strangers, which thankfully are plentiful in India, and your own creativity to get you from point A to point B.

Wanting to make our journey more adventurous, we choose a route through the centre of the country, driving through villages that had never seen a foreigner in person before, much less one driving an auto rickshaw! Our driving conditions were less than ideal.

Making our way through chaotic streets filled with people, bullock carts, cows and motorcycles, driving on dirt roads labeled national highways or lost in rice paddy fields being given directions by drunk locals gives you some idea of what our days looked like. But don’t get me wrong it wasn’t all bad. In between constant breakdowns, massive speed humps that appeared out of no where, fuel strikes and a partner who had never driven before, our faces hurt from smiling and laughing so much. Being out on the open road, in charge of our own vehicle, charting our own path through this intoxicating, exhilarating and often overwhelming country was transformative. The astounding diversity found on this vast continent is unparalleled. From the variations in food, language, religion and natural landscapes, we took it all in, savouring every moment.

So yes, it was arduous, both mentally and physically, but it was the greatest adventure of my life and one that should be on every adventurer’s bucket list!

Karilyn is a family travel writer exploring her way through her new home city of Los Angeles with her 6 year old in tow, always planning for their next adventure abroad!  Join the fun on her Instagram account.


Exploring the Bornean Jungle by Boat – Bobo and Chichi

The one experience we will never forget would have to be our visit to Kalimantan, the Indonesian side of Borneo.

We got to enjoy floating through the river through Tanjung Puting National Park’s jungle while seeing the most beautiful and enchanting wildlife.

We saw everything from endangered wild orangutans, crocodiles, giant horn bill birds, tons of different species of monkeys including gibbons and the strange looking proboscis monkeys, and even a snake carrying a fish in it’s mouth to name a few.

Seeing wild animals is no guarantee, but the odds are in your favour that you will see many!

Not only did we get to see native wildlife of Borneo, but we got to witness more beautiful, semi-wild orangutans at all three feeding stations along the river including the famous Camp Leakey where the most important studies on orangutans to date have taken place.

Spending four days living on a boat and sleeping under the stars in the jungle has to be one of the greatest outdoor adventures to experience. It definitely was one of the most unique and memorable travel experiences we have had to date.

Together Scott and Megan are Bobo and Chichi, bloggers with a refreshing degree of honesty.  They’ve traded in their corporate jobs and are travelling the world, with occasional stops to refuel their bank accounts.  Check out their amazing hyper-lapse videos on Youtube too!


Overlanding Through Africa – The World Pursuit

I’ll never forget driving a truck across Africa with my partner Natasha. There is no doubt that it has been the most difficult journey of our travels thus far. The time, money, and effort we have placed into it have been immense. The hardships could be made into a novel whether it was border crossings, legal paperwork, or bone-rattling roads. However, it has been rewarding, to say the least.

We’ve traveled to areas far beyond the average visitor and certainly the average safari goer. We’ve hiked in wildernesses seldom traveled by anyone, and developed a much better understanding of the world we live in. Driving through a country gives you a totally new perspective. Sure, I’ve seen all of the big five safari animals, but what I’ll remember the most is climbing a muddy mountain road in Zimbabwe during the rainy season in our LandCruiser named Charlie.

It certainly has been an experience second-to-none.

Cameron and Natasha have been traveling the world together for the last three years and now document their travels on The World Pursuit. They share a love of coffee, movies, and above all else, exploring the world.  Want to see more?  Check out their Facebook page.


Visiting The Galapagos Islands – Nomadic Boys

An experience we’ll never forget is our cruise around the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.

The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean, around 1,000km (600 miles) from Ecuador’s coast. The variety of unique wildlife here not only inspired Darwin back in 1835 but it completely captivated us when we visited in October 2016.

This is one of the few places in the world where you get so close to the wildlife because they are blazé to humans. You’ll be so spoilt, no other safari will be the same again.

Most island hopping cruises in the Galapagos focus on either the West islands or the East. The main difference between the two is time – the Western islands are younger and larger because they have witnessed volcanic eruptions more recently. As such they have a more volatile environment, but with stunning instagrammable landscapes. The Eastern Islands are older, so have had more time to develop vegetation, making them greener, attracting more wildlife.

Each island has something different to offer, whether it’s bird watching, volcano landscapes, sea lions, flamingos or giant tortoises. Every day involved hours of treks through each island – intense but well worth it.

Our highlight was on Española Island, where we got to hang out with the sea lions and practice a few yoga moves with them!

Together Stefan and Sebastien are travelling the world and documenting their adventures on their blog, Nomadic Boys. This couple is currently in the middle of a trip across Latin America, which to date has included Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Ecuador and Peru.  Check out where they currently are on Instagram!


Swimming with the World’s Smallest Dolphins – BackpackerGuide.NZ

When organising ‘New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year’ where we challenged ourselves to tackle 365 activities in New Zealand in 365 days, we never thought that one of our most relaxing days would be our most memorable.

On a hot summer’s day in the Akaroa Harbour we hopped on a boat to explore the local marine reserve. After spotting a hangout of shags, a rookery of albatross, a ternery of terns, and even a seal colony, we spotted a pod of Hector’s dolphins. The world’s smallest dolphin species turned out to be one of the most playful. Curious about our boat and looking to play in its wake, the six dolphins started jumping and following us inviting us to join them in the water.

Not that we needed more incentive to jump into the inviting turquoise waters, we slid into our wetsuits and joined the dolphins.

The trick to play with dolphins in their natural habitat? Sing! The pod of dolphin responded almost instantly to the vibrations of our lungs in the water so we kept singing and they kept swimming by us closer and closer. We got to see them interact with each other and inspect interesting objects (ie. us). It was a truly unforgettable insight into the lives of marine life that we rarely see in the wild and let alone “hang out” with.

The Hector’s dolphins are critically endangered and our time spent in the marine reserve helped fund its protection so hopefully more adventurous travellers get to see those amazing creatures in the wild for years to come.

Robin and Laura are creating the most amazing memories as they spend a year travelling around New Zealand in an RV.  They have the most gorgeous, uniquely-Kiwi photos on their Instagram account and are giving us a massive bout of home-sickness (is that even a word?)


Hiking Across Finland – The Crowded Planet

Ever since we hiked the Camino de Santiago my husband and I fell in love with long-distance hiking. There’s something special about travelling on foot, it makes us feel closer to nature and the people we meet along the way.

Last summer we decided to cross by foot the southern part of one of our favourite countries, Finland. We started in Porvoo, a lovely little town not far from Helsinki, and walked all the way to Turku and then across the Aland Islands. The only kind of transport we took were boats to move between islands in the Finnish Archipelago.

We spent 40 days walking in total, and we had so many wonderful experiences – sleeping in hanging tents in the forest, enjoying lots of relaxing saunas, eating berries and watching the sunset at 11.30 pm. If I were to choose my favourite experience from the trip, I would say it was sleeping in a lighthouse in Bengtskar, a tiny island. This was truly a dream come true! 

Is there a better travel blogging combination than a writer and a photographer?  Together, Margherita and Nick Writer, travel the world with adventure and nature in mind.  Check their gorgeous landcape photos out on Instagram today.

The Crowded Planet Bucket List The Crowded Planet Bucket List


Go Somewhere You Probably Shouldn’t – The Day I was Accused of Being an Islamic State Spy in Lebanon – Against the Compass

One day while traveling, I decided to go south and visit the wall that separates Lebanon from Israel. Both countries had been in a continuous war for several decades. Today, this is one of the most sensitive borders in the world.

When I reached the wall, I started walking along the border with my camera. After 500 meters, I saw myself surrounded by UN soldiers and the Lebanese army. This border is not only a sensitive one, but it’s within Hezbollah territory as well. I was carrying a big camera and that’s why I was detained.

Travel tip: Never ever take pictures in Hezbollah territory!

They took me to a military base where I was interrogated and questioned for hours. They accused me of being an ISIS or Israeli spy (both of them are Hezbollah enemies). After all this questioning, they called the general of the Spanish Army in Lebanon (I’m from Spain). Then, the general called someone from the Spanish government to check if I had a suspicious background. Since they didn’t find anything, I was finally released.

The best of all was that, since they knew I was just a harmless traveler, in the end, I was allowed to take pictures of the wall. There were only two conditions: I had to be accompanied by soldier andwas  never ever to return to the area.

Joan Torres is a Spanish national with a taste for adventure.  He loved to travel off-the-beaten-track, exploring spots you’ve probably only dreamed about.  Stay up to date with Joan’s travels by following him on Twitter.


Getting Messy at La Tomatina – Foodie Flashpacker

I had read about La Tomatina years before and always thought it sounded cool. The world’s largest tomato fight taking place in a Spanish village so small it cannot accommodate the number of partiers. Drinking that begins at 7am. What’s not to like?

Catching a 6am train we arrived to the scene shortly thereafter. People were already drinking beer, wine and sangria and eating pizza when the sun was barely up!

We wandered around town, half exploring and half trying to find the best spot for when the alarm sounded, signaling the beginning of the festivities.

We watched as people took turns trying to climb a greased flagpole to reach a ham on the top. Party-goers climbed over one another before ultimately falling back down the pole. The party couldn’t start until someone reached the ham and knocked it down so we stood-by and sipped sangria, cheering the drunken athletes on. 

As soon as the ham was knocked from the pole, water cannons signaled the beginning of the food fight. Only tomatoes can be thrown during this festival and they must be squished first. Other than that, it’s an all out war!

The battle goes for exactly one hour before the cannons signal the end. Locals that had been hiding indoors then emerge with water hoses and buckets of water to help clean tomato pulp from the hair, shoes and clothes of visitors. 

Other locals quickly break out their BBQ grills and paella pans to begin preparing to sell food to everyone that is drunk, filthy and exhausted. 

As much as I loved it and it’s always nice to cross something off my bucket list for me it’s a once-and-done kind of experience, albeit one I’ll never forget and would highly recommend.

Nathan is a long-term traveller with a passion for getting to know what makes a place tick – this normally means checking out the local culinary delights.  Check out Nathan’s Instagram but be sure to do it with a full tummy – he’s got some seriously delicious-looking food snaps on there.


Checking out Ethiopia’s Lava Lake – Dante Harker

Seeing lava has been on my bucket-list (AKA my Epic Quest) for years, and I’ve tried many times to see it. Usually, when we arrive, some apologetic tour guide says ‘well it was there last week’.  And then there was that one time where my partner fell down the side of a volcano, which again didn’t end up in us seeing lava, just him having a mild concussion. 

Finally though, at the end of 2016 we stood 10ft away from a bubbling lava lake in a place the internet describes as the most inhospitable place on earth – it was pretty harsh if I’m honest. But amazing in all it’s glory.

The lava lake at Erta Ale in the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia had bubbled over which meant to climb to the top we had to ease our way over partially hardened magma. A bit like walking on thin ice but with a lake of burning death underneath you rather than water. 

Thankfully, we didn’t die and did get a huge tick for the Epic Quest!

Dante runs a fantastic travel blog but don’t call him a blogger!  He’s a real jack of all trades and loves sharing his experiences in life with his readers – his travels and quest to tick off his bucket-list with his husband being a key focus on his corner of the internet.  Follow his adventures on Instagram.


Keen for another intake of bucket-list inspiration?  Stay tuned for our second instalment coming soon!

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10 Bucket List Experiences by professional travellers 

Activities Adventure Eco Tourism Europe Iceland Mid-Range Reviews

Snorkelling the Clearest Waters in the World in Sub-Zero Temperatures – Incredible Iceland

January 7, 2017
Scuba Iceland Snorkel Silfra review

It’s not everyday you snorkel in water that floats around 2 degrees, tucked into the rift between two tectonic plates but that’s exactly what we got to do in Iceland!

With snow on the ground and a chill in the air, we were promptly picked up from our hotel by Scuba Iceland and after collecting another two sets of guests, made our way out to the Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir).

Warming up inside the visitors centre, Astrid, our guide, filled us in on both the geographical and political significance of the area.  Much more than just a national park, the rift valley has an interesting history, having been home to the viking parliament in Iceland (where they understandably only met in the summer time!) and now one of the best examples anywhere in the world of the effects that consistent tectonic plate movement can have.  Looking back over the valley, it’s clear where the American and Eurasian plates stop and the gap in between – the rift valley – provides the perfect spot to snorkel and dive in some of the clearest water in the world.

Back in the van, we headed over to another site, only a few minutes away to get suited up.  With water temperatures staying a daily constant 2-4 degrees regardless of the time of year, the same equipment is used year-round.  We stripped down to our base layer of thermals (no need for swimming togs as with any luck, you won’t really get wet!) and donned smooshy marshmallow-like onesies for warmth.  On top of those went wooden socks and then the hard part – getting into our dry suits.  After a fair bit of pulling, squeezing and manoeuvring, we were snuggly in our suits.  With seals checked, we added neoprene mittens and hoods, masks and snorkels and flippers to our outfits and were ready to go.

We began the relatively short walk over to the entry point at the start of the fissure, where a platform and stairs have been built to assist adventurers in getting in.  Good thing too as after waiting around for about 30 minutes in sub-zero temperatures, we appreciated having an easy point of entry to the water!

Tentatively making our way into the fissure, we weren’t really sure what to expect.  It was the first time in a drysuit for any of us and the feeling of water closing in around first our boots and then our legs and torso, whilst remaining dry was an interesting one.  

Before we knew it though, it was time for our hands to enter the water and our faces – suddenly we had first-hand knowledge of just how cold the water was!  Throughout the snorkel, our hands and face/head were the only things exposed to the elements but it was a good thing that was all as I don’t think my fingers have ever been so cold!

After approximately 30 minutes in the water, we curved back into a sheltered lagoon where the option to continue snorkelling around was given.  With hands like ice-blocks, I charged right for the steps and clambered out of the water to begin thawing them out.  Standing there, looking back on the water, I couldn’t help but feel like we’d just experienced something that most people would never get to.

After making the relatively short walk back to the vans, we got out of our gear (which was a heck of a lot easier than getting into it!), warmed up in our own clothes and enjoyed a delicious treat of the most amazing hot chocolate (complete with cookies to dunk).

Snorkelling through the Silfra Fissure was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  We were mesmerised by the beautifully crisp, clear water and the rock formations surrounding us.  Jumping in was a real adrenaline rush and as we snorkelled along, it was hard to believe that we were in the middle of two tectonic plates, swimming through an Icelandic fissure that was covered in snow with crystal-clear water that hovered just above freezing – one for the bucket list for sure!


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Scuba Iceland Snorkel Silfra Rift Review

Thank you to Scuba Iceland for allowing us to join them for the purpose of this review.  As always, all thoughts are our own.

Adventure Europe Iceland

How to Find Sólheimasandur’s Abandoned DC3 – Iceland

December 26, 2016
DC3 Iceland Plane Wreckage Sólheimasandur Crash

If you’ve seen photos of Iceland you’ve probably seen the haunting photos of an abandoned old plane.  Its wings, windows and tail long since taken by the elements, the fuselage sitting in stark contrast to the surrounding snow and black pebbles.

In the past, visitors hunting out striking photo opportunities access the crash site directly by car but recently, the owner of the land by which you access the site has restricted car access.  The following post will guide you through finding the site and how to access it now.  If you’re in Iceland, we highly recommend you head out there – it’s well worth the time and effort.

 

The History of the Sólheimasandur DC-3 Crash

In late November of 1973, a US Navy plane found itself in trouble.  Though there is uncertainly as to the exact reason theDouglas Super DC-3 crashed on this rugged beach (the most common belief being that the plane ran out of fuel) and discrepancies in even the recorded dates of the incident, fortunately all aboard survived the landing.

With the plane damaged, the decision was made to abandon the wreckage rather than salvage it – a choice that has benefited countless tourists and photographers over the last fourty years.

How Can I Find the Sólheimasandur DC-3 Wreckage?

To get to the general area, you’ll need either your own rental car or to join a tour that stops of at the carpark.  Now that you have to walk the 8km round trip to find the plane, fewer tour companies are visiting (which is great news for visitors that do manage to make their way there!) so a rental car may well be the best option.  We used Geysir and were very happy with our little Duster – it handled the wintery Icelandic conditions in its stride.

The carpark itself is located in between the Skógafoss waterfall and Vik.  If you’re using a GPS device you may like to plug in the co-ordinates (63.4912391, -19.3632810) or do as we did, and bring the location up on Waze.  If you don’t already use this app, load it onto your phone right away!  It will let you preload destinations whilst you have wifi and will then reconnect to them whilst you’re travelling – it’s a great tool to help you get around in a car, sans wifi/data and has the Sólheimasandur plane crash carpark preloaded.

From the carpark it’s close to impossible to get lost – follow the yellow markers and stay on the track until you run out of markers about 3.5km in.  At this stage, the track splits off into a fork – take the left hand side and keep your eyes peeled for the plane as within a few hundred metres you’ll be upon it.  You really can’t miss it but if you’re there by yourself and would rather plug in the co-ordinates then you can use these ones for the plane itself (63.459523, -19.364618).

What Can I Expect From the Conditions in the Area?

On the day we visited, a real Icelandic storm was brewing and though the walk is almost entirely flat, the weather did make it a challenge at times – hail, snow and huge wind gusts, we experienced it all.  It goes without saying that you’ll want to prepare properly for the elements with plenty of warm clothes and good boots.  It’s not a hard walk but the conditions can quickly dampen your spirits and leave you questioning why you decided to visit in the first-place.

That is, until you reach the crash site!

At the DC3 Crash Site

If you manage to get the plane to yourself, you may find yourself surprised by the stillness of the area.  Though we’d walked through atrocious weather, everything out at the site was surprisingly calm.  The eerie quiet was broken only by the sounds of crashing waves on the distant shoreline and the odd gust of wind.  There’s no doubt we were lucky to strike the timing right, managing to avoid most of the other visitors, but it really did feel like a surreal spot.

If you’re hoping to avoid the crowds, do as we did and head out in less-than-perfect weather – with a little luck, most of the other travellers won’t be silly enough to do the same!  Do keep an eye on things though, as amazing as it is, it’s not worth getting yourself stuck in dangerous weather.

Whilst you’re visiting the old DC-3, don’t neglect popping down to the neighbouring beach.  In the time we were there we didn’t see another soul do so and they really did miss out.  The shore is as rough and rugged as the come in Iceland and a real beauty on a moody day.

Keep your eyes peeled for ‘sneak waves’ (as they call them in Iceland) as a number of unsuspecting tourists have lost their lives to these over the years.  As you’d expect, the water is close to freezing and the waves massive – a dangerous combination if you get too close to the waterline.

Is it Worth the Trip?

Yes, a thousand times, yes!  Nathan didn’t really know what to expect going into the walk (I tend to make most of our travel plans) and he was very hesitant considering the weather – surely nothing could be worth a trek in conditions like those?  By the time we returned to the car with big smiles on our faces, he was convinced.

The crash site has a unique feel about it – after-all, it’s not everyday you head off on an adventure to find an abandoned plane nestled into the snow, sitting on a black-sand beach on the rugged coast of Iceland.

If you have the time and opportunity to visit, we would definitely suggest grabbing the opportunity with both hands.


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How to Find Iceland's Crashed DC3

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