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.
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.
Have you ever heard of the Marker Wadden? This nature reserve in the Markermeer in The Netherlands consists of various islands and is part of the Nieuw Land National Park. The national park has been open to the public since 2020 and I was asked to visit Marker Wadden in collaboration with Dutch National Parks. In this article I will tell you all about it including a lot of practical information for your visit. Enjoy reading! Also read: a micro adventure on the Wadden Sea during a running aground excursion About the Marker Wadden and National Park Nieuw Land The Marker Wadden is the largest man-made nature reserve in the world. Construction started in 2016 and the ‘Haveneiland’ (Harbor Island) was accessible to visitors for the first time in 2020. The Marker Wadden islands are of great importance for birds, fish and underwater nature and provide new life in the Markermeer. There are currently five islands, of which only the Haveneiland is accessible to visitors, the rest of the islands is for nature. The location of the Marker Wadden is northwest of Lelystad in the Markermeer. The Marker Wadden are part of the Nieuw Land (New Land) National Park, the 21st and newest national park in The Netherlands. The other parts of the Nieuw Land National Park are the Markermeer, the Lepelaarsplassen and the Oostvaardersplassen. Together they share the rich history of the former Zuiderzee and the creation of the Flevopolder. Visiting the Marker Wadden You can visit the Marker Wadden in various ways. For example, a ferry goes to the Marker Wadden from the port of Lelystad, the rates and the sailing schedule can be found on the Natuurmonumenten website. You can also join an expedition, I traveled with the Abel Tasman via Rederij Naupar. If you have your own ship, you are also very welcome in the port of the Marker Wadden. The national park is not accessible over land. The Marker Wadden is a walking island, bicycles and motorized transport are not allowed. Some paths are accessible for wheelchairs and disabled people. An expedition to the Marker Wadden It is a sunny Sunday in September when I arrive in the port of Lelystad. As soon as we have left the port of Lelystad, the sails are hoisted and we set course for the Marker Wadden. It is a clear day and soon I can already see the Haveneiland in the distance. Slowly but steadily we get closer and after lunch is served on board, the Abel Tasman moors in the harbor of the Marker Wadden. It’s busy because it’s a sunny day, but that can be expected on a Sunday after all. I have two hours to spend on the Marker Wadden. I decide to stop by the information point first, which you can find near the harbor. The guided hikes and excursions are already fully booked for the day, so I decide to go out and explore by myself instead. Bird watching on the Marker Wadden My first stop is at the Steltloper observation tower, which is located on the beach of the Marker Wadden. From the lookout you have a wide view of the Haveneiland and the Markermeer. I quickly shoot some photos and then continue my way to one of the bird watching spots. Because the Marker Wadden are still under construction, there are warnings about quicksand here all around. It is important to stay on the indicated trails and not leave them. Not much later I arrive at birdwatching hut Lepelaar. There are not many other people when I step inside and it shows that there are no other birds to be seen at the moment except ducks. I scan the water anyway, but see no other birds. Via a number of beautiful boardwalks I walk to the next birdwatching hut: Duikeend. This is a very special viewing hut because you can partly see under water. I see a heron and various other birds. Because of the distance to be kept, I cannot stay long because I would also like to give other visitors the opportunity to spot birds from this unique location. Once back at the harbor, I have about fifteen minutes left before I have to board the Abel Tasman again for the return sailing back to Lelystad. I decide to buy a drink at the beach pavilion and enjoy the wind in my hair and the sun shining on my face on the beach. It’s clear that the beach is a popular destination because I have not seen as many people as there are here on the rest of the island. By then it is time to return to the ship for the return trip to Lelystad, where we sail back into the port about two hours later. An expedition to the Marker Wadden: yes or no? Personally, I found the two hours I had on the short side. As a nature lover I love to stroll around at my pace, to be somewhere for a longer period of time with my binoculars and to explore everything at my leisure. Because I was a bit under time pressure, I felt like I had to hurry and couldn’t take the time I normally would. Having said this, I think that two hours are more than enough for non-bird watchers to get a good impression of the Marker Wadden. You can visit the Steltloper in the two hours as well as some bird huts and combine this with a visit to the beach. Staying overnight on the Marker Wadden If I go to the Marker Wadden again in the future (which I certainly plan) I will try to stay there overnight. Because many boats dock mid-day, the island is also busy around that time. As the accommodation options are limited, I heard that you are almost alone on the island in the evening and in the morning. At this moment there are a few cabins from Landal Marker Wadden and the opening of a natural camping area is planned in 2021. With your own ship it is also possible to spend the night on the Marker Wadden. Walking on the Marker Wadden Various walking trails have been laid out on Haveneiland that are flat and easily accessible. At the pavilion you can get a map of the Marker Wadden with the hiking trails and an overview of the viewpoints. Besides the Steltloper there are two bird huts and there is also a bird watching screen Aalscholver, which I could not visit due to the limited time. All sights are within walking distance of each other. Some trails are closed during the breeding season, inquire at the information point about the possibilities. In addition, various guided walks are organized by Natuurmonumenten. Ook nog handig om te weten Dogs are only allowed on a leash around the harbor basin. There are no garbage bins so carry out what you carry in and there is only a public toilet at the pavilion. The island is still under construction and so not everything is accessible, sometimes you will see an excavator or other construction tools in the landscape. Surfing and drones are not allowed on the Marker Wadden. Also good to know Short but sweet, that was my visit to the Marker Wadden in National Park Nieuw Land. The short visit certainly convinced me to come back again and perhaps spend the night on the Marker Wadden in the future. I thought it was very impressive to see how man-made nature can bring about so much beauty and become a home for so many birds. I made this expedition to the Marker Wadden in collaboration with Dutch National Parks. All opinions expressed are of course only my own. I will visit five national parks and nature reserves in the fall of 2020, the other articles I wrote about this can be found here.
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.