Chitwan

NEPAL
November 2010

Chitwan is Nepal’s most famous national park for safaris. We chose to hike instead, even though we got a lot of warnings about the dangers. The guides are unarmed and we would be walking among tigers, rhinos, buffalos, wild elephants, snakes, bears, crocodiles… It turned out to be an unforgettable experience due to one event in particular – a close encounter with one of the most beautiful and impressive animals in the world :)

DAY 0: Hanging out around our lodge

The day before the trek we just took a small walk near the village, and found this rhino laying in the water :)


We also did a little elephant safari to see some more rhinos. The rhinos felt nervous about the precense of tourists with flashing cameras, which took away much of the joy for us…



We slept in this tower house in the middle of the jungle, from where we saw a lot of deer.

DAYs 1-4: the hike!

We started out a prty of four brave hikers. Wieke, Alfons, Sara and me (Benjamin & Eva were elsewhere, but would join us on the third day of the hike). And two guides: Sanjay and Ganesha.


We started in the morning with a canoe ride to get deeper into the national park.


Our first animal encounter was by sound. The barking sound of “Barking deer” that barks when danger is near.


Sanjay also showed us various insects.


Termites


A crocodile near the path.


Claw marks from a tiger that had marked its territory here!


Fresh tiger footprints!


Sanjay with some old, dry tiger droppings


Insects had drilled the logs, and all the sawdust had piled up on the ground below :)


And then it happened… We were standing on a track with high grass on one side, and a lake on the other. The crocodiles swam slowly towards us, and I turned around to ask our guide if it wasn’t dangerous to be so near approaching crocodiles. But crocodiles was the least of our concern. Suddenly a TIGER jumps out from the gras!

The tiger first jumped towards Wieke and Alfons with a roar and swung its paw towards them. It then jumped towards me in the same way, as close as 2 meters away only! And finally it jumped back into the high grass… it all took just a few seconds.

We hurried away, trembling and walking fast while giggling. We were terrified with a close-to-death-experience yet very happy at the same time. A very strange feeling :)


We returned the next day and re-visited the hole in the grass where the tiger jumped out from. Sanjay speculated that perhaps the tiger was feeding there (we found a bone) and we accidentily stopped right in front of it, and disturbed its meal. The mock attack was simply a way of telling us to move away.


From a tower we got a bird’s eye view of the place where we saw the tiger (and at the same time crocodiles in the water…)


In the evening we drank some beer of suitable brand :)


The following day cantained new perils. Here rhino tracks on the ground. Rhinos are more aggressive and less shy than tigers. Sanjay complained that I had a bright-blue sweater, bright colours makes rhinos pissed off!


We saw rhino twice. Once in the forest, but this time in an open area where we had no trees to climb if the Rhino would attack. They run 50 km/h… So we had to hurry past it. Scary! But also exciting :)


And in the evening when we reached a villge, a nice surprise: Benjamin and Eva had joined us!


We talked about the tiger of course, but also about rabies. Apparently rabies can be spread also by getting bat pee in your eye. We laughed about this since it seemed so unlikely to happen. But then all of a sudden Wieke felt something wet landing in her eye… we looked up and there were bats in the ceiling of the hut! (she didn’t get rabies though :) )


The beautiful “sal forest”


Skin from a cobra


A nice bug


Having a drink at a luxurious lodge. This place had real (and clean) toilets which we hadn’t seen for many weeks! :)


Footprints from sloth bear. Another aggressive and dangerous animals in these woods.


Early morning river crossing


Our room in a village.

This night Sanjay woke us up. He was drunk and holding a large yellow snake. He told us it was so poisonous that a bite would kill you. I ran out dressed only in my underwear. I was upset because I didn’t understand that it was all a joke. He was drunk, but the snake was nor poisonous :)


It turned out that the village we finished out hike in was hosting the World Championships in Elephant Polo… It felt like being back in the colonial era, with posh brittish men drinking tea from porcelain cups inbetween the games :)


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Matka canyon

MACEDONIA
October 2008

Just outside Skopje lies this fantastic canyon. It is the most developed place for climbing in Macedonia. Hidden among the rocks are several ancient monasteries that you can hike to.

Matka lake – Sv. Nikola MONASTERY (2010-10-03)


The entrance to the Matka canyon


The Matka lake

Nice layers on the rocks to the left. Our plan was to walk a zig-zagging trail up the forested slope between the two rocky peaks, to Sv. Nikola monastery.


We took a short boat-ride to the other side of the lake, to reach the trail.


Cyclamen flowers along the steep zig-zagging trail.


The medieval church of Sv. Nikola. To the left are rocks where people were climbing.


We camped here. It was a tranquil, beautiful spot.
To the left in the background you can see the forest-covered mountains that gave the place a feeling of being in the middle of the wilderness.


Frescoes inside the church.


Sadly it was covered by “graffiti” from visitors.
Some of them were old, we found one from 1881.


We walked out on the rocks to get this view into the Matka canyon.


The view down to the restaurant at Matka lake.


Benjamin & Eva enjoying the view


Dinner at the little house behind the church

BOAT RIDE TO VRELO CAVE (September 2018)


Suddenly a woman started singing a Maceodnian song, very atmospheric!

Fagaras

ROMANIA
August 2018

Attempting the highest peak of Romania, with a start & finish at the Sambata monastery. We reached the Vistea refuge near Moldoveanu, but the zero visibility in the mist made a climb of the peak quite pointless. Still, a very nice hike in a superb mountain.

DAY 1: CABANA SAMBATA (2008-07-07)

The lower part of the valley from the Sambata monastery was not too exciting, with a dirt road and forest affected by forestry. However, the last couple of kilometers or so the scenery and nature was superb.


The northern slopes of Fagaras rises abruptly from the plains.

Upper part of the valley.

Cabana Simbata hut. Accommodation cost about 6 euro.

DAY 2: CABANA SAMBATA – Moldoveanu (2008-07-08)

Ascending to the ridge on the sunny morning. We saw a few marmots here.

On the ridge

First view of Moldoveanu peak, the highpoint of Romania (2544 m). Moldoveanu is the peak to the left of the twin-peaked mountain.

Me and Moldoveanu

View of the wilderness to the north. The rain is falling somewhere around Poienari castle, the stronghold of Vlad Tepes (Dracula).

The Vistea refuge

Having lunch in the Vistea refuge

Damn! The bad weather have reached Moldoveanu…

The bad weather got worse, and so we spent the night in the shelter, hoping for sunshine the next morning. More hikers arrived and in the end we were about 15 people, quite cramped.

DAY 3: MOLDOVEANU – SAMBATA MONASTERY (2008-07-08)

The weather started out pretty bad. But we took a chance and walked anyway. But soon the weather got worse, with rain and strong winds, so we aborted the climb of Moldoveanu. Safety first!

We returned to the Simbata valley. Now the mist started to disappear.

No time to go back to Moldoveanu now, so we descended into the Simbata valley.


Back at the Simbata hut the sun was shining again.

Walknig back through the lower Simbata valley towards Simbata monastery.


Sebastian showing off his redneck tan :)

West Highland Way

SCOTLAND
April 2007

Me and my brother walked here for 4 days. The trail is probably the most famous and popular in all of UK. Perhaps it doesn’t live up to the hype, but it is still a nice hike that passes the highest peak of the UK (Ben Nevis, 1344m) and the largest lake of the UK (Loch Lomond). We spend a bit too much time in some local pubs and had to skip the middle third of the hike with a bus ride.

DAY 1: Fort William – Inverbeg

We took the bus from Glasgow to Fort William. As the bus passed Glencoe we saw a large deer with huge antlers, only 20 meters from the road.


The first 10 km of the hike, which passes Ben Nevis, was not very exciting. But when we reached the Lairigmor valley the scenery became very beautiful.

We had a snack break in an old ruin. Until we realized that it was a favorite place for hikers to go to the loo…

Bwindi

UGANDA
January 2006

There are only about 600 wild gorillas left in the world. 300 of these live in Bwindi national park in Uganda. We trekked throug the “impenetrable forest” to find a gorilla family and spent 90 min with them. After that we did another trekk just to experience the rainforest. We saw some Columbus monkeys and heard Chimpansees.


On the way to Bwindi


The impenetrable forest. This is the view from our tent.


After an hour walking from the camp we encountered the gorillas.


Silverback


The young ones were very playful


A pregnant mother with a child clinging on to the back, while she swung herself between the trees.


Amazing rainforest

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