Tips, reviews and experiences of a 30 year old freelance journalist and traveller

Category: Adventure

Volunteering: my experience and why you should do it

I decided to volunteer for personal reasons but there are several ways to do it and to get involved. Before I tell you about my experience, I would like to explain you the benefits about volunteering in general.

Volunteering: why?

Professionally

Volunteering prepares people for the real work. It allows you to develop new skills and gain experience in certain fields. It allows you to add new experiences to your CV and expand your professional network. Also, volunteering will allow you to gain autonomy and team spirit.

Personally

You will enjoy discovering new things and strengthening your self-esteem. Volunteering allows you to meet new people and broaden your horizons. You will feel useful and get to know yourself better. If you are volunteering abroad you will have the opportunity to learn a new language. It is a different form of learning to adapt to changes, to improve your communication skills.

For the cause

Work to improve things and help others to improve the community, that is what volunteering is. You are free to choose when, where, to make a difference and be part of positive change. Feel useful to the community!

Try the volunteering experience

Travelling, meeting new people, learning new skills … volunteering has only positive points. Therefore, it will take you out of your routine, discover other universes and allow you to open up to the outside world. Some organizations offer you to volunteer in different countries, often for humanitarian actions. There is also Wwoofing, another way of integrating a farm in exchange for accommodation and meals. You can help in the education for children. Experience in another country can also make you realize the real situation outside your world. You will face a reality that you do not know and change the way you see certain things. It’s also a great way to gain self-confidence and boost yourself. A new way to build and assert yourself.

Volunteering teacher

My experiences

I had the chance to volunteer in two different countries of South America. This is for me the best way to combine new rich experiences on budget travel, and to be happy in my life.

First, I did one month in a wildlife animal sanctuary. It was incredible to be so close to animals such as pumas, condors and even snakes. The best part was setting them free after they received all their treatment: it was a wonderful feeling. Everyone is undeniably a bit sad, but we know we did a good job and this is the most important.

Second, I volunteered in a school for poor families. The kids were so grateful and this is an experience I will never forget. I spent the days giving English lessons and playing games with them. It is this occasion that you realize how lucky you’ve been growing up in a country like England.

 

Volunteering is an incredibly rich experience and your share more than a room with your colleagues. I strongly recommend you do give it a go! You can start with a one-week mission or even go for a full year!

Arfak Mountains: adventure in West Papua

Some time ago I traveled to West Papua in Indonesia to visit the Arfak Mountains. This turned out to be exactly the kind of adventure I was looking for. If you have an inner adventurer and enjoy visiting remote and rural areas, this is something you should try. 

 

There is something utter fascination about visiting remote areas where people have a different way of life. At least, that is how I feel. For a while I had a dream to visit the Papua island, and when I met a friend of a friend who was born there, I was very interested to know more. Papua is a very big island and hosts many tribes and areas that are vastly different. This friend had a cousin situated in the town Manokwari, near the Arfak Mountains. This cousin had some sort of a connection to the chief of one of the villages up there, and was able to arrange for me to visit. I was so excited and I had no idea what to expect!

The trip through the forest – a bumpy ride

In order to access this area, one must find someone with a four-wheel drive that is willing to drive up the mountain and through the forest. The trip takes around 5-6 hours and it is a very bumpy ride and somewhat expensive. There is no actual road going there, most of the way takes places on a cleared path in the forest. Occasionally through small rivers and other obstacles. If I haven’t made it clear yet, this is a very remote area. After driving for what can feels like a very long time given the conditions, you will see a clearing and a lake. The remoteness of this place in a way reminds me of my trip to Bolivia.

The village life in the Arfak Mountains

The traditional houses of the mountains there are built on poles. They go by the name of thousand-foot which paints a good picture of their design. The locals are very friendly and welcoming. Life is primitive giving the remote nature of the place, but the Indonesian government had built more modern houses for the people there. Only problem: they don’t want to use them because of the cold. Yes, the Arfak area is quite cold as we are around 3000 m above sea level. Bring a sweater and prepare to be without cell reception. Walk around the lake, observe what the locals do or ask if you can help them harvest their delicious pineapples. 

 

durian fruit

Make sure to have a bit of time to visit Manokwari as well. They have a delicious street food market near the harbour and high quality durian fruit – if that is something you want to try.

I suggest you visit Indonesia’s official travel guide regarding West Papua. 

How to get to West Papua from anywhere in the world

In order to get to the Arfak Mountains, you must land in Manokwari from where you have to find a driver. You can fly to Manokwari from several major airports in Indonesia counting Jakarta, Surabaya and many local airports within Papua. 

Snorkeling: what to know and where to go

Sea snorkeling is an activity in expansion. I’ve never wanted to go to the zoo or to an aquarium. In my opinion, they are cruel. To see wildlife, I think we have to find the most respectful way possible. I love going to safaris, hikes or birds observatories. I hadn’t discovered snorkeling until recently and I now love it! The richness of marines fauna is incredible. You can almost feel like you’re one of them, or even a mermaid!

What is snorkeling?

Snorkeling consists in staying at the surface of the sea with a mask and a snorkel, this small tube to breathe. This way, you can observe the marine life under you without diving. It is the easiest way to do so.

Why snorkeling?

Some people might wonder why snorkeling and not diving like we have always done before. I, for example, am not able to dive. I just can not breathe with the bottles and I suffocate quickly. Also, going too deep hurt my ears even if I try everything to release the pressure. This is why snorkeling is a perfect solution. I can enjoy as much but without all the inconvenients. It is true that you won’t see all the species you can see diving, but it is a perfectly good alternative. You don’t have to go far from the shore or carry a heavy bottle. Neither do you need special equipment. In fact, you just need your bikini and your mask and snorkel! It is accessible to everyone and everywhere.

Best spots in the world

snorkeling sea fish

It is possible to snorkel in every continent. All of them has their specialities. Among the best snorkeling spots in the world, The Maldives often come first. Indeed, this is the home of many shark and big species. It is very famous as well to snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, in Australia. The corals there are unique! To sum up, every island is a very good option.

My best memory

My best experience of snorkel was 2 years ago during my first trip to Costa Rica. I went to a day tour around Corcovado park and it was stunning. We left early in the morning and did 3 sessions in different places. We immediately saw many turtles, and thousands of fish. Blue, yellow, small, big… It was incredible. At some point I left the group a little and went somewhere quieter. I had the chance to see 2 small sharks! Similarly, the corals were beautiful and colourful. It truly felt like they were dancing. And I was consequently part of the dance. We even had the chance to see dolphins and a whale on the boat trip back to the hostel just after we left!

 

In conclusion, snorkeling is one of the best way to observe wildlife. Indeed, it is a family activity. Overall, it is very budget friendly. It is usually possible to rent the equipment on the beach or your hotel. If you like my adventures such as this one, you can read about them all here!

What about you? Have you tried snorkeling? What did you see?

Skywire Zipline: the best in New Zealand!

As you know, I am a sensation seeker! For this reason, when I was in New Zealand, I could not miss the Skywire Zipline. The country offer countless ziplines, in both main islands. All of them will leave you with unforgettable memories. But for me the Skywire has been a revelation: in fact, it is the only one you can do with your friends! Indeed, up to four people can go down side by side and this is what makes it so special to me. What is better than sharing your best adventures with your friends? 

What is a zipline

A zipline is composed of a cable and a pulley. A rider is safely attached with a harness and then pushed down. This is not as impressive as bungee jumping but still gives you chills! I love it and I recommend it for everyone, kids and families as well. There are so many all around the world, you can choose the speed and the altitude.

Where to find ziplines

You can find ziplines all over the world, on every continent. Nowadays, it is a very successful activity. The most famous ones are probable in Costa Rica and New Zealand. In Puerto Rico you can find the longest of America, El Monstruo ! Will you dare?

The Skywire Zipline

skywire zipline

Now starts the fun! The Skywire zipline is located in Nelson, on the South Island.  It is recommended and easy to book your tour on their website. They are very convenient and can arrange a pickup and drop off point from town. It is very good when like us you don’t have your own car!

You will first reach the base of Cable Bay Adventure Park. There you will find a café and souvenirs. Toilets are also available. You will then start a 4 km ride through native forest to the top of the skywire. You can completely enjoy this ride: I was in the window seat and did not miss anything! The guide explains you everything about the forest and the park.

When you reach the top, you stay in groups of 4. Our turn is coming! After a safety speech, the four of us take place on the skywire. I was expecting the harness to be uncomfortable, like it is usually, but not at all. They count until 3 and … Let’s go !!

WOW! At first, we go high speed. The sensation is amazing! We are screaming and laughing at the time. Then we speed down, and we can enjoy the beauty of the landscape. The view is stunning. The trees are tall and so green. Before you can think, it is over.. Oh, no! We are doing all over again, backwards! Such a good surprise.

 

Some ziplines are longer, other faster, but this one is particularly amazing. It is a great feeling to share it with your friends. You enjoy the speed, as well as the scenery. Definitely in my top 10 best adventures (along with my Death Road experience)!

What about you? Do you like extreme adventures? Do you want to try the Skywire Zipline?

LGBT Pride in Brighton : a crazy event!

Every year, Brighton’s LGBT pride takes place the first week-end of August. Although it is officially a Friday to Sunday event, festivities last more than a week. The city is packed with thousands of visitors coming from all over Europe. It is without the shadow of a doubt the main and busiest weekend of the year. I was living in Cornwall, and with my friends, we’ve never missed one single pride! Below you can find out about my experience and why you should go at least once in your life.

What the LGBT pride is fighting for

LGBT is an initialism and represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Nowadays, I feel like it happens more and more to read in the newspaper about homophobic aggressions. These criminal acts are unforgivable and education is still necessary.

The pride celebrates the LGBT community and, in general, love. It aims to remind everyone that we’re all equal, with the right to love whoever we want, and that violence doesn’t solve anything. In my opinion, it is also on incredible celebration of life. I have spent the best moments of my life during the Pride.

Brighton’s LGBT Pride

lgbt pride defile

Brighton LGBT pride is the biggest of UK, for that reason it is divided in 2 parts: Preston Park and Saint James Street, in the centre. You need to buy a ticket (wristband) if you want to enter. You have the choice between park+centre, only one of them or even a VIP ticket which give you access to private parties. More information is available on their official website.

Preston park

In this park, the biggest of the city, take place all the live musical events. Every year celebrities and less famous artists give a show, such as Britney Spears in 2018 or Kylie Minogue last year. All day long, you can gaze as you want from one tent to another and just listen to the music, dance, drink and just have fun! I love sitting in the grass with a beer and watching all the people wearing colourful outfits.

Saint James Street

This street is the heart of Kemptown, the gay neighbourhood of the city. After the traditional outdoor parade, everyone meet there, the vibrant point of the celebrations. Obviously, it is packed! In my opinion, it is better if you know what to expect. Then, at noon, start the festivities. Bars and clubs play music in the street, and everyone dances, eats and drinks. Even if the weather is not always hot and synonym, it does not discourage anyone. People are not afraid to be cold to show their most beautiful costumes! It is such a mix of colours, glitters and fancy disguise!

 

To sum up, attending the LGBT pride means having fun for a good cause! I recommend you book your hostel in advance because the city becomes very busy and full months before. Also, bring kids and all your family!

What about you? Have you ever been to a pride? In which city? If not, are you now considering it?

Biking down the Death Road in Bolivia

I love adrenaline and I am a sensation-seeker. Cycling down the Death Road was definitely one of my best experience ever. You can not miss it if you’re in the capital! Below you can find my review and all my tips to spend an unforgettable day.

About the Death Road

Known as the World’s Most Dangerous Road, it is situated  at a height of 4,700m. Indeed, on this road linking La Paz to the region of the Yunga in the north-west of the country, thousands of people die every year. The narrowness, the curves and the quality of the road make it very easy to lose control and fall down into the ravines. 

Due to the number of accidents, the Death Road is now partially closed. With an engine vehicle, you can only drive it up. Curiously, it is the only route of the country where you drive on the left side for security.

What a challenge ! I could not miss it. With a group of friends from the hostel, we went to town to book a tour. There are at least 20 different agencies offering the same service. I advise you to talk to a few and choose the one you prefer. Some leave earlier in the morning (you avoid the crowd). Others offer the best new mountain bikes in the market. In my opinion it is not necessary but make sure the material and equipment you use is safe. All of them speak good English.

You can find all the information you need on the official website of the Tourist Information Center of La Paz.

Ready to cycle down

At 6:30, the minibus picked us up in front of the hostel. Then started a 2h drive to the top of the mountain. Bolivian are not famous to be the best drivers, so I advise you take a motion sickness pill, the road is not the best !

On the top, at that altitude, it is freezing. Make sure you bring enough clothes. We were offered a nice breakfast with hot traditional tea (including the famous coca infusion) while the guides prepared the bikes.

At 9 o´clock, we’re all set up and so excited ! I am honest with you, I was a bit worried at first. The view is stunning but  impressive! But all the bad feelings fade away once we are on the bike.

The next 4 hours went by so fast. The landscape is of course amazing but the speed and the risk make the sensations even better. It is important to say that the guides are very available. They make everything safe whether you’re a beginner or an amateur cyclist. If you follow the rules, there is no danger at all. Some curves and portions can be very tricky so you have to listen to them carefully.

I absolutely love cycling down the Death Road. I’ve never been a good rider but this experience is incredible. It gives you the exact feeling of freedom I seek in this kind of experiences.

We take a lot of breaks, and they even give us snacks. We are very hungry indeed!

The end of the road

At 1pm, we finally arrive to a hotel in Coroico, the village at the end of the road. We have lunch all together (included in the price) and we can have a shower and even use the swimming pool. It is so much fun.  It is a surprise but the food is fairly good, and we can eat as much as we want. At 4, it is time to go ! We jump in the van and to be fair, I dont remember much of the road back: we were all sleeping!

My advices on the Death Road

First, do not do it if you’re afraid of heights. You permanently have a ravine of hundreds of meters on your left side.

I recommend bringing with you (and this applies for the whole country) motion sickness pill as well as altitude sickness medication. I absolutely love the coca based candies they sell pretty much everywhere in the capital, they are very efficient. Take a bag with you and grab one whenever you feel to! Bring warm clothes, several layers, that you’ll take off one by one as going down. It is very hot in Coroico (1,740m of altitude), so do not forget your bikini ! Always take a bottle of water, but all is included.

I really emphasise on following the safety rules. Make sure you have a good night of sleep before the departure.

With all these advices, you’re ready to spend one of the best day of your life!

What about you? Have you been crazy enough like me to do it? What did you think about it?

© 2020 The Joe Review

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑