In case you were wondering how it feels to travel around the world I have now made a short video to help with that. It is a single 1 second clip from every day of my trip. This is to show that traveling isn't just one great experience after another as the pictures might make think. Well there are a lot of great things happening but every single day. Sometimes you actually have to just travel to get someplace great. I spent countless hours in planes, busses, boats and all sorts of other transportation just to get around. The world is a really big place and you don't notice it until you actually try to get around it. So yea just a short video to give you an impression on how I spent my time. A bigger, better and longer video is in the working but as you can imagine there is a lot of material and to bring all of this in a nice form takes some time. As I didn't want to have you all waiting for to long I decided to go with this short one first. Take a look, tell me what you think and subscribe on youtube so you won't miss the final and best video.
It has now been exactly one week since I landed back in Frankfurt and I thought it was time for some final words on my trip. First of all it was absolutely amazing and if someone would offer me to do it all again I would accept without a seconds hesitation.
Coming back home after exactly 200 days on the road was really a weird feeling. I have my own room with my own bed again, I'm not used to that kind of privacy anymore. Also it's nice to know that I don't have to search for a new place to stay every night. Although I do have to admit the first couple of nights I woke up panicking that I haven't organized any bus tickets for the next day yet. But the strangest feeling was being in a place for such a long time. The last half year every time I ended up in really boring place I got out of there as fast as possible. Oh and of course the weather...I'm not used to those temperatures anymore or wearing a jacket for that matter.
As much as I enjoyed my trip there are still some things I would do different next time. First of all the length and number of countries visited. The next time I would either travel longer or visit less countries. Traveling so fast and changing cultures that often got really tiring after a while. I would have loved to sometimes just spend a longer time in one place to actually really experience it but also have to time to actually let the past experiences settle. I experienced so much in such a short time and while this isn't necessarily a bad thing it happened way to often that I forgot thing I've already done because the next awesome experience came so fast. It's only now that I sort my photos that I realize actually how much I saw.
Another thing I would change is probably my camera. The Nikon D750 is an amazing camera and I never had any problems throughout the whole trip. I used it extensively, it was literally out and sitting on my hip the entire time through sand, wind and rain in jungles, deserts, volcanoes and at sea and all in all it is still looking quite good. My only problem is the size and weight especially with the 24-70mm lens I bought in Australia. It just gets tiring carrying it all the time, there were actually some days in New Zealand were I hurt my shoulder and couldn't even lift it to my face anymore. Ok but the weight issue can also be solved by just hitting the gym some more. The bigger problem was size. With a camera this big you draw a lot of attention making it harder to get candid shots in the streets for example. There were also times when I just didn't feel very comfortable having the camera out like in bad neighborhoods or at night. That did make me miss some great shots. Should I go on such a big trip again I would look to get something smaller like one of the many mirrorless options.
But that was about it, everything else worked basically great. My backpack was perfect and the outdoor clothing although looking kinda stupid was comfortable and survived the whole time. Carrying multiple hard-drives was a good idea although nothing every broke or got lost. But better to be save than sorry. Losing about 34.500 pictures would have been devastating.
So now that I'm back home what do I do now? Well I spent the last week organizing a lot of stuff with insurances companies and in my home. It also took quite a while to transfer about one terabyte of photos and video on my main computer and even more time to sort through it all. But now the real life starts as well, I will have to start looking for jobs and eventually working but whenever I find the time I will be out photographing and I hope to be traveling on some short trips again soon. Traveling is an addiction, the more you travel the more you want to do it. There are always more places to visit.
The final stop on my incredible 200 day journey around the world was Cuba. I stayed here for two weeks and explore the western part of the island as well as spending my last couple of days in a hotel for some holidays before going home. Cuba was a completely different experience to travel than anything before, it had its very unique challenges (i.e. internet, accommodation) but great people and beautiful cities made for an incredible time on this island and a perfect last stop before facing the reality of coming home.Read More
After traveling for a while in so many easy english-speaking countries it was once more time for an adventure with new cultures and a foreign language. That’s why I went to Costa Rica in central america. Although it turned out to be a very easy travel country afterall.
The main reasons I came to Costa Rica were the volcanoes, the jungle and of course the wildlife. But before I could get to all of that I had to start my journey in the capital city of San José which offers none of the before mentioned. It is loud, full, dirty and all in all just an annoying big city. It doesn’t even has much to offer in terms of sightseeing. There is one small street which is a shopping zone and a couple of small museum. The only up-side of so many people is that you will find quite a few interesting ones to photograph. That’s how I mostly spent my two days there and believe me two days is way to much in this city. Especially as you ‘ll end up there a couple of more times anyways since most of the buses go through here.
But then it was finally time for nature and volcanoes. I went to La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano. By the way traveling in Costa Rica is very easy, the busses run mostly on time, are safe, cheap and only take a bit longer than the expensive tourist shuttles. Well ok in one case it took more than six times as long but more on that later. La Fortuna is a pretty small town that basically only works as a support for the Arenal Volcano. And to really see this volcano I embarked on a 10 hour hike which didn’t even got me to the top of it. There is the main Arenal volcano and a smaller one just next to it. While Arenal is still active the small one now holds a big lake.
My hike brought me up the one side of the volcano and down on the inside for a short swim in the lake and then up the other rim and down into the flat one last time. From time to time this was less of a hike and more of climb up muddy forest hills. At the end of the day I was completely dirty but the views were incredible and adventures like this is why I travel. Oh and let's not forget that at the end of the day you can take a swim in some natural hot springs and wash all that mud away.
From La Fortuna I took a boat-ride across lake Arenal to my next highlight: The Monteverde/Santa Elena Cloud Forest.This rainforest high up in the mountains is mostly famous for the many species of birds that live there but even on its own it’s really impressive to see. I chose to just go to the smaller and less crowded forest in Santa Elena for some hiking. I didn’t see a single bird but the forest is really breathtaking. Gigantic trees covered in moos and low hanging clouds supplying constant light rain, an incredible experience. Just make sure you wear a raincoat even when the sun is shining because the rain never stops. If you have some more time to kill in the town of Santa Elena and aren’t tired of hiking up mountains yet take the short but steep hike up the Tres Amigos. I can’t say much about the view as the top was completely covered in clouds but I’m sure it can be nice. The reason to go up there is the very surreal experience of the souvenir shop on the top. This is a mountain where almost no tourists go up but still in a small house on top a sitting two men drinking tea and selling handmade bracelets.
So that about concludes my mountain adventures as I went to the pacific coast next. First stop here was Montezuma which is on the southern tip of a small peninsula, the fastest way to reach it is by the public ferries and some buses. The town itself is a very small relaxed coastal town which is basically just a big beach bar. I was planning to stay here longer but as it was completely booked the following days I decided to move on to Santa Teresa which is supposed to be just an hour away.
Well one hour turned out to be about 5 hours by public transport. The problem is that there is no direct connection between the two towns and changing the buses in the between doesn’t work as flawlessly as thought. I had to wait at a bus station for about 3 hour for my connection. Although both buses only took about 20 minutes each. That’s just traveling for you. Santa Teresa is a bit larger than Montezuma and once again offers mostly beach and bars. It were a fun couple of days and some really great sunsets here.
From here I moved further south along the coast. First stop was Jaco, a touristic hotel town. I reached it by speed boat from Montezuma. While it is the fastest and most fun option you have to be aware that you will get really soaking wet while doing so. But it’s hot anyways so it doesn’t matter, I just had to make sure my camera was packed away safely.
But that was enough beach for me and I moved on to Quepos and the Manuel Antonio National Park for some nature. Ok there also is a great beach but the highlight is the jungle reaching all the way down to the beaches. It’s full of animals and offers a great walk. I saw many different birds, sloths, white-faced monkeys and squirrel monkeys. While the sloth are what I came here for the monkeys are way more fun to photograph as they offer more action and most importantly aren’t as high up in the trees. Oh yea and don’t bother getting a guide here unless you are really interested in learning everything about the animals. If you just want to see animals just look out where a large group of people are gathered that usually means there is something interesting to see.
That was the farthest south I went on this side of the country, for the next stop I crossed over to the Caribbean coast to Cahuita. This coast is way more fun than the pacific. Most of the inhabitants are from the Caribbean islands and make for a very relaxed atmosphere to all of it. But Cahuita also has a small National Park to offer where you can go for a nice walk and spot some great wildlife. Well mostly monkeys.
While Cahuita is the town where you can do more, Puerto Viejo is the bigger party town. No National Park, just beaches and bars and even more laid back. But I only stayed here one night because it was mostly just my gateway into Panama. I spent a couple of days in Bocas del Toro about which I wrote earlier. Upon returning from Panama I went all the way up the coast for one last adventure.
I stayed overnight in Cahuita again and then took a bus from there to Moin where the boats to Tortuguero leave. I might have been a bit more stress in the morning but Moin really isn’t a nice town. The boat-ride to Tortuguero is an absolute highlight by itself. Although it was raining there were still so many cool animals out and the driver spotted them very well and stopped. A perfect way to turn a long trip onto many great photo opportunities.
In Tortuguero I woke up really early the next morning to catch a sunrise canoe river safari. Truly the best way to experience the park as it is mostly centred around the river. The canoe is also better than the many motorboats as it is silent and therefore can get closer to the animals as well as enter smaller streams. You will see all kinds of birds, monkeys, lizards and even caimans. This experience makes you totally forget waking up that early. There also is a short hike inland you can take if you have the time. It is fun and you’ll see some wildlife but it just doesn’t compare at all to the amazing canoe ride. Just make sure you do all of the activities on one day as the entrance fee of 15$ is a bit expensive but valid for the whole day not matter how many times you enter.
Unfortunately my flight got closer everyday so I had to make my way back to San José. To get there takes a boat ride, a rather long one if your boat has a faulty engine and breaks down all the time, and 3-4 buses.The boat takes you to La Pavona where a lot of tourist-buses and one crappy public bus are waiting. The public bus takes you to Cariari where you’ll have to wait about an hour for the connection to San José. As I wasn’t staying in San José directly but in Alajuela I had once again walk across town and board a last bus taking you out there. Well public buses might take a while to get you there but they are really cheap.
Before leaving Costa Rica I had time for one last volcano. Just outside the city and reachable by public bus is Volcan Poas. A beautiful large crater surrounded by the clouds, a great sight. Although a bit full as you can expect when it is that easy to reach. Even all of the ways inside the park are paved and the crater lookout is only 600m from the carpark. But it doesn’t matter it is beautiful nevertheless and the accessibility make it perfect for a day trip from San José.
So this concludes my time in beautiful Costa Rica. It’s a great country and I had a lot of fun here and although it is a small country it has a lot to offer. I never had any problems traveling there and can really recommend it as the perfect entrance into Central America. It is basically for Central America what Thailand is for South East Asia. That isn’t a bad thing at all it has it advantages being that easy to travel. Now I have to spend a day at the airport of Mexico City before reaching my last destination of the epic journey: Cuba!
Picture of the Day 15.03.2016
It's once again my last day in a country. But instead of staying in the boring city of San Jose I took a bus out to Volcan Poas. The bus took only one and half hour and was really cheap making this the perfect day trip. The park with the volcano itself is one of the most accessible and easy ones I ever experienced. The lookout you see here is only a 5 minute walk on concrete road from the parking lot and all the other trails are just like this as well. There is really nothing there I would call an adventure. But that doesn't matter because the volcano is really beautiful and it's never bad if you can be lazy. Anyways this should be the last of the many volcanoes I visited during this trip as I don't think Cuba has any. Tomorrow will be spend traveling to my next and final stop and although Cuba is quite close there are no direct flights and I will have to hang around Mexico City almost all day. But that won't be a problem as long as they have wifi I will use the time to finish my post on all of Costa Rica.
Picture of the Day 14.03.2016
Traveling in Costa Rica always seems to involve more than one mode of transportation. Today it took me one boat and three buses to get from Tortuguero to Alajueala. Here the boat was of course necessary as Tortoguero is an island and that is the only way to leave it, well except swimming of course. The boat took about one and a half hours to reach La Palvona. It took a bit longer than expected because there were some problems with the engine along the way but nothing some spanish cursing and some strings couldn't fix. The river itself was really narrow and shallow so the boats were moving only slow anyways and there were a lot of them on the river this morning. Luckily almost all of them were part of guided groups so the dock was crowded but the bus was relatively empty. It was a really old bus with tiny seats but it took me along dirtroads to my next stop: Cariari. Here I had to wait for an hour till the bus to San Jose would leave. But that wasn't a problem since it was noon and I could just get some lunch while waiting. The bus to San Jose was more modern and took about two and a half hours to get into the city. The thing about San Jose is that while it is the capital it has no central bus station instead every bus-company has their own terminal. Those terminals are always in the bad areas of town and you are guarantied to arrived on the other end of town from where your connection is leaving. That was once again the case today although it wasn't as bad and I could just walk to my next bus. This bus actually left only minutes after I got there and brought me through the rush-hour traffic to Alajuela. This is a suburb from San Jose. Why did I choose to stay here instead of San Jose? Well for one thing San Jose is just really annoying and loud, although this place doesn't seem to be any better. But this is were the international airport is located and the hostels offer free transfer in the morning and since I have a really early flight I would have stayed here anyways on my last night. Now I'm a day early but I didn't want to change hostels again and you can visit a volcano very easily from here so that's what I'll be doing tomorrow.
Picture of the Day 13.03.2016
It was totally worth getting up that early and taking a canoe safari at 6am. The tempretature was still nice and more importantly all the animals were nice and active. I've seen so many birds and lizards and otters and monkeys, some caimans and even a sloth. The great thing about the canoe compared to motorboats is that you can actually get quite close to the animals without scaring them away and being close up of course means better pictures. Even the birds were close enough for some decent photos. The trip took about 3 hours and took me through some of the most amazing jungle, it really is a small version of the amazon. If you are in Tortuguero you have to do a boat trip as this is the only way to truly experience the park. In the afternoon I went for a walk along the short land trail and it just didn't compare. Without the river the jungle just isn't as impressive and seeing animals is a lot harder. Although I did manage to see some monkeys and even a Tucan (but way to far away for a photo). But these were already all my adventures in this jungle and I'm heading back to San José tomorrow for one last day in town before flying to my last stop on this amazing journey.
Picture of the Day 12.03.2016
Another exciting boat-trip today, well that seems to be the case almost everyday, boats are just a great way to get around here. Anyways today I went from Cahuita to Tortuguero, that is almost the Caribbean coastline covered in one day. I left Cahuita in the morning with a shuttle to Mion and there I boarded the small boat which took me to Tortuguero. Although it was raining heavily down south the boat-ride was still quite nice. There was a roof on the boat so I stayed reasonably dry. This area around here is called the amazon of Costa Rica and it lives up to the name. You cruise along a winding river surrounded by jungle and dozens of animals. This trip isn't just about getting there it is about the trip. Fortunately our captain was a great animal spotter and stopped whenever there was something interesting to see and that's how I got the shot of this poor fellow hanging out in the pouring rain. I'm now in tiny Tortugero Village just hanging out before starting in the park tomorrow morning. First thing to do is going to be a sunrise river safari for the best photos. It's going to be awesome and who needs sleep anyways?
Well three weeks in Costa Rica is just too much time for one country so I decided to head to Panama for a couple of days. Doing that is actually quite easy. From Puerto Viejo in the south Caribbean you can book an easy transfer to Bocas Town. This includes a bus to the border where you have to pay your exit-tax, get an exit-stamp then a entry-stamp and finally pay your entry-tax...four different stations and four different ques but in the end it's fairly easy to cross the border. Afterwards you take another bus to the harbour and then a boat which will eventually take you to Bocas Town, the biggest town on the islands. For those that don't know what I'm talking about, Bocas del Toro is a group of small islands off the northern Caribbean coast of Panama.
Bocas is just like you would imagine a Caribbean city, colorful wooden houses, crystal clear water, sunshine and relaxed people. Here is where I spent three nights in a hostel. The town itself is still quite small and you will have seen everything in less than an hour. But it isn't about the town itself, Bocas is about the bars and restaurants and of course all the offered tours taking you to the various islands.
I decided to start my time there with further exploring Isla Colon so I rented a bicycle. At least that's what they called it and well it had two wheels but nothing else. No brakes, no gears, a rusty chain that kept falling off and flat tires. The bike was OK in the flat but you couldn't even drive the slightest incline with it. That's why I couldn't take it the 14km to Bocas del Drago, going over all the hills to cross the island was impossible. So I just went to Playa de Bluff. A long narrow beach with a big surf. Not really good for swimming but the palm-trees made for nice Caribbean Photos.
But I couldn't just stay on island the whole time so the next day I went to Isla Bastimentos. It's just a short boat-ride away and offers and even more laid-back and authentic town and of course great beaches. After a short time in the town I went on the jungle-trek that took my to the other side of the island to Wizard Beach. I don't really know why it's called that but it's a nice beach and a cool name. Afterwards I planned to go to Red Frog Beach but as it turned out you can't reach it on land and boats can't land there and I didn't really plan on swimming with a bag full of camera gear. So Red Frog was canceled but I went back to Isla Colon to go see Bocas del Drago after all.
Instead of trying again with the bike I just took a bus, it left just outside the hostel and took about half an hour to get there. I'm really glad I did it because this beach is just what I was looking for. Almost no waves, white sand and crystal clear water and all of it topped of by palm-trees along the beach. I managed to finally get the picture I was hoping to get here and because the last bus back was really delayed I also managed to catch a nice sunset.
Unfortunately this already concludes my time in Panama and I only have a couple of hours left before my boat back to Costa Rica leaves. I had a great time but it was way to short. I know that I'll have to come back some time and explore more of this great country. Oh I almost forgot to answer the most important question. Does Panama smell like banana? Well there are a lot of bananas, they grow everywhere and every supermarket is full of them. It might not be the whole country but it's still a lot and they taste amazing.Anyways there is still a lot to do in Costa Rica but until then here are some more photos from Panama. Enjoy and remember clicking on any of the photo will enlarge them.
Picture of the Day 10.03.2016
Another Day in Paradise. But after yesterdays exhausting bike-ride and especially as the hostel had live music and party the whole night I went for some less active action today. I took a boat over to Isla Bastimento and explored the magical "Wizard Beach". Well it was a beautiful beach but I'm not quite sure why it has that name. Later in the afternoon I returned to the main island to finally finish what I couldn't do yesterday: Bocas del Draco. First of all it was a good decision that I didn't keep going with the bicycle as the way was still very long and it would have taken forever. But it was definitely a great decision to go there today because this place is pure Caribbean Paradise. Palmtrees, white sand and crystal clear water. This is the place you just have to visit when you are planning to go here. Sadly my time in Panama is already over and I'm heading back to Costa Rica tomorrow, I would have loved to spend more days here or explore more of the country but my flights are already booked and Costa Rica still has a few things I would love to see.