Tag Archives: magical

Annapurna Base Camp Trek, Nepal

There’s something about doing a long trek in the mountains, away from modern civilization, doing nothing but walking, eating and sleeping for days on end that relaxes you in a way that nothing else can.  A ‘shower’, consisting of a bucket of hot water in an outdoor cubicle, as the evening draws in and the air rapidly cools feels like a wonderful treat after a day of hard physical exercise.  The mornings so tranquil, the views so consistently spectacular.

The Himalaya are both formidable and beautiful.  To climb to the height we did and then gaze up at the mountains that reached high into the heavens was staggering.  We walked for days and days up steep rocky paths, through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, and through the loveliest mountain villages, full of some of the most beautiful people in the world.  When we finally reached the outermost point of our trek and looked up at the mighty Himalayan peaks, it was a truly humbling experience.

 

We decided on the Annapurna base camp trek because it was long enough to get us right up amongst some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in Nepal, but not as long as the entire Annapurna circuit which takes around 3 weeks to complete.

 

We observed the contrast between the lush green valleys and forests with idyllic streams and rickety bridges, and the huge rugged snow capped mountains above us, as we undulated and wound our way through the varied landscape.  We sometimes sang Nepalese songs with our guide to amuse ourselves as we walked, other times we were quiet and alone with our thoughts.

 

A natural rhythm brought peace and harmony to our days.  We woke early to watch the sunrise, then set off for several hours of steady climbing to our first stop for a welcome rest.  We would usually arrive at around sunset at our accommodation for the night, which were lodges with very basic facilities.  We exchanged travel tales with our companions, ate mainly rice and dal, played cards and got very early nights in preparation for the early morning starts.

For me the best part was forgetting where I was.  Wrapped up in many layers and a winter sleeping bag for the chilly nights, it would be difficult to drag myself out of bed when it was barely light outside.  I had this feeling every morning, and without fail, every morning, I would be overcome with happiness when I stepped out of the door.  To be greeted by the fresh mountain air and the sun rising from behind the magnificent peaks was the perfect way to start the day.  Not a trace of sleepiness remained.

 

The October skies were clear, so the cool mornings became blazingly hot days, the sun beating down on us as we walked.  We cooled ourselves down by dipping our feet and hands in the icy streams that flowed down from the mountains.

 

By the time we started our descent back towards civilization we were ready to continue with our journey.  After 10 long days of non stop trekking our feet needed rest, our stomachs craved the variety of the delights available in the restaurants in Pokhara, and we longed for contact with the rest of the world again.  We would recharge with some much appreciated home comforts, before setting off for more Nepali adventures.

There was no end to the active outdoor delights available in this beautiful country, and next on our agenda we would be taking advantage of the modern high adrenaline side of the adventure scene… in the form of a 160 metre bungee jump!  Sublime in a completely different way from the tranquil stillness of our immersion in this magical mountainscape.

 

 

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Deep Turbo – Scuba Diving Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

This dive encapsulated everything I love about scuba diving.  The colours, the weird and wonderful life forms, the otherworldly landscapes, the feeling of freedom and bliss, the clear blue tropical water and sky, and the relaxed joyful boat ride back to land, sunbathing on the roof with my fellow divers, reflecting on what a perfect dive it had been.  We had been so lucky to see nearly ALL of the marine life that can be spotted at Deep Turbo, a dive site off the coast of Gili Trawangan, Indonesia.

The view from Gili Trawangan beach.

The view from Gili Trawangan beach.

I took my PADI Open Water and Advanced qualifications at Blue Marlin Dive on the tiny island.  As a new diver I was pretty much in awe every moment of every dive, however, it was clear to me from the reaction of the instructors that this had been a very special dive indeed.  The timing and conditions were perfect.  A leopard shark and eagle ray emerged from the deep water beneath us and glided gracefully past, slowly enough for us all to stop and just look in amazement.  Then what can only be described as a HERD of bump headed parrot fish swam by.  These guys were huge and there were a LOT of them!  It was a magical, very surreal sight.  We also saw reef sharks, moray eels and countless other smaller fish just carrying on as if we weren’t there staring at them, mesmerized by the beauty of their world.

The whole dive just had a feeling of perfection about it.  It was as if each creature appeared right on cue to capture our attention, then slowly drifted away, leaving us enough time to fully process what we’d seen and enjoy the feeling of weightlessly moving through the crystal clear water before the next amazingly beautiful spectacle came into view.

I don’t want to give you an unrealistic picture of what scuba diving is like, because it definitely isn’t always as peaceful and thoroughly satisfying as this dive was, but it is still one of my favourite activities even when the conditions are less than perfect and the creatures are all hiding away.  It’s so liberating to be able to move effortlessly (once you get the hang of the equipment and provided there isn’t a strong current!) in any direction and explore a hidden world full of unexpected delights.

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The Diverse Amazing Landscapes of South America

I’m sure I’ll write about all of these places at a later date, but for now I just wanted to create a quick mainly visual post about the crazy scenery in South America.  We travelled by land across most of the continent, and I think that’s why it made such an impression on me.  We’d go between desert and sea, mountains and jungle in single bus journeys (very long ones admittedly, but the impact was still incredible).  We saw the distinct striking landscapes from the pictures below emerge and fade into one another seamlessly throughout the day.  Or we’d dose off in a barren wilderness and wake up surrounded by snow.  It was truly amazing.

Salar de Uyuni

Salar de Uyuni. The world’s largest salt flat, in Bolivia. Fantastic strangely coloured lakes, giant cacti and volcanoes are some of the other natural wonders of this region.

Angel Falls

Angel Falls, Venezuela. Breathtaking scenery. The whole journey to reach the isolated waterfalls was an adventure by tiny plane and then boat into a forgotten land of table top mountains and jungle.

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon.  Home to the giant Andean condor.

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls.  These magnificent waterfalls are on the border between Argentina and Brazil. Whenever I see waterfalls I love to imagine being in the wilderness thousands of years ago and stumbling upon them for the first time. They are absolutely vast, and the roar of the water is amazing.

Ushuaia

Ushuaia, Argentina. The southernmost city in the world.

Perito Moreno glacier

Perito Moreno glacier, Argentina. Huge blocks of ice break off the end of this gigantic glacier and crash spectacularly into the water as it melts during the summer months.

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