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Walking the Camino de Santiago Photos

These are my favourite Camino de Santiago Photos from my pilgrimage along the French Way in March. A truly beautiful way to spend a few weeks.

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Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

El Camino de Santiago kicked my ass. Well technically it kicked my feet. Turns out my minimal preparation for the Camino de Santiago was terrible. After a miserable effort of only 4 days, the doctor in Legrono told me that I wasn’t allowed to go on until me feet healed. I had walked just over 100 km’s and my feet were bloodied and blistered.

To be honest, I was relieved.

The thought of putting back on my shoes made my shudder. For the last 9 km’s I had stumbled along in jandals and socks. One of the travelling fashion sins I vowed I would never break.

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

Jandals on the Camino de Santiago

So while I have unfinished business with the Way of St James (an upcoming post), I did want to share with you some of my favourite photos from the Camino de Santiago. Because I had yet to reach some of the more “unsavoury” parts of the Camino that Sherry Ott had discovered, every step of my pilgrimage had been beautiful.

Puenta La Reina Bridge Camino Arrow

Puenta La Reina Bridge – Camino de Santiago Arrows

There is no way you can get lost on the Camino de Santiago. Arrows, scallop shells and signs point you in the right direction at every bridge, road crossing and intersection.

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Camino de Santiago Scallop Shell

Reaching the top of Alto Pedron gave views back the way I had come from Pamplona, as well as views to where I was going. The rocky path on the way down proved to be my ultimate downfall, as my too small shoes caused my toes to smash into the front.

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Alto del Pedron Camino de Santiago

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

Metal Pilgrims on Alto del Pedron

There were so many beautiful old churches along the Camino de Santiago. But since I was walking in early March, it seemed that most were yet to open for the busier summer season.

Church of Obanos

The Church of Obanos

And between every small village the well-maintained pathways of the French Way wound across the spectacular Spanish countryside.

The French Way - Camino de Santiago

The French Way – Camino de Santiago Photos

Puenta La Reina

Puenta La Reina in the evening

Puenta La Reina has one of the most amazing bridges I have ever seen. It was also the 1st village I had the pleasure of sleeping in after busy Pamplona.

Puenta la Reina Bridge and Sunrise

Puenta la Reina Bridge at sunrise

Most mornings I was up and walking before the sun began to sprinkle across the horizon.

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Spring flowers on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Pilgrims approaching Cirauqui, Spain

Every village and town was built on a small hill. Sure it looks beautiful until you realise you have to go back up again to go through them all!

Church of Santa Maria - Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria in Los Arcos

While there were only about 20 pilgrims walking each section every day, it wasn’t uncommon for you to encounter them all. The people I met along the Camino de Santiago were some of the most inspiring and remarkable people I have ever spoken to. They are the ones that make the pilrgimage so special.

The endless French Way

The endless French Way

Irache Wine Fountain - Fuente del Vino

The free flowing Irache Wine Fountain or “Fuente del Vino”

Hay bales along the French Way

Hay bales along the French Way

Every village had at least one ancient church and it wasn’t uncommon to find them dotting the landscape in remote locations either.

Ermita de San Miguel

Ermita de San Miguel

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

Iglesia de San Andrés de Zariquiegui Church

I have travelled through Spain in the past, including cycling in Costa Brava and surfing in San Sebastian with both independent planning and a vacation planner. But having the opportunity to walk at my own pace through some of the most beautiful scenery in Spain on the Camino de Santiago has so far topped them all.

Natural arches - Camino de Santiago

Natural arches on the Camino de Santiago

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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95 Comments

95 Comments

  1. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas

    April 1, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    So, so looking forward to the Camino this summer – and have been for nearly eight years! Looking forward to your upcoming posts.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 1, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      Wow 8 years! I decided 4 days before I went that I was going haha. But my under-preparation definitely worked against me. Enjoy it 🙂

      • Jose

        November 12, 2013 at 7:44 AM

        Hi:

        El Camino is a beautiful experience, painful and inspiring…

        I just want to point out that it is Puente la Reina, instead Puenta la Reina, and maybe you visited a doctor in Logroño.

        cheers

      • Andy Wilson

        February 6, 2014 at 4:42 PM

        Ha Cole what was the weather like at that time of year I’m going to walk April 2014 I’m like you layed off 26th January from job in WA a few things to tidy up in NZ Auckland friends walked it 3 years ago ,had a ball, I’m planing on doing the full trek France to Spain and even contemplating cycling the Spain Portugal section after that, se how we go I’ve been training and boots are a couple of seasons old so looking forward to it

        • Cole Burmester

          February 7, 2014 at 4:54 AM

          Hey Andy.
          Thanks for the comment! Very jealous you are going over and I might actually see you there… Possibly walking it again in May this year too. The weather should be reasonably fine by April. Sometimes they get some late snow in the Pyrenees but it shouldn’t affect you too much. The pass over the top closed a day before I arrived so I had to start from Pamplona but I was there a month earlier than you. All I can say is take as little gear as possible as you will regret every KG of equipment that you don’t end up using. Good luck and enjoy it!
          Cheers,
          Cole

  2. EurotripTips

    April 1, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Beautiful photos! And nevermind that you weren’t able to finish the Camino – the simple fact that you were motivated enough to actually start and do 100km it is very impressive! Congrats, and better luck next time!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 1, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      I met people that had been walking the Camino for 10 years! Every year they came back and did a little bit more. They plan to finish next year sometime 😉 Might be me in a few years time haha.

  3. Jarmo

    April 1, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    Gorgeous shots Cole! I’ve been very tempted by the Camino, it looks gorgeous, although I am worried that the same thing that happened to you, would happen to me. But still, a good try mate!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 1, 2013 at 4:59 PM

      As long as you have broken in your shoes (I didn’t), ensured they are a little bigger than normal (mine weren’t) and you can comfortably walk 20+ km’s a day, then you will be fine! Highly recommend it 😀

  4. Jenna

    April 1, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Wow, what an experience this must have been, and what beautiful photos! I remember learning about this path in one of my art history classes and have been interested in it since then because it has been so important for so many people and for so long.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 2, 2013 at 9:24 AM

      I had never heard about the Camino de Santiago until last year when one of my friends did it. To be honest I had no desire to do it until just 4 days before I left! Wish I had prepared some more now though as I really want to finish it.

  5. Sarah

    April 2, 2013 at 2:58 AM

    Wow Cole, what lovely photos! I’m sorry about your feet but it looks like you got some great shots in there 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      April 2, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      Imagine if I had a chance to walk the full 800 km’s! Probably would have ran out of memory space on my camera haha.

  6. The Time-Crunched Traveler (Ellen)

    April 2, 2013 at 5:27 AM

    Sorry to hear you didn’t get to finish it this time around, but you got some great photos that’s for sure! What a beautiful part of the world. I look forward to reading the unfinished business post. We are trying to hike the Appalachian Trail in sections … probably will never be able to finish it, but hey, sometimes it’s about the journey, not the end goal, right?

    • Cole Burmester

      April 2, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      I met a couple that were walking the Camino de Santiago over 11 years. They expect to finish next year so it is definitely achievable when you break it down like that. So jealous of you hiking the Appalachian Trail and good luck. I am sure you will get there in the end, even if it is in 10 years time 🙂

  7. Kerwin

    April 2, 2013 at 5:45 AM

    Jandals and sock! uugh…
    I love the beautiful pictures; thank you!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 2, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      I think I have just destroyed my brand with that photo 😉

      And thanks Kerwin!

  8. Casey @ A Cruising Couple

    April 2, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    This is SO awesome–I’m really hoping that one day we get to do the pilgrimage, even if it’s just a bit of it! Great photos!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 2, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      If you come to Europe then definitely put it on the to-do list! Well worth it, even if you only do it for a few weeks/days like me 😉

  9. Shane

    April 3, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    Great photos Cole! Hope the feet are feeling better.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 3, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      Thanks Shane. Feet are just about healed now haha.

  10. Sophie @ GetACarHire

    April 3, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    You captured all these beauties with blistered feet?! Salute!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 3, 2013 at 12:10 PM

      Since I was walking so slowly I might as well as have taken them 😉

  11. Matthew Karsten

    April 3, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Can’t wait to try this one day. Will make sure to use your advice about the broken-in and roomy shoes though. Love the shots!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 3, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      Well worth a trip to Spain for it! Just do a little more preparation than me haha.

  12. Rachelle Gallant

    April 3, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Absolututely stuning photos!!! I walked the Camino in September/October 2012 and will definitely return one day! Thanks for Sharing!!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 4, 2013 at 8:17 AM

      You are welcome 😀 September would have been a perfect time of year to walk the Camino I think. Not too hard and not as many people!

  13. ReAnn

    April 4, 2013 at 1:37 AM

    Poor feet. That’s my greatest worry as I get ready to walk the Camino next Spring. Your photos are fabulous. Would you share what type camera you used?

  14. Jade Johnston

    April 4, 2013 at 2:59 AM

    OUCH I have heard stories of the camino killing shoes in the past… for a hike of that length you dont want to be cheap with your hiking shoes. love the photos

    • Cole Burmester

      April 4, 2013 at 8:24 AM

      I wasn’t cheap with them, they cost me a bundle! Just didn’t break them in enough and they needed to be at least a half size bigger than normal. Learnt my lesson though and hopefully it helps others too 😉

  15. Janice

    April 4, 2013 at 3:13 AM

    my husband and i walked the camino to Santiago de Compostela we took are time walking it in 42 days during Sept and Oct 2012, it is beautiful. The people we met were wonderful. we, life a lot of people packed too heavy, but after purging some of the items we didn’t need, we were much better off. We met people of all shapes and size, and all ages, kids travelling with their parents the youngest about 2 years of age the oldest 82 years of age! your images a wonderful and bring back great memories.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 4, 2013 at 8:15 AM

      42 days is a perfect amount of time to walk it. Means you can take your time and enjoy the villages rather than rushing through every day. And the people definitely make the journey. Thanks for commenting 😉

  16. YOLANDA LEMASTER

    April 4, 2013 at 3:17 AM

    Great pics. Wish mine looked half as good.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 4, 2013 at 8:15 AM

      Thank you Yolanda 🙂 Just takes time and practice (and a little editing haha).

  17. Agnes Martinez

    April 4, 2013 at 5:48 AM

    I loooooove your photos!!! I am doing the camino next year and am sooooo excited!!! Thanks for your photos, they are going up on my wall to remind me of what’s in store for next year!!!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 4, 2013 at 8:13 AM

      You will have so much fun Agnes! Maybe I will re-do it next year too 🙂

  18. Natasha von Geldern

    April 4, 2013 at 5:58 AM

    Wow beautiful photos but your poor feet! A salutary tale indeed!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 4, 2013 at 8:14 AM

      Haha thanks Natasha. Was a big mistake being so unprepared with the right shoe choice. But lesson learned for next time 😉

  19. sepideh minaaraghi

    April 4, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    wow I loved looking at your photos, I am starting the walk april 29th, did you use a tent along the way? do I need one?

  20. Lucina

    April 5, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    Thank you for your photos, they are inspiring and beautiful. I plan to walk the Camino one day, so I often check with this site. Good luck with your feet and your journey.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 5, 2013 at 8:58 AM

      Thanks Lucina! Let us know if you ever need any tips and good luck when you do walk the Camino.

  21. Sil

    April 5, 2013 at 8:07 PM

    Ouch! Seems you felt the painful souls of pilgrims past through the soles of your feet! Hope you go back – there are fantastic photo opportunities waiting for you along the path!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 6, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      Thanks Sil! Feet are basically healed now (2 weeks later) so definitely keen to get back there soon. Maybe not this summer but should be sooner than later.

      • Sil

        April 9, 2013 at 12:19 PM

        I posted a link to this blog on the Camino Forum and most comments are about your gorgeous photography – everyone wanting to see more. Do you have a link to any other photographs?

        • Cole Burmester

          April 9, 2013 at 4:49 PM

          I don’t unfortunately Sil! I will need to go through and edit some more at some stage. And thank you so much for sharing the post on the forum 😀

  22. Margaret

    April 5, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    Your Camino photos are some of the most stunning I have seen- truly beautiful. Maybe you will get back, with a bigger pair of worn in shoes- and we will get to see some more of your journey along it.
    The churches mostly aren’t open in the season either by the way. In most smaller places they are open for evening mass but not much more than that.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 6, 2013 at 9:26 AM

      Thank you Margaret 🙂 Was such a wonderful experience, even if it was short lived. Definitely plan to be back in the near future to finish it off with a little more preparation!

  23. Gretta

    April 6, 2013 at 8:50 AM

    Far Out!!! They are some of the best photos I have seen of the Camino. Im heading back to the Camino in August. I am about to buy my third pair of shoes…Yikes. Im so worried about this. Can I ask if you dont mind…what were the shoes that you had problems with. (Please excuse me if this has been mentioned…but I couldnt see it)

    I ended up last time walking in Kumfs black dress sandals and white socks….soooooo atractive… not. But they worked.

    • Gretta

      April 6, 2013 at 8:53 AM

      Bananas!! Doup! found the shoes on your site. 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      April 6, 2013 at 9:25 AM

      Saw that you spotted the shoes 😉 But just for anyone else, they were Northface Hedgehog shoes. It was just the size that I got so wrong. Definitely worth buying about a half-size to size bigger than normal 😀

      Good luck again in August. Maybe will see ya there!

  24. Stephen Nicholls

    April 6, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    Smashing photo’s! My diaries and links to over 700 photos from my last two caminos are on my web site. Off in six weeks time, from Lisbon to Porto this time, so completing the Camino Portuguese.
    Ultreya!
    Stephen

    • Cole Burmester

      April 6, 2013 at 9:24 AM

      Thanks Stephen! Will go check out your photos of the Camino now too 😉 Good luck for the Portuguese leg.

  25. Ali

    April 6, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    Looks gorgeous! But hiking in flip flops is not ideal. I’m glad you didn’t push on, sounds like it would’ve been really bad for your already aching feet. The sections you were able to see look great though!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 7, 2013 at 12:47 PM

      I think I would have done some long term damage if I had continued without proper arch support just wearing my jandals. Now I have a real desire to go back as well.

  26. Abby

    April 6, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    WOW! Some of the prettiest pictures I’ve ever seen… A good friend of mine did this, which just floored me for some reason. I remember being at the cathedral and watching the pilgrims come in and just being so overwhelmed. It never occurred to me that I would know someone who did it. Congrats on making it as far as you did!

    • Cole Burmester

      April 7, 2013 at 12:48 PM

      Two of my friends did it last year and that was the first time I had heard about it. Definitely want to finish it next time! Hopefully in a couple of years.

  27. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    April 6, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    Gorgeous views! I love the photo of the bridge.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 7, 2013 at 12:46 PM

      Such a beautiful old village and one of the first places you stay on the Camino 🙂

  28. Laura @Travelocafe

    April 7, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    As always, your photos are amazing! Great job!

  29. santafetraveler

    April 7, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    It’s on my list. Wonderful photos, just makes me want to go more as did watching Emilio Estevez’s wonderful film, The Way.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 8, 2013 at 8:39 AM

      I watched “The Way” a few days before my trip and recognised a couple of the places on the walk. Great film, but it is better in real life 😉

  30. Paddy Waller

    April 10, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    Lovely photos.Brought back memories. I did part of El Camino years ago and finally did it from Roncesvalles to Santiago(31 days)three years ago on my own. Amazing fun and made some good friends.If I had to give one piece of advice it would be train for at least 4 weeks before going(and in the shoes or boots you will walk the Camino in). You really enjoy it so much more….a friend gave me that tip and it was so true.Saw alot of people with blisters,feet problems and they really suffered badly.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 10, 2013 at 10:38 AM

      Definitely going to be going back in the future to give the Camino another crack Paddy. Great advice from you and will take it in next time 😉

  31. Arti

    April 19, 2013 at 3:44 AM

    These are stunning captures but I must say that the second shot is just surreal!! Loved it so very much! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      April 19, 2013 at 11:29 PM

      Thank you Arti 😀 Wish I could have kept going to take more!

  32. Mandy

    April 25, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    Wow, what an incredible walk! I think 100km is impressive in itself but I can imagine that the full 800km would take some dedication and time. I’m trying to put that into perspective – it’s like walking from the Kruger Park to Durban in South Africa – not a distance I’ve ever considered walking on foot!

    Your photos are fantastic. I’m sure it was a great experience and well worth the blisters, I hope.

    • Cole Burmester

      April 25, 2013 at 7:30 PM

      Walking from Kruger Park to Durban would definitely be an impressive feat 🙂 It just seems more manageable though when you break it down day-by-day. Especially when so many others are doing it too.

  33. Christine |GRRRL TRAVELER

    May 13, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Awesome photos! Just met a guy who’s taking 6 weeks off to do this trek. Thanks for the post. You’ve just bumped this higher on my bucket list! Am sharing this w/ my FB page (just to have it bookmarked!)

    • Cole Burmester

      May 17, 2013 at 5:49 AM

      Thanks for the extra share Christine! And I definitely recommend doing the Camino. Just wish I hadn’t screwed up my feet so badly, but at least I get to go back sometime and do it again 😉

  34. Nathan Mizrachi

    June 12, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    Hi Cole! I’m sorry your feet didn’t hold up so well. I’m heading off to do the Camino in August–I’m starting from Paris though, so I guess I have a lot of training to do then. Your photos are gorgeous and will give me a lot of inspiration in the coming weeks! For the short time that you were walking though, did you have any particular place you wish you could’ve spent more time in? One thing I’m worried about (in a good way) is that I will want to end up staying for more time in some of the towns and cities along the way, especially the larger ones like Burgos, Leon, and Pamplona. Appreciate your response, happy trekking!

  35. Kristy of Family Visa

    June 18, 2013 at 5:28 AM

    It looks like the place is a nice plot for a romantic movie because every corner has an awesome view!

  36. Nicole @ Green Global Travel

    June 22, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    We visited Spain last year and couldn’t believe the amount of people who walk this trail. I don’t think I would have even made the 100kms. We were quite happy just to drive 😛

  37. Camino Jimmy

    July 7, 2013 at 5:09 AM

    Just finished the Camino from St Jean, 34 days. If you don’t prepare don’t bother, prepare and it’s worth every step.

    Camino Jimmy.

  38. Tina

    July 10, 2013 at 5:57 AM

    The place was really beautiful, it shows on your stunning pictures. I wish I could shoot like that…

  39. Larry

    July 22, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    I had a similar problem last year (Sept/12). I had prepared well and was in good shape but was over confident and exuberant. Only lasted 5 days. Tore the cartilage in one knee and strained the other.

    Knees still too sore to return but will definitely go back to complete the whole Camino some time soon.

    • Cole Burmester

      July 31, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      That sucks to here that you couldn’t finish either Larry. Hopefully we can both return in the near future 🙂 My plan is possibly 2015!

  40. Christoffer Moen

    July 25, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    Breathtaking shots! I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Hope you can go back on the El Camino real soon. Cheers.

  41. Serena

    September 13, 2013 at 1:37 AM

    I’m walking the camino in October and hearing that you only made it 4 days is kind of freaking me out! I’ve been walking to and from and from work in my shoes and I’ve gone on a few long hikes, so I’m hoping that’s enough! Beautiful pictures in your four days though 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      September 15, 2013 at 6:58 AM

      I decided 2 days before I was going that I would walk it so you will be fine 🙂 I just rushed into and that was a big mistake. Everyone suffers from blisters and I just didn’t manage them well either. Good luck!

  42. Gabriel

    September 16, 2013 at 1:58 AM

    Great shots, my favorite is definitely the black and white with the yellow arrow. Great eye!

    • Cole Burmester

      September 17, 2013 at 7:16 AM

      Thanks Gabriel 🙂 I want to go back and shoot it all again one day soon.

  43. Andy

    October 15, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    That are some fantastic pictures! I’d love to complete el camino someday. I think that it is wonderful that you took the time to do it, even if you didn’t prepare well enough. We learn our lessons…

  44. Alexandra

    January 5, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    Walking the Camino is a dream of mine… Maybe we can start training now and do it together in 2016 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      January 6, 2014 at 7:34 AM

      Sounds good to me! Give me a date and I’m there 😀

  45. Pingback: Reasons to Walk the Camino: Tips, Meditations, Lessons & Observations

  46. Pingback: My 10 top favorite blogs about the Camino de Santiago | Camino Travel Center

  47. Kevin Lydon

    July 8, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    This is exactly what I am looking for in order to push my dad over the edge to doing the Camino trail with me. He has been talking about for years and I keep showing him everything I can to get him to do it. Santiago looks absolutely amazing and I think once he sees all your pics I might get him to come with me.

  48. Hitch-Hikers Handbook

    August 13, 2014 at 7:20 AM

    Wonderful and inspiring blog, guys! Thanks a lot for following us on Twitter! Travel safe and keep up your great work!!

  49. Hitch-Hikers Handbook

    October 16, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    Incredible photos, mate! We hitchhiked (I know that’s not the proper way to do it;) a huge part of the Camino and we really loved all the places we visited on the way! Spain is an amazing country and you can travel here for months and never get bored…
    I’m a huge fan of your photographic talent and I would like to invite you to participate in our Travel Photography Competition. It’s a great way to promote your blog (not that it needs promoting 😉 as every week we publish three winners with their short bios and links to their websites promoting their work. Plus, you can win some valuable prizes in the yearly edition. Anyway, I will send you more info via Twitter and you can check it out and see if it’s something you might be interested in.

  50. Carlo Cretaro

    May 18, 2015 at 1:20 AM

    Hey Cole.

    Love photo essay type posts 🙂

    The Camino scares me – particularly because I hate the thought of walking for miles upon miles each day! 🙂

  51. Eric || The Bucket List Project

    February 2, 2017 at 8:08 AM

    So I was having one of those days where you reminisce and I was thinking about my Camino adventure this past summer in 2016. I walked the entire Camino Frances, Camino Finisterre, and Camino Muxia in July and August and Loved every second of it.
    Your pictures make me wish I could just jump back into them and return right now. I hope your feet healed and you were able to continue.

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Adventure Travel

5 Fun Adventure Activities in Vietnam

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A stunning country with glorious scenery and an amazing culture, Vietnam offers many attractions for the modern tourist. It would be easy to spend a holiday in Vietnam just sightseeing and immersing yourself in the culture – which thanks to a heavy French influence, is different to its South Eastern Asian neighbours – but why pass up on some of the fun adventure activities in Vietnam?

Sandboarding

Also called sand surfing, sandboarding is an extreme sport, exactly like snowboarding, but on sand dunes instead of snow. Regularly named among the best sandboarding destinations in the world, are the Mue Ne Dunes. A series of red dunes around the resort town of the same name, sandboarding has not yet hit the professional heights here but is more of a fun cultural experience. Women in cone hats rent out boards to everyone from kids to saffron-robed Buddhist monks.

Mue Nie is also home to the magical Fairy Stream. This small shallow river winds through moon-like rock formations and is fun to walk through. You can watch the fish as you walk up to two kms in the water or you might try your hand at fishing. You’ll need some basic tackle including rod and reels. Check out these great options for beginners.

Take on Mount Fansipan

Nicknamed “the Roof of Indochina”, Fanispan at 3,143 metres is the highest mountain in the region. Located in Sapa, a town in the Lao Cai province in Northern Vietnam, the mountain can be conquered via two main climbing routes, one categorised as 2D1N, the other a longer 3D2N route. Both climbs require a guide. For those who prefer an easier way to the summit, the Fanispan cable car takes just 15 minutes to achieve what climbers do in 2-3 days, travelling on cables high above primitive forests.

Ride a Motorbike from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi

One of the enduring images of Vietnam is the streets of Ho Chi Minh crowded with motorbikes, but motorbikes are also popular outside the cities and Vietnam has become known for some amazing motorbike routes. One of the favourite journeys is from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi. There are various routes to cover the distance of more than 2,000 kms, all taking you through gorgeous scenery and fascinating towns and villages.

Marble Mountain Rappelling Tour with Temple and Cave Exploration

You might think that abseiling down a vertical rock face is for experienced adrenalin junkies but not so on a rappelling tour in the Marble Mountains in Vietnam. Located just north of the popular resort city of Hoi An, the Marble Mountains are known locally as the “Five Elements Mountains”. Tours start in the city and once in the mountains, all equipment and instruction is provided to complete at least two rappels (depending on the tour company you choose). Besides the rappelling, the tours have spectacular views of the coast and include trekking through the mountains, visiting caves and temples

Canyoning

Canyoning is a thrilling adrenaline rush of an adventure sport wherein you jump into a fast-flowing mountain stream and allow yourself to be carried at high speed downstream. The most popular place for canyoning in Vietnam is Dalat. Dalat is in the Central Highlands and is a lovely resort town near a lake becoming renown as a destination for honeymoons as well as the adventure sports of cliff jumping, waterfall rappelling, natural water slides, and hiking, as well as canyoning. Various companies offer canyoning tours in Dalat all at similar prices for similar itineraries, so just choose which appeals most.

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Adventure Travel

The 4 Best US Cities for an Outdoor Adventure

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If you are looking for a destination that will get your heart racing and adrenaline pumping, you will be spoilt for options in the US. Offering various landscapes and tough terrains to tackle, outdoor enthusiasts can find some of the biggest and best challenges in different states across the country.

If you want to enjoy an adrenaline fix in 2019, check out the following four best US cities for an outdoor adventure.

  • Los Angeles, California

There is more to Los Angeles than celebrity homes, high-end stores and boutiques, and fun Hollywood tours. Not only can you book charter jets Los Angeles to touch down in the city with ease, but there are many superb outdoor pursuits for adventure enthusiasts.

For example, you could try your hand at horseback riding at Griffith Park, or you could hike up Mount Baldy, which is the highest mountain point within Los Angeles County. Also, if you want to come face-to-face with various forms of marine life, you will be happy to learn you can snorkel in the stunning Lover’s Cove.

  • Seattle, Washington

As Seattle is surrounded by water, you can choose from a multitude of fun watersports during a visit in the Emerald City. For example, you can take to the city’s lakes and waterways to enjoy a spot of:

  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Sailing
  • Jet skiing
  • Paddle boarding
  • Kite boarding

While hikers, cyclists, and runners will love to tackle the Burke-Gilman Trail, which is an extensive trail located north of Ballard by Puget Sound.

  • Portland, Oregon

Offering more than 40 state parks and eight beautiful beaches, those looking for a fun outdoor adventure should look no further than Portland. Avid hikers should head straight to Forest Park once they arrive in the cool, laidback city, as it covers approximately 5,100 acres and is one of the largest urban forests in America.

Visitors can also escape the hustle and bustle of the city at Columbia River Gorge, which offers the largest concentration of waterfalls in the US, including the 620ft tall Multnomah Falls. It will offer a great hike for almost every age and can help visitors to reconnect with nature.

  • Aurora, Colorado

Offering more than 300 days of glorious sunshine throughout the year, it is easy to see why many people make their way to Aurora to enjoy its many outdoor pursuits. One destination you shouldn’t overlook is Aurora Reservoir, which allows visitors to enjoy a spot of fishing, sailing, swimming, windsurfing, and boating.

If, however, you are looking for a destination that offers superb horseback riding opportunities, don’t miss out on 12 Mile Stables, which has been serving both locals and tourists for many decades. It’s an experience you will not forget in a hurry, as you can enjoy 27 miles of riding trails across 3,300 acres at Cherry Creek State Park.

If you are considering an outdoor getaway in the United States, you can rest assured the above destinations will not let you down.

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Adventure Travel

Review: 10 Day Egypt Explorer Tour with Expat Explore

A comprehensive review of Expat Explores 10 Day Explorer Tour through the stunning country of Egypt.

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Expat Explore Group in Egypt

We have been wanting to visit Egypt for a while now so when the opportunity to get away over the Christmas and New Year period arose we knew we needed to head there for a break. We joined Expat Explore on their 10 Day Explorer Tour through Egypt taking in the sights of Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and Hurghada.

Expat Explore Group Photo

The reason we chose Expat Explore was that they were the cheapest in price with all the same sights and in the end we were happy with our choice.

Pre-departure they emailed us our itinerary with the optional excursions and additional costs for entry fees included so that we could budget properly. As well as following up with our pre-trip questions regarding flights, insurance and uhealth and safety advice.

From the start they were very professional. Landing in Cairo we were personally greeted the day before our tour and transported to our City centre hotel. That drive was an eye-opener to Egypt with crazy lane changes, honking, swerving, flashing lights with animals, people and vehicles everywhere.

El Tonsy Hotel is your base for your arrival and last night. Luckily we didn’t expect much as our door didn’t lock which was a bit dodgy and the rooms were freezing cold with a broken heater and only one blanket. You wouldn’t think you would need heat in Egypt but it was the middle of winter and it was chilly at night. No complaints with the location though as we could see the Pyramids in the distance and were only 5 minutes walk from the Nile and 15 minutes to Tahir Square (perfectly safe by the way). Plus they have a little bar/restaurant with cheap food and free Wi-Fi. Just buy your snacks and water from the supermarket across the road and you will get on fine.

El Tonsy Hotel View of Pyramids

It’s quite hard to break down a whole trip into one post but here goes:

Day One

Your tour starts with the best in my opinion by touring some sights of Cairo. The steeply angled Step Pyramid, mind-blowing Pyramids of Giza and the smaller than expected Sphinx. This day was definitely the highlight.

That night is spent aboard the train for 10-12 hours to Aswan. I highly recommend the Sleeper train for an extra £50 per person. Others that caught the standard train froze their butts off while we had a toasty sleep with a served dinner and breakfast. Unfortunately Expat Explore never told us about the provided food so we ate before we got on-board but what we could fit in was delicious.

Day Two

The tour splits in Aswan as one group embarks on a River Cruise aboard a 5 star ship while the others spend time in hotels and on a Felucca. No surprise that we went with the cheaper option aboard the Felucca so the next few days are from that point of view.

The afternoon is yours at Sara Hotel on the banks above the Nile. We lapped up the beautiful rays of the sun and managed to turn our pasty white bodies a more fitting slightly white shade. The Hotel was great until the toilet next-door erupted sending a river of smelly waste across our bedroom floor (throw your toilet paper in the bin not the loo)! Luckily we woke in time to rescue our bags from the watery mess! Not the fault of Expat Explore and we didn’t blame the Hotel either as shit happens.

Day Three

Your day begins by visiting the monstrous High Dam for 10 minutes (fairly boring) and a drive past the Unfinished Obelisk. While the highlight is definitely the Philae Temple. When the sunsets across the Nile reflecting off the stonework it really is quite magical.

Philae Temple Sunset

The evening ended with an optional dinner in a traditional Nubian families house. The food was scrumptious and you better bring your singing and dancing shoes.

Day Four

The following day and night is spent relaxing aboard the Felucca for a sail up the Nile for several hours. Sleeping no more than 8 people you will be snug if you bring your own sleeping bag like us. The rest of our crew were jealous as it did get quite chilly in the evening however blankets were provided.

With delicious pita bread and falafel cooked on the boat you will not be disappointed with the food either.

The day ends with a bonfire on the Nile shoreline as you sing and dance with the crazy fun Nubian crews. This was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip for us.

Travel Tip: Don’t be put off by doing your “business” amongst the reeds of the Nile. Just enjoy the view and remember to bring your own toilet paper (which you need everywhere in Egypt anyway).

Felucca on the Nile

By all accounts, from the other tour members, the River Cruise is just as great with 3 nights on-board in comfortable accommodation, a pool and  buffets morning, noon and night.

Day Five

Waking to a sunrise breaking the morning chill is a glorious way to start a new day. Unfortunately there is little time for relaxation before you are off the Felucca and on a bus to Kom Ombu and Edfu Temples. I must say, all of the transportation was more than adequate with toilets on the buses and room enough for everyone. It’s lucky because you do spend the majority of the time being driven around.

The Lotus Hotel in Luxor was probably the pick of them all. Situated on the Nile bank with a swimming pool and tasty buffet breakfast.

Day Six

One more day, one more busy schedule. Rushing to beat the crowds at the Valley of the Kings it’s another 8am start. You are only allowed to visit three tombs and we recommend the guides picks which were Ramses II, IV and IX.

Travel Tip: You are NOT allowed to take your camera with you off the bus. Please don’t ruin it for everyone by taking photos as you will be charged by security when caught.

We also squeezed in the crowded rock carved Hatshepsut Temple but only drove past Luxor Temple as we ran out of time as you need to drive 6 hours to reach Hurghada that night.

Day Seven and Eight

The next two days at the Red Sea are yours to do whatever you like so use them wisely. We joined most of our group for a spot of snorkelling and diving. The dive and the staff were great but the whole day seemed a little rushed which was a shame. Keep an eye out for our post on our diving experience in Hurghada.

Diving in Hurghada on the Red Sea

So nice being able to relax on a beach and read a book after such a hectic schedule. It’s hard to leave and the 6 – 8 hour bus ride back to Cairo is tough.

Travel Tip: If you plan to do the tour over New Years Eve then you will have to depart Hurghada half a day early which sucked as it meant celebrating the New Year at the Hotel in Cairo. Bit of a let down but when hasn’t New Years Eve been!

Day Nine

Your final day of sightseeing is spent around Cairo. Our favourite part of the day was definitely the Cairo Museum with an excellent tour guide. It fits perfectly at the end by seeing all the history close-up after having learned about it over the last 8 days.

By the time we hit the old area of Cairo and the Coptic Hanging Church we were spent on history but our guide made a good effort at keeping us entertained.

The last group activity is free time for an hour or so at the Khan El Khalili souk markets where the touts try to prise your cash from you for the last time from every nook and cranny.

Day Ten

With the tour over it’s time to head home. Our flight was late the following night so we walked around the city and Souks on our own for the day. Expat Explore provides transport back to the airport which was great.

The Negatives

The trip was awesome but we think it’s important to note the little things that could make a huge difference to the overall experience:

  • It felt like we were always hungry. Maybe it is just Kiwi’s and Aussies that eat all the time but it seriously felt like we were constantly starving with lunches being served usually after 4pm and dinner at 9pm onwards. It might be the Egyptian way to eat at those times but not for us. Travel Tip: Buy lots of snacks for the road which are very cheap at supermarkets.
  • There was sometimes a lack of direction in what seemed to be happening. Everything is done on Egyptian time so be patient.
  • We were often delayed or behind schedule with little to no guidance as to how long it would take to get from place to place. A little knowledge goes a long was as then we can plan ahead.
  • More free time would be great to explore places on your own rather than have our hands held everywhere.

The Positives:

As we said above, the trip was amazing and the little positive things far outweighed the negatives which helped make it a memorable trip.

  • Pre-departure information and care was extremely good.
  • The tour was exceptional value for money and it was the cheapest tour we could find even though we still saw all the same sights the other groups did.
  • The guides were extremely knowledgeable and never failed to answer any questions we had. The insights into the daily lives of the people around us was a nice break from all the history. They also ensured you never felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • The Felucca trip was better than expected and overall so was the accommodation and transport options.

All in all we highly recommend you book with Expat Explore if you are considering a trip through Egypt.

Make sure you subscribe now and come back soon so you can enjoy reading our new posts which will cover everything else in more detail.

Disclaimer: Expat Explore provided us with a discount for our 10 day tour of Egypt however as always our thoughts are always our own.

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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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