Adventure

My 17 most incredible experiences in 2017

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With 2017 over, it’s now time to have a little reflection on the adventures that I had, the people I meet and the incredible cultures that I had the opportunity to experience. In total I would say I spent over 8 months of the year adventuring which wasn’t always good fun – that’s a whole other set of experiences. Nealry all of these months were spent with Global Convoy. These are just a hand picked few experiences in places that blow me away with awe, horror and amazement, among some other emotions.

Machu Picchu
Taken whilst on the Global Convoy.

1. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu has been on my list of things to see for a very long time. I remember seeing pictures from school and online about the Incan “University” in the Peruvian mountains. This was one of reasons that Machu Picchu made it to my list, also that a lot of it’s history, to this day, is still fairly unknown and there is something very inquisitive to me.

Utila
Looking over the north side of the Island

2. Utila, Honduras

Were do I begin! Utila is a small island off the coast of Honduras, that is home to both native Honduran’s, expats and large selection of wildlife. This is also were I went snorkelling for the first time in my life, being able to see coral reef in such a way was incredible.

G20 Riots
Staying in the Epicentre of the riots

3. G20 Riots, Hamburg

This was a more terrifying experience. Staying with some amazing friend’s of friend’s in Hamburg, quite literally, in the epicentre of the riots. This was an experience like no other seeing violence, from my understanding that was, for no real reason other than people could.

Atacama Desert
Returning from Exploring the Mountains

4. Atacama Desert, Peru

Waking up surrounded by desert, then climbing up a nearby mountain to witness the vast expanse of mountainous desert. This was a moment of realisation more than anything, why had I never heard about this huge desert in Peru? It’s a country full of jungle and mountains? How little I still know.

Palenque
Exploring the Aztec Ruins in Palenque Mexico with the Global Convoy

5. Palenque, Mexico

Palenque is one of my more “oh crap, I messed up” experiences in 2017. This was the place that me and a few others got lost in the jungle, which is a somewhat scary experience. To be fair, it wasn’t like we were hundreds of miles away from civilization, only a mere few hundred metres from the path. This was more than plenty to give me a shock.

Indian's Nose
Hiking up above Lake Atitlan

6. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

This was more of the adventurous place in 2017, hiking up Indian’s Nose to witness the sun rise, ride on top of a chicken bus down a 1,000m mountain side, kayak through abandoned houses in the lake and were I meet some lifelong friends. In total, my time in Atitlan was a fun filled adventure.

San Bernados Island
Sunny beach’s just off the shore of Rincon del Mar.

7. Rincon del Mar, Columbia

Staying in Rincon del Mar a small village on the Caribbean coast line reasonably untouched by tourism. It was a relaxing point of 2017 being away from the city life and to meet the local people. Gaining a better understanding of life in a slightly more remote part of Colombia.

Rio de Janeiro
Exploring Rio de Janeiro

8. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro in itself is a truly amazing place. What made this place stand out for me was the way I was able to explore the city. I was flown to Rio by a friend, who I met for 2 days in Ireland, who I haven’t seen in two years. He then organised for me to stay with some of his friends, who guided me around the city.

Salento
Walking through the Cocora Valley, Salento Columbia a truly amazing and magical place.

9. Salento, Colombia,

This town, in central Colombia surround by mountains and dense jungle. It also has a valley of super tall palm trees. I would have loved to have stayed explored some of the huge mountains nearby and maybe climb a few. But time on the Convoy couldn’t allow it.

Gualchan
Hammocking in Gualchan, Ecuador a truly fantastic place

10. Gualchan, Ecuador

Spending the night camping in Gualchan is one of my top highlights, staying in a really remote part of Ecuadorian mountains and jungle. Having a very relaxed evening around a fire with good friends and then spending some time with people in the local village the morning after.

Antigua
Exploring Antigua’s central square

11. Antigua, Guatemala

Now this was an incredible place for so many reasons firstly, it’s a really beautiful city surround by volcanoes, Fuego is very active and most days can be seen erupting. It’s also were I got together with my current girlfriend. So for me Antigua is a very special place.

Bolivian Salt Flats
Having fun in the Salt Flats.

12. The Bolivian Salt Flats

This day was possibly the best day of the year. Driving the Micra around the famous Bolivian Salt Flats and start of the Dakar Rally. With nothing but salt for miles in every direction, this was a good opportunity to have some fun and do some very questionable driving.

Peak District
An Autumnal walk in the Hope Valley.

13. Peak district, United Kingdom

I had never explored the Peak District properly until 20171 Just wow! It’s such a beautiful place right only a short(ish) drive from where I live. Seeing the history, climbing some hills and mountain biking with the Adventure Pedlars who also let me and the Global Convoy Crew stay at their bunk house.

Luxembourg
Trying to find away down in to the valley around the city.

14. Luxembourg

Luxembourg is one of my most visited countries. In 2017 I spent time exploring the northern part of the country with its huge amount of castles, many of which are still in good condition. I happened to be in city at the same time as the Luxembourgish National Day or the Grand Duke’s Birthday.

Salt Mines
Exploring the Salt mines in Peru

15. Salt Mines, Peru

Visiting the Salt Mines was a great day in its self. What made this day especially great experience, was when a group of us ended up staying after hours with the miners. One of the miners then invited us back to his town to talk some more.

Teotihuacán
Looking towards the Sun Temple at Teotihuacán

16. Teotihuacán, Mexico

Teotihuacán, the Aztec Sun and Moon Temple had always been a place that I have wanted to visit. Acturally going here and exploring the Temples, learning about engineering and getting to know a little bit about the culture of the Aztec’s was really interested.

San Pedro Sula
André riding on the front of a train in San Pedro Sula.

17. San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Visiting the 2nd murder capital of the world. Was an eye-opening experience even though the statistics are terrible doesn’t mean that all the people are. I personally had amazing experience playing football with children in the streets; riding a train through the city centre that had run in many years.

Adventure

Global Convoy Hitchhiking: Day 4

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Hitchhiking in Japan

The second failure…

After failing to hitch last night we had to spend another night in the services. We put our failure down to the fact that we looked rather too crazy for the people of Gotemba. The second failure was our inability to wake up… Instead of waking up at 6 as planned we both woke up at 10. On the plus side we both felt very refreshed at least.

Hitchhiking in Japan
Photo by André Correia

Hitching again

We waited in the services for 3 hours, waiting for a kind person to pick us up. Then we met Tagahasi the coach driver! Yes, this gentleman gave us a lift in his coach, with the understanding that he would take us all the way to Osaka. We had struck some luck at last!

hitching on a coach
Photo by André Correia

Or so we thought. Due to some miscommunication, we where left in a very small services in the middle of nowhere. However, Mr Tagahasi did take us another 120km towards our current destination, Osaka and we got to watch a film.

Closer to Osaka

When reached our new home we assessed the situation we had been left in. It appeared we where at a private service station, very small but very cheap inside. We went around getting some food and started again to hitch hike. As usual we positioned ourselves next to motorway entrance or the service area exit.  However, the police had over ideas for us, making us move the motorway in the most friendly way possible, it was almost impossible to take them seriously. Undeterred we tried again, this time from the front of services and finally got picked up by Jizso, the hitchhiking lorry driver. Jizso explained to us how had hitch hiked through Japan and a few other countries, also, that it wasn’t common to see hitch hikers in Japan. This generous man also bought us coffee, nuts and some cigarettes and gave us a lift to Nagoya, another 100km down the road.

André and the Driver
Photo by André Correia, Edited by Richard

A long wait…

We arrived at out 4th services of the trip at 6 o’clock, buzzing from the very high caffeine content in the coffee. This gave much entertainment to the garage opposite, with us dancing and singing. Despite all our efforts, including being given a giant sign for Osaka from the staff at the garage, it was no good. We settled down to wait in darkness, kinda of stupid on our behalf, although we didn’t have much else to do. When we hit 10 o’clock we headed for bed to get some rest for an early start. Yet again camping in a service station.

All in all it was a fairly uneventful day,  in comparison to the previous days, 2 and 3.

Adventure

Global Convoy Hitchhiking: Day 3 

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Wooden bridge

The View

We woke up late, but it was worth after last nights adventure. We also had an amazing view of Mount Fuji. Or would  have been if it was not for all the fog.  It was also the day we decided to go for a causal stroll up a mountain.

The Volcanoes!

Leaving our, car park we walked up to a local campsite where the kind receptionist lets us leave our bags for the day. Our causal stroll looking at the maps was 5km or an hour an half walk, how stupid us to think this…

Volcanoes
Photo by André Correia

The mountain, was in fact part of a large ridge line that steep in all directs, including having three huge saddles or dips in the ridge. At one particular point we dropped approximately 200 metres. This meant that we had to climb back up even higher, with ground getting steeper and some sections requiring us to scramble over tree roots. This continued for what seemed like miles, finally after 2 more saddles finally reached the summit 3:30 hours after leaving the hotel. At the summit we got some amazing views of the surrounding geopark and an active volcano across the valley.

The Mountain Lady

This was obviously a major tourist attraction as there was a shop and bunkhouse at the top of the mountain, we also discovered we where might be the only foreigners on the mountain! Being bestowed by gifts of food, souvenirs and many people taking photos with us. We also tried some mystery food, much to the amusement of many people.  We had to leave the good willed people as we were very quickly getting towards nightfall.

Kindness
Photo by André Correia

The Long Walk… to a services

As started we  our decent of our Mount Kintaki, we came across an section of open ground, which to our surprise was steaming. Now this was a slight surprise as it had not rained all day and wasn’t that warm either. Having seen the volcanoes around we assumed that this mountain must also be a volcano. But hey we are not geologists.

Wooden bridge
Photo by André Correia

We made it back to our rucksacks just as the night was descending, we then grabbed our rucksacks and made our way back to Gotemba, to try and grab a ride further towards Osaka.  Standing just in front of a toll booth we waited for 4 hours; dancing, looking like idiots and waving. However, it was to no effort as we where not picked up and standing in the cold. This is probably due to the huge amount of people driving past in there Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s.

Abandoning the idea at the toll booth after some research of the local area we found a service station some 3km away. An interesting walk, getting lost in a forest ended up having to walk through a think forest. Eventually we got back on to a road and made our way in to the service area. Again this would be be our home for the night.

Yesterday was very eventful. What is going to happen tomorrow?

Adventure

Global Convoy Hitchhiking: Day 2

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Festival-Japan

Nature…

We both had a terrible nights sleep, thanks to an inconvenient typhoon. Being a typhoon it didn’t let up until morning, however it did give us a lovely new swimming pool in the park.

Having taken shelter in the toilets, we did what we could only do when your stuck in a toilet in Japan and charged our phones, learnt some Japanese and harmonized with the rain. We also went around  establishing The Republic of Toiletstan, an interesting country were the currency is high fives.

Hitchhiking to Osaka

When the rain parted we begun our hitchhiking, again. We were picked up in 30 minutes by a German  gentleman called Stephan, a master brewer. What are the chances! Unfortunately for us he didn’t have any of his fine brew with him, as has been to an Oktoberfest. He offered us a lift to Fuji, whilst en route when we explained that we where interested in climbing Mount Fuji. Instead of dropping us in Fuji he then turned back to drop us off in a small town called Gotemba. Stephan explained that Gotemba was one of the starting locations to walk up Mount Fuji.

Gotemba!

Stephan had dropped us right in the centre of Gotemba leaving us with no real idea of what part of Japan we where in, we searched for a tourist information to see what was to happening around town.   and when we worked out he had also dropped us off right next to the tourist information. Thank you Stephan for the ride and for going out of your way.

train-japan
Photo by André Correia.

The lady at the tourist information told us to stay away from Fuji as it was out of season for tourists, as much as I wanted to climb the mountain we didn’t have the right gear. On the other had we found out about a campsite at the base of another mountain and that there was a small Japanese festival starting in a few hours.

Festivities Japanese style

The festival started with a group of young drummers, who put on more of a show rather than just music for everyone to enjoy. The combinations of the different drums was incredible especially when some of the children were around 12.

Next up on the stage some kids entertainment, which was quite interesting a superhero and villains sketch. With a super surprising ending. Yes our hero won! At the end of the show I was stood watching everyone, children and adults alike surrounded the stage. To then have all of the performers and what I believe was the mayor throwing sweets in to the crowd.

Festival-Japan
Photo by André Correia.

Night time, a time for drifting

Reluctantly, we had to leave the festival and head off to our campsite. A 4.5km walk out of Gotemba up a mountain, as we walked out of town we saw and heard a lot of drift cars heading out on to the motorway and in to the mountains. We headed further out of town climbing all the way, were we discovered an old windmill over looking the town below.
When we finally arrived at the campsite we discovered it was hmm. A bit fancy for us and we also needed to book in advance. So off we headed again to find somewhere to stay for the night luckily for us our Maps.me showed that there was a car park/viewing point just up the road.
It was a great place to camp for the night, with toilets and a good view of Mount Fuji.

windmill-adventure
Photo by André Correia.

As we were relaxing charging everything up in the local toilets, a couple of drift cars pulled in to the car park and started to jack their cars. Us being slightly mechanical minded we went and offered our assistance.
After much confusion between languages, we worked out that they raising the suspension.  After everything was sorted and the wheels back on, asked  go for drive with them which they where more than happy to do so.

The Crash…

As many people do my driver thought that it would be a good idea to show off to is new friend, in this instance me. All was good to begin with however, after a mile and a half we raced around a corner at 80kph (50mph) sideways. We ended up in a metal barrier, very lucky really, if there was no barrier we would be been rolling down the mountain side.
After trying to start the car a few times, he gave up and  we pulled his car out of the barrier. Instead we inspected the damage to discover that it was fairly serve and called up André who was having a much better time with his driver.
There was a lot of damage to the right had side of the car, including the inter-cooler and headlights. We tried

to start the car with no luck. Unfortunately on these cars the inter-cooler is essential for them to run. Luckily for us though the drifters were out in force and it wasn’t long before, 4 cars hand stopped to lend a hand. Including one kind chap who gave us a lot electrical tap. With which and time a few hours we managed to fix his car, well in such a way he could drive it home. And give us a lift back to our camp for us to get some sleep.

Until tomorrow or check out what we happened yesterday.

Adventure

The end for 2015, the adventures of 2016

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The end is nigh for 2015, however 2016 is now here! Looking back at pictures, postcards and bits of film, it has been an interesting year to say the least. There have been many adventures, some big changes and I have met some amazing people. It has been a year of enlightenment, a year I would like to call the light bulb year! I have personally found that thing that makes me really itch and what to get up and go. Yes you might have guessed this blog is very much involved in that idea.

Well the Mongol Rally to start probably the biggest thing that happened this year. What an adventure it was driving for 2 months in a 1l Micra to Mongolia and back. This was the start, of what is to become the start of many more adventures in the near future. Some big, some small and out right mad!

He is just a quick list of some of the adventures that I am undertaking in 2016, I am sure that there will be many more spontaneous adventures;

Taking on the world and writing a documentary on how to get on the road, read more about the Biking Adventure.

Changing the two wheels for four and taking the world in Storm with the Global Convoy.

A different kind of adventure: a mental and organisational nightmare – like the Global Convoy isn’t. Organising the first Dartmoor Walking Festival which despite being at the end of August already has a full programme.

Stay tuned for many more adventures in 2016. What adventures do you have planned in 2016?