beach

Iceland Road Trip II - Vatnajökull and the Golden Circle

Hello,

welcome back to Part II of our road trip around Iceland. In the last blog posted we travelled from Keflavík all the way to the East Fjords. After 4 days in the northern parts of the country we were looking forward to seeing some of Iceland’s greener areas.

 

Day 5

After a good night’s sleep we packed the car and headed south. The roads very still very icy and slippery, but after a few hours of driving and a quick break at the Vattarnes cliffs we arrived at Hvalnes Beach. Seeing the white waves crashing onto the black beach is quite breathtaking. There’s a small carpark near the lighthouse from where you can walk down to the beach.

Just a few miles further south is the Stokksnes Peninsula located in the southeast of Iceland. The area, also known as Vestrahorn, is one of Iceland’s most photogenic places. There’s a small admission fee (~8£, cards accepted) which is totally worth it. Stunning mountains on the horizon, an azure ocean, black dunes topped with green grass, the colours are simply unbelievable. The water is generally very shallow which gives the impression your walking on the sea. Come here in the late afternoon for Golden Hour and you will get plenty of amazing pictures, the opportunities are sheer endless. A wide-angle lens and water-proof boots will be the icing on the cake.

Day 6

The next day started again very early at around 6am. The plan was to catch sunrise at Diamond Beach and then go explore Vatnajökul Glacier. We arrived at the beach just when the sun started to peak over the horizon, making all the ice that has been washed ashore from the glacier glow like diamonds. Definitely worth getting up early.

After breakfast in the car it was time for the hike on the Vatnajökul Glacier. You can’t and probably shouldn’t just walk on the glacier all by yourself as it’s quite dangerous. Our tour-guide was from a company called Local Guide of Vatnajökul which was absolutely amazing, I would highly recommend them. The groups are quite small, ours had 6 other people and the whole hike takes about 6-7 hours, so definitely pack some lunch.

The guide took us in their giant 4x4 offroader to the foot of the glacier, where we got crampons and climbing harnesses for safety. From there we hiked for about 1.5 hours until we reached the first ice cave. Walking through the caves was an unbelievable experience, the whole scene felt completely surreal.

After the cave we went down to where the glacier meets the ocean. It’s absolutely beautiful and humbling, also quiet relaxing sight. And in some ways quite sad as the guide mentioned that the ice is becoming less and less each year. It’s a true wonder of nature and pretty sad so see them melt away, maybe forever.

On our way back we stopped in one of the biggest and most famous caves. It was already late afternoon and the sun was quite low, complementing the blue ice with some golden sparkles. Again big thanks to Stephanie from LocalGuide for a fantastic day out the the icy wild of Iceland’s Glacier.

Quite tired and exhausted we left Vatnajökull National Park and drove towards Vík for some food and sleep. We were just about to call it a day when we drove past Reynisfjara Beach, which just looked to good to miss.

Day 7

When we got up in the morning the weather was changing for the worse. Hurricane like winds with gusts well above 60mph and heavy snowfall made getting around a lot harder. Without a 4x4 getting around would have been completely impossible.

The first stop of the day was the iconic Skógafoss waterfall. The advantage of the bad weather was that almost no one else was around, which is actually quite rare since it’s a very popular sight.

Later that day the snowfall was getting heavier and driving became more and more difficult. Not to far from our accommodation was a waterfall called Urriðafoss so we headed there for a lunch break and some quick pictures. The weather and light really wasn’t great, so we quickly moved on.

One destination that had been on our list list since the beginning of the trip were the Hruni Hot Springs. These springs are still a bit of a secret and not too many people find them. It’s located literally in the middle nowhere and a 4x4 is mandatory during winter.

Once you get there the water is surprisingly hot, just need to bring a towel. There’s even a little hut to get changed. This was really a fun and relaxing experience, I would absolutely recommend those one over the very busy Blue Lagoon.

Day 8

When we got up around 6am the next morning the weather had finally cleared up. But with all the snowfall from the previous day and night the roads we’re still completely snowed in. Driving to the last waterfall on out list, Gullfoss, was honestly quite a nerve wrecking experience. I expected us to get stuck in the snow every second. Thankfully the 4x4 plowed through the snow like a hot knife through butter and we arrived at the destination just when the sun came over the horizon. And turned out that not many others felt as adventurous as we this morning so we were rewarded with another solo waterfall sunrise experience.

Sadly the blue skies didn’t last very long and a few hours later it was grey and foggy again. We did one last hike to a small waterfall and some rapids called Bruarfoss. The water is considered one of the bluest in Iceland. The hike is quite easy and there are many signs but the deep snow made it quite difficult to walk in some places. Nevertheless the colours of the water quite impressive and definitely worth a visit.

This wraps up our road trip around the Ring Road of Iceland. If you have any question about our trip please get in touch here. Also swing by our Instagram and Twitter for more frequent updates and stories.

See you soon!

The Gili Islands

Hello everyone,

Welcome back to the last leg of our trip around Bali. We started from Singapore, explored the South and the North of Bali and spent a day on Nusa Penida. The Gili Islands we're the last stop on our itinerary before heading back to Singapore. We've already heart a lot about the Gili Island, a tropical backpacker paradise, no cars, just blue oceans and white beaches.

There are 3 Gili Islands – Gili TrawanganGili Air  and Gili Meno, Gili Trawangan being the largest and most densely populated island. But all Islands are tiny, you can walk around all of them in less than an hour. And since there are no cars bikes are very popular and can be rented everywhere. 

 

But first of all, how do you get to the Gili Islands? There are multiple ways, starting with the very cheap (~2£) public ferry to and from Lombok. In our case we went from Bali to Nusa Penida (where we spend a day) and then took a speedboat to Nusa Lembongan from where we took a private ferry to Gili Trawangan

There are no cars on the Gili Islands. In order to get to and away from the harbor you can hire a horse wagon which will drive you all the way around the island for around 10£. Our hotel was renting out bikes for free, the quickest and most fun way to get around the island. Alternatively there are plenty of places to cheeply get a bike for a few days. 

Life on the Gilis is slow and calm. If you avoid high season apart from the main street near the harbor things are very relaxing and quiet. Enough time to enjoy the sunset on the westside of the island in one of the countless hammocks that are hanging in the trees. 

The sunsets have been some of my favorite so far. just walk along the western beach and find yourself a swing or a hammock and just lay back and enjoy. 

One of the best things you should do is rent a private boat far a few hours. Half day for the two of us cost around 30£ and you can visit the neighboring islands Gili Air or Gili Meno. Also the the locals driving the boat will show you the best spots to go snorkeling and swimming. Just remember to pack enough water, alternatively there are a few cafes on Gili Air that offer refreshments. 

Snorkeling is absolutely beautiful around the Gili Islands. There are plenty of different spots to explore, there are the famous hugging statues as well as a shipwreck, also there are plenty of colorful fish. If you're lucky you might even see a turtle.  

Something Anja was quite keen to do was going horseback riding on the beach. There are a few stables that offer sunset rides for about 40£ for around 2 hours. 

If you like this post check out the previous stops on our trip to Bali:

Also for more frequent update follow us on Instagram and Twitter.

See you soon! 

A day on Nusa Penida

Hi,

Nusa Penida, also knows as the Instagram Mecca of the 21st century. Boosted by the power of social media this particular little island became one of the most popular travel destination in the world. Nusa Penida features some of the most spectacular beaches and viewpoints in Indonesia and it's just one hour off the shore of Bali.

 

We started our trip from Bali early (check out the blog post here). The ferry operates quite frequently between Sanur Harbor and Nusa Penida. There're usually no jetties and you have to carry your luggage through the shallow water into the boat. 

First stop on our tour through the island was the famous Kelingking Beach. The iconic rock and chalk-stone formation has attracted millions of people and definitely doesn't lack in beauty. There's a path on the ridge of the cliff all the way down to the beach, sadly we didn't have enough time.

Little fun-fact, the little piece of land you can see in the pictures is also called drone graveyard by the locals. Apparently when you fly too low off shore you hit a radio dead-spot. Nevertheless, we flew our drone and it was fine, but keep that in mind.

Next stop was Broken Beach at the western side of the island. It's a natural pool connected to the ocean by an arch in the cliffs. The water is blue and quite famous for the large populations of manta rays. You can walk around the pool and over the arch and enjoy the picturesque views over the azure ocean. 

Not far from Broken Beach is Angles Billabong. It's another very shallow natural pool. It's exactly facing west so great sport for sunsets. Cliffs are pretty sharp so be carful when climbing down into the water.

Our final stop for the day was Crystal Bay. Since we were staying on Nusa Penida for the night we weren't in a rush to get on the last ferry. Hence the beach was relatively empty. We went out for a quick swim just on time to enjoy the sun setting behind the cliffs.

If you want to see the previous trips in and around Indonesia check out my previous posts:

Also for more frequent updates please follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

See you soon!

The Canaries Diary Part II: La Graciosa

Hello again,

welcome back to Part II of the Canaries Diary. Here's a link to Part I and all the things we did on Lanzarote

We spend the night in Orzola on Lanzarote before getting up at sunrise to take the ferry to La Graciosa. It's one of the northern islands of the Canaries and also one of the smallest inhabited part of the archipelago. Only about 700 people live permanently on the island, most live from tourism. There are no roads on La Graciosa, the only way to get around is by foot or to hire one of the 4x4 taxis. 

 

The first thing we noticed when we got of the ferry was the wind. Particularly around the harbour the wind blows violently through the little village. Since we didn't have time for breakfast we went to the first cafe which happened to be the only cafe in town. The entire town is pretty small, you can easily walk from on end to the other in less than 10 minutes. There's a little supermarket, a few restaurants and shops. 

After checking into our AirBnb ("Quiet apartment in La Graciosa Island") for the night we decided to take a tour around the island. Tours are offered by locals and usually start at the harbour and const about 50€. We shared the tour with a few others so it ended up being less that 10€ per person. The tour takes you pretty much all around the whole island, stopping at all the most popular sights. 

The highlight of the tour is definitely Playa De Las Conchas on the southern side of the island. It's very remote and hence not many people get there. It was probably one of the best experiences of the entire trip, we even came back later to watch the sunset.

The next day started a little less windy, so after breakfast and coffee we decided to hike up one of the volcanic mountains close to Playa De Las Conchas. They're not very high, but steep and the ground is very slippery. The view on top is absolutely worth it. 

To sum up the experience on La Graciosa, it feels a lot further away from Europe than Lanzarote. There are no tour busses or hotels, most of the tourists are backpackers. Especially after 5pm when the last ferry to Lanzarote left the island turns quiet. The weather and landscape is a lot rougher, the waves bigger and the currents stronger. The whole islands feels a lot more african than european. For me La Graciosa was definitely the highlight of the whole trip. 

If you liked this post make sure you also check out my post about Lanzarote. Also swing by my Instagram and Twitter for more regular pictures and updates. 

See you soon,

Tobi

The Canaries Diary Part I: Lanzarote

Hi all,

if you do an online search for the most popular and "hip" travel destinations of 2017 Lanzarote most likely wouldn't be on top of the results. And honestly I was in the same mindset. The only people I know who have been to the Canaries are my grandparents few years back. The reason we went there was mostly the lack of time and options, also the flights from London are a bargain in November. 

Today I've been back for about 3 weeks and I'm glad I went on this trip and overcame my prejudices.  Lanzarote has so many amazing and seemingly untouched gems waiting to be discovered, far away from mainstream tourism and tour busses. So don't get fooled by online reviews, Lanzarote is a unique and exiting place, only a few hours away from London.

The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago just off the northern coast of Africa. The most popular ones are Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria and finally Lanzarote, the most eastern island of the Canaries. According to Wikipedia they are among the outermost regions of the EU. And indeed this becomes very apparent once you start leaving the main cities: All Islands are the reminisces of a volcanic eruption hundreds of years ago. The landscape literally turns into fields of hardened lava. 

 

Walking on lava

Lanzarote's violent past becomes already quite visible when you approach the island's airport. From the air you can clearly see craters and broken up slopes, relicts of massive eruptions in the past. The landscapes are vast and deserted, only under closer inspections revealing signs of nature slowly fighting its way back up through the solidified fields of lava. 

The black beaches

One of the most beautiful phenomena happened when over decades the solid lava got washed into the ocean and formed beaches with black sand. The blue ocean, the breaking waves and the black sand create some stunning colours.

Climb the cliffs

It's hard to miss the cliffs overlooking Famara Beach at the most norther end of Lanzarote. Roads are steep and mostly gravel at the ends, but the view is way worth it. Park your car at the Park El Bosquecillo and search for Cueva de Las Cabras, you won't be dissapointed!

Go Surfing

One of the best ways to experience the waves of the Atlantic Ocean it to go surfing. The most popular spot is Famara Beach in the north of Lanzarote. The beach is very safe with moderate waves, lifeguards and surf schools. We rented boards and wetsuits at lanzarotekite just a few hundred meters from the shore, prices are really cheap and staff friendly.

Take a bath

The natural pools are probably one of Lanzarote's best kept secrets, and it took us quite a while to find them. Located at the south of the islands, follow a pretty bumpy dirt road until you see an abandoned building. This used to be a hotel back in the 60s and 70s, there are very few sources on what this place actually is. Today it largely seems like a place for homeless and graffiti artists. We parked our car just outside the building.

We walked through a few holes in the fences and ignored the "Do not enter" warning signs. There's an undeniably weird vibe in the air, and the structure definitely didn't feel safe. So we left on the rear side of the hotel through what used to be courtyard, climbed through another fence and went towards the cliffs.        

The pools on the other side are just gorgeous. Carefully climb down the cliffs and make sure the tide is pretty low. Unfortunately when we arrived the tide was already rising again and big waves started to roll over the pools. So we only took a quick bath and snapped a few pictures before climbing back up. The currents are incredibly powerful, so please be careful and always have someone watching the incoming waves. 

 
 

This concludes Part I of our trip to the Canaries, hope you enjoyed the pictures. If you want to get a sneak peak of what's coming next, check out my Instagram and Twitter for daily updates and travel pictures. Click here to jump straight to Part II: La Graciosa.

Tobi