Kyoto Trail – A variety of green and fresh hiking paths

Back in October 2016, I was at the last part of my Japanese trip, and I did part of the Kyoto Trail. I normally go to places with local immersion in mind, so my trip to Kyoto wasn’t going to be less. I sent a couple of CouchSurfing requests in order to get hosted and/or visit the city with the hand of a local. And the good luck was with me this time.

I had the great pleasure to meet Hiroshi (Hiro for friends), a local. Well, he isn’t really from Kyoto, but had been living there for 4 years at that time. So he knows very well the city and it’s surroundings. He and I became a good match even while talking via CouchSurfing and other messaging apps. He liked walking here and there. Getting into local places, no matter if they were very popular or not. Moving through the cities with a bycicle or on foot. And of course, hiking.

Sunset at the Eastern Kyoto Trail

Sunset viewpoint near the Eastern Kyoto Trail
Sunset viewpoint near the Eastern Kyoto Trail

The first afternoon we spent together, he brought me to a viewpoint at eastern part of the city. It is actually very near to the eastern track of the Kyoto Trail. And we enjoyed the sunset views with a small bottle of sake 🙂 Continue reading Kyoto Trail – A variety of green and fresh hiking paths

Social hiking – A Platform For Connections

“When architects want to strengthen a decrepit arch, they increase the load which is laid upon it. For thereby the parts are joined more firmly together.”

Viktor Frankel (Man’s Search For Meaning)

The Hiking “Drug”

If alcohol is a social lubricant, then hiking is a social binder. To go on a hike with a group of people, facilitates the forming of connections in a unique manner.

You’re out there in nature, committed to a mutual endeavor.

When we remove ourselves from our regular “habitat” (the city), and spend a period of time in nature, we respond immediately. Our body reacts to the change of environment as if we were on withdrawal from the city.

It’s very common to feel a sense of unease, in the first hours of a walk. That initial shift challenges our system, and makes us adapt our mindset to the new context.

To go through that transition with a group of people, has impacted me greatly during this year. I had the chance to go on hikes in Spain, Switzerland, Chile and Colombia.

Each time, with different groups or individuals in different contexts. These experiences have educated me on the “magic” of hiking.

We go in as strangers, and we leave as friends, or sometimes even brothers. Continue reading Social hiking – A Platform For Connections

Bergen hiking: The ultimate guide for the Seven Hills city

Summer Bergen hiking near Ulriken
Summer Bergen hiking near Ulriken

This Bergen hiking guide aims to be a reference with all you need to know for a great experience around Bergen. Although not the only city based around 7 hills, as you can see here, this is a very special place. A charming city, due to it’s long history, mainly related to trading and fishing. Nowadays, it’s one of the most touristic places in Norway. It’s a starting point for people who come to visit the fjords. Concretely, the 3rd longest fjord on earth, Sognefjord, is a few kilometers North from there, and is 204km long.

However, we are not going to talk about fjords this time, but about the hills of Bergen. The city was settled in a valley, surrounded by seven hills, and hiking is because of that a very common activity in the area. Probably because Norwegians are really into nature activities too.

The Seven Hills of Bergen

Although Bergen is commonly named “the city among the seven mountains”, though a bit wrongly. There are actually 9 mountains over there, which are named:

  • Ulriken (643m)
  • Fløyen (425m)
  • Løvstakken (477m)
  • Damsgårdsfjellet (284m)
  • Lyderhorn (396m)
  • Sandviksfjellet (392m)
  • Blåmanen (554m)
  • Rundemanen (568m)
  • Askøyfjellet or Kolbeinsvarden (231m)

Continue reading Bergen hiking: The ultimate guide for the Seven Hills city

Annapurna Trekking, still a challenging experience

Annapurna Base Camp
Annapurna Base Camp

During the last winter I accomplished one of my childhood’s dream. See the Himalayas and do an Annapurna Trekking or an Everest Trekking.

Why did I pick the Annapurna Massif as my first adventure in the Himalayas? Easy, I got to talk with several people while on my Eastern Asian trip and all of them agreed that it was the best choice as a first contact with the Himalayas. Basically, because it has several options.

Some people go to Poon Hill, which is the easier trek. Others do the Annapurna Base Camp or the Annapurna Circuit, which are harder and take longer. And then, there are who do them all, Poon Hill, Annapurna Base Camp and the Annapurna Circuit.

I wanted a challenge, not just to see the roof of the world. But I wasn’t so sure I’d be able to make it to the end. That was my biggest fear before I finally decided to do this trekking. Happily, I ended up sleeping at the house of a trekking guide in Kathmandu. Thanks to CouchSurfing. I didn’t know he was a guide though, since he didn’t say anything about it in his profile. Continue reading Annapurna Trekking, still a challenging experience

Kawah Ijen and it’s unexpected wonder the sulfur mines

When I first heard about Crater Ijen, or Kawah Ijen as Indonesians call it, I was going from the volcano Mount Bromo to Probolinggo, and then I was going to head to Banyuwangi, the nearest city to Kawah Ijen. Before going to Banyuwangi, I only knew that there was a volcano close to the town, but I did not know what was I going to see over there.

The first thing that the people I met in Mount Bromo told me, was that there were sulfur mines in the crater, that did not surprise me, since I had been in Japan during the previous months to my trip in Indonesia, and that was pretty common to see, although not the mines.

But what astonished me the most was when they told me that you could see blue flames at night, coming out of the sulfur mines. That really blew my mind! I was imagining the blue fire I had seen tons of times when I cooked at home with gas or when I prepared a barbecue with my friends, but I could not imagine to see that in a bigger scale. However, there were other facts that would make my hike to Kawah Ijen a deeper experience.

Sulfur mines and the lake of Kawah Ijen
Sulfur mines and the lake of Kawah Ijen

Continue reading Kawah Ijen and it’s unexpected wonder the sulfur mines