How To Decrease Your Ecological Footprint While You Travel

Nowadays, there is so much written about the negative environmental impact of traveling that it almost seems impossible to buy a plane ticket without experiencing any form of guilt. The current growth and way of traveling is simply not long lasting and we’re facing a conflict between wanting to travel but not wanting to harm the planet. Yet -being a traveler by heart- I’ll be the last person on this (still) beautiful planet to discourage you to jump on that plane towards your next new adventure. In fact, I’m telling you exactly what you do want to hear. Go explore the planet, travel the globe and visit the places of your dreams, but we’ll have to make some changes. Cause while we’re all focusing on that perfect world on our Instagram feed, the real world is slowly drowning in our love for her beauty.

sustainable travel

Sustainable travel
One of those changes is putting sustainability on your holiday checklist. It’s the new IT-word that everybody talks about, but what exactly does it mean? I’ll teach you: Sustainability / Noun / [suh-stey-nuh-bil-i-tee] – the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance. Well, that’s what the dictionary says. To me, sustainable travel is being mindful to the economic, environmental, and cultural impact of travel. So it doesn’t necessarily mean we all have to stop traveling around the globe. By not traveling we will actually create far more severe complications. Many countries depend on tourism as a main source of income. Closing the borders will delay the spread of knowledge, economic opportunities and of course… shutting down the money flow.

It’s about making some smarter decisions that will allow earth to slowly recover to their original ecosystem. So let’s put the money where the mouth is: hereby I provide you with an easy to use guidebook to decrease your own ecological footprint.

Traveling
Choose your way of travel consciously. There are thousands of articles on how to travel cheap and comfortable, but (please) put sustainability on your check-list as well.
Paradise might be closer than you think. We go on 15 hours flights to discover the world while we haven’t even discovered our own country. Find a balance between traveling far and staying closer to home. There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist in your own country. In fact, I promise you it will be more fun than you think.
Calculate the Carbon Footprint of your Flight. Living in the Netherlands, I can understand that it’s sometimes unavoidable to travel further away. Although I love our small, flat, cow-country, it would be pretty difficult to climb mountains here… not to mention getting a tan. But if you can’t stop the urge to fly, you ca compensate by paying for your CO2. Calculate how much you use via this website. Also make sure you book your flights with an airline that recycles waste from food, beverages and paper.

At your destination
Support the community you’re visiting by purchasing products from local suppliers. It’s better for the environment, supports the economy and it’s a great way to meet locals.
Combine sightseeing with a workout: rent a bike or walk instead of hiring a car. The advantages are that you can stop whenever you want to take photo’s of the beautiful surroundings (or just a selfie cause the light is great). But moreover, you’ll work on your own health and the health of the globe.
Go for an Eco accommodation. You can choose your hotel that gives you the chance to offset your carbon footprint when you make a booking. By choosing an Eco Resort, you also contribute to the local community. Organisations like Better Places make this possible. By the way, did you know trees can be planted with your donated money for example? 
Mi casa es tu casa. Treat your hotel room like it’s your own house: turn the lights and air conditioning off while leave your room.

how to decrease your ecological footprint

Just as you explore the world, explore which of these guidelines work for you. They are all small steps, but small steps in de good direction. Combine them with your own ideas on how to decrease your ecological footprint and be mindful of your journey. Cause in the end we all want the same thing: make a contribution to a better world.

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 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

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Mirror mirror on the wall..

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The Sunset at the Salt Flats is something else..

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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

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Lagoon Onda

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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

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Sol de Mañana” geysers

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Sunset at the geysers

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The natural hot-springs 

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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

6 Reasons To Still Love Thailand

Thailand. Once a tropical and far away destination but nowadays, more than ever, a super touristic country where real adventure and authenticity seem to be disappearing and mass tourism seems to be taking over. Some travelers don’t even bother going to Thailand any more, but for me, even after three times, it is still one of my favorite Southeast Asian countries. Why? I’ll give you 6 reasons why to still love Thailand.

1. The People.
Thailand is known as the land of the smile and even though ginormous amounts of tourists have found their way to the land once known as Siam, the Thai people still remain friendly. Of course you have the general exceptions such as the merchants on Khao San Road who don’t even let you try something before buying it, but the (big!) majority of Thai people I met remain respectful, friendly, humble and do everything with a big smile.

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Bangkok

2. The Food.
Okay, this one is a SUPER big cliché, but so true! I tried fresh Spring Rolls in Vietnam, ate Khmer Amok in Cambodia and love a portion of Indonesian Gado Gado, but, let’s be honest, nothing beats a Pad Thai. Thai food is so versatile, so full of flavor and even as a vegetarian you are treated to mouthwatering dishes day after day after day. And yes, food is definitely a reason for me to go to a country and that’s why I love Thailand ;)

3. The convenience.
Traveling around Thailand is easy. Did I say easy? It is super easy! Every hostel has a travel desk and in every town you’ll find heaps of travel agencies. Whether you take the bus, boat, minivan and TukTuk, everything is well planned out and you’ll always arrive on your destination. Flying is sometimes even cheaper than the train or bus (you can, for instance, fly from Bangkok to Krabi for 20 Euros) and vehicles like minivans are often of good quality. Believe me, if you’ve seen what I traveled with in countries like Cambodia you’ll never complain about a Thai minivan again…

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Traveling through Thailand by boat

4. The Islands.
There are so many islands in Thailand that you could easily stay for 2 months, and there is something for everyone. If you like to go partying you go to Koh Phi Phi or Koh Phangan, if you want to relax I’d recommend Koh Lanta (check our tips on Koh Lanta), if you want to get your PADI or want to go snorkeling then Koh Tao is the place to be and if you’re looking for something different then Koh Chang is where you should set sail to. And what all the islands have in common: they are beautiful.

Krabi, Love Thailand

5. The Temples.
What can I say? I love temples, and Thailand has many of them. Some people say that “after you’ve seen one temple you’ve seen them all” but I strongly disagree, especially in Thailand. In Bangkok you can’t miss the reclining Buddha and Wat Arun, whereas in Chiang Mai Doi Suthep is a definite must-go-to. But also walking into the smaller, less well-known temples that aren’t mentioned in travel guides like the lonely planet are worth wandering around.

6. The Sunsets
Yes, there are pretty sunsets everywhere, but the last few I saw during my most recent visit to Thailand were out of this world. Whether you’re in a busy metropole like Bangkok or chilling on an island, Mother Nature will treat you to some of her best sunsets ever. Order a cold Chang, get comfortable and watch the day turn into night.

Sunsets in Krabi Thailand,
Sunsets like no other

I could go on about the weather, the parties, the adventure, how the Thai people speak English and so on but I think I made my point about why I love Thailand: this country is still more than worth visiting. Enjoy! 

Love,

Evelien

*Evelien is one of our guest bloggers who currently travels and lives in Australia. Follow her on Instagram (@eefexplores) or check out her website!

The Wanderlust of.. a Travel Journalist

She has traveled to a stagering 99 countries so far and is going to hit the 100 mark very soon. Sleeping at the most amazing locations, tasting a different cuisine each month and writing about travel in it’s most diverse way. It’s the life of a digital nomad. This is the Wanderlust of Travel Journalist Yvette Bax.

Hi Yvette, tell our readers a little bit about yourself and what you do?
“I am a freelance travel journalist. I write for (mostly Dutch) newspapers en magazines and I travel all year round. You could say I live my life as a so called ‘digital nomad’. My two bases are Cape Town and Amsterdam.”

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Overlooking the Gocta Waterfall in Northern Peru

One of my favorite press trips I have ever done is driving on a snow scooter from Finland to Russia.

For your uber cool job, you travel to the most amazing places. We can’t help but ask; what has been your favorite destination so far?
“Ufff, that’s a tough one. I like several destinations for different reasons. I absolutely love South Africa and Argentina, as they are my second and third home. (As I live part time in Cape Town and have lived in Buenos Aires before.) I love Africa and South America in general: because the people are very warm and open there. Vibrant cultures, very social, with music, sun and laughter. Furthermore I love Japan for being it’s own crazy little planet, the Philippines for the nature and the cute tarsiers with their funny faces that live there. One of my favorite press trips I have ever done is driving on a snow scooter from Finland to Russia. Driving over frozen lakes, on top of meters of snow where I could only see tree tops popping out: truly stunning. Furthermore I love the orange and red dunes of Namibia, the jungle of the Amazon and the roughness of New Zealand..I could go on and on.”

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Yvette at Machu Pichhu, Peru

And what has been the biggest disappointment?
“The biggest disappointment… Well, I was a bit disappointed about the northern part of Java. I did not like the city of Jakarta much: it was very dirty, polluted and full of traffic jams. Not many pretty things for sightseeing either. But maybe if I would have spent more time there I would have discovered more beauty, who knows. But I loved the southern part of Java and the other islands of Indonesia, as Lombok and Sulawesi especially.”

Have you always been traveler and how did this come about?
“I always loved to travel and whenever I could I did. My first big trip on my own was my trip to Cuba, which was a very special experience. I went for 3 weeks and ended up staying three months. That became the story of my life: always staying much longer than planned. I like to spend a lot of time on one destination: to really get to know a place and its people and culture well: to see it from the inside. I spent several months in Mexico, have lived and studied in Surinam, and Argentina where I went to stay for two months but ended up living one year. And now Cape Town is basically my home, where I spent most of my time since the last three years. Although ‘most of my time’ isn’t a lot since I mostly travel non-stop for my work.”

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Yvette’s gang in South Africa. Photo by Binniam Eskender

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Yvette on top of Table Mountain at her second home South Africa. Photo by Binniam Eskender

Do you find it’s hard to settle back home sometimes, because you’re away so often?
“Yes, it’s very difficult. I don’t even really know where ‘home’ is anymore. I guess it is Cape Town, since I spend most of my time here. So I am used to living in different places, always getting to know new people and other new places. It’s a very hectic, intense and crazy life. But I love it. Sometimes it feels as if I am living in a dream: all the most beautiful spots I get to visit.The amazing and interesting people from all over the world I get to meet. I am making a living out of my two biggest hobbies: travelling and writing. I realize every day how lucky I am, I soak in every moment to enjoy it to the fullest and feel very grateful for all this. But obviously it has it’s downsides too: my last two relationships did not last because of the long distance. And I also do miss my friends and family back in the Netherlands, but we video-Whatsapp call a lot, and my parents also came to visit me here in Cape Town last January, that was very special. And my sisters, parents and quite a few friends also came to visit me when I was living in Argentina.”

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Some of Yvette’s workspots in Australia, South Africa and Fiji

They once gave me a 80 square meter suite in the Lebua State Tower in Bangkok, on the top floor with 4 huge balconies, right below one of the most famous roof top bars in the world.

Could you tip our readers with some of your favorite restaurants or accommodations around the world?
“I love the Tsim Sha Tsui fine dining restaurant in Hong Kong: on the 30th floor with an amazing view over the city and the harbor. The cocktails of the Eyebar on the same floor are exquisite too. My favorite food cities in the world are Hong Kong, Berlin and Cape Town, you have to really do your best to find shitty food there.”

“In Thailand they once gave me a 80 square meter suite in the Lebua State Tower in Bangkok, on the 60th-plus-something floor with 4 huge balconies, right below one of the most famous roof top bars in the world. That was pretty amazing. But in the end I would prefer a cute little lodge in the middle of the nature anytime over such luxury: a week later I stayed in a so called ‘floating rainforest camp’, in a tent floating on a lake in a nature reserve in the south of Thailand. More basic but with a priceless view.”

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The impressive view at Eyebar in Hong Kong Souce

 “I absolutely love the Ngong House hotel, just outside of Nairobi, Kenya. It’s a tree house hotel with beautiful views on the famous Ngong Hills (from the book/movie Out of Africa), in a very cozy and intimate setting. In Cape Town my favorite hotel is Cape View Clifton: a small boutique hotel with and infinity pool and incredible views over the Clifton beaches. Bush camping at the Okavango Delta in Botswana with wild animals walking besides your tent is stunning and fun too. Unless you have to pee in the middle of the night, haha.”

Sounds amazing, we should check those out! As a journalist, you must have written a lot of pieces. Which articles are you most proud of and why?
“I like the articles I have written on South Africa and Argentina best, because I think you really can feel the love I have for those places when reading it. And obviously the articles of places I know in and out are the best, because I have a deeper and better perspective of what is going on, so I can share more than just some superficial ‘hotspot’ information.”

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Traveling can take up a lot time, do you listen to a lot of music and if so, what can we definitely find on your travel playlist?
“For quiet times I love listening to soul music and jazz. For dancing I like to listen to deephouse – especially the funky deephouse with African beats that they play here. I also love salsa, samba, reggae and old skool Motown music.”

As what kind of traveler would you consider yourself? (Luxury, backpacker, adventurer etc.)
“All in one.”

And finally; what will be your hundred destination?
“Seychelles or India. Can’t wait!”

Wow, we’re not jealous at all! ;-) 

Love,

Wander-Lust

Check out Yvette’s website or Instagram where you can follow her adventures!

Bali must do’s for first timers

In my previous blog, I highlighted some sights you should visit in Java. Even though Java is beautiful, I think an even more special place in Indonesia is Bali. Bali is quite a popular destination and once you visited this island you’ll understand why. While in most of Indonesia, Islam is the main religion, in Bali most people are Hinduists. You’ll see Hindu temples everywhere. But these are not the only interesting sights. Here’s are some Bali must do’s if you’re visiting the island for the first time.

Ubud
Ubud is the cultural hart of Bali. It has a lovely center with nice bars and restaurants. It has quite a spiritual vibe with all its great temples. The most impressive one is Gunung Kawi, an 11th-century temple complex spread across both sides of the Pakerisan river. It comprises 10 shrines that are carved into seven (!) metre high sheltered niches on each side. Once you move away from the center, Ubud also has beautiful surroundings, you can walk for example to Campuang Ridge and see beautiful rice fields.

Bike downhill from Mount Batur
This is a spectacular tour which starts in Ubud, from where you’ll drive to Penelokan, which is right next to Mount Batur. You’ll have breakfast overlooking this impressive, active, volcano and its crater lake. After this great start, you will bike downhill back to Ubud. Along the way, you’ll see little villages and visit a coffee plantation, typical Balinese houses and the well-known rice fields.

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Breakfast with a view

Dive in Amed
If you like diving, Amed is the place to be in Bali. There are lots of different dive schools that all offer PADI or SSI courses, or just regular dive trips in case you are already certified. One of the most memorable dive spots is Manta Point, close to Nuusa Lembongan. It takes some time to get there and it’s therefore also quite a pricy dive, but it will be well worth once you see massive – up to 6 metres wide – Manta’s under water. 

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It is called Manta Point for a reason!

Relax at the Gili’s
The Gili’s do not really belong to Bali, but they are the perfect getaway with their white beaches, clear blue water and amazing sunsets. You can easily get there by boat from Padang Bay. Gili Trawangan is the biggest island and mostly known for its parties. Gili Air is a bit smaller but it has a great atmosphere and is very vibrant with all the restaurants along the beach where you can eat sea food that just came out of the ocean. And if you really want some relax time the smallest Gili Meno is the place to be. All islands are home to an impressive underwater world and snorkeling or diving are great activities here. Find more info about the Gili islands here.

There you have it, just a little guide into Bali must do’s for first timers. And I’m sure there will be a second time very soon after!

Love,

Dionne

*Dionne is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands, currently living in Den Bosch. In everyday life she works as a marketing-communications professional. She loves to travel to distant destinations, but she also enjoys a city trip closer to home.

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!


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Kayaking at Abel Tasman National Park

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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/

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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.

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Queenstown

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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.

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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!

How to avoid the crowds at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is undoubtedly Cambodia’s biggest tourist attraction. And this is no surprise since Angkor Wat is the biggest religious monument in the world which dates back to the early twelfth century. These days almost 5 million tourists yearly make their way over to Cambodia to wander around the temples of Angkor themselves, making it a very popular but very busy place to visit. You better think again if you ever dream of having these temples all to yourself, but there are a few tricks to avoid the big crowds and wander around in peace…

1. Watch the sunrise and leave a little early
Watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat is a definite must-do when you’re visiting these temples. Not only is it a truly magical experience when a new day presents itself by rising up against the temples, but it is also a great way to arrive at the temples early. If you want to have a good spot without hundreds of iPad and Selfiestick waving Chinese tourists in front of you, walk right instead of going straight ahead at the famous ‘sunrise temple spot’. You won’t be right in front of the temples, but you will share the view with just a dozen of other tourists. When the sun is up and you captured enough Instagram-worthy shots, head back to your Tuk Tuk driver before everybody else does. Doing this you’ll arrive at the other temples as one of the first, having the temples (almost) all to yourself :)

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

2. The further away, the better!
Ask your Tuk Tuk driver to bring you to the popular temples that are further away first. Many Tuk Tuk’s and tour buses follow a certain route, creating the perfect opportunity for you to do the exact opposite thing :) Also, if you see tons of big tour buses standing outside of a temple, ask your Tuk Tuk driver to take you to another temple which appears to be less crowded first.

no crowds at ankor-wat

3. Go back at the end of the day
Wandering around the temples of Angkor is extremely beautiful, but also extremely tiring and HOT! If you decided to watch the sunrise you will probably feel very tired around 12pm, making you want to go home and take a nap during the hottest hours of the day. If you buy a one-day-pass this pass is valid for a whole day, so you can come back to the temples in the late afternoon, when most of the crowds already have disappeared. Make sure you don’t go too late as Angkor Wat closes at 6pm.

Angkor Wat takes you back in time

I hope the three tips above will help you explore this ancient Kingdom in peace and quiet. Enjoy :)

Love,

Evelien

*Evelien is one of our guest bloggers who currently travels and lives in Australia. Follow her on Instagram (@eefexplores) or check out her website!

Did you know Cambodia is one of the world’s cheapest countries to live in? Check which countries made it to the top 5!

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Support the human rights of women in Bolivia

At Wander-Lust we get to travel to the most amazing places and experience various cool press trips. But life is not all about Instagram pictures by the pool. At Wander-Lust it’s also about giving back. To mother nature, to society and to the countries we visit.

Giving back is key! 
One of our first charity projects will be in Bolivia. On the 2nd of March,
Wander-Lusty Sarah will be joined by Fat Kids Cake Co-founder and photographer Ilsoo van Dijk for a charity project in Bolivia. This project, by the organization “Mensen met een missie” supports the human rights of women in Bolivia. We need your support too!

mensenmeteenmissie

Violence against women is becoming a huge problem in the Bolivian society. Seven out of ten women are dealing with physical or sexual abuse. Although Bolivia implemented a law back in 2012 that has to protect women from violence, in practice there is not much of a change. “Mensen met een Missie” from the Netherlands supports young people and victims in Bolivia.  They offer psychological, social and legal support for victims and they lobby actively at both local and national authorities.

We will travel around Bolivia for 2.5 weeks  to see how they work and to talk to the victims. We will write about our experiences during this trip and we will share our stories with you in the hope that also you will subscribe some day as volunteer or donate money to support “Mensen Met een Missie”.

We made a video with our friends!

Video by: Laurens Smit

To find more information about this project or to make a donation, please click here

Thank you!

(S.O. too everyone who helped us!)

Love,

Wander-Lust

4 Recommendations On Beautiful Java

Java is the most populated island of Indonesia and it has a great deal of sights which are worth a visit. You can easily travel the whole island by train, if you have the time off course, because the length of the island is about 1000 km so it does take you quite a few hours to get across. These are some of the sights I would recommend visiting:

The Dutch Jakarta
Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia with about 9,6 million citizens. A lot of people say Jakarta is too crowded, dirty (because of the smog), hot and therefore not necessarily worth a visit. But I like to think otherwise. Yes, it’s crowded and chaotic, but once you get used to that you will see this city has some great things to offer. Especially when you are interested in some (Dutch) history, Jakarta is an interesting metropolis. You can still see the Dutch influence for example in the buildings on Taman Fatahilla square. In the Jakarta History Museum you can get a glance of live in the earlier Dutch East Indies.

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Inpressive Prambanan

When you are interested in some (Dutch) history, Jakarta is an interesting metropolis.

Borobudur
Borobudur is one of the most famous sights of Indonesia. Yes, it’s full of tourists, but since it’s the largest Buddhist temple in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you cannot skip a visit. The temple is designed as a mandala and has nine platforms in total, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome. The temple represents the Buddhist cosmos. Next to a lot of tourists, the temple is also visited by many pilgrims. A pilgrim must walk every platform 7 times, clockwise and from bottom to top. This way, he or she will reach Nirvana; an ultimate state of soteriological release and liberation from rebirths.

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Highest platform of the famous Borobudur

Prambanan
Prambanan is probably just as famous as Borobudur, but this sight belongs to a completely different religion. It’s the largest Hindu temple of Indonesia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The compound consists of more than 200 temples, but the three main ones are the Trimurti temples; the largest one (47 metres) is dedicated to Shiva, God of Destruction. The two temples next to this one are dedicated to Brahma, God of Creation and Vishnu, God of Preservation. Like Borobudur, visitors should officially enter each temple from the east side and circumambulate clockwise.

The Ijen Volcano
While a lot of people visit Mount Bromo, the most famous volcano of Java, I decided to visit another volcano during our holiday in Indonesia; Ijen. Ijen is one of the few volcano’s with a crater lake. This lake contains a huge amount of sulfur, which supports a mining operation. Miners walk down the crater about twice a day to load the sulfur in baskets and carry it up to the crater rim and down the mountain by hand. This is a very labour-intensive operation, not to mention a very smelly one. When visiting the Ijen volcano, you should wear old, very old clothes. Even after washing them for about 10 times, I could still smell the sulfur! But you will see this is all worth it when you climbed Ijen and are standing at the crater rim and see the sunrise or sunset. The view is just indescribably amazing. And if you have the guts, you can even walk down the crater when it’s dark and see the so-called blue fire, which actually is ignited sulfuric gas.

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Sunset at the top of Ijen, Java

In my next blog, I will continue my trip through Indonesia and give some insights in the interesting culture of Bali.

Love,

Dionne

*Dionne is one of our guest bloggers from the Netherlands, currently living in Den Bosch. In everyday life she works as a marketing-communications professional. She loves to travel to distant destinations, but she also enjoys a city trip closer to home.

How To Spend An Entire Day In Central Park Without Getting Bored

Central Park is the heart of New York City and the very first public park built in the United States. The thing I love most about it is that even though it is one of the biggest attractions in the city, it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly touristy like some other places. It is a beautiful and peaceful place to visit where you are able to quietly relax and enjoy being outside while taking in the melting pot of diversity that is New York City. Everywhere you turn you see people from all over the world speaking different languages and exploring everything the park has to offer.

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I recently realized that there are so many places throughout Central Park that I’ve never ventured into. Stretching over more than 840 acres, it’s decorated with sculptures, monuments, and fountains that pay tribute to literary characters, famous explorers, and artists. Knowing that I have the park to visit whenever I want, I’ve gotten into the bad habit of entering through the same entrance and walking around the same areas over and over again. So I decided to spend the day walking the park from top to bottom to take note of my favorite locations. It can be an unexpectedly overwhelming place if you are unsure how to navigate your way around or what exactly it is you’re looking for.

Central Park New York

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Central Park never get’s boring

Here’s a list of a few of the best attractions to visit when taking a stroll through the heart of New York City:

The Loch
A series of cute waterfalls and bridges that make you forget that you’re in Manhattan and give you a feeling as if you’ve transported to an enchanted forest. Location: North West corner of the park, just above the W 103rd St. entrance.

Central Park

Belvedere Castle
A small, beautiful castle that makes you quickly notice the contrast between the park and the modern city surrounding it. A great spot for photos!
Location: 79th Street in the middle of the park – Between the Museum of Natural History (west side) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (east side).

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Shakespeare Garden
One of the top spots for NYC weddings and a great place for photos. It’s best in the spring or summertime when the flowers are in bloom and contains interesting monuments from some of Shakespeare’s plays. Location: Right next to the Belvedere Castle. For more info check the official website.

The Boathouse
A great restaurant overlooking the lake. Spring for a lunch here if you’re feeling ~lavi$h~.Location: East side of the park, north of the 72nd st entrance.

The Boathouse Central Park

Alice in Wonderland Statue
Every kid’s favorite part of the park as it’s a large statue that’s easy to climb. This is also a good midway point in the park with a large seating area for you to rest your feet for awhile. Location: slightly West of the boathouse.

Alice in Wonderland statue Central Park

Bethesda Terrace & Fountain
A familiar spot as it is the filming location for many movies. It’s a great place to sit and people watch with many tourists and street performers visiting. The architecture is also great for photos! Location: Center of the park, 72nd street.

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The impressive Bethesda Terrace

The Mall & Literary Walk
A row of American elm trees that line the parks wide pedestrian path. Perhaps one of the most photographed features of the park. There is also a statue of Christopher Columbus along with 4 other prominent writers. Location: A long path that leads from Bethesda Terrace down to the south end of the park, leading down toward the 59th street exit.

Central Park New York

Central Park’s designers had a simple goal: to create a place where city dwellers could go to forget the city. A combination escape hatch and exercise yard, Central Park is an urbanized Eden that gives both locals and tourists a different taste of one of the world’s greatest cities. Even though New York eventually grew much taller than the trees planted to hide it, the park is still a place to find peace and solace in an otherwise high-strung and, at times, overwhelming city. Without Central Park’s winding paths, tranquil lakes, ponds, and open meadows, New Yorkers (especially Manhattanites) might be a lot less sane.

Love,

Casey

*Casey is one of our guest bloggers from New York. She’s a 25 year old that grew up in Long Island NY. After graduating college, she moved into NYC and took a job in marketing. She and her large friend group of about 9 girls are all about trying out trendy restaurants and keeping busy with all this amazing city has to offer. She also has her own personal blog, Adolescent Adulthood. She will publish an article every start of the month.