It’s been nearly two years since we returned from our last big RTW trip. The 12 month trip we took in 2013/2014 was worth every cent of time and money we spent, it holds for us special memories of the places we saw, the people we met and the adventures we had, it was one of the best years of our lives. We said on our return that there was still more of this big world to see and we want to see it before we get too old! so we would work to save and do it again within three years and here we are mid-way through 2016 and counting down the months to 29th January 2017.. the start of our next BIG ADVENTURE!
On our 2013/2014 trip we visited 6 continents and over 30 countries, some of which were re-visits. We spent the majority of our time in Asia (6 months) this time we will be spending the majority of our time in Europe. We felt our last trip was a little rushed but when you have a 12-month sabbatical from work then you try to squeeze in as much as possible and as a result we got tired and was ready to go home! This time however our approach is going to be a much slower pace, staying in places longer rather than move on after 3 days. We will try to incorporate something different like house-sitting, couch surfing, voluntary work and may even try paid work. Also we don’t have a definite end date, there is no sabbatical this time I will quit but I’m ready too anyway and move onto a new career path on our return. Vaughan will have too as well and the time we spend away will be governed by how far we can stretch our savings!
So what is on the agenda for 2017:
5th Feb to 15th Feb
Having been to six continents that leaves the final frontier! This will be by far our biggest expense (no kidding!) but we were fortunate to book early so made a significant saving. We have booked a 12 day cruise with Chimu Adventures and will be travelling with a group of friends we met through the Travbuddy website. We board the ship from the most southerly Argentinian town of Ushuaia. Yes Antarctica is expensive and I did wince when I handed that deposit over but its a once in a lifetime opportunity that wasn’t to be missed 🙂
Jan 29th through to April 21st
In 2014 we spent nearly three months in SA visiting Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and northern Chile. This time we are returning to see the southern half of the continent and will be spending a lot of time exploring the stunning mountainous region of Patagonia.
Our main focus will be Patagonia as we both love mountains and hiking, we have given ourselves a couple of months to explore this huge country and plan to see all the major hot spots like Patagonia, Perito Merino Glacier, Bariloche, Mendoza for its wine, Salta and the deserts and salt pans of the northwest, Iguaza Falls and Buenos Aires. Argentina is also known for its steak, good wine and tango so it won’t all be about scenery 😉
Having seen the north of Chile (Arica and Atacama) on our last trip we will focus on everything south of Santiago and a side trip to Easter Island. Our Chiliean adventure will start in its most southerly town of Punta Arenas and we will slowly make our way north through Patagonia to the Chilean Lake District, the World Unesco Heritage Island of Chileo with its unique wooden churches, the colourful coastal town of Valparaiso and finishing in the vibrant capital Santiago. We have also been fortunate enough to pick up cheap return tickets to Easter Island so will spend a week there which we are pretty excited about. We have booked the 5 Day Torres Del Paine W Trek which we look forward to sharing with 7 of our Travbuddy friends.
This little gem is about an hours ferry ride across the Rio De La Plata from Buenos Aires so we look forward to checking out the Spanish colonial architecture of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Colonia del Sacramento, its capital Montevideo and lounge on its lovely beaches.
Return to Australia
After South America we will return to Australia to organise visas for the next phase of our journey. We need to organise visas for Russia and Mongolia. Visa’s will take around three weeks but on the plus side it’s an opportunity to rest and catch up with friends and family!
Japan has always been on my bucket list I just don’t know why I haven’t got their sooner! I spent much of my teenage years doing Japanese martial arts and became fascinated with the country. Finally we get to go and we are really looking forward to the culture, food, onsens, temples, castles, gardens, riding the shinkansen, staying in a Ryokan and just seeing for myself an apologising elevator!!
If we are going to Japan then we may as well pop in next door and visit South Korea.
Epic Railway Journey – The Trans-Mongolian
This has always been high on Vaughan’s bucket list but low on mine until we met an English backpacker couple (Chris and Rachel of Vagabond Baker) in Vietnam who had travelled to Asia from the UK with the Trans-Mongolian. Their description of their amazing journey through Russia and Mongolia inspired me and pushed it further up the “must do” list. So we have decided rather than jump on a plane we will take this once in a lifetime train journey to Europe.
There are two popular routes:
Trans-Siberian – This starts or ends in Vladivostok and travels the entire length of Russia.
Trans-Mongolian – Starts/ends in Beijing and traverses Mongolia and Russia between Moscow and Irkutsk
The most popular direction for this journey is west to east but we are starting from east and heading west given we are in the eastern end of the world! We haven’t totally decided yet but we are considering starting the journey in Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia as opposed to Beijing. Reason for this is we have already been to China and the costs of visas to China just for a few days visit to catch a train seems a little pointless as well as adding to overall cost and time.
We are organising the trip ourselves from visa’s to booking train tickets and not using an agency. With research and helpful websites like Man in Seat 61 and Russiau we have found it is easy enough to plan and book our own travel without the use of an expensive agency.
Stops on our journey will include:
We want to spend at least two weeks in this amazing destination and do a tour with a local travel agency – Sunpath which Chris and Rachel recommended. The tour we are looking at will take us to the Gobi Desert and beyond where we get the opportunity to experience life in the desert and stay with local nomadic families in a traditional ger.
We plan to spend at least a couple of weeks or more going through Russia with planned stops at the following:
- Lake Baikal and Olkhon Island
- St Petersburg
We are still researching Russia so their maybe more stops yet.
Mid July – October
Our European segment starts in Western Russia. After spending some time in Moscow exploring this great city we will then take the train to St Petersburg another one of Russia’s beautiful cities. We then plan on taking the train to Helsinki in Finland and the ferry to Tallin in Estonia where the rest of our European venture begins.
As we plan on spending time in Europe then we needed to think of ways of keeping to our budget and the cheapest and best way to see it is to buy a campervan! From our research the best and cheapest places to buy one from is either Germany or Netherlands.
We may not buy a van straight away, we may explore some of Eastern Europe first as its much cheaper than western so won’t break the bank (well I hop not!!). Where we go is fluid at this stage but favourites are Baltic States (Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia), Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro. Once we have explored Eastern Europe then we will make our way through Western Europe and finally over to Britain.
We do know that we want to explore most of Europe by camper which will not only reduce the cost but also give us the flexibility with where we want to go! A camper is our bed, kitchen and transport all in one.
Late October through to (well just before Christmas!!)
As the weather gets colder in Europe then so does my desire to not stick around! Vaughan might like the cold but I truly hate it (Yes I know we are going to Antarctica, that’s different!!)
Africa is one of our favourite continents, we spent 7 weeks on an overland truck with African Travel Company in 2014 from Nairobi to Capetown and loved it. It still warms my heart even now when I think about it :-). Since then I have been yearning to return. So we have decided to escape the colder more miserable months of Europe from late October through to (just before xmas) and enjoy the sunshine, warmth and wildlife of Southern Africa.
This time we would like to do the following:
A tour that takes us through Zimbabwe, Kruger National Park, Swaziland and Mozambique.
Volunteer with wildlife. We have contacts through friends for options for volunteering with wildlife.
Hire a car and drive from Johannesburg to Cape town taking about 3 to 4 weeks and visiting the Drakensberg Mountains , East and West Cape and of course the Garden Route arriving at one of our favourite African cities – Cape Town.
Christmas and New Year
We will return to England to spend Christmas and New Year with Family and Friends. Vaughan has never had a cold Christmas so this is his opportunity! I might not enjoy the cold but I have missed having a cold Christmas.