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.
Last summer I started a discovery tour through a number of national parks in the Netherlands in collaboration with Dutch National Parks. I still had one park to go when a new lockdown was announced in October and so my visit to National Park Sallandse Heuvelrug was postponed to this year. The idea was to not only just hike, but also do some other special activities to show that there is more to do than hiking or biking. Last week the time had come and I visited the Sallandse Heuvelrug. I did three different things: a hike over the Sprengenberg, I met with the sheep herd of Lemelerveld and I visited the Observatory Hellendoorn. Over de Nationaal Park Sallandse Heuvelrug The Sallandse Heuvelrug National Park is located in Overijssel, roughly between the cities of Deventer, Zwolle and Enschede. The park is located on a ridge, which is an old moraine formed in the ice age and has 26 hills of which the highest is 73 meters high. The rolling landschape is the perfect place for walking, cycling and other outdoor activities. The most important access center is the Buitencentrum Sallandse Heuvelrug in Nijverdal. In addition, there are three other places that are excellent to start your adventure, which are Erve de Pas, Information Center Canadian Cemetery and Nature Museum Holterberg. Walking in Sallandse Heuvelrug I start my visit at the parking lot De Sprengenberg and Erve de Pas. Several hiking trails start from here, I do the 5.6 kilometer long orange route that takes me right across the Sprengenberg and surrounding area. The Sprengenberg is a very interesting area, where heath and forest alternate. Also special is the trail full of azaleas that are in full bloom in spring. I’m actually just too late in the season, but luckily I still see some pink flowers in the landscape. What a pleasure it must be to walk here during the blooming period! De Palthetoren Very special in the landscape is the Palthetoren (‘Palthetower’), which is located on the hill and rises above the surrounding trees. This villa was built in 1903 by A. A. W. van Wulfften – Palthe to stay during and after his hunt through the estate that he owned. The house is not accessible to the public, but can be clearly seen from the orange hiking track. Further along the trail you will come across the old bathhouse that belongs to the villa. A meeting with forester Jos After my lunch at the restaurant of Herberg Erve de Pas it is time for a meeting with forester Jos. He works for Natuurmonumenten and I think it would be interesting to talk to him about the area. First I ask him what is so special about the Sallandse Heuvelrug and he tells me that this is the only place in the Netherlands where grouse still live in the wild. This animal is in danger of extinction and currently only about 25 are alive and a number of new ones from Sweden are added every year to keep the population healthy. I also ask him about the future of the national park, because with the arrival of the corona virus, the number of visitors to the national park has also increased enormously. Jos says that last year there were as many visitors on an average weekday as there were on a Sunday prior to the pandemic. It is very busy on Sundays. He is committed to spreading the visitors better and also to introduce them to the villages and areas around the national park, in order to reduce the load on the beaten paths. In collaboration with the surrounding villages, new walking and cycling routes are being set up that also allow visitors to experience nature beyond the park boundaries. He also hopes that in the future more people will use public transport to get to the national park. Both Nijverdal and Holten have a train station and from there there are countless options to explore the park. The last question I ask him is what he recommends to visitors. “Just stand still for a moment. Sit down somewhere and keep your mouth shut and your ears and eyes open. Be open to the environment and you will be amazed by all the beauty you see.’ With this beautiful conclusion we say goodbye and I go to my next destination: the Schaapskooi Lemelerberg. The sheepherd on Lemelerberg The day before my trip I already had contact with Anita: the shepherd of the Lemelerberg nature reserve, which is located in the north of the Sallandse Heuvelrug. Together with her 260 Veluwe heath sheep, she can be found daily in the area, but today they come to the sheepfold because they are sheared the next day. I meet Anita just when the sheep have gone inside and I ask her about life as a shepherd. Actually, I don’t know that much about sheep. I’m therefore amazed by Anita’s stories about how she carries the herd over the hills each day and in this way ensures that the landscape remains intact. Anita’s herd consists of about 260 sheep. Every year at the end of the summer she makes a ‘selection’ of the sheep that can stay and sheep that have to leave the herd. Older ladies, for example, who no longer have lower teeth, cannot eat enough and thus no longer do their job properly. And what happens to the sheep at night? “Then they stay on the heath with an electric wire around it. I then look for a place where there is enough food and water for them.” Of course, Anita cannot be with the herd every day, so she works with a number of volunteers who support her. If you want to visit the sheep herd, please contact Landscape Overijssel who can tell you where Anita and her sheep can be found on the mountain. The sheepfold is not accessible to the public as it’s privately owned. Off to the Observatory After a delicious dinner at De Budde in Nijverdal, the last part is on the program: a visit to the Observatory in Nijverdal. It’s located in the Buitencentrum of Staatsbosbeheer. Although I had been here before, I had not noticed that there is a large dome on top of the building. I’m welcomed here by volunteer Cor who gives me a brief tour of the Observatory. First I step on the Sky Walk, an observation platform at a height of 8 meters. Here you can also find the radio telescope, a satellite of 3 meters in size. From here I watch Cor open the dome so they can look at the stars with the telescopes from here. Then I visit the huge telescopes that are in the dome. Also unique here is the sun observatory with which the sun can be observed. It is the only one of its kind in the Netherlands. Unfortunately I can’t visit the planetarium, but the photo below gives an idea of what it looks like. Would you like to visit the Observatory yourself? There are various programs to follow as well as lectures and courses. More information can be found on the Hellendoorn Observatory website. Conclusion and disclaimer My visit to the Sallandse Heuvelrug National Park has shown me once again how beautiful this part of the Netherlands is. It was special to be able to talk to those who work here and ensure that nature is preserved in the area. Would you like to do a fun activity in the national park yourself? Go here to see all that is going on in the national park. All my other Dutch National Park articles can be found here. Hopefully you have enjoyed this article and I have inspired you to pay a visit to Sallandse Heuvelrug National Park. I made this blog article in collaboration with Experience the National Parks. All opinions given are my own only.
Our journey through Baden-Württemberg continues! After a two night stay in the Remstal, we head onwards to the western Bodensee region for the last few days of my visit to this part of Germany. By train I travel to Konstanz (Constance) from Stuttgart, where we’ll stay for the next two nights. Lake Constance is located on the border of three countries: Austria, Switzerland and Germany. The lake is gigantic: it provides more than four million families with drinking water every day. We only stay here for a day and a half but still get see a lot. Here’s how we enjoyed it! Sunset over the Rhine The main “feed” for Lake Constance is the river Rhine, which flows from the mountains into the lake on the eastern side and out again on the western ‘Untersee’. Eventually it will pass here at my hometown of Arnhem in The Netherlands. After our dinner at Hotel 47° we take a short walk along the boulevard of Konstanz and the sunset is beautiful. People are out everywhere, it’s clearly the weekend and everyone is heading out! A walk along the banks of the lake As our train was delayed upon arrival in Konstanz, we didn’t have time to explore the city after arrival. Instead we take a short walk in the morning, we decide to walk from our hotel along the shores of the lake to the station to get a short impression of Lake Constance. There is already plenty to do on the lake: there’s canoes, people are jogging along the promenade and there are several boats on the lake for a cruise. In the distance, despite the hazy weather, we see the snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps. Although I could have enjoyed a whole day in Konstanz, we board the train at the end of the morning to the town of Singen. A Premium Wanderweg (prime walk) is waiting for us here. Volcanoes on the western side of the lake Did you know that there are volcanoes on the western side of Lake Constance? I didn’t know and was pleasantly surprised when we were on the train to Singen: all around us small peaks popped up in the landscape. Some quite flattened, some pointed and steep. They are located in the Hegau region and were formed about 7-8 million years ago, after a volcanic eruption in the landscape. After this, the area was covered during the ice age and since the melting of this ice and after years of erosion, the current landscape is the result. A series of excellent hiking routes has been set out around these volcanoes: the Premium Wanderwege of the Hegauer Kegelspiel. The walks vary in length between 7 and 15 kilometers and are well marked in the landscape. The hiking guidebook “Premium Wandern am western Bodensee” is available free of charge at the various tourist information offices. It’s in German but the maps are easy to follow. Hohentwieler hike We do the Hohentwieler circular walk, a hike of about 8 kilometers (plus extra distance from/to the fortress). The Hohentwiel is the largest castle ruin in Germany accessible to tourists. The castle was built in 914 by Burchard II. Originally there was a monastery located in the fortress, but this was moved elsewhere in 1005. After that, the castle also served as a prison and in 1801 the castle was destroyed after the Germans had handed it over to the French. The Hohentwiel is located at 690 meters above sea level and stands fiercely above Singen, you can see it from everywhere in the region. The start of the hike is at the information center halfway up the mountain. You take the ‘Seehas’ train to Singen Landesgartenschau and walk to the bus stop around the corner on Hohentwielerstrasse. This bus is free and will take you uphill to the information center. When you arrive here, buy your ticket for the entrance immediately, if you want to visit the castle after your walk. I made a short video about this trip, check it out here: Through the Schanzzelgle forests From the starting point we first descend through meadows to the Schanzzelgle nature reserve. At the back of this area we have a view of the Ettenberg and in the distance the other peaks of the Hegauer volcanoes. We reach Twielfeld, walk through the vineyards and finally stand at the base of the Hohentwiel. The climb is about to begin. Climb to the top of Hohentwiel Where the path was previously wide and only slightly uphill, the last part goes up steeply and over a narrow mountain trail. Here the fun really starts, it is a wonderful but strenuous mountain hike for the last kilometer. Goats are standing on the steep slope below us and after entering the forest, we find some shade after being out in the sun. Shortly after we arrive at the base of the Hohentwiel. Here the walk continues back down and the information center, but of course we will visit the fortress before continuing our hike. The Hohentwiel The final stretch to Hohentwiel fortress is also quite a climb up, but not much later we are at the very top and, to be honest, we have a beautiful 360° view over the entire area of the western Lake Constance. At the top we take a look around the old buildings and we even climb a huge tower. We really can’t go any higher from here. Meanwhile, a strong wind has presented itself and the clouds have gathered above us. We quickly take a few pictures of the view, before we descend again and grab a drink in one of the cafes before catching the bus back to Singen. Dinner at Gasthof Kreuz Before boarding the train back to Konstanz, we have dinner at Gasthaus Kreuz in Singen. Located a few minutes’ walk from the train station only, this restaurant is located in a half-timbered house. We are provided with an excellent meal, the best of the whole trip by far. The owner of the restaurant likes to serve excellent food here in an informal way and we succeed, in our sweaty hiking clothes. A dessert unfortunately does not fit into our bellies and so after a cup of coffee we decide to take the train back to Konstanz. Saying goodbye to Konstanz The next morning we unfortunately have to take the train back home again. The visit to Lake Constance was too short, but we certainly got a good impression of it. Earlier I visited the city of Bregenz on the Austrian side, next time I might go to the Swiss side. Nice to know: the booklet with Premium Wanderwege also contains a proposal for a 53 kilometer long ‘Seegang’ walk that you could do in 3 or 4 stages. This walk starts in Petershausen Konstanz and ends in Uberlingen. Conclusion and disclaimer Although in the beginning I thought ‘hmmm I don’t know if a castle walk is really something I might enjoy’, I’m actually very enthusiastic about this hiking trail. It was pleasantly surprising with stunning views of the region and strenuous enough to keep me happy. I was invited to make this trip by Baden-Württemberg Tourismus. All opinions given are, of course, only my own.
Have you ever heard of the Remstal in Baden-Württemberg? This beautiful valley in the south of Germany has shaped around the river Rems and is filled with rolling vineyards, deep forests and beautiful views from everywhere. But … without the crowds that you may typically find in the Moselle or the Eifel regions, for example. In collaboration with Baden-Württemberg Tourismus and Stuttgart Tourismus, I made a short hiking trip in this region. In this blog article I will tell you why a visit to and a walk in the Remstal should definitely be on your bucket list! And psst …. that’s not just for the excellent wines that are produced here! About the Remstal The Remstal is located from west to east between Stuttgart and Aalen in the south of Germany. Their motto is ‘Natur, Kultur, Wein’ and that is exactly how I experienced the Remstal myself. In the valley, the hills are covered by steep vineyards and you can really enjoy the good life here. In addition, there are many historic villages and towns, such as Schorndorf and Strümfelpbach, where you will find beautiful old half-timbered houses. In this short video you get a quick impression of the area: The good thing about hiking in Germany I’ve been coming to Germany for their excellent hiking trails for years now. To me, Germany is a perfect hiking destination where I can step onto the trail carefree during the day and enjoy a good meal and a nice glass of wine in the evening. Since I’m traveling by train from my hometown in The Netherlands this time, I’m taking walks that can easily be done by public transport. This is super easy, as a train runs through the Remstal and the villages that are not along that line can be reached by bus. Depending on the number of days you use public transport, you can buy a pass for several days, with which you can use all regional trains and buses. A city walk in Schorndorf We start our visit to the Remstal with a city walk through Schorndorf. This is Gottlieb Daimler’s hometown. I’m not that much into cars and automobile history, but if this seems interesting to you, be sure to visit the Gottlieb Daimler Geburtshaus on the Höllgasse. At first we try to follow a city walking route, but soon we decide to leave it and just stroll through the narrow streets at our own discretion. We sit down on the terrace, take pictures and shelter from the downpour. Despite the rain it is nice to be back in Germany. We stay overnight in the charming Boutique Hotel Pfauen, right in the center of Schorndorf. It is a half-timbered house with a rich history, next to the birthplace of Gottlieb Daimler. The current owners have recently completed an extensive renovation. The small-scale and historic character has been preserved, but the rooms are spacious and comfortably furnished. There is an espresso machine and a fruit platter ready for us to start the day with. The hotel restaurant is currently closed, but if I can believe the reviews, this restaurant alone is a good reason to return to Schorndorf again. Hiking the RemstalWeg The RemstalWeg is a 215-kilometer long distance hiking trail that starts in Fellbach and ends in Remseck am Neckar. There are a total of 11 stages that vary in length between 11 and 25 kilometers, but can be shortened or extended at your own choice. Along the way you regularly pass through villages where you can spend the night and/or take public transport back to your starting point. We walk from Strümpfelbach to Winterbach, a distance of about 20 kilometers. The official stage runs between Strümpfelbach and Schorndorf and is 22.3 kilometers long. However, a thunderstorm was coming and we decided to shorten it. Between vineyards and orchards The RemstalWeg is marked in the landscape with yellow signs. We pick it up effortlessly in Strümpfelbach and soon rise above the village, into the vineyards. The trail is simple: we follow the paved road that winds through the vineyards. Once at the top we have a beautiful view of the surroundings at the Karlstein. We descend to Schnaitt through orchards and along narrow forest trails. Immediately after the village the trail goes steeply up again. This time it is the middle of the day and super warm, there is a water hose at the top and we like to use that to cool ourselves. After Schnaitt we enter the forest and cross the Nonnenberg. Around us dark skies gather and rumble. We arrive on top of the mountain, where the small village of Manolzweiler is located. Here we will have a break until the rain is over. As it remains dark and threatening, we eventually descend via Engelberg to Winterbach, where we board the train back to Schorndorf. Arriving here it starts pouring down from above and we decide to drink the bottle of wine that we got for along the way in the hotel. Hiking the Remstal yourself? This will help! You can pick up a booklet including a route map at the various tourist information offices along the route. The trail is well marked, but we still had to search for signs every now and then. That is why I recommend that you also download the GPX just in case. The start and end of each section are accessible by public transport and along the way you regularly pass through villages where you can spend the night. There are hardly any campsites, so it is mainly a trail that you walk from hotel to hotel (or gasthaus, B&B, etc.). Freedom camping is not allowed in Germany. The trail is quite simple and not very technical yet is has a lot of climbs and descents. A large part of the section we walked was paved, something to take into account when choosing the right kind of hiking shoes! The Stuttgarter Weinwanderweg The next day it is time for another hike: the Stuttgarter Weinwanderweg. This 12 kilometer circular walk starts at the train station in Obertürkheim and takes you, via Uhlbach and the Rotenberg to Untertürkheim. Here you can get on the train back to the starting point or also walk this last part. Because we only had the morning available (we traveled to Lake Constance in the afternoon) we shortened the route slightly. Our walk leaves from Obertürkheim and immediately goes up steeply. Our guide tells us interesting facts and stories about wine making in the region along the way. She points out a few wineries where you can taste wine (which were unfortunately still closed at the time of our visit) and possibly have a nice meal. In Uhlbach we stop for a cup of coffee and admire beautiful half-timbered houses. After this it is quite a climb because the Grabkapelle comes into view. This chapel on the Württemberg was built by King Wilhelm I for his wife Katharina, who died only three years after their wedding. The official cause of death is said to be a virus, but she is also rumored to have died of heartbreak. It turned out that King Wilhelm, despite being much loved by the German people, was cheating on her and her heart broke when she found out. After our visit to the Grabkapelle we enjoy the special views for a while. Special because the vineyards are a huge contrast with the industry of Stuttgart that are down below us. Still, as locals told me, Stuttgart is a very nice city to live in, simply because you can be outdoors and outside the city in no time and it’s is located in the middle of the green hills. Wine tasting Unfortunately, the local wineries are still closed but will most of them will reopen soon. But we can go to the Rotenberger Weingärtle for a mini-tasting. And for a delicious Käsespäzele: a plate full of cheese and dough but definitely my favorite German dish. In Untertürkheim we board the train to Lake Constance, where our next adventure awaits. Would you like to hike the Weinwanderweg yourself? Information panels are located at the mentioned train stations, as well as en route. The trail is well marked in the landscape as well. Would you also like to travel with a guide like we did? On this page you will find all guided walking tours that you can take in Stuttgart and the surrounding area. Also good to know The Remstal is easily accessible by train. From most places in Germany you can reach Stuttgart within a few hours with the ICE train. Here you can take the train or S-Bahn to the Remstal. When I compare the Remstal with other destinations in Germany, I noticed how wonderfully quiet it was here. Because the Remstal is still relatively unknown for walking, it is especially recommended if you want to go somewhere other than the Moselle, the Harz or the Eifel. Want to continue reading? Then follow us to the western Bodensee, the next part of our journey. Conclusion and disclaimer I was invited to make this trip by Baden-Württemberg Tourismus. All opinions given are, of course, only my own. I traveled when Germany reopened for tourism. Please research yourself what the current travel restrictions are at the time of your journey.
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.