How Solo Travel Changed My Life

In the begining of my traveling days, I never thought I would turn into a full fledge solo traveler and take the term ‘the world is your oyster’ to such great lengths that it became my lifestyle.

As I write this I am on a solo trip in Spain. Last year I did participate in my first group trip in about 10 years, and then of course in true Petrena fashion, after the group trip, I was off on my solo adventures once again. Previously to all of this, I backpacked all around Central and South America, and completed a solo trip across Africa, from South Africa to Egypt, carrying a portable massage table. As much as I love traveling with people, I also love traveling alone for so many reasons. Solo travel enriched my life in countless ways.

My passion for travel and adventure also has me incredibly excited for this travel event coming up in Calgary on March 19th, 2020, hosted by Nomad Junkies called #Nomadtalks, showcasing and inspiring others like you to travel further, longer.

It got me thinking of the ways solo travel have impacted my life.

1. Pushed Me Into Growth

There is nothing like showing up to a country that you know nothing about, do not speak the language and are not familiar with the culture. It is exciting, nerve wracking, at times mentally exhausting, and the best way to uplevel your mindset in a very short period of time. You are in charge of navigating, communicating, keeping yourself safe and also finding the most epic adventures that the destination has to offer. Your intuition will become sharper and shaper as you continue to use its guidance to get you places. You will be challenged in so many ways, and suddenly the comforts of home are not an option. Through it all you, you will gain massive leadership skills, and I mean leadership of self. Which is priceless, as you can not be a great leader of others if you are not first a great leader of self.

2. Got To Know Myself Very Deeply

The best way to get to know yourself is to actually spend time with just yourself. Put yourself in new and foreign situations and you really start to see what makes you react and also what makes you tic. You have plenty of time to just be in your head and in your thoughts. You begin to discover things about yourself that you never knew, or perhaps forgot about since your early days. Passions new and old will arise. It is almost as if epiphany after epiphany happens. You return far more grounded in yourself, your values and who you are then you could have ever imagined. For this relationship with myself, I am forever grateful to my solo travel experiences.

3. More Connected With People As A Whole

This for me was so amazing. There was countless times where I have been in very remote places, and also very metropolitan places that I do not speak the language, and they also do not speak my language. Yet, through alot of charades, broken languages and at times frusteration as we had so much we wanted to say, we were still able to communicate. I formed deep bonds with people all over the globe not speaking the same language at all. Nowadays things are even easier as we have google translate. Last year when I was solo in Zanzibar, I met another solo female traveler from Russia who didn’t speak a word of English, and my Russian is also non-existent. Thanks to google translate we had the best time and lots of endless laughs. Picture the two of us having a cocktail at the bar and passing a phone back and forth cracking up. My biggest lesson in this respect is that no matter where we are in the world, people are people. We can be very different in values and beliefs, but at the end of the day we are all the same. When you realize that, you can connect with virtually anyone, and that is a beautiful feeling.

4. Greater Appreciation For The World

Unless we get out from our little bubble, we will never see all the endless beautiful and amazing things this world has to discover. Alot of times we can get stuck under the impression that the world is a very scary place, so we play it extra safe and don’t venture off too far. For myself, the further I have gone the further I want to go and the more beauty I find, the more beauty I want to discover. Of course there are dangers, and we must use our wits about things, but we should never let fear take over and stop us from discovering all of lifes splendors.

I have had the pleasure of staying with locals in the townships of South Africa, to rural villages across the continent and likewise in Central and South America. Places where most other travelers won’t go because they are told never to visit there unless you are on a tour. I prefer getting the real experience, so in my solo traveling history I have always made friends with locals and families who invited me to come and stay. When you are there with locals from the community, you are always well taken care of. Many times people endlessly thanked me for coming as that never happens. I have gained such an apprecation for everything this world has to offer. There is so much heart opening beauty.

5. Proved To Me That The Only Cure For The Travel Bug Is To Travel More

Those of you who have gotten biten by it know – the travel bug is relentless. There is no real cure. You can simply put it into hibernation for a bit by giving it a taste of what it loves so much. I feel like I was born with the travel bug, it was engrained in my being. At times it calms down and I settle for awhile, but that never lasts forever as when he doesn’t get his travel fix he begins to awaken from his slumber demanding some adventure. The travel bugs appetite is insatiable. Of course I have also grown to love my travel bug, so I like to be a good host. I mean what else can I do, he seems to be with me for life. Plus, the cure also happens to be what sets my soul on fire. Why work against some things, when it is so much easier to work with them.

Has solo travel been something that you want to discover for yourself as well?

Something I didn’t have when I began my global travel was tools. Tools and knowledge that would have made the whole process even more smooth. I just jumped right in and went for it, which is also great. I love learning as I go, but it is even better to have some mental preperation and also know your options.

If you dream of traveling for 6 months or longer, then knowing your options and how to make it happen, will help immensely. If you are interested in learning more about the nomadic lifestyle then I definetely suggest checking the #Nomadtalks event that will be happening in Calgary. Nomad Junkies will be hosting their first ever event in Western Canada presented by International Experience Canada, and in partnership with Tourisme Alberta on March 19th. I am super excited to also announce that I will be a guest speaker at the event.

Tickets are available here.

I will also be hosting a giveaway on my facebook page, so go give that a follow if you want to be kept upto date on how to win your seats!

The event will consist of three talks, all of them travel related, and all full of amazing tools to get you on your way to treking the globe.

The first talk will be by David Xiao of Trailing Adventures. His talk is ‘Hiking from Mexico to Canada: Everything You Need to Know to Trek the Pacific Crest Trail‘. David is an adventure blogger and has great inspiration to share. This is an amazing trek that I would even love to do one day. I am very excited to learn about this.

The second talk will be by Safia & Emilie from Nomad Junkies. Their talk is ‘Work Your Way Around the World: How to Make the Most of Your Working Holiday Visa‘. Being the founders of Nomad Junkies, these two ladies have done loads of traveling and have a wealth of knowledge about how to work and travel. Working holiday visa’s are amazing. I have had one myself before. It is such a great way to travel further, longer. So if that is what you want, this talk will be for you.

The third talk will be by none other then myself! My talk is ‘ The Ultimate Guide to Solo Travel: Wild Stories from a Woman Who Travelled the World‘. Solo travel is my jam. I have had some insane and also completely magical experiences. I have learnt the right and wrong way to do things, and I am excited to share all the knowledge I have gained on my global adventures.

The MC for the event is Rudy Desjardins of Radio-Canada’s Le Cafe Show.

There is an incredible giveaway too!

You could win a 1 week surf & yoga retreat in El Transito, Nicaragua.

The winner will be randomly picked on stage at the event on March 19th. So get your ticket!!

See you there!

Massive thank you to Nomadjunkies for collaborating on this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I share from personal experience.

Time to pack our bags!

The Most Beautiful Village In Spain – Fornalutx, Mallorca

An idyllic mountain village sprawled in the mountain range of the Serra de Tramuntana is precisely what you can expect when you visit Fornalutx. The spectacular views from the village are what dreams are made of.

When I was informed of this village that has claimed the title of ‘The most beautiful village in Spain‘ on two separate awards occasions, I knew I must see it for myself.

It is located very near to the town of Sollér on the west coast of the island. To reach Sollér from Palma you can drive or take a bus. I took the 40 minute bus ride which came to a total of €5.40 return trip, as I intended to walk from Sollér to Fornalutx. To reach Fornalutx you can also drive, however there is limited parking in the village, so in the high season this could be a problem. You can take a bus, or like I did, enjoy the beautiful 40 minute scenic trek from Sollèr. The scenery along the journey is in a sense – mindblowing. The picturesque landscape makes one feel as though you are walking through a real life painting.

The trails are very early marked so you will not get lost on the journey.

As I approached Fornalutx, the small village of 700 inhabitants that was sprawling down the mountainside looking so perfectly nestled between the mountains, I could not help but feel in complete awe.

I was surrounded by the many orange and lemon trees and the blossoming almond trees. It was pure magic.

The history of Fornalutx beginnings dates back to over 1000 years, to a time when it was an Arab farmstead. The gothic church in the village dates back to 1639. The villages architecture from the 13th century after the Catalan conquests has remained virtually unspoilt and is also why the village is known as an architectural jewel. At one time Fornalutx was actually a part of Sollèr, however in 1837 the village gained its independence.

Once you enter the village you will be welcomed by narrow winding streets, stone houses and the most beautiful stone steps.

The square known as Plaza de España has a couple of cafes, a small food store and a bakery. It is a great spot to just relax in the tranquil atmosphere. This is a small village however there are a good handful of restaurants to choose from. They range from local Mallorcan cuisine to Italian and Indian.

Fornalutx is also a great starting point for many exceptional hikes. It is right on the flanks of the Puig Major, which is the highest mountain on the island with an altitude of 1,445 meters. I did partake in a short 1 hour hike up a trail which brought to me an incredible view of the mountains and valley. The trails are easy to use as they are more like steps and very easy to navigate as they are also all marked.

After my hike, I sat on the terrace at the restaurant Ca N’Antuna where there was the most incredible view. It was the terrace that caught my eye as I was passing by and inclined me to go and bask on it. I did not actually eat here, I just enjoyed a nice cold caña. However, the menu boasted plenty of Mallorcan dishes and I was told they make an incredible paella.

I would absolutely set a whole day aside to come and enjoy the history, architecture, hiking and then finish it off with some local cuisine on a stunning terrace taking the unforgettable view. This whole experience had such a romantic feel. With a good selection of hotels for such a small destination, it makes for a great place to book a romantic getaway.

After visiting Fornalutx, I can absolutely see why it has won the title of ‘The Most Beautiful Village In Spain‘ on two different occasions. It is small on size and very big in beauty. An absolute bucket list must if you are visiting the island.

A Luxury Stay In Radium Hot Springs

Steaming hot springs and refreshing outdoor pools aplenty, that is exactly what you will find when you visit Radium Hot Springs Village in British Columbia. The drive into Radium from Calgary was absolutely beautiful. I had not been there since I was a child, so everything was new to me. I was actually shocked that it was such a short drive from Calgary and that I had not visited more often.

As you cruise along the highway the mountains sprawl on the sides of the winding roads. On the outskirts of Radium, the road is carved through mountain walls. It feels so majestic and dreamy. I was driving through it all, with the snow lightly floating down, and in complete awe of the beauty that was engulfing my eyes.

The destination was Bighorn Meadows Resort. It is different than your typical resort, as these are self-contained condos. That being said, these are not just any condos, they are luxury condos. There is the opportunity to own a condo, or you can just spoil yourself and your loved ones with a rental getaway. I would not mind owning a holiday home here in the slightest.

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The condos are incredibly spacious, much grander then you would expect walking up to the door. As you enter, the long hall leads past the two bedrooms onward to the open concept kitchen, dining and living room area. The view from the windows is spectacular.20191217_1132124108673947330798273.jpg

The fireplace is the perfect place to sit and unwind on a chilly wintry evening. As soon as I laid my eyes on it, I knew I would be planting myself right in front of it with my slippers on to unwind for the evening.

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Why settle for one fire? Go ahead and double it up.

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There was the most amazing welcome package waiting for me. It had everything a lady could ask for upon arriving. A welcome package after my own heart.

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Plus a fridge and countertop stocked with snacks.

They do take great pride in making everyone at their resort feel extra special. Whether you are a condo owner on the property or a rental guest of a beautiful suite. They will tailor things to your individual wants or needs.

The kitchen is fully equipped with everything down to a blender. If you stay for two weeks you will have everything you need to make gourmet meals, or even just enjoy a light meal with a view.

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The balcony boasts a fantastic view as well as a barbeque and it makes it easy to envision gatherings with family and friends there.

The bedrooms have the most comfortable beds, and each room also has its own TV.

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There are two bathrooms, one connected to each bedroom. The bathrooms are stocked with organic toiletries, which of course my nature-loving heart was instantly impressed with.

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The master bathroom was huge. It was almost the same size as the bedroom. Hands down one of the largest and most spacious bathrooms I have ever used.

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There is a jet tub in there to ease your tired muscles from outdoor adventures. If that is not enough there are even the outdoor hot tubs. Those were my happy place.

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They are located right outside the gym and on the other side of the fence from the little ice rink.

A good workout, followed by a nice soak in the outdoor hot tubs surrounded by the snowy mountainous landscape – pure magic.

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This destination is a golfers haven, as there are 2 golf courses right there and 12 others in the area, along with ski hills, lakes and year-round mountain activities. Did I mention hot springs?

The Radium Hot Springs pools are very accessible and nearby. When I say near, don’t forget we are in a village. Everything is near when you are here.

If you want to get more rustic and immerse yourself in nature you can take an hour’s drive to the Lussier Hot Springs. Set on the side of a river, you can soak in the mineral-rich hot springs and then enjoy a cold jump into the river. Every hot spring you visit will welcome you with the aroma of sulphur, or to some, it may be more like rotten eggs. It doesn’t take long for your nostrils to become accustomed to it. Once you’re in the water all your woes will melt away and the scent will be a thing of the past.

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Don’t forget to remove your silver jewellery or the minerals in the water will turn your rings some very interesting colours. Nothing a good polish can’t fix.

A quick pitstop at the Fairmont Hot Springs is not a bad idea either. You can do a short hike up the mountain and see where the hot springs originated and take in an incredible view.

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The condo at the Bighorn Meadows Resort had such a home away from home feel and was so comfortable. My trip was to short and I didn’t go explore any of the culinary scenes in the area. I simply took in the idyllic setting and fabulous ambiance that the resort had to offer. When something is that you good, sometimes you just need to bask in it. This was a place that was checked off my bucket list only to be put back on again.

Waterton National Park – A Southern Alberta Gem

The windiest place in Canada. That is what Waterton National Park is known as being. Having clocked winds of up to 170km an hour. It is also known for its mind-blowing beauty. Prior to this trip, I had no idea of either of those things. How on earth did I not know?! Surely I have been living under a rock.

A short 3 hour drive from Calgary and you will find yourself in the little town of Waterton. The drive itself was beautiful. As you enjoy the country landscape, suddenly you find yourself amongst the wind farms.

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It was the first time in my life I was surrounded by so many wind turbines. So many firsts for me on this trip. It is incredible how majestic these turbines look and feel when you are up close and personal with them. I was in total awe.

As you head into the gates at Waterton National Park your eyes become immediately fixated to the view of the lake engulfed in the mountain range. It doesn’t take long for you to recognize that you are in a very special place.

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The first structure that greets you upon entering the town of just over 100 people is the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel.

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Established in 1927, it has an old world charm to it. It also has the most picturesque view in the whole town. It is as if you don’t want to blink, so you do not miss a moment of the splendour.

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Although sometimes you DO have to close your eyes and feel all the energy surrounding you.

The high tea at the hotel is something not to be missed. An elegant session of pure indulgence, with a view that is equally an indulgence for your eyes.

As you stroll through the quaint little town, the feelings of peace and tranquillity overcome you. My soul was feeling relaxed simply being amongst it all.

I stayed at the Bayshore Inn, which is a hotel that boasts lovely views of the lake. You are short walking distance to all the local restaurants, so it is not a problem to dine.

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Cameron Falls is a short walk from downtown, a beautiful spot where you can enjoy a bit of nature and take some nice photos while on a leisurely stroll.

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The area is known for its fantastic and very accessible hiking. It is amazing to see the aftereffects of the forest fire that nearly wiped out the town in 2017.

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The charred remains with the blanket of regrowth sprouting from the earth show all too well just how big and scary that fire must have been. That being said, the hiking is still incredible. An activity you must partake in when in Waterton National Park.

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Hiking to Bertha Falls is a great 2 hour excursion that is the perfect way to spend a bit of your day. The sights along the way will not dissapoint.

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I happened to be there during the Taste of Waterton food festival and part of their festival includes a pie cruise on the lake. It is exactly what it sounds like, a boat ride with pie. This time was a very special cruise as Country music star Paul Brandt hosted it.

Paul Brandt spoiled us with some music, and we cruised over to the United States side of the lake and back.

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It was anyway exceptional way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Waterton National Park is a very special area. In some ways, I am glad I didn’t know about Waterton prior to this visit as the shock and awe of its beauty went far past what my expectations would have been if I had heard of it. It left my imagination wide open. A bucket list must for all nature enthusiasts.

If you would like to watch my vlog about the visit you can have a peak right here.

The Enchanting Bridal Veil Falls In British Columbia

Strolling through what feels to be an enchanted forest full of mystical creatures and possibly little fairies flying around. That is the exact feel you will get when exploring the woodsy area around Bridal Veil Falls in British Columbia.

From the minute you enter the wooded area the smell of nature is intoxicating. It instantly fills your nostrils and then engulfs your whole being.

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With the streams effortlessly flowing the sound of water will create ambient music that will entice your ears. I don’t know about you; I find the sound of flowing water so soothing.

Ferns sprawl across the land in many areas. Which could also explain the amazing, clean, crisp, aromatic air.

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It was actually my first time in my life seeing wild ferns in their natural habitat. I am so accustomed to seeing ferns in homes as opposed to out in nature.

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The walk to the waterfalls is a very short distance. As you approach the waterfalls, you can feel the energy pulsing.

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Even with small waterfalls the energy always runs high, or right off the side of a cliff. It always amazes me how majestic waterfalls of all sizes feel.

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At Bridal Veil falls you can easily hike right up to the base of the falls where you will feel the mist lightly falling on your skin. While you sit there basking in all the splendour, you can feel your soul recharging. If you close your eyes, you can heighten your senses and absorb it even deeper into your cells. Like a powerful surge of pure healing bliss penetrating into the depths of your soul.

Of course, the shoes came off. I can’t be in the enchanted forest and not do some grounding a tree hugging.

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I was also keeping my eyes open for the infamous Sasquatch, as apparently, this area has had many Sasquatch sightings over the years. I am very intrigued about this whole Sasquatch possibility.

Have a peek at the video I made of my visit to the falls.

If you find yourself in the Chilliwack area in British Columbia, then a pit stop at Bridal Veil Falls to stroll around the mystical forest is highly recommended.

My Top 5 Activities While Visiting Nungwi, Zanzibar

Sometimes you dream of being in the most magical place, surrounded by an endless array of beauty to ignite your senses. Then suddenly one day you wake up and you are on the island of Zanzibar. Your dream is now your reality.

Ten years ago I was privileged enough to spend many months in Zanzibar, diving every day and enjoying the postcard life. Since that time, Zanzibar has always been in my dreams. I knew I had to return one day; I didn’t know when that would be. Then recently I woke up and there I was.

Well, maybe after a few plane rides across the world, then a small plane ride across the Country of Tanzania and a good sleep from all the travel, I woke up and there I was. Back in the place that left an unwavering imprint on my mind.

 

 

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It is always surreal to return to a place after so long. So many things change, and so much new infrastructure goes up. With infrastructure also comes more people, and life seems so much busier than I once knew there. It took me a day to absorb it all.

One thing that has not changed is the beauty. It is still there like the most amazing buffet you have ever feasted your eyes on.

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Zanzibar is known for its diving, and for its spices. Its nickname is spice island. Diving and spice tours are popular activities when visiting the island. I did none of this, this time around.

This time was for relaxing, being present in the moment, and taking in every second.

One thing I should add is there are no ATM’s in Nungwi, so you must bring enough cash to fund your whole trip. There are a few places that accept credit card, not many, so I would not rely on that. The closest place to withdraw money is in Stonetown.

That being said, here are my top 5 activities that were simple and brought me a great deal of pleasure, while I enjoyed life in and around Nungwi, Zanzibar. Simple yet strong enough reason’s for me to recommend that you take a getaway to this incredible destination right now.

  1. Enjoy the beaches, grounding with the earth, and swimming

I think this goes without saying; I am saying it anyway. Zanzibar has some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever set your eyes on and dip your toes in.

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The water is such a crystal clear blue, so warm and refreshing, it will not only cleanse your body but also your soul. Some of the best grounding/earthing is done when you are barefoot on the wet beach. You get the ultimate recharge from the earth. Mother nature has it on offer and she is so generous with her giving, that it is hard not to embrace it to the fullest. It was my daily rejuvenation.

2. Walk to Kendwa

Four Kilometres from Nungwi is my favourite beach on the North coast – Kendwa beach.

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When the tide is out, the walk from Nungwi to Kendwa is absolutely amazing. It takes about 30 – 35 minutes to walk, yet it is pure bliss every step of the way. Not only is the view incredible at every angle it is a great way to get a bit of extra exercise. Especially when you are relaxing and enjoying the chill life. I did this walk almost daily. The beach in Kendwa is so vast and with a lot fewer people than Nungwi beach. The swimming is pristine, and extra inviting. It is the perfect spot to relax and enjoy an afternoon.

3. Enjoy all the amazing food

From the seafood to the street food your tastebuds are in for a treat. This is the time to enjoy every morsel. Take the word ‘diet’ out of your vocabulary and just indulge. If you eat seafood you are about to be in seafood heaven. Every day the fresh catches are prepared for your delight. My favourite in Zanzibar is the Octopus. It is the most tender you will ever have in your life.

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Mama Mia – one of my favourite restaurants in Nungwi, they boast an incredible view, and they accept credit card.

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The street food and local restaurants are equally delicious and a fraction of the price you will pay in the touristy restaurants. Be prepared to eat though, the local restaurants are not shy with their portions.

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Let’s not forget about the fresh fruit. You can go anywhere in the village and buy fresh, beautiful, sweet tropical fruit in abundance. I could not get enough fresh passionfruit juice. It was a splurge on the daily.

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4. Swim with turtles

I never knew that swimming with turtles was on my bucket list until I did it. At the Nungwi Natural Aquarium, you can swim with rescued turtles. These turtles were caught in fishermen’s nets and injured. The aquarium will actually give money to the fishermen for the turtles, they will rehabilitate them and then release them back into the wild.

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They live the good life in the aquarium, getting loads of love and food all day long. They are such gentle creatures.

Although, move out of the way when seaweed gets tossed in as they will push their way past you to get a mouthful. I even got a turtle bite on my arm. It did not break the skin, just nipped me with a hard pinch. Not his fault, there was a piece of seaweed right next to my arm. I was actually proud of my turtle bite. Hands down one of the coolest things I have ever done.

5. Take in all the sunsets

The sunsets are stunning. It is the refreshing cool down from a hot day. The finishing of another beautiful day of being alive and the welcoming of the evening ambiance.

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I love a stroll on the beach in the evening. The stars light up the sky, and when the moon is fuller, it lights up the earth in such a magical way. As you watch the sun disappear over the horizon, you can not help but reflect and bask in the beauty of life.

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I will be back!

This trip to Zanzibar was about filling my soul, being present and overflowing with high vibe energy. The more you have, the more you have to share. Not every activity has to be extravagant when you travel. It is the simple things that when appreciated will bring the most pleasure.

Volunteering, Community and Connection in Tanzania

Giving back and supporting others – that’s what makes the world go round. In fact, I forgot just how much immersing myself in a different culture, giving back and working alongside the people sets my soul on fire. The sharing of energies in these situations amazing.

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While in Tanzania I took part in a volunteer project with UGO Travel For Change and we partnered with The Dare Women’s Foundation. It has been so many years since I partook in a group trip. Yet the values of UGO Travel For Change spoke to my core, so it was a no brainer to go on this adventure with them. Plus the group of women(and one guy) on this trip fit together like a perfect puzzle. It was amazing how much we all complimented each other as a group. I would for sure join UGO again.

The Dare Women’s Foundation does incredible work in Tanzania. It is an NGO working to empower Tanzanian women and girls, with a focus on rural areas, through poverty alleviation, social justice, economic empowerment, and gender equality.

The foundation had a piece of land donated to them, and with it, they plan on building a home where women who need shelter can live, heal and work on building a sustainable future. We came to help build them a fence to enclose their property.

I love hands-on work. There is something so satisfying about getting dirty and doing physical labour. Especially when you are doing it alongside an amazing community of locals. It was very hot, and that took to get used to, but the sweatiness just added to the whole experience. This is literally where the term ‘sweat hot mess’ is very fitting.

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Every day the mama’s would come and out of nowhere they would build fires on the ground and whip up the most incredible meals. I mean unbelievable meals. Makes me think I need to step up my game next time I am camping.

Song and dance accompanied all the tasks and even the bus rides. There was always singing going on. It always amazes me how the people in Africa truly know how to enjoy life. Making the most of every day and every moment.

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I would have to say the cement was the hardest part of the work. First, we had to mix it on the ground and then we had to carry it in buckets to the fence where we then poured into the ground to create the cement base. Most of the buckets didn’t have proper handles so that would be why I would say it was the hardest. It was more so just painful for the hands.

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The baby goats made my day – every day! The neighbours were kind enough to let us use their outhouse for the duration of the project and on their little property; they had cows, goats and chickens. I had no idea that playing with baby goats is one of my absolute favourite things to do in life. Now I know.

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Before we finished the project, we each planted a tree on the property. The significance being we leave a piece of us that will grow and be something beautiful when we return.

On our final day, we had a farewell party. All the mamas came as well as the construction guys for lunch and a little ceremony so we could thank them for all of their amazing hospitality. We all pitched in to prepare the food with as much love as they used to prepare all of our food.

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We sang we ate, we danced, and we said our heartfelt ‘see you again’ to each other.

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It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It encompassed so many of my passions all in one and it ignited this massive desire to incorporate more of this into my life once again. It is a good reminder we should always take the time to do something we love, whatever lights us up, even if it is just something brief, as that light we gain from it will overflow to all areas of our life.

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The more you give the more you get, and I am starting 2019 off full of gratitude. It is about more than just giving back. On the deeper side, it is about community and connection on a global scale.

Summiting Mount Kilimanjaro -The Trek That Changed My Life

A physical, mental, emotional and spiritual journey that will change your life.

Walking up a mountain. No big deal right?
At least one would think it was no big deal until you find yourself immersed in it all and in a very different reality.

Mount Kilimanjaro has been on my bucket list since I first laid eyes on it when I was doing my solo trip across Africa with my portable massage table. I knew I would one day be back to conquer it, I just didn’t know when. Then the opportunity arose recently in my life, years after my solo trip across the continent and it was suddenly time.

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We chose the 7-day trek up the Machame route. Not the most difficult route, but absolutely one of the most challenging.

From day 1 we were amongst some of the most incredible scenery.

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We began at the lush rain forest, and as we progressively got higher in altitude the vegetation continually changed. The landscape and beauty were spectacular every day.

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I was totally blown away by the porters running up and down the mountain with very heavy loads. We would leave camp they would pack up and run ahead of us to make sure everything was ready for our arrival.

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Blown away, and incredibly grateful. That is not an easy job.
We had some long days in the beginning with a duration of 6 – 7 hours hikes, as we got higher the hikes got shorter yet more intense particularly due to the altitude.

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We always had snacks and warm drinks waiting for us when we reached our next camp.

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It is about around day 3 that most people start to feel the effects of the altitude. I made sure to have all of my natural supplements and remedies with me in order to prevent altitude sickness as much as possible. As we get higher our blood begins to thicken which in turns starts to make us ill. So I had plenty of natural things in my little health kit that helps to thin the blood. It all worked so well, I had my moments, but really nothing too bad at all.

Altitude sickness comes in waves. At one point you can feel totally fine, then suddenly you feel awful, and then shortly after that you feel fine again. It is like a roller coaster ride all in itself.

The most important things are – rest and water.

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We chose the absolute best company to guide us. They are called Safari to Summit, and they continually went above and beyond for us on the daily. Our safety and health were number one, and the food blew us away every day.

Literally, the chef also known as ‘the stomach engineer’ prepared our meals in a tent on a propane stove, and the things he would produce were what dreams were made of on a cold, strenuous journey up Kilimanjaro. No matter the elevation, the food was always on point.

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Summit night was tough. My lips were cracked, my body feeling the pressure, and my mind having to keep strong. We started our last leg of the journey at 11pm. It was dark, cold, and where the real challenge was about to begin.

About an hour in is when I started to feel the altitude. There were some that were vomiting, others with severe headaches and body aches. For myself when it would pummel me like a crashing wave, it would come on as tight pressure in my chest and body making it very difficult to breathe along with vertigo that would make it hard to focus as well as giving me the feeling I was about to fall down the mountain. It was extremely tough, to say the least. I had to stop a couple times to even out and give myself a pep talk. I shed a few tears and asked my body if it could go on. It said yes. So onward I marched.

As we got higher the weather became more brutal. It was blizzarding and so cold that even with two pairs of gloves and two pairs of socks plus hand and feet warmers, I was still so cold my fingers and toes were burning with the icy bite of frost. Pushing through the last few hours was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my whole life.

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Having an incredible team of support absolutely helped make the success of this possible. At times I was the support and at other times I was receiving the support. This time I joined a group trip with UGO Travel for Change, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

This accomplishment put so many things into perspective for me. I found a drive in myself that is so much bigger than I ever thought before. I can clearly see I am capable of so much more.

The journey down the mountain was split between two days, and I will say aside from the summit the trek down was the hardest. It was rough and my knees almost couldn’t take it. I was ready to throw in the towel and say I couldn’t go on. It was so painful. Although clearly, that wasn’t an option. How in the heck else was I going to get down?
On the last morning of the trek, we were treated to a farewell song and dance by the guides and crew. They were so amazing and what a high vibe way to say goodbye.

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My knees were swollen for days after and I could barely walk. Going down is no joke. This adventure turned out to be more than just a physical challenge. It was physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

I had so much support to help me achieve this incredible feat. I had the intention to fly this flag at the summit to show my gratitude to all those who supported me in so many ways. However, I never expected this to be as difficult as it was, nor with such extreme weather conditions. My time at the summit was so short as it was unbearable and my flag was in my bag that one of the porters took to carry when the altitude was nearly doing me in. I still flew my flag with nothing less than overflowing gratitude when I returned to base camp, and it was with us all at the top.

Metaphorically speaking, here is what I learned about life from this amazing experience – having been crashed on by waves of altitude/challenges along the way, having to stop and shed some tears a few times, check in with myself and have strong self talk to keep going onward and upward to finally reach the top. The summit. Where I shed more tears, this time of joy. It showed me that in life when we are climbing our mountains, building our success and working to achieve greatness, it will not always be easy, the hardships will come in waves, and we may cry a few times along the way. Yet if we can keep our eye on our goal, our mindset strong while being gentle on ourselves through the hardships, we can do anything and everything that we set our mind to. Ending up at the exact destination we were reaching for or somewhere even better.

Northwest Territories – The Land That Lures You

There are some places in this world that hold special places in our hearts. A place that heals us, rejuvenates us and sets us free. These places seem to hold an energizing power over us like none other. Perhaps it is because we match the vibration of the land. Or, perhaps it has been such a part of our life that it seems to be engrained in our being.

In the essence of it all, one of those magical places is the Northwest Territories. The land where I roamed as a child and where I grew into a woman.

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With vast seemingly untouched forests, a multitude of serene lakes, rivers, a surprising amount of waterfalls, and an abundance of wildlife – you will be amazed and wowed at every turn.

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It is the land of the midnight sun in the summers and has a sky of colourful Northern lights that will dance for you all winter long. A splendour that makes the cold and dark winters more bearable and inviting.

The sunsets will pull you into a trance that will take you straight into a glistening stary night. You will be treated to endless shooting stars whizzing through the sky.

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When you stand amongst the trees with the wind gently breezing by, you will be surrounded and cradled by the healing energy and interconnectedness of it all. The sounds will soothe your soul.

This land is filled with the rich traditions of our ancestors and the spirits of the animals.

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The pulsing of the land will fill you, penetrate your cells, and lure you to a place that feels so much like home in a dream that you often dream.

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Northwest Territories is the land the sings the song of your soul.

Chasing Goals, Being Vunerable and Owning Life

The number one reason we do not create the life of our dreams is that we allow fear to hold us back. Fear of success, fear of judgement, fear of unworthiness. The majority of the time we would rather live in complacency, never feeling truly fulfilled in life rather than getting uncomfortable and making magic happen in our lives.

What if we just dropped fears and limiting beliefs, got out of our own way and just ran the race straight to our greatest desires. What if we then totally blew ourselves away and what we were able to accomplish?! How about finally excepting that we are all worthy of greatness and there is an endless supply of abundance out there for us to tap into.

There was a time where I pushed myself to the ultimate limit. I did the highest commercial bungee jump in the world located in South Africa.

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I will never forget how terrified I was. I stood at the edge, putting every effort in to back out. Yet the guys working the jump gave me such amazing support. They talked me through it and would not let me give up. They wanted to see me succeed.

As soon as I was able to overcome my mental limitations and jump off the edge, the feeling of total freedom came over me. An incomparable feeling.

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I had tears of joy at what I had accomplished within myself, and I could not stop thanking those guys when I arrived back up on the ledge.

They had just assisted me in one of the biggest transformations of my life. Overjoyed was an understatement.

I am now on the most incredible and powerful personal development journey of my life. In my journey, I have found my value. Found my voice. For too long in my life, I was allowing myself to feel unworthy, afraid of success, and I would be very hard on myself. I never would go as far as I knew I was capable of. I am sure many of you can relate to those feelings.

I know that the more I become the best version of ME, the more I am able to create a ripple effect to inspire others just like YOU to become your best. Life is a gift, and so is each one of us.

I have been setting crazy goals on this personal development journey. One’s that scare me and seem unachievable. Those are the best goals to make.

I now feel like I am back on that edge of that bungee jump. Because being this vulnerable is truly scary as heck. Yet unless you put what you want out there in the open, you will never get it.

When we choose to make magic happen in our lives, we truly can. People truly want to see each other succeed in life, no one ever gets anywhere alone.

You will be amazed at how people will willingly show up to support you if you put yourself out there and be totally vulnerable. This is to show everyone what we are all truly capable of when we put down the fear of judgement of being seen, claim what we want, and just be open to the universal flow.

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By being the best version of YOU possible, you are actually being of service to the world. As by being that amazing unapologetic you, you will create a ripple effect that will inspire and build up others to do the same.

Here is to making the impossible – possible.