Aruba wasn’t necessarily on my bucket list. But we were going to Colombia for the Christmas holidays, and decided we wanted an easy, idyllic beach destination for the last days of our trip… and the flights and hotels happened to work out well. Aruba, a little overseas territory of the Netherlands nicknamed “one happy island”, turned out to be exactly what we needed and much more!Continue reading “So many cool things to do in Aruba”
- Hiking all of Petra… and marveling at the Treasury at night
NICE TO HAVE:
- Bedouin camp in the Wadi Rum desert
- Floating in the Dead Sea
- The Roman ruins of Jerash
- The Crusader Kerak Castle
- 5 days
- Ferry from Sharm el Sheikk (Egypt)
- Buses / public shuttles if you can make the schedule work…
- … Otherwise private drivers / taxi for Aqaba – Wadi Rum, Wadi Rum – Wadi Musa (Petra), Wadi Musa – Dead Sea, Dead Sea – Amman (airport)
- Organized tour in Wadi Rum
- Hiking on your own in Petra
Maybe we should have done a bit of research before deciding to go to Jordan over Christmas. Or at least think about it for a minute, and we would have realized that the desert in the middle of the winter is bitter cold. But maybe it was blissful ignorance, because a couple of days later I’ve pretty much forgotten how cold we were, and we still managed to do everything we intended to 😉
- The pyramids of Giza
- The temples and tombs around Luxor
- Diving in the Red Sea, especially the Thistlegorm wreck
Egypt is a classic diving destination, maybe not as epic as Australia or Malaysia, but probably on par with Indonesia or Belize. And the best way to enjoy it, like all these, is on a liveaboard. We did the King Snefro 3-day trip and it was fantastic!
A cruise on the river Nile between Luxor and Aswan, stopping in several ancient sites, is a classic in any Egypt itinerary. We arrived in Luxor on a fairly comfortable overnight train from Cairo, and embarked on a 4-day cruise southbound. The word cruise is a bit of a misnomer, since these it’s rather floating hotels; all the boats do the same itinerary, and travelers from different groups get on them for sleep, food and the limited transit that actually occurs on the river, and are picked up by their respective guides at each stop. We got a pretty good deal through Imperial Egypt ($360 all inclusive); our guide was fantastic and private (absolutely recommended to really immerse yourself in the culture and history), while the boat we were put on, the Liberty, and the food on board were quite crappy. Below a quick recount of the places we visited.
- Waitomo glowworms
- Tongariro Crossing hike
- Abel Tasman beaches and hike
- Cook National Park hike and the views from Lake Pukaki
- Road trip, and stop in so many great spots: lush hills in the North Island, Huka Falls, Punakaiki pancake rocks, Blue Pools, Lake Tekapo, etc.
And just like that, after 10 unbelievable days driving across New Zealand, we were entering the final leg of our trip: Queenstown and Milford Sound. For this part, we were going to meet up with an old Spanish friend of mine and her kiwi husband, making it extra special!
New Zealand is simply spectacular, even just driving between the top spots you get to see so many breathtaking landscapes. After hiking in Abel Tasman, and sleeping in Nelson one last night, we picked up a rental car and hit the road down the South Island’s west coast for a couple of days. These are the places we stopped at along the way:
We had wrapped up the North Island on a very high note with the Tongariro Crossing, and after a short flight from Wellington to Nelson, were ready to kick off the South Island with another epic hike: the Abel Tasman Coast Track. We had originally planned to do 3 days / 2 nights from Marahau to Totaranui, but the weather forecast for our first day was so terrible, that we shortened it to 2 days / 1 night. We spent the extra day in Nelson, chilling and preparing for the hike, and we were very glad we did so, because: (1) all the hikers we met who had been in the park that day were soaking wet and miserable, and (2) we were able to arrange the perfect logistics.