Copenhagen in one day

On our 5th day during our road trip through Denmark and Sweden, we got up early to enjoy a full day in Denmark’s capital city Copenhagen.

The day we visited, there was the Copenhagen IRONMAN triathlon on and the city was full of people literally running around and a lot of the streets were closed to traffic which made it more enjoyable to walk around. We visited Copenhagen on a Sunday which made it a lot cheaper for us parking vice, because on public holidays and Sundays parking is for free in the whole city. Otherwise depending on the parking zone in the city (cheapest is Yellow, then Blue, Green and most expensive is Red) and the parking time (night or peak hour) it costs between 2-35 DKK per hour! You can see the prices here. 

When we found a nice parking spot in the city center, we started off walking to Nyhavn to see the famous colourful houses of Copenhagen. It looks beautiful in the sunshine but it is pretty busy with all the tourists trying to find a perfect photo shot.

From here walk along the waterfront to the autonomous Free State of Christiania. Christiania was founded in 1971 as it was an old not-used military area where nobody was living anymore. As there wasn’t enough space in Copenhagen for payable rent, the people overtook that area and built their own houses there. Walk along these special streets while you still can, because the Danish government is planning on changing them.

Royal Danish Opera House, view from Amalien Garden
Royal Danish Opera House, view from Amalien Garden

From here, you can visit the Royal Danish Opera House which received the Outstanding Structure Award in 2008 for its fantastic architecture. It is located on Holmen Island. Maybe you will buy some tickets here for a show in one of the most modern Opera Houses in the world.

After visiting the Royal Danish Opera House, you can cross the bridge again, walk along the waterfront to Amalienborg Castle. At Amalienborg Castle you can have a look if the Royal Family is home at that moment as it is the official residence of them. If the Royal Family is home, every day at 12 pm you can witness the changing of the guards. The Castle is constructed as four palaces around an octagonal square. Historically the four palaces were constructed for the four different Danish aristocracy families.

Entrance Amalienborg Castle, three palaces are shown with Frederiks Church in the background
Entrance Amalienborg Castle, three palaces are shown with Frederiks Church in the background

If you walk towards Amalienborg Castle you will already see the beautiful building of Frederiks Church in the background. Often it is also called Marble Church which is constructed in a late Baroque style. You can visit the church from 15 June to 31st August every day at 1 pm for adults 35 DKK and children under 18 years 3,00 Euros. I highly recommend to visit the church as it is an impressive building and while visiting it reminded me of the same feeling which I had while visiting the Pantheon in Rome.

Frederiks Church
Frederiks Church

After Frederiks Church we visited the Design Museum Denmark as it has FREE admission for people under 26 years and students. For adults it costs 100 DKK. We were not disappointed as they display a huge variety of different design from all around the world and different centuries. It is a very big building with a museum garden and also a good restaurant.

Opening hours Design Museum Denmark

Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 6

Display at Design Museum Denmark
Display at Design Museum Denmark

pm and Wednesday until 9 pm; closed on public holidays

Afterwards we went further to see Gefion Fountain where you can go to make a wish. It is an impressive fountain in the middle of Copenhagen’s port.

Right next to the fountain you will see the beautiful white St. Alban’s Church, also just called the English Church. It is from the 19th century in a Gothic Revival style. When the church is open and offers services, you can find out for every month of the year here.

If you walk over the bridge next to the Gefion Fountain and continue walking straight, you will get to the icon of Copenhagen, the Little Mermaid, a small 1,25m-high bronze statue which is based on the fairy tale of the Danish author Hans Christian Anderson.

Gefion Fountain right next to St. Alban’s Church
Gefion Fountain right next to St. Alban’s Church
St Alban’s Church
St Alban’s Church

You will walk along the rampart of the Castell of Copenhagen. You can walk all around it and then enter it either from the Norwegian or Pinneberg entrance. Inside you will find the commander house, a church and an old windmill on top of Kongens bastion. Opening hours are daily from 6 am till sunset and the admission is FREE.

After all the city walk, you can go and relax in the Botanical Garden. There is a beautiful café where you can sit down, relax and enjoy the perfect view and stunning nature around you. To get ready for the prices, you can have a look already in advance here.

View of Rosenborg Castle from the café in King’s Garden
View of Rosenborg Castle from the café in King’s Garden

Another possibility is to enjoy the nature in Copenhagen is King’s Garden or Rosenborg Castle Garden (Kongens Have). Here is also a nice café at the Hercules Pavillion with a great view of Rosenborg Castle. It is the oldest park in Copenhagen. Both gardens are open during summer time (01.04. – 30.09.) daily from 8:30 am – 6 pm and during winter time from 8:30 am – 4 pm. The admission is FREE.

Rosenborg Castle which is from the 17th century is open to visitors Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm. Inside is a museum with the chronological collection of Danish Kings and Queens, including the Royal Crown jewelry.

Rundetaarn (Round Tower)
Rundetaarn (Round Tower)

As a perfect end of the day, we suggest to visit Rundetaarn (Round Tower) and go up on the top for a perfect view of the city. Depending on your visit, you might be able to catch the sunset. It was built in the 17th century as an astronomical observatory for Copenhagen University.

Opening Hours Rundetaarn

Summer Season: 01.05. – 30.09. daily 10 am – 20

Winter Season: 01.10. – 30.04. Monday, Thursday – Sunday: 10 am – 18 and Tuesday & Wednesday 10 am – 21 (closed 24 & 25 December and 1 January)

Admission:

Adults: 25 DKK
Children (5 -15 years): 5 DKK

Our suggested walking tour is shown in the map below:

 


Denmark and Sweden: tips and our 8-day itinerary

As I have seen beautiful photos and heard wonderful stories about Denmark, it was a long dream of mine to explore that country and to see for myself. This summer I fulfilled that dream in a wonderful sister road trip and it was even better than expected. Therefore, I want to share my experiences and my 8-day itinerary with you today. I will share also some tips with you which you should consider while you are traveling through Denmark and Sweden.

First thing, Denmark and Sweden are VERY expensive! At least for people earning in Euro and aren’t coming from the Northern countries like Norway, those countries are very expensive for us. It starts with the food, all kind of activities and ends with expensive accommodation. However, if you plan ahead and aren’t up for any 5-star hotels and are happy with outdoor activities, you will be able to afford it.

Tips

  1. Prices: As I already stated above, Denmark and Sweden are very expensive. However, if you are traveling as a student, bring your student card! Especially for activity entrance fees, you will get it often a lot cheaper. Also, if you are traveling with children up to 17 years old, often the entrance fees are for FREE or a lot reduced. So, definitely bring your IDs!
  2. Money: Denmark is part of the EU but didn’t decide to except the Euro. Therefore, they have their own currency, the Danish crowns. The exchange rates are more or less 1 DKK = 0,14 Euro and 1 Euro = 7,45 DKK; 1 SEK = 0,10 Euro and 1 Euro = 9,77 SEK (as of 11/2017). We didn’t have any crowns as cash in our hands once. We payed EVERYTHING already in advance online (for accommodation or the ferry) or payed with our credit card.
  3. Food: As we knew that food is super expensive in Denmark and Sweden and we drove by car from Germany up North, we decided to plan ahead for those 8 days and buy all the food and drinks already in Germany. We had a transportable fridge with us in the car and the trunk was full with food (at least in the beginning ^^). We saved so much money as we didn’t have to buy anything there anymore. To give you an idea of the food prices there: the cheapest street food which we could find was a kebab for 7,50 Euro each! Once we also treated ourselves very well and had one scoop of ice cream for 3,50 Euro each. As we brought all our food with us, we planned to have a kitchen in most of our accommodation.
  4. Transportation: We drove from Germany with in our own car. The fuel is just a little bit more expensive than in Germany. What makes driving more expensive are the toll roads. The most expensive maut which we had to pay was for the bridge between Denmark and Sweden which costs 56,00 Euro one-way! If you need to rent one, I believe it would be the cheapest to rent one at the German border and bring it back there afterwards. There are two ways of getting to Denmark from Germany: by land and by boat. As we wanted to do a roundtrip, we decided to get there by land and come back by ferry. We decided on Scandlines which you should book in advance here. It cost us 126,00 Euro from Gedser (Denmark) to Rostock (Germany) for a car < 6 m and 3 passengers for a 1hrs45min boat ride.
  5. Accommodation: As we knew that it would get expensive in Denmark and Sweden and we were traveling during high season, we decided to book everything in advance. That means, the planning before the trip took more time but in the end, it was nice to travel without worrying where you are going to sleep that night. As we were three people, we book accommodation through booking.com but also through Airbnb.com. As we brought all our food with us, we planned to have a kitchen in most of our accommodation. Where we stayed exactly each night you will find in the 8-day itinerary. Moreover, in Denmark and Sweden it is very uncommon to provide free bed linen. As we didn’t know in advance, we didn’t bring any and had to rent them every night for about 8-10 Euros each time. So, to save a lot of money, bring your own bed linen or a sleeping bag.

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8-day itinerary – 1st to 4th

As we had to book our accommodation for the tour in advance (see tips), we had to have a rough idea of what we wanted to see and were we wanted to go each day during our road trip. Therefore, we had a look of driving distances and interesting sights before we started. Our 8-day travel plan looked like this:



1st day

We drove from Berlin to Esberg, Denmark for about 6,5 hours. Esberg has a very beautiful old historical city center and it is famous for the big white statues of three men looking towards the ocean. The 9 meter high statues are called “Mennesket ved havet” (The men by the sea) and can be seen even 10 km from the ocean if the weather is good. If you still have time you can go walking along the beach front.

Afterwards we drove to our accommodation in Sig: Egebjerggaard Bed & Breakfast

It is a lovely shared house with different rooms and apartments. You share the big kitchen (including a fridge, cooking area and all cutlery) and the lounge room with the other rooms. It is owned by a lovely couple who give helpful tips about the surrounding area. The garden is huge and perfect for playing sports during the day or a cozy campfire at night. It is pretty close to Legoland as well, were some other people went during the day who stayed at Egebjerggaard Bed & Breakfast. Bring your own linen, otherwise you have to pay for it on top of the price. It cost us 67,00 Euro for the whole room for up to 4 people.

The surrounding area is very beautiful for a stroll along the river, through the bushes or going fishing as well.

2nd day

To start perfectly into your new day, explore the lake Karlsgarde So near Egebjerggaard Bed & Breakfast. It is a wonderful morning walk of about 1,5 hours roundtrip.

Private garden along the way to Karlsgarde Lake
Private garden along the way to Karlsgarde Lake

That lake is also part of the Coast to Coast Trail of Denmark. It is a 120-km trail through the idyllic countryside of Jutland. More information about it here. Afterwards you can drive for about 1,5 hours to visit Egeskov Castle which is South of Odense. Next to the beautiful located castle, the castle garden is already enough for a visit! It received different prices each year and since 2013 it has yearly received the “Travellers Choice” at Tripadvisor. Take your time to explore this special place on earth.

Egeskov Castle
Egeskov Castle

Egeskov Castle
Egeskov Gade 18
5772 Kværndrup
Denemark
www.egeskov.dk
Phone: 0045 6227 1016

Opening hours:
29.4. – 23.6. & 1.9. – 22.10. 10 am – 5 pm (castle from 11 am on)
24.6. – 13.8. 10 am – 7 pm
14.8. – 31.8. 10 am – 6 pm (castle from 11 am on)

Prices:
From 29.4. – 23.6. & 28.8. – 22.10.: Park, exhibitions & Castle: 190 DKK (adult) & 110 DKK (child)
24.6. – 27.8.: Park, exhibitions: 190 DKK (adult) & 110 DKK (child)
Park, exhibitions & Castle: 220 DKK (adult) & 130 DKK (child)
If you want to skip the line, you can buy your tickets online in advance here

When you are full of amazing impressions of the landscape architecture beauty of Egeskov, you can drive for about 1hr40min to Roskilde. In Roskilde we stayed in an AirBnB for 3 people including a kitchen. We payed for a one-bed-room apartment 84,00 Euros for one night.

3rd day

Roskilde Cathedral
Roskilde Cathedral

We used our third day in Denmark to explore the impressive old city center of Roskilde with its Roskilde Cathedral and the famous Viking Ship Museum. Roskilde Cathedral, constructed during the 12th and 13th centuries, is an UNESCO world heritage site and the royal burial church of Denmark.

Opening hours
1.04. – 30.09.: Monday – Saturday 10 am – 18; Sunday 13 – 16 (except July till 18)
1.10. – 31.03.: Monday – Saturday 10 am – 16
* These times may vary due to church services.

Prices
Adults 60 DKK (Copenhagen Card Free)
Children (0-17 years) free
Retired and Students 40 DKK (Copenhagen Card Free)
Groups (minimum 10 pers) 40 DKK per person

The Viking Ship Museum is a lot of fun for kids and adults. It is a very interactive museum with offered workshops (you can learn how to build a Viking Ship there!) or going on a cruise on a Viking Ship replicant. I highly recommend to participate in one of the free given guided tours about the ships. The guides are really good and are giving very interesting facts.

Workshop Building a Viking Ship
Workshop Building a Viking Ship

Opening hours
daily 10 am – 16; closed: 24, 25 & 31 December
during summer months and on holidays until 17:00 (11 – 26.02.; 9 – 17.04. & 01.05 – 22.10.)

Prices
during summer months and on holidays (11 – 26.02.; 9 – 17.04. & 01.05 – 22.10.):
adults 130 DKK and students 100 DKK
rest of the year: adults 85 DKK and students 70 DKK
Children to the age of 17 years old FREE
Boat trips are for 100 DKK (50 min) and 200 DKK (100 min).

Original Viking ship in the Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde
Original Viking ship in the Viking Ship Museum, Roskilde

After spending a lovely morning and lunch time in Roskilde, it was time to drive about 40 min to the beautiful Frederiksborg Castle in Hillerød. The castle was built in the 17th century and incorporates the best of Renaissance architecture.

Unfortunately, we arrived too late to visit the castle itself but the castle garden is extraordinaire as well! So much beauty and all of it for FREE and it is longer open to public than the castle itself! The Castle Gardens are symmetrical Baroque Gardens with cascades and parterre flower-beds. Moreover, next to it there is a romantic English-inspired garden. So, this impressive landscape architecture has something to offer for everybody.

Frederiksborg Castle in the background of the beautiful Baroque Gardens
Frederiksborg Castle in the background of the beautiful Baroque Gardens

Opening hours of the castle:
01.11. – 31.03.: 11 am – 15 pm
01.04 – 31.10.: 10 am – 17 pm

Entrance fee for the castle:
Adults: 75 DKK
Children (6-15 yrs): 20 DKK
Students + Seniors (65+): 60 DKK

After a wonderful evening stroll along those beautiful gardens, we drove further to our accommodation in Gilleleje. A nice apartment from AirBnB for 3 people for 66,00 Euro per night.

4th day

Gilleleje is a beautiful little fisher town in the North of Denmark with long wide stunning beaches. We had a long coastal walk along all the beaches and it is definitely worth it!

Gilleleje Beach
Gilleleje Beach

Another famous beach is Hornbæk Beach or Tisvildeleje Beach about 50 min along the coast from Gilleleje. We just drove through and it looked nice. However, it was a lot more crowded than the beaches of Gilleleje and we were very happy about the choices we have made. The coastal drive is a very peaceful and enjoyable drive with magnificent views. We drove all the way to Kronborg Castle in Helsingør which is an UNESCO world heritage site. This is the famous castle known as Hamlet’s castle as William Shakespeare decided to use this special site for Hamlet. In the casemates is also the legendary knight Holger Danske “sleeping” who will, according to the stories, will wake up and protect Denmark in case of an important war.

Opening hours
January – March & November – December: Tuesday – Sunday 11 am – 16 (last admission: 30 min before closing); closed 24th, 25th and 31st of December
May and June: daily 11 am – 16:00 (last admission: 30 min before closing)
June – September: daily 10 am – 17:30 (last admission: 30 min before closing)
October: daily 11 am – 16:00 (last admission: 30 min before closing)

Prices
November – May:
Adults: 90 DKK
Child under 18 years: Free of charge
Students and groups (min. 10 people): 80 DKK
June – August
Adults: 140 DKK
Child under 18 years: Free of charge
Students and groups (min. 10 people): 130 DKK

Kronborg Castle
Kronborg Castle

After visiting Kronborg Castle we drove to our AirBnB in Søborg where we rented a 3-people-apartment for 64,00 Euro per night. We decided to stay in Søborg because it was close to Copenhagen and the city was just too expensive for staying there. Therefore, we planned on sleeping close to Copenhagen to have enough time to visit the city the next day.

Continue reading:

8-day itinerary – 5 to 8

5th day

We got up early the next morning for enjoying a full day in Denmark’s capital city Copenhagen. The day we visited it, it was the Copenhagen triathlon on and the city was full of people literally running around and a lot of the streets were closed to traffic which made it more enjoyable to walk around. I write an own post about a day-trip in Copenhagen.

Neyhavn in Copenhagen
Neyhavn in Copenhagen

After our very well spent day in the capital, it was time for us to leave the beautiful country Denmark and cross the border to Malmö in Sweden. It is a stunning 50 mins ride over the long Oresund Bridge. The bridge is the longest combined rail and road bridge in Europe and is almost 8 km long. If you cross that border, you never come to any checkpoint or anything but just have to pay the maut of 56,00 Euros one-way! Because the border crossing is that expensive, I wouldn’t recommend to go just for a day-trip but at least to stay there for a night or two or even longer. We stayed at First Camp Malmö in a cozy new hut for up to 4 people. However, they also have a camp ground and bigger huts. The location is beautiful directly next to the waterfront with a beach and swimming areas, campfire possibilities, big grass areas for playing sports and perfect area for a stroll along the water. For the hut we payed 197,00 Euros for two nights. Bring your own linen here as well.

Sunset along Oresund Bridge, view from First Camp Malmö
Sunset along Oresund Bridge, view from First Camp Malmö

6th day

Use the day to explore Sweden. We enjoyed going to Malmö and to visit the Malmöhus Castle which is built in the 16th century in a Renaissance style. It houses the Malmö Museum (website in Swedish: http://malmo.se/museer ).

Opening hours daily 10 am – 17:00
Entrance fee: adults 40 SEK, children (0-19) Free, students 20 SEK

Malmöhus Castle
Malmöhus Castle

Around the Castle you will find a pretty nice Castle garden with a fountain. There we saw a “meeting” of Pokémon Go players as it seemed there was a Pokémon arena. Everybody was staring at their phones and nobody was talking to each other. What a strange world we are living in by now…

Another side in Malmö is the Turning Torso, the tallest building in Scandinavia. I am pretty sure you won’t miss it, as you can see it from all over the city. The building won already different awards in 2005 and 2015.

If you are up for some swimming, the best spot to go to the beach is Ribersborg Beach in Malmö. In case you want to go out to eat in a restaurant, we got recommended Far i Hatten (Father in the hat) which is supposed to have great food and drinks. As I said earlier, we had all our food with us and it was way too expensive for us to eat out, we never tried it.

As Malmö isn’t that big, we also decided to drive all the way to Lund to explore that beautiful old historical city center. The old Lund University has very nice-looking buildings and it is magical to walk around that campus. When I was there, I nearly wanted to study again. ^^

Beautiful old buildings of Lund University
Beautiful old buildings of Lund University

Stunning interior of Lund Cathedral]
Stunning interior of Lund Cathedral]

Another must-see is Lund Cathedral which is the oldest cathedral in Scandinavia. It was built in the 12th century in a Romanesque style. I have seen already a lot of different churches during my travels but I would consider Lund Cathedral as the most beautiful church I have ever seen in my life. When I entered it took my breath away and I immediately had the same feeling as I had while standing in front of Uluru, in Australia: that is a magical place and God seems to live there.

Opening hours: daily from 8 am to 18:00; Entrance FREE.

Lund also has to offer some good restaurants as we were told but never tried. The recommended places were: a good Asian restaurant called Ihsiri where you should try the superb Pad Thai, Bytaregatan 14, 222 23 Lund.

A good Sushi place called Rå Epok, Klostergatan 7, 222 22 Lund. Or great places for having a beer: Inferno, Paradisgatan 1, 223 55 Lund and Café Ariman, Kungsgatan 2, 223 50 Lund which apparently is more of a student meeting point, very nice and friendly.

7th day

We drove back to Copenhagen to do some shopping there and afterwards we drove for about 2,5 hours to Mons Klint which are the highest chalk cliffs in Denmark with up to 120 m high going straight down to the Baltic sea. If the weather is good, you can see the chalk cliffs of Rügen, Germany on the other side of the ocean and vise versa.

You will also find the Geocenter Mons Klint there which explains the whole geological backround. We didn’t enter as we preferred to go hiking and explore the beautiful landscape.

The whole area around Mons Klint consists of woodland and you can do a nice hiking tour from the Geocenter Mons Klint up on the cliffs all along the waterfront and coming back along the beach getting up the cliffs using the longest wooden steps in Denmark. So, bring along your hiking shoes and get some fitness done. But be aware of the incoming tides as you can get back along the beach just at low tide.

Impressive chalk cliffs of Mons Klint
Impressive chalk cliffs of Mons Klint

Afterwards we visited Liselund Castle and its Romantic Garden on Mon. It is a Free admission to the park which displays a Palace, Swiss House, Norwegian House, Chinese House and the castle itself. It is very well preserved and you can find a guiding booklet at the entrance to the gardens explaining all the different sights. During the summer months they offer guided tours through the Palace Wednesday to Sunday at 10:30 am, 11 am, 1:30 pm and 2 pm for adults 50 DKK and children under 18 for Free. More information about it here.

Liselund Palace
Liselund Palace

We spent our last night on our trip through Denmark and Sweden at Klintholm Marina Park Cabins directly at the waterfront where we could enjoy a beautiful last sunset with the sun setting into the ocean. What a perfectly last night! We payed for 3 people 64,00 Euros for one night.

Beautiful sunset, view from Klintholm Marina Park Cabins
Beautiful sunset, view from Klintholm Marina Park Cabins

8th day

On our 8th and therefore last day, we took the ferry back to Germany from Gedser, Denmark to Rostock, Germany. We decided on Scandlines which you should book in advance here. It cost us 126,00 Euro for a car < 6 m and 3 passengers for a 1hrs45min boat ride. You have to be at least 15 min prior to the departure time at the port. It was a very relaxing ferry trip and we were happy that we decided to go by ferry as we had time to relax, enjoy the scenery and discuss our beautiful memories of the past week in Denmark and Sweden.

Scandlines ferry from Gedser, Denmark to Rostock, Germany
Scandlines ferry from Gedser, Denmark to Rostock, Germany

Overall costs
For the whole 8 days including everything (like petrol, car insurance, accommodation, food, activities, ferries, maut…) we payed 480,00 Euros each of the three of us. That is the most budget traveling we could come up with in Denmark and Sweden but despite that, we really enjoyed our time and didn’t have the feeling that we missed out on anything as we did do everything we wanted to.


Life and death on Mt. Rinjani – in memory of Max (Ng Yin Teck)

On my trip to Mount Rinjani in Lombok, which at 3,726 meters is the second highest mountain in Indonesia, I experienced how thin the line is between life and death.

On Mt. Rinjani
On Mt. Rinjani

It’s been a year ago now that I was on top of Mt. Rinjani. It feels like it was today in the morning…my heart rate is up, it has been a long walk from there for the past year. Just a few of you know what happened on Mt. Rinjani. Today I want to share my experience so that hopefully nobody else ever needs to go through it again.

On 7th November 2016 I started a 3-day hiking trip to the top of Mt. Rinjani. Some of my friends had suggested to do the tour as they had been there about 2 years earlier. They told me that it was one of the best experiences of their lives. The spectacular thing about Mt. Rinjani is that at approximately 2,000 meters above sea level it contains the crater lake Segara Anak and also some hot springs. Within the crater is another little volcano named Gunung Baru Jari which last erupted on 29th September 2016. Every year the routes are officially closed from December to March because the routes are even more dangerous when wet. Also, due to the last eruption, the Rinjani National Park and the routes to climb had been officially closed indefinitely but tourists are not informed about it by the trekking tour companies.

The 3-day-tour up on Mt. Rinjani is usually organized into different parts:

1st day: hiking and climbing from the starting point in Sembarun (600 m) up to the base camp on the rim (2,600 m) starting at 8 am and getting to the base camp at 4 pm including rest stops.

2nd day: Getting up at 2 am and start walking with just a head lamp to get to the peak for sunrise at 6 am, then go back to base camp, walk down to the lake before going up to the rim again. Around 11 hours of non-stop walking that day!

3rd day: Watching the sunrise at the rim before starting a 7-hour hike down to Senaru.

It sounds exhausting and that is an understatement. A girl I spoke to who had already done it, told me that when she reached the top she cried from both exhaustion and happiness. I decided to except the challenge and to find out about my own limits. Little did I know that I would end up experiencing my limits in another way…

Continue reading:

1st day

I met for the first time with my trekking partner in Senaru. A smiling, happy and laughing 24-year-old, called Max from Malaysia. He was very excited. He had come just for the 3-day-trekking tour to Lombok. Before we left we had to fill out a paper with our names and passport numbers in case of an emergency. So, at that point, I found out that his real name wasn’t Max but Ng Yin Teck. I asked about his name and he explained to me that it has several meanings and one of them was “protection”. We then met our porter Bayan who would be carrying most of the weight up to the mountain including our tents, sleeping bags, food, cooking gear etc. (total weight guessed by Max and I of about 40 kg). On the back of a pick-up truck we got driven from Senaru to our starting point in Sembarun. On the way, our guide Anan joined us. Max spotted the peak of Mt. Rinjani far away in the blue sky and we looked at each other holding back a smile knowing what sacrifice and muscle pain was in front of us. Our group consisted of just Max and I as paying customers plus Anan and Bayan but along the way we passed a pick-up truck with a group of seven people which we would get to know later on. Then at our starting point, we also met another group of three people: a girl Nao and two German guys Christian and Mathias.

Max and I pointing to the peak of Mt. Rinjani, 1st day
Max and I pointing to the peak of Mt. Rinjani, 1st day

During those three days of trekking I must have said 20 times or more to Bayan and Anan “Thank you so much for everything!”. Without them it would have been so much harder to climb that mountain if it would have been possible at all…During the coming three days I talked a lot to Anan and I learned a few words to say to Bayan as well, but the communication due to language barriers was way harder. I learned about their life as guides and porters. My feelings towards their work are very mixed. I feel very sorry for them that they have to carry this much weight up and down the mountain two times per week but understand that the current alternative is even worse. Anan has climbed up and down Mt. Rinjani more than 300 times until today.

But this was not the only thing what impressed me about those two… they climb that mountain in flip-flops! At first, they explained it was because they are used to it and it is easier, but after a while I found out, it was really because they can’t afford shoes… To climb the peak of Mt. Rinjani you are confronted with lava stones which hurt and are very hard to climb. For that day, Anan carries special shoes he shares with another guide.

On our second stop we met the 7 people group I already saw on the pick-up truck: Noemi, Albert, Juliana, Hannah, Philip, Nicolas and Florian. Their guide was named Lyon. It was interesting how different the group dynamic was and that although each group started off hiking on its own we usually ended up crossing paths again for a little chat or laughter.

During our lunch break Max and I were watching the monkeys, enjoying the scenery, talking about our lives and making a bit fun of a Chinese group next to us. We joked that they were “glamour trekking” as they got a 3-course menu, chairs to sit on (not just a blanket) and two guides for the 4 of them plus 4 porters. Usually there is one porter for two people carrying the things. During that lunch break one of the Chinese guys asked where the toilet was and the guide showed him the bushes around us. The Chinese looked pretty shocked as they didn’t expect that answer…Since that moment whenever Max, Anan or I had to go to the toilet, we said that we are off to our “5-star-toilet”! ^^ We had lots of fun and laughed so much together.

At one stop Max pulled out his spray bottle again and sprayed his legs. He looked funny with his shiny legs. Since then his nickname was “Shiny armor”. Earlier I always thought it would be sunscreen but when he offered it to me, I got to know that it was pain killer spray. I didn’t want to use it. Max told me that it was his first time in his life ever trekking up a mountain! As I already knew from my friends that this is a pretty tough walk, I asked him why in the world he would pick such a difficult route for his first attempt?! He told me: “All my friends are asking me why I am trekking at all. They prefer to go to a shopping center…but I want to live my life, I want to challenge myself and do something special. I chose Mt. Rinjani because it is a very special mountain with the second volcano within the first volcano, with the beautiful view on the lake and going fishing. I want to be able to tell myself, I did it, I can do this! I don’t want to regret one day that I didn’t do that. I want to be able to tell my children and grandchildren what I have done in my life.” I literally wrote his words down while he said it to me as I had already planned to write a post about Mt. Rinjani that day, one year ago.

The beautiful scenery from the base camp above the clouds with the lake peeking out and the sun going down slowly, 1st day
The beautiful scenery from the base camp above the clouds with the lake peeking out and the sun going down slowly, 1st day

We enjoyed the view from the rim above the clouds and looking on the lake with a stunning sunset. Watching this scenery, we ate our dinner and went to bed early as we knew we had to get up at 2 am and start walking again. In the tent, I used wet tissues to remove as much dust, sunscreen and sweat as possible. I took off my socks and started cleaning one foot and the comparison of the clean and dirty foot was impressive! I asked Max if he had already cleaned his feet and he told me: “No, I prefer not to look at them and not to take off my socks until tomorrow at the hot springs where I can put on new clean socks.” That sounded reasonable and so we went to bed, Max with his dirty socks on.

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2nd day

The next morning, we woke up because of all the people moving and talking, while preparing for their ascent to the peak. Max said that he didn’t sleep well, he looked tired but still excited to go up. We had some crackers and hot tea, put on our clothes and started walking in the middle of the night. You can only see as far as your lamp light projects. So, in case you have a good climbing partner you just focus on his/her feet and try to walk the same route. Max was tired and not so fast that morning so Anan told me to go ahead in order to catch the sunrise up on the peak. I knew that Nao and Christian were a bit in front of me so I started walking faster until I joined with them. The three of us walked a long path together and encouraged one another.

Sunrise at Mt. Rinjani with the lava stones and the cruel gradient of the mountain, 2nd day
Sunrise at Mt. Rinjani with the lava stones and the cruel gradient of the mountain, 2nd day

Beautiful view down to the lake with the shadow of Mt. Rinjani projected onto the clouds during sunrise, 2nd day
Beautiful view down to the lake with the shadow of Mt. Rinjani projected onto the clouds during sunrise, 2nd day

During my ascent, I passed by a couple of people and always encouraged them to keep on going. One of them was Fabian who thanked me a couple of times afterwards.

The exhausted people I passed by during my ascent on the way up to the peak. You can see how narrow the way is and how long and difficult it is to get up there
The exhausted people I passed by during my ascent on the way up to the peak. You can see how narrow the way is and how long and difficult it is to get up there

Due to complete exposure to the wind it is sooo cold up on the summit that you don’t want to be up there for too long. About 5 min down from the summit are big rocks where you can hide from the wind and get a bit warmer and wait if you need to.

I stood on the top of the world, peak Rinjani, with such a beautiful view I will never forget! The mountains around me, the lake and the other volcano below me, the ocean glittering in the sunlight, the view until Bali, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida…I went through a couple of remembrances at those islands, the wind in my hair, the freedom above everything, everything seems so small and easy, the happiness being able to stand there, having the time and the physical ability to climb that mountain and to enjoy it. Just amazing and not possible to buy anywhere…I was so incredible happy.

Fabian and his wife Martina arrived on the peak, he took some pictures of me on the top to return the favor of me encouraging him along the way while I was waiting for Max and Anan to get to the top.

Enjoying the view on top of Mt. Rinjani, 2nd day, photo by Fabian
Enjoying the view on top of Mt. Rinjani, 2nd day, photo by Fabian

After about 30 minutes waiting on the peak I started to get very cold and decided to try to locate Max and Anan. I started to go down the mountain and found them climbing up slowly about 15 min down from the peak. Max was exhausted but determined to climb the peak so Anan and I helped him up the mountain. About 20 min later we reached the peak and I could see in Max’s face with his huge smile that he was as happy about his success as I was. Finally, we could take pictures of my group, all three of us on the top of Mt. Rinjani – the perfect feeling after so many exhausting hours of hiking up this mountain!

Max, Anan and I at the peak of Mt. Rinjani, 2nd day (Featured Image)

Anan even brought his sleeping bag with him to keep himself warm as he doesn’t have a rain or wind jacket but just this jumper he always wears. Later on I shared my gloves with him.

We didn’t stay too long on the top as we were already running late on schedule for that day. We still had to hike to the lake and the hot springs before reaching the rim on the other side of Mt. Rinjani by sunset. It would have been a crazy day of about 11 hours hiking: 3 hours up to the peak from the base camp, 2 hours down back to the base camp, 3 hours to the lake and another 3 hours up to the rim.

Max was already tired at that stage as he had not slept very well and it was very difficult for him to climb to the peak. We went down the mountain slowly as his muscles hurt, he used his pain killing spray a lot and he was a bit afraid of the heights…

Anan’s shoes which he just lends from his friend for going up to the peak, broke that day. I asked him if he will buy himself new shoes although I nearly guessed the answer. He told me “No, I can’t afford new shoes now. I will have to go up to the peak in flip-flops for now.” I had a discussion with Anan that it will be impossible to go up and down that peak in flip-flops with those stones! I knew he wouldn’t have another choice without the money. So, later on I gave him money to buy himself proper shoes which he did. Since I left Indonesia Anan has already gone up that mountain uncountable times in his new shoes.

Finally, we reached the Base Camp again were we got breakfast after around 6 hours of hiking (it took us longer to go up and down the peak than expected). Anan and I asked Max several times if he really wanted to continue with the tour as we could see how exhausted and in how much muscle pain he was…however, Max insisted on completing the 3-day-tour and so we started our way down to the lake. We could walk just slowly but with every step we took, our little group went further down to the lake. After around 3,5 hours we reached the beautiful clear water of Segara Anak (“Child of the sea”).

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The incident

Me in the murky water of the hot springs Aik Kalak, last photo Max ever took, 2nd day
Me in the murky water of the hot springs Aik Kalak, last photo Max ever took, 2nd day

We sat down at a campsite near the lake to prepare lunch. During the lunch preparation Bayan brought Max and me down to the hot springs Aik Kalak which is a walk of about 15 min down from the lake, to take a shower, relax those muscles and enjoy the beauty of the scenery and our accomplishments of that day. Finally, Max’s used socks came off as he brought new clean socks with him to use after the refreshing water of the hot springs.
Bayan said to us: “Hati-hati!” before he went back up to help Anan. I explained to Max the meaning of those words: “Be careful!” Max and I were the only ones at the hot springs and were excited to take a bath after all those days of walking, sweat and sunscreen mixed with dirt. We agreed that I would go into the water first and Max would stay outside to take some pictures of me and afterwards I would go out and take some pictures of him. So, I went into the water which was pretty hot (about 42°C) because of the erupted volcano.

I swam next to the waterfall. The water came down pretty strong…after a bit I could feel my heart rate going up like in the sauna and decided to swim back so that my body can cool down. Swimming on my way back I saw Max with his goggles coming slowly into the water making his way over the slippery stones. I said to him: “Hati-hati, Max! Be careful there!” They were the very last words Max ever heard in his life.

As I swam away from the waterfall, Max swam towards it and half way our paths crossed. As Max used his goggles he dived under the dark water. When I reached the stones, and looked towards the water I couldn’t see Max anymore. First, I thought he would be diving somewhere in the water. Then I thought he would be behind the waterfall. Then I started to feel uncomfortable not to know where Max was. I shouted his name and swam to the waterfall to have a better look behind it. He was not there…I couldn’t see him anywhere in the water as the water was very dark – so dark that I could see less than 10 cm below the surface.

I shouted his name over and over again but there was no reply. I don’t know how long I was searching for Max alone before I went up to get Anan…maybe 5 minutes but it felt like hours…With panic, crying, shouting Max’s and Anan’s names, shaking and barefoot I made my way up to the lake running as fast as I could…I don’t know how long it took me to get back up there…maybe 6 minutes as I was running but it felt like the path would never end…

I finally reached the lake where Anan was preparing lunch and when he saw me he immediately knew something was very wrong… ”Anan, I don’t know what happened but Max disappeared in the hot springs!” Anan ran down to the hot springs but Max was not visible…the dark water had taken him. You couldn’t see anything except for the dark water and the waterfalls and hear the sound of harsh water splashing down the stones. When I ran back down to the hot springs I cried, shouted and my whole world stopped – as a doctor I knew it was too late but my heart didn’t want to know the truth.

Already a year has passed by since that day and I repeatedly go over those minutes at the hot springs sooo many times in my mind. It still comes back to me both during the days while I am awake or at night when I am sleeping and I still don’t know what happened…the last time I saw Max alive was when we passed each other, him diving and me swimming in the hot springs. I never heard him scream, nor splashing with water…nothing, just nothing… Probably I will never know what has happened. Maybe the heat of the water, maybe his muscles gave out, maybe dangerous currents under the water with the strong waterfall, maybe he hit his head, maybe a heart attack, maybe he just passed out, maybe something poisonous was in the water…
I don’t know…

An Indonesian girl arrived at the hot springs while we were there searching for Max and told us that just 6 months earlier, on the 8th May 2016, the Indonesian woman called Ike Susesta Adelia, 26 years old, died in the exact same hot springs. When she died several people where at the hot springs and 5 women, including Ika got in trouble due to currents in the water. Four women got rescued but for Ika any help came too late. They couldn’t find her in the dark water and she drowned.

Max died on the day 6 months later on the 8th November 2016 at around 12:30 pm in the water of Aik Kalak – reason unknown.

Since then the two Indonesian men, one called Taufik Budi Prasetiyo, 23 years old, drowned in the water of Aik Kalak on 24th April 2017 at around 10 am and Wayan Suta Asmarajaya, 45 years old, died on 18th June 2017 drowning in the crater lake Segara Anak.

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The world stops

Even though that my world seemed to stop, somehow it just went on around me. I felt disconnected from everything and didn’t know how and if I ever will be part of life again. I felt numb and in a big blur. It felt unreal and still, I had to remind me I somehow was alive, was I? Sometimes I wasn’t sure about it… From that moment on, I needed support from the outside. The people didn’t really have to do anything…they just had to be there with me, so that I wasn’t alone. The first ones who helped me were the group of seven people. I am very grateful that they decided to stay and not continued their trip as planned.

When somebody dies, there are so many things you need to consider which I didn’t even know before. I just never thought about it. It gets even more difficult if somebody dies in the middle of a mountain without any phone connection or anything, at least one-day trip hiking away from the next village. We had to find cell phone connection to reach out to the embassy and to get some help. Some porters were sent up to the mountain to help carrying Max’s body out of the mountain. We were in the middle of nowhere and just hiking normally would have taken us 10 hours straight walking – not considering carrying a dead body off that mountain…The group of seven decided to stay at the camp near the lake for the night. They organized everything for me – a tent, something to eat, to drink and somewhere to sleep. Without them I would have forgotten all of it, I guess…

Late that evening just in the small light of flickering flashlights they carried Max’s dead body from the hot springs up to the campsite near the lake. It was dangerous to bring him up there without any daylight…I feared that some of the guides or porters could take a wrong step and fall. At the camp, we tried to eat, tried to drink something and tried to sleep. It was difficult for me to swallow, I couldn’t eat or drink much even though my last meal was the breakfast with Max in the morning…in the morning he was still alive…
Incredible how life can end in a second without any warning.

That night I didn’t sleep at all. I got up and out of the tent several times, to check on Max’s body, look at the sky full of stars, watch the quiet lake. Standing in the cold air freezing and thinking to myself how lucky I was that I can still feel being cold, can still think and can still feel tired and hungry. I knew it could have been me as well…I was in the water before Max…The line between life and death – so incredible thin.

The next day started. It feels so unreal when you think about it that the world just keeps on turning even though for yourself it feels like everything stops.

3rd day – evacuation

We waited until 7 am for the six porters to arrive who had started walking at 2 am that night. Considering that it was pitch dark, very early in the morning, it is incredible and crazy what they did. They walked 5 hours during the night to cover the ground every other person would have needed 10 hours in daylight.

They strapped Max’s body to a long bamboo stick and started walking. Always 2 people were carrying him, one in the front and one in the back. They had a system with 3 people in the front and 3 at the back which always rotated or at critical parts were carrying all together. I carried most of the water for all nine of us (Anan, Bayan, the 6 porters and me). At least during the time that we still had water. They learned one word in English that day: “water” as they had to ask me for it frequently. As our original group was just four people we basically only had water and food for four people to share amongst nine now. Eventually, we ran out of water and food. So, after a while we showed signs of dehydration, lack of food and fatigue.

However, most of the time I didn’t speak at all as I just could talk basic things in English to Anan but I knew he had other things in mind than talking to me that day…the other 7 people didn’t understand me and so we just communicated with mimic and gestures. I had a lot of time to think…about me, my life, my family, my friends.

The mountain itself, especially from the base camp to the top and also from the lake up to the rim is anything else than easy…it is a dangerous climb where a thoughtless, false footstep could cost you your life. I was not able to concentrate that day and I was shaking, sometimes panicking and pretty sure I would lose my life up on that mountain as well…people who know me would shake their heads now as they never would describe me as a quitter or weak personality. But that mountain and it’s “ways” is unsafe for everybody…and climbing it up to the rim with a dead body on your shoulders is even more unsafe. When it started raining, the stones got more slippery and the porters took off their slippery flip-flops to find more hold barefoot. At the end of the trip several feet were bloody.

Porters carrying Max’s body barefoot, 3rd day
Porters carrying Max’s body barefoot, 3rd day

The porters didn’t have anything to protect them from the rain other than just their normal clothes so I started making kind of “rain jackets” out of plastic bags we carried with us. They were freezing, tired due to lack of sleep, shivering and exhausted from the difficult and heavy walk so I shared all my clothes with them.

During one of the rest stops, I asked around how much the porters got for this great effort they did. In total for starting to walk up the mountain at 2 am and coming back late at around midnight, risking their lives with dehydration, not enough food, carrying a dead body for hours in the rain and through darkness they got 500.000 IDR (around 34 €). A lot of us would not even think of working for an hour doing that kind of job…

After 6 pm it got dark and except for the poor lights of the flickering flashlights you couldn’t see anything in the forest on the mountain. I walked in front of the porters searching for the way and then turning around to tell and show them difficult steps, holes, branches in the way, etc. At around 8 pm after walking for 2 hours in the darkness, falling down several times, stepping in deep water holes, soaking wet shoes, I told Anan that I couldn’t walk anymore…I was tired, every step I took was uncontrolled and I didn’t have any energy to go further. Anan found the right words to describe my status: “Julie, you are walking as if you are completely drunk.” I couldn’t concentrate on my steps anymore and I felt like sleep walking. Anan had to help me walk for the rest of the 3 hours. He encouraged me to get off that mountain with every step we took. I tried to encourage myself by telling me that I am lucky that at least I still could walk on my own…in the end I came safely back from the mountain. When I think back of the conditions I was in, I am still amazed that I am alive today.

Remember, love and live your life

It was a horrible experience, a long walk, a walk full of pain from the inside and outside. It will take me time to process all those memories. Time I have, but I know a lot of people in this world don’t have time to process. Like Anan, for him life has to go on, he needs to earn money for himself and his family. So, his life goes on walking up and down Mt. Rinjani as he doesn’t have any other possibility.

In case you are planning on going to Mt. Rinjani, please be careful. Those paths are not made for unexperienced climbers, nor for situations with rain or a lot of wind. Ask for Anan and Bayan and give them a big hug from me and leave a jacket or a trouser or whatever you can spare for them. They always need it! Be careful hiking and be careful in the water, please! Hati-hati!
I know that my life goes on but it is still hard to believe. I really appreciate all the support I received on the mountain and afterwards. I am grateful to all the people I have met, my friends, my family who support me along the way.

I want to encourage everyone to take a moment, remember Max’s smile, remember your own deceased loved once.
Take a moment to think of what YOU want in your life and if you are working towards that goal right now. If not, please change your life. Because it can end in a second. Life is too short and too valuable to waist it. Do more of what you love. Always live here and now – don’t wait for tomorrow.

On our earth, we experience too many deaths because of all kind of different reasons. So, use your life to find your inner happiness and share it with as many people as you can!

Remember smiling Max
Remember smiling Max

In memories of the smiling and happy Max (Ng Yin Teck).


The Little Outback Experience: Alice Springs, MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon and Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park

I was travelling in the Outback for two weeks from Cairns to Adelaide. However, I know that not everybody has the time to spend two weeks in this breathtaking landscape. The most important parts with more tourist attractions are definitely reachable from Alice Springs. I know that some people fly to Alice Springs to get an Outback feeling. In this post, I want to give you more details on what to do around Alice Springs and in Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park. I highly recommend to rent a car in Alice Springs and do the tour on your own. First of all, it is way cheaper than with a tour and second of all, you are more independent and stay longer in a place which you like. If you have to rent a car, check out the conditions and try to get a 4 WD car to explore the MacDonnell Ranges and get a better Outback feeling.

From my Outback itinerary for two weeks this area Alice Springs, MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon and Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park where Day 5 to Day 10. Read the full Outback itinerary here. Therefore, I would recommend to plan at least 7 days or more for your little Outback experience. My recommended trip for 6 days is shown in the map below:

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Day 1

Relaxing Pool Area in Alice Springs
Relaxing Pool Area in Alice Springs

After arriving in Alice Springs by car or by plane, get to know the city a little better and explore some of the places in the city depending on how much time you have. Where to stay and what to do in Alice Springs, read Day 5 in my complete itinerary: http://sharejourneys.net/2017/07/12/outback-itinerary-australia-from-cairns-to-adelaide-in-2-weeks/6/

Day 2

Day-trip from Alice Springs to the East MacDonnell Ranges. Depending on how many attractions and the length of your planned walks here, you will need the whole day to visit East MacDonnell Ranges.

What a beautiful piece of land and very remote! As the East MacDonnell Ranges are going away from Uluru it isn’t as much visited as the West MacDonnell Ranges but for sure at least as beautiful! If you prefer to be alone in a whole National Park and don’t want to see anybody except for your driving company, you are perfectly right at East MacDonnell Ranges! During the whole day, we visited the sites there, we just saw one single car on our way back to Alice Springs! Therefore, please be back to Alice Springs before dusk and tell somebody in advance that you are going to visit East MacDonnell Ranges that day.

Main attractions:

  • Rock Painting Emily GapRock Painting Emily Gap
  •  Emily Gap: A gap in the rock formations along the road with a waterhole after heavy rain. We couldn’t go swimming there but even dry it is fascinating! With Aboriginal rock paintings representing animals from the caterpillar trail associated with the story of the Aboriginal dreaming. During rainy season with heavy rain, it isn’t possible to excess the paintings.

 

Jessie Gap
Jessie Gap

  • Jessie Gap: Another gap with an Emu Aboriginal rock painting which is easy to access in dry season.
  • Corroboree Rock: A sacred place for Aborigines as the different tribes met at this rock to change their stories and knowledge. There is a 15-min walk around the rock with explanation along the way. If you are lucky you could see a big reptile which could get up to 2,5 meters!!! They state that you shouldn’t be scared as the reptile won’t hurt you or anything. However, I was happy that I didn’t encounter one. ^^ Please don’t climb the rocks as for the Aboriginal people those rocks are like a church for other religions. And who would climb the altar?  
  • Trephina Gorge Nature Park: unsealed road easily accessible until the T-section where you either can follow the path towards John Hayes Rockhole or Trephina Gorge. Along the way easily accessible is the largest Ghost Gum Tree in the East MacDonnell Ranges which is about 300 years old.

Largest Ghost Gum Tree in the East MacDonnell Ranges
Largest Ghost Gum Tree in the East MacDonnell Ranges

  • John Hayes Rockhole is just accessible with a good and high 4WD! We went with our 4WD and it was alright. However, in case you aren’t an experiences 4WD driver, I wouldn’t recommend that route.

Rim Walk at Trephina Gorge Nature Park
Rim Walk at Trephina Gorge Nature Park

  • Trephina Gorge: Beautiful gorge with two possible walks to explore it:
    • Rim Walk which took me about 30 min return including stopping and taking pictures along the rim of the canyon and returning below on the riverbed (have a look before you leave if you can return there or if the gorge is full of water!). You also will encounter some waterholes along the way in the rocks where you could go swimming, so bring your bathing suite.
    • Easy River Bed Walk for 20 min return
    • It is also possible to visit the ghost town Arltunga or the Aboriginal site N’Dhala Gorge with rock paintings. However, you will need good driving skills and a high 4WD. For our car, the roads were too sandy and we could get stuck in the sand easily…so we decided to head back towards Alice Springs before we have to walk back to get some help. ^^ I would have loved to visit Arltunga as it was the first real settlement in Central Australia due to a gold rush. But as I usually say: “You always should leave something to come back for another visit.” ^^

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Day 3

Drive from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon via West MacDonnell Ranges and Mereenie Loop Road in a 4WD car. Most of the attractions in the West MacDonnell Ranges are just accessible by a 4WD car. Also, the Mereenie Loop Road is just recommended for 4WD cars. For more information on Mereenie Loop Road and the accommodation in Kings Canyon National Park, read my itinerary Day 7: http://sharejourneys.net/2017/07/12/outback-itinerary-australia-from-cairns-to-adelaide-in-2-weeks/8/

West MacDonnell Ranges (Tjoritja)

Red Centre Way
Red Centre Way

As we already did a day-trip to East MacDonnell Ranges the day before, we knew what we could expect of the water level in the gorges and waterholes. However, our expectations were even exceeded by the beauty of the stunning places of West MacDonnell Ranges (Tjoritja). I highly recommend to leave early that day and take your time bathing and relaxing in the waterholes. As this area of the Outback is pretty famous, you will find along the way a sign “Red Centre Way” with a map of the main attractions along the way.

Main attractions:  

  • Simpsons Gap (Rungutjirpa): A gap in the rock formation with beautiful reflections of the cliffs in the water; rock-wallabies jumping around the rocks and playing with each other – soooo cute!!!

 

Standley Chasm
Standley Chasm

  • Standley Chasm: privately owned, cost 15 $ per adult. It is a place of the Dreaming as it is a gap between the rocks due to a crack and river flowing through over years and years. You will find interpretive signs about the flora and fauna and the Chasm itself including a Dreaming story.
  • Ellery Creek Big Hole (Udepata): We got various recommendations from different people to go to Ellery Creek Big Hole, to swim in the cool water and enjoy the peaceful nature and the surrounding cliffs. When we arrived and swam there, it was even more beautiful than expected! I swam all the way to the end of the creek where the water gets too shallow to swim and I was completely alone there just with a lot of birds and their singing echoing from the walls… It isn’t recommended to go cliff jumping because there are big rocks underneath the water which you can’t see! So, please don’t jump from the cliffs as you might hit one of those rocks!

Ellery Creek Big Hole
Ellery Creek Big Hole

  • Serpentine Gorge: We didn’t go to Serpentine Gorge as the road condition was so bad that we were unsure if we would get back without any problems and decided to see one attraction less and enjoy another one for longer which was the case as we took our time to go swimming in Ormiston Gorge.

Ochre Pits in all their colors
Ochre Pits in all their colors

  • Ochre Pits: The Ochre Pits are shining in all kind of colors of the rainbow in the sunshine. Personally, I didn’t know how many different ochre colors exist! It is impressive and I can totally understand better now how Aborigines could paint and color their surroundings now.
  • Ormiston GorgeOrmiston Gorge
  • Ormiston Gorge: A stunning gorge surrounded by mountains which gives you a spectacular atmosphere and while swimming in this waterhole you will feel like you just entered paradise. I nearly enjoyed swimming in the waterhole of Serpentine Gorge more than in Ellery Creek Big Hole.

  • Glen Helen Gorge: Here you can find a bit more infrastructure with a nice restaurant to eat delicious lunch or get a relaxing cup of tea in the afternoon. Moreover, next to fuel your body with energy, you can refill your petrol as well. It is a nice gorge which you can access after following the signs walking along and through the river, reaching a nice waterhole where you can go swimming. There are some people staying at Glen Helen Gorge and continue their trip the next day. I probably would do this as well if I would have more time.

Glen Helen Gorge
Glen Helen Gorge

  • Redbank Gorge: We didn’t have time to visit Redbank Gorge as well as we still had to drive a couple of hours to get to Kings Canyon that day. I have heard from other travelers that it is worth it to visit Redbank Gorge. There are some people staying at Glen Helen Gorge and continue their trip the next day. I probably would do this as well if I would have more time.
  • Larapinta Trail: Larapinta Trail is a walking trek with a distance of 223 km following a path from Alice Springs to Mount Sonder along the West MacDonnell Ranges. In case you prefer walking and it isn’t too hot, I am sure, it is a wonderful trek. However, for those of you who like to enjoy beautiful scenery but can’t imagine walking in the Outback: you will be able to see most of the beautiful spots by car as well.

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Days 4, 5 and 6

As you probably got up early to do the Kings Canyon trekking, you still have enough time to drive from Kings Canyon (Watarraka National Park) to Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park (Ayers Rock and the Olgas) on day 4 during your trip which marks already half-time of the little Outback experience! For more information where to stay around Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park, read my complete Outback itinerary on Day 8, 9 and 10: http://sharejourneys.net/2017/07/12/outback-itinerary-australia-from-cairns-to-adelaide-in-2-weeks/9/

Main attractions Kings Canyon (Watarraka) National Park:

  • Rim Walk: Track closes at 9 am on days where at least 36°C are expected. It is a 6 km loop including the South Wall Walk and takes about 3,5 hours. The best time to go on the Rim Walk is just before sunrise, so that you can relax on top of the rim, watch the sun rising and how the surrounding canyon stones start to “wake up”, light up and to glow in the morning sun. What an unforgettable experience! This track is for fit, experienced hikers at it starts with a steep climb up to the rim but once you are up there, it is an easier walk with amazing views of the canyon, the flat surroundings and the cliffs. Along the way, you will find explanation signs for the stones geology, how the stones were once at sea level and about the vegetation. You will have the opportunity to go further out to stunning lookouts, you will pass by eroded domes which by the Dreaming shall be warriors and therefore it is the “Lost City”. Half-way you will enjoy the cold shadows of “Garden of Eden” down in the canyon where you can have a break at the water.

Kings Canyon Rim Walk
Kings Canyon Rim Walk

  • South Wall Return Walk: Track closes at 11 am on days of at least 36°C; 4,8 km return which is trekking about 2 hours return. In case you don’t have so much time, or don’t want to walk the whole Rim walk, you should do at least the South Wall Return Walk. However, I preferred the first part than the South Wall Walk…it could be as well, as the sun was already higher and the stones looked all the same after a while…you still will have the possibility to see a great view of the Northern wall of Kings Canyon and a great view of the landscape though!

South Wall Return Walk
South Wall Return Walk

  • Kings Creek Walk: 1,5 km, 45 min return. On the River Bed Walk you don’t have the stunning views from above the canyon but it is easier for people who can’t walk so much anymore.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park

Park Entry: 3-day pass 25$ per adult; annual 32 $ per adult; NT residents annual 65 $ per vehicle; entrance ticket available at park gate including a brochure of the park with the main information about the walks and viewing points; Open daily:

        • Dec, Jan, Feb 5 am – 9 pm
        • March 5:30 am – 8:30 pm
        • April 5:30 am – 8 pm
        • May 6 am – 7:30 pm
        • June, July 6:30 am – 7:30 pm
        • Aug 6 am – 7:30 pm
        • Sept 5:30 am – 7:30 pm
        • Oct 5 am – 8 pm
        • Nov 5 am – 8:30 pm

What a magical place! If you don’t believe in God or another higher creature, you might start to overthink your opinion here in this sacred place! Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park is a World Heritage Area where the traditional owner Anangu people and the Australian federal government work together to protect this special place and open it to the public. I loved to be able to experience this magical place, however, I am unsure if it was right to go there considering Anungu people and their believes. I think it should be theirs to live in and not to just be looked at and taken photos of…Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park offers everything for Anungu people to live in for about 22.000 years and in the last 40 years they can’t live there anymore because the white man claimed it to look at it?!

At Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and its surroundings you will have the opportunity at night to see a clear sky full of stars and you can see a lot of shooting stars. As I learned at the free tour of the astronomer at Astro Hub, shooting stars are often just as big as a rice corn scratching the atmosphere of our earth. Impressive what an impact an object of the size of a rice corn can have! Imagine what you and I could produce then!!! However, while I was there, it was time of the full moon, so the stars where not as perfect to see as other days, but I was lucky enough that one night the full moon rose just next to Uluru in a dark orange color. A very special and spiritual moment. The following day it was just in front of us for our 100-km driving towards Curtain Springs. Stunning as well!

Use the time to explore Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park from the opening hour (details opening hours see above) just before sunrise till about 14 pm. Then it gets way too hot during summer, so relax at the swimming pool in the resort, read a great book or plan your further trip. In the evening cook your dinner and bring it along back into the national park and eat it while enjoying the stunning sunsets at Uluru or Kata Tjuta!

You will need your mosquito net in most areas of the park, as the flies can become pretty annoying flying directly into your ears, nose or eyes! So, just buy yourself one before entering the national park (best spot at Alice Springs as it is cheaper).

FREE activities in Yulara or Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park:

The information center at the town square of Yulara offers great information! Pick up the sheet for FREE activities around Yulara Resort and Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park. There are very interesting tours for FREE! Otherwise, you can pay a lot of money for very touristy tours! At the information center is also FREE WIFI.

  • Wintjiri Arts & Museum: open daily 8:30 am – 5 pm; Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian artists get a display for a month at a time to exhibit and sell their beautiful art in this museum.
  • Capturing the Cosmos: at Wintjiri Arts & Museum, daily 2 pm – 3 pm; A very informative movie “Capturing the Cosmos” from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO). As I am very interested in astronomy, I loved the documentary about the research on dark energy and the latest technology to explore it used in Australia. Afterwards you can ask all your upcoming questions to a resident astronomer. What a blast!
  • Ecology & Museum Tour: at Wintjiri Arts & Museum, daily 3 pm – 4 pm; An Aboriginal guide will narrate native stories about the surrounding Anangu land, Aboriginal culture and the unique fauna and animals of Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park. Great stories and informative to see the surrounding nature from another point of view.
  • Mala Walk, daily 8 am during summer or 10 am during winter departing from Mala Car Park; 2 km return, 1,5 hours. A spectacular 2-hour FREE guided tour of an Aboriginal guide walking along the Mala Walk narrating the historical stories of Mala people, showing the meanings of Aboriginal Rock Art and explaining the struggle of Aboriginal people in the surrounding. It is eye-opening and if you haven’t already, you will start to think about it at least from this point on, if the Western culture and school system is the best for everybody…or if we just should leave some cultures do their best by not interfering…we destroy our world and nature every minute, for Aboriginal people their land is holy and they care so much about it! They do everything for it and if we wouldn’t interfere it would stay in the same beauty as we have found it 100 years ago…however, the way it is now, will it still last for our grandchildren to see?
    • Kitchen cave with the areas where the Aboriginal people graded the bread; sharpened their spears

Kitchen Cave on Mala Walk
Kitchen Cave on Mala Walk

  • Aboriginal teaching cave with Rock paintings of many generations explaining the young boys the surrounding land, where to find animals, the different animal tracks and plants

Aboriginal teaching cave with Rock paintings on Mala Walk
Aboriginal teaching cave with Rock paintings on Mala Walk

  • Problem of Aboriginal workers at Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park: just 7 Aboriginal workers out of 30 in the National Park – as they often can’t write because they didn’t learn it at school or don’t have the necessary “proper” degree to be employed by the government
  • Just 40/50 years ago the transformation started that Aboriginal people around Uluru couldn’t be hunter and gatherer anymore. It is a slow process for them to change, a big problem is the language barrier as well and the conflict between their own culture and the Western style of living – where to choose from and what is best for themselves?!
  • Culture Center; in Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park near Uluru; open daily 7 am – 6 pm; the Culture Center is a great opportunity to learn more about Aboriginal struggle while watching the movie at the center. It shows how everything started some years ago and it presents some crazy habits of white people as well – they often don’t experience a place…they just come, take a picture and leave again…the documentary is placed some years ago when the main focus of Uluru was climbing it and then leave again. They look like little ants climbing up and down the very steep and dangerous paths of Uluru. Why don’t we (I do the same sometimes, I know that!) take our time to meet the local people and understand their culture? I try to do that but sometimes especially language barriers keep me away from it…However, we all should respect each other, protect our nature, our planet earth and live peacefully together.
  • The whole Culture Center is a place where you can listen, read, learn and understand. So please respect Anungu culture and don’t take photos. Take everything in and just remember this special place! The Anungu learn from stories, so why don’t we try to do the same?!

Other FREE possibilities, I didn’t do:

  • Climbing Uluru: It is a big question of climbing the rock. The Aboriginal people are against it because it is a sacred place to them and would you climb an altar in a church? The Australian Park authorities are against it because by now already 36 people died due to the attempt to climb Uluru. So why risk your life for it? If so many people are against it, there are reasons for it and I think you should respect it and not climb Uluru.
  • Dot painting course: at Yulara Town Square. Unfortunately, it didn’t take place in February while I visited due to extreme heat. Next time, I am back, I really would like to learn it.

Around Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Uluru, the big rock in the middle of nowhere, the flat outback where nothing is around and then this immense red-brown rock rises up to the sky! It is magical, so you should try to experience it, listen to its story and understand the culture of Anangu instead of just taking a picture with it….there are several sensitive sites which aren’t allowed to be photographed anyway. They are sacred places in Anangu culture and they don’t want to disgrace those places by having photos everywhere. When you get handed out a map those places are surrounded by black spots.

Start your day with an impressive sunrise at Talinguru Nyakunytjaku Viewing area, see how Uluru awakens in the morning sun, how it gets alive in its bright orange!

Sunrise at Talinguru Nyakunytjaku Viewing area
Sunrise at Talinguru Nyakunytjaku Viewing area

Then eat your breakfast at the picnic area here and with your stomach filled head over to Mala carpark for the guided 2-hour Mala Walk (see above). Afterwards you can continue to do the Base Walk all around Uluru for 10,6 km, 3-5 hours. You will have drinking water taps along the way. The Base Walk was a long walk around Uluru where not so much of the surroundings changed and in the heat, it got rough. Therefore, the Base Walk gets closed in the North at 11 am and in the South at 14 pm. If I would have to choose between the Base Walk and Valley of the Winds Walk at Kata Tjuta, I would always choose Kata Tjuta and just do the shorter walks at Uluru like:

  • Mala Walk (preferred as FREE 2-hour guided tour with Aboriginal guide, see above)
  • Kuniya Walk: 1 km return, 30 mins return. You will get to know the story of the powerful snake woman Kuniya and her nephew. You can also visit a family cave where an Anunga family lived for thousands of years and their rock paintings and at the end of the short walk you will arrive at a holy waterhole where a rainbow serpent is supposed to live in.

Best sunset point for watching the sunset at Uluru is Uluru Sunset Viewing Area.

Sunset at Uluru from Uluru Sunset Viewing Area
Sunset at Uluru from Uluru Sunset Viewing Area

Around Kata Tjuta (Round heads, the Olgas)

While I visited Kata Tjuta for the first time, there was a big thunder storm going on. One of the closest lightnings I have ever experienced went down just in front of us next to Kata Tjuta! The incredible loud noise still shattered in my ear some minutes later! Nature is just incredible and shows you how small you are as a human being – especially here at Uluru – Kata Tjuta-National Park!

Before heading off to Valley of the Winds Walk, enjoy the sunrise from Kata Tjuta Dune Viewing. From here you can see the majestic Kata Tjuta and in the far background Uluru as a silhouette as well. Amazing sunrise, however I preferred the sunrise and sunset at Uluru as it is calmer, and provoked more peace within me. After the beautiful sunrise, get to the Sunset Viewing point to eat your breakfast and for a last chance of a toilet before heading off for your walks at Kata Tjuta.

Sunrise Kata Tjuta Dune Vi
Sunrise Kata Tjuta Dune Vi

Bring your mosquito net, proper shoes and a lot of water. Otherwise, you can’t enjoy the walk with flies trying to get into your ears, nose and eyes…there are drinking water taps to fill up your bottle along the way as well.

  • Valley of the Winds Walk: long walk of 7,4 km, walking about 4 hours for the full circuit. The full circuit closes at Karu Lookout at 11 am if the weather preview shows a temperature of at least 36°C that day or due to strong wind or rain. However, the walking track to Karu Lookout (2,2 km return, 1 hour) is open throughout the day in case it isn’t raining. The terrain is rough, has a lot of loose stones and you shouldn’t underestimate the wind and weather conditions. Especially in the summer heat the track from Karingana Lookout back to Karu Lookout anti-clockwise can be pretty long but stunning surroundings at the same time! We agreed that we preferred the Valley of the Winds walk to the Base Walk around Uluru. It has stunning lookouts, it differs in the nature around you, you climb up some parts of Kata Tjuta and walk the stone paths back down, through beautiful valley paths there are wild animals all around you! If you are as lucky as my travel mate, you will be “nearly jumped over” by a big red kangaroo which inhabits that area. Impressive animals! Touch the special grass which just grows in the stone area of Kata Tjuta or build a stone pile along the way to protect that path and all the following traveler after you! I build one just before Karingana Lookout anti-clockwise of the circuit on the left-hand side with a small stone shoe on top, so that all the travelers are kept safe along the path. Enjoy your walk and listen to the nature. My travel mate did the walk while listening to music. I listened to the wind blowing in the trees, the valley, the stones and grass, the different birds, the grass hoppers and all the other animals around me. Nature is never quiet but tells you a story of its long history! Listen and you can learn.
  • You can follow the circuit clockwise or anti-clockwise. Just follow the blue arrows along the very well-marked path. I decided on the anti-clockwise circuit because the first path is more difficult and I wanted to be full of strength for the climbing up and down those rocks.

Kitchen Cave on Mala Walk
Kitchen Cave on Mala Walk

Valley of the Winds Walk
Valley of the Winds Walk

  • Walpa Gorge Walk: short walk of 2,6 km return, walking about 1 hour. Nice walk through a gorge. I wouldn’t recommend to walk there while it is raining as the stones can be very slippery and the water rises high. Difficult for you to walk around. A beautiful view from inside the gorge in direction back to the car park. Bring your mosquito net and proper shoes!After the Walpa Gorge walk, you can enjoy the sunset at Sunset Viewing Kata Tjuta where you also can enjoy your dinner with a breathtaking background! Watch, listen to the nature and enjoy! However, be aware of the flies and ants! Bring your mosquito net and proper shoes. Otherwise, you can’t enjoy the sunset with flies trying to get into your ear, nose and eyes or ants biting you in your feet and legs…

Sunset at Sunset Viewing Kata Tjuta
Sunset at Sunset Viewing Kata Tjuta

 

Day 7

Drive yourself back to Alice Springs and if you still have time before your plane is going out of the Outback, enjoy the rest of the city which you haven’t seen on your first day (recommendations Day 1).

Sunset view in Alice Springs from ANZAC Lookout
Sunset view in Alice Springs from ANZAC Lookout

Leia este post em português aqui:

Pequena Experiência no Outback: Alice Springs, MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon e Uluru-Kata Tjuta-National Park


Outback itinerary (Austrália): from Cairns to Adelaide in two weeks

Introduction

I drove from Cairns to Adelaide in two weeks. Of course, you can do the same route just the other way around. You also can take more time. If you complete the same route, you will drive at least 5.000 km in two weeks, so I wouldn’t recommend to go for less than 14 days. Because otherwise it will be tough to drive your needed kilometers and still have some relaxed days with not so much driving and more sightseeing.

In the picture below you can see the main route which I did. I started in Cairns -> Undara Volcanic National Park -> Karumba -> Mount Isa -> Tennant Creek -> Alice Springs -> Kings Canyon -> Uluru & Kata Tjuta National Park -> Coober Pedy -> Port Augusta.

In this post, I will write about the two weeks itinerary in general and in following ones I will give more information about important places. Continue reading Outback itinerary (Austrália): from Cairns to Adelaide in two weeks


Australia: Prepare your perfect Outback tour

Since I was 10 years old, one of my dreams was to go to Australia to cross the Outback in my own car. I don’t remember exactly anymore why and how it started but the thoughts were always there… I still can’t believe that I finally fulfilled that dream! I spent two weeks in the Outback and it was an epic experience that I would do again whenever somebody would ask me to join. I loved every single minute of it and I am so happy that I did it. I had to plan a couple of things and want to share my experiences with you here:

My car, Howi, in the Painted Desert
My car, Howi, in the Painted Desert

Continue reading Australia: Prepare your perfect Outback tour


People Make the Difference

I left Germany on 19th October 2016 with luggage of about 15 kg and eight months later on 11th June 2017 I came back with 18 kg. It didn’t change a lot as I didn’t buy many things during my trip crossing nine countries. However, I brought a lot of memories with me.

Before I left Berlin, I knew I would learn something about myself travelling alone for months. Nevertheless, I didn’t just get to know myself better, but I see the world different. Mostly not because of the places I have visited but because of the conversations I had with the people of the different cultures. In my very first post of my series Worldlust (Travelling alone for 6 months) I already said “Deep within myself, I felt that for me it is more important to talk to people in person, to share special moments with them than to see a nice panorama or do something spectacular.” I want to thank each and every one of you who changed my trip to the most amazing journey of my lifetime. I want to thank all of you for the laughter, tears (happy or sad), interesting conversations we shared and all the great moments we had together! I want to share some examples of the things I have learned from all of you.

Alper. An honest hug from a person you know can help in the darkest hour – thank you.

Anastasia
Anastasia

Anastasia. Love and accept yourself for who you are and enjoy the life you have, no matter what.

Alvin
Alvin

Alvin. You will always look for your roots and try to figure out where you come from. Sometimes it needs a shock moment to wake you up and let you live the life you choose as the best one for yourself.

Mama Loca. Have fun during your work no matter what you are doing and the people will feel it and give joy back to you.

Ferdi. Muslim culture is incredible interesting and the basics are not different to any other religion. You should never give up on your dreams!

Leo Club Bali Shanti
Leo Club Bali Shanti

Leo Club Bali Shanti. There is no price for the laughter of orphans when you take your time to play with them.  

Meliana. With time passing you might change your mind – even about marriage. HHH Bali forever, on on on!

Wayan. Every living human or animal has a soul and we shall respect and cherish all of them.

Rafting-group Bali. You will always meet at least twice in your life, sometimes even on different islands.

Martin, Mount Batur
Martin, Mount Batur

Martin (left), Mount Batur. Small trips are better than none. Even in 100 different smaller travel tours you can get to know the world like in one big one. So, just take your time as you can.

Markus
Markus

Markus. Traveling the world and jet setting is not always fun. It can get very tiring as well.

Luke. Don’t give up your own dreams for somebody else – it can’t be worth it.

Ketut. Happy people who are playing barefoot with local children, smiling people who help out wherever they can, they do exist and one of them is Ketut, my savior!

Fifin. Some women in our world are not allowed to dress or live the lifestyle they would prefer. I wish that one day all men will understand that we are as human as they are.

Max and Anan. Max died 09 November 2016 on Mt. Rinjani, just a few hours after this picture was taken. Rest in peace.
Max and Anan. Max died 09 November 2016 on Mt. Rinjani, just a few hours after this picture was taken. Rest in peace.

Max (Ng Yin Teck). Death is coming sooner than you expect it – live life to the fullest! I want to encourage everyone to take a moment to think of what YOU want in your life and if you are working towards that goal right now. If not, please change your life. Because it can end in a second. Life is too short and too valuable to be wasted. Do more of what you love. Always live right here, right now – don’t wait for tomorrow. On our earth, we experience too many deaths because of all kind of different reasons. So, use your life to find your inner happiness and share it with as many people as you can!

Anan. We should be all one big family and help each other in need wherever we can. On our difficult long walk, you became my little brother forever!

Bayan. Take hard work one step at a time, just keep on getting forward and you will finally reach the finish line.

Noe. Sometimes there are no words needed. Just the presence of another human being can give you the strength to carry on. I can’t thank you enough for being there for me in my darkest moment of my life, Noe!

Florian. There are nights, you just can’t sleep and it helps to simply listen to the breath of somebody next to you to realize that you are still alive. Thank you for your unconditional presence in that very first night full of silence and emptiness inside myself, Flo!

Sue & Howard
Sue & Howard

Sue. Two girls (Tess & Elli) on four paws can be the best therapeutic running companions.

Josh. Everybody has a different perception of life goals.

Ariane & Asher. As much as taken life can hurt, as much can new born life bring joy. Welcome to this world Isac Nathan.

Howard. You don’t need to be The Tallest Man on Earth to be the greatest friend and best road trip companion – I will be forever grateful!

Jeff. Taking the time for someone who needs your help no matter what you are doing, that’s what really counts in life. Thank you so much!

Paul. Do what you love and you will be successful. Be happy with what you achieve, you just need to impressive yourself with your music and poetry. Nobody else can ever judge you for that! You are amazing regardless what anybody else would say.

Julie. You can’t get too old for physical activities. Just follow your dreams!

Scott. From the first plan to the final product is a long way… But once it is complete, never forget the beginning. Everything starts with one first idea.

Dean. We love people for who they are and not for who they think they might should be for us.

Nicole & Matt
Matt

Nicole & Matt. If you keep in contact, you will meet your friends once a year around the world. If you can’t manage to meet within Europe, you might end up meeting each other in Africa or Australia!

Daniel
Daniel

Daniel. You can try to turn your life upside down and express your emotions through music but in the end what really matters is to live the moment with people – even walking towards the beach with snake alert.

Zissi
Zissi

Zissi. The love of your family can heal your heart and soul. Sister-power forever!

Douglas. The ideas of participating in the Mongol Rally 2018 and traveling the mysterious country Iran are growing.

Pieter & Raewyn. Having an own house with a big farm full of animals like yours, is a dream and who knows, one day it might be reality.

Dor
Dor

Dor. Some people wear a scarf when it is cold, some people wear a cape when they want to have superpower and according to Dor, I wear a carpet and it looks ridiculous. Well, it seems that I never had a very established fashion style… ^^

Sam & Regan. While playing cards together you can learn so much about different cultures and laugh together till the fire burnt down in the fireplace.

Scott. Not everybody understands the hospitality of CouchSurfing…

Katha
Katha

Katha. If you are living and sharing the small space of a car for three weeks 24/7 and are still happy together – then you know, you are really good friends!

Wolfgang, the jungle man Tarzan. At your place in the middle of the rainforest I learned about the outdoors, an ecological healthy lifestyle and that living outside without any walls with the animals and plants is freedom. Our earth is beautiful and has so much to offer. So that it can stay that way an ecological lifestyle is necessary. Love, a bed with a mosquito net, a river for hydroenergy, a place to grow your own food and some leftovers to earn money from time to time is everything you need in life.

Carina. Better spend a penny more than not experiencing things in a place where you probably never will go back. Everybody brings us joy: Some people when we meet them and others when we can say goodbye.

Michelle & Wayan
Michelle & Wayne

Michelle. Having children, working hard and be full of joy and happiness is possible. You are an inspiration as a woman!

Wayne. Starting a new sport and participating in competitions is not a matter of age but a matter of focus and determination.

Nicole Ba. Not everybody is born to want kids. There is so much more in life to enjoy.

Ben. Learn things to do on your own so that you are more independent like fixing a bike. Also learning the rules of rugby and football is very helpful for small-talk with orthopedists. ^^

Prof. Martin Richardson. You are never done learning in life. What 10 things have you learned today?

Prof. Richard De Steiger. Take your time if you are operating on a patient, also if you do that operation already for the thousands time. Because every patient is different, it is always another life.

Mike & family. “To be disabled” is a label in our society which seems to bring more joy than a lot of us think…probably a lot of other people are “the disabled” ones for the lack of happiness.

Thach. Being friendly, smiling and kindness are universal. If you understand and use that universal language, you can communicate with everybody.

Surj
Surj

Surj. If your name is Surj, you might be born with superpower! You are impressive and there is nothing you can’t do like training at midnight after operating the whole day, operating for free, watching an Australian football game before operating again, right Audrey?

AJ. Somebody exists whom you confide your biggest secret after a few minutes of getting to know each other, with whom you have amazing conversations for hours without noticing the time passing, but at the same time don’t have any conversation at all because you don’t need to, with whom you laugh out loud, with whom you can be just you because that person will understand. You meet each other for a reason even though that sometimes you don’t know the purpose right away. The stars don’t create our future but they unite us and can lead us to where we want to get. Moreover, God can be everywhere, even in a drawing. You will have a very special place in my heart forever.

AJ
AJ
Lalo
Lalo

Lalo. Take a day off, explore your surroundings, meet people – just be.

Dr. Jason Chan. Usually there exist also unconventional ways than the straight way of studying to work in the field you want to.

Brian Devitt. Giving people the helping hand who want to learn from you is so important for our future generations.

Jason Harvey. Some people still can’t believe that women are capable of being surgeons…however, thank God that some doctors defend their female colleagues.

Prof. Juliane Feller. If you want to do medical research, you just need to start somewhere and then it might grow faster than you think.

Laura & Ryan
Laura & Ryan

Laura & Ryan. Sometimes it is unreal how coincidences happen and you listen the right radio channel just on time while you become a local “celebrity. ^^

Annie. From the outside, I can’t hide that I am a white girl, but I hope one day I will be recognized to be multicultural from the inside.

Youwen. Magic has no age limit.

Hong
Hong

Hong. Paying for your brother’s education and giving him a place to live is already something very unique. But welcoming a stranger to your home and making them part of your family, is something very special. Hong, you are an incredible good friend and when is the next time karaoke?

Pham Ngoc Quang. Unfortunately, not all countries can go traveling due to visa restrictions. I am very lucky with a German passport to be able to enter nearly all countries around the world without any problems. It is a privilege. I will try to help out wherever I can, so that all people who want to go traveling can fulfill their dreams.  

Doctors HCMC
Doctors HCMC

Doctors at Hospital for Traumatology & Orthopaedics in HCMC. Being a doctor is not about earning a lot of money but about a passion you have. I don’t have words to describe how impressed I am with the work of the doctors I have met in Vietnam. Every day, they find the strength to get up in the morning and to help hundreds of people in a sufficient way, I would love to establish in Germany. Although that they have less resources and a lot of them even work for free as volunteers for up to 5 years, they always try their best for the patients.  

Children HCMC
Children HCMC

Children at Hospital for Traumatology & Orthopaedics in HCMC. A small step is better than nothing as already a bottle of milk can make so many children smile.

Nicole Bobo
Nicole Bobo

Nicole Bobo. Best friends are there for each other – even if you are living on the other side of the world.

Zac. The Brazilian fever did not just invade my heart with all the love for the Brazilian culture and people. Even though we were losing a lot, we are still a great team!

Martin. From time to time you need to go dancing till the morning sun.

Philipp
Philipp

Mohammed, ääähm I mean Philipp ^^. Definitely eat scorpion and laugh for a long while in Thailand – hahahahahahahahahahaha

Adam. Don’t be too critical with yourself and smile every day for yourself and your friends around you. Life is just so precious!

Mati. With reggaetón comes so much joy and energy – let’s dance again!

Marta (left)
Marta (left)

Marta. Love it, that there are more crazy people like me out there, who prefer to travel and make their time to fulfill their dreams!

Fabian Eduardo. An inspiration how you can combine working, studying and caring for your family.

Luis. Take your time to meet friends even if you are a workaholic.

Larissa (@compviagens). Traveling around the world with fun, joy and happiness is so much easier and greater if you are around! Yes, a perfect couple with barely any arguments, enjoying traveling together 24 hours, open for any new ideas and different cultures does exist! Fred and Larissa, you are the perfect friends and part of my own family forever! <3 “Life is a journey” – Therefore, it doesn’t matter where you are, you are always traveling.

 Larissa & Fred
Larissa & Fred

Fred (who is so much more than just the driver!). Right here and right now life is beautiful, so it isn’t always necessary to reach higher and for better. If I could get just half of your discipline in getting up for work at 3 am in the morning, so that we can go sightseeing for the rest of the day, I would be able to succeed so much more in life. You are an inspiration for everybody.

Camila (@omelhormesdoano). For love you learn another language and move to another country, to be near each other and create a future together.

Lizz, Megan & Shoshana. You can’t decide where you are born but you can decide what you think about that country, how and where you want to live. Girls are having the same opinions about love all over the world.

Cris, Larissa, Fred e Gui
Cris, Larissa, Fred and Gui

Gui (@queroviajarmais). If you teach other people what you have learned, they will listen, learn and later on give it back to you and help you to get stronger.

Cris (@raizesdomundo). Even though you love and enjoy traveling, you need a place where you feel home.

Fabian Mauricio
Fabian Mauricio

Fabian Mauricio. The only dangerous thing about Colombia is to lose your heart to a Colombian. Your family is always going to be your family – no matter what!

Emanuelle. If you really want to and believe in it, you risk and do everything for love.

Davi & Marina
Davi & Marina

Davi. No matter how long you haven’t seen each other, for true friends the feelings and conversations are the same as where they ended last time.

Marina. You shine as bright as the stars when you have an honest laughter.

I am very grateful for all the things I have learned with you guys. You changed me to the person I am today. THANK YOU!

Your travel-lady,

Julie


Travel around New Zealand or Australia – in a car or a caravan?

I have travelled around New Zealand for 3500 km on the South Island in 2016/17 and for about the same km on the North Island in 2011. In Australia I am still travelling at the moment and I have been on the road for more than 5000 km and counting! I love to do road trips and get to know the country on my own terms with my own four wheels. Before I went to Australia and New Zealand, I asked myself the same question, you probably ask yourself now: shall I rent/ buy a car or a caravan? Both options have their positive and negatives sides. Here are some of the points I considered for deciding on one of the options:

Continue reading Travel around New Zealand or Australia – in a car or a caravan?


New Zealand – useful things to know before you go

New Zealand is one of my favorite countries I have visited so far! The nature is so incredibly diverse, behind every corner is a new amazing landscape, the people are very friendly and always helpful, the country is very rich in culture and it is easy to get around.

New Zealand is one of the British colonies where both languages are equal, the ancient Maori language and English. So, you will be warmly welcomed in NZ in two languages: Haere mai – Welcome!

As I said, New Zealand is rich in beautiful nature and great culture and they know how to preserve it! One of their main sentences is: “Tō tātou taiāo. Tō tātou hītori. He tāonga tūturu nō Aotearoa. Maioha rawatia. Poipoia rawatia. Tukua. –
Our nature. Our history. It’s New Zealand’s unique legacy. Enjoy it. Enrich it. Pass it on.”

Flower field next to Te Anau – Milford Sound Highway
Flower field next to Te Anau – Milford Sound Highway

I enjoyed this amazing country so much and now want to pass my experiences on to you guys! Continue reading New Zealand – useful things to know before you go