11 years ago this month, we set off for a years travelling, having spent what felt like forever (5yrs really) saving up and researching all the places we wanted to go to, all the things we wanted to see.
During the year, we travelled through America, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, Bali & Lombok, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Borneo, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka. We travelled by airy tuk tuks, overcrowded buses, underpowered motorbikes and overpowered boats in crocodile infested waters. We stayed in some unimaginably stunning locations with breathtaking views, in jungles, mountains and beaches, sometimes sharing the rooms with unimaginably creepy crawlies. We also stayed in some places we would still rather forget about……. but we can’t! Aaaargh! And eeeeugh!
Aside from that, it was an amazing experience. One that we often talk about doing something similar again, with our son. Loving the outdoors and wildlife as much as he does, I reckon there’d be no stopping him and he’d come up with the ultimate itinerary for our family travels. First thing’s first though, winning the lottery! 😉
Here are our favourite outdoors experiences and wildlife encounters from that year.
Yosemite & The Grand Canyon
We spent a couple of weeks roadtripping around a little teeny tiny bit of America from San Francisco to Las Vegas, stopping off at a few places in between.
From seeing orangutans at the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, to taking a 3 day wildlife tour along the Kinabatangan River, seeing crocodiles, probiscus monkeys, gibbons, kingfishers and long-tailed macaques who are really fast at swooping in and pinching your breakfast faster than a blink of the eye.
Torres del Paine trek, Chile
While most people from the bus headed for the shorter 3-4 day ‘W’ trek, we opted for trekking the full circuit, enjoying 8 days in this wonderful place. And it was incredible! We’ve heard it’s changed a lot in recent years with paths being more obvious and rickety wooden ladders being replaced with proper metal fixed ladders. We’ve also heard of more families doing the trek, something we’d love to do!
Oh, how New Zealand was one of our favourite countries to visit. Glow worm caves, Hobbiton, Milford Sound, the Moeraki boulder field, the Wanganui river trip, glaciers, Mount Cook, jet boating, whale spotting, it has everything!! One day we’ll head back there, one day….
We spent 6 weeks in Sri Lanka and fell in love with the place, the sights, the wildlife, the culture. Everyone was so lovely, offering us natural remedies for eye infections (coconut juice…) to taking us up the hills and letting us spend a few hours with their families when a tsunami warning was issued. We had plans to finish the trip in India before heading back home, but changed our flights so that we could spend what was left of our year away in Sri Lanka. What an ending it was.
Snorkelling at the Gili Islands off Lombok
We flew in to Bali and wasted no time jumping on a ferry to Lombok, before getting on to a smaller boat headed towards the Gili Islands. There were no roads built, but the islands are small so really easy to walk round, especially in the early morning or late evening when it was a bit cooler. The snorkelling was amazing, so much sealife and colour and friendly neighbourhood turtles.
We decided to visit Iguazu Falls from both the Argentinian side and the Brazilian side. The waterfalls were immense, just as gorgeous as they look in all the pictures in the guidebooks. The noise from them was deafening but they were beautiful! We got soaked and the spiders we found were huge and freaky, which helped us walk around that bit faster!
We hired a car on the Valdes Peninsula and travelled down the coast a bit, stopping off at a few different beaches for different reasons. First up was where killer whales beached themselves to snatch up seals for a little snack. It was a bit windy so we didn’t see that happen. We then headed to Punto Tumbo to see Magellenic penguins, all supposed 400, 000 of them.
Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina
We visited several glaciers in Patagonia and New Zealand. One of the easiest to get to and supposedly most photogenic is this one, where you can often see massive blocks of ice falling off and come crashing down with a big splash! Glacier Gray in the Torres del Paine was more special to us though, as we spent a few days walking alongside it.
Huacachina sand dunes, Peru
A couple of hours south of Lima Huacachina, famous for sandboarding and dune buggy riding.
A lovely little mountain town giving access to the high Andes. We did a few day walks from here and spent an overnight at 4500m. Apparently altitude doesn’t agree with us desperately well, we didn’t like the freaky dreams!! But the views were awesome!!
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
We spent a few days here before our flight to Peru, boat-hopping along to various places along the Lake, each with their own feel to it; English pubs, yoga retreats, clouds of smoke from the cooking fires, and erm ,other sources
Ruins, beaches, rum and coke, paradise views from our beach-front shack. Of course this made it on our list!
Machu Picchu, Peru
A few days spent in Cusco before heading towards Aguas Caliente and the infamous Machu Picchu ruins, exploring the area towards the Sun Gate and the Inca Bridge.
Lake Titicaca, Peru
A boat trip to the Uros Islands, made entirely of reeds which float. We visited an island that was in 18m of water but was only 2m thick, which meant it was possible for the islanders to raise the anchor and move to a different area if they didn’t like the view. The houses are even made of reeds and takes only 4 people to life them up.
We spent Xmas and New Years in the north of Chile, before heading south towards Santiago. We hired a car and headed to the coast, stopping off at this amazing, isolated beach in the middle of nowhere with no one around…. a wonderful way to ring in the New Year.
We spent a few weeks in Cambodia before heading to Vietnam. A lot of other travellers were going on about the two, how Vietnam was so much better than Cambodia, everyone was so much nicer etc but we found it the other way around! We loved our time in Cambodia! We visited a lot of ruins like Angkor Wat and Bayon.
Palenque will always be remembered for beautiful waterfalls, gigantic spiders, huge frogs, and a few ruins.
You can see more of the pictures and read more about what we got up to over on our travelblog here
Where has been your favourite outdoor experience? Let us know!