One of the most popular places to go backpacking in Honduras are the Bay Islands. Of the three islands that make them up, Roatan is the most visited due to its incredible beaches, crystal clear waters and lush green backdrop. Whilst it is certainly no longer the undiscovered island escape it once was, it is still a fantastic place visit. Most backpackers will head to West End which houses the majority of backpacker accomodation, bars and other facilities that travellers are looking for. However, if you head to the other end of the island you will reach Punta Gorda and the Garifuna people. I was lucky enough to live there for a year and get to know some fantastic people and some photo friendly kids!
La Paz is a place that is often met with some sceptism from backpackers who are travelling through South America. It has a reputation for being dangerous and not having the wow factor of other capitals on the continent. However, i loved my time there and found it an amazing destination to simply wander around and take in the sights that surrounded you.
The world’s highest capital city has a lot to offer, but one of the stand out activities is actually slightly outside of the city itself. It is famed as ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Road’ due to the number of lives that have been lost on this tight, mountain pass. However, the bike ride itself is not too dangerous if you approach it with the right mindset. Too many backpackers turn up after a late night on the town and are unable to concentrate sufficiently when you have sheer cliff edges just feet away. Many also see it as a race which is another recipe for disaster. But if you prepare correctly and approach the bike ride in the right way then it will be one of the most exhilarating experiences you can have whilst travelling. Hopefully this photo diary will give you just a hint of the experience you can have on ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Road’…
It’s been two weeks since the last TBD top 5 so there have been loads of fantastic posts to keep up with. My five favourites from the last fortnight are below which all make fantastic reading and will undoubtedly give you itchy feet!
- The first is from Keith at Velvet Escape and is a fantastic guide to the Eastern part of Turkey. I always love Keith’s posts and this one particularly caught my eye as i’m heading to Turkey early next year. It certainly gave me some food for thought and got me excited about the trip! http://velvetescape.com/blog/2010/11/a-tour-of-eastern-turkey/
- The next is from the guys at Europe Up Close on the wonders of Sicily, in particular a place called Catania. It’s criminal but i’ve never actually been to Italy and reading this post just made me wonder why not when it’s only a short flight away: http://www.europeupclose.com/article/getting-around-sicilys-catania
- I’ve only recently discovered the guys at Gran Tourismo but have loved every post since i started reading them. Their story is amazing and is something i’m sure any backpacker would be envious of. This particular post focused on them taking local tips and the advantages of straying from the guidebook and relying on advice from the people who know a place best. It’s enough to make anyone put the guide book away – http://grantourismotravels.com/2010/11/14/testing-out-local-tips-from-local-markets-to-steak-rolls/
- Another person with a unique approach to travel is Benny at ‘Fluent in 3 Months’. His aim is to learn the language of the places he visits and get closer to living the life of a local – going by the list of languages he speaks in the sidebar he’s doing pretty well! This post is about helping tourists in order to pick up a language: http://www.fluentin3months.com/help-a-tourist/
- Finally, i love this photo essay from Jodi at Legal Nomads on the beauty of Quito in Ecuador. I spent a short time there when i was in South America and wish i’d had longer to explore. It’s a beautiful place with great people and Jodi’s photos here really do it justice: http://www.legalnomads.com/2010/11/photoessay-the-quito-that-i-love.htm
So there’s something to get your teeth into! If they don’t give you the urge to get on the road (or change the direction of the road your on!) i’ll be amazed. As always, if you’ve read some great posts recently share them in the comments and i’ll keep an eye on those blogs for next time. And if you liked the post and want more like it then hit the ‘Like’ button and share it with your buddies.
Imlil is a small village tucked away in the Atlas Mountains and provides the entry point for many fantastic treks across the mountains. It is the doorway into remote Berber villages, stunning mountain scenery and some truly unique people. Situated a couple of hours drive from Marrakech, it is a popular place for many backpackers who are travelling through Morocco and is certainly worthy of a visit for those wanting a look into the less travelled, off the beaten track area of the country.
This photo of a thoughtful local man was taken in the middle of Imlil as the locals strolled around in the late afternoon. We were watching the world go by before departing on a trek the following day:
I discovered my love for travel by taking a gap year between school and university, more because i wanted an escape from education than through desperation to go and see the world. A friend of my brother had been away teaching English with a charity the previous year so it took minimal effort to organise which was exactly what i was looking for. A year later, it was the best thing i had ever done and had left me with memories that would last a lifetime.
But what makes gap years so popular and why should you take one? Here’s 5 reasons that i believe make gap years a must for everyone:
- It’s a fantastic way to escape from school! After being in education since the age of four it’s fair to say that most people are ready for a break from learning in a classroom. A gap year gives you a time to clear your head before returning to university with a renewed vigour and readiness to learn.
- You pick up new skills. Whether it’s teaching, environmental work or just better interpersonal skills, going on a gap year undoubtedly forces you to pick up new skills that are extremely useful in later life. This could be manual skills that you’re forced to use on a trip in the Amazon or the ability to manage your finances for 12 months!
- Better job prospects. Following on from the last point, i believe a gap year makes you more employable once you return. Being able to show that you can survive in different environments, get on with different people and adapt to different cultures undoubtedly makes you more employable.
- Become a more rounded person. Here’s the cliche! I think it’s true though, that if you can last a 20 hour bus journey sat next to a Bolivian man with live chickens in his lap then you can survive anything. Experiencing other cultures and interacting with them certainly makes you more adaptable and better able to cope with situations you come across in later life.
- You see the world! The best reason for going on a gap year, for me, is the fact that you get to see so many amazing things in a relatively short period of time. This could be incredible wonders of the world or just great people that you come across along the way, they all leave you with fantastic memories that will be hard to match once you return to education or settle into an office job back home.
What do you think are the benefits and drawbacks of taking a gap year? Share them in the comments!
This post is sponsored by Insure and Go who offer travel insurance to people heading out on their gap year.
The Galapagos Islands are a stunning (if costly!) place to visit and offer an amazing opportunity to get up close and personal with some unique wildlife. This, of course, also means you get the chance to take some stunning close up photography of animals that, anywhere else in the world, would have scarpered long before you get within touching distance. Unless your David Attenborough and want to sit in a box in the jungle for 2 weeks straight!
This photo was taken without any zoom, i was just able to get right in the iguana’s face without it being bothered one little bit! Brilliant!
This is the first in a new series on Top Backpacking Destinations so i can share my favourite travel stories and blog posts from around the web every week. It’s so hard to keep up on Twitter and so easy to miss fantastic posts from the hundreds of great blogs out there so I decided it would be a good idea to show my appreciation for some of my favourites right here.
This week’s selection is below and there are some absolute belters!
- The first is from @juliadimon and is a fantastic post perfect for Top Backpacking Destinations fans – the top 5 cheap destinations in the world: http://www.traveljunkiejulia.com/top-5-cheap-destinations/
- The next is from @thecloud_people and is fantastic guide to working in a hostel – a great way to make money on your travels: http://www.cloudpeopleadventures.com/2010/10/working-at-a-hostel/
- @kumukablog gives an incredible insight here into life in the Arctic Circle: http://www.kumukablog.com/living-in-the-arctic-circle/
- I’m a huge fan of the guys @amateursafrica and this post provides you with everything you need to know when travelling in Malawi: http://www.amateursinafrica.com/all-the-location-details/making-tracks-in-malawi/
- Finally, one that isn’t quite from the last week but i enjoyed for the interaction in the comments as much as the post itself – people have some strong opinions about the most overrated destination in the world! http://budgettravelintentions.com/2010/10/18/travel-tuesday-question-of-the-week-whats-the-most-overrated-destination/
So there you have the first TBD Top 5 from across the web – hope to see you next week for the next batch! If you’d like to be included or have a recommendation that i’ve missed then let me know in the comments so i don’t miss out anymore!