GlobeRovers Magazine (Dec 2019)

globeroversmagazine

In this 14th issue (Dec 2019) of GlobeRovers Magazine, the feature destination is Japan. We travel through Japan during the most beautiful season of the year - winter. The Japanese winter wonderland offers so much excitement - hot springs, ski resorts, snow hotels and much more.



VOL. 7 · NO. 2, December 2019

Journal of Globerovers Productions · GR

GlobeRovers

Feature Article

10 Japan - A Winter Wonderland

Winter is the most beautiful month of the year if you are blessed with heavy snowfalls. There are few

natural landscapes more splendid than walking through a snow-covered forest; relaxing in a natural hot

spring while snow is falling around you; or skiing down a snow-covered mountain. One of the best places

in the world to enjoy winter is Japan. Not only does it offer pristine natural scenery with lots of snow,

it also offers a colourful culture and great food that will make any winter escapade memorable for life.

ARTICLES + PHOTO ESSAYS

REGULAR SECTIONS

42

Albania’s Riviera on the Ionian Sea

Described as having “turquoise seas,

scenic mountain backdrops and sparkling

shores” southern Albania is known as the

“Albanian Riviera” for many good reasons.

58

138

144

SPECIAL FEATURES

Sensible Travel Gear

Tasty Traveller’s Treats

Postcards to Mommy

60

82

Svalbard - Gateway to the North Pole

The Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic

Ocean is gateway to the North Pole and

therefore ideal for adventurers wanting to

see polar bears and the Northern Lights.

Mauritius - Indian Ocean Island (Part 2)

Located west of Madagascar, Mauritius is

known for its turquoise seas, black volcanic

rocks, palm trees, sugar cane fields

and craggy mountain peaks.

78

120

136

142

148

152

CONTRIBUTIONS

The Earth is calling us to Action

South Australian Outback

Canada’s Fort Resolution

Volunteering - To pay or not to pay

Traveller in the Spotlight

Book Review

96

108

126

Oman - Gem of the Arabian Peninsula

As one of the most stable and safe countries

for travellers in the Middle East,

Oman has incredible natural scenery and

culture to offer intrepid travellers.

Colombia - Caribbean Adventures

Colombia’s Caribbean coastline is home

to unspoiled islands, deserted beaches,

a well preserved colonial town, ancient

ruins, and even a bubbling mud volcano.

Corcovado Jungle Trekking - Costa Rica

On a remote peninsula along the Pacific

West Coast of Costa Rica is Corcovado

National Park, known for its countless

species of living creatures.

Skiing among the Juhyou frosted

trees. Zao Onsen, Japan

38

76

124

155

TOP LISTS

10 Winter Activities in Japan

10 Experiences on Svalbard

9 Intrepid Places to visit in 2020

IN THE NEXT ISSUE

Cambodia Island Hopping

The Cambodian islands in the Gulf of

Thailand have long been ignored by most

travellers who flock to neighbouring Thailand.

These islands are known for their

lapis-blue waters, jungle-clad interiors,

swathes of white sand, and bioluminescent

plankton that glows at night.

1


2 Globerovers · December 2019

21/11/19-A


Editor‛s Message

“Not all those who wander are lost”. J.R.R. Tolkien

John Tolkien (3 Jan 1892 – 2 Sep 1973), an English writer, poet, philologist,

university professor, and author of ‘The Hobbit’, and ‘Lord of the Rings’.

THE FRONT COVER:

“Snow Monsters” of Zao, Japan

Globerovers Magazine

is currently a biannual magazine, available

in digital and printed formats.

We focus on bringing exciting destinations

and inspiring photography from around

the globe to the intrepid traveller.

Published in Hong Kong

Printed in U.S.A. and Europe

WHO WE ARE:

Editor-in-Chief - Peter Steyn

Editorial Director - Tsui Chi Ho

Graphic Designer - Peter Steyn

Photographer & Writer - Peter Steyn

Proofreader - Marion Halliday

Advertising - Lizzy Chitlom

Distribution - Leon Ringwell

FOLLOW US:

www.globerovers-magazine.com

www.globerovers.com

facebook.com/GloberoversMag

pinterest.com/Globerovers

twitter.com/Globerovers

instagram.com/GloberoversMag

CONTACT US:

editor@globerovers.com

Dear Readers,

In this 14th issue of Globerovers Magazine, we are pleased to bring you a variety of

exciting destinations for your reading enjoyment.

The feature destination is Japan. While any time is a good time to visit Japan, we

found the winter scenery to be picturesque beyond our imagination. We start our

adventure in northern Honshu Island at the Zao Onsen and Ski Resort where we

also meet the “Snow Monsters”. From here we travel north to meet Princess Tatsuko

at Lake Tazawako. We then cross the sea to Hokkaido Island where we spend time

with tancho cranes at the Kushiro Marshes and whooper swans at Lake Kussharo.

We also go polar bear spotting by dogsled on the arctic Svalbard Islands and then

travel along Colombia’s Caribbean coast to take a bath in a mud volcano. Afterwards

we search for the region’s most tranquil sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Mauritius

(Part 2) offers more travel advice from this idyllic Indian Ocean island.

Photo Essays include the Albanian Riviera, Oman on the Arabian Peninsula, and

Costa Rica’s remote Corcovado National Park.

We also have our regular contributions from Canada and Australia, a guide to

volunteering, and an article about the negative effects of mass tourism.

A special thank you to our sponsors as well as all our

wonderful contributors who we introduce on page 5.

Visit our website and social media. For easy access, scan

the QR codes on page 7.

Feedback to editor@globerovers.com.

I travel so you can see the world!

Peter Steyn, PhD

Editor-in-Chief and Publisher

Copyright © 2013-2019. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any part of this magazine

is strictly prohibited without the prior written approval of the publisher. The publisher

does not take responsibility for any potential inaccurate information herein.

THE FRONT COVER

“Snow monsters” of Zao

Known as “snow monsters”, the trees on Mount Zao take on

mystifying shapes during the coldest part of the winter.

3


4 Globerovers · December 2019


Thanks to our Contributors

In this issue

CONTRIBUTORS

All words and photos by Peter Steyn, except where otherwise indicated. A very special thank you to our

awesome contributors in this issue. Without you, Globerovers Magazine just wouldnʼt be the same!

Fuchsia Sims, Sydney, Australia (page 78)

Fuchsia is co-founder of the Adventure Junky App - Earths Sustainable Travel Game. Helping

you make responsible travel achievable and fun by awarding you points for completing or contributing

low-impact experiences and showcasing destinations and travel operators that offer them.

Janet-Lynn Vorster, Cape Town, South Africa (page 82)

Janet is a numerologist by profession, and journalist, editor and photographer by hobby. She is

the proud mother of three grown children and granny to three grandchildren. Janet is the Southern

African editor for Globerovers Magazine.

Marion Halliday, Adelaide, South Australia (page 120)

Marion is “Red Nomad OZ”, author, blogger and Aussie traveller who loves discovering naturebased

attractions and activities – and scenic loos – all over Australia. Her Aussie travel blog and

published book “Aussie Loos with Views” provide inspiration for other Aussie explorers.

Yrene Dee, Lumby, BC, Canada (Page 136)

Yrene is the founder of BackcountryCanadaTravel.com. She was born in Switzerland, lived and

worked on different continents and travelled the world before she settled in Canada. She is an

entrepreneur, wilderness nut, and animal lover who prefers off-the-beaten-track places.

Claire Bennett, Kathmandu, Nepal (page 142)

Claire lives and works in Kathmandu, Nepal, and freelances as a trainer and consultant. She is

passionate about global education, ethical travel and ensuring good intentions are put to good

use. She is co-author of Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad.

João Leitão (page 148)

João is a travel blogger who writes about journeys into more than 130 countries across Africa, Antarctica,

Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. A Portuguese expat living in Morocco since 2006,

João loves to indulge into other cultures and learn about their languages and traditional values.

Adam Rogers, New York, USA (page 152)

Adam is a peripatetic writer and explorer who has been on the road for most of the past 40

years. He is the author of numerous books including The Intrepid Traveler, Taking Action, The

Earth Summit and The No Mammal Manifesto: Diet for a new and more sustainable world.

5


The Globerovers‛ World

Globerovers Magazine was created by Peter Steyn, an avid explorer who is constantly in search of the

edge of the world. He will always hike the extra mile or ten to get as far off the beaten track as he can.

It is his mission to discover and present the most exciting destinations for intrepid travellers. He has

visited 122 countries (including territories: Greenland, Hong Kong, Macau) and is poised to explore

Siberia (Russia) and Mongolia in the near future. Peter’s home is wherever he lays down his cameras.

Afghanistan

Albania

Andorra

Argentina

Armenia

Australia

Austria

Azerbaijan

Bahrain

Bangladesh

Belarus

Belgium

Belize

Bolivia

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Brazil

Brunei

Bulgaria

Cambodia

Canada

Chile

China

Colombia

Costa Rica

Croatia

Cuba

Cyprus

Czech Rep.

Denmark

Ecuador

Egypt

El Salvador

Estonia

Finland

France

Georgia

Germany

Greece

Greenland

Guatemala

Honduras

Hong Kong

Hungary

Iceland

India

Indonesia

Iran

Ireland

Israel

Italy

Japan

Jordan

Kazakhstan

Kosovo

Kyrgyzstan

Laos

Latvia

Lebanon

Lesotho

Liechtenstein

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Macau

Macedonia

Malaysia

Maldives

Malta

Mauritius

Mexico

Moldova

Monaco

Montenegro

Morocco

Myanmar / Burma

Namibia

Nepal

Netherlands

New Zealand

Nicaragua

North Korea

Norway

Oman

Pakistan

Panama

Papua New Guinea

Paraguay

Peru

Philippines

Poland

Portugal

Romania

Russia

San Marino

Serbia

Singapore

Slovakia

Slovenia

South Africa

South Korea

Spain

Sri Lanka

Swaziland

Sweden

Switzerland

Syria

Taiwan

Tajikistan

Thailand

Timor Leste (East Timor)

Turkey

Ukraine

United Arab Emirates

United Kingdom

United States

Uruguay

Uzbekistan

Vanuatu

Vatican

Vietnam

Yemen

Zambia

Zimbabwe

122 and counting...

6 Globerovers · December 2019


Follow

us....

Don’t hesitate to follow us to some incredible

destinations. You will never be sorry you did!

Use a QR reader

on your smart phone

facebook.com/GloberoversMag

pinterest.com/globerovers

twitter.com/globerovers

globerovers-magazine.com

Scan this code for a

FREE download of GlobeRovers app

Apple Store

Google Play

globerovers.com

Or search for “Globerovers” in your app store

7


DESTINATIONS

IN THIS ISSUE

CANADA

Page 136

ALBANIA

Page 42

COSTA RICA

Page 126

COLOMBIA

Page 108

Use a QR reader on your

phone to read these codes

8 Globerovers · December 2019


SVALBARD ISLANDS

Page 60

OMAN

Page 96

JAPAN

Page 10

AUSTRALIA

Page 120

MAURITIUS

Page 82

9


Feature Article

Japan

The “Snow Monsters” of Zao more closely resemble humans than monsters.

The juhyo (ice trees) around the peak of the Zao Ski Resort are

created during the coldest part of the winter on evergreen conifer trees

such as Japanese red pines, white fir, blue spruce, and red cedars.

The best time to see them is from early January to early March.

10 Globerovers · December 2019


JAPAN

A WINTER WONDERLAND

While any time is a good time to explore the beauty of Japan, winter months are truly special.

Nothing better for mind and spirit than watching the soft snow falling while sipping on hot sake wine.

Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity

chef, author, and popular travel

documentarian who took his own

life in 2018, once said: “Japan

is endlessly interesting to me. After going on

nine filming trips there, I don’t think I’ve even

scratched the surface and I don’t think I ever will”.

He was especially fond of the food in Japan and

proclaimed: “If I had to eat only in one city for the

rest of my life, Tokyo would be it”.

Most travellers who have been to Japan will

agree that Japan has more to offer than one

person can experience in a lifetime. I personally

have been to Japan numerous times and I too still

feel that I have not

scratched the surface.

In addition to the beautiful natural snow-covered

scenery in winter, Japan’s culture smoothly intertwines

with this special time of the year.

While the Japanese

archipelago consists

of 6,852 islands,

roughly arranged in

the shape of a dragon, its total land area is 377,973

km² - a large area to explore. Being a long skinny

country stretching from the southernmost island

of Okinotori in the Philippine Sea all the way up

to the northern tip of Hokkaido Island near Russia’s

Sakhalin Island, the distance - as the crow flies

- is approximately 2,840 kilometres (1,765 mi).

However, the uninterrupted drivable distance

from the southern end of Kyushu Island to the

northern tip of Hokkaido Island is about 2,780

kilometres (1,727 mi).

The first challenging decision when planning

a trip to Japan is the choice of season as Japan has

four very well defined seasons: Spring is time for

the famous cherry blossoms (locally known as

sakura), the season for which Japan is most well

known. Summers are hot with lush-green landscapes,

while in autumn, Japan’s trees and shrubs

explode in colours of yellow, orange, red, purple

and all shades in between. During winter, much

of Japan turns into an idyllic winter wonderland.

Every season is a good season to visit Japan.

Summers are great for festivals and fireworks,

though it can get quite hot and humid. Spring and

autumn are arguably the most pleasant seasons,

while winter is the most exciting with all the

winter-sports, steaming hot springs (locally known

as onsen), snow and ice festivals, rare wildlife,

illuminated villages, and don’t forget the hot Japanese

rice wine (locally

known as sake) on

cold winter nights.

If you want to

experience the beauty

of the cherry blossoms,

then visit during March and April. The

peak period for the blossoms is mid to late March

on Kyushu and mid to late April on Hokkaido.

If you are more interested in the vibrant glowing

orange and red colours of autumn, then visit

between late October in the north all the way to

mid-December in the south. Autumn first arrives

in the far north of Hokkaido, and then slowly

moves south to Kyushu, the same directional flow

as the winter snow-falls.

You may think of winter as a dreadfully cold

and depressing time of the year. While this can be

true, this perception mostly applies if you are living

in Japan and have to commute to work in icy

conditions and shovel the snow in your driveway.

Feature • Japan | 11


As a traveller, no little inconveniences

brought on by winter will bother you. On

the contrary, all that will matter to you is

sitting in a steaming hot spring while the

gently falling snowflakes create a white hat

on your head. Relax and have another hot

sake rice wine while thinking about your

cross-country ski routes.

Japanese winters are relatively brief.

Starting around late November or early

December, the winter season generally

continues until the end of February or

early to mid-March.

As expected, the further north you

travel, the longer and harsher the winters

are. In some parts of Hokkaido in the far

north, and in the mountainous regions,

winter can be even longer and colder.

Generally, the coldest temperatures come

around in February when the mercury can

drop well below freezing point.

While the southern islands of Okinawa

never see snow, heavy snowfalls are

frequent along the coastal mountains on

the Japanese Sea facing Russia and Korea,

the northern parts of Honshu, and all of

Hokkaido.

Come along as we explore a few of

Japan’s most idyllic winter wonderlands.

In the lower-northern part of Honshu,

we visit Zao Onsen and Ski Resort, also

famous for its Juhyou frosted fir trees.

After Zao, we travel further north to

Lake Tazawako and the nearby Tsurunoyu

Onsen.

As Hokkaido is the most idyllic winter

spot of Japan, we then take the train north

through the Tsugaru Strait that separates

Honshu Island and Hokkaido Island. After

a brief stop to attend the snow festival in

Hokkaido’s capital Sapporo, we head east

to the Kushiro Marshes to spend time with

the red-crowned cranes performing their

love dances in the snow. From there, we

travel north to the shores of Lake Kussharo,

home to the large white whooper swans

dabbling on the hot springs, surrounded

by snow.

Before we start our travels, we first

consider ten brilliant reasons for visiting

Japan in winter. After that, come along as

we visit two winter wonderlands on northern

Honshu Island before we move further

north to Hokkaido.

WHY CHOOSE WINTER?

While Japan is great any time of the

year, winter is truly special.

Choosing the right season to

visit Japan is a tough decision.

While the best decision is to

visit Japan during all four seasons, winter

is the most exciting time. Here are ten of

the best reasons why winter is a great time

to visit Japan:

1. FEWER TOURISTS IN WINTER

The surge in foreign visitors to Japan

has been the result of a gradual easing of

Japan’s travel visa requirements since 2013,

as well as an increase in the number of

Asian budget airlines flying into Japan. The

depreciation of the Japanese yen has also

boosted tourist arrivals.

The number of tourist arrivals from

China increased four-fold over a five-year

period so that China has overtaken South

Korea as the top source of tourists. The

Asia region now accounts for about 85% of

all tourist arrivals in Japan. According to

the Japan National Tourism Organization

(JNTO), the estimated number of international

travellers to Japan in June 2019 was

about 2.9 million, a 6.5% increase from the

previous year and the highest tourist arrival

number for the month of June, ever.

To avoid the crowds, visit throughout

the winter months when you will find many

of the country’s most iconic sights almost

completely deserted. Gone are the madding

crowds from spring, summer, and autumn.

2. THE JAPANESE ONSEN

A Japanese onsen is a mineral-rich

geothermal natural hot spring bath. On a

cold and snowy day, there is simply nothing

like sinking into a steamy outdoors

bath (locally known as rotenburo) while

snowflakes are gently falling all around

you. While the steaming mountain-stream

meanders through the snow-covered

woods and flows right into your natural

rocky bath, you sip on a hot sake and know

you came to the right place.

The onsen, as well as the sentō (community

bath-house), are integral to Japanese

culture. While a visit to one or two

sentō is a great introduction to this part of

Japanese culture, the onsen is where you

want to spend more time.

Some onsen are traditional cedarpanelled

baths in large themed complexes

where you can bathe in a variety of waters

from milky white coloured water, to aromatic

water smelling of honey. The rotenburo

outdoor bath that hugs the side of the

jungle or a picturesque creek, is where you

want to be, especially in winter.

Japan has so many beautiful onsen all

over the country that it is hard to single

out the best. Even so, make sure to visit the

tranquil onsen town of Ginzan in Yamagata

Prefecture, one of the most historic and

picturesque onsen towns in Japan.

The town is located along the banks of

the Ginzan River and also offers beautiful

wooden ryokan, the traditional onsen

inns. Another onsen area not to miss is the

Noberibetsu Onsen region of Hokkaido, as

well as Zao Onsen and Tsurunoyu Onsen

in the northern part of Honshu Island.

12 Globerovers · December 2019


Japan - A Winter Wonderland

3. HOT SAKE RICE WINE

Going hand-in-hand with the onsen

experience, though certainly not limited to

the onsen, is the Japanese culture of enjoying

heated sake (Japan’s native rice wine)

on a cold winter’s day or night.

While sake is enjoyed straight from

the fridge during the rest of the year, during

winter there is nothing better than to

warm yourself up with a glass of hot sake.

Enjoy your sake in the onsen, or huddled

inside your traditional ryokan (travellers

inn) or in an izakaya (small Japanese pub).

Sake comes in a variety of types and qualities,

with prices to match.

4. SNOW FESTIVALS

Japan is well known for its elaborate

show festivals. While there are many such

festivals all over Japan, the most impressive

is the Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (snow festival)

on Hokkaido Island. Lasting one week in

February, Sapporo’s festival features illuminations,

skating, toboggan runs, ice bars,

many kinds of winter games, and enormous

sculptures created from ice and snow. Some

of these works of art measure up to 15 metres

(49 ft) tall and 25 metres (82 ft) wide.

In the neighbouring town of Otaru, check

out the Light Snow Path Festival.

Some other festivals to consider are

the Tokamachi Snow Festival, Asahikawa

Winter Festival, Akita’s Yokote Kamakura

Festival, Tochigi’s Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura

Festival, and the Snow Monsters

Festival of Zao in Yamagata.

Watch out for the traditional kamakura

(igloo-like snow huts or domes)

which are traditionally made in the Tohoku

region and in northern areas of the

Kanto region, such as at the Yunishigawa

Kamakura Festival. At night, the town is lit

up with hundreds of small kamakura with

candles and turns into a magical winter

wonderland.

5. SNOW SPORTS

Japan is over 70% mountainous, boasts

over 500 ski resorts, and receives some

of the world’s most reliable snowfall. It is

not hard to find excellent ski resorts with

sweeping ski-runs and superb powdery

snow alongside stunning natural beauty

and romantic accommodation where hospitality

is top-notch.

Just 200 kilometres (124 mi) northwest

of Tokyo is Yuzawa in the Japanese Alps.

The area is world-renowned for its heavy

snowfalls and a prolonged winter season

with excellent trails for skiing and snow-

Feature • Japan | 13


Japan - A Winter Wonderland

14 Globerovers · December 2019


boarding. Furthermore, Yuzawa is blessed

with several hot springs, some dating back

900 years. The Kaido-no-yu onsen has outdoor

pools with breathtaking views of the

surrounding snow-capped mountains.

While some of the best ski resorts are

in Hokkaido, the Zao Ski Resort in Honshu

is unique as you can ski past the “snow

monsters”. More about Zao and its “snow

monsters” later.

6. ICE AND ICICLES

Along with the cold winter temperatures

come the ice and icicles. One of the

most accessible places to showcase this

beautiful winter phenomenon in Japan

is in Misotsuchi. Here gigantic icicles are

created by water flowing over the cliffs

located upstream from the waterfall in the

Chichibu area of Saitama Prefecture, just

over 100 kilometres (62 mi) northwest of

Tokyo.

Nearby is the Onouchi Hyakkei Icicle

Park in Ogano and the Ashigakubo Icicles

which are artificially created when water

is sprayed over the trees in the frigid cold,

resulting in wildly shaped ice crusts on the

branches. If you are here on weekends during

January and February, you will see the

special lighting that mystically illuminates

the icicles.

Some of the many other places to see

icicles are at Gouradani, also known as

Nanshoga near Shojidake in Fukuoka

Prefecture, and the fir trees of Zao Onsen

in Yamagata Prefecture.

7. WINTER ILLUMINATIONS

The “chasing of illuminations” is a

favourite romantic pastime for Japanese

families and couples. Japan has no shortage

of the most impressive winter illuminations

you have ever dreamt of.

Almost every major Japanese city has

at least one winter light illumination area.

Tokyo has several, such as the Caretta

Shiodome Illuminations, Roppongi Hills

Christmas Lights, and the Tokyo Midtown

Christmas Illuminations. The Shiodome

illuminations are arguably the most impressive.

There are many illumination events

held across the country of which the

most spectacular is the Nabana no Sato

of Kuwana city in Mie Prefecture. Over 8

million LED lights are used to create the

mind-blowing art-of-lights in the vast

park where you will find the impressive

“Tunnel of Lights”. Truly a fairy tale. While

watching the lights you can also enjoy

the local Nagashima-chi Beer and natural

hot springs. West of Tokyo is the equally

impressive light show at the “Lake Sagami

Pleasure Forest” in Kanagawa.

8. WINTER VILLAGES

One of the best places to spend a

night or two during Japan’s winters is in a

“winter village”. When quaint traditional

Japanese villages are covered in fluffy thick

white snow it creates a wonderful atmosphere,

especially when they are modestly

illuminated.

One of the most charming and rustic

traditional Japanese villages to visit in

winter after heavy snow, is the Shirakawago

village in central Japan, a tiny village

located 300 kilometres (186 mi) west of

Tokyo in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture. The

village is a collection of original thatched

farmhouses with tall pointed roofs in

the gasshō-zukuri style, meaning ‘praying

hands’ which reflects the shape of the

roofs. When snow-covered and illuminated

it creates a scene straight from a Christmas

card. The village is best viewed from

the observation deck above the village.

To control overcrowding, from 2019

onward new regulations are in place that

require visitors to make an online reservation.

Alternatively, the villages of the Gokayama

region are still mostly unaffected

by mass-tourism. In this region, check out

the villages of Gokayama, Suganuma, and

Ainokura.

9. JAPANESE SHRINES

Shrines in Japan are very photogenic,

in particular those with alleys or tunnels,

made of many torii gates lined up in a long

row. Torii gates are most commonly found

at the entrance of, or within, a Shinto

shrine, where they symbolically mark the

transition from the mundane to the sacred.

Attending a Shinto shrine when it is covered

in snow is an exhilarating sight.

Kyoto’s Kifune Shrine with its many

torii gates is one such shrine not to miss

when covered under a thick blanket of

show. When the shrine is illuminated at

night, the snowy fairy tale comes alive.

10. WINTER WILDLIFE

While you may not think of wildlife

as a reason to visit Japan in winter, this is

a major drawcard for birdwatchers and

photographers with their big cameras and

long lenses who flock to Japan, mainly to

Hokkaido, during the winter months.

While the coldest parts of Japan such

as Hokkaido have mammals including the

red fox, spotted deer (also known as the

Japanese deer or sika deer), sable (a small

carnivorous mammal primarily inhabiting

the forest), northern fur seal, and Steller

sea lion, the main attraction is the birds.

Hooded and white-naped cranes

are present in Kagoshima Prefecture of

the southern island of Kyushu, though

the biggest draw is Hokkaido. Here you

can see the revered Red-crowned cranes

performing love dances in the snow, while

the Whooper swans (pronounced hooper)

congregate where the hot springs flow into

the partly frozen lakes. More about these

birds later.

“Planning wildlife photography

in Japan? Bring your longest

lenses as competition is fierce"

February is an ideal time to spot the

Steller’s sea eagles at the northernmost

areas of Hokkaido where the sea-ice

extends down the Sea of Okhotsk reaching

the northeast coast of Hokkaido and in

particular the Shiretoko Peninsula. While

in Hokkaido, keep an eye out for the Ural

owl that is active day and night, though it

is primarily nocturnal. The Blakiston’s fish

owl is also a resident of Hokkaido.

Convinced that winter is the most

exciting time to visit Japan? Now let’s start

our journey!

Feature • Japan | 15


Japan - A Winter Wonderland

ZAO ONSEN

Onsen village known for steaming waters,

snow monsters, and great skiing.

While there are so many places

to enjoy Japan in winter, one

place not to miss has to be the

hot spring town of Zao Onsen. Located

400 kilometres (248 mi) north of Tokyo,

the town lies 880 metres (2,887 ft) above

sea level on the slopes of the volcanic

Mount Zao.

With a history that goes back about

1,900 years, the area is known for some of

the best ski slopes with excellent powdersnow

conditions, hot springs, mountain

scenery, and its famous “snow monsters”

that come alive in mid-winter.

The ski season usually starts in early

December and ends around early May,

depending on the snow conditions.

Interested in improving your skiing

and snowboarding techniques? No problem.

Zao has seven ski schools and one

snowboard school allowing you to choose

a class according to your individual needs.

If needed, English speaking instructors can

be pre-booked for private lessons.

To protect the little ones, Zao even

offers a Ski Kodomo-no-hi (Children’s Ski

Day) when children under elementary

school age are eligible for a large discount.

The best time to meet up with the

“snow monsters” is generally from early

January to early March, with February being

the time when they are at their biggest.

THE SKI RESORT

Zao is one of Japan’s oldest ski resorts.

Its 14 different slopes and 12 courses are

suitable for skiers and snowboarders of

all levels and are serviced by 35 lifts, a

gondola and 3 ropeways. Its longest run

starts at the summit of the mountain and is

about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) long.

16 Globerovers · December 2019


THE SNOW MONSTERS

Zao is one of only a few places in Japan

where the juhyo (ice trees) can be seen.

Juhyo can be found on a limited number

of mountains in the northeastern areas of

Japan with Zao one of the most accessible

areas. Better known as “snow monsters”,

the trees take on mystifying shapes during

the coldest part of the winter.

It is as if almost every tree, which by

mid-winter is hardly recognisable

as a tree, takes on the shape of a human,

complete with facial features,

blowing hair, hats, wide dresses, and

limbs. They often appear as a group

of people in traditional dress looking

at each other or walking up the

hill. While they are called “snow monsters”,

most more closely resemble humans than

monsters if you have a strong imagination.

The “snow monsters” form around the

peak of the Zao Ski Resort and are usually

at their most spectacular around mid-

February.

The wind is blowing, it is freezing cold, and you are

alone, surrounded by “snow monsters” so real that

you can hear them talking in their frosted voices.

There are a few climatic conditions

necessary for the juhyo to be created. The

trees must be evergreen conifers such

as the Japanese red pines, white fir, blue

spruce, red cedar or similar. The ice develops

particularly fast when the temperature

is around minus 5°C (23F) and when the

wind is weak. Water droplets must be present

in the low hanging snow clouds, and

they then adhere to the trees as they make

contact. Heavy snowfalls between two and

three metres are also ideal.

On Mount Zao, where the wind tends

to be strong, juhyo grow windward and

their tips turn into a shape called “the

JAPAN

ZAO ONSEN

shrimp tail” as these unique ice formations

resemble the tails of shrimps. These “tails”

will build up and fill all the gaps between

the branches and freeze very hard. As this

phenomenon repeats itself over several

days, the build-up creates masterpieces.

Access to the “snow monsters” is

by ropeway and a gondola fit for both

skiers and non-skiers. From the top

of the mountain the panoramic view

over the ski slopes and the “snow

monsters” is spectacular.

The “snow monsters” must be seen

during the day, especially on clear sunny

days, as well as in the evenings when

coloured floodlights light up the monsters

around the summit. View them from the

open viewing deck of the cafe, or from a

warm seat inside the cafe. Make sure to

dress very warmly as the wind can get

extremely strong and brutally cold at night

- ideal conditions to make the monsters

even wilder and bigger.

Feature • Japan | 17


ZAO ONSEN

SKI RESORT

708-1 Zao Onsen, Yamagata-City

YAMAGATA, 990-2301 JAPAN

Tel: +81-23-694-9328

Fax: +81-23-694-9327

A Cool

White

Powdery

Playground

Zao Onsen is located in Yamagata City in the northeastern region of Tohoku.

It is one of Japan’s most renowned tourist destinations, standing about 800 metres above sea

level and among splendid mountains. This traditional hot spring village is surrounded by nature.

18 Globerovers · December 2019


Japan - A Winter Wonderland

THE ONSEN OF ZAO

After a full day on the ski slopes and an

evening with the “snow monsters” where

the winter wind is bitterly cold, there is

nothing better at Zao than an evening soak

in an onsen. In fact, any time of the day or

night is a good time for a soak in an onsen.

Zao Onsen’s sulphuric waters are

among the most acidic in Japan with a pH

value of close to 1 on the scale of 1 to 14,

with 1 being the most acidic. These waters

are reputedly very effective with rejuvenating

and strengthening the skin and blood

vessels, and therefore popularly known as

“the beauty maker” or “springs of beauty”.

More precisely, the steaming hot waters

are said to aid with the healing of incised

wounds, chronic skin diseases, diabetes,

hypertension, muscle pains, joint pains,

physical exhaustion, and a lot more. If we

can believe all these claims then there is no

better way to rejuvenate our tired and ageing

bodies than right here at Zao’s many onsen.

Zao has several onsen which range

from small, old-fashioned community baths

to modern facilities with various pools.

The absolute highlight of Zao’s onsen is

the Zao Dai Rotenburo (rotenburo means

“outdoor bath”) located at the highest

point in Zao Onsen town. This genderseparated

outdoor bath is located right in

the hot and highly sulphuric mountain

streams, surrounded by lush forests.

In line with Japanese onsen etiquette,

you place your clothes in a black plastic

bag and leave it unattended in the wooden

changing room, then walk down the

wooden path to the pools, totally in the

nude. Make sure to take along your small

white facial towel available in the changing

room, which is used to cover your private

parts when outside the bath.

While this open-air onsen is officially

closed from December to March, I was

very lucky that it opened for a single day

when I visited on a very snowy day near

the end of January. While sitting in the

natural baths, my head got covered in a

thick layer of snow within minutes. What

an incredible experience!

Zao Onsen also offers other resort

attractions including a Family Snow Park

and a Snowboard Park. The resort has easy

to understand signs in English, Korean and

Chinese as well as Japanese, and the friendly

people in the small village are always

very welcoming to guests from overseas.

ZAO TRAVEL TIPS

Most ryokan and many hotels and pensions

in Zao Onsen offer their staying

guests access to their own onsen. A few

of them also open their onsen to nonstaying

guests for a small admission fee.

Zao Onsen can be reached by air, car,

train or bus. Flights from Tokyo’s Haneda

airport to Yamagata airport take about

an hour, followed by a one-hour bus

ride. By car, the journey takes about fi ve

hours, while the train from Tokyo via the

Japan Rail (JR) Yamagata Shinkansen

takes two and a half hours to Yamagata

station from where the bus shuttle to Zao

Onsen takes 40 minutes.

The town has ample restaurants and

several choices of accommodation such

as resorts, hotels, inns, ryokan, lodges,

pensions, and private homes.

One of the highlights of Zao is the Dai

Rotenburo outdoor bath located at the

highest point in Zao Onsen town.

It is open once a year!

Feature • Japan | 19


Zao is one of Japan’s oldest ski resorts. Its 14 different slopes and 12 courses

are suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all levels and are serviced by

35 lifts, a gondola and three ropeways. Its longest run starts at the summit

of the mountain and is about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) long.

20 Globerovers · December 2019


Feature • Japan | 21


Japan - A Winter Wonderland

LAKE TAZAWAKO AREA

A tranquil lake surrounded by snow

covered mountains.

While snow-covered mountains

are synonymous with idyllic

winter scenery, how about a

snow-covered lake with a princess named

Tatsuko standing on its shores? According

to legend, Tatsuko wanted to eternally

preserve her beauty but was then cursed

to become the protective dragon of Lake

Tazawa.

To appreciate the mysterious legend of

Princess Tatsuko, locally known as Tatsuko

Densetsu, we continue our winter journey

to Lake Tazawa on Honshu’s mountainous

northern Akita Prefecture.

Lake Tazawa, located near the city of

Semboku which is 230 kilometres (143 mi)

north of Zao Onsen, is one of Japan’s largest

caldera lakes with a depth of 423 me-

tres (1,388 ft). We will stop by the golden

statue of Princess Tatsuko on the southwestern

shores of the lake, go all around

the lake, and

then travel 15

kilometres (9.3

mi) northwest

of the lake past

Mount Akita-

Komagatake

to spend some relaxing time at another

one of Japan’s most beautiful winter onsen,

Tsurunoyu

THE LAKE

Our first stop is Lake Tazawa, one of

Japan’s most beautiful areas, particularly

in winter. A picture-perfect landscape

unfolds when the lake is surrounded by

snow, with snow-covered Mount Akita-

Komagatake towering in the background.

Due to its depth, there is no possibility

that the lake can freeze over, even in the

dead of winter. This lake has no natural

inflow or outflow and as a result, it used

to have a crystal clear visibility of about

30 metres (98 ft). Sadly, due to a nearby

hydroelectric power plant as well as runoff

from farms and the highly acidic spillover

waters from Tamagawa Onsen, this visibility

has been

reduced to less

than 4 metres

(13 ft). The

acidity of the

water makes it

unsuitable for

human consumption, or even for agricultural

use.

A large and very deep caldera lake, Tazawa is set in

one of the most beautiful locations in Japan.

No wonder this is also home to Princess Tatsuko!

Access to the area on public transport

is fairly easy. Tazawako-Akita train station

lies a short distance to the southwest of the

lake and is served by the JR Shinkansen

and the JR Tazawako. From the station, or

from nearby Tazawa-kohan bus station,

take a circle bus around the lake which

will stop at several of the main scenic

points, including the iconic golden statue

of Princess Tatsuko and the Gozanoishi

Shrine with its bright red torii gate standing

right by the water. Gozanoishi Shrine

was founded in 1650 and received its name

when the lord of the Akita Clan, Satake

Yoshitaka, took a rest while visiting Lake

Tazawa.

The shores of Lake Tazawako.

22 Globerovers · December 2019


THE PRINCESS

I came to this lake especially to see the

golden statue of Princess Tatsuko and to

better appreciate this mysterious legend.

According to the Tazawako Tourism Association,

there are different versions of

the legendary princess. “Perhaps no one

knows the ‘original’ or ‘authentic’ version

because it has been orally passed down

through generations” the Tourism Association

proclaimed but shared with me the

most common version of this folklore:

Tatsuko, a girl from the In-nai area,

was known for her beautiful appearance.

Knowing her beauty would not last forever,

she started to visit a nearby shrine at the

foot of Mount Okurasan. She would visit

the shrine to make a wish, night after

night. On the 100th night, she finally

received a message from the god of mercy

—“Go north. Find the holy spring. Take a

sip from there.”

Tatsuko then disappeared into the water.

Her mother was so agonised that she

screamed and threw her burning torch into

the lake. As the fire was instantly put out,

the torch became black and soon turned

into a school of kunimasu fish. According

to the story, the princess-dragon later sank

to the bottom of the lake and died.

Today, the only reminder we have of

Princess Tatsuko, the goddess of Lake

Tazawa, is her golden-bronze statue created

by Japanese sculptor and painter,

Yasutake Funakoshi (December 7, 1912

– February 5, 2002), that was unveiled on

April 12, 1968. She stands proudly with

her back to the clear blue waters, a figure

of purity and beauty. Surrounded by snow,

JAPAN

TAZAWAKO

her eternal beauty will remain mystifying

for years to come.

At the Gozanoishi Shrine is the “Katagashira-no-reisen,”

the spring that Princess

Tatsuko is said to have drunk from to

preserve her beauty and then turned into a

dragon, as well as the “kagami-ishi” stone

that reflected her dragon figure. Here you

can also see a smaller statue of Tatsuko

sitting in a contrite pose, representing her

regret for chasing after vanity.

Over the mountains she walked and

finally she found the holy spring that she

was told about. Delighted, she took a sip as

she was instructed. When Tatsuko drank

the water from the holy spring with her

delicate hands, she became more and more

thirsty. She was drinking so breathlessly

and mindlessly that she dipped her face to

the water. The next moment, heavy clouds

appeared over the mountains, bringing

a thunderstorm. Soon, the pouring rain

washed out everything and caused a landslide

down to the lake. The lightning was

so blinding that Tatsuko couldn’t even see

herself. When it finally calmed down, she

came across a shining stone that reflected

her figure so she realised she was cursed

and transformed into a dragon.

When Tatsuko had been absent for

way too long, her mother became unbearably

anxious. She wandered deep into

the mountains in search of her precious

daughter. Finally, she found the holy

spring. She desperately called her daughter’s

name. The call was heard by Tatsuko,

who had now become a dragon living

in the waters of the lake. “Forgive me,

Mother” she said. “Because I wished for

eternal beauty, I became a dragon who

must serve as a guardian of Lake Tazawa.

I cannot return home with you. Instead, I

will keep this lake abundant with fish, so

you can have it every day to remember me.

They are my offerings to you.”

The golden statue of Princess Tatsuko at the shore of Lake Tazawako.

The torii gate at Gozanoishi Shrine facing Lake Tazawako.

Feature • Japan | 23


Japan - A Winter Wonderland

24 Globerovers · December 2019


TSURUNOYU ONSEN

Let’s shake ourselves back into reality

and travel along the southern shores

of the lake and then up in a northwestern

direction, 25 kilometres (15.5 mi) from

the princess to Tsurunoyu Onsen. Tsurunoyu

is one of eight onsen, and the oldest,

that belong to Nyutou Onsenkyo which

is located near the foot of Mount Nyutou

(1,478 m / 4,849 ft).

Dating back to between 1638 and 1661

when the second lord of Akita, Yoshitaka

Satake, visited Tsurunoyu Onsen for therapy,

visitation by the general public began

during the Genroku era (1688~1704). The

name, Tsurunoyu, is derived from folklore

that a local hunter saw a crane (tsuru in

Japanese) healing its wounds in the spring.

The onsen features four baths, each with

water of a different composition. In winter,

the outside baths are straight from a fairy

tale as this area can get tons of snow. With

snow piling up around the baths while the

steam rises from the milky hot waters, it

is pure bliss. Unlike most other onsen in

Japan, the outside bath is a mixed-gender

bath (konyoku), and in line with Japanese

culture, no bathing wear is allowed.

It is customary, and expected, that you

bring along a small white facial towel from

the changing room to cover your private

areas as you approach and sink into the

bath. Also as expected in all onsen, is to

meticulously scrub your entire body in the

gender-segregated wash areas before you

enter the communal baths.

Bedrooms at Tsurunoyu Onsen are of

traditional Japanese interior design and

are quite bare, with only a small table on

a wall-to-wall tatami mat as flooring, low

tables (kotatsu) for when you sit on the

mat, some large cushions, and a few traditional

Japanese futon mattresses that are

laid directly on the tatami mat. Mattresses

are kept folded in the closet during the

day and are rolled out in the evening after

dinner.

After a long day in the snow followed

by a sunset soak in the steaming rotenburo,

it is time for dinner which is normally

included in a night’s stay. Be ready for

some local food such as sansai dishes

(mountain vegetables), and Tsurunoyu’s

local speciality - yamanoimo (Japanese

mountain yam) cooked in a pot (nabe), as

well as grilled Iwana (char or trout fish).

In winter, the area around the wooden

buildings is decorated with many igloo-like

snow huts or domes (kamakuras) with candles

burning inside. Such a beautiful sight.

Some of the other places worth exploring

in the area include the other onsen

of Nyutou Onsenkyo, Tamagawa Onsen

further north, Kakunodate-Bukeyashiki

(samurai residences south of Tazawa

Lake), Tazawa Lake Ski Resort, and Mount

Komagatake.

Feature • Japan | 25


26 Globerovers · December 2019


Mount Komagatake reflects in the waters of Lake Tazawako.

Feature • Japan | 27


JAPAN

KUSHIRO

THE CRANES OF KUSHIRO

The Kushiro Marshes of Hokkaido are

home to Japan’s most revered cranes.

Winter in Japan is a lot more

than snow-covered mountains,

ski resorts, lakes, and hot

springs. It is also wildlife, in the snow.

From the hot spring waters of Tsurunoyu

Onsen in northern Honshu, we travel

by train northwards through the 19.5 kilometre

(12.1 mi) long Seikan Tunnel across

the Tsugaru Strait that separates Honshu

Island and Hokkaido Island. The train will

come to a stop in Sapporo, the largest city

on Hokkaido.

28 Globerovers · December 2019

Linger around Sapporo and attend the

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (snow festival) if

you are here in February. In 2020, the festival

will be held from the 4th to the 11th

of February. The festival’s main site is at

Odori Park where you will find most of the

snow and ice sculptures, as well as plenty

of warm drinks and delicious Japanese

food. It was right here in Odori Park where

the Sapporo Snow Festival was started in

1950 by a creative group of high school

students who started building a few snow

statues that attracted unexpected crowds.

You can also attend the festival at

the nearby Susukino Site under the 2020

theme of ‘Enjoy the Ice’. This site offers a

fantastic ice sculpture show and the Ice

Sculpture Contest. About eight kilometres

(five miles) north is the Tsu Dome, the

Sapporo community dome, where you will

find snow slides and a snow rafting area

where you can have a snow-ice experience.

From Sapporo, board the JR Limited

Express Super Ozora train for a four and

a half hour scenic ride east, to Kushiro.

Kushiro is best known for the Kushiro

Marshes, Japan’s largest marshland that is

a haven for wildlife. The scenic marshes

teem with over 600 species of plants as well

as animal life. The marshes are fed by the

Kushiro River which originates from Lake

Kussharo to the north and slowly snakes

south through the marshes for over 150

kilometres (93 mi).

The marshes are a big drawcard for

birdwatchers as this is one of the few

places where you can see the magnificent

tancho, Japan’s rare, iconic, and enchanting

red-crowned cranes. In Japanese culture,

the tancho has a long history and is often

depicted in poetry, paintings, and other


Japan - A Winter Wonderland

forms of art. To watch their elegant courtship

dances in the snow is a beautiful sight

to behold.

At the turn of the 20th century, the

tancho were believed to be extinct until

a few were discovered in the Kushiro

Marshes in 1924. Under a well-maintained

protection programme, the crane population

has now risen to about 1,000 individuals.

There are a couple of feeding stations

set up during winter which the birds visit

in large numbers. It is hard to say which

are the best, as it all depends on where

the cranes decide to visit. Try the Tsurui

Ito Tancho Crane Sanctuary, the Akan

International Crane Center, or the nearby

Otowa Bridge for a view of the sleeping

cranes shrouded in the morning mist.

Among the cranes you may find whooper

swans and even some Steller’s sea eagles in

winter.

While having your own transportation

is ideal, there are infrequent public buses

to some of the sites, such as the Akan Bus

that departs from the Kushiro Station bus

terminal to the nearby Kushiro Wetlands

Observatory, and the Akan International

Crane Center. Taking the bus will require

much of the day. If time is limited, take a

taxi to the nearest site, the Kushiro Marsh

Observatory (about 15 minutes / 17 kilometres

/ 10.5 miles by car). The distance to

the Akan International Crane Center is 33

kilometres (20 mi). On the way back, you

can take the Akan Bus Tsurui Line to JR

Kushiro station.

At the Hosooka Observatory, you can

get some beautiful views of the marshes

and the Kushiro River, or walk on the

boardwalk at Onnenai to see the tanchos,

herons, and smaller birds.

Feature • Japan | 29


Kawayu Onsen

Lake Kussharo

Ryokan

Yunokaku Ikedaya

Yunokaku Ikedaya Ryokan provides comfortable

accommodation with a restaurant and free WiFi.

Private parking is provided. A hot spring bath and bicycle

rental service are available for guests.

2-6-25 Kawayu Onsen

Teshikaga-cho Kawakami-gun Hokkaido,

Teshikaga, Japan

+81 154 832 011

30 Globerovers · December 2019


Japan - A Winter Wonderland

KAWAYU ONSEN

This sleepy onsen town with a very

warming heart is idyllic in winter.

At Kushiro train station we

take the JR Semmo Line for a

one hour and 42 minute ride

north to cover the 90 kilometres (56 mi)

to Kawayu Onsen station. The small town

of Kawayu Onsen has been described as

a “geological thermal wonder” located on

the Oto River, a tributary of the Kumanogawa

River. “Kawa” means “river” and “yu”

means “hot water”. In town, hot spring

water bubbles to the surface of the crystal

clear river. The town offers a variety of ryokan

(traditional Japanese inn), minshuku

(Japanese-style bed and breakfasts), hotels,

and several quaint restaurants.

One of the best ways to enjoy a cold

winter’s night at Kawayu Onsen is to soak

in a pool that you dug by yourself while

watching the warm mist from the river

rising slowly into the air. Head for the Sennin-buro

river bath. “Sennin” means “one

thousand people” and “buro” is a bath.

“Sennin” also means “mountain man” or

“immortal mountain hermit”, a mysterious

character that lives in the mountains. This

large natural hot bath measures about 40

metres (131 ft) by 15 metres (49 ft) with a

depth of 60 centimetres (24 in) on average.

The hot water fountains at the bath are

about 70 degrees Celsius (158 Fahrenheit)

as they emerge from the ground, but are

then cooled down by the cold river water

to about 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

Depending on the river flows, the

water temperature varies, so you can walk

around the bath and find a comfortable

water temperature. On some days the

bathing area is lit with lamps and strings of

small lights.

The town also has a few free foot-baths

right by the side of the street which is a

nice way to warm up your cold feet.

Just over three kilometres (1.9 mi) west

of the town are the Iozan sulphurous steam

vents that are part of an active volcano. As

you approach the area you will hear loud

hissing noises coming from the bright yellow

sulphur mounts and the strong pungent

smell of sulphur in the air. The area was

used for sulphur mining during the Meiji

era (1868 to 1912).

Nearby Mount Iozan is a 512 metre

(1,680 ft) high active volcano sitting inside

the giant Kussharo caldera and is the source

of the hot springs in the area, such as

Kawayu Onsen. Mount Iozan’s name literally

means “sulphur mountain”. The local

Ainu people called it “atosanupuri,” which

means “naked mountain.” The mountain is

characterized as such because the surface is

bare and has a reddish-brown colour.

Feature • Japan | 31


Whooper swans at Sunayu, Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido.

32 Globerovers · December 2019


Feature • Japan | 33


Japan - A Winter Wonderland

LAKE KUSSHARO

Japan’s largest caldera lake is blessed

with white-feathered visitors in winter.

While the sulphur vents and

hot springs of Kawayu are

good enough reasons to

visit the area, we came here in search of the

feathered visitors from Siberia, Russia.

About eight kilometres (five miles) to

the west of town lies Sunayu on the eastern

shores of Lake Kussharo, a large caldera

lake in Akan National Park. Sunayu means

“a place that sand gushes out” in the local

Ainu language, and makes reference to the

hot springs that ooze out from the sandy

beach on the lakeside.

While parts of the lake freeze over in

winter, this is one area where the warm hot

springs keep the lake free of ice, the perfect

bathing spot not only for the lone human

bather in the small rock-pool but also for

the swans along the shore.

The whooper swans (pronounced

hooper), are one of the heaviest flying birds

weighing in the range of eight to 11 kg (18

– 25 lbs). The heaviest whooper swan was

recorded at 15 kg (34 lbs).

They spend most of their time in the

Siberian Arctic before migrating as far

south as Japan in the winter. It is quite a

sight to see

so many of

these white

swans on the

lake, with

the snowy

mountains of the Akan National Park in the

background.

Kussharo Kotan Ainu Folklore Museum.

Step inside this interesting little museum’s

replica of an Ainu house, to learn more

about the culture and traditions of the Ainu

people who are indigenous to northern

Japan.

According to one of several theories,

the Ainu are descendants of Mongolian

migrants who entered the Japanese islands

before the period 13000 BC to 300 BC.

Most of Japan’s

Lake Kussharo is home to flocking white swans from

Siberia, as well as hot springs and omiwatari ice ridges,

all living side-by-side at the edges of the lake.

A little further down the road lies the

Ikeno-yu hot spring, also flowing into the

lake, and therefore another favourite spot

for the swans. Further south on the south

bank of Lake Kussharo is the Teshikaga

remaining

24,000 indigenous

Ainu

population is

concentrated in

Hokkaido. Note that the museum is closed

between November and May.

While this was a small scratch on the

surface of Japan in winter, feel free to come

back time after time to enjoy the beauty of

Japan! GR

34 Globerovers · December 2019


ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

Getting There

From Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda international

airports it is easy to fl y to northern

Japan, either to Sendai Airport or further

north to Hokkaido’s New Chitose Airport

in Sapporo. Sapporo is in Japan’s northern

winter-wonder-world on Hokkaido

Island, however, winter snow covers

much of Japan so arrive at any of Japan’s

airports to experience it for yourself.

Getting Around

For long-distance travel it is faster and

often cheaper to fly. Alternatively, travel

by train, but to save significantly on train

tickets, buy a Japan Rail Pass before arriving

in Japan. Discounted tourist rail passes

are not sold in Japan. The rail pass often is

cheaper than bus travel. For small groups,

it is cheaper to rent a vehicle, though highway

tolls are expensive.

Photography

Japan is a playground for photographers.

Here you will find an immense variety of

photographic equipment though prices are

not always cheaper than online purchases

in your own country. Japan is a very

photogenic country which includes pristine

natural scenery, wildlife, temples, cultural

events, sports events, festivals, and even

perfect fruits and vegetables!

When to Go

While any time is a great time to visit Japan,

the most beautiful seasons are spring

(for the cherry blossoms and other flowers),

autumn (for the brilliant red foliage),

and of course winter - the most beautiful

time. Best is late winter (January and February)

when the ice is well-formed.

Dining Out

Food is the third most expensive item in

Japan, after accommodation and transportation.

However, when you follow a few

cost-saving tips you will fi nd that the food

is not so expensive. A good start to eating

cheap is to avoid serviced restaurants and

touristy areas. Go where the locals eat.

Where to Stay

Japan has accommodation to fit all budgets,

albeit on the high side compared to

the rest of Asia. If you have a seriously

tight budget, try couch surfing or stay in

a dorm or capsule hotel, some of which

will only cost about US$20 per person per

night.

Packing

Summers are very hot and winters are

brutally cold. If you go to Zao Mountain

in northern Honshu to see the “snow

monsters” in January, expect minus 15°

Celsius (5°F), or even colder. Winter in

Japan could be the coldest winter you

have ever experienced.

Safety

As one of the safest countries in the world,

there is no need to worry about any aspect

of security. Theft and robberies are unheard

off, while safety on the roads and on

public transport is better than almost anywhere

in the world. Follow regular safety

rules and everything will be fi ne.

Cost of Travel

Japan is one of the most expensive countries

in which to travel. However, If you are

well informed on how to save money, you

will fi nd that Japan is not as expensive as

you thought. Be smart and take advantage

of discounted online bookings. Make sure to

buy your JR Railway Pass before arriving.

Feature • Japan | 35


Vegan Minshuku Sanbiki Neko

Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto’s Traditional Japanese Style Bed and Breakfast

• Experience the ancient capital of Japan while staying in a traditional style

bed and breakfast; the perfect base for sightseeing.

• Nestled in the Higashiyama foothills and located close to many attractions,

including Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari and the Gion area.

• Cooked Japanese style vegan breakfasts are served in the dining room.

• Tea and coffee making facilities, microwave, oven, refrigerator and television

are available for guests’ use.

• Traditional Japanese style rooms, each with an en-suite bathroom.

contact@veganminshuku3neko.com

Instagram: @veganminshuku3neko

www.veganminshuku3neko.com

36 Globerovers · December 2019


37


10 Winter Activities in Japan

great

Japan’s winter wonderland offers a variety of activities that will appeal to everybody who appreciates the beauty of snow and ice,

and everything that goes with it. For adventurous visitors, Japan has some of the world’s best ski resorts renowned for their powdery

snow. Cross-country skiing and hiking are popular in the forests. If you are into photography, you will find ample opportunities,

in particular the tancho cranes and whooper swans. When it is time to relax, soak in a hot spring with a glass of hot sake wine!

1

Zao Dai Rotenburo

Hot Springs

Soaking in a Japanese hot spring is the reason why many

people visit during winter. There is nothing more invigorating

than sinking into the hot mineral waters, in particular when it

is an outdoor natural bath, and even more special if snow is

falling. Sip on a glass of hot sake and you will be in heaven!

One of the best experiences can be found at Zao Onsen on

the slopes of the volcanic Mount Zao, located 400 km (248

mi) north of Tokyo. Zao Dai Rotenburo outdoor baths are located

right in the hot and highly sulphuric mountain streams,

surrounded by lush forests. This area gets a lot of snow

which creates a stunning winter wonder world.

2

Zao

Snow Monsters

3

Hokkaido Snow

4

Festival

Tancho Cranes

Mount Zao in northern Honshu Island is

famous for its “snow monsters” that come

alive in mid-winter. Zao is one of only a

few places in Japan where the juhyo (ice

trees) can be seen. It is as if almost every

tree, hardly recognisable as a tree by

mid-winter, takes on the shape of a human,

complete with facial features, blowing

hair, hats, wide dresses, and limbs.

The “snow monsters” live around the

peak of Zao Ski Resort and are usually

at their most spectacular about mid-

February.

38 Globerovers · December 2019

Hokkaido Island offers some of the best

snow and ice festivals in Japan. At the

Tomamu Ski Resort you will find a beautifully

created ice village that is illuminated at

night with colourful lights.

However, the first prize must go to the annual

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (snow festival)

in the Hokkaido capital. The massive snow

and ice sculptures are meticulously created

by teams of artists and then illuminated

with thousands of small light bulbs. The

2020 festival will be held from the 4th to

11th of February.

Whether you are a photographer or a bird

lover — or neither — you will appreciate

the beauty of these majestic feathered

friends prancing on the snow.

Japan’s rare, iconic, and enchanting redcrowned

cranes, locally known as the tancho

have been intertwined with Japanese

culture throughout the ages. Depicted

in Japanese poetry, paintings, and other

forms of art, the tancho is highly revered.

Congregating on the snow-covered marshes

of Hokkaido’s Kushiro area, they are a

must-visit during their winter courtship.


5 Whooper Swans 6 Iozan Mountain

7

Tomamu

Ski Resort

In eastern Hokkaido Island, along the

shores of Lake Kussharo, a few hot

springs flow into the partly frozen lake. In

winter, whooper swans escape the harsh

winters of Siberia to spend time in these

hot spots along the lake.

The whooper swans are one of the heaviest

flying birds in the world.

It is quite a sight to see so many of these

white swans on the lake, with the snowy

mountains of the Akan National Park in

the background.

Mount Iozan in eastern Hokkaido, is an

active volcano sitting inside the giant

Kussharo caldera. It is the source of the

hot springs in the area, such as the beautiful

Kawayu Onsen.

Mount Iozan’s name literally means “sulphur

mountain”, so here you will see ample

amounts of bright yellow sulphur deposits

at the mouths of the hissing steam vents.

It looks like the mountain is on fire with the

many steam vents spewing steam, and

sometimes water, high into the air. It is

particularly scenic after heavy snowfalls.

Located in central Hokkaido, about 90

minutes by train south of Sapporo, Tomamu

is a popular winter resort for many

reasons. It covers two mountains and has

a large selection of trails.

It offers a host of other activities such as

snowmobiling, snow rafting, backcountry

tours, cross country skiing, paraskiing,

snowshoeing and dog sledding. In

winter the illuminated Ice Village offers

a restaurant, wedding chapel, and a bar,

all sculpted from snow and ice. Even the

drinking glasses are carved from ice.

8

Abashiri

Drift Ice

9

Nyoto

Hot Springs Village

10

Gozanoishi

Shrine

The Sea of Okhotsk coast of Hokkaido is

the northern hemisphere’s southernmost region

where drifting sea ice can be seen. At

the far northeastern coast of the island, the

sea ice typically reaches the coast around

Abashiri in mid to late January and disappears

again by late March to mid-April.

Arrive during the second half of February,

board one of the sightseeing boats, and

head into the ice-covered see. Over the

last few years the boats have had to travel

further north to find the ice which has been

on the decline due to global warming.

Located to the northeast of Lake Tazawa

in the north of Honshu Island, the Nyutoonsen-kyo

Hot Springs Village is the

collective name for seven hot spring inns

located inside the Towada-Hachimantai

National Park.

Surrounded by primeval beech forest,

this pristine part of Japan is beautiful allyear-round,

in particular in autumn and

winter. The sulphuric springs here are of

exceptional quality and the snow falls can

be heavy, which makes relaxing in the

outdoors baths a memorable experience.

Visiting a Japanese shrine or temple covered

in snow is one of the most beautiful

scenes Japan can offer. When the shrine

stands on the shores of a caldera lake,

surrounded by snow-covered mountains, it

is even more stunning.

On the northern shores of Lake Tazawa

in the north of Honshu Island, stands the

Gozanoishi-jinja Shrine that dates back

to 1650. It features a beautiful red torii

(spiritual gate) looking out over the lake’s

blue waves. In winter this torii is covered

in snow and is a sight to behold.

Feature • Japan | 39


globerovers

Travel Magazine

— for the intrepid traveller —

Coming in the

next issue

Tropical Southern

Cambodia

Donʼt miss an Issue

Subscribe NOW

GlobeRovers is published in July and December

Scan this code for a

FREE download of Globerovers app

Apple Store

Google Play

www.globerovers-magazine.com

pinterest.com/globerovers

facebook.com/GloberoversMag

twitter.com/globerovers

GlobeRovers, an independent travel magazine headquartered in Hong

Kong, focuses on off-the-beaten-track destinations free of mass tourism.

40 Globerovers · December 2019


walk to the ends of the earth with

Globerovers

The Magazine for the Intrepid Traveller

Advertise with us

Sponsor our brand reviews

Write for us

Travel with us

... or just be with us

contact@globerovers.com

Scan this QR Code

with your smartphone

globerovers.com

Photo location: Somewhere around Chak Chak, Iran.

41


Photo Essay

Albania, Eastern Europe

Albania has been Europe’s most intriguing

enigma while it has been closed to outsiders

for much of the 20th century. During this time,

the country has been rumoured to have some

of the most spectacular mountains, ancient ruins, historic

fortress towns, turquoise Mediterranean coves, and

long stretches of sandy beaches.

Not long after Mussolini, the Italian dictator, invaded Albania

in 1939, the monarchy was abolished and King Zog

deposed. The Communist Party was formed with Enver

Hoxha, another brutal dictator, as ruler. When the Italians

surrendered to Hoxha’s Communists, the Germans

stepped in and occupied Albania. Months before the fall

of Hitler, the Germans withdrew and Hoxha created a

totalitarian regime based in Tirana, the capital. The Communists

began to nationalise all industries and years of

international isolation followed.

Hoxha, a staunch atheist, did all he could to eradicate all

traces of religion from Albania. He destroyed religious

buildings and banned all religions. Even though Hoxha

died in 1985, his tyrannical regime continued until national

elections were held in 1991, at which time religious

freedom was reintroduced and Albania slowly opened to

the outside world.

Albania remains free of the shackles of Communism

but is one of Europe’s poorest countries with a small

population of about 2.8 million. The scars of years of

rule under the Communists have been slowly fading over

the past 20 years. Today little is visible, except for some

Stalinist statues and architecture, and the occasional

sighting of one of the many bunkers built during the rule

42 Globerovers · December 2019


Albania's

Riviera

of the

Ionian Sea

Photo: The beach at Ksamil, Albania.

of Hoxha to protect against his imaginary invasion from

foreign powers.

The country’s abundance of natural beauty, relatively

low tourist numbers, affordable travel, ethnic cuisines,

and friendly people are attracting an increasing number

of curious international travellers. As word gets out

about what Albania has been hiding behind its Communist

iron curtain, it’s more than likely the current trickle

of tourists will become a flood and threaten this hidden

gem with the horrors of mass tourism.

With Enver Hoxha on our minds, we start our Albania trip

in Gjirokastër, the sleepy mountain village in the south

where Hoxha was born in 1908.

From Gjirokastër, we travel southwest to the port town of

Saranda along the so-called “Albanian Riviera”.

A short drive further south, at the bottom of an isthmus,

squeezed between the cobalt-coloured Adriatic Sea and a

lagoon famed for its mussels, lies the pretty beach town

of Ksamil. The entire area surrounding the tiny town is a

protected green zone. The coastal waters here are truly

idyllic and blessed with three small islands, the nearest

within swimming distance from the town’s main beach.

We end our travels through southern Albania a few

kilometres southeast of town, at the ancient ruins of

Butrint. The ruins, inhabited since prehistoric times and

once part of the Greek and Roman colonies, are situated

in a lovely natural setting. Look out for the old Roman

Theatre, Venetian Castle and the Great Basilica.

Albania is a gem waiting to be discovered and appreciated.

Photo Essay • Albania | 43


Albania’s Riviera of the Ionian Sea

Solid stone slate roof coverings.

The Ottoman era houses of Gjirokastër.

Bell tower at the Gjirokastër Castle.

Interior of the Gjirokastër Castle.

44 Globerovers · December 2019


Gjirokastër

Defined by its imposing castle, Gjirokastër (also

written as Gjirokastra) has been a settlement

for well over 2500 years. Today, only the castle, its

600-odd Ottoman-era houses, and its narrow and

steep roads paved with chunky limestone and shale

can attest to its more recent history.

To the Albanians, the town is an unwelcome reminder

of their former ruler, Enver Hoxha, who was

born here. Dictator Hoxha ruled Albania with an

iron fist for four decades but fortunately ensured

that the town was relatively well preserved during

his rule. A much-hated figure, he is not memorialised

anywhere in this town.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the

town is located in a valley between the Gjerë

Mountains and the Drino River. Its enchanting old

town is perched on a hill that overlooks the entire

valley and surrounding mountains. The beautifully

decorated old houses are tightly arranged up the

hills crisscrossed by narrow and steep cobblestone

streets. As tourism is slowly increasing, many of its

Ottoman-era houses are being converted into artisan

shops, restaurants and quaint boutique hotels.

Looming over the town is the 12th century Gjirokastër

Castle that was gradually built by despots

and dictators over many centuries. The castle now

houses ageing reminders of their resistance to

Western occupation. The castle also has a very

informative exhibition outlining the history of

Albania, particularly life under Hoxha when the

castle served as a notorious prison until 1968. The

views from the castle over the town and the valley

are stunning.

Streets of Gjirokastër.

Lake Liqeni i Viroit, near Gjirokaster.

Donʼt miss the monumental three-story Zekate

House with its twin towers, built in 1811, which

now serves as an ethnographic museum. The town

also has an interesting old bazaar. About three

kilometres (1.9 mi) north of town along the highway

to Tirana is Lake Liqeni i Viroit, a crystal clear lake

fed by a strong fountain gushing out of the rocky

hill at the upper end of the lake.

Photo Essay • Albania | 45


46 Globerovers · December 2019


Looming over the town is the 12th century Gjirokastër Castle that was

gradually built by despots and dictators over many centuries. The castle

(or fortress) is now a museum and houses tanks and downed planes as

a reminder of their victories over Western imperialism.

Photo Essay • Albania | 47


Albania’s Riviera of the Ionian Sea

East side of the Sarandë Bay.

West side of the Sarandë Bay.

48 Globerovers · December 2019


Sarandë

Sandwiched between the Ionian Sea and hills of

olive groves, Sarandë is a resort town popular

for its restaurants and entertainment atmosphere.

Located on a horseshoe-shaped bay, the hilly town

has a long promenade along a few beaches with

many beach bars and restaurants.

While the town itself doesnʼt have the historical

value of Gjirokastër, it offers a good selection of

accommodation and a wide variety of restaurants.

In recent years, tourism has flourished here. Many

visitors use Sarandë as a base to visit nearby

attractions such as the beaches to the north and

south of town, the “Blue Eye” spring in the nearby

hills, the Ottoman area mountain village of

Gjirokastër, the ancient ruins of Butrint, and the

16th-century Lëkurësi Castle on a hilltop above the

town. Sarandë is also the gateway to the nearby

Greek Island of Corfu.

Sarandë is best described as a tourist-oriented

family-friendly resort town in which to sleep, eat

and take day trips to nearby natural attractions. If

you want a less touristy place with a peaceful local

vibe, then find accommodation at Ksamil village,

just 14 kilometres (7 mi) south of Sarandë.

Photo Essay • Albania | 49


Albania’s Riviera of the Ionian Sea

50 Globerovers · December 2019


Ksamil

Located at the bottom of an isthmus squeezed

between the cobalt-coloured Adriatic Sea and a

lagoon famed for its mussels, lies the pretty beach

town of Ksamil. This is truly a beautiful spot located

near the bottom of the Albanian Riviera.

Even though tourism is on the increase, the village

is still sparsely populated with low density housing

and a couple of low-rise holiday accommodation

properties along the sea and the nearby lagoon.

Many of the beach loungers sipping their cocktails

are day-trippers from nearby Sarandë. July

and August can get quite busy here with tourists

from all over Europe so the best times to visit are

between April and June, and from September to

November.

Around Ksamil are a few interesting coves and

beaches so itʼs not difficult to find a peaceful spot

with clean turquoise waters.

Within swimming distance from the townʼs main

beach are three small islands. While the nearest

island is an easy swim, the other two will require a

lot more effort and risk due to strong currents.

Photo Essay • Albania | 51


Ksamil is known for its coves and beaches and it is hard to decide which is

the most beautiful. The main beach of Ksamil is one of the best but there are

several other sandy and rocky beaches that are just as impressive.

52 Globerovers · December 2019


Photo Essay • Albania | 53


Albania’s Riviera of the Ionian Sea

The Roman Theatre.

The Great Basilica.

54 Globerovers · December 2019


Butrint

Located in Kimanis Bay off the western coast of

Sabah, Tiga Island was formed in 1897 when

an earthquake on the Philippine island of Mindanao

caused a volcanic eruption near Borneo. Tiga

Island is one of the three islands that make up Tiga

Island National Park.

The islandʼs claim to fame is being the first ever

ʻsecretʼ location for the hit TV reality series, ʻSurvivorʼ.

Hence, many refer to Pulau Tiga as Survivor

Island.

The Venetian Tower.

Located about 10 kilometres (6 mi) off the coast,

the island is reached by a 30 to 40-minute boat

ride from the small settlement of Kuala Penyu. An

overnight stay is better than a daytrip. Stay at

the Pulau Tiga Resort which offers recreational

opportunities such a diving, fishing, billiards, and

non-motorized water sports.

The island is famous for its therapeutic natural

active mud volcanoes, however, at the time I visited

they were in a dire state. While the trails around

the island are worth the hike, the best attraction of

the island is the beaches and the incredibly beautiful

sunsets over the South China Sea.

The Great Basilica.

The Lion Gate.

Photo Essay • Albania | 55


ACTION

Trusted by travel photographers

FUJIFILM GFX 100

The world’s highest 102 million pixels resolution

delivers world-leading image quality

56 Globerovers · December 2019


57


$ensible Travel Gear

GlobeRovers recommends purchasing your $ensible Travel Gear at Amazon.com

Salomon Hiking Shoes

There are so many hiking shoes on the market so it can be a

daunting task to choose the right brand.

Salomon shoes are lightweight yet super

strong, sturdy and comfortable. I used to have

great diffi culty fi nding comfortable hiking footwear

until I discovered Salomon shoes.

I’m now so hooked on them that it is hard to

think of ever changing to another brand.

Get at amazon.com

Banglijian Strong Elastic Sports Tape

While you may not have space for

a first-aid kit in your luggage, at

least pack some highly versatile

strong elastic sports tape.

These bandages can be

effectively used in case of

blisters, cuts or scratches,

and can be a lifesaver for twisted

ankles or knee injuries on the hiking trails.

Get at amazon.com.

Trekology Trek-Z Trekking Hiking Poles

Don’t think that walking sticks and trekking

poles are only for senior citizens. Using one

or two hiking sticks for any kind of hiking

can make the experience more pleasant by

protecting your knees, and helping to prevent

you from falling.

The Trek-Z Ergonomic Trekking Poles (set

of 2) help prevent knee injuries and support

your weight, so you can hike comfortably.

Get at amazon.com

AcousticSheep SleepPhones

Developed to help you fall

asleep naturally, this headband

with built-in speakers

connects with most

devices to create a quiet

personal space while in

bed or on the road.

The ultra-thin, fl at speakers are comfortable

to wear while sleeping on your side.

Get at amazon.com

Portable Safe Bag

Hide any valuables, travel gadgets, electronics,

gear and important documents

while you’re travelling. It looks

like a canvas bag, but it is

made of stainless steel wire

mesh embedded into the

fabric and includes a combination

lock. Comes in two

sizes: 5L and 12L. Available

in different colours.

Get at amazon.com

Coleman Sundome 6 Tent

Camping is a great way to get close to nature and to save money on

accommodation. Whether travelling solo, with a friend, or kids, travellers

often complain that a 2-person tent

is too small for comfort.

No more excuses. Try this 10’x10’

with 72” centre height tent which

comfortably sleeps four people. It

takes less than 10 minutes to set up

and weighs just 7 kg (16 lbs).

Get at amazon.com

58 Globerovers · December 2019


globerovers

Travel Magazine

— for the intrepid traveller —

Download

GlobeRovers App

Join us on our

WORLD WIDE

Intrepid Travels

We go many extra miles to bring you

stories, travel tips, and photos

from far away places

Available

for FREE on:

59


Article

Svalbard

Dog sledding in search of Polar Bears

Spitsbergen, Svalbard Islands

Admire the white-covered Arctic desert from a sled

pulled by six energetic huskies. This adrenaline-infused

adventure in search of the elusive polar bears is one of

the highlights of the Svalbard Islands.

60 Globerovers · December 2019


Svalbard

Gateway to the North Pole

Ever fantasised about being on top of the

world? Geographically speaking, you have

a few choices: northern parts of Canada,

Greenland, Norway, or Russia. These are

the only four countries where you can be close to the

top of the world, and therefore close to the North Pole.

While a North Pole expedition would be the cherry

on the cake, many of us can neither afford nor successfully

complete such a strenuous endeavour. Getting

to the most northern reaches of Canada, Greenland,

or Russia will require a substantial amount of money,

preparation, and determination. The best option is

Norway, but we’re not talking about Norway in continental

Europe. We are talking about the Norwegian

islands at the most northern reaches of the planet.

Welcome to the Svalbard Islands. Formerly

known by the Dutch name of Spitsbergen, the group

of Svalbard Islands (Spitsbergen being the largest),

is a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean. The

name Svalbard means “cold coasts” which was first

mentioned in Icelandic

texts in the 12th

century. The location

of the islands ranges

from 74° to 81° north

latitude, and from 10°

to 35° east longitude, and about 1,000 kilometres (621

mi) from the North Pole.

several of the remaining coal mines, followed by a

cleanup of the surrounding areas. This will bring an

end to the more than 100-year-long era of coal mining

in Svalbard.

Nowadays, Svalbard is better known for scientific

research, polar bear spotting, North Pole expeditions,

and a few tourists who want to get close to the top of

the world.

Svalbard is an all-year-round destination. Nearly

65 per cent of its surface consists of protected areas,

including three nature reserves, six national parks and

15 bird sanctuaries.

The islands are also home to the Global Seed Vault

which is located deep inside a mountain on Spitsbergen.

Here the world’s largest diversity of crop seeds are

protected in the event of loss of seeds in other genebanks

during large-scale regional or global crises.

Located far north of the Arctic Circle, it experiences

the midnight sun which lasts from mid-April

until mid-August. This

means no darkness

for about 100 days.

Winter, on the other

hand, is bitterly cold

when the polar night

of darkness starts towards the end of October and

lasts till mid-February.

Located in the Arctic Ocean, halfway between Norway

and the North Pole, the Svalbard Islands offer untouched

arctic wilderness and unique wildlife.

These islands have a long history which includes

the Norse, English, Danish, Dutch, Russian and

French peoples. Following fierce claims of ownership

by several nations, full sovereignty was granted to

Norway in 1920 at the signing of the Svalbard Treaty

in Paris, France. However, the treaty gave other signatory

states, such as Russia, the right to engage in the

exploitation of local natural resources.

The resource-rich islands also have a history of

walrus and whale hunting and extensive coal mining

mainly by the Russians and their allies from the

former USSR. Mining was established here during the

1920s, and it remains an industry to this day, albeit

small. Norway recently declared their intent to close

Svalbard is an amazing sight during winter. Everything

is white, covered in snow and ice. The best time

to visit during the winter period is from late February

to late March when winter is still in full force but

the total darkness has given way to some light on the

southern horizon.

Come along and spend a few days on Spitsbergen,

the largest and only permanently populated island of

the Svalbard archipelago. While based in the small

town of Longyearbyen, it is easy to take day trips

with the husky dogs and snowmobiles while looking

for polar bears, go ice caving, and have a hot chocolate

inside the Noorderlicht sailboat lying frozen in

Templefjorden.

Article • Svalbard |

61


Svalbard Islands - North Pole Adventures

Typical housing for residents of Longyearbyen.

The frozen bay and snow covered mountains north of Longyearbyen.

62 Globerovers · December 2019


Longyearbyen

World’s northernmost settlement of any kind

with more than 1,000 permanent residents.

Longyearbyen, the administrative

centre of Svalbard, is a lively

Arctic cosmopolitan settlement

on Spitsbergen Island with about 2,100

residents hailing from almost 50 different

countries. While most (76%) are Norwegian,

you will also find some Swedes,

Danes, Russians, Ukrainians, Germans,

Americans, Thais, and many other nationalities.

Most of its residents are scientists and

nature enthusiasts who live in close unity

under tough climatic conditions. Those

who are not directly involved in scientific

research, are somehow involved in the science

community, tourism industry, or supporting

services such as retailing, banking,

education and medical.

Serving as the gateway to the High Arctic

wilderness, Longyearbyen is also where

tourists base themselves for day trips and

multi-day trips into the Arctic landscape

that virtually starts right outside of town

and continues into the abyss. In rare instances,

the wilderness, in the form of polar

bears, even comes to roam around town.

While the town is tiny, it features

everything needed by the residents and

the small but growing tourist population.

The range of services on offer to residents

and tourists is surprisingly extensive, and

includes a medical clinic, primary and secondary

schools, a small research university

with about 300 students, sports centre,

a shopping mall, library, culture centre,

cinema, a supermarket, hotels and guest

houses, a bank, restaurants and bars, and

even a few museums and galleries. In addition,

you will also find a local brewery for

fresh beer, a chocolaterie, and greenhouses

that supply fresh herbs and vegetables in

winter.

In mid-winter, February, the temperature

in Longyearbyen varies from -30°C

to -15°C (-22°F - 5°F) while the windchill

can drop the thermometer down to -40°C

(-40°F). While winters are dark and bitterly

cold, life does not stand still here.

Among the popular winter activities are

walking through glacier caves, snowmobile

riding, cross-country skiing, and dog-sled

safaris. All activities can easily be arranged

from agencies in town.

Cold winter nights are also a good time

for spotting the spectacular Aurora Borealis,

or Northern Lights, dancing across

the skies. As winter nights are bitterly cold,

you are in for a cold night outside while

waiting for the lights to flare up. However,

once they start to dance across the night

skies, you will realise it was worth the long

cold wait.

Longyearbyen is not the only settlement

on Svalbard. The current permanent

population across the islands is about

2,700 people, of which about 500 live in

ethnic Russian and Ukrainian settlements.

The majority of these are in Barentsburg

and a few other residents in the largely

abandoned coal mining settlement of

Pyramiden.

Among the people living in the Russian

settlements, the majority (75%) are

Ukrainian, but there are also Russians and

Tajiks. In addition, there are also a couple

of souls living in very remote locations

scattered across the islands, often in solitary

confinement.

Svalbard Church is part of the Church of Norway.

Article • Svalbard | 63


Dog Sledding

Harness your dogs and head into the

white horizons looking for polar bears.

Dog sledding is arguably the

most exciting winter fun activity

that Svalbard offers. While

the huskies so gently pull the sled across

a snow-covered Arctic landscape, all you

will hear is the sound of the eager dogs’

heavy breathing and the crunch of the sled

sliding through the thick snow and patches

of ice. Sit back and admire the white Arctic

landscape on days of dim sunlight or even

at night under the moonlight or beneath

the magical Northern Lights.

Tickets can be booked a day or two in

advance at a travel agency in town. Depending

on the company you booked with,

early in the morning you will be taken

about 5 km (3 mi) out of town to where

the dog kennels are located.

On arrival at the kennels, you will

meet the stars of the race. Each husky lives

in its own raised wooden doghouse with

its name proudly displayed above the entrance.

Look out for Nanoq, Troika, Jokul,

Franklin, Marfi, Truge, Martin, Hobbit,

Gandalf and many more of their friends.

While some dogs are shy and introverted,

others will be

exhilarated

by your visit.

Most of the

dogs are adorable,

and you

will notice a

few with deep blue eyes, even some with

one brown and one blue eye.

Your guide will first introduce you to

the principles of dog sledding and then

carefully pick your six dogs. You will be

trained to harness the dogs, and also to

fit booties that protect their feet from the

sharp ice. This is tricky as the dogs are

overly excited to start running. Hold your

dogs firmly, one at a time, and place the

harness around the body and then clip the

dog’s leashes (tuglines and necklines) to

the mainline (gangline) that connects all

six of them. Once your dogs are in place,

you’d better immediately jump into your

bucket-sled before the dogs leave without

you!

With two people to a sled, one sits in

the bucket or

basket while

the sledding

partner, referred

to as the

musher, stands

on the footboard

at the back of the sled. The musher’s

main purpose is to control the speed of the

sled by stepping on the snow-brakes.

Dog sledding on the Svalbard Islands is a day full of

excitement. Let the dogs search for polar bears, but

you better hope they don’t find them.

It is crucial to firmly control the dogs

because when going downhill, they can

reach dangerously high speeds. Without

controlling the speed of the sled, it can

travel faster than the dogs which could

be catastrophic. In particular, on areas of

64 Globerovers · December 2019


Svalbard Islands - North Pole Adventures

hard ice, the sled can easily slide faster

than the dogs can run. It is an eerie feeling

when your bucket overtakes the dogs. I’ll

never forget the way the dogs looked at my

scared face when this happened to us.

In the unfortunate event that your

bucket travels faster than the dogs and you

can’t slow it down, you must ensure that

you don’t run into the dogs from behind.

Buckets don’t have steering wheels or any

steering mechanism. The only way to steer

is for both the musher and the person sitting

in the bucket to wiggle the direction

of the bucket with their weight.

If your bucket passes your dogs, and

you can’t slow down with the snow-brakes,

which come in many designs, some sleds

have a second option called a claw-break.

This type of brake is only used in an emergency

and works like a ship’s anchor.

Tied to a short rope, when you plunge

this iron claw into the snow, both the dogs

and the sled will come to a rapid stop,

which could injure man and beast alike.

The final option to stop the running dogs

is to deliberately topple your sled.

While this will bring the dogs to a halt,

it is going to be a rather traumatic experience

to all involved. Should you take this

option and the bucket topples, make sure

to cling on to the sled for dear life. If you

don’t, the dogs most likely will keep running

back to the kennels with the empty

bucket in tow. You will then have to walk

all the way back to the kennels where the

dogs will be waiting.

On very cold days, you will also see the

dogs are well prepared with their colourful

booties, jackets, leggings, as well as belly

raps for the females to protect their teats,

especially if they recently gave birth, and

male wraps for the males to protect their

penises from getting frostbite.

Just to prove how cold it can get here,

do the “snow-puff ” test. Throw up a cup of

hot water and see it literally exploding into

drifting snowflakes.

Article • Svalbard | 65


66 Globerovers · December 2019


Article • Svalbard | 67


Svalbard Islands - North Pole Adventures

Join the Noorderlicht on an Arctic cruise to see

the Aurora Borealis, whales, polar bears, walruses,

reindeer and stunning landscapes.

Since 1994 the ‘Noorderlicht’ has been sailing around the waters of Svalbard and Norway.

During this time the ship has become an indispensable part of the Arctic area and is loved

by many. Because of its small size and draft, the ship offers a great way to discover the

remote areas of Spitsbergen and Norway.

The ship is authentically decorated which gives a cozy, informal and

nautical atmosphere on board. There is a spacious seating area in the

upper and lower deck salon for a maximum of 20 passengers.

It also has a small library with informative materials about the area,

as well as some fi ne novels. A small but cozy bar can be found in the

upper deck salon.

Contact us: info@noorderlicht.nu Website: noorderlicht.nu Bookings: info@oceanwide-expeditions.com

68 Globerovers · December 2019


Ice Caving

Climb deep down into the jaws of the

glaciers to see a surreal world.

Around 60% of the Svalbard

archipelago is covered with

glaciers. Svalbard is also home

to Norway’s largest glacier, the Austfonna,

which is the world’s third-largest ice cap

after Antarctica and Greenland, with a

circumference of 200 kilometres (124

mi). Located on the Island of Nordaustlandet

it is 560 metres (1,837 ft) thick

and the dome reaches an elevation of

783 metres (2,570 ft) above sea level.

Many of Svalbard’s glaciers contain

endless passages formed by the melting

waters in summer, creating impressive

cathedral-like ice caves. When you walk on

a seemingly flat plateau of snow and ice, it

is hard to imagine that beneath you lies a

frozen wonderland of endless caverns, tunnels,

and frozen streams.

Equipped with a powerful headlamp,

crampons and a helmet, it is possible to enter

some of these caves. Ensure your guide

offers crampons and a helmet as the frozen

streams in the caves are very slippery. A

slip and fall on the hard ice is not pleasant

and can sometimes be fatal.

Entering some of the caves is not for

the faint of heart. In some instances, you

need to climb down a straight upright ladder

and then slide down a short rope into

what feels like an abyss.

The extremely cold climate means that

Svalbard’s glaciers are solid and safe though

caverns with stalactites form during the short

summer months.

Just relax and enter this calm and

deadly silent subglacial wonderworld to

see the surreal, beautiful blue coloured

stalactites, stalagmites, icicles and snow

crystals. If you are lucky, you may even see

1,000-year-old remnants of frozen plants. If

very lucky, you may just discover a frozen

dinosaur fossil.

Turn off all man-made lights and you

will be complete darkness, the likes of

which you may never have experienced.

Ice caving is often combined with dog

sledding. Your team of eager huskies will

take you over the vast white snow-covered

horizons to the glaciers. They will wait patiently

outside the cave entrance until you

have finished exploring. Other options to

reach the caves include driving by snowmobile

right up to the entrance of the cave

or being driven in comfort in a snowcat.

If you are fit enough, get there by walking

on your snowshoes, or by cross country

skiing.

While the temperature inside the cave

is a balmy minus 2 degrees Celsius, on the

surface it can go down to -30°C (-22°F),

and much lower with the windchill factor.

It is therefore essential to dress warmly.

The adventure travel operators in Longyearbyen

are fully equipped so whether

you travel by snowmobile, dog sled, or any

other way, they have the right jackets and

coverall jumpsuits to guard you against the

extreme weather.

Article • Svalbard | 69


Photographing the arctic landscape while standing on a snow-covered glacier

along the east coast is a challenging task. At -35°C (-31°F) on a sunny day,

camera batteries freeze up within a few minutes. Throw hot water from a tea

fl ask into the air and it literally explodes into tiny ice fl akes.

70 Globerovers · December 2019


Article • Svalbard | 71


Polar Bear Spotting

While there are about 3,000 bears on the

islands, in winter you may not see any.

While Svalbard is a land of glaciers

and Arctic wilderness,

it is also home to polar bears.

Spotting the bears is not only the most

exhilarating adventure on the islands, it is

also the most dangerous.

Around Svalbard, polar bears are a

real danger all year round. When you are

travelling out of town you must be with a

qualified guide who must, by law, carry a

shotgun. Take this warning very seriously.

Don’t even wander a little way out of town

72 Globerovers · December 2019

without someone carrying a gun. Even be

careful around town at night. Some tourists

have been eaten by hungry bears right

in Longyearbyen, and also on the hills

surrounding the town.

In winter there are at least 500 polar

bears on the main islands of Svalbard and

another 2,500 in the wider region which

stretches all the way to the North Pole.

However, to see polar bears in winter is

like finding a needle in a haystack. Not

only do the bears roam a very large area,

but they are also perfectly camouflaged in

surroundings almost entirely covered in

snow and ice. If you are polar bear spotting

in winter, the bears will most likely spot

you without you knowing it. That could be

fatal!

The east coast of Spitsbergen is generally

colder than the west coast due to the

distance from the gulf stream. This means

more sea ice, more seals, and thus better

conditions for polar bears. From Longyearbyen,

we left early in the morning by

snowmobiles and continued east through

the Esker valley and out through the Sassen

valley. After almost 200 km (124 mi),

we arrived in Mohn Bay on the far east

coast. Here we enjoyed a picnic lunch in

front of the mighty glacier face, while all

the time keeping our eyes peeled for any

signs of polar bears.

Another good option during the winter

months is to book a cabin in the 46 metre

(151 ft) long steel-hulled Noorderlicht

sailboat. Originally constructed in 1910 for

the German Navy fleet as a three-masted

schooner, in 1991 she was completely

remodelled and refitted with two masts.

Since then she has been operating as an

expedition cruiser sailing to more remote


Svalbard Islands - North Pole Adventures

such as the Noorderlicht. The Noorderlicht

slowly cruises around the islands, in

particular, the northernmost islands which

are snow covered all-year-round and surrounded

by ice, the ideal hunting place

for bears. From the sailboat, the bears can

easily be spotted, although she has 2 rigidhulled

inflatable boats on board to be used

for landings and for wildlife watching in

inaccessible areas. In addition to the bears,

look out for Arctic fox, reindeer, whales,

walrus, seals, and rare bird species such as

the ivory gull, the little auk, and the puffin.

Another good option in summer is to

stay in a luxury lodge perched at the edge

of the magnificent Nordenskiöld glacier.

The Nordenskiöld glacier is part of the

larger glacier system stretching all the way

to the north coast of Spitsbergen Island.

Arctic locations, particularly around the

Svalbard Islands. In winter, when much of

the sea around the islands is frozen, she is

intentionally frozen into Tempelfjorden,

30 km northeast of Longyearbyen. Here

she peacefully serves as base-camp accommodation

for Arctic voyages, and as a

guesthouse for those who want to see the

bears. She will wait here until the thawing

of the oceans, at which time she will start

cruising around the islands, fully booked

with polar bear spotting teams.

The sailboat has 10 simple, but comfortable,

twin cabins with upper and lower

berths, a cupboard and washbasin. There

are also four shared showers and toilets

on board. It has a cosy communal area

where delicious food such as freshly baked

bread is served. From the comforts of the

sailboat, keep your eyes peeled on the surrounding

ice and snow of the fjord. If you

are lucky, you may see a polar bear or two

lured closer to the sailboat by the smell of

fresh human flesh. Keep the doors locked!

During some winter months, the

Noorderlicht offers 7-day voyages from

Tromsø, on the Norwegian mainland.

During these voyages, passengers can admire

the magnificent landscapes, wildlife,

picturesque villages and beautiful Arctic

Northern Lights. In winter, the fjords of

the northern part of Norway are filled with

various species of whales that feed on the

herring and other fish.

From April until October during the

24-hours sunshine a day in the summer

months, there is much less ice and snow

so the bears congregate around the pack

ice regions along the northern shores of

Svalbard. This is the ideal time of the year

to spot them, normally from a boat cruise,

The Nordenskiöld Lodge, with its

expedition cabins, offers wildlife spotting

excursions, including for polar bears.

Enjoy summer dog sledding and then join

a boat expedition around the coast to spot

walruses, whales, and polar bears along the

shores.

Other adventures offered by the lodge

include guided glacier climbs, kayaking,

and sightseeing. At the end of the day,

relax in a steaming hot sauna! In summer,

the lodge is reached by the 12-person

Polarcirkel boat, and in wintertime, you

will arrive on your own snowmobile across

frozen fjords and mighty glaciers.

The lodge offers 5 bedrooms, all with

great Arctic views, ten comfortable beds,

an indoor toilet, and a traditional wood

sauna. Don’t expect running water or

electricity, and get your drinking water

by melting ice from the glacier. A true

adventure.

Article • Svalbard | 73


The 46 metre (151 ft) long steel-hulled Noorderlicht sailboat sits solidly frozen in

Templefjord Bay during the winter months. Arrive by dog sled and stay a few nights.

If you are lucky, you will see the polar bears from your window, and hopefully by

then the dogs have left for the safety of their dens near Longyearbyen.

74 Globerovers · December 2019


Article • Svalbard | 75


10 Experiences on Svalbard

Awesome

Located about 1,000 kilometres (621 mi) from the North Pole, the Norwegian-administered Svalbard Islands are packed with

adventure, all year round. Start your trip in the main settlement of Longyearbyen where it is easy to spend a few days with the

local residents while planning trips outside into the Arctic wilderness. In winter, the Arctic gets bitterly cold which is an adventure

in itself. Get on a snowmobile, dogsled, cross-country skis, snowshoes, or a snow buggy and head into the unknown.

1

Top-of-the World Feeling

There is nothing on planet earth that beats the feeling of

“I’m on top of the world”. I first had that special feeling when

I was on Norway’s Lofoten Islands, 500 kilometres (311 mi)

south of Svalbard. On the Lofoten Islands I also experienced

the never-ending “white nights” when the sun is high up and

bright 24 hours a day.

Here on the Svalbard Islands, the sun hardly peeks out

above the horizon during the day in winter. At night, it goes

down to make way for the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

to paint the skies in soft hues of green and blue. The silence

of the never-ending snow-covered landscape is so surreal.

2 Polar Bear Spotting 3 Dog Sledding 4 Snowmobiling

There are an estimated 3,000 polar bears

(which by far exceeds the human population)

roaming the Svalbard archipelago

and the surrounding Arctic Ocean and the

Barents Sea.

While humans are constantly reminded

to be prepared for an encounter with the

bears anywhere in Svalbard, they are not

easy to spot. They are endangered and

protected by law, so there are no polar

bear safaris. Head out by snowmobile

and dogsled and hope you can spot them,

without becoming their lunch.

76 Globerovers · December 2019

While dog sledding is the more adventurous,

albeit risky way to find the polar

bears, it is also one of the most thrilling

adventures you can take in this snow and

ice-covered landscape. If you love dogs,

in particular huskies, then this is an adventure

you should not miss.

The dogs are very loving of their human

visitors, and enjoy the ride as much as

their guests. Once harnessing is completed,

you’d better quickly jump in the bucket

before the dogs leave without you. Enjoy

the ride and stay upright.

One of the safest ways to search for the

bears is by snowmobile. At least, your

getaway vehicle is faster and more reliable

than the huskies and their sled.

Tour operators from Longyearbyen provide

a heavy-duty snowmobile suit, boots,

mittens, helmet, goggles and balaclava.

In winter it can be bitterly cold when driving

on the snowmobile and any exposed

skin will freeze in a few seconds. Routes

include a 100 km trip to the east coast

where bears often congregate on the drifting

sea ice in search of leopard seals.


5 Ice Caving 6 Northern Lights 7 Glacier Hiking

Another unforgettable and unrivalled

experience of Svalbard is getting close-up

to the glaciers. Svalbard is blessed with

some of the most impressive glaciers,

though in winter you can walk on a glacier

without knowing it, as everything is covered

in thick snow.

If you come across a hole in the snow, with

a ladder leading into the abyss, your adventure

starts! Down below, follow the meltwater

channels through the moraine. Under tons

of ice and snow, you will be surrounded by a

landscape consisting of ice and stalactites.

Seeing the Northern Lights (aurora borealis)

is on many travellers’ bucket lists.

During the polar night from November to

February, there is no daylight in Svalbard,

which makes it the ideal location to see

these lights fi lling the polar skies.

Svalbard is one of the few places on earth

where you can see the Northern Lights

during daytime hours, when there is no

sunlight from November to February. In

October and February you can enjoy the

blue Arctic light during the day and the

Northern Lights at night. Amazing!

Svalbard is covered by eight ice caps, and

several glaciers. Some operators out of

Longyearbyen offer hiking on the heavily

crevassed Nordenskiöld Glacier. Here you

can hike, while roped to your buddies, up

and down the glacier, staring down the

massive cracks, and enjoying the shiny

glacier surface.

Other ways to see the glaciers are to go

where they are protruding from the snow,

descending into the glacier caves, or by

kayaking in icy waters to get up close. All

are spectacular!

8 The Noorderlicht 9 Longyearbyen 10 Summer Fun

Constructed in 1910 for the German Navy

fl eet, the 46 metre (151 ft) long steel-hulled

Noorderlicht sailboat sits solidly frozen in

Templefjord Bay during the winter months.

Here she peacefully serves as base-camp

accommodation for Arctic voyages, and

as a guesthouse for those who want to

see the polar bears. Arrive by dog sled or

snowmobile and stay a few nights. If you

are lucky, you will see the bears from your

window. During summer, the boat cruises

around the islands and offers a perfect way

to see the bears on ice-covered areas.

Longyearbyen is a lively, cosmopolitan

Arctic settlement on Spitsbergen Island,

the main centre of the Svalbard

Islands. This is where many of Svalbard’s

residents live, with most of them being

scientists, nature enthusiasts, and those

in service industries such as shops, travel

operators, and a few others.

Longyearbyen serves as gateway to the

High Arctic wilderness. While the town is

very small, it provides everything needed

by the residents and the small but growing

tourist population.

While visiting the Svalbard Islands during

the winter months is an adventure you

won’t get anywhere else, summers offer a

very different kind of experience.

During summer, daylight is 24 hours long,

so you can explore the islands non-stop.

This is also the best time to spot polar

bears, as there is less snow, and icy

areas where they can hunt for seals. With

less snow coverage, more of the glaciers

are visible than in winter when everything

is covered in snow. Summer is also the

time to see a wider variety of wildlife.

Article • Svalbard | 77


Overtourism

The Earth

is calling us to action

For billions and billions of

years our planet Earth has

whizzed quite happily around

the sun. Sure there’s been

tectonic collisions, ages of ice, volcanic

eruptions, but that’s how ecosystems and

diversity have evolved over millions of

years - very slowly. Yet in the last 70 years

all that has changed - the hand of man has

brought about radical and unprecedented

transformation.

By Fuchsia Sims, Adventure Junky

Fuchsia is the co-founder of Adventure Junky, an app

that makes a game of sustainable travel practices,

awarding you points for completing or contributing

low-impact experiences and showcasing destinations

and travel operators that offer them. Friends can play

against one another, or you can compete globally for the

Eco bragging rights of #1 Adventure Junky on earth.

In 1950 only 25 million people crossed

international borders, and being an explorer

was seen as a risky career not hobby nor

luxury. Last year 1.4 billion people crossed

international borders. That’s almost 4 million

people going on a holiday every single day!

Today mass and mainstream exploration

has officially erupted, stretching

far and wide across the globe. Thanks to

cheaper air fares, rising incomes, social

media’s ability to fuel ‘Instagramable” locations

and FOMO - who knows how much

longer you’ll be able to see a Polar Bear in

the wild, or visit the Maldives while they’re

above water.

What’s even more frightening is that

by 2030 today’s travellers are set to double!

Even today, many places can no longer

cope or escape their own popularity, so we

must ask the hard questions - are our environments

and cultures resilient enough to

withstand the stampede?

There are plenty of examples to show

they are not - from overtourism, cultural

erosion, plastic waste, rapidly rising C02

emissions, wildlife exploitation to mass

and irreversible habitat loss. All of which

negatively impact the lives of locals and the

authenticity and quality of your experience

as a traveller.

78 Globerovers · December 2019

Adventure Junky - adventurejunky.earth

Now it’s not all doom and gloom, when

managed well travel is an incredibly powerful

force - it creates jobs, attracts investment

and drives infrastructure development.

Sustainable and regenerative travel

practices improve livelihood, education

levels and quality of life for local people. It

can also refocus energy and action towards

conservation, helping preserve cultural

traditions and protect wildlife.

Travel must contribute as much to the

wellbeing of the people and places we visit

- as to our own.


To achieve this win-win when we travel

we must reframe our mindset, behaviours,

practices and expectations. We must take

accountability for our impact on the world

we love exploring. We cannot rely on government

or grassroots, cruise lines, airlines

or other travel business to do the right

thing, we must be the eyes and ears on the

ground. It is our responsibility to take part

in and promote healthy travel experiences

because our choices are fast become a vote

for the future of this planet.

Here are ‘Seven Commandments’ to

follow if you truly are on a mission to

answer earth’s call to action, and become a

more responsible and sustainable traveller:

1. Become an Offsetter

It’s ironic that as passionate travellers

with a deeper appreciation of the beauty

of our planet than most, that through our

travels we producing roughly 3x the CO2

emissions of the average citizen.

Tourism accounts for 8% of global CO2

emissions, with long haul flights being the

major contributor. To put this into perspective,

an individual flying from Sydney

to London return generates approximately

6 metric tonnes of CO2 - this is more than

the entire annual emissions of the average

Italian and is enough to melt a staggering

18 square meters of Arctic sea ice forever.

Go climate positive today, sign up here

to offset your personal and travel emissions

at www.adventurejunky.earth/offset.

2. Explore Your Own Backyard

Keep an eye out closer to home. When

you start looking you’ll likely be amazed by

what is around you. It’s good to stay close

for a few reasons. Firstly you’ll probably

travel and get out on your weekends more

often, get to meet and support local businesses.

Also you’ll lower your travel footprint

on the environment. I’m not saying

don’t ever travel far, just mix it up. Travel

helps us grow and develop as individuals,

it’s important to experience other places

and cultures. But we all need to start understanding

there is a real impact behind our

choices if we really hope to help the Earth.

3. Refuse, Reduce, Recycle

Travel is an enormous generator of

waste from food to plastic. I don’t know

about you but I definitely feel guilty when

I look around at all the single use items

when I fly. So I always carry my trusted

cup and thermos, sometimes I’m even

known to have a spork in my bag. This

really is about changing you patterns of behaviours

and standing up for what you feel

strongly about - it is simple just say NO

to single use items! This year alone over 8

North Sailing - www.northsailing.is

Contribution | 79


Overtourism

Visit Greenland - www.visitgreenland.com

million tonnes of plastic waste has been

dumped in the ocean. It is also important

to note that when we travel to less developed

countries one of the biggest problems

they face is adequate waste management

and recycling systems - so please be more

aware and play a positive role.

4. Know thy Operator

Researching as much as you can about

your tour operator and the region they

operate in is a massive way to leave a positive

impact in the wake of ones travels.

There are some remarkable tour operators

out there in the world, that work hard every

single day to not only ensure that you

have a safe and sensational experience,

but that the people and places they work

around are taken care of. From ice climbing

companies who’ve set up initiatives

to train local women to guide, to gigantic

schooner sailing boats that have had their

engines rebuilt to be electric which not

only help the environment but removes

noise pollution for whales, to family owed

rafting companies who have been protecting

their river for several generations.

Th e back ground stories and initiatives

some companies are working on are often

hidden so dive in deep and be sure you are

supporting the right one.

You’ll find over a thousand of these

types of adventures on the Adventure

Junky App.

5 Take the Path Less Travelled

Avoid the mass and mainstream at all

cost. Walk off the beaten path, visit places

you have never head of or the places you

have off peak season.

6. Return to Nature

Deep with in our DNA is a desire to

reconnect. But we’ve come so far from our

origins that we now call it an ‘adventure’ to

step back into nature… Be sure to wander

where the WiFi is weak, you cant help

but find a better connection. Let nature

recharge your long life battery - unplug,

be present, open your mind and break

away from tech tunnel vision and burnout.

Finding places on earth with no reception

is rare, the new form of luxury, enjoy those

moments as often as possible.

7. Local Wisdom and Knowledge

Some of the richest, more meaningful

travel experiences come with genuine cultural

exchange. Meeting the locals, learning,

sharing and immersing into their way

of life almost becoming a ‘tourist in camouflage’

is the greatest way to travel. Finding

opportunities to directly engage with the

local people when it comes to buying food

and gifts also helps keeps money within

their community and helps provide a circular

economy. Wherever possible you should

strive to support ethical businesses, brands

and craftsman. Personally spending time

with the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land

or sitting with a Himba Tribe in Namibia,

have been some of my most rewarding and

memorable experiences.

Finally I encourage you to join our

tribe, become an Adventure Junky.

An Adventure Junky is a conscious and

mindful traveller. They see the advantage

of small groups versus mass tours. They

aim to leave the community and environment

with a net gain. They look for opportunities

to give back, to learn, to buy local,

80 Globerovers · December 2019


to travel lightly and respectfully. They want

to share their experiences and educate others

what they learn along the way.

Remember, you’re not just one traveller,

you’re a growing 1.4 billion of them!

Imagine if we all travelled with passion,

purpose and a common goal - we’d not

only combat the negative effects and challenges

tourism faces, we’d also ensure there

is a diverse and thriving planet for future

generations to explore.

About Fuchsia Claire Sims

By age ten, Fuchsia had visited 30 countries and knew how to say ‘I’m a vegetarian’

in 12 languages. After school she ran away to the jungles of Costa Rica, where she

worked as a river guide, helping troubled youth re-build their self-esteem.

Having spent the past decade juggling marketing and mountains, Fuchsia has found

her calling as co-founder of the Adventure Junky App. In 2019 Fuchsia embarked on

a PhD expedition, her focus: AI enabled Adventure Travel to help adventurers create

a more positive personal impact. Fuchsia is on a mission to transform the future of

adventure travel and enhance the overall wellbeing of our planet and society.

More about Fuchsia at www.linkedin.com/in/fuchsiasims

About Adventure Junky

Earth’s Sustainable Travel Game

Adventure Junky is a community of

conscious and responsible travellers, tour

operators and destination managers, committed

to making tourism a force for good.

The Adventure Junky App (available

on iPhone and Android) is more than fun

and games, the app is an ecosystem

for leaders in sustainability - travellers,

destinations, operators, gear suppliers or

apparel companies alike, who are combining

forces to achieve greater good.

Adventure Junky aims to infl uence the

future of travel through:

1. Readily accessible, sustainable

travel experiences. The free Adventure

Junky App currently features over 1,300

adventures in 100+ countries, handpicked

for their low impact and high

experience.

2. By turning Sustainable Travel into a

game - for the environment, not the ego -

we helping nudge travellers towards their

goals and educate and reward them with

fun along the way.

3. Offering practical solutions to the

most pressing problems arising from tourism

- such as overtourism and CO2 emissions

– through awareness and education

programs and direct initiatives.

Find out more at:

www.adventurejunky.earth

Lirrwi Tourism - www.lirrwitourism.com.au

Contribution | 81


Mauritius island: Part 2

Districts, beaches, islets, shopping

Indian ocean

Words by Janet-Lynn Vorster,

Cape Town, South Africa.

Photos by Janet-Lynn and others.

In our series, Island LIFE, our Southern Africa correspondent, Janet-Lynn Vorster, takes us

2,000 kilometres (1,243 mi) east of the South African coast to the tropical Indian Ocean island

of Mauritius. In the 1st part of her article GlobeRovers Magazine of July 2019 she introduced

us to life on the island and took us to many beautiful spots on the island, we went swimming

with dolphins and heard stories about the shipwrecks scattered around the island. In this 2nd

part she now takes us to all 9 districts of the island, its islets, markets, beaches, and more.

In the July 2019 issue we featured

part one on the beautiful island of

Mauritius. We focused on the climate,

life in Mauritius, the botanical

gardens, Mauritius Tea Route, the sugar

industry, and swam with the dolphins. We

added tips for travellers and piqued your

curiosity on a few more topics.

In this second part on Mauritius, we

look at Mauritius, district by district, each

with a few of its main attractions and

beaches. We discover a few of the islets

around Mauritius and give some ideas of

where to shop and which bazaars to visit.

We wrap it up with useful information on

how to negotiate with the local taxi drivers.

Mauritius boasts ten 18-hole and three

9-hole golf courses. It also boasts what is

claimed to be the longest zipline in the

world. So, while a peaceful island, it has

enough to keep the sports enthusiasts and

thrill seekers happy too.

“Mauritius was made first

and then heaven.”

Mark Twain

Indian Ocean

Mauritius

Island

Fast Facts: Mauritius

Size:

2,040 sq. km (790 sq. mi)

Ethnicity:

Multi-ethnic, descended from India, Africa, Chinese and Europe (mostly France)

Official language; English

Most spoken language: 84% Creole, 5.3% Bhojpuri-Hindustani, 3.6% French and 14.4% others (including English)

Religion: Hinduism is the major religion (48.54%), followed by Roman Catholic (26.26%), Islam (17.30%),

other Christian (5.54%) and Buddhism (0.18%)

Population: 1.265 million (2017)

Life expectancy: 74.40 years (2016)

Fertility rate: 1.40 births per woman (2016)

Population growth: 0.1% annual change (2017); among the lowest population growth rates in the developing world

Malaria status: Mosquitoes, but no malaria

Electrical Standards: Electrical current is 220/50 (volts/hz). UK Style Adaptor Plug and European Style Adaptor Plug.

Grounding Adaptor Plugs C, D

Per capita income: Mauritius is seen as a model of stability and economic prosperity

Coastline:

177 km

Agricultural land: 43.8%

Forest: 17.3%

Highest point: Piton de la Petite Rivière Noire: 828 m

Natural resources: Arable land, fish

National bird: Dodo. This flightless bird is now extinct

National Flower: Trochetia Boutoniana (Boucle d’Oreille or Earring tree)

82 Globerovers · December 2019


Island LIFE

Mauritius, Indian Ocean

The Districts of Mauritius

We travel anti-clockwise around Mauritius

and first visit the Rivière du Rempart

area in the north before we travel along

the west coast to Port Louis and down to

Moka, Plaines Wilhems and the Black River.

From here we went to the far south to

the Savanne District that is one of the most

scenic, unspoilt and least populated areas

on the island. We conclude our trip around

the island in the areas of Grand Port and

Flacq on the eastern side of Mauritius.

The North:

Rivière du Rempart Area

The northern part of the island is

popular for its languid, lazy, beach holidays.

The sea is calm and beaches plentiful.

For the more adventurous, it is great

for snorkelling, sailing, diving, kitesurfing

or visiting the many islands close to the

main island. Yemaya Adventures offers sea

kayaking, mountain biking, hiking and

team building activities for all levels, with

complete respect towards nature preservation.

Glass bottom boats are popular and are

a fun way to observe and photograph the

beautiful, colourful fish.

If rum is your drink of choice, pay a

visit to Litchquor Ltd (Lychee and liqueur)

in Petit Raffray, where the best rums on

the island are sourced and outstanding

premium spirits created.

Château de Labourdonnais, surrounded

by its beautiful orchards, was

built between 1856 and 1859, and re-

Photo: Dominique De Saint Clair

Tortoises on nearby Rodrigues Island

stored between 2006 and 2010. It is now

a museum. Visit the museum to discover

the nineteenth century Mauritian lifestyle

and history, as well as the cuisine. I have it

from a trustworthy source that Distillerie

de Labourdonnais distils the best rum on

the island!

In the area of Roches Noires, many

caves and numerous lava tubes connect to

the sea, with their cool freshwater springs

where swimming and snorkelling among

colourful fish can be experienced. Take

water and a hat – both essential items in

Mauritius.

Photo: Dominique De Saint Clair

Grand Baie Public Beach

Island LIFE • Mauritius |

83


Photo: Janet-Lynn Vorster

Grand Baie Yacht Club

Photo: Kim Tempest

Dining on the beach

Photo: Dominique De Saint Clair

Notre-Dame Auxiliatrice de Cap Malheureux, commonly known as the “Red-roof Church”

84 Globerovers · December 2019


In October during Diwali, take a night

drive through Triolet to see the beautiful

lights. Triolet is not only the longest village

on the island, but also home to the oldest

Hindu temple, the Maheswarnath Mandir.

Please respect sacred places when visiting.

Cover exposed skin well and remove all

leather objects.

For vibrant night life, Grand Baie is the

place to be.

The West:

Port Louis, Moka, Plaines Wilhems and

Black River

Port Louis is a must-visit for its history,

culture and shopping. This city, founded in

1735 by the French governor and pioneer

Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais,

is the administrative and business

capital of Mauritius.

Visit the central market, Champ de

Mars (the oldest race course in the southern

hemisphere), the Government House

(one of the oldest buildings in Port Louis),

Port Louis Theatre, the Citadel of Port

Louis (Fort Adelaide), the Caudan Waterfront,

the Rajiv Gandhi Centre and more.

Near Port Louis, is the Pieter Both, 820

metres high, with its distinctive crowning

round rock which appears perilously balanced.

Hike up these mountains close to

Port Louis for the most incredible views!

Ever heard of Green Island Rum?

Synonymous for many with Mauritius, a

visit to International Distillers (Mauritius)

LTD in Plaine Lauzun, an industrial area

located in Port Louis, will have friends and

family green with envy.

The west and southwest coasts of

Mauritius are the driest areas on the island.

However, inland, in stark contrast, is the

lush Black River Gorges National Park.

Spend the day visiting Casela and Gros

Cailloux, both near Albion, between Port

Louis and Flic en Flac. These parks have many

adventurous activities from which to choose.

The much-photographed Pointe aux

Caves lighthouse is perched on the cliffs

at Albion. It stands 30 meters high and

consists of four floors. Steep stairs lead to

the dome and balcony.

A visit in the west is incomplete without

visiting Chamarel village, known for its

“seven-coloured earth”, charming restaurants,

rum factory and the magnificent

Photo: Lance Van Niekerk Photo: Lance Van Niekerk Photo: Lance Van Niekerk

Photo: Kim Tempest

Chamarel Waterfall

Island LIFE • Mauritius |

85


Chamarel Waterfall that cascades down for

over 100 metres.

Plaines Wilhems is the most-populated

district. This district has four Municipal

Town Councils: Beau Bassin-Rose Hill,

Quatre-Bornes, Vacoas and Curepipe, and

they make up the heart of the island.

Curepipe is one of the coolest places on

the island and a good place to spend the

night if you suffer from the heat.

Visit Trou aux Cerfs, the most famous

of many dormant volcanos on the island,

as well as nearby forests, lakes and plantations.

Domaine des Aubineaux, a colonial

house built in 1872 which has since been

converted into a museum dedicated to the

history of Mauritian tea, is noteworthy.

There are many beautiful hikes through

forests with waterfalls in this region. Hike

in the Macchabée Forest past the Mare

aux Joncs waterfall and walk around the

Mare Longue reservoir, or cycle along

these same trails. These areas are home to

around 311 species of native and endemic

flowering plants and nine species of birds

that can only be found in Mauritius.

Always take a hat, water, food and

medical supplies with you. It’s best to be

accompanied by professional and certified

mountain guides, and Emergency First

Responders, such as Yanature. Then safely

enjoy the flora, fauna and wildlife, with

unbelievable scenery to photograph.

The oldest golf course is the 18-hole

par 68 Gymkhana Golf Club in Vacoas-

Phoenix. It is the 4th country club to have

been established in the world, and Mauritius

is only the third country in the world

where golf was played in 1844 while under

British rule.

Deep-sea fishing boats congregate in

the bay of Black River. Charter a trip from

here to go marlin or tuna fishing. The

best months for deep-sea fishing are from

November to April. Alternatively have a go

at fly fishing or rock and surf angling with

an expert fisherman.

The scenery in the southwest is

dominated by the beautiful Black River

mountain range where Piton de la Petite

Rivière Noire (Little Black River Peak) is

the highest mountain on the island at 828

m (2,717 ft).

Le Morne mountain on the coast, a

UNESCO World Heritage site and com-

memorative landmark of the harsh slavery

in Mauritius, is a well-recognised landmark.

Local stories tell of slaves committing

suicide by jumping off this mountain.

The Le Morne Brabant peninsula is

“that spot” where most iconic local fishing

legends originate. Le Morne is the southernmost

town on the west coast. It has

some of the most beautiful hotels and golf

courses on the island. Long white sandy

beaches complete the picture. It is a worldrenowned

spot for kitesurfing

The South:

Savanne

The southern part of the island known

as Savanne, is one of the most scenic,

unspoilt and least populated areas. Due to

its rugged topography, this region is newly

developed compared to the rest of the

island.

The southern coast of Mauritius features

wild and stormy seas. The sight and

sound of enormous waves crashing relentlessly

against the rocks is in stark contrast

to the gentle northern beaches with tiny

Yachts at Grand Baie

Photo: Kim Tempest

Le Morne Beach and kitesurfing haven

Photo: Dominique De Saint Clair

Sunset over Mauritius

Photo: Lance Van Niekerk

86 Globerovers · December 2019


Pont Naturel Mauritius at Le Souffleur

Photo: Janet-Lynn Vorster

Pieter Both Peak (820 metres) near Creve Coeur

Photo: Janet-Lynn Vorster

Hiking to Petrin Kiosk, Black River National Park

Photo: Dominique De Saint Clair

Island LIFE • Mauritius | 87


rodrigues

Bakwa Lodge is set along the beach of the opaline waters of Rodrigues, it lies secluded in a

magnificent seascape, home to rural plains, tropical reefs and unspoilt beaches, undisturbed

but for the occasional footprints. Just one & half hours from Mauritius by plane we have room

for only a few, providing a choice of simple understated luxury accommodation in a variety of

rooms and suites.

Discover the charms of the island whilst roaming the endless routes that crisscross the countryside

& coastal paths. As a guest, you get to experience this beautiful, secluded natural world

with access to one of the most sublime wind and kite surfing sites. Carved over centuries, by

marine life and tide influence, coral arches and deep ravines provide superb diving sites with an

impressive fauna and flora rewarding amateurs and experienced divers.

We invite you to enjoy the Rodriguan experience of fine local cuisine, laid back atmosphere and

authenticity of island life, join us for lazy days, laughter and lemonade ....

bakwa lodge

Var Brulé

Port Sud-Est

Rodrigues

Indian Ocean

t : +230 832 3700/1

www.bakwalodge.com

e : info@bakwalodge.com

88 Globerovers · December 2019


waves gently lapping at the shoreline.

Swimming in the sea in the south is not

recommended. The beaches are nonetheless

stunning.

The coast has characteristic black volcanic

cliffs. The rest of the area is covered

in dense green jungle as a result of high

year-round humidity. Walk a little on the

wild side along the beaches or cliff paths.

Explore hidden sandy coves and waterfalls

and visit traditional fishing villages.

To avoid the crowds, or to get the

adrenalin flowing with something more

adventurous, head to the south. The interior

of Savanne has enough to keep you

occupied and entertained for a few days. I

really love this part of the island.

Grand Bassin (also known as Ganga

Talao) is a lake situated southeast of Mare

aux Vacoas, the largest reservoir in Mauritius.

It lies in an extinct volcano crater on

the B88 Grand Basin Road in a secluded

mountain area about 550 m above sea

level.

The Hindus of Mauritius declared

Grand Bassin a holy lake and believe the

water in the lake connects to the waters of

the holy Ganges of India. Grand Bassin is

home to the large statues of Hindu goddess

Durga and her lion, and Lord Shiva. Both

statues are 33 meters tall, or 108 feet, and

both these numbers have huge significance

to mystics and adept initiates. The Hindu

community undertakes an annual pilgrimage

to honour Lord Shiva.

In March and April, stop and pick the

delicious red and yellow guavas from the

bushes that border the road near Grand

Bassin.

Bassin Blanc, another well-known

volcanic crater, is easily accessible from the

B102 north of Chamouny. It is close to La

Vallee Des Couleurs Nature Park.

A pairing exists between

the village of Souillac

and the town of Souillac

in France since 1987

The natural waterfalls at La Vallee

Des Couleurs cascade into alluring pools.

While at the park, walk the trails, drive

the quads, walk on the wild side across the

350m-long Nepalese Bridge suspended

high above lush tropical green forests, and

get the adrenalin pumping. The 1.5 km zip

line at La Valleee des Couleurs is thrilling.

If that zipline is not rip-roaring

enough, try the 3.5 km zipline at Domaine

de L’Etoile made up of a full set of seven

ziplines. It is said (I don’t have the stomach

for ziplines, so cannot give a first-hand

account) that it is an unparalleled experience.

Some websites claim it is the longest

zipline in the world.

Souillac, a village close to the southernmost

point of the island, is the capital

of Savanne district.

However, the largest population in the

south lives in Chemin Grenier. I visited

Nishal, a yoga master and healer in

Chemin Grenier, experienced his home

cooking and tasted palm hearts for the first

time in my life. From the roof of his home I

had 365° views over the town, surrounding

sugar cane fields, banana plantations and

the ocean in the distance. I love the south.

Arguably, the tallest palm tree on the

island is alongside the main road in Chemin

Grenier.

Near Souillac, visit the Rochester Falls

and the Robert-Edward Hart Museum.

This little-known museum is dedicated to

Robert-Edward Hart, Mauritian writer and

poet, appreciated by both the French and

the English. It was named “La Nef ” by his

friends.

The famous hairpin bend of Macondé

is found on the Baie du Cap road. I

climbed the stairs to the Macondé Viewpoint.

This rocky point juts out into the

sea and offers an exquisite view of the

turquoise ocean and coastline below. The

hairpin bend forms part of a beautiful

scenic drive along the south coast through

villages and sugar cane fields.

Photo: Kim Tempest

View from Le Chamarel Panoramic Restaurant overlooking Ile aux Benetiers and Le Morne Brabant Peninsula

Island Life • Mauritius |

89


Photo: Janet-Lynn Vorster

Beact at Île aux Cerfs

The East:

Grand Port and Flacq

The eastern coast with its succession of

beaches is undoubtedly one of the island’s

most beautiful coastlines set alongside

emerald lagoons. Belle Mare beach is the

main attraction.

Here luxurious hotels are in stark contrast

with authentic villages. The east coast

is exposed to the constant southeast trade

winds, which reminded me a little of Cape

Town – my home city.

Flacq is a district in the east of Mauritius.

It is the largest of the nine districts,

having an area of 297.9 km², and is home

to the second largest number of inhabitants.

Bel Air, slightly inland, has the most

inhabitants at 17,000.

Mahebourg, one of the main fishing

villages on the island, lies on the shores of

the immense bay of Grand Port. Founded

in 1804 by the French Governor Charles

Decaen, Mahebourg witnessed the only

Napoleonic naval victory over the English

in 1810. Mahebourg was also known for its

slave market and has a painful history.

Located at the entrance of Mahebourg,

Château de Robillard, a French colonial

building from the eighteenth century, houses

the National History Museum. Old maps,

engravings, crockery, pirates’ swords and

fragments of shipwrecks recount the rich

maritime history of the island. The crown

jewel of this fascinating museum is the bell

recovered from the wreck of the St Géran.

The mountain-bike trail in the Bras

d’Eau forest is open to the public. It winds

its way through shady exotic forest before

following an old railway line to the lava

caves where the ruins of an old sugar factory

can be discovered. Bring your own

bike, or make a booking with an outdoor

adventure company, or walk the trail if

preferred. A special Milky Way observatory

is found in the Bras d’Eau forest.

The East Road is far less travelled than

coastal roads in the west and north. It

meanders down from Grand River South

East to Mahebourg along the coast, taking

you through small agricultural and fishing

villages. It is a delightful drive.

Under French occupation, 27 defence

guns guarded access to the island at Devil’s

Point (Pointe du Diable). Geomagnetic

forces inside the mountain attract and

move a compass dial in circles. Therefore,

sailors sailing past this point named it

Devil’s Point!

Le Souffleur’s 30m high geyser is

spectacular at high tide on windy days.

However, be willing to brave a deserted

road flanked by black volcanic rock walls

that meanders over a few private farms.

Low vehicles should not attempt this. We

drove by car, but it was not wet or rainy

and we drove very slowly.

The longest river in Mauritius is the 34

km Grand River South-East. We stayed for

a few days at Laguna Beach Hotel & Spa in

Grand River, a perfect spot from which to

charter a boat to the nearby waterfall and

to Ile aux Cerfs.

Beaches in Paradise

For those who want to head to the

beaches to relax, swim, or just stroll, here’s

your guide to beach-hopping in Mauritius:

90 Globerovers · December 2019


P.G. Melville Public Beach on the other

side of Grand Gaube is quiet, deserted, and

my choice for peace and quiet and to avoid

the gravel road at Butte à L’Herbe.

Baie aux Tortues, Pointe aux Piments,

Pointe aux Biches and Le Goulet are

beaches just north of Port Louis. While

I have not visited them and not included

them in my beach hopping spree, keep

them in mind if you spend time in or near

Port Louis.

Photo: Dominique De Saint Clair

Pereybere Public Beach

Beach-hopping in the North

Take a drive around the northern

coast and go beach-hopping for the day.

The beaches in the north are undoubtedly

the best swimming beaches on the island.

Discover your favourite.

I suggest starting on B36 (Route

Côtière or Coastal Road) at Trou aux

Biches. From here drive northwards to the

beautiful long Mont Choisy Beach on B13.

Get there in the early morning and take a

nice, long walk.

Travel northwards. You will soon get

to the Grand Baie Public Beach, where you

will see many boats lying at anchor. “Street

food” in caravans and food trailers along

the main road is generally safe, affordable

and delicious.

A little further, turn off to the left, and

find La Cuvette Public Beach at the end of

the road. This is a small but beautiful beach.

Heading back to the B36, turn left, and

a short distance away you will arrive at

Pereybere Public Beach. This is my personal

favourite. In the vicinity are many places

to eat, as well as Winners, a supermarket,

should you wish to buy an assortment of

goodies for a picnic lunch.

Next is Bain Boeuf Public Beach. On

either side are beautiful private beaches to

stroll along.

When leaving this beach to travel

further north, you will pass a cemetery at

Cap Malheureux. Park your car and walk

up the small hill to the edge of the cliff.

From there you will have the best photographic

view of the islands to the north.

You should count five of them.

Cap Malheureux has a small chapel:

Notre Dame Auxiliatrice. It is commonly

known as the Red Roof Chapel. Stop

here for a visit and take stunning photos

with the islands in the background. Cap

Malheureux is the northernmost village on

the island.

Anse La Raie Beach is next on the list

of beaches.

From Anse La Raie Beach, as you drive

through the little village of St François on

your way to Grand Gaube, look out for

Studio 44 on the right. It manufactures

unique, hand-crafted glass tableware,

corporate gifts and exquisite jewellery that

will impress the fussiest recipient.

Next up is Butte à L’Herbe Public

Beach, about half a mile down a gravel

road. If you are looking for seclusion, look

no further! I would not go there at night,

though. Mauritius is rife with stray dogs,

and they can get excited when running in

packs at night.

From here, as you approach Grand

Gaube, B13 becomes B44 and then B14, so

don’t get lost!

Beach-hopping in the South

The south is the wildest, most mountainous

and least frequented part of the

island. Swimming in the sea in the south

is not recommended as currents are strong

and winds can be fierce.

Gris, the beach in Souillac, is described

by poet Paul Jean Toulet as “full of terror

and fatalism although not devoid of mildness”.

Riambel is adjacent to St Félix Beach.

They are considered two of the most beautiful

in the south; unspoilt and shaded by

casuarina trees.

Baie Du Cap, La Prairie, Pointe d’Esny,

Baie De Jacotet, Belle Ombre and Le

Morne are other unpretentious beaches in

the south. You will find the character of

southern beaches very different to those in

the north. They attract a completely different

kind of visitor.

Riviere des Galets Beach, comprised

of black, smooth stones, is a rarity and

definitely not for bathing. The sound of the

pebbles rolling as the waves come in and

out is quite amazing.

After a long flight, La Cambuse is the

closest beach to the airport. Relax under

the shade trees before heading for your accommodation.

Take a quick shallow dip if

you must but be vigilant with children. The

wild currents and wind are unpredictable.

Beach-hopping in the East

The climate on the eastern coast is

more temperate than the north and west

coasts of the island. The light breeze makes

it cooler. This is valuable advice if you are

booking accommodation in the hot summer

months.

Island LIFE • Mauritius |

91


The beaches in the east are rare but striking.

Belle Mare has a beautiful long white

sandy beach and is the setting for some of

the best hotels in Mauritius. Belle Mare is

ideal for diving.

Trou d’Eau Douce, Poste Lafayette,

Palmar, Pointe de Flacq and Roches Noires

are all beaches worth visiting. Roches

Noires is reputed to be an excellent place

for fishing, kitesurfing and windsurfing.

Bras d’Eau is a pristine beach. From

the public beach you can see both the sunrise

and the sunset - unique indeed.

Beaches and Surfing in the West

To relax on the beach, swim, snorkel

or chat to the locals, head to one of

three beaches: Flic en Flac, Tamarin or La

Preneuse. Flic en Flac Public Beach is very

popular. Tamarin with its browner sand

(due to the river mouth) and La Preneuse

are a little further south.

Sable Noir is the closest beach to Port

Louis. Balaclava Beach, also known as

Victoria Beach or Oberoi Beach, is located

right next to the luxury hotel The Oberoi,

one of the finest hotels in Mauritius.

Tamarin Bay is a popular surfing spot

with its long left-hand reef break and

10-foot swells. This is where the beach

babes and surfer dudes love to hang out – a

“cool” place for the young ‘uns.

Surfing in the west is hands down the

best on the island! Le Morne is the popular

place for the more serious enthusiasts to

kitesurf, windsurf and surf in the strong

and steady southeast trade winds. Le

Morne is world renowned for its “One Eye”

surf spot with its fast-left tube.

Be careful of the strong currents at Le

Morne as it is close to the wild seas in the south.

regarding seabirds, reptiles and remnant

populations of coastal species and palmrich

forest.

1. Round Island, 22 km north, is unfortunately

inaccessible to the public.

2. Snake Island has no snakes. The last

indigenous snake species here became

extinct shortly after European arrival.

This barren rock is home to sooty terns,

brown noddy- and lesser noddy terns,

as well as a scarce gecko and centipede.

A friend said it so nicely: “Snake island

has no snakes and is round, and Round

Island is not round and has snakes”.

3. Gunner’s Quoin is shaped like a whale.

Here you will find remnants of a sugar

plantation set up by Dutch settlers.

4. Flat Island is at risk of submerging.

There are several 19th-century graves in

the cemetery on the island. People suffering

from malaria and other diseases

were quarantined on this island by the

British. It also houses one of only two

working lighthouses in Mauritius.

5. Gabriel Island is a sheltered shallow

cove of sand dune vegetation and

Baume de l’Ile Plate (this is the only

place that this plant grows). Spend a

day here. Snorkel, dive and have lunch

on a catamaran.

6. Pigeon Rock National Park is a volcanic

plug that rises vertically out of the sea.

It is a haven for seabirds. Scuba dive

around this rock with its proliferation

of sharks, particularly from November

to April.

Islet in the Northeast

Ile d’Ambre is close to the mainland

off the northeast coast. Although decaying

and neglected, it still has some remaining

Latanier bleu and mangrove forests. Swim,

visit the ruins, walk through the forest,

relax and have lunch.

Islet in the East

Île aux Cerfs, probably the mostvisited

islet, is just off the east coast. It is

considered a water sports paradise and

has arguably the most attractive beaches.

The island boasts a superb 18-hole golf

course designed by famous golf champion

Bernhard Langer.

Islet in the West

Ile aux Bénitiers, situated off the coast

of La Gaulette (Southwest of Mauritius), is a

large coral sand island which lies in a lagoon

near Le Morne. It is perfectly safe to go

swimming and snorkelling here. A boat trip

to the island usually includes a barbeque

and drinks on the island. For a truly magical

experience, be sure to book a trip to Ile aux

Bénitiers and swim with the dolphins!

Islets of Mauritius

While there are many little islets

around Mauritius, only a few really stood

out for me.

Islets in the North

Six of the northern islets are very important

due to their biodiversity, especially

92 Globerovers · December 2019

Photo: Janet-Lynn Vorster

Spices at a local market in Port Louis


Shopping in Mauritius

There is no shortage of places to shop.

I will only mention those places that I

personally visited as shopping is not my

kind of therapy. Take cash to the bazaars

and barter to ensure a fair price. Be aware

and be vigilant.

• The Central Market, in Port Louis

• Marche de Flacq, in Centre de Flacq

• Bazar de Grand Baie, in Grand Baie

• Caudan Waterfront, in Port Louis

To buy groceries and other necessary

items, I suggest Super U (there are three on

the island) and Winners in Pereybere.

Thoughts & Recommendations

While in Mauritius, I spent a few days

at both Merville Hotel in Grand Baie, and

Laguna Beach Hotel & Spa. Both were on

the beach, and both were fabulous.

Most of my holiday I spent house

sitting in Pereybere where I learnt about

cooking the Mauritian way.

I could honestly eat like that forever.

I realised that staying virtually on the

beach had many advantages, including

not having to get to and from the beach

by taxi. From one place to another by taxi,

even if only one kilometre away, costs a

minimum of 150 rupees (one way). Buses

are frequent and affordable but being far

from a bus stop can be a drawback.

Without walking all the way to the

nearest bus stop, stand alongside the road

on the bus route and flail down a shared

taxi. Offer to pay the same price as what

the bus would have cost, no more, and

within a few minutes one of the drivers

will accept your offer.

However, they will not make a detour

from the taxi’s normal route. To be taken

to specific places or to be picked up and

dropped off at your doorstep a private taxi

must be arranged.

My suggestion is to stay within a comfortable

walking distance from the beach,

bus stop, shops and restaurants. I would

personally rather spend more on accommodation,

and less on transport.

Public beaches are quieter than private

beaches during the week. However, locals

flock to the public beaches on weekends.

Locals can be quite territorial regarding

“their” beaches over weekends, so

allow them time with their families. Locals

are conservative, so expect a few frowns

if you appear on public beaches in your

revealing swimwear over weekends.

Both respect and planning will make

the visit more pleasurable for all.

Some public beaches adjoin private

beaches which “belong” to hotels. Walking

from a public beach onto an adjoining private

beach is permitted. However, do not

venture above the high tide mark, as this is

privately-owned property.

I love Mauritius! For now, I will fly

there in my dreams until I can visit again.

Photo: Janet-Lynn Vorster

Baskets at Marche de Flacq, in Centre de Flacq

Lets take the long road

together

globerovers.com

Island LIFE • Mauritius |

93


94 Globerovers · December 2019


By discovering nature,

rediscover yourself...

www.lexillodges.com

Island LIFE • Mauritius | 95


Photo Essay

Oman, Arabia

Oman, the gem of the Arabian Peninsula,

is full of surprises and contrasts.

Its natural scenery includes endless

windswept sand dunes whipped up

by jagged mountain ranges that cut into the clear blue

skies. Its sheer-walled orange-brown sand dunes and

canyons give way to lush rivers and cascading streams.

The country’s 1,700 kilometres (1,060 mi) of

picturesque coastline has no shortage of pristine, stunning,

and secluded beaches with crystal-clear emerald

waters.

Rich in history, Oman’s ancient watchtowers and

fortresses stand guard over bustling souqs (markets) and

modern white-washed towns. Stunningly ornate mosques

rise high above mud-walled villages, while donkey carts

and luxury cars share the same roads.

Oman’s roads are well-constructed, fuel is cheap, and

there’s no shortage of interesting natural scenery and

captivating villages in every direction - the ideal scenario

for any inquisitive traveller.

Officially called the Sultanate of Oman, this Islamic

96 Globerovers · December 2019


Oman

gem of the Arabian Peninsula

country is located on the southeastern coast of the Arabian

Peninsula, sharing borders with Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and

the United Arab Emirates. Along its southern coast is the

Arabian Sea, and to the east lies the Gulf of Oman which

separates it from Iran and Pakistan. Compared to its

neighbours, Oman is one of the most stable and generally

safest countries for travel.

Come along as we explore Muscat, the capital of

Oman and its largest city. From Muscat’s old town with its

authentic souqs and fish market near the Mutrah Corniche

seafront, we drive to the west of town to visit the colossal

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.

From here we continue southwest into the interior to

the historic town of Nizwa, known for its fortress, souqs,

and Falaj Daris, an extensive irrigation system of falaj

(a water channel, plural: aflaj) used over centuries as a

lifeline to the town’s immense palm tree plantations.

While we hardly scratched the surface of what Oman

has to offer, this short trip is a brief introduction to why

“Gem of the Arabian Peninsula” is a very appropriate

description of Oman.

Photo Essay • Oman | 97


Muscat City

98 Globerovers · December 2019


Oman - Arabian Peninsula

Muscat

Muscat, Oman’s capital, has been ruled

for millennia by various indigenous tribes

and foreign powers including the Persians,

Portuguese, and the Ottoman Empire. All have

left their mark, so today the city’s architecture

and culture attest to its rich history. The

city’s old quarters as well as the port district of

Mutrah, with its corniche and harbour, are of

most interest to visitors.

Stretching almost 25 kilometres (15.5 mi) along

the Omani coastline, Muscat offers a real taste

of Arabia, despite its recent modernisation and

building frenzy. Fortunately, most of the new

buildings are less than three stories high and

are white-washed to blend in with the historical

buildings. Much of the old city has retained its

old-world charm.

Life in Muscat is dominated by its old corniche

seafront in the Mutrah area, fringed by 18th

century buildings and the imposing 17th century

Mutrah fort. The harbour is usually awash

with locals selling the fresh catch of the day,

with a variety of fi sh and other exotic creatures

from the sea.

The city boasts several imposing mosques, of

which the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is the

largest and most prominent. Muscat also offers

several museums, beautifully restored houses,

an opera house, the Al Alam Sultan’s Palace,

parliament buildings, fortresses, and the bustling

Mutrah souq which is said to be one of the

oldest marketplaces in the Arab world.

Engulfed in the mixed smells of frankincense,

perfume oils, fresh jasmine, and spices, you

can shop for Omani gold and silverware, embroidered

bright coloured cloth, pots, paintings,

hookah pipes, framed khanjars (daggers),

leatherwork, incense, and so on.

Photo Essay • Oman | 99


Muscat Mosque

100 Globerovers · December 2019


Oman - Arabian Peninsula

Grand Mosque

Qaboos bin Said al Said, the current Sultan

of Oman, ordered the Grand Mosque

in 1992. Construction started in December

1994 and took six years and seven months to

complete.

Constructed from 300,000 tons of Indian sandstone,

the main prayer hall has a central dome

rising to a height of 50 metres (160 ft) above

the square 74.4 by 74.4 metre (244 by 244 ft)

carpeted fl oor.

This hall can hold over 6,500 worshippers

while the adjacent women’s prayer hall can

hold 750, and the outer marble-paved area an

additional 8,000 people.

The mosque has four fl anking minarets each

measuring a whopping 45.5 metres (149 ft)

high. Truly an architectural masterpiece.

While the main structure is impressive, the

interior design is record-breaking.

The chandelier above the main prayer hall is

14 metres (46 ft) tall, eight metres wide (26 ft),

weighs 8.5 tons, includes 600,000 pieces of

crystal trimmed with gold, uses 1,122 halogen

bulbs, and even has a small staircase inside

for workers to perform maintenance. The carpet

below this massive chandelier was woven

in Iran and contains a whopping 1.7 billion

knots, weighs 21 tons, and took four years to

weave. At the time the carpet was laid, it was

the world’s largest single-piece carpet.

It dropped to the second spot in 2007 when

a larger carpet was laid in the Sheikh Zayed

Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Photo Essay • Oman | 101


The Sultan Qaboos Mosque (Grand Mosque).

102 Globerovers · December 2019


Photo Essay • Oman | 103


Oman - Arabian Peninsula

Nizwa

Located 140 kilometres (87 mi) southwest

of Muscat is one of the oldest oasis towns

in Oman, surrounded by expansive palm

groves.

Nizwa, with its authentic souq, was once a

major centre of trade in the Arabian Peninsula

and over the centuries also played a prominent

role in Oman’s religion, education, and art.

Surrounded by a verdant spread of date

palms, much of the old part of Nizwa was built

with clay bricks and mud. Best known for its

now heavily renovated fort that was built in

1668 AD, it is a reminder of the town’s signifi -

cance throughout its turbulent history.

The large Nizwa souq remains quite authentic

and is famous for its variety of local handicrafts

and agricultural products.

At this bustling market, you can fi nd everything

from freshly slaughtered meat and fi sh,

local fruits and vegetables, gold, silverware

and copperware, and a mind-boggling array

of spices. It is best to get lost in the souq and

just enjoy the adventure.

104 Globerovers · December 2019


Nizwa Fort

Photo Essay • Oman | 105


106 Globerovers · December 2019


Photo Essay • Oman | 107


Article

Colombia

Cabo San Juan de Guia Beach

Cabo San Juan beach is an undeveloped tropical paradise

in Parque Tayrona located along the Caribbean coast.

Set up your hammock between two trees and enjoy a night

in paradise!

108 Globerovers · December 2019


Colombia

Caribbean Coastal Adventures

The Colombian north coast along the Caribbean Sea is packed with adventure, still devoid of mass

tourism. Float in a bubbling mud volcano, and swim in pristine waters at palm-fringed beaches.

For many years, Colombia has not been

a country high on the list of most

travellers and holidaymakers. However,

times have changed and the country is now open

to tourism!

Since 1964, a guerilla movement known as

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or

Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia

(FARC), has been involved in an armed conflict

against the government. FARC wreaked havoc

in many parts of Columbia, and while foreigners

were not particularly targeted and it has been possible

to travel there, many areas were off-limits.

In June 2016 FARC signed a ceasefire accord

with the Colombian Government, later rejected in

a national referendum.

After a revised peace

treaty was approved by

the Colombian Congress,

FARC ceased

fighting in June 2017

giving new hope to the tourism industry. Unfortunately,

in August 2019 a small faction of FARC

leaders returned to armed activity resulting in

offensive strikes by the government, killing some

FARC members. Nobody knows what the future

holds and whether the country is heading back to

its days of turmoil. Only time will tell.

After many years of guerilla fighting, Colombia

appears to be safer now. A destination

for intrepid travellers ready to be explored.

Over the last few years, adventure seekers

have flocked to Colombia before it becomes

another hotspot where mass tourism will destroy

the charm. Most travellers who visited Colombia

safely returned home and have good things to say

about it.

Colombia is known for islands such as San

Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina near

Nicaragua, home to some exquisite beaches.

Colombia also offers the fascinating Amazonian

rain forests, Andean mountains, vast plains of the

Orinoquia region along the Orinoco river, and

the tropical coasts along the Caribbean Sea and

Pacific Ocean.

If you are an avid bird watcher, you will be in

bird-heaven. With 1870 recorded

species, Colombia

has the most bird species

of any country on earth.

The second and third spots

are held by Peru and Brazil

with 1,817 and 1,767 species respectively. Colombia

is home to almost one-fifth of all bird species on

earth, though about 160 of its species are at risk of

imminent extinction. You may have to compete

with the birds to enjoy the wide variety of tropical

fruits such as gorgeous guavas, delicious dragon

fruit, zingy zapotes, and luscious lulos.

While some areas of Columbia are still

deemed off-limits except for “all but essential

travel”, much of it is safe, despite the usual street

crime.

If you prefer city life, Colombia has it. Bogota

is booming with funky restaurants, boutique hotels

and craft breweries, and since street art was decriminalised

in 2011, Bogota’s flyovers, office towers

Article • Colombia | 109


Colombia - Caribbean Coastal Adventures

Immediately outside the old city at a

strategic location on the Hill of San Lázaro

is Castillo San Felipe de Barajas built by

the Spanish during the early 16th cenand

municipal walls have become canvases

for some of the world’s most prolific graffiti

artists. Other interesting cities to visit

include Medellin, Cali, and Cartagena.

We start our adventure in the northeastern

town of Cartagena, one of the most

exquisite colonial cities in Latin America.

From here we visit a few idyllic islands before

heading northeast along the Caribbean

Coast to take a gooey bath in an active

mud volcano. After a thorough wash in a

lagoon, we continue further northeast to

Taganga Beach. We end up our Colombia

travels in the unspoiled beaches of Parque

Nacional Natural Tayrona where we sleep

in a hammock between two palm trees.

Iglesia de San Pedro Claver.

CARTAGENA

Culture-rich Cartagena is known for its

well preserved colonial architechture.

Located along the Caribbean

Sea in the far northwest of the

country, the colonial walled city

of Cartagena de Indias was built on gold

and slavery and is affectionately known as

“Cartagena, the jewel in Colombia’s crown”.

Cartagena is a UNESCO World

Heritage Site with a history that dates back

to 4,000 BC. In its more recent history,

Spanish colonists founded the city in the

16th century and named it after Cartagena

in Spain. The city became a centre for

Spanish royalty and wealthy viceroys, but

endured frequent attacks from invaders.

As protection, high walls were built so the

fortressed city now offers some interesting

examples of military strategy and well

preserved colonial architecture. Cartagena

is also much associated with pirates of the

Caribbean Sea.

The main city gate, and original entrance

to the fortified historical centre is

via the beautiful Puerta del Reloj (Clock

Gate) leading into the vibrant Plaza de los

Coches (Square of the Carriages).

In the colourful old city are several

markets, squares, cathedrals, castillo

(fortresses) and an increasing number of

touristy bars, cafes, boutique hotels and

guesthouses.

Have a drink in one of the many plazas

while watching the horse carts with tourists

clattering through the streets. Evenings

are often filled with flash mobs dancing in

the colourful plazas. You will instinctively

start to sway to the rhythm of the traditional

musical dances of the cumbia, porro

and vallenato.

The Caribbean port city of

Cartagena has long been

referred to as “the jewel in

Colombia’s crown”.

The figurative painter and sculptor

from Medellin, Fernando Botero, is

famed for his satirical works which feature

oversized subjects in an exaggerated form.

Don’t miss his bronze woman sculpture,

“La Gordita,” who reclines happily in the

Plaza Santo Domingo in front of Church of

Santa Domingo.

White Beach near Cartagena.

110 Globerovers · December 2019


tury. The best view of Cartagena can be

seen from the Convent of La Candelaria,

located on top of the La Popa hill which is

a short distance east of the old city.

Tired of strolling through the old city

and hiking the hills? Then head over to the

Bocagrande beaches area, a narrow strip of

land with many hotels, shops, restaurants,

nightclubs and art galleries.

Take a day-trip to nearby Playa Blanca

and Islas del Rosario for incredibly beautiful

beaches, islands, birds and marine life.

The Rosario Islands also offer excellent

diving where divers can admire colourful

coral gardens, bountiful marine life, and

perhaps a sunken pirate ship.

While in Cartagena, take a flight to the

Colombian island of San Andrés which lies

closer to the east coast of Nicaragua than

to the north coast of Colombia. While San

Andrés has some exquisite beaches, the

prize goes to nearby Providencia island

that has over the years retained much of its

traditional laid-back charm.

Flights from San Andrés to Providencia

are via a small 10-seater plane. Alternatively,

take the catamaran ferry which makes

the 90 kilometre (56 mi) sea voyage a few

times a week.

Cartagena is a one hour and twentyminute

flight north of Bogota. A bus ride

to cover the 1,060 kilometres will take

about 17 hours and is not recommended

due to the potential risk of kidnappers

targeting long haul buses.

Dance performance in Plaza Bolivar, Cartagena.

Colonial buildings of Cartagena.

Colonial buildings of Cartagena.

Article • Colombia |111


Colombia - Caribbean Coastal Adventures

EL TOTUMO MUD VOLCANO

Soak in the soft bubbling mud volcano

while getting an uninvited $1 massage.

About 63 kilometres (39 mi)

northeast of Cartagena, along

the Caribbean Coast, is one of

the most bizarre attractions of Colombia,

and a rite of passage if you visit Cartagena.

El Totumo is the country’s smallest volcano,

although it does not spew hot lava or blow

smoke. It is an active but peaceful little volcano

with a 15 metre (49 foot) mound filled

in the core with lukewarm softly bubbling

mud. Superfine brown silky mud.

According to local folklore, Totumo

used to spew fire, lava, and ashes, but it

was turned into mud by a local priest who

believed it was the work of the devil, and

endeavoured to banish him by sprinkling

holy water into the volcano.

Pay a small fee to the local collector

and climb up the rudimentary ladder to

the top of the mount. While the mud levels

slightly rise and fall over time, it seems that

these days its level is more often low than

high. Several local entrepreneurs at the

bottom of the volcano sell bottles of the

volcano’s mud to visiting tourists, which

may explain where all the mud is disappearing.

If you are very lucky, you may

find the mud near the top of the mount

with some spilling over the rim, though

most likely you will have to climb several

feet down a rickety old wooden ladder that

gets extremely slippery to reach the muddy

surface. As you look down onto the giggling

people drifting on the mud, you may

get a vision of catfish flopping around in a

muddy watering hole!

The mud reputedly has healing and

therapeutic properties so for many years

it has been a popular health-bath for the

locals. While few tourists report rejuvenated

skin after immersing in the mud, the

bizarre experience of floating weightlessly

112 Globerovers · December 2019


on silky luke-warm mud makes the trip

worthwhile.

The entrepreneurial local men have

realised that tourists are happy to pay a

dollar or two for a mud-rub as they lie

drifting on the mud. They generally won’t

ask permission to render their services, so

just take it as it comes and let them mudrub

you. Make sure not to let your face get

all muddy as you’ll be sorry if the mud gets

into your eyes.

Once you have become a mud-monster,

you may leave the pit and pay the lady

down below the mount. It is recommended

that you let the mud dry before washing.

At this time, don’t be surprised if busloads

of Colombian tourists come around to take

photos of the strange muddy foreigners,

probably wondering how people can do

this to themselves!

“The local lady pulled off my

swimsuit under the water and

started to wash my crevices!"

As you stand to dry, several people

will have pointed you to the nearby lagoon

where you will find a few local ladies wading

in the water to wash the tourists. Now,

this is another part of the bizarre experience.

These ladies also won’t ask permission

to wash, so just lay back and let her do

her job. She most likely will be digging her

fingers in your ears and nose to clear out

the mud.

Some ladies will even remove your

swimwear to rinse out the mud, scrub your

crevices, and put back your swimwear. She

is used to doing this so just go with the

flow. Once she is convinced that you are

clean, slip her a few coins in the hand.

As you sit in the minivan with your

clean mud buddies, you certainly will get

the sulphuric smell of mud. Don’t despair.

Just believe that the healing and therapeutic

powers of the mud are hard at work

rejuvenating your skin.

Article • Colombia |113


Colombia - Caribbean Coastal Adventures

Taganga fishing village and beach.

Taganga fishing village and beach.

Fishing boats at Taganga village.

Playa Grande near Taganga fishing village.

114 Globerovers · December 2019


TAGANGA AND OTHER BEACHES

Located close to the port city of Santa

Marta, Taganga is sun, sea, and surf.

Continue for 67 kilometres (42

mi) northwest along the Caribbean

Coast to the city of Barranquilla.

While it is an interesting place to

linger for a few days, you want to be here

during the annual festival. The Barranquilla

Carnival is one of the biggest of its kind,

giving the likes of Rio a run for its money.

Taking place in the middle of summer,

the sultry carnival is a big drawcard for

tourists who enjoy the streets filled with

parades and parties.

From Barranquilla take coastal Route

90, built on a sandy artificial spit, to cross

the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta marsh

to the historic town of Ciénaga. Declared

a National Cultural Heritage Site in 1996,

you can bathe in Ciénaga’s hot springs

and participate in a festival honouring the

caimán, a small crocodile. The historical

old centre of town is worth a visit, as well

as the nearby stilt villages.

From Ciénaga it is a 33 kilometre (20

mi) drive north along the coast to the town

of Santa Marta, a prime tourist destination

in the Caribbean coastal region. Santa

Marta was the first Spanish settlement in

Colombia and is now one of the oldest permanent

settlements in the Americas. Not

surprisingly, it offers great colonial architecture,

a whitewashed cathedral, pleasant

waterfront, beaches, public market, vibrant

street food scene, and endless opportunities

to explore nature.

Our next destination along the Caribbean

coast is the fishing village of Taganga,

just five kilometres (three miles) further up

along the coast from Santa Marta. Taganga

is a place where beautiful lush green covered

mountains meet a horseshoe-shaped bay.

Truly a beautiful location, which looks

even more beautiful once you hike the

nearby hills overlooking the sea.

While Taganga was a rustic fishing

village for many years, nowadays it has

become a haven for backpackers, party

animals, and scuba divers. Here you will

find no shortage of dive shops, seafood

restaurants, hostels, and places for beer

parties. While the beach used to be popular

for swimming, it is no longer as clean as

it used to be. Take a hike into the hills for

stunning views over the ocean and the village,

and go swim at nearby Playa Grande

to the north of the village. Another lovely

beach is Playa Bonito Gordo in nearby

Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona which is

best reached by boat from Taganga beach

or by walking from Bahía Concha inside

the park.

Note that Taganga has a reputation for

street crime, so be careful, especially at

night.

South of Taganga is La Cuidad Perdida,

also known as “Teyuna” and “Buritaca”, an

archaeological site in the Sierra Nevada

mountain range. This “lost city” is believed

to have been founded at the start of the

ninth century, which makes it about 750

years older than Machu Picchu in Peru.

On the way to Ciudad Perdida, stop at

Minca to the southeast of Taganga. Minca

is a beautiful tiny town located in the hills

and jungle and has become a popular spot

among travellers due to its remote location,

coffee farms, waterfalls, and excellent

hiking trails.

Playa Grande Beach.

Tiny restaurant at Taganga.

Article • Colombia | 115


Colombia - Caribbean Coastal Adventures

PARQUE NACIONAL TAYRONA

A nature sanctuary along the Caribbean

Sea, rich in fauna and flora.

Just a few kilometres to the

northeast from Taganga lies the

western edge of Parque Nacional

Natural Tayrona which stretches for about

30 kilometres (19 mi) along the Caribbean

Coast. The park boasts in excess of 60

mammal species as well as over 400 species

of birds, in addition to countless reptiles

and amphibians. This is the main reason

why we came to northern Colombia and

this is why we would not want to leave this

incredible country.

As a protected area in Colombia’s

northern wilderness, Tayrona National

Park has all the elements you want from an

idyllic location along the Caribbean Sea.

Come here if you like swaying palms trees,

beautiful sandy beaches, lagoons, ancient

ruins, and most of all, peace and quiet. Still

free of major developments, the park has

a lot of rugged beauty to offer those who

made the effort to reach this part of the

South American continent.

From Santa Marta, hop on a bus or taxi

to the most eastern part of the park. From

the drop-off point at the park entrance, it

is a few kilometres walk to the beaches.

Among the best beaches along this part

of the park are Arrecifes, the nearest beach

to the park’s main entrance, Cabo San Juan

de Guia, Cañaveral, and La Piscinita. Most

of these beaches offer tents and hammocks

for rent, and some basic restaurants. The

best option is the hammock! While the

open-air hostels have several hammocks

lined up in a row under a canopy, the more

adventurous way to sleep is to find two

palm trees along the beach and spend the

night swinging in the breeze.

Need a break from the beautiful sandy

beaches? Take an invigorating hike into

the jungle to ancient ruins where you will

pass through several streams and giant

boulders. Keep your eyes peeled for the

multi-coloured land crabs, leaf cutter ants,

bright blue and green reptiles, countless

butterflies, and if you are lucky you may

see the endangered cotton-top tamarin

monkey with its fluffy white mane.

A mere two-hour hike from the Cabo

San Juan de Guia beach up in the hill lies

the pre-Hispanic ruins of Pueblito. Few

people attempt the rather challenging

path through the jungle, so if you succeed,

you most likely will have the ruins all to

yourself. While most of the ruins have

been devoured by the jungle, there is more

than enough visible for you to imagine

what life must have been like here over 500

years ago.

While the area is deemed safe, it’s best

to always hike in a small group. Make sure

to bring along sunscreen, insect repellent,

and plenty of water.

When done with the ruins and the

jungle hike, return to the beaches and just

relax. Colombia’s Caribbean Coast has

been very good to you! GR

Cabo San Juan de Guia Beach.

116 Globerovers · December 2019


Hammock Hotel at Cabo San Juan de Guia Beach.

Cabo San Juan de Guia Beach.

Hammock Hotel.

Arrecifes Beach.

Article • Colombia | 117


Taganga fishing village.

Traveller mingling with the locals.

118 Globerovers · December 2019


Colombia - Caribbean Coastal Adventures

Stay safe while travelling in Colombia

Safety precautions in Colombia

are much like anywhere else.

Use common sense, be streetwise,

and stay away from known

danger zones such as the border

area with Ecuador and Venezuela

due to the risk of kidnapping or

being caught in the crossfire of the

drug war.

Going off the beaten path might

not be the best idea in Colombia,

though if this is what makes you

tick, first check the safety situation

with locals and take along a local

guide.

Adding to the uncertainty of the

internecine confl ict between

the government and the guerrilla

groups, the wars continue

between the police and the drug

cartels in places such as Medellin

and Cali.

The bright side is that these towns

are nowadays safer than they

were during the eighties and nineties.

Long-distance travel is best done

by plane. Avoid long bus rides, especially

overnight trips. If travelling

by private car and driver, always

keep a low profi le.

Enjoy Colombia before it becomes

another victim of mass tourism.

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

Getting There

Fly into the Colombian capital, Bogota,

and from here it is best to fl y Viva Air or

Avianca Air to Cartagena. The fl ight takes

just 90 minutes and lands at Cartagena’s

Rafael Núñez International Airport located

6 minutes drive to the northeast of the

old city. Alternatively, take a direct bus

(Berlinas del Fonce, Copetran or Expreso

Brasilia). It is a 20 to 23-hour journey.

When to Go

The weather is good all-year-round,

but avoid the peak visitor season from

mid-December to the end of January and

again from mid-June to mid-July when locals

flock to the park and beaches. Avoid

local holidays such as Easter. Tayrona

Park closes for a month around February.

Getting Around

Along the Caribbean coast are several

routes by bus and minibus. To reach El

Totumo Mud Volcano, take a day trip by

minibus from Cartagena. The bus ride to

Santa Marta (for Taganga fi shing village

and nearby beaches) from Cartagena,

takes about four hours - a distance of 230

km (143 mi). From Santa Marta to Tayrona

National Park, take a minibus to El Zaino.

Where to Stay

Cartagena has accommodation for all

budgets. Along the coast are many guest

houses that cater mostly to the local

crowd. During the off season it is easy

to find accommodation. At Tayrona Park,

try to set up your hammock between two

palm trees or stay at the hammock hotel.

Photography

Colombia is generally a feast for the eyes,

and the north coast is nothing short of

beautiful scenery and memorable experiences.

The locals are mostly accustomed

to tourists taking photos of them, but as

always it is best to fi rst ask permission.

Don’t forget to bring your camera to the

mud volcano, but place it in a thin plastic

bag to protect it from the mud.

Safety

Colombia is safer than it used to be, but it

remains a risky destination. However, many

travellers to Colombia return safely home

without any mishaps. Be extra streetwise

everywhere, in particular in Bogota and

other big cities. Even Taganga village has

reports of street hooligans, so walk cat-foot.

Dining Out

Colombia has delicious traditional foods so

try as many of the local dishes as possible.

The country is multi-ethnic and food

tend to be regionalised. Along the Caribbean

coast, seafood is obviously popular,

including lobster. Coconut rice is a common

dish as are fried plantain patties.

Packing

The weather along the Caribbean coast is

good all-year-round. It’s hot and tropical

with a rainy season between May and

November. The best time is from December

to March, since it is the driest, or at

least less rainy. Pack a light sweater for

cool evenings or when on a boat.

Cost of Travel

Colombia is not dirt-cheap, but also not

expensive, depending on how much you

want to spend. If on a tight budget, you can

get by on $30 to $70 (USD) a day, including

everything except airline tickets and longdistance

buses. One way flights to Cartagena

cost about $120. The bus is $50.

Article • Colombia | 119


Dust, Drought and Distance

Travelling the South Australian Outback

South Australia isn’t called the

driest state of the driest continent

on earth for nothing. But

just because a lot of South Australia’s

983,482 square kilometres (379,725

miles²) is outback and desert country doesn’t

mean there’s nothing to see and do there.

South Australia is so large that only 30

countries on earth are larger. So of course the

landscape is wide, open and empty. The sky’s

so big and blue by day and ablaze with colour

Marion Halliday is Red Nomad OZ,

author, blogger and Aussie traveller who loves

discovering nature based attractions and activities

– and scenic loos – all over Australia.

Her Aussie travel expertise, photography

and the storytelling skills she developed in

corporate life come together in her Aussie

travel blog where the highlights (and lowlights)

of her many years of downunder travel provide

inspiration for other Aussie explorers.

Words & Photos by Marion Halliday

as the sun sinks below the horizon’s flat line

that it’ll dominate your photos without even

trying. It’s a country of vast plains crisscrossed

by (mostly) dry river beds, bisected

by a maze of dusty tracks and scattered with

unexpected rock formations and sand dunes

in impossible colours and shapes.

When you look beyond the dust, drought

and the endless distances, the scenery is

stunning, in a remote Aussie Outback kind

of way.

Venture a few hours north of the more

popular (and green!) coastal fringe and it

will feel like a different universe. Or at the

very least, like landing on the moon. Add

in a diverse and unexpected collection of

state, national and world record holding

attractions and this remote part of Australia

becomes not just memorable, but magic.

Base yourself right in the middle of

all this wide open space where you’ll find

Coober Pedy, also known as Opal Capital of

the World. About 850 km (530 miles) and a

nine hour drive up the Stuart Highway north

of state capital Adelaide, it’s surrounded by

countless multicoloured ‘mullock’ heaps,

rock discarded from the diggings in the

never-ending quest for Australia’s national

gemstone. Visit the site where teenager Willie

Hutchison first discovered opal in 1815

while searching for water, and you’ll wonder

how anything could be found in this barren

moonscape!

Try your luck “noodling” for a piece of

opal in the public fossicking area’s giant

mullock heap and you’ll wonder even more.

But don’t despair if you don’t get lucky there

– finding an opal souvenir in one of the

town’s many outlets is a sure thing!

Flight over Anna Creek Painted Hills

120 Globerovers · December 2019


AUSTRALIA SPECIAL REPORT

It’s estimated that over 70% of the world’s

opal has been extracted from Coober Pedy’s

70 opal fields and countless underground

mines, attracting miners and fortune hunters

from all around the world. At last count, 45

nationalities were represented in the town’s

population of around 2500.

Mining opal doesn’t come easily in this

harsh and unforgiving climate where rainfall

has been well under the annual average of

138 mm (5.5 inches) for two years in a row,

and temperatures regularly top 40° C (104°

F) in summer. That’s why you’ll find dwellings

(called “dugouts”), churches, accommodation,

opal outlets, shops and the world’s

only underground campground hacked

out of the rock below the surface where the

temperature’s a pleasant 24°C (75ºF) all year

round.

Living

underground

is bizarre. For

starters, there

aren’t any windows

so when

the lights are

off it’s dark. Totally dark. And silent. If you’ve

got an overactive imagination, having several

tonnes of rock above your head can be unnerving.

The pyramid-shaped metal caps

atop pipes sticking out of the ground are air

vents channelling fresh air into the buildings

underground, and stopping rain from dripping

underground through the vent.

The chances of rain in Coober Pedy on

our June 2019 visit were low, with the total

year-to-date rainfall only 19.8 mm (0.78

inches), way below average.

Flying over Lake Eyre

Coober Pedy Kanku-Breakaways

Luckily, the desert scenery doesn’t rely on

rain to look magnificent, especially 25 km

(15.5 miles) north of town at the Kanku-

Breakaways Conservation Park, with fantastic

rock formations rising out of what was once

an ancient sea bed. Drive out there at sunset

for amazing light and colours, or take a day

trip and drive the 70 km (43.5 mile) loop

trail down onto the old sea bed and past the

Dog Fence. Built in the 1880’s to keep dingos

(Australian wild dogs) from the south-east

pastoral area, the fence looks just like any

other farm fence-line, but at 5,614 km (1,488

mile) in length, it’s the longest continuous

man-made structure in the world.

If you think the Breakaways scenery

looks familiar, it’s possible you’ve seen it

before. That’s if you’ve watched movies like

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Pitch

Black, Red Planet, Stark or Ground Zero, all

of which were shot around here in a landscape

that needs no enhancement to look

post-apocalyptic!

Back in Coober Pedy, the Opal Fields

golf club, studded with rocks and its ‘greens’

black with machine oil, looks even more

post-apocalyptic. But it’s the only club in the

world with reciprocal playing rights at the

home of golf in Scotland, the 600-year-old St

Andrews Golf Club. Too hot to play during

the day? No problem! Just tee up with glowing

balls when it’s cooler at night – and keep

any opal you find!

Painted Desert

Coober Pedy’s most impressive natural

Contribution • Australia | 121


attraction is just a short distance away (by

outback standards), but a very long drive.

Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre’s whopping 9,500

square km (3,668 miles²) surface area makes

it Australia’s largest lake, and 13th largest

in the world. But it doesn’t have water in it

every year despite a huge catchment area of

1,140,000 square km – around 15% of Australia’s

land mass, and the size of Colombia.

On average, the lake has some water in it

every three years, a partial fill every 10 years,

and a complete fill every 25 years, although

the most recent was in 1974-76. It’s also the

site of Australia’s lowest natural point – 15.2

metres (49 ft) below sea level.

Whether or not I can claim to have

been to Lake Eyre just by flying over it, it’s

a bucket-list experience as arid mountain

ranges, river beds, lonely roads, dams and

sand dunes pass underneath in a magic

carpet of earthy colour offset by the waters

of this vast inland sea. And if I don’t hold the

record for most photos taken on a Lake Eyre

scenic flight, I gave it a red hot go!

The tiny, remote town of William Creek

(6 residents – and a dog!) is the closest point

of civilisation to Anna Creek Station, largest

working cattle station in the world at over

23,677 square km (9,142 miles²) and bigger

than El Salvador. After morning tea in William

Creek, we flew back to Coober Pedy

from Lake Eyre over the Anna Creek Painted

Hills, a panorama streaked with colours

We were in luck on this visit – waters

from heavy flooding in northern Queensland

earlier in the year are flowing into Lake Eyre

North in one of the best events in recent

years – it’s not a total fill, but it’ll do! By road,

it’s 230 km (143 miles) to the lake’s nearest

public access point – and it’s likely to take

around 4.5 hours, depending on track conditions.

So if you and your rig aren’t up for a

rocky, dusty, tyre-shredding drive over rugged

roads to see the lake, see it from the air

instead on a scenic flight that takes in a lot of

the surrounding countryside as well.

Riverbed near Lake Eyre

Coober Pedy Mullock Heaps

122 Globerovers · December 2019


direct from the outback palette. Far below,

a small plane on the edge of the Hills had

just disgorged a group of people for a guided

tour, the only way to explore this inaccessible

spot from the ground. Next time!

The Painted Desert, third, and arguably

most spectacular of the trifecta of exotic

rocks in the region, is about 153 km (95

miles) and a 4.5 hour drive north of Coober

Pedy. We took the alternative route north

for about 150 km (93 miles) up the Stuart

Highway to stay at Cadney Park roadhouse

and drive the 93 km (58 miles) east to the

Painted Desert on a road so rough we took

nearly three hours to get there.

Leave enough time to explore the Painted

Desert – vantage points overlook the impressive

panorama of eroded rock formations,

sweeping plains and roads heading east to

Oodnadatta and west to Cadney Homestead.

It’s a wild, remote landscape showcasing

the Outback’s vast distances and hidden

surprises – and also the courage and tenacity

it takes to run a station out here. Camp at

the Arckaringa Homestead, a few kilometres

from the easternmost lookout in the Painted

Desert, and return for some stunning sunset

shots. It’s a long way to anywhere from here,

so check with the locals for the optimum

tyre pressure to avoid punctures - it’ll be a lot

lower then you think!

Travel during the Australian late winter

and early spring (June-September) to avoid

the heat – and possibly see the stunning

Sturts Desert Pea, South Australia’s state

floral emblem.

The South Australian outback is full of

rewards for intrepid travellers who make the

effort to journey deep into its arid lands and

far beyond the tourist hot spots.

After experiencing its wide open spaces,

quirky towns, outback sunsets, panoramic

views and treasures of the earth, you just

might find yourself planning your return!

Marion Halliday blogs as

“Australia by Red Nomad OZ” at

www.redzaustralia.com.

Follow Marion @rednomadoz on Twitter,

Pinterest, Linked, and Flickr.

Facebook: RedzAustralia.

Buy her book: “Aussie Loos with Views!” at

Amazon.com, eBay and at

www.exploreaustralia.net.au

William Creek Township Coober Pedy warning sign Coober Pedy Catacombs Church

Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre

Contribution • Australia | 123


9 Intrepid Places to Visit in 2020

must-do

Anytime is a good time to plan upcoming travels, though the most difficult question is always “where to travel”. Among the key drivers

of such a decision are current exchange rates and speed of development and destruction. Mass tourism is rapidly expanding around

the world, and so is global warming which is having a decimating effect on the glaciers and small island nations. It is a race against

time to get to relatively untouched destinations before it is too late. Here are 9 highly recommended places to visit during the next year.

1

Svalbard Islands

NORWAY

You want to see Antarctica but it is way too expensive. You thought

about the North Pole but that is just not doable with your stamina

and budget. Consider the Svalbard Islands, the Norwegian archipelago

that is just over 1,000 kilometres (621 mi) south of the North

Pole. While you won’t see the penguins of Antarctica, you may see

polar bears and other wildlife such as whales and seals.

Unlike Antarctica, you can independently travel to Svalbard, book

your own flights and accommodation and take day tours or even

multi-day tours. You just can’t hike the hills by yourself as by law you

must be with a licensed rifleman when outside of any settlement.

2

Goroka Sing-Sing Festival

3

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

The Hermit Kingdom

NORTH KOREA

The annual Goroka Sing-Sing Festival, held during August and

September in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, is one of the

most colourful festivals in the world. However, this is not a budgetfriendly

destination. Flights to Papua New Guinea are expensive, as

are domestic flights. Hotels in the capital, Port Moresby, are excessively

expensive and low value for money. Port Moresby is also a

dangerous city and travellers are highly recommended not to leave

the hotel without a security guard. Walking around the city at night is

highly risky and must be avoided.

However, the Highlands are quite different. Festival participants are

generally friendly towards the few international visitors and always

ready to pose for cameras while wearing their colourful festival gear.

It is also possible to take guided hiking trips and stay with the locals.

Forget about being “politically correct” as this would mean there are

many countries you would not visit. Be engaged and get a first-hand

experience of life in strange places. Isn’t that what travel is all about?

Visiting North Korea is an eye-opener. While you may not get the

opportunity to meet with locals in the countryside, you will have

ample freedom to talk with the locals on the streets, but only if you

speak Korean. English is rare among the North Koreans although

some in Pyongyang do speak a little You will quickly realise that

the North Koreans are people just like all of us. The major difference

is that they have been brainwashed by their government,

which in itself is not so unique. The country has many interesting

attractions, in particular the architecture. Museums and their exhibits

are meticulously designed and displayed.

124 Globerovers · December 2019


4

Albanian Riviera

5

ALBANIA

Masuleh

IRAN

6

Corcovado Jungle

COSTA RICA

Albania was closed-off to outsiders for a

long time. Since it opened up during the

early 1990s, many tourists overlooked

Albania and chose to spend their holidays

in nearby Greece, Montenegro and

Croatia.

Iran has an uncertain future and the

sooner you visit this amazing country, the

better. While Iran has so many places of

great interest, and friendly people, one

of the most photogenic locations is the

mountain village of Masuleh.

Along the southwest Pacifi c coast of

Costa Rica, on the Osa Peninsula, lies

one of the most remote national parks in

the Americas. Corcovado National Park is

hard to reach but once you arrive you will

not want to leave.

Times are changing fast and Albania’s

share of the region’s tourist arrivals is

steadily increasing. Tourism and development

of the beautiful coastline of Albania

will continue to grow, along with the negative

impacts of mass tourism. Visit soon

before the masses arrive!

Located in the northwest of the country,

Masuleh was founded in the 10th century

AD and nowadays has a population of

about 500 which declines in winter and

increases dramatically in summer. Here

the kids’ playgrounds are the roofs of the

homes directly below theirs. Incredible!

Here you will find pristine waters and jungles.

Look out for ample wildlife including

the endangered Baird’s tapir, the American

crocodile and spectacled caiman, the

jaguar, ocelot, jaguarundi, puma, two-toed

and three-toed sloth, collared peccary,

northern tamandua and the silky anteater.

7

Southern Islands

8

Maluti Mountains

9

CAMBODIA

LESOTHO

Qobustan Volcano

AZERBAIJAN

Southern Cambodia is blessed with

turquoise coastal waters and beautiful

beaches. However, as the Chinese

resort and casino operators move in,

they have destroyed much of the laidback

atmosphere in the region’s largest

town, Sihanoukville. Development of the

tranquil islands is also a work in progress.

Now is the time to visit this region before

it changes beyond recognition.

Choose between several islands, including

Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem, Koh

Ta Kiev, Koh Russei, and Koh Tonsay.

The Kingdom of Lesotho is an enclaved

country within the borders of South Africa

with a population of around 2 million. The

country is known for its natural beauty, in

particular the Maluti (or Maloti) mountain

range, part of the 1,000 km (600 mi) long

Drakensberg system that stretches down

the eastern part of South Africa in a northeastern

direction.

Snow falls in the mountains, and there’s a

ski resort named Afriski. Almost all residents

are of the Basotho tribe, living mostly

in the highlands in their traditional huts.

Azerbaijan is a fascinating country with a

long rich history. However, the country is

developing fast which means that many of

its historic attractions are being demolished

to make way for modern development.

Along the Caspian Sea, 62 km (38 mi) to

the south of the nation’s capital Baku, is

one of the country’s most bizarre attractions.

The Qobustan State Reserve offers

prehistoric rock carvings, a natural musical

stone, and is home to about 300 of the

planet’s estimated 700 mud volcanoes.

Some of these occasionally spew fl ames!

125


Photo Essay

Corcovado, Costa Rica

Located on Costa Rica’s remote Osa Peninsula

along the Pacific Ocean, Corcovado National

Park was dubbed by National Geographic as

“the most biologically intense place on Earth

in terms of biodiversity.”

At 424 square kilometres (164 square miles),

Corcovado is the largest national park in Costa Rica and

protects about a third of the Osa Peninsula. It is also the

largest primary forest on the American Pacific coastline.

Here you will find an impressively diverse array

of 13 major ecosystems including lowland rain forest,

highland cloud forest, jolillo forest (palm swamp),

mangrove swamps, as well as coastal marine and

beach habitats. The park is home to an impressive 500

tree species, 400 species of birds (including 16 different

hummingbirds and the largest number of scarlet

macaws anywhere in Central America), more than

100 species of butterflies, at least 10,000 species of

other insects, 28 species of lizards, 40 species of frogs,

many species of snakes, as well as mammals such as

the Baird’s tapir, the rare harpy eagle, scarlet macaws,

jaguar, puma, red-backed squirrel monkeys, sloths,

white-lipped peccaries, and the list goes on and on.

Come hike and camp here but be warned that the

place can get wet, and is remote and very rugged. You

will often have to walk waist-deep through rivers, but

feel free to swim under the waterfalls surrounded by

the verdure of the rainforest. Water from the falls is

crystal clear, so feel free to drink.

Corcovado has about 39 kilometres (23 mi) of deserted

golden sand beaches lined with coconut palms.

Here you will only be disturbed by the occasional colossal

monitor lizard scavenging the beaches for morsels

from the sea. While swimming in the sea, be on the

126 Globerovers · December 2019


Corcovado

Jungle Trekking

Costa Rica

Corcovado is one of the most remote national parks in the

Americas and is home to pristine waters and a jungle

TEEMING WITH EXOTIC WILDLIFE.

lookout for hammerhead sharks, crocodiles, and bull

sharks which are common in Corcovado Lagoon and the

estuaries of the Ríos Claro and Sirena.

Note that over the last few years, new regulations

have come into action. Visitors are no longer allowed to

explore the park without a guide. There are also strict

regulations in place in terms of where to sleep and how

to behave in the park.

Entering the park from the south is best done by

taking a boat from Golfito across the gulf to Puerto Jiménez.

From here arrange the necessary permits at the

Osa Conservation Area administrative headquarters.

Permits in hand, get a ride on a four-wheel-drive

or the back of a pickup truck to Carate on the Pacific

Coast. From Carate you can walk on the beach and

through the jungle to La Leona Ranger Station 2

kilometres (1.2 mi), or to Sirena Ranger Station 15

kilometres (9 mi) along Playa Madrigal beach. From

Sirena Ranger Station it is possible to exit the park via

San Pedrillo and Drake Bay to the north.

Corcovado does not play games. If you want to visit

planet earth’s “most biologically intense place”, be

well prepared and be tough. There are many dangerous

animals in this dense tropical jungle. Come out

alive and it will be an experience you will never forget!

Photo Essay • Costa Rica | 127


Corcovado, Costa Rica

Coastline along the hike to Sirene Ranger Station.

The road from Puerto Jiménez to Carate by the

sea, where the long beach hike starts.

Shopping along the beach hike.

The Sirene Ranger Station where hikers can sleep in

dormitories or camp in tents.

Backpackers bonding at the

Sirene Ranger Station.

128 Globerovers · December 2019


The only way to get to the ranger station (and hopefully find a

bed), is to walk on the beach. Some do it donkey-style.

Beach along the hike to Sirene Ranger Station.

Photo Essay • Costa Rica | 129


Spectacled caiman.

Red-eyed leaf frog.

Red-eyed leaf frog.

Tajalines crab.

130 Globerovers · December 2019


Corcovado, Costa Rica

Green Basilisk lizard.

Common Basilisk lizard (male).

Tajalines crab.

Common Basilisk lizard (female).

Whiptail lizard.

Photo Essay • Costa Rica | 131


Corcovado, Costa Rica

Baird’s tapir.

Brown-throated three-toed sloth.

Boat-billed heron.

White faced capuchin monkey.

Howler monkey.

132 Globerovers · December 2019


Iguana.

Scarlet macaws.

Brown-throated three-toed sloth.

Tri-coloured heron.

Photo Essay • Costa Rica | 133


134 Globerovers · December 2019


135


Northwest Territories

Fort Resolution

Canada’s Wild and Beautiful

Words and Photos by Yrene Dee,

a Lumby (British Columbia, Canada)

based writer and adventurer.

The side-trip to Fort Resolution,

the Chipewyan and

Métis town on the south

shore of Great Slave Lake, was one of

the highlights of my trip to the Northwest

Territories this summer. It was

not only the beautiful town itself that

captured my heart, but it also was

the wonderful people I met during my

short stay.

This tiny, remote community of

570 residents seems to be a forgotten

destination on the tourist trail.

I stopped to get gasoline in Hay River

the day before and mentioned my intention

to visit Fort Resolution to the cashier

behind the desk. He just shrugged his

shoulders: “Fort Res, waste of time” he

muttered, “nothing there”.

I didn’t let myself get off the hook

so quickly. One purpose of my northern

road trip was to visit all of Northwest

Territories small communities

with access roads.

It’s hard to imagine what it is like

living in a remote northern community,

surrounded by wilderness with hardly

any people. The majority of southerners,

as well as the rest of the world,

know little about what life is like in

Canada’s North.

The 84 kilometres (52 mi) tour to

Fort Resolution from the Fort Smith

Highway junction seemed to be a

small price to pay to find out what this

place was all about. And I’m glad I did.

Not many travellers venture this

way and it’s easy to miss. Like other

roads in the Northwest Territories, Fort

Resolution Highway 6 takes you to

where the road runs out; it takes you

to a magic place.

Historic Fort Resolution is situated

in the South Slave Region of the

Northwest Territories, in the land of

waterfalls and wonders. The region

includes the glorious deep freshwater

Great Slave Lake, North America’s

second deepest lake. It is also the

gateway to wildlife and sanctuaries

with roaming herds of bison, endangered

whooping cranes and wolves at

Buffalo Provincial Park.

Fort Res, as it is called by locals,

is the oldest documented European

settlement in the Northwest Territories.

It was founded when the Hudson Bay

Company began trading for furs in the

1780s.

First located at the mouth of the

Slave River, the hamlet was moved to

its present site in 1796. The first settlers

were Cree-Métis. By 1852 priests

arrived and established a mission and

a school. During the 1840s and 1850s,

Fort Resolution was the largest trading

post on Great Slave Lake.

Today trapping remains an important

way of life in the community,

together with commercial fishing and

timber harvesting.

I drove into the hamlet on a gor-

Boardwalk along the Great Slave Lake shore

136

Globerovers •· July December 2019 2019


geous sunny morning in June after

camping for a night at Little Buffalo

River Crossing Territorial Park, only 30

kilometres (19 mi) away,

Highway 6 is paved all the way to

Fort Resolution but it was a bumpy

ride. Roller coaster bumps are an effect

of melting permafrost on northern

highways.

The streets were empty and the

town looked sleepy when I arrived, but

not for long. I parked at the waterfront

and strolled along the sandy beach. A

man was walking his dog. Two others

walked over to me and asked whether

I needed help. By that time I was sure

that I was the only stranger in town.

Shortly after, I met Louis Balsillie,

the Chief of the hamlet. He answered

some questions I had and shared

insight about life in this remote northern

community. Additionally, he warned me

about bears on the boardwalk trail to

Mission Island, a 45-minute hike along

the lakeshore. Since bears don’t scare

me, I of course, hiked this beautiful trail,

enjoying deep blue skies and a stunning

lake views on a steaming hot day.

Mission Island is a piece of heaven

stretching out into Great Slave Lake.

It is connected to Fort Resolution by

a long boardwalk along calm, shallow

waters and rocky beaches stretching

as for as you can see. When I got to

Mission Island I felt like arriving in another

world. Log cabins and tipis with

information panels along the lakeshore

shaped the landscape telling the stories

of an era gone by.

According to Chief Louis Balsillie, today

the site is used for healing workshops

and cultural events for his community.

Chief Louis turned up shortly after

I started exploring this magical place,

once he saw that I arrived safely he

left again.

I left Fort Resolution late afternoon after

an extraordinary day and was thankful

that I drove to the end of the trail.

Fort Resolution is a place that will

tell you a story, and give you a story to

tell once you get home. If you venture

this way you will be left with special

memories, forever.

I knew that my day’s adventure

wasn’t over yet as I left town and

headed to the abandoned site of Pine

Point located 45 minutes down the

highway. Pine Point was once among

the largest mining towns in the North

and all that is left today is an eerie

network of paved roads and sidewalks

The church at Mission Island

Canada

blending in with the wilderness.

I parked my car in the middle

of a street and stepped out onto

the cracked concrete. A few poplar

saplings had broken through the

pavement where I stood and reached

towards the bright sky. Looking around

me I could feel a kind of sadness and

nostalgia in the air. The town only

existed from 1964 until 1988. All that’s

left today is a story about people’s

lives, tragedy and the hard truth of a

lost town.

Roman Catholic Church

The calm waters of Great Slave Lake

The only original building left

at Mission Island

Yrene is the founder of BackcountryCanadaTravel.com. She was born in

Switzerland, lived and worked on different continents and travelled the

world before she settled in Canada. She is an entrepreneur, wilderness

nut, and animal lover who prefers off-the-beaten-track places.

Follow Yrene on Twitter @backcountrycana, Facebook @ backcountrycanada, and

Instagram @backcountrycanadatravel.

Contribution • Canada |137


Ta st yTraveller's Treats

Authentic, affordable, clean food is every traveller’s dream.

Enjoy these tasty morsels from far-away places.

Japan

Japan

Japan

138 Globerovers · December 2019


Bali

Malaysia

Colombia Japan

Hong Kong

Vietnam Oman

Macau Hong Kong

Japan

South Africa

Myanmar

Colombia Indonesia Albania

Oman South Africa

Japan Timor Leste

Malaysia

139


140 Globerovers · December 2019


141


“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Volunteering

To pay or not to pay...

By Claire Bennett, Learning Service

Claire lives and works in Kathmandu, Nepal, and freelances

as a trainer and consultant. She is passionate about global

education, ethical travel and ensuring good intentions are

put to good use.

Claire recently released her book: Learning Service: The

Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad.

For more information about volunteering, visit

www.learningservice.info

this was limiting the organization in terms

of how many volunteers we could host as

we couldn’t meet their costs. Volunteers

now have to pay a small contribution for

the accommodation that they stay in (this

doesn’t actually cover the full cost and is far

less than rent in their own country), and a

one-off contribution that goes towards the

costs of recruiting and hosting them.”

The much-debated topic in volunteer

travel is “to pay or not to

pay”. On the surface, paying a

fee to volunteer can seem like a

contradiction in terms—if you are already

offering your time for free and covering

your expenses, why should you also have

to pay? However, the learning service approach

emphasizes that you, as a volunteer,

are a major beneficiary of the process.

Volunteers are not free—it takes a lot

of time, capacity, and money to create and

support a great volunteer experience. The

costs might include marketing and recruitment

costs for the organization to attract

the right volunteers, staff to vet partners

and provide pre- and post-placement support,

and all the in-country costs of hosting

volunteers.

One volunteer hosting organization

said, “Initially volunteers didn’t have to pay

anything, but we realized after a while that

The biggest piece of advice that we have

at Learning Service is to find out how the

volunteer fees are used. Fees may go to the

sending organization to cover the costs of

placing you in a volunteer role, to the local

organization directly to host you, or both.

The fee may include a charitable donation

for the cause you are volunteering to

support. It may also include a large profit

margin for a company. A downside to the

spread of fee-charging placements is that

unscrupulous organizations take on more

volunteers simply for financial gain, even

when there are no roles for them.

So in addition to finding out where

your funds are going, ask questions to find

out if your role really is needed. When you

have the answer and the fee breakdown,

you can reflect on the value for money it

represents and your opinion on the ethics

of the income distribution.

142 Globerovers · December 2019

Photo: Pixabay

There are ways to volunteer that

do not require a placement fee. Some

matching portals intentionally do not


exchange money with hosting organizations

in the belief that this helps ensure that

volunteers are valued and needed, and not

relied on to generate funds. Some of the

larger government-funded or faith-based

organizations cover volunteer expenses or

even provide a living stipend.

If you do not pay a volunteer fee, think

about who is subsidizing the costs associated

with your placement. It may be you,

taking more time to research and set up

logistics yourself, or the organization overseas

might be taking on extra costs because

they need your skills.

Being aware of all the resources and

time that go into your volunteer placement

and how those might be covered will help

you make the right decision about whether

to pay a placement fee or not.

A final word of warning: it is not

the case that the more you pay, the better

quality the service. We spoke with many

volunteers who paid a lot of money for

their placement and ended up dissatisfied,

often because they had assumed that their

money was going towards things that it was

not.

Not all fee-charging placements have

effective policies for selecting partners or

matching needs, and not all of them offer

much support for volunteers or for partners.

Sometimes none of the money you

pay even reaches the country where you

volunteer.

The bottom line is that good organizations,

for a fee, can do a lot of the logistical

legwork required to provide you with a

positive experience, while the worst organizations

might take your money in profit

and yet still leave you in a disorganized and

poorly planned volunteer placement.

This article is an edited extract from Learning

Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad,

written by Claire Bennett, Joseph Collins, Zahara

Heckscher and Daniela Papi-Thornton.

Learning Service: The Essential

Guide to Volunteering Abroad

is full of advice on how to volunteer

abroad ethically. It is available to

buy from Amazon.

Follow us:

@learningservice

@Learnser

@learning.service

Photo: Pixabay

Contribution • Volunteering | 143


Po st c a r ds

Olá Mommy,

My first postcard comes

from a church standing on

the shores of a beautiful

caldera lake on a remote

Atlantic Ocean island!

This is the Chapel of

Nossa Senhora das

Vitórias in Furnas, São

Miguel Island, Azores,

PORTUGAL. This privately

owned church was

inaugurated in 1886. The

owner is buried inside.

Love, Lizzy

Salut my loving Mom,

It is freezing cold in the

French-speaking province

of Canada. Yesterday we

had lots of snow so today

I’m having so much fun.

Look at this nice ice slide

right next to the iconic

Hotel Fairmont Le Château

Frontenac in Quebec City,

CANADA. Mom, this

is so much fun, I’m going

down again. Love ya, Lizzy

Ciao Mom,

I’m in a country totally

enclaved by Italy. It is very

small and located high on

top of a mountain. This

is the Castello Della

Cesta, SAN MARINO.

The country is also known

as “Most Serene Republic

of San Marino”. Haha

Love, Lizzy

144 Globerovers · December 2019


to ommby ... Lizzy

Mommy

Ciao Mom,

I am where the pasta and

the wines are the best.

You know I love Italian

wine since I spent time in

Tuscany in 1996. These

towers were built between

the 12th and the 13th

century. They are called

The Leaning Towers

of Bologna - Asinelli

(tallest) and Garisenda

Tower (leaning), ITALY.

Mom, I’m drunk. Love, Liz

Olá Mom,

This is the Ribeira Waterfront in Porto, PORTUGAL

I love it so much here because the wine is very affordable

and so good! I’m now so tipsy. Luv, Lizzy

Sawasdee kaaaaaa Mom,

I’m sorry about this not-sofamily-friendly

photo on this

postcard. These monkeys

tried to impress me with

their tricks. They are

Macaques at the Phra

Prang Sam Yod Temple,

Lopburi, THAILAND.

Love, Lizzy

Postcards to Mommy |

145


More Postcards to Mommy

Mingalarbar Mom,

I am celebrating the New

Year Festival in Nagaland,

MYANMAR. This

is a very remote part of

the world and not far

from the India border. The

people here are still very

traditional and so friendly.

Love you, Lizzy

Hola Mom,

Lovely old house in Cahuita, COSTA RICA.

This rustic village is along the Caribbean Sea and

gateway to the Cahuita National Park. Luv, Lizzy

Hola Mom,

I’m in the jungle in search

of exotic wildlife. Just as

I was walking down a

tiny path I saw a Twotoed

Sloth, in Cahuita

National Park, COSTA

RICA. The sloths are so

cute hanging upside down.

I also saw lots of wildlife.

Love, Lizzy

146 Globerovers · December 2019


... by Lizzy

Kalimera Mom,

From Albania I took a ferry and now I have great views over the old

city from the Old Fortress, Corfu town on Corfu Island, GREECE.

Corfu Island is an interesting island and the old town has lots to see.

Love, Lizzy

Hola Mom,

I am standing in front of the Iglesia de San Jerónimo,

Masaya, NICARAGUA. It was built in 1928 but badly

damaged in the earthquake of 2000.

My donkey cart is waiting Mom, Lizzy

Hola Mom,

Last night I walked through

the streets in search of

a place to eat, then I met

a dutch woman and a

Swedish and a Dutch guy.

They convinced me to

hike up the active Volcan

Conception, Ometepe

Island, Lake Nicaragua,

NICARAGUA.

It took 5 hours to hike up

and 5.5 to get down. Mom

I almost died! Was very hot

and windy at the top.

Your crazy daughter Lizzy.

Postcards to Mommy | 147


SUPER

TRAVELLERS SPOTLIGHT

in the

A GlobeRovers Q&A with the “Nomad Revelations” travel blogger at : www.joaoleitao.com

João Leitão of joaoleitao.com

João Leitão is a travel blogger that writes

about exciting journeys into more than

130 countries across Africa, Antarctica,

Asia, Europe, North to South America

and Oceania. Portuguese expat living

in Morocco since 2006, Joao loves to

indulge himself into other cultures and

learn about their languages and deep

traditional values. Although he travels by

all means of transportation, João has a

notorious passion for driving. The ability

to decide where to go to and where to

stop, makes him have a full sense of freedom

while on the road and on his own.

• Turkey » Historically rich and diverse, amazing food and

friendly people.

• Portugal » My home country, full of history, great food, humble

people and the country in Europe with more heritage per

square km.

• Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan »

This mountain region gets my attention due to the incredible

landscapes and a very specific culture.

• Brazil » Friendly people, good food, incredibly diverse, the

Amazon regions and the Portuguese heritage architecture

spread all around its territory.

GlobeRovers (GR): We talked with João Leitão about his travels

and started by asking how many countries he has visited.

João Leitão (JL): As of September 2019, I have visited 127 UN

countries but also about 20 non-recognized countries or autonomous

territories spread around the globe. Just recently that I actually

started counting how many countries I’ve been because that was

never my intent. I would have finished all the countries in the world

if I wouldn’t repeat my trips and always come back to the places

I really like in order to explore in-depth. Mauritania I’ve been 7

times, Uzbekistan 5 times, Turkey 14 times, etc, etc.

GR: What are your top 5 most preferred countries for leisure travel?

JL: Tough question but here’s my top 5:

• Morocco » A colorful exotic kingdom full of welcoming and

positive people, with ancient history and landscape diversity.

MYANMAR

GR: Which is your most preferred country for travel and why?

JL: Morocco is my top favorite country to travel to. Although I live

and work in Morocco for more than 12 years, every day I feel that

I’m on the road. The colors, the smiling people, the rich gastronomy,

the breathtaking landscapes and above all is the safety and

feeling welcomed by Moroccan people on a daily basis.

GR: Where do you wish you were right now?

JL: At this moment, I am where I want to be. I’m home, in Ouarzazate,

Morocco.

MOROCCO

GR: Among those countries you have not yet visited, which ones

are at the top of your “must do” list?

JL: Realistically, at this moment I can say I’ve been to all the places

I really wanted to visit, that is why I often return to the same places

instead of making new countries just for the sake of having another

number added to my list. I would like to return and explore more

Turkey, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Russia. I would like to visit Syria

and Pakistan.

148 Globerovers · December 2019


GR: If you could spend the rest of your life somewhere other

than your current home country, which country would that be?

JL: I’m an expat in Morocco since 2006. I also lived more than halfyear

in countries such as Poland, the USA, Finland, Turkey, and

Ukraine.

After I finished university, and following a strong impulse, I moved

to the Sahara Desert with no plans. I just went looking for a place

where I really wanted to be. The rest happened naturally. Nowadays

I have a hotel and a travel agency in the city of Ouarzazate.

Living abroad is very rewarding because we can really immerse

ourselves in a certain culture through daily living with the local

people. Personally, and as I love learning languages, I always make

an effort of improving or learning more about a country language.

GR: Please tell us about the most incredible and memorable

experience you have ever had while travelling?

JL: Never a country I visited left me indifferent. I would go back to

all the countries I’ve been to. That is, everywhere left a mark in me

in their own way.

At this point, and after 20 years on the road, there are so many

memorable experiences that it is kind of hard to put a list together.

But just to mention a few: 1-year 4x4 campervan trip around

Central Asia and the Middle East; the Galapagos archipelago; few

months crossing the Amazon by boat from the Atlantic all the way

to Peru and Ecuador; an Antarctica expedition below the 66º; Egypt

to Sudan by boat up the Nile River; hitchhiking in the Jammu and

Kashmir mountainous region; road trip from Ecuador “Mitad del

Mundo” all the way to Ushuaia “Fin del Mundo”. Etc etc...

GR: Where was the biggest cultural shock you have ever experienced

while traveling and why?

JL: I have never been overwhelmed and culturally shocked during

my travels. Although visiting Mosul city in Iraq just a few months

after its liberation was a bit depressing especially due to the smell of

4000 rotten corpses inside the destroyed old city. The three years of

war with ISIS left devastating marks in Mosul, and both its historical

heritage and its people suffered irreplaceable losses.

GR: What is the most challenging destination you have ever

visited and why?

JL: Possibly crossing some parts of South Sudan and the Democratic

Republic of the Congo, where I had to be escorted by the UN

blue helmets after having some unfortunate encounter with local

people armed with machetes. Furthermore, on the trip, I got myself

into a Congolese hospital with Malaria. The whole story is very

complex, but basically it can be resumed to this.

GR: Based on your travel experiences, if you were to recommend

the one most amazing destination for intrepid travellers, which

place would that be, and why?

JL: Maybe the Yemeni Hadhramaut region which I had the pleasure

of visiting last year. Morocco due to its landscape variety and exotic

vibes, and of course Iran where I had the pleasure to spend four

months on three different trips.

GR: Which people by nationality or subgroup would you say

have been the most hospitable during your travels and why do

you say so?

JL: Without a doubt, all ethnicities inside Morocco, Iran, Turkey,

Afghanistan, and the Russian North Caucasian Federal District’s

YEMEN

149


BRAZIL

autonomous republics. In all these countries and in many occasions,

people get kind of anxious-stressed-sad, if they can’t take you home,

feed you and really welcome you to their home to meet their family.

GR: Let’s get a bit more personal. Do you have any “must take”

items when you travel that you think most travellers don’t think of?

JL: I travel very light never passing 7-10kg of luggage. For a long

time, I exchanged my heavy photo equipment for a good quality

mobile phone. Amazing.

GR: What are the travel apps you use most often while traveling

and why do you find them so useful?

JL: “Maps.me” is very useful to pinpoint offline destinations and

visited places. “Travel Money” app is an easy way of tracking your

expenses while on the road.

GR: Let’s talk about food. Which one country that you visited

has the best food in the world?

JL: For my personal preferences, Turkey and China have the best

food. I turned vegetarian around 14 or 15 years old, so without

a doubt that those two countries make me feel I could get fat if I

stayed longer. In fact, last time I was in Turkey for 2.5 months, I got

an incredible extra 5 kg in weight.

IRAN

GR: Where was the best meal you have ever had during your

travels?

JL: All the meals in any food court in China; Turkish side dishes

and desserts; Moroccan beans, bissara soup, and vegetable couscous;

Best chocolate mousse in Potosí, Bolivia. Best fava beans

breakfast stew in Ethiopia, Sudan, and Yemen. Palestinian and

Israeli falafel and humous are very tasty also.

GR: What is the weirdest place you have ever spent a night?

JL: Wild camping in the middle of the Mauritanian Sahara Desert

and waking up being surrounded by armed people in 4x4 circling

me at high speed; Switching on the light in a cheap hotel in

Honduras and watching thousands of cockroaches fleeing the room

giving the surreal vision as if the walls were moving.

GR: Based on all your travel experiences, what is the best tip you

can offer to new travellers?

JL: There are two types of travelers: those who make their path and

those who follow the already beaten paths.

I would start to say that they shouldn’t waste much time reading

other people’s blogs, because consequently they will make other

people’s dream trips, and never being able to follow your own

discoveries.

Nowadays, people are not looking for their own adventures. People

follow the travels of others. The dreams of others. The adventures

of others. And the places where others took that picture posted on

Instagram.

GR: What is the single best lesson you have learned about the

world during your travels?

JL: Traveling means exploring the unknown. I don’t really travel to

discover myself since at every stage of my life I knew what I wanted,

or the goals I desire to achieve.

I travel to see new things, meet different people and cultures. Basically,

I think I travel to broaden my horizons. That’s it. I get great

satisfaction from being on the road, especially when I have a bit of

adventure on the go.

150 Globerovers · December 2019


During traveling I learned that we all smile, cry, love our family

and like to eat, have fun and enjoy life. Travel can truly reinforce

and challenge our convictions greater than any experience. We are

pushed to the limit in understanding humans.

GR: What is the main focus of your travels?

JL: I like to focus on people, history, and nature. I somehow have

a preference for dusty and warm countries, so it is fantastic to be

able to visit an ancient desert city with friendly people. I like to visit

UNESCO World Heritage Sites that I now count 329 in total. I love

petroglyphs and castles.

GR: You have a popular travel blog and you have a strong social

media following. Some posts are much liked and reposted while

others are not. What do you think makes a travel post popular?

JL: What makes a post popular, is how often and how high it appears

on Google searches. The higher you rank in a search engine,

the more visitors you will get and consequently the more shares you

will get on social media. It doesn’t matter what kind of destination

you have, because there are enough Internet users to share everything

you wrote about. You just need to make yourself noticed.

GR: Travel bloggers who visit intrepid, off-the-beaten-track destinations,

or secret city spots, often have a hard time deciding on

whether they should keep the secret, or broadcast it to the world

to gain lots of attention and new followers (and likely change

that secret location and its people’s lives forever). What are your

thoughts on this? Should we keep the secrets?

JL: I do understand your point. From the start that I blog to share

information so that people can freely explore places that usually

thought to be accessible. But quickly I understood, that people

started to make my trips, instead of making their own trips. Nowadays,

most people dream to make the trips that other bloggers

make, instead of searching for their own adventures. So sometimes

that hidden special place will stop being so secret and special.

GR: Where are you off to next?

JL: I had nothing scheduled for 2019, and also nothing in mind for

2020. I’m just enjoying being home at the moment. I returned from

a two-year trip so I’m kind of OK not being on the road soon.

GR: And finally, let us do a few rapid-fire questions...

• Favorite airline? TAP, QATAR, EMIRATES.

• Favorite cities? Ouarzazate, Marrakech, Lisbon, Khiva, Yazd,

Istanbul, etc etc

• Favorite village? So many really...

• Favorite beach? All nice and non-polluted sandy beaches.

• Beach or mountain? Both.

• Couch or camping? Camping.

• Bus or train? Both.

• The best words to describe yourself? A curious-silly-polyglot-visual

artist from Portugal living in Morocco, that enjoys

a bit of adventure travel.

GR: Thanks João for sharing your travel wisdom with us. Safe

travel sand keep up with your blog and social media posts to

inspire people to travel and experience the world.

If you ever visit Ouarzazate, stay at João’s

beautiful guest house, Dar Rita. He also

operates RJ Travel Agency to help you plan

your Moroccan adventures.

Follow João Leitão

BLOG

www.joaoleitao.com

FACEBOOK

facebook.com/joaoleitaoviagens

TWITTER

twitter.com/joaoleitao

INSTAGRAM

instagram.com/joaoleitaoviagens

PINTEREST

www.pinterest.com/joaoleitao

INDIA

151


BOOK REVIEW

GlobeRovers Magazine (GM): What, in a nutshell, is this book

about?

Adam Rogers (AR): The Intrepid Traveler is part travelogue, part

travel guide—to anywhere on earth you can imagine going. It

is about traveling to explore and experience what is beyond the

horizons—the horizons “out there” and those that lie within us.

It is my vision that through increased travel and a greater understanding

of the world in which we live, that the world will become

a better place. Global peace and global stability can only come

through global understanding. Understanding comes through

connecting and interacting. Connecting and interacting is what

we should do when we travel.

GM: What inspired you to write this book?

Now available at

Amazon.com, Goodreads.com and

many other online and offline retailers

Globerovers Magazine talks with Adam Rogers about his

new revised (3rd edition) book: The Intrepid Traveler.

Adam is a peripatetic writer and explorer who has been

on the road for most of the past 40 years. He is the author

of numerous books including The Intrepid Traveler,

Taking Action, The Earth Summit and The No Mammal

Manifesto: Diet for a new and more sustainable world.

AR: The first edition of this book emerged from a five-year,

around-the-world odyssey that brought me to 50 countries on less

than 100 dollars a month. At that time, the only plan I had was to

leave my home in the northern Yukon Territory of Canada and

Palmyra, Syria, 1984

The Intrepid Traveler

by Adam Rogers

Visit Adam‛s website at www.adamrogers.online

and follow him on Twitter at @adamrogers2030

and on Instagram @ g.adamrogers

keep traveling east until I would end up in the west. When I left, I

thought I could do it in one year, but it ended up taking much longer.

The book was an attempt to both share my experiences and

impart some advice—of situations to seek, and others to avoid.

GM: Why had so much time passed between the 2nd and 3rd

editions?

AR: Not long after the 2nd edition came out, I joined the United

Nations in 1996 and worked there for 22 years. During that time

I was not allowed to published books under my name without

clearance—and in any case I was always too busy writing and

photographing for them. When I took early retirement in 2018, I

knew it was time for a long-overdue update.

While the 1st and 2nd editions were written with the backpacker

in mind – the “traveler” as opposed to the “tourist,” this new

edition expands that understanding to focus on the attitude one

brings to the travel experience. Whether a budget traveler or

Fortune 500 jetsetter, whether you are 18 or 80 years old and travel

with a backpack, a duffel bag or a suitcase, the message is to avoid

“doing” a country and to instead focus on “experiencing” it.

GM: If you could summarize your travel advice in one phrase,

what would it be?

AR: If I had to summarize my travel philosophy in one phrase, it

would be to make sure that our first memories of a travel experience

are not of things we can see on a postcard, or watch on TV.

Our first travel memories should be of the people we

met while there, of conversations and experiences

we shared with them. By all means, see the Egyptian

pyramids; hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu; and

walk on the Great Wall of China, and climb the Eiffel

Tower. But hang out in a local café away from the

tour buses and talk to the descendants of the people

who built those monuments; get to know a family

running an AirBnB; learn local history from your

taxi driver, or take a language lesson from a local

teacher. I always find that the time spent getting to

know the local people is in direct proportion to the

depth and enjoyment of the travel experience—and

152 Globerovers · December 2019


N’Guigmi, Niger, 1999

Dakar Senegal, 1983

every travel experience is as unique and extraordinary as the

person traveling.

In the history of this world there has never been a better time to

explore and never a greater need for increased awareness of the

principles and practices of responsible, ethical, sustainable, and

experiential travel. I really hope that my book can both entertain

and inspire experienced travelers and also encourage people who

have not hitherto done so, to get a passport and set out to explore

those places they have always heard about, and make new friends

while they are there.

GM: How many countries have you visited and what is your

favourite one?

AR: When I started travelling I kept count of countries like a

badge of honour, or notches in my belt. But with time I saw it gets

complicated to keep track. Plus, when you go back to the same

place after ten years, it can be a completely different place. I have

been to both Upper Volta and Burkina Faso – does that count for

two or one? When you are in Israel, you are also in Palestine—

does that count for two?

As for a favourite country, I can not really say I have one—but I do

have a favourite planet.

GM: Do you still have a bucket list after 40 years of exploring

this planet?

AR: Yes, actually, I do have a bucket list and I am starting to make

plans now that I have a bit more time. The Camino Santiago is at

the top of the list, as are the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan,

the trans-Siberian railway and Mount Vinson, the highest peak in

Antarctica. The challenge with bucket lists is that the closer you

get to checking everything off, new things keep appearing on the

list. And that is how it should be for an Intrepid Traveler.

GM: Thank you Adam. I really enjoyed this book and it offered

me a lot of advice for my own future travels.

153


In a future issue...

Southern Cambodia

The Cambodian islands in the Gulf of Thailand have long been ignored by most

travellers who tend to flock to neighbouring Thailand. Cambodia’s islands are known

for their lapis-blue waters, jungle-clad interior, swaths of white sand beaches, and

bioluminescent plankton that glows at night. We travelled along the southern coast to

explore the beaches of Ochheuteal and Otres, the colonial towns of Kampot and Kep,

and a few unspoiled idyllic islands including Tonsay, Russei, Rong, and Rong Sanloem.

Tibet - The Roof of the World

Tibet stretches over 2.5 million square kilometres (965,000 sq mi), located south

of China. Here you will find the vast Tibetan Plateau, a region of mountains and

stunning scenery that is generally above 4,000 to 5,000 metres (13,100 to 16,400

ft) in elevation. Tibet is also a land of monks, known as the Bhikkhu, with ample

monasteries they call home. This remote land is often called “The roof of the world”

officially known as the Tibet (Xizang) Autonomous Region (TAR) of China.

Russia’s Lake Baikal

Located in southern Russia’s Siberia, the long crescent-shaped Lake Baikal is the

world’s largest freshwater lake by volume, containing almost a quarter of the world’s

fresh surface water. As the world’s deepest lake, with some of the clearest waters,

Lake Baikal contains more water than the five large North American Great Lakes

combined. The lake is even more impressive during the bitterly cold winters when it

freezes up to 1.5 metres thick, creating an incredible landscape.

Latvia of the Balkans

Latvia, annexed and occupied by the U.S.S.R. since June 1940, declared its independence

on August 21, 1991. Since then, this Baltic country which is squeezed between

Estonia to the north and Lithuania to the south, has increasingly attracted intrepid

travellers with its pristine natural attractions, imposing castles, fortresses, and its

many religious buildings. We explore the cosmopolitan capital Rīga as well as Sigulda,

Turaida, Cēsis, Rundāle, and Bauska. An intriguing country worth a visit.

Brazil’s Paradise Beaches

Brazil is well known for its beautiful beaches. With a coastline stretching for over 7,491

km (4,650 mi) along the South Atlantic Ocean, Brazil has more beaches than we can

count. Its tropical climate and sunlight ensure that beach bums can get a bronze tan

while enjoying the warm surf. We travel from Salvador da Bahia, one of the oldest colonial

cities in the Americas, south along the coast to the beaches of Arraial d’Ajuda and

Trancoso, then onwards to the tropical Ilha Grande Island, and end in Rio de Janeiro.

Myanmar’s Southern Coastline

The coastline from Yangon to Kawthaung, the southernmost town in Myanmar, is

rugged, unspoiled, and undeveloped. While the distance by road is well over 1,000

km (620 mi), much of this road just recently opened up for foreigners. Tourist

infrastructure such as transport and accommodation remain sparse, but the situation

is poised to change in the near future. We travel by train, bus, minivan, and

motorbike, to explore the beautiful coastline devoid of tourists and touristy shops.

Palenque - Mexico’s Ancient Mayan Ruins

Located in the foothills of the Chiapas altiplano of modern Mexico, Palenque was

an important Maya city that flourished between about 600 to 750 AD. Known as

Lakamha by the Mayans, the Spanish colonists called it Palenque, meaning ‘fortified

place’. It is estimated that Palenque once had over 1,000 different structures and at

its peak was the most densely populated of all the Mayan cities. Come along as we

stroll around the ruins of this ancient city.

154 Globerovers · December 2019


In the

next issue

Southern

Cambodia

155


156 Globerovers · December 2019



More magazines by this user