The La Guajira peninsula is the northern most tip of the South American continent shared between Colombia and Venezuela - a thin strip of arid desert straddling the two countries and jutting out into the Caribbean Sea. The peninsula boasts more than 350 kilometres of uninhabited windswept coastline, hours of open red sand desert expanses, colonies of cactus populations and remote indigenous communities and fishing villages. It is a paradoxical place, reminding me of the beauty of outback Australia but the poverty of rural Africa – somewhere both stunning beautiful and devastatingly poor.
‘Gambas’ for sale: A Wayuu woman sells fresh prawns caught that morning in the Caribbean Sea just a few kilometres from the desert environment in which she and her family live.
Tippy top of the continent: Straddling Colombia and Venezuela, the La Guajira peninsula is the most northern point of South America.
La Guajira attracts travelers with a certain sense of adventure– those happy to go without running...
It’s that time of year when social media newsfeeds are taken over by images of European summer: scooters, beaches, Aperol spritz and antipasti platters. So instead of letting my mouth water one moment longer, I decided to do something productive with my nostalgia, and reflect back on a wonderful trip to Italy my fiancé and I had in August last year.
The little mountain village of Champoluc, nestled in the Ayas Valley (Val d’Ayas) in the region of Aosta in northern Italy, is just two hours’ drive north west of Milan. The town is only home to around 500 locals but this number swells to more than triple during the winter ski season. We visited in the ‘off season’, swapping the snow and skis for long hikes through endless mountain trails, fields of wildflowers, dinging goat bells and around turquoise glacial lakes. By the time we arrived in the last week of August, autumn was peeping its head around the corner, the summer holiday crowds were heading back home, and we felt as if we virtually...
When Dad announced that he wanted us to join him on a family road trip at the end of the year, my brothers and I thought he must want to drive from the west to east coast of Australia across the Nullarbor Plain. Surprisingly though, he had a much more adventurous idea… flash forward 12 months and we were touching down in Lhasa, Tibet to begin our 800km road trip on the Friendship Highway to the border with Nepal.
The Friendship Highway is one of the highest roads in the world, with sections of the route peaking at over 5000 metres above sea level. Starting in Lhasa, the road winds west through Tibet before hitting the Himalayas and the Nepali border. At 3656 metres above sea level, and with subzero temperatures in the middle of winter, Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world. It is the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region in China and was home to the Dalai Lama until he was forced to flee in the late 1950s following the Chinese takeover of Tibet.
Waking up to the sunrise over the pyramids of Meroe in Sudan is one of the most magical experiences I’ve had in all my travels to date. Unzipping the tent at the crack of dawn, and walking out across the rippled red desert, we perched atop a sand dune and watched in awe as the pyramid faces gradually changed colour as the sun began to peak over the horizon.
Climbing to the top of a sand dune to watch the sun rise over the pyramids.
The Pyramids of Meroe at sunrise.
The Pyramids of Meroe are a collection of around 200 Nubian pyramids built more than 2000 years ago, which - although less impressive in size than the pyramids found in neighbouring Egypt - are nonetheless the largest collection of Nubian pyramids in the world. Nestled in the red desert about 100km north of Sudan’s capital Khartoum, the pyramids, a UNESCO world heritage site, can be visited in an overnight trip from the capital. The adventure to the pyramids can be combined with a half day trip to a collection of ancient tombs...
When one steps first outside the airport in Brunei Darussalam, two things hit you in the face. There's the humidity of course, which immediately wraps around your skin like cling film, and then there is the large tourism signs which proudly boast that you have arrived in The Kingdom of Unexpected Treasures.
Prior to visiting Brunei, you'll probably experience a conversation like this:
"I'm going on holiday to Brunei!" "Where? You mean Bahrain, or Bhutan?" "No Brunei, its a small country on the island of Borneo" For a handful of people, the island of Borneo will be enough of a geographic reference to feign knowledge of Brunei. But for most, eyes have glazed over, interest is lost, you're talking a foreign language. Therefore you may be correct to wonder which "unexpected treasures" await in this so called "Kingdom" that you have probably never heard of.
I have a nostalgic familiarity for this tiny oil rich, jungle dense, Muslim nation, with a population of just over 400,000. Bru...
Colombia is a far more remarkable country than what the news headlines really say. With the promise of peace looming after 52 years of internal conflict, it is creeping up as an ‘off the beaten track’ tourism destination…one of those places you need to get to before it becomes ‘discovered’. As an expatriate living in Bogota, I have been spoilt for choice on weekend trips for exploring this impressive country. But there is one trip in particular that really stands out so far…
We decided to hire BMW motorbikes from a small private business in Bogota, and spend three days riding a 700km loop through the lush green and very mountainous ‘Eje Cafetero’, or coffee growing region, in central western Colombia. Spanning the distance between three of Colombia’s largest cities – Bogota, Medellin and Cali – the eje cafetero is a UNESCO world heritage site and produces some of the best beans in the world. This region with its coffee plantation tours, fincas (a type of farmhouse) for rent and incredib...
Hiking to the rim of an active volcano in a lawless region in one of the poorest countries in the world does not feature on the travel itineraries of most, but for the adventurous visiting Ethiopia, it’s a must.
Camel caravans bringing in blocks of salt, to be sold in local markets.
The Erta Ale volcano is located in the far north west of Ethiopia on the border with Eritrea, standing at only 600 metres above sea level. What it lacks in height, it makes up for with its pool of red hot lava bubbling in a crater at the top, and the surroundings of a dramatic, ochre desert expanse which requires a hardy four-wheel drive, a good playlist and a full day to cross.
Departing from the closest town of Mekele the capital of the Tigray region, the tour ventures across the ‘hottest place on earth’ - the Danakil Depression. The Danakil has an average year-round temperature of almost 35’C, and is home to the nomadic Afar people, pastoralists who eke out an existence in the harsh desert environment.