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Early winter in Canada at its finest 

Two lone hikers heading for the summit of Tent Ridge in Kananaskis Country, dwarfed by the stunning rock massif in the background. This was snapped shortly after a heavy snow fall in the Rockies back in early October. Only a few weeks later we were back rock climbing in t-shirts for a good couple of weeks before temperatures dropped rapidly again. #explorealberta

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Seducing feathers

Last week I was helping out at a local tourist activity center in Costa Blanca, Spain. One morning when I went to feed the animals this colorful guy pulled off an extended show to impress his one and only lady. While she didn’t really seem to give a shit and rather focused on her breakfast, I partly died from fascination. I’ve seen peacocks before but never from such a close up perspective. His feathers were litterally in my face but he acted as if I didn’t excist, a photographer’s dream.

PeacockNature is genius. Over and out.

Sunset Surfers in Peru

Got across this photo as I was going through the mess on my hard drive a few days ago. It’s over a year ago since I sat on that beach in Huanchaco, sipping beer with my new found friend Lovisa, watching surfers play around on the last few waves as day light was fading. I was yet only a couple a weeks in on what was gonna become one of the longest trips in my life. Free, young and excited.

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Greetings from Spain

Last week some sudden change of plans took me from chilly Scandinavia to the south of Spain. And what can I say? Andalucía is beautiful. So far it’s been both culturally and environmentally satisfying and beyond my expectations. I’m among great people, drink too much wine, sleep like a princess and eat like a queen. Think I’ll stick around for a while.

 

10 Interesting Items I’ve Come Across on Random Beaches

Ok, let’s face it. I’m basically from the North Pole so what’s exotic from my perspective might not necessarily be as fascinating to everybody else. However, here’s a short collection of some of the noteworthy shit I’ve found on different beaches around the world.

1. Green shells, Nicaragua. Pretty exotic!! Never on my previous voyages can I recall stumbling upon shells with this particular color. Where I’m from we can’t find many shells at all. Mostly because the ice never really melts to allow us to go look for them…

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2. Dophins, Western Australia. Pretty damn awesome.

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3. Turtle babies, Sri Lanka. While having a late night dinner on the beach with two Serbian buddies, hundreds of tiny turtles decided it was time to leave their hidden nest a few foot steps away from our table and go check out the Indian Ocean.

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4. Stranded tree, Sri Lanka. ???

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5. Hippo sculls, Ocavango Delta, Botswana. (Fucking poachers!!)

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6. Stranded fish with human teeth, Costa Rica. I managed to save it and happily watched it swim out in the ocean again, unaware that my iPod had escaped from my pocket in the rescue process trying to do the same.

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7. Stranded blow fish, Mexico. Cute as hell but beyond rescue. Sad face.

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8. Red crabs in any shape and size excite the shit out of me. It has happened in Ecuador and South Africa among other places.

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9. Message in a bottle, Mexico. According to given coordinates it had been drifting for more than 4000 km before ending up right here, on a more hard-to-get-to corner of the otherwise highly touristy beach in Tulum. Felt like a 5-year old on a successful treasure hunt.

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10. Fisher men on sticks, Sri Lanka. Where I’m from we fish from a hole in the ice. The End.

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Would You Wanna Read My Book?

A while back I got nominated for a Swedish Travel Photography Blog Award. A massive Thank You to everyone who voted for me in the past few weeks, it made the jury acknowledge my blog and select me to the final round. Wow.

Now my darlings, it’s only me against 9 others. If you honestly think I deserve a chance to snag the trophy, then feel more than free to vote for me.

I might never have mentioned it before, but whoever wins will get to PUBLISH a fricken book based on their own stories and photographs that will be available internationally. I’d kinda like the idea of that somebody to be me, to say the least. What a wonderful creative experience it would be.

The voting page is still in Swedish, but this time all you need to do upon following this link, is to;

1. Check off my blog (Wanderlust) in the greyish box,     2Fill in your email and,     3. Confirm that you’re a real person by clicking the link in the email that will be sent to your inbox (could possibly end up in your junk mail too). All in all it’ll take you approximately 30 seconds.

CHEERS <3

Travel Blog Awards 2013!
Här kan du hitta billiga flyg till hela världen! Välj din destination och du får upp en lång lista över förslag för din resa.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

For those of you who didn’t yet notice, I love life as a nomad. But as I occasionally return from the road I am repeatedly reminded how much I also love the place I’m priviliged enough to call home. A place with four distinct seasons, the land of the northern lights and the midnight sun… mountains, forests, lakes, rivers… and beloved friends and family.

Ten years ago I couldn’t wait to get the hell out. Today I’m thrilled whenever I come back every now and then. Just another of the many great things travel does to me; It provides me with perspectives and a greater appreciation of what I have. Makes me see things with different eyes. Transforms what I before ran away from into the charm I return to. At least for a while. Until the itch takes over and I’m off again.

Thanks for this time, Sweden. I’ll be back.

Big bro

Big brother in action (Photo courtesy of Erik Nordin)

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The Art of Sailing From Colombia to Panama

After spending one awesome month in Colombia last January, it was eventually time for me to leave this enchanting country and move on. To switch continent and venture off to Panama.

There are two ways to do this, unless you’re willing to swim or take a suicidal trek through the deep and guerilla infested jungles conjoining the two countries, that is. Because no, there are no roads connecting Colombia and Panama. Most non-suicidal travelers thus chose to either fly, or sail. The first option tends to be cheaper and of course faster, but as I figured, also way more lame.

The missing road has turned the seabound alternative into good business and plenty of sailboats take off in both directions every week offering food, accommodation and a sweet little detour through the amazing San Blas archipelago before arriving on mainland. My goal for my whole trip from Peru to Canada was to avoid airplanes as much as possible, preferably entirely, and only travel over land and water. So well, even though my budget for that month pretty much got slaughtered because of this decision, it was a simple one to make.

The quality of the boats and the food served vary a whole lot, as well as the skills among all different captains and crews, so doing a bit of research before you take off can really make a difference. I ended up sailing with Eduardo, this older Italian guy who’d been sailing around the globe several times in his life so far. He had a beautiful new 44-foot catamaran and I got a good vibe when I went down to the harbor in Cartagena one afternoon to see him and his precious (the boat).

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However, there were also these three Swizz guys coming along on the trip, who’d been off sailing the same direction five days earlier, but had ended up in a storm that their previous captain and boat clearly couldn’t handle. It resulted in near disaster, a couple of days stranded on some random island and then transport back to Cartagena and basically no refund for the misery. I admired them for the courage to give it another try. Again, research is the key.

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How you do not want to end up……

Cartagena skyline

We left Colombia and South America the next afternoon. I was sitting in the back of the boat watching the Cartagena skyline slowly shrink on the horizon, until we were embraced by nothing but an endlessly blue ocean. The tropical day turned into evening, and as the sun set and we opened our first cold beer, we got accompanied by dozens of dolphins. A pretty magic moment. They danced in the waves as the catamaran moved forward for a long time, seemingly out of pure joy.

After 30+ hours on open sea we finally entered Panamanian territory and started to spot the first out of hundreds of little paradise islands in the turquoise Caribbean water. We spent about two days snorkeling around, eating lovely Italian-inspired food, interacting with the indigenous Kuna people, and exploring a few islands. 

On one of them I stumbled upon Filipe, the one and only resident who had lived a simple but happy life here for the last 70 years. He’s a living example of the fact that happiness isn’t necessarily related to modern notions such as having a good job, a nice house and a family. We’re all so different, and this little man clearly found quality of life in this peaceful environment, far away from much of society’s madness. Encounters like these add to the list of factors that make me wanna keep wandering the globe for as long as I’m physically capable to.

Over all, an awesome experiece and if you’re ever about to travel the same way (or the opposite) I’d definitely recommend looking into doing it Jack Sparrow style, by letting the wind carry you there.

Barefoot in Mexico

“Life is better in flip flops” I once got told, and flip-flops are awesome for sure. But I’d say life can be pretty damn excellent in closed shoes too. In ski boots, hiking shoes, rubber boots, flippers or fricken no foot wear at all, as long as your feet support your aspirations and take you in the direction you want to go.

Photo below captured at Isla Mujeres, off the Caribbean coast of Mexico. A brilliant place for the shoeless alternative, no matter where you go.

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Love Letter to The Road

And so it happens again. One year has ended to leave room for the brand new one ahead of us.

2014. Like a blank piece of paper, waiting to be filled out.

I feel a shit load of gratitude when I look back and realize I got to spend 10 out of those 12 months last year in the happiest place I know. The Road.

That thrill in having no real clue about where I’ll end up tomorrow, who I’ll encounter or where I’ll sleep… The simplicity in living with no more belongings than I can easily carry… The joy in having an endlessly changing horizon and being accompanied by the feeling of complete fucking freedom. That’s what keeps me in motion. High on life.

Once again, it made me a billion new experiences richer and taught me lessons no university in the world would ever be able to. I got to withness enchanting sceneries that repeatedly blew my mind and I came across countless of beautiful, crazy, inspiring souls with whom I created the moments that shaped my journey into what it became.

Finacially, I might have been poorer than ever in my life upon returning home, yet I was rich beyond my imagination. Because that’s the beautiful thing with traveling – counted in priceless memories, you will always be a millionare.

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Hope your 2013 has been magic too. Now time to start fill out that new piece of paper. Whatever aims and dreams you have, never forget that the pen is in your hand.

Happy New Year.

Thank you Mr. Mandela

A few years ago I was lucky enough to get to live and travel around in a beautiful South Africa. The hate, inequalities and obsession with race might have been painfully evident at times, but it was overshadowed by the people who shared a way prettier vision of the future, and rather spent energy on love than on hate..

Thank you Mr. Mandela for what you did and achieved in your 95 years on Earth.

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That time in Villa de Leyva

The day before I was about to leave the Colombian capital behind, sweet Doris asked me where I was going next. “Hm, probably Villa de Leyva”, I said. “Oh really?!” She replies, “I got a really good friend living there, I’ll hook you up!” Said and done.

The next evening I was standing in the center of this little cosy colonial town, when I picked up my phone and dialed the number I’d got written down on a note next to the name Norma, without much of a clue of what to expect.

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20 minutes later she came greeting me with a big, welcoming smile, accompanied by three other family members. Together we walked back to her house, where I met the rest of her extended family.

The two days that followed I was hanging out with this wonderful group of people, getting treated like a family member myself, fed, given my own room and shown around town. Not to mention the free intense Spanish course as basically none spoke English.

It’s like there’s no limit to how hospitable people can be sometimes, and as always, this amazes me. A complete stranger in their house, immediately a part of the family, and they expect nothing in return… Colombia has been treating me so well. Not exactly this angle they use when feeding us news about the country through media at home. A dangerous no-go area as I got told before I went – by people who never put their foot in the country themselves.

To these people I’d like to say; Don’t believe everything you hear, rather go and find out for yourself and you will be amazed how much beauty there is to be found in the world.

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Seduced by the concrete jungle

Bogotá. The sole thought of entering this mega city gave me anxiety long before I had to face it (I was born in a forest). It was gonna be just another enormous, busy city I would have to cross on my way to more appealing destinations further north. My plan was to rush through as fast as possible, to basically just spend the night and then be off early the next morning.

But that was before I met Edward. The young local doctor who opened up his nice home for me, which he shared with his equally nice and sweet mother Doris.  He saved me like 12 years of time by taking me straight to all these hidden spots and highlights, and bit by bit the city started to seduce me. For a moment I could even picture myself living there… That was a bit too weird though, and I began to speculate what kind of pharmaceutical drug(s?) Edward had put in my morning tea.

Anyway, lesson learnt – Never judge a place before giving it a chance. And the by far best way to do so is with a local pro by your side.

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Catedral Primada in La Candelaria, the old part of the city

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Catedral Primada, with Cerro de Monserrate (the hill) in the background

Rush hour

Rush hour in and around one of many TransMetro stations – a successful public transport system that helps keeping the already over-packed streets of Bogotá less packed.

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Oscar sharing some skills

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Doris, Edward’s sweet and extremely sporty mum who pulled me out of bed at 6am to go climb a mountain

View from Cerro de Monserrate

View from Cerro de Monserrate – One of the biggest urban landscapes I’ve ever seen spreading out in front of me, home to about 9 million people. That’s like the entire population of Sweden, only a wee bit more cramped together… perspective?

Urban sprawl

Crazy, beautiful people

While traveling I get the über awesome privilige to meet so many beautiful, interesting, inspirational souls that I otherwise most likely never would have crossed paths with. Like last month, when I was spending a few days living in a tree house in Nicaragua (true story) and randomly bumped into Matthew – A hilarious free spirit full of happiness who got sick of the hamster wheel in New York and took off to Cental America without much of a plan. Read his blog, as I said – he’s hilarious, and hell of a lot better than me when it comes to updating:

http://thecrunchyfiles.com/2013/03/31/that-time-i-told-my-parents-im-in-a-nicaraguan-jail/

Namnlös

Lost in coconut land

High palm trees, reaching towards the sky… Most people, like myself, picture sandy tropical beaches by the thought of that. However, this is not the case when it comes to Valle de Cocora, Colombia.

Couldn’t help but feel like I was walking around in alien land when I finally got there, because in a way the trees seemed so misplaced… But, regardless how it makes you feel, it’s a place that shouldn’t be missed out if you ever make it anywhere near Salento in the central part of the country.

The start of the trail, that makes a nice day hike, can be found a short pickup truck ride away from central Salento. If you read your maps and follow the signs more carefully than me, it might even be a pretty short and pleasant trek! After detouring past a point where hummingbirds can be seen from a close distance, I started to follow a trail that was taking me up a steep mountain – all according to my map. Eh…

45 minutes later I found myself at the top of the hill, sweating like a pig in the hot afternoon sun. I remember thinking how great the timing was gonna be. According to my calculations I would reach the actual palm tree valley on the other side just in time for the golden light before sunset. That was before I realized I’d climbed the wrong mountain of course. A brutal 10-minute-speed descend later I was back on track and by moving fast I still made it in time.

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IMG_0540One of those humming hummingbirds.

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To be more specific, the trees, native to Colombia, are called Wax Palms and are among the tallest species of palm trees to be found on the globe. Apparently, they can grow as high as 60 meters and reach an age of 100 years. The fact that grassy farmlands are all that cover the hillsides they grow on, kind of adds to the feeling of them being t a l l .

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Over and out.

My Colombian vision of paradise

Salento. I don’t remember how I first found out about this place, but once I heard what it was about – organic coffee, rolling green hills, a lovely climate, rivers and good hiking – it turned into a mandatory stop on my journey up through Colombia. For Oscar it was a non-explored spot of his own country so he was happy to check it out. We had to overnight in the bigger and not near as welcoming city of Armenia before we got there though, as it had gotten pitch dark and pretty dodgy outside after leaving Cali.

If you’re on a very tight budget when traveling, artesanos are like the best travel companion you could imagine. Often, the money they make in a day is what most westerners would spend on parking fees that same day, and thus they have to keep their expenses low. And they know how to.

Anyway, not wanting to be dependent on me to cover his part of the hotel cost for the night, he took off to the nearest busy traffic light to earn a few pesos. I tagged along and soon found myself sitting in the middle of the street watching and documenting his actions.

OscarNot long after a local woman pulled up next to me, rolled her window down and asked me with a troubled face if I had a place to stay for the night. I smiled and said I indeed did and that she didn’t have to worry about me. As far as I can remember I never got mistaken for a homeless person before, but I suppose me sitting there on the concrete with big holes in my jeans and shoes, unshowered and all hooded up, kind of gave that impression that night. I was slightly touched by her concern.

The next morning we were once again standing along the road with our thumbs in the air. A few cars passed until this young Colombian lady and an older couple, coming from the opposite direction, pulled up next to us and asked where we were going. We told them we were unfortunately going to Salento in the other direction. They nodded, drove off a bit, turned around and then stopped next to us again, saying “Well, let’s go then!”

Marcela and her parents, that constituted the older couple, were more than happy to take the half an hour detour back to Salento to help us out. They fed us and then invited us to come and stay with them or contact them if we ever got a problem. Or if I wanted a job teaching English or so, Marcela, a teacher herself, promised to help out with that too. To me, this is Colombian goodwill in a nutshell.

The week that followed in Salento, I collected many good memories. A highlight on my journey through this enchanting country.

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IMG_0859IMG_0853IMG_0851IMG_0667Good old Don Elias has been producing organic coffee for many, many years

IMG_0669Coffee blooming

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IMG_0685Coffee beans drying

IMG_0691IMG_0696Coffee beans roasted

IMG_0698Roasted coffee beans being grounded. The result? Maybe the best cup of coffee I ever had.

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Coffee hills

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IMG_0763IMG_0657IMG_0808IMG_0331IMG_0814Sunset, doggy style….. classy.

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Jungly Christmas joys

Since I know from previous experiences that I’m capable of getting into no Christmas spirits whatsoever if I’m not in a white winter wonderland, I figured I could just go all in and spend Christmas in the Amazon. The timing worked out perfect so two days before the holidays started I took an overcrowded bus from Quito for a few million hours, then changed to a smaller one until I finally jumped into a canoe that carried me away from civilization.

Here is a collection of photos that came out of it.

 

Life at the foot of Cotopaxi

While awaiting my attempt to conquer Cotopaxi I spent one morning observing life in a food market in Saquisilí. Here are some impressions.

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The brutal destiny of one of many pigs.

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Also spent a fair bit of time simply enjoying the view from the roof top at Hostal Tijana.

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Thin air and a broken promise

In December 2010 I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. It was an extraordinary experience and I’m very happy I made that decision to try once I got to the foot of the volcano in Moshi, where the snow-covered peak somehow seemed to be calling my name.

To watch the sun rise over the savanna when I finally reached the summit at 5895 meter above sea level, on the fourth day of climbing, was the kind of reward that makes you forget all the pain and overwhelming lack of energy for the moment and just think that it was all so incredibly worth it. Because it was, and I loved every second at the top of Africa. But then, eventually, you realize you have to make it all the way down. Too. Hehe. It was during this part of the trek I promised myself not to put myself through that kind of suffer again. That promise lasted for quite exactly two years, until I got to the foot of yet another spellbinding volcano…

This time it was Cotopaxi in central Ecuador who I can almost swear repeatedly whispered my name, as soon as I got the first glimpse of it… I hooked up with Alex, a happy, British teacher, (over?)full of energy, and in the end we took off as a group of nine guys, five mountain guides, and me.

IMG_2196Packed like sardines in a box while trying to “sleep” before the midnight ascent. That was five interesting hours, lying listening to different sorts of noice, giggling and fighting for the space (we all averaged on around an impressive 2 minutes of sleep).

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Crampons on.

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Cotopaxi is a lot more technical than Kilimanjaro as you reach the glaciated area already after an hour or so. However, once again; painful, e x h a u s t i n g, frrreezing, but so worth it – a totally stunning hike.

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As we reached the summit in the early morning light we got greeted by a huge ash plume on the horizon, coming from the neighboring volcano of Tunghurangua near Baños (where I’d been mountain biking a few days earlier..). The eruption had been starting only one or two hours before we got up there. Quite a reward. I forgot the feeling of being near collapse and smiled. Giggled. Then laughed out load. Gave Alex a big victory hug. And THEN collapsed for a while (while admiring the view)

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Observe the ash plume behind us!!

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To keep the story about the way back short, I can say we made it down……… eventually. Dead but yet so alive.

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IMG_2319IMG_2332IMG_2318IMG_2366IMG_2374IMG_2377IMG_2381IMG_2387Alex in pain. The refuge (yellow building) so close but still so far!!

About three hours, one hamburger and a shower later I was standing at the roof top of my hostel in Latacunga, looking at the summit from the distance, feeling nothing but satisfaction and happiness. It’s amazing what the human body can accomplish, and how fast it can recover.

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PS. The summit of Cotopaxi is to be found at 5897 meters above sea level, thus I beat my previous record with a thrilling 2 meters, woho, victory…

Enough for now.

The big bang

In Baños I got told about a seemingly magic place hidden away in a mountain village, quite far from the Pan-American highway. So well, driven by my always so present curiosity I jumped on a bus with destination Quilotoa. Once again, a ride with wonderful views.

Three hours later the pickup truck that took me the last few kilometers to my final destination dropped me off in front of the first best building (there aren’t many in Quilotoa) that offered some sort of accommodation. I got greeted by a sweet woman dressed the way that’s so very typical for this area. She showed me to my room where I dropped my bag and immediately took off to a slightly higher altitude, eager to get a glimpse of what attracts most people to the area, before the last bit of sunlight faded out that day. Five minutes of walking later I was standing at the edge of this, and the physical geographer inside me died a little from excitement.

The crater lakeAbout 800 years ago the volcano of Quilotoa had a massive eruption which caused the whole crater to explode and collapse. Since then, water has been accumulating within the caldera, slash the old crater, and created this emerald green lake, over 200 m deep.

Mike living on the edge

The following day I tagged along with my new roomie Mike from Pennsylvania to complete a hike around the caldera, following the rollercoaster trail on the rim. While standing on the edge in the morning, we looked at each other and agreed people must have been wrong when they’d told us it was going take as much as five hours to get around. Five and a half hours later we had confirmed that they weren’t – this caldera is huge!!! But oh so pretty.

The trail

Quilotoa surroundsThe trailMikeMike

The trail

I was there...Some Swedish weirdo, half way around.

Crater potatoesPotatoes were growing high up, all over the rim. These locals don’t mind a bit of physical exercise..

Quilotoa surrounds

Quilotoa surroundsSome construction work going on in the distance.

SheepTraditional womanThe lady above was a very smiley and happy person, something I really wanted to capture on a photograph. Not to be rude I politely asked if I could take her picture, whereupon she answered “si” with a smile. But. Two seconds later the smile was gone and replaced by a super serious face, stiff and expressionless. I managed to make her look a wee bit happier, but it can’t even compare to what I would have been able to capture if she would have been unaware of my camera. That’s what you get for being polite ; )

Lady in shopThis nice señora in her small grocery shop was slightly easier to crack up. Slightly…

Popcorn soupIn Ecuador you are allowed to have popcorn for dinner. Big bonus.

Caballo out for a walkKayakingLocal kids kayaking in the lagoon.

PuppyBeing a puppy in the mountains can be an exhausting undertaking. And it definitely requires a blue pyjama.

Three days later I returned to civilization. The chilly nights had given me a pretty unfriendly cold, but I didn’t care much. A small price to pay to get to see the result of that big bang. And a tiny bit of preparation for what was to come……..

Ecuador, chapter two

After eventually leaving Cuenca behind I found myself on a bus towards Ambato, and died a little from looking through my window (bonito). Approximately 3249 times I felt like just grabbing my backpack, jump off the bus and start walking instead, to be able to take in more. In Ambato some excellent Ecuadorian hospitality was waiting for me though, so I resisted… Even though Ecuadorians tend not to take time too seriously, I figured arriving five weeks too late would have been a bit rude.

Ambato and TungurahuaAmbato

Hungry lamaHungry lama in Ambato

Julio, and some Ecuadorian yummiesLocals know the best – Julio introducing me to some Ecuadorian yummies.

BañosBañosNext I was off to Baños, a small town tucked in between high green hills, at the foot of the big Tunguranghua volcano. This place draws a lot of tourists due to its reputation of being Ecuador’s adventure destination number one. I mostly drank (real!) coffee though, except from flying around on a mountain bike one afternoon, and spent the nights clubbing with new found friends. Good fun.

IMG_2123Bike with a viewAbove: my bike two seconds before the wind caught it, threw it off the edge and messed up the back wheel. I got to experience the hard way that if you have a problem it really is your problem on the road between Baños and Puyo. Not like the good old days back in Australia when all you had to do was to step out of your vehicle, look generally blond and helpless and have a handy man standing next to you within five minutes, eager to show off his skills. This time I was alone!!! I figured it out though, for those who wonder, eventually : )

Dancing chica

There was a big parade one of the days, to celebrate the anniversary of the city. It turned the place into a temporary ghost town, except from where the action was at the moment.

Dancing in the rain

It started to rain through the sun as these crazy dancers passed me, it’s all about timing, ey?

Dancing in the rain

Over and out.

Ecuador, chapter one

There are few things I enjoy as much as the simplicity in hiking. To stroll around in your own pace, randomly bump in to some wildlife, cross rivers and stop for a well deserved snack wherever u feel like it. The physical challenge, the often very rewarding views…  It makes me feel muy bien.

Cajas NP Drunken forest, Cajas NP Cajas NP Cajas NP

Two days before my hike in Cajas National Park in Ecuador I had no idea of its existence. Neither the city of Cuenca, half an hour bus ride away. (Eh, no, I did not do too much research before I left home, but honestly, how much more exciting doesn’t travelling get when you don’t really know what will be around the next corner?) I was hanging out with this Swiss girl in Mancora who told me about the place so I decided to make it a stopover on my way north. Located at 2800m above sea level, Cuenca like no city I’ve come across so far on this trip. So nice and tidy. Beautiful old architecture and plenty of cafes with GOOD (real) bloody coffee.

Cuenca Cuenca

Because yes, ironically enough it’s pretty damn hard to find a good cup of coffee in this part of the world – the part of the world that actually produces the raw material to that delicious hot beverage we so often can enjoy in Europe. Instead of keeping some for themselves it is more or less all exported and what’s left is the instant shit. Or a weird liquid version of the instant shit… But who can blame a poor part of the world when the rich countries pay so much better for those little lovely beans?

Coffee beanies

Thanks to Urmas, an Estonian guy staying at my hostel, I also became a frequent guest at one vegetarian restaurant with the best fruit salads ever. So. Good. And the surroundings… ahh. Massive green hills, totally dwarfing the villages at the bottom of the valleys. Fresh air and cattle and lamas strolling around seemingly free….

Lama in Cuenca NP

What was meant to be more or less just an overnight stop on my way to Ambato and Banõs quickly turned into three days…  ops : )

With sand between my toes and a beer in my hand

The entire Peruvian coast is like one big, stretched out desert. The ground is so arid that in some locations nothing at all seems to grow on this land. Isn’t it fascinating how on one side of the Andes we have the super extremely lush rainforests of the Amazon, and on the other side an environment that supports like five thousand billion fewer life forms? Hehe. Four years of geography studies at uni have turned me into a bit of a geek, indeed. It has to do with a cold ocean current and a wee bit of rain shadow however, for those who’s still reading ;)

Nils, Floor and Lovisa

Aaanywho, this doesn’t mean the beaches aren’t an excellent location to hang out with new friends at sunset, with a cold beer in your hand. To laugh at shitty surfers (I suck myself but whatever, minor detail) and secretly admire the professional ones. To explore old, sandy Inca ruins, get food poisoned, collect sea shells and blow soap bubbles.

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Huanchaco, Peru.

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Ryan and Lovisa, and the beer.

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Riding the last waves of the day

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Bold puppy

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A surfer with fan club in Mancora, Peru.

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Fishermen in Mancora.

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Sweet Lovisa, tired but happy.