Tag Archives: waterfalls

Defying Death In The Devil’s Pool: Victoria Falls of Zambia

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The only thing I wanted to do in Zambia was to swim in the Devil’s Pool, situated on the very edge of the world’s largest waterfalls, Victoria Falls.


Victoria Falls ‘The Smoke That Thunders’ is the largest waterfall in the world that sits on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also happens to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

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To get there, my current travel buddy Will and I flew an easy flight from Nelspruit in South Africa to Livingstone in Zambia. We paid about $10 USD for a van to take us to the Zambia/Zimbabwe border where we paid our visa fees in an oven-like immigration office packed with hordes of tourists from private tour companies. Eventually, we were granted access into Zimbabwe where we stayed in a hostel for a few nights.

We knew that on the edge of the waterfall, there was a natural pool that was completely safe to swim in without falling off the edge. However, we weren’t aware that the pool was on the Zambia side of Victoria’s Falls!

Do your research folks!

I’m all for spontaneous travel, but a little research is necessary in order to save you from boneheaded, avoidable costs. We had to pay another visa fee to get across to Zambia, just to visit Devil’s Pool. If we’d planned properly, we would have gotten our multiple-entry visa from the start, instead of a single entry. Oops.

On top of that, we were lucky that we arrived in the right season (any other time, the waterfall is too vicious, particularly during the rainy seasons).

We were lucky that there were two spaces available on such short notice (we didn’t bother to book in advance, although we should have). There is only one company that does the tour to the falls, so spaces are quite limited.

AND we were even luckier that although we were part of a larger group of about ten people, Will and I got to separate from our group to go into the falls freely for some time before our group rejoined us.

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Devil’s Pool sits right on the edge of Victoria Falls, but is walled and barricaded from thousands of years of erosion which formed this death-defying pool. Completely natural and definitely something you can’t do in many places in the world. Oddly enough, I felt safe; even while peering over the edge into the thunderous smoke.

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Normally, it’s a bit of a rush to go into the pool because of how sought after it is. There are dozens of groups each day waiting for the experience. We were fortunate with the opportunity to take our time before the rest of the group joined us.

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We learned that the Zambia side is known for the famous pool, while the Zimbabwe side is notable for the views of Victoria Falls in its entirety. After experiencing the Zambia side a bit more (including an awesome breakfast), we went back across the border to enter the national park in the Zimbabwe side. As of this post, the cost to enter the park for international visitors is $30 USD.

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To be completely honest, I wasn’t interested in going into the park because I was absolutely content with the up close and personal views from the Zambia side. Will was keen on it. I went out of guilt. I’ll probably never come back here, so just do it! I’m glad I did. The sights were out of this world!

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The park was enormous and there were many individual viewpoints along the cliff’s edge to see the waterfalls in all of its glory.

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Victoria Falls is doable in one day. Spend the morning on the Zambia side at Devil’s Pool and then the rest of the day up to the golden hours of sunset on the Zimbabwe side for the views. I highly recommend a visit!

But remember this important information

  • Devil’s Pool can only be accessed from the Zambia side.
  • Devil’s Pool is only possible to experience during the drier months from about mid-August to mid-January.
  • Book a tour in advance for peace of mind. A tour is the only way to access the pool and there is only one company that has the rights to do so. Most hotels and hostels can help you with this.
  • Proper views of Victoria Falls are only possible on the Zimbabwe side. It costs $30 USD for international guests. They do take credit cards.
  • Plan your visas accordingly to avoid paying more than you have to. Depending on where you’re flying in/out and where your accommodation is, it might be wise to invest in a double-entry or multiple-entry. Sometimes, a special day entry is possible as well.
  • Everything on the Zimbabwe side is priced in US dollars. Make sure you have some if you plan to take taxis.

There is much more to do there besides just visiting the falls. There’s a popular bungee jump overlooking the falls as well as a world-renowned white water rafting among other tours and getaways. We were short on time and didn’t get to do either, unfortunately.

You live and you learn!

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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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Defying Death In The Devil's Pool: Victoria Falls of Zambia

DCIM101GOPROG0136239.


The only thing I wanted to do in Zambia was to swim in the Devil’s Pool, situated on the very edge of the world’s largest waterfalls, Victoria Falls.


Victoria Falls ‘The Smoke That Thunders’ is the largest waterfall in the world that sits on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also happens to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

IMG_6049

To get there, my current travel buddy Will and I flew an easy flight from Nelspruit in South Africa to Livingstone in Zambia. We paid about $10 USD for a van to take us to the Zambia/Zimbabwe border where we paid our visa fees in an oven-like immigration office packed with hordes of tourists from private tour companies. Eventually, we were granted access into Zimbabwe where we stayed in a hostel for a few nights.

We knew that on the edge of the waterfall, there was a natural pool that was completely safe to swim in without falling off the edge. However, we weren’t aware that the pool was on the Zambia side of Victoria’s Falls!

Do your research folks!

I’m all for spontaneous travel, but a little research is necessary in order to save you from boneheaded, avoidable costs. We had to pay another visa fee to get across to Zambia, just to visit Devil’s Pool. If we’d planned properly, we would have gotten our multiple-entry visa from the start, instead of a single entry. Oops.

On top of that, we were lucky that we arrived in the right season (any other time, the waterfall is too vicious, particularly during the rainy seasons).

We were lucky that there were two spaces available on such short notice (we didn’t bother to book in advance, although we should have). There is only one company that does the tour to the falls, so spaces are quite limited.

AND we were even luckier that although we were part of a larger group of about ten people, Will and I got to separate from our group to go into the falls freely for some time before our group rejoined us.

DCIM101GOPROG0136210.

Devil’s Pool sits right on the edge of Victoria Falls, but is walled and barricaded from thousands of years of erosion which formed this death-defying pool. Completely natural and definitely something you can’t do in many places in the world. Oddly enough, I felt safe; even while peering over the edge into the thunderous smoke.

DCIM101GOPROG0136239.

IMG_6116

Normally, it’s a bit of a rush to go into the pool because of how sought after it is. There are dozens of groups each day waiting for the experience. We were fortunate with the opportunity to take our time before the rest of the group joined us.

IMG_6147

We learned that the Zambia side is known for the famous pool, while the Zimbabwe side is notable for the views of Victoria Falls in its entirety. After experiencing the Zambia side a bit more (including an awesome breakfast), we went back across the border to enter the national park in the Zimbabwe side. As of this post, the cost to enter the park for international visitors is $30 USD.

IMG_6159

To be completely honest, I wasn’t interested in going into the park because I was absolutely content with the up close and personal views from the Zambia side. Will was keen on it. I went out of guilt. I’ll probably never come back here, so just do it! I’m glad I did. The sights were out of this world!

IMG_6298

IMG_6328

The park was enormous and there were many individual viewpoints along the cliff’s edge to see the waterfalls in all of its glory.

IMG_6247

IMG_6207

Victoria Falls is doable in one day. Spend the morning on the Zambia side at Devil’s Pool and then the rest of the day up to the golden hours of sunset on the Zimbabwe side for the views. I highly recommend a visit!

But remember this important information

  • Devil’s Pool can only be accessed from the Zambia side.
  • Devil’s Pool is only possible to experience during the drier months from about mid-August to mid-January.
  • Book a tour in advance for peace of mind. A tour is the only way to access the pool and there is only one company that has the rights to do so. Most hotels and hostels can help you with this.
  • Proper views of Victoria Falls are only possible on the Zimbabwe side. It costs $30 USD for international guests. They do take credit cards.
  • Plan your visas accordingly to avoid paying more than you have to. Depending on where you’re flying in/out and where your accommodation is, it might be wise to invest in a double-entry or multiple-entry. Sometimes, a special day entry is possible as well.
  • Everything on the Zimbabwe side is priced in US dollars. Make sure you have some if you plan to take taxis.

There is much more to do there besides just visiting the falls. There’s a popular bungee jump overlooking the falls as well as a world-renowned white water rafting among other tours and getaways. We were short on time and didn’t get to do either, unfortunately.

You live and you learn!

DCIM101GOPROG0106012.

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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Down Along The Great Ocean Road!

The Great Ocean Road…

The name of it alone sounds like something I needed to see!

My Australian friend Alison is the key reason why I’m able to experience a photographer’s dream known as the Great Ocean Road. I met her while backpacking in Laos, completely fascinated by how many countries she’s traveled to and how she’s able to work all over the world. Interesting fact, Alison is the one who taught me how to ride a motor pad for the very first time ever! We managed to get out of a little trouble then, thanks to her quick thinking. She’s unfortunately away in Dubai on business but still she kindly offered her home to me over the weekend in Torquay. Her house is large enough to have just a handful of guests, so I invited a few notables to come along with me, much to their delight. I used some of my points from my travel credit card (I have tons of points to spare) to rent an SUV to drive along the road. Luca and Mahid would join us using their camper van.

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I picked up Mychaela, a fellow Michigander, from her au pair job in Melbourne along with a couple of others and off we went! The drive down to Torquay was about an hour and a half south of our hostel. Once we pulled up, we were floored by just how spacious the place was! Alison’s mom met us there to welcome us and gave a brief tour of the house.

“If you need anything, I live just ten minutes away,” she said. “Plus, you have my number.”

Upon entering, I told my comrades, “Everything needs to look like we weren’t even here when we leave on Sunday night.”

My friends were amazingly respectful. I knew they would be, otherwise I wouldn’t have brought them along.

Now, as far as food is concerned, the whole plan was to buy groceries and cook our meals at the house. As a group, we all went to the nearest Coles to stock up. Grocery shopping for a large group at once was not as easy as I thought. Everyone had different ideas and had different tastes. I already knew I wasn’t going to cook anything, so I let the others choose. Mychaela is a huge fan of tacos (as am I) so we got stuff to make those. Luca had a pasta dish he saw from tasty.com that he wanted to prepare for everyone. I was happy that I had a few good cooks among the group because the world knows that I can’t cook without a YouTube tutorial at hand. Even then, it’s risky.

It was Friday. We planned on feasting and hanging out at the house and setting off early the next day down the Great Ocean Road.

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Chef Luca hard at work on his pasta dish…

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With Tara helping out. I was glad I had a crew full of capable cooks.

I invited another traveler I met in Vietnam a few years ago to drive with us down the Ocean Road. Her name is Tara and she lived just 20 minutes away from where we were staying. Nicolas hopped in her car and they followed us as we made the driving journey.

The road is twisty and curvy as all heck, but absolutely stunning. We had the Pacific Ocean to our left and rain forests along thundering mountains that towered above us directly to our right. We had plenty of good music at hand. To describe the feel as a driver, it was hard not to keep looking at everything. This had to be one of the most scenic routes in the world.

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We stopped in Lorne upon Tara’s suggestion because she knew of a place with a few cool waterfalls. We easy trailed to Sheoak Falls, the first of a few waterfalls in the region.

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Upon arrival to the second waterfall, Luca and Mahid’s camper van began to smoke from underneath. They bought the van over near Perth on the Western Coast and drove all the way along the south. Maintenance issues were bound to happen but they were able to fix it…I think?

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Luca and Mahid aren’t mechanics, but they were sure they could solve the problem.

The second waterfall led us along a trail into the forest. The girls stayed behind while the guys trekked deeper until we eventually decided to go back as not to keep the girls waiting all day.

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That night, Tara left back home to visit a friend but Debbie came to join us for the next days drive to the Twelve Apostles.

As a group, the nights back in the house were quite entertaining. We played random games where both Mychaela and Luca both lost to my bets and had to suffer the consequences. Mychaela had to take in a spoonful of Vegemite while Luca had to take a shot of Sriracha sauce.

Video evidence below.

 

I introduced a few other social games I play with friends back home in which they all enjoyed.

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Tarek and I were full of dabbing attacks.

The plan for the next day was to drive all the way down to the Twelve Apostles further down the Ocean Road.

The Twelve Apostles is a group of  limestone formations off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park. Currently there are eight apostles left, the ninth stack having collapsed in July 2005. The name remains significant and spectacular especially in the Australian tourism industry. (Wikipedia)

We took a shortcut through the backwoods instead of going along the coast to cut our driving time in half.

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IMG_0170.jpgL to R: Myself, Debbie, Mychaela, Nicolas, Tarek.

Further down the coast, we dropped of Nicolas in Warnanbool, where he volunteered over the week. Later on we returned to the house in Torquay, spruced up, packed our belongings, and drove up back to Melbourne.

As great as the weekend was, this would be my last night with all of my Melbourne cohorts. Mychaela would stay in Melbourne for several more months continuing her au pair job. I’m sure I’ll see her back in Michigan seeing as how she lives ten minutes away from my mom. Debbie and Tara both returned to their respective jobs, while the backpackers I spent so much time with the past week all continued to look for jobs for their working visa. Luca, Mahid, Tarek, and Jules all landed farming jobs together the day after I left them. Good luck guys!

This is what they sent me a few weeks later.

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As for me? Where was I going? I had an early flight the following morning all the way to the west coast of Australia in a place called Perth.

There I met a friend who took me to one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to…along with the happiest animals on Earth!

Guata Goonies

Semuc Champey?

What the heck is that? A volunteer by the name of Hanni (Australia) invited me out to Semuc with a few of the volunteers from her house. I didn’t really ask her what or where Semuc Champey was, I just wanted to go somewhere for the weekend after spending the past few nights at home. The drive to Semuc would be a little more than nine hours! I got my motion pills ready. Thankfully the roads in this part of the country aren’t too shabby.

After inquiring, I found out that Semuc Champey is one of the most beautifully adventurous places in the country.

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It’s in an area called Lanquin. It’s there where you’ll find scenic mountains surrounding levels of aqua blue pools cascaded by waterfalls. Near these pools and waterfalls was an underground cave filled with black water deep enough to swim in. We were going there and I felt like this is exactly what I needed!

I was picked up in the morning from Maximo, along with Hanni and three other volunteers from her house. The ride to Lanquin was a long one but manageable. We were part of a tour group that made the journey in a minibus filled with close to twenty people from all parts of the globe. We arrived in Lanquin during the nightfall where my group transfered into the back of a Guata style pickup truck and transported to our hostel for the weekend, Hostel Oasis.

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It was more like a bunch of cabinas and bungalows than a typical hostel.

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That night, we enjoyed dinner at the hostels restaurant where I enjoyed a cheeseburger and fries. We woke up that morning where I also enjoyed a cheeseburger and fries for breakfast.

“Typical American,” my group would jokingly say.

Hey, I just went six weeks without any beef! I needed those burgers! And plenty more where that came from. I did the same thing in Thailand where Viola also playfully made fun of my unorthodox eating habits. It’s not an American thing to eat a cheeseburger for breakfast, it’s just me. 🙂

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The first item on our agenda was a short hike up one of the mountains overlooking the pools. It took about 25 minutes before we easily reached the top where we found a deck that poked out beyond the plateau.

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After a few shots, we hiked back down and got into our swimsuits. IMG_7021Into the pools! The pools were completely natural and there were about four of them, each on different levels. The water was cool and felt great with the sun casting down on us. In order to get to the lower level pools, you either had to jump down into them or mudslide down into them. We did both! The slide down was over smooth mossy rocks that have been flattened out from the never ending flow of water. It was great. It was all great!

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Underneath one of the lower pools was a small tiny underpass that we had to carefully poke our heads under and through. One abrupt movement meant hitting your head against the rock walls just inches away. My mild claustrophobia went out the window. I had to try it!

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Me and Hanni!
Me and Hanni!

After splashing around, we went back up the pools and walked back up to the lodge for lunch. I had tostadas y arroz con vegetables. After lunch, we were gathered to hike over to the caves. I’ve been wearing my trusty water shoes all day which are good for moderate hikes and anything related to water. I don’t use them much but when I do need them I’m glad I had them. It’s like being barefoot with grips without the bulkiness of a normal hiking shoe. I wore those and my Under Armour gear for these caves. We were each given a candle to hold. We were told that these caves were pitch-black, deep, and filled with water and even some waterfalls. There would be many parts where we would have to tread water with our candle because the water would be too deep inside. Some of the others were nervous about this, but thankfully none of them backed down and were game for it!

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Instantly, I was reminded of one my favorite movies, The Goonies. I felt like a Goonie, as corny as that sounds. Remember the parts when they were in the caves with the waterfalls? These caves were way beyond my expectations. We were surrounded in total darkness, with only our candlelights to lead the way.

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The water was a lot colder in here and whenever we swam, sometimes we would hit an unexpected rock underneath the eerily black water. We’d have to squeeze through tight crevices in some areas in order to progress and it seemed like the more we progressed, the more difficult the terrain became. Some of the people in our group lost their flame by accidentally sticking their IMG_7047candle underwater. It happened to me a few times actually. At one point, we had the option to go up the natural stairs into another cavern or climb a raging waterfall that bashed on your body into the cavern. I chose the raging waterfall, but it was so dark in there that I could barely get any good photos. I brought my iPhone with a waterproof case inside, which was extremely risky on my part, but I just had to document this. If I dropped the phone or if it fell from my neck, it would have been gone forever. Forever! My GoPro is no good in dark conditions so I left that in Antigua. Some of the others were glad there was someone dumb enough to bring their phone inside these caves to take photos of them as well. I was that guy!

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After about an hour and a half of pure fun in the caves, we made it to the deepest, darkest end of it, seemingly at least. Our guide let us climb a few meters up and cliff jump into the pool of black. Of course, I had to do that too. Hanni was also game! When I jumped in, I let my feet hit the ground. I’d say the pool was about 15 feet deep, more or less. I sat on the floor of it and opened my eyes and saw nothing but black. After a few seconds I floated back up to the top, where the others thought I hit my head on something. “Nope, I was just chilling down there!”

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We went back through the cave the same way we went in. But at this point, our candles only had a couple inches of wax left. If all of our candles were to burn out while we were in the cave, I wouldn’t have minded it actually. What an adventure it would have been to try and get out of the cave in total darkness! As a matter of fact, I tossed my candle a while ago because I was sick of it always losing its flame everytime I went underwater. Worst case scenario, I still had my iPhone flashlight if things got messy.

We exited the caves and marched down back to the lodge. That was one of the funnest things I have ever done! Expectations exceeded. But the day wasn’t over yet, we still had to go tubing down the river.

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We were each giving a tube…some of the smallest tubes I have ever been in. We walked down to the river. At this point, the sun wasn’t shining as bright so it was a bit more chilly than earlier. This fact was even more so evident when I went into the water! The guide had us interlock our legs to a person in front of us.

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We floated outward into the flows. A bird flying high above us may have mistaken us for a giant snake swimming down the river. I was in an awkward position in the tube which was very comfortable to sit in. Most of my tube was underwater the whole time. I don’t think this is right. But still I sat there, leglocked with the other tubers while little local kids tubed near us selling beer. The cold didn’t bother them one bit. Little troopers.

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After a very fun weekend, my group packed our bags and made way back to Antigua. Semuc Champey was just the place I needed to go to after lying in bed sick all  week. I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about it.  We arrived back home during the evening. I saw the lights on in Katie’s room.

“Katie, I’m back!” I shouted as I knocked at her door. The door slowly swung open but it wasn’t Katie. It was a new volunteer who introduced herself as Uma (USA).

“Katie, stepped out for a moment,” she said. “But she told us we should wait for you before we go out for dinner.”

Uma informed me that while I was away for the weekend, that a few new volunteers arrived, which was music to my ears! After Adelah left, the place was starting to get lonely. How do you cap off a great weekend in an awesome place? I expected to just go to sleep when I got back home but instead, I was treated to wine, wine, and delicious food, with new volunteers from all around the world.

Things are off to a great start!

River Raiders

I am a Pisces. The symbol for the Pisces are two fish, which symbolizes adeptness in water. I’m not into that astrological mumbo jumbo but my sign hits the nail right on the head. I love the water and the deeper the better! Even though Austria is landlocked, it’s still riddled with plots of water: lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, all dwelling from the Alps spread throughout the country. I never scuba dived in fresh water before, only in the ocean. I wouldn’t mind it here though, the lakes and rivers were practically crystal clear and clean! There’s a law here on these lakes; no unauthorized motorized water transportation, as it will disturb the peace.

Kevin had to work today, so Alex swooped in to show me around his parents lake house. It’s a snug little place perched right on the edge of the lake in Mondsee. It’s the perfect spot to have a few friends over for a great night on the water.

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Along the deck, an army of spiders everywhere. They were really cool looking; not ugly at all. In fact, I’m a big fan of those little guys.

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Kevin, Alex, and I planned on going river diving in one of the numerous rivers nearby. The place we went to had us put on layers of water gear, including water gloves, and a hood to cover our heads. It’s more stuff than I’d ever put on before when diving. We walked with a small group about a hundred meters to a river graced with smaller waterfalls and all sorts of marine critters. This was our scenic setting for the river dive.

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In order to access the river, we had to leap about four meters off a small cliff. I didn’t have a proper attachment for my GoPro, so I tuck it inside my wetsuit and dove into the river, right behind Kevin. I couldn’t feel the temperature of the water just yet because I was covered in layers of thick swimming gear. It was deep in some areas and shallow in others, but you could always see the floor and everything around you. I retrieved my GoPro from my suit and took action!

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The water was cool and clear. We weren’t scuba diving, but instead had snorkels. We’d dive deep into the water with our snorkel and float near the surface in the shallow parts. It was a whole lot of fun and the perfect substitution for actual scuba diving. What a blast!

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Krimml Waterfalls (Krimmler Wasserfälle)

Later on, Kevin and I drove about three hours out to one of the tallest waterfalls in all of Austria. I must mention that Kevin has been a trooper with driving me everywhere, just to show me the best of the best around! The drive to the waterfall was a little longer but worth it.

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As with all of my hikes as of late, this one was also a windy zig zag up to the very top of the falls. The falls are 380 meters high (1,247 feet) and ice cold. It was an easy day of waterfalls and hiking up, up, and more up.

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There is a small town nearby that is so great that there is a place in China that replicated it almost completely the same! It’s this place here…

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There’s not much to do here. It’s just a nice place where old people can relax.

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My last couple of days in Austria were winding down. Its been 10 days of enjoyable outdoor activities. I was spoiled with more mountains and lakes than I could handle in one small period and I loved every moment of it. On my last full night, Kevin wanted to take me to an Augustiner Bräu in Salzburg.

“What is this place?” I asked Kevin.

“It’s a cool place,” he would say in his Arnold Schwarzenegger accent.

It was a beer tent with big tables and one liter beer mugs just like in Oktoberfest. Not again. Not another beerfest?! I checked myself out like a week ago. But it was my last night, so I had one liter with Kevin and his buddies.

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Then I called it quits. No more booze for me for awhile. My liver was put to more work in Europe than ever in my life in such a long period of time. Water became my new best friend.

I gotta hand it to Kevin and Alex. They showed me A LOT! They were the superb hosts and made sure my stay was perfect…and it was! Kevin’s folks also spoiled me rotten. They even folded all my clothes after washing and drying them!

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I enjoyed Austria. I’d probably say it is one of my favorite countries in Europe and maybe even overall. The five-star scenery just never ended.

I said my goodbyes and took a blablacar back up to Munich. I spent the night at German Kevin’s place and had dinner with him, his girlfriend Nicole, his roommate Guiren, and also Miriam! The next day I had to catch a flight out of Europe to my next continent of interest.

Thank you to all my Euro friends who hosted me and met up with me. My stay in Europe was cheap (comparatively to most backpackers who travel Europe) and amazing!

I set off to Asia to start a new chapter in this global escapade beginning with a quick stop back to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam! 🙂