Hiking in Our Back Yard

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It has been said that Parisians do not visit the Eiffel tower and that Manhattans do not bike across the Brooklyn Bridge in the morning mist. Visitors do.

Now, our little Sunday hike destination is not quite the Eiffel Tower or the Brooklyn Bridge, but the point remains the same – one tends not to go see, do and visit one’s own back yard. Being back in full swing at work and such, our time is limited and we have started exploring our local surroundings. Continue reading

Last Weekend in Canada – For Now

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We spent our last weekend in Canada – for now – in Banff. The occasion was originally the Banff Food and Wine Festival, but as it turned out it was also the fabulous weather, hikes, friends and family. That being said, we also enjoyed our share of food and wine! Continue reading

Icefields Parkway

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The drive from Jasper to Banff, through the Canadian Rockies, is one of the most beautiful drives in the world. According to the Icefields Parkway’s own website: “This is more that just traveling a mountain road; it’s a journey of the self and a celebration of protected wilderness grandeur.” I guess I can agree with that!

1. A Map

We stopped a number of times along the way. The first stop was at The Hike of Five Lakes. It is an fun, easy hike that goes by five different lakes all with different colors, beautiful. In the parking lot, we met a German couple who had just bought their vehicle and were on their way South. South as in South America! We exchanged stories and advice and gave them our Spanish textbook, some left over Costa Rican money and wished them a fantastic journey!

1. Hike of Five Lakes

2. Five Lakes

3. Trail

Not many people were on the road, so we mostly had it to ourselves. Beautiful, grand, spectacular – What more can one say!?

4. Icefield Parkway

5. Road

6. Honey Tanning

7. Mountains

8. Icy Lake

9. Taking it in

The Alaskan Dream on Skilak Lake

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The next stop on our Great Alaskan Adventure was a trip to a real, legitimate, no nonsense back country lodge. The lodge is located on Skilak Lake on the Kenai Peninsula and is surrounded by one million acres of designated wilderness! It is only accessible by boat and was built in the 1930’s as a hunting lodge. Today, it serves as a wonder-destination for people who want to experience true Alaskan beauty and wilderness. The season has not yet started, but knowing Brent, we were let into this little piece of paradise pre-season.

Continue reading

In Search of a Volcano

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When we were in La Fortuna, we (the Norwegian mountain goats + the Canuck) were overly keen to check out the famous Arenal volcano. Previously unbeknownst to us, due to past activity, the peak is completely shut for hikers. We drove up to the national park anyway, parked and started on the hike with our backpacks on. About 30 minutes in, we had reached the lava flow from the 1994 eruption and the grand finale of the hike. We snapped some photos, smiled, jumped, hiked around a couple hours and started talking about where to go to really see a volcano!

Siri Honey Arenal

Arenal volcano

Arenal Bloom

Arenal nature

Arenal volcano1

So what did we do? – Well, we did some research, changed our plan and drove to San Jose, yet again! According to our research, nearby Irazu volcano is Costa Rica’s highest volcano at 3432 meters above sea level. Also, there is a road that takes you all the way to the top with little or no effort other than patting your poor vehicle’s dash every now and then on the way up the hill. We set off early this morning after a 6 am breakfast and made it to the top of Irazu by 8:45 am.

Irazu volcano climb

Irazu volcano

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Irazu volcano1

Irazu volcano3

Irazu Siri Kyler

Irazu happy jump

Irazu drive down

Full score on Irazu volcano! We got up in (fairly) thin air, we got to see some serious volcanic craters and weird landscapes and we had a great day. The drive is pretty steep, but the road is in great condition. After parking, one can hike the summit and do a loop by two craters. We did it all! Half a day later, we had checked the volcano search off the list and were getting ready for another funlovingliving adventure: A classic Latin American football derby. Stay tuned!

Last of the Caribbean – Really!

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As I mentioned earlier, we are now traveling with my dad and his girlfriend, Bente. They have almost four weeks to spend in Costa Rica, so we figured we wanted to show them both coast. This past week in the Puerto Viejo area was nothing but great! The sun was shining, the sky was blue, it was hot and we were all happy. We stayed at the same place as we did the week before – Cabinas Yemanya. Due to late booking, we had to move around a bit. Nobody complained and Kyler and I were happy to sleep in Honey a couple nights.

The days were (mostly) spent in active ways. We went hiking, biking, surfing and swimming. With the beautiful weather, the true blue Caribbean color came out. Many different shades of it. The water is absolutely crystal clear and a wonderful temperature. The sand is hot and the beaches close to deserted. Did anybody say paradise?

Team

Since we had already spent a week in the area, we knew where to take our guests! We biked to Manzanillo and went on the adventure hike we did with Sergio a week earlier.

Balancing Act

Out of cave

The hike involves getting across this gap to get to the final destination – the cave!

Siri Strong

In between, I was busy holding up a rock. It sure was heavy!

Coco

Cold coconut water (pipa fria, as it is called) never tastes better than right after a hike!

Coco2

Sleeping monkey

If you want to chill, just claim you palm like this guy.

Caribbean blue

Siri pappa beach

Smile1

So, we smiled! In the evenings, we have been treated to some delicious food and drink. Not an everyday occasion in a traveler’s life. After dinner one night, we invited family and friends over for wine in Honey’s living room. Isn’t it cozy?

Van night

Manzanillo Adventure Tour

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When we arrived at our cabin for the week, we found a flyer advertising a four hour intense adventure tour. Hiking, snorkeling and kayaking in a matter of four hours! We signed right up!

We started the Saturday morning by biking the 8 km to Manzanillo, where the tour was to take place. Sergio, our guide, met us and warned us that this would be a workout! The bike ride was a good warm up (and wake up) to get us going.

Hiking was number one on the schedule. We were taken through Manzanillo wildlife refuge – a beautiful, natural area. The highlight of the hike was a cave that Sergio took us to. It was fairly difficult to enter the cave, as waves were splashing, rocks were slippery and a reasonable gap had to be traversed. The cave was approximately 10x10m complete with a hole to the sky above, a hole to the water beneath and bats hanging out sleeping.

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manzanillo wildlife refuge1

manzanillo wildlife refuge

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We continued to the beach, where snorkeling was up next! I am known to be a fast walker. I like to get places. Sergio likes it even more! He is quick. In between events, he would walk to get an extra kayak, before paddling it over to us and returning it right after. He would always be a few steps ahead, always keen. We had some really fun, intense four hours, before biking back to our cabin, where we could enjoy the pleasure of hammocks and Caribbean life – Tranquilo!

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Destination: Waterfall, The Panamanian Highland

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From fun in the sun at Playa Venao for the past week, we decided to head for the hills. Santa Fe is a smaller mountain village boasting stunning nature, hikes and a cooler climate. The drive was a mere 233 km North.

Playa Venao Santa Fe map

Cowboy and cattle on road

Kids in the backseat

Mountain road

In order to really see the area, we decided to go on a medium length (5-6 hrs) hike through nature and a few villages. The ultimate destination was a waterfall called Bermejo. It can be viewed at the very top of the Santa Fe map below. The area is off the main tourist trail and we were therefore four out of very few visitors in town. On our hike we only met locals, and they are as friendly as can be!

Santa Fe map

Siri Ellie hike

Ellie mud crossing

Cascada Bermejo was a beautiful waterfall with several smaller pools below. The water was definitely what can be considered frisk, but made for a refreshing dip after hiking in the sun. Kyler and Todd explored what could be explored, including scaling down a cliff with a bat flying between Todd’s legs at the end!

Kyler Todd monkey business

Siri Todd Kyler testing the depth

Siri Ellie laxin

Santa Fe hike view

Plants close up

Hike horses

Panama house

A lone star

Flowers close up

On our way back to Santa Fe, we met these two kids who really wanted our attention. First, they showed us a dead snake in the stream by the road. When we had looked at that for a while, you could tell they were trying to think of something else to show and tell us about. Oh, look at the chicken guts over here! We came and we saw, before we said our goodbyes and continued on.

Looking at

The road back was very hilly. We slalomed down the hills for a while.
Towards the end, the hills were so steep we walked backwards. It helped!

Last hill to Santa Fe

As we arrive in Santa Fe, we found the one and only bar in town and had one, two, three, four well deserved beers. Not bad when the beers are 65 cents each! Cheers!

Deserved beers