12 Days of Christmas – 11 favourite places

Continuing the 12 days of Christmas, here are my 11 favourite places of my round the world trip so far.

11

It’s tough to decide on this list as I could do my 11 favourite places of Utah alone, but coming in at number 11 is the Wirepass slot canyon near Page, USA. The mixture of truly amazing scenery and formations combined with the teasing of Lars made for one of the best day hikes I’ve done so far!

10

Coming in at number 10 is Tupiza, Bolivia. The red sand desert landscape punctured by towering cliffs, cacti and a rock that looks like an Elephant, the sleepy friendly town and warm weather meant I truly loved Tupiza. There is even a creepy cemetery complete with eerie midi music and a goat herder just outside town!

9

For beach life, you can’t beat Bocas Del Toro, Panama. With the crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, crashing waves, laid back atmosphere, parties and drinks promotions every night, loads of friendly travellers… It’s an amazing place and was the first place I played in the ocean since I started travelling.

8

Loads of people hated it, but Isla De Omtempe, Nicaragua was an amazing experience for me as I climbed my first Volcano (Madera) and had some of the best exercise. Climbing and pulling yourself up the trail using branches, plunging through the mud pools before reaching the anti-climatic summit. I was sweating from every part of my body, I was tired and sore but loved the beer when I got back.

7

As the perfect ending to my time in Latin America, arriving in Cancun, Mexico and having a crazy party in Coco Bongo’s was fitting. We partied hard amongst clowns, dwarfs dressed as BeatleJuice characters, Freddie Mercury, Elvis, Lady Ga Ga… With free drinks it got messy and symbolised the difference to my time in South America perfectly.

6

Just missing out of the top 5 is Lanquin, Guatemala. The hostel (Zephyr Lodge) was in an amazing location and we went tubing and caving by candle light before hitting Summuc Champey which is one of the most visually stunning locations I’ve ever seen. The main river disappears underground and mineral pools create mini waterfalls as they cascade into each other. It’s beautiful, relaxing, adventurous and invigorating all at the same time!

5

Just into the top 5 comes Moab, USA. I loved every minute of my time there and went out mountain biking on the astonishing slick rock and hiking in CanyonLands and Arches National Parks. CanyonLands was beautiful with its vast plains and few people it offers vistas of epic proportions and the solitude to appreciate them. There are canyons within canyons and distances you can appreciate as huge (compared to the Grand Canyon which is too big).

4

Whilst as at my time in the Galapagos, Ecuador played on my emotions (The Ugly and The Sublime), the passing of time has softened the edges a little and I remember my time there fondly (even more so now that visits are going to be restricted as of next year). For me Santa Isabella was paradise with it’s beautiful beaches, the abundance of animals, the truly relaxed atmosphere, the lack of cars and the freedom just to live.

3

As a continuing theme of loving the outdoors, the seemingly never ending vastness of the Salt Flats outside Uyuni, Bolivia combined with the mirror like surface was so astonishing that I don’t even believe the pictures. The rest of the Southern Circuit might not quite have gone to plan with the driver getting drunk and smashing our car up, but the first day on the Salt Flats remains firmly in my brain as jaw-droppingly beautiful.

2

For the sheer thrill of driving again, taking Highway 1 up from Cambria to Monterey, USA is easily one of my favourite activities. Getting behind the wheel of a car and driving it properly after six months, feeling that unique freedom that my own transport offered me again, put the biggest grin on my face. I hadn’t felt that particular sense of freedom and excitement that since I passed my driving test and then bought my own car and I relished every single second of driving.

1

There is no contest to the top place in my little list. The combination of a new sport and the perfect group of people meant that learning to Scuba Dive in Utila, Honduras hits the top spot of this list. The Scuba Diving, snorkelling, the night on the desert island, collecting of Sea Grapes, drinks, food, the travellers, the locals, the running… meant that it still remains as my favourite 9 days of the trip! I left with the express desire to return one day to become a Dive Master – it’s something I promised myself I will do after I’ve dived in other locations!