“Easter Island? What on earth did you do there?” is normally the reaction I get when I say how incredible Easter Island is. Given it’s remote location and the fact that few people have visited, it’s a fair question! So, here you can find my complete itinerary alongside some additional extras that I wish I had time to do!

Two Moai At Easter Island Quarry

Day One

Jump On A Flight From Santiago

Allow yourself plenty of time for your flight; not only is the flight a whopping 5 hours from mainland Santiago, Easter Island frequently suffers turbulent weather and flights can therefore suffer significant delays. My flight was delayed by 5 hours!

On arrival in Easter Island, I was presented with a lei by the hostel manager from Camping y Hostal Tipanie Moana which made me VERY excited for what was to come from my first ever Pacific Island adventure.

On arrival at the airport, you will be required to purchase your ticket for all of the archaeological sites for $60. You will need to present this when entering most site or if a ranger asks you whilst you are standing in part of the National Park.

With expensive flights and a hefty fee for a ticket to the archaeological sites, you’re probably wondering how much a trip to Easter Island is going to cost you! Check out my tips and tricks on how to visit Easter Island on a budget here.

Get Your First Glimpse of A Moai – Ahu Tahai & Ahu Ko Te Riku

Easter Island Ahu Tahai

I had big plans for Day One on the island, but a long flight delay meant that these plans were somewhat scuppered! Instead of rushing around trying to rectify matters, I desperately searched the map to find the nearest Moai heads.

With Ahu Tahai being a short 20 minute walk from the main village of Hanga Roa, I headed there immediately and I don’t think I’ve ever walked so fast in my life! After being cooped up in an airport and then plane for more than 10 hours, I was ready to be unleashed on the mysterious statues that I had travelled so far to see!

Ahu Tahai is solo statue but 2 minutes away is Ahu Ko Te Riku where 5 stand proudly in a row. I certainly wasn’t disappointed with the view but little did I know that these were some of the smaller moai on the island and things were only going to get better!

This is one of the best spots to catch the sunset on the island – unfortunately my first night was extremely cloudy, so the sunset wasn’t particularly impressive. The good news is that as the site is so close to town, you can try and catch a great sunset as many times as you like.

Day Two

Explore the Town of Hanga Roa

Easter Island Hanga Roa

Eager to start exploring properly, I headed straight into town to see what was going on. Hanga Roa is the only real town on the Island and while there isn’t much to see or do in the town, it’s definitely worth popping in to see how the locals live. If you’re looking for a cheap lunch spot, “Club Sandwich” is the place to be!

If you’re looking for Wi-Fi, there are a few parks in the town which have free Wi-Fi but it might be at the cost of your own sanity whole you wait for your social media to load.

Get Your Passport Stamped!

Easter Island Passport Stamp

South America is filled with novelty passport stamps – if you get them all, you’re likely to need a new passport shortly after! However, Easter Island’s stamp is definitely worth getting.

Easter Island is owned by Chile and therefore there is no stamping process, when you arrive or depart from the airport. Instead, you can go to the local post office and pay a small donation in return for a passport stamp.

I also purchased an Easter Island postal stamp for my friend’s mum who collects stamps from around the work. Be warned that the Easter Island stamps are only valid on the Island (which makes no sense given that you can drive the length of the island in less than an hour). If you were to send a postcard from the Island, it would be routed through the Chilean postal system and you would need to purchase a standard Chilean stamp.

Try to Spot Turtles at Pea Bay

Easter Island Pea Bay

Pea Bay / Pea Beach is a tiny little beach a short walk from the main town centre and is one of my favourite Hanga Roa spots!

If you’re lucky, you will spot turtles swimming in the bay. If you’re not so lucky, you can console yourself with an ice cream from the Pea Restobar. I don’t know if it was the intense heat/humidity playing with my mind, but I’m pretty sure it was some of the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted (I recommend the pineapple flavour)! I am too ashamed to include quite how many times I bought ice cream from this spot within this itinerary.

Rent a Car and Begin the Loop Road Around The Island

Easter Island Cars

To truly experience the island, renting a car is fundamental. Luckily, car hire is reasonably priced, especially when you are travelling in a group.

While cooking dinner in the hostel the previous night, I got chatting to an American couple who were on a year long travel adventure. As they were the only other English speakers in the hostel at the time, I am very grateful that they took me under their wing and allowed me to share their car with them! We paid 35,000 CLP for 24 hours of car hire (approximately 35 GBP) which when split between 3 people was very reasonable.

There is a large loop road around the Island which hosts the main Moai archaeological sites. With this being my first full day on the island, it was a pretty impressive start to my time here!

See The Fallen Moai at Vaihu – Hanga Te’e

Fallen Moai Hanga Te'e

Hanga Te’e is the perfect place to see Moai in the state that they were left after the Huri Moai period (a.k.a “The Fallen Moai” period).

As with most of Easter Island’s history, the stories are unclear, but there is evidence to suggest that the initial toppling of the Moai was part of a conflict amongst islanders rather than by way of a natural disaster.

Easter Island adopted Christianity in the 1860s which led to a period of toppling the remaining standing Moai (bar some which are partially buried in the quarry) known as the “Huri Moai” period. The Moai which we now see standing were re-erected in later years.

Explore ancient history at Akahanga

Easter Island Akahanga

Akahanga has a really fascinating history. Each archaeological site has a red sign at the entrance for you to start learning about the history, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up obsessed with the history and the proud owner of an extensive Google search history!

By the entrance, you will find ruins of the best preserved ancient village on the island. Small thatched huts make up a number of ovens, houses and gardens.

Further along the marked path (be sure to stick to all paths on the island as the authorities are trying to cut down on unnecessary erosion by human traffic where possible across the island), you will find a platform which would have been used as a ceremonial centre. The platform consists of several stages which is believed to show a mixture of clans and families that occurred in the ancient society.

There are plenty more toppled Moai to see here too and fantastic views of the rugged coastline!

See Hundreds of Moai at Rano Raraku (The Quarry)

Easter Island Rano Raraku
Easter Island Quarry Crater

Now for my favourite stop on the road trip…

Rano Raraku is known as “The Quarry” and is the only archaeological site that your ticket will only allow you to visit once – so make the most of your time here!

The Quarry is now home to almost 400 Moai which never made it to their final destination and in the 18th Century was the source of the stone used for 95% of the Moai on the island. My favourite part of the Quarry is the unfinished Moai that you can still see resting in the rock face, partially carved.

Take your time to walk around the paths and admire the craftsmanship of the Moai but don’t forget to walk around the back of the main site (there are two paths as you enter the main site – it’s the path less travelled) to see a truly beautiful crater!

Get The Iconic Shot at Tongariki

Easter Island Tongariki Girl

If you’ve seen one photo of Easter Island, it’s probably of Tongariki.

Home to 15 Moai, it is the largest ahu (the long plinth on which the Moai are stood) and is home to the heaviest Moai ever erected which weighs a whopping 150 tonnes! The Moai all face directly into the sunset during the Summer Solstice.

This is a great place to marvel in the wonder of these statues and get your new favourite Instagram picture ūüėČ

See Ancient Petroglyphs at Papa Vaka

Papa Vaka is home to the largest petroglyph (rock carving) on the island measuring 12 meters long. the petroglyphs depict the Rapa Nui’s concerns about the sea and the control of it’s resources and is a great way for archaeologists to learn more about the history of the island.

Feel Supernatural Energy at Te Pito Kura

Fallen Moai at Te Pito Kura
Easter Island Te Pito Kura Stone

At almost 10 meters tall (it’s ears are 2 meters long alone!) and weighing 80 tonnes, the Moai at this site (named “Paro”) is one of the largest on the island and legend states that this Moai was ordered by a widow in the memory of her late husband (suddenly a little plaque in a memorial garden in the UK doesn’t seem so special…).

Next to the Moai is a large stone which is thought to have been brought to the island by the founding king of the Rapa Nui people. The rock is said to have a magnetic and supernatural energy (due to the high iron content, the stone warms up quickly and causes a compass to malfunction).

Unfortunately, a few desperate people have ruined the fun for everyone else… visitors used to be able to put their hands on the stone to capture the supernatural energy; however, the stone is believed to increase fertility in women and it is now closed off after tourists began performing obscene acts… I’ll leave that one to your imagination.

Relax On the Beach At Anakena

Easter Island Anakena Beach

Finally, the last stop on the road trip is a relaxing one! Anakena is the largest beach on the island and is definitely worth a few hours of your time. With beautiful white sand, glistening blue warm sea, palm trees galore and, of course, a few Moai, it really is paradise!

It was late afternoon by the time we arrived and the beach was crowded in the February sunshine (especially compared to the other almost empty sites on our road trip)! If you are visiting in Summer months, try going early in the day to have the place to yourself before any tour buses arrive.

Day Three

Watch The Sunrise at Tongariki

Easter Island Tongariki

While you still have access to the rental car, get up early and witness the sunrise at Tongariki! Unfortunately I missed out on this activity due my American buddies having the keys to the car and not being interested in seeing another sunrise (I imagine they had seen plenty on their year long adventure)!

I tried to organise this trip for another morning and a taxi ride was seemingly more expensive than 24 hours of car rental – so definitely factor this into your plans!

Hike The Te Ara O Te Ao Trail

Te Ara O Te Ao Trail

There are two ways to witness the marvel that is the Rano Kau volcano… The first would be to drive (either in a rental car, taxi or on an organise tour with lovely air-conditioning), the other would be to hike the Te Ara O Te Ao trail which is the same route used 150 years ago to reach the ceremonial village of Orongo (at the top of the volcano rim).

I obviously opted for the harder option… forgetting that it was February and the heat was reaching Summer highs.

Despite the ridiculous levels of sweat and a stare-off with a particularly aggressive cow, it was a beautiful hike. From seaside scenery, small gardens, various viewpoints and a cave, there’s plenty to see along the way and you definitely get a greater appreciation for the island than if you were to hop in a car!

Marvel In The Volcano Views at Rano Kau

Easter Island Rano Kau

After a 2(-ish) hour hike, the first view of Rano Kau from the lookout is spectacular. While the whole Island is beautiful, without a doubt, this is the most impressive natural landscape on the Island.

The 200 meter high crater walls protect the plants that live within the volcano and stores the humidity which allows for the growth and conservation of endemic plant species – like a giant natural greenhouse!

The owner of the hostel I was staying in advised that I should walk the entire rim of the volcano (as you aren’t able to walk the whole way round, this would involve turning left and until the furthest point and then coming all the way back on yourself to reach the look out again and then head right towards Orongo and then coming back on yourself again to reach the path home). Given the threat of dehydration, I decided to skip the left hand side and continue my walk right toward Orongo.

Learn About The Bird Man Ceremony of Orongo

Orongo Houses

Ont he volcano edge, you will find the town of Orongo, a town which was only inhabited before the annual Bird Man ceremony.

Up until the 19th Century, men would hike the Te Ara O Te Ao trail before descending the 300 metre cliff to swim to Motu Nui (an islet nearby) in search of the first manutara bird egg of the season. The first man to retrieve the egg and return it safely to the mainland would be the ruler of the island for the next year! With the extremely high death risk in participating in the ceremony, you’d have to be a very power hungry chap to partake!

There is a great mini museum as you enter Orongo which explains the history of the ceremony and also reminds you of the greedy nature of the British – the only Maui from this Orongo is now residing in the British Museum in London (and I am still yet to see it)!

See The Caves at Ana Kai Tangata

Ana Kai TangataÔĽŅ Caves

While walking back down from the volcano, I stopped off at Ana Kai Tangata to check out the caves. If you are feeling more adventurous/more energetic than I was, you can climb down stairs which have been carved into the cliff and enter the cave

Dinner At Te Moai Sunset

Easter Island Sunset

After a very active day, I decided to treat myself to dinner at Te Moai Sunset which is far pricier than my favourite lunch spot (Club Sandwich) on the main street.

While the food is lovely, the main attraction is the view over Ahu Tahai at sunset. I arrived fairly early for the sunset, so spent some time beforehand lapping up the sun and sounds of the ocean while reading a book – Island life is blissful!

Stargazing

When the sun has set, there’s still plenty to see if you look up! Being on an island with very little light pollution means the stargazing is absolutely incredible. There’s no need to take a fancy tour to enjoy the stars, I simply sat on the porch of my hotel room!

Day Five

Have a Lay In & Enjoy Island Life

Wild Horses on Easter Island

Finally after the intense humidity of the prior few days, the rain came! I used the rain as an excuse to have a lie-in and enjoy island life in the morning – a necessity when staying on such a beautiful island! I won’t lie, I spent most of my time on the Island singing the Moana soundtrack to myself..

Don’t worry, the rain won’t dampen your fun – despite the strange looks from the locals, I still strolled into town wearing a little summer dress as it was still so warm!

Explore The Sebastian Englert Museum

If you want a better understanding of the Rapa Nui culture and the history of the Moai, this is the place to go! I found this museum so fascinating, and particularly enjoyed the boards which showed different historians and archaeologists views and opinions on the Moai – I love a good mystery!

Don’t worry if you’re not a museum lover, this one is small, compact and will keep you entertained throughout!

Take a Boat / Snorkelling Tour

Motu Nui Islet

In the late afternoon, I intended to take a boat trip out to the Motu Nui islet (where the Bird Man ceremony took place) to try some snorkelling.

My hostel manager recommended that I go with his friend who was leading a tour group at 4pm and that I would definitely be back in time to watch the traditional dance that evening…

Let’s just say that “Easter Island time” is definitely a thing and the boat journey didn’t start until well after 5pm. if you want to take a boat/snorkelling tour, book with a reputable agency on the harbour/main street!

Watch a Traditional Dance (Ballet Kari Kari)

The Ballet Kari Kari is a traditional dance ceremony which is held a few days a week to tell the story of the Rapa Nui people to tourists.

I couldn’t tell if this was going to be a genuinely cultural experience or a bit of a tourist trap but I never got to find out due to the late running of my boat trip – if you do go and see it, let me know how it was!

Day Four

Visit the “Inca Wall” at Vinapu

Easter Island Vinapu

With it being my last day on the Island, I wanted see the final few archaeological sites. I took a stroll into town and an extraordinarily helpful girl working in one of the tourist agencies made all of my plans spring into motion without the need to hire a car again!

First stop was a quick cab ride to Vinapu, an area that is home to stone work and carving techniques which do not exist in any other part of Polynesia. Instead, the wall is reminiscent of the techniques used by the Inca culture throughout South America, giving rise to theories about the origins of the population of the island.

There are a few Moai remains in this area too, including the remains of the only erect female Moai statue (the other is placed inside the Sebastian Englert Museum).

Explore The Cave Of Bananas At Ana Te Pahu

Easter Island Ana Te Pahu

My afternoon was spent on a guided tour crossing off the final items on my Easter Island wish-list. While guided tours may seem pricey and will give you less freedom than hiring a car, I highly recommend taking at least one quick tour while you are on the Island. With all of the mystery that shrouds Easter Island, there isn’t anything more interesting than discussing it with a local tour guide. I had a particularly lovely guide who wanted to practice his English with me (don’t blame me if you find a guide with an Essex accent…).

Our first stop was Ana Te Pahu which is made up of over 7 kilometres of underground chambers.

Just before the cave entrance is a beautiful lush green area where bananas and avocados are grown (hence the nickname “Cave of Bananas”). The cave itself was used as house many years ago and our tour guide told us plenty of stories about the former residents!

My favourite story was about the Rapa Nui people’s very strict rules against Incest (which is understandable really…) but at the end of the 19th Century, the population of the island had dipped to an all time low of only 111 people. So when you start tracing back through the generations, more or less everyone was related to each other…Therefore, couples in obviously incest relationships would hide here avoiding punishment.

Learn About 7 Young Explorers at Ahu Akivi

Easter Island Aku Akivi

Ahu Akivi is home to 7 Moai who are thought to represent 7 young explorers who were sent to explore the island before the arrival of the colonizers.

Just like all of the other Moai structures, Ahu Akivi is centered astronomically, this time facing directly into the sunset during equinoxes. This means that they are the only erected Moai which look out to sea on the whole island. Out of all of the Moai structures, I think that this one has the prettiest back-drop!

Puna Pau

Easter Island Puna Pau Topknots
View From Puna Pau

Many of the Moai heads on the island have red cylinders to represent the “topknot” hairstyles of the time. That’s right, they aren’t hats, the Rapa Nui people were not too dissimilar to the hipsters you see walking around Shoreditch in London.

Puna Pau is the quarry used to source the rock for the topknots. While this is facinating, it also offers great views of the island!

Say Goodbye to The Incredible Island!

Easter Island Airport

It’s safe to say that I LOVED my time on Easter Island and I would fly back in a heart beat if I could. Even though I had another 2.5 months of travelling ahead of me, there was something incredibly sad about leaving somewhere so special that few travellers get to visit. But don’t worry – the cuteness of the airport softens the blow!

Want to know how I spent the rest of my time in South America?
Read my entire 3 month South America itinerary here.

Alternatives

If some of the above activities don’t take your fancy, don’t worry, here’s some alternatives for you!

Scuba Dive With Underwater Moai

There are a few places that you can go diving on the Island, however the most popular spot includes seeing a submerged Maoi statue! Unfortunately, the statue isn’t authentic and instead it’s a replica that was made for a TV show – that aside, it makes for some seriously impressive photos! a PADI scuba diving licence is required to visit this site.

Explore the Island On Horseback

If you’re struggling to walk long distances in the intense heat or are bored of sitting in a car, the horseback riding is a great alternative – especially if you want to see areas that are off limits to cars.

Two popular routes are climbing to the top of Terevaka (the highest peak on Easter Island) or a tour near Anakena beach of the central coast where there are no roads.

Of course, chose a reputable tour guide and ensure that the horses are well cared for at all times.

Hike To The Tallest Peak For 360 ¬į Views

Terevaka is the highest peak on Easter Island and reaching the summit rewards you with 360 ¬į views – the downside is that it can only be reached by foot or on horseback. I fully intended on doing this hike after my trip to the top of Rano Kau – but it’s safe to say that the heat got the better of me! I imagine that standing at the top of this peak (which isn’t a high priority for most visitors to the island) would be the ultimate isolated bliss.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post (however affiliate links may be used which mean I earn commissions on purchases at no extra cost to you) and all thoughts are my own.

Danielle1

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Tresco - Isles of Scilly - Beach View

On our recent trip to the Isles of Scilly, we stayed on Tresco Island and it was the perfect little retreat!

Tresco is the second largest of the islands and the only island to be privately owned. The island has a little something for everyone and really shouldn’t be missed on your trip to the Isles of Scilly. Here’s just a sample of what you could get up to…

Get Lost In Tresco Abbey Gardens

Tresco - Isles of Scilly - Abbey Gardens Views

Tresco - Isles of Scilly - Abbey Gardens Friends

It goes without saying that you should visit Tresco Abbey Gardens during your time on the island.

These renowned gardens are absolutely stunning and will feel like you‚Äôve been transported to a tropical paradise ‚Äst I refused to believe that we were only a matter of miles from Cornwall. I mean, where else in the UK do you get palm trees? In fact, the gardens are home to more than 20,000 exotic plants (many of which can not be found elsewhere in the UK).

Make sure that you have time to wander. You will want to get lost in the maze of colours and smells. Make sure you take every little hidden path and walkway ‚Äď everywhere is so beautiful that you won‚Äôt want to miss a thing!

Also keep your eyes open for the golden pheasant! They are like a normal pheasant’s flashier, more beautiful big sister.

Tresco Abbey Gardens is also home to the Valhalla collection which is a colourful, interesting display of figurines salvaged from local shipwrecks.

Explore Cromwell’s Castle

Tresco - Isles of Scilly - Cromwells Castle Beach

I don‚Äôt think I really need to reiterate on my blog how much I love castles (If you’re new here ‚Äď I blimmin‚Äô love them), so naturally, my only request for the trip was to visit Cromwell’s Castle!

We actually visited twice as the first visit was on a very foggy afternoon and the photos simply weren’t up to scratch #bloggerproblems.

On a sunny day, the coastal walk to the castle is really gorgeous and definitely worth your time – however it’s not paved, so be careful or choose a more main-land route on a rainy day!

RELATED: Want to see more of my castle adventures? Click here! 

Climb to King Charles’ Castle

Tresco - Isles of Scilly - King Charles Cromwells CastleTresco - Isles of Scilly - Charles Castle

Right by Cromwell’s Castle is another ancient ruin, King Charles’ Castle. A steep climb to the castle will give you great views across the island as well as a chance to explore! It was ridiculously windy at the time of our visit, so we chose not to spend long on the top of the hill!

Old Blockhouse

Tresco - Isles of Scilly - Old Block House

On the subject of ruins and old fortifications, we finally have the Old Blockhouse which arguably, of the three fortifications, has the best views – although the island is so picturesque that the view from every angle is great and I’ll probably change my mind on which is the “best” in 5 minutes.

Eat ALL the Food!

Tresco - Isles of Scilly - Burger New Inn

Tresco has some great options for food – while unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to sample every restaurant’s offerings, my favourite of the food we did try was brunch in the Flying Boat Bar & Bistro.

Luckily, I have a friend who lives on the island who would recommend the New Inn for high-end pub food (his particular favourite is the burger pictured above), the Flying Boat Bar & Bistro for brunch and the Ruin Beach Cafe for pizzas.

Wander To Your Heart’s Content

Tresco - Isles of Scilly - Cute House

I think I’ve mentioned enough times that the island is extremely picturesque, but this lends itself to the fact that it is a great place to walk and explore. On our first day on the island, our friend and new found guide took us on a long walk of the island and I think the words “it’s so pretty” escaped all of our mouths one too many times.

If you want more pace, you can hire bikes to travel around the island. Cars are not allowed on the island so that is not an option!

Catch The Sunset

Tresco - Isles of Scilly - Sunset Orange

Tresco - Isles of Scilly - Sunset Girl

I know that I already raved about the sunset in my “Why You Should Visit The Isles of Scilly” blog post – but they really deserve to be mentioned twice. The above photos are taken from the veranda of the Flying Boat Cottages overlooking Bryher Island.

Get Adventurous

Tresco - Isles of Scilly - Landscape

If you are feeling adventurous, Tresco Sailing Club offer the chance for you to borrow a bike, windsurf or kayak – something we didn’t do because I can barely walk in a straight line successfully let alone windsurf… Let’s just say I wouldn’t have made it home with all of my limbs in tact.

Just Relax

Tresco - Isles of Scilly - Flying Boat Cottages

When you’re on an island this beautiful, sometimes the best thing to do is just sit back, relax and enjoy the view. Especially when you’re staying in top-notch accommodation like we were in the¬†Flying Boat Cottages. Lie-ins and naps featured in abundance in our schedule!

To aid your relaxation even further, check out the Flying Boat Club Spa or head to one of the many beaches to stroll along the sand.

Even just writing about the island made me feel relaxed! Have you ever been? What was your favourite thing to do?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
Danielle1

 

 

 

TRESCO ISLAND ITINERARY - A complete guide to Tresco Island in the Isles of Scilly (UK). A perfect picturesque beach filled island with plenty to do and see!


Atlas Mountains

You may have read my previous post on ‚ÄúSahara Desert FAQs‚ÄĚ, but I thought I would take the time to properly detail both the road trip through the Atlas Mountains and the actual night in the desert in separate posts. This first one being about the trip through the Atlas Mountains!

We had taken a trip to Ouzoud Waterfall the day beforehand, so we had caught a glimpse of the incredible scenery that Morocco offers but it was nothing in comparison to our road-trip through the Atlas Mountains.

The trip obviously starts within the city of Marrakech. How people have the courage to drive in the city is beyond me, bikes and cars zoom left, right and centre continuously and I’m really surprised that we never saw any accidents!

RELATED: Find out how to spend two days in the city of Marrakech here!

Rolling Green Hills

Atlas Mountains Valleys

Atlas Mountains Green Hills

Atlas Mountains Girl Scenery

As we headed out of the city, things got VERY green, something that I wasn‚Äôt entirely expecting from Morocco which in my head is depicted by warm colours and desert terrain. I‚Äôm not sure if we saw Morocco in a particularly ‚Äúgreen‚ÄĚ season given the fact we visited in March and they will have had rainfall over the Winter period, but seriously, it was beautiful.

If you‚Äôre thinking of taking this trip, don‚Äôt worry about catching photos through the minibus‚Äô windows, our driver made sure to stop at all of the most picturesque spots ‚Äď but sometimes I just couldn‚Äôt help myself and had to take a few shots through the window (despite the glare) ‚Äď just look at that valley running through the mountains!

Rocky Terrain

Atlas Mountains Rock Roads

Slowly, the bright green landscape transformed into rocky plant-less terrain.

This is where the roads started to get really crazy (just look at those photos)!¬†If you‚Äôre afraid of heights, there may be moments that you peak out of the window an recoil in horror at the tight road bend around the mountain and sheer drop ‚Äď I can only remember this happening¬† a handful of times during the 8 hour journey ‚Äď nothing in comparison to mountainous regions in Europe!

We were greeted with nearly 30 degrees heat, yet at all times we could see the snowy peaks of the Atlas Mountains ‚Äď very surreal and almost taunting when you are THAT hot.

Ait-Ben Haddou

Ait Ben Haddou

Ait Ben Haddou Gate

Ait Ben Haddou Painter

As the Atlas Mountains began to flatten and a more desert-style terrain was in sight, we were told our first lengthy stop was coming up ‚Äď Ait-Ben Haddou.

Ait-Ben Haddou is a small town which houses 8 families (a total of 40 people) who live without electricity and make a 3 km walk for water. While the town is pretty spectacular in itself, it has been famed more recently for being a top filming spot ‚Äď you may have seen the location in Gladiator, Indiana Jones, Game of Thrones and many more! I was actually playing monopoly with Charlie and Amy¬†recently and was very excited by the fact I could buy somewhere I‚Äôd been in real life ha!

Of course, as with most towns/stops on organised tour routes, the experience was very geared towards tourists. We were handed over to a local guide who took us on an hour tour of the area and asked for a small fee (the tour is not included in the overall price of the trip). The cost was a few dirham per person and we were more than happy to support a local man.

Ait-Ben Haddou is HOT. I felt uncomfortable for much of the tour as it felt like you couldn’t escape the heat at all.

Lunch

The tour of Ait-Ben Haddou finished with lunch at a local restaurant with a view of the main town. It was a really beautiful location and was thankfully a lot cooler!

One thing to note about taking tours in Morocco is that the restaurants you stop at usually have a limited menu for tour groups and largely, they offer the same at each. After a day travelling to Ouzoud waterfall and two days travelling to and from the Sahara Desert, I was really starting to get bored of the offerings provided ‚Äď that‚Äôs not to say they weren‚Äôt tasty however!

Dishes were priced at 100 dirhams per person (around £9 at the time) which is pricey for Moroccan standards.

Sandy Canyons

Atlas Mountains Sand Canyons

Atlas Mountains Scenery

Next up was terrain unlike anything I’ve ever seen before – huge sandy canyons as far as the eye could see. There was a big part of me that just wanted to run down the sloping hills… then I remembered how un-graceful I am… it wouldn’t end well.

Slowly things are starting to look more and more like a desert… eeek!

The Desert

Sahara Desert

And with that, we were off. The rest of the journey saw us creep closer and closer to terrain that represented the desert. Of course, a few more photo/toilet stops were made along the way (the total journey was around 8 hours after all).

Panic struck as our minibus broke down at the last stop before the desert (where we all stocked up on water for the night) but luckily the driver fixed the problem and it didn’t set us back too far!

Unfortunately, it did mean we were only just reaching the desert by sunset, rather than being in the middle of the desert relaxing to watch it properly ‚Äď but more on that in my next post about the night in the desert!

Have you ever been through the Atlas Mountains? What was your favourite part?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
Danielle1

ROAD TRIP THROUGH THE ATLAS MOUNTAINS ON THE WAY TO THE SAHARA DESERT


Why Burg Eltz?

You may have noticed from my Instagram¬†account that I recently took a trip to Cologne, Germany. I’d be lying if I said that the idea of this trip didn’t come about because of a castle… we all know how much I love castles!

Burg Eltz first came onto my radar through the amazing Jacob’s Instagram account. A few of my favourite shots of the castle taken by him are here, here and here.

After seeing those pictures, I made it my mission to convince my boyfriend that a trip to Cologne was necessary and I succeeded, mwahahaha!

How to Get to Burg Eltz 

After a very slow start to our second day in Cologne (apparently we walked a little bit too far the day beforehand and then struggled to get out of bed… after one day in stupid footwear, I already had blisters #rookie), we set off to the nearest train station in search of my beloved castle!

You can get the train from K√∂ln Central Station, but we opted to begin our journey at K√∂ln S√ľd¬†which was only an 8 minute walk from our hotel and is on route (perfect!).

The journey from K√∂ln S√ľd to Koblenz takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes, you’ll then be faced with a 20 to 30 minute wait at Koblenz station (snack time, duh) before jumping on a train to Moselkern for around 30 minutes.

I probably should have started this story by saying that this region of Germany was experiencing a freak heat-wave and it was 35 degrees for the majority of our journey. THIRTY-FIVE BLOODY DEGREES.

So I’m praising the lord (and I’m not even religious) that German trains have fab air-conditioning because our train to Koblenz was delayed by an hour!

After arriving in Moselkern an hour later than expected, and it being midday at this point (thus even hotter), the fun began!

Luckily, the 90 minute hike is very well sign-posted as big wooden arrows engraved with the¬†words “Burg Eltz” line the path¬†(just don’t worry as much as I did. I think I got a bit annoying constantly screeching “WE HAVEN’T SEEN A SIGN IN A WHILE” when the only option was to keep going forwards since the last sign… Soz Callum, castles and heat make me cray cray).

The hike starts in the town of Moselkern which is really charming, even the train station is a cute building. The walk from the town centre to the edge of the woods was the hardest part in the intense heat as there was zero shade.

Once you get to the woods, things get easier in the heat (although it does start getting steeper) and it gets pretty damn beautiful! My favourite spot was by the stream just before you start the uphill accent, we sat here for a while, escaping the direct sunlight and attempting (read: failing) to skim stones on the water.

Then BAMN, you catch sight of the castle and suddenly the hiking, the blisters and the potential sun stroke all feel worth it!

What To Do When You Get There

Well… We first decided to get drinks, sit in the cafe and sweat profusely for a while. After acclimatising, we headed straight into the main gift shop area to get our tickets into the castle (with much excitement).

You can’t always guarantee when the next English-speaking tour will be taking place. It appears that they only take place if there is enough interest for them, we were lucky that even though we arrived late, there were enough people wanting an English Tour.

The tour was informative and took us through some lovely parts of the inside of the castle (unfortunately, no photos are allowed). The castle remains in it’s natural state, it hasn’t ever been destroyed and the same family have always owned the castle – perfect!

The only downside is that the tour is a bit short, I would have loved to see a bit more inside the castle!

Afterwards, we took our time exploring the grounds and capturing some photos – the location and castle couldn’t be more picture perfect.

And then it was time for the journey home! The 90 minute hike in slightly cooler temperatures and going downhill was much easier and luckily there were no train delays.

All in all, through the sweat and blisters, it was actually a really perfect day. I finally got to visit the castle of my Instagram dreams!

Have you ever visited? Do you recommend any other “off-the-beaten track” castles?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Danielle1


Let’s not beat around the bush, you’ve all heard¬†about Hallstatt by now. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t see Hallstatt proudly displayed on my Instagram feed, and rightfully so. If you’re a lover of pretty places, you need to head here.

So, after convincing my two lovely travel pals that we needed to take a trip to Hallstatt during our recent ventures to Salzburg, I was then left wondering “what actually is there to do in Hallstatt?!”

RELATED:¬†Before you can explore Hallstatt, you’ll need to know how ¬†to get there! Read my article on accessing Hallstatt from Salzburg to find it all out!¬†

 Hallstatt Viewing Platform

As soon as we arrived in Hallstatt, we rushed over to the Hallstatt Viewing Platform. This probably wasn’t our greatest idea given that it was a seriously overcast day and later on the skies brightened up considerably. But hey-ho, you can’t stop a girl who’s obsessed with mountain views. I was getting on that funicular no matter what the weather.

I can only imagine what the view would have been like on a sunny day. If you’ve read my post about visiting Lake Bled on the foggiest day known to man, you probably think that I am cursed with bad luck when visiting the current Instagram-favourite locations – I think you’re right! I need to learn my lesson and give myself more than one day to explore these locations!

Hallstatt Salt Mines

If you’re in Hallstatt for more than a few hours, after visiting the viewing platform, you should also visit the salt mines! Unfortunately we were only in Hallstatt for a few hours (we ended up having to take a guided tour), so we didn’t have time to make a visit, but I’ve heard great things about it! We didn’t mind too much as 2 out of 3 of us had recently visited the salt mines in Krakow¬†(which are great and I would highly recommend)!

Explore The Old Town

Once we came down from the view point, we headed¬†to the main town centre to see where all the action lies. As with any “old town”, you can bet your bottom dollar that it is going to be stupidly beautiful. Hallstatt Old Town is filled with cute colourful decorated buildings and I could have easily spent more time just strolling around (and taking lots of pictures).

The Catholic Church, Cemetery & The Bone Church (Hallstatt Ossuary) 

¬†One of the most interesting things in Hallstatt is “The Bone Church”. Hallstatt isn’t a huge place and burial plots are sparse. The Bone Church dates back to the 12th Century and skulls would be removed from existing graves once the grave was needed for a new burial. Skulls were then painted according to the family name and also a number of personality traits. Over 600 artistically painted skulls now lie on display. The majority of the skulls are from the 18th Century but there are a few from the 20th Century.

The Bone Church is a really unique and interesting experience. The Catholic Church next door and the adjoining cemetery are also worth a visit – both very beautiful.

RELATED: If you can’t get to Hallstatt, Kutna Hora in the Czech Republic has an Ossuray too! Much larger and much more ornate, you can read all about it here!

Various Other Churches

After exploring the Bone Church, we explored the surrounding area poking our heads into various other churches and cute little shops. Everything is just so god damn cute!

Take in the pretty views

After racing around all the different sights, we spent the last portion of our short time in Hallstatt just enjoying the views. This is a ridiculously beautiful town and you’d be silly not to just spend time enjoying it’s natural beauty.

Now, for the things we didn’t get to do:

  • Waldbachstrub Waterfall – How on earth did I not know that a waterfall existed in Hallstatt?!¬†I would have been straight over to visit if i knew about it!
  • Take a boat trip across the lake
  • Experience the views from the “Five Fingers”
  • Dachstein hiking world
  • Dachstein¬†Ice Caves

Have you ever been to Hallstatt? Did you enjoy it? Is there anything else  you would add to my list?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Danielle1


Recently myself and a friend hopped over to Ohrid (Macedonia) for a relaxing long weekend break. If you want somewhere budget-friendly, relaxing, full of history and culture, good weather (potentially!) and friendly faces galore, Ohrid is the place for you.

So, if you’re thinking about heading to Ohrid for a few days, here’s how you should spend them!

St Jovan Kaneo 

Macedonia Ohrid St. Jovan Kaneo

IMG_0749 v2You’ve all seen the pictures. This is probably THE most photographed area of Ohrid. Whilst the interior of the monastery wasn’t the most impressive, this is the perfect place to relax and get picture perfect shots. The view of the lake is second to none.

Tsar Samuel’s Fortress¬†

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If you know me, you will know that I love any kind of castle/fortification. So I was VERY excited to learn that Ohrid had it’s very own fortress and even more excited that we had a view of it from our bedroom window. This is the highest point of the city, so expect more incredible views!

Enjoy The Lake Views 

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Macedonia Ohrid Lake Boat

As if I haven’t already spoken about “the view” enough already! Ohrid’s main selling point is the fact that it is so god damn beautiful. I uttered the words “it’s so pretty” probably once every 25 minutes for the entire trip. Everywhere you turn will be picturesque (even the drive from the airport to the city!). But of course, the most picturesque area is on the lake-front.

RELATED: Want to know a bit more about this beautiful lake? Take a read of my “Top Things You Should Know Before Visiting Ohrid”¬†

Church of Saint Sofia 

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Saint Sofia is one of the larges churches in Ohrid and it was the first that we visited. This was our first experience of the Macedonian church frescoes. We were so impressed by how well the frescoes were preserved in places, little did we know that there were even more impressive frescoes in smaller churches around the city.

Boat Trip to Saint Naum 

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If you have a spare day, I would definitely recommend taking a boat trip over to Saint Naum. Make sure that you walk down to the pier the day before¬†your trip¬†to check what times the boats leave the next day. Everywhere on the internet told us that the boat left at 10am daily and when we turned up, the sign said the boat had departed at 9am and we had to wait until the 1.45pm departure – it’s safe to say that we were annoyed! The boat ride across would be amazing in sunny weather – we forced ourselves to sit on the top deck and watch the view even in the blistering wind.

Over at Saint Naum, you can visit the monastery, do a spot of shopping, grab a bite to eat and¬†hire a rowing boat around the springs (pictured above). Oh… and try to avoid the peacocks, according to a sign, they “WILL HARM YOUR CHILDREN”.

Enjoy the Lake Walks 

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One of my favourite areas of Ohrid is the lake-front, particularly a little wooden walkway which follows the cliff edge. Such blue clear water! I kept saying to my friend that it would have been the perfect place for a wedding!

PlaoŇ°nik¬†

Macedonia Ohrid Wall

Macedonia Ohrid Plaoshnik

PlaoŇ°nik is an archelogical site and holy place in Ohrid which is currently undergoing some extensive restoration works. Our favourite part was an ancient ornate hole in the ground…. we thought it was a bath tub, turns out it was a baptistery… but anyway definite #BathTubGoals, maybe minus the¬†swastikas¬†though….

Ancient Theatre of Ohrid 

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Move over Rome, Ohrid’s amphitheatre is the place to be! The stage is still used for events throughout the year although I can’t imagine Justin Beiber playing there anytime soon… With a view of the stage and the lake, who can complain (apart from maybe about the stone hard seats…).

National Workshop For Handmade Paper 

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I shouldn’t be allowed into a¬†cute little shop filled with handmade paper and prints. Especially when the lady working there is lovely and demonstrates how the paper is made and the prints are created. I was strong willed to not walk away with arms filled with prints.

The Icon Gallery of Ohrid

Time to get artsy! Head over to the Icon Gallery of Ohrid for a fascinating look into art throughout the centuries in Macedonia. I’d be lying if I said that art galleries normally hold my interest, I’d rather be exploring the real world, but this one was actually interesting, especially as I visited with an History of Art¬†student (as you can imagine, I made much less intelligent comments about the paintings).

Church of Our Lady Perivlepta 

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Without a doubt, the Church of Our Lady Perivlepta is home to the most impressive frescoes I’ve ever laid eyes on.¬†There’s a lot of construction work happening at the moment but around all of the scaffolding, you’ll be able to see plenty of incredibly well preserved frescoes – I don’t think there’s one tiny segment of the wall that’s not covered!

Walk the City Walls 

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Around ¬†the edge of the city there’s some impressive city walls. And if you’ve read my blog post about my day trip to York¬†, you’ll know how much I bloody love a historical city wall!

Shop in the City Centre

The city centre is where you should head if you want to do some shopping. Whilst I didn’t see many shops that took my interest, some of the restaurants are great!

RELATED: Want to know how much all of this will cost you? Go and read my article “Budgeting For Ohrid”¬†

¬† Things we didn’t get to do but sound great!¬†

  • National Park Galicica – unfortunately the national park can only be accessed by car. Something we should have researched before we arrived in Ohrid! If you fancy exploring the national park for a day, think about hiring a car or a driver for the day – Macedonia is super cheap after all!
  • National Ohrid Museum – we heard great things but simply weren’t in the “museum mood” and instead chose to explore by the lake and eat good food in our few spare moments!
  • Bay of the Bones Museum – We should have visited the museum on our way to the Monastery of Saint Naum but the weather was bad, the lake was too choppy and the boat couldn’t stop at the museum :-(.
  • Vevchani Springs – This is actually something that I didn’t see advertised at all while we were in Ohrid. When I got home and was browsing my internet favourites, I stumbled across this TripAdvisor link¬†which I’d obviously saved months ago and completely forgotten about – it looks gorgeous and is about a 30 minute drive from Ohrid.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Danielle1


Macedonia Ohrid Plaoshnik

Macedonia Ohrid Wall

Macedonia Ohrid St. Jovan Kaneo

Macedonia Ohrid Lake Boat

I recently popped over to Macedonia (Ohrid to be specific) and I bloody loved it (warning: there is an over-use of the word “bloody” through the entirety of this post. Ohrid really is just bloody brilliant). So, here’s a few things you should know about visiting Ohrid, Macedonia.

01. It’s absolutely bloody beautiful.

02. The people are unbelievably friendly. We stayed at Villa Kale and the owners were a lovely husband and wife duo. When we handed our passports over on arrival, they immediately noticed that myself and my friend were born in 1994, the same year as their daughter. From that point on, we were treated like family, given tips and tricks about the area and always asked if we were okay. It was like having a second mum and dad.

03. Want to meet more friendly faces? Head over to The Gladiator Restaurant, another family run establishment. Food in Macedonia is cheap and The Gladiator is probably one of the most expensive places to eat in Ohrid, however it’s definitely worth it if you’re not sticking to an uber-strict budget. Arrive early evening to ensure you get one of the 3 balcony tables so that you can watch the sunset over the lake! My friend is a vegetarian and whilst there was nothing on the menu that would be suitable for her, the owner was excited and created a platter of yummy vegetarian goods for her.

04. One more friendly face – Marta Pejoska – we stumbled across Marta’s gorgeous little jewellery studio on our walk back to the hotel one evening and we couldn’t be happier with our discovery! Marta makes incredible filigree jewellery and is SO lovely – we could have chatted to her for hours. Make sure you check out her studio!

05.You can’t exchange money to Macedonian Denar or vice versa outside of Macedonia. You should bring some Euros to the country to help you get by (larger items such as long taxi journeys and hotels can usually be paid in Euros) but then you should head to an ATM as soon as possible to get some Denar!

06. It’s super cheap! I mean really really really cheap. Read my post “Budgeting for Ohrid, Macedonia” to find out how much money you might need for your trip!

07. Visiting in “off-season” won’t mean you are visiting a ghost town. I read so many articles¬†that tried to scare me from visiting outside of June to September. We visited in mid-May and it was great! Relaxed, sunny (most of the time!) and not overcrowded – perfect! If you’re looking for a party however, you’re probably better off visiting in summer!

08. Macedonia is rich in Greek, Roman and Ottoman history, so there is plenty to see and do in Ohrid! An ancient fortress, a Roman amphitheatre, a gorgeous national park, hundreds of churches – what’s not to love!

09. Lake Ohrid is supposedly the oldest and deepest lake in Europe (estimated 4 million years old and 940ft deep)! It was given UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979, so you know it’s going to be a beautiful place!

10.Something that I think makes Macedonia that little bit more beautiful is that it is the only country to get independence from Yugoslavia without shedding a single drop of blood. It remained entirely peaceful throughout the wars of the early 1990s and gained independence in 1991.

11. Macedonians are relaxed, don’t expect that bus or boat to be at the scheduled time. Or maybe expect the scheduled time to move unexpectedly at the last minute. Maybe ¬†I experienced this more because I wasn’t visiting in peak-season, but oh well, it makes for the adventure!

12. Ask your hotel/hostel how much a taxi journey from A to B should be. Taxi drivers are more likely to try and rip-off a tourist. Make sure you know how much a journey should cost and barter your way down to that price!

13. You should go. You will absolutely love it.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Danielle1


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If there’s one question I had before visiting Macedonia, it was “how much money do I need?”. The travel blogging world seems fairly void of any articles on Macedonia and the main consensus, from the few articles I found, was that “it’s cheap” – but how cheap exactly?!

So here I am, setting¬†out exactly how much money I spent in Macedonia. Maybe I’ll turn this into a “thing” with my future travels!

Currency

The currency is Macedonian Denar but Euros are commonly accepted for larger items such as long taxi drives and hotel costs.

You are unable to exchange money to Denar outside of Macedonia. You will therefore need to use banks in the country to withdraw your cash. We used an ATM in the city centre of Ohrid and had absolutely no problems.

Careful budgeting is therefore key to ensure you don’t have tonnes of excess cash to spare at the end of your trip (unless you want an excuse to buy ALL the chocolate in the airport on the way home)!

My Trip

  • Destination: Ohrid
  • Total number of days: 4
  • Total number of nights: 3
  • Date: May 2016 (off-season)
  • People travelling: 2 (some costs such as taxi journeys are therefore divided by 2).
  • Travelling style:¬†Mid-range. We chose to stay in a nice hotel and have a really relaxing trip.

So, How Much Did I Spend?! 

For my entire trip to Ohrid, I spent the equivalent of £108.80. This is including accommodation, food, drinks, sightseeing and transport. Pre-arrival costs such as flights are not included as these vary so much!

To see a full breakdown of my costs in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet format, click HERE!

Accommodation –¬†¬£43.86 – 40%

Now accommodation is a tricky one, we could have picked somewhere cheaper to stay. We also could have picked somewhere more expensive to stay.

We were also travelling in off-season. Most articles that I have read about Ohrid suggest visiting in June – September, as we were travelling in May, we could have experienced slightly lower prices than the average traveller. The prices for August 2016 on booking.com¬†only seem marginally more expensive than what we paid for May – so you might be in luck if you’re travelling in Summer!

We chose to stay at Villa Kale¬†and we couldn’t be happier with our choice. The family that own the hotel were helpful beyond words and always made sure that we were happy and satisfied.

There also appear to be some really great hostel choices on HostelWorld with some well-reviewed options having dorm rooms from as little as £4.24 per night in summer 2016 Рperfect for backpackers!

Food/Drink –¬†¬£42.44 -39%

We were in Ohrid for a relaxing time and to do a lot of exploring. As we visited in off-peak season, there wasn’t too much night-life going on (although according to our hotel staff, this changes in summer), therefore not much of this total is for alcohol.

We could have spent less on food but we decided to have a three course meal with wine and beer at one of Ohrid’s more expensive restaurants (Gladiator) and it was definitely worth it! We ate on the balcony overlooking the lake at sunset – perfect!

Sightseeing & Activities –¬†¬£14.75 – 14%

Considering we were in Ohrid with the primary focus of sightseeing, I am pleasantly surprised at how low this total is! ¬†A lot of Ohrid’s sights are monasteries, galleries and small things to see and do. The entry fee for each was usually around 100 denar (around ¬£1.25).

The most expensive activity was a 600 denar half-day boat trip to St Naum and back. Definitely worth doing if you’re in the area!

I was tempted to do a tandem paragliding flight over the lake which would have set me back 59 EUR. We ended up not doing the flight but I’m sure¬†it would have been worth the cost!

Transport –¬†¬£7.75 – 7%

The only item included in this section is the taxi ride from Ohrid airport to the hotel and the return journey at the end of our trip. Our hotel organised this taxi journey for us and it was 10 EUR each way (the above total is made up of 2 journeys divided by 2 people at the exchange rate for May 2016).

Ohrid is well connected to other Macedonian cities and buses are available to various locations such as Skopje, Bitola, Prespa etc. The prices we saw for these journeys looked very reasonable – be sure to haggle any taxi prices, our hotel staff made us aware that taxi drivers might try to rip off tourists.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
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Danielle1