As I sit down to write this 2011 Adventure Travel Round up, I am in shock and awe that we really did all these things in a span of 365 days. The other day, Dave was telling his mom about our upcoming trip to Antarctica that we have in January and he said, “It's going to be the trip of a lifetime” to which I replied “We've been having a lot of those lately” as I stopped to pinch myself. Is this really happening?
It is while putting it all down on words that I realized that we just lived a year of adventure travel that I never thought I would have the opportunity to ever do in my life. We left for Fiji last November knowing that we would be going to China afterwards but then, the plans were all up in the air. All we knew was that we were going to fly to Thailand to hang out for a bit because its a cheap place to visit.
It was then the Real Adventures Began.
2011 started off with us studying Muay Thai Kickboxing at Rawai Muay Thai in Phuket. We spent a month boxing, skipping, sparring, visiting an orphanage, learning the wai kru and making new friends.
After a month in Thailand we had to do a visa run to Malaysia so we thought we'd stick around a bit to witness Thaipusam. This festival is an adventure unto itself. Imagine seeing people with spikes through their cheeks, hooks on their back and carrying heavy kavadis on their heads walk by you so close that you could reach out and touch them. It was our second time experiencing Thaipusam and no less thrilling.
We were then back in Thailand doing a great adventure with the Tourism Authority. They sent us on a two week custom itinerary showcasing the great adventures that Thailand has to offer. From rock climbing in Railay to paddling into sea caves of Phuket with high tide rushing in to add to the thrill. We then flew north to take a week long motorcycle journey to the Myanmar border through tea terraces, mountain passes and hill tribe villages. It all rounded off with a mountain bike adventure, elephant safari and longtail boat back to Chiang Rai.
Just when we were trying to figure out what to do next, we received an email from our good friend Melvin on Travel Dudes. “Do you guys want to go to New Zealand?”” I can't do it so I recommended the Adventure Couple!” Do we!
Sadly, the earthquake hit 2 days before we arrived in Christchurch and we witnessed the devastation that an angry planet can reap on civilization. But the Kiwis are resilient and they pushed forward.
We shared their story with our readers telling people to not forget New Zealand. It's still open for business and outside the city of Christchurch it was business as usual. Even though the country was mourning the loss of life, they were doing their best to rebuild and move forward.
And move Forward we did!
How can I sum up 6 weeks of the greatest adventure of our lives…Do I dare put photos in of the 30+ adventures we did day in day out?
Ok, that will be another post but for now, imagine every thrill you can think of that happens in the World's Adventure Capital, add some more and that is what we did.
Skydiving, bungy jumping, paragliding, flying a stunt plane, white water rafting class 5 rapids, swimming with dolphins, paddling through glow worm caves, riding a jet boat, 4X4ing through old gold mines, sand boarding, glacier hiking, sailing, cruising, paddling, eating, camping, hiking, you name it, we did it!
While we were in New Zealand we received an email from Jordan to come and sample their adventures but first we had commitments at Rancho La Puerta in Mexico where we spent 1 week working out and detoxing in such classes as cardio drumming, African Dance, walking the Labyrinth and spinning the Hoola Hoop just to name a few!
Directly from Mexico we then flew to Jordan where besides witnessing the beauty of Petra, the classic landscape of the Arabian Desert in Wadi Rum, the medicinal elements of the Dead Sea and the gorgeous views from the Dana River Reserve, we also had the chance to go Canyoning in Wadi Majub. We've always wanted to rappel over a waterfall and this was our chance. We slid down rocky dams, waded through rushing rivers and yes, we jumped over a cliff and lowered ourselves into the spray of the mighty waterfall!
There was no rest after Jordan, our greatest journey of 2011 had yet to begin.
The Mongol Rally
In July, we met our teammates Sherry Ott and Rick Griffin to take part in the Mongol Rally. A 10,000 mile drive in an inappropriate car from England to Mongolia through 13 countries. We drove through the Ukraine and Kazakhstan and Siberia! Yes, Siberia! We then dodged camels, yaks, serious potholes and herds of horses through the Gobi Desert. All while nursing a broken exhaust, tender tires that were constantly being punctured, a busted shock and most importantly a dead horn. No honking at the wildlife or just for the heck of it. It was just us and our duct taped gear shift keeping us company.
It was late September when we were finally back in Canada.
It was wonderful to be around family and friends and it was here that we had the opportunity to do an adventure in our own back yard with Samba Days. We took a flight over our home city of Toronto and it was spectacular. It was nearly as thrilling as the Stunt Plane in New Zealand.
It was then off to Mexico. While we didn't do adventures there, we did go to the Adventure Travel World Summit where we learned that in the tourism industry, 16% of all travellers are adventure travellers. That is awesome!
We rounded up the year with a soft adventure tour in Jamaica where we went Jamaican Bobsledding! We then spent the next 5 days sampling the islands other adventure activities such as ATVing, catamaran sailing, snorkelling, ziplining, hiking and mountain biking and finally eating spicy Jamaican Jerk Chicken at Scotchies.
We are heading to Seattle this weekend to watch a Seahawks game and then we're jetting off to Cairo next week to speak at the ioeti Conference. While it is not going to be a physical adventure, speaking to the Middle East Market about the future of Travel Blogging is definitely going to be an exciting moment in our lives and we can't wait to end our year with this wonderful opportunity. Plus, we're really looking forward to seeing Alexandria, we missed it during our last trip to Egypt.
I don't know how we are going to top this year, but 2012 is starting off with a bang to Antarctica. More on that next week!