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Cappadocia guided tour

Turkey 2014

large_1297706_14058815601833.jpgThis year I booked a very cheap tour Cappadocia [Cappadocia-travel-guide-1315376] Turkey, not knowing what to expect for so
little money. Turned out to be a very nice trip! It was a very large group, big bus full and then two busses more but we didn’t consider them our group. About 40 people, I don’t know exactly, don’t know all their names and I thought it
was up to the tour guide to make sure everyone is there before leaving a site, and he did! Our guide knew a lot of history and stories about Turkey and Cappadocia which made the 600 km trip inland pretty interesting. Two days of
the trip were to travel to - en later on back from Cappadocia on which we visited the Sultanhan-Keravanserai and the other day Mevlana Museum.large_1297706_14058815614051.jpg

We had a pretty full program, no days off in between and hardly any free time during the days, only a few evenings but then there was rain so we couldn’t do much more than sit in the hotel lobby and chat. We visited most of the major sites in Cappadocia, the deserted city of Selve, Pasabag and the valley of the monks, the red valley with its beautiful fairy chimneys, Göreme with the many rock churches, the underground city of Kaymakli [Kaymakli-travel-guide-609714], at most of these sites I would have liked to have more time to look around. At Mevlana museum on the other hand I had more than enough time, it’s just that everyone has a different taste and to keep 40 people happy you have to mediate. In Selve for instance we got an hour to walk around, but the city is spread over three valleys so I just ran from one point to another and when I saw the things I definably wanted to see I found out times up, Göreme and the red valley same thing.large_1297706_14058815615263.jpg

I was very happy when we got the opportunity to do the ballooning, and even more happy when we actually got the wakeup call in the middle of the night, because one morning earlier they cancelled all flights due to strong winds. Yes, I can strip that one off my bucket list, but given the chance I would do it again! I think it’s a must when you visit Cappadocia!

On the last evening in Cappadocia we went to an Turkish night, for other groups it was a dinner show, but we’ve already had dinner so just snacks and drinks for us. It’s a real tourist thing, they show some local dances, get the public to participate and a kind of disco party in the end. I liked the dancing dervishes but as our guide told us a few minutes is enough, I’m glad we didn’t get a Dervish night, I think I would have fallen asleep after 15 minutes or so.large_1297706_14058815621919.jpg The
belly dancer was nice as well, she took some stiff looking guys from the audience and let them copy some of her moves, hilarious! All in all it was nothing really special, but I had fun. For me the big no-no of the night was the pictures they took at the beginning of the evening were printed on a plastic plate: please buy! No way I want my face on a plate, specially not a plastic one!

Back in the Antalya region we also visited the roman sites Perge [perge-travel-guide-1326571] and Aspendos, at Perge again too little time to really explore the site. I think if they had a Travbuddy site in roman times, Hadrianus (Hadrian) would have been on it, that guy travelled the hole empire!

As I expected there also were some ‘have to include in tour‘ shopping things, a tapestry with some explanation on the technics, a leather shop with a runway show and a jewelry with, well, just annoying personnel.large_1297706_14058815624554.jpg

Antalya’s harbor area is nice but the bazaar is a bit disappointing. Lots of newlyweds today, all doing their photo-shoot in the small streets near the harbor. The waterfall was very nice, but I’ve seen so many already.

Our last trip before going home or for some going to another hotel to have some relax time on the beach, was a boat trip. Again, think I’m spoiled. I didn’t think it was that special, the only special thing was the small strip of beach separating the river from the sea. It still was a nice boat trip with a nice lunch.

I must say this trip made me curious about the rest of Turkey, don’t think I’ll take the cheap tour next time, although everything was well organized I would like to do Turkey in my own pace next time.

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Posted by Stefmuts 06:45 Archived in Turkey Tagged landscapes nature culture sightseeing natural_wonder Comments (0)

Chorepani circle trek

Nepal 2013

large_1297706_140145978276.jpg5 day hike in the Himalayas

When? October 2013

Whom? A group of 24 travelers with travel company ‘shoe string’ , two local guides and a bunch of Sherpa’s

Day 1:

Everyone had to re-arrange their luggage at the hotel as we can only pack 1 backpack per 2 persons. Quick breakfast and off we go

We leave by bus from Pokhara [Pokhara-travel-guide-1138426] for the starting point of the trek at Ghorepani [Ghorepani-travel-guide-1333327]. We buy some snacks and soft drinks to go and then we start walking, one guide up front and one in the back to make sure the group stays complete.

Across the bridge, we must wait until the Guide has arranged our permits for the trek.large_1297706_14014597833506.jpg Everyone had to provide two passport photos for that. After a bit we could continue

First part of the trail is relatively flat, as far as anything’s flat in Nepal. After just a few hours it’s tea time. We have to pre-order our lunch (fried rice or noodles) so the guide makes a list and gives it to one of the Sherpa’s who rushes off to get it to the next stop in time.

After the lunch we get a taste of what lies before us, lots and lots of steps! We pass small villages and rice fields, all cuddled up against the mountains. Everything here is a complete difference to Kathmandu [Kathmandu-travel-guide-1138212] city, clean air, threes, mountains, and best of all, no cars or motorbikes. Supply is done by donkey or is simply worn by locals on their backs.

First guest house is a nice one with hot and cold shower.large_1297706_14014597849924.jpg As we all prepared for the worst this felt like luxury. The restaurant has a pretty extensive menu, I thought it would be 5 days of ‘Dahl bath’.

Day 2:

Today a lot of steps ahead, beautiful sceneries, magical forests, picturesque villages, but most of all, lots of steps. Our guesthouse today is Hilltop and is located directly on the route up Poon Hill.

After installing our sleeping bags and taking a shower we settle around the big stove with hot chocolate and apple pie

Day 3:

Getting up really early to go up Poon Hill. As I’m sipping my tea I can see other hikers walking by our guesthouse, or at least the lights they are carrying. No breakfast this early, we’ll come back to the guesthouse for breakfast after the sunrise on Poon Hill. We join the row of people going up and just before sunrise we reach the top of Poon Hill at 3210 mtrs.large_1297706_14014597858094.jpg It’s crowded on Poon Hill, everyone wants to see this. It’s also very cold, IJS OP M’N PET as a group member stated (translation: Ice on my hat) Thank god I did buy those mittens in Kathmandu, I nearly didn’t.

I thought the worst part was over now we only have to walk down to the starting point in another 2,5 days.

Back at Hilltop guesthouse finally our breakfast, help me remember to never ever start walking on an empty stomach again !!!

The next part of the trek is ‘Nepali flat’ again, only now It’s a bit more downhill than uphill. Again beautiful views, forests, views on Annapurna mountain, we didn’t have to go all the way up Poon Hill for that.

Today’s guesthouse is Fishtail, named after the mountain which is actually called Machupuchare but looks like a fishtail and there are some nice stories about this holy mountain.large_1297706_14014597856086.jpg

Day 4:

Breakfast on a sunny terrace with a beautiful mountain view, thick coats on though.

Today mostly downhill. We all know you should hold the same pace as going uphill, but as many do, we go faster so at the end of the day our muscles start to hurt. One girl sprained her ankle but not too bad and close to the next guest house.

Because of the festival there was a party this evening, we joined of course!

Day 5:

Last part of the trek, only a few hours to go. The girl with the sprained ankle was able walk although it was painful. We knew we were nearly at the end of the trek when we saw cars again.

Our guide had to check out our permits and then on the bus back to Pokhara

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Posted by Stefmuts 00:02 Archived in Nepal Tagged landscapes mountains nature culture trekking Comments (0)

Off the beaten track

SA 2012

large_1297706_14094098787880.jpgLater that day 13 of us were ready to go, we were stuffed in al small bus, very cosy! And off we went to Elijahs village. At the entrance off the lodge the local venders ignored our little bus thinking we were just other locals, you could read the surprise on their faces as they realized it were tourist in that bus. At Elijahs village we watched a soccer game, his local team against the next village. After the game he walked us around the village, telling us about life here and pointing things out like the 'rondels' wich are the homes built for their deceased relatives, and the toilet building called room number 100. We were invited to take a look in one of the homes, plastic on the furniture to keep it clean and theelectricity meater were they have to put money in to get electricity. The local girls demonstrated singing and dancing and of course we had to participate, wich was hylarious! In the meantime it was getting late, Elijah wanted to show us so much more but we had to get back to the lodge before dark, wich we didn't manage anyway. Our tourguide wasn't mad about that though.

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Posted by Stefmuts 03:21 Archived in South Africa Tagged people culture sightseeing Comments (0)

Zulu petroglyphs and Elijahs phonenumber

SA 2012

large_1297706_14094097144839.jpgWhile on an guided tourthrough South Africa we (a group of 24 tourists)stay a few days in a lodge in the area drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal. Of course, a visit to the Zulu petroglyphs in the mountains is on the program. Our local guide there is Elijah who keeps reminding us that Zulu people are proud people ! He's a great guide, we have some elderly people in our group and we had to hike a bit to the rock with the petroglyphs. He waited several times to get the group complete again and used the time to point out flowers, trees, the monkey's on the hillside and answer our silly tourisic questions. At the end of the tour Elijah told us he also does tours to his own village, if we were interested we could call the number on the sign at the bus parking. We wrote it down, seemed to us like a nice thing to do later that day when we had some time off. A couple of us really wanted to do that so we asked our guide to call and make the appointment. At first he didn't want to but when we threatened to do it ourselfs he changed his mind and made the appointment for the afternoon.

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Posted by Stefmuts 05:14 Archived in South Africa Tagged landscapes mountains culture petroglyphs Comments (0)

Short tour Swaziland

Swaziland 2012

large_1297706_14190879114291.jpgHere we got the nice stamp!On our South Africa tour we had an overnight stop in the kingdom of Swaziland. We arrived at the border and had to cross it on foot, a slow process but we all got a nice stamp in our passport. Meanwhile the bus was checked for I don't know what. On the other side the whole group could get on the bus again and we were on our way again. At first stop there were the obvious souvenir stalls, locals were carving the wooden statues on the site which is nice.

Lunch was at a sewing workshop, I wanted a small flagg as a souvenir but our guide thought it better to let them make me one since he thought it was the only way to get something like this here. So we went inside, explained wat I meant and the lady started to work. I had a not typical Swazi lunch (tuna sandwich) And as the group was getting ready to get moving again I went back to the sewing workshop to see how my flagg was doing.large_1297706_14190879135162.jpg Almost ready, almost ready! Well, in the end I left with half a flagg, they didn't want me to pay for it because it was not finished but I paid for it anyway, they tried their best!

We spent the night at Maguga Lodge and of course we checked out the Maguga Dam! It's not a Dam for electricity, just a big water reservoir. At the lodge we suffered from another power outage (We had them just about everywhere!) The weather was really bad, thunder & lightning and really heavy rain. Next morning all was forgotten.

Today we started with a visit to a glassworks factory, we did the tour which ofcourse ended in the souvenir shop.

Coffe break with more souvenir stalls, and then a candle factory. Did the tour and ofcourse this too ended in the souvenir shop.

Lunch at a lodge restaurant, the lodge was a traditional village, we could take a look (and did so!) at the 'rooms'. I wouldn't have mind to stay here one night! Not for big people though!

In the afternoon we crossed the border to South Africa again

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Posted by Stefmuts 07:03 Archived in Swaziland Tagged people nature sightseeing Comments (0)

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