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Facing my Fears – Caving in Budapest

I am petrified of being in confined spaces. Cole knows this, but he still insisted we go caving in Budapest to face my fears. It was a terrible idea.

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Cole caving in Budapest

The idea of caving in Budapest is akin to my kind of hell. And Cole’s dream adventure.

Squeezing through chest tightening gaps 20 meters underground in the pitch black? Silence surrounding you while being covered in dirt? No thanks.

Cole caving in Budapest

I guess being claustrophobic does not really help my case but caving in Budapest was not high on my to do list. So when Cole told me that’s exactly what we were doing. I was petrified.

However, being the stubborn adventurous and competitive person I am, I wanted to overcome my fears. I smiled, nodded and told him I would be fine.

How wrong I was.

Caving in Budapest

I woke up with a deep feeling of dread in my stomach. Breakfast tasted like sandpaper. Coffee did nothing to ease the nerves, and Cole’s excitement and attempts to lighten the mood with terrible jokes about getting trapped were no help at all.

My nerves were rattling more than the ancient bus as we trundled up to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Before I knew it we were at the caves and suiting up. With every layer of protective gear I strapped on I felt more and more trapped.

Four Jandals Caving in Budapest

Putting on a brave face for the camera.

I tried to make small talk with the others on the tour but when I told them I was claustrophobic they looked at me like I was insane for coming caving. Maybe I was.

All too suddenly we were at the entrance. I had expected a big opening that would get gradually smaller so I could at least see some light coming in. Wrong again.

It was just a door. A locked door.

As I stepped through the void I started thinking maybe I can handle this.

CRASH!

The guide slammed the heavy door and locked it with a resounding clank that still haunts me in my sleep. To me it was the sound of fear. I was trapped.

Irrational thoughts flooded my mind.

What if I lose the guide and I can not get out because I don’t have a key? What if we need to get out in a hurry and we lose precious seconds while the guide unlocked the door?

As the guide went over the safety talk I gazed blankly into the darkness. I took nothing in. All I could think about was the door and my uncontrollable shaking.

Shaken out of my inner nightmares as everyone begins to move I see the guide is pointing down a 10m ladder into a hole no larger than 1 meter square. “I thought we were already in the caves!” I exclaim. They all laugh as he confirms that is exactly where we are going.

It was the last straw. I had to get out.

Backing away I grab hold of Cole’s sleeve. He has already noticed my anxiousness though and is hurrying me out with the guide close behind.

With every step towards the door my stress levels lowered.

I cannot explain how good it felt to walk out of that cave.

I gulped fresh air as relief, happiness and freedom washed over me.

As quick as it had begun my caving experience was over.

For Cole it was just beginning as he left me with my eBook on the surface 2 hours as soon as I was free! Can’t say I blame him.

Caving in Budapest

Extra Travel Information:

Try caving in Budapest with the awesome guides at Caving Under Budapest.

Fly to Budapest easily from pretty much anywhere in Europe with Jet2.com and we recommend staying at Marco Polo Hostel as they are quiet and have a brilliant breakfast buffer.

This is a post from a series called Facing my Fears. It helps us to step outside our comfort zone, in comfort. Check out the rest of the series here.

Disclaimer: We were invited to step out of our comfort zone by the Visit Hungary Tourism Board for our trip to Budapest. As always our thoughts, recommendations and fears are always our own.

Adela is one half of the New Zealand Adventure Couple who have been travelling since 2009. She loves the outdoors and has a real passion for Snowboarding, Mountain Biking and Surfing (apart from being scared of sharks). She loves food and writes all our food posts. Consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Laurence

    September 7, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    You know, sometimes we just need to say no to things. You totally made the right decision here – I’m actually amazed you made it inside 😉 I can’t imagine how scary that would be if you suffer from claustrophobia!

  2. Tom @ Waegook Tom

    September 7, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    Adela, I totally sympathise with you here. I freaked out when I was almost at the top of a mountain (I have a terrible phobia of heights) and had to sit down and wait while my partner and his family made the last bit up to the top. I felt sooooo relieved when I realised that nobody was forcing me to do anything that I didn’t want to do.

    Also I LOVE your facial expression before going in the cave, it is priceless haha!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 6:04 PM

      Cole hates heights too Tom so at least I have him beaten there haha. I am just lucky he didn’t mind going on without me.

  3. Ele

    September 7, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Bookmarked both the post and service provider. That’s the Budapest I want to see.

  4. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    September 8, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    We’re proud of you! At least you tried. Caves aren’t my favorite thing in the world either and I’ve never been in one with a locked door which is just extra creepy. Maybe try a doorless cave next time…

  5. Arti

    September 8, 2012 at 3:44 PM

    I would have the exact same feelings as you had before you set out on your adventure. The photos are wonderful, give a feeling as if I was down there in the dark space with you!!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 6:03 PM

      Thanks Arti 🙂 It was lucky Cole continued on so that we could get the photos haha.

  6. bronwen burmester

    September 9, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    Great post Adela and neat phtos and I would have been just like you adela, brave Cole….but not me!

  7. Mike

    September 9, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    You don’t look afraid on the pictures. You were really having fun and overcoming your fears. Congratulations to you Cole.

  8. Jess | GlobetrotterGirls

    September 10, 2012 at 5:21 AM

    I totally get this. I never knew I had a fear of caving until I was deep inside of one! Turns out, I’m claustrophobic! I’ve done some caving since, but I know all that build-up dread. Good on you!

  9. D.J. - The World of Deej

    September 11, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Totally feel you on this one…I hate the dark and enclosed spaces…You made it further than I would have!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:40 PM

      We can hang out on the surface next time then D.J. 🙂

  10. Suzy

    September 12, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    Wow – good for you for even tryng! It looks like Cole had a great time, though. Caving isn’t the first thing I’d think of when I think of Budapest. That’s why travel blogs are so great – always new ideas for traveler! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      September 13, 2012 at 4:45 PM

      We didn’t even know the caves existed until just before we went. Was such a unique experience. It is where all the hot water comes from for the hot baths.

  11. Callie

    September 13, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    That sounds scary! No shame in sticking to the surface 🙂 I hear you – I went with a group to rappel down a waterfall in Ecuador once and backed out once I was all strapped in and literally hanging over the ledge. The guide had to pull me back up as everyone was watching…

    • Cole Burmester

      September 14, 2012 at 3:37 PM

      The rappling sounds awesome (sort of). I might freak out because I hate heights haha.

  12. Ali

    September 15, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Caves are NOT my thing at all. I didn’t realize it until recently, but I don’t like the enclosed spaces and extreme darkness. Doesn’t help that I whacked my head on the stone when I was in there.

    • Adela

      September 15, 2012 at 12:20 PM

      Ali I totally know where you are coming from – I can not think of anything worse than enclosed spaces and extreme darkness. Some of us are just not meant for caving

  13. Nat

    September 16, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    I would be exactly the same, I don’t think I could have even gone through the door. Looking at the photos too things certainly did seem to become tight. I notice Cole is wearing a GoPro. Have you managed to edit the video? It would be great to see 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      September 17, 2012 at 9:37 AM

      The video is quite grainy actually. Need to learn a few more editing techniques rather than just using Windows Live Movie maker. We have had ours for a while and do love it. Just need to use it more. Going to check out your review now.

  14. Jemma

    September 17, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Awwww you can totally see the fear in your eyes in that picture! Well done for having the guts to turn back, I think having the guts to do that is commendable. Caving is my worst nightmare too, can’t think of anything worse than being in a tight tunnel like that. Just thinking about it gives me the heebie jeebies, so kudos to you for even suiting up. If my boyfriend suggested it to me I’d tell him to go play in traffic! 🙂

  15. emma@greenglobaltravel

    September 18, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Well done you for trying anyway! A lot of people wouldn’t have done even that much.

  16. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    September 20, 2012 at 12:40 AM

    I’ve seen the movie The Descent and could never ever do this.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 28, 2012 at 6:17 PM

      Haha we luckily didn’t encounter any flesh-eating monsters 🙂

  17. Adrian

    September 26, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    I would say, This was one of the awesome adventurers you had. I can understand how terrible it was for you but that’s the real taste of life.

    • Cole Burmester

      September 30, 2012 at 5:22 PM

      Pushing yourself past your own limits is what makes life so interesting!

  18. Trudy

    October 30, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Wow. Love your face in that pic. Sounds amazing but I just don’t know if I could do it. You are awesome for trying!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:43 AM

      Adela gave it a good go! The problem was the slamming of the door. But at least she decided to stop at the start and not halfway through when we were crawling on our bellies 🙂

  19. Craig Makepeace

    March 1, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Yeah, this freaks me out! I could never work in an underground mine or anything. Let me see light 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      March 1, 2013 at 4:42 PM

      It was an awesome experience Craig! Well for me, Adela not so much haha.

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Adventure Travel

Tips for Planning Your Uluru Tour

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Located in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the magnificent sandstone of Ayers Rock or Uluru stands tall at 1,142 feet above ground. The natural formation is widely known for being one of the most sacred places to the indigineous peoples in Australia. At the same time, it is also popular for attracting tourists from all over the world to the land down under.

If you want to visit Uluru in order to pay tribute to this wonder of nature, then doing so through the right tour is in your best interest. It’s not only because Uluru is located at least a few hours from civilization, but it also because such a tour allows you to enjoy the picturesque sights that come along the way within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

So what sights are there to see along the way and what other general tours suggestions you should keep in mind while visiting Uluru? To help you answer these and some other important questions, here are 5 top tips to keep in mind while visiting Uluru.

Don’t Climb the Monolith

First things first, while it is legal to climb atop Uluru, it is recommended that you do not attempt such an action in order to show your respect to the indigenous peoples.

It is a pretty easy rule to follow when you pay attention to the emotions of the indigenous tribes who have recommended time and again for people to not climb Uluru.

But that doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy the natural beauty that Uluru has to offer. In fact, you are encouraged to visit the sandstone and take in its natural glory by standing right beside the formation. That’s why 4WD tour is highly recommended. The tour guides would be able to tell you what you can and can not do.

Visit During Sunset

Ask anyone who has visited Uluru about the best time to see the formation, and you will instantly get the answer as “sunset.”

It’s because Uluru is not an ordinary monolith, but one that is formed through arkosic sandstone. This allows the rock to actually change its color according to the position of the sun. As a result, you can expect the formation to sport a different color depending upon what time of day you reach it.

At sunset, Uluru projects an amber glow that is surreal to take in, especially when you are seeing the formation in person for the very first time. That’s why, it is recommended that you time your trip in a way that allows you to experience this magnificent sight.

3. Take Your Time to Plan the Trip

Perhaps the best way to visit Uluru is through the nearby town of Alice Springs, which has various amenities and accommodation options for tourists who are making their way to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru can take around 5 hours, which is why it is recommended that you arrive at least a day before you are planning to tour Uluru.

This way, you can reach the national park while feeling fresh and rested. This also gives you time to plan longer trips to the park in order to enjoy all that it has to offer.

4. Take in the Sight of the Rock Art

Uluru is not just a wonder to look at by itself, but it also holds several little pieces of wonderful art within it.

The caves at the bottom of the formation hold several pieces of rock art that can only be found at Uluru. If you love learning about other cultures through their art, then this will be a must visit.

Just make sure that you take the time to learn about this art through a local tour guide or via the information provided within these exhibits. This ensures that you have an immersive and informative experience which you can remember for a long time.

5. Don’t Forget the Natural Attractions Around the Rock

Enjoying the breathtaking sight of Uluru sounds rewarding enough for a trip to the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. But it’s not all that you can do during a tour of Uluru.

From seeing the red kangaroos and other marsupials to spending some time with the camels, and from seeing the one of a kind formations of Kata Tjuta to taking a walk by the Valley of the Winds, there’s so much to see and do around Uluru.

That is why, it is recommended that you take your time at the park and put aside at least two days to enjoy all of the unique activities that the area has to offer. It would give you a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life while also allowing you to make the most out of your long journey to the sandstone.

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Adventure Travel

Best Time to Visit Panama and Costa Rica

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The fact that Costa Rica and Panama are close makes both countries perfect for visiting. During your holiday there, it’s easy to travel back and forth between the two countries and enjoy all the wonders they have to offer. Keep in mind that the timing of your holiday will influence what sorts of sites you can visit and what activities you can make part of your plans. By understanding a little about what to expect, it’s easy to determine the best time of year to visit both countries, based on what you would like to do.

Learning More About the Dry and Rainy Seasons

If you’re the type who prefers the hustle and bustle that comes with holidays during the tourist season, plan on being in Costa Rica and Panama during what’s known as the dry season. Expect plenty of sunshine and warm weather during this part of the year. Many of your activities will be outdoors, although you will find a number of indoor sites that you will want to include in your plans.

The dry seasons in both countries overlap. The dry weather for both typically arrives during the first to the middle part of December. In Costa Rica, the dry season usually lingers until sometime in April. Panama enjoys a slightly shorter dry season, with it usually ending sometime in March.

Keep in mind that since this dry period is the height of the tourist season, the cost of visiting from December to April will be higher than at other times of the year. Even so, if your plans include spending a lot of time exploring the rain forests or soaking in the rays on one or more of the beautiful beaches, the dry season is the only time to consider.

Making the Most of the Dry Seasons

During the dry season in both nations, do expect the weather to be more humid and the day temperatures to be a little higher. There is some variance depending on which regions you plan on visiting. As a general rule, locations nearer the coast will include warmer weather and higher levels of humidity. By contrast, the more mountainous areas will offer slightly cooler temperatures and lower humidity levels.

During this time, do plan on enjoying the lush greenery found in the rain forests. During much of the dry season, the abundance of rain from what’s known as the rainy or green season ensures that the forests are at their best. Consider adding some variety to your holiday by spending time at the beach, soaking in the nightlife along the coast, and doing some shopping at many of the open air districts. This is also the perfect timing to enjoy some of the local cuisine while dining outside.

There are special events to celebrate during the dry season. President’s Day in Costa Rica occurs during this period. Along with locals, you can enjoy a number of celebrations, open-air festivals, and just about any type of entertainment that one can imagine.

Since the dry season does attract more tourists, it pays to book your lodgings in advance. Along with President’s Day, there’s also spring break and the Easter Season to consider. While you could look at different hotels and other properties near beaches, there are also hostels that make perfect places to sleep. After all, how much time do you plan on spending indoors when there’s so much to do?

Things to Do During the Rainy Seasons

In spite of the name, it isn’t always raining during the rainy or green season. Most days, there will be brief periods of sunshine that do allow you to spend some time at the beach and other outdoor venues. Do expect the evenings to be cooler. At times, the temperature may make wearing long sleeves or possibly a sweater a good idea.

Even if you’re out and about while it’s raining, there are plenty of things to see. Towns and cities in both nations offer indoor concerts, a number of restaurants catering to all sorts of tastes, and clubs and other settings for entertainment. You will find museums that will tell you more about the history of indigenous peoples and the complexity of their cultures.

What are some of the activities you can enjoy during this time of year? Both Costa Rica and Panama offer options to go horseback riding. Generally, this will happen during the morning when the sun is most likely to be out. Walking tours are also a great way to learn more about the culture and possibly find some interesting places that you will want to return to a little later. Don’t overlook the opportunity to get in some fishing when there’s a sunny morning coming your way. There are changes to engage in freshwater fishing as well as charter boats that will take you to some of the better places to enjoy salt-water fishing.

Coffee and rum tours are also something to consider during the rainy season. These tours allow you the opportunity to see different facilities and how they produce their products. As a bonus, you get to enjoy some taste-testing at many of the places that you visit along the tour. Some of the sites will also have bistros or restaurants included, allowing you to enjoy a nice meal or snack with your coffee or rum.

In terms of museums to visit, San Jose offers some of the most interesting museums in Costa Rica. Many of them are located in or adjacent to what’s known as the Central Market. It’s a great way to enjoy time indoors during the rainy afternoons and early evenings.

In Panama, check out the Panama Canal Museum in Casco Viejo. You can make use of headphones that offer the guided tour in multiple languages. If you happen to be proficient in Spanish, feel free to check out each exhibit on your own. You can also check out the Biodiversity Museum, which features exhibits on the over 1,000 species of animals and plants that are found in the country. Make the most of the discounts offered on Sundays. Retirees also get to enjoy discounts when visiting these museums.

Which season is the best time to visit Costa Rica and Panama? It’s really up to you. For those who prefer a slower pace and don’t mind rain during the afternoons and evenings, the raining season is ideal. Those who thrive on activity, sunshine, and plenty of tourist activities will enjoy going during the dry season. Whatever your choice, plan on coming back a second time. It’s rare for anyone to see everything they want to see during a single holiday.

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Adventure Travel

Most Underrated Travel Destinations

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Everyone knows about Paris and Rome and London but there are so many other beautiful travel destinations that are amazingly underrated. The fact that so many beautiful countries go unexplored by travelers is a tragedy. Not only because so many people are missing out on rich cultures and picturesque views, but also because a lot of these destinations tend to be a lot cheaper to travel to than popular cities. 

A majority of Americans, when asked about traveling abroad, will likely shake their head and say they can’t afford such trips. Many people deal with multiple monthly bills, such as mortgage or rent, student loans, and title loans, which are all stress inducing. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that there are gorgeous, underrated foreign cities one can visit for a fraction of the price of touristy European cities. Forbes recently published a collection of the ten most underrated destinations you should consider visiting. 

Here are a few of them:

Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, is known for its magnificent sights of Mount Ararat, historical monasteries, and its many striking temple ruins. Armenian cuisine is other worldly with classic dishes like rabbit stew, sautéed eggplant rolls, and lamb tartare. 

Telč, Czechia

Telč is a colorful town with Italian influences in Czechia. It boasts of Baroque-Renaissance architecture and has a castle of its own with exciting tunnels and passageways that you can explore underneath the town.

Santiago, Chile

Santiago is the capital of Chile and features gorgeous architecture from the neoclassical era. There are towering cathedrals and, of course, plenty of quality Chilean wine. Plus, the city of Santiago is a great place to kick off your exploration of Chile’s wine country. 

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Rotterdam is often ignored due to the popular neighboring city of Amsterdam, but it is a bastion of underground music and street art. The architecture is strikingly modern since the city was heavily bombed during World War II and thus had to be rebuilt from the ground up. The city is filled to the brim with amazing cuisine and museums.

Lagos, Nigeria

If you are looking for a big city destination, Lagos is a metropolis that has plenty to see and do so that you’ll never be bored. And whenever you need a break from the urban marketplaces, private beaches are just a short drive away.

Con Dao, Vietnam

Con Dao is a Southeast Asian island that makes an excellent beach destination with two resorts and tons of fascinating history. Once host to a brutal French prison, the island is also home to the tomb of the Vietnamese martyr Vo Thi Sau. 

Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

This is one of the oldest cities in Uruguay dating back to the 17th century. The city has a vibrantly decorated historic quarter and a three-century-old convent. It’s also only a short trip away from the bigger city of Montevideo.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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