The Salt Flats in Bolivia, A Must Visit!

Reflections, crystal-white salt, never ending views, ice scraped mountains, wildlife, and this all above 4000 km height.  Combine breath taking colorful lagoons with steamy volcanoes, geysers and warm hot-springs. This popular destination is without doubt an unforgettable and magical journey that you will never forget! Experience the world’s largest salt flats: Salar de Uyuni

Salt Flats

The view from the air is exquisite, you can already see the Salt Flats from here

How to get there:
I traveled from La Paz to Uyuni by plane and I paid 1350 Bolivianos for a return flight (this is around 190 euro). The flight only takes 50 minutes and it departs at 7am with Amazons airlines or at 8am with BOA airlines. The view from the air is exquisite, you can already see the Salt Flats from here.
From the airport you need to take a taxi that will bring you to the center of Uyuni for just 10 Bolivianos (1.40 euro).  You can also take a bus from La Paz to Uyuni, that will only costs you 30 euros for a return ticket and they will drop you in the center of Uyuni.  It takes around 8 or 9 hours one way (depending on the traffic).

SALT FLATS

TIP! Make sure you arrive in the center of Uyuni before 10am, so you will have enough time to arrange your tour. The tour starts around 11am.

Tours
The Salar de Uyuni tours range in length from one to four days. During a one day tour you will experience the salt flats as well as a few other sights in the surrounding area and you’ll do it by jeep. The three or four day tours will take you deeper into the desert where you will see steamy volcanoes, geysers, colorful lakes, warm hot-springs, unique wildlife and a lot more…..I definitely recommend a three or four day trip if you like a little adventure.

Salt Flats

Where To Buy Your Ticket
You can choose to book your ticket in La Paz (or another city), but we’d heard that it’s cheaper and also super easy to fix in Uyuni , so we decided to book it there. When you arrive in the center of Uyuni in the early morning you will find many local agencies who all want to sell a ticket to you. They will attack you and it’s hard to choose. For your info, they all offer the same tours, it’s just the price that diverse from the other. Eventually it’s cheaper to book your ticket in Uyuni. We paid 680 Bolivianos for 3 days, including food, drinks and 2 night’s stay.

TIP! Try to find at least 5 people and start to negotiate (every jeep will take a group of up to 6 people).

The Tour
Day 1: 

  • Arrive at the small village of Colchani where you will have the chance to buy some local souvenirs 
  • The original Salt Hotel 
  • Salar de Uyuni (Uyuni salt flats), where you get enough time to make pictures and see the sunset
  • Uyuni center where you will have dinner and spend the night

dsc_9031

20170315_155405
Mirror mirror on the wall..

20170315_183921
The Sunset at the Salt Flats is something else..

salt-flats
Image by Nancy 

Day 2:

  • Wake up at 7am and leave at 8am
  • Breakfast in a small village on the way to the next stop (Bread with jam and coffee or tea)
  • Exploring the Cementerio de trenes 
  • Valle de Rocas where you get lunch (meat with salad and potatoes
  • Small desert of Chiguana on the south side of Salar de Uyuni where you stop at a lookout to view steamy volcanoes
  • Breathtaking colorful Lagoons: Hedionda, Onda with many flamingos , Lagoon Colorodo National park (protected where you need to pay 15o Bolivianos)
  • Eat and sleep in a hostel. You get a tea and coffee with cookies when you arrive and for dinner we got this nice vegetable soup and spaghetti with a bottle of red wine

TIP! Bring your own wine! Or…. If your wine is finito and you wish for more than you can buy it in the small village where you are staying (around the corner), that sells beers, wines, cookies, chips and more.

Salt Flats
Cementerio de trenes

Salt Flats
Valle de Rocas

20170316_134543

20170316_150204
Lagoon Onda

20170316_171117

20170316_171317
Lagoon Colorodo

Day 3:

  • Wake up at 6am, have breakfast (delicious pancakes for breakfast in the morning with tea and coffee) and leave at 7.30am
  • Visit the Sol de Mañana” geysers while the sun comes up
  • The natural hot-springs. The volcanic activity produces some thermal springs. Best way to get warm again. 
  • Laguna Verde – the green lake – only green in October and November due to the change in alga’s
  • Lunch on the way back – salad with tuna, vegetables and pasta with a beautiful view (6 hour ride back to Uyuni)
  • Last stop is the local market 1 hour before Uyuni. Time to go to the toilet and buy some drinks

20170317_063407
Sol de Mañana” geysers

20170317_063837-2
Sunset at the geysers

20170317_072716
The natural hot-springs 

20170317_084539
Laguna Verde

You can describe the Salt Flats tour in one word: Memorable! 

Love,

Sarah

Read more about Sarah’s adventure in Bolivia and the main reason she went there:

Bolivia

Women with a mission in La Paz, Bolivia

Peace on earth, the freedom to make your own decisions, is what the leaders of Catolicas Por El Derecho A Decider in La Paz pray for.
Men make decisions for their women when they get married: How many children they get, when they can visit a friend, the approval for a medicine…. and a lot more. The leaders in La Paz are on a mission, they want to inform women about their rights and their possibilities in Bolivia.



Before speaking with the local leaders of Catolicas Por El Derecho A Decidir about their mission, we made an offering of seeds and water to Pachamama (Mother Earth). Together we prayed for women inside and outside La Paz, for a brighter future where men and women are equal! It was a special moment to experience.

offering

“I wanted to end my pregnancy, but my husband forbid me to do so”

We spoke with three incredible and strong leaders of the organization in La Paz:

Eugenia “I need my husband’s permission to leave the house”

dsc_8814

She’s 60 years old, makes handmade clothes and sells it to friends and family, she has 4 children and is married.
She found a very nice husband, but in the beginning he was super jealous and therefore she couldn’t leave the house. “He expected me to cook, clean, wash and that’s it. I spoke with other women in my village and some of them were studying and I wanted the same!” Eventually she was allowed to take some courses and after their children were old enough her husband changed his perception. Since then she can do whatever she wants as long as she tells him. She’s is super happy that she can inform and help other women and she wants to do this until her last day!

Encarnacion “Women who want to explore are not worthy.”



She’s 41 years old, bakes cookies and cakes and sells it on the local market, she has 5 children and is married. 
“My dad was an alcoholic and hit my mother on a daily base. My mother protected us, so we stayed unharmed. One thing I know for sure is that I didn’t want to end up with a guy like my father. I found a super sweet man, but his family was horrible. They told him many times that women who wanted to explore are not worthy. So I was not allowed to do anything (work, study.. etc.) and I had to stay home. It got better when other women in our village talked about projects where they learned to sew and cook. This is how I learned to cook even better and eventually I got in contact with Catolicas por el derecho a decider where I now give workshops to my own village people. My husband supports me completely and his family has to deal with it.

Alejandra “I wanted to end my pregnancy, but my husband forbid me to do so”

dsc_8829

She’s 24 years old, studies Communication on the University in La Paz, she has one little daughter of 4 years old and she’s divorced.
Alejandra got accidentally pregnant when she was 20 years old. She wanted to end her pregnancy, because she was still studying, they didn’t had money and her relationship wasn’t that great, but her husband forbid her to do so. He humiliated her when he found out that she wanted to kill their baby. She didn’t have another option, so decided to keep it. Within a few weeks her husband left her and their child for another woman. Luckily her parents helped her out and so she continued her study. She is in her last year, she gives workshops and leisure’s about the possibilities for women on high schools. She talks with young girls in the hope that they have the opportunity to make their own decisions. She’s super optimistic about her future.

Workshops at High school 
After lunch we traveled together with some of the leaders to a Highschool where Catolicas por el derecho a decider gives workshops to young children about gender equality and more. A big problem with young female women is that they get pregnant on a young age and they have no idea what their options are. This day they introduced something new, a card game with questions: What would you do when you got pregnant? Is it OK to enjoy seks? Where to go to when you are pregnant? They try to inform children in a fun way.


dsc_8892  


Donate!

One of our reporters Renske appointed it perfectly in her article: “You read a lot about Servië, Iran and Eretria, but we only read about Bolivia in travel magazines. 
The prays and life lessons of these leaders plus the workshops of Mensen met een missie are needed as you can tell. Please donate of you haven’t done yet here!!!

Love,

Sarah

Gender Equality in Agua Blanca, Bolivia

A bumpy road with lots of llamas and alpacas along the way with breathtaking views. After a 12 hour drive from La Paz we arrived at a small village called Agua Blanca (named after the rivers and waterfalls over here) near the border of Peru. Together with Yolanda and a priest of the organization ISEAT we visited the local village people and lived with them for 3 days. Around 100 families live in this village, nestled between snow-capped mountains. 1300 ft above sea level without any mobile and internet connection. But is that important when you have your friends and families around you and views like these? I was here to talk to the men and women about gender equality.

Agua Blanca

The workshops
The leaders of the village get monthly workshops by ISEAT – an organization of theologians supported by ‘Mensen met een Missie’- . An important topic here is also gender equality and gender-based violence between men and women. Almost half of the women in this village are single, they don’t have faith in men or left their men. The leaders tell us that violence against women is thankfully getting less and that you already see the difference. Men help out in householding and take over some of the tasks from their wives.


The leaders of Agua Blanca


Even more happy together after the workshops

The Future of Women in Agua Blanca
Some of the women and men here, follow the workshops of ISEAT and Mensen Met een Missie. According to them you will find not as much violence in their village like in the bigger cities. There’s still some physical and psychological violence against women but you won’t see that 0ut in the open. Things are getting better.


An interview with the people of the village in their church

The people in Agua Blanca are sincerely and unbelievable friendly

 


Lama’s welcoming us upon arrival

Now it’s time to head back to La Paz where me and my reporters team will have a day to rest before saying goodbye and heading to the salt lakes of Bolivia!

Love,

Sarah

*All pictures are shot by Ilsoo van Dijk

A memorable day in Bolivia

For some women in the world the 8th of March is just another ordinary day, but for women in Bolivia it is ‘the day’ that they fight against violence. We marched on the streets in Sucre (Bolivia) with around 50 women who all have something in common; they are humiliated and scarred for life. I’ve asked myself the question, will this ever stop?!

Sucre – ‘la ciudad blanca’ or white city, is the capital of Bolivia which lies at an elevation of 2,810 meters. Many of the buildings in the center of this beautiful white-washed town date back to the 16th century.  It’s famous for it’s historic buildings, indigenous culture, nightlife, bars and restaurants. An old-world charm place that is unlike any other. It seems so peaceful, but a lot happens behind doors.

A memorable day in Bolivia we will never forget!

In the early morning we walked with our group of volunteers to the Levantate de Mujer office where around 50 women were ready to march the streets of Sucre. And we marched with them!

They were holding brown papers and shouted what rights they should and want to have: the right to study, the right to work, the right to choose who to marry…… To make an end to discrimination based on gender!




Interview with local radio and tv!

We gathered around at Playa Major with lots of other women and luckily also some men.
Aracely, 21 years old – Marilena, 17 years –  Ligia, 36 year – these are a few of the names and ages of women who are murdered, beaten to dead or burned. These names are visible on a ribbon of waving flags on the square. The leaders of Levantate de Mujer gave interviews to local radio and tv shows. The problem is clearly visible today and that’s definitely needed.


Ribbon of waving flags of women who are murdered, beaten to dead or burned

In the afternoon we spoke with some of the women who participate in projects of Levantate de Mujer. 

Patricia – “My husband punched me several times. I got 3 fractured ribs and a damaged face and more.. But even worse, he physically humiliated me.”


Tears in her eyes

Her story got me. She closed her eyes and began her story:
” I haven a violent past, my husband punched me several times. I got 3 fractured ribs and a damaged face and a lot more.. But even worse, he physically humiliated me. I wasn’t good enough for him and my children. He tortured one of  my children and she died. I still didn’t know what to do, so I let him do his thing for many years. Eventually I got in contact with this organization via a neighbor. I left my husband and I’m still so happy that I did! My children an I spoke with a psychologist and we learned how to move forward. I want to be there for my children, so therefore I learned how to cook, sew etc. I got my confidence back and my children do much better!”

We cried with her and we were quiet for a few minutes….

There’s still a lot of violence against women, but with the help of the workshops of Mensen met Een Missie  there’s an opportunity for these women!
So if you haven’t donated yet, than please do
here!

You will find more info about Levantate de Mujer and Mensen Met een Missie here

All images are shot by Ilsoo van Dijk 


Love, 

Sarah

International Women’s Day: Violence against women in Bolivia

You won’t see me sipping on cocktails on a white sandy beach these next couple of weeks. Nope, this time you will see me visiting various local organizations in Bolivia for Dutch organisation ‘Mensen met een Missie’. Wander-Lust and a group of volunteers are here to support the human rights for women.  


Women from different backgrounds at Levantate Mujer in Sucre with all the reporters 

There’s a lot of violence against women in Bolivia. Seven out of the ten women are dealing with physical or sexual abuse. I haven’t seen any violence in the streets in Bolivia so far, but it happens at home where you won’t see it.

I thought it was normal that my husband physically humiliated me – Patricia

‘Mensen met een Missie’ supports young people and victims and I got the chance to talk with these women and to share their stories with you.
Today it’s International Women’s day, the day where we celebrate women’s achievements and opportunities worldwide. A very important day for these women in Bolivia.

The Women from Bolivia with a story:

1. Jacqueline
“I learned to be independent”

A woman of 37 with two kids of 17 (student of a university) and 11 (student) wasn’t afraid to share her story. She was a victim of violence, but not anymore.
She learned via workshops how to stand up for yourself, how to treat your kids and how to be independent. She has her own business in kids clothes and is happy that her kids are doing great. She’s very thankful that she got the support which helped her to be where she is right now.

2. Patricia
“I thought it was normal that my husband physically humiliated me”



My husband told me day in and out that I was stupid, not good enough for our kids, that I was ugly and a lot more. I got in contact with Levantate Mujer (local organisation which Mensen met een Missie supports) via my neighbours and after a few workshops from Mensen met een Missie I learned that it was not normal how my husband treated me. Within a few weeks Patricia got an enormous amount of confidence and decided to leave her husband. She learned how to educate her children (5 kids between 4 and 15) and her goal is to give them a ‘normal’ future. She now works on a local market where she sells bags and more handcrafted items.

3. Noellia
“I got beaten up by my husband several times in the past, but he changed since he started following the workshops of Mensen met een Missie.”



I met this young and talented mother of 2 kids at Levantate Mujer in Sucre. She told us that her husband changed since he got in contact with this organisation.  “Before he didn’t accept that women study, but now he does. He’s is a different man and he supports me in my ways. I now study history and work as a teacher at Levantate Mujer.”

“They all survived, but not all of them have. Some go back to their husband anyway.”

About Mensen met een Missie
Mensen met een Missie was founded in 1931 and is involved in about 350 initiatives of partner organizations in 16 target countries, Africa, Asia and Latin America. They join forces and coordinate their program with other stakeholders in each of the 16 countries. One of the countries is Bolivia, where they support local organisation Fundacion Levantate Mujer in 5 different cities. Levantate Mujer, means women who stand up’ is the organization who helps women to build up an independent life and teach them the rights for women (that’s it not normal that their husband is beaten them up).  These women have has a hard time: now money to feed their kids and there was no place where they could go to. Finally there’s a place where they can go to.

One of the things they are focusing on is reducing the violence against women by learning women what their rights are. Mensen met een Missie is supporting this topic with workshops. Women get the change to enter one of the shelter homes of Fundacion Levantate Mujer where they learn how to cook, sew, knitting and more for free.



Women learn how to sew

They also have the opportunity to learn how to work with computers. 
Mensen met een Missie offers workshops every month where women get informed about women rights and how to educate their kids. This local organisation offers child service upstairs for their kids between 2.5-5 years old and for kids from 5-6 years old they help out with school stuff for their children that go to school. This way they make it a lot easier for women to take courses and workshops since they don’t have to babysit.

Hopefully it’s gives you a better understanding of where the money will go when you donate. If you haven’t done so yet then please do! It’s a beautiful initiative and they need your help to keep on supporting these women!

Donate here

All images are shot by Ilsoo van Dijk 

Love,

Sarah

Top 5 » Badass Travel Women around the world

We celebrated international women’s day so a good reason to highlight some amazing women who inspire us to the max. We are so happy to see more and more independent females who pack their bags and travel around the world to show us that it can be done no matter what age, size or background. There are too many amazing women to mention them all but we’ve picked 5 badass travel chicks that we feel set a great example of what a strong female represents.

1. Celine Cousteau, USA & France
She’s a filmmaker, diver and most of all an explorer. Born in California and raised in France, she has certainly seen the world. Celine inspires people all over the world with her documentaires about humanitarian and environmental stories. She speaks 3 languages fluently and uses her voice as a public speaker. Besides all this, she is also a mother to a son. This woman has power!
www.celinecousteau.com

Celine Cousteau badass women
What a woman! 

2. Floortje Dessing, The Netherlands
She’s the most famous traveler from the Netherlands. She has seen the whole world from Amsterdam to Greenland, Japan, The North Pole and even North Korea (she and her TV crew are one of the only ones that were allowed to film there). In total she has visited more than 120 countries and for her latest television show she is visiting Dutch people who live in remote places around the world and the TV program scores high! Besides all her travels, she also gives a lot back and she started a fair-trade sustainable clothing store called Nukuhiva. This woman is far from being done with traveling and we love her for it!

Power woman Floortje Dessing
Our Dutch pride; Floortje Dessing

“These wanderlust women show us that anything is possible”

3. Morgan Brechler, USA
She is the bohemian dream-mother of the world. At least, we think so. Morgan (26) is a (extremely beautiful) young mother from the US who travels and climbs around the most amazing national parks of the USA and other parts of the world with her daughter Haidlie since she was only a small toddler. She is working towards a degree in sustainable agriculture and Morgan is part of a new documentary called Born Wild, celebrating single adventurous mothers who want to instill a love of nature and the outdoors into their children’s lives from the very beginnings. Can we say we are a little bit jealous of this amazing woman?
www.instagram.com/morganbrechler

Morgan Brechler badass women
Wanderlust mother Morgan

4. Liss Connel, Australia
We love her Aussi name but her lifestyle is seriously to die for! We’ve highlighted her famous caravan recently and we can’t get enough of her Instagram. She travels whenever she can and like us, she loves to write about it. She’s made the Philippines the new hottest hippie destination by showcasing it on her popular Instagram account. She is not focused on becoming a star but she lives life to the fullest and we applaud her for it. 
www.instagram.com/lifeintheslowlane

Life in the slow lanewanderlust women; Liss Connell
We are addicted to her Instagram account; Life in the slowlane

5. Roshni Sharma, India
Everybody told her she couldn’t do it and she proved them wrong. She became the first woman in India who drove all the way from Kanyakumari to Kashmir with on her motorbike. The 5452 km long road was dangerous and the trip was long but that didn’t hold her back. Armed with pepperspray, the 26 year old, took on the challenge and finished the journey. You go girl!

Roshni Sharma
The woman and her bike. Source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/

Love,

Wander-Lust

The adventurous South Island of New Zealand

As the ultimate New Zealand ambassador (seriously, if the immigration laws weren’t so impossible, I would already live there) I would highly recommend to visit every part of this beautiful country. But I also know that you need at least two months to fully explore every corner. Reality is that a lot of (short-term) travelers have to be selective on where to go and pick the South-Island of New Zealand as their go-to destination. With reason, it’s a dream to drive the long roads, stare at the ridiculously gorgeous and ever-changing scenery, wander through the cozy towns and have fun with the hilarious, straightforward locals. Next to all this beauty, there are also a ton of opportunities to have some adventure. I’ll let you in on some of the ones I experienced.

Oh and by the way, if you are going to travel the whole country (you lucky bastard), make sure to check out our insights on the Stunning North Island as well!

The North Island of New Zealand
The North Island of New Zealand

Pick Picton
Easily overlooked by many, little port town Picton (where the ferry from the North Island arrives) is worth to stay for a few days. Where the town is small, the nature is grand! the maze of the Marlborough Sounds with it’s valley’s, peaks, beaches, birds and crystal clear waters just scream for some exploring. Be prepared to feel really small when walking (pieces of) the Queen Charlotte trail. If you are not a hiker, there are also plenty of kayak and bike tours, as long or short as you like. Also, if you’re into sailing, make sure to ask around in town if the local sailing club still has training nights and if you are allowed to join. It’s what we did and it resulted in an epic afternoon of high speed sailing on an amazing sailboat, sarcastic jokes and home-brewed rum by the crew included. You can find more info about Picton here: www.newzealand.com/nieuw-zeeland/picton/

The seals of Abel Tasman
Of course you are going to visit Abel Tasman National Park. Golden beaches, lush nature, secret waterfalls, they have it all here. Whatever you have planned for this park, make sure to add some kayaking even if it is just for a few hours. It’s paddling on open sea and therefore pretty damn exhausting, but you’ll forget about that when you look around you. The occasional seal will lazily float by your canoe, enjoying the sun as much as you’ll do. I did a two day tour, with one day of kayaking to a campsite (the tour agencies will provide you with a fully stocked kayak, tent included) and walking back to following day. This really was a magical two days, bonfires included!


south-island of new-zealand abel-tasman-park_kayaking
Kayaking at Abel Tasman National Park

new-zealand_south-island_abel-tasman-park_anchorage_kayaking

Roadtrip
If you have been doubting whether to hire a car to get around or just take the easy way and buy a buss pass: hire a car!! This coming from me (the most scared car driver alive) says something. The South Island offers not so many roads, and they are also not that busy. But men, they are breathtaking. And at some parts also quite adventurous, with mountain passes, hairpin bends, cliffs, no gas stations for miles and of course driving on the left side. Having your own car gives you the opportunity to really wander off the main roads, stop to gaze at your surroundings wherever and whenever you want, travel at your own pace. Oh and perhaps getting chased by a herd of cows and losing some hubcaps in the process, like happend to us. But hey, that’s a story for another time. Trust me, take the car. Car rental Picton (you can rent the car her, and drop it off in several other cities, Christchurch for instance): https://www.omegarentalcars.com/car-rental-picton/

new-zealand_south-island_roadtrip_crystal-clear

Adventure capital of the world
The true thrill seekers will know this: Queenstown is the place to be if you are looking for adventure (and for a scandalous pub-crawl). This town does, In my honest opinion, no real justice to the rest of the country since it pulls in a lot of tourists who just want to get hammered. But hey, it’s good fun for a few days and it still looks magnificent. Also it’s the best place to book a trip to Milford Sound, a mystical fjord which seems to come straight out of a movie (remember that movie with elves, a ring and some bad orcs ;-) ). But back to the adrenaline, this town will get you pumped with it. From jet boating to luging to bungeejumping, make sure to save some of your money to engage in at least one of the adventures on offer. If you have some real guts, do the bungeejumping. You have multiple bungee sites to choose from. The Nevis bungee let’s you fall ‘ only’ 180 meters, The Ledge offers cool views on Queenstown (but not sure if you’ll be aware of that if you are about to make a free fall with nothing but a rope around your ankles). I did the Kawarau Bridge jump, since this is the first commercial bungee site in the world and my inner nostalgia bubbled up because of this. Imagine jumping of an old bridge, in the middle of a gorge, dipping into turquoise water. And of course being pulled back by that gigantic elastic. I was scared, I screamed, I was terrified. And I would do it again any day.

new-zealand_south-island_queenstown
Queenstown

south-island of new-zealand queenstown_kawarau_bungee
It’s the perfect place for thrillseekers

Stewart Island
Most people know about the North and the South Island, but forget the third island of New Zealand: Stewart Island. I’ll admit, it will steal some days of your travels to get there, but if you have the time and you’re looking for nature in it’s purest form, go! While on the island, we had the privilege to actually spot a real life Kiwi (the bird which functions as New Zealand’s national symbol). They only live in the wild on Stewart Island and are hardly seen. We just happened to trip over one while we are arguing about the scary and dark forest path we were taking. Its all possible here. Same goes for the little penguins that show up at dawn in the harbor. Getting to Stewart Island is possible by ferry boat. But if it has always been your dream do go cage diving with great white sharks, you can also book a (really expensive) tour which offers you the cage as well as the transfer to the island. It’s what we did because my sister had this crazy desire to face the shark of death. Be careful when booking a trip like this, my sister actually ended up not seeing the shark in the water at all (while I had a pretty clear sight of the monster when I was just lounging on the deck). But hey, if it’s your dream..

Meet a sea lion
Another place that a lot of people skip is student town Dunedin. Which is a shame, since they have a chocolate factory! Jokes aside, it’s a very laid-back city, home to the worlds steepest residential street of the world. More importantly, it’ s also home to the Otago peninsula, where you can drive around and spot marine wildlife. Think penguins, albatrosses, seals and sea lions. We encountered two sea lions of which one was surrounding a bird watching hut to ensure that the people in there, would stay in there. The other sea lion (which we named Claude) was actually chasing us. Quite the adventure, but I guess that’s what the South Island of New Zealand is all about.

new-zealand_south-island_dunedin_otago-peninsula_sea-lion
Claude chasing us!

This is only a small list of everything you can do on this amazing island. there is whale-watching in Kaikoura, climbing Franz Josef glacier, Mount Cook. spotting dolphins in Greymouth, hiking around Lake Wanaka, the TranzAlpine train ride, Christchurch, Akaroa, and so so so much more. Go there, and make me jealous.

Love,

Jill

*Jill is one of our guest bloggers living in Amsterdam (@jillgwendolyn) where she works as a content manager for a digital agency. She’s Crazy about traveling and has spend her studies in New Zealand . You can read a new article from Jill in every 3rd week of the month!

Kitzbühel » The Metropolis in Winter Wonderland

Maybe it’s because of the Hahnenkamm-Rennen, the luxurious and colorful city center or cause it kind of feels like the Manhattan of Austria. Kitzbühel is one of the most distinct ski destinations of the Alps and she wears it with pride.

The city center of Kitzbühel
Like a colorful necklace the villages swings around the mountain foot. Each shop has a different colour, forming a bold contrast with the pearl white snow. I have been told that every colour stands for a different house owner. The large colored surfaces already reveal Kitzbühel is far from poor. Actually, in my whole life I’ve never seen a ski area with so many luxurious shops. I only went to Zillertal and Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis but still, it counts. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tough freerider or if you prefer the chic-side-of-life, the stores offer enough diversity to empty your wallets in no time. If that sounds like heaven to you I would recommend staying in Tiefenbrunner Kitzbühel, a beautiful hotel in the shopping street. After a long day of shoppi… uuh skiing you can recharge in the sauna or swimming pool.

relaxing-in-the-hotel
Relaxing at the Tiefenbrunner hotel

Snow on trees in Kitzbühel

We can all thank Franz Reisch for making Kitzbühel a leading destination for winter sports. Applause for you Franz, cause I can surely appreciate it. Let me take you back 120 years when it all started. Franz Reisch, the mayor of Kitzbühel, fell in love with skiing and wanted to share his passion. He imported thousands of skis in order to sell them again to the restless guests in the village. Just as predicted, the visitors were enchanted by the sport and it became a great success. That day, in Kitzbühel, winter sports (and of course après-ski) were born.

Kitzbühel
Kitzbuhel offers amazing mountain views!

Skiing
A small layer of snow is enough for skiing or snowboarding thanks to the grassy slopes at high altitudes. So we can all thank Mother Nature (with a little help from the snow cannons) for making 180 days a year of ski fun in Kitzbühel possible. For me, as a beginner, the area is perfect for skiing. More than 50% of the slopes are blue (101 km) and it’s even possible to make a few trips without scaring yourself to death because of the steepness.

Skiing in Kitzbuhel

 Kitzbühel offers you a great diversity of relaxation, shopping and skiing

Lunch break in Kitzbuhel
A well deserved Austrian lunch break!

Advanced skiers can try their luck at the Streif. A spectacular descent where the best skiers compete with each other once a year during the Hannenkamm-Rennen. It’s one of the most difficult slopes in the world: ramps up to 85 percent, speeds around 140 kilometers an hour and a 80 meter jump over the so called “mousetrap”. She’s famous, notorious, feared but certainly loved. Every year this event attracts more than 40.000 visitors who watch the skiers flying down the Streif in suspense. Advanced skiers will find plenty of challenge at the Steif so put it on your to-do list (if you got the guts). Next to this try before you die slope you can enjoy beautiful red (61km) and black (17km) slopes in the area. The rebels who like to colour outside the lines can find some adventurous off-piste runs in the area of Kitzbühel – Kirchberg.


Group tours through the mountains of Kitzbühel

My verdict
You won’t find the giant mountains and hundred kilometres of black slopes but Kitzbühel offers you a great diversity of relaxation, shopping and skiing. Talking about relaxation: Kitzbühel is well known for her cozy mountain huts. Two of my favourite huts where the Bei Tomschy and Berggasthof Tirol. Both traditional, but the food and service are of high standard, perfect excuse for a break. Cause after a long day of skiing (or shopping) we can all use a heiße choco mit sahne… und Rum.

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

Private slopes and more in Zillertal, Austria

I can ensure you that I’m not a morning person but while getting up at 5:30 am for the private slope at Hochfügen, Zillertal, I only snoozed once (very proud of that). Leaving my cozy bed at Das PostHotel – Zillerseasons to get ready for the untouched slopes and a heavenly white view.

Hire a Private Piste
The private slope is limited to a maximum of 30 people so take the title ‘private’ very serious. Standing 2.133m high with my head in de clouds, ready to take a jump in the powder snow on our very own red slope. The experience is amazing; nothing can be compared to skiing down the smooth white sheets while the world is still asleep. Creating that very first track, the silence that embraces you and nobody that (in my case) overtakes you. Truly an amazing experience, one of those try-before-you-die things. But, if you are a beginner be sure to check the type of slope before setting your alarm at 5:30 am. To be honest, going down a red slope on the third day of skiing was a little bit too ambitious for me. I have absolutely no regrets but for now I’ll stick to the blue beginner slopes to keep myself from a heart attack. The private piste hire is available from 7.30 – 8.30 am from €40 per person.

Private piste Zillental
Virgin slopes are guaranteed!

Luckily for me, Zillertal offers 132km of Eva-proof blue slopes. The confident skiers out there can take it to the next level with the 238 km of red slopes. Zillertal is also a perfect destination for snowboarders because of the small amount of flat connections between the slopes.
There is another 65km of black slopes for the experienced skiers and snowboarders. The real daredevils can try their luck on the Harakiri. Beware, cause with an average gradient of 78 percent this is the steepest slope in Austria. I kindly turned down the invitation this year, but who knows what the future will bring.

img-20170131-wa0019

skiing in Zillental

Those 435 km of slopes Zillertal has to offer will keep you from getting bored for sure. But there is more to Winter sport then stroking the slopes with your skis or snowboard. And no, I’m not talking about après-ski cause we all know how much fun that can be. Zillertal changed my opinion on which ingredients a laid back vacation had to include. Forget lying on the beach all day, working on your tan and following those yoga classes at Bali.

Winter sports is the new mindful vacation this world has to offer and will surprise you with the diversity of activities. Although I enjoyed skiing to the fullest, it wasn’t exactly a relaxing experience for me as a beginner. I’m not even talking about the muscle pain or bruises on my butt, cause that’s just part of the deal. The blame is to my inner voice who kept on shouting “DON’T DARE to fall in front of this cute ski instructor!” Well, bye bye inner peace… Here are my favorite activities that can clear your mind while still exploring the area and enjoying the nature:

Cross Country Skiing
It’s still quite a workout but that way you can order another plate of Keizerschmarren without any guilt feelings (at least I did). You use different muscles then with skiing, what makes it a perfect alternative if you suffer from muscle pain. Next to that it’s a really calm way to explore the area but way more fun than walking. Pause to take some photos, enjoy the view or to catch your breath. And once you are at the top of the mountain, you only have to slide down again. I took the Gamsstein Cross Country path near Hochfügen. The access to the area is free so grab those skies und gehen!

Langlaufen in Pill, Zillental

Toboggan Run
In Gerlosstein you can find the longest toboggan run in the Zillertal Valley, 7 km of sliding fun. The cable car will take you to an altitude of 1.650 m and after that you actually don’t have to do anything… perfect winter-sports- activity right? Just sit, enjoy and somehow find a way to steer around the corners. The best part; you’ll even find bars along the toboggan run for some Glühwein to warm you up.
Tip: Check the weather condition before planning a toboggan run. If there is too much snow you will loose your speed and will need a lot more Glühwein to stay excited.

Gluhwein in Zillertal

My verdict: Zillertal is a great place to discover and enjoy the diversity of winter sports. It offers a great amount of slopes, modern lifts and Austrian hospitality. Next to skiing there are plenty activities to add some variety to your trip. Choose from snowtubing, funparks, cross country skiing or rent your very own private slope. Whatever you choose, I can ensure you that you won’t get bored. Find more info about the area here.

Read my previous article, A Beginners Guide to Wintersport and find out where I had the best High Tea at 2600m!

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

The Antwerp City Guide by Wander-Lust

If you live in the Netherlands, Antwerp is the perfect place to escape to for a city break. We’ve been there many times and checked out some of the best spots for you to enjoy food, drinks and more. Here’s our Antwerp City Guide!

How to get there
Well, you have 2 options and they are both as easy. You can take the train or you can go by car. Both options take around the same time (2 hours) but we prefer the train because you can chill, look out of the window and you will arrive at one of the most beautiful and impressive trains stations in Europe. A  return train ticket from Amsterdam to Antwerp will cost around 30 -40 euro. If you go by car, you might arrive earlier but if you are unlucky, you will get caught in slow traffic and your trip might take up to 3 hours plus you will have to pay for parking.

“This Antwerp City Guide is for wanderers who love food, shops and exploring”

Antwerp City Guide

Where To Eat?
The most important question of course! Well, in Antwerp you won’t be short of food choices. Especially lunch! There are so many hotspots around that we can’t mention them all, but these are our favorites!
» Tinsel, some say that you can get the best breakfast in town here. Tinsel is located near the water where you will find tons of other restaurants. www.tinsel.be
» Native Bio Bistro, This hidden pearl is by far our favorite lunch spot in Antwerp. This bistro serves fresh, original, and good quality food. It’s organic, locally produced with sustainable ingredients, this is Native! Vegan and organic food lovers will love this place! During the summer they open a very nice terrace. www.native.bio
» Bubble Waffle, located in the Mercado foodcourt, this tasty waffle stand awesome! Go here if you feel like something sweet. www.bubblewaffle.be
» Divers, a smoothie-bowl bar for your healthy cravings. Great for some Instagram worthy pics, if that’s what your after. They are located in the Volkstraat 9.
»De Broers van Julienne, when we need to grab a quick and healthy bite, we go here. In a side street of the Kammenstraat – with lots of boutiques – you will find this small cute little restaurant. You can take away the best quiches, soups,  salads and other warm healthy dishes. Besides that, they sell oil, wine, coffee, juices and other delicatessen. They  also offer catering and cook workshops.
» Raw Salad Company, unfortunately they’ve closed their doors in Antwerp but they promised to be back soon with a new location. The name gives it away. Raw salads galore. The salads are extremely tasty and fill you up enough to get on with your day. They also sell juices, wraps, cakes and other healthy snacks. We will keep you updated if they open a shop.
» Umami
, fine dining Japanese style. They restyled not long ago and you can eat amazing Dim Sum here. www.umami-antwerp.be

» Il Famosi, this is by far the best Italian restaurant in Antwerp. Go here for a romantic dinner and if you want more than just pizza.

food-antwerp
From left till right: Raw, Umamian and Il Famosi

Antwerp City Guide where-to-eat-in-antwerp
Bubble Waffle (source) and Divers (photo’s by David Plas)

Where To Drink Coffee?
» Mirlo’s, the coffee is great and the location is cute. They also serve breakfast and lunch and it’s all homemade. www.mirlos.be
» Buchbar, surrounded by literature and stories, this coffee bar is different than others. Owned by actress Kim Hertogs, you can feel the passion for books, women empowerment and people. Find more info about this special spot on their website.
» Butchers Coffee, located in a former butcher, this trendy coffee bar takes the coffee business serious and are planning to create their own coffee blend. If the sun is out, you can sit outside on the benches. You can find it on the Kasteelstraat 57.
» Caffenation, self blended coffee and probably the oldest one in Belgium as they started more than 13 years ago. Besides the coffee it’s also a shop and a great place to hang out. www.caffenation.be

Antwerp City Guide -mirlos
Coffee and brunch at Mirlo’s

Antwerp City Guide. The Buchbar
The Buchbar

Where to Shop & Stroll?
You have many options in Antwerp when it comes to shopping. No matter what type of person you are, there will be a shopping district that will suit your needs. We have selected 3 area’s that we love.
» Kammenstraat & Kloosterstraat, these 2 streets in South Antwerp offer vintage, exclusive boutiques, living and alternative shops. While most shops are closed on Sunday, the kloosterstraat is one of the only streets open from around 12pm.
» Het Eilandje, this is especially great during summer because you can find a lot of outside patio’s here. Worth mentioning is the MAS Museum where they have many exhibitions on display. The museum is set next to the little harbor and owns a large rooftop which has free entrance.
» The Meir, this is Antwerp’s highstreet. Although it’s not our favorite place to shop, we need to mention it because here you will find all the shops you need. From Zara, Mango, Levi’s, it’s all here. The street is beautiful but always busy. Watch your purse and don’t stay too long!

MAS Antwerp
The MAS Museum at “Het Eilandje”. Source

Where To Sleep?
Somehow we always end up in the same hotels. Never change a winning team! These are our 2 favorite places to stay.

» Hotel Les Nuits, we love boutique hotels and this hotel is one of the cutest ones out there! All 21 rooms are designed a bit different but have the same style and feature impressive en-suites. They have recently changed their reception area and removed their suites rooms which is a shame because I really loved those but this way the hotel is more compact and fits better together. Breakfast is great and the location is great! Book a room here!

Antwerp City Guide. Elke in Hotel Les Nuits
Breakfast in bed at Hotel Les Nuits

» Banks, another great hotel at a very central location. It’s modern and a great place to meet people downstairs. Oh, and they also have a rooftop terrace so this is a great option during the summer. Then again, you will be out exploring Antwerp..;-) Book your stay here.

So are you planning your next tip to Antwerp yet? ;-) 

Love,

Wander-Lust