Driving an RV Across Canada
Sep01

Driving an RV Across Canada

In my last post, I talked about how I was focusing on my vlog and as a result I’d be doing weekly round-up blog posts.  It turns out, though, that I’m quite terrible at keeping up on the weekly blogs too.  I think, to be honest, the more I let things slide, the more things get away from me. So, I’m sorry about the delay getting this article about driving an RV across Canada up.  I swear I’m going to try to be better at keeping you up to speed from now on. I was working on a project dubbed: #bringbackwildhood with GoRVing Canada.  The idea of this project was to try to recapture the excitement of a classic summer vacation camping trip – but, done with style.  I took part in the project alongside Erin from The World Wanderer (check out her post on the trip here).   Though we were suggested that we should take an RV on a bit of a local adventure in the Toronto area, we thought something a bit more epic was in order. It was there than an epic plan to drive an RV all the way across Canada was born. But, we hit a roadblock because it was actually August long weekend when we wanted to do the trip. There weren’t any RVs available. Thankfully, the amazing people at Leisure Vans came through.  They personally drove an RV out from Manitoba to us for our trip.  In fact, they gave us their 2017 model called “The Wonder” which was amazing.  It really became home on wheels. Crossing the Shield and Avoiding Murderers After departing from Toronto, and spending a night in Parry Sound, Ontario, we made the push across the Great Canadian Shield.  I’ve done this section before on the Via Rail train, but have never driven it. I was impressed by how beautiful it all was. It was far more hilly, and the roads far more enjoyable to drive than I expected. One thing I loved about having the RV was the lack of stress around where to spend the night.  For example, when crossing Ontario, we got into our destination extremely late, and just pulled into a parking area of a campsite and crashed for the night – all with the comfort of a bathroom and a luxury home.  Of course, I might have been the only one not feeling stressed about sleeping out in the forest.  Erin, from just outside the hard streets of NYC, was oddly worried about murderers. Check out her hilarious discussion in the vlog below. Oh, The Prairies If there was one part of the...

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Opening Day at Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park
Dec17

Opening Day at Marmot Basin in Jasper National Park

It was sheer coincidence that my ViaRail trip arrived in Jasper exactly on opening day of Marmot Basin.  So, I obviously couldn’t resist getting some skis on my feet and hitting the hills.  Though my train was delayed, and I didn’t get into my hotel room until after midnight, I still managed to get up at the crack of dawn to get some of the freshest tracks at Marmot Basin.  Thanks to a lot of snow this year, I believe the hill actually opened early in comparison to other years.  It was a bit busy on the hill, due to all the locals eager to get their first tracks onto the hill, but it was brilliant. When is opening day at Marmot Basin? Obviously if varies year to year.  It really depends on the temperature and the amount of snow that has fallen.  Generally, opening ski day at Marmot Basin is mid-November.  This year, for example, I got onto the hill on Saturday November 14th. Renting Ski and Snowboard Gear in Jasper Since I’m a traveller, I always have to rent ski gear when I hit the hills.  In Jasper, I rented my gear directly at Marmot Basin.  There they have everything you need except for goggles and ski pants.  You can, however, buy some cheap ones in their shop.  If you need ski pants, I always rent them from down at The Source for Sports in the city center. Some Images from the Hill I focused on skiing, on this trip.  So, it’s a bit odd for me not to have a tonne of imagery from the hill.  However, I did manage to take a couple snaps between runs. What’s Next on the Travel Photography Blog? Oh man, I’m starting to get behind again.  In realtime, I’m actually in Helsinki, Finland.  But, before the articles get there I still have stuff from the Alberta, and a couple episodes from a river cruise on the Danube with Viking River Cruises.  Stay tuned for all that good stuff.  Hopefully I can get caught up on all that...

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A Guide to Tayrona National Park
Oct22

A Guide to Tayrona National Park

I’ve legitimately been trying to get to Tayrona National Park for about 10 years.  On my first ever backpacking journey, I ran out of money and couldn’t get down to Colombia.  5 years later when I lived in Medellin, I kept planning on making trips down to the coast and into the park, but something always came up.  This time, I was in Santa Marta and the same thing started happening again.  Every time I was ready to leave for the park, something came up.  It started to feel like I wasn’t supposed to ever see Tayrona National Park. However, just I was sure that I wasn’t going to get to go, things flipped and I darted off for 3 days in coastal Colombia’s jewel.  Now, my goal for the park was 2-fold.  Firstly, I wanted to relax. I had been working so hard, that a beach and a hammock with a view seemed like the perfect remedy.  And, secondly, I really wanted to shoot some photography as I have been in Colombia for 3 weeks and haven’t taken the camera out of the bag hardly at all.  And thus, this is my quick guide to Tayrona National Park; or at least what I discovered of it.   Getting to the Park If you’re heading to the park via Santa Marta, it’s best to spend the night in town and leaving early.  I highly recommend The Dreamer Hostel.  I stayed there a lot in Santa Marta and actually think it might be the best hostel in Colombia.  Beyond that, from a perspective of getting to the park, they are close to the main road where the bus to the park passes.  From Santa Marta to the park entrance, it’s about 30-40 minutes.  It is possible to take a taxi, and if you’re 4 people and can share it might be a decent option.  A taxi to the park entrance costs about 80,000 Colombian Pesos (28usd). The alternative method of getting to the park is via a boat from Taganga.  The village of Taganga is a quick taxi ride from Santa Marta.  From the village, there is a daily speed boat that goes to Tayrona National Park.  It drops people off at Cabo San Lucas which is the most popular place in the park to stay.   Getting to Cabo San Lucas Once you get to the park entrance, you’ve got some work to get to get to Cabo San Lucas.  But, you do have some options.  The first thing, however, you’ll want to do is catch the van that goes from the park entrance to the start of the trails....

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Taking the Boat up the Amazon from Santarem to Manaus
Sep27

Taking the Boat up the Amazon from Santarem to Manaus

I was actually on a bit of an assignment for a newspaper back in Canada for this little adventure from Santarem to Manaus, thus I’ll probably just share that article on my Facebook page rather than giving the long narrative here.  Instead, this article will be a bit of a guide to taking the boat from Santarem to Manaus up the Amazon River. I decided to take the boat up the Amazon rather than flying for the obvious reason that it’s just more of an adventure.  As a journalist, I’m always looking for stories to tell, and it’s rare to find a good story on an airplane.  The boat from Santarem to Manaus, on the other hand, is full of stories, interesting characters, and plenty to see.  Sure, the 3-day trip isn’t easy.  But, there’s no way you want have a couple anecdotes to share when you get done.  And, at the very least you’ll have earned some bragging rights. The video below shows my journey up the Amazon on the boat, and below it there is a bit of a guide to the journey in case you’re planning on making the trip from Santarem to Manaus on the boat. How to get Tickets for the Boat up the Amazon This was the thing I worried most about, but probably the thing I needed to worry least about.  There are a bunch of agents in town that sell the tickets, but don’t bother with them.  They’ll charge you double.  Instead, there’s a ticket window at the port in Santarem, and they sell the tickets.  The cost of the ticket is 130 Reales or about $32USD.  I bought my ticket to Manaus the day before my journey.  However, I’m fairly sure you could buy the morning of the trip without any issue. The boat I took left at 12pm and boarding time was between 10am-11am.  The ticket is just for space to sting a hammock.  You can also book a camarote (bunk in a room) for about 500 Reales. How Long Does it Take to get from Santarem to Manaus? They’ll tell you that the boat takes 36 hours, but the truth is it takes about 48 hours.  And, according to everyone I talked to it usually takes 48 hours.  In fact, there are stories of people having to spend an extra night on the boat because it was late.  So, essentially you’ll be spending 2 nights on board with an extra night possible if things move really slowly. The boat leaves from Santarem every day of the week except for Sunday. Sleeping on the Boat I’ve done boat journeys on...

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Paradise and a Brief Vacation in Jericoacoara
Sep20

Paradise and a Brief Vacation in Jericoacoara

If you tuned into my last video, you’ll know that I’ve been a bit lot burned out of late. I’ve been going extremely hard on this travel stuff for the past 6 months years, and it’s wearing me down. I decided to travel harder, and then take a month off from travel here and there to catch up on work and rest. Instead, I’ve just travelled harder, and worked in the short spaces of time in between. Thus, by the time I arrived in Jericoacoara – one of Brazil’s hottest tourist destinations – I was ready for a couple days of rest. And, to be quite honest, Jericoacoara was exactly what I needed. It recharged my batteries enough to get me through the rest of Brazil without collapsing of exhaustion. But more than anything, it reminded me that travel is supposed to be fun. Acting like a Tourist in Jericoacoara I told myself upon arrival to Jericoacoara that I was going to act a bit more like a tourist than I usually do. The biggest negative to making the move from travel writer to travel photographer, has been that I’ve spent most of my time shooting and location scouting.  I have kind of neglected doing the typical tourist things like laying on a beach, going on excursions, or having a bit of a party without worrying about being hangover-free the next day. My travels have become a bit focused on getting shots.  Sometimes, I won’t even go somewhere if I don’t think I’ll get some use-able images from that location. The first day I was in Jericoacoara, I didn’t leave my hammock the entire day. I just relaxed, caught up on afternoon naps, and even did a bit of reading. The second day, I headed out with a group from the hostel to do a buggy trip to some lagoons. And, of course, each of those nights I sampled the local nightlife. Stars and Sunrise at Pedra Furada After a couple days recharging my batteries, I decided it was time to get a couple images out of Jericoacoara. I actually had a couple image requests from Jeri.  So I got up at 4am and hiked out to a place called Pedra Furada – which is one of the iconic spots around town. The walk, in the dark, wasn’t without adventure. I was completely blind wandering through the dunes, and lost the trail about 15 times, I was attacked by a wild pack of dogs, and I also nearly stepped on a poisonous snake. Oh, and I also slipped and smashed my camera on rock lens-first. Luckily, I had an ND...

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Adventure in Baños de Agua Santa
May06

Adventure in Baños de Agua Santa

Returning to Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador has been something on my to-do list since the last time I visited back in my tour leading days.  I had plans to make a stop in back about 4 years ago after visiting the Galapagos Islands.  However, on my way out of town, my camera gear was stolen on the bus (I’m sure some of you remember that story). So, here I am, 4 years older and 4 years wiser, back in Baños de Agua Santa: ground zero for adventure in Ecuador.  The bus system in Ecuador still sucks, the landscapes are still absolutely stunning, and Baños is still awesome. I’ve been to Baños about 6 or 7 times before.  It was part of my regular route back when I was a tour leader in South America.  However, in all my visits, I hadn’t taken a single proper photo. So, my entire goal of this trip was to fire a couple images of some of my favourite spots in the area.  I also wanted to have a little bit of adventure well I was at it.  Also, I had the chance to hang out with “The Travel Freak” Jeremy Scott Foster well in town.  If you’ve not heard of him, be sure to check out his blog at TravelFreak.net to see the trouble he gets up to. This is what I got up to during my time in Baños de Agua Santa.   Where I Stayed in Baños I stayed right in the heart of town this time at Erupcion Hostel which is a fantastic place.  It’s right in the middle of the action in town which means that there can be street noise.  If you want a quiet room, ask for one on the interior as they are way calmer.  If you don’t mind a bit of street noise, grab a room with a view over the plaza.  There is also a restaurant in the building that does really good set lunches for an extremely good price.  Erupcion is family run, which I always endorse in travel. What I did in Baños I have a more elaborate travel guide for Baños over here.  But, I’ll list quickly the things I got up to on this trip. Casa del Arbol: This is the famous tree house swing that stretches over the valley.  Of course, the photos are way more dramatic that the actual swing.  However, it’s still a really fun place to visit and the views are unreal.  It costs $10 each way for a taxi from town to get there, or you can catch the local bus which travels 3 or 4 times a day and costs $1 each...

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