March 19: Day 14
Chymche to Bahundanda
Yet another uneventful, dreadful day of walking on roads! Jan didn’t sleep well so we had a really slow start to our day and didn’t depart until after 9:30am. And of course, today was the earliest me and Travis were ever ready! It was just a short five hour walk, but the first three hours were awful – all on shitty Jeep trail roads. We ran into so many trekkers on the circuit (we were now at the start of the Annapurna circuit as the Manaslu circuit merges with it), and I swear 90% of them were Israeli! We were playing a game where as we walked, we would all pick a nationality of who we thought the next people we met on the trail would be -without seeing them. Our game came quickly to an end however, as pretty well everyone was Israeli! Continue reading
March 17, 2018: Day 12
Bimtang to Tilche
As much as one would like to say all is well now that we’ve made it down the pass, there was some drama last night. We were heading to our little cabin to call it a night, when we heard yelling. We saw one of the guides who had gotten very drunk, harassing a woman, hitting her around her middle, as she screamed back at him, struggling. And out of no where, our guide Tek the hero steps in to help her. The other guide kicked Tek and they really got into it, the woman too – she wasn’t sitting back while this guy caused trouble at her tea house. I initially thought there was a chicken involved because there were feathers everywhere, and I thought perhaps he was stealing a chicken and they were trying to stop him? But it turns out that the one guide had grabbed Tek’s jacket and ripped it, causing the down filling to spew out everywhere, feathers filling the air. At last Tek got him down and one of the porter’s, Chen Ho Susan came out and helped to hold down the struggling drunk guide. He had to be held down for a half hour while he screamed and hollered. And then cried. And then puked. And then was finally dragged limp to his bed. Good lord! I guess he let his celebrating get out of hand and he drank too much Raksi, the local moonshine. Some people just shouldn’t drink. He was of course deeply ashamed the next day and didn’t even remember what had happened. I was just glad Tek was around to help the woman! Continue reading
March 15, 2018: Day 10
Samdo to Dharmasala
Altitude gain: 770m
We had a team discussion last night to plot our our strategy for today. We are Team Take Our Time – which means we are the last ones to leave every day. We were headed to Dharmasala, which is the last camp before the pass. The camp is comprised of two or three private rooms, one dorm room and then 12 or so tents. Accommodation was on a first come first serve basis. We knew we could never make a fast enough pace no matter how early we left to try and secure a private room, or even dorm- but also, we didn’t want to leave early because that would mean spending a very long day in a very cold tea house/room trying to keep warm. We wanted to leave as late as possible. Bhim agreed to be a hero and leave around 7am with the pack by himself. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran the whole way to be honest. Bhim was 20 years old, lithe and spry and even with a 20kg pack on him he could nimbly jump from boulder to boulder, dance across unstable landslide debris and somehow keep his balance and never be out of breath. It was incredible. He was some sort of super human! Continue reading
March 6, 2018: Day 1
Kathmandu to Soti Khola (by Jeep)
Today is the day! We have been planning, preparing, stressing out and getting wildly excited about this day for a long time now. Today we set off from Kathmandu to begin our two week trek into the heart of the Himalaya’s to circuit around the eighth highest mountain in the world, Manaslu. We used our two day layover in Vancouver to stock up on some trekking essentials and then spent a week in Kathmandu adjusting to the food and culture, and partaking in the amazing Holi festivities. But now the time has finally come! We’ve gone over the maps, the itinerary, asked a million questions, gotten to know our guide Tek and his brother Bhim our porter, and now all that remains is to get out there.
The Jeep bounced away from our hotel at 9am and we were off. Almost. Continue reading
Day 16: Friday, December 4, 2015
Sleeping in until 7:30 was absolutely glorious and much needed after so many days of rising at dawn. Today was mostly a driving day as we had another 450km of road to cover to pass through the whole Caprivi strip to our next camp – Mazambala, near the border of Zambia and as close to Victoria falls as we would get, unfortunately. Next time… because we absolutely know there will be a next time! The rains came again and joined us for much of our drive, this time accompanied by massive rakes of lightning and rumbles of thunder.
Mazambala was situated on the Okavango river, surrounded by marshlands. The camp is actually on an island on the river, but because the rains were only just starting, it was still connected to land. The campsites were 2km away from the lodge on the ‘mainland’, but we could take a boat over to the lodge whenever we wanted. We drove over to check in and check the place out and book a game drive for the following day. This was the part of the country where we were hoping to see hippos, crocs and water buffalo. After setting up camp, as night fell, the warning from the lodge host ruminated in my head: “Don’t stray far from your camp, the hippos will be about, you’ll likely hear them.” Continue reading
Day 14: Wednesday, December 12, 2015
5:30am came in the blink of an eye. I ripped out my ear plugs, shot up in bed and smacked Rug.
“Lions”, I said.
We sat stock still for a moment and listened as their raucous roars filled the quiet morning. No other words were spoken as we grabbed our knife (the security of this water hole was questionable at best in our minds!), head lamps and cameras and marched to the waterhole. In the distance, two male lions and two females could be seen. The smaller male was off and to the left, alone, clearly not welcome to enjoy the feminine joys of the other male lions domain. The big male stretched and roared and sniffed at the females, nuzzling their heads. They each slowly rose from the ground where they lay and lethargically made their way to the waterhole. The predawn light was dull and muted so I wasn’t able to get any good pictures. Instead I just sat and watched them interact among each other and listened to those frightening roars that had kept me awake all the night before. When they all began to move off back into the bush, we set out back for our camp and packed up quickly and hit the road to see what else sunrise had brought with it as we made our way towards our next and last camp. Continue reading
Day 12: Monday, November 30, 2015
7am saw us up and busy. I prepared a breakfast of eggs and beans while Rug pulled down the tent. We ate, washed up, packed up and were on the road by 830am. We had been looking forward to this day ever since we began our journey: today was the day we entered into Etosha National Park. While we had seen heaps of amazing wildlife already on our journey, this is what we had been waiting for, this is where the big stuff was, and in high concentrations – the lions, the elephants, the giraffe, the rhinos – none of which we had seen yet. We cruised quickly over the dirt roads, stopped too fuel up in Outjo, reloaded the cooler with ice, checked the propane and hit the black top for the next half hour until we reached Galton Gate, the westernmost gate to Etohsa. Continue reading
Day 9: Friday, November 27, 2015
The plan was to sleep in, but Rug awoke at 730am and thanks to FOMO I couldn’t stay in bed. So instead of lounging in our gloriously comfortable beds, we had a yummy breakfast, teas, showers and took our laundry in to be done. I had connected with Leah Von Hagen and she invited us out to lunch that day, so we met at Bojo’s cafe at noon. It was so nice to see the Von Hagen’s, and it was great to touch base as I was going to be staying with them for a week at the end of my Namibia adventure. Kern, Rug and I were all sold on the waitresses suggestion of the waffle with bacon, banana and cheese – and a solid choice it was! We sat talking about life, travel and Yellowknife for hours before Leah had to head back to work. Kern kindly offered to show us around the town and take us out to Walvis Bay as we missed it coming in and Leah suggested ordering Indian food for dinner and invited us over. Once again, the outstanding generosity of people always touches my heart so deeply. They don’t just offer you information on the town, which is what I had originally asked for – they take you for lunch, drive you all over the city and the neighbouring city whilst giving you a full detailed tour – and they invite you over for dinner – giving up their entire Friday evening for two long lost faces from Yellowknife. The generosity and hospitality that I’ve received on the road from beautiful people like the Von Hagen’s is what I will remember the most about this journey. It’s the people- it always is ❤ Continue reading
Day 7: Wednesday, November 25th 2015
I had the most terrible time falling asleep last night. I just couldn’t quiet my mind. I was excited about my sudden change of plans to stay another ten days in Namibia and I was crazy excited for our sunrise adventure in just a few hours. Finally, around 1am I drifted off only to awaken an hour later needing to pee. The moon was so full and bright, I didn’t even need my head lamp as I trudged half asleep across the dirt road to the bathroom. I fell back asleep quickly, but 445am came all too soon. Up we rose and within 20 minutes we had the tent all packed up, were dressed, made bathroom stops and boom – we were on the road! I was impressed with our efficiency – we were getting damn good at packing up camp in a hurry! We were third in line to get to the gate and only had to wait for five minutes before they opened it and let us through. You could feel the excitement rippling through the line of vehicles waiting, it was like the line to get in to Disney World or something; I didn’t know people could collectively muster that much excitement at 5am! Rug and I blasted Macklemore’s Downtown to get us even more pumped up.
I would have loved to have gone a half hour earlier to get the full effect of sunrise, to be able to enjoy the vast array of colours as the sky shed her sapphire night gown and donned her flushed violet, copper and periwinkle ensemble. But alas, they don’t open the gates quite early enough so as to limit driving in the dark to protect the wildlife. The drive only took a half hour this time as we were following the other cars who were most definitely not obeying the speed limit! And so by the time we reached dune 45, most of the pre dawn stunning sunrise colours had already played out. But we could still at least catch the sun itself as it crested the dunes if we scrambled up this dune fast enough. Continue reading
Day 4: Sunday Nov 22, 2015
I awoke at 1:15am -as usual- to the urgent call of my bladder. Damnit. The night before it was lions I had to fear and tonight it was baboons. I ran as fast and alert as I could to relieve myself, hunkered down by a tree, holding my knife brandished in one hand, my head whipping around wildly, imagining a baboon to drop down on my head from above at any second. I scrambled back up the ladder and into the safety of my roof top tent, thankful I had eluded the baboons. But hours later, in the dead of sleep, they got me. I dreamt I woke up to the tent collapsing on top of us because a herd of baboons had jumped on it and were beating on it with their balled fists, howling as the tent began to collapse and suffocate us. I was completely paralyzed (I’ve suffered from sleep paralysis since I was a young child) and felt the impending reach of death gripping me. And then I woke up and saw sunlight on the ground and felt relief wash over me. I had evaded death by baboons this time… Continue reading