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.
There’s destinations that fellow bloggers describe as off the beaten path or the road less traveled. Those phrases are used way too much these days in my humble opinion and in fact there’s just a few places in the world that can actually claim to be as described. I think Senja in Norway is one of them. Especially if you compare it to the insanely crowded nearby Lofoten Islands. I went to visit Senja island a while ago and enjoyed it a lot. It was super quiet (though we traveled in high season) and there was a lot to see. Only the weather didn’t cooperate, but that’s to be expected when in Norway. In this article I’ll share my travel in Senja experiences. Senja in Norway: why we chose to go here With the map of Scandinavia in front of us, we plan our trip from our cabin the woods. We map out a route of about five weeks, a mega-road trip from Arnhem in the Netherlands to the far north and back again. We want to walk at least one (preferably two) stages of the Kungsleden Trail in arctic Sweden and see whales. And we’d like to go to the North Cape, the Lofoten and some iconic hikes in Norway. Although five weeks seems like an eternity, with Scandinavian distances it certainly isn’t. So we have to make choices. The North Cape and the Lofoten immediately are dropped as the North Cape is too far (and I have been told quite a downer) and the Lofoten Islands are too busy. The Kungsleden and the whales remain … plus a huge approach route from the Netherlands. I get the suggestion from a former colleague to take a look at Senja as a destination: at least as beautiful as the rest of Norway but a lot less busy. Just google it and we’re all set: we’re going to visit Senja in Norway! Arrival at Senja It’s the middle of August when we cross the border from Kiruna Sweden to Norway. We have just finished the second part of the Kungsleden trek and had a bad night in a hotel in Kiruna. We get in the car and drive to the border in just under two hours. When we arrive at the border, we refuel the Volvo once again and enter Norway. What strikes me immediately is that, unlike Sweden, there are quite a few houses here. Senja is the largest island in Norway after Spitsbergen (Svalbard) and Hinnøya and is located north of the Lofoten and Vesterålen. You can reach the island from the mainland via the bridge between Finnsnes and Silsland. There is little to be found on the internet about Senja, nor in our travel guides. We decide to drive onto the island and look for a campsite. From there we will see what there’s to see and do. At first I am a bit disappointed with the landscape. Look up “Senja” and you will get beautiful sharp-toothed rock formations, but where we ended up it is flat and relatively barren. The first campsite we encounter is the Senja Camping. We decide to book for two nights and then visit the island from here tomorrow. Rain, rain and rain They sometimes say that bad weather does not exist in Norway, but I can tell you that Senja is not so nice in the pouring rain. After the first night in our cabin, we open the curtains and the island seems to have been covered up in a blankte of fog and rain. The weather app does not indicate much different for the coming days and so we’re a little disappointed. We spend the first day with Netflix and beer in the comfort of our cabin. The day after it seems to clear up slightly in the afternoon, but appearances can be deceiving because once in the north of the island, where the rugged coastlines are, it is still wet and foggy. I’m a little sad because since our preparation I was really looking forward to going to Senja. The pictures on the internet look very promising, but unfortunately little of that is visible. After a tour around the north of the island we decide to drive back to the campsite and take the boat to Vesterålen tomorrow, where we will do our whale watching excursion. Behind the clouds the sun is shining The next morning it appears to have cleared up. Our boat to Gryllefjord to Andenes leaves at 3:00 pm. Maybe we can still see something of the island in the morning. After we have loaded everything into the car, we drive back to the beautiful viewpoints where we were in the thick fog the day before. To Bergsbotn and to the Tungeneset and the Okshornan mountains in the distance. It will be a bit of a race against the clock because we cannot afford to miss the boat. Still, we get a quick impression of the beauty of Senja in Norway once the clouds have disappeared and how beautiful (and peaceful!) it is here. After an intense ride, we finally arrive just before the departure of the ferry in Gryllefjord, dramatically situated on one of the many fjords that Senja has. When the ferry leaves the harbor, I look back on the island with melancholy. I didn’t want to leave at all, but unfortunately we had to keep going because the whales are waiting for us. Who knows, I might one day be lucky enough to be able to return to this special place in Norway! Senja tips: know before you go! Not much can be found about Senja on the internet, at least when we went here (August 2018). At the reception of our campsite (Camping Senja) we grabbed a travel guide with a route map. They only had it in Norwegian at the time we visited. I’ll give you some useful tips: – You can reach Senja by car via the bridge at Finnsnes or by boat from Andenes (Vesterålen). Depending on the season, this sails several times a day and cannot be booked in advance. You can bring your car and the crossing takes approximately 1:40 hours. If you are not coming with your own car, it is best to fly to Tromsø and rent a car here. – The season on Senja is short, roughly from the beginning of June to the end of August. From the end of August, most tourist facilities will close and there is little to do compared to the summer season. – In the south of Senja lies the national park Ånderdalen, but this is not very interesting from a landscape point of view. Most visitors come for the special rocky coasts on the west and north sides of the island. – There are few campsites on the island. We also found a camping spot in the Erstfjord. The Senja Camping is the largest with the most amenities and is relatively centrally located on the island. Accommodation is also very scarce and it is best to book well in advance. Check the prices and availability here. – Shops are scarce and what they sell is relatively pricey. So bring enough food and drink from the mainland, there are some supermarkets in Finnsness. – The roads are winding and narrow, this ensures that you take a long time on a route. There is one round trip around the island, namely the 861 and the 862 (in combination with the main road 86, which ends in Gryllefjord). The rest of the roads are mostly dead ends and end in a fjord. It takes about half a day to complete this tour (if you drive all the way through and make limited stops). Conclusion and disclaimer Hopefully you liked this article and we gave you some ideas for what to do in Senja in Norway. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments! This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase via such a link, we may receive a modest commission at no additional cost for you.
For now this will be the last article in my series about the national parks in The Netherlands. In collaboration with Holland National Parks, I visited various Dutch national parks in recent months, with the aim of giving more attention to the beautiful nature that my country has to offer. Most recently, I visited De Biesbosch National Park, part of the new NLDelta National Park to be formed. I spent the night in a sustainable wikkelhouse at Stayokay, went kayaking during full moon and explored the Noordwaard by bike and on foot. In other words: a great trip based on human powered adventure. I’ll tell you all about it in this article. But first … check out the short video I made. Be sure to turn up the volume to hear a special meeting. About the Biesbosch en NLDelta National Park You may know De Biesbosch as a national park, NLDelta probably not yet. The NLDelta is a national park in the making. National park status will be applied for at the end of 2020 and in 2021, the Biesbosch, together with the Haringvliet, will form the newest national park in the Netherlands. It is a unique ecological area, where people and nature have gone hand in hand for centuries. More information about the NLDelta can be found here. Since the region I visited is the Biesbosch, I will talk about that in this article. Arrival in National Park de Biesbosch I drive to the city of Dordrecht where I spend the night in Stayokay, a cozy and modern hostel in the middle of nature. In addition to the hostel rooms, there is a campsite and they have four sustainable wikkelhouses and in one of them I spend the night. These tiny houses are made from recycled cardboard and fully equipped. The house has a kitchenette and private shower and toilet. There is sleeping space for up to four people. There is no WiFi and a television, so you can immerse yourself completely in the peace and quiet of nature. After check-in, I head directly to the Biesboschcentrum Dordrecht to be informed about the possible adventures I can experience here. There is a full moon kayak trip planned for tonight, the rest of the time is at my leisure. Unfortunately it’s pouring with rain, so I decide to go for a short walk at the Biesbosch Center, where numerous short hiking trails start. The rain makes it a bit gloomy, so I finally decide to walk back to my wikkelhouse to get ready for the evening program. Kayaing during full moon After a nice dinner at Stayokay, I get into the car, wearing several layers of clothing and drive to the Biesbosch Center. Although it’s only a 10 minute walk, when I go back to the hostel tonight it will be pitch dark. And with a bit of luck I’m intensely cold and even wet so it’ll be good to be able to jump into my car straight. I make my way to the canoe rental station next to the Biesboschcentrum. I’ll be heading out with a small group to kayak through the creeks and finally enjoy the full moon from the water. To be fair, I have kayaked quite a lot in my life, but never been in a kayak alone before. Fortunately, the instructors help me to get in and out of the kayak without tipping over (confession: I once stepped next to it and ended up in the water … a less charming experience when you consider that it was on some kind of date) and after everyone has settled into his and her kayaks, it is time to start paddling. The weather has improved by now and suddenly a ray of sunshine peeks through the clouds. Could it be that after such a rainy day we can still experience a full moon? Through the creeks We start with a bit of paddling on the Moldiep, a fairly wide canal. In no time I have gotten my kayaking groove back and I’m overwhelmed by the happy feeling of letting yourself glide over the water surface. Not much further we enter the first small creek. We are quickly reminded that we must not forget that trees do not yield and that we regularly have to bend over to avoid colliding with trees. The tide is currently high (the tidal range can be as much as 50 centimeters in this area) and so the overhanging trees are suddenly a lot closer than when the tide is low. The first creek is narrow and I have trouble paddling through it without any problems. I see the couple in front of me ending up in the reeds and with my paddle I regularly get stuck behind a tree. It’s frankly quite hilarious, especially because you are constantly busy making turns, braking, making sure you don’t hit a tree hard and above all not flip over with your kayak. With a little help from guide Peter I get back on the right way after I got stuck in the reeds and after quite a paddle through this creek we are back on open water without any obstacles. The guides mention that the next part will be a bit more challenging, but that we are lucky. Because of the high tide we can pass through, when it is low tide this is not possible because you will get stuck on the bottom. A beaver in de Biesbosch The Biesbosch is the habitat of the beaver and I really hope that I can see one. Still, it’s failry difficult because as soon as they spot you, they disappear under water. I paddle in the back of the group through the narrow creek and as soon as we reach the Wantij canal, I see the couple in front of me lying still and pointing. The rest of the group is already ahead. They point again and suddenly I see a brown creature along the waterfront. It’s a beaver! In no time he has noticed we’re there and disappears under water. But … I saw a beaver in the Biesbosch! Moon or no moon? By now, it’s almost dark. From now on we will only paddle on wide waterways, back to the Biesbosch Center. Once back on the Moldiep, we should see the full moon appear soon. We paddle quickly, turn the corner and WOW … suddenly a crystal clear full moon shines in the sky, right in front of us. The guides invite us to spend a moment in silence and enjoy this special experience. I put my paddle across the kayak, take a deep breath, and gaze at the full moon in front of me, reflecting beautifully off the water. Just … wow! Then it’s time to kayak back to the Biesbosch Center. It’s still a long stretch and after two hours I’m wet and tired. Sitting alone in a kayak and trying to keep up with two-seater kayaks is a good challenge, but at the end I’m quite tired but insanely satisfied. Without too much effort, I climb back onto the dock, hand in the kayak and drive back to my wikkelhouse. Here I fall into a restless sleep, because the moon full is after all … Biking to de Noordwaard On my second day in De Biesbosch I’ll explore the Noordwaard. A rental bike is waiting for me at Stayokay and from here I head out, together with a junction map (called ‘knooppunten’) that I get at the reception. There is a lot to see in the Noordwaard, so I will have to make choices on where to spend my time. At least it’s dry, which makes the landscape a lot more beautiful and attractive. To get to the Noordwaard, I first cycle to the ferry across the Nieuwe Merwede, a ride that takes about 15 minutes. As soon as I have crossed it, I arrive in the Noordwaard, the Brabant part of the Biesbosch. I cycle to Museum Island, where there are countless sights. I first decide to drink a cup of coffee in the restaurant from where you have a beautiful view over the waterways of the Biesbosch. After this I leave my bike for a while and decide to visit the Buitenmuseum (outdoor museum) de Pannekoek. De Pannekoek is a ‘hakgriend’ (piece of land) of approximately 8 hectares with various hiking trails that invite you to explore this part of the Biesbosch on foot. The marked walking trail is only 2 kilometers, but I also explore the other trails. In the end I spend more than an hour and a half at the Buitenmuseum. I visit the Willow Garden, look for the beaver pond, spot birds with my binoculars and stroll on narrow trails and across bridges. It almost feels like a playground for grown-ups here! Biking through de Noordwaard After this I get on my bike again. I go to the viewpoint over the Petrusplaat, cycle over bridges, browse the horizon again in search of birds and enjoy the full headwind I experience while pedaling. Towards the end of the afternoon I get on the ferry back to Dordrecht and cycle back to the hostel, where I return the bike and get in the car home. Do you want to cycle in the Biesbosch yourself? I cycled part of the Biesbosch route – a junction route through the Noordwaard and the Nieuwe Dortse Biesbosch. The numbers in the document match with the numbers you’ll find marked along the way, a super easy way of navigating in this area. About National Park de Biesbosch and NLDelta National parks De Biesbosch and NLDelta consists of various parts. I visited the South Holland part near Dordrecht and the Noordwaard in Brabant. There is a visitor center in both places where you can ask for information about the countless activities that are organised. There is too much to do to list everything, but I found the combination of all the activities mentioned to be perfect for a micro adventure in my own country. I went kayaking with a guide, but you can also head out by yourself with a canoe or kayak. The rental station is open between April 1 and October 31. Of course you will receive an explanation and a map with possible paddling routes with the rental. There are also numerous walks in the Biesbosch. Some can be reached by pedestrian ferries, which were out of service at the time of my visit due to the corona virus. Go here for more tips for walking and cycling tours in the Dordrecht part of the Biesbosch. I found this part the most impressive, especially because the creeks are so dense and you can really get lost in this “Dutch jungle”. Want to search for beavers in the Biesbosch? This is best done early in the morning or towards the evening. There are even several guided excursions in search of beavers. The kayaking guides indicated that all excursions are often fully booked well before the departure date and that it is wise to book your desired activity well ahead of time. Conclusion and disclaimer Hopefully I have given you an idea on how to spend a few days in the Biesbosch and NLDelta National Park. I experienced this micro adventure in collaboration with Dutch National Parks. All opinions expressed are of course only my own. I visited several national parks this fall, the other blog articles can be found here.
One of the lesser known regions in Germany is the Saarland region. Saarland is located in the southwest corner of Germany, against the border triangle with France and Luxembourg. Because it is just a little further away than the Eifel and Moselle from where I live (The Netherlands), the beautiful area is often skipped and that is a shame, because there are many beautiful things to see and do. Here are our tips for your holiday in Saarland and the best sights in the Saarland in Germany. First of all: your vacation in Saarland Good to know is that the Saarland is about a 4/5 hours drive from Utrecht and therefore just too far for a night away. Although it is one of the smaller regions of Germany, there are many sights in Saarland that you should absolutely not miss. I therefore recommend that you go on holiday to Saarland for at least 2 or 3 nights so that you are not only in the car, but can also fully enjoy the time that you have to spend there. You will find the best options for overnight stays in the Saarland here. National Park Hunsrück-Hochwald The Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park is located on the border of Rheinland-Pfzalz and Saarland. The nature reserve with the low mountains offers the visitor countless hiking trails, deep forests and beautiful views. At the visitor center you can book a walk with a guide (recommended!) who will tell you all about the origin of the Hunsrück and the conservation of nature in the Saarland region. The Celtic ring wall near Otzenhausen Are you interested in history or do you like to see a very special building in the middle of nature? Then I can recommend a visit to the Celtic ring wall of Otzenhausen. This formation is located on the Dollberg near the village of Otzenhausen in Saarland. The defensive wall dates from the period 450 BC until three centuries after. The length of the boundary wall is 2,210 meters and the height is about 10 meters, once this was even 20 meters. You can visit the ring wall for free and if you are interested in learning more about it, the Keltenpark Otzenhausen is worth a visit as well. The Bostalsee, Nonnweiler If it is a hot day and you want to cool down, make sure to visit the Bostalsee near Nonnweiler. This reservoir is a wonderful place to swim or bathe on one of the sandy beaches or grassy patches. In addition, boats are rented out and you can also stand up paddleboard here. Visit Biosphäre Bliesgau The Bliesgau biosphere is a special nature reserve on the border with France. Here you will find countless hiking and biking trails, organic farms and fine viewpoints. We visited Haus Lochfeld and took a short walk of about an hour to the Heidekopf Turm, a lookout tower that lets you see as far as the forests of the Pfalz and the French Vosges. Around Haus Lochfeld you can do a Biosphären walking route of 1.5 kilometers. Haus Lochfeld’s terrace is open on weekend days only. Sleeping in a tiny house on the Glamping Resort In the very south of the Saarland region, on the border with France, lies the beautiful Glamping Resort Biosphäre Bliesgau. This glamping resort consists of a number of spherical tiny houses that are suitable for 2 people. The cottage is fully equipped, including a private bathroom, air conditioning, television and a Nespresso machine. You cannot cook there, but you can have breakfast delivered. Prices and availability can be found here. A visit to Saarbrücken Fancy a city trip? Then a visit to the beautiful city of Saarbrücken is recommended. The Ludwigskirche is one of the most prominent baroque churches in Germany. Of course you will also find countless cozy cafes, shops and you can enjoy yourself at the former industrial estate Völklinger Hütte, which is now used for art and exhibitions. Hike a section of the Saar-Hunsrück Steig The Saar-Hunsrücksteig is one of the most beautiful long-distance trails in Germany and has been growing in popularity in recent years. The total distance of the trail is 410 kilometers, but you can of course also walk short parts or day stages. Many properties in the area have a pick-up and drop-off service where they pick you up and / or drop you off to / from the trail. Conclusion and disclaimer Hopefully I have given you some tips for what to do in Saarland in Germany. It is still a relatively unknown region, but at least as beautiful as, for example, the Eifel and the Moselle. This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through such a link, we may receive a modest commission at no additional cost to you.
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.