THE BALI SWING
PLAYGROUND FOR ADULTS
Before I jumped on a plane to Bali I’d already seen pictures of the Bali Swing on Instagram. However when I asked about it while in Ubud, it turned out that The Bali Swing was not known by everyone. You can use a swing in Bali on various spots, yet my aim was to swing above the gorge as seen on pictures, not just somewhere in the middle of the rice fields. And so I jumped into a taxi that took me to The Bali Swing, located just about a 30 minute drive from Ubud. Upon arrival I found out that it had only been opened a few months earlier, so it wasn’t a coincidence that not everyone yet knew about it.
MUST DO IN GERMANY
Looking for a something fun to do in the German Hunsrück region? Then definitely consider the Geierlay suspension bridge. This suspension bridge in Germany is located in the Hunsrück just a three-hour drive from the Dutch-German border. I visited the bridge three times in recent years, the last time I even was completely alone. Below you will first find my original report and photos from August 2016, followed by updates and tips that I added following my second and most recent visit in May 2019. Enjoy reading!
10 TIPS FOR FIRST TIMERS
TRAVELING IN NEW-ZEALAND
For nature that is. Most of us come to New Zealand because of the amazing landscapes and I will never forget what was written in the guestbook of the hostel I stayed in Auckland after arrival in my first trip. It said ‘please go to the South Island as soon as you can!’. Of course, we had unfortunately booked a return trip from AKL meaning we had to return up north and leave the South Island behind at some point, which made me ache to go back. The second time I went to New Zealand, I flew out of Christchurch, so your trip definitely ends with a bang of truly stunning nature.
With beautiful beaches on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, Playa del Carmen is an amazing spot to base yourself for exploring all the outdoor activities the Yucatan Peninsula has to offer. Though the best time to visit is always relative, depending on weather, crowds, and events. Peak tourist season in Playa del Carmen is from December to April, when the weather is warm and sunny, though crowds are also the largest. This is the best time for swimming and other water activities, though hotel and flight prices are often at their highest. May to September, which is considered the low season, is a great time to visit Playa del Carmen if you’re looking for a more relaxed and less crowded experience. The weather is still warm and sunny (though there are the occasional thunderstorms), and there are fewer tourists, which means that you’ll have more space to enjoy the beach, fewer lines, and lower prices for hotels and flights. Whether you’re traveling during high or low season, it’s always important to check the weather forecast before planning your trip. Though here is a guide to the weather in Playa Del Carmen to get you started with your planning. December – April The weather in Playa del Carmen from December – April is generally warm and sunny, with average high temperatures in the mid-80s Fahrenheit (around 30 degrees Celsius) and low temperatures in the mid-70s Fahrenheit (around 24 degrees Celsius). I traveled in February and March in 2022 and found this really a good time to travel! The humidity can be high, but the trade winds coming from the Caribbean sea make the weather more comfortable. January is the coolest month of the year in Playa del Carmen, but it still has warm and pleasant weather, perfect for enjoying the beaches and outdoor activities. Even though it’s considered the dry season, it’s important to keep in mind that the Yucatan Peninsula has a tropical climate, so the occasional thunderstorm or shower can happen. It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast before planning your trip. This is the start of the high season in Playa del Carmen, and it’s a popular time for tourists to visit. This means that the beaches and other tourist attractions, like the ferry from Cozumel to Playa Del Carmen may be more crowded, and hotel prices may be higher. If you’re looking for a more relaxed and less crowded experience, it may be best to plan your trip for a different time of year. May – September May to September is low season in Playa del Carmen, and it’s far more relaxed and less crowded. The weather is similar, in terms of still being warm and sunny, with average highs in the mid-80s Fahrenheit (30 Celsius) and lows in the mid-70s F (24 C). But the rain keeps most people away. This is the rainy season in Playa del Carmen, and you can expect more frequent thunderstorms and rain showers. However, it doesn’t actually rain all the time; showers are mostly short and the sun comes out quickly after. As it’s the low season, May to September can be a less busy time for tourists, and the beaches and the surroundings are always less crowded. This is a great time to find deals and discounts on accommodation, transportation and activities. Don’t let the rain put you off during this time of year, but pack accordingly and if you’re planning on hiking, make sure you have waterproof gear with you. November & October October and November are considered the shoulder season in Playa del Carmen, and this time of year gives you a good balance between weather and crowds. Weather is pretty much the same all year round, but this is the transition period from the rainy season to the dry season. You can expect some rain showers, but they’re usually short and less frequent than in the summer months. The sea can be rougher during this time, but it’s still good for swimming and other water activities.
This is going to be a long post, simply because there is a lot to tell. Over the past weeks I’ve started to doubt whether hiking Te Araroa was making me happy. While being in New Zealand makes me incredibly happy and hiking makes me happy too, I just wasn’t feeling happy in general. While I imagined that hiking the entire length of New Zealand was going to be what I wanted to do, it in fact turned to be quite the opposite. The actual realization that doing what I was doing wasn’t what I had hoped it would be already hit me within the first few days of walking Te Araroa. I kept it to myself because I was still jet-lagged from the long flight and my feet were still recovering from the blisters I had on 90 Mile Beach. And while I’ve experienced many happy moments on the trail (seeing fantails, climbing mountains, experiencing the most amazing sunsets and sunrises) the overall experience wasn’t what I had hoped it would be. Before I’ll tell you more about the decision to hike my own hike, I’ll first do a quick recap of the third and fourth week of my hike. Beaches and rivers My third week on Te Araroa was all about beaches and rivers. Rivers that flow into the ocean that is, meaning that they are tidal dependent and that they can only be crossed during low tide. Ever since I got nearly swept away by a glacial river in Iceland a few years back I’ve had a fear of river crossings. Despite of this I still decided I wanted to do Te Araroa, which includes a gigantic lot of river crossings. I was ready to face my fears. The first two rivers I crossed, the Horahora and Taihahuru were easy (up half way between my knees and thighs) with slow flows. The knee deep mud in the estuaries and mangroves proved to be more of a challenge. I did endless beach walks and actually enjoyed it most of the time. I had just one meltdown, which was towards the end of a 30 km day where I had to walk through soft sand for 6 kms after already doing the above mentioned two river crossings as well as climbing several mountains. The day before I had lost my Apple airpods in the back of a truck I hitched in and the morning after the 30 km hike I failed to close the lid of my water bladder properly causing two liters of water leaking into my bag. Each time I was walking through farmland I felt like walking through the Shire and thankful for the sunshine on my face. I experienced enormous generosity and kindness by New Zealanders who offered me rides, food, coffees and encouraging words when I needed them the most. Meeting a variety of people has been a huge motivation to keep on going, in addition to the beautiful landscapes I’ve been walking through. Mud and rivers After taking it slow for a few days in the coastal town of Mangawhai because of heavy rains and my period causing my hormones to bring out the worst in me, I was ready to hit the trail again. Next up was a beach walk with three rivers to cross, which would usually just be ankle or knee deep. However, with the enormous downpours of the days before (it rained heavily nonstop for 14 hours the night before) I imagined the rivers would be quite a challenge. They were. Although the current was not too bad, the water was muddy and the sand at the bottom was soft, making me sink into the sand if I stood still too long. The water was thigh deep most of the time and I found myself almost getting into a panic attack at some point because I felt myself sinking away. Luckily I remembered my breathing exercises that I learned during my Wim Hoff ice bath workshop and I was able to breathe my way through it, which felt like a huge victory. Next up was Mount Tamahunga and the Dome Valley, known for being extremely muddy and potentially dangerous after rain. The way up was muddy but nothing that couldn’t be done. The way down was horrendous. A lot of fun too, but wow, I sometimes feared my life while sliding down and hanging onto trees with a vertical drop off next to me. Luckily I was joined by two fellow hikers and we managed to keep our spirits up well most of the time. We camped in the most beautiful paddock up in the hills, enjoyed massive hospitality and shed tears each at our own moments. A walk into Auckland The final days I walked into Auckland, by myself again. I decided to choose my own path rather than following everybody else’s because a few days earlier I realized that what I was doing was not making me happy. Reaching Auckland truly felt like a victory though, because I had walked some 600 kilometers (with a few hitches here and there) down to the place where it all got started exactly one month earlier. As I saw the Auckland skyline ahead of me, I realized that no matter what my decision was going to be, I hiked the furthest I had ever hiked before. I felt incredibly proud as I boarded the ferry across Hauraki Gulf that took me into the city from Devonport. In search of freedom It was already in the first week of hiking Te Araroa that the feeling hit me that I wasn’t sure if this was what I wanted to do the next six months to come. ‘This’ being what felt like a tight schedule of hiking some 25 kms each day, getting up at 06.00 am, leaving by 08.00 am, marching on, counting distances, setting up camp, sleeping and repeating it the next day. In addition I felt that with having a bunch of rest days in Kaitaia to let my feet heal and hiding for the weather, I was falling behind on schedule and found myself wondering if I was going to make it to Bluff within the expiry date of my visa at all. I wasn’t the only one worried about this. Upon arrival at the campsites, there often was talk about distances covered, budgets not being sufficient (New Zealand has a 30% inflation, meaning that I need € 2.000 more than budgeted as I expected to spend some € 6.000) and not being able to make it to Bluff in time. I found myself feeling truly unhappy worrying about this. I did not come to New Zealand to calculate distances, just march on and reaching my destination within time. I missed taking the time for a morning coffee, spending time in front of my tent if I felt like it, having enough energy left to read a book and I missed the feeling of freedom to decide each day what my day was going to look like. After spending nearly three months in Sweden earlier this year where I basically had no plan at all, I was used to living in freedom. Hiking Te Araroa on the North Island felt far from that. So, what’s next? I’m currently in Hamilton where I decided to give my body a few days rest. I sometimes tend to forget that it’s not just my time in New Zealand that I’ve been on the go, but that it’s in fact been almost five months that I’ve been on the road. Although I’m enjoying it most of the time, there’s also times when I feel extremely exhausted and just want to lay down in bed and hide under the covers for as long as needed. This made me decide to take things easy from now on and start to enjoy the small things in life again. To hike shorter days, to enjoy other things than hiking that also make me happy (such as a cup of coffee in the morning sun or reading a book for a few hours). I’ve missed those things. When I was at the hostel in Stillwater I found a quote, written by Tom from I Walk Around the World, on one of the walls. It said ‘never sacrifice happiness for achievement.’ It couldn’t have been more spot on. I had been sacrificing happiness for achievement most of the time since my arrival and it was right then that I made the decision to no longer exhaust myself by running forward. This upcoming week I’m hiking the Timber Trail and from there I’ll catch a bus down to Wellington, from where I’m flying to Queenstown. Here I’ll be speaking at the International Adventure Conference. My initial idea was to fly back to Wellington after the conference but knowing myself, I may just as well stay on the South Island. Either way, my plan is to hike all of Te Araroa on the South Island, starting more or less on January 1st, which gives me 3 months to complete the whole island and travel back up to Auckland for my flight back to The Netherlands. By releasing the pressure of having to complete the entire trail, I also felt myself opening up for the good things in life again. It was like the dark cloud above my head lifted and I felt myself coming back to life. Ever since I’ve experienced many happy moments on and off the trail, which I cherish more than the miles I was hiking. Life is too short to be unhappy and so I decided that from now on all that I’ll do is hike my own hike.
I’ve been walking for ten days and wow … I’ve been experiencing a lot of different landscapes and emotions already. Since my last update, I skipped a section, my blisters have almost healed and I’ve almost seen my iPhone drown. It was a special week walking through the Bay of Islands. Here’s more about from my second week on Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand. Rain and closed forests After 90 Mile Beach I took four days to let my feet and blisters heal. By the end of those four days, I’m eager to get back on the road, but once I start planning, I can’t quite make up mind about what to do. It’s about a 4-5 day walk from Kaitaia to Kerikeri, but part of this route is closed due to the kauri dieback disease, so you have to walk long stretches on (gravel) roads. It’s also recommended to avoid Puketi Forest during heavy rainfall. And unfortunately, Metservice has announced a code orange planned for the days that I have planned to be hiking that section. I have a sleepless night over this and in the morning I decide to skip this section and travel onwards to Kerikeri by bus. I don’t like the idea of four days of just roadwalks because forests are closed and/or too dangerous. Immediately after making this decision, it seems like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Off to the Bay of Islands In Kerikeri I’m staying with Asanka, who last year walked Te Araroa with his family, including their two-month-old baby. He gives me some very valuable tips, including to add electrolytes to my drinking water in the morning and to start taking magnesium in the evenings. Before starting the next section of my hike, I visit the local pharmacy and head out well stocked. Asanka drops me off outside Kerikeri where I walk straight into the forest. I’m back on TA! Because of the forestry, the trail has been diverted here and despite the fact that I regularly have to jump to the side for the logging trucks passing by and the fact that almost all day is on a gravel road, I enjoy being back on the trail. The views are beautiful and the ferns are huge. My feet are slightly painful but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Before starting the descent to Waitangi, I make a detour to Mt. Bledisloe, from where I can get a first view of the famous Bay of Islands, one of the main sights of New Zealand’s North Island. Waitangi Treaty Grounds The next day I decide to take it easy. In the morning I first go to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, New Zealand’s most important historic site. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed here in 1840, which laid the foundation for what is now New Zealand. The quality of the tour is quite average so I quickly decide to continue on my own, which suits me just fine. After a few hours of looking around, I pick up my backpack at the reception. It’s time to start walking again. Russell Along the coast I walk to Pahia, where I get off the trail for a few hours. I want to visit Russell, located on the other side of the bay. Russell is a historic village where the first permanent European settlements were and I think it would be nice to have a look around. I take the ferry across and ten minutes later I’ve arrived the other side. I walk up to Flagstsaff Hill, another important place for New Zealand history. From here I have a beautiful view over the rest of the Bay of Islands. For a moment I play with the idea of going to Cape Brett, a tramp that has been on my mind for years. Eventually I drop the idea because my main focus here is to hike Te Araroa and so I start making my way to Orongo Bay. A mental challenge Once at the campsite I have a small mental breakdown. I’m finding this harder than I had imagined. I haven’t slept well in weeks and am in pain almost nonstop when hiking. Also I’ve been away from home for three weeks now and with a 12 hour time difference, my friends and family feel very far away from me and communicating with them is a challenge. When I’m up, they are in bed and the other way around. I typically only message them in my mornings (their evenings), when I’m starting my walk for the day. In my evening, they are prepping for work and such so it’s a challenge to find a time that’s good for both. The idea that it will be like this for another five months hits me hard. I go to bed early and hope for a better day tomorrow. Roadwalking … The following days consist entirely of roadwalking, or walking along the main road. One time on a tarmac road, the other time on a gravel road. It rains both days so I make the most of it by waving enthusiastically to oncoming traffic and listening to music. The second day I walk with Simone from South Africa. At first I didn’t want to leave the campsite because of the code orange, but in the morning it seemed good enough set off anyway. After three hours in drizzle, the downpour starts and within minutes I’m soaked to the bone. Even in the pockets of my rainjacket there’s a big layer of water, but my phone which I kept in one of them still seems to work fine luckily. Fortunately, there is such a thing as ‘trail angels’ or people who welcome you into their home along the way. Dave and Alex live in Helena Bay and host walkers in their yard. I call them and I’m very welcome to stay at their place. Once on their porch I can dry my stuff and I get a beer and a fresh meal. I want to charge my phone, but suddenly get the message that there is water in my iPhone and that it cannot be charged. I’m pretty anxious, because everything I need for my hike is on this phone. Also, because of the slow WiFi here in New Zealand, my phone hasn’t made backups for a month and none of the photos I took are in my iCloud yet. In the end I manage to charge my phone via my power bank, but the first thing I do as soon as I arrive in the next town is get a waterproof bag for my phone. My headphones didn’t survive the rain unfortunately. Back to the coast The next day the Helena Ridge Track is coming up, a route that is well marked, but has some very steep sections. Despite the heavy rainfall I decide to go for it and although the trail is good, it is also very slippery in many places. I regularly slip and in the end am relieved that I didn’t tumble off the mountain. Completely covered in mud, Simone and I manage to arrange a lift for the last 10 kilometers into the next town: Whananaki. Here I find a lovely campsite where I manage to dry all my equipment in the sun. The weather was quite bad over the past few days, but has been pretty good now. I dry out all of my stuff, charge my phone and head back onwards the next day. Leaving Whananaki starts with the longest footbridge in the southern hemisphere, which is 395 meters long. After crossing it, I walk the Whananaki Coastal Track. After about 8 kilometers I arrive at an tarmac road again and I feel a little disappointed. Of the last 110 kilometers, it was almost 90 kilometers on main roads and little trail. Fortunately, the sections of trail I went through are beautiful. I walk the full 16 kilometers to the next village, where I arrange a hitch into town. Here I pick up my package with my laptop and fresh contact lenses, backup my phone with decent wifi and resupply. Trail life Life on the trail is simple. An average day for me is getting up between 06.00-06.30, walking from 08.00, enjoying the journey that’s ahead. Usually I arrive at my overnight place around 4 pm where I set up my tent, sometimes socialize with other hikers if there are any, but sometimes also do nothing for a while. Around 6 pm I start cooking and dinner, after which I go to bed around 7 pm and go to sleep at 8 pm. On the days that I’m ‘in town’ I resupply for the coming days, do laundry, I prepare for the sections to come (calculate number of kms per day, find out if you can refill water along the way, find out where food is available is and where you can spend the night). I sometimes post on Instagram and sometimes I don’t feel like it. I sleep almost 10 hours each night which feels awesome. It’s the small things My blisters are now reasonably healed, my feet still have some trouble with the road walking but I’m getting used to it. Just like walking on trail runners, eating a lot of unhealthy food with a lot of calories, sometimes sleeping little and constantly smelling your own stink because you have been walking in the same unwashed clothes for six days. I’m grateful to the people who gave me a lift that they didn’t refuse me because I smell horrible. I enjoy the little things like fresh eggs or a cup of coffee. Or a friendly smile from a stranger. Of being awakened by the birds (I haven’t set my alarm for a single day yet) and the beauty of New Zealand. Until next time! Do you like my content and would you like to donate a cup of coffee for the road? You can do that through Buy Me a Coffee. Thanks in advance! Distance walked: Day 5. Kerikeri – Waitangi 17 km Day 6. Waitangi – Russel – Orongo 12 km Day 7. Orongo – The Farm 22 km Day 8. The Farm – Helena Bay 18 km Day 9. Helena Bay – Whananaki 15 km (en 12 km lift) Day 10. Whananaki – Ngunguru 26 km Total distance on this section: 110 Total distance walked: 214
Let me start by saying that both treks are tough and should not be underestimated. If you have no experience in trekking, you will have to carry lots of stamina and willpower in order to make it to either basecamp. It’s not easy but not impossible either. Which of the two is the most difficult is hard to say and really depends on various factors. If we look at altitude, Everest Base Camp Trek is definitely the most challenging reaching 5.364 meters above sea level. If you decide to trek via Gokyo, which I strongly recommend so you won’t have to hike the same route twice, you will have to cross Cho-La Pass which is even higher and reaches as high as 5.420 meters. Annapurna Base Camp is located at 4.130 meters above sea level, meaning you need less time to acclimatize.
Iregularly have discussions with friends about whether you have to travel far away (= outside of Europe for me) every year. Not only because of the flying embarrassment that seems to be on the rise, but also because there are plenty of nice walks in Europe. You don’t always have to go far to see beautiful landscapes. Need inspiration? Then read on in this article with the beste places to hike in Europe, from north to south. All trails have been made by myself so I only advise you from my own experience, as you are used to from me. Enjoy reading and hiking!
The good thing about hiking in New Zealand is that it can be done from anywhere as there are numerous of trails all over the country, whether it’s close to the city or far away from civilization. In addition to my old post, I will also add more information about the best multi-day hikes in New Zealand as well as shorter hikes that can be done by anyone. Enjoy this list with the best hikes in New Zealand!
When planning to hike a long(ish) track, it’s wise to figure out as much as you can about the trail. What the distance is, how to get to the start and end and what the current trail situation is. Many of these things can be found online nowadays and by doing some research beforehand you can avoid unpleasant surprises along the way. Such as not carrying enough drinking water or having to make a river crossing. But also there may be ferries that are not running on certain days or the bus service you may need could be limited on certain days. All these things can be found out well in advance.
We found another hiking paradise and it’s called Tasmania. Located on the opposite part of the world for us, we spent a month here, exploring what Australians call ‘the Apple Island’ by foot and by bike. We knew that Tasmania had some pretty spectacular scenery to offer but we kept on being surprised over and over again by the diversity of this place. One day we’d stand with our feet in the sand on some stunning beach and the next day we’d be in a rain forrest discovering the prettiest little waterfalls. When you are going hiking here, there is no way you will get disappointed. Here is our selection of the best hikes in Tasmania!
For me, a visit to Crater Lake National Park had been on my bucketlist for many years. Being from The Netherlands it’s not nearly as well known and popular as other US National Parks such as The Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park. However, after hearing about this place from a friend, I knew I wanted to go here one day. I kept on googling Crater Lake National Park year after year, at some point I knew it was my time to head on another trip to the US and go for it. And so I finally got to visit Crater Lake National Park after wanting to go for such a long time.
On We12travel you will find everything you want to know about outdoor traveling, nature and hiking. From the best outdoor clothing to the greatest multi-day treks in the world, and everything in between. I’ve been inspiring readers from all across the globe since 2011 and am the leading Dutch outdoor and hiking blog ever since. I help you in your search for beautiful hiking destinations, preparing for your trek and planning your trip in nature.