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.
The best multi day hikes in the world (2023 edition)
The world’s best multi day hikes: an introduction A couple of years ago I wrote this article with the 10 best multi day hikes in the world. It has been online for almost six years now and up until now, it’s one of my most read articles. By now I have moved around the world quite a bit more and added a few more great hikes to the list. So here is my top 24 of the best multi day treks in the world that everyone should make. All hiked and experienced, mostly in full and sometimes in parts only by yours truly. Some I hiked even more than once. Enjoy this article with the best multiday hikes in the world. I’ve decided to mention the treks by region so the order below is definitely not the order in which they are my favorite. However … if you continue reading you will find out which one is my absolute favorite trek in the world! Note that I wrote this article for the first time in 2014 and fully updated it in February 2023 The best multi day hikes in Europe I did most of the multiday hikes in the Netherlands (my homecountry) and in Europe. When I started hiking in 2004, I had never thought that there would be so many hiking trails in Europe. Although I have done countless trips in the Netherlands, I have not mentioned them all, but only two of my favorites. The list would otherwise be endless as you can easily walk all your life in Europe and not hit a trail twice. Here are my favorite hikes in Europe: Pieterpad, The Netherlands I walked various long distance hikes in The Netherlands here but the Pieterpad (Path of St. Peter) is the best one you can do. There is a lot of variety in the landscape and it’s easy to hike from town to town, so you can either do it in one go or like I did, in a couple of years. The parts near Limburg and Salland were definitely my favorites! Duration: about 26 days Length: 492 km Difficulty: easy Best time of the the year to hike it: year round Departs from: you can start walking anywhere Where to get supplies: in nearly every village you will walk through Krijtlandpad, The Netherlands My other favorite hike in the Netherlands is the Krijtlandpad in the province of South Limburg. I walked this 90-kilometer trek on two weekends and I thought it was a wonderful trip to practice for more serious work in alpine terrain. The rolling landscapes, marl plateau and the charming Limburg villages really made it a perfect hike in my own country. Duration: approx. 6 days Length: 90 km Difficulty: easy Departure: Maastricht or Vaals Where to get supplies: in Maastricht, Vaals, Eupen and Gulpen Lee Trail, Luxemburg The Lee Trail in Luxembourg is one of the best 3 day hikes that makes the calves burn considerably and is certainly not suitable for unexperienced hikers. I recently hiked the Lee Trail with a full pack and I can tell you that it was pretty tough for someone who lives in a flat country. The trail runs from Ettelbrück to Kautenbach and a train connects the beginning with the end. On the way you can camp or sleep in hotels and the altitude gain per day varies between 500 and 800 meters. One of the best views you have from the Gringlee (473 m.) Deep into the valley, at the end of day 1 just before the descent. Although the trail is not very technical, there are some steep parts in it that require the necessary effort and attention. Duration: 3 days Length: 53 km Difficulty: medium Departure: Ettelbrück or Kautenbach Where to get supplies: only in Ettelbrück Mullerthal Trail, Luxembourg A more famous multi-day hiking tour in Luxembourg is the Mullerthal Trail. This trail is in my opinion one of the most beautiful trails in Europe and offers the necessary challenge for both novice and more advanced hikers. It consists of 6 stages in 3 loops that are all between 15 and 25 kilometers. The Mullerthal is also called the Switzerland of Luxembourg (or Little Switzerland) and is made by bizarre rock formations, splashing streams and deep fairytale like forests. Duration: 6 days Length: 112 km Difficulty: medium Departure: From Echternach, Mullerthal or Larochette Where to get supplies: in Echternach or Larochette Read more: – Hiking the Mullerthal Trail in Luxembourg Berliner Höhenweg, Austria WOW! That was the feeling I got when I hiked the first day of the Berliner Höhenweg in Austria. I steadily hiked up to my first overnight stay and within a couple of hours I was right in the heart of the Zillertaler Alps. From here onwards the hike is just stunning. You take old cattle trails which can be extremely narrow, the drop offs are big and so there is no space for fear of heights. It’s incredibly gorgeous though, you will love the glaciers and the mountain peaks surrounding you! It’s an alpine hike exactly the way an alpine hike should be! Duration: between 2-7 days Length: 70 km Difficulty: strenuous Best time of the the year to hike it: July, August, early September Departs from: Finkenberg (near Mayrhofen) Where to get supplies: you can buy meals in the mountain huts Alpe Adria Trail – Austria, Slovenia and Italy According to National Geographic, the Alpe Adria Trail is one of the most beautiful long-distance walks in Europe. This 750 kilometer long trek is a gem among the multiday treks in Europe and still relatively unknown, so you will not come across many hikers. The trail starts at the foot of the Grossglockner (Alpe) and ends at the Adriatic Sea (Adria) and takes you through Carinthia in Austria, Italy and Slovenia. I hiked three sections in Austria and one section in Slovenia. It’s good to know that you can walk from hotel to hotel, there are only a few mountain huts on the way and camping is limited. Duration: 43 days Length: 750 km Gravity: medium Departure: Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe, Carinthia Want to read more? Then check this page with all my Alpe Adria Trail blogs. Rothaarsteig, Germany Lets move on to Germany, where they might actually have the most multi day hikes in Europe. I hiked countless of them (mostly part of it because they are often hundreds of kilometers) and one of my favorites is the Rothaarsteig. This is just a few hours’ drive from the Netherlands in the Rothaargebirge, of which the more often called Sauerland is a part. I have walked about two-thirds of the trail in the past, I hope to do the rest in the future. The trail combines busy places like Willingen but also quiet villages that are almost empty. Duration: approx. 12 days Length: 155 km Difficulty: medium Departure: Brilon Where to buy supplies: possible in the larger towns along the way Albsteig Schwarzwald Very recently (May 2019) I walked two-thirds of the Albsteig Schwarzwald in the Black Forest. What a special hike this is! This medium-length hiking trail leads you through the hills of the southern German landscape along waterfalls, over narrow mountain paths and crystal clear lakes. In the spring you can still have a chance of snow at Feldberg, the winter sports resort of southern Germany. There was still snow when I got to the summit mid-May. Duration: 7 days Length: 83 km Gravity: medium Departure: Albbruck Where to buy supplies: en route in Görwihl and St. Blasien Also read: – Hiking in the Black Forest in Germany Laugavegur, Iceland Time to move onto the more northerly destinations, my favorite places in the world. Just a 3-hour flight from mainland Europe you will find an unprecedented wilderness in the area that is also called “land of fire and ice”. I’m of course talking about Iceland, undoubtedly known for the recent volcanic eruptions. The Laugavegur is located in the southern interior of Iceland: a beautiful 3- to 4-day hike. The hike starts at the rhyolite mountains of Landmannalaugar and takes you over high peaks and deep valleys to the green Thórsmörk, overlooking the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Along the way you will come across hot springs, glaciers and wild swirling rivers. I think that, even though I did this trip about 10 years ago, it is still the most beautiful hikethat I have ever done. I’ve returned to Iceland many times ever since and would love to hike this trail again one day. Duration: 3-4 days Distance: 55 km Difficulty: medium, in poor weather strenuous Best time of the the year to hike it: July and August Departs from: from Landmannalaugar, which can be reached by bus from Reykjavík Where to get supplies: only in Landmannalaugar or Thórsmörk Want to read more? – Hiking the Laugavegur in Iceland: a day to day description – Adventure and solo hiking in Landmannalaugar, Iceland Kungsleden, Sweden Last summer I hiked various sections of the Kungsleden (the King’s Trail) in Sweden with my partner. This legendary trek in Sweden is 425 kilometers long and takes you through Lapland, from Abisko National Park in the north to Hemavan in the south. The upper part is the best accessible and therefore also the busiest. We therefore walked two different sections from the south: Hemavan – Ammarnäs (tip: get dropped off by helicopter!) and Kvikjokk – Saltoluokta. You also have to cross a number of lakes on this last leg, possibly by rowing boat. The great thing about the Kungsleden is that you can camp anywhere, this ensures that you stay overnight at particularly beautiful locations. I can’t wait to ever walk the rest of this hike hopefully this summer again. Duration: approx. 30 days Length: 425 km Difficulty: medium Departure: Abisko (north) or Hemavan (south), possibly half way in Kvikkjokk or Saltoluokta Read more about the Kungsleden section from Ammarnäs to Hemavan here and also check the video below: Aurlandsdalen, Norway There are plenty of multi day hikes in Norway and Aurlandsdalen is one of the lesser known ones. This two-day hike takes you through what’s also called ‘the Grand Canyon of Norway’ and is quite different from the fjord hikes that are usually mentioned when you talk about hiking in Norway. Because I was traveling early in the season, I only walked day two of this trail, from Østerbø to Vassbygdi. Duration: 2 days Length: 40 km Difficulty: medium Departure: Geiteryggen Where to buy supplies: none Glen Affric, Scotland An unknown and not too heavy two-day trek that you can make in Scotland is this to Glen Affric Youth Hostel. This inn is at least a four-hour walk from civilization and is a great base for a trip through one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland. This two-day walk is part of The Affric Kintail Way and the Great Glen Way. Book your overnight stay in advance, the hostel is always fully booked. There are several approach routes, I parked in Morvich and walked up and down from here to the hostel. Duration: 2 days Length: 30 km Gravity: medium Departure: Morvich Where to buy supplies: limited at the hostel Also read: the best hikes in Scotland Most beautiful multi day hikes in Asia To be honest, I am not a huge Asia fan. At least, it is not on my number 1 list of must-sees. Except Nepal, because Nepal is really a great place for a multi day hike. I have traveled to Asia six times in recent years and made a trek five times, three of which I share in this article. Here they are: …
The Best Time to Visit Playa Del Carmen
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.
About mud, rivers, beaches and feeling (un)happy / Te Araroa diaries 3
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.
Everest Base Camp Trek or Annapurna Base Camp Trek
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.
Hiking in Europe: 12 of the best hiking trails
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 best hikes in New Zealand
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!
Safe solo hiking as a female: my tips and tricks
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.
The best hikes in Tasmania
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!
A guide to things to do at Crater Lake National Park
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.