Cosy Nook, Southern Scenic Route, Southland, New Zealand

Western Southland: The ‘Other’ Side of New Zealand’s Southern Scenic Route

NZ’s Southern Scenic Route is more than just the Catlins! That stretch of road is famous for a reason, but what many people don’t realize is that there’s another side to it. The Southern Scenic Route actually extends West of Invercargill along the Southern coast of New Zealand and up to Manapouri. It winds its way through farmland, historical and cultural sights, and past endless gorgeous beaches, with far less tourists around than in other parts of the country.

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On the River: Taking the Boat From Sittwe to Mrauk U in Myanmar

Taking the boat from Sittwe to Mrauk U in Myanmar is an excellent chance to see life along the river. The ferry leaves just as the sun is rising through the mist; seagulls follow the boat as it makes its way from the dock up the river, hoping it will churn up a tasty snack. Cargo and fishing boats pass, some loaded down until they’re barely peeking out of the water, and stops at villages along the way make an interesting diversion.

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New Zealand Walks for Wimps: Hooker Valley Track

The Hooker Valley Track in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is one of New Zealand’s most popular, and I can see why. Winding between towering mountain peaks covered in snow, the track is easy, relatively flat, and well-maintained. Only taking a few hours, it’s one of the easiest ways to get to the spectacular alpine views New Zealand is famous for. No strenuous uphill hike, no climbing, no helicopters needed.

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Alejandro de Humboldt National Park: Cuba’s Masterpiece of Biodiversity

I sighed as once more I yanked my shoes off before making my way slowly into the water. Stepping carefully, I made my way to the other side of the river, trying not to let the current knock me over. I emerged from the water onto the muddy bank and jammed my feet into my shoes. I’d given up on socks three crossings ago and there was no point in bothering to lace my shoes up tight, because just ahead I could see the trail descending to the river once again.

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New Zealand Walks for Wimps: Big Totara Walk

I followed the short loop track along a boardwalk, between trees hung with moss and jungle-like ferns, the sunlight from above barely visible, the green of it all barely penetrating the dark mood the forest creates. And then, finally, I reached the Tōtaras. The trees towered above me, their hulking bodies dwarfing my existence, making me think of all the changes they must have witnessed in New Zealand over the past millennium.

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Tortillas and More! A Cooking Class in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

In my travels around the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico I got completely hooked on the food. I loved the simple but vibrant flavours, the freshness of ingredients, and the versatility of the simple tortilla! This meant that by the time I got to San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas state I was actively searching for someone to teach me how to make authentic Mexican food. And I found it!

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Comandancia de la Plata: Hiking to Fidel’s Secret Mountain Headquarters

Imagine hiding out in the mountains, without electricity, running water, or a consistent food supply. It’s damp and chilly at times, and your hut is made only of thin slabs of wood and a thatched roof. Surrounding your hideaway are soldiers sent by your country’s military to ‘eliminate’ you. You live in a state of caution, immediately alert to sounds from outside of your camp, speaking only in whispers lest you give yourself away. And you’re doing this for more than a year.

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