Tag Archives: Exploration

Get To Know Table Mountain’s Vastly Underrated Neighbor, Lion’s Head Mountain

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Being a self-proclaimed “Capetonian” pro, I often tell people I meet that the hike up Lion’s Head is much more enjoyable than the routes up Table Mountain. And for many reasons.

Table Mountain is one of the new seven natural wonders of the world and deservingly so.  This 1,085m mountain with a relatively flat summit earned its name from the spillage of clouds that cover the top like a tablecloth. It truly is a world wonder.

But.

Directly neighboring Table Mountain is another smaller, more precious mountain called Lion’s Head which stands at about 669m, much shorter than it’s counterpart. Lion’s Head has a unique spiral shape leading up to the apex of the mountain which resembles the shape of a lion laying down. It took me awhile to see it.

Lion’s Head lives in the shadow of the ever prominent Table Mountain, but I actually prefer it over its more popular neighbor.

Unlike most routes leading up Table Mountain, the singular path spiraling up to Lion’s Head is completely out in the open. You literally circle up with the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town, and Table Mountain always in view. To see the clouds blanketing Table in such a close encounter is simply stunning.

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To get to the base, or the start of the hike, simply take a taxi or a cheaper Uber there. That’s it. It’s impossible to get lost as there is only one route that leads up. No entry fees either. It’s completely free as of this post.

The hike itself is straightforward, but it’s the last twenty minutes or so that I would consider the fun part. You literally have to start using your hands to climb up steady boulders and crevices, along with ladders and chain-links to pull yourself up. You may hear people say that it was difficult, but these are the same tourists who would probably consider botanical gardens and art museums a crazy good time. The joy of climbing overwhelmed any difficulty I may have had. It takes about an hour to reach the top, depending on your pace. Though I guarantee you’ll be stopping a bunch to take photos, which is a must!

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Myself along with a few other backpackers made the climb around 4pm, to give us enough time to relax at the top and enjoy a few beers for the sunset. No, there aren’t any beerstands there. Instead, I filled up a dry bag with ice and cans of South Africa’s best brews and carried it up. Easy as pie. Many people also brought snacks and food to the top. Just make sure you take everything you brought up, back down with you as there are no bins for rubbish,

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While you are up there, every side of the top offers alluring panoramas and magazine-worthy shots. Feel free to explore everywhere!

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You MUST stay for the sunset! 

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But, don’t stay too long, especially without flashlights to guide your way back down. There is an alternate route to bypass all the climbing bits, that leads you back to the spiraling path downward, back to the start of the hike.

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The walk up to Lion’s Head didn’t take nearly as long as it did for Table Mountain, the route is more open, and is much easier on the legs when walking back down as opposed to the many rocky steps on Table. Although Table does have the cable car option.

Also with Table Mountain, sometimes you just never know when there’s an incoming cloud cover to totally block your view from everything. Like this…

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For more posts like these and everything related to ADVENTURE TRAVEL, please subscribe by clicking the Follow button on this page and also follow along on Instagram and Facebook! I’d love to hear from you.  🙂

 

 

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Get To Know Table Mountain's Vastly Underrated Neighbor, Lion's Head Mountain

IMG_9182

Being a self-proclaimed “Capetonian” pro, I often tell people I meet that the hike up Lion’s Head is much more enjoyable than the routes up Table Mountain. And for many reasons.

Table Mountain is one of the new seven natural wonders of the world and deservingly so.  This 1,085m mountain with a relatively flat summit earned its name from the spillage of clouds that cover the top like a tablecloth. It truly is a world wonder.

But.

Directly neighboring Table Mountain is another smaller, more precious mountain called Lion’s Head which stands at about 669m, much shorter than it’s counterpart. Lion’s Head has a unique spiral shape leading up to the apex of the mountain which resembles the shape of a lion laying down. It took me awhile to see it.

Lion’s Head lives in the shadow of the ever prominent Table Mountain, but I actually prefer it over its more popular neighbor.

Unlike most routes leading up Table Mountain, the singular path spiraling up to Lion’s Head is completely out in the open. You literally circle up with the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Town, and Table Mountain always in view. To see the clouds blanketing Table in such a close encounter is simply stunning.

IMG_9194.jpg

To get to the base, or the start of the hike, simply take a taxi or a cheaper Uber there. That’s it. It’s impossible to get lost as there is only one route that leads up. No entry fees either. It’s completely free as of this post.

The hike itself is straightforward, but it’s the last twenty minutes or so that I would consider the fun part. You literally have to start using your hands to climb up steady boulders and crevices, along with ladders and chain-links to pull yourself up. You may hear people say that it was difficult, but these are the same tourists who would probably consider botanical gardens and art museums a crazy good time. The joy of climbing overwhelmed any difficulty I may have had. It takes about an hour to reach the top, depending on your pace. Though I guarantee you’ll be stopping a bunch to take photos, which is a must!

IMG_0610.jpg

IMG_0646.jpg

Myself along with a few other backpackers made the climb around 4pm, to give us enough time to relax at the top and enjoy a few beers for the sunset. No, there aren’t any beerstands there. Instead, I filled up a dry bag with ice and cans of South Africa’s best brews and carried it up. Easy as pie. Many people also brought snacks and food to the top. Just make sure you take everything you brought up, back down with you as there are no bins for rubbish,

IMG_9115.jpg

IMG_9113.jpg

While you are up there, every side of the top offers alluring panoramas and magazine-worthy shots. Feel free to explore everywhere!

IMG_9200.jpg

IMG_9120.jpg

 

IMG_9174.jpg

You MUST stay for the sunset! 

IMG_9201.jpg

IMG_0628.jpg

IMG_9197.jpg

But, don’t stay too long, especially without flashlights to guide your way back down. There is an alternate route to bypass all the climbing bits, that leads you back to the spiraling path downward, back to the start of the hike.

IMG_0654.jpg

The walk up to Lion’s Head didn’t take nearly as long as it did for Table Mountain, the route is more open, and is much easier on the legs when walking back down as opposed to the many rocky steps on Table. Although Table does have the cable car option.

Also with Table Mountain, sometimes you just never know when there’s an incoming cloud cover to totally block your view from everything. Like this…

IMG_8701


For more posts like these and everything related to ADVENTURE TRAVEL, please subscribe by clicking the Follow button on this page and also follow along on Instagram and Facebook! I’d love to hear from you.  🙂

 

 

Exploration: Transylvania!

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I’ve never been as clueless backpacking through a foreign country as I was in Romania.

I don’t ever recommend going somewhere without knowing at least a little something, although not knowing anything about anything was exciting. I was all for it! If I were completely on my own, sure…I would have researched a bit, but since I had American Clay and French Ermeline as my new companions, I felt content with just going with their flow. Eastern Europe is definitely not my area of expertise.

I could have stayed longer in Brașov. That place was magical. I felt like I could have dove deeper into the world of Count Dracula, but there were two other cities of interest: Sighișoara and Sibiu. What’s there? No freakin’ idea. I heard from backpackers in Brașov that they were worth a visit. Good enough for me. Usually word-of-mouth is the best suggestions I get while traveling.

The three of us took a rather long train from Brașov to Sighișoara. Once we arrived, we met another backpacker by the name of Laurențiu (Belgium). We found our hostel, one of the only ones in town, within the confines of what was essentially a giant fortress.

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While walking inside the fort, it felt as if we were transported back a few centuries in time, except all the people had on modern-day clothing. Tall towers with humongous dome bells at their height boomed echoes inside the fort. Neatly stoned roads ran through the colorful hues of shops, inns, and old churches of ministry. There were many pubs and cafe’s, some even catered and themed around the legendary tales of Dracula and Vlad the Impaler. There were tourists around, mostly older chaps from surrounding countries. And not very many of them.

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We seized the day and explored the whole fort. We began at a cemetery, just opposite our hostel, that overlooked the city beyond the walls.

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Cemeteries generally give off an unsettling vibe, but this one…this one was strangely peaceful. May have had to do with the positioning of the sun at those given moments. The sun was transitioning into the short period of time before setting.

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We were led to the ledges of the fort, that gave us a view of the impressive scene on the outskirts of the city center.

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We traced back to a random pub somewhere, almost stumbled upon, where we met with Laurențiu and put back a few brews before we went off to find actual food, which proved to be a difficult task because everything closed early as heck!

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We only stayed in Sighișoara for one night before we took another train to Sibiu. Sibiu was like Brașov, except much bigger. Here, we checked into our hostel, where Ermeline and I met another backpacker from the US. She was on her own solo wander around Eastern Europe. After I expressed my less-than pleased infatuation with Bran Castle, she told me of an even grander castle just about an hours drive west. It’s called Corvin Castle and it turns out that the best and most convenient option would be to rent a car and drive ourselves there. And so that’s what we did!

There were four of us total to split the ride as I drove us to Hunedoara, the home setting for Corvin Castle. Just from the looks of it, this castle was much more impressive than Bran Castle.

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Corvin is one of the largest castles in Europe and one of the seven wonders of Romania. I’ve seen this familiar castle before…somewhere featured in some form of media, be it movies, television, or books. It was humongous, surrounded by an empty moat and a long bridge that crossed it. The palace wings along the castle were built with turrets that overlooked into Hunedoara. We paid a minimal fee to enter the castle and began our exploration in the inner court and straight into the Knight’s Hall.

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According to descriptions scattered about, this castle is said to be where Vlad the Impaler was held prisoner by Hungary’s military leader. This castle is also said to be a source of inspiration for Bram Stoker’s imaginative Dracula’s castle. Who knows?

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The castle featured several interesting rooms, such as the throne hall, a tomb site, the Matthias Loggia, a dungeon filled with torture equipment, and a trophy room, just to name a few. What I appreciated about Corvin Castle was that everything was still intact, unlike Bran Castle which felt more like a museum rather than medieval architecture.

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On to the Food 🙂

I didn’t really get full on to the Romanian delicacy until I arrived in Sibiu. The food was great, but I was particularly fond of their desserts, especially their papanași.

This is a version of papanași I demolished in Sibiu…

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Papanași is a Romanian traditional fried or boiled pastry resembling a small sphere, usually filled with a soft cheese such as urdă and any kind of sour jam. This is according to Dexonline. It was absolutely delicious and I had it again the next day.

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I also had one of these…

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Sorry guys. I was so into eating this that I forgot to jot down what this was called. Let me describe it as best as I can from what I can remember. Muddled raspberries wrapped in lightly fried crepes, stacked on top of each other. Then drizzled with an easy layer of a yogurt sauce and then topped with shaved milk chocolate. Just as tasty as the papanași. Oddly enough, I believe this dish is Moldovan inspired.

Eventually, I also tried this.

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This was also a taste of heaven and it’s called goulash. Goulash is basically a stew with the essential components of some type of meat (usually beef), onions and paprika. This version used potatoes and other ingredients. However, as tasty as it is, the goulash dish is actually Hungarian inspired, but it’s popularity soared here in Romania.

Sibiu treated us to spectacular nights and lots of rain.

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Where to next? A major city called Cluj-Napoca or just Cluj for short. Ermeline studies there and she invited Clay and I to come and visit her. Of course we will!

“What’s so special about Cluj?” I asked Ermeline because I’ve never heard of the place until she mentioned it.

She explained many things about it to me. It has a nice botanical garden, lots of restaurants, museums, interesting architecture, and that it’s a student city.

But, there was one thing in particular about it she mentioned that completely won me over.

“Cluj also has the most haunted forest in the world.” she said, almost as an uninteresting side note.

“The most haunted forest in the world?! I basically shouted. “I must go there!”

 

 

Exploration Island

I’ve been on this island for a few days now and haven’t really seen much besides the area where my bungalows were. Today that would all change when Rob, Leticia, Luke, and I decided to take a boat around the island and enjoy a few leisurely activities along the way. A local who owned his own boat offered to take us exploring around the island for the small fee of $5 per person, which included lunch and snorkeling. Deal! So in the morning, we grouped up and met the guy (I forget his name but I’ll refer to him as the Captain) at his dock. His boat was small, but big enough to hold a few people, so it did the trick. Thankfully, the weather was amazing and the waters today were extremely calm which was great for my stomach. 🙂 With everything in our favor, we set a course across the blue to a small island that had a buddhist temple at the top of it’s hill.

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The captain threw the anchor overboard and said that we could snorkel here. It’s been years since I’ve snorkeled but was pretty keen to just swim around the small island. This was a great place to snorkel because the water was deep enough where I wouldn’t touch or scrape anything, and there were still loads of coral and fish to see. It was a bit choppy though along the coast and we kept bumping into each other which made for great laughs!

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On that small islet, we took off our flippers and went up the flight of steps to the buddhist temple which looked like it had been abandoned for a bit. There wasn’t much to see here, so we went back to snorkeling. About fifteen minutes or so, the captain summoned us to return to the boat and set a course around the bend of the main island of Koh Rong. The sun was shining bright so the others decided to lay on the deck and get their tan on while I decided to stay cool under the covering since my tan is already so great ;). We got a great synopsis of the island coast as we cruised along. Most of the island is uninhabited, with acres of jungle spilling over into the coast. Along patches of water were small fishing boats, with locals fishing for their dinner for the night; which brings us to our next stop. The captain steered the boat near some of the other fishing boats and dropped anchor. He let us know that we would try our hand at line fishing. Line fishing is fishing in the simplest of ways. Basically you have a a spindle with a few dozen meters of fishing line attached to it, with a hook on the end. Just attach the bait and unravel the line into the ocean and once you feel a tug, just start spinning the line back up. Sounds simple. The captain gave us small shrimp to use as bait. None of us were successful in catching a fish except for Luke who caught a little guy. What our captain didn’t mention to us at the beginning was that the fish we caught would be our “free” lunch for the day. If we didn’t catch any fish, we would have to pay a very small price for fish that’s already been caught. Even if I caught my own fish, I still would not have eaten it. Blah! And if I did catch one, someone else is going to have to take it off the hook. I’m not touching that slimy thing. Spiders, snakes, bugs…no problem. Fish? Take it away!

So since we were mostly unsuccessful, we rose anchor and boated to a small village nearby. The village was risen above the waters via a series of wooden polls and planks. There were wooden boats everywhere, and the rickety bridges that connected the village huts were the “main avenues” of the community.

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It was a completely different world compared to the other side of the island we stayed at. The locals here were pleasant and were in a peaceful state. Even so nice, one of the local woman caught a big fish right in front of our eyes, descaled it, cut it, and prepared it for us. You couldn’t get fish any fresher than this.

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The cook told us the fish would be served with rice. I politely asked her if I could just have the rice without the fish. I told her I didn’t really like fish. She didn’t really understand why but was worried that I would starve. I’d be okay! I’ll just eat when I get back to the bungalows later. Afterwards, the captain summoned us and gave us directions for a hike over a hill to the opposite side of the island. He told us on the other side, we would find a hidden beach where we would find no other people called Coconut Beach, one of the best beaches in Cambodia. We made the hot hike over the hill. The sun was beaming! It was so hot that the captain declared we carry the sole female of the group, Leticia over the hill!

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As we trekked closer the captain told us he would go back and command the boat around the island to pick us up in about an hour or so, and we’d have free time to explore what the beach had to offer on our own. We soon found that everything the captain said was true. We arrived to a beach, barely touched by man with ivory sand and waters as clear and blue as the afternoon sky.

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I’ve been to many beaches on this planet, and I can say without a doubt that this particular beach is one of the best beaches I have ever been to! The water was a perfect temperature, not too cold, yet not grossly hot. The visibility underwater was clear as day. Their was a smooth, gentle current that brushed the milky coast. Palm trees, as tall as skyscrapers served as the backdrop for this prodigious setting. This was the life. The others agreed. We ended up staying here for more than an hour, constantly reminding each other how stunning this beach was.

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After awhile, we saw the captain steering our boat towards us. It was time to go. We hit the sea and cruised back around the island towards our main dock. Along the way, we each took turns guiding the boat along the route, much to the amusement of the captain.

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It’s been a fascinating day, exploring mostly unseen parts of the island and as simple as the day was, it was one of my favorite days in Cambodia so far. That beach, Coconut Beach, was just something special. We finally made it back to the bungalows where I immediately took a nap in my bungalow. My time here on the island was coming to a satisfactory close.

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