Bougainville is a small group of islands north of the Solomon Islands that form an autonomous region within the country of Papua New Guinea. The region has a massively intriguing wildlife, people and history. It is a unique location comparable to very little else on our planet. Tourism has only recently slowly started to develop here, but thanks to a chance encounter in the Philippines, I got the opportunity to visit Bougainville earlier this year.
So, you like wild camping, desert dune bashing, wildlife spotting, desolate white sandy beaches with pristine blue water and are put off by crowds of tourists? Then Oman should definitely be on your bucket list. We packed some basic camping equipment and booked a flight to Oman last November. Being one of the least populated countries in the world and a wild camping allowed policy, this looked like a very promising destination. Also, a 30° C average daytime temperature made the decision to go very easy.
Last autumn we met up with our good friends of Croatia Open Land to go for a scouting trip in the north & central part of Croatia. Most people heard about the beauty of Croatia’s mediteranian coast line, but when you venture inland, this country becomes even more amazing! The mountains are vast and desolate, and posess an unspoiled beauty that became hard to find in Europe. The landscape is extremely diverse and changes from one beautiful vista into another. This area is one of the last true wildernesses in middle & south Europe and fortunately big parts of it are conserved as National Parks now. To be able to get to the best spots you need to cover some distance and a 4×4 is the most practical way to do it. It gets you to all the cool hikes, camping spots and places to do some serious wildlife spotting.
While preparing to guide an adventure/overland trip to Croatia in October with our good friends in Croatia, we were also invited to hunt roebuck and wild boar on their hunting grounds. Hunting in Croatia is a way of live, people hunt for food, not for sports or as a hobby. As our hunting guide explained, they work all year round to take care of the animals and keep them healthy. Especially during the winter time animals are given extra food like hay, corn, and salt. We were very impressed with the biodiversity in the Croatian woods. Also the abundance of wildlife cannot be compared to the densely populated Benelux area that we live in.
This trip we headed out to a lesser visited area of Australia, the Northern Territories is the least populated region. Just the way we like it. Cattle-stations, gigantic Mango Tree plantations and a lot of space. it’s also aboriginal country. Our plan was to hire a 4×4 vehicle with a rooftop tent and go camping in national parks. We rented the most reliable and best known expedition vehicle in the world: a 1994 Toyota Landcruiser V8 4500cc. Australia is the most 4×4 friendly country in the world. Everybody drives a fully equipped off-road vehicle. As the distances between villages can easily be a few 100 kilometers everybody carries at least 2 extra tyres and basic survival equipment.
Binoculars are essential for wildlife observation, as it is nearly impossible to approach wild animals in their habitat without being spotted. Animals often have much better senses than humans and they will hear, smell & see you from miles away. It’s a good idea not to interfere with their natural routines. For example Roe Deer are very sensitive to any human disturbance often leaving their habitat and sometimes abandoning their hidden fawns. That is why forest rangers tell visitors to stay on paths and yell at you when your dog is running loose…
Featured image: early morning safari on the Kinabatangan river.
After reading Redmond O’Hanlon ‘s book “Into the heart of Borneo”, my next destination was decided. Jungles, rivers and mountains covered in dense Ditocarp rainforest where leeches and insectes crawl the forestfloors…
Early morning view from a mountaintop near Mount Kinabalu. Birdwatching is a pain, you have to get up around 5 am, but the reward is there! Binoculars are your best friend.
So we were off to the Maldives for the second time in a little more than a year. This time we chose februari, and went deeper south hoping to catch a glimpse of our oceans gentle giants…Yes, close encounters with Manta’s and Whale Sharks. That’s on our menu. Can we have a variation of smaller rays and sharks for dessert please? Thank you. This trip turned out to be everything we hoped for and more. The weather was terrific, the water was a swimsuit friendly 29°C, and the crew and dive guides were amazing! 37 dives later all the boxes were ticked, and the marine life deep down in the Indian Ocean made a deep and ever lasting impression on all of us.
A trip to Borneo was on my bucket-list, no doubt I will soon return!. For 1 month I explored Sarawak and Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. The first thing that strikes you upon arrival is the biodiversity. It is incredible! Despite the loss of habitat due to extensive logging and palmtree plantations galore, there are a lot of national parks and remote areas where the true explorer will get his kicks!
The Rafflesia is the largest flower in the world and the symbol of Sabah, Borneo. Flowers measure up to 1 meter across. There are 55 species of Rafflesia, of which 9 are found in Borneo. Pictured here is the Rafflesia Keithii found near the village of Poring. Alongside their rarity, size and unusual appearance, it is the strange lifestyle of Rafflesias that make them so fascinating. The Rafflesia is a parasitic flower. The only visible part of the plant is a single flower that has no leaves, stems or roots.
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