15 Death-Defying Hiking Trails And Cliff Diving Spots For Adventure Junkies

By SJ Baxter

When we think of vacations, we often consider the beach, amusement parks, or even just staying at home and lounging on the bed or sofa.

For others, however, especially for people who love going out on an adventure, going extreme is just the thing to make their vacation fun and memorable.

The goal? Find the next destination that can give them a shot of adrenaline that is legal, painless, and preferably drug-free.

Whether you are the lounge-around-type of person or the extreme-sports junkie, you can end up having fun while appreciating life by visiting these death-defying hiking trails and cliff diving spots!

 

Nausea-Inducing Hiking Trails

Time to dust off your signature sneakers and your age-old sleeping bag from the basement. Heaven knows you need both to keep yourself safe and warm while hiking through these famous trails. And while you are at it, be sure that you have high-quality tents just in case you’d love to stay overnight in these places. Won’t that be a great idea?

 

#1. Mount Hua Shan, China

Fancy an authentic Chinese tea at the top of a mountain after a wonderful hike? With this trail, you can do both. With only planks suspended at the side of Mount Huashan plus chain links serving as a handrail, pilgrims and extreme sports enthusiasts alike love to take a visit every year.

It’s not all futile, though. At the end of the trail, a Daoist temple that has been around since 2nd century BCE and also served as a home for monks and nuns can be found. Worth the trip, most tourists say.

 

#2. Bright Angel Trail, Arizona

This trail is one of the many hiking trails established for hikers who want to experience traversing the Grand Canyon. It is around 9.9 miles long and elevations can go from 2,480 feet (Colorado River) to 6,860 feet (South Rim, the starting point).

The strenuous trail has been open for camping and hiking to the general public which can be an opportunity to enjoy the flora and fauna. One important rule though?do NOT feed the squirrels.

 

#3. Mt. Washington, New Hampshire

This mountain is NOT for the faint of heart. Although relatively short (6,288 feet) according to experienced hikers, the wind speed and the weather all throughout the year are the primary reasons why deaths are common in the area. These obstacles are proven to be a good practice area for climbers who plan to go mountaineering at Mt. Everest.

 

#4. Longs Peak, Colorado

This mountain summit is located at the northern Front range of the Rocky Mountains. It boasts of 14,259 feet elevation and four trails; each with varying difficulties and weather conditions.

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Longs Peak, Colorado

If you want a straightforward, easy hike, pick the Clark’s Arrow and the Shelf Trail and the East Longs Peak Trail. But if you prefer a bit of difficulty (with the guidance of a professional hiker in the area, of course), go for the Longs Peak Trail.

 

#5. West Coast Trail, Vancouver

Also known as the Dominion Lifesaving Trail, this 47-mile traverse is only open during May to September. Hiking at off-seasons cannot guarantee that you are safe and people would come running if they realized that you are nowhere to be found.

 

#6. Abram Falls, Tennessee

Witness the fusion of the elements of water and earth as you traverse this 5.2-mile trail that runs near Abram Creek and passes by the 20-foot Abram Falls and is found at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

And before you ask; no, hikers are discouraged to take a plunge to the magnificent waterfall because of the strong currents and undertows. You are free to breathe in the fresh air and admire the view, though.

 

#7. Kokoda Trail, Papua New Guinea

This seemingly underrated trail is not just an ordinary pathway within thickets of trees and rivers?it also is a silent witness to numerous World War II battles between Australians (back then, the colonizers of Papua New Guinea) and Japanese forces.

Even as you hike along the 60-mile trail, you can see remnants of weapons, helmets, and other debris along the way. Because of its rich history, hikers of all ages come not just for an adventure but to see the aftermath of a war that happened more than 50 years ago.

If you plan to put this in your itinerary list, we ask you to employ the services of KoTrek, a company that supports the tour guides who are natives of the place. Aside from the relatively low cost it offers, it aids the locals in the vicinity by giving them a source of livelihood. Besides, who else is better at guiding you across the whole trail than the people who live there all their lives?

 

#8. North Cape, Norway

Knivskjelloden (or North Cape if you can’t pronounce the local name) is actually a peninsula found at the municipality of Nordkapp in Norway.

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North Cape, Norway

The top, which is considered to be the “northernmost point of Europe” can only be reached by walking through an 11-mile trail filled with moss, vegetation, and sharp rocks. The spectacular view at the end of it all, though, is worth the exercise.

 

Cliff-Diving for the Brave

Wanna take your swimming adventures to a whole new level? Then try these death-defying cliff diving destinations found in different parts of the world. Water slides, who?

 

#9. Ponte Brolla, Switzerland

This famous cliff diving spot is found in a small quaint village in Ticino, Switzerland. The cliff boasts of 80-foot long dive from the top of the valley down to the cool, clear waters. Because of the staggering distance, only professional divers are allowed to showcase their somersaults and diving techniques.

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Ponte Brolla, Switzerland

This does not mean you cannot go here even though you are a first-timer. The annual European Cliff Diving Championship sponsored by the World High Diving Federation is usually held here, and people, young and old, are invited to watch and learn from the experts!

 

#10. Hell’s Gate, Possum Kingdom Lake, USA

Think that Ponte Brolla is too high already? Then you have not seen this one yet. Cliff diving in Hell’s Gate means jumping down at 92 feet at a whopping 85 kilometers per hour!

The name originated from the way the rock forms were positioned; both cliffs face each other like an open sliding door. One of the rock formations has a downward diagonal edge that is made up of sharp, shaggy rocks. Because of the danger and the height, only professional divers who are participants in the annual Red Bull Cliff Diving Championships are allowed to jump off the cliffs.

 

#11. Azores, Portugal

Another Red Bull Cliff Diving Championship location, this cliff was a product of nature; it is a portion of a crater of a submerged volcano that has long been dormant.

15 Death-Defying Hiking Trails
Azores, Portugal

The 88-foot rock formation is safe for cliff diving professionals and enthusiasts. And while it is not yet your turn to take a jump, you can do a bit of whale watching on top.

 

#12. Tar Creek Falls, California

To enjoy this one, you might have to take the hike up the 70-foot waterfall before jumping down the water. Calculate the leap carefully, though; most outcroppings of the rocks beneath may be enough to end your life.

But don’t worry, the lake below will catch you. Also, try visiting during the spring. You may find the lake all dried up otherwise.

 

#13. Angora Lakes, Nevada

Another 70-feet cliff diving location, the Angora Lakes in Nevada is the home of two freshwater lakes?the Fallen Leaf Lake and Lake Tahoe. During the summer season, the cliff is flocked with tourists who want to experience leaping all the way down to the two famous lakes.

 

#14. Poco de Diablo, Brazil

Most tourists travel to Brazil because of their sandy beaches and amazing nightlife. But what most people do not know is its hidden cliff diving gem?the mystical black (Yes, black!) lake surrounded by cliffs at every turn.

Not many details are provided because it is grossly underrated but some cliff divers who experienced the place can attest that it is safe for first-timer cliff divers to try.

 

#15. Kimberley, Australia

Another perfect but underrated cliff diving location is from Kimberley, Australia. Although dubbed as one of the best cliff diving spots in the entire world, only professional divers are allowed to jump down its treacherous rock formation made of limestone.

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Kimberley, Australia

Whether you prefer to pack hiking boots, sleeping bags, and a tent or to go all out in wearing your newly-bought swimwear, make your summer season extra special by trying something you have not done yet.

 

You only live once, after all. So cross out the hiking adventure and cliff diving experience off your bucket list by paying a visit on one (or all!) of these wonderful sites!

 

Different International Driving Styles & How to Prepare

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By Laura Arroyave

While many travellers utilize tour services or public transportation while abroad, some choose a slightly different route. Several companies offer travellers the option to rent private vehicles to navigate the region instead. Renting a car can be a great way to explore the area like a local. This transportation method also provides the added benefit of a little privacy and freedom to set the pace.

When it comes to driving in foreign countries, it’s important to be mindful of unique driving styles and attitudes. In some areas of the world, even the steering wheel sits on a different side of the vehicle. Each country has its own approach to enforcement of traffic laws as well, and understanding this will help you navigate the streets with ease. Knowing what to expect before you get behind the wheel (whichever side of the car it’s on), is the key to having a safe and positive driving experience during your trip.

 

Driving on the Other Side of the Road

Driving on the opposite side of the road is often the first different style that comes to mind. In most countries, drivers must operate their vehicles on the right side of the road while on two-way streets. This is known as right-hand traffic. However certain places like Great Britain and Australia stick to the left side of the road while driving. Referred to as left-hand traffic, this style of driving is even utilized in specific cities. For example, in Hong Kong drivers use the left side of the road, while drivers in the mainland of China use the right.

The thought of driving on the opposite side of the road in a foreign country can be intimidating, and may cause you to reconsider your transportation plans. The hardest part of learning this driving style is simply remembering to stay on the correct side of the street. Luckily, there are usually plenty of other cars on the road to follow. If you pay attention to the cars around you and practice safe driving skills, you can learn to drive anywhere with relative ease.

 

Driving on the Other Side of the Car

The side of the road that drivers use often affects the cars they drive as well. Countries that rely on left-hand traffic generally have vehicles that correspond with this driving style. Rather than sitting on the left, drivers in left-hand traffic countries sit on the right side to operate a vehicle. As a result, the gear shift is located to the left of the steering wheel. This can be confusing if you are used to driving on the other side of the car.

Luckily, you don’t have to pay much attention to the gear shift if you rent a car with an automatic transmission. The most important aspect of this driving style is learning the dimensions of the car from a different perspective. You can easily practice this at home in your driveway by sitting in the passenger seat and familiarizing yourself with the new position. On the other hand, learning to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission this way may require more effort.

 

Manual Transmissions

Automatic transmissions have become the norm in places like the United States, but this is not the case everywhere. Some countries still rely heavily on vehicles with manual transmissions, otherwise known as “stick shifts.” This is important to keep in mind if you plan to drive on your trip for several reasons.

First, driving a manual transmission takes more effort than an automatic. If you have never driven a stick shift before, it’s not a good idea to start while you’re on vacation. You will need to practice thoroughly beforehand to ensure your safety while driving abroad. Second, you may face difficulties if you have to drive on the opposite side of the car even if you have prior experience with stick shifts. This will also take getting used to with some practice.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to prepare for these driving conditions. Many private companies offer classes where you learn how to drive a stick shift with the help of an instructor. Sign up for a course and give yourself plenty of time to practice before you hit the road.

 

Strict Enforcement

Traffic laws are different in every country, as are the levels of enforcement. In general, it’s important to follow driving laws no matter where you are, to stay safe and avoid tickets. However, some countries are stricter about driving laws than others. While you might be able to get away with going a few miles over the speed limit at home, that is not always the case when you are driving abroad.

This seems to be especially true in countries that rely more heavily on other forms of transportation, as there are fewer vehicles on the road. To avoid facing penalties while on your trip, make sure to familiarize yourself with the traffic laws in the countries you are travelling to. Research the local policies on topics like:

  • Road signs.
  • Basic road rules.
  • Speed limits.
  • Use of headlights.
  • Cellphone use.

You can contact the DMV or the embassy to find out about more about international driving practices. That way, you can gain the knowledge you need before getting behind the wheel in a foreign country.

 

Aggressive Driving

The driving culture among motorists tends to vary based on the country, and this can massively affect your driving experiences. In some places, enforcement of traffic laws is much more lax than others. You may find that the driving laws you researched are sometimes ignored by the drivers around you. At the same time, attitudes towards other drivers may be more aggressive than you are used to. This is usually true in areas with a large population and frequent traffic congestion.

With all this in mind, it’s important to research the driving culture as well as the traffic laws for wherever you plan to drive. That way, you know what to expect from other drivers and can react accordingly. Knowing what to watch out for is an important part of becoming a safe driver, no matter where you travel.

 

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Dear Natalie: Oregon Lessons, Part 1

Ask Natalie Banner Dear Natalie: Who else does this? 

Dear Natalie,

Do you think we can learn from places?

Signed,

Those who wander

_______________________________________________________________________

 

Dear Wanderers,

I do.

In fact, I have Facebook evidence (we all know that if it’s on Facebook, it’s true). A little over a year ago, I had spiraled quite high into the Siskiyou Mountain Range along a rustic mountain road, and I noticed an arc above me. From either side of my car, the fir trees curved toward each other, as though their tops were kissing. The sunlight flittered downward like tinsel, and I had to brake and blink against the twinkling. Only a meter to my left, the road crumbled into tree trunks and steep, downward-careening mountainside; on the right, trees grew from rock, bowed and bent against the mountain.

 

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“Legit, I could open my car door and fall off this mountain,” I said to myself. I became aware of the stab of fear in my chest. I thought, To be this high off the ground is unnatural. A moment later, I gave it a second thought: Except people have been here before. Someone plowed this road. Thousands of people, probably, have pushed themselves up this mountain. Discovery – discovering new things – is arguably the most natural, most human thing one can do.

This experience, and the amazing hike I eventually took that day, made me consider some of the lessons I had learned from my relocation to Oregon. As I made my way home, I composed a mental list that later went on Facebook; a year after that, I reposted it.  Here, I share it again, with a little added commentary. I offer you…

 

Ten lessons I have learned in the 2+ 3+ years I’ve lived in Oregon:

 

  1. Driving on one-lane mountain “roads” that more closely resemble city park bike paths becomes less terrifying and strange over time.

 The road I described above was not the first, the last, or even the scariest Oregon road I’d driven. My ex-husband and I decided to take a drive to the coast. We took the GPS-recommended route there, which required driving south and west to go north, and that made no sense to my still-urban brain. “Modern engineering is a miracle!” I exclaimed on our way back home. “Certainly there’s a more direct route!” Sure enough, the GPS offered an alternate route, traversing the mountains along forest service roads. I noticed an open gate, used to block the road in winter, and an ominous sign about the road being unmaintained and unnavigable from November 1 – April 31. It was April 30. We’d be fine; I mean, the gate was open.

 

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I will spare you the details. The route we took is known as the “Bear Camp Coastal Route,” a moniker that sounds harmless, like it’s a beachy-fun path full of dancing, surfing Care Bears.  That’s not what we saw. However, it’s worth noting: We survived. We later learned others did not. (Seriously – Google it! The Wikipedia page mentions two deaths and “numerous motorists…stranded” on the route. Creepy.)

Anyway, my point is that nowadays, I am a lot better prepared for wilderness travel; I play it safe; and yet, I don’t abide by that fear. Traveling those roads has allowed me to see things I otherwise never would have seen. Which brings me to…

 

  1. With enough patience and enough travel along the aforementioned roads/bike paths, one might see the enormous, retreating butt of a black bear as she hightails it back into the woods.

People always get bear-a-noid. I do too. I don’t understand why. In Oregon, we do not have grizzlies, the more ferocious of the North American species. We have black bears, and unlike our friends in the eastern portion of the country, we have introverted, timid, scaredy-cat black bears. Almost all of my native Oregonian friends have remarked that while they’ve seen evidence of bears – scat, scratches, that kind of thing – they’ve never actually seen one. I, however, have.

 

Oregon Lessons Part 1 - 3

 

As I navigated a one-lane mountain road, slowly so as not to hit an oncoming car (which is hilarious, because the likelihood of another car being there was slim to none), I saw movement about fifty feet in the distance. I slowed the car to a crawl as a giant black bear sprinted along the roadside, jumped up a hill, and got swallowed up by the forest.

“Holy crap!” I exclaimed. “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, that is so dang cool!” I am still bragging about this.

 

  1. 8 times out of 10, fear is a liar. Of the remaining two times, one is fear asking us to more closely examine something, and the other is fear acting as a legitimate warning of potential death and/or destruction. Preparation is prudent but bravery is mandatory.

According to the United States National Park Service, the likelihood of being attacked by a bear is 1 in 2.1 million (and that’s including statistics for grizzlies).

According to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, you have a 0.0064% risk of death while mountain hiking – and that risk can be made even smaller by avoiding foul weather, preparing appropriately for climate and terrain, staying hydrated, and knowing your way around a map and compass.

Who doesn’t feel afraid when they’re trying something new? How many new things have I done over the past four years? I hit a point a while back where I realized: I could either be a perpetual ball of fear and anxiety, or I could step bravely into life. I choose the latter most of the time, though sometimes I also cry while I eat potato chips with salsa (I know it sounds gross, but it’s actually delicious).

 

  1. Always close the lid of the latrine before exiting, and never try to shove a pizza box down it.

 I just think this is a valuable life lesson. Always, always, always close the lid of the latrine. Do you know what happens if you don’t? Flies attack the bare bottom of the exhausted explorer who uses that toilet after you. If avoiding a plague of bum-flies isn’t enough, you might also consider the odiferous contribution an open latrine makes to its surrounding environment. By “odiferous,” I mean everyone for three square miles will gag.

 

Oregon Lessons Part 1 - 4

 

Also, just don’t shove pizza boxes in the latrine. Don’t put any trash in the latrine. It can’t be pumped out, it will take forever to decompose, flies will think it’s their penthouse apartment, and people like me will have to – you know – on top of it.

 

  1. Untouched natural beauty of an unimaginable magnitude exists if you are willing to leave your car behind and walk in search for it.

5 and a half. Even the fanciest camera in the hands of the most talented photographer cannot capture that beauty the way a human eye can in real time.

 We live on a large and beautiful planet, and I want to see as many quiet, barely touched places as I can before I bite it.

Oregon Lessons Part 1 - 5
Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Photo © me, 2017

 

It is difficult. I have had some injuries, and sometimes my body hurts and my motivation is non-existent. Sometimes napping all day seems appealing. Sometimes I start to get fearful, especially when I’m alone, and I create intricate, imaginary scenarios that ultimately result in my early demise. In the end, I am perhaps a little addicted to those vistas, and I covet them the way some people long for fine jewelry or haute cuisine. They remind me that I am a tiny part of a much larger whole, and in this way, they remind me that I am connected to everything. I am never alone.

Until next time, when I will share the remaining five lessons,

Natalie

 

 

 

 

P.S. – What life lessons have you learned from being in a new place? Share via email at AskNatalieColumn @ gmail.com – Contributors are identified by their first name, but you can request anonymity if you’d prefer.

Best Campsites in Scotland

Best Campsites in Scotland 1

By Jade Hadden

As the summer holidays draw closer, it’s the ideal time for you to grab your camping gear and set off into the outdoors!

VisitScotland has analysed Instagram and TripAdvisor data to discover which of Scotland’s campsites are getting the most commendation for their Instagram views.

Here are VisitScotland’s recommendations for a fun, family summer:

 

Spectacular Stargazing

Horgabost Campsite, Isle Of Harris

The remote campsite of Horgabost boasts views over the water of Taransay Island, which is believed to be the largest island in Scotland without a permanent population. Visitors may even be lucky enough to glimpse the flickering Northern Lights, due to being so far North, so unsurprisingly, TripAdvisor reviews are 92% positive.

 

Invercaimbe Caravan And Camping, Arisaig

Surrounded by a rocky shore and a beach not so far away, this is the perfect west coastal spot to grab your telescopes and gaze into the night’s sky. With a 5star TripAdvisor rating, this is a must visit spot.

 

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Beautiful Beaches

 

Fidden Farm Campsite, Isle Of Mull

 Escape to somewhere more tropical when visiting Fidden Farm, as their white sandy shores and crystal clear waters would make you question if you were still in Scotland. As the campsite is only meters away from the water, doze off to the sound of the natural waves crashing on the rocky shores. Visitor’s gave Fidden Farm 94% positive ratings.

 

Sands Caravan And Camping Park, Gairloch

Perched between a valley, moorland hills and golden sands, the north-west Sands Caravan Park prides itself with panoramic views. With a high rating of 91%, relax at this idyllic park.

 

Wild Woodlands

 

The Lazy Duck, Nethy Bridge

Take yourself back to nature as amongst the acres of pines are cosy rustic lodges for you and all the family to enjoy. TripAdvisor 90% rating surely recommends visiting during the winter months, when the snow dusts the surrounding thicket, encouraging you to grab the hot chocolate and snuggle under the blankets.

 

Ruberslaw Wild Woods, Scottish Borders

As the spring begins to blossom, this 98% positive rated woods is a must see as beautiful bluebells begin to sprout and lighten up the ground. It truly provides a magical feel.

 

Magnificent Mountains

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Lomond Woods Holiday Park, Balloch

Be in awe of the largest freshwater loch in Scotland and dare to hike the marvellous mountains which surround Loch Lomond. This wooden park has been awarded Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence award and boasts a mixture of luxury hot tub accommodation or glamping pods to suit every budget.

 

Kilvrecht Campsite, Pitlochry

The steep mountains on the southern shore of Lock Rannoch have been voted 100% positive by TripAdvisor due to their challenging hikes but beautiful botanical views.

 

Stunning Sunrises

 

Port Mor Campsite, Isle Of Islay

This peaceful isle encourages the sun to sneak across the rocky ridges and surrounding water. Just a short walk to the local village, it’s not surprising that 84% of TripAdvisor reviews recommend this campsite.

 

Ardnamurchan Campsite, Lochaber

Stunning views down the sound of Mull, the westerly campsite reassures the early morning light to slither in and brighten any lingering clouds. With a 92% rating, escape to this Scottish Highlands retreat.

 

Soothing Sunsets

 

Wheems Organic Farm, Orkney

This family friend farm is perfect for the summer holidays, with a mixture of animals and horticulture facing the sea on the Island of South Ronaldsay. Due to the horizontal land, this is ideal location for a sunset, as 85% of TripAdvisor reviews agree.

 

Tantallon Caravan & Camping Park, East Lothian

Enjoy nature as this camping site as it has unparalleled views of the Bass Rock and the world’s largest colony of gannets. With the nearby Tantallon Castle, 75% of reviewers recommend this spot for its natural beauty.

 

If you are interested in finding out more about camping in Scotland, go to  https://www.visitscotland.com/blog/accommodation-ideas/campsites-scenic-views/ 

 

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Camping in Armenia Georgia and Azerbaijan

Camping in Armenia Georgia and Azerbaijan 1

By Anoosh Reinolds

Camping is the best choice for lovers of nature and secluded recreation. If you are not afraid of wild conditions, long walks and nights under the open sky, then it’s time to get your backpack ready for a trekking and camping tour. Moreover, a camping tour is an excellent choice for a budget holiday, especially if you are planning to visit several countries.

Today we’d like to tell you about the amazing region of the South Caucasus which includes Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. This region is a great choice for camping lovers – lush forests, majestic mountains, fast rivers and mysterious ancient sights – what can sound more appealing?

 

Camping in Armenia

Like other countries of the South Caucasus, Armenia is an ideal place for trekking and camping. There are several popular camping destinations in the country, each of which has all the necessary conditions for comfortable holiday.

 

ARK Armenia Kapan Eco-Camp

Over the years, the government has paid more attention to the protection of nature. Today, several eco-camps function in Armenia. ARK Armenia is a popular place in a beautiful region called Syunik. The region is known for its unique nature and priceless historical monuments.

Eco-camp has all the amenities for your comfort including a toilet, drinking water, a kitchen and a place for a fire. Whilst camping you will enjoy the boundless silence of Syunik mountains.

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Crossway camping, Armenia

This is another eco-camp in Armenia that is aimed to preserve the environment and, of course, to attract visitors from all over the world. Crossway camping is a modern camp with its own garden and fruit trees. You can pick up fruit and vegetables, eggs in the henhouse and make a fresh eco-breakfast. Within its territory, there is also a small lake for fishing, a kitchen, a place for a fire, drinking water, summer house, laundry and a swimming pool.

We can confidently say that the whole country is absolutely perfect for camping and you can find less discovered but no less amazing corners for a rest in the lap of nature.

Camping in Armenia Georgia and Azerbaijan 3

 

Camping in Georgia

The territory of Georgia is one big “camping platform”. Do you want to spend your vacation on the lake or in the forest? In Georgia, wherever you go, you will see boundless forests, mountain rivers and lakes hidden in the forests.

Camping by the Black Sea

In summer, you can perfectly combine camping with a beach holiday on one of the Black Sea coasts of Adjara. Several popular resort towns, including the capital of Adjara, Batumi, are located along the Black Sea coast.

The camps are also located along the beach. The most popular place is Anaklia during the annual GEM fest. Even if you don’t manage to get to the festival, you will still have an unforgettable vacation on the island.

Another equipped camp is located near the resort town of Kobuleti. There is a kitchen, shower and toilet on the territory. Tourists can stop and arrange a camp right on the beach.

Camping in Borjomi

The other perfect destination in Georgia is Borjomi resort town and national park. By the way, Borjomi national park was the very first one in Georgia and today it is considered the largest in Europe.

There are ready tourist trails along the most picturesque places of the park, as well as camps for overnight stays. By nodular railway you can travel from Borjomi to Bakuriani, swim in therapeutic sulfur baths and go back.

Camping in Armenia Georgia and Azerbaijan 4

 

Camping in Azerbaijan

Our journey through the South Caucasus is coming to an end. The last stop is Azerbaijan, another great destination for exploring nature. You can always escape Baku’s noise travelling to the north-western regions, where modern technologies have not changed the experience of nature yet.

 

Camping in national parks

Camping in Azerbaijan is a new developing branch of tourism, and so far there are no special camping places in the country. Most tourists visit national parks for pure nature. There are also mini hotels and cottages found in the national parks as well as other tourist services for passive and active holidays.

The most popular destination is Sheki park where you can combine camping with recreation. Due to the mild climate, the resort is perfectly suitable for health improvement. There are trails for biking and horse riding in the park, as well as a cable car to the top of the Choturmas.

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Camping on the coast of the Caspian Sea

Most tourists organize camps on the coast of the Caspian Sea, not far from the capital of Baku. Camping on the beach is not only pleasant, but also affordable. The money you save on camping can be spent in the capital.

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THE PLACE WHERE I’M FROM | Discover the northeast of Italy

Discover the northeast of Italy 1

By Alessia Morello

Hi girls,

Today I decide to write a different post.

It’s not just a trekking post, it is more a celebration of my homeland.

You have to know that my region is not considered much at all in Italy. Sometimes this is sad and sometimes I’m happy for that because we don’t have many tourists that hike and explore our incredible mountains.

I live in the northeast of Italy, in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Yeah, my region has three names because after wars and wars it was decided to join together 3 different areas.

I live very close to the border with Slovenia and Austria and to the south it is lapped by the Adriatic Sea. In the upper part you can find wonderful mountains where you can ski or hike and climb. In the middle there are amazing hills and open spaces to ride by bike and in the south there’s the sea side with beaches and ports.

 

Nothing missed at all in my land but why is it so unknown?

The main point is that Italy has too much in the way of beautiful places to go and the tourists that come here want to see the most famous things like Rome, Venice, Milan, the Tuscany etc etc. so it is hard to compete with these beauties. Secondly our people are a bit stuffy and don’t like having a lot of new people around. After a hundred years of foreign domination we do not openly welcome new tourism that much. Thirdly, our land has never had problems of job shortages or similar so we never needed the tourism market.

But now with the help of social media and the Internet, I want to show you the magical place where I’m from.  NOW I bring you with me in the “hike of the cheese” that is the walk that the cows usually do in the mountains from the Aly (or alpine hut where the cheese is made) and the place where the cows are brought to pasture.

Ready?

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If you do a hike in Italy there are 3 different kinds of hut that you can find. The Bivaccothat is usually a red metal covert shelter just with some bedding where you can sleep. The classic alpine hut is an easy restaurant and where you can rent a bed or room and then there is the malga (the hut where the cheese is made and where the cows stay during summer season).

The nicest hikes always finish with a lunch in a hut.

 

The trek

The trek starts from the bottom malga where the cows stay during the night and most part of the dayand.  This is where the restaurant of the malga makes delicious homemade gnocchi with their cheese, cheese and ham plates to share together with other typical mountain dishes.

From there after we enjoy an espresso coffee and start the walk. After a not too difficult uphill part, a flat walk followed and we had the chance to visit a little cave. In just one hour we arrive in a wide lawn where the cows are left free to graze.

After a break we decide to start again and to make the whole ring of the pastures also overcoming the border with Austria.

We walk along the cresta a few meters from the border and we can admire on the right Italy with its pastures in the distance and on the left the meadows and the slopes of Austria, where in winter there is one of the biggest ski resorts in the area.

The walk is beautiful, the sunny day allows us to take beautiful photos and also reach the Bivacco Lomasti, a red dot in the middle of the valley that dominates above all. Very beautiful.

 

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Discover the northeast of Italy 10

 

An amazing day spent in the middle of my mountains that are not just beautiful and sweet. My mountains are hard, difficult, challenging. Not for everybody. But surely, they leave you with a sense of success and greater satisfaction.

 

Hope you love my pics of my homeland and I hope one day if you decide to visit Italy, you remember my beautiful area in the northeast of Italy ? The Friuli Venezia Giulia.

 

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Alessia Morello lives in the north-east of Italy. After working for several years around the world she decide to stop and come back in her homeland and do the things she loves like trekking into the Dolomites with her dog Giorgino and creating posts and videos for her blog. She grew up doing outdoor adventures with the family and now the nature is part of her life. Other interests? Rock climbing, mountain bike trails, cooking vegetarian recipes and having fun!

Follow her travels at www.theitaliansmoothie.com and on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

The Natural Beauty of Northern Thailand

Northern Thailand

By Nicole Anderson

I had been fortunate enough to visit this wonderful country a couple of times on past trips but my most recent visit (April 2018) took me for the first time to Northern Thailand, which is a stunning contrast to the metropolis of Bangkok and the more popular coastal areas.

Known as the “Rose of the North” Chiang Mai is where I was based, which is quite central to explore all this fabulous region had to offer.  The Chiang Mai region is situated much higher geographically than the rest of the country and is known for its mist-shrouded mountains, its lush green valleys and abundance of fauna and flora.

While it would just not be possible to pack in everything I saw, experienced and learned into this piece, I have instead included a summary of what I thought were some of the more significant highlights and photos of the what this part of the world has to offer for the outdoor enthusiast.

 

Northern Thailand: A paradise for nature lovers

Here are my top 5 nature-related places from my trip that I really enjoyed and would recommend you to see if/when you visit this corner of the world.

Mae Kajan Hot Spring

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Mae Kajan Hot Spring, Chiang Rai Province, north of Chiang Mai.

I have previously seen natural hot springs/pools/geysers in Japan and New Zealand and even though these weren’t quite in that category in terms of size, this was still worth a stop.  This spring is located at Tambol Mae Chedi Mai, Wiang Pa Pao District, Chaing Rai Province (north of Chiang Mai).

This natural feature has become very popular for Thai people as a stopover while travelling between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai or vice versa.  The Spring has also become a bit of a tourist attraction and many enjoy getting a wooden basket to boil quail eggs in the water and then eat the eggs as a snack.

The water contains a high concentration of dissolved minerals.  Visitors are really captured by the naturally hot spring and in some sections (that are not boiling), love to bath their feet in the natural warmth.

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People relaxing by soaking their feet in the warm waters of the spring.

 

The Golden Triangle

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This monument overlooked where the rivers intersected on the Thai side.

The “Golden Triangle” refers to the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak rivers.  The name “Golden Triangle”, coined by the CIA, is commonly used more broadly to refer to an area approximately 950,000 square kilometres (or 367,000 square miles) that overlaps the mountains of these three countries.  This area has been one of the most extensive opium-producing areas of Asia, and indeed the world.

So long as you travel in established routes where locals and tourists go, you are really very safe from the dangers associated with the illicit drug trade.  In the case of my fiancé and I, we were visiting the area to see the lush vegetation and natural beauty as well as to travel the rivers where the Ruak and Mekong converge between the three nations.

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James, my fiance with myself immediately behind making the journey down and across the rivers.

We hired a local boat (punt) along with other visitors to experience the waters here and it was amazing to see how obvious the demarcation of the different rivers were where they met.  You could actually see straight lines that formed separating the different colours of each river!  We went up right next to the Myanmar shore and then turned to visit some markets in Donsao, Laos.

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Made it across to Laos!

In Donsao, we took a few photos of the area (including some bottled snakes, scorpions and other creepy crawlies) before doing a bit of Jade shopping where my lovely fiancé bought me a lovely green jade bracelet.  We then took the boat (which was really rocky) back to the Thai border to return back south.

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Jars of snakes and all kinds of nasty things were for sale as a novelty at this market.

 

Doi Inthanon National Park

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Entrance to the park

Doi Inthanon National Park covers an area of 482 km² in Chiang Mai province. The park is actually part of the Himalayan mountain range even though the elevation ranges just between 800 and 2565 meters.

Located south of Chiang Mai, the park is one of the most fertile troves of natural treasure in Thailand.  The invigorating mountain air and fresh, cooler climate makes it a rejuvenating break from the cities.  This area is extremely popular among bird watchers and many tours come here also with people wanting to experience a very different side of Thailand.

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This was one of the sites greeting you near the entrance to the twin chedis.

Aside from the amazing vistas of stunning nature, the park is also home to the Twin Chedis.  The twin chedis were constructed by the Thai Royal Air Force to honour the 60th birthday of the King and Queen of Thailand (in 1987 and 1992 respectively). The darker colour chedi with the brown tint (Phra Mahathat Chedi Nophamethanidol) is for the king and the one with the light-blue or lilac hue (Phra Mahathat Chedi Noppholbhumsiri) is for the queen. The area is beautifully landscaped with a stunning display of flowers and on a clear day provides glorious views over Northern Thailand and the mountains of Myanmar/Burma (to the west).

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It was hard to get both chedis in one shot and you can’t really tell from here how big they are.

 

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Me on the balcony area of the King chedi with the Queen chedi in the background.

 

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Beautiful gardens abound all around the twin chedis with natural vegetation beyond.

 

Great Camping Spot in Northern Thailand:

Doi Inthanon HQ is situated at 30.8km near the Ban Khun Klang village of Hmong (Meo) tribe. 500 meters west from the HQ there is a market with few restaurants around, there is also an ATM nearby.  The camping area and bungalows are 500 meters north from the junction or nearly 400 meters east of the HQ. Camping gear can be rented at the entrance to the campsite. There are no restaurants in that area, the nearest options are around the HQ and the market. The smaller options of tents for 3 people costs 250 THB/day while bigger ones for 5 people costs 400 THB/day, sleeping bags, matt and pillows included in the price.

 

“The Roof of Thailand”

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Me at the “Roof of Thailand”!

Doi Inthanon within the National Park is the highest mountain in Thailand.  It is in Chom Thong District, Chiang Mai Province. This mountain is an ultra-prominent peak, known in the past as Doi Luang (‘big mountain’) or Doi Ang Ka, meaning the ‘crow’s pond top’.  These days it is referred to as “the roof of Thailand”.

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Dense vegetation all around the summit.

Due to the higher altitude, the summit has high humidity and cooler weather all year round. The average daily temperatures are normally around 10-12 °C.

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At a pergola at the summit.

Reaching the summit, you can definitely feel the chill and moisture in the air.  It was really fun to follow the established path under the canopy of forest branches, noting the different plants and many insects and small lizards as well as to appreciate the cultural monuments there such as the King Inthanon Memorial Shrine.

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King Inthanon Memorial Shrine

 

Wachirathan Waterfall

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Wachirathan Waterfall

This waterfall is really lovely.  It is a multi-level fall with a total drop of around 80 metres.

It is reached via a narrow and steep road off the northern side of the highway at roughly the 21 KM mark on highway 1009.

Although the falls are flowing all year, the biggest quantity of water will be flowing during the wet season from May to November.

There is a lot of spray from the falls which creates a rain-like mist that flows down the valley. If you have camera gear or sensitive electronic equipment that may be prone to water damage you may wish to bring protective coverings.

The mist can be at times very impressive to look at and you will almost always see rainbows within.  This makes it a popular spot for taking movies and photos.

It is also recommended that you wear appropriate footwear as the area is often slippery and muddy.

 

 

Below is a very quick video shot by my fiance showing me and our guide Maggi at the falls

 

Northern Thailand’s Flora and Fauna

Quite aside from the top 5 attractions/locations of this holiday, I really feel I should make mention of the wildlife flora and fauna that is fairly unique to the region.

Elephants

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At the main entrance to the largest elephant camp in Northern Thailand, housing some 80 elephants.

This majestic animal is the national symbol of Thailand.  They are revered where ever you go and there are countless statues, ornaments and images of them across the land.  I first came across elephants in Thailand when visiting the resort island of Koh Samui and really fell in love with their intelligence and beautiful personalities.

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An overview of the entire camp and attractions to see and learn all about the elephants.

While in Northern Thailand, I visited the Maesa Elephant Camp and to quote from their website: “This area of the Maesa Valley is home to the largest assembly of domesticated elephants in northern Thailand. Visitors can see the elephants working with their mahouts (trainers), bathing in the river and even painting landscapes!”.

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Two of the elephants getting their bath!

 

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Mahouts ride their elephants into the arena

 

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Playing soccer. The aim of kicking the ball was really good.

A 4 minute compilation of video of the elephants:

I was very fortunate to see all of the activities described above and even got up close and personal with a couple of very large elephants that came by for a cuddle!  What a photo opportunity that was!  I was halfway between being exhilarated and terrified…

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A couple of elephants coming in for a cuddle from behind…

 

Tigers

The largest and often most feared of the cat family, Tigers are looked after these days in wildlife preservation centres, some of which also encourage tourism and (for additional fees) will facilitate photos right up close.  How close you might ask?  Well at Tiger Kingdom you actually are let into the enclosure and can pat them before (or while) posing for a photo!

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Planting a flag at the entrance to Tiger Kingdom after making a donation to wildlife preservation.

 

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Tiger Kingdom had a variety of all the big cats and most where understandably under cover during the day.

Now I have considerable respect for the sheer grace, speed, strength and power of these awesome animals and I was not overly keen to push my luck here…not even with experienced trainers with me.  So instead I opted to go into the enclosure with some smaller cats to give them a bit of a pat, get a photo or two and then respectfully retreat.  One of them even gave me a bit of a kick with his hind paw, much like a domestic cat when annoyed and I took that as my cue to leave!  Being up close was a wonderful experience to look back on and their fur is quite soft, although quite thick at the same time.

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Feeling particularly brave that day…

 

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This guy gave me a kick with his hind paw after this photo was taken and that’s when I thought it best to retreat.

 

Orchids and Butterflies

Not far from Tiger Kingdom is Bai Orchid and Butterfly Farm which, although not overly large in size, contained some wonderful displays of flowers that grow so well here.  A visitor who was a keen photographer and lover of nature could probably spend many hours engrossed here.  Although I am not a professional photographer by any means, I have included a few shots here of the flora here as well as a couple within the butterfly enclosed area.

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People and Culture

I don’t think any article on the beauty of this area could be complete without talking a little about the wonderful people of Thailand having regard for the cultures and traditions that make up this peaceful country.

Thailand is predominately a Buddhist country and its people are overwhelmingly friendly, courteous and thoughtful.

Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand generally has fascinating natural beauty and cultural heritage. The endless rice paddies that you will find at every corner of the region, tranquil lakes, and lush forests make the atmosphere full of phenomenal calmness.

The temples of Chiang Mai are many and all are just stunning in their design and workmanship.  I doubt anyone could visit here and not want to see these amazing structures from the outside and in.  Their beauty mirrors that of the fundamental principles of Buddhism and has such a fundamental and lasting impact of serenity for most of the people.  It is hard not to be moved.

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With fiance James at the famous and beautiful White Temple, Chiang Rai.

Externally, adventure seekers are drawn from all four corners of the globe.  During my trip I met a solo woman traveller (Brooke, from Florida USA) who was on extended holidays from her job as a military and civil air traffic controller based in Kabul, Afghanistan!  She was having a wonderful time traveling through South East Asia and loved Northern Thailand just as much as I did and focussed a lot on hiking as many scenic treks as she could.  Otherwise my fiancé and I met many other couples and singles that could not get enough of the fabulous country and its people.

Below is a video of Brooke and I try a local Thai delicacy…silk worms!

 

Naturally it goes without saying that if you like Thai food, Northern Thailand has some of the most mouth-watering dishes full of taste.  Even the mildest Thai curries are so yummy and the ingredients used are all fresh and very healthy for most diets.  They also offer Thai cooking classes for tourists who want to be able to show off a few exotic culinary skills back home.

 

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So tasty, healthy, looks good…what is not to love about Thai cuisine?

 

While we were there the annual Songkran (Water) Festival also occurred which really should be seen to be appreciated.  This festival takes place at the beginning of the New Year in the traditional Thai calendar.  The festival is the most important/significant in Thailand, originating in Northern Thailand and involves spraying water on anyone in your vicinity as part of a traditionally spiritually cleansing process.  Nowadays the festival has gotten a lot bigger and is all over Thailand.

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Water shooting, spraying and throwing on the streets as part of Songkran Festival.

To quote the website: “A feature of the celebration was that some of the lustral water used to bathe the Buddha images was collected. It was then gently poured onto elders and family members as a sign of respect and to ensure good luck and prosperity in the coming year. What has happened in modern times is that this aspect of the celebration has become its central theme, and has become much more intense. The result is that Songkran now resembles a three day water-fight in which any weapon, from high pressure squirt guns to buckets filled with icy water, is considered fair game.

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Two standing at the ready – and one shooting at us as we go by, in front of a stall selling water blasters.

It has become very popular with younger Thai people, and the younger tourists from overseas, who see it as three days of fun, rather than a religious festival. In fact, most Thai people are happy to take part in this fun aspect of Songkran, particularly as April is usually the hottest month of the year, when temperatures can top 100º F (40ºC). Every year there are calls from political and religious leaders to moderate the festival, particularly in light of the horrendous carnage on the roads, but every year these calls are ignored.”  I had to laugh at James (my fiancé) who got well and truly drenched while traveling in an open tuk-tuk and arrived at our accommodation completely soaked!

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A young local girl stands by with her bucket of icy water, ready to soak anyone who passes…the road is definitely not wet due to any rain…

 

Northern Thailand In Summary…

Many enjoy the Northern Thailand region as it’s relatively higher altitude means it is not as hot as other parts of the country.  It still has the warmth of hospitality as anywhere else in Thailand and is surrounded by natural beauty.  It doesn’t have the crazy-busyness of Bangkok or the same heat of places like Koh Samui or Phuket.

I am so pleased to have come here to discover and experience much of this special part of the world first hand and I know I won’t be the last to want to make this trip, as more and more, the word gets out about everything Northern Thailand has to offer.

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Appreciating the intricate beauty of the 600 year old Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep on a mountainside overlooking Chiang Mai.

 

5 Unforgettable Camping Spots in Australia

5 Unforgettable Camping Spots in Australia 1

By Olivia Williams Jones

No matter how long I’ve lived in this beautiful country, its untamed nature never ceases to amaze me, hence our family tradition to roam the wilderness whenever we possibly can. It does come with its challenges and setbacks, but as soon as we start exploring, all those troubles fade away – and for a mom whose kids are active and curious, that’s a precious feeling!

If you’re looking to see more of Australia, with your family or your friends, you will want to know about those perfect camping spots, and the following five should be on top of your bucket list.

Cape Range National Park

5 Unforgettable Camping Spots in Australia 2 Cape Range NP

For those among you who are looking into Australia’s national parks, of which there are literally over five hundred, it’s close to impossible to pick a single destination worthy of your trip. Plus, prepare that you’ll always want to see more and come back to the same locations for their breathtaking beauty. Once such example is this extraordinary gorge-laden national park in Western Australia, which is often overlooked for its more famous counterparts. And yet – it’s a slice of paradise for families!

Our personal favorite is camping out on the coast, on Tulki beach, which holds 11 camping spots. A friendly warning: as easy to reach as this spot is, you’ll need your own water supplies and you’ll have to postpone showers, so perhaps more versed wilderness family campers will prefer it. Fall asleep under a clear sky, listening to the crashing waves and far, far away from anything urban.

The East coast

5 Unforgettable Camping Spots in Australia 3 TheByronBay

A more relaxed pick filled with many entertainment and sightseeing options to keep even the fussiest kids occupied, we are very proud of the coastal scenery on the East side of the continent. The best perk? You can even move your journey offshore to some of the best islands in the region, including the famous Fraser Island, and explore the enchanting Whitsunday islands with the help of Scamper boats.

You’ll also get to see the lovely Cairns and Byron Bay, both of which have some great camping spots that are family friendly. Cairns has many well-equipped camping areas for those of you who like to have all the amenities available, while staying just outside of town in Kuranda State Forest is a more “untamed” option.

The many faces of the Gold Coast

5 Unforgettable Camping Spots in Australia 4 Springbrook Falls

Although this little coastal gem technically belongs to the East coast region, it deserves a separate mention here simply because of the level of versatility it offers to campers of all ages and preferences. Yes, that includes you glampers, too, as well as rainforest enthusiasts! The Settlement in the Springbrook National Park is where you’ll find mesmerizing hidden waterfalls and get a chance to hike in nature to your heart’s content.

The key to remember here is that whichever vehicle you choose to roam around in, the roads change swiftly from sandy to paved and rugged in the forest-covered area. If you want to make sure your car can handle it and you’re strapped for time, you can call a reliable mobile mechanic in the Gold Coast to make sure you’re all set for the road. Traveling with kids means we always have to take extra precautions, and it’s worth the effort!

Victoria’s Snowy River

5 Unforgettable Camping Spots in Australia 5 Snowy River

If you’re staying in Melbourne or another urban hotspot in Victoria, this is your perfect chance to see more of this splendid region. A less known location that is perfect both for families and lovers of camping, the Snowy River is the place to go, even though you’d also need to pack your water supply and be willing to spend your time without a flushable toilet nearby. As a part of yet another national park, you can expect to be dazzled by every single sight on the road and upon your arrival to McKillops Bridge.

Fishing fans can find various allowed spots in the vicinity, but make sure you have obtained the needed permits to fish on the premises. Canoes and rafts are another way to explore the area, but always check the forecast to make sure you won’t encounter difficult weather.

The heart of Australia

5 Unforgettable Camping Spots in Australia 6 AliceSprings

I honestly think that no worthy Aussie itinerary would be complete without mentioning the epic journey into the red center of the country, where all of its timeless heritage and pristine natural wonders intertwine into a remarkable experience. This is where you’ll see the true outback of Australia, from the famous postcard-worthy Uluru and Kata Tjuta, all the way to Kings Canyon.

You can choose from a variety of intact camping areas, or designated camping and caravan parks with other people sharing the area in case you’d prefer not to be alone. For families on the go, since this is considered one of the best attractions Australia can offer, people with kids travel during school holidays and tend to book in advance – and I’d advise the same for you.

 

Dear Natalie: Try Outxes Rugged Power Bank

Ask Natalie Banner Dear Natalie: Who else does this?

By Natalie McCarthy

Dear Natalie,

Word on the street is that Outxe sent you another product. What did you think?

Signed,

Someone whose phone is at 2% battery

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Dear Someone – wait a second. Who lets their phone get to 2%? Seriously, man. That’s just negligent.

Anyway, yes, Outxe kindly sent me their rugged power bank – actually, the 9,622nd rugged power bank they’ve shipped this year (a cute little thank you card came inside the box informing me of this fun fact!). Maybe you should receive number 9,623, since you seem to treat your phone’s charge with such brazen disregard.

 

Outxes Rugged Power Bank 1

 

But seriously – if you’re as hypervigilant about maintaining a charge as I am, you will adore this power bank. Given how rugged and useful Outxe’s line is, I’m not surprised so many of these bad boys have been shipped across the world. They’re popular – and photogenic! Okay, maybe they haven’t made the cover of Vogue just yet, but they are huge on Instagram! Outxe sponsors a monthly photo contest. Folks snap a pic of their Outxe product in the great outdoors and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #RealPowerSurvives. Once a month, one lucky winner scores a prize worth $100, and twice a year, a super-lucky person draws a $500 prize.

 

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One of the contest photos

 

I’m excited to enter the contest. I just need to find the perfect outdoorsy scene….

The Outxe Rugged Solar Power Bank arrived in a sleek black box with an instruction manual in several languages (more proof that keeping your phone charged appeals to people of all linguistic backgrounds!). Given my confusion with Outxe’s last product about water resistance, my eye immediately noticed that the Rugged Solar Power Bank is – get this – waterproof!  I have evidence. Are you ready?

 

 

Yes, that’s my power bank in my bathroom sink.  As you can see, an indicator light was still on after I pulled it out of the water. (Also – I didn’t get electrocuted!)

If you’re a spec person, allow me to offer you this:

  • 20,000mAH/74Wh capacity
  • Lithium-Polymer battery type
  • IP67 waterproof level
  • Input: Micro-USB at DC 5V/2A (max); Type-C at DC 5V/3A (max); Solar charging at 5V/400mA/2W (max). You can double-charge via Micro-USB and Type-C at the same time, shortening the recharge time to under 7 hours.
  • Output: One is DC 5V/3A, 9V/2A, 12V/1.5A (max), and compatible with QC2.0, 3.0, and other quick charge protocols with 9V output. The other is DC 5V/2.4A (max). The power bank self-regulates to 24W when you use both outputs simultaneously to charge two devices; this avoids overheating.
  • 170 x 86 x 30 mm in size and 525 grams in weight

So what do I think? In a nutshell, it’s awesome.

Drawbacks

  • It is a bit heavy. It’s worth noting that “heavy” is relative; in the hiking and backpacking world, where weight is carried directly on one’s back, just a gram or two can make the difference between “heavy” and “not that heavy at all.” For car camping, kayaking or boating, or any other activity where space and weight aren’t so pressing an issue, I think this unit will be perfect.

Benefits

  • It can charge two devices at once! Seriously!
  • This power bank can be reloaded a few ways: Micro-USB, Type-C, or via solar panel! The Micro-USB and Type-C inputs take about half a day to fully restock the power bank, which is really reasonable in terms of charge time. The solar panel, of course, takes longer – about 70 hours under ideal conditions. Still, not too shabby, particularly when you consider…
  • …you will not deplete this power bank right away! I charged two devices off it simultaneously for about two hours, and they barely made a dent in the bank’s reserves. It’s been well over a week and my bank is just now indicating that it needs to be repowered.
  • It’s waterproof! The outlets are perfectly covered by little rubber caps. I wouldn’t recommend randomly throwing electrical devices into the ocean (or your sink) for fun, of course. Still, it’s nice to have the peace of mind that a splash or some rain won’t ruin your power source.

If you’d like to check out this or other Outxe products, head on over to Outxe’s website.

See you again soon,

Natalie

 

Great Hikes Down Under

By Eunise Quintano

The Great Outdoors with Great Hikes Down Under!

In case you did not know – but we’re pretty sure you do, Down Under is Australia. The beautiful country of Australia is filled with hiking opportunities you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Through dense rain forests, across open plains, over mountain ridges, beside lakes, and oceans – there’s somewhere here for every type of hiker. Looking for great hikes in this part of the world? We’ve prepared this article just for you! Here are some great hikes you can find in Australia.

 

Great Ocean Walk

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The Great Ocean Walk has enabled many to go where its namesake road couldn’t. The track meanders through eucalypt and gum forest and reaches Cape Otway Light station, goes through sand dunes, beaches and even cliff-top tracks. You’ll see shipwrecks and the world-famous rock formation called the Twelve Apostles.

 

Overland Track

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This Tasmanian hike lets you experience the vast Cradle Mountain trail, known for its eco-friendly lodges that litter the track. There are great views to be found and highlights including Marion’s Lookout with a view of the Cradle Mountain.

 

Cape-to-Cape

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Rugged sea cliffs, eucalyptus forest, a china-blue sea, white beaches, and coastal are just some of the things you will encounter as you hike between Cape Leeuwin Cape and Naturaliste, strategically located in the southwest corner of Western Australia. If you go in the season, you’ll see whales and wildflowers as well.

 

Maria Island

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Whether you take a day trip by ferry take or a 4-day guided walk, Maria Island National Park offer all you want from abundant wildlife, untouched sandy beaches, convict ruins, mountains, and fossil cliffs. The park spans 11,550 hectares, including 1,878 hectares of Albany marine reserve as well as the 7.4-hectare Ile des Phoques.

 

The Bibbulmun Track

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Australia’s perfect answer to the great Appalachian Trail. The Bibbulmun hike makes its way through approximately 1,000km of some of WA’s best scenery. It begins in the hills outside Perth and then whirls through jarrah forests and granite mountains, south of the great karri forests to the southwest, after which through the magnificent south coast before reaching Albany, WA’s oldest town.

You can do the walk-in bits, linking where it crosses major roads, or if you’re a veteran, do it in much longer stretches. You can use many timber shelters that were built 1 day’s walk apart. You can also make use of “Walking Break” packages, which is based on the towns through which the track passes.

 

The Blue Mountains

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No Australian hike is complete without heading over to the majestic Blue Mountains. The bushwalks in the Blue Mountains National Park boasts splendid views of valleys, waterfalls, cliffs, and the lush forest. Plus, the area can be easily reached from Sydney.

 

Here’s a bonus hike for when you really want something out of the ordinary – head over to Victoria for an autumn hiking adventure! Cope Hut to Pretty Valley, Masons Falls Circuit, and Cape Schanck to Gunnamatta track, these Victorian hikes are perfect for newbies and veterans alike. There you go! Now that you have a list of some of the best hikes in Australia, it’s time to rent a car and visit these hiking trails! Don’t forget to book your car in advance to avoid unavailability or surges.

Have fun!

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