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.
Welcome to this post about the best things to do in Mount Rainier National Park. This place was pretty much the icing on the cake for me during my visit to the American Pacific Northwest. I had beautiful weather, made beautiful hikes and had a nice camping spot. It’s the kind of place where as a nature lover you can easily spend a week without getting bored. After leaving Olympic National Park behind, I traveled on to Mount Rainier National Park. In retrospect I should have stayed there longer, but I didn’t know that then. Or as John Muir says: A short impression Before you continue reading, check out the short video that I made of my visit to Mount Rainier National Park below: Where is Mount Rainier National Park located Mount Rainier National Park is about a two-hour drive southeast of the city of Seattle, in northern Washington state. You can reach the national park from Seattle by taking Highways 5 and 7 south. The park consists of several access roads and entrances, about which I will tell more later in this article. I came from Olympic National Park near Port Angeles myself and drove via Tacoma to Mount Rainier National Park, a half day drive. Mount Rainier facts and figures At 14,411 ft / 4.392 meters, Mount Rainier is the highest mountain in the Cascade Range and the fifth highest in the US lower 48, i.e. the states outside Alaska and Hawaii. Only Mount Whitney in California and some peaks in Colorado are higher. Additionally, Mount Rainier ranks third on the list of ultra-prominent mountains in the United States. Only in Alaska are the mountains more prominent. Mount Rainier is an active volcano that last erupted about 1.000 years ago and is covered by no less than 25 glaciers. Good to know before you go As you may have read in one of my other America articles about the Pacific Northwest road trip I made, I didn’t plan my trip very well in advance. I wanted to travel in freedom, but that’s not always easy in the middle of the high season. Of course we have to wait and see what it will be like after the pandemic, but my experience is that in the summer it’s almost impossible to travel in complete freedom inside the national parks. Many campsites are fully booked well in advance and the ‘first come, first serve’ campgrounds are usually occupied already early in the morning. As I came from Port Angeles, I left there around sunrise because I wanted to get a camping spot at Cougar Rock Campground inside the national park. In the end I got there without a reservation and got one of the last spots. However, it wasn’t really a relaxed drive because I drove there and had no idea if I could actually find a spot. As I was traveling alone, it was a little stressful. In other words, if you travel in high season (June – August), it is smart to book your campsite or overnight stay well in advance. In addition, it’s useful to know that Mount Rainier is very high and that you also go up high when you go hiking. It’s therefore smart to take the following into account: 1. possible altitude sickness 2. there’s still snow on the hiking trails well into the summer. I’ll tell you more about the hikes in Mount Rainier National Park below. So if you want to go here for a hike, it’s best to go as late as possible in the season. Many facilities and in around the park are also only open from July 1st. There’s not really a lot of things to do in Mount Rainier National Park outside of the summer season. Most facilities close at the end of September, so the season is relatively short. The entrances to Mount Rainier National Park Because this mountain giant takes up a huge area, you can’t ‘just’ drive from one side of the national park to the other. There are several entry points to Mount Rainier National Park: – the Nisqually Entrance in the southwest, which you take if you are coming from Seattle. This is the main entrance. From here you can drive to Paradise for beautiful hiking trails. And finally through the Stevens Canyon Road to the Stevens Canyon Entrance and the Mather Memorial Parkway. – The Stevens Canyon Entrance to the southeast. You use this when you come from the south. Here is the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center. – White River Entrance, the gateway to Sunrise, the highest point of the national park accessible by car. This entrance is in the northeast of the park. Then there’s the Carbon River Entrance to the northwest of the park, but it’s less used. If you only have one day to spend, I recommend going to Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park. Paradise in Mount Rainier Paradise is the touristic heart of Mount Rainier National Park. As mentioned, this is also the place to go for a hike and visit if you have limited time. The aforementioned Cougar Rock campsite is on the way here. This campsite is already open from the end of May. The famous Skyline Trail starts from here, as well as the beautiful Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center. Visiting this area is one of the top things to do in Mount Rainier and should not be missed. It can be challenging to find a parking space here. To ensure that everything runs smoothly, a one-way route and a parking system are in place. Keep in mind that you may have to park along the road and walk a bit more up to the visitor center. It is best to go as early in the morning as possible to avoid the crowds here. The Paradise Inn is also located here, a beautiful lodge where you can spend the night. However, book these well in advance because overnight stays here are very popular! The Skyline Trail The Skyline Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes I made during my visit to the Pacific Northwest. I knew that Mount Rainier is big, but when I felt like I stood at the foot of this volcano, I felt very small. The entire trail is 5.5 miles long and you can only walk it for a limited number of months per year. I was there at the end of July and there was still so much snow that walking the entire round was strongly discouraged. In the end I got to a point where the snow got too deep and I didn’t want to go any further because here people slid down on their buttocks through the snow. From the visitor center it is quite a climb to Panorama Point, which is at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters. You can already suffer from shortness of breath and altitude sickness here. The trail is well marked and you can’t go wrong. On the way mountain marmots shoot away and you not only have beautiful views in front of you, but also behind you, provided it is a clear day. I was lucky because in the morning Mt Rainier was still in the clouds, but in the afternoon it opened up. From Panorama Point you have beautiful views of the Nisqually Glacier and the top of Mount Rainier. In the summer the flowers are in full bloom and you have beautiful views over the wide landscape. I returned to the visitor center from here because there was too much snow. Do you want to do this trail? Then inquire at the visitor center about what is and what is not possible and try to go as late in the season as possible to be able to walk without snow. Sunrise On the north side of Mount Rainier is Sunrise, the other tourist gateway. This is the highest part of Mount Rainier National Park accessible by car, you drive up to 1,950 meters. Also from here you have beautiful panoramas and you can take beautiful hikes, including the Silver Forest Trail. You cannot stay overnight at Sunrise, the lodge here is a ‘day lodge’ and only open during the day. Reflection Lakes Another beautiful place to visit are the Reflection Lakes south of Paradise. As the name suggests you have a reflection on Mount Rainier here, only I had a lot of wind and therefore no reflection. However, you do have a beautiful view of Mount Rainier here and you can take a short walk there. Also further on at Bench Lake you have a number of beautiful viewpoints, before you descend again towards Stevens Canyon to continue your journey. Trail maps and other things to do in Mount Rainier A simple national park map is available at the visitor centers. If you are going to do one of the recommended hikes, then this will be sufficient, as they are well marked. Various information brochures about the area are also available. If you want to climb Mount Rainier, don’t forget that this is a big expedition that can only be done with a guide for trained mountain hikers who have experience on snow and ice. Mount Rainier lodging, campings, gas and groceries The range of places to stay in the park is limited. As mentioned, Cougar Campground is a great place to stay overnight when camping. If you don’t want to pay the top price for the Paradise Inn or the National Park Inn in Longmire, book a place to stay outside the park. View all options and prices here. Gasoline is not available in Mount Rainier National Park, so make sure you fill up the car as full as possible at your last stop. Due to the mountainous roads I had more gas consumption than planned so I was slightly stressed during my visit. I left the park through Stevens Canyon and was only able to refuel further on Highway 12. It’s also best to take groceries etc. with you from, for example, Seattle or Tacoma. There are a few restaurants in the park at the visitor centers, but they generally have a limited and very unhealthy menu. And else … I really thought Mount Rainier National Park was one of the most beautiful places in America that I have visited. The mountain is so dominant that it sometimes gave me goosebumps just seeing it. In retrospect, I would have liked my visit to be longer, especially since my next spot, North Cascades National Park, was covered in smoke from the wildfires that had broken out in Canada. Are you, like me, a fan of beautiful nature and hiking, then a visit to Mount Rainier National Park is definitely worth it. More information about things to do in Mount Rainier National Park can be found on the NPS website. Book your stuff It’s well advised to book everything in advance as mentioned before so you don’t have to waste time looking for accommodation on the spot. Here’s what I did: – I flew Icelandair to Seattle via Reykjavík from Amsterdam. Find cheap flights on Skyscanner. – Check rental car rates here, always make sure to check your deductible and go with a reliable company such as Herz or Alamo. – Accommodations can be found via Booking.com Also make sure to order your copy of Lonely Planet and the Rand McNally Roadmap before traveling. It makes planning your trip so much more fun! Conclusion and disclaimer Hopefully you found this article with the best things to do in Mount Rainier helpful and I answered all your questions about this magnificent place. However, if you still want to know other things, feel free to leave a comment…
Having been to Alaska no less than seven times over the past 15 years, I think I can give quite an accurate point of view what it’s like to solo travel in Alaska as a female. Not all my trips have been done solo, some have. Note that this article is written from a European point of view. I’m from The Netherlands and have been incredibly lucky to have been to Alaska so many times. In this article I’ll be writing about the part of Alaska that can be reached from Anchorage, so not the panhandle that you’ll visit with a cruise. I’ve solo hiked in Alaska, driven a rental car, went on tours and flew on bushplanes as a passenger. Enjoy reading and preparing your trip to Alaska! Solo travel in Alaska – yes or no? Definitely yes! However there are a few things to consider before going to Alaska, such as booking the majority of your tour ahead and some wilderness guidelines. If you have solo traveled in the United States or Canada before, you may notice some similarities with solo female travel in Alaska. It’s still America after all and the basics are the same. If you want to stay safe, stick to the main roads or trains and you’ll be just fine. Those places are not as ‘dangerous’ as television may make them seem. Transportation in Alaska To be honest, I’ve never done any cruising other than a day trip to a glacier or taking a ferry to get from A to B. In Alaska you won’t find a whole lot of public transport so your best option is to rent a car. This will be great for two reasons: 1. You have all the freedom in the world to stop along the way and take pictures 2. Many awesome places cannot really be reached by trains or the incidental coach service Driving in Alaska I found driving in Alaska more relaxing than in Europe. The roads are quite empty compared to here. If you stick to the main raods (= paved roads) you’ll be just fine and there’s no need to be worried. There may be an incidental pothole or gap in the pavement, but from June until mid-September the major roads are just fine to drive. Those are the road from Anchorage to Fairbanks, Fairbanks to Valdez and Valdez back to Anchorage, as well as the roads to Homer and Seward on the Kenai Peninsula. Unpaved roads such as the Denali Highway and the McCarthy Road should be even be attempted with a rental car. Trains and buses and planes Other transportation options include the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Fairbanks and Anchorage to Seward. I traveled by train for a bit but to be honest I was a bit annoyed by the fact that the train kept on running and I couldn’t really take any photos. Although train travel may seem scenic, it wasn’t my favorite way to travel. There’s also a few bus operators and if you really wish to travel the fancy way, take bushflights. I’ve been on various bushplane services to Lake Clark National Park and Katmai National Park, as well as a scheduled flight from Valdez to Anchorage and scenic flights. The people in Alaska I love Alaskans. Women and men. Even though the men may seem scary at first with their beards and long hair (sorry guys!) the majority of Alaskan men I met are super friendly and helpful. I’ve had really nice chats with them at bars without ever feeling awkward. I once asked a guy to remove a dead bird from the grill of my car after I hit it and generally, the Alaskan men are always super willing to help out. Being from Europe, it’s a conversation maker why you’re in Alaska. People I’ve met are generally friendly and easy to talk to. You’ll also meet plenty of other tourists, mostly those from cruise ships. I never felt lonely in Alaska at all. Safe solo hiking in Alaska If you wish to go solo hiking in Alaska, I suggest you head out on some well trodden trails rather than into the backcountry. Even those trails can still feel quite exciting and even scary at times, given the fact that there’s bears all over. If you are unconfident about solo hiking, try to join a guided hike or see if you can find some people to tag along with at a parking lot. When on my solo hiking at the Harding Icefield Trail I got to chat with a guy from Seattle while hiking back down to the car. I even gave him a ride back to Seward as he didn’t have a car. We were both happy to hike down through the bush together. More can be found in my blogpost about safe solo hiking in Alaska Go on tours The majority of beautiful places can be reached by going on organized tours. The national parks in Alaska don’t really have roads or sights to be visited such as the national parks in the Lower 48 and most visits include transport by bus or boat. Going on a tour is definitely the best way to experience Alaska at its most beautiful and will complete your experience. Great tours that can be done and some of my personal favorites are ice climbing in Wrangell St. Elias National Park, a Denali tour bus and the Kenai Fjords Cruise out of Seward. View all options and tours below or visit my blog with the best adventurous things to do in Alaska About places to stay There aren’t many hostels in Alaska and those that I’ve seen weren’t very awesome. I’ve mostly just camped or stayed in hotels or motels. Airbnb is also a great option. Make sure to book your overnights well in advance as Alaska is open for tourism all year round but tours and excursions are not. June until mid-September is your best best and accommodations will fill up quickly. Check prices and availability here. Some final thoughts about solo female travel in Alaska Although the mountains are higher and the bears bigger, I found solo female travel in Alaska not as scary as it seemed like at first. It’s quite like traveling in the United States and Canada, with limited public transportation yet stunning nature. As mentioned, book a car, go on tours and don’t forget to enjoy it! You will love Alaska and after coming home, I’m sure you’ll want to visit there again and again, just like me. Conclusion and disclaimer I hope you found this article about safe solo female travel in Alaska useful. Please feel to ask me any questions below in case you want to know more. Note that this article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through such a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra fee to you.
Over the past yaers, I received quite a lot of questions about ‘the bus from Into the Wild’, also known as The Magic Bus. So in this blog, I will answer them for you, making the information available for everyone who wants to know more about it. Where to find it, where to find the replica, how the bus got there and why I chose not to go there in the past. Note that the real bus has been removed and this article was written well before that happened in 2020. Updates about where the bus from Into the Wild is now are below!. About the Magic Bus from Into the Wild My first time in Alaska was back in 2007. I was assistant guiding a camping tour and the lead guide thought it would be fun to drive up to the Stampede Road for a bit to see where it would take us. We were driving a 14 passenger supervan and once the road got too bad, we decided to turn around before we got stuck. Until we actually got stuck in a big pool of mud … Luckily there were 12 people in our group to help us digging out the wheels and one hour later, we were on the way again. When we exited the Stampede Road and turned back on to the George Parks Highway, the lead guide told me the story about Chris McCandles and that was when I heard about Into the Wild for the very first time. Into the Wild and how did the bus get there? When I got home, I immediately bought Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and finished it within no-time. The story really got to me and I felt miserable for days, realizing Chris got stuck and had eventually died out there while he was all alone in the Alaskan wilderness. A few months later, the movie came out and suddenly everyone in the world, seemed to know who Alexander Supertramp was. In addition, they felt like they needed to go to Alaska and get over to that bus. The Magic Bus. Fairbanks City Transit System Bus 142. The bus that is stuck in the middle of nowhere and was left abandoned there in 1961 by the crew of the Yutan Construction Company. As a part of my previous job, I sold trips to Alaska. Although the movie hype is pretty much over, I’m was asked every now and then if you can reach the bus and if yes, how to get there. I always answered with the same phrase: “you can get there but it’s not recommended and if the locals will have to come and rescue you, they won’t be happy. It’s Alaska, not Disneyland.” Thing is, unlike many other American places, Alaska is not your typical tourist destination. If it would have been, someone would have thought of making a bridge across the Teklanika River and get busloads of tourists there, just to make money. Fortunately, they don’t and that leaves the only option to get there, which is by foot. Those who are fit should not have trouble with the trail but the big difficulty is the Teklanika River which has to be crossed by foot. Many hikers have gotten into trouble as they were not prepared for this or they just had no idea how to safely cross a river by foot. In 2010 a female hiker died as she was swept away while crossing the river. This proves that hiking to the Magic Bus is no joke. Alaska is unlike any other place in the world. There is no cellphone connection, there’s nothing than vast wilderness around you. If you get into trouble, you’re there all by yourself. Local hunters don’t like people stepping into ‘their land’ and I’ve been told by various people that I talked to during all of my Alaska trips, that locals are tired of having to rescue hikers from the trail because they got into trouble. In fact, they rather don’t see any tourists coming there to see the bus at all… To go or not to go … Sure, I’ve been thinking of going to the bus as some kind of pilgrimage but eventually decided not to. There are various reasons, but the most important one being that nobody in Alaska asks for this kind of tourism. OK, maybe a few do, but most Alaskans are not amused by yet another hiker attempting to be the next Chris McCandles. Having been to Alaska seven times over the past years and having spoken to many locals, they see those tourists as fools and the next stupid adventurer. Do I want them to think of me like that? No. Will I become a better person if I go and see that bus? No. Is the trail really that stunning? No. Am I willing to risk my life to get to that bus? No. Back in 2011 I did a serious river crossing while hiking in Iceland and I nearly got swept away. It was a terrifying experience and back then I swore to never do any river crossings anymore. Of course I did them again ever since, but I stayed away from the big rivers. I still recall the moment I was ready to give up my battle against the water and let myself be swept away by the river, my back then partner pulled me out of the water. Just as I’m typing this, shivers run down by my spine just by the thought of having to do such a thing again… water has always been and will forever be my worst enemy. How to find the movie bus from Into the Wild Luckily, there is an alternative. Sure, it’s not as good as ‘the real deal’ but it was good enough for me. If you head out to Healy near Denali National Park, you will find the 49th State Brewery there and they bought the bus that was used for the movie. Although it’s in a touristic place, when we were there, nobody seemed to pay attention to it and we could take pictures as we wanted. Kids were playing soccer in front of the bus and nobody even seemed to raise an eyebrow as I was taking pictures. That’s just how it works in Alaska… Where is the original bus from Into the Wild now? In the summer of 2020 the original bus from Into the Wild was airlifted to Fairbanks after another death of a hiker attempted to reach the bus. I actually received a call from the BBC and Dutch National radio to talk about this and found out while on vacation. At this moment (november 2021) the bus is still in Fairbanks, at the University Campus. Here, conservation work is done and it will take a few years to finish. However the bus is no display for visitors. More information can be found here. Conclusion and disclaimer My heart feels sad for the bus being removed but I can totally see why this happened. Alaska is not your typical travel destination and having been to Alaska seven times I still feel that it’s a truly wild place where everything is different than the other US states. I hope that one day the bus will be on display for those wishing to see it but am glad that it can no longer be visited for pilgrims, for the sake of Alaskans who put their own lives in danger in order to save irresponsible hikers.
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.