Posts Tagged ‘Camping’

11th October
written by Justin


  1. Elephant herd crossing the water - Chobe Natl Park, Botswana
  2. Feeling CLOSE to the animals on our Walking Safari - Mosi-oa-tunya, Zambia
  3. Finally getting the hang of mokoro driving – Okovango Delta, Botswana
  4. Camping out really made us feel like we were on an adventure!
  5. Lots of really cool people and animals accompanied us the whole time!


  1. Four whole days doing nothing but travel.
  2. Poor communication between our guide and Acacia Small Groups – this directly caused delays and low group morale.
  3. Getting lost on the way to the first night’s lodge — after 12 hours on the road
  4. Constant equipment issues.  We constantly had issues with tent zippers breaking and other people had to sleep in fleece blankets one night before sleeping bags were found!
  5. Livingstone sales pitch video for overpriced activities.  This sales pitch lasted for an hour and caused other members of the group to miss out on things – The Waterfront, Zambia
7th October
written by Hazel

Once we had the camp set up we got to start relaxing.  I found this to be a very laid back part of the trip.  Mornings and evenings we got to go on walks on our beautiful island.  We saw some animals (although nothing as spectacular as in Chobe) and enjoyed the landscape.  It was so nice to get some solid hiking in after spending a lot of time in vehicles!  We saw zebra, lots of kinds of antelope, elephants, hippo, lots of birds, and a snake in the big tree IN OUR CAMPSITE.

Island Scenery

Island Scenery

We hiked around a giant baobab tree near the camp

We hiked around a giant baobab tree near the camp


4th October
written by Justin

We were so thrilled to see so much at Chobe that we were really sad to leave.  Fortunately the next part of our safari was to be a similarly awesome (though quite different) experience.  We were headed into the Okovango Delta (after another day’s worth of driving) – a place that is unique in the world for both its ecology and its culture.

En Route - Early and Cold

En Route - Early and Cold

The Okovango Delta is the world’s largest inland delta – it is a huge area whose geography changes with the seasons.  In the low season, it behaves much like a normal river plain would – grasses and a few river channels (along with wild animals) can be found then.  But in high-water seasons (We were there in August which has a high water level) the islands sink under water and become marshes separated by hundreds of small islands. (more…)

17th September
written by Hazel

We had a great first night camping and slept really well in the nice, sandy campground.

First Safari Campground

First Safari Campground

We had to get up really early, but it meant that we got to see a beautiful sunrise before breakfast!

African Sunrise

African Sunrise

Right after breakfast we got going because we needed to finish driving through Botswana and get into Zambia this day.  The landscape wasn’t that interesting, but we did see a little wildlife before we made it to the Kazungula Ferry that crosses into Zambia.


15th September
written by Justin
HUGE Termite Mound

Huge Termite Mound

After our time in Hermanus, we had a day where we just did mostly nothing and got caught up with laundry and other things, because then we headed back to Joburg for our overland SAFARI into Botswana and Zambia!  We were super stoked, even though we had to fly to Johannesburg, stay one night, and immediately hop back into the car for a long drive.  But it was worth it!  Nobody ever said that it would be easy to be on safari.  We booked our night at the Backpackers Ritz, which seemed to be affiliated with our safari company, Acacia Africa.  We were happy with the hostel; they upgraded us from a 2-person room and a dorm bed to a room that could fit all of us and helped us to order food from Nando’s (my favorite South African chain restaurant).  We didn’t see too much of it because we left the next morning at 5am to embark on our safari! (more…)

13th March
written by Justin


Check out Part 1 here!

Having awakened in camp fully rested, we had a nice breakfast of (you guessed it) oatmeal. However, we had a stroke of genius – prepare it using some of the apple flavored drink powder that’s left over from our water bottles! It was surprisingly good , given that we were just throwing apple sugar on top. Being equipped with our apple juices, we set off for the magnificent Valle Frances, the middle leg of the “W”. This is a day hike of about 3 hours each way, up from the valley floor to a mirador in the center of a circle of mountains.

10th March
written by Justin

You might think that a two-day horse expedition was enough. We might have been ambitious to think otherwise, but in fact we began our next adventure on the same day that we had our second horse ride. We decided to trek in the Torres del Paine national park, a very famous place in Chile with some spectacular alpine and glacial scenery. However, one does not simply hike for a few hours in Torres del Paine! The park itself is a 2-hour drive from the nearest town (Puerto Natales) and is too large and varied to see even a fraction in a few hours. So we decided to do a 5 day trek instead!

El Mapa

El Mapa - The "W"

Before we departed for horseback riding, we made some preparations. Our backpacks are a perfect size for us, but our stuff is more appropriate for sleeping in hostels than for camping. We rented some of the equipment that we needed at “The Erratic Rock”, a hostel run by some Canadian ex-pats that runs an informational talk (in English) and rental shop.


10th December
written by Hazel

We’ve been busy since the last post!  Unfortunately we’ve both had colds, but they are pretty mild and haven’t slowed us down much.

Highlights include (in chronological order):

Hike from Hahei to Cathedral Cove.  This hike was in the rain, so we didn’t get any pictures, but the scenery was fabulous.

Exploring Karangahake Gorge.  This gorge was mined heavily and is full of ruins of mines and tunnels they’ve restored for people to explore.  It is also very beautiful.

The Gorge

Mining Tunnel Window

Exploring Tunnels

Orange Rocks!

We went on a hike that was along an old mining pipe and it reminded us of the old computer game Myst.

Follow the pipe

Bridge from the Mines

Camping at Matata DOC camp (I had the Lion King stuck in my head all night).

Exploring Lake Okataina and hiking up the Whakapoungakau Trig.  This was a pretty steep climb, but we got awesome views across the lakes.

Beautiful Lake View

View from the Top

Camping at Kakaho DOC Camp.  When we arrived here we thought we didn’t have the right change for a campsite so we asked some other campers if they could make change.  They let us know that a whole 4-wheeler club was coming in to the (at that time completely empty) campground and told us that 500 meters on there was another campsite.  We went to check it out and had it completely to ourselves, creek and all.


Jumping in the creek instead of a morning shower – this was COLD!

We drove into Taupo (a fairly large town) today to do laundry, get our pictures uploaded and so on.

We’re getting into the hang of living from the van.  It’s well equipped with kitchen tools and our little stove is great for making rice, baked beans, grilled cheese, tea, and the like.  We also have a little cold box that refrigerates our veggies and cheese and chocolate.  The bed is comfy and it’s quite cozy in there.

Driving on the left is not really a problem anymore, so we’re just cruising around taking in the sights.

Thanks to everyone who has left us comments.  We read them all and really appreciate keeping in touch with everyone at home!  I’ll add photos when they finish uploading.

8th December
written by Hazel

So the good news is that I already have lots of awesome adventures to write about.  The bad news is that the internet I’m using will not allow any uploads, so pictures will have to wait for now.

Our first night in Auckland we were feeling pretty tired, but we stumbled out of the hostel and found a fun little brewpub type place which had some good live music.  Kind of like being back in Seattle!  They also had a deal where if you bought dinner they gave you a discount on beer – genius! 

The next morning we got organized and then headed back to the airport to pick up our van.  It was absolutely terrifying driving on the left to begin with, but we did some practice courses in a quiet area and then set off.  We found supplies at a giant supermarket and then headed for Thames which is on the Coromandel Peninsula.  Justin was a superstar and got us there without a hitch.  Once there we stopped at the info center (these are all over the place in New Zealand and make it really easy to figure out where to go) and then decided to drive up into the hills to a Department of Conservation (DOC) campsite.  It was a long gravel road, but completely worth it because the campground was almost empty and in an absolutely stunning place.  We had a short walk and swam in a perfect river.  The only downside was the mosquitos, which I’m quickly learning to hate.

Today we drove up the coast to the town of Coromandel and stopped for Justin to sample some fresh oysters (he said they were wonderful!), I was brave and tried mussels for the first time and was pleasantly surprised.  The scenery driving up the coast was INCREDIBLE and there are beautiful places to stop everywhere.  There are also birds everywhere and it’s fun because we don’t recognize so many of them.  We kept on driving until we got to the Hot Water Beach.  At low tide this beach has one area that if you dig an inch or so down hot water comes out of the sand.  So people go there at low tide and make wallowing pools.  We were lucky because we hit the timing perfectly and were able to soak on the beach.  It was a fun contrast because the weather was cold and damp, but the pools were so warm.  Some of the sand was too hot to touch.

Tonight we’re staying at Hahei and tomorrow we will go to the Cathedral Cove and then head south again.  Thank goodness I’m getting better at this tricky driving thing, because there is a lot to see!

I’ll get photos up as soon as I can!

19th November
written by Hazel

On Wednesday my mom flew down from Seattle to spend some time with us before we leave.  Since she’s always wanted to see Yosemite, I hatched a plan for us to go out there for a night.  We had an awesome time hiking and seeing the sights, and now I have some actual travel to blog about.  It was very special for me to go back to Yosemite, because almost exactly a year ago Justin proposed to me there.

She got into the San Jose airport (after a minor delay) in the middle of the day and we headed straight to the park.  The drive was fairly uneventful, although there was some crazy smoke/smog/fog around Merced.  It was like driving with really dirty windows.  It disappeared once we got into the mountains though and we managed to make it to the park just after sunset.

Half Dome at Sunset as we Arrived

We stayed in a heated tent cabin in the Curry Village Campground and even though it got down to about 27 degrees Fahrenheit we were fairly warm and comfy all night.

Mom at the Pizza Place for Dinner

Me Excited with the Map

Inside our Cosy Tent Cabin

Reviews online were pretty mixed about this campground – apparently, it can be noisy, spiders have been sighted, and the blankets are wool so they are itchy.  We really liked it.  It’s right next to Half Dome, has hot water, heaters, and the beds were pretty comfortable.  It also has a handy bear locker right outside your tent so you can keep all your food from being stolen by a bear.  Apparently bears are a pretty huge problem as they break into cars and tents to get at the people food.  We didn’t see one though.

Our Cute Cabin

We were up with the sun at about 6 a.m. and started out on a hike right away.  The first stop was Mirror Lake and we got some sweet views along the way.  You can click on any of these pictures for a bigger version.

Yosemite Falls at Sunrise

Frozen Meadow with Fall Colors

Exploring the Trails

It was very, very cold, but very, very beautiful.  This was my first chance to check out how my trip clothes would perform in really cold weather and I’m glad to say, it went very well.  I brought an extra scarf and mittens, but aside from that I got by just with layering things from my backpack.  Good to know that I can be ok hiking at those kinds of temperatures with the clothes I’m planning on bringing!

Reflections in Mirror Lake

Around 10 a.m. we were starving so we splurged and had the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Ahwahnee Hotel.  So yummy and I definitely ate too much.  But after several cups of coffee and at least 5 pieces of bacon I was ready to hike again!

We checked out the gift shop:

Dancing bear?!

And the Visitors’ Center (this had some really good exhibits):


And then headed to the waterfalls.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

According to the Visitors’ Center these are the highest falls in the U.S.  and are usually dried up at this time of year.  We were lucky to have awesome views of them and I spent a lot of time taking pictures.  In fact, most of the rest of the day was spent hiking around this area and snapping photos of the incredible views.  It’s really hard to decide which ones to post since I got a lot of good shots.  Hopefully in a day or two we will have worked out how to get photo galleries up and then I can post them all and not clutter up my blog posts as much.  But, because I like them, here are a few more of my Yosemite shots:

Upper Yosemite Falls

Beautiful Fall Leaves


Half Dome

El Capitan

I’ll try to put the rest up in a gallery soon.  Today is a frantic getasmuchworkdoneonthehouseaspossible day, so I’d better get to it.