Archive for the 'Sea Journey' Category
Columbia’s shoreline in the Pacific Ocean runs hundreds of miles from Panama to Ecuador, yet is only accessible by two roads. The coastline consists of sheer cliffs overgrown with dense jungle. It’s hardly a place for vacationers – the third rainiest place on Earth with over 300 inches per year.
An overnight in the desolate and rainy port of Buenaventura, in the District of Choco, in order to catch a ferry to a coastal ecolodge the next morning.
Narco Armies ,smuggling cocaine to American drug consumers, operate heavily in the region. Therefore it is heavily militarized. Here, a soldier standing guard at a fishing village checks his phone,
Low tide from my room. Tides are about 8 to 12 feet in the zone.
It’s not easy being an adventurous spirit but living confined to the city, so today, October 8th, 2021, I am starting my 3 days snorkelling-intensive trip in the Galapagos Islands with a tailored-made itinerary.
I visit the islands as much as I can, but each new occasion makes me feel like I’m a privileged alien who is on a mission to discover an entirely new world, not ruled under the normal laws of biology.
This time, I have coordinated my hotel stays, meals, and snorkelling tours with Andean Travel Company. The rest of the adventure is up to me, so here we go!
Yesterday I arrived and took the afternoon at leisure to explore Santa Cruz island’s amazing white coral beaches where flocks of iguanas defiantly stare at you and block the way. The world’s only marine iguana is endemic to these islands.
I’m staying in a hostel in the middle of the bustling, colourful town of Puerto Ayora, one of the three urban centres of the archipelago. I would very much prefer this whole place to be inhabited, but people have been driven to these islands by the promise of economic success for decades now.
I was picked up by my guide and we walked a couple of blocks towards the dock. We embarked on a speedboat to Seymour Island.
I was provided all the necessary equipment and went directly to business (after listening to the guide’s directions). My very first sight was a group of whitetip reef sharks cruising between the low basaltic cliffs below me. I did not expect that my first animal observation would be this quick and thrilling!.
Colourful fish such as the king angelfish, boxfish, and parrotfish swam around, and I got lost in thought admiring them. A strange sound brought me back to reality. It was as if small missiles were being shot… It was the sound of blue-footed boobies and pelicans plunge-diving at enormous speeds to catch fish!
These daily snorkelling tours provide lunch, and I’m grateful for that, as it is a very energy-intensive activity.
In my second swim of the day, I spotted one of my favourite marine animals, the black-botched ray. It looked so elegant with its perfectly aerodynamic platform and majestic in its cyclic underwater flight. I also hoped to see a scalloped hammerhead shark, but they are difficult to find, so let’s see what happens tomorrow.
Today, October 9th, 2021, I’m heading to one of Galapagos’ most iconic landmarks. Pinnacle Rock on Bartolomé Island. Located northeast of Santa Cruz island, 2 hours away in a boat, this is an immense spearheaded obelisk rising from the ocean. We disembarked on the appropriately named Golden Beach, and from there I started swimming into a shallow cove full of precious coral formations and reef fish.
During my time inside the cove, however, my mind was obsessed with swimming around the massive Pinnacle Rock itself. We got there in due time, along with the rest of the group and the guide. (No matter how good of a swimmer you are, when snorkelling always stay close to your group!)
At the underwater intersection where the sea bottom becomes a cliff, I found spectacular lava formations, where reef and Tiger sharks were accommodated inside natural galleries. Swimming ahead, I found medium-sized sea lions who adventured so close to my face that I actually got a bit scared. I tried to make as much eye contact as possible with them, and it’s a tender sensation that I will never forget.
To finish off this day perfectly, we spotted the endangered Galapagos penguin standing on some rocks above the water. An Antarctic bird in these warm waters is certainly an unexpected sight, but they are one of the best examples of the unique animal adaptations happening on these islands.
Day 3! I cannot believe that today is the last of my snorkelling trip. We navigated northwest to Santa Fé Island. The area destined for snorkelling was well-protected from open sea currents, so my first thought was that this might be a smart choice for beginners. These calm, shallower waters, however, delivered generously.
Fluorescent blue chin parrotfishes, yellowtail surgeonfishes, and pufferfishes swam around the turquoise waters, and sea lions made me close company again. I really felt as if these boys knew that I was on a mission, and decided to escort me to the right place. To the open waters where the scalloped hammerhead sharks finally decided to reveal themselves. What an amazing creature, a perfect example of the ambitious effects of evolution. Its distinctive, enormous head works as a sensor that has yet to be explained by science. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to this trip.
Thank you, Galapagos! May we be able to do enough to preserve your treasures!
From September 14th to September 17th, TotalAdventure travelled on the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage north to Talkeetna, back to Anchorage and South to Seward as well as whistle stops in glacier areas. The video shows a compilation of the entire trip, along with the the incredible adventure experiences offered in each area.
On the morning of the 14th, we left Anchorage on the Denali Star Train at 7:50 AM for the 3 hour ,150 mile ride North to Talkeetna. As Gold Star passengers we were seated in a glassed roofed upper deck, with an outdoor balcony for photography and viewing.Upon arrival at the tiny frontier town we passed Nagley’s Store. The Denali Star Train goes all the way to Fairbanks – an 8 hour journey. Fairbanks is Alaska’s second largest city and serves as a Gateway to the Arctic.
After lunch we walked to the security – free , private, Talkeetna Airport for our incredible flight on K2 Aviation to the Denali Base camp, where climbers for Mt.McKinley begin their 2 week climb to the Summit. Experience the flight in the blog posts below.
Afterwards we were invited for cocktails at the incredibly beautiful Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge – 5 Star Luxury Rooms with ample views of Mt.Denali on a clear day. A simple, but hearty dinner was enjoyed at Mountain High Pizza Pie – real Italian style from the owner who hailed from Pittsburgh.
After a long day we returned to our rustic inn, the Talkeetna Roadhouse , for a good night’s sleep. TotalAdventure stayed up a few hours editing the incredible aviation footage for the video featured on the Mt.Denali post below.
The next morning, Thursday the 15th, our group split in to two. The bravest of us, including TotalAdventure went Ziplining with Denali Zipline Tour.
The rest went on a jetboat adventure with Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures. The rivers run fast and cold, fed by Mt.Denali’s glaciers. Interesting fact – the snow that falls today on Mt. McKinley will flow into the river 1500 years from now. The boat stops at a remote dock for a wilderness hike, observing old trapper and miner cabins. The guides are armed with shotguns in case of bear attacks – which thankfully have not happened.
After lunch we were treated to a tour of the Denali Brewing Company by founder Sassan Mossanen. Denali Brewing products accompanied many of our meals on the trip. Alaskans drink almost the entire production – so unfortunately none is yet exported to the Lower 48.
Early the next morning, Friday, September 16th at 6:45 Am we boarded the Coastal Classic Train for the 5 hour journey to Seward . It was a short walk from the depot to the town docks, where we boarded a Kenai Fjords Tour Boat for an incredible North Pacific Adventure- see below.
At the end of the day, chilled to the bone, we checked into our toasty warm cabins at the Seward Windsong Lodge. That night , we feasted at the hotel’s restaurant – the Resurrection Roadhouse – on local seafood delicacies of halibut and cod – fresh, not frozen.
Our final day on the Alaska Railroad Adventure was on the Glacier Discovery Train. Our group rode to the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop to kayak across an icy lake to the Spencer Glacier. We were guided by Ascending Path ( See Below). The Alaska Railroad is one of the last railroads in the world to use whistle stops. The railroad serves remote areas that don;t warrant a station. Rather, a passenger tells a conductor at what milepost he wants to stop and notifies the engineer with a whistle. When getting back on the train, days or weeks later – the passenger stands by the tracks and flags down the passing train.
Our final night was at the Alyeska Resort – Alaska’s ‘s most luxurious hotel, with beautiful ski slopes overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The season goes from mid November to almost May, with snow measured in feet,not inches. Our final dinner- at 10 PM – reached by cable car – was at the mountain top restaurant Seven Glaciers – amazing Alaskan seafood, Kobe beef – best of all Spencer Glacier ice in our whiskey glasses.
TotalAdventure has journeyed on many of the world’s railroads, as you can see throughout our blog .The Alaska Railroad is amongst the best run – and certainly one of the more luxurious trains one can take for a daytrip. Other US train lines do not even begin to compare. Now that winter is approaching the line scales back for one weekly trip – The Aurora Winter Train !
Please scroll below, for all the Alaska Adventures !
On Friday , September 16 we boarded the 6:45 Coastal Classic Train at the Anchorage train station. The three hour jouney follows the coastline south of Anchorage, with occasional sightings of Beluga whales out the window ! The train then traverses the mountains of Chugach National Forest before arriving at Seward. At Seward it was a short walk to the dock.
We boarded the Coastal Explorer , a sturdy sightseeing craft operated by Kenai Fjords Tours. For the next six hours we explored the northernmost points of the Pacific Ocean, at 60 Degrees North.
Looks like Hawaii, but with snow. Last winter’s snow still on upper slopes with new snow starting soon.
American Bald Eagle in Seward Harbor.
Otter playing and hunting for fish.
Seals relaxing on a warm ( for them ) 40 degree day.
Blue ice from Glacier to Ocean.
Incredible Oceanic Geology.
Fishing village near Seward.
On July 2 at 7 AM we left our host’s house in Bodrum to board a catamaran ferry to the Greek island of Kos, only 20 km across the channel. We looked back at beautiful vibrant Turkey, hoping to return in the near future – to explore from Istanbul to the eastern provinces.
We arrived in port 20 minutes later. We spent nearly 40 minutes to get passports stamped, as we were re-entering the EU and Shengen. Afterwards a 50 km taxi ride to Kefalos .
In Kefalos , we found a beachside Taverna where we ate excellent grilled squid, stored our stuff and went snorkeling.
The water was as clear as an aquarium.
There were ruins right by the sea !
Soon it was time to leave for the airport. We took a turboprop to Athens, flying over hundreds of Aegean Islands. In Athens – once again passport control , as we were leaving Schengen. 4 hours later – another 1.5 hours in customs entering the UK.
Just before midnight we arrived at our hotel, after a long Tube ride. We were right by the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.
Our final day before returning Stateside was a whirlwind tour of some of the major sights.
Iconic, but we opted for Indian instead.
Today ArcticTropic accompanied the delegation from Enterprise Florida on a tour of the Panama Canal. The Canal, which just celebrated its’ 100th Anniversary is undergoing a major expansion -PANAMAX – which will triple capacity and allow much larger container ships to traverse between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Ships enter from the Atlantic ( Caribbean ) side at Colon.
PANAMAX construction. Estimated to be finished by late 2015.
Gatun Lake. The total route is 50 miles ( 80 km ) and takes 8 to 10 hours. Only 32 ships a day can pass through – 16 from either side. Reservations are required 547 days in advance, but expedited service is available.
Entering Miraflores Locks.
Clearance of the ;Miraflores completed, the ship sails into the Pacific, about 5 miles away, then on to China.
For adventures in Panama, CLICK HERE
Today ArcticTropic was invited on a private yacht tour by a renowned Istanbul artist who will later be featured in the Blog.Time and bandwidth constraints in the hotel make posting difficult at this time. Today was an incredible fall day with temperatures in the 70s – in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
From Asia looking to Europe.
Turkey is extremely patriotic – the nation controls a good portion of this part of the world.
The entrance the Black Sea.
Saudi Prince Abdul Aziz pops in for a visit.
After a brief stopover in Buenos Aires, it was time for ArcticTropic to move on to a week of business meetings in São Paulo. I decided to go by way of Montevideo , Uruguay. Buquebus Hydrofoil from Puerto Madero to Montevideo and early the next morning TAM to GRU . Though the 100 mile ,3 hour trip ( with Wifi and Duty-Free) seems to be at sea, the ship is , in fact, crossing the world’s widest river mouth – the Rio de la Plata. When we arrived in Montevideo at mid day , the entire Uruguayan Navy – all 8 ships- was out in full force to celebrate Uruguay’s 200th Independence Day. !
In the Old City, little has changed in the last 150 years.
Montevideo is probably one of the quietest capital cities on Earth. Uruguay has 35,000,000 head of cattle and only 3,000,000 people.
A DAy of Celebration.
Where the Father of Evolution began his Antipodean Journeys.
The aroma of the world’s best cuts of meat is everywhere in the windy streets. On Saturday , hundreds of diners gather at the port for excellent parilla. ( Pa-ree-sha)
Vegans Beware !
Colonial Street Signs.
Holy Water in a Giant Clamshell.
Hotel Palacio – $40 US per night. At 3 AM, it’s time to move on to the airport.
I began my journey from Krabi, a fishing port that did not yet have an airport or any hotel over two stars. About three hours later we arrived in Phi Phi. The largest structure on the island was a beautiful open-air mosque made of wood and palm fronds.
The village had no central electricity, though several bungalow settlements, the only accommodation available, ran generators from 6 to 10 PM. The bungalows were made of straw and wood.
Snorkeling the pristine reefs was amazing. Lazy lemon sharks mixed with millions of psychedelic fish and plants.
Nightlife was a trek to the village to gather around a roaring fire to eat fresh grilled fish washed down with Kloster beer, fresh from the ice pit. Later the traveler’s tales would begin, fueled by the passing around of some Mekong Whiskey.
When I returned in 1995, the environment had been destroyed by greedy developers. An ugly concrete hotel stood where the mosque had been. The coral walls around the swimming pool had been dynamited from the reefs. The water was cloudy and devoid of fish. Jet skis drowned out the sound of the wind and swaying palms.
The 2004 tidal wave temporarily returned Phi Phi to its original look, but apparently the developers have returned with a vengeance.
One must now go further and further in Thailand to find Paradise. However, nearby Burma offers thousands of untouched Andaman Islands. ArcticTropic will research those islands and report shortly. If anyone is headed there soon, please let us know.
The Philippines offer extreme adventure and incredible vistas . The island nation is easily accessible from Hong Kong for shorter getaways and is well worth the trip from Europe and North America for longer expeditions. Above is a volcanic lake not far from Mt.Pinatubo.
Palawan, Northeast of Borneo in the South China Sea is excellent for mountaineering and diving . The Coral Reefs are pristine and mostly undisturbed.
ArcticTropic will be adding several new providers in the Philippines today. Reminder to current providers : Keep your websites up to date, or you lose your opportunity to reach our adventurers !