An Adventurers Journal

Reasons why you shouldn’t ignore Wales

England and Scotland are two destinations in the United Kingdom that are often visited by travelers. Whether it is the beautiful Cotswolds in the English countryside or the Scottish Highlands. The small country of Wales, on the other hand, is often ignored. Although that is unjustified. And here is why.

It has the village with the second longest name in the world

It will take a while before you enter this in your GPS, but when you visit Wales you should not forget to stop in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. The small village in the north of Wales is a must visit for tourists who want to take a picture at the station and stamp their passport.

Snowdonia

Literally and figuratively the highlight in terms of nature in Wales. The Snowdonia National Park guarantees beautiful mountain landscapes. It also has the highest mountain in Wales within its borders. Snowdon is a frequently set goal by hikers who want to complete the Three Peaks Challenge. Fortunately for people who are not up for the more than 1000 meters high climb there is also a train leading to the summit.

Coasteering

Can it get more adventurous than climbing Snowdon? Then you better head towards the Pembrokeshire coastline where one of the most adventurous activities was born: coasteering. During a coasteering session you move from point A to point B along the rugged cliffs of the coast. Not only does this mean a lot of climbing, but you also have to do cliff jumping and swimming in the wild sea.

Myths and legends

The heart of Welsh culture can be found in many myths and legends. What many people do not know is that many of these legends are the basis of world-famous stories and characters such as Lord of the Rings and Merlin.

The coastline

Wales has an impressive coastline. Not only do you find many hidden beaches that you have all to yourself, but in the north the views of the rugged cliffs that separate the green landscape from the blue ocean are very impressive. With luck you can even see a seal, dolphin or puffin popping up.

The castles

Wales has more than 600 castles. Many of these castles, however, have become ruins that remind us of the Middle Ages, but a hundred are still in full glory. In the south Cardiff Castle and Caerphilly Castle are two castles that are worth the effort to visit. Conwy Castle in the north is one of the most visited castles in the country.

Jump on an underground trampoline

Looking for an experience that is unique in the world? In Blaenau Ffestiniog, you can jump on trampoline for an hour with Bounce Below. Not so special would you think, were it not that these trampolines hang in an underground mine. You can jump, slide and climb in an immense cave.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor bounce below

 

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Next climbing goal: Matterhorn

Iedereen die me wat kent weet dat ik een voorliefde heb voor de bergen. Ik schrik er dus zelf van dat het al van januari 2016 is geleden dat ik de Aconcagua heb beklommen. Begrijpelijk dus dat de klimkriebels me al een tijdje weer parten spelen.

Ik weet al wat jullie denken. Bergen zijn gevaarlijk. Waarom zou je nu zo gek zijn om een berg te gaan beklimmen? Wel, eerder deze week plaatste ik al een blogpost over de reden waarom bergen beklimmen zo aantrekkelijk is. En ik kan je garanderen dat dezelfde redenen ook voor mij gelden.

Everyone who knows me knows that I have a penchant for the mountains. So even I am surprised my last climb dates back from January 2016 when I climbed the Aconcagua. Understandably, therefore, that the climbing jitters have been playing me up for a while.

I already know what you think. Mountains are dangerous. Why would you be so crazy now to climb a mountain? Well, earlier this week I posted a blog post about why climbing mountains is so attractive. And I can guarantee you that the same reasons apply to me as well.

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The Matterhorn as seen from the neighbouring summit of the Breithorn

The Matterhorn

Ik ben 32 jaar en ik mag dan wel al het een en ander hebben verwezenlijkt op avontuurlijk vlak, toch voelt het alsof ik de lat steeds te laag leg. In mijn naaste omgeving heb ik eerder al toevertrouwd dat ik nood heb aan iets groots. Iets unieks. Een expeditie die me echt een gevoel van voldoening geeft. Zoals onze kajakexpeditie in Spitsbergen destijds.

De reden waarom net die expeditie me meer voldoening geeft, dan pakweg zelfs het beklimmen van de hoogste berg van het zuidelijk halfrond, de Aconcagua (6962m) is wellicht omdat ik de expeditie volledig zelf op poten zette. Geen gids die alles voor je regelt, maar de ervaring volledig voor jezelf.

I am 32 years old and eventhough I may have accomplished something on an adventurous level in life, I still feel as if I have always set the bar too low. In my immediate environment I have already confided that I need something big. Something unique. An expedition that really gives me a feeling of satisfaction. Like our kayak expedition in Spitsbergen last year.

The reason why the expedition gives me more satisfaction, than even the climbing of the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere, the Aconcagua (6962m) is probably because I fully set up the expedition myself. No guide that arranges everything for you, but the experience completely for yourself.

Het is geen geheim dat de Matterhorn op mijn verlanglijstje staat wat bergen betreft. Maar hoe langer ik er bij stilsta, hoe minder ik denk dat de beklimming me voldoening zou geven als ik deze zou ondernemen met een gids in een periode waarbij je op een goede dag in een lange lijn naar boven klimt.

Net daarom denk ik aan een beklimming van de Matterhorn met een extra uitdaging. In de winter. Solo.

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My first glimpse ever on the Matterhorn, back in 2014

It is no secret that the Matterhorn is on my wish list for mountains. But the longer I think about it, the less I think the ascent would give me satisfaction if I would undertake this with a guide in a season when you climb up in a crowded long line.

That is why I am thinking of an ascent of the Matterhorn with an extra challenge. In the winter. Solo.

Why solo?

Een terechte vraag. De Matterhorn solo in de winter willen beklimmen is een riskante onderneming waarbij er geen marge is voor fouten. Toch is de reden vrij simpel. Ik ben vrij kieskeurig wat het kiezen van klimpartners betreft. Enerzijds wat de persoonlijkheid betreft, anderzijds omdat ik ook geen mensen wil meesleuren in mijn gekke ideeën.

Daarnaast gaat het in de relatie met mijn huidige partner in crime wat avontuur betreft niet zo goed, waardoor ik er sowieso alleen voor sta de komende tijd.

Net dat laatste zorgt ervoor dat dit het ideale moment is om het plan uit te voeren. Want hoe je het ook draait of keert, om een berg als de Matterhorn te willen beklimmen moet je een beetje gek zijn :).

A fair question. Wanting to climb the Matterhorn solo in the winter is a risky endeavor where there is no margin for mistakes. Yet the reason is pretty simple. I am pretty picky about choosing climbing partners. On the one hand in terms of personality, on the other because I do not want to drag people into my crazy, dangerous ideas.

In addition, the relationship with my current partner in crime is not that good , so I have to accept that I will be going on adventures alone in the near future.

Just the latter ensures that this is the ideal time to implement the plan. Because no matter how you think of it, to climb a mountain like the Matterhorn you have to be a little crazy :).

I’m currently travelling in my VW bus in the South of France heading towards Milan. I’m hoping to arrive in Zermatt in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to make my attempt, but chances are high, that will be too soon. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why you should start climbing mountains

Mountaineering is a high-risk sport. Still, climbing mountains attracts adventurers all over the world. Why do so many people risk their lives to reach the summit of a mountain? Or conquer a steep face along a difficult or new route? Here are a few reasons why.

 ‘Because it is there’

‘Because it is there.’, is the famous answer of mountaineer George Mallory when they asked him in 1923 why he had decided to make an attempt to climb as the first person ever Mount Everest. Ironically, one year later the highest mountain in the world would be his last resting place. Still, the answer explained quite well why mountaineers want to climb mountain. In the first place they want to do something that is fun, but they like the challenge they get as well.

Facing the challenge

Mountaineering offers a whole set of physical as well as mental challenges one needs to face in some of the most beautiful environments in the world. Completing these challenges successfully, offers a huge feeling of satisfaction. But where is the satisfaction in climbing a mountain like Kilimanjaro where thousands of people have summited before you? In most cases it’s not about conquering a peak or route as the first person ever, but it’s to accomplish a personal goal by exploring your own boundaries.

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Aconcagua

You will feel like an explorer

But besides pushing your physical limits there are a few more reasons why people are attracted by the mountains. The mountains are some of the most impressive locations in the world and offer the feeling of being in a remote and pristine environment. Once on the summit of a mountain, you will be able to enjoy some of the best views on this wilderness.

Personal growth

Mountaineering not only stimulates skills like working as a team and solving problems along the way, but gives you the chance to get yourself a bit better. How do you respons in certain situations you never have to deal with on sea level? During a mountaineering expedtition, you will have plenty of opportunities to develop or expand your decision-making and leadership skills. Mountaineering can be compared with real life where you need to reach your goals as well.

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Not convinced? Some funny reasons why you should start climbing mountains:

  • Tired of being defeated by jars
  • Internet not currently working
  • Instagram likes
  • Inability to sleep past 2 a.m. perfect for alpinism
  • Terrified of solid ground
  • Want to be like hero: Sylvester Stallone in “Cliffhanger”

Do you have more reasons why you should climb mountains? 

How to Start Winter Trekking

Once you have a taste for hiking, you will soon find it hard to put those boots in the closet after the summer. And why would you? You can also go out in the winter in the snow. But how do you do that in a safe way? And are you not going to suffer a cold?


Tip 1: Choose a simple area and easy route to start with

Snowed mountain landscapes are very beautiful but a lot less accessible than in summer: the weather conditions are harder, paths are hidden under the snow cover, mountain sides and hiking trails are quickly too steep and the avalanche danger is lurking.
Build your experience systematically. Even if you went out in the Alps or the Pyrenees in the summer or did a hiking trip in Scandinavia and Iceland, in winter you start back from the beginning. From flat terrain, over the low mountain range to desolate areas or high mountains.

Tip 2: Do not plan long distances

The speed with which you walk strongly depends on the snow conditions, both with snow shoes and cross-country skis. And these can not be predicted, but will only be experienced on the site itself. Therefore, be modest in your planning. With lots of fresh snow, your speed can drop to 1 to 2 km / h, even if you are in good physical shape.

On average, a trip of 10 km (in an area with a lot of altitude) to 15 km (with flat terrain) is long. Also take into account the day length! The earlier in the season and the more north you draw, the fewer the number of daylight  hours! Work on your physical condition in advance (endurance and strength). In the winter the walking experience is much more intense, and you therefore have less need for kilometers and altitude meters. Even experienced hikers regularly adjust their route according to terrain and weather. Experience is key.

Tip 3: Invest in appropriate gear

In the summer you can set out with what you have in the cupboard, in the winter that is certainly not the case. Both for your comfort and your safety it is important to think carefully about the gear you need. As soon as there is a thick layer of snow, snow shoes or touring skis are a  must. Moving is a lot more efficient and in avalanche sensitive terrain it is also important for safety. You have to be able to protect your clothes from sometimes harsh conditions, and your camping equipment will be just that bit tighter and warmer.

Tip 4: Learn how to navigate with map, compass and GPS

In the winter the orientation is a bit more difficult. Many hiking trails are under a thick snow cover, along with the signage that is often placed on stones if there are no trees in the area. Map and compass are no longer unnecessary instruments. In the fog the sense of direction can completely disappear (the so-called white-out) and then a GPS is even necessary.

Only in popular hiking areas in Norway and Sweden winter routes are marked (via fixed beacons or branches that are placed between half and end of March). In all other areas there is no signage (except very local and short walks) and you have to fall back on your own navigation skills.

Tip 5: Do not underestimate the avalanche danger

Once you approach the tree line or go above it, you must always take avalanche danger into account. A snow cover can slide on a slope of 30 ° (and in spring conditions from 25 °). Even if your route is almost flat (such as in Scandinavia or high plateaus such as the Vercors and the Jura) you have to take into account steep slopes around your course. It might be recommended to take an avalanche course.

Normandy

Deze week heb ik Normandie wat verkend. Een tussenstop onderweg naar het zuiden van Frankrijk.

Hier is mijn week in foto’s

Guide to hiking the trails of Petra

People often associate Jordan with Petra and Wadi Rum only. Though it is not surprising as there is something extraordinary about Petra. Walking through the Siq until you catch a glimpse of the Treasury will take your breath away.

The image that one often sees of Petra is just the facade of the Treasury which was filmed in the climactic final scenes of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Actors Harrison Ford and Sean Connery appear from The Siq on horseback and walk into the Treasury in search of the Holy Grail.

Allthough there are donkey rides in Petra, we suggest you go hiking to explore the ancient city (animal abuse you know..).

Best hikes in Petra

The Main Trail547908124b439d5444da7acb135195ae

Distance: 4,3 km

Time: 2-2,5h

Level: Easy

The main trail starts at the Visitor center where you’ve entered the site Petra. It leads all the way through the Siq, the narrow canyon, before you catch your first glimpse of the Treasury. This is where all the tourists cluster, so if you are looking to take awesome Instagram-worthy pictures off you alone with the Treasury, I advise you to be at the entrance gates at 6am. I did this two days in a row and found myself alone with 10 other people max at the Treasury.

After having taking photos of the Treasury, the main trail continues along all major attractions of Petra until the end of the Colonnaded Street, where the Monastery trail begins.

Al Khubta Trail aka Treasury viewpoint

Distance: 1,7 km

Time: 2-2,5h

Level: Hard

Before walking the entire main trail, we advise you to follow the Al Khubta trail first. This trail leads to the Treasury viewpoint (the free one, not the tourist trap you will encounter at the Treasury). The trail starts at the opposite side of the Theatre. As you can imagine, there are some steps to be conquered to reach it, allthough the trail isn’t a hard one.

You will know when you are there if you see a sign with ‘best view in the world’ that leads to a Bedouin tent. When you enter the tent, you’ll get the famous Instagram view!

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High Place of Sacrifice trail

Distance: 2,7 km

Time: 4-5h

Level: Hard

As its name suggests, the High Place sits high above the main area of Petra and getting there involves a steep climb, but the views are certainly rewarding. The trail begins shortly after the exit from the Siq, where you will climb up ancient Nabataean steps. At the top you can take in the magnificent panorama before turning right to descent to Wadi Farasa to see the Lion Fountain, Garden Triclinium, Roman Soldier Tomb and Az Zantur excavation.

Follow the main trail to the street of facades and then you branch off to the left before reaching the theatre, where you will find steps that lead up to the High Place of Sacrifice.

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Click map to enlarge

Ad Deir (Monastery Trail)

Distance: 1,2 km

Time: 2-3h

Level: Hard

A must see trail, but a hard one as it involves taking many steps (about 800). Resist the urge to take the donkey ride (animal abuse!) and make sure you are fit and bring plenty of water to do this hike. The Monastery trail starts at the end of the main trail, where you can also find a buffet restaurant to have lunch. The hike is hard, but on your way you will encounter some bedouin cafés offering cold drinks. The Monastery is bigger than the more popular Treasury. Directly opposite the Monastery there is a café in a cave where you can have a refreshing drink. The best time to do this climb is in the afternoon, when the path is mostly in shade and the sun is shining on the Monastery’s facade.

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Useful information

How to reach Petra?

Flying in from Amman airport, it’s a four-hour drive pretty much straight drive down the King’s Highway. For a lower cost than a car rental or taxi, you can hop on a public bus direct to Petra from Amman bus station (Tabarbour BUS Station), which is itself a taxi ride from the airport.

From Aqaba airport, it’s a 1.5 hour drive – though a lesser number of airlines fly here. The closest village is Wadi Musa where several hotels make a great accommodation for your Petra visit.

How to purchase tickets for Petra?

You can only enter Petra by buying tickets at the Petra visitors’ centre in Wadi Musa, the closest town or purchase the Jordan Pass (recommended).

The Jordan Pass always is the cheapest option when visiting Jordan. If you purchase the Jordan Pass before your arrival to Jordan you can benefit from the entry visa fees exemption if you stay a minimum of three nights. There are three formulas for the pass:

  • Jordan Wanderer – 70 JOD (99$)
  • Jordan Explorer – 75 JOD (106$)
  • Jordan Expert – 80 JOD (113$)

Depending on which Jordan Pas to take it allows you to enter Petra 1 day, two days or three days. I would suggest going for a two day minimum (Jordan Explorer) as one day in Petra is hardly enough.

Are there places to eat and drink in Petra?

There are restaurants on site, allthough we’d suggest bringing a packed lunch and eating outside – you honestly didn’t come to Petra to sit in a restaurant, did you?!

What should I bring?

Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes you’re happy to walk around in all day. Bring a hat, sunglasses and sunblock. Also make sure you have a ready supply of water. Temperatures drop fast when the sun sets – bring an extra layer to stay warm. Oh and your camera offcourse!

 

Why traveling solo is the best thing you’ll ever do!

Traveling solo can be seem intimidating at first. But what if your friends or family are settled and no longer have the ambition to go backpacking on another continent? Store your own travel plans? Or leave your comfort zone and book a solo trip? Here are some reasons why traveling alone is an unique experience.

Planning is easier

Planning a trip requires a lot of work. Especially if you travel with a group to another continent where you not only have to worry about accommodation, transport, but also the visas. If you travel alone, you only have to apply that organizing talent to yourself.

Work on your own bucket list

This is perhaps the biggest advantage. Throughout the journey you can plan activities that you have always dreamed of, without having to take those less enjoyable activities of your travel companion. It would be a shame to abandon your dream of bungee jumping in New Zealand or climb Kilimanjaro because your travel companion does not fancy it. Especially if you have traveled so far.

You make new friends

When traveling in group, the need to meet new people is lower. After all, you have a very good friend with you, right? If you travel alone, you will quickly be attracted to new people. Maybe that other backpacker also travels alone? Or asking the way to a local can quickly start a conversation.

Your confidence gets a boost

Traveling alone can be intimidating. All alone on a flight to a destination that lies thousands of miles from your familiar surroundings. That means as much as you will have to solve problems yourself if they occur. If you are traveling with a friend, you still have the idea that your travel partner will be able to solve it if there is a problem. But why would your traveling companion be able to do that better than you? Now that you have to make all the decisions yourself, you will undoubtedly have a serious confidence boost.

When I travel to Argentina to climb Aconcagua in 2016, my girlfriend decided to visit Cuba instead. It was her first solo trip and she claims it was a life-changing experience.

You can travel within your budget

A travel budget is always a point of discussion when traveling. Everyone has their own way of spending money and priorities are not always the same. Solo travelers, however, have the advantage of spending their money on what they want. They have their entire travel budget under control.

You will experience complete freedom

Every decision you make, whether it is a planned route or a last-minute decision, is one that you have made entirely yourself. During your entire solo trip you have everything in hand. What are you going to eat? Where do you stay overnight? What are you planning for the next few days? You have complete freedom.

You gain lots of life experience

Traveling is the best way to gain life experience. You not only get to meet new people and cultures, but you often go beyond your comfort zone even more than you would do at home. Those traveling alone will undoubtedly have to rely on capacities that they have never used before. And of course you have a lot of interesting stories to share afterwards.

Why so serious?

Ver heb ik niet moeten zoeken naar de titel voor de blogpost van deze week. ‘Why so serious?’ is de meest beroemde quote van Batman-personage waarin ik deze week met Halloween verkleed was: de Joker.

Door Heath Ledger vertaald tot een van de allerbeste acteerprestaties en meest uitzonderlijke filmpersonages, maar met een quote die meer bevat dan je zou vermoeden.

I didn’t have to search long for the title for this week’s blog post. ‘Why so serious?’ is the most famous quote of a Batman character in which I was dressed with Halloween this week: the Joker.

Translated by Heath Ledger into one of the best acting performances and most exceptional film characters, but with a quote that contains more than you might suspect.

‘Why so serious?’ is een gevat antwoord op iemand die alles te serieus neemt of boos is. Het leven is te kort om lang bezig te zijn met frustraties, ruzies of dingen die eigenlijk niet leiden naar je doel in het leven. Zeker op sociale media zien we steeds vaker dat mensen zich frustreren op negatieve berichtgeving.

‘Why so serious?’ is a comprehensible answer to someone who takes everything too seriously or is angry. Life is too short to be busy for a long time with frustrations, quarrels or things that do not lead to your goal in life. Certainly on social media we see more and more that people are frustrated by negative reporting.

Ik geef toe. Ik bezondig me er ook vaak aan. Soms wou ik dat ik wereldproblemen kon aanpakken, frustraties kon wegwerken, maar de realiteit is dat dit alles groter is dan we alleen aankunnen. Wel kunnen we zorgen voor minder frustratie in ons eigen leven. Geniet van de momenten samen met je geliefden, want op het einde van je leven zal je niet terugblikken op je carrière of persoonlijke successen, maar op de momenten die je hebt gedeeld met de persoon waar je van houdt.

I admit. I also often catch myself getting frustrated over little things. Sometimes I wish I could tackle world problems, eliminate frustrations, but the reality is that all of this is bigger than we can handle alone. We can, however, provide less frustration in our own lives. Enjoy the moments together with your loved ones, because at the end of your life you will not look back on your career or personal successes, but on the moments that you have shared with the person you love.

Dus doe zoals de Joker en ‘put a smile on that face’, want je weet nooit wanneer het allemaal eindigt.

So do like the Joker and ‘put a smile on that face’, because you never know when it all ends.

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