Categorie archief: How to be an adventurer?

How to run a successful campaign for the Fjallraven Polar

‘300 kilometers of Arctic wilderness. More than 100 highly skilled sled dogs and a group of ordinary people just like you.’ This is how the Swedish outdoor brand Fjallraven describes the ultimate winter adventure of which you can win one of the twenty spots. All you have to do is get the most votes after a month of campaigining. If you want to participate in this contest, here are a few tips of how to run a successful campaign.

What is the Fjallraven Polar

The Fjallraven Polar is a 300 kilometer dogsled journey that runs from Norwegian and Swedish Lapland taking place in April. The journey starts in Signaldalen, passes an ancient Sami traderoute before ending in Vakkarajarvi. The contest takes place every year in November to give ‘ordinary people’ the chance to have the adventure of a lifetime. There are 20 spots to be divided. Ten of them go to people with the most votes of their /group. The other ten are chosen by a jury, based on your campaign.

A few tips on how to run a successful campaign

In 2016 I ran my own campaign to win a spot in the Fjallraven Polar. After fourteen days of campaigning I found myself in first place. Unfortunately there is a cruel thing in these competitions you can read in my blogpost ‘Why I entered the Fjallraven Polar contest.’ If you’re still thinking of campaigning, here are a few tips that will help you be successfull.

Make a great application video

Reality will show that most of your votes will NOT be gained by a great application video. However having a great application (video + introduction text) will raise your chances of being picked by the Fjallraven jury in case you don’t finish first place. Make your video personal and original. Tell people why you really want to join the race.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor fjallraven polar

Start as early as possible

There is no use of entrying the competition after two weeks, since there is little chance you will be able on catching up on votes on this short notice. Start from day one. No, wait. Start one month in advance to prepare your campaign. Make sure people are ready to vote from day one. Being in the leader position during the first few days might be ideal to gain extra votes from people just looking at the first few applications.

Share your application on social media

Being popular on social media is a huge plus when applying for the Fjallraven Polar. Make sure you share your application of Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, etc. Ask your friends to vote and share. Your best chances would be to have some people help you promote your application and have a ‘promotion team’.

Exchange votes

Even if you have 10k of followers on social media, chances are big that won’t be enough to win. You will need more votes. How? Easy! Every applicant needs votes, right? Contact them via Facebook and ask them to exhange votes. People can  vote more than once in this contest, so you can easily ask EVERYONE to vote for you in return for your vote. Don’t forget there are lots of Facebook groups to exhange votes as well.

Get published

If you would be representing your country in the Fjallraven Polar, that would be news! Contact local newspapers to write about your application. Web articles are a great way to promote your link as well.

Get out on the streets

Every minute you’re not sitting behind your laptop looking for votes, you should be on the streets campaigning. Nowadays everyone has a smartphone in his pocket, so chances are big that when you reach out to people and tell them your story they will vote for you. Make it easier by making flyers. Don’t print hundreds of flyers (please, for the environmental sake!), but print one for every member of your promotion team. Add a QR code (you can create one for free here), leading to your application page, making it easy for them. Visit places with lots of crowds and where people are waiting (time to vote!). I went campaigning on soccer matches, bus stations and train stations during peak hours).

Create Allies!

This might well be the most important tip of all and has helped several people in gaining that first place. You’re competitors are people in your region/group. Not all of the participants of the contest. Check out and look for strong people in other voting groups to create an ally with. In total there are ten groups for ten places, so you should create an ally of ten people. People who vote for you can vote for the other nine members as well. And you get votes in return of all over the world!

Start your campaign at polar.fjallraven.com

Do you have more tips on campaigning? Feel free to share them! 

 

 

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Hoe bereid je je voor op een ghost hunt?

Haunted Rooms

Tijdens onze rondreis doorheen de UK namen we deel aan een echte ghost hunt en verbleven we een nacht in ‘Britain’s most haunted castle’ om eindelijk een antwoord te krijgen op de eeuwenoude vraag: ‘Bestaan geesten echt?’ Jammer genoeg kregen we geen echt sluitend antwoord hierop. Zijn dergelijke ghost hunts dan bedrog? Dat geloven we dan weer niet.

We sloten ons aan bij een professionele groep ghost hunters die hier in Liverpool waren samen gekomen in het Newsham Park Hospital, een verlaten instelling dat voordien werd gebruikt als een weeshuis. Met ruimte voor 400 wezen en later 400 patienten, is het gebouw het best te omschrijven als een vervallen doolhof aan gangen (ondermeer de beruchte ‘naughty boys corridor’ waar kinderen werden gestraft), slaapzalen, trappenhallen met een anti-zelfmoordomheining en met een mortuarium. Roestige, kapotte bedden en rolstoelen lagen verspreid over de grond. Terwijl we de wacht hielden in het oude gebouw veranderde onze sceptische houding in twijfels gezien we toch wel enkele vreemde zaken konden waarnemen. Bewegende voorwerpen, succesvolle ‘table tipping’ sessies, … Geloven we in geesten nu? Nee, nog niet. Maar je zal ons ook niet horen zeggen dat het allemaal fake is. Deelnemen aan een professionele ghost hunt is geen oplichterij als je het ons vraagt. Voor hen is het een manier om aan voldoende geld te geraken om grote verlaten gebouwen af te huren voor een nacht zodat ze op onderzoek kunnen gaan hopend op paranormale activiteit. Iets wat financieel onmogelijk is als er niet heel wat mensen zoals wij mee willen doen aan de ervaring, hopend op een ervaring met het paranormale.

Ghost hunting. Niet enkel iets voor Halloween.

Je zou denken dat georganiseerde ghost hunts gewoon een angstaanjagende manier zijn om Halloween door te brengen, maar nee. Ghost hunts zijn een echt fenomeen in de UK en er zijn tal van locaties met paranormale activiteit verspreid over het hele land. Ghost hunters geloven echt in het paranormale (of zijn verdomd goede acteurs!). Ok, toegegeven, soms zijn ze een beetje dramatisch en naief wanneer een bepaalde activiteit perfect verklaarbaar is door een windvlaag door een gebroken raam of wat stof dat door de lucht dwarrelt. Maar toch…

Voor de zekerheid gingen we checken of deze ‘paranormale activiteit’ die we meemaakten wel echt was. Dit door een nacht te spenderen in een kasteel dat bekend staat als ‘Most haunted castle in Britain’: Chillingham Castle. We boekten onszelf een kamer die op het internet al een aantal keer werd beschreven als ‘haunted’ en besloten de ervaring op ons af te laten komen. Opnieuw hoorden we vreemde geluiden ’s nachts in het kasteel (terwijl het kasteel verlaten was) en een bizar telefoontje (terwijl er geen ontvangst was). Onze ervaring is achteraf gezien niets meer dan een prachtig verhaal om te vertellen gezien we er geen verklaring voor hebben. De dag dat Linsay en ik vertrokken uit Chillingham Castle, beloofden we elkaar dat we ooit nog zouden terugkeren voor een ghost hunt.

Als je geïnteresseerd bent om zelf een ghost hunt bij te wonen, dan zijn hier enkele zaken waarmee je rekening moet houden.

Locatie, locatie, locatie

Paranormale activiteit komt voor in heel wat locaties, maar verlaten gebouwen met wat geschiedenis zijn vaak een garantie op succes. Van verloren zieltjes tot slachtoffers van moord, van speelse geesten tot demonen. Dring geen gebouwen zomaar binnen, maar vraag toestemming bij de eigenaars om er een nacht de wacht te mogen houden. In ‘De beste locaties voor een ghosthunt‘ geven we een overzicht van de beste plaatsen in de UK.

Ga niet alleen

Breng enkele vrienden mee. Niet alleen zijn ze een extra paar ogen en oren, maar het is een stuk veiliger gezien je een oud, verlaten gebouw binnengaat, die structureel onveilig kan zijn. Je weet nooit of je hulp zal nodig hebben. Overweeg zeker ook de ervaring te delen met een team die bepaalde activiteit kan bevestigen. Vertel andere mensen ook waar je heen gaat, en indien mogelijk neem een gsm mee.

Wees voorbereid

Een keer je hebt beslist over welke locatie je hebt gekozen waar je een ghost hunt wil organiseren, is het verstandig om de locatie overdag al eens te gaan verkennen. Maak een kaart met de gevaarlijke locaties en maak een lijstje met plaatsen waar je zeker op onderzoek wil gaan. Doe ook wat research over de locatie. Misschien vind je al wat informatie over de type geesten die je er kan aantreffen. Wanneer werden ze gespot? En waar? Kun je ze horen of niet?

Praat met de geesten alsof het levende mensen zijn

Vergeet niet dat deze geesten ooit ook mensen waren en dat je je op hun gebied bevindt. Stel jezelf voor en vraag toestemming om foto’s te nemen en je op hun grond te begeven. Stel hen voor om op de foto te staan. Als ze antwoorden op je verzoeken, bedank hen. Idem als je achteraf het pand verlaat.

Volg je instinct wanneer je foto’s neemt.

Als je gevoeld je vertelt om een foto te nemen in een bepaalde richting, neem ze. Neem foto’s van over je schouder en neem er zoveel je kan. Hoe meer foto’s je hebt, hoe groter de kans dat je iets vreemds vastlegt.

Zorg dat je over een goede uitrusting beschikt

Als je paranormale activiteit waarneemt, dan zal je wellicht er bewijs van willen. Hiervoor heb je een speciale uitrusting nodig. Een digitale camera en een voice recorder is standaard. Zorg dat je batterijen voldoende zijn opgeladen en dat je reserve bij de hand hebt. Pen en papier zijn handig voor het maken van notities van bepaalde activiteit zoals het plots zakken van de temperatuur, knipperende lichten en onverklaarbare geluiden.

Een ander belangrijk deel van de uitrusting – en vaak gebruikt door professionele ghost hunters – is een EMF meter. Geesten kunnen worden waargenomen door hun elektromagnetisch veld en met deze meter meet je zelfs de zwakste signalen. De meeste ghost hunters nemen ook een thermometer, een laser grid, bewegingsdetector en ghost box mee om de paranormale activiteit vast te leggen.

Stel veel vragen

Het is aan te raden om heel wat vragen te stellen gericht aan de geesten. ‘Wat is je naam?’ is beter dan ‘Is er iemand aanwezig?’.

Wil je je volgende Halloween op een andere manier doorbrengen dan enkel maar naar Paranormal Activity of Poltergeist te kijken? Waarom neem je niet deel aan een ghost hunt of vigil in een van de locaties verspreid over de UK? Een dergelijk evenement kan worden geboekt op hauntedrooms.co.uk. Ze bieden het gehele jaar door ghost hunts aan. De beste locaties vind je in onze blogpost ‘De beste locaties voor een ghost hunt in de UK’ 

How to prepare for a ghost hunt?

Haunted Rooms

Last year we participated in a real ghost hunt vigil and stayed at Britain’s most haunted castle to finally have an answer to the same old question: ‘Are ghosts for real?’ Unfortunately, it left us behind with only more doubts. Are these vigils a scam? We don’t believe so. With Halloween only a few days away, it’s time for a reflection.

We joined a professional group of ghost hunters in Liverpool to check out the Newsham Park Hospital, an abandoned asylum that formerly was used as an orphanage. With room for 400 orphans and later 400 patients, inside it is a truly decayed scene with the assembly hall, a chilling mortuary, a warren of corridors (the notorious ‘naughty boys corridor’ where children were punished), dormitories, nine psychiatric wards, winding staircases with anti-suicide grills and treatment rooms. Rusting broken beds and wheelchairs still lie scattered around. Spending a night keeping vigil turned our sceptic look at things into doubts as we did witness some strange behaviour in the building. Moving items, succesful table tipping sessions, … Do we believe in ghosts now? No, not yet, but we won’t be claiming it’s all fake either. Joining a professional ghost hunt or vigil is not a scam in our opinion. It’s a way for them to raise enough money to ‘rent’ an evening in a big haunted location they want to investigate. Something they could not do if it wasn’t for the many enthusiastics who want to experience a ghost encounter.

Ghost hunting. Not just on Halloween.

You would think these organized ghost hunts are just a creepy way of spending Halloween but no. Ghost hunts are a real phenomenon in the UK and there are dozens of haunted locations all over the country. Ghost hunters really do believe in paranormal activity (or they are really good actors!). Ok, sometimes they are overexited when some activity is perfectly explainable by a wind gust or airborne dust. But still…

We did check if these ghost appearances were fake by spending a night in Britains most haunted castle: Chillingham Castle. We booked a room which was claimed to be haunted and checked for ourselves. Again strange noises at night (while the castle was abandoned) and a bizarre phone call (while there was no reception) made our experience not much more than a story without explanation. We promised that day that we would come back again for another ghost hunt.

If you’re interested in having your own vigil, here are a few things you need to know:

  • Location, location, location

Ghosts can be found in pretty much every location. Allthough abandoned buildings with some history often do the trick to encounter some spirits.  From lost souls to murder victims, playful spirits to angry ones. Don’t trespass but get permission for keeping vigil. In ‘The best best locations for a ghost hunt‘ we discuss the best places to hold a vigil.

  • Don’t go alone

Bring some friends with you. They are not only an extra pair of eyes and ears but are a safer option since you’re exploring an old, secluded building that could be structurally unsafe. You never know if you need some help. You may also want to share the experience with a team and have other people there to verify any sightings. You should also tell other people where you are going, and if possible, take a mobile phone.

  • Be prepared

Once you have decided on the location, it is wise to explore first in daytime. Make a map of the hazardous places and pinpoint the spot(s) you want to investigate. Also do your research on the location. Find out as much as possible about the ghost(s) you may encounter. When do they appear? Where have they been spotted? Are they vocal?

  • Talk to the spirits like they are living people

Don’t forget these ghosts were people once too and you are on their property now. Introduce yourself and ask permission to take pictures and be on their property.  Invite them to be in your photos.  If they respond in any way to requests, thank them.  When you leave, thank them for having you.

  • Follow your instincts when taking photos

If you feel you need to take a picture in a certain direction, take it.  Take pictures behind you over your shoulder.  Take as many photos as you can. The more pictures you take the better chance you will have catching something strange.

  • Have proper equipment with you

If you experience paranormal activity, you’re going to want proof and that means having the right equipment for the job. A digital camera and voice recorder is standard stuff. Make sure the batteries are charged and you have spare ones with you. Pen and paper are also interesting for taking notes on anything abnormal such as changes in temperature, flickering lights and unexplained noises.

Another piece of equipment, widely used by professional ghost hunters, is an EMF metre. Spirits can be detected by interrupting or creating their own electromagnetic fields and EMF metres can detect extremely weak static, electric and magnetic fields. Most ghosthunters also take a thermometer, laser grid, motion detectors and ghost box with them for capturing anything paranormal.

  • Ask a lot of questions

It’s advisable to ask a lot of questions as if you know the ghosts are there. ‘What is your name?’, is better than, ‘Is there anyone there?’.

You want to spend your next Halloween not watching Paranormal Activity or Poltergeist? Why not keep vigil in one of Britains most haunted places? You can book one of the events on hauntedrooms.co.uk. They offer ghost hunts all year round. The best locations for a ghosthunts you can read in our blogpost ‘The best locations for a ghost hunt‘. 

How to train for a marathon?

Only six months after I had completed a Start to Run podcast, I was training for my very first marathon. Well… my first three actually. Since I would be in marathon shape, I could run as well three marathons in a few weeks, I thought. It was only one of the mistakes I made when I ran the marathon of Rome, Paris and London in five weeks time. 

Running a marathon is on many people’s bucketlist, but only few ever reach the finish

Marathons
Maratona di Roma

after a 42,195 kilometer run. I have to admit, it’s a demanding distance and training for it requires a lot of time and perseverance. But for those who have completed a half marathon several times and the challenge of it has disappeared, there is only one bigger goal in your running career: finishing a marathon.

Training

Your marathon training begins when you are able to run 21k without any difficulties. From that point, ten weeks before the start of your race, you switch to five runs a week. The following schedule is based on running a marathon under four hours.

Week 1 & 2

Day 1 – Run 1h20 slow pace

Day 2 – Interval training 10x 400m

Day 3 – Run 1h15 min

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Run 1h30

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – Run 2h

Week 3 & 4

Day 1 – Rest

Day 2 – Interval training 3000-2000-1000 with 800m slow pace run in between (2 sessions)

Day 3 – Run 1h

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Run 1h30

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – Run 2h

Week 5 

Day 1 – Rest

Day 2 – 8x 1000 meter

Day 3 – Run 1h30

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Run 30 min

Day 6 – Run 3h

Day 7 – Run 30 min

Week 6

Day 1 – Rest

Day 2 – Interval training 200 – 400 – 100 – 600 (4 sessions)

Day 3 – Run 1h

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Run 30 min

Day 6 – Run 1h30

Day 7 – Run 2h30 min

Week 7

Day 1 – Rest

Day 2 – Interval 10x 200m

Day 3 – Run 1h30 min

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – Run 30 min

Day 7 – Run 3h30

Week 8 

Day 1 – Rest

Day 2 – Run 45 min

Day 3 – Rest

Day 4 – Run 1h45 min

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – Run 30 min

Day 7 – Run 3h

Week 9

Day 1 – Run 1h20

Day 2 – Interval training 3000 – 2000 – 1000

Day 3 – Run 1h

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – Run 30 min

Day 7 – Run 2h15 min

Week 10

Day 1 – Rest

Day 2 – Run 45 min

Day 3 – Run 45 min

Day 4 – Rest

Day 5 – Rest

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – Marathon

Don’t forget! 

  • Keep strictly to your training schedule. Don’t run more to avoid fatigue in later
    Een marathon lopen is afzien, maar brengt eeuwige trots met zich mee
    Running a marathon is hard work, but is something to be proud of the rest of your life

    stages of your training

  • Running a half marathon without drinking or eating might be possible, but running a marathon without isn’t. The notorious ‘hitting the wall’ is something every marathon runner has heard about. It happens when your carbs reserves have run low (shortage of glycogene). You can avoid it by eating a carb rich diet the weeks before your race and replenish your energy level during the race.
  • Try out which foods work best for you during your training. Energy drinks and gels may be helpful to some, but cause stomach problems to others. Don’t eating anything on race day y’oure not used to.
  • Keep your own pace. Anyone who is used to running races has seen it before. The race has started and you’re being sucked into the mass, and before you know it, you run beyond your capacities. Make sure you follow your own schedule and check times often. Don’t run faster, even if you feel good.
  • Don’t skip resupplying posts. Not even in the beginning of the race.

DSC08986Extra tips

  • Choose a marathon that fits your desires. Do you love running in a city? Or do you prefer a run in a natural environment?
  • Set goals during your race. For example, when passing a famous landmark.
  • Don’t underestimate the consequences of a marathon on your stamina. Make sure you get plenty of rest afterwards.
  • Take the weather forecast into account.

 

Check out our e-guide ‘How to run a marathon in 40 weeks’

How to run a marathon in 40 weeks

How to plan the Great Glen Canoe trail?

Paddling the Scottish lochs on your own merits? Wildcamping and cooking your own

images
Fort William – Inverness

dinner along the way? It sounds like the ultimate Scottish adventure. And in a way, it kinda is!

The Great Glen Canoe Trail connects Fort William with Inverness up North with the aid of the Caledonian canal which connects lochs like Loch Oich, Loch Lochy and Loch Ness in one straight line. A route that allows 95 kilometers of paddling adventure! But how do you plan a canoe or kayak trip of this distance?

DSCF3148
Paddling a loaded canoe

Do I need a guide?

Depends on your sense of adventure. The Great Glen Canoe Trail is no easy paddling route for kayak and canoes, but never reaches the level where you need white water experience.  The degreee of difficulty is mainly determined by the open water of the lochs and the weather that has a great influence on it. Anyone wise enough to stay at shore when the weather is bad and has the patience to wait for better conditions to come, doesn’t need a guide per se. Even if you don’t have paddle experience beforehand. The first ten kilometers are spent on the Caledonian Canal, so you’ll have plenty of practice on your way. With this e-guide you can plan the full adventure on your own.

The best time for this canoe journey is during the summer months when the weather conditions are on their best (on a Scottish level that is). During bad conditions, it’s not uncommon to encounter waves up to three meters on the lochs. Remember, in these conditions it’s better to stay at shore and wait for better weather.

If you were considering to paddle the route in opposite direction, please reconsider. The wind most often is heading from the southwest, so the original route towards Inverness is ideal to have wind behind you. And believe me, wind direction is a key factor in having a great time during your journey.

Ok, I’m convinced! Where do I start planning? 

Trailblazer rest
Trailblazer rest

A canoe or kayak, paddles, life jackets, barrels… You will need a lot of gear to start your journey.  Your best option is to rent this in Banavie or Corpach, two villages near Fort William. They can offer you a transfer to Neptune’s Staircase, the location where most paddlers embark on their journey. However, there are a few things you shouldn’t forget before launching your vessel: register for a canoe license (free) at http://www.greatglencanoetrail.info and if you require access to facilities such as toilet or shower along the way, you can pay 10 pond for a key.

About the duration of your journey. This is entirely up to you. Fast paddlers may succeed in a 3 day attempt, while less experienced paddlers will need five days for the whole distance. Personally, I recommend doing the route in five days. Even though it’s perfectly doable to complete the trail in four days, you never know which weather to expect and how long you will have to look from shore at huge waves that would capsize your canoe.

I have my gear, but what to expect during this adventure? 

An unique experience. But besides that… tired arms caused by the daily efforts you will need to provide. Starting from Banavie, your first stretch will be a 10 kilometer paddle on the Caledonian Canal, meaning calm water. Ideal for adapting to your canoe and to warm up. During your trip to Inverness, you will encounter a number of locks. These, you can not pass on the water but you’ll have to do a portage. This means a number of actions to fulfill: mooring at the pontoon, unloading your canoe, getting your canoe out of the water and attach it to the trolley, walking a distance with your canoe and gear (possibly more than once before you have moved everything), getting your canoe in the water, loading your canoe and continue your journey. All by all a serious effort and not an easy task for most paddlers.

Portage om sluizen te vermijden
Portage to avoid locks

Loading your canoe is best done the same way everytime you do it. Make sure to have a solid system to make sure the balance is right. You may not have thought about it yet, but it’s most likely you will take a huge backpack with your belongings, a spare paddle, a trolley for the portages, and two barrels containing food and gear with you. Make sure everything is attached to your canoe. This way you avoid everything floating off when you capsize.

Study your map carefully every day before you start your stage and take the weather forecast into account. On the lochs you will have to choose a side and stick to it for the whole length. It is not advisable to cross the lochs halfway. So choose a side that is of advantage to you.

The Scottish lochs

Peddelen op 'open water'
Paddling ‘open water’

There is no doubt you chose the Great Glen Canoe trail because you wanted to paddle over the Scottish lochs. Don’t underestimate these as they are rated as open water because of their size. In different words, paddling is way harder because of the current and waves. You can compare with the sea. So always stay close to shore and never change sides halfway. Capsizing with you canoe on Loch Ness is not only because of the water temperatures not advisable.

Where do I sleep?

This adventure requires a tent. You can camp everywhere on the shores of the lochs, but is strongly suggested to use the provided trailblazer rests. These are spots alongside the trail where you have facilities and a fire pit to warm up every evening near a campfire. But don’t forget not to leave a trace.

Check out my gear list

canoe_trail
Great Glen Canoe Trail
map1
Detailled map of Day 1. Red dots mark the places where portage is required.

 

Purchase our Great Glen Canoe trail e-guide! 

Great Glen Canoe trail

An ultimate guide for epic adventures

Five years ago, I went on my first adventure: climbing the Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain. Nine months after that I stood on the summit of Mont Blanc and so far I’ve scaled more than ten mountains all over the world. Most recently, I paddled into some of the most remote fjords of Svalbard, encountered beluga whales and polar bears and sailed to the high North. Right now, I’m planning my next big adventure to learn how to scubadive in Belize.

You can do this stuff, too. I’m not a super athlete. I’ve never been that good at sports. In the first 25 years of my life, I didn’t even spend that much time outdoors. I never went backpacking growing up. I didn’t learn to ski until two years ago. By no means am I an expert on these things, but I can do them now, independently. This is to say that it’s never too late to learn something new.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Choose a destination

The destination facilitates the adventure. Go wherever your heart desires. Explore places that inspire you. It doesn’t have to be far. But there is no doubt that doing a hike in Scotland is easier than go on a paddling expedition in Svalbard.

That being said, if you really want an adventure (out of your comfort zone), then you’ll probably have to leave the crowded places behind. Try getting out there. Like way, way out there. You don’t necessarily have to leave the country or go very far, but adventure is an entirely different experience if you go where there are no people.

In 2014, my girlfriend and I did a 200 kilometer hike through the Alps, from Chamonix to Zermatt. Though the first three stages were similar to the famous and well-hiked Tour de Mont Blanc trail, our experience got better when we didn’t see people for days at a time. We saw mountain sceneries only rarely seen by other hikers.

The same can be said about my recent trip to Svalbard. While the area is definitely remote and takes some effort to reach, once you’re there, it’s not too difficult to venture out on your own and get the experience of being totally alone in one of the world’s most incredible environments. What makes that place particularly unique? 60 percent of the surface being glaciers that spill directly into the sea, impressive peaks all around and lots of wildlife. Everywhere you look, whales are breaching, taking in new air to breathe. Polar foxes and Svalbard reindeer will visit your camp every night, and you might even catch a glimp of the mighty polar bear. There are no roads outside the villages, so to move around the fjords, you must take a boat or do like I did and paddle. The experience is larger than life. As a result, it makes you feel incredibly small.

DSC01569

Choose an activity

In many ways, your activity will depend on your location. Scubadiving in Svalbard or Greenland might not be the best of ideas, but most of the times, your interest in a particular destination will go along with the activities you can do.

Any mountain range in the world will provide nearly endless opportunities for adventure, whether it’s climbing snowy slopes or steep ice and rock, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, or even paragliding. Rivers running through remote regions are best to be crossed by paddling. Or do you love rainforests and tropical waters, then why not scuba dive and see the underwater world?

DSCF3861

Do your research

Let’s say you have chosen your destination and activity. Now it’s time to start doing research to make sure your adventure stays safe.

When to go?

When is the best time to go on this adventure? Maybe you want to go a bit earlier or a bit later to avoid the crowds? But will the weather be stable enough?

Plan your route

Planning your route is a must if you want to explore a remote region. Buy some maps or look for an online map to figure out exactly where you want to go. There are some programs and apps that can help you with this.

Getting there and getting back

Transportation can sometimes be one of the hardest logistical challenges you will face while preparing your trip. Can you use public transportation, will you need to rent a car or are none of the options available? If the journey there will be extend over multiple days, will you need to sleep in places along the way? Can you stay in an Airbnb, mountain cabin or will you use your tent?

Planning your adventure can be quite challenging. When we traveled to Finland in 2015 we thought we were well prepared only to find out that none of the information on the internet was correct. After this I’ve started writing adventure e-guides to help everyone planning their trip. These adventure e-guides will provide all the information you need to plan your next adventure.

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Sort your gear

Going on a day hike will require less gear than going on a multiple day expedition. Still, making a list of all the gear you need and not bring too much is quite tricky. On my first expedition on the Kilimanjaro, I brough way too much food, so even though we had porters available, I still had too carry a heavy backpack. Carrying too much is a mistake everyone makes and making the perfect gear list is a process you will learn while going on adventures.

To get started, create a list organised by category. Your first category should be the Big Three (shelter, sleeping and kitchen), clothing, activity-specific items, electronics and miscellaneous. You can add the brand, weight and quantity to every item.

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Solve problems before you go

When going on an adventure, problems will arise. Some of them you could solve even before they occur. This can be as simple as creating a kit to make field repairs on your gear (patches for sleeping pads, cleaning kits for your cooking stove, duct tape to fix everything else) or packing backups in case a critical item totally fails.

Be flexible

Having an adventure means you sometimes have to be flexible. When my girlfriend and I are on an adventure, we also like to say that it’s not an adventure if everyhting goes as planned. Some things you have no control over. Bad weather, lost luggage on your way over or gear breakdown can be a good reason to change your original plans. Don’t feel disappointed if your adventure isn’t going as it should have. Most times, these are the best stories to share afterwards. Our best stories are when we had to come up with a whole different last stage during La Haute Route in the Alps, had to improvise on food while in the wilderness of Finland or when we didn’t had a place to stay and ended up in the house of our mountain guide and his friends in the Italian Alps.

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Adventure is out there

How to get high? Some advice on high altitude mountaineering

Your passport doesn’t have to say Reinhold Messner to have ambitions in high altitude mountaineering. These expeditions are no crazy feats performed by modern supermen. No, I’m no superman myself, but just a regular guy who had the ambition of climbing. Here’s some advice before you go on your first high altitude mountaineering expedition.

Danger: Acute Mountain Sickness

Participating a high altitude mountaineering expedition means I’ll be risking getting disorientated, being hypothermic, lose a toe or two or even worse, right? Not necessarily. The real threat of spending lots of time in thin air is Acute Mountain Sickness.

Symptoms

The higher you get, the less oxygen there is in the air. The effects of this range from:

  • Making any effort feel twice as hard.
  • Bad headaches.
  • Reduced appetite.
  • Interrupted sleep.

Right up to:

  • Loss of rational thought
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Fluid on the brains or lungs (known as cerebral and pulmonary oedemas respectively) which can result in death.

Your body can slowly adapt to the lack of oxygen but circumstances can limit the amount of time to do so and some people simply do not adapt well.

How to adapt to thin air? 

Some symptoms – like shortness of breath and a mild headache – are common but should pass. Here are a few tips on how to make sure these symptoms are not worsening.

  • Climb High, Sleep Low

A basic rule of thumb for climbing above 3,000-metres is to end each day no more than 300-metres higher than where you started and to take a day off for every 900m you ascend. It’s also best to climb a bit higher than the altitude you intend to stay. This accelerates the acclimatization process.

  • Train Hard

While suffering mountain sickness has nothing to do with your fitness level, training hard at sea level may train your heart and lungs train for altitude.

  • Go slow

No climber with a lack of fitness performs well on high altitude. Train hard at home and don’t be a macho when in the mountains. Mountaineering is not a race but it’s a marathon. Underexercise while climbing to avoid losing too much energy.

  • Drink a lot!

Drinking lots of water is one of the best ways to avoid mountain sickness. Cold water might not be your favorite thing when climbing, so drinking lots of tea is a good option. Avoid drinking alcohol since this is a diuretic.

In case it goes wrong

If symptoms are showing, you should be careful about proceeding your expedition. While having a headache might be caused by not being adjusted to thin air yet, you shouldn’t get higher up the mountain untill it has disappeared. If symptoms are persisting or worsening, you should descend immediately. In most cases, symptoms are disappearing when descending 300-600 meters.

In case of loss of rational thoughts and fluid on the brain and lungs, evacuation by descending the mountain should happen as fast as possible. Make sure you have an evacuation plan ready before this situation occurs.

Death Zone

The Death Zone basically is a term used for anything higher than 8000 meters. This is the zone where humans can’t survive for a long time because there is not enough air to breath. On top of Everest there is only 30% of the oxygen we normally breath at sea level. For this reason most people use oxygen bottles from this stage.

Camping at high altitude

Camping at high altitude is not like camping near a lake. The conditions high up on the mountain are quite tough and can be life-threatening if you are unexperienced.

  • Tent pegs are useless

If the ground is frozen solid, there is not much use of tent pegs, right? I don’t even carry them with me anymore when going on a mountain expedition. The alternative is to use rocks as a way to anchor your tent. Or use a snow anchor.

  • Get yourself a good sense of humor

Bad weather might get you tentbound for days or even weeks. Sitting in your small tent on a high altitude camp with your climbing partner on nearly four square meters is not quite comfortable. So be sure you’ve got yourself a good sense of humor to overcome the difficulties.

  • Wind

High winds are common, so when putting up your tent, be sure to choose a good spot. Make sure no wind can get under your tent, since this is how tents fly. If you’re camping on snow, you can build a wall.

  • Allow longer times for boiling water because of decreased air pressure

 

Do you have some more tips when going on a high altitude mountain expedition? Feel free to share them in the comments. 

 

How to see the Basking Shark?

 

The basking shark is the second largest fish in the ocean, after the whale shark. They have an average length of 6.7 – 8.8 meters. They have a torpedo-like body shape and  prefer to ‘bask’ in the upper layers of the water, which can give you quite a fright when all you see is the dorsal fin gliding through the sea.

They can be found in temperate seas the world over, including the Irish coastline

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Distribution map of Basking shark

 

When to see the basking shark in Ireland? 

It’s hard to say when the exact period is since there are always early and late sightings, but basically basking shark season in Ireland starts in April and runs through to early August. Peak of the season is mid May to mid June, giving fantastic opportunities to spot them.

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Ideal basking shark weather

Having calm weather after a period of sunny days in May or June are your best chances to spot the basking shark. When the seas are calm, it is easier to see the tell-tale dorsal fin breaking the water surface. Besides that, fine weather gives a boost to the phytoplankton production, which in turn increases the concentration of zooplankton at the water’s surface, attracting the sharks up to feed.

Where to see the basking sharks in Ireland?

Basking sharks live wherever there is an aggregation of the zooplankton they feed on and can occur anywhere around the Irish coastline during the spring and summer months. However, there are a few hotspots that will raise your chances. From the south coast of West Cork to the Western coastline in Kerry, the North West coast of Mayo, Sligo and Donegal (Malin Head).

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Basking shark in Ireland. Best hotspot: south of the Blasket Islands (Slea Head)

The best place in Ireland to see the basking shark however is near the Blaskets Islands on the tip of the Dingle Peninsula (Slea Head). Anywhere with a good view over a large expanse of water is suitable. Headlands, such as Slea Head, are ideal, as they give an expansive view of the open ocean. Basking sharks are often seen at the surface of the water, so bays and inlets with shallow water are an option as well. For this reason, the bay near Wine strand is a good spot as well.

How to see them? 

There are several options to see the basking shark. Since they venture very close to the shore and follow the aggregations of zooplankton it is possible to see them from the beach. Even better if you choose a watching site above sea level.

To improve your odds of spotting a basking shark, you can opt to join a eco-boat tour, starting in Dingle harbour. The most adventurous option however, is to get yourself a kayak and venture on the waters on your own.

Tips to spot the basking shark: 

Spotting a basking shark requires a lot of patience. Scan the water surface methodically  looking for tell-tale signs of shark activity — here are some things to look out for:

  • Flashes of sunlight: The black dorsal fin of the basking shark is very shiny when wet. On sunny days, this fin can work like a mirror.
  • Diving gannets: Diving gannets gather over shoals of fish they feed on. This type of fish often eat the same plankton that basking sharks are feeding on — so the birds are a good indirect indicator that there could be sharks around.
  • Tidal fronts: In places where warm water meets cooler water, a tidal front causes an oily slick of water off a headland or at the mouth of a bay. These fronts attract plankton, the basking shark often feeds on.

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Hoe boek je tickets voor de Transsiberian Express?

De Transsiberian Express is een treinreis van meer dan 9000 kilometer die wereldwijd faam geniet. Vanuit Moskou doorkruis je Rusland tot in Irkutsk en Vladivostok. Daarnaast zijn er ook twee internationale lijnen die leiden naar Peking (China) en Ulaanbataar (Mongolië).

Hoe boek je tickets?

Moskou – Vladivostok

Om tickets te boeken voor de Transsiberian Express die van Moskou naar Vladivostok reist, kun je makkelijk op voorhand tickets kopen. Als je wat meer vrijheid wil, kun je ter plaatse in Rusland naar het station gaan om een treinticket te kopen voor eender welke binnenlandse trein, dus ook de Transsiberian. Je hebt enkel je paspoort nodig. Dit is uiteraard de goedkoopste manier.

Om misverstanden en de taalbarrière te vermijden kun je echter beroep doen op een agentschap die alles voor je uitklaart en regelt. Dit is echt aan te raden als je geen Russisch spreekt.

Moskou – China of Mongolië

Wie treintickets wil kopen om van Rusland naar een Aziatisch land te reizen, kan dit enkel doen in Rusland zelf. Het alternatief is een reisagentschap contacteren die de tickets voor je bestelt.

Meer informatie over  de verschillende treinen, de vertrekdata en de prijzen vind je op deze website.

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Hoe plan je de West Highland Way?

Tijdens onze informatiesessies op de Fiets- en Wandelbeurs in Gent kregen we talloze vragen over het wandelen van de West Highland Way. Net daarom willen we nog even onze tips meedelen.

Wie de West Highland Way zelfstandig wil plannen kan onze praktische e-guide downloaden. Met deze gids krijg je een antwoord op al je vragen.

Is de West Highland Way iets voor mij? 

Zowel de afstand (155 kilometer), het eenvoudige terrein als de verschillende mogelijkheden om de tocht af te leggen zorgen ervoor dat de West Highland Way een trektocht is die iedereen kan bekoren. Of je nu een ervaren wandelaar bent of het de allereerste keer is dat je een meerdaagse tocht wil afleggen.

Hoe lang doe je over de West Highland Way? 

Dat hangt in feite af van hoe lang je het zelf wil. Sommigen kiezen ervoor om de tocht af te leggen in vijf dagen, andere in negen. De gemiddelde wandelaar doet er zo’n zeven dagen over. Hiermee houden we dan zelfs al rekening met reizigers die nog geen ervaring hebben met het wandelen van trektochten. De West Highland Way is immers een ideale introductie in de wandelwereld. 

Waar kun je overnachten? 

Voor wie het wat comfortabeler mag, is er tijdens deze Schotse trektocht de mogelijkheid om voortdurend in B&B of hostels te verblijven. Schotland is echter ook een van de weinige landen waar je mag wildkamperen, dus ook wie eerder op zoek is naar de wilderniservaring kan met zijn tent de tocht afleggen.

Welke periode is het best voor de West Highland Way?

Verrassend genoeg raden we de zomermaanden juli en augustus af. Waarom? De voornaamste reden zijn de midges, een vervelende muggensoort die je wandelvakantie kan ver****en. Onderschat deze muggen niet. Ze zijn niet vergelijkbaar met de soort die we hier kennen. Een andere reden kan zijn omdat de zomermaanden vaak iets natter zijn. Hoewel regen bijna onvermijdbaar is wanneer je naar Schotland trekt, kun je uiteraard altijd de kansen in je voordeel vergroten.

Wie meer info wil omtrent het plannen van de West Highland Way kan ons altijd contacteren of onze praktische e-guide downloaden

Van plan om de beklimming van de Ben Nevis of de Great Glen Canoe toe te voegen aan je reis door Schotland? Onze andere e-guides vind je hier

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