My Travel Highlights of 2016

2016 was a good year. I went off on a 6 month adventure around the world covering places like Tanzania, South Africa, India, Nepal, Morocco, Portugal, Berlin, and many more. There were so many of highlights along the way. I can’t help but think back and feel very grateful.

Even though there was so much to choose from, here are my top travel highlights of 2016:

Teaching Photography in South Africa

In February I had the wonderful opportunity of teaching photography to underprivileged children in Port Elizabeth, South Africa through an organization called SNAP.

I had never taught photography before therefore, I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know if I would be a good teacher or if the kids would enjoy my classes however, I quickly realized that would not be the case. The children were overjoyed to learn photography because it’s something they haven’t been exposed to before. It was a new way for them to express themselves and learn a new skill. I went there to inspire the kids with photography but I left being the one inspired. These children were talented, hardworking, caring, ambitious, and eager to learn. Overall, teaching photography in South Africa was a travel highlight for 2016 and surely the rest of my life.

Safari in Tanzania

An African Safari has always been at the top of my bucket list. It is an experience I had always thought about doing but didn’t know when or if it would ever happen. This year I decided to start my 6 month travel in Tanzania, Africa. One of the best safari destinations in the world. I adore the wildlife in Africa. It was so surreal to see the animals, such as, lions, giraffes, elephants, and wildebeests roaming free just living their life. I found the whole experience to be very fascinating because I had never witnessed wildlife in this capacity before.

I went through the Safari company African Scenic Safaris and there wasn’t anything I would change about the experience. I chose a budget safari which meant I was camping in the National Parks every night. It was such a good way to feel closer to nature. Some nights I would even get visitors to my tent like, zebras, buffalos, and even lions one night! Camping just made the whole experience so much more authentic. Throughout the safari we went to Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Natron, The Serengeti, and Lake Eyasi.

Here are some photos from my African Safari:

Climbing Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano

During my 11 day Safari we also had some culture and adventure experiences included in our itinerary. The most active and adventurous day was hiking to the top of Ol Doinyo Lengai Volcano. This was a 6 hour hike beginning at midnight and it was easily the most challenging thing I have ever done in my entire life. I don’t know that I can describe the magnitude of this hike.  It is only 3,188m high but the difficulty lies in the incline. It is VERY steep. I knew this going in and I didn’t put pressure on myself to make it to the top. I just wanted to get to a good spot and enjoy the sunrise. However, the more I continued on the hike the more I realized that I could actually do this. I picked up speed and was determined to make it to the peak for sunrise. During my time hiking up the volcano I thought to myself “this is the craziest thing I have ever done but the most amazing thing I have ever done”. Towards the top it was so steep that I couldn’t even stand up so I ended up having to crawl to the top of the volcano. I was so elated, I couldn’t believe I made it. It was shivering cold but I watched the sunrise. As the sun rose I could see how high up I was as well as the stunning view. It was terrifying but breathtaking at the same time.

I didn’t take a lot of photos at the top due to my frozen hands but here are a few I do have.

The Mountain Flight In Nepal

I travelled to Nepal back in May. Although I wasn’t cut out to climb to Mount Everest Base Camp like other travellers I still wanted to see see the mountain. A few airlines including Buddah Airways offer what they call the “Mountain Flight”. I boarded the plane in Kathmandu and went on a 3o min flight with spectacular views of the Himalayas along the way and was brought up to the cockpit where the pilot pointed out Mount Everest to me. It was surreal to see Mount Everest. It just felt like such a legendary experience.

If you travel to Nepal and and aren’t interested in going on any intense hikes I would recommend the Buddah Airways Mountain Flight. It is a good way to see Mount Everest and the surrounding Himalayas.

Climbing Lions Head In Cape Town

Lions Head is a mountain in Cape Town in between Signal Hill and Table Mountain. It is a fairly straightforward 1 hour hike. It is a popular hiking attraction for both tourists and locals with more than 200,000 climbs a year. It is a picture-perfect mountain top with jaw dropping views. It is particular stunning for sunrise and sunset but be sure to bring a headlamp as there are no lights on the trail. This hike is a highlight for me because I climbed to the top for sunset and it was the most beautiful and peaceful sunset I have ever experienced.

Volunteering At Drakenstein Lion Park

After the Safari in Tanzania I was inspired to volunteer with animals. I found a lion sanctuary in Paarl, South Africa that wasn’t free but super cheap compared to other volunteer experiences and I would have the opportunity to work for the lions. I was heading to Cape Town anyways and since Paarl is just a 30 min drive away I decided to give it a go. It ended up being one of the best experiences of not only my entire trip but of my entire life. I loved being surrounded by animals everyday and hearing the lions roar during the night. I never imagined myself working in this setting before. Trekking through the jungle collecting food for the animals. It is a great way to give back and experience South Africa.

What are your travel highlights of 2016? Post in the comment section below.

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