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fashion postcards travel

Kyntire

The ride along the eastern coastline north of Campbeltown is amazing, though hilly at times. We pitched our tent just next to the Arran ferry at the beach near Claonaig. I hadn’t heard about the isle before but it looked inviting.

The water was also inviting and we didn’t mind the cold temperature too much.

We made our way to Tarbert, which has a bit of an odd history.

There was a festival in town and we had a bit of a chat with this guy until he was asked by a little girl why he was so tall, as if there was something suspiciously wrong.

On a long cycling trip, one has to make sure to stretch. A pretty backdrop to do so is easy to find in these parts.

We still came past the odd castle in forgotton places like here Carnasserie Castle.

We wildcamped for three nights in a row but we stayed in places that let us wash up at the end of the day in the ocean or in a nearby river.

We still felt quiet fresh when we rolled into Oban from where we took the ferry to the Outer Hebrides.

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León y Volcán Telica

The first city we stayed at was Leon. Famous for its colonial architecture like the cathedral.

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At night, a couple of food vendors set up their stalls just behind the building and sold delicious plates with grilled cheese and vegetables. We stayed at the Sonati Hostel where we met Toby and formed the plan to hike up the Telica Volcano and camp there for the night. We went by ourselves and got a self-drawn map from a guy from Algeria, who did the trip a couple of days earlier and who was also kind enough to lend me his backpack. We took a bus to the closest little village and hiked up in the afternoon. Luckily we met some people working on the surrounding fields as the map proofed anything but a reliable guide. And without going astray too many times we arrived early enough to have a look around the crater before sunset.

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We had heard, but only half believed it at the time, that there are people selling cold beer up here. But it proofed to be true as we saw this guy with his bright red cooling box, which we could see several hundred meters away, coming to intercept us as we walked along the ridge of the old crater towards the now active one. The people are from a cooperativa which help keeping things organized in the area. They keep an eye on people clearing the woodlands for their fields, help in case of an emergency, when there is a warning about rising activity of the volcano and people are asked to evacuate the dwellings closest to the volcano. So even if it is not their private property, where we pitched our tents on a meadow below the crater, we agreed to pay two dollars each. After dinner we made a photoshooting with the illuminated tents…

 

…and climbed up to the crater once more to have a better look at the red lava pools. No photos could do it justice. And it is just half as exciting without the sound. That reminded me on the time in Indonesia and the Volcan Bromo, which besides the sound made itself noticeable through the shaking earth beneath ones feet while appoaching the crater. Here’s another shot of the volcano with Toby just after we arrived…

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… and the crater after sunset.

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We all slept just a little and when we got out of our tents, some horses were grazing nearby, as we made our way towards the crater one last time for sunrise.

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on the next day we packed and started on the long ride to Granada,

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from where we will take the ferry to Isla Ometepe.

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equipment locations postcards

Adiós Xela!

After another six weeks in Xela it was time to say goodbye. Here are some shots of the sights i was passing by almost daily. The “Pasaje Enriquez” at the parque central, once intended for exclusive shops, it now hosts mostly bars and restaurants.

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This flags within the park are taken down every evening. A process which takes four people quite some time and involves a lot of folding.

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A view from the central market building towards the cathedral.

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The courtyard of the “centro cultural: casa no´j”.

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and a view from the terrace of my house.

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I still have to pick up some replacement parts at the post office in Guatemala City and hope to fix my bicycle soon.

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locations postcards

Lago Atitlan

I left Xela after five weeks and felt like it is a place i might come back to one day. It was a wonderful day to start cycling again. The sun was shining in a clear blue sky and while i was climbing the mountains surrounding the lake along the panamericana, some views could be obtained of the Santa Maria volcano we had climbed just two days before. But once i started my descent on the other side, the fog kept the lake out of my sight for most of the time.

I arrived in San mMarcos in the afternoon, a place popular with people seeking a spiritual refuge. Most places where fully booked, but one guest house had still a place in their dormitorio. The next morning the weather was better and i saw the mountains and volcanoes on the other side of the lake for the first time.

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The streets are really steep around the lake and the signs seem to pay tribute to that.

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The road from Santiago Atitlan is beautiful. A narrow road with little traffic but with lots of flowers and trees along the way that sometimes form a baldachin over your head. On the eastern shore the road climbs again while leaving the lake but offering some last views of its wonderful panaroma…

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and another with the volcan San Pedro in the background.

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I stayed in Patzún for the night before returning to the pan am for a short while the next morning. Antigua being my next destination, i wanted to at least visit a place on the way: Maya Pedal, a NGO located in San Andrés Itzapa.

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Volcan Santa Maria

We started our tour at five in the morning. Considering the early morning hour, we didn’t feel too tired. After half an hour’s drive with the bus, we got dropped off at the starting point of the trek and began our ascent while it was still dark. Only guided by the beam of the flashlight of our guide. You don’t need to take a guide but in the past, cases of robbery have occured and the people of our school who organized the trip, strongly recommened it. We had a small breakfast at the foot of the volcano and from then on everything was covered in mist and water was dripping from the surrounding trees like rain. The fog was so thick, that after a while we weren’t hoping for good views anymore. But about half an hour before we reached the top, there was a brief burst in the fog and clouds and we could see the surroundings for the first time during the day.

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We arrived just in time on the top to see the neighbouring volcano Santiaguito erupt a fountain of dust and smoke.

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By then the weather was perfect and it lasted until we started our descent when the clouds closed in around us again. The lava dome of Santiaguito is actually a side cone of the Santa Maria volcano, which formed itself after the massive eruption in 1902. We spent more than an hour watching the surrounding mountains and other volcanoes like the ones around Lago Atitlan as well as the highest peak in central america, the volcan Tajumulco. A little later shreds of clouds were swirling over ours heads while the landscapes around us were covered underneath a sea of clouds.

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We took some photos of the group before starting on our way back. In the evening, everbody felt exhausted but still we agreed that it was well worth the effort.

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locations postcards

Semuc Champey

After thinking about to join the tour of the guesthouse, i decided to do it by bicycle myself and my own pace as the tour included two other sights and a rather tight schedule. If i had known the road would be as challenging as within the last days, i might have opted for the tour instead. After only nine kilometers i was soaked in sweat and ready for a swim. Still i decided to climb to the viewing point first,

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before i went to the pools below.

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In the evening i was quite happy again about the buffet which gave the energy i needed on the next day for yet another heavy climb out of the lanquin valley. The last days had been very strenuous on the bicycle but as in most cases also very rewarding.

 

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locations postcards travel

tulum

i made a stop at a bicycle shop before leaving town. everything took a little longer and so it was past noon when i left cancun. the heat was only sometimes mellowed by a passing cloud. but once you start to ride, the breeze takes of the edge. it wasn’t a pleasant ride along the busy highway towards the south, but the shoulder was wide enough to feel save all the time. there was a bit of a tailwind, the surface even, the land flat and i was surprised how easily i moved forward. after three hours i made a stop in puerto morelos, a laid back place which receives less visitors than cancun or the riviera maya south from here. i just wanted to see the ocean and then continue. but as i was having some lunch, some guys set next to me on the bench and one of them invited me to camp at his house where he is living with his girlfriend. a small house but with a lawn big enough to pitch a tent. the kitchen was outside the house and this is where we had dinner and a couple of beers which i bought from the nearby store while my hosts were busy cooking. i guess my host jayo had a couple of drinks before we met since he got pretty drunk after a while. just about the time we sat down in front of my map and he wanted to give me some advise for my route. and soon he dozed off.

i left a note and started early before they got up, to avoid the heat if only for a little while. the road was about the same as the day before and i was looking forward to reach tulum, setting up camp there and going for a swim. the famous ruins of tulum are located before the town if coming from the north and directly at the caribbean sea. just a few hundred meters further is a place called santa fe. it gathered some fame along backpackers for being one of the few budget places along the shore and today is maybe the only one with a campsite.

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and some steps to the left is the beach.

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the photo was taken quite early in the morning. it gets a bit busier during the day as this is also the public beach area of tulum. but it is still pre saison here and tourists will not start flocking in until december. this is a perfect place for a rest day. tomorrow i’m off to felipe carrillo puerto and then the lagoon at bacalar before making my way to belize.

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locations postcards travel

hakataramea pass

i had a light start into the day until the turnoff for the hakataramea pass at kurow. it was perfect cycling weather with enough clouds to cool down the temperature in an otherwise blue sky.

the hakataramea pass was another recommendation from bob, the guy we stayed with at the buller gorge. a quiet gravel road leading through one of the most beautiful areas of the south island.

i found a wonderful spot for the night directly at the hakataramea river. since these were my last days in new zealand i was happy to experience all that makes it such a great country for cycling like here in mackenzie country.

the pass itself is not that high. so the crossing of several fords was the most challenging part. i went further on gravel and over the mackenzies pass before i came out at burke’s pass village, where i passed with jens, laurence, sarah and churo about four weeks earlier. from then it felt like the trip was coming to an end as i only retraced my steps on known territory back towards christchurch.

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marlborough sounds

once again i stayed at a d.o.c. campsite, this time at pelorus bridge. a wonderful campsite at a river surrounded by forest with several walking tracks in the area. on top of that it has a kitchen and hot showers. i met another cyclist, guillaume from france. we both cooked two meals each and had a whole table full of food to share for dinner.

the next day, i turned off the highway and followed the road along the kenepuru sound. most campsites were pretty crowded and too close to the road for my taste. but another not marked turnoff ended in a place which someone had used as a campspot before. there was a table with chairs, a path to a nearby stream to get water and even coat hooks on the tree next to the table. a small path led to another clearing with just enough space to park the bike and pitch a tent. from there it was only a couple of steps to the beach.

i continued to kenepuru heads almost at the end of the sealed road. i pitched the tent and left most of my stuff to start my day trip towards mount stokes. with 1200 meters in altitude the highest elevation in the area. the road soon turned into gravel and soon after that the climb started. the road leads about halfway up before the 5 hour return track starts. there’s hardly any views while climbing through the forest but once you’re on top the sounds look stunning.

there’s a plateau on top with a 360 degree view and nothing but green hills and water. back on the campground i met stefan, another german traveller, who in his kindness provided me with some fruit as i was running low on food. and i didn’t have to pay the camp fee as the  the campsite host is a cyclist too.

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arthur’s pass

i wanted to get into the mountains again and cycling over the arthur’s pass to the west coast seemed like the quickest way to get that. the first day i just cycled outside the city in more or less the same weather as on the day i arrived, but the next day was perfect. sunny and not too hot like an early day in spring.

i stopped at lake pearson for the first night. a wonderful setting with the mountain on the opposite shore which reflected on the lake’s surface. after reaching arthur’s pass village around noon the next day i climbed another 1000 meters on foot to the avalanche peak.

i held snow in my hands for the first time this year and was for some time almost alone on the summit.

i was surprised to see a kea this high up. these nasty buggers can be quite a challenge while camping. stealing food is just the start as they don’t stop short of tents and bicycles. luckily i could park my ride in a nearby shelter and had just no milk for breakfast which they snitched from my tent’s vestibule.

the next day it was a short climb from the arthur’s pass village to the actual pass and then a steep downhill for the first few kilometers and i was glad i started the pass coming from the east. i met another group of cyclists on my way down and by now i wasn’t surprised to see one or more each day. so i might not mention all of those i meet.