A 7-day exclusive trek for the best of Réunion!

Reunion Island is a true hiker’s paradise. With hundreds of kilometers of well-maintained and well-marked trails crisscrossing the island’s mountains (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), indigenous forests full of endemic species, rivers, striking viewpoints and isolated settlements, it might be hard to choose which hiking paths to take. To hit the most beautiful natural wonders of Reunion Island while experiencing the three very different amphitheaters (called “Cirques”) and meeting its inhabitants walking the most scenic trails, we have created an exclusive 7-day circular hike for you! Keep traveling!

The new outdoorsy capital of South Africa [George]

George seems to be a sleepy city populated mostly by retirees. It is a bit of the forgotten city along the Garden Route not posh enough for wealthy tourists to really stop, not popular enough for backpackers to consider it. However, George is becoming the outdoorsy capital of South Africa, plebiscited by avid mountain bikers, canyoning enthusiasts, fit hikers, skilled surfers, and passionate birdwatchers. Don’t miss out and make sure to stay for a few days to enjoy its fantastic activities. Keep travelling!

How to choose your water filter [for outdoors and traveling]

A long distance hike like the GR 20, famous for being the toughest one in Europe [186 kilometers through the Corsican Mountains with an inhumane positive elevation and burning sun!] is the perfect playground to select the optimum gear and test it. Since we have completed it and have been entirely satisfied with our gear, Katadyn water filtration products come with us on every adventure, whether an exposed outdoorsy outing or a city trip in countries where water is scarce and not always drinkable. Keep reading!

Behind the scenes in a GR 20 refuge at 1,810m

May, 1: Fred hikes up to the refuge d’Usciolu at an altitude of 1,810 metres from the village of Cozzano, two hours away. The athletic young fellow needs crampons and piolets to make his way up and often has to saw the icy snow to make his way into the kitchen of the refuge to warm up. For four years he has been assisting Francis, the refuge keeper in the summer months and this is how the 5-month season starts. Before the helicopter delivers 800 kilograms of Keep hiking!

Backpack weight & hiking

Tough equation: any hike is more enjoyable when carrying less, but carrying more can make it more comfortable especially when spending the night in the outdoors…

A commonly accepted guideline is to limit the weight Keep reading!

GR 20 Etape 14: Paliri to Conca [GR 20: 180km of hiking DONE!!]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 14 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 14 of the GR 20 (Paliri to Conca): +200m, -980m over 13km

[Click here for the previous stage]

After the long stage of yesterday our muscles seem to be protesting as we start walking and leave beautiful Paliri behind. There is something special about Paliri that makes us realise the ambivalence of our feelings. On one hand, Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 13: Croci to Paliri [wild pigs & Bavella Needles]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 13 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 13 of the GR 20 (Croci to Paliri): +1350m, -1600m over 18.7km

[Click here for the previous stage]

The alarm clock goes off and wakes us from our deep sleep after one of the most comfortable nights on the GR 20! Getting ready fast, we step into the stone bergerie (sheepfold) for Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 12: Usciolu to Croci [why Croci is a must!]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 12 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 12 of the GR 20 (Usciolu to Croci): +500m, -700m over 13.4km

[Click here for the previous stage]

After cooking our by now usual oatmeal and starting to be quite fed up with it (doing the GR 20 in autonomy Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 11: Col de Verde to Usciolu [ridgelines & fresh fruits]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 11 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 11 of the GR 20 (Col de Verde to Usciolu): +1090m, -750m over 15.3km

[Click here for the previous stage]

After freezing our butts off for more than a week (packing light does come at a price!), we have had our first warm night on the GR 20! Between the elevation of Col de Verde about 400 metres lower than the refuge of Prati and the weather that is improving as we are getting closer to July, night temperatures have become two digits. Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 10: E’Capannelle to Col de Verde [beer, soccer & BBQ…]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 10 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 10 of the GR 20 (E’Capannelle to Col de Verde): +500m, -590m over 13km

[Click here for the previous stage]

It is early morning when we break the tent and leave to enjoy sunrise on the Corsican Mountains. Shortly after the peaks are tainted pink while the mountains are still in the shade, we descend to the river to cook another hearty oatmeal breakfast with tea and coffee to warm us up after a cold night. Studying our Rite Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 9: Vizzavona to E’Capannelle [stepping into the South]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 9 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 9 of the GR 20 (Vizzavona to E’Capannelle): +890m, -230m over 15km

[Click here for the previous stage]

And the Southern part of the GR 20 does start like a dream! After making progress slowly on a very technical terrain along the Northern stretch, we are walking fast in the Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 8: L’onda to Vizzavona [how simple pleasures become luxury]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 8 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 8 of the GR 20 (L’Onda to Vizzavona): +650m, -1230m over 10km

[Click here for the previous stage]

That’s it, we have just started the last stage of the Northern part of the GR 20! A short 10-kilometre stretch. Just one last uphill before a smooth 1,230-metre downhill into the small settlement of Vizzavona, or so we thought. Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 7: Vaccaghja to L’Onda [via altitude lakes you don’t want to miss!]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 7 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 7 of the GR 20 (Vaccaghja to L’Onda): +1600m, -1400m over 20km

[Click here for the previous stage]

We slowly wake up in the warmth of the dry stone house after our best night by far on the GR 20. The storm seems to be a distant memory as blue skies contrast greatly with the surrounding greenery. The best of the bergerie (sheepfold) de Vaccaghja has yet to come with our first warm shower Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 6: Castel del Vergio to Vaccaghja [the nicest accommodation of the whole GR 20!]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 6 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 6 of the GR 20 (Castel del Vergio to Vaccaghja): +620m, -450m over 14km

[Click here for the previous stage]

After crossing the road and leaving the asphalt behind, we make progress fast on an easy and relatively flat trail through a pine and later a beech forest. As we ascend towards the col of Saint Peter Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 5: Ballone to Castel del Vergio [why this is better than Tighettu to Ciottulu]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 5 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 5 of the GR 20 (Ballonne to Castel del Vergio): +660m, -680m over 13.5km

[Click here for the previous stage]

One of the perks of favouring bergeries (sheepfolds) over refuges is the warm welcome and delicious food. After an excellent local cured ham sandwich for breakfast that is a nice change from our usual oatmeal, we are ready to tackle this next stage. Much easier than the previous one (13.5 kilometres of distance with only 660 metres of elevation gain and 680 metres of elevation loss), the first few hundred metres feel like it is our very first bit of flat trail on the GR 20. The mineral world of Stage 4 has turned into Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 4: Ascu Stagnu to Ballone [is Monte Cinto really better than Cirque de la Solitude?]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 4 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 4 of the GR 20 (Ascu Stagnu to Ballone): +1220m, -1150m over 9.4km

[Click here for the previous stage]

Early wake up today as there may be more rain early in the afternoon. With most of our gear still wet after the heavy thunderstorm we hiked through on the downhill of Stage 3, we are ready to run the 9.4 kilometres we need to cover today to avoid another unwanted shower! Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 3: Carrozzu to Ascu Stagnu [helicopter rescue & thunderstorms]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 3 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 3 of the GR 20 (Carrozzu to Ascu Stagnu): +790m, -640m over 5km

[Click here for the previous stage]

After breaking up the tent fast we meet with the man in charge of hiking for the Regional Natural Park of Corsica on the now quiet terrace of the refuge of Carrozzu. It is the beginning of the season and one of the busiest moments and he looks worried. The park and the GR face some serious challenges. Last year Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 2: Ortu di u Piobbu to Carrozzu [tougher than we thought]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 2 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 2 of the GR 20 (Ortu di u Piobbu to Carrozzu): +780m, -920m over 7.7km

[Click here for the previous stage]

Most hikers are already gone when we open the rainfly of our tent to admire the view: the mountains are slowly bathed by the pink light of the rising sun. After a cold night, we are both impatient to feel the sun rays. Tomorrow is the start of the summer and the weather forecast has already greatly improved from snow in mid-May to rain and thunderstorms last week. The days are very hot in the sun with a traitorous cold wind on the summits. Keep hiking!

GR 20 Etape 1: Calenzana to Ortu di u Piobbu [getting launched on the GR!]

GR 20 Corsica Stage 1 Elevation

Elevation for Stage 1 of the GR 20 (Calenzana to Ortu di u Piobbu): +1360m, -60m over 10.6km

A familiar noise wakes me up: the zipping and unzipping of tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, down jackets or soft shells of other hikers already getting ready to start the GR 20 at 4:30 in the morning. I turn around in our 2-person lightweight Jamet-designed tent, and doze off a bit longer: after all we have all day to make it to Ortu di u Piobbu, only 11 kilometres away from here in Calenzana, but the strenuous first stage will elevate us by about 1,360 metres in the Corsican mountains…

Keep hiking!

GR 20: Prologue

The toughest hike of Europe will take you through the rugged heart of the island of Beauty. In the Mediterranean Sea, off the coasts of France and Italy, Corsica is a hikers’ paradise and its famous 200-kilometre long GR 20 offers an endless variety of landscapes to the adventurers who will dare braving its often daily 4-digit elevation gains. Keep hiking!

The Wild Coast: hike it before they mine it!

We are sitting on a flat rock by the roaring Indian Ocean observing the powerful waves crashing violently into the rugged rocky shore and spraying 15-metre high into the air. Inland the green hills, warmly bathed by the sunset light, seem to never end. Far on the horizon, only a few white rondavels with their thatched roofs remind us that we are not alone in this world. We are discovering the remote land of the Pondo people stretching along the last unspoilt shore of South Africa during a five-day trek. But the Wild Coast is jeopardised by an international titanium mining project that would disfigure it and rob the Pondo people of their most precious asset: their land. Keep travelling!

Conquering world’s second highest waterfall

“Look at those giant ragged shapes on the horizon! It looks like a draak!” One of the early Voortrekkers could have said.

“I am not sure we can go any further! A barrier of spears is blocking us” A Zulu warrior might have said.

Draak is Afrikaans for dragon and the Zulu warrior and Afrikaner were talking about the same mountain range: the Drakensberg, or dragon mountains.

The mountain range stretches for about Keep travelling!

Hiking to find world’s largest flower!

Ironically, the largest flower in the world is hard to spot! Growing in South East Asia, it can be found in the forests of Khao Sok National Park in Southern Thailand. The lucky hiker may come across one while exploring the trails of the park which lead to natural pools and waterfalls. Keep travelling!

Photo of the day: a view on Nong Khiaw, Laos

Eight more minutes, the sign indicates. “If I am fast it might be only 5”, I tell myself when I eagerly hike up the last few steep metres before reaching the viewpoint overlooking the rural town of Nong Khiaw in Northern Laos. Reaching the top after a one-hour hike, the 360-degree view on Nong Khiaw does not fail to impress: the terraces of light green rice paddies contrast with Keep reading

Uncovering the secret & most beautiful beach of the French Riviera

The sun has warmed up my skin more than I can bear while the warm wind spreads a scent of pine through the air. My backpack is filled with delicious fresh fruits from the market of the Cour Lafayette in Toulon, ready to be munched away during a picnic at a secret cove, by one of the most beautiful beaches of the French Riviera. Keep reading

The High Coast Trail, Sweden: A visual tour

The High Coast trail (or Höga Kusten leden) is a beautiful 128-kilometre multi-day hiking trail from stuga to stuga, along the eastern coast of Sweden, about 6 hours north of Stockholm by car. The High Coast trail leads  Keep reading

Crossing the bay of the Mont Saint Michel

It has been a long trip, walking for hundreds of kilometres. Setting off about a month ago, we have just arrived at the foot of the last obstacle. It is so close and yet, it seems impossible to reach. The high tide covers up the whole shore and I fear greatly for this life-threatening crossing on foot to the sacred island Keep reading

Explore Santa Fé, Panama, a hiking paradise

The young ayudante holds his balance gracefully when the colectivo (the mini-van turned local bus), sets off to the next bus stop on the winding road. The engine makes more noise as the gradient of the road gets steeper and the view on the rolling hills surrounding us more beautiful. Behind the next curve lays the remote mountain village of Santa Fé, about five hours South-West of Panama City.

Keep traveling

A quest to spot the most beautiful bird: The Quetzal trail, Panama

One of Central America’s most picturesque hikes runs between the mountain town of Boquete and the lesser known Cerro Punta in Pamana. Both lay in different valleys putting them a good three-hour bus ride away from each other. They are also linked by the famous 9-kilometre Quetzal trail, squeezed  between two dead end roads, for a total of about 23 kilometres. Given the elevation gain, Keep traveling

Discover Bastimentos: the secret gem of Bocas del Toro, Panama

Since the archipelago of Bocas del Toro was discovered in 1502 by Christopher Columbus, the island of Bastimentos has served as a base for vessels; hence its name that literally translates as “supplies”. Its fertile soil and tropical climate are ideal for a wide variety of plants to grow plentifully as we are about to discover, setting off for a jungle and beach hike with our specialized guides. Keep traveling!

Beyond the flowers of Ruta de las Flores, El Salvador

“Where are they?” I think concerned while guarding the bags containing our camera gear. A few guys with machetes keep an eye on me from a distance, so I cannot leave the spot. The half of best regards from far has disappeared in a low, narrow and dark tunnel filled with water, dug into the rocks. Its entrance is barely visible as it is hidden behind a curtain of water. It has been almost 30 minutes and  Keep reading

Hiking the cloud forest of the Mombacho volcano, Nicaragua

The whistle from the ayudante (the helper of the bus driver) signals that the overcrowded bus must stop. We get off quickly, and not even coming to a complete halt, the bus drives off. A few bright red tuk-tuks, which surround us instantly, indicate in which direction to go. “Up to the park entrance, very far, cheap price, want a ride?” We are at the foot of the Mombacho volcano in Nicaragua, and we don’t want a ride. Instead, we have decided to conquer the 1344 metres of this dormant volcano, from bottom to top with our own little legs! Keep reading

Chilling out in the Apoyo crater lake, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is crossed by a long volcanic chain running from north to south, with volcanoes such as Telica, Masaya, Mombacho, Concepcion, Maderas… many of which still active. Close to Granada, a 6-kilometer-diameter and 100-meter deep crater is filled by fresh water: this is the stunning Laguna de Apoyo, and most likely one of the most enjoyable swims in the country! keep reading

Peeping into Telica’s massive smokey crater, Nicaragua

The sun burns my exposed skin while I am making my way among fumeroles. A slight smell of sulphur fills the hot air as we walk on a dusty trail. The backpack, stuffed with a tent, a few litres of water and some more gear to spend the night in the wild, presses on my shoulder. We are on our way to the top of the active Telica volcano in Nicaragua, in a quest to observe its massive crater. Keep traveling!

Photo of the day: Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

About 84,000 years ago, a massive volcanic eruption called los chocoyos ejected 270 cubic meters of ashes that can be found in rock strata as far as Florida and Panama. Locally, it formed a gigantic caldera which was later partially filled by water: and lake Atitlan was created. Keep travelling

Climbing up the Acatenango volcano, Guatemala

“Whose idea was this, again?” I barely hear the question over the loud flapping of the freezing cold 200km/h wind against the sleeping bag I am tucked into, fully dressed in the multiple layers of the warmest clothes I have. Indeed, after the life-threatening Daikiretto in the Japanese Alps, the Grand Traverse of the Daisetzusan in Hokkaido, the mosquito-infested 5-day Mirador trek, thrilling skiing itineraries in the French Alps, caving in the Cayo destrict of Belize and playing the Robinson’s on a lost and remote island, etc, I have to admit this was again one of my ideas… It didn’t sound that bad at first: a 7-kilometer hike up the Acatenango volcano to observe the active Fuego volcano at sunrise. Keep reading

Hike and Help: Reach the ultimate view on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

A light is switched on, waking me up. With earplugs in my ears, my jacket and bonnet on, I am slowly extracting myself from my sleeping bag. It is early! 3:15a.m. Around me, other sleepy trekkers start to pack their sleeping bags and mattresses that cover the floor of Don Pedro’s dining room in a remote village in Guatemala. Only a few hours ago, the 15 of us from all over the world were singing songs Keep reading

A 5-day jungle expedition to discover the ancient Maya capital of El Mirador, Guatemala

 

After a rough four-and-a-half-hour bumpy bus ride, we eventually arrive in Carmelita. We are at the end of the road! And this is just the beginning of Keep travelling!

Hiking from Magome to Tsumago: timeless Japan

With the 4-day-Yari-dake hike we have just finished the day before, and still being used to waking up at sunrise, we decide to go for an 8-km stroll between the timeless villages of Keep reading

Bear encounter in Shiretoko, Hokkaido

It is early morning when the doors of the visitor centre in Shiretoko National Park open and we receive our bear certificates.
We are about to Keep traveling!

The Daisetzusan Grand Traverse and the forces of nature

A huge crack wakes me up in the middle of the night. I jump from the bed and open my eyes widely to see a bright light illuminating the Japanese-style room. About 5 seconds later Keep reading

An exhilarating hike in the Japanese Alps

“Okay, don’t panic! There is a stone about 20 cm below your left foot, and a cavity for your left hand behind that rock. Yes, slightly lower. That’s it! You can put your weight on it.”

I don’t see anything but the mountain ridge on the horizon above that rock I need to descend from and a lethal ravine below my feet, while hanging on my arms trying to divide my weight at best. My legs start shaking when I feel the stone underneath my right hand moving! My 12+kg backpack drags me down and bruises my hips and shoulders, limiting my degrees of freedom. I really wish I had a parachute or a zip line… For a few seconds, I don’t see how I can help myself down safely and I fear for my life. Keep traveling!

Hiking up a sacred summit of Shikoku: Ishizuchi san

Arriving on Shikoku we drive inland, as one of our main reasons to visit the island is to hike up the sacred Mount Ishizuchi. We pitch our tent on a completely lost campsite next to a beautiful river in the scenic Ogomei gorge, a perfect spot to start the ascent early the next day. Keep reading

Photo of the day: Iwayaji, Shikoku

On our way to Iwayaji temple, one of the 88 temples of the Shikoku pilgrimage. Keep traveling!

The emerald waters of Takachiho, Kyushu, Japan

Mount Aso’s huge volcanic eruptions have thrown out what is deep inside the Earth. Red hot lava flowing along the slopes and into the valley leaving its traces. Dark ashes Keep traveling!

Rare bird encounters

The amount of times that I have been woken up by an orchestra of birds singing passionately is uncountable. Whether it would be in my home country or during one of my travels to America, Africa or a different part of Europe, it remains fascinating to discover new tunes and to recognise familiar ones which remind me of home. I am not a bird-expert. I recognise the call of starlings, robins, blackbirds, great and blue tits, wrens, woodpeckers, finches, owls, cranes, birds of prey and a few Keep reading

Can you solve the Swedish riddle?

Are you familiar with the riddle of the wolf, the goat and the cabbage on one bank of a river? It goes like this: you have one boat and you need to transfer these three safely and each in one piece to the other bank, and obviously if Keep reading

Stuga hopping along the Höga Kusten, Sweden

I have hiked in summer in basically all the provinces of Sweden, not having any problems finding accommodation. Thanks to the Allmansrättan, giving anyone the right to enjoy outdoor activities respectful of the environment, including camping on any land (but for a few exceptions), I have pitched my tent along hiking trails many times, occasionally staying at a local bed & breakfast, or stuga (a small wooden cabin). Keep reading

The Swedish stuga sauna

Hiking the High coast trail, we have experienced many different comfort levels and heating devices in the stugas we stayed at.

Last night, after a hike up through the wet forest in the Höga Kusten, we arrived at a small stuga. Happy to see a small wooden cottage in the distance and eager to discover what surprises it would hold, we sped up in our soaking hiking boots and opened its door… Keep reading

My first stuga experience, High Coast trail, Sweden

Yesterday, after some unexpected events, we arrived in Hölick later than planned. As the season only starts in mid-May, finding a place to sleep in the deserted village was merely impossible. Far from being as comfortable as in other parts of Sweden, shelters of the nature reserve with their very basic 3 walls and 2 built-in benches were not an option to spend the night as it would be too cold. This led to my first experience with the Swedish Allemansrätten: Keep reading