The second part of our East Europe Road Trip led us to Vilnius in Lithuania, Riga in Latvia, Tallinn in Estonia and last but not least, Helsinki in Finland. I had no expectations coming into the Baltic states, because there was just no one heading that way and telling me “Go to Tallinn!!”. Roughly four years later, I find myself being that person and was not only fascinated by Tallinn, but also the other towns along the way – even though Tallinn was definitely my favorite! Check out why in this post.
01/03/2015 Relaxing at the gorgeous beach of Palomino was great, but if you followed my blog for a while, you will know that I actually prefer to put on my hiking boots and be a bit more active. The 5-day trek to the “The Lost City” of Ciduad Perdida deep in the jungle of northern Colombia seemed to be a must-do for me. We certainly had a lot of action thanks to the poisonous snakes in the area. One of them bit a soldier, putting him in a desperate need to be rescued by a helicopter, and one other was found and killed by our guides on the way back!
This video from Panama will finish up my journey through Central America and you can now find all the videos on my video page. I’m already working on the video for Colombia and will probably have it ready after my upcoming live updates from Patagonia. The places featured in this video are Boquete, Cangilones de Gualaca, Panama City, Pedasí & finally, the San Blas Islands cruise to Colombia. Hope you like it
Check out the Live Updates and Pictures from Panama here.
08/03/2015 After 126 days of hot climates starting in Mexico last year, it was now finally time to head down all the way to the southern tip of Argentina to enjoy the crisp air of Patagonia during fall season. I booked a flight from Bogotá to El Calafate with a short stop over in Buenos Aires. Finally arriving, huge mountain ranges in the background looked majestically and I couldn’t wait to get out there!
After a failed attempt to fix my broken camera in El Chaltén, I went out on a hike to Laguna Torre with just the phone camera. The second most popular day hike after Fitz Roy was much less busy and we had great weather too! Just Cerro Torre was always covered in clouds sadly
Hiking back from Laguna Torre offered me a little excursion that actually deserves it’s own live update: Climbing Loma de Las Pizarras! The peak granted me with a superb view and I could actually see a bit of Cerro Torre this time too. Some rainbows paired with huge winds that nearly blew me off my feet made up for a great experience.
19/03/2015 After some rainy days in El Chaltén, I used the upcoming good weather window to start what was supposed to be a four day trek to Paso del Cuadrado. Joined by Rene from the hostel, we knew that the first day would still be rainy; we didn’t know what kind of adventure we would be heading into. Soon after leaving the beaten path, we found ourselves in the middle of a snow storm in freezing temperatures, forcing us to set up an emergency fire at Laguna Piedras Blanca and actually staying the night there as well. For the complete story, keep on reading!
Time for the next video! This one is packed with interesting stuff: Starting with some diving in Capurganá, followed by the towns of Cartagena, Santa Marta & Minca, onwards to the amazingly beautiful beaches in Tayrona National Park, a quick ride to yet another beach at Palomino, climaxing with the trek to Lost City Ciduad Perdida before finishing it off in Bogotá & Villa de Leyva!
Check out the Live Updates and Pictures from Colombia here.
25/03/2015 After a bit more than two weeks in El Chaltén and El Calafate, it was now finally time to leave Ushuaia and begin my voyage to the coldest, driest and windiest continent of our planet: Antarctica. Not too many people have the opportunity to go there and I felt very privileged to be one of them. Together with around 80 other passengers, we would take two full days to cross the rough waters of the Drake Passage before we would be able to set foot on Antarctica, probably one of the most impressive places that we can visit.
28/03/2015 We finally arrived in Antarctica after sailing through the oddly calm Drake Passage for two full days. Woken up early by our expedition leader Anna at 06:30, I quickly got dressed to head out on deck as we were navigating through the famous Lemaire Channel. The narrow wide channel is a famous stop for tours to the Antarctic Peninsula and despite the bitter cold in the morning, I could not help but staying outside to soak in the majestic sights around me while the sun desperately tried to break through the thick layer of clouds around us.
Wow - what an amazing picture! I enjoy reading your journal, and that picture has blown me away. Enjoy the rest of the trip, and I look forward to reading about the next leg of your fabulous adventure :-)
29/03/2015 On our fifth day in Antarctica, we explored Dorian Bay, navigated through the Neumayer Channel and had our first continental landing at Paradise Bay. It was a lovely sunny day in March with a lot of photos taken, actually forcing me to split it in two live updates. The first one will bring more penguins and seals, great Antarctic Landscapes and the British station of Port Lockroy, which was unfortunately closing down two weeks before our arrival. A shame, because one of my friends from London was actually working there to sell postcards. :-)
I woke up at 8AM to get out on deck, observing the morning colours come up on the snow covered peaks around us. The captain navigated us to Dorian Bay and the day promised to be a bit less cloudy than the one before. Before we would leave the ship, it was time for breakfast again. My daily menu consisted of warm fresh waffles, croissants, eggs, bacon, toast, ham, cheese, butter, dulce de leche and a lot of different sorts of fruits. I actually uploaded a picture of that set as well, just because it was so damn good and it brings back memories After everyone was filled up, we gathered at the Zodiac entry point of our ship and were brought to Wienke Island. The weather now was actually excellent, most of the clouds disappared and the sun was blazing down; I was in awe to see all the snow and ice around us in perfect white.
Everyone was really happy to witness Antarctica in these conditions while we were getting close to the wild-life packed Island. Despite the usual gentoo penguins and leopard seals, we also saw a Giant Petrels posing on Damoy Point. Those guys were pretty big and very busy eating dead penguins. After nearly an hour of observing the still alive penguins doing their usual business of slipping and sliding through the ice, I went up to the second point of interest: The top slope of Wienke Island, offering a great view on our landing point and the M/V Ushuaia sitting behind on one side and Port Lockroy on the other. The clouds actually came up again now, but it was still great to look down to the british station that usually sells postcards during the tourist season. We were just two weeks late sadly and I was not able to visit one of my climbing buddies from London, who worked there for the last months. The setting of Port Lockroy is impressive: A few small huts situated on some tiny islands in front of a big peak and sourrounded by antarctic waters. The small slope on which we were standing was actually used as an runway for airplanes in the past. Heading back to the Zodiacs, we waved the penguins good bye and watched a leopard seal actually killing one of them in the water on the ride back to the ship.
Next up on our agenda was Neko Harbour. In order to get there, we had the pleasure of navigating through the Neumayer Channel. The sun was back out again and with lot's of ice in the water, the passage through the channel was nothing short of breath taking. Everyone was standing outside to observe the landscape while the water produced perfect mirror images of the peaks around us. We had a clear blue sky now and the further we got into the channel, the more ice was sourrounding us. The M/V Ushuaia had no problem breaking through it for now, leaving us astonished about the crushing sounds as it broke through the ice plates, some of which were actually occupied by a few seals staring back at us. A few days later in cold conidtions here would have caused us some problems, according to the captain. Aiming for Neko Harbour after the 25Km long Neumayer channel, we eventually turned into a large concentrated amount of sea ice, blocking our entrance. It was now 15:30 and our first continental landing would have to wait a little bit longer as we were looking for another entry point.
>> Pictures (Will select some highlights later when I have more time and post them here directly too)
You are living the dream of many of us, man. Congratulations on these amazing experiences! Have you been keeping a track on the total costs of that journey? Is that dream really only meant for a few of us, or can anyone adventurous enough decide on it?
29/03/2015 Perfect weather conditions allowed us to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes at Dorian Bay and Neumayer Channel. So far, we had only visited islands and were now very close of setting foot on the actual continental landmass of Antarctica for the first time. Thick sea ice blocked our entry point at Neko Harbour though and forced the captain to find another spot for us to land on what would become the seventh continent for some of the passengers. Missing Australia, it was just the sixth for me personally
Although it was not possible to get to our original landing point at Neko Harbour, none of us was unhappy with the alternative that the captain provided instead: Paradise Bay! Just hearing the name, one would actually not be suprised if it would be the superior location. And in fact, it was a great one. Not only was the entrance into the bay fabulous, but we would also have some very spectacular glaciers nearby too. My first stop was the Argentinean Station called Brown. Gentoo penguins would watch us as we stepped on the continent of Antarctica for the first time. The weather was still perfect as we were climbing up a viewpoint in the thick snow. It was actually really pleasant to be here out of season, the snow completely untouched and just sharing the amazing landscape with the ~80 tourists on our ship.
Once we made it to the top, several groups started to build snowmans. The russians also used the steep slope to roll down of it. I am pretty sure they were still a little bit drunk, I never saw them not drinking on board the ship! Another very interesting interacting happened right next to me: A guy kneed down in the snow in front of his girlfriend to offer his engagement ring. It was literally a pretty cool spot to propose Most of the wild life concentrated down at the Brown station though and as usual, the penguins provided our daily portion of entertainment. The sun would slowly disappeared behind the clouds while we were waiting for our Zodiacs to bring us to our last location of the day.
And it was a pretty good one! Passing by some cliffs with nesting birds and a lot of bird poo on the way, we reached a really nice glacier and got very close. The clouds dominated the sky now, but just when my zodiac reached the glacier, it actually peaked out and the light was shining just on a tiny roughly 3 meter long spot at the edge of the glacier, such a cool sight! It looked as if someone from up above wanted to point something out. However, we could not see anything other than ice and soon after had to retreat again, cruising along the ice bergs on the way back. My hands started to get really really cold very fast after taking all the pictures, forcing me to shut off my camera and warm up my hands in the pockets. It turned out to be a bad timing, because just 20 seconds later, a huge portion of the glacier calved off into a newly born ice berg, creating a wave that lifted up our zodiac boat.
Getting closer to the U/V Ushuaia, I could not believe my nose but the crew actually set up a huge outside BBQ on the deck of the ship with the wind pushing the smell towards us on sea! I spent a good amount of time in Argentina already and knew exactly how good their asado was, so I could not wait to get back and receive the first Choripán as an appetizer for the upcoming steaks for dinner Talking about the ship, there was one question I received regarding sea sickness. Most of the people actually took some pills and some of them still got sick. I had no problems at all without taking anything, actually I never got sea sick in my life! But the ship was indeed moving quiet a lot at times and you had to make sure to hold on to the railways and be a bit careful while using the doors to get outside – some people actually injured themselves with those before. Nothing happened in our trip so far though and after this great day in sunny weather, everyone was happy and filled up with lot’s of meat from the asado before getting back to their cabins. We would have two more fulls days to explore Antarctica before it was time to head back home again through the Drake Passage.