We made our way to Gili Bola, our first island stop, to spend the evening. (“Gili” means island in Indonesian) The highlight of that day was seeing thousands of bats flying above us at sunset. They were “flying foxes”, a species of huge fruit bats. We weren’t sure where they were going, but it was spectacular.Keep reading!
We had been entertaining the idea of going to see Komodo Dragons for some time until we finally arranged a 4 day boat trip from Lombok to Flores while staying on the island of Gili Trawangan.
A quick mention about the Gilis; they are 3 small islands north-west of Lombok. One of them; Gili T, became a popular backpacker destination in the 80’s. Back then, there wasn’t any law enforcement and it was one of the few places where people could experiment with drugs, usually mushrooms. Even though it’s not quite the same now (although we did get many random mushroom offers in the street) it continues to be a very popular destination in Lombok, mostly for diving and the party scene. We spent five days here. The second day we went scuba diving at Shark Point. The dive was about average, but it was good practice before diving in the strong currents of Komodo. After the dive we had some beers at the beach with five Australians and a couple of locals playing the guitar and singing. They knew some “Mana” songs, which surprised me. I really like being in Indonesia and listening to music in Spanish, familiar words in a faraway place are nice. At night we wandered down to a big street food market for dinner. I had a soup but don’t ask me what was in it. The last three days in Gili T we both caught some sort of flu and spent most of the time shivering together in bed. It was a good chance to catch up on our movies 🙂
Back to the dragons, Keep reading!
With crampons on we were ready to explore Glacier Franz Josef from within. The Māori name for the glacier is Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere (‘The tears of Hinehukatere’), legend says: “Hinehukatere loved climbing in the mountains and persuaded her lover, Wawe, to climb with her. Wawe was a less experienced climber than Hinehukatere but loved to accompany her until an avalanche swept Wawe from the peaks to his death. Hinehukatere was broken hearted and her many, many tears flowed down the mountain and froze to form the glacier.” Luckily for us, there was no avalanche that day.
After getting off of the ferry on the south island of New Zealand, we headed west to visit the coastal paradise of Abel Tasman National Park. It was getting late, so we stopped in the small town of Motueka to get some sleep. The next morning we continued driving north to Abel Tasman. We were lucky this time with the weather and decided to do some sea kayaking. It was amazing! Definitely a must do on the south island.
Abel Tasman is the smallest but one of the most spectacular National Parks of New Zealand. While kayaking we were impressed by the forest extending right down to the water’s edge, an Indiana Jones like scene. The tiny, private, golden beaches were absolutely stunning. In addition, we were lucky to find some baby seals! They were super cute and playful. Adam patted the water trying to make them come closer and they came over to play with him without hesitation. It was a lot of fun! I would like to come back to camp and kayak for three or four days during our next visit to New Zealand.
Enjoy the pictures!
I can now understand Frodo! Although the evil land was in real life a beautiful and peaceful park, it was still quite a challenge to hike it.
Part of our preparation before coming to New Zealand included watching all of the LOTR movies. It was exciting to see where some of the movie was actually shot. One is Tongariro National Park, centrally located on the north island, southwest of Lake Taupo. Keep reading!
It’s time for some heart pumping adventure! After our Panama cave experience we really wanted to do one of the many spelunking options that this area offers. After some research, we went with the Black Abyss tour.
This excursion begins with an abseil 35 meters into a black hole in the ground; the entrance to the cave. Immediately followed by a rappel and zip-line through the dark we found ourselves deep inside the cave (our guides made sure to add extra excitement to the blind zip-line!). Keep reading!
Day five: Always save the best for last! It is still dark when we wake up to start our last day in Torres Del Paine, it will take us an hour to get to the view-point for the Torres. Everyone wants to see these famous mountains turning shades of red and orange at sunrise so we are joined by a line of people headed up while trying not to fall in the dark. Adam and I are sharing one headlamp so it’s a team effort for us. A guide gave us the following recommendation back in town before we left: “When you wake up on the last day, it will be cold, the wind will be howling, it will be raining, and the last thing you’ll want to do is carry a pack up the steep one hour hike to the top. Do it anyway! Everyone else will climb up without theirs, soaked from sweat in their clothes, get to the top, instantly be frozen by the wind, snap a few pictures and head back down before 10 minutes are up. Don’t be everyone.” He couldn’t have been more right. We lug our backpacks with dry clothes, sleeping pads and bags, along with breakfast and our camp stove.
One of the first ones to the top, Adam finds us the perfect spot tucked between two big rocks to keep us out of the wind, front and center for a view of the Torres, Keep reading!