Tag Archives: adventure

Tungurahua

A couple months ago, I visited South America for the first time…Ecuador, to be exact.

While there, I was able to visit the city of Baños with my cousins.  It’s a small city nestled in the Andean highlands and is home to some awesome views of Tungurahua, one of South America’s most active volcanos.  Okay, this going to sound extremely naive and stupid, but I was hoping for a bit of smoke and lava to spew forth from the crater while I was there.  Actually, I was assuming I was going to be able to see some action.  Oh, the naivety of a northern city girl, where all I have to worry about is an occasional tornado in a nearby county.  I burn with shame.  …I digress…

Tungurahua

The day we left Baños, the sky was clear and the view of the volcano was perfect

Anyhow, a couple weeks after I returned home, Tungurahua started showing some activity.  And, yes, when I heard the news, I was quite disappointed that I missed it.  It truly would have been the visits of firsts.  First time in South America.  First time bungee jumping.  First time experiencing an earthquake (from the eighth floor of an apartment building).

There are about a million different tourist companies in Baños (intended exaggeration here…if you go there or you’ve been there before, you’ll know what I’m talking about).  So, my cousins and I saw a advertisement, which in essence was showcasing a place where we could see the volcano better.  We went up this mountain side.  On the top, there was a makeshift treehouse with a swing, and an older looking house with a few fenced in chickens.  The cloud cover was thick, but the swing was great entertainment.  Seriously, you swing over the side of the mountain.  Nice thrill, at least for the first few swoops over the hundreds of feet below.  I admit it, I screamed my first swoosh out.

The treehouse and the swing...and, yeah, those impenetrable clouds

The treehouse and the swing...and, yeah, those impenetrable clouds

Thank God, during our time up there, the clouds broke over the top of the volcano, so we could snap a couple of shots.  And then it was gone…

The top of Tungurahua

Tungurahua was visible only for a few moments

Oh, and I must say, our taxi driver was amazing.  He stuck around the entire time, in fact, I think he kind of enjoyed watching us and hanging around.  He was very pleasant and friendly.  Kudos to him for making our time up there even better!

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New Zealand Underground

I’ve not had any kind of desire to go inside of a cave for the longest time.  In fact, I’ve never been in a cave.  I confess, I am petrified of bats.  In my mind, caves equal bats.  Pretty much all I can picture are the leathery winged creatures hanging upside down on the ceiling of a cave, and when spooked they will all start flapping about and I will inevitably find myself in the pathway of one (or even worse, more than one).  That’s just an unpleasant thought.

On that note, I came across this pretty amazing cave in New Zealand.  Looks like it would be an awesome experience.  So awesome that I would consider throwing aside my inhibitions about caves just to go in this particular one.

Waitomo Adventures 

www.waitomo.co.nz/

Located in northern New Zealand, the Waitomo Caves are an underground marvel that every capable body should experience.  It’s a breathtaking beauty, a subterranean wonderland.  Looking at the landscape above the caves, no one would be able to guess that a beautiful underworld is waiting to be discovered.

How can you go about to partake of such beauty and adventure?

Waitomo Adventures offer a variety of guided tours through the cave.  A couple of them would fall underneath the “extreme” category; however, I vote that everyone needs a little “extreme” in their life.

You are able to go on trips through the cave with guides which include ziplining, tubing, rappelling, not to mention an encounter with glowworms.  These guys are the stars of the underworld, cool thing is they don’t stop shining when the sun comes out.

Abseil/Rappel down into a cavern

Abseil/Rappel down into a cavern (photo: http://www.waitomo.co.nz/)

Tubing in a cave? Of course!

Tubing in a cave? Of course! (photo: http://www.waitomo.co.nz/)

You'll definitely get wet during your underground expedition with Waitomo Adventures. But, hey, where's the fun in staying dry the entire time?

You'll definitely get wet during your underground expedition with Waitomo Adventures. But, hey, where's the fun in staying dry the entire time? (photo: http://www.waitomo.co.nz/)

Underground Planetarium...fun fact for the day: the glowworm produces its glow through its waste and mucus. Just thought you should know.

Underground Planetarium...fun fact for the day: the glowworm produces its glow through its waste and mucus.

Take a zipline through St. Benedict's Cavern

Take a zipline through St. Benedict's Cavern and enjoy the beauty (photo: http://www.waitomo.co.nz/)

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Trip of a Lifetime

Mosi-o-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders), also known as Victoria Falls.  It’s the mother of all waterfalls being the largest one out there.  One of the seven natural wonders of the world.  5,604′ wide and 354′ tall, it’s big, need I say more?   The Scottish Christian missionary (also doctor, explorer, and abolitionist), David Livingstone, was the first European to lay eyes on it, and he named it the Victoria Falls in honor of the Queen.  He’s noted for describing the falls as, “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.”  Must have been an awesome experience.

The Victoria Falls

Both Zimbabwe and Zambia have national parks that you can view the Vic Falls from, so it’s really up to you where you want to view them from (I’ve read positive reviews about both sides).  For this post, I have chosen to look at them from the Zambian side.

Before I begin, let me give you a heads up, this will probably be a pricey escape.  Between the plane ticket, hotel room, a visa, and all those extra activities you’ll want to do, it’ll all add up.  But, would it be worth the money?  Probably…it’ll be one of those once in a lifetime experiences and you’ll have the memories for the rest of your life of an amazing trip.

There are a quite a few things to do while enjoying Zambia, the Victoria Falls and the surrounding area.   A few have caught my eye, so I’ll share ’em with you.

1. Bungee Jumping

You’re on the Victoria Falls Bridge.  In the background 120 million gallons of water thunder to the river below.  Forget about Red Bull and Monster, I think plummeting over 360 feet towards the Zambezi River will give you the greatest heart-pounding adrenaline rush you could hope for.

2. River Boarding

Never heard of this, but it looks pretty cool.  You “surf” the rapids of the Zambezi River.  You are not required to have any boarding experience.  As long as you know how to swim , are in shape up to a reasonable level, and you have a ‘go for it’ attitude, you’re all set to go.  Your activity time lasts from a half a day up to a whole day.

They have different seasons of river boarding, high and low water.  You’ll go through a number of rapids, all of which have names.  For example: The Rollercoaster, The Terminator, The Gnashing Jaws of Death, and here’s a good one…The Devil’s Toilet Bowl.

More info at http://www.afrizim.com/activities/livingstone/Riverboard_raft.asp

3. Microlight

Want to get up close and personal with Victoria Falls?  Try a microlight flight.   The aircraft is very small with an open air cockpit.  Once again, Hello, Adrenaline Rush! For those not willing to ‘risk’ life and limb, there are helicopter rides available.  But, really, the microlight pilots are very well-trained, so no worries!  Rides can be anywhere from 15-30 minutes long.  It’s recommended you book your flight first thing in the morning or later in the day to watch the sunset.

Microlight over the falls

If you go to Livingstone Island, you are able to go swimming at the edge of the falls during September-December in a designated area called, Devil’s Pool.  They say the water is pretty calm there.  I’m still not sure about it.  Perhaps it’s taking adventure a little too far?  I don’t know.  Here’s a picture of some people not being swept over…

Dumb or Daring?

The nearest town is Livingstone, and it offers hotels, bed and breakfasts, and resort lodgings.  If you want to take a quick look at some of the available lodgings, Accommodations Direct has put together a nice list of places to stay.

And, that’s all for now, folks!!!

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