Tag Archives: hiking

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Wildspitze, Austria, July 2016

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An attempt to climb Wildspitze, which didn’t work out. Taking the goals aside, one of the most gorgeous places I had a chance to see and hike. There’s something almost unearthly about glaciers. They’re beautiful, dangerous, serene… And I’m absolutely … Continue reading

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Bosnia and Herzegovina, June 2016

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A short break in Bosnia. Sarajevo, Mostar and of course the gorgeous mountains, including the Maglic peak, tallest mountain of Bosnia. Gorgeous sceneries in a country where you can still find yourself in the middle of mine field. The memory … Continue reading

Backpacking on Cabo Verde

I must admit, when I bought the flying ticket to Praia, Santiago, I didn’t think very deeply about it. I knew I wanted to get to Fogo island, as there’s a volcano, not too different from Teide. After I got the flying ticket, I started to search for information and realized, there is little if some. Which is actually the reason I’m writing this down. Maybe it’ll help somebody who has decided to do similar trip.

First of all, Cabo Verde is a tourist destination, but majority of the tourists will go to Sal or Boa Vista, if they feel adventurous, they’ll go to Santo Antao. If you decide to go to Santiago, you’re pretty much out of tourist buzz. That brings good things and bad things. You certainly get some authenticity, but you don’t get by using other language than Portuguese or Creole. Forget about English.

One of the first things you might notice is the lack of tourist guides and maps. There’s only one chapter of the Lonely planet guide to West Africa. Luckily enough they sell pdfs of the sole chapters individually, so one doesn’t have to spend unnecessary money on the whole book. The chapter has 30 pages and it’s nearly not enough. Though, you’ll get some tips out of there, considering what to see etc.

Transport between the islands

Most of the islands have airport, exception being Brava and Santo Antao. Santiago and Sal have international ones, so that might be your entry point to the country. Both of them issue visa on arrival. If you want to do little bit of island jumping, there are two options: boat and plane. I met quite a few people who went by boat to Fogo, all of them claiming that they go back by plane. Plane is not that much more expensive, if you book directly on TACV website. If you book in advance, you end up with something like 100 euro for a return trip Santiago – Fogo. According to locals, not a bad price. Boat was 70 euro. Some travel Cabo Verde pages will claim that you might have troubles with booking and offer to book for you for 10 euros. Skip that, at least with Safari and paying online by Visa, I had no problem.

Maps

I had trouble getting maps for any place in Cabo Verde.  You can get decent hiking maps for Santiago in a souvenir store in Plateau in Praia (close to the end of the main pedestrian road, the end with lyceum), for Fogo, the maps are available in Zebra travel in Sao Felipe . The towns… well, people rarely use street names there, city maps won’t get you anywhere. Deal with it, it’s hard only during the first day.

Accommodation

Santiago is not prepared for tourists. Yes they do have quite a few fancy hotels, occupied mostly during volcanologists conferences, but the budget options are scarce and probably will be.  I found my accommodation in Praia through AirBnB, Brothers & Barros Hostel, newly opened hostel with nicely clean rooms for 20 euro/night. If you happen to get the tip from here, say hi to Danilson, the owner, from Jana from Czech republic. The hostel is not located on Plateau, but you can get there easily by public bus (they have quite convenient system of buses in Praia, once you figure which number goes where).  Plus, you cannot get more authentic than this. Don’t forget to get a fish on a street corner grill. It’s the best one I had, and costs only 2 euros.

The situation on Fogo is slightly better, still there are not many places to choose from. I went for Pensao Las Vegas as it was the cheapest option (20 euro/night), but if the next time, I’d go for Casa Beiramar, slighly more pricey, but worth it (read further). Both are located in the old town, so you’re pretty much in the center of everything, close to the markets etc.

Hiking and sightseeing on Santiago

If you decide to hike on Santiago, you’ll likely be the only hiker on the path. There are two hiking areas, national park Serra Malagueta and Rui Vaz, above Sao Domingues. In Serra Malagueta, you can even pick up very non- accurate map, but the guys from the local visitor’s center will show you the way and let you pay couple of ECV for the entrance. Not a big deal, but you’ll have to guess big part of the hike. Luckily enough, it’s circular. But the surroundings are stunning. Area around Rui Vaz is also really nice. You can just get of the bus in Sao Domingues, hike up to Rui Vaz (road) and from there, go to Sao Jorge, where is a small botanical garden. It’s a stunning hike amongst beautiful rock formation, but check out WikiLoc (I marked the path there). There are few path markers, but don’t rely on them. The botanical garden is free.  You’ll be able to catch a bus in Sao Lorenzo, on the main road, otherwise taxi it is. Buses from praia cost about 3.5/4.5 euro one way.

Serra Malagueta, Santiago

Serra Malagueta, Santiago

There’s also a nice walk from Cidade Velha to Fortaleza above the city. All in all, Cidade Velha is worth visiting, it takes just 15 minutes from Praia to get there. But bear in mind, the bus doesn’t go from the main ‘bus station’ in Sucupira market, but from Terra Branca. The bus costs approximately 1 euro.

Hiking around Fogo

Fogo is easily a hikers paradise. But, there’s but… In November 2014, the volcano exploded and buried two villages, which served often as a base camp for hikers, under the lava. Sad for locals, sad for hikers. The prices for a simple hike therefore rocketed up because of the cost of transport. You sure can rent a car there, but at 80 euros/day you just don’t want too. Hiring a driver for the whole day will cost you the same. Besides he know where to go and knows  how to drive on those stony roads. If you want to arrange a trip, your bet is Casa Beiramar, Mustafa, the owner is a climber/mountainer and loves Fogo. He can help you arrange a hike or climb anywhere on the island. He’s got some accomodation up in Cha de Caildeiras… well, rebuilding now, so even the trip to the peak will be doable with him again. He arranged a drive around the island for me, with a stop  for a hike amongst the coffee plantations in Moisteros, 80 euros for the whole day. Transport to Caldeiras, without the facilities can be also arranged there. Without guide, 50 euros.

Sulphur, Fogo

Sulphur, Fogo

Needless to say, it’s not cheap, but if you don’t know your way around (you most likely don’t as the inaccuracies are big), it might easily be an only option. I did the hike above the new explosion, which was memorable, but little bit short. A recommendable hike might be Bandeiras, hiking along the rim of the big caldera.  Sadly at the current prices, it’s 140 euros, which for me alone was way over my budget.

Safety

It’s sub-saharian Africa and you should act accordingly. While on Fogo, every crime rises attention, in Praia, petty crime is arising. I wouldn’t go around alone at night, but otherwise the country felt reasonably safe.

Pricing

All in all the general cost of things

  • flight between the islands 100 euros
  • Accomodation 20 euro/night cheapest
  • taxi praia intl – city center 10 eur
  • public transport in Praia 40 cents/ride
  • Local transport half the Santiago island for 5 euros
  • moderate restaurant 6 euro/dinner
  • cup of coffee around 1 euro

 

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Cabo Verde, April 2015

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After visiting all of the Canary islands, the next stop was quite natural, some archipelago belonging to Macaronesia. Turns out it’s quite easy to go to Cabo Verde, off coast of Senegal. I’ve chosen two islands, Santiago and Fogo. It … Continue reading

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El Hierro, October 2014

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People used to believe there is an end of the world somewhere. Up till certain time, it was thought to be on El Hierro, the westernmost island of the Canary archipelago. It’s a love at the first sight. Wild nature, … Continue reading

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Gran Canaria, May 2014

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Keeping up with my plan of visiting all the islands of the archipelago this year, I ended up spending a long weekend on Gran Canaria. The ‘tourist mecca’ of Canary islands. Interwoven with roads but still hiding beautiful places for … Continue reading

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La Gomera, March 2014

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No matter where you live, you always keep telling to yourself that the places close by are ‘to be visited later’. And then you move away, realizing how much you’ve missed and suddenly those places are hard to visit. So … Continue reading

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Tenerife 2013

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So, for a while, there wasn’t any picture from Tenerife. I’ve decided to assemble the pictures from the last year, of places I liked and mostly hiked. Some of the pictures were published here as single shots, so this is … Continue reading

Hiking Nevado de Toluca

So when I was planning the trip to Mexico, I knew I had three free days by the end of my stay. I wanted to do some hiking, but Mexico suffers from one thing – everything is far away. There are two hiking options just outside Mexico city though – Itzaccihuatl, also offered on Tuesdays by some travel company and Nevado de Toluca. While Itza cannot be hiked all the way up, since it’s snow covered and you need equipment and preferably more than two days, Nevado de Toluca can be hiked in one day. But there’s a lot to take into account.

First of all, the weather changes drastically over the day. While morning is amazingly blue sky, in the afternoon, the clouds come and fill the caldera and it rains. So the earliest you leave from Mexico city, the better. Apparently what one can do is go by bus to Toluca and then take a taxi up there. I was the lucky person who didn’t have to do any of there, so I simply won’t comment on how doable/expensive it is. But bear in mind, from Toluca, it takes a lots of time, since the road up to the mountain is everything but in a good condition.

The entrance to the park, according to Lonely planet, is 20 pesos per vehicle, apparently they started to charge per person. Lonely planet also suggest there’s a camping ground in the national park, I suppose they mentioned the place close to the entrance to the park. From there, it’d take still quite a long time to hike up. Another option is sleeping directly at the spot by the end of the road. We took this option, sleeping in the car… it’s 100 pesos per night and be aware of the fact that you’re some 4.2 km above the sea level, in another words, it get’s chilly .. actually it get’s below freezing, so really good sleeping bag of heating in the car are in order. They have very basic bathrooms available there (no showers, only sink&toilet).

Hiking up in the morning is a good idea. You can either try to go around the whole caldera (takes a loooot of time, not because of distance, but because it’s essentially climbing on rocks once you reach the rim) or you can reach any of two peaks. If you take the path going to the right, when you face the lakes, you’ll get to slightly smaller Pico del Aquila (4,640 m), if you go around the Laguna de la Luna, to the left, you’ll go up Pico de Fraile (4,680 m). We took the right path, since we weren’t sure which way is doable and there was some group on the path on the right. It doesn’t take long to reach the top, but prepare for sliding sandy surface and rocks and non-negligible altitude. And it’s probably not good for people with strong vertigo.

The clouds started to come early in the afternoon, so we decided to go down the same path as we climbed up. It’s perfectly doable. So all in all, as one day trip, this would be a killer, with overnight, it was a very nice trip.

Nevado de Toluca

Teide hike for sunrise

Okay, here is the deal. I love mountains. The older I get the more I like them. I’m not sure when did this transition happen but it did. I’m lucky enough to live close to 3.718 m peak – Pico del Teide, which is one of the bigest volcanos on the Earth (third after Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea). I finally managed to climb it with couple of friends at the beginning of April. We decided to star overnight in Refugio Altavista and hike up early in the morning to see the sunrise.

As for the hike, it’s easier than I thought it’d be. The road to Montaña Blanca is easy and from there to Refugio, it’s just little bit steeper, and the altitude eventually starts to call for your attention, but we’re reached Refugio surprisingly quickly. The only downfall of Refugio is that the water is not good for drinking and the beds are singing their annoying song through the whole night. The second part of the hike is not bad either. We had full moon so no need for flashlights, except for couple of parts in shade. We even had snow, which is quite impressive here.  If you keep slow and continuous pace, it takes an hour and half to get on top.

And then… you’re there. On the highest peak around and all you see is wonderfully colored sky and islands peeking from the clouds. The new day is born in a blink of an eye and everything is suddenly colored in the warm tones of orange. And you stand there, overlooking the world and feeling free. Feels like you can just spread your arms and fly… yes maybe that’s why I like mountains.

The spine of Tenerife just moments before the sunrise

Shadow of Teide, cast on the ocean

Shadow of Teide, cast on the ocean